The One and Only Starfish!

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A few months back a friend called me up, “Hey, you wanna go to Florida with me?”  WellIMG_2962, I briefly thought about it and then we got busy booking flights and making reservations for an 11 day trip to sunny Anna Maria Island, Florida!  Our itinerary consisted of beach time, reading, beach time, eating, and beach time.  Before we knew it Ruthie and I were packed and ready to sink our toes in the sand!

Our first morning there we had this amazing view from our balcony.  Rainbows and thunderstorms are such great reminders to me of God’s amazing power!   I can’t help but be in awe seeing them together.

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We did leave the condo a few times. Remember, we had it all planned out, relaxation was the name of the game.  We ventured out to a few souvenir shops, checked out some RV campgrounds, and visited some places of my childhood memories.  When in Florida one of  my priorities is to have Key Lime Pie.  I enjoyed every bite of this and probably had thoughts of licking the plate clean!
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<Our beach chairs, sigh.

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Staying on track with the itinerary!  I read 3 books while we were there and was half way through #4. >

Pretty much every day we would get in a couple of miles walking on the beach.  This particular time I was walking by myself.  I was heading up the beach getting some steps in for my Fitbit and I came upon a single starfish laying on the beach.  How cool is that! Well I of course had to take a picture of it.  Earlier in the day I had been thinking about how blessed and thankful I was to be able to go to Florida.  I was wondering if there was a reason God allowed me to take this trip.  Was there a purpose?   Well I got my Kodak moment shot of the starfish and went back on my way to getting my steps in.  I continuedIMG_2809 walking further away from the Starfish and it hit me!   I did not place it back in the water!  I was kinda sorta feeling bad.  Obviously not that bad because I did not turn around and rescue it.  To appease my conscience I told myself that if the starfish was still there on my way back I would put it back in the Gulf.   I have to admit that I am a task oriented person.  I can be so focused on my “To Do’s” that I can miss out on life.  Well I reached my turn around point, started heading back, and I never saw the starfish.  While walking I remembered the story of the boy that was throwing starfish back into the ocean. The young boy was passionate for each of the starfish he was able to rescue and I missed the opportunity to save the life of only one.  That was it!  How many times do I miss seeing an opportunity to help someone becausIMG_2901e I am focused on my own personal tasks.  I still feel bad to this day for not slowing down, focusing on what was going on and taking action.  I try harder now to see the things that God puts in my path and not focus on myself or my list of things to accomplish.  I’m sure I will still miss opportunities but I have this starfish that still to this day pops in my mind.  God can use anything to speak to us!

Thanks Ruthie for thinking of me and inviting me on this fun and relaxing trip!

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Sure, come on in to my bathroom.

Do you struggle with a cluttered bathroom?  Do you find yourself stepping over 1/2 used bottles of shampoo and conditioner to even get in the shower?  Or maybe you just want a peek in to how someone else keeps things (somewhat) organized in a “Small Living” bathroom.

Where do you even start when taking on a project that may seem overwhelming?

  • I start with some music playing and a glass of ice water, my go to thirst quencher.
  • Trash can or trash bag ready to be filled.  Things gotta go!
  • Rag and cleaning spray.  You choose your method of madness for that.  I prefer more natural products than using strong chemicals.
  • Tubs, baskets or anything you can think of to be creative with organizing your bathroom items.  I prefer to not go out and purchase what I may already have on hand.  I take a walk around the home and see what I am not using or what I can re-purpose.IMG_3535

This pink basket was a gift I received couple of years ago from one of my Mom’s Day Out students.  It works perfect for storing my hairbrushes, combs, and zipper bags in the cabinet under my sink.  It also is great when we are parked someplace that has a shower house.  I place all of my shower items in there and I just grab it and go.

IMG_3536 These shoebox size tubs we picked up for $1 a piece.  Great for those small items that I do not use every day.

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Zipper/cosmetic bags work well for small items, for example fingernail files and clippers, and hair ties and clips.

We are staged and ready to dig in!  I like to work left to right and top to bottom.   When I start a drawer or cabinet I stick with that one till it is finished.  It is amazing how bathroom items accumulate so fast!  As women we will try a product and if we don’t like it or maybe it’s just not the right shade or scent we just put it back in the drawer.  I am giving you permission to “Let it Go”, release it, pass it on!  Give it to a friend (that will use it) or if it is unopened donate it to a homeless shelter.  Just don’t put it back in the cabinet if you are not going to use it.

Now for the fun!  The part that gives me joy.  It is time to place things back.  If it is an item you use frequently keep it handy. If you use it less frequently tuck it away in a tub or towards the back of the cabinet or drawer.  When we move our home we put hand towels in the cabinets to keep things in place.

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Let’s talk about the shower!  Do you have several bottles just sitting around in there?  If it’s empty pitch it, if it is partially used finish it, and if you are not going to use it “Let it Go”.  Since we are living small I have decided to not keep big bottles in the shower.  I picked up a couple of the travel size bottles and I refill them as needed.  I also keep a micro fiber cloth in there to dry the walls and doors down after showering.  This keeps humidity levels down and keeps the shower cleaner.
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When we decided to switch from a S&B (sticks & bricks) home to full time living in an RV we downsized from 3 bathrooms.  In order to do this things had to go!  It really doesn’t matter if you are enjoying the life of “Living Small” or you have multiple bathrooms the affects of living in a way that is less cluttered just feels good!

Have you found ways to keep things organized?  I love to hear how others have found ways to be Uncluttered!

“But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.”  1 Cor. 14:40 

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March, so happy you are here!

IMG_3437We have just finished our first winter full time RV’ing!

It really wasn’t bad! It was just our first time so we weren’t so sure of what to expect.  I will say that layering up with gloves, hats, coats, and anything else to keep myself warm to take the dogs for a walk in single digit temperatures will not be missed!

Knock on wood! We never had a frozen pipe. We did have one night when I went to light the stove to cook dinner anIMG_3493 (1)d nothing happened, not good.  We were also preparing for one of the single digit nights we had. We tried the furnace also, we came to the conclusion that something was preventing use of the propane.  After checking outside David realized our incomIMG_3492ing line had gotten pinched.  That was an easy fix! I like those kind of fixes, adjusted the skirting to free the hose and boom, we were back in business of cooking dinner and not freezing!

DH and I have been talking and planning our attack on spring cleaning our home.  Let’s just say we are excited and ready!  The beauty of it is that its a small space, can’t take to long, right?  Plus, I can’t wait to switch out my winter clothes for warmer weather options and flip flops!

Happy Spring to you! Are you planning your Spring cleaning also? IMG_3488

“For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come…”  Song of Solomon 2:11-12

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Oh No! It’s that time – Preparing for Winter…

I know this post is a little late, Winter is HERE!  But since this is our first year living in an RV, I did not want to post what we did and then it not work.  We have had good luck with the few things we did.

First, we live in the Midwest so we do have cold temps.  The good thing about the Midwest is, if you do not like the weather, just wait a day or two, it will change.  We will have 70 degrees one day and snow the next. Like last weekend, 50-60 degrees but now we are having lows hitting zero.

So here is what we did…

#1… Skirting

We built a skirting to go around the low part of our 5er.  I was advised that if I can stop the wind blowing under our unit, it would make a difference in the way it feels inside and save fuel cost.  I didn’t want anything sticking to our exterior so taping or Velcro was out.  I didn’t want big sheets of foam leaning up against the outside and rubbing against the finish.  I didn’t want anything real heavy to move when spring comes and we need to move the skirting to storage.  So I got creative.

Finished Skirting. We went with a silver color to match our RV.

Finished Skirting. We went with a silver color to match our RV.

We built wooden frames that was manageable to move and setup.

Stretching the tarp material over a smaller piece of frame.

Stretching the tarp material over a smaller piece of frame.

Then we stretched tarp material over each piece of the frame.  On the North and East sides I measured the panels to fit snug right under the RV.

On the South and West sides I left a little gap at the top between the panel and the RV.Skirting04

Why you ask, my Redneck education led me to this.  When the wind blows cold, it usually come from the East and North.  So having the panels fit snug will keep the cold air from blowing under.  When we have a warm day the wind is usually blowing from the south.  I am ok with a little warm air getting under the RV.  Plus it lets it breath so moisture can escape.

We attached each panel together with a few deck screws.  When spring comes, I will number each panel so I can put it back together next fall.  You may ask, did it help? Well, our pipes never froze, our tanks never plugged and our crap always ran down hill.  And that is good!!!

