Monthly Archives

October 2013

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Gif Me a Break (Halloween Edition)

 

Don’t you love it when you find the perfect gif to sum up a situation?

When I wake up on Halloween morning, I’m like:

When I put off buying a pumpkin until today and there are none left, I’m like:

When I worry that my costume isn’t as good as I thought it was, I’m like:

When I remember my Halloweens as a kid, I’m like:

When I remember my Halloweens as a teen, I’m like:

When I reminisce about the quaint trick-or-treating we did back in the day, I’m like:

When I anticipate the mob scene at the mall later today for “safe” trick-or-treating, I’m like:

Check out my past funny gif posts.

A Week in the Life: 42/52

So I go away for a week, and when I get back I’m two weeks behind. It doesn’t even make sense, and yet here I am, wondering where the time has gone. We had fun visiting family in Kansas City. If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw some glimpses of our fall adventure. I’ll share more here later. First I need to play catch-up.

Halloween is in a few days, and it looks like I’m going to be pulling costumes out of thin air because the seasonal stores that pop up around L.A. can’t even bother to keep eye patches in stock. Pirates, arrrr. One of these years we’ll get our act together early. I’m reminded of a scene in “My Blue Heaven” in which Rick Moranis laments the month of October, guessing that it’s “the pressure of Halloween. You never know what to go as.”

Anyway, here’s what the week of Oct. 12 looked like for us:

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» Sara and I went shopping, and I found dog heads on the wall at Anthropologie. Creepy or cute? I can’t decide.

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» On the way home, I stopped for seasonal beverages: pumpkin for me, hazelnut for H.

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» The moon seemed so large in person, I swear.

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» Alexa and I are sleep twins. I do exactly the same thing, one leg dangling off the side.

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» On our way to run errands we realize Alexa needs a jacket. I ran in to fetch one, and this was the scene from her bedroom window.

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» Halloween costume shopping, take 1. I found a striped shirt I’m going to rip to shreds for my pirate wench costume. Also, plastic swords.

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» These vintage dolls were stuffed into a plastic bag and labeled $3 at the thrift. SCORE. Alexa found even more dolls for $1 each, and it’s safe to say she’s in doll heaven.

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» A princess, mermaid and baby.

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» In which we make the quintessential Pinterest recipe: egg muffins. They are good, and they saved me time in the morning the rest of the week. The best part? You can put ANYTHING in them, and they are awesome. Before ^^^

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» And after. Some of the muffins runneth over, but do not be saddened. They were still eaten.

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» A feather floated by at the precise moment of the sunset.

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» And I raced frantically through Target because the faster I move the less crap ends up in my cart.

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» When Alexa plays in the bathtub, we play with our iPhones. The fisheye lens app is fun. Grainy. Still, fun.

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» When I arrived home from work, it felt like fall. Cool wind howling through the trees, leaves tripping my feet.

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» Believe it or not, I was sitting in my car, parked on the freeway. My exit ramp was jammed … and yet the rest of the road looks bizarrely empty in this photo. Trickery of timing.

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» I’m wearing a necklace. Next, earrings.

*This is a weekly project inspired by Shutterbean. Shot on iPhone this week. See past weeks here.

Movies My Kids Will Watch (Part II)

A while back, I wrote about some movies I think every child should watch, and the reasons why (see Movies My Kids Will Watch – Part 1). I’ve been meaning to share more.

In fact, I started a list in a post last year that has since been sitting in limbo, waiting for me like a child forgotten after school who then has to walk home in the rain. I feel like I owe the list an apology and a glass of milk for neglecting it so long. Perhaps even a homemade cookie for its troubles? And for godssakes come in from the rain, you’ll catch a cold.

Finally, here is Part II of the definitive list of the best kids movies of all time (according to me).

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WHY? Golden tickets, chocolate!!!, Veruca Salt, bad things happen to boys/girls who break the rules, honesty is the best policy, real winners do not steal or cheat

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WHY? The music (duh!), the yellow brick road, imagination, the Emerald City, making friends along the journey, the realization that everyone has the capacity for courage, intelligence and compassion, there really is no place like home

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WHY? Hayley Mills, summer nights singing on the patio, ingenuity, optimism, how to make the most out of a tight financial situation, the value of repairing something that needs mending, learning how to adapt

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WHY? How to adjust to a new place and people, how to overcome grief, how to deal with bullies, people are not always what they seem, never give up your sense of wonder, always have hope, don’t stop believin’

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WHY? Kids are chosen for big responsibility and step up to the challenge, sometimes kids can save their parents, brother-sister rivalry and love, the family that kicks butt together stays together 

Definitive List of Best Kids Movies • Part 2 • Little Gold Pixel
WHY? Max and Jinx … friends forever, space, zero gravity, perseverance to meet your goals, teamwork, the importance of being able to improvise (especially when you have been accidentally launched into space), learning from your mistakes, knowing your strengths/weaknesses, having confidence in yourself

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WHY? The amazingly talented Julie Andrews, “I have confidence the world can all be mine,” eternal optimism (even in the face of Nazis!), good music, having faith, finding joy in the small things (raindrops on roses), making do with what you have (curtains for dresses)

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WHY? Cartoon characters come to life, beautiful scenery in Malta, a love for the sea, Olive Oyl’s sweet roll-down socks, learning to have a thick skin even when people are rude, Swee’Pea, great tunes, physical comedy, how to deal with a bully, eating spinach and other good food makes you strong

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WHY? The joys of marching to the beat of your own drummer, cleaning up can be fun, being independent, make believe, “Pippi Longstocking is Coming Into Your Town!”

*this is the 1988 version: The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking

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WHY? Hayley Mills (this is always a selling point to me, you realize), matchmaking, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, finding common ground, turning an enemy into a friend

Gif Me a Break

Gif Me a Break • Funny Gif Posts • Little Gold Pixel

Don’t you love it when you find the perfect gif to sum up a situation?

When I realize I’ve forgotten a birthday again and now it’s too late to say something on Facebook without looking lame, I’m like:

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When the parking lot attendant keeps waving me into a space that won’t fit an actual car, I’m like:

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When the toddler throws a tantrum after 10 bedtime stories and three songs, I’m like:

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When I go to Target on Sunday evenings and the place is ripped to shreds and kids are screaming and there are no more bananas, I’m like:

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When I’m inching along the freeway, I’m like:

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When I find the shoes I’m looking for in my size (these), and they’re the last ones, I’m like:

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Wanna laugh some more? Check out my past gif posts.

For Dinner Tonight: Parmesan Crusted Chicken Recipe

For Dinner Tonight: Parmesan Crusted Chicken Recipe • Little Gold Pixel

We have been experimenting in our kitchen a lot lately. The same afternoon I was messing around with my Thai Chicken Soup (recipe still in the works because I want to tweak it), H took the remaining chicken breasts and made Parmesan Chicken. I was not prepared for the party that was about to happen in my mouth. His Parmesan Chicken is that good.

Really simple, too.

So, basically, this is a KISS recipe. Which means Keep It Simple Stupid, not that it was concocted by Ace Frehley.

Sorry, I got sidetracked.

Where was I? Chicken? Oh, yes.

If you can spare 10 minutes from rocking and rolling all night and partying every day, you can whip up some delicious chicken.

For Dinner Tonight: Parmesan Crusted Chicken Recipe • Little Gold Pixel

Parmesan Crusted Chicken Recipe

Here’s the rundown, according to H:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 3-4 eggs
  • Milk
  • Panko crumbs
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Spices of your choosing

Heat oven to 380. Slice your chicken breasts in half. For every whole chicken breast, add one egg into a bowl. Mix with a splash of milk and any spices you desire (not necessary; this chicken is tasty without additional seasoning). Spread Panko crumbs onto a flat surface. Dip chicken in egg mixture, then crumbs. Lay flat into baking dish. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Bake until golden brown. Be careful not to overcook; chicken will dry out.

For Dinner Tonight: Parmesan Crusted Chicken Recipe • Little Gold Pixel

And Now For My Book Report

Book Reviews • 40/50 • Little Gold Pixel

Read Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3 on my quest to read 50 books.

