Mighty Life List
Nov 23 2009

Packing Light: Laura Mayes, Happy Dress

This post is all about me refraining from “pot of gold” jokes. I humbly request that you admire my restraint.

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This is Laura’s beachwear. The rainbow dress is from Target, the shelf-bra tank is Banana Republic, and the flip flops are Rocket Dog.

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I know you saw this headband coming — also from Target.

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Is there a blogger left who doesn’t own one of Andrea’s Superhero necklaces? There should be a secret handshake. Obviously, Laura is wearing hers as a bracelet.

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Her actual necklace features a Thoreau quote, “Live the life you have imagined.”

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Laura’s glasses are from Urban Outfitters. I suspect Laura made an Urban Outfitters run before this trip. Fess up, Mayes.

And there you go. Pretty good for one little carryon, especially since we didn’t even touch on what she packed for New York. She probably just paired this with leggings and a scarf. Voila! Business casual.

Laura, thanks for your patience with my camera, and for your willingness to spit in the face of jetlag. You make things more fun.

Nov 19 2009

Packing Light: Laura Mayes, Accessories

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This photo makes me so happy. It’s the quintessential traveling-with-the-girls shot.

Anyway, here’s an example of how some very slight changes in accessories help you stretch your travel wardrobe. You can dress for a day of sightseeing, and then just make a few changes for dinner without packing a separate outfit. Laura’s Gap flats and her black sundress from Urban Outfitters both pack down to almost nothing.

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My lord, I love this hat from Urban Outfitters. I want to see her toss it jauntily in the air Mary Tyler Moore style. Laura Mayes, you’re gonna make it after all.

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Laura’s oversized vintage locket is from Uncommon Objects in Austin. She’s the only person I know who has actual photos in her locket. This makes me feel that she can be trusted. Laura would never read your diaries while she’s house sitting.

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Here Laura swapped the sunglasses and hat for a felt headband from Saks and a pair of shell earrings from Claire’s. The effect is slightly dressier, and now we can head out to share a bottle of wine. Let’s do.

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Nov 18 2009

Packing Light: Laura Mayes, Outfit 2

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Laura called this vacation her “planes, trains, and automobiles trip” because every mode of transportation was involved — including boats — and all of us dragged our suitcases along. Laura usually packs by stuffing a massive suitcase with anything at hand and then crossing her fingers. But with so many location changes she knew the steamer trunk would grow tiresome, so she made it a goal not to check her bag.

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Packing light for Greece was a particular challenge because she had a few days of business meetings in New York tacked on the end. I unfortunately didn’t get shots of her NYC outfits, but she managed to fit everything into a carryon by heeding my advice to pack all dresses and items that can do double duty. This is Laura’s swimsuit coverup, which doubles as a dress for daywear.

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Update: Laura said in comments, “Also, the dress/cover up was purchased from a street vendor in Cozumel. For about $4. I know. I hate my own guts.”

Tomorrow, one dress done two different ways.

Sep 14 2009

Athens Street Art

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There are a few more up on Flickr.

Many thanks to Intel for sending me to Greece as part of their Sponsors of Tomorrow Campaign.

Sep 11 2009

Packing Light: Greece Edition

If you’ve been reading long, you already know the drill from my packing posts about New York and Puerto Rico. I don’t like to check luggage if I can help it, so I try to fit everything in a carry-on and my laptop bag. This is what I packed for two weeks in Greece. It’s eight outfits total, and my plan was to wear everything twice, but on different islands.

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This is my favorite vintage dress. It’s cotton and it has pockets, purrrr. Great for visiting churches when I’m traveling, because it covers the shoulders and knees, but it’s cool and easy to move in. I can also plop down on the ground without worrying I’m flashing everyone, so it’s good for traveling with the toddler too. The shoes are my navy saltwater sandals.

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Because it’s cotton, this dress wrinkles in the suitcase, so Bryan taught me a trick from his acting days. Head into your hotel bathroom with the dress on a hanger, turn the shower on hot, wet a washcloth, wring it slightly, and then pat the dress down. The little wrinkles will fall out with the steam, and the wet washcloth takes care of the big ones. I just put the dress on damp and let it dry on me, but you can also let it dry overnight.

The glasses are a drugstore purchase from years ago, the headband is an elastic 99-center from H&M. So useful, that I actually gave Melissa one when we were in Puerto Rico, because she lamented having lost the ones she picked up in San Francisco. You need one too. More on that later.

