Posted in 30 Days, Lifestyle, Style

What I Learned from Letting Other People Pick My Clothes

When I gave my mom, sisters and best friend access to my closet and complete autonomy over the outfits I would wear for the month, I didn’t go into the challenge with a lot of expectations.  As I reflect on the last 30 days of new styles and fashion related adventures, I really enjoyed the experience and recommend it to others who want to see their clothes in a different way.  Here are my biggest takeaways and discoveries from the month…

  • Break up the Routine-  My inspiration for this challenge stemmed from boredom.  At the start of this challenge, my clothes bored me and I was always circulating through the same 10 or so outfits.  Having new eyes to carefully examine the clothes I look at everyday was a fantastic way to revitalize a seemingly boring closet.
  • Mix it Up! I have items in my closet that for one reason or another always get paired together. Admittedly, there isn’t really anything wrong with the pairings but they are also not very inspired.  However, when my ‘special stylists’ saw these seem items- a pink striped cardigan, a brown tank top, a hounds-tooth sweater– all of the sudden they found new combinations I never would have thought of on my own.
  • Pay Attention to the Details- It was really fun watching each of my ‘stylists’ take great detail combing through my closet, each harping on their own details that I personally had never really thought about.  My sister really focused on what items provided the best overall palette while my best friend chose combinations that provided the best way to showcase complimenting colors.
  • Revitalize Rarely Used Clothes- I have a gray pencil skirt that I have owned for years and have never really worn.  My reasoning has always been that it doesn’t seem like me.  My ‘stylists’ selected several outfits that featured this skirt and it pushed me outside of my fashion comfort zone.
  • Re-evaluate What You Have- This challenge also revealed the clothes that I should probably say goodbye to.  Having people look through your closet is pretty revealing, and over the years, I have developed blind spots to the clothes that I know don’t fit, look weird or that I just don’t like anymore.  Having people less familiar with the backstory of my clothes revealed the clothes I no longer need to hold on to… Looking at you: acid-washed jeans, dress that I last wore 10 years ago and layered tank top.
  • Accessorize!  If I thought my clothes were boring prior to this challenge my accessories were even less imagined and creative.  Perhaps the single biggest takeaway from this whole experience is how the right necklace or set of earrings can change an outfit.

Overall Challenge Enjoyment: 4 new necklaces and an infinity scarf (I have no idea what that means, but I liked the challenge a lot).

Would I Do This Again? YES! Just need some new willing stylists. 🙂  

Posted in Challenge Recap, Fitness, Healthy Eating

Challenge Recap- Getting Fit

30 Days has come and gone, which means so has another challenge.  At the beginning of February, I set off on a 30 day challenge to Get Fit.  This included eating well (specifically avoiding junk food) and working out every day.

I definitely had some pitfalls and speed bumps, but overall I feel very pleased with the challenge.  More than anything, I felt a sense of accountability for my actions.  Not eating junk food meant paying a lot more attention to what I was eating.  In the end I wouldn’t even say I really missed the junk food I was avoiding (although I did purchase a box of Raspberry Pop Tarts immediately after the challenge ended).

Overall Challenge Enjoyment: 8/10 Working out and eating well was a lovely change of pace.

Success in Completing Challenge: C+

Likelihood of Continuing Challenge: VERY!

 

Posted in 30 Challenges, Road Trip, Travel

Road Trip Recap- Part 3

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This is going to round out my series of road trip recaps (Check out my Itinerary in Road Trip Recap- Part 2 and my Trip Overview in Road Trip Recap- Part 1).  In this last road trip related post, I am going to focus on the planning and preparation for the trip to highlight some of my Tips and Tricks for an AWESOME ROAD TRIP!

Planning

  • Map out your route and review alternative routes. While we were planning for this trip we went through many itierations of our route… This was actually fun and got us excited as we talked about cities and stopping points.  But from a planning standpoint, it was really helpful by thinking through fastest/shortest/most interesting routes and best cities to stop in.
  • Make a checklist. And check it twice (at least)
  • Make a budget. Think about all your likely expenses: food/gas/hotel/excursions/tolls. Determine if there are any opportunities to save money.
  • Check weather. Our trip went from Orange County (FL) to Orange County (CA) in January and we saw temperatures as high as 80 degrees and as low as 30 degrees.  Having an idea of what the weather would be was critical to know what to pack.
  • Don’t forget time zones… When traveling across the country, it is really helpful to know when you will be crossing time zones and when they will be advantageous to the trip.  Also, there were parts of the trip where the time went back and forth as we crossed back and forth time zones, so that was fun (and confusing)
  • Look at blogs/websites/articles- Here are a few I recommend: For some roadside attraction ideas, tips, tricks, more tips and packing suggestions
  • Do your research! Not only is it fun to think about, it really helps maximize the trip. Decide what cities you want to stop in and consider what roadside attractions/food/activities would be fun.
  • But be flexible.   While we planned the majority of our stopping points along our itinerary we had enough room to stay flexible, which provided us great surprises like a singing musical revue steak dinner in Flagstaff, AZ or a live jazz performance at Preservation Jazz Hall in New Orleans. Don’t forget, it’s not just the destination…it’s also the journey. 🙂

Packing

  • Use packing cubes. I am convinced packing cubes are part fabric/part mesh/part witch craft magic! I can fit so much in them. Also… roll your clothes (don’t fold!)
  • Freeze water bottles. If you are going to bring a cooler, freeze water bottles rather than packing ice packs… once the water bottles have melted you can drink the water.
  • Use all available spaces… Use the spaces under the seats, in the glove compartment… we even hung bags on the backs of our seats to maximize vertical space.
  • Don’t forget extra chargers and batteries.
  • Prioritize! If you are like me you will pack more than you can bring/can fit in the car. Make sure you determine what are the Must-Haves and what items you can live without so that if you reach critical mass you don’t have to redo all your packed items.

