Sunday, May 29, 2016

Downsizing is NOT for the weak

I love my Fifth Wheel, don't get me wrong and I feel so blessed to have a place that is warm, dry and keeps me safe while being small enough to clean quickly on days I am not feeling 100% and with Fibromyalgia, that can be on any given day.

I do miss our old place, it was a place of peace, solace, the kids were happy, we had fruit tree's, a vegetable garden, my husband had his little shop and we were going to live there until our lives were over.

Last year we had enough Sugar Plums that I made 11 jars of jam, we had enough pickling cucumbers that I made pickles, we ate fresh veggies out of our garden. Now....just baking a batch of cookies is a chore.

I don't miss cleaning so much, but I do miss having our own washer and dryer and while my hubby and I can do our weekly laundry in just about an hour at the laundromat, I miss having our own.  

Our fifth wheel is set up for a washer, but they are very small, add more humidity into the area and take up valuable space hubby needs for his work clothes and boots.

I miss our weekly family dinners. While we do a weekly dinner at my sons home, it isn't the same as having my own kitchen with all my own things that make cooking easier for me.

I don't miss all the knick knacks I had to dust all the time, I don't miss the big screen television, the dishwasher, having to clean and keep the house clean.

I miss my husbands boat, the one he worked overtime and saved to buy. The one he took my oldest granddaughter with him to get her approval on since she has been his fishing buddy since she was a year old or younger.  I miss taking the kids in the heat of the summer to the lake and pulling them on a tube behind the boat.

I miss him calling our son and his girlfriend to let them know Salmon fishing will be starting at 0500 so he will be picking them up and the video's of their fishing trips and yes, even going with him once, I miss being at least asked.

I will miss watching the grands swim this year in the backyard pool that Papa put up for them, sleeping on the trampoline with friends or just laying under the stars with their dad and hearing how many shooting stars they counted.

I will miss Christmas! Our home has always been filled with baking cookies for neighbors, handmade gifts for teachers, Christmas tree cutting on a drizzly sun setting night, my husband fussing over ever little decoration that goes outside and to say we had a lot isn't even touching the surface.

All of that is gone now and while I believe in my heart that God has something amazing for us, it does not mean that this hasn't been a difficult process.

I always used to say, I was exhausted, I wanted the kids to live with their dad, be happy, to live in an RV to be able to travel. But I didn't want it to happen the way it did.

As I sit here this morning looking back at how quickly our life changed in an instant, as we have had to endure watching our family torn apart by lies and evilness, I am still counting us blessed, because no matter the lies, our family loves each other, we stand strong together and we will endure no matter what!

Downsizing isn't for the weak. However, if you have faith, love and family, you will make it through anything!! 

That is a promise I can stand on from God!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Thinking Outside the Quilting Lines

I really at times think I should change the name of this blog as it is more about our daily lives, than quilting anymore.

However, SURPRISE!!! Today it IS about quilting. Well, sort of!

Small Scale Quilting

 Since moving into our 5th Wheel and sending off all the spare quilts to those in need, God has truly been tugging on my heart to quilt.

I have been trying to crochet to fill the void, however, and no disrespect to those amazing crocheters out there, it is just NOT the same and I miss my cutting table, fabric, sewing machines so much and each time we venture to storage, I want to bring them all home and I cannot!

This IS to the best of my knowledge, a permanent move. A decision that I know was and is right for our family even if it has been extremely difficult due to what we have been through financially, mentally, physically and heart breaking!!! Sadly, it isn't over yet!

Throughout the entire ordeal, I have just wanted to quilt -or- go to Montana, but that is a story for another day!

As you can see, I decided somehow, I can quilt in a 5th wheel, I can make this work, so I purchased a very small 6" cutting mat on EBay, an 'Add a Quarter Inch ruler,' (also from EBay), then headed to JoAnn's and picked up 2 rotary cutters (Buy 1, get one free!! WhooHoo!!!) and a small bundle of fabric.

I hope to start out with something small and if anyone has any patterns, old quilt magazines you would like to send me with ideas, I am open to it.

While I have been invited to share in several guilds and organizations that quilt, I am just NOT sure I am ready to be a part of group at this time.

I still believe in my heart, God has THIS. Whatever THIS is and however it ends, my families life will never be the same, but God is so good and I believe quilting is my prayer line and my life line at times.

Friday, May 20, 2016

We All Scream For Ice Cream -or- I Just Scream About Ice

Who doesn't enjoy ice cream? On a warm and humid day, we have our local faves up here that serve you a small cone that most places would charge you quadruple for. They are about 10" tall and you want to eat them before they start melting.

Honestly, I know people that just do not like ice cream for whatever the reason. My youngest son has sensory issues and he can't even look at a cone or a popsicle because it physically hurts his teeth.

Soooo, this post really isn't about ice cream, it is about learning to adjust to our RV full-time living and how to use a smaller fridge without freezing all my produce and meats.

An RV fridge (at least ours) isn't like the ones we have in a regular stick built/manufactured home. It has setting from cold to coldest which controls both the fridge and freezer.

In our case, my husband loves his ice cream solid, I like mine a bit softer so in order to keep his ice cream solid, the settings have to be  on almost coldest which much to my chagrin, freezes things in the fridge.

However, I have learned, inside the fridge is the coil and it works for both the fridge and freezer and you CANNOT place produce on the top shelf or directly under the coil or you wind up with rock solid strawberries, peppers, juice, etc..

If you are spending a week camping, it might not seem like much here and there, however, if you are a full-timer as we are and find yourself buying and then re-buying the same thing over and over again, you have to figure out the issue.

Luckily for me, my brother-in-law has been a full-timer for over 10 years. Talking to him last night, he enlightened me to the coil issue. Of course he had a great solution to his ice cream...he keeps his at his girlfriends house or goes out for ice cream when he wants some.

Then again, when he goes camping and wants company, he borrows his girlfriends dog so he isn't lonely and then returns the dog when he gets back.

I hope you find this tip helpful whether you are a full-timer, a snow bird or just a long term camper getting as frustrated as I was to why I was wasting more money with smaller shopping trips.

All in all, full-timing is an adventure in learning and I am still enjoying the adventure.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Advantages of 5th Wheel Living During a Power Outage

We had a power outage recently in our neighborhood and I barely noticed because my fridge/freezer go automatically to propane and operate that way, my lights are very low wattage and run off batteries that are constantly recharging themselves, my heat is propane and if it gets to be longer than expected...I have a back up generator!

I also brought battery operated camping lights that look that old fashioned lanterns and have them in an area where I can reach them and will illuminate the best.

Just remember a few things...

If your electric goes out, you don't have a pump for your toilet to flush.

If your electric goes out, you won't have water...we keep a case under the belly for such emergency and a few gallons of water to flush with.

Windows...we 8 windows in our dining/living area that bring in lots of light.

Quilts. As a quilter, we have quilts in a large tub under the belly, I can also hang on tension rods heavy blankets that will separate the upstairs so we can keep our bedroom warmer.

Emergency flash lights.

Food. We keep plenty of things on hand like peanut butter, jelly, tuna, canned chicken, fruit, etc..

You need to think about these things when purchasing a 5th wheel and ensure you are ready to be a full-timer.

Lastly, they have giant surge protectors that go from the outlet outside that you plug your own utility lines to and then if there is an issue, that will protect your home.

My mom and step-dad were in their motor home in Colorado a few years back and the place they were staying got struck by lightening, they lost their entire electrical system in a flash.

Monday, May 9, 2016

In Small Spaces, Fresh Air Matters

So, my last few posts have been in regards to my husband and I moving into a 34' 5th wheel we have decided to make our home.

I have shared tips on organization and tips on keeping those toilets flowing!

Now, I want to discuss smells!!

