Category Archives: Harvey the RV (Two)

September6 — My love affair with paint. 


I have always been a DIY home-decorator. I inherited the stubborn “I Can Do It Myself” attitude from my mother who always redecorated our homes by herself with great skill. She wallpapers, paints, and does almost any craft you can imagine (and does it very, very well).

So, it is only natural that I would want to paint my RV. Completely. In any color other than beige. (Oh, how I hate beige.)  Maybe EVERY color, other than beige. 

However, I have one big problem: I am allergic to traditional paint. Four years ago, I was still able to use latex paint, as long as it was extra super duper NON-toxic. But even that was hard for me because latex primers are not generally available in NON-VOC. (And before you suggest that xyz major paint company has a “good” paint, I am also very picky about the quality of paint, and xyz paint company just was not good enough. Plus, I still had trouble with the primers.)

So, I started researching alternative paints, and I found something called “chalk paint.”  It sounded too good to be true: no fumes, no primer, no negatives at all!  I got lucky and found a distributor in Asheville, NC, who offers classes for trying out this paint. (We just happened to be in Asheville when I was researching. All distributors of this paint seem to offer the classes.)

Molly and I took the class. I brought a cabinet door from the RV, and she brought a little wood shelf from her bedroom.  The paint was indeed as amazing as it sounded!  The smell was not offensive, and the process was ridiculously simple. Seriously, this paint dries in less than two hours!  I was sold and immediately bought enough paint to do our tiny bathroom. 

The magical paint is Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Check out their website for workshops and stores near you.

It seemed like a good idea to start with the smallest room.  

Wrong!  It ended up being extremely challenging to paint a 12 square foot room. Further complicated by my wanting to do an ombré painting technique. In spite of all of the obstacles, it was very rewarding.

  • I learned that I can be totally enclosed in a tiny space with this paint without any ill effects. 
  • The paint exceeded my expectations: A tiny bathroom shared by five people for nearly three years, with minimal need for touch-up painting. (see a future blog post)
  • You don’t need a primer or any special surface preparation. Really. Nothing. I was dubious, so I lightly sanded the pretend-wood cabinets, and I washed all the walls with vinegar and warm water. A little soap on the walls by the sink … Probably all overkill. 
  • The paint dries super fast and can be recoated in about two hours!  I am generally very nervous with painting living spaces, though, so I wait 12-24 hours between coats.  It takes about three coats of paint for even coverage, but when it dries that fast, who cares?? If you slightly water down the paint, it is easier to work with, and it lasts a little longer. 
  • I painted all materials with the same paint: cheap laminated wood cabinets, door, trim, weird wallpaper walls, metal cabinet hardware, plastic electrical outlet and light switch, cheap metal light fixture, and some metal washers and bolts from our RV remodeling. (structural support for bunk room cabinets)  The only surface showing wear after nearly three years is the light switch!
  • The best part? You don’t have to worry about brush strokes. In fact, it works best if you are sloppy. Kids are really good at this paint technique. (A little watered down, but not too much or it will dribble down the walls.)

There are some negatives, of course, but they are not deal-breakers. 

Finish: it has a chalky matte finish, sort of like a chalk board. (I think you can actually use it as a chalk board, but that is not its intended purpose.) To make the finish more durable, you apply a wax and buff it off a few hours later. Additional coats of wax makes it more shiny and protected. (I did three coats of wax, 12-24 hours apart in my bathroom, knowing my daughters would be splashing the walls with water, toothpaste, and soap. It has survived everything except glitter nail polish.)

The wax is a bit fumey, but it did not trigger any reactions. I wear non-latex gloves to apply it with Tshirt scraps. 

Cost: It is more expensive than xyz paint. But if you are painting an RV, you don’t actually need much paint!  Plus, I was personally willing to sacrifice in other places in order to paint my home. 

Next blog post: Updated Pictures of the Bathroom and Projects 2 and 3!


I hate sloppy things.



