California Heat, Sunburns & Summer Looks

With much of the American southwest experiencing sweltering temps (even to the point of grounding aircraft), San Diego (which has some of the best weather year-round) on the other hand hovers around the upper 70’s and into the 80’s. Coming from the upper Midwest, the sun to me isn’t something to be avoided in the summer; rather embraced after our long winters. Since coming to Southern California, I have so far fallen victim to the suns intense rays twice (both occasions burning my scalp – which I HIGHLY do not recommend).  It hadn’t set in yet that I am going to be in this type of weather for some time and I better learn to be more cautious and careful with my delicate northern skin. I love the beach and frequent it at least once a week if my schedule allows, however I have been under estimating all the factors around me (only applying SPF 4) and getting too crispy. As of yesterday, I have purchased for the first time in years an SPF 30 sunscreen. It is literally a wake-up call that an umbrella coupled with an SPF lower than 10 just won’t cut it anymore and I am setting myself up for the risk of skin cancer.

That being said, good times are ahead…now that I’m being more sensible with a higher SPF (and wearing a hat).

I hope to roll out a few summer looks within the next few weeks. I have a friend visiting me and so it will offer many opportunities for photos.

Until next time,

W

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The House Hunt Begins…

As we round off our first year of living in California, it has become apparent that 1): Housing is expensive 2): We need to get a place of our own. I think this has become more apparent each month; starting out with the cost of our bills from day one, then progressing to our neighbor’s dogs barking at all hours of the day, lastly tenants below us grilling on their balcony (which forces us to close our balcony door). Normally these types of thing don’t get to me, however it just seems like it is becoming more and more intolerable.

My partner and I have concluded that we can only rent one more year before it is time to plant some real roots – ones that will hopefully grow deep over the next 30+ years. Here is where I introduce my good friend Zillow. The housing website has become a small addiction lately; looking at properties, neighborhoods, schools, etc. Luckily we agree for the most part about our top priorities and it’s a short list compared to I think to most couples who are engaging in a house hunt.

Our short list:

Distance: No more than 25 minutes to both of our places of work. This means central San Diego to North County San Diego

Price: With property taxes and insurance, etc. – at or below budget and possibility of some renovations if needed.

3+ Bedrooms / 2+ Bathrooms

Neighborhood / School Quality

2 Car Garage

Lawn (Small/manageable with push mower ideal)

Built 1960 to 1980 (I prefer the appearance of homes that are from the 1970s – but this is a good range for some character).

So far the prospects look good – which is surprising. After looking at Zillow, and scouring a few other realtor sites, I’ve concluded that this might be a straightforward home purchase. Having worked in finance for 10 years I know how hard purchasing a home from start to finish can be. This is coupled with all the stories we have heard from others about house hunting in this Southern California Mecca.

I think people often get discouraged as it is from the thought of house hunting, then again I think some love the thrill of the chase, the adrenaline of finding the place to call home. My partner and I obviously know that we won’t be able to check everything off our list (I for one love the idea of renovating – so I’m more open to ideas than he is), but we at least have a good basis to start.

All in all, there is a little bit of hope in Southern California

Downsizing…

This week I’d like to focus on the task of downsizing. I think we all go through a phase where we have too much stuff and not enough space (or perhaps have filled that space with meaningless items); and then we begin to purge. Lately I’ve been thinking more about downsizing and how I want to get back to what is important.

Last week I went through my closet – which I’m sure you all can picture is set up like a temple. Everything has its place, matching wooden hangers, shoe boxes stacked to the ceiling, drawers meticulously hold folded sweaters, accessories and miscellaneous all neatly arranged. I realized two things while looking at what to keep and what to sell.

First I realized life is too short to wear anything that doesn’t fit properly (that eliminated a good chunk as I am a very slim guy – 5ft 8 / 115 lbs. / 26-inch waist). I’d been buying clothes for years that were a little too big because nobody in the industry sold slim extra-small dress shirts/t-shirts. Pants/jeans were far and few between because again the 26-inch waist wasn’t a thing until recently (and even then, getting a 32-inch length inseam combined with that is impossible). Once I eliminated what I didn’t wear, I realized that I was basically wearing the same pieces repeatedly – why? – because they were all slim/extra small or within my waist size and fit properly (thus I looked better in them). I held onto so much stuff purely because I spent money on it (way to drink the total Consumer Kool-Aid).

