Saturday, May 26, 2012

Camping Must-Haves From Great-Grandma's Kitchen

Walk down the small-appliance aisle at any big-box store, and you'll see a million and one electrical gadgets designed to brew coffee or heat water. You probably own some of them.

But for true Girl Camping versatility, nothing beats the very same kind of large, enameled pot that Great-Grandma used atop the woodstove in her kitchen.

No power? No problem. The enameled coffee pot will provide coffee and heat up water for you under the most primitive of camping conditions. Its capacity yields enough coffee to satisfy all the earliest risers, and enough hot water to do a pan of dishes.

Any heat source will work: campfire, propane camping stove, gas-powered trailer cooktop, or an electric hotplate. For traveling, use the pot to transport your coffee or tea plus oven mitt for handling when hot, and you're all set.

Another staple from Great-Grandma's kitchen, which did not have indoor plumbing: the enameled washbasin. (Note hole in rim, at left, for hanging the basin on a wall when not in use.)

Even if you have a kitchenette and sink in your vintage trailer, chances are you'll prefer to wash camping dishes, pots and pans outside your trailer. The enameled basin is perfect for this, especially when paired with a stiff-bristle dish brush (also like Great-Grandma had) and a pour of hot water from that enameled coffee pot we just talked about.

A basin like this can serve others purposes when you're camping. You can use it for mixing a salad or a batch of biscuit dough. It can be a personal washbasin, or a mini-sink for washing your hair. You can fill with ice and bottled drinks. Or soak your tired feet in it with some warm water and soaking salts. Or refresh yourself on a hot day with a cool-water foot soak. Or set a plant in it so as not to stain a tablecloth. Or...(no end to the possibilities).

Great-Grandma had no choice but to function with utilitarian items such as these--in a way, her everyday life was akin to camping all the time (outhouse and chamber pot included).

But that just means that the enameled coffee pot and washbasin have been put to the supreme test and can therefore be pronounced...


Friday, May 25, 2012

Vintage Trailer Tour: 1967 Aladdin

Show us someone who's addicted to spotting vintage travel trailers, either in person or online, and we'll show you someone who's absolutely dying to get a peek at the inside.

Wish granted!

With its steeply sloped front and slanted roof, this trailer has the unmistakeable silhouette of an Aladdin from the 1960s--1967, to be exact with the trailer above.

The trailer belongs to Miss Cheryl, who also answers to Smoochie.

As you step in, you see that behind that sloped front of the Aladdin is a gaucho (sofa that extends to become a bed), plus shelf or kid bunk above.

Looking left from the door, the kitchen galley and potty room are on the street side of the trailer, and the  convertible dinette/bed area is on the curb side. At 16 feet, this trailer is roomy enough for two friends or a couple to share, and perfect for taking the grandkiddos camping with you.

Thanks to Miss Cheryl for letting us take photos of her trailer. Wave if you see her go by! And, now you'll know what to expect for a layout should you ever encounter another vintage Aladdin travel trailer of this era.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How to Be a Wonderful Girl Camping Guest

It's full-swing Girl Camping season, at last, and we hope you have lots of invitations that'll give you places to go and people to see.

Whenever you are on someone's guest list, or are signed up for an event, there's some unspoken etiquette involved. If you keep the following in mind, you'll always shine and be thought of as a wonderful Girl Camping guest.

* Mind your RSVPs. Always confirm or cancel with your hostess or event chairman, not just the campground or RV park, just as soon as your plans are firm either way. Number of campsites is always finite, and if you don't let the hostess know you're not coming, she can't move anyone up who may be on a waiting list.

* Ask before bringing pets or extra guests. Even if your hostess loves pets, she may not be planning activities that are suitable for having pets at hand. Find out the situation before you bring Fido or Fluffy. And while you may have room for an extra guest in your trailer, RV, or tent, keep in mind that an unplanned-for guest can leave the hostess short of everything from food and party favors to seats at the table or in the boat. Best not to surprise her.

* Make any special needs known. Trust us, you won't be the only one who needs help with backing and parking her trailer, who won't be able to get in until after dark, or who has a dietary or health restriction. A good hostess expects these circumstances and will want to be as accommodating as she can. The earlier you can make such needs known, the more time your hostess will get to make plans for meeting them.

