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packing list_vermont

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next weekend, i’m headed up to vermont for a weekend away in a ski town with a few girlfriends, and let me tell you, as a fall-loving basic bitch, i cannot wait. there is literally nothing i love more than the idea of wearing plaid, drinking a hot chai, sporting a leather jacket, and walking around in places where the leaves crunch beneath my feet. in my ideal fall moment, i’d also want to be simultaneously apple picking, and also wearing a sweatercoat layered beneath that leather jacket (depending on the chill, of course), also those karen walker sunnies above. i’m hopefully carrying that beyond adorable plaid kate spade saturday purse above, too.

did i mention i fucking LOVE fall? i swear, i loved it before it was cool to love it. all those buzzfeed lists about basic bitches and PSLs and all that ish can back off, because i am the original fall loving bitch. i’ve been pinning things like this for years. YEARS I TELL YOU.

anyway, moral of the story is that i just love this time of year so so much, and i cannot wait to spend a week frolicking in the leaves, drinking too much apple cider, sitting in the hottub and marveling at how amazing the foliage is in the northeast in october. october, i love you. northeast, i love you more and i promise i’ll never leave you for the west coast. fall outfits, i love you the most, and i want to spend all of my money on you. specifically on oversized scarves and big cozy sweaters and other things that are far from flattering but offer comfort beyond belief.

so, here’s what i’d be bringing to vermont if money was no object. chances are, i’ll be bringing a few of these things in real life (specifically, a fedora of some sort, a giant leopard scarf, and definitely a baggu for apple picking!), but the rest are on my “wear in my dreams” list.

next up on my packing list: MEXICO!

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it’s been established that i’ve been suffering from a serious case of wanderlust, specifically, wanderlust that involves beach destinations. it’s funny, really. as a child, i HATED the beach. i’m an ocd neat freak, and i hated that sand got into everywhere i couldn’t get it out: my discman, the pages of my books, in between my toes. i’m also not a person who generally looks good in a bathing suit, so you’d think i’d avoid the beach like the plague. for a while, i did. but a few years ago (coincidentally, around the time i moved to new york), i began to appreciate the sense of peace and calm that comes over a person when they dig their toes into the hot sand and test them out in chilly, rough waters. since then, i’ve been trying to escape to the beach whenever i can, and that need to escape culminated with my trip to nicaragua this past december – the best week of my life in quite some time. i’ve written quite a bit on here about how my time in nica made me really understand how important it is for me to get away from new york, and to do so in places where i can truly disconnect (ie, cell phones don’t work, no email unless i want to get to an internet cafe). if you’ve been reading for a while, you know that i really, really want to go to tulum, but flights aren’t cheap, and i want to go at a time when i can go with my girlfriends. so it looks like tulum is out of the question for a little – at the very least, we won’t be going this summer. more likely, we’ll head somewhere we can drive; right now, we’ve got our eye on the cape, which will certainly do for now.Image

in the meantime, though, i’m perusing beach house listings like it’s my job, and i came across this one, on the bahamas’ harbour island (also known as where designer india hicks, one of my favorite interior goddesses, makes her home). how adorable is this little cottage? how perfect would it be for a family getaway, a girl’s weekend, or even a honeymoon? i can’t get enough. light, bright, airy, filled with sunshine and crisp white linens, this home has everything you need to really do vacation right. ImageImageImage

adorable, right? you can see the full listing here. calgon, take me away.

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i’m head over heels for this upstate new york home, which is available as a rental in the hudson area. the entire home has been designed in a neutral palette, with lots of whitewashed wood, unfinished plaster walls, and fluffy white bedding galore. the furniture is comfortable and cozy – all of it looks like the perfect place to snuggle up by the fireplace – while the styling is remarkably, beautifully simple.

according to the listing:

set on 1.5 acres of lawns, with mature trees and picturesque stone walls, shipley corner is a destination unto itself, where  cares are left at the door beneath the cool green awnings, and rejuvenation of body and spirit can happen, all in a tasteful, peaceful environment.

when considering the renovation of shipley corner, a spirited 1800’s farmhouse in upstate NY, the owners chose celebrated designers Jersey Ice Cream Company, with whom they had previously collaborated on redesigning their brooklyn apartment. So they knew how the family lived, and that meant creating an attractive, efficient kitchen where family and guests would like to hang out, making cooking a pleasure.

 

just cooking a pleasure? how about the entire home being a pleasure?ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

dreamy, right? a house like this could convince me to leave the city behind…

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ever since my trip to nicaragua in december, i’ve been feeling this insatiable itch to pack my bags and just go. on a whim, to a warm, sunny destination, a place with aquamarine waters and the scent of coconuts and palm trees that swish back and forth in the wind. as a child, i hated the beach. the ocd neat freak in me didn’t like getting sand everywhere – in my books, in my discman, in my bathing suit. but over the past few years, (especially since moving to new york), i’ve really come to appreciate the beauty of the ocean. the open horizon, the hot sand burning the bottom of your feet, the scent of sunscreen and the feeling of slightly crisped skin. there’s something about escaping to the beach that allows all your problems to melt away.

there’s this quote i love – you’ve probably seen it floating around pinterest – that reads, “the cure for anything is salt water. sweat, tears, and the sea.” living in a place that’s constantly go go go (and being a person who isn’t very good at slowing down) has taught me the true value of getting away, and doing so in a place where all i’ve got to do in a given day is sit on the sand, fry in the sun, and read my book.

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in nica, my phone didn’t work unless i had wifi (which was hard to come by). there was no email. there were no text messages. there was no beeping, no buzzing, no ringing. there was just the hot air tossing my hair around my shoulders, and the sun waking me up each morning, and the feeling of total and utter freedom. my week in nica gave me back a piece of myself that i think i’d lost in the past few years in new york. the piece of me that couldn’t care less about shoes, about clothing, or makeup, or material things. the piece of me that appreciates natural beauty, and the art of just being, of good conversation and friendships that make my heart grow a few sizes bigger each day. i love this city, but anyone who’s lived here knows it’s a trial to do so, and that new york can drain you. it’s such a shame that vacation is a luxury that only some can afford, because it’s oh so important to get the fuck out of the city and out of your head every so often. going away for the week taught me that, now that i’ve been blessed with a salary that allows me to escape, i need to do so. often.

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i’ve got a trip planned to LA the last week in april, but i’ve still got the travel bug crawling through my body – the urge to cut myself off from what i know and get back to the basics. so much that i actually considered splurging on tickets back to nica for memorial day weekend. this post, from grace atwood (who has, in the past few months, become my favorite blogger – i like to think she and i would be friends if we were ever to meet in real life), featuring shots from her latest trip to tulum, has me dreaming of that turquoise water and a stay at playa papaya. i also happened to look up flights to tulum for memorial day, but they’re uber pricey, sadly. i’m secretly hoping they’ll go down last minute and i can hop on a plane and be touching down to sunshine and sand in just a few hours. i’ve never been to mexico, but grace has put tulum on my list, big time. it looks like my sort of place, the kind where it’s not just optional to disconnect, it’s mandatory.

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a few nights before i left nica, my friend martha’s friends (locals), drove us down a long, bumpy, winding road to a secluded beach where baby turtles are rescued, raised, and released back out into the ocean to find their lives. 30 minutes through the woods, through waters and fallen trees and into the black, we came out the other side. a short walk away was a beach unlike anything i’d ever seen. white light hurts the turtles, so there was no light to be seen. all there was to lead our way to the water was the moon, and the stars (along with tiny little red flashlights we could use to ensure we didn’t step on any of the babies, which were approximately the size of a reese’s cup, if not smaller). i tell you, those turtles may have been tiny, but i’ve never felt so small. the sky stretched higher and wider than any i’d seen, and i swear the stars in nica are the brightest stars around. the natural beauty literally vibrated around us, the silence elevating the enormity not just of the beach itself, but also of the moment. it was a magical moment, and one that i think reawakened in me my desire to see the world, to go. Image

we need to be reminded that we are small, and the world is large. and the best way to do that is to travel. tulum, here i come. also on my dream list: istanbul, santorini, the dominican republic, and marrakesh.

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{jayson home moroccan wedding blanket parson’s bench}

a story about me and morocco.

the year i was bat mitzvahed, my grandma took my entire extended family (my cousin and i are the same age) on a 2 week trip to morocco. though i had traveled a bunch as a kid (lucky me!), morocco was a whole other world. literally. for starters, it was in AFRICA. i mean, hi, exotic locale. it was also a place where girls with blonde hair and hazel eyes were things to be bartered for. my price was equivalent to a few nice rugs and some steaming mugs of mint tea. it was a place where the old world still had a firm hold on things, where lifestyle glossies like vogue had yet to traverse the terrain, where rivers of mud and discarded trash ran straight through the streets. marrakech, specifically, was a visceral feast. the sights, the sounds, the smells. and don’t even get me started on the leather tannery we visited one day. talk about smells, or should i say, stenches. holy moly, did i have to hold my nose at that one.

as blessed as i feel that i’ve visited such an incredible place, part of me wishes i’d made the trip when i was a bit older. i think i would appreciate the country a lot more now than i did then. i suppose that’s why it’s important to travel as an adult – because your brain has formed enough to truly wrap itself around the amazing experiences that sojourning around the world bring. one thing i’m sure i would appreciate now more than i did than is the amazing color and style of moroccan interiors – from the colorful tilework to the gorgeous moroccan wedding blankets that have become all the rage in interior design over the past few years.

also known as handira, moroccan wedding blankets are traditional cape-like nuptial garments of the Berber women. these gorgeous pieces, worn by brides at their wedding ceremonies, are handwoven by a bride’s relatives, and can take weeks to complete. these days, you’ll see them hanging on walls, atop crisp white sheets being used as bedspreads, beneath dining tables as rugs…the design possibilities are endless. a bit sparkly, a bit sequin-y, and a whole lot of pretty, moroccan wedding blankets are a beautiful, versatile piece that the interior world can’t get enough of.

you can get the real thing by doing a bit of savvy googling, or you can snag mass market versions, which have popped up everywhere from anthropologie to jayson home (where the piece above can be found).

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remember how i’ve talked about how un-outdoorsy i am? well, that un-outdoorsy-ness extends to winter sports, like snowboarding and skiing. so you might find it a bit funny that i decided to accompany my friends on a ski trip upstate to hunter mountain over new year’s. and even funnier that this was my second year in a row participating in said ski trip.

here’s the thing: i love everything about ski trips, in theory. except, really, the skiing. i like the big comfy sweaters and the cozy nights spend snuggled up on the couch drinking spiced cider (this year, we spiked it with fireball. it was delicious!). i like the constantly crackling fireplace and the hottubs that fit ten people with no problems except some criss-crossed feet. i like beautiful scenic country roads, their pavement streaked with snow. i like rosy cheeks and drinking too much on new year’s and being on vacation, away from reality, in general.

truly, i like it all. except the skiing. so i don’t ski. but this year, i did go snow tubing, and let me tell you, that shit is F.U.N. i used to go tubing in the lake at my camp every summer, and while i was scared shitless of being dumped into the water while going 80 mph, there was nothing like gliding along the water at top speed. snow tubing is the same, except you’re going down a giant snowy hill instead of going across the top of the water. you spin around backwards and the wind whips around your face, and even though you’re freezing, you feel so freeleave it to me to prefer an activity that’s designed for children over one that’s designed for adults. Image

$500 worth of groceries for 4.5 days. EEK. 

so while my friends trekked up and down the mountain, i walked around the tiny town of tannersville, buying silly things like overpriced chocolate malt balls and maple sugar candy. i sat by the fireplace and plowed through allegiant, and generally, had a dandy time. one of my best friends, maddie, joined us this year, which was wonderful, and the entire trip went off without a single moment of drama (a record for our group of friends, as much as i hate to admit it).

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you can’t imagine how many takes it took to get a good picture out of the two of us

when i first saw our house online, i balked. i believe the wording i used was “it looks like the sort of house where SVU murders take place.” but i ate my words; after one night in my (admittedly uber creaky) bed, i was sold on our little log cabin (the upstairs, at least. the downstairs was not really my jam). just a hop, skip and a jump from the mountain, and closer to the town of tannersville than the one we’d stayed in before, the cabin was the perfect choice for our group, and i’d stay there again in a heartbeat.

all in all, it was a wonderful way to ring in the new year. 2014, here i come!

Imagehave i mentioned that i’m not exactly the outdoorsy type? if i haven’t, now you know. this pin rings quite true to me. i’m not a fan of camping. i hate the scratchy feel of sleeping bags. i don’t enjoy a good hike. and yet, “hiking” (if you could even really call it that) was exactly what i found myself doing on my penultimate day in nicaragua. see, martha had mentioned that the view from the jesus christ statue that overlooks san juan del sur was out of this world. we couldn’t miss it. it had to be seen before i departed and flew back to new york. but the only way to get there was to walk up – and i mean up. 

up a series of ridiculously steep streets (my calves have never burned so intensely), and then up about 50-100 even steeper steps. when martha first mentioned the hike, i waved it off, and i’ll let you in on a little secret as to why it’s not just that i don’t like hiking, it’s that i’m afraid i can’t do it. afraid my body can’t handle it. afraid that i’m too overweight, too out of shape to conquer the heat and the hills. so when martha first mentioned the statue, but said it was ‘quite the hike,’ i said i’d think about it.

and then there we were, on my second to last day, trying to squeeze every bit of amazing out of our vacation, and she brought it up again. and this time, i couldn’t back out. so i told myself (and she reminded me) that we could take breaks if we needed to. we’d just walk slowly.

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so off we set, walking along the beach, over a miniature foot bridge, and into the residential streets beyond the bars and the hostels and the little shops in town. before long, those residential streets turned into steep as hell hills, and my legs began to burn. i felt sweat trickling down the small of my back, pooling in my sports bra, dripping down my hairline. i looked over, and both martha and sara were sweating too. that made me feel a bit better. i wasn’t the only one who thought it was practically sauna-like in the sunshine. every moment i felt like i needed to stop, i heard my soul cycle instructor’s voice in my head telling me, that moment when you feel like giving up? that’s not the end. that’s just the beginning. 

after about 45 minutes of walking, we were almost there. we stopped to take a picture by an insanely gorgeous view. and then we kept walking. soon i saw the steps – on such a steep incline that i had a moment of sudden paralysis (what if i fell off?!) – we were so close. at the end of those steps was the statue, and a view of san juan and all that surrounds it. Image$10 later and a GIANT downed water bottle later, we were there. and though my heart was pounding and my skin was sticky with perspiration, i didn’t feel sweaty. i didn’t feel out of shape. i didn’t feel anything but proud. because i had done it. i’d walked, then climbed, all the way from the edge of the beach in that image, to the giant statue that looked over it. little old out of shape, overweight me had done it.

Imageand as i stood there looking over the edge to the town below, i had a thought: maybe little old me wasn’t so out of shape anymore. maybe all those spinning classes have given my heart and my legs an edge. maybe i’m finally turning into a person who doesn’t have to turn things down for fear that she can’t keep up.  Image

on the walk down, i turned to martha, and i said,  i think i’m having a bit of an epiphany. i was so worried about doing this, so afraid i couldn’t do it. but i could. my body could. my body does so much for me. it can do so many things. it’s so strong, so powerful, so amazing. and yet all i do is complain about how it looks. 

it sounds silly, doesn’t it? ridiculous, even. but body acceptance, for me, is a huge thing. and i don’t think i’m there yet, but climbing that mini mountain was yet another step on my journey to acceptance. and that was a beautiful thing.

martha, in all her infinite wisdom, simply wrapped me in a big hug, and said, i’m so happy you’re having this moment.

and you know what i thought? that despite the fact that i was sweaty, and looked like an overheated piglet, so was i.

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i’ve talked a lot on this blog about my homebody nature – how i’d rather stay in than go out, how i crave and thrive on routine, how i prefer things to be planned out, so i know what to expect and when. i’m not, most would say, the most adventurous of ladies. in fact, that last sentence was the understatement of the century. adventure isn’t really my jam. routine, i get. routine, i know. but spontaneity scares the shit out of me. i’d love to be one of those chill, go with the flow girls. god, i wish i was. but i know i am not, and likely, will never be.

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my friend martha, though? she’s one of those girls through and through. she is one of the most open, adventurous, down ass chicks (really, that’s the only way to describe her) i have ever met in my entire life. she is spontaneity at its best, always up for a new challenge, a new place, a new food or person. she’s a free spirit, and i mean that as the ultimate compliment: she goes where her heart takes her, and for this, i admire her greatly.

most recently, her heart took her to san juan del sur, a beautiful little beach down on the southwest coast of nicaragua. see, martha got burnt out at her job as a nurse in boston. and unlike most of us, who would suck that unhappiness up until it ate us alive, she got out. and then she said to herself, what should i do next? what will make me happy? what will make me feel full? and a chance to do some health research in nicaragua came up. so she took it. and she leapt, eyes open, into the unknown.

pretty incredible, right? when she told me her plans, i too was feeling a bit burnt out at my job. i hadn’t had a real vacation in years, and i thought to myself, i should go to nicaragua and visit her. except her plans were up in the air, and i couldn’t book dates until the semi last minute, and i wouldn’t be able to stay with her, which would mean booking a hotel on my own, and traveling alone, and all of a sudden, it didn’t seem like such a great idea.

because it was scary, and new, and different. and adventurous.

and then i did it anyway. because it was all those things, and i needed to push myself out of my comfort zone. so i booked my ticket on the blind faith that even if i was traveling alone, and even if i was staying alone, martha would be there – and during the times that she wasn’t, i would be alone, and that would be a good thing. i would explore. i would practice my spanish. i would volunteer. i would just be.

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as it turned out, while i did stay alone for 2 nights, i spent another two in a beautiful house (see below) with martha and her dear friend sara, who is one of the most fabulous ladies i’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time with.

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and then we spent another two nights in a fancy schmancy resort that was uber lux, but also uber filled with insects. but hey, i can’t balk at that view. who could?

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it was a week filled with some serious girl talk, some crazy dancing times, a lot of rum and cokes, and enough beach and pool time for me to a) come back looking “seriously relaxed” and “very tan” – two phrases that are never, ever, associated with me.

i have a good deal of stories to tell about my week in nica, but i’ll do you the favor of spreading those out a bit, so you’re not reading 9 million words at once. in the meantime, though, here are a few other pictures. i tell you, the sunsets there…i’ve never seen anything like them.

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do you guys remember this video? hokay, so, here’s de earth. chilling. damn, that is a sweet earth you might say!

about halfway through the video, the french guy says, in a ridiculously french accent (in response to an impending missile assault from the US) but i’m le tired. this video came out way back in 2008, and yet, to this day, whenever i’m feeling really overworked, or, let’s face it, just really freaking sleepy, i say to myself, in a french accent, but i’m le tireddddd….

and guess what? i’m le tired. like, really le tired. i’ve got myself on a semi-exhausting schedule, and every time i tell myself i need to slow down, i don’t do it. or if i do do it, i only slow down for a day or so, and then i get back on the horse and continue pushing myself forward.

i read an interesting article about accumulated sleep debt a month or so back, and it got me thinking about my accumulated lack of sleep. i used to think of myself as a morning person ( i think i still am a morning person, just an overtired one), but lately, i feel like that pop in my step that i used to feel when i woke up early is gone. and by lately, i mean, ever since i started this job a year ago. here’s how i see it. before i took this job, i slept till around 8am every morning. soon after i accepted my job at draft, i realized there was no way i’d be getting out at 5. not even 6, really. which meant evening bar method classes were out of the question, unless i wanted to kiss my social life goodbye and get home at 9pm every night. which i didn’t. so i started taking morning classes at 7:30, which are great – but they mean waking up at 6:30 every morning five days a week. which meant that i lost 1.5 hours of sleep each morning, or 7.5 hours of sleep a week. multiple that by the 60ish weeks its been since i took the job, and you’ve got a whole of sleep lost. it’s no wonder i feel more tired now than i did a year ago, right?

add onto that my undiagnosed but definitely in there somewhere slight OCD (which means that if i get it in my head that i’m doing something within a certain time period, i have.to.get.it.done, no matter how late it means i stay up or how tired i am or how unnecessary it is that i do it right now) and you’ve got yourself a hot mess. for example, last night, exhausted from a rough class at soul cycle (my second of the week, on top of my 5 a week bar method schedule – why am i not skinnier with all this working out?!), i had intended to go to bed early. but i had also told myself that i was doing to do my laundry, because i’m seeing vampire weekend tonight at barclays (!!), and it needed to get done.

it took longer than expected to get home after soul, so before i knew it, it was 9pm and i hadn’t showered, cooked, or put my laundry in. so i proceeded to do all of the above, and didn’t get to bed till almost midnight.

now, a normal person would have said to herself, this laundry doesn’t need to get done tonight. it’s almost the weekend. leave it, and go to bed.

but not me. no, i’d told myself i’d do it, and so i was doing it.

it sounds crazy, right? but i won’t be able to sleep if i haven’t checked it off my to-do list. never mind what happens on days when my to-do list is too long to conquer. enter anxious sarah.

every morning, at the end of bar method class, the instructors have us sit, cross-legged, facing the front of the room. we place our hands on our knees, palms to the sky, and we close our eyes. and we take two long, deep breaths, in and out, in and out. and every morning, i wish this moment would last just a little bit longer. that i could slow down, just a little bit.

i love my life, and i love all that i do. but the frenetic pace of new york city and all the exciting opportunities that come with it mean i’m constantly running from one thing to the next. from bar method to work. from work to soul cycle. from work to dinner. from work to run errands. from work to my apartment to do more (freelance) work. from my apartment on the 10th floor down to the basement laundry room and back again.

why do i thrive on this busy pace? especially when it’s running me ragged? am i so afraid of my own thoughts that i won’t allow myself to slow the fuck down?

because, really, that’s what i need. to slow the fuck down. pardon my french, but it’s the truth.

in december, i will fly to nicaragua, to a sleepy surf town, for a full week, where i will have no choice but to slow down. there will likely be no internet, no phone, no instagram or facebook or twitter or anything to keep me plugged in. and so i’ll have no choice but to unplug completely.

here’s hoping i come back a changed woman. only 3 or so months stand between me and that freedom. let the countdown begin.