A family on the road living fulltime in an RV.

Category: Preparation

Heart or Head – Searching for the Best Family Travel Trailer

Finding a new RV We began our search for a new RV the moment we decided to sell our old one. My heart bleeds gypsy blood and to not have…

Finding a new RV

We began our search for a new RV the moment we decided to sell our old one. My heart bleeds gypsy blood and to not have an RV would make the next few years feel even more like a prison than it already does. Okay, so I’m being a little dramatic but we love having an RV for many reasons. It makes traveling affordable. RVing allows us to be remote or as urban as we want to be. It’s one of the ways our family connects and creates forever memories. RVing allows for more comfortable and extended visits with family. I love my family but I also love my space.

Jayco pop-up trailer

When we first started RVing many years ago we had a pop-up trailer that we loved. We would park it under the shade of the Sequoia trees in the Sierra Nevada Mountains or along the California Coast. It was perfect for that time of our lives. Since then we’ve discovered we love winter RVing so a pop-up isn’t going to work. We’ve also grown a bit and were spoiled by our 41’ Gateway fifth wheel.

cedar-creek silverback 5th wheel camper

In between the pop-up and Gateway, we had a 35’ Cedar Creek fifth wheel. It was really great but the big boys really wanted more space if we were going to keep full timing and I was kinda tired of the small kitchen counter. The one thing we loved about the Cedar Creek was the shorter length opened up more camping options. Many parks have 35’ length restrictions and we fit in a lot of driveways. The Gateway at 41’ no longer fit in my or Brent’s parents driveway and occasionally we couldn’t stay in some parks because it was too big. We don’t regret purchasing the Gateway and would buy it over again if we were full time RVing but now that we aren’t, we are looking for something shorter so we have more options.

Last but certainly not least, we no longer have the diesel 3500 Chevy dually to pull the RV. After some discussion we decided that we didn’t want to continue paying those expensive truck payments for a truck that our entire family couldn’t fit in. In hindsight, we should have bought a less expensive truck that seated six. Or maybe not. Six of us in a truck would have been tight especially with two car seats. So after a lot of research we decided to buy a diesel Ford Excursion. I’ll do another post on buying the new SUV because a lot of  research went into it but the short of it is that it can seat six people comfortably and it can haul a heavy load giving us more options for travel trailers, the point of this post.

So without any more rambling let’s talk travel trailers. It seems to us there aren’t as many bunkhouse floorplan variations for travel trailers as there are for fifth wheels. Also there aren’t as many slideouts presumably to keep the weight down since slideouts are heavy. So we have been trying to prioritize and figure out our needs for RVing. While we aren’t full time RVing we do plan on taking a 2 month trip every year and want to be comfortable. So here is what we are considering so far.

Weight – A trailer that weighs less than 10,000 pounds unloaded (UVW). The lighter the better but we can go up to 10,000 as long as we make some modifications to the Excursion. Again another post.

New or Used – Our first two trailers were used and they held up great. Normally, we buy everything used so it was a big deal for us to buy a new trailer when we bought the Gateway. We had looked at probably over a hundred floorpans and it was the only one we loved everything about and it was new that year. Of course. We decided it was worth it to purchase the Gateway even though we rarely purchase new. We are facing the same problem again, a few of the floor plans we love are new this year. Obviously, we would prefer to keep cost down and purchase used. However, we don’t regret our purchasing the Gateway new at all. Surprisingly, it held its value very well and we sold it quickly. Since we had such a great experience with a new rig (the warranty is nice) we are considering new.

Slide outs – Are slide outs a must? If so how many and where? Two slide out bunkhouse trailers tend to put one in the back bedroom and another one in the middle living area. Three slide out trailers have a few more options. Some have one in the back bedroom and two in the middle. Others have two in the back bunkroom and one in the middle. A few have one in each room. Regardless, if we decide we “need” slide outs, we are trying to decide if we want more space in the living room or bedrooms. We are leaning towards extra living room space but trying to decide how important double living room slide outs are to us.

Bedroom Layout – At first it seems like the only travel trailer floor plan option was a back bunkhouse and a front queen bed with the head of the bed situated at the front of the trailer. But then I found the front bunkhouse models. These typically have more room around the master bed and since the littles sleep in our room with us (they do in our house too) this would be much more comfortable and give Brent a good space to work for extended trips. The tradeoff is a smaller bunk room but the teenagers they don’t need as much space as they once did since we aren’t full time. Even in our Gateway they spend a lot of time lounging in their beds so we are leaning towards a larger master bedroom.

