Sunday, July 26, 2015

New York City

Chad had meetings for work in New York City last week and I got to tag along! We were able to stay an extra day and a half to sight see, which was super exciting since I have never been to NYC. Tuesday morning we were up at 4:30 AM so we could catch the 6:00 AM train. This was another first for me as I had never traveled by train before.  Growing up in Nebraska, there isn't much train travel; there is one Amtrak line that runs through the state, but you only have limited options as to where you can go.  Both Chad and I agreed we prefer train travel to plane.  Yes, it takes a bit longer to get where you are going, but I love how laid back it security checks, no lines; you simply hop on and go.  And the seats are awesome!

Since we were getting into Penn Station in the heart of NYC during the afternoon, and staying in Brooklyn, I proposed that we only pack backpacks for the week.  This way we didn't have to cart our luggage all over the subways.  I am glad we did because they were stuffed full of people at rush hour!  I chose this backpack after a long drawn out search. Anytime I shop for anything new, hours are spent reading the reviews and comparing prices. I have 3 other trips planned this summer and fall besides New York, so I knew I needed something that would be a good carry-on....or in this case, my only piece of luggage.  I loved it; it was a little more attractive than a typical backpack and was very comfy to wear and did not hurt my back.

All ready to go....I do not smile at 5:00 AM!

I packed 3 dresses, a sleeveless jacket, a pair of sandals, a cardigan, pjs, a bag with makeup and hair stuff, and my kindle.  I wore a tank top, jeans, and flats the day of travel. The dresses were thin and easy to pack and did not wrinkle, so I didn't have to worry about ironing. The only thing I wish I would have packed was a hairdryer, but I wasn't able to find a good travel-sized one before I left.  Because of this I mostly wore my hair up until the last day when we stayed in a hotel with a hair dryer.

So on to the fun pictures!

We stayed in Brooklyn the first two nights since Chad had meetings there.  We found a cute little coffee shop, Roots Cafe, right down the road from our apartment. If you ever go to Brooklyn, I highly recommend it.  The owner, Amanda, is the sweetest lady, and their coffee is unbeatable; the salted caramel iced coffee is to die for!

Perking up a bit after getting rained on and coffee......

The next day Chad had meetings in Brooklyn during to morning hours.  What a great little bakery and cafe for a meeting!

After his meetings were accomplished we headed into Manhattan where we visited the 9-11 Museum and the pools on the grounds.  It was a very sobering experience to be in the exact place of the terror attacks almost 14 years ago. The museum was great and I highly recommend a visit here if you are ever in NYC.

The day was dreary....very appropriate for visiting the memorial.

The Freedom Tower, The Survivor Tree, and The Last Column

After the museum, we stopped for a late lunch at the little corner cafe and then wandered around the Tribeca neighborhood and out to the pier. We also caught the Staten Island Ferry and got a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty.  Next time we go to NYC I want to go to Ellis Island and actually visit the Statue of Liberty on her island.

The view from the ferry coming back into the city.

To end the day we walked over the Brooklyn Bridge and spent a little time at the Brooklyn Bridge Park.  The view of NYC and the Freedom tower were beautiful as was the old brick and architecture on the bridge!

The following day was sunnier and we moved into the city for our final night there.  We had a hotel just off of Times Square and the hustle and bustle of the area. What a day!  

We decided we would walk to Central Park from our hotel on 42nd and made a quick stop and Grand Central Station. Unfortunately, the pictures didn't turn out the greatest since I just got a new phone and am learning how to use the camera feature.

From there we continued on foot to Central Park where we stopped at Tavern on the Green for lunch.

Shortly after this is when we heard about the shootings in Chattanooga of 4 Marines and 1 Sailor at a training facility, so my pictures from the rest of Central Park are not that great. Since we have family in Chattanooga and ties to the recruit center that was shot up, it really hit home for me. :-( My mind was on it all rather than taking good pictures.

The rest of the day was spent wandering all the way to the north end of Central Park at 108th! Central Park is beautiful, but next time I go I need to pack better shoes!

Chad and I eventually made it back to our hotel, exhausted.  This was our last night in the city so I suggested that even though we were tired, we make a quick trip to the Empire State Building.  I have watched An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in Seattle too many times! Of course, like any tourist spot in NYC it wasn't quick!!  Our exhausted bodies, which had walked almost 10 miles that day in bad shoes, had to stand in line for 2 hours.  It was after we purchased our tickets so we just couldn't give up and go back to our hotel.....Needless to say we took a few pictures and headed back. Very anti climatic....... :-)

The last morning we had intentions of catching the subway to the Chelsea Market, but we were so tired from our two days of walking.  Instead, we just grabbed a bagel at a little corner shop and wandered the Times Square area a bit before catching the afternoon train home.

