Archive | Travel

Hit the Beach in Style

It’s summer!  Time to hit the beach. I’m lucky.  I live within driving distance of some of the most celebrated beaches in the world. Yes, the places where the ocean meets the land in California really are as wide and sandy as they are on television. There is, however, one big difference between the fantasy of TV and the reality of the beach: the people.  On the tube perfect blond beach bunnies and hunky, muscled life guards populate the sand but in real life the scene is much more varied. Sure, the life guards are super-fit and the bunnies frolic in the waves, but they’re joined by their grandmas and grandpas, parents, aunts and little nieces and nephews too. Everyone is having fun in the sun and no one cares if your cellulite is showing, because everyone over the age of 22 is showing off something imperfect and they’re doing it with aplomb. Continue Reading →

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Bikini Time

In the U.S. Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer but my husband and I got a jump on the season this year.  Two weekends ago we spent a warm, summery weekend in Palm Springs where I tried out that dreaded summer staple, the swim suit.

“To wear or not to wear…a bikini” is the question that has plagued me over the last few years. When I was young I wore two-piece swim suits to the beach and never thought more about it other than whether if I liked the color and cut. Somewhere in this journey of life my confidence on the beach began to wane. I started to wonder if a belly baring swim suit was really the right choice.  I’m a mature woman, a respectable wife and mother of two children, shouldn’t I wear a bathing suit that reflects this place in my life?

No, screw that.  I’m going to wear a bikini.

Mindless determination not to accept the approved and acceptable path of the middle age is only part of the reason I chose to wear a two piece swim suit to the pool. Bikinis actually look pretty good on me.  I am lucky to have skin that didn’t develop stretch marks over my two pregnancies, and even more fortunate to have been able to deliver both my children naturally. So my belly looks pretty good. As you can see my choice in bikini is fairly covered.  I am fond of the short skirt bikini bottom in particular because it covers the area of my figure that I really don’t want to show off.  I feel pretty confident about my tummy but a bit shy about my behind. On the other hand I have a terrible time finding one piece swim suits that fit me.  Unless I can buy an extra long size most one-piece bathing suits are too short.  They ride up, or worse, fall down when I’m swimming, and every “tankini” I have ever tried has looked horrible on me, I have no idea why.

What would I like you to take away from this?  Wear a swim suit that looks great on you, not one that is “appropriate” for your stage in life.  If you’re twenty and you love wearing a maillot, if they make you feel fabulous and glamorous, wear them, even if all your girlfriends are wearing pieces of string attached to a handkerchief. If you look great in a “tankini” then adopt it as your signature look, same for a bikini.  Wear what makes you feel your best, because when you’re exposing most of your flesh for all the world to see you need all the confidence you can muster. I’d also suggest you try on a lot of styles before choosing one fabulous suit, and I’d suggest you spend the most you can afford on your swimwear.  This is not a place to skimp on quality, cut or design. And by all means, if you have the kind of figure that can flaunt an ensie-weensie yellow polka dot string bikini, do it!

OK, off my soap box and on to more of my trip to Palm Springs.

I am happy to report that my career in freelance design has really taken off.  I am immensely fortunate to work from home and still enjoy a boost to my family’s income.  On the other hand I’ve been working pretty much constantly, seven days a week, for the last few months.  Freelancing is frighteningly inconsistent, which makes many of the self-employed work themselves to the bone just in case it all evaporates next month. A few weeks ago I realized I really needed a couple of days off, and knowing my work ethic that would only happen if I was too far from my computer to work on it. So we planned a little weekend get away to Palm Springs. I requested a small, courtyard hotel so I could walk out of my room and step straight into the pool. My husband outdid himself with “The Rendezvous”, a darling 1950’s era hideaway once frequented by the likes of Marilyn Monroe.

The stay included a delicious breakfast every morning. It started with fresh fruit and a smoothie.  Next came the breakfast casserole of the day and it was served with all the coffee one can drink.

In the late afternoon the friendly staff served complimentary drinks and appetizers by the pool. It was heavenly! The evenings were the most romantic.  It was warm at night, surprising in the desert, and sitting out under the stars was magical.

Credits: Earrings and bracelet from Gilt.com.  Bikini by Jag, purchased years ago on a trip to Hawaii.

What are you wearing to the pool or beach this summer? Going anywhere fabulous?

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Traveling in Style

 

I grew up watching “The Shanghai Express”. As a result I’ve always felt that travel outfits should have a bit of flair. Perhaps one does not need to decorate one’s hats with feathers the way Marlene Dietrich did, but some pizzaz makes the whole tedious process more fun.  Once on my way to Paris I saw a woman in first class wearing a tight red suit, 3″ stilettos, and one of those elegant shawls French women always seem to have thrown about their shoulders.  She’s inspired me ever since. Although my outfit is much more comfortable than her’s, it is still pretty sharp, especially when you compare it to the velour sweat suits that many travelers wear.

