I’ve always wanted to drive cross country, and I’ve started collecting a little list of places to see along the way. Here’s one for you:
If you find yourself in Petaluma, California, especially if it’s cold out, consider stopping for a drink at the Washoe House.
The place has been around since 1859, and used to be a stop on the stagecoach line. Patrons have been tacking dollar bills to the walls for decades, so the bars walls are almost ruffled. It looks like the world’s most expensive parade float turned inside out.
I can spend hours reading the notes on the bills over an Irish Coffee.
How about you? What would you add to a stranger’s road trip map?
Hello team, please welcome my lovely, kind friend Roxanna from Every Day Treats. I saw her recently at Mom 2.0, and she always looks so smashing that I asked her to do a packing light for us. We were halfway through the trip by the time I asked, so she did an “unpacking” light when she got home instead. Enjoy.
Take it away, Roxanna:
My flight landed at the exact time the opening cocktail party started, so getting dressed was a rush. After checking in, I went into my room changed out of my travel outfit (yoga pants, tank top and a cardigan — all in black) and slipped into this dress. It took five minutes. We all know that little black dresses are magic, and this one is stretchy and comfy, so wearing it feels exactly like wearing a T-shirt without pants.
Dress: Calvin Klein, purchased at TJ Maxx. Calvin Klein dresses fit me well, and TJ Maxx always has them in stock. Therefore, I never pay full price for them. Awesome.
Necklace: A find at a preppy little shop in Wellesley, MA. It cost $15 and I love it so.
Shoes: Naturalizer. These strappy heels are a gold/platinum color and go with everything, so they usually come with me on trips.
This is what I wore on the first day of the conference. I chose a purple top and yellow heels as a nod to Mardi Gras. I don’t think anyone noticed, but it was fun for me.
Unfortunately, I regret wearing jeans. I love skirts and dresses, and since winters are so cold where I live I don’t get to wear them as often as I’d like. So when I walked into the conference the first day and saw so many women in dresses, all I wanted to do was go change. But I didn’t. Instead I gave longing looks to anyone in a skirt and kicked myself for not taking advantage of a chance to wear what I like.
Even worse, I wore jeans so I wouldn’t stand out too much on my first day. I thought that’s what most people would be wearing. What a mistake! I’m always telling people that they should dress for themselves and I didn’t follow my own advice. Bad style blogger! Don’t be like me — pack things you love to wear and nothing else.
Top: Nordstrom, bought off season, so it was 60% off!
Jeans: Joe’s Jeans, also from TJ Maxx.
Shoes: Seychelles purchased at Saks…Off 5th. And they were on sale. Again, I don’t pay full price if I can help it.
After a busy day bummed out by my too casual attire, I was so happy to change into something dressier. We had plans for an evening of misconduct on Bourbon Street. This was my favorite outfit from the entire trip. The night started at Pat O’Brien’s and ended at Galitoire’s, and I was comfortable at both places because I dressed for myself. Lesson learned!
You know how those makeover TV shows tell you to mix textures to “add interest” to your outfits? I think that this is what they mean. I love this skirt because it’s shiny and you can’t tell if it’s made of leather or fabric. People can’t help but touch it — which means that I was petted by many lady bloggers.
I would never pair this skirt with flats at home, but my feet were tired from wearing heels all day at the conference and these were my only other option. Limited choices force you to be creative, and in the end I loved how the whole thing came together.
Top: AK Anne Klein from TJ Maxx! (Are you sensing a pattern? I have an awesome one right by my house.)
Skirt: J. Crew, bought off season and on sale.
I’m obsessed with personal style blogs and this is me trying to look like a style blogger. I could use some practice. I was going for sultry, but the expression on my face is actually me noticing that I need to mop my floor:
Housekeeping aside, this outfit is so comfortable. This skirt is better than wearing yoga pants, because it’s missing the pants part. I take it with me on almost every trip. You can also wear it as dress, and while I prefer longer skirts it’s nice to have options.
Tee: Banana Republic (I paid $5 for it!)
Skirt: J. Crew
Shoes: Jack Rogers (these never go on sale, but I live in them in the summer so they’re worth it.)
