Thursday, November 21, 2013

Travelling with the Comforts of Home

I love to travel. I always tell people that I will travel anywhere except Bakersfield. One has to have standards. No offense Bakersfield.  I like to feel at home when I travel, but, when you fly these days, we have luggage and weight issues to take into account. So, I came up with these 8 items that make me feel comfy whilst on holiday and that will not take up too much space.

1) Slippers. I don't care what star hotel you are in. They don't shampoo the carpets after every guest. I like to bring lightweight Dearfoam slippers (hot places) or bulky socks and granny knitted slippers (cold places) or both to wear after I return to the hotel room. If you are wearing the same shoes each day, it is also important to take them off and let them dry out (think rain or damp) and air out (think brain frying hot) until you need to put them on the next day.

2) Lightweight cotton robe. In Japanese, it is called a nemaki. I can put in on after I shower in the evening. I can put it on over my pajamas for a little more civility or in a pinch, use it to get to the sauna or as a beach cover up. Saves on wearing the clothes I may wear the next day if I don't want to wear keep wearing the clothes I spent all day in depending on what season it is and how sweaty I got during the day. It folds flat and doesn't take up much room plus it weighs next to nothing. I am sure there is a video somewhere on YouTube on how to fold a nemaki or yukata or kimono. It's easy. My Japanese grandfather could fold anything and it would keep its folded dimension. I once saw him fold and stack 4 fluffy down jackets.

3) My own shower scrubby. I don't use wash cloths at home, they are too small. I use a Salux Nylon Japanese Exfoliating Beauty Skin Cloth or what I call the scrubby towel. (I use the older ones to scrub the bath tub quite effectively.) If you frequent a Japanese or Asian grocery store, you may also find them there. For transport after use, I shake out the excess water and double bag it it in a ziplock bag unless I forget it in the hotel shower in Berlin. Even though I make my own soap, I am often very pleasantly surprised by quality hotel soap. I have also bought some very lovely lotions overseas in sample sizes. Travel is about discovering new and wonderful things, even if a teeny, tiny part of it is just lotion. So, I wouldn't bring lotion either.

4) My own brand of tea. In bags. Okay, I am a fussbudget about my tea. I am an Assam drinker. I hate breakfast tea at any time of the day. And, sometimes I like to have a cuppa in my room in the evening when I put my tired and slippered feet up while wearing my nemaki.

5) Music. I bring my iPod and an iPod portable docking device. They are low tech devices. (I am not talking about your smart phone or other tablet devices. If you are going to use one of those smart phones, make sure your phone bill isn't going to smart when you get back. I am not sure how it works, if your music is in "the cloud" or you have an unlimited data phone plan.") I know that my portable docking device weighs more than I would like it to but TV in the hotel is usually not worth watching. Bad reception, snowy screens and Murder She Wrote in Italian. My niece even questioned me about bringing it on our trip as she thought we would never use it. I did. She put one on her Christmas list after our trip. Remember to bring the power converter for whatever country you are visiting.

6) Dental floss. I. Must. Floss. Of course, I will bring a toothbrush and paste. On my next trip I will probably bring my dental rinse, too. I had an ultrasonic tooth brush but it died awhile ago and I haven't replaced it yet. Sigh. I don't think any other country is as dentally obsessed as California.

7) Shampoo and conditioner. I have hair and I want to keep it. If I were a guy, or had less hair, I wouldn't bother. I'd use the hotel stuff. I buy my shampoo and conditioner in the gallon size so I put it in smaller containers or get travel sizes for longer trips. You can buy a set of 3 travel containers at the Dollar Store, yes for one $1. They don't come in a see through reusable bag, but I use Zip Lock freezer bags in the 1 quart size. And, double bag them with the closure in opposite directions when you are flying. BTW, I would say that the bottles are fairly sturdy as I recently put my shampoo and conditioner bottles through a heavy duty fast/fast, hot wash on accident when I dumped my gym clothes and sauna towels in the washing machine and they look no worse for wear an the stuff is still in there, undiluted.

8) Stainless steel water bottle with a carabiner clip. I bring sugary flavored packets to put in there, too. I love me my sugar. Hence, the obsession with #6.

