Thursday, April 28, 2011

RV Slide Rebuild, The Ottoman's And Advice! Part 3

My desk set up with leather storage ottoman on left
After we had the desks together we set to wiring and setting up our desktops, we had plenty of room on the really nice heavy desktop for all our goodies that had been in storage for a long time, like my Bose speakers for my computer.

Plenty of room underneath for the rack I made for my external ESATA and USB backup drives without the drawer, (I chose not to install it at this time), I may cut the rack down and and install the drawer later.

Doyle's desk set up storage ottoman left

Doyle decided he had to have the Drawer so he added it later, will post pics of it soon.

We found the leather ottoman's were an excellent choice, they are plush, sturdy and have storage inside. They also serve as additional seating at the dining table when we have company. The also were purchased from Home Decorators on clearance, I can't find the link for them any longer, they must have sold out from the first time I wrote about them in December. If you really want them call and ask for: 3294010830 NEWMAN SQUARE STORAGE OTTOMAN 15" SQUARE DARK BROWN, maybe they can dig one up for you.

All in all, this was a great project that turned our Road Warrior Fifth Wheel Toy Hauler into a home. We finally have the work and relaxation area we need!

Doyle at work
If you are planning on a similar build, here's some advice.

1) Buy the very best you can afford, it's not like you are furnishing a ten room house. Quality shows and lasts longer.

3) Make sure your finish matches your interior and design

2) Shop around! I looked for several months before settling on these pieces.

Terri Kicked back listening to tunes
3) Measure your space carefully, then measure again. Not only width, but take into account chair and furniture height, (both seat and back), also if your chairs turn or rock, as ours do, they must be able to move freely without having to move to the center of the room. I heartily recommend cutting out cardboard shapes and laying them out on the floor.

4) Keep company in mind. We bought the 18" high leather ottomans as not only foot rests, but now becomes seating for company. They are high enough to be comfortable at the dining table.


5) Dual purpose. The ottomans have storage built in. The desks have ample storage space. The dining table also now is a sewing/craft area for me and a project table for Doyle. The table has a leaf that extends out several inches and the top flips up to reveal storage.

6) Check behind your couch, you never know what they put behind there. We found an electrical box that thankfully we could move, but you never know what they hid behind there that you may not be able to move.

7) Don't be afraid of Change. You can make your RV into the dream home you want with a little planning, reality check and imagination.

8) Take the time, with the furniture out of the way, to deep clean the area, I also spent three days reorganizing and cleaning the entire rig to make the transition easier.

9) Do your remodel on a nice day so you can unbox and work outside if you need more space.

10) Clear the entire area of Knick Knacks and other objects the day before so you have room to spread things out.

PS.....Expect frustration and be ready to deal with it. Make it a fun day and you'll enjoy the results much more!
Click here for Part 4, Wrapping it Up..We Settle In!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

RV Slide Rebuild, Let's build the Desks Part 2!


Doyle gets to work

Building the second desk
All done except the wiring
The desks arrived un-assembled but were very sturdy and of quality laminate. The instructions were clear and easy to understand, the units are lock pinned together for a good tight fit.

We were very pleased with the construction and finish




 These desks were purchased from Home Decorators and at a very reasonable price, the construction includes finished sides and back, so you could face these out and still have a good looking unit from all sides except the far back corner on one side has a fiber board panel about ten inches wide to allow you to cut it out for cords.

This was my first order from Home Decorators and I have to say,  I was worried. I need not to have been, this is the best quality in a mail order desk I have seen in a long time!

The storage inside the paneled cupboard in the desk is roomy, you almost have to crawl to the back. Plenty of storage there! You could easily get a full sized ATX case in the cupboard and have plenty of room for drives and the usual tangle of cords and multiple surge protectors.

We chose to not install the keyboard drawers for now, as we are a bit tight on spinning room with our HUGE Executive Leather and Teak office chairs we bought on close out from Staples.

They still cost us a pretty penny and are a bit BIG, but they are the most comfortable I have ever found. They make a Euro Chair seem like a wood park bench. I wouldn't trade them for any chair in the world.

Well, this is as far as we got today, we are tired and it's past midnight! First late night we've seen in years!  Stay tuned for part 3...the ottoman's are coming and the desks will be set up and running!

