Sharper Image Electric S’mores Maker Review

At first glance, an Electric S’mores Marker would be the perfect Christmas gift. This gift was passed down to us from Sandie’s mom who doesn’t like S’mores, which also makes me wonder if I REALLY know my mother-in-law, and we were excited to give it a try!

If you’re looking at purchasing this product also check out our video review below.

After opening the Electric S’mores Maker we quickly began to doubt how well it would work. It’s built about as well as any other mediocre “Made in China” appliance yet it has a $79.99 price tag. It’s essentially a small hot plate with a metal cover and includes a base to hold all your S’mores stuff. After seeing this I realized our dreams of delicious indoor S’mores may have just been shattered, but there was no stopping us from trying it out.

When we gave it a shot, the Electric S’mores Maker does indeed melt marshmallows, but it took over 3 minutes for it to happen and the kids aren’t that patient. There’s also not much room for the kids to roast 4 marshmallows at the same time. It doesn’t brown the marshmallows when they’re cooking, so you won’t get the crispness on the outside. It basically makes a melted mess without the best parts of the S’mores (crispy cooked sugar and open flames).

After all of our poking, prodding, testing and eating we were fairly disappointed in the Sharper Image Electric S’mores Maker. It may be a good novelty gift if it was $60 cheaper, but at $79.99 it’s a rip-off. In the future if we want S’mores and can’t wait for a campfire well do as they did in The Sandlot and use a candle.

If you have any ideas for making good S’mores indoors share them in the comments below. We’re still on the hunt for making the perfect S’more without a campfire.

How to reseal RV windows the right way

We needed to figure out how to reseal RV windows out of necessity. When we bought our trailer we had roof leaks and most of our windows were leaking. These window leaks were caused by shoddy materials used at the factory (foam weather seal tape) and lack of maintenance.

The first few windows we resealed were the ones we removed to rebuild the rear walls. This is where we made our mistakes and figured out what works. Our two most important lessons learned was to use extra butyl take on the sides with an aluminum sided trailer to fill all the gaps and to give the butyl tape time to squeeze out before trimming. If you seal over the butyl tape too soon it will bulge the caulk out.

Check out our video to see how we reseal RV windows!

Below are the items needed to do the job.

  • Cordless drill
  • #2 square drive bit
  • Paint scraper – I use a 6 in 1 painters tool for the pointed edge
  • Butyl tape
  • Painters tape – I like to use 1/4″ 3M masking tape for curves
  • Caulk gun
  • RV specific sealant – I use GeoCel Pro Flex RV, but there are others available

When I reseal RV windows it usually takes me less than an hour to complete each one. Here are the steps I follow for each window.

  1. To get started, remove the window trim from the inside of the RV (it’s a good idea to support the window from the outside when doing this).
  2. After the window is free you’ll need to cut any caulk and pry the window out from outside.
  3. Once the window is out of the hole you’ll need to spend some time cleaning off all the old sealant. Make sure the surfaces are clean where the window seals against the trailer and be sure to remove all traces of silicone if it was used in the past.
  4. Now that the window is clean apply the butyl tape all the way around the window frame. I add an extra layer of butyl on the sides where the aluminum siding is uneven.
  5. Now that the butyl tape has been applied you can reinstall the window. Again, support the window from the outside so you don’t push it out when installing the window trim. When tightening the screws on the window trim tighten a little at a time and rotate around the window to pull it in evenly.
  6. What I look for is that the butyl tape squeezes out and fills all the gaps around the window.
    I give it a day or 2 for the rubber to stop squeezing out around the windows before trimming it. I then apply a RV specific sealant to the edges to seal it nicely.

This process has worked well for us and keeps the water out. If you have any questions, suggestions, or ideas please leave them in the comments below.

How we use our Andersen Rapid Jack

We’ve seen a lot of discussion online regarding this jack and wanted to show how we use our Andersen Rapid Jack (affiliate link). After we finished our travel trailer rebuild in 2014 we decided it would be smart to carry along a jack since there was a good chance we’d need one. I was looking for a quick way to change tires on the road and when I came across the Andersen Rapid Jack I had to give it a try.

Since we’re traveling with four kids I wanted to keep any down time, especially repairs on the side of the road, to a minimum if possible. If you’ve had the pleasure of whining kids and car problems you’ll understand that it’s the most enraging combination possible. The idea of a bottle jacks and blocks of wood at night in the rain instantly comes to mind and that’s not my idea of a fun camping trip. While camping with the family I’d shooting for simple especially when I can plan ahead a bit.

The Rapid Jack is basically a half moon shaped wedge that’s placed in front or behind one tire (tandem axles are required) that lifts the other tire off the ground. When using the Rapid Jack you leave the trailer hooked to the trailer and use the tow vehicle to lift and lower the trailer. All you need for the jack to work is one good tire on the same side as the tire you need to get off the ground. This idea is perfect for repairing flat tires, brakes, or bearings while on the road. Check our our video below showing the Rapid Jack in use.

