Packing List: San Francisco and L.A.

Packing List - San Francisco & LA One of the best things about being a freelancer is that I can work from anywhere. This week, it’s San Francisco and L.A., as I tag along on one of my fiancé’s business trips. See, he travels so much for work that he achieved this insane status on Southwest called “Companion Pass,” which means whenever he books a ticket, he gets a second one for free. I know: WHAT? It seems to be good to be true, but I’m here to tell you it’s not, and I’m reaping the benefits. ANYWAY, as I said, this week we’re on the west coast. The first half of the week is in San Francisco (one of my all-time cities and home to much of my extended family – but more on that another time), and the rest of the week and weekend in Los Angeles, where Andy’s sister lives and will play host to us.

Packing for two different cities and two different climates in one carry-on suitcase causes me major stress and minor heart palpitations, but I somehow managed to do it. For the slightly cooler, fog-prone San Francisco, I included layers, like these lightweight pants I bought from Athleta two days ago and am already obsessed with. For the LA heat (it’s going to be in the high 80s!), I loaded up on tanks and breezy pieces, like this skirt and jumpsuit, which I’m still getting used to wearing. I’m also ridiculously excited to break out the white pants, white watch, and super summery lip color because, OVER THIS WINTER. (BTW – I swear by Sephora’s lip stain—it stays on for ages.) And in an attempt to exercise while here (and hopefully go for a hike in LA), I squeezed in my pair of lightweight Nikes.

Pleione Racerback Tank // GAP 1969 Resolution True Skinny Skimmer Jeans // DKNY Ceramic Bracelet Watch // Athleta ‘Aspire’ Ankle Pant // Lo & Sons ‘The Pearl’ Crossbody Bag // Franco Sarto ‘Grip’ Sandal // Nike Flex Supreme TR3 // Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Watermelon Slice //  H&M Circular Skirt // Lulu’s ‘Learning to Fly’ Jumpsuit

And in honor of packing breezy pieces because, obviously:

Packing List: Weekend in Florida

Weekend in Florida

In a couple days, Andy and I are meeting his parents in Florida for the long weekend. His plan is to golf as much as possible; my plan is to soak up as much sun as possible (golf and I do not mix). Though the forecast right now is looking grim (highs in the 60s, what?), I’m holding out hope that this week’s 75-degree weather will ultimately extend into the weekend. And my packing list reflects my denial. The trip is going to be a laid-back, casual one, which makes the packing pretty easy: No need for excessive jewelry, any form of heels, or dressy clothes. If the weather holds up, my uniform will be a bathing suit (I have this one from Victoria’s Secret in two different prints; it’s the most flattering bikini I’ve ever owned–both top and bottom), shorts and a loose-fitting crop top. For cool nights (or days??) I’m packing my favorite, light-weight versatile scarf, a pair of trusty Keds, and a jean jacket. My beach bag is actually a kitschy bag I bought at Harrods in London many, many years ago. It folds down completely flat in my suitcase, holds all the necessities (with a zipper top), and its waxy finish keeps it waterproof. And I cannot go anywhere without my Kindle (currently reading: Eightysixed by Chicagoan Emily Belden); with this waterproof case, it’s completely beach-friendly.

What are your vacation necessities?

Gap Denim Jacket // H&M Double Layer Tank // Old Navy Denim Cut-Off Shorts // Franco Sarto ‘Grip’ Sandal // Tildon Metallic Straw Hat // Ted Baker Biotime Sunglasses // Victoria’s Secret Getaway Halter // Victoria’s Secret The Ruffle Cheeky Bottom // Harrods Pretty City Shoulder Bag // Tasha ‘The Ringer’ Infinity Scarf // Keds Champion Washed Stripe Sneaker // Felicity & Coco Stripe Scoop Neck Maxi Dress // Trendy Digital Waterproof Kindle Case // Kindle Paperwhite

13 Thoughts I Had During 13 Miles: Philly Half Marathon

This past weekend, I ran my third half-marathon ever: the Philadelphia Half Marathon. I ran my first one in 2011, and signed up for my second in 2012, but had to drop out because of a broken ankle. I ran again last year and this year, signed up with the goal of beating last year’s time—even if just by one minute. My training was quickly derailed by excruciating knee pain (what was eventually diagnosed as IT-band tendonitis), but I refused to be sidelined by another injury. And if I was going to run, I was going to try for that new best time. My theory was that I could at least get through a few miles at a good pace before the inevitable pain set in and I’d have to slow down—but then, at least, I’d have those faster miles under my belt to bank, right?

