Monday, January 26, 2015

RV Women Make a Fist

Know When to Hold 'em
Quick Fist has been around for a while but it keeps getting better. Now you can get a kit with three sizes of grippers you can mount anywhere in the RV, from the galley to the basement, to hold round and other odd-size items. 

Mount Quick Fist with screws for a secure hold, then add items that you want to release in a hurry: tools, emergency items, kitchen gear, the  hair drier, glue gun, flashlights. The grip is secure; the release and re-grip are as quick as your own fist.

 Get the kit and you'll find a bazillion uses for an extra fist here and there . See it at

Friday, January 23, 2015

Keep an RV Reserve Fund

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RV Costs: A Reality Check
    Some RV owners coast for years before the roof caves in. Others recognize that things  wear out, rust, fade and break,  and they save for inevitable expenditures. As a rule of thumb, it’s wise to put aside 5-10 percent of the cost of the RV each year for replacements and upgrades.

    If you’re a clever shopper, do most of your own work, take preventive measures  and are lucky, this should be more than enough. If you must hire everything done, are accident prone and have bad luck,  it may not stretch far enough. 

    Let’s say you start with a $50,000 , fully equipped RV and put $500 to $1,000 in your RV Reserve Fund the first year. The first year you’ll probably raid the fund only to add small custom features such as extra towel racks, closet accessories, throw rugs, sheets, towels and so on.

    By Year Two you add another $500 to $1,000. You now have all the bugs out, furnishings in, and the fund grows. Still loyal to the plan, you add another $1500 in Year Three and the fund looks fat. However by Year Four  you’ll probably be tapping regularly into the fund for repairs or replacements.  

    The object is to stay ahead of the game so that Year Ten finds you able to make major upgrades or repairs, or a substantial down payment on a new RV. Where might the money go? Prices vary widely and depend on whether you can install things yourself, but here are some items you may want to add or upgrade in time.

    Air conditioners wear out, or you may just want a larger, quieter, or more energy efficient model. Plan to spend under $800 for a high-efficiency unit  that slips into the existing space and wiring. 

    Captain and co-pilot chairs start at about $250 plus about $60 for installation and go as high as $1,200 for a real leather,  six-way, power seat.  Ready-made slipcovers are a great investment.   

    Closed circuit TV with a black and white monitor costs about $500 when factory installed in a new RV. Buying one on the aftermarket could cost more or less. 

    Custom leveling systems cost $2,500 to $4,000 plus materials and installation depending on the type of controls and how many jacks are needed. Shop around to get quotes. 

    Light fixtures can be cheap or classy, DIY or professionally installed depending on where you need them. You’ll probably want more lights than those that came with the RV. For energy efficiency switch to new LED bulbs or, better still, complete new LED fixtures.

    * Trade your microwave for a combination microwave-convection oven for about $600. 

See Janet Groene’s weekly RV Recipe of the Week and Campground Potluck Recipe of the Week at CampAndRVCook.     

Blog copyright Janet Groene, all rights reserved. For permissions or to inquire about advertising on one or more Groene blogs email

Friday, January 16, 2015

Smart and Thrifty RV Cleaning Tips

In Camping Life, Cleaner is Better

by Janet Groene
    When your RV was new it came with cleaning instructions from the manufacturers of  everything from the microwave to the faux suede sofa.  BORING, you say? Yet it’s wise to read these instructions and refer to them from time to time. Using the wrong cleaning product could ruin a surface or destroy a protective coating. Worse still, you could void the warranty. 
    RV materials are often different from their household or automotive cousins. You need specific products for each type of upholstery, carpeting, the granite counter, dashboard,  wood cabinets,  fiberglass shower enclosure, chrome-plated bath fixtures,  non-porcelain toilet,  composite sink, and so on.  

