Sara Godwin

Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page

Start the Year Right with the Perfect Travel Wardrobe

In Baby Boomers, New York, San Francisco, Travel on December 28, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Life is easier when the clothes you need for travel are already in your closet.  The after-Christmas sales are looming large on the horizon, so now is the time to put together your shopping list for the savvy   traveler ‘I can pack in less than an hour’  wardrobe.

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The Core:

Women: A pair of stretch blue jeans;  a black T-shirt; a black turtleneck sweater;  a blazer; good-looking oxfords and/or riding boots.

Women can add two black skirts, one long, one not, and one pair of black, one pair of  gray tailored pants.  Next pick out a couple of tank tops, one white, one red.  Last are the shoes: one pair of black flats, one pair of black pumps, and one pair of  walking shoes.

Men should have a pair of fitted jeans; a black T-shirt; a black turtleneck sweater;  a tweed jacket (with or without leather elbow patches) and/or a navy blue blazer; black loafers and/or low-cut boots.

Men will want to add a white T-shirt, a red polo shirt, a black crew-neck sweater , one permanent-press oxford-cloth blue long-sleeved shirt, two pair of wool slacks, one gray, one black,  and a bomber jacket or black ski  jacket. For shoes, toss in a pair of loafers, a pair of low-cut boots, and a pair of clean running shoes.

The rest is all accessories. A black-and-white  muffler, a bright red scarf,  black gloves, and a great hat.  For jewelry, all men need is an easy-to-read watch. Women should have the easy-to-read watch plus a pair of pearl studs, a rope of pearls or a gold necklace.  Make it all costume jewelry, please — it looks great, and it will save you a world of worry.   The idea is to look terrific, not to set yourself up as a mark for a grab-and-run robbery.  For a purse, carry a lightweight tote, big enough for your laptop or tablet, your cell phone, wallet/passport, and cosmetics. For men, a good-looking courier’s bag or lap-top carrier will serve the same purpose. A small collapsible umbrella in solid black, bright red,  or a zebra-stripe pattern will ward off wind and rain, and look stylish while it’s doing it.

That’s a little more than a dozen  items plus accessories, and it will all fit easily into a carry-on.  You will probably want some underwear: lingerie and pantyhose or briefs and white T-shirts. Roll them up as small as you can, and tuck them in the toes of your shoes.

A pea-coat or bomber jacket finishes your look, and keeps you warm, too.

How many outfits can you get out of this collection?  It’s pretty amazing.  Here’s a quick list:

For women to travel in:

1. Jeans, black turtleneck sweater, red scarf,  bomber jacket, and boots.

2. Black slacks, black turtleneck sweater,  hounds-tooth scarf, pea coat, and black-and-white oxfords.

For men to travel in:

1. Jeans, red polo shirt, black crew-neck sweater, red muffler, black ski jacket, and black loafers.

2. Gray slacks, black turtleneck sweater, black-and-white muffler, tweed jacket, and low-cut boots.

For casual meetings, women can have a pulled-together look by combining a black mid-length skirt, white tank top,  a chunky gold chain, black-and-white muffler, blazer,  and black pumps.   For coffee with friends, try gray tailored pants, a black turtleneck sweater , the bomber jacket, and black flats.  Lunch with your parents? Black slacks, red tank top, red scarf, pea coat, and boots.  Just out for a walk?   Jeans, a black T-shirt, bomber jacket, and oxfords. Dinner with somebody special? Long black skirt,  black turtleneck,  pearl earrings and the rope of pearls, black-and-white muffler, blazer, and black  pumps.

It works just as well for men.   For a casual meeting: Black slacks, white T-shirt, black turtleneck, black-and-white houndstooth muffler, ski jacket, and low-cut boots.  For a more formal meeting: Gray slacks, blue oxford cloth shirt,  black crew-neck sweater, navy blue blazer,  and loafers.  Lunch with friends: Jeans; red polo shirt; black crew-neck sweater; red muffler; ski jacket; and boots. For a brisk walk on a cold day: Jeans, black T-shirt; black turtleneck sweater;  houndstooth muffler;  ski jacket; and  sneakers. Taking your parents to dinner: Gray slacks; white T-shirt; black turtleneck sweater; black-and-white houndstooth muffler; tweed jacket, and loafers.

That’s five outfits plus the one you traveled in, for six, all together.  These are clothes you can wear in New York, San Francisco, London, Paris or Rome, and fit right in. Best of all, these are all pieces that are as useful at home as on the road.

Pick out the best fabrics you can afford, make sure everything fits well, and don’t buy anything unless it’s comfortable.  Nothing is  a good  buy if you never wear it. Natural fabrics generally look and wear best: Cotton, silk, wool, and cashmere all qualify. Blends of these fabrics also look great. They can all be hand-washed with  mild soap in cold water, and hung or laid flat to dry. In a pinch, ask the hotel housekeeper to toss them in the dryer on the  ‘cool’ or ‘delicate’ setting.  The exception is jeans.  Buy jeans in a stretch blend fabric.  They’ll fit better, be more comfortable on a long flight, and are less likely to be baggy at the knees when you arrive.  Most important, you’ll  be ready to go anywhere anytime, just in case someone you love should happen to call from Paris and say, “Come at once!’

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It’s Winter: Sleep Well!

In Fitness, Health, Travel on December 22, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Winter’s long nights make it easier to sleep well because people sleep better when it’s dark. Lack of sleep has some really nasty downsides: Fatigue, irritability, lower productivity, and a greater likelihood of driving accidents.  Yet even when people feel tired, they often have trouble getting to sleep. Here are some techniques for getting a good night’s sleep.

