Finishing Up Minor Projects

We haven’t had a whole lot going on as far as the remodel is concerned. Admittedly, we took a little time off. I’ve completed a couple of minor projects lately, though, so here’s a little update on that:

I finally finished a sewing project! I set out to make a curtain for Peanut’s toy cabinet and a curtain to replace the broken “wood” panel on the over-the-sink bathroom cabinet. I’m happy to report that I’ve completed both. (I have an unfortunate habit of starting DIY projects and getting bored or frustrated halfway through, thus leaving them to die sad deaths in closets and under beds.)

Peanut’s toy cabinet originally had two doors on it. They suffered the same fate as the bathroom cabinet. At some point before we obtained The R, the panels had broken/fallen out/gone to particle board heaven thus leaving only the frames of the cabinet doors.

We removed the doors and used a box cutter and a pair of pliers to remove the panel that went between the two doors. That opened up the space a lot. I then put contact paper on the shelves to brighten it a little bit, and started on the curtain.

It’s a simple panel with Velcro at the top. I attached the other half of the Velcro to the wood using E6000. That held for a little while, but Peanut gets a little excited ripping the curtain off the Velcro, so we ended up having to reinforce it with a couple of screws.

The bathroom curtain was a little more complicated. MH wanted it pleated so that it would have a bit of depth to it. It took a very long time to measure and pin everything so that it was even, but the actual sewing didn’t take long at all with the machine.

Bathroom cabinet


For those of you who actually know how to sew, bear with me. I’m still learning and am kind of fascinated by my sewing machine.

We’ve finished painting the cabinets in the “living room”, which has helped to brighten things up a little bit. Lucky, because the Christmas lights we were using for lighting on that end of The R blew a fuse and we can’t find the extras. We have a lamp in there now, but it’s much too dim in the evenings. We’re working on an alternative lighting solution, but haven’t come up with any solid ideas yet.

Cabinets over the sofa


I’ve also put plastic sheeting up over the majority of our windows. Our friendly neighbor, Teresa, suggested that we get thin plastic (almost Saran wrap thin) and hang it up with heavy duty double-sided tape around the window frames. I’d been avoiding putting up plastic because most of the ones I’ve seen like that have very heavy plastic on the outside of the windows, which would remove the little bit of natural light and visibility I have left. The thinner option, however, is hung inside and has almost the same results. Teresa claims a 20 degree difference.

What we’re basically doing is creating a double-paned window. The air pocket created between the glass window and the plastic sheeting provides insulation and prevents drafts from aging window seals.

I went to Home Depot and got Frost King Shrink tape. I probably could’ve done this with regular double sided tape, but it was actually cheaper to buy it this way. I used what I assume is an old drop cloth that our friend picked up somewhere. It’s always good to be able to use something that someone else has thrown away.

Supplies for windows


The application is really simple. You just make a frame around the window with the tape, making sure that you don’t have any gaps.

Apply the tape as so.


Then you remove the paper from the tape and press the plastic along the seam. You want to make sure that it’s taut, but not so tight that it tears the plastic.

 

You’ll want to trim the excess plastic a bit after just so it looks a little nicer.

It’s made a little bit of a difference. I’m going to cover the windshield and front windows tonight. Hopefully that will help a bit, too. We’re having a bit of a cold snap, and it’s way too cold for comfort inside, even with extra layers of clothes, good blankets, and dogs.

Speaking of dogs, we have a new addition to the family! One of our neighbors is no longer able to care for his Dachshund, so we offered to take him in. MH has wanted a camper-sized dog for a while, and is very happy to have one.

Sparky and Sadie seem to get along well now that they’ve had a couple of days to get used to each other.

Bedtime is 9pm for *all* creatures under 5ft tall

The Baby Mama Drama (with a capital “D” on purpose) has worsened. I have few nice things to say, so I will leave it at this: Bless her heart.

We have a few things planned for the weekend, so hopefully I’ll have some exciting news to share on Monday. Thanks for tuning in!

What do you mean, you’ve never climbed a tree before?

Sorry I’ve been out of touch for a while. We’ve had some changes on the home front, which has led to less time to devote to The R. We’ve also had some really good weather lately, so I don’t want to be inside working or writing when I could be outside in the sunshine. We’ve been fairly productive, though, so I thought an update is in order. I’ll split it up for ya, so it’s not too much all at once.