The epiphany I had was that I also needed to shop differently. I can still get a new piece here or there – but going forward it must fit properly – otherwise it’s a no.

The second major thing I noticed as I decluttered my sanctuary to the fashion gods, was that I double up and don’t wear something for fear of ruining it. I have two jackets that are almost identical (but different price points; one cost double than the other) – which do you think I wear more? It’s something I need to acknowledge because going forward I need to be more aware of what I’m buying, and I need to lose the fear of wearing something just because it was more expensive.

After finally rummaging through my closet and reaching the back wall, I started looking around at the rest of my apartment. When you take the time, you notice everything you are not actually using and it begins to feel like you are empowered to change it. I had a stack of pillows that needed new shams – they are finally getting onto the couch.  Old laptops that needed to be recycled over a year ago – gone. So much that could be used or perhaps should have never been purchased in the first place – it was a relief to go through and re-evaluate everything.

Some items will be donated, some sold; and others recycled; in the end, life is going to hopefully get much simpler.

What is cluttering your life? What could you do without? Is your closet on the verge of exploding because it is packed to the walls?

Vacation Season

June is literally around the corner and I think to myself it is that time of year again; I call it the fifth season – Vacation Season. Some might say that it coincides with summer, however I define this fifth time of the year from the beginning of May until the end of September. We are currently in the upswing as students are finishing another year of school, and us adults are thinking of far away destinations, or perhaps a stay-cation. June is when it really picks up and people really have vacation on their mind. 

For me this time of year comes after what can be months of planning. Flights are booked, hotels picked, the research has been done; and now it is time to just do. This year for me can only be described as a bumper crop of travels. Starting in February I returned to Germany for 10 days. The ticket was too good to pass up; for a short trip to Europe it was a nice needed break. This however fell outside my normal traveling time and so I will focus on Vacation Season and my travels ahead.

Looking ahead to July, my partner and I have a 4 day stay in Lake Tahoe planned. An 8-hour drive north of us, straddling California and Nevada is North America’s largest Alpine lake. This is a very unplanned vacation for us, as all it requires is the car and a hotel which we’ve already taken care of. For once we are playing everything by ear, no set plans other than when we will arrive and depart the Lake Tahoe area. What we need is some real nature again – having lived in Wisconsin and now San Diego, we are missing the outdoors.

August on the other hand is completely different animal; one that has required the last 6 months of planning. Originally planned for May of 2016, my trip to Sweden and Denmark was cancelled a week before departure (a fact I am still a little sour about) due to our moving to San Diego. However, that trip has been resurrected and we will now be spending a full month in Europe – from Stockholm to Munich. What I can only describe as the longest journey I have yet to plan (and yes I plan/research everything down to the detail), this was a bigger undertaking than any trip prior.

Once we have crossed the fly-over states and wide ocean; 10 hours later we land in Stockholm, spending a full 7 days in the Swedish capital (including Mariefred and Uppsala). Crossing the Oresund via train, Copenhagen gets 1 ½ days of sightseeing before we are whisked away to Berlin for 4 ½ days. After Berlin, we board a train bound for Munich and southern Germany. The bulk of our time (13 full days) will be spent visiting family and friends besides sightseeing (mainly for my partner, as I have been to Munich/Bavaria many times).

This may all seem straightforward, however think about the journey times between these destinations, coordinating trains, etc. It is a bit daunting keeping it all organized, and with a less-flexible itinerary; it requires a lot of research as to when everything is open, how much it all costs, etc. Nonetheless I am beyond excited, as most of the work is already done; and now one can truly enjoy a very stress free getaway (with hopefully very few unwanted surprises).

Taking a Fika and Giving a Thank You…

Every day, usually sometime between 3 to 4 pm I like to take a coffee break – Fika as they say/do in Sweden. It is a moment to relax, enjoy a nice cup of coffee usually accompanied by a pastry or some sort of snack. Often in this time I sit and read the news or perhaps a good book; sometimes just quietly think to myself. Today during my Fika I thought about this week and the post I wanted to write. What I reflected on was you; yes, you…my readers.

