Progress Costs $$!


I feel somewhat accomplished this week. I ordered the stone coating for the countertops yesterday, as well as some other supplies I need. Tonight I intend to go pickup the rest of the flooring and some plastic drop clothes and tape for taping off edges.

I wish I’d gotten my act together and ordered sooner, so that I’d have it. It would be nice to get the primer painted on the countertop tomorrow so that on Sunday I could do the coating. Instead I’ll plan on spending one or two days over there next week.

I will also have to buy what’s necessary for re-coating the roof, because I noted a leak over the mattress when I was there last. Luckily, I am replacing the mattress, but now I can’t do that until the leak is fixed. It’s a real bummer.

The biggest issue I’m having right now is with trying to be patient for repairs. I can’t move forward with certain things until they are done. Once it’s safe to drive it again, I’ll need to take it to have the propane tank re-filled (also waiting on the sanding and painting of that tank) and then once that is done, I can determine if everything works. I am sure I will have to have the AC recharged. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I don’t have to replace any appliances or other water-related parts. I can find things for a reasonable price, but it all adds up.

I have made no progress in emptying my house. I made progress last weekend with my garage and I got rid of a ton of garage garbage in a bulk pickup that they do around here just once a year. They weren’t even supposed to take everything I put out, but were nice enough to do so. I still have a ton of garbage to pull out of the basement, because it floods and a lot of things got ruined.

Meanwhile, there are tons of boxes and bins to go through in the garage–or that’s how it feels. I’d like to empty the dining room and office this weekend, but I know I cannot do it all.

Other things on my list include getting my Great Dane current on his vaccinations and begin going through the food in the kitchen.

Once again, I’ll say it: my dream/goal is so close, but still so far! It’s a lot of work to try to carry out on your own when you only get one day a week off!!

I will post pictures after I re-do the countertop and install the floor. I’m very excited!

 

Things Are Progressing!


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Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a moment to write, but I really wanted to update those of you who are following.

At first things were at a standstill due to the winter. As the weather got cold last fall, I really couldn’t paint or do much in it and then in February I moved the RV to a repair shop where it sat until recently. Unfortunately, there was no progress made. The mechanic I had working on it made a lot of promises about the RV, my Firebird and a Mitsubishi Montero I bought. It’s a long story about how ALL of my vehicles ended up in one place (I’ll save it for another blog entry) and why no progress was made. The good news is that I have people helping me who actually are making progress!

The countertop, oven and sink have been installed. The last owner actually build a new lower cabinet frame for the small kitchen area and built a wooden countertop. He was going to cover it in dark laminate and gave me the roll. I thought that was too much effort and decided to do a Stone Coat Countertop. I can only hope that my version turns out as good as the video I’m trying to copy, but this is the look I plan to go for:  LIQUID EPOXY with a paint stick. I plan to order what I need this week and I’m very excited. I’m also going to be picking up the flooring, which will be a vinyl plank in a light grey.

If you’ve been following my blog, you may have read where I make small investments each week out of my paycheck. I decided to sell the stocks I had, which wasn’t much. I’d been giving $5 here and there once a week for about a year and 3 of the 4 I was giving to were doing well. I cashed about somewhere around $950. It just so happens that I figured I need about $1,000 in things for the RV to leave, so that was very helpful and once I get moved, I will start re-investing again. In case you’re interested, I do have a referral link. You can do it for just $5 and you can control when it comes out. I had mine set up to automatically come out weekly, because I get paid weekly. I started with two and when they were doing well, I added one or two more. Here is the link: Stash Invest.

The countertop will cost about $70 for what I need to order from the site. I can get away with a sampler kit because I have such little space to cover. I believe I will have enough leftover to do the small countertop for the bathroom area too.

