Am I a Funny Girl?

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

Homebuilt Teardrop Trailer 1: Planning & Framing

Part-1-Homebuilt-Teardrop-Trailer-Build-JournalJamie first came to me about five years ago with the idea. Max was tiny, just a baby, and Jamie walked in and said “I want to restore a Volkswagen bus camper. Like an old one.”
Ever trying to be supportive of his ideas, I nodded and smiled and got him a copy of “How to Restore a Volkswagen Bus” for Christmas.
He enthusiastically flipped through the pages and then put the book aside.
A few months passed, maybe close to a year.
“I think I want to do a canned ham instead. Like an old one.”
Even if you aren’t familiar with the term, you know what a “canned ham” trailer is; they’re like the fifth wheel trailers of yore; they have names like “Lil Loafer” and “Shasta,” “Runabout” and “Scotsman.” They’re the travel trailers you can stand up in. Like this:
canned ham lil loafer trailerWe spent the next year stalking Craigslist, lots of “Hey babe, come look at this one!” and contemplating what kind of car we’d need to buy to tow it.
And then finally, his idea changed entirely.
“I want to build a teardrop trailer. From scratch.”
Again, I smiled and nodded, and went back to what I was working on.

I basically put it out of my mind (again) until one day, he called me into the office. “Here. Pick a profile.”
There was a screen full of shapes; varying outlines of these tiny trailers. So I pointed.
“That one looks cool.”
“That one? You like that one? OK.”
And then it was done.

The #TransPorter was born. (Originally called “Porterable,” we changed the name midway)
This series of posts will be a combination of specs, materials lists, processes, photos, lessons learned and general overview of the build. Some writing will be done by me, some will be Jamie (the more technical stuff, obviously) If you’re reading and have a question, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment and we’ll do our best to get you a useful answer.
01 Teardrop Trailer Profile

The first step was a giant piece of plywood and some masking tape.
(To be honest, I was impressed that Jamie was able to get the garage as clean as it was, to start this project at all!)

He carefully measured and taped, then cut out the finished shape with a jigsaw.
02 Teardrop Trailer template plywood

Looking at that sheet of plywood, listening to Jamie describe his plans, I was nervous. That thing didn’t look nearly big enough for us to sleep in, let alone with Max! For reference: The blue tape outlines the galley in the back, and the future cabinets on the inside. Green is the door, and orange is the planned depth of the mattress. The tan tape at the bottom represents the 5×8 flatbed trailer that would serve as the base for the whole project.03 Teardrop trailer template cut out Once he had his template, he started constructing two solid wood frames. The frame is made with solid poplar that is glued and pocket screwed, with the screw holes filled in.

This was the first of many times that Jamie used enough spring clamps to call me out to the office and say, “See? I told you I didn’t have too many clamps!”

04 teardrop trailer framing on template

The bracing was put in place with the final design in mind; the horizontal support at the back (right side of photo below) was there to help hold up the galley counter when installed, the center horizontal one will hold up the interior cabinets that will be installed in a couple of years, after Max outgrows his hammock. The large space towards the left is where the door would end up.

He built two identical frames like this, and then it got scary.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

He ordered the trailer. A 5×8 foot utility trailer, this is the “one everyone is using” and after a couple of weeks, it appeared in our garage in all its flatbed, nowhere-near-a-teardrop-trailer glory.

And it looked like this:06 teardrop trailer flatbed base

Next post: Walls & Interior Skin

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Fashion Friday – Office-Ready R2-D2 and “Mom Solo”

office-ready R2-D2 costume
Who says grown-ups who have to go to work on Halloween can’t have a little fun with dressing up, too?

R2-D2 skirt | Blue tights | Easy Street “Callie” boots | Lauren Conrad bow-sleeve crepe top
Vintage Stardust Cardigan | Yoda Backpack | R2-D2 Phone Case
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Mom solo Star wars costumeBlack Utility Vest | High Waist Full A Line Pleated Swing Skirt | Slim Fit V-neck Longsleeve T-shirt
Elastic Belt Brown
| Clarks Portrait Merla Boots | Assorted snack and mom supplies :)

The importance of family-free travel #BeachesMoms

sister travel 5I love my husband. And I love Max. My sister loves her husband and her girls, of course. But we left them at home while we went on vacation and I’m so thankful we did. Katie and I had the opportunity to travel to the incredible Beaches All-Inclusive Resort in Turks & Caicos for the Social Media on the Sand conference, and as a bonus we got some much-needed sister time.

