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Kitchen Tips…what we have learned so far living tiny!

As many of you know,  we have transitioned from 2400 sq.ft. house to 1400 sq. ft. townhouse apartment this past fall.  During the time the house was for sale and during our (not to be repeated as too stressful) move- we spent a LOT of time in the sanctuary of our 1973 Avion LaGrande, 28 foot vintage travel trailer we affectionately call, “The Pewter Palace”.  We truly count our blessings for having her and the ability to have a place to lay our heads and feel released of cardboard boxes and all that goes along with a big move.

I found as I spent more and more time cooking in our tiny RV kitchen several very important things that i have carried forward into our small galley style kitchen– and some well, are just tips for RV kitchen day to day use.  When we eventually do our final transition to full time RV living some of these will really come into play while still more remain yet undiscovered.

A few tips to get started:

In the RV having a small double bowl sink is preferable over a large sink.  In the RV the dual sink allows for putting in one of those small dish drainer racks so you do not need to clutter up precious counter space with a rack or pad. (I only have a large sink in our apartment, which i like but I do not use a dish drying rack on the counter.  I have a pad I store away under the sink for when needed, but for the most part I use my dishwasher far more, and when I do have dishes that need drying, I dry them right away and put them away instantly.  Keeping a cleaned off tidy counter is far more satisfying for me now).

My sink area in the Pewter Palace when we first bought it (on left) and before I added my personal touches. It gives you a good idea of layout though and the dual sink setup.  We luckily found the original cutting board covers for each sink buried under junk under the sink.  You can see what I mean by precious counter space!  Picture on right was from Summer 2017 at the Tin Can Tourist NE Rally at Sampson State Park in the Finger Lakes Region of upstate NY.

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Dual RV sink also allows for:

  • Easier to rinse lettuce, veggies, etc.
  • A place to store counter items when rolling down the road ( I wrap items in dry dishtowels to prevent rattling)
  • Filled with ice cubes they both make a dandy place to put cold beer or dish that needs to be kept cold during entertaining
  • You typically do not have large platters or serving pieces on an RV so you do not need a large basin sink to fully submerge dishes.
  • One sink can double as storage space for your loaf of bread or bagels (i just put the sink cover on and wholla–bread is handy for sandwich making but not taking up space in fridge or cupboard.

Collapsible Bowls, Measuring Cups, Food Storage Containers and Strainers are awesome!                                       

GET SQUARE when you can!

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I just purchased these on Amazon based on referral by a full time RVer.  Yes, it totally makes sense to have square items in a square cupboard!

There are ever increasing amounts of online and big box (Bed, Bath and Beyond for one) who are selling collapsible kitchen gear.  Get square shapes when you can because they sit next to each other or other items in storage easier in cupboards and drawers.  Ditto on the square shapes for food storage containers too.

Keep your collapsible bowls in the cupboard right above your head at the sink.  These bowls will be used at least two times a day and should be readily handy and not buried.

Try to get bowls that come with lids.  They double as food storage as needed in a pinch but do not rely on them—otherwise when you need it to scramble eggs in one morning you are SOL and have to dump your leftovers or scramble the eggs in your coffee mug.

Get one BIG collapsible mixing bowl besides 2-3 that are small , 4-7″ diameter to medium (9″ diameter).  That is truly all you need.   That big size mixing bowl (about 11-13″ diameter) does come in handy for making a big pot luck salad to share, popcorn by the fire pit or even for soaking some ketchup stained shirt in some OxiClean (yeah…been there!).

To Strain or Not to Strain—that is the question!   In my quest to go collapsible to save precious space I did purchase a collapsible strainer for the Pewter Palace.  Thinking it would be perfect for pasta straining and……hmmmm???…what else would i use it for?  Well, actually in our first year of camping (including our four months nearly full timing) I have only used it once.  I really prefer my flat Pampered Chef grey pot drainer paddle.  Here is a photo because I cannot remember what they call it.  I love this thing and use it weekly at home too.  This is one item that I admit I will have to purchase one exclusively for the RV and just have not gotten around to it.  It is so easy to use for any size pots (more on them later too!) and is flat and simple.  So who knows….the question of to Strain or not to Strain- may make my collapsible strainer end up for sale at one of our RV rally swap meet sessions.  Space is way too valuable in an RV to have stuff in a cupboard that is not used nearly every day.

