Monthly Archives: July 2014

Happy Campering: The Interior

I have finished all of the major updates to our new camper. I posted about the exterior already, here. Custom paint job = amaze-balls. Since then, I have finished painting the brown areas (the step and the hitch). They are a burgundy/maroon color. To match my (new) car and our truck. Because those match. Yup. My husband and I are matchies. Blech. With the coordinating accent color, the den really fits in with the rest of our fleet. I would still like to add another smaller constellation to the back. I was thinking, Ursa Minor. Otherwise, I’m very satisfied.

The interior took some time. Particularly because I have absolutely no talent at sewing, crafting, reupholstering, etc. It’s amazing what you can do with a little pin-spiration and a hot glue gun. The major renovation to the interior was painting and recovering the existing pads. I also tore out the curtain rods and replaced them. I sewed new curtains. I recovered the accent panels. And, I crafted, crafted, crafted. Seriously. I have callouses on my fingers from needles, burns on my hands from hot glue, etc.

Unfortunately, I lost the pictures I had taken of the original interior. But, a couple remain…
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As you can see, the interior is finished with faux-wood laminate cabinetry. I actually really liked this aspect of the design and we have maintained it. I did not, however, like the existing wallpaper- a dated, floral design. The curtains were nice but didn’t speak to my aesthetic. They had to go too. I would have really liked the pattern on the padding if it were slightly more vintage-looking. As it was, it reminded me too much of a couch we had in the nineties. Finally, I wanted to create some permanent camper fixtures. Pictures, crafts, etc. but also things that would match my chief design and still vibe with the camping-den theme. I also had to employ my little camper here. She’s a much better crafter than me. And so, the results…

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I covered the pads with painter’s canvas from the hardware store. It was a cheap and effective way to reupholster them. I still plan on spraying the canvas with a waterproofing agent to prevent stains. I also sewed coordinating pillow covers and curtains. I love the look of a bunting and used some scrap fabric and ribbon to create a neat window trim. I had received a coupon for a free 16 x 20 photo print, so I used that to create the bear poster with some custom photo-editing. I had Duckers color some empty frames from IKEA for the wall. I modge-podged a map to foam board to keep a record of the campgrounds we visit. I even tried my hand at cross-stitching.

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Strictly speaking, the green “Eat, Sleep, Camp” sign and the patriotic doll in the picture above were gifts. I did not make them. But, they are part of the permanent decor. Also, the blue “Camper Sweet Camper” sign and the hearts were gifted with the camper from my aunt. Again, we are eternally grateful! I did paint the hearts to match my scheme. I will take pictures of the complete set-up on our next adventure. I couldn’t be happier with our progress so far. I am a very happy camper.

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Recent Readery

Last post, I had read 15 of my 40-book goal. I have added another 10 to that total. I have started another few books, but put them down for one reason or another. I will return to them soon. A brief sample of my most-recent reads:

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. 3.5 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed this story. I enjoyed the style of writing. I enjoyed the premise. I enjoyed the setting. I enjoyed the characters. I enjoyed the ending. But, I didn’t “loooooove” it. All of the aspects I “enjoyed” could also be simplified more for my tastes. I liked the characters but they were awfully complex and numerous. I liked the ending: it was a well-earned tragic climax. But the resolution failed for me. And so on with the other aspects of the book.

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. 3 out of 5 stars. I love Lahiri. She is a brilliant author. Her writing is incredibly thoughtful and well-set. But, I prefer her short stories. She excels when she is succinct. Her long narratives are excessive in setting, character, emotion. While her short stories successfully and surprisingly contain volumes, her novels lead too many lives, too many places, and cannot maintain my attention.

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. 4 out of 5 stars. First, this novel has an incredibly unique narration. The protagonist is flawed but likable. As apocalyptic-literature goes, this may be one of my favorites. In addition to an inventive narrative style, the plot is interesting. The setting and imagery are realistic. I often feel that the same “end times” story has been told. This one is new, brilliantly told, and, (dare I say?) optimistic.

What Comes Next by John Katzenbach. 2 out of 5 stars. I liked the protagonist. I liked the idea. I wanted to relax with a “fluff” read. But, this was ultimately a disappointment for me. The plot had some brief unexpected kinks but was predictable nonetheless. Meh.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. 3 out of 5 stars. I have been reading quite a bit of children’s and young adult literature lately. This story was well-told and offered some new fantastical qualities. Evidently, the narrative was drawn based on a selection of old photos that Riggs had found. I find this a fascinating aspect of his story-telling. I appreciate an inspired imagination and I look forward to reading further with Riggs and his peculiars.

Dear Life by Alice Munro. 4 out of 5 stars. I love a short story. In particular, Munro’s “Gravel” and “Amundsen” were favorites. Her stories are somehow stories without much plot. It’s what is left out that makes her stories fascinating. She is casting a reel, not trawling. Much more adeptly too. Furthermore, it’s Canada. Tootally agreeable, eh?

Oh, yeah…
Allegiant by Veronica Roth. 0 out of 5 stars. Dumb, dumb, dumb. That is all.

I am pretty satisfied with where I stand in my Readery Challenges:

I am over halfway through my goal in total hopeful reading at 25 of 40.

However, I have still not touched any of the books in my original stack of hopeful-reads, as seen here. Oops.

