Tag Archives: Living Simply

Project 333: Quality Over Quantity

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Writers Note: I know things have been really quiet here lately, I’ve been slacking in the writing department big time! I hope you’ll hang in here with me though, because I’ve been working on making this a much nicer experience for you guys. I’m nearly finished redesigning my own website – www.snazzyturtle.com – and then I’ll be working on the design and branding for the new blog. I’m also building up some content so there won’t be so much downtime in between posts when life gets busy. Exciting things are coming soon!

Have I ever told you about my clearance t-shirt addiction? It used to be a bit of a problem.

Academy Sports, which is like kryptonite to my frugality, always has a clearance section. Always.  They set up rack after rack of t-shirts, running shorts, cargo pants, skorts, and other wonderfulness at deep discounts. Now, I’m not a skort lover, and I really only need the standard amount of pockets on my pants, but the t-shirts get me every time. Especially on the $4.88 or less rack. I mean, who can argue with a $2 t-shirt? Honestly for $2 I might have even bought a skort, it was that bad.

So every time we went, which at times was more frequent than it probably should have been, I would load up on cheap shirts. I might only spend $30 but I would leave with an armload of new clothes. It was a wonderful thing.

The problem was this… for every one shirt out of the bunch that I loved there were usually 5 that didn’t fit quite right. Or after a month or two they started wearing thin, because there’s usually a reason a shirt has been marked down to less than the price of a gallon of milk. Academy really doesn’t have bad clothes, they sell great stuff and I love the store, but the ones they put on the lowest priced clearance rack are probably not made by the really dedicated clothes-making elves. More like the disgruntled elf who really wanted to be a leprechaun but had overly involved parents.

But I would keep them, because who wants to get rid of a brand new shirt? I’m sure I’ll wear it sometime, my tastes will probably change and the odd cut of that neckline will be very flattering in a few months. No, not so much. And so I eventually ended up with a wardrobe that I only wore about 50% of.

That was pretty easy to ignore though… until we started decluttering. I mean really decluttering, the last round or two before we sold it all and moved. That was when I couldn’t avoid the cheap t-shirts any longer. I only had so much room in the closet of the Turtle, and I didn’t want it taken up with clothes I didn’t wear. But I still tried to sneak some of the newer not flattering shirts into the bunch, because I might take up painting or catfish noodling and need something to wear.

Shortly after that I found out about Project 333 and decided to give it a shot, so you basically know the rest of the story. I pared down to 33 articles of clothing, including shoes, purses, hats, and sunglasses, for the first 3 months we were here. Obviously there wasn’t any room for stuff I didn’t like, so all of them went to Goodwill. That in itself was freeing in an odd way.

And then a funny thing happened. I started looking at the price tags on clothes a little different. I still want a deal, but it has to be worth it at full price for me to want it at a discount. The cheapest clearance rack still gets a look through, but now I usually pass up the $2 shirts. After all, 10 $2 shirts that I don’t wear would pay for 1 really nice shirt that I’ll wear for years.

In fact I even bought a $50 hoodie the other day. It was on clearance, retail price of $75. I bought it to replace all of the hoodies that are sitting in my tote waiting for the fall swap. The reason I paid $50 for a hoodie when I obviously could have found a cheaper alternative? Quality and comfort, obviously. The neck of this one was wide and comfy (my biggest complaint usually), the cut was loose but flattering, the fabric was super soft, and it was a brand that I know and love. It’ll last me years in good shape. Because of all those things, combined with the fact that now I have fewer clothes in general, I didn’t mind spending a little extra money for one item.

Quality doesn’t have to mean more expensive, you can shop around and find brands that are well made and not quite as expensive, or you can buy as you find things on clearance, which is what I try to do. But the plain and simple truth is that if you aren’t buying as much you can afford to pay more per item, that’s just math. In the end you might even find you’ve saved a little money while getting nicer stuff, which is a pretty cool bonus.

So, I think that’s been one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from this project so far, the lesson of quality over quantity. And once you apply it to one area of your life it’s easy to extend the thinking elsewhere… household items, time, fitness, relationships, even food. I think we can all agree that one really nice sandwich made at home trumps 5 gas station corn dogs any day. Right?

Look around, is there something you’ve been avoiding spending more money on by spending less money more often? Or something you’ve been giving a ton of time to but only halfway doing? I was guilty of it in a lot of areas, but it’s a work in progress!

On The Beauty Of Working A/C And Starting

Lest you think we melted into a puddle of goo after the air conditioner went out last week, we’re still here. In fact, we’re now the proud owners of a superbly cool tin can (fiberglass, I know I know) with two brandy dandy new air conditioners.

