Thursday, July 28, 2016

July Budget

Where did this month go?! Oh right, down the travel drain... Considering that I spent most of this month getting on and off of planes, trains and automobiles, I did some damage. Thanks Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (still going on, check out my recs).  Thankfully, everything, for the most part, will transition beautifully to fall and added some much needed pep to my closet!

Diff sunglasses // $50 (25% off if you use this link, seen here)
LOFT Circle Skirt // $20 (seen here)
LOFT Pull on Pencil // $20
LOFT White Jeans // $25
LOFT Olive Jeans // $25
BP Scarf // $18 (similar)
Caslon Knit Blazer // $38
Leith Stretch Pencil Skirt // $31 (similar)
Caslon Pants // $49

Total // $251
Quarterly Budget // $500 - $251 = $249 left for August and September!

Definitely spent a little more this month than normal, but I also got 9 things, most of which will serve me well going into the fall.  For next month, I'm actually hoping to avoid picking many things up - my closet feels pretty complete for right now, so it's just about buckling down and getting through the last of the oppressive heat!

Fit Notes // I ordered all the LOFT stuff in my usual sizes and everything fits great. The striped pencil skirt isn't too tight that I'm self conscious, which is great.  The circle skirt is a little see through, which can be tough with tucking things in, but it's not too noticeable.  I ordered a size down in the Caslon pants, which was a good move, even with my body shape.  The scarf is ENORMOUS, which I love, but it's definitely like having a small monkey hanging off my chest when I wear it (not that I've ever actually experienced that, but I'm using my imagination).  I'm obsessed with the blazer - it's tailored enough to look sharp, but is effectively a sweatshirt.

EDIT - I ended up returning the floral skirt. It's not double lined (unlike the LOFT skirt) and was very bootylicious for working with teenagers. Oh well.

Linking up with Fran and the other budgeting bloggers!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

10 Tips for Cross Country Roadtrips

I got back on Saturday from a cross country road trip - Portland, OR to Boston, MA with a friend and her dog.  It was my first time doing anything like that (both the driving and the friend vaca!).  Previously, my longest road trip had been 8 hours in one day, which was an hour shorter than our shortest day. I loved getting to see more of the country, and loved having the flexibility of the car, and learned a lot, which I'll hopefully use for my next trip!

1 // Plan ahead, kind of

One of the things that worked really well on my trip was that we scheduled hotels etc about 18-24 hours out.  That way, we could take the previous day into account (long day, short day, any mechanical problems etc), but still have a solid plan for the next day. I would struggle with not knowing where we were sleeping that night, and I'm pretty sure I would have poodled on the last hour or so of driving if we didn't have a stop place already booked.

2 // Eat healthy

This was my biggest regret from the trip.  I was completely sedentary for 5 straight days, and ate crap (fast food, packaged snacks etc) for the first 2 days. I felt awful.  The next day, I nearly cried with joy when we stopped at a gas station that solid fruits and veggies and ended up making a bag of baby carrots dinner. While I'm all for some treats, you'll be miserable if you spend the entire road trip inhaling sugar and chemicals.

3 // Pack carefully

Not clothes necessarily - yoga pants, the whole time, but in the car.  I had a tote bag at my feet in the passenger seat with water, snacks, chargers, a scarf, my book etc, plus my pajamas and toiletry bag.  That meant that, no matter what, I could reach pretty much anything I could need without needing to root around in the bag or disturb the driver. Key for making it 11+ hours.

4 // Have lots of things to listen to

I preloaded podcasts (Savage Love, Revisionist History, Pop Rocket, This American Life etc), made tons of playlists that were available offline and had a few audiobooks queud up.  It was key that we had options - that way, we didn't get too bored. I also loved that both of us had preloaded things, so we were able to swap favorites, introduce some new options and keep it interesting.

5 // Be flexible

My absolute favorite part of the trip was when we decided to get off the interstate and go through Badland National Park. It was gorgeous, and such a nice break from I-90. Having my friend be willing to indulge my bison hunt (success!) and need to photograph every.single.scenic.overlook. And I just got over the fact that her dog needed to be walked and managed and stopped caring that it added time on.  Our trip was a success because both of us were willing to bend.

6 // Have non-negotiables

This may sound counter-intuitive, but have things that we both needed, we were able to frame our trip way more easily. I was not willing to drive late at night, wasn't willing to sleep on a crap bed and didn't want to miss the sights along the way. My friend wasn't willing (obviously) to stay at a dog-friendly hotel, hates hotels without walkable restaurants and wanted to go a certain route. Those frameworks were essential in our planning.

7 // Start early

To a certain extent, this is personality based, as both my friend and I are early risers, but it was amazing for us to get up and on the road before 7, so that even on our longest days, we were in the next hotel by 9 pm, which meant we could decompress and get a good nights sleep.  I suppose if you're better late at night, do the opposite, but I found starting and ending early to be pretty awesome.

8 // Do something fun every day

I regretted not doing this the first day - if there's nothing to break the day up, it's pretty awful.  What the something fun is will differ pretty dramatically, depening on what you like, but find something.  We stopped at this amazing drugstore/general store/cafe/etc one day, Badlands were another, a mini hike another, etc.  They were the best parts of the trip and made it feel like a vacation, rather than an exceptionally long commute.

9 // Get some solo time

Considering we spent between 10 and 14 hours in the car together every day, having alone time at the beginning or end of the day was essential. Typically, we would sort of alternate getting ready, and each of us would nap in the car when the other was driving. Roadtrips can be tough for introverts, but making that a priority for myself really helped.

10 // Have an opinion

The first few days in the car, I really struggled with my friend, because every time I asked what she wanted to listen to or eat, she'd reply "I don't care" or "doesn't matter to me!", which was really hard.  It's not fair to make the other person choose everything - I had decision fatigue by like hour 4.  Have an opinion and make decisions, don't rely on whomever is travelling with you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Nordstrom Sale Picks

Right now, there are two kinds of people in the world - those obsessed with Pokemon and those obsessed with the Nordstrom sale. I fall firmly into the second category.  The sale opened for cardholders last week, but everyone can shop starting on Friday and prices go up on August 8th. Now is absolutely the best time to start fall shopping, despite the fact that it is hot enough that I start sweating just thinking about going outside... Below are the things that I'm loving/buying.

red pants
top (15 colors!)
blazer (5 colors)*

The sale is giant, so it can be very overwhelming to shop. My favorite ways to break it up is to focus on high quality basics - jeans/cashmere/coats etc (like the jeans and leggings above), and to make a game plan before going in. I knew I wanted a couple of more fun bottoms, including colored pants, and a more structured cardigan/sweater for winter. The scarf was just for fun, but I feel like an 18 dollar splurge is pretty good...

*what I actually bought.

Monday, July 18, 2016

101 in 1001 Update

It's been another 6 months since I did an update on my 101 in 1001 list, and I've knocked a handful of more things off the list. One more year left!

Total completed // 56
Left to complete // 45

We're past the halfway point, and I've completed almost 20 since my last update, so at this rate, I should get everything done.  Well, everything except the Spanish duolingo. I don't see that happening.

My favorite that I've completed my last update is probably reading 100 books and climbing a mountain.  The books took me longer than I expected, probably because I basically stopped reading for about 4 straight months. Must remember not to do that again. Also failed at watching all the Best Picture noms for the year. Thankfully, I can try next time too. One of the issues was that I didn't even start thinking about it until nominations were announced, which means I had to see all of the movies in a relatively short time. Next go round, I'll do my best to predict nominees and start seeing them a little earlier.

I'm still loving this challenge. Some of the goals were a little lofty (looking at you, spanish duolingo), but I've pushed myself to travel more and spend my money smarter.  I'm grateful that my family will be in the Caribbean together in November, where I'm hoping to knock a few things off the list, and it's looking a trip to California might be in the cards for next March, which would be awesome. And I think I may just shut myself up in my house and attempt chocolate cake next weekend. We shall see.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

48 Hours in Montreal

Last week, I visited Canada for the very first time. Which is ridiculous, considering it's only 6 hours away and I've been to 15 other countries, all of which are across an ocean.  I had a few extra days off, so I headed up to Montreal!  I only had about 48 hours there, which was enough to get a taste of the city, but I definitely wished I had a couple more days to spread things out. My basic schedule was to go north on day one and east on day two (map at the bottom)

Where I Stayed // I got an AirBnb in downtown, Montreal, right by the main shopping street, Rue St Catherine. I liked the location, but in retrospect definitely would have stayed in Old Montreal, which was by far my favorite area.  The AirBnb thing is key - it's so much easier to travel when I can cook and spread out a bit, plus this place came with free parking, which was amazing.

Maison Christian Faure // the park // bagels on bagels on bagels // Old Montreal
What I Did //

Jean Talon Market // It's a monster food market, with tons of ingredients and prepared food. It's a little out of the way, but absolutely worth the trip. I basically just wandered around for a while and took it all in. Perfect if you're a photographer of any kind.

Notre Dame Basilica // I lucked out and got there right around when a tour was starting and absolutely recommend doing it, if possible (1:30 most afternoons). The tour gives you a ton of information that you wouldn't otherwise find out, and gives you access to a few areas of the space that are off limits on your own. You do have to pay to go into the Basilica, but it's so, so worth it. The space is stunning, and there's plenty to look at.  I wouldn't go if I had little kids with it, as there isn't anything to do, per say, but I wouldn't miss it otherwise.

Mile End and Old Montreal // Two neighborhoods in opposite directions, both of which I LOVED wandering. Tons of cute little spots, great architecture (especially Old Montreal) and great people watching.  I spent about 4 hours in both areas and probably could have gone back.

The Park and The Mountain // I wandered through the park a few times, and loved the little oasis inside the city it provides. There were a tons of people doing all kinds of crazy things there, so it really felt like a piece of true Montreal.  I did not climb the mountain, but will the next time I go. Perfect for a picnic or to take a break from the hustle and bustle.

Notre Dame // Ice cream at Kem Coba // Christ Church Cathedral // street art
What I Ate //

St Viateur and Fairmount // BAGEELLLSSSSS. Basically the main reason I went to Montreal. Apparently, bagels are made in a special way in Montreal, so I felt the need to take a survey in order to figure out which was better. I got half a dozen sesame from each, and very happily would have sat in each of the shops for eons - they smelled of unicorns and love and bread and joy. Take me back. Cash only, FYI

Aux Vivres // Fabulous vegan/vegetarian restaurant. I stopped in around 3:30 on my first afternoon there and was able to spend an hour enjoying an amazing mango lassi smoothie and homemade tempeh burger. Everything was delicious, the menu was huge and the staff were great - happily left me alone, but helped me navigate the options when I need it.

Robin Square // By far my favorite meal of the trip.  It's a teeny little family owned and operated restaurant that gets RAVE yelp reviews. I went for lunch, when they have a more limited menu, but that didn't bother me much. They had a few vegetarian options, including their famous mac and cheese, but I went with the pasta of the day, which was a mushroom linguine. It was so good I ate it one noodle at a time to make it last longer.  Major bonus points for the incredibly sweet staff, who noticed I was reading while I ate and did everything they could to not disturb me.

Maison Christian Faure // Um, cake. Wicked good cake. Like, focus solely on what you are eating, stop talking to me, I need to give this all that I have cake. I truly regret not getting a few to take home to eat alone and in secret.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Lo and Sons OG Review

Remember when I reviewed the Lo and Sons Pearl and said I was definitely going to end up with all the bags at some point, because they're perfect and I am addicted to bags? I got another one, and I am even more heart eyes/praise hands emojis over it, cause it's a tote bag.  And I got it secondhand (in like new condition) for 70 percent off. I'll admit, I didn't neeeeed another tote bag, but look at it! It's perfect!

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Why I Love It

Size // Somehow, this bag holds e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g and looks good doing it. I don't know if it's the shape or the (14!) pockets, but it holds more than my Dagne Dover AND is way more comfortable to carry. The handle drop is perfect, though I imagine if you are more petite than me (5'6") it might look a little ridiculously large.

Travel Flexibility // As I mentioned above, my camera fits in there, which makes me crazy happy, but more than that, the bag is designed, at least in part, for air travel. One side of the bag zips open to make a little slit that roller bag handles can fit in, which is the coolest. Also, the outside pocket has spots that perfectly fit a passport and a phone, which makes navigating an airport way easier for me.

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Functionality // Pockets are one of my love languages. I like to have places to put things.  And if those places are plentiful and sized perfectly, all the better. Among my favorite pockets is the one in the middle, which is where I stick my gym outfit or wet umbrella or something else undesirable. And the pocket rolls up and tucks out of sight when not in use. Also, padded laptop sleeves are the bomb.

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Why I Don't

Material // This is more of a love/hate thing, but the bag is nylon (handles are leather).  While I love the wipeable/indestructible aspect of that, it doesn't look quite as professional/fancy as a leather bag. Again, not a deal breaker, but it's worth noting, depending on your situation.

The OG is available here, as well as it's baby sister, the OMG and all the other gorgeous Lo and Sons bags - they do have periodic sales if you're a more patient person than I am (though there are a few things up to 40% off until 8/1).

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