Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Todd and I have moved more times than just about anyone I know—from Virginia to South Carolina to Massachusetts and back to Virginia. Since moving into our first place together, a little condo in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., we have moved no less than eight times.
Do we like moving? Not particularly, but I don't think we view it with the same dread as most people. It's a simple matter of putting things in boxes, putting the boxes in a truck, taking the boxes out of a truck, and taking things out of the boxes—it's not rocket science.
That's why we've never hired a moving service. Don't get me wrong—I think about it every single time. But then I think about how I could spend those thousands of dollars on new furniture for my house, or a trip. So we buck up and do it ourselves.
That said, it's not fun. I get stressed out just like everybody else. But over the years I've figured out a few ways to ease the process.
Start early. It's so much easier to start packing a month or two before your move than waiting until the week of. You don't want to go overboard, but start in the rooms you rarely use (basement, guest room), and pack a little bit each day. As you finish, stack the boxes in an out-of-the-way place so you don't trip over them. When moving week arrives, a lot of your stuff will already be packed.
Purge, purge, purge. This is the perfect opportunity to get rid of crap you don't need anymore. Be brutal, and you'll discover that cleaning out your wardrobe/drawers/closets is actually crazy addictive. Again, don't go overboard.
Leave your clothes in the dresser. I used to pack up all of my clothes in boxes. Then I realized that they're already in perfectly sized boxes—they're called dresser drawers. Just move the fully intact drawers into the dresser in the truck.
Start challenging yourself to skip the grocery store a few weeks before your move. No one likes to throw away good food. Instead, try to make as many meals using the food in your cabinets/freezer/refrigerator as you can. And when you run out of options, it's OK to order takeout. Doing dishes only adds to the stress-fest.
Make a cleaning checklist. I usually err on the side of too-clean when we move because I don't want to give the landlords any reason to keep my security deposit. To avoid a last-minute marathon cleaning sesh, I start cleaning long before move-out day, spacing out jobs like wiping down cabinet fronts and cleaning out the refrigerator over the course of a few weeks. By the time we head out, the house is mostly clean, save for a quick sweep.
Get to know your moving truck. If you've never driven a moving truck before, take some time to get to know it. Packing that sucker requires some finesse—if it's imbalanced, you could have a very tough drive. And be hyper-aware of height limitations on bridges and overpasses. We very nearly had a run-in with a historic bridge in Connecticut.
Friday, September 12, 2014
A lot of people were shocked to hear that Todd and I are moving to Richmond. For us, it makes perfect sense. We have a list of criteria that we want in a hometown, and when we started thinking about moving, we carefully evaluated various cities (like Nashville, D.C., and Charlottesville) with those things in mind. Richmond won out for these reasons:
|Richmond Mural Project|
|Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden|
Cost of Living. Home prices in Richmond are significantly lower than anywhere else we looked. We wanted to buy, and we wanted to get the most bang for our buck. Huge selling point.
Location. Richmond is close to both of our families as well as a quick drive to the mountains, the coast, and Washington, D.C.
Character. This factor is probably the hardest to define, but most important. It's some combination of history, architecture, people... and some other things, too. You won't know it until you visit the city in person. Nashville has its own character, but it didn't speak to us. Richmond did, loud and clear.
Choosing a hometown is a hugely personal decision. But when you break it down, it's actually pretty simple. What are your most important criteria when choosing a city?
Monday, September 8, 2014
When I moved away from Charleston after six years, I left behind this guide to the city. Now that I'm leaving Boston, I thought I should do the same. I was here just over a year, but I got pretty good at showing visitors around (especially after working as the editor of a visitor's guide). So here it is: Whiskey Kittens' Official Guide to Boston.
There are so many nice hotels in this city, but I always recommend choosing one with a bit of character and history attached to it. The Liberty Hotel, located at the foot of Beacon Hill, once served as the Charles Street Jail. Today it's a super stylish, luxurious place to rest your head — or grab a drink. If you're more cop than robber, the Loews Boston Hotel is in the city's old police headquarters. The newly renovated limestone building is located right in the bustling Back Bay. For something a little more luxurious, try the Fairmont Copley Plaza overlooking Copley Square, which has been in business since 1912. The hotel has a "canine ambassador," a fancy bar, and it's also where they filmed some scenes from American Hustle. None of these hotels are cheap, so if you're on a budget, just try Priceline or the Hotel Tonight app to find a deal.
After a year in the city, I didn't even begin to scratch the surface of the restaurants here. With new restaurants opening up constantly, it's nearly impossible to stay on top of it. But I did discover a few favorites. My number one Boston restaurant is Toro, a dark, always-crowded tapas spot in the South End. Try to snag a spot on the sidewalk patio, order a bottle of Spanish wine, and order more tapas than you think you can eat. You won't regret it. Keep the multicultural theme going by heading to Chinatown for some noodles (Gourmet Dumpling House or Peach Farm), and for authentic Italian, follow your nose to the North End, the oldest neighborhood in Boston.
Of course, you can't visit Boston without getting some seafood. I recommend hitting up an oyster bar like Neptune, B&G Oysters, or Row 34 for some New England oysters and a lobster roll. For dessert, my favorite bakery is by far Flour, and luckily there are locations all over the city.
A word of warning: Cocktails are not cheap in Boston. Just how expensive are they? I accidentally paid $22 for a gin gimlet once, but they average around $15. But if you're a sucker for fancy cocktails, like me, you'll want to splurge a bit. Wink & Nod is a cozy speakeasy-style bar in the South End, and Drink is highly acclaimed for its custom creations. Over in Cambridge, both the food and drink menu at Commonwealth is playful and innovative, and Charlie's Kitchen has some of the cheapest drinks and food I've found in the area — plus they have a beer garden.
|Acorn Street, Beacon Hill|
Boston is a small city, and very walkable — you can easily see the highlights on foot in just a day or two. The city's must-see sights are anchored around the Back Bay, from the shops of Newbury Street to the meticulously landscaped Public Garden. Visitors love to take a ride on the amphibious Duck Tours that take you past all of the key attractions and into Boston Harbor. If you love art, a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and/or the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum are in order. If you'd rather just mosey, check out Faneuil Hall, the North End, and Beacon Hill (Acorn Street, pictured above, is quite possibly the most photographed street in America).
Depending on the season, there's likely some sort of sporting event going on, whether a Red Sox game at Fenway Park or a Celtics or Bruins game at TD Garden.
|Boston Public Library|
A few other places to see if you have time: the Boston Public Library, Trinity Church, the Esplanade, Top of the Hub, and the SoWa Market on Sundays.
Enjoy your visit to Boston!
Enjoy your visit to Boston!
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just spit it out: We’re breaking up. Our time together has been amazing, but I just don’t see a future for us together.
To be honest, I never really saw this as a long-term thing. I came into it knowing it was a fling before settling down. And you showed me a good time, giving me the thrill of living in a major city, introducing me to new people, and reminding me that there’s so much more life beyond the little world I’d been living in for so many years.
We explored the landscapes of New England together, from Maine to Boston’s harbor islands, and it was so refreshing to get away from the familiarity of the South. I fell in love with the rugged northern coast and the lighthouses and the quaint little towns that seem to be around every corner. You took me to a Red Sox game and sunset concerts by the Charles River. I even fell in love with your accent.
And while it wasn’t the longest relationship ever, you did change me for the better. I used to be nervous in cities, scared to walk around on my own and intimidated by public transportation. I learned to be more independent and confident, and now I feel like I could find my way around anywhere alone. I learned that I can survive a harsh New England winter. And you gave me the push I needed to take my career to the next level (and Todd’s, too!).
I had thought we might make it through another winter together, but things have changed. Several things, in fact, have happened in the last year that have made me reassess where I want to be. And I just don’t want to be 10 hours away from my family in a crappy, overpriced rental.
It’s true—I’ve been cheating on you for months now. Looking at pictures of houses in other cities and fantasizing about what life would be like somewhere else. And while it started out as a diversion, it eventually became a bit of an obsession. And when I discovered that my dream house was on the market back home in Virginia, everything fell into place.
This isn’t just any house, you understand. It’s the kind of house I saw myself buying 10 or 15 years down the road, when I was a real grown-up. It’s big and historic and beautiful, and when I look at it I see Christmas parties and baby nurseries and backyard barbecues. I realize I’m ready to settle down, in other words.
So thank you for the past 14 months, Boston. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I know we’ll see each other again before too long, and I hope we can still be friends.
P.S. Here's a picture of the new city in my life, in case you're interested.
Friday, August 22, 2014
Friday, August 8, 2014
It feels like summer is already drawing to a close here in Boston. The days are still warm, but the nights are getting deliciously chilly—I love pulling out the extra blankets and sleeping with the windows open. We've done a lot of traveling over the last few months, but some of our the best times have happened right here in town. Boston is pretty spectacular in the summer.
Here are a few of my favorite things I did this summer in Boston; if you hurry, you can do them, too!
- Shakespeare on the Common. Pack a picnic, bring a blanket, and watch a wacky rendition of Twelfth Night under the stars.
- Eating al fresco. The Red House (dollar oysters!) and Sweet Cheeks Q are a couple of the places I've fallen for.
- Red Sox game. No explanation needed.
- Hiking. I love that you can drive just a few minutes from the city and you're practically in the wilderness. Our new favorite is the Noanet Woodlands because we can bring the pup.
- Harborwalk Sounds at the ICA. Boston's contemporary art museum is free on Thursday nights, plus they have concerts by the water as the sun sets.
- Ice cream from JP Lick's.
- Swimming! There are tons of pools in the area ranging from posh rooftops to laid-back neighborhood pools. I wrote an article about it here.
- Concerts at the Hatch Shell. They cancelled the last one we tried to attend. Luckily there are a few more this season.
- Beach day in Revere. Love this photo essay (with sound!) about the city's beach.
- Whale watch. Because I'm sad I still haven't seen a whale.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Is it weird for an adult to want to buy stuffed animals? Not if they're as cute as Michelle Jewell's "Finks." I recently interviewed the artist for Charleston magazine. My favorite quote:
"No one questions the amount of stuffed sloths you own when you’re a toy maker. If I quit, I would just be weird again."Read the story here and check out her Etsy shop here.