Thursday, May 28, 2015

Taking a Look Back: Emptying Out to Prepare for Our Trip - Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 27

At the end of last summer, we decided we would like to stay for the season for 2015. We’d pay the rate for the season and stay from May 1st until the end of August. We discussed it as a family and made the commitment.  The kids were aware we would be winding up activities in April and not signing up for anything in May or beyond. Over the holidays, we confirmed our plan and put our down our deposit.  In January when the kids enrolled in activities, we announced at the start that it would be through April. After May, we’d be unavailable. Several months later, my daughter’s dance studio began asking why she wouldn’t be at the recital in June. They asked her to ask us if she could be in the recital. I was a little annoyed at first as this put her in an awkward situation and we had been very up front with them, even before enrolling. However, hubby took it all in stride and responded, “tell them (the dance studio) that you can be in the recital; the recital just needs to be moved to the end of April.” My daughter and I both responded to that.  =D   She also took it in stride and shared with her fellow dancers and teacher. She felt stronger about our choice. I don’t think we missed anything by ending our activities in April.

One month before our trip, we started making serious preparations. We went through the items in our pantry and decluttered. We let go of some of the items that we will no longer use. We prioritized items and marked one shelf with items that needed to either be used or brought with us. We began using those items. We did the same with the freezer and refrigerator. We created meals from what we already had in the freezer or fridge. We started working our way through using items in the fridge and freezer for meals and only buying the minimal amount that month for immediate use.
The result? The items in the pantry, fridge and freezer began to dwindle. Slowly at first, then building momentum. By the time our trip arrived, we had a small amount to bring with us. We had emptied the fridge and freezer and unplugged it for our time away! It was a liberating experience. Using what we had then adding minimal purchases to get us through the month. When you make it fun or a game, you get creative, have a positive experience and enjoy the process. Upon reflection, it could have been a dreadful experience if we hadn’t planned ahead and suddenly started looking through the pantry, fridge and freezer the day or so before the trip!

~ Happy Camper

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Our Outdoor Gathering Space, Part II - Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 25

Our Outdoor Gathering Space, Part II - Our RV Journey – Summer Trip - Day 25
So our outdoor space is coming together. I am very pleased with it! We had a great Memorial Day weekend. I hope you all did too.  
On Saturday morning, we put together our gazebo. It’s huge….while putting it together I began lovingly referring to it as “our mini circus tent.” It was a productive morning and the finished project is beautiful!
In the gazebo, we placed the patio table, chairs and a side table to act as a buffet table where we could serve all of the food. It worked out wonderfully. By using the side table, it offered space underneath to store the coolers our guests brought – convenient and tucked away.
We then have the circle of Adirondack chairs, toddler table and chairs for the younger crowd and another sitting area of two zero gravity chairs. The outdoor kitchen also worked out amazingly for my hubby. As guests arrived they commented on the delicious aroma from the smoker as the pork cooked.
We definitely created a cozy place for our family & friends to gather.

~ Happy Camper 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Our Outdoor Gathering Space - Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 21

Well, this is the big weekend, Memorial Day weekend is on the horizon. We are entertaining a small crowd of guests on Monday. Here’s where we are with our outside area.
We have several sitting areas. We have a circle of Adirondack chairs for gathering and chatting. We also have two zero gravity chairs that are set off in their own little area together. The menfolk tend to gravitate to those chairs! We have a patio table with four chairs.
Of course we have our Little Tykes table and chairs for the toddler crowd. I posted about this find here. I found a cute little garden flag that says, “Welcome Y’all.” I couldn’t resist buying that one.
Hubby likes to cook, so he has set up his outdoor kitchen with his grill and camping stove. This year, he added a larger propane tank for the grill that also has a hook for a lantern. He was pretty happy with that set up however he decided to add a smoker too. He loves smoking and grilling outside, which is what he plans on doing on Monday.
I’m content with the amount of sitting areas we have. We are also considering a screened in gazebo. Again, we want to have enough room for family and friends to gather, however we only have so much space, so we don’t want to overcrowd it with “extra stuff.”
Be safe and enjoy your holiday weekend.