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One more collapsible item I purchased was a very large collapsible bucket.  It sits kinda buried under my kitchen sink but because it folds down to only about a 1.5″ high it does not really take up much space.  We really could not fit a 5 gallon plastic bucket anywhere in our rig (inside or outside storage) so this does the trick.  Additionally, it comes in handy if you want to give your baby (I am talking about your RV here….not a real baby) a bath or as we found this summer when Kevin needed to soak his feet….it worked awesome!

In a pinch, the large collapsible bucket can also be used for:

  • toting laundry to and from the campsite laundry facilities
  • a game bucket to have your grandkids try to aim for with some balls or acorn tops or anything handy-well, almost anything handy.
  • makes a great cooler for beer when filled with ice when entertaining
  • soak dirty clothes in and do a mini laundry on the fly when needed
  • fill up to use as a clean water flush when cleaning your black/grey water systems

Another gadget that I have found to be indispensable, easy care and to store is my stove top toaster (best one ever!) which I have already done a separate blog post in detail about this gadget if you want to order one yourself.  This thing is non mechanical so great for boondocking.  Does not take up even a fraction of what an electric two slice toaster would take up in storing but also does not take away my counter space either!

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Dishes, plates, cereal bowls, coffee mugs Only put onboard a dish service for four max.  I use Corelle ware because it is light, takes a beating and does not break as easy as iron stone.  I do not like plastic plates for anything beyond a sandwich.  It is plenty, just wash your dishes and put them right away!  We do have some papergoods on board but do not use them routinely unless boondocking.

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Pots and pans can be kept to a minimum too.  You are camping—use the outside grill!  we have one small deep saucepan, one 9″ diameter deep sauce pan (that’s for that pasta or rice!) and two very small non stick fry pans, one with a lid.  I do not use cast iron because it is too heavy.  I do have one cast iron oblong sided griddle (an antique and rare) that i will bring when the grand kids or company come camping with us just to use on the grill or if pancakes are called for so I can do a decent size batch.

Coffee maker?  We LOVE our Farberware 10 cup Perculator.   I refuse to go the Keurig route because of space it takes up, wastefulness of those pod cups and the cost!  See a past blog post or our FB page for more info on our Perculator.  Again, no taking up counter space.  Easy to store in the cupboard, makes outstanding coffee.  Hint–we love to grind our own so I do pre-grind a bunch of coffee and put it in my Coffee keeper on board.  I will have to do a future post on that container because it is outstanding too and easily purchased on Amazon. (yeah, you are getting it that I do a lot of shopping there.  That is because I also have a CC tied to my Amazon so I get amazing points for stuff I would be purchasing locally every week like gas, groceries, or even co-pays at MD appointments.  Then I go “RV shopping” to Amazon and buy things with my points….no cash outlay– nice!

Hanging String Bags for Produce, Baked Goods, Fruits:  These babies are the best way to not fill up your 8 cubic foot fridge with odd sized, big stuff.  We simply screwed some of those safety clip cup hooks under this wood shelf and hook them in there.  Very secure and easy access.  Plus I have definitely noticed that the fruit and veggies keep longer because of air flow.  Plus, right handy when doing meal prep.

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They are completely washable and can also double for other things when needed;

  • Like a bag to take towels and gear to the lake, beach or pool.
  • A bag to use to put plastic dishes in to toss into a stream to wash off if water is getting low in holding tanks
  • Laundry bag for dirties
  • Tote sandbox or pool toys for kiddo’s.

We originally kept them up and with food in them when rolling down the road, but Kevin has since suggested that they come down if I have heavy things in them like in this photo where I had lot of apples.   So now I will just sit then in the sink or on the dinette bench seat when traveling just so we are not putting undo strain on the underside of the wood shelf.

