12.26.15 Curtains, bookshelf and layout changes.

Christian and I had been a little divided on what to do regarding our planned toilet room. If you remember in the original layout plans (I'll post the photo below), we had intended to do the toilet room in the center beside the living room seat/couch. However, once we lived in the bus for a while, we began to doubt whether splitting up the space that much would work for us, so we went over our other options.

In the end, we decided to move our filing cabinets and switch their spot with the toilet room after realizing the space they were taking up was the perfect size and location for our future toilet.

We took turns sitting in the space to make sure it was a comfortable size.

We took turns sitting in the space to make sure it was a comfortable size.

One of the other top projects we needed to get done for both function and necessity was curtains. Christian had pulled the insulation off of the windows that we were using as our temporary coverings, so the need became urgent and I was sent to Hobby Lobby to procure supplies.

Christian added two layers of foam insulation to the walls before putting OSB over it for some extra insulation. Now that we had a working heater, we realized how much some simple walls and insulation would help our cause.

Christian added two layers of foam insulation to the walls before putting OSB over it for some extra insulation. Now that we had a working heater, we realized how much some simple walls and insulation would help our cause.

Here's a photo of the filing cabinets moved and the toilet room walls beginning to take shape.

Here's a photo of the filing cabinets moved and the toilet room walls beginning to take shape.

I spent a lot of time (and money, to be honest) at Hobby Lobby after hemming and hawing about what fabrics I wanted to us. We wanted thick insulating curtains, so in addition to choosing a nice patterned duck and the heaviest duty blackout fabric in the store, I also got some thick Thermolam to sew between the layers as insulation.

We had sold through our back stock of trees and weren't getting any more shipments, so we took advantage of the shade of the tent to set up our work space. Christian was working on the walls and then a book shelf while I began to tackle the large sewing project before me.

I did a lot of reading before I ever sewed my first seam.

I did a lot of reading before I ever sewed my first seam.

As a sewing technique, I went with a suggestion from my mom, which was to sew everything inside out like a pillow case and then turn it right side out to do the finished seam on the top. I ended up only doing the two sides like this and then sewing a folded over seam on the top and bottom.

As a sewing technique, I went with a suggestion from my mom, which was to sew everything inside out like a pillow case and then turn it right side out to do the finished seam on the top. I ended up only doing the two sides like this and then sewing a folded over seam on the top and bottom.

It took me all day to conquer just one curtain, but I was proudly making progress while Christian continued work on his bookshelf.

I'm extremely proud of Christian's ingenuity with his bookshelf. He had this idea to build a small shelf beneath the foot of the bed to utilize the space there. Because of wanting to be able to access the garage space when moving the motorbikes in and out, he didn't want it to be permanent. Instead, he built it on wheels and even added a spot for Loulou's litterbox that will be hidden once he puts a face on the shelf.

He also built walls for the toilet room and installed them (sorry, no photos of that…I was too busy wrestling with my sewing machine and way too much fabric).

In addition to moving the filing cabinets out, we also shuffled around the hanging space to accommodate some planned changes to the garage space (more on that later). With the filing cabinets out, it still divides the space, but not nearly as much as a walled room would have, so we're pretty happy with our decision. Honestly, we almost nixed the idea of the toilet room at all, but part of our upgrade to the bus was specifically to include a toilet, so we figured we should make it happen.

After finishing one curtain, I was both exhausted and energized. Most of the curtains would cover two windows, so it was a large amount of very thick heavy duty fabric to be working with for someone as inexperienced as I am. I kept running into issues with the machine along the way, so each curtain seemed to take longer and longer. The curtains for the living space are completely done now (I'll have to get a good photo of them later) and I'm still working on the ones for the front windows and the cab space (the odd shapes and sizes are giving me a run for my money).

They make a world of difference for light and insulation, so we're happy I went with such heavy duty materials.

12.17.15 Drawers, propane, heater and more!

Sorry for the big hiatus!  We were fast at work over on the tree lot. Mostly selling trees, but a little bit working on the bus in our spare moments as well. 

However, as of last Wednesday, we were officially done with the trees, which meant we were able to continue working on the bus until we left San Antonio on Monday. And now that we're settled into our comfy RV resort on the coast of Texas with plentiful wifi, I can start catching up on posting about the work we've accomplished.

Because we've managed to eek out so many projects during our time in Texas, loading it all into one post not only seemed daunting to me, but Christian made the smart observation that anyone reading it might quickly become overwhelmed as well.

So, I'm going to tackle blogging about one project (or, in this case, small group of projects) at a time until we've completely caught up!

