faith journeys

Our co-priests are on sabbatical (May 14-Sep 3) and our parish is having all sorts of fun, educational, and just plain cool forums and presentations. Thankfully most of them do not involve “stuff” that I would have to bring home.

This project did. However, it has a lot of meaning wrapped up in one simple stained glass cross.  It’s small enough to tuck into any corner of a suitcase. Every time I look at it hanging in my window I am reminded of the lessons I am learning during this journey with my beloved parish.

Essentials, closet

Closet:  Warm and Cool

The pictures that follow are definitely my Goal B list.  I tried seeing how much of it would fit in a large duffel bag.  Most of it fit with the exception of the winter storm gear (which is not shown in these pictures) and some of the shoes.  That formed my foundation for my Goal A list which follows the pictures.

Items with strike-through are at home only because of stains & wear.


hanging warm; long pants stay in cool

  1. tan 3/4 sleeve shirt
  2. blue knit shirt
  3. blue graphic T
  4. black and white striped  elbow length sleeve
  5. teal lace t-shirt
  6. white lace t-shirt
  7. denim capris
  8. brown capris
  9. heather slacks **stays in cool rotation
  10. navy slacks **stays in cool rotation
  11. jeans **stays in cool rotation
  12. Not shown: scarf, accessory (my favorite!)

Folded warm

  1. shorts (x2 at home wear)
  2. tank tops (x3 at home, PJ and workout)
  3. slim fitting exercise shorts (x3 at home, PJ and workout)
  4. socks (x4), underwear (x6), bras (x3)
  5. swimsuit
  6. denim jacket
  7. rain jacket
  8. biking jersey (I wear this when I walk)
  9. cardigan, blue
  10. cardigan, red
  11. lace cardigan, brown
  12. Not shown: t-shirts (x3, at home only)

warm shoes

  1. sandals, brown merrell
  2. sandals, brown clark
  3. flats, nude.
  4. trainers
  5. Not shown: flats, blue

folded cool (long sleeve t-shirts get hung up)

  1. black slacks
  2. jeans
  3. gray slacks (at home only, bleach spots on legs)
  4. down coat, navy
  5. down vest, reflective yellow
  6. cardigan: heavy, rust
  7. tunic sweater: green
  8. sweater: v-neck, sage
  9. cardigan: long, gray
  10. cardigan: multi-colored
  11. flannel shirt
  12. sweater: light, brown
  13. long underwear: at home, PJ and layering
  14. wool socks (x7)
  15. long-sleeve t-shirt: cream x2
  16. long-sleeve t-shirt: navy
  17. long-sleeve t-shirt: green
  18. long-sleeve turtleneck: gray
  19. long-sleeve turtleneck: cream
  20. long-sleeve turtleneck: orange
  21. Not shown: scarf, hat, and gloves
  22. Not shown: heavy winter storm coat

shoes: cool (add flats and trainers)

  1. walkers: brown
  2. ankle boots: black
  3. Ugg style boots (at home only)
  4. Not shown: snow boots


Goal A list would probably look like:

  1. t-shirts x 5
  2. long sleeve t-shirts x 5
  3. cardigans x 3
  4. sweater x 2
  5. capri x2
  6. slacks x2
  7. jeans x2
  8. swimsuit
  9. rain jacket
  10. biking shirt
  11. underwear, bras, socks (both sport and wool)
  12. pjs x 2 = tank tops, shorts, and long underwear bottoms
  13. puffer coat + scarf, hat, gloves
  14. Shoes: nude flats, navy flats, trainers, both sandals
  15. and my favorite scarf

Goal A — 33 + 34 = 67

Goal B — 44 + 51 = 95


Essentials, books & stuff

Books and Stuff:


Books and Stuff pretty much describes my bedroom.  I’ve pretty much got my entire bedroom down to a Goal B state.  I have to say, the more I downsize, the more peaceful and tranquil I find the house.

