Category Archives: The Bus



We haven’t shown this area much, throughout the conversion. This is the bunk room, affectionately called Americana (you will see why, in a while). Each of the bunks are 6’2″ long and accommodate 30″ wide mattresses I purchased a couple of years ago. I originally wanted to use all of the space under the bottom bunks for storage, but when we were evaluating where to put the furnaces, this ended up being the perfect stop for the back furnace (I am sure we will be happy to have heaters in both our bedroom and the bunk room. The idea, is to run one of the vents to come out under this bunk and the other one to go through the wall and out through the bottom of the closet in the Master Suite.

I would have finished the bunks up last summer, but the fact that we had a window that wouldn’t go up without falling apart made me nervous. It leaked water through there sometimes and I didn’t want to get all of the beds in, just to have to rip them all out at some point. I purchased some new windows, only to find that they didn’t fit. And the Blue Bird dealer that is near us, didn’t carry any that would. I was feeling really discouraged. Aaron came to my rescue last fall, when I told him why I was procrastinating on putting the bunks together. We bought some silicone and he cut out the old stuff and replaced it with the new stuff. He even took the window across the way out and repaired it, as well. Made me feel so loved!

I loved the way the bead board had turned out in the dining area. And since I had decided to go with the stained wood look throughout most of the bus, instead of whitewashing it all (which had been my original plan back in 2010), I decided to whitewash Americana. I cut some bead board to go over the covered/sealed windows and to cover the wall.

As you can see, it had quite a few holes in it….I tried to cut around these, where I could and filled in what I couldn’t. Hey, couldn’t beat spending $2 for a sheet of bead board that would normally cost around $30!

I installed the bead board with some liquid nails  and a nail gun, then used the clamps to hold in place in areas where it was pulling away.

After both sides were done, I began building the frame for the bottom bunk, using mostly 2x2s, with some 2x4s.

I had Ethan help me with this part.

Then we attached some pieces of oak (the ones I found online for free) on both ends, both sides.

(I know, a lot of pictures, but for those who are visual learners, like myself, you will appreciate it).

I painted the wood and began on the walls. I had been toying with the idea of doing some sort of map on the ceiling, since the beginning of the conversion, but I wanted it to be where the kids could look at it frequently and still not have it get ruined. I love collages, maps, and color. So, I decided to create some sort of art work on each of the walls, that would incorporate each of those elements. We had decided which kids would be sleeping where and I asked each of them where they wanted to visit in the USA over the next few years.

Jamin said California (despite the fact that we have been there many times already). Ethan wants to go by New York (to see the statue of liberty) and Virginia (Mt Vernon for Washington’s home and Monticello for Jefferson’s home).  Luken said he wanted to visit the Alamo. And since the other bunk is technically for Alex, I thought it would be fun to see the area that was the inspiration for The Wizard of Oz (her first name is Dorothy). I divided the four bunks into four regions of the USA (West, Midwest, South, East). I used the maps out of a 2 year old auto atlas and another that was from who knows when.

I added the front-side pieces on, using screws, glue, and braces. Then I used some more of the FREE oak to create the supports across the front.

And added the fronts for the top bunks (1×6 boards), attaching them with L brackets and screws.

All the while, working on the collages. I used Modge Podge to attach the maps and scrap paper. Then applied 6 coats over the top of each collage. I think they are pretty safe from damage.

I attached the bottom fronts to both sides, using some nice ply wood scraps I had left over from walls in other parts of the bus.

I taped off the collages and prepared to paint the wood white.

I was going to use the wood directly under the mattresses, to have access underneath, but when I saw these small doors at the Habitat for Humanity Restore for $1 each, I figured they would work so much better (I made sure to make the frame, so that it would work with the doors).

(One of the many gifts from my little Nature Girl….it dried out beautifully in the warm bus, as I was working on the bunks.)

I know, random.

I measured out and traced the area where I needed to cut for the doors, drilled some starter holes….

and cut….

both holes, for the under bunk storage area. Then, I sanded the dickens out of the wood!

I found a can of flat white paint for $5 and applied 2 coats of paint to all of the remaining wood and the doors.

I distressed the wood and used the antiquing gel (still have half of a can to use on all of my other projects around the house).


Here is a close up of MY favorite collage, the one where both Aaron and I have our places of birth, right next to each other.

We tried to get as many locations of our relatives as we could. Walla Walla, Washington is especially special to us. It is one of the stops in our first trip around the USA as a family. We are excited to finally get a chance to visit Aaron’s brother and family in their hometown. Can’t wait!

And we couldn’t forget Laguna Beach, our family’s beach. Miss that place so much, especially this time of year!

We have family in Ohio and plan on visiting them in a few years.

Here is a close-up of the brackets we used for the fronts of the face of the top bunks. I used screws, nails, liquid nails, and brackets. I think it is safe to say, the supports aren’t moving (I did make it so that we could take it all apart with a screw driver and rubber mallet, in the event of an emergency or if someone wanted to use this area for something entirely different).

Did I mention that I LOVE the way the wash turned out?

The bead board, before and after antiquing.

