One of my super obsessions is organising.
Bookshelves, any shelves, pantries, paperwork, my life - and packing for travel.
It has been a constant goal of mine to see how far (literally) I can get with the least amount of 'stuff'.
I love stuff. I fill my house with it. I have been trying really hard to cull, to not need to clutter, to leave my nesting attributes behind. But I just love knick knacks, and quirks, and pretty little trinkety treasures. When we moved we moved into a tiny cottage, so things have had to go. It's fine. It's a challenge. I love a challenge.
I also LOVE to travel. And I REALLY love to pack!
I don't leave for the USA for another 9 weeks. And during planning times the other day, I realised that the tricky American flight carriers make it almost impossible for you to pre-book checked baggage for internal flights. Which resulted in me failing to book checked luggage for all four of my flights zig-zagging across the USA. (If this can happen to ME - planning is MY LIFE - it can happen to anyone! Beware! They really wanted to snake that extra cash out of me when I was sleep-deprived & unaware & filing through airport lines.)
Instead of paying the $125 it was going to cost me to add bags to all my flights, I decided I would really challenge myself by trying to back only carry-on luggage for the entire duration of my holiday. I know heaps of people who are tetris-backpack-masters, and I'm pretty good at it myself. Why not try?
It cost me $100 to buy a brand-new 35LT Black Wolf day pack. I recently experienced an unexpected windfall so I treated myself to $100 spending money on a pretty new pack. It was still cheaper than booking baggage! (Even though I bought myself a new 55LT Caribee pack (which I LOVE) just last September - naughty, naughty!) This little guy will be better for my back, better for avoiding baggage-claim lines, better for lugging around strange cities on strange trains. I took the United Airlines carry-on baggage size requirements with me to the camping store, with a tape measure in my pocket. The nice man in-store helped me contort and document all angles of my new pack before I committed. It needed to fit in the luggage racks else it wouldn't be worth it one bit! I have also printed out a copy of their carry-on luggage requirements, highlighted, to keep with my travel documents. Just. In. Case!
65LT+15LT bag in northern India, 2012.
55LT pack in Spain, 2012
55LT pack + front-pack in Fiji, 2013
So. What do you pack when you're going on a trip?
This is a question I have posed to myself on many, many an occasion. And I go on lots of different trips - big trips, little trips, trips who climb on rocks. And I guess generally the requirements for each trip are different, depending on where you are going, when your are going, who you are with, WHY you are going. I did a lot of research. And I seem to fit pretty snuggly in between both the two typical packing lists that flitter all about the internets.
LIST #1 is for corporate travellers. People who like bags on wheels, straightening their hair, wearing high heels, stemming business shirts. LIST #2 is for people who choose not to wash, to check their guitar as their baggage and pack their clothes into a backpack, instead. Who only need one teeshirt and one shoe and pretty much NO toiletries.
I fall in between these two profiles because I'm not in any way corporate. I'm not into wheeling my bag, I'm pretty fine with my natural hair & high heels are the devil. But I do wear makeup, I do like to at least WASH my hair (& myself), and although I usually look like I just fell out of an old-lady op shop or a garden workshop, I do care about what I'm wearing.
So. I'm crushing everything into a backpack, and my main focus is on clothes, and on emergencies. It's really nice to get bitten by something and realise that you have stingose in your bag, or to lose all your buttons off your jacket and know that during that 10-hour train ride you can finally put your tiny sewing kit to use. But a lot of the packing tips I read encourage you to pack things like fishing line and binoculars and a frisbee and a sink plug. I do have a swiss army knife (thank you Ryan!) that usually comes everywhere with me - not this time though, not allowed in cabin baggage! How I will eat my coconuts now I do not know.
20c coconut-flesh hunting in India, 2012
WHAT I AM PACKING:
I am going on a 20-day trip across the USA, starting in Los Angeles and going to San Francisco, New York City, & New Orleans. I am mainly couchsurfing as my accommodation - basically, staying with strangers anywhere they can have me. I haven't been murdered yet, so it's all fine and safe. I am mainly spending time in cities, not really hiking or spending much time walking, although hopefully I will make it to Yosemite for a gander. I am planning on taking one backpack, one shoulder bag & my camera bag.
