Home Sweet Singlewide

Okay, I’m probably the only person on the planet to say this, but:

I’ve wanted to live in a singlewide for a long time now. It became a dream, one of those odd little ideas you grab hold of and find yourself unable to let go, an idea you keep worrying like a puppy with a squeaker toy.

So here we are, in a singlewide of our very own!

This is the largest single move we have made to simplify our lives. And if you are working on simplifying your life, the best move you can make is to somewhere more affordable and closer to your work.

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, real estate was the safest investment you could make. That has changed. There’s nothing quite as shocking as discovering that you owe far more on your home that you could possibly get out of it. Double the agony if you’ve lost your job and can’t afford to pay the mortgage.

Watching that kind of financial misery play out over and over again taught us that we didn’t have to keep our home. We were able to sell out and buy a far, far cheaper mobile home…and you know what? We are happier here!

Okay, now on the the FAQs!

Q: Aren’t mobile homes tacky?

A: Well, yeah. They pretty much are, if you buy an older home.  If you are the kind of person who can’t live without crown moulding, you may not be able to stand the idea of an older mobile. If, on the other hand you find an affordable deal on a mobile that makes your future much less stressful, that’s pretty heady stuff!

New mobile homes are another story. My daughter and son-in-law once bought a small (600 square feet) mobile home that featured “real” windows, drywall, and nice crown moulding in the main living areas. They then removed the “strips” on the drywall in the bed- and bath- rooms, painted in decorator colors, and took a wild turn and painted the kitchen cabinets as well. The place looked fantastic, like a real HOME, albeit a small one. The cost? About that of an average new car.

Our mobile home is kind of old style. It’s a 1997, which means it still pretty sturdy, but is starting to show wear. The previous owners, friends of ours, had upgraded it by adding a nice floating floor to the kitchen, and painting over or wallpapering all the orginal “trailer” wallpaper. The result was nice, but not exactly US, so we’ve been working to make it more “us.” There is still a lot of work to do, which is a good thing, because I’ll let you see it as we do it!

Q. Don’t you miss living in a real house?

A. No. Our home has a funny little feel all its own. It feels like a cross between a house, (with our nice kitchen floor, our standard appliances, our wainscoting and our replacement doors,) and a camper (the little plastic sinks in the bathroom, the tiny little strips of trim that stand in for mouldings.) My husband can replace those things as we have time, energy and money, but they don’t bother me. They actually kind of amuse me. Am I warm? Dry? Is there enough food and toilet paper in the house? If I have the basics, the rest is gravy.

That said, some paint colors just depress me, and we can’t have that. I needed some areas to be lighter and brighter before we ever moved in, so we did do a little painting.  🙂

Q. Isn’t it ugly on the outside?

A. Oh YEAH. It’s pretty hideous!! Newer trailers have vinyl siding and look pretty much like unimaginative little ranch houses. Old, metal-sided trailers look like….old, metal-sided trailers. There’s no hiding that kind of ugly, it just IS. We would like to install a metal roof and vinyl siding, but we’ll have to see how the money goes. If things don’t go well, we could simply paint the metal. (I’ve been reading about how to do this, and recommendations range from MAJOR sanding, priming and painting to simply painting with a series of Rustoleum cans from WalMart. o.O)

Q. What about underpinning? Do you have that plastic stuff that gets holes all in it when a weedeater hits it?

A. No. Once again, we were pretty fortunate. The previous owner had cinderblock underpinning installed before we ever moved in. (Bonus points: my husband was the one who layed the block, long before we ever thought about moving here.) The block still needs painting, stucco or rock to look nice, but it’s far more solid than the plastic stuff!

Q. C’mon, really…don’t you hate it?

A. No. I really think it’s kind of charming. And my friends seem to think the same thing…they’ve been pleasantly surprised by the place.

Q. What’s up with mobile home “glamour baths”?

A. Man, I wish I knew. Apparently mobile home designers in the 90’s thought that singlewide buyers wanted very large bathrooms with a lot of windows and mirrors.

I think this is pretty much the funniest thing in the world.

At 50, I don’t want a mirror in front of my bathtub. I have a hard enough time looking in the mirror to brush my teeth! And I certainly don’t want to have a window in front of my tub. Some things we REALLY don’t want to share with the neighbors!! Our first “major” makeover to our trailer was to close up the “glamour bath” area of one bathroom, making room for a small walk in closet. (We still have a double bowl sink area, toilet and shower.)

Q. Where are the pictures?

A. They’re coming, they’re coming. That’s for a later post. (Read: I am too lazy to do it this evening.)

For us, buying a mobile home was an excellent financial decision. We are quite content…but like any homeowners, we know there will be maintenance and updating projects to come.

What do you think? Have you ever lived in a mobile home? Have you ever considered it? Has the economic crunch changed your view of what makes an acceptable home?

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Dollar General vs. Walmart

Loathe ’em both? Hear me out. You know you shop there!

Wal-Marts are ubiquitous, (unless you live in a berg as small as mine!) enormous, and carry a bajillion items. What’s not to love?

Sometimes a bajillion choices is a bit…much.

Wal-Mart’s downside:

1. EVERYONE is there. Wal-Mart sells every consumer good known to man, which means all consumers eventually shop there, which causes it to be packed to capacity a LOT of the time. The 24-hour policy means you can escape the crowds by shopping at odd hours. But, should you choose to shop at 3 a.m., while there will be fewer customers, they will all have facial tattoos and carry chains. Plus, there will only be one exhausted, depressed, cashier, moving with the speed and grace of a slow loris on Ambien. Most choose to shop amongst the teeming crowds at a more reasonable time of day.

2. Wal-Mart is a giant store that calls for giant a family outing. Therefore, the typical mother shops for groceries along with her four children (so they can clamor for the toy section and toss rainbow-colored cereal in the cart when she isn’t looking,) and her husband (so he can renew his fishing license and buy cartons of 10w 30 motor oil.) The entire family shopping at once means more congestion in the shopping aisles.

3. There is apparently a secret Wal-Mart Shopping Rule Book that states that each shopper should do her level best to block the aisle she is on. This can be accomplished in one of several ways:

A. Have a lengthy palaver with a person in the aisle alongside you. Make sure both carts are side-by-side so that no sneaky upstarts can slide by.

B. Ignore your children. Children will, by nature, stand more or less alongside the cart. The more kids you have, the better. Have them shop on the left side of the aisle while you shop on the right. If you do this correctly, you can clear all competing shoppers off your aisle by moving along in a sweeping family tide. (Bonus points if you allow your children to roam freely, trying out spraypaint cans and taste-testing the fruit.)

C. No kids or friends to help with your aisle-blocking strategy? Then park your buggy on the right side of the aisle, and park your FACE on the left side of the aisle with your buttocks touching the cart. This will necessitate bending at a right angle, but, by so doing, you can COMPLETELY block the aisle with no help from anyone but your own cart. (Special note: be sure to be so utterly engrossed in picking out your items that you are oblivious to any other shoppers. If someone politely asks to pass, look up in utter shock, and do not under any circumstances move out of the way until you are so inclined.)

4. The real, honest-to-goodness problem with Wal-Mart is that there are TOO MANY CHOICES. Too many choices cause decision overload, and when people suffer from decision overload, they are paralyzed.  Overloaded shoppers stand in the aisles, mouths open, eyes vacant, as a little line of spittle runs from one mouth-corner.

Nowhere in the store is consumer paralysis more evident than in the coffee creamer section.  I approach this section confidently: I want half-and-half. It is the work of a moment to open the refrigerated dairy door, scoop up a carton, and depart.

But the door is always blocked by a consumer zombie.

Flavored coffee creamers have taken the market by storm. Aside from basics like vanilla, chocolate and hazelnut flavored creamers, there is an ever-changing array of choices, often to match the season. Almond Joy flavored creamer? Got it. Eggnog for winter? Oh yeah. Caramel macchiato? Why not? Pumpkin pie spice? Of course! Our beleaguered shopper must consider all the possibilities…conjuring up the flavors in her head, imagining those flavors married to coffee, and trying to decide not only whether she herself would like the product, but what her spouse will think. The typical shopper will muse there, holding the dairy fridge open with her rump, for a long, long time, totally oblivious to my ever-so-patient waiting. 🙂

Sigh.

Contrast that shopping experience with Dollar General.

1. Dollar General is small and not particularly exciting to visit, so often only one family member does the shopping, leaving the small aisles blessedly open.

2. More importantly, choices are limited. Unfortunately, Dollar General is not a full-service grocery store. You will never find a fresh vegetable lurking on its shelves, unless a shopper leaves behind a partially masticated celery stick. You will, however, (as my pragmatic husband states,) find enough to sustain life. Hungry? You can get canned tuna, mayo and bread. Once you find those items, your choices will be simple: Miracle Whip or actual mayonnaise? White or whole wheat? Even for the most indecisive person, those choices take seconds to make. I can even get cream for my coffee…without waiting for another shopper to struggle through fifty different flavor choices.

3. Because Dollar General is so small, there are more of them, so one is more likely to be close to your home. You thus save on fuel.

4. The small store means a small parking lot, so buying items is less of a physical challenge for the elderly, disabled, or just plain tired. Need toilet paper and kitty litter? You can be in and out in the time it takes to compile the list.

5. Because the items are so basic, you are rarely tempted to over-buy. There IS an as-seen-on-tv section, so you can impulse-shop over-the-top specialty items if you really want to, but most of the merchandise is simple and to the point. Want a coffee mug that says “coffee” on it? Done. Need underwear? Here’s your size. Don’t care for the brand? Tough. Take it or leave it.

Almost all your needs can be filled at Dollar General as long as you aren’t too picky about them. Need pantyhose? They’ve got them…but only in one off brand. Allergy medication? Check. Dog food? Of course. You can even bring the kids and let them pick out a toy…which shouldn’t take too long, as there is only a single aisle, and no one item is insanely expensive.

Sometimes we want a bajillion choices. I love fresh fruits and vegetables, and I get grouchy if I don’t have fresh cilantro and ginger near at hand.

But when I just need a couple of basic items, a tiny store, right around the corner, is a blessing and a relief.

Dollar General, the Wal-Mart of Seagrove.

C’mon small-towners…you know you love it!

Just. Do. One. Thing.

This was supposed to be the year of making powerful strides toward my goals.

It’s turning out to be more like the year of bumbling along, staring at my shoes, making forward progress in increments so small that snails pass me gleefully, puffing out their sticky little chests.

For instance, I was going to purify my diet, slim down, and purge my closets of clothing in double-digit sizes.

Bwahahaha! *Pounds floor, wipes tears of merriment.* Hoo boy, THAT hasn’t happened!

I really, really thought that blogging about my goal would have a positive effect. It’s the digital equivalent of shouting your intentions through a megaphone. Who wouldn’t be too embarrassed to follow up on a goal after shouting it out to the world?

Me, that’s who. I forgot to allow for my innate stubborn streak.

Actually, I forgot the stubborn streak existed. Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project wrote a great blog post: http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/2013/04/take-this-poll-are-you-an-upholder-questioner-rebel-or-obliger/ on what type of personality you have.  The idea behind her post: you can be one of four kinds of people: the kind of person who 1. obeys all the rules, 2. disobeys all the rules, 3. questions the rules & adopts them only if they fit, or 4. obeys others’ rules & disobeys self-imposed rules.

Well, I’ll dot every “i” and cross every “t” when it comes to outside rules…like obeying the law. But if I decide to do something good for myself, I’ll fight like a hormone-crazed baboon against my self-imposed rules.

If I decide that I shouldn’t eat sugar, for example, then sugar is all I can think about. All my friends’ Facebook posts seem to be filled with delectable items that begin with the magic words:  “mix two cups of sugar into one softened stick of butter” and end with “bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean”. O.o  And, of course, mouth-watering photos are included!

