Perennial Periwinkles, Casita Projects & Gorgeous Specialty Yarns

Perennial vinca (periwinkles).  The actual color is a deep royal purple, but my camera changes it to blue.

Perennial vinca (periwinkles). The actual color is a deep royal purple, but my camera changes it to blue.

Another cold night last night, but today warmed up nicely enough for me to set my seed trays out on the deck for a bit of sunshine.  Now it’s getting chilly again.

I am thinking of everyone at the Green Eggs & Ham rally and am hoping that it’s not too cold for them to enjoy being there.

Today I took the screen off the Casita’s bathroom fan and cleaned it, removed leaves and pine straw that had gotten inside and sprayed the motor with lubricant.  It had been running pretty rough, but it purrs now.

The little white ring around the on/off knob was so sun rotted that it disintegrated.  So tomorrow I’ll head out there with a tube of glue and see what kind of fix I can come up with.  🙂

I am procrastinating so badly on the latch replacement project.  Today I did get the old latches removed, but didn’t want to start grinding with the Dremel, so am putting the rest of that project off for another day.

I do have something beautiful to share with you!

My friend Peggy is the one who got me interested in making chemo caps.  She knits incredibly beautiful, fashionable, ultra soft, feels-like-a-caress hats using specialty yarns. She sent me a sample of the types of yarn she likes to work with.  They are just stunning!

Can you imagine how special a hat made of these yarns would make a chemo patient who has lost her hair feel?

Can you imagine how special a hat made of these yarns would make a chemo patient who has lost her hair feel?

I tried to crochet with one of her samples, and it just does not work with a crochet hook.

I feel like my hats look like Grandma hats after seeing what she works with! But, I guess there’s a place for all kinds of different styles. 🙂

Two Successes; One Bust

The kitchen with the new spice rack and with paper towel holder reinstalled

The kitchen with the new spice rack and with paper towel holder reinstalled

The magnetic curtain rod is a bust.  The upholstery fabric is apparently too heavy, even with the additional magnets glued to the door.

So tomorrow I’ll remove the magnets, touch up the paint, and install a conventional curtain rod using rivets.

The new spice rack.  Note the mini air horn on the top shelf.  It's there in case we catch a bear trying to break into our truck.  :D

The new spice rack. Note the mini air horn on the top shelf. It’s there in case we catch a bear trying to break into our truck. 😀

I fared a little better installing the spice rack.  I did have trouble drilling out one of the old rivets, and ended up drilling one hole larger than I should have.  And neither Ron nor I have the hand strength to properly pop the 5 mm rivets.  Finally, though, we did manage to get them in  — only to discover that Casita had originally drilled the holes a little off level.  Funny, we never noticed the old rack being off a little.  I am training myself not to notice that this one is a little crooked!

The new rack had spaces for 4 rivets instead of two.  Since the rack wasn’t real stable with just two, I drilled smaller holes and used the 3 mm rivets that I could manage in the bottom indentations.

The paper towel holder, properly bolted on, at last!

The paper towel holder, properly bolted on, at last!

Next was reinstalling the paper towel holder.  I originally had installed it with adhesive foam tape — that fell off on the first trip.  The next time I installed it with 3M VHB tape.  That lasted several months, but it finally fell off, too.

So this time I did it properly.  I drilled small holes in the stove hood and used small bolts with stainless steel washers on both sides.  I put a dollop of silicone on the back of the bolt so the nuts are actually “glued” on.  I bet it will stay up now!


The Window is In!

I can see outside now!

I can see outside now!

I finally got a break in the rain, so was able to install the new clear, smoke colored, opening window in the Casita’s door.

The old window out and on the ground.

The old window out and on the ground.

The first step was ridiculously easy… removing the screws that held the old frame in, sliding a spatula underneath the bottom outside flange… and it just fell out.  After I had the old window out, I test fitted the new one.  Perfect!

This is going to be the easiest mod I’ve ever done! I exulted.

There was one chore to do before I could mount the new window — scraping off the old silicone.  I used a good silicone remover which made the job not difficult.  Just tedious.

Next was sticking the weather stripping to the new outside flange.  It was cut perfectly to size.  So I had Ron carry the new window outside for me where I would triumphantly mount it.

The new window

The new window

But then, Murphy reared his ugly head.