Preparations   

  • Must have apps! Here are some that I recommend: Gas Buddy, Hotel Tonight, iExit, TVFoodMaps
  • Make sure your vehicle is road-trip ready. My car is 9 years old with well over 100,000 miles. As much as I love her, I didn’t want to risk her on this extensive drive. Tom’s car is stick shift (and I am a non-stick shift driver). We reasoned that a minivan from a rental company made the most sense for our trip.  It was incredibly reliable (virtually no mileage), nice and roomy and one less thing to worry about.
  • Snap a photo- Take photos of essential reservations, IDs and insurance cards. That way if you lose something you have it on your phone.
  • Figure out what you will use most. We learned quickly that if we put the stuff we would need each night in a place in our minivan that was easy to grab, it made for a much less chaotic load-in process at the hotel.

Saving Money

  • Bring your own food. On the few weeks before our trip, I scoured deals at the grocery store and bought snacks when they were on sale. We made sandwiches for lunch, had apples, breakfast bars and muffins for a quick breakfast on the road and lots of healthy-ish snacks packed.
  • Compare prices and shop around.
  • Ask for trip-related gifts… Our trip was right after the holidays. Knowing we had this trip we asked family and friends things that would benefit us for the trip like gas cards or cash
  • Invest in a National Park Annual Pass. If you plan to visit any National Parks, this is a great way to go… $80 for two people good for all National Parks and many National Landmarks and Monuments for a whole year!
  • Make a cash fund. I always like having cash for vacations. Try a savings challenge to jump start a cash fund for extra spending money on your trip.

Other Trip Essentials

  • Music is a must! Make new playlists and if you need some inspiration I found lots of road trip playlist recommendations like this or this
  • Audio Books. I rented a few audiobooks from my local library that I downloaded onto my phone for FREE using apps like Overdrive or Hoopla. I loved Tina Fey’s Bossypants, which was funny and entertaining, keeping me great company through the long drive of Texas. Here is another list of some good audio books to keep you going on long drives
  • Keep your car tidy. By Day 2 of the trip our rented Kia Sedona minivan felt less like a vehicle and more like our home. If you keep it cleaner, it will make you feel much less gross. We packed hand sanitizer and paper towels and set up a designated trash bag to toss all of our trash to keep the car clean.
  • Stay comfortable. You are going to do a lot of lounging/sleeping in the car. Pack blankets and pillows, and rock those sweatshirts and yoga pants like a champion.
  • Last but not least- HAVE FUN and ENJOY THE RIDE! 🙂  

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Posted in Road Trip, Travel

Road Trip Recap- Part 2

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Part 2 of my Cross Country Road Trip recap is going to focus on my specific itinerary from Orange County (FL) to Orange County (CA).

  • Day 1: Orlando, FL to Pensacola, FL6 Hours, 30 minutes/450 miles (I-75 to I-10)
  • Day 2: Pensacola, FL to Dallas, TX9 Hours, 45 minutes/650 miles (I-10 to 98 to 49 to I-20)
  • Day 3: Dallas, TX to Albuquerque, NM9 Hours, 30 minutes/645 miles (287 to I-40)
  • Day 4: Albuquerque, NM to Petrified Forest to Page, AZ- 3 Hours/211 miles (I-40); 3 Hours, 40 minutes/232 miles (I-40 to 89)
  • Day 5: Page, AZ to Grand Canyon, AZ2 Hours, 30 minutes/133 miles (89 to 64)
  • Day 6: Grand Canyon, AZ to Anaheim, CA7 Hours, 15 minutes/484 miles (64 to I-40 to I-15)
  • Day 7: Anaheim (no driving!)
  • Day 8: Anaheim, CA to Las Vegas, NV4 Hours/264 miles (I-15)
  • Day 9: Las Vegas, NV to Wickenburg, AZ3 Hours, 30 minutes/232 miles (I-515 to 93)
  • Day 10: Wickenburg, AZ to San Antonio, TX14 Hours, 30 minutes/1046 miles (60 to 303 to I-10)
  • Day 11: San Antonio, TX to New Orleans, LA8 Hours/543 miles (I-10)
  • Day 12: New Orleans (no driving!)
  • Day 13: New Orleans, LA to Orlando, FL9 Hours, 15 minutes/ 642 miles (I-10 to I-75)

The trip took 13 days, traveled across 9 states, and over 6000 miles. So how did we not only survive but actually enjoy our cross country road trip? I will go into a full set of tips and tricks we used to plan the trip in my next post, but here are a few of my essential lessons and recommendations for a long drive…

  • Plan your route! Leading up to our trip we mapped out every leg of the itinerary to make sure we knew we were never over-extending ourselves
  • Secure accommodations in advance. We went back and forth about reserving hotels in advance versus driving as far as we could and just finding what we could on the road but I am very glad we went with some advanced preparations. It made for a much saner trip and gave us a little bit of extra security knowing we had a reserved destination with a bed/shower after a long day of driving
  • Don’t forget time zones!  Driving across country means you will be driving through time zones and while most navigational apps will include time zones in the ETA, it is helpful to know when they will happen
  • Have things to look forward to and enjoy the journey. As much as I enjoyed the trip and the changing scenery I will also admit that there were periods where the long days of driving felt daunting. What made those drives much more palatable was knowing that we always had so many exciting destinations and things planned throughout the trip and not just at our final destination… from National Parks to an excursion to Las Vegas to see a Cirque Du Soleil show to Disneyland to a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert!