A virtual cooking class on wheels, the RV Cooking Show takes viewers on adventures to some of the most sought-after or interesting but little known RV locales then creates a healthy, easy destination-related RV recipe in host Evanne Schmarder's RV kitchen. Tune in to our RV TV...it's always delicious!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Fast Fabulous Food Gifts From My RV Kitchen

Whether you're looking for a fabulous gift for your foodie friends, a delicious hostess gift that stands apart from the crowd, or a tasty treat to serve at your gathering or dinner party, these homemade food gifts - direct from the RV Cooking Show kitchen - are sure to please. Not only are they unique and personalized but they are fast to prepare and easy on the wallet.

Package these food gifts in pretty containers, add a ribbon, and a handwritten "how-to" card and you've got yourself something you'll be proud to give and the recipient will fondly remember.

From savory to salty to sweet, take a look at these four simple recipes, add a few items to your grocery list and get ready to give the gift of flavor!

Herb Vinegar

Makes one bottle

1 bottle of white wine vinegar (I like Star brand...pretty bottle) generous handful of store bought fresh herbs - choose from or mix and match - thyme, oregano, basil, opal basil, rosemary, sage, tarragon, chive flowers, lavender – organic is always best. You can even add peppercorns, peeled garlic, chili peppers, lemon zest, or cinnamon sticks, etc. 

Rinse and dry herbs. Remove plastic shaker top from the vinegar bottle and pour about a half-inch of vinegar into a glass bowl. Feed the herbs into the bottle - gently bruising them as you go, cap, shake, and note the herb/herb-spice combo on the bottle. Set aside and allow the flavor to meld at least one week before using.

How-to card: This (type of vinegar/herb mixture) vinegar is delightful in salad dressings, marinades, combined with oil for bread dipping or drizzled over steamed vegetables or broiled fish/meat. Enjoy, you lucky dog you!

More details on how to make herb vinegar in this RV Cooking Show blog post.

Tamari Almonds

1 pound shelled raw almonds

2 T tamari soy sauce

Spread almonds in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes or until the almonds are brown and toasted. Careful, don't burn them! 

Place hot almonds in a large bowl and pour tamari over them. Stir well to coat.

Return almonds to baking sheet allowing the almonds to soak in the tamari and cool.

How-to card: These crunchy, slightly salty, and thoroughly addictive nuts are perfect for parties, picnics, and backpack snacking. Good and good for you!  

Watch me make delicious Tamari Almonds and learn about some of my favorite kitchen gadgets in this "From the Vault" RV Cooking Show episode.

Gourmet Flavored Salt

Let your imagination run wild with this RV kitchen gift using a general recipe of 1/4 c sea salt - fine to coarse, your choice - and 1 teaspoon of each flavoring. To help get the flavor ideas flowing, consider the following:

  • dried lemon zest and finely chopped rosemary
  • smoked paprika
  • roasted and ground Szechuan pepper
  • Chinese 5-spice or garam masala
  • dried ginger and ground kefir lime leaves
  • 1/2 oz. dried and ground porcini mushrooms
How-to card: Use this delish (herb/combo) flavored salt as a finishing salt, sprinkled over your dish to add an extra and unexpected pop of flavor! Get crazy, be adventurous, live a little!

Visit this Rosa's Yummy Yums blog post for more flavored salt ideas as well as food pairings. It's a beauty to behold, as well.

Haute Fudge

Makes 2-3 cups

6 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
3 oz. unsalted butter - cubed
1/3 c light corn syrup
1 c sugar
1 c water - boiling
2 t pure vanilla extract (can substitute mint, rum, banana, etc. extract)

On very low heat, melt chocolate and butter. Stir to combine chocolate/butter mixture and add corn syrup, sugar and boiling water. Stir well making sure everything is completely blended.

Gently boil 8-10 minutes - without stirring...and I mean it! - until thick and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla or other flavored extract.

Pour into half pint (1 cup) jars.

How-to card: Will keep in refrigerator for several months...but good luck with that! Heat servings in microwavable bowl or cup. Serve over ice cream, poundcake or as a dip for bananas or strawberries.

Watch me make Haute Fudge, check out some of my favorite chocolatiers, and learn about some very romantic RV escapes in this "From the Vault" RV Cooking Show episode.

