road trip packing tips luggage matters always overthinking it

road trip packing tips

Not to brag or anything, but after living out of a suitcase for three months, I’m pretty much an expert on packing. OK, I’m sure there are other people who have lived this lifestyle for way longer, but I don’t know them and this is my blog and just shut up already. Living out of your car and hotels means space matters and having your routine down can save you time and frustration — and make your OCD happy. Here are some tips I’ve learned since living the glamour homeless lifestyle.

1. Suitcases/bags/packing containers matter.

When B first started traveling for work (when we still had an apartment), he didn’t have a suitcase. I let him use mine, but since I’m usually the carryon bag type, I didn’t realize how destroyed my suitcase would get from B checking my bag all the time. Because of this, my bag got totally destroyed and the front pocket that my underwear usually goes in has a busted zipper (see photo above). B got a new suitcase and I kept using my old one because I’m cheap. So every time we check into a hotel, I get super self-conscious that my underwear or swimsuit is poking through the pocket. Anyway, I just bought a new suitcase (woohoo!) and I can’t believe how big of a difference it makes. My DOP kit fits in the bag and even some sandals. Plus, I don’t have to worry about my underwear falling out…

road trip packing tips hoarder moment always overthinking it

2. Don’t over pack. Think about what you really NEED.

I know that tips seems obvious, but I’m a hoarder and my hoarder tendencies became very obvious during our three-month homeless adventure. I may or may not have pulled a Rolling Stones record out of the dumpster that someone threw away and have been carrying around for weeks on the off chance it works. Or I’m going to turn it into a clock, despite the fact that I’m more into digital clocks. Try to pack what you really need and don’t buy (or pull out of a dumpster) something that you want, but don’t need.

3. Bring the items that make you comfortable, even if it seems like a pain to bring them.

I realize I just told you to bring only what you need, but if you have a hard time sleeping and need your pillows (guilty) or want to have slippers in your hotel room (apparently there are people that do this? Impressed and curious by this concept), then bring them. There are some hotels that apparently have the belief that when it comes to pillows it’s “bigger is better” and I am of the total opposite belief. I’m so glad I brought my comfortable pillow, even though it was sometimes annoying to lug around. Worth it though.

road trip packing tips always overthinking it

4. The better packed you are/less stuff you have, the less likely you are to forget stuff.

When you have 10 different bags to load onto a luggage cart, it’s easy to forget stuff. We left a $60 bag of dog food in one hotel room because the luggage cart was so full we didn’t think there was room for anything else and didn’t notice the bag sitting in the bathroom. Of course, if we hadn’t been stressed about how much stuff we had and had remembered to do the all important last-minute room sweep, we would’ve noticed.

5. Pay attention to how much clean underwear you have left.

For the most part, B and I have been pretty good about doing laundry when we stay with friends who have a washer and dryer (thanks, friends!). But the other day we were being lazy and didn’t do laundry and I didn’t realize until it was too late that I was out of clean underwear. Washing underwear in the sink and drying it with a blow dryer works in a pinch, but it’s really not the same as clean underwear.

6. Keep organized and re-pack when necessary.

There are some days when I just want to throw everything in my suitcase and go, but taking everything out and re-packing it really does make a big difference. Especially when I have a bag with the important documents and need to get to them and can’t find them because I shoved them in between all the magazines because I was being lazy. Taking everything out and reorganizing stuff so our storage unit info, doctor’s notes and other important documents are all together (or so I can keep track of clean underwear) is crucial.

