Monday, July 27, 2015

RV Renovation - The Bathroom edition

The bathroom was probably the biggest disaster we were dealing with and since the toilet was out and then replaced it was here we started with the renos. We decided to paint all our cabinets and this was where we started!

Here's the obligatory 'Before' shot of the old toilet, sink and cabinets;

All the cabinet and closet doors came off. Surfaces were thoroughly cleaned with a strong solution of TSP and then very lightly sanded, and then cleaned off again. The doors were part real wood (the framework around the outsides), and part dodgy wood-effect laminate type stuff (the centre of the doors). The cabinet bases were all the laminate. I say laminate - I think it's some sort of particle board that's been covered with a wood effect kind of paper. All I do know that when it's in contact with water over extended periods of time the board expands and the paper cover 'bursts' so we have a few lumps and bumps around from the water leakage issues we've had.

We bought Behr One-Coat latex paint in semi-gloss for the cabinets (Whisper White). The nice man at Home Depot convinced me I wouldn't need a primer with this paint. I was skeptical. And I had good reason. The cabinet base took 3-4 coats of paint (that was the fake wood stuff). It was tedious work I'm not gonna lie. All those nooks and crannies where you needed to use a paint brush. The top coat was done with a small foam roller which evened out the brush strokes and left a nice smooth finish to all the flat fronted areas. Same with the doors - we used a brush to get into the corners and edges of the doors and then the fronts were finished off with top coats using the roller. (The real wood edges generally needed less paint - just 3 coats).

Cabinet doors everywhere! We probably could've saved ourselves a bunch of time doing them in a more assembly line style but space was limited!

I originally wanted all new hardware for the doors but I started realizing just how much work and money that was going to be. I opted for (near) instant gratification of spray painting. All the hinges, screws and door handles were soaked in the TSP solution, sanded if necessary and thoroughly dried. Some had a little rust on them but nothing too bad. I used the Rustoleum Satin Black spray paint and gave everything a couple of coats - if you look closely they aren't perfect but I'm not planning on spending a lot of time getting up close and personal with my closet door hinges...

Making progress - one coat paint was definitely not 1 coat!! More like 4 but we got there in the end!

When the doors were off we realised we were liking the look of a couple of them without doors. Since we're not planning on driving around in Harvey all that much these days we figured that we'd leave them that way. In the bathroom we had a tiny shallow cupboard next to the sink which is now just open shelving and has given us the added bonus of having a usable counter top which we can put things on (Since before it had to be left clear to be able to open/close the cupboard door). We also liked the open shelving look under the sink. I considered hanging a little curtain there (all twee and cottage like) but in the end decided that some basket storage would look great. (if/when we're ever driving Harvey we'll figure out a plan for storing those items but 98% of the time he's parked up for months at a time so it's just not of concern to us right now.)

I was trying to find some baskets that worked for our space but it wasn't that easy. We had some pipework in the way on the top shelf so the baskets acted more as a cover-up than a functional storage box. In the end I decided to make some boxes myself that would custom fit in the space and around some pipework

We painted over the exisiting wallpaper. It was a smooth paper in great condition so after a quick wipe over with the TSP solution we painted with an Eggshell finish paint in a greige colour (Behr's 'Creme de la Creme'). It went on sooooooo nicely - we barely needed a second coat and it was a real pleasure job after all the cabinets!

The final update to the bathroom was the addition of some tiling around the sink area. Adding some tiling really jazzed things up and changed the look dramatically! I used the peel and stick Stick-it Tiles'. I'm delighted with the look but not totally convinced on the application. I think they may have 'slipped' slightly since I put them on and the top edges are peeling back a little. They do suggest using glue which seems to defeat the idea of self adhesive tiles but I will try next.

All that's left is the flooring - which will hopefully happen sometime this fall (once we've installed a new roof and hopefully stopped any water leakage issues!!).

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Harvey gets a makeover...Our RV Renovation project!

So back in the day we used to travel around North America in Harvey. It was the travelling around for nearly 5 years that led us to Canada. When we eventually settled and bought our home in the Okanagan Harvey the RV took some much needed down time and sat out to pasture for a few years in a friend's field. Amazingly nearly 6 years have passed since that happened! And our poor old friend is showing the signs of neglect and his age (Harvey is a 1996 National Dolphin 36ft Motorhome).