It adds so much depth and character to an otherwise plain and bland area. I do love plain white, but with kids using this area, I knew it would never stay completely white. Antiquing and distressing is my way of taking away a lot of anxiety.

I had a small piece of laminate left over from the piece I purchased for the bathroom floor. I cut it up to place in the under bed storage (which is where we are storing all of the kids’ shoes, by the way).

Americana step 48

I let Liahona (the name of our bus, for those of you who didn’t already know) sit for a year, because I promised myself I would focus on our home and yard this Summer. Once it began getting cold, I finally went out, to see what we could do to finish up the area. I had Aaron cut the base boards for each of the bunks. It was pretty tricky, getting them in with the frame already in place, but I wanted to be able to remove part of the frame, if we ever had a leak in the wall, without removing the entire thing. I know, it is strange. But Aaron was a good sport and didn’t give me too much grief over my crazy ideas.

Americana step 39

I found these leftover pieces of oak, painted them, and attached them under the base on the window sides. I screwed them into the frames in between the windows and used the nail gun and liquid nails in the area on top of the bead board (because there is still glass behind there). Then I used a couple of L brackets, for reinforcement.

Americana step 40

Voila! And you can see that we took this time to load all of the materials for the rest of the conversion. There is some foam board for the bottom window of the back door, wood for a wall, and a couple of boxes of the hard wood flooring….oh, I am hoping to get to all of it next summer. I am in the process of figuring out a way to finance it right now.

Americana step 41

I still need to clean off the numbers that the previous driver made for marking seating. But that can wait.

Americana step 47

Here is a close up of the electrical splendor in each bunk. I designed it so that everyone could be in their own space and still have access to a light for reading and outlets for charging their devices. We were so grateful to have Rich and his wonderful family stay with us last Summer, while he worked on the electric for us. So thankful to have found all of the new lights for pennies on the dollar. What a blessing!

Americana step 42

You can see that we drilled holes in the bottom bunk bases, to be able to lift them up, should we need to repair the furnace (and for when I run the vents) or get into this area for any other reason. Even though I am done for this season, I have plans to paint a beautiful waving flag on one of the top bunk boards and an eagle on the other…. this is Americana, after all.

Americana step 43

Here is another view of the brackets for the top bunk. Most of the hardware will be hidden by mattresses, when they are put in.

Americana from front of bus

And here is the view from the front of the bus. We cleared all of the tools out and into the garage, vacuumed, and gave her a little wipe down. And Liahona is hibernating….until next Spring.


Bus Conversion 2012


The third phase of our Bus Conversion was from July-September 2012.

Once again, we were without money or resources. We had put our home up for sale and had a few interested people, but because there had been so many foreclosures in our area, everyone wanted to get a great deal…..and leave us with a debt. I had begun a business, Gypsy Essentials, with the sole purpose of creating income for our family, doing what we loved. This took up a lot of my time, so the bus conversion was all but completely stopped.

Until I mentioned how I wish I could finish up the conversion to a group of friends on FaceBook. One of our friends said that her husband wouldn’t mind helping us out with the electrical (this had been a HUGE issue for us…well, read the post to find out). They would be on their way through UT during the summer…..

View from front 7-28-12

By July, Rich was out to our home and had completed in two weeks, what would have taken me a couple of years to figure out. We really enjoyed their family.

view from front 8-2-12

I enjoyed my very first experience with stain……and  A LOT of it!

I worked on getting all of my precious Brazilian cherry wood installed into the bathroom (this was probably one of my most enjoyable parts of the conversion, thusfar…..did I mention how much I love this wood?)

I finished up the Dinettes, as best as I could for now. And I have to say, I was pleased with how they turned out. 🙂

We created a Media Cabinet, where once there was only a mirror and some obnoxious bus paraphernalia.

I finished up the wall directly over the front door….Love One Another.

The boys and I also finished up the Control Cabinet….this one was a doozy!

I figured out a useful purpose for the wall behind the shower….and created a Tea & Spice Cupboard.

We finished up the headboard in the Master Alcove, along with the inside of the Master Closet (MMMmmmmm….cedar!).

Traveling Herbs Complete

And to wrap up the year, we removed the front door handle and created an area for our traveling herbs…..which are resting in our square foot garden, beneath our cold frame right now.

Looking forward to the final (hopefully?) phase of our Bus Conversion. We will be finishing up the plumbing, switching out the front door, installing A/C units, a stackable washer & dryer unit and a refrigerator, hooking up our gas, putting down our hard wood floors (which have been in our garage for the past couple of years), and a myriad of other little steps. Can’t wait for the snow to melt. Until then…..

Pura Vida!


Traveling Herbs


Anyone who has been following our journey from the very beginning, back in May of 2010, knows that I have been trying to figure out a way to  bring some of my herbs along for the ride. You may have also noticed that one of my biggest goals is that of utilizing every inch of space in the bus. And this is what led to the Traveling Herbs project……it all began when I was trying to figure out a spare place to put a few pots. And this is the only area I could find, the dash. I know, it seems a little crazy, but wait until you see the reasoning and the outcome….then tell me it is crazy.

