Archive | Gear RSS feed for this section

Tell Me What You Want. What You Really, Really Want.

3 Jun

You know lately I will try just about anything as long as I can somewhat loosely (and I mean loosely) tie it back to our trip.  For example, right now I’m in the middle of putting together a jigsaw puzzle I found on an endcap at Target because it features Vernazza, a town we’re visiting.  Halfway through I didn’t really feel like finishing it but I’m going to make myself.  Why?  Because it’s connected to the trip!  Aren’t you paying attention?!  What?  Am I taking crazy pills?

This is what mine looks like, except instead of $100 it has Dr. Pepper LipSmackers.

Sorry.  I had some caffeine once and it made me hyper.  I blame the drugs.

So anyway, I bought something that seemed like a good idea.  You know, for the trip?  Well, it’s something called the Banjees Sporty Wrist Wallet made by a company called Sprigs.  Now I didn’t see the label that said “Sporty Wrist Wallet”.  Or at least I would like to think that I didn’t.  This would have keyed me in to the notion that I was not their target market.  I don’t do “sporty”, typically.  I’ve made special passes in the past for certain cars, socks and Spice Girls.  That’s true.  But for a wrist wallet?

My first chance to try this sucker out, besides trying it on in the store and screaming “look, baby!  You know? For the trip!”, was wearing it to Valley Fair.  If you haven’t been, Valley Fair is an amusement park south of the Twin Cities.  Most of the rides make me scream like I’m being stabbed.  I wish that I was exaggerating but that is actually how I’ve been described as sounding.  It seemed to me that while I was worrying about surviving my next amusement that it might be nice not to worry about if my money was still in my pocket.  Enter the Banjees.

I stuffed cash, a tube of lip gloss and my ID into it.  We were outside for about six hours and I had it on the whole time.  My wrist only got a little warm but only on the side that had the stuff in it.  That makes sense.  I think that you’d be hard pressed to find a way to hold an ID to your wrist for six hours and still feel daisy fresh.  It was convenient and would work really well if I wasn’t wearing something that had pockets.  However, since I wasn’t wearing long sleeves I felt a little bad ass with my black wrist wallet.  Yes, that is sad.  This was before I knew that it was sporty though.  After wearing it for a full day I began to think about how I could probably get the Mister to tote around my cash for me and tough it out on the lip gloss front.  The main reason that I got it was to get away from bulk and it felt like, well, bulk.  It’s important to know that I don’t wear a watch, bracelets, rings or scarves without feeling weighed down.  I’m not your average bear, in other words.

They make other colors, more sporty colors than the black/grey combo I picked.  I was just thinking that I wanted to have something neutral that would go with pretty much anything.  Little did I know that I was being sporty.  When you are sporty you can wear whatever.  You know, like that certain Spice Girl.

I’ve since used this on a couple of dog walks.  I like to put my house key in it.  I’m like a traveling Hide-a-Key.  If I ran then it would be great to have this along, too.  More responsible types might even want to put their emergency contact info in their Banjees.  The Banjees is so small and takes up so little space that you could throw it in your regular bag and have it as an option.  In case you are feeling sporty.  Ahhh zigga zig ahhhh.


He Said, Cheese Head

7 May

It's a plate. And it has cheese on it, no less.

If you hadn’t thought that I had insulted your intelligence with telling you the obvious before, wait until you read today’s post.  It’s all about Sea to Sumit’s X Bowl.  It’s a bowl that collapses into a plate.  Now I could stop right there and I don’t think that you’d have trouble sleeping tonight wondering what else there is to know about this item.  I mean, there it is.  Collapsible bowl.  Done.

But this isn’t that blog, kids.  I’m going to ramble on here for at least one more paragraph before I let you back to your regularly-scheduled visit to  I can’t leave here without telling you why I’m blogging about this in the first place.  See, the Mister, he likes to have a plate when he eats.  I’m the stand over the sink or eat from the wrapper it came in kind of gal.  When we have one of the salad kits with the dressing and the dried cherries, or whatever, he will use a separate bowl to toss it in before he puts it on the plates.  When I lived by myself I would chuck it all in the bag that it came in, shake shake shake and it’s dinner time.  I would say that his way is more cultured and logical.  But my way also allows me to spend far less time getting my hands soaked in Palmolive.

