I grew up spoiled with travel, my mother constantly planning big family vacations. Even in college, I had the opportunity to spend a month in the south of Italy for a class. But when I first really started out on my own, took a good hard look at my school loan debt and meager income, I realized I wouldn’t be going anywhere for a while. It got me really down.
If we’re taking our debt and saving seriously, we immediately think can’t go anywhere, do anything, entertain, or buy anything special. And the blogosphere, with all of its wanderlusting and product-coveting, doesn’t help. And it’s so demoralizing to feel like you can’t even try anything new. But when I look back at my last few years–the ones where I scraped by, took a paycut, and paid off my loans–I see I’ve had a pretty beautiful life. Trying to save has only made me more creative and resourceful in the adventures I create, and microbudgets on films I production designed only sharpened by discretionary skills. I’m definitely still learning, but I hope to share the accessible fun I discover along the way. Which leads me to Party Down…
The idea of this column is to showcase roundups of parties/day trips/dates/interior design/events/experiences/etc that total $100 or less in cost. (The dollar amount is taken from Anna’s Spending Diet guidelines–it’s how much she gave herself each month to spend on “non-needs.”) Having a few little luxuries in life can go a long way in inspiration, and there is so much we can still experience on tight budgets. Party Down is about getting the stretching your dollar to get the most out of it, while still enjoying things like quality design and special occasion experiences.
I’ll be posting at And Then We Saved every week with new roundups–here’s the first post! Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on living well while saving!
When we hopped on a plane from NY to Asheville, North Carolina, where my best friend Aly now resides in a cabin in the woods, I was expecting some serious chill time. I was not expecting it to be the coolest little city I may have ever been. And if New York was exhausting, Asheville was relaxing, but I was delightfully stunned by exactly how much there was to do and be inspired by. It’s certainly rural, home to lovely farmland, forests, and spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but also serves up tons of local brewing, a big arts community, a big music scene, and really, really good food. There are no “bars” in North Carolina, which means the bars have to serve a certain percentage of other stuff–and local, organic tastiness abounds everywhere. Downtown, I had the smoothest martini of my life–the barkeep was an artist–at a cool lounge-y bar, drank champagne in a cozy book exchange, and got a $7 beer flight and yummy meal at a rad brewery. Without traffic or parking concerns! We also took in the Biltmore Estate, which is as close to an American castle as exists. (Picture Downton, but bigger and fancier). The gorgeous grounds, which were designed by the landscaper of Central Park, now include a little wine village, where we tasted everything–and Malbec twice. In the River Arts District, we had perfect BBQ and southern sides at 12 Bones, an apparent favorite of Obama’s, when he’s in town, and popped into some nearby artist studios to browse. I loved this artist who makes porcelain dining pieces using antique lace. Beyond our awesome exploration, our cabin time included learning to shoot a bow and arrow, hiking around, and playing Settlers of Catan. It was insanely hard to leave, and I can’t wait to get back there.
ALSO: We didn’t see my friend Ryan while we were there because he was out on tour with his band River Whyless. But check them out!
Hello, lovelies! Thank you for forgiving my absence here. I’ve been a little wiped out since getting home from the big trip, with early mornings, time zone changes, jet lag, and daylight saving adding to the confusion. Here are a few highlights from the New York trip…
For the most part, we stayed at a friend’s apartment in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, and got to explore the area’s awesome restaurant scene a little bit. We tried a fois gras (which we don’t have in California) donut at Do or Dine and fell in love with the soul food and southern dranks at Peaches Hothouse. In Manhattan, we spent a little of time in Chelsea, discovering an awesome counter diner and taking in the High Line. On Friday, a minor blizzard hit just as my sister, who lives in Philadelphia, rolled into the city. We kept moving all day between indoor destinations, taking in MoMA and Rubirosa‘s vodka pizza (so good!), and then McSorely’s and NYU by the time the storm died down. My boyfriend’s mom treated us to a night in a Times Square hotel, which was a welcome relief in the cold and constant walking. The last day, we got up and went immediately to Di Fara, put in our order for a pie, and waited the hour and a half for the pizza many (including my boyfriend) claim to be the best in New York. Totally worth it. After attempting to walk some of it off through Prospect Park, we met a friend for a few drinks in Park Slope. All in all, it was exhausting, but full of great sights and great food, which is all I can ask for. The next morning, dark and early, we were off to Asheville, and I’ll be sharing that trip here soon…
This last trip to San Diego was one of the first where I went without any real plans, and ironically, I felt like I got to explore the city more than I ever really had. The friends we were visiting were unfortunately working Saturday when we rolled into town, so we killed time by checking out Balboa Park. I had no idea what to expect, but let me tell you, it is a masterpiece of parks & rec. You can park at any of the (huge number of) museums and just walk around for hours. There’s so much to take in, and it’s all gorgeous. That evening, we shared a steak dinner (a real rarity for me) at the Red Fox Room, which I had walked by many times, but never been inside. Connected to the historic Lafayette Hotel, it’s cozy, dim, and warm, with jazzy live music on weekends. A few martinis later, our friends met us there and completely the lovely evening.
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Just received my lovely new weekender bag, making my travel excitement all the more real. And it is every bit as cool as you would imagine. I was a dumb-dumb and entered my shipping address incorrectly, and when I realized it, Everlane sent me a new one right away at no charge. This is not the first time they’ve made customer service magic happen for me. Thanks, Everlane. <3