Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Renovating is Underway

After several consultations with our interior designer, some impatience on Arch's part and several big decisions renovations are now under way in the still unnamed motorhome.

(if you left click on the photos they will open in a larger frame)

First Arch tackled the TV. This was a no-brainer as he wanted to be able to watch golf while he worked.
Before                          In Progress
The new flat screen TVs do not match the old one in size so Arch will fashion a new door above to hide the reno. This will require a trip to East Coast Specialty Hardwoods to find a suitable wood and stain. The folks there supply the wood for the spreader bars in our hammocks and Sarah and Sean, and Sarah's late father, Robert Matheson, have been great advisers about all things wood over the years.

Next, the floor. No way we wanted carpet in the living area. The plan was to use engineered hardwood but discovered it would add too much weight to the motorhome so used laminate instead. I think it will look great when the construction mess disappears.
Before                              In Progress
You can see Arch sitting in the entry in the in progress photo. He is trying to decide what to do with the stairs.

I hated the window treatments so off they came - we will install new valences and side curtains. I have all the day-night blinds in the house and am trying to clean them. Any suggestions appreciated. We would rather not replace them until we are sure this lifestyle is for us for the next few years.
Before                           In Progress
The dining area chairs will be recovered. To create more room, we are thinking of taking only two with us and using folding chairs when we have guests.

The bathroom is presenting lots of challenges but we are working our way through them. I am cleaning taps and the sink in the house. We will use them until we are in an area with a good RV supplies store. I want to look before purchasing. Another hate - the glass shower doors - they are so hard to clean really well around the frame so out they go. We will use a shower curtain. Arch is working on a replacement for the fake gold ridged thing around the sink.
Before                           In Progress
Sorry, the before photo is a bit blurry.

In both the main living area (should I call it the "great room") and the bedroom there is a decor item framing the slides that is a fuzzy green fabric framed the with wood that matches the cabinets. Very dated. We originally planned to replace the fabric with some of the flooring but when we removed the fabric we found good plywood so we are simply staining it to match the floor. 
Before                                After
Next comes the fun part. Wallpaper. I will likely do this while Arch tends to exterior issues. We long ago learned not to wallpaper together. It is very bad for a marriage.

These are our decor choices:
The pebble wallpaper will go in the bathroom, the striped (a little hard to see - it is cream with a dark pin stripe) in the rest of the motorhome. Fabrics are for window treatments and to cover dining chairs. We will use the beige tiles as a back splash behind the sink areas in both the kitchen and bathroom.

But, it is beautiful here today so we are going golfing :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Two BIG Advantages to Full-Time RVing

I've just realized two great advantages to full-time RVing that had not crossed my mind.

  • I spent an hour and half doing the daily "kitchen clean-up" at home today (and everyday). That amount of time will clean the kitchen, bathroom, cat's dirt box and much more in the motorhome. 
  • Yesterday I purchased paper products - toilet paper, Kleenex, etc. for our 4 bathrooms, cost $45 - think how far that will go with one bathroom! That is a round of golf!
Think of all the time I am going to have to play!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Great Week of Planning

Now that the baby is here the work has begun. We really accomplished quit a bit so far:

  • Don't laugh but we hired a decorator to advise us and help redo the interior. We are planning to make mostly cosmetic changes and think a pair of trained eyes will be helpful. So now we are awaiting her recommendations.
  • At the flooring store Arch found someone to advise him on how to install the wood floor. This young fellow just finished helping his father-in-law install a floor in his motorhome and volunteered to do a plan for Arch. 
  • We (Arch in the drivers seat, me from the passenger seat - I do my best driving here :) ) have driven it 3 times on the roads around the neighbourhood and feel quite confident now. Our local roads are very narrow, twisty and hilly so I doubt if we will ever run into any more difficult to manoeuvre. This also means Arch has backed it up our 450 ft. driveway 3 times - again, probably the most difficult backing-up he will need to do.
  • A very mechanically experienced neighbour dropped in and spent 2 hours going over every inch of the motorhome. Thanks Langis. Mechanically, she is in excellent condition and needs only some minor fixes, which Arch is working on.
  • She has received her Canadian seal of approval and Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Inspection sticker so anything we do from here on in is cosmetic.
It's a long, long, narrow, rock-lined driveway to back up
Today it is freezing raining/snowing here so we are sitting around waiting for spring. According to the weather people we will be golfing this weekend. Can hardly wait.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

One Pot Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

Another great recipe for the RV kitchen

Edna's Staebler was one of Canada's most loved cookbook authors. She lived at Sunfish Lake, just outside Waterloo, Ontario. In the heart of Mennonite country. Her cookbook, Food that Really Schmecks, included a recipe, Rigglevake cookies, which she received from an Old Order Mennonite friend. This recipe produced cookies that were both crisp and chewy, and very similar in nature to a product Proctor and Gamble was producing and had patented in the late 1970s, early 1980s.

However, under copyright law, a recipe that has been published is considered to be in the public domain, and therefore cannot be used as the basis for a patent. Competitor, Nabisco, wanted to produce a similar cookie, and if they could prove that the recipe described in Food That Really Schmecks was the basis for Proctor and Gamble's cookie recipe, they could then argue that the patent should not have been granted, and that Nabisco was therefore not infringing on the copyright by producing such a cookie. 

As a result corporate lawyers from both sides started visiting Edna (who considered herself a simple food writer and country woman) and her Old Order Mennonite friends to persuade them to take their side of the story. Bribes of trips, food, etc. etc. were offered. A lot was at stake – Proctor and Gamble’s exclusivity to produce the cookie vs. Nabisco’s right to produce a similar cookie. 

Word of this kerfuffle spread and when writer June Callwood dubbed the whole affair “The Cookies Wars” in a Globe and Mail article a legend was born. You can read more details here.

The reason I am telling you this story is that I have no idea the source of this recipe for Broccoli and Cheddar Soup. I did not create it so it must be published somewhere in the public domain or I wouldn’t have it – right? So I am safe to publish it here without credit. 
Broccoli and Cheddar Soup
2T Olive Oil
1 ½ C thinly sliced onion
1T minced garlic
1t salt
¼ t cayenne pepper
5 C chicken or vegetable stock
4 C coarsely chopped broccoli
1 ½ C shredded sharp cheddar – the better the cheese, the better the soup
-Heat olive oil, add onion, garlic, salt and cayenne pepper. Saute over medium heat. until onions are tender. Be careful not to overcook the garlic – it will turn bitter.
-Add stock and bring to a boil. Add broccoli. Cover and cook over gentle heat until broccoli is tender. About 5 minutes. 
-Blend in the pot with the immersion blender, Stir in shredded cheddar and serve. 

Makes 4 servings. Freezes well. It is also excellent made with gruyere cheese.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Our New Baby Finally Arrived

The new-to-us motorhome has arrived, two days late, but she is here.  She is perfect and has been thoroughly inspected. My sister and her husband arrived to check out the sofa sleeper bed. It must be changed. My niece and nephew arrived with the grand nieces and nephews. The kids wanted to take it for a spin. Not yet I am afraid. Soon though. The neigbours were over and baptized it with beer and tea. Champagne will come after it is fixed up.  We have a lot of work to do but that will be the fun part. (If you click on the pictures they will enlarge.)
It has arrived but missed the driveway.
Getting over this section was tricky - the gravel on the driveway was very soft.
It (we really must come up with a name for the poor girl - all suggestions welcome) is towing a boat that is for resale if you are interested.
She made it and is now parked in front of the garage
She need a good bath as she came through a lot of snow and muck. Then it was time to inspect our new home.
Lots of good storage in bedroom. 
The bed is queen-size - we could fit a king-size one in but would need to take out the night tables.The mattress, mirror and TV must go. There is room for a nice painting where the mirror is and Arch is trying to figure out how to install a flat screen TV. The bed is in the slide and both slides work perfectly.

Bathroom is large but dated.
You see only half the bathroom here. We will replace the sink and both sets of taps and the shower head. Counter top is OK. The shower doors must go. I hate those things - way too hard to clean the nooks and corners. The floor is carpeted - yuck. That must go! As a matter of fact the whole place is carpeted and must be replaced.

The kitchen is small but function-able
There is a great, side-by-side refrigerator freezer with an ice maker, a large microwave, a 3 burner range with a small oven and a 2 compartment sink. Counter top is Corian. Not much counter space - I will be working on more simple-to-prepare recipes.

table and chairs in dining area
This is great and there is enough room that we can move them around to play cards, etc. No peeking over the opponents shoulder you know. Will probably recover the chairs.
The sofa must go
It is a "davenport-style" sofa,  that is, the back goes down to make a bed, and is too short and amazingly uncomfortable, I don't think even Tara will sleep on this. It is bolted to the slide so I am not sure how we are going to replace it with a sofa bed. All suggestions appreciated.
Arch is trying to get the TV out.
The driver and passenger seats turn to add seating to the "livingroom" and the other large chair is a recliner. They are a beige leather-like fabric and we will likely keep them - they are a little worn but very comfortable.
Most important of all, Tara has found her spot.
This is going to be a fun project. We purchased and fixed up homes in the past but this will be a first. Wish us luck.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Classic Tomato Soup

What makes a great lunch better than really good tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich? Not much, I think. It is comfort food at its best. But it's hard to find a really good tomato soup recipe - cookbook authors and chefs tend to "fancy it up" too much. This recipe, from Fine Cooking Magazine is the best one around and I use it all the time - it freezes well, is creamy yet uses no milk or cream. What more could you ask? Incidentally, I LOVE Fine Cooking Magazine. Their recipes are easy to understand and never fail. I changed the recipe slightly so it will be easier to make in our motorhome kitchen. You may want to check out the recipe in the magazine and do it their way.
Classic Tomato Soup

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, smashed and peeled
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
3 cups lower-salt chicken broth
28-oz. can whole peeled plum tomatoes (include the juice) I use San Marzano tomatoes* and break them up with a potato masher'
1-1/2 tsp. sugar
1 sprig fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh basil, chives, or dill, or a mixture of all three


In a nonreactive 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter over medium-low heat until the butter melts. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add the flour (I use the instant flour) and stir to coat the onion and garlic.

Add the broth, tomatoes, sugar, thyme, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat while stirring the mixture to make sure that the flour is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes.

Discard the thyme sprig. Let cool briefly and then purée in two or three batches in a blender or food processor. I use the immersion blender to do this right in the pot I cook the soup in. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reheat if necessary. Serve warm but not hot, garnished with the herbs.

*San Marzano is a variety of plum tomato, usually grown in Italy. I is hard to fine in Nova Scotia but they do sell it at Costco. Hopefully it will be easier to find as we discover Italian markets on our travels.