How do I sell my furniture online?

When you decide to get rid of your furniture, you have a lot of options. Craigslist is one of the most tried-and-true methods of getting rid of stuff, especially if you want money in exchange. So, when you start to put your stuff on Craigslist for sale, how do you get started on the right foot? (Note: these guidelines work for LetGo, OfferUp, and Facebook as well!)

A lot of people will share vague tips, like “take good pictures” and “use good lighting.” They’ll say “write a detailed post.” They’ll tell you to “price it correctly,” and “be patient.” And while those things are true and somewhat helpful, what do they actually mean? How do you know what’s a good picture? What is the correct price? What details? HOW do you sell your furniture on Craigslist?

If you’re reading this, you’re already off to a good start. No, not because I’m an expert, but because that means you’re already committed to the idea of getting rid of furniture by selling it. That’s half the battle, and it brings me to the first tip:

  1. Commit to the idea of “you get out what you put in.” When you decide that9 questions about your furniture you’re going to sell something, decide that you will put a little extra oomph into your listing and your communications with people. Plan to take 10-15 pictures of each piece and post a minimum of 6-7 each. Plan to spend a half hour or so researching each piece to find out the right information. You’ll also want another half hour that you can spend writing the post. Be ready to spend a little more time than you would spend simply snapping a pic and posting it.
  2. Research your product. This may sound really weird because you already own it. What kind of research could you possibly have to do? A surprising amount. That’s something that stumped me when I sold our furniture on Craigslist, LetGo, and OfferUp: many people asked me super-specific questions. And, when I didn’t know, I lost the sale. So, let’s start with the basics. Do you remember what brand it is? How old it is? What it’s made of? Do you know how much it cost originally? Is it still available new? If you do know all of those things and then some, awesome! Go on and write that post (tip 5 includes some pointers for that). But if you don’t, see the picture to the right for some questions to try to answer before you write your post.
  3. Price your item fairly. But how do you know what’s fair? Sometimes, you can just
    Pricing Re-Sale Furniture
    Use this chart as a guideline to decide on a price for that beauty of a shelf you’re hoping to sell.

    put the price its worth to you. How much would you be willing to pay for it? The answer to that can be clouded by the sentimental value it has for you or how much you paid for it, causing you to overprice it. Which, trust me, you don’t want to do, especially not on Craigslist. Conversely, your dislike for it may cause you to price it way too low and lost out on a few (sometimes hundred) bucks. In other words, you may undervalue or overvalue it without a little extra legwork. Check out our little flowchart to help you price it. If you don’t have enough information or that little infographic looks crazy, then take what you paid for it and split it in half. Add a little more if it’s still relatively new and in great condition. Take away a little if it’s old (like just old, not antique or truly vintage), and a lot if it’s all messed up.

  4. Write a good post. People shop on craigslist for furniture because they are looking for a good deal. They also shop for those special finds that will add the character they need to their homes. But, how are they going to know that what you have is a good deal or a special find if you don’t tell them why it’s a good deal or what’s special about it? In other words, you’ll fare better if you describe your item rather than just naming it. And be honest, because people will figure it out or you’ll feel guilty and put bad karma into the world. Include the details in the infographic above. Use good grammar and punctuation, not because I’m a grammar nazi, but because good grammar and punctuation aid understanding. Hint: Use Grammarly in your browser if you’re not sure! 
  5. Take good pictures. But how?!! Well, I’m no photographer, but I do know that people won’t buy your item if they can’t see it. In my experience, there are three key steps you need to take to prep your item for a good picture. So, the first thing you need to do is make sure your camera isn’t smudged. Get a soft cloth and get the finger prints off. Give it an extra swipe, even if you think it is clean. The second thing you need to do is remove everything else from the picture. A photo of a couch surrounded by clutter does not give the person a good idea of what the couch looks like in everyday life, it distracts them and may even make them think you are lazy. If you’re not a professional stager, it is probably better not to stage it. Lastly, you need to find a way to light up the picture. If you can take a picture near a window on a bright day, do that. If you can face a lamp toward the piece, do that. Putting a white sheet behind the item or beside it to reflect light may also help. Hint: You can also try using the pre-filters on your phone’s camera if it has it. These are the filters you can use while taking the photo. 

