How to Fix the Tension on an RV Window Shade

I just love easy and today’s little tip is super duper easy.

Many RVs have a pleated window shade similar to this…

How to fix the tension on an RV Window Shade

These privacy shades are great but the tension can become too loose and stripped.  So today I’m going to share how to fix the tension on an RV window shade.

  1. First take out the screw that is holding the plastic cord retainer.
    Cord Retainer Tension Spool
  2. Next, you’ll want to take a toothpick or a bamboo skewer and glob some wood glue on the end.
    How to Fix RV Window Tension
  3. Insert the glued end into the hole where the stripped out screw was drilled.
    RV Window Shade Repair
  4. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Break off the end of the toothpick or skewer that is sticking out of the wall so that the end is flush with the wall.
    Fixing a Stripped out Hole
  6. Wrap the cord around the plastic cord retainer until it is the correct tension to stop the blind from slipping down but still loose enough to easily raise or lower the blind.
  7. Drill the screw back into the hole that is now filled with the skewer or toothpick.
    RV Window Tension Repair

Easy right?  This will save you frustration with trying to keep your blinds up and you don’t have to drill a new hole in your wall.

Challenges of RVing with Kids

“How hard is it really to do the RV-thing with a family?”

Challenges of RVing with Kids

I get this question (and all sorts of variations) several times a month from blog readers and friends.

Many times, when we decide to take a path that is different than the norm, we ignore the negatives.  We rarely discuss the hard parts or challenges.  We’re pumped and we become our own cheerleader.

Now let me say right off the bat, I’m GLAD we moved our family of 6 into the RV.  We learned so much about ourselves and were stretched.  We got to enjoy the perks of living with less.

But today I’m going to share the challenges of RVing with a family.  Many times, experience is the best teacher, but hopefully this will help some count the costs of full time RV living before they take the leap and move their children into an RV.

Challenges of RVing with Kids

  1. Limited Space.  No kidding right!?  This is obvious but it’s something to consider.  As a full-time RVer you’ll be in a constant state of purging belongings.  You’ll have to get creative with gifts (if gifts are your thing) and you’ll have to deal with not having space to retreat to when you (or your kids) need some quiet.  Which leads me to…
  2. Homeschooling Woes.  Every family has their own set of challenges as far as homeschooling goes.  For us, it was the 2 littlest kids, (1 and 3 years old) and occupying their time.  There is no solice during school time and it seemed for our family, the smaller quarters made for more frustration and distraction for learning.  Also, I had to limit our school books and learning kits.
  3. No Kitchen Helpers.  Before we moved in the RV my 2 oldest kids were my kitchen helpers.  Once we were full-time in the RV, I had so much less space and more often than not, I refused their help.  Honestly, it was difficult to cook by myself much less with little helpers that were not so skilled in the kitchen.  I know some full time parents do have their kids work in the kitchen.  The mess/clutter aspect is something I wish I would have gotten over.  But I didn’t.  *sigh*
  4. Nap Times are NOT so Peaceful.  We have been blessed with light sleepers. <that may be slightly sarcastic> Every noise and movement of the camper affected the sleep of my kids, but nap times were especially trying for us.  Any jumping at all during those times resulted rocking.  If your kids sleep like logs, you may not have this concern one bit.  I found myself getting onto my kid’s, (mostly my oldest son’s) case about jumping around.  So my solution would be to send him outside during naps.  But there was a problem with that idea….
  5. Nosey Neighbors.  Just in case you didn’t know, some campgrounds are not so friendly.  The last campground we were at had a rule that any kids under 16 had to be supervised at all times.  Don’t misunderstand me, I wouldn’t send my kids to the pool by themselves.  But when my kids were playing beside our camper, in an empty site, the neighbor came out and told them they couldn’t play, (even though I could see them the whole time).  That’s annoying.
  6. Less Chores.  Less space, less room for error, less work for the under 12 crowd.

Can you do it?  You betcha you can!  Those are just some of the things we hadn’t really thought through before we moved our family into the RV.

Hopefully this post gives you a view into some of the not so glamorous parts of RVing and children and helps you not just see the lifestyle through rose-colored glasses.

