Sunday, June 23, 2019

How To Pack Light

 As some have noted, I like to travel light. My husband is on board and we can usually travel with just carry-ons. We most notably went on a 10-day trip to Germany and surrounding area with just his backpack, my duffel bag, and a small backpack.
How do we do this? Well, we think through the whole trip and pack as little as possible to cover all the situations. We have bags that fit as carry-ons, namely I have an Under Armor duffel bag which is probably 8 years old and showing no signs of wear despite me using it for nearly every vacation and Mark has a "Cabin Max Metz backpack flight approved carry on bag" which is currently unavailable on Amazon.
Mark's Cabin Max in the distance

My UA duffel, topped with my hat that I didn't want crushed


Inside these we use packing cubes - you can get them in all sorts of sizes but the largest one I have tightly fits 6 rolled up t-shirts, a pair of shorts, a lightweight sweatshirt, and a set of pjs (shirt and pants). I probably could have fit another rolled up t-shirt.
Tip: pack the shorts, wear the jeans. Weather permitting, wear the sweatshirt too (but it was too warm and I was just bringing it as a habit from growing up in New England).
Large packing cube, not fully packed

That's all in the largest of my packing cubes. In my midsize packing cube, I stuff my socks, underclothes, and also a knee wrap hoping if I bring it with me, I won't need it (that's how those things usually work).
Large packing cube, left, with medium packing cube, right

I have a small packing cube but it mainly fits toiletries but since we were driving not flying, I didn't need to split up my toiletries so I didn't use my smallest cube. Here are my two cubes on top of my swimming suit and cover-ups in my duffel, topped by my hat.
Starting to pack it in

Since we were renting a house and I didn't know what I'd need, I packed my hair drying and straightener in there (turns out I didn't use either of them as the house provided a wall hair dryer like in hotels and I didn't care enough to do any straightening)
Packing cubes and such

My duffel has a handy end pocket used mainly for shoes, but I have a canvas pouch that I got from a Stitch Fix order that I use to bag my shoes, so I can use my shoe pouch for other things as well as shoes and not get everything dirty from whatever I've walked through. So in this end pocket I put a lot of liquids. As mentioned, we weren't flying, so I brought my full-size shampoo, conditioner, face wash, aloe spray, contact solution, and such. I put them in the end pocket because if they spill, they aren't near clothes.
Tip: wear the sneakers, pack the sandals.
Tip: bring travel size items to save on space.
End pocket with liquids and my tan canvas shoe bag containing sandals
 Next to pack was my toiletries bag. I keep most of these things in here because then I don't have to move them back and forth. I have a travel-size deodorant, travel-sized hair brush, razor, contact case, nail kit, and more. Usually I just need to add my medicines and this bag is good to go.
Next to this bag but not really in the picture is a small makeup bag - this contains chap stick, nail file, neutral eye shadows, and a few other things. I add my concealer since I haven't bought a second one to leave in there and my glasses wax because again I just have one of those, and this is good to go.
Tip: buy duplicates, in travel sizes, of toiletry items so you can leave them in your travel kit rather than remembering to raid your shower/bathroom before a trip. But this works best if you travel often otherwise you end up with a bag of expired goods.
Toiletries