 

Drawers/Propane/Heater:

One of the big projects we needed to tackle was finding ways to utilize some of the empty space in the kitchen. There were some spots where there used to be drawers, but they didn't come with the set. Christian set about to make some drawers for that under-counter space to hold our dishes, cookware and pantry. Beneath the oven space we created was also a spot screaming its unused potential, so he decided to make a drawer to hold random household objects and cleaning supplies as well as providing a spot to mount our small propane heater.

I wish I'd taken a better photo of these drawers. When I finally take the time to build a dedicated photo page for our conversion, I'll include one for sure. There are two large deep and heavy duty drawers to hold our cooking ware, dishes and pantry items in the far side of the kitchen.

I wish I'd taken a better photo of these drawers. When I finally take the time to build a dedicated photo page for our conversion, I'll include one for sure. There are two large deep and heavy duty drawers to hold our cooking ware, dishes and pantry items in the far side of the kitchen.

This is the under-oven drawer that will house the heater.

This is the under-oven drawer that will house the heater.

Christian left the propane hookups to me (I'm still not certain why he ever trusted something so dangerous to me). I had to spend half a day driving all the way across San Antonio to a special propane shop to find all the specific connectors we needed to hook up our tank to the oven and heater for dual use.

After running through the order in which I needed to hook everything up no less than three times with the fine gentleman at the propane place. I also made him retell me how to correctly use teflon tape to wrap the connections and then how to test with soapy water for leaks.

The connecting took me a while, because I did find some leaks and had to redo multiple connections or ask Christian to use his brute strength to tighten them a little bit more (tight plus grunt!).

Once we were finally confident that I wasn't about to kill us via propane leaks, we fired up our heater to test it out.

It had gotten particularly cold a few nights in a row (down in the 30s), so we had been driven by the chill to push forward with this project. We were glad we did, as the night we got it all working was a frigid one. It also provided an enormous drying power, which is arguably as nice as the heat.

Loulou was at first skeptical of the odd hissing noises and crackling sounds the heater made as it was warming up, but she quickly realized that it gave off heat and made it her business to stick nearby.

Hooking up the oven was the final leg of the propane project. It meant no more dragging out our single-burner camp stove to heat up food or water. We were excited.

In addition to the hookups, we wanted to make the propane/water storage area more travel friendly. We're fairly certain we will upgrade our water storage at some point (we just took these jerry cans from the Campbulance), but until then, we operate with two 5 gallon cans.

We decided to cut holes in the base of the kitchen to allow the propane and water to nestle into cubbies on the floor and not move while we drive. This meant dragging out the jigsaw and adding a little more sawdust to our already dusty construction-zone of a bus. (I keep telling Christian I want a Dirt Devil for Christmas, but he's not convinced.)

The cubbies work like a charm, giving us the peace of mind that when we drive we won't have a propane tank or water jugs sliding around. (We still haven't decided on a permanent grey water storage system yet…this was also stolen from the Campbulance.)

As always, I've got to include a photo of Loulou enjoying the bus life. Here she is taking advantage of the afternoon sun. (She's well-trained enough that she'll only venture out if we set her stool out for her.)

11.23.15 - Christmas trees and countertops.

We've been adapting easily to living in the bus for a few weeks now. It's pretty awesome, given that for most, moving into a short bus would be downsizing. For us, it's a major upgrade from the Campbulance! We absolutely love it and Loulou seems to really enjoy the extra space to run and play as well.

Loulou loves sniffing the air while soaking up the afternoon sun.

Loulou loves sniffing the air while soaking up the afternoon sun.

When we arrived in San Antonio, we thought we would hit the ground running, but due to a delay in shipment, we waited three days for our first truck full of trees to pull into the lot. Following closely behind (literally…30 minutes later) was our second shipment. So, just like that, we had 170 trees to unload, untie, set up, inventory, price and organize.

Prior to that insanity, Christian worked on getting the tent and decorations all set up, including repainting some of the signs that had fire damage. 

Christian cutting a space for the oven to be installed. The perfect-fit kitchen counter that we got at the Little Rock Restore is slowly, but surely, being edited to fit all our small appliances.

I spent a fair amount of time staining, poly-ing and prepping our kitchen counter to be installed. After my last coat of poly was applied one morning, Christian and I carried it to the edge of the tent to lay on some cardboard to allow it to dry in the sun.

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I headed to the gym for a shower and came back to the bad news of a fire inspector having run over the counter. It was an odd moment of defeat and anger mixed with total confusion about how anyone could be dumb enough to find the one thing laying in a giant parking lot and decide to run over it. (And then apparently try to innocently claim that they thought it was trash…[why would you choose to run over a pile of trash in an entirely empty lot??])  Anyway…it happened, and there's nothing to be done (I might still be a little sore about it though).

