Less Slob, More Style… especially when traveling

This weekend, I read a post on Slate entitled “Stop Dressing Like a Slob When You’re Traveling” and its stuck in my mind. Partly because my husband and I have a similar conversation almost every weekend when we venture out for lunch or a shopping trip. Sadly, the habit of “dressing like a slob” in America is no longer confined to just travel though it is so prevalent in airports as to baffle my mind.

“The weary traveler has little control over these things, but he can control his own outfit—and feeling handsome amid all the inhumanities can be powerfully heartening.” (from Slate)

Men are not the only slobs at the airport. Or, in my world, the grocery store, deli or shopping center. Women are just as likely to wear the most unfortunate, slobby outfits like sweats, plastic flip flops and a baggy worn-out t-shirt. Is this Starbucks or the set for “Orange is the New Black”? You know other people can see you, right? Do you really want people’s first impression of you to be that outfit?

“dressing decently seems to garner superior treatment from transit staff.” (from Slate)

When traveling, I often go straight from a flight to public transportation, then a hotel or even straight to a meeting and I am not going to do that in sweats with “juicy” written on my butt. What if I want to stop for lunch? Or my luggage gets lost? Do I want to get stuck in that outfit indefinitely?

I understand there are all sorts of inconveniences and discomfort involved in modern-day air travel that make me want to:

  • choose shoes that are east to remove for TSA checks
  • not bunch or bind uncomfortably while squashed in economy class
  • are easy to sit on the floor if there are no seats in the waiting area
  • are easy to get in and out of for quick restroom breaks or in the tight confines or an airplane loo

The dress looked a bit like this. And see how cute and pulled together it can look while still being comfortable and casual?

This lead me to think of my friends and our “magic traveling dress”. It was a simple denim chambray shirt dress with a tie at the waist. Jewels wore it on a trans-continental flight and then loaned it to me when I had to make the same trek. Paired with leggings and a sweater (or wrap) and flats or sandals made a nice outfit that I could wear again while on the trip and did not make me look like a complete slob. Plus, it was super comfortable. Later. the dress was then handed off to another friend who also wore it on a long-haul flight, hence making it the official “magic traveling dress”. It should be up to premier status for all the frequent flyer miles its racked up.

“When we dress well for travel (ed. note: or life for that matter), we are not only making ourselves look good; we’re also signaling that we are invested in making this shared experience pleasant for everyone around us.” (from Slate)

 

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Yarn Tourism

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I don’t know about you but when I travel I love to find the local yarn shop. I always hope to find something I might not have seen in person before, a chance to instantly gravity my desire to buy a particular yarn and maybe find a couple items I would not have considered before.

Today, I got to stop at Bliss Yarns  in Brentwood, TN, just outside of Nashville. The folks were super nice there and its the first place I’ve visited that reminded me of Misknits. Made me a little melancholy for our old knit stomping grounds.Bliss had a big table with comfy chairs and two upholstered chairs next to an old fireplace. It was 80 degrees out so we didn’t need heat but it gave it a cozy vibe. They stocked lots of luscious yarns like Mad Tosh, Two Irish Girls, Rowan, Blue Sky, Pagewood Farms and a ton more I can’t remember off the top of my head right now.  I got to pull up a chair and work on my Man Paws for Bob for a bit and felt like one of the gang. It was a lovely vibe.

I picked up an amazingly citrus green skein of Mad Tosh Sock (my first Tosh sock and only my second skein of Mad Tosh ever). The color is called Grasshopper, and no, Ms. Grasshopper, you cannot have it.

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I also bought a skein of Manos Maxima in the Agua color way. I grabbed this yummy handpaint single-ply with no idea what it might become. The skein has 200 yds so I’m certain I can make a hat out of it.

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The shop also had a copy of the new Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits from Interweave. After my PDF debacle with the Harry Potter Knits I decided to just buy the paper copy of Downton. I like the Walking Out Blouse, the V is for Victory Vest, the Half-Day Off Mitts and the Fetching Fair isle Cap. The Fair Isle cap is far and away my favorite and I think it would be an appropriately fun yet challenging colorwork project to tackle soon.

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Atlanta Recap

The biggest event of the year for my division at work is the Atlanta Gift Show which is the second week of January every year. This is the Stationery Show for the gifty things that aren’t paper or clothing. Its wholesale vendors selling all sorts of home furnishings, rugs, candles, jewelry and everything you could possibly imagine in the way of holiday decorations.

This is the view of one of the four buildings that make up the gift show. Overwhelming, huh?

Last year, we struggled through the snowstorm that stalled the city and delayed many of the retailers who might have ordered our products. This year, I got to wander through floor after floor of merchandise which was exhausting and overwhelming. The actual gift show went quite smoothly but my hotel experience went from lame to absolutely horrific.

Another view of Building Four

The hotel was remodeled since last year and some of the decor was actually kind of cool — crazy printed carpets with big graphic florals and blurry photo prints as the room “couch art”. However, my room had a lot of quirks: lamp didn’t work, faucet was strangely installed and leaked all over the counter, no extra blankets, and a broken fridge. The Gift Show keeps us so busy that I really only sleep and shower in the room so the wonky bits were inconvenient but not so bad.

The view from the balcony was pretty and the weather was almost mild enough to step up on the balcony and admire the view.

The death knoll though was discovering someone else’s dirty clothes tangled in the curtains when I opened the blinds on my last morning. Needless to say, I checked out of the hotel immediately and sent the hotel a letter expressing my disgust, anger and frustration.

The flight home was welcomed, if only to put the horrid hotel experience several hundred miles behind me. I caught a glimpse of the sun setting over Kansas City as the flight was making its final descent — a truly welcome sight.

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White Cloud and Sparks Flea Market

Open for business!

For one weekend in the spring and one weekend in the fall, the small towns of White Cloud and Sparks, KS turn into one big flea market. Sparks and White Cloud are about ten miles apart and host 100s of antique and flea market vendors selling all sorts of things from the rusty-and-dusty to true vintage gems. The weather was spectacular — clear skies, sunny and warm with just enough breeze to keep us cool. We couldn’t have asked for better circumstances.

Hark, who do I see there?

White Cloud along the Missouri River

We left Kansas City at the crack of dawn in order to get to White Cloud early enough to get the good stuff. White Cloud has been hosting this flea market for years but the small town has almost nothing left but this biennial flea market. Many of the shops along the main street open their doors on these two weekends only and have the dust and disrepair to prove it. Out on the streets though, vendors roll up in trucks, vans and RVs with all sorts of goods to sell and things to eat. After one particularly scary indoor shops, we spent most of the morning wandering along the street perusing tables of goods. We stopped at one food-vendor-on-wheels and got hot dogs, lemonade and homemade donuts for lunch and sat in the White Cloud park to eat.

Kettle Corn sign

After lunch, we headed back south to Sparks and the mayhem of 300+ vendors. It literally becomes a small town of antique and junk dealers and I kept get lost and turned around down the winding paths between tents, RVs and ramshackle buildings. There is even a PA system announcing lost-and-found and people who become separated from their companions. The announcer gets more feisty and ornary as the day goes on making announcements about husbands who have misplaced their mistresses and men who’ve lost track of their handsome girlfriends (and if they don’t hurry up, some other smart fella might claim her first).

Welcome to Sparks Annual Picnic!

Had to snap a pic of myself in the child's hat

Fabulous soda bottles

A whole bucket full of vintage prize ribbons

We scored a lot of wonderful items and didn’t spend beyond our budget. I’ll be posting photos of my goodies in the coming days but I thought I’d share pictures of the actual event first.

Last car at the end of the road...

See all the photos from our trip to White Cloud and Sparks in my Flickr set.

Starburst break!

For those curious about what a well-heeled vintage girl wears to a dusty flea market, let me tell you! I wore my Stop Staring jeans rolled up high so they didn’t get muddy cuffs, saddle shoes and white bobby socks with my retro beaded black cardigan. I packed my wellies in the car in case it was muddy and I needed to switch shoes. Mostly it was just dusty. I carried my tapestry purse and definitely needed my Lulu Guiness sunglasses. I got a bit of sunburn on my neck because I wasn’t expecting it to be so sunny and warm and forgot to apply liberal amounts of sunscreen.

Hopping in the car and heading to Sparks

My vintage boy wore a thrifted shirt in plaid cotton blend, his favorite new black straw porkpie hat with yellow feather, Levi’s 501s and Blundstone boots. In his pocket is a classic mechanical pencil and his Field Notes pocket notebook from the State Fair series — Alabama, of course.

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Spring in Excelsior Springs

We decided to take a trip to Excelsior Springs on Saturday. It was a town known for the healing waters from its spring in the early part of the 20th century. People like Al Capone and Harry S. Truman used to visit Excelsior Springs and its famous hotel, The Elms. Sadly, today, its seldom visited even though its just twenty minutes from Kansas City.

The Hall of Waters where all the healing springs were piped

Enjoying the view

Some of the carvings on the facade

The back of the Hall of Waters

A diner in Excelsior Springs

A peek into the window of the diner. Looks at those bar stools!

The exterior of Broadway & Penn

We went to Excelsior Springs especially to check out Broadway & Penn which specializes in vintage-inspired clothes and gifts. They carried several brands of vintage repro lines like Bettie Page and Stop Staring. I bought a Bettie Page dress and a pair of  Stop Staring Gatsby jeans (more about those later).

My new Bettie Page dress

I love this dress! I wasn't sure if I could pull off orange but I like it.

My traveling outfit

I was wearing my Pendleton 49er, a sailor-striped t-shirt from Land’s End Canvas, leather belt from the swap, some Gap chinos and my Muffy’s saddle shoes. A very casual outfit. I need to fix the buttons on the Pendleton  if it would just warm up long enough for me to not need it.

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I’m a winner!

Thanks go out to the lovely Tea and Crumpets Vintage blog for picking my entry in her giveaway. I won a lovely vintage coin purse for recommending visiting the US and cruising along Route 66 as a true vintage holiday.

My prize! A lovely vintage coin purse!

I am actually taking my own advice this summer and I’m planning a road trip to see some sights in the not-too-distant area. We are thinking about driving up to Omaha to see the zoo, then maybe over into Iowa or down through Kansas. I’m sure there will be many chances to consume roadside food, shop at many antique shops and maybe even stop at a few yarn shops along the way. We had planned to go out to Portland for the second BlytheCon but finances being what they are we just couldn’t afford to do it this year. I am super disappointed that we won’t get to go to Voodoo Donut, tour all the vintage shops or trek to the Pendleton Mill but maybe we can make a trip to Portland some other time.

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MINI Takes the States 2010

MINI Takes the States Official grill badge

Last weekend, Bob, Fat Charlie and I headed west from Kansas City to MINI Takes the States, a biennial MINI USA rally event. We drove from KC to Dodge City and then onto Denver where we got to rally from Red Rocks to Estes Park. Every night was a party, every morning was a Rise & Shine Rally. It was a total blast. MINIs and their very happy owners were everywhere.

Photo op with the Midway sign

I wish I had gotten some pics of some of the awesome organizers — Tina, Diane, Trudy and the staff from TPG. Everyone was super nice and the event was so well done. Not a single moment was a disappointment. It was hotter ‘n Hades across Kansas but the temperature broke when we got to Colorado and then it was beautiful. I met lots of cool MINI-ists from KC that I’m hoping to see again at the next local event.

Sunrise over MINI heaven

I got to see the new MINI Countryman up close and personal and the 2011 Cooper S too. I was surprised how much I liked the Countryman. I’ll be excited to see them on the roads in the coming months. The Cooper S though reignited my lust for more oomph under the hood. Maybe its time to start tricking out Fat Charlie?

The Countryman leads the pack

Here’s a slideshow of my edited pictures. We shot over 900+ pictures but I was able to narrow it down to about 150+. Lots of MINI photos!

To see more images, check out the MINI Takes the States Pool on Flickr.

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Spring Yarn Crawl morphs into shoe crawl

Greetings from Lawrence, KS!

