Traveling with the LA Lady: basic travel essentials

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So this year is going be big big BIG.

I will be traveling to Peru to hike up to Machu Picchu.

I will be traveling to Paris for two weeks just for funsies.

I may or may not be doing another trip to Europe… we’ll see…

But I’ve obviously been doing a ton of research (as I’m so apt to do) on my destinations, especially for my Peru trip. I want to be as prepared as possible since it will be a strenuous hike and well outside the norm. It’ll also be the first trip I’ve been on that requires a trip to the doctor for some vaccines and boosters… yeesh.

I’ll be detailing these trips, especially the gear and various preparations for Machu Picchu in subsequent posts but I’ve been browsing the internet looking for travel-friendly clothing and gear. Most of the time, anything “travel-friendly” falls under what has been (incorrectly) described as normcore. At some point it passes the point of simply being versatile and becomes boring. I swear… if I never saw a pair of wrinkle-free cargo pants again…

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Why I’m done with Lululemon (and overpriced athletic clothing): a tall women’s perspective

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So we’ll ignore the fact that I haven’t posted in a while. I’ll be catching you up on what’s been going down since then. But as I’m spending my weekend looking for workout clothing, I realized I had something to talk about.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m 5’11” and any pants that are considered “regular” length simply look like capris. It might sound selfish to complain about being tall but the fact is I’ve spent a good chunk of time looking for longer lengths in pants and tops alike. Slowly, retailers like Gap have rolled out “tall” sizes and it has been my saving grace, especially for basics. Workout, athletic and “technical” clothing is still a little far behind the times but slowly they’re updating as well. Lululemon was one of the first I experienced that had dedicated tall-sized pants and their jackets and tops ran a little long as well.

In case you’re wondering, I do have a little bit of street cred when it comes to workout apparel. I’ve spent well over a decade stuffed inside leotards and have learned what makes them great, what makes them terrible and how to care for them to get the most amount of wear possible . Somewhere in there I started buying yoga apparel and that goes for Lululemon as well. At first, it was like someone answered my prayers! I justified the high price tags by reminding myself how difficult it was to find long inseams and lengths.

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Obsession: Ankle-zip pants

When skinny jeans debuted I wasn’t thrilled. Having thighs akin to Beyonce’s meant skinny jeans weren’t necessarily a good look for me. Every once in a while I’ll see a skinny pant/jean with zippers located at the ankle. More often than not, they appear on the outseam of the pant and not the inseam and I think more designers should consider the inseam. It’s a cleaner look from the outside and still gives you that fitted-with-a-slight-flare for those of us who don’t want to go Full Skinny. It’s easier to find an ankle-zip pant than it is to find pants or jeans with a demi-bootcut that’s fitted all the way to the lower calf and then a slight flare at the ankle (but if you are looking for that, American Eagle’s Skinny Kick jean is just that: almost completely skinny but with a slight flare just at the ankle). This way, your leg opening is customizable!

Anyway, now that the motorcycle-look is reappearing, there are more pants and jeans with random zippers popping up and so I’ve rounded up a few ranging in price. Click the photos for links on where to buy.*

 

Old Navy “The Rockstar Zip Pocket Pant” should really call out the zippers at the ankles and not the pocket. They come in four colors including this awesome red one. About $35. Bonus: TALL SIZES.

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New York Fashion Week Backlash: a sign of a larger problem for the fashion

I don’t fancy myself a fashion blogger. I’ve never attended fashion week and the craziest I get with fashion is a great trunk show or flipping through a magazine. Recently, the subject of New York Fashion Week came up after Oscar de la Renta (one of my favorite designers of all time–so I know enough to know what I like) commented that Fashion Week now overcrowded with poseurs and celebrities and the people who “need” to see the clothes are getting elbowed out by photographers and the chaos of the show. While he has a point, he’s opened up a discussion about who belongs in the fashion need-to-know circle (editors, buyers, etc) and who doesn’t. The latter seems to be focused on bloggers, along with celebrities. To me, all of this sounds familiar.*

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The Definitive Natural/Organic Deodorant List, with a DIY option

Yea, you read that right: DIY deodorant. Come along with me on this journey, folks. I dare you.

What got me on the natural deodorant path was actually my laundry. I was tired of trying to purge my tops and shirts of my industrial-strength deodorant. If you’re curious, I was using a combination of baking soda and white vinegar, forming a paste and then using a toothbrush to rub the mixture into the antiperspirant stain. It’s obviously a pain in the ass and even more so during the summer.

Previously, I had tried a couple of natural deodorants and they didn’t work, even in the slightest. I realize now that I had to go through a sort of antiperspirant detox. It took about a week but the results are:

  • better underarm skin. Not that this was a priority but it was a nice surprise.
  • less sweating. Maybe my armpit skin was choking on the aluminum compounds in my antiperspirant… who knows.
  • no more stains on my clothes!

So the DIY option was just for fun since I had all the ingredients and it seemed like an interesting experiment. Chances are you have the ingredients in your house already, but if not they’re pretty cheap. The recipe was derived from this one but I cut it in half so I can try different scents and play with the ingredients until I get the consistency I like.

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The LA Lady’s State of the Union

So I started this blog in February-ish and so far it’s been fun. We made it through our kitchen renovation and it’s been satisfying to share the progress and all my house & home posts. I’m trying to keep the theme going on this blog so it doesn’t devolve into randomness. Because it could easily go that way. If anyone can unearth the review I did on my local post office, you can probably estimate my capabilities as a rant artist.