Fast Fabulous Food Gifts Make Giving Fun

Enjoy making and giving these easy, delicious, homemade RV kitchen gifts of food. Fast, simple, sensational...there's so much there to love.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey Pot Pie - RV Kitchen Recipe

What a great Thanksgiving 2012 we had in my RV kitchen! It was such a beautiful day out that I got the turkey into the crockpot and then headed out to play. I returned a little later than I'd hoped and it was time to take the bird out of the crockpot...but nothing else had been started! Yikes!

I covered the turkey breast with foil and got down to business. It took us about an hour and a half to get everything else prepared and cooked. I was a little concerned about the turkey but that was for naught. It was fabulous...moist, flavorful, and sliced like butter.

Today, like so many of us, I made a delicious turkey, cranberry and stuffing sandwich on sourdough bread with a little mayo, salt, and pepper. Devine! But also like many of us, I've got a lot of turkey leftover - even after a couple more sandwiches. Fortunately, I have an amazing, easy-peasy pot pie recipe that will make quick work out of your leftover turkey. I use all store-bought ingredients in this dish and believe me, it's a comfort food favorite recipe in my RV camper! Give it a go and let me know what you think.

Thanks for letting me join you on this wild RV ride! 

Evanne and the RVCookingShow.com gang

RV Cooking Show's Turkey Pot Pie


2 frozen pie crusts - pot pie needs a top crust

16 oz bag of frozen mixed vegetables (as upscale or basic as you wish)
1+ cups of chunked turkey or chicken (I use half of a rotisserie chicken if it's not turkey season)

2 T butter
2 T flour
chicken broth
1/4 c dry white wine
1/4 - 1/2 c Parmesan or Romano cheese - grated
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Set one pie crust out to thaw.

In a large saute pan cover frozen vegetables with water and allow to simmer until cooked. Remove from pan.

In the same pan, make a roux - melt butter, add flour, stir to combine, allow to brown. (Watch me make a roux in this year's Thanksgiving show - How to Make Gravy)

Add chicken broth. It will seize into a paste at first, continue adding until it's a thick liquid. Add white wine and allow it to bubble about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add more broth if it's thickened too much for your taste.

Add turkey or chicken and veggies to the sauce, allow to warm. Add cheese, allow to melt in.

Pour turkey or chicken/veggie/sauce mixture into frozen crust. Top with thawed crust - you'll probably have too much, trim as needed and press edges together with fork tines to make it look pretty. Cut a few vent slits on the top in an attractive pattern.

Place on a foil covered baking sheet and bake at 400 for 15 minutes then decrease heat* to 350 and bake until the edges are brown and the top is golden.

Remove, allow to cool slightly so the liquid thickens a bit and enjoy. Serve with a fresh green salad and a beverage of choice.


*begin baking at a higher heat to avoid a soggy bottom crust

Friday, November 16, 2012

RV Cooking Show's Thanksgiving Episode: How to Make Turkey Gravy (and very versatile roux!)

Happy Thanksgiving...and what would the big meal be without gravy?!? In this quick 2-Minute RV Kitchen Tip episode of the RV Cooking Show learn how to make gravy using a roux! Easy, delish, and down right good to know.

Who among us does not like gravy, that thick, rich, velvety liquid that graces mashed potatoes and makes everything taste even better? Unfortunately, making gravy has the reputation of being difficult and labor intensive. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The secret to making good gravy is in its foundation - the roux (pronounced "roo" - like kangaroo). Roux is cooked fat, in this case butter, and flour, browned to a particular color, thus imparting a particular flavor. This is the thickening agent in your gravy and you can control just how thick - or thin - you want to go.

And guess what? Roux isn't only for gravy. It's the base for sauces such as bechamal (white sauce), soups like New England-style corn or clam chowder - even a fantastic sauce for chicken pot pie.

So stop right there, put down the jar of gravy or the powder envelope, and spend a quick couple minutes watching this RV Cooking Show 2-Minute RV Kitchen Tip episode - How To Make Gravy.

We've also got a nifty little archive of turkey dinner episodes and recipes for your holiday pleasure:

Crockpot Turkey Breast
Gourmet Trash Can Turkey
Aunt Lucy's Stuffing
Mom's Famous Cranberry Sauce
Sweet Potato Fries

This RV Cooking Show episode is different from others we've produced - just barely over 2 minutes and all cooking, no travel talk. How do you like it? Thumbs up, down or other comments to share? Drop me a line, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Meantime, Happy Thanksgiving, RV Cooking Show friends. I wish you an abundance of people, places, and things to be grateful for this holiday season.

Evanne and the RVCookingShow.com crew

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Quesadilla RV Recipe and Saguaro National Park

Tucson, Arizona is bookmarked by the two units of Saguaro National Park. On the east you'll find the Rincon Mountain District and on the west it's the Tucson Mountain District. I wintered just a few miles from the gorgeous East District and spent many a day at the park - hiking, taking photographs, and simply sitting quietly atop a stone outcropping surrounded by silence and beauty.

The park's namesake - the giant saguaro cactus - can take on many shapes but the one it's most known for is the classic 'two arms up' version seen on many a western sign. You know exactly what I mean, don't you :>

In this episode of the RV Cooking Show: Saguaro National Park and Quesadillas, I'm delighted to have you as my guest as I take a turn around the park and a closer look at the remarkable saguaro - found only in the Sonoran Desert.

Later, we'll head back to my RV kitchen and make one of my go-to dishes - perfect for an easy meal after a full day of hiking or driving - quesadillas. In fact, they are such a snap to make once you watch this show you might never order them in a restaurant again!

Watch the video here, learn more about the park and the recipe at RVCookingShow.com and get ready to go to the grocery. I couldn't help myself...had these last night for dinner.

Enjoy and happy camping - Evanne - RVCookingShow.com 

Monday, July 9, 2012

RVing, Regional Foods and My Trailblazer Chicken Recipe

One of the simple joys of RVing is exploring the different and delicious regional food specialties that our great country has to offer. From the north to the south – the east to the west, everywhere has a specialty. Often times, you’ll even find a “local” willing to share their recipe simply for the asking. Be sure to carry a pad of paper and a writing utensil for just those occasions. These recipes are priceless souvenirs.

I love to chat with the locals, make up a shopping list, pick up the items needed, and try my hand in my own kitchen. I have a few favorites – direct from the road. For instance, the New England Fish Chowder recipe I got from a real Maine native – a fisherman’s wife who overheard me asking the clerk in a lobster market how many cans of evaporated milk were needed for a good chowder (the answer is one), the unbelievable and authentic Cuban Black Bean recipe I got from my Cuban neighbor while visiting the Florida Keys or the wacky but fabulous Trailblazer Chicken that will have your guests raving about the dish and guessing about the ingredients (don’t tell them until they begin eating) that came from a Trailmanor RV rally in South Dakota.

And then there are the regional specialties that are better left to the pros – soft serve custard at the old Victoria’s Sweet Cream in Glens Falls, New York, gulf shrimp fajitas at San Juan Taqueria in Port Aransas, Texas or barbeque at the Whole Hog in Little Rock, Arkansas – each one a small gem not to be missed (in my humble culinary opinion).

Don’t be shy to ask around about the local specialties and the best places to enjoy them. In most cases, if you talk to those that live in the area they’ll point you towards the lesser advertised, more reasonably priced places – some you’d never find on your own. Some are dives, some are posh – but all will be authentic. It’s a good idea to ask specifics about recommended restaurants. A friend of mine was told about a well regarded (and rather pricey) lobster pound in Maine, looked forward to it all day, dressed for a fancy dinner out, and arrived to find picnic tables near the saltwater boiling pot overlooking the ocean – a typical lobster pound. Who knew? Wonderful but not ritzy. 

When you find something you just love, haunt the groceries and specialty food shops for spices, marinades, or sundry ingredients to take home with you. Chances are the ingredients needed for a regional dish won’t be available in a store halfway across the country. Don’t be afraid of ethnic stores – see something interesting? Ask, they’ll be happy to help you learn. Bringing home recipes and ingredients can make your vacation memories rich and oh, the stories you’ll have to tell to guests when you serve your unusual dishes.

Try this Recipe

To get your juices flowing and your imagination running wild, here’s a recipe for Trailblazer Chicken I know it sounds a little different but trust me – it’ll turn into a “company dish”. Case in point: We were visiting cousin Jeanne and offered to make dinner for the four of us one evening. As I prepared the dish, everyone looked on – drinking wine and chatting. Once dinner was served Jeanne’s friend took a petite portion, tried it and came back for a more manly sized scoop. He joked that when he saw the ingredients he thought, “I’ll be polite, have a taste and say it was very good…no matter what.”

But the joke was on him…it’s a keeper…try it…everyone will like it!

Trailblazer Chicken

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or stoke your camp cooking fire). Can also be prepared in a crockpot but be careful not to overcook the swift cooking chicken breasts. 

6-8 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 small (8oz) bottle of catalina french salad dressing
1 envelope of french onion soup mix
1 can (16 oz) whole berry cranberry sauce

Combine salad dressing, onion soup mix and cranberry sauce in an oven proof dish with lid (or dutch oven) or high-sided tin pan. Mix in chicken breast being sure to coat and if possible cover each piece. Cover cooking vessel and cook approximately 25-35 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees.

Serve with rice topped with a ladleful of sauce, a salad with french dressing and crusty sopping bread.

Surprise…it's delish!!

If you give this a go, leave a comment below with your experiences and that of your other diners. I'd love to hear about it.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lighthouse Themed Summer RV Vacation

Do you love lighthouses? I admit, I'm a lighthouse lover. Not only do these long standing historic beauties guard some of our most pristine shores, a lighthouse tour trip is a very alluring theme for a summer RV vacation. Let's explore a few fabulous lighthouse destinations – a great way to enjoy breathtaking countryside and see some amazing sights.

Lighthouses grace our east and west coasts, the Great Lakes, the gulf coast, Alaska, Hawaii – wherever there are rocky coast lines and river mouths. Their bright beams, flashing at intervals forming a “characteristic light” or a pattern that identifies each specific light – warned mariners of dangerous conditions. These romantic sentinels were once lived in, loved and cared for by lightkeepers and their families. Today, lighthouses are automated and maintenance is carried out by members of the Coast Guard’s Aid to Navigation teams. None the less, they make great vacation memories and fantastic photo opportunities.

Lighthouse Lovers Love Maine

Portland Head Light - thanks jimmywayne
The great state of Maine is ideal for your lighthouse-themed RV vacation with an eye-popping 60 silent sentinels to explore. You might begin at the West Quaddy Lighthouse, the red and white striped easternmost light in the US then mosey south on Route 1 toward Acadia National Park visiting the Bass Harbor Light on Mt. Desert Island, further down the road ferry out to Monhegan Island, 11 miles from the mainland and marvel at the Mohegan Island Light. A little south of Portland stands Maine’s oldest light, Portland Head, completed in 1791 under the presidency of George Washington. 

While there do not miss the Cliff Walk Trail along the rocky coast. Wrap up your lighthouse RV adventure at one of Maine’s most photographed lights and it’s southernmost light - Cape Neddick Lighthouse in the charming town of York Beach (this light is sometimes referred to as the Nubble Light since it sits on Nubble Island). Cape Neddick's lens flashes red every six seconds – helping captains recognize where they are in a storm.   
California Lights Call

Alcatraz Island Light - thanks Chris D 2006
Without doubt, California is blessed with over 1,200 miles of fantastic shoreline. With the explosion of the gold rush it became quickly apparent that navigation aids were needed. Alcatraz Island is home to the West Coast’s first lighthouse, which met its maker in the 1906 earthquake. A new lighthouse was erected in 1909 and can still be seen from the mainland or up close on an Alcatraz Island tour. 

Futher south on US 1 in the small town of Pescadero stands the Pigeon Point Light which is also home to a youth hostel. Near Monterey, your lighthouse RV trip may take you to Point Pinos Lighthouse – the oldest continuously lit light on the west coast. Just north of picturesque Cambria (enjoy a stroll on the Moonstone Beach boardwalk) visit the Piedras Blancas Light – recently in renovation. At the southern end of the state in San Diego sits the Old Point Loma Lighthouse known as the nation’s tallest light built on an often fogged in point...making it relatively ineffective…thus the New Point Loma Lighthouse.

The Great Lakes and the Gulf Shores

Two Harbors Light - thanks puliarf
When I first set eyes upon Lake Superior it reminded me of an ocean I’d not yet seen. Waters that day were calm and lovely but the lake can become an enraged body of water swallowing up ships such as the Edmond Fitzgerald. Visit Two Harbors Light near Duluth or the spectacular lights of the Apostle Islands on Superior, the famous Grosse Point Light near Chicago on Lake Michigan (the lake with the most lighthouses), follow the Seaway Lighthouse Trail along Lake Ontario or plan a trip along Lake Huron or Erie for more spectacular lighthouses.

Louisiana, Texas, and Florida’s Gulf Coast sport the majority of lighthouses from Key West, Florida to Biloxi, Mississippi to the Tchefuncte River Lighthouse in Madisonville, Louisiana there’s so much to see.

What’s Your Pleasure?

The Carolinas, the Chesapeake Bay, Oregon, and Washington have several noteworthy lighthouses for your visiting pleasure as well. Pack your camper, mark your map, and set out on your uniquely-you themed RV vacation. These memories last a lifetime.  

Learn more about these and other remarkable lighthouses at PBS's Legendary Lighthouses and the follow up Legendary Lighthouses II.

Have you had a memorable lighthouse themed RV vacation? Do tell...leave a comment below. Meantime, happy camping everyone!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Book Review: The $100 Startup

Book Review: The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau


Whether you are a young fulltime RVer looking to earn enough to live a comfortable life on the road while making a difference, a retiree or part-time RVer interested in making a little gas money while exploring a passion, or a stick-home dweller that dreams of the freedom of the open road, The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau could be the start of something beautiful.

Personally, as a young fulltime RVer I’m constantly evaluating the important combination of freedom, passion, income, and doing work that matters in my life. When Chris asked me to review his new book I was delighted. After all, the premise fits our lifestyle like a glove. Read The $100 Startup and you’ll find it offers a concise roadmap for those seeking independence and to live life on their own terms. At minimum, it is guaranteed to get your wheels turning…metaphorically speaking.

Chris is clear, however, that starting and developing a successful ‘microbusiness’ (also called a lifestyle business) is indeed work, albeit a labor of love. The ‘do what you love and the rest will follow’ mindset is replaced by the more practical concept of convergence – ‘your passion + what others care about’. This important distinction and the way he fleshes it out can be very helpful, especially when pondering concepts.

Throughout the book you will be inspired by examples of people just like us that have unexpectedly or intentionally created businesses around what they have to offer and what others need. Some entrepreneurs profiled in the book have made a huge splash while others have quietly conquered their corner of the world.

Each chapter offers actionable and specific details on the topic at hand. Some examples are given in graphical or chart format and readers will find key points – or takeaways – at the end of each chapter. From concept to promotion to growth strategies to fear of failure, you can explore it all in this book.

Regardless of where you are in your life, your business or your relationships, Chris refers to Seth Godin’s mantra, ‘ship’, and offers this wise advice: ‘You don’t need anyone to give you permission to pursue a dream’. As a young fulltimer I can tell you that this is the absolute truth…or maybe you already know this from your own experience.

If this calls to your dream – whatever it may be – get this book, stop ‘making a living’, and start making a life. 

If you already operate a successful lifestyle business tell us about it in the comments section. I'd love to hear how you are making the lifestyle work.  

See you on the road, traveler.


Monday, April 9, 2012

White House Petition - Support Our Troops

Most of my readers, fans and followers are active campers and RVers, folks that love the great outdoors and recognize its affect on our our well-being. Enter a non-profit group called Tents for Troops with this mission:

Tents for Troops, Creating a Place to Enjoy Life Away From the Field, endeavors to ensure that all active members of the military and their families have access to the great outdoors and the joys that only a camping/RV vacation can provide. T4T achieves this by facilitating complimentary camping/RVing experiences, two nights-two sites, through private and public entities that build lasting memories and grow the outdoor industry.

Last week Tents for Troops launched a White House petition at the 'We the People' website asking President Obama to issue an executive order compelling parks/recreation areas on all federal lands to allow free camping for active military and active reserves. They need 25,000 signatures by May 1, 2012 to elevate this request to the administration and need your help. 

This program would make a huge difference to active members of the military and their families with very little or no cost to the government. Watch this short video about the petition:

Here's how the petition reads: 

'We believe the Obama Administration should…'
Issue an exec order compelling parks/rec areas on all federal lands to allow free camping for active military, reserves.
Our troops – active members of the military and active reserves – should not have to pay in order to enjoy the federal lands they are fighting to protect.
President Obama, please issue an executive order compelling parks and recreation areas on all federal lands to allow a minimum of two nights of free camping for active military, reserves and their immediate families, providing space is available.
Reservations would be required at all parks. This includes Nat’l and US Forest Svc Parks, BLM lands, RV parks/campgrounds owned by the military, and more.
Complimentary access to our national lands, the joys that a camping/RV vacation can provide, helping build and restore family bonds and make memories that last a lifetime is one small but significant way we can say ‘thank you for your service’.

Please visit the petition at http://wh.gov/nL8. In order to sign it you must register with your name and email address and must confirm your email address via a confirmation email message from the site. Once registered you may add your name to the support of this request. 

Feel free to share this link with everyone you know and encourage them to support our troops in this small but significant way.

Thanks for your support...together our voices are loud and clear. 

Happy camping - Evanne 
RV Cooking Show

Monday, March 19, 2012

New RV Cooking Show Episode: Maryland Eastern Shore Low Country Shrimp Boil

With springtime just a couple days away my traveling ambitions are once again beginning to stir. I’m starting to eye the atlas with intent, tracing my finger along roads that offer warm weather excursions, dreaming of sparkling blue water and dabbling in menus that are quick, easy, healthy and delicious.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Maryland’s Eastern Shore and enjoy the hospitality of my friends Russ, Jill and Ann at Holiday Park Campground in Greensboro. As we left the hustle-bustle of the city towards the shore, the drive lulled me and I was enjoying every single mile. Talk naturally turned to food – glorious, farm-fresh flavors – as we passed plentiful produce stands and rows and rows of corn.

Being surrounded by the bountiful Chesapeake Bay made this recipe a natural for our visit: Maryland Eastern Shore Low Country Shrimp Boil. In this episode you’ll learn about many places to visit during your stay on the Eastern Shore plus see how simple a low country boil is to prepare and how fun it is to share.

And just in case you want to give this recipe a try before picnic-table weather arrives, cover your kitchen table with an outdoor red checkered tablecloth and butcher paper, set out some cool drinks in summer-color cups and a great big roll of paper towels, invite a few friends over, crank up your favorite summertime tunes and have ball. After all, practice makes perfect, right?

After watching the show here you can learn more about the Eastern Shore, Holiday Park Campground and creating your own Maryland memories as well as additional recipe tips and tricks on the show page here. I’d love to hear about your seashore dreams and how you made this dish work for you…leave a comment below.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

This RVer's New Year Resolution - Your Money or Your Life

As fulltime RVers, my husband and I live unconventional lives but even so, the conditional pull of New Year’s resolutions can’t be denied. Often these annual goals include a financial mention: save more, earn more, trim the budget, track spending, make wise money decisions. Good for us, everyone – regardless of our situation – needs money to live. Some of us have unlimited resources but most are living on either retirement budgets or are still in the job market.

Years ago, before we hit the road, I stumbled upon a book that changed the way I see my relationship with money. In fact, one concept in the book propelled my husband and me to sell almost all of our possessions including our floating home, quit our jobs and embark upon our journey of a lifetime.

The Concept That Rocked My World

That book was Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin and the concept that stopped me in my tracks was on page 54: money is something we choose to trade our life energy for. Dominguez and Robin point out the obvious – life is finite, we only have so much time on earth. The big idea is the trade we make in life energy (time left) for the things we spend our money on. Every single spending decision we make costs something in life energy.

The "trading my life" idea stops me in my tracks. Based on average life expectancy tables I have 333,100 hours left on this earth. Dominguez and Robin assume we spend half of our lives taking care of ourselves – sleeping, bathing, exercising, etc. That means that if I live an average life span I have 166,550 hours left to devote to living. How I spend those hours is under my complete control.