> scarf(for sleeping under and putting over my head on the plane!)
documents & cash: (all in my travel wallet)
> plane tickets
> AUD cash
> USD cash
> debit card
> driver's license
> credit card (for emergency)
> notebook with addresses, flight details, my details
> purse for day-to-day use - with a small amount of cash. So if it gets stolen no biggie!
> books x2 (or kindle.. if I get one in time!)
> 2x pens
I have tried not to be too wasteful with my packing - for example, I usually always would pack wet ones. But this time, I am taking a face washer in a snaplock bag, maybe I'll pack another into my handbag too. I figure I'll never be without water, so I can wet and rinse as we required, and I won't be throwing away every time I get a bit sticky. I crocheted my face washers from 100% cotton! They're lovely. I got my shampoo & conditioner in bulk from the wholefoods store here, I filled up the re-usable containers I got from kmart right in-store. Same with the body wash.
The only thing I have bought specifically for this trip is the backpack - every thing else I already owned or was able to borrow. I sometimes can get a little excited buying tiny toiletries and such for trips - things I don't really need.
When I pack - I use stuff-sacks, which work exactly as the name implies. You shove all your clothes into these little bags as hard as you can, and the magic of physics results in a fantastic space-saver! Just like shoving a sleeping bag into a sleeping bag cover. These do not help with weight though, so be careful and make sure you weight your bag to comply with restrictions. I roll things up, use all pockets and use packing 'cubes' (little fabric bags) to separate my undies from my socks, etc. Rolling your clothes up is another amazing way to make the most of your space!
Actually - my best travel tip yet? Write down your details, and take a photo of it with all the cameras you are taking on your trip. That way, if you lose your camera or your memory card (sob, sob) the nice person who picks it up knows where to send it so it will find you again!
thank you Dad for being my model on the way to Fiji!
I'm 100% sure I have packed too much. But I might narrow this list down some more before I leave, or if I feel like buying some clothes and what-not over there, then I will. On my flight home I have checked baggage - so I can pack another bag for the trip home if I really feel the need.
Maybe next time I'll bore you with my outrageous budgeting?!
Another week has flown by, as weeks tend to.
The year will be over before we know it, which is happy - which is sad.
So, in no particular order, the past 7 days have held for me -
- A dear, old friend's birthday, I borrowed a bottle of wine from work & let myself relax on the balcony with people I hadn't seen for so long, people who are my adopted family.
- I listened to one of my favourite people cry her heart out over the phone.
-I drank too much bourbon in the middle of the bush, I felt ill & forgot to make the mulled wine I had planned.
- I sent my sister a PXT of the chocolate I was eating. I miss her. She lives across the country now.
- I fell off the healthy eating horse. Still searching for the elusive stallion.
- The poms left us.
- I cuddled a big baby while I walked around his mama's house, he is finally getting to know me & yet his family is moving on soon from this small town, too.
I am making plans.
I feel like the world is too big, too small, not enough time to do all I want to do,
all I want to see, all I want to be.
But if this time next year, I am under the stars with my puppy girl & my lover boy, living out of the back of his old Landcruiser, red sand between my toes & a smile on my face, then everything will have gone exactly to plan. Follow that up with a trip to the mountains, to see them covered with snow & see old friends. Happy.
Here is my life in some small, grainy images:
my breakfast today - it was supposed to be ricotta pancakes, but it turned into a strange scramble. I ate it with bananas & berries, & local vanilla bean creamy yoghurt.
I made this cake to take to my old friend's birthday roast, some people liked it & some people didn't.I clearly didn't plan the flavours too well, there is a peanut butter & cacao layer, an avocado & mint layer, a banana coconut layer & a berry layer. It was a mixture of strange & delicious. & mostly raw mostly vegan.
first fire of the cold season. Puppy curled up in front & wouldn't move.
It has been a drizzly end to the week here in Bairnsdale. I have also been getting mighty excited about nutrition, exercise, health, & especially raw & vegan diets. I'm already generally pretty picky about what meat I eat - I don't like to support factory farming or land clearing or any kind of cruelty. I don't like to put overly processed food into my body.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT.
Or so they say!
