Thursday, January 27, 2011
PEE NEW MOAN YA and Pressure Cooker Rice in 8 minutes -
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
RVing - Trip Preparations and Chelsea off to daycare this week
Right now I am starting to assemble summer type clothing to bring out to the rig. That is REALLY optimistic, right? I have some capris I need to shorten or take in, some tops to sort through and pack and then take out some of the heavy winter type clothing that we keep in the rig all year round. We will have some cooler weather clothes of course for evenings and early mornings. But I think the huge Iceman Sorrel snow boots and heavy winter parka, chopper mitts, and earmuffs can stay at home?
I am packing sandals, moccasins and then a pair of rubber flipflops for public showers if we use them at a campground. We do like showering in our own rig, but if water conservation becomes a concern in some areas, or distance between filling our freshwater tank, and if there are public ones, we will do what we have to do. And the rubber flipflops are necessary for that.
Steve and I bought some New Balance hiking/walking shoes too. Better than the beat up old Nike's I had been wearing when camping, and Steve needed a new pair too. Now we *MATCH* ... oh gosh, I said I would never ever ever dress us alike!
Steve is still looking at types of hoses for his PoopEater device (mascerator) The good rubber 1 inch hose will run him about $50 or more for the lengths he wants to have. But if we go with cheaper plastic sump pump hose, it would be under $15. For how often or how rare we will use it, we don't know yet. So I said let's start out cheap, and then go better quality if he feels we need it and use it more often? We can always buy rubber hose on the road somewhere. Such a dilemma for a man to decide on cheap poop or rubber poop hose? hahahahahahha
Been suffering a flu bug last week that started up, and now settled in my lungs and my head. Dosing with Claritin D in the mornings, Nyqul at night, and using up boxes of kleenix and bags of cough drops. YUCK!
Was vacuuming out my keyboard on the laptop the other day, and the K key came loose! It gets crumby and dog haired in between the keys. Trying to put a key button back on a Dell is not as easy as snapping it into place. I even looked up the directions as there are two tiny intersecting nylon pieces that are under each key. Of course one of the tiny pivot point axles snapped off and now the key won't stay in place. I ordered a new aftermarket keyboard from Ebay that should be here today. My last Dell with through three keyboards, so I am sure to be able to change it out myself. Hope it comes soon, typing without a K means I have to wiggle the little rubber nub to make it work. LOL
Little Chelsea is off to her big day care again today. It only took a 20 minutes drop off time with her mommy there till she felt comfortable and off to play with the other 1 year olds. I took her on Monday for her first day, and she was a little weepy each time I would pop outta the room, but I hung close and filling out paperwork, and checking on her. After an hour and a half, she was ready to be with the other little ones. She has been here in my home since Erin went to work at 6 weeks, so she never went to a day care before. It will be 2 days a week till we leave for vacation, then it will be full time weeks for her there. Here are a few pics of her getting settled in. I popped them off on the cell phone fast and emailed them to her mommy who was busy at work doing a store inventory at 6am .
So it's been quiet around here without my little buddy, but I am adjusting. Slowly.
Been reading a good book recommended by Al over on Travel with The Bayfield Bunch it's called "The Cowman's Wife" by Mary Kidder Rak, and it's set at the Fort Rucker Ranch House in the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona near Douglas. He has written about it a few times on his blog, but here is the post where they actually found it and walked around the old ranch location. In Search of Old Fort Rucker I am finding the book fascinating so I am reading it slowly, savoring each page. I am also jotting down little flags on the GPS in case we get out that way and want to do some 4X4 running around in the Toad. That is our Geo Tracker we tow behind the motorhome (a towed car is called a "toad" in RV terminology)
Sitting here in my snowy little log house, on the river, and watching a couple snowmobiles whiz by. Our river is a race course once it's frozen over with enough ice to support the machines. We used to snowmobile too when the kids lived at home, and could spend hours out in the wintery weather.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
One Month Vacation Countdown - and cooking stew in a pressure cooker
Yesterday we drove to frozen Green Bay for some errands, and bought some New Balance hiking/walking shoes for our trip. We plan to get in a lot of walking and the dogs will be enjoying it too. We found some nice ones on sale from $70 down to $21 clearance! They didn't have them in woman's size on the clearance, just men's. But Steve found a pair for himself, and I thought what the heck, let me see if there was a men's pair that were small enough for me? Sure Nuff! So now we are sporting matching shoes!
