By Janet Groene, F47166
For years, the U.S. Government Printing Office has been a good source of helpful publications on every topic from saving money on groceries to maps of major Civil War battles. But did you know that you can order government booklets online and save the $2 service fee?
Want your vital records? A $4.25 booklet lists state offices to contact and tells you how to submit your request. Want to take action against a merchant who cheated you? Order the free Consumer Action Handbook or go to ConsumerAction.gov. Want a map of major battle sites in the American Revolution? It’s only $2. Interested in finding tips to help prevent a stroke? It’s a buy at $1. A DVD that gives a workshop on tax management for your small business costs only $1, and you can use it all year. A booklet on how to prevent identify theft is free, and for $1, you can get information on how to improve your credit score.
Choose from long lists of topics in categories such as Cars, Computers, Education, Employment, Family, Federal Programs, Food, Health, Housing, Money, Small Business, and Travel. The list of booklets available for free or fee is found at www.pueblo.gsa.gov. You also can request a catalog of government publications from the Federal Citizen Information Center by calling (888) 878-3256. Note that the catalog is free by mail, but mail orders for publications include a $2 service fee.
Full-timers forum. This month we asked forum members to name three appliances they find invaluable, no matter how bulky or heavy they might be. For example, a bread maker is very heavy, yet many of us won’t settle for anything but fresh-baked bread. A number of our forum participants named it as an essential. A sewing machine also showed up on several lists. That’s another bulky item, but it can provide hours of fun, creativity, and money savings.
Here are some of the appliances our forum members can’t be without.
- Bread maker: It’s an essential to many of our forum members, making it possible for them to have fresh, hot, healthful bread anywhere and anytime. Try making the bread with different flours, herbs, dried fruits, and nuts when you carry this versatile appliance.
- Electric griddle: One full-timing couple said that they love their electric griddle, which they use both indoors and out. What fun it must be to have Sunday morning pancake potlucks! Another full-timer noted that her griddle is a pain to store, but it’s great for big batches of toasted cheese sandwiches. Others didn’t specify what type of griddle they carry, but I like a non-electric, aluminum griddle that fits over two gas burners to create one large cooking/frying surface. It also fits most standard, stanchion-style grills found in parks and campsites.
- Electric toothbrush: Few of our panelists mentioned bathroom appliances, although one woman listed her hair dryer. Tooth care tools were mentioned by only one panelist but are worth considering. Rechargeable and battery models are available. Electric flossers and water jets also are available.
- Food processor: It’s worth carrying when you do a lot of Asian cooking, said Karen Dopher, F5445. The Dophers also carry a special barbecue for this type of cooking. Lots of chopping and slicing are involved, and Karen finds a food processor a real time saver.
- Grills of all sizes, types, and shapes: Most of our forum members gave grills an enthusiastic “thumbs up.” What better way to make friends in the campground than to fire up the barbie? Al and Donna Vollmer, F227354, and Lola Hattox, F205312, mentioned their George Foreman grills specifically, and Karen Dopher gave credit to her Weber grill-smoker for her famous smoked prime rib.
- Magic Bullet: This is a “great invention” opined one panel member. It’s a new kind of blender, ideal for making smoothies and many other treats.
- Microwave oven: This appliance is so common in today’s motorhomes that many panel members didn’t name it. Most of those who did emphasized their preference for a microwave-convection oven.
- Oven: One full-timer said that microwave-convection ovens are fine, but she would never want to be without a conventional oven.
- Sewing machine: Several panelists mentioned their sewing machines. Phyllis Denison, F69770, said, “I carry a Husqvarna Viking Designer machine with embroidery unit. It’s heavy and bulky, but I love to quilt and sew, so it’s worth the space.” Phyllis and her husband, Charles, are full-timers and Workampers.
- Slow cooker: They’re all bulky, and those with pottery crock inserts are heavy as lead, but many panel members love the convenience and homemade quality of foods cooked low and slow. “We love pots of beans, stews, corned beef, pot roast, soups, and so on,” said Karen Dopher. “We use it when we are set up in camp or, when traveling down the road, we put it in the sink. Dinner is ready when we get home.”
- Toaster oven: “Ours is 600 watts,” explained Robert and Carol Heiser, F188848. Because toaster ovens come in so many sizes, the challenge is to find one that will do the oven baking you want but not be too large if you use it mostly for making toast. “Puzzles me how we ever had time to work,” quipped the Heisers. “Our only problem with retirement is not enough time.”
- Vacuum: This is another item that is so common that many didn’t list it, but one panel member praised his central vacuum system. Another recommended a small, stand-up Eureka that sells at mass marketers for approximately $40. It has a power brush, is adjustable, and has a cord long enough that it can be plugged in at the center of the coach to clean the entire RV without having to change outlets.
- Washer-dryer: Adding a washer and dryer or a combination washer-dryer unit requires a major commitment to space and weight, but those on our panel who have them really love them. “I just purchased them,” said Sandi Vanni, F371886, “and I’d never be without them again.”
- Workshop tools: Kirk Singer, F372258, is the only one who mentioned workshop tools. He said he couldn’t be without his cordless drill and his air compressor.
Next full-timers forum question
If you are a pet owner, what tips do you have for other full-timers on the go in regard to pet health, safety, and nuisance problems? If you’re not a pet owner, air your gripes about full-timers with pets. Any full-timer who has e-mail is welcome to participate in the forum. Send your input to [email protected]. Please include your name and FMCA family membership number or indicate that you’d prefer to remain anonymous.
A previous forum dealt with shredding and identity theft, and some late-comers were heard from on the topic. All except a handful carry a shredder with them. Many do almost all their sensitive dealings online, paying careful attention to firewalls and frequent password changes. Two panelists mentioned that they put shredded paper in the nastiest, wettest bag of garbage they can find. It’s one more security step.
Did you know that free college classes are available to Georgia residents over the age of 62 at the University of Georgia in Athens or 34 other public institutions that are part of the University System of Georgia? To find out which colleges and universities are included, visit www.usg.edu.