Click here for Slide mod Part 3

RV Slide Rebuild, The Couch Is Gone Part 1!

Desks I ordered
Ok, I've talked about it, and told you all about my plans to rebuild my Living room slide area, the day has finally arrived!

The plan was to remove the couch and to install 2 desks, one in each corner and having the dining table in between us. Then add some nice leather ottoman's and have ourselves a nice workspace with all the comforts of a living room. theater area.

My original plan posting is here, if you need to catch up.


Old layout
I ordered my desks and ottomans and we set about tearing out the couch and getting the area ready for our new "office" living area.

Here is our original layout, it just wasn't working for us, Doyle was cramped in the corner and I had my back to the room and was a bottle neck for getting around the counter. Doyle also could not watch TV if I was sitting in my chair working.

Old office area
I also do a lot of sewing and I had no where to effectively set up my machine and work without disrupting our entire office/dining/sewing table.



Couch be gone!

Here we have torn out the couch and taken it for its last ride.

I took the opportunity to scrub and vacuum the rug, which will eventually be replaced with laminate.
Always something in the way of an easy job!

Of course there are going to be obstacles, after removing the couch we found a power box in the way of snugging up the desk into the corner, Doyle just moved it up the wall a bit.
Lots of room, floors are cleaned, and we're outside unboxing the desks, (WARNING!) unbox outside or you will be vacuuming up Styrofoam fuzz for the next six months! As it was we spent a great deal of time cleaning up bits of the white stuff, by the end of the build it looked like it snowed.



Lots of room, but a bit bare...
Mess of Cords.

Snakes nest of cords left after moving things around, it seems like they have a life of their own and spend every waking moment tangling around each other!

Since this build involves so many pictures, I'm splitting it up into installments,

Stay tuned for part 2 building and installing the desks! 

Read Next Slide Out Mod Build Post Part 2


Template Designer: How to Increase Entire Blog Template Width

Blogger Tips and Tricks: Template Designer: How to increase entire blog width beyond maximum: "The new Blogger Template Designer has made it very easy to change overall blog width as well as the width of the main column and the sideba..."

Notes From ME(Terri) are in red type: This Blog is full of great and stable changes you can make to your blog, I was able to increase the width of my page using this method!

Peter Enviroman has a Great Blog and is the First Guest Blog in a New Series I am starting about other Bloggers of Note. Make sure you drop by his site and give him a BIG Thank You for some great ideas! I changed my site to 1250 wide and it's made all the difference! (Warning, if you are using the Old templates, this will not work, update your page today! Also, it will alter the structure of your older posts, and may require side scrolling for people with old, small screens, so be aware if you are doing so).


The new Blogger Template Designer has made it very easy to change overall blog width as well as the width of the main column and the sidebars. All you need to do is to sign into Dashboard, click DESIGN > TEMPLATE DESIGNER > ADJUST WIDTH and you will be provided with sliders to drag and drop to whatever values your heart desires, then click APPLY TO BLOG to save the new settings (see screenshot below):



Not only that, you can view the result of your selected changes below and if horrified by your changes, just click RESET WIDTHS TO TEMPLATE DEFAULT. (Note that while there is no slider to adjust the width of the main column, it would be indirectly set by the overall width - whatever width you have set for the sidebar)

However with the Simple (and I believe the others too) template, the overall width is limited to maximum 1000px. So what do you do when you want your overall blog width to be greater than 1000px.?

WARNNG: Before proceeding download a copy of your template! Here is a screenshot of where it is located. If you don't like the changes you can upload your old template and all will be well.
Well, while in the DESIGN tab/mode, click EDIT HTML to open the template editor and search for these codes (use ctrl+ F and search for, say, <b:template-skin> or any portion of the codes below:

<b:template-skin>
<b:variable default='930px' name='content.width' type='length' value='1000px'/>
<b:variable default='0' name='main.column.left.width' type='length' value='0px'/>


then change that 1000px to whatever values you fancy and you would have changed the overall blog width.


BTW the default for the overall blog width is 930px which is roughly the value you would need to set in order to optimize your blog for 1024x768 screen resolution which is what many web designers are doing because the previous lowest denominator 800x600 screen is now used by very few people.

Disk Warrior Saves my Apple Behind Again....

