Month: November 2014

budget (car) travel with champagne taste

lifestyle, travel November 22, 2014

IMG_2904-0.PNG

When I get moments to myself, I tend to fantasize about things I can not afford. Like traveling. I want to go everywhere and take my kids everywhere. Ever since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with the idea of easy mobility. The ability to just get up and go. Backpacking (of both the traveling and camping varieties) appealed to me immensely, and I was supremely happy for the six months I lived out of a back pack in Africa. Now I have children and dogs and a husband and in general a lot more to carry. We are also on a tight budget with a new business and me a mostly stay at home mom. It does not stop my dreaming. Someday my husband and I want to take the boys for a trip around the world for a year. It would be awesome to drive through north, central, and South America. Having children means that traveling by plane is a lot more expensive when you consider the tickets, the hotels, and the food. The ability to travel by car would save a lot on all fronts. And I have always enjoyed seeing the world through the windows of a moving train, car, bus, or boat.

Our mission: We have two children and a station wagon. I want to be able to comfortably drive down to Mexico and camp on the beach for an extended period. So we need to cook, sleep, and attend to our toiletries on the road without too much setup and take down. Here are some of my favorite fantasies of how to do so.

First, simple is good. The Cricket Trailerfrom a NASA architect. (Pictured above) This solves all problems in an efficient way. J and I sleep in the queen bed in the trailer, the kids sleep in the car. It has a refrigerator, kitchen area, handheld showed, even a portable toilet.

IMG_2905.PNGIt is lightweight and can be towed with our station wagon. No messing with tents, or set up while on the road, and no need to worry about keeping our stuff locked up. It has all kinds of neat extras like solar panels and little berths that can hang above the bed for kids. It also comes in a very pretty blue and looks cool. It is also on the pricey side, starting at 21k. Onward.

Ideally, I want to be able to stop at a beautiful spot, eat lunch, take a hike or a nap, and move on without too much fuss. In the event that someone doesn’t decide to make us a gift of the cricket trailer, I like the idea of a car top tent from Autohome.

IMG_2903.PNG
The Columbus could accommodate my whole family for around $3,400. It is quick setup and take down, spacious and lightweight. It also has the benefit of allowing us to have our car and nothing else. However, it only covers sleeping. We would need a car kitchen setup that is quick and simple. This means: atleast a stove, table, sink basin of some sort, cooler, and storage for food, dishes etc. We have some of it already, but I imagine only trial and error will provide the answers as to what will work fast and efficiently and not take up too much space.

Another cool option is the Sylvansport Go. It is a tent trailer, providing a sleeping and eating space as well as a means of towing your toys. I’m thinking bicycles to get us around our various destinations. This would also require the camp kitchen as an additional set up, but would provide the storage needed to transport the gear. (Not sure whether our dogs are with us on these adventures or not). This is great, but also pricey at around $8,000.

IMG_2907.PNG

IMG_2906.PNG

My next task is to figure out how to plug a portable refrigerator like this Colemaninto a solar panel. I would love to not have to worry about ice while on the road. When I figure this out, I will update.

Additionally, I like the idea of a little toilet and pop up tent to go with the solar shower we already have. It looks like we can have a reasonable (depending on your definition of the term) camp bathroom for under $50.

For a little more, (around $250) this is a pretty neat item. It is a solar shower mounted to your car that holds 5 gallons of pressurized water.

If any one from Cricket, Sylvansport, or Automhome wants to throw a sample my way, I’ll promise to write all about it to my 26 readers! Starting with a trip to the Baja in Mexico this winter and a Chicago/Michigan trip next fall!
(With plenty of local lake outings in the summer). Happy camping. Just like with gardening, winter is a good time to dream.

Minimalist bed: shikibuton and tatami mats

green living, lifestyle, minimalism, parenting November 22, 2014

Found this post from when I was pregnant:

We are expecting another baby. As with my first, I have already begun the process of trying to purify the world my baby will be born into. This time around, my sights have settled on our huge, expensive, and chemical laden tempurpedic mattresses. With my first, I scoured the internet for a truly non- toxic crib mattress and I found one with a hefty price tag. He sleeps on this, but with another coming, there will be some shifting and another bed will become necessary. Also, being pregnant and sleeping on my fire retardant mattress raises concern. So I decided to take the next logical step: sit my husband down and have him watch the documentary ‘Toxic Hot Seat’ in order to persuade him to get on board with selling the tempurpedics and buying something made of natural materials. 94 minutes later and he was purging the house of foam containing baby accoutrements and begrudgingly listening to my research on alternative bedding. Here is what I found:

There are any number of beautiful natural latex mattresses, but they are expensive! So, my next move was to futons. A little cheaper, but still very pricey. Additionally, we’d have to buy beds because futons need circulating air in order to be properly maintained. Finally, I found a truly minimalist option: the shikibuton mat placed on top of a tatami mat.

The shiki butons are nearly half the price of same quality organic futons. They are very thin, so easily fold up during the day when not in use and allowing air to circulate (eliminating the need for a bed frame). Because of the thinness, however, a tatami mat seems necessary. These are still a little pricey, but I love the idea of folding our beds up during the day and having the tatami as a floor space. (Think Murphy bed but way cheaper). This will also be great when two kids are sharing a room- it’ll keep it tidy and spacious for play.

Also, if we end up missing a little height to our beds, there are many beautiful platform beds out there that will easily hold the tatami/shikibuton combo. There are even beds made specifically for tatami mats. The mats are compact and can be used for travel! Multipurpose really gives you that extra bang for a minimalist buck. The aesthetic is also attractively clean and simple.

All in all, I think this the most financially feasible way to have truly chemical free bedding.

making time

lifestyle, parenting, Uncategorized November 21, 2014

IMG_2853.JPG

I have failed to write for a long time. Being pregnant with a toddler to watch over took it out of me, and now caring for a newborn as well as a toddler has me running. I never have a moment with two hands and a laptop, so I have resolved to just go ahead and write with one hand while I nurse the newborn and the toddler sleeps. These moments are few and far between, but it is not nothing! Now I have to gather some thoughts that reach beyond the mundanity in theSisyphus like tasks of stay at home motherhood. The laundry, the spit up, the diapers, the naps, the feedings, the endless cleaning. These can overwhelm, but they are not interesting and are not all of who I am or what is important in this stage of life.

What is important, what I want to remember are these first smiles and the gradual awakening of my child to the world. His eyes see more every day, and I see more of who he is. His fat little body gradually gaining muscle and coordination. And the way my toddler wraps his arms around me and says ‘luf you’. How everyday is a new lesson in the lightning speed of his development. His vocabulary expanding every moment as he soaks up the world we show him. How my heart hurts because I can’t give each of them all of me, and how proud I am of how much I do give them. I want to remember this time when my body is slowly becoming my own again, and how I know right now that I will never give it up again to the complete tyranny of carrying a child in my womb. How I am teaching it to be one again as it recovers slowly from being two. I cry because I still don’t recognize myself in the mirror, but celebrate the new strength I am gaining daily. I want to remember the pain that I felt bringing our second and final child into the world.

And it is important to stop and feel how our family is now complete. I get to watch my boys become brothers and hopefully enjoy eachother as they become life long friends. Now my husband and I will slowly find our way back to one another through the separation of pregnancy and early sleepless months with a newborn and the wreckage of my body. I will find my way back to my work and pursuits as an individual rather than a mother as my children grow up and away from me, the separation that begins the moment they are born. How we, all four of us are building and growing and becoming more our family.

It is hard to find moments to recognize these things in the sleepless flurry of tasks, but I must. It goes by in a heartbeat, the moments are long and the years are short. It is precious and grueling. I feel bludgeoned on some days and blessed on the same. I am watching through tired eyes as these early moments as parents of young children swirl around us and pass in a flash.

IMG_2901.PNG