Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Double Duty (Part One)

Living full-time in a small motorhome means having things do double and triple duty or be wildly multi-functional.  If you are living on an "efficient" budget like me, then many things are recycled long before they hit the official recycle bins. 

I recently discovered that having heavy spring loaded clamps in assorted sizes are indispensable in traveling. Actually I snagged this piece of advice from  someone else's blog a long time ago and made a note on my endless wish list. They are far stronger than ordinary clothes pins. You can buy them in various sizes (recommended) to accommodate different thicknesses. While setting up my picnic table, I grabbed two heavy spring clamps to hold the tablecloth in place.  I can tie it down with string later or just continue to use the clamps.  

Amazon has hundreds of spring clamps to choose from.
I have both plastic and metal ones in assorted sizes.
They are all pushed into use quite often. 

I've noticed that if I don't immediately secure my table cloth, as soon as I turn my back to roll out the patio mat or set up chairs, the cloth will simply sail away on the next zephyr to lawd-knows-where. 

Snapping on the clamps is fast and fun. I've also strung up outdoor lights with the smaller clamps, using the awning for attachment. This works really well and makes hanging lights a quick chore.

I've tried various picnic table cloth clips.  My motohome came with 3 different types of table cloth clips.  I've tried all three types. Most are in the garbage now, having broken beyond use.  Four others that are  ornamental pewter (but useless) have somehow become part my bathroom decor, dangling off a dream catcher

My experience is ordinary table cloth clips are a waste of money. They are typically so feeble that any wind beyond a whispered breeze will snap them to pieces or the metal is so flimsy it rusts if you stare at it cross-eyed. I guess the former owners were fed up too, as they tried various table cloth clips that never seemed to work at all and left all three types with the motorhome. 


That coffee can is my outdoor garbage bin. It's amazing how many times while outside, I need a little garbage can.  Sometimes I have to clean up a camping lot when I arrive if the last people were slobs.  Some folks stomp out cigarette butts all over the ground which I pick back up. Obviously they need a recycled coffee can too.  

I reuse the coffee can over and over for garbage, until I have the next empty coffee can to replace it with, then the old one goes in the dump.  Even when putting things away to travel, I carry the latest coffee can with me in the basement storage bin to the next spot. Sometimes while at the dump station or stopped for a break, I end up with gloves or crap or dog poop to throw out or something.  I can just stick it in the coffee can in the basement, without having to re-enter the motorhome. 

My patio mat is woven out of recycled plastic and self draining. It lets enough air through that if there is grass beneath it, it's not likely to die unless I am parked for over a month. (Rarely!)

Harley's tether and toys are shown in the background.  He loves it when we set up the outdoor den and promptly fetches his toys to stake out his play ground. 

Picnic Tables and Benches...

If you're like me, 97% of the time the camping spot will come with an ugly picnic table.  I like to dress mine up a little to make it functioning furniture while I am parked. Where ever those nice new picnic tables are, it's never the spot they assign me. 

When my throw rugs finally lost their rubber soles, they slipped and slid around the motorhome enough I had to buy new rugs to keep from breaking my silly neck in the winter. 

But the old rugs still had great carpet, just virtually no rubber backing left. It seemed a shame to relegate them to the dump. Now they are in use as a picnic bench cover. This makes that old crappy picnic table that came with my lot look 100% better. My spoiled little dog, also enjoys the carpet on the benches for his little behind. 

Shown is two old carpet runners overlapping, with a bungee cord in the middle to hold them down. They can still be cleaned with a garden hose and put into use a while longer as bench seats.  Note; when storing little carpet runners, it's best to roll them up rather than fold them. They will take up a lot less space and not develop creases. 

In a  messy campground, say there is mud and rain, I can use them on the ground outside near my front door to help mitigate the mess being tracked inside by one mermaid and an enthusiastic puppy. 

Be lazy...

I drag the picnic table over to the edge of the patio mat, then use it to anchor down that side of the mat. Later, I can hammer in tent stakes to hold the rest of the mat down if the winds deem it necessary. I usually have my card table set up under the awning with chairs. I can dine or type at the card table yet have the picnic table for a pot-luck with other campers or to spread out one of my projects. I'm always trying to fix, repair or improve something.  I don't really know what I am doing most of the time, but unseen angels often guide my unsteady hands.  Not sure how this works, but it does. 


If you enjoy the outdoors as much as I do, then you'll want picnic table accouterments. I like to use both the picnic table and the folding card table, because I have so many projects going on or I want room for a friend or two or more to be able to visit. A vinyl or oilcloth table cloth backed with flannel will last a very long time. 

The secret to keeping it looking new and removing ugly stains or sticky messes (believe me, birds fly overhead...)  is to stick it in the washing machine by itself. You may want to wash with bleach or use hot water or both, in addition to regular soap. Don't stick it in the dryer (big ugly mess if you do). A hot water wash will make it very pliable when you hang it up to finish drying.  Shake and smooth out the wrinkles or it will dry all wrinkly.  You can also just clip it to a picnic table, like above and it dries in place rather quickly. 

Picnic tables come in all sizes. From the teeny tiny that barely hold 4 people with skinny butts to the el grande that seat 10-12.  It helps to have two identical table cloths, to cover those jumbo picnic tables some parks include at your site. 

This festive fabric is on my wish list for a picnic tablecloth. It is flannel backed vinyl, being sold by the yard on amazon along with dozens of other designs to choose from. 

The heavy metal spring clamps are holding the white blanket to the right as a curtain in the picture below. I was getting ready for a pot-luck meal with other campers at my gazebo.  Certain times of the day, the sun could be blinding.  With the spring clamps, I could move the curtain to block off a whole panel. The blanket is lightweight, blocking the sun without blocking the light. It's also nice for company on a chilly evening. One day I folded it up, then set it in a chair to keep it from getting wet during a downpour. Harley hopped in the chair, rearranged the blanket until he thought it was comfy then settled in for a nap. 

I guess you could say it's multi-functional, doing more than double duty. 


  1. Thank you for sharing your tricks, MIss Guru Mermaid. Some very good ideas.

  2. I'm pathetic. I found pink flamingo clips on clearance at WalMart last year. I didn't need them really, but I HAD to have them!!


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