Neither my husband nor I smoke and that helps. The other things that help are equally important:
  1.  Fresh Air...every chance you get, open the windows throughout the 5th wheel, place your throw rugs outside to air out and utilize those ceiling fans. *However, I do want to caution you when using the one in the bathroom...keep the lid down or it will suck up the smell from the holding tank.
  2.  Renuzit solid air fresheners...I use them all over in closets, under sinks in cabinets** and behind the toilet. I was placing them all over the house, but hubby said they really didn't do anything.
  3. Scentsy burner. We have one, I place it on the stove top (solid cover) and it makes the entire 5th Wheel smell really nice.
  4. Candles...due to my brain fog, hubby banned candles years ago because I would walk out of the house and forget to put them out. However, I have a few Soy candles that are in little tins, I place them in a glass bowl and put one in the kitchen and one in our bedroom. Mine are rose scented and delicious!
  5. Keep frying down to a minimum. I used to fry fish, chicken, chops, etc.. Now most of these things get cooked on the grill outside and if it is raining, we go out to eat!
  6. Febreze...I use it on my recliners, throw rugs and the blinds at least once a week.
  7. Keep it clean! I wash down my walls, dust weekly, mop and keep my trash can cleaned out, a bit of lemon juice down my sink drains.
  8. Do NOT leave wet towels or clothing laying around. When I need to place something in the laundry that is wet and I do laundry once a week only...I place the wet item in a zip lock baggie or put it outside to dry before putting it in the hamper. Wet clothes turn moldy fast and they smell quickly!
  9. Don't allow stinky shoes and feet in the house! My grands still come almost daily to visit after school, homework and chores and their feet are pretty deadly smelling.  They leave their shoes and socks outside, use baby wipes to wash their feet, if it is raining, you guessed it, those socks go into a zip lock!
  10. If you have a dog as we do...once a month wash their bedding and take them to the groomer for a bath. Doesn't get rid of all doggie smells, but keeps them to a minimum.
**I know many people use Cedar blocks for closets, the underbelly, cabinets, etc.. However, I am highly allergic to the smell of those and cannot use them without an Asthma flare up. 

When choosing your scents I suggest not mixing them as well as finding one that is light. Stronger smells can overwhelm an RV and those living there!

Enjoy and let me know how you handle living in a small space!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Toilet Paper DOES Matter When RVing

Yes, I am really going to go there.

Yes, I am aware that poop is NOT a subject people like to discuss, but if I can help save you the problems we had in the beginning of becoming a 'full-timer,' this post is worth it!

Many RV's toilets are nothing more than an inside outhouse! They do not hold water and become smelly quickly. WAIT!!! All RV toilets can become smelly quickly or worse if NOT taken care of properly. Ours is porcelain and utilizes water in the bowl, still...

So, we did our due diligence when we purchased our 5th wheel, but face it, no one says to the dealer, 'can I see inside the black water tank and check the plumbing?' EWWWW, gross!!

Our 5th wheel has a tank gauge and we live where our tank is hooked up to a sewer, but don't let that fool you. These things get hooked up, however, they do NOT and tell you NOT to dump into the sewer daily. 

Much like an outhouse (fast past this if poop makes you squeemish), RV's have a holding tank called a 'black water tank,' that holds waste. Due to this disposal, solid wastes have a tendency to pyramid and trust me, you DO NOT want this to happen.

A week and a half into living full-time and hubby notices the tank is not emptying beyond 2/3 full, so he heads over to You Tube and learns about pyramiding.

Off to our local Walmart where he buys a high pressured black tank wand and a clear sewer connector. This wand uses water and goes into the toilet to spray and break up the solids.

While hubby is doing this, I got the equally gross job of standing outside by the clear connector to see if the said pyramid would break up. It did! It was gross, but it emptied the tank. I know because I was stationed there to let hubby know when the water ran clear!

What we learned also is that regular toilet paper does not break down as easily and can contribute to the cause of pyramiding. This paper is not cheap or readily available anywhere, but since purchasing it the issues we had have stopped.  Then again, it may be because hubby wands out the tank once a month.

