Here in beautiful North Idaho, one of the most common past times in the summer is camping! Whether you pull an RV or rough it with a tent, it’s a hobby most enjoy. Although the first camping trip of the year can be exciting, it may also seem a little overwhelming. It’s been months since your last trip and you have nothing prepared. We’ve got you covered! Below are checklists, tips, cooking ideas and more!
Before Your First Trip
First thing on your to-do list in spring is to make sure your tent or RV and all gear is ready ready. Camping would not be very fun if you realized during your trip that something wasn’t working or missing and you weren’t fully prepared. These things can ruin any camping trip.
Tents are pretty easy, but still it is very important to make sure your tent is in top shape and ready to go. Here are a few things to remember when prepping you tent and gear:
- Inspect your tent and tarps for any holes. Apply waterproof sealant where necessary.
- Wash and fully dry all of your gear made of fabric, this includes any sleeping bags, pillows and blankets.
- Check all your fasteners and ropes. Replace any broken or frayed ones.
- Make sure all your tent poles and stakes are accounted for
- Make sure you have a hammer for the stakes and a hatchet for wood
- Be sure all your battery powered gear has new and fully charged batteries and works.
- Wash, dry, inspect, and check that all camping equipment is acceptable working order.
Now, RV‘s are much more complex to prepare. Although every RV is going to be a bit different, the items detailed below will fit most RV’s and will be need to be completed. Always best to check the manual for the specifics on your RV.
- Clean and inspect the inside and the outside of the RV.
- If you winterized your RV in the fall, steps will need to be taken to de-winterize the trailer. This is typically flushing the lines with clean water.
- Fill your water tank, run the water pump and check for leaks.
- Be sure your dump hose is in good and working order, with no holes or tears.
- Check all your fresh water, black and grey valves when at a dump station. Be sure they open and close property and these are no leaks.
- Inspect the caulking, tires, towing equipment, awning, appliances, lights, batteries and A/C Unit.
- Make sure all your safety equipment is on board along with a tool box with most often used items for small repairs
Things to Pack
Although everybody camps a little differently, there are several things we all need to bring on every camping trip. We’ll save you the trouble of writing your own list, because we did it for you. Here are just a few very important items to remember:
1. Bedding – includes pillows, blankets and sleeping bags
2. Clothes – Plan for all types of weather from swim suits to coats
3. Toiletries – includes soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush, hair-ties, shaving items and deodorant
4. Lighting – lantern, flashlight and don’t forget the batteries or matches
5. Cook wear and utensils – Stove, dutch oven, griddle, coffee pot, knife, spatula and more
6. Don’t forget packing for your pups. Leashes, food bowls, water bowls, dog bed, dog food
7. First Aid Kit, Stuff to Bug Bites, Sunscreen, Ibuprofen etc.
That list is only scratching the surface. Need a more in depth list? Check out our Camping Checklist!
Cooking At Camp
Cooking while camping can seem like an overwhelming, difficult, and dreaded task. But, it can be easy and enjoyable if you follow some basic steps.
Step 1: Plan Ahead.
Seems a little obvious, but it is one of the most important steps. Creating a list of everything you’ll need, even the little things, will insure less forgotten items. Things to consider in this step: the space and weight the food will take up, how you plan to cook things (stove, dutch oven, cast iron skillet), and that you eat food that spoils first.
Step 2: Choose your Equipment.
This step will mostly depend on how you camp and the amount of work you’re willing to do. If you prefer not to have any work while camping, pre made meals and snacks would be your go to. That would mean more prep work before you went camping. If you’re willing to do a little cooking, foil meals would be a great idea, that would be a little less prep work before you left. If you can manage the extra weight and the extra work, dutch oven or a cast iron skillet would be a great way to prepare your food. Dutch ovens seem to be a popular choice in cookware these days. Check out a video about dutch oven cooking for beginners by clicking here!
Step 3: Know how to Store Food.
