Monday, October 26, 2009


OCTOBER 26, 2009

When I got up this morning my main goal for the day was to clean out the main house pantry. We’ve been gone so much I honestly do not know what we do and don’t have on hand. This is something most unusual around here.

It is, quite frankly, difficult to plan meals without going to the grocery if you have no idea what you have to cook with. So today I decided I’d clean the pantry, organize it, and then inventory it. Then as time went on I’d do both grain pantries, the basement storage shelves (I know they are nearly entry), clean the root cellar so I can take advantage of good buys on winter squash , potatoes,yams and such now and store them down there. Then I would move on to the freezer, and all three fridges. That was the plan. I knew I would probably only get the first pantry done today. So I got busy right away.

As I sorted and wiped down shelves I came across items that made me go “hmmm” and in my normal manner I got slightly off track. Three cans of garbanzo beans reminded me we were out of snacks for our shopping days.

A little background here, on the days we mystery shop we always pack a lunch, drinks and a snack or two. Tomorrow is a shopping day. So I took a quick time out and made Roasted Garbanzo Beans for a savory snack. I’ll list recipes at the end.

While those were cooking I went back to the pantry. This is suppose to be a canned and jarred pantry only so when I found the Halloween Cake mix I had picked up on sale with a coupon, which made it cheaper than I could make it from scratch, I decided this was the week to make it. After all the oven was already on.

That of course meant I needed to make frostings. Yes I said frostings. I am lactose intolerate so the normal butter cream or cream cheese frostings don’t work for me. I make vegan frostings for me and regular for the boys. Then we frost our cake pieces as we cut them. Dh likes very little frosting so he goes thin with it, or without it entirely. Ds likes more. So this plan works well.

Only my master Butter Cream frosting mix was all used up. So that needed made, I waited until evening to do that.

As I continued to clean I came across dried cranberries. “Orange Cranberry Nut Muffins sure sound good,” I said to myself, “and the oven is already on.” I continued. So I scooted out to the grain pantry where my master Muffin Mix is stored. Guess what was all used up. But now I WANTED those muffins for breakfast in the morning.

So I took time out to make up a batch of Muffin Mix. Gary doesn’t like orange muffins. Oh well, the oven was hot and I already had the muffin mix out. So I whipped him up a dozen Almond Poppyseed while I was at it.

Looking at the remaining Master Muffin Mix I realized I had already used much of it, so I made a second batch of it.

As I was packaging up everything to store it, muffin mix in the grain pantry, half the muffins in the freezer Sean called.

“Whatcha doing?” he asked

“Cleaning the can goods pantry and making Master Mixes why? I replied.

“Great! Are you making biscuit mix? We’re out and I’d love biscuits and gravy for dinner tonight.”

“Haven’t yet, but I can and your wish is my command.”

So since I already had my big flour mixing bowl already out…I made up a batch of the biscuit mix that uses oil when you mix them up.

Between all this mixing and cooking I did get the pantry nearly cleaned—I still need to do the floor and the inventory, but it sure is looking good.

Jan who will now include the recipes for all of the above mentioned recipes for your useage in OK

ROASTED GARBANZO BEANS—tastes a lot like boiled peanuts.

2 cans (15 oz) garbanzo beans (or 3 C home cooked), rinsed and drained

3 TBL Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp Cheyenne pepper (or to preferred hotness)

Coarse Sea Salt or Kosher Salt

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray a lipped baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray. Spread the beans in a single layer on the pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until dry.

While cooking mix the onion powder, garlic powder, cumin and Cheyenne pepper together.

Drizzle the oil over the beans, sprinkle with the dry ingredient mixture and stir well. Spread in the pan to a single layer again and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crispy (warning they may pop in the oven) Remove from oven and sprinkle to taste with the salt. Cool completely then store in an air tight container for up to one month.


