Friday, November 18, 2016

Living Large in a Tiny Home

It has been almost eleven months since moving out of our beautiful home and into a fifth wheel and I would be lying if I told you I didn't miss that home, my garden, my quilting, but most of all, I miss my daily routine with my grandchildren and daily they tell my husband and I, how much they miss us!

We had a morning routine, an after school routine, nightly sit down dinners at the dining table and a bedtime routine and now, our morning routine is done via texting and while I write this, I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes.

We knew the time would come when they would transition to living with their dad or going off to college, but we didn't expect the abruptness with which it happened. Ahhh, but this isn't about 'THAT,' story.

There were things I absolutely had to have living in our new home:
1- Photos that sat on our night tables for over 30 years are now in our living room.
2- Photos of all our grands, are now taped to a small space on a living room slide and as I get more pictures, I will find a space for them as well.
3- My Kitchenaid bright red stand mixer, is in my closet.
4- My books and bibles are stacked neatly in a pile on the floor and on a small box in our bedroom and as I read them and complete them, they are donated to others as they were donated to me.
5- I have taken up crochet as I can't quilt and it is NOT the same and not a day goes by that I do not miss my quilting and it is all in storage as I cannot bear to part with it.

What works and what hasn't?

The small RV dish drainers are to small, so we finally broke down and purchased a full sized drain rack. I hate to admit it, but with only two of us living here, I don't wash dishes every day.

While our fifth wheel is insulated, the floors are cold even with carpeting, so we have rugs down and that truly does help. We are also purchasing styrofoam insulation to place under the slides.

Windows are single paned, but applying bubble wrap to them using the removable hooks tape helps immensely. We can't use the shrink plastic because our interior windows have screens and the plastic won't stick to them.

Absolutely the best money spent thus far was for a cyclonic vent cover for the plumbing vent for less than $25. It works by sucking the odors out of our holding tank in the bathroom. When hubby went to put it on the vent it took less than ten minutes. When the wind blows, the vent changes directions and we haven't had the smells since!

I am not advocating you shop at Tweety's if you have an RV, but I am just placing a link to the type of vent we have should you want to invest in one. you won't be sorry and you will save yourself the money that the more expensive ones sell for and do the same job!

I have learned no matter what I am cooking, keep the vent fan on as cooking is the #1 cause of humidity in an RV and humidity is NOT an RV's friend. We also use a regular house sized dehumidifier and when it rains in Washington we can empty out over 2 gallons of water a day!

The heating vent for the bedroom is under the bed of all places, so we purchased a vent deflector and now the heat blows into our room instead of being blocked by our bed.

Investing in magnetic vent covers helps force air to the areas you need heat to be and blocks off the ones you do not need such as the one under the dogs kennel.

Keep a back up supply of light bulbs, you will need them when you least expect them and our RV uses specific bulbs, not your regular house bulb because our lights even when connected to power, operate solely off batteries!

Before you find yourself locked in as I did, do a trial run with someone inside and have someone lock the doors from the outside. In our RV, once the doors are locked from the outside, no one inside can get out. That was a huge thing to learn and at that time, I was so grateful we had a key put up for the grands if they needed to come by.

We have all we need in our fifth wheel and I keep bins in my closet to hold extra toothpaste and items I can find on sale. I do NOT go overboard as I have no place to put things.

Do not settle! Do not make a snap decision!

We made a list of the things we absolutely had to have, a list of things we wanted to have and we knew what we did not want. Look on line on Ebay, check out your local RV lots, RV shows and take your time.

We knew we wanted:
  1. A place to have 2 recliners and our television to be in front of those and not like so many RV's are and have them on a wall in the back of the RV where you have to turn your head.
  2. A walk around bed, it was important to be able to stand up and make my bed or get in and out of my bed without having to crawl in. 
  3. Queen sized bed/platform. We paid good money for our amazing mattress and I was taking it with us. Our RV came with a huge king sized foam mattress and we found a family in need and gave it to them.
  4. Cabinet space! We still have empty cabinets. I have 2 pantries in my kitchen, a large dish cabinet, a cabinet for my trash bin, lots of cabinet space for my crock pot, toaster, cooking pans, etc. In the living room we have a total of 8 cabinets, 2 desk drawers and a writing space if needed. The bathroom has a small overhead cabinet and our bedroom has more closet and drawer space then we find we use.
  5. Forced air! We did not want a small electrical wall unit. Our heat is forced air, our A/C is a single unit with vents throughout the house.
  6. Slide covers. If you get slides, you will want the covers to protect your slide from the elements. Just periodically check the to ensure birds haven't made nests under them or in our case, yellow jackets. We do get an occasional tree frog serenading us as well!
  7. Hooks and silicone! We found early on our hooks didn't stay on the wall long, so the ones we use for keys, mirrors, robes, hubby siliconed them to the walls. We do not use nails or screws.
  8. Windows! I wanted light, so we have nine windows in the living/dining area with day night shades. 
  9. Have a place to keep laundry hampers. We have 2 of those netted pop up types, 1 next to hubbies side of the bed and another in my closet.
We wanted an expandable dining table, so when we have company, we can pull the table out and our extra chairs are kept under the belly.

One thing I wanted or so I thought was a washer/dryer combination, however after talking to other Rver's, checking out reviews on these we discovered that:
  • They put out way to much humidity in the RV
  • They do not dry your clothes well
  • They are expensive to run
  • They are expensive to buy
After looking at the costs associated with them, we figured it would take over six years in laundry costs to break even. We could purchase a stackable as we have hook ups for them, but it would eliminate hubbies closet space and he needs it for work uniforms.

Once a week, we gather our hampers, laundry supplies and head out to the laundromat. We have two that are local, kept very clean and we get there early.

Hubby and our oldest son go and carry supplies in. While I load the washers, they head off to our local dump and take our trash and my son's trash as it is cheaper than having trash pick up.

In less than 2 hours, we are in our two loads of laundry for the week are washed, dried, folded and done! Total cost? $9 to $12 depending on if it is bed sheet washing week.

The other thing you need to remember is to check the payload on your tow vehicle. In our case, we can have a few things loaded in the trailer, but when we move, most of our things must be binned up and put into my vehicle.

DON'T LEASE an RV space! If you are going to be full-timers as we are, do not jump into a lease right away. Rent the space for a few weeks or a month to make sure it is the right fit.

Important to us were several things:
  1. Noise levels from dogs, neighbors, roads, trains, etc. (Our first spot we rented for awhile had neighbors that fought day and night and many times outside next to our bedroom window and there were dogs that barked frequently and a train, but I got used to the train!) Where we are now, is peaceful.
  2. Space. How much space do you have? Our first lot was to small, my vehicle had to fit between our place and the neighbors, hubby truck had to be next to the trash bin and he had no place for his work van. Our new place has plenty of parking.
  3. Utilities. We get charged for what we use here and in our old place, but some RV parks charge an upfront fee for so many KWH and then gouge you for anything over that!
  4. Animal parks or runs. Our old place had a small patch of grass we could take the dog to our walk her to local school, but our new place has an actual fenced in yard for her to play in, the kids to come play in and feels more like home. If you have a small dog or cat, yard space may not matter, but we have a larger dog who loves to run!
What are you parking on? Our old place was solid pack dirt and mostly mud when it rained, the drives were loaded with pot holes. Our new place our RV sits on a sold concrete pad, we have enough space for a patio section, the dirt road is solid pack and gravel so as good as asphalt. My only issue is the pine needles, but a broom and hose works great!

We are blessed to live close to my son, so if I don't have something I need and I know he does, I go over and borrow it. If I need to bake or cook large items, I use their kitchen. Many RV parks have a common kitchen space you can reserve and use.

Bottom line is, it takes adjustments, it isn't for everyone, but don't jump in with both feet until you have done your homework.

Oh and one more piece of advice, you will either have to pay cash or find a bank or credit union that will loan to full-timers, most will not if you reveal to them up front that is your plan.

Be flexible and learn all you can about your RV.

I have a notebook with how to empty the tanks, what size bulbs we need, how to change propane, etc..

It isn't a bad life, get a hobby, find something to do and don't just sit around!



Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Calling All Quilters For Stand By Disaster Needs!

As many of you know, I am now living in a 5th wheel and do not have an inch of space available to hold onto quilts and I can't afford to store them because we already have a storage unit full to the gills that someday we hope to place into another home or at least one of our children's homes!

Hurricane Matthew is on its way to Florida. It has already left death and destruction in its path in Haiti and I am unsure about Cuba at this time.

Quilters, if it hits Florida, I am going to be in need of quilts to send to the areas hit to provide these families with fresh, clean and handmade quilts and I will need all of you to let me know you can do this.

I have a few family members and friends that are going to step up I am sure after checking on their own homes and businesses and be willing to help get these quilts passed out to those in need.

Quilts are expensive to ship, I suggest you speak with your quilt guild, church, friends and family and ask them if they would be willing to donate for the postage costs.  I have learned if you put quilts into a large garbage bag, attach your vacuum and suck all the air out, you can save a bit on postage and fit more into a box.

