I have done beach themed lightweight posts before but as it is summer, the message bears repeating. Beach weeks are some of the easiest trips to pack for, as they are so casual and you don’t wear a lot of clothes at the beach, but they are easy to overpack for. Often you think you need a dressier outfit for every day, when you really only leave the beach house twice. Or you pack five workout outfits and make it to the gym all of once (true story). In addition, most beach houses and condos have laundry facilities, so you can always throw a load in the washer. Let’s review the rules shall we?
- Pack in a color combo. Everything matches that way, and you can wear things more than once in different ways. Also important, pack to match one color of shoes (black or brown).
- Three pairs of shoes. Tennis shoes, sandals or flip flops, and one dressier pair for nights out. Done.
- Pack less than you need. Seriously lay out everything you want to bring and only pack half to two-thirds of it.
Got it? Here is what I’m bringing.
Grey Maxi Dress, $138
Polka Dot Dress, $168
Olympic Tee, $29.95
Gingham Shirt, $75
Striped Tee, $22.95
Color Block Bikini, $63 (top) and $59 (bottoms)
Becca Swimsuit, $70 (top) and $58 (bottoms)
Chi O Tank, $29.50
J.Crew 4″ Chinos, $45
Lululemon Crops, $72
Cool Racerback, $39
Boat and Tote, $39.95
Tennis Shoes, $82
Sunscreen, $9.89 (pack two!)
That’s really all you need! You’ll be living at the beach and pool, so swimsuits, cover-ups, and a beach bag are essential (don’t forget a towel, sunscreen, and magazines!). For casual evenings shorts and tees are cool and comfy. A few sundresses round out the mix for evenings out.
What do you bring to the beach? Are their any essentials I left off? I’d love to know!
Maybe it is because I talked about it, but the weather here has turned chilly once again and it is making me wish for balmier locales. So let’s pretend travel somewhere warm, yes?
Granada is rich in Spanish history, beautiful, and there is a ton to do.
Where else can you get snow and beach and beautiful winding neighborhoods?
I’d love to rent this lovely villa.
Wouldn’t it be a blast to lie by the pool or ocean, take in the sites, eat tapas, and enjoy this beautiful city? I wish I were there now! Where would you visit if you could go anywhere in the world right now?
I’m back as promised with my top four favorite spots in Shreveport. It is hard when you live somewhere to really appreciate the great things about it – it is even harder when this place is Shreveport, LA. I feel like everyone complains about how lame Shreveport is but really it wasn’t a bad place to grow up. It is a bit stifling and yes, you get death stares if you mention that you aren’t in church every Sunday (or um … ever), but there are lots of great things about it too. A few of my favorites:
In Boston, you can find any film you want playing somewhere close by. Before the Robinson Shreveporters did not have that luxury. There are good artsy theaters and there are horrible artsy theaters – the Robinson definitely falls into the former category. There is a great bistro with amazing food and cocktails, and you can bring your cocktails into the theater. They show all sorts of new independent films and occasionally throw back some classics as well.
Clearly someone is trying to make up for the classiness of the drive-through daiquiris by planting a successful British tearoom in town. I have been going to this place since I was a toddler, first with my grandmother, then with anyone who would come with me, then when she moved back to town with Moddie. It makes you feel incredibly classy to drink tea out of delicate china cups and pay absurd amounts of money for tiny tea sandwiches. Plus their food is delicious.
Betty Virginia is a classic and for good reason – it is such a beautiful area. I have had tons of picnics here and usually it is not too crowded (unless there is a school group but that is a story for another day). I like Highland Park because it is a little bit out of the way. This is where they have the Highland Blues Festival (Jazz Festival?) every year.
One of the hidden gems of Shreveport-Bossier, I think. This looks incredibly unassuming from the outside but it is such a quiet, cozy place to hang out. I used to study there in college but they have delicious food as well. The menu is always changing so you never get bored.
What is your favorite place in Shreveport-Bossier? Is there somewhere I missed? Is there a city you want me to cover next? I’d love to hear!
You all know how I feel about the Best Western Tria, or as I like to call it, the Oasis, but I have not shared any other favorite spots around Boston. The plight of the graduate student, or any student but especially graduate students, is that we are too busy (and broke!) to enjoy our surroundings much. Not to say that I never go anywhere, because I do, but most weekends are spent running errands, doing chores, and writing papers than galavanting around this amazing city.
Where else can you get so many things all in one place? This little nook in Harvard Square offers cozy chairs, a million different varieties of tea, take-out Thai food and surprisingly delicious vegan desserts. That alone would be enough reason to come, but they also have yoga, a full gym, and massages. It is quiet but not too quiet and never crowded. If I have an hour or two between classes, this is often where I go.
So this is a city and it isn’t technically in Boston but it is right outside! If you are into history at all Concord is the place to be. I have been a few times and I still want to go back. Henry David Thoreau’s cabin is located at Walden Pond (where he wrote Walden) which is beautiful in its own right. This is where the Southern Gentleman and I wandered around in the snowy woods like a Robert Frost poem for a good two hours. Concord also hosts Revolutionary War cemeteries and sites, Louisa May Alcott’s house, Emerson’s house, and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s house. You can also eat delicious Chinese food at Chang An.
The Liberty Hotel, which houses Clink, is awesome in its own right. It used to be the jailhouse but now is a boutique hotel. Going along with that theme is Clink. The cocktails are original, the food is divine, and they have a cheese plate worth going for alone. I’ve only been for dinner but from what I hear the bar scene is great here as well.
Admittedly I am biased, because I have the honor of working here. Schlesinger Library is the premier library on the history of American women. Maybe that doesn’t sound so exciting, but it is open to the public (or at least any halfway serious inquirers) and houses the collections of every major notable woman and women’s organization. Betty Friedan’s personal papers? We have them. Susan B. Anthony’s? Have them. You can look through Alice Paul’s journal from her freshman year of college or the very cookbook Julia Child cooked out of (it even has her signature). Amazing.
I’d love to know your favorite spots around Boston, or wherever you live! Do you have a lot of local hangouts or are you committed to one place? And up next, I’ll be showcasing my favorite Shreveport spots. xoxo
When I was growing up, I could never imagine my family as any other way then we were at that moment. I don’t mean this in a Peter Pan, never grow up kind of way, but I always pictured us as just six. We have so many inside jokes, such strict family dynamics, that I could never imagine anyone infiltrating our close-knit family.
About a year ago all of that changed. My brother Cameron brought Jenn home for Christmas and we all fell in love with her. She just fit. She understood our jokes and kept up with our witticisms. She somehow made Cameron more relaxed and easy-going. I don’t know that I believe in there only being one person who is meant for another, but I know that Cameron and Jenn are meant for each other.
I was so grateful to get to share in the celebration of their marriage this past weekend. In the South, we start planning our weddings around age ten and attending them long before that (everyone in the South gets married so damn early!). I’ve seen casual weddings and fussy ones, low-budget and high. I may be biased, but until this weekend I have never been to a wedding that was so much fun.
Everyone arrived by Wednesday or Thursday – the wedding was set for Friday (11/11/11) . The morning of the wedding all the guys went out deep sea fishing and the ladies laid out by the pool and went to the spa.
The ceremony itself was held on the beach under a bamboo hoopa wrapped in white and Tiffany blue gauzy fabric and tropical flowers. A friend performed the wedding and we all limo’d back to a beachside restaurant for drinks, dinner, and cake.
Jenn I’m so happy to call you the 7th member of our family and know you two will have a long and wonderful marriage!
Did you happen to check out Lisa’s Across Europe in 31 Days? Each day in October she featured the most gorgeous photos from a different country in Europe. She made me want to visit places I had never before given the time of day. Even though I love Fall, though, I’m wanderlusting for some place warm and tropical. Don’t these places look heavenly?
Where are you wanderlusting for these days? Have any fun vacations planned? I’d love to know!
I mentioned last week that I was going on a bit of an adventure and I’m happy to say I returned whole! I’ve got an insane few days trying to catch up but thought I’d share a few photos. I edited nothing.
It was a quick trip but I’d say the city treated me well. I’m going back in November! What’s your favorite thing in Shreveport, Shreveporters? And Northerners what do you want pictures of when I go back? xoxo
So I’m not going around the world, just across the country. And I’m not going to be gone for 80 days – more like four. So why is this not a regular old lightweight post? Because, like Phileas Fogg’s, this trip is going to be a bit of an adventure. For one, the climate is super jank. It’s nearly October (and will be when I get there!) but the current temperatures are in the 90s. Things are more casual there and they are probably still wearing espadrilles because they have no fashion, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to go local. The second factor is that I have NO idea what we will be doing. I’ll be with a number of different people at different times and we could do anything from swimming to going on a walk to going out. How the heck are you supposed to pack a carry-on in those conditions? Like this…
I’m sticking to a color palette of blues, blacks, and white. I’m bringing one pair of basically-black skinny jeans with three different tops. All are lightweight and I can push the sleeves up on the sweater and Breton. You can judge me for bringing only one pair of pants if you’d like.
I know three dresses is a bit excessive, but whatever. The black and tan, if you’ll recall, has the cutout back so it is perfect for an in omnia paratus adventure, which we’ll be having. The coral is conservative enough for dinner with the parents but has beautiful draping. The striped t-shirt dress is perfect for throwing on when I want to look presentable but comfortable.
The rest of the odds and ends I’m bringing. What you don’t see on this list? Tennis shoes and workout gear. The chances of us actually working out is something like 6% and tennis shoes take up a lot of room. I needed to choose between the booties (below) and tennis shoes probably and booties won. Plus I’d rather spend time with people I never see than spend time jogging. Other things you won’t see? Flip-flops and a swimsuit cover-up. I did bring a swimsuit but the pool is at Mod’s house so no need taking up room just for the walk from inside to outside. I refrained from bringing my dressing robe (so hard to leave behind!) and another pair of flat shoes. The key when packing for this kind of trip is to be flexible – both with what you bring and what you leave behind. You won’t die if you only have one pair of jeans, but you will be pissed if you have to run around trying to find a swimsuit in October. You’ll live without different jewelry for every day, but will feel dumb in a pretty dress with only TOMS as footwear. Got it? Good.
I’m adhering to the three pairs of shoes rule here (and I’m sorry for the shoddy background removal above). The booties are relatively walkable, the heels are fantastic looking and the moccasins are perfect for when I’m not trying too hard. Done, done, and done.
What are your vacation must-haves? What do you bring on trips where you have NO idea what you’ll be doing? And just for fun – if you could only bring three things to a desert island what would they be? I’d love to know!
Happy almost Labor Day my loves! I’m a little sad to be packing away my white sundresses and espadrilles but excited for the start of the school year and fall. In Boston the sun is already setting earlier and the evenings dip into the high 50s. This weekend is a long one and the last hoorah before everything kicks back into gear and a lot of you are probably taking off. Maybe you are spending one last weekend on the Cape?
Throwing an end of summer picnic or barbecue?
Or maybe just lazing around the house?
- A retro two-piece swimsuit
- A classic striped shirt (push the sleeves up!) with
- an easy, pull-on black skirt
- A pretty dress for night time fun
- Patterned slip-on TOMS
What are your Labor Day weekend must-have items? Are you doing anything exciting? Stay cute!