12 slot large cupcake pans (one for each person).  THIS is a Keeper for sure!  We had to learn it the hard way as newbies and run to the closest WalMart when at our first TCT Rally.  Many rallies have fabulous Pot Luck Dinners built into the group social plans.  They are wonderful, provide lo-cost ways to get your meals and outstanding ways to meet fellow RVers.  True long timer’s know the best thing to do is to bring a cupcake pan as your plate!!  This way you take samples of all the yummies you want, ok–you can fill a few of the spaces with chili and desserts if that pleases you!  You may be tempted to not look quite so much like a glutton by only buying a nine or six slot pan, but honestly the 12 slot is the best because you can do salads, veggies, main course and dessert in one swoop.  As anyone knows…camping folks are hungry folks and if you do not snag something your first time in line- it may not be there when you go up for seconds! This cup cake pan plate allows you to not have to bring a separate bowl for any soups or chili’s (there are always awesome chili’s of all types that are brought to these pot lucks).  And it is FAR easier not to have to try to balance carrying all of that either.  This was one of those —wow!!…what a great idea things that we learned from experienced campers and we cherish it totally and love the fact we may be passing on this tip to someone reading this blog that is a newbie like us!

Oh—almost forgot—–Your oven?  we do have one- have not used it yet but it does work… But I, like tons of other RVers, find it great for storing things in!  I keep my stove top toasters( yes, we have two), a disposable aluminum roasting pan and one cookie sheet in there.  Just never, ever store anything on that lower level area where your gas pilot inlet is.  Only store on the wire rack shelf.

Hope you have enjoyed my musings…..get your cupcake pan!  Smell the coffee and get out there and enjoy cooking in a tiny kitchen you call home!

~~  One Life….Live it!

2018 Silver Avion Fellowship Rally is on!

Info about this year’s gathering of fellow Avion owners has been posted on Facebook. I will try to insert the link below but for some reason the link is not working when I have tried to post it on our Pewter Palace Facebook page. If you have trouble just go to Facebook and search for  “silver avion fellowship rally” and find the one that is in Elkhart Indiana.

We may not get to this awesome rally this year just because I only have limited vacation time from work and other obligations and planned travel may gobble up that precious time.

But we had such a good time last year as newbies that I would encourage any Avion owners to attend.

The folks were so friendly and welcoming and we learned a lot. It is so cool seeing the inside of other Avions too!!

Have fun and tell them Luisa and Kevin Sherman sent you!!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/284409031667225/permalink/1544786348962814/

The Long Hibernation

Winters come early and linger late here in the Adirondacks of NY.  Our bevolved Pewter Palace is safe and sound tucked into her “den” till at least April.  It is not uncommon to still see some snow piles then.

This fall, we sold our big house and moved into a townhouse apartment. We are loving our new place and the decision we made. The only downside is that obviously we no longer could have our camper in our backyard. We miss her a lot and miss the convenience of being able to get on board in a minute notice to putter or work on some things. Heck I think we would even spend some nights on her too since we know our furnace works like a charm. But alas, other arrangements had to be made.

We decided to rent a large 45 foot long indoor RV storage garage to keep her in as well as our other reenacting gear, spare tools and stuff we want, at leaat for now.

I will tell you that last week we went over to check on her and look for some Xmas stuff I cannot seem to track down. Yikes when we got there and opened up the overhead door we both were flooded with emotion and realized how much we truly miss not living in her. We quickly went on board and were like petting her and cooing to her. I don’t know why we are so attached to this rig but we are. Maybe it’s because we know she will be our full time home in ten years. Maybe it’s because we love the German decor, maybe it’s the simplicity of life in a trailer where all you need is a reflection of really how little you need to be happy. Maybe a combination of everything.

I am sure that some of our friends who have been fortunate enough to inherit a family cabin or camp, or a beach cottage know how this feeling takes you over. You arrive to the door after stressful week at work, kick off your shoes and put on the slippers that you leave at your hideaway… And whammy… De-stress and comfort overwhelms you. That familiarity calms you and transports you into a different way of looking at life. I know… We feel it now too, but ours has wheels, so we also have the luxury of being able to change our view, She says with a big smile……

Sleep tight Pewtty Pal…. Spring will come and so will we!