When sending quilts, since I cannot go through them, please, please do NOT send ratty, tatty, stinky, smelly, stained with urine, blood, food, etc. gross and nasty quilts you wouldn't put in your own home.

Last disaster I donated numerous quilts to local charities or the dump because they were so disgusting! Think of how you would feel if you had to leave your home and then came back and had nothing left. 

Your quilts are blessings!! The letters, cards, pictures I get back and post come from real people who lost everything and then they received a handmade quilt from a stranger and life became a bit brighter.  Be that LIGHT!!!

When sending out a quilt or quilts, please think about enclosing a few other things...gloves for warmth and gloves for cleaning, hats, socks, jerky, granola bars, bandages, dried fruit, head lamps or flashlights, batteries, coloring books and crayons, feminine needs supplies, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, etc.

Please pray for me. I am still praying for a miracle of the gift of a truck and garage style 5th wheel that I can hook up and go and fill the back with quilts, quilting supplies, sewing machines and head out to these disasters and begin quilting and get quilters involved.

My current 5th wheel is my home, I cannot just unhook and go, so I really need prayers to be met!

Lets be ready quilters, you are the best!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Cold, Gray and Blustery!

 I slept in today and by slept in, I mean my husband told me he checked on me and I didn't budge, he shook me, I didn't move, he put his hand on my back and could tell I was still breathing. I slept hard!

Our weather changed as is common in SW Washington state, yesterday it was sunny, warm and short sleeves and sandals and today, it is blustery, 56 degree's cool, gray skies and rain!

I heard all this clamoring and went outside and found this. Called hubby in town and told him to stop by our local hardware/lumber store and pick up some bricks, we are going to need them in the bottoms of our trash cans!
If you look toward the back tree's you can tell they were blowing and when they blow, the 5th wheel just rocks and sounds like we are on a runway getting ready for take off! Just makes me kick myself that we didn't get a chance this summer to replace the slide awnings and know if the wind kicks up to much, we won't have a choice next summer!

 Last night hubby got called out at around 2230 for an outage and I was binding a quilt so after he left, I settled into my chair and finished binding.

I then crawled into bed and without him, I just can't sleep, so laid awake until he arrived back home and I knew he was safe. 

I must have crashed hard because I didn't hear my granddaughter as she knocked on the door for our spotlight she comes by to pick up when she is doing morning chores for a local woman who has animals to take care of when she is out of town.

Then when my son called my cell phone, I could not figure out how to answer it. This coupled with the past few days of crashing hard in my chair and waking up abruptly not knowing where I am or what I am doing....exhausted is what I would guess I have been.

Our bed is directly in one of the slides, so when it rains, I am serenaded by rain drops on the slide awning, the room was warm, hubby was home, the room was dark and I didn't get up until after 0900.

We have recoated the roof for winter, we have pillow inserts for the fans, I have rugs on the floor over the carpeting to try to keep the cold from coming into the floors, we are getting covers for our roof vents, shrink wrap window insulation and thermal drapes for our windows and enclosing the front of the RV with insulated board. We are also wrapping our hoses and plumbing with heat tape and pool noodles. 

Funny, with all the prep we are doing, one would think we were in Minnesota, but it is better to be safe than sorry!

We seriously need a deck, I am terrified of sliding on the steps and landing on the concrete deck and we could use insulated board around the bottom of the 5th wheel.

I am doing our best to prep for winter...extra batteries, flashlights, wool socks, blankets, some bottled water, dry foods, etc.. I can't do much with the space we have, but I can make sure that if hubby gets stuck in the town he works in, that he doesn't have to worry about me!

Happy Autumn Everyone!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Mason Jars, I Love Them!

Why am I so excited about Mason Jars?

Yes, the very same ones that are used for canning and preserving. The ones that when you go home mom or grandma start handing you all those delicious jars of pickles, jams, fruits, etc..

Well, I was being lazy the other day and making a chicken salad, however, I have as of yet, not purchased any storage containers so I started putting everything in what I had, a small Mason jar.

I placed the chicken in first, then chopped cashews, then celery put the seal and ring on, shook it up real good and placed it in my fridge and it was at that moment I could hear the harp music of my epiphany. Well, okay, there wasn't any music!

I realized I have been struggling to make room in our small RV fridge for all my fruits, veggies, pre-cooked chicken and all I have to do is chop and place in a storage jar and they store easily in our fridge without having to rearrange things due to the size of the fridge or the container.

My granddaughter even stated it might be a great way for her to take lunches and then said, 'Nah! It would probably get busted when we goof around at school!' However, she liked the idea of the chicken salad pre-made.

School is right around the corner and this year will be very different because for the first time in over 15 years, I will not be a part of the first day of school rush. 