There I was, happily blogging away when I realized I needed some photos from an old external drive. I plugged it in and my Macbook Pro gave me the message of doom:

"Disk not recognized, do you want to initialize?"
"NO! I screamed, "I want my data!" ( I have an ongoing verbal relationship with my computer, I must think I'm on Star Trek or working with Hal in "2001 Space Odessey")
 
Shoot. OK, I'll just fire up Disk Utility and fix this puppy right up....twenty wasted minutes later and the ominous "Disk Cannot Be Repaired" message in bold red type, (yeah, like they HAVE to rub it in).

I scratched my head and tried to remember if I'd backed up this particular external drive, (of course I hadn't, it WAS the back-up drive). 

What next? I checked all my connections, tested them out, restarted a few times and generally wasted another hour in futile exercises that fall under the heading of, "If I try hard enough my drive will reappear..."

Then I took a break and started to think. What was that software I used to use that magically brought my dead drives back to life in "The Good Old Days" of OS 6-7-8 & 9 when I still knew my stuff?
Ah, now I remember....it was:

Disk Warrior
The Essential Mac Disk Utility:


From DiskWarrior Site: Everything just disappeared after your Mac went haywire. All your work documents. The music you most enjoy. The movie of your kid's first steps. It's your life and it's gone. Don't panic! DiskWarrior will find your documents, photos, music and any other files when disaster strikes and things go missing.

Perhaps you've tried to open a document and all that happens is a color wheel that spins and spins and spins… Or when your Mac starts up, all you get is a blinking question mark… Or you were in the middle of editing a movie and now your external hard disk isn't on the desktop… Or your MP3s won't play... Or every time you look through your photos, your Mac crashes. DiskWarrior gets you back up and running fast!


DiskWarrior Repairs Disks No Other Utility Program Can Repair


DiskWarrior can find your missing documents and files.
Using a patent-pending, award-winning method of rebuilding directories.

DiskWarrior cures those cryptic errors reported by Disk Utility.
Messages from your Mac such as "Invalid node structure" and "Keys out of order" may seem mysterious or even scary but DiskWarrior fixes these problems and many, many more.

Just one click finds everything that's missing or broken.
With a single click, DiskWarrior finds all salvageable files and folders and builds a new error-free, optimized directory for you to use.

You can easily check if your missing documents and items have been recovered.
DiskWarrior's patented preview feature lets you see how your disk will appear after it is repaired, but before any changes are made. You can even compare your disk in its damaged state to its repaired state.

DiskWarrior is incredibly safe to use.
DiskWarrior verifies your repaired directory to ensure it is error free. It then uses a
fail-safe method of replacing the damaged directory to ensure that interruptions such as power outages won't harm your data.

DiskWarrior is the highest rated and wins more awards.
The first reviews are in! See what the press is already saying about the new DiskWarrior 4.

Can you afford to waste your hard-earned money on any other utility?
You can try other utilities but you'll probably end up needing DiskWarrior to recover your data. You'll save money buying DiskWarrior first.

My Book, Freebird, WD in Icy Dock

I went to the site and downloaded the software, yeah, it set me back $90 bucks, but a new drive would've cost me at least as much, if not more, and then I would still be out my data.. I also got the start up disk mailed out to me for when I need to run diagnostics on my internal start up drive, but in the meantime, within 20 minutes I had the software, installed it and got my drive back intact. All my data safe and sound.

I also ran it on my other external drives and found they were near collapse too and quickly rebuilt them also. This is a great software and I'll never go without it again!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wisconsin Scenery-Old Forgotten Fort

Since the weather here in Southern Wisconsin today is more condusive to indoor activities, I've been sorting through old pictures and thought I would share some of the secret scenery of this lovely state.
Here is part of an old mystery "Fort" that used to stand on the property we lived on in the Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin area until last year. Rumors abound to it's origin and many locals can remember that it was still standing when they were a child. It was a favorite haunt for kids to hang out. It was crumbling dangerously so it had to be bulldozed in a few decades ago.
All that is left is this strange "Cave Like" structure that has stood the test of time. It was obviously very well built by a skilled craftsman. 
Note the Keystone at the back of the structure, there is no mortar between the stones, but shows evidence of the walls once being plastered.

