Thursday, July 18

Michigan Camping Trip (Sleeping Bear Dunes + Petoskey)

A travel blogger, I am not. But we took our first trip in our DIY camper van and, guys - it was too good not to share. Like I'm still thinking about it two months later and I cannot recommend this trip enough. It was beautiful. The views were stunning, and it was perfect for our little adventure loving boys.

So here is a quick rundown of the details. Partly to help if you want to plan your own trip (it's just a hop and skip for my Midwestern friends!) and partly so I can remember the details later. Mom brain and all. :)

Thursday, July 11

DIY Floor Plan Art (and How to Find Unique Art That You Love!)

Pinterest is full of unique wall art ideas - everything from maps to hats, and even antique bike frames. You can turn almost anything into a piece of art. But here's the thing:

Art should be something you love.

I mean, those hats look pretty cool. And they're super trendy right now. But... do I love hats? No. I don't even wear hats. With the exception of one well-loved Magnolia hat that I only wear when my hair is too far gone. So a wall of hats probably doesn't deserve a place in my home. Guys, don't let the fickle winds of trendiness distract you from what your home should be. It should be yours. It should be a reflection of you and your family and the things you (really, truly) love.

If you feel stuck or confused when it comes to artwork in your home, the first thing you should do is make a list of the things you love (and the second thing is reading Cozy Minimalist Home to learn how to best display those things). Do you love running? Camping? Dogs? Tacos? Put those on the list! Those are the things that might deserve the honor of being on your walls. Did you notice that important word? Might? We only have so much wall space, guys. And we don't want to fill every inch. Let your master list serve as a starting point, but don't be afraid to weed out the things that don't make the cut for your walls (it doesn't mean they aren't still important to you!) and get a firm grasp on what really speaks into your life and your home.

So I don't love hats. But know what I do love? Here's my (shortened) list:
  • My Family
  • Plants
  • Books
  • Mountains
  • Rocks
  • Architecture
When you look around my home, those are the things you should see. Plus you'll surely see Star Wars posters and all manner construction paper creations because I'm not the only one who lives here, after all. This is a family deal and, like all things, it takes some balance.

Today our home is looking a little more "lived in," but we were here almost two years without any artwork on the walls. No photos, no paintings, nothing permanently hung anywhere. I was paralyzed with indecision as I looked for "the perfect thing" for our walls. I searched through home decor stores and scoured pinterest and instagram for ideas. Nothing felt right - because none of it was right for my home. But through all that time I had a little pile of collected goodies that I loved. I hadn't hung them for a totally ridiculous reason - they didn't look like what I was seeing everywhere else, so I thought they couldn't be right. Guys, I'm here to tell you that art should be something you love. Did I say that already? I finally took the plunge and turned a few of my favorite pieces into a gallery wall in the dining room. Then I added a little treasure shelf for the boys' nature finds. And things started to change. Now I have a clear vision for my home and I can tell more easily which things deserve our space and which ones just don't.

This all brings us (at long-winded last) to the whole point of today's post. The artwork I made for our guest room. It's collection of watercolor houses framed with floor plans, and it makes my heart happy. It also tickles the toes of our resident map-lover, because it's basically a house map.

Now if you've made it this far and you're thinking "I don't even like architecture" just hold on a second. Do you love your own home? The family you've raised there and the memories you've made? You can make one of your own home and just leave it at that. I'm planning to do our home on a larger scale to hang above the bed (and I'd also love to draw our last house because memories).

Thursday, June 27

DIY Insulated Camper Van Window Shades

When people find out we use our van as a camper, they typically have the same questions:
  1. Where do you all sleep?
  2. Do you have any privacy with all those windows?
  3. Isn't it hot/cold?
We already answered the first question with our DIY removable bunk system, and we'll address questions 2 + 3 today with DIY insulated window shades that provide both privacy and, well, insulation!

Check out all our camper van posts and tutorials here!

I was amazed the first time we used these shades - camping in 90+ degree weather in direct sun. We put up the shades, put a screen over the door to keep bugs out, and turned on a small portable fan. I napped in there with the baby without breaking a sweat. I couldn't believe it. I had been dreading the trip, afraid the van would be like an oven. But it wasn't!

I pretty closely followed this tutorial and used Reflectix insulation for the base of my window shades, then backed them with pre-quilted fabric. Could you use the Reflectix without the backing? Probably. It still insulates pretty well on its own, and it would save you some time and money for sure. So if funds are tight, give it a try! But the quilted fabric is great for several reasons: it gives more stability to the shades, adds another layer of insulation, and softens the interior of the van. I would use the quilted backing again in a heartbeat for that last reason alone. It helps to dampen sound and feels less stark than the plain Reflectix. It feels so cozy and quiet in there!

It was 90 degrees out in this photo, but we were cool and comfy in front of the fan! You can also see the window shades behind him.

Friday, June 21

Blueberry Cream Pie

I don't post recipes very often, but I just made this summer favorite last week and it was too good not to share! It's a perfect summer dessert - creamy, fruity, fresh, and subtly lemony.

You can also check out our favorite cold-weather dessert - chocolate volcano cakes!