Anyway, he likes plates.  So when we’re on our trip, why should he suffer?  I do admit to liking bowls for certain things when they’re not really needed.  You know, for things that roll around like grapes or for tortilla chips.  I never enjoy eating tortilla chips off a plate or out of a bag.  So I guess I like dirtying a dish or two for no reason.  (It really is true.  You point one finger at someone and you have yadda, yadda, yadda…).

Now it's a bowl. How do they do it?

The X-Bowl will be our plate away from home or our bowl, depending on the weather.  And it will also be a cutting board.  I plan to get in some serious cheese time during my away game.  I’ve never met a cheese that I didn’t like and most cheeses I’d like to shack up with without so much as getting their phone numbers.  So having somewhere to cut cheese, if we so choose, will be great.  There again, I like to just hack at it quickly because I have trouble trusting my eating partner not to eat more than their share of the dairy loveliness.  But I hear that they have whole stores full of the stuff.  Perhaps while I’m letting my bowl collapse, I’ll ease up some, too.  Oh, yeah.  That’ll happen.

Platypus plusBottle

4 May

The platypus. You’ve probably heard this creature referred to as proof of God’s sense of humor. You know, because it has a beaver tail, lays eggs, has otter feet and a duck bill. Those things don’t belong together, right? Boy, God. That’s a zinger! Well, God also gave this little guy venom. Yes, the platypi are packing.

The venom can kill small animals and cause humans excruciating pain. Even after recovering from the initial contact a heightened sensitivity to pain can last for months. Oh, and a platypus can locate his prey using electrical fields.

The Platypus plusBottle in the wild

I bring all this up because I think you should stop laughing at the platypus. Apparently he is pretty bad ass. This is likely why there is a whole series of water bottles named after the majestic animal. (Okay, that was going too far. I don’t think our little buddy is a joke but “majestic” is clearly an overshoot and I don’t want to embarrass him. It’d be like using the word “integrity” or “transcendent” to describe this blog. You could but that would make you look silly. Don’t throw us a bone. Me and the platypus? Yeah, we know who we are and we are just fine with that.)

The Platypus plusBottle was the answer to my Google-searching prayers. I wanted a water bottle that could also pack up nice and small. So I can now carry a liter of water or I can carry something that looks like an embarrassed Ziploc bag. Perfect! And, like it’s name sake, this little guy is tough. No venom but I don’t have to worry about it being punctured.

It might not be a big deal to others but I like to get credit for using up stuff. If I use up most of the toothpaste then the tube gets smaller. Before the Platypus plusBottle my progress wasn’t being rewarded by a smaller bottle. Oh, no. And I think if there’s one thing we can agree on in regards to the mighty platypus, it’s that he’s all about progress.

Hawt Bag Lady Action

20 Apr

Higgins, half in the bag

I love me a reusable bag.  I just wish that I could remember to take them out of my car and actually, you know, use them.  We find different ways of putting them to work around the house.  The Mister has his winter gear in one and I have an ill-fated crochet project in another.  They aren’t sitting in a cabinet somewhere or in someone’s backseat… or they aren’t most of the time.  They just never seem to make it into the grocery store or in to the main bagging offender, Tar-zhay.

In Europe not only have people taken to buying them at point of sale, they are actually using them.  Perhaps they are not as influenced by something being cute as I am.  They might actually be buying them for the purpose that they were intended and that’s why those suckers see the light of day.

I wanted to bring one on the trip with us.  We have some mad picnic skillz that we’re going to flaunt.  “Yeah, you see this?  It’s some cheese.  And this?  Yeah, it’s a crusty French loaf of happiness.  I’m going to throw in some strawberries here and blow your mind, party people.”  Well, that kind of expertise needs a pretty dynamic bag, one that’s ready when you need it and one that knows when it’s time to pull up a chair and sit this one out.

