Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ozark Mesh Chair Review

Living the Jeep life to the fullest includes being outdoors with your Jeep family. Whether it is at a Jeep show, wheeling event, a lazy day on the beach, or those social gatherings with your Jeep family, extra seating is always needed. BYOC translates to bring your own chair.  I recommend the Ozark Mesh Chair.  It is the most comfortable outdoor seating I've owned thus far.

Ozark Mesh Chair Review

I find most "lawn chairs" to be very comfortable or feel very unstable. I don't like chairs that fall apart quickly, that wobble when I sit down, or that feel like they are going to tip over. I also don't like lawn chairs that cut into the backs of my legs or into the back of my neck. This year I purchased the Ozark Mesh Chair and I love it!

The facts:
  • mesh panel in the middle of the back and the seat
  • durable steel frame
  • dimensions 35.8" W x 23.2" D x 38.1" H
  • weight capacity 300 lbs/136 kg
  • folds for portability
  • comes with a carrying/storage bag

My thoughts:
  • the mesh keeps my backside from getting sweaty
  • the chair is large - roomy and comfortable.
  • two cups holders are handy - one for my drink, one for my cell phone (medium sized cell phone)
  • the back supports of the chair stop lower than the top of the material on the back of the chair. This means that the top side of the chair does not cut into my back. -- even if I slouch and lean my head back to watch the stars.
  • weighs approximately 7 lbs.  I was surprised. I guestimated that it weighed 5 lbs or less. But my bathroom scale shows it weighs 7 lbs.  (note: my bathroom scale has been known to lie).

I purchased my chair during a last minute stop at a local big box store on my way to a Jeep event. I purchased it with the thought that it would probably be cheap and annoying, and I'd have to replace it with a better one when I had time to shop. But I have to tell you, I love this chair and am going to buy a second one. On Amazon, you can find similar chairs, in different sizes or with different options to suit your needs. The Ozark Trail chair with lumbar support is a tempting choice too.

Other recommended seating options:

The Jammock

Several folks in my Jeep family have purchased the Jammock and they love it.  I haven't looked at it seriously for myself because I know I'd need someone to use a crane or a winch to help me back out of it.  But it looks like a great idea and the folks who have them, love them.  They say it's a comfortable and easy way to relax and enjoy the views. I do enjoy seeing the photos of people in the Jeep club, lounging around on top of their Jeeps, with a birds-eye view during parking lot events. For a better description of what the Jammock is and how it works, check out the official Jammock site.

The Jammock

Zero Gravity Chair

Other Jeep folks I know have talked about their love of their Zero Gravity chairs. Talk about comfortable lounging!  I know that I have been on the trails or at the campsite and have wanted to just lean back and put my feet up. This comfortable chair allows you to do just that. 
Zero Gravity Chair

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Jeep Love

Your co-workers think you are admiring the flowers.  Meanwhile, you are thinking about moving them because they are blocking the view.  It's a Jeep thing!

(kidding! I love the flowers too.)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

My No-Recipe Pumpkin Chili Recipe

Chili Madness recipes by Jane Butel
Do you love chili but want something a bit different? The solution is to add a can of pure pumpkin to your own recipe. Pumpkin is not only healthy, it also adds a subtle but wonderful additional flavor to your chili. Homemade chili is really pretty easy to make and can be adjusted to your taste.

My No-recipe Pumpkin Chili Recipe

I recently attended a Jeep event that included bringing a food item for a potluck meal. Sounds easy enough, right? But what if you aren't a very good cook? And what if the event is being held in a snow-covered field. Well, I solved the problem of transporting hot food to a cold weather outdoor event.  I just needed a easy recipe that I wouldn't ruin.  How much easier than a no-recipe pumpkin chili recipe could it be?


