A Perfect Traveling Dress

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On our recent trip abroad, our luggage (thanks to our Ryanair flight) was fairly limited.- I have more posts cooking up about how I managed to pack lightly and remix my vacation wardrobe, but today I just have a quick outfit shot for you highlighting what I would call the perfect holiday dress. It’s an outfit-in-one:  just add some earrings and you’re good to go. It even has the belt built-in! Because of the weight of the fabric, color, and pattern, you don’t have to worry about a slip or camisole. And let me tell you…all those little things add up when bag space is at a premium!

Now let’s talk about hair for a sec. I dislike wearing my hair back completely. Just don’t like what it does to my face shape. But because of our schedule, activities, hard water of Tuscany, wind of Ireland, and my lack of desire to spend 3 sessions a day working on my hair, my option were: braid or ponytail it. That got old fast. So upon my arrival home, I decided a trim was in order. Actually a 6 inch trim. – Pictures to come.

 

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Top 5 Travel Tips


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petalsHomegirl Casey’s here today to talk a bit about travel advice. This girl is full of it (in both senses of the phrase! Ha!). She was a veritable well of knowledge that I tapped into often as we were preparing for our jaunt across the pond. And now…SURPRISE! We’ve actually been off enjoying said trip for the past few weeks (hence all my sweet friends helping to fill in for me around here), and while I’m back home now recovering from jet lag and getting my American bearings, allow Casey to share some of her wisdom with you. I promise to relay all the details from our amazing journey soon!

petalsHello there, friends of Kristin…and therefore friends of mine! I’m Casey, the brains behind the blog We Took the Road Less Traveled. I’m just your average Southern girl turned expat, living abroad in beautiful Germany! Completely normal, right? It’s not exactly where I thought I’d be spending 3 years of my adult life, but we definitely aren’t complaining! My handsome Air Force hubby and I made the move 4,000 miles away from our families in North Carolina a year and a half ago and have been traveling fools ever since! We love life here in Deutschland and have had the opportunity to travel to some pretty amazing places. Just last year we visited 9 different countries! My wallet is currently in the corner crying, but it’s worth it, I swear. So, how in the world do we manage to keep our sanity while traveling? Good question. Lots of wine! You think I’m kidding? I’m not. Ok, so wine and a few important tips we like to keep in mind while we’re far from home. Lucky for you, I’m going to reveal a few of our best travel tips here today! If only I could share the wine too, huh? 😉

Top 5 Travel Tips:

     Be flexible. You may have planned and planned a particular trip down to the very restaurant you’re going to dine in every evening, but just as in everyday life, Murphy
will strike! Murphy’s Law, that is. He’s always waiting around the corner to ruffle your feathers and turn a would-be fantastic getaway into a total suck-fest. So, learn to go with the flow. Roll with the punches. Fly on the wings of an eagle. One too many cliches? Moving on…

     Have realistic expectations. You’re not going to be able to do and see EVERYTHING you want to while traveling. Believe me, we’ve tried. My motto used to be, “If your feet
aren’t bleeding by the end of the day, you’re not doing it right!” And then I got a reality check. And lots of Band-Aids. Come into each travel opportunity with a few “must-see” spots on your list and let the rest be “bonus sights”. If you see them, cool. If not, ehhh, maybe next time. Don’t wear yourself out to the point that you don’t enjoy your surroundings. You’re on vacation for gosh sakes!

     Talk to the locals! We’ve found some of Europe’s best-kept secrets that no travel book will show you just from getting chummy with the wait staff or striking up a convo with a street performer (but please, dear Lord, give them a dollar or you’ll get a mouthful of not so friendly travel advice). They live there, why wouldn’t they know the best pub or picnic spot in town? Travel books are nice, but don’t let them dictate your entire trip. Go off the beaten path a bit and see what fun awaits you. Some of our most memorable experiences abroad have come from taking “the road less traveled”. HA! See what I did there? I know, stop it.

     Bring an umbrella. No matter where you go, it rains. London, it rained. Italy, it rained. Germany, it RAINS. If we waited for a day when the weather was perfect to get out and see our host country, we’d never see anything. It’s the rainiest place we’ve ever lived. But, that doesn’t stop us. And don’t let weather stop you! Invest in a sturdy umbrella and raincoat (or two) and make sure they’re in your carry on. You can thank me later.