I knew that I would need to replace the bus door before we headed out on our adventure. The idea of not being able to lock up our rig, was enough of a motivation for me to even consider taking on that (future) project. Of course, I didn’t want to actually remove the door, yet, but I began dreaming about this area being the home of our traveling herbs. I was in such a hurry to get as many projects completed before our full-time school schedule began up again (it starts tomorrow), that I was actually in the middle of 3 other projects when I finally decided to begin the traveling herbs. I needed someone who was both capable of the work and still crazy enough to not question my reasoning….

Enter Jamin. 🙂

He was more than happy to disassemble the door mechanism for me. It was such a delight watching him work through the entire process. I allowed him to choose the tools he would use and guided him along the way (taking a break every few minutes to snap shots of his progress).

Jamin got to this point of the process and said he was done. We took off the cover that was on the dash, to see if we could find a way to unscrew this obnoxious piece of steel sticking up. Nope. Nada. I thanked him for all of his work and watched him gloat over his work for the rest of the day. He was so proud of all of his work with tools….and so was I.  Then I set out to find the grinder and buy a couple of cutting discs.

Now that I was feeling brave and wasn’t able to look back, I decided to take off this ugly piece of tape and see what it was hiding…..

Hmmmm…..I definitely didn’t want to keep this broken piece of the dash, with duct tape covering up a gaping hole. I removed it.

Not too difficult to recover. I had no idea what I would use, but wood seemed like a great alternative to what was there.

After breaking both of the cutting discs right off the bat, I asked Aaron to help me cut this beast off with the sawzall……which he did. I ground down the edge that was left over (with my grinding disc) and was ready to see if the salvaged piece of wood, I had been planning on using for the base, would really work.

It fit beautifully, with just a little bit of an area that I would have to figure out a way to cover.

I decided to worry about that area later and pulled in the herbs I had potted up, to see how they would fit….yeah, I was extremely excited to get going on the rest of this project. It was at this time, that I realized that it would be more efficient to have all square pots. The round ones held less dirt and took up more head room. Thank goodness for our local nursery that has a dumpster specifically for recycling pots (both dropping off and picking up used pots)….all of my pots were free. 🙂

SIDESTORY: I had been trying to figure out how to store the herbs on the dash. I had wanted to use some wooden planter boxes that I picked up from IKEA a couple of years ago. I only had 2 containers, so I made a trip to IKEA and was unable to find any..I was extremely sad about it. I googled IKEA planter box and found someone in Missouri who had 7 for sale, at $2 a piece (and they cost $6 a piece new). I was so stoked! I started trying to locate someone who could transport them back to Utah for me and got a hold of the seller. She said they were still available (they had only been up for sale for a couple of days). I found a friend on FB who was considering bringing them out to me, but in the meantime, they were sold to someone else. I was kind of bummed, BUT……in my search for the IKEA planter boxes, I came across a ton of different videos and articles on how to make planter boxes. I knew that if I were to use the planter boxes I was so in love with, I would only be able to fit a few herbs, because they were so bulky. And I want to take as many herbs as possible, so it made more sense to use one large box, instead of several separate boxes. I just had to figure out a way to create a a box that would hold all of my herbs, with a waterproof bottom, and not portrude too high off of the dash….hey, I am getting really good at figuring out ways to make things happen that seem impossible or even crazy. And the idea of being able to cook with our own herbs, wherever we roam, only motivated me that much more.

I spent a while trying to figure out how I would put together the planter box and what materials I would be using. I chose to use the Brazilian cherry wood I had used in the bathroom, in the tea and spice cupboard, and on the headboard in the Dragon’s Lair . Are you surprised? 😉 I rummaged through all of my left over scraps and found several pieces that were at least 5″ long (which was the length I figured I would need for that part of the box).

I cut all of the wood into 5″ pieces.

I got sick of not being able to open the bus door all the way and decided to cut off the edge and begin figuring out what to do with that corner.

I drew a line across the bottom, where the heater was located (and still open….waiting for me to figure out a way to cover it up and make it look decent).

I attempted to cut it in such a way that I could re-use the edge I cut off for the new, angled corner……

I measured in to where the new edge would need to be attached and cut….

It didn’t work out as I had planned, because it was curved on one side and flat on the other. Bummer.

In the end, I had 3 pieces that I had to glue and nail together. I clamped them in place and let them dry for a while. I tried not to let the fact that it looked like Frankenstein get to me. LOL, you’d think I would be used to this part of my projects by now…..the disappointment of having my efforts turn out so different from my plans.

Luken wanted to help me with this part, so I put him in charge of wiping off the pieces of Brazilian wood, after I sanded them down really good.

I hate to admit it, but the droning of the sander became a sanctuary for me, as Luken spent quite a bit of the time explaining his favorite super heroes and their bios…..not that this kind of discussion gets old after hearing it all day long, all week long.

To change the subject, I told him that I needed him to use his multiplication skills to figure out how many pieces I had total……I think we definitely need to work on his memorization. By the way, 3×12=36.  At any rate, he was pre-occupied with math, so I was spared the life story of some random guy from some random planet…..I know it sounds mean, but those of you with kids with Asperger’s totally understand my love. 😉

I rubbed the pieces with mineral oil and began putting them in a varying order.  Then I found a couple of pieces of wood to use for the base attachment.

