Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tips on packing less (and choosing what to pack).

Every time I do a packing post, someone says something about not being able to do it, or they wish they could, or they need help.

Now - if you do not want to just use a carry on, there is a red X up there in that corner that you may click. Really, no pressure. I just want to help if you actually want to pack less.

Pack things that are easily mixable and matchable.
This is like #1 on most lists and for good reason. Now, I personally don't just pack all black or neutrals and I'm not good with choosing basics first and then throwing in a pop of colour. But, I won't bring a striped skirt that I can only wear with one top, or a top that only looks good with black jeans.

See below - not everything can be mixed or matched but not everything needs to match, I just like to have options. I didn't include shoes in this. Of course I could have made way more outfits, but my goal is just to use everything at least twice.

// black tee //tank top // striped top //
// denim jacket // cardi // denim shorts //

Plan your outfits.
I know this is tedious and a whole new level of 'planner crazy' but actually planning my outfits is ridiculously helpful. Because when I plan 50 outfits for a 2 week trip, I realise I have too much and I can get rid of a few things. I can also see that I'm only wearing this top once, or I favour these jeans over those so do I really need both?

Try your outfits on. 
Things look different on polyvore than on a person - unless you are 100% positive you know how everything looks on you, try it on. Taking photos is helpful because then I can refer back to the photo, but even just trying something on to make sure it doesn't look horrible is better than nothing.

Think about where you are going.
The weather is most important of course, but so are the culture and 'rules'. What you'll pack for Paris will be different than what you'd pack for Italy or India. Does it rain often? Is their Summer more like your Winter? Probably need an extra jacket rather than the bikini. Should you be mindful about showing skin? You'll need a light cardigan for covering up. By finding out what you need, you eliminate what you don't.

Know what you're doing.
Further to the above, I look at our itinerary. Do we have a 'fancy dinner'? Are we hiking, going to the beach? Are we walking or biking 10 miles a day? Knowing what we are doing helps me put the heels back in the closet, grab a dress that can be dressed up or down and make sure I have some comfy shoes. Knowing what we're doing also means I know what we're not doing, so I can eliminate things again.

Take the smallest bag possible and don't extend it on the way there.
I use the Mother Lode Weekender Convertible from eBags. It extends, which sure is handy. When we went to NYC because of all the sweaters and stuff, I had to extend it straight away. Should have been a red flag. I swear, things expand on the way back because I brought back less, and still had no room. So don't extend it on the way there. If you need to extend it, you need to take something out. Also, you will fill up whatever bag you choose. So if your stuff fills up a smaller carry on, no need to grab the bigger one 'just in case' because then you'll start throwing things in 'just in case'.

Small personal item.
I catch myself thinking 'if I use a tote bag for my personal item, I could pack more!' which is dangerous. So I just use a crossbody purse that fits the absolute necessities so I am not tempted to throw in something here or there. The reason for this is because some airlines do not allow you that 'personal item' and I need to be able to fit my personal item into my suitcase / backpack.

Critique your fabrics.
I have these tops from Gap that I love. But bloody hell, they wrinkle like it's their job. So they never go on a trip with me, unless I wear them there. I layer in the winter instead of grabbing thick chunky sweaters that take up a lot of room. I leave the top that needs an extra cami, the dress that gets crazy static clingy, or the jacket that looks more comfortable than it actually is and takes up a ton of room. Everything - except a big coat - must fold up small. That bag fills up fast.

Ask yourself why you are taking something.
If it starts with 'just in case...' then you need to leave it behind. If the Queen invites you to tea, you can buy something.

Don't buy things specifically for the trip.
I've done this a thousand times but I am getting better. I still buy things but they are less specific and can be worn again. For example, I bought a white tee and a grey tee for Europe. I wore them both and will continue to do so. I bought a snowflake sweater for NYC. I wore it once, you couldn't even see it, it's now in the eBay pile.

Stick with what you are comfortable.
On top of not buying things specifically for a trip, don't pack that maxi skirt that you never wear, or the bright red tee even though you're terrified of wearing red. I bet you can find a photo of yourself in an outfit that you weren't 100% comfortable in - you can tell by looking at the photo, can't you? Who cares if you are comfy in jeans and a tee. Rock it. Comfort is the most important thing, and you'll be happy and happy people don't shoot their husbands.

