As many of my friends know, I’ve experienced a challenging time the last few months, with my Mini van tranny going out, and making the decision to junk it out. My laptop broke down , as well a couple weeks ago. This leaves me with only my prepaid phone working . That’s the bad news……here is the Good News.

I was on the way to visit my kids for the summer, so have been having a fun time with them. My son in law is working on fixing the laptop, so all is not lost yet. They have graciously been letting me use their’s , as well as sharing a vehicle. My Sis also got to visit us here, so it was just great, getting to see most of the family. Butttt….this State…[Pa] is not my ‘home’ state, and I am used to flat lands and a warmer climate. I never intended to spend the winter here, and found it time to make some sort of plan for winter digs.

My bankroll wasn’t great enough to purchase a good van or rv and have extra for any potential repairs, so I opted on something else. I decided to go back to a comfort zone , area and abode. I called the mgr. at a +55 mobile home park I used to reside in, in beautiful Clearwater Beach , Fl. The park is small, simple, walking distance to shopping[need that with no vehicle], and reasonable. Even so, it would have been less expensive to rent a room share…but after being literally homeless for a while, I feel the overwhelming need to own ‘something’, for my peace of mind security.

Sounds weird, but I bought this place, sight unseen…basically over the phone. I had a trusted friend go look at it for me, and got the same verbal description the park mgr. gave me. A 3 bdrm mobile home that has been rehabbed…new flooring, paint, new water heater, and has a double roof. I flipped a couple mobile homes and know this is a move in ready situation…and the Price was Right. I wanted to be able to have a roomie or two, to off set costs, and the company can be nice, if it’s the ‘right’ roomie. Owning the home , paying lot rent, utilities, cable, buying furnishings, etc is costly. I also need to ‘get a real job’ for awhile and save for another vehicle, and get a decent nest egg built up.

I won’t be there till the 19th of Aug., but am testing the water for potential roomies. I am going for a good fit, lifestyle wise and am advertising for those compatible with ‘green living’. I have a few friends in the area, and have thrown myself on their mercies, willing to be happily surprised if they hook me up with anything and everything to stock and furnish the household, as it is empty. I am flying there. I managed to pack my beloved old drill and a few hand tools in the baggage that will go in the belly of the plane….a few clothes in the carry-on….laptop bag for my freebie carry-on [hoping the laptop gets fixed].

I’m feeling very confident now, as the whole process of finding and buying this home has gone seamlessly. I have big plans to create an example of permaculture gardening + energy saving…in small places. I will join a couple local ‘permie’ groups in Clw. It should be lots of fun. I always have to have a ‘project’ going on, as it keeps you young to keep busy.

For the future…..I’d still like to travel and either getting another van/Rv or traveling with a friend with one, will hopefully be in the cards. A ‘real job’…meaning punching a time clock, might hamper things for a while, but you never know. Working part time…one should have more days off, and short trips should be ok.

I hope to visit family more now. Miss them already , and I haven’t even left…lol

I’d love to plan meet ups with others, if they are passing through the Clw, Fl area.

A question that comes up while ‘on the road’, is: How can I eat healthy, with lack of stores around or refrigeration? So much easier to just buy canned or dehydrated foods….not?

Honestly, it’s not that much trouble to sprout seeds, for tasty greens to add to your diet. Use them in place of lettuce, raw and in cooking. make enough to use in a couple days, and no need to refrigerate. Keep two or three of my small D.I.Y. sprouter containers going, and you will have healthy greens whenever you want them.

Mix your sprout seeds for a taste variety. You can buy a mix called a ‘salad mix’. To get started fast, Just go buy a bag of mung beans or lentils in the grocery store. They make fatter sprouts, but if in a rush to start, and no health food store in sight, go for it!

How To Make A Recycled material Sprouter:

I like using empty cottage chez or sour cream containers, same diameter, but one short and one taller. Then drill holes in bottom of the short one..[5-6 holes are enough][smallest drill bit]…..or could poke with a hot nail or some such. Make holes so inside is smooth and any rough edges are on bottom. Also drill holes in the lid. Only need one lid.

