Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Boys Pirate Bedroom

Liam's big boy room is finally finished and he's so happy with it. I did this room on a tight budget and we're both pretty pleased with how it turned out.

This room wasn't without it's challenges since Liam is not the most focused guy and, truthfully, neither am I.

It took me forever and 6 different paint testers to decide on Sherwin Williams Mountain Air. This color really brightened up the space. In here, it translated to a nice neutral blue grey.

Then there was the bedding dilemma. I went through no less than four bedding changes before I found the one I liked. Hurray for Homesense's return policy.

It's a soft blue with blue and white stripes on one side and the solid blue on the other. It's held up well to two toddlers who love to climb and jump on it day after day. And when we're done with pirates, it will be easy to use as he grows given that it's so neutral.

Once I settled on the bedding, the rest of the room began with this pirate ship canvas that I found at Target in the clearance section and now hangs above the bed.

These decals were in the clearance section as well and both the print and decals were priced at $10.88 each. Score.

We found the red throw blanket at Walmart for $10 which led me to paint some red stripes on his lamp to match. Liam has since broken the lamp base. He's actually broken two! Seriously....Between the time I wrote this and the time I posted it, another lamp base bit the dust. Grrrr...We're on the third lamp in this room. Is it just my guys or are boys really more destructive?

The pirate flag was ordered from Amazon  with the pirate cut outs on the wall. I think they're actually decorations for birthday parties but given how destructive these boys are, I didn't want to make a huge investment. And, they're pretty cute.

Across from the bed is the bookcase I bought before Liam was born. It's followed us to three houses so far. And, yes, that's a television. I had no where else to put when we closed the trailer down last year so he lucked out. No cable, just movies. Until trailer season, that is.

We are so lucky to have such big closets in this house!

I grabbed the pirate ship from Hobby Lobby when accessories were 50% off. Suh-weet!

The small dresser was a Kijiji/Craigslist find. I had great intentions of painting it navy (like pretty much everything else I've painted lately, lol) and adding a white anchor detail on the front but that clearly hasn't happened. Yet.

Liam's big dresser is on the other side of the bed. I bought it before he was born from a local furniture store in the clearance section. It's held up well to two destructive toddlers who like to use the knobs as footholds.

The treasure map is also from Amazon and is a party decoration as well. Given how quickly kids change their minds, I'm thinking this is the way to go when it comes to adding accessories to their rooms.

I added a small basket beside his bed to encourage him to stay in bed in the mornings and play quietly. It's been there for months and he's only just started to notice it and actually stay in bed until a reasonable hour. Like six months. Six freakin' months of me walking him back to his room and telling him to wait until I come and get him. But I digress.

I love that I'm finally finished this room and we were able to do it on a budget. Liam loves that he has a "Pirate Bedroom" and that's what matters the most. And bedtime. I really do love bedtime.

Linking up here and over at Serenity Now, Home Stories A to Z,  Cedarhill Farmhouse, Fluster BusterCoastal CharmFrom My Front Porch to Yours, and Savvy Southern Style.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Trailer Renovations That Will Make You Want To Go Camping

Last week, I shared the story of how we came to buy a camper/trailer the previous summer and exactly why we did that. Mostly, it was to keep the boys from driving me completely crazy in suburbia all summer.

I had a plan for our trailer (now known to us as the Tin Can Cottage) the minute I laid eyes on her. In fact, even before buying her, I had an entire Pinterest Board devoted to Glamping and Vintage Trailers. 

Today, I'm sharing a few of my favorite glamper makeovers that have inspired our own reno. Actually, these trailers may have inspired my entire purchase but I don't really want to confess that just now. I prefer to blame the children.

Feast your eyes, my lovelies......

This little Shasta rocks the vintage vibe.

Shasta Pink

Pink isn't just for the exterior, either ; )

Tin Can Tourists

Ummm.....that toaster oven! And those mugs!...I'm dying.

The Vintage Housewife

Two pics from The Fancy Farmgirl's trailer re-do because I couldn't decide between the exterior or interior. Seriously. We needed to see both.

The Fancy Farmgirl

The Fancy Farmgirl

Another adorable Shasta....the interior this time. So cute!

Vintage Shasta Interior

I think this is my favorite interior EVER! I mean that chandelier is rocking my world.

Rhonna Designs-The Dazey

Shabby chic anyone?

1966 Scotsman

Seriously cute 70's camper with a major facelift.

70s camper

Some yellow and aqua love. I couldn't find a link for the original owner so if you recognize Fannie Mae, let me know.

Source Not Found

How cute are these plastic cups attached to that canopy?

Flutter Before You

Another aqua interior.

Aqua and Red Cuteness

And just to show that makeovers aren't limited to trailer campers, check out this adorable pop up!

Pop up camper

I guess I'm not the only one who hated that whole wood veneer thing. Inspired to give camping a try, yet?

Linking up here and over at Serenity Now, Home Stories A to Z,  Cedarhill FarmhouseCoastal CharmFrom My Front Porch to Yours, Fluster Buster and Savvy Southern Style.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Trailer Camping

Last summer I bought a camper trailer. Best decision EVER! Here's how it happened.

