With all of the fees and mishaps associated with large check-in luggage these days, a chic carry-on is the way to travel. As someone who has globe trotted the past year I recommend packing as light as possible. Once you think you have everything needed for your next vacation, edit out half the contents. You'll see...
With the money you save from avoiding baggage fees you will be able to buy yourself a bag that makes you feel like you are always headed somewhere fabulous:
Saltbox Geo Travel Bag in Kiwi
So what to do with all of of those over-sized, clunky luggage options you once wheeled through MSP, JFK, SFO, LAX, ORD, MCO, LGA, & heaven forbid, EWR?
I spied this image on one of my favorite style/decor websites, Black White Yellow, where they had found it via the magazine Sköna hem. Upon further perusal of the online version I found myself falling in love with the simple yet bold designs featured in the magazine. Perhaps it is the quarter Swedish in me? Unfortunately, it is all in Swedish and I don't understand even a quarter of Swedish so all I could do was look at the pretty Scandinavian decorating images without having any idea of the sources or subjects. If anyone could help me find the icon button to switch to the English version (or better yet, teach me Swedish), I would be very grateful.
Their mission is to create a place where any art lover can be an art collector. It just so happens this place is on the Internet. Curator Jen Bekman and her team select one new photo and one new work on paper a week at various price points and print editions depending on the size of the work (and I mean every price point - $20!!). I find this to be a very approachable entry into the world of fun and contemporary art as well as an introduction to many thought provoking artists. Browsing the lot of pieces brings out quite a reaction even if you would never consider buying it yourself.
I'm thinking because it reminds me of our December 2008 weekend trip to Mexico which feels oh-so-far-away at the moment:
The only "problem" with finding so many affordable prints is that I haven't found an affordable framing option so the bounty of my collection is safely rolled away in nondescript cardboard tubes in a dark corner of the bedroom. Perhaps the Internet can save us on this front, too? A girl can dream.
The Likes of Lucy does not include ironing. In fact, I have no qualms about embarrassing my family and companions with my inappropriate, wrinkled state just so I don't have to go through the pressing process. But now that I am of a certain age, I should try and be slightly more presentable. So...
I'm dreaming of steaming!
Joy Mangano My Little Steamer
Whether you go with the regular or "go mini" size, this tool will surely smooth things out for you without the pain. The size and design is user friendly and the powerful steam is surprisingly effective. They are sold out on HSN.com but I found a great deal on a brand new one off Ebay.
Oh, and they come in a rainbow of colors. Look at this steam team!
I kind of also love the product name mainly because one of my favorite childhood toys was:
Well, maybe not love - but some practice can't hurt.
Card games. As a child I played the usually suspects: Go Fish, Old Maid, Uno...I also played a lot of solitaire (perhaps having something to do with being an only child?). I remember enjoying cribbage but never remembering the rules. Other than that, I wasn't into cards.
Recently down in Florida I was introduced to a few card games that I thought only existed in the mid 20th century and possibly only on 60s sitcoms: Casino, Canasta, and lastly, Bridge. All of these games contained too many rules for my liking. I mean, I never read the written rules to board games, laugh at gadget instructions, and cut any kind of wash & care information out of my clothes and linens before they've left the bag.
The trick is (no pun intended) to be taught by someone who knows what they're doing and has a load of patience. Playing with people you like doesn't hurt the situation either. Yes, there will be some frustration and confusion, but slowly you will learn (and win!) and become addicted. Now that we are no longer visiting Florida we play online (www.pogo.com) which saves us shuffling (note to self: learn how to properly shuffle) and is only inferior when you want to kick your partner under the table for his/her unexplainable move. It's fun. It's relaxing. It's challenging. It's quality time spent together. It's a new skill.
So try a hand of something. Pick a card, any card.
I was made aware of this circle of goodness in a Food Network episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Sidenote: check out that show but only when you have food in the house because it will make you so ravenous that you will look twice at the dog treats.
The Willy Wonka who created this perfection (well, perfection minus the bananas) is Max Brenner. I am lucky that a 20 minute subway ride will satisfy my cravings but I see there are other locations worldwide. Hooray!
Those who know me well can predict that the banana section will need to be rotated as far away as possible and consumed by my dining partners, but the marshmallows and caramel sides make up for it.
Jamie Oliver. Top Chef Seasons 1-6. Julie & Julia. Blogs. The Food Network. Dining out in New York City. Whole Foods. Fairway. Bon Appétit.
All of the above have inspired me to be more involved, detailed, and adventurous in the good life of a foodie.
That, and um...I love to eat.
Our kitchen collection has been gaining and refining as we figure out the whats and hows of our gastronomical journey. Special thanks goes to Leannis, who passed on many of her tried and trues to our household. There are so many fun tools to play with while brewing up a tasty dinner that I could start a whole new blog in honor of them, but here are six that were particularly indispensable in 2009, followed by six I hope to acquire during 2010.
1. Latte Bowls:Anthropologie sells these porcelain jewels that come in a spectrum of hues and make you feel like you are in a Provencal cottage while enjoying your oatmeal, organizing your mise en place, or just admiring them nestled happily together on the shelf.