I wore the same dress with different jewelry and shoes (the black flats) to the reading at the Eiffel Society. I actually had another skirt and top to wear, but it turns out I didn’t even need them. If you travel a lot, invest in a black sheath.
And that’s it! Other than my travel outfit and another set of workout clothes to sleep in, this is everything I brought to the conference. Everything fit in a carry on and it was more than enough. See you next year!
Thanks, Roxanna. You are a peach. If you’d like to read more on Roxanna’s packing light philosophy, you might like this short post from her site. Please let me know in comments if you’d like to see more Packing Light features from friends (maybe a guy friend?), or if there’s anything that’s been perplexing to you about how to fit everything in a carryon. I’ve been getting a lot of requests for packing lists for people who have tough trips ahead of them. Is that something you care to see, or too personalized to be of use? Let me know.
As you know, I’m all about the carry-on luggage. A carry-on and a backpack can get me through almost anything, mostly because carry-ons will hold way more than most people think, especially if you’re going somewhere warm. Here’s what I packed for New Orleans.
The denim skirt is thrifted and the striped top is Urban Outfitters. Anna Beth Chao only weighs like three pounds, so you can fold her right down into the exterior pocket of the carry-on. I take her everywhere. Chao and champagne.
There was a cocktail party that first night, so I wore my vintage fringe happy dress, which requires zero ironing. I take it everywhere.
These are my fallback shoes, which operate on the theory that if you’re a woman over six feet tall in heels, no one notices what you’re wearing anyway. I need a new pair, because I’ve had these for nearly a decade. It’s impossible to find stable, comfortable, unreasonably tall shoes, but it’s time. Help a sister out, Internet.
The next day was my presentation. I like to be totally comfortable on stage, so I went with this simple navy shift from H&M and swapped the belt out for a striped scarf. The orange travel flats are Tieks, and I also wore two square glass orange rings, because I like to be matchy matchy like that. You’ll see those below.
A group of us went to dinner later that night, and I wore a romper I got at Forever 21 for 16 cents. Cheap prices for disposable clothing is why I continue to shop there, even though they purposefully play music to annoy people my age. You’ll have to more than blast Avril Levigne to drive me away from prices like this Forever 21! Actually, I love that “What the Hell” song, so I’m golden. I am bopping in the aisles, Forever21.
I wore the romper with very basic open toe black flats from H&M. I don’t have any full-length shots of this outfit that you haven’t already seen, so I’m cheating by using a shot from New York. There are, however, several shots of me looking naked at dinner:
“Oh, don’t mind me. I put a dinner napkin on the chair before I sat down.”
This is my impression of cruise director Julie McCoy. Can you feel me setting a course for adventure?
The skirt is from Buenos Aires, and the tennies are knockoff Bensimons, which I got on the cheap at the now-defunct Martin and Osa. I need to replace those badly, but can’t bring myself to spend $50 on a pair of slightly more awesome canvas Keds.
Scarf is another vintage Vera tied as an ascot. The button-up shirt is from The Limited, which makes great shirts for business travel because they aren’t 100 percent cotton, which means they have stretch to them and don’t wrinkle nearly so easily. My glasses are Dolce and Gabanna.
That night I wore an American Apparel dress for my reading, with the same heels we talked about earlier.
As you know, I like to take jammies that I can wear as clothes in a pinch. This time, I packed this grey romper, also from Forever21, also 16 cents. The cashmere sweater is from the Alameda Flea Market.
I stayed a couple extra days with Anna Beth, so I revisited the navy shift for lunch at Commanders Palace. Here you can see the aforementioned orange rings, which I got from street vendors in Buenos Aires:
I also wore my stripe top again, this time with a little black mini from Urban Outfitters:
And a scarf from H&M:
Again, I failed to get a photo of what I wore on the plane due to exhaustion. I know this makes you rabid, so I’ll say I wore a short cotton mini-dress over tight jeans with the gray striped sweater, a blazer, and the white sneakers.
And that’s it, team.
One day soon I’ll do a post about what I wear on planes to maximize comfort and go from cold (San Francisco) to warm (everywhere else). Speaking of which, do you have a standard travel outfit? If so, spill. I could use a variation on the dress/leggings/sweater theme.
