September 29, 2018

Kitchen Cart Makeover

A few weeks ago, someone left this old Ikea cart beside our driveway. It was the evening before trash day and they probably wanted it to go out with our trash.

But I saw that it had wheels and took it in to remove the wheels. Turns out, it was the same height as our table saw and I used it a few days as a feed table for the table saw to cut some whole sheets of plywood. Just as I was about to take off the wheels and haul the cabinet back to the end of the driveway, Hubby mentioned that we might use it temporarily for garage storage. I've built a few cabinets for the garage, but no drawers yet. After looking it over again, I thought it might work in a spot I wanted to use for cooking in the garage.  I needed to make a narrow cabinet to fit between the refrigerator and freezer.  Earlier in the summer, I built a dutch oven cook table, but I didn't want to leave it outside all the time even though it was built out of pressure treated wood.  Instead, I wanted to store it under a counter in the garage so it wouldn't take up good counter space.

With the wheels off, I needed to build a new base for the cabinet, and since I wanted my dutch oven cabinet to slide under it, I needed take off the base anyway. The cabinet was completely made with mdf except for the thin butcher block top and drop leaf.  I started by taking everything apart and refinishing the butcher block top.  I used the two shelves in it to build a new base and reinforced with some scrap wood, and used the old base to make stretchers across the back. Then I refaced the cabinet with some scrap pine. I probably should have rebuilt the drawers as they are fairly shallow, but for now, I just built new drawer fronts. Attached to the wall, it is sturdy.

With my rebuilt drawer fronts, the original drawer screws were too short. When I tried using longer screws, I found that the original screws were metric. At first, I thought the cabinet was from Ikea, especially with the metric screws and being made of mdf, but I didn't see anything like it on their website. It probably came from Target or Walmart. It looked like something that had to be assembled by the buyer with a hex key. Since I didn't have any screws with the right threads, I decided to buy new pulls instead of new screws. Until I found some, I just made some pulls out of scrap. Later, I found some cute pulls at the big box store with the same spacing.  The dutch oven table fit under it with the concrete pavers removed.

With a curtain held in place with tension rods, and cabinets on both sides, no one will ever know it's not built of solid pine.

I used the attached towel holder and some of the leftover shelf scraps to build a new towel rack but I haven't finished that yet.  I made a shelf above it to hold eye wash and first aid supplies and then I cut the John Deere logo with a scroll saw.  Since the wall is a blue green, I didn't want to paint the shelf green but let Hubby pick the color.  It looks good against the wall.  Eventually, it will go on the wall to the left of this cabinet.  But that wall hasn't been painted yet.

After the cabinet was finished, the only leftoever pieces were the doors, the butcher block leaf, and the wheels.

September 28, 2018

First Real Modification to Our Fifth Wheel Trailer

In the RV world, mods are things done to an RV to make it work better or be more comfortable. We've done a few things, like added some stick on lights and towel bars, but nothing major. So this is my first.

The bottom part of the corner tv cabinet has a big open space with two doors separated by a panel.  The panel makes it hard to get to anything behind it, but I'm sure it is supporting the rest of the cabinet, thus the size.  Also, it was dark in there.  To take this photo, I had to hold a flashlight in one hand and the camera in the other.  Otherwise, the inside would look like the cubby above it on the left side - another odd little space.

We've never really known what to do with this space, especially since it doesn't have any shelves.  The previous owners had a laundry basket in it, and we tried that, but dirty clothes were always falling off the side into the black hole behind the panel, and hard to reach over the laundry basket.  They left the laundry basket in the cabinet, probably because it wouldn't come out easily.  We put various things in the odd shaped space on the left side and eventually just started tossing our shoes in there until they too ended up behind that panel and were hard to reach.

This week, I decided I'd had enough and I made some cardboard organizers.  If you'll notice, the cabinet is an irregular wedge shape and the corner on the left is walled off for something electrical. That makes the cabinet space wide at one end and narrow at the other end, with even less space in that one corner.

