Tour Cities Updated

We have updated our route for the beginning leg of our Tour. We will be adding events/locations within the cities as we go. It’s almost time to hit the road! Weeeee!

Veggie Volkswagen!

VW Veggie Passat

We have a new addition to the Live Lightly family…a 1997 VW Passat that runs on veggie oil of course! It’s only natural that we would want to get rid of our gas car and go 100% veggie. After we converted the RV, it was physically painful to put gas in the car! Ouch! We heard about the VW and knew it was the one for us. It gets 44 mpg on either veggie or diesel….a beautiful thing. :)

We bought the car in Springfield, MO, from the sister of Charlie (of Golden Fuel Systems). We needed to go to Golden Fuel anyway to show them the remodeled RV and buy some oil filters, so it worked perfectly! We had a few things tweaked on our RV veggie system while we were there and we had a wonderful time seeing old friends and meeting new ones! They are a fun bunch of people.

When we arrived at GFS, there was a cargo van on the lift being converted. When we went inside, we met the van’s owner…the beautiful and adventurous Carolyn. Carolyn just graduated from college in Florida and purchased the van to travel in. The van is a former S.W.A.T. team vehicle…with a bullet hole in the side to prove it! It’s totally reinforced on the inside…and is quite a cozy home. She is on her way to Burning Man, and then has plans to travel the West coast until October. We had a great time getting to know her…we went out for coffee and lunch…and had breakfast in our RV together. We traded stories from the road, and made sure to get each other’s contact info so we could stay in touch. It looks like our paths may cross again in Arizona…it would be fun to see her again!

We were also able to catch up with my friend, Anna, and her family. We hit our favorite spots together:

The Mudhouse
…a wonderful coffee shop downtown where you can see dreadlocked college kids, pink-haired beauties, and stoic businessmen all in one place. Great people watching…but the coffee is even better! Don’t miss the Frozen MudTurtle. Yum. They also have a huge selection of teas and yummy sandwiches. Vegetarian friendly too!

The Tea Bar and Bites

This little restaurant just glows with charm. Delicious food and great service. Each room is unique, with touches of whimsy. It also has a delightful covered outdoor patio with fountains and flowers. I could stay all day.

The Jordan Valley Park Fountain
…perfect on a hot Missouri afternoon! This amazing fountain was designed by the same people that created the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas. When the water “pops” up…it makes rhythms similar to a drum’s like music! I actually thought that there was a drum line practicing at a nearby baseball park.

To see photos of Carolyn, flash floods, Amish buggies and more, click HERE.

Pre-Tour Stop: Springfield, MO

We will be in Springfield, MO on Monday and part of Tuesday…if you are in that area and would like to come tour the RV and see the veggie system, let us know! If there is enough response, we’ll meet on Monday evening at a park in town.  Email us directly by clicking here.

Planning the Tour

This week we sent out a “Tour Information Form” to everyone who was in our database (this included anyone who had sent us an email this summer asking to be included). If you are interested in having us stop in your city and did not receive an email, please let me know ASAP (click here to email). We’re trying hard to gather information and finalize the first part of the tour. We’ll be setting dates/cities and then adjusting as we need to while we travel. Due to the nature of traveling full time AND in an RV, there may need to be last minute changes to the schedule.

We’re looking forward to meeting all of you!

Iowa State Fair

The Big Swings at The Fair

It’s huge. It’s hot. It’s crowded. It’s fun. It’s the Iowa State Fair. Over 1,000,000 people attended the fair last year during it’s 11-day span and it was recently named by author Patricia Schultz as one of the “1000 Places to See Before You Die”. Clearly, if you’re in town, you don’t want to miss the excitement.

This year, our family went to the fair on opening day, and it actually was quite enjoyable. It wasn’t nearly as busy as when we went last year…we could actually walk on the sidewalk without touching someone at all times. We strolled around and saw the sights…and we ate more food than any normal person should eat. If I was there by myself, I think I would have enjoyed checking out more things…but with a 3 year old who hasn’t taken a nap, our time was limited :)

I always torture myself thinking about all of the trash produced by the fair and how much advertising and consumption happens there. This year, I tried to focus all of my energy on the ONE THING at the fair that I get super excited about. I wait all year for it…


Oh yes. I love them. A veggie hot dog fried in deliciously unhealthy batter and grease. What could be better? Maybe TWO veggie corndogs :) I had to laugh when the Des Moines Register called the Veggie Corn Dog a “healthier” option at the fair. Healthier than the 1,100 calorie turkey leg, yes. But c’mon :)

You can find anything on a stick at the Fair. Pickles on a Stick, Eggs on a stick, Cheese on a Stick, Meat on a stick, Caramel Apples on a stick. And the winner for weirdest food at the fair: Deep Fried Twinkies, Deep Fried Candy Bars, and Deep Fried Oreos. With all that deep frying going on (there are over 200 food stands!) , we could get fuel for the entire year! :) Matt actually did talk to the veggie corn dog stand about getting their grease. They said we could have it if we wanted…although it would be a little hard to get our RV in there to get it! :)

Other fun things at the fair:

  • The Sky Ride
  • The music
  • The fountains
  • Did I mention the veggie corn dog?
  • The people haulers/tractor running on biodiesel.
  • The new wind turbine (provides enough energy for nearly the entire 11-day fair)
  • The butter cow, as usual. Yes, an life-size cow made out of butter.
  • People watching…there are some interesting folks in Iowa.

For more photos of these crazy things and more, click here.

Farmer’s Market Fun


One of my favorite things in Des Moines is the Downtown Farmer’s Market. It’s a family tradition to go every week…so I definitely missed it when we moved! We met our friends, John Henry and Denise there…along with their kids, Isaiah and Annora. We actually met them 3 years ago AT the Farmer’s Market, so it was the perfect place to reunite. We had fun hitting our normal stops and some new ones as well. One of our favorites is Blue Gate Farm. Jill and Sean are fabulous people and we got to know them a little better last year when we purchased a CSA share from their farm. They are so genuine and kind…and it’s really encouraging to see people so committed to sustainability. We devoured their delicious organic veggies every week of the summer.

This week, we were heading there to buy a jar of their amazing herb syrup. It’s the best stuff I’ve ever tasted. It’s the base to their lemonade…and it’s spiked with rosemary and other herbs from their farm. It can also be used to sweeten tea or fruit. As Jill and I greeted each other, she handed me a jar of the syrup and said it was on the house…Blue Gate Farms little addition to the Live Lightly Tour. You can imagine my excitement :) John Henry captured a photo of me accepting this wonderful gift (see photo above). I still haven’t made it yet…I’m saving it for a special occasion!

For photos of last week and also all of the photos I’ve taken of the Farmer’s Market, click here.

Food on the Road


We have had MANY people ask about our eating habits now that we are in the RV full-time. And because I LOVE food more than the average person…I thought I would go into detail about it :)

Going Smaller
The fridge is small. It’s 6 cu. sq. ft. as opposed to our apt. fridge which was 18. However, I really enjoy it. It forces me to only buy what we need, and because we’re buying less at one time, not as many things go bad before we can eat them. I am able to fit a lot of things in there. The freezer is just enough for some frozen fruit, ice cream, and chocolate…but not big enough for a large frozen pizza.

My pantry is actually larger than I’ve had before. I love it. I have it organized and labeled so we can find things easily. We have sufficient cupboard space for plates, cups, etc. and also for the pots, pans, food processor, blender, toaster, etc. I was amazed at how much we could fit in there. We downsized our kitchen gadgets considerably, but when you only keep what you use everyday, it’s quite easy.

I love that everything is within reaching distance. I would go crazy in a large kitchen where I actually had to walk several steps to put something in the sink! It makes cleanup easier as well.

What Do You Eat?
Our meals have not changed a great deal. I still have a fully functional kitchen. I’m not cooking over a campfire every night :) Bella and I are vegetarians and Matt is a meat-eater. I try to keep some sliced turkey on hand for his sandwiches…but other than that, he eats vegetarian at home. We make a lot of sandwiches because they are quick and easy. Some favorites are hummus and avocado, almond butter and jelly, and grilled cheese. Salads are always nice and refreshing. I love making big, meal-sized salads with all the fixins so it fills you up. Soba noodles are also a common meal…either with red sauce or my favorite cilantro lime sauce (see photo above). When we want something fast and cheap…eggs are great! As is scrambled tofu and toast. We do occasionally have some boxed meals…organic mac and cheese or cous cous with fresh veggies…but I try to stick to whole foods whenever possible. When it cools off a bit, I will start making soups again. I love making curries, bean soups, potato soups, etc and pairing it with some crusty bread and good salad. Yum! The crock pot is my friend.

