Goodwill Score!

I managed to convince Allen that we needed to go to Goodwill today. Ever since I got my sewing machine, I feel like he’s been ripping his jeans on purpose! He found 3 pairs of work jeans and I found 3 tops. Goodwill out here is rather pricey, but I did find one amazing deal!  

A brand new top/vest with the expensive tags still on it!   

   
I love getting good deals! 

Now I’m making some Garden Herb Bread for Allen to make sandwiches for lunch this week… Yum… 

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A Little Camper Fixing

It’s kind of nice that Allen has been getting Saturdays off work. That doesn’t happen too often. But it gives us a chance to do more things… So this Saturday we fixed the ladder on the camper and lowered the top bunk in the garage to give us me more storage space. Continue reading

Yesterday was a Sad Day… 

Yesterday my mom laid the plaque for my brother’s tree. I wish I could’ve been there.

  
We ordered it from International Bronze when I first got out here to San Francisco. It took almost 2 months. Joe, the designer I spoke with, was really nice and helpful and I recommend them to anyone looking for a plaque.

It’s in Mt. Healthy Park in my hometown. Adam always loved the park and especially the pool. We spent many, many days there when we were younger. They used to have a putt-putt golf course that cost 15 cents, or you could pick up 5 pieces of trash and play for free -that was what we always did! Adam passed his test to swim in the deep end with ease, me, not so much. But one day when the pool was crowded he pretended like he hadn’t taken his test yet, there were a bunch of kids that were going to take theirs at once. (You just had to swim back and forth across the 10-foot part.) But when we all started swimming, Adam helped me and it was too crowded that the lifeguards didn’t see. So from then on I was allowed to jump off the diving board. And that’s all I did was jump, towards the side, holding my nose. No diving for me! Then I would doggy paddle to the ladder and get back out. Thank you Adam. I love you.

So yesterday was pretty sad.

To top it off, it was National Dog Day. (I’ll explain why this was sad…) I made Charlie a new doggy bed. I was Pinteresting, yet again, and found an idea for an envelope dog bed, or a snuggly dog bed, or like a sleeping bag dog bed. I knew I had to make it for her because she is constantly wanting under the covers.

I woke up 5 minutes before Allen’s alarm went off this morning to Charlie whining in my face. I lifted up the blanket so she could crawl under. Still, whining. I laid my hand on her. No more whining. What a baby! 🙂

So I made this bed and I’m pretty sure it instantly became her favorite. (She has 3 – One that came with her from her old family, one I made last week and now this one… Allen says Charlie’s camper footprint is getting too large.)

  

So when we went to bed, I put it in the closet in the bedroom, for some reason she likes it in there, and both sides of the bed now have other dog beds. So she went in the closet and that’s where she slept, all by herself, almost all night. Without me. I had to sleep alone. Well, not alone, I mean Allen was there, but he’s not the same as my puppy. (Sorry honey, I love you!) So after Allen fell asleep, which he always tends to do a lot faster than me, I was awake and sad because Charlie wasn’t next to me and thinking about my brother, and I think I was awake half the night. Not being able to fall asleep is the worst.

 But, today is a new day, and I get to try out my new Bug-A-Salt rifle! Unfortunately it is not a semi-automatic… I have to pump it and turn the safety off every time. But hopefully I get rid of all these flies that hang around in my front dirt yard!  Good ole San Francisco


By the way, I made Beef Stew for dinner last night if you want the recipe… Yum!

And here are the instructions for the doggy bed on SuzySitcom. One thing I did realize, then I had to redo it, is the instructions say to put the pocket piece and the larger piece right side together. But this is wrong, you need to put the pocket piece and the larger piece both right side facing down… You’ll see!

The City By The Bay

While Allen enjoys his view “from the office“…  

Panoramic view from atop Sutro Tower

  

Allen on top of Sutro

  

a zoomed in view

 
Charlie and I work on our tan back at the campground…  

Charlie getting in the way of my reading

  

This was a better spot but it didnt last long

  

Just keeping an eye on things

 
Here are some other jobs Allen’s worked on since I started this blog:

Homemade Pizza

Ever since we got the new camper with a convection microwave, I’ve been wanting to make homemade pizza. 

My first attempt at cauliflower pizza did not turn out so well. The directions said to steam and drain the cauliflower, getting rid of the excess moisture, before grating it and maxing it with cheese and egg and shaping it like a pizza crust. I skipped the steaming and draining part so the “crust” never got crispy enough to hold together. I still want to try it again…  

 
  
After that didn’t work, and I got the Breadmaker, I decided to make actual pizza dough. This time it came out super delicious! I think the only thing I will do differently next time is bake the crust on its own with no toppings for ten minutes or so beforehand, so it gets a little more done without the cheese and toppings getting too brown.  

  

pepperoni, jalapenos, bell peppers and onions

  
And by the way, Allen took his very first blog photos for this post! 😉 Good job babe! 

Here is the recipe I used for the dough:

1.5 pounds: 1/2tsp salt, 3cups all-purpose flour, 1-1/2tsp active dry yeast, 1cup water, 2tbs EVOO, and I added about a tbs of Italian seasoning 

  1. Measure all ingredients into bread pan. 
  2. Select the dough cycle on the breadmaker. 
  3. Pat dough into a 12″ round pizza pan. 
  4. Preheat oven to 400• (I did the convection oven to 375• because you always go 25• lower than the recipe calls for. 
  5. Spread sauce and toppings over dough. 
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes. (I went 30 because the convection oven seems to take longer.)

***As I mentioned before, next time I will bake the crust on its own for about 10minutes THEN add the toppings. OR I could bake it in the regular oven. Since camper ovens are so small, they tend to burn the bottom of everything, since that’s where the heat comes from. We usually try to avoid using it altogether.  But that might be perfect for pizza!

On another note about the camper oven: we discovered in the old camper, before we had a convection oven in our lives, that if you cover the oven rack with aluminum foil, it helps to distribute the heat a little more evenly, but it also takes longer for things to cook. 

Leaks are the WORST!

Especially in campers. But, you pay a price for living the RV lifestyle… 

Our old camper (2010 Forest River Wildwood) ALWAYS leaked under the bathroom sink where the water first came in. Every time the weather would change, the hoses would shrink and we’d have another puddle. We decided not to get another Forest River. 

We went with Grand Design because we thought it was the highest quality product on the market. Well, it still has the same crappy water hoses with poorly designed hose clamps. 

We noticed a puddle under the camper and started to investigate. Once we got into the big cubby, we found a puddle. We took two walls out that were blocking the water hoses and hot water heater and found the drippy source.  

    
 The hot water hose was leaking. The hose clamps they had on there couldn’t be removed or tightened so we had to cut it off the fitting.  

    
 Then we went to Lowe’s and got some better hose clamps. We thought we had some but we must’ve used them all on the old camper.  

 Allen let me fix it all by myself! It wasn’t hard, just obnoxious… Hopefully it’s fixed for good!  

 I’m glad we caught it when we did, otherwise everything in the cubby would’ve been soaked! 

 

A Few Random Friday Thoughts… 

My neighbor Carmen recently got us (and by that I mean me, because really, Allen will never touch the thing…) a bread machine! I love it! I’ve been wanting to get one since we were in Florida this last time. Our neighbors Lyne and Terry had one and it smelled so good. They bring down their own flour every year from Canada because they don’t like the way American bread tastes. Anyway, I’ve been comparing models, and Carmen said she really wanted to get us something for sort of a housewarming gift, so, I’m the proud new owner of an Oster 2LB. Expressbake Breadmaker.

my very first loaf… i was excited and couldnt wait to try it.

I started with the traditional white bread in a 1.5LB loaf and it came out delicious. Then I moved on to the flavors… I’ve mostly used the recipes that came with the breadmaker but I’ve also ventured into Google territory for some yummy ideas.

I made a super scrumptious cheddar/garlic/herb type loaf that we ate one day then the next day sliced and drizzled with EVOO and stuck on the grill for a few minutes – SO good! We had the bread with a bacon-wrapped pork loin…yum!

