the tiny house

No I'm not throwing in the towel nor do I have plans to anytime soon. Settling down someplace quiet and out of the way is and has always been part of the end game for me. Preferably while I've got plenty of time left on this rock. The cabin is something that I've thought about for years and recently started toying with the idea of building one on my piece of property in CA. One reason is that I might stand a better chance of selling it sooner with a cabin on it. The sale would allow me to buy land and build again in a more preferable state. Out of all the building methods I've researched this past decade, I found the shipping container to be the best all around base material and most inexpensive of them all. Adding to that the Tiny House Movement has really helped in planning this out. There are so many people out there doing so many different yet amazing things with their projects that I've really learned how limitless the possibilities are.

My plan is to turn this ...
Into this, sans trailer wheels.

Someday, someday soon!

kelly kettle: review and first cook

My first ever video review. There was kind of a steep learning curve and a quadrillion mistakes were made but it's finished. I know this attempt is mediocre at best, but please don't allow that to reflect on the product itself. The Kelly Kettle delivers and is more than worth the cost in my opinion.

I originally wanted to prepare something exotic that would really showcase the Kelly kettle, but time constraints prevented that from happening. This actually worked out since exotic ingredients are harder to come by in most, if not all, rural markets. I instead went with ingredients anyone can find and put together a simple faux Asian vegetable noodle soup. I also made the mistake of recording more audio than there was video to go with, so my narration ends abruptly with the video. What got chopped was me Thanking you for watching and hope that my review informs and helps you in arriving at a decision.

Here's what didn't make it into the video. I did too much at once so some things suffered. Cooking was a little awkward since this was my first time. I should have cooked with it a few times before taping. They're not kidding when they say this boils water fast. Even though I'd read and knew it would take three minutes, I was still caught off guard when it happened. I also recommend not filling the water chamber up to the edge of the lip since it splashes out when boiling. Hilariously, I almost put out my own fire because of this. My tea kind of tasted a little metallic, but I've experienced this with new kettles before. It goes away by the second or third boil which I confirmed with this mornings tea. Clean up is a cinch as is packing it all away when finished. The inside of the kettle and potholder turn black from use which is normal. I know there are ways to clean it back to an almost a pristine state, but it doesn't bother me. The kit is simple, straightforward, and easy to use. Finally. I think the best thing about Kelly Kettles is that all the parts can be individually replaced should any become damaged. You don't have to buy a whole entire kit just to get one rare part, nor are any of the replacement parts overpriced.

[The Recipe]
The noodles dominated the Kelly pot when they were finished cooking, so you can split the pack if it's too much. However if you love them then leave it as is. Depending on your dietary preference you can add or switch out anything below with whatever you prefer. I had also meant to add bits of chicken to this but forgot to defrost it in time for the video.

16-20oz chicken stock (add more as the noodles soak it in)
1 top ramen or maruchan noodles package w/out flavor packet
1/2 star anise
1/2  teaspoon of salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic minced
1 baby bok choy
1 sliced green onion
1 teaspoon sriracha


kelly kettle: arrival & unpacking

My Kelly Kettle arrived today!!! It only took two days from order to delivery, but that's largely due to it shipping from a neighboring city. I purchased the mid sized stainless steel Scout kit which weighs in total at two pounds two ounces. I had two reasons for picking this size and metal. The first is because of how well stainless steel holds up over time and the second was the almost doubled water capacity of 37oz versus 19oz with the smaller version. I read many reviews with most of them being positive, but wanted to share something regarding the few negative reviews read. The reviewers generally tended to focus on claiming how thin the metal was and how easily it damaged. I can only assume they purchased the aluminum version. The stainless steel used to make the kettle is thicker than most camping cookware and will shrug off the average drop. From what I'm seeing it would have to be hit with a fair amount of force to cause a dent. Oddly enough the stainless steel version weighs less than the aluminum version. I also noticed that most people neglected to mention some of the more important rules of use. Most are common sense but I can see how some people might overlook them and damage the kettles and/or themselves.

For the sake of safety here are the rules.
1. Never heat the kettle without water in it.
2. Never heat the kettle with the stopper in place.
3. Never hold the handle above the chimney when the kettle is lit.

I might have went a little overboard with the pictures but I wanted to share my excitement in unpacking this little beauty!

The box

The opened box

Makes sense, I'm in California

Can't wait to go Chef Boy R Lee on this

They do love their boxes

Kettle and fire base

Cookware set.
Pot, Fry Pan (doubles as pot lid), Grill, and Handle

Grill on fire base

Potholder disassembled

Potholder assembled

Potholder assembled in kettle

Pot on assembled potholder in kettle

Must I explain everything?
Trying out a Paula Deen recipe

Yumm, butter soup

Everything packed into the carry bag

Part two of this will be a video review where I prepare a meal. Preferably something ethnic if possible.


taking care of business

It's a beautiful, cool, overcast, and 71°'s here today in Socal. Because of weather like this over the last week I've been able to catch up on a lot of things that were previously postponed. I've got to also tell you that I was fiercely wishing I was still up in the NM or AZ mountains the entire time. It made it really hard to focus on what my mind should've been on instead of daydreaming and/or sweating for doing nothing. I somehow managed it and am loving that feeling of accomplishment that comes after.

