Home Buying, Goals, & Contentment

What?!  This blog is suppose to be about a crazy family of 6 living in a remodeled RV. Homebuying??

Well since we moved to Florida 2 months ago, there have been all sorts of changes.Continue Reading

What We Are Left With

As we prep for our move to Florida, I’m coming to terms with our life. That may sound like I’m miserable or have regrets. I assure, that is so far from the truth.

The reality is, we have sold almost all that we own. If it doesn’t fit into the van or the Winnie, we will no longer own it in 2 weeks.

It’s a crazy realization that you can contain all your belongings into an RV and minivan.

The past week has been huge for us in terms of getting rid of things. We sold our 5th Wheel, (thank you LORD!) and our 2nd vehicle.

sold-camper

We really don’t have much left, just a few things in the storage unit that we’ll either be selling or donating. Basically, if it doesn’t fit in the van or the Winnie, we’re not taking it with us.

You know, it’s funny. Part of me is sad to realize we have so little. But another part of me feels like we are free. (not that stuff determines whether you are free or not)

We all want nice stuff right?  I’m mean for the most part, we want to have a nice home, nice clothes, nice furniture, nice belongings.

But I refuse to think either my or anyone’s value is found in possessions.  At the end of the day, I hope we possess worth within ourselves rather than in our possessions. So as I finish selling some things on Craigslist, I strive to stay in the place where I know it is all okay. Those things are JUST things.

We’ve donated far more than I thought we would have to, (time dictated that we needed to start donating since certain items were not selling). I’ll be honest and say, that was hard. I had to let go of the value I saw in the item and view our donations as blessings for others.

This whole process has caused me to stop and think about what I value and where my heart is. I’m grateful for less stuff. I don’t really miss anything that I’ve gotten rid of and I have all that’s important.

What we are physically left with? All that is important. Family.

I don’t think this life is for everyone. I know many people have priorities right and don’t get caught up in stuff. I’m just grateful to be learning the lesson of simplicity. It’s taken me living in the camper and I’m so grateful for it.

Julie-Signature

Why I Gave Up Coffee

Red Rooibos Chai Tea

Oh no she din’t.

Yes, I did.

My Love of Coffee

Let me start off by saying that I truly LOVE coffee.  I love it so much I continued to drink it throughout my pregnancies because I didn’t want to have to deal with withdrawals.  That and I wanted my babies to be able to handle me drinking coffee while nursing.  (I know, I know you crunchy mamas, don’t chastise me!)

Needless to say, there is some weird psychological pull with me and coffee.

I wrote about my perfect morning, here where I described how it included a big cup of coffee with creamer.  Coffee was a necessity.

My Pestering Friend

Up until about a month ago, I hadn’t even considered giving up my java.

In fact, when a friend mentioned that maybe I should fast, I adamantly opposed that foolish suggestion.  (okay NOT foolish AT ALL…just illustrates where my heart was)

What a ridiculous idea though.  Psch!  I’d have to stop drinking coffee! I would have headaches! No way was I going to go through that on purpose.  How would I function?? Her suggestion was ludicrous.

Because she is a stubborn kill-joy, she managed to convince me to at LEAST get off coffee and then figure out the fasting thing.

Coffee Detox

I removed the coffee pot from the camper and dumped my creamer down the drain.  For 3 days I had a horrible headache.  I was tired and actually fell asleep sitting up on the couch several times.  I felt like a regular old lady.

I didn’t know how long I’d be coffee free, the longest I’ve been without coffee for the past 15+ years was 10 long days.

My Coffee Came Back to Bite Me!

After one week of no coffee, I asked Mark to pick up one while in town. I had decided to enjoy a random cup of coffee but not drink it every day or throughout the day.

I savored that cup of coffee. It was delectable!

But then it hit me. The caffeine assaulted my bloodstream. I do not think I can properly explain how awful I felt. I was jittery and my mind was just a mess. I had a bunch of things to get done but was spinning around in circles.

Yeah right!  You’re exaggerating – you say.

I’m telling you that I couldn’t even think straight.  My mind was racing through all that was before me. I had a list of things to do but for a few hours, I was extremely inefficient and not even accomplishing much of anything besides being a scatterbrained whackjob.

I’ve been pretty loyal to coffee for many years and have never noticed the effects of it like I did this time.  Freaky.

It’ll Hook You!

Coffee has a strange pull with many people.  I was discussing my coffee issues with several friends and they agreed – there is something weird about coffee.

Fellowship happens around a cup of coffee – sure.

But it’s more than that.

For most people, it’s addictive. That pestering friend I have, the one that urged me to get off of coffee, doesn’t drink it because she is certain she would be addicted to it.

But I think it’s EVEN more than that.

I think it’s the fact that it’s a stimulant, appetite suppressant, and mood enhancing beverage – all in one. Or am I just crazy?? Out there, someone is far smarter than I am and can explain it I’m sure.

