Apt. 11D Gift Guides 2019: Camping and Travel

We love camping. We have a large shelving unit in the basement filled with equipment, so we can take off for a weekend trip on a moment’s notice.

Here’s a blog post of one of our trips this summer and another post with products that we use and love.

REI is having a big sale right now. I like their men’s base layer crew top, sleeping pads, women’s jacket, and pullover.

At Amazon, check out the headlamp, tent, sleeping bag, lantern flashlight, stove, and a rooftop car carrier for all the crap.

This year, we traveled to North Carolina, England, Scotland, Toronto, and Chicago. Next year, we’ll do more, because travel is something that binds my family together.

Our current suitcases are ten-year old Samsonites, which I purchased at Kohl’s using Kohl Bucks. I’ll probably upgrade next year. I do love Tumi, but they might be a notch too high of a price point for me. Maybe we’ll do a TravelPro.

As I’ve said before, I love packing for travel. This year, I used a universal adaptor, a travel pillow, travel backpack, packing cubes. I’m looking around for the best travel jewelry case, but haven’t decided which one I love the most.

Apt. 11D Gift Guide 2019 — Cyber Monday For Me

This is just quickie post of the deals that I’m checking out right now. Mostly it’s clothing that I want for the holiday season.

Because I work from home, my uniform are jeans, blouses, and boots. I have daytime versions and nighttime versions. I am not a yoga pants around the house girl. I feel pretty strongly that just because I work from home, I still have to put on contacts, make-up, and a decent outfit. After all, I’m out and about town seeing people during the day, too. I’m not living in cave.

I rely a lot on J. Crew, the Gap, Ann Taylor and Banana Republic for the girly blouses. They’re all having 50% off sales right now. At J.Crew, I like this one, this one, and this one.

Steve and I have been binge-watching Schitt’s Creek for the past month. One of the characters, Alexis Rose, is a modern Boheme who wears a lot of flowery dresses and floppy hats. So, maybe that’s why I really love this flowery dress at the Banana.

For the rare work event, I have a handful of dependable, comfortable, packable outfits. I just picked up these pants and blouse. These shoes needed a little breaking in, but now they’re conference-ready.

I’ve gotten way pickier about sweaters in recent years. This is one way that women over 40 can make mistakes. I hate itchy woolen cowl necks and bulky cable knits. I like items that can be easily stripped off, makes me look skinny, and/or are super soft. I have one J. Crew cashmere sweater that I wear nearly every day. I think I need another. They are 50 percent off at Garnet Hill today.

Girlie Friday

Who needs a girlie Friday? I do! I do! What am I digging lately?

Drinks in hotel lobbies. We had fabulous cocktails at the Fairmont Hotel in Toronto. I love that you can surround yourself by luxury for the price of a glass of wine and not even stay for the night.

Farro. It’s the alternative carb of choice here at Apt. 11D. It’s easy to make, but it does require a deft touch. My method of cooking: 2 cups of water, 1 cube of chicken bouillon, 1 cup of farro. Bring to a boil. Then cover and keep on simmer for about twenty minutes. Then turn off the heat and just let it hang out in the remaining liquid for a while, when finishing off the rest of dinner. Drain, if necessary.

Newsletters. Newsletters are the new podcasts. I subscribe to a bunch that range from ones that focus on education to conservative and liberal politics, to home decor. I have to work on mine after I finish this blog post. Please subscribe to Apt. 11D, the newsletter.

Black jeans. They can go from the school pickup line to the home office to an airplane to a conference. With a nice pair of healed booties and an oversized blouse, they are the most versatile item in a closet right now.

The Crown. OMG, this show is so good. Yes, Olivia Coleman is adorable. If you watched Outlander, you know how Tobias Menzies rocks the long monologue thing. But Helena Bonham Carter, as the eye rolling, chain smoking Prince Margaret, steals every scene. And the cinematography is so awesome that you want to pause the show and take pictures of certain frames. With Prince Andrew in the news, you can’t help seeing how so many tensions with the English royalty in a democracy still are present today.

Dr. Fiona Hill.

That’s it for now. I have to pump out a newsletter and clean the house for the housecleaner. If I get everything on my to-do list polished off, I’ll be back later in the afternoon.

Girlie Friday

I’m chugging through a long list of work and personal chores today. All good stuff, but super busy. So, let me just throw up some links to things that have caught my eye lately.

I bopped into IKEA to pick up some pre-holiday entertaining supplies. We spent some time checking out their new SONOS speakers. Ian might get one for Christmas.

We no longer watch television one show per week. We watch them in massive chunks at one time, thanks to the magic of streaming video. In the past couple of months, we’ve watched several seasons of Working Moms and Derry Girls. We finished the Deuce. Now, we’re somewhere in the third season of Schitt’s Creek. All four shows are way better than any crappy sitcom from the past.

If you’re a fan of UK TV, Derry Girls are going to do an episode of the Great British Bake Off.

I’ve got a conference in Chicago next week. Here’s one outfit — blouse, jacket, shoes, pants.

I got this book, as part of a lot that I won in an auction for $1. I almost put it in the garbage, because it’s in rough shape, but then I checked out the title page. It’s a Hebrew bible that was printed in Berlin in 1908. I would love to find out how it ended up in a doctor’s condo in Hackensack, NJ.

The Burden of Beautiful

Last Saturday, I couldn’t take it anymore. My manicure was three weeks old. My nails were cracked, and the old nail polish was chipped down to a small semi circles on each nail. On a super busy weekend, I ran to the nail place for a mani-pedi.

Getting a regular manicure is a new thing for me. I never had the time or the money for lots of self-maintenance in the past. And I kinda hate it. Sitting under the nail blower for fifteen minutes waiting for the polish to dry is torture. I’m way too ADD to just chill out and enjoy the whole process. Half the time, I bolt out of the place with tacky nails that inevitably gets dinged, when I get to the car and fish around for a seatbelt.

But now I’m hooked. I’ve gotten used to having nicely filed nails. When I let them go, I feel positively itchy. Likewise with other maintenance chores that have now become part of my routine. I have to get my eyebrows threaded and shaped every two weeks. Every two months, Lauren the hairdresser spends 2-1/2 hours making my red hair a uniform color and then cutting and blow drying straight. At the moment, my natural color is auburn on the side and back, white at the temples, and blond on top; red hair ages oddly.

I have never spent so much time or money on my personal appearance before. And I’m uncomfortable with the whole business. Every hour in the salon is time that I could be doing something more productive.

And I do a whole lot less on my appearance than other professional women. Whenever a group of young women journalists and other professional commentators appears on CNN talking super important stuff about impeachment or corruption in the government, I’m forever distracted by checking out the perfection of their hair and makeup.

They must spend hours in a chair getting beautiful before sitting in front of the camera. There’s not a hair out of place. No natural curls there. They have glued on fake eyelashes and an inch of make up. And before that, there were probably tons of visits to dermatologists and spas to keep that chin from sagging and to close up that dent between the eyebrows.

Looking beautiful means less time reading, researching, reading, interviewing, and just getting smarter. It gives the dudes who just need a haircut and a suit such a huge edge. And I feel like the standards keep getting higher and higher.

Looking pretty is fine. Like I said, I like that my nails are trimmed and my hair is tamed, but there’s a point when it interferes with work. And life! I would like a bit of a return of old school 70s feminism that understood that trade-off.

Travel: Shopping in Scotland and England

I didn’t buy too much when I was in the UK. All the stuff in the London shops, I could get in New York City, a mall, or online for the same price. Also, I didn’t feel like lugging around too much. I couldn’t resist some small knit items in Scotland and small items from stores that we don’t have here.

In Edinburgh, I bought some cutie-pie change purses and earrings at Simon Bonas for my nieces.

Earrings with some bling and jingle. The white ones are for me. The others are gifts for the nieces.
Nice change purse to throw into a beach bag. Big enough for dollars and a license.

In Scotland, there are a ton of tourist shops with the full kilt silliness. That traditional man-purse is called a sporran, or as Ian called it, “a dick hider.” The nicest stuff in those shop was Harris Tweed and Aran sweaters, but a little bit goes a long way. The Aran sweaters scream Sister Mary’s Convent Gift Shop; beautiful stuff, but too chunky for me. I did get a pair of lovely driving mittens. The Harris Tweed is fabulous on a wallet.

Very silly.

But a little of bit plaid and tweed is lovely. I picked up some lovely scarves and wallets for Christmas gifts.

On the drive to Inverness, we stopped at the House of Bruar, a high-end store for Scottish Country Clothing. It was kind of awesome. Steve got my birthday present there.

We’re huge suckers for outdoorsy clothes and camping gear. We’re heading out to the woods next weekend, so we’ll give the tents and propane stove a workout.

Travel: Packing for Scotland, the Highland (Part 2) An Essential Purse

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True story. I am addicted to crossbody purses. I think I own ten. Probably more. I like them because I only need something that can fit my wallet, my cell phone, and a tube of lipstick. Anything bigger just cramps my style.

Crossbody purses are essential when traveling and you only need a change purse of pounds, the cell phone, and the key to the Air BnB. When you’re not using them, they fit nicely into a suitcase.

Pad & Quill‘s Heritage Bag is especially cute, because it has a nice shape and smells like new leather. It even has room for an iPad, so you can read Outlander in the corner of a cafe in Edinburgh for an hour or two. Hell, you can even imagine Claire using something like this.

When Pad & Quill asked to partner with me on this product, I immediately said yes, because of its vintage-modern vibe. My nieces offered to model it and now want one, too.