My parents are doing very well now. Mom's test results came back negative and is making it a point to stay properly hydrated. Dad made changes to his eating habits by having smaller meals as well as practicing moderation with even the things that are good for him. Sometimes you're never out of the woods and this was never more true than this past weekend. Sissy had to make a trip to the emergency room which turned out to be a minor issue that's easily corrected. She'll be fixed up via some minor outpatient surgery next week. Thank fuck!

Truck/Travel trailer insurance
Truck wheel balance and rotation
Paid off minor charges
Jetboil Flash sold/Kelly Kettle ordered
Check engine light is now off via O2 sensor mod
Bought Sissy's $175 amazon.com gift credit for a rainy day

In Progress
Gazebo - Is being dismantled in small pieces daily
German Shepherd puppy - I found a few great candidates and am deciding which
Air rifle and associated gear (selling in favor of replacing with a break barrel model)

I'm waiting until the last possible minute to complete the following since they're mostly of use to me on the road and not here.

Honda generator
LED bulbs for trailer
Fan-tastic vent 3 speed reversible fan
Truck maintenance (oil, spark plugs, trans fluid)
Bike Lock

One last bit of good news. My niece left this morning for college. Sissy's family all went up to help her move in and get settled in. Unfortunately my niece had forgotten to do something that was very important during all her preparations and packing over this last week.

A reminder of what she forgot to do.


under pressure

Things are moving along but my departure may be delayed. Both my parents took ill recently. My father's ailments were attributable to some bad dietary practices. He's made the needed adjustments and is on the mend. We also had to make a few adjustments in the kitchen with what mom cooks for him. The main issue being that she tends to cook dishes without regard to his diabetes and gout. I also had to take my mom in to see a doctor the other day. He agreed with my assessment that she was most likely dehydrated based on her symptoms. However, as a precaution they did take some samples for testing but I'm expecting that the tests will only reinforce what had happened. She's on the mend now as well. I kind of shudder to think how they would've handled this had I not been around. They seem to only make changes when the SHTF. Otherwise the rest of the time they just stay the course and slowly damage themselves. My sissy would've stepped in for sure but she can't possibly handle them in addition to raising a toddler, sending a daughter off to college, and working the family business. 

Adding to the fray I received a notice from my bank that the Franchise Tax Board aka The State of CA's tax collection office had placed a levy on my account. After a few phone calls I managed to find out what was going on and got it straightened out. The story is that I possibly owe them back taxes from 2008 but neither of us is 100% sure. The reason being that at that time I withdrew my 401k that year. The first half of the year I was a resident of CA, but not for the second half. I withdrew those funds while I was living in MN which is why neither side is sure. I paid the balance due and stopped the interest while filing a protest. So I might get the money back, I might not. I'm leaning towards not getting it back given how the state govt of CA spends money like a bunch of drunken sailors. Also, the reason why they finally got around to dealing with something from 2008 was because they couldn't seem to find me after I moved away from MN. The best part of all of this for me was the levy was placed on an account with nothing in it. 

This month I'm due to spend a lot of money which always causes undue stress on me. I've just become very opposed to spending large amounts money even when needed. The backtaxes owed wasn't a large amount but every bit adds up. 

My truck is due for an oil change as well as maintenance. Based on what it costed in the past I'm expecting to spend about $250. It would be more but since I purchased my tires from a nationwide tire store chain I get rotations/balances done for free there. Technically my oil change was due when I arrived in June but I've been holding off until before I leave. 

My insurance is due in a few days. I used to pay monthly until I learned how much I would save by paying it all up front for the six month run. This will cost me about $980. 

The generator will cost me about $1000.

The budget for the german shepherd puppy is $250., but I'm also shelling out $400. for the Banfield puppy wellness plan. This will cover all the costs of the innoclations, visits, spaying, testing, and treatment within the norm. 

Speaking of pressure. The cost to repair the valve on my compressed air tank is $90. It holds air, just not the 4500PSI it's supposed to. I've been considering selling all of my PCP air rifle & gear in favor of a break barrel air rifle. I won't have these worries about how to power it since it's all self contained. The downside is that I only get one shot if I miss with a break barrel versus the magazine bolt action of the PCP rifle. That and I lose a bit of range and power too. 

A decent bike lock will cost me around $50. I've been debating on getting a bike rack or just storing it in the trailer when traveling. I would need the lock either way, but can lock the bike to the trailer tongue. 

