Have I gushed about how awesome my husband is lately? Yes, he makes me laugh and takes awesome care of me and our son (example: last weekend we had a wedding to attend and my stepdad threw out his back and couldn’t watch our son. Mr. Kelly dressed up Hankie Pankie in a suit jacket and Chuck Taylors and brought him to the ceremony, played with him in the sand at the beachfront venue while I did bridesmaid-y things, and then drove him home to my Aunt Debbie who was able to sub-in and put our little man to bed. All told, he drove 4 1/2 hours so that he would be there beside me to watch one of my best friends tie the knot. That’s a good man!) In addition to all of that, he is a one man renovation master and has been very supportive of my wandering career search.
People tease that I married him for his skills but I didn’t. I married him because he brought me a Wendy’s chocolate frostie in a cooler filled with dry ice to enjoy after a romantic waterfront dinner on our first date. The man listened, and knew the way to my heart was my stomach! But let’s talk about his skills. Seriously this guy would rock at hosting an HGTV show. We’re on his second house of renovations and his only formal training other than electrical work (his profession) is a few years spent goofing off with Farmer Ross in a cabinet shop in high school. (I met Mr. Kelly through my sister and Farmer Ross when they were dating, and have been hearing stories about the boys goading beer off of the older employees and singing along to ACDC while drinking Strawberry Milks on cabinet delivery runs since we first met.) I have not heard too many stories about actual work or learning happening at this cabinet shop but he somehow made it out of there with a pretty good grasp on woodworking and a real can-do attitude.
Everything he doesn’t know, my husband learns on YouTube. His biggest asset is his confidence because he is willing to start things without much of a plan and somehow always manages to make it work. This MacGyver approach to building is not at all unlike my father’s boundary pushing creativity, and you know what they say about girls marrying a version of their dads.
Over the years with me, Mr. Kelly has turned into a renovation addict. While he doesn’t necessarily enjoy every minute of the work (real talk- there is a lot of swearing involved) he loves the $ sweat equity $ results. I have to convince him daily that I don’t want to move yet since he is already in search of our next project, despite the fact that our current home is only about 40% remodeled. Thankfully, the 1966 Aladdin “canned ham” camper we are remodeling to be the home of Happy Camper Cocktail Company is a very timely and needed scratch to his constant project itch.
As we recently hinted at in this post, and announced on our Instagram account, we are turning our newly purchased 1966 Aladdin Hideaway “canned ham” camper into the Happy Camper Cocktail Company headquarters. (You can read more about Happy Camper Cocktails here while we work on completing the official website.) Mr. Kelly surprised me by being pretty gung-ho over this idea of mine and he has shown his support ever since by assisting in the hunt for, purchase, and renovations of our trailer headquarters. We need to create an attractive mobile bar that is also highly functional. The Happy Camper will need to include a working tap system, adequate and accessible storage for barware, tables, décor, alcohol, ice, and serving ware; and a functional layout for our bartenders to serve from. Finally, it needs to be super freaking cute. As you can imagine, this is quite the challenge. The trailer is only 15 feet long so our biggest restriction is space. Luckily, we’ve closely followed the tiny house movement and I was a hell of a dollhouse decorator as a kid. It all starts with confidence, right?
We began by removing 90% of the Aladdin’s original interior, a process that I literally could not watch. I love old things and have way too attachment to the nostalgia of vintage goods to watch them be ripped apart, but I know it was necessary to move forward with the Happy Camper. Mr. Kelly did the (dis) honors and I was grateful. I told him about 37 times to be careful when removing items so that as much as possible could be saved and recycled. He removed lighting, cabinetry, the fold down table, the bench beds, and much of the interior birch paneling. In doing so, we knew we’d find some wood rot in the trailer because it is virtually impossible to store a camper trailer for 50 years in Washington state without it getting wet. Unfortunately, we just keep finding it. This is what all of the travel trailer renovation forums we read cautioned us to expect, so we are disappointed but not surprised. The very careful demolition was not Mr. Kelly’s favorite activity. The only good part of demo day normally is the release that comes with aggressive hammer swinging and I denied him of this. However, it was worth it.
A bright spot came after my insistence to keep and list many of the interior pieces we removed from the Happy Camper. From reading the forums I’d noticed a robust online market for parts. There is a huge sub-culture of vintage camper owners who take their Shastas, Spartans and Airstreams out on the open road and like to camp together in big meet up’s. Some purchase their campers already remodeled but many are true restoration artists who relish the opportunity to bring these babies back to their former glory. One such couple who own a 1961 Aladdin already bought our stove, the lamp style light for the kitchen, and the shade for the front window. They were lovely people from Everett who enjoyed a beer at a local Enumclaw restaurant, Jackson’s, while waiting on me to come sort through our stuff. We talked about their project and they said they had been looking for months for stove parts and were very happy that we took the time to remove the parts in good condition and search for interested buyers.
While it blew Mr. Kelly’s mind that people would search craigslist for months for a few small parts he got well deserved good feels from their compliments and their happiness with their purchase. Weekend by weekend we make a little more progress on the Happy Camper and I get more and more excited for the fun road ahead.
The Happy Camper Cocktail Company is the accumulation of months of prep-work and years of searching for my niche. I believe that I have finally found an ideal niche for both myself and in the industry with the Happy Camper Cocktail business. As a cocktail lover, passionate party planner, and dessert obsessed blogger I have been wondering how to combine all of my interests in one business that meets a significant need for people and I am confident that Happy Camper Cocktail Company does so. Plus, now I have an excuse to continue building out my beloved vintage barware and serving ware collections! We’re just beginning to advertise and book clients for summer 2016 so if you can help us start to spread the word with event planners, potential clients, venues and all your friends I would appreciate it to the moon and back!
Until the next update, I’ll probably be at an estate sale buying ALL of the milk glass or feverently pinning pinspiration.