So that is a wrap up of NYC. It was a fun trip and we definitely want to go back, but next time we will pack better shoes! I have to say, I enjoyed Brooklyn a little more; it's quieter than Manhattan and I loved the old buildings and cool park.  Plus, the restaurants and coffee shops are fabulous and quite a bit cheaper. We will certainly stay in Brooklyn again if we go back.  

My minimal packing also worked out just fine. It was great to have the freedom of just a backpack to worry over and I really didn't miss all the extra stuff I pack, except a hairdryer.

I have another trip planned next week.  I am SO excited to head to San Diego to see Naomi and stay with my Aunt and Uncle.  I haven't been to San Diego for 25 years, so I am anxious to see the city as an adult as well as spend time with family.

Have a lovely week, friends!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Minimalizing My Life

Since moving to Virginia in 2013, I have been on a quest to minimalize my life.  It started when we moved by selling half of our belongings, but it has continued since then. Even so, our little farm house is still packed to the brim with stuff.  I go through spurts when I purge and haul boxes to goodwill and consignment stores and sell on eBay.  That being said, I also want my home to be comfortable, so I will buy things and bring them home to make our nest more homey. I try to do the one-thing-in one-thing-out rule when I buy things for my home.  If I buy something that better fits our space, something has to leave and go on to a new owner. Sometimes it's more like two or three things go to new homes.

Example: our laundry room sits right off our kitchen and is open to that room; you have to pass through it to use the bathroom.  While the practical Rubbermaid laundry hamper that I've had for years serves the purpose for dirty clothes, it's far from attractive to look at when a guest is walking into my bathroom from the kitchen. I want to buy a more decorative hamper with a lid to replace it. This is not a need, but something I want that will make my home more attractive. Since I will be buying a new hamper, the old Rubbermaid one will go on to a new home, perhaps along with an extra clothes basket I have that just takes up space in the laundry room.

I still have decor on the shelves and pictures on the walls and love to decorate my home.  I'm sure that won't ever change, but I am leaning towards only having what I love and what works in my space, not just something to fill a space or for "someday." I'm still working how to incorporate family heirlooms into this mix.  There are many I LOVE, but there are many that are really not my taste. While I would like to purge them now, they lie in wait for my daughters to have homes of their own and perhaps take them.  If not, they will be passed on to other family members.

This minimalizing has carried on into my clothes; over the past year I have purged and whittled down my wardrobe.  I read many books and blogs on the subject and loved the idea of having basic pieces I could mix and match and easily find something to wear everyday.  Also, after years of being a shopaholic, this was one exercise I could do to help my addiction.  I use the same rule as I do in my home; keep what I love and get rid of the excess.  If a piece of clothing makes me feel unattractive or frumpy, out it goes. I have paired it down to what I feel is a good number for me, about 70 items that are interchangeable through all seasons. This includes clothing, coats, belts, and shoes.  It does not include sleepwear, workout clothing, or intimates. Those are paired down, too, and are only replaced when they wear out.

About a year ago I decided to start the capsule wardrobe concept. Basically it a a minimal amount of clothes per season that mix and match and are appropriate for all but the dressiest events. The number in my capsules is about 35 items each season. I shop my wardrobe first for appropriate items for the season. If something needs replaced or upgraded, shopping for a new item can be done the month before the new season starts . For instance, I will begin shopping for my fall capsule in August and I'm beginning to think about the kind of clothing I want to include in my fall capsule and a few upgrades I want to do.  My 1 pair of skinny jeans have seen better days and need replaced for fall.  I want to invest in a higher quality pair that will last for years to come, so I am saving my monthly allowance to make this purchase. I only plan on buying 2-3 new things for this fall and all will replace something that is already in my wardrobe that is either wearing out or no longer my taste. The old item will either go to consignment or goodwill.

I also have a dressy capsule.  Two pairs of heels, two dressier dresses, and coordinating jewelry for formal events.  This is not included in my regular capsule number. If a dressy event occurs, I wear clothing from this group.

I have always been a minimal jewelry wearer, and usually only get new jewelry if it is gifted to me. My jewelry box contains a few pieces I have bought for myself over the years, a few pieces gifted to me, and a few things passed on from my Mom.

Just like my home, I love fashion. So I will never be the person who only owns 2 pairs of pants, 1 dress, 3 tops, and two pairs of shoes. I admire those people who can look so put-together with such a small wardrobe, but it isn't for me. The capsule concept has really helped hone in my style, learn to dress well with less, and also to be content with what I have. It has also saved money since I only shop the month before my capsule and limit my purchases.  There is no comfort shopping now. I have months to think about what I want to buy, so there is no spur of the moment purchases I regret.

How about you, friend?  Does minimalism appeal to you?  Perhaps you are a minimalist without even trying.  Or maybe you are a shopaholic like I used to be and long to change. I'd love to hear from you.

My next blog post will cover the trip Chad and I recently made to NYC and how I was able to pack for 4 days in just a backpack.  Another perk of minimal have money to travel since you spend less elsewhere, and you can travel light!