Monday, April 30, 2012

Travel with a Baby Like a Pro

Today's guest post comes from a college classmate of mine, Aliya. She is a traveling pro, and her gorgeous baby boy Kyran is on the fast track to becoming a pro himself! She's currently anticipating the arrival of her sure-to-be-beautiful baby girl and today, she's sharing tips for traveling with kiddos.

Hello, Newly Domesticated readers! I'm Aliya and I blog over at Double The Fun where you can read all about my daily mishaps, trials and tribulations of both raising a baby and baking a baby at the same time. I was flattered when Amber asked me to write up a guest post about traveling with a baby since I am the first to admit I am no expert anything... however, I do have a list of tips and tricks that work for us that I'm happy to share with all of you! 

Seeing as how my son isn't even one year old yet, I must say he is quite the avid traveler. In his short little life, we have been on two plane rides and several long car trips to exotic and interesting destinations like... Minneapolis. And Pittsburgh. Ok, I kid, but the boy has touched both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, so that's one thing off the Bucket List, right?

With that said, traveling with a baby isn't as daunting as it might seem. The two main things to remember are 1. Be Prepared (for 
anything) and 2. Be Flexible

1. Be Prepared
My family traveled a lot growing up and it would always drive me bananas when my mom had 3 carry-on bags and a purse and an extra bag with another set of clothes. I would always cram everything I could into one bag so I had as little to schlepp around the airport/terminals/plane as possible. Now, even with a kid, I'm the same way... I refuse to carry more than one bag (especially since you'll need as many arms free as possible). So I'd recommend having a diaper bag that you can push to the limits.

Overpacking isn't fun for anyone, but when you have a baby, it's a must. You think you only need 10 diapers for the plane ride? Pack 15. Bring a whole carton of wipes. And a 2nd book and chew toy in case you accidently leave one in the airport terminal... like I did. And two extra outfits, 
just in case. 

That way, when you and your 3-month old are flying alone together and he decides to present you with a poo-splosion diaper, 10,000 feet above Cleveland... you don't want to lose your mind over it. $h!t happens. Pun intended. If you're prepared, there will be less freak-outs and less stress. 

Aliya uses this diaper bag by Marc by Marc Jacobs.

Also, pack smartly. My diaper bag has tons of outside pockets and I make sure to keep things in them that I will need at a second's notice or need often — like, my wallet/ID, the pacifier, hand sanitizer, etc. When you're juggling a baby and a huge diaper bag and the attendant is asking for your boarding pass which is at the bottom of your bag under 12 blankies and clothes and bottles, you're going to want to kick yourself. Make sure anything you'll 
need can be accessed with one hand and accessed quickly.

Depending on where you're going, you also want to make sure your destination has everything your family needs. If you're flying somewhere, you might not be able to bring a pack-and-play or large stroller with you... call ahead and see if the people you are staying with are able to borrow the items you might need from a friend. Or, if you're staying in a hotel, try and figure out how you can arrange to get any items you might need.

2. Be Flexible 
I am about as neurotic and OCD as you can get when it comes to sticking to a schedule and routine. That might not work for everyone, but it definitely works for us, and with another little babe on the way, it was imperative to me that my son have a daily routine that he and I both acknowledge and stick to. With that said, rules are meant to be broken... and when you're traveling, sticking to a routine is almost impossible. You can try (and believe me, I do), but you have to remember to be flexible.

Your child is also out of his element/comfort zone.. might not sleep as well or as long in a new place. Might be thrown off by the smells or people or noises. Maybe you're going on a long car trip and your kid (if he's like mine) sleeps the whole way there... then he's probably not going to be ready for his usual 3 p.m. nap two hours later. If we're driving somewhere, we try to plan the drive around his naps or leave at night so he sleeps as much as possible. Let your kid stay in their PJs in the car so that they're comfortable, and always keep snacks, music and toys to keep them busy if they start to get anxious. 

One important thing to remember is to try and be attuned to their needs and make them as comfortable as possible with their new and unfamiliar surroundings. We always bring his favorite toys, books and blankets... as well as a travel "Sleep Sheep" since he always sleeps with one at home. One blogger I follow travels a lot and always puts her kid's pack-and-play in the hotel bathroom since it's the quietest/coolest/darkest place. I think that's genius! Not ideal, but again... being flexible and figuring out what works for you is key. 