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This is a simple black, drop-waist dress that I got for $7 at a thrift store when I was in college. On the plane, I wore this with a pair of black leggings, my trusty slip-off gold flats (see Puerto Rico post if you’re curious about those), a pale blue cardigan, and my swimsuit wrap worn as a scarf (the wrap also doubled as a blanket). Again, I’ve failed you in photographing my travel outfit. Don’t think I can’t hear you cursing me from here.

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I think the dress is rayon, but it reacts to water like crepe — either way, it doesn’t really wrinkle. I bought the hat for 10 Euros in Santorini, because I didn’t pack a sunhat. Which was dumb. Be ye not so dumb, my traveling friends.

The purse is from Buenos Aires, the necklace is my favorite, a gift from Bryan purchased at Rare Device. I can’t believe I’m blanking on the artist’s name. One of you knows, I’ll bet. Let me know in comments, and I’ll update.

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These are the same shorts I took to Puerto Rico, they’re Rocawear. The shirt is a men’s undershirt, Hanes I think.

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The brooch is a long vintage silk scarf that I made into a flower shape and pinned to my shirt with safety pins. Because I am crafty.

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Oh man this dress is so good. Also vintage, and unfortunately polyester — the yucky kind. I got past it though, and it’s great for traveling.

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Bryan brought back the bracelet from a work trip to China. All my cool jewelry is from Bryan.

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The gladiator sandals were my main shoes for this trip. They’re surprisingly comfy, though buckled a little loose in this photo. They’re from Delia’s, which is a teen catalog that’s great for accessories and trendy stuff that you only need to last for a year or so.

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Speaking of trendy stuff that doesn’t need to last, here’s a $15 romper I bought for the trip from Urban Outfitters (Be careful, that site now has music! Ugh).

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I told you a while ago that I like to pack jammies that can double as outfits, and these were supposed to be my jammies. I ended up wearing them almost more than anything else, the knit was crazy comfortable. Action wear!

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The giant earrings are from a shop in Kentucky. They’re lightweight.

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Back to that headband. I keep it in my purse when I travel because my hair invariably starts to look scraggly with wind and swimming, or I get too hot to wear it down. With this, I can pull it into a ponytail and use the band to clean up the stray frizz caused by humidity. It’s easy to do without a mirror, and the result is casual, but a little more polished.

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This dress is by 25singles. The sleeves are constructed so I can push them to the front and back and wear a cardigan without any added bulk on my shoulders. Great for the city.

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Greece is all about jumping for me, apparently. Anyway, you can see here how the sleeves only attach at the top, so you can arrange the folds for more tummy or bum coverage, as you desire. Genius.

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The necklace is actually two necklaces from H&M, which I knotted together.

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Here are those shorts again. The tank is by H&M, and is much fuller than it appears in this photo. I actually decided it was a little unflattering on this trip, and probably won’t be wearing it again. Such are the perils of seeing yourself in photos.

The shoes were a blog rec by Elizabeth from Browner Brown. They’re $17 Saniya Pointed Toe Flats from Target, and they’re rubber soled. They didn’t give me problems on this trip, but have since given me pinky toe blisters. Great with tights though, and I love the color.

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The scarf is the same one I used as a brooch above. This time I looped it twice around my head, tied it on top, and tucked the loose ends under for an updated Rosie the Riveter vibe.

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This is another vintage find. That green band has crazy giraffes and other jungle animals in play, which is spectacular. Super comfy.

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The fish-scale belt is elasticized, I got it at a thrift store. The waist on this dress is a little high for me, so I like to define it a bit.

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Sunglasses were on loan from Laura, as an Englishman had accidentally absconded with mine the night before, thinking they were his girlfriend’s.

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This is my swim wrap, which I bought in Bali on my honeymoon. It’s essentially a large rectangle of linen with a random button and a random tie. I have to figure out how to wear the damn thing every time I put it on, but it’s great to travel with because I can also use it as a scarf or a blanket on the plane. It’s by Oka Diputra.

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The back gives you a little insight into how it’s fashioned. Button at the neck, tie at the waist. Supposedly you can wear it like fifteen different ways, but I have no idea how.

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Here’s my new La Blanca suit! I’m excited because I almost never buy new swimsuits. I may just be turning over a new leaf on that though. (Sorry this is a little blown out, my camera was on the wrong setting.) I got it on sale at Nordstrom.com. I like that it’s a sexy one piece, but I don’t feel like my boobs are hanging out. Also? Red! Which is the very best color for a swimsuit.