It actually started with thinking that I need to get the boys out of the city. Ok. The suburbs. Because we live in a small town and a new subdivision. And I felt like if I had one more weekend like every weekend up until then (where all they did was wander around in the yard screaming and crying and hitting each other) I would seriously lose my mind. And child protective services would be stopping by.


Really. I did it to save lives.

Now just to clarify that this wasn't completely random, we camped when I was a kid and I had cousins who had trailers. My parents were meanies and wouldn't buy us a camper because they wanted us to "have more options" for vacations....blah, blah, blah. I don't recall us doing a lot of those options but I don't want to be judgy.

And I took my older children camping when they were younger (when I was also younger). But I'm too old for tents and such so I began the search for a trailer.

Over the next 3 days, I looked at 5 different trailers in some seriously expensive trailer parks. Did I mention I had a really small budget? Right. I always have a really small budget. That's why I write this blog.

And then I texted Handyman Tom (who is also my friend) and told him I think I wanted to buy a trailer. That was on Tuesday. Handyman Tom actually has a trailer. In a park that I can afford. After he and his wife had us come visit them and show us around I knew I wanted to be in that park. And in true Handyman/Wheeler-Dealer fashion, he found me this beauty. Like a day later. The guy has more connections than the Atlanta airport.

My max budget was $6000 and I got this baby for $5000. Crazy!!

I bought it on the spot on Wednesday and by Saturday we had set up camp. My friends pretty much thought I'd lost my mind and made some kind of crazy impulse decision.

I'd like to tell you all about setting up a camper in a trailer park but I can't because Tom did all of it and it was pretty much move in ready when I showed up on Friday to put stuff inside. There was some levelling and water hook ups, and propane, and sewer hook up (ewww!) and other stuff going on while I made the beds and moved in. It looked like hard work and I was beyond grateful for the help. I mostly just bought groceries, cleaned, and put things away. I'm awesome at shopping.

Apologies for the pictures but they were snapped with my iPhone while I tried to keep the boys safe and from falling off and out of things. Like backwards out of the trailer door. That actually happened.

The blurry living room is across from the entrance. Don't worry. It's only blurry in the picture. And if the boys wake me up really early.

The kitchen and dinette are to the left of the door when you enter. There are bunks past the dinette and a small, but full bathroom right at the back. There's also a decent sized closet across from the bunks.

The dinette....

My bedroom is to the right of the front door and is its own separate room. (Yay!)

I don't mean to be all Captain Obvious but did you notice the "wood"? Or that it's brown? Really, really brown. Like every where. Who designs these things? Seriously. Why are they always brown and panelled?

Wouldn't it be nice to find a girl friendly type trailer just once? Cute would be great but I'd settle for bright and not looking like a panelled recroom from the 1970s.

You have to know where this is going right? .......You got it! I'm renovating the trailer. No one should have to camp like this. It's inhumane.

Trailer season ended for us last October (Canadian This weekend we're opening it up and getting ready to start another camping season. Yay!!!

And, of course, I started a Pinterest Camping/Glamping Board to generate some inspiration because I don't think my other 50 boards were really enough. Follow along and check back in regularly as we ditch the panelling and glam up our tin can cottage.

Linking up here and over at Serenity Now, Home Stories A to Z,  Cedarhill FarmhouseCoastal CharmFrom My Front Porch to Yours, and Savvy Southern Style.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Use What You Have- Slow Cooker Pork Chops

I have never been terribly successful with pork chops either on the grill or in the slow cooker. Which is why I was surprised to find some in the freezer when I was considering a recipe for our Use What You Have series. I don't even remember buying pork chops but I must have been feeling optimistic that day.

With my pork chops defrosting in the fridge, I hit up Pinterest for some ideas to use what I had and to try a recipe that didn't make the meat either disintegrate or require a saw to cut through. When I saw this recipe by Jen at Cincy Shopper, I knew I had to give it a shot. 

Once again, I was only using what we had on hand. Which in this case was the mysterious pork chops, chicken broth in the fridge that needed to be used up and a variety of spices, all of which I had. Because I have an entire shelf full of spices. It's ridiculous really.

Once I had the ingredients ready, I went looking for my slow cooker. The external cooker was there but the pot was missing. Found something fermenting in the dish in the second fridge. Yes. I have two refrigerators. Because I'm a food hoarder. Which is why we have this series and all.

I wanted to say I began with pan searing the meat but I really began with washing and disinfecting the slow cooker dish.

Then, I really did pan sear the meat.

Once the meat had been seared and added to the slow cooker, I whipped up the sauce.

I poured the sauce over the meat and cooked everything on high for four hours. After heading out to run errands and get the van serviced, I picked up the Littles from daycare. The house smelled amazing when we came home and I could hardly wait to eat.

I poured the liquid into a sauce pan and made a gravy out of the juices with some water and cornstarch.

The boys had their pork chops and gravy over rice with some raw carrots and I had mine with a tossed salad (I was being virtuous that day).