Next up is my charger - I got the yellow coated wire from REI I think and it works well to corral cords for transit. I also got a thing to cover my charger cord to reinforce it and make it visually appealing. I usually stash this in the side pocket of my duffel so it is easy to reach and doesn't get tangled around anything.
Charger ready for transport
 Here is my fully stuffed bag containing full-sized toiletries in the end pocket (on left), two packing cubes atop my swim stuff, hair dryer, straightener, toiletries bag, make-up bag, and I believe I stuffed a blank comic book in there thinking I might doodle while away but I ended up not so I didn't need to pack that. It was a little hard to close but the zipper is strong and there were still some air pockets in there so I could have fit a bit more. Also my long front-side pocket has my phone charger and some diary pills and other assorted things.
Fully packed bag, ready to zip
 Lastly, we got something like these vacuum bags which are amazing to use with your laundry. It's a fact that used clothes take up more space than clean, folded/rolled cloths, but this bag solves that AND doesn't require a vacuum! You just stuff your clothes in it, seal the top (like closing a ziplock baggie), then roll it down to press out all the air (there are special one-way vents at the bottom).
Note: those are not the ones we have, but the ones we have are out of stock (by The Chestnut on Amazon).
Tip: in a pinch, you can use these bags to vacuum pack your clean clothes to save on space but they may be a little wrinkly on the other side.
Don't air your dirty laundry, vacuum pack it instead
Over all, I could have packed lighter but I didn't know entirely what I needed. That's a big part of packing light - knowing what all you will need and sticking to that.
We did bring several other bags of stuff for the house, like towels, sheets, beach items like an umbrella, games, sports equipment, food, and such. I didn't include those in this post since there's not much you can do to pack folded sheets, towels, and equipment more concisely - they basically are the size that they are.

I hope you found this post helpful! 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Isaiah 7

We had a guest speaker (Dr. Todd S. Beall) this Sunday who spoke on Isaiah 7, and it was really encouraging. We started with reading Matthew 1:18-25, which seems random to read in August but it references the prophecy given in Isaiah 7. Here are the notes!

God's Plans vs. Our Plans
Isaiah 7:1-25


  1. A crisis of faith and God's reassuring promise (7:1-9)
    • Israel/Syria wants to replace Judah's King Ahaz. God says it won't happen.
  2. An unbelieving king (7:10-12)
    • God commands Ahaz to ask for a sign. Ahaz says no.
    • A fun thought: if God gave you an incredible promise and told you to ask for a sign, what would you request as a sign?
  3. An amazing sign of deliverance (7:13-16)
    • A miraculous conception (7:14a)
      • pregnant virgin, referenced in Matthew 1
    • A comforting name (7:14b)
      • Immanuel - God with us. The miracle of the incarnation.
    • A promise of deliverance, both now and in the future (7:15-16, 8:5-10)
      • the threatening countries would be deserted when the Child is born
  4. A reminder of the foolishness of man's ways (7:17-25)
    • Ahaz's hired army of Assyria would devastate Judah
Conclusion
  1. Can we fathom God's plans and God's ways?
    • maybe my short-sighted plan is good enough => BAD IDEA
  2. Do we trust God, no matter what?



Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Hershey's Gold Review

Alternate title: My quest for Hershey's Gold.
I forgot where I first saw an ad for Hershey's Gold, the new candy bar from Hershey's, but it seemed tasty and I was intrigued. I thought I'd pick up a bar if I saw it in a store while I shopped.
And then I started watching the Olympics. I am a fan of Speed Skating and Apolo Ohno but those commercials are pervasive (granted, not annoying, just repetitive). I then decided I needed to try this new candy bar. And thus began my/our quest (I got my husband to help me).
I added the candy bar to our grocery list, so Mark looked for it when he was at Wegman's. He looked in the candy aisle and in the checkout area, but alas he did not see it anywhere! It was a sad day, and slightly puzzling because we do not live in a rural area and we expect to be able to find any food we desire. I know, First World Problems.
The next time we were out, we were by Target so we looked there. Alas, another strikeout!!! Where is this candy???
I then made it my quest on President's Day, as I ran errands, to find this candy bar. My first stop was Walmart, and there were some empty areas on the Hershey's shelf in the candy aisle but none of the tags mentioned Gold so I was sad. I looked in the checkout as I was checking out and still didn't find it. WHY.
I needed some fresh groceries so I went to Aldi's and didn't expect to find Hershey's Gold and I was correct - no Hershey's Gold there but I did get a load of fresh produce for under $8 which was cool.
My last stop of the day (unless I didn't find Hershey's Gold at which point I'm not sure where I'd look) was CVS. I looked all over the candy aisle and NO GOLD. I was sad. I decided to just check the front checkout and GOLD GOLD GOLD THEY HAD GOLD so I bought a bar.
We planned to try the bar that night, but we had a very filling dinner so it just sat on the table. The next evening, Mark was out but I opened the bar and limited myself to one three-piece chunk (the bar is interestingly perforated) and somehow I was able to keep myself to that limit.

