On Travel and Money

budget travel

^ Versailles, France 2013

Jordan and I both place a high value on travel and adventure: far away getaways, smaller weekend trips and various local excursions. Growing up, the trips my parents took us kids centered around visiting family; we always stayed state-side. The family trips were fun but my longing to visit places around the world has been strong from a very young age. Thankfully, I married a man who shares those desires! We want to see the world while being wise with our time and money.

During this early stage of our marriage, Jordan and I have chosen travel over what others might view as more normal steps for our age (i.e. purchasing a house), but we don’t regret our adventures one bit. We’ve seen lots of great things and hung out with some even better people. As an aside, we’ve been granted good health and seven years of marriage without children, which has given us more flexibility with our money. Travel requires a lot of planning and saving and we’ve learned a few things along the way.

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NYC / / Day Five {The High line}


Sunlight streams through the blinds and I roll over, stretching as I do, unwillingly acknowledging that our vacation is coming to a close. I hop in the shower while Jordan runs downstairs to the local deli, grabbing an iced coffee and a breakfast sandwich for each of us. We climb out the window onto the fire escape to eat our meal, feeling as though we just engaged in the most quintessential New York activity. Below us, across the street was Carrie Bradshaw’s brownstone, the steps partitioned off so the residents could enjoy peace and quiet. Poor souls. I wonder if they knew what they were getting into when they bought their home.

New York City was really good to us. Possibly more than I even expected. This last year and a half (ish) has been full of growing pains; reevaluating our priorities, expectations and goals. We returned home from vacation ready to attack the last month in Chicago before embarking on our new adventure with even more clarity. We’ve been filling our free time catching up with friends and ignoring the fact that there is packing to finish.


But I digress, back to New York and its High Line. Built in the 1930s, its primary task was elevating freight traffic from the streets (carrying goods, not people) and continued until gradually trucks took over that job. The High line stood empty for many years until the Friends of the High Line came together and lobbied for it to be turned into a park. I’m so glad it wasn’t torn down because it offers a unique walking path/park that gives a great view of the Hudson River and a teeny tiny glimpse of Lady Liberty.


^ The park where I almost crashed into Benjamin McKenzie. I was a Seth and Summer shipper all the way. Whatever did happened to Mischa Barton?



^ The High Line has many interesting cutaways and benches that offer rest and private make out nooks 😉




/ / New York Day: One, Two, Three, Four.

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NYC / / Day Four {Top of the Rock!}


I certainly won’t win the “blogging efficiency award” because these New York City vacation posts are still coming!

Visiting NYC without going to the top of some building is probably a tourists crime. We chose to skip The Empire State building after hearing several insider suggestions and instead went to the Top Of the Rock! If we would have had more time I would have loved to see a taping of Jimmy Fallon. After walking through Rockefeller Plaza and seeing everyone in line, I experienced a wave of envy. Another trip, another trip 😉

We chose to spend our last evening in NYC and booked a flat in Greenwich Village, less than 24hrs in advance, through Airbnb. Besides an excellent location, part of the deal was free MoMA passes! Have any of you used Airbnb? After our experience with them in Europe, Jordan and I prefer staying in apartments.

There was threat of rain all day, so with a few clear hours in the morning we walked through Central Park again; visiting the portions we missed earlier, Strawberry Fields (+ the Dakota) in particular. New Yorker’s are so lucky to have Central Park as their backyard.




^ Picasso, Pablo. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon). 1907. Oil paint. Museum of Modern Art, New York


^ Fowler, Eve. A Spectacle and Nothing Strange. 2011-present. Set of twenty-one letterpress posters.  The Museum of Modern Art Library.

I’ve been to MCA in Chicago and London’s Tate Modern, but MoMA is my favorite museum of modern art. A combination of art selection and just general flow contributes to a pleasing viewing experience. As a relative art novice, I was surprised at how many pieces I recognized: Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Vincent van Gogh, etc. Seeing Clade Monet’s Waterlilies in person was incredible! They are huge! 





Due to some lightening off in the distance, we weren’t able to go to the highest deck at 30 Rock, but 72 stories high still gives you a great view of the city. I kept thinking about the quote from Annie the whole time we were there, “And if this floor don’t shine like the top of the Chrysler Building, your backsides will.” As soon as we left the rain really began coming down; so thankful our timing was spot on!