Change the dry mixture to any of your favorite popcorn or chip flavorings like dry ranch dressing, taco seasoning, spaghetti seasoning etc.

I’ve been thinking about trying this with other beans as well. If one of you do please let me know how it turns out.


10 C powdered Sugar

¾ C vegetable shortening

Now you have decide, pantry or freezer storage. If it’s going to be freezer then you will also need—

9 tablespoons of butter (or dairy free butter)

½ C powdered milk (or the equivalent of milk replacement powder-soy, rice or potato)

Another decision do you want to store it as vanilla or chocolate (I generally keep both made up and in the freezer)

If you are going chocolate, then you will also need ,

1 ½ C cocoa powder.

Mix all ingredients together using your fingers and a pastry cutter, or your food processor until it resembles corn meal. Put in an airtight container, label and freeze. When you are ready to use it measure out 3-3 ½ cups of the mix and add 1 teaspoon vanilla and about 3 tablespoons water. Mix until smooth and spreadable.

If you are going to pantry store it only add the first 2 ingredients (and the cocoa powder if desired) then store it in the pantry.

When you are ready to use it from the pantry. Use

3 C of the mix

3 Tablespoons butter or margarine

About 3 Tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix it all together until smooth and spreadable.

If you want to make it chocolate at this point add ½ c unsweetened cocoa to the mix before adding the butter or margarine.


Make any flavored frosting you want by substituting any flavored abstract for the vanilla in the recipe, a few drops of food coloring to match the flavor works well too. In a pinch I’ve used a small amount of unsweetened Kool-Aid to the vanilla mix for flavor and color.

You can also add chopped candies or nuts or coconut for variation.


8 C flour

3 C sugar

3 T baking powder

2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground nutmeg

Mix it all together well. I use a whisk to do this and it goes very fast. Put in an airtight container, label and store in a cool dark place.


Melt-a-way Muffins

2 ¾ C Muffin Mix

1 egg, beaten

1 c milk

½ c melted butter or margarine or shortening or ½ c oil

Spray muffin tins, mix wet ingredients together and then mix into muffin mix until mixture is slightly lumpy. Pour into muffin tins. Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes.


Cornmeal—Decrease the muffin mix to 2 ¼ and add ½ c cornmeal.

Butterscotch-Pecan--Mix 6 tbl melted butter with 6 tbl brown sugar. Put some with some chopped pecans in the bottom of each muffin tin.

Dried fruit—add 1 C chopped dried fruit to the liquid ingredients.

Fresh fruit—fold 1 c chopped fresh fruit into batter

Banana nut—add 1mashed banana and some chopped nuts with liquid ingredients

Cranberry nut—gently fold in 1 c chopped fresh or frozen cranberries and ½ c chopped nuts.


2 ¼ C muffin mix

1 pkg (3.4 oz) instant lemon pudding mix

1 T poppy seeds

¼ tsp grated lemon peel

1 c milk

2 eggs, beaten

¼ oil

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the liquid ingredients in a medium bowl, then combine the two.

Fill the muffin tins and bake at 400 for 18-20 min.


Almond Poppy Seed

Leave out pudding and grated peel. Add ½ tsp almond extract.


Leave out lemon pudding mix, use grated orange peel instead of lemon add ½ c chopped dried cranberries and nuts. Once the muffin cups are filled sprinkle a little granulated sugar on top.


2 c all bran cereal or 1 c bran flakes or 1 c raisin bran

¼ melted butter or oil

¼ c molasses

1 c milk

1 egg

½ c raisins (if you don’t use raisin bran)

1 ½ c muffin mix

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, and wet in another then combine. Fill muffin tins and bake at 400.


Omit raisins and substitute ½ mini chocolate chips and chopped nuts.


2 C Muffin Mix

½ C sugar

½ c chopped nuts

1 T ground cinnamon

1 C grated zucchini

1 egg, beaten

½ c butter melted

2 tsp vanilla

Combine wet ingredients in one bowl, dry in another and then combine. Fill cups and bake at 400 for 20-25 min.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


October 24, 2009 2:00 am

Just before we became gainfully unemployed Gary and Sean had purchased the wood flooring I had been lusting for ever since we moved into this house.

We had discovered all too late that the previous owners had lied about not having indoor cats and as a result we had a naughty kitty spot that I wanted GONE! One of my cats had discovered the spot in the dining room and when unhappy she “punishes” us.

We had tried all the “tried and true” methods of removing the smell and of course the smell always returned just as the experts say it will.

Shortly after pulling up the carpet to discover the pad and the sub flooring were going to have to be replaced we hit the road to make our living. To head off future problems we temporarily placed a litter box in the area.

Since we are currently home the guys decided to try and get the floor done so we could have Thanksgiving dinner in a newly re-done dining room, even if we can’t afford to purchase the rest of the matching flooring for the connecting living room any time soon.

First they started pulling up the sub flooring that required replacement. Normal subflooring is a sheet of ¾ inch plywood. The very first piece they pulled up was ½ inch, and there was another ¼ piece under it running the opposite direction. It also looked like a jigsaw puzzle they had put together.

We knew when we purchased the house that much of it was reclaimed lumber, we didn’t have a problem with that at all. In fact we like the fact that our floor joists are over twice the size they need to be. The entire house is very sturdy, just not completely level.

The ¼ inch piece had water marks on it as well and since we didn’t know if it was from our shampooing attempts or from the cat being far naughtier than we thought I demanded that piece come up too.

On to the next section, it was first ¼ inch, then cross pieced with ½ inch with shingles between the two layers. This too came up. The final piece was the standard ¾ inch. Did I mention I don’t think the people who built the house owned a level?

In pulling up all the flooring for about 3 foot out from the guys tore the plastic vapor barrier. It had liquid on top of it, we are certain this was shampoo water, but it leaked down on the insulation that looked a little worn so we decided to replace that too.

While I was out doing mystery shops yesterday Gary pulled out the old insulation and then for safety’s sake sprayed deodorizer on all the floor supports.

Since we were all home for the evening he left the holes only lightly covered with the old insulation so the wood would benefit from the heat from our first fire of the season and dry out faster, so we could move on to the next step of the remodel. The plan being we’d cover the holes before bedtime. Gary had put a temporary wall of plywood up to keep the cats out of the area. Of course the two more lithe of the cats could go over that, so we needed to be watchful.

Sean went to bed around midnight and I started working on my forms for the previous days labors while Gary worked on printing today’s forms. Taking a break I went to get us both a cup of cocoa. While in the kitchen I heard something rattling the loose insulation. Thinking one of the cats had gone over the plywood barrier Gary had erected to keep the cats out I looked over it to see a gray backside with a long naked pink tail disappearing down through the insulation.

“OMIGD! A RAT!” I hollered!

“Where?” Gary said as he jumped up.

Neither of us will tolerate a rodent in the house. We occasionally will have a mouse, but with four, now five cats, one seldom lasts long. In fact Mr. Murray Mugillicuty, Sean’s Tuxedo cat, was staring down the hole after the “rat.”

Gary, armed with a shovel, moved the barrier and went to check to see if he could “take care of it.” Of course it was gone.

“Are you sure it was a rat and not one of the cats?” Gary said, looking around doing a quick whisker count.

“It was as big as Gypsy Skeeter, but it had a smooth pink tail.” I said.

Gary immediately started laying flattened cardboard boxes and scraps of plywood over the open holes to keep Mr. Murray and the rest from “ratting”. Before Gary could finish the chore the cardboard started to wiggle, and a pink opossum nose peeked out from under the edge. Murray pounced and the nose withdrew quickly.

Gary added more weight to the cardboard and we went back to chores.

We had no sooner sat back down to do our respective jobs than we heard rattling again. The possum was fully out from under the cardboard by the time we grabbed the camera and talked about what to do.