Limit your pants and shoes.
Shoes are the hardest for me because I want to be comfortable more than anything. I have learned that lesson, and I know Nikes aren't that cute but I've just gotten to the point where I don't care. They are comfy and that's all I need. I also normally throw in a pair of cute - but still comfy - flats for 'dressing up'. I rarely wear heels so that isn't a problem for me. As for pants, unless you are going somewhere in the winter for like 2+ weeks and you really like bright coloured bottoms, stick with the basics. I normally pack my beloved black jeans and a pair of blue jeans. If it's winter, I might throw in some leggings. I could pack 4 pairs of jeans, but they all start to blend together after a while and it's silly. Instead, pack more tops. They take up less room and in my opinion repeat bottoms are less noticeable than repeat tops, if that makes sense.

Think about how you will look in photos.
Yes, I realise how vain this sounds. Here's the thing - I take a lot of photos when I travel. So I don't want to wear the dress that clings, or the shorts that make my thighs look huge (to me!). I also dislike that every picture from NYC looks like the same day because I wore the same coat and beanie everywhere. So next time I go away during the winter, I'll pack 2 coats and an extra beanie. Is it the end of the world? No. Does it help me decide what to pack? Yes.

Get over yourself and who cares?!
This is the hard truth, friends. I learned it from Helene and I have to remind myself of this. I don't need my whole makeup bag, just the basics. I don't need all my hair tools. How much I enjoy my trip is not tied to what I am wearing. I know it sounds obvious, but it's true. I want to look decent in photos, but at the end of the day the fact that I am on the trip is way more important than how many times I wore a certain top or pair of jeans. I mean, do I look like I care about my outfits in any of these photos?

Unfortunately, no matter how much you plan, shit happens. Check out Megan on her last trip - we planned meticulously but she had to switch up some outfits because it turned out to be way colder than she expected. She still looks fabulous and she still had a blast! Plus, that gave me the heads up about how cold it was in Dublin so I could change my packing accordingly.

Just remember to have fun and you'll be fine!

Anyway - to wrap it all up, if you don't want to use a carry on, don't. If you do, but don't think you can - I hope this helped you.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Recent Favourites

I know it's the Friday before July 4th and most of everyone will be off (including me!) but I felt like sharing a few recent favourites with Amanda, random and from our trip - recaps coming, hold on to your hats.

Favourite blog post(s)

This post from Kathy. Seriously. Life is too short for all the shit we might worry about. I'm not going to go into it, but being surrounded by awesome people in blogland (including Kathy) has helped me in other areas of my life, from dropping toxic people, not hating on myself to living more in the now, and I can say am 100% happier for it. If you need to be happy, go read that post.

Absolutely adored this post from Alyssa about how people do or don't change - seriously, highly recommend you pop on over and read it right now, you don't even need to keep reading this post, that one is better. 

While you're at it. Check out this post from Tracy to all the small bloggers. I loved it, you will too. Off you pop.

Favourite meal in Europe

Hands down, the food was the best in Rome. Ahhhhmmmazing. Never had a bad meal. Okay, we didn't have a bad meal during the whole trip (not including airport / plane food) but still. Rome trumped it all. The absolute best meal was this mushroom pasta from L'Isola della Pizza (close to the Vatican). I was hesitant, I like to stay with things I know I'll like (like just plain tomato sauce or alfredo) but I went out on a still-boring-limb and I swear.. you know those meals that you want to moan really inappropriately because of how awesome it is? Yep.

Favourite guy

Okay, let me wax corny and vomity for a second. I mentioned that KC isn't a huge traveller - he doesn't like to plan (or pay for) travel but he enjoys it when we are actually there. He was a great sport the entire trip, sitting outside many a store while I combed the sales racks, taking a million photos each time I got a gelato, always sat in the middle so I could have the window, never complained at all, smile on his face the whole time.. most importantly though, he carried my bag even though I was perfectly capable, just lazy. 

Favourite purchase

I bought a few things, a couple clothing items and such.. but my favourite purchase was a chocolate bar. When we arrived in Dublin, we popped into a little cafe type store to grab some breakfast on the go and I spotted some chocolate bars that we have at home, I was so excited I squealed. Not joking, ask KC. He was so embarrassed, so naturally I had to get them. I got a crunchie (remember?) and a curly wurly. Mum would always buy us curly wurlys when we were little because they were the cheapest and we were a bit poor. The next day we popped into a grocery store where I picked up 3 packs of 5 to take home. So I had 15 when I arrived home. They lasted less than 24 hours. No shame.

This is a super old picture but it's better than the picture I attempted. Just trust me, it's amazing. I'd lend you one, but.... I ate them all.
Least favourite moment

I know I've talked about it before, so I'll try and keep it short and sweet. I'm not good at flying. Even though I researched and I felt prepared, when we went through the first bump of turbulence - instant tears. Such a big baby. I don't know if I am continuously getting worse or if the pilots are being dicks and making it worse with every flight. But our main flight back to the US was perfect and smooth until the last 2 and a half hours, where it was so bumpy shit was flying everywhere and the flight attendants had to sit down. Not happy, Jan. But I'm safe and sound, probably was never in any real danger.


If you've been following for a really long time, you might remember (or not) that I met Matt Smith & Karen Gillan last year at the Louisville Comic Con. You also might not care, but I do, so hush. It was amazing and perfect for a Whovian like myself. It would have been a dream come true if it were David Tennant and Billie Piper though.....

Well, this year my dreams are half coming true - Billie Piper will be at the Louisville Fandom Fest! I know most of you don't care, but humour me. This was me when Megan's husband told me:

LOVE HER. We shall be besties. Just wait.

Anywho. Happy 4th of July, have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

How you doin' 2015?

So, hey. We are officially halfway through 2015 now (at noon, anyway). That shit cray. Seriously, it feels like just yesterday that we were all like omg it's 2015. It's basically 2016 now. Ok, maybe not. 

I was all about 2015 at the beginning of the year. It was going to be the best year ever! But then life happened and just like everyone else, a grand declaration does not a truth make. Or something. That's not to say it hasn't been absolutely awesome and totally the best year yet. 

I wanted to kind of check in. I'm not sure if I am going to do monthly goal posts anymore, I think I'm a bit goal-ed out. But I did want to remind myself of the goals (or facts) I made at the beginning of the year so I don't lose sight of them.

I am going to complete a half marathon in under 2 hours.
Not yet, I'm afraid. I have only run one half marathon this year, and it was definitely not a sub 2. But, there is always the Urban Bourbon in October.

I am going to buy all of my Christmas presents using Swagbucks (aka no out of pocket expense) and will have all purchases done by the end of November.

Actually, probably not. I am still using Swagbucks but I really have been using Ebates more. Either way, I don't mind if I don't buy all my Christmas presents with free money, but I am starting on them very soon so they are well done by the end of November. The important thing is that I spread them out and just get them all done, because it's too stressful otherwise. I spent a lot of money last year and I'd rather spend a lot less this year, please and thank you.

I am going to Europe.
It was awesome. Duh. I'm going to recap the shit out of it, prepare yourselves.

I am going to cross so much off my 30 before 30 list.
Not as much as I would like. I really need to start working on the 'easier' things like getting my moles checked, making a pavlova, sewing something. There are a few things I don't think we'll ever cross off, but I actually don't mind.

I am going to DC with some awesome girls.

Yep. Woohoo. It was awesome.

I am going to 'give' something each month. My time, money or donating to goodwill. Something every month.

I haven't been broadcasting this because it does seem a bit 'look at me, look at me' but isn't all blogging? Anyway. I have been making sure that each month, I am doing something big or small to help someone other than myself.

I am going to be thankful this year. Every month, not just November.

I have been doing a thankful post each month. It might be silly, but it's nice to be reminded that I have lots to be thankful for, big or small.

I am going to live more in the moment - stop planning and focusing on the future so much.
Lol. I don't know why I wrote this one. I like planning and dreaming of the future. But really, I have been trying to focus on the here and now at least 50% of the time, and letting myself dream / plan for a million different futures the other 50% of the time. Considering it used to be like dreaming 90% of the time, I'm doing well.

I am going to read 150 books.

Well, I'm certainly not there yet, but I'm working on it. Tell you what, I won't be doing this one again. I obviously love to read and will probably read this many anyway, but I don't like how I'm constantly looking at if I'm ahead or behind and I probably shouldn't read that book because its 700 pages and then I'll be behind. I annoy myself.

I am going to love every item in my closet and get rid of all the things I don't wear.

You know what. I'm doing really well with this. I'd say before blogging, I really loved about 25% of my closet. I'd say I'm at least at 95% right now. I can think of a few things that I don't completely love, but still. 95% is pretty good.

I am going to make sure every single thing in my house is either beautiful or useful. 
Well. We haven't done much for this. We haven't added a bunch of crap, but we haven't gotten rid of a bunch of crap either. I really want to really declutter here soon.

I am going to become a badass chef wannabe and person who sews things.
hahahahahaha. I need to work on this.

I am going to spend time with real friends, not wasting time on the people who let me down in 2013. I'm not mad about it, I'm just over fake friendships.

Absolutely. I have one friend who is just.. not even a friend right now, and I've given up trying to understand her. I also haven't seen any of the fake people at all this year. They pretended to be my friends and then let me down or showed me they didn't really know or like me at all - to them I am just a novelty, the foreigner and I was sick of it. I wasn't mad I just didn't want to waste my energy on them anymore. I am zero percent ashamed that I don't have a lot of friends, I'd rather have good ones - even if it's just two or three! - than a bunch of fake people I don't like. Plus, I have you guys. 