“Character” – Before we went on the road we looked at a vintage bus and I loved it. It had so much character and personality. However practically outweighed personality for full time RVing. Since this one is for part time only, we are considering something more “fun” like a vintage camper. We love remodeling/renovation projects and think it would be fun to renovate and older trailer and make it something that “fits us”. However, vintage trailers sacrifice modern comforts and we just aren’t sure we want to sacrifice modern comforts.

Best Family Travel Trailers

It’s hard to say what “best family travel trailers” really are because each family has different needs. After months of research these are the travel trailers that we think would be best for our family.

Cougar X-Lite 32FBS

cougar

The Cougar X-Lite 32 FBS was the first travel trailer floor plan we came across with a rear master bedroom. When we went to Indiana over spring break, we saw it in person and loved it. There is a ton of space in the back bedroom and there is more floorspace in the Cougar front bunkhouse than some other travel trailers due to the slide out closet and two as opposed to three or four bunks.

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The downsides to the Cougar are: it’s only available new and it only has one slide in the main area. However, since there isn’t an island the the floor space is about the same. It’s really just sacrificing counter space.

Highland Ridge Open Range Light LT308 BHS or Roamer RT310BHS

While at the dealership looking at the Cougar, we saw the Highland Ridge Open Range Light LT308BHS. I was impressed with all the space the moment we walked in. Although the master is in the front, there is still more room in the master than other travel trailers of the same layout because Highland Ridge adds 4 inches in width over the standard width of most travel trailers. When you are talking space in RVs a few inches can make a HUGE difference. Highland Ridge also comes with a 2 year warranty and is known for its quality build.

highland-rdge-RT310BHS-floorplan

The Roamer RT310BHS is basically the same floorpan but with an extra slide out closet in the front bedroom for a total of FOUR slides! 

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We absolutely LOVE these Highland Ridge floor plans and if they were in our budget we would buy one of these in a heartbeat.

Puma 32FBIS

puma32FBIS

We haven’t seen the Puma 32FBIS in person but while I was searching for front bunkhouse travel trailer floorpans I came across this one. I love the layout with the master bedroom in the back and the double slides in the living area.

puma32fbis-1

We are concerned about how this one would do in colder climates though so we will be doing some more research. Also the front bunkhouse is a little tight if there is an outdoor kitchen but it’s fine without the outdoor kitchen. A few more with this great floor plan are the Prime Time Lacrosse 336BHT and the Prime Time Avenger 32 FBI. We aren’t familiar with the Prime Time brand but we love the layouts.

Grand Design Reflection 308BHTS

grand-design-reflection-308bhts-floorplan2

Grand Design is a newer brand. We toured a Grand Design fifth wheel when we filmed the reality show, Going RV, last year. They seem to be of very high quality. Then we went through one of their travel trailers at the RV show in Denver a few months ago.

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We really liked the finishes. Although the trailer has a front master bedroom, it felt a little more spacious that some of the others we’ve toured.

Cross Roads Zinger ZT29DB

zinger-29db-floorplan

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Thanks to my OCD, I’ve been checking Craigslist multiple times day and came across the Crossroads Zinger 29DB. We really like the back bedroom and how the bunks lie horizontally in the front cutting down on the length and weight of the trailer. While we don’t LOVE this RV, it’s affordable and would be comfortable for our family without adding debt. Since it’s used I wouldn’t have emotional hang ups about painting brand new cabinets and walls. It would be so much fun to do another RV makeover!

 Vintage Airstream

rv-7-airstream-park-city-ut
For years, Brent and I have talked about buying a vintage trailer or bus.  In a post I wrote in March 2011, I mentioned my dream of rolling down a dusty highway in an Airstream, a shiny piece of Americana. We love bringing old things back to life. Although, we don’t have experience renovating a trailer, we did renovate two 1950s houses in California. A trailer can’t be that much harder to restore than a house, right? Years ago, when we bought our pop-up trailer, our tow vehicle was a Honda Odyssey so we were very limited by weight and budget. Today, we have a bigger budget and tow vehicle so maybe now is the time to pursue our dream of restoring and remodeling a vintage Airstream! We have a perfect space to park it while we work on it.