While it was not a rat I still didn’t want it in the house! Gary’s first reaction was to whack it with a shovel. My first thought on that was, I didn’t want blood on the walls! Then it crawled into the litter box and started snacking. GROSS!

By now Murray is having a fit, we were interfering with his hunting. The mother and son tabby grey team were pacing back and forth outside the barrier irritated that they were too fat to go over it.

Gary was still looking at the possibility of killing it in the dining room. I’m looking at its baby face, it was definitely this year’s model, and couldn’t bear the thought of it possibly not being killed painlessly, and especially not in my dining room! When they get in the bird coops they are dead in one shot. Bludgeoning with a shovel would not be as quick.

“Let’s trap it and take it for a ride.” I said.

Gary looked relieved and went to get a big box. He came back wearing a heavy coat and leather gloves, just in case he had to do a pick up by the tail..

Five minutes later using the box and a broom Polly Possum was ready for her trip down the highway. No we did not put it on the highway, nor did it get put near a chicken ranch—especially not mine.

When last seen the young possum was scurrying off toward the lake for a drink to wash the cat poop she had consumed out of the litter box down with.

We’ve had a discussion about the future of the dining room home on the way home. The very first step tomorrow morning Gary and Sean will be walking the foundation to figure out HOW that critter got under my house to begin with!

Once that hole is plugged we will be putting the type of rat poisoning that mummifies the corpses under the floor, just in case, before the guys finish the floor.

Each layer of the floor replacement will be painted with Kilz, just in case. It will take a while letting it dry between layers. I guarantee you it will be done a lot faster now that we know critters will be trying to come in until we do.

Jan who says she prefers her wildlife OUTSIDE in OK


For those of you who follow the adventures of the animals here on the Rock ‘n Tree Ranch this is a new name to you. That’s because she’s a new addition.

We’d been home about two weeks when we came in from a long day of mystery shops to find Sean sitting on the loveseat with a gray lump on his shoulder. All ears and worried looks the small cat look at us as we entered her strange new world.

“What’s that?” I said. We’d all agreed no new animals until finances improved, yet here sat a kitten.

“Uhhh, I bundled up all the cat fur and this is what I made out of it. I’m pretty crafty you know.” My red headed son replied.

Looking at her I could see she was indeed the colors of all four cats combined. I said nothing.

Dh came through the door and just beamed when he saw her. He’s the world’s biggest sucker when it comes to kittens.

Sean spilled the beans on her history. A lady at work had her out of a house where the people had been evicted over a week earlier. The woman had seen the tiny kitten sitting on a window sill yowling pitifully, she was hungry.

The lady couldn’t stand it and wiggled through a dog door and brought the 6 to 8 week old kitten to work. Sean is his father’s child and broke our agreement instantly.

Watching her racing around the house I said she gets around as much as a gypsy, and that she was as pesky as a skeeter. Sean announced that was it and named her Gypsy Skeeter, her picture is of course to the left.

Over the last 10 days the older cats have handled her being around this way.

Murray, ignores his little sister entirely.

Amy and her son Jellybean alternate between ignoring her and trying to kill her.

Lizzie Borden is being just that she’s going to kill that kitten with 18 whacks! For Gypsy’s safety we are always present or have Gypsy locked up anytime Lizzie is around. Lizzie has been the spoiled baby of the four and she’s not taking moving to middle child status well at all.

We’ve been giving her special attention and treats when she’s a good girl. When she tries to hurt the kitten we spray her with a water bottle. She’s slowly realizing she’s still Mama and Daddy’s girl and the kitten will take nothing from her. For the first time in over a year Lizzie crawled into bed with me this morning.  It was nice to have her laying on my chest purring once again.

I know they will eventually work it out, Gypsy cowers into a submissive position whenever Lizzie enters and area, so the calico still rules the castle.
Jan who had forgot how hard kittens play and has the scratched up hands to prove it in OK

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Oasis Campground, Amarillo, Texas

September 25, 2009-October 1, 2009

When Gary told me he had found a campground that included all of the following for $15-$20 per night I figured it had to be a dump, but agreed to check it out. I mean what would you think if you saw that rate and the following was included?:

Full Hook-ups, including cable tv

Free Wi-Fi

Free Laundry

Swimming Pool

Adults only Spa

Spotless Showers

Clean Restrooms

RV Wash Allowed

Propane On-site

Pull thru sites

Storm Shelters and much, much more

Well guess what we were in AWE when we pulled in. The place is gorgeous!!! And it got better. Our pick-up and 30 ft fifth wheel were in the $17 per night bracket, but it got better. Pay for 2 nights, get the third free!!! So our bill for 3 nights was $34.

None of it was a lie it was all absolutely gorgeous.  The bathrooms are individual rooms with the shower and toilet in a private room.  Very nice.

The laundry rooms (there is more than one on the campground) contain stacked units totalling four washer and dryer pairs in each laundry room. I never had to wait for a unit.

There has to be a catch or a bad side right? Well the cable isn’t perfect. I can live with a little snow on a few channels though. The Wi-fi is slow, faster than dial up, but not a lot. And if you are looking for shade you will not find it. It’s basically a big level parking lot with oasis’ of nice landscaping at each site.

The place is beautiful and very well maintained. Oh and in case you are interested. They do Work Kampers here! For those of you that don’t know what a Work Kamper is, it’s basically a job that pays your camping fees while here. You do maintenance or whatever for a few hours a week (20 hours here) and the week of camping is paid for.

Basically what the owner said they needed immediately were people who were willing to work four hours a day five days a week for a week worth of free camping. The job for that was washing RV’s (the campground charges $50 to have the work Kampers wash your camper—you can do it for free yourself though). Other jobs for similar fees were also available. They prefer a commitment of a month or more for most of the jobs. The RV washing was for temporary visitors.

A wind storm hit shortly after we set camp on our extremely level site and the trailer really rocked. Just about the time we were thinking fondly of the storm shelters the wind stopped and a beautiful sunset appeared. We were glad we were where we were at.

The following day was Saturday and there were no shops scheduled so we decided to go exploring. Our travels took us to the Palo Duro Canyon. It’s Texas’ version of the Grand Canyon and was made well known by Larry McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove” series. This is where the real Charlie Goodnight had his enormous ranch.

For numerous reasons we did not drive down into the canyon, but I did walk around the rim near a housing addition and took numerous photos of the sheer beauty of it. They allow horseback riding in the canyon and there are horse motels in and around the Amarillo area, if that is of interest to you. One is not far from the Oasis campground.

We also visited the Cadillac Ranch on Route 66.  It is a modern art form created by "The Ant Ranch" (Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels) in 1974 from finned Cadillacs (model years 1949-1963) that are buried half in the dirt, nose end first at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Gyza in Egypt. It is located near Amarillo, Texas.  It was less than five miles from our campground.

Despite the signs up that say it now belongs to the State of Texas and spray painting or tagging the cars is illegal it goes on constantly.  My photo to the left will probably not match the current colors and designs on the cars now.  The smell of spray paint filled the air while we were there.  There is a small parking area and a walk through gate that allows you to go right up to the cars.  They are a unique icon on the old Route 66.

Over our time there we did various small shops, including some window shopping on our own while. We’d planned on going into the Texas AM West library, but they had almost doubled their entry fee from what was posted in the AAA book and being tightwads that were also very short on time that day we decided to not visit it that week.

Mainly in our off hours we stayed around the campground taking advantage of doing our laundry for free. We of course had to supply our own laundry supplies, which we had brought from home.

The gift shop has a very limited supply of minor camp supplies and of course they were a wee bit high. Hey, they’ve got to make money somewhere right?

