We’re almost there! It’s the weekend and we’re still in Port Orange, Florida, at Jeff’s mom’s house. Today I’m spending a few hours on client work, then Jeff and I are dry-packing (is that a term?) the van to see how much of what we think we can bring with us can actually come with us.

There’s two main ‘rooms’ (hahaha) in our van. Kitchen and bedroom.

First we have the kitchen — you can see a picture here of the basic setup. First we have a wood Ikea shelf that is set into the ‘well’ where our third row seating was stowed — it is around 3 1/2 feet tall by 20 inches deep. This is where we’re stashing our propane stove, seven gallon water tank, Rtic cooler, dishes/cookware/silverware and possibly our Goal Zero Yeti battery. Underneath the shelf, sitting in the well, we have a white tote from Ikea for not-often-used things and a space for a portable loo, although we haven’t purchased that yet.

Next to the wood shelf is a small wire rack that’s about 7″ wide and 20″ deep with three shelves which will serve as our ‘pantry’. One major change we’re making as we head out on the road is a switching to a more plant-based diet. In part for health reasons (plants are good for us!) but also because animal-based products are more difficult to keep fresh (think chicken and milk my friends!) We’ll stick with eggs — looking for farm options as much as possible as eggs straight from the chicken don’t have to be refrigerated. 

We made a list of all the basics we would like to have with us (quinoa, oatmeal, almonds, etc.) and have purchased or brought with us enough glass mason jars to store the basic staples. The jars caused a bit of a marital rift — Jeff really wanted to go with plastic storage, thinking plastic offers a better seal, is less breakable and less prone to annoying rattles when driving. While I totally get where he’s coming from, I was determined to go with glass jars.

I won’t lie — part of my desire for glass jars was aesthetics. What’s cuter than a pantry full of mason jars? Even if it’s in the back of a minivan, I still like cute things!

It wasn’t 100% looks, though. I also wanted glass because I believe it’s safer  — who knows what leaches from plastic to the food we’re eating over time? Also, the structure of the shelving is such that there’s a lot of vertical space and not as much horizontal, making taller, skinnier jars a more efficient setup. As far as sealing, I relented a bit on the aesthetics and we’re swapping out our super charming vintage zinc lids (which don’t seal as well due to age) for new two-piece lids which seal very well.

In order to combat the annoying sound of glass jars rattling against each other and the wire shelves, I have a couple of sweaters from Goodwill that I’ll chop up to make into ‘jar sweaters’ to protect the glass a bit.

For the closet half of our set up we have six totes that are 16 x 24″ and about 7″ tall for clothes, shoes and toiletries. These totes will be stowed under the bed platform. Due to the construction, we’ll have about 3″ of space on top of the totes — the side braces for the bed are 2×4’s that are oriented so that the skinny part of the board is towards the floor. There’s just enough space to slide the totes under, but once they are stashed under the bed, we’ll be able to stash less rigid bags and items on top of the totes.

So here’s today’s plan:

  • Set up the ‘kitchen’ and make a final decision on where everything will go.
  • Wash all of our clothes.
  • Set up all the bins and bags in our closet to see how much room we actually have.
  • Pack all of our clothes, shoes, toiletries and toys in the available bins, bags and boxes — sort extras that don’t fit into donate and stash with family piles.
  • Start sewing sweater cozies for all of our mason jars

If we get through that today, we have a bit more preparation to do before heading out next week. We bought a few yards of mosquito netting and ceramic super-magnets that we’ll use to fashion screens for the van windows so we can sleep with the windows open. We also bought a couple yards of red gingham tablecloth vinyl that I need to hem and when I’m all done with that I have one maxi dress that’s getting remade into a shorter version and a bit of mending to do while I still have my Bernina!

We’re getting really excited and nervous to head out. Starting anything new always gets me a bit nervous and heading out on the road without having a 100% certainty of where we’ll sleep for the night will be a new experience for us for sure!

Until next time….

patty brower

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