Mashley’s Adventures – Snowpocalypse and (Mis)Conceptions

Current Location: Fayetteville, NC

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
~ John Ruskin


Well, we survived the great predicted snowpocalypse of Jan 2017. The storm threat that magically cleared bread, milk, and eggs from store shelves. The hospital informed all staff (at least on the unit we have contact with) that they were required to make it for their scheduled shifts and that, if necessary, they could sleep on the floor of the conference room or use one of the broken, defective bedside chairs that were waiting to be repaired.

Fortunately, Ashley simply got a ride home from a coworker who lives nearby before the great storm broke. We waited and looked out our window to see… a heavy frost. -rolls eyes- (Our accumulation shown in the picture above).

There was a lot of hoopla and, at least in our area, nothing came of it. It rained, some of that froze, and then we’ve been simply waiting out the cold. I know it wasn’t like this everywhere, but it can be comical to observe the hysteria that can occur. Better safe than sorry, I suppose.

In other news… we’ve noticed (once again, I believe) a trend in peoples’ views of living in an RV. We’re staying in a campground that is filled with long-term occupants. Some of our neighbors are retired and live full-time in their RVs and some are basically nomadic workers, following their jobs in a mobile abode. Whenever we first speak to them, it always seem that the workers make sure to mention that they have a home back… wherever. They ask where we live and I point to our motorhome, “right there.”

Even though they are living in an RV themselves, they seem to view it as a lesser lifestyle than living in a home. A couple have mentioned being “homeless”. Houseless – absolutely! Homeless? Not at all!

It’s just interesting to see others’ viewpoints. One person’s everyday-normal is another’s abstract-foreign. Different doesn’t mean wrong, and you can’t compare directly since everyone is coming from a completely unique viewpoint, their own.

Well, it looks like we’re having an above-freezing, delightfully sunny day. So we’re taking our coffees and going to enjoy a bit of time outdoors.

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

Mashley’s Adventures – On the Road, Again!

Current Location: Cookeville, TN

A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.
~ Tony Robbins


This week finds Adventure-Some migrating! It’s always bittersweet to leave family and head back out. We cherish the time shared with loved ones but are excited to return to our “normal” life of travel and exploration. The past few weeks have been rather tumultuous, filled with rapidly changing plans, consideration of options, debate of potential paths, and emotional releases. There is no better place to ponder such things than surrounded by family for encouragement, advice, and support.

After only being listed for a few days, we have sold the PT Cruiser. The cruiser was a direct tie to Ashley’s dad, and she’s had it longer than we’ve been together. So many of our adventures involved the Cruiser – it’s like a third member of our family. It was a hard, emotional decision to let it go, though we know it was the right choice. It has gone on to a new owner and we are officially car-less. Now, if we’re driving somewhere it’s on the motorcycle or in our house! Though, it’s been that way for most of the last 15 months…

As we mentioned last week, Ashley starts as a travel nurse on Monday. We’re heading that way to establish a home base for the next three months. Reservation at an RV park is made (after many calls, the area seems to be swamped!) If you’re going to be near the Fayetteville, NC area any time before February 11, let us know!

Fortunately, the path from Kentucky to North Carolina passes directly by Matt, Brittney, and the nieces, so we’re looking forward to a visit with them before settling down on Sunday. (And we’ll get to be there to celebrate Bailee’s 13th birthday, huzzah!)

Travel nursing offers the chance for us to continue traveling for the long-term, which we’re thrilled about! The longer we’ve been adventuring, the more we love it. We may have to adjust our goal timelines but we’ll still manage to visit all of the contiguous US within 3 years. And with more of a regular income we can focus a bit less on keeping to a strict budget. In the future, it also makes it easier to get to and temporarily live in Alaska and Hawaii, which is also one of our goals.

On a lighter note, it was great timing to be back in Western KY. Tobey, Matthew’s sister, bought her first house, so we were able to help her move in and get (somewhat) settled. That included helping to repaint the bathroom and also paint a mural in the bedroom. Even more fun, is that the mountains that comprise it are actual silhouettes of places we’ve been on our travels! 😀

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

Creating a Clutter Free Desktop

I’ve got a lot going on right now, so I need to be able to focus. If you’ve spent any time around me, you know that I don’t do fixed focus and single-tasking very well. Indeed, as I write this I am sitting outside watching traffic go by, listening to the iPod and writing (all while avoiding studying for tomorrow’s exam). This is not my ideal productive state, though I do manage to get some quality work done in similar environments.

Every so often I head over to Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits and see what lifestyle goodness has been posted recently. The latest excursion resulted in a number of posts that I had to catch up on, including one on how to Create a Minimalist Computer Experience. Again, if you have ever seen me on a computer, I am anything but a minimalist. Right now I have three text documents open (one in notepad and two in Open Office’s Writer), one folder open (all 4 of those are for the studying I’m supposed to be doing), as well as three different instances of the Chrome web browser, with a total of 36 tabs open between them.

Up until about 10 minutes ago, my computer’s desktop was cluttered with icons, notes written to myself, todo lists, etc. I followed some of the directions in Leo’s post and immediately felt better. I took a few minutes to sort through the stuff that I had on my desktop; all but 4 of them were either combined, moved, or deleted. Of these 5, one will remain (the recycle bin) and the other 3 are the task lists for projects that I am currently working on.

While I loved my background photo (you can see it here under the “something feathery” category), not only was it quite busy but I’ve also had it for awhile now and was in the mood to change. (I have a small collection of potential background photos, just for when I want to switch it up a bit.) My new background is much more simple and relaxing.

I prefer to leave my start bar legible, because of the clock in the bottom right corner. I like a minimal number of programs running, and consider widgets to be programs. I already had some short cuts implemented, and have been using them for years now, so that advice was nothing new to me.

I haven’t taken the leap of letting Google Desktop index my computer. While I’m sure it would be handy, I just haven’t seen the need. I guess it’s just not my style.

That’s where I’m at thus far. I spent about 10 minutes making my desktop less cluttered, which immediately helped me relax a little. Because of that I can now focus on the tasks at hand and get some important things taken care of. Now I need to make myself study, and then I can spend focus on knocking out some of those tabs… cause I really do have too many open. 😀

Take a Break

Sometimes you just need to take a break. Stop. Recharge.

Our hectic exam schedule (mentioned here) is nearly done, and we are going to celebrate tonight. No studying, no books, no work. We’re just going to relax, enjoy each others’ company and do nothing.

Do you need to take a break? Perhaps your fuse is getting a bit short, you find yourself disgruntled with part of your life, or everything just seems to be going by too fast. If so, you might be in need of a break.

Your break does not have to be a weekend road trip. It simply needs to be some time taken just for you, doing something that relaxes you. You might want to take a few hours to focus on your hobby, go for a hike, or simply take a nice hot bath with a good book. Whatever you choose, don’t worry about upcoming tasks. They will be waiting when you return, renewed and with more energy.

Take a break. Stop. Recharge!

Targeting A Goal

We have made our life list and narrowed it down to a year’s worth of goals; now it’s time to start achieving those goals!

I’m going to use my goal of “Be financially self-sufficient” as an example, as I feel that it will be the most challenging of my three. But first, let’s recap:

What makes a goal good:

A good goal is clearly defined, actionable and measurable.
My goal, as written, is not a good goal: “Be financially self-sufficient.” Let’s fix that.

  • Clearly Defined – What do I mean by “financially self-sufficient”? I further defined my goal by specifying that I want my income to not be dependent on an outside company; I don’t want to fear that I won’t get enough hours this week, that the boss will fire me or that the store will go out of business.
  • Actionable – A vague goal does not provide a target to work towards. A good goal narrows your aim.
    This is part of the reason that I combined this goal with another: “Have own successful business.” I can work towards building a successful business.
  • Measurable – You have to know when you have reached your goal. Being measurable draws that line in the sand. To cross my line, my business has to provide enough income each month to cover my budget.

Ok, now that we’ve got a good goal to work with “Control my own income by owning a successful business whose monthly income covers my budget” it’s time to get started!

Plan Your Steps

Figure out how you are going to reach your goal, actually write down the steps. This process can be handled in a couple of different ways. You might want to work from beginning to end: the first thing that you need to do, the second, next after that, next after that, reach your goal. You may prefer to work backwards: reach your goal, the last thing you did, the thing before that, the one before that, the first thing you do. Is it easier for you to picture yourself completing your goal, or working towards it? Whichever it is, start at that picture, and work to the other side of your journey.

To build a successful business, I have to:

  • determine where my strengths are
  • figure out how I can use those strengths to provide value for others
  • determine how best to monetize the providing of that value
  • set up a vehicle (business) through which I can share that value
  • begin providing value
  • expand my efforts until I reach my target income

What is the first step that you need to take to reach your goal? Do you need to find out just how big around LBL is, when and where you are most likely to see a moonbow or what strength you want to build your business around? (Probably not, unless you are borrowing my goal list.) Whatever it is, find out! You will probably be surprised how reachable your goal is.

Schedule Your Plan

With a calendar in front of you, lay out a time-line for each step in your plan. Keep in mind that these are not set in stone. Some of them will be take less time than you think, while others will stretch out longer. Don’t be surprised when things don’t go according to plan and be willing to work with these changes.

During this stage it is also a good idea to see how your different goals fit together. Perhaps your goals are large enough that you don’t need more than one or two. If that is the case, allow yourself to put the others on hold. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Two of my goals are relatively easy to achieve, both requiring more in the way of deciding to pursue them than planning and effort. The financial self-sufficiency goal is much more involved. I scheduled the smaller goals so that they serve as much-needed recreation during some of the harder times as I build my business.

Only One More Thing

At this point, the hard part is out of the way… figuring out what you have to do, determining a time-frame to do it in; only one thing is left. Take out that calendar, look at that first step and DO IT!

Breaking It Down

You have created your life list of goals and you have seen my list. Now it’s time to start working on them. But wait! Those are long lists! Of course they are, it’s called a Life List for a reason, you can’t do it in just a year.

Let’s narrow it down a bit so that you really can get started…

Which three of your goals do you want to complete in the next year? Three goals gives you enough to work on so that you can change projects when you get temporarily stuck and so that you can push yourself without becoming overwhelmed.

Which three goals?
I don’t know what your list looks like. I can’t tell you what to aim for this next year. Only you can decide that. You don’t have to choose goals that you think are “achievable”, part of this project is to push you beyond what you expect.

Here are my goals for this year are:

  • be financially self sufficient
    • have own successful business
    • sell my artwork
  • circumnavigate Land Between the Lakes
  • see MoonBow

The first goal encompasses two others (maybe a business selling my art?), circumnavigating LBL will take about a week, and seeing a MoonBow will take one night, with the proper timing. As long as I plan and prepare for these, they are all do-able (the second two easily). Without planning and working towards them, though, I won’t achieve any of these.

Even though I have long desired a business of my own, I wouldn’t expect to have one within the year (and am still not quite sure what I will do.) That’s ok, though, because that is a topic for another day. On Wednesday, we will discuss how to plan our goals so that they can be achieved in a year.

Today’s task:

Your Life List is made and you’re raring to get started. You can’t jump in and tackle them all at once, because you will never get any of them finished that way. Today’s task is to select which three goals you want to target for this year. Wednesday we will lay out our plans to achieve these goals and begin working towards them!

My Life List

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the
things that you didn’t do than by the things that you did do.

Wednesday we discussed the importance of making your life list and you made yours. (You did, didn’t you?) Here is my wife and I’s. We have already completed some of our goals, as evidenced by the mark-throughs. A couple of the lists are only for one of us, but the vast majority are combined goals. The items with a * beside them are continuous goals. Some of the items still need further definition, but at least we have something to begin working towards.



  • Get married to man/woman of my dreams
  • * Best husband/wife that I can be
  • have children – 2-3 in 9 years
  • – decide how want children to end up – this one still has to be defined further
  • visit host family (again/meet)



  • Read all of Bible
  • * Best Christian that I can be



  • * Never stop learning
  • learn to sail
  • learn to fly airplane
  • learn to fly helicopter
  • become fluent in language – able to have conversation w/ native speaker
  • learn Finnish – able to have conversation w/ native speaker
  • start college
  • graduate college
  • take an offensive driving course
  • study abroad



  • be debt free
  • $10,000 emergency fund
  • be financially self sufficient – not be dependent upon a specific company or two for our income



  • have own successful business – something we enjoy running that provides enough income to live comfortably off of
  • sell my artwork



  • visit all 7 continents
  • visit New Zealand
  • stay in bungalo built over ocean on stilts
  • motorcycle trip across the US
  • see the Northern Lights
  • see MoonBow
  • Bike ride across US
  • Visit all 50 states
  • Travel out of US



  • Thru-hike AT
  • Thru-hike Sheltowee Trail
  • hot air balloon ride
  • hang glide
  • skydive
  • bungee jump
  • circumnavigate LBL
  • go rappelling



  • take photography class
  • own running/reliable motorcycle
  • knit sweater
  • learn violin/piano
  • earn black belt



  • live in RV
  • Live in SailBoat
  • design/build own house
  • build log cabin



  • sponsor a child
  • * be generous with time
  • * be generous with money
  • * be generous with emotions



  • have a custom made suit

There is my life list. Monday I will show you how I made it actionable. If you haven’t created your list yet, go back to Wednesday’s post and do that! Monday we will start working on it.

Define Your Life

I’m sure you know what you want to to today. You might even know your goals for this week. What about this year? This life?
Without set goals, it is too easy to live day-to-day, in a reactive state. If you are living in such a way, you can almost feel as if you are just treading water, trying to stay afloat. Then one day you look up and wonder where the years have gone.

I know what my goals are for this month, this year, and for my life. I am excited each week about the tasks I have to complete. Over the next few weeks I will show you my goals and how I plan to reach some of them while helping you set and reach your own. Today you get to create your own goals and Friday I will show you my list.

Good goals help improve your life in a number of ways:

  • Help reduce the clutter.
    If you know the end results that you are aiming for, then you can eliminate the actions that do not move you towards those ends. Whenever you face a decision, you have criteria to make your decision by. Does this help me reach my goals? If so, do it. If not, then don’t. You will find yourself being more productive because
    you are focusing on what is truly important to you.
    A simple example would be that I want to have a successful website, and I spend time playing Solitaire. Solitaire does nothing to help move me towards the website, so I have a good reason to stop doing this time-wasting activity. By using that time to work on the website, it will become successful faster.
  • Provide energy.
    I don’t know about you, but I am more motivated when I know what I’m working towards. It doesn’t matter if it is homework, running, or some other project; a clearly defined target gives me a finish line. The closer I get to that finish line, the more I want to reach it and the harder I will work.
    This is even more true when working towards something important to me, personally. You will find that, as you reduce the clutter, everything that you are involved in will be more aligned with things that are truly important to you, which will give you even more motivation and energy to complete them.
  • Let you know when to quit.
    Have you ever worked on a project and didn’t know when you were finished? Where you unmotivated and not interested in working on it? A well-defined goal explains when you have reached it so you can rest and move on to the next one.

What makes a goal good:

A good goal is clearly defined, actionable and measurable.
Here is an example of a common goal, one that is not good: Get in better shape.

  • Clearly Defined – What do you mean by “better shape”? Do you want to be stronger, have more endurance, or lose weight? Specify what you mean in your goal.
    ex: I want to be stronger.
  • Actionable – A vague goal does not provide a target to work towards. A good goal narrows your aim.
    ex: I want to bench press more weight.
  • Measurable – You have to know when you have reached your goal. Being measurable draws that line in the sand. If you leave our example alone, “bench press more weight” you could lift one more pound tomorrow and have completed it, or you could continue increasing the weight every week and never feel that you reached your goal. You need to have a specific target to reach.
    ex: I want to bench-press my body-weight.