But I’ll get to that in a minute. There’s plenty going on in this catch up post, so I might get a bit scattered, I apologize in advance for that.

First off, I have to mention the passing of my Maw Maw this weekend. My dad’s mom. She lived a long and mostly healthy 91 years and up until the last few she was independent and strong, to a nearly comical point at times. You knew not to wander in front of the TV when the game was on for example… any game actually. That was a running joke in her house. And I’ll never forget her shaking her cane at us like a character out of a movie when we tried to decline coming to dinner after some random family event. She, like a lot of my family, was larger than life at times. She was the matriarch on my dad’s side, a position she handled gracefully.

She also marked the fourth death in my family in the last few years… preceded by my Grandmama on my mom’s side, as well my aunt and cousin from the same side. That’s a lot to lose in a short amount of time, and it was especially tough on the family due to my cousin and aunt going much too soon.

It does however have the sobering, but beneficial, effect of making you consider your own mortality. I don’t want to look back at some point and realize I wish I had done more, or played more, or loved more. I don’t want to assume that I have another 60 years and find out too late that it was really only 10. I want to enjoy now as much as I can, to avoid the regrets that come with ignoring what you’d rather be doing. So that’s what I plan to do.

Now, onto a lighter note. I’ve joined a secret society! Sort of.

I’m a big fan of Jon Acuff’s writing, he’s the author of Quitter and Start (if you haven’t read those you’re really missing out!). He’s a great writer and an even better motivator, and he keeps a blog over at jonacuff.com which I follow. Last week he posted on his blog asking people to sign up to join him on an adventure. The post was up for about 24 hours before he took it down. It was vague but intriguing, and the only commitment at the time was to email him a little information, then wait and see what happened. Considering this is already the Year of Change I figured what the heck, and shot off an email.

I had almost forgotten about the whole deal, between the air going out and my grandmother’s passing. But then yesterday I got an email from him containing the link to a private Facebook group dubbed The Start Experiment. Of course I joined immediately, to find around 700 other people already there introducing themselves. It’s already been inspiring seeing all these people who are ready to do something beyond the norm, and the experiment hasn’t even begun yet. I won’t reveal too much, but so far it looks like it will start as a personal challenge of sorts, with an accountability partner. We will be asked to push ourselves outside our comfort zones every day for 24 days in some way or another, and I can’t wait. As an added bonus, did I mention I’m part of a secret society? I think we should get a handshake or some sort of power ring.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we didn’t melt in here last week when the air conditioner started messing up. There were a few sketchy days, but we were able to limp along by turning it on and off at the breaker when we needed it. We had to keep it off at night or it would freeze up, and I kept it off as much during the day as possible, but regardless we made it.

I did remember last week that we had an extended warranty that had been thrown in with the purchase of the Turtle, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to see what they would take care of. As it turned out, it was actually a pretty good warranty. They even offered to pay for a mobile repair guy to come out and fix it so we wouldn’t have to pack everything up and find a shop that could take us in. This time of year most repair shops are two or three weeks out, so that seemed like a terrible option all the way around.

After looking for a mobile RV repair place for hours though I was beginning to think a camping trip to the parking lot of a service department would be in order, until I found a place about an hour and a half away called Southern RV. They did warranty work, were certified, and said they worked anywhere in middle Tennessee… so of course they weren’t open that day.

I did get in touch the next day though and was able to get them started dealing with our warranty. It took several phone calls between myself, the repair shop, and the Xtra Ride warranty adjustor, but we finally came up with a plan. The warranty would pay for nearly all of the service call and all of the parts and labor to repair our existing unit, and we would cover the remainder to install a second unit in the bedroom. Great!

Marty was worried though that repairing the unit would just be a band aid and other problems would keep popping up, so after a lot of talking we decided to go ahead and spend the extra money and replace the unit we had with a new Atwood A/C with a heat pump. The Atwood’s are less expensive than the Dometic we had, and the repair shop said they were impressed with the quality of their construction, plus the heat pump will help lower the propane expense this winter hopefully. I paid for both units over the phone, then spent the next two days secretly hoping I hadn’t been duped by some kid with a fake website.

They said both units would be in by Friday and they should be able to come that same day, or Saturday at the latest. Friday afternoon came and went with no word, and I was really starting to question my own judgement. But then, at 7pm on Friday night, the Southern RV repair truck pulled up out front. The parts had come in a little after 4 o’clock and they headed out then.