Lastly, what you pack for your trip really depends on the age of your child... the older they are, the more entertainment they'll need (books, toys, a DVD player, perhaps). Also, I cannot stress the importance of a non-stop flight. When it's just you, it's fine... but when traveling, you want to get to your destination as quickly as possible. TRUST ME when I say that your sanity will be worth the extra $100 round-trip. 

When we flew to California with our son, he was about 5 months old. He slept most of the way and we were able to entertain him for about an hour after he woke up... but those last 40 minutes of that 5.5 hour flight were the hardest. He didn't cry or fuss, but we could tell he was getting bored and antsy and there is only so long you can have a kid sit in your lap! We took turns being "those parents" who would walk him up and down the airplane aisles... take him to the back to look out the window... and distract him with cups and peanut bags. I always felt bad for those parents before I became one! However, as long as you're willing to be flexible and do what works, you'll be fine! 

Hope these tips help some of you who might be worried about traveling with a baby! Maybe after I have my little girl, I can come back and talk about traveling with two under two -- Ha! :) Thanks again, Amber for letting me hijack your blog space for the day!

Friday, April 27, 2012

5 Tips for Happy Traveling

Since I'm out of the country for the next week or so, I've asked some of my most well-traveled friends to share their best travel tips and stories. I've learned a lot reading these posts, so I hope you enjoy!

Today's post is from Laura, who has been lucky enough to visit some of the most exotic locales before hitting her mid-20s! Laura was most recently working at the newspaper where I met her, but is now finding her way in a new city where she has just bought a beautiful home. Today, she's sharing her best travel tips. — Amber
Since Amber is off gallivanting around (about?) Ireland, I thought I'd share with you all five "big trip" tips. I've had the pleasure of visiting Alaska, Canada, Ireland, England, Korea, the Bahamas and Uganda, and in June we're heading to Hawaii!

1. WRITE. I wrote something in my journal each night that I was in Uganda. If I was too tired to write out a long entry, I would jot down whatever came to mind — something I missed about home, an emotion, or a silly memory like this one:
Bill: "Your women are strong!" Ugandan man: "You want one?"
 I did most of my journaling under a mosquito net

2. PACK SNACKS. If you're out of your mind and need convincing, consider the following: Eating out while traveling can get expensive. Depending on where you're going, you might not like the food. Plane food can be downright nasty. See? Snacks are where it's AT. I packed a ton of food for Uganda, including Clif bars, Goldfish, nuts and peanut butter crackers. I recommend doling out serving sizes in Ziploc baggies - that way you can take some on the plane and have some in your checked bag.

3. THINK PRACTICAL, NOT FASHIONABLE. Obviously a blend of both is ideal, but if you have to pick one, pick practical. It doesn't matter what you wear — everyone is going to know you're a tourist anyway. I wouldn't go anywhere without my trusty ugly Gortex! 

Staying dry and making a friend in Ireland (no, I don't normally roll my jeans up to my calves... clearly I wasn't trying to be fashionable here!)

4. TAKE TIME TO RELAX. I'll always cherish the time my brother and I ordered room service and watched the NBA finals together on our cruise around Glacier Bay. We did a lot of incredible outdoorsy activities on that trip, but simply hanging out with my brother was just as memorable. In London, Andy and I split from my family to have a a spur-of-the-moment date (he had proposed a few days earlier). We strolled the city just the two of us, no itinerary in hand. Bliss!
Happily engaged in London! Notice the Tower Bridge in the background?

5. BE FLEXIBLE. My friend Katie once said, "Blessed are the flexible, for they will not break." That advice has stuck with me ever since, and I hope I'll never forget it. It's great traveling advice. No trip is going to be perfect from start to finish, but choosing to go with the flow (and having a good attitude about it) will make it easier to face any bumps along the way.

Thanks for reading! Amber, we miss your fabulousness and can't wait to read all about your trip. Sláinte!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Packing for Two Weeks

I'm not sure I've ever encountered a greater packing challenge than packing for my first trip to Europe, knowing it's for almost two weeks, knowing it involves city visits, country stops and beaches and knowing I won't be able to do laundry for the first week.

BUT I'm happy to say that with careful planning, I managed to squeeze several mix-and-match outfits in my little suitcase and duffle. These aren't the exact clothes I packed, but they're very close approximations.