One of the biggest issues with an RV is the amount of weight it can carry and that the pickup can tow. Every pickup and trailer comes with its own weight limit called the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). Ours is 8800 pounds. That sounds like a lot until you start subtracting the dry weight of the trailer, the weight of water carried in the tanks, and the amount of cargo stowed in the trailer. The dry weight of our trailer is 7153. Then there are the unseen or unnoticed extras like the vent covers, the septic hoses, water hoses, surge protector, water regulator, filters, jacks and levelers, camp chairs, rugs, power tools and tool box, and storage bins for all that stuff. And we haven't even made it inside the trailer where the fun stuff is. It adds up fast.

I'm always amazed when I see RV remodels where someone has taken out the RV cabinets and replaced with a solid wood item. (RV cabinets are built with 1x1s, 1x2s, and 1/8" plywood. Yes, it's cheap, but it's also light weight. I don't know if they are aware they have a weight limit or if they just don't care. Going over the weight limit makes the trailer harder to pull, harder to stop, and it's just dangerous for them and everyone on the same road.

So with that in mind, I made these organizers out of cardboard. Heaven only knows we have enough of the stuff here and more delivered every week. I doubled the cardboard pieces, put them together with hot glue, and attached all the pieces with reinforced packing tape. They seem pretty solid, but time will tell.

Since we need to be able to access the electrical corner of the cabinet, I couldn't install anything permanently, so I made these pieces fit snugly together. No one piece could be very big and still get through the doors either. I'm not sure what the manufacturer was thinking when they designed this. A lot of people have put a fireplace there, but with it tucked behind the dining booth, we wouldn't be able to see it, or feel any heat, so this is a better option for us. Plus, we didn't have anywhere else to put shoes or the vacuum.  I also made room for a small printer and our big collection of plastic tote bags, aka trash bags.

Here they are in place.

And loaded with stuff.

I also added a small, stick on light so we can see what's in there.  Next, dividers for the upper cabinet in the kitchen.  Not that there is a separate kitchen in our RV; if I stand in the middle of the room, I can be in the kitchen, dining room and living room at the same time.  As tiny house people say, it's not crowded, it's cozy.  Liars.

September 14, 2018

Funny Feline Friday

I think my cat is a masochist. He thinks he is a martyr.

This is not the face of a happy cat. This is his accusing look. Blaming me for the too small, too hard, and too uncomfortable bed he is in.

He has a soft, cushy bed.

But will he sleep in it? No. He sleeps in every new box that comes in, and under boxes that are propped against another box. He sleeps on the rug in front of the door so he can see us from all directions. He sleeps inside the coiled garden hose. He sleeps on an uneven pile of lumber. But he won't sleep in his bed. So it was no surprised to see him sleeping in this tub that had been in the pond for a year and smelled like pond scum. I threw a rug in it to make it more comfortable, and then he wouldn't sleep in it anymore.

He likes to be wherever we are working, regardless of the noise or mess, so it should have been no surprise to find that he had made himself at home in this container. It is right in the middle of the room we are insulating.

It looks a little like a cat bed, but it isn't. It is a cast iron hibachi that I put on some wood to flatten it, and I put a towel over it to keep the dust and cat hair from sticking to the oil on it.

It can't be comfortable, and not just because it is iron. See the middle? The damper is in the middle of the hibachi, sticking up right where Buddy's lying.

After I took these pictures, I moved the damper to the side and covered it back up. Then, I put a chair cushion on the floor for him to sleep on. When I came back through the next time, he was back in the hibachi. Silly cat.

Linking to:
Feline Friday at Comedy Plus

September 12, 2018

The Cat Said

If you own a cat a cat owns you, you've probably said that from time to time, maybe even daily. If you own a dog, you may have said "the dog said...". It's not like they really say the words.  Wait, before you correct me Pixie and Zorro, let me amend that. They are saying the words, but not in human language. But as pet parents, we learn what their sounds mean.

