A Barn Spike & A Blowout!

I’m tired of tires!

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Charlie is sick of the hassle too! 

After we left our second BLM camping oasis in the middle of Wyoming, we had a camper tire blow out in Nebraska… We didn’t feel a thing! Continue reading

For Amanda

This post doesn’t have anything to do with the topics that I normally write about. It doesn’t have anything to do with RVing, camping, cooking, anything DIY related, or Charlie, even though I’m sure we can all agree that she’s really cute!

This post is for my cousin Amanda. 12615618_1739715262928337_5988246104381499999_o Continue reading

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner in an RV

This will be my first year making Thanksgiving dinner in a camper!  Last year we got a few days to go home to see family. We were in Oklahoma City at Abe’s RV Park, so it wasn’t too far to Cincinnati… The year before Allen was in India working and I was staying at my mom’s house.

I’ve made Easter dinner (I attempted to cook a very large ham in my slow cooker…All I’ll say about that is: At least we had fun!… And I burnt my finger really bad! And, yes, I made those bunny ears and forced Allen to put them on. That’s it. That’s all I’m saying.)Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 5.53.12 PM.png

I’ve also made St. Patrick’s Day dinner, Shepard’s pie to be precise…

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We made fast friends with the neighbors and didn’t eat until REALLY late! This was at Poche Plantation in Convent, Louisiana… 

And I cook dinner almost every day in our RV. So I’m no rookie in the kitchen. But Thanksgiving is always more challenging no matter how much space you have! To top things off, I’m not THE best at time management. For example, I make a lot of Rachael Ray’s recipes, her 30-minute meals, and they typically take me around 90 minutes!!! No lie, ask Allen, usually he’s starving by the time dinner is ready.  I can’t help it, I’m just slow… But perfection takes time. Right??

Anyhow, in a camper, space is limited, as is counter space, and cooking space.

Luckily for me, I have the advantage of a new fifth wheel with far more space than the travel trailer we had prior to this. My stove has 3 burners whereas the average stove in a “normal” home has 4. My oven is small. And this one is slightly larger than the oven in our travel trailer was. My saving grace (I think) will be the convection microwave. I absolutely love the thing! I mostly use the conventional oven for storage now because the convection microwave just cooks so much better. Our fridge is huge compared to the one we had in the travel trailer also, so that helps a ton!

I was willing to cook for all the guys on the crew, provided they had some opinions or ideas on what they wanted and where we could all eat. Three of them are staying in the motel a block away and one is next door in the campground. But they are men, and nobody would speak up and say what they wanted to do. So it’s just me and Allen (and Charlie), which makes everything a little easier for me!

We went shopping today and got everything we needed. (I also got a new coat because my old one stopped zipping and we can’t have a non-zipping coat in “Little Canada”!

I measured my convection microwave from top to bottom and decided I could fit 7″ of turkey in there without shoving and squishing! So I was armed with my tape measure… But then we spotted a roasting oven for $25. Boom. Sold! Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 6.01.42 PM.png

Now (hopefully) I will have a super delicious, juicy, flavorful turkey and have room for other stuff in the convection oven and maybe, just maybe, fingers crossed, I can get by without using the “real oven”, because that thing just stresses me out! Always has.

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Thanksgiving is for food and football… And family… And friends… But definitely not for stress! 

So my TENTATIVE plan is to have a turkey in the roasting oven (unstuffed because I don’t want to risk that… ); a small ham, green bean casserole, and stuffing in the convection oven; then gravy, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce (for me only-Allen’s not a fan) on the stove, with deviled eggs (strictly for me also) and cheesecake in the fridge and freezer, respectively. And let’s not forget the mimosas in the morning…Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 6.23.32 PM.png

Followed by Wild Turkey later in the day!

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Image: Donald M. Jones  

Not that kind of wild turkey…

This kind!Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 6.28.09 PM.png

Yum! It’s kind of a tradition of mine that I started when I was in college in San Francisco with no mom to cook for me and no cooking abilities of my own!

I currently have the 15lb turkey Allen insisted we get in a bucket of cold water in the garage where it stays pretty cold (like, we’ve been keeping our beer back there cold, it has one vent and we are using it as a mudroom cold, Charlie shivers upon entering cold… So I think it’ll be okay until Thursday).

I want to make the green bean casserole tomorrow and toss it in the fridge so it’ll just need warming. I don’t want to do the stuffing ahead of time because I love the smell of the trio of onions, celery and garlic all simmering on Thanksgiving morning, so I’ll wait to do that. Then I’ll just have mashed potatoes and gravy and cranberry sauce  to make (super easy-just cranberries, some water, sugar, lemon juice and salt and pepper makes it delicious!)

I’m pretty excited!  I think my planning (albeit tentative) is going to help things go smoothly… Wish me luck!  On the plus side, Allen’s pretty used to waiting for hours to eat, so it should be fine! Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 6.03.02 PM.png

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!

Image Transfer DIY

Yesterday when I got lost in the endless Pinterest maze, I was actually looking for a way to transfer an image onto fabric. Since I made my pillow covers, I’ve been thinking they looked a little plain. I found a solution (I think!)

I still want to add to this but, now I know how to do it! It’s super easy! You need:

  1. A printer
  2. Wax paper
  3. Scissors
  4. Fabric

That’s it!

Remember everything will transfer in reverse. Good thing this was a test on scrap fabric!

Word… And my Sutro coffee cup…

I chose my image and put it into Word. Then I cut a piece of wax paper to around 8.5″X11″. I had to finagle it a little to get it into the printer. I wound up sticking it between two sheets of regular paper then pulling the top piece out. Hit PRINT. Then put the ink side down onto your fabric and rub, make sure it doesn’t move or it will smear. And don’t touch the image on the wax paper because the ink is wet. Voilà!

 

I need to figure out what else I’m going to put on this pillow cover because the chair turned out pretty small in comparison.

 The chair is a drawing I did when we finally had to get rid of the original. It was around 13years old and it finally gave out in Oklahoma City. We definitely got a lot of use out of it!

I just hung up these two guys this past weekend. The top one was a DIY I made for Allen’s birthday present. We picked up some Command damage-free picture hanging strips.  They are kind of like Velcro but they snap together.  I love all the Command products!

  
With a camper, space is limited so the more you things you can hang and keep out of the way, the better… But you can’t really put nails in the wall, and the studs are never where you need them to be. I still wanted to hang some things to make it more “ours”… They are holding so far! Here are some more Command products currently in use:

On the backsplash behind the stove

On the bathroom wall

In the half bath AKA broom closet!

Back to Reality

So I arrived in San Francisco Saturday evening.  Allen picked me up from the airport and we went to get some food and a couple beers at Red Robin. Then we went home to CHARLIE! She was SO excited to see me! (She even peed a little…)  Gosh, I missed her like crazy!  I woke up pretty early this morning, I’m still on Eastern Time really… So I showered and got dressed and made some coffee then I took Charlie for a walk.  I made a grocery list and printed some coupons… Charlie and Allen are both sleeping. In bed. Still. Lazy bums…

IMG_1350The campground (Candlestick RV Park) is SO crowded compared to last time we were here… All the little patches of grass are now just dried, dead, brown patches of dirt.  All the flowers that were so pretty are now just thorny sticks with a couple blooms here and there.  IMG_1351Candlestick Stadium is gone so the view is completely different. We have an end spot this time, so we look out at trees instead of the side of another camper, which is nice.  It almost tricks you into forgetting you are in a black top parking lot.  Almost.  Not really.

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Marcus, Allen’s coworker, moves in today right behind us.  I think we should go buy some of those swimming noodles and put them on the bumper, because we will probably be touching.  It’s that tight out here.  I’m not exaggerating.IMG_1352

I Didn’t Leave my Heart in San Francisco…

I Didn’t Leave My Heart in San Francisco…
But that’s where it is now.
I’m at the airport, waiting on my flight to take me home, to Allen and Charlie. I have my brother’s ashes with me. Specifically on he seat next to me.  It’ll be his first time flying. We, I, have a short layover in Chicago then I’ll get out there at around 5pm local time.  

 I have a few very good friends at home (mine and Allen’s hometown/my mom’s) and I’m so grateful for them. I’m going to miss my mom like crazy, but we will be ok. I had the pleasure of getting to know her psychotic cat, Jack, over the last three weeks and I’m going to miss that little jerk too. She’s crazy. I’m glad my mom has her.  
   
Allen says I need to get back in my routine because he can’t live on pizza rolls much longer! So that’s what I’m going to try to do… I just made a grocery list, in fact. I have a DIY post that I need to write, and also a couple of campground reviews from Allen, his stops on his way from Dallas to San Francisco. Also, I’m sure Charlie has grown at least a pound, so I’ll have to take some pictures of her! Now I just wish these next 8 hours would go really fast!

Getting to Say a Long Good-Bye

In my last post I talked about losing my brother Adam. Thanks to a lot of very generous, kind people, we’ve raised a lot of money on GoFundMe to help pay for the funeral expenses.
His funeral was Thursday evening. I thought it was beautiful. We didn’t have a reverend or pastor or preacher. (We didn’t want anyone to look at Adam negatively and judge him, especially the fact that he was gay)  Instead my Aunt read a poem from my mom and then we invited anyone up who wanted to share a story or memory about Adam. I think a lot of his friends got up and said something. It’s all still mostly a blur.

 We had pictures of Adam playing the whole time on a slide show and then when everyone was finished speaking, we played some of his favorite songs. He would’ve loved it. Missy Elliott “Work It” was the first one to come on!

Adam playing dress up through the years

We had been planning to bury his ashes next to his dad in a cemetery close to my mom’s house. But the other night my mom and I walked over to see where we would put the marker. We were both thinking, but not saying, that we weren’t sure if this idea fit Adam.

We eventually said, almost simultaneously (we do that a lot even when we don’t see each other for months) that his ashes should be spread, not buried. Adam has always wanted to travel and never really got the chance. The last conversation we had, he told me that Charlie was the luckiest dog ever because she got to go everywhere and see everything.

So I’m going to bring him with me. It’ll be his first time on a plane and the first place I’m taking him is San Francisco. I think he would love this. I’ve started compiling a wish list of places I’d like to scatter some of his ashes. But, as with the rest of my life, I know all of this has to stay a tentative plan. We will just have to see where the wind blows us.

I just read an article that gave me some really useful tips. I’m glad I found it. Thanks to the author.

On another note, Allen and Charlie made it to Candlestick RV Park in San Francisco safely on Friday afternoon. Our super nice neighbor Carmen watched Charlie while her husband Doug helped Allen squeeze into our spot.  

Photos from Carmen to me during the action

Allen said we arent moving the camper until we leave for good. No NHRA at Sonoma this year. 😦


He took notes and pictures for me, well, for the blog. So when I get out there, I’ll post about their super slow trip from Dallas to San Francisco. (He couldn’t check into the campground until Friday so he was doing less than 500miles/day)  Allen also wrote some Google reviews of the campgrounds they stayed in on the way out. I’m so proud of him! My mom joked that he’s going to become known as the angry blogger. I love it.