Category Archives: FAQ

FAQ #9- Can you really sew in your RV?

Since I just purchased a new fancy-schmancy sewing machine (oy, the indulgence of it all), I thought I’d answer this question that was posed a while back by one of you’all –
If you sew in an RV … you have to clean up your mess and put everything away each and every time you sew! That is too awful! How do you manage that? I have a sewing/embroidery machine combo plus a serger. Six thread boards (and that doesn’t count the bins full of overlock cone thread!). Ironing board and iron. Drawers filled with supplies and tools. Two coffin-size plastic bins filled with fabric hanks and scraps. And you really sew in an RV?
Well, the simple answer is – Yes, you really can sew in an RV. You can also knit, crochet, make jewelry, design cards, scrapbook, or even paint. Almost any hobby that you love doing you can do in an RV. It’s just going to look a bit different. And probably on a smaller scale.
For example, instead of a design wall, you have a bed –
BOM Jan 13
I’ve laid out a good many quilts on that design bed.
Instead of a free standing ironing board, you might choose this approach –
It’s pretty portable, so you can always move it when you need to make lunch.
The cutting table and the sewing space – well, share and share alike, I always say!
And when the computer chair isn’t being used for overflow supplies, it can also double as the table extension when you’re working on an extra large project.
Of course, there are always some storage issues in any hobby. Sewing/quilting is no exception. We’ve taken the space that could have housed a washer/dryer and built in deep sturdy drawers with a sliding tray at the bottom.
(Supplies – recently organized)
(Fabric – not so recently organized)
The thread lives on the wall, and the bins on the floor hold (you guessed it) more fabric and supplies. Not pictured are the two “under bed” size containers in the closet and any number of boxes of odds and end (fabric, batting, t-shirts waiting to be made into a quilt, etc.) under the bed. And sometimes, the little bit of counter space that I have in the bedroom also falls prey to a bit of overflow sewing stuff.
(Don’t judge me, it’s a flat surface after all!)
While some folks have managed to carve out a designated sewing area in their RV’s, (check out this post from a fellow quilting RVer) I have not figured out just where that spot would be. Pretty much, when I’m sewing, the whole RV is sewing!
And yes, I do need to tidy up at the end of each sewing day in order for us to actually eat dinner. But I really only need to put it ALL away before we move the house down the road. If I know that our life is going to be very busy, I just don’t get the machine out.  I wait until I see a quiet weekend ahead, have leftovers in the fridge (or know it’s time for a pizza night) and THEN I get out the machine and start a small sewing blitz.  It also helps to have a patient husband. As long as he can find a spot for a nap, we’re usually good!

I like to think that quilting/sewing (painting, beading, knitting, scrapbooking, whatever hobby makes you happy) in an RV is like eating frozen yogurt.  As long as you don’t think it’s going to taste like Blue Bell ice cream, you’ll like it just fine!

FAQ # 8 – Stuff

What did you do with all your stuff? I can’t even begin to think about sorting through all these years of “Stuff”.

Man, did we have some stuff!
Before we lived in our 300 sq. ft. house on wheels,
we lived here.
3500+ square feet of stuff. We’d lived in that old house for almost 25 years and trust me, you can accumulate a lot of Stuff in that many years. We had kid stuff, collectible stuff, Mom’s stuff, Grandma’s stuff, sewing stuff, tool stuff, old stuff and new stuff. Fortunately, I had over five years from the first mention of this adventure to the day that we actually took off, so I was able to get a head start with the liquidation of the Stuff.
Here’s how it worked for us.
Every Spring (and then sometimes in the Fall, too)I would have a yard sale, getting rid of the easy stuff. You know, those placemats you never really liked and that ceramic statue your favorite aunt gave you that never quite made it out to a shelf. For me it was kind of like peeling an onion. Every year I would just get rid of another layer of stuff. If it didn’t sell, it wasn’t allowed back in the house – off to the local thrift shop it went. Each year that went by, more stuff moved into the “do I really need this?” pile and less stuff remained in the “must keep” pile. Oh, I made sure that the kids got what they wanted (not to mention all their old report cards and other early years memorabilia) and that precious family heirlooms were distributed appropriately.  With the exception of a couple of pieces of furniture we left for our house sitters to use, by the time we hit the road in 2004 we had boxed up our remaining “must keep” stuff and had everything contained in one small room in the back of the house. The “For Sale” sign was firmly in place (of course, it had been there for a while without much action), we’d kept (what we thought were) the essentials and we were on our way.
We returned to PA after a year with a new understanding of our adventure. Instead of this being a one or two year adventure, after which we would purchase a small house and go back to work, we realized we didn’t want to have an “expiration” date on this journey. So I went through all those boxes and had one final Yes-this-is-the-good-Stuff yard sale. The last of the furniture went to family and friends, and we whittled down our “keeper” boxes to about 15. The house still hadn’t sold, but I wanted it to be as ready as possible, so we moved those last boxes into a small unused space in a friend’s basement.
A couple of years later (remember, no known expiration date) we moved those boxes to our son’s house in Ohio. And every year or so, during a visit, we’d pull out a box and see just what still needed to be kept.
And finally this year we did one last purge and moved the remaining Stuff to our daughter’s basement. (Here’s a tip – have someone from the next generation go through the piles of pictures you’ve kept and decide which ones to keep. After all, they’re the ones that will get the task later down the road!). When all was said and done, we had condensed our stuff into this –
It only took us 10 years, plus those five to start with, but I think we’ve done pretty well.