Here are some of the staples that I have on hand right now:

  • Whole wheat bread
  • Cheese
  • Earth Balance
  • Homemade Hummus (see recipe below)
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes (heirloom…from the Farmer’s Market, yum!)
  • Vanilla Soy Coffee Creamer
  • Almond Milk
  • Almond Butter
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Blue Corn Chips
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Black Beans
  • Garbanzo Beans
  • Watermelon
  • Popcorn (we pop it on the stove)
  • Other condiments, raw baking supplies, canned goods, etc.

We eat hummus nearly everyday…for sandwiches, dip, you name it. Here is the BEST hummus recipe I’ve ever found:

Creamy Hummus
Vive Le Vegan by Dreena Burton

2 cups cooked chickpeas (canned is ok, soaking your own is best)
3.5 – 5 T freshly squeezed lemon juice (adjust to taste)
2-3 T tahini (optional)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 small to medium garlic clove
1/2 t toasted sesame oil (important…so tasty!)
1/2 t sea salt
3-4 T water (or less/more as desired)
Freshly ground pepper to taste

In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients and puree until smooth, adding a little water at first, then more if desired to thin it. Scrape down sides of bowl several times throughout and puree again until very smooth. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, and/or lemon juice. Serve in a large bowl, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.

More Things I LOVE
The gas stove. I really, really love gas stoves. They cook things so much better and the heat is instant on and off.
My cast iron cookware. It’s really old and it works great. Perfect for on the stove, in the oven, or over a campfire.
Our table. Booth seating works great for a toddler. Comfy too.
Cooking/preparing meals while driving. So convenient!

New Challenges
Getting coffee grounds out of the french press is a little harder than usual. We don’t have a sprayer and obviously don’t have a food disposal. I have just been going outside and using the outdoor sprayer to clean it out. In the apt, I would just clean it out in the sink, and the drain screen would catch it. In the RV, my drain screen is smaller, so it fills up and then the grounds just float around the sink in the water. If anyone has a great solution, let me know!

Another challenge…it’s hard to change the mentality of wanting to dine out whenever you’re traveling. We do have it in the budget to go out once in awhile, but I think it might have to be increased as we pass through all of these amazing cities with amazing food! :) As I said above, being able to have your entire kitchen wherever you go is so convenient and can save so much money…but experiencing local culture and food is fun too!

If you want to read more about my food obsessions…check out my food blog here. I haven’t updated it for awhile, as I haven’t been trying many new dishes lately, but there are some great recipes on there! I have a separate Flickr set for food now as well. Check it out here.

I really enjoy preparing food in the RV. I love a challenge…I don’t ever want to say “Oh, I could never….”. That holds you back from so many new things that you might love if you tried them (like having a 6 cubic sq. ft fridge!).

If you have any great “on the road” or campfire recipes, let me know!

The Lakes of Minnesota


When Matt drove across the border into Minnesota on July 22 around 6:00 a.m., I was sound asleep with Bella on the bed in the back of the RV. It had been a long road getting there! We left Bozeman at 6:00 a.m. the previous morning, and had traveled off and on throughout the day. We stopped in Miles City to look for grease, but the rendering services must have just cleaned everyone out. There was none to be found! So we headed East and stopped in the little town of Terry, MT. After scoping out the town of about 500 people, we stopped at the Dizzy Diner. As Matt approached the grease barrels to check them out, the owner came out to chat. It turns out that they are only open seasonally, and they had two 55 gallon drums sitting there FULL of oil. One of them had been sitting for an entire year! This is really good for us, because it means that the sediment and gunk had already settled to the bottom, leaving beautiful, clean grease on top. They were happy to get rid of it and we were happy to fill up our entire tank! We had a great time chatting about green living and about the veggie oil system. We bought some root beer floats and chatted some more. The owners’ granddaughter came into the RV to watch a movie with Bella while Matt filled up. It was a fun stop.