Again, Goal A is first and Goal B is below the <><><>

  1. Sleeping bag
  2. RED FILE:  end of life decisions
  3. Green folder (mini) is my “command center” where I keep all sorts of things I need to remember.
  4. Bible + Book of Common Prayer
  5. small flashlight
  6. solar lantern

So 27 + 6 = 33

Here’s where my system breaks down a little bit.  I have all those books on Kindle and in a pinch could leave them behind. But, I don’t want to.  So if we go Goal A I’m thinking these will be mailed or I’ll pay for an additional bag just for my books.  I’m not counting them yet . . because I haven’t really decided and it will likely be a “gut call” when the time comes.


  1. Harry Potter 1-7
  2. Crystal Cave 1-3
  3. Swahili
  4. The Road Back to You
  5. CNA Edge 1
  6. CNA Edge 2
  7. Missing: Christ of the Celts
  8. Missing: Listening to the Heartbeat of God
  9. Yoga Brick + yoga strap
  10. missing from picture: Bed + bedding set
  11. missing from picture: night table (matches cabinet my dad made)
  12. bookcase in the picture

32 + 12 = 44

The shoes just sit there so they are easy to find, put on, and exercise.

Essentials, personal

Personal Choices:


Last post I shared my bathroom essentials (Items 1-12).  This time, it is all about my personal choices. These items were chosen with quite a lot of deliberation and a little bit of agony. The first list will be Goal A, after the  <><><>< will be Goal B additions.

  1. glasses + case
  2. cotton blanket
  3. candlestick + candle
  4. small wooden bowl (holds my jewelry when I’m not wearing it)
  5. Green everyday purse (includes: wallet, lip balm, sunglasses, reading glasses, pen + refillable cartridges, pocket knife)
  6. small ASP (expandable baton)
  7. 12 oz Keep Cup
  8. Pouch with solar charger, ear buds, and all charging cables (Kindle, iPhone)
  9. Cafe Bag (messenger bag)
  10. Kindle Paperwhite
  11. ear phones
  12. bandana (2)
  13. medium ASP
  14. USB fan (also works with solar charger, which is a God-send!)
  15. Manduka Pro-Lite yoga mat with carry strap
  16. fashionABLE tote (my “briefcase”)

So 12 + 16 = 28 items so far // make that 12 + 15 = 27

Just ignore my envelopes, that is my bill paying and budget system.


  1.  rock
  2. cabinet my dad made
  3. small lamp

So 14 + 18 = 32



Essentials, bathroom

The Bathroom


When we made a decision to journey we knew we were going to have to cull our possessions to Goal A (Fitting Life in a Suitcase) or to Goal B (the smallest U Haul available).  As previous posts have shown, we’ve downsized a tremendous amount in a short time.  We still aren’t quite there yet, but it wouldn’t take much —  mainly offloading outdoor farm/garden/lawn equipment.

I’m finding it very helpful to think in terms of a larger duffel bag, my carry-on, and a personal item when deciding if I should keep something.  It really helps you sort through your priorities.

Along those lines, I want to share my “essentials.”  These are things I can’t imagine living without and will find a way to fit into a suitcase (Goal A).  These all, except the bath towel, fit into my red toiletries bag.

Here’s my bathroom list:

  1. Consumables:  salt stone, baby aspirin, contact solution, Akamai 3-in-1 soap, mascara, deodorant, Akamai Skin Fuel, tinted lip balm, Akamai toothpaste.
  2. Harry razor & blades
  3. comb
  4. small pot for keeping things upright
  5. lid + chopsticks for keeping soap dry
  6. tweezers
  7. nail clippers
  8. toothbrush
  9. not in cabinet: wash cloth
  10. not in cabinet: Turkish hand towel
  11. not in cabinet: Turkish bath towel
  12. not in cabinet: red toiletries bag


Would not make the cut for Goal A, but probably would for Goal B:

  1.  Brush
  2.  Cup to hold toothbrush


Akamai, a review


“We believe clean and healthy skin, hair and teeth can be achieved with far fewer products, chemicals and complexity.  We’ve taken a radically simplified, back to basics, truly natural approach.” — Akamai

I was introduced to Akamai on a Simple Living group. I try to keep my “upkeep” pretty simple, and I’ve been trying to use all-natural products for several years.  My main problem has been trying to gauge when a product is nearly finished so I can order more without running out or having too much sitting around my cabinet. So when I was told about this subscription service, set up your account and then a new box arrives every 2 months, which is just about the exact moment my current stock runs out, I was super excited.