The directions said nothing about drilling screw holes in the frame.  So I got a few screws in, but the weather stripping wasn’t compressing and there was a half inch gap between the window and the inner frame.   I thought it must be that the weather stripping was too thick, so I removed it and replaced it with butyl tape.  But the butyl tape wouldn’t compress and there was still that one half inch gap inside.

Then I realized that the screws weren’t penetrating deeply enough, so I drilled pilot holes for the screws and tried again.  Still no compression of the seal–and still that gap.  So I figured I needed to drill the pilot holes deeper….  and I drilled a hole all the way through the outside frame.

New window interior

New window interior

So I took out all the nice, matching black screws that were provided and hunted through my screw collection until I found some shorter screws that were the same width.  Amazingly, the screws bit in, compressed the outside sealant and pulled the inside trim flush against the window.

But there was still some covering my mistakes to do.  I had to insert a screw into the outside frame (well sealed) to cover my Murphy drill-through.  And I had to paint it and the interior screws black to match the frame like the factory screws.

Anyway, it’s done, and now that the window is in, I am thrilled with it.  I can see the view outside my dinette bed while I’m reading, surfing, working crosswords or just enjoying a cup of coffee.  And the window opens!  Having that extra ventilation is wonderful.

New window open

New window open

The window has a very good latch.  It’s as secure — or maybe more secure than the original window.  If someone wants to break in while the window is closed, they are still going to have to break the glass.  And I won’t leave it open unless I feel it is safe to do so.

But like all projects, this one means I have a couple of new projects to do

First is new curtains.  I don’t want curtains up in the daytime because they would block the view.  So I’m planning to mount an attractive curtain rod and make curtains with little rings to go on the rod. They will slide off the rod easily so I can store them during the day.  And they will slide open easily if I need to open them to see who is outside the door at night.

That presents another project.  The screen door is between me and the window.  The only way to open the screen door is to open the outside door.  So I plan to attach a small cup hook to a narrow dowel and hang it from the last curtain ring on the right.  It can hang down to door handle level where I can reach it to open the curtain without opening the door.

The Murphy screw

The Murphy screw. I’m calling it a beauty mark. 🙂

BUT before I can see who is at the door at night, I need to wire my outside porch light so it can be turned on from the inside, too.

But I’m so thrilled with the new window that I’ll get the curtains done before our next camping trip in July.  The wiring might have to wait a little longer.

I need some time to recover from the Murphy ambush!

Please Prove You’re Not a Robot

Arghhhhhh!!!!  I have just tried several times to comment on another blog, and my “please prove you’re not a robot” numbers and letters keep getting rejected.   No offense to anyone who uses that method of deterring spammers, but it is just getting too aggravating for me to mess with!

There are several blogs that I love to read, but I give up on trying to comment on them.

That’s one thing I really love about WordPress.  Their Akismet spam killer is really good.  Once in a very long time a spam will sneak through, but it’s a rarity when one does.

Today was errands…. got the taxes done.  The first time we’ve ever gotten them done before March or April.  It feels so good to have that behind us.

Ron needs new glasses before we head to Florida again.  Maybe I can get him an appointment next week or so.

I am so antsy to do some more mods in the Casita.  Our rear dinette cushions are 5″ thick and so hard that they are very uncomfortable to sit on.  I came so close today to buying more fabric and ordering some better-suited foam.  But I was a very good girl and stuck to my budget and just said no!  😀

Underbed Storage Shelf & Winterizing Kit

Underbed storage shelf for books. As you can see, I am NOT a carpenter!

This evening I got the book storage shelf  under the rear twin bed finished, except for sanding and protecting with a couple of coats of polyurethane.  The bottom of the shelf legs had to be cut out to accommodate all the water and electrical lines beneath it.  I will secure the sides to the fiberglass benches with a square of 3 M foam tape to keep them from sliding.  That will be easy to remove whenever I need access to the plumbing and electrical below.

I decided to leave the bottom open so warm air can circulate underneath in winter.   That should help keep the water lines from freezing when we are cold weather camping.  But I did add a strip of molding to protect them from getting bumped.

When we travel, I like to take my wild mushroom reference books.  I don’t need access to them unless I happen upon mushrooms I want to identify.  But I dearly love having them with me in case I need them.  We will continue to keep our clothes storage baskets in front of the shelf.  We will still have plenty of room for them because the shelf protrudes a couple of inches less than the old slanted raceway board did.

The reason I decided to put the shelf back there is that the tongue weight of our trailer is awfully high.  This will move a little more weight off the tongue, while still leaving plenty for towing stability.

Winterizing kit installed. I’ll just remove the little brass cap, and screw on a hose to the jug of antifreeze.

I had thought I needed to install a hot water bypass kit.  But I discovered that I already had one.  I just didn’t recognize it because the bypass lever is in the back of the valve so you have to locate it by feel.  (Thanks for telling me about that, Lynne!)

So all I had left to do was install the winterizing kit.  It was a very easy, intuitive installation.  So now, when it’s time to winterize, all I have to do is bypass the water heater, remove the brass cover in front of the winterizing kit valve,  screw on the hose to the jug of antifreeze,  turn the valve on the winterizing kit to bypass (the lever for it is also in the back), and turn the pump on.  It will pump antifreeze through the system directly from the jug.

Sure beats having to use 8-9 gallons of antifreeze to fill the water heater like I did last year…. only because I didn’t know I already had a  hot water bypass!

Mods, Another Valance & Packing to Go

The new carbon monoxide and smoke detector

I got the new carbon monoxide and smoke detector installed today.  It was a lot larger than the original smoke detector, and wouldn’t fit in the same spot.  So I mounted it on the rear side of the wall divider.

Also, the previous owner had installed a paper towel holder over the dinette.  Since I’ve changed it to a sofa bed, it really looked funny there.  So I removed it (including the two HUGE screws the previous owner screwed into the fiberglass) and moved it to the right of the stove where I had mounted my dish towel rods.

I couldn’t find a really good place for the dish towel rods.  I finally settled on the right edge of the kitchen backboard.  When I raise the stove cover for cooking, the towel rods will swivel out behind it so they will be protected from possibly catching fire.

The rear valance is up.

AND…. I got the rear valance hung.  I am so glad to have it done!  I’ll get the two small window valances done when we get back from our trip.

Today I turned the refrigerator in the Casita on so it can cool all day tomorrow.  Also, it’s supposed to get down to 27 tonight.  Since we de-winterized the water system again yesterday, I’ll leave the heat running in the trailer all night with cupboard and bathroom doors open.  That should let plenty of heat reach all the water lines.

Rear valance closeup

Paper towel holder mounted to the right of the stove hood with kitchen towel rods below

Removed the paper towel holder from above the sofa bed

So we’ll get the trailer packed tomorrow and head south Tuesday morning.  We are really looking forward to getting out again!

Custom Coffee Shelf for the Casita!

Custom coffee shelf for the Casita

No more knocked over coffee cups!

After knocking a cup of coffee over in bed the last time we were out in the Casita, I decided I really needed a little window mounted coffee shelf.

So I posted on the Casita Forum asking Rob (who is known for his superb Casita mods) for ideas on how to build a small, stable window shelf.

Instead of answering me, he wrote me that he would build one for me, and asked how I envisioned the shelf and what dimensions I wanted it to be.

Casita Mod -- small coffee table

The shelf couldn't possibly be more perfect for me!!!

Since I wasn’t sure how to draw or describe the shelf, I told Rob that it needed to hold a coffee cup and a ballpoint pen, and to use his best judgment on how to build it.

Today I got the shelf in the mail, and it is beyond my wildest expectations.  A truly thoughtful touch is that the surface where the cup sets is white Formica, so I won’t even have to use a coaster on it.

Despite his expert instructions on how to install it, I screwed up the first time.  But Rob very patiently told me how to realign the shelf and angle the screws to make it a perfect fit.

Custom shelf Casita mod

Perfect little bedroom!

I truly don’t have words to describe how much I love and appreciate this little shelf.  I think it is probably the most wonderful gift I’ve ever received….  it was designed for the little Casita that I love by a master craftsman with his own hands… solely because he wanted to do it!!!

I wanted to do something special for Rob and Linda to show my appreciation, but they said no.  They said do something special for someone who is not expecting it…. Pay It Forward.

I have the blinds down for cleaning, but when they are re-installed they will cover the shelf mount when the shelf is removed for storage.

I’m stumbling for words right now and they won’t come.  So I’ll just sign off and post the pictures for you to enjoy!  🙂

This shows the latch on the bottom that holds the pegs into the base.

The pegs slide into the holes in the base, then the base is locked to the shelf

The shelf base is mounted to the window frame

When I reinstall the blinds, they will cover the shelf mount during the day when the shelf is not in use.

The shelf is stored in an overhead cabinet when not in use.



New Table and Storage Solution

The new glass table with baskets for storage under the rear twin bed

I had planned to build a drop leaf table for the Casita.  But the more I thought of a large expanse of solid wood tabletop and how cramped it would make the area look, I decided against wood.

Then, in searching online for small tables, I found a couple of glass topped ones that I liked.  Best of all,  I loved the idea of how open they would make the space look.

Here the table is slid to the side so we can easily walk past it.

But after pricing them, I wasn’t sure it was such a great idea.  So I headed to the thrift store on a hunting expedition.  I looked in every nook, but didn’t find anything that I liked.  But just as I was leaving, I saw a cute little plant stand and thought I might be able to modify it to make it work.

So I took it home, took it apart and cleaned it.  I gave the metal a couple of coats of spray paint to freshen it up, and discarded the 12″ wood top.

Here the tabletop is placed out of the way on top of a cushion, giving us even more space.

We had thrown out some old wicker furniture a couple of years ago, but I held on to the glass table tops, thinking I might could use them for something else some day.  I’m so glad I did.  The small, oval tabletop is a perfect fit in the Casita!  Best of all, it’s solid as a rock.

I love the small footprint of the table.  When we are not using it, I can slide it to the side to give us walking room.  Or I can completely remove the top and lay it on one of the dinette cushions, giving us even more space to access the storage baskets.  In transit, the glass top will travel on the bed, wedged in with pillows.  And the table base will be wedged between the wall carpet and the mattress to keep it from sliding around.

My beautiful storage baskets!

The wood color of the table base doesn’t match anything else, but I really like it, so I am leaving it as it.

I feel that we have succeeded in making our little 17′ trailer into a camper with the convenience and amenities of a much larger RV.

I also replaced the plastic drawers under the rear bed with pretty baskets.  That was a project!  Those of you who have suffered through descriptions of earlier projects know what’s coming, right?  😀

I found the baskets at Hobby Lobby.  The bases were the perfect size to fit the underbed cubby hole.  However, they had rounded “treasure chest” tops, so they needed some modification to work.

First I used my Dremel to cut through the fat globs of solder that secured the hinges, chain and latch to the basket frame.  After I figured out where not to stand to keep hot metal sparks from flying up my sleeve, the job wasn’t bad.  Just tedious.

Next I ground down all the sharp solder edges until they were smooth and rounded.  Then I rubbed black paint on them to tone down the shiny silver of the solder and to cover the small gouges I put in the surrounding metal so it wouldn’t rust.

Then it was time to make the muslin lining.  EXCEPT there are dozens of very tiny, very sharp little wires protruding into the basket…. and they poked right through the muslin.

So I am going to have to build 1/4″ plywood liners for the baskets.

But that’s a project for another day!

Our Little Aliner Camper

Welcome to my blog and to our Aliner camping adventures!

We’ve had the little Aliner for 3-1/2 years and have done a lot of camping in it, so I thought I’d introduce you to the little trailer itself before I continue recording our travels in it.

It didn’t start off well.  We had a lot of problems that mostly appeared after the one year warranty expired.  But after I had a bent frame fixed and reinforced, gutted everything but the kitchen and repaired the floor, replaced the leaking water heater and remodeled, we have been very happy with it.

Also the Aliner’s windows and skylights — and 8′ ceiling — give a wide open, spacious feel to the tiny 12′ cabin. That feeling of spaciousness is priceless to me.

So the little Aliner is probably our forever camper.  Here are some photos of what it looks like, except that we’ve added two 6-volt batteries to the front storage bin since these pictures were taken.

Click the photos to enlarge them.

Aliner trailer folded for travel

Aliner folded for travel

Aliner trailer popped up

Aliner popped up for camping

Aliner kitchen

Aliner kitchen

Front of Aliner showing kitchen and bathroom

Front of Aliner showing kitchen and bathroom. The aisle is larger than it appears in this photo.

Aliner bathroom

Aliner bathroom with cassette toilet and shower

Aliner twin bed modification

My Aliner twin bed mod with lots of open, easily accessible underbed storage

Aliner floorplan modifications

My remodeled Aliner floorplan

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

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