What I’m Working On Right Now
Half blog, half journal.
Check back every few weeks to see what’s up on the road!
It’s a lovely Sunday, March 3rd, 2019. Jeff and I are tucked into Ajo, Arizona, after a slight setback to our plans.
A few weeks ago, it was cold and getting colder here in Arizona. I was crazy at work. In fact, so crazy, I was ordered to take Friday afternoon off. Jeff and I were staying at Organ Pipe National Monument which is about a half hour south of Ajo and just a few miles north of the Mexican border.
Since the forecast was so cold and we were both a little tired of Arizona, we decided to spend the weekend waiting out the rain, doing laundry, and packing up to head back east to Florida. But we thought we’d take one last trip over to California. The drive over was about four hours and we went, played sightseer and headed back to our campsite.
It was late — almost 9 p.m. — and about 30 miles outside of Indio our engine started revving and smoking. Luckily, we were right at a truck stop. We made it to the parking lot with smoke all over the place. After some minor freaking out, we decided to spend the night and in the morning find a mechanic and get towed back to Indio.
Long story short, our transmission was shot. We feel super lucky that we broke down so close to the city. There was a Motel 6 and Uber. Unfortunately, the repair was $2,850 and we spent another few hundred on Uber rides (including a $75 failed attempt to rent a car at the Palm Springs airport). The hotel bills added up to and all told the repair, along with the hotel, Uber, and eating out cost us around $4,500.
That’s a lot of money. And a serious setback to our plan to upgrade to a larger rig in a few months.
So now we’re back in Ajo. We’re in a magical spot. It’s the prettiest desert we’ve stayed in yet, just a few miles from town with good Verizon service. We’re hunkered down here for a few weeks to rest and regroup and decide what’s next.
In other news, work has been insanely busy, but fun. My role has changed, so there’s new challenges and lots to do.
I’ve also gotten OBSESSED with Happy Planners… I’ve missed a paper calendar, which I ditched for the most part when we headed out on the road. I’ve kept a travel journal — noting where we stayed, what we did, what we ate — in a calendar. But I’ve been looking for a way to create reward and celebration while building habits. The Happy Planner fits the bill for me and is feeding my inner fourth grader’s love of stickers. Seriously, check out the tag #thehappyplanner on Instagram. You’ll see.
So this month we’re focusing on healthy living. Our stay in the hotel for two weeks meant lots of (non-refrigerated) junk food and not much walking. And I’m focusing on routines so that I have time for all that healthy living and not just happy working!
Until next time!
Updated March 3, 2019
It’s Sunday night. The 14th of January. Jeff and I are at RTR — a large, loosely organized rally of folks who are interested in living on the road. Full time or otherwise.
It’s a grand event. Vans, RVs, minivans, cars, tents and more… everywhere. The setup is near Quartzsite, Arizona, a winter community full of crazy vendors, tents, swap meets and other nooks to investigate.
I’m struggling with the new year. As one does… I had plans. But since I’m still kicking the bug I got before Christmas, my plans haven’t panned out quite the way I want.
So, project-wise, I’m still planning on starting a novel this month. In real life, I’m scheduling blocks of time, wondering how I consistently lose four hours a day to… I don’t know. It’s still in the back of my head to spend my extra hours on my blog, kicking up a YouTube station… I love just creating helpful content.
But I want to write a book.
We’ll stay in Quartzsite. For a while. A few weeks. Or more. It’s still cold down here, so we can’t head north. We’re a bit stuck. And making the best of it. Soon, it’ll get warmer. And we’ll head north. Sedona, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon. And whatever comes up next.
Until next time!
Updated January 14, 2019
Right at this moment, I’m sitting in the coldest Starbucks in the known universe. It’s right by an In-N-Out in Yuma. It’s 60 degrees in here. We’re still hanging out at Mittry Lake, with a plan to head a bit further north to Tonopah, Arizona. There’s a great BLM area with a pretty view, hot springs close by, and within striking distance of Organ Pipe and Quartzsite, our next stops.