We skipped going to the big Green Bay RV and Camper show this weekend. It was held indoors and they charge $8 a person to enter the building. We know of the two local dealers, only one carries motorhomes, and he only had 2 on the lot all winter. Our friends Sharon and Fred went, and said there wasn't much to see anyhow. Just lots of booths of private parks that we never go to anyhow. So we saved our money.
Last week I posted about using my pressure cookers in the house and in the motorhome. I have a larger one in the house and a smaller one in the motorhome. Note-- this is not the big canning pressure cookers with the dials and levers. This is a smaller stove top version for cooking foods faster and seals in the flavor better than conventional cooking in a kettle.
The one in the pics below came from a tenant of mine. He was an older man who was moving to Nevada, and I helped him sell off a lot of his antique furniture and things before he left. One of the items he gave to me was this pressure cooker, complete with the old original recipe book that was printed by the company, Presto. I know new ones in the stores run upwards of $70-80 ... so keep an eye out at thrift shops or rummages for a more reasonable priced one. You can get replacement gaskets and rocker weights in many hardware stores or online. The smaller one in the rig came from a rummage sale for $2.
We use them a lot, and it makes cooking easier and faster, in my opinion. So while I was making beef stew this week, I snapped a few pics for my blog. I timed myself ... it took 28 minutes from beginning to end!
The house smells soooooooooooooo good after making stew! And sometimes I add to that a loaf of home baked bread from the bread machine. Now that is a double whammy on making the house smell extra special!
Last night I made up rice in the pressure cooker, (7 minutes to fluffy perfection) and took pics but they are still in the camera... will save them for a future blog post when I have nothing else to write about.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Replies to last blog - Coupons on the Go!
I thought rather than replying to the comments on my last blog back on that blog page, I decided that I would reply here instead. After all, who goes back to see what anyone replied to a reply? LOL
Where the heck are you going anyway! Florida??? We'd love to get together if you're in the area.
97 Roadtrek 170P "Taj Ma Trek"
(my reply) So here is what Heidi from Vansteaders wrote: (reprinted with her permission)
Coupons on the go!
There are many stores that have this couponing option... Fred Meyer is another one that I specifically checked on.
If you don't see all the coupons you want at your "regular" store's site, I also found out there are other sites that will add coupons to your store's card:
Cellfire.com, PGeSAVER.com, Shortcuts.com, Upromise.com...
I haven't used these sites yet, but I'll check them all out before my next shopping trip.
I don't know if I'll ever be one of those extreme-super-coupon-saving-shoppers, the kind that get their groceries for free and speak in a language I don't understand (with lingo like "price matching" and "doubles"), but it's progress!
Sunday, January 16, 2011
OVER 100 Followers - LISTS for packing RV- and Chelsea's First Birthday family celebration
At first I thought I would be writing my blog for my family and close friends, but now I realize I am writing it more to share our journeys, our motorhome modifications and our camping places. Most of my followers are either RVers or my Fiber Friends whom I have met around the country. I hope that you find the pages helpful, if not a tad a bit entertaining?
Yes, we are still frozen and cold and stuck in Wisconsin on a dreary January day. After that wonderful Packer playoff win over Atlanta last night, we are cheered on a bit by something to keep us occupied until our departure date for escaping to warmer temps. The playoffs will be front and center until the Super Bowl in early February.
We have a few obligations in February that we need to handle, between working, business, meetings, doc appts. and taking care of granddaughter Chelsea and the two rat dog chihuahuas while her parents run away for a week on the beach in Mexico! Once those things are all done, Steve is able to take a big chunk of his vacation, and we are going to hop in and GO!