I packed a bunch of neutrals that can be mixed and matched to create about 11 outfits. It's good to mix in some patterns to spice it up a little, but if they're neutral patterns, you still have a lot to work with. For shoes, I went with a couple pairs of flats, Sperrys and boots.
Pops of Color
But a girl can't survive on neutrals alone! I didn't pack all of these, but I did pack a bright tank to go under cardis, my red pants, a colorful scarf, jewelry and lipsticks to make it interesting. I also got this absolutely perfect trench/anorak hybrid on super sale from New York & Company:

It has a hidden hood that zips into the collar. That's a win right there.

The key to making all that fit is to roll each item up, and put some of the most essential basics in your carry-on so you aren't totally lost if your luggage never makes it. The boots I packed can fold down, and I put my other shoes in the front storage compartment on my suitcase. I like to look nice on vacay, partially because it's one of the only times in life you're ever really focused on taking lots of pictures, and also because I'm old school and I like dressing up for travel. Just once, I want to look like this when I get off the plane or train:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well, our bags are packed and we're ready to go! We're Ireland-bound, and we're so excited. But the blog won't be dead while I'm gone; I've lined up several guest posts from some of my most well-traveled friends, all writing about their favorite trips, things they've learned and very best travel tips. If you're curious, btw, our passport covers are from Gent Supply Company and the Gap outlet.

I can't promise I'll be able to post to it during the trip, but you can now follow me on Webstagram!

I thought I'd share a peek at my "Going on a Trip" to-do list, after the break.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Best v.106

Linda Evangelista applies winged eyeliner, from W Magazine here.

Well, I won't be doing Sunday Best for the two weeks I'm out of the country, so this is an uber Sunday Best with a ton of awesome links I spotted this week. Although I'm going away, I've lined up blog content for almost every day, mostly themed around travel, so I hope you'll come back and visit while I'm gone! On to the links:

Friday, April 20, 2012

I Spy ... Journalist Decor at Target

 I was cruising through Target the other day and double-taked when I spotted this typography-inspired decor line. Unfortunately (or lucky), I just don't need any more pillows or jars, but it took all my willpower to resist these journalist-inspired pieces.

I liked the et cetera jars, $11.99 for the smallest.

 This lead type-inspired set of letters would look sweet on a bookshelf, or (dangit) on a wedding cake for two word lovers. Why oh why wasn't this around when we got hitched?

 They had several type-heavy pillows...I liked the ampersand the best.

Not sure what these would be useful to hold, but I thought the small porcelain trinket boxes were charming.

And last but not least, these baskets reminded me of the "in" and "out" boxes that copy editors used to use to sort proofed and yet-to-be-proofed stories. Charming!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tex Mex Cheesy Chicken

 I've had this idea for a long time that a Mexican spin on Chicken Parmigiana could be a good idea. I decided to give it a stab Wednesday, minus any breading (as though that makes up for smothering something in cheese).

This can easily be filed under my easy-for-one, easy to keep ingredients on hand list. To start, I used taco seasoning as a rub, first lathering a chicken breast in olive oil, then rubbing in the seasoning. I pre-heated the oven to 450 while I did this.

Once the oven was preheated, I put the chicken breast in to bake for about 30 minutes.

Once I was satisfied the chicken was cooked, I poured taco sauce (salsa would work, too) in place of tomato sauce and covered it in Mexican shredded cheese, in place of parmesan.

I broiled the chicken until the cheese was good and melted, then sprinkled crushed tortilla chips on top for some crunch.

 It was totally tasty, but if I had it to do over again, I might marinate the chicken overnight, in either spices, lime juice and tequila or taco sauce. But it was still tasty; I'm adding this one to the canon of chicken-for-one weeknight meals!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What Are You Reading?

Just a couple weeks ago, I had gotten caught in an endless "Hunger Games" loop of rereading the books, literally hungry for more of those damn games. My friend Nakiya asked me what I was going to read next, and I knew I better read something good to come down from that high. I took a little inspiration from the movie, though, and after looking at Jennifer Lawrence's list of upcoming projects, spotted a movie in development called "Serena." 

It turns out it's based on a 2009 novel by Ron Rash, a great Appalachian author, and is like Lady Macbeth set in the timber business, on the cusp of the Great Depression and the famous chestnut blight. It's interesting, reading a book with such an unlikeable lead character, but I'm finding it really deliciously dark. The movie doesn't come out till 2013, so it's nice to be ahead of the bandwagon for a change.

 Next on my list will be this book, a big best-seller this year about college baseball and coming-of-age...

And then another coming-of-age story, but this time about the true life love and friendship between Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. 

