Overnight Hiking Trips and Proper Supplies

This past weekend I made my first overnight backpacking trip at a local state park. I’ve been meaning to go for months now, but the stars finally aligned for me and my friends with good weather, an open weekend, and the right supplies.

I will say that it was one of the more taxing endeavors I’ve ever carried out. I underestimated just how much work it takes to hike 10 miles with a 30 pound pack on my back and lots of up and down hills to navigate. By the end, though, I felt extremely accomplished, and I was proud of everyone for having a great time, roughing it for a night, and getting up early the next morning to hike the last half of the trail.

Those sorts of trips are wildly underestimated in terms of the preparation needed. And I say this from a physical perspective and accounting for appropriate gear and things to bring along.

One thing I realized we could’ve used more of was supplies. Be it office or shipping supplies, we could’ve afforded to take some extra cardboard or paper for kindling. In fact, other shipping supplies like tape would’ve also been extremely useful in binding our food packs together for the night. We ended up tossing all of our open food bags and uneaten snacks into a sack, tying that sack to a string and a rock, and tossing the rock over a tree branch to suspend it in the air for the night, out of reach of raccoons and other critters.

But had we had some tape, we could’ve further sealed the bags in order to prevent any scents from escaping. Unfortunately, we did attract the attention of a few raccoons that evening (which impacted my sleep some). But overall, everything worked out quite well.

Going forward, another thing I’ll be keeping in mind is water supplies. We underestimated how much water we would need for camp, and that accounts for cooking and having something to drink with dinner while also having some water for sleeping at night (which I’m often found slugging water in the middle of the night).

So maybe I need to ration my water better while on the trail. Or perhaps we didn’t try hard enough to go out of our way to reach a water source to filter and have along the way. Whatever the case, packing more water from the get go isn’t the best idea considering your pack being weighed down is something you don’t want unless those things are absolutely necessary. And since we could get water out in nature, there’s no reason to carry more than needed.

When You Can’t Make It Home to See Your Parents

I’m often guilty of not seeing my parents as much as I could despite living just two hours away from them. The thing is, if I’m going to make a trip home to see them, I want to be able to stay for at least a night. A two hour trip there and back is absolutely doable in one day, but I just feel like that decreases my time spent with them while also increasing my stress of driving in a single day.

So when it comes to more “minor” holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, I often don’t make it home since 1) I’m usually doing other things with my girlfriend’s family who already live in town and 2) there’s just not enough time in the weekend to dedicate 4 hours driving back home.

Deutschland, Neu-Isenburg, Familie, Windenergie

So, that’s why I like to usually pack up something small in some shipping boxes and send them to my parents for more minor holidays like these. It lets them know I’m still thinking about them while also saving me major time and stress in driving and planning out a full weekend.

The good thing is that my parents never mind and always understand that my schedule is busier than theirs, so they’re always accommodating and happy to see me when they can. The better thing is that I can still give them the time of day they deserve by showing I care and thought of them with a few gifts shipped to their home. They always appreciate anything unexpected like a new shirt I found or a book that made me think of them. It’s cheap and easy for me and pleasant for them without causing any sort of hurt feelings among our relationship.

Recently I’ve found that sending my dad a new hat or a tee shirt I thought he’d like is the best for him. He’s always liking more hats and wearing stuff that he knows I, myself, enjoy wearing (which is funny because I used to want to dress like him and now the roles are reversed).

As for my mom, she’s the reader in the family. So sending along a book or some sort of craft or materials for her wreath shop will make her day instantly. She’s always down to read something new, use something for her wreaths, or make something she hasn’t ever made before.

Ultimately, showing your parents you care is what matters most. It doesn’t have to be something extravagant or expensive. As long as they see you’re thinking about them, even if you can’t make it home, they’ll be quite proud to call you their child.

3 Packaging Supplies You Didn’t Know You Needed

When it comes to being the most prepared you can be for a move or even just for transporting new furniture and decor back into your home, there’s nothing better than having the right shipping supplies available to make transportation of certain materials and items much easier, safer, and efficient.

The thing is, there are a lot of shipping supplies out there that some of you may not be aware of. While moving boxes, bubble wrap, and packing tape may be quite familiar to you, would you be able to name off other products that movers use on a daily basis to make their job easier and more efficient? Probably not.

With that said, check out these three moving supplies to increase your knowledge on the wide variety of supplies out there for your own convenience.

Moving blankets.

These are some of the most handy things out there that have more than one use for your move. More than anything, moving blankets are like large, thick quilts used to protect bigger furniture from rips, tears, scratches, and more. Basically, they’re just cushioning and a material in between to help preserve the nature of your furniture and belongings so that nothing becomes damaged or broken. The last thing you want to happen when moving is add more to the stress of the move.

As another use, though, moving blankets are amazing for transporting heavy pieces of furniture without wheels across flooring that’s prone to scratching. Not only do the blankets protect your floor, they also make it a heck of a lot easier to move things around in tighter spaces.

Padded wrapping paper.

As an alternative to moving blankets, you can use padded wrapping paper instead. Basically, this looks like brown paper bags that have cushioning built in so that it can be wrapped around pieces of furniture to prevent any sort of scratching or tears. While this is more of a temporary, lighter weight material for moves compared to the permanent heavy duty nature of moving blankets, it can be quicker and easier to use in a pinch.

Stretch plastic wrap.

This kind of looks like Saran wrap and is available in different dimensions to fit your needs. They’re great for wrapping drawers so that they don’t come flying open in transit like you’re probably used to. This stuff is pretty great for protecting softer furniture from rips and tears, too. Heck, it prevents your furniture from getting dirty or wet, too.

Music & Tattoos

Last weekend I was in the mood to listen to my record player. So, I started going through some of my vinyl record collection, all housed in old shipping boxes, and I came across one of my favorite albums out there.

For me, being able to really digest an album in its entirety means a lot more than “listening to music” as most people do today. Songs are the moneymakers in today’s music industry, which has unfortunately driven a lot of artists away from the art that is making an entire album. While I may be generalizing some, pop music has taken off and stayed strong through the last few decades simply because those musicians are willing to sacrifice their art for far more money. You can’t even blame them, though, because who wouldn’t want to get paid more?

But some artists aren’t willing to sacrifice their artistic design and their own influence on a record. They know the process, the emotions, the creation, and the experience of it all is far too intertwined to compromise for fame and money. They’re the few who prefer to keep it to how it used to be. They want to make real music.

Sturgill Simpson is one of those artists, and he’s my favorite musician out there because of his take on the music industry. He’s too old school to care about fame and money and big lights. Instead, he forges his path through experimental country music. And if anyone ever fit the bill of against the grain, it’s Sturgill.

So as I listened to his second album on my record player, I got to thinking about life and expression and art, and I realized I finally came across the perfect image and idea for my first tattoo. You see, I’ve long been the guy to say “I want a tattoo, I just never can decide on something once and for all”. But that suddenly changed when I settled on a tattoo idea based off of one of Sturgill’s tracks on his second album.

Such introspection and deep thought (combined with my favorite artist’s classic voice) led me to a better realization of myself and being able to finally be decisive on a topic that I really do need to be absolutely certain about. If I had never dug through my shipping boxes to find a few records I wanted to listen to, I’m not sure I would’ve ever come to the decision that I know what I want for a tattoo now.

Picking Up Your Home Can Pick Up Your Mood

I get pretty stressed when the house is out of order, things are laying around in places they shouldn’t be, and for the most part, everything is just in a state of constant disarray.

Honestly, I’m probably like most people who find these things bothersome and stressful, and by the time you even want to do something about it, it’s too big to tackle all at once (which only adds to the stress even more).

The problem with handling this sort of recurring situation is getting to the root of it all: and that’s organization.

But organization is an intangible sort of thing, you know. It’s hard to nail down what it means to be organized and how to instill such a “skill” in yourself. The good thing is that a lot of it starts with the type of storage and supplies you have around your home. The more tools and containers you have to be organized, the more likely you are to be successful at keeping everything cleanly and in order.

So, that’s where I started recently with my girlfriend. We got a few containers meant for storage purposes and some other basic shipping supplies like packing tape and sharpies so that we could mark on the containers to show what goes where. The good thing about such tape, too, is that it can easily be peeled off and replaced if you happen to dedicate that container to other items.

Since we’ve taken the time to actually get things in order and have dedicated spaces for an assortment of items, things have been so amazing around our home. Nothing is ever scattered out and about anymore. And we’re so, so much better about keeping things picked up and in their right spots. It’s amazing how a few containers, some shipping supplies, and a will to do it all can completely transform the way you keep your home in order.

And even better than all of that is how happy and relaxed we are in our home as of late. The amount of stress that can build up within you when you’re surrounding by a state of disarray is criminally underrated. Only after getting everything cleaned up and constantly spotless did I realize how much less stressed I felt each evening after coming home from work. There’s no other way to put it than saying I’m just genuinely happier and healthier (mentally, especially) because of the changes we’ve made.

