Weekend Wandering: Up North 2016


Happy Monday and first day of August!

I have to share a bit from our mini getaway this past weekend. It was our annual trip to the Leelanau/Traverse City area. We’ve gone up there the last three years at least once and every time we go, it gets better. This time we learned a couple more things and found some new favorites. I want to go back so badly (I’m already scouting out beautiful Airbnb rentals in the area).

We combined this trip with a reunion with some of our best friends after a year apart. It felt extra special to be on a beautiful vacation with people we really like. We spent a bit too much time in the car and in tacky shops, but since we never stopped chatting, even those less exciting parts of the trip were great.

We enjoyed some of the best beach days I’ve ever had on Lake Michigan and watched 3 stunning sunsets. Some of my favorite times were our meals on the enclosed porch overlooking the lake. I’ll share the cutest spots we discovered later, in case you want to plan your own trip and so I don’t forget for next year’s trip.

Life is good when you’re Up North with friends.


Michigan the Beautiful


I’m sure you’ve noticed how much I love my home state, Michigan. While we may not live in the most interesting place — I like to compare our neck of the woods to a pancake — we’re never too far away from an adventure just waiting to happen. Michigan is one of those places that doesn’t exist anywhere else, mostly because of the Great Lakes. We take them for granted, but we’re they define so much of life around here. During the summer, we find ourselves in many cute shops and art studios all over the little towns and beaches. If I had walls that needed art here are some things I would love to fill our home with. I love these both for their beauty and because I have strong emotional ties to the subject matter. I hope you enjoy them.


Found Here These prints are stunning. Unfortunately I can’t afford them all.


Found Here This is the cutest. Wouldn’t it’d be perfect as wallpaper too.

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 2.05.13 PM.png

Found Here Dave and I spent so many hours on this beach in the UP. It’s even more beautiful in person.


Found Here This artist’s work is so complex and enjoyable. I love his detailed drawings as well.

Well, that’s a wrap: the craziest May

May was insane around here. I think we did enough in 3 weekends to fill an entire summer. We’ve declared this upcoming weekend a “mandatory weekend of rest” and will be staying home for some well-deserved quiet time.

When we made the plans for May, we didn’t quite realize what a whirlwind it would be. Every time we tried to figure out what we could cut, if anything, we realized that nothing was worth sacrificing. So we just zipped around the state like a pair of sleep deprived maniacs (I got sick twice) and soaked up all the moments with special people that we could.

Weekend I: gearing up for what we knew was coming. It was the first weekend we had Hudson and did some work on him. Nothing out of the ordinary, but we did have to squeeze in a quick trip up North in on Sunday to visit Dave’s parents.

Weekend II: Part 1: My little sister’s college graduation. She was a freshman my senior year, so it was a little crazy to think of her being done with school. We’re all so proud of her.


Part 2: We headed up north to celebrate our first anniversary in Petoskey at Stafford’s Bay View Inn. I was expecting it to be kinda old and stuffy, but it was so nice. It was so pretty and the room was very comfortable. We enjoyed a long dinner and had breakfast on their enclosed porch. The chance to relax and unwind without having to set up a tent or cook for ourselves was amazing. We kept saying it felt like a mini honeymoon.

Weekend III: Dave’s oldest brother was in state with his family. I took a day off to spend with them and it was so fun to get some time with our nephews, niece and sister-in-law that wasn’t because of a wedding or funeral. Just chill time to play and chat was so relaxing and fun. The only problem was it wasn’t enough time.


That Saturday we zipped down to photograph the wedding of my  high school best friends. Dave helped me and we worked as a team. It was a little stressful to be responsible for someone’s wedding pictures, but in the end I think it worked out well. We’re still amateurs, but we captured their day and got some really pretty shots. And we’re so happy that they’re married!

Weekend IV: This past weekend we only went to one place for a change. Hudson the Camper got to go on his first trip up north. We camped in Wilderness State part, where Dave had reserved the group campsite, so we had our own private campground to share with about 12 of our friends. Saturday morning we ran the Mackinac Bridge 8k. It was one of the coolest experiences — both for the views and because it was the longest race I’d ever accomplished. We spent the rest of the day on Mackinaw Island and enjoyed some of the best planked whitefish for lunch. Highly recommend the Village Inn on the Island. The rest of the weekend was relatively quiet filled with lots of food and chatting around the campfire. It was so nice to have Monday off to leisurely make our way home.