This dinner was a huge hit for all of us! Don't mind Aiden's face...that's his "happy face". I know, right? We're working on it. And don't mind the blur. I think it's well established that I can't manage to capture any nice pictures of the boys. I don't know if it's because they never sit still or I'm completely inept but this is as good as it gets.

Would I make this again? You bet I would!

Fear of pork chops has been conquered.

Jen's original recipe is found here.

Linking up here and over at Serenity Now, Home Stories A to Z,  Cedarhill FarmhouseCoastal CharmJennifer RizzoBlackberry VineFrom My Front Porch to YoursSavvy Southern Style, and Salt Tree. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Travelling Alone with Toddlers

Last year my oldest daughter and I took the boys on a road trip from Southern Ontario to Panama City Beach in Florida. It went really well. Amazingly well, actually. You can read all about that adventure here.

A lot has happened since our trip last May. Both boys have been diagnosed with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). A sad and completely preventable form of permanent brain damage. That, however, is a story for another day.

The littles are now 2 1/2 and 3 1/2.

So when I had some unexpected time off of work and decided to use up the last couple of weeks by heading back down to Florida. Alone. With two toddlers. I was clearly feeling very confident that day.

Did I mention I booked this trip with less than two weeks until we hit the road? I'm spontaneous like that. To deal with managing two toddlers on a road trip all alone, I prepped a variety of snacks and activities in advance.

First, I re-introduced the dual DVD player that I used last year.

Best buy

I put it away at the end of the road trip last year and only brought it back out on the day we left. Can't say I'm thrilled to listen to children's movies for hours at a time but the boys really enjoy this and are generally quiet while a movie's on.

Secondly, I re-used last years second hand wood trays for snacks and activities. This time they actually used them. I attached them to the seats with bungee cords and they held nicely while we drove. This gave them a space to put meals and snacks and was easy to unfasten to get the boys in and out of the car at rest stops. Yes. Liam colored on his last year.

I also prepared a number of different activities and separated them out before storing them in a large grocery bin in the middle of the van. There was a bag with cars, a mini-back pack with little people, a pile of dollar store toys, and some drawing and coloring activities. I snapped this pic with my iphone so it's a bit blurry.

The bin fit nicely in the back seat of the van without rolling around which made it easy to grab activities when they needed a change.

The boys favorite, by far, was the sticker activity books I put together in a dollar store handled bin. I don't know why I didn't take a better picture so this is the best I've got.

They literally played with these most of the drive from Ontario to Alabama. Before heading off to Florida, I tucked them away and didn't give them back until vacation was over and we were driving north. This kept them from being bored. By the time we crossed the border, Liam was covered in stickers. Border crossing dude was highly amused.

I also made a mini snack box out of dollar store bead storage boxes. Like the sticker boxes, I added the boys names to the top just for fun. This was a huge hit! So much wow, that I re-loaded them every couple of days for taking to the beach. We avoided a lot of tiki-bar snacks at the condo by bringing our own things.

I put together a bunch of other snacks and juice boxes in a shower caddy. This kept us from buying a lot of unhealthy junk at the gas stations and lasted throughout the trip.

Once we got to Florida, I brought most of the toys inside however, the boys mostly like to run around doing fun things with socks on their hands.

We had a fantastic time at the beach. The boys much prefer the pool which was fine by me since it was the last week of spring break and all in Panama City Beach.

Nuts, right? We were in Florida for two weeks, by the second week all the college kids had gone home and the beach was ours again.

The boys are finally able to eat in restaurants so we enjoyed a lot local seafood. Lunches were better for us because by dinner time, the littles were pretty much falling apart and tired from swimming all day.

These pictures are from Hunt's over in St. Andrew's Bay. A great local place with amazing seafood and very affordable.

I learned a whole lot about FASD on this trip that I didn't fully understand before. Like the fact that we can only do one major thing a day. After the lunch at Hunt's, I tried to swing by the Winn-Dixie. It was a nightmare. Liam was wild and completely out of control at the store and in the condo for the rest of the day. As much as I wanted to do a variety of activities, we just didn't. I needed to learn to respect the boys needs and abilities. And that was just fine.

This trip was amazing, not just because it's the Gulf Coast and we spent Easter in Alabama with our family but because I finally conquered my fear of travelling alone with the boys as a single parent. I really didn't think I could do alone and I'm glad to report that we've got this.

My only other piece of advice is to break up the trip in manageable chunks. We left at 3pm from daycare and made it to Ohio (5 1/2 hours). From there we made it to Helena, Alabama the next day (around 8 hours). And then headed to Florida the following morning (5 hours). It's along few days but was so worth it.

Yes, the sand really is that white on the Emerald Coast.

Do you have any tips or tricks for travelling long distances with young children? I'm always up for more me or leave a comment.

Happy travels ; )

Sharing here and over at Serenity Now, Home Stories A to Z,  Cedarhill FarmhouseCoastal Charm,  From My Front Porch to Yours,  Finding Silver Pennies, and  Savvy Southern Style.