Happy Camping Month!

We are back from the Ontario wilderness feeling refreshed. It was an amazing three days of good company, good food, good drinks, good laughs and most importantly, reconnecting with nature. I can't wait to share photos and stories from our trip, but for now, I will leave you with a sneak peak of our adventure at Canisbay Lake, Algonquin Park

Whether you learned something new, or just enjoyed the photos and stories, a BIG thank you to everyone that tuned in to T.O. & fro's Camping Month series. I enjoyed sharing and hope that I've inspired you, even just a little bit, to get outdoors and reconnect with Mother Nature.

And, in case you missed in on the action, here is a quick recap of the series.
Favourite Camping Memories
10 Reasons to Go Camping
Favourite Camping Gadgets
Celebrate Dad with Energizer Headlight
Talking Camping // Sponsor Spotlight
Camping With Your Dog
Tips for Planning a Camping Menu
Favourite Camping Recipes
5 Camping Activities

Camping Month is not over yet - use code 'letsgocamping' for 50% off all Small Town ad space (promo code good until July 1 at 12pm EST).

Do you have a camping trip planned this summer? 
What was your favourite post from T.O. & fro's Camping Month series?

5 Camping Activities

You've picked the site, you've got your gear and you've planned your menu. Next up? Planning the activities! Depending on where you will be camping, there are a number of camping activities you can take advantage of. Here are our 5 favourite camping activities.

Play games. Card games are perfect for camping and a deck of cards can be easily packed into any camping bag. Board games are also fun to pack, especially if you have a picnic table or other surface to play on. Some of our favourite games include Scrabble, when its just the two of us, and CatchPhrase, which is handheld and can be played around the campfire with a group of people.

Explore nature. Part of the excitement of camping is being closer to nature. Explore the great outdoors by grabbing your camera and going on a photo safari, creating a scavenger hunt and using the binoculars to view the wildlife. When exploring, it is important to always remember to keep a safe distance from wildlife and take only memories, leave only footprints.

Relax. One of the bet parts of camping is the escape of every day stress and busyness. Relax and let the rest of the world fade away by listening to nature, taking a nap, reading a book by the campfire, floating on the water and stargazing. 

Gather around the campfire. Sitting around the campfire is one of the most memorable parts of camping. There are plenty of activities to do around the fire both at night and during the day including, reading a book, cooking a good meal, making s’mores, singing campfire songs, playing a musical instrument and telling stories.

Get some exercise.  Get up and get moving. There are a ton of sports and physical activities that can be done while camping. For example, play bocci ball or horseshoes, cast a line or go for a hike, swim or paddle. 

Camping Recipes

Planning a camping menu doesn’t have to be scary, but a lot of people get turned off from camping because it is not something usually associated with good food. Hot dogs, marshmallows and more hot dogs usually fill the menu because they're easy. Whether you’re grilling, cooking over an open fire or using a gas stove, food prepared outdoors has a unique flavour. Food is a big part of the adventure for us. While we do like to cook the occasional sausage over the fire, we also like to treat ourselves, and take the opportunity to cook food we would normally eat, in ways that we wouldn't normally cook it. Here are some of our favourite camping recipes.

camping recipes

Breakfast Burritos

pre-scrambled eggs (such as egg creations)
pre-chopped onions and red pepper
salt and pepper
leftover sausage
pre-shredded cheese
oil for frying

1. Fry onions and red peppers.
2. Add pre-scrambled eggs, then add sausage.
3. Once egg is scrambled, add cheese and allow to melt.
4. Add salt and pepper.
5. Wrap in warmed tortilla and serve.

camping breakfast burritos

Teriyaki Chicken 

pre-marinated chicken thighs

1. Wrap thawed, marinated chicken thighs in a double layer of aluminum foil.
2. Place packet(s) on a grate and allow to cook over the fire for about 2 hours.

Tip: Before the trip, add chicken and sauce of choice to ziplock bag and freeze. Not only will they be marinated when you are ready to eat them, they will also keep longer in the cooler if they are frozen.

Cheesy Potatoes

mini potatoes, sliced in half
chicken bouillon cube
pre-shredded cheese

1. Place a pot or pant on a grate above the fire. Fill with water and allow to boil.
2. Once water has boiled, add the bouillon cubes to create a stock.
3. Add mini potatoes to stock and cook until slightly tender. Stock should be reduced.
4. Wrap potatoes in a double layer of aluminum foil. Add butter before closing packet.
5. Remove pan/pot from grate and replace with potato packet. Allow to cook over fire until soft.
6. Once potatoes are cooked, open packet and add shredded cheese. Mix until cheese is melted.

cooking over the fire
camping recipes

Even though you're camping, you still need dessert.

