Saving Good Things

Do you save good things?

And by this, I mean do you consider some items so precious that you rarely use them, lest they get, well, used?

I do. And this is not a Good Thing.

Recently I realized that I hoard some of my nicest stuff, ostensibly protecting it from wear so that it will be (mostly) pristine when I want to use it. Which is often never.

This Prada bag is a great example.

bag

 

I bought this a couple of years ago with the idea that it’s a classic and an investment piece.

By “investment,” I also mean in my image and not in potential re-sale value.

This bag was supposed to say something about me: polished, luxe, sophisticated.

Of course I am often not any of those things, so it mostly continues to live in a box in my closet.

When I do take it out, it’s usually to go to a work event, like a conference, and then back the bag goes into its protective home.

I probably feel this way because I didn’t grow up with designer anything around our house and luxury items still sometimes feel irreplaceable if ruined despite consciously telling myself they’re Just Things.

To me, true decadence is having something nice and not really caring at all about it.

A former coworker used to sling around this giant Vuitton bag given to her by her boyfriend like it was a hobo’s bindle. She would carry (and spill) her lunch in it. Toss it in the corner of Labor and Delivery at our hospital. Drag it behind her. I couldn’t imagine ever being that carefree about something so spendy, but the more I think about it, maybe she had the right idea. It’s Just a Thing, and a practical one that’s meant to be used.

My weirdness for saving nice things also extends to travel.

I hate taking worn-out things on trips, so I practically have a whole separate wardrobe of things to wear on vacation.

There are swimsuit coverups and sandals that only see exotic beaches. Cashmere scarves and cardigans that are only meant for drafty airplane coverage. White tees that stay unworn so they can stay white. Delicate clutches for nights on the town. A Kate Spade wallet that I only use for foreign currency (!). You get the idea.

While it’s unlikely that I’ll ever get to my coworker’s carefree state of mind, I think acknowledging the problem is step one to solving it.

The tricky part is that I still am waiting for a personality transplant where I stop ruining everything I touch. Wish me luck.

What about you? Do you save your best stuff or use it with abandon?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Naughty Dog

Now that I re-read it, the above title sounds a bit provocative, but I’m referring to a specific canine who is, in fact, quite ill-behaved.

Meet Penny.

Ostensibly, Penny is 25% Labrador retriever, 25% standard poodle and 50% miniature poodle.

Plausibly, she is 90% Fozzie Bear and 10% Junk Yard Dog.

Penny arrived on the rebound after an unfortunate incident involving our geriatric poodle, a sudden blinding rainstorm and the swimming pool in the house we had lived in for three days.

R.I.P. Frenchie

I’ll let you fill in the gaps, but this was a Trauma of the First Order for our kids, and suddenly a new dog seemed like an *amazing* idea.

My dear friend M. tipped me off about a breeder of impossibly cute doodle puppies, which is basically the Frankenstein version of mating anything with a poodle.

This girl caught my eye.

Can you even?

After an exhaustive application process including references, vetting, an essay about our family and submission of photos of our living space (I conveniently omitted the pool), we were (barely) approved to spend the tidy sum of $3k+ for this fur ball.

The breeder sent such detailed instructions (14 pages!) about puppy care, including an agreement that we must feed her specific food (purchased from her), how we were required to spay her within 6 months or pay a $5ooo fine, how we should address her when we picked the dog up (no eye contact, she will get in our car and sit in the passenger seat), how we needed a specific carrier to bring her home, etc, that I feared we would be disqualified at the 11th hour from dog ownership.

Much to my surprise, when I met at the appointed meeting spot (Parking Lot B – not A! – at the Gander Mountain in Rogers, MN, 8 AM SHARP!, near the grassy knoll), I was stunned to discover that it was not the 60-ish age breeder but a 20-something proxy who pulled up in a battered Subaru, popped the rear gate and dumped a 3 pound stuffed-toy-come-to-life in my arms, all within 15 seconds.

I fell in love.

Day 1
I swear this is not a “Silence of the Lambs” situation.
Stuffed labradoodle vs. Actual labradoodle

The kids had no idea this was coming, and to burst through the door of Fancy Pants Ranch Deux: Fancy Pants Ranchier and shout, “Who wants a puppy?” was a pinnacle of Doctor Mom Life.

We let the kids name her, and they reasonably determined “Penny” was a good fit. I concur.

We hadn’t had a puppy for 18 years, so the brutal reality of new parenthood struck hard.

I spent the summer of 2018 sleeping on a mattress, constantly touching the dog to see if she moved more than 1 mm, which would prompt complete awakening and a trip outdoors.

I learned quickly what is happening in our neighborhood at all hours of the night. (Spoiler: nothing).

Eventually she became more-or-less continent (my new rugs would say otherwise) and she began sleeping through the night.

But what she never stopped was CHEWING ALL THE STUFF.

To date, Penny has consumed 4 pairs of eyeglasses (including at least one lens, which prompts the question of “How is her colon intact?”, and I am SO MAD because that pair was my absolute favorite), the cushions from two leather chairs, countless shoes, the leg of a coffee table, dozens of eviscerated squeaky toys, 5 leashes, a tube of toothpaste, lip balms, LEGOs, and so many various Barbies and their accessories that she is easily the most prolific Barbie Serial Killer Of All Time.

I’m a good girl, I swear.

Yet.

I am her person.

I see her visually track me as I round the corner of the stairs.

She sleeps curled next to me.

She rests on my foot as I type.

She is so warm and fluffy.

I guess I am a dog person after all.

Whatcha Been Doing?

IMG_4914

You know that one time when life was coming at you a million miles an hour and you got overwhelmed, then tried to catch up but you were so far below ground that it seemed impossible to dig your way out, and there were so many things happening – and a lot of them were so, so good – and you wanted to share but there was never enough time, never enough space, but then you decided to push past that and just dive in?

Yeah, that happened.

Nice to see you again.

 

St. Regis Finds

Spouse and I recently spent a glorious week at the St. Regis Punta Mita, and I found myself wanting to take the St. Regis Experience home with me.

IMG_3219

Check out that infinity pool. I mean.

Upon arrival, they will greet you with a cold, perfect margarita, should you choose to imbibe. Of course I did.

The drinks are served in these colorful confetti glasses. I loved them enough to quickly locate a set on Amazon and have them delivered to me before I arrived home.

Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 3.01.12 PM.png

We stayed in a fabulous ocean front one bedroom suite. More on that later. The linens are heavily scented with an aroma that is hard for me to nail down, but trust me when I say the laundry smells fabulous. Later in the week we sent a bunch of workout clothes to be laundered and they came back smelling so nice that I kept sniffing my clean running socks.

While I am not sure what detergent they use, I was able to find a similar pillow mist to what they provide:

Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 2.45.57 PM

I *may* have borrowed the small bottle that was on the nightstand when we arrived, but after researching and ordering, I would say that this Calm Sleep Mist with a lavender/chamomile mix is really, really similar. It’s $19.99 at Amazon.

The sheets and pillows are not too shabby, and by that I mean they are super luxurious. You can buy them directly from the St. Regis online boutique. When I first checked they were having a 20% off sale but now it looks like that promotion is no longer running. I’m sure it will be back and I plan to check around the 4th of July. The oversized bath sheets are the real stars here. I probably could have wrapped them around myself three times. I definitely plan to make a set of these mine.

From the spa, these coconut water drops were a find:

Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 2.45.20 PM

One or two droppers of the concentrated coconut flavor is enough for a 12-16 oz bottle of water. I’ve been putting mine in sparkling water, especially with flavors like pineapple that go well with coconut. Yum.

Also from the spa, a really nicely scented toner from Natura Bisse, a brand I have heard of but had not previously tried:

Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 3.15.18 PM

Here’s a fun one:

Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 3.17.21 PM

Spouse and I enjoyed Moet & Chandon Ice Imperial a few times by the pool. If you’re not familiar, it’s champagne that’s meant to be casually consumed and over ice. Yep, ice in champagne. This is the perfect summer poolside drink. The champagne came served in these cool acrylic ice buckets. These seem to be promotional items from the company. While they can be found on sites like eBay, Moet doesn’t appear to directly sell them. Spouse surprised me by getting me one of my own (although for Veuve Clicquot, which is what we usually serve at home), along with a set of glasses. You can bet I am going to drink champagne while floating in my new pool this summer.

The last thing that really brings the Punta Mita experience home is my collection of odds and ends from the beach:

IMG_3339

I absolutely love beachcombing and spent about two hours a day searching for unique treasures. This beach did not disappoint. I found so many interesting things that I had to get a new bowl to hold it all.

I can’t wait to go back, but in the meantime you can bet I am doing every possible thing to bring the St. Regis to me.

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Break Wrap Up

And, just like that, it took me way longer than anticipated to post The End of the Story.

This post covers my final thoughts on Spring Break 2018 at Walt Disney World with MGM and Trixie.

Since this was already a few months ago, I’ve had quite a few new adventures, including a move, a trip to Mexico with Spouse to celebrate our 20th (!!!!) anniversary, a new pet (also !!!!) and a major remodeling project on Fancy Pants Ranch Deux: Fancy Pants Ranchier. I digress. That will come.

Back to where we left off:

IMG_3096

The final full Disney day of our trip was spent at EPCOT. Personally, I love EPCOT, especially wandering about the World Showcase pavilions and the food, food, food. EPCOT tends to be the more adult-oriented of all the parks, which is why I think my kids found it a teensy bit boring as their last day.

We used our premium FastPass for the new Frozen ride, which meant we were shut off from a FastPass for Soarin’ – one of my all-time favorites. That strategy meant that we needed to get to Soarin’ first thing in the morning, and I had the kids out of the hotel and hustling through the back International Gateway entrance when the park opened. We bee-lined to Soarin’ and were rewarded with a walk-on to the ride. Once it was over, we ate breakfast at Sunshine Seasons (I think this is what it’s called) and rode The Land, the other ride in the Soarin’ building.

The EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival was also occurring during our visit (see topiary above), and we opted to buy a scavenger hunt map where we could identify small bee statues throughout the park and turn our completed scorecard in for a prize (embroidered patches, if you’re wondering). I think the cost for the map was about $6, which was worth it since it gave us something else to do.

IMG_3107

We also sampled some of the festival’s food specialties like this cauliflower dish:

IMG_3103

Oh, and I had a small beer with it.

I thought the Festival merchandise was cute and bought a tank top and keychain. The rose gold ears below are Trixie’s:

IMG_3115

MGM also found a shirt he liked:

IMG_3113

He draped it over my back while I was not looking. Not my most flattering photo.

As far as rides went, EPCOT is kind of thin on the thrillers. We rode Soarin’, The Land, Frozen, the boat ride in Mexico (I loved the re-theming of the pavilion to update it after “Coco” with more Dia de los Muertos imagery), Spaceship Earth (whatever the big golf ball is called), and watched the movie in the France pavilion. BTW, the soundtrack to that is really enjoyable and I was able to download a copy of it from iTunes.

Overall, though, the EPCOT day rolled out at a much slower pace and I think the kids missed the adrenaline rush of the other parks. Next time I would put an EPCOT day in the middle versus the end of the trip.

On Friday morning, we packed up to head home. Our flight wasn’t until late afternoon so we went to a science museum-ish thing in Orlando, ate a late lunch, turned in the rental car and got on the plane.

This was one of the rare trips where I felt like I got packing right. I brought everything from my March Stitch Fix and only a few more pieces. I was able to do a quick load of laundry at my mom’s place on the front end of the trip so I also could recycle a few pieces along the way, despite the sweat-inducing heat.

Here are a few looks:

IMG_3084

Shirt is Old Navy and shorts are from Stitch Fix

IMG_2907

Same shorts and shirt is from my last Fix

IMG_2927

All Madewell from a last season

Dress is Lilly Pulitzer tunic with SPF 50 (I liked this so much I bought another in a different print. The style is called “Sophie.”)

 

IMG_3120

Basically everything minus workout clothes

IMG_3119

The shoes I lived in

IMG_3114

Plane outfit, both ways. Sweatshirt and tank are Athleta, scarf is Spring ’18 from the Gap, shoes Kenneth Cole, bracelets mostly Kinsley Armelle, bag is Chloe and sunglasses are a cheap-o pair from the flea market we visited at the start of the trip

Thanks for following along! I love travel and especially packing for travel. This was one of the rare trips where I got it right.

 

 

 

Spring Break 2018, Part 2

With the first part of the trip done, MGM (10), Trixie (9), and I had the rest of our Spring Break week to spend doing all things Disney. See yesterday’s post for Part 1.

IMG_2942

We had three day park hopper passes, which allowed us to do exactly what that sounds like – skip from park to park, essentially exhausting ourselves across the Disney complex from sunrise to last call.

I thought that since the kids were a bit older now we’d be able to go all day until we ran on empty. That turned out to be wrong.

They were mostly one and done, parks-wise.

I consulted a few blogs (this is my favorite) for touring strategies, and we made Fast Pass reservations for the following:

  • Day 1: Magic Kingdom – Big Thunder Mountain, Peter Pan, Snow White Mine Train
  • Day 2: Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios – Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, Flight of the Avatar. We got a bonus Fast Pass later that day for the Tower of Terror.
  • Day 3: EPCOT – Frozen Ever After, Spaceship Earth, Journey into Imagination

Day 1 was a lot of fun. I love the Magic Kingdom. Many of the recent times I’ve been in that park has been during a running event, and that hardly counts since my primary goal is to keep moving forward.

We got to the Magic Kingdom about 25 minutes after rope drop and watched the stand by line for Space Mountain creep from 25 to 40 minutes as we (briskly) walked to the entrance. Still, it would climb to more than 180 minutes later in the day, so this was worth it.

We ended up doing almost all of the classic rides and also were able to see a new Muppet show in Liberty Square. This runs several times per day and is rife with Muppet humor. It started a year or so ago and I have been wishing for the opportunity to see it; I loved it. This lasts 10-15 minutes and is totally worth stopping to watch.

IMG_2934

The kids were ready to leave the Magic Kingdom around 5:30 PM, after arriving around 8:30 AM. We caught a Disney bus back to the hotel. They were ready to call it a night.

Day 2: Animal Kingdom

IMG_2963

I’ve technically been inside Animal Kingdom four separate times while running the Disney Marathon, but I never stopped to look around or get oriented. I also realized that each time, I missed seeing the spectacular Tree of Life (above), which is just awesome. I’ve seen so many pictures of this but to see it in person was something special.

Flight of the Avatar is currently one of the hottest attractions at any of the Disney parks, and for good reason. It is immersive (4D?) and you really feel like you are flying on the back of a dragon-like creature. Unfortunately, it was so realistic that I felt motion sickness and had to close my eyes twice. I was slightly wobbly as we exited. Both kids declared it the best ever, but the 180+ minute wait precluded them from a second trip via stand by.

 

Expedition Everest was also a terrific surprise. The only thing I’d ever heard about this roller coaster was that runners could ride it during the marathon. I’ve never felt confident enough to do a hard stop during the race (and it comes mid-race, maybe mile 15-16?) and then resume the furor once the coaster ride is done. MGM sat this one out, but Trixie and I were surprised and delighted when the ride suddenly encountered broken tracks and then went backwards. Huge thrill.

