November Fog

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November it the pearl-gray month

the changeling between

warm crimson October

and,

cold white December

the month when the leaves fall, in slow drifting whirls,

and the shapes of the trees are revealed

when the earth imperceptibly wakes

and stretches her bare limbs

and

displays her stubborn

unconquerable strength

before she settles uneasily into winter

November is secret and silent

Alison Uttley –

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Fall Apple Picking (like you do.)

Couple of weeks ago, back in October, we needed an outdoor activity so it seemed only fitting that we head to an orchard.

It was the last perfect weekend, with weather warm enough for tees and jeans. The apples were Jonagolds and delicious. 

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I think we each ate four apples each and left with slight stomach aches. 

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Those apples are all peeled and cut in the freezer waiting to be turned into apple crisp for this winter. They're like little treasures from a beautiful day stored up for a cold day.

Austria (at last)

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Back in August I left behind good ol' 'Merica and took off across the pond to the country of my birth — Austria. 

Anyway, I have a hard time whenever I get home from Austria because to me it's not just a vacation. I go there to visit and soak up as much time with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins as possible. I'd be silly to ignore the fact that I get a lovely vacation and intimate view of life in another country while there. However, when I get back it's hard for me to want to edit the pictures or write a blog post, because the pain of leaving and not knowing when I'll go back is still raw.

Lucky for you, I have to make my annual photobook around this time of the year and that meant I had to edit my pictures and since they're done I figured I should share some of the beauty. As the first snowflakes fall here in Michigan, let's take a little trip back to the summer when the days were long and warm.

While I was there this time my plan was just to tag along with whatever my family was up to and not worry about doing specifically tourist things. I hadn't been over there in the summer in 7 years and somehow I had forgotten how beautiful the entire country is in summertime. I highly recommend just going over there and striking out into the countryside to experience the charm of the land.


Gmunden/Traunsee:

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Family and the Mühlviertel region:

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Innsbruck, Austria:

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Freistadt, Austria:

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Hudson the Camper

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Goodness. This post has been a long time coming. In case you've missed the rest of this story, you can find previous posts on Hudson the camper here and "his" Instagram page here.

The quick summary is that spring 2016, Dave humored his slightly crazy wife and bought her a 1964, 14 ft camper off of craigslist. I named him Hudson and have since updated and painted just about every square inch of the thing. We've used it before, but finally last week I finished the last couple things that needed to be done to truly call him done.

Dave did the hard stuff like tires and lights and putting up with me. I painted the interior and exterior, wallpapered, installed a new light, figured out curtains, added a matress and cushions, installed the sink, added new hardware and decorated.

My initial style inspiration was this mood board:

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Using the color scheme from a Hudson Bay Company blanket and other classic camping items, like Coleman coolers and enamel mugs, I wanted to keep things simple and unfussy, but also cozy.

To give you an idea of what I was working with, here are some before shots. It was structurally sound and the layout worked well, but everything else was rough.

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With those images in your recent memory, here's Hudson now:

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The exterior got a couple good coats of paint and a new yellow stripe. Dave wired trailer lights, put on new tires and made the hitch all safe and legal. 

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The seating area got a new light and cushions. I also hung curtain wire and hemmed my grandma's old bobble curtains to fit. The nice thing is that when we don't need them the curtains tuck away into those corners.

One of my favorite things is that the table can collapse down and make a bed. Originally it couldn't do that and it felt like a huge oversight, so I fixed that.

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The "kitchen" area also got a bunch of paint, new knobs and wallpaper too. The sink came with the camper and I'm assuming was the original one, but everything else was missing. It took me a long time to just say "good enough is good enough," saw the hole into the counter and stick that drink dispenser there as a faucet. I stuck an empty kitty litter box under the drain and called it good. There's something so freeing about not holding myself to perfection when working on a project — things get done!

After using the set up for a weekend, we couldn't love it more. Of course real plumbing would be even better, but since we're just camping it's so nice to brush our teeth indoors and have a place to wash our hands.

Obviously the rest of the under sink cabinet stores our fuel and propane.

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Having a real bed when we go camping? Yes Please! 

The mattress isn't anything special and the full size is a bit smaller than our king at home, but it's so cozy and set up so nicely, we both slept way better than in a tent. My favorite is that little shelf for my phone and glasses — since I get the wall side of the bed, of course. 

I also sewed up those pillow cases as a last minute addition and I think they're the perfect camp flannel. My Hudson Bay Company blanket gets the place of honor on the bed as well.

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I also got my green Coleman items — lamp and cooler. My parents had one when I was growing up and they scream "adventure time" to me. Both are thrift finds and it makes me love them all the more. The cooler fits perfectly into the bottom of the "pantry/closet" and the lantern moves around as it's needed.

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The top part of the pantry is a linen closet and since I have an addiction to throws it's pretty much just full of cozy blankets. Since it's been rather warm, we haven't needed them yet, but I can't wait until we do.

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A small thing that made a huge difference was taking time to find a place for everything and organize. I brought a packet of little screw in hooks and added them everywhere — inside the cabinets, on the walls, under things, anywhere that made sense. Now the mugs, kettle and towels have places they belong and it makes cleaning up so much easier. In such a small space it's a good thing because three out of place things create an instant feeling of messy.

I also took a little time on our camping weekend to watercolor a couple little paintings to fit in the coat rack/mirror we have hanging by the door. It felt like the final cherry on top to the decor and theme. One is a misty pine tree scene and the other is a welcome with Hudson's name and date on it.

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Our double sleeping bag is a $5 garage sale find. It's down filled and so warm. I especially love the tag on it and the promise that it's the sleeping bag "for the rest of your life."

Last weekend we took Hud up to Dave's parents cabin and took full advantage of the beautiful fall weather. We biked, kayaked, dirt biked, explored and generally enjoyed good coffee, food and fun people. It couldn't have been more perfect.

Finally, it's been a goal of mine to figure out how to make easy and quick videos of our adventures. So I forced Dave and myself to take videos on my phone and when we got home I combined them into a quick little video. It's so far away from perfect, but I have a feeling it's the sort of thing that will be precious to us in the future. I'm a bit embarrassed, but thought you might like the little video tour of Hudson at the beginning. You'll notice in it that we took the cats camping, but that's a whole other (crazy) story. 

Small Joys: Summer

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As I pack up to leave on a couple different vacations for 3.5 weeks, I can't help but feel like my blissful summer at home is coming to an end. I know when I get back I'll still have a couple weeks of summer, but the golden days we've been enjoying will be past. I'm not one to wish away summer on the first day of September, but I'll be starting a new job and we'll be fitting last minute adventures into the weekends before things wrap up for colder seasons.

It's been a summer for the books. Despite things like wayward cats, the biggest issue I've had with this season is how quickly it's flown by. I feel like we pay our dues during the long Michigan winter and then summer comes and goes in a snap. We spend the days feeling energized and happy from the warmth of the sun, so that even our work seems easier. The evenings are full of grilled dinners, golden light and fireflies. Every five days we get a weekend filled with adventures and friends. I would be hard pressed to imagine a better way of life.

I'll remember this as the summer I finally felt like this place became home. 

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Gathering up things that brought joy this week and taking a moment to be grateful.

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We finally made it up to the lake last weekend and it was just as dreamy as it always is. Clear turquoise water, boat rides, long chats and good food are things that just can't dissappoint.

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We finally got a rug for our living room. We've had it for a while, but I think it deserves a call out of its own. I've been eyeing it for months and it finally went on sale enough to grab it. When it arrived I was so surprised by just how comfy and soft it is. A+ in my book.

(close up in the picture below)

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Two weekends ago my foot got smashed between two jetskis while we were out on Lake Michigan. It wasn't anyone's fault, but a situation that turned sketchy pretty quick. I don't think I've ever been more sure that I'd broken a bone. Miraculously, it ended up being a severe bruise but nothing else. I've had a rainbow foot for a couple weeks and spent a couple days icing it, but I'm back to walking normally. Because I'm so grateful that it's not broken, I haven't even felt like the bruising is a bid deal!

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Been spending lots of time with this crazy. Since she's been back, we've cuddled lots. Right now she's sleeping next to me and just twitched in that goofy way that animals do when they're dreaming.

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Finally, I've recently started reading again. As a child I devoured books by the stack, but after college I took a couple years off of pleasure reading. I'm getting back into it and I love it. I'd love any good suggestions you might have!

The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last for ever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year — the days when summer is changing into autumn — the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.
— E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

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