Monday, December 2, 2013

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions........

Although most of my friends now think I’m kinda’ crazy (read: unhealthily obsessed) with the idea of living in a Tiny House…..the idea is really starting to grow on me.  The more I read about others who have gone before me into the bold new world of living small, the more excited I become.  (I bet you’re thinking……“Really? Is that even POSSIBLE?”)

I am, however, not following anyone’s path exactly, I am starting from scratch.  I’m taking all of the best ideas from the floor plans and material lists I’ve seen, injecting a dose of frugal reality, adding a sprinkle of creative genius, a touch of whimsy (as well as taking Mark’s building experience and feedback into consideration) and hopefully……eventually…….I’ll have THE PLAN.

I’ve started a binder that is already packed full of the best the Pinterest, Facebook, and various website and books have to offer. 

Go Team Me!

So …….do I use:

Stairs or a ladder?

Skylights or windows?  (can you say “loft escape hatch”)

Gas Heat or Electric?  (I’m afraid of “gas” but may have to succumb to reason on this one)

Marmoleum Floors or Wood? (I’m waiting for someone to tell me why I can’t use marmoleum.)

Stackable washer dry or all in one?  (all in one’s are impossible to find on craig’s list and expensive!)

French doors or solid, vintage?  (aka “free” since I already have two vintage ones)

Pocket interior doors or hung?

Curtains or cupboard doors?  (curtains are a great way to reduce weight, and add texture and color to the space!)

Wood stove or pellet stove?  (or will a gas heater, suffice?)

Used Trailer or new?  ($$ or $$$$$?)

Composting toilet or Incinolet?  (smell will be a major factor in this decision!)

Murphy bed or fold out couch?

Decisions, decisions, decisions…………….

Do you have any suggestions or experience that might be helpful to me?

Do tell!!!

It’s a good thing I have lots of time to plan this project because although it will most likely drive everyone in my life NUTS after hearing about it every day, for the foreseeable future, it will take me a long time to figure this all out and finally be able to proceed forth with confidence in my ability to make this happen.



Monday, November 18, 2013

A New Direction!?

You know how life sometimes goes in an entirely different direction than you had originally envisioned?
My life’s journey has been one turn, after another, and some might even say it has been “A Series of Unfortunate Events”.
So, in keeping with the overall theme of my life, today I am announcing a bit of a change to this blog. 
So far, I have been posting details about my vintage trailer, Besty;  my mascot, George;  and our adventures together.   Rest assured, I will continue to do so and am looking forward to a very active 2014 Glamping and blogging season!   I love telling her story to anyone who will listen and sharing my restoration and project cost-saving ideas with others. 

However, in the process of renovating Besty, I stumbled on what I now consider to be the next evolutionary step of the Vintage-Travel-Renovation-Creative-Inspiration-ReUse-Project……..I’ve been bitten by the Tiny House Bug.  In fact, I have already started planning, and sketching, and talking with other enthusiasts. 

My goal:

Build and finish my own Tiny House by the end of 2016.

I assume you won’t mind the change since this blog is called “Decide Where to Go” and, quite frankly, it is an accurate reflection of my quandary regarding where I’ll go next… life, with my career, or just camping.   So, here’s the scoop.  My youngest son will graduate from high school in 2015 and once I am no longer bound by the confines of the high school district where I have been (in the best interest of being close to his dad) I’ll be able to begin to consider housing options that don’t include 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a sizeable yard to pay eighteen thousand dollars per year to rent.

I have been married, and divorced, twice.  I left both marriages with little more than the clothes on my back.  Despite all of the money and hours invested (in the houses AND the marriages) I am now facing the real fact that I have nothing to show for said investments.  Yes, I live a simple life without credit card, auto, or mortgage debt and some might consider that admirable.  Since I don’t have any money in the stock market, I didn’t lose any in the market crash of 2008.  Since I don’t own a house I have not experienced the same drastic and stress inducing decline in housing values as my neighbors have.  So, all in all….mine is not a bad situation to be in. 

But, do I want to jump onto the home owner’s band wagon this late in life?  Nope.

Do I want to stress out over finding an affordable place to live when I’m retired?  Nope.

A Tiny House will give me the ability to live a simple, yet very flexible and debt free life, and also have something to show for my creative efforts.

The options are endless, even with my significant other, Mark, by my side.

I could move in with him and then use the tiny house as a place for my children, and grandchildren to stay when they come visit us.

Or, he and I can travel the country together, using his house as a rental and my tiny house as our home base.

I can also use it as a creative studio for projects, or a quiet place to write…..or nap.

Yep.  It’s a great solution.  Granted, Mark isn’t quite convinced.  But I’m confident that, with time, he’ll be just as enthusiastic as I am.
(Or maybe not, since I’m kinda’ over the top in the Enthusiasm Department.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I love Oregon! (Glamping Weekend 2013)

I love Oregon.  One of the downsides of living here, however, is that camping season is relatively short.  I have not updated this blog because there has been not much to report.  Betsy has been resting comfortably in the driveway and I’ve been hunkered down in the warmth of my house waiting for the days to get longer or someone to convince me that I should venture out to join them on my first outing with Betsy.

National Glamping Weekend did just that.

I met last year’s Glamping Hostess, Shirley, over email and she confessed to being a bit overwhelmed with the fact that last year’s Glamping event had 10 trailers and this year’s event participant count was already shaping up to be many times more than that.  So I volunteered to help

Shirley is bouncy, fun, funny, cute, short, and amazing.  I used to think that I talked a lot, until I met Shirley.  The first time we met over coffee I kindly joked with her about her inability to breathe while she talked.  She thought I was funny too.  We were instant BFF’s.

As the weeks wore on and the emails came and went from the over 50 ladies that were registered as participants, I have to admit that Glamping Weekend became both an event to look forward to, and an event to look forward to being over.  It got to be a bit overwhelming, even for me. 

But I soldiered on…….

The day arrived and after checking our lists, making agenda copies and generally fussing about details like fresh flowers and chamber pots, we headed off.  My Lil’ Betsy was a trooper.  She loaded and hauled like a dream.  She’s cute, quiet, and low maintenance.  I put ice in the icebox and off we went.

My 17 year old daughter Alyssa also tagged along for what was sure to be a Mother/Daughter Bonding Weekend.   She wasn’t sure what she was getting into, a bit nervous about being away from her cell phone for so long, but trusted that it would be fun and a memory we would both cherish.

And it certainly was.

Friday was Bunco night in my pajamas that I never wear.  Saturday morning started with a Bring-What-You-Want-To-Eat brunch that turned out really well with all kinds of beautiful food.  (Despite the fact that I didn’t micromanage the Who’s-Bringing-What List.  Hmmm….I’m sure there’s a lesson here somewhere…….)  Saturday afternoon got a bit crazy when the time came for Trash for Treasure.  I was the hostess, and literally truckloads of cute stuff appeared, out of nowhere, for me to sell.  Luckily, the Wine-A-Bago appeared just in time to take the edge off by providing an easy source to my favorite Pinot and then……..we were off to participate in Death by Chocolate.

All in all it was a fun weekend and now I have a whole slew of new facebook friends.  Alyssa and I were running, walking, biking, jogging, and driving from here to there all weekend but still managed to bond and discuss her upcoming 18th birthday and graduation party.

I got some really cute pictures, lots of décor ideas for my own trailer, but a bad case of trailer envy.  Where did all these creative, fun, independent, women come from? 

As we were packing to leave the next day we met a couple who had just purchased a 2013 Airstream and pulled it from the dealer’s lot, to the camp site.  The dad was sitting on the picnic table reading the 2” thick operating manual.   We struck up a conversation and they invited us into see their newest “baby”.

Their trailer was breathtaking.  Perfect.  Clean. Sleek.  Equipped. High Tech.  Super Comfy.  Roomy.


Would I like a 2013 Airstream?  You betcha’!

Would I want to go into debt to purchase one?  No way!

I’d rather refurbish an older one, feeling good about saving money and putting a little of myself into her at the same time.  I’d rather pull her down the road knowing she’s the only one of her kind and all mine.

We did it.  She didn’t fall apart.  Betsy made it.  There and back.  Without a scratch.

Our mascot, George, got his picture taken on his first adventure and Alyssa and I have a memory to cherish.   It truly was very fun but next year…….I’ll do far less organizing and far more enjoying.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Measure Twice, Cut Once (Yes...Really...)

While I have to admit that, for the most part, renovation of the trailer has gone well; there have been a couple of tough “I-really-should-have-known-that” lessons I have learned along the way.  I am sharing them with you here with the hopes that you’ll avoid them altogether.

Lesson #1:  NO surface in a vintage trailer is level, plumb, parallel, or straight. 

Lesson #2: See Lesson #1.

When measuring the backsplash piece, for instance, you cannot assume that if you measure the distance between the top of the countertop and the bottom of the cabinet on one side, that the other side is the same.  It isn’t.  The same goes for the width of the countertop and the cabinet themselves.  They appear to be directly on top of each other and the same width.  They aren’t. Yes, I know this means that the backsplash won’t be a perfect rectangle.  It isn’t. 

Deal with it and move on.

Lesson #3:  Measure twice, drill once.

Lesson #4:  See Lesson #3.