Each shipment can be tailored to your needs, but the “Basic” includes: 2 3-in-1 Bars, 1 toothpaste, and 1 Skin Fuel.

“We believe in the power of nature in its pure, whole form.  You won’t find any toxic chemicals, things you can’t pronounce, or fancy chemistry, just whole natural products.” — Akamai

  • Powerfully effective
  • Truly natural
  • Biodegradable
  • Cruelty-free
  • Vegan
  • Paleo
  • Gluten-free
  • Non-GMO
  • sustainably sourced
  • Pesticide free
  • Not chemically processed
  • Many ingredients are certified organic

How does it work?

  • Create an account
  • Choose your kit (I like the Basics kit)
  • Every 2 months, you’ll get a new shipment
  • Shipments come USPS with very little extra packaging
  • 100% satisfaction guaranteed

But, How does it work?

  • Toothpaste:  put a pea size amount on your wet brush and just go to town like normal. It won’t foam, so don’t expect it to.  The clay combined with the scrubbing is what actually cleans your teeth. If you’re using commercial toothpaste don’t expect to LOVE this immediately.  Give it a couple of weeks and you’ll come to enjoy and appreciate a new clean sensation.
  • 3-in-1 Bar as shampoo:  Expect some adjustment time if you are using conventional shampoos.  The adjustment can take a week or two.  You may feel like your hair is waxy, heavy, or just plain weird.  Be patient. I like to brush the bar over my head a few times, then lather up, scrub with my finger tips, and rinse really well.  While transitioning add 1 TB ACV to 8 oz warm water and do a rinse with that, then rinse with cool water.  Don’t worry the smell will fade as your hair dries.  I do the ACV rinses each Sunday just to keep my hair in tip-top shape.
  • 3-in-1 Bar as soap:  Honestly, I just use the lather from my hair to wash my face and then all the “Stinky Parts”.  It works really well and my skin doesn’t get dry like it used to (even using other natural products)
  • Skin Fuel:  OH my Gosh!  I cannot say enough good things about this product.  For several years I have used Argan Oil with essential oils added in at night + Oil of Olay face cream with SPF during the day.  My skin has felt great and looked great.  But I still had the red patches on my cheeks from an auto-immune disorder.  I’ve been using Skin Fuel alone for 6 weeks and even the red cheeks are gone.  Skin tone is better too.  For SPF, I use a hat, sunglasses, and limit my exposure to short trips outside during the time when the UV Index is above 4.  So far, no tanning, no burning, and no freckling. . . so I take that as a good sign. If I was going to be outside for several hours or swimming, I’d look for a product to use for just those occasions.

Packing Essentials

Now that I’ve settled on which bag to keep, the purple from last week, it is time to think about all the other things I carry when traveling.  I didn’t list everything when I was trying out the bags, although everything fit in the bag and purse I normally carry.  I thought today would be a good day to write out my list of essentials that are non-clothing.


Green Side Effect —

  • This green pouch is a Side Effect by Tom Bihn, it is my normal everyday purse.
  • This is the only bag I open once seated on a plane.  Until seated, it is stuffed into the sling backpack
  • slim wallet (ID and money)
  • ear buds
  • iPhone
  • lip balm
  • Kindle Paperwhite
  • reading glasses, slim
  • bandana
  • snack:  apple, nutrition bar, or trail mix

Sling backpack —

  • green bag stuffed in until seated, so this is my personal item
  • solar charger and iPhone cable
  • iPhone stand
  • Kindle cable
  • 3-1-1 bag (Dr Bronner’s, antiseptic wipes, skin fuel, and toothpaste) — gets tucked into my red organizer/toiletry kit once through security and at the gate)
  • insulated Klean Kanteen
  • passport sized notebook and pen
  • sunglasses

Organizer/Toiletry Kit goes in main body of carry-on

  • contact case, contact solution (travel size)
  • toothbrush, tongue scraper
  • comb, razor, mascara
  • Dr Bronner’s soap, sink stopper, and clothes line
  • deodorant
  • Akamai soap/shampoo, skin fuel, and toothpaste (REVIEW coming soon)
  • glasses
  • very small foldable shopping tote (size of a small apple)

—–> Coming soon: minimalistic toiletries and an Akamai review



Trying out Luggage, 3


LL Bean Carryall Rolling Underseat Bag
16 x 14 x 9 (24 L)

This bag/suitcase is only a tiny bit bigger than the small duffle from last week, but it is much easier to pack. I like that it rolls and therefore keeps the weight off my back and shoulders.

I filled it up and pulled it all over the place. It’s quiet, pulls nicely, and I didn’t have any trouble with the handle collapsing.

A couple of things keep it from being a perfect bag:  the gussets at the bottom of the front flap and the side pockets. The gussets are great if you plan to open the bag mid-flight as they keep the front flap up almost half-way. That makes for some tough packing moments though. I cut mine off and found my packing time cut nearly in half. I use my purse to hold everything I need mid-flight. The side pockets are nice, but if you stuff too much in there the bag begins to bulge.  Too much bulge will make it nearly impossible to fit it under the seat.

What I fit into the bag: (Cool/Warm weather)  :: A lot of things in my purse would also fit in this bag. I just like having them separate.

LL Bean fitness dress x3
undershort x3
cardigan (light) x2
shoes: flats
shoes: sport sandals
UV hat
LL Bean perfect pant
tshirt x3
socks x3
underwear x5
bra x2
Turkish towel
LL Bean small organizer/toiletry bag
3-1-1 bag


I also had a purse with:
iPhone, charger, stand
solar battery pack
kindle paperwhite
Klean Kanteen insulated bottle
Snack: apple slices and nutrition bar
normal purse stuff


Trying out Luggage, 2

LL Bean Duffle, small

This bag is a true carry on size.  It could easily fit under the seat (along with a purse) or in the overhead bin.  While this bag seems much smaller than the medium bag, I was amazed when the exact same packing list almost fit in this bag.  The only things that didn’t fit were the Turkish Towel and either one sweater or one pair of pants. The towel could be squeezed into my purse though.

What I fit into the bag: (Cool/Warm weather)

LL Bean fitness dress x3
undershort x3
cardigan (light)
shoes: flats
shoes: sport sandals
UV hat
LL Bean perfect pant/capri x2
tshirt x3
socks x3
underwear x5
bra x2
LL Bean small organizer/toiletry bag
3-1-1 bag
I also had a purse with:

IPhone, charger, stand
solar battery pack
kindle  paperwhite
Klean Kanteen insulated bottle
Snack: apple slices and nutrition bar
normal purse stuff

Wearing: LL Bean perfect pant Capri, t-shirt, cardigan, and trainers

Trying out Luggage, 1

LL Bean, medium rolling duffle

This bag is technically too big to be a carry-on which is such a shame. Although it is less than 45 inches, it won’t fit in the 21x14x9 guidelines. Hopefully LL Bean will trim a few inches off and they’d have a great bag.

What I fit into the bag: (Cool/warm weather)

  • LL Bean fitness dress x3
  • undershort x3
  • cardigan (light) x3
  • shoes: flats
  • shoes: sport sandals
  • UV hat
  • swimsuit
  • pjs x2
  • LL Bean perfect pant x2
  • tshirt x3
  • socks x3
  • underwear x5
  • bra x2
  • Turkish towel
  • LL Bean small organizer/toiletry bag
  • 3-1-1 bag

I also had a purse with

  • IPhone, charger, stand
  • solar battery pack
  • kindle paperwhite
  • Klean Kanteen insulated bottle
  •  Snack: apple slices and nutrition bar
  • normal purse stuff