Lifestyle: Living Little

minimalism.  What is it you really need in life to feel comfortable?

I’ve come to appreciate that what you really need to enjoy a comfy home environment is something very simple. Other than a solid roof over your head it comes down to a few basics…a comfortable bed, hot running water and elements that work. You can fill up your living space with all the extras you like, but if you don’t have the necessary comforts (if you’re not camping in a tent, that is) you won’t feel protected and secure. After that you can add in life’s little luxuries…smart TV, laptop, blow dryer, throw pillows, designer bags, etc.

I know this because it has become my living situation in Palm Springs for the past three months. I’ve downgraded but am happier for it.  And it’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders – only a small weight mind you.  And a weight I put there myself.  Because I wasn’t completely happy with staying in hotels (subject always to availability not to mention prices that go waaay up depending on what’s going on around town & on  weekends) and renting places (which by the way have become harder and harder to find not to mention the astronomical damage deposit fee you must leave although if you don’t wreck the place you’ll get back).  At first my husband and I ended up renting a townhouse with a lot more space but a lot less soul than what we now call part/time home.

view from the front at dusk
at sunrise

Last year when visiting Palm Springs and by an extremely pleasant turn of events (bumping into someone I know from Vancouver at a music venue who told me about this place) I discovered a small RV park very centrally located within a short walking distance to town center. With a clubhouse/pool/sauna/games room, etc. and a hiking mountain right behind the park and shops/restaurants closeby.  Bonus: tons of hummingbirds. Out of curiosity I phoned to see if any spots were available for a short stay to camp in the Eurovan this time around (in between vacating the condo rental & hotel).  They did not have anything available, however a park model RV came up for sale in a location I liked within the park so let’s just jump ahead here…I bought it.  It’s super comfy, everything works and the dogs especially love it.  You make the space your own. Each is different, some are very nice, others not.  I found that people customize to their personal liking .

patio

My husband had to fly back to Vancouver for appointments.  On a Westjet flight back to PS he sat next to an interesting woman with a female dog sitting on her lap.  It was the woman’s first visit to Palm Springs staying at her cousin’s gorgeous condo.  We ended up going for a dog walk and she came back to our pad.  She loved it and said if another came up for sale she wanted to buy it as a more affordable and perfect alternative to renting or buying a condo.  (Bonus: no property tax issues and withholding tax at time of sale.)

instead of a white picket fence, a white lattice fence which I put together myself

Apparently nothing had come up for sale in a long time and the park is usually booked up a year in advance. But to her good luck karma, a couple only two spots away from us decided they wanted to sell their lovely upgraded park model and travel elsewhere for a change.  All to say…we have a new neighbour! And Jack has a nice new little girlfriend.  Funny how things work out.

The outer surroundings where we’re located are something else – anything but minimal to counterbalance the lack of….more space.  The space is situated with a pleasant mountain view and privacy hedges (in between neighbours) and palm trees.  It has all the comforts of home.  I call it my pad-à-terre. I’ve found a very good nail place, hairdresser, tailor, dog groomer, fix-it phone guy, coffee shop and convenience store within short walking distance. You know, the other necessities of life!

outer surroundings
our daily River Walk – only a few short blocks away

The trailer itself is 350 sq. ft. of uncluttered liveable indoor space perfect for two (and a guest on occasion – there’s a pull-out sofabed) and another 400 sq. ft. of outdoor living space which is what I love the most. There are people who live here year round and others (travelers/snowbirds) who keep an RV here full time (because they like their assigned spot and want to secure the space) but only come a few months a year and the others rent space when available for days/weeks/months at a time. Park fees include garbage pick-up, electricity, cable, internet but not gas so we pay for propane. Otherwise, it is fully serviced.

another little outdoor lounge area

This one is going to be kept here year round, whether we come for one month or six.  It’s pretty simple living at it’s best. I have a bike to get around and the river walk a few blocks away to run & walk the dogs.  But I must say that if the weather wasn’t cooperative I’m not sure I could do this full-time.  Let’s just say that sunshine is a requirement for happiness!  All that Vitamin D is healthy for a person!

As it turns out I’ve discovered more about myself.  I like the simplicity of living light and having less stuff.  So maybe as the saying goes “less is more” hence the tiny houses movement right now. This is living large by comparison. Call it country chic, shabby chic or whatever…I find it to be  an excellent alternative to buying an expensive condo in the sun. It’s hassle free and in the worst case scenario if something happens I can…walk away.

It’s a bonus when the dogs match the outdoor carpet

Photos: d. king

nutritious morning meals made easy

These no-brainer but well planned ideas came about while glamping.