We’ve been researching and really love the 1980’s Excella models, particularly the 34 footer with the double beds in the back. We have all sorts ideas to customize it to fit our family and personality. The downside, besides the lack of slide outs, are the prices of older Airstreams are all over the map and good deals sell really fast. Seriously, we saw the exact trailer we wanted for $7200 but it sold the night before we called. The same models are ranging from 9K t0 20K and upwards! The upside is Airstreams are well built and hold their value.

There are so many choices and each one has their pros and cons. Do you have experience with any of these brands or models? Should we go with our heart and buy a vintage Airstream or use our head and buy a newer RV? What would you do? We would like to make a decision soon!

Love and Laughter,
Jenn and Brent

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Sold Our RV!!!!! And RV Makeover Pictures. (Better late than never!)

There has been a lot of change lately. First, I found out I was pregnant. Whoa!!! Next we visited our hometown, Ventura, CA, after two years of living on the…

There has been a lot of change lately. First, I found out I was pregnant. Whoa!!! Next we visited our hometown, Ventura, CA, after two years of living on the road and decided we wanted to stay on the road. (Our decision to keep our family on the road full time deserves its own post.)

Then Saturday we had stopped for propane on our way out of Austin when I checked my email. In my inbox was a message from a couple who really wanted to see our RV which I had listed on Craigslist a few days before not really thinking I’d get a response. Posting the ad was kinda of a “let’s just see what happens” sort of thing.

Undecided if we should just keep on driving, we sat in the parking lot of the propane place discussing whether I should call the number in the email. My first response was no let’s just keep going. Afterall, we just had 10 wonderful days at our friend’s house and had spent the morning packing, cleaning, and saying our goodbyes. We were ready to move on and get to our next destination, New Orleans. Then Brent said I could call the number and just explain our situation and they could meet us on our way out of town, assuming, of course, they wouldn’t want to do that.

I called the number and the person who answered told me it was the wrong number. I sent an email explaining I tried calling but the number was wrong and we were headed out of Austin. I mentioned if they got the email soon they could call me back. Then we headed on our way.

A few minutes later my phone rang and a woman explained she and her husband were really interested and they could meet us right away. Thirty minutes later, after a mad cleaning spree, we were showing the RV. Thirty minutes later they made an offer.

What?!?!?!

That was Saturday and they couldn’t get a check until Monday or Tuesday so we went back to my best friend’s house. Sunday morning the buyers sent over a deposit. Today, we spent the day trying to pack up all of our stuff into a much too small U-Haul trailer.

Now here we are still in Austin waiting and wondering….what have we done?!?!?!  Yes, we wanted to sell this RV. It’s been on our radar since we found out we were having another baby and deciding to stay on the road. The back bedroom is a little cramped for Thing One and Thing Two. We want a double slide out in their room so they can have their own space to study, create, and play. We’d also love a little more counter space and a second bathroom. If budget wasn’t a limiting factor, we’d also have a washer and dryer, bathtub, and kitchen island. A girl can dream! Right now our priorities are a bigger back bedroom and a space where Brent can work.

BUT…

What’s next? Unless we find a new rig here in Texas in the next few days we are going to head to Florida with our stuff in a U-Haul. We’ll stay at my parent’s place until we find a new home.

AND…

Even though we have wanted a new RV for a few months, I’m still sad. Really sad actually. This RV is our home where created incredible memories and tomorrow we will say goodbye.

I realized this weekend as I was cleaning the RV up getting her ready to go I never shared pictures of our RV redecorating makeover project.

Like most RVs, ours was lacking in decor. If we were going to use our RV for the occasional weekend trip we would have kept our RV interior design as it was but this was our home. Brent and I wanted to feel like we were in our home and not staying at a hotel. So we spent the next month and a half sanding, painting, sewing, and doing some minor remodeling. It was a lot of work but I don’t regret a minute of it.

This was our home and how we brought it to life.

Living/Dining/Kitchen

RV Before Living Room

RV Redecorated Living Room 2

RV Before Bedroom

RV Redecorated Living Room 3

RV Recovered Couch 2

You know you have good friends when they spend 12 hours at your house helping you reupholster your RV couch. I got the fabric for the couch, dinette, and most of the curtain fabric in the LA Garment district, one of the most fun places in LA!