~ Happy Camper

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Rainy Days - Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 20

I’m finally feeling better…I can breathe much easier and have energy again! It’s such a great feeling after being sick! Kids are feeling much better too. Now the weather has been topsy-turvey…every day is something new. I’m not sure if I’ll be drinking hot cocoa in the morning or wearing shorts and short sleeves for the day!
The past few days have been busy with kids’ activities and visiting family. Tuesdays and Thursdays are our  busy, run around days. Today has been a rainy day. We are always grateful for a lunch or dinner invitation on rainy days!  =D    Today for lunch we made Taco Soup. Perfect for a chilly, rainy day. If you’ve never had it, I highly recommend it.
How do you like to spend your rainy days?

~ Happy Camper

Monday, May 18, 2015

An Unplanned Interruption to My Simplifying Quest - Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 17

Simplifying! All this talk and writing and sometimes simplifying is just difficult to do! The kids and I struggled with colds and allergies all weekend from Friday morning through today. I made several trips to the store for meds, Gatorade and lots of tissues! We used and emptied all the tissue boxes this weekend. I had to go out and restock our supply today. Sometimes, life gets a little complicated. It reminds me to rest, take it easy and be grateful for my health. I am also reminded to be grateful for the days when I am full of energy. This cold or allergies I am struggling with has really zapped me of my energy. We have finally turned a corner and are feeling better tonight. I now have a spot in the camper with several boxes of tissues stored as well.

~ Happy Camper 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Great Find! Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 16

The weekend started out with both kids not feeling well. We determined one was struck with allergies and one had a cold. I ended up getting each of them something to help them feel better.

On Saturday morning, during my walk, I ran into quite a few yard sales. I peeked at a multi-family yard sale that I passed. I found a Little Tykes table & chairs set for a great price! It was very cute and in great condition! Perfect for the younger nieces and nephews at the campsite!

Later in the weekend, I wasn’t feeling too well myself – not sure if it is allergies or a cold for me. This morning, my little nephew came over. Boy was he happy with the Little Tykes table! We have a circle of Adirondack chairs at the campsite. I put the Little Tykes table and a chair in the center so we could all sit around together. He was thrilled with it and sat at it playing for quite some time. It also was the perfect height to work as a coffee table for the rest of us in the Adirondack chairs. The table turned out to be a great find.

~ Happy Camper

Friday, May 15, 2015

Maximizing Space - Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 14

It’s an interesting place to be…not having the space or the desire to spend money.
When you use the RV for camping trips or even 2 week trips, you may not necessarily use the space wisely.
Now, however, I have been going over our space and fine tuning it’s availability in an attempt to maximize our space! I’ve spent a lot of time in our bathroom cabinets cleaning out, rearranging and organizing. Sometimes it’s just a matter of using a tall cup to contain things in, like our toothpastes and our razors. It saves on space and I didn’t spend any money to do it.
I also wanted some travel toothbrushes so I could keep them with me for days when we are on the go. Now we each have a travel toothbrush – different colors – I labeled them with a sharpie (my label maker is not here, so the sharpie is the next best thing). Now I didn’t have a little bag (pencil case or small cosmetic bag) to put them in. How am I going to keep them together? Then I remembered the most available and cheapest method, a sandwich bag. So I put them in there.  =D

~ Happy Camper

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Making Use of Free Resources - Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 13

“My books, my family, my friends, and my farm furnish more than enough to occupy me the remainder of my life.”  ~ Thomas Jefferson, 1795

We’ve already made a trip to the library to catch up with our favorite authors.  I love the library and find it a wonderful resource. My love of the library has been passed on and embraced by my children. We are all readers and currently have at least one book at our bedside.
We also have one Kindle that I add free books too as I find them. I prefer a real live book nesting in my hands as I read. A friend had a few extra Kindles and sold one to me at a bargain price. They are wonderful for traveling. When I first received it, we were reading Little Women. It is a rather big book. We were getting ready for t0 and I was delighted to find it for free for the Kindle. It is also useful to find and have access to free books.

