Archive for February, 2012

Packing Light for Men

February 24, 2012

At dinner the other evening, one of the men who regularly reads this blog asked “Why don’t you do a packing tips for us guys?  John (my hubby) always looks great.  What do you pack in a carry-on for him?”  So here it is for all the guys from the ground up – literally!

Shoes:  Your shoes are the largest and heaviest item in your bag.  Where you don’t pay much attention to them, it’s the first thing women look at so shoes matter.  Wear one pair on the plane and pack another if you need more than 1 for a trip.  John likes the Nike Air Technology in Cole Haan shoes.  I like the classy look in comfortable shoes.  We both like the prices at the Cole Haan outlet store.

John recently bought these black ones because they polish up to a nice shine and he can wear them under either dress slacks or jeans.

 

When looking for casual shoes to wear with jeans, shorts or khakis, try a slip-on like this.  You will look great and still be comfortable.  These slip-on styles also compress flatter in your bag.

You need a pair of dark wash, flat-front jeans.  In fact, ALL your pants should be flat-front.  Nothing says “old guy” more than pleats!  If you like khakis, consider the jeans cut – you know, the 5 pocket variety.  You will look younger.  John has the 5 pocket style in black and they are probably the most used pair of slacks in his closet.  You can dress them up or down and versatility is the name of the game in packing.

If your trip needs a suit coat, a black sports coat is best.  You can wear it with a dress shirt and tie, a golf style shirt, a turtleneck or even a good quality plain tee-shirt.  With your black 5 pocket pants, it almost looks like a suit if need be but it looks hip with your dark jeans too.

Wear it on the plane.  Take it off in the car and when you board the plane, ask the flight attendant to hang it (they usually will) or neatly fold it and lay it on top of your carry-on.  This will minimize wrinkling.

The “non-jacket” option.  Much of the time a more casual look works fine.  That does not mean sloppy!  John has several full zip-front cardigans and they are the secret sauce of a travel wardrobe.  They are available in a wide variety of styles and price points.  Basically there are the tighter, flatter weaves in cotton or wool that are dressier.

Then there are the chunkier knits or those with accent pockets which are more casual.  I think you need a couple of each kind in neutral colors such as gray, black, oatmeal, chocolate brown or deep navy.

 

Knits are your friend…at least when it comes to packing.  They travel well and take up less space in your suitcase.  A couple of turtlenecks or mock-turtles (whichever is more flattering to you), polo shirts and a variety of colored, good quality t-shirts will serve you well.

We have a FlipFold shirt folder which makes packing quick and easy.  A worthwhile investment for any home!

A reversible belt (black to brown) also reduces the amount you have to pack and don’t forget to use the space inside your shoes for socks or a rolled up tie!

Playing in Tucson

February 24, 2012

In Tucson enjoying the sun and natural beauty? Well what do you do when the sun goes down?

If you enjoy casinos, check out Casino del Sol. There’s a hotel with conference facilities even though we didn’t stay there. It’s brand new and, based on the attached casino, I’m sure it will be nice.

In thecasino, they have the domed “fake sky ” and European alleyway feel like along the Grand Canal and San Marcos Square at the Vegas Venetian but on a MUCH smaller scale.   

Lots of machines and even more new machines were being added when we were there. They have  2 pits of about 8 table games each – duplicates of each other.  I saw regular blackjack,  Spanish 21, some sort of poker games and a 3 deck blackjack at $25/hand min.

Several restaurants; buffet, sushi, mexican and others but we didn’t eat there.   If I had signed up for players club they were giving a free buffet.

There’s a real Starbucks there too, not just a coffee stand serving Starbucks coffee.  They do .50 refills on iced tea all day.

There’s an entertainment venue so check the website before you go, you may be able to see a great show while you’re there.

All in all it was fun and worth a trip if you are in Tucson.   The only other casino I found in the area seems to only have machines and BINGO according to their website so I didn’t go.

Casino del Sol is in the middle of nowhere.   Not close to the freeway or any other hotels,  restaurants or shops unless you count the gas station/mini-mart/drive thru smoke shop.  That means you have to stay,  eat and play there or have a car.

Also,  the restaurants are non-smoking but not the gaming.   Because each area is small I suspect it gets pretty smoky and stinky on weekend nights though it wasn’t too bad on a Wednesday.

All in all it was a nice adult evening and if you like to play, it’s worth a visit while in Tucson.

Dining Experience That’s Pure Silver

February 17, 2012

Like other upscale ski towns such as Aspen or Vail, Park City, Utah has no shortage of great restaurants.  The latest jewel in the culinary crown is called Silver.  Smack dab in the middle of Main Street, this cozy, chic restaurant could be in West Hollywood or Manhattan.  The decor turns a historic brick building into a hip spot with their use of dark blue velvet, croc print silver leather, etched, lighted glass and edgy silver metal accents.

This is not a case of style without substance though, the meal was amazing!  We started with a signature cocktail; there are over a dozen with clever names such as “Catch Her in the Rye” and “The Departed”.  My personal favorite was the Lavender Sidecar served in a sugar rimmed snifter.

The bread delivered to the table warm was like a soft pretzel with a basil dip.  I could have made my meal of that alone.

My hubby enjoyed the grilled octopus and the chicken coq au vin.  I was impressed by the innovative twist on popular favorites.  The Caesar salad was made with black kale and roasted cherry tomatoes.  The brussel sprouts were grilled (my favorite) with pomegranate giving an interesting touch of sweet to the savory.  And then there were the truffle fries… does anything more need to be said?