A butcher block countertop is NOT made of forgiving material.  If you drill a hole in the wrong place you have to replace the whole countertop, you can’t just put another piece of laminate over the hole.  (otherwise known as Plan B) When you go to the store to buy a new countertop only to discover they have discontinued it, and won’t be getting ANY more in, you have to move to Plan C.  When you realize the hole you drilled can only be used for only ONE type of faucet and the local camper supply has also discontinued the faucet you need, you have to move on to Plan D.  When you finally find a faucet that will fit in the hole, but the supply line you need is a different size than the supply line that store that carries, you need to…yes…move on to Plan E.

Yes, I finally got the water faucet in but…wow….did I learn a HUGE lesson in the meantime.   I still need to install the pump faucet for the onboard water supply but I’m not sure I even want to touch the countertop with a drill ever again.

Lesson #5: Trim, caulk, and wood filler is your friend.

If you have to cut a window opening in plywood with a jigsaw, it won’t be pretty.  Aluminum window trim is your friend.  If you cut the front opening of the cupboard with a jigsaw and sneeze while doing so, resulting in a wave-looking notch near the corner, screen molding is your friend.  If you’re drilling a hole for the faucet and accidently tilt the drill bit so damages the lower cabinet wall….well…I’ll let you know how I end up fixing this particular Boo Boo. 

It’s still staring at me….

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thank you, Grandma, Part II

As I mentioned in a prior post, early in the trailer project my Grandma died.  Her small “donation” to my project’s cause was greatly appreciated, and celebrated.  But, her contribution would not end there.

My Grandma loved to sew.  She collected scissors, notions, fabrics, patterns, yarn, buttons, lace, snaps, needles, etc…  You name it, she had a collection of it.  So, while I am in the middle of the trailer project (with parts and pieces already cluttering my house and garage) I got an email from my cousin telling me that, as the executor, he decided to give me my Grandma’s entire sewing room…furniture and all.  He asked if I could come up with my truck that weekend and get it so it would not get mixed in with the other items that would be sold at her estate sale.

I brought home an entire TRUCK LOAD of boxes, bags, and furniture that once was her sewing room.  Determined not to let it go unused, or sit around getting dusty, I promptly set off to Target to buy bins so I could sort through the cardboard boxes and make sense of it all.   When all was said and done I had over 30 pairs of scissors, hundreds of spools of thread, dozens of zippers, hundreds of yards of fabric, a sewing machine with table, and notions galore.   (Eight shoe box sized bins of notions and 4 very LARGE clear plastic bins full of fabric.)

And it didn’t end there.

A few weeks later the rest of the family had gone through the house and picked out what they wanted, before the estate sale.  I got another email asking if I would like to come visit again and sort through it all to see if I could “use” any of it.

And…another truck load found its way home with me. 

It was like I was on American Pickers, only, I didn’t have to pay for anything and there were no TV cameras.  I found vintage hats, and hat boxes, mason jars and various glass containers, cookbooks from the early 1900’s, shelving, an old canvas umbrella, a ladder stool, two suitcases, a new lawmower (yeah!) a steamer truck (VERY cool) some shelving for a future painting project, kitchen gadgets and glasses, more yarn, four more boxes and one large trunk full of fabric…and more stuff that I cannot remember.

Let the sorting begin again.

Most of my vintage finds are now part of my living and dining room décor.  The kitchen gadgets and other vintage items, including the mason jars, are now part of my trailer décor.   The sewing machine and notions found their way into our family’s “productivity room”.

Another trip to IKEA yielded the most amazing fabric find (yeah, like I need more fabric!?) for the curtains and the sewing machine was put immediately to use making curtains AND pillows. 

The best part about making simple curtains?  No patterns required.

The best part about my picking adventures?  I have memories of my estranged Grandma to take with me on my trailer adventures; and I have the knowledge that, although she was not a part of my life, she remembered me.

Life is crazy sometimes, isn’t it?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Hacksaw is NOT your Friend

This post is about my icebox.  Yes, an entire post about a little metal box that holds ice and keeps your vegetables cool.  Who’d thunk that such a small and unassuming thing such as an icebox would give me such trouble?

Well, it did.


First, I’d like to start off with a big “What were they thinking???!!”  The icebox was screwed into the lower cabinet with 12, count them, 12 screws on the hinge side.  I’m not sure why and can only assume that the “one on each corner” approach just didn’t seem, practical, or enough, or…I don’t know.

“How many screws on the other side?” you may ask.  Two.  Why?  I don’t know. 

Next, I wanted to take the door off so I could paint it or do whatever creative treatment I decided on.  The screws in the door hinge wouldn’t unscrew, they were rusted on.  So, I did what any other semi normal woman would do…I cut them off with a hacksaw.  Oops.  Um…now how do I get the door back on? 

The door had a bit of rust on it and I didn’t want to do what everyone else did and just paint it so….I got some dark red, off white, and dark blue scrap book paper and decoupaged the door.  I thought it looked kinda’ cool.  Ok, pretty cool.  Um, maybe cool?
My friend who is an interior design student said “It looks like a 4th grade art project went very very wrong.”


Maybe I needed a new icebox? So, I found one on craigslist for $15.  I brought it home and TA DA!! didn’t fit and no matter how much I wanted it to…it didn’t fit.


So I painted the icebox door after all.  Painting over the decoupage gave it a fun and unexpected texture.  I like fun.  I like unexpected texture.  Score!  Now back to my original quandary, how do I get the door back on?

I went to a Fastenal store which carries, yep, all kinds of fasteners.  I took the icebox and the door with me.  They were closed but…drum roll…the Do It Hardware Center nearby was OPEN!!  I took it in and handed the box and the door to a very curious but helpful owner / gentleman who spent the next 45 minutes with clamps, and hammers, and going back and forth from the store to the front counter, trying various screws and post thingies, re-attaching the door.

When he was all done he said “That’ll be $2.75” 


I bought some duct insulation and replaced the rotted cardboard that WAS the icebox's insulation, wiped the inside again with bleach and water and screwed it back into the cabinet.   The 12 screws on the hinge side look pretty weird but I bet you wouldn’t notice if I didn’t tell you. (or ask you to take it out)  Overall it looks pretty great and is a nice focal point for the entry.


The best part of this story is that I sold the other icebox on craigslist for $20!

Nothing to sigh about there….

Friday, October 5, 2012

FREE is a Great Price!

It’s amazing what I’ve learned about myself during the process of renovating my little Scotsman.  I have discovered that I am even more capable than I thought I was.  I’ve conquered my fear of electricity (rewired the interior lights) and found creative and cost effective solutions for many issues; like the countertop, exterior paint, and flooring.

I originally wanted a dark blue countertop because I was using dark blue as my accent / trim color.  So, I tore out the countertop and table top and hauled them in the back of my truck to the local countertop manufacturer.  (No guessing required. Here’s what the measurements are, dude!)

I almost hit the FLOOR when he quoted me $580!!!  Perhaps you have your math wrong?  Nope. Five hundred and eighty big ones.  Um.  Well.  No thanks.

Oh crap.  Now what?
The countertop...before demolition.  Icky!
As I have mentioned, I love craigslist but even more so (if that’s possible) I LOVE IKEA!  They get a bad rap for having crappy stuff but like any store, if you know what you’re looking for you can get amazing deals and décor items at IKEA.  So, off I went in search of countertop options.  Once again, they did not disappoint.  I found a 9 foot x 28 inch piece of 1” thick butcher block for…drum roll….$59!!!  It was more than enough for the table top and the countertop with cutting boards to spare.  Woo Hoo!!!
The NEW Ikea countertop.  Love, love, love it!
For the exterior paint I contacted a guy who had recently painted two, fifty three foot long, semi-truck trailers for me.  (I am a purchasing professional so I know how to find people, and stuff!)  One of my friends provides all her basic needs merely by bartering.  Seriously, she barters for everything she needs! 

Ok, where am I going with this?

So I asked Kevin the paint guy, “I’m not sure how to ask this because I’ve never done it before but…would you be willing to paint my vintage trailer for barter?”

He asked me a few questions about what I could offer him in trade, we came to an agreement and I’m happy to say that my exterior paint job was FREE.  (if you don’t count the labor hours I owe him.)  I had gotten two other bids from auto painters and they wanted $1000 - $1200 so FREE was a gift from Karma, or God, or whatever higher power you believe in.  He painted my trailer the same factory color as my convertible V6 that I’ll be towing her with.  They’re a matched set!

Before Paint....

After Paint.... 
I also know a guy (OK, by now I bet you’re thinking “this chick knows everyone!” and you wouldn’t be too far off…) that does amazing interior remodel work with reclaimed barn wood.  So I called him up and he said I could bring my truck and get as much reclaimed barn wood as I wanted for…you guessed it….FREE!

Of course, the wood was wet with rusted nails but I had a vision and I would not let a little wood working project get in my way of jaw dropping floors.

Enter, once again, Mark to the rescue!

He loaned me his planer, I borrowed a table saw from the neighbor, and I bought a miter saw on craiglist for $15; and went to work.  I ran all the boards through the planer to get them all the same thickness (well, almost….close enough?) and then cut them to length and dry fit them in the space.  Mark generously donated a weekend to run them through the table saw and then meticulously installed them.  I sanded the floor and put two coats (so far) of polyurethane down.

I’m telling ya’….these are the most beautiful floors you have ever seen and I’m so glad I didn’t go with VCT because reclaimed barn wood is durable and I don’t care if they get scratched or dirty.  The worse the floor gets, the better it looks.  I know it’s way different than every other trailer out there and really, isn’t that the point?


And the floor was almost FREE!