Summer Packing List

I have a serious case of wanderlust – unfortunately, it’s not going to be fulfilled anytime soon, so I have to content myself with imagined packing lists.  And who knows, maybe it’ll get so bad that I have to come up with imagined itineraries!!  For those of you traveling this summer, maybe this capsule wardrobe will help you out – in my mind, it would be great for a trans-European tour covering at least a few weeks, and I think it would all fit in a carry on bag + personal bag.  Happy travels!
Summer Packing List
If you want to know where any of the items in the above image came from, just click on the image and it will take you to Polyvore, which can link you back to the individual items.

Mood Board: Tween Girl’s Room

Here’s another mood board that I was working on recently – I was thinking about what a tween girl may like in her room and decided to go with bright, vibrant colors that are both classy and fun.

The room is definitely girly, but not in a frilly kind of way, and it’s definitely not a serious room – just a lot of fun.  My jumping off point was the rug, and I found art to coordinate, but obviously that could be customized to fit the girl’s tastes.

I think my favorite parts are the bed, the various brass/gold lighting, and the teal/lime fabric for the curtains (pictured below the bed).  What are yours?

Tween Girl's RoomIf you’d like more information on any of the items in the mood board, just click on the image and it will take you to Polyvore, which is where all of the links/prices/etc. are stored.

Have a great weekend!

Summer in Europe Packing Mood Board

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted (understatement of the year), and hopefully I can get into something of a regular posting rhythm again over the next couple of months.  Life has gotten busier than usual, and that’s really the only excuse I can throw out there for not posting.  That, and once I stopped posting regularly, it became easier to keep not posting.

So to get back on the proverbial horse, I figured I’d make up a mood board of what I’d pack if I were going to Europe this summer for a few weeks.  In my imaginary vacation, I’d be in Europe from early May to early June – perfect weather, and you still get to beat a lot of the summer crowds (in my experience from studying abroad and then traveling after the semester was over).  I like shoulder seasons for traveling; you get a lot of the weather perks, but don’t have to deal with the lines.

For this mood board, I used navy and grey as my neutral colors, and then pink and aqua as my accents.  I have a lot of those colors in my closet, and they’re also pretty easy to find in stores at the moment too.  Everything should be able to mix and match, so you can fit all of this plus your toiletries, undies, socks, and pajamas in a carry on bag (why pay fees if you don’t have to/why wait at a luggage carousel when you’re in Europe???).

Summer in Europe

On the plane ride over, I would wear the jeans, ruffle t-shirt, sneakers, and faux leather jacket.  They’re some of the biggest items, so they would take up the most room in my bag otherwise.  I would also carry a Le Pliage bag by Longchamp in large, since I could put my liquids bag, my Kindle, and other flight necessities in there and shove it under the seat in front of me on the plane.  Finally, I’d accessorize with the infinity scarf, sunglasses, world necklace, and chunky bracelet.  I’d also have a watch on (one similar to this) that I could set to local time as soon as we landed.

There are two purses on the mood board – a larger bag for schlepping personal items on the plane and between locations, and another bag that is a smaller cross-body bag.  I’ve started using a cross-body purse for my everyday life, and I really like it because it’s light and pretty much hands-free.  I’m not totally sure if I could manage a European vacation with a bag that small for my everyday carry, since I like to have maps, itineraries, tickets, and a water bottle with me when I’m out and about.  But I figure it’s worth a shot, and if it doesn’t work out, then I could always use the larger bag.

Cardigans are a staple in my life – I love throwing them over a sleeveless shirt or t-shirt and looking more pulled together.  They’re also good during shoulder seasons, since layering is key.  And obviously, they cover your shoulders in case you’re in a more conservative area, or visiting a church.

Two skirts are key.  Between the skirts and a pair of jeans, you have a lot of good options.  In Europe, I like skirts better than shorts because they’re a bit dressier, and generally, they’re a bit longer.  I’m not a fan of the super short-shorts, and I just don’t really feel like they’re appropriate if you’re going to museums or churches.  But that’s just me.  Plus, skirts are cooler in the heat.

I think having a dress is a good thing as well.  You can dress this one up or down, depending on the accessories you use with it, so it could go from a day of sightseeing to a nice dinner in the evening.  And it’s an all-in-one outfit, no thought required.  I’ve yet to travel with a dress for an extended time, but the next time I’m in Europe, you better believe I’ll be packing one.

I know most people would probably pack a couple of bathing suits, but I’m not one to go to Europe for the beaches, although they can be a nice side trip if you have time.  I want to be there for the history and the museums (and realistically, the food).  Hence, only one bathing suit for me.  But they pack tiny, so it’s easy to add another one if you’re going to be spending more time on the water.

Finally – the accessories.  Scarves and jewelry can really add something to an outfit, and make you look sooooo much more pulled together.  Besides, if you mix up your accessories, you can look like you’re in two different outfits, even though your clothes are exactly the same.

I lump shoes in with accessories, and three pairs are usually more than enough for me.  Flats, sandals, and converse sneakers all pack really small, so they’re also easy to justify having.  Between them all, you should be pretty well prepared for a variety of weather and activities.  I also like having all of my shoes work with all of my clothes, so I don’t feel locked into “this pair of shoes can only be worn with this dress/skirt/whatever.”  That defeats the mixing and matching principle you need to have to travel in just a carry on.

So what are your thoughts on my packing list?  Would it work for you, or would you need to pack more (or less)?  If you want more details on where the items on the board came from, just click on the image above, and it will take you to Polyvore.  All of the individual items are linked from there.

Happy Monday!!

Favorite Things: 2013 Edition

Last December, I joined 320 Sycamore’s Favorite Things party, and I really enjoyed putting that post together.  Since it’s that time of year again, I thought I’d do another, and link up to the party, so you can read everybody else’s favorite things!

13 in 2013

1.  This little vacuum totally changed our stair-vacuuming experience (I realize that that is a super important thing that everyone should be concerned about).  We have a really awesome Dyson that does a great job on all of the other floors in the house, but trying to use it to vacuum the stairs was a major pain in my duppah.  As soon as I received the box from Amazon, I vacuumed the stairs, and I may have even been smiling while I was doing it!  Bonus points for being pink.

2.  Continuing with the cleaning trend I apparently started, I love Method floor cleaner.  It gets up all the dried dog drool (thank you, Bauer) and it smells amazing (like almonds)!!  I bought this back in January as part of my start the year clean and with less chemicals campaign, and one bottle lasted a good long time in our house, even though I was mopping once a week.  I think I replaced it sometime around September or so, and it was used on our bamboo floors on the main level of the townhouse.

3.  Over the summer, I was working on building a better traveling system, so I wouldn’t have to pack and unpack quite as many things whenever we went somewhere.  I picked up extras of all of our electronics cords and batteries and chargers, and while I was at it, I also picked up an extra set of brushes (I’ve forgotten them at home more than once, which is super annoying, since I generally pack from some sort of list).  I love these brushes from Real Techniques – they’re super soft and give you a real smoke-screen/air-brushed glow.  I almost want to pick up another set, just for home.

4.  I love my Minnetonka slippers – they’re all nice and fuzzy and warm, and since I have cold feet All The Time, having awesome slippers is kind of a big deal.  I wear these mostly in the winter, but it’s not totally unusual to see them on my tootsies over the summer as well.  They come in a bunch of colors, but I figured the grey would hide most/all of the dirt, and so far, it seems to be working.

5.  Last October, I started reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, and it seriously rocked my socks.  The books tell a story of a woman who time-travels to Scotland during the 1700s and falls in love with a Highlander.  The romance is amazing, and there’s enough historical information in there that you can confidently say the books are historical fiction (they reference things that we learned about when we were visiting Edinburgh).  I would devour the books, and it still took me about six months to get through the entire series (definitely worth your money to get the Kindle bundle).  The next book in the series comes out next spring, and mine is already on preorder with Amazon.

6.  Brandon got me a three-piece luggage set last Christmas, and I Love It!  They go everywhere with me.  For the most part, I’m able to fit everything in the smallest suitcase, which is perfect carry-on size, but I’ll probably use the medium one for visits longer than a long weekend.  I love that they’re pink and hard-sided, so things don’t get squashed.  And they have four-way rolling wheels, which is so nice in airports (or anywhere for that matter).  My current set seems to be sold out, but here’s a link to one that’s similar.

7.  Old Navy’s flannel pajama pants are so cozy.  Maybe not right out of the box, per se, but after a few washes, they’re the softest things going.  I have a pair from a couple of years ago, and they’re my go-to pajamas pants.  The only way they could be better is if Brandon would let me put flannel sheets on the bed, but he’s totally nixed that idea.

8.  Almost a year ago, I repainted the study with Benjamin Moore’s Coventry Grey.  Grey paint is incredibly hard to get right on the first attempt, but we managed to do it (after harassing the paint people for a while).  When I had it next to some other paint chips, it looked like a very tan grey, but once it was up on the walls, it was perfect, and in the study, it reads as a true grey, without any weird undertones.

9.  Back when I was planning what to pack for our Europe trip, I found an image of this scarf.  I didn’t buy it right then because $70 for a scarf is kind of a lot (like $60 too much).  But it kept popping up in my mind, and a while back, I thought to look for it on Ebay!  I can’t say I saved $60 off of the list price, but I did save a little bit, and I’ve worn it enough to make it pretty darn cheap per wear.  Lesson learned – always check Ebay before buying expensive things, especially if they’re out of stock.

10.  My grey Converse sneakers are awesome.  They’re just a little bit hipster, but they’re also super comfortable and look good with a lot of different things (skinny jeans, flared jeans, skirts, shorts, you name it).  I’m not a fan of big clunky sneakers (also known as athletic sneakers), and it’s tougher to find a fashion sneaker for a woman than it is for a man – somebody please explain it to me.

11.  Pitch Perfect may be one of my new favorite movies.  When I was at Penn State, I would go to the a cappella shows each semester.  Since I can’t sing, I really value the talent in others, and it’s really just mind-blowing to see a cappella in action.  And Pitch Perfect has plenty of singing, some dancing, and a lot of sass.  Whenever I watch it, I just feel really upbeat and energized afterwards, which is how you know it’s a good movie.

12.  My mom’s friend teaches calligraphy, and over the summer, she gave us a crash course.  Since then, I’ve been doing calligraphy on all of the birthday cards I send out – it still takes me a good amount of time to form the letters, but it looks so pretty and I like putting in the extra effort.  When we had our initial lesson, we used Zig Calligraphy Markers, and that’s what I’ve been using since.  They come in a bunch of different colors, which is good, since I like to coordinate the color I write with to the colors used in the card’s design (OCD much?).

13.  Last, but not least, is Barre3.  It’s awesome.  I started back in the summer, and I loved it.  It’s a mix of Pilates, Yoga, and Ballet.  And I get all gross and sweaty, but I don’t feel like I want to die at the end of if – I feel like I could take on the world.  This is totally my kind of exercising, and the best part is that I can do it at home, where nobody can see me (because I’m awkward and not coordinated at all).  I got away from Barre3 while we were working on the hallway bathroom because the study/exercise room became the “holds all the bathroom stuff” room.  Now that the bathroom is done, it’s time to get back to Barre3.

So that’s that – my 13 favorites in 2013!!  If you’d like to see more examples of people’s favorite things (I know I do, since it’s a great way to learn about new products), just click on the image below, which will take you to the link party.  Merry Christmas, everybody!

favorite things 2013[6]

31 Days #fail

So, you remember about two weeks ago, how I was going to write for every single day of October?  I had an idea, and I was going to run with it…and it lasted for about a day (as in, I got the intro post up and stopped).

Life got busy (we started moving forward again in a big way with the bathroom) and work got busy, and blogging time went down the drain.  Maybe if I were better prepared, I would have had drafts of all my posts, but I think that kind of kills the point of writing every day.

I may still try posting every day, but realistically, it’s not going to happen soon.  I like having a decent idea and a semi-well-thought-out post written when I actually publish something.  The first 31 days post felt rushed and not up to my standards.  Definitely something to think about for next October.

I think I also got a bit intimidated by other bloggers.  There are a LOT of people out in the blogosphere that are amazing writers and photographers, and some of the ones I read regularly were doing 31 days.  And I just couldn’t match what they were doing, so I stopped.  Not a good reason for stopping, since blogging is supposed to be about my thoughts, not someone else’s.  Still, it played into the “not actually following through” bit.

Pretty much, what I’m trying to say is this – I’ll post when I can, about what I feel like, and hopefully there will still be people out there reading, despite sporadic posting/random topics.  I’m hoping I can come up with a good mood board for later this week – keep your eyes peeled!

31 Days of Forever House Ideas

If you read a variety of blogs, you may have noticed a lot of people talking about the 31 days challenge, where you blog about one topic for 31 days.  Most people have very clever titles and have been thinking about topics for months.  It’s kind of a big deal in blog-land, and in general, a good writing exercise.  I’m a bit late to the party (considering day one is almost over), so I’m going to go with a topic near and dear to my heart – my dreams and ideas for my forever house.

Brandon and I have been looking at real estate listings ever since we started dating (we were those people).  Most of the time it’s just to make sure we’re both on the same page, or at least in the same chapter.  And who doesn’t love looking at house plans or houses for sale online?  It’s a fun hobby, and I think it’s helped us narrow down what we want in a home.

Over the next 30 days (today’s post being 1/31), I’ll be talking about what I want in a house, from having closets near entries to the type of chicken coop I want in the backyard.  I’ve never actually made a real list of what I want in a house, it’s all just been in my head.  Wish me luck!

I’ll be linking back here with all of my posts for the entire 31 days, so if you want to read it from beginning to end, this is the page to bookmark.  All of my other posts will also have this sweet button (that I made!) at the bottom of the page, and it’ll link back here.

31 Days Button

If you want to see all of the other 31 days bloggers, you can visit The Nester’s site - she’s the brain child behind it all!

A Bathroom Update – Why It’s Important to Shop Ahead

We ran into a bit a of a scheduling snafu.  I had everything all lined up – what we were going to accomplish during the week, what was going to get done over the weekend, the whole nine yards.  It was a glorious list.  And then it died.

This is the tub I have picked out for our bathroom, from Lowe’s.  It’s a fiberglass tub, which is what we have in the master bathroom and I love it.  We took out a steel tub because it was just too noisy – the bathroom is right over our living room, and you can’t hear the TV when someone is in the shower.  I also didn’t want an acrylic tub because I think they feel cheap.  And cast iron was never going to work – there’s no way the two of us were going to carry 400 lbs of tub up our stairs.

So Brandon and I went to Lowe’s with our rather long list, totally prepared to get everything we’d need for the bathroom remodel.  (If you’ve ever done a large-scale remodel before, you know there is no possible way to get everything you’d need in just one trip to the hardware store – unless you have a really great stash of useful things in your basement, and we’re not there yet.)  Our first stop was in the bathroom department, so we could get the tub.  And that’s where we hit our first bump in the road.

Our Lowe’s doesn’t keep tubs in stock in their stores – they have warehouses all over the place, and bring them in from there.  And our tub would take about two weeks to come in.  So much for my great timeline.

We ordered the tub and decided we could do other small jobs in the meantime, so we picked up the rest of the supplies we had on the list.  The tile for the floor also had to be ordered, and that would come in around the same time as the tub.

About a week and half later (the tub came early), we went to pick up the tub and tile from Lowe’s one night after work.  Once we got it home, we opened the box in the living room.  In case there was an issue, we didn’t want to haul it all the way upstairs, just to haul it all the way down again.  A better option would have been opening the box in the store, since the tub had a *big* crack in it and needed to be returned anyway.  So back to Lowe’s we went.

I didn’t want to wait another week and half for another tub to come in, so it was time to do more research and find a different tub, probably not from Lowe’s.

After shopping around a bit, I settled on this tub, which I found at Home Depot.  It’s enameled steel, which I didn’t really want, but it’s for a guest bathroom, and it was in our price range.

One tip – when you find something you like, always Google the model number.  As long as it’s not a store brand, you should get a bunch of hits, and then you can price compare.  Home Depot was the lowest price with the quickest turnaround – and we could get it shipped to the store, so we wouldn’t have to pay any shipping charges.

So I ordered tub number two – and six hours later, I got an email saying that it was back ordered.  #tubfail

I call Home Depot customer service to see what the issue was, and they couldn’t provide a date that the tub would be back in stock.  Next, I called American Standard, the manufacturer, to see if there were any production issues causing the delay – there weren’t.  But they did tell me that they make their tubs to order, so there is usually a two-week turnaround time.  That really wasn’t going to work for us, especially since we were already two weeks behind at this point.

The following week, I was talking to another woman on the HOA with us, and she mentioned a plumbing supply place nearby that might have the tub in stock.  I called Northeastern Supply in Bel Air, and they had the tub!  Labor Day weekend was coming up, and they wouldn’t be open on Saturday, but Brandon could pick up the tub on Thursday afternoon – the pieces were finally starting to fall into place!

Lesson learned – ALWAYS make sure you have EVERYTHING on hand BEFORE starting demo.  It may make the rest of the house cluttered for a few weeks, but it’s so worth not having to run around trying to find what you need at the last minute.

We were finally starting to move forward with the project again!  It’s been slow-going so far, which is why I haven’t had tons of updates like our last bathroom, but we should be able to make some more progress this weekend, so I’ll be back next week with plumbing updates and hopefully some other small changes.  We’re getting close – I can feel it!