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Blogging about gardening in zone 4, marriage, our golden retriever and life in general.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Toiletries for Europe

When packing for one of our first trips, DJ had a list of things labeled "Toilet Trees". He knows that's not the proper spelling of all the gear one packs to deal with their body, but since then we've always referred to things like shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc. as Toilet Trees. Sometimes just "'Trees".

Given our carry-on only travel plans, the 'Trees need to be pretty light. They'll also have to be divided into liquid and non-liquid items. 

First, the non-liquid items. Below is a combination of personal care items and first aid items, including two kinds of blister relief pads, Drammamine (in case DJ gets train-sick), probiotics (for me and my sometimes unpredictable GI tract), Tums, UTI pills (I haven't had one in a while, but I don't want to deal with that uncomfortableness in Europe), deodorant/ antiperspirant, two kinds of anti-chafe stuff (I'm packing skirts and want to wear them to walk around in without having the "OMFG OUCH my thighs!" issue), Dove sensitive skin soap, which I use on my face and body, My red nail care kit (any idea if they'll let me fly with little tiny scissors?), and the scraper thing for when I get calluses on my feet (Gross to share, but important to have). And floss. 

The liquid bag is still a little uncertain. Packing contact solution is the biggest pain in the ass thing; I wish I'd been able to have laser eye surgery last winter! Also: hand sanitizer, various types of sunscreen (won't be enough for the whole trip, but will at least get us started), moisturizers, Tide packets for washing clothes, 2-in-1 shampoo/ conditioner (takes less space!), eye makeup remover and toothpaste.

Obviously I'm not showing you my toothbrush, my daily multivitamin, my makeup and all of the regular stuff I use which will go along. I've found that packing the daily stuff is usually pretty simple, since I really don't wear much makeup!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Gear for Europe

As we near our departure date, I'm pretty certain we've finished up our For-Europe purchases. I told DJ last night that I have the same feeling I did in the last week before our wedding: damn the price, if you think you're going to need it, buy it. The good news is, I think I'll have a lot less buyers remorse about Europe than I do about our wedding! At least all the Europe stuff will be used again, unlike say... the 12 tiki torches we bought.

I've shown you my shoes for Europe and most of the clothing I'll be taking, but now let me show you most of the gear I plan to pack.

As I've said before, we're planning on traveling light, with carry-on sized baggage. I'll have the Samsonite roll-aboard I bought with the remainder of our wedding gift cards, and DJ will have his tiny little roll-aboard. DJ has a messenger bag he'll use as a personal item and I just purchased a purse/ small day bag which will be mine. It's been a kind of fun challenge to work through exactly what it is we want to take.

First, a sort of fanny-pack for the most important documents. There are pickpockets in Venice and Rome, and at train and air travel locations. It's inevitable that our pockets will be picked, so we might as well prevent loss of important items. Bastards better not steal my chapstick, is all I'm gonna say! Anyway, thus the purchase of the silky fanny pack, which you wear around your front and tuck into your pants/ skirt waistband. Into it will go the passport (duh), wallet (the little green flip'n'fold wallet is from Target), and any other important paperwork. My only concern with this item is that clearly I can't wear a full-length dress if I'll need to be getting into my pouch...

While it'll probably pretty warm in Italy, I'm anticipating cooler weather in France. The weather forecast for Normandy right now calls for highs in the upper '60's (F) and lows in the upper 50's (F), with wet weather a possibility. On the left is the North Face Venture rain jacket I purchased this spring. In the middle is an underarmour pullover I've had for a few years. The green square to the right is a big green scarf which I'll wear with my black Patagonia dress on the plane. The scarf will be a cover-up, blanket, etc. while in flight. The crimson 'Cougs hat will be just an accessory- I'm looking forward to seeing if anyone comments on the hat!

Below is my carry-on items. From left to right: inflatable pillow, new Jon Grisham paperback, the day-bag I bought, a bottle for water, eye mask, Neutrogena makeup-remover wipes, travel journal, goldfish crackers and granola bars. Both DJ and I are planning on sleeping from Minneapolis to Amsterdam, so the inflatable pillow, eye mask and ear plugs (not pictured) will be important. We've both also debated taking a Tylenol PM, just to make sure we're not miserable for the lengthy flight. The paperback and goldfish are my go-to plane entertainment items. I'll fill the waterbottle once we've cleared security. The granola bars will go with us because I get really bitchy when I'm hungry, so they'll be our first line of prevention for that.

