The Only Constant is Change

I didn’t realize how much I still thought like a business analyst until I heard myself tell a friend that the bathroom was functional and the work that was needed was nice to have and cosmetic.

I spent the majority of my last 20 years working on projects. Prioritizing, defining and testing. Even though I retired last December and are no longer involved in IT related projects, Andy and I have been immersed in home improvement and maintenance projects for the last 18 months. We had to identify what projects we needed to work and which ones we wanted to work. We had to define how we wanted the kitchen, garage, fence, bedrooms and other areas to look. We had to determine the costs and figure the budget.

I started a project plan for the house while I was still working and tweaked it as we went. Beginning this January, I added our blog into the mix. Since the first of the year, we have gotten a lot done. In September, we were ready for our Phase 2 projects.

These were the changes we wanted to make that were lower on our priority list. They were also the small finishing tasks from another project. For example, the kitchen was finished in early August 2016. We waited to paint the trim around the window until the new windows were installed. Well, the windows were installed in mid-August and the trim is still not painted. It has been filled, sanded and primed, but not finished. It is a Day 2 item. Not high enough on the radar to finish.

As we were readying ourselves to get some of these items completed, our plans changed.

Andy has not been the happiest camper in his job for the last couple years. He thought he could stick it out for another 2 years and retire at age 62. At that time, we anticipated we would take off in our RV for several months at a time and travel the country. We also planned to have the house paid off when he left work.

Andy turned 60 in September and said good-bye to the VA hospital. Earlier this month he accepted a position with a traveling nurse agency. We will be leaving our home next week and hitting the road for his first assignment. This will allow us to travel earlier that we anticipated and still have the needed income.

If he had continued to work at the VA, my plan this fall was to start looking for a full-time job in the Kansas City area. I had wanted to take this year off. And I did, with the exception of the part-time job I had over the summer. I will have to come up with a new plan for me. 🙂

The last several weeks we have been getting the house ready for our departure. We had several projects that had to be done first and those are now completed. We have just a few things left to do around the house. Sully, our name for our Grand Design Solitude, has been undergoing a few changes as we get ready to leave. In addition to the desk installed in our post RV Renovation – Slide Out Desk, we are making it ready to live in by removing the ‘weekend at the lake’ items and replacing them with stuff we will use on a daily basis.

The blog content will tell of our travels, RV modifications and tips. We are looking forward to this new chapter in our lives and hope that you will join us as we live life on the road.

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Expanding Our Kitchen Table: How to make a small round table bigger

When we moved in, we realized that our square dining table was too large for the kitchen. After swapping tables with our daughter and removing the center leaf, we had a smaller round table. That worked until we had the kitchen remodeled. With the addition of a pantry and a bench, we now had less room for a table. We did a lot of online searches for another, even smaller table. We were looking for one about 36 inches diameter.

Last December we found a small table with a metal pedestal base at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. It was 30 inches in diameter and had a blue top. It was also only $10 dollars, so we bought it. We donated the other table and chairs, bought a tablecloth to cover the blue top on the bargain table and two new chairs to match the kitchen. We were set, at least for a while.

We knew we wanted to do something to the blue top, but we weren’t quite sure what that would look like. After using the table for several months, we decided it needed to be a little bigger. One time we sat 3 adults and 2 grandkids around it and there was barely room for the plates. It was also crowded for just the two of us.

Since the table was functional and we could use the table purchased for the sun porch when we had guests, the table project was extremely low on our list. Here it is without the tablecloth. Tiny, right?20170926_165630

On one of our many trips to the new Menard’s store for patio blocks, we found a top for our table when we weren’t even looking. It is edge glued pine, B grade, sanded smooth and the Perfect Size – 1” by 36”. It was $37.83. We were excited.20170827_124918

We picked through their stock and bought the best one. Unfortunately, we couldn’t work on it until recently due to the rush to complete the patio before fall.

A week after completing the patio, we were ready to get this project going. We gave it a once over with an extra fine sandpaper then went to work staining it. We had grey stain left over from the barn door project that worked perfectly.20170922_112350

After allowing the stain to dry overnight, we lightly sanded it and applied a couple of coats of a wipe on polyurethane.