Vintage Trailer Show - Modernism Week
Have Wheels, Will Travel! Vintage Trailer Show – Modernism Week

Since becoming a glamping expert I try to make healthy balanced breakfasts incorporating a variety of food groups for a wholesome start to the day that doesn’t require a lot of time or effort.  They’re equally good for non-glamping types too.

Avocado Toast with Feta
Avocado Toast with Feta

A few ideas:

Avocado toast is nothing new but try adding feta cheese over avocado to a piece of whole grain or sourdough toast drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar.  It’s delicious!glamping9

Just a bowl of organic cereal with berries, unsweetened coconut flakes & almond milk (califiafarms toasted coconut is my favourite) is not just a bowl of cereal.

Huevos Rancheros
Huevos Rancheros

Steel-cut Oatmeal made with unsweetened coconut or almond milk, half a smashed banana, raisins, topped with fresh berries & drizzled with a little pure maple syrup, honey or in this case specialty balsamic vinegars (honey ginger and/or coconut for something different).  Each time it varies but tastes equally good and good for you.

Frittata: put a little butter in a skillet, sauté some veggies in it, crack some eggs over top, cook away until done.

Frittata with leftover mashed potatoes (a surprise idea) instead of homefries.
Frittata in individual cast iron pan with leftover mashed potatoes (a surprise idea) instead of homefries.

Huevos Rancheros are fun to make because you get to put them overtop a warm tortilla.  I prefer the smaller ones and versions like 100% whole wheat.  Eggs over-easy, a little refried beans, salsa & cilantro and you’re pretty much done – gringa style.

Oatmeal topped with berries & two new balsamic toppings
Oatmeal topped with berries & two new flavorful balsamic toppings

glamping2

glamping3

Lunchtime Lentil Soup using free-range organic chicken broth, italian chopped tomatoes & olive oil.
Lunchtime 12-bean Lentil Soup using free-range organic chicken broth, italian chopped tomatoes & olive oil.
Jack enjoying the firepit (again).
Jack enjoying the firepit again.
The View
The View at Sunrise

 Glamping:  think cocktail tumbler instead of canteen, mood light instead of fashlight, sleeping oasis instead of sleeping bag.  Basically all the comforts of home…but with wheels so you can take it with you.

Photos (except for trailers) d. king.

 

 

Travel: On the Road Again – Part Two

Remember the post where I declared my love for the Vintage Airstream Trailer? vintage-airstream That was 10 days ago although it seems like months now. airstream_-_matt_4_500 - Copy

I found out that many travel companies are getting on board the vintage trailer bandwagon: In November, rental company Airstream 2 Go partnered with Texas boot-maker Lucchese (love them too – bought a pair in Nashville) on a custom itinerary through the Lone Star State, which includes a trip to the factory and a pair of custom boots.

mathewairstream - CopyAirstream says it’s selling five times as many trailers as it did in 2009, spent $6 million on a new office space, and recently hired 130 new employees. Sounds like the making of a major comeback story.

CHECK THIS OUT:

If you’re not the road trip type but want to experience the Airstream lifestyle for a night or two, here are five firmly planted and beautifully decorated hotels for your next vacation.

El Cosmico, Marfa, Texas

 El Cosmico Photo: Courtesy of El Cosmico
El Cosmico
Photo: Courtesy of El Cosmico

There is probably no place more appropriate to situate a trailer than Marfa, the art-centric, holistic desert oasis of the Southwest. El Cosmico offers tepees, yurts, and, most important, several models of trailers that are sparsely decorated but seriously cozy. There’s a minibar in each but, intentionally, no Wi-Fi.

AutoCamp, Santa Barbara, California

 Autocamp Photo: Courtesy of Autocamp
Autocamp
Photo: Courtesy of Autocamp

This tiny Airstream-based hotel is made up of five vintage trailers, some of which come equipped with flat-screen TVs, large bathtubs, and Malin + Goetz products. Each trailer also comes with two beach cruiser bikes for getting around the camp.

Hotel Daniel, Vienna, Austria

 Hotel Daniel Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Daniel
Hotel Daniel
Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Daniel

Nestled in the garden just outside the boutique hotel, one silver Airstream trailer is available as a room option for guests. The 172-square-foot space was created by interior designers specializing in yachts and has a sleek, minimal feel. It nods to the experience of being out on the open road, but is in the middle of a busy urban center.

Italy Airstream, Venice, Italy

Italy Airstream Park Photo: Courtesy of Italy Airstream Park
Italy Airstream Park
Photo: Courtesy of Italy Airstream Park

The website touts this as “the first Airstream park in Italy,” and it’s certainly the first of its kind on the Adriatic Coast. Recently opened in April, the six Airstreams each sleep up to four people, with a shaded canopy bed outside. It’s 30 minutes to Venice by car, or you can take a longer two-hour ride to reach the Dolomites. There’s also a beach just outside the park.

