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:

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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.

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

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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:

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MGM also found a shirt he liked:

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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:

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Shirt is Old Navy and shorts are from Stitch Fix

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Same shorts and shirt is from my last Fix

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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.”)

 

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Basically everything minus workout clothes

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The shoes I lived in

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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.

 

 

 

A Note From Last Week and the Lo & Sons O.G. in Action

I think I mentioned it about a week ago, but hotel living is starting to get old.

The kids are really feeling it, too.

MGM (9) and Trixie (7) are very different kids, so they are responding in very different ways, but Spouse and I can tell that it’s hard on all of us to have me gone during the week.

Since the weather was slightly more cooperative last week (meaning no active snowing or icy conditions; it was still freezing cold but the roads were dry), I decided to come home mid-week for a night and break the trip up.

That meant that I only had one night – Thursday – during the second half of the week to be away from home. I decided to try two new things: a hotel I’d never stayed at before and to pack lightly with just my Lo & Sons O.G. bag.

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Sidenote: I’ve mentioned it a million times, but I am on a perpetual quest for Starwood Hotel status, specifically Platinum status for 2018 and Gold for Life. I already hit Gold for this year with 11 stays to date (it’ll be lucky number 13 after this week if I break it up again into two parts), and I may just clear that Platinum bar in two more months.

The new hotel where I decided to stay is a Sheraton. It’s about the same distance from my office as the place I usually stay, but I discovered it’s in a less populated (read: creepy, industrial) neighborhood.

And there are giant power lines criss crossing the parking lot:

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Room with a (bad) view

I should have captured a picture of the architecture, which is early 1980s style at its worst. The exterior is all smoked glass and there is an interior atrium area with a bridge crossing from the lobby to the elevator bank. An ugly conference/ballroom area is below. It’s hideous. Fortunately, though, the hotel apparently got a massive cosmetic rehab a year ago and so the rooms were pretty nice. I am not sure I will stay there again, unless I can get a major deal. I digress.

Since I was only going to pack for one night, I didn’t need much. While I usually pack workout stuff, I didn’t need it because I would head home Friday night for an appointment with my trainer at the gym, so I could skip the hotel workout (I made Thursday a rest day). I also decided to wear my Rag and Bone Newbury boots two days in a row, so I didn’t even need extra shoes. In the end, here’s what I packed into my Lo & Sons bag:

  • Blouse (old, from Anthropologie)
  • J. Crew Pixie pants
  • A light cardigan
  • Necklace (Lilly Pulitzer)
  • Pajamas, socks
  • Hair Brushes (round, foldable)
  • Glasses
  • Toiletries
  • Makeup
  • Laptop

And it barely fit.

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We’re talking zippers-almost-ripping full by the time I got all of this packed. One concession I’ll make is that I could have reduced the size of my toiletry bag, but it’s already pre-packed and I didn’t have the time on energy to re-do it.

Not only was the bag stuffed, it was heavy and difficult to carry. I was really disappointed with this Real World test, especially since I’d been so pleased with the bag up to this point.

I may try using this solely for the gym. I probably wouldn’t use it as a work bag because the shape and style don’t seem right for that. Where it might make sense is to use it as a carry-on personal item on a flight, although you would still need to pack a separate suitcase for clothes. This would nicely accommodate a laptop, some magazines, a bottle of water, travel wrap and a small purse.

Speaking of purses, my shoulders got tired of slinging around heavy totes and I switched out to this handbag:

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The photo doesn’t do it justice. This is a gorgeous royal blue Prada bag with bold hardware. I think I’ll be using this for a while, but the Lo & Sons probably will be chilling on the top shelf of my closet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing My Style to Las Vegas

Recently I posted about my upcoming trip to Las Vegas and how I wanted to represent myself there, style-wise.

And today’s the day! We’re off for a weekend of (hopefully massive) fun and (minimal) debauchery.