 

Travel Trailer, Motorhome, or 5th Wheel ~ Which is Best for Families

When we set out on our full-time RV, we explored all the options for what would be best for our family of 6.  Each particular RV type has pros and cons.

Today I’m sharing what I see as important factors when deciding which of these 3 types of RVs suit a family.

RV Types Best for Families

Travel Trailers

Pros –

  • Economical
  • Lighter-Weight

Cons –

  • Ceilings are Lower
  • Not Well Insulated
  • Smaller Master Bedrooms
  • Minimal Storage

We considered getting a Travel Trailer which is also called a bumper-pull.  The fact that they are less expensive was a draw for us but we decided the loss in space was not worth it.  Looking back, I think we would have been just fine with a travel trailer had we not wintered up North.  (You can order them more insulated but that will drive your cost up.)

Motorhome

Pros –

  • All-in-One Ease of Moving
  • Generator is Usually Included for Boondocking
  • Decent Storage
  • More Seating

Cons –

  • Mechanical Breakdown – Out of Your Home
  • Rarely Come With Bunks
  • More Expensive

When we decided to buy an older RV and undertake a camper remodel, we went with a motorhome.  We love our Winnebago Adventurer and it suits us well.  Since we are a family of 6, we had to get creative with our sleeping arrangements.  I wrote all about our renovations and converting the master bedroom into a bunk room.

5th Wheel

We actually bought a 5th Wheel

Pros –

  • Higher Ceilings
  • Larger Master Bedrooms
  • Much More Storage Throughout

Cons –

  • Winter Energy Costs High
  • More Expensive
  • Less Seating

We actually bought a 5th Wheel and we loved it.  There were so many positives to our 5th Wheel.  In the end, the cost is why we decided to sell it and remodel our motorhome.

So that’s our run-down on RV types.  Hopefully our insight helps you decide what is right for you and your family.

 

7 Tips for Using a Laundromat

Using a communal laundromat has some obvious challenges.  After a year and a half of dealing with the laundry monster via a laundromat, I’ve come away with some tricks up my sleeve.

Tips for Using the Laundromat

Today I’m sharing 7 tips for using a laundromat.

  1. Use a Timer. At times I’ve left laundry in the machines too long after the cycle was done. A timer (or phone reminder) is the perfect solution. That or a sticky note on your machine in case someone is waiting on your machine.
  2. Clean the Machine. This may seem like overkill and it can be, but if a washer is noticeably grimy on top or inside the rim, I wipe it down with a dirty towel that has been soaped up. Towel goes in the wash and my clean clothes don’t get dirtied up when I take them out of the washer.
  3. Avoid Bleach Machines. This is not pleasant but after having a load of darks ruined by a machine, I recommend it. To determine if the last load had bleach in the dispenser, simply smell. Avoid that machine or run your whites through it instead of your darks.
  4. Fight Mold and Mildew. We do our best to let towels dry out between laundry days. At times I just can’t seem to stop the mildew smell from infecting our towels though. Adding 1/2 teaspoon of tea tree oil to the washer when towels are included helps to keep the mildew at bay.
  5. Use a Detergent Pod. I switched over to the pods because I got tired of lugging my big detergent jug to the laundromat. I love them. Now I recognize these pods are more expensive, but I’m no longer using too much detergent and the convenience is pretty sweet.
  6. Use or Make Color Catchers. To keep colors from bleeding on other clothing, I highly recommend Color Catchers. These are also handy when we have 1 1/2 loads of darks and only 1/2 load of whites, (we mix if necessary – I know – that’s a no-no!) You can buy Color Catchers or check out One Good Thing By Jillee and her instructions on how to make them yourself.
  7. Keep Clothes Dry in the Rain. Unfortunately, laundry day doesn’t always fall on sunshiny days. For those days, bagging folded laundry in a garbage bag makes sense.

So those are my tips to tackling the laundromat. Any you care to add?

RV Toilet Paper Alternative – How to Save Money

Today’s post is getting into the nitty gritty of RVing.

Toilet paper.

Special RV toilet paper is quite pricey, so we set out to find an RV toilet paper alternative.

I’m sharing with you a quick and easy test you can do to find out which regular store-bought toilet paper will work for your RV.  This test also works to determine if toilet paper is septic safe.