/ / New York City has many great local coffee shops and we tried about two a day! 🙂 A few months ago, Jordan came upon an article about Blue Bottle Coffee and why it’s the Apple to Starbuck’s Microsoft. We were excited to try it, but I’m sorry I was not impressed. We literally got lost in the bowels of Rockefeller plaza trying to find the café and it was a big let down. Just because it’s artisanal doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always best.

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*Favorite Latte of the week came from Bittersweet in Brooklyn.

NYC / / Day Three {No Sleep Till…}


Brooklyn! Our day in Brooklyn was magical. I had pretty high expectations for this day and it did not let me down. We took an early morning subway ride from Manhattan, underneath the East River, to the borough of Brooklyn; where the green grass is more abundant and square footage a little more expansive.

The Brooklyn Flea Market was high on my priority list and thankfully it really was as cool as I had hoped. We strolled a couple blocks past the flea market to first grab a latte at, Bittersweet (hands down best latte of our trip!), on what looked to be the main drag of Fort Greene before diving into the vendors.

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NYC / / Day Two


There were a couple things that I had been warned about New York City: it’s dirty and very crowded. The lovers of the city are vast and don’t seem to feel the need to convince others, but the detractors are pretty loud with their opinion. While Jordan and I did experience crowds, there were plenty of places we went that were peaceful and quiet…namely, the upper west/east side, Brooklyn, and Greenwich Village (which actually feels very similar to Paris, which I think is a good thing).

Friday morning we had to get ourselves from New Jersey to the Upper West Side before a 10:30 coffee shop rendezvous (while also dropping our luggage off at the hotel). Whenever Jordan and I are traveling we like to reach out to people that we know that live in the area to see if they are available for coffee or a quick bite to eat. We had coffee with a board member of a company Jordan does consulting and design for… it’s always nice to see a familiar face so far from home.

There was a sweet little bakery next door to Joe’s Coffee so we grabbed a snack for the road. It was a beautiful day and the stroll through Central Park was really peaceful. We were able to walk around the Jaclyn Kennedy Onassis Reservoir on the way to the Guggenheim Museum. That museum was a priority for Jordan on this trip. Prior to him receiving a copy of Photoshop at 16, he seriously considered becoming an architect. The Guggenheim was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and viewing art in a circular building is nice; the path leads in one direction and we saw the whole place in about two hours. I can get a little museum-ed out, but the Guggenheim’s size is perfect.

Next on the agenda was to visit Kathleen Kelly’s brownstone! We didn’t realize that we were closer in the early morning before walking east across the park, so we turned around and walked west back through the park 😉 After taking a picture or two (or twenty), we walked just around the corner to River Side park (the location of the climactic scene of You’ve Got Mail). We enjoyed a little down time before needing to get ready for The Cripple of Inishmaan!

I participated in a lot of community musical theatre and always dreamed of seeing a show in New York City. Jordan and I liked the idea of seeing a smaller show, so after he heard a Daniel Radcliff interview about a new play he was in, we both knew it was perfect for us! We grabbed a quick bite to eat at a Thai restaurant not far from the theatre, which was SO good! We had this coconut vanilla bean ice cream that was amazing!





^ A couple hours after we walked through Central Park, I noticed that Heidi Klum tweeted a picture of her having lunch in the park! We were so close!


^Kathleen Kelly’s brownstone!


^ Riverside Park has a beautiful view of the Hudson River.



^ Columbus Circle and The Plaza Hotel!


^ We may have been geeking out a little bit during this show!

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NYC / / Day One

Visiting New York City

In an alternate universe maybe I could manage blogging while on vacation, but that is really hard to do! I honestly don’t know how people do it. After a full day of walking all over the city the last thing I had energy to do was edit photos. So, in an effort to remember our week in New York City, be prepared for several vacation posts!

Day 1 / / Lower Manhattan/Flat Iron District

Jordan and I had the pleasure of staying with my aunt and uncle in New Jersey for most of the week. Our time together was wonderful and I wish we didn’t live so far away.

To optimize our city time more efficiently, we broke the metropolis into sections.

Our goal this day was to reach Battery Park, so we could view the Statue of Liberty. From Penn Station, we crossed eastward until we reached Broadway and walked south to SoHo, visiting shops along the way. I discovered only the day before that NY doesn’t have a clothing tax for purchases under $50! Chicago needs to get on that! After finding a couple of pieces at Uniqlo, we visited Felicity’s old stopping ground aka, Dean & Deluca. This place was hopping! It is part grocery store, part cafe; a smaller, more accessible Eataly. We weren’t planning on staying for lunch, but after browsing for a bit and seeing all of the great options, we found a little nook and enjoyed our meals (Jordan had Sushi and I had chicken salad).  After lunch we continued on towards Battery Park, where we got a great glimpse of her ladyship.