The itinerary looks like this:

  • Friday: Travel, race packet pick-up and running expo, pre-race party Friday night
  • Saturday: Brunch, pool, maybe leisurely shopping in the early afternoon, 5k race late afternoon, dinner
  • Sunday: Sleep, pool, rest, pre-race concert in late afternoon and half marathon starting in early evening, after party (although this is reportedly pretty tame since it’s populated by a group of people who just spent 2+ hours running)
  • Monday: Breakfast, airport, home

Here’s what I decided to pack.

Friday (travel): Lole pants, Splendid striped shirt, perforated booties and a blazer that I got from Evereve for $148 but mimics the style of Veronica Beard. I’m bringing a favorite scarf in my personal bag, which is a Rebecca Minkoff backpack.

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This is what the Veronica Beard blazer looks like. The sweatshirt collar is faux and can be removed with buttons. It creates a cool layered look without the bulk. The knock-off I bought is eerily similar. I wish the Evereve website had a picture, but all I have is the one above for now.

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Photo via Nordstrom

Backpack:

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For the pre-race party on Friday night, I’m wearing a black dolman sleeve top, my new Banana Republic dark wash ankle jeans, a Kendra Scott necklace, the perforated booties, and a cross-body bag. I’m bringing a J. Crew Downtown Field Jacket to wear if needed. Temps are supposedly ranging between the mid-50s and high 70s.

I’m not sure what my daytime wear will be on Saturday and Sunday, but I’m packing one pair of cut-off shorts, a favorite tee (old from Kate Spade), and chambray shirt, and a dressier short sleeved olive top from the Gap to give me options.

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This crochet fringe top from the Gap is made from a thin sweater material. It’s really pretty. The fit is a bit oversized, though, so size down if you try this. I got it on sale and had a hard time deciding between olive – a color I am suddenly really into – and white, so I got both and am happy I did.

For the pool, I’ll bring one swimsuit and a bright Lilly Pulitzer cover-up, plus sandals.

After the 5k race on Saturday night, I’m falling back to an old favorite. I’m wearing black ankle length pants and a sleeveless gray cowl neck sweater from the Holiday 2012 collection from Banana Republic (practically vintage!), along with pointy ankle boots and silver fringe earrings. If it’s cool, I’ll wear the blazer. Even though this outfit is old, it’s tried and true and I know I will feel comfortable and like my best self in it.

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Obviously for two races, I’m bringing two running outfits. I haven’t fully decided which one will be worn in which race yet. In case the night is cool, I can opt between a tank or long-sleeved shirt to wear with my new Gap tights, and I also brought a half-zip pullover (also Gap) to ward off post-running chill. Being sweaty and then cold is terrible.

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Sunday’s day outfits are going to look a lot like Saturday. For Sunday night, I’ll either wear the chambray shirt or a soft gray sweater with the (now recycled) black pants. I panicked and also added a sleeveless black rayon top with faux leather trim in case we end up doing something fancier than I expect.

Monday’s travel outfit will be recycled or unworn items.

For my shoe game, I’m bringing four pairs: perforated boots, pointy boots, sandals and running shoes. I’d like to get it down to three, but even though I like to travel light, I can’t agree to wear my running shoes in any other context not involving exercise.

For this trip, I’d give myself a packing score of B. It’s too soon to tell, but I probably overpacked by bringing a blazer PLUS a jacket, a sweater (which I am not sure I’ll wear but wanted in case it was over air conditioned in the hotel), three pairs of pants (probably the jeans and black pants would have sufficed) PLUS shorts, and the chambray shirt. I think I did well with editing my shoes. I decided to bring two pairs of booties because they are quite different in tone; the pointy ones are much dressier than the casual perforated pair. Ditto on bringing just a backpack and a cross-body bag, especially since bags are a huge weakness of mine and I own too many.

I’ll post a trip report when we return. Have a great weekend!

 

 

The Only Two Pairs of Heels You Need

I recently decided that these two pairs of heels could get me through just about anything requiring a little height.

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This wonderful packing and travel website has really influenced my two recent trips to Ireland and Alaska, and there’s been spillover to my wardrobe in general.