I’m finally back from vacation(s) and have photos ready to share! First stop was Puerto Vallarta, (second) home of my fabulous uncles. This trip was delightfully lazy. We woke up leisurely, ate, napped, played gin, drank gin, and watched movies. We only went out of Puerto Vallarta one day to go to San Sebastian, a silver mining town with a tequila distillery. On the last day Ron and I went to this awesome beach where you sat under umbrellas and waiters fetched drinks and food if you wanted. No pictures of that, sorry.
Next stop was Manhattan with Laura, Michelle, and Sarah, all fellow bloggers. To be perfectly honest I was a little nervous about four women in one room and together 24/7 for three days; my experience with Southern and sorority girls (love you!) has taught me that this is an instant recipe for drama. SO not the case with these wonderful women! Everyone was relaxed and easy-going, but spoke up if they really wanted to do something. Example? The first night it was raining and we didn’t feel like going out so we found a liquor delivery service and sneakily had them deliver (in a black plastic bag that looked like we were getting porn!) to our fancy-pants hotel. We gossiped, ate, drank, and watched trashy TV while we caught up on each others’ lives. The rest of the trip Laura and Sarah had their cameras out at Every. Single. Stop. ( ) so I decided to just let them share their pictures. I did have one snapped of Laura and I in Central Park – I’ve missed that guh!
If you’d like a play-by-play (or just more pictures from our adventure) you can see Sarah’s photos here and here. You can see Laura’s pictures here. If you are into it, you can see basically all the different foods consumed (in photos) here, here, and here. I played personal stylist to the other three when we shopped and will be guest posting for Laura soon on what I chose for her and why so get excited!
What was your favorite vacation or memory from this summer? Dream vacation? Who would you take and what are your three must-haves? I’d love to know!
I’ll be taking a brief hiatus from the blog for the next two and a half weeks as I take a few much needed vacations. First stop?
From there I am heading to see this guh, about which I am so excited:
We will be meeting here, The Roosevelt:
I spent a few minutes looking over old posts and it seems both the Wanderlust and Love List series fell by the wayside. Since you are packed like a pro (and a lightweight!) why not check out some of the most wanderlusty places I’ve seen lately, all via Pinterest.
Other things I am loving?
1. My ridiculous dog. Seriously check it out…
Harry Potter-inspired cocktails (I’m digging the Minerva McGonagall)
A world map by condiments used – Russia’s made me laugh.
Kind of in love with this dress.
Finally, check out the Whole Foods Parking Lot song. I’m definitely a WFM (and food) snob and I’ve definitely seen most of this go down in person. Yyyyeah.
Happy Friday my lovelies — can you believe August is just around the corner?? I’ve done a bit of local travel this summer but in preparation for my August vacation (and yours!) I decided we needed a little update on packing. You can check out all the other posts as well: the original post and real life examples including: tropical island, business trips, city weekend, country weekend, and home for the holidays.
Quest One: Carry-On Luggage
Laura needed a new carry-on a few weeks back and reached out for help. Iiiii actually needed a new carry-on as well, so I told her what I was telling myself and also heeded her tips. The biggest one? Get something with wheels! I love wheel-less bags but Laura was right, carrying your life on your shoulder gets old fast, especially at an airport.
My biggest rule is, as always, quality over quantity. I also wanted something that would pass the “international carry-on” rule because I’ll be going international a couple of times in the coming months. Current international carry-on rules?
No larger than 22″ H x 14″W x 9″D
I knew I was going high-end because I wanted something that would last, not only in terms of years used but “toughness” factor; I tend to beat-up my luggage. I also wanted my piece to standout slightly, but not obnoxiously. The bags I considered and which I chose:
Honestly I loved ALL of these bags for different reasons. The Hartmann is so striking, but it was a little too big in terms of international regulations. The Briggs and Riley was “perfect for global adventures and the darling of airlines” but not my favorite aesthetically. The L.L.Bean bag matched my checked luggage, which I liked, and I knew it was durable for a good price. The T.Anthony line is so classic and timeless, so naturally I gravitated towards it. Plus it is named the international carry-on so a no-brainer on size. Same with Filson; love the brand, love the bag and it matches my backpack.
Ultimately I went with the Briggs and Riley. I liked the different shape and the description seemed to match my needs perfectly. When it came in, I was even more sold. It has a ton of organizational pockets and is seriously lightweight … I carried it upstairs with one finger because my hands were full. It also has lifetime free repairs/replacement if necessary. Done and Done.
Quest Two: Versatile Clothing
I never need an excuse to shop; you know this by now. I aimed to find pieces that would mix-and-match easily, pack well, and fit ever-changing temperatures all while being stylish. Tall order, yes? Since it is summer I went for a summer palette of navy, khaki, coral, and white with brown leather and straw accessories. What I found?
- J. Crew Vacation Dress, $88
- Equinox Stripe Maxi, $158
- Loft Poplin Skirt, $35
- J.Crew Striped Henley, $42.50
- Ribbed Tank and Favorite Tank, $16.50 and $18
- Basic Straw Floppy Hat, $29
- Saint James “Naval II” Sweater (Picasso Sweater), $130
- Prescription Sunglasses from SEE, $368
- Khaki Slim-Leg Pants, $74
- Leather Driving Mocs, $130
Sooo yeah there is no coral featured BUT it is definitely on my packing list. Simply add a scarf, some jeans, a belt and a pair of leggings to this and you are pretty much set for a week, no? I love how versatile all of these pieces are.
Quest Three: Quality Travel-Sized “Products”
I am a freak when it comes to personal items – I never travel without them and I am so grossed out by hotel and drugstore products that I bring my own products everywhere. I may love you, but I likely don’t love your shampoo … or your toothpaste … or your body lotion. But with all the three ounce bottles and one bag of liquids rules, I needed products that would cover a lot of bases. What I found?
- Supergoop! SPF30 Sunscreen Swipes with Zinc, $34
- Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo To-Go, $11
- Arrojo Frizz Control, $7
- Shiseido Ultimate Protection for face, $19.50
- Ojon Color Sustain Shampoo and Conditioner To Go, $9 each
- L’Occitane Cleansing Oil, $8
- Body Shop DeoDry, $5
- Fresh Cannabis Santal, $32
- Living Proof No Frizz for Wavy Hair, $15
- Jon Hart Design Clear Grande, $36
So many great products here. For starters, the sunscreen swipes are genius. Usually airlines don’t count these as liquids for carry-on giving you more room in your regulation bag. Yes to Carrots also makes make-up removing wipes (not featured) that are equally as genius and come with me everywhere. Dry shampoo works wonders for second (or third or fourth ) day hair and I love that the fragrance is only 1 ounce … it is also technically for men. Speaking of the regulation bag, how cute is the Jon Hart travel bag? They come in lots of colors and you can have your name, initials, or another word heat-embossed on the tag.
Quest Four: Packing Helpers
Again, working with limited space here and I like to bring ridiculous things like matching lingerie even if I have no intention of anyone seeing it. I don’t overpack but my list of travel “must-haves” can be extensive. I needed to make the most room out of my suitcase.
- Ultralight Packers, $29.95
- Nightfinder Travel Alarm Clock, $19.95
- Lewis N. Clark Laundry Kit, $7
- Cleobella Mexicana Clutch, $160
- Ditty Bag, $28
So much helpfulness here! So the packing cubes keep t-shirts, underwear, socks, etc. organized and take up minimal room because of the shape. A travel alarm clock ensures you won’t miss planes and trains without the temptation to run up a $3,500 iPhone bill while you are abroad. The Woolite and sink stopper guarantees you won’t run out of basics and can wash delicates as needed. I know the clutch costs a lot, but it is SO damn handy and holds passport, cards, etc. Finally a lined ditty bag holds shoes, a wet bathing suit … anything.
Quest Five: Entertain Me!
I bore easily. Really easily. Combine this with public places full of (potentially) gross masses and I can be irritable. I try to be as low-tech as possible on vacations but again, need to make the most of the space I have. What I bring with me?
- Kindle in Great Gatsby cover, $139 and $85
- Noise-cancelling headphones, $60
- 3G 32 GB iPad, $729
- Middlemarch (or another “real” book), $20
- Moleskin Notebook and Parker fountain pen, $13 and $25
I know I know… I said I don’t carry a lot of electronics and then listed 60% electronics. So the Kindle is just common sense if you read at all and the noise-cancelling headphones are a must to keep your cool around all the crying children and loud conversations. The iPad is a great laptop substitute if you need to access the internet and it doubles as entertainment. I always bring a real book and a magazine or two in case (god forbid) my Kindle and iPad die, then a notebook and pen to write and draw if that is your thing.
Now I’d love to know what is on YOUR lightweights short list – clothes, accessories, luggage – tell me everything! Anything you are loving from these round-ups? Have a sweet weekend and stay cute. xoxo
So I often try to explain the ridiculousness of Louisiana and specifically Shreveport to people and unless you have experienced it you just. don’t. get. it. Example A? I took my darling Robin from CA to the Drive-Through Daiquiri for Everclear Vodka Collinses in non-descript 32 oz. styrofoam cups. Which we may or may not have brought to church. And even then, she only KIND of understood.
I started following this twitter about my hometown but it was super-boring untillllll I discovered the website version. FINALLY I can make you understand! In honor of glorious Shreveport, LA and all that she helped and/or hindered my character growth, I give you:
AS SEEN IN SHREVEPORT
I really wish I were kidding…
So When I Try to Explain the Six Flags Over Jesus …
When I pair my “Louisiana education” along with statements about how hard I work here that make you question my sanity and/or sleeping/eating patterns, these are a dime a dozen:
That dude on the right is the mayor…I could tell you how/why he was elected in a city of old money Deep South Plantationers but then, you know, I would sound racist. Instead, I’m just going to invite you to click through on his official biography. It is pretty awesome. Read carefully to notice that all of the “jobs” he held before his prolific career as a local politician are considered by most to be volunteer positions. Example A: Treasurer of the Shreveport Chapter of the NAACP. Too lazy to click through? I just need you to know that he “achieved the
Shreveport Negro Chamber of Commerce Political Achievement Award.”
I know I make you laugh but seriously, even I can’t make this shit up.
In line at McDonald’s…and Massholes, we have drive-thrus EVERYWHERE (duhhh see the following post) so guh wanted to show off her mad fashion skillz.
Oooookay I saved the best for last. I know that the kind, genteel thing to do is shake my head and say “that is really so sad…he/she must be SUCH an addict.” But whatever, they may not admit that Betches Love Insensitivity but I swear to God every person who did/would say the above quote would also agree with the below quote, courtesy of that last hyperlink:
“It’s not that betches don’t care about the world, we just care about other shit first. We’re deeply sensitive about the earthquake in Japan, as long as we don’t have to discuss it until after the final rose is handed out on The Bachelor.”
So we have discussed the novelty of the drive-thru liquor stores … I know, I know, you are still in awe. Just chill out for a minute (or go visit one) and check out the following. Yes this is a series NO that is not one person. And before you start feeling bad again (and forgetting the above quote — you totally wouldn’t feel bad if the season Finale of Dancing With the Stars or whatever random reality-TV show you are watching these days was on) …. can we just remember all these homeboys (and guhs) are riding MOTORIZED wheelchairs???? You can’t pick that up at your average Salvation Army darlings!
I wish I could tell you I made this up but Norway Jose; we are as legit as they come! If by legit you mean batshit crazy...Tell me, had any WTF!? moments in your own town? Or one in Shreveport? Or just go see more here — don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Happy Monday afternoon, y’all! It was TORTURE having to be so vague and aloof about my weekend but it had to stay a surprise. I spent the ENTIRE long weekend (Thursday-Sunday) in Baton Rouge with my mom, two of her besties Laura and Emily, my little, B, and three of her besties Emily, Brooke, and Carrie. It was divine. Unfortunately Debbie has the photo evidence but I made do — check it out!