My list is growing of things to prepare for our 7 week trip,
so I don't forget anything. It goes like this:
call credit card companies and debit card to notify we are traveling to other states
This is done so they are aware of our traveling mode, otherwise they deny out of ordinary charges and call us to verify any charges made that are unusual to our account and normal spending habits and locations.
split up credit cards between us
We normally each carry the same cards from 2 credit card companies (and our debit cards which we barely use anymore) If, when traveling, by chance one of us were to get our wallet stolen, that would make ALL our cards worthless if we had to report one of our wallets stolen. By splitting them up, we would be ensured of at least having one card still usable while waiting for a replacement of the other card. Example, he takes an American Express and I take the Master Card so we are not both having the same cards in our wallets. I read about an RV couple who had that happen and had to have family wire them $500 to get enough gas to get home. Most credit card companies will only mail a replacement card to the home address too. Hard to get one mailed to you if you are on the road.
Another good hint is to take all your credit cards, driver license, insurance card and club cards and lay them on a photo copy machine. Take a scan of the fronts of all your cards, then flip them over and take a scan of the backs. Then you have all the phone numbers, acct. numbers and correct names and spellings needed to report a problem or a loss. Keep the photocopy in a safe place too.
We will stop our mail while we are gone, but have Erin pick it up every week or so at the post office and look it over for us. We live rurally by a tiny town and they said it was fine for her to pick it up. The post office will only hold it for 30 days by policy, so after our 4th week she will submit a new hold card for us that we can sign ahead of time. Most of our bills are paid online, but in case something else were to come along, she will be able to open it up and tell us what it is. She and Mark will also be checking at the house and the neighbors shoveling the snow and keeping a close eye on the house.
get a gift card for heathers birthday
Yes, we will be gone for our daughter's birthday in March. So we are going to give her a gift card and tell her to go shopping. She can email us photos of what she chooses to buy for herself. If we were to buy her a present now, she would not be able to wait to open it, I know she would peek!
update our Flying J card
We just got an email from Pilot/Flying J that their RV Real Value Club has changed to a new program. It's now called the Frequent Fueler Advantage. Although we don't use them that much here in Wisconsin, because we don't have any Flying J's or Pilots around here. They said we can update our present card status into the new program: Already have a Frequent Fueler, RV Real Value Club, or Driver Payback card? No need to get a new card! Register your card today at www.frequentfueleradvantage.
- Pump Start: Ability to start pumps without having to prepay
- Special offers on retail and restaurant items
- Automatically enrolled in our Coffee Club: buy 5 hot beverages and the 6th is on us!
- Bonus Points after registration is complete (for Professional Drivers only)
extra speakers for ipod/mp3 player
I already own two sets of these neat little speakers, but I took the motorhome set into the house for my studio and have to remember to bring them back out again. You can plug in an Ipod, Iphone or mp3 player and they work quite well. Not a loud volume speaker, but nice for quiet soft music in the background without using electricity. Great for boondocking.
batteries from drawer in house
We never have enough batteries along... AA, AAA and big D cells. So I will clean out the stash in the house and pack them along in the motorhome. It's Murphy's Law that whatever flashlight is dying, you never have the right batteries to reload it! LOL
Lila and I plan to get some beading done when we meet up with her and Roger somewhere along the way... she does wonderful beading and I need some new ideas too. Beads are such a nice small portable craft to take along in the RV, as is my knitting by hand on needles. I also plan to take along the antique sockknitting machine, but not so sure if I will take a table loom or the spinning wheel. Still thinking about that. We will be so busy seeing stuff, not sure how much time I will to play with the bigger fiber toys.
swapping out the pressure cookers
We use a pressure cooker a lot for cooking on the stovetop (not a big canning pressure cooker, but a smaller kettle style with a rocker weight for pressure regulation) I even do steamed rice in a pressure cooker by setting raw rice and water in a metal bowl and putting the bowl inside the cooker with an inch of water. 7 minutes later you have perfect rice! The one in the motorhome is fine for the two of us, but the one in our house is a bit bigger. In case of those impromptu pot lucks or gatherings, I think it would be nicer to have the larger one along. So I think I will swap them out for the trip. We LOVE the tender way it cooks meat fast, like turkey breast, tenderloin tips or lastly, BBQ ribs - which we don't have that often any more due to high fat. But it makes them fall apart tender and we add a bit of BBQ sauce and set them under a broiler or on a campfire to *brown up* a bit.
