Monday, January 7, 2019

What Minimalism Means to Me



As a new year begins, I realize that it really is an opportunity to begin anew.  I have not set resolutions for the year but I have set intentions.  I have set a purpose for everything I want to do. 

Minimalism is about setting intentions for what you want, need, and do.  It is not just about throwing away all your stuff.  The question you have to ask yourself is 'Why do I feel the need to consume so much?" 

About six months ago, I asked myself, "Can I live with less?" and I discovered that, for me, the answer was and ever remains a resounding YES!  Then the question became, "HOW?" That is when I discovered minimalism. 

The best way for me to describe the concept is by using the analogy: Minimalism is to decluttering as Stress is to things.

The process of decluttering is far more painless when you realize what it is you want and become focused on attaining that.  For me, I wanted peace of mind, freedom to travel, and less stress.  The more I gave away, the more relief I felt.  Opportunities to give surfaced, which made the process much more enjoyable for all parties involved.  The intent was more about giving to those who could find use for the items and less about trying to make a few bucks. 

We really can live with less.

If you are interested in pursuing the idea of minimalism here are a few helpful tips.

  • Use it or Lose it.  Get rid of anything you have been storing in hopes of using it "someday."  Things harbor memories, it's true, but they also carry mental and physical weight that can keep you stuck in time and place.  Rule of thumb: If you haven't used it in a year, get rid of it or pass it along to someone who can use it.  Donate it to charity.  
  • Declutter your life.  Sometimes we don't realize how much stuff we are hanging on to until we start cleaning house.  When you get rid of unnecessary items, you make room for bigger and better things to move into your space--physically, mentally, and spiritually.   
  • Experience freedom.  Once you start giving things away you feel light.  
  • Practice Gratitude.   When you are content with what you have, you don't feel the need to consume things.   Less truly is more!


I would love to hear your thoughts.  Please share your comments below.  


Online resources on minimalism
SimplifyMagazine.com - a quarterly digital publication
TheMininimalists.com - the guys who started the minimalist movement
Bemorewithless.com/begin - 7 Tiny steps for the Beginner Minimalist


Tour my T@B



To video or not to video?  That is the question.  I am not a professional but I believe that everybody has to start somewhere.  In fact, all of this is new to me and I consider myself in learner mode.  With that in mind, I have uploaded the first video to Miles and Coffee RV o YouTube.  I made so many mistakes that I don't know where to begin.  I have much respect to people who make videos full time!   Check out the 5 minute video here.

Just like RV Life in general, I jumped in head first and I figure I will learn as I go.  No excuses!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Win a 2019 T@B Trailer


Are you obsessed with T@B Trailers?  If so, here's your chance to win a brand new one.  From now through February 15, 2019 you can enter to win the 2019 NuCamp T@B 320.  You are allowed to enter everyday until the contest ends.  Good luck and happy trails! Click here to enter the sweepstakes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Why I Chose a Tiny T@B Trailer

T@B travel trailers have enjoyed a cult following since the 50's.  They are derived from the popular teardrop trailers that were popular with families at the time.   Though small, T@B trailers are plenty big enough to make camping enjoyable.  It is very well made and constructed by the Amish.  The T@B brand has gone through several company changes.  The name of the company that markets them now is NuCamp.  For this review, I will focus on the 2017 Pleasant Valley T@B S Max.  It is compatible with the Nu Camp T@B U 320.  There are three main reasons why I chose a T@B:
  1. The T@B is the right size for my tow vehicle.
  2. It has adequate storage.  
  3. It has an undeniable cuteness factor!
First of all, I chose a T@B above all other RVs is because of its size.  I was originally seeking a truck with a powerful engine because I thought that I needed one to haul a huge trailer with all the bells and whistles.  Boy was I wrong!  After tons of research, investing hours on YouTube, and many sleepless nights, I came across an article that informed me that my 2016 Kia Sportage has the capacity to tow 2000 pounds.  

My 2016 Kia Sportage 

That tidbit of information was a game changer.   I realized that I already owned a tow vehicle.  I just needed to change the focus of my attention and switch my search to tiny trailers.   RVTrader.com was a helpful resource for me.  RV Trader lists hundreds of RV's of different makes and models from all over the country.  I could literally see the size, specs, and gross vehicle weight rating all on one website.  I was also completely committed -- I was willing to travel to purchase the trailer that I was looking for.  

It was a great day when I saw this ad pop up on RVTrader!

