Simplicity – Small & Cheap

Living simply & cheaply…wherever you are!

100 things – me

NOTE — I wrote this prior to leaving the camper (Feb. 2009).  Once I noticed this, it became the catalyst for all the purging that I’ve been doing!

A while back I had read about the guy who decided to live with only 100 things. I read about him 3rd hand via productivity and simple living blogs. After packing, I wondered how close we got.

In explaining this to my husband, he asked lots of questions about the spirit of the challenge that I couldn’t answer. So I looked him up and actually found him relatively easily (online, not in real life). Essentially, he didn’t include communal property and certain things HAD to be lumped as one. Underwear, for example, and his library as another. Man after my own heart :). That was the hardest part–picking which books to bring. And I’ve already bought a handful since I’ve gotten here, but I digress.

Anyway, here is my list of things that I brought for ME and me alone.

1. library 🙂
2. underwear & socks
3. yarn
4. crochet hooks
5. notebooks/journals
6. pens
7. post it notes
8-15. pjs – 6 pr. In various weights and forms
16-19. pants – 4 pr.
20-23. capris – 2 pr. + 2 pr. (reg & exercise)
24-26. shorts – 3 pr.
27-31. tshirts – 5
32-35. tank tops – 4?
36-39. camisoles – 4
40-44. long sleeved shirts – 5?
45-47. jackets/coats – 3
48. skirt
49. 3 piece suit
50. makeup, brushes & toiletries
51-60. My DVDs – maybe 10 that were MY favorite.
61. Computer #1 with accompaning junk
62. Computer #2 with accompaning junk
63. Exercise equipment – 2 bungies & running shoes
64. iPod
65-69. shoes – 4 pr. Including my aquasocks, not including my running shoes which I’ve lumped as exercise equipment.
70. Scissors
71. CDs of PT CEUs (if it’s not fun does it count?)
72. Bathing suit.
73. Purse

Actually, that’s not so bad. I’ve even counted most of my clothing individually. I wonder how we did on communal property? I bet Dagny’s stuff is way over and dads is WAY under.

How about you?   How have you benefited from paring down your stuff?   Let us know in the comments!


April 1, 2009 Posted by | 100 things challenge | | Leave a comment

Useful kitchenware in a minimal space

Now that we’ve been in the camper for about a month and we have settled into a routine, I am getting a good feel for what I NEED and what I don’t. I actually feel pretty good about most of what we packed.

First of all, when I originally packed, I thought we would be in a MUCH smaller camper so I invested in some collapsible essentials.

– mixing bowl
– strainer
– measuring cups

These have been invaluable. I’ve used the measuring cups and strainer a lot and used the mixing bowl to let pizza dough rise the other day.

If you are going to rely on the toaster oven (i.e. no microwave), ramekins are a must. I think ours are only 6-8 oz. but 10 oz. would be better.

These items have also earned their place in our kitchen:
– Bowls
– Storage bowls
– 2 qt. Saucepan with lid
– Wooden spoons, slotted & regular
– Hamburger flipper (or spatula, depending on your local usage)
– Silverware
– Cups
– Cutting boards (1 meat, 1 veggie)
– Meat thermometer
– butcher knife, paring knife & some other knife that usually comes with a set that I don’t know the name of

The jury is still out on these. I haven’t used them yet but everything I make is pretty simple:

– spatula
– adjustible measuring spoons
– steak knives
– wire wisk
– insulated cups
– gallon pitcher — too big

I did have a thing or two on my wish list.
– a silicon pastry brush. I keep wishing I had one and I had regular wood handled ones at home but always had problems getting the oil out.
– a 2 quart pitcher. It doesn’t need to seal tight like it would have had to in a cooler and it perfectly fits a packet of kook-aid without eating my whole fridge. I bought on last time we were on the mainland and am really glad we did.

Also, I determined that 2 absorbing towels are not enough. I bought a hot pad/towel set that had 2 absorbing towels (terry?) and 2 push-the-water-around towels (linen?). Not enough. I got a set of 3 absorbing/3 waffle weave last time we were on the mainland too. I’d say I’m glad but we haven’t been cooking much since we got back so it hasn’t been that big a deal. Yet! Also, lots of washcloths are good too. I went through as many as 6 one week, when we ate particularly greasy canned chili with our hot dogs.

I brought a few microfiber cleaning cloths but not nearly enough to use those exclusively to clean up our messes. I brought 3 and we generally still use a roll of paper towels every 2 weeks.

Aluminum foil and baggies have proved themselves highly useful in this warm, nomadic and child-filled existance. But only mildly. Baggie or no baggie things still go stale here–QUICKLY! The same day, even, only hour(s) later.

What do you find indespensible in YOUR small space?

February 18, 2009 Posted by | 100 things challenge | , | Leave a comment

Useful appliances in a small camper

We bought lots of different things before we left in an effort to make life in a small space easier. Now that we’ve been here a month, it’s easy to see what is worth it’s space.

Most of the stuff we purchased was for the kitchen.

A toaster oven. I’ve never used one of these before but the camper we were going to use didn’t have an oven. Even though this one DOES, we find it easier to use this. It comes out almost daily and we use it to rehear leftovers. I make cookies a LOT thanks to refridgerated dough. All things considered, if you have room and are traveling long term, bring it.

An electric frying pan. We use this a lot also. Still getting used to the fact that it cycles. Again, this isn’t something that I use at home, so I don’t know if they all do that or not. I’ve found that it DOES get hot enough to boil noodles in almost the same amount of time. Over easy eggs are tough to do. Otherwise, this is pretty useful for long-term living, too.

An electric water kettle. Priceless! We bought it to give Dagny baths here in the camper, but use it for dishes and oatmeal, too. I think I would pack one for short trips, too, especially if you need your morning coffee.

A 4 quart crockpot. I have a HUGE one (6 qt.) at home but this one has a smaller footprint. I think I’ve only used it twice but I think once I get in the groove, I’ll use it more. I have a few recipes that I want to make soon that are easiest in that. I could take it or leave it.

Wish list. Well, maybe.

Microwave. I have mixed thoughts in this one. Having one would make the toaster oven less useful. But it’s easier to find containers to heat things up in. And more convenience foods are made for it. And it won’t make the camper hotter.

A grill. Propane, charcoal, whatever. It can probably make abetted burger & again, won’t make the camper hotter because you use it outside.

February 11, 2009 Posted by | 100 things challenge | , , | Leave a comment

Packing it all in…

For our complete packing list, click here.   It’s hosted by Google Docs in its entirety.

I meant to get pics of all the last minute stuff that went in the van (there was a lot of it), but I never got that far.   To busy–we prepared to leave until 9 pm the night before!

That said here is all the stuff we packed into the camper.

Over the kitchen table:


This is where we keep all of our books, movies, craft stuff, paperwork, coupons, & miscellany.

The kitchen:


Above the stove is where the canned goods and spices are kept.


Above the sink are our dishes.


Under the sink is where we keep the electric frying pan, the crockpot, the electric kettle and a small amount of canned goods.   The drawers (the first is one of those “fake” ones), have the silverware & kitchen utensils, the linens and misc. junk.

Not pictured, under the stove, is another cabinet which perfectly fits the toaster oven.

There is a cabinet above the fridge which has things like cleaners, the dustpan, toolbox, etc. in it.


We weren’t sure how cold the nights would get so we packed lots of blankets.   Last night was the first time we used any of them since we stayed at the truck stop in Alabama.    Those, along with extra diapersand wipes are above the bed, packed tight:


Our clothes were the biggest deal.    I don’t know where they would have gone in the little camper.   They barely fit in this one– I had to buy a set of drawers for Al and Dagny as it is!

My closet:


I also have a drawer under my closet.   The other drawer is Dagny’s & the door under that is for extra shoes.   To the right of that is a junk drawer and I think the door under that will hold all the toys that are cluttering up the other surfaces.   It’s the only unclaimed space so far.


Al’s closet:


Here are the drawers that Al uses with the cabinet on top:


I guess my summary of this post is that the list linked above is a LOT of stuff and more meant for a larger camper OR being a minimalist in a small rental space/home.   If you were camping for a weekend, or even a week, you would not need as much as we brought.   I came prepared for being down here for the long hall – like 6 months or so.

January 20, 2009 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