After friends borrowed him last year for the summer he did make a small comeback and really importantly reminded us that there's life in the old boy yet! We had in mind that this summer we'd book him into a local campsite (just a couple of miles from home) and we'd spent a healthy amount of time chilling out down at the lake...

Because this is our view from the door!

(best spot in the campsite right on the beach!)

Except things never really go quite as planned do they?!! Once on site we discovered that he hadn't been winterized properly and just about every bit of plumbing was leaking. Then that list of problems just started getting added to...I could give you a giant pity party list of everything that was wrong but honestly I'll just bore myself and start sobbing (again). We'd been told about a leaking toilet prior to getting Harvey back from the friends who'd borrowed him - unfortunately the fix they'd done involved a small glass bowl catching the drips and not a not else! But whilst fixing that issue we discovered a much larger issue - since the toilet hadn't been drained for the winter the water sat in the pipework had frozen and split the pipes. We didn't realize this till we turned on the water and the next day discovered a slow leak had seaped its way all across the bathroom carpet. It was this sodden carpet that was the catalyst in getting stuck in renovation mode.

(Note: Since Harvey is 20 years old we'd had various renovation projects on our radar for a few years, but had originally envisioned doing it at a slow and relaxed pace - nothing was urgent, just some gentle upgrades along the way whilst still enjoying spending time using him!)

So the carpet and underlay were ripped up and the floor cleaned and sanitized. We removed the toilet to try and fix it but new parts were going to cost so much that in the end we opted to treat ourselves to a brand new toilet - with the added bonus of replacing the dodgy cream version for a nice clean fresh white model. So.much.better. All the faucets were replaced and the leaks stopped - finally we were back in action with water - hurrah! (apart from the small issue of a split hot water - yes that too hadn't been drained so we were left with this...

Yikes!! We've been able to isolate the hot water tank so for now we're just carrying on with no hot water - still figuring out a way to NOT spend $700 on a new tank)

I'm not sure at what point I ended up down the path of complete renovation but I think Pinterest must take much of the responsibility! Honestly I got carried away with pretty pictures, beautiful decor and clever hacks and tips to DIY reno' your RV or trailer!

So stayed tuned.....this really is our ultimate story of 'What Happened Next' (it's come full circle from the start of my blog writing days, of travelling for 5 years in an RV, life after travelling and now back with our same faithful friend getting his very own chapter of the story of 'what happened next!' - read the background story of my blog name here)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Whitehorse Adventure

Our Valentine weekend getaway took us to a 'new-to-us' Canadian Territory - the Yukon! It was a fun little winter wonderland getaway. Of course we had in mind that travelling so far 'up north' in winter might give us a glimpse of the Northern yet elusive to us both (after travelling in search of them a few years back to Iceland without success)...this was it - round 2 in the Aurora battle....*

Whitehorse is a pretty small town of around 37,000. It's the main city in the Yukon with over 75% of the population living there! Whilst it started off it's life caught up in the craziness of the Klondike Gold Rush, it's settled into it's current role as a main stop-off on the Alaska Highway. The highway was built in 1942-43 by the US Army after the Pearl Harbour attacks. It was handed over to the Canadians following the war and now it a major tourist route between northern BC and Alaska where thousands travel each year. Obviously not many of them travel the road in winter....and so Whitehorse is quite a sleepy little place in the off-season! But that's not to say we didn't have plenty to fill our time on our 3.5 day break!

Downtown Whitehorse - the museum and main street

We used Airbnb to book our accommodation. (and if you use this link to sign up for Airbnb you'll get a $30 credit on your first stay!) We spent our first 2 nights in the city and the second 2 nights at an incredible Mongolian Yurt about 1/2 hour out of town overlooking a frozen Cowley Lake. The Yurt wasn't just our bed for the night but ended up being a really memorable part of our trip! We arrived after dark and had a brief 1/4km walk through the trees and along a ridge line to get to the yurt on a well trodden snowy path. It was a clear night so we got a hint of what the view would bring us come morning - it was so exciting! Our host had the wood burning stove roaring away and the yurt was amazingly cozy and we immediately felt right at home. Come morning we stepped out onto the little deck perched right on the edge of a high ridge to a stunning view of the snowy mountains in the distance and an expansive view out over a frozen Cowley Lake.