Also, keep an eye on this space, because I asked Roxanna from Everyday Treats to tell me what she packed for New Orleans. She always looks amazing, and she sent photos. Hooray, Roxanna!
This beard belongs to my friend Pableaux Johnson, a New Orleans native who literally wrote the book on eating in his home town. Whenever we got hungry, I called Pableaux, so he could tell us where to go, what to order, and how to make our meal a better experience. Much of the advice below is straight from Pableaux’s mouth, and I’ve never eaten better. (Thanks again, mister.)
1. Shrimp Po’ Boy at Parkway
Go hungry. If you can, go hungover. Walk past the line winding through the patio, and find the bar in back. If you can get a seat, the waitress will take your order right away. Order the Shrimp Po’ Boy, the sweet potato fries, and a side of the beef gravy for dipping. If it’s the season, you’ll want a Strawberry Abita too.
Stay as long as you want. Have another beer.
2. Beignets at Café Du Monde
Once you’ve tasted these beignets, the memory will bring you comfort. Warm, soft, sweet, and your soundtrack is a man singing gospel on the corner.
3. Hamburger at Slim Goodies
The quintessential burger, the first I’ve eaten in a restaurant that reminded me of the ones my mom fried up in a cast iron skillet at home. Thick, salty, fatty perfection.
4. Moscow Mule or House Sazerac at Bar Tonique
Come to Bar Tonique while the sun’s still out, and have a seat. Don’t make any special requests, don’t try to direct your bartender through the mix. Just sit down, and let them give you something better than what you know how to order.
If you’re a whiskey drinker, the House Sazerac will make you calmer, more acute. What you’re tasting there is a little fennel. If you’re thirsty and want something juicy, ask for the Moscow Mule. Knock it with your straw, and watch the flurries of fresh ginger dance around the ice.
5. Muffaletta at Cochon
Cochon has an in-house boucherie, so order something meaty like this Muffaletta. The cocktails are just as good as the food, and and the food is just fine, thank you very much.
6. Strawberry Abita on the porch
First off, I’m usually dubious about flavored beer. The Strawberry Abita, however, doesn’t try to pretend it’s a wine cooler. It tastes like cold beer with a little bit of extra summer on the backend. Like eating iced strawberries and popping open a beer chilled in the same bucket.
7. Turtle Soup at Commander’s Palace or Brennan’s
Unfortunately, turtle soup isn’t to my taste, but you’re a visitor so you’re honor-bound to try it. I tried a bowl at Commander’s Palace — where they take three days to make it — and a bowl at Brennan’s. They were remarkably similar to me, but I had a sentimental preference for the bowl at Brennan’s because the staff was singing happy anniversary to a gray-haired couple at the next table.
When they ask if you’d like some Sherry floated on top, you would.
8. Pimm’s Cup at Napoleon House
It’s hot. You want a drink with a cucumber in it, and this is where you should get it. Wait to sit on the patio.
9. Eggs Benedict at Stanley
Pableaux said if he had three days to eat breakfast in the French Quarter, he’d eat at Stanley all three times. Fair enough.
10. Strawberry Shortcake at Commander’s Palace
Make your reservation, fasten your pearls, and set aside a few hours for lunch at Commander’s Palace. When they offer you a dark napkin because your dress is black, let your brain unclench. Order the two-course special, and ask for the House Martini, which is a quarter. You heard me. (If you don’t drink martinis, the House Cosmo is also 25 cents, as are a nebulous blue drink, and a florescent green drink, neither of which we can discuss here.)
Everyone will tell you to finish up with the bread pudding soufflé, but if the strawberry shortcake is in season, you know what to do. Bring a cigarillo in your clutch, because you should be pleasantly illuminated by the time you leave. There’s a lovely graveyard across the street where you can chat with your girlfriend, and pat your hair back into place while you smoke.
On St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, this tree was heavy with beads.
People throw them from the Mardi Gras floats, and they catch on branches and telephone wires. These have been up for months.
Oh, Louisiana. You know how to charm a girl.
This is the super fancy Windows Phone 7. Behold!