It took nearly three hours to install the two units and fix a light switch that wasn’t working quite right, and I was expecting the worst when it came time to settle up. He showed me both work orders, the one they would send the warranty company for the repairs and the one I would owe for the extra labor since I had already paid for parts. It came time for the grand total and I held my breath a little…

That’ll be $85.

Huh? Oh.

That’s not at all what I was expecting. One hours labor. He even waived the remainder of the service call, saying if I wanted to give his guys a little extra to grab dinner with on the way home that would be plenty. I gladly did, and gave him a bit extra too for coming out so late on a Friday. The guys were all super friendly and professional, and they did a great job, definitely a win in my book.

Then we checked out our new units, and they are awesome. I don’t have much to compare to, just our travel trailer and this fifth wheel, but both of our previous A/C’s have been so loud you couldn’t hear each other well from one room to the next. Our TV volume would go from 20 to 50 when the air kicked on. When I walked in the den to look at the new unit I had to ask if it was on yet, it’s that quiet. And the air flow is twice as much as our Dometic Duotherm was producing.

Atwood hasn’t been in the cooling business that long, although they’ve made other RV parts for years. So we took a bit of a risk on these units, not knowing their track records yet. But as of right now I’m thoroughly pleased.

They function a bit different than any I’ve seen before though, and I had to call Atwood this morning to make sure they were working right, which I was assured they were. When the fan is set to Auto most air conditioners will run until they reach the right temperature and then cut off until they need to start cooling again. In these the fan runs all the time. When the temperature is right they switch to low fan speed and the compressor turns off, and as needed they cycle back up to medium or high and kick the compressor back on to cool things down. The result is super quiet and keeps the whole place at a nice consistently cool temp. Now that I know it’s not a wiring problem I have to admit it’s a pretty interesting process. They also have some other neat things, like the Dry mode which acts as a dehumidifier if you’re happy with the temp but want to pull some of the humidity out of the air. It also has a Sleep button,  when it’s set the temperature will rise by 2 degrees over the next hour, or lower by 2 degrees if you’re using the heat pump. All in all we’re glad we spent the money, and hopefully won’t have to do that again for a long time!

This week will be crazy as well, today is my catch up day. Tonight and tomorrow are visitation and funeral a bit more than an hour away from here. Wednesday is a morning meeting and getting ready for Thursday. And then the fun begins! We’re going to pack up the truck Thursday morning, hook up the boat, and head over to tent camp at Mousetail Landing State Park. We’ll stay there a few days fishing and hanging out. I’ve looked around and found a local concert to check out on Saturday night and a few restaurants to look at. Other than that there isn’t much in the area other than lots of rivers and creeks.

It’s an exploratory mission too, we’ll be driving around looking for an inexpensive piece of land along the Tennessee river. We’ve talked a lot about what the next step is and it would be kind of dreamy to be able to go to our own little spot on the river when we feel like it, or even live there for longer periods in the future. Ideally we would find one that someone has already set up for an RV, maybe with a concrete pad and utilities already in place. But if the price were right we could buy a 1/4 acre lot with no utilities and add them as we have the money. It would give us somewhere to go if we didn’t want the expense of paying rent at a campground, because a payment on land that small would actually be less than our rent right now. And it would serve as a bit of a home base too, without the commitment of an actual home base. We don’t want something that requires a lot of maintenance, we want to be able to leave it for as long as needed without worrying about things breaking down or tearing up.

I’ve bookmarked several great looking spots on Craigslist and some local realtor websites, and we’re excited just to go ride around a new area and look at the possibilities. Even if that doesn’t turn anything up it will still be a great weekend of fishing and camping!

Are you doing any camping this weekend? Starting anything or joining a secret society? If not you should at least go right now and do one thing that scares you… it’s great for the soul. 🙂

It’s That Time Again – Project 333 Season Finale

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This will be a two post day as I try to catch up from last week. I’ll post an update on our air conditioner situation and some other things shortly!

The end of June marks the end of my first go at the Project 333 challenge.

In case you haven’t been keeping up with my clothing inventory (And why not?) I decided to try Project 333 after we made the move to the Turtle. After going through our closet to declutter and then move I started to realize I was not the minimalist I originally thought, and it looked like a fun experiment.

So in the beginning of April I laid all my clothes out in the bedroom and painstakingly narrowed them down to what I actually loved and wore. The rest was packed away in a tote and taken to storage. For the last 3 months I’ve worn only 33 items of clothing including my shoes, purse, hats, and superhero costumes.

This first three months have been full of a lot of different temperatures, and I’ve cheated a few times, but I have to say I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve spent so much less time deciding what to wear, and my closet has never been more organized. And in a bit of an unexpected turn of events I’ve actually learned a few things about myself.