I had to take them into the bus, where the nail gun was all pressurized and ready to rock. I used wood glue and put each piece together, then I glued the piece of wood and attached it. Finally, I nailed the piece of wood in place, from the backside (which will soon be the inside of the planter box).

I received these plant markers a while ago, from what was left of Aaron’s grandparent’s belongings. His mom knows how much I love this type of thing and she brought them up to me. I decided to use the copper ones and set out to find some more (I only had 10 and I have 16 herbs to label). Lucky for me, our local nursery (J & L Garden in Bountiful) had some and they were 1/2 off because it is the end of the planting season. YAY!

I decided to put the scientific names on the labels, so the kids (and I) would be able to learn them easier.

I put the 4 sides together and figured out where I could put the herb box, and still be able to see the mirrors in the front of the bus.

Then I took the sides and connected them with more wood glue and some L brackets.

I took the planter box and placed it on the base and drew an outline of the inside….

Then I drilled holes in a couple of the corners and used my jigsaw to cut this piece out….with Jamin’s help, of course.

Then I put  alot of wood glue on there (I have learned that you want to have it seep out around the edges….wipe off is always better than not enough to hold tight).

At some point, I sanded the base down to raw….then attached the top of the planter box, with all of the glue and quite a few nails from the nail gun.

On of the perks of working outside, I get a lot of chances to see my little ones in action. Luken was doing such an awesome job of babysitting on this particular day…..Simon loves to ride his bike with the big boys, but I always feel safer when he is on the grass in the backyard. Wheeeeeeeeeeee! 🙂

I had been looking for a way to create a tray for the bottom of the planter, to keep the top of the dash dry and clean. I am not planning on watering the plants in the bus, but when they come back in from being in the sun and being watered, I know they will be a little wet and dirty. I found some 3×4 pieces of sheet metal at Homoe Depot for around $17 a piece, but then I remembered I had my own sheet metal left over from the free pile I had gotten from Matthew a couple of years ago. Yes, it was a MAJOR PAIN IN THE BUTT to cut. But, it saved me around $20 and gave me experience (at least that’s what I keep telling myself. lol).

After cutting a piece that would be an inch wider all around, I snipped out the corners and asked Ethan to bend it into shape….

He used some pliers and needle-nose pliers to mend and smooth the edges.

What a goof!

Here is the first attempt at getting the edges bent up and ready to attach the connectors….there were at least 20 attempts. Ethan gave up after the first 15 and I proceeded to trim a little of the edge and reattach the connecting sleeves. The sleeves cost us around $10 altogether.

While Ethan had been working on the metal tray liner, I had completed the top of the planter box with a few pieces of free wood I had picked up along the way. I drilled some holes down through the top of the steel dash and attached the base with a few screws, then covered them with wood filler. To seal the wood,  I rubbed this entire area down with mineral oil. I decided that I didn’t want to mess with any of the other wood sealers available, where our culinary herbs would be resting.

I finally had the tray down to the size it needed to be, although it is extremely tight. Once we get the electrical wire underneath removed, I will put the tray back in and use a ton of waterproof silicone to seal the connections and especially the corners.

And here is an idea of what this area will look like, once the herbs are in place and ready to roll. Right now they are all sitting outside the front of the bus, enjoying the last of the summer sunshine. Notice how much room the IKEA planter boxes take up in comparison to the planter box I built? So glad I had to think outside the box. 😉

With the planter box complete, I had some time to figure out what I was going to be doing with the ugly corner near the doorway.

I found some leftover wood paneling (that I had picked up for free, as well) and cut it to fit in this area. By removing some of the screws that were holding the metal in place, drilling coordinating holes into the wood paneling, and attaching the same screws through the top of the paneling, I could keep the paneling flush with the front of the metal face AND avoid drilling into anything not visible from the surface….that would have been a big no no. 😉 It took a little bit of time and measuring, but it turned out quite lovely.

I had used some liquid nails on the back of the first piece of paneling, and I attached a couple of pieces of wood (more scraps of my Brazilian cherry wood….don’t worry, they were the ugly pieces. They just happened to be the perfect height for this area, 3″) with liquid nails. I let it sit overnight and prayed that it would be strong enough to hold up.

It was more than sturdy enough. YAY! I attached another leftover piece of paneling, using liquid nails and using the original screws from the area.

Then I created a template out of cardboard for the top of this area. I used the wood from the piece I had cut out of the center of the base and kept cutting and sanding until it fit nice and snug in this area. The end result made me smile.

For those of you wondering, the dash on a school bus is important to keep clear, but there are a couple of mirrors that face down in the front of the bus that enable one to see better than even looking out of the windshield. I will definitely need to keep my taller herbs closer to me and the shorter ones in front of the mirrors, but continual cutting of the herbs will also be a great way to keep this area clear. I put the herbs down inside of the base for 2 reasons: 1) to give me more head room for seeing over them and 2) to  make them more stable, should we ever have to stop quickly.

I think the herbs will look much better than this silly contraption….after all, we aren’t going to be picking up kids every few minutes, along our path….we’ll just be picking up memories. 😉 Can’t wait to get started on the door. I have 2 different doors that I have been storing in the garage. Just need to get up the courage and find a good dry weekend to work on that project.

Pura Vida!


Dragon’s Lair Headboard & Closets


Not a lot had been done back in the Master Suite (which we now refer to as The Dragon’s Lair) since we finished up the closets and mini bunks last year. Now that I had the electricity added, I began to finish the headboard and closets up. I had been vacillating between closing up the top of the headboard and keeping books there or keeping the plan to put a 32″screen tellie there…..eventually the idea of being able to relax and watch dvds won the debate and it is official, the area above the headboard will be for as large a screen as we can fit there.

Here is the wood I used for the wall above the headboard, a leftover piece that had been cut out from one of the many overhead cupboards.

I left this part of the wall raw, so that I can someday paint a beautiful dragon on there. It will be my gift to my Dragon. 🙂

Originally, I had removed the shelves, to fit the headboard into the alcove and also to make an area for storing our laptops. I was going to create a front and attach doors, etc……but I realize now that I can store laptops in the upper cabinets in the alcove, if I really want to. I decided to keep this area open and began looking through my wood pile, for some wood to use for shelves. That was when I came across the original shelves. I cut them to size, sanded them down to raw wood, and stained them with my favorite stain, gunstock. I also removed the door to the little cabinet on the headboard, sanded and stained it, as well.

I attached a side to the headboard and used my natural Miniwax stain on all of the wood I hadn’t just stained with the gunstock. This took care of  all of the scratches and dents and gave it that fresh look I was hoping for.

I needed a piece of wood to cover the top of the headboard, to hide the wiring that runs back there. I wanted this headboard and the cabinets to be very colorful and eclectic, so I found some of the leftover Brazilian cherry wood to line the top. I glued, nailed, and clamped it overnight. It didn’t go completely flush in a couple of areas, but it is still beautiful to look at.

I bought some new brushed nickel hinges for the cabinet door, to match the rest of the hardware. And this is an example of what a picture taken in low light will look like…..yeah.

I was going to wait a while to finish up the inside of these 2 closets, as the aromatic cedar I wanted to use, costs around $32 a box and I figured it would take at least 2 boxes, but probably closer to 3 boxes. It just so happened that I had a friend who donated $20 to our bus conversion. Thanks, Rebecca! I also sold the bath faucet for another $10….so I was able to purchase a box of cedar and begin to finish up the closet. I wanted to at least get the cedar around the bottom of the closet installed, so that I could cut out a piece of plywood for the bottom of the hanging closet. We had to put the bottom of the closet up about 10 inches, as the port to the fuel tank rises up out of the floor of the bus there.

After much consideration (and a look at my bankbook), I decided that the back of the closet didn’t need to be cedar and cut a couple of pieces of plywood and installed them.

It was my first time using the miter saw and box on the conversion. It was a great reminder of how electricity has created a life of ease for us all….the delicious smell of cedar was all that kept me going on this part of the conversion. I ran in and out of the bus over 150x (easy) in one afternoon, cutting off 1/8″ – 1/4″ most of the time, trying to get a nice, tight fit. Tee. Dee. Us. 😉

The plywood I used to line the closet was just there to give me someplace to attach the cedar, as this area was once 2.5 windows and nailing into windows isn’t very fun.

I know it is difficult to see how beautiful these closets are, thanks to the poor quality of these pics. I wish I could have put some cedar over the electrical boxes on the right, but I couldn’t get the wires to go flush with the wall, so I am stuck looking at them, as they are. This closet will be chock-full of clothing, once we head out, so I am sure it won’t bother me then.

While I was in the middle of working on the closet, we received a settlement for the auto accident Alex was in . Aaron’s car was totaled. Which thoroughly sucked. But we were able to pay off some of our outstanding bills, I was able to get my passport renewed, and I purchased an MLS for $250. I also was able to purchase another box of cedar and a few other items needed for the conversion.

Stunning! (wish the pics I took were as stunning as the wood is in person) I cannot express how much I love aromatic cedar. Not only does the scent remind me of our annual camping trips to Yellowstone National Park from my childhood, but it is also eye candy. I love wood. Cedar is definitely my favorite. Yes, I love it  more than the Brazilian cherry wood I adore so much.

While I was installing the the cedar into the closet, I realized that I was going to use less than the 2 boxes of cedar I had bought….which caused me to think of all of the other places I could install my favorite wood. I put a couple of pieces above the headboard. We decided that we will definitely be attaching the tellie we get for this area into the cherry wood and top of the headboard, not the wall.

I also lined the little cabinet and the bottoms of the shelves with the cedar. YUM! 🙂

It is so beautiful, despite all of the imperfections that go along with a complete amateur’s journey through woodworking. LOL

I cut out the bottom of the closet and VOILA! A closet! A closet, full of yummy scents and colors. I was so thrilled to be able to complete and check off another thing off of my list of projects to complete on the bus!

I read up on cedar and found that it deters/repels moths, mice, and termites. Yay!