And that’s it! Here’s a shot of my suitcase.

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I had so much extra room, that I decided to throw in my rollers, which was ludicrous. I used them twice and they made my bag heavy, which is a Packing Light fail.

You can also sort of see that I packed two things that didn’t get much play, a yellow turban purchased in Puerto Rico, and a white men’s button down to wear as a coverup (I wore it for sleeping instead). The red and white striped thing is an adorable $10 beach bag from Walmart, which I used a couple times as a shopping bag, and to carry home Hank’s gifts without crushing them. I also had a pair of black flip-flops, which got a ton of use.

Regrets? Well, the stupid curlers. Come on, Maggie. Also, I should have worn a sunhat on the plane. It took a while to find a reasonable one, and I don’t totally love it. Also, in retrospect, I would have thrown in three or four more evening dresses. We tended to wear casual clothes during the day, and dress things up at night. It would have been good to have a few more in the vein of my 25singles dress.

Also, I would have stuffed my busy husband and my cranky toddler in, because as fun as it is to travel with girlfriends, I missed those guys.

I was in Greece because Intel is sponsoring my Mighty Life List. Next week, I’m going skin diving in the Arctic Circle! Stay tuned.

Sep 10 2009

Tips for Your Trip to Greece

Before I left for Greece, you guys sent in amazing advice, so I thought I’d return the favor. These places were the highlights of our trip.

Athens

Palia

Palia Taverna tou Psara
This was our first meal in Greece, and we returned for our last night as well. Overall, the Plaka neighborhood is touristy, but this place is tucked away from the gelato-wielding mobs. Our travel book called it the best fish tavern in Athens, and the fish is certainly fresh and simply prepared. The real draw, however, are the romantic outdoor tables winding up the steep roadside, and the glow of the Acropolis above. Had Aubrey not been busy feeding scraps to the cat under our table, she would certainly have succumbed to my advances.

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The Acropolis
Climb to the top, if only to use Laura’s line, “This whole city is ruined!” High comedy folks. Tip your bartenders, we’ll be here all week.

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Acropolis Museum
All kinds of artifacts from the Acropolis are on view, but the design of the museum itself is fascinating. The building is elevated above an Athenian city dating back to prehistoric times, which was unearthed during construction. Transparent panels in the floor and a large viewing deck reveal the ruins beneath. There’s also a tasty, reasonably priced restaurant on site, though after you’ve climbed the Acropolis, you’d probably give them your first born just to sit in an air conditioned dining room.

Santorini

Dream Island Hotel
We were looking for a nice, reasonably priced room near the bars and restaurants on the caldera, and this is it. We spent most of our time gazing out over the ocean while we read by the pool, but all the action is about a three-minute walk up the street, and there are no big hills between you and town. The rooms are comfortable, and cost about half of what many neighbors charge. Breakfast is included, as is a ride to and from the airport or ferry, and the proprietor is kind and helpful. Thumbs up.

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Ampelos Wine Bar
Fabrica Center in Fira
This was one of the best meals we had in Santorini, where many of the restaurants rely more on crowd turnover than quality ingredients to keep the tables full. Good wine here too.

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Franco’s
This is a splurge, but come on — a bottle of wine, a lawn chair overlooking the sunset, and a classical music soundtrack? That’s a quality evening. Don’t sit too near the speakers, or your conversation will be drowned out by the crescendos.

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Taverna Katina
Ammoudi Port near Oia, Santorini
Our day trip to Oia was one of the loveliest days we spent on Santorini, and our lobster spaghetti meal at Taverna Katina was the best meal of the trip. Plus, you can’t beat that view. Look for the orange chairs.

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Il Gelato d’Oro
Santorini
We had this handmade gelato nearly every day after lunch.

Then we chugged some bacon fat, and ordered some deep-fried cheese.

Naxos

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Pension Irene II
This is where we stayed on our last-minute detour to Naxos. It’s a budget place, but it had a cute little pool (which I’ve made much more dramatic in the photo above). Also, a well-stocked kitchenette, if you like to prepare your meals. Great deal.

Maros

Maros
On Paparrigopoulou close to the court square of Hora Naxo
Everything here is good, but try the Naxos Sausage.

Sunbeam Toy Store
Also on Paparrigopoulou, close to the court square of Hora Naxo
I nearly cried with relief when I saw this store. It’s stocked with every kid-gift you’d ever want to bring home from Greece. Mostly wooden and handmade toys meant to spark imaginative play, but the reproduction tin toys are also magic. It was, I kid you not, open until 1 a.m., but I urge you to head in before you go out drinking. Aubrey almost bought a tambourine for the ferry.

