Our Home Office

November 22nd, 2010

Our White Board

Our food cache/whiteboard

*secret stuff blurred

Well, I have a little free time now, so I finally did the modification to the camper we’ve been talking about for ages. This morning, I went to Lowe’s and picked up a piece of ‘marker board’ or ‘shower board’ paneling. For $10, I got almost three times what I needed, but maybe I’ll find a use for the leftover bits before we leave Campbellsville.

Our refrigerator came with paneling that has wood grained wallpaper to match the interior of the camper. So, my quickie project of the day was to remove that paneling and replace it with hideous, white shower board. Why? Now we have a white board in our camper! Well, two actually. One on the fridge door and one on the freezer door.

I also grabbed a pack of dry erase markers with built in magnets and erasers that stick to the range hood above the stove. In theory, we can now make a grocery list as we run out of things without having to keep track of a notepad. Also, we can use it to scribble down ideas for FreeCampsites.net and not lose the darn notepad before we get around to implementing them.

A whiteboard is one of the things I miss the most from a career in IT. In my first management position, we had an 8’x4′ whiteboard that was our main organizational tool.  I’ve always needed to draw ugly pictures with incorrect labels when designing a new project whether it was software or something more hands on.

I know… there should be pictures. Before I got around to taking any, we had already covered it in scribblings regarding freecampsites.net. As such, if we had an IP lawyer, I’m sure he’d have a fit were we to post images of our plans. Actually, I’m just lazy.
Update: Picture added – super secret plans have been blurred!

Wonder if having a whiteboard in the kitchen will convince the IRS that it’s really a home office?

Rocking and rolling in Arizona

January 22nd, 2010

Whew! The weather has been pretty nutty around here lately. We spent a couple of days in Quartzsite putting up fliers for freecampsites.net and got rained on every evening. One mid-day shower caught us while out on the scooter. Fun!

Quartzsite is just not our scene. Two days would have been more than enough even if the weather had been great.  It was pretty crazy to pull into the BLM area the first night and see rigs lined up awning to awning just like a commercial campground. We had to go about a quarter mile deep into the area before we found a spot where we could get a mere hundred feet from a couple of neighbors. The next morning, we found out why the area was so ‘sparsely’ populated as the kids in the converted school bus had breakfast and blasted the MTV version of the Grateful Dead over the world’s crappiest PA system. Ah, well… at least it wasn’t polka.

This morning, we got up ‘early’ to try and make it back to Slab City by dark. Apparently, I was still on California time and not really adhering to Jenn’s schedule. Still, we got out at a reasonable time and then sat in mid-morning traffic at Quartzsite while the rain started splattering. The wind had not stopped in at least 24 hours.

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Who says eating cheap is eating crap?

December 6th, 2009

One of the biggest adjustments for me to make when we started this trip was cooking at home versus eating out every day. Jenn has risen to the occasion and made some wonderful meals, but I still had a craving for Thai food, which I used to eat several times a week. Thanks to Tony and Caro up in the Seattle Bay area, I have finally learned to make a passable curry! I’ve been making it off and on since before we headed to Alaska; and for the most part, I think I’ve got it down pat.

The first thing to do, is go to an Asian food store and pickup red curry paste. Yes, I know you can occasionally find curry paste in your chain supermarkets, but you can actually get a large enough container to make several dozen meals for the same price as the tiny one meal container you might find in a chain supermarket.  In fact, the last curry paste I bought was in the neighborhood of $6 for a 35 ounce container. I don’t recall off the top of my head what the tiny containers you might find in supermarkets are, but I’d guess they’re under 2 ounces for a similar price. We hit an absolute dearth of Asian food stores in Alaska and thankfully couldn’t find the tiny containers either or I’m not sure I’d be able to live with myself.

Okay, that’s the big secret. I don’t have an actual curry paste recipe as that’s way more advanced than I want to be in the kitchen. Once you’ve got the obscure shopping out of the way, it’s one of the easiest meals you can make and still look fancy. As long as you’re in the Asian food store anyway, you might as well grab some coconut milk and whatever you like in your stir fry. Often the prices there are better than chain supermarkets anyway.

You can make stir fry, right? If so, curry is a breeze. Just make stir fry anyway you like it (but without soy or teriyaki sauce!). Depending on what we have on hand, I will use chicken or pork, broccoli, carrots, green pepper, onion, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, baby corn and bean sprouts. I recommend adding things like baby corn, mushrooms, bean sprouts and bamboo shoots last in order to keep from overcooking them. Once you’re done with the stir fry, set it aside and start on the curry sauce.

My personal method is to add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the pan over low heat and squirt out some curry paste into the oil. How much is up to you. I tend to like it fairly spicy so add perhaps 2-3 teaspoons. Next, add in coconut milk. Anywhere from half a can to a whole can for two people will work – depending on how hungry you are and how ‘soupy’ you like your curry. Getting the right amount of curry paste and coconut milk may take a little trial and error, but you can always add more paste if it’s not spicy enough and more coconut milk if it’s too spicy.

The next bits are optional, but I’ll just tell you the way I do things. If you want a more panang style curry, you can stop right here.  For a sweeter curry, add about a tablespoon of sugar and stir it in. For an even more diverse mix of flavors, I usually add some small pineapple chunks along with pineapple juice. Depending on what you’ve added to your stir fry, you may or may not need to add a little salt. Bean sprouts definitely negate the need for extra salt. Just let this simmer and cook to your own taste. Remember that the flavor will be a bit diluted by your stir fry and rice.

Once you’re happy with the curry sauce, toss your stir fry in and let it simmer for a few minutes. That’s pretty much all there is to it. Serve over rice. We just use white rice, but get as fancy as you want.

A Railroad Tycoon’s RV

February 21st, 2009

Jay Gould's Exquisite Railway Car

What do you get when you combine one of Jenn’s favorite games (Railroad Tycoon) and the RV lifestyle? You get a railroad car fitted out for fulltiming! That’s just what we found as we were passing through Jefferson, Texas a couple of weeks ago. The Garden Club has acquired the personal car of Jay Gould, a railroad tycoon, and restored it to something close to it’s original splendor.

The car had four staterooms for passengers, two of which were adjoining with a bathroom, including tub and shower between them. The others all had their own plumbing, even if a bit primitive by modern standards. There was a couch as well as a pullman bed in each of the staterooms. The car would be able to take on water at the same water depots that the train used. We didn’t ask, but I assume the black and gray water would have been simply dumped along the tracks as soon as it was generated.

There were two rooms devoted to cooking with a pass through between them. Based on the layout, I would assume that the car originally had bunks for two servants, but only one of the kitchen cars still had a pullman berth at the ceiling. The icebox had something I think we could all use today, a glass door. How often have you opened the fridge and stared at what was there while deciding what you wanted?

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Happy Birthday Anniversary Jenn!

February 7th, 2009

Today, Jenn is celebrating the *CENSORED* anniversary of her 24th birthday! Somebody help me light all these candles. Sorry for the late post hun, I’ll get in the kitchen and burn you a birthday dinner right away to make up for it.

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