Tag Archives: rv

Missing in action, but for good reasons!

4 Aug

We spent two weeks camping at the beginning of the summer, and enjoying sunsets like this one every night.

Hello and happy August!

Yes, I know it’s August.

And yes, I know I haven’t posted a blog post in a very long time, and I am here to say that although I have been MIA for a while, it’s been for good reasons and that we are all well!

When school ended at the end of June, we had one week and then we were very lucky to head almost immediately into two weeks of vacation for the first two weeks of July. We took the camper to a state campground right here in our very own state for a much-needed Staycation. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, nor could the location. We had an amazing time enjoying each other, our friends and the treasure that is our home state. So often we feel the need to go away to get away, and although we technically did go away, it was only about a half hour away, but yet we felt as if we were away-away.

We spent two very relaxing weeks reading, resting and getting our energy back from a busy school year, but also getting ourselves ready for a huge kitchen renovation project ahead.

In the meantime, we were getting ourselves ready for a huge project that we’d be in the thick of once we were home from our two weeks. We were going to be finishing up a kitchen renovation project that we started, somewhat unexpectedly, last February 2016.

Our old kitchen was out-dated and in need of pretty much everything.

As a family who does a whole lot of cooking, we have always been frustrated that we had a pretty small, closed in, cramped and out-dated kitchen. In February 2016 we were given a generous gift: all new appliances. We were so excited when they arrived, and we could not wait to use them all. Our old dishwasher hadn’t worked in a couple of years, our old fridge no longer made ice or dispensed water on the door, and our old stove didn’t cook things properly or consistently.

When the delivery guy from the store brought in our new appliances, he commented that the layout of our kitchen, with the stove and fridge so close together, was odd and not usually recommended. The layout had always been this way since the house was built in 1976, and we really had no other options than the way it was, so he put the new ones just as the old ones had been.

What could possibly happen?

What could possibly go wrong?

Within weeks, our new stove was melting the side of our new fridge.

Panic set in as we realized we had to quickly fix the situation. We opted to do a partial renovation of our kitchen last year in order to remedy the problem as best we could at the time. So last April we ripped out one set of cabinets and counter tops and ripped out five layers of flooring in order to move our fridge into a new spot. It meant getting a new tile floor (which we also needed badly) and putting up some new wall covering, and painting. Once we did all of that, we put in some temporary cabinets and a temporary counter top where the fridge used to be and then stopped where we were and took more than a year “off” to regroup, save some money and ready ourselves for the rest of the project.

This always-cluttered back counter and cabinet space would soon be a new home for our new fridge.

This summer our focus was taking down a wall to knee wall height in order to open up our kitchen and dining area a bit, and replacing all of the rest of the kitchen cabinets and counter tops.

We took out a wall to open up our space significantly.

In order to keep costs down, we did all of the demolition ourselves and assembled our kitchen cabinets ourselves too, rather than having our contractor or the cabinet store do any of it for us. I use the words “we” and “us” quite liberally, since I wasn’t the one actually doing a lot of the manual labor. I did my part, emptying and later re-loading the kitchen, and helped with demolition and assembly in any way I could. Even the kids helped out with demolition, happy to put a hammer to a wall and put a hole through it with permission.

As I type this post, we are about 3/4 of the way done. Our demolition was started before we went camping and finished when we returned, and our contractor arrived the very next week to do the work we couldn’t do on our own. That one week was a bit chaotic, although not nearly as bad as I imagined it would be.

Our kitchen was a mix of old and new for more than a year before we continued with our renovation project this summer, knocking down a wall and taking out the rest of the old cabinets.

Now, we are down to waiting for our new counter tops and sink to arrive so that we can stop doing dishes in our bathroom sink and tub.

We still have a lot to do, and I am sure we will be finishing up this project for quite a while, with a tile backsplash still to go in and touch up painting still to be done on the walls and ceiling, but it’ll be more complete than it’s been in a long time, and for that, I am thankful.

Below are some photos of where we are at right now as we are awaiting the arrival of our granite counters and our kitchen sink this weekend.

I will end my post with a promise that I will eventually post again soon, but it may be a little while longer until I do. At least for now, while you wait, you know what I’m doing instead!

A new home for the refrigerator solved our melting problem.

Looking in from the dining room, which we can do now that the wall is gone.

 

 

 

We can hardly remember what it looked like when the wall was there.

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Budget-friendly camping tips from The Penny Hoarder

24 May

Camping on a budget can make you a very happy camper!

It’s the end of May, Memorial Day weekend is just days away. I can almost taste the summertime…if it would just stop raining! We had some hot, 100 degree days last week, and the flip flops and tank tops were out, the sun shining, kids playing in the yard, I could see the lazy days of summer just ahead.

If summertime includes camping for you, as it does for us, you’ll be happy to read the most recent post from The Penny Hoarder’s site, “Get the Vacation You’ve Been Craving on a Budget: Go Camping.” The post contains six tips for budget-friendly travel through camping.

If you’ve been a fan of The Whole Bag of Chips recently, then you know that we purchased a new-to-us camper in 2015 and used it to travel in a budget-friendly manner over the past couple of years, touring the country in 2015 and touring NYC this past spring. We also traveled to Mystic, CT and to Meredith, NH as well as hanging out by the beaches here in the Ocean State in 2015, 2016 and again this coming summer in 2017. Having our own camper is thousands of dollars cheaper than renting a beach house in New England for a week every summer.

I was so thrilled when Lisa Rowan, writer for The Penny Hoarder, reached out to me for some tips to include in their camping post. The only thing that makes me happier than being able to do things because of the fact that we budget, is to be able to help others achieve their own goals by doing things on a budget as well. Stretching a dollar has helped us to achieve so many things, including all of the recent travel that we’ve been doing.

So if you are wishing you could do more traveling, but just don’t have the means, be sure to read the above post, or check out my travel pages #crosscountryadventure2015 and #thecowartstakemanhattan2017 for some tips and tricks for traveling and camping on a budget.

#crosscountryadventure2015: Final Cranston Herald newspaper article

13 Aug

SD to RI quilted map 1So here it is…the last Cranston Herald article about our trip. This is the seventh article in the series of seven, and it will share with you our final week of cross-country adventures. One might think that with so many days of driving in a row and no sightseeing that there might not be much to tell, or many adventures to have, but surprisingly enough, there were many things to share from that last week of travel. It was actually my longest article of the seven. This final article also summarizes our trip and you’ll see how it played out budget-wise as well. I hope you’ve enjoyed the articles! If you’ve missed any you can scroll back through the blog and you’ll find them all posted. Click here to read the last one.

#crosscountryadventure 2015: Into the west and through the Lone Star State

15 Jul

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I’m so excited to post the third article in my travel series which is being run in today’s Cranston Herald. You can read it here.

#crosscountryadventure2015: An early start and a taste of the south

8 Jul
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My friend Gina made us a gorgeous full sized map of the country so that we can mark all the places we've stayed on this trip.

Greetings to you from Louisiana this beautiful Wednesday! We are heading out of Louisiana and towards Texas today as we make our way west. We are now into week two of our adventure, and I’m so excited to share my recap of week one with you in this Cranston Herald article that is in today’s paper.

Have a wonderful week, and stay tuned for more blog posts in between this week’s article and next week’s about planning and preparing for our adventure!

#crosscountryadventure2015: Things we didn’t know we didn’t know

6 Jul
Getting the camper home and into the driveway was just the beginning. There were lots of things we didn't know we needed.

Getting the camper home and into the driveway was just the beginning. There were lots of things we didn’t know we needed.

There is a line from a song in the movie “Pocahontas” that says, “You’ll learn the things you never knew you never knew.”

That line has run through my head continuously over the past three months as we have navigated through rv ownership. We came into this adventure not knowing a ton, but willing to learn and willing to listen to others who have been down this road many times. Each time we’d bump into someone new, they’d tell us something new we had to have.

To that end, there were some expenses we knew we’d have to deal with and some that we were unaware of. Nothing was unbearable, but there was some sticker-shock a couple of times.
Here’s a list of expenses we incurred before this trip, both known and unknown, for those of you considering your own adventures. These expenses are above and beyond the cost of the camper itself and the necessities we got for the inside of the camper when we decorated and stocked it:

1) Towing equipment: we knew our truck had a tow package on it, a tennis ball sized piece that we assumed fit into whatever would be on the actual camper. We didn’t realize we needed an additional weight distribution hitch kit. Cost: $150 on sale, with a coupon at Harbor Freight.
2) Brake controller: this is an additional means of controlling your brakes and the camper brakes from inside the car. Cost $100 self-installed.
3) Registration: we knew we had to register the camper. We didn’t know that to include tax, title and registration, it’d cost us as much as several weeks’ worth of groceries. Peanut butter and jelly for a month. Cost: $364
4) Getting the wheel bearings packed: we have a great mechanic who comes to our house and is extremely reasonable. When our neighbor drove by and called out his window, “Be sure to get your wheel bearings packed and your brakes checked,” we called our mechanic. Cost $127
5) Vin Check: Getting it checked wasn’t expensive, but getting the camper into the place where that had to be done was a little touch and go. Cost: $15
6) EZ Pass: A “must” for the roadtrip. We used our AAA membership to get it and it came loaded up with a starter amount of toll money on it. Cost: $50
7) Passport America Membership: Another “must” for the roadtrip. This membership gives you a network of campgrounds to stay at and a discount on their nightly rates. Cost: $44
8) Good Sam Membership: Another networking type of membership. The campsites that don’t accept Passport America often accept Good Sam. Cost: $25

#crosscountryadventure2015: The back story

1 Jul

Today’s an exciting day! Our local newspaper has posted the first article chronicling our cross country adventure!

To read the article which tells about our journey before the journey, be sure to click on this link.

Each week The Cranston Herald will publish a new article about our adventures, but in between I will add additional posts to the blog as well. Be sure to follow along!

Watch for updates along the way!

Watch for updates along the way!