RV toilet paper can run from $3.50 to $8+ per pack of 4 rolls. Even on Ebay they are running high. My recommendation would be to try a product like Seventh Generation recycled toilet paper for about $12 per 12 pack and see if that works.

If not, you did remember to purchase that wand, didn't you?

You are going to want to keep on hand two other products that will help keep your tank healthy and your toilet from smelling:
1- RV tank cleaner, it is usually a liquid you pour down the toilet that is an enzyme that helps break down the waste and has something in it to keep the smells down.**I do NOT recommend using the 'drop in packets,' 
2- Those Lysol stick ups you press on your toilet to help keep the smell down.

Just a warning, do not flush the toilet with a fan on in the bathroom unless you have the lid down!


Learning to Live in a Tiny Home

I announced back in February I was taking time off from quilting and blogging and I still am, but today I went grocery shopping and what used to be a routine trip to Safeway after church on Sunday, has become quite a juggling feat!

My husband and I are no longer grandparents raising grandchildren in a 1900 SF home, we are grandparents living in a thirty four foot fifth wheel. (More on that when I can share)!)

I can tell you after spending 34 or more years cooking and shopping for a family of 4-13 depending on the day or time of the year, shopping and cooking for two is a challenge.

I went from a side by side fridge/freezer and stand alone freezer to a small freezer and fridge that doesn't hold very much. Our first trip to the grocery store and my husband kept telling me, not to buy so much.

 Oh the joy that day of cramming everything in the fridge and then opening the door to have it fall out. **Our next 5th wheel will have a double door fridge and freezer.**

When we first decided to get the 5th wheel we knew we would have to be very organized and we made the deal with each other that if we don't use something in six months, away it goes into storage.

We have large bins that have snap tight lids, so winter clothing and bedding go into those in the belly of the 5th wheel or under our bed with dryer sheets to keep all fresh.

We keep a mesh laundry hamper in the closet behind doors for my clothes, towels. Hubby has a place on his side of the bed for a second one for work clothes. My diabetes doctor gave me a nifty bag with a small closing pouch and that transports laundry soap, softener and quarters to the laundry mat on Fridays. Then we have an expandable quilted bag with handles to transport our clean and folded clothing back home in.
Mesh Hamper

I don't like laundry mats, but hubby goes with and we are in and out in out in just about an hour, plus, I don't have to carry everything in several trips.  Cost per month to do our laundry is between $40-$50 depending on if we have rugs or sheets that need washing.

We couldn't keep our beautiful wooden tall bed, so we placed it in storage. However, we did keep our memory foam queen mattress and it fit perfectly. The 5th wheel came with a king size horrible foam thing and we gave it away. 
Our bed...hubby calls it the Hollywood bed because I love pillows!

The area next to the bed that is raised and holds remotes, glasses, etc.
**One thing I would highly recommend is what is known as a 'walk around bed.' It allows you to stand up and walk around it to make the bed, get into the closet, open a window and ours has these nifty little built in shelves for our glasses and cell phones at night.
The walk around area next to the bed!

Trips to Costco revolve mainly around purchasing things like string cheese, graham crackers, bread, butter, peanut butter and other things I can bring home and then send the rest to my sons home.

I gave away, sold or stored many of my large pots, however the ones I kept are at our future daughter-in-laws, so yesterday I wanted to make Chili...I went over and borrowed my Chili pot!

We will be taking the wooden bed to a long time friends and he will keep it for our granddaughter who begged and cried for us to not give it away. So not wanting to be stuck with huge storage fee's, we are taking it to his home.

Propane. Well, after cooking with electricity for so many years, this is a re-learning experience and there needs to be tanks made with gauges because changing propane tanks in the middle of the night in pouring rain is not fun. **If you plan on being a 'Full Timer and living in one spot, I would recommend a large tank and a propane delivery service.**

Hot showers are now out as our hot water heater only holds 10 gallons, but I love the fact it is a full shower with lots of room and the water is always hot when I need it. **Do yourself a favor, purchase hot water pans in case you have a leak.** We have not, however friends have! 

