Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Backyard Botanical Garden Series: Part 2

Hey everyone.  It has been almost 2 weeks since we constructed and planted our garden.  I am extremely happy to report that the majority of the plants are doing well.  We have a few dead/dried out celery plants, but I think I have found and fixed the problem that led to their early demise.

I had to go out of town this weekend and was really worried about maintaining the watering schedule of my garden.  Up until this point, I have been manually turning on the soaker hose system for 15 minutes each day, as well as watering with the hose.  

We still haven't figured out what the issue is with the original timer that came with our system, so this afternoon we made a few changes to the garden.  My husband installed a better timer and we ran additional soaker hose to the rain gutters and the back of the garden.  It doesn't look as "pretty", but for now it will get the job done if I am unable to water daily for any reason.

Here are some pictures I took earlier this evening...

The sage has done really well.  I can't believe how lush it has become.  I may have to take one of the plants out and replant it in another container.
Day 19:  Sage Plant

I can't express how much I adore our little garden.  My son loves to check on the plants each day after school.  So far, so good.  :)

Day 19:  An overall picture of our Backyard Botanical Complete Gardening System

We are up to about 5 hours of direct sunlight each day.  My husband assures me that time will increase over the next month or so.
Day 19:  Side View

Even though I have watered the plants daily, the back of our garden seems to be growing at a slower rate.  I am hoping with the addition of the soaker hose we ran tonight, the plants will become a bit more productive.
Day 19: View of Back.  Growing asparagus, cucumbers, pole beans, squash & zucchini.

Out of all of the plants back here, the beans seem to have grown the most.
Day 19:  The bean plant has flowers.
Day 19:  Another shot of the back.

I have come to the conclusion that when I was watering the rain gutter strawberries, the water was running over onto the top of the celery plants, effectively burning the leaves in the sun.  I (hope to) have fixed the problem by watering in the evening and also pointing the hose toward the outside of the garden instead of facing inward.
Day 19: Celery Plants.  One plant has died completely, two more are right behind it.
I love my solar powered butterflies.  They spin around as long as they are facing the sun.  I think they help keep the critters away.  Super cute!
Day 19:  Bell Peppers, Celery & Strawberries
Day 19:  Bell Pepper Plants
Top of bell pepper plant - flowers should appear soon.
Day 19:  Onion Bulbs.  These seem to have taken off overnight!
Day 19:  Flowering Cucumber Plant
Day 19:  Basil Plant.  The basil has nearly doubled in size.
The new timer my husband installed this evening.
Day 19:  Flowering Chili Pepper Plant
Day 19: Tomato Pant
Day 19:  Rosemary & Cilantro Plants.  The rosemary has grown a bit taller and the cilantro has perked up.

So far, we have picked and eaten a handful of strawberries and they are super sweet.
Day 19:  Flowering Strawberries

I apologize the next two pictures are a bit dark.  I took them after we were done installing the additional soaker hose in the gutters and it was already dark outside.

I am worried the gutters will receive too much water now, so I am going to monitor them closely over the next couple of days.  Another thing I am worried about is the weight of the gutters.  My husband is going to install some 2x4's under the gutters to add some extra support.  This should provide adequate support once the plants become heavier.
New soaker hose in the rain gutter strawberry garden.
Soaker hose installed in the rain gutter chives.

Well, this is my update for now.  I hope to add a post every few weeks or so in order to track the progress and allow others to get an idea of how long it will take for the veggies and berries to grow and be able to be eaten.

Thanks for stopping by.  If you have a garden blog of your own, please link to it in the comments section.  I would love to see what you are growing this seasonQuestions?  Feel free to leave a comment, I always try to reply to each one I receive.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

RV Inspiration

Some of you may have already read my post about our new-to-us, used RV.  Throughout this entire ordeal, I have spent most nights researching all things RV.  I am addicted.  There are so many resources available online if you know what to look for.  Keywords are important.  After finding all of the technical specs we needed to reconstruct our RV pretty much from the walls up, I started researching design ideas.  Because, Hello, this is what I love:  The design part of remodeling.