What Is “Too Many” Boxes?

I grew up in a household absolutely stocked with cardboard shipping boxes. While that may bring to mind a house stuffed full of different sizes and shapes of boxes in every room, that’s not exactly the case.

For a little bit of context, both of my parents have worked for the post office all of their lives. So, it’s really no surprise that we always had a gajillion cardboard boxes on hand for any given scenario.

Heck, Christmas time was always super easy considering there was always another box to use for wrapping gifts in. I never had to seek out bags or other containers to wrap any gifts in. I’d just go to the back room, grab a handful of boxes that fit the various items I wanted to wrap, and went to work. It was always super convenient around the holidays that we had so many boxes.

The funny thing, though, is that we never really got much use out of these abundant shipping boxes for the rest of the year. I mean, if we ever actually had to ship something, I’d know where to look for a box that fit whatever it was I’d be sending. But in regards to other uses for boxes, we didn’t find many.

It comes as no surprise that we’d have such an overabundance of cardboard boxes in our home, though. Considering that my parents basically lived at the post office, they happened to bring home a lot from time to time to keep our stash up to date and fully stocked.

When I look back on all the boxes we had, I can’t help but feel like we could’ve made more use of them throughout the year. Whether we wanted to do crafts, use them for practical things like kindling or storage, or even recycle half of the stock of boxes since we never used even that many, I feel as if we had far too many boxes.

In reality, though, my mind is probably imagining far more boxes than we actually had, especially because my most vivid memories of that back room were from my childhood. And when you’re a kid, everything is much bigger and grandiose than when you’re an adult and have a greater sense of perspective. Overall, the impressive collection of boxes never cost my family a penny, so I suppose that’s why we always had an “overstock” of boxes. Why not have more than you need if it’s not costing you anything, right?

Your Hobbies Should Make You Happy

For the past half year or so, I’ve been talking about how great it would be to have live plants in our home. I mention it to my family on phone calls home to check in. I mention it to friends in random conversation. I’ve mentioned it to my girlfriend a heck of a lot.

But I finally found an excuse to get a handful of houseplants this past month with my girlfriend’s birthday coming and going, and we’re proud parents of about 6 different succulents and two other houseplants.

It was actually quite a fun process to go pick them out and find the pots we thought would fit the aesthetic of our home. While buying plants at a local shop and not a department store likely cost us more than it could have, we felt better knowing the plants were taken care of and probably healthier in general.

Repotting when we got home, however, was slightly more of a task than we realized considering we haven’t done such a thing ever, so we wanted to make sure we had the right soil, were handling our plants and their roots with care, and knew what pots were perfect for which plants.

One thing we were lacking, though, was gardening supplies. Luckily, we had a few different shipping supplies that sufficed, such as a boxcutter to churn up the soil and a few cardboard boxes to put excess soil in.

The process was more fun than I would’ve imagined, simply because it felt like we were really taking care of the plants as living beings, not just as “decor” to our home. Sometimes, it got tricky to plant some of the succulents since they had spines that would prick my hands, so nestling one of the chunkier guys into a small pot and putting new soil in with it was extremely tough. Again, we were lucky to have some of those shipping supplies handy, though.

But so far, it’s all paid off. We get compliments on our succulent table. We enjoy having the blinds open far more often so that they can get sunlight. We feel happier to have them around. And heck, they’re great for giving us a sense of responsibility while also having us respect the life around us outside of each other and our dog.

It’s just been one of the best decisions and I feel we’re only bound to get more here in the next few months while summer starts to pick up.

Gifting in Boxes or Bags?

With spring finally here and Easter around the corner, gift giving is in session. It’s only been a few months since Christmas was here, but a few months is all it takes in the gift-happy culture of the US.

When it comes to giving gifts, though, I prefer to wrap mine in boxes. Any old shipping boxes usually do for whatever I’m giving away. I just think that a gift in a box wrapped up shows a lot more effort went into the gift than just placing something in a bag, stuffing some tissue paper in on top of the item, and calling it a day.

But that’s to each their own, I suppose. While I like to have my recipient think there was a lot of thought that went into the gift, not everyone else does. And I can’t fault others for being more efficient with their time and gift giving even if it does make their recipient think of the gift as less special than a wrapped box.

My gifting habits are a main reason as to why I do have a lot of old shipping boxes and other cardboard laying around my home, though. I’m always using them for something with how versatile they are.