Without a doubt taking a Fika is needed for me. I gather my thoughts, slow the pace down (even if for 20 minutes). What some do through yoga or meditation, I do through my coffee break. I have a little more clarity on the day that has passed, and I have a nicer view of the time left and what tomorrow will bring.

What I want to express this week is a much needed thank you to my readers. For those of you who are following me I thank you. It gives me purpose to continue writing when there are people to write for. Second for those of you who view and like my page/posts I thank you. I light up when I see how far and wide my posts are being read. All over the world, and that was my intention – bring all the corners a little closer. It never fails to amaze me literally how far away my words are reaching.

Thank you all again for reading – until next time.

A scarf from Vienna…

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Scarf from Vienna: Bonita Men .

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View of the Stephansdom and the Innere Stadt from the Riesenrad at the Prater.

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UNO City – United Nations – Vienna International Center from the Riesenrad.

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Stephansdom – at the heart of Vienna.

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Up close look of Stephansdom tiled roof.

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Expanse of Vienna from the Stephansdom. The Hofburg and Spanish Riding School are middle center/right; home of course to the Hapsburg empire and the world famous Lipizzaner horses . In the background we can see the rolling hills of the the Vienna Woods.

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Votivkirche 

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Cafe Hawelka (Official Website below)

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Schloß Schönbrunn

Since re-affirming my goal of one post per week, I’ve been thinking about why I started this blog to begin with. All this contemplation has brought me back to this thought…before the blue bow tie there was a scarf from Vienna…

During a short visit to Vienna, Austria in 2011, I found (without realizing it) my first tangible idea of mixing my travel memories with fashion. On my way back to Pension Hargita, where I had booked a room for my three night stay, I glanced in the window of a chain store called Bonita Men located on Mariahilfer Strasse. This bustling thoroughfare is a well-known shopping area in Vienna, and since it was getting a bit chilly being November, I thought I’d stop in to escape the cold and the crowd. All the way back on the furthest wall was a shelf of wool scarves, with all sorts of vertical striped patterns. One in particular kept sticking out at me. It was red, white, brown, and orange. As I stood there I thought, red and white – the Austrian flag, brown and orange – autumn/November. What a perfect piece to remind me of this day in Wien (Vienna). It is one of my most commented on pieces to this day, and its story is one of my favorites. I hadn’t yet realized that I was collecting my memories in pieces; however, it was in a sense a foreshadowing of the bow tie and everything else to come.

As a self-described travel addict, I find throughout my apartment all these little reminders of the places I’ve been, the memories I’ve made. It always makes me laugh a little that the most common things we use on a day to day basis are attached with the most array of emotions. A coffee cup from Hamburg, a scarf from Vienna, leather shoes from Paris – each serves a purpose, a function – and yet there is more to it than just a vessel to drink from, a bit of added warmth on a chilly day, a piece of tread between our feet and the ground. What these items contain or are made up from is more than just clay, wool or leather; it is also memories, moments in time.  I drink from my Hamburg coffee cup I think of my friend Martin, we were one of the first million visitors to the Elbphilharmonie after being only open for 111 days (opened November of 2016 – we visited in early February 2017). I put on my leather shoes and I am with my aunt and cousin; shopping along the Rue du Commerce just a stone throw away from the Eifel Tower. I wrap the scarf around my neck; Café Hawelka, Stephansdom, the Prater, and Schönbrunn – all feel so near, yet it was 6 years ago.

Think about your travel mementos and memories… what comes to mind?

Photos:

Scarf from Vienna: Bonita Men

Trip to Vienna November 2011

 

One Blog Post Per Week

My original intention when I put together this blog was to write a post at least once a week. I figured that one post a week would be enough to keep me busy without being overwhelming, allowing time to edit each post before publishing, as well as take and edit photos. Without a doubt the project has fallen to the wayside many times since I started. My goal and plan for the remainder of 2017, is to re-affirm my output of one blog post per week.