Road Trip Vacation Clothes

New England Fall 2013

New England Fall 2013 by secondbreakfast featuring opaque tights

I am planning a fall road trip to the East Coast and have been experimenting with different outfit combinations in order to find the most compatible garments. There are two tricks when it comes to packing for road trip vacations:

1. Everything must be (relatively) comfortable
2. The clothes need to have a unified theme or color

In this case, the theme was obvious: FALL! But I also chose warm neutrals and black because they go with everything. Instead of planning an outfit for each day, I prefer to pack many items that work together to accommodate for changes in weather/mood/planetary alignment. Another factor was the clothing's tendency to wrinkle; I prefer clothes that can be wadded up into a ball, forgotten on the floor and worn the next day without any raised eyebrows. This is so important on road trips, because you typically aren't staying in the same place long enough to hang your garments and hope gravity removes the wrinkles.

So far, I've ended up with:

3 dresses
2 pairs of pants
1 pair of shorts
1 skirt
5 shirts
3 sweaters
2 jackets
2 pairs of boots
1 pair of sandals
2 swimsuits
1 giant handbag
1 belt
1 pair of tights

How do you guys pack for road trip vacations? Any special tips or tricks you want to share? Leave a note in the comments and let me know!



My Animals

I have a lot of animals. Four cats and one dog, to be exact. 

It started with Leonard. Leonard came from the animal shelter.  I knew I wanted a black cat because they are really handsome and have good personalities, so I asked one of the volunteers who the coolest back cat was and he said, "Leonard is a pretty cool cat." He was so right.

Leonard and I have been roommates for many years. When I lived in my tiny studio apartment in college, Leonard sat perched in the window every time I got home from class. Except for one time he was in the trash can eating garbage. That was the day Leonard learned about baths. 

I adopted Tiberius next. I wasn't even planning on getting a cat that day. My job at the time had me taking a group of volunteers to the animal shelter every week and when this little siamese cat popped up one day, I couldn't resist. He was really rude at first actually but he has calmed down a lot. Now he really likes drinking out of the faucet and meows for the water to be turned on.

Then I moved again and suddenly there were two more cats!

Four cats!

The latest addition to the pack was Reggie, also from the shelter. He's about two years old and is some variation of a poodle mix. I think he is a schnoodle, but l'hasapoo is also a possibility.

All the animals get along pretty well. Sometimes I hear distant hissing but with cats it almost always sounds worse than it is. Especially Tiberius because he is a big baby. It took the animals maybe two weeks to get used to each other and after that things just keep getting better. I highly recommend Feliway if you're having cat behavior issues, by the way. It is a synthetic version of a natural cat pheromone which makes them feel calmer. It plugs into the wall like an air freshener and it works!

Have a good weekend!




(sweater: h&m, pants and boots: target, top: worthington, necklace: forever 21)
To celebrate the autumnal equinox, I went for a walk through the cornfields in the countryside. It has been absolutely beautiful here. Fall is my favorite.



Literal Leopard

top: premise, pants: vera wang, wedges: steve madden, bag: liz claiborne, sunnies + necklace: forever 21, watch: target

 Leopard print is really trendy this fall and I was trying to psych myself up for donning faux leopard fur coats with leopard heels to no avail. I am just not a leopard print person. It has always felt overtly sexy to me and every time I've worn it, I just felt like I was trying to hard, you know? That's not to say plenty of people don't look amazing in leopard (they totally do!) but feeling uncomfortable in a style, trendy or not, never looks good. 
Enter this shirt from TJ Maxx. It is a literal leopard print, that is, leopards are printed on the blouse. I loved it and bought it instantly. While it may not be as on-trend as other leopard prints, I suspect it may have a little more staying power.

Happy Monday!



Homemade Tomato Sauce

Harvest Season: fresh tomatoes from my garden and peppers from my mom's garden

I have TONS of tomatoes right now. They seem to be one of the few plants in my garden to remain unaffected by the drought. It did finally rain yesterday and the cats and dog were so confused I had to let them out on the deck so they could remember what rain looks and smells like! It had been nearly two months without rain and we really needed that downpour, brief as it was.

