The other day a friend asked my husband how I can afford to drive a Lexus since I’m *just* a teacher (the friend was curious, not trying to be rude, and I welcome money talk!). Here’s how… I bought it used from a small town dealer we found on Craigslist which made it cheaper than said friend’s brand new “modest” car. I have a car payment but I can afford it comfortably (even though car payments suck) and that’s all there is to it.
My mind starts to wander when I see photos on Instagram of friends in Europe or Palm Springs. And you know what… I’ve been one of those people on Instagram posting pictures from my “lavish” vacations.
:: 1 :: Not really a tip but taking advantage of an opportunity – The past five summers we’ve gone to Idaho with On River Time (the nonprofit my husband Greg works for part-time). This is not a vacation, this is actual work so they pay for our flights – thus they pay for our return flight. We discovered that once we’re out west, one-way flights to other western places are pretty cheap and the west is a great place for a road trip. Where can you tack on a vacation to an obligation?
:: 2 :: Flight Alerts – six months out from any potential travel I set up alerts. I use Hopper, Google Flights, & Scott’s Cheap flights emails. There are more hardcore ways but I’m not willing to work that hard. Also, we recently got a Delta AmEx so we’ll be cashing in on our miles each year too.
:: 3 :: Pay as much as you can in advance (admission, event tickets, lodging, car rental) – This is more of a mental trick. If you pay for things in advance as you’re planning it doesn’t hurt as bad! You don’t feel all uptight once you’re on vacay about all the money you’re spending because you’ve already paid for most in the months leading up to it. Also I’ve found car rentals are actually cheaper the more advance you book them… mistakes have been made on my part.
:: 4 :: AirBnb y’all – A few months out I start looking for cool AirBnbs and using the save feature on the website. I have found the majority of the time they are cheaper and more convenient than hotels. We aim for $100 a night and have found some really great places to stay. We’ve only had one “meh” not great experience. But you know what is even cheaper… friends that live in cool places! We have done that a few times too. We’re great guests. Where do you live?
:: 5 :: Pick a meal a day – Since we stay at AirBnbs/friends’ places where we have access to at least a refrigerator (usually a full kitchen), we eat two meals a day at “home.” As soon as we get to a destination we go to the grocery store for coffee, yogurt, eggs, snacks, and frozen pizzas. That way we splurge a little at dinner and don’t feel bad about it. (Though when we went on our epic road trip last year we only ate out once! That trip was more about sightseeing than eating.)
:: 6 :: Live within your means the rest of the year – Greg and I are just not big spenders. Granted we don’t have children but we bought the cheapest house in the neighborhood, have only one car payment, we eat at home 90% of the time, workout at home, and I’m constantly turning lights off (I’m not sure how much of a difference that makes but it makes me feel better). We both work multiple “gigs” too. Oh and Greg’s motto is “they can’t put you in jail for student loan debt.” So there’s that.
I’ve been on a blogging hiatus. Not on purpose but not NOT on purpose either. There’s been a lot of things but now is not the time because time is of the essence!
I have been a long time fan of Etsy and have bought many a thing on the site. (I have two etsy shops! Paintings & Letterpress). Lately I’ve been searching for vintage apparel and accessories. I’ve never been a trend follower per se but I would say that buying vintage is very on trend for 2019. I’ve seen numerous people online pledging not buy clothes for the year or only buying used. I support that idea because there’s a lot of waste in fashion and also buying used can get you some cool/unique pieces. I did a little browsing this weekend and wanted to share some finds that I’m not going to buy but you totally should.
****Disclaimer* I mainly look for tops because I have a hard time finding pants in general. Also everything I’m sharing is still available at the time I publish this post. ****
Floral Blazer – Blazers are very in for spring/summer/life and I like the unstructured fit. Florals are never not in style. Blanche Devereaux would certainly approve of this look. You’re welcome.
Kimono Robe – The only reason I’m not getting this for myself is because it’s way too long for me since I’m half the height of a normal sized human. The price is unbelievable. I love the stripes, the colors, the blue detailing… everything. You couldn’t be mad wearing this in the morning.
Tie Dye – Apparently one of the biggest trends this year is tie dye so why not buy some vintage tie dye. No need to stain your hands for a week. Also this one is extra cool because it’s a vintage band tee… two in one y’all!
Sheer Tank – There’s still a chance I might buy this myself. I love a good collared tank. This would look cute with one of those bras you want people to see. Maybe tucked into some jeans or wide leg trousers. It could work for going to an outdoor concert or for a night out. I’m feeling it. Just not sure if it’s for me but I do like it a lot.
60’s Aqua Bandana – Bandanas are a versatile accessory. I have a silk one tied to the strap of my leather tote bag and I like to wear one as a “necklace” to give a basic tee a little flair. This color is unique and I love the all cotton ones personally. Or you know, buy it for your dog because they deserve cute things too.
Buckle Barrette & Rectangle Barrette & Bow Barrette – Barrettes are having a moment again. I haven’t tried one yet but I think I will soon. I’ll keep you posted. There are so many good ones on Etsy. Here are three of about a million to chose from on the site. Ps. A girl I know that has a little vintage shop said things with bows always go quick. Snag it while you can!
Happy shopping! Let me know if you like this kind of post. I love searching and picking out stuff so it’s fun for me… but is it fun for you? If it was… comment, send me a dm, email, yell into the open abyss and let a sister know.
You know how sometimes it takes a minute to process what happened… well in my case it can take up to a year. This is all for posterity’s sake.
Last summer I went to London and Paris with my longtime childhood friend, Hamp. Since Hamp is a weird combination of a geriatric and a toddler, he “let” me do all the planning. Which worked for both our lifestyles.
I made a detailed itinerary but here are spots of note we hit:
British Museum, Neal’s Yard/Seven Dials, St. Dunstan-in-the-East, Tower of London, Borough Market, St. Paul’s Cathedral, St. Chapelle, Notre Dame, Cluny Museum, Eiffel Tower, The Lourve, Millennium Bridge, Notting Hill, Portobello Road Market, Tate Modern, Victoria & Albert Museum, Trafalgar Square, Sketch, Kensington Palace & Gardens, Westminister Abbey, Tower Bridge, Parliament of England, Stonehenge, Bath
If you would like the exact itinerary details it will cost you. I’m upping my fee from one ice cream cone to two. Thank you very much.
We almost missed our flight to London but we ran through the Charlotte airport like the scene from Home Alone and made it on to the plane with minutes to spare. What I didn’t research before going to London is that it was going to take 3 hours for us to go through customs once we got there. Luckily we made friends with some folks in line including Typhoid Dylan (we don’t know his real name but that’s his name in our hearts).
Anyway, here are some pictures pretty much in sequential order.
The young and the restless made it to London!
St. Dunstan-in-the-East is basically a secret garden that’s not so secret.
We walked across Tower Bridge.
Got lunch at a market… how very English of us!
We got up early and hopped on a train. It is true what they say… Paris is always a great idea.
I’ve been to Paris before but I think I’ll never tire of it.
St. Chapelle is undeniably beautiful, floor to ceiling.
Back in London and we took a walk around Notting Hill. How dreamy!
All the colors! Now I need a magenta door.
Like any vacation of mine, there was a lot of art and ice cream.
When you’re in England you might as well go see Stonehenge, right? ** If you go to Stonehenge, I highly recommend paying a little extra to go on the tour before or after the site is open to the public so that you can go all up in them! Totally worth it! **
On our trip to Stonehenge we also went to Bath (which was a gorgeous city) and the ancient town of Lacock (quintessentially English).
Back in London I tried to take the most London AF pictures ever.
One of my favorite exhibits I’ve ever seen was Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion at the V&A on our last day.
And no trip to London would be complete without high tea at Sketch.
That was the extremely condensed version of the trip. Overall, London is a great city to visit! It’s easy to get around and there’s so much to see. Believe it or not, I didn’t see everything. I’m ready for my return trip!
After our trip to Idaho and San Jose, we traveled up to San Francisco for a few days. San Francisco has been on my list since I saw Forest Gump in the Dothan movie theater.
Greg and I pretend to be outdoorsy from time to time so our first stop was to cross the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito en route to Muir Woods. We ate a really unique/delicious salad and pizza at Bar Bocce (highly recommend this place for food and views!). Sausalito is picturesque. It’s hard to believe anyone lives there.
Next we headed to the main event… Muir Woods. I looked up a few different trails ahead of time. We settled on one that was about 2 miles long. We wanted to see the woods but not spend the entire day there. Muir Woods is a busy/touristy place. I recommend taking a trail that is at least 2 miles or longer to get away from most of the tourist traffic. Besides the traffic, Muir Woods is pretty incredible. It’s so quiet! It feels like you’re on set for Jurassic Park. Something about the light gives it another worldly feel… not to mention the trees are hundreds of years old and HUGE.
