I love an early morning, a fresh cup of coffee and day wide open to meander around the house with no plans. Opening the door, I can see the fog hanging low around the houses, the sun peeking over the tufts of trees and the cold air kissing my face. This isn’t the same scene at 2PM. No, this is only a view your treated with if you happen to be an early riser.
I am not one to get bored at home. I don’t need plans to enjoy a day. No, quite the contrary. A day where the plan is to not have a plan. There is always a long list of different projects I can get my hands in. Whether it’s braising some meat throughout the day in the Dutch oven, fixing some steps, organizing tools, researching the next campsite or run.
This morning was devoted to getting some seeds planted. All cold weather veggies, flowers, and herbs. Although it’s the middle of January, I can get them started in the house and transplant outside. We’ve been getting kissed with light frosts but nothing that would kill the seedlings. They may grow slow during these months but sometimes I’m surprised the growth that will occur. In California we seem to have warm stretches scattered through the winter and we happen to be in one now. Days in the high 60s, even low 70s. Bad for drought, bad for fire season but great for plants that get to take as a stage of all the early season rain.
You can’t beat taking care of a task and drinking that first cup of coffee only to look up at the clock and realize it’s only 8am. These are the days that I cherish. I’m so blessed to have the life I have, to live around such beauty and to be surrounded by people (and dogs) that I love dearly. The regular ol’ day is a great day.
It’s so great to have garden space and a “big” kitchen again. Don’t get me wrong, eating out is great but there’s something that feeds the soul when making a meal with your partner. The teamwork and the ability to enjoy something you created right then and there. What’s this all have to do with Kimchi? Well, having the garden and kitchen has gotten me back to my cooking and fermenting ways. Along with a partner that encourages me every step of the way, I’m being pushed to new heights and challenges. With our new found love for kimchi fried rice, it renewed my interest in making kimchi from scratch. A trip to the Asian market to pick up the goods and I went quick to work. Gojuchang, a Korean pepper paste along with garlic, fish sauce, ginger, scallions, a huge Napa cabbage, and some salt. Does that not sound like it will be good?
The Kimchi turned out great and it’s lasted 6 plus months in a container in the fridge. The Kimchi fried recipe has been the main way I use Kimchi. It’s been awesome to incorporate Kimchi fried rice into our dinner options as Mallory loves it, it’s easy to make and the ingredients are easy to have on hand not to mention it’s cheap!
The problem with a new tool is it can soon become your favorite tool for every job. While that may not sound terrible, it can be a detriment. For example, when I decided an angle grinder was the best tool to get a stuck drum off my van (it didn’t work.) A pressure washer is one of these tools that has quickly become my recent tool to obsess over. I’m not the only one that recognizes the joys of uncovering a pristine surface under a muddied exterior. See r/powerwashingporn on Reddit or find Youtube videos with millions of views. Imagine being the doer and not the spectator. Imagine holding that magical wand and disappearing years of filth that would have taken many painstaking hours to clean by hand. Glorious! My new purchase this past week was a gas pressure washer. I have used electric but nothing compares to the force of a gas powered unit. With that force comes ear wrecking small engine noise but I think it’s worth it, my neighbors don’t.
All hail the screaming banana, a used Workforce 2500psi 163cc bought for the Facebook marketplace price of $180. I don’t like to own tools just to have them, this tool will get a lot of use and is a great addition for many DIY tasks around the home.
It was a busy winter filled with camping and fishing, just the way I like it. While going on these adventures I was able to continually add to a list of modifications I would like to perform on the van. There’s so much joy in using something and making tweaks to better suit your needs. The only constant is change, it’s cliche but it’s true. Let me not get stuck on how the way things are now but what they can become. Below is an incomplete list of modifications I’ve done on the van since the last update.
Got rained on. My ARB awning was stolen so my solution was to grab what wood
I had and attach it the racks. It protects the inside of the van from light showers. If it’s heavy sideways rain, it’s not going to work as well. Total cost $0
Since you’ve been following so close attention, you may have noticed the new cargo rack on the top. It’s the one offered at harbor freight. I think it’s around 50 bucks. It’s pretty useful although it does make this van that much of a kite in the wind. I took off sticker and painted the wind deflector all black.
Oh, well, will you look at that. I just gave away another modification. LED lights in the front now. No longer does it feel like an oil lantern in front of my van. I can now equally blind the other drivers who happen to enter my path. Jokes aside, the wires needed modification and my mechanic removed some of the working LEDs when the lights are in low. He said you would likely get pulled over if you kept all of the LEDs working on lo beam.
Added this sick sticker, added at least 10HP. Contact Aaron Morrell.
Got this console from my mechanic for free. Came through in the clutch, thanks Gustavo!
Back up light installed. I drilled a hole in the side of the solar panel rail and ran the wires to a switch under the hatch. Below is a video of the light in action.
Side light for the porch. Bought these lights off amazon for less than 20. They’re pretty bright and contain six LEDs.
pretty useful to have a table inside.
how i mounted it.
new book i bought to learn more about salmon and trout.