1. Prepare for tomorrow tonight.  Lay out your clothes (and the children’s), make sure your car keys, your purse, your wallet,  and transit passes are set out in front of the door so you can’t walk out without them.  Make a list of what needs to be done the next day.  Put any dirty dishes in the dishwasher so the kitchen is ready for you to make breakfast when you wake up in the morning. Mute the ring on your cell phone, and charge it in any room but your bedroom.

2. Turn on the bed.  Electric bed warmers that go under the sheets are widely available on-line and at shops like Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Just push the button to the setting you like best.  I generally set it on high, and turn it to low just as I crawl into my warm, toasty bed.  Flannel sheets are soft and warm, and the help you — and the bed — stay warm through the night.

3. Take a hot shower. It’s amazing how hot water relaxes your body and rinses away tension and stress.  A warm bath or a soak in the hot tub will accomplish the same thing.  Your muscles relax, and your head follows suit.  Besides, it’s especially pleasant to go to bed feeling fresh and clean.

4.  Put on your pajamas, bathrobe, and slippers.  They should all meet the criteria of clean, soft, and warm. Bribe your partner — chocolate usually works — to rub any or all of the above: Scalp and face; neck and shoulders; feet and calves.  In the absence of a bribable party, try one of those massage vibrators with round or concave discs.  (They are especially effective on the face and forehead when your head feels tight and stuffy.)

5. Make yourself a warm drink. Hot chocolate, a fragrant herbal tea, or simple hot water with a slice of lemon are all perfect for sipping quietly. While you’re sipping, breathe slowly and deeply.

6. Brush your teeth, brush your hair, set the alarm clock, turn the bed warmer to ‘low’, and snuggle into your warm, comfy bed.  Make sure you get to bed early enough to get eight  or nine hours of sleep. That means into  bed by  9:30 or 10:00 pm, up and out at 6:am or 7:am.  Adjust as needed.

7. Close your eyes and relax each part of your body individually: Head, face, shoulders, arms, torso, legs, and feet. Mutter a mantra as you do this. “I release, I relax, I let go”  works. Breathe slowly and deeply.

8. Think of five things that make you happy or five things for which you’re grateful.

9. Kiss somebody good-night.

10. Drift off.  Sleep well!

Having a bedtime ritual helps people fall asleep more easily.  Having a place that’s dark, warm, comfortable, and quiet helps, too.  If  there is  noise from neighbors or traffic, mask it with soft music or white noise recordings of rippling water or waves lapping.    Shut out really loud noise with earplugs.  If stress and worry are keeping you awake, remind yourself that whatever the issues are, worrying won’t resolve them. Comfort yourself that a good night’s sleep and a new day very well may. You will waken to a bright morning feeling refreshed. Have a great day!

Little Luxuries and Simple Pleasures: Happy Winter Solstice

In Baby Boomers, Health, Weather on December 22, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Little Luxuries and Simple Pleasures: Happy Winter Solstice.

Little Luxuries and Simple Pleasures: Happy Winter Solstice

In Uncategorized on December 22, 2012 at 3:45 pm

It’s cold, it’s wet, and the wind is wild.  Time to stay indoors where it’s warm, dry, and comfortable.  This post wishes to address the comfortable part in particular, and the fact that it can be really hard to crawl out of a cosy bed and face getting dressed in the cold and dark.  One way to make it easier is to have some things to look forward to. Try these:

1. Put your clothes out the night before so you don’t stand shivering in front of the closet, all rumpled and grumpy, trying to decide what to wear.  Take those clothes and toss them in the dryer, and turn it on for five minutes. If getting dressed means wearing a suit or a skirt, toss in your socks, T-shirt, and underwear . What you want is the stuff that touches your skin.

2. Turn on the coffee maker and make a couple of cups of hot water. When it’s done burbling, take one cup and make your coffee or tea.  Take the other cup, and pour it over a clean washcloth.  If it’s steaming, breathe in the steam until the washcloth feels hot, but not scalding. Press the washcloth against your face.  It will shock you how good it feels.

3. Brush your teeth, then your hair. (Don’t worry about what your hair looks like; you’re going to pull a watch cap over it anyway.)  By now, the tea has cooled to potable, so take your first sip. Again, it’s startling how good it tastes.

4.  Here’s the best part: Grab your stuff out of the dryer, and step into toasty  clothes.  The day looks brighter immediately.

5. Have a healthy breakfast you can put together quickly.  If you  make a batch of  hard-boiled eggs Sunday night, you have the breakfast basics for a week. In the morning, you can make a couple of pieces of hot, buttered toast, but I prefer English muffins or crumpets with orange marmalade or lemon curd. It’s one more thing to look forward to. Keep some fruits or vegetables that don’t require preparation in the refrigerator: Tangerines, grapes, pre-sliced jicama, celery sticks, baby carrots, grape, cherry, or pear tomatoes, or shelled edamame (soy beans). Add a small glass of milk, and, of course, your tea or coffee. It’s the ideal breakfast: It tastes good,  it’s filling, it looks pretty on the plate, and you feel smugly virtuous for having had a healthy breakfast.  Smugly virtuous is by no means a bad way to start the day.

There’s one more lovely little luxury my husband arranged when he built our house.  He routed one of the heating ducts into the coat closet.  Pulling on a warm coat, hat, and gloves makes going outside into the cold feel like not such a bad idea.  If you have heated seats in the car, turn the seats and the heater on.  It is both a simple  pleasure and a  great  luxury to be warm when it’s cold outside.

Winter solstice is the shortest day of the year.  From here on out the days will get longer and brighter — and that’s a good thing to look forward to, too.  Happy Winter Solstice!