After Muir Woods we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge again back to SF. Before heading to our AirBnb we stopped at Palace of Fine Arts… I just like to see as much crap as I can. Palace of Fine Arts was neat. I wouldn’t say it’s a must see though.
Finding a place to stay in SF that wasn’t super expensive was difficult. We ended up booking this super cute AirBnb in the Mission District. If you’ve never stayed in an AirBnb there a few things to know: 1. Always read the listing carefully 2. There will be surprises 3. It’s not a hotel. With that being said we were pretty happy with our stay. When they said “Mission District” they really meant “closest to.” When they said “yogurt and granola” they meant “there’s some there but it’s been there over a year, check the dates!” What did not surprise or disappoint was the resident cat, Squirrelly Joe.
To end day one we went on a taco hop for dinner, watched street celebrations of the Golden State Warriors winning the NBA championship and finished it with ice cream at Humphry Slocombe (I got the “Secret Breakfast” flavor). We had the best homemade red mole sauce at El Metate that I’m still dreaming about!
Nothing like starting off a day of vacation with a phone interview! We also had to return our rental car. Driving in SF is an experience… one that I would not like to have again. With the dreadful tasks out of the way, we headed to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Art Museums are weirdly (?) comforting to me and I really enjoyed the SFMOMA. It has a diverse collection of fun/entertaining art for everyone. It wasn’t so woo-woo-out-there like some modern art can be. I would highly suggest checking it out. One of my favorites was Warhol’s Dolly’s, of course.
We did some walking and headed toward Ghirardelli Square/Fisherman’s Wharf because you haven’t been to SF if you don’t. Along the way we stopped and got a donut at Bob’s Donuts and then I stopped in the precious shop of an illustrator/stationer I follow on Instagram (@paristosf), Ferme à Papier. I bought a few cards because how could I not.
I’m not one for staying on the beaten path but we went to Musée Mécanique in Fisherman’s Wharf. It was actually pretty neat and comical. My favorite “game” was the Opium Den where you put in your quarter and skeletons start coming out of the walls and doorways of the puppet living scene. It was so wacky.
We continued our walking tour to Chinatown and stopped in the famed City Lights Bookstore for a browse.
Finally, we decided to have a traditional SF dinner of oysters and po’ boys at Hog Island Oyster Co. In standard Vacation-Mollie style we finished off the evening with ice cream and picking up a bottle of wine before heading back to our temporary home.
This day we decided to explore the Mission District. To start, we ate at Tartine Bakery which definitely lived up to all the hype. We got an open faced sandwich thing and a lemon tart. This is also where we had the best coffee of the trip. Definitely go to Tartine!
I love art and Greg loves history so we went to the Mission San Francisco de Asís. It’s the oldest building in SF and has survived fires and earthquakes. It also has a pretty little cemetery.
We hung out in the park for a while watching everyone’s dogs play and a hippy girl with her butt hanging out walk a white fluffy kitten on a leash. Some guy brought his parrot to fly around and buzz everyone and that’s when we tapped out.
We had lunch at a really cute Cuban place called Media Noche. I got the ceviche which was perfectly refreshing and Greg got the Cuban sandwich. Their bathroom has shiny pink banana wallpaper which was a plus for me.
There was more ice cream.
Later we met up with Greg’s friend Jack (who we stayed with in San Jose) for dinner. We went to the Lyon Street steps for some views before walking to Hong Kong Loung II for dim sum. The dim sum was delicious.
Because we can’t stop the party, we went bar hopping. Most notably was the Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar inside the Fairmont Hotel (which is beautiful itself). Let’s just say I was excited, Greg and Jack were… less than excited. It’s super kitschy and the drinks are not great and expensive but it’s a definite experience! We finished the night at a little hole in the wall and called it day.
Our flight was at noon so we wanted to get in a good breakfast before we left. We went to Mission Beach Cafe as soon as they opened at 9. I got the pancakes with bourbon syrup and they hit the spot. The story of the rest of the day was flight delays and getting home at 2am. Oh we did sit by Lou Holtz. Nonetheless, we had a great trip!