Anderson Levelers are Awesome!

After using the traditional leveling blocks on our Class A Motorhome for five years we were anxious to find something better for our Avion.

Kevin is a YouTube Research fanatic and thank goodness he is! He found the Anderson Levelers System which is THE best thing going.

They are a bit more expensive than the blocks but are sturdy, rugged and do a far better and quicker job. They store easily too!

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We purchased the deluxe kit which also included an extra leveler and extra chocks, etc.  The Rapid Jack leveler also has come in handy with some challenging elevations we have encountered. It is called their Rapid Jack and it works on duel axles to allow for tire changing.

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Here is a great video to show you how they work.

The only thing we did wish that the levelers were just another two inches wider because we would prefer our tires did not extend past the levelers at all. This issue does not affect their use though. They are awesome!  Also as some users have recommended, on certain terrain they could slip when you are trying to roll up onto them. We did find what happened to us at one campground was the campsite had a lot of fresh new small gravel and our leveler plowed forward rather than the tire being able bite and roll onto it. We believe fixing some of those stair tread asphalt type strips would solve this problem.

Our online friends at “Less Junk, More Journey” and Courtney and Steve from “AStreamin’ Life” both use them.

Get some! You will not be sorry!!

Winter Quarters 2017-2018

It’s November 1st and last weekend we Sadly had to put the Pewter Palace into winter storage.

Living in upstate New York,  at the entry region to the Adirondack Mountains,  we can easily get snow in November and we average about 9-10 total feet of snowfall annually. This fall was exceptionally warm and that allowed us to extend out camping season into third week of October with Temps so nice we only out the heat on a few mornings for a half hour. Then the rest of the days were in mid to high 70’s which was awesome. Several evenings we sat at our campfire with Pj’s,  bathrobe and slippers. Nice!!

Now that we have sold our house and downsized into a townhouse apartment we needed a place to store the trailer year round. Our apartment complex does not have any common parking or storage lot like some do.

We had toyed with renting a garage to keep the Palace in from the start. Knowing many Avion and vintage trailer promote inside storage for best preservation we knew that was the route to go if we could. Last year she was inside but our former storage place got locked up for winter and we had no access. We didn’t like that because sometimes we have small projects we could be working on over winters.

Needing space for some of our belongings that we knew could not fit into apartment (yes still more downsizing to go for sure) it seemed like a no Brainer to get a storage garage to handle all our needs.

We found a great place one exit south of us at exit 18 which caters to RV and boat owners. It’s brand new, clean and we have electric outlets. The garage is 43’long x14′ wide x super tall over 20′.  Big huge class A RVs have no problems getting in.

Kevin got the Pewter Palace backed in perfectly on first try. Tires up on rubber pads to breath and off concrete, water lines all blown out and RV antifreeze down the sinks, tub and toilet and we are all set. Till early spring!

We will be itching on get her out and will shoot for March or April at the latest to get in a nice long second camping season.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 things we have learned in Year #1 of Avion Life

It’s mid October 2017 and while we are celebrating owning our Avion for one year I have decided to reflect back on things learned over the past 12 months.

Mind you, our past twelve months might be considered a bit out of the norm for most recreational RV owners. We bought our Avion in October, slept on her one night (in our driveway) before tucking her into winter storage for four months. In spring we decided to sell our big 2650 Sq.  ft farmhouse and downsize to a 1400 Sq ft townhouse apartment in town. Our house sold in nine days with a contract happening two days after we got back from our first big RV trip of 1800 miles to Ontario, MI, Indiana, OH and back thru NY. We decided at that point we loved living on board so much we would continue to do that so we could keep the house clean and more efficiently sort, purge and pack necessary things to keep for moving. We held four big tag/barn sales selling tons of stuff. Enough in fact to pay for our move!