It's really hard to see in the photo the cracks, but the whole thing was cracked and ruined. You can see a faint tire mark.

It's really hard to see in the photo the cracks, but the whole thing was cracked and ruined. You can see a faint tire mark.

Our lot mate, Chris (also our friend that got us this job) was kind enough to let us borrow his truck to run out to the closest Home Depot to get a new piece of wood so I could begin the countertop process again.

They didn't have the same type of wood that I'd previously used, so I had to settle for a nice ply. Due to my disheartened state, I didn't document the process of re-staining and cutting the counter to fit the oven. It's now installed and it looks great, so I'll take some photos of that later for you and post them.

And here's a few photos of the trees arriving to the lot!

11.12.15 - Can we go yet? - Day 16.

We are currently anxiously awaiting the arrival of our stove that we ordered weeks ago. Due to a mishap with the order when we placed it, the company never shipped it out, so as we waited while counting down the days, it had never entered transit. Fast forward to when we figured that out and we decided to just cancel the order and find a way to get one once down in San Antonio.

Unfortunately, they didn't cancel the order and instead overnight shipped the oven. It has been out for delivery since 6am and we're now closing in on 5pm. 

We did have a lot of loading and prep to do this morning, so we got all of that done a little more leisurely knowing we had to wait for the package, but now that we're loaded we're ready to hit the road!

We backed the bus up to a sloped hill in the yard to make the loading of the motorbikes easier on us.

Fit like a charm.

Both motorbikes fit absolutely perfectly in the garage space under the bed that we'd planned for them. 

We covered the countertops with rugs and blankets to protect the wood until I get a chance to stain it. The inside felt more and more homey as we slowly, but surely loaded our belongings.

We waited until every bit of our stuff was inside before moving Loulou in. We wanted to give her the chance to roam around and explore her new surroundings before tossing in the loud diesel engine roaring beneath her. (Luckily she's already pretty used to that part because of the Campbulance…)

This will most likely be the last post in the daily series for now as we start our journey south. You can follow us on Instagram to keep up with photos from the road and I'll try to post updates every time we do more work on the interior (we're FAR from done, so stay tuned!).

11.11.15 - Last Day of Work - Day 15.

Today was a stressful day, to say the least. With plans to leave tomorrow, it was the big push to finish any nit-picky projects up and get the bus loaded.

The first step of the day was getting the bed base fitted into the bed frame. It took some sawing and a little hammering, but once it was in, it looked great!

Mindy, the supervisor, always keeping an eye on things.

Mindy, the supervisor, always keeping an eye on things.

We knew rain was coming, so we decided to get a group photo with Willie and Mindy in front of Stubbs since today was our last day in his yard. I doubt he'll ever read this, so I can gush a little bit about Willie. Without him, we simply wouldn't have gotten this project as far along as we have. He offered up his space and that alone was immense, but what we got was so much more. He was constantly digging tools out of his house for us to use when what we had just didn't cut it. He always stepped in to lend a helping hand when we couldn't accomplish something on our own. He was, simply put, a godsend.

The biggest thing on our to-do list was to go to the tax assessor and dmv to register and retitle the bus. Embarrassingly, it slipped both our minds that it was a federal holiday (thank you veterans!), so the offices were closed. No big deal, we'll go in the morning before we leave.

With that chore being put off, we decided to head to Lowes for a piece of wood to make into a temporary countertop for the kitchen. As always, what was intended to be a simple project turned into a hassle. After mulling over the plywood options, we ended up deciding to just go ahead and get the wood I wanted for the final countertop. This meant we needed stain and poly as well as fasteners (we got two 12-in pieces to put together to use as one counter). Once again, we spent way more time in Lowes than intended.

As we were out shopping, the sky opened up and it began to downpour. Christian worked to get the countertop in as the daylight quickly faded into darkness and we both felt our frustrations with having not accomplished much start to float to the surface.

Luckily, the timing seemed to work out slightly in our favor, because when we finally made our way home with the bus to start loading our belongings, the rain was finally starting to let up. After a quick dinner with the family, we began toting our stuff out into the bus with hopes of shoving off earlier than later tomorrow.

Because so much of our storage isn't built yet, it was a challenge finding places for everything. We still have a lot of lumber to use for upcoming projects once we're settled in Texas, so on top of everything else, we have to live with that in our space for a while.

The beginnings of loading our stuff…

The beginnings of loading our stuff…

We worked loading and organizing until nearly midnight and would be fast asleep if I weren't so dead set on keeping my perfect record of documenting every day of this whirlwind conversion.

I don't have any photos of what the interior looks like almost completely loaded up, so I'll take some tomorrow before we shove off.