I have added another couple “daubs” to my book bingo.

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The Inquisitr list only has a couple remaining entries:
1. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
3. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
4. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
7. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
8. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay by Michael Chabon
9. Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
10. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
11. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
12. A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin
13. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
14. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
15. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Finally, Never Let Me Go counts as one of my five “classics.” Four more to go…

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Happy Campering and (Surprise) Rave: Allendale KOA

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Where have I been? Well, unlike many folks, summer is my busy season. While other parents relish in the relative calm that ensues post-school-sports-dance-etc., I have a toddler. In Michigan. A state coming off its worst winter in my lifetime. Thus, we are outside. All. The. Time.

Playground. Hiking. Beach. Splash pad. Backyard. Front yard. And repeat. It’s exhausting. I actually look forward to rainy days so I can laze on the couch guilt-free. My dad once told me that fresh air was a guaranteed method to wipe-out kids. Lies. My child feeds off the outdoors. Seriously. Her energy level is practically exponential lately: in that it feeds off itself. Literally, she seems to gain battery-power as a result of expending battery-power. She can run circles around me. It’s a very vicious cycle. So, we are outside. More space = more chase, but I’m dwelling on the memory of this past winter and the equally exhausting but still completely different fuel for frustration. Hey, I’ve lost ten pounds in the Duck-marathon, so there’s that.

We not only enjoy daily adventures outside, we are happy campers. Give me a tent, some firewood, some ‘mallows, a percolator, and excessive amounts of beer. We will have fun. I have always preferred a pretty primitive approach to camping: tent and inevitable argument whilst erecting said-tent. (“That’s not where that goes.” “I KNOW WHERE IT GOES!”) Pit-pots/ vault toilets. There’s nothing like the smell of disinfectant and the fear that a black widow spider is going to bite you on the keester. Hand-pumped well water. The coldest, freshest water ever. And, the resulting bicep-tricep muscle soreness. And, finding the elusive balance between pumping up-and-down and being able to release and hold the bucket under the spigot to catch the quickly-waning spray before having to resort to pumping again. Finally, a very flexible approach to bathing, hygiene, and washing of any kind. A quick whore’s bath in the lake or river? Yes, please. Ah, the joys of rustic camping.

Well, until now. Remember when I attested to the fact that I am not spoiled? I lied. My aunt (the bestest, most awesomest, wonderfullest, absolutely fabulousest person ever), gave us her camper. She and my uncle were looking to upgrade and upsize. They found a new camper but rather than selling or trading their old one, generously decided to share it with us, thinking that we might enjoy it; a value more than the monetary one they could reap from the sale. Because we are cool campers. And spoiled rotten. And incredibly grateful.

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Check out that awesome camper, yeah!!!

Turns out: I hate sleeping on the ground in a cold and damp tent with a toddler’s feet in my face. I would much rather be in a bed in an insulated camper with a toddler’s feet in my face. (Even at home, the feet-in-face is non-negotiable). I also like electricity. I am ashamed to admit this. I always “poo-poohed” people and their “luxuries” while camping. How is it camping??? But, it’s nice to have a fan. And lights. And a fridge. And a charger. And properly running water??? A toilet. And a sink. And clean dishes. And hand-washing. And even a hot shower. I draw the line at cable hook-ups and wi-fi, but you get the picture: Bring on the amenities!!

So, we are outside this summer. And, we are enjoying our wonderful gift from my aunt, Baby Grizzly Bear and my uncle, Larr-Bear. (They are some damn great bears). Part of our adventure has been putting our stamp on the new-to-us camper. It is an older model Sunline Travel Trailer. Fortunately, my aunt and uncle have maintained the crap out of it, so it’s in excellent shape. Not requiring any kind of investment in the trailer itself, freed up a bit of a budget to make some personal modifications then. Here are some After pictures of the exterior of the camper, appropriately dubbed: The Den… Get it???

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We spent a couple weeks on our updates before taking The Den on an inaugural camp for Fourth of July weekend. Beer Bear had to work during the day, so we just ended up camping at a KOA site about 20 minutes from Grand Rapids in Allendale. My previous opinion of KOA campgrounds was disagreeable: canned-sardine sites, no tree cover, no quiet, too many features. While some of that remains true, I am not so superior as to overlook the conveniences a campground like this can offer: an on-site camp store, electricity and water taps, a game room, putt-putt golf, showers, a pool, fishing, horseshoes, tetherball, a baseball diamond, ladderball, playgrounds, a dog run, hayrides, even a dunk tank. Many, many activities to busy a toddler. I remain loyal to rustic-camping (in a camper now, of course), but we did use some of the available amenities during our KOA stay. And, I would recommend the Allendale campground, just a short jaunt from downtown GR.

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I look forward to completing some more projects that I have in mind for the den. Ugh, my Pinterest page is inundated. (Once completed, I will update Before and After photos of the interior). We also have another couple nearby camps planned for this summer.

My sister from Spain is also due to arrive in Michigan for the summer soon. We have a waterpark weekend planned. I also have a girls’ trip to NYC planned in a couple weeks. We also have a family vacation planned for DC a little after that. We also have our annual reunion Up North. We also have daily excursions to the local parks, farms, beaches, markets, playgrounds, libraries, etc.

I’m so tired. No wonder bears hibernate through winter. Sheesh.

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