I'm probably going to go ahead and load the next two on my Kindle for our flights to Ireland (next week! OMG!!). What are you reading these days? Any book you just have to evangelize because it was that good? Any huge letdowns?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Wine Club: Blends

Wine Club has been all about celebrating lately — namely, our newest member Melissa and her upcoming marriage. To mark the occasion of her soon-to-be blended household, our most recent themed night was "blends," including Jen's amazing sweet and salty snacks, shown above.

 Jen also served breadsticks, veggies, fruit and my fave, caramel dip.

  •  Zamarro white blend: This tasted almost like a Chardonnay, which is to say it wasn't my favorite, but might be yours.
  • Third Wheel White Table Wine: This blend of chardonnay, chenin blanc and gewurztraminer was my fave. It had a slight effervescence and sweetness that made it just delicious, to me.
  • Sexy Wine Bomb white wine: This was another delicious blend on the sweet side, made with chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, muscat, gewurztraminer and marsanne.

  • Davis Valley Winery White and Red: Alone, these were almost TOO sweet. But together, they were magic! Jen said the owners of this Rural Retreat, Va. winery used to serve them blended at the annual Norfolk WineFest and it was so popular, they tried bottling them together. Somehow, the effect wasn't nearly as delicious, so they're back to separate bottles.

  • Chocolat Rouge: We finished the night with this chocolate wine blended with red wine. It was good, but not great and very rich. For the record, my favorite chocolate wine is called Noche, by Cooper Vineyards, in Louisa, Va.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Best v.105

Guys, I had a bridal shower/bachelorette-filled Saturday and my feet are protesting to that much time in heels! I had so much fun, though! Everyone needs a raucous night out once in a while. What did you do this weekend?

On to my favorite links of the week:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Today I Like ... Swans

What's more graceful than a swan? Sean and I saw "Swan Lake" recently and the look has stuck with me. I love the long, long necks, pale, fluffy feathers and black spots. Swans have been popping up as a fashion motif lately, too, and I'd love to get my hands on a pretty swan necklace or print blouse.

Swan painting by Mats Gustafson

Um, inflatable swan? Yes. (I think this was from Vogue).

Swan Necklace, $48 by Mimi Pong

Swan Purse, $140, also by Mimi Pong

Swan blouse, from ASOS (out of stock, unfortunately, but maybe it'll pop up again?)

Swan print skirt from Topshop.

swans by amberfiona featuring a flare dress

1. Swan pillow, 30 pounds at Mengsel
2. Swan watering bucket, $13.71 at Amazon
3. Swan dress, $288 at Modcloth
4. Origami Swan necklace, $155 at Boticca

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Sean!

Today is my husband Sean's birthday! Unfortunately we won't be celebrating today, because he has to work tonight and I have to cover an event. But we celebrated Saturday, or "Sean Day," in true Sean fashion, with Chinese food and a Deadwood marathon.

Last night, I tried to surprise him with Guinness brownies, but oh lawdy, was that a disaster. It was the first time in the history of my baking experiences that I tossed the looked like oatmeal with flecks of chocolate. No idea what went wrong there, but I'm resolved to try again. Luckily, Sean's best trait is that he's unflappable and he didn't care one bit...especially because I had a spare box of Duncan Hines brownie mix to save the day.

Happy Birthday, Sean!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hot Pink Lipstick

 It's taken a few tries, but I've found three great bright pink lipsticks in my quest to look like a J.Crew catalog. The pictures aren't perfectly accurate ... my normal camera battery is charging, so camera-phone stood in, but trust when I say these are flattering. They're perfectly on-trend when worn with a simple face of make-up, but could look garish with a full eye.

From left to right: NARS Carthage pure matte; NARS Funny Face; and Tarte Lively stick (I had to pull it out of the packaging, which tends to get stuck).
 Carthage is a lighter neon pink (dulled a little bit by my camera phone)
 Funny Face is darker and more saturated...
And Lively is deep and super-matte.

I think hot pink goes just as well with neutrals as bright-colored clothing. It's tied with coral lipstick for my favorite make-up trend these days.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Best v.104

Happy Easter! If I had kids or was planning a family get-together, I would have been all over Martha Stewart's marbleized eggs. But without kids or family nearby, it's kinda hard to get into the decorating eggs-searching for eggs-hollow bunny parts of the holiday.

I hope you have a lovely holiday, and I hope to do something blog-worthy soon! In the meantime, enjoy the links: