Simplicity – Small & Cheap

Living simply & cheaply…wherever you are!

Don’t stray from a God-breeze…

Don’t stray from a god-breeze.     We were getting the original camper ready for the journey at my dad’s house the Monday before Christmas.    He had me hold off since he was still checking to make sure things worked.    After testing things, a part on the water system broke.   DH, Dagny & I drove out to Onaway to get it from the RV dealer.  For grins & chuckles, we asked what they had on the lot.   They had an older, but excellent condition 1986 camper for $2000.   A big one, bigger than Al wanted, but not huge, maybe 21 feet?    It’s a pure guess.

We consulted with my dad who had no opinion and bought it.    WRONG. THING. TO.  DO.    It was a nightmare.   We called to tell them we’d take it and they made arrangements to have electric trailer brakes installed the next afternoon and we’d fill out the paperwork and pick it up.

It ended up being a huge P.I.T.A.    We had left Dagny with my dad & his wife and were just going to drop off the van.    The woman said she thought it would take them less than an hour so we figured we’d stick around instead of going back.    One hour turned into 2-1/2!    Luckily, Dagny hasn’t been nursing that much during the day so she was fine.

We went back to get the trailer and we couldn’t even get it onto the van.   They had shoveled it out but there was 4 inches of packed snow under the van so we had to call my dad to come out.   He brought a jack and 2 hours later got the camper attached only to find that the running lights wouldn’t work and it was pitch black.

The next day, they got it working and home and it was REALLY riding low.   And it was sleeting and slippery but we made it.

On Friday, Al decided he’d really feel better if we bought a leveler to even out the trailer before we left.  He spend all day looking for, purchasing, and assembling that.   I was so busy trying to get ready that I don’t think I even took pictures of all the junk we had to throw in before we left because I was trying to pack with Dagny underfoot.   I got the most done when Al’s parents stopped by to help.

We got done packing by 9:30pm and went to bed by 11.   We were even up and out by 8am.   Just over the Indiana line we smelled this stench.   It was terrible.   We stopped at this auto place right by the exit we got off on to investigate (thank god for iphones with internet and GPS capabilities).

They were terribly rude.   Well one guy was.   Was all about not being able to do anything until Monday (duh, we saw the sign when we walked in).   Even offered to give us a phone book to take it somewhere else!!!

Now we’re not sure what we’re going to do.    We don’t think the van can haul the camper as is for sure and we don’t think that beefing up the van will fix it either, plus the trailer brakes keep shorting out.   So we are trying to figure out how to proceed.

To sum up, don’t stray from a God-breeze.   When God tells you to use dad’s camper, just use dad’s camper.    When you stray from his plan it takes 100x longer.



December 27, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Packing – Cookbooks, Office, & Fun Stuff

Today, I completed a few other areas of packing.

First, I finished the cookbook portion of the cookbook list.   I corralled them all into one pile and labeled them.    If all goes well and we stay for a while, I will review them all for their applicability.

The visual:


The original list:

  • Recipe Book
  • Baby Food Book
  • Timing Book
  • 5 Ingredient Favorites
  • Cheap Fast Good
  • Fix It & Forget it with 5 Ingredients
  • Toaster Oven Cookbook

I eliminated the recipe book (as in my own tried & true recipes).   First of all, they are mostly cookies and such or recipes for large batches or entertaining and I won’t be doing any of that.   Second, I didn’t feel like it.

I will also say that today I finished the office section (minus electronics).

The original list:

  • Paper
  • Manila Folders
  • Hanging Folders
  • Sharpies (2)
  • Pens (10ish)
  • Pencils w/extra lead/erasers
  • Highlighters (4)
  • Envelopes
  • Window Envelopes
  • Manila envelopes
  • Scrap paper
  • Post It’s & Flags (various sizes)
  • Labeler w/extra cartridge
  • Legal Pads (3)
  • Notebooks (2)
  • Clipboard w/scrap paper
  • Dry Erase Board
  • Dry Erase Markers (3)
  • Dry Erase Eraser
  • White Out Tape
  • Scotch Tape (buy on arrival, if needed)
  • Paper Clips
  • Binder Clips
  • Stapler (buy on arrival, if needed)
  • Stamps
  • Checks – personal, 2 businesses
  • Deposit Slips – personal, my business
  • Check stamp – my business
  • PT CEU info (3 classes on CD)
  • Tax return info (state, personal, business, etc)
  • Estate Doc copies

The visual:


Yes it includes this whole list AND closes.


I also finished our general stuff to do/stuff we love packing.    I was making such a big deal out of taking pictures of all this junk and I started packing it before I had taken a picture of it.    So the pic isn’t as good as I wanted it to be, but here it is:


The original list:

  • Green Books for Lent and After Advent
  • Small Russian Icon
  • A candle
  • Crucifix w/Palms
  • Liturgical Color Placemats
  • Plastic Mary

  • Pic of daughter & family pic
  • 2 decks of cards (one for her and one for us)

  • Timer (new)
  • Address Book
  • Calendar (flylady)
  • Lanyard

  • Bible
  • Bible Study (scanned?)
  • Catechism of Catholic Church
  • Rosaries
  • Catholic Prayer Book
  • Mary Day-by-Day
  • Weekly Missalette

  • Camcorder w/charger
  • DV Tapes
  • Kodak w/SD Card
  • AAA Batteries
  • Camera Case to hold all

  • iPod w/cord and charger
  • iPhone w/cord and charger

  • Florida Atlas
  • US Atlas

  • Crochet Needles
  • Yarn (2 small skeins)
  • Thread
  • Needles
  • Pins
  • Safety Pins
  • Leggings (to finish for Dagny)

  • Weight Training Bungees
  • iPod armband w/headphones
  • pedometer
  • water bottle (SS)

I managed to get nearly all of it into one kid’s size backpack.    Except the calendar–I’ll add that to the office in a box.   That also doesn’t include a large CD binder that we will be putting movies and CD’s.    Also, the Kodak is not pictured — I’m using it to take the pictures ;P.    My iPhone w/charger and the Catholic Prayer Book & Weekly Missalette are not pictured either because those live in my purse and glovebox, respectively.   The phone charger is not pictured either, it’s in use and will be in the van anyway.

Phew!    Just clothes and baby stuff left plus electronics to go in the van.   Oh yeah, and the household type stuff – extension cords, heaters, tools, etc.

More will be posted on Monday!   Have a great weekend!!


December 19, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Packing – Linens & Bath

Between today and yesterday, I finished the Bed & Bath portion of my list.   This includes linens and bathroom toiletry items.   I never realized how much of that kind of junk I use until I started to pack it all up.   I packed more than I needed in toiletries, I think, but all that stuff is really expensive and I don’t want to have to buy another if I’m wrong.

The linens:


The full linen portion of the original list is here:

  • Mattress Topper
  • Heated Blanket & Cord
  • Afghans (4-5)
  • Comforter (old king)
  • Sheets – 2 sets Queen
  • Pillowcases (4 – King)
  • Pillows (2 – King)
  • Square Pillow (for nursing, napping)
  • Beach Towel/Blanket for Family
  • Beach Towels (2-3)
  • Rugs – 2
  • Towels – 6 adult, 2 child
  • Hand towels – 2

The plan is for these to go under the bed in the linen storage unit, except for the mattress pad which I think I’m going to put on the bed to try to get it to flatten out and air out (if possible while the unit is closed) before we get there.   I hear they have a chemical smell to them.   The pillows (large and small) normally go on our bed so we will pack those in the back of the van and use then on the way down.

The bath items got substantially increased as I was cleaning and purging in preparation for finding everything that I needed to pack.

The visual:


The original list:

  • Shower bag
  • Shower flip flops – buy on arrival –can’t find here in winter
  • Toothbrush charger + 2nd toothbrush
  • Toothbrushes in travel case
  • Toothpaste
  • First Aid Kit
  • Brush
  • Mirror (hand-held)
  • Sunscreen (adult & baby)


  • Bath poufies – 2
  • Electric wet/dry razor w/charger
  • Bite splint & retainer
  • Mouthwash
  • Anti-persperant
  • Travel blow dryer
  • Body Wash – 2
  • Shampoo (both)
  • Face Wash (both)
  • Moisturizer
  • Make-up (new stuff-basics)
  • Make-up brush kit
  • Make-up remover
  • Body Spritz – 1
  • Lotion – 1
  • Nail Care Kit
  • Hair ties, clips, etc.


  • Hair cutting kit
  • Electric wet/dry razor w/charger
  • Shampoo
  • Soap (3 bars)
  • Deodorant (2)


  • Baby All-Over Body Wash
  • Disposable washcloths
  • Baby cloth washcloths
  • Baby care kit

As for the bath items, there are several things I added as I was cleaning & purging.   They include:

  • comb/pick
  • bug itch creme
  • denture cleaning tablets (for my bite splint)
  • special floss (for my wire-leftover from the braces)
  • mousse
  • pads (someday I will resume being a bloodletting female)
  • pantyliners
  • wet ones (I found a box in the cabinet that need to be used up)
  • cotton balls
  • floss
  • ear thermometer

There are also a few things not pictured:

  • no shower bag — couldn’t find one
  • toothbrush charger (pack before we leave)
  • toothbrushes (ditto)
  • toothpaste (ditto)
  • bath poofies — don’t have any left — will buy when I get there
  • bite splint & container (pack before we leave)
  • dad’s razors/beard trimmers
  • dad’s shampoo
  • baby washcloths (in with linens)

What a huge massive pile of stuff!    I fit most of it into a medium sized duffel that I used to take to the gym.    I still have a fair amount of stuff that will have to go into another (smaller!) bag.    This we will pack in the ski rack over the car.   Hopefully, we will be out of the frozen tundra before it all freezes and it’s not so hot when we get further south that they all explode.

More exploits to come, including baby stuff, clothes, and the office (all almost done)…

December 18, 2008 Posted by | pre trip planning | , , | Leave a comment

Packing – Kitchen

As I started typing up my list, I got a little worried.   It was 9 pages long for starters.

Then I started piling and got even more worried.   Here is the majority of the kitchen items, not including food/pantry stuff, or cookbooks.

Kitchen - A

I have approximately 1.5 cubic feet of space to put this stuff in, maybe a little more.   It’s an oddly shaped space under the sink.

Here is the detailed list:

  • Knives – Cutting & Steak
  • Cutting Boards – Plastic & Wood – 1 each
  • Can Opener
  • Spatula (hamburger kind)
  • Tongs
  • Spatula (regular)
  • Measuring cup(s)
  • Small bowls – 2 or 3
  • Meat Thermometer
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Drink Pitcher (sealed)
  • Mixing bowl – one
  • Silverware – 4 each knives, spoons, forks
  • Plates – 4
  • Bowls – 4
  • Glasses – 4
  • Wooden Spoon – 2
  • Veggie Peeler
  • Food Storage Containers
  • Cereal Box – 1
  • Plastic Baskets for spices – 1 or 2
  • Royal Caribbean cups – 2
  • Saucepan – 2 qt w/lid
  • Koozies
  • Collapsible Strainer
  • Ramekins – 2
  • Wisk

  • Crock Pot
  • Electric Frying Pan
  • Toaster Oven
  • Wash Basin
  • Dish Soap
  • Hand Soap
  • Paper Towels (buy on arrival)
  • Washcloths – 6
  • Hot Pads/Mitt – 2
  • Towels – 4
  • Microfiber cloths – 3
  • Napkins – 4
  • Apron
  • Brush & Dustpan
  • Plastic Bags (for garbage)

Added while packing:

  • a honing steel (for the knives)
  • a soup ladle

Missing from picture:

  • the meat thermometer
  • can opener
  • measuring spoons
  • the mixing bowl (which will be a collapsible bowl)
  • the forks (all dirty right now)
  • the washcloths.

I also didn’t picture the plastic bags because, well they smush and who cares.   I’ll be using all the old grocery bags that are cluttering up my house.   It will work well since we have a small space and be excellent for dirty diapers as well.  I love using cloth, but when we have to use a laundromat and will be going once a week in a small hot camper?   No thanks.

My HOPE is to fit this all in the space under the sink & stove.   I’m not sure if that will be possible, but we’ll try it and see.   Wish us luck!


December 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

The camper

It’s an older camper and so far I haven’t been able to see where they make them like that anymore.

This is the closest thing I can find to a floor plan for our camper.


Except there is no twin bed on the side, the dinette converts to a twin bed.   And the storage cabinet is a built in cooler.   And the stove does not carry out.    And I’m told the bed is smaller than a full/double but smaller than a queen.

I bought queen sheets & a mattress topper so lets hope my dad’s right :).   We’ve been told we’ll have use of an older airstream for a living room so that will make things a little more bearable.    In coming days, I’ll share our packing list with pics and later how we manage to get it all in there — or not :).


December 16, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why Bora Bora?

Why did I pick a photo of Bora Bora for the header?

Well, this trip is a culmination of all sorts of dreams of DH.   He has always wanted to live on a coral island and The Keys definately fits that bill.

Island living, I would think, lends itself well to living simply and cheaply as well.    It costs more to get things to the islands and we have never been the type of people to kill ourselves for stuff.    We’ve never pictured ourselves having enough money to live in fancy digs on an island — just a modest, but homey place.

That is our dream and desire.   And we’re going for it.

December 14, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Week? That’s it?

Yes.   Late last night it hit me that I only have one week to finish preparing for Christmas, clean my house, put way(or throw out) everything that’s been in limbo for 9 months, and pack everything that I think I’ll need or want and (here is the important part) FIT into the tiny camper & ski rack.    Ugh.

Today I think I’m going to finish the scrapbooks & scan them, wrap gifts, address/stuff Xmas letters, and finish packing & prepping the office if there is still time (doubt it but you never know).

Tomorrow, I’ll get down to the nitty gritty of cleaning & packing.

December 12, 2008 Posted by | pre trip planning | Leave a comment