I don’t actually need 33. There were several things that were barely worn this time around. I’m not sure how many, but I’d be willing to bet I actually only wore 25 items on a regular basis. That gives me a little confidence in how little I can get by with.

Choosing wrong isn’t the end of the world. I made a few mistakes when I chose my wardrobe the first time, and the weather wasn’t quite right for certain shirts and dresses. The last few weeks it’s been warm enough, but next time around I’ll save those things for the ‘summer’ cycle. But even though I’ve cheated a few times, nothing bad happened. Courtney Carver didn’t come busting out of the closet and cuff me. It’s just a challenge meant to make you look at part of your life more objectively, to reevaluate your needs. The number almost doesn’t even matter, it’s the process and intention that counts.

The second time was much easier than the first. Part of that might be the similarity in the weather between these two cycles, most of my clothes from last time were already warm weather things. Part of it also has to be that I’m a little more confident in knowing the things I actually wear now. I’ve learned what I really need on a regular basis. The first time around there was an odd amount of fear that I would choose wrong or that I would want the clothes I was putting up. This time was pretty simple… I made sure about half of my shirts were comfortable t-shirts and the other half were nicer looking. I kept out my jeans and all my shorts, and added another dress that would work for a little nicer event.

My spring/summer wardrobe is getting there. I put a few shirts that just weren’t quite right into a donate pile and the rest of my non-33 warm weather stuff went back into the tote headed for storage, but this time it was only a few things. A pair of flip flops and a few t-shirts I might like more for fall than summer, plus a pair of overall shorts I’m not quite ready to let go of yet. I’m hopeful that by next year my 33 will be my actual wardrobe for the season. That might be a bit harder to do for fall and winter, because I have lots of sweaters and boots, but at least I’m narrowing down half the year.

Having a self imposed limit is perfect for me. I tend to hold onto things that I kind of like, or that I might like later on. It really helps to put a cap on that, it makes me re-evaluate every piece I keep out. It has to fit just right, be the right color, not be uncomfortable at all, and look pretty damn good. Otherwise in the tote it goes.

Today marks the start of the next three month cycle, and it was a no brainer for me to keep going. I was actually excited to go through and reset the closet, so I pulled the tote out on Saturday afternoon and chose my next 33 a couple of days early. I’m curious to see what I actually wear out of the bunch, so this time I also turned all my hangers around as I put things up. When I wear something and put it back I’ll turn it’s hanger around the right way and at the end of 3 months it will be obvious what’s been used and what hasn’t.

Here’s what I’m starting with:

1. Aviator sunglasses
2. Brown purse
3. Under Armour visor
4. Strappy brown sandals
5. Reef flip flops (I’ll have to replace these by next year… they’re mostly just decorative at this point)
6. Sneakers
7. Jeans
8. Cutoff denim shorts
9. Regular denim shorts
10. Capris
11. Nike running shorts
12. Hangout t-shirt
13. Jack Daniels t-shirt
14. Yellow Old Navy t-shirt
15. Nike t-shirt #1
16. Nike t-shirt #2
17. Green tank
18. White shirt with leaves
19. Shirt with cool back
20. Blue tank
21. Blue strapless dress
22. Coral sundress
23. Pink dress
24. Blue plaid peasant top
25. Red t-shirt
26. Black floweredy dress
27. Grey kitten heels
28. White shirt with blue flowers
29. Lacy t-shirt
30. Nike t-shirt #3
31. Life is Good t-shirt
32. Green v-neck t-shirt
33. Grey racerback tank

Swap items:
1. White strapless shirt
2. Green flip flops (In case the others don’t make it till next year)

If you haven’t heard of Project 333 you should check it out or create your own version… it’s a neat little challenge that might help you simplify your life a little more. Or at least your closet!

Don’t You Miss Your House?

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The reactions we’ve gotten since we sold our house to move into the Turtle have been mixed. Split down the middle between those who think we are crazy or broke, and those who would love to do the same thing.

We’ve made other choices along the way that people apparently think indicate our current lack of sanity as well, like selling my paid for car.

No matter how they feel about it though there are certain things it seems everyone is curious about, because we get asked the same things regularly. Things like…

Don’t You Miss Your House?

The short answer is a simple no.

The longer answer is, yes we loved our house. We built it ourselves, it was a beautiful wood sided house on a lovely tree covered hillside. We had 5 acres of shaded land and a gravel circle driveway, a nice shop and a building for the band to practice music in. A screen porch with a hot tub and outdoor TV was the last addition we made a few years ago. Who wouldn’t have loved that?