IT IS DELICIOUS. If you like caramelized creme, peanuts, and pretzels, this is the candy bar for you! If you are expecting chocolaty goodness, look elsewhere - this bar is not chocolate. But this bar is different, it's sweet and salty and has some crunch and I would like more places to carry it!!!

I would like another piece but alas, when Mark came home, we broke off one three-piece chunk at a time and shared it but we ate the whole thing. Do I want to know how many servings are in this? I dare to look and WOOHOO it's a two serving bar so we are good! I won't look at the nutrition facts because seriously people, this is a candy bar.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

James chapter 1

We had a guest speaker, Jim Schuppe, do an excellent series on James. Here are my notes from the first three sessions - I found them rewarding and thought I'd share.

Friends We Deplore - Trials (James 1:1-12)
1. Count it all joy - make a choice to see it as good. Thank God for trials. Don't ask why it was taken away; ask why it was given.
2. Go through the trial fully (completely). It will produce patience/endurance/maturity.
3. Ask God for wisdom. He will give it.
4. Ask in faith (no doubts). Faith is not a feeling/emotion - it is an action. 
5. Rejoice in your status change. "to those who love Him"

Terrorists We Adore - Temptations (James 1:13-20)
Five Deceptions/Rationalizations:
1. God made me this way and I can't help it (victim). See Adam & Eve - Genesis 3.
2. The Devil made me do it. Actually: 
 a. Drawn away by desires (normal, human, not necessarily bad).  
 b. Enticed (baited) - offer for wrong fulfillment. 
 c. Sin (action) - grabbing the bait.
3. It won't kill me / hurt me / I can do this and get away with it - FALSE. Many examples. God's way is best.
4. The Devil has better offers / more fun - Satan takes, doesn't give, and doesn't stick around.
5. I can do this myself - rather: 
 a. Listen.
 b. Speak truth to yourself and speak carefully.
 c. Control your anger.

Elephant in the Room We Ignore - Word of God (James 1:21-25)
1. The Word of God helps those who need salvation.
2. The Word of God helps those getting out of / free from sin.
3. The Word of God helps those who capture its words. Hang on, internalize, grasp
4. The Word of God only blesses those who obey it. No other way. Be doers, not just hearers. 

And here's a comic I drew a while ago that's related:
Aaaaaand I've misplaced my notes for James 1:26-27, which is a bummer because there is a lot in those two verses:
"If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." (ESV)
I found the header: 
The tasks we minimize - Religion (James 1:26-27)

And a summary of chapter two and beyond:
The millionaires we insult - racism (James 2:1-13)

The response we overlook - faith (James 2:14-26)

The instrument so difficult to play - speech (James 3:1-18). I drew some comics on this one so check out my other blog for those (will post links later).

Monday, November 27, 2017

Double Movie Review: Thor 3 and Justice League

Ok, so this review will have spoilers. I will do a super short summary where I will keep out the spoilers, then a full review where there could be some minor spoilers.

Super short with no spoilers: both are PG-13 and I would not recommend for any kids (quite a bit of violence and a little bit of language), but both get positive reviews from me for the age-appropriate audience. I'm not liking the Marvel trend of crude butt humor. I'm not a fan of romance and neither of these movies had much of that, so that was nice. I like light-hearted characters and both movies had these. I went in with too high of hopes for Thor and too low of hopes for Justice League.