And this is a glimpse of what the outside of the clothing storage area looks like now. We have one large hanging closet, two deep/tall file cabinets, and a deep closet above these. If we do find that we need more room, we will use the upper cabinets that are above the Dragon’s Nest (our queen bed). The plan is to get down to 8 summer outfits, a Sunday outfit per male, a couple of skirts and blouses per female, and a few pairs of jeans and long sleeved shirts per person. I will keep coats and mittens in a storage container under our bed, just in case we end up somewhere cold….which will hopefully be never.

Notice the cute little wooden knobs I finally added to the doors? I picked them up from a guy who was selling a ton of hardware for a few dollars, a year ago. What a deal! There were only 15 of them, otherwise I would have used them in the galley and head. I absolutely adore them! I put them on all of the doors back in the Dragon’s Lair (and there are a few to store, just in case these ones get broken……not that this kind of thing would ever happen in our home. lol).

Here is our PC monitor that we were trying to figure out storage for, while we are on the road….we may just end up using it with our laptops, to watch dvds in our room. This is a 24″ screen. We could easily fit a 32″ screen in here…..we’ll see where we stand on funds, once we actually sell our home. 😉

No matter what the size of the television, I am stoked to have an area for Aaron and I to watch movies late at night, in the comfort of our Dragon’s Lair. Or a place to have the little ones watch a movie, while we are up front playing cards or chatting with friends. Can’t wait! 🙂

Pura Vida!


The Tea & Spice Cupboard


This is the wall behind the shower, in the galley, right across from the oven/stove. I decided I would like an extra cupboard for storing our teas and spices, rather than a bath faucet located lower down on the shower wall. I removed the used faucet that had been installed (and just sold it for $10 to a very grateful man who was thrilled that I had posted it, as he had been searching for one for a few weeks) and pulled the piping out of the way until I can afford to have a plumber finish up the job that was never finished. The piping will go straight up to the top of the wall and then over, to the shower head and handle. That is how I originally wanted it, but the plumber we hired a couple of years ago didn’t wait to see what I wanted, just installed it the way he thought it should be……another post, altogether. lol

I used some more of the beadboard I had left over for the inside of this cupboard, to go along with the decor of the rest of the dining area. Hey, the paint, glaze, and beadboard are already paid for. Why not?

I painted and glazed the beadboard….of course.

The 2x4s lining the sides of the cupboard would have been just fine to keep, as is, if it weren’t for the obnoxious holes that had been cut for the plumbing and some of the electricity….

I cut a couple of pieces of pretty wood paneling and attached them to both sides. Then, for the shelves, I decided to use some of the Brazilian cherry wood. I still can’t believe how far this wood has gone….and it is so beautiful with some sanding and a little mineral oil rubbed on it! It turned out SO lovely here, I was tempted to leave this cabinet open, without a door, but when I remembered that the top 2 shelves couldn’t accommodate dowels across them, I gave up on that idea.

I brought out some of the herbs and spices we use (before I began nailing and screwing in the shelves)….and our teas, of course. We love our teas! I wanted to make sure the shelves would be the correct height to work with them. I was going to put some dowels across the front of the shelves (I still might do this), so I built them large enough to work with dowels attached in the plywood I found for the wall (except the top 2 rows…hindsight is always 20/20).

You can’t tell me that these don’t look lovely all cozy next to each other in the wall!

Can you tell I have been missing hot cocoa (I am off of processed sugars this year…just as part of an experiment). Thank goodness for so many  yummy chocolate teas to drink!

I had just completed this part of the Tea & Spice Cabinet when I emerged from the bus to find my 3 little monkeys, swinging together on the swingset…..happy as could be.

I was reminded of how simple the true pleasures in life are.

And how children understand this better than we adults do (even now, as I am looking at this precious photo of my little ones, there is a part of me that is noticing the grass that needs to be pulled out of the woodchips) ….

I will be honest with you, there is a HUGE part of me that misses hanging upside down on a swinging bar.

I waited for the weekend, to have Aaron help me maneuver the 3/4″ piece of plywood around and cut the wall. He was very helpful and even seemed a little happy to help….for a brief moment. LOL I have to say, despite the hard time I give him about not wanting to help out when it comes to the bus conversion, he is amazing at picking up the house and taking care of meals while I am out here in the bus, working my buns off. He has accepted the fact that I will be spending most of my time working on the bus conversion (especially now that we are in a situation where we need to sell our home and have a place to live afterwards).  And I have finally accepted the fact that he loathes woodworking, construction, etc. of any kind. We both know what we enjoy doing and we have learned to accept our differences, this is part of what makes our marriage functional (and real…..and divine….).

This is the wall attached, with one of the light switch to the dinettes, an outlet, and the opening for the Tea & Spice Cupboard. I used 4 screws to secure it to the wall for now. Once I have enough funds to pay a plumber to finish up the plumbing, I will remove the wall and then attach it after I install the new wooden floors (which I am really looking forward to). I will have to cut an extra inch off of the bottom (forgot about that part). This way, if we ever need access to the plumbing behind the shower, it will be a breeze to take off this wall to get in there.