Beaches is the family-centric branch of the same brand that runs Sandals, the couples-only all-inclusives, so yes, there are times we wished we had our families with us. But overall, the benefit of the time for the two of us was far more important and valuable than we could have imagined.

We were together for probably 90% of our lives until I moved out at 18. We’ve often said that my moving out was the best thing that ever happened to our relationship; we had to make an effort to spend time together, so it was on our terms. We weren’t forced together when we didn’t want to be. We finally became friends instead of just sisters.

This isn’t to say we don’t have our drama. When you’re as close to someone as sisters are, it’s going to happen. It just will. We know ALL of each other’s buttons to push, and sometimes temptation is just too great and clashes will happen.

But to go somewhere like Beaches, with no real “grown-up” responsibilities?

sister travel 3Incredible.

When we arrived, as the concierge gave us a tour of our suite, I noticed a little bottle of Palmolive next to the kitchen counter. “Oh how cute! They think we might want to wash dishes!” We were there for two reasons: The conference and the relaxing.

Sitting at a swim up bar, ordering drinks in ridiculous neon colors, with pineapple and cherry garnish and topped with the longest bendy straw I’ve ever seen, we laughed and took silly pictures and splashed and just connected.

With no kids to keep an eye on, no husbands to feel like we were neglecting, we were able to focus on just being in the moment with each other, and we had an amazing time.

We sang karaoke like we did in the old days, when we were sharing an apartment and visited the local pub 5 nights a week to sing.

We tried new foods, like escargot!

sister travel 2sister travel 4

Leaving on this trip was pretty stressful for Katie. She’s got three girls at home, and this was her first big trip away from them. They were a little freaked out at the prospect of Mommy flying off on an airplane, and it took her a bit to settle into this role of off-duty mom.

But, I reminded her, it’s important to set this as a good example for her girls. We talked about how she should send her girls off to a resort like Beaches, maybe when her youngest turns 18. (Total bonus for Katie of all three girls having birthdays in a three-week span! Easy to make a big trip a combo gift!)

In leaving her girls behind, she modeled something else, something important. Adult sisterhood.

By day three, we were taking mental notes on the things we want to show our kids and husbands when we come back; I’ve already changed my previously planned 40th birthday party celebration from an Alaskan cruise to a Beaches vacation. (July 2017, if you want to come with us!)

Katie and I were able to connect in a way we haven’t in an embarrassing number of years. No barking dogs or whining kids, no door-to-door solicitors or groceries that needed to be bought. It was just us, and it was glorious.

sister travel 1

Show your team spirit with popcorn in team colors!

Color Popcorn using Candy Melts and Jell-OPopcorn is always a great treat for parties and get-togethers; it’s generally safe from an allergy standpoint, and we use an air popper at home, so it’s a pretty healthy option as well! Not wanting to leave it too healthy, of course, I wanted to party up some popcorn for game six of the World Series! (Go Giants!)

What better than to make a popcorn snack in my favorite team’s colors?!?! The black was easy; I picked up some black candy melts, melted them down and coated some fresh popcorn. (Candy melts are available at Michael’s or Joann, if you don’t have time to order them from Amazon!) I filled a large mixing bowl with a couple of handfuls of plain popcorn, and then drizzled the melts over top. Using a wooden spoon, I mixed until coated. (Don’t use your hands! Those melts are HOT! Voice of experience here, BTW)

Turn the coated popcorn out onto aluminum foil to cool and set.
Color Popcorn Black Close upThe orange popcorn takes a little more work…
Color Popcorn Orange Close up
Choose a Jell-O flavor that coordinates with the color you want; I did orange, of course.
In a small saucepan, combine the following:

  • 3 oz. box of Jell-O in chosen flavor
  • 1/2 C. white sugar
  • 3 T. light corn syrup
  • 4 T. butter

Heat until everything is blended together; it will seem slightly grainy, but don’t worry.

Working in small batches, put plain popcorn in a mixing bowl, and drizzle the (molten!) Jell-O mixture over the popcorn, then mix with a spoon to coat. Be sure to put the remaining mixture in the saucepan back on the heat; it starts setting up QUICK!

Once coated, spread the popcorn in one layer on a greased or foil-lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 250 for about 15 minutes to set coating; let popcorn cool, then break pieces apart.

I used a large gallon zip bag to get a good mix of both colors, and to store it overnight, but it’s entirely possible it won’t last that long!

SF Giants popcorn Team Spirit PopcornWant more awesome popcorn ideas? Follow my all popcorn board on Pinterest!

Follow Lizz’s board Popcorn but funner on Pinterest.

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