MH has a new job! That’s obviously not an issue, but it’s led us to have to rework our schedule a little bit so I’ve had a bit less time to work on this site (but a bit more to actually do stuff, which is nice). He’s working second shift now. I would love for him to be able to work first shift, so that we’d be off at the same time, but the second shift does really work better for our schedule, at least for now. His job is super close to the campground, so he can walk to work (it’s a 10 minute walk if you take it slow), and it lets him see people all day which he really enjoys.

There are obvious advantages to him working so close. He can walk, which means we don’t have to drive back and forth to my job and his when our schedules conflict. That means his job has absolutely no cost. Most people’s job’s cost them money before they make money. Transportation costs, lunch money, time to commute, therapy to deal with your boss/co-worker/road rage related neuroses… Fortunately, MH’s new job is 100% gain for us, and convenient to boot! Peanut and I frequently take Sadie on walks to visit during slow periods at the store, which is good for everybody. Speaking of Peanut…

We’ve had a bit of a problem lately with Peanut’s mom. We’ve had a pretty good relationship with her, historically, and she and I get along well. Due, I assume, to some lifestyle changes in her world lately, she’s been very difficult about sticking to our pre-arranged custody switch schedule. Obviously schedules change and things come up. What has been frustrating is the intentional lack of communication. Dealing with that has been a headache and heartache for all involved (except the Peanut, who is thankfully oblivious), but I hope that things will improve. I’m grateful that Baby Mama has made the same effort we have to keep Peanut from overhearing anything negative about her other parent. At least in that respect, everyone is handling this situation in a mature way.

While we’re talking about the second generation, one of our neighbors is struggling a bit lately, so we’ve been trying to involve her son in more of our activities. Monkey is 7 and has really enjoyed playing with Peanut.

Peanut and Monkey climbing trees

She’s had a blast having a playmate, too. She was shocked when she learned he’d never climbed a tree before. He seems to be catching on nicely.

Of course, I’ve appreciated being able to kick them out of the house to run around in the sun, get nice and dirty and tired, and generally enjoy being a kid. There’s been rope swinging and tree climbing and super-hero pretend games galore! It’s kind of rewarding to watch, especially when they don’t know you’re looking.

Children in their natural habitat

 

We’ve been getting to know our neighbors a bit better in the past couple of weeks. Everyone’s continued to be very friendly. There’s a lot of drama, but we’re pretty insulated from it since we just sort of smile and nod. Life at the campground is kind of like life in any small, rural town except the neighbors are much, much closer. Everyone knows everything about everybody (or thinks they do), and is happy to chat with you about it. I’m beginning to find out who will have a legitimate conversation with me, and who just wants to talk about a third party’s personal problems. I think it’s important to be pleasant to everyone, but I will try to avoid getting sucked in to the gossip. Some people just take Schadenfruede a little too far…

That being said, most of the interactions we have with our neighbors are awesome. We’ve made some new friends with common interests and it’s nice to know that there’s always someone around who will lend you a screwdriver when you’ve lost yours. (P.S., Said screwdriver was later located on the roof.)

All in all, it’s been pretty good lately. I’ll have another update post out in a bit that tells you a little more about the progression inside The R. Thanks for sticking around!

Skylight Saga

Our skylight doesn’t leak anymore! Also, it’s much brighter in The R these days.

As you know, our skylight leaked badly after The Great Switcheroo (though the air conditioner has dropped one whole pants size and seems happy in its new home). Unlike the skylight/vent in the bathroom, this one was meant only for lighting and decorative purposes. It was also a very opaque plastic. Part of that was grime, I’m sure, but the majority of the dimness of the skylight was by design. …I know. It doesn’t make sense to me, either.

Well, in the process of trying to remove and repair the skylight so that I could stop using my pots and pans as rainwater catchment devices, MH tore the cover. As it turns out, the cover was made of remarkably thin plastic. … And we thought it leaked before. What a mess!

At this point, our options were:

1)      Try to find a replacement skylight for a 23 year old motor home at a very low price;

2)      Try to repair the leaks while leaving the skylight intact-ish;

3)      Cover the skylight entirely; or

4)      Replace it with something not really a skylight per se.