Screenshot of the original post from Gerton Auto Sales via RVTrader

My first thought was, "I can't believe this! This T@B is the right size for the right price!"  My second thought was, "It matches my car!", and my last thought was "At this price this RV will sell fast.  I need to call the dealer ASAP!"  Which is exactly what I did.   After much research, I knew that older T@Bs were selling for more than the asking price of this one.  I also discovered that this was the last and final price and it included the paperwork and walk through!  I asked how much to take it off the market, sight unseen, and I was told that I needed to wire $500 with proof of identity. I jumped at the chance.  John Gerton assured me that he sold RVs to women all the time.  He told me "Beverly, don't worry about anything.  We will prepare your RV and let you know when it is ready for pick up."  We kept in touch via email and by phone and for some reason I trusted John Gerton.  I did not get that trusting feeling at dealerships that I visited in person.  I have learned to trust my gut and this case, I am so glad I did.  Everything worked out from the first initial payment, including the walkthrough.  John even made coffee upon my arrival and set up my brake controller.  I highly recommend Gerton Auto Sales.  For me, it was worth the drive all the way from Louisiana.  I am pointing family members near Indiana to Gerton Auto Sales without hesitation.  

The second reason I chose a T@B is that it has enough storage to serve my needs.   In spite of its size, it really is roomy.  In fact, T@Bs are bigger on the inside than on the outside.  Let's take a look at the floor plan for the T@B S Model.  



As you walk in, the galley is on the right.  It includes a two burner stove, a compact fridge, and a multi-purpose sink.  



Directly in front of you is the wet bath.  



I required an inside galley and a toilet.  Other models exchange a closet for a toilet and an outside kitchen.  My review is focusing on the S Model with a wet bath and an inside kitchen.  



To your left,  as you enter is the U shaped seating area which converts into a twin bed or a King size bed, depending on whether you want to take your bed down and set it up every day. 







Between the two benches is a Lagun table which swivels and can be removed and attached to the outside of the trailer for entertaining.  


Lagun table set up outside, Miles, my tiny trailer. 

There is storage underneath the passenger side bench, while the bench on the driver's side houses the electrical units.  You can access it for service only.  I use the passenger side bench to store extra food items that must stand upright like bottles, etc.  

The Seating/Bed is a sofa during the day and folds down to make a full-size bed at night.  Behind this is a bank of overhead storage bins.  I store clothing here.  I use one for pants, one for shirts, and one for skirts and dresses.   Beneath the overhead storage is a cabinet for miscellaneous items.  I use soft bins to store makeup,  socks, underwear, and jewelry.  There was just enough room for four soft baskets to house these items.  Phew!

Kitchen storage, on the other hand, is a challenge.  The overhead cabinets are small and odd shaped.  The cabinets under the sink are only big enough for the basic necessities.  I keep spices, eating utensils, paper plates, and dry goods in the top cabinet.  I have housed the Instant Pot in the bottom cabinet.  

I will post more about storage in a future post called Favorite Gadgets, Part 2: Comfort.

The third and final reason for choosing my T@B is for its cuteness factor.  This tiny trailer is just too darn cute.  I had so much fun decorating it for Christmas and I get tons of compliments and questions at every rest stop or check-in.    



There you have it. My reasons for choosing a T@B are for its size, its storage, and its cuteness factor.  I chose a T@B because it is as cozy and comfy as a Hobbit Hole! and it's just the right size for me to maintain independently.  







Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Review of Coushatta Red Shoes RV Resort



During Thanksgiving week of 2019, I had the pleasure of visiting The Coushatta RV Resort in Kinder, LA.  I was blown away.  The colorful doormat above greets you as you walk into the lobby to register for your RV site.  It reads "Luxury RV Resort" and it is just that --Luxury.  In my humble opinion, this  RV Resort has everything you need to enjoy a great vacation or just relax.  This upscale park has something for everyone.



First of all, let's talk about the RV sites.  Each RV sits on its own paved lot.  Each site is a spacious pull through with room enough to accommodate a 30-foot trailer with a tow vehicle.  A picnic table is provided for convenience.  The site is well lit.  There are lighted posts stationed in front and in the rear of your camper.  Your privacy is respected.  I have not heard loud noises, partying or music during my stay.  But that's not to say that it is boring,  everyone I have met has been friendly.  In fact, I've made a few friends that I intend to keep in touch with. 



Cozy chalets are available for couples (single) and families (double).  I requested to see one and they are so cute.  All the comforts of home are included: full-size kitchen, private bedroom, private full-size bath, a sizeable living area with tv, a deck, and an outdoor barbeque grill.  The chalet 'double' includes bunk beds for the kiddos and a larger deck for entertaining.



Next, let's talk about the amenities included for RVers.  Again, I will emphasize the fact that you will find plenty to do here at the Coushatta RV Resort.

  • FREE shuttle service to and from the Casino

  • Free cable TV and Wi-Fi

  • Lodge with fireplace, game room, big-screen TV, convenience store and large covered deck

  • Children's playground, horseshoe pits, courts for tennis, basketball, volleyball, and shuffleboard

  • Two bathhouses and laundry facilities
Description of amenities courtesy of Coushatta Casino Resort website

These are just some of the activities provided.  The Coushatta RV Park sits on about 40 landscaped acres.  The casinos are literally right across the parking lot for gamblers and restaurants to satisfy every craving.
The rest is up to you and your imagination.


I must not fail to mention how immaculate the bathhouses are.  They are absolutely pristine at all times.  You would be hard pressed to find paper or standing water on the floors, even during peak hours.  The showers are kept tidy and ready for use.


Last but not least is, of course, the fabulous restaurants.  My favorite fare was found at the Terrace Cafe.  The Unlimited Breakfast Bar and Unlimited Salad Bar are great bargains for those who want variety.  The service is friendly and prompt. On Tuesdays, the Breakfast is half off for guests who are 55 and older.  Other restaurants include Nathan's Hot Dog stand and Hunt's Pizza.

Perks are a plus!  Sitting at a card game or a slot machine can be rewarding for  Coushatta Advantage Members.  Some meals or overnight stays can be comped after you attain 250 points. Members also enjoy gifts, discounts, and other rewards.  Make sure to inquire about how to receive your Advantage Card at check-in.  Points add up to big savings!


Overall, I am very impressed with Coushatta RV Resort.   Everyone is friendly, the service is great, and everything is immaculate.   I'm looking forward to coming back very soon! 



Sunday, September 30, 2018

Favorite Gadgets, Part 1

I am obsessed with minimalism.  That means I have made a conscious decision to surround myself with only the things I love and use on a daily basis.  Having said that, I have created a cozy 'happy place' in my tiny T@B, Miles, by figuring out what I truly need.  Though you dont need a lot of stuff, there are some items that RVers cannot live without.  Calculating one's Needs versus Wants is an ongoing challenge but it also simplifies life, and that, my friend is the ultimate goal--simplicity.  This post will be a 4 Part Series focusing on my favorite gadgets by category: Cooking, Comfort, Cleaning, and Camping.  In part 1, I am sharing my favorite cooking tools and appliances.


This one pot wonder has been my favorite kitchen appliance for three years and counting.  It is an electric pressure cooker with slow cooker capabilities and so much more.  I have cooked everything from BBQ ribs to peach cobbler in this pot.  It is incredible.  You can replace several pots and pans with this device as it has a saute feature that allows you to brown meat or saute veggies without transferring food from one pot to another.  There are imitations out there but buyer beware.  Only the Instant Pot has the stainless steel inner pot and a money back guarantee.  It is even cheaper now than when I bought it and it still works like new!   Whether you are traveling in an RV or not, buy one!  You will find it has a cult following on social media.  I will share some of my favorite Instant Pot recipes in future posts.

The little appliance sitting on the counter next to my Instant Pot is the Crock Pot Food Warmer.  It is perfect for reheating small portions.  I use it for lunch and for small batches that I want to heat up as shown in the picture.  I do not use the microwave at work if I can help it, it is usually gross!  I also do not have a microwave in my RV so this little guy comes in handy.  The name has rubbed off, but the quality has not.  I just put about 2 cups of soup, or leftovers, or whatever needs reheating in the inner pot, place the pot in the warmer, put the top on, plug it in and enjoy piping hot food in less than an hour.  The food does not burn, it just gets nice and hot, just the way I like it!  :-)

The next item that gets daily use is my Faberware Nonslip Cutting Board.  It is displayed to the right of the Instant Pot in the picture.  I believe the use for this item is self-explanatory.


Speaking of cutting food,  I also have a great chef's knife that I use daily.  It is made by Good Cook.  It is a good quality knife for the price.  Just be careful.  I knicked my finger the first time I used it!
I have had no problems with it since.   I have had the knife for at least two years and I have not had to sharpen the blade.