     Don’t let culture shock bog you down. Stepping off the plane into a foreign country can be one of the scariest things in the world. It could also be the most exciting. Do your
research beforehand. Coming to a new country with a little knowledge of the culture and language can go farther than you’d expect. The locals appreciate when you make an effort to talk to them in their native tongue, however hard or embarrassing it may be. They also love to practice their English on you! Germans are notorious for never letting me speak German. It’s probably better that way anyways. Be open-minded and willing to try new things, no matter how wacky or un-American they may seem. We view the world through the eyes of our own culture and are often put off by the way other counties live, eat, dress, and what they believe. Because of this, we tend to shy away from certain experiences and often don’t get the most out of our trips abroad. While traveling, I challenge you to take time to appreciate your differences. Submerge yourself in them. I believe being a traveler can contribute to a person becoming well-balanced. Worldly. It can also make you appreciate what you have back home. After all, there is no place like it!

So, there you have it. Everything you need to know about traveling abroad, whether you wanted to know it or not. Auf Wiedershen, freundes!petalsThanks Casey-girl! I know you’ll want to follow along on all her travel adventures – currently on her docket: a 12-day Mediterranean cruise. I know. Here is where she hangs out:

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How to Prepare Leeks

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How to properly prepare leeks | Vignettes~ the Blog

Leeks. Those funny, fat non-bulbous members of the onion family. I adore them in a good soup, and though they add a deliciously creamy sweet-onion taste, if not prepped properly, they can also add a rather unwelcome gritty texture to the mix.

How to properly prepare leeks | Vignettes~ the Blog

Luckily, thoroughly cleaning out the sand found between the layers is easy as a wink! All you have to do is give the outside a good rinse, cut off the roots, then slice the white part into 1/4″ rounds. Have a deep bowl filled with cool water at the ready, and throw your slices in as you separate the round layers from one another.

How to properly prepare leeks | Vignettes~ the Blog

Swish the rounds vigorously in the water, and all the sand will sink to the bottom, while the leeks float. See?

How to properly prepare leeks | Vignettes~ the BlogScoop out the rounds, drain, and add to your favorite recipe grit-free!

How to properly prepare leeks | Vignettes~ the BlogIf you’d like a recipe to use your perfectly clean leeks in, come visit me over on She{hearts}It today where I’m sharing a yummy Creamy Spring Carrot Leek Soup!

One Item – Six Ways

Time for our next installment of “One Item, Six Ways”. Ready? Today we’re checking out the versatility of the ubiquitous button down shirt. The one I’m wearing in these photographs is pretty middle-of-the-road as far as dressiness goes: an all-season light cotton, in a feminine calico print.

IMG_7527 Style #1: -All American Girl- throwing on a jean jacket and some interesting-yet-still-neutral cords makes this button up ready to head out shopping or to a meet up with your girlfriends at the coffee shop.

IMG_7518 Style #2: -Classically Casual- this outfit is totally me. Old comfy jeans, a soft pullover scoop neck sweater, leather booties, and a touch of classic jewelry to add some polish. Perhaps my favorite way to wear a button-down.

IMG_7553 Style #3: –A Little Bit Country- Yet another way to make a sleeveless sundress last all year long. Shown here with the button-down knotted at the waist, and some boots for warmth.

IMG_7571 Style #4: -Sunny Days- In the warmer months, use your long sleeved button-down as a light jacket to fend off morning and evening chill.

IMG_7581 Style #5: -Belted Blues- This time, the jeans are a dressier dark wash, and our button-down is tucked in and belted. Because it is winter, I added an ivory scarf to the ensemble. This is perhaps the most versatile of the styles. Wear it anywhere!

IMG_7545Style #6: -Dressed Up With No Place to Go- Taking the cotton shirt to the next level by pairing it with a high-waisted leather skirt, wide belt, and ever ladylike pearls; your everyday shirt, just got its fancy on!

So there you have it. Six different ways to style your favorite button-down. Variety is the spice of life (and the key to a fresh and endlessly remixable wardrobe too incidentally)!

If you’d like to see more One Item – Six Ways posts, CLICK HERE.

And if you’re still not convinced that a button-down shirt (or two or three) are a very practical addition to your remixable wardrobe, you can watch the video I made with even more button-down ideas HERE!

I’m so glad you stopped by today! Did you enjoy this post? Feel free to share it with your friends using the buttons below, and you may want to follow Vignettes so you never miss another!

Remix: One Item – Six Ways

On our journey to create a remixable wardrobe, occasionally I thought I’d share one item of clothing, and how it can be “remixed” six different ways to make it appropriate for different seasons and occasions. I know, for me, it is always helpful to have “visual aids” when I’m getting my mind around a new concept. 🙂

A simple, sleeveless dress. Absolutely a wardrobe essential. Choose the color, cut, style, and length that is you, but keep it solid, and fairly simple in design for maximum versatility.

IMG_6813Style #1: -Summer Sundress- The only accessories are white sandals, a straw hat, and a large shell necklace. An easy throw-and-go outfit.