*** Tips and Thoughts ***
- Here’s the google map I made with a bunch of places that were recommended to me, we visited, or I researched. I have it organized and color coded. I even plotted where there are some murals (art walls) to see.
- SF is definitely walkable. I wouldn’t recommend driving. We either walked or took Lyft everywhere. We didn’t use the public transportation because I didn’t look into how to do it. Bikes are also an option.
- There is a big homeless population in SF which was kind of shocking to me. More so than NYC.
- Greg doesn’t normally wear his sweaters on his shoulders like that… he was tired of carrying them.
Once again Greg and I were lucky enough to make the trek out to Idaho with On River Time (the nonprofit Greg works for). This was our third year together (Greg went one year by himself). Yet again, we parlayed it into a mini/cheap vacation. Check out last year’s post here and 2015 here.
We had a great time with the kids. I even got to go out and fish this year. I was not excited about it at first because tbh I knew I was going to have to wear a hat but then I caught one! And then I caught more! Despite the hat, I had fun fishing. Oh and in that first picture I didn’t know how to hold a fish for the camera… no one told me! All fingers with a little bit of fish *eye roll*.
Usually the kids get to visit Yellowstone but this year we switched it up and went to the Grand Tetons. We had an awesome guide named Sarah who picked up a lot of random animal poop all in the name of nature and learning. She took us on a hike and to see a beaver dam. She was awesome. She was totally nerding out on nature and that’s exactly the type of guide you want.
After our Idaho adventure we hopped on a plane to San Jose where we spent a few days with Greg’s college buddy, Jack. He and his girlfriend, Char were our gracious hosts. Really, they were great and it’s awesome to have friends in appealing locales (anyone live in Hawaii? Costa Rica? France?).
As we were leaving a couple came to take their wedding pictures and I cannot think of a better place. There are so many colors in cliffs and then the water and then the beach, oh my. I would love to see their photos.
On our way back to San Jose, we stopped in Monterey (Big Little Lies!) for lunch and picked up local sea bass to cook for dinner. It was pretty much the idyllic day with perfect weather and good company.
The next day we went on a five mile hike in the San Jose valley. As we were hiking the view continually changed. The terrain is just so different than Alabama. It felt other worldly at times. And at times it felt like we were in Italy. Everything is golden and green and so much texture.
When we got back from our hike we had the ultimate Silicon Valley experience… we went to LinkedIn. Jack has been working there for the past year as a coder (whatever that means, idk). He gave us a little tour around the building he works in (because LinkedIn has multiple buildings). Everything was Marvel themed. They have espresso machines, sparkling juice machines, snacks, and fridges packed on every level. Like, no wonder everyone wants to work in tech. It was really neat to see and despite what you might think they don’t have cubicles per se and there is a lot of natural light.
We went to a near by town where popped into a local bookstore and then to a beer garden. We had a low key dinner back in San Jose. The next morning we left for San Francisco!… Stay tuned for that post.
I’ve said it before but I’m kind of a freak about having my nails painted. I don’t get “professional” manicures but I give myself one every Sunday night. Lately, I’ve been wanting to add a little **pizazz** to my basic polish job but nothing too crazy. Enter…. minimal manicures aka laziest nail art ever. These are classic, simple designs that are a little more fun but not garish. They are simple enough to do at home or have done at any nail salon. So, dig your boring nails into this…
Dot, dot, not a lot. When I taught elementary art that’s what I would tell my students about using glue. I think it applies here too. Dots are easy and versatile. You definitely don’t need any nail tools. A q-tip, bobby pin, or toothpick will do the job.
Stripes are always classic. You can play with varying widths and numbers of stripes for different effects. Again, no fancy tools necessary. I usually just use the polish brush but if you want more control or thinner stripes you can get a cheap paint brush from any craft store or tape.
Triangles are stripes’s first cousin. Wether acute or obtuse, you can get a range of looks with them. Use a little bit of tape for perfect points and you’ll be envied by all zebras and tigers in the zoo.
Embrace a natural part of your nails and enhance those God given lunulae (the actual name of the white part of your nail, latin for little moon) with glitter, solid color, or no polish at all. Remember those hole reinforcers? Yeah, they can be used for this look.
The traditional French tip manicure is passé in my humble opinion. But, YOU DO YOU. If you’re looking for an update though… try unexpected colors, a different shape, or an ombre. See? We all win. Yay, us!