Naturally, we eventually chose Door #4, via a  detour through Door #2.

We went to the Lowe’s in search of roof patch materials. Knowing essentially nothing about roofing, we stood there looking dumbfounded for quite some time. We finally decided that we’d put rubberized roof patch (in a tube, requires caulk gun) around the skylight, lay some patching fabric (like a cross between drywall tape and landscaping fabric) and paint over the whole thing with rubberized roof sealant (in a bucket like paint, requires push-broom type applicator brush, or paint roller?) followed by a good coat of white paint. Because a black pitch roof in August in The South is an Exchange Student program in Purgatory. I promise. All of our sealant purchases included Use in wet or dry conditions on the label. This was important, as it had been raining off and on for several days, and wasn’t likely to stop.

Here I’d like to make a few suggestions for those whose children are not interested in roofing. The ceiling fan, door, and paint sections are your friends. The rope and chain section is not. An example from the door section: “Ooh, look! This one has a flower on it!” “Yes, it’s stained glass. Isn’t it pretty?” An example from the rope section: “Look how much rope I measured!” “Yes, that’s 50 feet. Let’s put it back now.”

On our way out, we stopped to look at Plexi-glass. The thought had been eating away at both of us, apparently. We settled on a “50X Stronger Than Glass!!” Optix plastic. Our helpful Lowe’s associate told us that we could cut it with a box cutter, but that it would absolutely stand up to the elements and meet our needs.

It was true. MH cut the plexi to size, caulked the seams, and put weight on it to keep it in place. The first thing we noticed was a shocking increase in the amount of natural light we had in The R. Most of our windows are covered by blankets or heavy curtains right now because of the cold weather. The glass itself does not insulate well, and many of the seams are in need of a good seal. While this does help to keep us warm at night, it leaves a lot to be desired as far as lighting is concerned. The skylight alone, even on a cloudy day, provided us with as much light as the artificial lights (lamps, Christmas lights) we’ve been using. It also made waking up much easier as The R wasn’t kept in such a state of artificial night.

But does it leak??

We had awful weather last night. We were under severe thunderstorm warnings, wind advisories, and so on. At about 11:30 pm, after an hour or so of fairly heavy rain, we heard what sounded like water falling onto carpet. We immediately jumped up, turned on the lights, and went in search of the leak. Our search was fruitless. We couldn’t find a leak!

It continued to rain for some time after that. The true test is not rainfall, really. It’s water that pools on the roof during and after heavy rainfall that seemed to be causing our leaks before. So this morning, as I was ambling around The R in my sock feet, it occurred to me. There was no unpleasant sensation of wet socks. The floor is dry! We checked the seals around the skylight and they, too, are dry!

MH did it! We have a water-tight skylight! Let’s hope we continue to be victorious.

Weekend Wrap-Up

Here’s a little bit more information about some of the weekend projects.

We did finish up the bookshelf this weekend, much to everyone’s delight.

The area originally held two drawers and had some unusable space under the bottom drawer. It was an oddly shaped area because of the wheel well, and the previous owner had apparently been using it to store stamps and dust bunnies.

You’ll be able to see it better in the finished pictures, but the first thing we did (after removing the drawers) was to cut a large hole in the side of the cabinet. We used a Sawz-All, but probably could’ve done the job with a box cutter. The side of the cabinet is nothing but very thin particle board.

Note: When cutting into cabinetry, be sure to check for any electrical wiring that may run through that area. Otherwise, you might zap yourself.

We pinned the wires for the light switch back, marked the area to be removed, and went to town.

The drawers sat on thin (1”x1” ish) supports that we thought we’d take advantage of. We removed the one on the top, as it wouldn’t have left enough space for books, and left the one on the bottom in place. We bought a 2’x4’ sheet of 1/8th inch compact board for the shelf. The remainder will be used for various patch jobs, including that pesky vent in the roof.

The support for the bookshelf, formerly the support for a drawer.

Having returned the Sawz-All to its proper owner and after taking measurements and making the proper markings, MH set about cutting the board to size and shape. With a kitchen knife. It took him some time to get it done, but it resulted in a very clean, very precise cut. What was I going to do with two 6” serrated blades, anyway?

