Friday, June 9, 2017

Side Tracked!

So last weeks post didn't go up as planned, woops! Just as well though because this week we got nothing done on the trailer.

Alex's original on the phone quote for the trailer frame of "about 1000$" turned out to be something closer to 1200$ in person and if we wanted the bed inset between the wheels and the bed wrap around the wheels it was another 250$. Plus 100$ for plates plus I wanted fold down jacks for the corners which was going to be another 100$, plus 13% sales tax and we were looking at 1865$ for a trailer frame. I don't know about you but I've seen full blown utility trailers with walls and all at Lowe's for 1100$ or 1243$ after taxes and last time I was there they had 10% off, so at that time it was actually 1133$. This steps us back a bit to think.

We have a MIG welder and the capability to build our own so I'm thinking that's the road we're going to take. I found this website that breaks down step by step to build a trailer with pictures and everything so I will probably use that as my base design and assembly instructions. I still want to do the wrap around the wheel wells thing for more storage space and I'm planning to ask the Teardrops and Tiny Travel Trailer community on the leveling jacks.

All this came to a screeching sharp halt when 14 yards of clean quarter inch gravel and a back hoe showed up in my driveway Friday night.

The beauty we rented from Home Depot!

We spent the entire weekend digging and dumping and moving earth. We had three major tasks that we did not want to dig by hand:
  1. Roughly 100 feet across the back part of our yard used to be a ditch but it's been mostly leveled out over the years and now it's more of a swamp in the spring. The plan was dig it up, put down some gravel, big-O filtered, more gravel, some weed paper, earth back in ground. 
  2. Sump pump hose gets moved every time we cut the grass and it's been forgotten at the house a couple of times. To prevent there being water in the basement again we wanted to bury the pipe and have it run to a hole full of rocks.
  3. We want to build a stone patio for our fire place :) (this one makes me the happiest!)
So that consumed our whole weekend. A flat tire later and a guy out to do the repair, me running to the store because we forgot to buy 200 ft of big-O, swinging by to take my moms dog to the vet and made for a chaotic weekend. We still didn't get everything done but we got a big chunk of it done finally!

And now for some pictures!!!

Looking left and right along the ditch at the back while we were dropping the big-O and gravel/digging

The "finished" product after I filled in the ditch again

Alex digging the trench for the sump pump line

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Teardrop Features

Sorry this was supposed to go out last week, apparently the schedule feature on Google Blogs doesn't work the way I think it does.

If you caught my last post you'll realize that I have a passion for camping, and somewhat bitterly, no passion for rain soaked gear and deflated air mattresses. The natural conclusion here is the teardrop camper.

But with so many features where does one start? With the basics of course!

Sleeping Compartment:

I'm 5'10" which is fine for most sleeping arrangements but Alex is 6'2", this complicates things when a lot of plans define a sleeping space as 4' x 6'. Do I suck it up and sleep in the corner while Alex sleeps diagonal or do we jam up the kitchen space to add to the sleeping space?

Since my goal here is to make camping more comfortable for myself, sorry kitchen but you're getting smaller.

One could go pretty wild now with "niceties" inside the sleeping compartment (remember the bathrooms in some teardrop trailers?!). I'll just run through a few of our options and what I'm thinking for ours:

1. Doors, do we want 1 or 2? I'm saying 2 since I got to bed and get up before Alex.

2. Windows, in the doors? on the roof for romantic star gazing? At the front for a cross breeze? TBD. I'm hoping for all of the above to be honest!

3. Air Conditioning or just a fan/vent in the ceiling? AC dictates some kind of power supply, so does the fan but on a much smaller scale. I'm thinking fan to start but I'm asking my electrician (Alex, the Electrical Engineer boy toy with a cute butt) to wire for a potential AC down the road!

4. Additional sleeping space/storage space. If you take a look at this instructable he's constructed a bunk bed for his daughter quite cleverly, see also his photo below. I may someday have children so this would be nice to have and in the meantime it would make good storage space.

5. Entertainment: I've seen stereos and TVs and all manner of things but at most I want a radio in this thing. The whole point in camping is to get outside in the nature. 

6. Lighting: I want to have small reading lights at the head of the bed on each side as well as "patio" lights outside each door with switches (like the photo above) so that I can "leave the light on" for Alex when I go to bed and so we can see our shoes when we get up to pee in the night. 