The temperatures were over 100 degrees all the way through Montana and we ended up stopping in Glendive, MT to give the RV a much needed cool down. Because the RV was overheating, we couldn’t run the air, which meant we were sweltering! Luckily, we located the public pool in town and promptly changed into our suits. We had a leisurely afternoon at the pool and had a picnic after that. We hit the road again after it had cooled down a bit. We pulled into Bismarck, N.D. around 1:30 a.m…and parked at the Wal-Mart overnight. Matt got up at 4:00 a.m. to hit the road again. And like I said…I stayed in bed!

We spent the next 2 weeks in the Baxter/Brainerd Lakes area. Matt lead worship and helped teach campers how to wakeboard at the three wakeboard camps at Camp Shamineau. It was wonderful to be reunited with old friends! Matt worked at Shamineau for 5 years on their high-ropes course and has fond memories there. Jeremy, the Marketing Director, and his wife are good friends of ours. We had a great time hanging out at the beach and on the boats. Be sure to check out the photo albums for some amazing wakeboard shots! There were some really talented riders there teaching…including Bart Copeland, pro trainer (and brother) of Emily Copeland (she has won tons of awards, including the title of Pro Women’s Wakeboard Champion). We met Bart and his wife Brooke when we worked for SportReach Ministries. They have a 4 year old and a 2 year old…and along with Jeremy and Melissa’s 2 year old and 1 year old, there was an abundance of fun. There was even more excitement when one of the campers broke his femur while wakeboarding…and had to be picked up by the Life Flight helicopter. It landed and took off within feet of our campsite…Bella is still talking about that!

While we were at camp, my brother, Dan, came up from Denver, CO (he had some business meetings in Minneapolis) and spent a few days with us (that’s his car in the above photo). He was our first overnight guest in the RV! We hooked him up with a comfy bed and some s’mores and he was happy. He turned our table into his mobile office and was good to go. It was great to see him…the RV was so quiet and lonely when he left! :)

When we weren’t at camp, we were in town spending time with Matt’s parents. They also live on a lake, so we had lots of water and sun time! Matt’s aunt and uncle were there with their 4 children (3 girls and 1 boy) for one of the weekends. They are all around Bella’s age, so endless hours were spent in the playhouse and with the dolls. We also had a seafood boil party with all of our camp friends and another couple, Andy and Jen, that Matt knows from high school. There was an abundance of food…an abundance of children, and noise…and an abundance of good fellowship. It was great catching up!

It was hard for Bella to leave Grandpa and Grandma’s house…she LOVES being there! After Brainerd, we headed down to Minneapolis and stayed with Matt’s aunt and uncle for a couple of days. We were able to see even more of Matt’s cousins the night we arrived and had fun chatting around their pool. It was really nice having poolside accommodations! :) Thanks Dan and Brenda! We also caught up with my sister Laura while we were there and went out for some Thai food and coffee. Yum yum! On our last night there, we had our first official tour of the RV with a blog reader! Leah and her son, Rex came over from St. Paul and we had a great time talking and sitting outside.

We headed for Des Moines on August 8, and have reunited with my family once more. We’ll be staying in Des Moines and working for my Dad to make some extra money before heading out on the “official” tour around Sept. 17.

For photos and explanations of our time in Minnesota, click HERE.

Living Deliberately

One of the best things about living in a small space and living on the road is that it helps us to live deliberately. We can no longer float through the day without thinking…everything we do requires us to act with the future in mind.

Water Consumption
There are no long, luxurious showers here. We have a 6 gallon hot water heater, so showers are now “in and out”. There is a quick shut-off valve on the shower head, so you can pause the water to shave, lather, etc. Very handy. When it comes to baths…we fill it up just enough for Bella to get clean and have some fun. After she is done, I will often use her same bathwater and rinse off. Even with these “limitations”…showers and baths in the RV are a wonderful treat. I’m kind of a shower snob…I love good water pressure and HOT showers, and the RV has both. There is also a sunlight in the top, so it’s nice and cheery. Even Matt, who is 6’5″ can kind of shower in it. :) He’s a good sport.

When you know exactly how much water you have in your tank (40 gallons full), it’s much easier to conserve it. It’s not like living in a house where leaving the water running while you’re brushing your teeth has no immediate consequence. I’m always amazed when I go to the bathroom in a “normal” toilet. Sometimes after I flush, I just stare at it as it fills up with all of that water…mind boggling. :) When you flush the RV toilet, it’s just “swoosh!” and it’s gone. So little water. I like it.