I went into the race (with my dad and my older brother, Paul, by my side while my fiancé over-achieved and ran the full marathon), not having run in weeks, and prepared for terrible pain and the possibility that I’d have to walk part of the race, and maybe even drop out. But somehow, I managed to make it through the entire thing almost pain-free (I mean, aside from that whole my-legs-feel-like-lead-and-my-feet-are-tired-and-my-quads-can’t-take-this-anymore pain) and pull a new best time out of my ass. I thank Paul for that, because he ran with me and kept me motivated the whole time. (Also probably helpful: rest, weeks of ibuprofen and slightly stronger stuff from my doctor, and more ice-packs than anyone should come in contact with when it’s below freezing outside.)

Here, to share this lovely experience with you, I take you through my thought process during each of those 13.1 horrib-I mean, fantastic miles.

frozen, but not yet in pain.

frozen, but not yet in pain.

Pre-Start: F–k I’m freezing. And I’m tired. And I haven’t run without crippling knee pain in months. Why did I do this? Should I be rational and try to run slowly?

Mile 1: Alright, here we go. No turning back now. Just run, and thinking about finishing the race. But think about finishing it at your best time.

Mile 2: I really have to pee, already. UGH. I’m going to stop at this port-a-potty–wait, there are like 6 people waiting in line. F That, I’m not giving up that much of my time. But I have to drink water anyway. Where is it going to go???. Look at all those lucky guys peeing against the wall. Sometimes I wish I was a dude.

Mile 3: Dad’s dropped back but Paul’s still with me; I still have a buddy. And–is he singing? Yep, he’s singing. That’s weird.

Mile 4: The knee pain is going to start any minute now. It usually starts around mile 4 or 5. Is it possible I won’t feel pain during this race? Nope, not possible. I better just keep running, fast. That’s a reasonable approach, definitely.

Mile 4.5: I’m getting french toast at brunch.

Mile 5: Holy shit, Paul just told me our pace and I don’t believe it. We’re actually pacing ahead. I’ll tell him we can slow down a bit. That’s a relief.

Mile 6: We didn’t slow down. And Paul is still with me, thank God. And, wait, could it be? Yes, finally a port-a-potty with a minimal line. Time to speed-pee while holding my breath (ugh, port-a-potties), and then catch up with Paul. He said he’ll run ahead but slow down, so it should be doable.

Mile 7: OMG I can’t sprint much longer. Where the hell is Paul? I give up, I’m not going to find him. But I’m going to keep running kind of fast just in case.

thankful for my singing-while-running brother

thankful for my singing-while-running brother

Mile 8: There he is! I see his red hat! Okay, now that I’m caught up with him, my legs feel like lead. And I’m pretty sure the hills are starting soon. Yep, there’s one…this sucks. And here’s another. Ugh, why hills, why??

Mile 9: Wait, did we already hit the big hill? That wasn’t as bad as I recall…oh, mother-of-God, we didn’t. This is it. What would happen if I just walked up the hill? No, I can’t. If Paul is still with me, and has enough energy to rile up the spectators to cheer for us, I can keep running. Plus, we always have the downhill to look forward to.


Mile 11: Is Paul still singing? How? How is he so cheerful when I kind of want to cry or punch my past self for signing up for this race?

Mile 12: Only one more mile to go. I’m just going to take this mile kind of easy, I don’t have it in me to sprint. Except, Paul keeps cheerfully encouraging me to keep going, speed up. Paul, don’t you understand I DON’T LIKE PEOPLE TALKING TO ME AT THE END OF RACES. I NEED TO FOCUS ON NOT CRUMBLING. 

Mile 13: This is longer than a mile. Yeah, I know it’s technically .1 miles longer than a mile, but I mean, this is way longer than a mile. There’s just no way this is only a mile. It’s never ending. I can’t even see the finish line. This is cruel. I think it’s a trick.

Mile 13.1: OMG THERE’S THE FINISH LINE. Fine Paul, I’ll sprint but…I think I’ll probably puke once I cross the finish line.