I go through all the types and variations of sugar, trying to reason away my own rules. If white sugar is bad, then brown sugar is not so bad, right? And if I bake something with honey, I’m practically Gandhi on a hunger strike.  Little bees will dance around my hair and I will grow strong and lean and allergy-free from all the wonderfulness I am consuming if it’s honey-sweetened, right? Right? Rightrightright?

If the recipe includes some items like a boxed cake mix or Cool Whip or pie filling, then I can pretend that no sugar is actually involved since the “s” word never actually appeared in the recipe.

Right?

Okay. Wrong. I know. I’m not stupid, just…stubborn. And maybe a little addicted.

I read an article the other day comparing refined white carbs to crack cocaine. There’s probably no one on earth who would say that crack is good for you…but it’s simply a refined product of the coca leaf, which makes (so I’m told,) a fine beverage when steeped.

Ditto with beets or corn or sugar cane: they are fine as vegetation, but when distilled down into the pure powdery essence of sugar or high fructose corn syrup, they become as addictive as any drug.

Well call me a crack addict and preheat the oven, ’cause there are more delicious recipes to be baked!

Ahem.

No, really…I continue to experiment with my diet and my own afflicted psychology. If announcing my intentions doesn’t work, I’ll try something else, and keep trying until something works.

One good thing in the last couple of months:  I’m off diet sodas. I’ve seen some positive effects from this…but weight loss is not one of them.

Just one thing. I’ve managed just one thing. *Reaches behind head to pat self on back.*

Now for the next dozen…

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Gluttony for the Downtrodden

The second reason my diet’s not working: The whole world is a hot mess.

It’s not just MY troubles that worry me, it’s everyone else’s. And the world is full of troubles. I worry about my children, my family, and my friends. I know people dealing with severely injured children, financial problems so severe the future looks bleak, illness that saps the colors out of life. I know caregivers caring for terminally ill loved ones, whose days are filled with adult diapers and repeating the same explanations over and over. And over.

I have friends with marital problems so severe they don’t know if they can stay married and sane at the same time. I have friends dealing with old age, watching their formerly strong selves bend and weaken, their bones crumble, eyesight fade and their minds slip.

And I feel the pain of every last one of them, because I don’t know how to look at pain and not feel it too.

And it’s enough to drive me to…well, cookies, apparently. The maple cream-filled kind. And chocolate lava cake. And peanut butter cups…let’s not forget those.

Ah yes. Gluttony. It’s going to do wonders to help my sick friends, the exhausted caregivers, the poor and desperate, the elderly and fragile.

What makes me think indulgence will be the antidote to misery? No, really…I can laugh at myself for being a moron or I can think about what it is I really feel when I choose to eat something phenomenally bad for me.

I think it goes something like this: Woe. Despair. Awfulness.

“Ahhhhh!!!!” (That’s very high-pitched, by the way…angels singing here.)

“Ray of sunshine! Oh joy! Delight will be minnnnne!!!”

Chomp. Chomp. chompchompchompchomp.

Here’s the deal: Bliss is mine for about…10 seconds. That first bite is wonderful, the following bites…not so much. And about 15 minutes later…

Oh agony. Oh my tummy. Why did I do that?

Hm. That was helpful.

A quick googling of depression & overeating shows that overeating has a drug-like effect. We actually do get a little “high” from snarfing down heavy foods…but then the let-down afterward (like a blood sugar drop!) can lead to further depression. (And further overeating.)

Okay, so I need to change. I’ve got to find fun (inexpensive!) things to do other than eat when I need a pick-me-up.

Here’s my ideas: have a hot cup of unsweetened tea, read a book, take a walk, give myself a library break, ten minutes of exercise, give myself the awesome pleasure of finally cleaning out that downstairs closet, ummmm….

Anyone have suggestions? What do you do when you’re trying not to stress-eat?

 

 

Why My Diet isn’t Working, Part 1

I promised I’d tell you about the diet. It’s not vegan, it’s not gluten-free, and the candida diet thing isn’t going so well, either.

What I would like to do is hide myself in a corner and pretend I never mentioned the word “diet,” let alone outlined an eating plan. But I did announce my intentions publicly.

Ah. How dumb was that?

So here’s the thing: I’m gonna lay it all out there. Here’s why my diet isn’t working:

1. Life stinks right now. No, really, it does! It’s winter. The sky is grey most of the time. It’s cold and miserable and I live in the woods, which means there is virtually no sunlight and no greenery. (If you plant the right kind of grass and shrubs, you can have greenery year-round…but that doesn’t work in the woods!) The greyness, the cold, the short days and the grim, bare trees, have me rather DOWN.

Ok, let’s tackle reason Number One:

1. Life stinks because it’s winter and cold and grey.

Yeah…but is the sun gonna shine BECAUSE I OVEREAT?

No. It’s still grey, dark and cold. And I’m looking at the grey, dark and cold feeling more “down” than ever because my stomach is bloated and my jeans are tight.

What could I change?

1. Here’s the thing: I crave greenery, and I can put it on my plate. Beautiful salads evoke SPRINGTIME. I may not be able to plant a beautiful garden out here in the woods, but I CAN buy one and eat it.

It can be springtime in my kitchen. Eat green. (And orange, and blue…all those bright, colorful fruits and vegetables will brighten up my mood and feed my cells!)

What else can I do?

2. Anything possible to soak up sunshine and greenery. Take every opportunity to get outside and enjoy a little sunshine. Schedule walks into the day if necessary. Take a walk to see the neighborhood goats, horses and cows. Stop…even for fifteen seconds, to really feel the sunshine on my face.

3. Try scattering my houseplants throughout the house. (I presently have them in one “jungle room” fighting over the little bit of available light.) Seeing greenery as I go about my day might help make a difference. (If nothing else, it will be a reminder that I am TRYING to make a difference!)

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4. Plant a moss garden. Planting moss would embrace my woodland home, but give me some green for cheer! There’s enough moss in my woods to harvest and plant…I can do this cost-free. And a moss garden won’t vie with the other plants for the available window space!

5. Bright, light-therapy lamps are available for people with SAD…Seasonal Affective Disorder. They are a little pricey and take up space, so this isn’t something I’m going to do right now…but I’ll keep it in mind for the future. (I just get a little down; it’s not debilitating.) In the meantime, I may choose to shell out $5 or so for a session with a tanning bed. A tanning bed’s bright lights can help set off a cycle of cheer…just gotta be sure to make it brief. A sunburn in January is a foolish, foolish thing!

Anyone else out there fight with the winter blahs?

What do you do that helps you deal with the season?

Cell Phone Service that Works!

Gotta simplify…that cell phone bill!

Here’s one frugal tip that worked like a charm. A friend recommended a new cell phone service: Page Plus, in case you are wondering. (Full disclosure: I am NOT an affiliate!) They use the same cell phone towers as Verizon, but at a cheaper rate. You simply prepay for whatever service you want and SAAAAVVVE over the typical Verizon bill.

Here’s how this breaks down for us: on our previous Verizon bill, the cheapest deal we could get was about $100/month. As we never had an actual bill from just the two of us, (there were three or more lines on our bill during the life of our service,) I don’t know exactly how much our monthly total would have been with all the little added fees. But suffice it to say, we’d have paid $100 OR MORE for the two of us on Verizon.

With Page Plus, we pay $42. Even for the math-deficient among us, that’s nearly 60% savings!!!

How does that break down? Well, for my phone, I have 1200 minutes of talking time, which I will NEVER use, unless there is some enormous family emergency. Nobody, but NOBODY calls me, they all text. And I have 3000 texts available to me per month. I didn’t think that was going to be enough, but my thoughtful husband pointed out that I have 100 texts per day.

“If you did nothing else but text, could you use up 100 texts per day?”