Views from our cozy Yurt! Overlooking a frozen Cowley Lake where we snowshoed on our final morning!
We spent some time exploring Whitehorse itself - the city is quite compact and easy to walk around...we got lucky with the weather and had quite mild temperatures during our stay. We found some awesome little shops to explore - the Aroma Borealis was a lovely shop full of scents, potions and crystals - we brought home one of their unique essential oil blends. The Collective Good was another favourite - it was a beautifully curated design store of unusual and modern home decor, clothing, accessories and gift items with a great selection of local items but full of many others from all around the world - we'd been looking for some coat hooks for our mud room for the longest time and I was happy to find something a little different here! And we couldn't pass up the opportunity to get our 'outdoor store' fix! - we both could spend forever in a great outdoor & sports clothing and equipment store - Coast Mountain Sports was Whitehorse's answer to REI and MEC! Obviously it's a great outdoor adventure area and they have a fabulous store to service it! And of course we couldn't pass up the local brew - Yukon Brewing, where you can sample all their beers on tap!

It may be small but Whitehorse serves up some top-notch eats! We loved pastries at Baked Cafe, Brunch at Burnt Toast, hot chocolate and snacks at Bean North. We dined at Antoinette's on our first night - a friendly and busy spot serving incredible Jamaican food with some wicked flavour and flare. We took our time over dinner, enjoying the house created cocktails and even managed to save room for dessert - squeezing in as much of the awesome food as possible! We picnicked in the yurt on our second night and on our final night hit up the Dirty Northern bar. We'd heard great things about their pizza and it didn't disappoint.

We lounged in the thermal waters at Takhini Hot Springs, visited the small but awesome MacBride Museum - I loved exploring the exhibits on 'ye old life' and socio-economic growth of the town - lots of stuff on the gold rush and rural outpost type life!  We took a 2 hour drive south to pop into Skagway, Alaska (where it was a totally different climate and not a snowflake in sight!). The drive south was stunning and we had gorgeous weather for it - blue skies and the crisp white snowy mountains as far as the eye could see, stopping at Carcross briefly en route!

Views around Carcross on our day trip to Alaska!

Our final morning before our flight home we squeezed in a snowshoe hike across Cowley Lake - the snow was crazy deep so it was a healthy workout! Just as well as our journey home ended up being rather long and frustrating. Having flown via Vancouver all the way back to Kelowna, we were on finals with the wheels down before deciding the fog was too bad and they routed us back to Vancouver with a night in a hotel! Oh well, bonus day on vacation!! And a great vacation it was too!

*And whilst we caught a glimpse of the Northern Lights it was a little faint and shimmery pale blues - not the wild dancing greens you see in photos, and so for now I'm not quite 'satisfied' enough to check it off my bucket list and the aurora battle continues!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Guest Wifi Print download

This is perfect for our guest room, one of those added little touches to help our guests feel at home and settled in quickly. It's been particularly ideal for our Airbnb guests!

I'd seen a few variations of this idea online but decided to create my own. And I'm happy to share!

You can download a PDF file - in either gray or cream (with the network details left blank so you can either write in or print your details) or a PSD file which is fully editable in Photoshop - if you use this version you can get fancy and add your own background papers!

Enjoy! and please share and leave me some love in the comments if you like!

Linking to Marvellous in my Monday! #MIMM

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

NYE 2015 Murder Mystery Luau Party!

We spent our New Year's eve at a Hawaiian Luau. Sadly it was not in Hawaii but it was a ton of fun and we got in the hula girl mood!! (including Meli! - she had more fun that this photos suggest honest!)

We hosted a Murder Mystery party! I purchased the game online from who have dozens and dozens of game options depending on the size of your group, your male/female ratio and even the age of the attendees (some games were specifically suited to kids or teens). Eventually I decided on the Hawaiian Luau theme - I wanted our guests to dress up, but didn't want the costumes to be too involved given the busy holiday season - and everyone has beach wear! (Even if it's buried away in the bottom drawer right now!)

Once you buy the game you get instant access to download your party pack and invitations. Despite the rather hefty 60 page document it wasn't too difficult to coordinate. As host I read through the first dozen pages or so to understand my role and suggested process of the party. The remaining pages were ready to print clue cards, games, 'investigation sheets' and recipes. Once printed I needed to cut up and seal into envelopes all the clue cards (We had 3 rounds of our game and 10 players). I also needed to print some miscellaneous bits and pieces like 'evidence records' and victim props.

The instructions were clear and for each round you were given a handy check-list of everything you needed, right down to suggestions on when you should be serving your food (it was suggested you based the evening around a 3 course meal). Much as I tried to absorb all the information I needed beforehand I did find myself retreating off to a quiet place a couple of times to review and 'prep' for the next round!

