destination Ojo Caliente

travel May 9, 2015

I have been to the hot springs at Ojo Caliente (not far from Santa Fe, New Mexico) many times. They have changed much over the years but the different pools with different temperatures and minerals are lovely as always. When I was a child, the place consisted of some funky buildings and a series of pools separated by rock walls. People bathed nude together, man woman and child. The atmosphere was laid back and anything but pretentious. Since then it has burned down, been purchased and remodeled. It is landscaped, there are casitas and a restaurant and a yoga yurt and a gift shop. Though the old northern New Mexico funkiness is gone, the charm lent by the beauty of the surroundings and the essence of the soothing waters remains. The complex is nestled in a valley with cottonwoods and sandy bluffs overhead. There is hiking to be done here as well.

Camping is our preferred method of travel due to financial issues and a family love of the the out of doors, so I was excited to find campsites listed under accommodations on Ojo Caliente’s website. I pictured some cottonwood lined nook, perhaps a creek nearby. A day at the resort swimming and soaking sounded perfect, perhaps I could sneak a massage or a yoga class for Mother’s Day. The prices have gone up, but we decided to spring for a special treat.

At $40 a campsite, I figured the sites would be pretty nice. Our friends were going to meet us and the sites are supposed to accommodate two tents, so that took a little sting out of the cost. When we showed up with the boys in the evening, exhausted and ready to set up camp and go to bed, we found that it is very much an RV park. In fact, the “tent sites” are basically a parking lot with trees. We were tellingly, the only tent campers. And the sites are small. They won’t accommodate two cars and certainly not two tents.

Neighbors are very close by. I spent a good portion of the night in my tent not sleeping to the sounds of car doors and watching the shadows of people move across my tent as their bright lights illuminated my sleeping family. A car horn as they locked their car. Nice touch. Somebody appeared to have been watching TV or listening to the radio. Too close for my comfort. Again, the price.

Additionally, the ground is compacted and it was very difficult to drive stakes in, and difficult to pull them back out. I am now shopping for new tent stakes as mantid ours are now bent.

I have nothing against RV parks, I just choose not to stay in them because, you know, I don’t have an RV. So I think a little honesty on the part of Ojo Caliente as to what this ‘tent site’ actually is, would have been appreciated. $40 for a parking spot. This is all a shame, because the area really is stunning and there could be beautiful campsites if the resort had chosen quality over quantity.

On the upside, the sites have electricity and water. But we camp assuming these things are not available anyway. There is a bathroom available that I did not visit and pretty clean porta potties. Each site also has a nice picnic table.

In the mid May morning of our visit, the temperature was just below 40 degrees and we got a little rain during the night. We were up early before the rest of the lot, so our breakfast and coffee was pleasantly quiet. Just birds and the occasional breeze in the trees overhead. New Mexico after ang moisture is always lovely, and thus was no exception. However, once I was in the tent while the little one took his morning nap, the hubbub of sliding doors and the like could be heard amongst the quiet morning voices of my neighbors.

In the end, we got hailed out of our site and left. By then it was freezing outside and I was irritated that the $32 entrance to the pools didn’t get you more than an unreasonably small towel and that a stay at the RV park didn’t get you a discount to the pools. The place is not as I remembered it and the bottom line seems to have edged out concerns for guests’ overall experience. It is less original than it used to be, and is more like a resort you may expect to find anywhere. The staff though, was friendly and helpful. It is definitely worth a day trip, and rent one of the houses available if money is no object. I would stay away from the campsites though, unless you are an RV owner or don’t mind camping in a parking lot. The picture below is the camp site at its best, green with the moisture and the neighbors carefully cropped out of view of the empty spot.

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camp coffee: biolite + aeropress

Gear, travel May 2, 2015

Camping is not just about being outside, it is about recapturing the joy in simplicity. To that end I present: coffee.

It is warm in your sleeping bag, chilly outside and the day is starting with sharp slants of sunlight through the shadows of trees on the tent. Nothing helps bring the sun up to warming heights like a good cup of coffee.

For us, my stepmother’s old aluminum percolator that I inherited has become a toy for our oldest child. We took our French press along last time and that is ok, it’s portable, easy to use, and produces decent coffee. But it is hard to clean and our glass carafe is just begging to be broken. So when our stove melted and we opted for a biolite replacement, we decided to try something new for coffee as well, an aeropress.