He had a point. Some days I might use 100 texts. Other days, perhaps three. 3000 texts ought to be more than adequate! My monthly plan is $29.95.

Rusty, who uses his phone very little and almost never texts, has the 12-dollar, 250 minute + 250 texts plan. He’ll have no problem with those limits…and if he does, he’s almost always with me, and can use my phone. 🙂

We anticipate no problem with those limits, and if our needs change we can upgrade our service.

Previously, our monthly cell phone bill with three lines was in the $137 range. By dropping the third line and changing our service, we save $95/month. That’s $1140/year, or $11,400 over ten years.

Worth doing? Oh yeah!

Cell phone service that works, and a cell phone bill that doesn’t give me a headache. Good stuff!

Still Fat?

Aside

So how’s that diet going?

Short answer: if you have to ask, it’s not going well.

I went vegan, and the first week felt wonderful. The next week I was draggy and starving and lethargic and grumpy and felt like I ought to be crawling across the floor with my tin begging cup held out to strangers for scraps.

So I ate things that weren’t on my diet. Then I ate everything in the house, and have since been proceeding to snack my way through every edible item on the east coast. When I hit Maine lobster, I’ll have to turn around and head back the other way…’til I get to key lime pie. 🙂

Seriously, my reasons to diet remain the same. I need to increase health and decrease my size so I can downsize my wardrobe. I can’t simplify my closets until I get this under control.

So once again I find myself publicly addressing the problem. Something’s gotta give, and it all comes down to me making a decision I can stick to, while on my very busy schedule.

Here it goes: 2013 is going to be the year of eating mindfully. I’m not going to specify a weight loss goal or a size goal. I’m not going to promise to only eat vegetables or drink water or to never touch a Diet Coke again. That didn’t work out so well!

I AM going to eat mindfully, all year long. I’m going to make time for exercise. I am going to set goals that focus on what I do, (say, walking for 30 minutes 5 days a week,) instead of “lose 30 pounds as quickly as possible”.

I am going to try out different diets sequentially to see what makes me feel the best. (Every body is different, and what works for one person won’t work for another. I’m going to try on different diets the way you try on shoes, to see what feels good.)

I’m going to start with this: The Candida Diet. Anyone familiar with natural healing methods has heard of the Candida Diet, (which really ought to be “The Anti-Candida Diet,” because no one wants to SUPPORT candida overgrowth).

Anyway, the theory is this: our systems naturally have some amount of candida. An overgrowth of candida causes problems…the typical female “yeast infection,” oral thrush, skin problems, etc. It also can cause problems that are more covert and confusing: from mood – brain fog, inability to focus, irritability;  to respiratory distress –  cough, sinus issues, phlegm, to stomach problems – constipation, diarrhea, gas, reflux, to skin problems and nail fungus. (This is not an exhaustive list. The list of possible candida symptoms is incredibly long.)

The good part: candida overgrowth can be healed almost entirely by diet. Since the overgrowth is fed by carbohydrates, a low carbohydrate diet with lots of pure, nourishing foods will help get the overgrowth under control. There are natural supplements you can take to help get rid of candida, such as capryl (derived from coconut) and grapefruit seed oil. (There are also pharmaceutical pills that can help with candida, but they might destroy your liver while they’re at it. )

The excellent news: The candida diet WILL help with weight loss. Since the ingredients are very, very pure, it will also help with kidney and liver function…important to support the body during a time of change. (When the candida dies, they release toxins in your bloodstream, which must then be collected & excreted. Your liver needs to be able to clean out the toxins quickly.)

The bad news: Candida die-off is always unpleasant, as it can cause unusual tiredness, headaches, even skin issues.

So yeah, I’m jumping back in the water again. This time I promise to post once per week on how the diet is going, & what I’m gonna try next. Start date: December 31, 2012 – because it’s a Monday!

If anyone has tried the Candida Diet before, tell me about your experience with it. If you’ve found something that helped with weight loss, share that too! I’d like to hear some positive stories from the trenches!

Wish me the best!