Am I a Funny Girl?

Kicking off holiday magic with Northpole by Hallmark

cbias disclosure#NorthpoleFun #CollectiveBias
Kids on Couch - #NorthpoleFun #Shop

I love this time of year. Even though I grew up without a lot of family nearby (it was just the four of us) I’ve always loved the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Once my sister and I had kids, our family gatherings got exponentially crazier, and I love them that much more… we have lots of family traditions, bu we’re always looking for new ways to make memories together as a family. The new Northpole by Hallmark line gave me just the excuse to have a little holiday kick-off fun with Max and my nieces, to get us all into the holiday state of mind.

I’d been hearing about the Hallmark movie and product line for a while, but hadn’t seen it in person until I went to Walmart recently; the entire range is completely adorable. I picked up a copy of the “Once Upon a Northpole Christmas” book, two “Find Me Santa snowflakes” (one for us, one for the girls) and a fun little beanbag toss game where you’re throwing gifts into a chimney.

Northpole Instore Walmart - #NorthpoleFun #ShopI was overwhelmed by the cuteness of it all, and will be back when I’m in gift wrapping mode; their papers are fantastic and just my style. They even have greeting cards and home decor, all tied into the Northpole theme.

Book cover closeup - #NorthpoleFun #ShopWhile Max and Faith read out loud to the little ones, I assembled the Rooftop Drop game so we could play it together. It’s cute, and even Lydia managed to score a couple of points! For little ones, I love that they still get “points” for landing on the roof, not just in the chimney itself. I feel like it’s a little less frustrating that way!

Lydie Gift Toss Game - #NorthpoleFun #ShopMax Gift Toss Game - #NorthpoleFun #ShopEveryone took at turn at the game, and I’m sure it’ll end up being played at all of our holiday gatherings this year. The Northpole line a has several games like this to choose from; it could be fun to do a whole game night with all holiday-themed games!

The last thing we did was give the kids their “Find Me Santa snowflake” ornaments. I *love* Christmas ornaments, and we end up buying a couple for Max every year. This one is cool! On Christmas Eve, at bedtime, have your child press the button to light it up. It will remain lit for four hours, giving Santa lots of time to find them while they snooze. It’s a substantial size, and feels really well made, so I look forward to it being on our tree for a long time to come.

The snowflake includes a sticker to write the child’s name on and put it on the snowflake, so that Santa is sure to know where he is. (Side note: I’m actually going to have Max write his own name on his, because I am constantly trying to get him to write on things I can keep, his handwriting changes so quickly these days, as he gets better and better at it!)

And of course, we immediately ran into the closet so we could test out the glowing-ness of the glow!

A video posted by Lizz Porter (@lizz_porter) on

Magic Snowflake 1 - #NorthpoleFun #Shop

Hallmark has done a great job with putting the Northpole line together; this video gives you a little tour of the town:

Our little Saturday afternoon Northpole playdate was a great way for us to get into the holiday spirit; I was even motivated to go home and do a little Christmas shopping that afternoon! And I already know I’m going back to Walmart to pick up some of the Northpole wrapping supplies.

What is your family’s favorite part of the holiday season kicking off?

Homebuilt Teardrop Trailer 6: Exterior Wood Skin & Sealant

Part-6-Homebuilt-Teardrop-Trailer-Build-JournalThis post is part of a series documenting our homebuilt teardrop trailer. Please scroll to the bottom of this post for links to previous articles.

The discussion about how to finish the outside of the trailer was a thing” for a while… basically, what it came down to was this: Wood = Less money up front, but more maintenance long term. Aluminum = More money now, but next to no maintenance for years and years.

We decided to make the investment now and make it easier down the road.

I was shocked at how quickly this part all happened; it was basically one weekend.

We bought 1/8″ marine plywood, to help with the long term-ness of the skin. (Again, more money up front, but less in the long run. The 4′x8′ sheets were about $40 each; non-marine of similar material would be closer to $10. Your prices may vary)

07 teardrop trailer wood skin sealant

The exterior skinning was pretty straightforward; flat is easy.

Skinning around the curve of the front presented a different set of challenges, but it was nothing that some straps and heavy duty glue couldn’t help!

06 teardrop trailer wood skin straps

05 teardrop trailer wood skin curve

04 teardrop trailer wood skin curve straps

03 teardrop trailer wood skin curve

02 teardrop trailer wood skin curve

Once it was set for a bit, Jamie trimmed off the excess, and voila! The shape was done.

A few coats of spar varnish for added protection against the elements, and then its ready for final aluminum skin!

