Saturday, July 25, 2015

SPACEBALLS THE MOTORHOME: CUSTOM DINETTE CUSHIONS

I am beyond thrilled with our dinette cushions for our camper. They turned out far better than I had ever imagined.
I actually almost cried when I saw them. No, I’m not kidding.

If you have been following this blog for a while, you know I rarely shy to the challenge of a good DIY project. This entire camper is one GIANT ball of DIY projects with a new disaster challenge at every turn. The further we get into it, the more lovely DIY projects present themselves. The camper cushions, much like the sealing of the windows, was just a job we were not about to take on. I can handle the curtains, but I decided to leave the cushions to the professionals and I am so happy I did.

I chose to work with Cindy’s Custom Interiors out of McFarland, WI. These days stellar customer service is hard to come by and the quality of goods just seem to decline (we all know things aren’t made like they used to be.) It is so rare to find a business like Cindy’s. She sells high quality, beautifully crafted, custom window fashions, upholstery, and slip covers.

Cindy’s level of customer service is top notch. When I first walked into her shop, I had no idea what to expect. She took the time to explain why the cushions needed to be made a certain way (her knowledge is invaluable), she let me show her my many Pinterest boards, her interior decorator, Toni, took the time to look through (what seemed like hundreds) of fabric swatches until we landed on the perfect one, and she even took me into her workshop where we marked off how thick I wanted the white stripe down the center of my cushions to be and a few other specifics of the job. Basically, she took the time to listen to me, ask questions, and make sure she knew exactly what I wanted. As I was looking through fabric swatches with Toni, I watched as customers came in with their different projects and how genuinely excited Cindy she seemed about every single one. She treated each one of her customers just as she had treated me. I could tell she loved what she did for a living and that I love.

I have such admiration and respect for female business owners. So naturally, I asked Cindy a bazillion questions while I was there. As I was leaving she asked me if I wanted to come back and watch her make one of my cushions and I, of course, jumped at the chance.

When I arrived back at her shop a few weeks later, she had everything done except one cushion. I sat with her in her shop for about an hour as she put together my last cushion and told me all about her business. She told me how she started her business in 1986 in an old shed with $500, a borrowed air compressor, a sewing machine on credit and a whole lot of hope. She told me how her business grew, went through ups and downs, and her plans for the future. I listened and watched as she effortlessly put together my last cushion like she could do it in her sleep.

I met Cindy’s father who they all call ‘Dad’ or ‘Too Tall’ – the nickname he got years ago while working at the Green Lantern Restaurant and Bar in McFarland. He stands at an impressive 6’4” tall and had to always duck under the potato chip rack that hung overhead. His real name is Richard and he helps Cindy around the shop. Cindy told me “every small business needs a retired Dad” and I couldn’t agree more.

At one point or another, I met all of Cindy’s employees - most of which are family and the others who might as well be family. Everyone was delightful, even the shop dog, Hunter, who welcomes everyone with kisses and his half inflated soccer ball.

If you are thinking of giving new life to an old piece of furniture or getting custom window treatments, I would highly recommend visiting Cindy and her wonderful employees in her adorable little shop. They are hard working people who know their business inside and out.

The old olive green cushions

The beautiful new retro cushions
Gluing a layer of batting onto our original foam. It was still in excellent condition, so we reused it!
Hunter, the shop dog
Cindy's Dad - aka 'Too Tall'
Laying out the cushion pieces and starting to sew together

Working on chairs for HotelRED in Madison

Putting it all together!

Cindy has a beautiful show room that is spacious and well lit.

*This is not a sponsored post - these opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

SPACEBALLS THE MOTORHOME: GUTTING, PAINTING & NEW SUBFLOOR

Hi guys! Sorry it has been a while since our last Spaceballs update, but we are so busy in the summer that it leaves little time to work on the motorhome or post about it. We are actually home this weekend, so we are excited about getting some more work done on it!



There are a few things you have to consider when renovating a camper that are different than renovating a home.

#1 - Weight - it matters. The motor is designed to pull a certain weight, so we cannot just load it full of whatever we want. The heavier it is, the lower our gas mileage.

#2 - Temperature - it gets real cold in Wisconsin. The motorhome will be stored in a shed throughout our sub-zero Wisconsin winters. We have to take this into consideration when choosing things like paint, sealer, flooring, etc.

#3 - Movement - it rides like a bus. This thing is not a smooth ride. It rides just like a school bus. That means there is lots of movement. We have to keep this in mind when rebuilding cabinet space and picking flooring that isn't too rigid.



The key came with a 'B' on it. I guess it was destined to be ours!


Here is where we are at so far:

- Had all windows professionally resealed. Still looking into getting one rear window and one windshield window replaced at some point due to moisture between the laminate and glass. More on that HERE.

- Pulled up and removed not one, but TWO layers of shag carpet. A lovely lime green and a gross brown color. The green was the original, of course. Seriously, who puts carpet in a camper??? 

