Thursday, September 30, 2010

All your camper are belong to us

Three sides are painted! The camper is looking so adorable in cherry red that I'm getting nervous about my planned embellishment.  I guess once I'm to that point I'll just take a deep breath and do it, knowing I can always paint over it if it looks sillly.
photo courtesy of icesk8r on
How cute are these earrings?  I wish I'd made them, but I didn't.  I found them on Etsy, and I'm going to have to forward this post to my husband so he'll get them for me for Christmas.  Or mabye this?  Who said I wanted a hitch instead of jewelry?  I want camper jewerly!  :)
And chocolate cupcakes!  The legend goes like this:  circa 1980 a four-year-old big sister was jealous of a new brother's myriad baby milestones, whereas she only had a birthday once a year.  The girl's wise mother told her that she, too, had more than one birthday--she had a half birthday that marked the six-month point in between regular birthdays, and they could have cupcakes to celebrate. So a tradition was born.  Now that little girl's own little girl gets cupcakes on her half birthday, too.  (Ahem.) So these are the cupcakes Dorothy helped me bake and decorate on Tuesday, marking the important passage to 4-and-a-half.  I'm sorry to report that I caught her acting exactly like a 4-and-a-half-year-old; eating sprinkles right from the can during cupcake decorating, told her she had to stop, then saw her crawl under the table and hide for a moment, only to emerge with very red lips and the pronouncement, "the pink sprinkles are all gone!"  I didn't let her decorate any more cupcakes, and she pitched a huge fit.  But we had a nice half birthday celebration anyway.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A before and after

photo courtesy of Fine Design Camper Sales
I'm making progress!  The weather is finally nice and I'm hoping to make big strides on the camper exterior today, but right now I'm killing time in the house waiting for the baby to wake up.  The fabric for the cushions arrived in the mail on Thursday, so yesterday I spent the day wrestling with those.  The polka-dotted fabric is a nice thick indoor/outdoor upholstry fabric that I hope will easily wipe clean, and I found it at a great price online.   We cut the table down to make more standing room in the camper, and to make nice places to sit without being crammed up against the table (for when you're say, nursing a baby and need a bit of room in front).  The piece we cut off I stashed up above, so we can still use it when the table comes down to form a big bed.  I haven't photographed the kitchenette yet, but finishing that up is also on my weekend to-do list, so stay tuned! 

We're desperate to actually get this thing on the road and go camping, but I'm afraid if I move it from its present spot in my back yard that I will not prioritize it, and then it might never get done.  It will certainly (barring unforseen circumstances) be completely done in time for next weekend, but Dorothy gets to bring the class guinea pig home next weekend, and I'm just not sure about a) camping with the class guinea pig, or b) dragging a screaming preschooler away from the class guinea pig to go camping.  I'm open to suggestions on how to handle that one.

And as an update to our costume dilemma, the problem solved itself!  Dorothy was just a tad jealous of her brother's cute rat costume and decided that she would also like to be a rat.  So one more eBay auction won (and for a good price--hooray!), and we're waiting on one more package in the mail.  I can't wait to get some pictures of my wee rat pack next month.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Trailer textiles

With the interior painting done and the weather too hot to paint the exterior, I've been spending some time working on linens.  I made these little camper potholders, and I'm a little embarrassed that they are way cuter than the store-bought ones in my real kitchen.  My real kitchen is red, too, so I might do a switch so I can use these more often!
Now curtains!  I don't know if the print shows up well in the photos, but the blue upper has illustrations of campy (pun intended) vintage travel sights, including enormous fake dinosaurs and, of course, campers.  I went to the trouble of lining these with an old white sheet for extra privacy, and so the sun won't bleach the fabric as quickly.
And a nice stack of cloth napkins, all set for the campfire marshmallow messes of the future. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Progress pictures

We're now on Day 9 of camper ownership, and my crafty energy is all camper, all the time, until we get this thing in the woods for the first time. But we're having tons of fun already, right here at home! The photo above is to compare to my primer picture, below.
Here's me on the unpainted side of the camper, rocking the schlumpy paint clothes look and inspiring my 4-year-old to beg for a hair bandana. :)

And the painted side! It's red! Embellishment to follow...

