Tag Archives: Full Time RV Lifestyle

Favorite Recipes: MB’s Award Winning Chili

0211.jpgThis recipe is award-winning. Seriously. It won the Faith Presbyterian Church Chili Cook-Off some years ago, which granted me eternal bragging rights (as far as I’m concerned). I always cook up as large a batch as I can manage, and freeze most of it in meal-size portions for later. It’s been a family favorite for years, so here it is – documented for posterity!

MB’s Award-Winning Chili

 

Ingredients

2 pounds ground beef
1 large mild onion, diced
2 large green bell peppers, diced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 12-ounce can tomato paste
2 cups water
1 15.5-ounce can beans (any type)
3 Tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper
grated cheddar cheese (for topping)

Instructions

Brown ground beef, drain and add to large soup pot. Sauté onion and green
pepper until just tender, add to pot. Add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes,
tomato paste, beans, and water. Stir to mix thoroughly. Add seasonings and
stir. Add water, if needed to desired consistency. Bring to boil, then 
reduce to a simmer. Simmer for at least one hour, longer if possible. 
Stir frequently to avoid scorching the bottom (Chili will thin a bit 
during cooking, as the tomatoes cook down.) Taste and add additional 
chili seasoning if desired. 
Serve topped with grated cheddar cheese.

You can vary this recipe by adding additional or fewer cans of diced tomatoes. You can use “chili ready” tomatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes and/or tomatoes seasoned with peppers. You can use any style beans; chili-style, navy, white, black or kidney. You can add another can of beans to stretch the recipe. You can add more or less seasoning, or add hot sauce for extra heat. You don’t have to use the chipotle pepper seasoning, but I think it adds a nice hint of smokiness. To stretch the meal, serve over cooked pasta.

This recipe also works great in a crock pot. Make sure you brown and drain the meat, but you can add the peppers/onions raw. Cook 4 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low. You can’t really over-simmer this recipe.

Bon appetit!

 

When the Frost is on the Punkin’

031I grew up in central Indiana where there were four distinct seasons. Although we loved to hate cold and gloomy winter, the Fall season that preceded it could be glorious. There is something about the brightly-changing leaves against crisp, clear blue skies that is especially invigorating. My birthday is in September, so maybe that had something to do with it too!

Then I moved to South Florida, the land of eternal summer. We knew it was Fall when a cold front FINALLY dipped the night time lows below 70 degrees! We never experienced a season of dramatic temperature and color change. I never missed winter all that much, but I did, sort of, miss Fall.

And now, our journey is taking us through the Fall season! We saw leaves beginning to show hints of color back in Yellowstone, and as we have progressed south and east, we are seeing more and more trees sport their lovely Fall attire. The mountains around Durango Colorado were lit up with bright yellow clumps of aspens. Santa Fe offered a few beautiful trees that slowly changed color during our stay. But now, here at our current spot near Bentonville Arkansas, the surrounding hills are brightening with glorious red, orange, maroon and yellows. For the first time in many years, I can shuffle through fallen leaves and marvel at God’s painting ability. There’s a cold nip in the air, pumpkins in the patch, and a corn maze just down the road.

The season reminds me of a poem I learned in my youth by Indiana poet James Whitcomb Riley:

When the Frost is On the Punkin

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and the gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’; of the guineys and the cluckin’ of the hens
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O it’s then the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock

They’s somethin kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here –
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock –
When the frost is on the punkin and fodder’s in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries – kindo’ lonesome-like, but still
A preachin’ sermons to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below – the clover overhead! –
O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage, too!
I don’t know how to tell it – but if sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me –
I’d want to ‘commodate ’em – all the whole-indurin’ flock –
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

 

I lift a glass of fresh apple cider to toast the magnificence of Fall.

Full Time RV Living – 5 Things We Didn’t Expect in our First Year

1_f6aGa-44g1FzUEXPNpcriwReflecting back on our first year of full time RV living, much of it has gone as planned, but there are a few things that we didn’t expect!

 

  1. Vehicle repair costs. We started our adventure with brand new almost-everything: new motorhome, new truck, new motorcycle. In our budgeting process, we didn’t include repair costs, figuring problems SHOULD get fixed under warranty.  But, routine maintenance comes up sooner when you’re on the move and that adds up: motorhome chassis oil change/lube (every 6 months), Onan generator service, truck oil changes, motorcycle service and new motorcycle tires. When our rear AC unit went out, we paid for a wasted service call in Las Vegas, because we didn’t understand how the warranty repair process worked. Even when the AC replacement was done under warranty, it didn’t cover all of the service call costs. The most recent incident was discovering our severe alignment problem which necessitated the emergency replacement of our steer tires and has significantly shortened the life of the tag axle tires. We have requested to be reimbursed under warranty, but all of the players are pointing the finger at each other: Spartan chassis, Goodyear tires, Entegra, and the dealership that sold us the rig. I am not optimistic. Paying for all of the routine maintenance and non-routine repairs has added up to thousands of dollars. We can afford it, but didn’t expect it to be quite so much.
  2. High camping costs.  We read a lot of full-timer blogs while researching this lifestyle and figured our nightly camping fees would average about $30-40. We’re finding it actually costs us significantly more ($45-50 average) for several reasons. First, our large size simply cannot be accommodated by all campgrounds, especially the older, and less expensive, ones. Our weight is also a factor, as we have found that our heavy bus will sink in soft gravel or dirt. So we look for RV parks with lots of maneuvering room and solid pads, which tend to be the newer and more expensive parks. Additionally, we are often staying at desirable locations in peak season –  at peak season rates. And, we LIKE the highly-rated RV parks with paved level pads, 50 amp electrical service, nice restrooms and the occasional hot tub. At the end of the day, we will usually choose a really nice, cushy RV park in a prime location over a less expensive park  – because we like it better. It’s a conscious decision that may end up costing more, but we feel it’s worth it for the comfort and convenience. We could do it cheaper if we needed to, but for now it’s the cost of our particular travel style.
  3. The weather is never “average”. As we planned our first-year route, we blithely said that we would “follow 70 degrees”. We meticulously researched the normal weather patterns and monthly averages at each planned stop, with the intent of maximizing our time in the nicest possible weather. Well – it hasn’t always worked out that way! Charleston was freezing. We weathered an ice storm in Northern Florida and another while staying outside New Orleans. We were in Spokane when it hit 104 degrees. Hurricane and Moab UT had highs in the mid-90s in late September. And in Santa Fe, we encountered mid-October snow. None of these reflected “average” weather patterns for those areas. You just have to be prepared for anything.
  4. Missing familiar surroundings. I lived in South Florida for almost 33 years, 30 years in the same Pembroke Pines neighborhood! I had such deep ties after working, living, raising 2 children, worshiping and volunteering for so long in the area. So many memories and relationships. I significantly underestimated the difficulty of emotionally detaching from such a long-term life of stability in order to launch into this nomadic existence. Now, our life is constantly changing as we move from place to place – nothing is familiar except what we carry with us. It has been a process of adjustment, more so for me than for Jeff, I think. It’s getting better over time, for a couple of reasons. One is that time and distance lessons the pain of leaving all that was familiar and stable. Being a nomad IS the new normal. Also, I find that staying in a nice place for an extended period of time (a few weeks or more) allows me to put down mini-roots. I can shop in the same grocery store more than once, become familiar with the area, and feel like its home, just for a little while. I like that.
  5. This US is full of wondrous places. As we travel, we keep finding new and exciting places to go and things to see. There is just so much to do in this enormously varied country of ours. The National Parks are glorious, but so also are the large and small towns, each with its history, culture, cuisine, and activities. We’ve been at this a year and have only begun to scratch the surface of everything that is out there. It could take a lifetime to see it all.

That sounds just grand. Looking forward to it!

 

 

 

Motorhome vs. Traditional home: 5 key differences

What’s it like to live fulltime in a motorhome? I know I was intensely curious about that topic while we researched transitioning to this lifestyle. I’m still a relative newbie at this, but below are a few key differences that I’ve noted between living in a regular house and living in this compact, rolling home.

1. You have to be strategic and selective in what you take with you.  The first, and biggest, adjustment is the need to pare down everything you own to fit into this smaller space. I found that I can take quite a variety of things with us, just in smaller quantity. For example, I can’t take every kitchen appliance I used to have, so I purchased an Instant Pot which is multi-function. I have clothing for every kind of weather, but less of everything. I still have crafting supplies, Christmas decorations, dishes, clothes, games, linens, office supplies, camping gear, tools, and so on, just not as much of each.  I even have our guitar and my violin. You make room for the things you REALLY want to keep, and fill in the gaps with the other necessities and luxuries. The process forces you to decide what is really important to you, and what isn’t. In a traditional house, I often kept things just because I could.

2. Everything is just a bit smaller and clutter can accumulate quickly.  Everything in the bus is scaled down just a bit; the shower, the couch, the dinette area, etc. (The bed is still king size, though!) Because you have less overall space, items can stack up and overflow corners and on counters very quickly. You can’t just shut the door on the dirty dishes in the sink and go into the living room to watch TV because it’s all one living space. The old saying “a place for everything and everything in its place” applies here. I find that it works best to put items away immediately after use and clean as you go. The good thing about a small space is there is less to clean, so it takes less time! I must confess, I was a more lax housekeeper in my 4 bedroom house. Of course, I also had a maid service then ….

3. You can cook just about everything – but not all at once. My lovely kitchen is equipped with a two-burner induction cooktop and a standard size convection microwave oven. Induction cooking is awesome; quick and efficient. But the power is split between the two burners, so I can’t set both on “high” at the same time. And since my oven is both my microwave and conventional “heat” oven, I’m limited as to the quantity and cooking method that I can utilize at any one time. The oven will fit a half size cookie sheet, but not a regular one. I can manage to fit my lasagna pan, but not a large pizza. Counter space is also limited, so I can’t spread out as much during food preparation.  If I intended to throw a large dinner party with many dishes or bake 12 dozen cookies, I would have to plan and make adjustments. But, for two people and ordinary meals the facility is more than adequate. And most campground parties are potluck anyway! If all else fails, there’s always take-out.

4. You have to manage holding tanks.  One of the realities of RV living is dealing with holding tanks for fresh water and waste. If you are “off the grid”, then the amount of water in your fresh water tank is all you’ve got! Being self-contained means that all of your waste water flows into waste holding tanks, and when they are full it’s got nowhere else to go but to “back up” into your home! If you are on fresh water hookup, then water supply is provided by a hose so the supply is limitless, but water pressure is not. You have plenty of water pressure to wash dishes OR take a shower OR run the washing machine, but not all at once. Having a sewer hookup sounds easy – just run a hose to the drain and you can just flush everything all the time, right? Well, not exactly. The problem with leaving the drain constantly open is that liquids drain and solids tend to be left behind to accumulate, forming what is affectionately known as a crap pyramid.  Accumulated solids can plug the line, foul tank level sensors and generally wreak havoc. The way around that is to keep the drain line closed, wait until a waste tank is reasonably full, then dump it all at once. That approach is not difficult, but requires that you regularly check tank levels and plan your tank dumps accordingly. You want to stay on top of it and not have to do an “emergency” tank dump in the dark or in adverse weather. Checking the tank levels has become an automatic part of my day.  When not in water conservation mode, we usually need to dump the gray tank (wash water) about every other day, and the black tank (potty water) about twice a week. No big deal. Oh, and you have to use a toilet paper that is “septic safe” so it breaks down in the tank. No more cushy 2 ply, it’s the thin TP from now on.

5. Remember where you parked!  Being on the move means that you are always figuring out where everything is, such as grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations. When living in a regular house for 20 years, I could put  my drive home on auto pilot. Not so when a different week brings a different parking spot! Thank goodness for GPS.

So there you have it. After I’ve lived in the motorhome longer, I’m sure I’ll develop another list!

Also – don’t miss a post, become a follower! Click on the “follow” button in the lower right hand corner of your browser window, enter your email address, and you’ll receive future posts by email. They will also continue to be posted on Facebook.

Now We’re Official!

You know you have truly arrived at a new position when you get business cards with your new title. It turns out that RV-ers have business cards too! It is a handy tool to provide contact information and blog address. It’s certainly better than painstakingly spelling out our blog URL to someone who is writing it down on the back of a napkin! (Yes, that has happened)

I spent an hour or two on the (clunky) Office Depot “Same Day” print web site, plunked down a credit card, and – voila! Business cards!

43685174.jpg

We are now officially Professional RV-ers!

I’m also “outing” myself as a Reiki Master and Certified Angel Card Reader for those who may not know. It’s out there now – can’t take it back!