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Originally published Friday, April 5, 2013 at 10:00 AM

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Life is a journey, so pack well, says the Domestic Goddess

Tom Bihn travel bags, an urn for ashes from architect Tom Kundig and a birdhouse of high design that's a snap to assemble.

Pacific NW associate editor

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SOONER OR LATER we will all be movin' on; to the next city, country, life, the great beyond. What words of wisdom do we have to take with us?

How about these: From Mr. George Carlin: "So what does it mean to preboard? Do you get on before you get on?"

And Mr. Albert Gore: "Airplane travel is nature's way of making you look like your passport photo."

Travelin' on.

All my bags are packed . . .

Tom Bihn is mad for bags. Outdoor gear in general, in fact. "I wanted all that cool stuff you see in the catalogs," says Bihn, who grew up in the Santa Cruz, Calif., area. "It was either get a paper route or learn how and make it myself. I started when I was 10, 12 years old — making sleeping bags, tents, down jackets."

And today we all benefit from Bihn's 40-year obsession. Tom Bihn bags, made right here at HQ in Sodo. Today we look at a mere two products: Smart Alec and Packing Cube Backpack.

Alec, $160, is a modular backpack system: Customize with interior and exterior pockets; 13 webbing loops on the front and a removable, reflective bungee for securing rain jacket, umbrella, yoga mat or bike helmet. Out at night? Add a Glowire kit.

Packing Cube Backpack, $40, is twofer for the Tri-Star or Western Flyer bags. Once unpacked, Cube is also a backpack with two compartments for lighter loads: A light jacket, wallet, lunch, water bottle, map. Off you go.

As the TB folks put it: "We don't settle for less than the best: If there's a better fabric, a better zipper, a better anything out there, we'll find it." Loads more to know: www.tombihn.com. Check website for retail store hours; 4750A Ohio Ave. S., Seattle.

Taking the final exit

Make it a stylish jaunt into the afterlife in one of these: a funerary urn designed by Seattle architect Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects. The urn, sold by Lundgren Monuments, offers an orbital send-off in 14 pounds of blackened steel 8 inches wide ($3,300; prefer bronze? $3,850), like a cannonball, but deliberately a little off-center. The Final Turn.

Urn unscrews to reveal a remains compartment on one side and a place for small mementos on the other. The wide lip of the half sphere offers an opportunity to engrave the departed's name, letting folks know that this is no mere piece of modern sculpture.

Sayeth Tom: "While the sphere implies perfection and eternity, the offset nature of the urn is inspired by the people left behind — the people whose lives are thrown off-kilter by the passing of their loved one."

Handcrafted by Paolo Croatto Metalwork. To purchase the limited-edition urn, visit www.lundgrenmonuments.com.

For the frequent flier

What self-respecting bird wouldn't want to tuck into one of these for a wink or 40? Box for the Birds. Design-minded birdhouses hatched out of a father-daughter project.

"My husband is an artist, and he wanted to get our daughter into the studio," says Mom, Laura Hoffman from Athens, Ga. "I said, 'OK, so make a birdhouse.' " Coincidentally, their daughter's school was having a fundraising auction. Birdhouses were offered. They were a hit. And here we are.

Two styles, the Original and the Right. Birch ply ($29), aluminum or acrylic ($99). Snap them together. No tools! (Original is seven pieces; the Right is eight.)

Find at www.boxforthebirds.com and boutique shops.

Reach out to The Goddess at bteagarden@seattletimes.com. The Goddess is also very Pinteresting. Find her there at http://pinterest.com/rtea/.

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