We are more aware of what we are putting in the dirty laundry…especially if we’re going to be washing it in the WonderClean. We wear clothing over and over until it truly needs to be washed, as opposed to just taking it off at the end of the day and washing it regardless (3- year- old girls LOVE to change clothes 5 times a day, so this is sometimes a challenge! As I am writing this, she just brought out 3 dresses to get ready for her “party”). We’ve only been producing one load a week…which is WAY less than when we had laundry facilities whenever we wanted them.

I’ve had many people ask me to talk about what we have in our wardrobe now that we have limited space. It’s funny how your perspective changes over time. It seems like we still have A LOT of clothes, but when I compare it to what we used to have when living in our house or even compare it to someone else’s closet…it’s pretty minimal. Matt and I share a small closet and Bella has her own. I keep more than just the bare minimums…especially in the summer when you’re sweating all day, more changes of clothes are nice. We do have some of our winter coats/clothes stored under our bed. Clothes don’t have to take up a lot of space…especially if you store them correctly. We hang everything…and I hang 2-3 skirts on one hanger and 2 pairs of pants on one hanger…a big space saver. We have our shoes in a hanging shoe organizer. Shoes are space killers. So we don’t have many. The key is to pick shoes that are versatile and comfy so you can wear them on any occasion. We LOVE our Chacos!

When you don’t have a regular “payday”…you MUST live deliberately! We don’t have a nest egg stashed away for this trip…we are working (see 2nd question of FAQ) and saving as we go. Our goal is to have 2 months of living expenses in our account at all times, but even that is sometimes hard. An important concept that I’ve learned is the power of DELAY. When there is something that I want…even something as small as a fancy coffee…I ask myself if that is REALLY what I want to spend our money on…and do I have to splurge on that treat right NOW? The answer is usually no. Especially when it comes to coffee…I would much rather wait until it’s a really special occasion (out with friends, on a date, etc) so that I can enjoy it thoroughly and not have it become an everyday thing. We went through a big Dave Ramsey kick and learned how to budget and live with cash…it definitely taught us how to spend deliberately.

Energy Use
After moving into the RV, I learned very quickly how much I love electricity :) I would often forget that we weren’t plugged in and then be baffled as to why my computer wasn’t charging. It’s so easy to take it for granted when have a seemingly endless supply of it in a house/apt. It’s much easier to keep track of exactly what you are using and when. We use it for our computers, the stereo/DVD player, electric tea kettle, and the air conditioner (when the heat index is 105 degrees as it is now…we sure LOVE the AC!). Most of the lights run off of solar/battery…I do have a few lamps that are electric. The small fridge runs on electric or gas, and was brand new when we bought it (so it’s efficient). We haven’t had to boondock (no hookups) very much yet…but I suspect we will as soon as soon as we start the tour. We are looking into getting an inverter and more batteries for our current solar power setup. We do have a generator, but it runs on gas and it’s pretty loud, so we don’t like to use it. We would love to get a diesel generator someday…and then convert it to run on veggie oil.

Keeping House
It’s essential that we are deliberate about housekeeping in such a small space. When I am cooking, I need to continue putting things away as I go to make room for other things. I go through at least 2 times a day and “tidy” things up. I start in the front and work to the back…grabbing everything that is out of place and putting it back in it’s place. That’s key. Everything MUST have a place. It makes cleaning up so easy. If I find something that doesn’t have a place, I either make a place for it, or it goes out the door. I also make the bed every single day…because it’s in plain sight of the rest of the RV. If the bed is unmade, it makes everything look sloppy. When things look sloppy, I get crabby. Crabby mama in a small RV…not good. :)

Family Unity
Speaking of being crabby… when you’re in a small space, it’s so important that you like the people you’re living with and that they are not crabby! Every morning, we have the chance to deliberately CHOOSE what our attitude will be that day. I am blessed with a wonderful husband who is fun-loving, caring, kind, and always in a good mood. It certainly helps set the tone for the entire family! It would be easy to lose patience in such a small space…but we LOVE being together and we are used to being with each other 24/7. I feel so lucky to be able to spend so much time together.

Pre-Tour Stop: Minneapolis

We will be in Minneapolis today through Wednesday…if there is anyone in the Twin Cities who would like to tour the RV, let me know! Please email me with your name and phone number as soon as possible. Thanks!

Email Me

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