Here’s to a quiet weekend putting our home back together and enjoying some activities closer to home. June will feel like a breeze after May.


TGIF, and an update on Hud

Happy Friday! Hope you are well. I got hit by a nasty sore throat this week and am not back to normal yet, which put me behind on my work on Hudson.

I did get a chance to figure out the interior decorating scheme I want to go with for Hudson. His name comes from the Hudson Bay Company blanket I picked up and the lovely primary color scheme that inspired. These are some images I pulled together to visualize what we’re shooting for:Vision.jpgHowever, we also started a little Instagram account for those of you who want to follow along. I’m working on just keeping friends up to date on what we’re doing and not worrying about presenting perfect pictures (it’s a big step for me, people!). So if you’d like to see what we’re up to with this crazy endeavor, feel free to take a peek:  @hudthecamper

Have a lovely Weekend!

Hudson the Camper

Can you tell I have camping on my mind? Oh boy, so I had been stalking Craigslist for weeks looking for the right trailer for us. And last Wednesday I finally found it. Dave went to check it out and everything worked out so that he bought it, and now we’re the proud owners of this handsome dude:


He’s a little rough around the edges, but he is at least 50 years old. I named him Hudson and Dave calls him “Campy.” I feel a little silly giving him a name, but it just happened.

We’re not quite sure what the name and model of the camper are, though the back of it does have this faded decal:
5I’ve used my googling powers pretty hard and still haven’t found any clues as to what type of trailer ours is. There was an RV manufacturer in Tawas, MI called the Anderson Coach Company, but it closed in 1963. Supposedly they only used the best materials and were considered top of the line and also had another branch in Utah. I’m not kidding when I say that’s about all I know. (If anyone by chance knows more, I would LOVE to hear about it).

The interior of the trailer has already been pretty extensively redone. A previous owner had wanted it for a hunting hangout, but never finished it. He redid alot of the cabinetry and floor, however are no finishing touches at all. We’re lucky that the windows all still work and seem to be waterproof, the electrical is functional and the water damage is minimal. There are soft spots in the floor, but only small areas in the corners. We debated whether it was worth it to work on fixing them, but decided since we won’t be walking on the corners, we don’t know how long we’ll use this trailer and this doesn’t have to be flawless in order for us to enjoy it that we’d just prevent further damage and leave it as it is. We did not want to start pulling things apart.

Here are some before pictures of the state of the trailer when we bought it:

We’re not aiming for a perfectly restored retro trailer when all is done, we merely want a cozy little den to take on weekend trips into the woods. A simple place to hang out and be hospitable. If you’d like to follow along, I’m posting updates on Instagram — @hudthecamper.

To finish it out here are some of the logistical things we’re working with:

Budget: $1500 total


  • Fix/waterproof Roof
  • Grind off Rust and Repaint Trailer Frame
  • Replace Tires
  • Install Trailer Lights, other safety features
  • Paint Exterior
  • Make Table convertible into 3rd bed
  • Get/Make/Find Mattresses and Cushions
  • Customize Kitchentte
  • Paint Interior
  • Window Treatment
  • New Light
  • General Cozy-fy

Haiti 2016

Haiti-webWe never thought we’d be here writing this.  Never expected we’d use half of our vacation time for something like this.  And certainly never ever thought we’d ask for support.  But we are.  We’re going for it. Giving our doubts into prayer and on June 18th we’re heading to Haiti on a short term mission trip. We don’t know what we’ll encounter. We’re praying that not only will it be a formative and eye-opening trip for us, but that we will be God’s hands and feet in Haiti. Some details:

Every four years our home church here in Midland does an intergenerational, international missions trip and 2016 happens to be one of those years. While first we didn’t think we’d be joining, after the first informational meeting and three weeks of prayer and discussion, we truly feel called to join on this trip. We’re committed and while we still have doubts we continue in faith.


We are going with an organization called Poverty Resolutions whose mission it is to raise awareness for worldwide poverty, to inspire others to action, and to make a sustainable, lasting impact in Haiti. Since 2010, Poverty Resolutions has carried out development projects in Haiti and delivered educational presentations about global poverty to thousands of students in the U.S. Over the past few summers, hundreds of volunteers have joined Poverty Resolutions in Haiti and this year we hope to be two of those volunteers.

We are not foolish enough to think that we can do this alone. We know that all good things come from above and that any joy, blessing or growth that will come from this trip will be 100% God’s doing. We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t have faith that God will provide.  He will provide through your prayers and support.  He will provide in ways we cannot even imagine. 

Most of all, we want to thank you. Thank you for your influence on our lives through the years, both in person, from afar, and through prayer. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your love.

God Bless,

Esther and Dave

P.S. If you would like to support us financially, we have set up an account at gofund.me/myu2typg. However, please feel no obligation whatsoever.

Wandering Prep 6: Christmas in Austria

As I prepare Dave-Man and my own expectations for the holidays abroad, I’ve discovered how wonderfully unique my family’s Christmases were — half Austrian, half American. I’ve had to identify what will be different from the typical American experience and by helping him understand what to expect can set us up for a successful time. As I’ve collected the info for him I’ve gotten so excited to experience a fully and truly Austrian Weihnachten:


Advent: During the four weeks before Christmas families make an Advent Wreath from evergreen twigs and decorate it with ribbons and four candles. Each Sunday in Advent, an additional candle is lit and a song or two might be sung along with a small devotion preparing for Christmas! When all 4 are lit, Christmas has arrived.

Nikolaus aus Serviette gemal 2010 (1)

Nikolaus Tag: December 6th is celebrated by gifts and visits from St. Nicholas, either in person or through gifts left in shoes set in front of the door.


Christkindlmarkt: I’ve mentioned these before. They take place in most towns. Booths sell Christmas decorations, food and Glühwein (sweet, hot mulled wine). Larger cities have massive markets and draw people from all over the world to visit them.

weihnachtsbaumWeihnachtsbaum: Traditionally the Christmas tree is set up and decorated on Christmas Eve. Decorations include candles, sparklers, gold and silver ornaments and stars made from straw.


Christkindl: Some children believed that the (Christchild) decorates the tree. It leaves gifts to children on Christmas Eve under the tree. It is depicted as a golden-haired, winged baby, who symbolizes the new born Christ.

APFELKOCHEL ET KLOETZENBROTHeilige Abend: Christmas in Austria truly begins on the afternoon of Christmas Eve when the tree is finally lit for the first time.  After a church service, the main Christmas meal is eaten on Christmas Eve. My family over there eats Steinplatte — a type of fondue/self serve hibachi — where different meats are cooked at the table on a flaming hot stone plate. Various sauces, breads and salads are also served. Dessert is Austrian Christmas cookies ‘Weihnachtskekse‘. After some carols and a reading of the Christmas story, gifts are opened around the Christmas Tree.

stillenachtStille Nacht: Silent Night, written in Austria in 1818, holds a special place in Austrian hearts as the ultimate Christmas carol. It’s so special to me that I shy away from listening to the song before Christmas Eve and dislike most recordings I’ve heard of it because they just aren’t good enough.

Neujahrskonzert: Every New Years Day in Vienna the world-famous classical music New Years Concert takes place during the morning. It’s hosted in the ‘Großer Saal‘ (large hall) of the Musikverein, the concert hall of the Viennese Music Association. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra plays music from the Strauss family: Johann Strauss I, Johann Strauss II, Josef Strauss and Eduard Strauss. It is famous for its waltz music. During the last piece played, An Der Schönen Blauen Donau, the first couple notes are interrupted by applause from the audience and the musicians then wish them a Happy New Year —”Prosit Neu Jahr!

Growing up these celebrations seemed so ordinary. Only as I discover how different my experience was, do I realize what a neat and special heritage I have.

[image sources are linked to pictures, sadly some have been lost in the vastness of the world wide web]

Wandering Prep, Part 4: minimal and cozy

I’m the kind of person that tends to have 3 favorite items of clothing at one time and then wear that one outfit out. So in a way this packing list will let me do just that. Favorite sweater + leggings + scarf = forever. This list might not be quite 3 items, but for 3 weeks I’m keeping it pretty minimal:Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 4.05.43 PM

gray cords | black skinnies | green wool cardigan | gray sweatshirt tunic | white cable knit cardigan

gray long sleeve T-shirt | breton top | chambray button down

dirndl | cami | tank top | scarves | PJs

leggings | fleece lined tights | warm socks

My plan is to take only my absolute favorite and most versatile pieces. With two pairs of pants, plus leggings, I’ll be more than set on the bottom half. And all the tops can be worn together and/or interchangeably.

I’m sure you noticed one piece that seems a little unique. Austrian ladies wear dirndl — the traditional dress — during holidays and special occasions. It’s based on the historical Alpine peasant clothing and includes a short blouse and apron. I have one that is blue with a red apron and never get a chance to wear here. So you can imagine my excitement to bust it out for Christmas Eve. Now I just need to convince Dave-man to get a pair of Lederhosen.

As a girl who   L o v e s   scarves it’s killing me to downsize the selection to two (plus one or two for my outerwear). But, committing to this mini wardrobe isn’t that bad because my two cousins overseas will let me borrow sweaters, scarves and such if I start to hate my own things. Also, I plan on doing a bit of shopping over there. So don’t think of me as some extreme wardrobe capsuler or something. I’m really just saving room in my suitcase for bringing chocolate back.

And for fun, I’ll leave you with some different combinations I came up with in case I want to mix it up from my favorite combo:


Wandering Prep, Part 2: outerwear

Winter vacations require a bit more planning because warm clothing takes up more room than a couple shorts and shirts. I’d love to take all my cozy sweaters, 3 different coats and my 30 scarves. But since that’s not possible, I had to prioritize and plan a bit ahead.

Of course a warm coat and comfortable shoes are a necessity when you plan to spend many hours wandering through little towns and big cities in Europe. To minimize and reduce I’ve decided on a couple pieces that will work for a wide variety of activities:

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 4.35.34 PM

left to right (similar): boots | cozy scarves | leather gloves | beanie | coat

I already owned all these pieces except for the boots which I would have bought anyway as I needed a new pair of brown boots (my old ones no longer had any sole to them).

Since all outdoor pictures will include this outfit, I want to make sure I love it and that the pieces won’t get worn out.

I plan on picking up a scarf or two over there, so my scarf will be my one changeable accessory and add a bit of variation. I’m happy with this set and hope that with the black coat I’ll blend in enough with those cosmopolitan Austrians. 😉

Wandering Prep, Part 1: expectations

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

Austria: December 22, 2007

In a little over 6 weeks I pack this wandering heart up with Mr. Dave-man and “hop” the large pond to Austria. We get to spend Christmas there with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins! It’s our first Christmas together as well as  separate from our immediate families. And then my other dear friend and college roommate will join us for the last week of our visit. Three weeks of vacation in Europe is a pretty big deal. So it’s all super exciting and if I’m completely honest, I’m just a little nervous.

The logistics — transatlantic flying, taking care of travels, exchanging currency, and speaking german — don’t daunt me. Those things won’t be difficult. As someone who’s flown since infant-hood, things like airport security, passports and suitcases are a matter of norm.

I’m more nervous about taking two people I love to a place that is special and crucial to who I am. No one outside my family really knows what Austria means or is to me.Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Half of me is Austrian. I have the citizenship. I was born there. I speak the language. And yet most of the time that affects my daily life so little. But it’s always there. I struggle with how to include this part of me in my identity.

And now they will meet the people, see the places, get to know the Austrian Esther. It’ll all be out there for them to see. And I hope and expect them to love it all. But there is a little nagging part of me that worries they’ll hate not understanding the language, or think I’m a complete weirdo when I wear my dirndl. However, when I remember all the crazy facets of my personality these two have already put up with, I realize these fears are silly and the extreme, over-the-top planner in me gets distracted by all the fun little things I get to coordinate before take off.

coming soon: my ideas for wardrobe planning.