On the first go it took twenty minutes to get a cup of coffee. This involved leisurely setting up the stove on our porch, getting shoes, starting the fire, etc. It also took 5 extra minutes because my husband didn’t grind the coffee and get the aeropress set up until after I had the water heated up. I assume that we will get this time down and you can supposedly get water boiled in under 5 minutes with the biolite. I feel like 10 minutes or so is an acceptable wait for coffee.

A few thoughts on the setup:

1. The coffee is exceptionally smooth. The aeropress really reduces the acidity.

2. There is something very satisfying about using a wood fire to make your coffee. It is not for nothing that Prometheus was punished for eternity for stealing fire from the gods. Also, see above comment on recapturing joy in simplicity.

3. The whole setup is pretty compact. We have the biolite and the biolite kettle that you can store the stove inside. (Thanks again REI for your amazing return policy). The aeropress is tiny, way smaller than a French press or percolator.

4. The only fuel you need is some kindling. I really like the idea of not having to buy and pack fuel for the stove.

5. The biolite has been criticized as being merely a novelty item. But it is a very efficient rocket stove that streamlines a process that man has been using since Prometheus. I like it. I like simple good food and drink and I don’t need to be making soufflĂ© while in the woods. We will see how the food preparation works and I will do an update.

6. The aeropress is quite affordable at $25. The biolite and accessories however is not. Ours was essentially free, but if you want a small stove that can quickly boil water and save on fuel it seems to be a good choice. Taking time to prepare food has its own rewards. The grill attachment seems to be well liked as well. If you just want to be able turn the stove on, throw a kettle on it do other things, look elsewhere.

All in all, I am very satisfied with our new coffee procurement system. I think I’ll even take the aeropress along to use in hotel rooms on an upcoming trip.

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Have a good morning.

Day two:

Getting a cup of coffee still takes a bit of time, but it is evolving into a family event. We ate breakfast outside this morning. Birds singing, apple tree blooming, fire crackling. My husband declared that he wished it could be a daily event, moments later we realized that it could.

Also, we ran out of cream, but the coffee is so smooth that I’m considering drinking it black for the first time since I was in college drinking black americanos from Seattle coffee shops.

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babies love tents

Gear, parenting, travel April 27, 2015

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Alright, we did it. We survived our first camping trip with a 7 month old baby and a two and a half year old toddler. Here are some thoughts on what worked and what didn’t work.

sleep

First and foremost, I was concerned about sleep (as are most parents of infants in general, most likely). Let me just say right off the bat that it was completely painless. In fact, the little one slept better than he had been at home recently and the toddler slept in until 7am (usually a 5:30, 6 am type of a guy). Both inspite of loud music from the neighboring camp until around 2am! Yes, I was the one who called the ranger. That’s just rude.

I fretted all winter over what type of baby bed system would be best. Pack n play, travel crib, cot, baby sleeping bag, bunting suit. I just couldn’t figure it out and didn’t want to experiment with hundreds of dollars of equipment. As it happens, we ended up using a leaky sleeping pad folded in half with a crib sheet and topped with a sheep skin. I just put that next to my sleeping pad and we slept together under my unzipped down bag. The baby had warm pajamas and a wool sleep sack and a hat. He was cozy and barely stirred. Amazing. All that worry for nothing.

The toddler slept in one of our full sized mummy sleeping bags on a full size pad. (A thin backpacking one was sufficient for his tiny self). We didn’t want to spend more money on kid sized stuff, and I can’t see a reason why. He slept great, slid around a little but we just scooted him right back into the pad. We also brought a battery powered sound machine from home to bring in a familiar element to bed time and just followed our routine as usual. The scary specter of sleepless nights in a tent vanished and I couldn’t be happier. I am buying a portable fan for naptime since it is during the hottest part of the day.

I also think think that having a large tent made a difference. There was plenty of room for us all to spread out in. It is canvas, so pretty warm for a huge tent, and I was grateful for it when the wind picked up because it was quite quiet. So there it is. Sleep.

eating and play

As for the rest of the trip, our tent has a large door that essentially makes the tent an open shaded living area for daytime. The baby enjoyed army crawling about in there throughout the day, no pack n play needed. He tended to want to eat the sand so I had to watch him when he got off the blankets/ out of the tent.

Instead of buying a portable highchair, we brought our baby back pack with stand and he chilled in there while we all sat in chairs. And as for the toddler, we use low to the ground camp chairs that also fit inside the tent. That way buying a special child sized chair isn’t necessary. He loves his camp chairs.