08 teardrop trailer wood skin sealant

Next post: Hatch Construction

Previous posts: Planning & Framing | Walls & Interior Skin | Galley Counter & Flooring | Insulation | Interior Ceiling & Fan
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Homebuilt Teardrop Trailer 5: Interior Ceiling & Fan

Part-5-Homebuilt-Teardrop-Trailer-Build-JournalThis is post number 5 in a series about our homebuilt teardrop trailer. Please scroll to the bottom of this post for links to previous posts.

Once Jamie started talking about paint colors, I started to get a better feeling about the size of the trailer. I had been able to better visualize the finished product once we had walls up, but when he started fitting the ceiling is where I started to get really excited about the whole project. (Finally!)

The ceiling, which curves around to become the front wall/headboard, is 1/8″ 5′x’5′ birch plywood. We didn’t get prefinished for this part, because we knew we wanted to paint it, as a chance to bring in some color to the design.

I chose a pretty sky blue for it, neutral enough to go with lots of things, but also with a nod to the teal and turquoise that was so popular during the 1950s of our inspiration.

01 teardrop trailer fitting roof

04 teardrop trailer ceiling

The ceiling is 5′x5′ plywood, which put a seam partway up, near the top of the curve. (You can see it in the center of the photo below) Rather than try to hide it with spackle or anything, we trimmed it with a piece of contrasting wood; it’s a scrap of cherry Jamie had lying around, and it’s the same material he had to trim around the ceiling fan as well.06 teardrop trailer ceiling

The ventilation fan is important for a number of reasons; for me, number one is that these two dudes I love so very much can get a little *ahem* ripe. But also, once the doors are installed, the trailer is airtight, and we could easily run out of air and that’s no good. We chose one that would allow us to have good air circulation, and that was highly rated when we looked on Amazon. It may be overkill considering the size of the trailer, but air circulation is something I’d rather have too much of than not enough!03 teardrop trailer ceiling

02 teardrop trailer fitting ceiling fan

Next post: Exterior Skin & Wood Sealant

Previous posts: Planning & Framing | Walls & Interior Skin | Galley Counter & Flooring | Insulation
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Homebuilt Teardrop Trailer 4: Insulation

Part-4-Homebuilt-Teardrop-Trailer-Build-JournalThis is part four in a series documenting our homebuilt teardrop trailer. Scroll to the bottom for links to previous posts.

Insulating the trailer wasn’t 100% “necessary” but was definitely something we wanted to do; after years of tent camping and waking up slightly damp, afraid to touch the walls, this was something we wanted to avoid if we could, so we decided to insulate.

Using sheets of 3/4″ styrofoam that was cut and sanded to fit, all of the exterior-facing walls are insulated for warmth and cool, and to prevent condensation. We did *not* insulate the floor; we have an 8″ mattress in there, which is more than enough insulation against the chill.

We sleep under a thin quilt and are plenty cozy, and often end up throwing a leg out to cool down because with three people sleeping and breathing in there all night, it gets downright toasty!

Rough fitting the sheets, before the interior walls were put in:
01 teardrop trailer rough fit insulation

Finalizing fit, sanding down the sheets to get them flush with the frame. Jamie made his own sanding block with coarse grit sandpaper stapled to a block of scrap wood. The styrofoam we used had the silver finish to start with, but as you can see, most of it ended up sanded off. (It’s SO important to wear breathing protection when doing this sort of work!)02 teardrop trailer fitting insulation

Final shot of insulation before exterior skin went on:03 teardrop trailer finalized insulation

Preview of insulation with ceiling installed. (That’s coming in the next post!)04 teardrop trailer insulation roofFoam is covering the wiring that runs along the whole trailer, for the interior reading lights and the outside galley light.

05 teardrop trailer insulation roof wiring

Fitting insulation around the ceiling fan hole:06 teardrop trailer insulation fitting roof
Next post: Interior Ceiling & Fan

Previous posts: Planning & Framing | Walls & Interior Skin | Galley Counter & Flooring

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Little Rink Ice Skating, Alameda, CA

little ice rink bannerWe’re so excited to go check out the opening of The Little Ice Rink in Alameda tonight!

It will be Max’s first time ice skating ever, and I haven’t been on ice skates in more than 20 years a really long time!

The Alameda South Shore Center, the #1 family-friendly shopping destination of the East Bay, is home to The Little Ice Rink, which is open November 8 – January 19.
Little Rink 3

Homebuilt Teardrop Trailer 3: Galley Counter & Flooring

Part-3-Homebuilt-Teardrop-Trailer-Build-JournalThis is the third post in a series about our homebuilt teardrop trailer. Scroll to the bottom for links to previous posts.