How To Plan the Perfect Surprise
Step One: Tell the person you can’t wait to come… Talk about if often.
Step Two: Book flight, hotel, etc. Contact all professors (even ones you haven’t met) and convince them to let you take their limited enrollment classes even though you won’t be at the first class and/or make arrangements to get them to sign your study card in a 24 hour period. Throw around the term “secret society.”
Step Three: Call person you are surprising and tell them you are devastated but you can’t come – you have school, work, you have to get into these classes. Add in that plane tickets are now like $700 amd you can’t afford it because you know she won’t check to verify this info…she isn’t a schemer like you are. When she says it is okay, tell her it isn’t, make a huge deal of it, and talk about it often.
Step Four: Realize that you’ll be flying out during a snow emergency…. Pack lots of homework for your inevitable delay and wake up early.
Step Five: Trek a quarter of a mile, through snow, partly uphill, with your backpack, roller board, and a shovel to dig out your car.
Step Six: Car is nowhere to be found. In its place is a VW Passat? Convince yourself that perhaps you parked one street up…go check. Pass the same people multiple times, one of who is your academic advisor/mentor, and try not to sound like you need to be committed as you haul what looks like all of your possessions (well…to someone who doesn’t know you all that well) around the neighborhood, claiming that your car was there but now it isn’t and there is a Passat there instead.
Step Seven: Realize if you don’t leave now you will never make it. Call every cab company in Somervillle (figuring you’ll deal with the whole “do you mind if we drop my 75 pound dog off at camp before you take me to the airport?” situation later…). No one…not a single one of the ten companies you called, answer the phone.
Step Eight: Call your next-door neighbor and say ” I know I met your brother literally half an hour ago but does he have a car and can he take me? I’ll pay him.”
Step Nine: Neighbor calls back and her SO will be happy to take you once he shovels out HIS car.
Step Eleven: Be treated like royalty by the wonderful woman at ticketing, who already called the plane and printed your pass…she sends you through a special, line-free security.
Step Twelve: Hear her call your name over the loudspeaker…the lady at the gate gave away your seat and closed the cabin door. She kindly rebooks you for a 1 PM flight free of charge.
Step Thirteen: Get coffee and be grateful you get to do homework…then realize your glasses are in your impounded car and you are blind as a bat.
Step Fourteen: Do schoolwork anyhow and take meds for the migraine that will inevitably occur.
Step Fifteen: Arrive in Baton Rouge and begin a 72 hour food coma. Spend the first 36 hours sneaking around the city avoiding the person you are surprising. Call her multiple times pretending to be home… Keep apologizing for not coming.
Step Sixteen: Arrive at the sorority house. Realize how old you’ve gotten. Greet all your sisters and get them in on the surprise.
Step Seventeen: Wait anxiously for the part of the initiation where blindfolds are removed… Stand directly in front of the person you are surprising.
Step Eighteen: Wait with bated breath as the veil is lifted from her eyes …she looks at the GH, then to her left, then her right…still doesn’t see you. Suddenly her eyes widen, her mouth forms a perfect O and she starts crying. The entire house goes crazy.
Step Nineteen: Spend the rest of the weekend together laughing, eating, shopping, playing….
Step Twenty: Don’t even worry about the whole impounded car or having to use your Whole Foods gift card to buy food because you are completely broke (#whitegrlproblems much?)…because you just pulled off the greatest surprise of all time and spent a weekend remembering why you adore your roots.
That is all I have for today my loves! It was such an AMAZING trip and though getting my car out was a bit of an ordeal I came home to a care package of custom-made Houndstooth curtains, duck boots, and a Sonicare…aaaaamazing start to the week.
What did YOU do this past weekend? Have you ever pulled off a spectacular surprise? Anyone else into the frat/sorority culture? I’d love to hear any and all of the above! xoxo
You may not know this, but I have a slight obsession with the Gilmore Girls…and by slight I mean I can recognize every single quote and own all seven seasons. No shame. So when I started to write a post about how to pack for a quick weekend trip I couldn’t help but be reminded of the episode where Lorelai and Rory are taking a day trip to Yale with the grandparents and Lorelai comes into Rory’s room freaking out that Rory had not packed a bag.
On the one hand weekend trips are a breeze to pack for – you’ll be home before you know it! On the other hand, you never know what type of adventures the weekend will bring (and thus what you will need to wear) and though you do not need a lot of toiletries in terms of amount, no one (or ummm no one like me) likes to rough it.
So what is a lightweight packer to do? Stick to The Rules, of course and remember to pack items that can be dressed up or down because this is an adventure. For a weekend I recommend the following:
- 1 dress/suit that can be made appropriate for anything from church to a fancy dinner to a night out. Think basic coat/pants or dress, different accessories.
- 1 loungy/pajama type outfit — will double as both. I’m a big fan of a fitted track jacket and Boyfriend Pants from VS, or leggings and a long sweater
- 1 Jeans/t-shirt/sweater outfit…can go basically anywhere
- 2 extra shirts – one casual, one dressy Just in Case
- A swimsuit (hot tubs, indoor pools, etc.)
- A gift for your host, if applicable
- Toiletries (in miniature if you have them)
- 1 pair dressy shoes, 1 pair casual
It is enough stuff to take you through any scenario, but light enough to throw in a backpack or weekender bag. Plus one of those outfits (I recommend the jeans one with casual shoes) you will be wearing which cuts back on what you pack even more. I am working under the assumption that if it is only a weekend trip you probably are not jetting to St. Croix and thus don’t need beach gear, but I always pack a swimsuit because you just never know.
Speaking of the weekend, what are you up to? Building a snowman? Going to a theme party? Watching the entire first season of Dexter or Designing Women? Trying a new recipe? It is the last weekend before Shopping Week for me, so I am heading up to Connecticut to hang out with my fabulous uncle Clint. He’s hosting a cocktail party tonight and I am finally going to meet his Unitarian minister Josh (an HDS alum who helped me with my personal statement). Who knows what we will do the rest of the weekend but it is sure to be a blast.
As always, a few links to get your weekend started.
I’m on a spending moratorium after way too many unplanned purchases (MacBook Pro, Snow Tires, Wayfarers, etc. etc. etc.) but that doesn’t stop me from lusting after some of the clothes from Brooklyn Industries. Especially loving this, this, and this very Roman Holiday-esque dress. Also can I have him?
I want to pin All of These.
I guestposted on SisterTime if you’d like to check it out.
The Gawker’s Evolution of a Hipster.
It’s no secret I love TFM, and I’m not even rolling my eyes at the fact you can now submit”columns” (hey this has the potential to be hilarious!)…but this is just absurd. PS Sweetheart, Tropicana is a brand of orange juice…I don’t think you “slather it on.”
It won’t let me embed the video, but I just want you to know that Keenan is still kicking, y’all!
Have a sweet weekend and I’ll be back Monday! xoxo
I know I have been away for a bit and it (mostly) is because I have the Southern Gentleman in town and (partly) is because my new MacBook Pro came in and as I know nothing about the operating system I’ve been playing with it a lot.
You all know that I found myself much more Southern than I ever realized when I moved from Shreveport and that upon returning home to visit I found myself much more Northern than I realized. JMod calls me a half-blood which offends me only because I prefer the elitism of Slytherin. (Oh come on, yeah Voldemort came from there but FDR was a total eugenicist in the 1940s and we all still laud him as a great American hero). Anyways put me next to the SG and I look about as Southern as Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, which is to say not at all.
I have collected a good deal of quotes, most of which are unfit to print. Remember when my family came in town and within five minutes had turned our entire T car against us with their use of racial slurs? Yyyyeah…SG’s family is in the Plantation business. Their family fought for my boy Jefferson Davis in the War of Northern Aggression. So it has been hilarious watching him explain these things to a bunch of liberal Bostonians.
He and my friend Abbie’s boyfriend have quickly become best buds (it is a total bromance…seriously) and Abbie asked why SG couldn’t just move up here. ”I could NEVER live in Massachusetts!” he responded. “Half my guns are illegal here I checked!”
Get us together and suddenly one feels like they are in the middle of a Confederacy meeting with talk of the South rising again. I knew things had gotten crazy when a) I downloaded and read Decision Points by George W. Bush on my iPad and *gasp* liked it (Georgie was a total fratstar back in his day…) and b) found myself DEFENDING him to a bunch of people. Who AM I???
Despite all the tension we may or may not have caused there is still one thing Southerners do better than anyone else: hospitality. We went out with some friends last night downtown and as we were coming up to the porch noticed my new neighbor getting something out of his car. We invited him up to help set up the Mac and have a nightcap, not really thinking he would come. Apparently he and his girlfriend decided to come for maybe 10 minutes than head out, but once we all got together they ended up staying for hours. We had such a blast joking about everything from hometowns to Tucker Max to the lack of Bourbon aficionados in this town (they love it AND adored the sweet tea bourbon we served). Luckily JMod had provided the perfect party food in the form of Italian cookies so we were not horrible hosts.
Other than that we have just been hanging around — we went to Concord to see Walden Pond and visit Thoreau’s cabin, but eventually gave up and ate Chinese food as we were just wandering around the snowy woods looking for a trail made my humans not bear or deer (turns out it was on the other side of the highway…awesome). We went to the Granary to see the tombs of some of my favorite revolutionaries and he and his new friend went to museum of the U.S.S Constitution (the ship was closed that day) before retiring to a pub at 2 in the afternoon…it has been ridiculous and amazing but not to worry, I’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming soon.
I know everyone over-indulged over the holidays so I had my favorite future RD put together some quick and easy meal/snacks for on the go, which I will be sharing later in the week. In that vein, want to guest post? Have a topic you are dying for me to cover? Just want to comment on some N/S differences? Let me know below! xoxo
Happy almost-Christmas, dolls! In my family we start on the 23rd for Leo’s birthday and…well we never really stop. My brother and I were joking the other day that the real reason God made the gym and anorexia was so the Southern elite could binge on ridiculous feasts and still stay beautiful. Awful and ridiculous? YES. Hint of truth? Absolutely. Now that I think of it it makes the Lightweight part of this post even better but that is SO not what we are talking about here. Camron and Jacob always love to give their workout/eating tips in the comments so talk to them there if you want…only talk to Rebekah if you want to marvel at how she can eat a ginormous Thanksgiving meal and then get candy, popcorn, AND an Icee at the movies after. Love you fam!
Clearly I cannot take a small bag home for Christmas (presents, you know) but I do want to leave plenty of room in my luggage for the inevitable bevy of gifts, post-Christmas shopping scores, and items I convince my sister to let me have. I packed with all of that in mind. I realize what you pack largely depends on where you are headed, but seeing as how I am leaving Boston looking like this:
I can almost guarantee that these guidelines will work for wherever you are going provided it isn’t a flyover state. You know the basic rules: pick a color palette, choose pieces for their versatality, transition pieces, half as many clothes, twice as much money, three pairs of shoes or less, mindful accessories. Got it. But there are a few things to keep in mind for this season.
No Seriously, you do NOT need to pack that many outfits
No matter where you are going there will be a washer and dryer. You will probably see all SORTS of people from your hometown who haven’t seen these outfits, plus you will inevitably get new clothes for Christmas. Even if it is just a new button-down or a cute dress — someone will throw something your way. If not, you can shop or even better, steal borrow from your friends and siblings. Problem solved.
And Seriously, you WILL Need More Money Than You Think
I know I know…you only have as much as you have. And you tend to think you’ll be so busy stopping by obligatory parties, etc. that you won’t need to spend any money. Inevitably I forget about things like parking my car at the airport and food/snacks on travel days. More imporantly I don’t account for the drive-through daiquiri on the way to any event we think we can get away with it (okay, maybe just in LA…), that it costs money to catch up over coffee/tea/Monjuni’s/dessert, and that you will want to do things with people besides play Rummikub. Prepare to come back rich in experiences, gifts, and Facebook photos, but very very cash poor.
Bring Gym Clothes and for Godssakes Use Them at Least Once
I know….I hate taking time out of my social calendar to go for a run. But you know what I hate even more? Realizing my new skinny jeans are tighter than when I left and I can’t blame it on the dryer. I plan on making my mom take me to her Zumba class because she’s been practicing (I swore up and down I wouldn’t laugh at her — and I won’t! She’s precious), having a walking date with my friend Laura, and seeing what all the fuss is about with my friend Jess’s favorite Yoga video. Cute Lululemon gear FTW!
Take This Opportunity to Wear the “Not Very Practicals” (But Make Sure They are Photogenic)
Boston is severely limiting my fashion choices, mainly due to temperatures, cobblestone streets, and the fact that I walk miles each day. So fully intend to live in my nude stilettos and black Kenneth Cole Booties that make everyone turn heads. Shallow? Yes but they deserve to be seen! On that note, wear whatever you feel stellar in, even if it is boot-cut jeans and your old sorority tees but keep in mind — these pictures will show up everywhere. I’m sorry let me repeat: These pictures will show up everywhere. Facebook, Twitter, e-mails, Ahem blogs, Christmas cards….you will see it again. And you will be pissed if that empire waisted dress that you thought looked adorable makes everyone wonder if you will soon be welcoming a new addition. We’ve all been there and I’m just saying – we are all stalking these photos.
That said: What Am I Bringing Home?
My sister texted me that she could have gone swimming it was so hot…ironically I was about to engage in my first sledding experience. I wasn’t sure quite how to pack so I brought a mixture of things and stuck to my basic style. A Harvard Tee because really, if you can’t wear one at home where can you. Some short-sleeve, long-sleeve, and striped tees because I live in them, a lightweight sweater or two, and a few shirt/legging combos. Two actual dresses (one is a Xmas present but I made my mom promise I’d get it first thing Xmas morning so I could wear it all day ), herringbone shorts, a denim mini, leggings, skinny jeans, and cords. Workout gear, heels, desert boots, Toms and of course, some schoolwork: A Social History of the United States 1587-1914, A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, and my iPad.
And because it is Christmas and I’ve been watching too much Love Actually I am ending with a picture from the lovely Porter Hovey’s kissssing blog. “Let’s go get the shit kicked out of us by love!”
I’ll be posting spottily over the next week while I am in Louisiana (Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler and all), but keep checking in and have a fabulous Christmas. xoxo
After I shared the “Woman Stabs Daughter Over Pizza” story on Monday, I started romanticizing the South. I fit in so much better in Boston but there are a lot of things about Louisiana that you just do not find here. I mentioned this to my friend Laura meaning something entirely different and she responded with, “Oh you mean like donuts? Because Dunkin Donuts are NASTY!”
Bahahah true story, but not quite what I meant. Some things, like the fact that I went to high school with the Grand Dragon of the KKK’s daughter, or that we have the second highest obesity rate and second lowest education levels in the country, make me cringe a little and laugh a lot. Others make me yearn for a few days a month in Louisiana.
I started making my list of “happy things about LA” and realized most of them centered around alcohol (ummm so did my great-grand-big Lisa’s!) so I enlisted the help of a few friends. What are some of our collective favorites?
Terms of Endearment
In the South it is wholly appropriate to call everyone doll, dear, sweetie, babe, love, etc. It can be your best friend, your grandmother, or the woman bagging your groceries at the store. In the North, this makes people either uncomfortable or think you are in love with them. And as my friend Laura (a different one!) pointed out, you can do it while acting like a bitch. Southerners are nothing if not polite, even when we are talking shit about you.
Food! More Specifically…
Good Eats Market
It is a soup/salad/panini place in Shreveport owned by a friend of ours. They have the most decadent tomato basil soup and also cater. They are not open for dinner which is very sad but they sell the soup by the quart!
Crawfish boils are big in Louisiana and include new potatoes, corn, Tony Chachere’s, and lots of alcohol. You learn to peel them as babies and can only eat as many as you can peel. Or if you are my mom, you just claim not to like boiled crawfish and eat crawfish etouffee to avoid the mess (true story).
Louisiana donuts, as mentioned earlier, are the shit. The closest comparison I can think of it Krispy Kreme but still…it is so not the same. They are yeast and full of trans-fat, and are dunked in a melt-in-your-mouth glaze. They are a staple of Sunday-before-church breakfasts.
Monjuni’s/Strawn’s/Tim’s Snow Cones
All local places, all incredible. Monjuni’s is the Italian place I profess my love for ohhhh I don’t know about once a week? Strawn’s is a hole-in-the-wall diner famous for their pies (featured multiple times in Southern Living!), and Tim’s makes the most amazing snow-cones with real fruit juices…you cannot get them outside of Louisiana!
Grits and White Gravy (but not together)
Two of the most delicious things known to man. Buttery, optionally cheesy grits are a gift from the gods and can be eaten at any meal. White gravy takes hashbrowns (or “homefries” as you like to call them) to an entirely different level. You can also eat it on mashed potatoes, country fried steak, and biscuits.
Family as a Birthright
This is HUGE in the South. An Ex-boyfriend of mine complained that dating someone in my family was worse than being a Kennedy because we have SO many family functions. True story but I am not sorry. We have birthday parties for every single person in the extended family as well parties for random shit (Cameron came in town! Rebekah is going on a cruise! I haven’t seen you in two weeks!). It is frightening to come in as an outsider and meet my 75 closest relatives, but it is how we do things. As with any large group of close-knit people (who can’t get rid of each other because they are blood related) there is always drama going on….we love to complain about it but we would not change it for the world.
The Abundance of Alcohol
No seriously. I did not realize drive-thru daiquiris were not normal until about a year ago. These aren’t your weak little Mexican Pina Colada (we drink those when we are thirsty not partying!)…most of them have at least four different kinds of alcohol, at least one being EverClear. They range in size up to a gallon and if you go during Happy Hour, you get two EACH, not one for “half-price.” They come in non-descript styrofoam cups and the loophole to the open container laws is a small piece of scotch tape over the lid (which is easily moved aside).
In addition, most restaurants will give you your alcohol in a to-go cup (at the arts theater your cocktail is three times as big in a to-go cup to take into the theater or outside). There are 24 hour liquor stores and because of college football, day drinking is not only acceptable but encouraged.
The SEC/Frat Culture
Other regions think they do college football but not like the SEC does. These fans are ridiculously hard-core and even the most sports-adversed of my friends will go crazy for their favorite team(s). This is what we do on Saturdays in the fall…period.
Added to that is the Greek system. Yes, they have it nationwide but no, it is not the same thing. Generations and generations of families are in the same sorority or fraternity. Once you are in, most of your clothes/accessories/decorations (for girls) have your letters and/or symbols on them. Once guys are in their uniform changes to long-sleeved button downs and Polo/La Coste shirts, khaki shorts or pants, Sperry top siders (regardless of the season) or New Balances, and sunglasses secured with croakies. You have to live it to understand.
The Southern Gentleman and Southern Belle
Here is where things get a bit contradictory. Yes we are kind of (a lot) tacky. Yes we are racist. But we have damn good manners. Guys open doors for women (including car doors!), hold umbrellas, and pay for everything. Girls would not be caught dead in at least a bit of make-up and cute hair (even if it is bedhead cute), learn the art of flirting as toddlers, and wear grandma’s pearls proudly.
Admittedly this drives me crazy, but it can be kind of nice. “Traffic” in Louisiana is taking an extra ten minutes to get somewhere as opposed to flying through all green lights at midnight. The person behind you in the grocery store will likely know your life story (or at least who in your family is coming down with the flu) by the time you check out. And walking at a pace about two miles an hour is absurd.
Constant Reasons to Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez
In English it means “let the good times roll” and I am pretty sure it is the mantra we live by. You can ALWAYS find an occasion to celebrate and in Louisiana we do. I’m considering asking for a Mardi Gras break (in LA we get a full week!) but somehow doubt Harvard will understand.
What is YOUR favorite thing about the Deep South — and no, Texas is not the same thing! Anything you hate? Anything you want me to try to make popular in Mass?
My family is very athletic as long as you use the word athlete loosely. My dad is actually pretty athletic, as are my brothers. I’m “athletic” in the sense that I danced for 13 years and was a varsity cheerleader but the last time I played tennis with Camron he told me I should play for Jerry’s Kids…yeah I haven’t played tennis since. B could be athletic, but she took the dance/cheer route as well. She did an IronKids Tri when she was 10 and I don’t think she has run (except for cheerleading/dance) since then. So when she said she was going to run a halfsie to stave off the Freshman 15 we were all like “oh yeah, definitely B!” It isn’t that she CAN’T do it, because she totally could but B doesn’t run three miles, much less 13.1. I mean, she made us take NOODLES with us while snorkeling 20 feet away from the catamaran in the Caribbean because treading water would have been too strenuous.
Unfortunately Jacob didn’t get the memo and thought B was seriously training. He gets all excited and suggests a family halfsie on either Thanksgiving or Christmas. And of course B says, “Oh yeah let’s do it that would be AWESOME!” Umm wait B…how many times have you run since you went down to LSU?
“Well I ran once last week”
“Because you were late to class? Or down Sorority Row for bid day?”
In truth if any of the four of us were going to run a halfsie it would be Camron. He’s in hella ridiculous good shape. I like to run in theory, but only in the most ideal of conditions which means I run very sporadically. In the past three days, however, I’ve gone for over an hour TWICE…which I believe makes me about 3,0000 times more prepared for this hypothetical run than B. So maybe the Stevens family should meet up for a race.
All joking (or not joking) aside, I am excellent at all things related to running but not actually part of the physical endurance of running ridiculous miles. I can perfectly pack a gym bag, create a great running playlist, and tell you what to drink afterwards to get the most out of your workouts. Shall we? B take notes!
Part One: The Gym Bag
There is nothing worse than getting to the gym after work and realizing you don’t have something small but crucial like socks or (god forbid) an iPod. The bag itself needn’t be expensive (mine are old Invitrogen/Life Tech bags from Leo’s company), but it is incredibly helpful to have a bag with sections or pockets. You could make do with a tote by keeping smaller bags (cosmetic-style or even ziplocs!) inside to keep things separated. I always keep:
- 2-3 pairs of socks (and an extra sports bra if you are female)
- An iPod, headphones, magazine/Kindle if you are into reading on the elliptical
- A hairbrush, bobby pins, a cute headband
- Shower supplies
- Flipflops (for the nasty gym showers/sauna/whirlpool)
- Extra underwear — there is nothing worse than getting out of the gym shower and realizing the only underwear you have with you are the ones you just worked out in…and you are wearing a mini-skirt.
- Running Shoes
Keep these things in your bag at all times, then all you need to add are your actual workout clothes. Even better, keep a gallon-sized Ziploc in your bag so that you can throw dirty gym clothes into it, then put them in the laundry when you get home. It keeps everything else fresh.
Part Two: The Playlist
I have to have music when I work out, and I have to have upbeat music to keep me going. I usually end up switching songs before they are over so I make the playlists really long. Taking a note from my fabulous great grand-big Lisa I’m sharing my playlist and I will even make you a CD (though it will take two) if you would like.
The Fall Run/Fail Run Playlist
- Lush Crush — Ryan Robinson
- Bet On It — Troy, HSM2
- I’ve Been to a Marvellous Party – Divine Comedy covering Noel Coward
- Fame — Naturi Naughton
- Classifieds – The Academy Is
- Dance Dance — Fallout Boy
- All These Things That I’ve Done — The Killers
- Party in the USA — Miley Cyrus
- Bed Intruder Song — Antoine Dodson
- Fairfax — William Tell
- Rock and Roll — Eric Hutchinson
- Do the Panic — Phantom Planet
- I Like You So Much Better When You Are Naked — Ida Maria
- Last Chance to Lose Your Keys — Brand New
- The Ballad of Sal Villaneuva — Taking Back Sunday
- Catch My Disease — Ben Lee
- Airplanes — BOB
- Saints and Sailors — Dashboard Confessional
- Tik Tok — Ke$ha
- MPLS — Sing It Loud
- All For One — HSM2
- I Gotta Feeling — Black Eyed Peas
- Pinball Wizard — The Who
- Temperature — Sean Paul
- Dirty Little Secret — The All-American Rejects
- Good Girls Go Bad — Cobra Starship
- Crashin — Jack’s Mannequin
- We Built This City — Jefferson Starship
- Single Ladies — Beyonce
- Out Tonight — Rent Cast
- Hands Down — Dashboard Confessional
- The Tension and the Terror — Straylight Run
- La Vie Boheme — Rent Cast
- Punk Rock Princess — Something Corporate
- I Am Fred Astaire — Taking Back Sunday
- The Middle — Jimmy Eat World
- Dammit — Blink 182
WHEW that was a lot to type, but it definitely keeps me going. If you never switched songs it would take you two hours and eleven minutes to complete…that is a 10 minute mile halfsie!
Part Three: Post-Run Replenishing
Normally I am not into special foods/gels/drinks to make you a better runner. Chocolate milk actually does a damn good job or um, water (powerade anyone?). But yesterday my legs were EXHAUSTED. Literally going up the one flight of stairs to my apartment was physically difficult…this has never happened before. So I decided to buy into the whole Born to Runphilosophy and drink some iskiate. Had I needed to go out and buy some it probably would not have happened, but I still had a few packages left over from raiding Leo’s California apartment. WTF is iskiate? It is disgusting to be honest.
It even LOOKS disgusting. All iskiate consists of is chia seeds that have been soaked in water, some lemon or lime juice, and a bit of agave nectar (or your favorite sweetener). The gross part is that the chia seeds swell, which is part of why it is magical (aids in hydration) but makes it taste a little like your water has caviar in it. The longer you leave it to sit, the more gel-like it becomes. Eventually you can eat it with a spoon…I don’t want to think of it. The brand Leo had, Wingfoot Iskiate, adds ginger to offset any running induced nausea.
Chia has high levels of omega-3s (more than flax), antioxidants, fiber, and protein. But it is super light so it doesn’t weigh you down. I would not want to drink it all the time, but I definitely felt better after consuming it yesterday.
Alright all you realrunners out there, weigh in! Favorite songs? Tips for the Stevens’ family? What do you eat/drink before or after your runs? xoxo
Not to worry dolls, I didn’t forget about you yesterday! I was just busy celebrating…wait for it…COLUMBUS DAY! Yes, the man who discovered America actually landed in the Bahamas 500 years after the “first person came to America” (let’s forget those Natives, they don’t count) and promptly raped, pillaged, and enslaved those fortunate enough to be around when he arrived. Totally worthy of our veneration. Actually, I don’t care what holidays we celebrate if it gives me an extra day of lazing playing partying to catch up on everything I have fallen behind in doing. For those of you who still had work and school, I thought you might could use a little cheering up. In honor of Columbus and his Mediterranean heritage, today we are fake-traveling to the Canary Islands. When I was in Oxford a (albeit very very small) group spent the weekend in the Canary Islands, but I am not really used to traveling via hostel and no modern comforts and I didn’t have the money to stay at the Intercontinental, so I decided to sit that one out. In any case I still want to go and as the weather turns chilly here in Mass I thought we would daydream a bit.
Apparently November is one of the best times to go and it is a downright bargain (according to Lonely Planet anyhow) compared to most European vacations. The weather is balmy and perfect for sunbathing, or you might do something a bit more intellectual (who wants to take a Spanish class from a hot Canary Islander? Sangria optional…). Look how breathtaking:
The official tourism site of the Islands calls it a “wellness delight” and the perfect place for mental and physical renewal and tout its revitalizing effect on the mind and body. There is a big focus on health and wellness through different spa treatments and exercise like Nordic walking and yoga. That sounds amazing but um, “heliotherapy” which involves the “element: the sun” and “prevents depression” sounds an awful lot like a pricey pseudonym for sunbathing does it not?
The Tourism Bureau also touts its Volcanoes as a selling point. In addition to hiking or paragliding over the volcanoes, they suggest climbing the ravines or going caving inside some (non-active) parts. This sounds like hell to me but some of you may be into it.
If you want to really lust, like for an hour, check out the official tourism site here but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I’ll be checking in later today with a lifestyle/eats/travel post in one (because that’s how I roll) but until then: Have YOU been to the Canaries? Is there someone else you are dying to go? Anyone want to persuade me that outdoor activities like rock climbing/volcanoing/ravining are fun? xoxo
Bringing back the popular series, we are talking how to be a lightweight. This time we are pretend traveling to…
The weather is absolutely stunning here in Fall and along with the crisp temperatures come beautiful scenery. I live here so I guess my “trip” will last the entire fall but I know of a bunch of people coming to visit in the next few months (and a bunch more that I wish would!). So with that in mind…let’s talk packing!
What to Pack:
One of the greatest things about the Northeast is the outdoors so you will want to actually spend some time outdoors. A lot of the greatest things we have to offer involve a bit of walking. It is wonderful because you don’t have to workout, but you’ll want to dress appropriately both in clothing and shoes. So what to pack?
Breaking it Down:
Step One: Pick a Color Palette — Check!
I went with black, navy, and brown here. It doesn’t SOUND like those colors work together but if you pick the right shades they totally do. Black is black, obviously, but the browns I packed were on the lighter side so they offer a nice contrast to the black without reading like a shade mishap. The navies I picked were on the brighter side so they wouldn’t look ridiculous next to the black piping on the jacket or the charcoal of the sweater.
Step Two: Pick Items for Their Versatility — Check!
Temperatures this time of year range all over the place. In the morning and evenings it is chilly so you definitely want some coverage, but if you are outside at noon and the sun is blazing overhead sleeves feel like too much. Both the blazer and the cardigan can be thrown over any of the lightweight tops and will not get wrinkled. The skinny jeans are a must-have on almost any trip as they can go anywhere…especially if you buy them in a dark wash.
Step Three: Transition Pieces — Check!
Again, this goes back to our versatility rule but not only do these pieces transition through temperatures, they transition through occasions. Wear the jeans, toms, and tank during the day then change into the boots and throw the blazer over your top and voila – instantly dinner-appropriate, even at a fairly swanky restaurant. The scarf and gold necklace also kick things up a notch.
Step Four: Pack Half as Much as You Need (And Twice As Much Money) — Check!
Again, you do not need that much stuff. I packed only one bag, a cross-body messenger. When you are walking all over the place it gets tiresome to hold onto a shoulder bag. This one is roomy but also lightweight. There are only two bottoms and a dress, but you can wear jeans for days (and I would argue leggings as well). Though there are not a ton of tops there are enough to make lots of outfit combinations.
Also you should be warned that the money rule is ESPECIALLY important in the Northeast. Things are more expensive here plus there are so many fabulous things to buy. So start saving now!
Step Five: You Do Not Need More Than Three Pairs of Shoes — Check!
You really don’t. You can walk for miles in all of these shoes but the Toms keep things casual, the embellished flats glam things up, and the boots give any outfit more personality.
Step Six: Accessorize but do so Mindfully — Check!
As you can see, accessories were kept to a minimum here — one necklace, one scarf, one bag. You could add in a few more pieces of jewelry but you do not really need them.
So What Do You Think? Are some of your must-haves not on the list and what are they? Would you have made a COMPLETELY different packing list? And more importantly…are you coming this way soon?
I went to Italy years ago and loved it, but there are about 75 places ahead of it on my Travel List. I am seriously reconsidering that after viewing these photographs, however. I met Schalk and Ian somewhat randomly. I was studying abroad at Oxford and to justify a business trip to visit me my dad planned an informal interview with an old friend (Ian). Afterwards, Ian’s boyfriend Schalk joined us for what to this day is one of the most delicious meals I have ever had. Schalk and I became fast friends through our mutual love of shopping and travel, as well as our vegetarianism.
They went on a yoga trip to Italy not too long ago and then visited some other cities. All of the photos were stunning so it was ridiculously hard to choose which to show you. First up, the yoga portion.
I loved that they did so many unique things on the trip. Most people come back from Italy with 18 pictures of the Colosseum, 25 of the Pieta, and about 50 of Trevi Fountain. Not that these places are not amazing, and not that you should not take pictures of them but I would much rather take a trip like Ian and Schalk’s.
I am almost positive this is on the Italian side of Lake Maggiore, somewhere I am now dying to go.
Thank you so much Schalk, for sharing your beautiful pictures with us! I wish I could have posted them all.
Ever gone on a yoga retreat? Anyone want to now (me me me!)? If you could go anywhere right now, where would you go (And would you miss me when you get there… [Ataris, sorry])? But seriously. If money were no object, where would you go?
We have talked a lot about places to travel and what to bring with you. By now you can tell I have a penchant for exotic locales and big cities, but there is one type of trip that has been noticeably left off so far: the road trip! I do not like traveling in a car, or more specifically, I prefer to travel by plane. If I have the option of a family vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming (driving there) and staying home, I’ll stay home – for a few reasons actually but I just don’t “get” the whole ridiculously-long-drive thing. That said, there are some road trips I have had a blast on. The top three secrets to having your own perfect road trip, below.
Secret One: It is All About the Destination
More specifically, it is about the distance from your start point to your destination. If it is just a weekend trip, plan for somewhere no more than five hours away (including meal and bathroom breaks, and traffic). Ideally a three or four hour trip is nice. You can relax, listen to music, chat, stop twice, and then you will be there. Do not set out for somewhere eight hours away when you have four days. If you have a LONG time, say a few weeks, do not make the mistake of picking one destination that is twenty five hours away from home. Pick five or six locations and hit them all. It breaks up the trip, it is more fun, and you will not feel like the entire trip was driving.
Secret Two: Keep Your Road-Trip Buddies in Mind When Planning.