    It’s important to know if your wood cabinets are finished in spar varnish or shellac, Know what type of composite is the galley counter,  whether the shower door is acrylic or glass, whether blinds are vinyl or aluminum, what kind of stain-proofer was originally applied to the carpeting and upholstery, and what cleaners are safe for solid brass kitchen faucets. 

    Job One is to get out the dirt without damaging the finish. Job Two is to leave behind as little residue as possible. At best it leaves a dull look. At worst it attracts new soil.  Using a spray-on cleaner for blinds, for example, is a bad idea unless you can remove the blinds and take them outside for a thorough rinse with a hose. Cleaners leave a residue that is a dust magnet.

    Job Three in some cases is to apply a protective coat (such as wax or ScotchGuard) to keep the freshly cleaned surface clean longer. The final coat may also contain a UV inhibitor against sun damage or a waterproofer, bug repellant or a stainproofer.  

    Shop in RV specialty stores for the best product for each job. Here are additional cleaning  tips:
    * Nylon net, available inexpensively by the yard in fabric shops, is a safe scrubber
indoors and out. It’s ideal for getting dried bugs off the RV’s snout. 

    * Know how to clean your camper's windows.  If they are plastic or coated, they could be damaged by glass cleaners. If glass they could get cloudy from plastics cleaners. Keep in mind that windows, hatches and the windshield in a camper may be different materials.
    * Have the right brushes and rags on hand. Automotive supply shops have a good
selection of brushes in all sizes and shapes to get into tight spaces. All-cotton and 100% linen fabrics ( old diapers, tee shirts, tea towels) make good cleaning rags. Wadded newspaper puts a lint-free shine on glass.
        * Buy high-efficiency vacuum cleaner bags and change them often. In fact, change all filters often. They’re in the air conditioner, clothes dryer,  heating system, air purifier and also may be in the microwave, refrigerator, stove hood, engine room ventilation system and bathroom exhaust vent. 

See Janet Groene’s newest RV and camping recipes at

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Highway Hints for Women on the RV Road

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 No, you aren't seeing things. This motorhome actually has a garage large enough for a small car.

Would you like to receive a brief email reminder when new posts go up here, usually each Friday? Email and put RV Woman in the subject line.

Caregiving on the Go
    Is your RV freedom compromised by caregiving duties at home? Whether you’re a full-timer, a weekend camper or are planning an extended RV vacation, you worry and feel guilty when leaving loves ones in the care of others while you’re away.

    Here are some suggestions from my friend Rick Lauber, whose book Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians makes an excellent guide for caregivers everywhere, not just in Canada.

Arranging Home Care. Evaluate both professional and private home care. While many more ““senior service”” companies are operating now, many cannot guarantee to provide the same staffer all the time, yet we all know it's a plus to have a regular visitor and a familiar face. Even when on the road you can call homecare companies, research them online, quiz them about their credentials and services. Make sure to ask about a ““Plan B”. That is, what backup is available to your loved one if a worker calls in sick?
     Another option is to hire privately, but you then become the employer,  responsible for issuing paychecks and benefits. Hiring a trusted professional frees you in two ways,  first from being there in person and also from some of the paper work.
Make phone calls from the road. Can you handle some of Mom or Dad’s personal needs by phone such as making and confirming medical visits, arranging for on-line bill paying and taking care of their thank-you’s or other social obligations?
Discuss issues ahead. Keep  in touch –– Before leaving, have an open conversation with family members who will be handling the work load at home. Know what they can and are willing to do. They need your support too.
If the parent is in a care center. Know the name of key contacts (medical, social,
financial) at the facility and their working schedules so you can speak to them personally and regularly. If you don’t have medical power of attorney or other legal access, get it now or the care center may not be allowed to give you information.

See Janet Groene’s shortcut recipes for camping at

Each week Janet develops a pantry recipe for requiring no fresh food. It’s ideal for emergencies, prepping and for times when you’re just too tired to cook from scratch.

Healthier snacks save money too when you make them yourself in big batches, then bag them in individual packages for portion control and freshness. See this week’s recipe at Create A Gorp.