I hope you found this article helpful. These tips are from personal experience, and I found that they helped me sell everything from leather couches to a footstool I bought in college.

What’s your experience with these methods? Do you have additional pointers? Share them in the comments or contact us!

 

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The Complete Cost of Our Tiny Wedding

As you may have picked up from other posts on our site, Chris and I had a very small IMG_3153wedding ceremony. Only occasionally do I get a pang of something reminiscent of regret for not having a big, romantic, crazy, stressful party for our wedding day… but then I look at our bank accounts and our debts, and I know we did what was right for us. And when I think of the “costs” we accrued and/or didn’t accrue, sometimes my more whimsical heart tells my head that the true “cost” is us missing out on our dream wedding. But then I realize what my heart really wanted was professional pictures documenting how awesome we, our families, and our friends are. Which would have been cool. So I suppose that was an emotional cost.

But anyways, without further I-do ado, here’s a truthful, up-front, in-your-face breakdown of the true monetary cost of our tiny wedding:

Officiant (Retired Judge): $75

When I called the local courthouses, none of the judges or magistrates were available to perform a marriage ceremony on such short notice. On a whim, I called a courthouse two towns over, hoping desperately to find someone who could help us make our chosen date of 3/20 (the spring equinox) work. I happened to get a person who had worked there for a bit, and she remembered hearing that one of the judges in the courthouse had a retired friend who still did ceremonies. So there you have it.

Marriage License Application: $80

 

Chris and I trekked over to the Bucks County Courthouse in Norristown one morning

IMG_3110
Chris marches on into the courthouse

before work and wandered into the courthouse. In Pennsylvania, marriage certificates are provided in something that is called the Orphans Court. Though the name incites a strange, dark guilty feeling, it’s a relatively happy place for a courthouse-cubicle environment. Pictures of people who completed their marriage ceremonies there are on the wall. We filled out information about ourselves and our family history on a computer that reminded me of my early childhood (and had probably been there since that time), keeping our little secret among ourselves.

 

 

 

My Look: $400

Grocery stores carry an oft-surprising array of flowers, even in March. Since we were on such a short timeline and the florists didn’t open until ten a.m. at the earliest, I opted for the grocery store option for my peace of mind. I decided on colors before I went shopping (I had always wanted yellow and white, and Chris’s mom’s favorite color was purple), so I focused my search that way. I checked Wegman’s, which had beautiful flowers but not in the right colors (and they couldn’t order them in time), and then went to TJ’s, where I found my yellow and white flowers. Giant came through for the purple flowers, and I got some sisal ribbon from Michael’s to create the boutonnieres and bouquet.

Chris’s Look: $275

What he wore: Suit with vest, two shirts, tie, socks, belt, shoes. Chris did his shopping in one trip, of course. He went sale-shopping like a madman and found everything plus a few back-ups for under $300. Proud fiancee moment.

Flowers: $40 (Trader Joe’s and Giant)

Grocery stores carry an oft-surprising array of flowers, even in March. Since we were on such a short timeline and the florists didn’t open until ten a.m. at the earliest, I opted for the grocery store option for my peace of mind. I decided on colors before I went shopping (I had always wanted yellow and white, and Chris’s mom’s favorite color was purple), so I focused my search that way. I checked Wegman’s, which had beautiful flowers but not in the right colors (and they couldn’t order them in time), and then went to TJ’s, where I found my yellow and white flowers. Giant came through for the purple flowers, and I got some sisal ribbon from Michael’s to create the boutonnieres and bouquet.

Rings: $80 for mine, $16 for his (Amazon)

So, Amazon apparently has a wealth of wedding bands and engagement rings. I’m not, by any means, arguing against going to a jeweler or ordering from Etsy. However, Chris and I found the selections on Amazon pretty extensive (with Prime shipping which gave us time to actually exchange his ring twice for size), and were able to choose one for him and for me. (The prices have gone up, but they are still amazingly low-priced!)

