Plants And A Sound Bar

Written by Lee

At the beginning of June, on one of our days exploring around St. Louis, we ended up at a place called Eckert’s for lunch. It’s a “pick your own” farm, with a country store, restaurant, and a greenhouse. While we were waiting for our table for lunch we were browsing around the store and I ended up in the greenhouse and they had a bunch of herbs in little pots, pretty reasonable priced. I decided I wanted to see if it would be possible to have a little herb garden in the rig. I thought it would be nice to have some color and some fresh herbs to use in cooking. Plus, some of them just smell great.

Our rig has a front living room, which is unusual, and it also has a pretty big front window, which is also unusual. That front area gets really hot, and I had just put in a little lightweight curtain rod and curtain to help cut down on the crazy heat since the summer has been so hot. I had actually been thinking about this specific space in the rig for a while.

The TV is on a lift that goes up and down, but we generally leave it up and so the space between the TV and the window is sort of wasted space, and I thought I could put that to good use. That area usually gets lots of sun, because the front cap is sloped backwards quite a bit. It’s also hard to see in the picture, but because of the shape of the front cap, the window is actually sort of boxed in in the front. The white area on the sides is also at the bottom and top, and as you can see, lots of sun. The idea was that we could get rid of some of the knick-knacks, which have been there since we started full timing, and I could some plants in there. We would also get in the habit of putting the TV down when we aren’t actually watching it, and have the view of the plants and the outside world.

So we got rid of most of the stuff, and I picked out some herbs that I thought we could use, and also a few really interesting plants that I just liked. I bought oregano, lemon thyme, sage, mint, chocolate mint, thai basil, parsley, cilantro, lemongrass, and thyme. I also got a few plants that I thought were cool just to look at.

White Euphorbia, because it is low maintenance and blooms all season.

Spiral rush. Really cool looking plant!
Twisted Celosia Cristata, because it also blooms all season.
I also got whatever the hell this is. I love it, but I don’t know what it’s called. It likes living here though, it’s three times bigger in this picture taken 7/9 than when I bought it 6/6

Of course I had to immediately repot all the plants into slightly larger pots with potting soil, and I had to do a fair amount of running around to find inexpensive, lightweight pots. As with many of Lee’s projects what starts as relatively simple gets more complicated, but I don’t mind because he keeps me involved in the process every step of the way. – Trace

This was my original plan, to put each pot into a basket, but as you can see, it would have looked terrible. The shape of the window ledge makes a gentle curve, and the baskets are way too big. I ended up using one of the baskets to organize the drawer in my couch and it fit perfectly. The other ones we gave to our daughter Kat -Trace

I ended up staggering the pots in the window box in a zig zag pattern to fit as many as I could in there, and then the others I put just outside the box. They get just as much sun. I can also move some of them to the desk if I need to or want to. It looked amazing, smelled good, and I absolutely love having fresh herbs to cook with. So far I have used chives, cilantro, lemon thyme, and oregano in recipes and they worked great – Trace

Then I went all over the city to a bunch of nurseries and other stores trying to find the right watering can. I didn’t want some cheap plastic thing that I would have to hide in a cabinet, I wanted something that could be left out, that would fit in aesthetically. I found the perfect one at an Ace hardware store, and Ikea had a nice little lantern that holds an LED candle we had that goes perfectly with it. I really like the watering can too because it looks decorative – Trace

So that’s all done, now we’ll see how they grow!

The Sound Bar

After the plants I decided to replace our junky stock “stereo” with a sound bar. We don’t use the radio, we only use the stereo as the sound for our PC to watch TV and movies. Removing the stereo and speakers would allow me to have much better sound, and it would also reclaim valuable wasted space.

As always, I am amazed at how much space is wasted in a rig. As you can see in the picture below, there are two storage compartments on either side of the stereo. We use those compartments to store books. They looks small, but they’re surprisingly large. They’re 30″ wide, 18″deep, and 8″ high, so they’re a whopping 2.5 cubic feet each. That’s around 60 paperbacks per cabinet. Hooray more room for books!!! – Trace

That stereo and speakers were eating up a LOT of space. Way back in March 2017 I had to remove the stereo to do some work on it and I was amazed at how much wasted space was back there. At that we considered getting a sound bar, but didn’t. It doesn’t look like it, but when you consider the stereo AND the speakers, it’s a lot. The height and depth is the same as the other cabinets, but the width is a whopping 40″! So an additional 3.3 cubic feet of space, just going to waste.

I got to work tearing it all apart. Carefully, in case something didn’t work and I had to put it all back together. Have to admit I was a little nervous at this point but spoiler it all turns out ok 🙂 – Trace

The speaker covers just pop off. They’re held in place with standard cabinet latches. The trim ring around the stereo comes off and there’s just 4 screws holding it in place. And behind is a MESS of 12v and video and audio wiring.
In order to clean up some of the AV wiring I needed to remove the fireplace (just a trim ring and 4 screws, again) to make sure I was removing the right cables.
Because the stereo was already being used as the amp for our PC sound, I didn’t need to run any new audio cables, just verify which ones were in use. The stereo had three different audio lines, and two of them were not going to be used.
Removing the speakers was just a matter of unscrewing them from this panel, and then tapping out the panel, which was just stapled in.
After everything on the stereo was disconnected, I decided to leave the wiring intact, and just tuck it up into the hole in the ceiling so in the future if I ever wanted to do anything with the outside speakers I could.

I had to get regular 120v power up there, so I just used the holes I had created and followed the same path I used when I installed RGB LED lights into the glass door cabinets way back when we first started.

I also didn’t want to deal with doing the hidden hinges on the new cabinet door, so I just used a “bronze” hinge that matches the rest of the cabinet hardware throughout the rig. This level of detail is what I love about Lee’s projects. He made sure I could open the door no problem and I got to decide if the color was close enough. -Trace

And I was lucky enough that Home Depot had 1/2″ x 8″ poplar stock that was a perfect fit, so I only needed to cut it to length, no ripping required.

Once I got everything in place I tested it to make sure there were no problems before I finished up.

The sound bar came with surface mounting brackets, which was nice, and I needed to put holes in the new door to hide the cables, but that was pretty simple.

With the sound bar mounted and the cables hidden it is starting to look pretty good.
I was able to find a pretty close stain match. The colors appear much closer in person than in the pictures.

I also added three gas lifts because the door was far too heavy to hold up with the sound bar.

A quick trip to Michael’s and Trace found some greenery she really liked and now we have a nice new sound bar, with almost 3 1/2 cubic feet of new storage, and it all looks pretty good! This was my contribution adding the flowers which Lee not only approved up but helped me pick them out and affix them. For those of you who do projects and your partner is not that thrilled I recommend letting them stay involved – Trace

UPDATE: in the month since all of this happened, the plants have really thrived. The sage, basil and lemon thyme had to be replaced because they didn’t survive the transplant, so I got purple basil, and two new lemon plants. I also got rid of the lemongrass and Trace got a nice jade plant instead. We’ve used some of the herbs, and they look, smell and taste great! I’m super happy with it, especially since Lee does all the watering!- Trace

Tracy’s jade plant that replaced the lemongrass

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5 thoughts on “Plants And A Sound Bar

  1. Looks great!! Fresh herbs make a world of difference. Agree the unknown herb is rosemary. We like to throw a couple sprigs on the charcoal when grilling salmon.

  2. When we were traveling, I bought a Kindle. It’s a miracle! Holds a jillion books, and takes the space of a small pad. Talk about freeing up storage!! Loved it!

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