Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Innaugural Camping Weekend!

Well....we did it!!! Zan's Can was hitched up to the car and she rolled like a charm right into our first joint camping experience. There were hiccups. We expected more actually!! The most concerning was the abrupt loss of power to the lights on the can. Something is up between the newly installed hitch's electrical outlet and the Can's plug, but that problem has been handed off to the experts and will NOT be a DIY project!!

Sweet Pea and her BFF, Shutterfly, and myself worked like a very well oiled team and had our little campsite set up and organized within an hour.

The weather FINALLY cooperated and the newly blossomed spring flowers lured us out and on several long hikes.

I know this sight often brings dread to homeowners with landscaping concerns, but for this group of concrete jungle dwellers it was a thrilling moment!

We even braved the swarming mosquitoes to follow a few creeks as they flowed away from us.

I hate to be a tease....but I am excited to give a sneak peek of how the Can's decor is coming along by showing you my little nook of comfort in Mother Nature this past weekend. There is more sewing of curtains and accessorizing to be completed before I can have the full reveal.

I enjoyed teaching my girls how to make "hobo dinners" as I called them in my youth. Despite HUGE skepticism on their parts, one's appetite can change greatly when camping and all were gobbled up in short order. 

I know a truly talented DIY blogger would have documented the scenario of dubious teens assembling their foil packets and the set up process of the campsite but I vowed to use this weekend as a way to show those same teens the joys of being technology free so my phone stayed firmly in my pocket. I promise that trips later this summer will be documented more thoroughly!!

Despite happily abstaining from joining us this weekend to experience the first trip with the Can, Mr. Creature Comforts was a trooper when we got home and dove right in to help us empty out and clean up the camper.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Gardening Zan Style

The Memorial Day weekend looms large and the plan is still to take Zan's Can out on a "soft opening". By that I mean we are staying close to home and in a campground with all the amenities! I figure  I'll need a trip or two out in her to get a true feel of what does or does not need to get packed. Spent the day gathering the bedding and cookware. Bedding is basically all new or gently used off eBay but the cookware is exclusively thrift store purchases. Sadly my piles are growing in the brick home because the forecast rain has actually arrived preventing me from opening up the Can and filling the meager storage compartments, sniff.

As I stuffed duvet covers with comforters and made stuff bags to carry the various tarps, stakes, and tools I have been mulling over the Can's final name. I have a sense of what I want but the "perfect" name is eluding me. Basically I am looking to convey how I do "flowers and gardening" on fabric and wood unlike my House Beautiful gardening guru of a sister whose flower beds are beautiful to behold already this early in our 'Sprinter'. I'm pushing myself to settle on a name because I want to make a custom spare tire cover that has the name included. To that end I've been wandering the internet looking for inspiration. She would say this about me:

And some can pot begonias and some can bud a rose,
And some are hardly fit to trust with anything that grows...
~Rudyard Kipling, "The Glory of the Garden"

Basically she's right....things that grow in soil should not be left in my care! However, not all gardens require soil and sometimes solarium masquerade as glamped up campers. My sister's garden does for her soul what the Can is doing for mine...bringing us joy and a reason to believe in tomorrow! Her genes must be from our ploughmen Scottish ancestors just like mine must be from an unknown Tinker/Traveler/Gypsy ancestor. This vagabond soul is hoping for clearing skies so she can hit the road this weekend.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Rub A Dub, Dub....

Once the seams had been reinforced it was time to give the Can a bath. Not just a cosmetic wipe down but a deep down to the bone scrubbing! I used Fantastic 5 in 1 spray cleaner and Dawn dish detergent with a scrub brush and one of the generic miracle sponge on the vinyl.

The dirt that was flowing off the vinyl was so thick I just had to take a picture!! That buttery blond section in the upper center is the actual original vinyl while the grey section on the right in the picture was how dirty it was when I received the Can.

 Every saw horse and ladder in our arsenal was called into duty to hold the canvas up and out so I could do a thorough scrubbing!

 This side was in the shade of a tree and took longer to dry but today was in the high 70's and sunny so the canvas dried quickly!

Once it was dry we raised the roof back up and began to apply the waterproofing. 

 Once again, I do not have any affiliations with any products and list them only as a service to someone embarking on a PUP remodel. I went through 4 cans of the Kiwi brand silicon water repellent on just the back and one bunk!! Off to the store tomorrow to buy a BUNCH more.

Once I started weather proofing I noticed a seam I had missed....and not being able to lower the top because Mr. Creature Comforts was inside working on the heater vent cover....I had to get creative about how I could get my sewing machine up high enough to reinforce that seam!

Tomorrow is theoretically the last warm and sunny day of the coming week so I plan to finish the water proofing and start loading in the cushions and curtains. Hopefully the weather will co-operate so we can take her out over Memorial Day weekend for a "soft opening" or at least get a photo shoot to have the "big reveal".

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Oh The Weather Outside...

....is FINALLY delightful!!! Had two good days in a row and we made the most of it by working on Zan's Can. The interior is really coming together and it is down to tweaks and touch ups. That supporting end board with the protruding bolts and nuts....remember?

Well after Mr. Creature Comforts fitted them each with a lauan facing I had a nice smooth surface to place the Smart Tile subway tiles I have come to adore.

No I am not in any way affiliated with the company and yes I mean adore!! They cut easily with scissors making mounting a breeze and can be washed reducing any concerns about putting them in a camper where dirt is going to be a given.

See how pretty it looks and this was before we placed the molding?!?! I'd show other angles except Mr. Creature Comfort has also been busy adding the new hinges and pulls to the drawer and doors and mounting them and I want to save those views for the "big reveal",

Since the interior is nearly complete and we have a forecast absent of any rain for the weekend I decided it was time to get serious about the exterior.

What, you may ask, did my neighbors see most of today??

Me and my sewing machine working our way around the camper!!! Since I want to do a thorough washing, mildew treatment, and re-weatherproofing of the Can's canvas I decided that I wanted to do the seam repairs before the last of the original thread dissolved during that process.

No need to have a special sewing machine for this task. Just a sturdy and well trusted basic Singer is what I used on the canvas. Now you do need to use the appropriate needles and thread though!

You will need a larger gauge needle like these size 16 jean/denim needles I used. I am expecting if you are contemplating your own canvas repairs that you have a certain level of competency in sewing. It isn't particularly complicated as it is mostly straight line stitching but a working knowledge of your machine is a must!

Once you put in the larger gauge needle and thread the upholstery weight thread you need to take the time to adjust your tension. I did a couple of practice runs using scraps of the cushion fabric to make sure I had my machine settings where they needed to be to work on canvas.

Not only did I sew the pinned and duct taped seam failures shown in the introductory tour post but I decided to reinforce every seam I could reach with the machine!! Figure I might be saving myself a repeat day of sewing dry rotted thread failures by proactively stitching over the seams that were still intact. Later in the day we did lower the top down so I could reach up as high as on the vinyl bunk roofs and corner zippers as possible thus reducing the amount of hand sewing....but I was so busy sewing I forgot to get a picture, sorry!! I still have more seams to do tomorrow so hopefully I will snap a picture so you can see how it looks with the machine and canvas in the lowered position.

Loss of daylight and the rising of the moon ended today's adventure!! Here's to the same enthusiasm tomorrow. Sleep well tonight! I surely will!!!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Color Me Excited!!

I mentioned back in the introduction post how I LOVE color but am married to a man who can only abide neutrals. As referenced in the title of this blog, I am sure that some one of my Irish ancestors must surely have been a "tinker"....the name for travelers/gypsies that move through the countryside in their vardos.

My love of all things bright combined with my incessant urges to hop in my car and tour the country are all I have to fuel my suspicion of my "tinker" roots. However, even my more settled Irish ancestors are also known to brighten up their facades!!

For instance in my paternal great-grandparents region on the Beara Peninsula of County Cork you will find the rainbow of facades shown in the picture above!

Then there is the love of color shown by the people of my daughters' homeland of Guatemala!

If I could have figured out how to fit those screens in my luggage they would probably be slated for use in the Can's remodel!! But not just in their decor is color confidently on display...

There are countless gardens and fountain scenes like this one in Antigua, Guatemala all over the country.

Then there are the chicken buses which serve as the backbone of the public transportation system in Guatemala!! I mean isn't it just natural that my own personal "vardo" will feature COLOR?!?!?

Besides the obvious cushion and curtain features which can display color, I decided I wanted the doors and drawer in the kitchen to sing a rainbow to my soul! What follows below is a tutorial of how I turned my cabinet doors and drawer front colorful.

 The first thing I did was make a paper pattern of each door and drawer front. After deciding on the "style" I am hoping to convey, I cut the paper into a template. Being careful to pay attention to the design orientation of the fabric that I bought for the cushion backs, I laid the paper on the fabric and traced around the template.

The arrows point to the marker lines visible when the paper pattern is removed. Using sharp trimming scissors cut along the marked lines to get a finished fabric panel.

Here is one fabric panel awaiting decoupaging onto its door front and one fabric panel already affixed on its door panel.

I then used a gloss Modpodge painted on the back of the fabric panel to attach it to the painted wood panel. You can get some on the right side without concern because the next step is to generously apply the Modpodge to the correct side of the affixed fabric panel. You do want to be careful not to get the Modpodge on the surface left uncovered from fabric as it will dry with a visible "gloss".

The fabric will look cloudy when the Modgepodge is applied!!! Do not worry as it will dry clear.

When the fabric panel was dry I then went back with acrylic paint and added my border color. Now after doing 4 of the six panels of my camper I did happen on another "time saver". If I was blessed with more patience and less instant gratification drive I probably would be done with all of these by now! The last two panels I decided to paint the orange FIRST and then Modpodge the fabric saving me from all those curves needing to be carefully painted.

The orange border then needed to be framed!! I used some left over acrylic paint from another project and painted a thin line to accentuate the fabric.

One mention here that I am NOT sponsored by any of the products I may show you that I use!! I just put it up here to hopefully save you the bazillion hours of Google searching like I have been doing during this remodel! I finished up the process by sealing it all with a clear acrylic spray on sealer that I bought at Walmart. Time will tell if it holds up or yellows!!

Remember I told you that the old fabric from the Can became my drop cloths?? Quite visually overwhelming to see print on print, sorry! This is the last view I can give you because I want to save the whole effect for the "big reveal" post. Despite my plans to reuse the hinges I did give in and get new ones in white to match the cool new pulls I got. Again, sorry to tease but the pulls will be seen in the reveal!

In the meantime....I have a repair to finish! In my zeal to move on to the next door panel I got careless and dropped the one I had just painted. Besides needing to redo the orange painted border I will need to "rebuild" the corner that crunched upon impact.

Dang that particle board!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

So Much Yet So Little

Spring is finally cooperating by giving a weekend's worth of working on a camper weather! So very much got done in Zan's Can today. Unfortunately it doesn't look like much in pictures.

Mr. Creature Comforts continues to be an interested worker bee. The girls...not so much! So today while I put a second coat of Caicos Turquoise on the kitchen cabinet framework, he got to work on those problem support boards talked about in the post found here. He started by making a cardboard template of the support boards. Then he headed of to his stash of lauan and variety of saws while I kept painting.

The dinette cabinets got two good coats of the same Caicos Turquoise as the kitchen. Note the scrap of foam leftover from the bed project? It saved my knees and bottom from major discomfort today while painting! Began priming the inside of the storage compartments when Mr. CC appeared again with his solution to my support board dilemma.

He had mapped out the bolt head and nut locations and drilled an opening in the lauan leaving a thin and light laminate that he attached to the support board with tacks.

I'd say that tomorrow night you would see this primed and covered in faux subway tile.....but it is Mother's Day. Maybe my Mother's Day gift will be to spend more time in Zan's Can to work?? So not holding my breath on that one!

Working Weekend

Been a couple of days without updates and for that I apologize!! Between weather, work, and parenting teens Zan's Can took low priority. Not no priority just low priority. I did get some projects well underway. Buckle up because I am about to race through the many irons I have in the fire around here!! 

Cabinet doors are painted and in the process of being "decorated"! I am using ModPodge to adhere a panel of fabric on each drawer and door.

Some have gotten the next phase of "decorating" in a painted frame around the fabric panel. One more coat to even out the paint surface and I can move on to the outlining process. I plan to finish them off with a nice coat of clear sealcoat so they can be washed if needed.

Got a can of white appliance spray to paint the heater cover and the stove lid. Removed the two pieces from the Can and, after taping where necessary, got the stove lid done.....but the heater cover has presented a challenge!

Doesn't it look so nice sitting all pretty to get her new color??

Seems she isn't having anything to do with getting all shiny white! Going to sand her down tomorrow and re-wash in TSP to see if that will be enough to get the paint on nice and smooth.

Also got the dinette cushion fabric cut! Will have a more in depth tutorial on that in a future post.

Mr. Creature Comforts also pitched in and worked on the rust of the tow tongue on the Can. Decided to take my sister-in-law's advice and tried using Naval Jelly to reduce the amount of sanding required. When I emerged from my day's work on the inside, I found this waiting for me....

Now all I need to do is figure out what I should do about the Can's boo-boo on her front panel!
Meanwhile I was inside...

Taping and priming the kitchen cabinet frame. Took longer than budgeted because I decided to use the primer/sealer on every piece of wood I came across in order to extend the Can's life time well past my tenure with the camper! 

After the first coat, this is a sneak peak at the color chosen to set off my decorated doors and drawer.

So lots and lots of projects in progress all at once!! Here's hoping the rain forecast for tomorrow takes a different trajectory so I can start ticking of some things from my to-do list!