RV Redecorate Kitchen

RV Fruit BasketMeow Cow the Black Cat

Since we have a small fridge I try to buy lots of fruits that will keep at room temperature.

livig-room2

LEFT: The chandelier was the the last thing to be hung. It was another Ikea purchase from years ago that I had been planning to hang in our house bedroom. I hung it at midnight the night before our “open house“. RIGHT: Small details

livig-room3

TOP LEFT: Glass bowl from Target that has since cracked. BOTTOM LEFT: School books and a basket to store dish towels. RIGHT: Small vintage globe on loan from my mom. 🙂

livig-room1

LEFT: Apron hooks from World Market. MIDDLE: Map garland was a gift from a friend who I met for the first time in person when we hit the road. RIGHT: Bird curtains and wall sconce. We painted the metal of the sconce and glued a little trim around the bottom of the shade to give it character.

living-room-4

LEFT: This is the moulding around the slide. It was covered in the same fabric as the couch. Instead of taking all the fabric off, I took of the wood trim and stapled burlap over the fabric and painted the wood. TOP RIGHT: Key holder from Urban Outfitters. BOTTOM RIGHT: Glass knobs on all the kitchen cabinets. I really liked these because I had the same knobs in a different color in my sticks and bricks kitchen so they felt “homey”.

Bedroom/Office

RV Before Bed

RV London Bridge Headboard

towerbridge

In place of the headboard we painted with help from another friend a silhouette of the London Bridge. We were engaged in London and that morning after I said “yes” we walked along the Thames River where we took this picture. The quilt was made by my grandmother using an Amy Butler pattern and fabric.

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Across from the bed is our dresser, office, and shower. When we bought the RV there was a sink where the desk is now. We bought an small Ikea sink and put it in the water closet (toilet room).

RV Shower Before

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RV Remodel Curtains

My friend, the same one who helped with the couch, helped me sew (Okay…she did most of the sewing.) new curtains for every window in the RV but these turned out to be my favorite.

bedroom2

LEFT: I didn’t keep many things from our old house but couldn’t part with this metal cat that I found at a thrift shop. It opens up and I store jewelry in it. RIGHT: The knobs and drawer pulls were on sale at Anthropologie and I love having impressions of nature inside since a big part of this trip is about exploring the outdoors.

bedroom1

LEFT: When Brent and I met he said, “we fit together like Legos”. For our first Valentine’s Day I made him the “I <3 U” out of Legos because we were too broke to buy each other real gifts. We eventually decided to quite celebrating Valentine’s Day altogether but he still kept my Lego message.  TOP RIGHT: I painted an old mirror white and bought some organizers from Ikea to make a little makeup vanity. RIGHT: It’s true. 🙂

Bathroom

RV Before Toilet

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We didn’t do much to this room except paint and add the the Ikea sink. Changing the sink plumbing was much easier than you would think!

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The photo frames are a mixture of Ikea purchases and painted thrift shop finds.

Bunk Room

RV Before Bunk Room

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Thing One wanted to keep all the cabinetry its original color but we painted the room and made new curtains.

bunkroom

Two years and 48 states later, I never got tired of nor regretted our RV makeover. It made it home.

Now it’s time to say goodbye and move on to a new chapter and another blank canvas.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Just Stuff

Stuff. Today, wasn’t exciting but it was productive.  We were so ready to get on the road that we began to just pile stuff in boxes and fill our trailer…

Stuff.

Today, wasn’t exciting but it was productive.  We were so ready to get on the road that we began to just pile stuff in boxes and fill our trailer as if it were an U-haul.  In hindsight, I’m not sure it was the best idea.

Today, we combed through what’s left of our possessions again.

I wish I was one of those people who could just easily get rid of stuff.  I am not.  When we began to get rid of things I thought I had little attachment.  The first “round” was easy but with each consecutive round it got harder and harder.  For instance with my clothes, I finally had Brent sweep through my closet once last time and pull out the things he liked.   I bagged the rest.

We have had to remind ourselves over and over that’s it’s “just stuff”.  One of the bigger challenges has been letting go of stuff after calculating how many hours of life it cost.  Not a good idea.  It’s better to just get rid of it but it seemed I couldn’t help it.  Every time I loaded up the truck for another trip to the Goodwill I found myself tallying up numbers Rainman style.  Not only do we trade hours of our life to buy it but then there are the hours spent cleaning, fixing, and managing it.  The cost of stuff is steep.  As hard as it has been, it feels amazing to have less.