I have a case and a half left of the flooring already. I put the same flooring in my bathroom earlier this year and that’s what I had left. I believe I only need to purchase 2 more cases, but I will purchase 3, because it is not available locally and I have to drive about an hour to get it. I’d rather have one too many that I can either return later or keep for repairs then be one less and have all the stores be out. It will cost me about $150 to finish purchasing the flooring and since I’m buying it from Menard’s right now, I’ll get a 11% rebate.

Other things I need to purchase include a new step for the entrance, a new mattress, and curtains (I’m purchasing some curtains from Walmart and cutting them down to the right size and sewing them. I believe I can get 3 curtains out of a panel and each window needs 4 short panels. I already have one set I use in my bedroom currently, so I’ll recycle that and since there are three big windows to cover, I’ll need to buy just two more panels at about $13 each. I’ll work on something for the front windshield later on and am focusing on just the side windows. The back windows by the mattress already have shades I like and so does the doorway and the small kitchen window. I also have a divider between the bedroom and bathroom area and the rest of the RV, so for now, changing can be done behind it.)

I am keeping my fingers crossed that all of my appliances and things work. Things like the refrigerator, oven/stove, microwave, water pump, water heater and the air conditioner.

Mice chewed through the built-in power cord, so that has to be replaced, but the current mechanic was able to find a 40 foot replacement for FREE (my favorite word). Also, one of the vent covers on the roof has cracked and is broken since moving the RV and the other guy working on it was able to bring me an extra one he had for FREE also.

I have decided not to move my TVs. First of all, my 55 or 60″ TV is about 3 or 4 years old and was a cheap brand when I bought it. I think I paid $350 for it from Walmart’s website. The sound is terrible on it and last year I finally purchased a soundbar so I could hear it!! I have to move my stuff (eventually) 2200 miles. Chances are, the TVs might not make it. Smaller TVs I have in other rooms are older and heavier. I’m looking for a thin, lightweight TV that is good quality. I can buy something reasonable at Walmart and figure if I sell what I have, I can repurpose the money for a new small TV and then when I move into a house again some day, I’ll just have to buy a TV.

I rented a 10 x 20 storage building last weekend and began putting things in it. The process for emptying my house is very difficult with my 6 day a week work schedule and being the only adult working on it! My 10-year-old daughter is a huge help, but there is only so much she can do. A second adult helping would be great!

The best plan I can come up with was to pull as much garbage/throw away stuff as I could out last weekend. This week is the “bulky” pickup for my city. They only do it once a year and claim that only certain things can be picked up; however, each year everyone throws out whatever they want and they seem to take it. Now watch, this will be the year I do that and they leave most of it! We will see. So I piled my curb pretty high with stuff and paid $25 for two old couches and a baby mattress to be hauled away. I took two loads over to the storage building on Sunday and I actually can see a difference in the garage.

I wanted to have a garage sale last weekend, because it was also the big garage sale weekend for my city, but I realized much too late that I was not prepared. I was up until 1 a.m. Friday night working and could not bring myself to be up at 6 to set up a garage sale. Also, the weather had turned cold (in the 40s) and was raining and so I decided to just put it off until I am ready.

In order to make all of this work, I have to sell two vehicles AND about $1500 worth of my stuff before I leave! Ha, doesn’t really sound like it’s going to work, does it? Especially when I’m shooting for being out of here the first two weeks of June.

Worse case scenario I will have to hang around WI in the RV in order to come up with the gas money and one month’s site rental in OR, but the important thing is getting out of this house and making sure it is empty and clean for my landlord.

My goal this week is to take down the dining room table set and baker’s rack in the dining room and to move those thing into storage. I also have random things I can take now (such as a fake knight and armor – short human sized – that I have in the living room. The goal is to get anything out of the house that I’m not currently using. I’d like to get the garage and basement cleared out first, as well as use the empty dining room (once it is empty) store a pile of boxes and items ready to go to storage. I figure if I work on it a little bit each evening, I’ll see some real progress.

One massively obnoxious thing that has to be done before I move is to have help literally pulling apart the staircase leading up to the second floor where my bedroom is. When moving in, all the steps but one had to be removed in order to fit the queen box spring up the stairs. I’m not about to leave my Sterns & Foster box spring and mattress behind, so the effort will have to be repeated.

So a lot of progress is happening, but I am still so far away from being ready! I just have to keep plugging away at it. The more I do over the next two or three weeks, the less of a burden it will be when it’s time to go.

One thing I’d like to do is have my RV outfitted with about 300 watts of solar panels before I go and have the help. I don’t want to get the kind that I have to set up each time, because I am worried about theft. It’s about $300 to buy the three panels online and $15 for the mounting brackets for each panel, plus there is a handful of stuff I have to buy to hook it into the system. I’d like to be able to boondock if needed. Between the solar panels and my holding tank, it should be possible.

One other issue I ran into is that because my RV is older, my propane tank is actually built-in. Many places will not refill them if they are built-in, because they don’t realize you can. If they are built-in, I discovered, they do not have to be re-certified and can be re-filled as long as they are in good condition, so we are going to sand the rust spots off and repaint mine. I bought three cans of a primer and paint mix from Walmart this morning.

I was lucky enough to find a gas station in the same town where the RV is being stored that is willing to refill the tank for me. In the future, I will have to find another place like that or will have to get an adapter that hooks my current system up to a refillable tank like you’d use on a grill. That’s not ideal for me, so I am hoping that since I am going to an area that has a high amount of long-term RV residents, I won’t have a problem getting it filled.

The current goal is Waldport, Oregon. After a lot of research, I decided this is the place I want to go to. It’s right on the ocean and seems to have a lot of the qualities we’re looking for. I was hesitant in choosing beach life over city life (worried I’d get bored), but my dream is to be by the water and this is how I can do that.

The ultimate plan is to buy a piece of land (in about a year) that I can move my RV too and then work on putting up a tiny house. Eventually I want to build my dream house, but this is how I want to start. I’m tired of renting and at the moment, cannot get a mortgage. A lot of that may change in the next year as I reduce my bills and live a simpler life. As long as I keep the mortgage payments up on a piece of property I use as a rental and continue to make repairs on that rental, in a year I should be able to finish repairs and sell the home. I actually have equity in the house, so that would be huge in helping me achieve my dream home.

This post has been long. I thank readers who are following along and hope to have more time to blog about this experience as we go

Homemade Frozen Dinner Idea # 1: Breakfast Burritos


As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m putting together homemade meals and freezing them to make my own TV dinners.  Unfortunately, I’m already running out of freezer space and wish I had a second freezer.  It’s definitely on my list of things to search for.

I just finished making eight mini breakfast burritos and I took pictures as I went through the process.  Let’s start with the ingredient list:

7 strips of bacon

8 breakfast sausage links

4 eggs 8 slices of processed cheese

Shredded cheddar cheese

8 small soft tortilla shells

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation: I started by frying the bacon on medium-low temperature (so as not to overcook it).  I chopped up the breakfast sausage into small pieces and fried it on medium-low temperature as well.  When the meat is done, I remove the pans from the heat and drain the bacon on paper towel.  You can drain the sausage too, but I did not.  I cut each strip of bacon in half lengthwise and then chopped into small pieces or bits.  I scrambled the eggs in the same pan I fried the bacon in (drain any grease beforehand) and salt and peppered to taste.  I added a small amount of milk to my scrambled eggs too.

Building a Burrito:

I laid everything out on the countertop and I built them all at the same time, so that the ingredients were evenly spread between each burrito. DSCF8070

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I tore one piece of processed cheese in half and laid one near the bottom and one near the top of an open tortilla shell. Next, I added equal portions of egg on top of the cheese.  Please note that you can sprinkle a bit of shredded cheddar around at this time as well.  The cheese will help keep everything together.  Finally, I spread equal amounts of bacon and sausage on top and finished off with more shredded cheddar cheese.

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Folding: I started by folding the bottom up first.

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While holding my first fold into place, I fold the top down.

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While holding my first two folds in place, I carefully roll from one side until to the other and firmly press down (without breaking the shell) so the rolled burrito stays rolled when set down.

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Storage:

I wrapped each burrito with tinfoil and then plastic wrap.  I wrote today’s date on each one, along with what it was.  I filled out this same information on a gallon size freezer bag and placed all eight breakfast burritos in the bag and into the freezer.  All of my ingredients were cooled by this time.

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Serving:

These can either be microwaved or baked.  To bake, heat oven to 350 degrees and bake until tortilla shell turns a light golden color.  You can bake in the tinfoil, but I would remove all wrappings.  To microwave, remove foil and plastic wrap and wrap in a wet papertowel.  Microwave on high 5-7 minutes or until cooked through.

Homemade TV Dinners: It’s Cheaper, Healthier and Tastes So Much Better!


There are not very many TV dinner choices in Ireland.  Stores like Iceland have a decent selection, but Iceland stores are not everywhere and they are not where I am currently living.  Even the cheapest TV dinners are not very inexpensive (in my opinion) compared to what you can pay in the U.S., but we have a lot of need for something quick and easy to throw in the oven or microwave, so I decided to make my own.  And I thought I’d share what I did with my readers. 

To start, I need to buy some foil baking containers.  I had hoped to find some smaller, rectangular-shaped shallow containers, but only found deeper ones.  I bought a five-pack of the deeper ones.  I also cleaned out our freezer of any of the meat products we don’t seem to be eating.  I’m either making recipes out of those products or baking them off in the oven to be re-frozen for later use. 

Here are some of my thoughts on things I could make and freeze:

  • Meatballs:  Tony’s mother gave me this idea a few years ago.  She made some amazing Swedish Meatballs and would cook a bunch of them off and then freeze them so when they wanted something easy, all she had to do was heat them up. 
  • Lasagna:  Although, this takes a bit more preparation than some other ideas, homemade lasagna is much better than store-bought.
  • Spaghetti:  Very simple, because you can get away with store-bought sauce (jazz it up a bit) and pasta is cheap and easy.  When you’re ready to make it, butter two sides of sliced bread and sprinkle with garlic powder, pepper, salt and a small amount of Italian seasoning and bake until golden.  Add cheese for cheese bread. 
  • Meatloaf:  Meatloaf is great, because it can be heated up with mashed potatoes and buttered corn or individual slices can be frozen and thawed for meatloaf sandwiches. 
  • Pot Pie:  You can make beef, chicken or turkey.  I used a mini springform pan to make my pot pies, because I didn’t have any mini pie pans.  Once the pie has cooled for 15 minutes, you can separate the springform and carefully remove from the bottom.
  • Various Chicken Dishes:  There’s a lot you can do with chicken.  You can season it various ways and bake it, stuff it with cheese, bread it—any number of things.  Serve with frozen vegetables, mashed potatoes or more.
  • Potato Wedges:  I had a bag of potatoes already and picked up some garlic potato wedge spice.  I’m going to bake them off in the oven and use them as sides with my meat dishes.
  • Burritos:  Burritos are excellent for the freezer.  I’m making breakfast burritos, but you can also do enchiladas, baked chicken wraps and more.   
  • Pizza:  Who doesn’t love pizza?  I guarantee your frozen homemade pizza will knock store-bought frozen pizza out of the park!

Since I don’t have enough baking dishes for everything, I’m going to create five meals using the aluminum pans, a few pot pies, homemade pizza and some breakfast burritos.  I’ll be taking pictures of the food I make and posting recipes, so check back for more.

5 Cheap Meal Ideas


If you’ve been reading any of my other recent blog posts, you may know that I am currently on the 10-day master cleanse, so it may come as a surprise to you that I’m posting about food.  I’ve been wanting to post this for a while and since I’m still able to think, talk about and look at food without feeling like an animal about to go for its kill, I thought it would be a good time to get it out of the way.

Times are tough for many people around the world.  I’m an American living in Ireland and although I find the food to be quite expensive here, I’m also hearing how expensive food has become from my family back home.  We have good weeks and we have bad weeks here and on the bad weeks, I have to get thrifty with the grocery cost.  Here are some cheap meal ideas.  They won’t win you any gourmet cooking awards, but they will help reduce the cost of your food bill.  Also, I can tell you that you can buy all of the ingredients for these items in Ireland.  

#1.  Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Condensed Tomato Soup:  You can buy bread here for as cheap as 69-89 cents a loaf if you shop at stores like Aldi and Lidl.  I spent 54 cents on a can of tomato soup from Tesco and you can be 15 slices of processed cheese for 64 cents at Tesco.  Butter is actually your biggest cost here.  In case you’ve never made a grilled cheese before, heat up a fry pan on medium heat.  Lightly butter one side of two slices of bread.  Put one piece of bread butter-side down in the frying pan and lay one to two slices of cheese on top of it.  Place the second slice of bread butter-side up over the top.  Cook each side until golden brown.  Be sure to check frequently, because there’s nothing worse than an overcooked grilled cheese sandwich.

#2.  Grilled Peanut Butter Sandwich:  Grilled peanut butter sandwiches are delightful.  There’s nothing better than that warm, gooey peanut butter in the middle and the fried butter taste that comes with it.  You make these the same way, but put smooth peanut butter in between layers instead of cheese.  I personally like Tesco brand smooth peanut butter.  It tastes the most like Skippy or Jiffy in the U.S.

#3.  Classic Hotdogs and Potato Chips/Crisps:  You can buy a 12 pack of hotdogs from Lidl for less than 2 Euro.  Hotdog buns at Lidl are only 99 cents for a 6-pack.  A jar of pickles (can be chopped up for relish) can be purchased just about anywhere for 89 cents and condiments are also cheap (particularly at Lidl and Aldi).  I also make sort of a homemade ranch dressing using Creme Fresh (89 cents at Lidl), 2 Tablespoons of chopped chive, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of garlic and salt and pepper to taste.  This can be used as a salad dressing or on the hotdogs.  I simply boil my hotdogs until they’re done.  

#4.  Garden Salad:  I love to eat salad.  Of course I don’t eat healthy salad, but if it is your only meal, it’s okay to incorporate all of the food groups.  Everyone’s salad is different, but here is what mine consists of:  Freshly chopped lettuce (lettuce is 89 cents a head at Tesco), chopped cucumber (69 cents a piece at Tesco), sliced green olives (I get a huge jar of green olives at Lidl for less than 3 Euro), ranch dressing (can buy in some Tescos in Dublin area or make recipe above), shredded cheddar cheese (I buy 500 grams of shredded cheddar for less than 3 Euro at Lidl), diced tomato (always cheap), diced onion (always cheap again) and cottage cheese (if I have it – can be purchased for less than a Euro at many local stores).  You can make your own croutons out of old bread by tossing bread cubes with butter and seasoning to taste.  

#5.  Buttered Noodles:  If you’ve ever gone into a Noodles & Co. in the states, you may have seen or even tried buttered noodles.  Sounds weird, but can be excellent.  Pasta is cheap in this country.  You can usually buy a bag of penne for less than a Euro (particularly at places like LIdl and Aldi).  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, melt 1 cup of butter in a frying pan.  Add 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 1/2 a teaspoon of Italian seasonings, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper.  Melt completely, but do not burn.  Shred Parmesan cheese.  To serve, fill bowl with hot pasta, pour plenty of butter sauce over the top and sprinkle generously with cheese.  Again, the Parmesan and butter are going to be your most expensive purchases, but you should be able to get more than one of these meals out of a blocck of Parmesan.  It depends on how much cheese you like and how many people are eating.  

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