This has taught me many things, but the most important one is:  RV Decorators are awful.  Who picks the fabrics for RVs??  Even the newer models are at most "OK".  I get the part about using durable, stain resistant fabrics, but COME ON.  Really?  Do the designers go to the fabric wholesalers and find the most hideous colors on purpose?  Why can't camping be cute?  Well, I am here to tell you it can be cute.  Seriously, it really can.  Amongst all of the hideous-make-me want-to-throw-up-in-my-mouth RVs out there, I have stumbled across some super cute remodels.  If your RV has great bones, consider remodeling with some easy changes like paint, hardware and incorporating some color.  You don't have to spend upwards of $60k just to get a decent interior palette in an RV.  I don't agree with some of the color choices per se, but everyone has their own style, so who am I to judge?  Check out all of this awesomeness:

Look at all of that white.  I just love how clean it looks.
The dark floors add a nice contrast.
image via happydayvintage

This is so simple and clean.  Again, the dark floors are striking with the white backdrop.
RV Reno, My family purchased a 1995 bumper-pull travel trailer.  My husband had trouble seeing past the 90s blue carpet, and blue and pink splattered wall paper and draperies.  I looked at the travel trailer completely differently and immediately knew what I wanted the end result to be., So much more open!, Other Spaces Design
image via roomzaar
Another view.  This bedroom looks super cozy and by now, I am sure you have noticed:  I am all about the color white..
RV Reno, My family purchased a 1995 bumper-pull travel trailer.  My husband had trouble seeing past the 90s blue carpet, and blue and pink splattered wall paper and draperies.  I looked at the travel trailer completely differently and immediately knew what I wanted the end result to be., Smidgin of yellow!, Other Spaces Design
image via roomzaar

Shabby Chic say whaat?
This is one of the first RV remodels I fell in love with.  Love.  My husband: not so much.  The colors are super cute.  Notice everything is neutral, so when you want to make a major color change, you only have to change out a few key pieces.
I am completely envious of this look.
image via romantiskahem
image via romantiskahem
image via romantiskahem
The same RV, changed to a black and white color scheme.
image via home-sweet-motorhome

I especially enjoyed reading this blog, because their RV has a layout very similar to ours.  I really loved the detailed posts on how they renovated everything.  The use of color is great and I absolutely adore the white cabinets.  I found it interesting the way they removed the bedroom and created a living room-like area.
image via trippinwithstanley
image via trippinwithstanley

This one is more like a small apartment than an actual home on wheels.  They even travel with their animals!  I really like the kitchen back splash.
Nature Inspired RV Renovation Part 2, Other Spaces Design
image via roomzaar

Again, painting the cabinets white, makes a HUGE difference in the overall feel of an older RV.  The owners of this RV even painted faux marble-like counter tops.

image via thenewlighterlife

For more inspiration, check out my RV Board on Pinterest.

Do you have design ideas for RVs?  I would love to read about them.
As always, thanks for reading.  :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Great Motorhome Hunt

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
We recently purchased a 1998 Jayco Eagle 26' Motor Home via an ad found on Craigslist.  It had less than 13k original miles, a generator that fired right up with less than 100 hours on it and every single appliance worked properly.  All of this for right around $10K.  Say whaaaat?  It sounded great.  It even looked OK.  It smelled pretty awful and in the words of my 7 year-old nephew, I have a nose like a dog.  He recently said that to me.  Really.  I am usually spot-on re smells.  However, my husband pretty much dismissed my issue (because he could not smell anything weird at all) with the "scent" and kept it moving.  Mistake #1.

In all fairness, I should mention that a few years back we had a water leak in our bathroom (shower pan failure) and I coincidentally started getting sick more than usual - anyway, I SWORE there had to be mold.  Like complained so much that we systematically ripped out our entire bathroom.  Down to the studs.  There was not any mold.


Hey, I never said I smelled anything, only that there had to be hidden mold spores somewhere that were probably killing me every time I inhaled.  I am not dramatic.  At all.

Moving on...

The Idea
My husband has wanted a recreational vehicle on and off for the past 7 years.  We go back and forth regarding the idea.  He likes to tent camp, I don't.  My idea of camping is at the Marriott or any Hilton Family Establishment.  We have looked at least 3 times for a few days each time and have never come to an agreement on what to purchase.  We have looked at trailers, pop-ups, hybrids and motor homes.  New, semi-used and way used (like as in before I was born).  For me, it always comes down to the money factor.  I refuse to spend money on something I am not even sure we will use enough to justify the cost.  I may buy $40 flip flops, but mama rocks those on the daily.  Just saying.  Anyway, about a month ago (end of March '13), I heard him mention the motor home idea again and I said, "I'm not opposed to looking at a motor home if the total monthly cost including insurance does not exceed $350."

