May 31, 2011

Breakfast of Champions

How many times have you heard “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”? It may be the most important but it’s also the most difficult for me. Think breakfast foods: Eggs? No way to cook them. Cereal? Can’t store milk. Instant Carnation Shakes? Those get old fast. I can have bagels (untoasted) with peanut butter, but I’ve got to have that each day for five days or the bagels mold.

Always on the lookout for nonperishable, lightweight, and above all cheap alternatives I have discovered individual oatmeal packets. They come in lots of flavors, can be shoved in a backpack, and could outlast me if I let them. On these warm (muggy, blah) days, I throw a water bottle on the car roof and every morning I have warm if not hot water. The best part? At about $4 for 10 packets, that’s less than 50 cents a meal!

May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Yesterday evening I took a little road trip to Heifer International’s Overlook Farm in Rutland MA. If you’re around central mass (and I mean dead central) you should definitely check them out. They have a camel, they have water buffalo, they have llamas, they have it all. It's open to the public and they offer educational programing to groups. As much as I love the farm, I actually went to see some friends who I don’t get to visit with very often. Some beers, some burgers and a ton of chatter; if you’re reading, thanks for a great evening!

I slept over that the farm (seeing as I brought my home) and this morning headed towards Worcester to spend my Memorial Day afternoon with yet another friend (yes, that’s “friend’s” plural). We watched The King’s Speech (which was great) and ate key lime pie (which was greater). We even visited a couple of nurseries and I preplanned my Tasha Tudor like old lady garden.

All in all, a super productive 24 hours. Hope everyone had a great holiday and got to sit through at least one parade.

May 29, 2011

Making Screens

Yes, it really is finished
 I slept REALLY well last night, waking up only once when I rolled over and whacked my knee on the door. What changed, you might ask? I spent yesterday making bug screens for my car windows.

The whole time I was making these I was thinking that someone with a bit more creative genius (and a sewing machine) could really make them look great. Adapt as necessary.

  • Roll of screening (about $5 at Home Depot
  • 20 pack of small circular magnets ($5 at Walmart)
  • Glue (I got Elmer’s can-stick-a-rock-to-the-wall glue)

  1. Cut a piece of screen to just larger than the window.
  2. Glue magnets round the edges two to three inches apart
  3. Let it dry… and you’re done!
Some cheepo supplies
Tips and Thoughts:
  • Make sure the glue is totally dry before you stick this on your car or you’ll have permanent screening and/or paint loss. 
  • I was going to use magnetic strips but decided that the screen would be harder to fold up and store.

Easy, right? The whole thing cost about $12 and twenty minutes, much better than the $35 screens I was looking at (plus shipping). Yes, when people ask I may tell them my six year old nephew made these, but they are functional and can be removed and stored easily. I have a ton of extra screen, so I’ll probably try to make something prettier when I have some free time. Enjoy my childlike (but totally practical!) art project.

May 28, 2011

Kickin’ It Gypsy Style

Someday, long after I’ve done all the other stuff I want to do, I plan on living in one of these. There are some great sites out there about building wagons and, though it doesn’t look easy, it would be an awesome project. And so much more eye catching than an RV!

I’ve been hearing some chatter out of Europe lately about “gypsy vacations”, where people get a horse and a caravan for a week and travel around. Sounds like a fun time, but I don't know that I'd pay someone to live rustic when I can do that for free.

May 27, 2011

Car Window Screens. Why Not?

Apparently Europe has HUGE flies

What is the state bird of New Hampshire? Anyone? It’s the mosquito and, even though NH normally calls dibsies on this Satan of the skies, I think most of New England could fight them for it. These were the thoughts running through my head this morning, after I killed the areal interlopers and closed my car windows. By the time I woke up again it was hot and humid and I started planning my next project: car window screens.

With all the wet weather lately, I can only see this problem getting worse, so I've been cruising the net. I’ve read about some creative solutions, like magnets and a "window glove", but I'll have to check out Home Depot for inspiration. If anyone has ideas, feel free to share. 

Horay For Friday!!

What a week! To recap: I saw the movie Priest, had tea with a tent dweller, got a bike, got hassled by the cops, returned the bike, watched some bad low budget films, and got hassled by the cops again. Through it all I’ve been working and doing homework for my online class.

So now it’s Friday (payday!), and the start of a three day holiday weekend. Not that I have stuff to do, other than homework. I’ll be sitting at my desk today thinking about lounging on a blanket in the grass with a book and some sort of incognito beverage. 

 So everyone have great day and enjoy Memorial Day weekend!

May 26, 2011

Popo vs Tuckerbag: Round 3

My tame but annoying run-ins with the law have become frequent enough that they deserve mention, but eventually not their own post.