The Concept in Practice

So how exactly can you determine the value of your life energy as it relates to money? For demonstration purposes, let’s say you make/made $25 per hour. That dinner out or bauble you simply must have costs $50. So, logically, you’d calculate that it took two hours of life energy (finite time left on this earth) to earn enough to purchase that experience or item. Right? Not so fast.

On it’s face that’s a reliable equation but the book urges you to dig deeper. Upon further examination, your wage is not exactly as it seems. Sure, you make/made $25 per hour but what expenses were associated with making that hourly? How much does/did it cost in fuel, vehicle maintenance, parking, clothing and personal care items such as aftershave, hair gel, and makeup required for your professional appearance, coffee and snack breaks, lunch, and other expenses associated with working. Let’s assume your total expenses divided by the number of working hours equaled $12 per hour. That means your “real hourly wage” is $13 per hour and in the scheme of things that $50 expense cost you almost four hours of your life. I repeat: four hours of your life.

Everything’s value and worth is an individual’s call. Exchanging life energy for things we need or want is a personal prerogative. I’ve got to have vehicle insurance and happen to like upscale RV resorts and high-end ingredients and tools in my RV kitchen. With this formula, I know exactly how much of my life I’m trading for these necessities or niceties and make an informed choice when I compare insurance plans, book a stay or go grocery shopping.

I’m less inclined to make rash purchases, pick up random trinkets or invest in items that don’t support my home or RV travel style. It’s simply not worth my life energy.

Fulfillment and the American Dream

While written as a financial advice book, chapter 4, “How Much is Enough? The Nature of Fulfillment”, resonates with the way I live. When is enough enough? Are we willing to trade our life energy for more? Do we work hard just keep up with the Jones?

For me, it all boils down to a question of value. Is a purchase, admission fee, meal out or even a campsite worth the life energy it will cost? Two of the three questions the authors pose in relation to spending “that will transform your life” remain relevant to my lifestyle:

1.    Did I receive fulfillment, satisfaction and value in proportion to life energy spent?
2.    Is this expenditure of life energy in alignment with my values and life purpose?

Chances are we’ve all returned home from a meal out and felt disappointed. I know I have. That’s why I don’t go out to dinner all that often. For the life energy I have available I’d much prefer to invite some friends over, mix up a shaker of fancy (read: very expensive out) cocktails, play some mood music, prepare a simple, delicious dinner in my RV kitchen and make an evening of it. That not only fulfills my cost/value proposition but also fuels my life purpose of connecting with others, making a difference and living my passion.

Another great example is my purchase of a new computer. It cost a heck of a lot of life energy but makes my life so much easier. The value I receive by a faster, more intuitive system and the way it helps me promote my passion makes it a fulfilling, worthy expenditure. 

Your purpose, passion and even life energy situation is just that – yours and yours alone. If you give it any thought you’ll realize that consciously or unconsciously you are making value calls every time you make a purchase.  

We All Make Choices

Choosing to live this RV lifestyle is a huge confirmation of how I want to spend my life energy, my passion and my life’s purpose. It’s a very public statement of who I am and what I stand for. Without a stick home I have low housing overhead. Living in a small space restricts the number of things I can carry around. Having the freedom to live where I want, when I want allows me to enjoy new environments and experiences. The fuel I purchase to move about is well worth the price…even at $5/gallon.

While I used to enjoy fancy vacations and expensive wine (who wouldn’t, really), I paid for it in life energy. I now know and accept that fact. Today I’m more satisfied than ever watching the sun set over the rugged mountain range or seashore that I happen to be closest to with a thrifty glass of wine and my sweetie by my side. Some people just can’t comprehend this but that’s okay, too. We all have to choose…so what will it be...your money or your life?

Happy New Year RV Cooking Show friends. May 2012 be a banner year for us all!


Note: To this day I carry around my 1992 version of Your Money or Your Life, Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. Upon it’s release Oprah Winfrey raved, “This is a wonderful book. It can really change your life.” I suppose it did change mine. In 2009 Robin released a revised and updated version for the 21st century. You can learn more about the author and these concepts as well as purchase the book by visiting www.YourMoneyorYourLife.org. I’d love to hear about your experiences on this topic.

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