My Lagun table mount, those things cost a fortune but I’ve seen some blemished ones on eBay at a discount. The table top I made out of sanded 3/4″ plywood. Came out real nice with two coats of stain and two sprays of marine varnish.
I covered the folding table in the back of the van with plexiglass that was leftover from a project. This table typically gets covered when cooking multiple meals. The plexiglass make it really easy to wipe. Be careful when installing the plexiglass, it cracks easily. I used screws to hold it in. I drilled pilot holes and went until firm but not overly tight.
I held off because I didn’t want anything on the vinyl or the window but I finally added a phone holder. Cheap one off eBay for six bucks. It holds well, I just hope it doesn’t ruin the vinyl.
USB ports installed behind the couch. If running usb ports from 12v, you need to have a converter that converts the power to 5v.
Painted the step and installed the metal frame.
I removed the old bright white light and replaced it with two warm white led bars. Having one below the shelf and above really helps when cooking. A lot of the light was blocked with only one light on the roof.
TO BE CONTINUED…
I want to write a short post about my new layout for sleeping and lounging.
The dreams of traveling to other places by water is exciting. In addition to that dream, the thought of maybe living on a sailboat and focusing on what’s important and reducing the stuff I own is exciting. I’ve gotten comfy with space over the past few years. I haven’t been as diligent as I used to be with reducing the stuff coming in and the stuff going out. This transition to a sailboat will ultimately make me own less stuff but what I’m finding out is that when you buy a sailboat, you soon may be drawn to all the cool gadgets.
As I read the Lin and Larry Pardey’s book on “Cost Conscious Cruising,” they make a point to get a feel for the sailboat before buying all the things. Be on it for awhile and take it out and then see what you might want. I’m definitely keeping that in mind although I have spent a lot of money on items for the sailboat in the first week of ownership but I feel like they are essential to the boat and my mission.
1st week of purchases:
(2) SRM-27 Interstate Deep Cycle Batteries for Starting the Boat
(2) 200 Watt Solar Panels for Charging Both Banks of Batteries
(1) 40a Solar Charge Controller (ePever)
(1) Super Cute Life Jacket for Buster
Hasp to Lock the Hatch
Wind Muffs to Block Wind Noise for Camera/Vlogging
New Marine Charger to Replace the Broken One
I’m getting a little bit of anxiety bringing on all these new items and spending all this money in a short amount of time. I could probably say that the above items are a necessity to the boat running well and my dog staying safe but you should also see what’s in my Amazon and eBay cart. A composting toilet, fishing reel, maybe new pots and pans (you can’t have ceramic in a sailboat, can you?), and other miscellaneous stuff that my mind is tempting me to buy.
These are the times I need to catch myself. I need to be careful as to what I bring on. I really need to wait a few days or a week before making a purchase. I can convince myself things are really necessary when maybe they aren’t.
Minimalism is a privilege, people tend to think about practicing minimalism more when they have the ability to purchase or obtain a lot of stuff. Not everyone has that ability. With that said minimalism goes beyond physical stuff, it’s ridding yourself of the mental clutter too. Something I could practice more as of late. I digress, but isn’t that life jacket cute on Buster.
When designing this van I wanted to the ability to have a bench seat (i.e. couch) and not have the bed take up the whole van like so many designs. Although, it would require work to fold up and down, I like the ability to clear the space and sit up right. I thought this was necessary to work while on the road.
My brother found a design that didn’t involve any sliding or folding out legs. The only thing necessary was to flip what you’re sitting on. Once folded out, it provides a large enough space to sleep two.
Flaws of this design included:
1. The back rest can only be a certain height or else it will clip the ceiling.
2. The bench width needs to be under a certain length so it avoids clipping the sides of the van because the van is curved.
3. It makes storage a little harder to access.
We built a frame around the wheel well and the back of the van.
We added a sheet of plywood to the top as one piece.
Then it was time to attach the folding section. Note, there are spaces for storage in the back and the front of the design. You can see a cut out in the back where we installed a lid to access gear.
Here’s a shot from the back. You can see that the side facing out the back can be folded up and turned into a table. This is nice because it has protection from rain with the back hatch.
Here’s the bed folded out.
In the picture below you can see how the back rest was framed. 3×2″s were used to support the back.
Below is flip out storage underneath the legs but it also doubles as a coffee table.
Next step is to make cushions for the seats out foam and fabric I have bought. The cushions should not cost more than 100 total to make. Although, it will take some time to stitch them together. I will post progress as I follow through with making the cushions.
It was time to create the base for which would be building our masterpiece. Everything starts with the floor and from there you build up. Since there were slats that ran down the van we needed to install some planks in between.
This way we could lay a piece of plywood on top and lay it in. This also helped us not put screws into metal. Anytime I’m cutting or putting screws into metal it makes me nervous. Not to say that it can’t be done but sometimes I just don’t want to do it if I don’t have to.
We installed the slats by using construction grade adhesive. Don’t be shy! Smother that stuff on there like you would pour syrup on a waffle. This stuff takes some time to dry and become strong. I think we waited 24 hours before trying to install the piece of plywood. We pre-tapped the holes and my brother had this handy drill that would flip from drill to screwdriver. It had the ability to set a countersink which made the screws fit flush. Real nice!