Saturday was the biannual Sunflower Knitters Guild Yarn Crawl. In the spring, we crawl across the Kansas-side of the state line dragging bags laden with yarn and sundries. In the fall, we repeat this behavior on the Missouri-side of the state line. This year, I convinced Bob to go with me with the promise of going only as far as Lawrence, KS and spending the afternoon browsing and shopping along Lawrence’s Mass. Ave.

We followed the wave of knitters into the Yarn Barn and Bob veered off for the nearest record shop. I fondled many delicious yarns and left with a skein of Cotton Fleece for a Spring Beret, enough Rowan Felted Tweed for a whole sweater and a new candidate for mohair dolly berets. (photos for stash enhancements will be added to Ravelry soon)

We had a lovely lunch at Free State Brewery and then walked along Mass. Ave. peeking into shops. It was a bit windy but the art car parade had ended and many people both funky and plain were out in full force. A warm Saturday in May is the perfect tme for people-watching in Lawrence.

Bob and Bea hit every record store. I wandered to Brits in search of plain chocolate Hob Nobs (not in stock… ARGH!!!) and a shoe store where I found the last pair of Ecco Maryjanes in stock AND in my size. Joy! Shopping is always such a mixture of successes and failures.

Lots of biscuits… no plain chocolate Hob Nobs

Then I stopped in Urban Outfitters — which I never do but I saw some shoes in the window and I just had to see them in person. What did I find? Two more pairs of shoes, two tops and a dress! The summer look at Urban Outfitters is retro-pretty so I jumped at the chance to score a few pieces. There was a wonderful French-style jacket that I like but it was full price and wasn’t a perfect fit so I passed on it. The overall quality of UO is still below par but I I couldn’t resist the looks, regardless of the quality.

Ecco Mary Janes, T-straps and Oxfords from Urban Outfitters

We drove home fueled with Starbucks DoubleShots from the gas station, sunshine and good music. All-in-all, it was a very successful Saturday!

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Whirlwind weekend, or How I Met My Best Friend

When I tell people the story about how Rebecca and I met, I get strange and curious looks. So, here goes…

squirreljunkie weekend

I found Rebecca on Flickr not quite a year ago. She took wonderful, sweet photos of her Blythe doll, Squirrel and I also found lots of crafty photos in her Flickrstream. Wow, I thought, a kindred spirit. I commented on her photos and then she eventually commented on mine and eventually we started sending FMs back and forth. This eventually lead to phone calls and then talks about visiting. Rebecca was brave enough to come all the way across the country to spend the last days of her 365-day Blythe project with me and I am so glad she did. We got along well via phone and messages but we REALLY got along in person. We were both stunned to discover that a 5-day visit went by too quickly and ended both very happily (we had a great time) and very sadly (oh, please don’t go so soon!).

We spent the weekend doing touristy things like visiting Hallmark, the Nelson-Atkins Museum and the River Market Antique Mall but we also did “dolly stuff” — late night haircuts, photoshoots and other silliness that filled us with joy and delight. We had late night runs to 7-11 for Slurpees and a requisite stop at Murray’s for the finest ice cream in Kansas City.

People make romantic connections online all the time but people seem surprised to discover that I met my best friend by way of the internet. So, despite the quizzical looks when I explain how we met, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thank you, internet, for helping me find my best friend!

[More photos available at my Flickr Set and in Rebecca’s Flickr Set]

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California Dreamin’

Photo Credit: Courtesy Hotel Erwin Venice Beach's Hotel Erwin

Photo Credit: Courtesy Hotel Erwin Venice Beach's Hotel Erwin

While browsing through the latest issue of Budget Travel, I found a little one-page article about swanky LA-area hotels and saw this photo. First, the Hotel Erwin looks adorable and its located only a stone’s throw from the beach in Venice but second, I am in love with the decor. I think I might use it as inspiration for my bedroom which is in serious need of a makeover. The beside tables I have are almost idnetical to the one pictured and I just lovve the ocean blue walls and black fabric headboards. I think I could make a triangle quilt to mimic the bedspread and voila! my very own Venice Beach suite right here in Kansas City!

Maybe one day, I’ll actually get to stay at the Erwin too? We’ve been talking about an anniversary trip to LA and a visit to Disneyland!

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