They offer a bar-b-q dinner they serve nightly for a fee. We never did try it but many of the other campers did and reported back that it was very good.

We walked down to the pool at one point, it was small, extremely clean with no overwhelming chlorine smells. The spa was closed, but there was a sign up that stated if we wanted to use the facilities to contact the main desk and arrangements would be made.

We stayed there for six days. We had originally planned on staying two weeks, but the major shops we had scheduled for then were suddenly pulled from availability at the last minute. We thought about going to Albuquerque but found out in time that the Balloon festival was going on and that traffic would be at a standstill and streets blocked by the police to control traffic. After much discussion we decided to opt for home and the multitude of shops that had suddenly popped up there.

Because we had already prepaid we took some time off and simply rested. It was really nice to do so. Sleeping late, listening to Dave Ramsey, reading and doing some much needed cleaning and upkeep on the camper.

I read several magazines from a large stash at home, then left them in the laundry room for others to read and pass on. It brought a smile to my face to see one camper after another “borrow” them and then return them for the next camper.

Three things were truly lacking at this parking lot campground: Shade, playground equipment and picnic tables.

The time of year we were there the lack of shade was not a problem. They have planted several trees, but it will be a while before they can be considered shade trees.

If you are like us and eat a lot of your meals at a campground picnic table, you better pack your own because there was not a single one in this enormous campground.

Perhaps it was because we were there during the school year that we only saw one child the entire time we were there. Or it could be because it is a campground that is strictly for campers of all types. There are no tent sites.

We were both sad and anxious to be heading home for an unknown amount of time. We love traveling, but were missing our son and all the fur and feathered babies.

The day we packed up we had a small “furry” visitor. His picture is to the left along with some photos of the campground.

On the way home we traveled I-40 and once again marveled at the white giants flailing their arms to produce electricity in Weatherford, OK. The windmills are much more impressive traveling east to west than west to east because you can see them all in a line on the hilltop. We first saw them last November on our way to a seminar in Las Vegas, Nevada. We were mesmerized when we first saw them.

It was a long drive home and uneventful, thankfully. Home again, home again—wait I’ve already used that title.

I know that the minute we can we will hit the road again, but in the meantime I’ll be adding frugal recipes, household hints and of course animal tails until we once again hit the road. Please stay tuned we plan on to keep “Seeing the USA, the Mystery Shopping Way”

Jan who is typing this the end of October and is getting cabin fever bad in OK


Make your own microwave popcorn instructions included below.

For those of you who follow my emails on various yahoo groups you may be confused by the title of this one. Especially since I had said we were headed to Kansas when we left Boiling Springs on those groups. That had been the original plan.

However, just as we got on the road I asked Gary why we were going to drive 5.5 hours to make about $100 when we could drive 1.5 hours and make $120. He pulled over to the side of the road in a wide parking area and asked me to explain.

The Kansas run was going to be 10 shops, at $10 each. To go to Guymon, OK would net a mere four shops, but they would total $120. We changed our route immediately and headed west instead of north east. Luckily we had not officially locked in to any shops for the longer and less profitable shops.

If you have never traveled the George Nigh Northwest Passage road let me tell you 412 is one rough highway. Typing going down that road was definitely an adventure in tripled letters.

To go from the rich green campground at Boiling Springs in Woodward, OK to the flat lands of the Oklahoma panhandle is an experience. We passed fields of heavy headed sunflowers rotating with the sun as the day passed while the terrain got flatter and flatter.

Since we had not planned our trip to Guymon we searched the availability of campgrounds as we sped down the highway, camper in tow. No national or state parks, no Corps of Engineers parks either. On to private campgrounds. Guymon boasted two. Southwind RV and Panhandle Campground, no information on rates, availability or amenities were available on the website we were on. So we decided to just check them out when we arrived.

In the rush to change route we forgot we needed to purchase fuel before leaving Woodward. The low fuel alarm sounded 10 miles outside of Guymon and the one station we found with diesel would not accommodate our fifth wheel at that time due to the heavy traffic. So we decided to go off load the trailer and then go back for fuel.

First stop South Winds. I’m a person that goes a lot by those “feelings” I’ve discussed before. There was really nothing wrong with Southwind, it was a little ran down and there was no one in the office—they use an honor system there. I could not find a listing of the rates, even though the sign said the rates were posted. However, my feelings radar was going off.

We circled the campground and decided to go on to Panhandle, like I’ve said before my family generally listens to my feelings.

Panhandle is a very basic campground as well, but the feelings were far better for it. They too use an honor system. Rates for this small—roughly two dozen sites—$8 basic rate for the site no hook ups, each hook up (water, electric, or sewer) was an additional $2 per night. We did electric and water up until the last day and then we paid the $2 to dump.

The wind was sharp as we climbed out of the truck to set camp. We both scrambled for our hoodies and did the camp set up in record time. Gary put the small amount of diesel we had in the emergency gas can into the truck tank. Then headed back the 7 miles to Guymon to do our single shop for the day and to get fuel.

Back at the camper we discovered we could not get proper tv reception to make it worth the effort to pull in a show or two before bedtime. So Gary threw Bing and Bob’s “Road to Bali” into the DVD machine and started to pop popcorn.

Before the oil was hot in the big pan we use for this the flame went out on the stove. I looked at Gary and said “I told you we needed propane.” So here it was headed for 40 degrees outside and dropping and us with no propane for the furnace. I was not amused . I don’t handle cold well at all. I was cranky. Gary wanted popcorn and had no gas to pop it. He was cranky.

I added a layer of clothing and suggested he do the same, then told him how to make our own version of microwave popcorn so he could have his popcorn. Soon we were both happy again.

Want to make your own microwave popcorn for far cheaper than you can buy? We purchase our popcorn by the big bag at Sam’s Club. It is roughly $.33 a pound there, a pound will make a LOT of popcorn. To keep the popcorn from going stale before we get the huge bag used up we store it in clean two liter bottles.

Two liters make great airtight containers for grains, flours and of course popcorn. Thoroughly was and dry the bottles before use. Cut the top off of one to use as the perfect match funnel to fill others with. As you fill the bottle periodically and tap it either on the counter top or with your hand to knock the kernels/beans/grains/flour etc. to fill in the gaps. This forces the air out of the container. It also allows you to get MUCH more in. Repeat the process until you absolutely cannot get anymore in. Then screw the lid on tight, label and store in a cool dark place. I personally freeze mine for at least 48 hours before it goes to permanent storage in my grain pantry (a dead freezer). That way if there are any “guests” in the grain or flour they are disposed of. I’ve never had a weevil one in my two liter storage and I’ve been using them for such storage for over 10 years. I find it best to lay them on their sides in the storage with labels on the caps.  You can fit a LOT of two liter bottles on a shelf that way.

Now back to making that microwave popcorn. Here’s how:


You will need:

1 brown paper bag, lunch bag size works best—we used one you get when you purchase frozen foods at Wal-Mart and it was a little too big.

1 tablespoon oil, I prefer olive oil but any cooking oil will work—butter will sometimes burn so I don’t recommend it. If you want butter I suggest adding it after the popcorn is popped.

Seasonings of choice—we used just plain salt that night, but experiment you might just find a new favorite, see info below.

¼ cup popcorn kernels

A stapler or something to punch holes in the sack with and two toothpicks.

To make:

Put the popcorn, oil and seasonings into the brown paper bag. Fold the top closed once and staple shut with 2 staples.. Despite what you may think the staples will not spark in your microwave—too small a surface I guess. If using tooth picks punch two small holes per toothpick and weave the toothpick through to seal the bag in lieu of the staples.