After owning this jack for over a year, carrying it with us every trip, and using occasionally I’d recommend it to anyone with a bumper pull travel trailer. I’ve read quite a few complaints from 5th wheel owners that have had their Rapid Jack with <15,000lb trailers, so if you're towing a heavy trailer you my want to look into alternatives. Our trailer is <7,000lbs and has been a perfect addition to our toolkit.

Camping: Our 22 hours at French Creek State Park

Sometimes the stars align. On Election Day this year, they did for us. It happened to be Mark’s birthday and since our polls are held in our school, the kids had off too. On top of all of this, the weather was 70 and sunny. So what better way to end the camping season for 2015. With all this good fortune, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, us being us, we didn’t realize all this until two days before Election Day. So our planning and preparing were nearly non-existent especially because for at least a day I though Mark was joking when he first suggested the one night trip. We were going to have to leave after the kids got home from school the day before Election Day which left daylight in short supply.

We picked French Creek State Park due to its fairly close proximity to our house at about an hour away. They also had open sites for pets available so we tried our best to hightail it out of the driveway after the kids got home. Still, we were racing twilight and…

We lost.

Honestly, I think if anyone could see us in the dark, with tiny flash lights and my poor hand signals they would have gotten a good laugh. Navigating into a spot in the dark is never fun. I half-joked that we’ll need to buy a pair of traffic batons for the next time we arrive after dark. What is great about these is that the kids can play Star Wars if they get bored. There’s a win-win right there.

After setting up and dinner, we need to get everyone to bed fairly quickly. We didn’t have a lot of time the next day so we wanted to get an early start. More importantly, we REALLY didn’t want to have to attempt to get our trailer up our mega-steep driveway in the dark either. At least, not without my fancy traffic batons.

The next day after some exploring around the camp area and hitting the playground, we decided to take the kids on a 5 mile hike. Five miles was probably 3.5 miles too many. OK, 4 miles too many. Possibly, 4.5 miles too many. We had no hiking shoes which wouldn’t have been a big deal if not for the completely rock covered trails we were about to embark on for the next 3+ hours. So, in addition to the batons, I added hiking boots to the list of to-gets. I always go for looks first which is why I have a husband to talk me out of picking the wrong shoes. I would go with the pink or teal.

And for my favorite littlest lady, some pink to match.

Needless to say, walking for 3 hours with kids over rocky paths (imagine sharp cobblestone) is going to elicit some whining, complaining, refusal to go another step and finally begging to be carried. I still told Mark no, I didn’t care if it was his birthday. He was the one who got us into this mess and he was going to have to walk like everyone else.

When we finished the loop there was much rejoicing and grumbling tummies. BUT, it was getting late now that daylight savings had started we really needed to head out so we packed up and grabbed some lunch on the way home.

We made it back with plenty of daylight and the burgers we brought for lunch became dinner.

I would definitely put French Creek in our rotation for another camping trip. I had been to the pool years before and it was a nice walk-in pool. We didn’t get to see Hopewell Furnace this trip so there is still plenty of exploring to do in the summer. I think lounging by the pool would be more appealing to the kids than another 5 mile hike anyway. It sure does sounds better to me.

If you’ve been you French Creek, what were some of your favorite activities.  Feel free to leave them in the comments below so we can add them to our list for next time.

How to install tongue jack quick release brackets

In this weeks post we show you how to install tongue jack quick release brackets.  Last week we posted how to install quick release stabilizer brackets to avoid dragging our stabilizers when going in and out of our driveway.  Because of our ridiculously steep and narrow driveway we also need to remove our tongue jack to avoid ripping it off.  It’s only 3 bolts, but it started to become a real pain in the butt after a while.  When I saw the Jack-E-Up (Amazon affiliate link) I wasn’t sure it would work well, but needed to give it a shot.

 

Install the tongue jack quick release

Checkout the below video to follow along as we install the Jack-E-Up on our travel trailer using the existing BAL side crank jack.

 

All the parts needed to complete the install are included in the package.  The only thing I didn’t expect was the need to reuse the old bolts that held the jack to the trailer.  New bolts are provided to secure the plate to the jack, but the original bolts are used to attached the bracket to the trailer frame.  It wasn’t a big deal for me, but if your bolts are a little beat up I’d pickup some new ones before starting.

The install from start to finish should take less than an hour.  You just need to remove 3 bolts that hold the jack in place, install the mount to the trailer A frame with those same bolts, and then install the adapter plate on the jack using the supplied bolts, nuts and washers.

 

Operation

Using the Jack-E-Up is simple and requires no tools.  Just insert the jack through the hole in the mount and give it 1/6 of a turn to line-up the bolts with the notches.  Once you start to jack the trailer the weight will lock it into place.

To remove the jack you’ll need to have the trailer supported on the hitch, lower the jack and once the weight is removed you’ll be able to turn it 1/6 of a turn to remove it.

 

My thoughts

The product is a great idea, simple to install and easy to use.  It’s not for everyone, but if you tend to drag your jack I’d easily recommend the Jack-E-Up.  There aren’t a lot of products that make my life easier, but this is one of them.  In the end, it’s not one of those fun upgrades, but it does help me start to enjoy our camping trips a bit sooner than I would have without it.