Review:
Thor 3: I went in with high hopes for this one - it's Marvel; it's not GotG; it's classic characters Thor and Hulk and Loki. I was a little disappointed but overall still give this one a positive review. The negative is that Disney/Marvel is really on the butt humor trend that GotG2 started but thankfully was not nearly as crude (still kinda crude though). The positive is that it has some good humorous points, there is no romance, and Thor is just a really optimistic character.

Justice League: I went in with low hopes for this one - BvS really dampened my hopes for a DC movie and I just didn't see this matching up to WW. The good news is, they stayed off the crude humor trend, there is minimal romance, and added some really optimistic characters (Aquaman and Flash) which strayed away from the dark doom and gloom of MoS and BvS. I give this one a positive review. The scene with Aquaman and the lasso of truth was hilarious.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Triple Super Movies Review - Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Spider-Man Homecoming

This summer there were a few major superhero movies that came out, and I watched them, and now I'll let you know how I feel about them.
Note - all three of these are rated PG-13, so when I say I recommend it, I mean for people 13 and older. Ratings are there for a reason. None of these are children's movies.

Here's the spoiler-free reviews:
Wonder Woman - Good! I liked it a lot.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 - Terrible, do not recommend at all. Just don't. If you have serious FOMO, look up the IMDB summary to get the plot overview.
Spider-Man: Homecoming - Good, with caveats.

And here's the full reviews (may contain light spoilers as it's hard to talk about something without talking about it):
Wonder-Woman - I liked this a lot. It did not glorify violence in my opinion - it showed you can be ready to fight without being eager to fight. It showed that love is greater than hate. I liked how it portrayed WWI, especially since most of history wants to just ignore WWI. I highly recommend it. Granted, it is rated PG-13 so there is some objectionable material and violence (as it is WWI) but I liked most of the characters and the line between good and evil was clearly drawn.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 - Terrible. I did not like it at all. I do not recommend it at all. I felt embarrassed in the movie theater, actually felt like there was a mix-up because the movie was so crass and objectionable that it could not be a MCU and Disney venture. I feel it should have been rated R, especially with all the terms they used for male anatomy. The trailers were completely misleading, showing a cute baby Groot dancing around rather than the violent, foul scenes that filled the movie. There was disturbing imagery during the pirate mutiny. The main characters are not good people and the secondary characters were clearly bad people, but the movie tried to make you like them? It seems that the producer was under the impression that the end justified the means; since the characters did something good then that negates the murderous, violent, angry things they've done and will keep doing. The plot was thin at best and character development was very minimal. Crude jokes were thrown all over the place and seemed like the child that keeps saying the same thing over and over and hoping you finally laugh? There was not much redeemable in this feature. The teenage Groot scene in the credits was funny? That's about it. And I'm pretty sure I've seen that scene online so yeah.

Spider-Man: Homecoming - I liked this, but there was a lot of juvenile behavior and language. Granted, it is set in high school so that is expected (sadly). I think it showed that kids need strong adults in their life who they can confide in and trust. The main characters were likable, Captain America is my favorite, and the plot was interesting. The main character had awesome (punderful) shirts from a company that I also frequent, so that was cool. Stay for the final scene at the very end of the credits. Overall, I would watch it again. But it would be nice to have a language filter (especially if you want to watch this with your parents) (why must people use male anatomy as a colloquial insult?).

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Dehydration Fix Part 2

Previously I have written about Hydralyte - I use the tablet form and it's great and travel-size and keeps me hydrated! My friend who told me about this amazing product found out that it comes in powder form and asked me to try it out. Here's my review.
So just like the tablet form, it comes in berry or orange (possibly other flavors, but these are the ones I've tried). Either flavor tastes good, but I personally prefer the orange. The packets are nice because they are single-serving (not a sleeve like the tablets) and store flat, which means you can stash one in your pocket when you go out in the sun or they can be tucked into your cooler without taking up much (barely any) space. 
Also a nice feature of the packets is that you can use them in a store-bought bottle of water (the neck of those just keep getting smaller and the tablets don't fit into most). 
In summary, I really like them and they're possibly even better than the tablet form!