He then set two screws in the corners opposite the drawer support to provide bracing for the other end of the shelf.

We let Peanut white wash it in preparation for decoration. I have never seen a 4 year old so excited to literally watch paint dry.

Peanut giving the new bookshelf a fresh finish.

Using a rainbow of acrylic paint and several princess/butterfly-themed stencils from the Hobby Lobby, Peanut created a masterpiece. I admit to having painted a butterfly myself.

So here’s our finished bookshelf, complete with blue-skinned princesses and a lavender frog prince.

Finished bookshelf

In other news, our family arts and crafts project for the weekend was foam heart bears, courtesy of Kaboose. Full instructions (though it wasn’t at all difficult) can be found here. It’s a pretty inexpensive craft and we had fun with it. Materials included craft foam, tacky glue, and eyeballs. Lisa Frank stickers added purely for decoration.

Can you spot whose is whose?

We did fix the leaky skylight problem this weekend as well, though it’s enough of a story to warrant a separate post. Stay tuned to find out how we addressed the latest issue in the skylight saga!

Ongoing Projects

Since we don’t have any major projects planned for this weekend, we’ll be taking the time to finish up some ongoing endeavors so that we’ll be ready for the next big thing.

We’ll be patching the roof this weekend, both the “vent” for the fridge and the few leaks that we’ve experienced. As it turns out the skylight and the air conditioner were not precisely the same size. As a result, the air conditioner is squeezed in tight, sucking in its love handles and everything. The skylight leaks. We had to wait for it to dry out completely before we could fix it, but hopefully we’ll be able to get it taken care of this weekend.

Peanut and I will continue the ongoing process of painting the cabinets this weekend. Most everything formerly wood grain is getting a white wash. While MH was opposed to the idea at first (due to his inexplicable love for wood grain and red velvet), he says the white cabinetry is growing on him and has signed off on more painting!

We’ll also be finishing up the bookshelf. Pictures and full details about the construction of the shelf will follow early next week, I promise. The completion should be a fun project as Peanut will be choosing what gets stamped, sponged, or stenciled onto the shelf and making it beautiful all by herself. With supervision, of course. I anticipate princesses and kittens, but who knows?

Peanut and I will also be working on a number of Valentine’s Day related foam craft projects this weekend. When it’s cold outside and you have 150 ft2 of space to work with, arts and crafts will save your life when it comes to entertaining a little one. There are a bunch of crafty projects appropriate for everyone from toddlers to teenagers on Disney’s Family Fun site. Kaboose is another favorite. I also like Danielle’s Place, but you have to be a member to access some of her more involved crafts and instructions. Her site offers crafts appropriate for your Sunday School classes as well.

With any luck, I’ll finish the blanket I’ve been crocheting this weekend. It’s my first real project as I’m learning, so I’m pretty excited about finishing it.

In exciting news, we found out that our landlord doesn’t really care if we have chickens! Building a chicken coop will be added to the list of upcoming weekend projects, as I hope to have laying pullets by spring. Because we are in a fairly rural area, the biggest concern with building the coop will be making sure that it will provide adequate protection from predators.

More updates will come as we finish up projects and take on new ones. MH promises that we can replace the floor as soon as I finish all the things I have up in the air now, so that certainly provides some incentive. :)

Thanks for sticking around. Have a great weekend!

You put what? Where?? Part II

We all know the way to properly remodel. Measure twice, cut once. So we measured twice and came to the conclusion that the new refrigerator would fit! It wouldn’t be that bad, actually. We would just have to remove the particle board panel at the top of the old fridge. It was just a filler, anyway.

First things first, now that we know it’s going to fit, we have to remove the old fridge. It had to be unplugged and disconnected from the propane. This was simple. For those of you following along at home (who may or may not be as proper-name challenged as I am):

You will see a small gauge-looking-thing at the bottom of the picture that follows. This is, in fact, a gauge. It’s for your propane line to the refrigerator. On the hose at the bottom of that gauge, there is a small valve that looks like a wing nut. That controls the propane to the fridge. Turn that off before you do anything else. Otherwise, you might blow up. Moving on…

Having unplugged and disconnect the old, ugly, non-functional fridge, we set about removing it. MH pushed from the outside (through that grate you see in the picture below) and I wiggled and pulled from the inside. We made good progress. Then the neighbor came over and helped do the heavy lifting. When we got it out, this is what we saw:

 

 

A hot mess.

