busy…in the best way ever!

A lot has happened since my last update in December….so here goes.

One of my projects I forgot to post from last fall, was Emma’s pillowcases.  At 2 3/4 years, I knew she’d been growing out of her crib soon, into a ‘big girl’ bed & that meant she finally gets a pillow.  I wanted to be ready (& lets face it, there’s not much to do at home, particularly in a Covid year), so I bought the fabric & began to sew.  I got them all done pretty quickly & sent the first one off in November.  

Here’s November & December:

This is January (you all know I”m trying to learn to make balloon animals, right?) & March.

Emma’s birthday is in February…so she gets two that month!  One to celebrate her special day & the other for Valentines Day!

April (Easter) & May

June & July

August & September

and the last one she’ll get is October.

My pillow case project was fun to make for the girls & Claire still enjoys changing out her pillowcases each month.

On a Wednesday night in early January, Sara's long time Nanny decided it was best for her to take a leave of absence when they made the decision to stop virtual school & put Claire in face to face kindergarten.  I got a call from Sara on Thursday morning to see if I could come down & help out until another Nanny was hired & the long time Nanny was ready to come back.  

I SAID YES! …in a heartbeat, without a doubt, you betcha! & on & on.  My heart was filled with happy for the opportunity to see the girls & get to spend time with them.  I had a Covid test right away then went into overdrive to pack, rearrange a loan closing with our bank, & most importantly, get my projects done to take to the girls.  I’m a planner & tend to get most things done way way way early.  Only a few times has it caused a problem & I’m just more calm when stuff gets done & marked off the list.  I was super happy this time I had all the fabric & other ingredients I needed for my pre-trip projects. Then I went into crazy mode to get ready & leave on Sunday morning for the 20 hour drive to Orlando.

I’d been checking out the Princess In Black series of books from the library & reading them over FaceTime to the girls for a couple of months. I decided for their Valentines Day gift, I’d make them the costume & get them the books. So, fast & furiously, I went into costume-making mode.  Always a challenge when I don’t know if it will fit or not, since I don’t get to see them that often.  But, I made them & was pretty happy with the end result.  

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As, it turns out, so were they!  Emma dressed in hers multiple times a day when I was down there & we read at least a couple of the books everyday too.

I also made hot cocoa bombs for the first time to take with me.  They turned out OK…think the only way I’d do this again, is if they were here with me to join in the fun!

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Then I spent the next 7 weeks with a full heart, lots of hugs, nightly walks, tons & tons of reading, crafting, gaming…all that great stuff Grandma’s get to do when they spend time with their grandkids.

Then, it was time to come home & I’d happily missed most of winter.  Very happily.  My pattern for my yearly cycle has been the following:  

January--March:  Planning travel for spring & summer, getting all my gear ready, maps out…super excited!

April--August or September & sometimes October—travel, hike, photograph, repeat, repeat, repeat!  Love these adventures!

November--December--I make stuff & I make lists & I shop on Amazon—a lot.  Fall is the time I craft…make stuff mostly for the little girls, but if I’m going to create…it’s in the fall.  It’s also the time of my favorite holiday—Halloween.  So, it’s not unusual to find my house sometimes in disarray in the late fall & early November, with fabric strewn all over; glue guns out; pencil & paper designing stuff & me up late at night or early getting it done.  

I also get my Christmas ready early.  Remember…most years I’m not with my family & they live on both coasts, which includes long & frustrating shipping times, if I choose to go through the USPS….which mostly I don’t.   This is the reason, I’m on Amazon a lot.  They can get stuff delivered quickly & efficiently.  Love them or hate them, they are my go to store.  So, Christmas gets done & delivered early…I’m not the type of personality that is happy when stuff gets done late.

When I arrived back home the beginning of March, I had a few things to catch up on.  Danny’s is great at keeping our quiet little house clean, but I’m kind of a nut about cleaning, organizing & minimizing.  And he’s a 100% great guy…but he doesn’t dust (only one of his very, very few faults.) So, I spent the first couple of weeks, making the house all clean & sparkly again, making up with my cat, catching up on some reading, seeing a couple of friends for lunch & finally, after months, getting my haircut by my fantastic sister-in-law….boy that felt great!  I also schedule all my annual medical & dental appointments in mid March, so I had a week of eye check ups & new glasses, teeth cleaning, lab work & a visit with my Physician.  Super happy & grateful to report…all is good.  I’m not-very-anxiously waiting on a colonoscopy that is happening at the end of this month…but just want it over with & a good report…then I’m done!

