Cool Stuff, DIY, History, Home, Home and Garden, Home Care

Light Switch Time Capsule

When we were remodeling our bathroom and took down the sheetrock, we found two different families’ names inside the wall, written on the back of the sheetrock of the opposite room. One was from the 1950s, and one from the 1970s where it looked like the kids had written the names and ages of the parents and kids. The oldest boy (16) had written his name away from the others, ha. We really enjoyed seeing the names and added our own with the message (referring to the bathroom remodel) “We did the best we could!”

So here’s an even better idea — someone has set up a light switch cover template with a tiny font you can use to write a message for the future occupants of your house to find after you leave! You can find it here in this article from Makezine.com. Wouldn’t it be even more fun to leave a note behind EVERY light switch cover? 😁😁

Photo from “Light Switch Time Capsule” on Makezine
Food

Zucchini for Lunch

I made this low carb Easy Cheesy Zucchini Bake today. It is meant to be a side dish, but I’m having it as my main lunch. It was indeed easy, but not as cheesy as it could be. Next time I will add more cheese (mozzarella and parmesan), and thus add more protein. You just slice all the things, mix everything together, and toss it in a baking dish to bake at 350F.

The recipe calls for thyme, which I couldn’t find in my spice cupboard, so there was no thyme added. It also calls for “salt and pepper to taste” so I liberally salted and peppered, but I think I was too heavy on the pepper as it tastes spicier than I’d like.

While a bit funny-looking, it is very tasty and makes a great warm lunch on this rainy day. I think I’ll have another helping!

DIY, Home and Garden

My Garden

At our house, the Hubs and the Girl are in charge of the vegetable garden, and the Hubs is in charge (very reluctantly) of doing most of the yard work, since I am allergic. My part is a container garden of herbs on a little corner of the patio. I can almost always remember to water my happy plants and for the past couple of years they have been growing pretty well. Today I got my new succulent plants put in, and they will be a nice addition to the space.

As mentioned in prior posts I decided to plant some succulents in a strawberry pot, and after cleaning and disinfecting the pot yesterday, today I got to work getting the plants in.

Sand, potting soil, pot

First I mixed two bags of Miracle Gro Cactus, Palm, and Citrus Mix and about 2/3 of a bag of Perlite together in the wheelbarrow. I started by filling the strawberry pot with about 2 inches of sand, hoping that will help with drainage since I don’t have any good gravel or pottery shards to put in the bottom. Then I used a red Solo cup to scoop the soil into the pot, because that was one of the few scoop-shaped thingies I had in the house.

As I went along, I pushed soil into the little “mini-pots” around the sides of the pot. When it was full, I planted the large, pink-flowering succulent in the top. This plant was just labeled “hen and chicks”, but it is quite different from the ones I usually think of as the hen and chick variety.

The flowering succulent in the top of the pot.

After planting the largest plant, I put thyme plants in two of the “mini-pots”. The rest of the hen and chick plants came last, and I squeezed them in the spaces as best I could. I am a little concerned because they were all sitting in very wet soil in the pots they came in from the store. And I hope they don’t fall out of their “mini-pots” before they take root! Below you can see the finished product, and how it looks with the rest of my garden.

The final result

My little garden – not much to look at but easy care and smells awesome

My silver Spanish lavender is a great bee-attractor right now, so I put a little bee waterer in the pink lavender plant in case the bees get thirsty. The bees living here in the Pacific Northwest are probably not having problems finding water right now, but this will be nice for them if it ever gets hot this summer. The other plants are a French lavender (lavender is my favorite!), a Tuscan Blue rosemary which I just repotted into a much bigger pot (I am anxiously waiting for it to do something spectacular), and a mini rosebush the Girl gave me for Mother’s Day last year. It is going great guns even though it was drowning all winter long! The Dr. Seuss-y plant with the pink pom-pom is a Dreamland Armeria. All the plants like full sun and don’t need a lot of water, and that works great for my little corner.

So, will the succulents survive and thrive? Stay tuned for later reports!

