Living Large In Small Spaces

People are often shocked to hear that we live (well) in less than 200 square feet but living in a small space doesn’t mean sacrificing conveniences or simple luxuries. At the same time, we don’t want tax the environment in our quest to save time.

Some of the simplest changes can greatly reduce the amount of trash you produce. The kitchen is a great place to start if you’re looking to reduce your environmental footprint. Here are a few of our favorite things.

Tall-Food-Scrap-Bag-2-RGBWe do our dishes with dish rags instead of disposable sponges and find it to be way more sanitary, as well as greener.

We also use cloth napkins, and paper towels do not exist on the Goodship. For spills and cleaning, we use terrycloth rags. Not only does it reduce paper consumption, which is staggering in the U.S. (some numbers here) but they are sturdy and do a better job.

The small amount of trash we do produce goes into BioBags biodegradable trash bags.

small-whiskey-rocks-set-of-12For the drinkers out there, stainless steel straws and whiskey rocks are awesome! No more watered down drinks on those sunny days. If you prefer ice, silicone ice cube trays don’t crack like the plastic ones that you wind up replacing every year.

We recently realized that our recycling bin looked like a club soda graveyard so we bought a¬†Purefizz soda maker. It’s way smaller than the Soda Stream and no more plastic bottles!

6b5d0a8f3e0caa37eff0e0ce211c8abd4d28d5eb942afc86e7ae1752f6ed8ecfMy favorite space saver in the kitchen are our stackable stainless steel pots and pans. They fit easily in the storage ottoman with our pressure canner. Yes, we have a 16-quart pressure canner in an RV.

We make use batches of veggie broth and plan to start canning all kinds of yummy food! See? It’s all about priorities in a small space and for us, quality homemade food is at the top of the list.

shoppingBy far the most-used appliance¬†in our kitchen is the food processor, albeit, a small one. This Ninja does surprisingly good job on hummus and cashew cheese and it’s pretty much my best friend…and we’ll be giving one away!

We also love to make homemade chips in addition to the pounds of veggies we prep with our mandoline slicer. It stores flat and is a must-have for anyone who loves to cook.

Living on wheels doesn’t have to mean eating off paper plates and cooking with one pot.¬†It’s all about making the most of the space you have.

If you want to remember any of the things I listed, download Wunderlist! It’s an awesome app that lets you share grocery and ToDo lists with others, eliminating paper lists and notes.

Have a beautiful day, friends!

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The Big Decision: Class A or Fifth-Wheel?

We glazed over our decision to go with a fifth-wheel over a Class A, but it is worthy of its own post since there are so many factors to consider.

The main downfall of a Class A for us was briefly mentioned in the last blog. If there is a major mechanical issue, our home goes into the shop and we have to pack up & find someplace to stay in the meantime. We couldn’t really get comfortable with that possibility so it was the driving force in our decision to tow.

  • Accessibility
    • We won’t be on the road a majority of the year at this point,¬†so if¬†we¬†had a Class A our motor would sit and waste away.
    • We have a small car for city driving already since we are still living the city life…to an extent.
    • We need a truck.
      • Trips for building & gardening supplies.
      • Once¬†we buy land and need to make improvements, we have a beast of a truck¬†to help us out.
      • We want a boat!
      • We might also want a rescue animal trailer…just in case!
  • Cost
    • All of the Class As we saw that were up to our quality standards and had a layout we could make work (and no leather) were $65,000 and up. Ouch!
    • Class As also come with higher maintenance costs.¬†Having¬†a fifth-wheel with no engine and no slides, the likelihood of there being an issue so major we can’t fix it (or have it fixed) where we’re parked is much lower.
    • Knowing that we would still need a truck in addition to the RV, a Class A¬†wasn’t a cost-effective choice for us.

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  • Space
    • One of the primary reasons we decided we didn’t want slides was because it was an unnecessary addition to maintenance costs. Class As with no slides, furnished with standard¬†RV¬†furniture felt very cramped to us.
    • Since we opted for a toy-hauler the interior space was easy to customize so we have a comfortable living space with room to move around. Here is the Goodship empty (the ladder latches to the ceiling):

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While it took us some time to work through the pros and cons, it was definitely worth the time. We couldn’t be happier with our decision and the truck is a huge asset for us on this path to freedom.

We would love to hear what¬†the deciding factors were for other RVers as everyone’s needs are so varied. Happy travels, folks!

By Jessica Caviness

Going Small ~ A Three Part Love Story ~ Part Three

Part Three ~ Movin’ Out!¬†

Here we are having donated enough items to partially clothe and furnish half of the San Fernando Valley (okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration) it’s time to get serious about this downsizing plan. Tiny living in a big city is not as easy as one might imagine. Where do we even begin? This…is the guts and glory of the story so stick with me.

Step one for us was deciding what type of RV would be best suited to our lifestyle. Class A RVs can be high-end and beautifully furnished, but they come with a huge downfall…an engine. What happens when there are major mechanical issues? Do you put your “home” in the shop for a week and live in a motel? How would that even work logistically? In addition to that, you have to tow a smaller vehicle to get around in the city to shop and take care of day-to-day activities. When we move off-grid, we will definitely need a truck to get building supplies. A truck and fifth-wheel it is.

Years ago I saw a picture of the Airstream SkyDeck and fell head over heels in love. And then I saw the price tag and came to terms with the fact that this particular rolling home was nothing but a dream. That is¬†until we were perusing Craig’s List and came across the StarDeck! It was absolutely perfect. Not only did it have a rooftop deck but a second bed for when my son comes home. It is a toy hauler so easily customized to fit our needs as opposed to other types of RVs that have all built-in furniture. (More on the Goodship in a future post.)

Although we had already bought it in our minds, we took a drive down the next day to take a look. It was previously a demo model so we got a fabulous deal and purchased it on the spot…having no way to tow it and nowhere to store it. Luckily, the seller was willing to let us store it there until we formulated any sort of a plan. It was everything we needed and just big enough to make me feel confident we would be comfortable. It was too good to pass up. We will call it The Goodship and it will be home.

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We drove away and immediately realized what we were doing. It was happening and it was happening fast. We had to at a very minimum get a truck to tow it….NOW! We had a few things working against us in this search for a truck:

  1. We knew nothing about trucks.
  2. We knew nothing about towing.
  3. It had to be strong enough to tow a minimum of 9,800 pounds. That’s the weight of the Goodship empty.
  4. It could not have leather seats. Good luck!!
  5. It had to be newer than 2004 to be financed.
  6. It had to be under 100,000 miles to be financed.
  7. We were on a tight budget having just purchased the Goodship.

We came across an amazing service called Lemon Squad. You can order an inspection online and have an inspector go out to a dealer or private seller and do a full inspection for you. They arrange the inspection time, enter the report online, and email you detailed results. The inspector went beyond the call of duty and taught us a great deal about towing vehicles. I swear we don’t get a commission¬†for recommending them, but they saved us from making a very big mistake.

On the second vehicle we had inspected we found a winner. A 2007 Dodge 3500 Quad Cab dually with no leather and a suitable hitch! When we ordered the inspection the sellers didn’t show the truck to any other potential buyers because they could tell we were serious. A very kind gesture, indeed. We bought it from the nicest family who like Lemon Squad, went above and beyond to teach us about the truck. It was slightly more than we wanted to pay, but this was a choice involving safety. We will call him Grux and he will carry our home for us.

We mentally offset the guilt of buying a large diesel truck with the fact that moving into the fifth-wheel reduces our consumption far beyond the impact of the truck. The Saturn is the primary vehicle, anyway.

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As soon as we purchased the Goodship we posted an ad on Craig’s List looking for a place near work to park it. It was up for about three months prior to us finding the truck and we got zero responses. Literally two days after finding the truck we got three responses to the ad! If that isn’t the Universe working for you I, don’t know what is. One of those three responses was exactly what we were looking for. It even had RV hook-ups already!

We sent our 30 day notice to our current landlord and started getting ready to move into the Goodship. Our landlord was gracious and understanding and the move went off without a hitch (pun!). We picked up the Goodship and rolled into our new space and with the help of our amazing new landlord, immediately made it home.