This was primitive camping, so no picnic table, we just used a small GSI folding table. This was also good at night time to keep in the tent to keep our diaper changing items organized. It is also perfect for dining with the low chairs.

Don’t forget an assortment of toys from home. I think I’ll be picking up a backpacking bocce ball set.

organization

Little kids require a lot of stuff and a lot of time and attention. Organization and streamlining packing makes this kind of venture so much easier to attempt. To that end, I’ll just go ahead and mention that a mountainsmith gear hauler is genius for families. We each get a ‘cube’ and it requires only one trip to load and unload for all four of us. It kept our tent organized, and the mesh bag that holds the folded up unit for storage doubled as a laundry bag. I keep trying to find an excuse to buy a second one, it is so useful.

Also, those huge blue bags from ikea that cost a couple of bucks each are super useful. One had all of our bedding and another held all of our furniture. I want one more for odds and ends like the solar shower (pressurized by foot pump by Nemo, and excellent for rinsing dishes and sandy feet) and the portable potty (never thought I’d get one, but they are awesome, ours is from cleanwaste.)

It is unrelated to children per se, but if you are looking to organize a camp kitchen, the Camp Chef Sherpa is great. Everything is in one place, it is compact, and no set up or take down. You can have pb and j made in a jiffy.

Finally, I will be picking up a sand mat for the front of the tent. It turns out that toddlers run in and out of tents all day and don’t brush off their feet or remove their shoes. Lots of shaking sand out of everything.

What else is there? Good clean family fun enjoying the great outdoors. It is such a great way to focus us on the basics and spend time as a family. Once your gear is put together, it is inexpensive as well. Happy camping.

december gardening in the dome

gardening, green living, lifestyle December 14, 2014

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It has been a long time since I have posted about the greenhouse. It is mid- December with plenty of snow on the ground and things are growing beautifully inside. Our banana tree got hit by one of the cold nights, but I think it will make it and the lemon tree looks pretty good. My perennial herbs are happy as can be. We have some gargantuan Borage, my son likes to eat the sweet flowers. Lettuce, spinach, carrots, parsley, beats and chard are all as happy as can be. The grape vine has lost its leaves for the winter. And our strawberries are on their second round of production. I have onions scattered amongst the greens and herbs as an experiment. We are looking forward to some good winter harvests.

All the perennial seedlings that I started in the spring and summer have been up potted to 1 gallon pots, and will save us a ton of money on landscaping for our home come spring. There are also a bunch of orphans in there that my husband picked up from various landscaping jobs over the summer. We will have several wild roses to plant in the spring!

We have however, been battling various pests. I am sure that equilibrium will come in time, but we did build an oasis in the middle of a desert. It was bound to attract all sorts of hungry critters. We had a cricket infestation during the summer, but the cold has taken care of them. We have been releasing lady bugs into the greenhouse the last couple of days, and they are making short work of the aphids on our greens. My son loves watching them crawl around. As do I, actually. The only problem left is to figure out how to keep mice out. I plan on planting mint in great quantities in the spring and replacing the pecan shell floor with pea gravel. For the time being we are just setting mouse traps. We have hantavirus here in New Mexico, I do not mess around with mice.

All in all, the dome is living up to its promise of providing a growing space all year long and the whole family has enjoyed it. We haven’t quite gotten it to produce enough to feed us more than a bit here and there, but I am learning a ton and we are getting closer all the time. Next year we need a bigger fan and a misting system as the height of the summer was just too hot. We will also need to install a timed drip system off of the tank in order to be able to go camping without hiring a gardener to watch our house!

car camping road tripping the mountains are calling christmas wish list

Gear, lifestyle, travel December 12, 2014

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Ok. This is my third and final car camping gear post. I promise. Maybe.

I have just realized that the last good trip I went on was three years ago, a combination of San Francisco (including running the marathon, ouch) and Alaska. It was our last hurrah before the kids came and we didn’t know it. It was a good one. Beer, friends, running, eating, travel and mountains. Some of my favorite things in no particular order. We covered a lot of ground, had zero itinerary, lots of time and were light on the luggage. Ahhh. I have been making a decent yearly trip for most of my adult life and this year as December closes in on me, I think I’m getting some major cabin fever. There was a time when I felt that 14 miles was the perfect distance for a run and that a trip didn’t count unless it lasted atleast a month. Now, I’m lucky if I can find 45 minutes to walk 1.5 miles with my double stroller up the hill by my house. My diaper bag is roughly the same size as the bag I lived out of for 6 months in Africa. The grass is growing tall under my feet. I am nursing a newborn constantly, buried in childrens’ naps and diapers, and have yet to figure out how to get my brood out the door within a reasonable time frame. I’m itching for an adventure. With this realization, my current and almost pathological obsession with camping and road trips makes some sense. At least that’s what I’m going with. In honor of those suffering from cabin fever and wander lust everywhere, here is my finalized wish list for the epic family road trip/ camping set up. Our current plan is to start with short jaunts to Colorado for beer festivals and go from there as our clan gains some finesse.IMG_3026.JPG

