Sunday, May 24, 2015

SPACEBALLS THE MOTORHOME: PART 2

We FINALLY got our camper back after six weeks of being in the shop. We decided to have all the windows professionally resealed after watching countless youtube videos of how to DIY it. With the size of the windows, it was one thing we were just not going to tackle. The shop told us it took five guys to take out each window. Yikes!

It turns out the rear window glass has a bad seal after 43 years and is getting moisture between the panes, so we eventually need to look into replacing it. Logan has already started to work with a glass company out of Mt. Horeb to get a new one made and installed. For now, the windows are resealed, so at least there will be no leaks.

Now before I go any further, when I say 'we' when talking about renovating the camper, I really mean Logan. I will help when and where I can and trust me, I always have an opinion on how things should be done, but really the credit for most of our home projects goes to him. We are trying to make all the decisions on things like flooring, countertops, paint colors, etc. together and we do not always see eye-to-eye on this type of thing, but after a few good bickering sessions, we always land on a decision we find mutually acceptable. Truth is Logan would like everything to stay brown and olive and I much prefer white with pops of color. Logan would like a hippie van. As I am all down with the hippie vibe, it still needs some brightening up! ;)

Anyways, here are the 'before' pictures so many of you wanted to see! Like I said, it is for the most part a time capsule from 1972. Only a few things have been changed up on the inside. The previous owners put in a new refrigerator, toilet, and air conditioner. They also took out the bunk bed that was above the bed in the back. We plan on putting one back, but that is a topic for another blog post.

Yesterday, I took the kids to the lake all day and Logan spent the entire day working on the camper. He took everything out that he could and ripped out all the flooring - two layers of carpet. The original shag and some other gross stuff that was laid on top. We were not sure what we would find under the carpet, but to our surprise, we found a plywood floor that has practically no rot! We have to replace a few small boards, but that is all. Today we will take turns pulling staples from the floor. YAY! ;)

(More pictures to come!)














Friday, May 22, 2015

SUMMER PICNICS WITH JJ COLE - WITH A FREE PICNIC PACKING IDEA PRINTABLE

Summer is finally here and in our family that means picnic season is in full swing! 
I am so fortunate to have Fridays off with my kids! Better yet, all three of my sisters-in-law have off Fridays as well! We usually go to the park and have a picnic, go to the zoo and have a picnic, or go to the splash pad and you guessed it, we have a picnic! ;) I think we all love picnics so much b/c we don't have to clean up all the crumbs. ;)

Recently, JJ Cole reached out to me to review one of their diaper bags as well as their great picnic blanket. Up until this point we had two diaper bags. One that was super useful, but semi-ugly, and one that was super cute, but just a little too small. For picnics we used my old bedspread from college that was huge, puffy, and less then convenient. Needless to say, I was so excited to review these two staple items!





I chose the caprice bag in heathered grey and I LOVE it! It is the prefect size for all the stuff I need to pack for two kids, it has lots of compartments (inside and out), loops that attach right to your stroller handles (when you don't have room in the basket below) and it is super cute! Yup, a win all around!

I chose the outdoor blanket in blue iris and it works great. It EASILY (yes, that is key!) folds down into a rectangle that ends up serving as a bag with a little pouch and a handle. It is waterproof and comes in some really fun prints. It would make a great baby shower gift. I can't wait to use it at Concert on the Square this summer!

And just for fun, I have included a little free printable that I use as reference when packing Ellis' lunch for school. It is pretty much like packing a picnic every day b/c they do not microwave anything at her school making it a 'cold' lunch. I am totally inspired by my sister-in-law who, in my mind, is a picnic packing pro! I love to look at this lunch planning sheet before I go to the grocery store b/c sometimes I run out of ideas or it just makes me realize I have been sending her raspberries every day for weeks and maybe I should grab some oranges instead. :) I made sure to leave a few blank lines so you can write in some of your own ideas as well!





Bread Balls - This Site has so many great ideas for making bread healthy by sneaking in fruits and veggies as well as using whole grains. I make them into bread balls by cooking them in this fun little gadget. Ellis, as well and my niece and nephew, LOVE them!

Muffins - These muffins are one of my all-time favorites, but there are a million different recipes for healthy muffins.

Veggie Muffins - These muffins pack in apple, carrot, zucchini, banana, and broccoli!

Lara Bars - My sister in law makes these super yummy prune and apricot bites.


Apple Cookie Snacks - How easy and fun are these?!

Trail Mix - I throw together: raw cashews, raw almonds, craisins, and a few dark chocolate chips. 


Yogurt Parfaits - Throw together: yogurt, fruit, granola and nuts in a little tupperware container and you are set!

Mini Pizzas - You can make a taco version as well!

And here are my favorite picnic essentials:
- These sippy cups DO NOT leak. Do you have any ideas how many cups we have gone through to find one that actually does not leak?! Save yourself the time and money and get these.
- The Basket is easy to get things in and out of AND it is super cute.
- The blanket is waterproof and folds up super easy.
- The lunch boxes have 4 compartments, they are easy to wash, and a great price! Again, we have gone through about 4 different bento box styles before I found these and I love them! 
- The silicone baking cups are great for diving snacks in lunch boxes. See the picture above.
(links below picture)



picnic basket / picnic blanket / lunch boxes / silicone baking cups / Nalgene sippy cup

Friday, May 8, 2015

SPACEBALLS THE MOTORHOME: PART 1

Meet the newest member of the Buell Family, our 1972 Starcraft Starcruiser. We bought her exactly one month ago today, on our daughter's 3rd birthday. Our plans were to go buy Ellis a mini trampoline for her birthday that day, but instead, we came home with SPACEBALLS. Yes, I know... Just what every three year old dreams of. ;)




Logan and I have always wanted to buy an old camper and fix it up. We have casually trolled Craigslist, window shopped at our local RV dealerships, and definitely stopped a time or two when we saw one on the side of the road with a big FOR SALE sign in the window, but we never actually pulled the trigger. We came close to it last summer when we looked at a 1957 Streamline trailer, but decided against it for a few reasons.

One night, on a whim, Logan decided to take a look on Craigslist and happened to find Spaceballs posted just a few hours before he came across it. He showed me the post and I said to call about it in the morning just to find out a little more. He called at 9am the next morning and found out it was owned by a mechanic in Watertown, WI. He had done quite a bit of work on it and from the pictures, it looked like it was in excellent condition. So we packed up the kids and headed to Watertown. 

Long story short - we looked at it, took it for a test drive, asked the guy who owned it a bajillion questions, basically looked at each other and said "Are we crazy?!!!" and figured, well... if not now, then when? We have always wanted to do this, so WE DID! We both get a bit nervous about this stuff. I mean who really knows? The transmission could have gone out on the ride home and there we would have been with a big mustard yellow bus that we needed to pour thousands of dollars into. A mean 'Buyer Beware" is a real thing, and neither of us know the first thing about fixing up old vehicles. We were way more excited about renovating the inside. That being said, we felt much better about our purchase knowing it was perviously owned by a mechanic who did the following:

- Swapped and rebuilt Chrysler/Dodge 440 V8 Engine with performance headers (5 years ago) with about 2,000-3,000 miles on it
- Transmission rebuilt last year
- Performance Overdrive added last year (auto and manual switches)
- 2 new fuel tanks (55 gallon in the front, 25 gallon in the back)
- 2 new fuel pumps
- 7 new tires (including 1 spare)
- 2 new batteries
- New clean water holding tank
- New black/grey water tank
- All new brakes
- All new brake lines
- Newer Generator with only 80 hours on it
- New A/C unit
- New Refrigerator
- New easy flush toilet
- 2 new MaxxAir ZERO-LEAK Rain or Shine Vent Covers and Fans
- LCD Flatscreen TV and Mount

Our camper is currently at Camping World getting all of the windows professionally resealed and we should have it back next week. We had it's 45 point safety inspection done and all we had to do was replace two lightbulbs. I CANNOT wait to get it back so we can start renovating and post some pictures of the inside. The interior is pretty much a time capsule - untouched since the 70s. Our first job on the list is to rip out the shag carpeting and replace it with some other type of flooring. We are currently researching all different flooring options. We want something lightweight, somewhat flexible, durable, and of course, completely unique. That last one is my request. Most of the really cool vinyl flooring is either unavailable in the U.S., extremely expensive, or the companies only sell to businesses. We have yet to land on the perfect flooring option. Our renovation goal is to find a good balance between style and function.

Stay tuned for interior pictures and updates as we go. My guess is it will cost more than we budgeted and take more time than we had expected. These type of projects always do! ;)  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

CINNAMON FRENCH TOAST BAKE

I honestly cannot believe it has taken be this long to share this recipe. Probably because I try and focus more on heathy recipes and this isn't exactly health food. It may not be overly healthy, but it is dang good - like the absolute best french toast bake you will ever have! I first had this recipe four years ago when I went to my friend's house to visit her after her baby was born. It was amazing and I had to have the recipe. I have made it for every Mother's Day brunch, bridal shower and baby shower I have thrown ever since. Every time I make it, at least a half dozen women ask me for the recipe. THAT is how you know you have a good recipe worthy of making for every special occasion! What I love about it (besides the fact that I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner) is that it is cheap and super easy. I whip it up the night before so all I have to do in the morning is sprinkle on the topping and bake it for an hour.



Ingredients:
1 loaf french or sourdough bread (or leftover bread/buns of any kind)
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla

Topping:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick cold butter - cut up into pieces

Grease a 9x13 pan with butter. Tear apart bread into chunks and distribute in pan. Mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, & vanilla. Pour over bread, cover & store in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

In separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add butter pieces and cut into dry mixture until mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a ziplock bag in refrigerator.

The next morning (or after it has sat for several hours) preheat the over to 350 degrees. Sprinkle on topping and place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes for a soft, bread pudding like texture and bake for one hour for a firmer, less liquid texture.
(I bake mine for about 50 minutes)

Drizzle some pure maple syrup on top and serve.






Sunday, April 12, 2015

ELLIS & FINN'S BIRTHDAY / EASTER

How can my little Easter baby be three??? It just doesn't seem possible!

Last weekend our family, along with Logan's sister's family, joined forces to throw a big birthday/Easter celebration. We celebrated Ellis' 3rd birthday and Finn's 6th birthday. I am a sucker for a good party theme, so we went with animals in party hats and all things Easter. We had tons of yummy food, a bounce house, an egg hunt, and a visit from the Easter Bunny himself! Let's just say Ellis slept like a log that night. A bounce house and all her cousins make for a very crazy day! :)

Between our two kids and all of Logan's sibling's kids, there are eight kids - all six years and under. One of our family traditions in to take 'couch pictures' where we line all the kids up on a couch, either stick bunny ears or Christmas jammies on them and snap hundreds (no joke) of pictures until we think we may have gotten one where every child is looking. There is usually at least one child who has expired and is completely losing it and at least one who WILL NOT sit no matter what. It is kind of hilarious. For the picture below we added in Logan's cousin's two kids. So here they are, five girl bunnies and five boy bunnies. ;)

CAKE DETAILS: safari animals, cupcake wrappers, and tiny tinsel poms for the party hats are all from Consumer Crafts. I made the table top out of two strawberry wafer cookies that I hot glued together, used a scrap piece of vintage fabric for the tablecloth and straws for the legs. The little cakes are life savers that I painted with watered down food coloring and topped with frosting and sprinkles. I designed the banner and it is held up with straws and the string is baker's twine, also from Consumer Crafts. Cake recipe is from Half Baked Harvest and the frosting is from Cooking Classy.
Animal crackers are my weakness - especially when dipped in frosting!!! For party favors, I filled plastic cups with animal crackers and then mini cups with frosting and sprinkles to dip them in! I put them in clear plastic treat bags, twisted them shut with silver twist ties (used a pen to curl the ends), and slapped on some cute custom stickers with Ellis and Finn's ages on them!

I used custom printed gift wrap from tinyprints for the table runner and it was perfect!!!
Everyone thought it was so cool that it said their names!


I found the most adorable stationary for Ellis' thank you notes that went perfectly with our theme!





We got Ellis a wubble bubble ball (say that 5 times fast) for her birthday and it was a hit! Unfortunately, it popped. :( so... if you are going to buy one, just make sure you keep your receipt. We took ours back and got our money back, but I am half tempted to try one again. The kids really did love it... while it lasted.