Thursday, June 19, 2014

Home from Utah!

Just got home from one of my favorite places, Salt Lake City, Utah!

I go every year to see my family who live out there and grade AP tests (like summer camp for history nerds).

Right now, since I've been up since 3:45am and have been flying all day, and am going to Tunica tonight and making a birthday dinner for my boyfriend tomorrow and then taking a road trip to the Ozarks over the weekend, I'm just taking a nap.

But here are some highlights from my trip!

I had a lot of beverages:

Slurpees are my life.

Ate a lot of yummy food:

Saw some beautiful scenery:

I got to see some of my best friends, some of my family, and overall I had a great time. 

Now to nap. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

30 by 30 UPDATE

Well, as of yesterday, I am only 9 months away from turning 30!

How am I doing on the 30 by 30 list?

What have I accomplished in the last 3 months?

(Besides keeping myself and my animals fed and alive, that is!)

1. Go to 3 new American cities.
(I should be going, at least, to Boston, New Haven, DC, and New York this summer.)
I went to Boston, Worcester, New Haven, Farmington, Hartford, Mystic, New Britain, and DC! Plus the Atlanta Airport, the Cincinnati Airport, the Baltimore Airport and a lot of middle of nowhere train stations!
PLUS I have a trip planned for this December to someplace new that's super hush hush for now!

2. Travel to another country, bringing my total to 6 in the past 3 years.
(Might have to make a pit stop in Canada for this one!)

3. Eat something green (that's not gummy and shaped like a bear) every day.
(Or that's covered in cheese...)

4. Really pare down my closet.
Not quite "DONE" but I took 3 giant bags to Goodwill today!

5. Write 3 chapters of my dissertation.

6. Start a savings account.

7. Go to the gym regularly. For me, that's 3-4 times a week, no excuses!

8. Volunteer for a charity/charitable organization. Anyone have any ideas?

9. "Run" a 5K. I am NOT a runner, so maybe just do a 5K?
(DONE! 4/5/14 - 80s Retro Run at Shelby Farms!)

10. Get an article published in a peer-reviewed journal.

11. Be better at writing thank you notes and follow-up letters.
So this is kind of a constant thing, but on my trip I wrote and mailed all my thank you letters before I even came back to Memphis!

12. Learn to accept a compliment.

13. Go a week without complaining about anyone/anything.

14. Eat breakfast regularly.

15. Read 25 new books. I have a bad habit of rereading my favorites and not trying anything new. Time to change that!
I'm working on it!
1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
2. House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski

16. Get my French back to conversational level.

17. Learn enough German to have rough conversational skills.

18. Make schnitzel.

19. Make magenflasters like my gramma's.

20. Finally figure out how to use my "grown up" camera.

21. Take a spa day - massage, mani, pedi, facial - and just enjoy it, no phone, no conversation.

22. Visit all the museums in Memphis.
(I've been to the Brooks and the Pink Palace, but there are a ton more!)

23. Blog at least twice a week.

24. Work on my faith.
(Which is vague, but I'm really private about my beliefs.)

25. Take a trip to the Gulf Coast.

26. Try a new hair color.

27. Find the perfect pair of jeans.

28. Make at least 3 projects for myself with my sewing machine.

29. Start (and maintain) a book club.

30. Stop letting people take advantage of my kindness, just because I'm afraid of being alone.

SO most of these are still left to do, but I've done a ton of traveling, and a lot of them are long-term goals. I think a quarter into the year, I'm doing really well!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Travel Wardrobe

Because I travel so often, I frequently get the "what do you take?" question. Especially when I tell people that I almost never* check a bag.

*Almost never. I checked a bag for 2 weeks in Paris, and I checked a bag coming back from London. My mom and I shared a checked bag going to Utah one time. But that's it. I'm just too little/weak/uncoordinated to carry so much.

I've gone to London and Lisbon for a month with just a carry on suitcase and a Vera Bradley weekender. I travel to Salt Lake City every summer for 2 weeks with just a carry on and a small backpack. And on my most recent trip, because I was packing up every few days and taking so many different forms of transportation, I took a 3 week trip to 5 different cities with only a North Face backpack and a large Victoria's Secret tote.

Let me share my secrets with you!

First, I am a huge proponent of taking the right bags. Bags that are easy to get into and that hold a lot - I am not a fan of hard sided suitcases or very small bags. Even if you have all your stuff easily packed in a duffel, carry-on suitcase, or backpack, why take a small purse when you can take a bit larger tote? Who knows what souvenirs you're going to pick up, and it's better to have extra room than have to buy a bag (which I've absolutely done). 

Since I'm little and lugging a ton is hard for me, I wanted stuff I could easily carry. A backpack is perfect.

I bought my North Face backpack in 2007, and it's very similar to this one. And still going strong - no tears, pulls, minimal stains, and the zippers and straps are still perfect. Considering I use this bag A LOT, the $99 price tag is totally reasonable. 

One of the best things about this bag is the side straps. I can pack my bag super full, then squish it down and tighten the straps. Full of all the clothes I'm about to tell you about, it easily, with room to spare, fit in the overhead bins even on the smallest planes, and would have fit under the seat with no problems. Mine also has side pockets, which are great for cords and chargers. 

I also wanted something bigger than my purse to take on the plane and to keep books and things in on the train. Enter this guy:

This bag is great. Long handle drop, big inside pocket, bright enough I couldn't lose it if I wanted to, and HUGE on the inside. I could probably pack for an entire weekend just in this tote, honestly.

The only problem is the color does rub off on the edges of my books. So maybe washing it first would be a good idea. But now I have pink books so I think I really won. 

Second, after finding the right bags, taking the right things and the right combination of things is crucial. I love wearing all my cute clothes, but when you're on 4 different forms of public transit in one day...well, that adorable chiffon dress is more of a hindrance than it ever was cute. Also, I love color. And lots of colors. But taking clothes that can make multiple outfits, true mix and match pieces, really helps. 

I will note that I was able to do laundry 3 times on my trip. Once in New Haven, once in Farmington, and once in DC. Since I knew I was going to be able to wash things, I definitely took less than I would have, but this is a good basic packing list, especially if you don't mind wearing things a couple of times (I hate wearing shirts more than once, but pjs and jeans are whatever.)

Here we go!

These are approximations of everything I took and the combos I could make: 

Travel Clothes

Short sleeve dress / Derek lam top, $585 / American Vintage white cotton tank top, $54 / LOFT long sleeve tee / Open front cardigan / JVL blue cardigan / American Apparel unisex top / Old Navy black v neck top / Mossimo sheer black tank top / Old Navy charcoal gray t shirt / American Eagle Outfitters blue jeans / American Eagle Outfitters shorts / American Eagle Outfitters clothing / American Eagle Outfitters clothing / Seamless cami / Converse shoes, $125 / American Eagle Outfitters black sandals / American Eagle Outfitters white sandals / Xhilaration ballet shoes / Old Navy strappy sandals / Reeds Jewelers 14k earrings / Miriam Merenfeld initial necklace / FOSSIL stainless steel jewelry / Juicy couture jewelry / Carnation Collection / Old Navy Blue

This is a summary of what I brought from Polyvore - not everything is totally accurate, but here's a list!

3 pairs shorts (pink, black, khaki - all American Eagle because of my tiny teenager butt)
1 pair skinny jeans (also AE)
1 navy top (Loft)
1 grey top (Loft)
2 dark grey tees (one from American Apparel, the other from Old Navy)
1 skirt (the one pictured here is blue, but mine was a red floral pattern from Old Navy)
1 dress (a bird printed one from Macy's)
1 black cardigan (ON)
1 teal cardigan (ON)
1 printed sweater (Dillard's)
2 tanks (black, white, teal, all from Target)
2 tees (Book Nerd! and Phi Mu)
3 pairs flip flops (one from Old Navy, two from AE)
Ballet Flats
Black Chucks
Initial Necklace
Bird Necklace
Diamond (not real, obvs) studs
(Not pictured - a small cloth cross body purse from ON that I rolled up to carry as my everyday bag)

In addition, I took a couple bras, obviously undies, and 2 pairs of pj shorts and 2 tees to sleep in.

I definitely feel like I could have left the teal cardigan and teal tank, and probably, honestly, the jeans at home. It was warm most places, and I wore the jeans twice.

I wore the black shorts and grey top, with Chucks, on the way, and black shorts, my new "Wrinkle in Time" shirt, and Chucks on the way home.

This is 14 DIFFERENT outfits! Not to mention changes with jewelry or shoes! I definitely wanted to do laundry when I did, because it was hot and traveling is icky, but this amount of stuff worked out really well.

By rolling my clothes, wearing my heaviest shoes on the plane, and taking a backpack that expanded as well as a tote that was large enough to hold my books and ipad, I had no problems at all!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

For the last month, I've been traveling, doing research for my dissertation.

On my trip I went to:
Worcester, MA
New Haven, CT
Farmington, CT
Washington, DC

To do that I took:
1 ride to the Memphis airport at 5am (my boyfriend is a saint)
2 flights
Shuttle from Boston airport to South Station
Train from Boston to Worcester
Cab to the American Antiquarian Society
Cab to the train station
Train to Springfield, MA
Train to New Haven, CT
Cab to apartment
Rental car to Farmington, CT
Ride to the New Haven train station
Train to DC
Cab to apartment
DC Metro
Cab to train station
Train to airport
Shuttle to airport
2 flights home
Ride from the Memphis airport (he's still a saint)

So although I've been doing a ton of stuff and having lots of adventures and eating new things and buying new makeup (of course...), I haven't had a ton of time to blog.


Kind of. 

I'm actually going to Salt Lake City to grade AP exams next week. 


I'm going to start posting about my adventures soon! Until then, here are some highlight photos from the trip!

I saw the ocean for the first time.

And the largest sycamore tree in Connecticut.

Beautiful bridge in Connecticut.

My icon, Julia Child, at the American History Museum in DC.

Phalluses everywhere!

US Capital Building

Yale's beautiful campus.

Much, MUCH, more to come!