* Bring a hostess gift. Even if you're paying to attend a function and aren't being treated to a private weekend, someone went to a lot of effort to get it pulled together. Your token of appreciation doesn't need to be extravagant, but surely will be noted and appreciated. It can be anything from a jar of your homemade jam or salsa to a bottle of wine to a little something to fit her trailer theme. The gesture, not the gift itself, is the point.

* Pitch in, join in. You're at an event to relax and have fun (it's camping, after all!), and it's perfectly OK to sleep in and skip breakfast, to bow out from the group and get some alone time, or to forgo participating in a game or sport you don't enjoy. But it's not so OK to let everyone else wait on or pick up after you, or to spend so much time holed up behind a closed door that the rest of the party has to worry about you. Do your part, in both the work and the play. Also offer to give a hand with the final clean-up before you hook up and head home.

* Mind your safety. Nothing ruins a camping weekend faster than an accident in which someone gets hurt--especially when it might have been avoided. Avoid taking unnecessary risks, and keep the 'adult beverage' consumption in line. (One of the most common camping injuries involves stumbling or tripping from the doorway of one's own trailer.) Further word to the wise: Write your ICE info (who to call in case of emergency) on a card for the hostess/organizer to have at hand. Though you may have it stored in your cell phone, there's no guarantee that the phone will be charged or that it can be located during an actual emergency.

* Leave a thank-you note. E-mailed thanks are of course appreciated, but nothing takes the place of a handwritten note that the hostess can re-read and savor after all all her guests are gone and she finally can put her feet up. Your personal note will be that final touch of Girl Camping class that puts you at the top of next year's guest list.

[Click here to read 10 tips for the Girl Camping hostess.]

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Signage for Your Vintage Trailer or Campsite

Whether it's a piece of scrap lumber that's been hand-dabbed with white paint...

...or a reproduction of vintage advertising signage...

...or a way to note your membership number in a group like Sisters on the Fly--

There are as many creative ways to make trailer or campsite signage as there are creative minds to dream them up.

Here, set on an ironing board, we have house numbers nailed onto an old drawer front and displayed on a tabletop easel.

Here, displayed outside on a tension rod, is an embroidered banner.

Chalkboards large and small are so useful for making camping signage that we consider 'em necessary equipment! (But don't forget the chalk.)

The simplest chalkboard looks dressed up when placed near a pot of real flowers.

Here's a mini-banner stitched up to match the colors of the owner's trailer.

Fast and easy: magnetic letters on a metal tray.

Just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to ideas for camping signs! Create away!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Candy for Your Girl Camping Eye

Among the many things to love about Girl Camping: the visual candy that your fellow campers create for the pleasure of feeding your eye.

Girl Campers tend to love collecting things, and they also tend to be funky-sophisticated about it. (Your early-'70s trailer is orange, yellow and green? Work with it, baby--work with it!)

Varied objects, varied heights, varied textures, connected by a color (red in this case).

A classic three-color palette will always make the eye happy. (It enforces shopping-editing, too. Only those three colors allowed.)

Against a crisp white background, deep turquoise and its complement, orange, are a completely different kind of visual treat.

Another example of eye-delight from turquoise on white--except this time the color-foil is a coral-pink.
And an original design as well.

More creativity as presented to the viewer's eye: punctuation of a gone-to-the-dogs theme.

Forget about having to eat your vegetables. A helping of 'pretty' is just as good for you!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Idea for Dry Camping: A Solar Lamp

When camping without electricity (an element of dry camping), you still have need for light. Here's a super-fast way to rig up a solar lamp that can be hung outside or inside, as you need it.

The shade (thrift store or robbed from home) is suspended from a metal garden hook by means of a large S-hook. Ribbon, rope, or chain would work, too.

Under the shade, the top of a charged solar light stake goes inside a quart jar. Raffia was used to make the jar hanger, which hangs from the small end of the S-hook when under the shade. The large end of the S-hook connects everything to the garden hook.

Solar lighting is your good, good friend when it comes to camping away from a power source. No worries about smoke or fire inside your camper, trailer, or tent, and the next morning, you can pop the light top back onto its stake and let the sun charge it back up.

Plus--if you don't want to bother with  a shade--the solar light top in a jar still will help light up your night without power, whether you're indoors or out.