I could add a few more items but as we want to travel lightly, I will stop at #8. How about you? Any additions?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Gosh. I am home. Not from a trip or a journey. Just home. What makes a place home? It can be a person, no doubt. It can be a place. It can be a collection or association of objects. Not just any old objects. Objects collected from vacations or journeys. Even journeys to thrift stores or yard sales. Those objects say something about you. This is what interests me or what I find interesting or comforting or comfortable. It can be an object that has a story. It can be a very personal story or a story about your family. Or, it can be something that makes you smile when you look at it.

I recently bought a print at the thrift store. It was not signed or numbered and had a plastic cover so I knew it wasn't valuable. I sort of agonized about buying it. Not because it cost a whopping $5 but was it "me"?  I awkwardly carried it around the store for awhile (too large for the shopping cart) as I was browsing for other stuff. I really did like it and it was in a nice custom frame and garden themed, my favorite stuff, so it came home. It is titled, Still Life on the Veranda by John Powell.

A couple of caveats. It can be easy to get carried away buying stuff at a thrift store. Even there, don't just buy stuff because it is cheap or a bargain. I have re-donated stuff to the very thrift store where I bought it after I looked at the stuff at home. In fact, I bought a table and chairs and the guy loading it cautioned me he didn't want to see it back for at least 6 months. And, don't end up a hoarder with your house bursting at the seams with stuff that was too good to pass up. Sometimes when I see stuff and I know it is nice and a bargain but it is not something that is me, I just say, I'll let if be someone else's treasure. And, lastly, if you do love it, buy it because you may not find it when you return. Now, I just have to decide where to hang it.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Zentangling Away

 This is my third zentangle doodle. I was looking at the prow of a ship from a Viking ship if you can't guess. Still working on my medieval Norway quilt...

The doodle just progressed and grew until it became the whole ship. The perspective is off and it isn't historically correct and would probably fall over if it was built but it isn't a drawing just a doodle! And, did I say it's a lot of fun!

This is the first zentangle I tried. I am hoping to make some zentangle inspired embroidered hearts before Christmas.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


I couldn't go a summer without posting a photo of my favorite flowers, zinnias. I confess, I usually cut them when they are smaller and have them finish opening up in the vase to beautiful shades and variations. I procrastinated... No further sighting of the praying mantis. He/she must be down in the stems eating bugs (surely there is a good supply of aphids down there). Last summer I saw a praying mantis rip the head off a honeybee and proceed to eat it...They are effective predators but indiscriminate. I have had fewer bug problems this year with earwigs who were plentiful earlier in the year. Last year, they were pretty bad in the pluot trees. All of the leaves were moth eaten from them. I couldn't work on the trees without getting showered with earwigs. I think the heat might of done them in which was a good thing. I ended up with 62 pounds of plots halves frozen. I think the tree must have produced at least 100 pounds of fruit!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Garden Angel

I was looking for a spot to photograph a baby boy quilt when my garden angel caught my eye. It has a shaded spot in my garden on an arbor bench. I try to rotate what I plant in the summer and squeeze in as much as possible. A Sakata melon vine has twined itself around the bench while a Marina di Chiogga squash, blueberry bush and fig tree crowd the back.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Color pots

Spring has sprung and my color pots are filled. I love this old wire basket filled with succulents.

I love this blue pot filled with a tweedy, yellow and green coleus, coneflower (yet to bloom from last year), light green heuchera, yellow and pink latte cuphea and sky blue lobelia.

This pink and lime green petunias and sky blue lobelia are my favorite colors this year.

Along with this pink on pink petunia. Yum. Yum. Yum. A feast for my eyes!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Late Fall Garden

Late fall in the garden is a time of transition. It seems that only a few weeks ago it was 80 degrees out and too hot to plant the winter garden. I planted a few violas with scotch moss in small pots. I tried to buy a few more of these small oval pots to plant some mini iris bulbs in. No luck at this point.

Yummy romaine lettuce. I have been picking the leaves off for sandwiches. I still have a few yellow onions grown last year to add to them, too.

I planted twice the amount of red and yellow onions I did last year. Used up all the red onions first. Having your own stores of food is like having your own store (duh!). I think, gee, it would be nice to have some onion to go with this. Then I remember that they're on the back porch! 

Some baby pan choi and bok choy seedlings just sprouted. They should be ready to eat in a month or so.

Newly sprouted bulbs. I've had these mini-hyacinths for a couple of years. After they are done blooming, I put the pots away and let them dry out.

My new thing, fairy gardens. It does bring a bit of pleasure to recreate little gardens. I saw them at a nursery but it seems too expensive to buy all the fairy elements. So, I used things I have around like this bird house and found stones from the river.