Finding the Right Travel Backpack

Cody and I will be traveling to the UK and Ireland this November and we have made the bold decision to pack, for two weeks, in one backpack each. For two people who are ALWAYS “that person” who has the overweight suitcase at the airport, this poses to be quite the experiment for us. We knew, traveling in late fall, we would also be packing relatively bulkier clothing so that adds an extra challenge. Here are my steps for how the “over-packer” chose a great backpack to travel with.

  1. Pinterest/Google Search “travel backpacks”

I started my search very broad because I have never packed for more than 2 days in a backpack. I had to get a sense of what a real “backpacker’s” rucksack looks like in order to see just how much weight I would be carrying around. I have to admit, I was pretty overwhelmed at first seeing all the very large camping backpacks that are used most often. Props to all you long distance backpackers, you’re a travel inspiration.

2. Decide what size bag you will actually need

As Cody and I will actually be staying in multiple hotels, not camping, we decided we would only need a bag equipped for carrying clothing and a few small essentials. Our trip will be full of busy day and overnight trips in different places, so we won’t have one main hotel to keep our belongings in day-to-day. Out next search was for “day tripper” so-to-say backpacks. These bags were about 20″x16″x6″ in size and held about 25L of necessities.

3. Finding the right brand for you.

Next up was narrowing down a few brands we thought would be reliable and looks that wouldn’t completely scream “I’m wandering through the wilderness for the next year” (although I really wish we were) since we will be carrying them around all day every day of our trip. The three brands we chose were PolerDakine, and Nixon. All of these brands have great reviews for the quality of their products and had bags we both fell in love with.

4. Finding a shop to try out these backpacks.

It is extremely important, if you are ordering a bag online, to see it in person first. Feeling the quality of the material, poking around in the bag to get a feel for just how much room it really provides, and trying it on to make sure it will be comfortable are essential for something you will have to rely on for two weeks away from home. All of these websites provided a “locate product provider” option to find a retail store near us so we could have a look for ourselves.

shredshop

The Shred Shop is our local skate, snowboard, ski and outdoor activity shop and they absolutely did not disappoint. Thought they did not have every bag we looked at for sale in their store, they had a great selection of some we saw and some we hadn’t heard of! The staff were extremely knowledgable about all the rucksacks they had in stock and successfully helped Cody and I find the perfect backpacks.

5. Purchasing your dream backpack

Hurray, you’ve found a backpack! Here comes the less fun part, paying for your shiny new bag. Good, reliable bags cost anywhere from $75 to $300 so be prepared to pay. If you have found your bag in a store, great! Close your eyes and hand they cashier your credit card like I did (you’ll find I hate spending money so big purchases make me queasy). If you’re purchasing online, make sure to write down ALL the bag’s information. Include brand, style, sizing as many bag styles have “compact” versions, and any other defining qualities of said bag. Maybe even take a picture if that retail store permits it, some do not.

The bags Cody and I chose are the Dakine Rucksack  and  Nixon’s “The Origami” Rucksack. Both hold about 26L of packing supplies and are made of very durable fabrics.

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What are your favorite bags to travel with? Do you have any tips on narrowing down a packing list? Are you a converted over-packer to minimalist? We’d love to hear from you!

 

 

*This post contains sponsored links. I may be compensated for any purchase made through these links.

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Planning a Family trip to Emerald Isle, North Carolina

It all started a few months ago, when our mothers decided, that since it is so rare for us to get time off to visit both families separately, we should plan a combined family vacation. Between me trying to find enough time off for an actual vacation, Cody trying to find at least a week break in the baseball schedule so he wouldn’t have to worry about work, and Cody’s sister starting a brand new job so close to the summer, this proved to be an ALMOST impossible task. Our family, being the absolutely incredible people they are, were able to work around our crazy schedules and find the perfect amount of time off for a vacation so, the perfect week in June was marked on our calendars as VACATION!

Next came the task of deciding where to go. As it would be a summer trip, we were all intrigued by the idea of a great beach vacation. Cody’s family lives in Louisiana, my family lives in Massachusetts and Cody and I currently live in Chicago, IL. This was our next great feat. Find a vacation spot that would be fair for all travel-wise and, voila, North Carolina fell into play.

After some thorough researching, some intake of what everyone was interested in seeing and doing on this vacation (mostly just hanging on a beach) and establishing a fair price range, the search for a place to stay began. The “Outer Banks” of North Carolina seemed to be a family favorite as it sits on the coast of North Carolina therefore, I did a quick map check of the driving distance for each family. We found that the southern outer banks would be about a 14 hour drive for each family and decided it was most fair to each drive an equal distance.

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Time to search for some beach houses. I used the website Home Away to look for some reasonably priced beach front properties in the southern outer banks and was stunned by all the great results I got. Searching for a house that sleeps 8 adults and 1 child, beach front, and within a certain radius I expected my results to be limited.

