Sunday, July 18, 2010

Camping Style - How Do You Do It?

My camping style is probably not the norm, as I camp for work for a week at a time with no particular amenities. But I do have a bit of a system. It's not a super-streamlined backpacking setup or anything, but a useful low-effort car camping system. Nothing about this is stylish or cool (as I have been seeing in other bloggy "camping" roundups, some people should just stick with hotels and RVs) but it is highly functional and the gear is all worthwhile investments (I can say that for sure as I have had most of mine for going on four years of hard use).

1. A two-person tent. Just for me. This leaves room for all my bits and bobs. Always buy a tent that sleeps more people than you actually want to sleep in it. I swear. Mine is a three-season tent from Sierra Designs that has stood up well to the occasional downpour and even a couple inches of snow on one memorable May morning. I like a vestibule so I can stash my shoes in it and keep my tent tidy inside.

This little fella has done ok over the past four years, the zippers tend to stick but it's roomy and comes with a rain fly that works like a charm! Great for unexpected downpours! Also, it was on sale ;)

2. A good inflatable sleeping pad. I swear these are a worthwhile investment, which I am reminded of every time I pack up my tent and realize that I was sleeping on a pine cone all week. Mine is not the poofiest but I am more of a back sleeper and less of a side sleeper so I don't mind as much, if you are a devoted side sleeper a poofier pad is your best bet since your hip will be digging into it. But I had a non-inflatable foam pad early on and it just doesn't do the job.

3. A cozy sleeping bag. Nuff said.

Edited To Add: after four years of hard use and infrequent washing, this sleeping bag has finally had a seam open up in an interior corner. It was a bitch to sew up as it was three-sided but I will see if it survives. The rest of the bag is in great shape.

4. Lighting options. I have a little flashlight that extends and makes a little lantern that I can hang from my tent ceiling. Normally I use a headlamp but when in a tent trying to take your contacts out a headlamp will make an unfortunate (and blinding) glare in your little travel mirror. So I have two lighting options that I travel with, and our crew has a bigger communal lantern that lives in the cooking area. It may attract bugs but can be helpful for late-night Cranium games when headlamps would blind your teammates.

We carry a lot of communal gear like folding tables and chairs and propane stoves that make life a little more comfortable out there. But these are my camping necessities. When I camp with Matt we take his VW bus so I don't need most of this stuff but I sure am glad to have it when I am out for a week at a time for work.

What are your camping necessities? Do you like to car camp, backpack or just stick to a nice hotel?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

How To Be Gorgeous

From somebody that knows. In a pink, slightly special way.

Stopping off for a second to be super again, I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer out there! Real content tomorrow before I leave again, I promise!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Happy-Making (No Real Content, Sorry)

This is happy-making. Possibly works better when you are cute and Italian. Also I am going home tomorrow to see my grandma in the hospital. So probably no more posts for a bit. Then back to work, so definitely no more posts for a bit. But I promise it's nothing personal ;)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Summer Style

While I may have gathered some inspiration from The Glamorous Grad Student and too many episodes of Pushing Daisies (check out Chuck's costumes), I feel like a little more fantasy closet time. We're still talking color in moderation, small details like a flared skirt and a ruffle here or there. Not so much structure and a little more sporty influence. Comfy and casual is the summer M.O. and the accessories can do the heavy lifting. And a little bit of white for summer.

And now back to the regularly scheduled boots and Carhartts.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Frivolity For The Fourth

We spent a lovely multicultural evening at my sister-in-law's house - she made Hot Pot in honor of the Brit relatives being out to visit. We'll see if my stomach survives. Hot Pot is HOT.

We also took them out for a big American breakfast this a.m. My poor stomach is inclined to look forward to being back on the camping food soon.

And just to get my Polyvore fix in, here's an (idealized) outfit for tomorrow's barbecue. I got some gorgeous peaches and apricots at the Farmer's Market so it's cobbler time! And I did finally find another decent white button-down so that outfit is actually remotely accurate this time!! Summer is the only time of year when I can wear white and years ago I found a great button-down at Old Navy and it finally gets to take a break (I'm not retiring it yet). I like a white shirt as a cover-up as long as I don't have to button it and tuck it into slacks or something crazy like that. Anyways, hope everyone has a happy 4th and lots of barbecue!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Go To Your Angry Place, Animal!

Did you really think I wouldn't post a new Muppets video when it came out?

It's all even better because Matt's bass player buddy looks just like Floyd. The dude is a walking Muppet. So it just makes everything better. I don't care for OKGO's music but they do make great videos. And the Muppets seem to just put out pure gold when it comes to webby awards videos.

These Breaks Need More... Breakiness... About Them

For my last work break, my family was in town for Father's Day. Which was fun, but busy and un-break-like. This break, some of Matt's relatives are in town from the U.K. so it will be even less break-like as there will be mild amounts of touristy travel and BBQ hosting. Tonight was the first such BBQ. Friday night will be the next, at the mother-in-law's house, then Saturday is Hot Pot at my Chinese sister-in-law's house and Sunday we will be back here for another BBQ. So of course, I am hunting for ideas.

Tonight I barbecued some chicken and it was fine. My C-s-i-l brought bean curd with black fungi and it was lovely with the chicken. I made a salad and my m-i-l brought green beans. It was all respectable. And this was dessert. Crispy crumble crust over a pile of mixed berries and a couple of peaches. The crust sank in and was less than crispy, but it was still a massive hit. Just not photo-worthy. Especially by the time we finished with it. So I am fine with going for a safe menu and ending on a high note.

But what to do Sunday? I can always delegate a vegetable and a spicy Chinese side dish of some sort, so I am thinking of doing a couple of pork shoulders, really slow. They're cheaper than tenderloin for a crowd, for starters. And I'm thinking about a pie. Peach or cherry or something summery and traditional "American". The Farmer's Market is Saturday so I can pick up something decadent instead of using frozen berries... thoughts/opinions? How many people does the average pie feed? I usually only make pies for T-Day so it's been a while. Smitten Kitchen's crust recipe works for pretty much everything but I'm torn in the filling dept. I guess I'll see what I can find on Saturday and work from there.

I am contemplating something like this just because I would much rather cook outside (it's hot now). Not going to buy a fancy WS pan thing to do it in though. And what if I need to do two? We're looking at twelve or thirteen people not counting the kiddoes. Another fun option is kebabs but they are always high maintenance because you've got to pre-stab everything. I'm looking for something more interesting than burgers or my usual sausage-fest.

And apparently I make good coffee. As opposed to "American" coffee. Even though I definitely get my coffee from my home town which is definitely in America. At least they haven't referred to us as The Colonies yet. That always leads to a discussion about how Nevada was never actually under British control and may segue into Eddie Izzard impressions.

I'm still working on the bedroom ideas, if you have any good source for extra-large queen duvet covers please tell me! And cross your fingers that something decent will turn up on stupid Craigslist in the dresser dept...