So it has been a fulfilling week of food shopping, & cooking, & baking, & continuing to endeavor to make my own or at least make smarter choices. Of course, I don't commit to all of my ideals ALL of the time. That's life. Sometimes there's a lot going on. But when I can - I do.
We have a bread maker - I'm not so crash-hot at using it, that's generally Ryan's nighttime domain so we can awake to fresh bread baking. So when I got a hankerin' for some hot, fresh bread, I made my own in the oven. Out of BEER! BEER BREAD! Amazing.
That's the picture at the top. If it's not slathered in real butter, it's not worth it.
This is an energy slice I made for snack times. Each serve has roughly 240 calories, for those of you playing at home, and it's made of delicious raw foods to give you energy and make you feel great.
I did make this recipe up, and I did cheat on the vegan here. I used butter to help it all stick together, because I had no dates. I could have used dates.
1/2 cup goji berries
1/2 cup sesame seed
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup pepitas
1/2 cup puffed rice
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup agave syrup
Blend blend blend, mush together & press into a slice tin! Easy
And it's very delicious. Quite sweet though, even for the most-sweet living person ever, me.
You could leave out the agave syrup & butter, use dates instead.
YOU COULD MAKE IT HOWEVER YOU LIKE!
We woke up slowly, happy it was raining lightly, happy we had nothing to do except continue to try & get the house in order. I got wind of a farmer's market in Metung so decided it would be fun, we packed backpacks & set off to the lake-side in search of cider.
To tide puppy over, we gifted her a bone to play with in our absence. She pulled a really beautiful face I couldn't resist snapping.
Alex & Sam (the poms) make life look like a catalogue for sneakers or something. So photogenic.
We got our hands on some cider, from Mt Markey Brewery in Casilis. We also got some honey & fruit mead, & some beer. Then some pumpkin bread from the bakery, to have with feta & basil dip.
Delicious. Alex also had bought some hedgehog & yoyos which she whipped out for an impromtu dessert.
We took turns flicking the fishing rod into the lake from the sand, no luck today.
The drizzle got heavier & the sun couldn't quite make it through the haze, so we all huddle under a tree to watch the birds swim & talk nonsense.
It could only last so long though before the thought of boxes that need sorting got to me - so we headed back home to do some cleaning.
I found an amazing blog that evening, with raw vegan recipes aplently.
I modified some of the common ingredients to make us a frozen dessert of fruits & nuts.
(Lucky Ryan had realised how much we needed warm food on a night like it was as well, so he made us slow-cooked venison shanks with veggies. Yummo!)
This is a completely vegan (except the chocolate drizzle on top, you can;t get cacao here at 8pm on a Saturday evening) ice cream cake!
The top layer is frozen berries with a bit of almond meal.
The middle layer is frozen banana, coconut cream, & vanilla.
The bottom is dates, walnuts, sesame seeds & agave syrup.
The best part is, it's not ice cream, and it's not cake, so I can have it anytime! Like breakfast!
Discussion has arisen in our tiny cottage around the subject of hygine and bathrooms, & how they relate to our constant goal of self-sustainability & general earth-kindness.
Nearly everything used in the bathroom - from toothbrushes to shampoo to toilet paper - is disposable, & most generally full of unpronounceable chemicals. I don't love lathering myself up with words longer than my life, don't love throwing out the vast majority of what gets used on a day-today basis in the bathroom.
So - reusable toilet cloths!
Before you get all grossed out one me, tell me what you think about cloth nappies? Hopefully you are nodding your head now in agreement; "That's RIGHT Jessee, you do make a clear & concise point! There is no difference!" If not, let me fill you in on a few of the finer details.
I made these pretty little squares of sustainability out of flannelette, which is 100% cotton & Australian. (This particular pattern is actually designed by RMIT students looking for more earthy designs in material. Thanks guys! I would have felt a bit weird using cartoon images of trucks as my personal toilet cloth.)
We stack them on the toilet-top, ready for use whenever we are, and afterwards they can be put into the little bin next to the toilet, which is half-full with water, a bit of vinegar, & a bit of liquid laundry wash we buy in bulk from the local wholefoods store. When I am doing a load of washing I just pour the entire contents of the bin in as well, voila!
BUT HOW MUCH DID YOU SPEND?! I can you hear your cry.
