Sunday, March 29, 2015

Who doesn't love a great festival?!

A few weeks ago, we heard about a Physics and Engineering Festival that would be taking place at A&M. And since 1. We have children interested in science and engineering as hobbies and possible careers, 2. We figured we'd need to be out of the house for potential showings, and 3. We look for any excuse to head to our beloved Aggieland, we made plans to attend. We got up early yesterday morning, and realized right away that we would need sustenance for the day ahead. Some wanted tacos, others wanted donuts, and I became the hero of the morning by discovering The Donut Taco Palace

After quite a hearty breakfast and our allotment of carbs, sugar and calories for the day (or possibly the week), we continued on our way, and made it to A&M around 11:00. The festival, which was a much bigger deal than we were expecting, was in full swing. We had a blast, visiting many (but not near all) of the incredible exhibits, attending a fantastic bubble show, and scoring free tickets to the finale of the festival: a symphony to be held in the evening. 

Eventually, everyone claimed to be hungry again, and we decided to try the new-to-us Grub Burger Bar, since we have already exposed the kids to most of the remaining haunts from back in our college days. This is a restaurant with an identity crisis about just exactly what kind of restaurant it is, which caused confusion in ordering and seating, but the food was absolutely delicious, so we forgave them their their lack of definition in other areas. 

After our late lunch, we decided some down time was in order before the symphony. Clay and Max had naps in the car, while I ran an errand. Then we found a park, where the kids played until it was time to go back to campus. We had already planned to spend the night in Austin, because we were going to be meeting Jeff's parents there today for an early birthday party for Ruth at Main Event, so we had our RTW bags with us, and were therefore able to get out of our dirty park clothes and into something more appropriate for the evening's proposed entertainment. It's so good to be prepared for anything that comes up!

Jeff and I were super excited about taking the kids to the symphony, but we weren't really sure how they would like it, since most of them have never been to an event quite like that before. This particular symphony incorporated not only the orchestra (which the boys are studying about at CC right now), but also an Aggie singing group (The Century Singers), who sang a lovely piece in Latin (which is another subject the kids are currently learning). The first song was the Star Wars theme song, which immediately got their attention and got them excited. Weston turned to me and whispered, "It sounds just exactly like in the movie!" The second half of the performance was the physics part, in which the author and physicist, Brian Greene, narrated a movie based on a children's book he wrote, while the orchestra played the accompanying score. It was amazing! The kids really seemed to love the whole experience and did not get fidgety or fussy at all (though they did find the very long Latin piece a teeny bit tedious). Jeff and I were proud of them and were so glad to get to expose them to this new experience!

It was a truly wonderful day, and we are so glad we decided to go! Perhaps when we return from our travels, we will have an opportunity to go again. We also hear A&M has a pretty neat Chemistry Festival, so perhaps we'll add that one to our bucket list, too. 

Aggies and Longhorns agree that team donuts are super cool!

A&M Physics and Engineering Festival

Shakes at Grub

The Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra

arcade games and rock climbing at Main Event

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Here a field trip, there a field trip

Yesterday, Ruth got to tour the capitol building and visit with Texas Supreme Court Justice, Jeff Boyd, with her Challenge B class. I was not able to attend the filed trip, but by all accounts, it was really a great day for the kids, who are preparing for their Mock Trial competition at the end of the semester and are learning so much about official court proceedings.

Today, the boys and I joined a number of other CC families at the new Science Mill in Johnson City, for a wonderful day of hands-on learning. We had an official tour, delved into several different scientific disciplines in the lab, and then spent a significant amount of time just exploring and learning and having a ball. I loved the way the exhibits were set up to be enjoyed by younger kids, "just for fun," as well as older kids, at a deeper level, and I appreciated the overall focus of higher education and career paths displayed by the staff. What an asset to the Hill Country, and what a fantastic way to encourage children to pursue scientific endeavors!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Yodeling is good for the soul

The boys and I are doing a series in History class about each country we plan to visit on our big trip, in the order we plan to visit them. We are learning about the history, geography, economics, culture, language, and cuisine. At the end of class, the boys are making a card with the name of the country, the capital city, the continent, and the flag. We are using a variety of Internet resources (like Global Trek by Scholastic, Where in the World? by Fun Kids, National Geographic Kids, and some other random sites with country-specific information), as well as excerpts from the book Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands. We are having a blast and are getting even more excited about our trip.