Cinnamon rolls

Pillsbury cinnamon rolls

1. Open the cinnamon roll can and remove individual rolls.
2. Wrap around a roasting stick. Make sure to only wrap one layer or it won't cook through.
3. Hold away from flame to cook (unless you like the taste of burnt cinnamon roll).

cinnamon rolls over the fire

Beverages are of equal importance. Here are two of our favourites. 

hot toddy recipe

Hot Toddy
1-2 oz of whisky or rum
1 pack of apple cider mix
hot water

lemonade shandy recipe

1 can of light beer
1/2 pack of lemonade drink crystals

And last but not least, to make these meals a success, don't forget about including these staples in your camping gear: reusable mug, aluminium foil, reusable cups, plates and utensils and salt and pepper.

What are your favourite camping meals? Do you have any tips for cooking outdoors?

Enjoy this post? Check out more from my Camping Month series:
Favourite Camping Memories
10 Reasons to Go Camping
Favourite Camping Gadgets
Celebrate Dad with Energizer Headlight
Talking Camping // Sponsor Spotlight
Camping With Your Dog
Tips for Planning a Camping Menu

Tips for Planning a Camping Menu

One of the hardest parts of planning a camping trip is trying to figure out the menu. What can we prep in advance? What will keep? How much do we need? So many questions. A lot of people get turned off from camping because it is not something usually associated with good food. Hot dogs, marshmallows and more hot dogs usually fill the menu because they're easy.

We like to turn it up a notch when we're camping. Yes, we may do the standard sausages over the fire, buuutttt our camping menu also comes with plenty of other tasty options. How can you do the same? Follow these 10 tips for planning a delicious camping menu.

tips for camping menu planning

1. Plan ahead.
Write a detailed list of what you will be eating for each meal. This will also help when grocery shopping for the trip.

2. Choose meals that travel well.
How will you transport the food? How much space do you have? Choose menu items that don't take up a lot of space, or can be packed tight, get banged up and stored in light weight containers. You want food that won't spoil easily or leak in the cooler.

3. Be wary of the equipment.
Choose meals that do not require a lot of equipment to make, such as cooking stoves, pots and pans. If you can't avoid bringing a certain piece of equipment, make sure that it is utilized for every meal.

4. Wash, chop and store ahead of time.
You don't want to spend your mornings chopping while you're camping, so do it ahead of time to save the hassle. Put the prepped items in labeled ziplock bags or containers.

5. Marinade and freeze meals ahead of time.
If you're doing any type of meat, pour into a large freezer bag with the marinade and freeze. Not only will this marinade the meat, but freezing it will also help it stay colder for longer.

6. Put condiments in smaller containers.
Need ketchup, mustard or mayo? Instead of bringing the whole honkin' bottle, why not squeeze the amount you need into a smaller container to save space? Or, stock up on condiment packets the next time you hit up a fast food restaurant. The same goes with salt and pepper.

7. Aluminum foil is your friend. 
Make sure to have a  roll or two handy on your trip. Foil can be used to wrap up leftovers, to keep food warm, or to even cook food in the hot coals.

8. Take advantage of leftovers.
Incorporate leftovers into the next day's meal. For example, add leftover sausages or hot dogs to a breakfast burrito, or turn leftover bbq chicken into a chicken salad sandwich for lunch.

9. Be creative.
Just because you plan on cooking all of your food over the fire, doesn't mean you're limited to what you can cook. Ah, the power of aluminum foil. Get creative!

10. Be flexible.
Sometimes camping can be unpredictable - animals, weather, etc. may throw a wrench in your plans. Make sure you secure your food properly so it  is safe from animals, and cover any firewood if rain is predicted so that it stays dry. In the event that something does happen, prepare to abandon your camping menu and be able to think on your toes. 

Hopefully these tips and recipes have inspired you to want to go camping, or in the least, shown you that camping food isn't all that bad. You just have to get creative.

Do you have any other camping menu planning tips? 

Happy Summer Solstice! Use code 'solstice50' for 50% OFF all Small Town ad space.