This video and packing list for a ten day cruise in a foreign country really blew my mind. Everything you need fits into a duffel bag? Wow.

I tried to put these rules to the test during my recent Alaskan cruise. While I wasn’t perfect, I managed to bring just two pairs of heels.

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The left pair is from Sam Edelman. The one on the right is Michael Kors, which I got for a screaming deal on the sale rack at Macy’s. Originally $135, these were marked down to $55.

[Shopping tip on how I scored this sweet deal: they were in the size 9.5 section, which is a half size larger than what I normally buy, but it’s a rack that has a lot more leftover shoes on it than the more popular (smaller) sizes. Think big! With the ankle strap and the pointy toe, going up a half size makes these supportive and supremely comfortable. There is nothing worse than having pinched toes all day. Ouch. Note that I am actually about an 8.75, which is a shoe size that does not exist, but I will get to that later].

Our Alaskan cruise was my sixth Disney cruise, and normally I would bring about five dressy outfits for a seven night trip. Those five outfits often came with five pairs of shoes and at least two evening bags.

This time I brought just two dresses (the cornflower blue Hanna from M.M. LaFleur I mentioned earlier this week) and a plain LBD. I planned to wear each of them twice and then for the rest of the nights, I would wear a pair of black J. Crew pants with a leather tuxedo stripe detail on the side.

I snapped up these J. Crew pants about a year ago on clearance for $29. This is a similar style:

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The pants, in particular, are real chameleons. I paired them with a black and white striped peplum top, a sweater and a dressy poncho. I wore them about four times on the trip and could have even reduced my packing to just one dress. I’ll remember this for my next trip.

[And the evening bag: this on trend one from Banana Republic, but in black].

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And now back to the shoes.

My one-two combo of nude and black heels covered all the bases.

I saw other people with entire suitcases of shoes (really!) and felt like for once, I’d gotten it right.

One tiny miscalculation: the cool Alaskan temps made my feet a little smaller than usual. The Sam Edelman d’Orsay pair shown above were in a size 9, and my technically-size-8.75-feet kept slipping at the heels. I ended up wearing the nude pair twice, but I didn’t get the mileage out of them that I’d hoped.

When I got home, I managed to take the things that I loved about the black pair and mostly translate it into another nude pair: pointy toes, supportive straps, etc. The Sole Society pair at the very top were $69 at Nordstrom. For these I had to size down to an 8.5 (the only size they had left), but they fit perfectly and are comfortable enough for all day wear (work tested, work approved).

I’m going to try to keep these two pairs in reserve, saving them mostly for travel. I have this weird thing where I don’t like to take really worn-out things on a trip (especially shoes), but I think these will be more than enough for almost any dressy destination.

Now I just need to plan my next adventure…

P.S. The type of pair I would add if I had to bring dressy sandals:

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Yes, I am still obsessing over these.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I Packed for Ireland

This feels fragile, since I’m typing before I’ve actually left the Continental 48.

With my passport arriving in the nick of time, I’m hoping that I’ll be in Dublin, Ireland, as you read this.

For this trip, I took a cue from Hitha On the Go and packed a duffel for my European trip.

Why a duffel?

A 54-minute layover at La Guardia cemented the deal to carry on, only.

What I brought, more or less:

  • This Kate Spade Saturday Weekender bag, which appears to no longer be available since the Saturday brand closed shop.

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  • Three pairs of shoes: Converse shoes for the plane and walking around, Tory Burch flats for anything slightly dressy, and running shoes.

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  • Running gear, since we’re going for a race. This is all tucked into the bottom of the bag, which has a zippered compartment.