Today, our focus was Austria, which was super-fun. We got to practice some German words, learn about and listen to Mozart, participate in a yodeling course, watch an excerpt from The Sound of Music, and make apple strudel. All of it was great, but my favorite part was the yodeling. We would listen, and then practice, and then laugh and laugh and laugh. And, suddenly, it hit me: yodeling is good for the soul.

Some days, I feel like nothing more than a task master. "Do this." "Don't do that." All. Day. Long. I love that I get to do school with my kids, but it's certainly not always sunshine and roses. I want it to be fun, but sometimes, it's just not. But, then, every once in a while, we get to insert something like yodeling lessons, and it's just like breathing new life into our little school. I'm thinking we are going to have a new school policy that when things are getting tense or frustrating, or when we're just feeling burned out or task master-y, we're going to open up the yodeling lessons, and reset our day.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Watta JJ

Clay has a special friend that none of the rest of us can see, but that we hear about constantly. Her name is Watta JJ, and she lives in an orange barn that is made entirely out of chocolate, just down the way. She is three and has a teeny tiny (Clay's arms stretched only as wide as his chest), seven-year-old brother, named Spoon Hedgehog. It is truly amazing all the things Clay and Watta JJ do together and all of the things that are allowed at her house that are not allowed at ours. In her backyard, there is a pile of snakes that you can pet, if the spiders don't eat them first. Clay likes to play at her house when her parents aren't home, so the two of them can steal candy. She has taught him so many truly useful things--like songs and letters and numbers. But, she also encourages him to watch movies that his older siblings are allowed to watch, that he is not yet old enough to see. She hasn't been to our house yet, but Clay is pretty sure she is on her way, as we speak. But, even if she never makes it, it will be okay, because Clay can talk to her on his "little phone." Watta JJ is truly a good friend, and it's so fun to watch Clay's eyes light up when he talks about her. And, he does talk about her. Non-stop. It reminds me of Ruth's "sister" Callie, from so many years ago.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Years ago, maybe when Ruth was around 6, we were visiting my parents, who decided to take us to see a little show for kids. It turned out to be Lucas Miller, the Singing Zoologist. We instantly fell in love with every silly, but educational, song he sang and bought a CD at the end of the show. To say we played it millions of times doesn't seem to be an exaggeration. We literally played it until it broke. So, a couple of years ago, we were thrilled to hear that Lucas Miller was coming to our very own library. We went to the show, bought the same CD again, and continued to enjoy his music until we, once again, wore the CD out. Today, he was back in Marble Falls, and, though Ruth and Weston were tied up, the little boys and I were able to make the show. Before he started singing, Mr. Miller chatted with the eager audience and asked if anyone had seen a show before and if anyone had any requests. My boys were on the front row, and their hands shot straight up. Max put in his request, which seemed to surprise the entertainer, so he asked where Max had heard that song. I then explained that we were sort of groupies and that we had listened to the CDs more times than we could count--even to the point of breakage. He and I bantered back and forth for a while, joking about super-fans and giving the audience a sales plug, and after a while, he said, with a *wink, wink,* that he was going to have my $20 at his table after the show. Everyone laughed at this, and then he continued setting up his props. After a short while, he came over and offered me a new CD, which we didn't already have. The boys (and I) were so excited! His songs are so entertaining and very smart. If you have kids or if you just like nature, science or cleverness in action, check out his You Tube channel.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Around the World in a Carry-On Bag: Everything Else

We have finally made it to the end of the packing series! And, we're wrapping up with all those things that don't fit neatly into another category. If you've stuck around for the whole thing, pat yourself on the back. I truly appreciate you following our journey. If you're just seeing this for the first time and want to earn a pat on the back for yourself, go back and check out the other eight posts in the series here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, or just scroll down until you see them all. When you put them all together, you get the image at the bottom of this post: A girl ready to go anywhere in the world, for any length of time, in any season. 

