Advise me :: knitting for travels in a developing country

People! I’m sorry for my radio silence! This month has been a flurry of activity – traveling, getting ready for traveling, holding down the fort while my husband has been traveling – wash, rinse, repeat. It has been intense. And very little knitting has been done (but oh do I have something fun to show and an amazing story to tell related to it).

In 24 hours – 24 HOURS! – I am leaving for 10 days in Nicaragua, where I will be leading a team of 11 teenagers and 8 other adults on a mission trip, installing water filters in a rural village, working with a youth empowerment project, and helping with children’s health and hygiene education. It is going to be AMAZING, and I am so excited. We have been planning and preparing for this trip for more than a year, and it’s hard to believe it’s finally time to go!

This is my team! (all but one) I love them!

This is my team! (all but one) I love them!

I am basically all packed (a minor miracle!) except for two major details: what reading to bring, and what knitting to bring. I don’t expect to do my usual daily knitting (getting up early to spend a quiet hour with the needles and unwinding at night with a little TV and fiber). But I will have plenty of travel time for knitting. Several hours of flying and hanging out in airports tomorrow and on our return, as well as a good number of hours on buses and trucks once we’re there.

Here are the parameters:

  1. I want to bring only one project (or one type of project – i.e., not multiple needles sizes or multiple balls of yarn).
  2. It needs to be something I can knit without having much of a pattern in front of me (like, if I can write down the directions on an index card or in my notebook, that would be fine; even better is if I don’t need to refer to a pattern at all).
  3. It needs to be something that’s not too precious, in case I lose it or it gets dirty or otherwise ruined.
  4. It needs to be relatively small (i.e., packable and not too bulky).

So, if it were you, what would you bring? I know socks is probably a no-brainer, but I’m not feeling that. I’m sort of thinking shawl (unsurprising, I’m sure), but it would need to be something that would take minimal concentration (i.e., not much of a lace pattern). I’ve also thought maybe baby hats that I could leave in the country (if I do that, what’s your favorite simple, easy-to-memorize, baby hat pattern?).

Thoughts?

(And if anyone wants to suggest what kind of reading I might want to bring on the trip, that would be great, too! I’m leaving my iPad and Kindle at home, so it needs to be an actual book. I’m still working my way through A Dance with Dragons but thinking a 1000-page hardcover book isn’t ideal for my travels….)

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How the week went (and a winner)

I had so many things big plans last week – things to finish knitting, things to start knitting, things to share with you - and then the week started off this way:

Portico, in progress

Portico, in progress

That, my friends, is me running out of yarn with about 6 inches of bind-off left on a shawl I had finally almost finished after letting hibernate for two years.

This was the Through the Loops Mystery Shawl of 2012, and I set it aside in July of that year when I got involved knitting other things (which were almost all Through the Loops designs, so I was monogamous, in a way). I wanted to knit this year’s Mystery Shawl, but decided to make myself finish that one first. It was going great!

love that blue

love that blue

This is such a great knit, and such a dreamy yarn (Jade Sapphire Silk/Cashmere 2-ply). LOVE it. When I picked the shawl up, I was, of course, surprised to see that there wasn’t really that much left to do. But as I knit, I realized one of the reasons I set it aside in the first place – I was almost certainly not going to have enough yarn. No idea why I ordered one skein of 400 yard yarn, when the pattern calls for 450 yards. And I can’t find more of this color (Curacao) anyway – I think I got it on closeout. At any rate, I stopped the final part of the pattern a few rows ahead of where it was supposed to end, even tinking back an entire row of lace to make sure I had enough yarn to finish up.

Last Sunday night, during Game of Thrones, I did the bind-off, until there was no more yarn.

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Right now, the idea of undoing the bind-off and ripping back a bit is more than I can stomach. I’m going to weave in what few ends there are (I think there are three) and see if I can splice together enough yarn from what’s left after that to complete the bind-off. Otherwise, I have no idea what I’ll do.

It was disappointing enough that I actually went two whole days before doing any more knitting, which is kind of unheard of for me. Well, it wasn’t only disappointment and discouragement, my week also became blindingly busy and there was just no time or energy for any knitting (and certainly not for any spinning).

The remedy, of course is a new project:

Through the Loops Mystery Shawl Knitalong 2014

Through the Loops Mystery Shawl Knitalong 2014

More about that later.

Ah! But the giveaway! Thank you all SO MUCH for your wonderful comments on my last post, and thank you for taking the time to pass on this important information to people. Between the comments on the post and the people who shared and let me know on Facebook, there were 67 entries into the giveaway (I made sure not to double count people who commented both on my blog and on Facebook). I plugged the number into the Random Number Generator and got:

Screenshot 2014-06-16 14.23.59

#17 – Susan Michaud, who wrote: “I pinned it to my Kids board on Pinterest. As a grandmother of 8, this is good to know!” Thanks, Susan! I’ll be in touch!

Thank you again, to all of you, for your kind comments – and for your warm wishes for my kiddos for their birthday!

 

4 things every parent should know about sand safety (plus a giveaway)

 My boys turned 10 last weekend, which is amazing and wonderful and unbelievable all at once.

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As many of you know, we nearly lost one of our sons in a beach accident almost seven years ago, when the boys were three. I tell the story every year in hopes of helping people learn about the dangerous but preventable phenomenon of sand hole collapse. In the past, I’ve shared about this on the anniversary of our son’s rescue, but I’ve realized I really need to get the word out earlier in beach season, in order to help raise awareness for as many people as possible.

In July 2007, when my sons were three years-old and our family was visiting Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, one of them fell into a hole dug by other children, and the sand collapsed on top of him, burying him completely, with his head at least 8 inches under the surface. He was completely buried for at least five minutes; miraculously, he survived. You can read the full story here, with follow-up here . And read about it from the amazing perspective of Erika Weiland, the woman who saved his life, here.

After our accident, I learned that this kind of accident, while uncommon, is not unheard of; it is not a “freak accident.” In fact, this sort of accident happens on beaches around the world every year, more frequently than shark attacks do. The vast majority of these kinds of accidents happen to boys, between the ages of three and 21. Even when the accident is witnessed and people act quickly, it can be very difficult to dig a child out of a hole or trench on the beach; the sand wants to keep filling back in the hole. The majority of these accidents end in death.

While this kind of accident is uncommon, it’s still a risk, and one that can be prevented without too much effort. There are four easy things you can do to prevent such a tragedy.

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(please pin this! I don’t have the Pin It widget, which isn’t supported on wordpress.com, but I would love for you to share this list on Pinterest)

So, that’s it: one thing to do when you arrive at the beach, one thing to do while you’re there, and one thing to do when you leave, plus one thing to teach your kids. I know that #2 seems pretty severe. I got this piece of advice from Dr. Bradley Maron, who has studied sand hole collapses, but if knee-high holes are just too shallow for your group to deal with, perhaps waist-high of the shortest person in your group?

Every year, as part of my celebration of getting our baby back, I post about our experience, in hopes of raising awareness of this entirely preventable sort of accident. Every summer these accidents continue to happen. I believe that with more awareness of the risks, such tragedy could be avoided. My internet friends have been a huge part of helping me raise awareness. Will you help me spread the word again this year?

I always like to give a little something away as part of my celebration of this amazing anniversary. This year, I would like to give away something that reminds me of the gorgeous water at Santa Rosa Beach (part of what is known as The Emerald Coast).

FLUFF Merino-Cashmere-Nylon, "Murky," 4 oz.

FLUFF Merino-Cashmere-Nylon, “Murky,” 4 oz.

I love this fiber SO much. It’s so super-gorgeous and I would love to share it with you. If the winner is a spinner, I will send you the fiber for you to spin. If the winner is a knitter but not a spinner, I will spin it for you to knit. And it the winner is neither a spinner nor a knitter, I will spin it up and knit something yummy for you.

the flip-side

the flip-side

All you have to do to enter the giveaway is spread the word about the risk of sandhole collapse and what to do to prevent these kinds of accidents. Spread the word however you’d like – on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, your own blog, word-of-mouth, or all of the above. If you spread the word online, you can link back to this page, or to one of the previous posts I linked to above. Then come back here and leave a comment, letting me know you’ve passed it on, and I’ll enter you into the drawing. I will draw a random winner next Friday, June 14, after 5:00pm EST.

Some of you, of your own volition, have already linked to this story this season. THANK YOU! If you would like to be entered in the giveaway, just leave a comment letting me know you’ve already posted/linked, and I will enter you.