I had some fun with the decorations - I turned our lamp into a palm tree, we had grass 'fringe' all the way round the table and kitchen counters and we got some awesome giant tiki decorations for the wall and a beach scene that fitted our windows perfectly. We strung up some mini lights, had a tiki hut door fringe and decked our snowman on the porch out in his own grass skirt and leii! Salads were served in colourful buckets with spades as serving spoons. Honestly my creative side had a blast converting our kitchen and dining area a little Hawaiian paradise!! I got some perfect decorations and supplies from Party City and our local dollar store. (The 8ft Hanging palm tree was the priciest investment but it was totally awesome in our hallway - it's tempting to leave it up all year!!)

As host I had no idea who the victim was, nor who the murderer was. Again the instructions are clear as to how to ensure you remain in the dark and have just as much fun as the rest of the guests! I had to 'hide' away some props for the victim to use but until they got up to leave the room I had no idea! In the end our victim was Chris!! When he left the room his instructions had told him to go to the bathroom and find props that I'd left under the bathroom sink - there was white face paint (to make himself up to look 'ghost-like!', the weapon used to kill him (in this case a bloodied coconut!) and a funny 'victim' sign to wear! From that moment on he was still part of the game but couldn't talk - only gestures and hand signals allowed!! (think Charades!) - it was funny!
Our unfortunate victim...played by Chris!

We cranked the heating up to 27-28 for the night so the place was hot! Just as well as we had Deanie & Liz in bikinis & Grass Skirts, Dustin as our resident life guard, a couple of beach bimbos, Amos as the useless waiter and a couple of total beach nerds - fisherman Jack and Sol the donut man....

It was a lot of fun - great to have a bit of focus and structure to the evening rather than just drinking and chatting, though obviously there was plenty of that too! We'd arranged a little cocktail menu, and had plenty of snacks and appies - we barely made it to the main course of BBQ & Pulled Pork sliders! It was chaotic (made even more so in our case since we had a couple of characters pull out at the last minute so we had to improvise and had 2 guests play 2 roles each (with a mini wardrobe change to represent which character they were playing - it wasn't ideal but it worked - sort of!!)

Characters would receive their clue cards on which they were provided info on themselves to keep secret and information they were specifically instructed to share with certain characters. There were also questions you needed to ask others, and information you were instructed to find out. By any means....we added in the optional 'money challenge - where everyone started off with 4 loonies and they could use them to bribe or pay for information! Each round provided the character with more information to share, conceal or acquire!

Let me just say that cocktails and Round 3 get messy! It was tricky to keep the momentum going towards the end but we just about managed it - we were all too jolly to be bothered by then! We finished off the game in style with our murderer revealed and instructed to produce a rap song of his dastardly deed! And shortly after we rung in 2015! Happy New Year y'all!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Best of 2014

A little late in pulling these together but here are some of my favourite moments of 2014 in pictures;

Happy New Year to you all!

(here's my best of 2013 post)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Love Bomb!

Nothing like getting Love Bombed!

We 'found' this in our house a little while ago. We concluded one of our lovely Airbnb guests left it. It had been discreetly placed in our gym area in among the hand weights. Chris discovered it a couple of days later...and then he left it on the kitchen counter-top so when I got home from work I 'found' it too! 

The idea is delightful! "Anonymous art in the name of love [and fun]" I 'found' our love bomb at the end of a day, at the end of tough working week...and the sentiment was just what I needed - a little boost of love! 

This is the description of the Guerrilla Art Love Bombs from their Facebook page;
Who: We are an anonymous, ever growing inter-generational group of local folks dedicated to having fun and sharing artful messages of love, hope and opportunity in our community. Anyone who shares this view is welcome join us.
What: Our definition of Guerrilla Art is earth friendly, non-violent, non-destructive, dedicated to sharing positive messages. We create art by using found natural objects or recycled materials. Performance art will also be a part of our repertoire.
Why: We believe that getting folks of all ages together to have fun, create art, share food and music is the best way to change the world, inspire hope and build a community based on creativity and love.
Much as I'd love to hold onto this Love Bomb forever it seemed more in the spirit of things to pass it along. I got the boost of love and human kindness in that moment and that was enough - now it's time to do the same for someone else.

And I want to add to the movement by creating a couple of my own 'Love Bombs' - this is such a fun idea - who wants to join me? Let's spread the love!

Linking up today to Marvelous in my Monday #MIMM
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