Comment about the food: we tried eating at a few places in Animal Kingdom and struck out miserably. This was disappointing as there are apparently several interesting/good restaurants in the park. I was totally hypoglycemic and had a twist cone from something that looked like a food truck. In the moment it was the best ice cream cone I’ve ever had.

Kilimanjaro Safaris were another kid pleaser. MGM insisted on taking my phone to capture animal images. I’ll spare you the 200+ photos he took on this 20 minute ride.

IMG_3003

We had enough stamina to park hop to Hollywood Studios, where we saw Muppet Vision 3D (another favorite for me) and scored bonus Fast Passes for the Tower of Terror. MGM was solidly NOT into riding Tower. Trixie had trepidation but went through  with it, ultimately declaring it one of her favorites. She’s still talking about it, especially the part where the ride attendant ominously said “Good luck” as the elevator doors were closing.

I just can’t get enough Muppets, so we had dinner that night at Pizzerizzo, a new-ish Muppet-themed pizza restaurant. It took a while to get our order since Trixie had to wait for a gluten free pizza, but everything arrived hot and fresh. My cheese pizza tasted exactly like an individual sized DiGiorno pizza, although well-prepared. I am not saying that as a criticism since I have been well-known to eat DiGiorno. We all got a spectacular kick out of the restrooms, which were labeled with signage for “Gonzo’s Executive Used Toilets Showroom.”

IMG_3078

The kids were zonked at this point and we decided to head back to the Swan hotel. There is a path from Hollywood Studios to the Boardwalk hotels that is slightly less than a mile. Walking it is quicker than any other transportation; plus there is the added effect of exhausting your kids to the point that they will immediately fall asleep once they return to the hotel room.

Fait accompli.

Next (and this got too long so I had to break it up): EPCOT, outfits, final thoughts.

 

 

Spring Break 2018

Last month the kids and I escaped winter and went to Florida, along with seemingly everyone else in Minnesota. 

IMG_3075

It’s a fake out. They’re actually quite warm.

Except Spouse, who held down the fort and was on geriatric dog duty.

Oh, and he bought a new house while we were gone. Lots more about the latest iteration of Fancy Pants Ranch to come.

Here’s how the three of us spent our trip time:

  • Part 1 – My mom’s place (2 nights)
  • Part 2 – Disney (5 nights)

My Mom’s place is about an hour south of Orlando, located in an “active senior community.” Think lots of golf carts. Also many, many rules about street parking, community pool use, etc.

IMG_2887

This part was pretty low-key. We went swimming, worked on a puzzle and mostly hung out. One morning we went to a nearby flea market. There was an astounding amount of absolute junk.

Later that day I took the kids to Legoland. This was my second – and hopefully last – time there. It was crowded, hot and the lines for rides were painfully long. Most of the rides are low capacity and there seemed to be a high number of park guests with various passes that allowed them to cut right to the front of the line, which was frustrating to those of us who had been waiting 45 minutes for a 45 second ride. This was not money well spent.

IMG_2901

After two nights at my Mom’s, we headed back to Orlando to check into the Swan Hotel, which is one of my favorite places to stay. I’ve mentioned the Swan so many times here; I love the fact that it is a Westin in disguise (it’s sister hotel, The Dolphin, is a Sheraton), so I can earn loyalty points. Because I spent a lot of last year living in a hotel, I am currently a Platinum Starwood member and we were upgraded to a family suite. This was a terrific place to spend five nights.

IMG_2915

We arrived at the Swan on a Sunday but were only planning to do the Disney parks Tuesday – Thursday, so we had about a day and a half to spend otherwise occupied. This was easy to do.

We went to Disney Springs and bought an overpriced stuffed rabbit at Build A Bear. We bought Lego mini figures. We ate dinners at Trattoria al Forno on the Boardwalk and Bluezoo. We swam in the excellent pools at the Swan and Dolphin.

And finally it was time for Disney!

Up next: our Disney parks days and trip packing list.