A little organization will help big time when storing your food. There is a science behind stocking a cooler or fridge to ensure no wasted space and easy access to items you will need most often. A few ideas would be to bring a separate cooler for drinks, remove items from bulky packages, pack ingredients you’ll be using last at the bottom, and fill every nook and cranny with ice. Others things to keep in mind in regards to storing food is to be sure to keep everything clean, never to leave food unattended, and be aware of the wildlife in the area you’re camping and plan accordingly. Example would be bear proofing.
Step 4: Clean Up.
Proper clean up after your meal is also important, no matter how little we want to do it, as it prevents the spread of bacteria and the arrival of unwanted guests. Be prepared with items you’ll need: 2 dish tubs, dish cloth, drying towel and biodegradable soap. Thoroughly clean, dry and store your items. Store your unused food in airtight containers. Make sure all your trash has been picked up around your camp site and dispose of it properly. Either in the designated receptacle or pack it up and bring it out of the woods with you. Remember, pack it in – pack it out. Leave your camp spot or location better than when you arrived.
Have a great camping season! Be sure you’re prepared, have fun, and always be safe!
Lifestyle: First thing you would want to consider, before ever looking at homes, is the lifestyle you lead. Think about the things you would need in an area that you couldn’t live without. Do you want to live in the city with a nightlife? Off the beaten path away from most people? Or somewhere in between? Making that decision first will help narrow down the area you look for homes in.
Crime: Researching the crime rates and statistics can help you narrow down an area to live. If you have already decided where you want to live, crime rates are always a good thing to check on. This is especially true if you have children or plan to have children. Call the local police department to get specifics about the area.
Culture: Some people need cultural stimulation regularly, so living in a larger city where that is accessible would be the best option.
Weather/Climate: The weather and climate have an affect on our mental health, daily activities, recreation, and sometimes our jobs. Picking a place that you like the weather year round is very important.
Job Market: The job market, salary, and opportunities will vary in every area. When thinking of finding a new area to live, look into your line of work to determine if it would be a good move. There may be more selection or higher salary in one area over another.
Housing Market: When buying a home it’s also good to get the most bang for your buck! Researching the housing market in an area will help to determine the property values and whether it’s a good place to invest. Things you would want to look into is how long homes are on the market, resale value, and current home prices, that will give you a good idea of the market.
Cost of Everyday Items: No matter how good your job is, or the value of your home, the prices of everyday items need to also be considered. The prices of groceries, gas, and utilities vary from place to place. It could mean the difference of living comfortably and within your means or living from paycheck to paycheck.
Taxes: There are 5 states out there with no sales tax, and 9 that don’t collect income tax. Not to mention that the property tax rate is different from city to city, even in the same state. Other states offer tax credits or exceptions. Taxes, although very necessary, could mean a big difference on the amount you spend each month on both your goods and your mortgage and is something that needs to be considered before moving.
Age: Is a neighborhoods historic or new developments? That’s something to consider, if that matters to you. Older neighborhoods bring character, but there may also be more to repair. New developments bring more of a modern feel but it typically suggests additional future growth, which could be viewed as positive or negative
Sounds & Smells: Listening to the area is important. Being close to a freeway/highway, train, etc could cause sleepless nights. Or, if there are any bad odors or poor air quality, that’s something that would affect your decision as well. Sounds and smells are not something you can detect on the internet. If you’re getting serious about a neighborhood, pay it a visit. Be sure to listen and smell, before ever making a purchase.
Schools: If you have or are planning to have children, be sure to check on the type of schools in the area. Look into the elementary, middle, and high schools. That can be a huge determining factor on the neighborhood to live.
Home Owners Association: HOA’s bring strict rules as well as typically an additional fee. Although they will keep the neighborhood looking clean, it may not be worth the extra cost.
Family & Friends: If being close to family and friends is important, that should always be considered when picking the place you live. Chose an area with a reasonable drive time or plane ride to them.
Commute: First thing to determine is how you’re going to commute. Will you be driving, are there public transportation options available, or are you close enough to walk? The next thing to consider is the time it takes to commute to and from both work and school. Be sure to look into the commute time during the peak travel times of the day. Will longer commute times affect your quality of life, taking away from time you could be spending with your family or friends.
Amenities & Conveniences: It’s good to identify how close you would be to things like hospitals, airports, parks, grocery stores, and gas stations. If the neighborhood you’re interested in is farther out, will you be willing to travel a greater distance to get your everyday needs or in an emergency? Another thing to consider is how far away you’d be to your hobbies. If you like to ski, being many hours away from the closest mountain wouldn’t be the best option.
Tourist Attractions: Being close to tourist attraction can seem great when you’re thinking about moving to an area. But consider what it would be like after years of living there. The busy season will bring more people in the area which could become difficult to deal with over time.
Love is in the air and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! What are you going to do for your sweetie this year? Whether you want to get them something special or do something special, there’s lots of options. We’re here to help make your day exceptional.
Avoid The Same Old Same Old
Do you tend to get your special someone the same thing each and every year? Maybe some roses and a box of chocolates? This is the year to break that trend and avoid the ordinary!! Check out these great gift ideas that are better than flowers and candy. It’s guaranteed to surprise the one you love:
This personalized gift is a great way to look back on your relationship. From the day you met, first date, got married, and the birth of your children.
What better way to capture each and every moment as they happen? You can treasure those moments forever. Stick them on your fridge, in a photo album or scrapbook.
Bring the spa to her! With several different scent options, you can treat your love from the comfort of their own home.
Switch up the usual with this date night bucket list. Lots of creative date night ideas, both fun and intellectual. Avoid the dreaded “What do you want to do tonight?” question.
Remember your special day in this unique way. Pick the best line from your vows and put them on display.
Satisfy their sweet tooth with a twist. So gorgeous they’ll never want to eat it… if they can resist.
You Know Them Best
When it comes right down to it, you know your love the best. This is an excuse to treat them… maybe spoil them with a spa day. Keep them grilling with a BBQ Set. Make them laugh with a silly mug. Keep them cozy with a new blanket & pillow or PJ set. Get them a little buzzed with their favorite wine. Keep things smelling fresh with a candle. Help them feel pretty with personalized jewelry. Even if it’s the classic flowers & chocolates, get them what they want.
A Night on The Town
Want to take your sweetie out on the town? Beautiful Coeur d’Alene and the surrounding area is never short on events, even for the day of love. And also some great date night ideas you could do on Valentine’s Day or any other.
The Chocolate Affair – On February 8th at the Resort Plaza Shops from 5-8pm
Valentines Bazaar – On February 9th at Garden Plaza in Post Falls from 11am-3pm
Love on the Lake Dinner and Cruises – On February 14th boarding at The Boardwalk Marina at 5pm or 7:30pm
Valentine’s Chocolate Fountain Buffet – On February 14th at the Coeur d’Alene Resort at 4pm
Valentine’s Day Acoustic Dinner – On February 15th at Cruisers Bar & Grill from 7-11pm
Sweetheart’s Ball – On February 15th at The Best Western from 5:30-9:30pm
Ice Skating at River Front Park in Spokane – Make an entire night of it and have dinner at an elegant restaurant downtown, catch a movie, go ice skating, and then stay at a nice hotel.
Pinot’s Palette Date Night – You paint half a picture on a canvas and your partner paints the other half, making one giant gorgeous picture. Don’t forget the drinks.
Ski/Snowboard Day – Enjoy the slopes at any one of the great resorts near us!
A getaway with the one you love is needed every now and then. And what better time than Valentine’s Day? Celebrate your love together and enjoy a small vacation. You’ll still be close to home, yet in a world of your own.
Located in gorgeous Sandpoint Idaho, this is a must stay. Visitors get to enjoy astounding views of the surrounding mountain ranges and beautifully constructed log cabins. Don’t forget the horseback riding, outdoor activities, and all the history that comes with it.
The Blackwell Hotel is located in Downtown Coeur d’Alene. It’s full of elegance, history, and many unique touches. First built in 1904, it still has the original artwork. A very romantic place, a must see!
Located on the North Shore of Coeur d’Alene Lake, it’s become a top place to stay for visitors. At the resort you will never be bored with accommodations like golfing, spa, pool, restaurants, nightlife and more! Check out their lake front rooms today.
This is a one of a kind experience! Dinner & a movie, then dessert & drinks after the credits roll. Don’t forget the gambling & luxury rooms to stay in. Everything you need in one place.
Located in Downtown Spokane, Historic Davenport Hotel is right in the center of everything. With gorgeous city views, a romantic design, a spa, and even jetted tubs and fireplaces in some rooms you’ll never want to leave! Great balance of modern amenities and a historic charm.
This little bed & breakfast is located just 10 minutes from downtown. Close but away from all the crows. Very peaceful and quite location which makes it perfect for a romantic getaway.
No matter how you choose to spend your Valentine’s Day, make it memorable and celebrate your love!!
Coeur d’Alene never ceases to amaze us. Not only do we get to enjoy the obvious beauty and all the lovely people who live here, but our Lake City offers so many other benefits! Like Theater!! But not just any Theater… Aspire Community Theatre.
Great Local Entertainment
Aspire Community Theatre (ACT) is unlike any other. How, you may ask? To start, they are a completely non-profit run organization with experienced theatrical artists in charge. It’s a community theater, staffed 100% by volunteers, yet working at a professional level. As a result, you can count on exceptional and entertaining performances each and every time.
Aspire was founded because many parents of children in theater were unable to find other options once their children graduated. Their only other option was acting at a professional level. Creating this theater was a way they could continue to learn and expand their acting abilities right here at home. Aspire is a conservatory theatre, which means, the students will learning through out each production because they are involved in each aspect of the production. Aspire incorporates a wide a wide range of groups and ages to keep things lively. Plus, they “not only develop artists, but theater enthusiasts through education and exposure”.
Aspire’s mission “is to enrich, entertain and educate our community through exceptional live theater which inspires the imagination and provokes contemplation of truth. Our goal is to honor, reflect and collaborate with the greater community we serve, creating leaders for the future, as we form partnerships today.” And they do just that!
Courtesy of the Coeur d’Alene Press
A Gift To The Community
Theater is a gift – for both the audience and artists and with 600 season ticket holders it seems like our community agrees. Bringing together experienced theatrical artists combined with young talent and community leaders; Aspire is determined to improve the lives of not only the artists and productions but this community. They provide a venue “For the next generation of characters”. Because of their local success, they are the only theater in the pacific northwest playing Mama Mia! First show is February 8th.
John and Tracey Chime In
“Our first Aspire experience was for “Catch Me If You Can”. We were intrigued when they said it would be a MUSICAL! We loved the movie and were so interested in seeing how it could be made as a musical. Aspire took that movie to a whole new level as a musical play. We loved it! Above all, it was so creative and a throughly enjoyable performance. We laughed and enjoyed every minute of it. Aspire offers a diverse and multi-faceted mixture of talent we have not seen in community theater. If you are looking for a great entertaining evening, go to a performance. Finally, Mamma Mia would make a wonderful treat for your Valentine!
John and Tracey Tindall
Contact us for special ticket discounts!!
Happening in February
Contact us for special ticket discounts!!
Contact us for special ticket discounts!!
Visit Aspire here! Check out the upcoming shows and learn organization, donate, sponsor and volunteer.
Home Maintenance for Fall/Winter
The purchase of a home will likely be the biggest invest anybody will make in their life. Our homes are the centers of our lives because they hold everything and everyone important to us. Our top priorities are taking care of that invest. Winter is a harsh season here in North Idaho as a result it can cause some damage to our homes, properties, our loved ones, or even our wallets! It can be avoided if we take extra steps this fall or start of winter to prepare.
The next question is where do I start? Not knowing can be overwhelming and stressful. Below is just a small list of some important home maintenance ideas. Included is the reason you should do them. It can make a huge difference on your home and property this year.
For a full list of maintenance ideas as well as a printable checklist, go to our website by clicking here!
What to do
|Clean gutters and downspouts throughout fall||A build up of leaves and other debris could lead to wood rot, pest issues, and ruined gutters.|
|Change summer screens to cool weather storm windows & doors||Removing screens stop snow from getting trapped between the window and screen. That avoids damage to the sill and frame as well as lets in more light. Installing storm windows & doors helps keep your home insulated through the cold months.|
|Replace the filter in your furnace||This helps the lifespan of your heater, reduces energy bills and improves air quality.|
|Flush and insulate your hot water tank||Flushing removes sediment which in turn could extend the life of your tank. Insulating can help conserve energy, in turn saving you money.|
|Place a sheet of plywood held down by a few bricks on top and your AC, not a waterproof cover||Plywood can stop falling icicles and other debris which in turn would cause damage to the unit. Waterproof covers creates a warm environment for unwanted guests to stay for the winter.|
|Trim limps that are close to power lines or the roof of your home||Avoids heavy snow/ice building up causing damage.|
For a full list of maintenance ideas as well as a printable checklist, go to our website by clicking here!
Independence Day is just around the corner and we’ve come up with some tips, tricks and design ideas to help you be the BBQ champion. Some of my favorite childhood memories were any given summer outside, circled around the grill with friends and family. Here’s to you and yours. Here’s to turning those summer days in to wonderful memories.
Clean your Grill!
The key to having almost anything ready to use, is cleaning it up after you use it. But if you are like me, sometimes the food coma sets in and cleaning up is out of the question. Here are some ways to keep your grill ready for a cookout at a moments notice.
- Leave your grill on for a few minutes with the hood closed. This is a super easy, coma-friendly way to burn off any excess foods and fats left on the grill.
- Give your grill a good scrub with something abrasive. Grill brushes, tin foil, abrasive sponge. Put a minute of elbow grease in to it to remove any charred junk.
- To ensure a non-sticking grill when you fire it up the next time, spray on some non-stick spray or a bit of vegetable oil. I’ve even heard that rubbing a 1/2 onion on the grate can do the trick.
- That’s it. These easy steps will have your grill laying in wait, ready to pounce at any moment to help you keep your throne of Grill King- or Queen!
If you hate following instructions like me, here is the video version from diy network: How to clean your grill in 15 minutes
Here are a few hacks to make serving, eating and cleaning up after your festivities easy as pie!
Here are some recipes that we either love or want to make this summer. And I may be a bit biased for bourbon. Not sorry. Photos and titles are linked.
Yes. All of those!
These look amazing. I cant wait to make these. Ribs are such a guilty pleasure of mine. They’re messy, they’re not exactly on the skinny menu, but Lord they are delicious.
You read that correctly. Made these last year for a family gathering. I wish I had made more, there wasn’t nearly enough to go around twice.
This is another recipe I am looking forward to using this Independence day. I hope it has as much kick as they say.
BBQ Grill Station Ideas
Maybe this summer your mind is set on remodeling or updating your back yard. Here are some BBQ stations that are functional and add to your back yard setting.
These concrete counter tops have plenty of room for prepping. I really like the clean and fucntional design, as well as the low cost of concrete.
This one is really great too, I think the portable design is perfect for a more laid back yard. And having a sink nearby is such a smart idea. You handle tons of raw meat when you grill, and being able to wash your hands is an obvious way to prevent food-born illnesses. It even has a built in chopping block…. ok, ok. It’s a cutting board. A girl can dream right?
If putting together a large permanent station isn’t something that your bank account will allow, this might be a good solution. You can set up a semi-permanent station by using cinderblocks and paver stones to accomplish a similar built-in feel. This way you won’t spend a fortune and you will still have all that work and prep space.