Left to Right:

Sunglasses--Very necessary piece of equipment, whether traveling around the world or five miles down the road. These are similar to my sunglasses but not them exactly. I couldn't find a link, but I bought mine at the ski shop at the base of the mountain in Red River last Spring Break, if you want to pick up a pair.

Scotch Brite Lint Lifters--I really didn't want to bring along a lint roller, but I really dislike linty clothes. So, I was thrilled when I came across these little lint lifters in Walmart one day. They take up virtually no space in the bag and there are 30 in the package, so they ought to last a while, since I only have a couple of items that are prone to attracting lint.

Vapur Element Water Bottle--This is truly a go-anywhere type of water bottle. It's simple to fill and easy to fold up when not in use. The clip allows it to be attached to bags or belt loops or hooked over a finger, for easy transport. It can be washed in a dishwasher or by hand, and, as far as I can tell, it doesn't leak at all, when the lid is closed all the way. Mine has also been dropped several times and seems to be very durable. (Plus, it's cute!)

Cocoon Silk Travel Sheet--We wanted to make sure we were prepared for any almost any sleeping situation that might come up on this trip. This is basically a silk sleeping bag, which can be used on its own or in conjunction with other bedding. The silk helps to keep the body cool when the temperature is warm and warm when the temperature is cool. And, when it's folded up, it fits inside one of my shoes, with plenty of room to spare.

Turkish Towel--This is a multi-tasker. It can be used as a bath towel, beach towel, shawl, swimsuit coverup, light blanket, head covering, scarf, etc. Plus, it dries quickly and looks cuter than a pack towel.

Samsung Earbuds--So the world can't hear me (and whatever I'm listening to), and I can't hear it. I like these because they go inside my ears comfortably and have their own volume control.

FitBit Charge--I probably should have included this on the post about electronics. But, I didn't. This is such a fun and motivating device. I love that I can see the time and date, how many steps I've taken, how far I've traveled, how many flights of stairs I've taken, and how many calories I've burned during the day, with just a glance at my wrist. I can also log in to my online account and see all kinds of other interesting stats and charts (like how much sleep I got last night), track my food and water intake, set new goals and be encouraged in my fitness pursuits by "winning" little badges. When my parents gave this to me for Christmas, my mom said she thought it would be fun to make a note of how many steps I took in each country. I can't wait to do just that!

Mini Flashlight--Practical in so many ways. And entertaining to a small child, if I become desperate.

Rick Steves Clothesline--While minimalistic packing means that we have less laundry to do, it doesn't mean we have no laundry. This rubber line is easy to tie to furniture or hang from hooks, and it is quite stretchy, so it can cover more distance, if need be. Clothes can be laid over it or poked through the braiding, eliminating the need for clothespins.

Fisher Stowaway Space Pen--This pen is tiny but can write almost anywhere on almost anything. It can write upside down, under water, in extreme heat and cold. And, the ink supposedly doesn't dry out for over 100 years, so maybe my great-grandkids can take it with them on a similar RTW adventure.

Lewis and Clark Money Belt--I'm not terribly excited about this piece of equipment, but it seems like it might be a good idea in certain situations. It has plenty of space for money, a passport and other important things, which I may need to keep on my person and out of sight.

Five Dice--Every member of the family carries a game (or several, depending on their penchant for game playing). This is mine. Five dice take up very little space in a bag, but are useful for many games.

