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?


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!)


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?


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!

Heating With Wood

Today was wood splitting day.

We made an excellent decision two years ago, (and by “we” I mean “Rusty”,) to install a wood burning stove.  We had a humongous winter power bill, and knew we needed to do something different if we wanted to keep warm.

Rus hauled in an old wood stove that had been warming up a shed, and we bricked up a hearth and installed the thing. (Don’t you just love how casually I say that? We “bricked up a hearth?” That’s what you do when your husband is a brick mason. I love it!)

Our wood stove is utilitarian, country-looking, and doesn’t have the cute little glass doors so you can see the fire like the newfangled wood stoves, but it keeps us sooo toasty warm. And when it gets too warm, we can close the doors and keep the heat downstairs in the study/den.

Rus with the logsplitter

On the plus side, too, I get to watch my hubby doing his lumberjack routine. Isn’t he adorable in his plaid? Sigh…

Ever seen a wood splitter work? I was afraid the splitter would come down like a guillotine, the way you swing an axe. I assumed our fingers would be in great danger. It doesn’t work like that: the blade comes down very slowly, and it sort of squeezes the blade into the wood.


Then we ran out of gas for the wood splitter, so we went back to the old-fashioned ax-swinging method. Rusty grabbed an ax and started splitting and it looked like so much fun I had to try it too! (Don’t ask how many tries it took for me to get the first log split.)

Wood fires aren’t the best environmental choice, but when you live in five acres of woods, it’s an excellent economic choice. Gathering the wood is a fun activity for the two of us, and wonderful exercise. Just being outdoors makes me happy…being outdoors with a purpose makes me really happy.

We now have three sizable woodpiles, and a snuggly warm home.  That makes heating with wood…and wood splitting, a win-win for simplifying life at our house!


My Biggest Motive for Simplifying


Rusty and the power lines!

This is my husband.

This is my husband on a couple of ladders, pulling off and replacing boards, right next to some power lines. He is doing this because we need the money.

This is my A-number-1 reason for simplifying: I don’t want us to have to do jobs that are unpleasant, miserable, or downright dangerous.

I don’t ever want to see my husband in that kind of position again.

The power lines were really the least of the problems with this house. It was old and in serious need of maintenance. But the maintenance it needed was frightening: first, a pillar supporting the roof to the sunporch was rotten. The pillar had to be cut away while the roof was jacked (to keep it from crashing down on us,) and all the work had to be done with extraordinary care to keep the floor-to-ceiling glass panels from falling on us in a rain of shards.

Then the gutters needed replacing. The yard was a mass of plantings run wild, overlaid with a wash of fallen leaves. It was a hilly lot in the best of circumstances, but the wild bushes and groundcover and leaves obscured upright bricks lining pathways, holes, slippery mud,  and shrubs trimmed diagonally leaving upright spikes to impale the unwary.

It was the obstacle course of the doomed.

We tiptoed around the hazards, blew leaves so we could see a little of the ground we were working on, cut down some of the spikes that threatened to impale us, and prayed for the best.

Then there were the gargoyles.

No, really, there were gargoyles. As in plural. Multiple gargoyle statues with grim faces that stared at us as we worked on all sides of the house.

Ah yes, and after the gutters, the fascia needed replacing. So my husband was ripping off boards where the ladders SHOULD have rested, using a rig to keep his ladder away from his work.

Here’s the clincher: I am afraid of heights, to the point where it is ridiculous for me to even try to be on a ladder. I can get 4-6 feet off the ground, then my imagination kicks in and I visualize all the ways I am likely to be injured if I fall, (which will surely happen because I am too clumsy to walk across a carpeted floor without falling,) and I start to shake uncontrollably.

So I’m the gofer, grabbit, hand it person, while my patient husband is the climb-and-do-it person.

It sounds as though I could stand at the bottom of the ladder and do my nails while he does the hard work, but in fact I am usually very busy.

But I also feel very guilty, because I am worrying about him falling. Then, (hyper-imagination time again,) I’m envisioning his hospital stay and me nursing him back to health. Or that he falls on me and we are both injured. I play through all the scenarios: broken leg, broken hip, broken back, fractured skull, the frantic 911 call, the trip to the hospital, getting in touch with Rusty’s relatives, the long convalescence…

All of it.

Our last strip of fascia and gutter replacement was on the back end of the house, a scary area we had nearly managed to forget: an odd little offset on the back end of the sunroom.

The ground was extraordinarily uneven there, and someone had attempted to correct that by making steps directly into the earth. The area was so covered by leaves we really couldn’t see what was going on, so we blew them away.

There was no way to adequately photograph it. There were odds and ends shoved into the hillside to form makeshift steps, held in place by bits of rebar. Nothing was uniform, or steady, or secure in any way. It was almost more frightening to see how this was done than it was to scale the mess blindly under a mass of leaves.

Then, high above the strangely uneven ground was the wall of the glass sunroom, with the biggest gargoyle of all staring down at us, glowering, arms crossed. It really looked like the area was under a madman’s spell. And my beloved hub was going to have to find a way up there and make that job happen if we wanted to get paid.

More guilt, in waves, and with it the visions: of ambulances lighting up the dusk, the wail of sirens and the preternaturally calm voices of professional EMTs assessing the damage, the puffs of sphygmomanometer and the rustle of sterile packaging, the smells of alcohol and medication and sheets so clean they squeak.

Darkness came in quickly, and we worked fast, growing a little frantic. The sunroom, of course, was a wall of glass panels, and any slip of the ladder would hit glass…all of it old, and likely untempered. The uneven ground made placing the ladders tricky. The sight of my husband high above the ground in front of a wall of glass yanking away at an ancient board was a little overwhelming.

But he survived.

We pulled down the ladders long after the sun had dropped behind the horizon, while the last, weak rays of light barely illuminated our feet. We finished loading the truck and trailer by flashlight.

Never again.

My husband’s life and my sanity are worth more than that.

We drove the truck into the night, our worries melting into a kind of grim euphoria. We left the gargoyles behind…and the spectres that haunt my waking dreams.

I want to leave them behind forever, to have the luxury of choosing only jobs that feel safe and fit our schedule. My biggest motive for simplifying is to keep my little family intact so we can focus on goals that make us both happy, together.

A life without gargoyles.