Hubby was resistant to Buddy's charms at the beginning, and called him "your cat" for at least a year. He continued to huff about "your cat this," or "your cat that" until I walked into his office one day to find the Buddy in his lap. It still took him a long time to say "our cat" and he left most of the responsibility to me. Over time though, Buddy wore him down, and now he thinks Buddy is almost part of the family. (I think Buddy is part of the family.)

We went outside the other day and left Buddy snoozing inside. After a few minutes, we heard him meowing at the door and Hubby said, "Buddy says he is hungry." But that wasn't the hungry meow, that was the 'you're outside without me' meow. I opened the door, Buddy sauntered out, and all was good.

If you asked me to tell you the difference between the 'I'm hungry' meow and the 'I want to be with you' meow, I couldn't tell you. I just know it's different. Language immersion, taught by the cat!

September 10, 2018

Bloggers, PLEASE Watermark Your Pictures!

Not feeling well this morning, I decided to surf the web for some RV organization ideas, especially how to deal with Hubby's shoes. I found a picture on Google, which led to Pinterest, which led to another Pinterest, which led to yet another Pinterest, which seemed to lead to a blog. I searched the blog, and no photo. I did an image search of that photo and the search results yielded eight pages of results, and only one of them was Pinterest. But none of those results went to real websites either. Well, I suppose they were real, but they had no substance. They are websites that collect photos and snippets of popular information from other websites and they are designed for the sole purpose of installing cookies on computers. Your computer and my computer. You can read more about it here and see a few ways to protect yourself from these modern day cookie monsters.

Here's what I mean. I went to and typed Unique shoe rack into the search box. Google image search does better with photos that stand out from the others, thus the word unique. Then, I picked a photo that went to an actual website. This photo:

The link was to and they sourced the photo to That photo, however, is not on The Shrine's website. It may be an old design which has been taken off their website, or it may not be their photo at all. So I went to their About us page, where there is a photo of their original shoe rack design, not watermarked, and did a google image search for it. Now you would think that doing an image search from the original photo on the original website would make it easy to find. Apparently not. Google came up with ten pages of search results, and from my quick glance, The Shrine wasn't found at all. This, however, is what it did find:

Search garbage. For the last year, nearly every image search I have done has been filled with this stuff and it has gotten a lot worse in the last few months.

Google image search is pretty worthless now because of Pinterest and these Cookie websites. It's almost impossible to find the original source of a photo unless it is watermarked. So if you see a photo of a whatzit on pinterest and you'd like to see how they made it, or see it from another angle, you probably aren't going to be able to find it unless it is watermarked or the photo is sourced.

Fellow bloggers, I beg of you, please watermark your photos so the rest of us can track them back to you. It won't keep these websites from using them without permission. I've given up on trying to protect my photos, but I do watermark most of them so people will know that the photos are mine and not the website where they found it. Until the last few days, I didn't think it was necessary to watermark poor photos, but after my search this morning, I am rethinking that too.

September 04, 2018

Storm Clouds Moving In

You know by now that I love clouds and I love odd and unusual things. So when I saw this cloud Saturday evening, I ran to get the closest camera, which happened to be my phone. Not the best for good photos, but I thought I was only going to show this to Hubby, so it didn't matter. Do you see the dragon cloud?

I recently moved my galvanized stock tank pond into the middle of the 'yard' beyond the back porch, and we've been sitting around it nearly every night lately. So after I took that photo, I let the cat out, propped my feet up on the edge of the stock tank and got ready to watch the sunset. The sunset itself was nothing special, but I glanced to the east and saw that the clouds had continued to build, and as the sky darkened below the clouds, the top of the clouds caught the sun and shone a brilliant white. I took a quick photo even though all the antenna lines marred the beauty.

Just after the last bit of sun disappeared over the horizon, I glanced back again to the east and was amazed at the colors that had appeared around that cloud.  This time I ran past the antennas to take a picture.