We also wanted to darken the pedestal. We spray painted it with Rust-O-leum Universal Metallic in Flat Soft Iron.

When both the new top and the pedestal were completed, the top was secured to the original top with 8 screws.

The whole project only took a couple of days.

We now have enough room to be comfortable at the table, and still have space to walk around in the kitchen.20170928_142257

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RV Renovation – Slide Out Desk

When we moved to our smaller home in April 2016, we owned an ultra light 5th wheel RV. Part of our downsizing plan was to travel more and take extended trips in the 5th wheel. After we took it out on a couple longer trips, we realized that this RV was not the one we would be living in part-time.

Earlier this year, we traded in our ultra-light for a model that is better suited for our purposes, a Grand Design Solitude 379FLS. You have seen pictures of the outside in a few of our posts, most recently the Solar Eclipse 2017. We have made small changes inside to make it our own. This post will highlight the most recent change we made.

We have always had a home office. One of the ‘spare’ bedrooms in our homes has held our desks, computers, printers, camera equipment, important papers, etc. Being out on the road for an extended amount of time, we both felt that a desk or work space would be needed.

We follow the blog, Camper Chronicles and liked how they used their slide out to build a desk. We used that as our model, with a few changes of our own. Thanks Lee and Tracy!

After deciding which slide out would hold the desk, Andy removed the 8 screws and 2 90 degree brackets holding the sofa in place. It is not overly heavy, but would be awkward getting it through the camper door. Youngest son Brian came over to help.

Rather than using file cabinets or back legs for support, the desktop will rest on cleats that are attached to the walls with drywall screws. We will be adding a couple of legs to the front for additional support.

This is the slide with the sofa removed and the cleats attached.sofa gone

For the desk top, we purchased a door from Habitat for Humanity Restore. It was the right depth, 27 inches, and just needed to be trimmed down to 77 inches, the inside width of the slide.

We sanded off the varnish and prepped it for staining. You don’t see it from this side, but the door had a recessed pull handle. Andy removed it and drilled the hole all the way through the door. sanding door

We now had a hole for the electrical cords. We used a stain we already had, Minwax Provincial 211, and set it out to dry for several hours.cord hole in desk

stained and drying

Several days and coats of polyurethane later, the desktop was ready for install. Unfortunately, the trim around the slide got in the way and Andy had to notch it out. A little wood glue will put it back in place. A keyboard tray was installed and it is ready to add our computers. We also added a rug to cover the cable on the slide and the exposed wires. We will post an update when the front legs are attached.desk done

The sofa that was removed fit perfectly on the sun porch. Since it has no legs, Andy built a platform, similar to the slide, for it to rest on. Here it is getting a final fitting.platform for sofa

Resting on the platform.sofa on platform

sofa on sun porch

RV sofa on the Sun Porch

We are excited to get our ‘mobile office’ set up. Next month, we travel south for awhile. But before we go, we are rushing to get other projects completed, both on the house and RV.






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Concrete Blocks and Recycled Pavers: Our Patio is Done!

The patio project took months longer than we expected. It also took more concrete blocks and patio pavers than we estimated. However, it was worth the many trips to Habitat for Humanity ReStore searching for used and bargain pavers and concrete blocks. Multiple trips to the Big Box hardware stores to purchase more pavers and block, as well as bags and bags of concrete and tubes of adhesives. And two loads of sand that filled the bed of our truck and stressed our muscles to unload it.

20170610 starting patio

Temporary steps and stakes for patio – June 10, 2017

When we moved here, there was a small patio made of 16 x 16 red brick pavers. We stacked and re-stacked them several times while working on the sun porch and fence projects. A good portion of them were used for our temporary sun porch steps. We used those steps from mid-November when the sun porch was completed until we replaced them with this project. On June 10th, we measured the desired length and width of the patio and placed the stakes in the ground. If you look closely, you can see them in the above picture. What doesn’t show in the picture is the slope of the yard. To make the patio level, we needed to build a raised based for the lowest portion.

