Category Archives: Florida

In Search of New Directions

I’ve been working on a few things, which I’ll talk about, but mostly I’ve been trying to figure out what I want/need to do at this point. Despite still enjoying myself immensely, I realize that I need to do more in terms of generating an income. Unfortunately, I have developed an aversion to working for someone else, and my creativity is screaming for an outlet (not literally, of course. . . I’m not hearing voices — yet). So my internet research has been ramped up in my quest for the next big thing in my life.

The New Addiction

I’m exploring my options, and having a darned good time doing it, but I have a confession to make first: I’ve become a Pinterest addict! The major problem with that addiction is that it takes hours out of my day that I could be doing something more productive [?]. I’m looking into making my own cleaning and beauty supplies, new ways of creating artwork, new recipes to try, and things to do to make my RV more liveable — none of which can be used immediately to generate an income.

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My newest addiction!

My rationalization is that I’m working toward an epiphany (can you actually ‘work toward’ that, or is it something that just hits you like a lightening bolt?). At the very least, I’ll end up with new blog topics. . .

 

 

 

 

A Direction Without Chemicals, the DIY way

My first foray into the world of DIY stuff was body wash. It’s what I was getting low on, and I wanted to try out something that might make a visible difference in me. I couldn’t find a recipe for body wash that contained what I had, so I winged it (first mistake). I had heard about putting Ivory soap in a microwave and watching it blow up, so I stuck a couple of bars in the microwave on a paper towel (in lieu of grating them). They didn’t blow up, but they did do some very interesting lava-like things, and I was then able to put them into water to start my body wash.

I had a recipe for basic body wash, but I decided to jazz it up a bit, like adding different types of oils (coconut oil, olive oil, castor oil, Vitamin E oil, etc.), and of course some essential oils (lavender, tea tree).  There was a reason for adding everything (better lather, more moisturizing capabilities, antibacterial properties), but I think my ratios were off, because I ended up with what I would term a ‘snotty mess.’ Definitely not something you want to put on your body! So I began trying to fix the mess, which involved adding copious amounts of water.

A snotty mess. . .
A snotty mess. . .

Now, I should mention here that I ended up with a gallon and a half of body wash initially. I gave my neighbor the half gallon to try, with a request that she share her impressions with me after she used the body wash. Two days later, she told me that she had tried the body wash the night before, with less than desirable results. First of all, she told me, the body wash wouldn’t come out of the bottle. Major problem, to my mind. She described squeezing the bottle to put some on her shower puff, only to have it retreat back into the bottle  when she stopped squeezing it. And, she added, it didn’t lather — at all! So I asked her whether she liked the scent, at least, to which she replied, “not so much.” And the ‘snottiness’ had grossed out her husband.

Back to the drawing board. . . I took my gallon of body wash and made a gallon and a half by adding water. This resulting in it being so thin it just slid off my hands in the shower, and there was no evidence of soap in the mixture at all! Okay, so I added glycerin, which I’ve heard both gives the body wash actual body, and contributes to lather (which it completely lacks). Still no go, and I’m now using my shampoo for washing everything in the shower! It would have been better just to buy body wash, even with chemicals. . .

So my next foray will be into making my own body wash using lye, from scratch! Maybe I’ll be able to turn this new direction into revenue at some point. I suspect I need to make the acquaintance of a chemist, to help me with the formulation of my concoctions; at the very least, I need to research the properties of the various oils and other ingredients so I can create something better than what’s out there. Something that actually lathers (without using harmful chemicals) would be nice, for example. New learning experience — yippee!

The best thing I found in my research, though, was something called Detox Deodorant, and it is great! Here’s the link to the recipe — and I highly recommend it: http://bodyunburdened.com/diy-all-natural-detoxifying-deodorant/. It passed the sniff test even after a day, and you’ll notice if you take in too many toxins that it really does detoxify (not so nice after overindulging one night, I noticed. . .).

Detoxifying deodorant
Detoxifying deodorant looks worse than it is

The biggest problem with it — particularly in Florida — is that it is made from coconut oil, which provides its thickness, and when it gets over 75 degrees or so, it becomes a liquid. So I actually have to pay attention to the temperature after my shower to keep from spilling my deodorant — how many people can say that? It got high marks from my neighbor, by the way.

In addition to the detox deo, I’ve also started trying things to get my mouth in shape. Besides the brushing and flossing, I’ve added oil pulling, a practice begun in India. It’s apparently experiencing a resurgence in popularity (since I discovered it I see blogs about it everywhere) and I have to say, with no dental insurance in sight, it’s something I can afford to do that gets high marks among adherents. I can’t honestly say I’ve noticed the ‘incredible’ results others have, but my teeth do look whiter, and my mouth feels cleaner (except when I have a spoonful of coconut oil in it). . . I guess it can’t hurt.

The other ‘product’ I’ve started using is a remineralizing mouthwash, which has calcium and trace minerals in it. This is a recent addition to my routine, so I can’t really comment on its effectiveness. I use it after the oil pulling, and it does help to get the coconut slime out of my mouth after oil pulling. This sounds a lot grosser than it really is, and no, I haven’t stopped shaving or anything (for those of you who think I’ve gone completely au naturel). If anyone would like to try out the remineralizing mouthwash, I found it on Pinterest, but here is the actual URL for it: http://www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2013/09/homemade-mouthwash-recipe-for-whitening-and-remineralizing.

Remineralizing mouthwash
Remineralizing mouthwash — hope it works!

Lots Going On

Lately, I’ve had a ridiculous amount of things going on in my life, so I haven’t felt I could take the time to blog (a friend’s website to build, a fuel pump to get replaced, an RV to wash, a book to write). With my list of to-dos dwindling, I hope to get back to blogging soon — there’s so much to write about!

To my friends and family in the north, stay safe and warm! And feel free to get away from it all by coming to visit — you’re always welcome, you know.

The featured picture is a local band I saw down the street from my RV.

 

 

 

 

Observations On My First Year In My RV

I just realized I missed my one-year anniversary! I’ve actually been living in my RV for a full year now, and I thought I should commemorate that milestone with a post. So here it is. . .

What I’ve learned over the year

When I first started out on this journey, I was ecstatic — about everything! I was in love with Florida, with the idea of living and traveling in an RV, and with my life in general. I remember vividly the day I picked up my new (to me) class C. I had to wait for the techs to install the tow package on my car so I could tow it behind the RV, and I just sat at the dinette inside the unit with the sun shining in through the window, feeling so completely at home.

I now recognize that my excitement at the beginning of my adventure was as much due to naivety as to the incredible freedom I felt. For example, I’m not so in love with Florida now; although it does feel like  home, it’s not the paradise I felt it was when I first arrived. There is probably no such thing as paradise, and it’s about time I learned that! I have since discovered that in Florida there’s too much traffic, food prices are too high, and I probably can’t get health insurance. Still, I live less than a mile from the coast, I can go to the ocean (gulf) anytime I want, and the weather is a definite improvement over what I left. There’s a lot to be said for that. . .

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Can’t beat the view. . .

As for living in the RV, I have loved it! It’s my little house on wheels, and it suits me. There are negatives, of course: I have a chronically-overfilled refrigerator, storage areas that are bulging at the seams, and important items that I still can’t locate quickly (if at all). It’s not for everyone, but it works for me. I will probably end up in a stix and brix again someday, but for now, I’m working on making over my RV and thoroughly enjoying myself. It has become my home, and I’m completely comfortable living in it.

And I still love my life. I wake up in the mornings and feel excitement about the day, as I have from the beginning of this year in my RV. It helps that I’ve developed a bit of ADD; there’s no predicting where the day will end up when I flit from thought to thought, project to project, goal to goal, so the uncertainty adds to the fun. On the other hand, sometimes the uncertainty contributes to a bit of depression, which I rarely experience these days but it does happen. Since I’ve been here, I’ve tried to live in the moment, but I recognize that an uncertain future doesn’t lend itself to such a carefree attitude. So when I start feeling lost and depressed, I stick my head back in the sand (figuratively, although I could literally do that!) and I’m good again.

Observations about RVers

I was initially apprehensive about having to drive the RV, but I knew I could do it; confidence is everything! After I picked up my RV from the dealer, I headed out to an RV park I had found that was fairly close to the dealership, in case anything went wrong the first week or so. Because of a couple of wrong turns (which are a bigger deal in a 40′ vehicle — including the tow car — than in a car or truck), I arrived at the park as it was getting dark, so I had to back into my site for the first time in less-than-ideal circumstances.

Fortunately, as I discovered that night, RVers are a very helpful bunch, and my neighbors helped me get situated (i.e., properly oriented to the amenities: sewer, electric, and water). I have found this to be the case wherever I go. As I’m backing in to a site, invariably someone comes over to help, probably, in part, because I’m solo and female, but also because everyone likes to help a newbie. It’s comforting to know that I’m never out here alone, and the rest of the population could take a lesson from RVers.

I like to compare RVers to pioneers. They tend to be a hardier, more self-sufficient bunch, and they are not content to just sit back and watch the world go by.  This lifestyle (fulltime RVing, that is) requires constant resourcefulness, adaptation and learning, which I am convinced is the key to longevity — or, at least, the key to keeping one’s brainpower intact for the duration.

What’s been accomplished this year

Well. . . I have managed for the past year to live fulltime in an RV. That in itself feels like quite an accomplishment, but wait — there’s more!

I worked as a camp host at Fort De Soto for four months, which demonstrated that I could still get up for work in the morning, put in my hours, and come home and die afterwards — just like I used to! It was a fantastic experience, though, and I met a lot of great people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I got to enjoy an extended stay at a beautiful park which I actually could not have afforded for more than a weekend, and I learned I could amuse myself for four months without having someone else there with me.

I have also been making improvements to my ‘home,’ including installing new vent covers on all four vents/fans on the roof, replacing all the 12-volt lights in the RV with LED bulbs (for greater energy efficiency), and pulling out all of the carpet and putting down vinyl planks. I just (today) installed the quarter round with my new brad nailer to finish it off. It looks great, and I love the new floor. I feel like I might have a new career in carpentry (and I know my brother is shaking his head at that prospect)! I’ve also begun reupholstering my dinette seating with vinyl (easier to clean), without a sewing machine [see reference above to resourcefulness]. The dinette is still a work in progress.

Finished floor!
Finished floor!

 

 

 

 

 

Dinette before...
Dinette before…
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Dinette after

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The accomplishments are as important for what I learned from them as they are for the improvements made. Most importantly, I have learned to rely on myself more, and consequently I have renewed confidence in my ability to figure things out and get things done. This leads me to the most important thing I’ve learned this year, which is to feel grateful for what I have and what I am able to do. I would venture to say it is the single most important thing anyone can do to improve their outlook on life. Slowing down and [literally and figuratively] smelling the roses is the best way to recognize what there is to be grateful for.

What about the second year?

I am not as confident about this year as I was the last, having learned that RVing is not necessarily a cheaper way to live. So I have a home on wheels that is paid for. . . I still have to pay to park it somewhere! And it is much more expensive to stay connected on the road — a cell phone with good reception and reliable internet connectivity are required for most RVers who have left their family/support systems behind. Still, I have no intention of giving up this lifestyle just yet.

So, my next task is to generate some income. I have a few irons in the fire (well, maybe a couple), but I’m particularly interested in location-independent employment. I would love to be able to actually travel in my RV, which was my first reason for wanting to live in one. So far, I’ve traveled within a 40-mile radius on Florida’s Gulf coast, which does not exactly qualify me to call myself a traveler. . .  My first big trip will be this summer, when I head back north for a few months to spend time with my family and be available to welcome my twin grandchildren into the world!

In short, it’s been a magical first year in my RV, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the second year brings — new directions, new experiences, and new growth! Hopefully, I’ll get back to posting more often, since I have a lot of interesting creativity going on that I’d like to talk about . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

More RV Doings

While I have written several drafts over the past couple of months, I haven’t posted any. Sorry for my absence from the blog for so long. It seems I can’t manage to write anything after a trip away from here (the last being my trip to Sedona to see my dad in September!).

After four months in Fort De Soto as a camp host, I was ready for a break from the heat and the dramatic increase in socialization that I get in a place with lots of friends surrounding me.

My Current Status

So I am now in Dunedin, which is my favorite place to be, and I’ve been very busy, as you’ll see. There have been issues, including the second flat tire on my car, even though I put on all new tires in the past year. And the latest was the demise of my convection microwave after cooking an 11-pound turkey in it! Those problems were solved, fortunately, but it’s getting more difficult (i.e., expensive) to solve problems easily. Which brings me to the dilemma I’m facing: how to sustain my lifestyle while having a lifestyle to sustain.

I’ve looked into several options for working online, which I could do anywhere. The most promising of those is doing transcription, but it’s difficult to break into that field if you haven’t done it for a while; the last time I did transcription was medical transcription in the early 2000s. Another option is writing — whether copywriting, proofing, editing, etc. The most obvious problem with that option is that I’m just now writing a new blog two months after the previous one.

My friend in Largo and I are discussing starting a photography business, in which we photograph anything that can be photographed (with the exception of large weddings — neither of us is interested in that headache). We also want to sell our photographs as artwork, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. So, how to begin? Clearly, I’ll need something else to make money with while the business gets established.

Home Improvement!

In the meantime, I’ve been busy changing things out in the RV. I’ve hated my carpet from the time I moved in. It was 12 years old, and I couldn’t even tell what color it had been (although I could tell that I wouldn’t have liked it in any shade!). So I decided to take care of it by ripping it all out — the carpet and the old vinyl — and replacing it with flooring I’d heard about through several other RVer blogs. I started ripping it out a few weeks ago, shortly after I arrived in Dunedin, and I did it fairly quickly so I couldn’t change my mind. No turning back now!

Bad pic of my living room with carpet and vinyl
Bad pic of my living room with carpet and vinyl
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Can’t take the carpet out of everywhere, so leaving it!
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Near the front of the RV, a work in progress
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A better view of the mess I’m living with
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My stairwell — still not quite sure what to do with it
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My new toilet, and haven’t pulled up the vinyl yet
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The mess in my bedroom, but no more carpet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I noticed immediately that I preferred the particle board floors to the carpeted ones, so I was on the right track. . . I purchased the flooring — Allure, in bamboo — and put it on the floor in the RV to acclimate (it needs 24-48 hours for this, at 65 degrees or above, so I had to run my furnace since the temperature had dropped to nearly 25 degrees overnight). While I waited, I kept pulling carpeting and staples out (seemingly an unending chore).

As soon as I could, I started laying the flooring, and immediately ran into a problem: my floors weren’t straight, nor were the walls, my bedframe, or anything else in the RV. I spent a full day trying to get the planks lined up properly next to my bed, afraid to move beyond that area for fear I’d have a crooked floor throughout the RV. (Note to self: use a chalk line if you ever decide to do something like this again).

On the second day, I moved beyond the bedroom and into the hallway — progress! Unfortunately, again, I had difficult cuts to make and some tricky piecing-together to do. Another day down, and I had laid flooring only around the shower area — just a foot from the foot of my bed. . . By the third day, I worked exclusively on a single area — just under my refrigerator — on a single board to fit the weird jogs in the floor while trying to make it look seamless.

I realized that I was being way too picky about the floor, and at this rate I’d finish sometime in January, having to live with a mess for a couple of months. My desire to ensure everything lined up perfectly was making me physically ill (I ended up with debilitating headaches a couple of nights in a row), so I got online to see if there was something to fill the cracks that were cropping up between the planks in the floor to make them less obvious. I found a product that was ostensibly sold at Home Depot, called a seam filler, and I gave myself permission to just forge ahead — perfectly-aligned seams be damned!

Once I decided the floor didn’t have to be perfect, it went much faster. I was still running into areas that had weird cuts to be made, but I was getting much better at trimming and fitting them in. In fact, I was getting really good at it! Buoyed by my progress, I went to Home Depot to get the seam filler and pick up the quarter round I’ll need to finish off the floor, but I found out that the seam filler doesn’t exist, apparently. I’m not sure who propagated the rumor that it did, but Home Depot hadn’t heard of it, and there’s not even any evidence of it on the manufacturer’s website. So much for the internet’s reliability (uh-huh) . . . And I didn’t get the quarter round because what I wanted was $32 per 94″ board — ouch! I have to think about that some more. . . I came home with a little saw-like took to cut out the trim for the floor to fit underneath and several tubes of silicone caulk that I plan to use to seal the perimeter of the floor — oh, and a new hammer, since I can’t find mine anymore.

A week later, I’m nearly finished (or so I tell myself), with just the area under the slide and the stairwell to go. I attempted to caulk around the shower, and what a disaster that was. I can’t use a caulk gun to save my life, so I ended up with caulk everywhere except where I wanted it (might have to hire that one out). . . I’ve also been searching for things online to finish off the floor — quarter round, transition strips, etc. — but haven’t found exactly what I’m looking for (and the budget took a hit with the $300 convection microwave replacement).  My biggest fear at this point is that I’ll leave the floor unfinished, knowing my tendency to put uncomfortable things off indefinitely.

Here’s where I’ve left off for the time being (with Thanksgiving cropping up at such an inconvenient time):

Bedroom and hallway
Bedroom and hallway
Living room (messy!)
Living room (messy!)
Throne room
Throne room (still need to figure out what to do with the platform)
Living room close-up
Living room close-up
By the cabinets
By the cabinets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the look so far! I really hated that carpet, and this looks and feels so much cleaner (even with the gaps). My work is cut out for me, but I’m confident I’ll get it done . . . someday.

I hope to be able to write about some trips I’ve made since September in upcoming blogs, including a trip with my friend to Sanibel/Captiva Island, and a solo trip to Egmont Key on a ferry from Fort De Soto. Hopefully next week?