I am finding that silicone is my best friend.  It is super strong, cleans well and is usually collapsible.  That is why I use this Vegetable Steamer Tray.  I use it in my Instant Pot to steam vegetables but it also serves as a small colander to strain vegetables and pasta.  Cleaning is a snap and it holds its shape, but not the smell of the food.


Last but not least are the items that I use for my favorite beverages.  Those who know me are aware of my love for coffee!  My coffee habit has evolved with the times and now that I am traveling RV style, I have learned to make my daily ritual even better.  While watching YouTube, I saw Joe Russo's of "We Are The Russos" use the "pour over method" to make his favorite brew.   That very day, I ordered a stainless steel pour over coffee dripper.   I must say, that the coffee is smooth and tastes just like the more expensive cups you can buy at you know where.  It takes a few seconds to pour the hot water over the coffee grinds but the initial aroma is worth the time and the quality of the brew is worth the effort!  Thank you so much for the tip, Joe and Kait Russo.  I would love to have a cup of coffee with them on the road one day.


Hanging on the wall are my stainless steel coffee mugs.   This is for safety and also serves multi purposes.  You can easily cook with these over a campfire in a pinch.  I also have a set of stainless steel, stemless wine tumblers.  You learn to buy unbreakable items that can serve multiple purposes.  In an RV, things tend to tumble out of cabinets--a lot- especially while driving.

I would put a link on here about the Baby Potobello Stainless Steel tea kettle (pictured on top of the stove), but I did not purchase that from Amazon.  It was a gift from my newfound friend and stepmom, Pamela.  I have seen them on eBay.

The Berkey Water Filtration System removes chlorine and bacteria. 

I have a bonus item in my Amazon cart that I hope to purchase soon.  I have researched water filtration and the Berkey Water Filtration System has earned a solid reputation.  I  just need to figure out where I can find space to set it up in my "luxury cabin" as I have very little counter space.    In a tiny trailer,  space is a challenge but I am determined to find a way to work around it!


Amazon Associates Disclosure:
Miles and Coffee RV is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn a commission for sharing links from Amazon.com.




Monday, September 3, 2018

My 1st Towing Experience

I am not ashamed to say that I am a new RV-er.  As a newbie, I welcome every experience with open arms: the good, the bad, and the ugly.  That is what learning is all about, so you might as well embrace it and enjoy the journey -right?

I have so much to learn and so much to share but we will start at the beginning.  If I am going to be successful in my travels I will need a lot of practice doing the simple things and getting it right.  So grab a cup of coffee, tea, juice, or whatever makes you happy and join me on my first trip.  Coffee fuels everything in my life, thus the name for my blog, miles AND coffee! ; -)

My first trip was not for recreation.  I drove 535 miles all the way to Indiana out of necessity.  Those of you who are looking to buy an RV already know the deal.  Sometimes what you are looking for can not be found in your area and you must be prepared to travel to see, feel, and walk around the item you desire in order to get a true feeling for the dealer as well as the vehicle.  Do a lot of research and ask questions but also be prepared to seize the moment when the time is right.   You do not want to miss a great deal when it comes along!

I am happy to report that my purchase was a good experience.  I followed my gut and called the dealer when the Tab S model with the right floor plan, color, and price popped up on a site I visited for months.  When I discovered the RV was in Indiana, I had to make a decision whether to have a family member near that area pick it up and drive it to me or go and get it myself.  I chose the latter.

The folks at Gerton Auto Sales made me feel at home and took their time with me during every part of the process.  I consider myself blessed to have found them online.  I can not say enough about this particular dealer.  They hitched me up to my Kia Sportage, provided a starter kit of supplies, and even got behind the wheel to adjust the brake controller.  I will forever be grateful for their kindness and hospitality and am happy to be part of the "Gerton Auto Sales Family!"


Towing the Tab Trailer is a dream.  I admit, it was a bit nerve-wracking getting in front of that thing and facing the mileage for the first time, but after a few hours on the highway, my fears and concerns slowly but surely subsided.  The breaks work! (check) The T@b trailer tracks my car! (check).  The Kia CAN pull this thing after all! ( check)  All of these thoughts popped in my mind during the first thirty minutes of towing and I can not describe the elation I felt driving in front of the very RV that I prayed would work with my vehicle.  I truly love driving my Kia Sportage and the thought of trading it for another SUV or truck was cause for sleepless nights.  I believe the pairing is a match made in heaven.   What do you think?