Our grands no longer live with us, they live with their dad and his girlfriend about half a mile away, so they are close, just not the same as waking them up, seeing the excitement on their faces, but I will be there because fresh cinnamon and orange rolls are a first day of school tradition and I haven't missed a picture opportunity yet.

In many ways, nothing has changed and yet, everything has changed.

I took all the kids instruments in for repairs and cleaning, picked up new reeds, slide oil, cork grease as I do every year and I am just waiting to hear which books I have to purchase. Diva girl (our 14 year old) is playing percussion and Trombone this year and we are getting her back into piano lessons to keep her focused.

We have interviewed a few high school kids for math tutors for grandson and he is playing both Soccer and Football when school starts as well as being back in band. Last year he was in transitional math and math and still failed and he wanted to be back in band so much I made the decision to pay for a math tutor. 

Brother as we call him, busted out the grades last year all B's and 1 F and you guessed it, math! I just think children need at least one class to NOT be blasted with homework and he loves his Saxophone and the group of others he plays with.  Our grandson also has ADHD and band and sports keep him focused.  Last year he was the champion Javelin thrower for his group of middle schools and there were six schools and no one even came close to his final toss!

The oldest is of course playing clarinet, taking Spanish which she is really excited for, has had an amazing young man and his family in her life for awhile now, wants to join FFA (Future Farmers Association) this year and has been caring this summer for a local ladies ducks, rabbits, chickens, dogs and goats when she has had to be out of town. This young lady is also doing community service each month and is very focused on having a better year than last.

As always, I caught a great deal on shoes at Famous Footwear (I swear if they had a Platinum membership that I would be triple platinum with the amount of shoes I buy in a year) buy one pair and get the second half off, so as always, I purchased each grand two pair of shoes. With the exception of grandson who also required soccer and football cleats! Thank You Ross stores for recently having track shoes on sale for $17, got them a size up and we are ready for the school year.

I have taught my grands the value of a dollar and while they do pretty good (savings account, stock accounts) they get more excited finding great bargains on things such as school shirts that were buy one and get the second for one cent at JCPenney and NONE of them are into: PINK, HOLLISTER, GUESS, etc.. AND, they told me they still have good clothes from last year. I am so blessed! Not to mention the girls aren't all into make-up yet either!

I purchased all school supplies for the the grands and my son's girlfriends daughter, but I did not buy the young lady school clothes or shoes as she has a dad and grandparents that can do that for her, my grands have us as their dad cannot work due to a fractured back.

Not to mention it saddened me that all summer long she wouldn't even talk to me when I went over but now that school is almost here the past two weeks she has been trying to be sweet as pie and I just do not play those childish games and cannot believe her mom allows her to play them.  But, that is another story for another time.

Pray for my grandchildren, their dad, his GF and her two children that this school year will be great and that my son can get back on his feet and get back to work. This transition has not been easy for me, but for the children it has been an adventure!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

I Miss Quilting So Much

I miss quilting as in everyday several times a day, I wish I had my quilting things. I didn't realize how much until the past few days when I have been finishing up the binding on a quilt project for the surviving member of the Granite Mountain Hotshot team.  I seriously believe I am taking so much time to finish it just so I can quilt!

Last Friday was the worst! My son needed his flagging gear for a job he was asked to do and it was packed up when we moved because he wasn't able to work at the time and his girlfriends home is just to small.

As we went through storage box by box, my quilting table, sewing machines, fabric boxes were all uncovered and I told my husband I just wanted to look. His firm reply was, 'No, it will lead to the 5th wheel being overrun with stuff and babe, I know you miss it, but we have no room.'

I seriously wanted to cry!

Yet, I know he is right. No matter how I try, there is no extra room for a sewing machine. However, outside there is plenty and we know a young man who builds picnic tables.

I asked hubby if we could get a picnic table and 3 sided cover from Costco and I can set up outside when it warms up. He looked at me like my head had just fallen off my shoulders!

If we weren't in debt up to our eyeballs with attorney fee's right now for our grandchildren and other costs we have had to take on since our move so abruptly, he did tell me he would build me a deck and cover so in good weather I would have a clean safe place to quilt.

He is right and I know it. We were in an amazing home, we were just getting ready to get out of our lease and take over payments, we had a huge vegetable garden, flower beds, fruit tree's and our grandchildren were happy. Life was amazing!

Then, life crashed and I am still trying to figure our new life out. I find myself reading, sitting outside when I can, walking and looking for opportunities where I can help others. In the back of my head, my quilting brain is dying!

We have a huge storage unit that costs a fortune every month and each time I go into it, I wonder why. Why are we keeping all of this stuff? Why do we need it? When will the kids get their things back? When will life be normal again? 