4am, Thursday morning, a knock on the window and I pull the shades aside to find my first (and probably the town’s only) female cop. I think when people knock they are expecting a dirty, middle aged man with a big beard and two teeth. They often look surprised to see a frazzled looking blond.

Copper: “What are you doing out here?”
Me: “Sleeping”
Copper: “How long have you been living in your car?”
Me: “About a month”
Copper: “Can I see your license so I can run it for warrants?”

At this point I’m totally perturbed, rummaging around in the backpack for my wallet and trying not to glare. When she calls in my plate number I can hear the switchboard lady saying “I’ve already run that plate twice, she’s fine.”

Copper: “I haven’t had any complaints about you so I’ll let you sleep here the rest of the night, but technically camping on university grounds is illegal.”
Me: “um, before I got my permit I checked with the town police, parking services, and physical plant, just to make sure I wasn’t breaking any rules. None of them had any reason why I couldn’t stay here”
Copper: “Well, you have a permit, so that’s why I say ‘technically’”

I don’t think I hid my blank stare very well. Is that like saying “technically you’re not allowed to drive, but you have a license, so it’s ok”? Between the birds and my temper, it took me an hour to fall back to sleep.

The situation is annoying but I refuse to move, I’m not breaking any rules! There are a finite number of cops working in this town and maybe I just need to wait it out until I’ve met each of them at four in the morning. I feel like putting a sign on the back window saying “Here’s my license number, run it without waking me up. If you have to wake me up, bring coffee”

May 25, 2011

Shira: The Vampire Samurai

On today’s edition of Crappy Movies: I watch ‘em so you don’t have to, we’re looking at Shira: The Vampire Samurai. You may remember that I was going to watch this over the weekend and I felt that, for all our sakes, I should give a quick review of this Centauri classic. First, the plot:

A half-human, half-vampire female samurai prophesized to birth a new breed of "day walking" vampires attempts to defeat the one villain who will lead his bloodsucking minions in a devastating battle to exterminate the entire human race. Shira is a warrior whose ferocity knows no boundaries, and Kristof is a vampire who knows no mercy. Legend has it that Shira will usher in an entirely new era of vampirism, and era in which these creatures can finally emerge from the darkness to stalk their prey in sunlight. Unfortunately for Shira, the powerful Kristof is ready to force the prophecy to fruition in order to realize his own diabolical drive for power. With the fate of all mankind residing in the power of one skilled female warrior, the only thing left for mortal man to do is pray. (Courtesy of YouTube)

I know what you’re thinking; “can they really cram that much awesomeness into an hour and twenty five minutes?” The answer is no, no they can’t, but not for lack of trying.

Think Blade meets Buffy, but Blade is a very small Asian woman and Giles is Mr. Miyagi’s illiterate son. They even throw in some pole dancing and a body building love interest. Our heroin seems to have some trouble talking around those fangs without spitting, which is especially entertaining during the dramatic scenes, and I kept waiting for her to drool. Combine that with some great no contact punches and a Flava Flave look alike, and you have a classic cheesy fest. So stick that popcorn in the microwave, crack open a Bud Light, and get into your comfy pants; it’s so bad it’s kinda good.

For a sneak peek, check out the Trailer


May 24, 2011

A Spat With Mr. Wal-Mart

I apologize if this comes as a shock to anyone, I didn’t want to be the one to spill the beans. Wal-mart, while they are inexpensive and convenient, does not always supply high quality merchandise. There, I’ve said it. That bike that I picked up on Sunday (like, two days ago)? On Monday I shifted gears going up a hill, the back tire moved over and started rubbing against the frame. I’m riding up this hill, panting, exhausted, thinking “holy cow (or something comparable), I am way more out of shape than I thought!” I am out of shape, but that’s not the point. The point is that I had been riding up a hill with the equivalent of the rear brakes on. A mild heart attack later and I called Wally World to say “hey man, my bike’s busted!” and they said “whoops”. So I brought it in for them to fix, they said “uh, the frames bent" (ps: it’s not bent), they refunded my mulla, and it’s now up to me to reorder the bike and wait another two weeks for it to arrive. When I got “home” I had a satisfaction survey waiting in my inbox. Hmmmm… Sorry Mr. Wal-Mart, I still love you, I just don't like you right now.

May 23, 2011

Return of the Popo

Even my best efforts to stay legal and out of trouble don’t stop the popo from hassling the weird chick in the Jetta. This time it was at 5am instead of 2 or 3, but there were two cops (which was a bit more intimidating). I turned the car around so that the permit was more visible to patrols, but apparently the act of turning my vehicle was “suspicious” and warranted a “wellness check”. 
It was early, I was groggy, and I did something I’ve never done before. When they asked me if I was living in the car, I told them yes. I know! First rule of urban camping: deny everything! My stock answers? “I was drinking and didn’t think I should drive home”, “I was falling asleep and though I should pull over and rest”, and “I got locked out of my apartment.” All three have worked very well in the past, but I told them the truth… Surprisingly they both started covering themselves, fast. They explained what had led them to check, why they were worried, and told me to be careful. They even wished me a pleasant day as they were turning around to leave. Maybe because they are in a college town they’ve seen everything, but I think they both walked away shaking their heads and thinking “crazy kids!”