Travel Tissues (not pictured)--I carry these in my purse, even when I'm not traveling, but they seem especially useful for international travel.

Orbit Gum (not pictured)--Gum is always a good travel companion, especially when you're flying and need a way to pop your ears as the pressure changes.

Have bag, will travel.

Around the World in a Carry-On Bag: Toiletries

I'm finally back with the second-to-last post in my packing series, and I'm featuring toiletries. There was a time when I carried my large toiletry bag separate from my suitcase and lugged around a million things that I might need, trying to cover every possible "just-in-case" scenario, and trying to keep my at-home beauty routines in place while traveling. Since we decided on a "one-carry-on-apeice" policy for this trip, I have been working hard to pare down just to necessities (though I admit to still having a few just-in-case items on hand), and I've been experimenting with beauty products and tools that were previously not even on my radar. I've also been practicing with more natural looks that require less effort and materials to pull off.  Many of the experiments have been inspired by the TSA rules about liquids, which limit the size of the bottles/tubes to under 3.4 oz. and the overall quantity of liquids/gels/creams to one quart-sized bag. I frequently have to remind myself that the toiletries I leave home with are not required to last the duration of the trip and that I can supplement, as needed, along the way. The pictures in my little collage are not in any kind of order, but in the list below, the products are categorized in a way that made sense to me. You can see the other contents of my bag by scrolling down through the blog, or by clicking here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Neutragena Sunscreen Stick
Olay Beauty Bar

J. R. Liggett Shampoo Bar
Foldable Hairbrush/Mirror
Conair Comb
Goody Hair Elastics
Schick Quattro Razor and Replacement Razor Blades

Eco-Dent Powdered Toothpaste
Colgate Folding Travel Toothbrush
2 extra front teeth "flippers" (in addition to the one I'll be wearing)

Garnier BB Cream
Wet-n-Wild Ultimate Brow Kit
L.A. Colors Lash Building Mascara
NYC Expert Last Lip Color

Revlon Slant Tweezers
Tweezerman Point Tweezers
Remington Personal Trimmer
Emery Board
Baby Safety Scissors
Small Sewing Kit
Travel Pack Q-tips
Aquasentials Exfoliating Soap Saver Pouch

Girl Stuff
Sckoon Menstrual Cup

All Terrain Herbal Insect Repellent
Hand Sanitizer
Secret Solid Deodorant

doTerra Essential Oils and Products
Deep Blue Rub (sample packets)
Past Tense
Clear Skin
On Guard
Terra Shield
DigestZen and DigestZen Softgels
Breathe Respiratory Drops
Aroma 2 Go USB Diffuser

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Family, Food and Fun: A Road Trip

Eventually, I will finish my packing series, but it's not going to be today. This week was crazy and left me little time to even think about blogging, much less to actually do it, and we had a road trip I want to report on. I know you're on the edge of your seat, waiting to see what else is in my bag, but you'll just have to wait. :)

Mimi invited the kids who were eligible and interested to participate in a mud run this weekend in Houston, so Weston and Max took her up on it, and the rest of us came along just for fun. Besides the mud run, we also ate some great food at some really neat places, played in the (outdoor and unheated) hotel pool (because, you know, it was the first sunny day in weeks, and the kids simply couldn't resist, even though the sun was no longer shining and the temperature had gone down with the sun), acted silly, and celebrated the most epic Pi Day of the century (literally).

No road trip to Houston is complete without a stop at Buc-ee's,
and our little statue lover cannot ever pass up a photo op with Buc-ee himself.

Dinner at Mia Bella in Vintage Park

Swimming at The Element--and warming up at the fire pit shortly thereafter

Racing with Mimi:
Up top, L to R: taking off, entering the obstacle course, race fans
Bottom: Before, After, Way After

Mud + Running = One Happy Boy

Weston's highlight reel

We enjoyed the gorgeous day with lunch at The Shack.