Don't stress! They were so ridiculously affordable, for something that we should be able to get at least a year's use from - but it should be much longer!
> $9 on 3 50cm lengths of flannel.
> $4 bin (reject shop!)
> $6 on 1 litre of washing liquid (you can take your own container to fill up, super fun.)
& then about 1 & a half hours of sewing.
BUT HOW?! TELL ME HOW YOU MADE THEM!
Okay, I will. Easy!
I cut the material into roughly 4x4 inch squares - I didn't really measure, nor try to cut straight, as that is something I have well & truly given up on. I just folded in half, & in half again, until I had shapes I liked! I had 3 types of material, one of which was white and purely for the middle layer. So I made two different types of cloth, both which are adorable. I just sewed zigzag around the edge, I didn't hem or snything special, and a few have started to fray after their first wash - I think after I trim these edges up they will fray no more.
(After the first wash, they are actually softer & more absorbent. Perhaps a wash before use would be, ahem, useful?)
As you can see - we had 5 & a half rolls of toilet paper left remaining.
Let's see how long we can make them last?!
Oh yeah, I made 24 cloths, and have enough material to make another 24.
ready for sewing.
cute little sewing corner.
as always, puppy helps!
the handy bin.
ready for use!
In the rest of the bathroom, we are still taking precautions to not blindly waste.
A box of 12 sustainable plantation bamboo toothbrushes costs $36 delivered online, vegetable oil based body wash is available in bulk from the wholefoods store, as well as locally produced goats milk soap. Shampoo & conditioner is also available in bulk, as well there are many lovely eco-friendly beauty products available in many shops everywhere. I love Sukin brand. You can also make your own body scrubs from oats, honey, salt, bi carb soda, coconut oil - the list is endless!
(If you want, I can make you your own toilet cloths. But it is fun to make your own!)
house has a tamarillo tree, full of the shapely red tree-tomatoes which
have just come into season. After my mother spoon food me a sample of
their juicy insides, I knew there was no time to waste in turning them
into tasty treats for now & well after their fresh season was over.
vegan cheesecake was first on the agenda, something I have never made
before but I am oh-so-glad I did - it was delicious & a gift to
share with friends.
crust was made from raw, blended almonds, walnuts, coconut & soaked
dates. Being quite the green smoothie/nut butter aficionado of late, I
had all of these ingredients sitting pretty in jars in open pantry,
waiting for me to utilize them.
filling was made from soy cream cheese, tofu, blended cashews, maple
syrup & a tad lemon juice. It blended together in a second.
It took longer to bake than I though it would. Probably about an hour, I'm never really sure what temperature I put the oven on.
served this tastiness with a tamarillo coulis, simply the mush from
inside the fruit cooked with a little lemon & sugar. Easy &
amazingly tasty. I also whipped up some coconut cream with some vanilla
as I am a cream fanatic.
The new house needs a veggie patch. We are trying hard to become as self-sufficient as possible, it is taking a little while to get all off the ground here. But we spent today in the sunshine preparing the soil for a fruitful harvest, seeds have been sown in trays in preparation for the day when can place them into the earth, I started a hanging herb garden for my green smoothies & other fantastic kitchen ventures.
Today we dug up a part of our garden, built a raised bed, collected horse fertilizer from my parents house & raked & raked & raked. Next is to plant the seedlings, construct a rotating compost, build a few more garden beds & hopefully a chook coop.
The succulents are well, as always. I prepared an entire tray of leaves to self-propagate, excited puppy knocked them over & I will save that job for another day.
Another lovely star next to my name is (F)ROUTE - an amazing local art & food movement based on growing your own, finding your own, supporting your community & being inspired to create beautiful art inspired by beautiful nourishment. Some of my most favorite people in the world run this movement, & I am lucky enough to be involved creating layouts & media full of my photos, words & the spirit of many.
My latest venture was a pocket concertina (f)route cake zine.
It turned out really nicely (& in the interim of production, I met my english brother & sister who have been in the area just long enough to become firmly i planted in out friendship group. More on them later) & soon I will show you just how nice they look.
But for now, here are some photos of some of the cakes, some the final & some the ones I loved too much not to share.
Watch for sneaky puppy working her way into most shots!