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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Our Old House with some Weekend Work and some recipes

Oooh can you imagine, we had a weekend without ANY obligations or "have to"s or anything!!!

I started out Saturday morning trying out a new recipe for breakfast... I saw it on Facebook and thought it looked pretty good.

I whipped it up with eggs, ham, cheese and flakey biscuits. 
It came out great and there was enough to reheat the leftovers on Sunday morning too.

Of course, we found a lot of things to do for the weekend.... and got a lot of projects done around Our Old House.  Steve gave the lawn a (hopefully) last cutting... while I emptied flower pots, planted mums, and painted some trim around the flowerbeds.  I even gave a coat of stain to my big two cement planters from the front stoop.  Now they will be fresh and ready for spring planting.

I refinished the top of an old fashioned wooden tv tray table and used my new little sander.  Seems that I wore the other one out on my other woodworking projects so Steve let me buy a new Skil sander on our last trip to Menards.  Whee heee a girl who likes power tools!

Around mid afternoon, I was in the mood to make up a nice dinner.  The house was all neat and clean so we thought of having company over. We invited our neighbors from the back yard, RC and Laurie to come over for a lasagna dinner.  They had us over for a few backyard bar-b-ques and we owed them an invite back.

I love making this recipe.....   
so chose it as my "go to" recipe for company! 

I made up one tray with the chicken/alfredo mixture 
and another pan of traditional spaghetti sauce and ricotta cheese type.

I like making the lasagnas with the "roll up" method instead of layering the noodles.
Make a nicer lasagna that bakes faster,
and you don't have to wait for it to "firm up" before serving. 

Our impromptu dinner party was a success.  I had a salad, some garlic cheesey biscuits and Laurie brought over a dessert. We have been blessed with really great neighbors on all sides of our home here in Chilton.  Plus RC and Laurie have dogs that play with our dogs, and we have some nice doggy play times in our adjoining backyards. 

Sunday morning was perfect for getting a few more small tasks done around the house... after sleeping in late.  We had our lazy front porch setting with coffee and heated leftovers for breakfast. 

The day was beautiful, but we stayed inside. I was enjoying some quiet time in the morning with my treadle sewing machine and working on a quilt.  Steveio changed over the LAST electrical outlet in the house that needed converting.... see pics

You can see why it needed to be changed?  
Look at that old three outlet plug....
All of the wires have been upgraded too,
but this one outlet next to the fireplace we held off until now, 
because we were not sure 
if the fireplace we put in needed electronic ignition or not. (it didn't) 

By noon, the Packer game was on... and after three hours of watching a thorough trouncing of the Bears (age old rivalry)  it was time to take a nap.  Yes... a nice nap with slight breezes wafting in the windows.  This weather for the end of September is amazing.  Temps in the 70's, low humidity, and sunny skies.  ahhhhhhhh perfect weather for napping on the crisp cotton sheets I had taken off the line earlier in the day.  

By evening, we reheated the leftover lasagna so I didn't even have to cook.  Then RC and Laurie asked us over to their backyard patio area for a while....  dogs included.  The other neighbors had their big dog Sammy too, plus RC and Lauries' 3 dogs and our 2....  so we had half a dozen beggars! 

 The big dog by Steve is named Sammy.  
What a lover and he reminds me of my childhood dog named Chief!

Their backyard is always set up for parties and gatherings... 
what a nice spot! 

OH, and to show you the silly sense of humor that our neighbors have,
check out the COUSIN IT in their front yard!

Yup, those are a great big pair of sunglasses! 
teee heee heeeeeeeeeeee

Friday, September 26, 2014

Visit from RV Bloggers Sue and Bob, and babysitting some grandtots

A year and a half ago, we were down in Texas during the winter months on vacation.  A fellow RV blogger, Sue, of the blog http://travelbug-susan.blogspot.com wrote to me and said if we were getting near San Antonio, she would love to meet up with us!

As well as Colleen from http://travelinglongdogs.blogspot.com/   So we had a wonderful time with meeting up with both of them and getting a good tour around the missions and Riverwalk area of San Antonio.....

Here is the blog post I wrote about our visit there at San Antonia, TX and meeting Sue face to face for the first time in 2013:

and Susan's blog of that day too:

Fast forward now to 2014, and lo and behold Sue and Bob are heading up to our neck of the woods! 

Of course we had to get together... as they neared Wisconsin, we waited to find out which day they would be around for a visit.  Sure nuff, we were able to get together for an evening.  They had put in a full day of walking in Madison, sightseeing in Watertown and then drove all the way up to Chilton to visit us!   They were camping in a central location in Beaver Dam to hit all three things in one day, like a big triangle. 

We got hugs all around and gave them a little tour of our house, and then we all walked down to the little local deli a few blocks away called Hildi's Deli and Bakery in Chilton WI

It is a wonderful deli and bakery right in the heart of Chilton on Main Street. 
We were waited on by none other than Hilde herself! 
It's all smiles and kind words and generous offerings in her quaint shop. 

We love coming here with the amazing array of items for sale... 
both in the prepared foods, or deli items, and even spices and canned preserves and bakery.  
She has some micro brew beers, and even some specialized soda's 
called Sprechers brewed right here in Wisconsin.  

Everything smells so good as you wander in the door, 
and tonight's special was Chicken Pot Pie!  
Both Steve and I relish the nights that Hilde makes her pot pies, 
and she posts on Facebook when they are ready.  LOL... 
It's usually on Thursday nights, so we suggested to Sue and Bob that we could try them out.
Sue wanted to try one, and Bob decided on the great looking Chicken Dinner.

Yummmmm they are rich and creamy and tasty... 
nothing in any freezer case can compare to this! 

But, last year before we left on vacation, we had Hilde bake and freeze up a stack of them JUST FOR US to put in the freezer of the motorhome.  Then while we were travelling about the country, we didn't miss our Thursday Night Chicken Pot Pie from Hilde's! Just popped them in the oven and ready to enjoy in the comfort of our motorhome. 

Hilde's place has little seats around the deli area, and an extra dining alcove off to one side for meetings and banquets.  We commandeered a table and begged them to take the obligatory photo of us eating....  it's what RVers must have of their visits together.  Haha

We gabbed and gabbed 
(imagine that!) 

They came to clear our dishes but said we could sit and relax until 8pm closing time.  Of course we HAD to go back and select from the bakery items for our desserts....  Steve and I chose cannolis, and Sue and Bob shared a peanut square (mocha bar) and a big M&M cookie!   The large ring in the center of the photo is a "Kringle" breakfast pastry that they are taking back to their camper for the next day or two or three.... and the cluster of rolls on the bottom left are three croissant danish with caramel icing, my absolute favorite! 

 I swear Hilde planned on me buying the caramel croissants, 
they were already packaged up in the container 
and waiting for me to come in and get them! LOL 

We walked back to the house with full bellies, and sat our in our front porch for a while.  The dogs brought all their toys to play with and made our guests play "fetch" with them.  They demand equal time to visit too, as this was the exciting part of their day to have company.

Too soon it was time to say good bye and let them head on back 60 miles to Beaver Dam to their fifth-wheel trailer which is their full time home.  They travel with two kitties that I am sure were missing them by the time they got back to their place.  We waited to see a post that they arrived in Beaver Dam safe and sound.

Thanks for the great visit Sue and Bob!

Their next few stops are further north in Wisconsin, then to Iron River, MI (MY hometown) as Bob's dad was born there.  I told them to stay at the Iron River RV Park and when they need free wifi for the computers to head on up to the library and see my sister, Linda Andersen!   From there, they plan on taking in the fall colors and some waterfalls and scenery....  Enjoy it before the snow falls!

Last week I spent an overnight caring for some of the grandtots.  In the morning Jameson came over to join us at Chelsea and Clayton's house, so we got in a good snuggle before I had to haul them to the daycare and to school.

Next week I will be back up there for a few more days to help out again, and looking forward to getting in more Grandmuddah Hugs!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

MOTORHOME MODIFICATION - Toilet Riser and Extra Electrical Outlet

You might wonder what a toilet riser has to do with an electrical outlet?  Well, nothing.  But I just happened to put them both in the same blog post title!  LOL

As most of you know, RV toilets leave a lot to be desired compared to household toilets.  Some RV toilets are all plastic, and some are ceramic.  Many are too short!  We have Sealand Ceramic Bowl toilet made by Thetford.   It's pretty short.  With Steve's long legs, plus I am 5'7" myself, a taller toilet would be preferable.

But not to our two 2 year old grandsons who are just toilet training... to them this height is "just right"  hahahaha ....

I digress.  
Back to the toilet height situation.  
See what I mean? 

Pretty short.  Squatty.  Kinda "knees to the chin" situation, according to Steveio.  

Well, the RV suppliers do make a "toilet riser" which is a large sturdy plastic deck unit designed to add a couple inches in height to the toilet without too much modification.  They are costly.. in the $40-50 range plus shipping.  Oh my.

So we kinda figured someday we would get one.  Perhaps.

Well, a few weeks ago, we were walking in a thrift shop in the next town over... and what does Steveio see?  An RV Toilet Riser!   Brand new, in the box, unused, etc.  And it just so happens to be the right one for our model of ceramic Sealand toilet by Thetford!   For......  (drum roll please)  a mere EIGHT dollars!

The directions seem pretty straightforward.  The only drawback, it is white.  Our toilet and sink and tub are ivory.  Oh well, we picked up a can of Krylon spray paint for plastic called Fusion.  We have had good luck with painting plastic things and it clings well and doesn't flake off like regular spray paint does.  I did my spraying while Steve started gathering supplies.

First step... dump and rinse your holding tank very well.  We had done that on Thursday because we knew we were going to do this job sometime on the weekend.  Add a big dollop of toilet chemical like the porta-potty units use to help mask any odors while the toilet is off the mounting bracket.

Next: unhook the water line and remove the plastic shroud around the base of the toilet. 
Also remove the cover on the foot lever on the left side....

We had changed over the flooring about 5 or 6 years ago, and had removed the toilet in the process. The flange nuts were easy to remove and not rusted up on an 18 year old toilet.  Easy peasy they came loose and the toilet was lifted up and off the opening. 
No smells, but we had the windows open just in case.

Quick cleanup with some disinfectant and we were ready for the next step of adding the bolts.
This kit comes with extra long bolts to replace the four original ones.  Slide them into the flange.

This kit came with two rubber gaskets to put below and on top of the riser.  We decided to reuse the original gasket on the top end because it fit better than the universal one in the kit.  Now on the bottom portion, we decided to use a traditional household type wax ring instead of the gasket.  Remember I said we had added a new floor a few years ago?  We needed to make up that 1/4" difference in height, and the wax ring would do that very well.

Add the wax ring (or the rubber gasket if you choose) to the bottom of the riser opening.  

Now carefully line up the heads of the four bolts into the four holes
and drop the riser straight down over the opening. 
Squish it down a bit to set the wax ring onto place.

We carefully placed the toilet over the riser, with the four bolts lining up with the four holes on the base of the toilet.  Once it was in place, we added the four nuts and started to tighten them down.

We evenly turned down each nut all around the base, making it tighten up with equal pressure all around.  Bit by bit, it was securely tightened up and exerting equal pressure all around the gasket seals. A deep socket was needed to do this, and even then we ran a bit short and had to use an open end box wrench for the last few twists.

Once it was stable and sturdy, we attached the extension to the water line we had to adapt, and then the lever cover and finally the plastic shroud around the base.  Done!

And yes, we both gave it a "test drive" and it meets our expectations.
I bet our grandsons are going to be mad at us though.

The other job I wanted to post on this blog was a small one, but one that I have been asking for about a year or so now.  Since we took out the couch, and added the loveseat, we often sit side by side on the loveseat, each with our own laptops.  Ain't that sweet?      

But what isn't sweet is that my laptop cord has to stretch across the aisle from an outlet up by the passenger seat dash!  When it is fully stretched out to it's farthest length, the cord gets yanked out by accident so often that my plug end is kinda wobbly in my laptop port now.   Steve's laptop cord is stretched across the aisle in the other direction and  plugged in by the kitchen table.  We trip over it if either of us walks to the kitchen or the bathroom.  Our batteries don't seem to last too long, so want to keep our laptops plugged in while using them.

Time for a change.  I wanted another electrical outlet added to the wall alongside the loveseat.  You can't run wiring inside of the exterior motorhome walls, they are solid styrofoam and no way to run additional wiring once they are closed up at the factory.  But you can run along inside of cabinetry and to the side walls. See the arrow??? I want an outlet right down in the corner there! 

Steve examined the existing motorcoach wiring.  We wanted a power source that operated when our inverter was on, (from our batteries and solar power that inverts it from DC to AC current) ... The nearest power source was on the other side of the fridge and one outlet in the upper cabinet. No luck, those are both only operational if on shore power. (plugged in to a campground post or household power in the yard) 

But wayyyy back in the other corner of the kitchen cabinet IS a power source that operates from the inverter circuits.  It's actually an outlet inside of the cabinet next to the stove that operates the igniter for our propane cooktop.  One of the two outlets is unused.  Hmmmmmmm  Steveio started thinking. 

By plugging in a heavy duty extension cord (12/3) into this outlet, and running it along behind the cabinets, through the partition under the fridge, he could run the heavy cord to a box down alongside the fridge and make an outlet!   We had a wooden panel there already with a furnace vent in it.  

Steve removed the wooden panel and cut a rectangle into the wood. Behind it he mounted an electrical box and wired into it the grounded three prong outlet for our laptops. It's like a big heavy extension cord running over to our loveseat behind the cabinet drawers. How cool is that? 

Now we can plug our two laptop cords alongside the loveseat to the little coffee table and not trip over the cords!  Good job, Steveio!  You made life even MORE comfortable in our motorhome.

Well, the Packer Game is done.
We lost.

Since the rain earlier today had ended...
we took a nice walk with the dogs around the neighborhood
while the sun was shining.

Duke walks the first few blocks,
but then we load him into the red wagon
so we can finish the longer walk
with Finney trotting alongside.


Nanny Nanny Boo Boo!

Motorhome Modification - Installing Articulating Arm for the TV Cabinet

Our Safari motorhome has a cabinet in the bedroom that houses a big CRT type television.  We ousted that energy hogging tv long ago and have been using a much more sensible LED tv that uses a lot less power.  Important when you are a boondocker.  (camping without electrical hookups)

The cabinet has a large space that could be extra storage, but we have just been setting a DVD player and jamming in the LED tv at an angle when in use.  When travelling we take it out set it on the bed.

Here is the cabinet: 

We had been looking at articulating tv arms that would allow us to move the tv out to reach the storage behind, or to tilt to have better viewing from the bed. Walmart's mounts were $129.00!!  Ouch!  But we were in Menards last week and found one for $35.00  It was made for a bigger tv than ours, but Steve assured me that we could make it work.  Somehow. 

We took it out and laid it out on the bed... 
not only don't the holes match up, but the back base plate doesn't line up with our tv!

Steveio took to solving that problem!  He lined it up and figured where the base plate needed to cut off the top edge that would be overhanging otherwise.  He marked where new holes needed to be drilled in the base to work with our particular brand of tv.

There... that was much better!  He cut it off with his jigsaw blade for metal.  Oh oh... the bolts that came with this kit were also too long!   That was easily solved by Steveio using a special section on his electrical pliers that lets you snip off the threaded ends of bolts without ruining the threads.  What a guy!

 In no time he was screwing the back base plate onto the tv. 

Now we had to mark where the arm needed to be mounted inside of the cabinet for the best position.  I wanted it up as far as it could go along the ceiling, so we could still keep a DVD player in the space below the tv and could use the remote control on it.   It took two of us to hold everything to line up the tv, the bracket, the arm, and mark the spots where to drill inside of the cabinet.

There... all mounted in place!  We ran the 2 inch heavy lag screws into the side wood that goes into the next cabinet. The wood of each cabinet is almost an inch thick, so the screws will hold well in the solid alder wood cabinets in our Safari. I coiled up the cords, coax and DVD connector cables.

We pushed it back into place and it fit perfectly! 

For now, the arm is very stiff and firm, so I don't think we need to use any safety strapping during travel.  We will see.  We can always add a strap later if needed.  

Once it was all done and into place, we turned on the inverter 
and turned on the tv, just to test it out.  Voila!