Mykonos

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Hotel Tagoo
Hands down, the best room (and pool) you’ll get for the price on Mykonos, but be prepared to join the community if you stay here. The owner wants guests to be acquainted with one another and to have a great experience on the island, so she hosts an orientation every evening to introduce everyone and share tips. If you prefer to be incognito on your trip, that won’t be particularly possible, but if you like lots of guidance from a local in the know, go for it.

Paraportiani

Paraportiani
Agia Moni Square
A local recommended this place to us as “Yanni’s, with the green chairs.” We searched in vain, until a shop owner nearby finally told us that Yanni was the owner’s name. Ah! Worth the hunt. Excellent ingredients, everything made by hand. The vegetable soup was a tonic after two weeks of excessive Ouzo and gyro consumption.

My Do-Over Itinerary

While we were in Greece, we visited Athens, Santorini, Naxos (by accident when our original ferry was canceled), and Mykonos, all of which were lovely. We lingered too long on Santorini, and didn’t have enough time on the other islands. If I had it to do over, my perfect itinerary would look like this:

-Fly into Athens and take a half day or so to decompress if you’re coming from far away.
In the cool of the early morning, visit the Acropolis, then the Acropolis museum for lunch, perhaps a walking tour of the major sights in the late afternoon or the next morning.
-Fly to Santorini and stay either in Fira, or Kamari beach if you’re on a budget.
-Stay for three nights, and rent a car one of the days you’re there so you can visit Oia, and drive around the island.
-Ferry to Naxos, rent a car immediately, stay for two nights and see what you can.
-Ferry to Mykonos, two or three nights there enjoying life, driving around.
-Ferry to Athens the day before you have to catch your flight home.

And that’s it. If you missed your chance to share Greece tips the first time around, please let us know about your favorites in comments. Thanks again for your help in planning my trip.

Intel is making my site more interesting by sponsoring my Mighty Life List. They funded my trip to Greece so I could cross another dream off my list. Thanks, guys!

Sep 8 2009

Greece! The Teaser

None of these photos have been Photoshopped. Greece is that good.

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Before you arrive in Greece, they hose it down, and repaint everything.

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Then they station thousands of men at three-foot intervals. These men wait for you to pass so they can tell you how lovely you are. You! With the gelato! Gorgeous. You! Near the novelty olive oils! You are beautiful. Beautiful!

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And you are, of course. Because they sequester you at airport security to airbrush away your imperfections before you can enter the country. Such are the indignities one suffers for vacation photos like this.

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In short, Greece is fictional.

Be glad I don’t have access to a slide projector and your phone number, because I have enough sunset photos to put the entire Flickr team into a coma.

I know many, many of you have Greece on your Mighty Life Lists, so in the next few weeks I’ll be offering ideas and urging you to go sooner than you otherwise might. Like tomorrow. How’s tomorrow for you?

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While you pack, we’ll talk about:

  • Places I recommend,
  • The super cute things I stuffed in my carry on,
  • What Laura and Aubrey packed (bonus),
  • Athens street art,
  • Foods I tried,
  • What you should taste while you’re there,
  • How to make a comfort kit for plane rides,
  • And how Laura Mayes and I were almost killed trying to watch the sun rise over the Aegean.

That last bit changed the way I think about my life goals. Profoundly, in fact. We’ll talk.

Here’s where I thank Intel, who funded my trip to Greece. It’s been a privilege to be part of the enthusiastic, helpful Intel team, many of whom have made their own Mighty Life Lists in solidarity — Dave Veneski wants to ride the three hardest mountain stages of the Tour de France, Bryan Rhoads wants to make wine in Spain. Their support has inspired lots of you to make lists too — Jennifer wants to feed a giraffe, Liza (who’s mini-list is on her old site) wants to buy glasses with colored frames.

If you’ve made your own list, please email me (maggie [at] mightygirl [dotcom]) with the subject header Mighty Life List. Eventually, I’d like to link to all of your lists on Mighty Girl, so we can start working on our lives together. With purpose! And community! And so forth! It will be rad.

In the meantime, I have about five more dreams to accomplish in the next month, so things will be looking fairly surreal over here. Won’t you join me? Please pick something accomplishable to do the next month and commit to it in comments. Yes. Do it! And keep us posted.