Toilet Paper Test Save Money on RV or Septic Safe

For the test, I used Member’s Mark 2-ply toilet paper (this is available at Sam’s Club) and Scott Super Soft 1-ply, (I buy ours from Amazon and have NOT seen it in a regular store).

I did a comparative test just to show the difference.

Here is what you need to do.

Toilet Paper Test

  1. Tear away a decent amount of toilet paper, I used 10 squares for each sample.
  2. Place toilet paper inside a quart-sized baggie. Test for Septic RV Safe Toilet Paper
  3. Add 2 cups of water, seal baggie.
  4. Let sit for a couple minutes. In my picture you can see that the Scott toilet paper already breaking up, the Member’s Mark did not.Scott Extra Soft Toilet Paper Qualitymembers mark toilet paper and septic safe test
  5. Shake baggies slightly.
  6. Check for clumping.  Alternative for Septic Safe and RV Toilet Paper Test

If the toilet paper clumps at all, it is not good for a septic system or RV tank.  Can you get away with it for a couple years?  Maybe.  But in the realm of toilet matters, I prefer to play it safe.

As a general rule, 2 ply toilet paper is just not good for either a septic system or an RV toilet.

For months we used the regular Scott single-ply that was rough and felt like tissue paper, it was not comfortable at all.  Then I found Scott Extra Soft Bath Tissue Rolls, 36 Count and it is just a nice as 2 ply. (affiliate link there)

What a difference!!  Hopefully this helps you figure out an RV toilet paper alternative.

The Big Detour

detour-signToday’s post has been difficult for me to formulate.  I’ve pondered this one for over a month now and haven’t figured out exactly how to share this bit of news so I’ll just throw it out there….

We are buying a house and moving out of the RV.

<deep breaths>

Since our RVing lifestyle is a major theme for my little space on the Internet, it’s been a challenge for me to figure out what this move means for the direction of this blog.

3 months ago, if you’d have asked me if we were going to continue RVing I would have said yes.  But circumstances have changed that’s why our family is taking a different route.

Our Reasons

1.  The Move to San Antonio.  The opportunities for Mark in San Antonio are permanent and traveling is not an option.  With what is on the horizon, he would go to work and actually love it!  The opportunity was too great to pass up.

2.  RVing is NOT Desirable in San Antonio.  Our current campground is expensive, (site fee, laundry, & electricity – summer).  Add to that, the fact that it is far from Mark’s work,  living in our RV has become more of a hassle than something we enjoy.  Summer heat will hit in a few months – argh.

4.  We are Debt-Free.  Yes!  This one is huge and it has given us the freedom to move back into a home without a camper payment.

3.  We Miss the Comforts of a Home.  The novelty of living in an RV wore off and there is no reason for us to continue at this point.  That’s blunt but it is honest. We could stay in the RV for the sake of having an RVing blog and bragging rights that we stuck it out.  That is just downright silly though.  Missing the comforts of home isn’t a major reason, but it is an element so it made the list.

Busyness of Life

On our Facebook page, I mentioned that I’m very busy.

Busy…

  • Looking at real estate, which is very hot in San Antonio now.  In fact, 2 houses we put offers on, got away. (we have an offer out on the 3rd house now)
  • Working out at Helotes CrossFit.
  • Finding our Homeschooling routine again after so much transition and business.
  • Embracing motherhood again.  I had neglected my kids, the cooking, and the cleaning because I was so busy.  I rarely made treats for my kids.  I never took them to the park or library.  I’m finding my way back to who I am as an at-home mom.
  • Building new relationships and connecting with old friends.  This is a HUGE priority for us, and that takes time.

The New Lighter Life’s Future?

This little space in cyber-world will be going through transition.  I have several posts to put up about RVing.  I’ll continue to share about this topic as long as I have material that will offer a benefit to you, my faithful readers.

I’d equate this our move back to a traditional home to a detour.  I’m excited for our journey.  The destination is still the same – Abundant Living Through Simple Means.  The path we take to get there is different than what we originally had planned.

I’ll end today’s post with a request…

If you have any RV related questions, please shoot me an email or comment on what you’d like me to post about.