The Chico Bag seemed to be the best the internet had to offer, if you care (and if you don’t, by golly why do you read my blog?  I mean, thank you.  But serious?).  They have the standard shopper and a whole slew of environmentally friendly bagging solutions while also not being ugly.  So you know I’m down.  Better still was that I found this bag at Seward Co-op while I was getting The Mister some of J.R. Ligget’s solid shampoo.  He is cuckoo for shampoo… bars.

I got the bag home and then I decided to road test the sucker.  And what tells the tale of a bag’s merit quite like seeing if your cat can fit in it?  I don’t know because that’s my main bag checking go-to.  Anyway, I won’t leave you in suspense.  The bag passed with flying cat hairs.   And it folded down into a palm-sized featherweight package.  Wait until those Dutch canal-sitters see me rocking this.  They’ll be all… something Dutch, I swear.

MSR Packtowl (the Parentheses Post)

1 Apr

Be it ever so humble, there's no place like towl

I know it’s a brand name but it pains me to spell “Packtowl”.  Did I tell you about the new pet store by our house?  It’s called Pet Store “Plus”.  The Mister doesn’t see why the quotes irk me so.  I told him that it sounds like they are fibbing.  For example, if I told you that I was going to send you some “money” for your “birthday” what would you think?  You would probably think that I not only needed a vacation (I do) but that I also need time away from punctuation marks (that is also likely).

Anyway, back to the MSR Packtowl which was probably made on a Wedsday in Febuary.  (I’m done, I swear.)  Spelling aside, this is pretty dang nifty as inventions go.  I read about this item online and thought that it might be good for the trip.  Everywhere we’ll stay will likely have towels (with correct spelling, no less) but none will be as absorbent as this guy.  The MSR Packtowl looks like something you’d wrap around your furniture before having moving guys haul it away.  Except less quilted and less dusty.  It doesn’t look like a towel so I’m guessing that’s why MSR left out the “e”?  (Obsess much?  You have no idea.)

I gave my new Packtowl a test run at the gym the other day.  In general, a towel has two main roles to play in my gym experience: 1) dry me off and 2) prevent me from walking around naked and being “that lady” when in the locker room.  Now we failed miserably at the second task.  The Packtowl Original Large is not big enough to cover my Original Large you-knows.  I brought another towel along for kicks and so saved myself from prancing about in my altogether.  Now for the first task.  This is where the Packtowl kicks it out of the park.  When I dried off my legs they were dry.  Dry, dry, dry, dry.  And so on with the rest of my body parts.  Now with my hair I had such high hopes fueled on science fiction.  I thought that touching even a corner of the Packtowl to my Norwegian locks would soak up all the moisture and leave me with full on Charlie’s Angels hair.  No dice but it did exceed where many a beach towel had failed and I left the shower room looking like I had actually attempted grooming.

The last test was to try rolling wet clothes in the Packtowl.  If you were wondering, this is the main reason I want to bring this guy on our trip.  I can put our hand laundry in the Packtowl, roll it up and smoke it squish out the water.  I tried this with a sopping wet bathing suit and it worked like a charm.  The Packtowl was chock full of water by this point but it wasn’t dripping all over the place.  I went and squeezed it out in the sink and a nearby gym-goer was super impressed.  I could tell by how much she was avoiding my eye contact.

I am looking forward to using the MSR Packtowl on our trip.  The Mister and I both have one.  If for no other reason, we can always add them on as doors for our world-class blanket fort.  I worry about using them for a nap blanket in the park.  What if we woke up to find that the whole lake had been sucked up while we were sleeping?  These towels should only be used for good.