Venue: Free

One of the biggest commitments on your wedding day (other than… uh… your spouse) is

IMG_3121
The view from the gazebo of the walk up to our wedding venue, taken two days before we were to change our lives forever!

the venue you choose. It’s usually contracted, meaning you have to pay and they have to make it available. It also usually dictates how many people can come, how you can serve your food, and sometimes who will cater/take pictures/officiate. Knowing that about venues, I was a bit nervous when looking for one for us. I was afraid that would be the deal-breaker for our last minute plans and that we’d have to act like normal people and actually plan in advance. But alas! A week before we decided to just go ahead and get married, we had noticed something called “Hatfield Nature Area” on our ride home from work (one car was in the shop, so we were sharing). Chris had mentioned it off-handedly and I remembered it while sitting at work researching places to get this wedding under control. After a bit of phone tag with the township, they said “sure, go for it, congrats!” and we had the place booked for 11:00 on a Monday morning, free of charge.I never thought I would have a winter wedding

 

Lunch: $359.57

 

As much as it may seem like we missed out on a big wedding, the actual cost of the day was just that: the monetary cost. If I could do it all over again, I would have practiced a little more on my hair. But out of everything that was in my power, that’s all I would have changed.

Free Stuff to Do in Dublin: What Tops Our List

When you’re traveling, it’s easy to get caught up in the “but I’m only here for a short time” idea, which can make you justify spending money at places you may not need to spend money. But it’s not so hard to be budget-conscious at least some of the time in Dublin, where there are plenty of fun things to see and do for free.

We picked out our three favorite things so you can spread out your expenditures if you so choose.

  1. St. Stephen’s Green: This large park is smack in the middle of the city,  providing green and lush exhibits of nature amid the gorgeous and ornate architecture that makes up much of Dublin. As a visitor, one probably doesn’t really need a “respite” from the hub-bub of the city, but St. Stephen’s Green is still a great place to explore on a visit. As with many places in Dublin, St. Stephen’s Green is rife with history, and several statues accent the manicured (but not overly manicured) beauty that surrounds you. The park itself has an interesting history, and is in place today because international hero Alfred Guinness himself decided to reopen the park in the early 1900s.
  2. Dublin National Gallery of Art: Art galleries are always an excellent conduit into the values and tastes of a culture, and the Dublin National Gallery of Art is no exception. In fact, the statue of a man on a horse out front embodies this idea. The beautiful sculpture has an orange traffic cone on its head. If you’re going to go here, plan to spend a few hours as you would with any art museum. As a side note, we’d recommend seriously considering paying a little extra to take advantage of special exhibits. When we visited, “Lines of Vision” was there, a beautifully themed pairing of paintings and poems. It was so cool I bought three copies of the souvenir book.

    DSC0681
    Another picture of Sarah. This time she’s hanging out with Georgie.
  3. Dublin Printmakers Gallery: This stop is a little more off the beaten path, and it’s just a tiny place. However, it was a really cool way to see what working artists in Dublin are up to. After a walk down a long and steep cobblestone street, you’ll arrive at a little building with a little sign outside. This little diamond in the rough holds an amazing display of creative and expressive prints made by locals and international award winners alike.

This short little list can help you get started on your journey. Do you have favorite places in Dublin that are free? Share it with us so we can go when we return!!

First Time in Dublin, Ireland? Here are Three Touristy Things You Absolutely Should Do

AerLingus planes just look like you’re about to have a good time. Their almost-cheesy symbol of Irish luck stands out from the rest of the hunks of metal at an American airport, and the light, fun feeling they have is an apt introduction to a visit to Ireland.

I was actually surprised to see the cheerful design on the AerLingus planes, having thought that the Irish love of the four-leaf clover was an American perception. But alas, their festive national spirit does line up with many of those perceptions.

Warm from whiskey samples in the airport, we loaded the bird from the tarmac in Glasgow, and I was filled with a new sense of excitement for life. Somehow, that feeling didn’t leave me during our visit–and actually hasn’t left me since that trip in 2014.

 

Once we got off the plane and found our AirBnB apartment, we started with a self-guided spirits tour of the Temple Bar District, a famed party neighborhood. We turned to Rick Steves, even to find the party spots, and our first stop was a bar aptly named The Temple Bar. There, we discovered what was the norm at most pubs in Dublin: that craft whiskeys and Carlow Brewing Company beers are widely available. The next morning, we went back to the same area and encountered one of the first touristy things we highly recommend any Dublin visitor must do:

1. Eat a Full Irish Breakfast. Alcohol isn’t the only thing to consume in Dublin. A traditional full Irish breakfast really is a must-try for visitors. The Irish breakfast includes eggs, ham, potatoes, white pudding, and the infamously weird blood pudding (or black pudding). Rather than show you our own pics of Irish breakfast (I haven’t mastered the whole food photography thing just yet), I’m going to suggest you check out this recipe and the picture that goes with it.

An aside about blood pudding: The consistency of it is not at all that of pudding. In fact, when the server brought our plates, I thought they’d forgotten to include it. It is more like a cake than pudding, which at first tastes a bit like a peppered potato and finishes with an eerily true-to-its-name taste of iron.

Anyway, the traditional breakfast is a delicious way to start the day. The earthy, hearty flavors and textures help you connect to the area and give you tons of energy to face the day.

2. Visit the Guinness Museum and Storehouse. The Guinness Museum and Storehouse at St. James Gate, or “the Guinness Factory” as we called it, is kind more of an Experience  than a museum. You can walk through the museum on a self-guided, but heavily planned, tour that tells the story of how beer is made as well as national hero Arthur Guinness’s story.

 

3. Do a Literary Pub Crawl. It’s hard to be in Dublin without feeling the impact that writers have had on the city. That’s why it’s important to have an experience that blends two important Irish concepts together: books and booze. The popular tour, accurately called the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl, is led by two funny actors who happened to also love beer. The tour takes you to famous spots around the city, like Trinity College, O’Neill’s Pub, and O’Hara’s Pub.

Dublin is a welcoming city and it’s easy to feel comfortable there. And, even though its history is intense, it is also modern and mixes together centuries-old stories with those that happened yesterday. If you’re planning your first visit to Dublin, these three activities will introduce you to the culture and pride of the city. 

Forget Launching Something New, We’re Launching Stuff that’s Old

via Daily Prompt: Launch
Launch

Sometimes it feels like Chris and I are constantly in “launch” mode, so this seems like an appropriate word to use to start responding to these fun daily prompts from WordPress. Perhaps it is because we are millennials (by definition), or perhaps it’s because we are both not exactly happy in our daily work. Or maybe it’s because we have debt that we want to catapult ourselves out of and this is the only way we can feel like we are doing something.

Whatever is propelling us, it seems like there is always something new to think about. Right now, we’re trying to get this blog off the ground (and we have an ethereal deadline that we have to keep secret right now), and Chris plans to blog about his journey back to in-shape-ness, and I want to kick off my career as a freelancer. I also am trying to re-work my Poshmark, Vinted and Mercari profiles so that  my identity is more cohesive across the board. On top of that, I’m trying to learn to code and want to write a book.

But, as I’m writing this, I’m realizing that many of the things I apparently consider “new” are actually old ideas and tasks that I’ve been working on for years. Instead, it feels like they’re new because because I want to make them better before I can consider them “launched.” So, that means there are things we’re trying to complete, things we’re actually starting, and some things that are somewhere in between. Let me separate this out:

What we’re/I’m trying to complete:

  • This blog
  • Poshmark closet
  • Vinted closet
  • Mercari store
  • Coding lessons

What we’re actually starting:

  • Chris’s blog about getting back into shape

What’s somewhere in between:

  • My career as a freelancer (I was a freelancer not that long ago, but haven’t taken on freelance work in about a year and a half.)
  • Writing a book (I shan’t say how long I’ve been “working” on that.)

In all honesty, even Chris’s blog about getting back into shape has been on his mind for almost two years, so our one sort-of-brand-new thing isn’t brand new at all.

Why am I sharing all of this? I suppose the reason I want to flesh this out is because I’m frustrated. It seems that whenever I’ve read something about starting something new, (like how to start your own business, or how to start a blog, or how to write a book, etc.), the posts I’ve read often seem to be written as if the idea is brand-spanking new. They also often seem to be operating with the presumption that everyone is super-organized and has their life under control. Like someone can just start following the rules they put forth without consequence and without shifting things around.

But I believe that more people are like us in that they feel they always have ideas. We are constantly trying to start something new, even if the ideas that drive them are actually years old. And I don’t think we’re alone in that. Even people who don’t have “creative” endeavors like the ones I described are looking for a new job, or trying to save for a trip, or searching for a house, or looking for a better school for their kids.

It leads me to believe that the only way to complete anything is to embrace the chaos that is life and the chaos that ideas create and hang onto the threads of the things we really care about doing.

