What does "living the simple dream" mean to me?

I always hear people from our generation saying "Ahh, living the dream" when they are doing somthing our of the ordinary - for example: sipping cocktails in a spa of a fancy resort or perhaps they post "living the dream" as the caption beneath a photo of them moving into their new $500,000+ mansion-esque home they have just mortgaged their life away for. At first I was confused by how simple my ambitions were. All I wanted was to live in a caravan and be able to spend as much time enjoying the outdoors with my husband and son, without my husband having to be at work all the time. So for me, this became my simple dream. I find myself having those "Ahh living the dream" moments when I am sitting in a natural hot spring with my husband and son, drinking a beer, ten feet away from a crocodile infested river. Now mine, my husbands and my sons life is all about chasing our simple dream.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our draws and cupboards

This post is just to show you the basic kitchen items that we travel with. When you move into a caravan your storage space drops dramatically, but so do your needs so ultimately it balances out. Dont be perplexed by what you see in my photos and how it compares to yours as we are all very different and we all have very different ways of making meals! My draws did not look ANYTHING like this at the start of our trip, this level of "almost emptyness" comes from going through everything basically everytime we stop for longer than a week in a town (and I get some spare time) and donating the things we dont use to charity. You will find that as you get further along in your trip you will notice items you havn't touched the entire time, although its nice to be prepared - somtimes we can be a little too prepared! When you find these items you can choose to pack them away in the van somewhere, you could donate them to charity or if they are too special (eg. gift/heirloom) you can pop them in a post box and let it build up until its full then post it "home" or to a family family to look after for you.

Overhead cabinets

The above picture is of my overhead cabinets above my dining table. I use this tablet to house my baking ingredients and sauces/ oils etc (see the next photo). The reason I left this entire area for baking/cooking ingredients was to make them far more accessable. This way I can get to them anytime and I can bake with ease. Baking all of our own snack food and desserts etc from scratch saves us alot of money. When I became a "new mum" 3 years ago to my son, instantly the ring of "Tupperware" parties began. I ended up purchasing ALOT of tupperware and although it was costly its been a great investment. There are MANY options for plasticware out there (so use whatever works for you!) and so far one that I have found that is on-par with Tupperware in terms of the lids not falling off on corrugated or bumpy roads are those "Klip Its" containers from big W/Woolworths (the clear ones with the blue seals and clips). Its important to make sure your plasticware is durable and the lids will hold firm on rough surfaces! (I am not in anyway affiliated with Tupperware!) I also like the way the modular design makes them all fit in better together. Perhaps be concious of this when you purchase your plasticware and try to get most of your products in the same brand so they will fit in better as packing cupboards in a caravan can be much like a good game of Tetris.

Overhead cabinets again

Once my overhead cabinets were all packed witht he containers I then added in front the oils and sauces and other products I use frequently in the caravan. This way I have easy access to them when needed. This was the perfect spot for those items to fit as the actual pantry for the caravan is very deep and involves taking everything out to get to the back of. Being able to have these items here means I am able to grab things like tomato sauce etc with ease during a meal. You will notice that I have alot of sauce bottles - that is because when I run out of sauce I keep the bottles then I use them for sauces and other condements that come in glass bottles eg. Soy sauce and Balsamic Vinegar. This way they are more durable on rough roads and I know there wont be cracked glass and soy sauce everywhere! Now that I have all the plastic bottle I need I wash out my BBQ and Tomato sauce whenever they finish and refull them from a cheap, 1 litre bottle (to save money).

My second draw

This is the draw for all the larger items. The reason it looks so empty is because it houses all the containers that we put leftovers/fresh produce/baked goods etc in - so they are all being used at the moment. I like to keep a stock up of items like zip lock bags (they make up for the fact that I can hardly fit any plastic containers into the van for everyday use). I also like to keep a stock up of items like cloths (for wiping benches/washing up) scourers, baking paper, glad wrap and alfoil. These items run out/need replacing all the time and can be very costly at small shops in little towns. I use food scales ALOT when making things like bread and other baked goods so they are very handy. Ice cube trays are great as if your in the middle of nowhere and have some room in your freezer you can pop a try in and have some ice for your "happy hour" drinks.