This is my late summer/early fall reading report. The links lead to the full book reviews I wrote.

Dune Road / Jane Green » I had a hard time getting past the British slang spoken by supposed Americans and the terribly convenient plot. Not chick lit at its finest.

Wedding Night / Sophia Kinsella » Chick lit at its semi-finest. I still think I’ve Got Your Number is better, though.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane / Neil Gaiman » I loved this book. Read it on the plane ride to Hawaii (at less than 200 pages, it goes fast). It’s a fantasy novel about innocence, sacrifice and suppressing knowledge to survive. Not sure any description will do it justice, so I’ll just leave you with this passage: “Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.”

The Light Between Oceans / M.L. Stedman » I wanted to like this book more than I did. About the moral dilemma that unfolds when a lighthouse keeper finds a baby washed ashore on his island and brings it back home to his wife, who insists they raise the baby as their own. The book is well-written, the characters are complex, but there’s just too much tragedy (and I can take a lot of tragedy).

Where’d You Go, Bernadette / Maria Semple » This book had me at hello. Love it infinitely. About a woman who may or may not be a little insane. That is, before she disappears. I will tease you with a bit of the wit you can expect: ” ‘That’s right,’ she told the girls. ‘You are bored. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s on you to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.’ “

The Original 1982 / Lori Carson » What if I could go back in time and not have those two abortions in the early 1980s, the singer-songwriter author asks. The answer is bittersweet, and knowing that the book is all an exercise of what-ifs and what-coulda-beens left a bad taste in my mouth. There are places where the fantasy child doesn’t ring true (LOL, like you can expect a toddler to sit still/be quiet at your workplace? C’mon). All this being said, it was a quick read. Carson has writing chops.

This One Is Mine / Maria Semple » I simply had to read this after Where’d You Go, Bernadette. Semple can tell an original tale, all right. Be prepared to be disgusted by the protagonist in this story of Hollywood excess, where a housewife who has it all is completely unappreciative of her husband (a comparative saint) and daughter (merely a prop) in order to pursue sex with a broke, hepatitis-infected, drug-addicted dirtbag.

Requiem / Lauren Oliver » Talk about dropping the ball. This third and final dystopian installment was pure torture to read. I lost all empathy for the protagonist, who was too busy stringing along one guy while pining after another to focus on the fact that they are fighting for their lives. Can we collectively agree to bury the love triangle arc of these dystopian series? They are past their expiration date …

The Universe vs. Alex Woods / Gavin Extence » A kid gets hit in the head by a meteorite! That’s about the best part of the story, and it happens at the beginning. The philosophical questions later on aren’t as intriguing or compelling as they should be.

Looking for Alaska / John Green » Just when I think John Green can’t get any more pretentious, just when I am about to write him off for being too smart for his own good, he delivers in the second half of this novel. Just as good as “The Fault in Our Stars,” maybe even better. Thank god, because I waited six months for the library copy, and it was worth it.

In this list of 10 book reviews: two have the word “Ocean” in the title, two mention Kurt Vonnegut, six feature slightly (maybe even majorly) insane female protagonists. The three best: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Looking for Alaska

There you have it. I’ve read 40 out of 50 books so far this year. I’m almost there! And, according to my Goodreads app, I’m one book ahead of schedule. That’s me, overachieving by a slight margin.

What have you been reading? I’m always on the lookout for a good read.

A Week in the Life: 41/52

Is it just me or are these weeks flying by? The last quarter of the year always seems to go like that for me. First it’s Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas and before I know it I’m looking at an old calendar and wondering what year it is.

Because here it is, a Sunday night of a weekend that passed by in a blur of recipe experiments, fall wardrobe hunting and Halloween costume planning. Grocery shopping, house cleaning, toddler appeasing. Future dreaming, photo correcting, book reading. Whew. You’ll see none of that in this round-up, though, because Week 41 ended on Friday!

This is what our past week looked like:

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» Saturday morning cuddles and watching a cartoon on the Kindle.