Bell Pepper
1 tube of Sausage ("hot" if I'm cooking for others, "sage" if I'm cooking for myself)
1 lb of ground beef
1 large can of red kidney beans
1 large can of black beans
1 or 2 cans of diced tomatoes
1 can of pumpkin (pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling)

spices: chili powder, ground pepper, red pepper powder, and sometimes a bit of old bay powder

IKEA Stock Pot - My favorite kitchen item


  • dice the pepper and onion into small pieces
  • in a large stock pot, saute the onion and pepper
  • add the sausage and begin browning
  • add the ground beef and brown
  • after the meats are fully cooked, add the red kidney beans and black beans - simmer
  • after some of the bean juice has cooked off, add the can(s) of diced tomatoes.
  • sprinkle with chili powder, ground pepper, red pepper powder and other spices to taste - simmer
  • after the chili has simmered down for awhile, add a can of pure pumpkin
  • you may need to add more spices to taste
  • simmer

If you prefer having a proven chili recipe to follow, Chili Madness is a great recipe book.  I won't be offended if you don't try my no-recipe chili recipe. However, I hope that at some point you try a can of pumpkin in your chili. I believe you will love it as much as I do.  Happy eating!

How to Transport Hot Food to a Cold Weather Outdoor Event

Whether you are an occasional cold-weather tailgater, or a Jeeper who goes wheeling on snowy trails, transporting and keeping more than a single serving of hot food hot is a dilemma that requires creative solutions.  Here is your hot food for cold weather solution. How cold is cold? Cold enough that the carwash turns your Jeep to ice. How hot is hot? Hot enough that the food is still steaming by the time you eat.

The Occasion - Outdoor Potluck in the Snow with the Jeep Club

Some occasions call for outdoor set-ups complete with propane stoves or crock-pots with extension cords to nearby power sources. But if you are on the move with little equipment you have to be creative.  As a new member of a fantastic Jeep club, I was invited to an outdoor event that was being held in a snow-covered field.  The event included a potluck meal.  As I had never been to this event, I had imagined an outing similar to bonfires in the "back 40" - a field far from a house or civilization.

Jeeps in a snowy field
Of course I decided I was in the mood for chili. I would usually take hot food to a potluck in my crockpot and plug it in upon my arrival. But I didn't expect electricity at this event.  After much online research, I found that most food-related articles in cold weather had to do with football games and tailgating. Often those events included propane stoves, RVs, bar-b-que grills, and everything including a kitchen sink. But I needed to travel light.

I found the perfect solution. Chili transported in a large thermos.  And I kept it warm with that thermos, beach towels, and a five gallon bucket. Does this sound strange? It did to me too but it ended up to be a wonderful way to keep my chili warm.

The Coleman Thermos

Coleman 1 gallon thermos
After doing some research, without much help, and doing a lot of thinking, I chose this 1 gallon Coleman thermos for this outing. As you read on, you will see that it worked amazingly well.  The lid screws off completely, which made filling it with food easy. Best of all, it was inexpensive compared to many other thermoses of similar size.

It cleaned up really well. Even after having chili in it for the day, I brought it home and washed with with dish soap and a few drops of bleach. It is as clean as new.

If I go to this even next year, I may choose an even larger version of this thermos and make a double batch of my chili. However, this was the perfect size for one batch of chili.

Keeping it warm - the process

This was an experiment. And my first outdoor adventure with the Club.  I was afraid that my first impression would be cold chili served from a five gallon bucket.  But not only did the chili remain warm, it was hot and steaming by the time I dished some up for myself.  And I waited until near the end of the potluck line.

  • cooked my no-recipe chili the night before and refrigerated it
  • put it on the stove to warm while I gather things in the morning - heated it to a very low simmer
  • ran very hot water in the thermos to warm the inside of the thermos
  • poured the chili into the warmed thermos and closed the lid immediately
  • wrapped the thermos in aluminum foil -in case of leaks more than as a plan for heat
  • wrapped the thermos in two thick towels
  • placed the wrapped thermos into the five gallon bucket
The time-line was (very loosely) as follows:

  • prepared myself and the food and loaded up around 7:30 am
  • drove to the first meeting spot and waited
  • convoyed with that group of Jeeps to the next meeting spot and waited briefly
  • convoyed with a huge group of gorgeous Jeeps to the event spot
  • delivered my chili bucket to the outdoor potluck table and joined the event in the field
  • returned to the potluck/bonfire area to eat
All told, my chili had been off the stove and in the thermos for 3 - 4 hours.  And nearly all of that time it was left in my Jeep in a parking lot or on a potluck table outside during very cold weather. And as I mentioned, my chili - what was left of it - was still steaming when I dipped some out.

The Process - In Photos

Because it is hard to imagine a thermos, towels, and a bucket in action, I decided to post a few photos. 

