Category Archives: Skills

Airstream Dreams

We’ve been doing a lot of evaluating and re-evaluating where we are right now, and in spite of all the navel gazing life continues to move forward. Our overarching DESIRE is to buy land, but that still appears to be a ways off. Our position continues to improve, with steady employment, vehicle repairs and debt reduction, along with a tiny amount of savings. We’ve also been addressing our need to be DOERS of the word, rather than just HEARERS by taking opportunities to help others as the moments appear. We’ve “blessed” a lot of people with tomatoes this year, for sure!

An interesting opportunity has arisen that we are mulling over. A gentleman of our acquaintance has an aging Airstream that is in dire need of restoration. I have long desired to have a silvery Airstream to slip through the various lovely campgrounds of OR, and we’ve been negotiating with the gentleman. It’s a 1977 Airstream Sovereign International Land Yacht, 31’, with a center bathroom.

It’s ours if we want it, and at a very reasonable, low price. There’s always a “however” attached to anything we ever do, though. Here’s our list of “however”:

1.       No title. This poor gem has been rusting away at the storage for 10 years. The gentleman we know bought it 10 years ago and never titled it. The man he purchased it from bought it from the original owner and alas, also never titled it. The pink has been lost for some time. There are a couple of ways we can go about recapturing the title, all mostly gory and expensive. DJ is going to talk to the DMV tomorrow about winkling out the fastest and least expensive way to get the pink and register it. This will help us decide if we want to actually move forward.

2.       The poor thing is filthy. It’s full of junk and garbage, has wasp nests, it’s got moss growing on it, and the beds and couches were removed, lost to the mists of time.  It needs to be polished, and DJ estimates 250 hours of work for that part alone, in terms of man-hours.

3.       It also needs muy repairs. It needs tires, professional brake work from sitting for so long, the belly pan dropped and the insulation pulled, the frame painted and strengthened from underneath, some wiring repairs, a dent pulled, the heater and water heater replaced, and probably the Dometic fridge as well. It also needs new house batteries.

Most of this will not cost a lot of money, just time. And I’m not the one who would have to do the restoration work. So I have deferred the decision to DJ, the sensible member of our duo. Since he’s the one that will provide the labor, the decision is his.

Oh, and we don’t have a truck to pull it, but that’s another story 


A taste of the cold

This year, it’s going to be all about cold showers, and cold exposure to increase my cold tolerance.

I did cold showers a bit over the horridly hot summer of two years ago, seeking relief from the oppressive Willamette Valley sunshine.  I wish I had kept up on it; i could withstand 50 degree well water straight out of the ground for more than 10 minutes without even trying. As soon as the weather turned I gave it up, and forgot about it until recently.

I got a copy of “Becoming the Iceman” recently and it inspired me to star with cold exposure all over again.  If I had the cash I’d sign up for the mini course. That won;t stop me from trying out all kinds of madness on my own 🙂

Here’s Wim talking about how to take a cold shower:

Wim Hof Cold Shower

I’ll get into this more when I have some time to write.

Winterizing, or how not to eat the bread of idleness

I don’t know if people realize, but this summer has been the coolest for the US if not the world since we started keeping records. Don’t believe the media hype about “climate change” and hot summers. Those folks are getting paid to lie to you about everything.
This winter is expected to be pretty brutal, and 2015 looks to be REALLY interesting.

My suspicion is the nice inter-glacial we’ve been in called the Holocene has ended and our world will be reverting shortly into its native, cooler state. That being said, our family is starting to prep for winter. Regardless of whether it is cold or mild, our goal is to remain comfortable. It’s possible to do these things with a bit of foresight and a little cash if you have a long enough lead time. We are incredibly rich and blessed, yet cash poor, so our family has to be careful about where we put that cash to use.

I am not trying to prep for the end of civilization, merely for the inevitable irritating occurrences that can be mitigated with a bit of planning. A good example: we went to the beach this last weekend, and took our travel drink kit that has a little propane burner, cups and thinks to make hot coffee, tea, etc. I’ve not looked at it for some time, at least since our flight from the park. One really important item was missing: A LIGHTER. We had nary a match between us either. And of course, we did not discover this until we had already dragged all of our equipment out on the beach, down from the long trail to the parking lot. *le sigh*. I really dislike that, and a bit of checking before we left might have avoided the nuisance.

In light of our preparation failure from the beach, I’ve tried to work out covering all the basics to stay comfortable for the winter. The plan is to keep our eye on the fact that there could be power outages after storms and other unexpected occurrences that are potentially disruptive. This last winter the area saw quite a bit of unexpected snow, up to a couple of feet that paralyzed the local infrastructure. We were used to that in the mountain area of California we left behind, but have grown soft living on the coast where very little changes 
So the basics: heat, water, food, in no particular order.

We are getting a cord of wood delivered this weekend. It’s going to cost around $175 a cord to have it delivered here. Daniel will stack it himself with a bit of *mostly useless* assistance from me and the dogs.
The plan is, Lord willing, to buy one a month until we get 3 or 4 to burn in the fireplace. We have a nice covered spot to put it in, but it’s at the far back end of the storage and will have to be humped up one truckload at a time *then up the stairs* to burn. The exercise possibilities are endless! The owners suggested getting a fireplace insert, but unless I find one that is really cheap I don’t think that will happen. At least I will get the chance to use some of my awesome cast iron cooking in the fireplace this winter 
We also have a small propane heater, and the house has central heating if we absolutely need it. Since we don’t pay the electrical bill we try to use as little as possible. We’ll be filling up the propane bottles one at a time over the next two months as well. The idea is to have multiple vectors of preparations, so if one fails there’s at least one backup.

