Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I showed you our amazing new summer home last post and promised you some changes.  I have big design plans for this joint starting with these potential todos:

1.  Replace the pink and blue curtains (for some reason, to me, used fabric = unsanitary goods)
2.  Recover the dining area cushions (the existing fabric is in good shape, but unattractive (unnamed individuals told me I couldn't do this so I am out to prove them wrong (I love parentheticals)))
3.  Paint the cabinets (they have a weird gold strip in every door and I clearly love painting cabinets)
4.  Paint the walls (why do they default to muted pink pastel walls in all 90s campers?)
5.  Potentially add a new floor (there are some holes in the existing linoleum)
6.  Buy some bedding
7.  Add some awesome inexpensive camper friendly decor

To make this happen here are some ideas we are thinking of right now... (well mostly me, Titus just wants to go camping)


1.  Replace all curtains with ones made of Sarah Watts Timber and Leaf Bush Bear in Taupe
2.  Throw pillow for the dining area in Sarah Watts Timber and Leaf Fawn in Birch in Blue
3.  Throw pillow for the dining area in Sarah Watts Timber and Leaf Fox Portrait in Gold
4.  Throw pillow for the dining area in Sarah Watts Timber and Leaf Gerbera in Turquoise 
5.  Throw pillow for the dining area in Sarah Watts Timber and Leaf Playful Fox in Blue
6.  New fabric for seating area cushions in Premier Prints Chipper Cloud/Denton
7.  Possibly paint the fridge in chalkboard paint
8.  New framed map on the wall above the master bed with pushpins for each location we travel to
9.  Awesome felt plush deer
10.  The outdoor rug we got from Titus' parents for Christmas for under the awning
11.  New mirror from Target for the bathroom to replace the less than attractive medicine cabinet
12.  Add a string of lights for along the awning to light up our nights
13.  New vinyl stick flooring to cover the missing chunks of linoleum

I have already received fabrics 1-6 in the mail and am working on sewing cushion covers against all odds.  Painting will have to wait until Minnesota leans a little closer to the sun again since it requires temperatures greater than 40 degrees or something much warmer than it has been here in decades.  I am so ridiculously excited to use this beautiful trailer I could cry.

Summer Home

We bought a new home.  It will pretty much just be our summer home, but it really a dream come true for us.

Isn't she a real beauty.  Titus and I both love our camping, so we decided to upgrade from a tent to a new to us camper!  Now for your tour...

On the right as you walk in the front door, is the dining area. The table folds down into a bed somehow.  Above the table is another folded down loft type bed.  The mattress can be removed and the support folded up into a storage cabinet, as well, which is how we plan to us the area.

There is also a tall closet to the left of the dining area which is pretty much amazing.

To the left of the front door is the kitchen which has a stove, sink, and microwave.  Down the hall from the kitchen is the bathroom on the right and our bedroom at the end.

The kitchen has tons of storage.  Especially compared to the plastic tubs and tent we used to use for camping.

The bathroom is fairly precious.  It is so tiny I couldn't even get a decent picture of it.  It has a hideous medicine cabinet, a mini vanity, a weird toilet that sits directly in front of the vanity, and a mini shower/tub dealio.

The master bedroom is at the back of the trailer.  It has its very own entrance for some reason.  My mom is relieved that we will have a second fire escape.

There is a tall closet and drawers on the back left wall, and the bed is against the back right.  I was pretty happy the bed wasn't centered like most trailers, so there is room for Jacque to sleep next to our bed.  Don't you love those gorgeous etched mirrors above the bed?  And between them is an even weirder square of ugly blue fabric which matches the hideous curtains.

Across from the bed is a wall with some ugly art and the previous owners TV mount.  In the opposite corner is a random mirror and a mini cabinet.  The best thing about the bedroom is that it has a door which could separate us from the potential small loud children of our future.

So there she is in all her glory.  We have big plans to pretty this little lady up which I will share with you in a future post.  I have already begun the changes in preparation for the upcoming camping season.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Kitchen Rundown

We are calling the kitchen done.  The full trio is super close, but we still have to remove the death windows from the dining room.  So for now, we are sticking with just the kitchen being done.  It may have taken 10 months as opposed to 1 or 2 like we initially though, but it was totally worth every minute.  I think we could have completed it in close the originally estimated time, however, we got very distracted by Minnesota's short summer along the way.  There were also many projects we partook in along the way... like painting other rooms and such.

Excuses aside, we are super happy to have gone from this:

to this:

In less than a year.  Here's what our to do list looks like now... (followed by a budget breakdown at the bottom)

Updated List (for the whole trio)

1. Paint the window and door trim and baseboards white
2. Remove the “garage door” on the bottom of the cabinet to the left of the sink.
3. Remove the cabinet connector wood above the sink window
4. Paint the cabinets white (twice!)
5. Build a pantry where the useless desk resides
6. Spray paint or replace the gold cabinet door hinges with nickel hinges
7. Replace the light above the sink
8. Get new countertops
9. Replace the hideous linoleum (floor removal, floor installation)
10. Refinish the stairs to match the new floor
11. Refinish the railing with darker stain to match the floor and paint the spindles white
12. Add trim around the base of the cabinets instead of quarter round
13. Paint all the walls
14. Make new curtains for the sliding glass door
15. Paint the existing or buy new stools that actually fit the peninsula
16. Install a backsplash
17. Install board and batten on stairs
18. Buy a stainless stove to match the other appliances
19. Remove the hazardous windows in the dining area that open into the downstairs
20. Buy an appropriately sized rug for the entryway
21. Buy a waterproof rug for the entryway closest to protect the laminate against Minnesota winter
22. Create some sort of wall decor in the dining room (first time, and second time)
23. Get new decor for the closet plateau
24. Move stove outlet so stove can be pushed back into place properly
25. Repaint Silver Sateen around the cabinets
26. Bend the hinges on the misaligned cabinet doors so they close properly

Questionable to dos:
24. Bring in some sort of seating in the entryway for the guests to sit on for shoe doings Not happening
25. Get new light fixtures for above the table and in the entryway.  Not happening

You may recall we had hoped to spend less than $7,000 on the entire trio.  To complete this, we saved up before we started, Dave Ramsey style... we do not partake in the whole debt deal since interest is no friend of ours.  So here's the whole spending shebang:

Cabinet painting and supplies (including the sprayer):  $393.45
Cabinet hinges:  $109.68
Light above sink:  $172.10
Flooring (including all transition pieces and installation kit:  $1,011.36
Counters, sink, faucet, and install:  $2,025.00
Building new pantry:  $126.61
Wall painting and supplies: $116.40
Backsplash and supplies:  $327.15
New oven:  $1,033.67

Sub total:  $5,315.42

You may remember when our countertop installers took three large chunks out of our newly installed laminate floors... we ended up getting $1,000 from them to replace our floors so we can definitely say...

Total $4,315.42

Which is well under our $7,000 budget.  Even though that budget is for the entire trio and this total is just for the kitchen,  it looks like we will definitely still make it in under budget for the whole trio!  Kitchen renovations can easily run people $30,000 so coming in just over 14% of that makes us pretty darn proud.

I know the amount of time we spent on this kitchen may be very off-putting to some of you readers, but the fact that we were able to make such a dramatic change with such a small budget is pretty awesome to us.  Not to mention the pride we have in all that we have accomplished!

And for your viewing pleasure... more afters.

The view to the dining room...

No more garage door allowed for an amazing cookie jar and a plant for the only room with a south facing window.

Weird useless office area turned amazingly beautiful pantry.

It almost makes me want to cook...

Thursday, January 17, 2013


For your viewing pleasure... our long lost kitchen.  We last left you months ago a little something like this:

Beautiful but not yet finished.  As you can see to the left of the stools, we purchased backsplash supplies long ago and never told you.  We ended up getting the most amazing 1" x 1" Hampton Carrara marble hex tile from The Tile Shop during their Labor Day Sale.  These hex tiles are great because they come in 12" x 12" sheets for easier installation.  I also loved the look of a marble subway tile, however, we decided on a smaller size tile since the area of our backsplash is fairly small and a larger tile would look a little weird.

It took about a month to get enough tile in stock for us.  Then about two months later we finally started the install after being nominated to host Brue Christmas.

We started the install by removing the outlet covers and covering the counters in paper.

We also removed the microwave since it is best practice to tile up to the bottom of the cabinets and our microwave hangs lower.

We started installing the tile in the bottom right corner or our tiling area.  Unfortunately that meant immediately dealing with an outlet.  To cut out the outlet area, I measured where the outlet would fall on our first tile sheet and cut out any tiles that would overlap the outlet even a tiny amount.  This was done by cutting the back netting around the tiles needing to be removed with a utility knife.

After the outlet area was removed, I used a notched trowel (the triangle notches are used for backsplashes) to apply the premixed Premium Pro-Mastic mortar and pressed on the first tile sheet.  I made sure to press the sheet firmly all over while making sure I didn't apply so much mortar hat it pressed out further than halfway up the thickness of each tile.

As you can see on the right edge is missing a half tile on every other row.  Our plan was to fill this in with half tiles after all the fill sheets are put up.  I'm not sure if that is the best idea, but it worked for us.  I did try to remove the mortar from where the half tiles would need to go, so it wouldn't dry and cause the future tiles to sit higher than the rest of the sheet.  the same would be done with the partial tiles needed around the outlets.

I actually didn't use any spacers between sheets.  Instead, I made sure to step back from the backsplash after putting each sheet up to insure the spacing was right.  This seemed to work for us since we can't see any gaps between sheets now that everything is finished.

When tiling the line behind the oven, where no counter existed to keep the tile level, we drew a line level with the counters to line the bottom of the tile sheets up to which ensured they would be at the right level when we reached the other counter.

While I applied the mortar and tile sheets, Titus was out in the garage doing the dirty work.  He used a borrowed tile saw to cut any sheets that needed to but cut around the windows or cabinets.  When cutting the tiles, he always applied a piece of masking tape to the tile to prevent chipping.  Marble is fairly brittle and, in our experience, it tended to chip along the cut line very easily when cut.  Titus actually cut all the partial tiles we needed with the tile saw, as well, but said it was difficult to cut any of the tiles smaller than in half.

Since we have a counter overhang that extends further than the cabinet above, we didn't totally know where to end the backsplash.  Some people end it at the edge of the cabinet, some end it at the edge of the overhanging counter, I'm not a huge fan of either.  We remedied this by extending the backsplash to the edge of the overhanging counter, but then extending it up higher near the top of the cabinets to create a more balanced look. I couldn't really find any examples of this on the internet, so I basically was just hoping what I saw in my head would look sufficient.

Along the edges of the tile we installed Hampton Carrara Polished Somserset pieces along the edges of the tile.  Like the right side we just waited and installed half tiles on every other row here as well.

The area between the cabinets and the window were definitely the hardest.  It actually worked out do just cut 2.5 x 2.5 tile  chunks by cutting the backing of sheets similar to how we cut out outlet holes.  We then filled all those missing half tile holes later with half tiles like the other edges.

For the outlet holes Titus cut smaller tiles to fill the gaps, and we added some outlet extenders so the outlets. It was fairly difficult to get these small partial tiles perfect since the wall around the outlet hole is not level either... I did my best... plus the outlet cover would cover most issues.

It took approximately 8 hours to install the tile to our entire backsplash, which was actually much faster than I had anticipated.  Oddly enough, nothing really went wrong, which seemed a bit concerning.  I was so entirely convinced that I would wake up the next day and the entire backsplash would be lying on the counter.

Oh how I miss seeing grass out my window...

As you can see, we did not install tiny triangles along the bottom edge of the tile since, as I mentioned earlier, it was pretty much impossible for us to cut a tile smaller than half.  We also tried to cut the tiles with one of those tile clipper dealios, but the hex tiles were so much thicker than glass tiles it just didn't work (they pretty much chipped into jagged pieces).

Just look at that thing shine.

The next morning I woke up, and by some miracle the backsplash was still standing.  So, after 24 hours of mortar curing I was allowed to start grouting.  We chose an unsanded grout since we liked the look better, sanded grout can easily scratch marble, and we didn't need the added durability of sanded grout.

I prepped by applying painter's tape to all the edges of the tiles.

Including the cabinets.  

I then mixed up some grout according to the directions since we made the poor decision of purchasing the non premixed grout.  To apply the grout I used a float trowel that has a foamy pad on it.  I basically threw a bunch of grout on the tile and pressed it into the cracks at many different angles, while scraping off as much excess as possible.  I only mixed enough grout to last me about 10 minutes, then, went back and used a wet sponge to wipe off as much excess grout from the surface of the tile as possible.

After I had used up the first tub of grout, I started mixing the second tub, which was clearly a different color than the first tub I had used up.  It turned out the people at the Tile Shop had given me one tub of the wrong color grout; I had wanted white, but they gave me one white and one dove gray.  Devastation struck when I realized that I had used the incorrect dove gray first...  When first mixing the grout I had simply assumed that the grout would lighten upon drying instead of actually checking we had the right color.  Assumptions are unintelligent.  By this time, it was too late to run to The Tile Shop to get another tub of the wrong color grout to finish the botched job, so I just moped the rest of the night waiting to go back.

The next morning I woke up to a Sunday miracle.  The grout had indeed lightened overnight and appeared almost white.  It turned out to be quite a blessing in disguise since I actually like it more than the white I had seen in the showroom.  Below you can see the difference between the grout dried (on the right) and wet (on the left).

Grouting took about 4 total hours which was a lot longer than I had estimated.  I was also surprised how much haze was left on the grout when I was done.  Luckily I had picked up some haze remover from The Tile Shop when I picked up the second tub of wrong color grout.

I waited until the next day to use the haze remover since the grout should be dry before using it (FYI: the grout gives instructions on how to let the grout dry slowly by wetting it each day etc, but we did not do this... hopefully that works out... it has thus far).  The haze remover worked great and was super easy to use.  After it had dried our tile was sparkling again.

It looks pretty much amazing.  Admittedly slightly less amazing than I had pictured.  I mean, I really like it, but for some reason I always feel like it looks a little more bathroom than I had expected.

After another day of drying we put the microwave back up.  I had cut out tiles where the microwave screws needed to go into the wall when installing the tile sheets under the microwave.

You may also remember that our new oven has sat a few inches away from the wall ever since we got it.  This was because the outlet was further over than the special outlet cutout area in the back of our new oven, therefore the plug got in the way of the oven moving back.

Titus and I had actually planned on moving the outlet ourselves, but when we removed the cover it ended up being more difficult than we had thought.  So we hired our favorite electrician Andre who came over that night and made a fancy outlet move.

He ended up just moving the outlet to the other side of the wall stud (which is what we figured needed to be done).  It was easier for him since he had the huge stud drill tool needed to do this.  I also love how he calculated his drywall cut so he could just flip the drywall rectangle 180 degrees so we didn't need to patch anything when he was done.

Now we have a beautiful backsplash and an oven moved all the way back to the wall.  Crazy biz.

I love the marble so much.  Probably the most attractive natural stone the big guy ever made.

The variations of color are pretty awesome.

We actually installed the backsplash right after Thanksgiving with hopes of applying the grout sealing before Christmas (but after the 30 day waiting period), however, we still haven't gotten to it.  We hope to apply it soon so we don't get any permanent spaghetti stains along the way.

Until then, here is the pretty nice before:

And the beloved after:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Late and Last

On New Years weekend I was so excited to go up North for some hometown Christmasing with my family! My sister, brother-in-law and their two sons would join Titus and me at our mom and dads house for Christmas dinner round two.  I was apparently far too busy eating my prime rib to photograph that moment.

After dinner our three year old nephew Brecken was happy to start opening. presents.  He helped his dad and granny pass out the presents.

After everything was passed out, Brecken and his eleven month old bro, Isaiah, viciously opened all their presents.  The rest of the adults opened their presents in order of age after the kids were finished.  

Jacque and Isaiah loved each other and followed each other everywhere.  Sorry the terrible picture is evidence of how impossible it is to photograph moving dogs and babies.

After all the presents were opened, we began the German tradition of finding the hidden pickle in the tree.  Since Brecken is so young, my mom hid a giant candy cane in the tree for him to find.

Brecken immediately found the giant candy cane after my mom had grossly underestimated his eye sight.

The adults, however, searched for a pickle for an embarrassingly long time.  My dad hung an actual dill pickle on an ornament hanger in the tree.  One person searches for the pickle at a time in order of youngest to oldest.  In the first round everyone gets 30 seconds to look for the pickle.  Everyone gets a minutes in all remaining rounds.  I lost count of the number of rounds we looked.  Thankfully my brother-in-law saved us all when he finally found the pickle after my dad limited the viewing area to about one square foot.

After the pickle was finally found, we took the necessary family photos.  Here's the Brues

And my whole family... My sister, brother-in-law, and their kids, Titus and me, and my mom and dad.

My grandma and Don also spent the day with us, but got out of pictures.

The boys got some stories from their granny before they had to head to bed for the night.

And a little play time with Brecken's new animals

Oh and my mom remembered to put my very favorite Christmas ornament on the tree!  It's from my very first Christmas alive.

We celebrated New Years with the same crowd.  Unfortunately I am not a night person (I go to bed at 9pm on work nights), so it got a little painful near the end, but I made it all the way to midnight... then immediately proceeded to bed.

My sister, mom, Titus, and I played my favorite game, Pictionary.  My sister and I dominated my mom and Titus.

Brecken joined in at the end.

After Pictionary we played some Uno, did a small amount of puzzle assembly, and put in a lot of effort to not fall asleep.

Overall the whole weekend was great.  I loved being able to see my family for a second Christmas celebration.  Family rules, Jesus rules, and luckily for you, I'm totally done talking about it until next Christmas!!