Here is the door attached and open….

then closed. We bought a handle to put on it, but I don’t know if I will attach it. I will wait until I attach the door clasp that holds the door shut, to see if it is difficult to get open without a handle, before I drill a couple of holes and attach the handle. As you can imagine, moving around in an RV is tight and we need all of the space we can get around this area of the bus. This is right where the sink/oven/bathroom/fridge are located. Even a simple decision on whether or not to have a pull on a door can make a huge difference.

I was so thrilled to finally have this area completed, despite the fact that I don’t have the plumbing done. Because it is such a lovely little cupboard, I almost wanted to keep my teas and spices out here, just for the pure enjoyment of coming out to see the cupboard each time I need to use them….but I didn’t. I will have to wait to head out on our adventures before I get to that point. I look forward to taking some of our favorite teas along for the journey, as well as picking up some along the way….just a few of life’s little joys.

Joy. That is what this bus conversion is aimed at accommodating, a way for our family to continue following our dreams of traveling, of writing and creating art to share with the world and support our family. Some days I get so wrapped up in the tedious and frustrating work that has to be done, that I forget to take time to enjoy the journey and find joy along the way. One of my favorite quotes (it is on the desktop of my laptop right now) is:

“Happiness is a journey….not a destination.” ~Matt Sweetland

What are you doing to help you to enjoy the journey, wherever it may lead? 🙂

Pura Vida!


The Control Cabinet


This is the converter we ended up having to purchase last month (the used one I had bought online a couple of years ago, failed to work). All of our electricity is ran through the converter, both the 110 and the 12v.  This means that the converter has both fuses and breakers in it. We will be hooking the generator and solar panels up to this little baby, once we get them. I wanted the converter near the front of the bus, so that we could have it close to where we will eventually have our generator (under the bus and about 6 feet back from here) and where our solar power will be set up (right above this area, behind the front AC unit). I also wanted to be able to have a cabinet with easy access to our power source, with some emergency items in an area near the front door  (for roadside emergencies, etc.). In the cupboard above the converter seemed like the perfect place for these. And that is how the Control Cabinet came to be.

Rich, our friend who ran the electricity a month or so ago, asked me how I wanted to set up the cabinet. While he was here, I began boxing in the converter and he was sweet enough to put the piece of plywood up for the switches, while I was gone one afternoon. I knew how I wanted this cabinet to function, but didn’t know exactly how it would look. This part of the conversion was quite a PITB, as you will soon see….

I began by using the free piece of beautiful knotty alder beadboard I had gotten from a fellow who was selling remnants of wood online. The piece was only 6 ft tall by 18in wide, so I used a piece on either side of the dinettes and attached it. I then cut a piece of plywood to rest on top of the converter, which also created the bottom of the cupboard.

I cut some beautiful pieces of wood paneling to go on the back of each of these dinettes.

They turned out pretty well…don’t you think? The streetside back isn’t actually complete in this picture, but it has the same wood as the curbside back.

I began staining (with polyurethane).

As much as I love the way raw wood looks, I have learned to appreciate the fact that stain/sealer brings out the beauty of the grain in just about any wood there is….so lovely.

I built up the frame and was moving along quite nicely….

Found a nice piece of paneling for the right side and measured to figure out where the switches and outlet would need to come through. Then I drilled holes and cut the openings with my jigsaw.

I really struggled to get the outlets through the openings and tried to pull the converter out to see if I could get behind the outlets (to loosen up the wires and adjust the screws that pull up the little levers which hold each outlet in place). That was when I realized that I had made a great mistake…..I hadn’t realized that the converter would only adjust out a little way (around an inch). Not only would I not be able to reach behind the outlets and switches to adjust them, but also whomever needed to work on the electricity in our bus in the future, wouldn’t be able to access behind the converter at all. I called Rich, who told me exactly what I had already confirmed, the converter wouldn’t come out very far. The funny part of it all? When planning for the face that would go over the middle of the cabinet, I actually had it in my mind that I would need to cut 2 holes, one for the converter and one for the door to the cupboard on top. Doh! haha

As much as I hate undoing hard work, I knew that it would come back to bite me in the rear, if I left it as is. I tried to keep the frame in tact, as much as possible. Then I removed the bottom of the cupboard and cut a hole in it.

I sanded around the edges of both the opening and the piece I had cut (as it would now serve as a door for access to the backside of the converter, when I was done). I cut a few pieces of some wood paneling and attached each piece around the edge of the opening, on the back (or underside, as it would be, once I put this bottom back in).

I reassembled the top frame and put a piece of 1/2″ plywood on the top, but realized I had cut it too short.

No problem, Ethan is an expert at creating templates!

In no time at all, he had whipped up a template that looked better than any I could have made and we cut out a lovely piece of 1/2 paneling for the top of the cabinet. I also cut out the left side of the face and attached it, making sure I had a hole for the switch that goes to the front porch light.

I also made sure that the cord to the little squid that acts as a triple dc plug made it through the top of the cabinet.

Then I cut the front panel, making sure it would fit (in the shape of a horseshoe) over the converter. I cut another piece to go underneath this piece and even attached the door (still needing to be stained). And did you notice the cute little phone charging box that I picked up from the thrift store for $2? I know it looks kind of ragged right now, but just you wait! 😉

I sanded the corners down until they were all nice and rounded. This was an interesting way of melding the 3 pieces together. I am sure there is a more eloquent way of doing this part, but this worked for me….for today.