Caravan Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

Caravan Tokyo Photo: Courtesy of Caravan Tokyo
Caravan Tokyo
Photo: Courtesy of Caravan Tokyo

For those looking to skip the Ritz or the Park Hyatt for something a little more low-key, Caravan is the place to stay in Tokyo. It’s a single trailer that sleeps two, parked near the bustling Harajuku neighborhood in a mixed-use office complex. It’s a fantastic example of innovative, smart Japanese design, with a gray exterior, modern pendant lamps and paper stools inside, and a wooden outer deck and lounge area.

I know this is not the same thing but….

It's what I have for now
It’s what I have for now and it’s more easily transportable.  I’ve made many meals in this rig including once in Texas a fully-cooked Christmas dinner.  It’s true! Coffee anyone?

Source: Vogue Magazine Article (by Brooke Bobb) 5 Airstream Rentals That Trump Traditional Hotel Rooms

Modern Furnishings
Sleek, Modern, Comfortable Style

 

Travel: On the Road  – The Glamping Life in Style

There is a certain style to GLAMPING and it means No Tent Required.

Photo: Mikael Jansson, Vogue
Photo: Mikael Jansson, Vogue    (OF COURSE, YOU MUST DRESS THE PART)

Nothing wrong with those adventurous, real outdoorsy, down to earth types who lug around a backpack and set up their tent and make a fire to cook their food.  It’s just not for me at this stage (and it never was).  But I love the outdoors, breathing in fresh air and sleeping partially outside.

I forgot my gown for this trip but at least I brought my heels - taken 3 years ago.
I forgot my gown for this trip but at least I brought my heels!

The next step up from tent camping is owning a VW Eurovan Camper that comes equipped with a fridge, a 2 burner stovetop, a furnace, 2 fold down beds (you can call it a two-bedroom but it’s a bit of a stretch), storage space, surround sound for music and a pop top so you can actually stand up and move around a bit.  And a shower…out the back (you have to open up the back so it’s better in warm temperatures and it’s not always the best idea to use it completely naked). Just ask me how I know this!

The best thing about a smaller camper is that you get to park it almost anywhere rather than having to stay in an RV park.  Almost…because many places don’t let you camp overnight just anywhere but there are countless beautiful state parks which means you can drive into a spot either right on, or much closer to lakes, rivers and the ocean.  It feels like camping…just much more comfortable.  That, and wearing my cashmere pajamas. Having a dog or two wagging along is a big bonus.  In fact, I wouldn’t want to do it without them.

The added advantage of a smaller camper is we’ve ended up in places and spaces that could not accommodate a large RV, like the middle of the Redwoods, Ca, the Badlands in S. Dakota and on top of Dead Horse Canyon, Utah (where Thelma & Louise drove off that same cliff, we decided to take the slow road down).  It’s an adventure in itself.

glamping with Debbie & a flask helps!
glamping with Debbie… a flask comes in handy!

Having a luxury RV like a Country Coach or Prevost is a way of life for many people and I can relate to the charm of life on the road and stopping here and there for a length of time.  But you should see some of these RV’s…I’m talking luxury homes away from homes.  Million dollar+ homes on wheels that are nicer than many people’s condos.  I have a few friends who live like that.  They have a home base but drive their luxe coaches from place to place and set up anywhere from a few weeks to several months. The true beauty of travelling this way is that you get to see so much more than if you were to hop on a flight to go straight from A to B.  You must also have the luxury of time.

Owning a vehicle/home like a large RV means that you must reside in RV parks that are setup for that size of home away from home.  There are only a few RV parks that I’ve encountered (one is “Outdoor Resorts” in Las Vegas where our friends stayed – it was beautiful with a  huge outdoor living space complete with tiki hut, living area and kitchen) that I can imagine myself staying in, except no VW’s allowed.  Anyway, it’s whatever works for you.  These people end up paying each night to park, more than some hotels charge.

So even though I love the roominess  of some RV’s I’ve come across, what I really want is…. drumroll…..an AIRSTREAM. Only people who really know me will understand this. Yes, since the first time I saw one I’ve wanted one.  There’s just something about the Airstream. It has a caché of its own.

Owning one for camping purposes is the equivalent to owning a Vespa for scooting purposes.

Allright allright allright… it’s the stylishness I confess.  I’ve been eyeing them for a while now.  One guy even caught me taking pictures of a vintage model in Palm Springs a perfect place for one wouldn’t you say?.. and there I was snapping away and it turned out to be his Vintage Airstream.  Then we had a whole conversation on them becoming more mainstream now (aw, I hate when that happens), more pricey and more exclusive and definitely a collectible.  He owns two but has homes elsewhere….blah, blah, blah…(airstream talk). His name was Matthew.