Now let’s get to our top 10 things we learned: (in no special order)

1.  The aerodynamic design of the Avions is second to none. Kevin has to look in the rear view to remind himself she is still there. Our 28 foot length is the perfect size for us.

2. We are thankful to have black and grey waste tanks. Older Avion models only had one. However, without full hook ups the grey water tank fills in about 4 days.  Smaller tank than our more modern Class A had.  We used the house toilet so cannot really measure that. We used plastic step stools in tub to keep our stored stuff out of grey water back flow. Yes, u will know its time to dump your grey water when u see dish water coming up in tub drain. No biggie, it is essentially just soapy water.

3. Command hooks are priceless to put inside closet doors. Lift up style Cabinet hinges loosen up with regular use so keep a screw driver handy to tighten every week or so.

4. Our 24 pocket fabric shoe organizer mounted just inside our door on wall of refrigerator has been one of the best tips yet! Thank you Courtney & Steve of A Streamin Life!! It makes a great handy place for dog leashes, flashlight, recycle bags, work gloves, outgoing mail and bug spray.

5. An old fashioned but new Farberware percultor makes the best coffee and does not need electricity nor takes up counter space. Ditto for my box toasters which I have done a separate post on.

6. As a safety precaution it is good practice to shut off the water intake valve in the outside compartment when leaving for work for the day. Not that anything has happened, but if something had gone awry then water would not have been flowing into our trailer all day. I had to put a reminder note on inside our screen door to remember each morning!

7. We need so much less than we think we do. We have done so well with two fry pans, two small sauce pans and a service for four of dishes, cups, and silverware. It’s all we need. Also, wash, dry and put away after every meal. Everything has a place and everything in its place keeps order in small places. Now that we live ten feet from our beds, we each make our bed everyday too!

8. People give you some odd looks when in a vintage trailer. Avion owners and vintage trailer rallies are a blast and super fun.

9. I am still learning how to line up the car to the hitch ball.  But the LevelMatePRO is awesome for leveling!

10.  We have Learned that living in 200 Sq. Ft is not as tough as we thought. It actually is very relaxing and evokes a sense of freedom from other encbrances that is hard to explain.

This is a good place to end our first year with our Pewter Palace Avion.

Good night all!

Mor-Ryde Jack Lift Hook for Avion Travel Trailers

Here is our video on how to use the original Mor-Ryde Bottle Jack Lift Plate.

This original piece of equipment has become quite rare to find because along the way subsequent owners did not know what that somewhat rusted, odd shaped thing was. Lucky for us, our previous owner inherited his trailer from his Uncle who was an old-timer and had owned our trailer for over 20 years taking her to Florida annually and also to Alaska and California.  He knew the value of having this little piece of metal to ensure no damage would be done to the Mor-Ryde suspension in case of a need for a tire change.

We hope this video will assist those who have this equipment, maybe packed way low in one of the storage bins on your trailer.  This coming winter, Kevin plans to get these replicated and we should have them for sale.  Let us know if you are interested and we will follow up with you when availability and pricing becomes known.

We appreciate your comments on the video.  If you like it please give us a thumbs up!

 

 

Phase One-Rehab update 4-21-17: Window seals, roof fan work

News update and photos in from Bill “Fletch” Fletcher owner of Fletcher’s Trailer Restoration and Sales in Trumansburg NY (Finger Lakes Region) was received today. Owner Fletch has two Avions he personally owns and has restored and maintains. Plus he has a sales yard full of some really cool vintage aluminum trailers ready for their new owners to finish off.  I saw a Spartan that was awesome and ready for a new interior!  Kevin was partial to the Holiday Rambler that Fletch owns and uses.  Kevin was raised up during his youth with his parents owning several Holiday Ramblers and ultimately with so many kids (Kevin is youngest of 8) they owned a 32 footer.

Here is our Pewter Palace parked snug and a bug in a rug indoors while being worked on.

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The palace is inside the shop and windows and exterior curbside compartment being recaulked with Par Bond which is the aluminum color caulk/sealant of choice for aluminum trailers.