This trip will go extraordinarily well if you tailor it to the group. That sounds obvious and well, it is. But seriously, think about the group. Let us say theoretically that you are a girl and you are bringing three other girlfriends along. If I am in that group we better know of acceptable hotels along the way — I am not camping in the car or camping at a Days Inn. Maybe you are bringing my down-for-anything bestie Jess. If this is the case you are golden – make her laugh and takes lots of pictures. Or maybe you are bringing my little sister. There better be an available bathroom every 45 minutes on the route you take. Everyone has different traveling styles and distinct needs/wants. Happy friends will make the best memories so do what you can ahead of time to plan for everyone’s comfort.
Secret Three: Pack Snacks and Make Road Trip CDs
Two little essentials that will make the whole trip wonderful. Once while driving home at two am, my road-trip buddy and I blasted the Wicked soundtrack and each sang the role of one of the witches to keep ourselves awake. Now that I have lost half my friends, I will shamelessly admit that it is one of my favorite memories and even now one of us can turn on a Wicked song and be transported back. Another time I made mixed Cd’s with a few of each road-tripper’s all time favorite songs on there, and then some silly songs that everyone in the car could sing along with. If we were road tripping tomorrow my play list for us would be something like:
- California Gurls — Katy Perry
- That’s Not My Name — Ting Tings
- Bed Intruder Song — Antoine Dodson
- I’ve Been to a Marvellous Party — Divine Comedy
- All These Things I’ve Done — The Killers
- I Fought the Law — Green Day
- I Like You So Much Better When You Are Naked — Ida Maria
- What Would Jay-Z Do? — Ben Lee
- You Make My Dreams — Hall and Oates
- All For One – The Cast of HSM
- Hey Soul Sister — Train
- Louisiana Saturday Night – Benjy Davis Project
- I Wanna Love You — The Maine
- Poker Face — Gaga
- Walk Like an Egyptian — The Bangles
They are upbeat and ridiculous, fun to sing along to, and if you do not know the words already we will teach you on the way! Snacks are almost as important. Bring things that are easily eaten and not terribly messy. I love peanut M&M’s, triscuits, almonds, Italian cookies, fruit, and cheese. It is also smart to bring water.
Spill it my sweets: What are your road trip tips? Your Ideal Trip? Your favorite road trip snacks and music?
I am very fortunate to be in a family that loves to travel as much as I do. I have not quite gotten my mom on the Turkey/Ibiza/Cyprus bandwagon just yet, but I have gotten her to do a lot of others. On our recent trip to the Virgin Islands you may recall that we stayed in a Villa. It was a ridiculous villa I will give you that — huge vaulted ceilings, a private pool overlooking the Caribbean, and stunning views. But did you know you can rent places like this (and much more economical ones) in locations all over the world?
We used to always rent or book vacation spots rather precariously — finding what we could online, trying to determine if a place truly was “steps away from the Arc de Triomphe” or “at the heart of Times Square.” And then I discovered this little gem.
The idea is you pick anywhere in the world you want to travel. Maybe it is Atlanta, Georgia (I already have a place to stay there ), maybe it is Antigua. Type it in along with the dates you wish to travel. You can set parameters like number of bedrooms, maximum price, and type of property. Then you hunt away! It also lists similar locations you might like to try.
Airbnb is exactly the same idea, just a different site. You can check both to ensure you find the ideal match for you. How amazing is this? I found that condo in the Maldives for $1200/week! And it slept SIX. Impressive… Sometimes, yes, you want to do the whole private-suite-at-a-snazzy hotel thing. But sometimes you just want to go. To travel, to explore, to be adventurous. You don’t quite want to stay in a hostel, but you cannot swing $300/night even for a jank hotel room in a big city. Enter Homeaway/Airbnb.
Not going anywhere soon? No worries, it is fun to search! Maybe you’ll find an incredible deal and convince your girlfriends to take a spontaneous trip (I’m down).
Have you ever used either of these websites? Have a cheap travel secret? Where do YOU want to go next?
I did not get out for much sightseeing in San Diego last week since I was on business, but with Leo’s company headquartered out there, we have spent a good deal of time in the area. Today I thought we would take a pretend trip out West — the weather is absolutely gorgeous in Southern California this time of year, and there is so much to do.
First stop is one of my favorites: Balboa Park. There are tons of museums (I saw the Dead Sea Scrolls), the Old Globe Theater, an amazing restaurant called Prado, and beautiful architecture.
There is also a Japanese Rose Garden. If you are into meditation it would be an ideal spot, or you could just have a picnic.
Next up, the world famous San Diego Zoo. They just had a baby panda not too long ago. He was still in the “mother’s den” last time I went there. Unlike the D.C. zoo, you can get into close proximity with the bears.
The orangutans and gorillas are always acting up — I usually spend at least an hour watching them. This one kept hiding under the burlap sack, peeking out every fifteen seconds or so, then trying to stuff her entire body back in the sack.
We used to visit the San Antonio Sea World all the time as kids, but the one in San Diego is so lush. Everything is incredibly landscaped and beautiful, and as long as you don’t think too hard about the whole “keeping animals in captivity and making them do tricks” thing, it is a lot of fun.
If you feel like a day trip, Disneyland is a little over an hour away. If you are obsessed with Sonic Drive-In, this is the closest one around.
Another option? Beautiful Coronado.
You could also head to La Jolla. There is a beach full of seals, great shopping, and a cave that seems eerily like the Harry Potter one where Voldemort hid the horcrux. Now that I have lost about half of my readers, a warning. If you like to cycle in the “Audrey Hepburn visiting the market in France” kind of way (I do!) do not take a bike tour from Hike Bike Kayak. It was actual exercise. La Jolla is great though. Even on overcast days it is a blast.
You can also head to Catalina Island if you would like. You can zip-line, scuba die, go shopping, and apparently take a ghost tour (who knew?).
There is a fabulous mall in San Diego called Fashion Valley where I try to spend at least a day when I am in town. You can also head to Hollywood and LA, down to Tijuana (I wouldn’t!), or see the Padres play.
I prefer international travel but while we are on the subject, where is your favorite place to go in the US? Anything in San Diego I missed that is too much fun?
I love gifts. That sounds awfully spoiled and self-centered, but in truth I love giving gifts as much as I love receiving them. There is an unparalleled treasure to be found in picking out the perfect gift for someone and realizing that they love it as much as you thought they would. It does not matter if the gift costs $10 or $1,000, it truly is the thought that counts. One of the best kinds of gifts, though?
The gift here is compounded by the fact that the receiver also gets a package in the mail – something that is almost always great. It is also more fun for the sender (at least if I am the sender) because you can really get creative. I have such a blast putting together packages for people and so much fun receiving them. The last care package I received? A ginormous bag of homemade Italian cookies courtesy of one of my best and oldest friends.
Essential Elements of the Care Package:
- A letter. If you care enough to mail a package, take it a step up and include a letter.
- Something ridiculously silly — I once received a light-up shot glass.
- Something to eat (I don’t make these rules).
- A few of the receiver’s favorite things.
- An actual gift.
There are of course tons of reasons for a care package, most notable is ‘just because.’ Some ideas?
Care Package One: The Back to School Care Package
I was making one of these for one of my favorite people, but then they turned out to be a douche so….mission aborted. I can still think of tons of people to send this to though!
This care package includes:
- an argyle sweater (nothing says back to school quite like argyle)
- Bacon Band-aids (too funny Fred Flare)
- Index Cards
- A CD of study music or fun music…or both
- Minibar size bottles of their favorite alcohol
- A planner
- Highlighters, flags, pens, and notebooks
- Energy Bars
- 5 Hour Energy shots
- To-go drink mixes
- Homemade cookies
Care Package Two: The Housewarming Care Package
Everyone moves eventually, and what better time to send a gift of new home must-haves?
This care package includes:
- A bedside caddy for storing books, the remote, and Junior Mints if you are my godmother
- An Edgar Allen Poe action figure — he would look perfect by the fireplace, no?
- A fancy candle
- An (extra) flashlight
- Measuring cups or other kitchen gadgets
- A surge protector, because you can never have too many
- A nice bottle of wine
- Barefoot Contessa baking mix
- A DVD that, as my mom says, “doesn’t make you think” for watching after a long day of unloading boxes
- Personalized stationery with their new address included
Care Package Three: The Sympathy Package
Whether over a broken heart or a broken arm, one is never quite as in need of attention.
This care package includes:
- “Mr. T in your pocket”
- Fake Gerbera daisies, because there is no happier flower
- Bad News Bears or another DVD that is pee-your-pants funny
- Whiskey — best to get the full-sized in this situation
- An eye mask for when they want to sleep the day away
- A first aid kit, to help heal wounds, even if it won’t help this one
- Junk food and lots of it
- Shit My Dad Says the book
- Trashy magazines
- A gift card to an online retailer so they can indulge without having to leave the house looking like shit.
- As much chocolate as you can fit in the box
In the mood to send a care package now (I know I am!)? What themes would you pick besides mine and what would you include?
Summer for most people brings to mind trips to the beach, ice cream, and Fourth of July celebrations. Summer brings me back to this place:
There is nothing like England in the summer. The record high is 80 degrees, and there are thousands of things to do. While Paris gets touted as the City of Love, I actually find London incredibly romantic. There are beautiful green spaces to hold picnics, stunning architecture, and so many things to do. Proof that you don’t have to spend tons of money once you arrive? The book I bought my friend Allie for her birthday: 1000 Things to do in London for under 10 Pounds.
In addition to the city, public transportation makes it a breeze to take day or overnight trips. Bath holds the famed bath houses (and a chance to taste the natural mineral water, which supposedly has healing properties). Canterbury boasts the place of Thomas Becket’s murder, the Canterbury Cathedral, and the Marlowe (like Christopher) Theatre.
Oxford, home to the Oxford University Collegiate system, is ripe with history and things to do (Pub crawl all 68 pubs in the tiny town!) including the grave of J.R.R. Tolkien, the favorite hangout of the Inklings (C.S. Lewis and Tolkien’s writing group), and the marvelous experience known as punting on the Cherwell.
England is just a host of fun and holds some of my fondest memories. I’d love to go back soon!
Anyone jonesing to go somewhere particular these last few weeks of summer? Have an annual trip you look forward to? I would love to hear!
If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed I had a few…issues this weekend. Friday evening began the worst headache I had ever had. I considered taking myself to the ER, but every time I stood up the room went black so this did not seem like a good idea. By Sunday I had had nothing to eat since Friday at lunch and had not moved from my bed since Friday at 10 PM. This was not okay. Did I mention I left early this morning to fly across the country (literally — Boston Logan to San Diego)? Ahhhh….two liters of fluid, two shots of anti-nausea and a hefty dose of Toradol later, I was at a (mostly) functional level. Functional enough to finish my work projects anyhow.
Now that you know that you will understand why this round of How to be a Lightweight is not as, well, snazzy as the first. Not to worry, in the future they will be up to par, but I wanted to show you how to pack like a champ for an entirely different purpose: a business trip.
My company is fairly liberal in that they do stem-cell research in other countries to get past those pesky US laws, but I was uncertain as to how liberal the dress code is. I e-mailed a friend of mine to ask about sleeveless tops with 1″ straps. Her reply was something along the lines of “well you are an intern and meeting everyone for the first time…it should be fine.” But remember one of the most important rules from last week? Dress for the job you want not the job you have. I was not going to dress like an intern! Here is what I packed:
Left to Right: The Outfits
Outfit One is a pair of black cigarette pants, a Kate Hill watercolor sweater, and a linen scarf.
Outfit Two is a daisy-print dress I have had for ages. It hits right above the knee, and the sleeves make it work appropriate. As you can see it has a bib-front, so no inappropriateness there, but the belt gives it shape.
Outfit Three is a Kate Moss Ikat tank with a short-sleeved cardigan over it, belted over a navy-on-navy plaid slightly-tulip skirt.
Outfit Four is the same cigarette pants as before with a black and white striped tank (not pictured), and a seersucker blazer.
Outfit Five can be work appropriate, but it is fitted and cut to also serve another purpose — after dinner plans! It is a Banana Republic T-shirt dress. If I get to work on Monday and think it alone might not suffice, I can throw the blazer over it. I don’t actually need another work outfit but in case something happens to the others.
Outfit Six is for the plane ride home — skinny cropped jeans (very hot for Fall 2010) with a boyfriend sweater.
As you can see, all of the jewelry and the three pairs of shoes I packed will match all of the outfits. It all wouldfit in a carry-on but the company allows me to check a bag and Leo keeps some serious swag at his apartment, some of which I plan to bring back to Boston. If it tells you anything he told me to “stick to the $60-$80 bottles of alcohol, not the $400-$500 bottles.” Yes sir! He also keeps Greens + bars, a couple of different back massagers (don’t mind if I do!) and lots of five-star hotel bath products.
The trick for packing for work is just like packing for any other trip: pick a color palette, pick items for their versatality, and don’t be ridiculous. And of course, know what is expected of you. Wining and dining clients? Giving presentations? Volunteering? Pack appropriately!
I’ll be posting regularly my dolls and I hope you’ll be checking in.
What do you wear to work? Any outfit combinations I need to try out? Stellar packers that want to guest post? Let me know!
Hello, my sweets! Though I hated to leave the beauty of the Virgin Islands I am glad to be back in my own home and with my crazy dog. That said, the Islands are amazing. Have you been? I thought I would share a few of my pictures if you would like to see, as well as tell you what we were up to.
I left early early Saturday morning and arrived at the St. Thomas airport at 1:00 PM. I knew it would be a good trip when my dad greeted me with, “Heyyy Rach! Grab a couple of those shots of rum…you will need them for the drive!” The drivers were not as crazy as Bostonians, but the roads were narrow, up and down mountains, and opposite US roads (driving on the left side as opposed to the right). We headed straight from the airport to Magen’s Bay.
Sunday we visited Lindquist Bay and then had a chef and sous-chef come to the Villa to make us dinner for my mom’s birthday. We spent the entire day laughing at the parking agent (I guess that is what she was?) at Lindquist. She was in a magenta Blazer wearing head-to-toe purple: big purple earrings, purple eyeshadow, fake purple lashes, purple shirt, etc. She was terribly inconvenienced by our questions. The sign said, “Smith Bay Park” so we asked where Lindquist Bay was. Blinking rapidly she replies, “You here. The old map says Lindquist Bay, the new map says Smith Bay Park…you must have an old map.” Keep in mind we are in the middle of the freaking woods so then we ask, “Okay well where is the beach?”
“The beach is err-where.”
“Wellll where is the water?”
“It’s behind the trees…it’s all over.”
“Okay so where should we park?” (there were two directions we could go)
“You park where-err you want to…it don’t matter.”
She was just trying to get rid of us. The funny thing was that everyone we talked to the rest of the trip — tour guides, natives, staff — called it Lindquist Bay. But homeguh insisted we just had an old map.
Monday we spent all day on a Catamaran. It took us to St. John and to four different hidden spots for snorkeling, beach time, or just hanging out. They had a full bar and served breakfast and lunch so we had a blast. The very last stop on the tour? Lindquist Bay! Monday evening we died laughing over Antoine Dodson, to the point that I had to make an extra post here as I was sure I could not contain myself until Friday afternoon when I usually post links.
Tuesday we went horseback riding. I don’t love horses but whatever, I figured it would be fun. Except when we looked up the website online the night before and most of the pictures showed happy tourists riding donkeys (WTF!?) And then we realized it would take two hours to get there. For a one hour horseback ride. Yyyyyeah. My horse didn’t really want to be there (can you blame him!?) so he wouldn’t move, then it started raining, then the guide picked a random branch off the ground and told me to keep whacking the horse until he moved–UGH. But we were back to the Villa by 1:30 or so where we sunbathed, hung out, napped, then went out to dinner.
All in all it was a fabulous trip — one that was much needed. I did not take many photos of the Villa, but it was incredible. It hung off the side of a mountain and was completely private. In addition to being ridiculously large, it came with maid service, outdoor dining areas, tons of outdoor couches, Internet, and lots of helpful information. You can view it here if you would like.
Have you been to the Virgin Islands? Any requests for where I wanderlust (real or imagined) next?
In Elementary school we learn that the Civil War was about “the South wanting slavery, the North wanting to free all the slaves.” Any amateur historian can quickly denounce this simplistic view and explain how complicated the war really was. It was about different perspectives, different economies, and basic human rights (of people in both the North and the South). Okay Rach…but WTF why are we talking about the Civil War? Because before I road-tripped it up to Boston, I also never realized that we have intrinsically different views on driving. Seriously.
Before you get all “but Boston is SUCH a big city” … I have driven through big cities. I have driven down streets so narrow that it feels like your side mirrors are going to scrape the cars driving in the opposite direction. I have driven down windy roads that have no names and suddenly end on what can only be the (abandoned…hopefully) set of Children of the Corn (oh hey, Stanley, LA). But nothing prepared me for driving in Boston.
In the South we can drive recklessly — we don’t always stop at stop signs, we tend to do 10-15 over the speed limit, and there is a large faction that believes yellow lights mean “speed up.” No big deal. Boston drivers drive like they are playing the arcade game Crazy Taxi. Every. Single. Day. Of. Their. Lives. They drive 30 over the speed limit in a TUNNEL for gods-sake. They would rather have a wreck with you than let you into the next lane. There are no parking lots unless you are going to the likes of Best Buy and most streets are one-way (and often change names arbitrarily).
After demanding a GPS system to navigate my way around town (and only when absolutely necessary), I began to feel more at ease driving in Boston. Confident, even. Except for one section. Every single time my GPS has me “turn left on Quincy street, then turn right” I realize I am in the middle of effing Harvard Square in my big-ass Explorer and start to hyperventilate. But…other than that I am fine….kind of.
To understand the Turnpike debacle you must first understand Louisiana tollways. We don’t really have them. And the ones we do have (especially in nearby Dallas) are clearly marked from miles away “Approaching Toll. Left lane Fast Pass, Right Lane Cash.” And we also have signs that say something to the effect of “do not drive through before instructed or we will slash your tires with the spikes directly in front of you.” Okay so it isn’t quite that dramatic but seriously…some of them will damage your car.
SO….I drive to nearby Newton for a standard medical procedure, arrive with no problem, find parking, I’m in and out and ready to head home. I hit “go home” on my nuvi, fully expecting to go back the way I came. Instead I suddenly find myself on the Turnpike. OMFG, what is this?? Okay, I tell myself…no big deal. Then out of NOWHERE, I see two signs. Want to see roughly what they look like? (I didn’t think to capture pictures at the time.)
I have zero cash on me. Not a dollar bill. Not even a nickel. NOTHING. I don’t know exactly what I was thinking (clearly I wasn’t) and the signs were there before I knew it, so I picked the “Sponsored by Citizens Bank” lane on the left. I probably had some delusion of handing over my debit card (Boston is a terribly advanced city) or I don’t know…writing them a check?? But before I know it I am in a lane with NO operator in the booth (which I could not tell until I arrived at the window) and a huge delivery van pulls up behind me. Great.
I had about three seconds to decide what to do before Delivery Man starts laying on the horn. My solution? Put on my hazards and go talk to the toll booth operator in the next lane. IMMEDIATELY after I exit I hear “Get back in your vehicle. I REPEAT get back in your vehicle.” It reminded me of (don’t make fun) the part in Princess Diaries when Anne Hathaway’s character steps on the grass of the Embassy and a loudspeaker says “Get off the grass! GET OFF THE GRASS!” and then repeats it in ten other languages. I try to explain myself but homeguh (picture Queen Latifah) was having none of it. Terrified that something ridiculous is going to happen to my car I drive through, bracing myself against the tire blowout. Nothing.
I called the TollTag company as soon as I arrived home but they would not do anything until “my violation” arrived. It came in a few weeks later for a cool $50. Seriously!? I wrote them a letter that basically said “I’m a silly little girl from Louisiana, I didn’t know what to do and probably shouldn’t be driving. I will be glad to pay you the price of the tollway but I am a graduate student; I cannot pay $50.” I wanted to add “particularly when your damn parking cops give me tickets arbitrarily” (within 10 feet of a stop sign? because I forgot to take down my temporary parking permit even after I had a real one?).
So what happened?? I have no idea! It has been over a month and I still have heard nothing. My fine is officially due August 27th so if I don’t have notice by the end of the week I guess I’ll have to call them.
Anyone else have crazy-ridiculous driving stories? Or been caught on the tollway with no cash? What did YOU do??
Hello from Saint Thomas my dolls! A few weeks back I showed you how to be a lightweight packer. But for those of you visual learners I thought it might be useful to see some real-life examples. In this version, we are all pretend-traveling to a fabulous locale. There will be amazing views, lots of beach and pool time, and a few athletic adventures. What are we bringing? Well I can’t speak for the rest of you, but here is what I am bringing:
Step One: Pick a Color Palette — Check.
I did black, navy, and yellow and threw in a bit of cream for good measure. Every top matches every bottom in turn, so there are 1,000 different outfit possibilities.
Step Two: Pick Items for Their Versatality — Check.
As you can see, every item is incredibly versatile. All the bottoms are neutral (cream and denim) and can be worn with any of the tops (the two button downs are short enough to not look ridiculous with shorts). The linen pants and tanks roll up to practically nothing and are so easy. The rest looks better wrinkled than it does ironing board straight, so we are good there as well.
Step Three: Transition Pieces — Check.
Both pairs of shorts and tanks can double as beach cover-ups, and the linen pants are perfect for lounging about in the evenings. The boyfriend jeans can look casual with sandals or be dressed up with a button down and espadrilles. The bikini can also work as lingerie in a pinch (I kid, I kid).
Step Four: Pack Half as Much as You Think (And Twice As Much Money)
It is so easy to overpack on a vacation such as this one — a new swimsuit for every day! beach cover-ups! three pairs of sunglasses! lounge clothes! dressy clothes! No. No, no, no. I packed one extra tank top. The end.
Step Five: You Do Not Need More Than Three Pairs of Shoes (Maybe Four) — Check.
In a pinch I could have brought two pairs of shoes — the sandals and the gym shoes. In addition to refusing to wear gym shoes outside of the gym, I also refuse to wear flip flops outside the beach. I know. So I was going to just bring along the TOMS and be done, but those espadrilles were my one indulgence. I walk my ass off around Somerville/Cambridge/Boston so I do not get to wear them nearly as often as I’d like. And they are precious. So I agreed (with myself?) to wear them on the plane so they would not take up a lot of bulk in my carry-on.
Step Six: Accessorize, But Do So Mindfully — Check.
My jewelry pouch is so small that it fit in the make-up, essentials, shades pouch. I brought along a key necklace, my watch, a garnet ring, and a pair of earrings. I also brought my fedora and a Bondi Band headband.