Enjoy this post? Check out more from my Camping Month series:
Favourite Camping Memories
10 Reasons to Go Camping
Favourite Camping Gadgets
Celebrate Dad with Energizer Headlight
Talking Camping // Sponsor Spotlight
Camping With Your Dog

Camping with Your Dog

Are you thinking about taking your dog camping this summer? The outdoors is one of the best places to spend time with your furry friend. Like us, dogs need time to unwind and love to explore new places.

The key to a successful camping trip with your pet is to be prepared before you go, and while you are enjoying nature. Here are a few tips that will make camping with your dog a bit more enjoyable and safe experience.

Prior to the trip:
  1. Check that the park is dog friendly. Rules regarding dogs vary from park to park, so make sure to check before you go to avoid disappointment.
  2. Talk to your veterinarian. Make sure your dog is healthy and up to date on all required vaccinations, including rabies. Ask your vet about other precautions - such as mosquito, flea and tick control.
  3. Pack a copy of your dog’s medical records. This is especially important if you are crossing province/state/country lines. Have a local vet's number on hand in case of emergency.
  4. Bring extra drinking water for your dog. Do not allow your dog to drink out of standing bodies of water as it can make them sick. 
  5. Bring your dog's regular food and treats. To avoid problems, keep them on their regular schedule.
  6. Pack the other essentials - waste bags, bedding, toys, leash, collar and ID tags. Consider bringing a bear bell if camping in bear country. Consider the weather and sleeping arrangements when deciding what to bring.
  7. Know basic dog first aid. The most common injuries are to a dog’s foot pads, so be prepared before you go. Carry a first aid kit that includes a few extra supplies for your furry friend. Ask your vet if you need help knowing what supplies to include.

During the trip:
  1. Allow your dog plenty of time to adjust to the new surroundings. Being in a new location can often be overwhelming and stressful to your pets. All of the smells, sights and sounds can be stimulus overload. Take them on a walk around the area to explore and allow plenty of rest.
  2. Keep your dog leashed at all times. Never leave your dog unattended. This will help keep your dog safe, and avoid unwanted visitors. Most parks require a leash that does not exceed 6 feet in length.
  3. Be attentive to your dog’s health at all times. Consider your dog's needs during camping activities. If going on a day-long hike, allow plenty of time for your dog to rest. Remember, they overheat quickly. Give them plenty of water to cool down. If your dog begins acting unusual and you cannot figure out why, seek a local vet.
  4. Remove any leftover dog food. Store the dog’s food with your own, in a place where it will not attract unwanted wildlife.
  5. Always pick up after your dog. Make use of designated walking areas and remember, you are not the only one using the area. Carry environmentally-friendly dog bags to dispose of your dog’s waste in appropriate trash containers.
  6. Keep your dog under control at all times. Do not allow your dog to bark or wander off as it may disturb the wildlife and other campers. 
  7. Have fun!

Please note, while I would love to call these two pooches my own, Boomer and Kona belong to our friends in Alaska. We had the pleasure of going on many Alaskan hiking, fishing and camping adventures with them.

Do you take your dog camping? What are your tips for exploring the great outdoors with your furry friend?

Enjoy this post? Check out more from my Camping Month series:
Favourite Camping Memories
10 Reasons to Go Camping
Favourite Camping Gadgets
Celebrate Dad with Energizer Headlight
Talking Camping // Sponsor Spotlight

Talking About Camping // Sponsor Spotlight + GIVEAWAY

While living in Alaska, we still took every single chance we got to go on a camping adventure during the summer months. Moving back home to Ontario, we decided that although we may not be able to hop in the car and be in the wilderness in less than 30 minutes, we needed to carry on the tradition of at least one camping trip per summer. Whether it is the same place each year, or we switch it up to explore to each corner of the province, there can be no excuses as to why we don't go camping at least once a year. 

Ontario has an incredible parks system, with over 100 Provincial Parks and many many Conservation Areas that offer car camping, canoe camping and the more extreme back country camping. This summer, we've rounded up my sister in law, brother and brother's girlfriend, and we're heading back to Algonquin Provincial Parkthe oldest, largest and easily the most popular provincial park in Ontario. It is the largest remaining stretch of continuous forest in Ontario, and the perfect way to disconnect for a long weekend. 
Have you been camping? What is your favourite place to camp? What is your favourite camping memory? Where would you like to go camping?

In Some Places
Have you been camping? What is your favourite place to camp? What is your favourite camping memory? Where would you like to go camping?
I love camping! Since Girl Scouts campouts, singalongs, and hikes when I was young, camping has been a favorite pastime. I enjoy camping most in the Colorado mountains; I've been camping at Rocky Mountain National Park more times than I can count!  In 2009, I went camping in Yellowstone with my family. It was June but it was freezing - we didn't change almost the entire week because it was too cold in the bathrooms to justify taking clothes off. Even so, we spent the evenings huddled over the camp stove and reading by flashlight, and the days hiking around the park and warming ourselves near the thermal pools. I think the best part of camping is the simplicity of the experience and sharing that with those you are with. I am so excited to go camping in Kyrgyzstan when I move in August. I've been living in Seoul where we see maybe two stars at night because of the light pollution. The mountains of Kyrgyzstan are so removed from large sources of light pollution; I can't wait to gaze at the night sky.

New to In Some Places? Start here:

Find Brittany here:
Blog  |  Twitter  |  Bloglovin  |  Facebook 


Have you been camping? What is your favourite place to camp? What is your favourite camping memory? Where would you like to go camping?
I used to go camping every summer when I lived in Canada but not as frequently now that I'm older. My favorite camping story is having unnecessarily large bonfires and making up campfire stories as a group. I would love love love to go camping at Big Sur!

New to Alanna & Company? Start here:

Find Alanna here:
Blog  |  Twitter  |  Bloglovin  |  Instagram


Route Bliss
Have you been camping? What is your favourite place to camp? What is your favourite camping memory? Where would you like to go camping?
Honestly, I've never been camping before! I would love to if I had traveling companions who were up for it! If I could go camping somewhere right now -- somewhere in a national forest in the western US or in either Glacier National Park or Yosemite National Park.

New to Route Bliss? Start here:

Find Christina here:
Blog  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Bloglovin


Have you been camping? What is your favourite place to camp? What is your favourite camping memory? Where would you like to go camping?
I used to go camping all the time with my family. My favorite camping trip was two weeks camping in Colorado and Utah. I would love to camp somewhere near a beach next! 

New to The Siberian American? Start here:
Find Olya here:
Blog  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Bloglovin

Celebrating Dad with Energizer Headlight

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DadsMyHero #CollectiveBias

energizer headlight

Father's Day is about celebrating the dads in our lives and what makes them a hero. I am not afraid to admit that my dad is my hero. Ever since my brother, sister and I were young, he has worked extremely hard to provide for our family - to make sure we had, and continue to have, the best opportunities, including attending all of those out of town soccer and hockey tournaments and graduating from university debt free. I am forever grateful for what he has scarificed for us. Not to mention, the guy's a volunteer firefighter. In his spare time, he helps those he doesn't even know, which just ups the coolness factor. 

dad balloons; energizer headlight

One thing that I can always rely on my dad for is good advice, like when my husband and I were given the opportunity to move to Alaska. "What do you have to lose?", were his exact words as we hummed and hawed over whether it was the right decision. We had no idea what to expect, or what to pack - we only knew what we had heard, that it was cold and it was dark. I will never forget “packing day” - we were sprawled out in my parents' living room, with entirely way too much stuff already, and my dad handed us a headlight to put in our bag. He told us it would come in handy, and he was definitely right. We used that headlight for everything - taking our routine after-dinner winter walks, warming up the car in the dark morning hours, reading in bed and even during our many camping trips. It was the perfect hands free accessory for our Alaskan adventures.

My dad has always put the needs of others above his own. So, with his retirement fast approaching this summer, we decided to make it all about him by bringing together friends and family to celebrate this milestone. After plenty of good food, good drinks and good laughs, we ended the night with a bang by putting on a spectacular fireworks show. Thanks to the new Energizer headlight that I recently purchased from Walmart using 
this couponwe were able to show dad just how much we really care. 

energizer headlight

Dad, we are extremely proud of you and can’t thank you enough for what you have done for us. Happy Father’s Day!

energizer headlight

Be sure to check out more amazing uses for Energizer Headlights here, and purchase your own with this coupon

How do you celebrate Dad?
What would you do with your Energizer headlight?

Camping in Bear Country

Bears are opportunistic omnivores with incredible senses, and in the scent-driven world that they live in, they rely on their nose to find their next meal. Because of this sense of smell, it’s extremely important to be "bear aware", and maintain a clean campsite on your summer camping adventure.