As we were deciding what to take we asked ourselves these questions-

1. When was the last time we used it?  (Duh) If it hadn’t used it in the last yea then, in most cases, we got rid of it.

2. Does it have sentimental value?  If so, is there a way to preserve it digitally?  For instance, Brent and Nathanael, together,  threw away two paintings after taking pictures of them.  We also burned all of our cds.

3. Since we are coming back in a year, we didn’t want to get rid of everything…especially Brent’s work equipment.  It would be very expensive to replace and we will use if we come back to Ventura for future projects.

My advice to people who want to downsize but have emotional attachments is to take it slow.  Go through each room once and get rid of the things that are easy to part with first.  Wait a few days (or weeks), then go through the room again.  And again.  I found that with each pass not only was it easier to “let go” but I learned more about myself and what I truly value.  This information is going to affect my future choices.  For instance, I have an old art box filled with painting supplies.  I haven’t used it in years but as hard as I tried I couldn’t part with it.  What it represents is simply too powerful and to get rid of it would have been throwing away part of my dreams.  I found other things that I “thought” I loved but ended up getting rid of them so I would have space for my art box.

It was a little more challenging with the kids.  In the beginning, we told them we were going to just “get rid of it all” that it was “just stuff”.  Then we changed our minds.  We didn’t want them to feel like everything had been “taken away” from them.  Together, we went throughout their stuff item by item and asked the similar questions.  They put things in four different piles-  1. RV 2. Store at grandmas 3. Give away  4. Throw away. It was tedious but it was amazing how it gave us the opportunity to talk about things we may have not talked about otherwise.  Thing 2 had a few a teddy bears and I couldn’t figure out why for the life of me he insisted on keeping the ratty one.  Finally, he told me it was because it was the only thing he had that Lucille, a lady we used to visit in the nursing home before she died, had given him.  I had assumed he had forgotten all about her.   Of course, we also talked a great deal about how we want to spend money in the future.

It’s been hard but I’m certain in the future it will be worth it.  Probably one more day of organizing and then we can get on with the fun stuff!

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Limbo

Boxes have replaced dressers and nightstands.  Mattresses sit on the floor.  Old toys en route to new homes whisper memories of little boys.  A rainbow of threads is scattered under…

Boxes have replaced dressers and nightstands.  Mattresses sit on the floor.  Old toys en route to new homes whisper memories of little boys.  A rainbow of threads is scattered under the kitchen table where my friend and I spent three days making not just curtains but memories.

We’ve said our goodbyes and yet we are still here tying up the loose ends.  It makes for a strange state of mind.  Today, I sat on the floor folding my laundry as if it was an ordinary day.  A day where I would wake up in my bed, a bed that is no more.  A day where I would sit at my desk, a desk who days are coming to an end.  A day where I would school the boys on the couch, a couch who has moved on.  A day where I would drive the streets I know, the streets that I will miss.

For a moment, I wanted it to be any ordinary day.  There is so much beauty in the ordinary when we see with our hearts. I desperately wanted the boxes and bags to disappear.  I wanted to slip seamlessly back into my routine.  I wanted to know, as much as is possible, what tomorrow would bring.

I held onto the laundry on my lap as if it were an anchor.

Peel enough layers and there is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear that paralyzes and moves me.  Fear that smothers and ignites me.  Ignites trust.  Trust in a God who loves.

Meow Cow has taken to napping in his travel bag.  It seems he is trying to tell us something.

We said our goodbyes.

Yet we are still here.

But not really.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Open “House”

Saturday morning, we decided we would have an rv open “house” on Sunday.  We had been *thinking* about the open house for a month and leave it to me to…

Saturday morning, we decided we would have an rv open “house” on Sunday.  We had been *thinking* about the open house for a month and leave it to me to invite people 24 hours beforehand.  The truth is I wasn’t procrastinating.  I was just being thorough. Everything needed to be “just so”. Which explains (or muddles) why we were still up at 12:00 am hanging cabinet doors and sweeping piles of screws into the drawers.  Those finishing touches.   Nothing says we are ready to go like  clean countertops even if the closet is filled with paint cans instead of clothes.

The party was at noon and at 11:30 am we found ourselves an hour behind schedule still trying to hitch up the trailer.  You see, we waited until right before the party to test out the hitch and as it turned out our truck “hitch height” is different than the previous owner’s truck making it impossible to “just hook up and go”.  Somehow Brent figured it out (he always does) and we pulled up to our little get together.