IMG_6843Style #2: -Wedding/Party Wrap-Up- Using a delicate lace infinity scarf as an asymmetrical wrap, and adding large earrings, and leopard print shoes dresses up the style, and adds some fun!

IMG_6819Style #3: -The Jumper- Jumpers are not just for 65 year old 2nd grade teachers! 😉 Use your trusty button up shirt (that we talked about two weeks ago) underneath your dress, add a wide belt, hose, patent leather heels, a sparkly necklace, and nerd glasses, and you’re ready for class!

IMG_6839Style #4: -Workwear- Make your dress perfect for the office with a cardigan over top, and a light dressy scarf. Black tights and booties, with a multi-chain necklace, round out the accessories.

IMG_6876Style #5: -Au Casual- Dress it down using a grandpa-style cardi, belted around the outside; a fun scarf will keep you warm in winter, along with some footless tights or leggings. Comfy moccasins lend a relaxed air to the whole ensemble.

IMG_6894Style #6: -Skirting Around- Who would know this was a dress? When you add a nice cozy sweater over top, a fat scarf, winter tights and boots to this number, viola! It transforms into a skirt!

So was this lesson in remixing helpful? Would you like to see more of it here on le blog? Are you inspired to go remix an item in your own wardrobe?

Linking up with Amanda from Serenity Now – Weekend Bloggy Reading Party

How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea

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Any tea connoisseur will sing the praises of loose leaf tea, but do you know how to properly brew it? It’s easy as a wink. Use 1 tsp. of tea leaves per 8oz water. Have your water just barely under the boiling point for black and herbal teas – if it’s boiling, it may scald the leaves and make the flavor bitter. For delicate white and green teas, the water needs to be a touch cooler. Set your timer! Four minutes is my black tea perfection. Green: 3; White: 2; Herbal infusion: 5+. Yours may be a little more, or a little less…it’s all according to strength preference.

*Tip: I suggest using a bamboo or (as seen above) a recycled plastic strainer. Metal can react to the tea and alter the flavor.

My favorite tea at the moment? Lapsang Souchong. A delicious smoked black tea. There is simply nothing cozier for chilly winter days!

What’s your favorite?

A Frugalista’s Birthday Tale

(or how to celebrate when you’re cheap!)

As some of you know, I had a birthday last week. And this year, we had a very unique kind of birthday adventure. Thanks to some fellow thrifty friends and bloggers, I set out to have the cheapest celebration ever! Grand total $10 (which we spent on one soft pretzel, a Chick-fil-A sandwich, and two tips-for the record).

Did you know that much of the modern world enjoys celebrating the day you were born?? Who knew?! Today I have a list to share of all the things that I got to enjoy for FREE simply because it was “National Kristin-Was-Born Day”! There are many more exhaustive lists out there (many of which include buy-one-get-one-free offers), but I know from first hand experience that those listed below are all legit, and all FREE (no additional purchase required)! Most of these will ask you to sign up for an e-mail list or something similar, so that they can send you your FREE birthday offer. Links to do so will be provided. Let me know if you have any questions about how these different programs work!

The day started out nice and low key: special cards/flowers/calls from friends and family…you know, the usual. ~ Husband was up for taking the day off, and traipsing around town to enjoy the spoils with me, so after I got all ready, we hit the road! Our stops included:

+ IHOP – One free meal on your birthday! (I did tip here)
+ Jet Car Wash – Free car wash (no sign up required, just tell attendant that it’s your birthday)
+ Starbucks – Free birthday beverage on your Starbucks Rewards Card
+ Firehouse Subs – Free sub of your choice (no sign up required, just bring your ID to prove date of birth)
+ Ulta – Free eyebrow wax (I did tip here) – All you need to have is an Ulta Rewards Card, which you can sign up for when you are there if you don’t already have one.
+ Panera – Free birthday surprise on your MyPanera card (I got a smoothie)
+ Maggie Moos – Free scoop of ice cream
+ Auntie Anne’s Pretzels – B1G1F soft pretzel (I did cave for this B1G1 offer – I adore soft pretzels!)
+ $5 in CVS bucks (I used mine for two free nail polishes)

In addition to all of those fabulous birthday related offers, we also went to a free oil and vinegar tasting at Oliveto (divine!) which happens everyday, a free wine tasting/holiday open house at Wine Gourmet (those are finished for the season though), and picked up a B1G1F Chick-fil-A sandwich because we are members of the Diner Club. Such a fun treasure-hunting kind of day! 🙂

And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to celebrate again…the official end of my birthday isn’t until tomorrow night. It’s totally normal to celebrate for a week and a half, yes?! 😉

I’ll leave you with some quick snaps from our fabulous day of FREE-ness:

Do you know of other businesses that offer you free merchandise/services on your birthday? Share them in the comments below!