Cheesy, garlicky, herby goodness… Please excuse the bites off the top, i couldnt help myself…

I tried Honey Wheat because that’s the kind of bread we like on a daily basis, but the recipe was a 2LB loaf, which is just too big for sandwiches. And I had not mastered the art of slicing by then. The next day we took off for Tahoe so it was moldy by the time we got back.

 The latest was a 1LB Italian garlic and herb loaf which came out perfect! It’s the perfect size for sandwiches. (Allen’s taken two to work already.) And I let it cool longer this time before slicing. I also didn’t use my fancy bread knife and bamboo bread slicer that I bought.

 I just used a non-serrated knife I got from the Dollar Tree a LONG time ago, and it worked great… Surprising, but true… So we have decided that the 1LB loaves are the way to go… My goal is to never buy grocery store bread again.

On another note, I felt my very first earthquake ever!!! I went to school (this super expensive one) out here in San Francisco for 4yrs and never felt one (I think I was on a barstool for most of them…) and then last year we were out here for about 5 months and I didn’t feel one then either. This one was crazy! I was laying in bed with Charlie, probably blogging or Pinteresting, and it felt like someone hit the camper. It actually felt like Allen backed up and hitched up to the camper, but I knew he was at work. So I thought A) someone was trying to steal our house with me and the dog inside! or B) one of these tourists driving a rental RV must’ve clipped our nose… Charlie and I both ran outside but nobody was out. All was quiet. I texted Allen and he then informed me it was an earthquake, that they felt it by the tower too. Yikes! But it was a smaller one, nobody was hurt, so that was good.

Begin Rant:

I’ve also been on the phone trying to order parts for the camper from Grand Design. We have a 2015 Grand Design Momentum 385TH. We just bought it at the end of March. It’s still brand new.  You’d think it would be fairly easy to get simple parts for it. Almost two weeks after sending the first “inquiry form” to Grand Design, we finally have parts on the way! (I honestly thought they would have excellent customer service being that they are still a new and fairly small company…)

While I was back at my mom’s house for my brother’s funeral and Allen and Charlie drove from Texas to San Francisco alone, a yellow pole at a tiny gas station jumped up and grabbed onto the ladder on the side of the camper, yanked it a little and busted the red light that’s back there.  So we need a light, and the bottom brackets that hold the ladder onto the camper.

We wound up having to get the part numbers from Grand Design then call a dealer to order them because Grand Design is not set up to sell directly to actual people.  I find this silly.  Luckily, Shelly at Lazydays RV in Florida was super nice and helped us out.  I probably should’ve called Palm Beach RV since that’s where we bought the camper, but oh well.

Anyway, while I was on the phone with Amanda at Grand Design I had her switch me over to Jerry in warranty (yes, I’m on a first name basis with these people). I spoke with Jerry multiple times when we were in Louisiana trying to take care of the radio/tv situation. Grand Design had the bright idea to put some Furrion products, and some Haier products in here. (To save money I presume..)  But they don’t communicate well with one another.  The radio in the living room is also a DVD player and that wasn’t working so Jerry sent us a new HDMI cord.  It worked then, but in hindsight I don’t think the cord was the issue.  We still have the same problem with having sound and no picture when we play a DVD but now we just unplug the TV then plug it back in.  It’s the cheap Haier TV.  In the garage (toy hauler) there is a car stereo that also plays DVDs.  But it constantly sounds like it is skipping around a CD in there or trying to spit one out.  Jerry also sent us a new radio that we swapped out.  That worked for a while.  I noticed Monday that it started making noise again.  So he is supposedly sending us ANOTHER radio to swap out and says if we have more issues we will have to take it in to have it looked at.  I’m trying to avoid that because we live in here full time and I’d rather not live at a dealership for days. Also, the closest Grand Design dealer is in Sacramento. And Allen will not be commuting to from Sacramento to San Francisco to work! Anyway, last time, Jerry took forever to send anything out, I mean he said he sent it then a week later I called to see where it was and he still hadn’t sent it. So fingers crossed he actually put it in the mail yesterday!

End Rant. 

Before we left for Tahoe, Allen’s buddy was flying home for the weekend and gave us a 10LB bag of potatoes. (He lives alone. Why he would buy a 10LB bag of potatoes eludes me. I’ll have to talk to him about that.) Anyhow, I’ve been looking at this bag all week. Then I decided that instead of letting them go bad, maybe I could freeze them. So I Googled… Then I made some frozen hashbrowns (you just dice them, drop them in boiling water for about 2min, drain and cool them, bag them and freeze them) and some frozen fries (same as above but you also fry them in oil for about 3min after blanching and drying, then cool, bag and freeze). Easy peasy. I still have over 5LBs of potatoes left but at least I got rid of some of them!

skinny fries

potato wedges (I sprinkled them with season salt when I took them out of the oil.

Last night I made 3-ways for dinner. Technically, 4-ways.  If you don’t know what that is, it’s because it’s a Cincinnati thing… We are weird like that. It doesn’t matter where we move to, where our domicile is, Allen will always love 3-ways and goetta. (I on the other hand despise goetta… The taste, texture, cooking it, yuck!)

Every time we go back to Cincy we have to pick up a couple packs of chili mix…

I like 5-ways. Allen likes 4-ways. Everyone likes a good 3-way. 😉

The night before last, I came up with a new concoction that was pretty tasty… Rum and Kool-Aid! My brother loved Kool-Aid so I named this “Ode to Adam”

I promise, Charlie didn’t drink with us!

Oh! And I almost forgot, I started growing my own green onions a couple weeks back. It is super easy. You just stick them in a glass of water after you use most of the green parts, change the water every couple days, and they grow on their own. Love it. This is my second round. After a while they get weaker and can’t stand up on their own, so you do have to start fresh after a couple of uses.

Thursday

IMG_1877

Monday

They grow fast!
And just for fun, here are a couple shots of Charlie hanging out with her buddy Samantha in the old parking lot that is our “yard” here at Candlestick RV Park

  

Stateline, NV/South Lake Tahoe, CA trip!

I’ve never seen views like we saw here. It was literally breathtaking! I’ve never been to a mountain town before and I was impressed. Everywhere you look you just see amazing natural beauty.  
We checked into Harvey’s Casino Resort on Friday afternoon and then hit the casino. We played some video poker and took a free craps lesson. There was a camera crew making a commercial at the video poker bar and then also at the craps lesson so I guess we will be in two commercials we will probably never see!

The craps teacher

The hotel was right on the corner, at the line between California and Nevada. So we technically lived in Nevada for two nights.

After that we headed outside to daylight (very shocking to our casino adjusted eyeballs!). We got some drinks and food at Mc P’s Taphouse Grill. Then walked around a bit to check out the area.   image1-3
We went to a comedy show after dinner. It was pretty good. I’ve seen funnier. It’s the second comedy show we’ve been to together. The first was somewhere in Florida a couple of years ago.

After the show we stopped at this sports bar in the casino. The bartender was from Cincinnati (like us!) so we chatted with him for a bit and had some beers and late night pizza. He suggested we go to Emerald Bay to scatter some of my brother’s ashes. It turned out to be a great tip!

the bartender’s map for us

an actual map

 

Saturday morning we had breakfast at Artemis Lakefront Cafe (crappy, slow service but delicious food-especially Allen’s biscuits and gravy!).  image1-2

 Then we headed over to check out Emerald Bay. It was about a 25 minute drive from the hotel but traffic wasn’t too terrible. Once you get close to the bay, the road gets super steep and winding and I get super nervous and nauseous.

 We finally found a place to pull over and get out. Completely breathtaking! We scattered my brother’s ashes, most of which blew back on us -oops- and took some pictures then headed back down.

  
We hit the pool for some recovery drinks and suntanning then got dressed and went looking for dinner.

Here we are looking all fancy

We checked Friday’s Station on he top floor of Harrah’s (across the street from us). The least expensive steak on the menu was a 6oz filet for $70! What?!?! So then we walked back over to our hotel and checked the menu at the top floor restaurant of Harvey’s, 19 Kitchen and Bar. Same thing, just a wider selection.