Growing up, "bear" was not a normal word in the vocabulary whenever my family was camping or at the cottage. But as time has passed, the word has become more and more popular as sightings of black bears in southern Ontario continue to grow. In a place where bears were once non-existent, or at least during our time, people are now unsure of how to deal with their presence. Where we once put our trash in a wooden box by the side of the road when we left after a long weekend, there is a metal structure, bolted down that only those wiith small fingers can access. It has become as much about changing the attitudes of the people, as it is about the bears.

Whether you are camping in black bear or brown bear country, it is important to be aware of your behaviour and surroundings.

10 Tips for Camping in Bear Country:

  1. Select an appropriate campsite. Use designated sites when available. Avoid areas near berry patches, dead animals, streams/waterfalls and wildlife trails, and watch for bear signs (footprints, scat, tree scratches, etc.).
  2. Never approach wildlife. Give wild animals plenty of space (at least 100 meters). Watch for bear cubs especially, and be sure to never get in between a mama bear and her  babies. Bears may become aggressive if they feel their young are threatened. 
  3. A fed bear is a dead bear. Do not feed the wildlife - their natural foods are much healthier. Once an animal becomes accustomed to being fed by humans, they become a threat to public safety. Keep the animals wild. 
  4. Keep your sleeping gear and tent free of odours. Never cook or eat in or near the tent. Store the clothing you cooked in with your food. If possible, cook at least 100 meters downwind from your sleeping area.
  5. Pack all garbage back out of wilderness areas. Do not bury garbage as bears can easily locate the remnants and dig it up. If burning food, ensure every last bit is burned. Store garbage in a tight container, with your food.
  6. Use a flashlight at night and make noise when out walking. This will reduce the likelihood of surprising a bear.
  7. Listen to park officials. If a park official tells you to avoid a certain area, please listen to them. They are the professionals.
  8. Carry bear spray. When sprayed directly in the animals’ face, it causes eye and respiratory tract irritation. Before spraying, ensure you have read the instructions and have the ideal wind conditions (i.e. you don't want to spray it in your own face).
  9. Dog safety and behaviour. Keep your pets on a leash at all times and never leave them unattended. Store their food and dishes properly. Also keep an eye on your dog’s behaviour - they will be the first to tell you if you are in the presence of a “visitor”. 
  10. “Bear proof” your food! Store all food and scented items (see list below) in bear resistant food storage facilities where available, or create a bear hang in the trees (instructions below). 

It is important to note, you cannot entirely ''bear proof" something. There is always the chance a crafty bear will come along and destroy what stands in its way. The idea is to create something that is resistant or deterrent, something that the bear will have to put way more effort into than what it's worth. And, even if you are not in bear country, these tips are 
still good to follow as there may be other hungry critters out there, such as raccoons, mice and squirrels.

    Items Considered Bear Attractants:

    • Food and beverages
    • Coolers, food storage containers
    • Garbage
    • Pet food/dishes
    • BBQ grease
    • Perfumed items (soap, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.)
    • Wastewater from cooking and washing dishes
    • Tablecloths, napkins, etc.
    • Cooking utensils (pots, dishes, cups, etc.)
    • Clothing that you cooked/ate in

    Tips for Properly Hanging Food:

    1. Place all food and scented items (those on list above) in a waterproof stuff sack. Our favourite bag to use is The North Face Base Camp Duffel.
    2. Find a sturdy branch, about 20 feet from the ground.
    3. Tie a rock to the end of your rope, and throw it over the branch.
    4. Tie the end of the rope to your sack, and haul it up towards the branch. The bag should be at least 12 feet from the ground, 6 feet from the branch and 10 feet from the trunk of the tree.
    5. Tie the other end of the top to a nearby tree trunk or branch. Make sure it is a tight knot.

    This diagram is not to scale - it simply demonstrates how a bear hang should look. What works for us may not work for you, so please do your research on alternative methods and practice hanging a bag at home beforehand. 

    Please note: There are so many things to consider when camping in bear country that this post could have easily been a series in itself. I am also not a bear expert. Having worked at a zoo that cares for black, brown and polar bears, as well as living and camping in bear country, I have learned a thing or two about their behaviour.

    Enjoy this post? Check out more from my Camping Month series:
    Favourite Camping Memories
    10 Reasons to Go Camping
    Favourite Camping Gadgets

    Have you camped in bear country? Do you have any advice or questions about camping in bear country?