We both decided to forgo visiting the new 911 museum. I had heard The Slate Culture Gabfest recap their visit and while it seems that great care has been put into curating the space, I knew it wasn’t for me (a little too somber for our vacation). The actual memorial is breathtaking though. The fountain flowing into the seeming endless abyss below was extremely moving.

I have this affinity towards triangle-shaped buildings. They are remnants of the past that seem to be confused by the modern, right angle streets built around them. Chicago has a few and we saw several in London, but one of the most famous ones of course is the Flat Iron building in New York. Right across the street is Madison Square Park, a beautiful tree-lined park with lots of seating, a ping-pong table, space for street performers, and Shake Shack! We ended our day sitting in the park, enjoying our dinner, as the sun began to set.

I’m still dreaming of another black & white shake!

Dean & Deluca

^ About halfway through day one, I realized a tote bag is extremely useful. It held our umbrella, water bottles/snacks, and purchases we made throughout the week.

Freedom Tower in New York City

^  One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower).

World Trader Center Memorial

911 Memorial

^ The 911 Memorial is extremely moving with its simplistic design.

New York City Parks

Shake Shack

^ I’ve been on record saying that In-N-Out is my favorite “fast food” burger, but Shake Shack has become the winner! Something about the way the actual meat is seasoned makes it different from your typical quick burger. I heard rumblings that Chicago maybe getting a location, I hope that is true!

Visiting New York City

^ I’ve discovered that people seem to either love NYC or hate it. You can tell by both of our faces that we loved it. 😉

Jordan was the photographer for our trip. Photos were edited with photoshop by yours truly (which actually involves me starting and Jordan finishing with his magic photoshop skills).

The Big Apple


Greetings from New York City!

Jordan and I have had a whirlwind past few days — getting up early, taking the NJ transit into the city, and walking all over. So much walking, you guys… That is until we eventually figured out the subway, which is surprisingly easy to use.

The first couple of hours on our first day in the city was a little overwhelming, but we quickly settled in and found a good rhythm.

We are going through our list of places we wanted to visit, all while finding sweet little gems a long the way; our perfect vacation cocktail. But at the moment (while writing this), we are relaxing with my family and watching the World Cup final.

// Follow the NYC adventures on Instagram. #shortnewyork

The Packing Dilemma


Packing, oh packing! I am not a minimalist by nature. My purse is almost always (over) stocked with (non) essentials like 25 bobbi pins, three lipsticks, and backup glasses for contact days. This isn’t really an issue for everyday jaunts, but when I need to anticipate clothing needs for a week or more, things get tricky. The first couple of years of our marriage luggage was still free on flights, it was a rude awakening the first time we had to limit to a carry on!

I almost always end up bringing the pants that only work with that one pair of shoes or the shirt that should have been ironed/happens to have a stain (true story from our road trip). The completely neutral, mix and match wardrobe, would be ideal not only in life, but travel. I’m not there yet. Maybe when I grow up 😉

If you follow me on Pinterest you’ve probably noticed my obsession with packing lists. Sometimes I find them a little unrealistic, especially considering most people will want to change into something different for evening activities. I don’t know about you, but after I’ve walked all day, I like to freshen up.

When you are reading this Jordan and I will already be in New York City! I really enjoy seeing how other’s pack and than practically wear those items. I loosely based my packing list off of this one, but since I no longer need room for a blow dryer/flat iron (longer length + grown out bangs = less high maintenance hair), I brought a couple extra pieces.

Packing List (6 full days + 2 travel days)

4 bottoms (2 pants, 2 shorts)
3 dresses (1 dressy for Broadway show, 1 sundress that will double as a coverup if we decide to go to the Jersey Shore, 1 extra dress for day or night)
3 Sleeveless tops
3 Tee shirts
1 Chambray button up
1 Jean jacket
1 Pull over sweatshirt for planes and cold bedrooms
3 pairs of shoes (sandals, wedges, and sneakers)

And of course the extras…

Undergarments, toiletries, bathing suit, and jewelry.


^ Vacations are one of the only times that my jewelry gets worn. Now that I don’t work in an office, they often sit on my dresser untouched. 🙁


Our NYC itinerary is loosely planned, so I took flexibility into consideration with my choices. I still managed to have space in my carry on! Success!

/ / Do you find it difficult to pack everything into a carry on?

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