I am going to take care of myself. I am going to be the healthiest and fittest person I can be not because I want to lose weight but because healthy is where it's at.
I am doing well. This will always be a struggle for me, but I am doing very well with not filling my body with crap (except in Europe because yolo) and exercising as a stress reducer, sleep helper and to make my heart healthy, rather than to see the scale go down.

I am going to love myself. I am going to be positive and nice, I am not going to say negative or mean things that I wouldn't dare say to a stranger, so why say them to myself?

I have definitely noticed that I am nicer to myself. That sounds silly, but really. I don't say or think mean things when I look in the mirror. I don't say loving nice things, but as mum always said - if you don't have something nice to say.. just kidding. 

How is your 2015 going?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Travel Planning & Dreaming

First off, checking in with Kels and her summer reading challenge - I said I would read 30 books in June, July & August. In June I read 13 books, a couple of which I spoke about last link up and the rest I'll annoy you about next Tuesday with Steph and Jana. I'm currently reading Station Eleven and Outlander (which might take me 2 years to read the whole series). I also finished the Semi Charmed Summer Challenge, woohoo me.
The Blonder Side of Life

You might be thinking, geez Kristen you just got back and you're already planning more trips? Um, hello do you know who this is? I've been planning since before we even left.

I know that's not good - always looking to the future and never living in the present and I am trying to be better about it, but what can I say, I just love planning! Especially travel. So I thought I would share the trips that we are hoping to take in the foreseeable future. In no particular order..


My Aunty & Uncle are coming to the US later this year and this is one of their stops, so we decided to crash their party and say hey. We're going for a long weekend and can't wait. We honeymooned there. Plus, our flights would be free a la Southwest miles.


It's on my 30 before 30 to go to HP world & do a half marathon at Disney so two birds one stone. KC and I went to Disneyland together in 2011 but then we broke up like a week later so I want new Disney memories, okay?! Plus, who doesn't love Disney. Though, this will most likely be skipped if we end up going to Europe next Summer because ain't nobody got that much disposable income. We do have enough miles for free flights here as well as Vegas, but hotels and park admission are super expensive.

Venice Beach / Vegas. 

Mum is hopefully coming back to the US late 2016 and I am going to fly over and meet her and we'll have a week or something together and it will be awesome. I can't remember exactly where she wants to go, somewhere in CA and Vegas, I think. Lets go with Venice Beach.

Europe! Again.

Plans are Germany, Netherlands & Belgium. Lindsay is also making me want to visit Scotland. That might be a bit ambitious though. Remember how I said KC wasn't super into travelling? I had a theory that he enjoyed it, just not the planning and paying for it part. That theory turned out to be 100% correct because at least once a day on our Europe trip, he mentioned that I was right (duh), he was having a great time and definitely wanted to go back next year. Yay! I'll just have to annoy you all with the planning side of things.

San Fran, Seattle & Portland.

We would both love to go to these places but I just don't know when. I was thinking Summer 2016, but now I'm thinking Europe then, so this would most likely be Summer 2017 which is basically 10 years away. If we end up having kids in the near-ish future, it will be easier to do a US trip like this than an international trip. But what do I know, I don't have kids.


I don't know when I will fit this in, but gosh I would love to go back home soon. I miss it and the guilt my family is loading on me is getting heavy. If we went home I'd take advantage of being so close and swing by New Zealand as well. Kicking myself that I never made it over there when I was just a few hours away.

There are of course, more places that I'd love to go to but aren't yet in the realm of possibility. I'd love to go back to London, my family just moved to Spain so I want to visit, I'd love to see more of the US and of course go back to Italy so I can see Venice and Tuscany. Also, the Caribbean, other cities in the US, Canada, Greece, Iceland and Scotland please travel fairies.

I have so much travel left on my 30 before 30 list - I'll need to win the lotto, the vacation time jackpot and not have a baby to make it all happen. I just don't think it's going to - I might have been a bit ambitious when I made that list. I have changed a bunch of things on it over the past year or so but I keep hoping we'll still get all the travel done, but it's not very realistic. But life doesn't end after 30 (duh) and we can always travel after 30, it's the children part that will make travel difficult (for us!).

Anyway. Moving back to the present. I would also love to maybe squeeze in a road trip around Christmas.. or even Thanksgiving. Apparently Louisville is the best place to start a road trip, but I can't think of anywhere to go that would be fun in Winter, I haven't been to before, isn't too expensive or too far away. Any thoughts, peeps?