Thank you, good people of the internet, for continuing to help me spread the word about this.
our family :: five years ago
July 9, 2007 – the night after the accident

 

This is what a jinx looks like…

Detroit Tigers Crackerjack

Detroit Tigers Crackerjack

I suppose I shouldn’t have gone on at such length and with such enthusiasm about how the Tigers were doing, because as soon as I did, they hit the skids. OOF. And UGH. And YUCK. All those white and orange stripes are losses. I couldn’t stomach knitting them, actually, and until last night, I hadn’t picked up my Crackerjack since knitting that last beautiful swath of grey (i.e., win streak).

Last night was a win, though, with Rajai Davis coming up clutch and stealing third base like a boss. So I happily got back to knitting.

Knitting momentum, interrupted

As I’ve mentioned, I started my handspun Mitered Cross blanket three years ago, and I’ve proceeded at an obviously leisurely pace. I’ve enjoyed knitting a square here and there over the years.

But now that I’m so close to finished with the ten crosses, I find I’m eager to keep going. On Saturday, I finished the eighth square:

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I love it so much.

As I always do when I finish a block, I had to lay all finished blocks put on the floor and admire them together.

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With two blocks to go, I became concerned that I was going to run out of the cross color – a combo spin of Hello Yarn “Pallid” and FLUFF “Ripe Eggplant.” But then on Sunday night, I discovered a whole little skein of it that I had overlooked – plenty to finish two more blocks. Yay!

I started block nine that night, but then this happened:

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… I ran out of the background yarn. Thankfully, I have plenty of the unspun fiber (Hello Yarn “Parritch”) in my stash. A couple of years ago, I became convinced that I didn’t have enough, and two or three kind spinners destashed to me.

So now I need to quit knitting and get to spinning, if I want to finish this project anytime soon. Which I do!

Fashion Friday :: Stitch Fix Review #9, opinions please?

This month marks one year that I’ve been trying out the Stitch Fix* service. I’m a happy customer! Yesterday, my 9th box arrived, just in time for a Fashion Friday! I was very excited to see what warm weather pieces awaited me.

Box #9

Box #9

 

Before I review them, if you’d like to read previous reviews, you can check them out here:

Stitch Fix Review #1

Stitch Fix Review #2

Stitch Fix Review #3

Stitch Fix Review #4

Stitch Fix Review #5

Stitch Fix Review #6

Stitch Fix Review #7

Stitch Fix Review #8

I think my experience over the past year with Stitch Fix has helped me hone my sense of what I define as a “keeper.” I’ve become a little more clear about what pieces I definitely want to send back, and I also think I’m doing my own shopping with a keener eye. I’ve noticed that I’m willing to try new and different pieces more than I used to be. Yay for getting out of my fashion rut!

My Fix this time was mostly easy to make decisions about, but I do have one piece I want your input on. Let’s start, though, with the things I’ve already made up my mind about.

at first glance

at first glance

When I opened the box, I had mixed feelings. The top piece was the exact same colors as a piece I sent back last time, a dress that I didn’t like for several reasons, color combination being one of them. I love navy, but salmon isn’t my friend (not to mention it gives me an 80s vibe that I can’t quite get over). I tried to maintain an open mind, though, because I noted that the piece was made by 41Hawthorn, which is the brand of many of my very favorite Stitch Fix pieces over the last several months.

Franklin Striped Side Gathered Short Sleeve Shirt

Franklin Striped Side Gathered Short Sleeve Shirt

It’s kind of cute, but I’m not loving it. If it were just navy and white, or if the salmon were another color (kelly green! true red!) I might’ve been more enthused about it. Verdict: return.

I was really excited to see a pair of skinny jeans in the box. As you might recall, I’ve been wanting some skinny jeans, and Stitch Fix has sent me two pairs so far. In both cases, though, they didn’t work out. The first pair was a bit small and they cost far more than I was willing to pay; the second pair was cute and well-priced, but they were too large. I had high hopes for the pair I was sent this time. Plus, they were white! I love white pants and jeans for summer, and the truth is I’ve been wanting a pair of white jeans ever since my last pair wore out a few years ago.

Vinny Ankle Length Colored Skinny Jean, by Liverpool

Vinny Ankle Length Colored Skinny Jean, by Liverpool

But it turns out that “skinny” is a misnomer. These aren’t really skinny jeans at all. They are just regular ankle-length jeans, and not particularly flattering. I honestly can’t figure out why they’re called “skinny” jeans – there’s no real stretch to them, and they aren’t shaped liked skinnies at all. Also, they are too big:

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Bummer! As you can see, my kitty is equally unimpressed. I guess I’ll have to keep hunting for the perfect pair of skinny jeans. Verdict: return.

The next piece was a no-brainer:

Reanne Cap Sleeve Polka Dot Dress by Market and Spruce

Reanne Cap Sleeve Polka Dot Dress, by Collective Concepts

I was happy to see a dress in the box, and the print is very cute (love me some polka dots!). It was also VERY nice to get something with cap sleeves, instead of sleeveless; the cap sleeves completely covers my tattoo without making my arms look like sausages. However, this dress is entirely too short for me to get any wear out of at all. I would never wear it to work and I have things I like better for going out. This seems like a dress that would like great on someone half my age, but not me. Verdict: return.

The next piece had me from the word “go.” The color alone had me hooked.

Abrianna Longsleeve Knit Cardigan, by 41Hawthorn

Abrianna Longsleeve Knit Cardigan, by 41Hawthorn

It’s called “light blue,” but I call this “beach glass,” and I adore it. Absolutely one of my all-time favorite colors for spring. The cardi is long and it’s long-sleeved, but it is super-lightweight, almost sheer, so I think it will be perfect for work, even in warm weather.

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I absolutely adore it, and while I think it is totally my style, I don’t have anything else in my closet like it. Win! Notice, too, that it’s also made by 41Hawthorn – wish this was a brand I could get my hand on directly, because I clearly love their style. Verdict: keep, keep, KEEP.

So those four pieces were all very easy decisions for me. The last one, I’m on the fence about.

Roma Cowl Neck Jersey Knit Top, by Market and Spruce

Roma Cowl Neck Jersey Knit Top, by Market and Spruce

I have come to adore wearing jersey tops and dresses, thanks to Stitch Fix. And this color, labeled as “Soft Orange” but which I think of as peach, isn’t like anything else I own. The neckline is interesting but wearable, and I could see wearing this for work as well as out. But is it flattering?

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I’m not entirely sure. My inclination is to keep it, but I’d love more objective opinions. I could see pairing it with a white pencil skirt and heels for work, or with dark skinny jeans for going out. Maybe a fun colorful necklace for some pop.

love this color

love this color

In looking at these pictures, it comes across as too tight in the bust, though it didn’t seem like that in person, and it definitely didn’t feel like it. It’s a thin, drape-y material that I might be able to arrange in a way that looks a little less snug. At any rate, I’m interested in input. (Though, as always, I reserve the right to do whatever I want!)

Okay, y’all, verdict is in. After considering feedback here, on Facebook, and on Instagram, I tried the top on again and played around with the styling. No matter what I did, it wants to cling through the bust (even when adjusted to put extra amounts of the drapey fabric there it still has those dreaded horizontal lines). I bummed out, because I love the fabric and the color, and I’m always looking for another top for work, but this isn’t it. I’ll have to look for something else in this color. Verdict: return. Thanks for the input!

Stitch Fix #9

Stitch Fix #9

So, that’s Stitch Fix #9. I remain a happy customer! I may take a bit of a break- I don’t feel I need more summer pieces right now – and come back to it in the fall. In the meantime, I’m excited to break out some of my first Stitch Fix pieces from last May and June. The weather has finally turned beautiful here, and I’m so happy to be able to wear warm-weather clothes at last!

 

 

 

*Stitch Fix is a personal shopping/styling service – you fill out a style questionnaire on their site so that they get a sense of your “style profile.” Then you pay a $20 “styling fee” and they hand-pick five items for you, based on your preferences. They ship the box to you, you try everything on, and then you select what, if anything, you want to keep; the $20 styling fee goes toward the cost of anything you choose. If you don’t want to keep anything, you ship everything back in the package provided (they keep the $20 styling fee). If you decide to keep everything, you get a 25% discount (minus the $20 you already paid them). I do not receive any compensation from them for reviewing my experience with them.

But I *do* get a credit towards my next Fix if you schedule a Fix for yourself via my referral link: here. If you have questions about how it works, you can see their FAQ here – and I am more than happy to answer any questions based on my experience, too.

Five things I learned while camping with Cub Scouts

Roughly half my life ago, my next-door neighbor gave me the nickname “earthchick,” and it stuck. At the time, it fit. I was what you might call “crunchy” – an earth-loving, tree-hugging, back-to-nature, vegetarian hippy-type (another friend called me “granola gal”). I was into hiking, camping, backpacking, contra dancing, recycling, and the Indigo Girls; I wore long crinkly skirts and Birkenstocks. You get the picture. I suppose I still have a crunchy sensibility (though I’m no longer vegetarian), but in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that is so far inside the mainstream as to be pretty unremarkable.

Also, I haven’t camped or backpacked in awhile.

It was a bit of a shock to me recently to realize exactly how long it had been since I’d been camping. I camped a little as a kid and a teenager, and a lot as a college student and twentysomething. I always imagined that once I had kids, I would spend entire vacations with them camping and hiking, maybe even backpacking. Then I actually had kids, and lots of my ideas about what life would be like went out the window.

In retrospect, I also realized that I always, always went camping or backpacking with at least one other person who knew more than I did about what to do. So I never really needed to know how to pitch a tent by myself, for instance, or how to start a fire. The idea, then, of taking my family camping, became a bit daunting.

Enter the Cub Scouts. My kids both decided to try scouting this year, and so far it’s been a good experience. In Cub Scouts, everything is pretty family-oriented, so for any camping, at least one parent comes, too. And with so many other parents around, not to mention the cubmaster, I don’t have to worry about not knowing how to build a fire.

Last fall, we went on our first campout, but my family didn’t yet own a tent (something else I always relied on my camping friends for), so we opted to stay in the cabin. The cabin turned out to be a bit of a disaster (heavy mold smell plus rodent infestation), so in the end, we slept in the minivan (its own adventure, but not remotely “camping”). For the spring campout, I bought our first very-own tent:

Coleman 14x10 foot 8-person Tent

Coleman 14×10 foot 8-person Tent

I’m so in love with this tent, y’all! This is the Coleman 14×10 Foot 8 Person Instant Tent (affiliate link) and I adore it. This brings me to the first thing I learned while camping with the Cub Scouts:

1 – Comfort is way more important to me than it used to be!

When I was younger, I loved being able to just strap everything onto my back and go. I didn’t care how small the tent was – small quarters was part of the fun. My priorities are different now. Give me comfort! Give me convenience! I also needed something I could set up basically by myself if I needed to. This tent is called an “instant tent,” and that’s not far from the truth. In the video on Amazon, two adults are able to assemble the tent in less than a minute. Working with a 9 year-old, it took me about 10 minutes. At 6:00 the next morning, I collapsed it by myself in about 5 minutes. I figure that most of what we’ll be doing as a family, at least for a little while, is car camping, so I’m willing to deal with the extra weight and bulk.

Another thing I invested in:

queen-sized air mattress

queen-sized air mattress

Until I started backpacking and using a lightweight sleeping pad under my sleeping bag, I always just slept with my sleeping bag directly on the floor of the tent. Apparently people don’t do that anymore? REI is having a huge sale right now, and with my 20% member discount I bought this Kelty Sleep Eazy Air Bed. It comes with a rechargeable pump (so you don’t have to have electricity at your campsite to use it) and it was super easy both to inflate and deflate. It was also comfortable, though I wouldn’t recommend sharing it with two 9 year-olds. And here’s a pro-tip: take the deflated air mattress out of the tent before trying to collapse the tent when you’re done. Trust me, it’s a lot easier that way.

2 – I have mixed feelings about fishing.

As a kid, I loved fishing with my dad. It’s one of my favorite memories from the first time he ever took my brother and me camping in Virginia (I caught four brim!). But my dad always baited the hook for me, and he also removed any fish I caught. The same has been true of what little fishing I’ve done as an adult – My Old Man has always baited my hook (as well as the boys’) and removed any fish for us. So it was a brand-new experience for me on the Cub Scout campout last fall, which I went on without My Old Man, when I had to put the worm on our hooks by myself. It’s not something I felt I could ask another parent to do – on a Cub Scout trip, I really should be modeling self-reliance and resourcefulness, right? – so I went ahead and got my hands dirty (and bloody). On the spring campout last weekend, though, one of my kids actually caught a fish, and that’s where things kind of broke down for me. It’s one thing to teach myself how to tear a worm in half and put it on a hook; it’s quite another to get a live fish off a hook without harming it.

In the end, I had to ask another parent for help. He was able to release the fish and get him safely back in the water. But one of my kids was sufficiently traumatized by the experience of watching the fish almost die on the hook that he declared he was done fishing. And truth be told, I’m not so sure about it myself. I have no problem with the concept of catching fish to eat; it’s the catch-and-release business that bothers me. The idea of hurting a fish for no good reason (i.e., not to be eaten) – ugh! On the other hand, standing alongside a lake, enjoying the silence and stillness that good fishing necessarily requires? That, I love.

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3 – Ain’t no cold like Michigan cold.

Michigan, you are beautiful, but you are cold.

Michigan, you are beautiful, but you are cold.

After 13+ years here, you would think I would know this by now. But I am still learning – it will always get colder than I think. I thought I had camped cold before. I can remember waking up “freezing” while camping before. But, y’all, I WAS SO WRONG. I have never really woken up freezing until this past weekend. I have camped in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, and Washington State, and I have never been as cold in my sleeping bag as I was this past weekend. And I even had a brand-new sleeping bag – the Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree Down Sleeping Bag is rated to 20-degrees, but I didn’t manage to have it cinched properly around my head, so I woke up very, very cold in the wee hours. Then I couldn’t get back to sleep, worrying about my kiddos, one of whom was moaning in his sleep about how cold he was. Their sleeping bags are not really rated for cold weather, which I hadn’t anticipated being a problem on the third weekend of May, but that’s because I am an idiot who still hasn’t learned about Michigan weather. It got down to 37 degrees, and the thing about a 14×10′ tent that only has three people sleeping in it is that body heat can’t get trapped in there to help keep you warm. Anyway, it’s time to get my kids some new bags. Another parent recommended this kids sleeping bag, now on sale at REI. It looks like a great deal (though they’ve already sold out of the blue I wanted for my kids), and I’m considering it, but I’m also open to suggestions. I don’t want to spend a lot, but I’d like to have something that will keep them warm if we ever find ourselves camping in near-freezing weather again. Any recommendations?

This looks a lot like Georgia, but it is way colder.

This looks a lot like Georgia, but it is way colder.

4 – There’s always room for a handknit hat.

What kind of knitter goes camping in cold weather and doesn’t bring a handknit hat? The kind who still hasn’t learned lesson #3, about the Michigan cold.  Seriously, earthchick, pack a hat!

I was feeling good about having packed all our Mukluks (handknit slippers), which we slept in over our socks. But most everyone on the campout also wore hats once it got cold, except for me and my poor kiddos. A lot of the misery of the night could’ve been softened by the addition of a handknit hat, which I have a bin full of, of course. If you have room for a 14×10′ tent, you have room for three 2oz. hats.

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5. I need to come up with a better emergency coffee plan.

I have found that most people don’t make coffee as strong as I like, so these days I always travel with my own set-up. I bring my Bonavita Bona Voyage 0.5-Liter Electric Travel Kettle (y’all, I LOVE this kettle!!), my super-cheap, super-easy, super-effective single cup pour over cone (Melitta 64008 Red Ready Joe Filter Cone), and a little ziploc of my favorite coffee (Seattle’s Best Level 4 Ground Coffee, 12-Ounce Bags) (LOVE). All of this packs very small and works basically wherever I am to make my perfect cup of coffee very easily and very fast.

But without electricity, using my travel kettle wasn’t an option (even a car adapter wouldn’t help, as I had to park roughly half a mile from our campsite). I brought my pour-over cone and baggie of coffee (gah! I know I sound like a total junkie with my baggie), but figuring out the hot water situation was a problem. I had to break camp at 6:00a to leave by 7:00a, whereas everyone else was staying to hike. The cubmaster said he’d be up in time to make coffee, but it didn’t actually work out as early as I needed my fix.

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I don’t know how to build a fire (lame, I know), and I don’t currently have my own little camp stove set-up.  But obviously I need to step up my plan. I’m wondering if any of you could recommend a small camp stove or even some kind of tiny burner that could heat up enough water to make a cup or two of coffee. I’m interested in all recommendations, especially for very small, very easy set-ups. If you want to recommend a small camp kettle, I’m interested in that, too.

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So those are a few things I learned while camping with the Cub Scouts this past weekend. I suppose in the future I should try to learn things like:

  • how to build a fire!
  • how to get a fish off a hook!
  • how to get my kids to haul their share of gear!

But for now, I’m happy to have learned these few lessons. And I’m very eager to hear any of your recommendations for kids’ sleeping bags, small camp stoves, or anything else you think would be useful for an aging hippy chick to know about getting back to nature, family-camping-style.

 

Catching up with Crackerjack

I always forget how blindingly busy May can be around here, and all the more so this year. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s put it this way: I’m watching very little baseball. I’m still keeping up with my Tigers, of course – thank you MLB At Bat app! – but I’m getting to watch precious little actual play. I think I’ve caught only about two innings in the last week or so. I hope that changes soon.

In case you aren’t a Tigers fan, let me bring you up to speed. They are KILLING IT right now. They have the best record in baseball at the moment! I could go on and on spouting various happy things about how they’re doing (7 games ahead in their division! haven’t slipped out of the top spot in their division since opening day! haven’t lost more than two in a row all season! best start since 1984, when they won the World Series! have won 11 road games in a row!), but I’ll spare you. Don’t want to jinx my Motown Kitties by going on too much.

I’ll just let my Crackerjack tell the story so far:

blue/grey=win, white/orange=loss

blue/grey=win, white/orange=loss

I have to say, I love how this knit is shaping up….

 

Fashion Friday :: when in Santa Fe…

I had the great pleasure of traveling to Santa Fe last week, and I absolutely fell in love with it. I’ve been to plenty of desert places before (mostly in the Middle East but also in the American West and Southwest), and I’ve loved them all, but I don’t remember ever loving a desert place as much as I did New Mexico. It was completely charming. And yes, enchanting.

But the weather was not what I’d hoped for. It got quite chilly, and I irrationally failed to pack even a light jacket. So I had to buy a jacket in Santa Fe, right? Right!

red suede with fringe!

red suede with fringe!

(Apologies for the not-great picture). This is by far the flashiest, boldest thing in my wardrobe now. I couldn’t resist it and I totally love it. I haven’t gotten a picture of the back yet, but it also has silver embellishments and lots of fringe. I love the A-line shape of this, and the color is just slammin’.

I couldn’t stop at the jacket, though, because it just didn’t look right with my little spring flats. So I had to go boot-shopping, right? Right!

decisions, decisions

decisions, decisions

This was a very hard choice. My tweeps and my instagram friends voted for the brown, but in the end I went with the black, which I think look better with my red coat, and which will be slightly more versatile with my wardrobe. But the brown ones are on my wishlist, and I hope to own a pair someday. They are Ariat Dahlia boots, and they’re available lots of place online, including on Amazon: Ariat Women’s Dahlia Boot (affiliate link).

Ariat Dahlia, in black

Ariat Dahlia, in black

The boots are super-comfortable, though they are a teensy bit big for me. I bought them at a store on the plaza in Santa Fe that only carried whole sizes. I usually wear a 7.5, so I went with size 8. I think the 7.5 would’ve been perfect, but I’m happy enough with the fit of these. I walked all over the place in them and had no problems at all. The price couldn’t be beat, either, especially after I’d looked around in Santa Fe a bit. The first boot place I visited was a place that made all their boots by hand, in shop. I immediately fell in love with a pair in turquoise – and then discovered they were $1600! That is way, way out of my price range, so I was very happy to find a pair of non-handmade, perfectly lovely boots at a reasonable price.

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I did draw the line at buying a cowboy hat, though. Gotta save something to purchase on my next trip, right?!

Coming back to Crackerjack

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Look at all those wins!!!

I was out of town last week and didn’t take my Crackerjack with me since the Tigers were only playing two games while I was away; I needed to save my packing space for things I could get a little more knitting out of. I finally caught up in my Crackerjack yesterday, and it was a thrill to have nothing but WINS to knit.

I am pretty much ridiculously happy with how this knit is going so far.