After narrowing down our search to 3 options, we chose a great beach home in Emerald Isle, North Carolina. This 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom sea-side abode that sleeps 10 comfortably was the perfect choice for, what it seems will be, an AMAZING beach getaway.

Not only is the house beach-front, but it is also near many intriguing in-town activities. From Emerald Isle’s town website we found that, near by, we would be able to go kite surfing, fishing, boating, golfing, go-carting, and much much more if we start to get a little restless on the beach (doubtful in my case 😉 ).

Finally, our vacation was decided and booked. Next up PACKING for a week in Emerald Isle, North Carolina. Check out our packing essentials for NC here!

Where are your favorite beach get-aways? Have you ever been on a large family vacation?

 

 

*This is not a sponsored post. I will NOT be compensated for any purchases made through these links.

On The Needles (Seed Stitch Cowl)

My latest obsessions have been the awesome texture of the seed stitch pattern and this gorgeous taupe color so, what better way to celebrate it than make it a big cozy cowl out of it! It took MANY knits and pull-aparts to decide exactly what size I wanted this cowl to be but finally have decided!

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Now, I’m still writing up an official pattern but, I can tell you what I used!

  • Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick in Taupe
  • Size US 15 (10mm) needles
  • K1, P1, seed stitch pattern
  • 30 stitches
  • about 25 inches in length

If you test it out, I’d love to see your work! What are some patterns you love?

 

 

The Vagina Monologues

I have been neglecting my poor bookshelves lately and haven’t made any time to sit down with the many books I want to read. This past weekend I was so greatly torn between knitting, reading, cleaning, and snuggling with my kittens that I couldn’t choose just one or two things to do at once. I have been interested in Amazon’s new Audible app for books on audio so, I figured this weekend would be the perfect time to finally try it out.

I follow Emma Watson’s “Our Shared Shelf” book club and “The Vagina Monologues” was the most recent book on the list. I was pretty excited to see this book come up on the list as I have been trying to get myself to read it and/or see the play for over 4 years now when I first heard about it in my time as an undergrad in Louisiana. I decided that this would be my first Audible download and I would spend the day knitting, cleaning, and snuggling all while being completely engrossed in this book!

There are only a few books that have taken complete control over every emotion I have and this happened to be one of them. I spent the day laughing, crying, in shock, angry and in disbelief and every minute of it was so inspiring. While one person may not be able to relate to all of the monologues, I can guarantee every woman on this earth can relate to at least one.

I am actually pretty glad I decided to listen to this book instead of read it because it felt as if I were sitting with each woman individually listening to their story and everything they had to say. This is a book I think I will listen to more than once because I have learned so much from it.

Have you ever read “The Vagina Monologues”? Have you ever seen it performed? What are your thoughts? Do you have any other book recommendations? I’d LOVE to hear! 🙂

On The Needles (AN ORIGINAL HAT PATTERN!)

This week, I decided to start taking my knitting to another level by creating and, eventually, publishing original patterns. I have had a bunch of patterns and inspirational designs drawn out in my “idea notebook” for a few months now and I am so excited to finally start taking them from the paper to my needles.

The first pattern I decided to work with is a fair isle hat. It may sound crazy but, my first two patterns (second pattern to be revealed next so stay tuned!) have been created with inspiration from baseball! The season starts officially in 1 month, with pitchers and catchers reporting, and I wanted to create something for the few months of baseball that will most definitely NOT be warm and sunny.


This pattern features diamonds and lines which remind me of the baseball diamond itself, the bases and the base lines. I chose this cranberry and cream mixture because it’s by far one of my favorite color combinations.


I am hoping to have the full pattern available  on both Etsy and Ravelry soon! But, for now, the tools I used in this pattern were:

What projects are you working on? Have you started anything new and exciting lately? Id love to hear from you! Have a happy Sunday fun-day!

On The Needles (7th inning stretch hat) 

Hello fellow baseball lovers, warm knit cuddlers, and Cubbie fanatics! My latest creation is the beloved 7th inning stretch or, 7th inning stitch hat in a stunning Cubbie cobalt blue with a cozy white fluff ball on top. 

The inspiration behind this hat comes from my love of baseball and the excitement swelling up inside me about the soon-to-be start of the new season!  Normally the baseball season reminds us of warm summer days and nights but, for the preseason that begins in just 1 month, I thought some warm cuddly garments were necessary to begin the celebration of our favorite teams! As the fair isle pattern I posted about prior to this one mimicked the baseball diamond, bases and base lines, this had dug a little deeper or sailed a little further into my love for the sport. I was inspired by the laced seams of a baseball. 

I absolutely swoon over big chunky knitted cables whether it be in a hat, scarf, sweater or anything knitted for that matter so, what better way to celebrate my love for cables than to create a new exciting pattern that shows off all their glory! 

With a super chunky yarn and size 8mm circular needles I knit a rib rim then, switching to size 10mm circular needles I began with the hat’s pattern. Very soon I’ll be posting the full version of my pattern to ravelry and etsy so check it out! 

Where do you get inspiration for your projects?! 