I’m tempted over the last week to do a million things. My brain loves to play games. Determined to finally get my schedule under control, my brain keeps throwing out new fun projects. It’s been about a year since I redid my website, I should do that again. This morning I was sidetracked for for 30 minutes creating Instagram story highlights that will ONLY be of interest to Jeff and I. So now I’m obsessed with making cute little over icons for them because, of course.
My tricky brain, fixing to derail me.
The other day we got a few fun Christmas garlands and stockings and decorated the canopy so it feels festive. I mean, not really. It’s not super duper warm here in Yuma, but mid to upper 60’s during the day doesn’t really feel like Christmas to this up north girl. Also our current view from the canopy includes palm trees, and our next view will likely have Saguaro cactuses. So that’s not super festive either. I’m given to understand that putting Santa hats on the Saguaros isn’t encouraged. What a bunch of grinches.
Things continue much the same for Jeff and I. We’re winding up some end of year things, the biggest being determining what’s the better financial decision — purchase dental insurance that will cost $960, but give us $2,000 of benefit, most of which will likely require co-payments of nearly 100%. So basically, spend just under $3,000 for $5,000 of dental. Or… just renew our passports, save up the cash and head over the border for dental when we’re down this way. Decisions, decisions.
I’ve not been successful getting my schedule under control, but made good inroads, and as always, tomorrow continues to be another day. Likely will be a better day, schedule-wise. Mondays are always chaotic for me!
Until next time!
Updated December 10, 2018
What a gap! Today is day nine months and something. We’re currently set up at Mittry Lake near Yuma, Arizona. This is our first time staying at BLM/disbursed style spots in the desert. Arizona has some great places for free or very inexpensive — where we are now is free for 10 days, has good data service (Verizon), and is right next to a little lake. Apparently, there’s good birding.
This week, I’m determined, yet again, to arrange my schedule in a way to create more space for creating. I’m accustomed to working on client work with long breaks. Long enough to eat up time, but never productive. Since Jeff and I have had luck recently with setting up a savings scheme that works for us, I’m confident that this time I’ll come up with a way to spend my time that makes me feel free, but still gets stuff done!
I’ll spend that newly freed up time working on my book. And enjoying the desert air. We arrived in Arizona last week and headed over the border to Joshua Tree, which was amazing and otherworldly. We’re going to hang out near Yuma for a bit, then plan to try to score a spot at Organ Pipe for Christmas. In January, we’re going to see if we can stand the crowds and desert around Quartzsite to hang out at RTR. Then we’ll be waiting out the weather to head north — we are looking forward to Sedona, and exploring New Mexico and Utah, which we weren’t able to get to last year.
Until next time!
Updated December 5, 2017
Today is day #4 of our new life on the road. We left the farm on December 15th, stopped in Virginia for pre-Christmas with family, then down to Daytona Beach (well, Port Orange, but more folks know Daytona than Port Orange!) to work on the van. It took about 2 months to get the van converted to a mini camper and we headed out a few days ago.
Right now our focus is on learning to live on the road. We are off-grid with a portable solar setup. It’s a learning curve for sure to get the hang of handling basic daily tasks we took for granted… bathing, cooking, finding a bathroom.
So far we’re really loving it! I’m 100% focused on staying on top of client work in such a non-standard office. That, along with the basics has kept me busy, but it’s in the back of my mind that there’s going to be long expanses of time perfect for more writing.
Jeff and I are also talking about doing more content creation on the road. It’s easy to make fun of the idea (everyone’s doing it!) but in reality, we haven’t seen a lot of people like us (i.e. old as the hills) doing it. Not sure yet how that will fit in.
We’re also working on the shop, which we have kept up and running with inventory up in Minnesota for my mom to handle orders. It feels all so far away right now!
Until next time!
Updated February 25, 2018
It’s already the holidays here on the farm and the last few months have been a whirlwind!
We staged a show in mid-October where we brought our handmade soaps and candles, found items and a bunch of new things we sourced from some of our favorite vendors. Once again, sales reflected what we’d seen in our shop in Virginia… folks love to LOOK at the found items, and they buy the new stuff. Over 60% of our home decor sales were new items, not vintage and antiques!
One of the super fun things about the October event is that I included a mini-launch of 3 Snugbugs Studios clothing! As some might remember, I won a business grant a few years ago and was just rolling into sales when the opportunity popped up last year to take over the B&B up in Minnesota. Since the move, I’ve been focused on client work and learning how to run a B&B. It was a real milestone to get a small release finished and ready for sale. Now it’s time to focus on the photographs and other things that we need to do to list and market the clothing. With such a unique style, we’ll really be looking at online as our main sales platform at the beginning.
This weekend we’re out in our barn gift shop hosting one of two holiday-themed shopping events in concert with a neighboring business in our small community. It’s cozy and we finally found a decent Pandora station that plays holiday music that doesn’t kill me — I’ve already OD’ed on the big band era Christmas station. Mom’s here to help out and Jeff is manning the till and making candles while I’m working on my laptop. It’s so fun to have a shop right on our farm!
Until next time!
Updated November 11, 2017
And I blinked… and it was fall! Just a quick update… we made it through a very busy summer and now are slowing down a bit with guests and getting ready for the holiday retail and show season.
We are linking up a few craft shows to attend close to the B&B where we will be showing our soaps and candles along with some vintage items and a limited release of clothing from 3 Snugbugs Studios. We’re super excited to be pulling everything together and the whole family is in on it, including my mom.
It’s leaf season in northern Minnesota, so we’re still getting a fair amount of guests coming through which we love! I expect we’ll see a slow-down in November and December with things picking up a bit in January/February and then dropping again until June. We’ve got a lot of projects to work on during the ‘slow season’!
With everything that’s happening at the farm I haven’t had nearly the discipline to write that I’d like. It’s a constant struggle to prioritize and get out of putting-out-fire-mode.
The farm menagerie is doing well. Biscuit the kitty is finally a semi-outdoor cat and has lots of fun AND entertains guests with his kitty antics. Peppermint is as sweet as ever and the Northern Comfort flock is holding at eight hens. We lost two chicks and just recently lost my favorite chicken, Speckles, to a hawk. She was a pretty, inquisitive little thing and it was a sad day on the farm when we realized she’d gotten ‘gotten’ by the mean hawk.
Back to work!
Updated Septemer 18, 2017
Whew! This has been a crazy month. I completely overcommitted myself to various sewing projects and realized that I was sending myself off the rails, getting distracted with fun things that don’t necessarily contribute to the direction I want to go.
And this has made me a little crabby.
Also, we got our first batch of chickens a few weeks ago. They are growing like weeds and fun, but extra work. We also had a small cat emergency surgery mid-month due to Biscuit’s love of eating things that aren’t food.
As we head into May I’ve rearranged my goals for June to help me focus. In addition to client work and B&B work, I’ll working on writing and nothing else. In order to support this, I’ve been working on this daily journal practice from Randy over at Advanced Fiction Writing. I’d never thought of using Scrivener in this way, but really like the use of document templates and being able to condense everything into one journal!
Spring is in full force here on the Farm. The leaves are out and a few of the fruit trees are starting to flower. The lilacs are just peeking out and the bleeding hearts have little baby heart-shaped buds out as well.
And… I lied a little 🙂 In June I’ll also be experimenting with a video format for my blog posts over here at PattyBrower.com. I’ve been wanting to play with it, and think I might be a bit faster doing a weekly Facebook live and posting versus my normal ridiculously long blog posts.
At the B&B Jeff and I are untangling our 2016 taxes and negotiating unanticipated (and not very well explained) new insurance payments thanks to aforementioned chicks. We’re also sorting out the leasing relationship with the folks who own the B&B property — a process not always enjoyable and frequently ire-inducing for me….
We’ll see how it goes.
Updated May 30, 2017
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