And my sewing table, covered in camper-related prints, ready for me to come back inside and stitch curtains, potholders, napkins...maybe a camper apron even? I also found a gorgeous red 100% wool throw at a thrift store that will become part of the camper ensemble. It has a patch sewn on it right now from a company; I guess it was a corporate gift of some sort. I'm just going to unstitch the patch, and I might sew on little white wool felt flowers to cute it up (ala Soule Mama).

In a momentary pause from camper things, I'm having a little Halloween costume trouble. I found a very inexpensive and adorable used rat costume for Worth on eBay, and it's ridiculously cute on him. I love the costumes put out by Old Navy because they are comfy and washable and easy to put on and off, so I just searched for costumes made by them to get inspiration for his. When I found the rat costume I knew it was just right. Dorothy wants to be a cat, so she can chase (and eat--eek!) her brother. The problem is, all the cat costumes I can find to fit my 5T daughter look like skanky cat woman outfits, not the least bit like cats. I did find one, with the help of a friend, but it's selling for between $40 and $50, which is nuts. I paid less than $5 for the baby's, with minimal shipping. And this might seem contrary to my whole blog bit, but I really hate the idea of making one. She'll wear it once, probably, since she's not all that interested in dress-up recently, and furry fabric is really expensive--much more expensive than run-of-the-mill costumes from Target. Plus, and this is really rather annoying, my kid doesn't want me to make her one. At all. I make her things all the time; Halloween costumes should be special. (Where am I going wrong? Eek again!) She wants a store-bought costume. So the search continues...

Friday, September 17, 2010

More primer

We're still at work on this camper project. I haven't taken many pictures because I'm usually too dirty or painty to touch my camera, but I snapped this one today on my phone. I gave Dorothy a sanding block to use while I was using the electric wire sander thingy my brother loaned me. I got one side cleaned, sanded and primed today. The stripes are gone! (Insert evil laughter.) But I may not be able to move my arms or hands tomorrow, as they got the sort of workout they aren't used to. I just chopped vegetables for soup, and ouch. But it's so enjoyable to see this project take shape!

P.S. I feel like I just need to put this out there. Dorothy did not sand on the same side as me while I was using the electric sander, and I wore a mask! :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Prime time for primer

I'd planned to paint the outside of the camper first, but after Dorothy and I cleaned out the inside yesterday inspiration struck there instead. I'm not sure if there is more primer on the camper walls or me, but I'm having fun. This is the table and bunk area. I removed the table board to paint. The table board can be placed either table-height for eating, or level with the benches to make a large bed. The cabinets overhead can be used for storage or can be folded down to make a bunk bed, which Dorothy has already claimed as her own.
I went back to the hardware store today for interior paint and selected these. I'm going to paint the walls the middle shade of blue, and the cabinets (there is a wee kitchenette, not pictured) bright red. I love vibrant, true red, as anyone who witnessed my wedding already knows. Especially my lovely bridesmaids, dear folks, who wore shiny scarlet dresses in good humor. No apple or cranberry sidestepping for me, thank you. I found red with white polka-dot upholstry fabric for the bench cushions, and am planning to order one of the vintage camper prints with a coordinating red bandana fabric for the curtains. I hope Dorothy and I have as much fun camping in this tiny room as we're having fixing it up!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A one-day adventure

So we loaded up the muffins and other picnic items and headed for Western Kentucky. We stopped along the way for a picnic in the park. That's my son munching his cracker in the photo above, not my husband, in case you were confused. (Genetics! Oh the mystery. That I can give birth to children who look just like my spouse. But in this case the outfit helps.)

And we saw the camper, but decided to think it over a possible purchase while we hit the touristy sites in Grand River. Patti's 1880s Settlement was totally charming, although we were a bit confused about where the 1880s bit came in. It was a delightful hodgepodge of home decor stores, feminine boutiques, sweet shops and touristy amusements.

Dorothy loved the playground, but loved the pink tractor outside its namesake boutique even more.

Then we took a deep breath and...went back and bought the little camper! This is the only "before" picture I'm going to share until I have some progress for comparison. It's a project! But I think it will be a fun one.