One of the most important things we needed to do today
was to celebrate this very special Pi Day.
After other plans were thwarted,
we very fortunately found ourselves at Bever's Kitchen in Chappell Hill.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Around the World in a Carry-On Bag: Electronics

Today, as I continue my packing series, I'm featuring electronics.This isn't a terribly exciting thing to write about, but this techy gear is certainly necessary for the kind of trip we're taking. Again, I'm only showcasing what I'm carrying in my bag, but each person's bag has its equivalents. The kids each have a device (iPad, Kindle or phone), which contains all of their school books, pleasure reading and video games. The older kids also all have a camera. If you're just getting in on the series, you can see the other contents of my bag here, here, here, here, here and here

MacBook Air + charger--I have been using the Air for many years now, and I just love how compact, lightweight and functional it is. This little device is such a part of my daily life, I couldn't think of leaving home without it.

Canon Powershot SX280 HS Camera + charger--I love my Canon Powershot, because it is compact enough to put in my pocket, but it takes some of the best pictures of any camera I've ever owned. And, with a 20x optical zoom, I don't have to worry too much about missing an awesome shot just because the subject is a long ways off.

OnePlus One Phone + charger--I have only had this phone a few months, but, so far, I am enjoying it very much. I will not be using it much as a phone when we're traveling, but it will function as my reader, my journal, my alarm clock, my entertainment and so much more.

Road Warrior Ultra Thin Universal Power Strip--A universal power adapter with three outlets seems like a pretty useful travel companion to me.

Anker 5 port USB Charger--With all our devices, we needed a compact way to be able to charge lots of things at once. This is the perfect solution.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Around the World in a Carry-On Bag: Outerwear

And, the packing series continues...

As you no doubt know by now, warmth does not come naturally to me, but it is of the utmost importance to me. To that end, I wanted to make darn sure I had plenty of things in my bag for combatting cold. I can wear these things individually or put them all on at the same time, if it's seriously cold. If you are just getting in on this series, check out the other items in my bag here, here, here, here, and here.

Ibex Shak Merino Jacket--I wear this jacket pretty much every day. It's lightweight, but quite warm, and layers very well. It has cell phone-sized inside pockets and zippered outer pockets. It also has thumb holes, for more hand warmth when worn alone and for keeping the sleeves in place when layering.

Patagonia Nano Puff--This is a traveller's dream. It folds up into its own pocket but doesn't skimp where it counts. It also has plenty of zippered pockets and a nice fitted hood that does a decent job of keeping the wind out.

North Face Resolve Rain Jacket--Sometimes you just need a rain jacket or a windbreaker. And, sometimes you need one more layer on top of all your other layers. This works in both situations.

Seirus Windstopper Gloves--I had a different pair of gloves, at first, but our trip to Niagra Falls in December convinced me I needed some that offered a bit more protection. These are nice, because they have a cozy lining and are water and wind resistant. I also like the zipper at the wrist, which makes them easy to put on and take off.

Outdoor Research Ninjaclava--This was a thoughtful gift from my sweet husband before our ski trip last year. I love it and use it all the time. The picture next to it shows all of it's versatility, but I'm kind of partial to the bank robber look.

Buff--This is even more versatile than the Ninjaclava and is just one more layer between me and the chill.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Remember The Alamo! Viva la comida Mexicana!

After Weston's contest in New Braunfels yesterday, we headed over to San Antonio for the night--for Mexican food and a history lesson. We had dinner at Guajillo's, a restaurant serving delicious interior Mexican food, which became a favorite for the kids and I when we were there for SAT-10 testing last year. Jeff didn't make it that time, so he has been hearing us talk about it for almost a year and just couldn't take it any more. I don't think we oversold it, as he seemed to enjoy every bite he put in his mouth.

