Life Update – I’m an Engineer Now ;)

I’m back… πŸ™‚  

I got a text from a friend this week that whipped my brain matter into a froth. It was a screenshot from a tweet she sent out last year…

Already??!!  I remember like it was yesterday… and I wish to God I could forget the song!!

This past year has been both the shortest AND the longest string of three hundred and sixty-five days in all of my 40 years. At times it has felt like a complete whirlwind where I couldn’t catch my breath, and others it felt like I was walking through mud…where I also couldn’t catch my breath, but for completely different reasons. In an effort to not make this a 10k* word post, I am going to gloss over almost everything except the key highlights:

  • June 2018 – Bought the Caboose
  • June 2018 – Moved to Denver
  • Summer 2018 – Went to FinCon, Camp Mustache, and every CampFI of 2018 (minus the second Florida weekend)
  • 2018/2019 – Spent a lot of time in Georgia
  • 2018/2019 – Spent a few minutes swimming upstream in the mainstream media (more on that in a later post).
  • 2018/2019 – Spent nominal amounts of time at work
  • 2019 – Had a lovely vacation in Europe where, amongst other things, I lived in a castle and dined on Pannekoek
  • May 2019 – Moved to Lake Geneva for the summer

Whew!  I’m finally taking a moment to breathe before summer gets into full swing. Marla, my friend and caboose neighbor, is set to arrive next week which will get the 2019 season kicked off right.  We have a lot of visitors due for visits (see your invite below!) in the coming months but I also have FinCon, Lola Retreat, a trip to Vancouver, and a possible jaunt through Spain (still in the planning stages) to look forward to.  To round it all out, another move awaits me in October.  Something tells me I am set for another whirlwind of a year.  But first, the present…

Now that I live in a train car, I can somewhat declare that I am a locomotive engineer. OK, so there is no engine to speak of, but I am maintaining/living in the area which the engineers’ who once worked on the engine used to use as an office. That must count for something, right? Plus, I have these kick-ass locomotive engineer overalls so it’s officially official via my wardrobe at least…I am an engineer.

So what can I tell you about caboose living that I haven’t already?

Last year I spent several weekends up here and loved every minute of it. Visiting is one thing, but there is a significant learning curve to living in any small space.  For example, my caboose measures 8 x 28 ft long (giggles all around) or 224 sq ft. The bathroom takes up a large portion of that area weighing in at 49 sq ft. In the remaining 175 sq ft, I have managed to carve small but defined areas for my “kitchen”, bedroom, and living room spaces which is absolutely key to living tiny.

I’ve done very little to the inside since last season, but I figured I would share some photos with you regardless. Here is the before:

And the after:

I downsized from a queen to a full-size bed and bought my first ever new mattress!! There is something quite refreshing knowing that no one else has ever slept in your bed.  Perhaps it is that most of my life has been spent hopping from bed to bed in various hotels across the country for work (minds out of the gutter, please) or maybe all the hand me downs from family and friends over the years.  As grateful as I am to all the past mattresses that hosted my slumber, there is nothing more peaceful than a good nights sleep on a mattress you picked out yourself.  This may very well be the epitome of adulting for me.  Total cost for new bed/mattress – $442 and worth EVERY penny.

In other news, I removed a weird wall that had been covering up some much-needed storage space.  I was delighted to find two directors chairs instead of a bag of bones behind it.


This area will eventually become a real closet space but, for now, it is open and a bit ugly as I truly detest clutter.  If I feel particularly motivated, I might make a curtain to hide it better. In the meantime, my bed covers most of it and the parts that aren’t covered make it handy to reach my tools when I need them. 

Again, not much changed in the living space beside my fabulous new bed and the hidden storage space, but the “kitchen” has had some minor tweaks worth mentioning.