Pink lavender and bee waterer
Pink lavender
French lavender
Silver Spanish lavender
Mini rose
Armeria
Backpacking, hiking, PCT

Hiking Plans

Marnie, Linda, and I had our hike meeting yesterday, and decided on a start date about a month from now. We have looked at the list of places to resupply (get food and supplies) and have tentatively decided that we will probably need to send resupply boxes to each stop before we get to Santiam Pass, from where we will probably go home for a zero day or two and resupply at home. We will just need to plan for things during the hike that depend on where we are when, such as how to get to PCT Days in Cascade Locks the third weekend of August. Now that we have a start date and a resupply schedule, we’ll be packing boxes and making sure we have all the gear we need. Onward!

(Also, how awesome is this mug Marnie got me for my birthday? It has photos of our SoCal PCT hike!)

Planning

Just keep walking!

~Ninja

DIY, Home and Garden

Cleaning A Used Clay Pot

Strawberry pot before cleaning.

As noted in a previous post, I got this nice strawberry pot at an estate sale for $2.00. It was dirty and still 1/2 full of potting soil, and since I don’t want to plant my adorable succulent plants in someone else’s dirt (and bacteria, God forbid!) the Hubs dumped out all the old dirt and I set out to find the best way to clean a used terra cotta pot.

After reading an article and watching a video about cleaning terra cotta pots, I decided that I would start by using an old nylon dish brush and some warm water with Dawn dishwashing detergent to clean the outside and inside of the pot. I also could have used a scrubby sponge to scrub off the green and black spots, but I wasn’t trying to get it looking perfect. I like a little grunge, as they say on HGTV’s Home Town.

Cleaning the pot

To disinfect the pot after cleaning, I filled a bucket with a gallon of water. The video and article I saw both said to mix 1 part bleach to 9 parts water, but I noticed my bottle of concentrated bleach had instructions to use only 1/3 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water (which is 1 part bleach to 48 parts water, I think. Isn’t it? Mathing – sometimes I got it, sometimes I don’t.), so I added the 1/3 cup bleach to my bucket of water. I scrubbed the pot inside and out with the bleach water, being careful to get in all the little planting holes on the sides.

After cleaning and scrubbing with bleach water. Still a nice chippy vintage vibe!

After cleaning and disinfecting the pot and rinsing thoroughly, I am leaving it in the “sun” to let any bleach that might be left on the pot evaporate. I say “sun”, because we are having an atmospheric river such as the state hasn’t seen in 80 years, and we aren’t sure if the sun will actually come out at all this month! The video I watched said that to make sure there is no bleach left in your pot when it’s dry you should sniff it, and if you smell chlorine you should rinse it again and let it sit some more.

So, tomorrow after sniffing my strawberry pot to make sure there is no trace of chlorine left, I will plant my new plants! Now, off to decide which plants to plant where!

DIY, Home and Garden

I Got New Plants!

Marnie was talking about succulent plants a few weeks ago, and I thought it would be nice to have some to add to my little container garden. My idea was that a strawberry pot would work nicely to display some hens and chicks and other drought-tolerant plants. Then I found a strawberry pot at an estate sale for $2. Score!! It’s a little chippy and has patina, but that’s what I like. Not sure if I’ll scrub the patina off or not though.

Marnie was gone on a road trip for a couple of weeks, and since we both wanted to get some succulent plants we planned to go together to The Home Depot to find some when she got back. Yesterday we did that, and after much decision-making I came home with these little guys:

There are 9 spaces in the strawberry pot plus the top space to put plants. I also have two small thyme plants I will add in , since they also like well-drained soil and don’t need a whole lot of water.

I have plans to get the new plants in the pot very soon, so I’ll post photos when I’m done. I’ve always wanted to have a beautiful cottage garden, but since I don’t have much of a green thumb I will be satisfied with my containers of herbs and succulents and my one little rosebush!

Backpacking, Cool Stuff, Fun, Gear, hiking, PCT, Tuffy

It’s The Little Things…

Here is the post I promised about some little things I have now for backpacking. I call them “little”, because they will probably seem tiny and unimportant to many, but it makes me happy to have them πŸ˜€

First, before we left to start the PCT in California I decided it would be nice to have a card that had my name, trail name, phone number, email address, and Garmin InReach message address to give to people I wanted to keep in touch with. Also, I figured a card like that would make a good label for things like trekking poles. Since my trail name is “Ninja”, I had bought the rights to use this ninja girl image on Etsy awhile back and decided it would make the perfect theme for my little cards. I also made some for my friends Marnie and Linda, with their info and an image especially for them. It was great fun making these!