What packing tips/road trip organization tips do you have? Did I leave anything off?

wasted free time always overthinking it

wasted free time

When B and I were living in Vancouver, I had a lot of free time. Having moved up to be with B and unable to work in Canada (unless I found someone to sponsor me), I spent most of my days running, doing yoga and crafting with my friend Jeni. I also took a design class at one of the schools up there and read so many library books it was amazing. I’d check out cookbooks and make dinner for B, desperate to feel like I contributed. I’d also check out novels and books that bordered self-help books, but in a fun way, like learning about NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month]. Not that there’s anything with non-fun self-help books, I just read all of them when I was in high school. Seriously. Anyway, I remember reading in the National Novel Writing Month book that the author didn’t recommend quitting your job for a month in order to write a novel and I thought he was crazy. If you had the means, why wouldn’t you quit your job to write? Imagine all that free time!

Now, having an endless amount of free time, I understand. It’s hard to feel inspired when there’s nothing around me to be inspired by (hello, blank hotel room walls). Or worse, I get inspired and am in a situation where I can’t do anything about it. Like wanting to craft and know that I can’t (or shouldn’t) lug a giant canvas into a hotel room to paint it, or having to wait until the weekend to cook.

The other day when I was flying back from Minnesota, I was sitting in the airport thinking of how the endless stream of people was offering me a fantastic opportunity to describe people in order to practice for writing book characters. But I didn’t have anything to write with and sat there mentally kicking myself for all the free time I’d wasted. I’d had months to go to a coffee shop or other people-watching places to write character descriptions and I hadn’t done it.

The first month or two into our gypsy-living adventure, I’d been on a roll, writing posts or reading books on SEO and other blogging-related topics. I poured through the books, gleaning as much information as I could and brainstorming all day long. Then… my enthusiasm petered out as I realized how little I could do from a hotel room, without a regular schedule. And my adventures started to feel monotonous and I had nothing (or so I told myself) to write about. My writing started to taper off and I promised myself that I’d write more consistently once we’d moved and tried to let myself off the hook by blaming my lack of writing on being too busy. I made doctor appointments instead, so at least I’d have something to show for all my free time. Which is great, because I’m going to have knee surgery tomorrow and am really hoping the procedure helps my knees. But it’s not like the doctor’s appointments prevented me from writing the rest of the day. Then I started to feel guilty for not doing more. I thought of all my blog friends with kids, or full-time jobs or BOTH who still have time to blog. “Maybe I’m just not good enough for any of this. I’m not good at anything,” I told myself. Sometimes I feel like I should’ve been born a few decades ago, when we didn’t have machines and someone would stand there all day, fastening a nut onto a bolt over and over and over. I think I’d enjoy that, actually. I’d be really good at that. Nut-fastener by day, writer by night. Although nut-fastening probably wouldn’t be very inspiring.

Anyway, having free time that I feel like I wasted (not entirely, but a little bit) has got me thinking. What would other people do with free time? Do you feel guilty burying your nose in a book and reading it from cover to cover in a day? Would you cook or travel or lie back in the grass and stare at the clouds? Would you start a new hobby and if so, what? How would you not-waste your free time?

flower beard always overthinking it

labor day weekend fun

This past weekend, B and I flew to Minnesota to have an impromptu family reunion (on his side). We went to the Minnesota state fair where we ate cheese curds (yum!), rode on rides and tried not to lose the four kids that were there with us. As we got up for our flight at 4am (side eye to B), I felt like I was forgetting to pack something but couldn’t really place it. Since I knew we’d only be gone for a few days, I wasn’t too concerned. Until I got there and realized I’d forgotten my camera. Damn. So pretend I’m showing you pictures of my nieces and nephews, the beautiful rain storms and the insanely crowded state fair. My brother-in-law has an amazing beard and when we went to the Minnehaha waterfalls, everyone started sticking flowers in his beard. We joked that we should use his photo as a campaign to save the bees (“What are YOU doing to help the bees?”).

We flew home to SFO and drove back to our friend’s house in Pacifica and the sun was shining. The sun was shining, you guys! It’s always foggy here, so we took it as a sign to go to the beach and play in the waves. It was amazing. I always forget how much I love playing in the ocean until I’m doing it and then I don’t ever want to leave. Who wants to go in on a beach house with me? If we got enough people, we could totally afford it, right? Sigh.

As I was catching back up on blogs, I was confused how far behind I was. And then I remembered the Thursday before, where I binge-read books all day and couldn’t stop, not even for blogging. Oops. On the flight home, I read The Cuckoo’s Calling by J.K. Rowling (under her pen name, Robert Galbraith). I thought it was really good! No Harry Potter, but I enjoyed it.

Today is B and my two-year anniversary. We haven’t planned anything and haven’t bought presents (at least, I haven’t…). The day kind of snuck up on me and I feel unprepared. I really like celebrating, so I’m actually really disappointed in myself for not pulling something together. I’m sure we’ll go out tonight and have a good dinner. His present’s just going to be a little late.

we’re moving! or something

A friend pointed out the other day that you can’t actually “move” if you aren’t living somewhere to begin with. I guess, technically, they’re right. But we’re moving! Off the road and our three-month gypsy lifestyle. B got offered a job up near Davis, California and he starts in a few weeks. We both have mixed feelings about the whole thing, but number one is excitement. B is conflicted because the job is not with Whole Foods and, considering he’s worked there 16 years, he can’t believe he’s working somewhere else. But we’re both excited to actually have a routine again. We’ll have a kitchen! And our own bathroom! And hopefully laundry!

But I am really going to miss being nomadic. Being on the road has been really fun and really tough. I love that we got to see so many friends and have so many adventures, but it will be nice to not have to load up a car every other day and lug stuff up to our room and try to tell Gypsy that she’s going to come with us because she’s convinced we’re going to leave her behind in a hotel room (we’d never, Gypsy).

About 10 minutes ago, I was rubbing lotion all over my dry body because I got sunburned at the beach this weekend. The lotion is from the hotel we stay at pretty frequently and I noticed that it smelled different than normal. So I double checked to see if they’d changed the scent and realized I’d been rubbing my arms, legs and face with conditioner. Did I mention I’m excited to have our own bathroom… with our own toiletries? Like, you know, lotion that I’ll recognize.

lame fortune always overthinking it

a list of things

We’re in Bakersfield again this week and there are really only so many times you can write about being in Bakersfield, really. Lately I’ve been walking Gypsy to the park and hiding in the shade because Bakersfield seems to think that people enjoy being really hot, all the time. Anyway, a list of some random things:

That fortune up there is not a fortune. That’s called good advice. What the hell, fortune cookie? [Of course, B got a really good one about good things coming his way]. Also, can we talk about nail polish? I hardly ever paint my nails because I don’t like the feeling of polish on my nails (weird…) but now I have another reason: It’s so distracting!! Do you stare at your nail polish when you’re doing things like typing, or am I just a total weirdo?

I loved this post’s discussion on Ferguson.

A four-year-old reviews the French Laundry and it’s hilarious. All of the reviews are, actually.

I’ve been listening to Tracy from Shutterbean and Joy from Joy the Baker‘s playlists and the music has inspired some really fantastic dancing. Also, I just recently discovered their podcasts and am having so much fun listening to them!

Would you unschool your kids?

I really want a pair of these beach pants, but the color I want is out of stock in my size. Do you ever have a hard time shopping online? I’m horrible at it. I open tabs and then leave them there, too afraid to actually purchase them.

PS: I have some exciting news I can’t wait to announce, but I can’t quite yet. Sorry, I know that’s mean and I hate when people do things like that. I’ll give you a hint: I’m NOT pregnant.

kind of a tough mudder repeat

Do you guys remember when we ran the Tough Mudder? Our friend, Mitch Kramer, who ran it with us last time is doing one this weekend in Tahoe. He asked if we wanted to come hang out for the weekend in the rental house he’s getting and cheer him on. Um, duh. Tahoe and cheering someone else on while they get shocked by wires? Yes, please.

We spent this past week in Bakersfield where it was back to hotel and restaurant food. Although, I did find a Thai restaurant that gives one free refill on Thai iced teas. Which is pretty much the best thing ever. However, last weekend we were in San Diego and every night we cooked up a feast, so I’m hoping we can repeat that this weekend. Or at least just fresh food. I’m so sick of eating horribly-cooked eggs. Blech. I would like to eat some more caprese salad like this for dinner:

caprese salad always overthinking it

Do you have any fun weekend plans?

robin-williams-we-miss-you

my heart is broken for robin williams

I wasn’t going to write a post about Robin Williams, not because he doesn’t deserve one, but because I wouldn’t do him justice. I was going to write about our weekend in San Diego, but pictures of the beach and sunny days just seemed so false when I’m feeling the opposite — and I needed to write about how I’m feeling.

I keep reading and watching news articles and everything just makes my heart heavier. I can’t stop thinking about what his last thoughts were. Did he feel alone and scared? Were there any signs? Did he want to ask for help? How long had he been planning to go through with his decision? I can’t stop thinking about his family and how they’re feeling. Picking up the pieces and putting one foot in front of the other is so hard and takes so much strength and courage. I wish there were something I could do to help make things easier for them. I’m so heartbroken that we lost a wonderful human being, someone who took pain away from others because he made them happy. On top of that, I’m heartbroken that someone who made others so happy was so unhappy and decided it would be easier to leave this world now, on his own terms.

I get it. Life is hard. And I don’t mean that in the sense that there are errands to run and bills to pay that we can’t afford and I’m not a good enough daughter or sister or wife. I mean that in the sense that there are some days I’ve woken up and wished I could just go back to bed, or I’ve stared at the ceiling at night and wished my heart would just stop beating. Depression sucks. It’s debilitating and alienating and awful. Depression tricks you into thinking you’re alone and nobody cares and nobody has time to listen to your problems. It tricks you into thinking that everything you’ve ever done or thought is stupid and wrong and worthless and you’ll never be good enough for anything. And sometimes the only way out feels like a great solution.

I don’t know what my beliefs in heaven or afterlife or death are. But I do like to think that if there is a heaven, Robin is up there looking down and feeling all the love we have for him and that he is comforted. I hope wherever he is he is pain free and happy. And I hope he knows how much he will be missed, by strangers and family alike.

punch a baby always overthinking it

10 things i wouldn’t try once

Do you want to know what expression I hate (please say yes)? “I’d try anything once.” This expression is such bullshit. Have the people saying this expression thought through every possible scenario and decided that there’s really literally nothing they wouldn’t try? Because I highly doubt it. In fact, I can think of at least 10 things that I wouldn’t even try once and the next time someone uses this expression, I’m going to go through this checklist. Feel free to take it in case you know someone who uses this expression.

10 Things I Wouldn’t Even Try Once:

1. Heroin.
2. Have sex with someone who knowingly has Ebola.
3. Punch a baby in the face. Or just intentionally try to hurt a baby in any way.
4. Drown a kitten.
5. Taste poop.
6. See if I can withstand getting hit by a moving car.
7. Bring a bomb/gigantic bag of cocaine to an airport to see if I could make it through security.
8. Go to a really dangerous part of town and try to start a fight by being racist or offensive.
9. Let a tarantula crawl on my face.
10. Close my eyes while driving on the 405 for a full minute and see what happens.

I’m sure you’re probably reading these and thinking “Well maybe I’d do that for the right price,” and to that I say that’s not how the game works. The expression is not “I’d try anything once for the right amount of money.” Plus, the fact that you would punch a baby in the face for the right price means you’re a horrible human being and really you probably have been secretly wanting to punch a baby in the face and what is wrong with you??

my MRI results because you totally care

I’m sure you all have been holding your breath waiting to find out my MRI results, right? I wouldn’t want to leave you hanging. The good news from the MRI results: I’m not crazy and there is actually something wrong with my knees. The bad news from the MRI results: There’s something wrong with my knees.

I went to a doctor when I was 14 and they recommended physical therapy and there wasn’t much of a follow up and that was pretty much it. The physical therapy kind of helped, but the MRI showed that even if I do physical therapy, my patella cartilage is deteriorating so I still need to fix the damage. Technically I have chondromalacia patella and the symptoms describe exactly the kind of pain I’ve been having. My knee pops and cracks when I walk, sometimes my knees will just totally go out on me, eventually the pain just kind of feels numb. Oh and because the cartilage is deteriorating, it causes my kneecap to track incorrectly. Instead of going up and down on my knee, it likes to go side to side, causing further damage. Fun times.

My doctor recommended two possible treatment options (in addition to physical therapy to make the muscles stronger so this doesn’t continue to happen). One of them involves injecting my knee area with blood plasma (the procedure is called PRP), the other with stem cells from my stomach fat. When I heard the second option, the way I interpreted it was “We’ll give you liposuction and use that fat to fix your knees” and I was like hell yes, sign me up. Wouldn’t that be amazing? All those chicken wings and ice cream cones I’ve been eating was really just because I was trying to heal my knees, you guys, duh. Unfortunately, not only do you not get liposuction, but that procedure costs $5000 and insurance doesn’t cover it so HA HA HA HA not going to happen.

I did get to have a DVD of my MRI images which was pretty cool. Maybe I’ll turn it into an art piece. “DIY canvas of your MRI images” is bound to become popular, right? It’ll be on Pinterest right up there with some sonogram art. I would love to see that on a “Would You Rather,” Lisa and Ashley!

Have any of you guys ever heard of PRP or the stem cell option or had it done? I think it sounds pretty cool, but I just wish insurance covered it. Womp womp.

how to wash a puff down jacket always overthinking it

how to wash a puff jacket

A few weeks ago, B and I went for a day hike to climb Mt. Bierstadt. I have a backpack I like to use for these types of trips and I started packing the backpack, something I’m normally pretty good at. However, for whatever reason, this time I totally completely failed. Because I made a very crucial mistake: I put bananas at the bottom of the bag. And then I put my white puff jacket in the middle and added three heavy Nalgene water bottles to the top. By the time we got to the top of the mountain where I needed my puff jacket, it was covered in banana mush. I wore it anyway, as you can see, because it was really cold and banana mush be damned. When I went to wash my jacket, the tag on it just said to “dry with two tennis balls.” Thanks for being super unhelpful, jacket tag. Here’s what to do:

1. Wash your down jacket in cold water with just a little bit of soap. (I only used a little bit of soap because I was afraid of ending up with soapy feathers.)

2. When you pull your puff jacket out of the wash and all the feathers are bunched up and part of your jacket is see through because all the feathers are bunched up at the corner of your jacket, don’t worry. You didn’t ruin your jacket. Proceed to step three.

3. This is the most critical step (aka don’t air-dry your jacket). On the lightest heat setting (I used “fluff”), dry your jacket with a tennis ball or two. (I know the tag said two, but who has two clean tennis balls lying around? If you have two, use them. If not, one will do.) I would not recommend using any other types of balls because I’m pretty sure a basketball, golf ball or soccer ball would break your dryer. A whiffle ball would probably melt. Just use a tennis ball. I ended up drying my jacket for about 20 minutes on the fluff setting. I stood in front of the dryer with my fingers crossed, praying the tennis balls would do their job, until my 6-year-old nephew discovered me and asked for a shoulder ride, impatiently hitting the dryer buttons until I gave in.

4. Admire your perfectly-fluffed jacket! If you notice that certain parts of the jacket still have bunched up areas of feathers (check the sleeves), just put your jacket back in the dryer with the tennis balls and give it some more time.

Have you ever washed a down jacket/pillow/sleeping bag? Have any tips to add?