Seasons Greetings

We hope your holiday season brings you warmth and cheer!

Here is this year’s Christmas Card in digital form!

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We literally shot these in our living room with a grey paper backdrop and some cheap soft box lights. We found whatever we could around the house that fit the 80’s theme. Gus already has an eclectic collection of clothing, so that was a piece of cake. (I’m actually sporting his velvet blazer in the photos.) I have a jewelry box that was my Aunt’s and I found some great clip on earrings (this was lucky because I do not have my ears pierced) and her prescription tinted glasses that Gus wore. (He could not see a damn thing, the prescription was so strong.) We also found some old christmas themed brooches in that jewelry box, Gus wore the Goose one since he’s Goose, and I wore a christmas wreath.

We found the pet hats at Petco! We were actually surprised we were able to pull off the poses we wanted them in. They cooperated much more than we expected. Obviously they received lots of treats for their forced participation. It only took us a few minutes to get their portraits finished!

We were cracking up the entire time we were taking these pictures, it had to be the most fun we’d had in a while.

 

Here are some outtakes and behind the scenes shots! We tried to make it as awkward and uncomfortable as possible. The final results of the card happened thanks to some Photoshop magic!

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This was my hair before I brushed it out:

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Which gave me this fantastic result:_42a9473

Scotty is a really good listener and knows Sit and Stay, so we didn’t have too much trouble getting his portrait. But he was definitely pretty miserable wearing that reindeer hat, haha.

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We got Little Monster to hold still by feeding her a treat the whole time. I honestly cannot believe she kept the elf hat on for as long as she did. We laughed so hard during this part we couldn’t breathe. The 3rd photo of her sends me into a fit of laughter every time I see it.

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And then for fun, we decided to skip a decade and do something 90s.

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Custom Trophies for The New Urbanism Film Festival

Recently, Gus and I were commissioned by our friends at The New Urbanism Film Festival to create trophies made from reclaimed materials for their award ceremony! Needless to say, we felt honored and excited to be a part of this project.

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We initially planned to make each trophy out of a different material. One for cardboard, plastic, metal, wood, trash, etc. We sat down one day and played around with cardboard and string and made one trophy each, but something wasn’t clicking with them. Time was of the essence as we were pushing closer to the due date and still didn’t have a solid plan.

Then, about 3 days before we had to turn them in, Gus thought of a brilliant idea that was perfect for the theme of the festival: wooden antique cameras.

 

Each camera is made from scrap wood Gus has collected over the past year from dumpsters and sidewalks.

Gus made these ones!

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And I made the following ones:

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It was seriously so much fun to work on this project together and apparently they were a huge hit at the festival so that makes us super happy!

Our West Coast Wedding Road Trip

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We left early in the morning before the sun had risen heading straight to the Sequoia National Forest. After a 3 hour drive, we set up camp and felt so excited to finally be on this trip we’d been planning all year. It was honestly surreal. We took a much needed nap since we hadn’t gotten any sleep, and then around sunset, drove up to the actual Sequoia Forest to view the trees. Neither of us had been there before. I (Jessie) remember turning this one corner and looking at this huge tree trunk in disbelief. I’d  been wanting to see this forest for a long time, so being there felt incredible.

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The next morning, we left for Yosemite.

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Hoh National Rainforest/Washington Coast

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Portland

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Redwoods/NorCal

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That Time We Almost Died on The Way to Our Wedding, Got Stranded, and Were Rescued by Social Media

This post is long over due! We’ve been so busy since we returned from our trip we haven’t had a chance to really sit down and keep up with our blog.

We are officially married! And so happy and grateful to have come this far, because the journey to our wedding did not go as we expected it to! Where do we even begin?

SHORT STORY: 

We planned a 2 week honeymoon road trip up the west coast for a private elopement ceremony in a forest in Washington state. 3 days into our trips, our brakes failed while driving towards a cliff and the emergency brake saved our lives. We were stranded in a small town (15 hour drive from our wedding location) for 3 days before we found out our car wouldn’t be fixed in time for the wedding. We asked our friends on Facebook for advice, and the entire internet stepped up to the plate. Friends, family, and complete strangers made donations to help us pay for our car, celebrities shared our story, Audi read it, and they lent us a Q7 to use for the rest of our trip. Our story spread across news outlets and blogs, and we ended up getting a full spread in a celebrity gossip magazine!