My top draw immediately under the sink.

The top draw would have to be the draw we use the absolute most. It has our plates, bowls (when they arent all in the washing up), cutlery, cooking utencils and the plasticware we use the most. I wanted to keep this draw very simple and functional since both my husband and I aswell as our three year old son need things from it all the time throughout the day. I began with a proper cutlery tray (the type you have in draws in houses) but quickly discovered that it too up too much room! So not I use a lunchbox. It really hasnt made it any difficult as we dont have alot of cutlery so there isnt a mountain of it to sort through.

The basket in the draw is home to our cooking utencils, paddy pans, herb chopper, sippee lids (for our son) and a few other bits and pieces. The basket stops those items from ending up strewn accross the draw while in transit.

Youll notice we only have one coffee mug (we used to have none but when my mum visited she bought it). We only really keep it for visitors as neither of us drink coffee and we only rarely have tea or hot chocolate.

Some of the items we have in our draws and why we have them

Little containers

These little containers are so handy. Once you get ont he road and want to make your money stretch further you will want to use alot less "disposbale stuff" aswell as have alot more picnic style meals. These containers are the perfect size for things like mayonaise, sauces, salt/pepper/chicken salt, salad dressings, vegemite and butter etc. We use these ALL the time! You can get containers this small from the plasticware section in woolworths for just a few dollars and they WILL save you money. Even on the days you do have takeaway, you wont have to buy sauce for your chips or pie if you have one of these babies handy!

Reusable metal skewers

We felt like chicken kebabs along the road somewhere so we went to woolworths to buy a big packet of disposable skewers. We found these for only a DOLLAR more and decided to get them instead. They are fantastic! They regularly save as money aswell as the space a big packet of disposable ones would have taken up!

          reusable sillicone patty pans

Now these things are FANTASTIC! Not only do they eliminate the VERY large metal muffin and cupcake trays we simply couldnt fit, they also eliminate the need for spray oil! They are great and cost less than their metal counterparts! They also elimenate the need for those patty pan liners! When your living in a van and have weight limits every little loss counts!

         net food covers

These things are fantastic! We eat outside the van ALOT and the flies can get very full on. These are perfect for covering your meal or your nibbly trays. They also fold down to (and weigh) nearly nothing! These were $1 each at the reject shop some time ago.

        Plastic tumblers

My husband hates plastic cups so I basically had to buy these to please his subconcious. I mean, if it looks like a glass... It must be a glass right? NOPE! They are plastic! They look great (before you give up on only using the soft sponge on them) when they have no scratched, but even when they are scratched they dont hold the taste of drinks like many other plastic cups do. These were from Kmart and were somthing like $8 for four. We have dropped them a million times and had our first breakage a few days ago (after about 8-10 months of using them). They are very durable!

       plastic collapsable collander

This thing is brilliant! It is a perfectly functional collander and can collapse down to be about two centemetres deep (if that) so that it fits flat, in your draw. This one is made my Tupperware as it was the first one I ever saw so I bought it immediately, however my mum recently purchased one while grocery shopping at woolworths, from the cookware aisle! These are great, a MUST have item!

This is an odourless mosquito zapper, It does have to be plugged in though so you need to be connected to power or have a generator (or solar and an inverter) to run it (im sure there are non electrical mosquito methods that would be as effective). After staying at a few places and waking up in th emorning to our little boy eaten alive by mosquitos we didnt evenr ealise were in our van, we purchased this! Now we simple plug it in, in his room for half an hour to an hour before he goes to bed, then we swtch it off when we tuck him in. No more mozzie bites!

I still have a few more cupboards to add to this list, but this post has become quiet large so I will add a part 2 to it tonight or tomorrow!

Part 2 will include:

- pantry
- overhead cabinets above the sink
- other miscelaneous items!

I will also do a post down the track of our food/cleaning etc items.

Hope our methods gave you some new ideas :-)

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