Then I realize, I am blessed to have a roof over my head, food to cook, a small home to clean and laundry to wash. This is my new normal and the sooner I accept it, the easier it will be.

I so want our own washer/dryer. I dislike going to the laundry mat but honestly, hubby or one of the grands go with me and it takes about an hour and a half from wash to going home.

However, WOW! Have you priced an all in one ventless washer/dryer combo? Yikes! They run between $1000 and almost $2000 and right now we are spending under $600 per year to do laundry so I can't justify it with summer projects!

Hubby is taking a week off in July, we have to pressure wash and wax the 5th wheel as we refuse to have allow it to be moss/mildew covered the way many are in our area of the state. Yes, it just curdles my stomach to see people driving cars that are green with moss on them, homes covered in it, roofs, etc. Ewww!!!

After the wash and wax, we must add a new rubberized roof coating, replace a fan shroud, put up skirting, wrap our pipes and hoses and put in a large surge protector. 

We have already put in the new screens to keep the yellow jackets out of places they do not belong! What a pain those critters are!

Our hope this year is to be able to purchase a generator as our rig is wired for it and when power goes out, to just push a button and be back in business. 

Ohhhh, that would run my sewing machine in storage! 

My mind is like a quilting pattern, it loops around and always comes back to the same spot to rest!

I have been invited by many people to come and quilt with them, but I am not a social quilter. Perhaps I might need to just step out my front door and go one day!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Make It Home

My husband keeps teasing me about all the 'stuff,' I keep adding to our new tiny home the 5th wheel. But in all honesty, this is our home, it is not something we can just pack up and take a road trip in right now as we have no other home to go to.

Right after we moved in, I began to feel if this was going to be our home for any length of time, it was going to feel homey and warm and that meant adding some comfort touches such as pictures, my grands pottery, candles, etc.

Reading Area

Here is my reading area. The couch pulls into a twin sized bed for company, the windows are large and the blinds pull up to sheer blinds or completely open and there are 3 windows in this area that open up.

If you look to the left, you can see a small wall sconce and there is another on on the other wall, so in the evenings I can turn these lights on and read. There are also two small speakers, so when I have my music on, I can hear very well.

We have an air purifier and I have my crochet supplies under the sconce. The couch holds my books, bibles, my note taking books and markers and there is a small table next to the couch that holds a basket and more books.  

I love wind chimes and I know when it comes to wind chimes you either love them or hate them. This one was given to me several years ago by my dad and step-mom and is ceramic so leaving it outside in WA winds it would shatter. Instead, I leave it where it is which believe it or not, is not in the way and at times when we walk around you can hear the gentle chimes.

Office, entertainment area
This area is one of our slides. I do not like blank shelves, I love to put homey things on them and the pictures are of hubby and I in our much younger years, but these pics have sat on our night stands since we have been married. We no longer have night stands, so I brought them into the living area.

I then added the battery operated oil type lamp, the 'Let Your Faith, Be Bigger Than Your Fear,' plaque a gift someone gave us in February, the vase my grand daughter made me, the little sailor swabbing the deck and the cross has my favorite verse of the bible Isaiah 40:31. I am still waiting to get into my angels box in storage and add a few around the house.

You will see the large coffee maker is my hubbies, the fish tank holds my oldest granddaughters beta fish 'Spike,' our landline (yes, I still use a landline!), my office center (stamps, envelopes, address labels, paper clips, etc.), our printer and 2 pics of our grandchildren who live in Arizona.  There are 2 drawers under this one for me and one for hubby, perfect!

Kitchen Area
This is the area right above my stove and fridge and as you can tell, it is not at all complete. I started with the wrought iron cross my grandchildren gave us for Christmas a few years back, added the burnished metal HOPE, then discovered the 'Pinch of Patience, Dash of Kindness...,' at a local Ross store. I had purchased it for the area above my pantry, but it didn't fit.

I love the oval portal window, it brings so much light in, so I will find a few things to put up there, but I will probably use them to frame the window and not block the amazing light that comes through.

Our middle grandchild had basketball camp this past week at a local seaside area and I took her sister and two friends to go watch a game the day before she was coming home and stopped in at a few local shops.

Above our electrical panel is a wooden sign with a Boxer on it (our beloved Venus is a Boxer) it states, 'No Bones about it, This Boxer is the Boss!' and above my chair where I sit, a beachy type sign that states, 'If you're NOT Barefoot, you're overdressed.'

So you may live in a tiny home, a 5th wheel, a travel trailer or maybe even recently downsized to living in an apartment. But wherever you live, make it home!