But with a house comes a multitude of responsibilities and chores. Cleaning and resealing siding, weeding and replanting beds, new gravel for the driveway, decluttering the shop and yard, cleaning the gutters, mowing the yard, mopping the floors, keeping rooms decluttered and clean even when you aren’t using them, treating the water in the hot tub, paying for 3 satellite boxes that you don’t use all the time, planting and harvesting the garden, dusting and cleaning the things you’ve bought to fill the rooms you aren’t using… I could go on and on.

The result of all that is very little relaxation. You try to sit on your front porch and enjoy the afternoon, but instead you end up thinking of all the things that need to be done. You decide to hang around the house on a lazy Sunday to do a few things and before you realize it the entire day has been given to cleaning and taking care of things, and you haven’t even had the chance to enjoy them.

There were many days that I would have big plans for enjoying the day, but first ‘I’ll just clean the kitchen real quick’. That leads to mopping the floors because they really need it, and now Marty is mowing the yard so I should go clean out the beds so they look nice, and the next thing you know it’s 5pm and I’m tired.

It’s just a fact that with more stuff comes more responsibility. Our days are our own now. We still have to work of course, but the other stuff, the maintenance and cleaning, doesn’t take up the rest of our time anymore. We bought a small boat, and if we want to go to the lake for the morning we will. We’re planning short camping trips without thinking that we really should be doing something else. We can sit outside and relax without those nagging little voices.

So back to the simple answer. I loved our house, but not nearly as much as I love my peace of mind, my relaxed evenings, my possibilities for the future. And on top of that, I love my new house. It’s cozy and comfortable, with everything I need in it. I don’t regret the trade a little bit.

Isn’t It Hard Living In Such A Small Space Together?

This one probably varies from person to person. But for us it’s not much different than how we lived in the house.

We used around a quarter of our 1500 square feet before: the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and den. The other areas were used occasionally at best. We’ve had to change things up a bit, like coming up with new morning and night routines because we went from two sinks in the bathroom down to one, and learning how to cook in a smaller area. But after two and a half months things are flowing along pretty smoothly now.

You obviously have to both be on board with the move, but having a narrow doorway or smaller closet shouldn’t be grounds for not being able to live with someone, in my opinion anyway.

I have been surprised though how many people have the initial reaction of “Oh there’s no way we could live in that together, we’d kill each other!”. I’m seriously starting to wonder how many couples actually like each other.

Luckily we do like each other, because I wouldn’t advise living in 350 square feet with someone you don’t like. In fact I wouldn’t advise living anywhere with someone you don’t like, but that’s not a topic for this post.

What Do You Do If It Storms?

Obviously in light of Monday’s flooding the answer to this has changed a little. Before Monday my biggest worry was high wind or tornadoes, which aren’t that uncommon in Tennessee. Depending on where we’re parked though flooding is something that may come up from time to time. Most campgrounds are pretty flat, and a lot of them do have some kind of water near the sites.

What we do if it floods is the same as someone living in a stick house, we leave. The advantage we have in that situation is we can then move our house to higher ground so the same situation doesn’t happen again. In fact Saturday we’re moving, again, to the next row over (so we can face away from the evening sun), and that site has even less risk of flooding than the one we’re in right now. Had we had more notice we could have even moved before the flood ever happened, but what happened Monday was a flash flood. It came up too fast for us to do anything. If we had been parked beside a river that started to rise more slowly though we would have been able to get out of harms way.

As far as wind and tornadoes, of course it is a valid concern that a high wind or tornado could take us out, and we pay attention to the wind more now than we did in the house. If the weather warrants it we’ll leave and go to the main building, or even a friends house if we have enough time. This is no different than living in a mobile home, which so many people do. We know the limitations of the Turtle, how much wind we can take before needing to leave. We have good radar and weather alerts on our phones, we pay attention, and we take it seriously. That’s really all anyone can do.

Do You Miss Your Stuff?

This one’s a lot like the house question, and the answer is the same. Actually, I miss my stuff even less. I can’t even remember half of what we’ve sold or given away over the last few months. It’s amazing how much stuff you can accumulate when you have the space to do so.

We didn’t go full throttle minimalist either, we kept the things we thought were most important to us. To make the cut they had to either be well used or well loved, and the result is that I now know where every single thing I own is. I appreciate the things I kept more than I ever did, and I don’t feel any nagging guilt from knowing I have so many things that I never even look at, much less use.

It does come with a few complications, like if something breaks we’re less likely to have a suitable replacement stuck in a closet somewhere. On the upside though we can usually buy a little bit better something to replace it with if we need to.

Are You Just Going To Travel Full Time?

Not yet.

Lots of people do start traveling full time when they make the move, and while that sounds awesome the rest of our lifestyle isn’t conducive to that right now. There are kids to be near and yards to cut, so for the moment at least we won’t be leaving for an extended period of time.

This part of the conversation normally includes a confused look, where the person I’m talking to is trying to figure out why I would move into a tiny moveable house without the intention of traveling… why not just stay where I was at? I refer you to question one.

Truth is, we do plan to travel and have more fun, and are already doing so more than we ever did before. In the last 9 years we have been on less than half a dozen real trips, not counting the time we spent working on the road. If we weren’t spending the weekend working on someone else’s house we were working on our own. There just wasn’t time to go.

So far this year we’ve already reserved campsites for two trips this summer and are planning two more. We’re going tent camping over the July 4th weekend and visiting a national park in August to check out a giant yard sale they have in the area. We get to go to the lake with the boat now, or take a day trip around the state to see something new. We plan on taking two or three short trips a month, because with the tent or the camper it costs us virtually nothing to stay several nights in a new place. If we even want to stay a month in a different place we can and will.

Travel doesn’t have to be a full time thing, you don’t have to leave for months at a time and move around the country. You can take lots of shorter trips, go hike or see waterfalls, explore neat little towns and find hole in the wall restaurants, find a festival that’s three hours a way and make a weekend out of it. I’m sure other parts of the country are the same way, but I feel lucky to be in an area with so many state parks, lakes, and things to see. The hardest part is deciding where to go.

We were planning a cross country trip that I had hinted at in some posts, but the circumstances around that didn’t work out. It was a bit of a ‘working’ trip to move someone out there, and now they’re staying here, so we weren’t upset. And now we can take the money we would have put into that and use it for our other adventures… and a boat, which we obviously already bought.

How Do You Get Your Mail?

Ours is quite a bit easier than someone traveling full time. We just pay for a post office box, which is a little over $20 a year. There are services available to people who aren’t in one place for an extended period of time, places that will receive your mail and then forward it to where you are, or scan it in and email it to you. We haven’t had to deal with that yet, so I can’t offer any advice there. If we have bigger packages coming or need a physical address we use the campground address for now.

What About Internet?

Ask me this one later, because this morning my internet situation isn’t the greatest.

Most campgrounds provide some sort of WiFi, but it’s not always very reliable and with multiple people using it at one time the speeds can be slow. Because I work online we use a Verizon Wireless MiFi to have broadband internet, and normally it suits my needs just fine. We do have data limits though, and this month we’ve gone over those once already and may use up the overage allowance as well. This is an abnormality, if it becomes a regular thing I’ll up our plan and avoid the usage fees. Because of the limits and slower speed we can’t stream TV, which is disappointing, but not a deal breaker… we do have satellite after all.

It’s not the ideal situation, but it’s the only one I know of that will work where we are. I’ve seen other options similar to Verizon but without data limits, but they don’t offer coverage here. For now this works fine for me most of the time, but if I find a more reliable high speed option I’ll be all over it.

I can already think of several other questions we get on a regular basis, but this post has gotten lengthy already so I’ll save those for a part deux.

If you full time or live ‘differently’ are there questions you get asked a lot? Do you get mixed reactions or are you just known as the guy that lives in a van down by the river? Don’t you miss Chris Farley? I do…

Camper Cookin’ Vol. 1 – Depression Cake

I’ve been thinking lately about how my cooking habits have changed since we moved into the Turtle. I don’t have as much counter space or cooking area, and when the weather is nice we cook quite a bit on the grill instead of inside. We still eat most of the same things, but how we prepare some of them has changed.

So I’ve started collecting recipes for one dish meals, foil pack recipes for grilling, and low prep dishes. I thought it might be helpful to share some of these as we try them so you can enjoy too! This will probably be an occasional series, as we try something new I’ll post the recipe and my review of it.

This one I can’t take credit for, I found it floating around on the internets, but it is so absolutely perfect for whipping up in a tiny space that I had to share it. It’s a recipe that reportedly became popular during the depression due to the necessary rationing of milk, eggs, and butter. I don’t know how true to the period it is because I’ve seen other recipes that called for boiling down raisins and other fruit instead of adding sugar, but this one is so easy that I’ll definitely be making it again.

This cake is made in one dish, with ingredients you probably already have, and turned out better than any box cake mix I’ve had. I was really surprised at how easy it is to make and how moist it turned out. I’ve tried made from scratch cakes in the past, and usually they are more trouble than they’re worth, so I always go back to the box. This one took me about 8 minutes to put together including taking the pictures. Unless you include the 20 minutes I spent refilling our propane tank, because we only run out when I’m trying to cook something and Marty isn’t here.