YARN SALE?! WHAT?!

I did a thing. I do this thing quite too often actually but, honestly, I am OK with it! I destroyed the shelves of a YARN SALE at Michael’s last weekend and I am not ashamed. When I can get all this fluffy greatness at an out-of-this-world price, i just about lose my mind.

It all began with an email. This email read, are you ready, BUY ONE GET ONE FREE YARN. I mean, come on, it’s just asking for a miniature freak out by yours truly. Cody and I had plans for date night Saturday evening, dinner and a movie, and we just so happened to be right next door to a Micheal’s craft store. My fabulous hubby let me take a detour on our date night and dealt with me gawking at yarn for a little while (brownie points are always given when he accompanies me on a yarn run).

It’s been a week now and I have worked my way through three new colors and garments and am currently working on creating an original hat pattern that I am hoping to share soon! To say I have a slight yarn obsession would be an understatement. I have so many projects in mind for all the wooly goodness staring at me from across the room right now, I just wish I had about 10 more hands to create them all at once!

Have you run into any crafting steals & deals lately? What projects are you working on? Let me know! 🙂

On The Needles (Air Snood by We Are Knitters) 

This is my first ever knit from the company We Are Knitters and let me tell you, I was NOT disappointed! Since I have finished this gorgeous plushy Air Snood, I have been frantically searching the couch cushions for all my pennies so I can get my hands on bunches and bunches more of their amazing products.

I can’t share the pattern and details of course but what I can say is that it is a stunning and very fun, easy pattern to follow for anyone, beginner to professional, to knit up in no time at all! If I can give you one suggestion, GO FOR THE FOREST GREEN WOOL! It’s gorgeous and such a flattering color on everyone in my opinion! There are SO many patterns by We Are Knitters that I am hoping to get my hands on in the very near future and I can’t wait to share my thoughts on those with you as well.

In February I will be attending a Knitting party here in Chicago hosted by just a few of the many knispirational people I follow. For an evening and a brunch the following morning we will be making a snood by We Are Knitters and a gorgeous, fluffy little hat by BettaKnit and I absolutely can not wait!

What projects are you working on? What are some of your favorite yarns? (I am ALWAYS looking for new scrumptious yarns!) Have you ever been to a knitting party? Love meet-ups with local crafters? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

 

#SLACKER

T’was the holiday season and all through the house Rachael did NOTHING. That’s it. I have taken my laziness to a whole new level and I think I am OK with it. This is the first holiday season where I haven’t been stressing about school and finals and/or simultaneously moving to a new place so, I took full advantage.

Thanksgiving came and went. I worked, my wonderful in-laws came in town, I enjoyed time with family and gained 3 pounds! It was great! Then, I worked my little buns off some more, Cody and I bought our first new car, (WOO!) and we prepared to pack up and head to Massachusetts to hang with my awesome family for Christmas! We flew, we visited, we laughed, gained 3 more pounds, then, before we knew it, we were headed back to Chicago.

This precious season comes once a year and I just couldn’t do anything but indulge in my family, so I sacrificed the blog and home projects so I could enjoy the company of the people I love for every single second.

Honestly, I think i needed the break. My everyday routine had become so monotonous that I was starting to lose sight of things. I was in a constant rut when it came to writing, I wanted nothing but to come home lay in bed and watch a movie and my knitting needles, well, they weren’t doing anything fresh and exciting. I had books lying around, unopened, just purchased that were dying to be read but I had no motivation to pick one up whatsoever.

Throughout this break, rekindling with family and friends meant SO much to Cody and I. It sparked, in me, creativity and imagination and, in Cody, motivation. For 2017 we vowed to live outside the rut or, never let the rut begin for that matter! Yes, our work schedules will remain the same but, our free time will be utilized differently. It is an actual challenge, especially in winter, to not come home and just snuggle up so, we are trying to go out more and we are designating game nights and other things to keep us together and semi-spontaneous if you will.

So, here’s to 2017 and all the possibilities it withholds!

On the Needles (Double Seed Stitch Blanket)

It’s currently a VERY unreasonable temperature here in Chicago, so in light of my toes freezing off, I’m knitting a chunky, cozy, textured blanket! The best part about knitting a blanket is it keeps you warm as you work! WOO winner winner! Yes, obviously you need to get some length on the blanket for it to start keeping you warm but, the warm wooly-ness of the yarn at least helps keep your fingers warm as you gain length!  


I chose a white/cream color with some black and tan accent particles woven in to add a little life to the simple, but lovely, textured double seed stitch pattern of the blanket. 

Hers a short overview of my blanket pattern:

  • Super Bulky yarn 
  • Size 15mm (US 10) circle needles 
  • 150 stitches 
  • Double seed stitch pattern 
  1. K1, P1 to end of row
  2. Repeat row 1 
  3. P1, K1 to end of row 
  4. Repeat row 3
  • Repeat rows 1-4 until desired length

I hope you enjoy! How are you staying warm through this frigid weekend?! Stay toasty!