- Pulled all staples (two layers of carpet worth) from the floor that held the carpet in place. This might be the most awful job I have ever had to do. That is why I put in maybe an hour and a half and Logan put in probably 8+ hours. Thank God that part is over. We were happy to find that the subfloor was in good shape with minimal water damage! We are pretty sure this camper was stored indoors most of it's life and that is why it is in such good condition for being 43 years old.

- Removed everything we possibly could. We were able to remove both dinette benches, the table, all drawers, doors, cabinets, kitchen sink, backsplash panel behind the sink, and the accordion door that closes off the back half of the camper. We were not able to remove the unit that holds all the kitchen drawers and sink. The screws are pretty tight in place. 

- Coated the entire floor in Kilz from Home Depot. Kilz is a water-based interior primer, sealer, and stain and odor blocker. You can read more about it HERE.





- Lightly sanded and painted all of the cabinets white. At first we were unsure of what type of paint to use so we talked to the paint specialists at Home Depot. Let's take a minute to talk about the super-helpful employees at Home Depot. They are just that - super helpful. They know their products inside and out and are more than happy to help. They suggested we use Behr Marquee outdoor paint in semi-gloss because the the camper will be stored in sub-zero temps. See #2 above. We decided on the color Looking Glass and a semi-gloss finish that would make it easier to clean when our kids put their little sticky s'mores hands all over them! 

- Picked out and ordered flooring and carpet. Man was this was a decision! I spent way more time than I would like to admit researching the perfect flooring. More on this in another post. Our flooring order should be in this week. I cannot wait to get it in!

- Removed old curtains, seam ripped the tracking off of them, and measured them to buy fabric to make new curtains. I will make another post just on the curtain refashion. I haven't gotten there quite yet. :)


- Cut and laid down a new subfloor over the old subfloor that has been coated with Kilz. We used Luan board from Home Depot. We cannot glue and staple down the subfloor until we have patched a part of the fiberglass floor that exposed after ripping out the front step. More on this in another post.

Our goal is to have the camper sleep-ready by the end of July. We have a neighborhood camping trip planned and we would really love to use it! There is no way it will be completely done by then, but hopefully done enough to sleep in. I honestly do not know if it will be though. Renovating an RV has proven to be an extremely long process that requires a lot of hard work.



Watch for a post soon on all of the resources we have found that have helped us find parts and seek advice on renovating our camper. We even tracked down the owners manual!



Friday, June 12, 2015

FATHER'S DAY GIFTS FOR THE WISCONSIN DAD

Father's Day is just a little over one week away, so if you haven't planned or bought some special surprise for your hubby, you should probably get to it! I am a big fan of planning special surprises for special days, but let's be honest - planning special surprises takes time and that is one thing a few of us run short on. So, here are a few ideas for the Wisconsin Dad - some that take time and planning and some that just require pulling out the credit card and clicking 'submit order'.



LINKS:

ONE: Father's Day Instagram Surprise

TWO: Plan a trip for just the two of you, which is probably my favorite gift to give or receive. IDEAS for places you can drive to from Wisconsin: Nashville, Door County, Chicago, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin Dells, etc.

THREE: Louie's Finer Meats Hunter's Sausage. This has become a Father's Day tradition in our home. Logan's family owned a cabin in Cumberland, WI and his whole family is semi-obsessed with this stuff. I got Logan 8lbs of this stuff one year!

FOUR: Wisconsin Bottle Opener

FIVE: Image 3D Reels & Viewer - I think this is such a fun idea!
This little video gives you an idea of how it works:



SIX: Vintage Wisconsin Baseball T - From a great little screen printing shop in Spring Green, Wisconsin! Use code DADSDAY for free shipping until Father's Day.

SEVEN: Tree Hun Wooden Watches - This just miiiight be what I got Logan this year for Father's Day. Ok, yes I did and I already gave it to him b/c I was so excited. If you know Logan, this watch is very him. :)

EIGHT: National Parks Sticker Map

NINE: Stuffed Burger Maker - Logan's parents bought him one for his birthday and we LOVE it. Logan's favorite is a cheddar cheese and jalapeno stuffed burger, while mine is a basil, tomato, and fresh mozzarella stuffed burger!

TEN: Make him a simple video in iMovie. Here is the video I made for Logan on Father's Day two years ago. I wish I had the time to make him one every year. Since we went from one kid to two, these types of surprises have become a little less possible. That might explain why Ellis has a two volume baby book and I have only made milestone notes in my iPhone so I remember them when I actually get around to making him a baby book. Fingers crossed it actually happens. :/



Sunday, May 24, 2015

SPACEBALLS THE MOTORHOME: PART 2

We FINALLY got our camper back after six weeks of being in the shop. We decided to have all the windows professionally resealed after watching countless youtube videos of how to DIY it. With the size of the windows, it was one thing we were just not going to tackle. The shop told us it took five guys to take out each window. Yikes!

It turns out the rear window glass has a bad seal after 43 years and is getting moisture between the panes, so we eventually need to look into replacing it. Logan has already started to work with a glass company out of Mt. Horeb to get a new one made and installed. For now, the windows are resealed, so at least there will be no leaks.

Now before I go any further, when I say 'we' when talking about renovating the camper, I really mean Logan. I will help when and where I can and trust me, I always have an opinion on how things should be done, but really the credit for most of our home projects goes to him. We are trying to make all the decisions on things like flooring, countertops, paint colors, etc. together and we do not always see eye-to-eye on this type of thing, but after a few good bickering sessions, we always land on a decision we find mutually acceptable. Truth is Logan would like everything to stay brown and olive and I much prefer white with pops of color. Logan would like a hippie van. As I am all down with the hippie vibe, it still needs some brightening up! ;)

Anyways, here are the 'before' pictures so many of you wanted to see! Like I said, it is for the most part a time capsule from 1972. Only a few things have been changed up on the inside. The previous owners put in a new refrigerator, toilet, and air conditioner. They also took out the bunk bed that was above the bed in the back. We plan on putting one back, but that is a topic for another blog post.

Yesterday, I took the kids to the lake all day and Logan spent the entire day working on the camper. He took everything out that he could and ripped out all the flooring - two layers of carpet. The original shag and some other gross stuff that was laid on top. We were not sure what we would find under the carpet, but to our surprise, we found a plywood floor that has practically no rot! We have to replace a few small boards, but that is all. Today we will take turns pulling staples from the floor. YAY! ;)

(More pictures to come!)














Friday, May 22, 2015

SUMMER PICNICS WITH JJ COLE - WITH A FREE PICNIC PACKING IDEA PRINTABLE

Summer is finally here and in our family that means picnic season is in full swing! 
I am so fortunate to have Fridays off with my kids! Better yet, all three of my sisters-in-law have off Fridays as well! We usually go to the park and have a picnic, go to the zoo and have a picnic, or go to the splash pad and you guessed it, we have a picnic! ;) I think we all love picnics so much b/c we don't have to clean up all the crumbs. ;)

Recently, JJ Cole reached out to me to review one of their diaper bags as well as their great picnic blanket. Up until this point we had two diaper bags. One that was super useful, but semi-ugly, and one that was super cute, but just a little too small. For picnics we used my old bedspread from college that was huge, puffy, and less then convenient. Needless to say, I was so excited to review these two staple items!





I chose the caprice bag in heathered grey and I LOVE it! It is the prefect size for all the stuff I need to pack for two kids, it has lots of compartments (inside and out), loops that attach right to your stroller handles (when you don't have room in the basket below) and it is super cute! Yup, a win all around!

I chose the outdoor blanket in prairie flower and it works great. It EASILY (yes, that is key!) folds down into a rectangle that ends up serving as a bag with a little pouch and a handle. It is waterproof and comes in some really fun prints. It would make a great baby shower gift. I can't wait to use it at Concert on the Square this summer!

And just for fun, I have included a little free printable that I use as reference when packing Ellis' lunch for school. It is pretty much like packing a picnic every day b/c they do not microwave anything at her school making it a 'cold' lunch. I am totally inspired by my sister-in-law who, in my mind, is a picnic packing pro! I love to look at this lunch planning sheet before I go to the grocery store b/c sometimes I run out of ideas or it just makes me realize I have been sending her raspberries every day for weeks and maybe I should grab some oranges instead. :) I made sure to leave a few blank lines so you can write in some of your own ideas as well!





Bread Balls - This Site has so many great ideas for making bread healthy by sneaking in fruits and veggies as well as using whole grains. I make them into bread balls by cooking them in this fun little gadget. Ellis, as well and my niece and nephew, LOVE them!

Muffins - These muffins are one of my all-time favorites, but there are a million different recipes for healthy muffins.

Veggie Muffins - These muffins pack in apple, carrot, zucchini, banana, and broccoli!

Lara Bars - My sister in law makes these super yummy prune and apricot bites.


Apple Cookie Snacks - How easy and fun are these?!

Trail Mix - I throw together: raw cashews, raw almonds, craisins, and a few dark chocolate chips. 


Yogurt Parfaits - Throw together: yogurt, fruit, granola and nuts in a little tupperware container and you are set!

Mini Pizzas - You can make a taco version as well!

And here are my favorite picnic essentials:
- These sippy cups DO NOT leak. Do you have any ideas how many cups we have gone through to find one that actually does not leak?! Save yourself the time and money and get these.
- The Basket is easy to get things in and out of AND it is super cute.
- The blanket is waterproof and folds up super easy.
- The lunch boxes have 4 compartments, they are easy to wash, and a great price! Again, we have gone through about 4 different bento box styles before I found these and I love them! 
- The silicone baking cups are great for diving snacks in lunch boxes. See the picture above.
(links below picture)



picnic basket / picnic blanket / lunch boxes / silicone baking cups / Nalgene sippy cup