After many hours of digging and placing the concrete block base, the patio was starting to take shape.20170705_204800 The blocks have been filled with cement to provide stability and a solid base for the pavers to rest on. The pavers resting on the concrete blocks were attached with adhesive. The next step was to backfill  the area with dirt to level it out and pack it down to provide a good base for the pavers.


The majority of the dirt was dug from under the carport on the edge of the wooded area on our property. Some interesting background on the carport can be found at our post, How to Move a Carport – Take 2.

Andy filled the wheelbarrow with dirt, attached it to the mover and drove it down to the patio to dump it.20170707_084452 He repeated this process many times until there was enough dirt to bring the entire base to about two inches from the top of the blocks. This space would be filled with the leveling sand.20170707_151542

The next step was the sand. Lots and lots of sand. We got one truck load, and after using all of it, went back for another full load. Two tons of sand!



Here are a couple of progress shots as the sands was spread and the blocks were placed. 20170712_195302

We needed to cover the sand with a tarp to keep it protected from the rain and the dogs. The puppy thought digging in the sands and spreading it around was helping.20170723_165946

After the pavers were down, the rail was placed on the higher side and around the corner. The support posts are fastened into the concrete blocks with 4 inch concrete anchoring bolts. This picture also shows the partially finished steps off the patio into the yard.20170813_154539

20170824_195206This picture was taken on August 24th. Two of the rails are up and the small retaining wall on the far corner is almost complete. By this point, we really wanted to finish the project and move on to another. The progress picked up and
we didn’t take as many pictures. It looks like Sadie is ready for the patio to be done too.

After the last rail was up, the steps were completed and the downspout was redirected to a drain tile. Andy applied the polymeric locking sand between the pavers and several days later, applied a sealant coating to protect it.

You can see the gas grill happily covered in the corner of the new patio. We had been using it down in the yard by the privacy fence since early June. So happy we are done with that!

We are considering the project done for the season. We want to stain the rail and paint the concrete blocks, but that will have to wait for now. Other projects and obligations are calling us. If you have any questions about our patio project, send us a question using the Contact Us page or leave a comment below.


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Clearing Clutter is Hard

It has been 38 days since we started our 30 day challenge to clear out the clutter in the basement. Since that day, we have opened every box and tub. It took longer than we thought, but it feels so good to be done. We can now use the room. We still have a few things that will be relocated, however, we have already decided we want what is there.

We found ‘missing’ items that we knew were in our home office in our last house. We moved some of them to our home office upstairs and have either donated, recycled or thrown out the rest.

We unpacked vases, candles and other decorations that we just knew we would want to display here. Not all of them made the cut this time around.

We donated the night stands from our bedroom set. The night stands that we tried to put in the master bedroom. The night stands that we placed in the living room until we admitted they really didn’t work there. The night stands that we moved downstairs, hoping that when we cleared out the basement, they would fit. The ones we talked about in a previous post, Making Room.

We had boxes and tubs of photo albums and snapshots in the basement. Some had been damaged years ago and were faded and stuck together. These were the boxes that had moved with us several times and had never been opened. Our last two homes had lots of storage space and we had gotten bad at moving some tubs and boxes without ever opening them. This house has changed all that. This time we don’t have the space. We needed that.

We had lots of greeting cards. Cards we had given each other. Cards our children and grandchildren had given to us. Cards we had received from now-deceased family members. We sorted through the majority of the cards and even pulled out those in drawers and boxes that were upstairs. We put the ones we could part with in a bag, took pictures of others that we wanted to remember before placing them in the bag and kept a much smaller amount. Last Saturday night around our blazing fire pit, we took a last look and tossed the ones in the bag into the flames. This just felt better to us than putting them in the recycle bin.

Cleaning out the basement was harder than we imagined. We could only work on it a few hours at a time. Many of the boxes contained mementos and souvenirs from long ago vacations. Some contained personal items that had belonged to our mothers. Letters and cards with strong sentimental attachments. Things we were still not ready to part with. We are allowing a much smaller amount of space on our limited storage shelves for these. We also realize we will have to go through them again.

The basement exercise helped us realize that we had weighed ourselves down with more stuff than we thought. We donated or gave away 208 items. This includes the two night stands, large coffee table, sewing table, sewing machine, exercise bike, bookcase and multi-drawer storage cart from the basement. We did not keep track of what was thrown away. Let’s just say that we filled a couple of large trash bags.

This is a picture taken the day we set our challenge. You can see a few more on the Getting Back to Basics post.basementbefore3

There are a few items that will be put away when we get shelving up. This challenge was to clear clutter and we are very happy with our results.basementafter2

A little different angle. We can fold up the elliptical to save some space when not in use. We are still deciding what to do with the area behind the support post.basementafter1

We are hosting a September family birthday gathering in a few weeks. We are happy that the grandkids will have a space downstairs to play. We are also excited that the patio will be completed and we will be able to sit outside. Our next blog post will be the patio story and pictures. So excited to finally be able to share them with you.

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Letting Go of Stuff – Progress on 30 day Challenge

The progress on the basement has been fairly slow. We are finding items we haven’t seen in over a year, some longer than that. We are keeping some, tossing some and donating others.

At this point, the entire basement may not be cleaned out during our 30 day challenge. When we started, we forgot that we had a 5 day trip planned for the solar eclipse. We didn’t know that a special project would come up at work and a 2 day a week part-time job would become a 4 day a week job. And we sure didn’t know that the patio project would still be going on. Throw in a full day of jury duty and hand surgery and things really started to stack against us making it.

We have made trips to the thrift stores, local library, recycle centers and Habitat for Humanity. To date we have donated 47 DVDs, 37 books, a bookcase and boxes of miscellaneous household items and clothes. We are keeping track of the full amount and will post that when the 30 days is over.

We are still making progress and plan to have another load ready to donate this coming weekend. We are also getting the items ready to sell in our vintage shop. Currently those items are taking up space in the basement and will be relocated to a space of their own soon. We hope to have the shop open soon and will provide a link when it is ready.

We hope you have a nice Labor Day weekend and spend time relaxing with family and friends. We will be here; going through boxes, sorting our stuff, taking pictures of ‘treasures’ and putting them in the donate, sell or trash pile.

Wait, what happened to the keep pile?



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Solar Eclipse 2017

We made our reservations in early May to stay at one of the campgrounds around Smithville Lake during the total solar eclipse. It is only about 21 miles north of our home, but deeper into the path of totality. And a long weekend in the RV was what we needed to get away from the basement clean out and patio projects. In May there were still a few spots left and we were able to get a shady one we could comfortably fit into.

When we arrived early Friday afternoon, the campground was slowly filling up. We expected it to be full. All of the approximately 777 spots at the 2 campgrounds had been reserved. What we weren’t expecting were all the people that would be traveling much farther than us to stay here at the lake for the eclipse. We have met people from Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas and have seen license plates from Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota.

It is exciting to see so many people coming out to the lake to experience this event. Campers and cars have been constantly pulling out and others pulling in. There are people in tents in many spots, which is a bit unusual for this loop. All spots are 50 AMP, with water. The neighbors in the spot next to us arrived Friday and have to move their travel trailer down 4 spots this morning before the eclipse because that spot was reserved by someone else for tonight only.

It has been a good relaxing weekend. We went on a long bicycle ride on Saturday morning.


Andy captured this butterfly photo along the Cabin Fever Trail

When we got back, our 7 year old granddaughter called and asked if she and her sister could come up for the night. We couldn’t say no. We picked them up at a designated meeting spot and enjoyed the afternoon and evening with them.

girls in boat

We didn’t have a lakefront spot, so it was easier to bring the lake to them.


Reading with a flashlight at the campfire. This girl loves to read!

After taking them back on Sunday morning, we enjoyed several hours kayaking on the upper arm of the lake, in the wildlife management area.wildlifemanagementarea



We are now preparing to watch the eclipse with hundreds of strangers in a few hours. We have our solar eclipse viewing glasses and a wide open area to sit in. The clouds are overhead now, but we are tracking the weather and they should be moving on before the eclipse starts at 11:41am.

Stay safe and wear your certified eclipse glasses for viewing.

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