The hunt began.  We both started scouring the Internet for recreational vehicles.  We drove to more than a few RV places.  We looked at a couple of private-party RVs.  We almost purchased a brand spanking new Hybrid Travel Trailer.  When I say almost, what I mean is I went online to our credit union and got pre-approved for the full amount plus tax and license.  To the tune of $27k.  For real.  We had a plan, man.  We were so excited, we started researching camp grounds and how people set up said campgrounds.  Like what types of awesome things people buy to make their camp area uber-cool.  We stumbled upon a picture of our same Travel Trailer (TT) and realized all at once, the TT lifestyle wasn't going to work for us.  The picture had a camp fire in it.  Like really close to the TT.  I know, you are thinking, so what?  That's what you do when you camp.  Uhm yeah.  People do build camp fires, hang out till the wee hours, sing songs, tell jokes and stuff.  Not this mama.  I am highly allergic to smoke.  If I am anywhere near smoke, I will get sick.  Like lung infection, respiratory distress, (TMI) green phlegm kind of sick.  So is my kid.  Like as in all kinds of smoke.  The whole point of a Hybrid TT is it has tent-like ends that fold down on each end or sides of the unit.  These ends are made of tent-like material.  HELLO.  I am not risking that much money on the hope that I won't smell the smoke inside the unit.  I mean, come on.  Every time my husband comes back from camping, we have to completely sanitize all of the stuff he used during his trip.  The camp fire smoke infects everything.  So, all at once our dreams of Hybrid camping went poof.  At that point, we decided to put the entire RV thing on the back burner for awhile.

Except, the next day I needed to get my mind of making the remembrance cards for my dads funeral.  So what did I do?  I went back on Craigslist and started looking at used Class C Motor Homes.  Okay, so this is the point where I admit, this entire thing is kind of my fault.  If I would have stuck to the plan of waiting awhile, we more than likely would not be in this mess.  Super long story shortened:  I stumbled across the one we ended up purchasing.
1998 Jayco EAGLE Series M-267 F-FORD WB
 We knew by purchasing any used RV there would be some things we would have to "renovate" or "re-do".  "Re-do" is probably not the right term in this case.  More like "should have never even considered purchasing", but coulda, woulda shoulda... Mistake #2.

We were told this specific RV had some past water damage.  Most used RVs do.  The water damage occurred on the roof near the overhead bunk.  The previous owner had repaired the entry point and everything was "just fine now".  Yeah.  Understatement of the YEAR, people!  Mistake #3 (This entire "listing of the mistakes" is actually no longer any fun for me.  It actually is making me nauseous at the moment.  Suffice to say, I am going to stop with the bloggy-land sarcasm).

DISCLAIMER re My Mental State:
Let me sum this up in a quick paragraph or less - My dad had just died and I was in the middle of preparing for his service during our "Great Motor Home Hunt".  Needless to say, but fair to mention in case someone just isn't following here:  I was an emotional wreck.  I would have more than likely agreed to anything just to keep my mind of of what I was going through at the time.  What's the saying, "Hindsight is 20/20"??  Well, I am pretty sure I would not be interested in this same motor home had I been my normal, super rational (for the most part) self.

The Pictures
Because lets face it: pictures will tell you way more than I ever could.  The first three pictures are the ones I originally saw on Craigslist.  When we went to see the RV in person, it looked pretty much the same inside.

Kitchen looking toward the back
Looking toward the front
When we initially saw the RV, we knew the roof would need some general maintenance repairs.  This picture was taken a couple of days after we brought the RV home.
We figured all we needed to do inside was rip out the old flooring, reupholster the dinette and thoroughly clean and disinfect the unit.  Boy, were we wrong on so many levels.
Removing carpet and linoleum

Remember that smell I mentioned noticing the first day we looked at the RV?  Well, after Sal had ripped out all of the old flooring, it was still there.  I insisted we investigate further.  I started opening cupboards and closets and smelling everything.  I kept coming back to the same area near the dinette and that was where it was really bad.  I demanded asked him nicely to remove a small piece of the wallpaper so we could see what was behind it.  Based on his previous experience with me (hello 10k bathroom remodel), he decided to remove a piece of the wallpaper from inside of the cupboard.  At this point, he was super annoyed with me.  All he wanted to do was go down to Lowe's and pick out some flooring.  He even said something like, "If I remove a piece of this wallpaper and nothing is there, I am going to be upset".  Something like that.  I think there were a few choice words I refuse to type on a family-friendly blog.  Just saying.