7. Charging: as much as I want to get away we often need our phones, I picked up this solar panel at Canadian Tire last night because it was on sale. It's a Coleman 40 W solar panel, it won't give us much charge but we're hoping to keep the demand low and leave the house with a fully charged marine battery. Once we have an "electronics plan" we can determine roughly how long the battery would last us. 

8. Bathroom: just no in such a tiny space. I need to be able to escape that... odour. 

The Galley (fancy for kitchen):

Like everything, I've seen a wide range of possibilities here. Some trailers are just shelves back there and cupboards and some have built in sinks, stoves, the whole nine yards! 

So decisions:

1. Lighting, how much and where do we want the lighting for the galley? I'm thinking inside the galley cover and bright enough to illuminate an area around the galley. This location helps keep the bugs up and away from the food when we're cooking in the night. 

2. Water, sink, fresh water reservoir, grey water reservoir, where do I start? 
I know I want a sink for sure, and I know we won't have an endless supply of water like at home so we'd need some kind of control. I like the how in the instructable he made a circuit that if you push the button the water comes on for 5 seconds. That would be good I think in case the nieces and nephews discover how to make it work they can't just run all the water out! Plus we can brush our teeth at our trailer instead of walking over to the comfort station in the morning. 

If we have a sink we'll need a pump, a fresh water and a grey water tank. This could add a significant weight to the galley. Weight distribution impacts our trailer design. On this link Pass-n-Gas says " A good rule of thumb on a tongue pull is to place the center of the Axle"s" 1" for ever foot of combined bed and tongue length. behind the center of the bed." In theory we have even distribution the length of the trailer so that by setting the trailer axle back we have actual tongue weight and not a perfectly balanced teeter totter. 

3. Cooling food.... there's a lot of options here. The most basic is salting all our food like they did in the olden days, man do I love me some prosciutto. But I also love melon so maybe this isn't the answer. 

Next option and still somewhat low tech is a cooler. This is good for up to a few days camping and works but we'd need to store it somewhere. This will need to be taken into consideration when planning the galley. 

Another option is a propane fridge. I have no concept of how much one of these fridges burn in a 24 hr period and it's not currently in the budget/I haven't been able to find one I like online. I would like to do some research though and at least make it an option should we choose to upgrade. Who knows, we may want to run away to the woods permanently if we had one? 

4. Food prep area. Obviously we need counter space to prep food so I like the trailers that have had the stove slide out on drawer slides so it can be tucked away for prep time. I'm still debating stainless steel sheets on the counters or wood or concrete (that's a joke). At it's core it will be wood even if we wrap it in SST so this won't hold up the design while I ponder :) 

For now that's all I can think of for features. I'm sure as we go there will be more!!!

What features would you want if you were building or buying a teardrop trailer? 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Teardrop Trailer Insanity!!

I've been a little obsessed with Teardrop Trailers these past couple of years, which I'm sure my friends and family could confirm... wait, did you just say "what's a teardrop trailer"?! Funny you should ask :)

I've read this several times now so it must be true, but the original design was published in a Popular Mechanics magazine and it was supposed to be a cost effective way for the every day people to go forth and enjoy themselves:

I know, probably the sexiest hunk of junk you could tow behind your vehicle ever right? Kidding. That being said, I'd rather sleep in that thing over an air mattress that loses it's air and a tent that was inevitably set up in a torrential downpour so all your gear is soaked.

In reality modern teardrops are pretty sexy! There's also a huge range, you've got your more basic models like Big Woody Campers:

To the significantly more complex and lovely such as Camp-Inns stretched Teardrop:

Bunk beds and I believe a Queen sized bed: 

I've even seen some with bathrooms jammed into that tiny footprint of a trailer! I feel like Alex would stink me out so no... no thanks. 

In general, when you're talking Teardrops it comes down to a fairly small footprint camper, low ceiling and with a swooshy type shape. I've seen some "teardrops" that were more akin to a brick than a drop of water but they were close to the general principles. I personally think a water drop shape on the top side is a lot more aesthetically pleasing.

You may be asking yourself about now, why not just get a "brick" and be done with it? Well, these Teardrops are generally lighter dry weight wise and more aerodynamic. I don't drive a big truck, Ford Ranger, but I still don't want to be pouring gas out the window! Plus, I understand that with a teardrop you can camp at a normal tent site with no special trailer site requirements. That's a plus for us since we do a lot of tent camping with Alex's family. 

How do you like to camp? Are you more of a rough it in the wild sort or is your idea of a camp out swiping your visa at the nearest spa hotel? 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Another Phone Rant

I know I just posted but I wanted to express my frustration at the recent phone updates. December 2014 I received an offer from Rogers to "upgrade free" 6 months before the end of my contract. At the time I was thrilled but I'm not regretting it. I upgraded from the Samsung Galaxy S3 to the S5 and I regret it. My main regret: memory.

I don't know what happened but every time I turn around I'm out of memory. On top of that I feel like I'm getting constant updates that seem to do nothing but cause problems. In the summer I received an update that required me to delete several photos/apps to make room for it. This October I got another update, deleted again, and now whenever my screen is set to the lowest range of brightnesses or when it dims just before turning off the screen flickers.

On top of the crappy screen thing something they keep messing with is the silencing feature. I used to be able to put my phone on silent and my alarm would still go off. I was late for work the day after I updated because they introduced this new "priority" feature on the sound. Apparently you need to tell it alarms are priorities. Go figure.

Octobers release took away my ability to completely silence my phone, now I can silence the volume but vibration is always on. So now in the middle of the night when I get a WhatsApp or Facebook notification I hear "buzz buzz" from my end table. Not impressed Android, not impressed.

OK, I'm done ranting. Not a bad thing but a strange thing, when I landed in KL in August my background spontaneously changed itself.....

Tardis Costume Part 2

So I believe where I last left you I had all the material purchased and pre-washed/pre-shrunk and nicely folded on the kitchen table. Yay that's half the work right? I wish!

The next step inevitably is cutting the material :( Thankfully my mom helped me with this one, before we could cut the canvas though mom pointed out that it needed to be damp ironed so I got to ironing while she got to cutting. There were many many many pieces to this pattern.... took us at least 5 hours to get it all cut, both of us working at a time!

Here's my moms kitchen table while we worked :) 
So there were quite a few parts to this costume. So many and so unusual to most, I suspect, that near the end of the pattern there was instructions on how to wear the costume. I'll post pictures in the next blog post showing each piece but here's a quick list:
  1. Underskirt
  2. Overskirt
  3. Bustle
  4. Corset
  5. Shrug
On the bright side the fewer pieces you're lining up the easier a pattern usually is. On the not so bright side the sum of effort required for parts 1, 2, 3, and 5 was less than that required for part 4. The corset was... not fun.

I first basted all the outside blues to a layer of canvas I cut. I then had to baste the black top part to all these pieces. Then I sewed the pieces together. I then sewed just the remaining canvas pieces together while mom slaved away at the appliquer:
Then mom sewed the appliquer onto the corset. Unfortunately I cut it too big the first time and she didn't hem the edges so it was way too big to fit onto the corset panel so she did it twice... practice makes perfect? (I may never live this one down in my mothers house) I have to also confess that instead of basting I used that iron on hem stuff, it's amazing and your material has less probability of bunching or stretching differently on the top/bottom.

The upshot of the appliquer SNAFU was my idea to sew them onto the back of the shrug! Here's a pic of us trying to see if they were lined up.... they weren't by the way so I unpinned it and tried again.

It's hard to see from this picture but all the edges of this pattern have bias tape sewn onto them, this both makes it easier than hemming and finishes the edges very nicely! Thanks mom for sewing that stuff all over like crazy!!! She's a bias tape machine ;) 

Next post I'll share a picture of the dress being layered on and a little more details on how it was made but here's a sneak peek of the finished product when I tried it on:

Nevermind the dishes behind me... I'm a bad housekeeper! I will sew for dish cleaners, hahaha!!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Hallowe'en Costume - Tardis From Simplicity

Hello everyone! It's been a while since I posted, I was in KL for a couple months and all I did there was work work work and sleep, then work some more! I also started getting excited for Hallowe'en and planning my costume. You see many months ago I had stumbled across a very gallant Tardis themed dress in progress and I always thought it was really beautiful. I saw the work in progress and most recently I found the finished product, I honestly thought it was a lot prettier without the ball gown style bottom but to each their own :)

I thought it might be pretty cool to do my own Tardis dress, believe me there are many many many variations on this, some simple, some complex like the one previously mentioned. Some closer and some further from the Dr. Who inspired theme. I've been sewing since I was roughly 12 so I'm not intimidated by many a sewing projects but I have little experience in design, so my initial plan was to take a dropped waist dress and sew on some pocket "windows" and call it a day. That's when I came across this beauty:

I did some more digging and discovered this was a Simplicity pattern! I went to Fabricland only to find they don't sell Simplicity anymore :( I looked online then and ordered it but was extremely sad when I received notification that shipping was going to take 7 - 12 BUSINESS DAYS!!! This was for sure going to arrive after Halloween.