We had to do the floor in two separate pieces because of the size plywood comes in. My brother is the measure so I followed his lead and we cut each piece one at a time. There are all sorts of weird bends and things to cut around so I was really impressed when our pieces came out and fit so well.
Here’s a pic of both plywood pieces installed.
Next, it was time to lay the vinyl floor that looks like fake wood. Yeah, it’s a little overplayed but so what, I think it will look classy with the white bench. Maybe not but you only live one life. We needed to cut it before applying it to the ply wood so before we installed the plywood pieces, we created an outline on the vinyl.
After it was cut, it was time to apply. The guy at Home Depot, yeah, that’s right, I found someone who would actually help me there. He said that this double sided tape would work just fine when attaching vinyl to wood. So, that’s what we went with. I bet the floor would have had less bubbles if we used a puddy but overall, it was really easy to apply and it sticks very well.
Do you juice a lot? Drink coffee? Use a lot of vegetables and fruits? Where does your “waste” go? If you’re in some states, you can throw that stuff in your green (yard waste) bin and save it from going to the landfill. Vermicomposting is a way to use that “waste” which call a resource, at home. This is especially useful in areas with no yard waste bins. I see a lot online about people juicing and lining their pulp trays with plastic bags then throwing it out.
Red wriggler worms (Eisenia fetida) work great at breaking down fruits, vegetables, juice remnants, coffee grounds, and more. These worms are extremely efficient and relatively fast at breaking down these fruit cores and lettuce ends to a very rich nutrient compost for your garden. You can sometimes find these red wriggler worms at bait shops, online, and soon through me! You can farm these worms at home with a rubbermaid container, a few pieces old wood constructed into a box, a five gallon container, a purchased worm farm kit, etc.. I find the more wide and shallow the structure, the better the environment for the worms. These worms generally live in the top 12″ of the soil while night crawlers can go much deeper into the ground. These bins for the worms must be aerated. At the very least, you want drainage holes on the bottom and a loose fitting lid for the top. Worms need oxygen too!
Here is a list of what you’ll need:
A box for your worms
And some leftover food waste (no meat or oils)
Make sure your box is well ventilated. In my case, I drilled hole on the bottom and sides of the rubbermaid container with a 5/16″ drill bit.
Layer sticks in a crossing pattern. This will help the bin drain.
Tear newspaper length wise and lay that over the sticks.
Put an inch of soil in the box over the newspaper.
Lay worms on top of the soil.
Chop of the food waste into small pieces and lay on top. Tip: Don’t overload the bin with food scraps at first. They take a while to get going and giving them too much food may kill them and make your bin stinky! They generally take a month to get used to their new home.
Shred more newspaper length wise and lay on top.
Moisten the newspaper and attach the lid. You do not want an airtight lid.
The worms don’t want to be soaking wet but they despise being dry. Think of a wrung out sponge!
You can replace the newspaper with leaves too. Make sure not to use conifer (redwood, pine, etc.) leaves because worms do not digest those. Those leaves and needles require fungi to break them down.
Do you juice a lot? That pulp is excellent worm food, you’ve done have the work for them by grinding it up like that.
I will be selling worms in about two months, ready for spring time!
Sprouts, so healthy, so good. That sprout needs a lot of energy to start growing, so, mother nature packed seeds full of nutrients. When you sprout a seed, you increase the bioavailability of those nutrients. That’s where you come in. You get to chow down on these delicious little buggers. They are tasty on their own, but they also make a great addition to many meals. Here’s a quick, simple, easy to follow guide to sprouting your own seeds. Today, I will be using alfalfa seeds as an example but this method can be applied to all seeds that are edible such as broccoli, sunflower, mung, and adsuki beans.
Step 1…Cut a hole in the box! Just kidding, I regress.
You can get started with any glass jar but I choose to use canning jars. The wide mouth version of canning jars are able to fit a variety of sprouting lids. The lids can be purchased online, or at local hardware stores and some groovy garden centers such as Harmony Farm Supply. If you don’t want to use a lid, start with a rubber band and some mesh or cheesecloth.
Step 2….Obtain the seeds, preferably organic (you don’t know what yucky chemicals the conventional ones have been sprayed with). Some conventionally grown seeds are treated with fungicides, definitely avoid those! Put a couple tablespoons at the bottom of the jar.
Step 3…Fill with water and let sit overnight.
Step 4… Empty jar of water then rinse seeds and leave jar upside down at angle to drain.
Step..5 Repeat step 4 every morning and night until the seeds have sprouted and are a good size. Overtime, you’ll get better at determining when the best time is to stop rinsing and eat.
Step 6 (optional)… Put sprouts in a bowl of water and scrape the hulls of the seeds off the top of the water. This is easy to do with bigger seeds like mung beans.
Step 7 (not optional)… Eat those sprouts and store the leftovers in an airtight jar in the fridge. The canning jars are great because you can throw a canning lid on and be done with it.
P.S. I will soon be starting a youtube channel and will be posting a video of this process! Thanks for reading.