Total time spent building the skirting was about 10 hours. I would say, it looks nice.Skirting05

So that was step one.

#2… Heated Water Line

We almost went and bought a pre-made heated waterline.  I am so glad I didn’t!  Our line was 30 feet long so I would of had to purchase 2 heated hoses to make it work.  From the reviews I read on them, they didn’t sound that great.  The owner of the park we live in had all the supplies to assemble one, so we made our own line.  He sold me on the idea when he shared that he had some people in the park who have used the same heated line for 10 yrs or more.  I said, I am in.  All the materials for the 30 ft of line cost me just over $100.

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Here is the list of supplies…

PEX Line

3/4″ male and female hose connections – Sharkbite are just push-on and require no special tools. Can be bought at Home Depot or Lowes.

EASYHEAT Freeze Free Heating Cable

EASYHEAT Freeze Free Connection Kit

Pipe Insulation Foam

Tape

 #3… Sewer Hose & Managing Tanks

First the sewer hose. We ran the sewer hose behind the skirting. This helps to keep the cold wind off the line preventing freeze up in the hose.  The last thing you want is a turdcicle.  During the winter you do not want any dips or sags in the hose for water to collect, again, that would result in a turdcicle.  You want an evenly sloped hose, out of the elements if possible.

Second the tank management.  There is a lot on discussion on the proper way to handle your tanks when parked. Again I listened to the owner of our park and used his advice. Again, no freeze ups!

Here is our method…

Above Freezing – Grey tanks open & Black tank closed.  We dump the black tank when it is full and flush it to clear the line.  We will leave a sag/dip in the sewer hose to create a water trap to keep smells and bugs out of RV.

Below Freezing – Grey tanks open & Black tank open. We will use lots of water when flushing the toilet.  After doing major business I will fill the toilet up 2 times after to first flush to clear the tank.  Then every couple of days I will flush the black tank with the built in flushing system.

Does it work???  Well, all I know is we have not had anything freeze on us and it has been very cold here.  One thing about the Midwest is that the weather changes like my wife changes channels on the radio.  So a zero degree day here will only last for a few days then we usually get a warm day or two.

4… Windows

This winter my wife covered the windows with beach towels or blankets.  This really helped make the room feel much warmer.  By next winter she hopes to have made custom fitted quilted inserts for the windows.  This should work as good if not better and look much nicer.

5… Temperature Monitoring

We purchased AcuRite Digital Weather Station with Clock and Wireless Outdoor Sensor from Lowes.  Then we placed the remote transmitter in the under-belly where our waterlines are.  Now we can keep an eye on the temp easily.

AcuRite Digital Weather Station with Clock and Wireless Outdoor Sensor

AcuRite Digital Weather Station with Clock and Wireless Outdoor Sensor

Pretty sure that is all we did to get prepared.  Our first winter sure has seemed long but in reality, it hasn’t been bad.  It is just the first one.  We are facing 2-4 inches of snow this weekend then a chilly week after that.  Then the weather man is saying we will be in the 50’s and should remain there.  That will be nice!  Looking forward to opening some windows, firing up a fan and sitting under my awning outside.  One thing I know for sure, this season will pass.

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 Navigating our way to a simpler life, The Uncluttered Compass!

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Things We Dig On Our Rig!

Here are a few things that we use and wanted to let you know how they make our life easier!  We are enjoying the Full-time RV lifestyle now, so things that we would use in our sticks and bricks (house) we may not use and have changed it up some for a simpler life.

  • OurIMG_3475 dehumidifier – We went about half of the winter without one of these.  To those already full-timing and having done it in colder climates know what I’m talking about!  Between the combination of propane heating and cooking, showering and breathing you build moisture up pretty fast as the temperature gets lower.  It’s a condensation thing, same thing happens on a  can of cold soda.  Then as the temperature gets even lower you get  beautiful artwork on the inside of your windows, otherwise known as frost.  We have heard of the damage that moisture can cause in RV’s and we wanted to be proactive in preventing it!
  • IMG_3474Norwex Bath Towels- We came across these last fall.  They are bath towels that are microfiber.  Yep, just like those towels that are great to clean with!  They are lighter, take less space, dry faster and allow more room in the wash.  They are sold by Norwex consultants.  So…if you sell Norwex now is your chance to comment and maybe get some business.  I didn’t notice until I looked at this picture all of the towels are on the right side of the hooks. Might be a little bit of OCD going on.
  • The Anderson Ultimate Trailer Gear Duffel Bag-

    After one flat on the road without this setup, I was sold on it.  We blew out the passenger side front tire, right by the steps, on our trailer.  Talk about a pain!  We had to get a jack under the axle to change it. We managed, after spending 20 minutes fighting, by using our truck jack wimageith little room to work.  So when we upgraded our trailer, I got me an Anderson Ultimate Trailer Gear Duffel Bag.  Not only does it come with the wedge to allow you to quickly lift your flat tire it also comes with less aggressive wedges so you can quickly level your trailer.  They are solid and have multiple uses.  Multiple uses is very important when you have limited space to store items. Everything needs to have multiple uses!  All I know is that I wouldn’t t ravel with any kind of trailer unless I had this handy bag of tools with me.  Click here to go to the Anderson Hitches. Click here to see a video on how they work.

    imageThese are just a few things that we don’t regret getting.  Maybe you have something that we haven’t heard of or tried yet.  We love new ideas that make life easier!

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A Look Back.

IMG_3457Do you ever say to your self  “Life is crazy, I need a vacation!”?

Sometimes life goes by and we think we are just too busy!  I know my schedule at times can get pretty full. Especially since I have workaholic tendencies!  Hello, my name is Geary Beth and I am a “workaholic”.  Isn’t that the first step?

Some things are out of my control as far as what I need to do in a day.  Other things I do have a choice.  I do try to adjust my schedule when I feel I need some down time.  I love my down time! Time to read, pray or try to watch something on TV.  I drive David CrAzY when he wants to watch a movie together and I end up getting distracted.FullSizeRender

Val day 1

This past week was Valentine’s Day.  David and I are not big on giving cards to each other.  We would rather spend time together.  We started our day bright and early helping our son move into his apartment.  We loved seeing our sons excitement with getting his own place!  Later that day we celebrated David’s mothers 70th Birthday.  It was great to get together with family to eat and visit!

Our day was spent with family celebrating and making memories.

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This also happened, snow!  It’s almost March and I am ready. Bring on the Daffodils and Crocus! IMG_3437

Yes, my life can be full at times! I look at the opportunities I have and feel blessed.  Life is to short to have regrets!

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Why we upgraded our tiny house on wheels.

Why we upgraded our tiny house on wheels.

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After the 5 of us lived for 2 months in a space that was around 240sq. ft. our brains were turning!!  Yes, 5, you read that correctly! We have Bella (a black lab), Jaeger (a miniature schnauzer) and Callie the cat.  We all co-habitate well, FullSizeRendermost of the time.    If we were going to do this for the long haul we should look into getting something more energy efficient and a little more space.

We had about a month until we needed to work on winterizing our Jayco (1st RV).  Quite a bit of preparation goes into getting ready for winter temps if you are full-timing in the mid-west.  Our Jayco did notFullSizeRender (1) have an enclosed underbelly.  That means pipes and tanks were exposed.  Ideally you don’t want that area exposed unless you don’t mind crawling under there in single digit temperatures with a hair dryer.  No thanks!

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We started our research and visiting sales lots.  After looking at several used and new ones we selected our bigger “Tiny home” a 2012 Keystone Cougar!  Moving is pretty easy when you live on wheels. You just pull them side by side and transfer items from one to the other.  I was not there for that part, I was out of town.  David and our Daughter handled the process.  I came back to a new home, new furniture and everything put away. Not to bad!

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We love our new to us Cougar!  It has some amenities that we were looking for plus some that are the icing on top.

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  • Polar Plus Package
  • 3 slide outs
  • Porcelain toilet
  • More storage
  • Fireplace
  • Big bedroom closet and 2 dressers

We have almost survived our first winter living as full timers in our RV!  We will share the steps in a later post on how we prepared for winter.

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How Our Journey to Uncluttering Began…

Have you ever looked back in awe when you realize how far you have come in a short amount of time?

A year ago our world took a tailspin! Nothing like a little jolt in life when your plans go awry and you have to go with plan B. Works well if you have a plan B! Again, looking back it was it was all God’s plan to bring us back home to KC.

Following are the steps we took to get us from a Sticks and Bricks (house) to being full time RV’ers in just 5 months.  We downsized from a 2200 sq. ft. house, 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom, and 2 car garage with amazing storage to our first 5th wheel. Which was just under 240 sq. ft. and sits on wheels. We did upgrade to a larger one that has 3 slides instead of just 1. It does have what they refer to as a basement, it’s the storage under the bedroom. Yep, this is us in a nutshell, mid 40’s, empty nesters, proud parents and grandparents, plus full-timers in our 5th wheel. Believe it or not we are loving it, call us crazy or lucky, whichever!2015-02-10 19.02.21

We were blessed with a 1995 5th wheel when everything started coming together. At the time David and I had the same thoughts going through our minds “we’re going to live in this thing!”  We had some pretty strong things pulling us to move 3 hours back to where our roots are.  Our Daughter and Son-in-law were expecting our first grandchild (nothing better), I wanted to help my sister with taking care of my 93 year old grandfather, and we just wanted to be closer to family. We resigned from both of our jobs, that’s hard when you are committed to what you have been called to do. We said “See ya later” to some great friends. Especially my friend that was very instrumental in getting this blog launched, thanks Debbie!

Here we go! This is how it worked for us.

  1. Put a sign in the yard- We needed to sell the house that we were in. You know the whole staging thing you do to make your house look like no one lives there? Well, it helps when you are needing to eliminate and minimize. Several potential buyers would comment that it looked like nobody was living there.
  2. Prioritize-We had decisions to make on pretty much everything we owned. Keep, sell, give away, goes in RV or goes to storage. The family keepsakes were easy, keep! Most of our furniture was not that new so it was easy to let it go. We did keep David’s recliner and my chair and ottoman. It is currently in storage for later use.
  3. Purge-We chose not to have a garage sale. Instead we used the Facebook pages local to our area that are specifically for selling items and giving things away. One afternoon I decided to take down our king size bed and give it away for free. I posted it on a local Facebook page. It was gone in 2 hours! Remember to be smart when doing this. We’ve all heard the horror stories. I also made multiple trips to Good-Will.
  4. What to wear-We had 3 full closets and 2 dressers between the 2 of us and 1 coat closet to minimize. While searching on Pinterest I found this great idea called project 333. You pick 33 items to wear for 3 months and stow away the off season clothes.  Rather than starting with clothes we did not want we reversed our thoughts and picked out clothes we really liked. I pulled all the clothes I liked out of the closets and then I took it down to only the clothes I loved! It was very freeing to eliminate clothes that I had kept for years that I really did not want anyway. No regrets!
  5. Move in-It is quit a job to fill an RV with everything you need to survive! It made it easy to pack the sticks and bricks kitchen. I pulled the items we needed for the RV, donated a bunch to Good-will and packed the rest to go into storage. I was not ready to get rid of all of my Pyrex and my Kitchen-Aid mixer. Bathrooms were easy, remember to keep in mind “What do I NEED”.

That is an abbreviated process of how we downsized.  I love the simplicity of not having all the things we thought we had to have! We do have a storage unit. It is just easier to keep our off season clothes, tools and family keepsakes there.  With the changes we have made, our schedule has become more flexible. We are now able to enjoy the important things in life, like our grandson and the rest of our family.

What are you willing to sacrifice in order to enjoy the important things in your life?

Navigating Our Way to a Simpler Life!

The Uncluttered Compass

Hello world!

Welcome! My wife and I have been married for 28 years. It is amazing how cluttered and complicated our lives can get after being together for that much time.

Over the years I have learned that wisdom comes from experience. It can be from personal experiences or by learning from others. Some experiences are good and some are not always what we expected. But all can lead us to becoming a wiser person. We will share with you some of our experiences and what we have learned from them. Our prayer is that you would not have to experience some of those “what we did not expect experiences”.

Let me introduce ourselves. We are David & Geary Beth Ruckel. Born and raised in Kansas City, MO. We have been married for 28 years. We have 2 kids – Chris Ruckel who just turned 28 yrs old & Natasha Seaver who is 26 yrs of age. Natasha married Jamison Seaver and then gave us our first grandchild – Jarrett Seaver.

We have lived in Springfield MO, New Orleans LA, Wichita KS and now we are located back in Kansas City MO.

So join us on our journey as we Navigate Our Way to a Simpler Life.

The Uncluttered Compass!