We checked a couple other places but weren’t impressed so we headed to Stateline Brewery up the street. It’s a brewery, in a basement, and the average entree is around $25 so it’s more our style for sure! Allen tried the Acclimator IPA which was pretty delish! We ordered the artichoke dip. It was a big loaf of Sourdough bread with half the loaf hollowed out and filled with dip, then the top was brushed with super yummy garlic butter. Yum! So the artichoke dip was the entirety of our dinner! We had a couple more beers and called it a night.

image2-2

Looking up the mountain, at the ski lift… No way could I have handled that! Allen said it’s about 9000ft elevation at the top… Yikes!

This morning we had a couple of breakfast burritos from a cafe up the street, spent our last $20 in chips, cashed in our tickets and checked out.

The obligatory huge chair vacation photo

On the way home I saw my first California grass fire (there was one in the campground in Oklahoma City but this was a lot bigger).

 Overall, our Tahoe trip was really fun, and the best part was sharing the experience with my love. Now I’m just happy to be back home with Charlie! We missed her! And, a special thank you to Carmen for puppy-sitting!

Taking Off for the Weekend!

Tahoe here we come!!!

San Francisco always seems to take its toll on Allen and the guys (and me, for sure).  

 This time around is especially difficult because even though the weather is nicer than it’s ever been while we were here, work is almost at a stand still. There’s some kind of lead paint issue that another company was called in to deal with, which in turn is holding up work on our end. Add this to the already existent fact that the city seems to drag its feet on everything Sutro-related.   

borrowed from Wikipedia

 Not staying really busy makes for long days (and short pay checks). No good for anyone. So I guess they all came to some sort of decision at work that they would take a long weekend. Just for reference, this is pretty much unheard of. When they are busy, they work ten hour days, six and sometimes seven days a week. So that’s what they are used to. So am I for the most part, but I love “weather days” (rain, snow, wind, etc. that make working on a 1,500ft broadcast tower too dangerous).  

“hanging out”…

  

Allen’s view looking down!

  

Taking a break up top

 Anyhow, one guy flew home for a high school reunion and another booked a cruise to Mexico. We were looking at Santa Cruz first, then heard that it’s not as cool as Monterey. So I went motel shopping. Nope. Nothing. Nada. Zip. No rooms available, and the rates for even a Super 8 or a Days Inn were $400/night!!! Yikes! (By the way, we were looking last night, wanting to leave today, that’s just how our last minute lives are lived.) 

getting the heck out of the city

  

the old Bay Bridge

 
So then we almost gave up. But then we looked at Tahoe. We found a room in a casino resort in South Lake Tahoe for less than Monterey, AND we are staying two nights! It’s going to be like a mini-vacay! We haven’t stayed in a motel in way over a decade, let alone a fancy “resort” (ever)! I’m super excited. 

Charlie is going to stay with our neighbors and her buddy Samantha so she will have fun too.  

Charlie and Samantha relaxing

  

They thought i had food

  

Charlie and Samantha’s mom

 I’m also going to bring a little of my brother’s ashes with me. He’s never been to Nevada, so it’ll be a first for both of us. 

Off we go!

Considering a Domicile Change!

I’ve been doing a lot of research on changing our domicile for a few months now. When we were in Slidell, Louisiana we received a bill in the mail from the City tax department. They were charging us a fine for not paying taxes quarterly, even though we pay in full every year. In Ohio, we pay state income tax as well as local income tax. The local city tax also went from 1.5% last year to 2% this year. Plus, that annoying fine they just started adding 4 times a year.

The bill for the fine was the last push I needed to really start looking into our options. The taxes are one thing, even though we don’t actually, physically “live” there, but the fine is another thing all together and the fine alone is over $300/yr. No thanks!

Everything I found online from other blogs and websites (Technomadia, RV-Dreams, Escapees, My Dakota Address, Wheeling It, etc.) was pointing me toward Florida, Texas, or South Dakota.  These states have no state or local income tax.