Warped wood paneling, general gross-ness, and a large hole in the ceiling. That hole has a grate over it and is meant to be a vent for the fridge when you have is running on propane. They are supposed to have caps that go over them when they’re not running on propane. Ours clearly does not. We believe we have discovered another contributing factor to why we lose so much heat.

After some serious clean-up and a twice-emptied shop-vac, we were ready to put the new fridge in. By this point, the helpful neighbor has left to go about his own day, so MH and I pushed and pulled until we got the new fridge in the house.

Are we forgetting something? Why yes, we are. We have not removed the panel that went along the top of the old fridge. Here’s MH taking care of that problem.

 

 

Rest assured, that 2×4 you see did not contribute to the structural integrity of the camper. When remodeling, be careful that your roof doesn’t collapse around your ears.

For you observant folk out there, yes, that is a black line on my ceiling. Why is it there, you might ask? Well, it used to be inside the casing for the air conditioning unit. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), the new fridge needed the casing’s space in order to stand all the way up in its new home. We left it off until we got the new fridge situated so that I could get rid of that crud. It can’t be healthy, right?

After much huffing and puffing, here’s our new fridge!

 

 

 

Yes, it’s very tall.

So tall, in fact, that the door won’t open all the way even with the AC casing off. Fortunately, the hole in the ceiling for the AC is the same size as the hole for the skylight. Ish. So we thought we’d just switch them out. It was a time consuming process, but it did work. Kind of.

MH went up top and removed the bolts holding in the air conditioning, while I did the same from the inside. The skylight was fairly easy to remove, though it was glued in on the roof side which required some elbow grease to break through.

Here’s the space where the air conditioner used to be:

 

The wires that you see are the electrical wires for the AC unit. They run behind the fridge (you can see them on the left in the first picture), then through the ceiling to the AC unit. When we reconnect them, they will run through the kitchen cabinets to the AC’s new home.

We left tools on the roof. Luckily, they were easy for Peanut to grab.

 

 

After much frustration, we finally have everything in the proper places. We added foam sealant around the fridge for insulation

 

 

 

…and called it a day. We still have to deal with the hole in the roof that was formerly a vent, and in the next few weeks (before it gets warm) we will have to rewire the AC unit, but in the mean time, I can keep perishable foods!!

You put what? Where?? Part I

Topping out the list of things to be repaired was the refrigerator. The one that came with the camper (and matched the wood-grain laminate that covered everything not already swathed in red velvet) doesn’t work.

We originally thought that it was an electrical problem, since the house lights often don’t work either and the two run off of the batteries when the fridge is set to “electric”. Then the house lights started working and the fridge still didn’t. Admittedly, the lights only seem to work when the battery is connected to a battery charger, but still. That’s a battle for another day. The light would come on to let us know that the fridge was working, but it refused to cool at all.

This particular fridge can be operated on either electricity or propane. We’d been nervous about turning the propane on. Since everything else in the camper had been so reliable, every time we talked about turning the propane on (there’s a propane heater, too), all either of us could picture was the whole rig going boom. Call it paranoia, but I think it was justified.

Well, MH (The Man of the House) checked all the propane lines and determined that it was worth the risk just to quiet my rants about the not being able to keep perishable foods, so we turned it on. Thankfully, nothing went boom. The stove worked like a stove should, the oven worked like the oven should, the light on the fridge came on like little lights are wont to do. We did small dances of celebration.

Clearly, this was premature. On day two of the propane fridge adventure, not only was it not cooling, it was actually warmer in there! *Sigh* Well, I guess it’s back to square one on that front. Maybe my parents have an ice chest they’ll let me borrow…

But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is MH’s friend, Rick, with a refrigerator he no longer needs!

Rick is decommissioning his (much nicer) camper for a while, and agreed to give us his fridge in exchange for a day of moving help. Yay!! …but does it fit?

Stay tuned for the conclusion of the perishable food saga, which should hopefully come later today.