If you aren’t familiar with the general layout of a teardop, the main compartment is for sleeping, and the kitchen (galley) is under the hatch that lifts up in the back.

We had several plan ideas for our galley, but that will get a post of its own further in the process. For now, I’m going over the counter in the galley and the flooring that we installed throughout.

First up, the galley counter. We had talked about a number of solutions. We decided granite was too heavy, didn’t want to deal with laying tile, and settled on butcher block. From an aesthetic standpoint, it went well with our design ideas, and it’s hardy enough to be great for camping.

Instead of buying actual butcher block counter material, Jamie found some remnant hardwood flooring at our local ReStore. If you aren’t familiar with Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, you should totally learn more and see if you have one near you! It’s kind of a thrift store full of building materials, and proceeds benefit the amazing work that Habitiat does. We make regular visits to the two that are near us, and find all sorts of cool and useful stuff, but this flooring was the single biggest “win” we’ve found.

Jamie sanded the flooring down to smooth, and mounted it on a piece of 1/2″ plywood for strength. The front edge is trimmed with solid maple, and the whole thing is finished with a few coats of Emmet’s Good Stuff (Which is a little expensive, but worth every penny!)

01 teardrop trailer galley counter 02 teardrop trailer counter

Another source of much conversation had been what kind of flooring to use throughout the trailer. Knowing that inside would be covered by the mattress, we were more worried about utility and ruggedness than we were about looks. We talked about black and white checkered linoleum, but it’s surprisingly hard to find sheet lino these days!

We ended up choosing peel and stick tiles that were in stock on the day we went looking. Because again, no one is really going to see it.03 teardrop trailer flooring tiles

We did the tile install on a pretty hot day in July, and did have some concerns about them peeling up at first. Once they had a few days to settle in though, they’re fine and we haven’t had any issues since.04 teardrop trailer galley floor

Here’s the interior floor being set, and you can see the storage box that’s inset in the floor. We generally keep things we don’t need much in there; blocks for leveling when we camp, our tent… it’s a slight PITA to get to, so we want to minimize how often we have to get in there.05 teardrop trailer vinyl floor

The finished floor with the top of the inset box in place.06 teardrop trailer vinyl floor storage

It’s our first “Look! We’re in the trailer!” selfie!07 teardrop trailer floor selfie 08 teardrop trailer vinyl floor done

Max loved helping as often as he could, but ear and eye protection is always a must! Bonus adorableness.max ear protection

Next post: Insulation

Previous posts: Planning & Framing | Walls & Interior Skin

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Homebuilt Teardrop Trailer 2: Walls & Interior Skin

Part-2-Homebuilt-Teardrop-Trailer-Build-JournalIn our last post, we went over planning and outlining the TransPorter, our homebuilt teardrop trailer.

In this post, we’ll be going over installing the main floor, sidewall frames, and skinning the inside walls. Unfortunately, we’re missing some photos from parts of this build, so you’ll have to bear with the written descriptions.

We started with the flatbed utility trailer, which then needed a floor installed. The base is made from a single 5′x10′ sheet of 3/4″ plywood. It was attached to the trailer with a combination of carriage bolts and self-tapping screws.

For weatherproofing, the underside of the floor and trailer was painted with Henry Asphalt roofing sealant. Jamie also chose to build a storage box into the floor of the trailer; it measures about 2′x4′ and is about 14″ deep. The main concern is for it to be no deeper than the axle, if you decide to do this yourself. The lid of that box can be seen in the photo below, and will appear better it future posts.
01 teardrop trailer walls skinned

The edge of the frame has a routed rabbet along the bottom, to get a tight fit to the floor. It’s attached to the trailer and the floor using the same self-tapping screws that we used to attach the floor.

teardrop trailer inside skinned with MaxThe interior bulkhead wall is made with 3/4″ prefinished maple plywood, and it’s finished on both sides, since that’s also seen from the galley (it’s the back wall of the cabinets)

02 teardrop trailer walls skinned

Interior walls are skinned with prefinished 1/8″ maple plywood. We chose to spend the extra for prefinished because finishing work isn’t nearly as fun as building, but you could easily do the finish (or paint) yourself and save a bit on the interior walls.03 teardrop trailer walls garage shot  teardrop trailer max in doorway

Next post: Galley Counter & Flooring

Previous post: Planning & Framing