There are a lot of things we are going to miss about Ventura this year…the beaches, the mountains, the fabulous weather, two Trader Joes…but none of that compares to the way we are going to miss the people.  So many wonderful people.  I’m thankful that a handful of these wonderful people were able to make it out on such a ridiculously late notice and I hope they know just how much it made our day.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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The Couch Angel

Last week, I mentioned a great friend was coming over to help me reupholster the rv sleeper sofa frame. Well she’s not a great friend…          …

Last week, I mentioned a great friend was coming over to help me reupholster the rv sleeper sofa frame.

Well she’s not a great friend…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She’s a saint.
(If you could of seen me around 12:30 when I was hungry you would agree….A SAINT.)

Not only is she a saint but she is also one of the kindest, most creative, and thoughtful people I know.  She got to my house at 10:00 am and left at 9:30 pm.  That’s 11.5 hours (for those who are mathematically challenged like myself.)! ELEVEN and a HALF hours!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the rv sofa before.  We thought about getting an entirely new sofa but not only was it expensive, it was hard to find one to efficiently fill the space.  We didn’t want to waste any space and we wanted to keep the sofa bed for the future when the boys want to bring along friends. I scoured Craigslist but nothing the right size with a bed was coming up and most of the sofas on Craigslist didn’t fit our style.

What to do….

We decided the most cost effective solution was to pay someone to reupholster the cushions (I can sew very simple things like pillows but cushions with piping and zippers are waaay out of my league.) and we would reupholster the frame.

I found someone to recover the cushions with buttons, piping, and zippers for $40 a cushion (and it only took him a day and a half!).  I have no idea what it costs in other parts of the country but for southern California this was a steal.  I know because I called, visited, or emailed pictures to nearly every upholstery shop in our area.  He did an exceptional job and I couldn’t have been more pleased.  If you are in the area the shop is Robert’s Upholstery and the number is 805-659-5600.

So I made two treks down to the LA fabric district and got some gorgeous wool fabric in the exact color we wanted for $2.99 a yard.  The problem was the fabric had a pattern every 3 or so feet and they only had 14 yards.  I bought it anyway because those are the type of irrational things I do assuming we could make it work.  As it turned out the fabric made us work.

This was around noon when I hungry and cranky nearly gave up and called Robert to ask him the cost to recover the sofa frame.  It was going to be more than we wanted to put into the sofa so we persevered into the dark.

See the southwest pattern?  Grrrrrrr!  After Robert had used 8 of my 14 yards for the cushions we only had 6 yards left.  Take out the pattern and it was less. (See my math is improving as I write this post.)

Still working into the night.

Is this still a sofa?

If you ever decide to reupholster a sofa frame, do one side first.  I don’t know what we would have done if we had not left one side intact.  I took pictures and notes of taking it apart to have for references but I might as well been looking at Monet painting from 2 inches away at 3 o’clock am.  They made no sense.  Being able to look at the original side was a sanity saver.

Almost done.  We still had not screwed the frame back together and the cushions are sitting on boxes which is why the cushions look like they need Botox but you get the idea.  The couch itself is ordinary so to add some character I decided to add buttons like this ridiculously overpriced settee from Anthropologie.   All in all, with fabric and labor (not counting our own) it cost about $200 to reupholster the sofa.

So if you ever want to reupholster your own rv sofa frame, here are some tips.

1. Make sure you have enough fabric.  A total no brainer and it worked out okay only because this is an rv sofa and 3 of the 4 sides are hidden.

2. Give yourself plenty of time especially is you don’t follow number 1.  Had we had enough fabric it wouldn’t have taken near as long.

3.  Do one side first so you can look back at how it was put together.  Also take notes of the pieces and the order you take them off.

4. Have the right tools.  I don’t know what the “proper” tools are but here are the tools we used: staple lifter, hammer, pry bar, electric staple gun, needle nose pliers, screw driver, and scissors.  We owned all of them except the staple lifter and the electric staple gun which I borrowed from a friend.

5. Find a saint to help you out.  Most important!

By shopping around for fabric and reupholstering the sofa frame ourself we saved about $300 since the least expensive place cost $500 to reupholster the entire sofa. More important than saving money, I have a new fun (now) memory saved in my heart.  Thank you, Diane.

We are thisclose to being done with the interior!  Brent is finishing the floor this weekend and I have to do the curtains but those are the last major things to do.  I can’t wait to show you pictures!

love and laughter,
jenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fun Times in the LA Garment District

Fabric is one of the most important considerations when redecorating an rv.  After all there isn’t much wall space that doesn’t have at least some fabric on it and with…

Fabric is one of the most important considerations when redecorating an rv.  After all there isn’t much wall space that doesn’t have at least some fabric on it and with only a few pieces of furniture per room “the fabric” takes up a lot of the space. Redecorating our rv has “required” two trips to the LA garment district.  “Required” meaning –  you saw but didn’t buy the perfect aqua tweed because you were going to use “greens” but then changed your mind and couldn’t find “the perfect aqua tweed online” so you had to go back to “that one” shop on what’s that street called?

Oh darn.

Despite having to battle Los Angeles traffic the fabric district or properly called the LA Fashion District is one of my favorite places to visit in LA and I was so excited to show my boys my mad haggling skills.

Since I have two boys, the two trips seemed even more more appropriate.

Trip 1 with Thing 1

As per a friend’s recommendation, we started at Michael Levine’s “The Loft”.  As you can see by the picture all the fabric is only $2.50 a pound.  Yep, fabric by the pound.

The catch is you have to dig through boxes to find anything.  I had high hopes for this place but I left empty handed.

The purpose of this trip was to find upholstery fabric.  We walked up and down streets and in and out of crowded little shops looking for the perfect fabric at the perfect price. I wanted to spend $10 or less a yard and I accomplished my mission when I found a lovely wool in the exact color Brent and I wanted.   Almost.   I didn’t hit the streets of LA in search of a southwest pattern, not that there is anything wrong with a little southwest, it’s just not our style. But a high quality wool in the perfect shade of orange for $2.99 couldn’t be passed up.  I figured that pattern was nothing a pair of scissors couldn’t fix.  Oh boy….

Our last stop was Michael Levine.  It’s about the only shop that runs like a “standard” shop and not a foreign bazaar.  There are actually price tags and no haggling. Bummer.  I love haggling.  If you visit the LA fabric district Michael Levine is not. to. be. missed.

Rows of thread (just like paint chips) make me oddly happy.

You have no idea the restraint it took to not purchase everything on this wall as I imaged headbands of every size and color.

 

I spent over two hours texting images of fabric to Brent.

Thing 2 was such a trooper.

This is for my sister.

I thought that was going to be my final farewell to Los Angeles until we return to California next year…until…Brent and I changed our minds and decided to go with aquas on the couch side of the living room.  I told him about this lovely turquoise tweed I had spotted but didn’t buy.  After searching online for a similar fabric, I decided another trip was in order.

I’m not often always practical.

Trip Two with Thing Two.

First stop was to find “that one shop” with the aqua tweed and we did.  Guess what?  There were only 3.5 yards left…exactly, what we needed to cover the cushions.  I don’t think I impressed Thing 2 with my haggling skills.  He told me later I was “cheap” and “weird”.

 

Then it was back over to the Loft.  This time I left with a small scrap of fabric and some trim I’d like to use on lamp shades.

After accomplishing our mission, Thing 2 and I wandered around taking in the sights.  We looked at the small water turtles that were being sold by sharp eyed street vendors.  I told him about Clifford, the “street” turtle I bought downtown LA about 15 years ago who later retired in a turtle “sanctuary”.  Really.   We made our way over to Santee Alley where we looked at crazy shoes, knock off sunglasses, and cheap toys.

Finally, we stopped for a little refreshment and headed off to our car.

From the roof of the parking garage, I blew a kiss to the city I love and loath in equal parts.

Tips for visiting the LA Garment (Fabric or Fashion) District

1. Print a map.  You can print one here.

2. Bring cash and be prepared to haggle.  Some of the shops don’t take credit cards or will give you a better deal if you have cash.

3. Don’t be afraid to walk out.  One guy started at $26 a yard and by the time I reached the door he was at $10 a yard.

3. It can be really overwhelming so bring a list of what you really need and try to stick to it.  It would also be helpful to bring a notebook to jot down notes of stuff you see but don’t want to purchase right away.

4. You might was well start at The Loft.  At $2.50 a pound you’ll be hard pressed to find a better deal and it’s a fun experience!

5. There is street or lot parking.  I prefer the lots because I don’t have to parallel park and I don’t  have to remember to feed the meter.  I paid $6 for all day parking my first trip and $4 dollars my second trip.  I noticed when I left later that afternoon the parking had changed to $2.

6. There aren’t a lot of places to eat so eat a big meal before you go, buy food from the street vendors, or go to one of the few nearby restaurants.

7. Bathrooms are also hard to come by.  There is a restroom at Michael Levine that cost a quarter.  It helps if you don’t drink a lot that day. 🙂

8. Give yourself plenty of time.  Not only is it a fun place to shop but it’s a fun place to people watch as well.

love and laughter,
Jenn

 

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Pinholes of Light

Some photos, a preview if you will, I snapped with my phone this week. Brent has been crazy busy finishing up the video and I’ve been painting, cleaning, and going through stuff at our…

Some photos, a preview if you will, I snapped with my phone this week.

Brent has been crazy busy finishing up the video and I’ve been painting, cleaning, and going through stuff at our house. Finally, some pinholes of light are making their way into this dark box of busyness.

It looks like we’ve moved our trip back a week.  I’m a little bummed because we wanted to leave on our official/unofficial (depends on how you look at it) anniversary.  It will be better because I’m nicer when I’m not stressed we won’t feel rushed and we will get to spend some time with some of the people we are going to dearly miss.

A good friend is coming over this morning to help me reupholster the couch frame today.  Clearly anyone brave enough to risk hanging out with me while I impatientlywield an electric staple gun, is not a good but a GREAT friend.

I’m *hoping* to get a Thrifty Threads Thursday post up today.  I found the cutest green vintage dress yesterday when I dropped off a load of stuff at the thrift store.  I also got a vintage Coach purse for $2.  TWO DOLLA can I hear a HOLLA!

Hope you are having a fantastic week!

with love,
Jenn

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“Go Wild”

                              Yesterday, this was my living room. Today it is slightly better. I am not proud. When Thing…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday, this was my living room.

Today it is slightly better.

I am not proud.

When Thing 2 decided to “go wild” I thought, why not?  It’s not like he’s going to mess anything up. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now you know where the wild things are.

with love,
jenn

 

 

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Is there a forest around these trees?

Life may be a tad bit on the busy side right now but I still want to document it. This week we’ve been painting, sanding, painting, sanding. From how much…

Life may be a tad bit on the busy side right now but I still want to document it.

This week we’ve been painting, sanding, painting, sanding.

From how much we’ve I’ve been painting you would think that we are moving into a 3000 square foot house not a 300 square foot trailer.

I may or may not have had a breakdown in the bathroom last night over….

LINT.

Yes, there was lint in the polyeurathane and it nearly sent me over the edge.  Good times.  Good times.

I’ll just let you imagine how I felt today when Brent told me today after driving home from the LA fabric district that the polyurethane (I spent an entire day applying to the cabinets) didn’t dry clear and everything has to be re-sanded and re-painted.  I thought I was done with the kitchen cabinets and now I’m almost back at square one.  I basically wasted an entire weekend.

Except I didn’t because…

…I spent precious time with this guy.   His hard work blows me away.

I’m really trying to see the forest through the trees and remember what this trip is really about.

Family.
Adventure.
Memories.
Love.

Who cares about a little lint.

We are hoping to leave October 9th, our 12 year anniversary.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate.

But…there’s the to-do list.

RV
Finish paint and Hang Cabinet Doors (we took them off to paint)
Paint Living Room Walls
Install Wood Floor
Build Brent’s Desk
Sew Curtains
Find Upholster for Cushions
Upholster Couch Frame – We were going to take it somewhere but it won’t fit out the door!
Install Closet Organizer
Install hardware
Paint Fan
Paint (or Find New) Light Fixtures
Re-upholster headboard
Buy storage bins
Install and plumb new bathroom sink
Purchase various small items

House 
Sell, giveaway, or burn stuff we are not taking.  (This is a mile long list in and of itself.)
Sell Car
Pack RV
Clean and repair current house. (Another list as long as this list.)
Trim bushes at current house
Fix stuff at the rental house. (Our tenant just let us know there is an opossum living under it.  Awesome.)
Order a few more school books

Misc
See friends
Keep up with laundry

Oh and that video we shot in July?  The deadline is fast approaching. When I think I’m working hard, I remember how hard Brent is working.

How many days to October 9th?

Don’t remind me.

But I’m not complaining because it’s all going to be worth it.

I think.

I hope.

with love,
jenn

 

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