So I all but gave up and figured I'd have to do the simpler version I'd designed and run with it when one day I received notification of a package at the post office. I was a bit confused because I wasn't expecting anything at that time but lo and behold it was my pattern only 4 days after I'd ordered it, not 4 business days either. 

Two nights ago I picked up the material, a polycotton, the pattern recommended pure cotton but the polycotton was on sale and it holds both it's colour and shape better. The pattern also called for canvas for the bodice and 12 packages of double fold 1/2" bias tape. 

There were a few other simple notions called up, ribbon, elastic, lace for the bodice (haven't bought this yet because I don't know what kind of lace or where it's going on the bodice), bones (I wasn't sure if I needed cased or uncased so I opted to wait) and grommets. Now the pattern calls for 5/8" gromments times like 42. 5/8" ID grommets is gigantic.... 5/16" looked more like the photo but Fabricland only had that size in white so I'll check Michaels on the weekend. As for the bones I read the pattern and it says cut strips of material to case the bones, now the difference in prince for cased vs. uncased bones I think was 1.5$/m. I'm going to wait buying this because I need quite a few metres so if it so I may wait till I need to install it and see if I have enough remaining bias tape and use that instead of cutting cloth strips. Then I can use uncased bones. 

I got all the cloth home and pre-washed it and pre-shrunk it :) I also cut all the pattern pieces out (took a little two hours but I watched TV as I cut, hello Being Mary Jane!)

I'm curious to see how this pans out because it calls up a canvas for the bodice.... it looks pretty wrinkled after I washed it which means IRONING :(

Monday, August 3, 2015

Kitchen Sink Paleo Roasted Sweet Potato Soup!

Hey everyone! I've been meaning to do an article on the freezer exchanges I've been holding for awhile. Monthly me and some other folks get together with a bunch of the same freezer meals we've made and then trade for some variety. Saves money and time and kicks my butt into gear to make meals ahead! There's a whole article on it here so I won't repeat but this month I'm going to share a recipe I whipped up the other day. I call it kitchen sink soup because the first time I made it I used everything I had in the kitchen except the sink!

Let's get started, the ingredients are as follows (bear in mind I made 6 in one go for the freezer exchange but you can scale it back for a family sized portion, proportions are not a science here!):

  • 4 costco bags of sweet potatoes
  • a giant costco ham
  • 2 boxes of almond milk
  • 3 boxes of beef broth
  • 2 jars of pickled jalapeno peppers (these are to taste, I didn't use all of them)
  • cauliflower (because it was in the fridge)
  • goats cheese (garnish)
So if you're looking at these ingredients this recipe is cow dairy free, grain free and sugar free! You could easily substitute the almond milk for some cream if you wanted it to be smoother or use regular cream cheese :)

I seem to have deleted all my photos so I'll have to remake this in the future to retake the photos, please bear with me for now! Bear in mind also that I cooked this up half at a time because of the size of my stock pot, but if you have a bigger pot you can do it all at once.

To prepare the sweet potatoes I smothered them in coconut oil then baked them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet at 400F for 45 mins like they say on Nom Nom Paleo.

I let those chill in the fridge  overnight because it was late, not because it's necessary. The next day I peeled the skins off (they just slide right off by hand, which I guess it's good I chilled them after all!) and tossed them in my stock pot. I also put in my almond milk, beef broth cauliflower and jalapenos and cooked it on medium to high heat until the cauliflower was cooked. You can play around with the ingredients, honestly I don't think the cauliflower did much for the recipe except act as a "done" indicator.

I then took my immersion blender and blended it until it was a smooth silky consistency. I then poured in the ham and mixed it up. This was a lot of ham BUT it gave the soup some weight and made it more of a balanced meal. From there I scooped it into freezer bags and froze them.

What's your favourite make ahead meal?