There are things you will absolutely need if you plan on being a full-timer or at least I am finding I need:
1- An emergency fire ladder (Cost about $35 at Amazon). If you need to get out of a window in a hurry, you aren't going to want to jump!

2-A foldable stepping stool. Things are much taller in my 5th wheel than in my home. Having one that folds flat allows me to keep it hidden out of the way. (Cost about $17-$30 in most stores).

3-Hanging vacuum cleaner that operates on batteries or even better, purchase your RV with a built-in vacuum cleaner. I purchased a Dirt Devil small canister, but it is still to large to keep inside, so when I need it I have to open the belly of the RV. I have placed a Dyson V6 on my list as I have the perfect tiny space to hang it out of the way. (Cost $249 Walmart or $349 Costco with all the tools).

4-Dehumidifier and not a small one. If you are cooking, showering or live in great Pacific NW as we do, you will empty one of the large ones at least twice a day. These are NOT cheap (Walmart between $120 and $300). However, in the long run, you will be saving your RV from damage.
Our small office area, hubbies coffee maker, dehumidifier, dog kennel and fireplace.

5-Baskets, hanging shoe holders and bins! I love to stay organized. Our bathroom area is nice with a full shower, but small sink area.   
I keep a basket on the dresser area and it holds hair brushes, my make-up (what little I use), moisturizers, etc. I also use baskets to hold my books and stationary supplies in the cabinet.

Over the door shoe holder in our 'water closet,' area, holds deodorants, shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrush holders, hair gels and sprays, etc.

Shoe Holder in bathroom
In the great NW we live in hoodies, ours hang on over the door hooks on the water closet door!
Bins hold everything from extra cords, to first aid kits to spice packets. You can always find these at yard sales, second hand shops and on sale.
Medicine container and First Aid kit

I have a metal hanging basket that fits under my cabinet on my spice shelf that holds my medications and a drinking glass!

6- Scentsy warmers and melts or any warmer and melt that you choose to purchase. When you are living in a small area, with people and pets, (a Boxer, 2 adults and I cook), it gets smelly. 

As much as I love keeping my windows open to 'air out the place,' many days it is raining and not an option. I use the Renuzit solids, but hubby said they really don't help after a few days.

However, a warmer with your favorite melt sense would keep the place smelling fresh! **I am NOT a Scentsy representative but I do love their products!** I would just caution to NOT use a strong scent as you could overpower the place easily.

7-Hooks of various sizes. We have over the door coat rack/hooks for our coats and robes. Double metal hooks in the 'water closet,' for our towels, Command style hooks that hold our key chains, doggie bag holder, plastic bag holder, measuring cups, coffee cups, bathroom mirror, etc.
Hooks hold dog leashes above the door!

Hooks hold keys, plastic bags and doggie bags!

8-Spare parts...if it is plastic, immediately replace it with rust proof metal...
A-The T-plate that hooks your door to the RV when you want to use the screen or need to hold up your basement door. It was nice a few days ago, I had the door open and then WHAM!!! A high gusty wind picked up and the rotted plastic broke.

B-Bulbs. Most RV's operate on car type battery bulbs or LED's and these are not cheap if purchased through your local RV dealer. I recommend taking all bulb types to Walmart or Target and check prices, also a local hardware store or auto parts store may have them. If you do NOT have an immediate need, check Ebay and buy in bulk! We discovered when our fridge light went out, that the little car type bulbs were almost $12 at our local RV place. However, at Walmart in the auto parts section it was less than $4. 
 **Put them in a place you will be able to remember where they are when you need them. **Remember that folding stool from earlier? You will need an exterior ladder for the lights in your ceilings.

We have two pantries. I do my best to place things in containers and label them.
In the midst of trying to find perfection in organization

This slides in and out!

Lastly, for me, I must have my grands with me and there is no place to place picture frames, so I used an open space on the slider and double stick/poster tabs to put up family pics.

I hope this helps a bit!