Other gear not pictured includes guidebooks (we'll separate those between our rolling luggage), a file with all of our rental car, hotel, and flight reservation information as well as tentative train schedule information for Italy. Of course, camera, camera charger, extra camera memory chip, DJ's droid phone (on which we'll turn the phone mode off and just find wireless hot spots to use it as a small computer), phone charger. I'll want to have my glasses case/ contact stuff handy, as I'll take those out pretty quickly into our trip. We've also got handi-wipes, small packets of laundry detergent for doing laundry in hotel sinks, a mini-clothes line for laundry, shout wipes (I'm taking 3 white shirts to a country that eats pasta, you know how this story ends).

The spreadsheet for this packing is actually pretty detailed, but small, since we're trying to pack so lightly! I'll go over toiletries for Europe later.

Friday, August 26, 2011

August 26 Friday Farming

Sigh. It's a Friday Farming post, as Friday is about over. I have photos for last week's Friday farming post, but never got around to actually posting them. Summer flies by so fast! 

August has been, well, rather stressful. Working to get all of the work items taken care of, personal items attended to, and trip thoughtfully planned before we leave has just been a lot of...work. It feels like Monday through Friday has been an absolute sprint. 

But in between all of the to-do lists, and the waking up at 5am with thoughts of things-to-do running through my head have been a couple of really good things. My friend Alli, the one of the the great hike, and who did the awesome pamphlet map for our wedding invites became engaged last weekend. I'm thrilled for them! But even better is that Alli and her almost fiancee Bill are visiting us for 'Cat-Griz weekend (rivalry weekend in college football, the weekend before Thanksgiving). I'm so excited to have them here! 

Along the wedding lines, I had a chance to loan out my wedding shoes to my "little sister" in the sorority, Jenni, who is doing her engagement photos next week, and getting married July 7, 2012. I'm so excited to get to pass along these great shoes which are apparently now not available. It makes me happy that Jenni will get such joy out of them too. 

And holy shit, did you know we're going to Europe?! Gah, I have so much to tell you :)

But let's focus on the purpose of tonight's post: Friday Farming. Because man, this yard/ garden is doing really well right now! Who in their right mind scheduled a major vacation in early September, just as all of the peppers and tomatoes were coming in? Oh... me.

First, Hydrangea. Specifically: twist and shout hydrangea. Makes me smile every time! 

Know what else makes me smile? Sunflowers, which FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY bloomed!

I mean seriously, I've only been waiting for this since, oh, March.

Um guys, I may have overplanted the garden. There are areas I can't really access because vines are going every which way and there is nowhere to step. Oops!

My gladiolus are blooming!

And the early girl tomatoes are ripening.

We've been consistiently picking early girl tomatoes off the vines for a few weeks now. They're delicious!

I think this pumpkin has evil plans. Plans to grow over the house and strangle us in our sleep. Seriously. This thing grows like 18" a day.

There is supposed to be a walkway in there, somewhere.

Winter squash!

Pumpkin! Question: I think I once read that after getting a pumpkin vine to set fruit, I should snap all of the other flowers off of the vine in order to direct all of the nutrients to the existing fruit and make it big? True? Not?

Zucchini! I see zuch bread, muffins, stir fry, etc. in our future. :)

Roma tomatoes! Wayyyyy bigger than last year's Roma's. I'm pretty certain they'll all ripen while we're in... Roma. Thankfully we have someone house/ dog sitting who can pick my tomatoes and save them for me to process.

Summer squash, some of it destined for our Saturday night pasta.



More pepper!


Spaghetti squash!


Gladiolus (apparently I'm really proud of these...)

Clematis on the top, sweet peas trellising up the bottom.

Front yard.

So I seriously thought these sweet peas weren't going to do much this year. They start so damn slow!

But clearly they come on late.

And man they smell good.

My Autumn Joy sedum is starting to turn pink. I think that means fall is around the corner...

Bell peppers!

Cherry Bomb bell peppers. So funny story. Wednesday night I was making salsa for an event on Thursday night, and I had a ripe Cherry bomb. I chopped it up, tossed it in the bowl. Then I chopped up a tomato and tossed it in the bowl, but a little into my mouth. HOT!!! Hot! WTF why is that tomato HOT! Ohh... these little suckers pack a punch!