This morning, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at our hotel and then made our way to The Alamo, for the culmination of our recent Texas history lessons. Though the weather threatened to fall apart on us, it actually held out, and we were able to take the full, fascinating tour of the old mission. Afterward, we went over to the River Center mall to see the IMAX Alamo movie, which Clay thought was "not very kind, because they were shooting the guys," but which everyone else seemed to enjoy. I've seen it multiple times, but it never fails to give me chills. When the movie was over, we dined at Maria Mia, on the river, which was a new place for us, and which we thought was wonderful.

The weather wasn't terribly spring-like, but the flora wasn't fooled.

Alamo papaya tree

The boys, reading about some of the heroes of The Alamo.

manning the cannon

big, bad cannon

Team Texian

los padres

counted among the heroes

more cannon fun

coon skin caps

the boy who loves statues
(though he was hesitant to pose with a Mexican soldier)

giant lemons overhanging the river

One of the highlights of the day was seeing this mama and her babies.
(Clay would not rest easy, though, until we found the daddy further down the river.)

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Winner, Winner

I'm taking a break from my packing series, in order to brag on my boy, Weston, who competed in his district PSIA meet today. He had three contests to compete in: Storytelling, Spelling and Math. He did not place in Spelling or Math, but he worked so hard and improved so much this year in both subjects that he certainly has nothing to be ashamed of. In Storytelling, Weston brought home the blue ribbon and advanced to State! The Storytelling contest is a two-step contest, with Prelims and Finals, and then, only the first place winner in the Finals advances to state, so it's all the more special. Weston has been dreaming of going to State and has been working toward that goal for the last couple of years, so we are all beyond thrilled for him and oh so proud!

Friday, March 06, 2015

Around the World in a Carry-On Bag: Underwear

Ok, I get that no one really wants to know about my underwear, but in order to give a true picture of what I'm carrying in my bag, I feel that the underwear needs to be included. I do not, however, feel the need to splash pictures of women's under garments all over my blog, so this time only, you'll either have to use your imagination or click on the links to see the items for yourself. There's nothing fancy here. Just comfortable, functional pieces. If you're coming in mid-series and are wondering why on earth I'm talking about unmentionables, please check out my previous RTW packing posts here, here, here, and here.

Exofficio Give and Go Panty (2 black, 4 nude)
Victoria Secret Lacie Panty (2 black)
Bali Comfort Revolution Wire-Free Bra (1 black, 1 nude)
Bali Comfort Revolution Convertible Wire-Free Bra (1 nude)
Anemone Strapless Bandeau (1 black)

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Around the World in a Carry-On Bag: Bottoms

Today we continue our journey through my carry-on bag, with a look at bottoms. We have already seen the containers, the footwear, and the tops. The bottoms were, to me, some of the easiest things to decide on, and there have not been many changes to these pieces since we started experimenting with this whole concept. That is a huge blessing, because so many of the other contents of the bag took a great deal of deliberating.

From left to right:

Eddie Bauer Horizon Roll-Up Pants--I LOVE these pants! They are comfortable, functional, and, in my opinion, quite stylish. They roll up to a capri length, have tons of pockets (many of which are zippered), dry very quickly, and can be worn in dressier situations as well as just casually. They are pants I would wear even if I wasn't traveling.

REI Sahara Roll-Up Pants--These admittedly scream "foreign tourist," but I included them anyway, because they are just super practical. They roll up to two different lengths for warmer weather but are a little heavier weight than the Eddie Bauer pants and, when layered over the tights, will make great ski pants.

Rohan Travel Jeans--I really wanted a pair of regular jeans, but we all know denim takes forever and a day to dry and is heavy and bulky to pack, making it far from an ideal choice for minimalistic packing. This seems like something the travel clothes industry would have thought of and found a solution for, but they, for the most part, seem content to continuing producing the same old touristy looking travel pants, and, apparently, the consumers are not rioting about this and are just as content to continue wearing the touristy looking stuff. (See the previous item, if you need confirmation on that!) Imagine my delight, then, when I discovered UK based Rohan and their technical jeans. They look like regular jeans, but they are lightweight and quick-drying, and even have a hidden pocket (which you already know I'm a sucker for).

MHOC Fleece Lined Tights--These are super-comfy and can be worn alone, with a long top, or layered under pants and skirts for warmth. They are also great for sleeping in on chilly nights.

Minus 33 Merino Tights--Yes, I know, two pairs of tights seems excessive, but you'll remember that one of my goals is to stay warm (think Russian train in Feb.), so two pair seemed about right. These are much thicker than the other pair and more utilitarian.

Lole Movement Shorts--These shorts are probably one of the most comfortable articles of clothing I own, period.

Lole Sprint Skort--After falling in love with the shorts, I decided to add the skort, as well. This will double as the bottom half of my swimsuit while we're traveling.

Exofficio Go-To Convertible Maxi Skirt--Minimalistic packing has made me appreciate convertible and multi-functional clothing in a new way. The last two pictures show the same article of clothing in its two different forms. It's another thing I would wear even if I weren't traveling. It's very comfortable and can be dressed up or down.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Around the World in a Carry-On Bag: Tops

This is the third post in this series. Check out the previous two posts here and here

Let me start by stating that I probably have twice as many tops in my bag as a true minimalistic packer would normally have. I have gone back and forth with myself about this, but I know myself, and so I finally decided I was willing to take up a bit more space and add a little more weight for two important reasons: 1. I DO NOT want to be cold, so I'm trying to give myself the best chance possible of staying warm, and 2. I have a tendency to become bored with wardrobe choices, even with a closetful of clothes, so I wanted as many options as possible. I realize this second reason just makes me sound like a spoiled brat, but I'm just being honest here. All the tops are made of quick-drying material and can be layered with the other pieces, as necessary. 

From left to right:

Black Cami--This is perfect for sleeping in, layering and even wearing alone if temps climb very high.

Lucy Heart Center Yoga Cami--This one does double-duty as a regular top and a swim top.

Exofficio Short Sleeve Tee--I think this one is comfy and cute.

Banana Republic Tee--I've had this tee in my closet for years. It's one of those old standbys that just feels good on and is very versatile.

Icebreaker Short Sleeve Sundew Scoop--Another comfy t-shirt, with a splash of fun on the side.

Exoffico Shirtigan--I love this top, and it's probably one of the most versatile pieces I'm taking. It can be worn with the sleeves long or rolled up to 3/4 length, and it can act as a shirt or a light jacket. Plus, it has a hidden pocket, which is just kind of fun.

Icebreaker Siren Long Sleeve Top--This is one of my cold combatants, which can be worn alone or easily layered under something else.

Eddie Bauer Reversible Sweatshirt--This is a recent addition. I just couldn't resist the warmth and reversibility. Two shirts in one? Heck yeah!

Icebreaker Long Sleeve Ariana Sweater--I love how cozy and lightweight this sweater is and that it can be worn with either the scoop neck or v-neck in the front.

Danskin Now Long Sleeve Tee--Another recent addition, perfect for layering.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Around the World in a Carry-On Bag: Footwear

Welcome back to my series on packing for an around-the-world trip in a carry-on bag. Check out all the packing vessels here. Today's topic is footwear. This, for me, has been one of the biggest struggles of minimalistic packing--partly because I really do love shoes and didn't want to limit myself, and partly because, if you're only going to have three pairs of shoes, they darn sure better be the perfect balance of comfort, style and utility. It has taken a significant amount of tweaking (and more Amazon and Zappos returns than I care to mention), but I finally feel like I have gotten it "right."

Okabashi Flip-Flops--These are comfortable and about as functional as they come. I tried several other brands, but ultimately, I couldn't find anything I liked better than these, which I already owned and which weren't expensive.

Merrell Dassie Mary Janes--My search for travel flats was long and hard. I wanted something I could wear with pants or a skirt and that I could walk all day in. I am so thankful I found these!

Helly Hanson Kenosha Waterproof Trail Running Shoes--I actually settled early on on a different pair of trail running shoes, but they tended to hurt my feet the longer I wore them and they were just a bit too big and heavy to pack comfortably in my pack--meaning that, by default, they had to be the shoes I wore on travel day, whether I wanted to or not. These Helly's are about three ounces lighter per shoe, a little less bulky, and actually seem to become more comfortable the longer they are on my feet.

Smartwool Secret Sleuth Liner Socks--I can wear these liners with the Mary Janes to help keep my tootsies warmer in colder climes.

Smartwool PhD Run Ultra Lite Mini Crew Socks--There isn't too much you can say about socks, I guess. These are ankle length and lightweight, and they (like all the socks) are made of Merino wool, which is quick drying, moisture wicking and odor resistant.

Smartwool PhD Ultra Lite Mirco Socks--This is the no-show version of the previous sock.

Smartwool Jovian Stripe Crew Socks--These are thicker and taller, with a splash of stripy personality.

Icebreaker Lifestyle Lite Crew Socks--This is my experiment with a different brand of Merino. They are similar in length and weight to the other pair of crew socks but in a more sensible black.

Smartwool Plated Puff Lifestyle Socks--Another lightweight pair of no-show socks.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Around the World in a Carry-On Bag: Containers

On Thursday, we will hit the 2-month mark in the countdown to Go Day for our grand RTW adventure. There is giddy excitement in the air and a million and two things that need to be done. I thought it would be fun to mark the occasion with a series of blog posts, answering one of the questions we get a lot: How are you going to travel around the world, entering into all kinds of climates and situations, with nothing but a carry-on apiece? Figuring out this puzzle has been one of the very fun (and slightly frustrating, at times) parts of planning this trip. We may find that we need things we don't have or that we have things we don't need, but all in all, we feel we've done a pretty good job of answering this question. I'm highlighting just my bag, but everyone's bag has similar contents, personalized for the individual. This post deals only with containers, but stay tuned to see the rest of the contents on my RTW bag.

Moving from left to right:

1. Tortuga Backpack--This is the main pack, into which everything else fits. It can be carried like a suitcase or worn as a backpack. It's a 44L bag, with plenty of pockets, including a laptop sleeve. I really love it!

2. Camera Bag/Wallet--I found this little gem at Walmart. The inside pouch is large enough for my camera, while the outside pocket houses an extra battery. There are multiple credit card/id slots inside, as well as a little pocket for cash and a small pen. I removed the wrist strap and replaced it with a shoulder strap to make it more convenient to carry.

3. American Tourister Toiletry Bag--I also found this at Walmart. There is lots of space for all my toiletries, and it hangs, which is perfect for those times when bathroom counter space is limited.

4. New Outlander Daypack--Anything I want to keep close at hand can easily fit in here, or it can be folded up into a very small pouch and left in the main bag, if I don't need to press it into service.

5. Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes--Adding these to my bag is what made me feel like I could really do this, because they help me keep all my things separate and organized. I have two larges ones and two small ones. One large one contains all my tops and the other all my bottoms, while the small ones house socks and underwear. I keep mine compressed down, but they can be unzipped to make more space, if necessary.

6. Eagle Creek Compression Sacs--These are amazing! I have two medium-sized sacs in my bag--one for my bulky winter gear and one for dirty clothes. They make all the difference on fitting everything in the bag.

7. Eagle Creek small Pack-It Quarter Cube Bag--This little bag houses all my chargers for my various electronics.

8. Quart-Sized Ziplocs--I have two of these in my toiletry bag--one for my liquids (which is a requirement for flying) and one for bars of soap.

9. The last picture is my bag, all packed up. The only thing visible is the containers (and the shoes, if you were to look closely). Having everything in it's place and easily accessible helps keep me sane.