We hope you enjoy these tips and tricks. If you’re feeling motivated, we’d love to see how your projects are coming along. And feedback on the recipes is always encouraged. Enjoy!
From our family to yours, We hope you have a wonderful and proud Independence Day!
God Bless America!
Washi tape is a wonderful gift from the Land of the Rising Sun. Traditionally, washi is a type of paper made from tree bark or various other plant cellulose. It is most often used for its aesthetic appeal, but does have some other applications. Since it hit the shelves, it has been a God-send to interior designers and DIY-ers alike. It is a cheap way to have all the color and fun with none of the commitment.
As a new homeowner its really exciting thinking about all of the remodeling and designing you want to do to the interior. But then there’s the anxiety of choosing a color or style. Will we like it? Is it too bold? Will it work with our furniture? Thankfully you can try out some different schemes or patterns in your home without having to worry about the work of changing it. Washi tape is a great way to test the waters and try on different ideas you might have had. Or, maybe you’re like me and you want to change your entire house every few weeks and need something that will be easy to change too.
As a renter you have probably encountered the frustration of not being able to decorate, paint and design your space to your heart’s content. Typically, landlords will require that tenants do nothing to damage or change the home in any way. Other times, renters will avoid putting holes in the walls to ensure that they get their entire deposit at the end of the lease. Both are valid reasons to want to find a temporary work around that will leave your rental feeling like home, and your landlord happy. Here ares some ways to use washi tape to incorporate some beauty in your space and leave the walls good as new when you leave.
Accent walls are a great way to add a huge pop of color to a bland room. They make a huge statement and fortunately with washi tape, they aren’t permanent.
It might not seem like a big deal, but a beautiful headboard can really make a room. While some are just part of the bed frame, others are mounted on the wall. That’s where the washi tape comes in for a damage free , bold statement.
Nurseries and Play Rooms
It seems like kids always want to have bright pink or blue or other crazy colors for their bedrooms. Washi tape allows for all sorts of color and whimsy without having to consider how many coats of white paint it will take to cover up that Frozen mural.
As if the pictures didn’t already speak for themselves. Washi tape is a great way to add a bold statement to your rooms. These murals provide great conversation pieces when placed in main areas. Just make sure if you’re doing something geometric, you have some patience and a ruler, and a ton of coffee.
Another great thing about using this tape throughout your home is that you can add small pops of color or detail that really personalize your area in a big way.
Hope you enjoyed the creative fuel as much as I have! Go forth and make Awesome Happen!
Now that it is nearly summer in Northern Idaho, you can almost hear a collective sigh of relief across the Panhandle. The sun is out, flowers are blooming and we can finally head downtown to Coeur d’Alene’s wonderful farmers market! John and I have always felt personal conviction to buy local and to support our community and what better way than going out to meet the faces behind all the hard work?
Just a short trip down town to 5th street and you’ll find dozens of tents full of color and aromas that will make you soar. Last year we bought some rare herbs for the garden at one of the local vendors and I was relieved to find that they are back again this year.
You’re also likely to find one or two dairies, some fresh made stone-fired pizza and handmade soaps and countless other crafts but my Granddaughter’s favorite is the strawberry ice cream that Sweet Peaks is selling. Sweet Peaks has been doing the farmers market for a while now, but are just opening up a food truck on 4th & Best Ave. They make all of their ice cream right on the spot with liquid nitrogen. It was really nice finally having ice cream that tasted like both cream and strawberries (real ones).
We hope you get out to the next one and make your own adventure like we did!
Downtown: Wednesdays 4pm-7
5th & Sherman
Hayden: Saturdays 9am-1:30
Hwy 95 & Prairie
Tax time again and a mound of documents and not sure what to do with it all?
Hopefully you made it through another tax season and found all of your documents needed to file your return. Now, what documents do you need to keep and which ones should you toss? Here’s a little guideline which will help you with clearing out the old paperwork, but not throwing away anything that you might need later.
What to keep and what to toss?
John and Tracey Tindall
208-818-2365 or 2456