Hungarian wax pepper.

Black-eyed Susans.

The herbs.

The mint (currently in my mojito).

My bee balm, which is getting powdery mildew from being directly sprayed by the water.

Bed along the driveway.

Snapdragon! Starting to bloom. Guys I grew this from seed!

Fern gully.

What's not shown: that I've harvested all of the garlic and it's in the coat closet drying. That we've got a pile of juliet tomatoes on our kitchen counter. That I'm seriously sad to be missing the best part of summer gardening while we're in Europe; everything is just about to start being prolific. That by the time we get back, it'll be well into fall. That I'm a bit scared/ intimidated by winter this year. That I want to plant evergreens by our front steps. That I can't wait to spend 17 days trapsing about with my husband.

Life, my friends, is good right now. Busy, incredibly busy, but good.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

August 12 Friday Farming (on Saturday)

Yep, a Friday Farming... on Saturday. Sorry, yesterday got away from me; it's been rush rush rush every which way right now! 

The daisies in the front yard are still blooming, all though they look to be at the end of their run. I hope the larkspur in the bottom left corner of this photo, comes on soon. There is also a daylilly in there, which seems reticent to bloom for the second year in a row.

The front-yard peppers are doing okay. I must have aphids this year; many of my plants have Swiss cheese leaves.

This pepper is really slow to set fruit. Then again, weather.com told me it was 39 degrees at 6:30am on Friday morning. Yep, you read that right... only 7 degrees above freezing. DJ calls BS, but... ?

This little bed looks lush if you're sitting on our porch.

The sweet peas are finally coming on.

The daylilly is starting to open up.

And the bee balm is approaching the end of its blooms.

Ahhh... sweet peas make me smile.

Unfortunately, the bed looks a little under developed from this angle, especially if you consider that the goal was to camouflage those utility boxes. Growth of the Russian Sage planted between the boxes will help, and I think I might relocate the bee balm (again) to the street side of this bed.

To the right of the driveway.

More daylilly.

Cherry Bomb peppers! Okay, the one turning orange down there can't seriously be a ripe pepper, can it?

The Hungarian Wax pepper hasn't set fruit yet.

The herb garden is looking rather sad, now that I've pulled out the cilantro and the garlic. I think next year I'll plant an annual flower in between the garlic, so that the bed retains some interest as the garlic comes out.


My second kind of bee balm is doing the weirdest thing; it's falling over as it's about to bloom. I see this plant all around town and it doesn't appear to require staking or support. What gives?

Maybe the plant is mildwey from getting directly sprayed by the sprinkler?

Again, I need the larkspur to come on for some color.

More daisies. I think the ecchinacea I started from seed is definitely destined for over here.

I'm still finding raspberries as I walk by.

Fern gully. I like the addition of lobelia to the kitchen beds, and might sneak some of it in amongst the ferns next summer.

I still haven't cut back most of the iris stalks. As long as they stay green, I think they add a little vertical interest to the garden bed.

Sweet peas in amongst a mystery plant from Jane.

Annabelle Hydrangea!

More daylilly.These plants are so hardy, it can't be a surprise that I have so many of them.

Mmmm raspberries!

Back deck pots.

Oh, a doggie.

The clematis is blooming nicely. I hope it fills out sideways next year.

Ahhh, the farm!

With all that remains of my sweet pea fence.

Are carrots supposed to bloom? I pulled one of these out the other day, assuming it was a weed, and it was definitely a carrot!

Ripening Juliet tomatoes.

Early Girl tomatoes, which look like they're about to ripen up.

These things are like the size of my fist.

Roma tomatoes.

While none of my Roma tomatoes are ripe yet, I'm excited that a number of them are pretty big. It seemed like most of my Roma's last year were pretty puny.

Jalapenos! How long should I let the jalepeno grow? I'm guessing the bigger it gets, the less spicy it gets?

Crookneck summer squash!

Squash blossoms.

Zucchini blossoms.


Potato patch.

I'm not sure that my pumpkin plant is doing well. It will produce little furit-lets, but they'll fail to thrive and die off instead. What gives?

My guess? The plant is shoe-horned into an over filled bed and either not getting enough nutrients or enough light. Or too much water.

The Spaghetti squash seems to be doing well though!

MMMMM.... I wonder how far these are from being ripe?

Happy weekend!