New Coffee Habits

So I decided that every once in a while, I will have a cup of coffee.  I figure this will serve several purposes.  #1 – I’ll get to enjoy a random cup of delicious coffee.  #2 – I can enjoy the fellowship that comes with drinking my delicious cup of coffee with friends.  #3 – I’ll get to remember how terrible it really does make me feel,  Then I’ll be renewed in my resolve to not get hooked again.

How to Get Off the Bean

Since it was less than 30 days that I was arguing against ditching coffee, I’ll just say that these are my suggestions should you decide to give it a try.  No pressure from me. I’m totally NOT the pestering kill-joy kind of person (but those type of people are great to have in your life).

  1. Get rid of your coffee pot (or put it in a very inconvenient location)
  2. Find a good caffeine-free tea that satisfies, (I love Red Rooibos Chai from Saavy Tea and Herbs).  I also like Dandy Blend and Teeccino.
  3. Realize that your body will adjust to not *needing* that caffeine jolt to be coherent.  I actually think I have more energy now that I’m not drinking coffee and relying on it.

I know there are health benefits to drinking coffee in moderation. But for me, it’s too easy to drink 3 or 4 cups of coffee every day rather than limit myself.

So I’m obviously VERY human in this area of my life, but just to show you WHY coffee is not a good idea for me…

This past Saturday night, I had one cup of coffee over at a friend’s house.  The next morning, Mark got coffee from town and brought me one.   Wouldn’t you know, I had a headache Monday.  Old habits are hard to break so it’ll be interesting as I figure out the balance in this area.

Do you have any suggestions of a good non-addictive replacement?  I’d love to hear them!

Your Caffeine Detoxified Friend,

Julie-Signature

 

 

Hazard in the RV Kitchen

I thought this picture was amusing and worth sharing to show the little mishap we had recently.

So the Forest River designers are pretty tricky.  They put this spice rack thingy magigy on the back side of the stove to give you the illusion of having another storage space.

“Oh, that would be a nice place to put oils or seasonings.”

Ha!  The joke was on me!!  And since I had no clue what actually happens back there, I’m claiming ignorance.

You see, it is NOT the place to store anything that is flammable, pressurized, or can melt.  Trust me.

These little vents are to allow the intense heat from the oven to disperse.  You learn something new every day I suppose.  

All my oils and corked liquids were moved away from that area after a corked bottle of balsamic glaze uncorked unexpectedly.

So what do you think they expected people to store back there?  Silverware?

Our 2 Month Anniversary in the Camper!

I can hardly believe we’ve been in the camper for 2 months!

Really.

It seems like we’ve always lived in here and that is not necessary a bad thing.

I’ve tried real hard to always be honest about our experience and NOT sugar-coat anything that we’ve been dealing with.  We’ve had our share of challenges and blessings. I’ve received calls from concerned family members, multiple times.  But we are doing very well!  For reals.

The close quarters have forced us to deal with things and pushed us outside of our comfort zone.  We have worked through the frustrations of being so close all the time.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when it’s still annoying, but those times are getting to be fewer and fewer.

2 months in here and these are my thoughts on camper living.

The Challenges

Sickness.  We’ve been fighting sickness since right before we moved in the camper. Someone mentioned that maybe we were suffering the effects of all the formaldehyde associated with a new camper.  That is highly possible and we’re researching ways to purify the air in the camper.  I’m thinking that that issue is causing us all to have weakened immune systems.  We’ve all caught nearly every bug that has gone around the local area and have slowly passed it among the 6 of us.

Cooped Up Kids.  The kids have been more cooped up, especially on cold days.  Mark and I have had to (and still are trying to) adjust to the noise level and their need to be a little rowdy in the camper.  We’re working on it and I’m grateful we have each other to remind the other when one of us gets uptight.

Privacy Issues.  A friend, who use to live in a toy hauler, mentioned something similar to me very recently.  Basically, if someone stands outside, near the camper, they can hear our entire conversation.  Seriously.  We really don’t have privacy.   The campground we live at has pretty well cleared out for the winter.  Still our lives are on display and that pretty much leaves no room for hypocrisy.  Which really is a good thing, just an adjustment that we’re still working on.

Cooped up Mom.  We are a 1 vehicle family, so when Mark is at work I’m here. all day. with the kids.  I’m grateful for my friend, Alicia.  She is my sounding board and a great listener and support to have so near to us.  I’ve always been the sort of mom that thought I didn’t need to get time to myself.  That I could just buck up and do what needed to be done.  I’m finding that that is not the case.  We’ve recently had to set aside time for me to get away by myself every week.  I may not always need that time, but for now this is what we’re finding is necessary, especially given our living situation.