If you don’t believe me just refer to the paragraph below from a recent article in Vogue Magazine.  I mean….it’s Vogue, so let’s talk about style. 

The first Airstream was built in 1929, and almost 90 years later, the iconic aluminum trailer still has quite a following: Matthew McConaughey and Lenny Kravitz are proud owners, and many restaurants, shops, and hotels have invested in Airstreams as new forms of food trucks, showrooms, or guest room options. And let’s not forget the Airstream’s supporting role in Karlie Kloss and Taylor Swift’s BFF road trip for Vogue back in February.

See? I told you so!

I bought this one in the meantime but it's a bit tight
Mini “V” and  Airstream in Los Olivos, Ca. Adorable, and let’s just say – more affordable!
me driving away in my red pickup truck
driving away in my red pickup truck

Stay tuned for Part Two

A SUMMER SUMMERY

Today is August 31st – the last day of summer!

?

Okay, the last official day of summer is really September 21st but for me today marks the end, for after today it doesn’t feel the same as we start to move slowly towards Fall.  While I love Fall for the clothes mostly I still want to hang on to summer and milk it for all it’s worth.  This summer was fantastic weather wise except for the forest fires, so the best thing to look forward to now is Fall boots and sweaters see, it’s all about the clothes and maybe Halloween.  It’s funny though how everything can change in an instant and we still tend to adapt.  Well I’m moving a bit slower this time.  My flip flops are not moving to the back of the closet just yet……….  I love the warmth and lightness of summer and think what you wilI but I just bought the Beach Boys greatest hits to listen to while glamping.  So???

In this
In this pop top Eurovan camper
Parked right at the lake
Parked right at the lake where Jia Jia is walking back from in this photo

So here, for your viewing pleasure, is a pleasureable last days of summer re-cap:

Lake Kalamalka, Penticton. Jia Jia realizing he could swim.
Lake Kalamalka, Okanagan, B.C.  Jia Jia realizing he can swim.  And me too for that matter.  Just kidding, but it was coooold!
I was preparing at Kits Pool
I started preparing at Kits Pool
With good friends like family
With good friends who are like family
A friend flew in for the party
Some hot shots flew in for the get together/party/= lots of food & wine/= meeting some nice new people too and catching up with old friends like no time has passed (= good friends).
My friends place
Staying at a friends place in the Kootenays – a resort style home with an amazing view.

20150822_15105620150822_15083620150822_17303420150822_150651

Friends we met on our first stop
Friends we met at the first campsite
Freshly picked Okanagan Peaches
Freshly picked Okanagan Peaches

Jia Jia’s favourite moments:

Waiting for his ice cream cone
Waiting for his ice cream cone
His new friend Hugo
Jia Jia’s new friend Hugo, a Silver Lab.
Hugo found a ball
Hugo found a ball
Hugo found a stick
Hugo found a stick
Jia Jia found a deer
Jia Jia found a deer at another friend’s property = lotta landscape
And crossed a few bridges
And crossed over a few bridges
Japanese Garden
Japanese Garden
I found a salt water pool I can live in - or at least float in.
I found a salt water pool I can live in – or at least float in.  But why is the cup holder empty?

The cup must always be full!

And how was your summer?

Photos: d. king (except for the obvious)

 

One Pan Pasta – for the lazy gourmet

Here’s something you might not have thought of before but not only does it work – it works surprisingly WELL.  One-Pan Pasta!  (not to be confused with first cooking the spaghetti & tossing it in a pan of already made sauce a la Sopranos.  Are you kidding?  No need to over work yourself.

At the Start
At the Start

There’s a tiny restaurant in the Puglia region of Italy where the chef places dried pasta in a skillet with water, tomatoes, onion, garlic, herbs and a glug of extra virgin olive oil.

Then he cooks everything together and it has become their house dish ever since.

I had to try it out myself because it seemed way too simple and I wasn’t sure how everything would turn out.  So…

After laying out enough linguine for two people in a skillet, I added about 1 ½ cups of water – enough to just cover the pasta since there was no actual recipe.  I added the above ingredients but instead of putting in fresh tomatoes I just used a can of peeled plum tomatoes with the juice.  Also a bit of tomato paste as I thought there was a bit too much water at first, a sprinkling of hot pepper flakes & a squeeze of lemon.

Almost Ready
Almost Ready

Once the water had boiled away we were left with perfectly al dente pasta in a creamy sauce that coated every strand & tasted like something you would find in a restaurant in the tiny village of Puglia.

This is the perfect glamping dish, or for times when you don’t have too much time or just for those that love pasta (like me) and are always looking for new ways to cook it.

Tell me if you’ve tried this before.