Category Archives: Projects

Together Up the Shore

Is there anything better than tucking away somewhere hidden with your love? How about if it’s in the middle of the week, out of cell range, without internet or TV, in the middle of a snow storm? Ahh, lovely. That’s exactly what Pete and I were able to do recently when a friend stayed with the kids and we headed up the shore.

Snow along Lake Superior

We stayed for two nights at a small lodge along Lake Superior, not far from Grand Marais and the Canadian Boarder.

Cascade Lodge on Lake Superior

The lodge was old and cozy with a big fireplace in the family room where we sat for hours talking to visitors from all over the country.

Pete at Cascade Lodge

There was also a pretty fantastic game room in the basement. It’s fun to play like kids when our own kids are with someone else.

Ang at Cascade Lodge

Snack, anyone?

Old Vending Machine

While we were cozy inside, it snowed and snowed and snowed. It was perfect.

Snow along Lake Superior

The snow did eventually stop, of course. When it did, we walked next door to a little pub and restaurant. Their walleye was amazing. Pete and I ate under the watchful eye of this big guy.

Cascade Lodge on Lake Superior

After two days, we drove back to Duluth, caught an afternoon movie, and went home to cuddle our babes. Two days away with my love. I can’t wait to do it again.


A few of you have asked about the progress of our sweet Beatrice – the vintage camper we’re working on. (If you missed our introduction post of our camping adventures, click here.) Beatrice is currently at a local camper shop getting a little work done. She needs some electrical parts replaced and a few spots patched in the roof. She’s also getting a new dinette installed since the old table didn’t actually belong with her and, therefore, wouldn’t turn into an additional bed. We pulled out all the mattresses and curtains before she left us, and we’ll soon be working with a local shop to have the them all remade (they were gross!). They’ll also be recovering the dinette cushions to match our vision for the inside, which means they’ll likely end up red. Once we get her back and the weather warms up a little (which is practically unimaginable in the bitter cold), we’ll paint her inside and out and start the fun decorating! I can’t wait for that! I’m thinking we may go primarily red and aqua inside with vintage postcards and maps of Lake Superior. Good thing we’ve got some great antique shops around here! I’ll be sure to post pictures of my antiquing and thrifting treasures as they are discovered. We can’t wait to go camping!

our vintage camper


What’s the weather like where you are? It’s frigid here! I may make a cup of chai and imagine I’m back in Kenya, where we were exactly one year ago. If you could go anywhere right now, where would you go?

Stay warm!



Hello, Beatrice! {the beginnings of a vintage camper adventure}

Ladies and gentlemen, new adventures are about to begin.

Meet Beatrice.

Yes, Beatrice. Or Bea. Miss Bea is a ‘vintage’ travel trailer from some time in the late-ish 1970s. (Some may say she’s just old. It’s all in the wording, and she deserves the title vintage.) Isn’t she just beautiful?!

Alright, I understand if you don’t think she’s particularly gorgeous, but think about all her incredible potential! It’s endless, my friends. Endless.

You may be wondering why on earth we would decide to add a camper to the mix. It’s a pretty simple answer, really. We want more time away together as a family. I grew up camping. Tents, pop-up campers, travel trailers. I have some really great memories playing tag in the woods with my siblings and swimming with other kids who were camping around us. I want our family to have that while we’re still here in the States. I adore the idea of tossing our stuff in the camper, hitching it up to the Jeep, and heading up the shore for a weekend. No distractions like house chores or work calls. Just the fam & the camper in the great outdoors. Yes, please.

Pete & I cautiously approached a delicate topic a few months ago that eventually led to the purchase of this beauty. I’m not kidding when I say delicate, either. We started to tip toe around the idea of…deep breath…selling our motorcycles. I know, I know. It wasn’t easy for us to even whisper the words.

with my beautiful bike in Bayfield on our 1 year anniversary – 2008

How many times have I ridden my bike in the last two summers? Two. Yes, two. It’s just hard to make it happen with the kids. How many places do I go without them? And now that Pete is working further away, he can’t ride his to the hospital. He’s too tired to have the necessary focus to ride home after a shift. Thinking ahead, we’ll be selling nearly everything in two or three years when we pack up for Africa. Bikes included.

After praying and talking and letting some time go by, we decided that we would be okay selling the bikes. Then we started exploring an idea. I had been dreaming of someday buying an old camper and fixing it up a bit. We asked why it had to be someday and started looking on Craigs List for a camper with a little potential.

It wasn’t long before we came across an ad for our Beatrice. A couple simple pictures were included with the ad, which looked exactly like what we were looking for, so Pete called the owner for a negotiating chat.

The ad didn’t list a price but mentioned he would be interested in trading for it. What did we have to trade? Our bikes. That was about it, so Pete mentioned one. The seller wasn’t interested in a motorcycle but asked if we had guns for a swap. Well, no. No guns. Cash? How much cash would he want for it?

You won’t believe how much he wanted. Apparently he had inherited this little camper but already had a really nice fifth wheel camper, so he just wanted to be rid of it. A thousand bucks. A thousand bucks? Done. We’ll take it.

Two days later we were planning to drive to my parents’ house, and the camper was on the way. We swung through to take a look, crossing our fingers and praying she would be right for us.

Just look at her! We couldn’t resist her captivating beauty and incredible price. Yes, there are a few things that will need to be addressed, but we can handle that. We’ll be using the money from the sale of our bikes to cover the remodeling. That’s the part I can’t wait to do. I have so many ideas!

Basically, we’ll begin with fixing the roof and outside lights at a local camper shop. Then we’ll have the ouside painted. We’re thinking a powder blue with a white stripe, perhaps. Then, we’ll move inside. The walls will be panted a very pale yellow (which is also the color throughout most of our house), the cushions will all be recovered in red, and we may go with new curtains in teal or a really pretty blue. We’re basically going for a 1950s or 1960s feel.

I’m so looking forward to hitting up a few antique stores to decorate. I want vintage postcards around the beds, an old map or two of Lake Superior, cozy quilts, little salt and pepper shakers, and durable plates and cups. I won’t go overboard and make it feel cluttered, since that’s not our style anyway, but I do want to make it cute.
Can you see my vision? It’s going to be adorable! And completely campable, of course. We’re already making camping plans with my parents and many friends for next summer. I plan to be in this baby as much as possible, even if it’s just parked in the driveway. Ella already thinks of Beatrice as her very own playhouse. She’s going to be great!
Oh, you’re probably wondering how we came up with the name Beatrice. Pete thought of it! Ella & I agreed that it sounded just right. We plan to have her name scrawled across the back, like you see on the back of sail boats.
Duluth, Minnesota
How grand.
Oh Ella, I feel the same way, my love. So many camping (and redecorating!) adventures await.

Did you go camping growing up? Did you use a tent or a camper? Do you have any memories that really stand out? I’d love to hear in the comment section below!


Cute Words & Oatmeal Sensory Box

My dear Ella has been saying the cutest things lately. She’s putting sentences together now and thinking about what they mean, which constantly surprises me. Here are a couple examples from the last two days.

Last night the two of us were playing downstairs. She was exploring her oatmeal sensory box (as seen below) along with one of her favorite dolls Lila. I say “doll” but she’s really a tall, skinny, metal lawn ornament that I think is supposed to be a lady bug. I tried packing her away for the winter, but Ella just wouldn’t have it. So now she stays in the basement for play times. Anyway, I was in the Annex and could hear Ella talking. She said, “Naughty, Lila, naughty. Bed.” Then, right before I heard the door shut, she said, “I love you.” When Ella came in the Annex, I asked what had happened. She told me, “Lila naughty.” When I asked why, Ella responded, “Lila eat oatmeal.” It’s true, Ella isn’t supposed to eat the dried oats in her sensory box. Apparently, neither is Lila.

This morning when I went to get Ella up, she gave me a giant hug, looked up, and very carefully chose her words when saying, “Ella’s favorite mommy.” I often tell her she’s my favorite girl, but she came up with the mommy phrase entirely on her own. What a sweet girl.

And just now I was up in her room following a timeout. I got down on my knees so I was on her level and told her to look at my eyes. I said it’s important to obey Mommy. After a second, she was still looking at me without saying anything, so I asked, “Are you listening?” She quickly responded, “What?” So obviously she wasn’t listening at all. I really tried not to laugh, but I couldn’t help it. I gave her a hug and hoped it wasn’t a reflection of her listening skills once she hits her tween years. Yikes.

I mentioned that Ella has an oatmeal sensory box. This is one of the things I put together for her this week in my search for toddler/preschool appropriate games, crafts, and activities. Now that I’m on break from classes, it’s really nice to be able to focus my time on things for her. I’ve scoured the internet and have been pinning ideas on Pinterest like crazy. I really liked the idea of these sensory boxes for the cold days that Ella can’t play outside in her sandbox.

oatmeal sensory box

I got the idea from the Pink and Green Mama blog. As a former art teacher, she’s got tons of ideas that we could do for days and days. I started with the sensory boxes. I already had a few shallow tubs, so I bought two tubs of oats and a few $1 animals at Target. The other toys were things we already had. I also bought a $1 plastic table cloth to go under the box for a quick clean up of spilled oats, especially when we’re playing in the basement on a rug.

oatmeal sensory box

Ella has spent lots of time at her oatmeal box already. Sometimes I play with her and sometimes I let her play alone. It’s fun to see her be imaginative with it.

oatmeal sensory box

I made another box using rice, which I’ll post a little later. That one has a different theme. The nice thing is that we can always change the themes if we want.

oatmeal sensory box
oatmeal sensory box
oatmeal sensory box

Design by: Bumble + Buzz Design // Copyright © The Mango Memoirs