There is no skill required for ombre nails. All you need are at least three polishes in the same hue or tone and you’re good to go. Only bonus points if you’re a polish hoarder like me and five of the same. If you’re feeling extra bold try this fancier gradient. Or, just paint each nail a random color. That works too!
Earrings! Let me talk to/at you about earrings!
Since the fall I have seen statement earrings popping up on the ol’ fashion blogs and on the instagrams. I’m one to move cautiously if at all towards trends so I’ve been hanging back. I also have sensitive ears. BUT, I’ve had visions of statement earrings dancing through my head.
You may be thinking, “Great! I still have ALLLLLL of my chandelier earrings and hoops from college!” Well, I don’t want to burst your bubble because if you still like them, wear them… but this time around think bigger, quirkier, geometric, tassels, and pompoms. Think of them as little works of art.
So, I think I’m going to have to break out the neosporin and give the statement earring the college try. Here are a few I’m picturing to wear with a t-shirt, high waist jeans with a raw hem, and some clogs (click images to shop):
It’s no secret I love podcasts and try to push them on everyone I know… Well, today is no different. If you haven’t dipped your ears into the pool of podcasts then consider this your doggy paddle lesson. Here are three podcast episodes I’ve listened to recently and thought were exceptionally good:
Why I Like It :: I love a good coincidence story. It has suspense and intrigue. I feel like there should be a Finnish word to describe the feeling you get when you’re part of one. If anything, this podcast will make you want to pay attention to your surroundings and the minutia of your daily life. You never know what will pop back up days or years later. That’s part of the fun of being alive. (Please tell me a coincidence story if you have one!)
Why I Like It :: This one surprised me. It is not at all what you think it might be about. Within this podcast there are a diverse range of stories and angles on the topic including one with a holocaust survivor (my favorite part). I was thinking it was going to be more about fashion but it ended up being more about psychology (and the interesting people in the episode). Human interest and psychology are the perfect combo.
Why I Like It :: First, I love Tim Gunn and I love Michael Ian Black. Second, Michael Ian Black is extremely good at interviewing. I am really impressed. Tim Gunn is very relatable, open, and smart in this interview. I’ve listened to a few interviews with Tim Gunn and this one is my favorite. Michael Ian Black asks the best questions and all the questions you would want asked. I would recommend this podcast as a whole. I’ve enjoyed all of them that I’ve listened to.
If you’re wondering when to listen… I listen to podcasts on my commute, while cleaning my house, getting ready in the morning, prepping dinner, and walking the dogs. Basically anytime you have a mundane task is a good time to listen.
If you listen to podcasts, let me know what you’re listening to! I love to try new ones.
In July, Greg and I decided we hadn’t traveled enough this summer (ha!) so we loaded up the car and drove 14 hours north to Brooklyn. Luckily, we always have a place to stay with his brother and sister-in-law – thanks Scott and Meredith!
The first two days we were there it was PERFECT weather. I wore jeans and a tank top and never sweated. Things then took a dramatic turn to HEAT and HUMIDITY.
Despite the weather conspiring against us we go out there and suffered I mean… had fun.
Sites: 9/11 Memorial, Washington Square Park, The Whitney, The Met, Chelsea Market, random art galleries, Prospect Park, Strand Bookstore, DUMBO, Transit Museum, Oculus, random pent house open house (G’s SIL had artwork in it)
Those are the exact places I could remember the names. We ate a super authentic ramen place in Chinatown that was a real experience. We went to a whiskey tasting and a chocolate tasting in Red Hook. And in between everything we had a lot of coffee, pizza, and bagels.
Now the pictures:
And if you made it all the way to here, bless you! You get a badge too! Stay tuned for part 2…
Ho Ho HO! We are less than a week away from THE BIG DAY. Every year I can’t believe it and I’m not ready! We’re just that much closer to it being over and that makes me sad. Speaking of over… here are the last days of #Mollidays2016. If you missed it, here are days 1-4 and 5-8.
Day Nine :: The easiest and best gift there is, is wine. And if you’re taking my advice, here are some wine gift tags.
Day Ten :: Be sure to document the season… I made this handy photo checklist. Get your family involved and you’ll always remember Christmas 2016… even if you don’t want to.
Day Eleven :: Need some more Christmas decorations? How about this print of hand drawn snowflakes?
Day Twelve :: For the final day, I made a coloring sheet from all of this year’s illustrations. Enjoy!