A few tips on looking great while flying

– Bring a pashmina. A big, warm scarf can be spread over you like a blanket if you get cold.  When not needed it can be folded and placed in your purse.

– Wear a lightweight jacket or sweater – No matter how warm it is when you depart it can get cold on the airplane.

– If you’re female consider wearing a skirt – I always find that pants ride up and become uncomfortable after sitting for a long time. My stretch corduroy pencil skirt is just as cozy as sweats.

– Choose a chic piece of carry-on luggage – The red ones I’m toting around in the photos actually belong to my neighbor, but as soon as I can afford my own I’m going to look for something similar.  The bright color is fun and you won’t mistake your luggage for someone else’s.

– Look fabulous! Nothing says you have to look awful while traveling. I promise my skirt, t-shirt and leather jacket were comfortable and practical on the flight.

A few tips on getting through airport security without anxiety

– Wear shoes that are easy to get on and off.  My zip-up boots were perfect for this.  Anything with laces, including sneakers, will make you crazy trying to get through security.

– Wear socks. Yes, them make you take off your shoes.  Do you REALLY want to walk through security with bare feet?

– Consider NOT wearing jewelry. I wore earrings, a watch, and two bracelets. All had to be removed before I could be scanned. (Interestingly, I was allowed to keep my gold wedding band on.)

– Pack small toiletries. According to the TSA advisory full-sized shampoos can be packing in luggage that is checked, but only small, 4.5 ounce bottles can be carried onto the plane. Thankfully there are lots of trial sized options out there. Put them in a large clear plastic zip lock bag in an outside pocket of your carry-on.  This will make your life easier, I promise.

– Be prepared.  Read the article “How to Get Through the Line Faster” for more helpful packing, dressing and behavior tips.

So what’s in the bag?

I packed for sightseeing in the cool, foggy weather I love so much. On our first day out I wore the simple black jersey dress that I bring on all my trips because it’s easy to wear, always looks great, and doesn’t wrinkle.  I was planning on throwing the off-white jacket you see above over the outfit below, but the sun followed me to Northern California and the day was too warm for layers.

I paired the dress with my favorite leopard Nine West flats for easy walking.  The small, black, “Baggallini”, cross-over purse has been worn many times before on this blog.  Although it’s not quite big enough to carry all my essentials, it’s still great when I’m on foot most of the day.  On this day sightseeing and lunching took place in the charming town of Petaluma north of San Francisco.

The next day we went into “The City” (That’s what the locals call San Francisco.) for a couple of hours before heading to the airport.

I wore pretty much the same thing I had on our flight up to San Francisco: an off-white “leather” jacket, black t-shirt, grey corduroy skirt and black boots.

The boots are new.  I’ve been looking for a knee-high black boot with a bit of a heel to wear with skirts for a while.  These are taller than my other boots and oh so classic.  The chunky heel means they’re easy to walk in as well, making them a good choice for travel.

  • Jacket – Giacca
  • Pashmina – a gift
  • T-shirt – The Gap
  • Skirt – Garnet Hill
  • Purse – Baggallini
  • Boots – Ellen Tracy
  • Black Jersey Dress – Rachel Roy
  • Leopard flats – Nine West
  • Sunglasses – Gucci

What do you wear when you travel? Do you have any favorite pieces?

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Wonderful Weekend – a hipstamatic view

This weekend my husband and I flew to Northern California for a dear friend’s wedding.  I know this must sound completely mundane, but since our children were born we’ve gone on vacation by ourselves only one other time, also for a wedding. On that trip we stayed with family and drove the whole way to save money.  This time we threw caution to the wind and flew to San Francisco, rented a car, and stayed in a hotel. It was nothing short of fabulous.  My husband took lots of beautiful photographs on a real camera while I clicked away with the hipstamatic app on my i-phone, gleefully shaking my camera between takes to create a variety of retro-ified images.

Saturday

The wedding was held at 3 p.m. in San Rafael, a small town north of San Francisco.  After waking in our quaint hotel room, pictured above, and enjoying the usual continental breakfast, made special by two self-service waffle makers, my husband and I realized we had a whole morning of blissful freedom to enjoy. So we drove north on highway 101 and spent a few hours wandering the streets of the charming city of Petaluma.

My husband readies his camera for the day.


This window display caught my eye.  I loved the scarf on the mannequin on the left.  The fur vest on the right was made with real rabbit skin.  It was incredibly soft.

Inside the store were these beautiful fur bags.

A man paddles is surfboard down the river.

 

This woman’s boots were so great.  I had to take a shot.

Lunch at the Wild Goat Bistro

I had a delicious salad with cheese and dried cherries.  My husband had pigs in blanket.

A decorated wall

Then it was time to go.

We sped back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding, and arrived at the venue a few minutes early.  The happy event took place outdoors.

And the bride wore red!

