March Update 2018

It’s April!!! That means that we are getting so close to gardening season! March seemed like a blur, but I am always ready for it to pass by and warm weather to appear! So, he’s how the goals are going:

1. Expand the garden– it’s finally happening!! The garden has t posts around the perimeter and we fixed up the old screen door to make it rabbit proof!

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View from the bottom up

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View from the top 

2. Fix the camper– We have been fixing up our home away from home! The seats are recovered, shower storage door fixed, curtains all made and vent cover for the top!

3.Travel out west- That camper is pretty much ready for adventure! Before making  the big trip, we have to take it on a trial run! The trial run is going to happen this month!

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat- There’s a grass patch in front of the garage that is begging to be returned to nature. The pathways have been created. We made our own birdbath from a log and pan. We put up the hanging basket hooks and the insect hotel is finished!

5. Reduce garbage– Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. We have still only created one bag of garbage! But, I’m planning on doing a trash pickup everyday I can make it outside this month. So, that may increase our trash.

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Still only 1 bag of trash! 

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- This month I spread some good! I try my best to stay positive and share t too! I bought my bff teacher an awesome “teacher of the year” shirt because she was just named that! And I picked up another teacher friend a gift to remind her of how strong she is! But, my biggest good deed was shoveling our school playground so that the kids could go out to play the next day! This is about 2 hours if work!

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It was a lot of snow! 

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair- At school we are reusing some juice cups for growing some plants that they want to grow! The Mr. turned a railroad spike into a new shovel for me. The pollinator hotel is finished and it is 100% upcycled! And the Mr. is turning some spoons into garden markers for me!

8. Paw Paw trees– These native trees have grown near here for such a long time! The  seeds were planted last month! I put some seeds outside and marks where I put them and put the rest inside. So far, nothing to show yet.

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All the seeds are planted! 

9. Build a pizza oven– this is the Mr.’s idea! He built his own Blacksmithing forge, so I’m sure he can do it! I’m definitely looking forward to having a delicious, out of the oven pizza! No real updates yet

10. Grow different produce–  
I will be starting a lot of different seeds this month! So far I have 5 varieties of sweet peppers. I also bought a hardy kiwi plant and I’m hoping to get that growing!

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We’re growing red, green, orange, purple and brown peppers this year! 

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- this month we created almost an identical amount of power as last year!

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1.18 mwh! 

12. Work on garden cart sales– We will be doing some upcoming craft shows this month! I’m hoping to have some extra seedlings to share, along with my lip balm and the Mr.’s blacksmithed items!

Last month rejuvenated my love of growing anything and everything!! Did you set any goals?! We are hoping to have checks next to them all at the end of the year! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

Blacksmithing and sewing weekend

Happy kids! Before I get to the weekend, I wanted to share that all of the students at the school that I teach at were so happy that I shoveled out the playground. Their thanks were the sweetest!

Onward to the weekend, the Mr. was on a little Blacksmithing kick. He made my Dad this hook for hanging whatever he hangs in his new garage.

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Railroad spike hook

Then he made me this little gardening trowel with inch markings on it. This is going to help me when I finally get to plant my onion sets!

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Gardening trowel

And I spent the weekend not doing a whole lot. But, I did get around to making a few hooded towels that will be Easter gifts and I need to finish hemming some curtains for someone else!

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I really like this hooded towels! 

We took the ruined bathroom cabinet door (someone allowed it to get water damaged!) from the camper off to my Dad to see if he could fix it on Monday. Since it was pressed wood, he used scraps that he already had (he does a lot of woodworking) and made us a new door by the next day! And it fits perfectly!

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He’s pretty amazing! 

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A perfect fit! 

So, I’m not sure that I have ever said this before, but I am so lucky to have talented people in my life! My Mr. is handy and blacksmiths, my brother is a whiz at electrical and making everything magically work and then there’s my Dad. He claims that when you are poor enough, you can teach yourself how to fix anything. And when we were kids, I remember him putting in a million boilers, fixing everything on his truck, working on engines, doing electrical, running parts to him on a coal mine to fix his own truck after working on bulldozers all day (darn u joints), laying tile, pretty much you name it! I’m blessed to have all of these people in my life. (And in case my mom reads this, that lady is who taught me how to sew, cook and I’m still trying to learn how to be as calm as her!)

So, hopefully you all have some talented people in your life! If not, skills are learned slowly over time! So, start learning!!

Pollinator garden update!

We had a nice load of wood chips dropped off here at by a tree trimming service that was working in town!

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That’s a lot of mulch! 

I finished up the pollinator hotel this week and the Mr. was able to put it in a great location with lots of sun!

I mostly spent my time putting down weed paper and making walkways! I’m pretty sure that my neighbors think that I have lost my mind at this point!

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Walkway to the right and another flower bed to the left 

It’s not a huge place, but the pollinators and I am going to love it!

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Top view! 

I’m going to plant some sunflowers along the fence! Hopefully they grow ok! And, I’m going to put some nasturtiums in those hanging baskets.

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Woodchips spread and the chickens are behind that door! 

And those hooks were hand crafted by my favorite blacksmith! They are still beautiful!

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I love the shadow it casts! 

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I love the simplicity of this one! 

And here’s the upcycled birdbath that the Mr. put together!

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I’m hoping the birds like it! 

I still need to get a lot more compost and hope that the seeds that I started will come up! This is going to be a mix of mostly native plants, but also other non-native varieties. There will not be any invasive species! Just trying to give the birds, bees and butterflies a nice pollen and nectar source! And, I’m hoping to eventually have a certified wildlife habitat!

No Spend February

We made 3. major achievements this month! 1. We paid off the truck!

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No more truck payments! 

So, we are officially vehicle payment free! Of course last month, instead of putting more money towards the house or the solar panels, I needed new tires for my car. They were leaking air constantly and not safe, so that’s definitely a must!

2. On the awesome list is that made another $10K leap on the house! You know, when you look at how much you owe and it is no longer in the $80K’s (for example) and now in the $70k’s!! That’s exciting! That will definitely feel good to get paid off eventually!

3. The Mr. has been doing a great job of packing his lunch! For pretty much ever, he has been a “pick up a snack while working” kind of guy. But after I showed him a quick write up of how much that really costs per year, he changed that habit!

For Valentine’s Day I actually had parent-teacher conference day until almost 6pm. So, it was easy to not go out to eat! But, we enjoyed out weekend and my parents even took our boy for a night. It was very quiet around here without him! 😳

My Mr. made me a beautiful pollinator garden for the special occasion out of upcycled wood. We just need to get the bamboo to fill it, but we have a free source for that! It is quite an invasive plant!

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Pollinator hotel! 

We were able to make a few bucks this week too! The dead hive provided us with some honey to sell. We will use that to help buy us another colony! Bees are not easy to keep! (Or cheap!)

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Honey! 

And soon I will have a surplus of eggs to rehome!

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Delicious eggs! 

Also, the Mr. blacksmithed some beautiful mantel brackets for a beam of barn wood for a customer! They turned out beautiful!

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In the garage! 

And now, in their new home!! They loved them just as much as we did!

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And the fireplace looks beautiful! 

Our electric bill came, and I was expecting a nice bill because February was pretty cold, but to our surprise it was $0!!

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Yippee!! 

And to save a lot of money, I start my garden from seeds. Getting plants from the nursery is pricy, and you can only get certain varieties, so I save my seeds and use the heirloom varieties yearly! And this year, I got involved in a seed swap to get different varieties! (I did have to pay shipping)

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So many different flowers, beans and veggies that I can’t wait to plant! 

It was not a perfect month because we still needed to buy items for the camper, and we started picking up some candy for the boy’s Easter basket. Oh, and we got Chinese out one time, but used the money from our crafting and not the bank. So, we haven’t been perfect, but it’s nice to be able to create a growing savings account and work on our debt snowball!

So, have you been working on spending less?!

Spinning honey and melting beeswax

Last weekend we spent a lot of time harvesting the honey from the hives that didn’t make it through the winter. It’s sad, but needed done.

It’s still so amazing how perfect those frames of honey are!

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Full deep frame of honey

We then use a knife to uncap all of the honey and put the frames in the spinner. We spin the fronts of the frames until cleaned out and then the backs. We have the boy spin the frames because that kid has way too much energy!

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Spinning away! 

Then, we pour the honey from the spinner into the double screened filter. This honey was super thick, so it took a long time to filter! The light spring honey flies through the filters!

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Filtering out the honey

After we allow it to settle in the bucket for a bit, we pour all of the honey into clean and sterilized jars.

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A nice honey harvest! 

And now for the beeswax cappings that we cut off of the frames. There’s still honey on them, so I clean them out really well by putting them in a thin muslin and run water through it until it runs dead. I leave them on the towel and let them dry out.

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The dry beeswax cappings

Then, I make a double boiler with water in the pot underneath and the cappings in the top pot. It takes a little while for it all to melt and it doesn’t exactly look like beeswax,

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Before melting (I think it looks like burger!) 

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During melting

This batch was pretty messy, but it doesn’t matter too much. I filter it through a nylon filter and pour it into a mold. (I just used an old creamer container!)

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We harvested about 8.5 ounces

If you need it filtered again, have at it! But, the Mr. is probably going to use this batch for Blacksmithing!

We definitely were weekend homesteading today! Keep blooming away friends!

Camper Update!

My Mr. has been working feverishly on the camper to get it ready for a trial run this Spring!

Do you remember that original sticky note with what seemed like an endless list of tasks that needed completed? Well look at it now:

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Such a hard worker! 

The hot water heater looked like it had seen better days and not cared for properly! But look at that before and after:

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New hot water heater! 

He even decided to blacksmith a nice rack of hooks that is right by the bed. Maybe that will help us to not lose so much!

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Hand crafted hooks! 

The table was an idea of his. This is where you take out the table and put down the other bed. The problem is where would you put the table when the bed is in use?! So, he made it adjustable and it slides down now so that the bed can be put right over it! Such a great idea!

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Changed up the table! 

Next up was what really impressed me! The converter was shot, as in it didn’t power anything anymore! My husband watched countless YouTube videos, questioned both my Dad and brother (both ridiculously handy!) and he was able to rewire it himself! It works perfectly now!

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An expensive and tedious power converter redo! 

I have been slightly helpful as well! The curtains were not in awesome shape and needed some new life sewn into them! So, I got clearance fabric and did just that!

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Before

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After

Next up for me is to make some slip covers for these!

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Slipcovers will be made next! 

Let me just end this by saying that I really appreciate how much time that my Mr. has dedicated to this project! I believe he is just as excited as the boy and myself to travel out west!

And now a question for you all! Where is a good place to visit for a weekend to camp in around western PA, WV or even Virginia? We need to find a place to try out this beast! Thanks all in advance!

Who we are!

Hello all! We have had a nice influx of new people to our little blog since Mavis over at onehundreddollarsamonth.com featured my husband’s Blacksmithing hobby!

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I really appreciated my Mr. being chosen! 

1. So obviously, my husband is a backyard blacksmith! He’s pretty awesome and makes all kinds of metal creations, including my favorite dinner bells!

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He even did the brickwork on his forge 

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Dinnerbell in the works! 

2. We try to grow as much food as we can and preserve our over abundance!

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Our main garden. 

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We ❤️ Tomatoes

3. I am a beekeeper! I love having them to help pollinate everything, and also the delicious honey and wax for crafting!

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Baby bees!

4. I also love growing lots of flowers to keep the pollinators happy, and have plans to grow a much larger patch of pollinator friendly plants this summer!

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Our state flower: black eyed susans!!

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My favorite flower: echinacea! 

5. We keep chickens to give us lots of delicious eggs and they help us create less trash by eating leftovers!

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Our ladies enjoying some leftovers! 

6. I’m the eco warrior at the school I teach at. I teach my sweet 3rd graders about caring for our precious Earth and do the recycling for our building! Someone has to do it!

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Recycling for the staff! 

7. I love crocheting and craft everything from toboggans to washcloths to sell at local craft shows!

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Crocheting! 

8/9. I love both sewing and upcycling whatever is headed towards the trash into something useful!

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Upcycling and sewing! 

10. We try not to produce an over abundance of garbage and strive to be zerowaste!

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Less waste! 

11. We have been tracking our solar panels and how they are working out for the past year!

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We are on year 2 of having our solar panels! 

12. We try to eat at home and cook all of our own food! It helps to save money and I know what’s in my food!

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My cinnamon rolls

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My pizza! (Don’t worry, I make lots of healthier food too!) 

So these are a few things that we have going on here on our less than an acre in a small town! We really appreciate anyone taking time to read about our tiny homestead happenings!

January Update 2018 Goals

Welcome to February everyone!! January was a whirlwind of crazy cold temperatures, lots of working on the camper and seed organizing! And, of course, we have been working on those goals that we set!

1. Expand the garden– Not too much to talk about so far with the garden. We did measure it off for planning the layout!

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Garden planning!

2. Fix the camper– The Mr. has been out in the garage most nights working on it! He has starting recaulking all of it, installed a new hot water tank, blacksmithed a hook rack for a cabinet, fixed the table so that it’s easy to lower and raise and started to replace the converter. I was able to get some fabric on extreme clearance and I have all of the cushions pulled out!

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That old hot water tank definitely needed replaced! 

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Such pretty hooks! 

3.Travel out west– That camper is going to be making some trips this year! Our boy is 13 and I want him to see more than I have.
 *If you all have suggestions on what to see and do for around the Great Lakes, through Yellowstone, let us know! *

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat– There’s a grass patch in front of the garage that is begging to be returned to nature. So, that’s what the plan is! The Mr. Put the bat box together and I have seeds all picked out!

 

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Of course the bat box needs a Batman symbol! 

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My basic idea so far! 

5. Reduce garbage– Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags. So far we have not filled one, and I’m going to try bokashi composting for meat leftovers and molded food.

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I’m attempting to make my own bokashi sawdust. 

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month– I just blogged about what we were able to do last month! We started a local free trade Facebook page and sold lipbalm to raise money for the local shelter. We were able to donate lots of food!

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Our homemade beeswax lipbalm! 

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Our contribution to the shelter!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend or reuse– My husband repurposed a satellite dish bracket into a flag holder!

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Yeah, he’s pretty awesome! 


8. Paw Paw trees– These native trees have grown near here for such a long time! I can’t wait to give it a try to grow them this year, and eventually (maybe) eat one!! The seeds will be finished stratifying in the fridge at the end of the month!

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Stratification is still happening!



9. Build a pizza oven– this is the Mr.’s idea! He built his own Blacksmithing forge, so I’m sure he can do it! I’m definitely looking forward to having a delicious, out of the oven pizza!

 He starting clearing the area where it will be built!

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I can’t wait to use my yummy dough recipe in his pizza oven! 

10. Grow different produce– I was able to pick up a majority of the seeds that I wanted online. I will have quite an assortment of gourds, slicing tomatoes, melons and a few of my favorites from last year!

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So stinking exciting! 

 

11. Continue tracking the solar panels– It was so incredibly cold out, but our electric bill was still less than $6. We are living off of the summer surplus still!

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What a difference from last year! (It wasn’t hooked up until the middle of the month 2017!) 

12. Work on garden cart sales– We are hoping to do some upcoming craft shows, but we won’t have any produce for sale for quite a while!

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Out pretty garden cart! 

Did you set any goals?! We are hoping to have checks next to them all at the end of the year! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

Baking/cooking and not spending $

This weekend is a continuation of below freezing weather. I’m really missing those warm summer days and growing my own food! However, I have been enjoying making soup with the tomatoes that I preserved and eating my own pickles, catsup, garlic and green beans!

I have been making most of our meals from scratch, and made some awesome cinnamon rolls earlier in the week and then a pizza that was perfection today!

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Cinnamon rolls! 

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Best pizza I have ever made! 

To keep busy, I have been crocheting lots of messy bun hats!

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Crocheting away! 

I also made this matching set for an adorable little girl and her beautiful momma!

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I love the way they turned out! 

While I have been crafting, the mister has been out pounding on the anvil! This is a bottle opener for a friend out of a railroad spike!

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Bottle opener! 

And the only extras that we have purchased so far: a McFlurry for my birthday boy and another for a neighbor that shares his day!

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McFlurry x2

And we also bought the boy an ice cream cake for his day! It was a great deal at 1/2 off because it was a Christmas cake! I added some extra frosting, some sprinkles and put the 13 on it. No one knew it was a Christmas one!

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Happy birthday to my big teenager! 

And I will continue to sit around and enjoy my footed pajama pants (feejays) and dream about warmer weather!

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Love these pants! 

Is it so stinking cold where you live?! Stay warm friends!

 

Let’s show you the camper!

Two goals for the year all depend on us fixing up an old truck bed camper. We chose this camper because we don’t have to pay to have tags on it, we got a great deal on it, the three of us can fit nicely in it and it really doesn’t need a ton of work! Oh, and did I mention how much money we will save by not staying in expensive hotels!!

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It’s safely tucked into the garage for the winter!

The Mr. has managed to already start plugging away at fixing the legs (a previous owner just about ripped them off!) He also patched the holes in the canvas too! (He’s kind of amazing!) However, there’s plenty more to be done!

The toilet/shower: we need to put in storage and get a new shower curtain. The Mr. also will be fixing a leak from the water hose

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Tiny bathroom

This is a straight view from the door! The table is up on the bed because a certain child enjoys hanging out in here!

The flooring and cabinets are in great shape, so I won’t be changing them! But, I will show you that interesting fabric up close!

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View from the door

The loft/bed area just needs some sprucing up! We plan on buying a cozy comforter set, changing the curtains, and adding more lighting!

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The bed/loft area

This is the dining/second bed area. When you put the cushion down, it creates an extra sleeping space. When it’s up, the table slides in the middle. We are looking at making the table area easier to take out/put in. And that fabric will be changed up! It has seen better days and is not comfy!

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Dining area/second bed

The tiny kitchen area is pretty great as is! We might put in a new faucet, if it needs it. We also need to figure out storage for reusable cups, plates and silverware! We don’t want to create a lot of trash on our trip!

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Tiny kitchen

And then there’s the list! I’m in charge of recovering cushions, making new curtains, adding organizational touches. And the Mr… well, he has a lot of not so fun jobs that I’ll be helping with too!

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Quite a list! 

So, now on to what we have already completed: we managed to find a cheap comforter set that’s not girly. 😆

The Mr. forged a nice handle to put on the broken cabinet! It will also be a towel hanger for dishes, or whatnot!

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Beautiful towel hanger! 

So, we are going to keep working away at creating a nice space for future vacations! And, we are hoping to use this during Easter break to try it out!! Keep blooming friends!