Small Joys: Christmas Snow

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We had a dump of snow on Wednesday night — almost 10 inches. It was the first true snow, leaving branches with little white hats and threatening to fall into the tops of boots.

We just had to go out and trudge into it yesterday evening. We couldn't stop ourselves. There's magic in being the first to walk across a freshly laid blanket of snow. I highly recommend it. 

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Anne came dancing home in the purple winter twilight across the snowy places.
— L.M. Montgomery

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. 

Life Lately (+ Small Joys)

With everything that's been going on with the holidays and moving, I figured it was time to do a little update on what life over here looks like these days.

To be honest, I barely recognize it right now. The main players are all the same — job, kitties, husband, family — but the place, the routine, the rhythm are all different.

Our first week here was filled with the excitement and joy of Christmas, family time and newness. As all that wore off and we were left with a ginormous mess, renovations in every room, and no space that felt clean or cozy, things got a bit ugly. I don't want to be a downer, but have to admit that change is hard, we've had alot of it around here lately, and it hasn't all been sunbursts and butterflies.

There have been bright moments that confirm this decision and there have been times we look at each other and think "what have we gotten ourselves into?" And it's ok. These are the days we'll look back at with a chuckle. Because we're building a home here and it's going to feel so amazing when it's done.

With no further ado or whining, I gathered up a few things that brought joy this week and am taking a moment to be thankful.

-- Coffee. I go to bed looking forward to it.

-- Kitten cuddles for days. Literal days. Ellie has decided I am her favorite cat bed and spends hours upon hours sleeping on me while I work from home.

-- Our bathroom is mostly done. The floor is down. The vanity is in and the water is hooked up. The walls are no longer green. Little things like a TP holder and towel racks aren't in yet, but it's the one room of the house that feel nice to be in. And that's not to be underestimated.

-- Dave younger brother has been a lifesaver. After so many projects, Dave and I were a bit burned out, when his brother showed up and pretty much single handedly assembled the kitchen cupboards. He also had graciously been around at least 3 nights to help install the same cabinets and the countertop. I don't say this lightly, but he's the best.

-- An old friend we've reconnected with bundled up her two kids and brought me a loaf of fresh bread and a jar of homemade jam last week during my lunch. My house was a mess, she'd had a rough morning, but in that moment it was everything I needed.

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Our Next Adventure

Drumroll please....

We closed on a new house last night.

This signals the start of a new stage of life for us. We're so excited and a bit nervous too.

The past month has been filled with an insane amount of big decisions and hard work. We found a house, offered, had our offer accepted, made the big decision to move, packed up a quarter our stuff, got our house ready to list, listed it, had 5 showings in a week, I got approved to continue my job remotely and now we've closed on the new house.

We didn't pick the timing. In fact, I probably would have chosen any other time than the holidays, but this is how it happened, and it's working out. And now we'll have Dave's slow season to settle in the new house.

To back up just a bit, we began casually looking at houses closer to Dave's job to cut down on his 1 1/2 hour commute the last week of October. We knew continuing to live the way we have since March was not sustainable. Our thoughts were that we might find something and move sometime in the spring or summer of 2017. 

We started looking at country houses on 5+ acres with enough space to raise a family. However the market for that type of house in the area we were looking was not ideal and we got pretty discouraged that we'd have to settle for an ugly house or do a major (expensive) remodel.

October 30: we returned home from some showings feeling disappointed and I escaped by taking a nap. When I woke up, Dave had an idea he wanted to bounce off me. He suggested instead of putting the pressure on ourselves to find a house for the next 20 years, we look for something that will work for the next 5. Something like the house we have right now, with a few improvements and closer to his work. He even had two houses as examples to show me on Zillow. 

All of a sudden I felt so much better. This we could. This was manageable. 

We decided right then and there to look into one of the houses Dave had found. It was only 5 minutes from his office and had a few details that had me excited.

October 31: Dave couldn't sleep that night because he was thinking about that house. In the morning, he reached out to the realtor and got a showing despite the fact that she was planning to take the listing down that day. I had to be at work that day, but was able to take a break while Dave walked me through the house on facetime. We both loved it. That night we added our offer to the 2 others already submitted. 

November 1: We woke up the next morning to find out our offer had been accepted and I drove down after work to get my first in real life look at the house. (I had 24 hours to see the house and approve as a contingency in the offer.) Well, I couldn't find anything I didn't like or couldn't imagine making work. This house had all the little things we always wished to add to our old house. The only thing missing was a dishwasher and we could fix that. It wasn't any bigger than our old house — still just a small 2 bedroom, 1 bath. But we'd have a basement and bigger closets. For me a big selling point was how much natural light the windows let in and the views out of the windows. It was all we need. 

Over dinner that night we discussed the reality of the decision. Going through with the offer meant we'd move toward many things, but also away from the home we'd built for 3.5 years. We felt a bit crazy, but we had to strike while the iron was hot. So we did. Our decision was official on November 1. It was a week after we'd started looking. 

And now here we are. With a new house on our hands. And a whole new life to build. We can't wait to get started. 

For now, here's a picture of our air mattress bedroom setup in the new house:

Leelanau Favorites

The Leelanau Peninsula is one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. The landscape is beautiful and the culture is laid-back and welcoming. It's one of those places that is fun to just wander around and explore. I am by no means an expert, but here are a few of my favorites in the area:

 

Free Things to Do:

M22   FOLLOWS THE LAKE MICHIGAN SHORE FOR ALMOST 120 MILES OF THE LEELANAU PENINSULA COAST. IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DRIVE THROUGH A TUNNEL OF TREES WITH VIEWS OF THE LAKE AND CUTE TOWNS SCATTERED ALL ALONG.

M22 FOLLOWS THE LAKE MICHIGAN SHORE FOR ALMOST 120 MILES OF THE LEELANAU PENINSULA COAST. IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DRIVE THROUGH A TUNNEL OF TREES WITH VIEWS OF THE LAKE AND CUTE TOWNS SCATTERED ALL ALONG.

Fishtown Leland  is a perfect little tourist trap, in the best sense of the word. Old fishing huts house cute shops alongside still operational fishing industry. 

Fishtown Leland is a perfect little tourist trap, in the best sense of the word. Old fishing huts house cute shops alongside still operational fishing industry. 

We discovered  Sleeping Bear Point  somewhat randomly while out looking for a beach. There is a parking lot past the Maritime Museum and then you have a short hike on a sand path over a couple small dunes to the beach. We went back 2 days in a row because it wasn't crowded and the waves there were some of the best for swimming.

We discovered Sleeping Bear Point somewhat randomly while out looking for a beach. There is a parking lot past the Maritime Museum and then you have a short hike on a sand path over a couple small dunes to the beach. We went back 2 days in a row because it wasn't crowded and the waves there were some of the best for swimming.

Free samples galore!  Cherry Republic  is known for their samples and for good reason. They have a shop filled with various cherry products and give you the opportunity to taste just about every one of them. It's super fun and I still kinda want the adorable black bear puppets they have there.

Free samples galore! Cherry Republic is known for their samples and for good reason. They have a shop filled with various cherry products and give you the opportunity to taste just about every one of them. It's super fun and I still kinda want the adorable black bear puppets they have there.

A bit further south,  Point Betsie  is one my favorite lighthouses. Take a ride down M22 to see it. 

A bit further south, Point Betsie is one my favorite lighthouses. Take a ride down M22 to see it. 

 

Eat + Drink:

Ugh, I wish this  coffee shop  could replace the biggby down the street from my office. The atmosphere is so calming and the coffee is super super tasty. I might have a crush on this place.

Ugh, I wish this coffee shop could replace the biggby down the street from my office. The atmosphere is so calming and the coffee is super super tasty. I might have a crush on this place.

I'm such a sucker for atmosphere. I couldn't tell you a thing about the wine  here , but I remember soaking up the sunset and the sophisticated farmyard feel. 

I'm such a sucker for atmosphere. I couldn't tell you a thing about the wine here, but I remember soaking up the sunset and the sophisticated farmyard feel. 

Leelanau Cellers  has been my favorite Michigan wine for ages. In fact the bottle of wine I bought on my 21st birthday was one of their Winter White. Their tasting room is super un-intimidating and chill, which is important to a casual wine drinker such as myself.

Leelanau Cellers has been my favorite Michigan wine for ages. In fact the bottle of wine I bought on my 21st birthday was one of their Winter White. Their tasting room is super un-intimidating and chill, which is important to a casual wine drinker such as myself.

I recently noticed that  Moomers  was everywhere in the Leelanau area. I wasn't quite sure what the fuss was about until we gave it a try and I'm a convert for sure. 

I recently noticed that Moomers was everywhere in the Leelanau area. I wasn't quite sure what the fuss was about until we gave it a try and I'm a convert for sure. 

 

Other Activities:

I love meaningful, non-trinket-y souvenirs. Things I already intended to add to our home, but the fact that we pick it up on a special trip makes it more meaningful. When we walked into  Darling Botanical , I knew immediately we'd be leaving with a little air-plant terrarium. You may end up with one of your own if you go here.

I love meaningful, non-trinket-y souvenirs. Things I already intended to add to our home, but the fact that we pick it up on a special trip makes it more meaningful. When we walked into Darling Botanical, I knew immediately we'd be leaving with a little air-plant terrarium. You may end up with one of your own if you go here.

I can't believe we hadn't done this until our last trip up there. Pretty much this is classic  Sleeping Bear Dunes . You need to do it at least once. You won't be disappointed.

I can't believe we hadn't done this until our last trip up there. Pretty much this is classic Sleeping Bear Dunes. You need to do it at least once. You won't be disappointed.

This place is in the same building as Darling (above) and I would move in if they let me. Aptly names  Wood + Cloth , I couldn't get over the textures and materials of everything they carry. 

This place is in the same building as Darling (above) and I would move in if they let me. Aptly names Wood + Cloth, I couldn't get over the textures and materials of everything they carry. 

At the very tip top of the Peninsula,  Grand Traverse  is a picturesque trip through the rolling countryside with a classic lighthouse at the end of your drive. 

At the very tip top of the Peninsula, Grand Traverse is a picturesque trip through the rolling countryside with a classic lighthouse at the end of your drive. 

I hope to add new things soon. The whole area is just chock-full of beautiful views and quaint spots. If you have any favorites, I would love hearing about them. And if you plan a trip, I hope this gives you a good idea of where to start once you get up there.