Shake the bag to mix it all up well and then press the air out of the bag so it will lay flat like a bag of microwave popcorn in the microwave oven. Pop on high for approximately 3 minutes, listen closely if the popping slows stop the microwave.

Be careful when opening to avoid steam burns.

Want to experiment with seasonings? Google the phrase “popcorn recipes” you will be amazed at the number or recipes and flavors out there. We love experimenting with them. Two of our favorite sites are:

Once Bing had won the beautiful maidens’ hand and the popcorn was all consumed we headed for bed. Thank goodness for a good supply of blankets.

The next morning I refused to shower until there was heat in the camper. A google search for propane suppliers, a phone call to verify and Gary was off with two large empty propane bottles. While he was gone I did some job searches and came up with a few more jobs that would tie in with our Guymon jobs that could be done as we left on Thursday. We definitely made the right choice going west instead of north.

While I showered Gary did searches for where our next stop would be when we left on Thursday and decided Denver, CO might be our best choice. I did additional searches while he showered and agreed whole heartedly. Now if the weather doesn’t cross us up we could do a decent lot of work, but it will be a long drive there.

After wonderful hot showers we headed out for Springfield, Colorado to do a single shop for $52 and identical one in Boise City, OK. Along the way we ran into a lot of road construction that was definitely smoother than anything we’d been on the day before.

The slow moving traffic gave us time to look around the vast flat prairie and discuss how it would be an ideal spot to watch meteor showers. Yes, we enjoy those too, we spent many a night telling star stories to our children when they were growing up while laying on our backs looking up at the stars all over the US. "American Indian Myths and Legends" selected and edited by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz was a favorite source for those star stories.

We were put on to this book by a gentleman called Dragonfly during our rendezvous days that would tell the stories every night at bedtime to the camp children.  He was ready for the nightly story telling he would set out candle lanterns then slowly beat on a drum to tell everyone in camp it was storytime.  Young and old alike came to hear his tales. 

We had planned on visiting the Cimmaron Museum in Boise City, OK but got there too late to do anything but take a photo of the big dinosaur sculpture outside the building. We drove around the outside a bit and marveled at the slice of the giant Sequoyah in the landscaping and read some of the names on the military memorial.

We discussed if we went on to Denver, CO the next day like we were thinking about doing if it would be feasible to stop with the fifth wheel and Gary said he thought he could turn it around in the area we were looking at, but it would be a tight squeeze.

During the day’s drive I had been working on catching up things on my blog and clearing the nearly 7,000 emails I was behind on. It was a great time to do it. We were running low on the space left on our air card for the month so a lot of offline typing was handy. Because I touch type it also allowed me to gaze out across the seemingly endless prairie and wonder just exactly how far I was looking out.

The sunflowers I saw on this section of our journey were all past their prime and awaiting harvesting.

We mused as we went down the highway how much this reminded us of our “Penny Hike” rv trip to Mount Rushmore a few years back and traveling through South Dakota. You could drive for miles and not pass another car then too.

Once back to the camper we decided a check of the Denver weather was a good idea. I also posted queries about it on list. The more we thought about it, the more concerned we became about the possibility of snow. Late that night we decided we weren’t brave enough to try Denver and decided instead to head for Amarillo, Texas in two days. I had found enough work to keep us one extra day in Guymon.

Panhandle Campground only has about 25 sites, but each site is level and a pull thru. They have both 30 and 50 amp sites. The bathhouse is simple, but clean and comfy. In the ladies I discovered it had shower curtains for the toilet stall doors, but that was not a problem. The smell of fresh Pinesol was reassuring and went along with the shining fixtures I saw.

Hot water for the small but efficient bath house is provided via a solar collector. We thought that pretty cool.

Rates are $10 for just the basic site, then you add $2 for each amenity you add, so $2 for electric, $2 for water, $2 for sewer.

Friday morning we rolled out and headed for Texas.