The drive was smooth and I kept the speed between 55 and 60 as I drove 5 hours north toward Chicago to visit family.  My Dad studied the Tab and immediately informed me that "This thing is light as a feather!  You can easily go 70 miles per hour!" Though skeptical at first, I trusted my Dad's experience.  He has driven trucks and heavy equipment from cranes to tree chippers for his tree service in Northern Indiana.  I knew that I could trust his judgment so, indeed, on the way home, me, my Kia, and J@bez the T@b Trailer traveled between 65 and 70 on the trip back home without any issues.

One of the joys of traveling, for me, is stopping for a good meal and, yep you guessed it, a hot cup of coffee!  I included a couple of stops at Cracker Barrell along my route and I was not disappointed.
Upon leaving the dealership I drove straight to the Cracker Barrell in Evansville, Indiana to eat dinner.  I was starved and a bit road weary so I pulled into an available RV parking spot and popped in for a hot meal of fish nuggets.  Surrounded by favorite hotels that I considered booking for the night, an idea popped into my head.  I asked the server if I could see the manager and she beckoned him over.  When I asked him about his overnight policy for RV-ers he asked me if that was indeed my T@b parked outside.  I told him I had just purchased it.  With a smile and a wink, he welcomed me to stay overnight and I assured him that I would return for breakfast in the morning, which is exactly what I did!    Staying in my little T@b was very satisfying.  This was as adventurous as I dared to be on my maiden trip in my new RV.  If someone had predicted this would be a part of my experience I would have said they were crazy but it was easy.  I felt safe, secure, and went fast asleep, comfortably I might add!  The added bonus?  I saved on hotel fees.  It felt as though I stayed in a first class hotel with breakfast service.  Besides, I had everything I needed packed in a bag in my car.


The next morning, I could not resist taking in the view from the window of my RV.  The ducks were taking in the sun.  I would imagine that they enjoy coffee breaks as much as I do!


Thankfully, my visit with family was invigorating and rewarding.  They indulged my request to stop at Garrett's Famous Popcorn in Chicago before returning home after dinner in China Town.  You can not stop in Chicago without purchasing Garrett's Mix of Cheese popcorn, Carmel Popcorn with nuts.  It's a family owned business that has become a Chicago Tradition.  There is usually a long line no matter which location you choose so be prepared to wait and enjoy the aroma. That is part of the experience!



I grew up in Chicago so Garrett's Popcorn brings back fond memories of my childhood.  It's like taking a nostalgic trip down memory lane with each and every bite.  Garrett's is truly Happiness in a bag!


When it was time to for the the long journey home, I once again took an overnight stay at Cracker Barrel.  I drove from Indiana to Memphis, Tennessee in one shot before calling it quits for the night.  According to the manager, this particular restaurant was a "test kitchen".  He recommended the buttermilk battered fried chicken breast meal.  No other Cracker Barrel carries this item so I told him I would try it.  Boy, am I glad I did!  The chicken was crunchy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and seasoned to perfection.  I asked to meet the chef.  It was that good!  To top it all off, I had two cups of coffee with cream.  I earned it!



All in all, I am thankful for those who encouraged me to "Go for it!"  I am also grateful to the people who helped me get started on my new journey.  I must give a shout out to Jake and his team of technicians at Ram Truck and Equipment in Monroe, Louisiana.  They were patient and very gracious to me.  It took three trips to the shop to attach the hitch, brake controller, and accessories to my car.   I will definitely go to them for future service and maintenance.  I promised Jake (on the left) that I would bring my T@b trailer in for him to take a quick tour when I returned home.  When I asked if he would take a picture next to my trailer he humored me.



As I reflect on the journey to pick up my tiny trailer, I am filled with awe and anticipation for things to come.  I am so glad that I decided not to wait.  New learning takes time but it is worth it.  There will be pitfalls along the way, I am sure, but that is true of anything in life.


A wise man once said that it is not the destination but the journey that counts.  Life IS a journey.  As I sip another cup of coffee, I am filled with a sense of wanderlust.    Where will the T@b take me next?  Stay tuned!



What's Next?

  • Why I chose a T@b Trailer ( a tour of my Tab)
  • What Minimalism Means To Me
  • Travel Full Time? 










What Minimalism Means to Me

As a new year begins, I realize that it really is an opportunity to begin anew.  I have not set resolutions for the year but I have set ...