Looking forward to what 2014 brings!

 

Small Kitchen Tools and Equipment

Living in a camper and prepping meals for a family of 6, has been an adventure.  If you’re faced with a small kitchen space, this post will help you not only survive, but thrive in a ridiculously small kitchen.

Today I’m sharing my favorite small kitchen tools and equipment to make that tiny kitchen more workable.

Small Kitchen Tools and Equipment Must Haves

Ikea Butcher Block

I use this multiple times each and every day. If you’re an RVer, your sink likely came with an cutting board insert. Ours came with an insert but it wasn’t a cutting board, so we bought this from IKEA for $10. That’s right $10!

I place this over half the sink and it more than doubles my counter space.

IKEA Butcher Block

Magnetic Knife Strip

Ditch the knife block and save your counter space. As a Fulltime RVer, I have NEVER had a knife fall when we’ve been driving. These nifty strips are strong, convenient and a space-saver.

magnetic-knife-strip

Baskets

Keeping your smaller items contained in baskets is a perfect solution to reduce your cabinet clutter. I’m lucky enough have really narrow and deep cabinets, (note sarcasm).   These baskets not only contain smaller items but allow me slide my pantry goods OUT making them accessible.

Pull Out Kitchen Baskets

Multipurpose Appliances.

I love a good yogurt maker and stand mixer as much as the next person.  However, if your space is limited there are many appliances you can ditch, (and you won’t even feel deprived). Think outside the box and get creative with how you prep your food.

The appliances I currently have:

coffee grinder
coffee maker
crockpot
immersion blender
bread maker
skillet
waffle iron
blendtec blender
toaster

Of my list of appliances the 3 that I’d classify as frivolous and specialty appliances are the waffle iron, bread maker, and toaster. Let’s address those space-wasters and why I’m keeping them.

I love my waffle iron and would like to be buried with it, or cremated…I’m not sure but I don’t want to part with it. Someday I’ll make cookies with it, or hash browns, or waffle bread. Then it will all be worth while and I can tout about how it’s multipurpose.

My bread maker has one foot out the door. I stopped buying bread for the kids and started making my sprouted whole wheat bread again.  I don’t want to fuss with my RV oven so I have the bread maker. It’s history once we replace our microwave with a convection oven/microwave combo. I promise – it’s almost gone.

My toaster is so not necessary, but we can fit it in the cabinet.  We don’t use it often and if we were even more pressed for space, we’d ditch it.

Appliances should pass some sort of test, (my test looks something like this)…

  1. You can fit it comfortably in your small kitchen.
  2. Multipurpose / Multifunction.
  3. Very useful.

My FAVORITE multipurpose appliance is my immersion blender.  I use that baby to blend up black beans for Black Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies, make whipped cream, Tangy Italian Salad Dressing, or my Low Carb High Protein Pancakes (and more odd jobs).

Final thought on this – I highly recommend keeping the appliances you use.

You need to decide which appliances are worth the space they take up in your small kitchen.

Lazy Susans

Lazy Susan for Small Kitchen

These are perfect for smaller cabinets to make sauces and condiments more accessible. Instead of stocking a cabinet full and having a jumbled mess, lazy susans keep everything at hand’s reach with a simple spin.

Collapsible or Nesting

Space is prime real estate and this only makes sense.  Salad spinners, collanders, bowls, measuring cups, even funnels.  There are many collapsible items available.

Collapsible Colander for Small Kitchen

Drying Mat

This little puppy cost all of $4 and it saves space in comparison to a regular metal or plastic drying rack.

If you’re in a tiny kitchen, your standard drying rack gobbles up sink, counter, or cabinet space.  A drying mat serves our purposes well.

Drying Mat - Space Saving for Small Kitchens

 

Cabinet Hooks

My last recommended tool is a simple one, cabinet hooks.

Space Saving Cabinet Hooks

These are so convenient and slip right over the edge of a standard cabinet door. We use ours for hanging our drying rack in the kitchen to dry, (and to hang my purse, and towels in the closets/bathroom).

 

So that is my list of  Small Kitchen Tools & Equipment Must Haves.  If you have any you’d like to recommend, I’d love to hear it!