I had seen on the Hilltop Packs website awhile back that they will make you a dry bag out of Dyneema with your own picture or photo on it! And I mean, ever since the personalized t-shirt craze of the early 80’s I have been fascinated by personalizing my gear, ha. I wasn’t happy with my little ditty bag and other stuff sacks that I had used, so I decided to see what the Hilltop Packs bags would look like. I ordered 2 medium-long bags for electronics and medication, and a medium bag to use as a ditty bag (comb, mirror, pen, toothbrush, etc.) I had the ninja girl and another ninja-themed image I got on Etsy, and I sent one for the ditty bag (to be pink) and one for the electronics bag (to be white). For the medication bag (to be black), I sent them a photo of Tuffy, my old kitty, who passed away last year. And they printed the images on both sides! Here are the bags:

Didn’t they turn out amazing?!

THEN, as I was browsing more ninja things on Etsy, I found a matching key fob, but the posting was only for a pattern and not something I could make myself. I asked the seller if she could make it for me, and she did! It came yesterday. Isn’t it perfect?

Goodness, I do love a theme! πŸ˜€

Just keep walking!

~Ninja

Backpacking, Cool Stuff, Fun, Gear, hiking, PCT

New Stuff

TL/DR: I’m getting new gear! <Leaps around house for joy.>

In light of our new plan to hike the PCT in Oregon, I have ordered a new, lighter and less bulky sleeping bag, and a new, lighter and less bulky tent. I expect to receive both of them today, along with a new Dyneema bag for my clothes.

When we were in California on the PCT, everyone noted how heavy and big our packs seemed to be, and while we did send a few pounds back home, our packs were still inordinately (I thought) heavy. I was using the ULA Catalyst pack, which is a 75-liter pack that can carry 40 lbs maximum. I bought this larger pack in anticipation of having to carry a bear canister on the PCT while in the Sierra. While I don’t know how many pounds I had in the pack, especially with food and water, the pack wasn’t comfortable and after about 4 miles would start to feel like it was hanging from my shoulders. I think it was more from the heaviness of the things in the pack than the pack itself, as I have carried my ULA Circuit (68L, max load 35 lbs) on more than one backpacking trip and found it to be very comfortable.

Last year before our summer backpacking I did tons of research and bought a new tent (Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 – 2lbs 3 oz) and a new sleeping bag (Sierra Designs Women’s Cloud 20, a zipperless bag – 2lbs 4 oz). I anticipated using both on the PCT this year. While the tent is awesome (didn’t leak, only got condensation when we camped near a lake) it takes a long time to set up, weighs over 2 lbs., and is bulky. Also, the zippers are hard to open and since it is silicone-impregnated nylon (sil-nylon) it sags when it gets wet and takes awhile to dry. And while the sleeping bag kept me warm, I found that the zipperless design was inconvenient for me to wriggle in and out of, especially in the night when nature called. Plus, it kept losing feathers all over the place. Since it is 800-fill down, it doesn’t pack down as small as I’d like. (Note to those interested: 800-fill down is usually duck down, while 900-fill down is goose down, which packs smaller. Why? I don’t know.)

As many hikers/backpackers do, I like to watch videos on YouTube about other hikers’ gear lists. One of these hikers is Condor, or Tiki Bird Tracy, who is thru-hiking the PCT this year. While watching her 2022 PCT gear vid I noticed that she also has the ULA Circuit pack, but while I struggled to get all my goodies in the pack she could fit hers in with no problem. In the video, she stuffs her sleeping bag, tent, and clothes bag in the bottom of her pack and everything fits with what looks like plenty of room for the rest of her stuff. When we got home from our PCT thru attempt I started researching lighter, less bulky gear and I went back to Tracy’s video and studied her gear, especially her tent and sleeping bag.

Tracy is using a ZPacks Classic sleeping bag, which is fancy and expensive. She is also using the ZPacks Duplex tent, which is even more fancy and more expensive. After more research on tents and sleeping bags, and after watching videos of Tracy on the PCT, I decided to order from ZPacks the Duplex tent (spruce green, it’s a thicker material and more opaque than the blue – 20.5 oz) and the 10F Full Zip sleeping bag with 900 fill power goose down in green – 26.9 oz, because I surmise it will be easier for me to get in and out of. The tent and sleeping bag each come with a dedicated Dyneema dry bag.