dog brushing tools and nail clippers
Being gone 7 weeks will mean those silly doggers still need to get brushed and groomed while on the road
membership cards for camping clubs and discount cards for RVing
I gathered all of our cards and put them all in one handy folder.... all of the cards for Passport America, Good Sam, FMCA and Camping World and our AARP cards. We also added the card for our insurance agent, hopefully not having to use it.
call our insurance agent to double check our policy. (done last week)
Our good friends Sharon and Fred went through a horrendous battle with their insurance company after the wreck of their fiver and truck, we don't want to run into some of the troubles they did. We doublechecked on things like towing...
is it only for a wreck or is it for roadside assistance?
does it only pay a set amount?
does it pay only to get towed to the first place?
what if they can't fix it or it's after hours and nobody knows if they can fix it till they open two days later?
who pays for the second tow to the next place?
what if diesel fuel leaked all over in the case of a crash? who pays the HUGE cleanup fees being imposed in some areas for hazardous waste (which can run well over $5,000 in a single crash and some insurances won't pay for it)
We got all of our questions answered and have updated our list of personal items as well as normally kept items in the motorhome. We carry an extra rider for those possessions, because most RV policies only cover $500 worth of personal items. In the event of a loss, you either have to eat it or prove those items were from your home that you brought along and hopefully your homeowners policy will cover some of them. Whew!
bottles of wine
Steveio is bringing along some of his stash of homemade raspberry wine for our special RVing folks we run into on the way.... and I am bringing some of my Michigan Wild Blueberry Jam!
Very important to take these along, not only if we decide to hop down into Mexico for a day or two, but also we read on Al's blog that sometimes there are checkpoint stops in some of the southern states and showing a passport is good proof that you are a US citizen. Though neither of us look very Hispanic, it's nice to have them along!
I am getting all of my prescriptions refilled for 3 months worth so we don't run short. Avoids the hassle of trying to refill while on the road. We don't use a major chain, we use our small town pharmacy at our local tiny hospital for most of our refills. They have to pre-approve with the insurance company to get some of the prescriptions filled ahead of time, citing "7 week vacation" as a reason for the earlier refill. Some of my drugs are from Walgreens Mail Order. Last time we were on vacation, we thought we could just stop in a regular Walgreens store and get them filled at the counter. Nope... those are two separate entities and not transferrable between the two systems of Walgreens. So we had to call the doc office, get them to call in a new one to the physical store, which we had to pay for IN FULL PRICE because the insurance would not cover duplicate prescriptions. This took over 2 hours of sitting in a sweltering hot parking lot with the generator running to keep the motorhome cool with the AC units We were later told if we reported the first prescription damaged or lost, we could have had a refill without paying the full cost. Oh well, we were honest and had to pay the big bucks.
water jugs in basement
we often take along 2 big five gallon water jugs of our well water from home that our dogs are used to. We can use these for the dogs drinking water when on the road. Our collie Dumb Ducky has a sensitive stomach and tends to end up with diarrhea on her hindquarters from any changes to diet or water. We can also buy bottled water in big jugs too if we run short. Long haired dog butts are not pretty if the dog is sick. Even with the outside shower unit, that is still a wet doggie butt in the rig stinking like "wet dog" as we travel. Not fun. Been there, done that. We have along their shot records and rabies tags on the collars. Their collars also have tags on with our cell phone number in case they were to ever wander off. We always planned to get them microchipped, but never made it to Petco on the clinic days where they had it being done. Might do that before we leave, which entails a 70 mile round trip to the nearest Petco to have it done.
I have a couple large rolling suitcases that I will pack up with some of my most popular handwoven rugs, towels and knit socks for selling along the way. Many times folks wonder about my crazy contraptions if we are set up in a campground and I am weaving or knitting or spinning under the awning. Having a stash of pre-priced and finished items available for impromptu sales is an added bonus. The sales add to the traveling budget! I have business cards and brochures along too. I can also ship out if any of the items are sold from my online Etsy store http://kareninthewoods.etsy.com/ People pay me via PayPal, and I ship them out from the nearest post office when traveling. I am also taking along a stash of yarns for knitting which are easily shrunk down in those wonderful Space Bags. I LOVE those things! I can stack a lot of yarn or fiber in a small space using those bags. We have a vacuum cleaner with a hose to reshrink any bags if I take some out.