So, despite the aggravation of being woken from a deep sleep by suspicious flashlight toting cops, it wasn’t too bad.  Hopefully they’ll remember me and not wake me up tomorrow.

By the way, those muscles I discovered yesterday are on strike.

May 22, 2011

So there was this Priest and a bike...

What a day! First, my bike arrived (finally). I don’t have a bike rack on the car, so I stuck it half in the truck and tied it to the back of the front seat. I spent the morning rediscovering muscles I haven’t heard from in ten years.
Dune rip off, but classic awesomeness

When I was totally and completely exhausted, I thought I’d go see a movie (the first showing of the day is always $5). I would have biked downtown, but it looked like it would rain (again) so I chained the bike to a lamp post and headed out. I stopped to have tea with my favorite tent dweller on the way. She still won’t tell me her name, but says the puppies are so big she had to put up a taller barrier to keep them in the tent.

It was a toss up between the new “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Priest” (don’t judge). Priest was on earlier so I saw that. Can someone explain why Kevin Costner gets to have an American accent while playing Robin Hood but Paul Bettany has to hide his beautiful British drawl for an unrealistic apocalypse/vampire film? Lots of action, well filmed, and decent acting, but I’m not sure why they would settle on futuristic vampires over something else. Tremors! Now that was an awesome film. Show me Paul Bettany chasing giant earth worms through a futuristic wasteland and I’ll be the first in line.

Anyway, lots of homework to do. Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend of relative sunshine.

May 21, 2011

Food Storage

There are pros and cons to not have a means of chilling food.  A pro is that every night I get to choose what I want for dinner, not from leftovers in the fridge, but from a slew of grocery stores and restaurants (tonight is salad with kalemata olives). A con is that I can’t buy food when it’s on sale and a part of each day has to be spent picking out meals.

I had this cooler that I’ve been keeping some essentials in (peanut butter, honey, the extra half block of cheese). Today I picked up two ice packs, one to keep in the cooler and one to freeze while I’m at work. That way I can rotate them daily. I also got this hanging basket to keep some grab and go fruit. This way I can get enough for a few days and not worry about where in my car that apple ended up… My biggest problem now will be keeping the car cool enough during the day not to cook my groceries.

May 20, 2011

Friday Night Movie

Youtube has free movies, which is great because I was just starting to run out of Masterpiece Theater reruns. I spent a relaxing Friday evening eating Good & Plenties and watching Horror of the Zombies. Aparently awesomely bad B movies are all they’re willing to give away so catch this:

(if you have dramatic music, press play now)
Two models are stranded in a motor cruiser in the middle of the ocean. It's only meant to be a publicity stunt, a way of stirring up interest in the boat itself; but they soon prove to be in real trouble. They're set upon by a 16th century galleon enshrouded by a fog. They each board the ghost ship, and each one disappears. Soon, the sporting goods magnate who hired the two girls sets out to find them. He is joined by his conniving right-hand man; the head of the modeling agency; a third model who is a lover to one of the missing girls; and a scientist from the weather bureau who is convinced something supernatural is going on. They all end up on the galleon, where they discover its crew are the undead Satan-worshiping Knights Templar.

Can’t beat that plot line with a stick people, I'm trying though; Saturday night is Shira: The Vampire Samurai.

Storing Jewelry On The Road

My Traveling Jewelry Box

Years ago, my sister and I lived in Oregon for a summer. One day she came home with an amethyst necklace that was on sale for "only $80!" Normally she can live on only the bare essentials but everyone has a weak spot, and hers was jewelry. That night she pulled out what we called her "jewelry bowl", a glass bowl with a tangled web of necklaces and earnings. I have no idea if she ever got the thing untangled but we didn't that summer and I vividly remember the frustration six years later.

When I packed up my stuff this time around my solution to jewelry storage was a tackle box from a fishing store. It's about $4 and the blue tabs can be taken out and repositioned depending on the size of the jewelry. The best part is that, unlike a traditional jewelry box, it can be turned upside down and everything stays secure and relatively knot free.

One thing I should mention here: Rita Rudner once said “I don't want something around my neck that's worth more than my head.” When translated into car-living speak this means don’t keep expensive jewelry in your vehicle. This is not the place for Grandpa’s gold pocket watch or great aunt Mary’s engagement ring so, if you can’t bear to lose it, find a friend or a lock box.