At the time, I did not think to snap a picture of the initial cut and there was no way I was going anywhere near the inside after he made that first cut.  By the way he was talking out loud to himself, I knew it wasn't good news.  That "small" piece turned into the complete removal of the cupboards over the dinette are.  This is what was waiting for us:

Major wood rot caused by water damage
and that was only the beginning people...

The Water Damage
Is way worse than anyone ever thought.  The walls on 1/3 of the drivers side are completely rotten and the foam behind them has what looks like black mold.  BLACK!  The overhead bunk has to be completely rebuilt.  The only thing holding up the fiberglass siding are a few screws my husband has yet to remove.  My husband has already ripped out the flooring, removed all of the equipment from the roof, gutted the rotted wood walls and scraped most of the foam from the inside, removed almost the entire overhead bunk and some of the roof.  Here are some additional pictures:

Most of the rubber removed from the roof
Another shot - The dark part toward the front is wet wood
Where the cabinets used to be
Another shot of the same area
Below the cabinets, where the dinette used to be
Since there was so much damage and really no acceptable way to repair the rotten wood, and after much research, we decided to cut out all of the bad areas.  This includes the entire front bunk.  (I did not get a picture of this, but the guys told me when they started removing the drivers side front bunk area, water started pouring out!)

Our friend Ray and Sal removing the damaged front bunk area
Notice all of the black areas on the wall.  All of the wood in this area has been removed.  That is the foam that was behind the actual rotted wood.  Oh, and the black stuff - that is MOLD.
Another shot
Looking toward the front
Most of the damaged area has been removed
The Interior
The front of the cab is near perfect.  The seats show minimal wear, the wood grain looks great and the carpet doesn't have a stain on it.  This is the only area we are not ripping out.

Only someone above knows what has been used on the cushions throughout the rest of the motor home.  They smell like a mixture of old-lady perfume and funk.  We went to an upholstery shop today and they estimated $1,500 to replace all of the cushions in the dinette, the overhead bunk bed and recover everything including the valances.  The price also includes recovering one chair.  I know think we can do it ourselves for less.  After researching the best way to approach this and realizing how expensive foam is (!!) I am down to try anything to get the cushions clean and smelling freshly laundered before shelling out hundreds of dollars on foam.  I am going to attempt to clean one of them by placing it in the bathtub with oxi-clean and detergent and pounding on them until the water rinses clean (settle down, I plan on using gloves)...then air drying outdoors for a few days.  I will also try a baking soda method I read about and then go from there.  I figure it will save me hundreds of dollars if it works.  If it doesn't, then I only wasted a few hours.  At least I will know I exhausted all possible ways to save us some money.

So to recap, we need:
  • A completely new roof
  • New interior walls
  • Repair or replace the fiberglass on the drivers side and the overhead bunk
  • New cushions and upholstery
  • Paint the entire interior including cabinets and walls
  • Replace the toilet and bathroom sink (they work, but are really discolored due to age.  The shower, on the other hand, is fine).
  • Brand new flooring throughout (the sub-floors look perfect.  No water damage or anything).
  • New hardware (handles and hinges) throughout
  • Attempt to clean the day/night shades
  • and probably a ton of things we don't even realize yet
The good news is the RV runs like a champ.  It passed smog, is fully insured and Sal had new tires put on it.  This was before we realized how much work was yet to be done.

I always say there is a reason for everything and I truly believe that.  Throughout this experience, I have learned way more than one ever needs to know re motor homes.  I can easily explain how to tear off and rebuild a roof (the rubber EPDM kind) on an RV; what to look for when browsing used RVs and most importantly what to run away from.  I have researched everything from how to clean the old, nasty, rank-smelling foam cushions, and  re-cover them, to the cheapest place I have found to purchase new custom foam replacement cushions from.  I have researched the best way to clean the stained day/night shades and maintain the pleats while drying.  I have read, browsed and commented on many a blog and forum post throughout the world wide web (does anyone even call the Internet that anymore?) as well as "pinned" a ton of stuff to my Pinterest account.

Will any of this actually work??  How the heck do I know?!  We are just getting started...
What I can say is this:  Remember that bathroom of ours?  Before my accusation re the mold, it was the original 1950's mint green bathroom.  We now have a travertine-tiled, spa-like bathroom complete with a eucalyptus steam shower.  That has got to count for something.

Anyone?  Anyone??

Ray said the RV is now the "Ultimate Beach Cruiser".  He has jokes.