Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dreaming Defined

Since it seems all I do lately is dream about where I'll be living and what it will be like, I had to chuckle when I read my fortune cookie.

"A dream is just a dream.  
A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline"

I don't usually put a lot into these things, but this one really resonated with me.  It felt like a spur to action and I took heed of its advice.

Searching through the several homes in Carriage Manor in Mesa will be easier as there are realtors involved and many to look at.  This is the park where my sister-in-law lives and we have stayed there before and found it very enjoyable, so it's one of the two contenders for where we will buy in 2017.

This winter we will be staying at Roadhaven in Apache Junction, not that far from Carriage Manor, but a bit closer to Superstition Mountain.  These properties are all individually owned as well, but each one must be contacted one at a time, which makes it more work.

The website for Carriage Manor usually has several photos of each property and it's easy to do a visual comparison.  The website at Roadhaven only shows one photo with a brief description.  If you want more info or to see extra photos you need to contact each person.

But since there are only about 15 properties we would be considering I decided to take action.  First I made a call to the office to determine whether or not there was a "pet section" we'd have to limit ourselves to.  No sense contacting people if I couldn't purchase there anyway.

Once I got the green light on that issue (the entire park was pet friendly) I set up a listing of all properties, their price and contact info.

Next I sent out an inquiry to each one that had email addresses.  There's only a couple that didn't show a price and had no email address.  I'll wait on these until later.  Now I have the ball rolling and can set up files on each response and hopefully par down the number of those we will actually take time to go view.

So, now I have a plan...with a deadline, so I'm not just dreaming anymore.

Long Live the Dreaming Queen...with a Plan

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Online Dreaming

It's frightening how much time a person can blow browsing through Pinterest, I think I'm going for a personal best.

The best part about Pinterest is that for dreamers and schemers like me who are old and have failing memories, it's an easy way to find those ideas again.

I've started new categories with my garden ideas for the Minnesota homestead next spring.  I figure since it's on the river, it should be a fishing theme...yes?  I know I need permission to dig into the ground, but this would be a container so therefore it's okay.  Anybody got any old boats that no longer float?

There are new boards I've started for the Arizona dream as well, full of ideas of how to revamp an old kitchen since we will probably end up with an old unit down there.  It would actually be fun to paint cabinets, change hardware and see what can be done with some turquoise paint.   I like this style, but would probably paint the cabinets white.

All those Southwest colors are calling to me.   I may have to find a quilt book with southwest designs to play with.

But, in case you are worried, I have been working very hard at staying in the moment and cherishing my time left here in Ham Lake.  I want to the office the other day with our friends Norm & Ginny from next door and made it clear that they were to be given my spot with the gardens.  At least there will be someone on site to enjoy and appreciate them.

Now that our house hunt in Minnesota is over we can dedicate ourselves completely into getting the kids moved into their new house and all settled in before we roll southward.

There is a time to every season.

Long Live the Queen

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Flurry of Visitors

There's usually nothing going on up here in the northwoods, but suddenly we have company...lots of company.

On Thursday night we had Christy and Dave over to visit and play cribbage.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday brought our friends Becky and Patrick from La Crosse up our way to camp and hang out.  They were lucky enough to be parked right next to the "farm" and couldn't figure out what the drumming sounds were all night long.  At first she didn't believe me when I said it was the emus, but then she heard them making their unusual sounds and was a believer.  I couldn't find anything on YouTube that would let you know what it sounds like, sorry.

Monday and Tuesday we had Ron and Kathy camping in Ham Lake to catch up with us.  We met them in North Fort Myers and I played pickleball with them, so of course they needed to go with me to the Andover YMCA on Tuesday morning to meet my gang.

This was the week that we were also trying to help the kids prepare for the move on Wednesday, so we were pretty tired out by this evening.

Tomorrow the moving truck comes to take it all away and we will go over in the morning to help with last minute hauling of stuff to the garage at their new place and cleaning up the house for the new owners.

Then our little family will be homeless for three weeks until they can move into their new digs.  Luckily they have good friends who have taken all four of them and the dog for that duration.  These kind of friends don't come easy and they are blessed to have this opportunity.

Sorry for the lack of photos.  Seems I get so busy enjoying the company that I don't think to take any photos of you'll just  have to take my word for it that we really do have friends.

Long Live the Company Queen

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Planning Continues

Now that things are coming together, we are wishing we didn't have to wait until spring to move in.  There would be so many advantages to setting up before we leave, such as prepping the land for delivery of the trailer and being able to leave as much as possible in the new unit.   But alas, there is the renter there until the end of the season, so we'll just have to wait until next year.

Our plan, even though it seems to change day by day, is to enjoy one last swan song in See-More on the way down to Arizona.  Then after the kids visit is over in December, start looking seriously in one of the two parks in Mesa for a home during January through March 2017.  

It's funny how I always proclaimed I never wanted to own anything again after we sold the house.  Now we own one property and looking to buy another in Arizona.  Heck, we may still get a third one in Texas and have choices of where to winter, renting out the other one in our absence.

The timing is right since Left Brain is hitting that magic age in 2017 where he needs to start taking money out of the IRAs.  My job is to help him part with it.  It's not a new job for me, I've always been there to assist in the spending and buying as I'm so much better at that.

Long Live the Queen of Hope

Friday, August 19, 2016

Our Last Resort

The kids had invited us over to their house and as much as I preferred staying home and wallowing in my pity party, we agreed to go.

Left Brain suggested stopping at one more RV dealer on the way, said he'd found something online that looked interesting.  Groan.

I was so tired of having my hopes built up and then dashed that I could barely stand the thought of yet anything spin on this emotional rollercoaster.  But he persisted, so I went along for the ride, not expecting anything.

They only had three on the lot to look at, so at least this wouldn't take time.  He drove up and parked at one called the Resort.  Yeah right...this is our last resort I thought snidely.

And then we walked in.  It instantly felt like home.  I don't know how to describe it.  There was nothing particularly stunning about it, no flash and glam...but it just felt right.

The kitchen had a decent countertop area...ok...I like this.  And look, the island doesn't have a sink on it.  Just open usable SPACE. I can already envision cooking up here or using it as a cutting table for quilting.  Or setting out snacks for guests now that we can invite someone over...the the possibilities!

The fridge has an 18 cubic feet capacity - WOW.  The microwave is full sized, not one of those tiny toy ones they usually put in RV's.  The oven looks a bit small, but has four burners and an oven.  So far so good. 

OMG!  Is that an actual pantry?  I opened the door expecting the usual six inch depth of disappointment I'd seen in others.  Nope.  This pantry is wide and deep with pull out drawers on the bottom section.  Whoa!  There was some planning going on here.

The dining table and chairs are right by the window, near the kitchen and can actually be accessed.  Several of the other models we looked at had a little "wall" to define the well as the functionality.

And then there was the area in the front window for as big a TV as Left Brain could salivate for.  Now I'll finally have a home for the sweet little glass house my friend Beth made for me five years ago on my sixtieth birthday.

On one side was a comfy couch that pulls out into a queen sized bed for company.  It doesn't show in the photo, but there is a ceiling fan over the living room area.

  The other side had two large swivel rockers that reclined and were oh so comfortable to sit down it.  The usual thing we've seen these days are theater seats, but I like the recliners as they allow for easier rearranging.  OMG...I can rearrange furniture again, at least after I unbolt everything. I think I'm in love!

We went down the hall and peeked into the bathroom.  The sink area was a bit small, but about the same space we have now.  They could have added some more storage in here, but the shower...that made up for any other faults the bathroom may have lacked.  Big...roomy...built in seats...oh yes.  The norm seems to be a small circular arrangement that even I would have a hard time not splashing water all over.

By the time we reached the bedroom we knew we had some real potential here.  The bed is King sized, which usually means it takes up every inch in the room, but this one had easy access up both sides.  Unheard of!

Plus each side had a window for good ventilation as well as a counter space large enough for our cpap machines...unheard of in any other models we've seen.  Oh, and there is a second ceiling fan above the bed.  Bring on that summer heat!  The area underneath this countertop is open and I could just see George picking this as his new favorite hiddy hole when the thunderstorms hit.

The closet was huge with a shelf across the top and hanging space the entire length. This will provide more space than needed for hanging our things and still have room for the vacuum cleaner as well.

The dresser was enormous and would easily hold our printer and a small TV for my enjoyment.  Yup, there's the cable hookup right there.  They were sober when they designed this unit!

Plus there is another window for cross ventilation.  We seldom turn on the AC and prefer the natural breezes. 

Good Lord!  There's a second closet on my side of the bed as well with nice deep storage, not to mention the four overhead cabinets above the bed.  This is great for those things you only need to access once a week or less.

Then, just for fun I lifted the bed and found a nice deep storage area underneath the bed as well.  We have room for a lot of stuff here!  Now we could actually play hide and seek in our RV.

We sat down with the saleslady and I gave Left Brain "the look".  He smiled back.  Then I explained to her that this would more than meet our needs, especially since they had just lowered the price on it...but it's too early.  No problem she said...if we paid for it they could hold it until next spring.  Whaaaaat?

We all but picked her up (she was a tiny thing) and ran back to her office to put down a deposit on our new home.

I sure hope I don't wake up and find out this was just a dream.

Long Live the Queen of Glee

Thursday, August 18, 2016

We Have Land...Need a Home

Finally ....we are both breathing easier knowing that we have land to call our own next spring.  The next hurdle is to find a destination trailer to put down on it.  Then, if things go as planned, we can find a place in Arizona and sell See-More there.  Ideally we'll sell the RV and car as a package since we'll need a larger vehicle for traveling back and forth with the cats.  It's all about the cats.

I was enjoying this process for quite a while, going through RV dealerships and walking through fifth wheels and trailers, getting a feel for what would best suit our needs.  It didn't take real long to narrow our search to just a destination trailer.  Since there are far fewer of those on the market, that narrowed the choices even more.

I'm convinced that some of the people who design these things had to be drunk or high during the process.  In one of the models we looked at all the closets had the clothes bar raised so high I could even touch it.  I'd need a step stool to hang up my clothes.  That brand was eliminated right away.

This land of the giant trend seemed to continue into other areas of the RV as well, with cabinets that were unusable unless you were close to six feet tall.  And don't even get me started on the overhead lights that would require a ladder to turn on my reading lights.  Sigh.  I know I'm vertically challenged at 5' 4", but this is ridiculous.  It sure provided an insight on how the little people must feel.

How I long for a bed I can walk around the sides to make the bed without having to crawl forward with the fitted sheets in my hands waiting to tackle the front corners.

The current trend in the big trailers seems to be the ability to sleep as many people as possible.  This is accomplished by adding four bunk beds in a second bedroom, sometimes accompanied by another half bath.  Yikes.  You could sleep up to eight people in these RV's with the couch making into a bed as well...but you still only have a small table with four chairs.  Who wants to share space with that many people.  We like to keep our company slightly uncomfortable so they leave after a short stay.

Then there were the models with a "den".  This is usually positioned somewhere in the middle of the unit and consists of a couch with a large wardrobe and television across from it.  Ok, this might be nice if you had a sulky teen you didn't want to look at during your stay in the RV, but you sacrifice a lot of kitchen and living space for it.  Yes, the cats could have had their own room and watched Animal Planet in privacy, but we haven't spoiled them quite that far.

The closest thing I'd seen was an RV with a loft over the bedroom.  This was accessible by a carpeted set of stairs to the upper level.  Oh the possibilities!  My first thought was all the cat toys, beds, scratchers and litter box could go up here out of sight.  It could double as an attic for storage for all the things that wouldn't fit downstairs.  Now, keep in mind this loft is only accessible on hands and knees.  It would be great fun for little kids or cats...but not usable for a sewing room or anything like that.

By this time we'd been to most the dealers in the area over a course of several weeks and it wasn't fun any more.  I declared to Left Brain that we'd just look for a lot in Arizona and continue to drive back and forth and live in See-More.  It's worked this long, it will work longer still.  I wasn't thrilled by the prospect as I really want to get off the road and into something larger, but there didn't seem to be anything created that we could agree on and I was sick of looking.

Oh well.  Maybe something will present itself.

Long Live the Queen of Dismay

A Glimpse of Our Future Home

When we stopped by our property (I never get tired of saying that) we took some photos to remember what it looked like.

It is currently rented out to someone until the end of the year, so my first mission was to introduce ourselves and ask permission to wander about the property taking photos and getting measurements.  He was fine with it, so we proceeded quickly as the mosquitoes were biting after the recent rain.

We are located in the second row, well away from the flood plain area.  That kind of excitement I can live without.

Here is our lot from the front.  The RV will face East. The rules state no paved parking areas, so we will hire one of the guys here to put in a gravel parking lot for us, probably where that patch of dirt is.  

This is the south side where the hookups are.

This is the from the back where the shed is.  The shed will eventually go and be replaced with a larger resin model.  We are allowed to have a shed up to 10 x 12, so that's what we'll have. Although I hate to part with this classy metal number.  We'll probably put it in the same general location since it provides a bit of privacy for our patio.

Here are the trees on the north side.  I can't wait to create a bird feeding sanctuary and gardens here!  As soon as we land next spring I'll put in my application for permission to dig so I don't accidentally run through anybody's cables.

It's fun to daydream about adding a screen house to our awning and putting down some patio blocks for the patio area. The rules of the park are to maintain the open feel of a park and not having people fence off their property.  I like will be a far cry from the tight spaces in Arizona this winter.

Long Live the Queen of Lot 208

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Dreaming and Scheming Continues

We have been searching for an option to our dilemma and may have found something.

Our only other option for owning land was the Mississippi Riverwood Association in Otsego.  This was the former KOA which several shareholders went together and purchased years ago.  It is located on the banks of the Mississippi River and is actually closer to the new residence of our kids. 

There is a small swimming pool and playground for the kids. This area is much newer with better shopping and access to my Trader Joe's and Whole Foods stores.

We wasted no time at all in contacting the owners of two of the three properties available.  This is a smaller park and there aren't a lot of choices to pick from.

The first lady we met with had her lot and a fifth wheel for $60,000.  Sounded like a really good deal and we would have considered it except we didn't like the lot at all.  It is right next to the highway and covered with gravel and very sunny.

The other property was a park model right on the banks of the river and went for $98,000.  We didn't even bother calling them as it was more than we wanted to invest.

Then we saw lot 208, for sale for $20,000.  It has grass and lots of big trees, making it very shady and attractive.  It also provides a view of the Mississippi River.  Not a full view, since there is another unit in front of us, but we can see part of the river.  This was the one for us.  We felt it was important to get ahead of the herd that may be leaving this campground next year.

This is our lot.  The trailer belongs to a man currently renting the space, but this is where our new home will be.
Calls were made and arrangements for sending a deposit on the property.  We will meet with the owners early September to finalize the deal.  It is very comforting to know that we own this land and nobody can ever kick us off if there is a sale since the association has to all agree to such a thing.

During one of our stops to look at destination trailers to put on this new lot, we stopped back at "our land" to get some measurements and see it again.  Thankfully, we both still liked what we saw.

Why a destination trailer instead of a park model?  Well, even though they are roughly the same cost there are advantages to having a house on wheels.  As long as it remains under 400 square feet and is mobile it is licensed with the DMV instead of having to pay property taxes.  Oh the things you learn as you delve into these matters.

The hunt is really getting intense now!

Long Live the Queen

Monday, August 15, 2016

A Blip in Our Plans

We have talked for a long time now about setting down a larger trailer on our lot in Ham Lake.  Then adding a deck and a storage shed.  This is such a slice of Heaven for us in our shady little oasis.

Thankfully this was going to take place next year, but then there was "the meeting".

We expected the topic of the meeting to be the retirement of Jack and Karen, the caretakers of the campground.  But was something else completely different.

The owner of the campground explained that he had a 45% ownership and had dreamed of adding tree houses and several other improvements.  They had just upgraded the electrical services recently.

However, with the recent death of his father it seems the remaining 55% was divided between him and his five sisters.  Let's just say they don't share his vision in developing the campground.

As often happens upon the reading of the will, this has split the family apart and his sisters (who he now refers to as the golddiggers) and he are no longer speaking.  It is very clear they want the property put up for sale and to split up the money as soon as possible.

Gulp.  I'm really glad we didn't put anything down permanently on our lot this year.  You can imagine our panic.