I intend to devoted an entire post to the wedding, the handsome groom, the beautiful bride, and the guests, who were all elegantly attired. This is just a sneak peek!  And here’s a glimpse of my dress too…

My favorite – candied almonds!

The party was fabulous.  After the ceremony there was a delicious meal and a live band playing big band jazz and swing. We danced all evening long.

Sunday

After brunch with the bride and groom and friends, Hugo and I had some time before our flight back to Los Angeles.  We spent a couple of hours at Crissy Field in San Francisco, taking photos and enjoying the beautiful weather.

And then it was time to head home.  Although I traveled extensively before my children were born, since 9/11 I have been loathe to fly. I remember “flying the friendly skies” on PSA when I was a child, back when security checks were minimal and my parents could walk me all the way to the gate. My parents both worked but they didn’t have enough money to send me away to camp. As a result, every summer I went to stay with my grandparents in San Francisco.   Now it seems crazy and irresponsible, but at the time flying alone as a child was fine.  One of the stewardesses would escort me to my seat and fuss over me on the short flight, and my grandmas would be waiting for me at the gate. I honestly have so many happy memories of flying that I’m loathe to add new, less pleasant, experiences.

One of the last time I took an airplane my family was singled out for a special review.  I had to take all the clothes off of my then 6 month old son, and one of the security guards passed one of those wands over his diaper to make sure there were no explosives hidden within.  I honestly don’t think I’ll ever get over the shock.  They seem to be more organized at this point, but the process of removing shoes, jewelry, jacket, purse and having everything, including my body, scanned, is still a bit distressing.  LAX is not the most traveler-friendly airport.  It’s dirty and in the midst of yet another remodel.  Perhaps one day getting in line for the security check will not involve going up a flight of stairs, around corners, and down another set of stairs like on some crazy line for an amusement park ride, but right now it’s a mess. I highly recommend avoiding the place if possible.

SFO, San Francisco’s main airport, is another story entirely.  It’s such a fabulous, futuristic, travel hub that I felt compelled to take photos on the way home to  share the experience.  After dropping off our rental car we went up an elevator to the “AirTrain”, an elevated “mono-rail” type shuttle that whisks you from garage to terminal in Jetsons style.

Once in the terminal you are met with an airy space, artwork and relaxing music.  Etherial sculptures hang from the ceilings in the main terminal.

In comparison to the security check at LAX, the one in San Francisco was well-organized and almost friendly.  Still, we felt that something calming would be nice after the ordeal. A wine bar called to us, and we stopped for a plate of local cheeses and a wine sampler.

 

 

Nice, isn’t it?

When I was a kid airplanes were decorated with bright blue tweed and lots of orange and brown plastic.  Perhaps some airlines still resemble the one’s I remember, but Virgin America has decided to make air flight seriously chic.  The seats are black vinyl and white plastic. The flattering lights are a mix of pink and blue, and there isn’t a touch of orange and brown plaid anywhere.  Even the stewardesses are neatly attired in black pencil skirts and white blouses.

Our weekend went by too quickly, but it was really fun.  I’ve returned home feeling happy and relaxed.  Now it’s back to work!

Did you do anything fun this weekend?

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The Sunshine Express

 She took the 8 a.m. express wearing her green vintage sundress.

This Summer’s vacation took us all the way up to Oregon, but California is a big state, and it takes a long time to drive from Los Angeles to the northern border. Sacramento is about half way up the highway, so we camped near the State Capital for a few days. My reasons for stopping were more than mere practicality however.  The charming Bella of The Citizen Rosebud lives and blogs in Sacramento and I really wanted to meet her in person. I’ve been following Bella since I started my own blog and find her attitude, writing, and photographs, very inspirational.

Bella and I met up one morning for breakfast and spent hours chatting like old friends. Afterwards I went by her shop to check out her collection of vintage clothing.  Of course I had to buy two things for myself and at least three items for my daughter, who came along for the ride.  This fantastic 50’s green cotton sundress fit perfectly!  Those of you who wear larger sizes will know how hard it it to find real vintage clothing that fits correctly. Bella had many other wonderful things as well.  If you’d like to see some of them check out Shop the Citizen and Bella’s Etsy store Frocks and Follies for the Femme Vitale.

The next day my family and I went on a little tourist trek to “Old Town” Sacramento, home of the fabulous California State Railroad Museum. It was a relief to wear a lightweight woven fabric in the intense heat of California’s central valley. I have to say my shoe choice did leave something to be desired, but these were the only sandals I brought along on the camping trip.

Since watching “The Shanghai Express” as a child I have found the history and romance of train travel alluring. If you’re ever in Sacramento, the train museum should be on your “must see” list. The exhibits are fascinating and you can walk through many of the vintage cars to see what it must have been like to travel during the golden age of the locomotive.

Wearing:

  • Dress – Vintage, purchased at “Shop the Citizen”
  • Hat – San Diego Hat Company
  • Bag – Blue Q
  • Sandals – Clarks

Have you ever been to a railroad museum?

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