Our Camper Christmas

I’ve been mulling over titles for this post for a few weeks; “A very merry Cat-mas”-“Deck the Hall (singular)”… we’ll go with a simple “Our Camper Christmas” since this will be our first Christmas in the camper and it’ll definitely be a very merry cat-mas I’m sure. 😉

Every year at our house we would decorate on Justin’s birthday weekend (Dec.1). We’d drink hot cocoa and dance around to Rock’n Around the Christmas Tree with antler headbands on. The only difference this  year was that we did the decking of our hall (singular) a little bit early. Our friends over at Mountain Modern Life asked us to be a part of a camper Christmas tour, so I had to up my game a little bit and get things done early. I’ll be honest, if they hadn’t asked us to participate, I probably wouldn’t have done much decorating. We weren’t feeling very festive. I was still looking over my shoulder wandering what happened to summer. Our year and specifically the last few months of camper life have been a little lack-luster. We’re ashamed to admit that we’ve had more changes to our plan than we have had things go according to it. Ultimately, we made a new plan that has us parked for another couple of months so we took that as an opportunity to cozy the place up for some restful weeks of winter here in Ohio. And to get into the holiday spirit because it’s impossible not to when your whole house twinkles. Plus, nobody likes a Grinch around the holidays, amiright?!

I wanted to do more DIYs and there’s still time but let’s be honest, I’ll probably just spend the rest of December watching terrible Christmas movies on Netflix. I did manage, however, to throw together some yarn for a cute and SUPER simple little wall hanging on an already DIY’ed drift wood piece I made a few months ago. You’ll see it below! We also really wanted to put up a tree and since we had the space in front of our big window and I went searching and found the perfect skinny tree. We used our normal ornaments even though they aren’t glamorous and most of them don’t really match. They’re all meaningful and special to us because of where they came from and we like to be reminded of our blessings this time of year.

I absolutely LOVED hanging real pine around the house in the winter. I used to go ALL-OUT lining the table and fireplace mantle with pine clippings and garlands so, you better believe I had some in my cart at Lowe’s on our last trip to grab a propane tank for our “tiny fireplace”… Which, I realized just now that I didn’t include in these photos because when I shot this tour, it was sixty degrees out and I actually had the door open most of the day. That’s Ohio for you. Anyway, here’s a little trick if you didn’t do this already; when you go to Lowe’s and probably Home Depot you can take the extra clippings from when they wrap the cut trees for customers and they’re FREE.

I wouldn’t say that we went all-out this year but instead we tried to keep things simple and minimal, with lots of glitzy light to keep our tiny space feeling warm and cheerful. Because we are mooch-docking we have the luxury of basically free 30amp hookups, so the outside lights are a huge bonus in a camper! Now, all we need is some snow around here and we’ll be in full hibernation mode.

My mom made those cute and crafty wood outdoor decorations. She’s the cutest. We started a shop this year for her creations but I haven’t had much time to get it going. You can check it out here -> Linen & Timber They also built our deck and basically the entire interior of our camper. 😀 You’ll probably also notice that there is a different cat in pretty much every photo. Yes, we know we’re crazy. We’ve had 5 cats for 10+ years, they’re our babies. The cute one with the gold eyes is our youngest and she appeared in our old garage on National Cat Day, so I had to keep her. Then, we somehow adopted two outdoor kitties when we moved here and they are just the sweetest, brother and sister, kitties ever! Crazy, cat-crazy.

So, I hope you enjoy our camper Christmas tour and we hope your holidays are full of twinkling cheer, joy and cozy nights around a warm fire! We’re happy to answer any of your questions about camper living, renovating or cats if you’ve got ’em…haha!

Note, check out the links at the bottom of the post to see all the other 13 camper tours in the Christmas in the Camper series! So much tiny inspiration!

-Merry Christmas + Happy New Year from Mallory + Justin

 

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On Stillness

On Stillness

I haven’t always understood the value of being still. In fact, I used to believe, like most people do, that by constantly moving and doing that I was making progress somehow. During and after college, I had a demanding job that required me to work long hours and weeks at a time without a full day off. Time spent with my partner was limited to late nights after work or in passing between shifts. I went on for years like that without noticing…without knowing that I could’ve been happier in so many ways. I now endearingly refer to those as my ‘collecting years’. I was collecting paychecks, collecting debt, collecting clothes to fill my closet, collecting stuff I would later call junk. I was collecting trivial friendships. But, I was successfully ticking all the boxes on the checklist of life, surely well on my way to success and happiness in anyone’s perspective. I had a well paying job I liked, a nice car, a nice house. I had lots of nice things to put in my nice house. Nice clothes. A nice vacation once a year, if I was lucky. I could eat at nice restaurants and order fancy drinks. Because I had all these nice things, it seemed not to matter that I wasn’t creatively stimulated or that the friendships I had weren’t meaningful or lasting. I was climbing a ladder to somewhere and I had to keep doing what I was doing in order to get there. That’s how it seemed.

I can’t recall what changed or what life event inspired a new perspective, maybe it was marriage or finally, after 5 years, finding balance in owning a business, maybe it was the birth of 1-8 of my nieces and nephews or maybe it was the constant stream of content and information flooding my brain at all hours of the day because of social media. I really don’t know. But I changed. I started going out to go in, like that John Muir quote. “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

I started finding peace in just intentionally sitting and watching the light bounce off the surfaces of the room. Some of my best laid plans were made out of ideas born on trail hikes and bike rides. I’d have these long, script-worthy conversations with my husband about life and meaning, always while we were trekking up a mountain or making a long drive on some back road. I started to really acknowledge the feeling I got from those breakthroughs and where I had to go to find it. Stillness. Stillness in motion not so much but stillness in whatever is happening in that moment.

My best moments aren’t the ones where I am rushing between errands, multitasking text messages and instagram posts or half-listening to conversations while making to do lists. But those moments still happen sometimes. The difference is that used to be the whole of who I was and how I’d spend my days.

Now, I have a less is more mentality. A very stark contrast to my ‘collecting years’’. Now I simplify, I focus, I’m intentional. I find myself…I hear myself in the stillness. When I shut out the world and intentionally tune in to something present, whether it’s the crunching sound my hikers make against the gravel and dirt or the steady buzz my bike tires make against the pavement, interrupted only by my heavy breath, it’s as if I can see more clearly and feel more keenly. Even something as simple as cranking up the radio and belting out the lyrics to my favorite song, I’m less overwhelmed by the traffic and less annoyed by all the distracted drivers surrounding me. When I put down my phone for conversations, when I put down my camera to take in a vista I’ve worked hard to witness, I can be more of the person I know myself to be. And being present for even the most trivial of moments in my day gives everything meaning that I didn’t give myself the chance to notice before. Even shutting out the constant stream of visual content and information sometimes opens the door to a creative breakthrough. I try looking inward or at nature for inspiration rather than replicating, though it’s hard.

The very act of sitting down to write this has opened up a room of questions. By being intentionally singular and checking in to the stillness of our minds (and our screens), can we find ways to truly experience our lives, no matter who we are, rather than speeding through, on a mission to a place we don’t even know exists? Are we free to shape our own version of success and still be accepted or seen in a flattering light or will those of us who live unconventionally be separated imminently from normal society? If we live by the standards set for us by the masses and don’t consider them intentionally for ourselves and our own unique life, are we really ourselves or are we a version of someone else? Are we blindly following in the path of those before or around us?