Full Disclosure – just because we’ve condensed our ‘previous lifetime’ into 3 plastic tubs and a cardboard box (and the box is headed to the cabin!) that doesn’t mean we’ve actually conquered the “stuff” battle. Whether it’s 3500 sq. ft or 300, stuff just accumulates. We try to stick to the one in-one out (or one in-two out) rule, but a quick peek at the under bed storage compartment will tell the tale.
And no – there will not be a picture of that!

Thanks for stopping by!


FAQ # 7

How do you manage to drive your house without it all becoming a mess? Don’t things fall over or slide around? 
Actually, when we drive down the road our house has a better than average chance of being quite tidy! While Gary is busy outside the rig bringing in the awnings and disconnecting the water, sewer, and electric lines, I’m busy battening down the inside. For a couple of days before we set out I’ve been slowly putting away stuff. Like the sewing machine (and accompanying accessories), clean laundry that hasn’t quite made it to the drawers, you know – that kind of stuff. It’s kind of like what you do when you’re expecting company. Tidy, tidy, tidy. The only difference is when I’m done tidying, then I start latching things.

GettingReadytoGo-1 GettingReadytoGo-2
Doors The Pantry
GettingReadytoGo-3 GettingReadytoGo-4
The spice rack. This one’s easy to miss, but boy, when those spice bottles start flying, you remember! All snugged in and ready to go!
GettingReadytoGo-5 GettingReadytoGo-6
This might look like just a built in microwave. But actually it’s home to our trusty toaster oven when we’re driving down the road. (Which is also home to a couple of items.  Nesting, friends, it’s all about nesting!)
GettingReadytoGo-8 GettingReadytoGo-9
Most of our drawers and cabinets have sturdy locking-type latches. Our desk, however is a “after-market” addition, and to keep those drawers from escaping, we’ve gone with some extra insurance. Our kitchen sink cabinet has a combination of a broken latch on a door and no latch on the silverware drawer, so that’s when those bungee cords come in handy! (Trust me, having the silverware drawer crash to the ground when you’re driving is no ones idea of fun!)
GettingReadytoGo-10 GettingReadytoGo-11
Once again the bungee cord does the trick on keeping the the coffee machine in place. Never travel without bungee cords. It’s a rule. And the rolling chairs either get tucked under the table or laid on its side.  They’ve come up to visit us in the front once to often.
GettingReadytoGo-12 GettingReadytoGo-13
Once the slide come in, the brace goes on, and the sofa starts accumulating anything that generally lives on a counter or on the floor that’s been displaced by the slide.

The computer and printer (and a variety of files on the desk) ride along just fine. Well, unless it’s really bumpy and then I just have to keep checking that nothing has bounced off the desk. Think I10 in Louisiana.

So that’s the basic Battening-Down-the-Hatches that happens when it’s time for us to hit the road. If our travels will be less than a day, then it’s a pretty easy procedure. Anything that isn’t put away (but maybe has a home if I took the time to put it there) can always live on the bed or the sofa for a couple hundred miles. If we’re likely to be on the road for several days, I need to be a bit more organized because we need to sleep in that bed and sit on that sofa. If we had to bug out in a hurry (like if a hurricane was headed our way), I think we could be on the road in less than an hour. And believe me, I have the better end of the packing-up job.

Sewer lines. Ewwww.

Since you asked

While I’m not sure it quite qualifies as an FAQ, several of you have asked about our ‘dashboard plant’.
This little jade plant has come along with us for our entire journey, and is, in fact, a cutting from a plant I bought the first year we were married (1971). It had gotten quite huge in the 30+ years of our marriage before we left home (like with a 4″ diameter stem), so we left the big guy with friends, and just brought these little cuttings.
It seemed to like its place of honor on the dash board
and grew quite nicely over the years.
Dashboard Plant
By 2010
it was taking over the windshield!
Somewhere along the way I did another trim job as you can see. Here it is enjoying life on my daughter’s porch while we worked on her kitchen.
Dashboard Plant Waco
We snagged a little aloe plant in the Keys and just stuck it in the pot in January of 2011.(Don’t be alarmed, the photo is from NC several months later. It’s the first one I could find with the aloe plant visible. 🙂 )
Drive to NC
and soon the two plants were vying for space.
Eventually neither the jade or the aloe were looking too happy to be sharing the space
so during our 2012 visit to Waco we separated the girls.
We left a fair bit of the plants behind in Waco, but they were very happy to have their own space and they began to thrive again.  It’s all about boundaries, right?
They were both too happy in their new pots that by the time we drove to the Rio Grande Valley in the fall of 2013, the jade took its last trip on the dash.
All that time in the warm Texas sun made them too big to ride up front any longer.
But don’t despair. The plants are still with us, they just have a new spot that doesn’t obscure the driver’s view of the road.
New spot
And once we get settled in at our new parking place, they’re right back where they belong –
Keeping watch over the road ahead!

P.S. If I ever get my act together and do another re-potting (and find good homes for all of the left over plant!), you may once again catch glimpses of the dashboard plant, back where she belongs – photo-bombing my myriad windshield shots!
As for the mystery of where the dashboard plant was in all of the Windshield Shots in yesterday’s post – it’s just a matter of zooming and cropping. She was there for almost all of them!

FAQ #5

Does living in an RV make you feel rootless? A little bit discombobulated?

According to an online dictionary –
OK, so have I ever felt discombobulated? Thrown into confusion? Who me? Confused? Probably my biggest area of confusion is what season we’re in. Think about it. We do our very best to always stay in a temperate zone. Not too hot (i.e being in New England in the summer instead of Texas) and not too cold (being in the Sun Belt in the winter instead of Minnesota). So there are moments when I really have to give some thought as to what “time of year” it actually is. And of course there is always the confusion that comes when trying to remember just when we were where? Or the familiar “I know we’ve been here before but …..” . (But really, is this from living in an RV or from being blonde and 62? It’s hard to know!)
Generally, though, I think we do a much better job of discombobulating than feeling discombobulated. Remember Doris from the Census Bureau? I think she might be still scratching her head. And then there was the girl at the billing center for Verizon. When she gave me the total due and said that sales tax would be added to the amount, I asked her who would get the sales tax. She didn’t really understand the question so I explained that we were in New Jersey, she was in Colorado, we were talking about a Montana phone number and we had a Florida billing address. Trust me, she was ‘thrown into confusion’! We’ve had internet purchases questioned because my phone number (PA) and billing address (FL) and shipping address (always changing) NEVER match up. And then there’s this –
VT Plate
We have my grandfather’s old Vermont license plate on the front of the RV as a “vanity tag”. (He was the 781st person to license a vehicle in VT :)). The conversation often goes like this –
– So, you’re from Vermont? That’s a long ways away. How come your truck has FL tags on it?
– Well, the VT tag is just a vanity plate and the RV has FL tags also.
– Oh, so what part of Florida? I have family in …..
– Well, we aren’t actually from FL either, we’re from Pennsylvania….
Yes, it’s confusing.
Generally when folks ask where we’re from, we say we raised our family outside of Philadelphia, but since we live full time in our RV, currently we’re from where ever we are parked.  (Unless of course, it’s someone in a uniform asking the question, and then it’s Lake City, Florida all the way! We don’t want those guys to feel discombobulated!)
But as to feeling rootless – well, that’s a different question all together. My physical roots are in Pennsylvania, and if I dig a bit deeper they are in Vermont and in this place –
our legacy from generations past.
But the truth to why I rarely feel rootless is not because I’m “from” somewhere, or have wonderful family memories from somewhere else. It is because I have learned that neither my house or RV or family or friends can really make me rooted. I can only find my security and “rootedness” in Christ. Simply put, as long as I find myself grounded in my faith and recognize who I am in Him and how He continues to rescue me from my sinful heart, then I will never be rootless!

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

Discombobulated?  Guess some of that just comes with the territory.  Rootless? By God’s grace – no!