1. Vehicle: we just traded in the very fuel efficient station wagon for a Nissan Xterra. Not efficient. Not at all. It does however, have 4wd and we do live in the mountains where there is (hopefully for the ski season) plenty of snow. It is also very offroad capable, came with a tow package, and holds both our car seats and our legs comfortably. It also has a rubber cargo area that will contain our muddy dogs beautifully. This is our ticket to freedom. And yes, we looked at more efficient crossovers, but most of the fibers of my being resisted such a practical mom choice. I wanted a car that I can drive up the side of a mountain.
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*** update, Xterra was too small and too thirsty. Traded it in for a Toyota Siena minivan. Amazing. Never driving anything else on road or camping trips.

2. Sleeping: this has been the biggest challenge because it is the most expensive and biggest commitment. And for a lifelong insomniac like myself, the most important. I’ve got it narrowed down-ish.

Least expensive: the good old fashioned tent. Coleman has some good cheap quick set up ones. Kelty has some neat inflatable camping palaces.

Pros- affordable, roomy. Cons- more set up, more restrictive in terms of where you can sleep. (We’d love to be able to park in a friend’s driveway and sleep in our car).

Middle road: Cartop tent, ranging from $1500-$3500 (for the size we would like). Pros- comfortable, quick setup, doesn’t take up cargo room. Cons- expensive, smaller, drag on fuel efficiency, and you have to schlep small children up and down a ladder and not let them fall out.

In my dreams: a teardrop (Camp Inn, Little Guy) or other compact, lightweight camper trailer like the Cricket or Sylvan Go. Pros- easy, just hitch and go. They carry your gear. Home on wheels. Cons- expensive. We probably should not spend our children’s college fund on this. The Sylvan and the teardrops start around 8k, and you can go as high as you want from there. These also have the added benefit of including kitchens or dining areas, shaving more time off set up and take down as well as a little savings on gear.

Last post, I had settled on the behemoth Tepui Kukenam XL. I’ve since decided that it is too heavy and make our already thirsty xterra even thirstier. I have finally decided on the Cascadia Mount Hood tent out of the following:

A. James Baroud Nomad 160: 62×86, 95lbs, nice windows, looks airy on the inside, 30 seconds to set up. $2,199.95

B. Cascadia Mount Hood: 72×96, 140lbs, $1,495. A few minutes to set up.

C. James Baroud Grand XXL: 63.75x 89, weight unknown but hard shell so probably not much. Opens in 5 seconds. Fan and led lighting as well as exterior cargo bag. $3,510.95

D. Autohome Maggiolina Airland Lg:63×85, 150 lbs. Hard shell opens with crank in a few seconds. $3,199.00

E. Tepui Kukenam XL: 76×98, 205lbs, $1,925. Huge. Rugged. Would work well on a trailer if we could afford that.

The hard shells are really nice with quick set up but they are smaller and more expensive. The middle road seems to be the nomad which is also smaller with a quick set up, but $1k+ cheaper than the hard shells. This one is also the lightest at less than 100 lbs. Then, there is the large, economical and slightly more involved set up of the Cascadia mount hood.

Al we will need to complete our sleeping set up will be a couple of sleeping bags for the boys and some pillows for all of us from Sierra Designs.

3. Eating: we have a back packing set up from GSI Outdoors. I really like it, efficient and useful and stores nice and small. I think we will go with another more expansive GSI system for car camping. They also sell nice classic enamelware table settings,
Volcano three fuel grill for cooking and aeropress for coffee.

Also, you need a place to store it, so the Camp Chef Camp Sherpa comes in at $100 to store and serve as a table for the stove.

A collapsible sink or two from from Sea to Summit, coupled with a water bag for washing dishes and toiletries.

GSI macro table and helinox chairs for dining

Hydroflask insulated growler. Beer festivals.