Some Pros:
* The Duplex is fancy!
* The Duplex is made of Dyneema, which means it is strong, it doesn’t absorb water and is easy to dry off (There can be a problem with condensation in the inside, but according to my research it isn’t as much of a problem as I thought it would be when I bought the Tiger Wall instead of the Duplex last year.) When using a Dyneema tent, you also don’t have to use a separate groundcloth to protect the bottom of the tent. More weight savings there.
* The Duplex sets up with trekking poles so I won’t have to carry tent poles (now, the reason I didn’t buy it last year is because I didn’t think I wanted a trekking pole tent. What if one of my poles breaks? I have decided that if one if my poles breaks I will use one of Marnie’s poles to set up my tent, har.)
* The Duplex is quick to set up and you don’t have as much worry about getting rain in it since it is a single wall tent and all sets up at once.
* The Duplex rolls up pretty small.
* The Duplex is green instead of orange-y like the Tiger Wall.
* The Duplex has line-loc adjusters on the guylines, which make it simple to pitch.

* The sleeping bag is fancy!
* The sleeping bag is a 10-degree bag, better than the 20-degree rating of my current bag.
* The full zipper on the sleeping bag will make it easy to extricate myself from the bag and get into it, especially in the dark.
* The sleeping bag will pack down smaller than the bag I have.

Some Cons:
* The Duplex is expensive. Although, I did save $50 during the Memorial Day sale.
* The Duplex can get condensation inside, and it can drip on your head or your down sleeping bag. I will bring a “shammy” super-absorbent towel to alleviate this problem.
* The Duplex does not come with tent stakes, so you have to order theirs or supply your own. Since I would be using my MSR Groundhog stakes anyway, this is almost not a con.

* The sleeping bag is expensive.
* The sleeping bag doesn’t have a hood, so it might be hard to keep my pillow on my sleeping pad. I will look for ways to fix this. But since it is six feet long and I am only 5’6″ I should have room to pull it up over my head, so the lack of hood won’t be missed by my ears.
* There is not a sleeping pad sleeve to keep the bag on the pad, like on my Sierra Designs bag. While that is a great feature, it is really difficult to get the sleeve around the pad when you’re sitting down in the tent anyway, and I didn’t want to try wrassling with it outside of the tent and dropping it in the dirt.

In using the new tent, new sleeping bag, and (old) ULA Circuit pack, I will actually be saving about 4 lbs in weight! That may not sound like much, but when you’re carrying it on your back (and your knees, ankles, feet, etc.) it’s a good amount. My base weight (pack weight without food and water) has gone down to around 16 lbs., which, while certainly not ultralight, is acceptable. I am anxiously awaiting my new gear today (hurry up, UPS man!). Unfortunately it is going to rain here until next Tuesday so I won’t set the tent up until after the rains, I want to set it up on dry ground first just in case. I have been blessed to receive a whole lot of work in the last couple of months, which allowed me to pay for the new gear without stressing about it. God is good, all the time!

The moral of the story is, when researching and buying backpacking gear, weight and bulk should be a big part of your consideration.

I also got some fun little things to backpack with. I’ll share those in another post!

Just keep walking!

~Ninja

Backpacking, hiking, PCT

New Plan

Good news!  Next week we will be planning our PCT section hike of Oregon.  The plan is to start sometime in July (hopefully after the snow is melted) and hike the whole state of Oregon.  We’ve hiked a number of miles on the Oregon PCT already, but most of it will be new to us.  Yay! Now to plan our start date and resupply locations. More to come after the planning!

PCT Oregon map from portlandrunning.com

Just keep walking!

~Ninja

Uncategorized

Sad News

Well, sad news. After a few weeks of hiking, Marnie hurt her back and decided to get off trail and, since our friend Linda also got off trail, I had to get off trail too as I don’t want to hike solo. We hope to hop on somewhere down the line when Marnie’s back gets better, but for now we are each at home sort of wondering what to do with ourselves!

(Photo of us at Eagle Rock, an iconic natural rock formation outside of Warner Springs, CA.)