Today’s Task:

Now that you know the benefits of having defined goals, and what constitutes a good goal, it’s time to set your own goals. There are many names for the goal list that you are about to create, such as Life List and Bucket List. No matter what you call it, it is time to come up with a list of goals that you want to achieve during your life.
Required materials are simple: a piece of paper, writing instrument, and some time.
Instructions are also simple: Write down the things that you want to achieve during your life, keeping in mind that your goals need to be clearly defined, actionable and measurable.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while making your list:

  • Dream big! Don’t think about where you are now, think about what you want to do. No matter what it is, you can do it.
  • Don’t forget to think small. Just because others might not think that it is a spectacular goal doesn’t matter; if it is important to you, include it on your list.
  • Categories: If it is helpful, here are some categories that are commonly included when creating a goal list: Family, Spiritual, Education, Financial, Professional, Travel, Recreation, Hobbies, Community, Charity.
  • You can change your list. A common question is “what if I don’t like my list?” People change over time, including their goals. Fortunately, you can change your list as well. It is not set in stone, and you are the one that made it. Simply make a new list and work on that one instead.
  • It doesn’t have to be perfect. If you can’t get all of your goals defined perfectly, just write down what you have. You can narrow them down when it comes time to start working on them.

This is not a new concept, you have probably heard of it before. As have many other people. However, few people actually create the list. Fewer still actually try to complete their list; many tuck it into a drawer and forget all about it until they pull it out some years down the road.

Will you be one of those who either never makes a list or makes one only to tuck it into a drawer somewhere? Or will you take a blank piece of paper and use it to improve the rest of your life?

Life in Ireland with One Suitcase

Have you ever come home from a trip and unpacked stuff that you never used? That won’t happen to me on this trip. I will return from nearly 5 months in Ireland having used everything that I brought. With some careful planning, I was able to fit everything for the trip in a single suitcase and carry-on backpack.

What worked:

  • I planned on dressing in layers to stay warm, and this system worked out quite well. Even with the worst winter in 40 years, I stayed warm and comfortable. I might not have looked properly outfitted, but with thermals, “regular” clothes and the rain jacket on for wind protection was more than enough.
  • My packtowel has been used for the entire trip and has worked splendidly. I have received a number of compliments and jealous looks on weekend excursions; my large bath towel fits into my toiletries bag, while other travelers’ towels took up half of their backpack.
  • The bar shampoo experiment. My bar of J.R. Liggett’s shampoo has lasted the entire trip and will still be in use after I return home. I am looking forward to returning to the Co-op where I purchased it and trying one of the other scents.

What could use some work:

  • Next time I will pack less in the way of clothing. The one dress outfit has only been worn when I pushed the laundry day too far back. Likewise, I could easily get by with fewer socks and underwear.
  • Both my wife and I could have brought less in the way of hobbies. She finished knitting a beautiful scarf for me, but has not used her knitting needles much otherwise.
  • I could pretty safely get by with less in the way of school supplies. It seemed like a waste to buy more when I already had so much at home, so I brought it with me. During orientation the library gave out pads of paper, and I have typed the notes for all but one of my classes. As a compulsive list-maker, the binder full of paper still came in quite handy.

It is quite a feeling to realize that you can comfortably live out of a suitcase. It is nice to know that we can safely pack up and head out to different lands without looking like this guy.

Free Ultra-Light Camping Stove

I have at least 6 camping stoves, collected over the years (or hand-me-downs). Two of them see frequent use while the others sit in storage, forgotten. And yet I want even more. I visit every camping section I can and check out the stoves, seeing what the next “must have” is. I finally found a way to satisfy this itch without breaking my already cracked piggy bank.

Alcohol Stoves

Alcohol fumes are flammable. Vaporized alcohol (in gas form) is more flammable. These two simple facts are the guiding principles behind alcohol stoves. Pour the alcohol (fuel) into an alcohol stove. The fumes are lit, which causes the liquid to heat up and then begin to boil. Boiling vaporizes the liquid and causes the flames to burn at a hotter temperature.

Make Your Own!

There are many designs for alcohol stoves, designed to work better in different circumstances or be easier to build. This one is my current favorite, as it is easy to build, does not require a pot-stand and best of all, the materials are free! I have made this one using only my Swiss Army Knife and P-38. This means that if something happens to it during a camping trip, I can make a new one on the spot.


  • 1 aluminum soda can


  • cutting tool (sharp knife, scissors, razor blade)
  • pointy tool (push-pin, nail, ice pick)
  • marking tool (permanent parker)
  • measuring tool (ruler, tape measure)
  • smoothing tool (file, sand paper)
  • opening tool (can opener)
  • safety tools (gloves & safety goggles)

You will be using sharp objects to make something that contains flammable liquids & burns… Be careful! I am in no way responsible for any injuries you inflict upon yourself.


  1. Prepare an aluminum soda can by emptying it’s contents and then rinsing it out thoroughly. (Here comes the free part!) Not a big soda drinker, I picked up enough cans walking down the road to make more stoves than I could ever possibly use. (I am sure to wash them out very well, and the flames take care of the rest!)
    If you would like a “prettier” stove, simply sand the paint off of the can. The easiest way that I have found to do this is to sand it off before the can is opened, so the pressure inside gives you something to push against. Since I am using pre-emptied cans, I have thought about filling it with water and then freezing it, but have not yet tried this method.
  2. Using your pointy tool (I prefer a push pin, though I’ve used the can opener on my Swiss Army Knife), poke 4 SMALL holes in the upper lip of your can, spaced every 90 degrees. These will allow the fuel to flow evenly while burning.
    They didn’t show up really well in the photos I took, but you want the holes evenly spaced around the rim of the can. I used the pushpin in the photo to make my holes, after marking their spots with the marker.
  3. Using your opening tool (can opener from kitchen or P-38), remove the inside top of the can. This stage can be a bit tricky and involve wiggling the opening tool to get a good bite. Be careful about burrs and sharp edges!
  4. Use the handle of your cutting tool to flatten/remove any burrs made by the pointy and opening tools.
  5. Draw a circle around the can 1″ from the bottom. Draw another circle around the can 2″ from the top. (This involves both the marking and measuring tools!) Generally, I lay the marker on a book to achieve the proper height, then spin the can to get an even ring drawn on it. Make sure your can stays flat the whole time, or your circle will look funny!
    Don’t forget to flip the can over when you are measuring the 2″ from the top, otherwise you will end up with a funny drawing on your can when you just measure 1″ and then 2″ from the bottom.
  6. Cut in-between these two lines. It can be messy, as you are in-between the lines.
  7. Cut the bottom line. It doesn’t have to be level, but it does need to be nice and smooth. (Some find this to be easiest with scissors, though I generally use my pocket knife.) Make sure there are no nicks or slivers to injure yourself on!
  8. Cut the top line. Again, it needs to be nice and smooth, and this time it needs to be level as well since this is what your pot will be sitting on.
  9. Use your smoothing tool, smooth away any slivers and burrs that might exist.
  10. Make a “wrinkle” or “dent” in the top portion, from the bottom edge up to the beginning of the upper lip. Be careful not to crease the can! You can use needle-nosed pliers, a pen or a dowel. I use my fingers, since I always have them handy! You don’t want these wrinkles to be too big or two wide. Be careful not to crease the can.
  11. Make 5-7 more of these wrinkles.
  12. Carefully insert the top portion INTO the bottom portion.


You just made an alcohol stove! Now let’s put it to use…

  1. Only use OUTSIDE, on a level surface, in safe conditions. Do not leave unattended!
  2. Pour fuel (70% Isopropyl Alcohol) so that it just covers the dome in the bottom of the can.
  3. Be sure no fuel is on your hands.
  4. Light using a long match or a long BBQ lighter.
  5. Wait for the outside edges to start flaming (you’ll know it when you see it!) Normally between 15-30 seconds.
  6. The first time you use the stove, just let it burn itself out, without a pot on it. The plastic in the paint needs to be burned off.
  7. Let the stove cool completely before refilling it.
  8. When re-lit, place pot carefully on the stove, making sure that it is centered.
  9. DO NOT STIR your pot when it is on top of the stove, as it is very easy to overturn this stove. That would pour flaming liquid everywhere… never a good idea.
  10. To put out the stove, either place an upside-down can over it to cut off oxygen, or simply wait for it to burn itself out. If you have a pot on top of the stove, you can sometimes blow the flame out.


Just where does one get this magical liquid that makes this whole project possible? Any number of places, actually… You can use HEET from a gas station, denatured alcohol from the paint section of a hardware store (I bought mine at Wal-Mart), or any number of other fuels. Drinking alcohol works well, but costs a bit more. Check out for even more information about fuel and other types of stoves that you can make.