Friday, January 2, 2015

RV Safety Prime Concern for Parents

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Safety Seats 
Save RV Lives 

 As of January 1, 2015, children riding in a vehicle in Florida are required to be in a safety seat until their 6th birthday.

 It’s a good reminder to review safety practices for all travel, all states. No matter where you are, and no matter if the rules for child restraints are different for RV’s than for cars,  it’s important to have only the best safety measures for those precious kids. 
    You and I know that kids like to ride in the overhead bunk, looking out the front window of a cab-over RV. You and I also know that kids are prone to motion sickness in a back seat. It’s also true that some kids are big for their age and a seat belt seems sufficient.  But let’s get serious about the law.
    “(This new law) is especially important because children should use a safety seat until they reach the height of 4’9”, ” says Michele Harris, director for traffic safety culture, AAA.  Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the U.S., but many of these deaths can be prevented by placing children in age- and size-appropriate safety seats. A recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey revealed that 75 percent of parents are unaware of the new law. Yet, of those surveyed, 91 percent favor requiring children to ride in a safety seat until their 6th birthday.

     AAA recommends that children who have outgrown their five-point harness car seat by weight or height use a booster seat until they are 4’9” (typically between the ages of 8-12). A booster seat simply “boosts” a child up and allows for proper placement of the lap and shoulder belt. Without a booster seat, safety belts improperly cross over a child’s soft stomach and neck, which can lead to serious injuries in a crash.  Booster seats can reduce injuries by 45 percent compared to using an adult safety belt alone.

See Janet Groene’s RV and camping recipes at Camp and RV Cook. It’s a weekly blog that is also available for Kindle readers by subscription from Amazon for only 99 cents per month. Click here for a free trial.

Friday, December 26, 2014

RV Women to the Rescue

blog copyright janet groene, all rights reserved. For permissions or to ask about advertising on
one or more Groene blogs, email

Women Helping Women on the RV Road

First Aid for the RV Life 

    Most of us buy a “canned” first aid kit at the drug store, assuming it has what we might
need when we need it. We  stow it in the RV and hope we’ll never have to open the lid.  That may be fine for home folks but women who travel far and wide in an RV that is also their home have to be ready for medical emergencies any time, anywhere.

    Over time, your health situation may be as changeable as your location, so a good first aid kit must reflect those changes. Here are just a few examples.  Has your doctor recently told you to start or stop taking aspirin?  Does your latest prescription make you more sensitive to sun? Should you now carry an allergy medication based on your increased sensitivity to bee stings?

    If you start taking a MAO inhibitor, do you have a cough medicine that is OK with it?
What about deer ticks in New Hampshire?  Biting flies in Alaska? Allergies to mountain or desert plants ?  What about special meds for the cat or dog that travels with you?  Running on the beach, you come down hard on a rusty nail. Do you know the date of your last tetanus shot? Do you have a temporary tooth repair kit? Spare eyeglasses? 

    Let’s put together a first aid kit for YOU. Start with a container such as a shoe box,  tackle box or one RV compartment that will keep first aid supplies together and handy. I don't use the medicine cabinet because it's in use every day. I keep first aid supplies separate and safe in a large Tupperware container that's lightweight and seals tight against humidity and water leaks.

Then get a little notebook or thumb drive to list medical and dental contacts, health  policy numbers, lists of all your medications including OTC drugs,  an immunization record and any other pertinent information such as life-threatening allergies or results of your last blood test. Keep it ready for emergency personnel or for visiting a walk-in clinic.  If you don’t travel alone, add things that might be needed for your crew such as glucose tablets for hypoglycemia or child-size meds for kids. 

    Lastly, re-do the kit at least once a year.  The start of the new year is the perfect time. Discard expired meds and wound care supplies. Add new items as needed. Replace items that were used.

    Be safe, be well and I’ll see you down the road.

See Janet Groene’s camp and RV recipes at