Finish: Thank God that’s over. Did Paul just say our time was 1:51? OMG! I’m actually really proud of myself, and of my brother, and…wait a minute. Oh God, I whispered “Yes” to myself while crossing the finish line. The camera definitely caught that. My finish line photo is going to be so weird and ugly. Damnit.

"Paul, take a picture of my colorful running outfit. I'll go in front of a statue so it seems important."

“Paul, take a picture of my colorful running outfit. I’ll go in front of a statue so it seems important.”


Packing List: NYC In The Fall


This week, I get the pleasure of working from New York City. My fiancé had to be here for work, so I decided to hitch a ride (one of my favorite perks of freelancing). We both lived in New York for three years, and anytime we can get back for a visit, to hang out in the city and catch up with friends, we jump at the chance. We’re lucky enough, on this trip, to be getting some killer fall weather—but, as is the trend these days, it’s a bit all over the place. Trying to pack for a week when one day it will be 70 degrees and another it’ll be 55 is a tad tricky (especially when you’re trying to pack light, which I consistently fail at), but I did my best. Here, some of the key pieces I brought:


1. Statement Necklace: I love this necklace for two reasons: It automatically elevates the style of any casual top I packed, and the combo of materials (gold, clear gemstones, and faux pearls) means it goes with pretty much everything. LOFT – grab a similar one here

2. Comfy Pullover: Soft pullovers are my kryptonite, especially when the weather cools down. I just got this one and I’m already obsessed. I love the ribbon neckline, because it makes me feel less lazy for walking around in what is basically a sweatshirt. (Plus, it can be dressed ‘up’ with the above necklace. Boom.) Ace Delivery 

3. Small Pendant: I never go sans necklace; if I’m wearing a busier shirt, or big earrings, I still don a small pendant. Even when I wear a big necklace, I usually keep the small one on; I love the layered look. This one, a simple evil eye design, is one of my all-time faves. Alexandra Beth Designs – get it in silver here

4. Versatile Tee: Even though the weather may get up to 70 this week, I still feel kind of weird wearing a tank in October. Solution: A tee with sheer sleeves; It looks fall, but feels summer. Pleione from Nordstrom – grab a similar one here.

5. Compact Computer Bag: Sometimes when traveling, I push the limits with the size of my ‘personal item’ that I bring on the plane—I blur the line between ‘purse’ and ‘second suitcase.’ But for this trip, I knew I’d be carrying my computer around to coffee shops and whatnot, so I wanted to bring a bag that wasn’t quite so cumbersome. This one fits my computer, but it’s relatively compact, so I don’t feel completely ridiculous lugging it around NYC. Plus, it’s made of nylon, so no harm if the week’s fall weather includes some rain. Banana Republic 

6. Lightweight Jacket: This military jacket is light enough for the warmer days, and loose enough that I can layer underneath for the cooler ones. It’s got a cinched waist to give it some shape, and is just the right shade of grey to go with everything. LOFT – grab a similar one here

7. Cuffable Jeans: (I may have made up the word ‘cuffable;’ let’s all agree to move past that.) Being that I’m short, and often too lazy busy to get things hemmed, my closet is full of many jeans that are slightly too long. But, I do have this one pair that’s the perfect length for ever-changing fall weather. They stop right at the ankle, so if I want to go full-length, I can, but I can also do an easy cuff for the warmer temps. Paige Denim – grab a similar pair here

8. Polarized Shades: I’m somewhat obsessed with sunglasses, but I try to only bring one pair when I travel, and because I have annoyingly sensitive eyes, I like to play it safe with a polarized pair. Never know when that NYC sun will hit! Spy Optic

9. Two-Tone Watch: Classic, versatile and lightweight for traveling—what more could you want? Michael Kors

10. Ballet Flats: I actually thought we were squarely in boot season the past few weeks, but the temperatures in Chicago and New York have taken an up-turn, hence the need for flats. I packed these ones because the suede is fall-ish, the black is versatile and the studs add personality. Halogen from Nordstrom – grab a similar pair here

11. Chunky-Heeled Ankle Boots: Chunky-heeled boots are my favorite for fall and winter. They can be dressed up or down, and they’re perfect for walking around the city without wanting to rip your feet off. It’s a win-win, really. BP for Nordstrom