After I finished sanding the edges, I filled in the holes with wood filler.

I also stained the door (along with a few others I had somehow missed in my big week of sanding, staining, and satisfying my creativity).

It was turning out better than I was anticipating earlier that day. I know what you are thinking, my woodworking skills are seriously lacking and this cabinet is probably not very impressive to anyone but myself and some of my kids. You are right! Considering the fact that I have a limited amount of tools and my experience includes working in a cabinet shop for a week, reading books, and watching youtube videos, I think my work is…..passable. 😉

I used polyurethane on the rest of the cabinet and attached the phone charger hub (see what a little bit of contact cement can do to make it look all spiffy?) to the top of the cabinet. Then I pulled the squid inside of the phone hub and VOILA.!

Here is what ended up in the roadside-emergency cupboard: 3 triangles (for putting on the side of the road, should we have an emergency pull-off), a tow cable (the same one we used when I accidentally backed the bus off of a hill in Missouri), a first aid kit (notice it still reads Bus 19, both the triangles and first aid kit came with the bus), and a large maglight.

And here is what is inside of our cute little phone hub, the amazing squid….for charging phones, mp3 players, and laptops while we are in motion. Isn’t it cute?

And this is where my keys will probably reside, when we are at home….in the bus (with a lot less keys on the ring, I hope). So nice to finally have another cabinet complete….what a busy month I have had!  Can’t wait to show you what I have been up to this past week…..I will be sure to publish my next post, on the Tea & Spice Cupboard, soon. You are going to love it! I know I do. 🙂

Pura Vida!


Love One Another


Anyone who has been in an RV can tell you that there is not a whole lot of wall space. Pictures and decorations are very limited, because of this fact. Despite a lot of well-laid plans for the design of our RV, we are still going to be going from a 3400 sf home with oodles of wall space, down to a 210 sf bus with very little, if any wall space. For this reason, I have decided to be very particular about what I hang on the walls, especially since most of the items I hang will be somewhat permanent.

Here is the area above the front door. You can see that there was just enough room for something to be arranged there. The question was, What? I realized that this would be the area where we would be leaving the comfort and security of our home on wheels to venture out into the world every day, so I wanted it to be something that would have a great impact on us all. I decided that it would probably be a quote of some sort that I would hang above this door. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love quotes, and I began searching through them all, trying to find one worthy of this location. Most of them were too long to fit on this small area….I continued looking.

The other day, I took Aaron to Deseret Industries (a local thrift store) for part of our date night (yeah, I am that kind of gal). While we were there, I came across this lovely hand painted wall plaque. While I have never been into the 80’s hues of mauve and slate blue, I absolutely felt certain that the very best quote our family could encounter every day would be the most important one ever recorded in the history of the world, Love One Another. What a profound and direct commandment we have been given. And so simple, just three little words. The person who was quoted as saying this? Jesus. Who better to quote and what an important thing to remember, as we are traveling the world and meeting all sorts of new neighbors along the way. I bought the plaque (for a whopping $2) and brought it home.

I let it sit for a couple of days, trying to figure out exactly what sort of changes I wanted to make. I decided to sand away the entire painting above the quote. As much as I adore both flowers and berries, with limited space, this painting needed to have a far more powerful message than what a few pieces of nature could represent. I sanded it down as best as I could and began searching through all of the images in my mind of what Love One Another looked like to me. I sat down one evening to watch a movie with the family and this is what I came up with…….

I am happy to say that it turned out exactly as I had hoped. I am an amateur artist (as is clear to be seen. lol), but my whole heart went into this painting, as I knew it would be a very important focal point for us all. While I was preparing the wall where it would be hung, I had it resting inside the Media Cabinet.

If I wasn’t planning on getting an awesome television at some point, I would definitely have put this there instead.

When I put it next to the dining room curtains I created last year (still need to apply the shade cloth to these curtains……maybe in a couple of weeks), I was happy to see that it went along perfectly with all of the wild colors I love so much. 🙂

I found a leftover piece of this gorgeous plywood from the wall with the Tea & Spice Cupboard I finished up last week (which I can’t wait to share with you later this week) and cut it down to size. I attached it to the steel wall with some liquid nails and 4 screws (that were secured directly underneath where the plaque would reside). I applied some natural stain over it and was so pleased with the grain that popped out.

And here is the finished wall, with a beautiful message for everyone who will ever venture into our lovely new home…..Love One Another. Couldn’t have said it more perfectly myself. With the presidential election coming up in the next few months, I have begun to notice a lot of separation and even anger developing between friends and even families. With all of the differences of opinions, values,  beliefs, and even tastes, we are bound to have conflict, it is a part of human nature. But let us not forget this important message. Let us agree to disagree, to respect one another’s views, and not allow our differences to create a wedge that divides us. Our love for one another is the glue that binds us all together, not only as a great nation, but as a human race. Whether you are a believer and follower of Christ, a Buddhist, of another religion or faith, or even an atheist, I think we all believe that this message is the most important one of all, don’t we? 😉

Pura Vida!