These pillows from Ikea have always annoyed me. The cases are loose enough that the opening always flops open, and the black color was just a mistake!  They attract hair and dust and don’t even look clean when they are washed.  As a result, I frequently just want to throw them out.  I definitely didn’t want to buy more Ikea pillow cases for them.


So, when the girls selected this silky robe to purge from their ginormous dress-up collection, it just screamed “pillow case!” Although it is hard to tell in this photo, I made the opening in the center of the back and with a really wide overlap.  I also made it a little smaller than the original, so that the pillow would have more ooomf and less floppiness.  Hooray!  The pillow doesn’t flop open anymore!

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So, I started digging through my collection of random outgrown clothing to find the next pillowcase.  Molly stole the first tshirt I selected:  Happy Bunny saying “make the stupid people shut up!”  Hopefully, I don’t regret letting her wear that in public … Then, I found this really funky thrift shop dress that someone made.  I can not resist home made clothes in thrift stores – nothing is too funky.  But this one didn’t fit me, so it needed a new use.

I had to disguise the raw edge first, and I only have a serger sewing machine.  Fortunately, the dress had a strap that was a little narrow for the job, but it works.  Again, a really large overlap and the flap is in the middle of the back.  Two more seams, and it is done!  A little smaller than the red one, but that doesn’t bother me … much …


End product:  who wouldn’t want a pillow with pockets?  I tie dyed the bolster pillows in December, and I’m using this Ikea duvet as a short term solution for a couch cover.  The greens aren’t the same, but I think it works.

Now, I just have to find some fabric for the third pillow, and also a second set of 3 pillow cases for when these need to be washed … I’m contemplating something with old tshirts …

Color makes me happy


These are the colors of the kids’ bunk room.  More pictures  on SmugMug.


Leaves of Spring
Andes Sky
Fun Yellow
Bunny Fluff


While I’m talking paint, the paint I adore the most is from Green Painter in Houston, Texas. Their paint covers beautifully, dries quickly, and most of all, the paint fumes don’t make me sick! The semi gloss I used for the trim is a lovely sheen. You can find them at In this picture, the paint on the left is from Sherwin Williams. It was “ok” – but I prefer their Harmony paints. And, overall, I prefer Green Painter!


Closet ReDo #3 … or maybe #4 …


Yet again, I decided that the closet was still not functioning optimally.  I have been stalking Home Depot and Lowes for closet shelving ideas for months.  I finally stumbled upon something at Lowes this week – it doesn’t use the vertical brackets, so in theory, I figured I could install it on the wonky walls in the closet.  The left and right closet walls are perpendicular, but the back wall is angled up and down and left and right, to fill in the void created by the nose of the RV.  I am glad to have the extra space, but I have been continually trying to modify the space because it is so wonky and nothing pre-fab works.

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Left – Before

Right – After.  The wire shelves are each installed at a different angle because the back wall of the closet is totally wonky.  I photoshopped the pictures a little to help understand.  There are 4 rows of shelves:

1 – black – a previous installation, attached to the original closet rod

2 – pink – 3′ long 12″ wide – hung upside down so the edge can hold things on the shelf (I hope)

3 – yellow – 4′ long 20″ wide – hung parallel to the front edge of the closet.  To the right, is 14″ of rod space for Phil’s work clothes.  Still need to put his suit in there.

4 – green – 4′ long 12″ wide – hung upside down, also.  This shelf is on special brackets that are designed to hang a shelf at an angle to hold shoes – since the wall is angled, the end result is “nearly” horizontal.

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Left – empty closet

Middle – First shelving installed.  (Blue) Left closet wall.  (Red) Closet floor.  (Yellow) 20″ shelf.  (Green) Angled lower shelf

Right – full closet

More photos are on SmugMug

Oregon to Texas, February 2013



HarveyTwo has brought us back to Texas!  It was a long trip, with lots of interesting detours.  Phil has returned to work, which is hard for us all, but it is necessary.  I am having trouble thinking of Houston as “home”, but it is familiar and warmer … I hope to have the kids write about some of their impressions next week, when “school” resumes. More pictures can be seen at SmugMug

February 10:  After a long day of last-minute preparations, a last-lunch from Burgerville, and lots of rearranging, we finally pulled out of Sandy Riverfront RV Park in Troutdale, which we had called home since June 2012.  We drove to Eugene, Oregon, where we spent the night.

feb11sunset2February 11: Lunch for the road was fresh-fruit-salad-in-a-jar.  We drove west to Highway 101, where we had breathtaking views of the coast.  We stopped at Turtle Rock, Oregon, where we stayed for two nights in a nice RV park on the coast.