Yeti cooler- doubles as bear vault

4. Power
Goal zero generator kit to power lights, phones/tablets, and cooler.

5. Misc.
Nemo pressurized solar shower

Small porta potty and pop up tent seems like it might be nice for late nights and showers. Never used one.

Books! Books. And more books with maps.

The gear without the tent adds up to a little over a grand, with my husband’s discount through his winter job at a ski/outdoor shop. By my estimate, we can be fully mobile with our dream gear for around $2,800. That can be shaved down considerably if we make do with things like a normal cooler, our backpacking stove and dishes, no table, no solar power etc. In any event, that is a budget I can work with. Bye bye airfare, cramped hotel rooms, and terrible road food. Hello national parks and lots of bathroom breaks for the kids. In the meantime, it looks like ski season has started:

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beauty matters

lifestyle, minimalism December 9, 2014

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When I tell my husband I have to brush my hair or change my clothes before I leave the house, he invariably responds with ‘it doesn’t matter’. When I tell him we have to tidy up the house, he usually tells me to relax and let it be, to stop worrying about such small things. For a landscaper, he has a strange disregard for aesthetics in any other area. But when a leaf or branch is out of place, a pair of clippers will appear from nowhere to dispatch with the offending object. You would think he would understand.

I don’t have time for the sub par. Time moves very fast and we live only once (at least that we are aware of). I feel good when I am reading a beautiful book to my beautiful children, while listening to good music in a clean uncluttered home whose large windows looks out onto beautiful vistas, where the air smells good, and after eating delicious food. I want the textures we touch to be pleasing. I want the clothing we wear to be simple and attractive. I want our spaces to be bright and airy and tidy. I want the sights, smells and sounds we are surrounded with to be beautiful.

This extends to movement as well. I enjoy yoga, in part because of the beauty in the forms of the poses. Dancing is an obvious example, though I doubt anyone would accuse me of being a beautiful dancer. Skiing is my favorite example. First of all, what is more glorious than snow covered peaks, expansive vistas, and clean crisp high mountain air? Nothing, except for the feeling of making beautiful turns in the snow, the feeling that comes with good form, muscle control and execution. I love skiing in general, but when I can pull off doing it beautifully, then I feel as if I truly belong on the mountain and all its glory.

It is easy to dismiss these things as lowly, materialistic, or vain and hedonistic. But I believe beauty to be very important to living a good life. And this doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, having less makes it easier to keep a clean home. A couple quality items costs the same as many cheap ones. Keep less, but make it good. We are also blessed to live in a beautiful place, but we gave up a great deal to make that a priority. Every day I am grateful for that choice.

We perceive the world through our senses. Our experience of the world is through our senses. It stands to reason that the intangibles of thought and love will be filtered through these senses. Our mind and hearts may reflect the beauty that our senses experience. As we roll through the holidays, thinking of gratitude and giving and taking stock of the year and our choices, here’s to maintaining a simple and beautiful life.

Here’s a link to a discussion on Beauty in Western Philosophy as more fuel for the fire.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Beauty
I always forget the roll that studying philosophy had in shaping my thoughts and outlook, though I am so far separated from my studies that I can rarely point to any direct philosophic lineage.

lullaby

lifestyle, parenting, Uncategorized December 9, 2014

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I sing my boys to sleep every night. The little one lights up when he hears a song, and the older one is starting to sing along. This holiday season I’ll try to remember the real gifts we give, and this one is a love of music. Here are my favorites.

The Book of Love, Magnetic Fields
– so simple, I have long loved this song

Stewball, Perer Paul and Mary
– my late stepmother used to sing this, it makes me feel like I am giving them something of her

The Parting Glass, old Irish song
– my dad introduced me to it through the Wailing Jennys version

Turn Around, as sung by Nanci Griffith
– can’t not cry while singing this to a newborn

Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby, Emmylou Harris, Alison Kraus, Gilliam Welch.
– what a round up

Where Have All the Flowers Gone, as sung by Peter, Paul and Mary
– my little one likes the high notes

Boots of Spanish Leather, Bob Dylan
– I have just always loved this song and so my kids must as well

This Land is Your Land, Woodie Guthrie
– because my dad used to sing it and all I want to do is go road trip/camping with these little guys.

500 Miles, Rosanne Cash put this on an album called The List, based off a list of songs that her dad compiled as the most important songs in American music. Who am I to argue with Johnny Cash?

Happy Holidays.

budget (car) travel with champagne taste

lifestyle, travel November 22, 2014

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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.

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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.

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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.