Pretty pitiful.  And now:


Still pitiful but far more functional.  I ditched the microwave for my toaster oven, tore out the useless sliding door, added deeper shelves and spaced them better, added two new shelves (yes, one indeed is in front of the electrical panel), a bunch of hooks, and we’re in biz.  The biggest change was my fridge which now has a FREEZER!!  I mean, I don’t want to brag or anything but this bad boy can hold a 12-inch pizza.  And it does. 

4.3 cubic feet of faux stainless steel goodness right here:

Don’t you love looking in other peoples refrigerators??

Total cost for “kitchen” updates – $191 which was the cost of the new fridge minus the $20 I got from selling the old fridge.  That old fridge is now living its best life as a  dedicated wine fridge to a Craigslister.  The rest of the updates were free using things I already had in the caboose.  I have BIG plans for some other BIG updates that would hopefully lead to a REAL kitchen but they are currently pending approval from the board and a little help from some friends.  Keeping my fingers crossed!!

What the caboose lacks in interior sq footage, the outside space more than makes up for it. Marla and I share a giant, private, and quite luxurious 500 sq ft deck between our two units. It makes for a perfect party deck with two grills, lots of seating, and the forest as a backdrop.  My caboose also has a little patch of grass off the back that I wasted no time claiming. I spent $117 building and filling my new garden box with dirt and assorted veggies.  Soon after, this beautiful fucker tried to claim it back…

CAUGHT!! I’m happy to say only 3 cherry tomatoes were lost in the taking of these photos.  I quickly put an end to that nonsense with the addition of this wizardry:


I can honestly say that I can’t remember the last time I was this proud of a single day’s work!!  Perhaps I am an engineer after all…  Total cost to keep the deer out? $65 and one hammer-smashed finger.  

On a finance-related note, besides the original cost of 36k, the yearly cost to operate each caboose is $1800 in assessments (all utilities included) and $500 in taxes. Divided over the course of the 5-month season, it’s equal to $460/month which is also equal to a 3-4 night hotel stay in the same area. If I keep my other expenses such as food, travel, etc low, living here could be quite the bargain! Of course, due to all my repairs and improvements totaling $815, that was not the case this month.  Thankfully, it was also not the norm.  It’s times like this that I like to remind myself that I was spending $1175/month on rent in Denver.  Let me tell ya, it’s a lot easier for me to spend on my own place than on someone else’s!!

Despite my joy for tiny house living and the low cost associated with it, being in the caboose is just the icing on the cake which is Lake Geneva itself. Between the lake, free concerts and movies in the park, the farmers market, and the many free library activities like learning sign language and how to play Mahjong (!), there is always something going on.  Lake Geneva was made for summer fun and it’s nice to know there is so much activity and excitement within a 7-minute walk!!

Given everything above with the cake and the icing, the cherry on top of living in this unique home with this idyllic setting is that there is no shortage of visitors!  Since last years shenanigans, it has now become a tradition to do some kind of ridiculous photo shoot with all who pass through. Here are a few of my recent favs…


It never gets old.  

Do you have any summer plans??  Let me know if our paths will cross!!

Until next time…



Ready for your own photo shoot??  

My friend Josh Overmyer (aka FIRE Twitter MVP) is coming to visit so I am hosting a weekend of meetups on August 24 & August 25 in Lake Geneva, WI.  We are still rocking our 70k Step Challenge so it’s only right that we rope some of you into it!

Here’s the plan…

Saturday, 8/24:
7am – North Half Lake Hike (appx 11 miles)
11am Lunch at Chucks in Fontana, WI
**Free time for swimming/exploring**
3pm – Potluck BBQ at my Caboose

Sunday 8/25
7am – South Half Lake hike. (appx 12 miles)
11am Lunch at Chucks in Fontana, WI
**Free time for swimming/exploring**
3pm – Potluck BBQ at my Caboose

The lake is 23 miles around and takes 7.5 hours to hike, not including stops. 