Not normally a dessert person, I had to at least peek at the offerings.  Given the creative drinks and meal selections, I was curious to see what they had to end the meal.  I was not disappointed!  The Pumpkin Chiffon Bombe proved irresistible.  Yes, that is spiced cotton candy atop the pumpkin treat and a sliver of grilled pineapple in the chocolate sorbet.

The service at Silver was warm and attentive making it a perfect evening in every way.  You can make reservations using OpenTable or UrbanSpoon.  The bar area is a great place to meet friends and be sure to check out the lighted sink in the unisex bathroom upstairs!

Less is More

February 10, 2012

I promised to share my packing secrets.  In a previous blog I mentioned that I always start with my shoes.  In reality, easy packing starts in the store.

There are some basics you need.  First, comfortable but classy shoes.   I prefer a metallic because they are versatile and look great.  Personally I have pewter, bronze and a soft gold.  On any given trip, one of those 3 will be one of my 2 allotted pairs of shoes (yes, that is my maximum per trip – they are heavy and take up the most room).

Next, go sort your closet.  If you don’t have your clothes hung my color within a group (ie: pants, tops, jackets) do so.  You will immediately see what your “go to” colors are.  Mine are charcoal gray, chocolate brown and navy blue.  All of these are neutrals and work well with a wide variety of colors for accents.  

For many people, their neutral is black.  That works fine in NYC or gloomy Seattle, but most other parts of the country it looks severe.  On your next shopping trip, try a dark navy, deep brown or charcoal gray.  You will find them every bit as figure flattering and easier to work with for travel.

You will need a couple of jackets to use when you travel.  Unless you are going to a “cold” destination, a jacket can be layered and eliminate the need to travel with a coat.  I have an ivory/gold boucle blazer that looks equally good with skinny jeans as it does over a sheath dress.   The knit “jacket” sweaters also are versatile as are some of the longer, flowing open sweater jackets.

T-shirts are the travelers friend.  No, not the ones that have destination logos on them, but good quality tees in a variety of colors will give a new look each day to your basic bottoms whether a skirt, pants or jeans.

Lets talk skivvies for a minute.  Most women have bras and undies in a rainbow of colors but in reality, nude and black are all you really need.  Nude becomes invisible under every color except black (especially white!).  Invest in a couple with removable and/or convertible straps and you can get by with a lot less undergarments.  Save your lacy, fancy color sets for special occasions at home unless it’s your honeymoon or anniversary trip.

Pack only one color family per trip.  I do “charcoal trips”, “brown/khaki trips”, “navy trips”, “white trips” and occasionally, a “black trip”.  That means my that is my base color for each outfit.  The tees or a scarf are where I splash my color.  If you don’t have enough items in your color family to do a trip of your average length, that’s what should be on your shopping list.

Example, a “navy trip” would include my dark wash skinny jeans or dark denim pencil skirt, a navy sheath dress, navy/white striped nautical tee, lime green polo shirt, white off-shoulder sheer knit top with camisole, ivory tee and my ivory/gold jacket.  My shoes would be the soft gold flats and perhaps a nautical wedge.  My costume jewelry would all be gold and I’d also take along a bright yellow/white print wrap/scarf.  The jacket and the wrap both work with the dress.  The tees look great with the denim and with metallic shoes or fun wedges no one will think twice about the fact that they are jeans.

Grab a calendar or lined paper.  For each day you are going to be gone, write down what you know you will be doing.  You may not know every day’s activities in advance, but you probably have some idea that you will be going to see a show,  shopping, lounging by the pool or visiting long lost relatives.  Then write below the outfit for that activity.

Use that as your guide for packing.  Remember you can reuse pants, skirts, shorts, jeans, jackets and outer sweaters.  Plan a fresh tee or shirt for each day.  Most evenings you can alternate between a couple of different outfits since they won’t be worn as many hours.

When you get home, note any unused items from your trip.  This will help you to not over pack in the future.  With a little planning, packing can be a breeze making traveling more fun and less hassle!

Luggage or “Baggage “

February 3, 2012

On a recent trip,  my husband and I each showed up with an airline carry-on size rolling suitcase.   Our friends arrived with 2 bags each.  Their bags were also of a size that necessitated checking 2 of them.

As a frequent traveler, I try not to ever have to check bags.   It’s not a financial issue for me, my frequent flyer status gets me free bag checks. 
Larger bags are simply inconvenient and expensive in ways you may not have considered.

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First,  what’s your time worth?   Whether precious vacation minutes or valuable business time,  checking a bag wastes it.  You have to arrive at the airport sooner to be able to check a bag.  
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At your destination there is more wasted time at the carousel.   Even the taxi line gets longer as more and more travelers get their bags and make their way to the curb.  At your hotel you’ll waste even more time waiting for the bell staff to deliver your cart of baggage.

In actual dollars, more baggage costs more money.   You may or may not have to pay to check your bag but there are other real costs too.  If you have enough baggage that you use a cart at the airport or the hotel,  the rental and tips can add up.

The amount of baggage can also force your party to split into more than one taxi or incur added costs for larger vehicles.   We’ve had to rent larger cars to accommodate the baggage of traveling companions which cost more in fuel cost in addition to the higher daily rate.
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You may not think this is significant but if you added it up as I have you may be surprised.   Personally I’d rather spend my travel dollars on an adult beverage, a nice meal or a memorable experience than on baggage costs.
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Our friends were amazed by our compact luggage especially since they knew we were staying longer. I shared my packing secrets with them and I will share them with you in next Friday’s post.


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