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  • Two sweaters (one from Athleta and the other from an early Stitch Fix)

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  • A thin black Splendid sweater

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  • Two pairs of jeans (skinny, boyfriend) and a pair of printed pants from Athleta (not shown, which is a shame because they are very cute and on sale right now)

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  • Two scarves

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  • Compression socks to keep my legs fresh on the plane

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  • PJs, underwear, socks (not showing, sorry!)
  • Toiletries (here’s where I used up a lot of the samples I’ve hoarded, including a lot of single-use foil packets. This is also a great compact travel razor)

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Here’s how I’m putting the outfits together:

1. Layered outfit to travel to Ireland (jeans, a white tank, a Sundry tee, Athleta sweater, scarf, Converse shoes, necklace):

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2. Saturday for packet pickup and walking around (boyfriend jeans, blue tank, plaid shirt, Converse shoes):

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3. Saturday dinner (black tank, black sweater, printed pants, flats, fancy earrings, printed scarf, nylon crossbody bag)

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4. Sunday #1 – Race outfit (see above)

5. Sunday #2 – Pub dinner (jeans, blue tank, white sweater, flats, scarf, earrings)

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6. Monday sightseeing – Recycled outfit from Saturday night’s dinner

7. Tuesday traveling home (jeans, striped tee, Athleta sweater, Converse shoes)

Here’s a shot of almost everything that went in the duffel, minus the running stuff which was already in the bottom compartment:

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It all fit neatly into the bag with some room to spare.

I was aspiring to wear everything twice, and I might not quite get there with a couple of the pieces, but I can live with that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alaska Prep

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We’re headed to Alaska this summer on a Disney cruise, and while August is still a mere dream, an email last week reminded me that we could start booking shore excursions now.

The possibilities are almost overwhelming. Whale watching? Dog sledding? Salmon fishing? A helicopter trip to a glacier?

A deep dive into the reviews, offerings and a quick poll of the family gave us a shortlist of port adventures.

I think we’ve settled on a train trip, panning for gold, whale watching, salmon fishing and feasting (guys), and bear watching (girls). I’ve also got my eye on snagging a primo champagne brunch reservation for the grown-ups on the day that we slowly sail through Tracy Arm, a breathtaking fjord.

I’m also starting to think about packing.

I asked a lot of people I know who’ve been to Alaska for advice, and many suggested rain ponchos, bug spray, a waterproof backpack and binoculars for everyone in the family. We currently have one nice pair of binocs, but I see the value in getting even some extra collapsible cheapies for the times we’re split up.

I also want to take advantage of end-of-season sales to get some warm gear for the kids.

My son is the easiest to pack for; he wears whatever we bring with little fuss. Spouse is basically the same way, so after I made a quick packing list for MGM, I just copied it and added “suit and extra blazer” to make one for Spouse.

As for me, I want to bring stuff that’s appropriately rugged (and warm), but still with a lot of style. 

What’s on my short list:

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I bought these jackets last fall, shortly after booking the Alaska trip (you have to do it so far in advance!), but I’ve kept them out of heavy rotation so far to keep them looking good.

The one on the left is the J. Crew Downtown Field Jacket, which is chic but sturdy (only downside: everyone else feels the same way; it’s ubiquitous), and the one on the right is from Athleta.

I went into Title Nine last weekend to check out a few things from their catalog, and I ended up getting a layering sweater in purple:

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These Clamber pants also caught my eye, but I’m going to wait until a little closer to the trip to bite:

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I love the fabric and I think these pants would be good for adventures off the boat (hiking) as well as to-and-fro-ing on the ship.

Everything I read also suggests bringing comfortable shoes. I think I’ll invest in some trail running shoes for hiking but plan for these to be my staple day pair, especially when we’re knocking around Vancouver, BC, for two days before sailing away.

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What I’ll most certainly overpack is scarves. I have a zillion, I love to wear them, and nothing punches up a cold-weather outfit better, especially when you’re wearing the same coat over and over.

This new treasure is making the cut. The spots are neon pink. Love!

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Photo from Evereve

One weird little thing: I hate taking ratty pajamas on a trip, so usually I get a few new pairs on sale for everyone in the family before we take off.

The cute PJ Salvage ones are on sale and right up my alley for a cold weather vacation:

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I’m sure this list will continue to expand in the next few months… Can you tell I’m getting excited to go?