But, the trip planning has begun!  New Mexico is still in big time locked down, although they are #1 in vaccinations…way to go NM!  I’m still not in the group to qualify for a vaccine & Kansas ranks like 49th in distributing vaccines (another reason the state sucks), but I hope to have mine before I hit the road; but if I don’t I’m going anyway & maybe I can get one along the way.  So, this year, I’ve decided to trip back to my most beloved Utah (central to south part)!!!!  

The southern part of Utah is home to wide open spaces, tons of camping, several National Parks & so much red desert beauty!  I’m so stoked! So, I didn’t totally ‘unpack’ when I got back from Florida.  My bed is still in Camper, but otherwise it’s been detailed & thoroughly cleaned & devoid of all sprinkles & crumbs from when the little girls & I spent so many hours in Camper reading & happily munching on cookies.  My red room—or living room—has lots of camping stuff stacked on the table, in a chair or two & a tiny bit on the floor.  I can’t wait to load it all back where it belongs before I hit the road in mid-April.

Before that trip however, Danny & I will fly to Orlando to see the girls…he for a few days & me for a week.  Then I’ll come home, pack up Camper & leave for my spring road trip.

I’ve also added or replaced a few new things for this year.  Here’s the latest added gear & a couple of sort of un-necessary things:

A shower.  I had debated about this purchase all throughout fall.  Last summer, with everything lockdown & closed up, I had three showers in 80 days.  I wanted something small, portable & easy (my motto).  We have a $5 solar shower, but I don’t find it that easy.  First off, you have to lay it out in the sun all day, which requires both sunshine & one spot to leave it at—not always easy if I’m moving from place to place.  Then you load it up with heavy water, & lift it above your head & attach it to your luggage rack (easy for Danny; not so much for me).  Then you take your chances on how warm the water is.  I didn’t use it at all…not once (Danny used it several times though).  So, this new shower had been on my radar all fall & I decided it would become part of my gear.  I can heat up water, add it in, hang this on a tree or on my luggage rack.  It has a great flow…I think it will be an awesome addition…although I still won’t pass up an opportunity to shower at a nice rec center if they ever open up.

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I was hoping I could use my collapsible sink, but I think it’s going to be too flat…the water will disburse & the new shower needs something more concave.  I also need to replace my ‘pee bucket’…an ongoing search that’s turning out to be a real pain…so I ordered the bucket in the photo below.  It’s too big for the pee bucket though.  I was thinking I’d send it back, but when I realized my collapsible sink wouldn’t work for the shower, I thought this bucket would work great.  So, I kept it.  I found a mesh bag that both the shower & bucket would fit in & all of it slides nicely in my personal-kit bag.  Looking forward to a little bit cleaner summer than last year.

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I also bought this tiny emergency blanket to keep in either my day pack or backpack.  I’ve never had one of these before & it’s filed under “things I buy that I hope to never use”…just like all the insurance we buy, tools for car emergencies, etc.  I hope I can look back on this purchase when I’m old & say…”wow, I really wasted my money on that!” (…but in the meantime…)

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I’ve had my same poop digger for years & years.  This has been on my ‘wish list’ for about the last 5.  And I really am hoping to go backpacking & in my ‘old age’ want to lighten my load as much as possible.  So, add in my new little red trowel.

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I thought I wanted a couple more packing cubes…I love packing cubes!  Note:  I’m kind of a crazy shopper…want to see & touch stuff before I keep it….and I’M SUPER PICKY (because I know whatever I purchase, I seem to keep it for so many friggin years!)  So, I first ordered an off-brand of packing cubes…nope…those got sent back the next day.  Then I found my Eagle Creek old cubes on sale…they got ordered.  But, before they were shipped, I cancelled. Then I went down the rabbit hole of researching waterproof bags…this would give me a little bit different alternative way to pack in addition to my packing cubes.  While I couldn’t afford the best (Sea to Summit or Osprey brands), these colorful, different size bags, I think, will work.  They aren’t waterproof, but water resistant….anyway, I’m giving them a shot.

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Two other small purchases are a GSI coffee mug (that I can take on the trail with me then carabiner to my pack) & a new brand of roll on sunscreen recommended by my professional traveler friend, Sherry Ott of Ottsworld.

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My biggest, both in research, money & sort of freak out monitor…was a new camera.  I’ve carried a big DSLR for years…the same one.  It’s old, it’s heavy, but rather beloved.  For the past couple of years, I rebelled against carrying it on hikes that I’ve hiked before & already have about 100 or more photographs of & just used my phone.  So, I began each hike with…”do I take the big camera or not?”.  Then I decided to upgrade my phone & take advantage of the great new camera.  

But, after much painful thinking & decision making, I bought this point & shoot.  Known for it’s awesome macro capabilities, it’s tough exterior that repels drops, falls, water submersion, dust, etc.,  I bit the bullet I made the purchase.  I was concerned because most of my photography is scenic…not macro.  I am going on a huge trip in August that might see my stuff getting wet, so I know that factored in my decision too.  Now that I’d made the hard decision (hard for me anyway), I need to start learning how to use it.  It comes with many bells & whistles & I wanted the time to learn some of it before I took it on a trip.

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Last but very very least…I added a couple of ‘decorative’ touches to Camper.  I always feel ‘wasteful’ & like it’s adding ‘too much’.  I love space-both in my home & in Camper--…open space, empty space & uncluttered.  But, I also love color & twinkle lights….so here’s what I added.  I’d been trying for months & months to think of something I could add to the ceiling of Camper.  I spend a lot of time staring ‘up’ when I’m laying in bed…I thought of a hundred different ideas…but no way to affix any of it to my headliner without possibly messing it up.  One thing I bought didn’t work at all…so now I’m stuck with it trying to figure out a purpose for it (it’s non-returnable).  Then, that means I’m done; I’ve quit spending time on a dead-end project, money & time…I just need to leave it plain.  But, within all that process, I bought these fun lights!  While they currently have no specific place…they are tucked in Camper & will come out to light her up some wonderful night just when & where I need them to!

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One company I love, is a Florida company called “Natural Life”.  The ‘Live Happy” flags that have flown in Camper since her beginning are from there, as well as the lights shown & mentioned above.  While in Florida with the little girls, I found these cute flowers hangers.  Two are in my bedroom at home, but one is currently filling this ugly ‘space’ near my bed & holding my travel ‘disco ball’.  Sounds crazy, but I’ve had the disco ball going inside Camper before with the little girls when we had a pajama party one night.  I’m sure I’ll love the colorful strobing lights…especially maybe during high winds or an especially crazy thunderstorm; but I know everytime I plug the disco ball in & blast the music, I will smile remembering the three of us dancing inside camper during that pajama party one night.  Those memories mean so much!

The other addition is called a mini Kalimba or a thumb piano.  I’m not much of a music maker, although music is a huge part of my life…can’t imagine a day without it.  But, I have friends on the road that play banjo or guitar or harmonica, etc.  I wanted something tiny, portable & simple.  I actually had buyers remorse when this arrived & decided to send it back.  Amazon, said…’no, we’ll refund, but just keep it.”.  I thought it was a sign.  A silly sign, but I made space for it in Camper & have learned Twinkle Twinkle Little Star while I was in Florida & am learning Happy Birthday (because how fun would it be to play that for another camper on their special day?)  But, mostly now, I remember Emma…little three year old Emma, picking it up, using her thumbs to make the tiny tinkle noises & singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’…& I don’t care how silly it is, my smile is huge & the memory fills my heart!

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Remember the pouf (footstool) I made for my bedroom last December?  Well, it was one of the first projects I re-visited when I got home.  Arriving back from Florida at 8:30am in the morning & walking into my bedroom, its big ugliness jumped out at me.  I didnt love it when I finished it last December, but I thought its functionality would win me over.  But, the morning, I got back I knew it had to go.  I loved all the little squares Id made & embroidered though, so my design mind went into its crazy mode.  A few days later, Id cut the lovely little squares off & deconstructed the pouf.  I ended up making a garland from all the little squares & it hangs near the ceiling above my bed.  I like it much better & so far, haven’t missed the pouf at all.

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I think that’s it for now.  I’ve been researching new backpacks (mine is 25 years old), new tents (mine got shredded in wind storms last year), a new sleep pad, a new backpacking quilt & a new water filter.  All in hopes of bringing backpacking back into my life.  But that’s all big money…& probably not in the cards for this year.  I will need to use what I have.

But, I’m excited to start my spring trip planning, packing, dreaming,  then finally going & making it happen.  

One last dream…that Covid get’s kicked to the curb & we all have our normal lives back with a new appreciation of what it means to spend time together, to smile at each other with more than just our eyes, to hug, to talk to strangers…to embrace life without a deadly virus.  I want that dream for all of us!

Safe travels to all of you & keep me posted on where you’re going & your adventures!

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