Currently living/working in: We spent the first part of the month holed up in our cabin in Healy, Alaska, juggling writing deadlines. Then we flew to the East Coast for 3 Leave No Trace cleanup events (Jacksonville 11/17, Philadelphia 11/23 and NYC—specifically Queens—11/29) as part of the REI Opt Outside / Opt to Act campaign. Short, but worthwhile, contract! And all the events went smoothly.
Current mood: Since Justin & I handle the holiday gift guides for Backpacker, and are gear category managers for Backpacker’s Spring Gear Guide, Oct. 15-Dec. 1 is frenzied with deadlines. I’m grateful for the work (#FreelanceFeastOrFamine), but I’m happy to be on the other side of the madness.
Currently not excited about: With that being said, our Spring Gear Guides are in edit phase. The red marks are blinding.
Currently proud of: The SIX holiday guides with 90 items we put together for Backpacker!! We both feel really good about the way they turned out. Check out the gift guides below.
***And in case you are wondering more details about these content projects, Justin & I work as a team on the gift guides because it is way more than just writing. Justin preloads everything. In fact, I like to think his part is the hardest. We pick out potential products together, but he communicates with all the PR reps for samples/info, narrows down the products, places products into coverage categories while considering availability and timing, collects images for the chosen products, checks links, prices, and so much more I’m probably forgetting. Those who know Justin well would not historically equate him as a writer. That’s where I come in. With everything primed, I do the easy part. In fairness, Justin wants to and tries to write, but then I just change everything (CONTROL FREAK RIGHT HERE). We certainly have different styles (OVERACHIEVER RIGHT HERE), but this is why we work well together. I could never handle the behind-the-scenes logistics like he does, and let’s be honest and boastful: writing is the one thing I do better than Justin.
Currently thankful for: Our Leave No Trace job once again afforded the opportunity to visit while on the road!! This time along the East Coast. We actually have A LOT of family and friends along the East Coast, so we always have to pick and choose, and usually cram the visits in between the work route. (This is my way of apologizing for not seeing everyone).
Currently worried about: We have this habit of buying things, then abandoning them. We left our house in Danville, VA, empty a few times over the years and enjoyed a laundry list of problems (break-ins, copper pipes stolen, frozen burst pipes). We closed up our dry cabin in Healy, AK, and while it does not have running water, it is Alaska, and there is a steep learning curve, especially for winter. I keep having nightmares that we will return and find icicles hanging from the ceilings. Or that we left items that will explode from the frigid cold. Not as worried about break-ins as we were in Danville, unless they are done by animals.
Currently amazed by: Speaking of our former home in VA, we sold it to the City of Danville in the summer of 2015. They FINALLY did something. Not much, but it was wild to see our former home with a new paint job. The basement still has its lovely mold problem and despite that, the city is selling it for DOUBLE the price they paid us for it. No regrets on selling it, for sure. Jefferson Ave looked very much the same to us—more dilapidated homes than nice ones.
Current guilty pleasure: NJ pizza. Justin went dairy free in 2016. Once we realized dairy is an inflammatory food, we changed our menus—a big change from our 3 meals a day which included some sort of dairy. While he certainly has dairy (butter mainly) in meals here and there and has survived the repercussions, he has stayed far away from cheese and milk as much as possible. But he finally felt ready to indulge in NJ pizza, with the help of some digestive pills. It can’t be a regular occurrence, but there were fewer bathroom trips than we anticipated and I’m happy he can enjoy after all these years of sacrifice.
Currently excited about: Our contract with LNT finishes this week, and December is a slower time for writing projects, so I’m going to spend some extended time with my mom in NJ through the holidays. Justin is making a quick jaunt to Denver, then returning here. We do like this component of our life; the ebb and flow flexibility means extended visiting with friends & family.
Currently regretting: I’m not sure how many times I can complain about our storage unit in Virginia. But it’s my blog & I’ll do what I want to! We visited our storage unit in Danville and as predicted, it was completely overwhelming for me. A classic case of sentimental attachments and memories flooding back. And we have some really nice stuff that is just wasting away in storage! But also, it was like peeking into someone else’s life. I was like, WHO WAS THAT HOARDER THAT HAS 100s OF KITCHEN TOOLS? I am certainly not a complete minimalist, but I definitely am more mindful of my consumerism and have made a 180 switch from Patrice circa 2015, or better yet, 2011. We only had a few hours to spend at the storage unit, but did get rid of 3 big boxes of “stuff.” There’s so much more to go through and I predict we will die with this storage unit full to the top …
Current confession: I feel like I’ve been on a dietary anarchy these last 2 weeks on the road. We were cooking up a storm while in our cabin in Alaska, and that was lovely. Then we went on a road trip up the East Coast without any camping cookware. Plus, we were visiting with a number of friends/family. It’s been inevitable to be eating out a lot! Gotta reign it all back in …
Currently reading: I read TWO books at the cabin in the beginning of the month (Justin read one). Women Who Hike: Walking With America’s Most Inspiring Adventurers by a colleague and friend, Heather Balogh Rochfort. Heather tells the story of 20 female adventurers whose profiles have stories to tell. Always nice to learn more about the women I admire!
I also read Chasing Denali: The Sourdoughs, Cheechakos and Frauds Behind the Most Unbelievable Feat in Mountaineering by Johnathan Waterman. I was pretty displeased! It dissects the history behind the first climbers on Denali. Although it was interesting to read about the many teams that made non-successful attempts using wooden hatchets and homemade crampons wearing canvas clothing in the early 1900s, the storytelling was just a style I couldn’t get behind. It was a quick read nonetheless.
Currently watching on Netflix: While we were at the cabin, we wanted a quick series to plow through and arbitrarily chose American Horror Story: Hotel. We’ve watched a few of the AHS series back in the day. My dad always recommended them; some were good, some weren’t so good. Hotel was excellent!!! Really good actors/actresses and the plot followed through to the end.
Currently asking a favor: I’m posting this down at the bottom because I am NOT good at self-promoting. But Justin found this contest and wants to enter me to win “Best Blogger” and “Best Instagrammer” in the Rockies … so if you have a few minutes and want to nominate me, go to this link and choose “People,” then fill in my name & www.wanderinglavignes.com for blog and my name and @patricejustin for Instagram. Thanks!