February 12: We learned about “sneakers” and “seastacks” and played horseshoes.  We all got wet feet when the sneakers snuck up on us while we walked on the beach, but Molly actually fell in a wave!  It was COLD, but we mustered the courage to keep walking and admiring the views.  The park hosted a Mardi Gras party, which seems really ironic to us Texans.  They ruined the gumbo, though, with the addition of critters we don’t eat, so the kids only got to eat dessert!

February 13: We said farewell to Oregon.  Weeks of angst about crossing the California border were dismissed instantly when we crossed without even stopping.  (I was worried about what they might think of our worm-bin.)

feb13redwoods3We stopped at a Ranger Station in Crescent City, where we got quick advice about how to see the most while towing a big trailer.  We drove out to the beach in Crescent City for more spectacular seastacks and found the local hangout for sea lions before heading further south for the Redwood National Forest.  When we got our first views of the Giant Redwoods, I was impressed.  They are truly as awe-inspiring as I had hoped, and our monster truck was indeed dwarfed by the trees.  The forest is wet and quiet and just “feels” ancient.

February 14:  We drove to Eureka for the afternoon to meet up with an online friend of mine.  The kids got to run around a great playground for feb15hikedownawhile, which was definitely good for them.

Feberuary 15:  We decided to go for a walk before we left.  It was a LOT further than we anticipated, but it was fun – at least for the grownups.  We walked to what we thought was a “beach access”, but it was only a scenic overlook.  The cliff was steep, but a trail taunted us, so we investigated.  When we got to the bottom of the hundreds of steps, we found a rather primitive “ladder” that seemed to have been beaten by the tides into a very unstable position.  After lots of complaining that it was “not fair”, we finally convinced the kids that we had to return to the top without going all the way down to the tidal pools.  (I did test out the ladder, and it was just a little too unsteady to attempt with the kids.  Maybe 20 years ago, but not today.)  That night, we stayed at an RV park that was at the top of a hill – a dark, twisty, narrow road led us there.  If we hadn’t been so tired, it would have been a good place to explore.

February 16: We drove south through beautiful places and across the Golden Gate Bridge.

feb17February 17:  Bare feet and sandals! We arrived at Orangeland to find ripe oranges and grapefruit on the trees.  What a difference from Portland, in only seven days.

February 18:  Annie was responsible for finding something new to do in Los Angeles.  All she wanted to do was go to Hollywood – again – which really didn’t appeal to me, but this was a long trip anyway, so we needed to do something the kids wanted to do.  She found a historical ship, the Queen Mary, for us to visit.  It took us about two hours to get there, due to an unfortunate accident of BOTH parents forgetting their wallets.

feb18submarine2We did finally get to see the ship, including its gigantic engines and propellors and fascinating history as both a cruise ship and a military transport.  Adjacent to the ship is a Russian submarine, that we toured, as well – Molly left her puppy Ruby by the periscope, causing another MAJOR drama for the day.

February 19:  Happy Birthday to Molly!!  We celebrated with a trip to Hollywood Boulevard, where she was serenaded by a girl-band recording a music video.  We went to the Guinness World Record Museum, which was hokey but amusing.  Part of the Boulevard was closed, preparing for the Oscar ceremony (“not fair” that we were there on the wrong day).  We finished the day at a very enjoyable ramen restaurant in Los Angeles – Orochon.


February 20:  We drove east through fields of windmills.