~ Happy Camper

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My Crockpot Gives Me Freedom - Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 12

I awoke this morning to chilly weather! I didn’t realize the temperature was dropping by so much overnight. It is the perfect day for crockpot soup! I quickly started planning and decided on Vegetable Beef Soup.  It’s been brewing a while now. I met up with some family at the park this afternoon. Upon returning back home, it smells delicious! I’m so excited I brought my crockpot with me on this trip. To me, the crockpot offers good homemade meals, being prepared for dinner, FREEDOM all day and a wonderful aroma!  What more can I ask for?  =D

~ Happy Camper 

An Unexpected Benefit of Minimalism - Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 12

When I went to the store the other day, we picked up a few items. I reflected on each purchase - wondering do we actually need this item? I also wondered what do we have the space for? I can’t really put too much more in the camper – mostly food or a replacement item (if that was needed, it would be minimal). That’s an exciting thought! We have our clothes. The kids will both need bathing suits come swimming time. Aside from that I can’t really think of too much else.

We are working on the outside of our campsite. We do have a small wish list of items, however we only have so much space. We don’t want to junk things up out there, so we are carefully deliberating those items.

An additional, unexpected benefit of living in the RV with limited space, needs and wants is we should be saving money this summer! Other than gas or food, I can’t think of any additional spending. My daughter wants to participate in a 1 week camp. We all have plenty of recreational activities that are low to no cost. We are keeping our bodies moving and our minds stimulated. We are learning new skills, catching up with old friends and making new friends.

~ Happy Camper

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Too Much Packaging! Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 11

“My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.” 
~ Peter Golkin

We purchased a few items at the store yesterday. When we arrived home (back at the camper), I decided to take out the trash. I opened the items we purchased and began taking everything out of the packaging so it could also go in the trash bag. I can’t believe how little space the items took up once they came out of the packaging! Also how much trash went into the trash bag from the packaging! When you live in a big house, you have more room and might not notice these things! However it was quite obvious in the camper. I wish we could use less packaging and save on waste.
~ Happy Camper

Monday, May 11, 2015

Fruit Aplenty: Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 10

We have been eating so much delicious fruit on this trip! My favorite is Pink Lady apples. I love them! Cut up or whole, I am eating a lot of them. I am also a huge fan of a berry salad – blueberries and strawberries cut up and served together;  if there are any other berries around (such as raspberries) I am eager to add them in also! 

The kids have discovered some delicious apricots. They have been a rare find as the store is having difficulty keeping them in stock due to the sweetness the apricot offers. Today they took their first taste of a champagne mango. Their Grandpop shared this delightful fruit with them and then gifted us with a box of them. The kids immediately got their knives, sliced them and raved about them.  

~ Happy Camper

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day: Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 9

“Enjoy the little things,
for one day you may look back
and realize they were the big things.”
–Robert Brault

Happy Mother's Day! Recognize and celebrate what makes you a GREAT Mom today!!! Take a few minutes to sit with your kids and count your blessings. We are off to make a yummy brunch for my Mom and my Mother-in-law! Then spend the rest of the day with our siblings and all of our nieces and nephews. Time flies by so fast and our family continues to grow. So glad to spend this Mother's Day with all of them. 

~ Happy Camper

Friday, May 8, 2015

Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 7

The weather got a little chilly overnight. We awoke to a chill in the air….awesome camping weather. We all snuggled under our blankets and stayed cozy for a while longer in our beds this morning!

We spent time at our site today and in our camper. The boys went fishing. Tonight we visited with family.
We are going to bed late tonight, however we have been early to bed and early to rise for most of this trip. We are tired from the day’s activities by nightfall!

~ Happy Camper

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 6

Almost here a week already! We are still settling in since we’ve been so busy.

Storage is always an issue in the RV, well, that and packing light! I can’t emphasize packing light enough! I struggle with this every trip. With staying for 2 seasons and being far from home, it’s challenging! Then, I remind myself that we have limited space and I don’t want to be tripping over things in the camper!

We did bring 2 square storage ottomans this trip. This is a first run for them. We haven’t used them in the camper before. They are multi-functional, which is important. They offer storage, seating and use as an ottoman. As we were leaving the house, my son was bringing his clothes downstairs and we ended up putting them in the empty ottoman to take out to the camper. All of his clothes fit in one of the ottomans! I then had my daughter bring her clothes down to test out the other ottoman. Lo and behold, all of her clothes fit in the other ottoman! Huge win-win. They really needed more space for their clothes, so bringing the ottomans has really been working out so far.

Please share if you have any storage ideas that are working out well for you or your family!

~ Happy Camper

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 5

We have been busy running around the past few days visiting with extended family. Today we spent more time at the camper, worked on our daily schedules and established routines – work, exercise and learning. I created a checklist for my son. My daughter is working on organizing her sleeping area and her personal belongings.

I think we are still adjusting to being in a much smaller space.

Kids are trying new activities – wiffleball, karate and volleyball. So we are learning new skills and getting in lots of exercise and time outdoors. Hubby has been spending a lot of time with the kids. The kids are loving the extra time with Dad.  The kids are learning to manage toddlers this summer – thanks to extended family – a valuable skill.  =D   We are spending a lot of time visiting and connecting with family as was the main purpose of our visit.

~ Happy Camper 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 4

I find these two common sayings valuable mottos for RV living:

“Less is more” ~ Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

“A place for everything, and everything in its place.” ~ Samuel Smiles

Everyone has to do the work to keep the place tidy. Initially finding a place for everything and then working together to put the item back in its place every time. Things are tidy and run smoothly when following that advice!

The boys have been fishing every day. The past 3 nights, we have had different dinner invitations by family. A nice treat! Today I made meatballs in the crockpot for dinner. I am very pleased with the recipe which I have used several times in the past. Again, they turned out well. So nice to spend the day with family and know that dinner is cooking away in the crockpot. We invited my parents over for dinner. We all enjoyed a nice treat, plus I have some leftovers for the week! A win-win! 

~ Happy Camper

Monday, May 4, 2015

Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 3

It's Monday morning. I find myself content and rested after traveling and arriving at our destination. We visited with a lot of family over the weekend. Now a new week is starting and I need to get us on track a bit - starting with a food shopping trip! I'm not sure our RV fridge is big enough for a week's worth of groceries. Today will be about getting some staples and supplies for meals.

I have brought a trusted friend with me on our 3 1/2 month journey - my crockpot! I've envisioned myself making crockpot meals, spending the day out then returning home for a hot meal! I do this at home, however this is the first time I've committed to trying it in the RV. I will be searching out and trying some new crockpot recipes. If you have any, please share them!

~ Happy Camper

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 2

Life seems so much simpler in the camper! Why is that? There is less stuff and I really can't accumulate much more, unless it is to replace a current item. We have less here in the camper than we do at home, however we have almost everything we need here. What we don't have, we can go out and use (such as a washer and dryer).

There are fewer choices to be made in the camper. With this being a longer trip, we had to pack for two seasons - spring and summer. I brought more clothes than I ever have on this trip. That's it though, I have x amount of clothes and those are my only choices.

I find it quite cozy in the camper. We spend a lot of time connecting with one another. We also spend a lot of time outside, which we all enjoy.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Our RV Journey - Summer Trip - Day 1

We are campers and travelers - I guess you'd say a part time family on the road. The past few years we have stayed at a campground near our extended family and enjoyed spending time with the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Each year over the past 3 years we have increased the length of our trip. In 2013, we stayed for a month, which was a leap of faith then for us. It was a success! The following year in 2014, we stayed for 6 weeks. Another success. This year, we are staying for 3 1/2 months  - another leap. We arrived at our destination this morning safely. We unpacked and settled in pretty quickly.

I continue to streamline our possessions at home. Prior to this trip was the longest I've had to prepare the house. I went through a lot of our belongings and purged! How does a family accumulate so much? We donated a lot, sold some and a lot of papers made it into the trash! I recycle, bless others with our gently used stuff and re-purpose as much as I can. It was a big clean out and I'll have a more simple and tidy home to return to, for that I am grateful.

I'm always looking for creative ways to maximize our space. I'm concerned I've overpacked, even though I've been mindful of this issue. My hope is to post about our journey.

~ Happy Camper