Saturday, November 24, 2012

Operation Bed Spread

I decided to make the Revcon a bit more colorful and cheery. Well, I might have taken a bit too ambitious and time consuming project to start with, but I have decided it will be done, no matter if it will take year or two to finish it. I have always loved all kinds of crafts, and one of the things that has been pushed for years aside is crochet and knitting and I am ready to start again. I should have probably made first some potholders and washcloths but nope, I decided to make a bed cover for the California King size bed in our RV. I was planning on doing it with granny squares to keep the weight of it a bit lighter while working on it (Everyone who does crochet knows what they are, others maybe not. They are usually either square or round shaped smaller pieces that eventually get connected into a larger piece). But Lee did not like the granny square style, and I was not going to spend the best part of a year (or maybe even two) working on a project that he would hate.

I spent several days trying to figure out how to use my yarn that I had purchased for granny squares, since I had almost as much Ivory colored yarn as I had various other colors. I had enough of yarn, but how to make it so that I won't run out of any color in the middle of the row, and how to distribute the Ivory colored yarn there evenly so that it won't look like I miscalculated at some point (which would be easy to do) or that I had bought the yarn for some other project (which actually did happen) and just tried to use it in something else it wasn't suitable for.

The most difficult part was to try to figure out how to get the Ivory in there, and how to visualize to see if my plan would work or not. So I decided to take a pieces of each yarn and lay them down. One piece of yarn was going to be representing one row of crochet. One by one I set the yarns down and counted how many rows of Ivory I still have to crochet to get long enough bed cover to actually cover the bed. Once I had the amount of Ivory needed figured out, I cut the yarn and started to divide it evenly out hoping that I can come up with a pattern. I was in luck to find a way to even it all out in repetitive way. I made a sample out of each color in patter and laid them out to plan the order. This is what it is going to look like, unless I miscalculated the rows needed to finish the project.

I was hoping to get kind of effect where the colors change gradually, but with having to use lots of Ivory, I don't think it will be as smooth as originally planned. I don't know how it will look on a bigger scale, but I am sure it will be fabulous! How could it not? I am making it, so what could go wrong? Ok, please, one at a time, I know all my home boys and girls are now laughing and waiting for a chance to speak up and prove that everything could go wrong when I am in question. Maybe the first one to prove my mistakes is my super handy sister who can knit anything (she got it from me, I am sure). I am one of those people who usually just jumps into a project without any instructions, but I tried to plan this one out since it is going to be a lot of work. I am just hoping I don't have to pull it all apart after spending about 100 hours and realizing it isn't going to work.

I made about three ripples wide sample to trying to figure out how many stitches I needed in one row, but I was afraid the sample should have been longer to get more accurate estimate. And sure enough after several hours later when I was finishing my third row I decided that the piece has started to take a form to allow me to measure how wide it actually is, and I noticed it was 11 inches wider than what I wanted it to be. I am already making it wider than the mattress is, so that when making the bed, the spread will come all the way down the mattress to cover it, but I really didn't feel the need to crochet any more than what was needed, especially since one row takes a looong time. So I took the scissors and just cut of the excess. Who said you can't do that? I just did! I just tied the ends and smiled at myself. I have to still time out to see how long it is actually going to take to finish one row, but it certainly is more than one hour, maybe even more than two. I am not the fastest one with the hook, and most of the time I get interrupted for this or that. And I am sure after few months other projects will take the priority, but this will get done, sooner or later. I will be updating you on this project later on.

Just to show you what the ripple design is, here is a picture of a pretty one, made by Lucy from Attic 24. And if anyone else is interested here is the ripple pattern.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It Is Official, the Dogs Love the Beast!!!

So we decided that it was time to go fix the day and night curtain if we could possibly figure out how to do it. And we decided to take the dogs with us to get used to being in Revcon. After all, we needed to see if it is going to be a disaster or not. I lifted up one of the greyhounds to the bunk bed, since that is where we are going to be sleeping and this is the spot that we were expecting to cause most problems. Let's go to the ugly truth and admit that the puppies sleep with us, under our covers and the hairiest dog Nelli... heh, on our pillows, so this is what is going to be the biggest obstacle. Louie seemed to like it up there and so did Pixie, we didn't even try to put old girl Nelli there. She will most likely want to sleep there too but for her safety, I think she will have to learn to sleep in her own bed on the couch or on the floor. It will be interesting to see how that will work out. So I took Louie and Pixie down and we started to fix the curtain, and it looks Louie figured out in no time how to get back up there. So the dogs love the bunk bed, that is clear, now we just have to make is so that they can get down from there without hurting themselves. Some sort of ramp thingie with a rail will have to be put up there at nights.The stuff we do for our little hairy kiddoes.

Oh, and not to forget, we did figure out how to fix the curtain. We are going to have to be more self sufficient in order to survive out in the boonies. And boonies is where we would love to be! Boonies, be prepared for a crazy bunch!



Friday, November 16, 2012

RV Cooking So Easy Even Caveman Could Do It

Lee and I started this series of experiments on food and how to make things RV friendly. The biggest challenges are that we do not have counter space, at all! The table will have to work, no matter how small, as prepping area for our cooking. We also need to simplify our recipes. I like to every now and then try new things and sometimes the recipes are complicated. Well, complicated is not gonna cut it in the RV. I don't mind cooking complicated stuff, what gets me is the chopping and prepping. If I can't have a sous chef, I will have stuff that has been sous cheffed for me ahead of time. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a perfect solution: easy cooking and easy storing (does not mean it doesn't take any room, just no special requirements) and prepping all done for you. The solutions is freeze dried ingredients!!!

As I am typing this I just have my RV soup simmering and it was so easy to make. I was going to make just a traditional soup with veggies and meat in it, until I realized that we were out of potatoes, or had just couple that looked kinda suspicious. And the meat was still frozen. Since I needed to cook for my poor hard working hubby, I decided that I will go with what my conscious has always rebelled against, easy route. So I took all our freeze dried veggies, a can of diced tomatoes, freeze dried meat and tossed a bit of this and a bit of that into the pot with some water, those tomatoes, and some salt, pepper, paprika, all spice, chili sauce and oregano and let it simmer for an hour. Now we have healthy, delicious and most of all super easy soup. Nothing to clean except the bowls we eat from, the pot and spoons. I love this!

When you are snuggled up by a rock or a tree out in the boonies, with as small of a fridge as we do, and you don't have an option to go grocery shopping daily, this is the way to go. The simplicity makes it so effortless too, that even someone who has started to lean towards the take out pizza versus home cooking just for its easiness can not complain at all. All it took was couple of minutes to throw things into the pot and add some spices. Once it started to boil, I just put the lid on it and let it simmer for another hour and by the time all has stopped floating on the surface, was well re-hydrated and cooked. I just sprinkled a bit of cheese on my soup  bowl and gobbled it all up. How much easier can it get? And all the ingredients are high quality, dry stored and we don't even have to go to the grocery store to buy them, they can all be ordered online. Hah, I can see how people get extreme on all kinds of things, I am ready to see how far I can go. 

To our surprise this soup was yummy!
No refrigerator needed
No tears
No peeling and chopping


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Beast, Monster, Cave, Bat Mobile, Zeus, Mad Max???

So we are still on a quest to name our rig, though it looks like the original name is sticking to it pretty tightly. So far she has been called Beast by almost anyone who sees her. I tend to like Monster better, and we got some amazingly good suggestions on Facebook and private emails from people, but so far nothing has gotten stuck enough to replace the Beast. Our friends borrowed it for a tiny road trip and returned it the next day, they were all chuckled about the fact that anywhere they made even a short pit stop, they were surrounded by people asking about it, taking pictures and just generally being really curious about it. I have to say that it is much bigger in person than what it looks in pictures, and when it rolls down towards you, it makes you take couple looks as if your eyes were lying. The first words out of your mouth would likely be: " What the heck?". It truly is a Beast rolling down. But before we close the files on the name search we will be still accepting suggestions. It is not time yet to let this case go cold.

Talking about the cold... We have been battling with her refrigerator for few weeks now. After  fixing the power drainage, it refused to stay on with propane. We take it to the shop to get it fixed, and it comes back with the same problem. We might have to buy a new fridge  but if the problem is not the fridge itself, then that would not do any good either. It is getting rather frustrating. We struggled with this earlier with our Chinook too, but finally that one got resolved. What ever it is, it needs immediate attention. Fridge that doesn't stay on is not a fridge, it is a closet with poor air circulation.

My plans for the interior are very simple: total overhaul. I can't stand the black and white, it is very 80's looking, especially for a rig that was built 2002. Some of the black is going to have to be replaced along with the black and white carpet. I want hardwood floors for easy cleaning and also the golden faucet will need replacing. Lots of the black is in big items like leather couches and counter top. Most items could possibly be changed but would be ridiculously expensive, like the solid black marble counter top. Given that it is probably cast marble, it is still expensive, and I think we just have to make the rest of the changes to work with it. I am trying to make it look a bit less masculine from the inside, since right now it is so "dude". I think that crochet granny square stuff will be boho enough, and make even my husband to feel warm and fuzzy... though I am sure that nothing warm and fuzzy made him to get the Beast in a first place. The leather will be easy to replace in some places and in some not so much but I think it can be also partially a project for the road, something we can get done while already in motion. The flooring needs to be changed first and rest will follow.

We have considered even some constructional changes with our rig, nothing major that could not be changed later, but since we do have the fold down table on the back and our kitchen is pretty much non existing we were thinking of just converting the dinette into one big counter space with storage underneath. would be fairly simple to do, and could be easily removed later on. Not sure yet if we want to do that really, time will show I guess, if we can figure out a way to get one done and stored inside the rig without it being on the way, we could just do it and then use it on as needed basis. I just don't think we could really use the underneath for any storing in that case.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pecans And Baking

Well, we have lived for over 4 years in this house and this Monday our lawn crew came and they asked if they would be allowed to pick a little bit pecans under our huge tree after the mowing. Of course, why not, we never did. I guess we assumed that we got nothing this year since last year the shells were empty due to severe drought. And the year must have been tough for squirrels too, we have much less of them than we used to. We happened to talk with our neighbor about the pecans and he just said that the pecans are beautiful this year, so I decided to go see if there was any left under the tree and I was in luck. I collected about two to three gallons of shells and very few actually were either empty or damaged, they might have been from last year for what we know.

Suddenly I wanted to bake a pecan pie and I had never baked one before. I asked my friends in Facebook for a good recipe and Catie Doman graciously shared her blue ribbon winning recipe. Keep your eyes peeled, I will share it with you with her permission. I went back to get some more pecans and kept jumping up to reach the ones up on the lowest branches too. I just wanted to make sure that I had enough for a pie in case they end up being bad ones. I was in luck again. I think I could bake thirty pies out of them. Better safe than sorry is what I'm thinking.

So I had most of the ingredients at home but wanted to make my baking as RV'ish as possible and I think I would use ready made crust to save time while RV'ing. And since I am trying to learn to take shortcuts, I decided it was good time to start using the half ready products. I am originally from Finland and we make everything from scratch and I need to learn to simplify my cooking a lot in order to enjoy it better. So here is the recipe for the filling, I used Pillsbury pie crust and I still have half of it left, since it has two crusts in it. I can make another one as soon as this one runs out, which is probably later on tonight.

Fresh from the oven, hot and still puffy!

Catie's Blue Ribbon Winning Pecan Pie:

1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup of Karo dark syrup
1 cup of pecans
3 eggs
4 tbs butter (which I forgot, still came out good)
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

Pillsbury pie crust or home made crust.

Mix the ingredients and pour onto the crust. Bake 10 mins in 400F and then 35 mins in 300F. You can probably make it prettier with nice edge and not forgetting the stuff out of it. But at least I do have a reason to make another pie. It is pretty yummy, make two at the same time so you don't have to be baking all the time.

Just imagine the stick of butter in the picture, I am sure it will be even
 tastier  with it.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


The decision to keep the house has calmed me down. I am not so worried anymore what kind of rig we have, or if we have enough room. Not that having the house will help anything with the fact that we are living small while on the road, but just the knowledge of being able to return here will release some of the pressure of having to sell everything. It might actually be worth keeping the furniture at least some of it, so we don't have to go all crazy spending once we are done roaming around the country.

We also are relieved that we don't have to fix as much right away, since we are not trying to sell for a top dollar. Some changes that we need to do can be done down the road, whenever it seems necessary and we get to keep our nice neighborhood and all our friends and family close. Such a nice feeling. I am already feeling a little sad of missing on all the fun lunches and dinners with one of my closest friends. We usually have dinner in our favorite Indian buffet once a week, or anywhere we feel like, and those will sadly have to be iced until we come back from our Tour de America.

Fresh herbs will be greatly missed, especially the basil that
 took over the whole back yard
I have been following a few RV bloggers and I have to admit that I am pretty anxious to get on the road. Some of the bloggers have absolutely amazing photos on their blogs, and I am sure they would be able to make our dumpster to look like a dream vacation spot, but I can't help but wish I could go to see all those fabulous views and sceneries that they have photographed to their blogs. Looking at those pictures it just makes you think that they are either professional, or they have a camera that has a button "$1M" that makes everything look like million dollars. Maybe you can train your eyes to see the photo in front of you, but the colors look sometimes so surreal, maybe they have more professional gear than my point and shoot.

I have been frustrated with my own photos, since there isn't really anything yet to take pictures of, and when you are trying to blog about the brainstorming it gets a bit difficult to take photos that are actually somehow related to the post itself. I have to use pictures of what ever random stuff  that are not related to anything that I am really talking about, but that have something in them that I like, not necessarily great photos, but images of things that I like. This is one of the reasons you have seen so many pictures of our critters and our home. But this is one of the things I would like to concentrate more once we hit the road. I can't wait for that one.

Another amazing photo of the... vegetation on our yard. 
Moving from 3000 square feet to about 150 will be a huge change. I am sure the lack of storage is not going to be the only issue, one of the things I have been threading is the cooking. We have a pretty big kitchen with all the possible appliances and gadgets and the RV, well, it just doesn't. I have been thinking about toaster oven and maybe a single burner to add little cooking power, but then again storing them will be an issue. I think we will just try to figure out how to use the convection micro as an oven and try to get by with as little as possible. I think my Kitchen Aid might not have a spot in the RV, drats!