The colors were brilliant swirls of pinks, corals, and blues, and my phone camera doesn't do it justice. I had to lighten the photo for the bottom of the clouds to show up and it distorted it a little, but it didn't affect the colors.  This picture shows the color but not the intensity that they really had.

It rained this morning, a nice, slow rain that turned all the low spots into little pools, and then the sun broke through and chased away all the clouds. Late this afternoon, the clouds started building again, and I grabbed Hubby's old phone, which is still a newer phone than mine. He had to quit using it when it started dialing random phone numbers when no one was even touching it. As I type this, it is on the counter taking pictures of the ceiling every so often. The last thing Hubby needs is a phone that calls customers at 2 a.m. so now it is only good as a camera. It looked like the clouds were going to split and rain on everyone but us. To the east, the clouds were sending rain to the same area that got it Sunday night.

And to the west, it was moving right over the neighbor's house.

Right after this, the clouds on both sides moved our way, colliding over us with pounding rain, lightning, and thunder that shook the walls and sent the cat running for a place to hide.

September 01, 2018

How to Find the Expiration Date of Dr Pepper Part 2

I received a comment on a post titled How to Find the Expiration Date of Dr Pepper and Snapple Unknown asked:
Do you know how to determine the expiration date on canned Dr. Pepper?
On the bottom:
M7 360HX
L3 1331
The easy answer is September 26, 2018, if it is a regular Dr Pepper.  Read on to find out how I arrived at that date.

I bought a can of to illustrate but I'll use Unknown's numbers instead of the numbers on the bottom of my can.

The FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page on the Dr Pepper website says the only way to read the code on their products is to call their 800 number. But that's not quite true, at least for the top row of date codes, according to the Dr Pepper employee I talked to. It may be true about the numbers regarding the plant where each can or bottle is made.

Remember the decoder sheet I got from the man stocking Dr Pepper at the store?  (Click to enlarge.)

The black lines didn't photograph well, but you can fill it in easily. The first column is A-M, without an I because it looks too much like J. Second column is January-December. Third column is J-M,A-H, again no I, and so on with the next columns.

The code on her can is M7360HX; under that code is L3 1331.

I'm going to divide that first group of numbers. M-7-360 (HX).  For now, we are going to ignore the HX.

  • M means it was made in December. 
  • 7 is the last number of the year made, which would be 2017 unless he or she has had this can for a long time.  Then, it could be 2007 I suppose.
  • 360 is the day of the year it was made.  Looking at Epoch Converter, the 360th day of 2017 was December 26. 
  • From the Dr Pepper's FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page, Dr Pepper made with sugar or corn syrup in a glass bottle or metal can has a shelf life of nine months.  If it is a diet soda made with Aspartame or an AceK blend, the shelf life is three months.
Assuming Unknown's can is made with sugar or corn syrup, her can will expire nine months after December 26, 2017 which is September 26, 2018.  So it's still good.

If Unknown's can is a diet soda,  it will expire three months after December 26, 2017 which was March 26, 2018.

Now, just in case you are curious, here is what I've learned about the other numbers in the code.  The HX is the code for the manufacturing plant that made the product, but I don't know which plant that is.  I'm in Texas and most of the codes I see on the Dr Pepper cans and bottles (when I remember to look) are numbers like DP3, DP8, etc.  Dr Pepper Snapple bought out other drink companies too, one of which is Hawaiian Punch, originally bottled in California.  So maybe the HX designates that bottling plant.  But that's just a guess.  I really have no idea.  Maybe Unknown will come back and tell me where he or she bought the can.

The next line on Unknown's can is L3 1331, and it was probably written L3 13:31.  L3 is the shift number which is often necessary when a plant has more than one shift working at the same time making the same thing, and 13:31 is the time of day that can was produced.  That would be 1:31 PM for those of us who struggle with military time.  If you notice on my can, there is no shift number.  It could be there that that plant only has one production line, or just one production line of Dr. Pepper in cans.