Addendum: Little Extras
As you can see, I followed my Travel Essentials as well. The neck pillow and eye mask are a must, and my water bottle of course (gotta stay hydrated!). There was no need for Wrinkle Releaser as all the clothes I brought are meant to be a little wrinkled. The picnic lunch was a catch-22. I could not pack one as I have been on the Poverty Diet the past ten days or so and the (literal) content of my kitchen included mayonnaise and a half-empty jar of peanut butter. Clearly my Hebrew final took a toll on me because I decided to stop at Whole Foods (deli section) to pick up my picnic. I guess I was thinking in terms of Oxford, where a picnic lunch can be had for $4. I walked out of Whole Foods with a salad for tonight, and a plane meal for…drumroll please…$24. WTF I could have bought an entire week’s worth of groceries at Market Basket but, oh well. My Kindle holds all the beach reads I’ll need, though I did bring along my favorite book in paperback as well.
Step Six: Pack It Up! — Check.
Everything you see in the image above (plus some randoms like the DVDs my sister asked me to bring) fit into:
Are you impressed? It really did not take a lot of effort, just a few tough talks with myself. I could not bear to leave behind my Ojon shampoo and conditioner and shuddered at the thought of having to use my sister’s Herbal Essences, but I also was determined not to take my suitcase. Solution? $1 plastic bottles from Rite Aid which I filled from my regular toiletries. I packed only one workout outfit, but I made it Lululemon head-to-toe so that it would dry quickly (and I could handwash it in the sink between wears) and I would be excited to wear it. My family isn’t big on sunscreen and I am a bit of a fanatic, so I gave my mom the specific type I wanted (Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Waterproof Body Mist SPF 70) and she agreed to buy it and pack it in her suitcase. The rest fell into place once I followed the Lightweight Packing Rules.
Anything you would have done differently? Did I leave something out you would NEVER leave home without? I hope this was helpful and if not, how can I make it more so?
We have not wanderlusted in a while my friends and I think we should bring it back. Today we are figuratively headed to the beautiful Cyprus. Cyprus, an island located south of Turkey, is unique in that it combines rich cultural history (dating back to the Neolithic Period!) with absolutely stunning surroundings. In the very same place you can see all of the things featured below:
They also have all sorts of festivals and cultural events going on each month including festivals, expositions, dances, and concerts. Still not convinced? Allow me to introduce you to Aphrodite Hills:
On the resort is two options for accommodations. You can rent a private villa starting at $1370 for the week or stay at the Intercontinental Hotel located on the property.
Not so into Aphrodite Hills (what is wrong with you!?)? There are a host of rentals on Air BNB, including a small apartment in this complex for only $68 a night!!!
Cyprus is definitely on my list of places to visit in the next decade or so. Anyone out there been? Want to come with me? xoxo
We talked earlier this week about how to look pulled together on your trips without carrying eight suitcases. But what about traveling comfortably? Here are a few ways to make your trip (by air, sea, or road) a little more luxe without spending much money OR adding much to your luggage.
Essential One: The Neck Pillow
I know they are dorky and kind of ridiculous, but good ridiculous. You can practically sleep standing up with one of these around your neck. They do not take up much room and they cost less than $20. I promise you will be so happy you bought one. I even brought mine on the three day hike up to Boston when I moved and the second I was out of the driver’s seat and put this on, I was out like a light. No matter what time of day too because of my…
Essential Two: Eye Mask
I get even more flak for my eye mask but I wear it faithfully. It is all fun and games looking out that picture window at the night sky until 5 AM comes and the sun lights up your room like a theater stage. Maybe one day I will splurge on a cute, fabulous one but for now I use free/cheap ones and they work fine. Between this and the neck pillow, you can sleep any time anywhere. And that is worth all the ridicule in the world.
Essential Three: Wrinkle Releaser
Maybe you are somewhere without an iron or maybe you are just too lazy to use one (that would be me), but this stuff works wonders on even the most wrinkled garments. No more worrying about your interview suit or dress for your cousin’s wedding — problem solved.
Essential Four: A Picnic Lunch for the Plane (Or Road) (Or Boat)
I know a lot of you are really broke (I know I am) and there are two things I hate about road food. One is it is just plain gross — I don’t want to eat McDonald’s or Taco Bell or even Smoothie King and also pay twice as much for it. Though you cannot bring liquid through the security line, there are no rules against food. Some quick ideas: sandwiches, grapes, oranges, apples, cut up vegetables, cheese, dried cereal or granola, or nuts. You can buy a drink at the airport, or even a side salad but this saves tons of money and is just plain better.
Essential Five: Books and Magazines
Obviously you cannot bring War and Peaceor The Big Book of Whatever. But you can bring a book or two or a couple of magazines. Maybe a sudoku or crossword…whatever your choice is. They pass the time, they make layovers, traffic, and delays seem more bearable.
Essential Six: A Reusable Water Bottle (Empty)
No you cannot take liquids through security but you can take an empty bottle and fill it up at the water fountain. Planes are super-dehydrating and carrying one around naturally makes you drink more.
Any other must-haves on the list? My iPod comes with me everywhere but I think these days everyone’s iPod comes with them everywhere so I did not add it. What are some of your trip essentials?
I used to be the worst packer ever. Well, maybe not the worst, but I always over-packed. And even if I didn’t over-pack in the sense that I had eight outfits leftover at the end of a ten day trip, I over-packed in the sense that I could have gotten by with less. Take for example, my study abroad in Europe. I was gone for roughly eight weeks and had formal dinners four nights each week. In an effort to avoid overpacking, I meticulously crafted a packing list separated by category with each item carefully described (oh yes, I am that girl). On the list? 20 tops, 14 bottoms, and 12 dresses in addition to outerwear, shoes, workout gear, toiletries, snacks, and pajamas. Oh and the shoes — there were 15 pairs. In my everyday life I take a lot of care on my appearance so this list really was quite reasonable. I wore everything I brought, a lot of it more than once.
But I look at that list now and realize how ridiculous it was compared to the packer I am today. I can go on a week-long trip with a standard-size carry-on (well now that mine is broken I suppose this is impossible until I get a new one but theoretically) and not feel at all as though I am on an Outward-Bounds adventure. How? Allow me to show you in a few simple steps.
Step One: Pick A Color Palette
With your basic wardrobe (not including accessories) it is essentialto pick a color palette. Three to four colors, two of which are neutral, and the other one or two that blend well. I wear a ton of black so my typical color palette is black, cream, and red. If you love brights your palette could be royal, Kelly, and white or pink, orange, and chocolate brown. Look at items in your closet by their colors and see which ones you gravitate towards.
Step Two: Pick Items for Their Versatality
My number one on every packing list? A pair of perfect-fit dark rinse skinny jeans. They can be dressed up or dressed down, cuffed to make crops, and most important, can be worn a number of times. I love my cute red skinnies and my light grey ones, but they usually never make it into my packing list because they are not as versatile. Remember, you can wear these clothes when you arrive home. Same with tops, you want a couple standouts, but pack for lightness and versatility.
Step Three: Transition Pieces
My skinnies also go on this list, but the single most important item? My blazer. I have a black blazer trimmed in cream that I swear is in half of the pictures of me. It dresses up a T-shirt, dresses down a cocktail dress, and for most locales can take the place of a light-weight jacket. Transitional pieces could also be a scarf, your favorite LBD, or a pair of espadrilles.
Step Four: Pack Half as Much as You Think You Need (And Twice as Much Money)
I can never follow the second half of that rule, but I have the first one down to a science. It is stressful leaving things behind that you might need but there are always shops around. If you absolutely need another T-shirt, I promise you can find one there. But 99.9% of the time, you will be just fine with what you have brought. Typically I make each item last at least two wears (with the exception of tops I will be in all day) and make my transitional pieces (blazer, scarf) add the personality. Plain Tees in flattering cuts take up little to no room in your bag, but add a blazer or a scarf and you have a legit outfit. This rule is especially true for …
Step Five: You Do Not Need More Than Three Pairs of Shoes (Maybe Four)
Seriously. You don’t. Gym shoes if you are into that kind of thing, one pair of flat, can-walk-miles-in type pair (see: this post for ideal suggestions), one pair of dress shoes, and one pair of flip-flops if the locale demands it. You do not need three pairs of cute sandals, four pairs of heels, and slippers. I adore my Frye boots, but they only make the list if I plan on wearing them the majority of the time because they take up SO much room.
Step Six: Accessorize, But Do So Mindfully
No, jewelry does not take up much room and yes, it can dramatically alter an outfit, but still take caution when packing it. Pack one to two sets of “everyday jewelry.” For me this is an over-sized watch, a ring, and a key necklace. I can wear it with every outfit and it steps things up a bit. Then I throw in two pieces of statement jewelry. It depends on your palette but a chunky, interesting necklace or a cool set of cuff-links (guys) can take a plain shirt and pants up to the next level.
Step Seven: Pack it up!
There are going to be a few more items on your list, clearly but keep the above guidelines in mind with them as well. Your workout clothes get grubby five seconds after you start to sweat and you’ll shower after…do you need a new set for each day? NO. I shudder at the thought of having to use hotel shampoo and soap, but I don’t bring along my 12 oz. bottles of Ojon and Fekkai either. Use miniatures (even two to three minis take up a LOT less room than a full-sized bottle).
There you have it! My tried-and-true packing tips to get you in and out of the airport in minimal time while still looking fabulous.
How do you pack for a trip? Any Must-Have Items I left off? I’d love to hear!
My mom swears I come up with the most random places to visit, but the Maldives are actually a fairly popular tourist attraction (just not in LA where everyone wants to go to Gulf Shores). A cluster of islands in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives population only totals a quarter of a million and their highest point is a mere seven feet. Year-round the weather hits between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit with a sea breeze that dissipates the humidity. That alone should make you want to visit. Still not sure? Check out the image below:
If money were no object I would stay at one of the Four Seasons’ Sunrise Beach Bungalows. They offer a private infinity pool off of your nearly 900 square foot deck, a tub with views of your private courtyard, and an outdoor shower. Doesn’t it look amazing?
Since that villa is a little unrealistic even for my own delusions, I searched one of my favorite websites, Home Away, where people rent out their vacation homes. This villa in the Maldives is less than $1200 for an entire WEEK. It is three bedrooms, two baths, has air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, Satellite TV. It also has a private beach and comes with the use of a nine-person speedboat to take out onto the water and visit neighboring island. I’m sold!
Three rooms? That is only $400 per person/couple for an entire WEEK. I say we visit the Maldives my friends. New Years Party, anyone?
Boston has experienced a serious heatwave as of late. You Louisianians may laugh, and I’ll give you that it is MUCH hotter in LA. But a few weeks ago the weather in Boston hovered around 60°-70° and lately it has been in the 90s. While I will probably feel much differently come February, right now I am dreaming of visiting somewhere cool.
Not Polar Bear Club cold, but in the 50s and 60s. You know where fits that range perfectly? Iceland. “Iceland??” you might ask. “WTF!?” But hear me out. Actually better yet, hear Iceland out. To boost tourism they have started a campaign called Inspired By Iceland. Check this out, but before you do, I should warn you to suffer through the ridic girl at the beginning – I think she is the exception not the rule.
How awesome does that look? I love the wide-range of scenes and activities, from swimming to the geyser (is that a geyser?) to the beautiful terrain. If you visit the webpage: Inspired By Iceland you’ll find things to do, a place to book flights, and more videos made by Icelanders. BONUS: in the summer, the sun rarely sets.
If you still are not convinced, check out the following photographs:
Who is with me? Anyone, anyone, Bueller? Would you go to Iceland? What did you think of the video? Let’s chat.