The idea behind the phone is that you can do all kinds of stuff with it, so you don’t have to carry so many gadgets around to stay on top of your life. As you know from the Packing Light series, I’m all about doing more with less, specifically only what you can fit in a carry-on and a backpack
Lots of you have asked me what I pack in my backpack while I’m on the road. All of my electronics go in there, so here’s my list of what’s in my “personal item” bag when I’m boarding a plane.
Digital SLR with 50mm 1:1:4 lens
Camera battery charger
Pens that won’t explode in flight
A hard case for my glasses
A small purse that contains:
-and a mesh zip bag with:
+Waleda hand cream
+Burt’s Bees lip balm
Comfort kit with
-a sleeping mask
-an inflatable neck pillow with knit cover
How about you? What’s your bare minimum of what you need to be comfortable when you’re traveling, or working, or just getting ready in the morning? What are your tricks for doing more with less in your life?
I’m giving away one Windows Phone 7, which is worth about $500, plus all this good stuff:
-A one year XBOX Live Gold membership
-A three month unlimited Zune Pass — which lets you download and stream unlimited music and keep 30 songs forever and ever.
- A T-Mobile SIM, active until November 30. (If you’re already a T-Mobile subscriber, you can also use your existing SIM.)
To enter, all you have to do is leave a tip in comments about how you’re doing more with less. You can enter once a day, but you’ll need to cough up a new and improved tip every time you comment. I assume this helps ensure that you are not a robot. Not that I have anything against robots.
Now for the fine print. The contest is open until November 29, and as usual I’ll pick a winner using random.org. I’ll email the winner, and once he or she emails me back, I’ll announce who it was on Mighty Girl. Sound good? Great. The crazy detailed details are here, as are the bazillion (or so) other sites where you can go to enter for another chance to win the phone. I encourage you to do so.
This giveaway was brought to you by the new Windows Phone 7. Less MIA. More PTA: Learn about Windows Phone online and see it in person at local T-Mobile stores today.
When we decided to take Hank to Ireland last minute, reader Lianne Raymond sent me a touching note offering some tips for keeping kids content while you’re away — whether you’re traveling or just dropping them off at daycare. Her ideas mirror a lot of my own philosophies about parenting, so I thought I’d share. Thanks, Lianne.
1) Acknowledge the child’s feelings.
Empathize with them. “I know, it’s hard to be apart, isn’t it?” And normalize their feelings. “Everybody feels a little bit scared when they go to a new place.” Let their attachment to you be a place they can rest in love in the midst of their anxiety.
Don’t minimize the child’s feelings or ask them to change how they feel. “Can you be a brave big boy for mummy?” Don’t try to change their feelings and behavior.
2) If the child is going to school or childcare, let them see you interact with the teacher or the caregiver in a positive way.
Children are naturally wired to be wary of strangers — for good reason. They will, however, take cues from those they love as to who is worthy of their trust. If they see you interacting with the teacher with smiles, nods, laughter and even a hug, if possible, they will be able to feel safer with that person. Not that they will bond immediately, the relationship will still need to be developed, but this provides a good footing.
3) Give the child an object through which they can feel connected to you while you are apart.
A scarf that smells like your favourite perfume. A locket with a picture of you and them inside. Matching bracelets that you both wear — these can be a simple as a coloured string — hey it works for Kabbalah peeps! Imbue the object with some magic powers, “When you open the locket invisible magic dust will come out and you will be able to see Mummy in your head and mummy will be able to see you in her head, and it will be just like we are together.” “There is an invisible string connecting our two bracelets and when you tug on your bracelet it will travel along the invisible string until it gets to me.”
4) Focus on the return
Don’t talk details about the separation, but give details about the reunion. “Oh, it’s going to be so wonderful when I come to pick you up. I’m going to give you the biggest hug and smother you in kisses. I’m going to be so happy to see you!”
5) Don’t avoid the goodbye
It’s very common for parents to try to sneak out of the house or away from the school and avoid dealing with the feelings of separation altogether. While understandable, it is much better to focus on developing emotionally healthy separation rituals then to leave the child feeling abandoned.
All excellent advice. Thanks again, Lianne. And what about you? Do you have any special rituals that keep you connected when you’re away from the kids in your life?