We’ve been picking up bottled water and canned food, a bit at a time at the store to rebuild our stock. I’ll be canning up everything we don’t eat immediately from the garden, plus more that we’ll be gleaning from trees and bushes in the field next to the facility here. I have a large stock of canning items that I have collected over the years, but still need to add more Tattler reusable lids and jars. I still have not purchased a freezer, and may not get to it this year. I can find one for around $100 but I want to spend that money elsewhere this month, so I don’t think it will happen soon. If I do find some really good meat or vegetable buys, I will can or dehydrate them for now. The freezer is not a true necessity, but more like a giant luxury 

The water is on a well, but we won’t be able to get a hand pump for it due to the design and lack of information about the well itself. The old owners did not give the new owners any info in the sale, and I personally do not want to spend money on getting it inspected.
There is a lake across the street if we were really hard put to get water. We have some Berkey filters, and the plans to make a home made one using the filters and two plastic buckets put together if necessary. I have a back up water filtration system that is primitive but works: one micron cloth filters to run the water through that I picked up on eBay years ago, then boiling it to kill anything not filtered out. A one micron filter will actually come close to cleaning the water completely, but why take chances?
We have two sports bottles that filter water in our travel bags as well.
I wish we had not left our rain barrels behind, but we had no place to put them. I need to find at least two new ones. They seem to be a scarce and expensive commodity in the area. Again, multiple vectors for redundancy.

Thrift store shopping is our friend. We’ve been buying nice old quilts and other warm items in need of mending or cleaning from the thrift stores, and will keep looking for more. We also have been stocking up on yarn finds and sales to make some items both for ourselves and for gifts for friends.
I’ve been trying to sell off unneeded clothing items and oddities from around the house to raise cash to buy more suitable winter items. I’ve done a bit of trading too.
We are still on the lookout for good bags to use as containers for car kits for road emergencies. I have a giant bag that we can *but currently don’t* stick in the ‘Hoe that holds water, a change of clothes, first aid supplies and a drink kit including filtered water bottles but need to break it down to something more manageable that can stay in the vehicle.
We also need to finish collecting medical supplies. We have a bit, but they are currently scattered from Hell to breakfast in various spots around the house and garage.
Daniel hung up my big dry erase board so I could write a checklist to keep track of where we are in the process, along with a weekly Bible verse to memorize.
It’s more than a good start, methinks. If we can keep the momentum up we will be in a good position come winter to stay comfortable without expending a huge amount of effort. This in turn will give us time this winter to start working our way through the big stack of books, sermons, podcasts and assorted sundry items to get closer to our Creator as He has commanded us, so our “saved” time will be put to good use rather than eating the bread of idleness. (Pr 31:27)

What are you doing to get ready for winter?

All in the name of organizing

I post a lot of snippets on Facebook instead of breakin’ it down on here, and I am working on changing that.

I’ve been kicking butt and taking names all morning, for the sake of personal efficiency. I am a stickler about my gmail inbox, but have been a lazy girl recently in keeping it streamlined. I have subscribed to a bunch of new stuff recently and noticed the wee email chime on my phone going off a LOT more than I like. I also noticed that Gmail was being handled on my phone in a different manner than on my computer due to the newish tabs that Google inserted without asking me if I wanted them. My inbox on my phone was turning chaotic and Something Had To Be Done.

I spent a bit of time this morning using Gmail’s native functions to create new labels and filters, so the vast majority of my email will automatically be marked read, archived, and labelled so I can review it at my leisure. A bit more effort as emails continue to land and the only emails I will see are ones that need to be seen immediately. The rest will be tucked away for later. Huzzah!

Whilst reviewing my Gmail I noted my Google calendar needed freshening up so I worked on that as well, adding calendars and reminders for our Bible study, menu planning, editing for blogging, budget, and tasks along with color coding the calendars for easier reading. For easier viewing I set it to agenda style instead of the larger calendar so I could look at individual items. The Gmail reorganizing took about 45 minutes by just going to each email in my inbox that needed filtering or recent trash and using the “set up filtering” button. While doing the filtering I could create labels and nest them on the fly, which sped the process up. Adding the calendars and color coding them took about 10 minutes. It took longer to decide what I wanted to do than to actually do it.

I am also revamping my Evernote and added some custom templates I found online for some categories I’d like to keep in a more orderly fashion: Bible study, budgeting, menu planning, and blogging. (See some overlap there?)
I created new stacks, a nice set of new GTD *Getting Things Done* style tags, and a place to archive all of it set up and humming. I am still using a Bullet Journal as my day planner on paper, but I have been adding fun doodles, colors, and gluing cute pics into it with a glue stick to make it more like a personal planner than just a wee cheapie spiral notebook. I use an Evernote app to photograph the pages to archive those as well.

It might seem like a lot of effort to set up but once it’s done everything becomes automated. I like to work on these sorts of tasks quarterly, when the creeping chaos of information overload starts rearing it’s ugly head. Automation turns that overload into a steady stream of organized information that I can dip into at my leisure, and savor instead of feeling like I am drinking from a firehose.


Sheila’s coffee cake


Once again our way has not been easy or smooth. I baked a new family favorite to give us a bit of cheer. Our dear friend MB might not agree, but every time one creates something, even with store bought ingredients, one takes an intermediate step back from the world. It points to the arc of moving ever so slightly from the industrial world.

Recipe here:

Dinner At Sheilas “Mom’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake”