Tuesday, 19 February 2013

New Bling for Bing

A girl (or guy) can never have too many treasures for her glamper. My glamper came empty; nary a spoon or can opener to start out with. But that's just fine with me, because I get to treasure hunt for dishes, cutlery, linens, towel holders--everything! Wheeee!

Did you design your glamper's interior around a specific theme, or did a single object inspire you--a pretty tablecloth maybe, vintage hankie, or perhaps an old, tin can? I started with a colour: red. Cherries aren't blue, after all. 

I've got plans for a red and white theme, with black and white tiled floors, a bit of old French country and, of course, some cherries. I thought of going all out with a cherry theme, but I hate to limit myself that much, so I'm on the hunt for red things that cost next to nothing but have oodles of charm.

With two kids at home, I don't have much time to go out and shop. So I've fallen into a bit of a love affair with eBay and Etsy. Many a late hour I've spent in delicious, online shopping fun, poking through other people's old stuff until I find something that makes my heart flip. For some reason, the process of bidding and then having to wait for my items to arrive in the mail just adds to all the delicious fun. 

Here are the heart-flipping red things I've found so far: 

A handmade toaster cover, circa the 1950s. Don't the ruffles just pop? (Get it? Ba-Dum-Bum-Ching!)

Vintage French torchons and some ancient crocheted doilies. (Torchons. Don't you just love that word?)

A classic red-checked tablecloth and banged up cutlery holder I plan to repaint with a little help from clever Annie Sloan and her chalk paints.

You see why I had to buy these monogrammed torchons, don't you?  Clearly, they were made just for me!

Dinner rolls taste extra yummy served in this darling handmade holder!

I love this colour palette. Dog and chevron-patterned fabric swatches are both from Tonic Living. Sophisticated, yet they make my kids grin!

 Gosh, I love eyelet and lace, don't you? The enamel-coated English tin cost $3.50 in a local thrift store. The bit of red peeking out near the bottom is a vintage valance that will find new life as a curtain for my eight foot long front window. The eyelet, a door-curtain maybe?

What's your favourite glamper treasure? Think about it, leave a comment, and in the meantime, I'll just pop over to eBay and have a quick look...

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Bing's First Night At Home

The woman who sold us our trailer last September was kind enough to deliver it to our house and give us a trailer-hitch-to-bumper tour. We peppered her with questions. How do we light the stove? How does the furnace work? What about the fridge? How do we pump the...you know, blackwater? If you're new to glamping and shopping for a little canned ham to call your own, be sure to get the former owner to show you all the inner workings, if you can. Especially if you want to use your glamper right away!

Unfortunately for us, our current vehicle isn't capable of towing a toy wagon, much less a camper, not even one as light as Bing (her GVWR is just over 1950 lbs.). Until we find a sturdier vehicle, Bing won't see any pavement beyond the driveway. That said, we had to test 'er out that first night. While Doug popped out to forage the grocery store for a BBQ chicken, I gathered up some dishes and heated up a pot of soup (I had to play with my new stove!). 

We've never had such fun! 

Bing's pretty tiny at only 11 feet long (not including hitch), but her clever layout suits the four of us plus pooch. And really, Bing's considerably roomier than the little sailboat we're used to, so it's a step up for us, size-wise. The dinette converts into a very cozy double bed (translate: narrow), with two bunks at the front plus the nicely equipped galley. (Do they call kitchens galleys in campers, like in boats?) There's also a nice big closet, and a tiny bathroom too! I'm so glad, because I really hate braving cougars and other wild things to empty my bladder in the night.

The curtains have to go, of course, but even as she is, she's pretty cute, don't you think? 

I never thought it was possible to love a silly little old camper trailer this much. But every time I feel blue, I just look out the window at my driveway and suddenly my shoulders feel a little lighter.

Which is really funny considering how much work she's going to be! 

Saturday, 16 February 2013

How I Found My Bliss

People often ask me how I discovered Glamping. Looking back to last summer, I think the answer is that a whole bunch of things came together at once. I may be indecisive, I can sometimes be impulsive. But once I set my heart on something, there isn't much that can stop me from making my dream come true. Just ask my husband, who is occasionally blindsided by my sudden inspirations. In this case, I'm pretty sure we went from glimmer of an idea to glamper sitting in the driveway in about two weeks. 

How did it all start? 

It was late summer; we'd tent-camped with friends in August for the first time in years and we loved it, although I admit I missed the conveniences (an alcohol stove, soft beds, and a potty) we enjoy in the small sailboat that's been in my hubby's family for over 40 years. Although I adore setting anchor in picturesque little coves, the sailboat can't get us very far. I always joke that it's like travelling by wagon train: agonizingly slow.

I started thinking about hitting the road. Wouldn't it be fun, I thought, to pack up the kids and take a road trip?

So we packed up the kids and took a road trip, up to northern British Columbia to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday with him. The 12-hour drive was miserable! My two-year-old, especially, HATED being strapped into his car seat for so long. We tried to break up the trip with an overnight stay, but the hotel bill was outrageous. 