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» Swinging at the park. We left shortly afterward because it. was. hot. And I do mean H.O.T. (periods for emphasis).

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» The car clocked 97 degrees, so we just had to get froyo to get out of the sun. Pumpkin froyo, though, because it’s supposedly autumn.

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» Color-coordinated mess.

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» After browsing Pinterest, I had the uncontrollable urge to bake an apple cake.

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» Alexa sat with her baby doll and whispered to her for 15 minutes. They must’ve been sharing some wild secrets.

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» What on earth is this enormous bug on my side mirror?

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» H had the urge to make a million kinds of agua fresca. He started with honeydew, cucumber, mint and lime.

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» He also made strawberry-watermelon-pineapple. Both were amazing.

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» Meanwhile, I made another cauliflower pizza and we had dinner on our hands.

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» At work, I cleaned up my library, minus a few editions that went missing from the newsroom. There’s something satisfying about an organized library.

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» Still looking for hints of fall.

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» It’s really hard to say no to a cupcake from Sprinkles.

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» Alexa arrived at daycare to find her BFF and the other toddler playing outside. She was so thrilled.

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» They all hugged one another, then got on various vehicles and rode around.

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» I do not have the right to show you all their little faces, but take it from the look in Alexa’s eyes here: Having two friends her age to play with is the best! Lately it’s been her and a bunch of babies. She loves babies, but nothing matches peer play.

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» RAIN! H20 BABY.

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» Good lighting, gratuitous selfie.

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» Alexa was feeling under the weather. Nothing pumpkin chocolate chip cookies couldn’t cure. She kept asking for more “pancakes.” They were fluffy like pancakes, so I getcha, kid. I can’t for the life of me find the recipe I used, but I butchered it anyway, using flaxseed meal instead of eggs and half wheat flour instead of white because I ran out of both ingredients. The point? You can get away with a lot in baking, and your kid and husband will still eat the cookies and LOVE THEM.

Next time, I think I will bake these and try to stick with the recipe because it looks like Janssen nailed it.

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» Because we really need another important piece of technology to hide in our house.

*This is a weekly project inspired by Shutterbean. Shot on iPhone this week. See past weeks here.

If I Could Save Time in a Bottle

“Wanna look in box?”

Alexa was carrying my rather large wooden jewelry box from the bathroom into my bedroom.

“Wanna look inside. Jewelry?”

I’m surprised she knew what was inside because I can count on both hands the number of times I’ve actually worn jewelry since she was born. Curious fingers, grabby hands and all.

I told her to climb onto my bed so we could explore the treasure box together. And to keep the inevitable disaster zone somewhat contained. She was all smiles, her eyes lit with excitement when I unfolded the accordion drawers inside, revealing the box’s contents. To her, it was beads and shells and animal shapes and dangly parts. To me it was memories.

Shopping trips in childless days in which I bought enormous earrings with wild abandon and wore them with equally wild abandon. Gifts from friends. My mom’s opal ring. My grandma’s costume jewelry.

Suddenly, a clear memory formed of visiting my Great-Grandma’s house. It was always slightly warm inside due to the dangerous-looking space heater that was perpetually running in the front room. Midcentury furniture lined the long, narrow living room. The smell hit you immediately, the smell that was Great-Grandma’s House. Indescribable but instantly recognizable.

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I would always sneak off into the bedroom and play with the items lining Great-Grandma’s vanity. Super quiet, I would touch her clip-on and screwback earrings, pump the perfume atomizers. Super, super quiet. I just knew I’d be in trouble if anyone saw me because these were pretty things. A rose scent permeated the air, and I played pretend. It was a different time inside Great-Grandma’s bedroom.

Of course, it was a different time inside the entirety of her home. It was evident everywhere. The wallpaper peeling in the kitchen. The myriad jars of food lining the pantry (she had lived during the Great Depression, you understand). The old plumbing in the bathroom. It was all so exotic to me. If I could use a color to describe the feeling there, it would be yellow. Yellowed and yellow. The old and the sunny.

She was a tall woman, slender and nearly translucent in color. Always smiling. To me she was the pinnacle of old, what one would aspire to be if one wanted to be old. I can still hear her chuckle, saying things like “Well, I swan.” 

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Later Great-Grandma moved to another house down the street in the same small town. That house was even more magical, with secret closets and passageways, and a backyard overgrown with wonders. After that, the nursing home where she spent her final years.

I find myself wondering more and more about the woman she was when she first bought those earrings, when that furniture was new. She once was a young mother like I am now. And soon enough, Alexa’s grandchildren will wonder what I was like when I was young. I hope my writings on this blog can serve as a clue. Great-Grandma bottled food. I’m trying to bottle time here.

Let Them Eat Apple Upside Down Cake!

Apple Upside Down Cake Recipe • Little Gold Pixel

I love apple pie. H says it’s the worst. But what does he think about apple CAKE?

Oh, yes, I did.

I was on a pinning spree last weekend when I stumbled upon a recipe from House of Brinson that I could not resist.

Apple Upside Down Cake Recipe • Little Gold Pixel

Apple Cinnamon Upside Down Cake Recipe by House of Brinson
(My adaptations in bold)

Sauce + Apples*

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted (1/2 stick) 
    (I used soft yogurt butter)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    (I probably used more; I love cinnamon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
    (I did not have any; the flavor didn’t suffer)
  • 2 tablespoons water*We sliced up two apples this time, but I think in the future we will do 3-4. The more, the merrier!

Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    (I used baking soda)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
    (Again, more)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

In the baking dish: Sauce first, apples second, cake batter third. Make sure you taste a bit of that batter before you clean out your bowl; you. will. be. floored. Yum. Bake at 350. Bake 25-30 minutes (our oven made us wait almost 40 minutes, the bastard).

Apple Upside Down Cake Recipe • Little Gold Pixel

Apple Upside Down Cake Recipe • Little Gold Pixel

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It was worth the wait.

The cake was so moist, so freaking lick-your-fork delicious, I can’t even.

Apple Upside Down Cake Recipe • Little Gold Pixel

I mean.

Have a slice for yourself and tell me what you think.

(H loved it.)

Apple Upside Down Cake Recipe • Little Gold Pixel

Apple Upside Down Cake Recipe • Little Gold Pixel

How to Pack Lighter for Your Fall Trip

A critical look at my packing habits:

  • I wore the same things over and over in Hawaii: swimsuit, black maxi cover-up, floral maxi dress, lightweight cardigan, yoga pants and tank top to sleep in, sandals
  • I packed but never wore: two pairs of capris, four tops, three pairs of shoes
  • I lost: one pair of flip-flops at the beach (don’t ask)
  • We did a load of laundry in the middle of the trip.
  • Lesson learned: I need to pack smarter when I go on trips.

The space those extra clothes took up was unnecessary. We share one suitcase between the three of us, and space is a premium. That’s why I’m thinking of ways to maximize my wardrobe for our trip to the Midwest in a few weeks. It will be colder than Hawaii, so the clothes will be more substantial than maxi dresses.

Which leads me to …

ONE PAIR OF JEANS.

Four looks.

It can and will be done!

Travel Tips to Pack Light: One Pair of Jeans

All of these looks adhere to my signature style, which I wrote about here.

Look #1

Pumpkin patch time?

How to Pack Lighter for Your Fall Trip • Little Gold Pixel

/// cardigan /// top /// jeans /// flats ///

Look #2

Coffee date time?

How to Pack Lighter for Your Fall Trip • Little Gold Pixel

/// cardigan /// top /// jeans /// flats ///

Look #3

A walk in the park time?

How to Pack Lighter for Your Fall Trip • Little Gold Pixel

/// cardigan /// tank /// scarf /// jeans /// flats ///

Look #4

Family dinner time?

How to Pack Lighter for Your Fall Trip • Little Gold Pixel

/// flats /// top /// scarf /// jeans ///

P.S. For further packing advice, there was that one time I wrote about how to stuff your carry-on so you don’t have to check a bag (aka traveling without kids). Also, an album you should never listen to on a plane ride.