No Baths.  As funny as it sounds I miss having a bathtub.  That is probably the only thing that really bothers me about the way the camper was designed.  The kids are adjusted to taking showers, but I still miss a bath.  I think once the pool re-opens this summer I’ll be a walking prune from being in there all day.

The Blessings.

Child Training.  The way we are raising our kids is something we are more purposeful about since the issues are so near to us.  We can’t just send them to their room or ignore the issues.  We HAVE to deal with it and very little escapes our eyes throughout the day.

Minimal Stuff.  We have less stuff and less desire to buy more stuff.  We are very careful about any purchase we make and find that there is so little we actually need.

Time.  More time is spent together as a family and free time to pursue other interests or priorities.

Sleep.  We are sleeping great and that says something especially consider how things were at the start of our adventure!

Puppy Potty Training.  Potty training Pepper has gone so well, I couldn’t be more pleased with our little pup! I’m almost inspired to try training my almost 3 year old again. (Yes I have an almost 3 year old that is still in diapers.)

So there you have it.

** These are my thoughts on camper living, (and remember we aren’t traveling yet)  But we are doing great ya’ll!!

No need to call and make sure we are not losing our minds.

We’re normal people.  We are not perfect and sometimes situations are difficult.  But we have joy!  And that’s what really matters.

Beauty at O’ Dark 30 in the Black Hills

I am fortunate to have early risers.

I sorta say this tongue in cheek but overall, I’m grateful that I don’t have to wake them. Ever.

This morning, I got to hang with Zander at 5. I’d love to say that no part of me was disappointed to see him so dark and early. BUT we got time to nurse, play, and see Mark before he was off to work.

If I had it my way, my morning would look like this.

Get up.

Shower.

Cup of coffee (with lots of creamer).

Time in The Word.

Followed by my smiling children filing out of their rooms simultaneously. Dressed, beds made and and not asking for food.right.away.

Pffft. Excuse me while I spit my coffee out. This is so not reality or even realistic in my opinion.   had to let go of *my* dream years ago.

However, there are very specific positives to being woken early and not having things go as planned.

Aside from my lovely children and other wonderful things, this…

and the deer very close to our camper.

Pepper’s cuteness…

and the hilarity of when he freaks over the deer…

There are actually way more positives to early risers, but this morning was an especially gorgeous one in the Black Hills.

 

Grandma’s Pumpkin Bread ~ Oven or Crockpot

Nothing says fall like Grandma’s Pumpkin Bread!

Grandma's Pumpkin Bread ~ From Scratch

But before I get to that I have to tell you, I almost lost it a few days ago.

My fellow RVing friend, Alicia, told me that baking in the RV oven was challenging and boy was she RIGHT!

After attempting a coffee cake (that was crispy on the bottom and gooey in the middle, I had my moment of temporary insanity.  I had followed all the advice I could find online about RV ovens (which I’ll cover in another post) – still my cake was yuck-o!

RV ovens are tricky.

Hello Pinterest!  Oh how I love thee!

Grandma’s Pumpkin Bread – Crockpot Style

Who knew such a thing was possible, so I gave it a shot with some of that pumpkin I dealt with the other day.

I did a little controlled experiment and made a few adjustments to my RV oven setup.  My goal was to show the impossibility of baking in RV ovens and the success of the crockpot.  But my adjustments to the oven worked!!  Ha!  So if you’re struggling with your oven, head over here for my tips.

Crockpot Pumpkin Bread

They both tasted great but the crockpot version was a little more moist and flatter on top.  My family was still cool with it.

I found instructions for crockpot bread, here and used my all-time favorite Grandma’s Pumpkin Bread recipe.

One thing I do like about the crockpot one, it’s not so time sensitive.  Meaning, I can leave it and go do laundry without worrying about it burning. I’m not the greatest about setting the timer anyway so I like the flexibility the crockpot offers.

So we have a win-win here folks!

Now you have to try my pumpkin bread recipe… it is super-delicious!!

Grandma’s Pumpkin Bread Recipe

  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 2/3 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. butter (melted)
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 c. pumpkin (cooked & mashed, or canned)
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Oven Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. Pour pumpkin bread batter into your greased loaf pan(s).
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour for a standard loaf or 20 to 25 minutes for 3 mini loaves.

Crockpot Directions

  1. Pour a couple of cups of water into the bottom of your crockpot, you don’t want the water in the crockpot to go into the bread pan once you place it in there.
  2. Pour your pumpkin bread batter into your greased loaf pan(s).
  3. Place the filled pan(s) into the crockpot.
  4. Lay several paper towels inside the crockpot, so they just rest on the top, and cover towels with crockpot lid to hold them in place.  This is done to collect the condensation that will inevitable form from the water sitting at the bottom of your crockpot.
  5. Bake for 2 to 3 hours, check bread’s doneness with a toothpick or knife.