I spoke with someone at Loring & Associates, PLLC, recommended by Escapees, about all things domicile so I had a good jumping off point. I knew I had to find a mail forwarding service to use as a “home base”. And I had to check vehicle insurance rates. And consider how much it would cost to register our vehicles. A 2015 Grand Design Momentum Toy Hauler, a 2011 Chevy Silverado 3500HD, and a 2006 Suzuki Katana 600. I also needed to consider how often you need to physically be in that state for drivers license renewals and vehicle registrations or inspections. We don’t have ties to Ohio other than family. No property, no house, no doctors or church affiliations, so there’s no real reason we should keep our domicile there if it isn’t beneficial to us. In the far off future we either want to settle down on a ranch and adopt a bunch of animals or get a little shack on the beach or own an RV Park… None of which would include Ohio. And definitely would not include our little town that is ripping us off tax-wise.

FLORIDA was my first choice.

  • I love the beach.
  • Warm weather.
  • Sunshine.
  • The beach.

But when I called Progressive – sike, they wouldn’t talk to me because Allen and I aren’t married, even though I’m on the policy also and he’s given them permission to tell me anything and everything numerous times… When I got a quote online instead, the insurance rates in Florida were absurdly high! I’m talking over double what we are paying now for the camper, truck and motorcycle. So, my dreams of becoming a Floridian, at least for now, are nonexistent.
When looking and comparing Texas and South Dakota, it was kind of a toss up.

TEXAS

  • Allen’s company is based out of Texas and we go to the shop usually at least once a year.
  • The truck is already registered in Texas because that’s where we bought it.
  • I like Texas. And BBQ.
  • But in Texas you have to physically take your vehicle in for a safety inspection once a year. The exception is if you are not in the state of Texas. But as soon as you get back you need to take them. I really would rather not drag this huge camper to a tiny state inspection place every year when we get back into Texas.

SOUTH DAKOTA

  • They have a really low sales tax, not that we will be making another big purchase super soon, but good to think about for when we do get the Smart Car.
  • They make it really easy to register vehicles, you don’t have to physically bring them into the state even.
  • You do have to stay one night to prove YOU are physically present in the state in order to obtain residency status and get your drivers license.
  • We’ve never been to South Dakota. So it might be interesting.

So with all things considered, it really came down to insurance rates. I got quotes from 6 different agencies over the last week. Yes, I spent many hours on the phone. Not super fun. But, I did get a feel for just how much rates vary from one company and agency to the next.

*** I should note that even though some of these companies say they specialize in full time RV insurance, some of the agents I spoke with seemed floored that we actually LIVE in our camper… What???

Also I learned that South Dakota and Texas used to be really cheap states for insurance rates but then full time RVers started using these states for a home base so all the claims were coming back to those two. Overall, across the board, South Dakota is the least expensive of the two. It’s still more than what we are currently paying. But, and I realized this when I started researching, we don’t have the right coverage now.

We are with Progressive for everything. When we traded in the old camper for this one, we just called and switched the coverage over. They asked all the same questions and we answered honestly. They asked where the camper would be at least 6 months out of the year and we said nowhere. We told them we live in it and travel all the time. They made us give an address anyway. So, we do not have the full timers package. I’m sure once that is added, it would bring our current rate up.

So with all said and done, we would definitely save money switching to South Dakota and it’s fairly easy to do.

  1. We need to secure our mailing address with My Dakota Address.
  2. Stay the night in South Dakota.
  3. Get our drivers licenses.
  4. Register our vehicles.
  5. Switch our vehicle insurance.
  6. Change our address with Allen’s work and health insurance.

We just need to time it right. You need to do everything within 90days. Our lives are hard to time. We are in San Francisco now, so we could just take the northern route when we leave here, depending on when and where we are going next. If we stay until winter and there’s snow in South Dakota then that’s not happening. If that’s the case, we could possibly just fly out there for a couple of days over Christmas break to take care of everything. But if we leave in a month and the weather is still nice, we could stop by and take care of everything.  We never make plans, we make tentative plans, loosely. So the loose, tentative plan now is to become South Dakotans!