2. Parchment Paper: Keeps baked goods from burning & sticking and creates little pouches of heaven when baking/steaming fish and veggies (en papillote) with basically no clean up.
3. Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer: The king of the kitchen from creaming butter and sugar to creating the perfect batter consistency all the while saving you many an arm cramp.
4. Digital Scale: This little guy helps you realize how much you are consuming ("That's a serving of cereal???") especially when you are trying to watch your caloric intake. Not that you need to. You are perfect just the way you are. Smokin' hot, in fact.
5. Reversible Cast Iron Griddle/Grill: As city folk, we have no outdoor space hence-no grill, but this has become a worthy substitute for creating those appetizing grill marks on salmon and asparagus. Plus turn it over and you have pancakes on the weekend!
6. Micro-planers: If the Kitchen Aid Mixer is the King, these are the little minions behind the thrown that have all of the real power. Different sizes for different tasks. Some pecorino to finish off your pasta dish? Check. How about some extra lemon zest to your citrus glaze? Check. Even a dash of fresh nutmeg as that secret ingredient that no one can guess? Check!
1. Bamboo Steamers: We've been trying to make healthier dinners and I think one or two of these bamboo steamers would be a no nonsense way of preparing fish and veggies. Maybe I would even attempt dumplings!
2. Slow Cooker: With the winter months ahead my mind goes to stews, chilis, soups, and other old fashioned and hearty meals. I also remember needing one when I had a huge corned beef slab to make last St. Patrick's Day. I'm not settled on a specific brand but I do think the oval shape is smart and a locked down lid would be handy.
3. Cast Iron Skillet: How come we always go back to the tools our ancestors used? A good, large cast iron skillet is on my wish list for stove top to oven creations. It would also come in handy if I needed to knock an intruder unconscious...
4. Mezzaluna: I love fresh herbs almost as much as I despise chopping them. How come mine always end up in a green Chia Pet-like ball? I definitely need one of these. Ch-ch-ch-Chia!
5. Silpats: Like parchment, these make baking a breeze - but reusable!
6. Cheese Knives: Cutting the cheese seems more classy with the right utensils (cue: lame joke). I loved this bamboo set from Anthropologie, but since it is long gone I will need to keep my eyes peeled. I already imagine myself having more dinner parties.
I try my best to use eco-friendly household products even when they don't work as well as the chemical versions.
But then I met this fellow:
They really are MAGIC and I use them any chance I get: drains, faucets, oven, baseboards, light switches, wall scrapes, shoes (yes, shoes!), cabinets, microwave, tiles, bikes...
But in order to clean all of the above there must be some toxic ingredient that creates three-eyed fish in the rivers, colorless poisons in the air, and other nasty results. Right? But I just can't bring myself to abandon such an efficient and useful product. I just can't.
So if I am using all of this magic, does that make me a witch? Hmmmm...
How do vampire's spend their weekends? Just hanging around? (wah-waaaah) Enjoying a bite? (wah-waaaaaaaah)
I loved Vampire Weekend's 2008 self-titled album which was introduced to me by Douglas (if you think you have more music than him, you don't). We were on a business (for him)/pleasure (for me) trip to San Francisco and spent much driving time with VW blasting from the convertible.
The preppy, playful, repetitive and infectious tunes make me bop. Actually bop.
Most of the time I don't understand what they are saying and when I do, I can't identify with the rich-y privileged angst the lyrics exude. And what exactly is the genre? Indie? Calypso? Ska? Afro-pop? Synth? Not sure, but who cares.
OK, not much, BUT according to InStyle Magazine we both like our hair to have that "Oh hey there, I just spent the morning at the beach and I am filled with sunshine and a devil may care attitude, Namaste amigo" type look. There is nothing like that slightly raw and clean feeling of sea salt in your locks that has been dried by the sun. We can't all go swimming in the sun everyday (although Kate probably can) but we can be masterful pretenders:
David Babaii Bohemian Beach Spray will give you that added volume and texture that comes from a day playing in the surf and sand. Use it on wet or dry hair and you will look JUST like Kate Hudson.*
John Masters Organics Sea Mist has an essence of lavender which is especially fresh and calming at the end of the day. If you shower at night, spritz a generous amount through your hair, combing through with your fingertips, pile it all up into a messy bun and when you wake up you will have a imperfectly wavy do and feel like you spent the night at an English seaside resort.
Monday brings thoughts of clean slates which become to do lists that turn to an impossible length and create futile obsession.
That's why my to do list notebook looks like this:
Apparently, this image was created by the British Ministry of Information around the beginning of WWII as propaganda to be passed out if the Nazis invaded Great Britain.
I suppose their problems were a wee bit larger than mine but the message is still sound in present time.
It was never used on the home front but rediscovered in 2000 at a second hand bookshop called Barter Books. Now it is everywhere: decor in baby's rooms, offices, in decorating magazines, as door mats, on mugs and key chains, and yes, of course, the cover of my to do notebook.
I love the industrial sized print and the crown emblem. Also, the bright red that contrasts with the message's tone. It's just so British.