Making fresh homemade tomato sauce seemed like a good project to try out. First I brought a large bot of salted water to a boil, then submerged about twenty tomatoes of different sizes into the water, going in ascending order based on size. The goal is to get their skins to crack and peel a bit, usually takes a minute or two. Next the tomatoes get plunged into an ice bath. 

Peeled and de-seeded tomatoes after the ice bath- a few seeds evaded the squeeze but no harm done!

 Once the tomatoes have cooled enough to handle, you should be able to easily remove the skins and squeeze out the seeds. Squeezing out the seeds is fun but can get messy, so don't wear white like I did! 

The tomato pulp then gets food processed until smooth, like this:

I chopped up red peppers and white onion to create a flavorful base for the sauce. You can use any veggies you like. Carrots, bell peppers or any sturdy vegetable will work. I added garlic too, but waited until later to add it. I've found if garlic is added too early, the flavor gets cooked out.

For easy clean up, use coffee filters to hold your chopped veggies until they are ready to be added to the pan.
Add some olive oil to a pan over medium heat and allow it to become warm before adding the vegetables. You want them to sizzle as they hit the pan.

Red pepper and onion in the saute pan
You can almost smell the deliciousness through the computer screen, right?

Cook until translucent and then pour in the pureed tomato mixture. You might want to hold a lid between you and the pan because it has a tendency to splash. Sprinkle in whatever spices you like, I grabbed oregano, parsley, cayenne pepper, basil, sugar, bay leaves and salt. Give it a quick stir and allow the mixture to begin bubbling again. 

Now comes the easy part: cover it with a lid, turn the heat as low as it will go and leave it alone! I let mine be for a little over an hour and then went to check on it. It had reduced quite a bit so I added some extra tomato puree but wine would also work. I also added the garlic at this point, too. Cover again and cook on low heat until you're ready to eat. The flavor just keeps developing the longer it cooks, although it does become more like a paste. Try out different cook times and see what works for you.

Meanwhile, I boiled some cheese raviolis. I was in a hurry so I used store-bought, but nothing compares to homemade raviolis. They are a lot of work but really fun to make. I will make a post about homemade raviolis soon!

The finished product: homemade tomato sauce

After all that waiting, the sauce was finally ready. It tasted so incredible. The flavor is much more complex and hearty than a canned/bottled sauce from the store. You've gotta try it!

Cheese ravioli with homemade tomato sauce

Bon appetit!


Sky Blue Sky

shirt (actually a dress): available at target, skirt: derek lam for kohl's (it is on clearance now!), sandals: ancient clearance from target- similar here, necklace/sunnies: forever 21

Super hot here in the Midwest! 99 degrees today and the weatherman called the humidity "oppressive". 

I recently quit my day job. Changes in policy at the state level are impacting mental health services in a bad way. I really love doing social work, especially working with people with mental illness, but the state where I live is making it really hard to stay in the field. As much as I wanted to stay and fight, being forced to provide sub-par services because of budget cuts was ethically challenging for me. Basically, I just don't agree with the way the state is managing mental health care and since I worked for the government, it felt like I was part of the problem. I am doing freelance quality assurance/consulting/grant writing for various agencies now and the change of pace is great!

Lots of people I know who are in their 20s are having a tough time right now. Are we all having a quarter-life crisis? It is easy to get kinda existential about things sometimes. Who are we? What is the purpose of our existence? Etc. I have determined (for now) that life is meant to be challenging, and once we accept that we can find the happiness and joy in our day-to-day activities. I am a firm believer that good cannot exist without bad, so I am trying to look at the "bad" things with perspective and realizing that life's crappier moments make the pleasant ones easier to appreciate. 

Keep Calm and Stay Cool!



Buggy Summer

dress + necklace: forever 21, wedges: maurices

I love the simplicity of summer fashion. Dress + shoes = outfit.

Summer is almost over and I am ok with that. Fall is my favorite season and I can't wait to start layering again. Not sure about these 2013 fall trends, though. I like the Clueless/Cher Horowitz look of the flannel skirt suits and the dramatic mesh/leather adornments... but am I the only one who thinks most of the runway looks are pretty unwearable? I am just not ready for grunge to come back, either. The 90s weren't that long ago! Ok. Done with my rant. Now get off my lawn, kids!

I changed my mind about Reggie being a l'hasapoo, by the way. Now I think he is a schnoodle, which is more fun to say and plus his face totally looks like a schnauzer!