There are very few campgrounds near the Twin Cities.  The other one nearest to this one has a maximum stay of 14 days, not ideal for full-timers.  The other choice would be the KOA, which stands for "Keep On Adding" and is known for being overpriced...not to mention crawling with young children.

It would sure to nice to know we had a home when we return next spring.

Long Live the Homeless Queen

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Visitors...we get visitors

It's always fun  seeing friends we have met on the road, but I never guessed it would extend to George and Gracie as well.

We have an orange cat in the neighborhood named Lucky.  I guess because he's allowed to roam about outdoors like our cats wish they could.

He often comes over and sits on the table to visit George and Gracie, and sometimes jumps on the tunnel itself.

Today he came right to the front door calling.  I think he and George have a kind of orange bromance going on.

Long Live the Queen

Friday, August 12, 2016

Arizona Dreaming

This is our year to head west again and we have set our sights on a couple of places in Arizona.

Our first visit will be for the month of November at Palm Creek RV Resort, where they have 32 pickleball courts.  This is mecca for those of us who love the game.  Have you ever seen such a beautiful sight?

It is also where the 2016 National Championships are held and we will have front row seats to the event.  I have a friend who competes in the over 70's singles competition and I'll be able to cheer her on.

Our plan during our stay in Mesa is to find some property to buy so we have a place to visit in the winter or use as rental property.  There are only five parks in the Mesa area that are owned by the residents and due to pet limitations and other factors, we have narrowed it down to two.

We have stayed at Carriage Manor in the past, and it's certainly a place we wouldn't mind having a permanent winter get away.   Left Brains sister, Sister Mary, lives there with her husband Bill.  It would be nice to have family close by.

But to fully explore all possibilities I booked us for the four months at Roadhaven RV in Apache Junction.  Neither of these are far from each other and we'll be scouting both areas fully.

It's been a lot of fun full-timing in our RV but with the increase of my cooking the space feels smaller and smaller all the time.  I could really use a larger kitchen and more storage space for all my cooking and baking stuff.  Oh to be able to just reach into a cupboard for something!

The thought of jumping up into something 400 square feet or larger has just made me giddy!  We don't require anything fancy or splendid.  It just has to be sound and have a good kitchen and living area, which most of these models do.

The initial investment is more, but the monthly maintenance fees are much less and it should provide an inexpensive option to getting away for the winter.

The next logical step would be to find something larger for our lot in Ham Lake, but we'll deal with one thing at a time.

Long Live the Queen

Paleo Chocolate Pudding

This is from Elena's Pantry blog and it only uses two ingredients.  How simple is that?

You melt one cup of dark chocolate chunks, mixed with one cup of coconut milk over low heat.  I just tossed in the whole can of coconut milk since it was just a smidge over the one cup.

Once these are melted and blended together you pour them into four small bowls and chill for three hours.

The next time I make this I'm going to try whipping it to see if it might be lighter, like a mousse.  But it's pretty darn tasty just the way it is.

We topped ours with a little whipped cream and raspberries...YUM.


Long Live the Queen of Sweet Treats

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Kitchen necessities

Now that I'm baking our own bread and making gluten free everything, I decided I needed better tools.  Thank goodness for online shopping and Amazon making it so easy to indulge in these endeavors. 

After holding the hand mixer for long periods of time to mix the batter for our bread, I decided enough was enough and ordered a Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  I thought about getting the yellow one, but since I don't know what our future decor might look like I opted for silver.  It is a joy to dump in my ingredients and walk away while I let it mix and stir for the six minutes required.

I opted for this Artisan Series because the bowl has a handle on it and a nice deep bowl that is narrow at the bottom.  The mixing attachments get to the sides with no problem.   It also came with the pour in splash guard.  This makes it a snap to have it mix the dry ingredients and then pour in the liquid portion.

I no sooner had cleared a space for it than I started to order accessories for it.  Now I have a cool attachment that slices and grates.

My other toy is the spiralizer.  Yeah, I know...I purchased the other one that has a manual crank, but I figured this will take up even less space and should be easier to use.  Supposedly it will core, peel and spiralize all at the same time.

Long Live the Queen of the Kitchen