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STEP 1: Soak a heaping tablespoon of seeds in water, in the larger container overnight.

STEP 2: Drain in the morning , into the smaller container. Thereafter, rinse twice a day. Easiest to remember in the morning and before bedtime. In about three days, you’ll have sprouts ready to eat. When you see the first tiny leaves, they are ready. You set them in the sun for a couple hours to green them up. NOTE: While they are growing , you must simulate the effect of being in the ground, by keeping them in a dark place. Just cover your containers with a cloth to keep sunlight out , or store in a cupboard. The larger container catches the drips.

ENJOY: Toppings on sandwiches, in green juices, stir-fry, and as a salad. I love cottage chez/sprouts/sunflower seeds/and italian dressing salad.family200family201family209family210family211

This post is to play ‘Catch up’ for all my travl’in  friends……..

The trip up North to Pa. was just starting to be enjoyable, and I was getting used to sleeping in the van and my GPS. I found one of those atlases that shows where all the walmart locations are, and then would sort of plan my night time stops around one of those or a planet fitness location close to interstate for showers. Both is possible!…lol.

A monkey wrench gummed up the trip with van issues causeing tranny to blow up on interstate in S. Carolina. It was decided it would be too costly to fix it, for the worth of the van….and the location I was at was scarey to me.

I ended up selling it to a junk yard for $500, and still owed 1k on it, so …this is NOT GOOD. I had to throw away or leave in the van most of my new set up, as I couldn’t get it sold and rental car wouldn’t hold it all. ….ROUGH TRIP….

All in all….it would have been much cheaper to do the long trip in a rental car. Now had i been in my van in a close by local area, i could have called my local mechanic friend and he would have fixed me up. Many lessons learned here.

Now I have No vehicle, but am safe and sound at my daughter’s for the summer. I am busy doing gardening and landscaping work at her house and enjoying being around a busy family, and all that entails.

I must say, I’m not fond of driving in the mountains, though they are beautiful. I’ve lived in Florida or Iowa, which are both pretty flat, my whole life, so this is culture shock. Honestly….give me beach side  any day of the week…even in the heat, but this is where family is, so what are you gonna do?

Pa. has lots of foraging for berries opportunities, which I am enjoying…lol

Here are a couple pics of my daughter and I having fun doing a sheet mulch garden. She got me up on the machine I call a ‘Scooper Dooper’….vowing I will be an expert by end of season. She has horses, and i can practice on keeping the manure/compost piles in order.

Me spreading compost on the second layer. Wood chip mulch tops it off.

Me spreading compost on the second layer. Wood chip mulch tops it off.

My daughter doing more than her share....

My daughter doing more than her share….

A pick of me on the backhoe.

A pick of me on the backhoe.

My daughter on her horse, Jake. He is fiesty....an endurance horse.

My daughter on her horse, Jake. He is fiesty….an endurance horse.

I’m saving money and doing part time jobs, , for a permanent home base, and hopefully will find warm weather friends to visit in warmer climate in the winter.  Not so sure about investing in another van, for a time. Open minded….. if any of my friends have space for a stowaway that can pay their share on winter trips….lol.

I spent all day resorting all my important ‘stuff’, that I can’t possibly do without and a few ‘well…I might need it’s’. The bed/couch/lounge/office area is about the only thing you can see very well, as most of the inside of the van is a demure black and blue. I Granny’d it up a little with a few pillows and a sweet roses throw. There will be more pillows when I take off.Image

For convenience I am hanging a chambray shirt for woods cover up and a sweater on the back of the passenger seat. These also cover up a couple spray bottles of baking soda water and water with a dab of dish soap and two hand towels. They are nestled in a pouch the van came with .Image

My Faux Java Cup Coffee Maker/Collapsible Silicone Funnel:

I had been looking all over for a java Cup coffee maker . None of the sporting goods stores or even camping world had them. Then……I discovered this funnel at aOld Time  Pottery Barn store in the gadget section. I will do the drip method of coffee making. Just stick a paper filter in this and pour the hot water over it. I found what they call a turkish coffee maker at a thrift store. it’s blue enamel and I will  heat the water in this on my butane burner.

I am reserving a special drawer just for coffee supplies, as it’s way up there on my list of important things. My foo foo coffee creamers , cinnamon, and special cup will be added to the drawer just before I leave. ImageImageImageImageImage

MY PORTA POTTY:

I was pretty proud of myself in putting together this compact , yet sturdy porta potty. It fits under the bed frame of 9″ height, yet is sturdy enough to support my fluffy frame. I made it from a chamber pot, from a chair for sick folk. It had a nifty lid, and the one i bought for a 5 gal bucket, fit fine on top, even with the other lid on. Then for sturdiness, i cut down a 5 gal. bucket to encase it . Now…lol…on me….in the resorting of the van, it sits out from under the bed and acts as a support for the foot part of the bed. I figured early on that pulling the drawers out every day, would get old really fast. ImageImage

GPS:

I finally joined this century and got a Garmin GPS. I’ve been playing around with it this week, and  I really like it so far. It automatically knows where I am, and I don’t have to type that location in. But just in case….I printed out a trip map and bought a fold out one, as well. Unknown territory is a challenge to those of us that cannot find out way out of a paper bag…..but the excitement of exploring new places trumps the apprehension of not knowing what lies ahead.

As of May 1st, I’m taking a trip to visit my family in Scranton Pa., area , with a few stops along the way. I will be visiting a friend in Melbourne Beach, and am thinking of taking a day to visit the Thomas Jefferson Gardens, in Virginia. It’s only a tad off I-95, then then I can detour Washington traffic, by taking 81 the rest of the way up. Win win to me…..

Hopefully there will be road side advertisements for a few other things to do, and I’m sure I will see cute shops I have to visit along the way. I kind of wanting to hit a jazz or Blue grass festival. if anyone can recommend any in the area I am heading, please let me know. Should any fellow group members want to meet for coffee along the way…let’s try to make that happen. Garmin GPS

I spent the last several days making the hard decisions of what to get rid of and what to keep. Once I leave this position, the Mini Van is my Home Sweet Home. Sure I’ll get breaks , as when you visit friends and family , they like to have you visit in their sticks n bricks homes. 

Now since my visit to Pa. will be extended, I may take a short term housekeeper position. We’ll see what cards life deals me. Now onto the packing of the van. I can’t really show you pics of where everything is, as it just won’t show up well, with my camera. Suffice to say….it looks exactly the same, except drawers are full now, and every nook and cranny is filled up. Refer to pics in the last post, as to a visual of how it looks.

The hardest things for me were to get rid of tools and craft items. I’m sure you know how some of those things just sit in your tool,boxes, and rarely get used…… I crochet and do wire wrapping. I also had a whole tub of paints and stencils, which I honestly rarely use. I also am an avid gardener, and am going to try to find a place to bring my fav. garden tools along, as I will be putting in a large garden for the family. I will be leaving the garden tools, dehydrator, electric fan , elec heater, and some bulky bedding, stored with family, for future trips. So being a little overloaded on this trip is acceptable. I hope to have a snowbird lifestyle. Visit family up north in summers, and travel rest of the time. I am also looking into getting on a waiting list for a senior apartment in Fl, for my permanent residence. 

How I fit it all: 

Tools/Crafts: I condensed all hand tools and crafting items to One big drawer and half of one skinny set of drawers for the over flow. Tools are in one plastic shoe box and crafts in another, set inside a bottom large drawer. Over flow was a glue gun , staple gun, and cordless drill in a case. Due to the contour of the lift up back door, I had 4″ of space to stick a couple items. The cordless drill, and satchel with my MC jacket, and a small foldup camp table, went there. 

I mounted large drawer units to one side, and created a space to store tall bulky items like the heater, a magnifier lamp/mirror, elec fan, and hopefully the heads of a couple garden tools will fit there.

The remaining large drawers are reserved for my clothes, both summer and winter. Amazingly….they are fitting. I even had room for a 3/4 leather jacket, a shorty, and a zip up sweatshirt in one drawer. Tanks and gym clothes/swimwear are in one drawer. 3 pair jeans and 3 sweaters in another. I have 2 drawers left for tops and capris, which are my primary clothes right now. 

The remaining skinny drawer unit, facing the front of the van, most accessible to the side door, is for food storage. My nested pans and gadgets are in small top drawers, in the opposite skinny unit. 

Under bed drawers;

Two are reserved for shoes and purses. I used to collect these things, so this is as small as it goes …so far anyways. Other two have all my important papers, pens, stapler, etc.

Behind Under bed drawers:

I made my porta potty out of a lidden chamber pot, that came with a chair..For added strength, I cut down a sturdy 2 1/2 gal bucket to the right height to house it….a perfect fit, and with snap on  lid and cover, it all fits under the 9′ clearance of the bed. I am quite proud of myself on this , and happy it doesn’t have to sit out in plain view , except when I need to use it. 

Next down the line, is my one burner butane stove and a grill plate i got at thrift store to use to toast bread and grill things. Mostly I’ll just be heating water up for coffee, or making one pot dishes, in my nested pans. 

The large blender/smoothie maker, I am taking for when I have 110 use, sits in the middle, between the drawers. I wrapped the glass part in a towel.

Behind the second set of drawers is reserved for the dehydrator and smaller garden tools like loppers. Eventually i will buy a fold up shovel, fold up pruning saw, and fold up rake, for my travl’in tools. I have it in my head to tend the earth , plant seeds, help folks with their gardens, where ever I travel. 

The kitty liter jug sits in a space in the door well, behind the bed frame. Easy to get to, yet hidden by pillows. Once I store a few things, it will fit nicely, under the bed frame.

My 12v cooler sits handy at the side door entrance, and doubles as my desk. I have a large ugly , but oh so handy 5 gal. yellow and red water cooler with spigot, which will sit beside the cooler when travling and outside on a table when camped. My 12v cooler doesn’t hold much ice, so most of the ice from a bag, will go in the water cooler. I’ll carry along an extra re purposed kitty liter jug to hold extra water…just in case. 

Front seat area will hold my laptop bag, gym bag, and craft bag. I just keep them there in the passenger foot well, so it doesn’t mess up my living quarters. I cover them with a towel or throw. 

My portable battery pack will sit between the drawers in the back , tucked out of sight, for now. It fuels my 12v fan and small 240wt blender. I currently use laptop at public places like mc d’s.

I’ll update with pics, as I have more time , and get the final things packed.

To become an expert at simple,, gracious living, is my goal. I know I can’t do that completely, as my very home uses gas and I am still using some electrical appliances….but my carbon foot print  is getting lower by leaps and bounds. 

 

 

 

Pic view from front seat. New sterlite drawers and bed frame.

Pic view from front seat. New sterlite drawers and bed frame.

Under bed storage

Under bed storage

I’m leaving the stick n bricks position and going to visit my family as of May 1st. This will be a Fl to Pa trip, and it’s time to devise a ‘new plan’ for the van configuration. I took many measurements, and sat in it thinking how it could be comfortable. Turns out , with my height of being 5’6′, I had room to do 9″ high legs on a bed platform.

I bought some sterlite drawer units and played around with how best they would go. I asked my friend’s sig other for a little bit of help, and he helped me…taught me…how to make a solid ,simple bed frame. We had to remove some remaining hardware from a console unit, and then a 4′ x 8′ piece of 1/2″ plywood fit perfectly on the van floor. I topped it with a $20 carpet from Wal mart. I braced the bedframe with lots of L brackets and corner brackets for added strength. I spray painted it black to match my decor. I tacked all the drawer units down with L brackets. I made velcro fasteners for the drawers to hold them shut while traveling. The outside portion was sticky, so covered it with black ribbon with a tiny tab to help grab it for opening.

I had a 6′ thick fold up chair/bed for the bed cushion. I love this thing! It can be a chair, a inclined lounger, and bed, as well as is comfortable and stylish as a couch. Now I can sit on it as a couch and use a drawer unit as a desk. I now have just enough room to navigate and not feel claustrophobic. I have about 10 ” of room behind the drawers, under the bed to put those larger loose things.

There is room for the porta potty, and a stool, towards the back. I have plenty of room to get in and out of the side door, as well as space for the 12v cooler.

These are pics of the basic configuration. Later on, after I have it loaded, we will have to see if it still looks fairly neat and homey…lol. It’s my goal anyways.

The setup empty

The setup empty

kale tub b

kale tub b

kale tub a

kale tub a

Parsley

Parsley

Today is 01/09/2013. I just planted my first plants in the jerryrigged, deep water culture, raft system I have come up with. This is an easy to do setup, minimal expense…as far as hydroponics go anyways.

I make a lot of green energy drinks, and use a lot of parsley, kale, choc. mint, lettuce, besides all the citrus , etc. I’m trying to go raw, as much as possible, but it’s a process. I figured , if i can grow some of the more expensive and most used plants , in an organic, hydroponic way, then I will have the best of nutrients available , and save $$$$.

For the small, simple system I have at this point in time, it should recoup the investment in 3 months, maybe less. This is what I spent:

Good 4 outlet air pump…….$27.95Bag of hydrogen…expanded clay pebbles….$10.99,                                                                                          3 inch net cups….24 @ .42 …$10.08                                                                                                                 air stones……….$6.00                                                                                                                                           25 ft. of air tubing, black…….$5.00                                                                                                                          Plants………………a couple packs and a 6″ parsley plant, I divided……..approx $8

Total…………………………………….$60.10

To buy hydroponic lettuce, and herbs is out of this world in price at the grocery store, and I just won’t do it. $5 a head of lettuce…………..yeah right. But , of course I want the best, so stubborn me decided to do something about it. I watched utube for a month , seeing how other people did their simple systems.

Of course, once I get over the learning curve of making a bell siphon….much like how a toilet works, then I will do a flood and drain system, possibly above my aquarium….utilizing the pump for the aquarium. For now this raft system will do. With the raft system, if requires no water pump…only air. it’s drawbacks are……you have to plant same type plants, so one doesn’t rob another of nutrients, as the roots float in the water. Basically you do it in batches. I wanted to do a batch of lettuce, but could find no packs of lettuce to buy, and the seeds I started are not ready yet.

Sooooo…I did two tubs of kale, and one of parsley. I got the parsley from a well picked 6″ pot I have feasted on for a month. It looks very sad. I cut it up into 5 pieces, and we’ll see if the hydro system revitalizes it.

You have to rinse off all the soil from the plant’s roots, and then plant in the net cups, in the clay pebbles. I used a combination of some ‘tea’ the hydro store people gave me a sample of and some miracle grow liquid to start off. I will make my own ‘tea’ once I find a source of rabbit manure. I plan on making my own concoction with rabbit manure, compost, and some fish water.

I had 3 solid grey tubs, so used them to start. i scrounged cement blocks and three 2 x 4’s in approx 5 ” lengths for the shelf. I spray painted the shelf so it looked like I had a lick off sense, and wasn’t a redneck. Maybe a yuppie redneck…is there such a thing?????  I had styrafoam from my redneck air conditioner project, for the rafts. I did surgery on them with a vicious kitchen knife and cut the holes out with muscle and a wide mouth funnel. I cut a notch off a corner for the air tube to pass through. You have to make it snug, or alaege can grow and upset the apple cart, hydroponocally speaking. You don’t want light to reach the underside, and the air helps to keep ickiness from growing and your roots white.

I hope I did it right……will do weekly updates on the progress.

UPDATE:  Now it’s 04/18/2013…The project is over, and I will be hitting the road for a visit to family in Pa. It was interesting, but i didn’t really have enough light available for it, so plants didn’t thrive as well as I would have liked. Much better to do this sort of thing in a green house.