LONG STORY:

The plan was to travel north through the mountains and up to Seattle where we would have a private, intimate ceremony in a forest with just our good friend Christen officiating, and the videographer and photographer present to capture it all, and drive back home along the coast for our Honeymoon.

Well, we left for our trip on Thursday August 4th. We were still adding some final touches to the trailer the day of (I promise we’ll share the final results of our trailer, as well as pictures from the rest of our road trip in another post soon!) We were literally up all night, packing up any emergency supplies we could possibly think of, had our Jeep inspected by two different mechanics who both told us the car was in great shape, and filled every storage area we had with clothes, food, cameras, books, blankets, toiletries, etc.

When Shit Hit The Fan

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On Monday August 8th, a little more than halfway between Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, our Jeep began to overheat. We had hit a construction zone that halted all traffic and we were idled for a solid 20-30 minutes, so we think the uphill trip after being at a complete stop may have been what pushed the temperature over. We pulled over to let it cool back down, drove again, and when it started to heat up, pulled over again to cool. We figured slow and steady would win this race. We were 19 miles away from the nearest town, and our goal was to make it there and find a mechanic to help us. We pulled over at this spot (pictured above) and hung out by the lake for a good hour while the car cooled in an attempt to keep our spirits up. We saw a family fishing, asked if they knew how far we were to a mechanic, and they told us they weren’t sure but just 1 mile more and the rest of the trip would be downhill.

Awesome! We figured if we can just make it to the downhill part, we’ll be good to go until we make it into town.

We chugged uphill, eyeing the temperature gauge the whole time hoping for the best. Finally, the temperature became consistently stable at a healthy 210 degrees. We had just came up on this sharp u-shaped turn around the side of a mountain, when I started smelling something burning. I asked, “What’s that smell?” and not even a second later, Gus said, “Uh oh…”

“What?” I asked.

He didn’t say anything. I looked down towards his feet and saw him pumping the brakes, but nothing happened. I looked back at him. “Are you serious? Are you serious?” He couldn’t say anything. He just kept trying to pump the brakes and looking at the dashboard of the car, which was now going all wonky. I looked forward and saw the sharp left turn edging a cliff, just seconds away from us. I’m not going to lie, there was a moment where I thought we were going to die. I had NO idea how we were going to get out of this. I mean, we had no brakes, were going 60+ mph heading straights towards a cliff. Then I remembered there was an emergency brake. I immediately reached for it, slowly eased up on it, and Gus slowly steered us around the corner. There was a turnout to the right of the road after the turn and he pulled onto it while I kept pulling the brake, hoping we’d stop before we hit the wall. For a second it felt like the e-brake stopped having any effect and it looked like we were going to hit the wall, but we finally came to a safe stop. Gus turned off the car, the engine started smoking like crazy, and then I immediately broke down crying because the reality of what had just happened hit me. And all of this, from the time the brakes failed, to the time we finally stopped, was all within 20 seconds? I don’t know. It went by so fast but at the same time everything happened so slowly and vividly.

Pictured below is the view from where we stopped, and the bottom of the cliff we were heading towards. At least we had something pretty to look at.

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And pictured below is the view from where we stopped, facing the turn we just steered around. (The end of the road pictured is that sharp left turn we made.)

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We got out of the car. I was terrified. My entire body was shaking and I couldn’t think straight. Neither of us had cell phone service. Gus helped calm me down and told me he was going to walk back around the turn because there was a lodge maybe about 1 mile away that we’d driven passed and asked me to stay with the pets. We figured we could find someone there who could help us. We each had a walkie talkie, and as he gathered his things to leave, he realized he couldn’t find his wallet. We spent 20 minutes tearing up both the car and the trailer apart, searching the same areas 3-4 times desperately trying to find it, but we found nothing. We both felt so helpless.

Gus left, and I stayed. As soon as he turned the corner around the mountain side and was out of sight, I lost his signal on the walkie talkie. I was alone, it was quiet aside from the cars driving passed every few minutes, and it was cold. I was still shaken up about what had just happened. The cars driving passed paid no mind. I tried my best to stay calm and positive, but not being able to get a hold of Gus, or anyone for that matter, was terrifying me.

I have no real sense of time memory for all of this, but maybe about 30 – 40 minutes later Gus finally came back. I felt so relieved to see that tiny little man at the horizon running towards me. He told me the lodge we’d driven passed was closed, but he found a pay phone, and called our insurance for help. They told us they would call us whenever they sent a tow truck to us. Gus explained to them that we have no cell phone service, so a call or text would do us no good. They told him they would try anyway.

So then we waited. And waited. And waited. We waited for hours, looking down the mountain side hoping to see a tow truck coming towards us from either direction. Nothing. We didn’t even know if anyone was on their way. Gus was able to get the Jeep started again, and wanted so badly so go back and look for his wallet at the last place we stopped, but I didn’t trust getting back in that Jeep, and neither of us wanted to miss the tow truck if it did come. He was frustrated and upset with himself that he lost everything inside of it, then I realized it was my turn to step up and help keep him calm and comfortable. It was that moment that made me realize this was an experience that would absolutely shape us as a couple and as a family. When I needed help, he was there for me. He consoled me the way he knew I needed consoling. And when he needed help, I knew I had to set aside my fears and anxiety and be there for him in the way he needed me. We took turns like this throughout the next few days, shifting roles when necessary.

After three and a half hours of waiting, we decided to put up a sign asking for help, because it was clear that people driving passed us were ignoring us.

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Within 20 minutes, a pick up truck pulled over. His name was Douglas, and he’s the beginning to this story of generosity that we will tell for the rest of our lives.

Douglas was a volunteer for the fire department. He told us he had driven passed us going the other direction hours ago, and when he saw us still stranded on his way back, he knew he had to pull over. He contacted someone on his walkie talkie asking if any of the local tow companies were on their way to us. They weren’t. No one in the area even heard of us. He immediately contacted the closest Tow truck company and waited with us until it was confirmed they could get us. They picked us up within 45 minutes. Their names were George and Cammy. They brought us to a little town called Gardnerville, Nevada, directly to a mechanic they highly recommended. When we got there, they had just closed, but they told us we could camp in their parking lot for the night and they would get to our car first thing in the morning. We want to thank our  friend Seraphine for helping us with the cost of the towing of our trailer, as it wasn’t covered with our insurance.

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At the time, we had no idea this parking lot would be our home for the next 3 days.

So we set up camp and immediately started planning out all kinds of just-in-case scenarios. We ate for the first time in like, 12 hours? Once we were able to relax and ease our minds, everything that happened started to hit Gus for the first time. So we got ready for bed, and as soon I closed my eyes all I could do was relive that moment we lost our brakes. I had a hard time falling asleep that night. I kept jolting awake in night terrors, sobbing and feeling like I was still in that car heading towards that cliff. I kept having dreams that the e-brake didn’t work. Gus was there to comfort me even while he was half asleep. I don’t think I could have gotten through that night without him.

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We woke up the next morning (Tuesday, 3 days away from our wedding, and a 15 hour drive away from our wedding location) met with all the people involved with helping our Jeep: Jessica, James, Dennel, and John. These guys took good care of us and did all that they could for us. They told us they’d have the car ready to go within 6 hours. It turned out our radiator was busted, and the temperature gauge broke with it, and many other things. (This is why when we lost power to our engine  and brakes, our temperature gauge was reading stable.)

We hung around all day, went to the park, tried to kill our time. Talked with our families. Finally, the mechanic told us the car was ready. We packed everything up, got in the car and started it, but something just felt off to me. I didn’t have a good feeling about it. I was worried the same thing would happen again. I expressed my concern to Gus, and shortly after, the Check Engine light came on. We brought it back to one of the guys working there and he told us it was a spark plug misfiring, but that we should be fine. We parked the car again and idled it while we discussed what we want to do. Within minutes, everything shut off again, the same way it did before. We told the mechanic, they brought it in to look at again. Then they told us it was the spark plugs, and that they’d repair them for us. But then 15 minutes later, they came out to tell us it’s more than they expected, and they would have to take apart the entire engine in order to figure out what the issue was. They told us it could take up to a week and cost us more than what we paid for the car itself. That sucked to hear. We told them we needed to think about all of this and figure out what we were doing to do.

We spent the rest of the night doing so much research. We looked up trading cars in, every rental car company in existence, U-Haul, Penske, airfare, we even looked into buying a new car and trading the Jeep in. Our families were doing all that they could from afar, searching options for us. My brother even offered to drive my station wagon up to us and drive the jeep back, but I didn’t feel good about him driving that car in its condition. We exhausted every single option, but there were no trucks available for rent in our area, buying a new car was just too big of a decision to make on such short notice, and flying wasn’t a feasible option for us since we had both of our pets, all of our most prized belongings, and absolutely no luggage.

We looked at each other, each of us feeling completely depleted from trying our best to stay positive for the past two days, and collapsed on the bed together in tears. This trip was the one thing we were looking forward to all year. We spent every extra penny we had, every moment of free time, working on this trailer so that it could be a part of our wedding, a part of this journey. We sold many of our items to make money for this trip, for our wedding, for our trailer. We completely changed our lifestyles to be able to make this happen, putting a halt on frivolous spending. If it wasn’t going towards bills, food, or this trip, we weren’t buying it. The feeling of being stranded while literally being stranded took its toll on us. We felt helpless.

So I looked to Facebook and Instagram for guidance and advice. Maybe someone has been in this situation before? Maybe someone knows the area well and can help us find a rental truck?Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 8.50.07 PM.png

Within minutes, messages and comments were pouring in from our friends, family, acquaintances, people we hadn’t seen in over a decade, people we’d met only once, people who only knew us through social media offering their support, advice, suggestions, etc. It was incredible. We took notes for all the options we were given and made a plan to research these things the next morning. We decided it’d be best to just ship the Jeep back to LA and deal with it when we get home that way we don’t have to come back to Nevada to get it.

Then a friend of mine, who I’ve actually never had the pleasure of meeting in person yet, Nicola and her friend Rakesh literally stayed up all night creating a GoFundMe page in hopes of raising money to go towards either a new car, or fixing our Jeep. She messaged me telling me not to worry, that we will be taken care of and we will make it to our wedding. We were absolutely humbled by the GoFundMe page but honestly didn’t think it would pick up much momentum considering we had 24 hours to figure out what to do. We wanted to leave no later than Wednesday afternoon to avoid doing a full day drive to Seattle. I never feel comfortable asking for money, but we thought if anyone would donate, it’d be our family, and the money could sure help us pay for the repairs towards the Jeep.

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Before we went to bed that night, we walked to the gas station for snacks and Gus found this little guy hopping around in the parking lot. He picked him up and said he wanted to take him to the park across the street where there’s a pond. He quickly ran across the street, set him down, and ran back and said, “Maybe that will bring us some good Karma.” (Spoiler Alert: It did.)

We woke up the next morning (Wednesday) and called a place in Reno that could rent us a truck, but we had to return it to Reno when we were done. So, it solved our issue of making it to our wedding, but it didn’t solve our issue of making it back home with our trailer. We were able to get a rental car to take to another city about 45 minutes away that had a DMV so Gus could get a new driver’s license.

This is where our story takes a drastic turn for the better.

While driving to the DMV, we found out this girl Azita had shared our story on instagram. She messaged us asking for our number, called us, and she and her friend Erica told us they were going to take care of us. Azita stumbled on our gofundme page and ran to Erica, telling her she felt guided to help us. We were both in tears after this phone call. We couldn’t believe two complete strangers were going out of their way like this for us. We were so humbled, so grateful, so shocked. We finally got to the DMV, and while waiting in line, I noticed we were being tagged in posts on instagram. One in particular caught my eye, a woman who had 2.5 million followers. Sophia Bush. Once she posted it, everything started picking up momentum. We were getting donations, comments, messages, followers, etc. It was nuts. She tagged all the rental car companies and Audi, asking if any of them could help us out. (We didn’t find out until the next day after the media got our story’s attention that Kate Walsh and Constance Zimmer also chipped in by spreading the word about our situation!)

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Within an hour, we got a text from Azita telling us to forget the rental truck because they had news for us. Then we got an email from a guy named Marc, a brand marketer for PMK.BNC, telling us Audi was sending us an SUV to use for our trip. We could NOT believe what was happening. None of it felt real even though the email was right in front of us. We called our families, tears were shed, we felt SO much relief. A complete 180 from how we felt the night before.

By 11pm that night, a brand new 2017 Audi Q7 was delivered to us by this incredibly generous guy named Alex. He had worked an 8 hour shift, heard our story, and volunteered to drive the car 8 hours to us from San Francisco to Gardnerville, Nevada. We didn’t know it at the time, but throughout the entire day, over 50 people working for Audi all around the country were making phone calls, seeking approval, putting together teams of people to add on a custom hitch that fit our trailer, etc. All of that just to help us get to our wedding.