How I longed for what I like to call "the camping years" of my childhood--kindergarten to grade four--when we moved from northern BC to Idaho to be near my mother's parents. Pretty much every weekend in the summer we'd plop our camper on our truck and take to the road, travelling just a few hours a day, spending the nights in lovely campgrounds and stopping for lunch wherever we liked. Yellowstone Park, Oregon, Nebraska, the Cascades--we traveled all over before we sold the camper, bought a trailer, and moved back to northern BC, living in the trailer until our house was ready to move back into. Once we settled back there we never camped again; my parents said we pretty much lived in a campground (with a lake across the road and everything)--why would we need to camp? But those four camping years shaped me. Wouldn't I love to pass those experiences on to my kids? To re-create those golden years for myself in some small way?

Steeped in this nostalgic mood, I discovered this book by Chris Van Dusen; an instant favourite with the entire family:

"Early one morning at 7:03,
Mr. Magee and his little dog, Dee, 
Packed up the camper and hitched up the load,
Hopped in the Rambler and then hit the road.
They drove to the mountains, far from the sea,
For two nights of camping (or possibly three)."

At the same time, I bought the Summer 2012 issue of Romantic Country, with this article (photo by Kerrie Sanderson):  

Hungry for more eye-candy, I devoured Kerrie's blog. Here was a world I'd never imagined existed, a world of ordinary travel trailers filled with chandeliers, shabby chic curtains, and vintage linens.

And then I saw the latest issue of MaryJane's Farm Magazine on the stands and discovered the world had a name. It was called GLAMPING.

A beautiful idea came into my head. A beautiful dream of me and my family tucking down the highway to some unknown destination, our lovely little cottage-on-wheels in tow. We'd stop where we liked, enjoy homemade meals cooked on a real stove with ingredients kept in a real fridge! We'd sleep in real beds, without having to pay expensive hotel rates. And forget nasty public bathrooms! We could wash the dirt from our adventures off in the sanitary comfort of our own quarters. Best of all? Our little travelling cottage would be so darned pretty. My heart just ached thinking about it.

In a fever, I went online and started hunting.

Eeep! My first few finds were a little more expensive than my (non-existent) budget allowed. I kept looking. By night, I hunted UsedVictoria.com for bargains; by day I started dropping hints. 

Wouldn't it be great to see the country without having to drive long hours or pay for restaurant meals or expensive accommodations? 

Wouldn't it be wonderful to "camp" on land the way we do in our sailboat, with our own potty and everything? 

Hey, did you know you can buy little old trailers pretty cheap? Yep, and they're light, too. We could tow one. I mean, if we traded our Mazda 5 for a little SUV or something. 

Wow, would you look at these magazines...these people have fixed up these old trailers all adorable, see? Wouldn't I just have the time of my life decorating one! Wouldn't we just have the time of our lives travelling around in one of these cuties?

Hey! Guess what I found? A little vintage trailer locally. It's only $2700 and looks in great condition. Wanna go look at it with me? Just for fun. Let's take the kids!

By the time my hubby looked at the trailer with me, he was hooked too. The kids were positively in love. And then we figuratively hooked ourselves up to our new trailer by writing the former owner a cheque. Next thing I knew, this little baby was sitting in our driveway. (Photo by her former owner.)

We call her Bing. Like red, cheerful, summery cherries. The name just popped into my head as soon as I spied her. BING! Just like that. (There's also a little nod to my favourite crooner, Mr. Crosby.) And while she's still wearing her nicely preserved 70s clothes, just wait 'till you see our Bing freshened up with all her new bling. She's not ready yet, but I'm having the time of my life prettying her up.

Oh, yes, she makes me very happy indeed.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

It All Beings With Love....

I fall in love easily. People, places, things...if they're quirky, interesting and a little rough around the edges, I love 'em. This blog, inspired by my attempts to turn my little vintage camper into a glamper, is really about all the things I love. Art, music, travel, vintage anything, and everything handmade. How appropriate that I begin on a day devoted to love!

I'm a vintage junkie. Trailers, linens, dishes, dresses--if they're old and pretty (and cheap!) I can't pass them up. It's an addiction, really. I know you understand, 'cause I bet you're a collector of lovely things too. Well, there's no point collecting things only to tuck them safely away, never to be used, right? Today, I pulled out my stash of pretty linens and mismatched china (including treasured heirlooms passed down from my hubby's grandmother) and set the table for some valentine's fun. The kids awoke to a tea-party breakfast of waffles and fresh fruit salad. Then we washed the dishes and re-set the table for lunch! 

My daughter added her vintage collection of My Little Ponies!

These homemade valentines were quick and simple to make, but will, I hope, become treasured keepsakes for Ariel and Graham.

Valentine's Day just isn't complete without chocolate. Or cinnamon hearts, a childhood favourite for me. Here's a recipe that's fun for kids to help make, and that captures these complimentary flavours perfectly (a tin full of these made the perfect gift for my hubby): 

Chewy Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies

6 tblsp. butter or hard margarine, softened
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
Mix 1/2 tsp. cinnamon with 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl and set aside

Heat oven to 350 degrees F
Spray cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray, or use a silicon baking mat. Beat butter/margarine until creamy. Add brown and white sugars; beat well. Add egg, baking soda, corn syrup and vanilla; beat well. Mix cocoa and flour together, then beat into butter mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until batter is firm enough to shape into 1 inch balls. Roll in sugar/cinnamon mixture and place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. Bake 9-10 minutes, or until cookies are set and tops are cracked. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet onto wire rack.