2017-04-21 15.21.38It looks great and will certainly provide some needed sealant especially for that outside compartment that holds our leveling blocks, etc.  Not that anything in there cannot get wet, but it also provides more protection so that moisture does not get in there and possibly compromise any adjoining internal areas like the bathtub area, etc.

Good news is that Fletch said our roof and its seams, and sealants around roof vents, etc looks quite good.  He has ordered Eternabond tape to go over a few seams but for the most part she is in really good shape.   Yeah!  We had not seen any but wanted to be sure.

They are also working on replacing the roof fan shrouds with the new ones we had already purchased direct from Cayo in Watervliet, Michigan–the guru of Avions and whose family started the company.  Chuck Cayo continues to be the go to man for things having to do with Avions and their restoration.  These shrouds were so hard to find, that he took initiative to have a prototype made up and now offers replacements identical to the originals.  These new ones are nice a light, bright and clean looking and will certainly last another 40 years.  Fletch will then replace the toggle switches and motors for the fans.  I in the meantime will be restoring the mesh screens that get inserted at the final stage inside.  Once complete…we will be all set.  These are the 18″ square fans which are much larger than the typical fantastic fans made today (14″) and really they let a lot of nice light in too.  One thing I wish we did have that newer Airstreams have is a skylight…but oh well…we have a vintage rig and we love her.

Here is E.J. one of the workers at Fletcher’s fitting up the holes on the new shrouds using the original  ones for template for drill holes.  Note the brittle, almost butterscotch color of the 44 year old ones.  I will be doing a whole separate blog page just on the roof fan systems since Avion restorer’s who have these are always sharing photos and tips.

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2017-04-21 22.52.40We also have a few windows where the gaskets around the windows after 40+ years have either broken off in small sections or have shrunk where the seal is not sufficient. Fletch is on the hunt for the right stuff….

This is the curbside front window which is the one that we knew was leaking a slow leak last fall. Definitely have to get it fixed.  It is great that we were able to get our rig out about two weeks ahead of Fletch’s original schedule  because he got a chance to start working on her earlier than expected.

We continue to amass stuff to outfit the inside.  I have yet to begin working on the curtain rehab….more to come!

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Removing old caulk and applying new Par Bond sealant.  See the difference below on top track of window.

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P.S.  Sorry some of these photos are a bit wonky.  Fletch sent them embedded in an email and I had a really tough time working with them and could not download them separately so I had to use screen shot images.

Handy Heater

Took advantage of the seasonal display at Lowes on space heaters, etc.  Will work well to warm the entire trailer when we are hooked up to shore power and we can save our LP.

We bought this great little electric heater in a beautiful wood cabinet on three sides. It will fit perfect next to our dinette bench on the street side and make a perfect end table too.   1500 watts and draws 12.5 amps. Has thermostat remote, blower settings  etc. Sweet!! $99.00 a good buy.

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Winter Wait Game

Probably the hardest thing about this winter is waiting to get back to projects needing to be done on the Pewter Palace.

I have found the fabric to make the dinette cushion slipcovers but also have decided to spend the money to have them professionally made.  This will give me time to  make the curtains and throw pillow covers.  Truth is I hate working with sewing in zippers and do not want to mess that up.

Meanwhile Kevin is scouring YouTube to find countless videos on reviews of duel fuel generators,  and bloggers on full timing.  Oh how I wish we could be one of them right now!

The Champion Duel Fuel 3400 or 3500 generator  seem to be leading the pack.

We did take advantage of our winter season  recently and purchased  an awesome Duraflame  electric heater. Model 9HM1000-C240.  It’s 1500 watts,  has remote control with thermostat  setting and timer if you want.  It is extremely quiet and kicks out a lot of heat.  We figured it will be perfect supplemental  heat  or if we are on shore power we will be able to save our LP.  The heater comes in a very nice wood stained enclosure which will match our kitchen cabinets and it will fit perfect in the open space between the dinette seat and sink cabinet. Will do a separate  post on this soon.

Back to my hot cocoa!!