 
 Some say it was a Fort built by the first settlers to the area to protect them from the Indians, others say it stood even before that, conjuring images of a lost tribe of Spanish explorers led on the trail for the hunt for the Lost Gold of this continent, finding themselves stranded and in need of fortification.


All that is left of the Fort Walls.



Who Knows? Maybe someone will unlock the key to this ancient structure, until then it waits with its secrets in an old apple orchard in the woods.

Morning Coffee Clutch

Hang on to That Cup!
Literally...
Thought I'd join you for coffee this morning, as you can see, my hands are firmly grasping the Chalice of Life Giving Substance.

I start my day with two cups of coffee, and that's it. I am allowed no more. So it is the most important thing in the world to me...I used to drink gallons...

I once had a Tropical Fish shop in my early days, (when the crust of the Earth was still cooling), I had an open house and bought an 18 cup coffee maker for the occasion.

Seen Better Days
The Open house was a flop, but I drank the entire pot of coffee during the course of the day myself. Ah, those were the days....

Then there was the cappuccino maker debacle. I bought it for an occasional cup of Super Joe, but ended up returning it within a week. At the return counter of Target, the young Lady asked why I was returning it.

I told her it was either return it or die from Cappuccino poisoning.

That brings us round to today, when moderation has become the key to survival. I must regulate my intake of caffeine. I need to sleep now and then.

So I relish my morning Java and take it very seriously. I buy the whole bean and grind it fresh every a.m. I drink "Brethren of the Coast" Pirate coffee especially roasted for me by a Crazy Pirate Coffee Roaster from Florida. He ships anywhere in the world to me, which is a Good Thing. Pirates, it seems, have to stay alert and awake, so they have an especially strong brew, for which I am ever grateful to them.
Just for Show....

This brings me round to my 2 cup electric drip coffee machine, which is just about to die. As the picture above shows, the handle is barley attached. Soon I must obtain a new one and I'm torn, she has served me so well now for more than three years on the road.

I would use my Boondocking pot pictured above, in all it's stainless glory, and most assuredly have a better cup of brown stuff, but it's a wee bit too big, and I will drink it all...besides, it's sorta my one and only Knick Knack. And we all know if it's a Knick Knack, it must not serve any useful purpose, (it must be also very hard to keep clean looking, in which this pot serves me well, you walk by it and finger prints magically appear).

Life Giving Bean Grinder
I am dazzled by the array of new coffee makers out there, it is almost too much to bear. One must actually do research these days to select a pot of choice, and the offerings are daunting. Single cup makers with special pouches of pre ground flavored offerings would be my choice, were it not for that every present vision of the Landfill in my mind with a mountain of little plastic and foil cups mounded up to the sky. I can't go there.

I'm sure my fellow coffee addicts know what I'm talking about so I will cut to the chase and say that if hot water runs through it, it will work for me. I will just drop by the nearest "Super Center" and buy the first thing I see that makes two cups. It will save me much anguish, I tend to over analyze things as it is.....once I've had my coffee, that is.

Or conversely, I may just wire up the handle on the pot I have and continue on until it truly is dead, a more likely scenario. Waste Not...Want Not.

An Observer




Monday, April 25, 2011

RV Loft Bedroom Craft Storage Area

The bedroom loft in our Road Warrior was a hodge-podge storage area, we don't have people sleeping over, so I just stacked totes from the head to the foot of the bed.

This wasn't working out very well, so I was pleased to find that transparent storage drawers fit perfectly in the headboard storage are, (where there are normally cupboards and a TV).

I then went on to put more drawer units down the far wall. I managed to get everything I used for sewing/ beading in those drawers and now if my Sister comes to visit, there's still room for her to sleep, and I have room to move around when I'm looking for something!
The ones I actually used came from KMart and are only sold by them, as far as I know.
The ones shown in the Amazon ad above are close, but not quite what I used.
I suggest taking your measurements and going to KMart. The set of three drawers come banded together, but can be un-banded and stacked differently.

Local Flooding Pics and an Invite to Visit Us This Summer

Historic Building on site
These are more pictures of the flooding in Prairie du Chien Wisconsin. The worst of the flooding seems to be over for now and the waters have crested and are receding as of today.


Boat launch, not handrail that leads into river
One of the main roads to the Island



The old Hotel was just being restored, (on right)
The area pictured is St. Feriole Island, a area that once included the original Town Site and a Native American Village before that on the Mississippi.

Prairie du Chien is a French name given by fur trappers that means, "Prairie of the Dog" or "Prairie of the Fox" so named after the Fox tribe that inhabited the Island at time of their landfall.

It was at one time the center of town and the hub of manufacturing activity, having a barrel factory and shell button plant as well as other sundry businesses, it was moved in the 70's and 80's after catastrophic flooding that was higher than even these pictures represent.

Prairie, today, is a quiet little burg that hosts a Historic Rendezvous once a year on the Island that we cook for on Father's Day weekend. Our Kitchen location would be a couple of blocks South of the log building above and is currently under 5 feet of water. I have provided an informational link above.


Prairie Villa Museum built on an Indian Mound stays dry



If you happen to be traveling through the area this Summer on Father's Day weekend be sure to drop down for the Event and we'll cook you up some Heritage Fry Bread and serve you a Great Old Fashioned Root Beer. We sure would like to meet some of our Full Time and Future Full Time Friends! Well show you the high water marks on the pole next to our tent!

The Event also features a City Wide Rummage Sale and one of the Midwests largest Flea Markets at the same time.

The River Bluff Drive along the Mississippi is considered one of the most scenic in the country also. Along the way you'll see eagles nesting along the river and real Amish Flea Markets with genuine Amish Goods, (not those awful Amish Outlets that really aren't Amish at all!)

This is one of the reasons we Summer here, it's location on the river and huge limestone bluffs are breathtaking and the fishing is fantastic! Come by and see what we mean.
Our Kitchen Under Canvas

If you want to catch up with us sometime this Summer you can check out our Event Calendar here. We would be happy to cook for you, we have an All-You-Can-Eat Breakfast for $5 and our Heartland Road Warrior Toy Hauler is always somewhere nearby, we'd be glad to give you a tour of our home when we get a slow moment and share our stories on the road.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

RV Under Bed Fabric Storage

Bolts ends out
As part of my Spring rebuild, I had to get a grasp of just what I needed and where I needed it.

I had most of my fabric in storage, or in a large cabinet above the TV. It wasn't working for me. I had to stand on a ladder to access the fabric and most of it was buried out of sight.

Remnants in front Leather in cardboard box
I finally figured out that a lot of space was being wasted under the bed. It had a ledge and narrow space toward the front that wasn't very useful, but after some measuring, I found if I put my bolts of fabric bolt ends out, I could see at a glance what fabric I had.

I  sorted them by type and used the front portion for remnants and to the right, my beloved wool collection. In the box is my leather hides rolled up and boxed to keep them from staining other fabrics.

I left a space open in front that I threw a few blankets in so I could just pull out the blankets and get in to access everything.

I'm livin' in a box!
This opened up the cabinet above the TV for my sewing machine heads and some other storage items way in the back that I don't need access too very often.

 I am really pleased with this organized way of storing fabric, out of the way, but accessible when I need it.

Future plans call for some heavier duty struts to lift the bed so it's even easier to get at things.


My wool on the right

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Murphy Beds, Why not in an RV?

This would work great in a motorcoach!
I found this video on Stumbleupon and was so inspired by it, I thought I would find the source video and post it here below.

I then took snap shots of the video for my viewers who can't or don't have video capability for one reason or another.

It could store slanted against the bulkhead in a fiver
Contents safe underneath
It seems to me, with a little engineering one could be designed for Fifth wheelers and Motorcoaches, sure it might be more slanted against the Head wall. or maybe it could be incorporated into the side wall, but think of the office or craft space one could create!

I would gladly give up my under bed storage to have something like this, if any one knows somewhere to get one custom made to fit my RV, let me know!

The engineering is so finely balanced you can raise or lower it with a finger. I like how you can leave the contents on the desk or shelf.

There are other great furniture ideas in the video too, some already being made for RV's, such as the raising, expandable coffee table.

Desk slide above with contents
I predict that someday this will be the norm for RV's if only we can get them to do it!



Here is a link to their site.

I also found a great "build your own" Murphy bed video farthest below, I think I'll take the plans to our Local Amish Carpenters in Wisconsin and see what they can do!



This model would work on the side wall in Queen size
Bed folds down, imagine it in a Queen
Note the arched slats, eliminating the box spring
Flip it around
this could also work in a coach
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