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We left the next morning (Thursday, 1 day before our wedding) and left at 6am. The Audi was amazing. It was definitely the nicest car either of us had ever sat in. It was SO comfortable, and that helped with our 15 hour drive to Seattle. (This isn’t some kind of sponsorship. We genuinely enjoyed this car and miss it everyday.)

Along the way we started getting phone calls and emails from media outlets telling us they heard our story and they wanted to interview us. A Seattle news station wanted to interview us as soon as we arrived in Seattle. We couldn’t believe it. We agreed to do the interview so that we could have an opportunity to publicly thank all of those involved with helping us. We did the interview in a Target parking lot as soon as we pulled into town, where we also picked up Christen who had just flown in from LA a couple hours prior, haha. Our story ended up on People.com, HelloGiggles, The Knot, ABC News, In Style, Yahoo News, and several other websites and local news stations all around the country. A few months later, we ended up having a full page spread in Intouch Weekly. (What?!)

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To be completely honest, the attention from the media made me really anxious. One of the reasons we decided to elope is because I get stage fright, and the thought of saying my vows, such intimate words, live in front of a studio audience made me feel queazy, so potentially being in the spotlight like this nearly sent me into panic attacks. Though I was absolutely grateful for where the help of social media led us, I felt nervous about the idea of our relationship being publicized on this large of a scale. I don’t think anyone ever really expects to “go viral” so when it happens, it’s all so overwhelming and hard to process because so much is going on at once. Once our story started getting published, I was already beginning to see cruel comments from people judging and criticizing our character and our relationship and it hurt to read things like that. I’m sensitive, I’ll admit that. And I wasn’t quite sure I could handle the criticism, so there were some interview requests that I denied or didn’t respond to so I could avoid getting any more attention. The night before our wedding, I was really stressed about all of this. Both Gus and Christen helped comfort me in my fears, and I thank them so much for being there for me. They helped me realize that people who say things like that should hold no merit and obviously do not know who we are, and that this whole thing is about US and our wedding, and to focus on that.

And once our wedding started happening, I felt completely at ease. I wasn’t nervous, or anxious, or scared, or resistant. The moment I started getting ready, all of those thoughts exited my mind and I just thought about how I was about to marry Gus, my best friend. It was the most incredible day. It was perfect. It was everything we could have hoped it to be. We are so grateful Christen, one of our best friends, officiated us and was there for us throughout the entire ordeal. This guy knows who we are as a couple better than anyone, we couldn’t imagine anyone more fit to marry us.

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Photography by the incredibly talented Benj Haisch

Videography by Justin Kauffman of Northwest Wedding Films.
(a big reason we decided to have our ceremony in Seattle)

Also, shout out to one of my oldest friends, Jon, who lives in Seattle and made an impromptu trip up to our ceremony location to pick up Christen and take him to the airport because there were no taxi or Uber or Lyft services in the area!

So, here we are, happily married for two months now, safe in our home in Los Angeles, CA. We finished up our trip in the Audi and had the most incredible, magical time. Since this post is so long, we’ll save the photos and stories from our trip itself for another post. We returned the Audi a few days after we came home. Gus had a hard time saying goodbye.

We are still in disbelief over everything that happened. It all happened so fast and was just so surreal. Whenever we tell the story, we’re both just like, “Holy shit. That happened?!”

The Jeep has been in the shop since we got home, so poor Gus has been carless this whole time. The GoFundMe donors amazingly raised $3700 for us. We didn’t expect more than $100. We stopped the gofundme because we felt we had received more than enough. After the percentage GoFundMe took out, we had about $3300 that all went towards the cost for shipping the jeep back to LA, the repairs we paid in Gardnerville, and the repairs we’re paying the mechanic for the work he’s currently doing on rebuilding the engine. We weren’t expecting to have to use all of the donations and planned on donating what was left of it to other campaigns, but unfortunately the total cost for everything ended up being even more than what was raised! But we do want to pay it forward, so we are still going to choose 5 campaigns and donate what we can!

Thank you EVERYONE involved in helping us.
Thank you thank you thank you.
We will never forget you and all of your help.
We will forever believe in the kindness of strangers
and the goodness in people because of this experience.
And this is a story we will tell for the rest of our lives.

