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Tycho the Cat

A fluffy black and white cat on a leash sitting on grass, behind a sign that says "no dogs please."

We get questions about our cat harness, and after trying several that either didn’t fit or were easily escaped, we really like the Kitty Holster (Amazon Affiliate link) from Crazy K Farm (direct company link with tons of cool products). They come in a wide range of sizes and colors, including designs with reflective safety stripes. It took a little while for Tycho to get used to wearing his harness, but now he gets excited when he sees his “jacket” come out, and knows its time for a walk.

Installing an RV Slide Awning

One of the biggest fears that all RV owners have is water making its way into areas of the unit where is shouldn’t be. We did a lot of research on things to watch for and this was top of the list. Being in Arizona, we didn’t have many opportunities to watch for leaks: until monsoon season starts, when the rain comes fast and hard. When the first rains hit, rain water was dripping from the middle of the living/dining room slide.

We set up the pots and pans to catch the water and started looking for the cause.

It became clear pretty quick that the roof of this slide was sloping in all the wrong ways. Because there was no center support, the slide roof sagged toward the inside and middle. This allowed the rain water to puddle up and eventually overwhelm the multiple layers of seal protection. As a temporary measure we used the leveling system to tilt the house to one side and back, this allowed the water to drain away from the seals but having the unit so unleveled was awkward to move around and not safe for the refrigerators. Containing the water making its way in and tipping the unit was a short term band aid, we needed something permanent. After that night, when the weather man predicted rain we would plan ahead and clean off the slide roof and roll in the leaky slide.

The top of an RV slide, covered with water.

A level checking tool on the roof of an RV slide. The level bubble indicates the slide is angled down and towards the body of the RV.

Between rainstorms we climbed upstairs and confirmed the problem. There was a large puddle in the middle of the slide roof. The standing water against the two main rubber wiper seals made its way under the seals and, once it was deep enough, it dripped over the inside edge. We weighed several plans that included building an internal support for the roof, adjusting the slide system to allow more tilt in the slide, and installing a slide topper awning. The slide awning rose to the top of the list as the least invasive to the interior and within our skill level to install. We found a 13.5 foot Lippert Solera awning unit we liked on Amazon, the price was reasonable and shipping was free!

Our Shopping List
Lippert RV Solera Awning
Dicor butyl tape
Dicor 501LSW self leveling sealant (we didn’t need this but had it on hand, just in case)
– silicone lubricant spray
– Ladder
– A second ladder, rented from the local Lowes
– Lots of sunblock!

Once everything arrived, we set up our ladders and dove in. The Solera awning package came with all of the hardware we would need to install the unit. It included several packages of screws, the awning assembly, hex support bars, mounting brackets, and the awning attachment bracket that connects the end of the awning to the side of the unit. It turned out we didn’t need the awning attachment bracket, the gutter on our trailer had an integrated channel for attaching awnings. The instructions called for us to retract the slide to a maximum of 6 inches out.… [ Click here to read the rest of this post. ] “Installing an RV Slide Awning”

Can I tow this?

When we decided to move into an RV, we spent a lot of time weighing the pros and cons of motorhomes vs. towables. We ultimately decided on a travel trailer (for reasons we’ll probably talk about in another post).

We spent so much time learning the differences between GVWR and GCVWR, that we decided to write it all down. We created a small towing capacity calculator, Can I Tow This? to help us decide what we should tow and how we should tow it.

We also used Trailer Life’s Tow Guides with comprehensive lists of towing capacities, since truck manufacturers aren’t especially consistent about publishing towing specifications.

Chili Powder

Pre-mixed chili powder is easy to find at just about every grocery store, but it’s also pretty easy to make yourself. Plus you can give it your own custom flare based on preferences and needs. Mine has only a mild heat and the actual proportion of cumin in each batch varies depending on my mood.

This will not quite fill an empty spice jar, but can easily be halved, doubled, or tripled and stored in a mason jar.

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp ground ancho chile
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander

Instructions

  • Mix in a small bowl or glass, and use a small funnel to pour into an empty spice jar.

Notes

  • If you like heat, replace any amount of ancho with chipotle or other ground chile.
  • The ancho chili tends to be a pretty mild pepper, but you can replace any amount of ancho with paprika for less heat.
  • If you can’t eat garlic, just leave it out.
  • If you can eat onions, add 1 tsp ground onion powder.
  • Cocoa powder is totally optional, but adds some nice depth.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

This soup is vegan, gluten-free, allergy-friendly, and especially nice on cold days. It’s a one-pot meal, and can be cooked in a slow-cooker, pressure cooker, or on a stove.

Makes 2-4 servings, and can easily be halved, doubled, or tripled.

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced in 1cm cubes
  • 4 cups cooked black beans (cooked from dry, or 2 cans)
  • 1 tbsp avocado, coconut, or other light oil for sauteeing (optional)
  • 1-2 tbsp chili powder OR the following: 1 tbsp ground ancho chile, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano, and 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes AND 2-4 cups water OR 2-4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp lime juice (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In your soup-making vessel, sautee sweet potatoes and spices in oil for a few minutes until fragrant.
  • Add bouillon-and-water or broth; potatoes should be covered or close to covered with liquid.
  • Cover pot and simmer until sweet potatoes are soft, 30-40 minutes on a stove top, 15 minutes in a pressure cooker, or 4-6 hours in a slower cooker.
  • Once soft, smoosh some of the potatoes with the back of a wooden spoon to thicken the soup. Add more water or broth if you like a thinner soup, or smoosh more potatoes if you like a thicker stew.
  • Add black beans and lime juice if using, stir and let rest for a few minutes to heat throughout.
  • If desired, add salt and pepper to taste, check out the extras below, and serve.

Extras

  • Serve with tortilla chips (we love these Siete grain-free tortilla chips)
  • Sprinkle with nutritional yeast
  • Top with vegan sour cream or vegan cheese
  • Add frozen bell peppers or roasted red peppers along with the black beans, or sautee a diced fresh bell pepper with the sweet potatoes
  • Add leftover cooked brown rice, quinoa, or sorghum with the black beans.

Notes

  • If you’re watching your salt intake, stick to no-salt canned beans (or make your own from dry), and low-sodium bouillon cubes. Use nutritional yeast instead of salt to season.
  • Adjust seasoning to your preferences and needs. Sautee an onion with the sweet potatoes if you can eat them, use chipotle instead of ancho if you like the heat, or swap out all the spices with a nice garam masala or berbere blend.
  • Makes great leftovers.