And finally we tucked our little explorers in for the road trip back home. They both slept, with visions of future adventures dancing in their heads, I hope.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Barley in a rice cooker

Right around the time the baby was born I upgraded my rice cooker. Before, I had a little red one (Oster, maybe?) that was okay for making a small amount of white rice in a pinch, as long as you didn't mind a little burned to the bottom. But it wasn't very good at making brown rice, which we prefer, and it wouldn't keep the rice warm for any amount of time without scorching. I used the Cooks Illustrated method of making brown rice in my oven, and that never seemed like a big deal. But somehow the addition of an extra human to our family rendered the steps involved in making rice (boiling water, for example) too fussy, and I invested in a good rice cooker. It works great, and as of today I love it even more. A few weeks ago I tried making quinoa in it, according to a suggestion I read online. That worked so well that today I decided to branch out and try pearl barley. It worked! Hooray! I used the liquid-to-barley ratio suggested on the package (2.5 cups water to 1 cup rinsed barley). I rinsed my cooked barley to cool it down, then made it into a Greek-style grain salad similar to this recipe. It's yummy, and I'm about to take it to my "baby" brother's birthday party tonight in my fun new thifted bowl. (Is it possible he's 30?? Holy cow!)
And oat raisin muffins! Rob and I have a little tradition of taking homemade muffins on road trips. We once made a little peace summit trip to Galena, Illinois (our agenda: to discuss the possibility of ending nearly a year of not speaking to each other by getting just getting married) during which we munched on my homemade pumpkin muffins the whole time, and since then it just feels like small road trips and muffins should go together. Today I experimented with a new recipe plus adjustments for what I had on hand, plus addition of fallish spices, and this is what I got. They are yummy! We're going to take them on our camper-seeking expedition. I'll share the recipe I ended up with:

1 cup oat flour
1/4 cup quick oats
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
2 eggs
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup raisin

Preheat oven to 400. Spray 12 muffin tins with cooking spray. Stir dry ingredients together in a large bowl by using a whisk or a fork. In another bowl or large measuring cup whisk together eggs and wet ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, blend. Stir in raisins. Divide evenly into muffin cups (each should be about 3/4 full). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before removing the muffins from the cups. If you take them out too soon or wait too long they will stick.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What this woman wants

Ok, so I know some women are really into jewelry. Me, I like jewelry, it's fine, especially if I beaded it myself or if it was a gift. But if someone is going to spend money on me, jewelry is probably not where it's at. This is currently a big joke in my house, as my tiny-little-camper lust intensifies. My husband and I laugh about how horrified I'd be if he, say, bought me a diamond bracelet instead of a vintage trailer. It would catch on my crocheting yarn, get mucked in my bread dough, scratch my baby's head, and look terrible with my Old Navy t-shirts and Keen sandals. (Cue laughter.) But if he were going to get me a bracelet (and it were something I wanted), I'd probably go and get my nails done right before. But instead, I really want a little camper so my little troop of adventurers and I can go mobile. And this weekend we're going to go look at one in Western Kentucky! And prior to the (possible) purchase, instead of a manicure, I went and had a hitch installed on my little SUV. Ta-dah! It looks solid, and it's kind of exciting to think that we're now tow-ready, if we decide to buy. If we don't buy, at least we'll have the hitch already, and we'll surely have a fun excursion, hopefully not resembling our last mini-roadtrip adventure.

In further preparation, I've been investigating paint and fabric options for our wee, wheeled fixer-upper. I definitely think the exterior should be painted red, possibly with white polka-dots. And check out this terrific fabric for the inside, or this one. Who knew? Keen-wearing, bracelet-eschewing, cute-fabric-loving, adventure-seeking mamas who sew must be in such abundance that someone brilliantly created vintage camper fabric prints just for us. I feel so unoriginal, yet at the same time entirely pleased, because now I can buy one of these and stitch up some camper curtains!

In other news, Dorothy loves preschool. Her class goes Monday through Thursday only, and this morning at breakfast she asked me how many more days before she gets to go again. And we've shown our house twice this week, which means I've not had time to do much other than shuttle kids and plot my little camper kill. Still no buyer, but handful of recent showings is heartening.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fall in the air

So the weather went cool this weekend, and all of the sudden my bright and fun summer bag no longer seemed appropriate. Yet I wasn't fully ready to break out the fall colors (it was, after all, back to something like 97 today) so I pulled out a project from last summer. It's bright, but the wooliness of the yarn makes it seem a little more fallish to me. Anyway, it made me happy to get it back out. I crocheted it out of odds and ends yarn last summer based on a pattern in Crochet Today.
We had a low-key but nice holiday weekend. Here is a picture of the kids in the yard, getting some good use out of their sunhats before we trade them in for the woolly kind. I have to admit that rather than enjoy the gorgeous weather, I spent a great deal of weekend time inside ogling tiny vintage campers online, which was totally fun in its own way, so I don't actually regret it. :) I think teardrop and other tiny (meaning 10 to 12 foot) camper trailers are just so cute. (Search for "teardrop trailer" on Flickr if you don't know what I'm talking about!) I think we may buy one, and then I'll have the fun of personalizing it, not to mention making great adventures with my little happy campers!
And last but certainly not least, here is my big preschooler all ready for her first day of school. She had a really great day. Highlights for her included walking across an alley to the playground in a herd (not holding any one's hand!), building blocks, playing house with a panda toy, and being given a personalized cloth place mat at snack time that will be laundered and reused every day. My favorite quotes from her were, "the guinea pig was not as big as I expected. I thought it would be like a real pig," and "guess what, Mom? We get to go back tomorrow!"

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A resting rug

Orientation at Dorothy's preschool went fabulously. We're so excited for her to attend this great program. I feel like the teachers share my values and that she's really going to benefit from this year or two, and that the harmony between the school's values and mine should make an easy transition on to homeschool if that is indeed the route we take. Hooray for the start of something wonderful and new!

At orientation they told us each child needs a satchel-style bag and a resting rug. I'd already taken care of the bag, but she didn't have a rug yet. I wasn't sure what the other kids would have--if everyone else had a plain bath towel, I didn't want my little princess to tramp in with some fussy handmade setup that would make us seem show-offish or materialistic. But the example our teacher showed us of a resting rug was actually a simple little floor quilt with a hook for hanging on their little hooks, so I decided to fix Dorothy up with one on that model. We tucked the baby in for a nap and then headed downstairs to the fabric stash where Dorothy selected purple as a primary color, and I dug out several fabric scraps, some hand-me-down fabric, a thrifted shower curtain, an old stained tablecloth, and two thrifted sheets that all came together in a pleasantly purple way. I just cut 3 inch strips of various lengths to make an intentionally haphazard stripe pattern, and I like the way it turned out. It's solid purple on the back and I sandwiched an old stained bath towel inside to make it comfy for lying on the preschool floor during their wind-down time. She loves it and has slept on top of it in bed the last two nights. I told her when she lays on it she'll feel like Mommy is giving her a great big hug.

And here's a little pirate booty! I crocheted dark grey longies with a skull and crossbones motif on the bum when I found out I was pregnant with a boy, last fall. I was concerned he'd grow out of them before cool enough weather came, but fortunately I could still stuff him into them (and enjoy seeing how cute they looked) yesterday.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

For the freezer

Our carefree days of summer are coming to a close. Rob and I attend preschool orientation tomorrow and Dorothy begins next Tuesday. Today the girl spent all day with my husband's parents swimming in their neighborhood pool, which will close after this weekend. She told me emphatically she was not planning on doing flips in the water today because she has a runny nose. Somehow I doubt she maintained her position on that issue. I spent most of the day in the kitchen getting ready for our new routine. I made some chicken tortilla soup for the freezer, for heat-and-eat lunches at the weather gets cooler. I love soup for lunch in the fall, but I have never found any canned soup worth eating that doesn't have tons of sodium, MSG, or both. (If you know of one, leave me a comment!) So homemade soup in freezer jars it is.

Then I spent some time sprucing up Dorothy's room, since though she won't take it with her, it seemed like a nice thing to give her a pleasant and orderly jumping-off-spot. I laundered, pressed and rehung her curtains, washed her bed quilt, and tidied up her space a bit. Then I made a double batch of oatmeal pancakes for the freezer so I can feed her breakfast quickly without resorting to packaged food. I put freezer paper slips between them so they won't become one solid pancake brick in the freezer--it will be easy to grab just one or two.

I've prepped a Moroccan-style stew for tonight, with bread from the bread machine on the side, and I when I went to pre-cook my chickpeas I realized, ugh, that my pressure cooker was among the things I had to pack away when we put stuff in storage a couple weeks ago. Bummer. Fortunately I had canned chickpeas in the pantry, since you never know when you'll need an emergency batch of hummus, but it's rather frustrating. We did have a showing last weekend, but the prospective buyers claimed disappointment regarding our lack of a garage. And I have to say this is a bit confusing to me, since it states very clearly in our listing that the house has no garage. Maybe they thought we didn't mean it?