 

 

 

Pierre’s Makeover : Part 2

We’ve been busy working on the trailer the last few months. That’s literally about all we do on our days off! I’ve got to give a lot of the credit to Gus. Although this has been a team effort, he has been working extra hard building everything from scratch. Measuring, measuring again, cutting, re-measuring, etc. It’s been amazing watching this thing really come to life with his building skills. What’s great about this project is we’re both learning so much from it. We were both lucky enough to have a mini training session from our electrician who explained all the wiring for us, so if we have any future issues we should be able to tackle them, and pretty soon we’ll be tackling the plumbing. Gus is strengthening his woodworking skills, and I’m strengthening my patience, haha. 

I can’t lie and say there hasn’t been rough days. We’ve both had our moments of frustration where one of us had to calm the other down and step away from the project to take a deep breath because things either didn’t go our way, or something was a lot harder to pull off than we anticipated. We also have run into disagreements about how to do something or how we want something to look, but we make sure to talk through everything until we find a middle ground where we can both feel happy with the result.

We started this project wanting to document all of our steps to help anyone else who is interested in taking on a project like this, but unfortunately we haven’t been so great at photographing all the steps in detail. We also wanted to take pictures with a real camera instead of our iPhone but that didn’t work out too much either sooooo we’ll share what we’ve got and hopefully you can fill in the gaps!

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Demolition/Reframing

This part of the process was definitely the worst. You think it’d be easy to rip things out, but there are many staples and nails and screws and you’ve got to be careful when removing everything so you don’t damage the outside aluminum. We’ve seen other people completely remove the aluminum and rebuild the frame from the outside, then put new aluminum over it, but since nothing was really wrong with the exterior shell, we decided to work from the inside out. This proved to be difficult at times because we had to frame the wood within the aluminum rather than the other way around. We spent hours trying to figure out one corner one day and learned our lesson from that. (See below.)

DSC00254Notice how both corners are without framework? Yeah, don’t do this. If you’re working from the inside out, keep the general area as stable as you can and work one corner at a time. This is what caused our aluminum to become misaligned because we built one corner and when we went to the other corner, the seams wouldn’t meet up together anymore. Since both ends were free standing, we miscalculated our measurements and it pushed the aluminum out by just a fraction of an inch, which was enough to mess everything up.

Anyways, we decided to take different job titles. I focused on demolition while Gus worked on rebuilding. So I’d take apart a corner, rip out the wood, cut out all of the staples, clean and de-mold, and by the time I was done and moving onto the next corner, he’d go in and measure and cut different pieces of wood to restructure it.

Here’s me taking a corner out:DSC00238DSC00244If you’ve ever got a demolition project, use this tool. It will save you time and stress.

And here’s Gus fixing up a corner I already removed:DSC00248

IMG_6791ABefore de-molding

IMG_6795AAfter de-molding

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IMG_6796AGus fixing up a corner

DSC00229Unscrewing the window so he can remove the old framing around it.
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Sanding down a corner piece for fitting

We used a Dremel to carve out little ditches for wires to sit in so that paneling will sit flat against framework:DSC00383DSC00384

We were working on the framework for what felt like a couple months. What sucks about this process is that it doesn’t really feel like you’re getting anywhere because everyday you walk in and it looks the same: bones. Just to be extra pre-cautious, we used clear silicone on all of the aluminum seams from the inside to help prevent further water damage. We also siliconed the seams from the outside too. We have gone through so many tubes of silicone because we never want to run into any issues again!

Also, shout out to this dweeb for spending 7 hours removing staples. We couldn’t have done this project without you, Christen!

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Insulation

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We spent a while researching what kind of insulation we should use. We looked at denim, fiberglass, foam core, sawdust, etc. We opted to use foam core because our framing was so shallow. The only insulation we could find in stores was designed to be used with 2×4’s, and our framing was made with 1×2’s.  This process was surprisingly easy and fulfilling because we were finally starting to see some changes!

DSC00377Gus worked on measuring and cutting the insulation for each space and I worked on taping it in and sealing it with Great Stuff Spray Insulation. This stuff is MESSY. And sticky. And gooey. And tricky to work with at first. Don’t go spraying willy nilly, you’ve got to make sure your pressure is just right and you work small and build your way up because the foam expands tremendously. Put down butcher paper to cover the floor and anything else, wear gloves, and work quick yet efficiently.

IMG_8291At first, I’d just let the foam expand and then go in and saw off the excess. This proved to not only be time consuming and annoying, but also very messy. Not to mention at times I was unable to cut it perfectly and the spray foam would sneak behind the foam-core, pushing it out, so I was worried this would cause issues with bulging when we started the paneling (spoiler alert: it did).

So I started duct taping over the foam before it dried so that it wouldn’t expand passed the framing.

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Foam dried behind duct tape

Paneling

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Cue choir music. Ohhhh happy day. We can’t begin to describe how incredible it felt to finally be at this stage.

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Gus taking measurements for paneling

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For the most part, this was Gus’s department as he’s better (and more patient) with the cutting and measuring. First he started measuring each space and taking notes. This proved to be really difficult, because not everything was perfectly square. One side of the trailer would measure 82 1/4 inches, the other end would be 81 5/8, etc. He did nearly a third or maybe even a half of the trailer with this method of measuring before he came up with the brilliant idea of tracing the space with a piece of paper, cutting it out with a razor blade, and taking that piece of paper and using it to trace the shape on the paneling board. (Shown below) IMG_8844

This immediately sped up the process, and since it made it so much easier to achieve accuracy, I joined in on making pieces too. Time lapse of the cutting process and placing shown below.

 

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We used 1/8th of an inch paneling because we needed something light-weight. We were fully expecting to run into a few warping and bulging issues because a couple areas of framing/insulating weren’t perfect, so we also needed something flexible. We intended on using the largest size pieces we could to prevent too many seams, but paneling was pretty tricky, and since the kitchen side of the interior would be covered by the sink/cabinets/backsplash, we decided we could get away with just cutting smaller pieces and puzzle piecing them together as shown below.

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To seal up the seams, we patched them up with Fibatape and  DAP’s Presto Patch. (We had tried Plastic Wood but it kept cracking after it dried.) Presto Patch is a powder that you mix with water. I recommend working in small amounts, this stuff was drying so quickly on me and I went through many buckets and scrapers. (It’s easiest to clean up out of the buckets and scrapers when it’s completely dry, because then you can just crack it off.)

IMG_9007Apply tape, apply patch, wait to dry, sand down.
(Wear a respirator, sanding is very very very dusty with this stuff)!

IMG_8420Final patches with an area tested for paint.

Flooring

While Gus started paneling, I put the floor in. We used Stainmaster Vinyl Planking  in the color “Dove/Oak”. We wanted a textured, yet airy/light color to keep the overall interior feeling bright and spacious. Vinyl planking is light-weight, waterproof, and incredibly easy to install. The planks are tongue and groove, so you just piece them together. I found it’s easier to slide them in. Cutting to fit is very easy, you just score the area with a sharp razor blade and bend and it will break in half right where the cut is. I watched this video to help me get an idea of how to do it. (Be sure you start in a corner!)_42A8617_42A8610The following image I found on the internet gives a great simple visual on how to place the flooring:pattern for laying wood tile in small area - Google Search:

IMG_8510Since all of the edges of the floor would be covered by built-in furniture, we were able to get away with using smaller pieces to fill in small gaps as you can see at the top of this image. This allowed us to use up every single scrap of planking we had and saved us from needing to purchase another case. For the rest of the floor where the water tank and electrical will go, Gus cut out some fresh pieces of ply wood and screwed them down to keep everything level and looking clean.

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ElectricalDSC00382DSC00403IMG_8426Gus built an area to keep all of our electrical in order. This area will be hidden in one of the dining seats and has access from the exterior for the 120V connector. This was the first thing we tackled once the paneling was in so we can be sure nothing got lost in translation during demolition. After a couple meetings with our electrician, we learned all the mechanics of how Pierre’s nervous system works. We had to replace a few headlights, our inverter switch, and a few connectors, but other than that, he’s good to go!

All and all, we’ve been learning SO much. It’s unbelievable. And although some days I’m cursing all of this work, we are both actually very grateful the water damage happened because it’s giving us so much experience for our future.  We intend to rebuild more trailers, tiny homes, and even build a house of our own from the ground up.

Stay tuned for our next post where Pierre’s insides start looking pretty!

 

 

Chicago

Gus and I took a quick trip to Chicago to surprise my aunt for her 74th birthday. (Her reaction was priceless and perfect and it was everything I could have hoped for!)

 Gus had never been to Chicago and I really wanted to show him downtown, so we stayed two nights in the city. We had such a great time wandering around. We got a lot done in two days!  I brought my backup camera so that Gus could have his first go at photography! He caught on really quickly and I’m excited that he’s excited about having a camera in his hands.

Here’s what we captured on our trip! More photos to come once I get some film developed!

Chicago via Jessie:

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Chicago via Gus:

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Pierre’s Makeover – Part 1

We’ve been putting some blood, sweat, and tears into our little Pierre these past few weeks.

The good news is we applied a fresh coat of paint to the wall, drawers, cabinets, and even hinges and knobs.

The bad news is all of that work was declared null after a few rainstorms exposed some serious water damage to all four corners of the interior. We were so bummed upon discovering this! We went into this project hoping to only deal with aesthetics in an attempt lighten any stress load for the months preceding our wedding. However, we do know that we would love to flip more trailers in the future, so we are choosing to look at this as a blessing in disguise. Not only is it better to have found this kind of damage during our renovating process as opposed to being out on the road in the wettest area of the US, but the experience will give us an opportunity to learn the structural troubleshooting we would need to know for any business prospects in the future.

Having said that, we’ll show the process we had prior to the water damage and where we’re at with this huge DIY project right now.

BEFORE:IMG_6349

So this is how it looked when we purchased it. Cute, right? We loved it, don’t get us wrong. It was just a little too yellow for us. And not the bright sunny kind of yellow, either. This yellow looked like the sun-faded, house-of-a-long-time-smoker kind of yellow. We wanted it to feel bright, airy, and open, so we opted for white. We really didn’t go into this with intentions of changing too much aside from the color.

IN BETWEEN:IMG_6348

Here’s where we left off before the rain damage happened. We painted everything that was once yellow, white, and all the brown trim, turquoise. More details of this design process are discussed below.

NOW:IMG_0057 (1)

WHOA. I know, right? It was NOT easy tearing down these walls after spending a few days painting everything with precision, let me tell you. Each rip pulled at my heart. But once we discovered mold and severe hidden water damage, we knew were ultimately making the right call to gut this entire thing and start entirely from scratch.

So let’s talk about the details! I’ll first discuss what we were working with before the damage, then what we found when ripping everything apart.

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Spray Painting the Knobs and Hinges:

We originally had plans to replace all of the knobs and hinges because they weren’t too pretty. But then I remembered we had purchased Krylon copper spray paint from Hobby Lobby a few months ago and I tried it out just to see how it looked, and I’m glad I did. This probably saved us a good $60 at least.

IMG_6273LEFT: Before, RIGHT: After

IMG_6271TOP: After, BOTTOM: Before

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 This stuff is great! They looked brand new after applying just one coat, and it dried quickly. As for longevity, I’m not sure how it withstands. We did spray some sealer over it, but I recommend getting a high gloss sealer because the one we bought dulled the shiny copper look. (Example below)

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(Left: After Sealer, Right: Before Sealer)

I also used that copper paint on the light fixtures and outlet plates. You can see them in the photos below.

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Pictured below is the floor we intend on putting in. We want a modern feel to the trailer, so going for a white washed wood seemed to be the best option to give us texture while keeping it bright and airy. It’s actually vinyl planking we found at Lowe’s, and it has the tongue and groove edges for easy installment, and it’s lightweight and easy to fix if there’s any damage done to a single plank.

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So that’s how far we made it before the damage happened. The last thing we’d done was go out and buy some wood sheets of Walnut for the kitchen counter and dining table.

So here’s what we found after the rain storms:

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We saw some ripples near the windows. We were in a bit of denial first. “Oh that was there before, it’s okay. It’s fine.” After we were able to easily peel back the paneling, we realized it was a legitimate concern.

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After pulling apart one corner, we realized this damage wasn’t caused by one rain storm. This was years of accumulation. We decided it’s best to gut the entire thing to be sure there’s no other hidden areas that are potentially hazardous. That’s when we found the mold. Thankfully it wasn’t an intense amount, but still scary to think we were about to live in this small space for weeks a time without knowing what was lurking behind the walls. The darker areas of the wood were just crumbling like powder, so if the mold wouldn’t have gotten to us first, the structural integrity of the frame surely would have.

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Safety first!

So now we’ve got the entire thing gutted. We’re going to remove any damaged framing, replace it, and repanel it. We designed a new layout together because we figured, hey, if we’re removing everything, why not make a few changes and really make this thing our own?

I am as equally excited as I am dreading this project. It’s 10 times more than we anticipated taking on, but we can do it. Gus is assuring me we can do it. Can’t tell you how many times I gave him a look and said, “..This is a big project. This is a lot.” I’m typically the one to go into panic mode and he helps keeps me calm, collected, and focused.

Stay tuned for more progress posts in the future!