By the way, I hope you’ll excuse the poor photography… I took these with my phone and was in a hurry to get done and put together some sausage and veggie foil packs for dinner. I’ll share those next time!

Depression Cake

1 1/2 c. All Purpose Flour
1 c. Sugar
3 tbsp Cocoa
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt

1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp White Vinegar
5 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 c. Water

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Mix the dry ingredients together in an ungreased 8×8 baking pan. Keep mixing until it turns a nice chocolate brown color.

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Dig out 3 dents in your dry mix, two small and one larger.

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Pour the vanilla and vinegar into each of the smaller dents and the oil into the larger one. Enjoy the creepy cake face that occurs at this point.

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Pour your cup of water over the whole shebang. Say buh-bye to your creepy cake face. If you’re really feeling funny make screaming noises as he disappears.

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Mix it all together, smushing any little pockets of dry stuff until it’s all nice and moist.

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Taste the batter, because it’s quite delicious.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes and test with a toothpick, if it comes out clean you’re done. Mine came out perfect and didn’t need any extra time, but ovens vary.

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Ice, top with powdered sugar, or just eat plain like we did.

Enjoy!

Project 333 – 2 Months In

So, I seem to be doing Project 331… or maybe 313, I’m not sure.

Tomorrow brings the end of my second month living with less clothes. And evidently I’m both better and worse at it than I thought.

I was prepared to confess how big of a cheater I have been, and I still am a bit, but after writing this post and re-writing my list to share with you I realized that during the excessive swapping this month I’ve actually shorted myself by two items. Challenge accepted.

Regardless of the amount I have though, I’ve still swapped more than the three items that were laid out in the original challenge, and I’ve cheated twice as well. So here we go… allow me to rationalize myself to you in order to excuse my terrible cheating.

It’s been one month since my last confession.

First off, there was one pair of jeans that I had originally kept for the sake of variety because I was going into an office every day. With no office in the foreseeable future I decided to nix those, and since the weather has warmed up substantially I decided to swap out my heavier North Face jacket and another jacket for two more t-shirts. Swap Numero Uno.

I’ve also found that my wardrobe changed a bit when we moved to the campground, as you might expect. I started this with one pair of denim shorts, a pair of overall shorts, and a pair of capris. That was my normal summer wardrobe, and last summer it was fine because I was inside working quite a bit, plus we lived on a shady hillside. Here, however, I’m outside a lot more. And while our actual campsite is shaded the rest of the park stays pretty sunny. I walk in the mornings and at night, carry my laundry over to the main building, take my work outside for much of the day, and most evenings we sit outside relaxing until nearly time for bed.

Over the past two months I’ve also discovered the wonder that is silky feeling running shorts. These things are awesome! I started out with just one pair that I walk in (remember workout clothes don’t count), but they’re so extremely comfortable that I wanted a black pair to wear with t-shirts, which led to also finding a pair in grey cotton. So I’ve added two pairs of shorts, and to do so I got rid of more shirts. Swap Numero Dos.

Let me preface the next part of this story by saying that I should know when we leave the house to take a change of clothes, a passport, and an overnight bag. Just sayin’.

Really though, we’re pretty spontaneous, and a short trip to the store sometimes turns into a 14 hour journey. As did our trip to Wal Mart on Saturday. We had already been out all day at yard sales and a little local festival (found a $2 duffel bag for the upcoming trip… woot!). So we came home, spent approximately an hour on an impromptu clean-out-the-basement-and-wipe-bird-crap-off-the-car session, and headed out again about 4 o’clock to pick up a few things from the Mart.

Long story short, Marty ended up playing music with some of his friends at an annual Memorial Day party until nearly 2am. In the gap between watching bands play in the park in Lewisburg and going to the party the temperature changed big time, and I had left in shorts and a tank top! So to avoid freezing to death or having to go the whole opposite direction for a pair of pants and my cardigan the decision was made to steal clothes from the stash of Non-333’s I have in a tote in storage for now. The aforementioned dark jeans and jacket made a much appreciated brief appearance, but I’m happy to say as soon as we got home I stacked them in a dining room chair to head back to storage. Cheat Numero Uno.

Last but not least, yesterday I put on the blue and coral running shorts that I usually only walk in, went for my walk, and got so busy I forgot didn’t want to change back out of them. They’re just so comfy… Cheat Numero Dos.

So, 600 words later, I’m a terrible cheater! However, I feel a little justified in the fact that my entire lifestyle changed twice in the last two months. Once when we moved to the campground (we had only been here a week when I started this challenge), and again when I left the office. I feel like future quarters will be a little easier now that I’m settled in.

I do have one problem though, and maybe you guys can help me out. Our weather here is pretty unpredictable, last year it warmed up at the beginning of March and didn’t cool down again until November, this year has been rather cool some days in May still. In April when I started this we were still having 30 degree mornings and mild days, while this month we’ve had a mix of 90 degree days and 60 degree days, some cold nights and some warm. Next month I imagine will be pretty hot.

I needed my North Face jacket when this started, but after about a month it was taking up valuable real estate that I needed for warmer weather attire. It’s probable that I won’t have to swap as much the next time around, so I could keep it as one of my three swap items, but you just never know around here.

So, if you’re doing The Project too, how do you handle the weather changes in spring and fall? Do you live somewhere that summer starts in any random month between March and June?

In case you’re really bored or just curious, I’ve added my updated list below for your perusal.

My Current 33 31

  1. Aviators

  2. Brown leather purse

  3. Reeboks

  4. Brown t-strap sandals

  5. Reef flip flops

  6. Rubber boots – White Nike tee

  7. Favorite Silver jeans

  8. Dark jeans – Black running shorts

  9. Holy capris

  10. Denim Shorts

  11. Denim overalls

  12. Coral sundress

  13. Pink dress

  14. Blue strapless sundress

  15. Dark blue tank

  16. Grey knit tank – Brown and Coral North Face tee

  17. Green racer back tank

  18. Grey racer back tank

  19. White tube top

  20. Green v-neck shirt

  21. Light blue t shirt

  22. Orange baggy T-shirt

  23. White t-shirt with cool back

  24. T-shirt with leaves

  25. Mesh t-shirt

  26. Titans t-shirt

  27. White T-shirt with blue flowers

  28. Brown 1/2 sleeve shirt – Gray running shorts

  29. Brown cardigan

  30. Grey merona pullover

  31. North Face jacket (Will swap out later)

  32. Hangout t shirt

  33. Under Armour visor

Thoughts From The Campground – 2 Months In

View From Across The Road

View From Across The Road

Tomorrow marks two months from the day that we left our house on the hill and spent our first night at the campground.

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The View From My Corner Office

I wanted to commemorate it with a post. I’ve been thinking for two days about the last two months, how things have changed, the adjustment we’ve gone through, how life is different now then it was then. I wish I had some deep insights or a great story of transition, but honestly it’s just not there.

The main thing people say when they see our new place is ‘I bet this was a big adjustment’. But it hasn’t been. It feels like this is where we’ve always been… maybe that’s due to my terrible short term memory, but I prefer to think of it as a sign that we made the right decision.

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Our New Site

Things have changed, nearly everything actually. We relax more, clean less, sit outside enjoying the view more (especially since the site move!), watch a little less TV, stress less, and enjoy our weekends a whole lot more with less to do around the house.

We’ve talked about it a few times, and neither one of us can think of anything we miss from the house or the stuff we’ve sold. That might seem harsh, considering the new owners kept one of our dogs, but we’ve been back over several times and he seems so happy over there that it makes it okay.

I loved my house, but I think all in all I love the Turtle just as much, if not more. We don’t have any unused space, except for a few cabinets and drawers we haven’t filled with anything… there’s no upstairs to clean even though we only use it a few times a month, the refrigerator can be cleaned in a matter of minutes, and the den is just damn cozy.

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Pretty Little Mobile Rose

For a few minutes the other day I missed my four rose bushes, we moved so fast I didn’t even think about them until a friend mentioned hers was starting to bloom. That was an easy fix though, we went to Lowes and bought a little knockout rose and a pretty yellow pot to put it in… problem solved. Now I have a mobile rose.

This last week has been a bit of an adjustment for me, not having to go into an office for 8 hours every day. It’s been a good adjustment though, I had forgotten how much can be done before lunch when you aren’t tied to one spot. I’ve been working on websites, catching up on paperwork, getting back into using coupons, and sleeping an extra 30 minutes every morning.

I’m excited about the future and the opportunities that start opening up when you start making changes. I have a lot of plans for this summer, so many things I want to do to the Etsy shop and the blog now that I have time. And we’re still not positive about the big trip I’ve teased about, but if it goes through it should happen in the next couple of weeks… I’ll share the details of that when I know for sure.

But for now I’m going to take the next three days off… I’m going to go to yard sales, eat a lot of grilled goodies, and enjoy a long weekend with my husband. I hope you all have a great weekend too, rest, spend time with your family, eat a lot, and have a Happy Memorial Day!