The Bag

29 Mar

The Mister and I will be heading to Europe in spring of 2012.  That’s a long time from now, isn’t it?  But I am one excited lady and I’ve been slowly driving my fella crazy with all the details.  I like to keep from sending him off the deep end when I can so I’m starting a new blog devoted entirely to what I anticipate will be the trip of a lifetime, namely mine.  In future posts I promise to go on and on about where we’re going, why we’re going and The Mister but this post is about The Bag.

I did a bunch of research on what bag to bring with me.  I’m loathe to check a bag and since we’re trying to stay kind of low to the ground a giant wheeled bag would just slow me down. 

The first thing I wanted to find was a bag without wheels.  No wheels?  “But it makes traveling so dang easy!”, you say.  I hear you.  I have a wonderful bag with wheels already that I’ve used for many a business trip.  But this ain’t no business trip.  We’ll be in and out of trains, boats and buses.  We’ll be climbing up stairs and down cobble stone roads.  Wheels are great for airport to airport traveling but this is not that kind of party.

Another thing about wheels that wouldn’t work for this trip is the amount of space they take up and weight they add to a bag.  Since we’re going to be gone for over three weeks (!!!!) I need to have a bunch of stuff with me but fit it in to the smallest space possible.  Losing the wheels gives me more room and that makes me all warm and gooey inside.

And since I’m not going to be wheeling this guy through the streets of Paris (!!!!), I’d better have some other way to carry the sucker.  So I started looking for bags that could be carried like normal luggage, over the shoulder and most importantly, like a backpack.  Rick Steves, my personal travel guru, makes a wonderful bag that does just this.  And I wanted it and I thought about it.  And then thought about it some more and then continued thinking.

My hesitation was that I thought I might want something just a smidge smaller.  Yes, really.  The airlines love to force people to check their bags if there isn’t enough room in the overhead bins or if their weight restrictions magicly change or if it’s an alternate Thursday in April.  I figured that the smaller I went the less likely I’d be to trust my stuff to a “tosser”, as we all know from Fight Club, is a baggage handler.  And when I use the word “trust” in relation to checked baggage it’s only because it’s easy to spell not because I mean it one tiny bit, thank you very much.

The Bag (Patagonia MLC in Narwhal Grey)

So, where were we?  Ah, yes.  We wanted no wheels, multiple ways to carry and small.  But awesome.  Did I forget that part?  The bag must not suck or we’re going to go down a whole different street where my face melts off.  I also wish that I was one of the lucky folk who need a bag that is going to last for years through multiple big trips across different parts of the country but it’s more than likely that this bag will go to Europe, then to Bismarck and maybe a Las Vegas weekend with The Mister or to Graceland to see the Jungle Room.  I don’t need to spend the dough to insure that my bag will last until the stars go cold.

Does such a bag exist, you are asking yourself?  Well, I don’t know but I found one that I think will be spot on.  It is the Patagonia MLC (Maximum Legal Carry-On).  Now the MLC standards are defined as 45″ in allowed dimensions, usually in a boxy form.  So if your bag is 20″ x 15″ x 10″, you add those numbers together and you’re good.  Here’s a link to a site that lists the major carriers and what they say is okay now.  Notice that some of those limits are smaller than others?  Yeah, I did too.  So if I could go smaller than Rick’s bag that measures up to 44″ that’d be good.  The Patagonia MLC does that and it’s construction is pretty flexible in allowing me to shove it into tight spaces,  frantically, while others watch with concern.  I dig that.  And they offered this bag in Narwhal Grey.  Done and Done.

I got this very bag in the mail today and made sure to pop it on my back and parade around the house.  The kids loved it (our pets, but that’s for another post).  It has enough pockets to keep things organized but not enough that I’ll put something in one and then immediately forget where that thing is.  I have a purse that does that and I’ve stopped using the pockets in protest and just carrying everything in my hands.  Or something like that.

You can read plenty about picking a great bag for those of us who like to travel light at  I’ve read this guy’s site from top to bottom.  I’d say that he is the Martha Stewart of how to travel with only a carry-on but I don’t want to make him sound so persnickety.  He’s maybe Rachel Ray with less “yumm-o!”.