February 21:  Arizona

February 22:  We arrived in Las Cruces, New Mexico and were greeted by a centipede.  For the next three days, Zoe was petrified to walk outside the RV, for fear of the “spiky thing.”  Our RV park was down the road from the dealership where we found HarveyTwo, 10 months ago.

23febsand1February 23:  At last, we reached White Sands, a destination that had intrigued me since our return from Calgary, in the fall of 2011.  We watched the movie in the Ranger Station and bought the obligatory sleds before driving to the dunes.  Again, my breath was taken away by the splendor of nature.  We climbed the hills of cold sand, under the perfect blue sky.  Molly and Zoe had the most fun with the sleds, but they preferred just rolling down the hills.  Annie, Phil and I each tried it, but it was anticlimactic.  We took dozens of photos, which we will put online soon.  We chatted with some horse-riders, who had been riding in the sands all day long.  I have never seen such sweaty tired horses!  As the sun set over the mountains, even Annie didn’t want to leave.

February 24:  Weather kept us in Las Cruces for one more day.  Windstorms were just not a thing we wanted to endure with our trailer.  We spent a couple hours hunting for Geocaches instead and relaxed.  If you have never heard of Geocaching, it is like a treasure hunt, following clues and GPS coordinates that are posted on a website.  We found four, and we rather enjoyed ourselves.

feb25welcomeFebruary 25:  We entered Texas!  A long way, still, from Houston …

February 26:  We arrived in Kerrville and visited with Aunt Linda for a little while.  It was a momentous day:  Happy Anniversary to my parents, and Happy Birthday to Nana!

February 27:  Katy, Texas!  (I’m still not sure how we crossed Texas in only two days.)

Harvey’s Latest Improvements (small)


Today:  I “built” two shelves in a previously unshelved cabinet, where we store kitchen towels, rags, food storage stuff, and beer.  The cabinet measures 36″ wide with two doors.  It is 28″ high inside and 9″ deep.  We don’t have anything that shape, so I tried to pile things in it, only to fail at using the space to its fullest potential.  The left picture is my “middle of the project” view, showing the blue bins that I tried to use to hold stuff int he cabinet.  I hung the top shelf before I remembered to take a “before” picture.  The right picture shows the cabinet now … I used beer bottles to determine the location of the top shelf and mason jars for the lower shelf.  (I bought the canning jars yesterday for some kitchen ideas, and they only sell them by the dozen.  I will get rid of the extras eventually.)  The top shelf will also hold two cans stacked on top of each other.  I can’t imagine we will drive around with that many beverages, but it is impressive how much I can now store easily!

Materials:  1x10x6′ (cut in half by Home Depot), 6 small shelf brackets (97 cents each), and wood screws
Tools: jig saw and dremel (to cut notches in two corners to fit around interior cabinet structure), level, power drill, and lots of contortion skills


Last week:  I pulled everything out of the master closet.  It is a very, very odd shape.  Previously, I had some stacking plastic shelves, which didn’t hold my clothes well, and we had everything else stuffed in laundry baskets just shoved in.  Time for a change.  I built 6 shelves in the middle, using “Neat Idea” wire shelving squares.  We use them for everything – actual shelves, as they are intended – and as bunny condos and fencing.  They aren’t a perfect solution since there is a really big gap behind them because the back wall curves outward.  But it is a good temporary solution.  My clothes are on the left, and Phil’s clothes are on the right.  He has barely enough room to hang his work clothes – maybe he has too many?


A month ago!  … New desk from Ikea – Zoe helped build it. Don’t have good before or after, but maybe the clutter in the background will disappear? Second picture is Biscuit teethmarks on the top surface. Unfortunately, he “found” the desk while it was still in the box, and he tested the fiber content.


One more upgrade:  Ikea LED strip lighting.

It isn’t perfect yet, but the lighting comes with a 12 volt connection, so Phil reworked it to connect to the RV fixture.  (We just bought a plain switch and intend to change out the unused fixture this week.)  The RV lighting was giving me a headache, and the new lighting is not.  So, this is good.  We have some round ones that we will add to the girls’ bunk beds next.