Place the hot food in the heated thermos

optional aluminum foil  - I chose it in case of  leaks

place a large towel, or two, in a bucket

place the thermos into the bucket and fold the towels over the top

If you need to travel light but have an outdoor, snowy potluck to attend, I hope you aren't intimidated about bringing hot food.  With a bit of creativity, having hot food on the trails isn't as difficult as one might think.  Happy wheeling to you.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Protect Your Jeep Wrangler Interior

Protecting the interior of my Jeep is important to me. That's why I reviewed these five items to help.  Wranglers are well-built vehicles.  I don't feel as though I have to be at all gentle with it.  Even so, I want to protect my Jeep interior and prevent early aging or excess wear-and-tear.

These items are:

  • seat covers
  • console covers 
  • steering covers
  • floor mats
  • entry guards (sill covers)

Protecting your Jeep seats

Trek Armor Seat Covers
Seat covers provide excellent protection to a large portion of your Jeep's interior.  In my interior, my seats are the only things that I worry much about damaging to the point of needing to replace.  I've owned my Jeep for several years now. And the seats are holding up very well. No noticeable change except for one small spot of damage caused by extreme carelessness. But, with all of my outdoor activities, packing my Jeep full of stuff for outings such as camping, and my dog as my almost constant co-pilot, I am afraid I will rip a seat or cause a permanent stain. Seat covers are an excellent way to protect seats.

Seat covers, for Jeeps, come in a huge range of prices and styles. You can base your decision on something decorative or matchy-matchy. Or you can base your decision on durability.  I lean toward the durable.

At a recent Jeep club event, I listened as as a woman described her Trek Armor seat covers. She talked about how well they fit, that they looked as though they came with the Jeep.  I had to agree.  She also described how easy they are to clean and how durable they have been. Based on what she said about her Trek Armor seat covers, I have made my decision to go with Trek Armor.

Protecting your Jeep console

I have found this very cool console cover that matches my slush mats and protects my console. In my Jeep, more rests on my center console than just my right elbow. I've hauled long items in my Jeep (such as my bumper) and laid them on the console and hung them out the back window.  My dog runs across it as he gets in and out of the Jeep. Or he stands there, back feet on the back seat and front paws on the center console as we approach the places he likes to visit. My console takes quite a bit of abuse.

Please note that some of the Trek Armor sets also provide a console cover. In case you want upholstered instead of tread decor.

Protecting your hands and your steering wheel

Steering wheels are one of the most used interior parts and benefit from a protective cover. Have you ever owned a vehicle and after time the steering wheel became worn; smooth in sections and textured in sections?  I don't want that to happen to my Jeep steering wheel. And, I want to protect my hands from the summer heat on those days that my top is down and the sun is bright.

This Speed Grip cover is highly recommended. Reviews include phrases such as "high quality", "durability", and "get it, you won't regret it."

Preventing carpet wear 

Slush Mats
Even though my carpets lift out and I can hose off my Jeep floor and let the water flow out of the plugs (something I've had to do when the fish bait cooler tipped over) I use slush mats to eliminate some of that extra work. Also, if you go wheeling or mudding, you has seen the copious amount of dirt and mess that finds it's way into your carpets.  Even if you don't hit the trails, carpets get wet, dirty, and full of debris pretty quickly.

I can't stop talking about how much I love my Jeep slush mats. They are awesome. I received mine as a gift not long after I purchased the Jeep. They show no signs of wear and tear. They catch all of the slush, snow, mud, and dirt that I drag into the Jeep.  

Protecting your painted door jambs

Entry Guards
Entry guards are extremely easy to install and add a high level of protection to your door jambs. Standing only a bit over 5 feet tall, I often use the door jamb as a step as I climb in and out of the Jeep  With mud, sand, or pebbles in my shoe treads, this paint could become damaged over time.  The guards are durable and protect this exposed paint. Besides, entry covers just look good.

If you drive a Jeep Wrangler and want to give some protection to the interior, these are the five items that are highly recommended by myself and others whose Jeeps I know.  For more ideas about protecting the interior of your Jeep, you can visit the Jeep Blog and see how to Outfit Your Jeep 101: Interior.  Their article includes a great idea for protecting both your Jeep interior and your larger Jeep-loving dog while off-roading.  Great idea, I wish I had thought of it.