The worst of it is that I have that potentially bad catalytic converter that may need to be replaced. I'm hoping it's just bad O2 sensors, but I may still have to replace it. I have a cousin here who is a mechanic and may be able to help me do this for less than the $1k Honda is asking for. I'm also considering a bypass since I'm not a resident of this state nor do I have to pass smog in my current state of residency (TX) or future state SD. 

I'm not rich by any stretch. I saved and earmarked finances to cover all these expenses earlier in the year. Honestly I'd be just fine if I didn't have to take it all on at once. I'm hoping the upside is that I won't have too many worries like this in the coming months since I'm dealing with it now.

That all being said I'm supposed to turn in a 30 day notice with the RV storage park which I didn't do. I'm debating on turning it in next month and possibly leaving in early November, or wait it out until after xmas. There's still so much to do here and I want to be sure I leave my parents in good health. 


can't take this town

Over the last two weeks I've been living in what the locals call a heat wave. This is refered to as a hot day in Central Texas and lasts about five months instead of two to three weeks. The title isn't about the weather so much as the place I'm in, geographically and mentally speaking. I know I've been MIA these last few weeks so let me get you current.

The hiking/playing Ingress/diet changes definitely helped to get and keep the lipids at a mangable level, but the cycling is where the changes became noticible. Over the last month I've managed to shed four of the most stubborn pounds in about two weeks time. I've never been overweight and have always been the tall slim type to the casual observer. Even though I managed to get a little fluffy (at least to me) the worst I did to myself wasn't visible. Meaning my prior lipid issues.

Well, it's been almost a month since I bought the bike and in that time I've managed to log 100+ miles on it. To be fair most of the riding took place in the first two and a half weeks. Then it got a little too hot. I've got the right gear and could have still ridden, but instead settled for early morning or late evening walks with the beagle. Which, sadly, were fewer and further between than we both wanted. We managed to console our guilt by eating ice cream inside an air conditioned house together. The downtime was put to good use. I repaired some minor comfort issues with my bike headgear and frugally shopped online for a few more needed items (cycling and full timing). I did manage to sneak in a few early evening rides but couldn't stay out long as I wanted due to the lack of a head and taillight.

The freaking gazebo! It's almost become the bane of my existance, but I'm more than determined to see it demolished. I was held back by the diposal issue (which we have resolved), but had two other issues stop us. One was my bro in law (who owns a big truck w/a large bed) was on vacation for a week. His truck is key based on how we have to dispose of the wood. The second is the current heatwave we're still waiting out. Once it's over the removal will go very fast. Mostly because I've spent more time studying how-to dismantle than what it will actually take.

Honda generator. I've lined up a few places with best prices where I'll buy it but am waiting until a week or two before I get it. I figure I can give it a decent shake down, weed out any possible problems, and get them resolved in that time. I do (still) have plans to add solar power to my rig, but decided to wait until after I'm out on the road a while. Mainly I want to see who has what and how it's setup on their rigs. I've done a lot of research and have a list of the best recommended items for my needs but still.

Madeline (the german shepherd). Some of you might recall her from my hunting and gathering post over two years ago. She's one of the things I've been shopping for and am within a few weeks of getting her. As I've always said I love and adore my beagle Bridgette, but she's absolute shit when it comes to protecting me. The family is excited about this and looking forward to having another little one around (regardless of species). Well, most everyone is excited. Mom isn't too crazy about it, but as I explained to her it's only for a short while. That and since we put Oreo (sissy's dog who lives with them) on a strict diet, she's dropping much smaller steamers these days. Backyard cleanup is also much easier since I've been around to help out. I say that tongue in cheek and mean it within the bounds of her OCD. Anyways. Puppy! Looking forward to adding to my little family, and putting all those lessons in patience the beagle put me through. They do say raising the second is easier. We'll see.

I attended one night at the behest of a few very close friends and family. While it was great reconnecting with a lot of friends whom I hadn't seen in years there were as many acquaintances I could've done without seeing. It would've been nicer had I only reunited with just the ones I wanted elsewhere instead. Still I managed the survive the night and make it home in one piece. This event is held at a hotel near LAX which means I've got to drive through most of the crap I really hate. Los Angeles. Don't get me wrong I have a special kind of hate for Orange County too, but it's a far cry more tolerable than the former. Part of it is sharing the road with the special breed of idiot who drives there, but most of it is the miles and miles and miles of manmade everything. Being here this long has started to damage my calm and I think the time for me to take my leave is fast coming! At the very least I need to get out of town for a few days and recharge my batteries.

All in all things are going as expected and I'm on schedule to hit the road. I'm still shooing for mid to late fall or winter at the very latest. That is if I'm wrong and my sister is right about her friend whom she keeps saying I will hit it off with. You know me, I never put all my ducks in a basket! Or is that eggs in a row? Never say ever? Can't seem to think straight in this heat.