It’s funny to see what people think when I give them Easter gifts all wrapped up in the style of a birthday or Christmas present, though. People always expect baskets or bags around this time of year, but a fully wrapped box just seems to say a lot more in my opinion. It stands out a lot more, too.

I’d say my favorite part of wrapping gifts in boxes is honestly the type of paper I wrap it with. Whether it’s a specific pattern tailored to the occasion or just plain, thick brown paper (which is actually pretty classy, I must say), it’s fun to change it all up and keeps me, the gifter, interested and excited in the whole process.

That’s not even to say how many compliments I usually receive on my wrapping and the paper I chose. I’m always getting asked where I got my paper or how I wrapped my gift, and it’s honestly kinda nice to have that recognition for my efforts.

Overall, though, I do it for the recipient. I get joy in the whole process because I know it’ll bring joy to whomever I’m gifting the item to. If you can’t get joy out of that, what’s the point in gifting someone a thing you don’t truly care to spend money on? If that’s how you approach it, don’t bother giving them anything at all.

Odds and Ends for Your Hobbies

You know that hobbies can be quite niche, ranging from things like collecting rare spirits to raising a garden inside your house. People enjoy different things for different reasons, and almost always there’s certain gear that just cannot be substituted for extremely in depth hobbies like painting needing palettes and oil paints or even baking requiring specific pans and ingredients.

But for most hobbies, there are a few things that can be substituted, and this usually allows you to have an array of supplies that can span across multiple hobbies. When versatility is allowed, it’s best to make the most of it so that you can save money, save space, and ultimately still get the job done without losing out on whatever supplies you needed in the first place.

One of my favorite hobbies as of late is camping. While I enjoy hiking and carrying my pack with me to set up camp somewhere in the wilderness, I also don’t ever shy away from trips with friends that involve packing up the truck and getting on the road to the nearest campgrounds for a weekend of fun.

Sometimes, though, we’re in need of basic supplies that we always end up forgetting. So instead of planning last minute what we need, I like to keep these common shipping supplies in my truck to be accessible whenever we actually need them.

Scissors.

Scissors may perhaps be the most useful thing to have when you’re out camping and most people don’t realize how useful they really are. From cutting twine to opening foods, you can’t go wrong have a pair of heavy duty scissors available on your camping trips. Heck, they’re even good for cutting, cleaning, and preparing tougher meat.

Tape.

While tape doesn’t work so well on anything that’s dirty or wet, it can still do well patching any holes you have in your tent, binding together broken stakes, and even sealing together food packages that you don’t want being broken into by raccoons. Out of all the shipping supplies on this list, tape is probably the most versatile at repairing.

Cardboard boxes.

You can use them for kindling, for storage, or even as makeshift “pads” for the hard ground you’ll be sleeping on. The best part is that you can break them down to save space when traveling with them so that they’re not all boxy and in the way while driving.

There Really Is No Place Like Home

This past weekend I had quite the blast from the past. My hometown hosts an annual alumni basketball tournament for fundraising, and so many people from the area come back to get a little competitive with other classes and teams to see who’s still got it and who’s the most out of shape.

While I definitely fall into that latter category, I find the camaraderie and sportsmanship super fun to come back to. The amount of physical exertion I subject my body to may be another story, but it’s honestly such a good time to make a trip back home for the weekend and catch up with old classmates, teammates, and buddies.

Breaking out an old pair of basketball shoes in some random shipping boxes at home shows how much I play regularly, so it really comes as no surprise that my body is protesting quite a bit now that the weekend is concluded.

I think the most fun part of it all, though, isn’t the competitiveness and playing aspect itself. It’s hanging out with everyone after the games are over on a Saturday night. We ended up going to a small local bar that likely doesn’t see too many patrons on any given night, but that evening it was quite packed with all sorts of friends, classmates, parents, and other family members. Just catching up with everyone and enjoying the moment meant a lot to me.

I was actually talking about this with my girlfriend while we were there. We’re huge on experiencing different cultures and really observing how different things can be from one place to another, and that night we saw it happening before us in a small midwestern bar that was pretty much filled with people who all went to the same high school at one point in their lives. There’s nothing else like the silliness and weird conversations and music that went on in that bar this past Saturday, and that, to me, is one of the coolest reasons to visit my hometown from time to time.

So now that my few pairs of basketball shoes are back in their old shipping boxes, it doesn’t mean that that part of me is also put away in storage. Rather, I feel quite revitalized and happy to know that I come from a community full of unique and fun people that can all claim they were from my hometown.