backup drive unit for my laptop
I am kinda debating on this one.... I will do a complete backup right before we leave, but should I leave my backup drive at home where it's safe, or should I bring it along in case of a computer crash to restore my laptop while on the road?
small dvd player and dvd movies from in the house
Our present DVD player/recorder deck unit in the motorhome is an older model and more *sensitive* to playing back certain brands of home recorded dvds. Some it will play and some it won't. Same with it's recording feature, it will burn a DVD of home made video content, but only on certain brands of blank DVDs. Sometimes I like to copy video that we film on trips, day by day, right onto a burnable DVD blank so I can clear the video camera's SD disc each time to film again. That is why we have a player/recorder unit in the motorhome. We have a lot of purchased and copied entertainment movies that we found will not play back on that particular player. So I think I will bring along the unit from the house that is a small player only, and hook that up if need be. The small one is newer and seems to play anything. We will probably be out in the boonies a lot and possibly out of digital tv station range. This way we can pop in a movie on a dreary day or a long rainy night with no campfire going. Without having satellite for tv (we really don't watch that much) we can at least pop in a DVD to watch if we want.
fleece pelt for Ducky to lay on
Dumb Ducky who is now ten years old, has been laying on a big sheep fleece pelt at home from time to time for her aching joints on damp or humid days. So we will have to remember to toss one in the motorhome for her to get comfy on. Other days she rams around like a young puppy, so who knows. She just may be a spoiled princess? All Duke needs along is his frisbee and some doggie biscuits and he is happy. Of course, also their leashes for walks. We added these to their flexi leashes.....
postage stamps for postcards
I have to pick up a few pages of postcard stamps, to send cute postcards home to the grandkids as we travel. We will also visit with the grandkids via Skype on the webcams too, but only when we find some wifi somewhere. The Skype uses up a LOT of bandwidth on my 5gb limit aircard, so to conserve, we will just locate hotspots here and there to do our special visits.
Tomorrow Steveio is going to locate the macerator hose he wants and get that all configured and stowed in a tote underneath that is labeled just for black water drainage use. We have a variety of totes, each labeled as to the contents so it makes it easier to sort and find things in the basement compartments. I did a previous blog post on our basement organization if you would like to see it at:
Don't worry, we are still below our CCC capacity on the things we are loading up..... The only other things are more clothes and food, and we are good to go! Toss in the laptops, the cameras, the router, antenna and aircard.... hook up the Tracker toad and hit the road=================
Now, if you think I am over-planning ... well you should see what Steveio is trying to add to my list! He wants an extra rebuilt alternator, extra RV water pump, extra sensors and belts and hoses and gosh knows what else along. He figures if you DO have the parts on board, then the item you are preparing for will NEVER break down. It's Murphy's Law!
Yesterday we had a wonderful time at our daughter Erin's house... it was the family party for little Chelsea, the youngest of our three grandchildren. All the kids were there, and we had a wonderful time. She chowed down on the birthday cake and was delighted with all her new toys....
Monday, January 10, 2011
RV Macerator prep and HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY Chelsea
The macerator arrived this weekend, so he is busy busy busy adapting the cap, figuring out which length drain hoses he wants to make, where he is going to wire in the 12 volt outlet for it, etc. The only problem is with the near zero weather, he can not be out there rewiring that compartment in the motorhome yet to have the outlet powered to operate the thing. I am thinking he can wait till we head somewhere south where it's warmer, rather than working in the cold and kneeling in the snow.
For those non-RVers... the macerator is kinda like a garbage disposal that chops stuff up before it gets rinsed away. The only difference is that this goes on the outlet to our waste tanks and chops up the *poop* into tiny pieces so it can be pumped uphill,, downhill, wherever via a 1 inch hose. That is opposed to the normal big 3" Stinky Slinky hose being gravity dumped into a hole in the ground.
(this is a stinky slinky below.. that just lays on the ground and gravity feeds the dump stuff into a hole. It works ok, but you can see if unlevel terrain or too far away, the stinky slinky is not a good option)
So why did we buy it??? With a macerator, we can pump the holding tanks out at strange dumpstation locations, or into a higher located septic drain, or and up into an outhouse hole at a national forest campground where they don't have dumpstations. Even in our yard, we can pump it a longer distance around the corner of the house and down into our septic system with a long hose. Our motorhome could never drive down there across our lawn to dump the tanks. This will save us on dump station fees, usually $5-10 each time you go to a public dumpstation.
Sometimes, even when parked at a campsite with hookups and sewer, the dump hole is on the wrong side of the campsite for us. This happens a lot because many campsites have the nice view out the back of the site and the utilities and dump hole are often located to the right of the site for back-in type campers and trailers. But with a motorhome, our big windows are in the front... we have no windows in the back over the bed. So to take advantage of these great views, we have to pull in forwards. That puts the hookups on the *wrong* side for us. (RVs generally have their dump and hookup items on the driver's side of a rig)
Having a macerator will help allow us to stretch a narrow 1 inch hose across under the rig and still dump easily both our grey and black water.
This device will hook onto our drain port via bayonet tabs, plug into a 12 volt outlet (that Steve is going to wire up himself soon) and then get removed each time when the *job is done*. He bought a higher grade of marine macerator with metal blades as opposed to the cheaper RV version with plastic blades.
These babies run upwards of $200! Wow.. who knew that dumping your poop could cost so much? But never fear, my bargain hunting husband found one on Ebay from a salvaged boat that was being parted out. It looks like new and operates, so that is what he wanted, for the bargain price of $68.00 plus $12 shipping. He is going to Fleet Farm to buy good quality 1 inch farm hose for drainage. Our kids gave us a Fleet Farm gift card that we need to use up, so yes, the kids bought us a Pooper Hose for Xmas!
Little Chelsea will be here soon for the day for me to take care of her. We will sing Happy Birthday and let her have some treats. Her big party will be this weekend at Erin and Mark's ... so she will get presents then.
I took her Friday to her little story hour at the local library. She sits with all the Big Kids in the pit area, and is walking quite well now, and scrambled off to join the Big Kids in line after each story.
They line up in front of the librarian story teller and get a sticker to put on their nametag. It shows they sat quietly and listened to each story. At the end of each story they line up, get a sticker, and then sit back down. Three stories, three stickers! Here she is picking out one from the sheet for her self.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
It's a Blueberry Jam kind of day
Last summer, while camping at the Paint River Forks, Steveio and I picked some Wild Michigan Blueberries. It was a hot humid day and we went out with my sister, Linda and her hubby Fuzz for a nice getaway weekend. Here is the blog post from that day:
Just check out these berry pickin’ fools!
As soon as those berries were picked and cleaned, I froze them in the motorhome freezer. Two big gallon ziplock bags full! I had planned to get around to making some jam from them right away... but…. well…. the middle of a snowy day in January works just as well, right?
Little Chelsea was my assistant and taste tester! She LOVES blueberries and was squawking at me like a birdie to keep dropping them into her open mouth as they were defrosting in the bowl. She kept me in line by wiggling the measuring spoons to get my attention and keep me focused. She sat in her little high chair and helped me count the scoops of berries and scoops of sugar, keeping careful count as we made our jam.
Note the bib: “GRANDMA NEVER SAYS NO!”
We mushed and mashed and sugar and simmered ….
We were filling the jars and listening to the delightful PING PING PING as the jars sealed up on the counter
We did up 23 jars of wonderful Michigan Wild Blueberry Jam
Thanks to all the wonderful help by my little Kitchen Helper Girl… even though she fell asleep during the second batch, she did her fair share of the work for me!
Then as an added P.S. to yesterday’s blog post about my new containers. I went out to the motorhome and decided to fill them up and stack them in the cupboards.
Here is how it USED to look, with the round canisters:
And here is how it looks now with the neat square shaped canisters, all sealed up
I might go back to the store and get one more for the other cabinet for our coffee. At home we grind beans each day for our coffee with an electric grinder. But I think with the vacuum sealed containers, we could grind up a bunch in advance for our vacation and just bring that full container along. Better get back there before they go off sale, huh?
The day is ending with snow falling outside and quite a bit warmer than the 1 below zero I woke up to this morning. We are in the middle of the grips of winter weather here in Wisconsin. But a day of blueberry jam making is helps to make the winter blahs go away!