If you want to stay in Lake Geneva overnight, there are a ton of options!! Airbnb, camping at Big Foot Beach State Park, and a bunch of hotels. If you plan to join us for the lake hike or BBQ, please RSVP to so I can get a head count and send out more information such as the meeting spot, what to bring, and what to be prepared for route-wise. Be specific with your plans in your email so I know what dates/events to count you in for.  Due to space limitations, the Potluck BBQ will be capped at 20 people each day so please don’t take a space unless you plan to attend and/or let me know if your plans have changed so I can fill your spot. If you want to show up just for lunch, you know where we will be and at what time -> 11am at Chucks Lakeshore Inn on both days.  It’s an easy place to have a large group since all food orders happen at a window and you can pay as you go at the bar.  

IF IT RAINS…  The Potluck BBQ/Hike will be weather permitting but we WILL still meet at Chuck’s on both days and the rest we will figure out as we go. It will all be in the email. πŸ™‚ Either way, if you book a hotel/room, there will be meetups of some sort that weekend so fear not!!  

PS – Please excuse all typos and other mistakes you might find.  It was important for me to push publish TODAY and not procrastinate another minute.  Also, THANK YOU if you are still reading despite my looooong absence.  That means the world to me.  Truly.

*1805 not counting this footnote.

18 thoughts on “Life Update – I’m an Engineer Now ;)

  1. Gwen is the worst at getting camp songs stuck in your head!

    Love the changes and definitely love the deer fence! Deer are the worst when it comes to gardens—glad only three cherry tomatoes were sacrificed haha.


  2. Daggum! We’ll be in Northern Michigan during the meetup. Would’ve been a fun trip especially for the kiddos to see the train cars.

    Good to see you actually got off your duff to write, despite how crazy your work schedule has been…. wink wink — Sincerely, the Golden Nameplate Police.


    1. In that case, I will have to have another meetup weekend in the fall!! πŸ˜‰

      And thank you for the very encouraging words. It occurred to me I was halfway through the year and haven’t done anything Golden Namelplate worthy. Time to kick it into high gear!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Omg!!!! The caboose is DARLING!!!! πŸ’–πŸš‚ What a beautiful tiny home you have. So happy for you! 😘

    Thank you for the inspiration! I will set a goal to update my blog now. You inspire me! 😁


    1. Haha – I think we are on a similar postig schedule!! If you guys happen to be out this way, let me know. MDW and MKE are short drives…maybe on an overnight? πŸ™‚


    1. Hey Joe! Come on out for a visit. You can see all the grandeur that is Lake Geneva and why I thought it was the perfect spot during our FinCon Meeting of the Minds. 😘


  4. lifeoutsidethemaze

    A toaster oven is at least 200% better than a microwave and even your before pictures are pretty impressive. I kind of want to live in a caboose now but I don’t think my family of 4 would fit. Glad to see a new flavor packed post Miss Mazuma. Also, you mentioned a possible trip to Spain and I literally just got back this week from a trip through Andalusia. I am already missing my cheap wine and olives 😦 aye que lastima


    1. The cheap wine and olives are the only reason I’m going. πŸ˜‚

      Thank you for your kind words. The before I had very little to do with since they included all of the furniture BUT I had the good sense to buy this caboose over a more dreadful one a few years back. So that counts! As for the family of 4, that might be a tight squeeze. Are they they? Maybe you can make them sleep on the deck… πŸ˜‰


  5. Firstly, YAY a Miss Mazuma blog post!!
    Second, you got a “fucker” in there in a totes adorable way (if you think giant rats are cute… I grew up in farm country, so they’re just large rodents)
    3rd, I expected the 10k* to refer to steps!
    Last but not least, I AM SO FUXKING EXCITED for this trip!! Thank you so much for the invite, and I will see you soon(ish)!!!!


    1. I LOVE giant rats!! I do not like them eating my dinner. πŸ™‚

      I am so excited for our weekend extravaganza! The ChooseFI Chicago and Wiscosin pages have quite a few people confirmed “going”for the meetups but no emails yet so I don’t know which parts they are confirming for. Damn it if we are walking this lake by ourselves!!


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