Somehow, I came across this article about “housewife blogs.” The author, who is apparently a distinguished writer, decided to take a cheap shot at the Mommy Blogger phenomenon*. She’s certainly not the first and will definitely not be the last to marginalize what is actually a huge segment of the population (and also very undervalued as a marketing segment. It’s improved but nowhere near what it should be). As I was reading her rather shallow summary, I started thinking, “crap… am I one of these women?” I’d like to think of this blog as something more than trivial how-to’s and write about a wider range of topics, but there’s always the chance of alienating my audience.

Most of my dear readers arrive here through Google searches and it seems like they’re finding what they’re looking for and coming back for more. So thanks for that! I’ve enjoyed the things I’ve wrote about and it was through reading similar blogs that I decided to start my own. But I’m definitely more than someone who remodels kitchens. I get pissed off about stuff I read in the news. I like steak and reruns of Star Trek TNG. I like being a woman.

Above all, I’ll keep it real. OK? OK!

 

 

*Although I’m not that surprised. She has a lot to say against the institution of marriage. I’m OK with that but that article I linked to was just sloppy generalizations.

My indoor garden for under $100 with IKEA stuff

For those of us without garden space, having a functional growing space has no easy fix. Even a bright window cannot provide enough light for growing veggies and most plants. I’ve been looking at indoor growing solutions. Most of them are hydroponic/aeroponic and are prohibitively expensive. I didn’t want a crazy setup that took up an entire room, nor did I want to spend hundreds of dollars only to have to abandon the project for some reason. So here’s my kit:

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Kitchen coffee center: just put it in a drawer!

One of the main goals for my new kitchen was to find a solution for my coffee stuff. In our previous space, it was sort of confined to a corner of the counter, but still took up counter space and still was an eyesore. Since I use a stove top coffee maker and/or a French press, I hand wash the parts and need a place to dry them. Again, that takes up counter space.

So what do we have in total? A coffee grinder, a hot water kettle, a couple of coffee pots that are used regularly, canisters of beans, a milk frother, coffee stirrers, sugar… these really add up!

The solution is using one of my drawers in our new IKEA kitchen as a hidden coffee station. It turns some of the IKEA parts that go with the Bygel rail system seem to fit nicely on the rails for the drawer. As you can see, I’ve got some of the smaller items in the Bygel cups and have used one of the baskets for drying my coffee pot. I’ve put an old cloth underneath so the drawer doesn’t get wet, and have also taken a small cloth bag and put some uncooked rice in it to absorb any leftover humidity (you can’t see it in the photo but it’s there. It’s about the size of a golf ball). So far, so good.

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Vote for our kitchen on The Kitchn’s Small Cook Kitchens Contest!

The LA Lady's IKEA Adel DIY Kitchen

 

Happy Friday! Looks like our kitchen made it onto the list so click here or click the yellow graphic below and vote for our kitchen!

 

 

Also wanted to note: I think I’ll only occasionally be doing Friday Linkathon since not a lot of folks read it, so I’ll just post one if there’s something timely to announce.

 

Green alternative to oven cleaner: The (lazy) Baking Soda method

Oven cleaning is usually the toughest cleaning job in a home. Conventional oven cleaners are also one of the most toxic cleaning substances in you home, too. And the self-clean feature? This mode can fry the electronics in your modern range and many appliance sales associates don’t recommend it.

I propose this: the easiest, greenest and laziest method of cleaning an oven.

First, plan on not using your oven for 24 hours.

Get out a large bowl. Start with adding one cup of baking soda. Grab a cup of warm water and start drizzling it into the baking soda until it forms a soft paste… somewhere between toothpaste and clay and wet sand. If you’ll be cleaning the sides or top of your oven, you might have to experiment with the consistency and make sure it’s not too crumbly.

The inside of your oven will be white and chalky. No worries. Now here’s the lazy part: wait 24 hours. You can wait 12 if you’re impatient or have a baking emergency. Even if you forget about it and a week later realize you did this to your oven, no worries.

When you’re ready to clean it up, get out the large bowl again and mix 1 part warm-to-hot water and 1 part vinegar. Start by picking up the large clumps with your hands or a brush and a dustpan. While this substance isn’t toxic, it might dry out your hands a bit so wear gloves if you’re concerned. Now that you’ve removed the major stuff, do a check and see if there are any stains still present. If so, dip a rag into the water and vinegar mixture, wring it out well and using the baking soda residue, scrub that stain away. Don’t worry: you won’t harm the surface.* Scrub in a circular motion. If this still isn’t coming off, add a little more baking soda to the spot and let it sit while you clean the rest of the oven. To clean up the leftover baking soda, saturate your rag a little more heavily and keep wiping until there are no more traces of white powder. If it seems like there’s still a fine grit of residue on the surface, put some vinegar in a spray bottle, spray the whole surface and wipe down with a dry cloth. The vinegar will dissolve the baking soda à la elementary school volcano for the science fair.

The result is a clean oven without using oven cleaner and without a ton of work (in this blogger’s opinion, of course).

As a side note, I’ve tried cleaning ovens with vinegar solutions, including vinegar infused with orange peel which is usually a great grease-cutter. I think it works well on surfaces like counters but baked-on grease needed something grittier. If it was a delicate surface, I’d try Bon Ami. It’s my favorite when I need to scrub something like stainless steel or enamel cookware.

*if you have a fancy oven that’s made with a material other than the blue or black painted metal that most ovens have, be sure to test a spot first. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a stainless steel or ceramic oven interior but I’m sure it exists. Baking soda, while gentle enough for fabrics, just might scratch a delicate surface.
 
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