By Jessica Caviness

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Going Small ~ A Three Part Love Story ~ Part Two

Part Two ~ Downsizing Our Lives 

Have you ever stopped to take inventory of your possessions? Have you taken the time to thoughtfully look at the things around you and ask yourself if they add joy to or simplify your life in any way? I have always been fascinated by hoarders. Me, being the opposite in that I have no issues reducing clutter, donating things I no longer need¬†or stopping an impulse buy in it’s tracks. ¬†But¬†regardless of all of that, I realized I still had an abundance of stuff. Stuff that added no value to my life. This realization became even more apparent when I entered a relationship with the King of No Stuff. Clothes & books were really all he had and it was kind of refreshing.

As I took inventory I started to really question myself. AM I a hoarder? Why do I have six serving bowls? Do I really need five sheet sets? And as I looked deeper I realized I had feelings attached to all of these things I held on to. I had nice dishes, and everyday dishes…because I’m a grown-up now and I need fancy dishes in case I have a holiday meal at my house¬†or even a dinner party. What would people think if I served them on my everyday dishes? After a lot of soul-searching, I came to the answer. People are concerned with the company (and likely the food), not what dishes I serve them on. Seems simple enough a concept, that people are there to spend time with you and not your dishes but even people who are not generally materialistic do things “for show” without even thinking twice about it.

The first big sweep came¬†when I went vegan. ¬†Out went the leather, the silk, the wool. The number of shoes and purses was obscene. I looked at the pile of things I once loved and all I saw was death. I know that may sound dramatic to some, but it’s true. How many animals lost their lives so that I could decorate myself? I felt sick. Rather than those lives being taken in vain by me tossing the death-wear in the trash, I donated it all. ¬†Off it went and it felt good. Actually, it felt great! Not only do I now have a compassionate closet¬†but also a deeper sense of accountability for my choices than I had before.

After the first closet sweep¬†and my son moving out unexpectedly, everything in my life started to feel excessive. I continued to rid my closet of an additional six lawn bags (yes, the huge black ones) of apparel. Housewares came next. I donated more and more until we had only enough to live comfortably. Nothing more, nothing less. For the first time, our¬†dream of moving into an RV and having the freedom to roll our¬†lives anywhere we¬†wanted seemed possible. It’s truly amazing how stuff¬†creates an emotional weight that you don’t even realize you carry. It’s paralyzing in its own way. For us, shedding stuff translates to¬†fewer chores, lower bills, and more freedom.

Off we go!

(Cue theme song)

By Jessica Caviness New Camera 039

Going Small ~ A Three Part Love Story ~ Part One

Part One ~ The Awakening

It’s not the most comforting feeling to wake up one day and realize that everything you have been working towards is light years away from where your true joy lies. But it happens. And it happened to me about seven years ago. I wanted a second child. I wanted to purchase another home. I wanted to climb the ladder. I wanted all of the things that I had been told would make me “successful”. And I was getting them! But the more those goals were realized, the less fulfilled I felt.

I started to do the math. An average house in Los Angeles is over $400,000. With a 30 year loan that is $2,000+ a month on the mortgage alone. That’s not including insurance, property taxes, and all of the other lovely expenses that come with being a homeowner.

And then there is upkeep. Not only would I have a huge pile of bills chipping away at my bank account and more importantly, my entertainment fund, but who will take care of the house? Surely with a $2,000+ mortgage I won’t have much left over for a housekeeper or gardener. Then who? Ding, ding, ding! Me, that’s who!

In comes that sinking feeling in my stomach when I imagine of having all those bills and working for pretty much the rest of my life to pay them. So, let me get this straight…I’m supposed to bust my ass 40+ hours a week working to pay for a home that I will likely be paying off the rest of my life and spending all of my free time cleaning and gardening? Where is the real benefit over renting if I won’t own the house outright until I’m over 60? Where is the light at the end of the tunnel? Where does the joy of retirement come in? Social Security is certainly not going to cover bills of this magnitude.

This image of my future not only didn’t appeal to me but quite frankly scared the crap out of me. It all felt SO WRONG. Thanks for the offer, but I think I’ll pass on your “success”. So, now what?

By Jessica Caviness

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