DIY Camper Canisters

We’re getting ready for the deep freeze here in SW Missouri, and a friend of mine saw the camping trailer by the garden and asked why we were here. Good question! Commitments and holidays, I guess. That doesn’t mean we’re not dreaming and preparing for camping and traveling. In fact, my Christmas gifts included a large cutting board to cover the stove and a turbo convection toaster oven…both for the camper. I also got several items to help better organize my cabinets, and one of the things I want to do is free up more cabinet space for groceries. To that end, I decided to get some of my staples out of the cabinet. I looked for canisters others were using and didn’t see anything that struck my fancy. They were all too heavy, too breakable, or too plain.

Well, Saint is such a hoarder collector, it was no surprise that we had a couple of the old, small metal coffee cans with lids. Perfect. I also had a piece of chalkboard scrap book paper and some sisal rope.

DSC00086The paper was not quite large enough to totally cover two cans, but I cut the height to fit, which left me with strips to cover the bare space where the paper didn’t touch. These don’t look perfect in back, but not bad at all, and who sees the back side?

TDSC00087I used both the Tacky Glue and hot glue on the first one, but I noticed the trails of hot glue were showing up under the paper. The Tacky glue appeared to be adhesive enough on its own, so I used it alone on the second can.

DSC00088The result matched my chalkboard painted refrigerator. But it needed something to compliment the shabby nautical decor. What better than sisal rope? I hot glued a couple of rows around the bottom with plans to add a row at the top until I found that it interfered with the closing of the lid. I also planned to use chalk to identify the contents, but I decided on a more permanent silver marker.

Ta-dah!

DSC00091I need one more for corn meal. You know, a staple for fishermen. 😉 And with a bit of velcro on the bottom, they will be removable for winter, but secure enough to travel when we’re ready.

These canisters are just the size I need, they are kind of cute, and best of all, they are TOTALLY FREE!

And that is how we roll…

 

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Top Ten Freebies, Upcycles, and Dollar Items to Make Your RV Camping Easier

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If I were going to be a full time RVer, I would no doubt probably be willing to shell out the big bucks for quality items for my cabinets. Since I’m not…yet…I like to find things that make my camping trips easier, more fun, and convenient. I occasionally lose misplace things along the road, and I don’t want to have to worry go back and get them. That’s why I made this list of things that are indisposable very helpful, and best of all, they are all free or cost one buck. I’m serious. When you try these ideas, you’ll never go searching for that perfect dish, pot, or accessory again. You’ll just do what I do and go through your trash recyclables, scout out garage sales, and/or head directly to your local Dollar Tree. Here’s the list…sort of in order of importance.

  1. Foil pie pans and microwavable individual meal trays-  Start saving them NOW. Every Weight Watchers’ meal you eat will leave you with the perfect little tray that you can reuse to heat things in the microwave. These are particularly helpful when you prepare food in advance for traveling across country from campground to campground and don’t always have time for the fun cooking outside. When you do have the time, the foil pie pans are perfect; better than foil pouches because they are sturdier. You can cover with foil OR put one pie tin on top and clothespin together or tie with kitchen string. Very little clean up is involved. You can wash them if you want, but since you have already reused it, you don’t have to feel guilty about tossing it.
  2. Shower caddies from the Dollar Tree-Buy two or three of these because you can use them everywhere. One of the most pinned postings from my camping board is the one I use in the cabinet to separate plates and cups and hold things in place as you travel. They also work great for carrying directly from your trailer or RV to the outside picnic table…paper products, condiments, cutlery.
  3. Crystal Light type drink containers-These are the perfect size to hold your silverware, fit inside a drawer, and keep the implements separate. I put forks and spoons in with handles down, but since I keep sharp steak knives in them, too, I put the knives in with the handles out.
  4. Mesh Collapsible Hamper-Dollar Tree-one buck. I love mine. I used to stuff dirty clothes in a big trash bag. Trust me, this smells is so much better! You might need more than one. Five days of camping, for Saint and me,will fill it up. I like that it is not shapeless like a trash bag and it is breathable. I put it on the top bunk, which we never use, and it is totally out of our way.
  5. Mt. Olive Pickle Jar- If you haven’t eaten Mt. Olive dill pickles, well, I’m sorry. You should eat them just for the jar, but no! These are the BEST dill pickles. Almost like getting them out of a pickle barrel. And the jar is the perfect size for sun tea and other drinks. A  gallon sun tea jar takes up too much space in the cabinet, takes too long to make the tea, and makes too much for two people to drink before it gets old. This one is perfect. If you have more than two people, get two of them because they still fit in the cabinet better and give you a choice if you want a jar of sweetened and another of unsweetened tea or a jar of tea and a jar of lemonade. ALSO, you can put a candle or solar light inside for your picnic table ambiance. Aren’t you glad I used also? Way too many twos in this paragraph, but totally necessary.
  6. Reading Glasses and Tinted Reading Glasses-Once again, a dollar. “What!?” you say. Yes, if you pay $35-$135 for a pair of stylish reading glasses, you don’t want to leave them at a fast food stop along the way or lose them overboard trying to get your fish netted. I buy 8-10 pairs of these and keep them everywhere-one in my purse, one in the truck, one stays in the trailer, one in the boat, and one in practically every room of my house. They work just as well as the expensive ones…well, the earpiece doesn’t last as long, but what the heck…you can just throw them away. If you leave them, lose them, sit on them…it’s okay. One less thing to worry about…or two.
  7. Foil Grill Covers-Once again, Dollar Tree, where everything is a buck. When you have too much for your portable BBQ and you need to cook over the fire pit grill at the campgrounds, these fit right on. They have holes already reinforced so the juices get out and the smoke flavor gets in. Just another way to make your meal faster and easier. Throw away after one or several uses. They come in a pack of two.
  8. Solar Lights-Dollar Tree sells these for a dollar apiece, of course. You can attach them to your tent or awning stakes or rods so visitors don’t trip, screw the stakes off and put them in jars for table lights, or replace bulbs in a vintage chandelier to make an awesome outdoor light fixture. You can mark paths, make games and obstacle courses for the kids, as well.
  9. Screen Colanders- Stackable on top of your pots and pans, these wire mesh colanders wash veggies or kids’ toys, but my favorite use is to turn them upside down over a bowl of potato salad or a plate of cookies to keep the flies off! You can fancy them up by attaching a drawer pull as a handle, but why would you? Just pick it up from the bottom. They store much easier without a cumbersome handle.
  10. Collection– I know, I know. This is a cheat. I couldn’t narrow it down to just ten, so I lumped several other things into this last point. Butter tubs and  plastic deli meat containers that you have in the trash or recyclables work just as well as a matched set of covered bowls. Save them. They are dishwasher safe and perfect for the fridge. Use them for pickles, olives, sliced onions, mushrooms…things that come in a jar or can and take up too much room in their original containers. You may notice a couple of bottles in the above pictures that look like water bottles for toddlers. These are from Dollar Tree. I use them for mustard and mayo. No, I don’t suck either one, although I do like Miracle Whip almost that much. I transfer mustard and mayo from the big jars I have in my kitchen at home into these. The “straw” makes a perfect spreader and these fit into the door of the camper fridge. I also find that a quart milk jug fits much better so I save those, wash them, and pour the milk in from my gallon jug at home. Also, I have glow stick bracelets for putting around a toddler’s wrist…easier to keep track of, and to place in the bottom of a cooler or tub of ice. Such cuteness you’ve never seen, and it makes it easier to select your cold drink. I have tiny command hooks to use everywhere I want. One goes in the space behind the hide-a-bed, and I hang the fly swatter on it. TaDah! Out of sight, yet accessible.

There you have it! Long post, I know, but good grief, there’s a ton of helpful information here. How do I know? Just look at how many times I used words like easier, perfect, easier. Yep, camping’s about the fun and the food. Anything that makes your life more fun, more delicious, and easier has got to be worth a 1290 word count, right?

 

Latest Curtain Caper for the Camper

DSC00097        BEFORE

I’ve been putting off doing anything about the curtains in the “guest” bedroom area of the camping trailer because…well, I didn’t quite know what to do with them. Curtain panels were attached to a plastic strip containing evenly spaced gripper- things that made them slide along a track. When I don’t know what to do about something, I usually get Saint involved. If he were a sign holder, this is what he would say:  HAVE DRILL, WILL WORK FOR FOOD.

He had little trouble taking the strips off. Evidently the previous owners did not know how easy it was because these panels had not been washed in years forever. I decided to hand wash them since they had all that plastic hardware still attached. I knew I didn’t want to rehang them, but none of the other ideas I had for curtain rods would work since the second door/emergency exit area which contained the windows left us very little space.

Then, I had another brilliant idea! Why not simply recover the old panels with new fabric? I wanted more light filtering/blocking curtains, anyway, to help with privacy, heat, and light. I also wanted to continue the nautical/coastal theme. I chose some navy fabric with white stars. Here are easy DIY directions:

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  1. Remove curtains, retaining all screws and hardware. (I put them in baggies and labeled them “top” and “bottom window.”) Leave the plastic strips and clips attached to the curtains.
  2. Lay each panel, right side down on the wrong side of the new fabric. Cut your new fabric an inch larger all the way around. This will be the fabric that you turn down for your hem.

DSC00127You can see here that I’ve turned it down at the top already.

3.  Turn the fabric down and pin baste it all the way around.

4. Sew a shirt tail hem all around the edge, being careful to avoid the little plastic grippers.

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DSC00128         DSC00135

It should look like this when you finish. You can now slide it back onto the track that you removed from the window. The back side still looks just like the original curtain. (See photo above.)

5. Do the same to all the panels. When you have them reattached to the track, it is time to get the Saint involved, again. Screw the tracks (with curtain panels attached) back into the door.If you don’t have a Saint, you can do this yourself. It’s not rocket science.

DSC00147Here’s what the curtains look like on the bottom window. For the top bunk, I wanted to add a shabby valance. I made this one by cutting scrap fabrics (all from the coastal theme) into strips and loop-tying them around a standard curtain rod.

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Isn’t that just cute? And all for a yard and a half of fabric!

DIY Privacy Curtain for Travel Trailer

Our Work-In-Progress continues, and I’m so excited about this simple update that I could hardly wait to share it.

My quest to replace the country blue decor with a coastal theme has gone well. You can see previous results here:

http://thymelesssageandrandomrants.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/move-that-bus/

Although I had updated the bedroom curtains, I still had the blue pull curtain that divides the bedroom from the living/kitchen area.

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It was not obnoxious, but outdated and too thin to keep light out…probably not for other people, but, I think I might have mentioned that I LIKE DARK sleeping quarters. (I know there are others of you out there who carry clothespins, duct tape, safety pins, etc. when you sleep at a hotel. First, you have to pin the curtains together to keep out the pole lights outside, then you have to tape over the media center lights, the clock, the microwave. I mean, it’s like sleeping in Vegas in most of the motel rooms, even the expensive ones.) Turns out, some campgrounds have the same issues, especially if you have a neighbor who loves the rope decorator lights and leaves them on all night. During one of my wide awake nights, I had a brilliant idea and couldn’t wait to get home and get some rest try this.

WooHoo! This is one of the best tips you are going to get about updating your curtains: A drop cloth from Lowes or Home Depot is the perfect width for a trailer curtain.DSC00247

I just laid it on top of the original curtain, and it fit perfectly. The drop cloth is considerably longer, but I wanted the curtain a bit longer than the original one. I simply held it up to the rail/rod and marked the length I wanted, folded up the excess fabric, as shown, and cut it off. (I’m using that leftover fabric and I’ll show you how later.)

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Now, the drop cloth is hemmed all the way around…until you cut off the bottom. I don’t sew all that much, but I managed to turn under a hem and machine stitch it with no problems only a little help. I think I might have had my machine threaded wrong or something, but I finally got it worked out.

Now for the fun part. I’ve always been scared of grommets. But that was before I knew how simple they really are to work with. My word. If I had known, I’d probably have grommets in everything I own. Purses, lamp shades, the possibilities are endless! All it takes is a package of grommets, a little grommet tool which I got at Walmart for… like …two bucks, and something to punch a hole in your fabric. The canvas type fabric of a drop cloth works great with grommets because it doesn’t ravel or pull. Oh, and it also helps if you have a strong hand. I used Saint’s. It worked perfectly. And, it gave him a chance to show me the antique leather punch that his grandfather and father used and handed down to him.

DSC00250 Oops! Looks like he punched a hole in his sock. 🙂 Didn’t I tell you he never throws anything away? He’s gonna’ read this and never help me again.

When I laid the drop cloth over the original curtain, I marked through the grommet holes onto my fabric so they would be evenly spaced, but I wanted the folds in the fabric to hang better than the original curtain did, so I marked between each one. With this little grommet tool, Saint had these in place in no time!

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And I had it hung in even less time.DSC00251

Isn’t that amazing? And look how well it fits into the grand scheme of things:

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A clean coastal look, privacy, and light blocking all for less than $15.00. Now, tell me, campers, is that not one of the best tips you’ve seen in long time?

Happy sleeping camping!