Chris and I really care about doing everything in the above list, even though it is really difficult to focus on them sometimes.

But, when I separate them this way from the things that seems to be getting in the way (namely, my full-time job that I don’t like, and the commute to said job), I can see them more clearly, and I can feel urgency about them like I’ve never felt about my work where I spend most of my time and energy.

I don’t think that “launching” has to refer only to the beginning of something. I think it refers to the feeling of starting something new, the feeling of taking hold of the reins and putting your life on the track where it belongs.

3 Vantage Points in Edinburgh You Don’t Want to Miss

When people first began to settle in the area that would become the city of Edinburgh, they did so for one major reason. The higher ground would offer protection against invaders. Something that might not have been at the forefront of their thought is the stunning views that the terrain—both man-made and natural—offered in several locations. While walking up the Royal Mile in Old Town or across Princess Street in New Town, it is easy to forget the city’s remarkable design. There are three viewpoints that let visitors take in more of the city and offer some memorable settings to capture the scenery.

View from Arthur's Seat back at the Castle

Arthur’s Seat

The Once and Future King didn’t pick this spot lightly. Arthur’s Seat resides on the top of an extinct volcano. But that shouldn’t dissuade anyone from trying this moderate hike to achieve arguably the best view in all of Edinburgh. Quite the opposite. Most days see both locals and visitors amassing on the sides of Arthur’s Seat to enjoy the hike. The hill offers several trails to claim the summit, each with a different degree of difficulty. The Salisbury Crags sit adjacent to the King’s Seat, an ideal location for rocking climbing (with the correct permit, of course). On your ascent, your route might take you by a pond or the Ruins of Saint Anthony’s Chapel. Both directions will take you to a 360 view of the area unlike any other. At the top lies a compass with mileage to various points across the United Kingdom. Be sure to dress in layers. The top always has a strong wind the makes it several degrees cooler than the bottom of the hill.

Approx. Time to Complete: 3 hours

The Firth and LeithCalton Hill

Located in New Town, Calton Hill is the lowest of the three points, but don’t shy away from climbing it because of that. It is home to more than just the best view of the Firth and Leith, it also showcases the Collective contemporary art gallery, City Observatory, and the unfinished National Monument. A pleasant walk past the distant Salibury Crags also shows Arthur’s Seat looming just behind them. Once atop Calton Hill, for five pounds you can climb to the top of the observatory to truly have an amazing view. It’s unnecessary if you want to save your money for a pint after the walk. Calton Hill is close to some pubs, bakeries and other local favorites. A casual walk—I wouldn’t consider this a hike—will have you looking out over New Town and Old Town basking in the city’s magnificence.

Approx. Time to Complete: 1 hour

View fron the CastleEdinburgh Castle

The highest point off the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle delivers stunning viewpoints atop the rocky peaks of its foundation. In Medieval times, the bottom of the Royal Mile was known as the “end of the world”—a bar that you should visit now marks the location of where the city once ended. Edinburgh Castle must have felt like the top of the world. The walls and towers appear to have grown out of the rock they sit on, rising high above the natural landscape. Edinburgh Castle houses a rich history of Scottish nobles, eerie dungeons, and is still home to the Scottish Crown Jewels. Unlike Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat, you will have to pay to enter the castle. Though the feel is more museum than castle, it is still worth the pounds it costs to take in all the Edinburgh Castle has to offer. If you can, try to be in the area around 1 pm for the firing of the canon. If not, there are plenty of other canons positioned around the castle walls, and nice prop to get a picture with that looks out over the city.

Approx. Time to Complete: 1-5 hours

 

Manteo: A Not-So-Secret Secret Worth Sharing

Time Required: 2 hours – multiple days
Cost: moderate pricing
Getting There: drive the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge over the Croatan Sound
Parking: street (metered and free)
Other Notes: It’s great place for lunch! Wear comfortable shoes.

Address and additional details at the bottom of this article.

My family has always considered the Outer Banks of North Carolina a special place. My parents and two sets of aunts and uncles honeymooned there (they even managed to stay in the same cottage). My cousin proposed to his wife there. We’ve vacationed there for as long as I can remember and even before that.

20160716_105014It was a “secret worth keeping” when my grandfather first wandered there. It is known today as a “secret worth sharing”. I have taken numerous friends with me over the years. One day, we hope to share the magic of the area with Sarah’s family.

We drove down July 16th with the rising of the sun. Like many beach towns, there are limited ways to get onto the beach, and traffic tends to bottle neck and the cars backs up. We’ve found the best time to get there is before 10 a.m., and we also learned that traffic builds up in two main spots: on the bridge over the Roanoke Sound and a few miles further north on Currituck Highway.

If you’ve never walked the shore town streets of Manteo, North Carolina, then you may not immediately know where to go. But, if you head toward the inlet, you’ll arrive where you need to me. We quickly became lost in Manteo’s small town charm. We came across the Full Moon Café and Lost Colony Brewery.

The Full Moon Café and Lost Colony Brewery offers relaxing atmosphere with indoor and outdoor seating. It is a a great place with affordable dining and enjoyable craft beers. We sat and chatted while tasting a few different beers.

One of the coolest things about visiting Manteo in the Outer Banks is that it is (as of now) 20160716_104231still relatively untouched by commercialism and maintains the quaint charm people have come to seek in our fast-paced world. Its also historical, with frequent showings of The Lost Colony and nods to the Outer Banks’s history of pirates. One favorite place is Outer Banks Distilling, a very cute rum distillery that is proud of their work and has harnessed the local feel. Their featured Kill Devil rum is growing in popularity and availability, and touring the distillery is a fun experience.

A quiet visit to Manteo when you are in the Outer Banks is almost a must if you want to get a feel for daily life in the area. Check out their community calendar for events that might appeal to you during your visit. We got to visit a craft fair with the beautiful pier as a backdrop, and we will definitely make our way back there when we can.

Address: (Full Moon Cafe) 208 Queen Elizabeth Avenue, Manteo, NC 27954
Phone Number: (252) 473-6666

You Should Visit St. Paul’s Cathedral, Even if You’re Not Christian

photo by Hieu Vu Minh (from Stocksnap.io)

Time Required: 3-4 hours
Cost: £18 (adults), £16 (concessions), £8 (kids 6-17)
Getting There: Ten minute walk from the Mansion House (District line) tube station
Parking: I’m sure you could find some somewhere
Other Notes: Address and additional details at the bottom of this article


Whether it’s your first time in London or your twentieth, there is no shortage of stuff to do. That is often regarded as a positive quality of a city, but it can also make you feel overwhelmed and challenged by the choice between the city’s many assets.

During our first visit, we found lots of things to do for free (the only cost was the tube), but we also found many sites that were absolutely worth the cost. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the plentitude of amazing sightseeing opportunities available to you, take a deep breath and know IT WILL BE OKAY. No matter what you pick, it will probably be pretty cool. Alas, we’ve decided to highlight only one in the hopes that it will make the call of London seem more manageable.

We were initially a little unenthused by the tour, but our collective breaths were repeatedly taken away by the surprises and stories around every corner. If you are visiting London for the first time, you won’t be sad if you spend time at St. Paul’s cathedral. And that’s true whether you’re Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish, agnostic, or atheist. It is a beautiful and exciting building at its very core, and in it, you can feel the depths of its connection to England’s history and the human experience. You’ll find it in the neighborhood known as “The City” (basically the Wall Street of London).

You’ll find it in the neighborhood known as “The City” (basically the Wall Street of London) and can get to it fairly easily on the tube.

Why it’s awesome: The cathedral is a busy place, and it is a functioning place of worship (and weddings). The church was founded in 604 AD, and the first part of the cathedral that exists as it is now was built in 1148. The fullness of its history is palpable when you walk through its doors.

History aside, the ability to describe the aesthetic of the building still escapes me (I just spent ten minutes googling synonyms for the words “beautiful” and “breathtaking”). We all gasped when we went inside, and that was just the Nave. It seems like even the tiniest details have been attended, and every time you scan the room, you’ll see something new and interesting. The Grand Organ is a sight to see, as are the quire, the pulpit, and the transepts. They are built in honor of the Christian god and the tenets of Christianity, but they also are built in honor of worship, peace, and community.

The audio tour that is included with admission will help you understand how each part of the cathedral came to be and how it’s used now. I listened to the grand organ section first, and was lucky enough to arrive just as an organist came out to play. You can get close enough to the organist to touch him (some people stood right next to the organist, leaned on the organ, and gazed down upon the poor guy until they were asked to move), and hear the clicks and pressure on the foot pedals and the keys. In the audio tour, I learned about the lowest and highest notes the organ can make, and learned about its transformations as technology has changed

You can go up into the cathedral dome. Yes, UP. Into. It.

But, looking beyond the audio tour (which isn’t actually that exciting to talk about so I don’t know why I gushed for so long), you can go up into the cathedral dome. Yes, UP. Into. It. And you don’t have to be strapped into a safety harness or watch a video about walking safely up steps, like you would stateside. You can actually walk all the way up into the thing to different “galleries,” where you can see amazing views of the city and even look back down into the cathedral. The highest gallery is about 279 feet from the cathedral floor, and it’s OUTSIDE. And you can LOOK at the CITY and it’s incredible.

Tips for maximum enjoyment: If you’re going to go into the dome, wear comfortable shoes. Some people did it in heels, but they weren’t exactly smiling by the time they’d climbed the 1,161 steps and made it to the top. Buy your ticket ahead of time online. Depending on what time you get there, there may be a bit of a line. Pre-purchased tickets are retrieved from another, shorter line. Once you get there, listen to the introduction on the audio tour, then see where you want to go. If you don’t know, let the audio tour guide you. If you feel drawn to a particular spot, then use the audio tour that lets you jump around at your own pace. You can’t take pictures inside, so try not to be disappointed. It is gorgeous and you will want to show it off. Plus, if you’re going to go into the dome, you can take pictures from there. But be ready to enjoy most of it without documenting it. You’re still sharing it with the crew you’re traveling with, and you can check in on your apps and what-have-yous, then share the pics that are already available.

Additional Details

St. Paul’s Cathedral
Address: St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD, UK
Phone Number: +44 20 7246 8350
Tickets/More Infohttps://www.stpauls.co.uk/visit  

 

Advice for Brides-to-Be: Traveling with Your Future In-Laws

20160716_202933People that eat ice cream live ten times longer. And if you’re planning a wedding, you probably have a love-hate relationship with ice cream right now. But this silly statement is something that I can say I ‘learned’ on my second trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, the first time traveling with my in-laws-to-be after getting engaged.

I expected my second trip to the Outer Banks to be… different. Not only different from the first, but different from other trips I’d taken. To say it was the same isn’t true, but to say it was “different” isn’t either. I’d expected it to be enlightening in some way, or give me some kind of insight into what life as a married woman might be like.

It was my first time traveling with the whole group after Chris and I got engaged. There were also lots of other family things going on, and attention to be paid to varying issues. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. And to be even more honest, I hadn’t had much time for anticipation to build prior to going down.

We went to see a venue for the wedding we didn’t end up planning, and we met with a potential caterer, who talked to us for so long we were exhausted by the end of the conversation. We also took a few engagement photos that we later used on our null wedding Save-the-Dates. I guess it’s fair to say we were absorbed in ourselves and our own plans. It’s also fair to say that we were more nervous about the wedding already than excited, and it was over a year away.

Chris’s mom was there, and it was one of the last times we really got to hang out with her. Her chemo had already started. We hung out with her and played cards. She slept a lot. She laughed a lot, but maybe a little less than usual. She played cards with us. She ate mostly liquids because her throat was burned from the treatment.

Looking back, I wish I had talked less and listened more. I wish I had I wanted them to like me, but they already did. I also wish I had been more present and absorbed more of my future mother-in-law’s presence, because she’s gone now.

I realized that on one of the last nights we were there. I was too concerned about the wrong things; it occurred to me when I saw the sign at the ice cream place that said people who eat ice cream live ten times longer. We were all concerned about my mother-in-law, and the concept of living longer was very much on our minds. But when I noticed that sign, it slowed down my thoughts and reminded me that even when grave seriousness confronts you, it’s important to stay in the moment you’re in. But I also realized that it means to go beyond the idea of “stopping and smelling the roses,” and it goes beyond noticing the pretty glint of the sun on the water, or the way even dust particles glitter when the light is right. You get from the moment what you put into it. So if you put in distractedness and worry, you’ll get back a buzz of blurry memories. If you put in selfishness and self-centeredness, you’ll get back a feeling of loss and missed opportunities.

So, my advice to brides is not some kind of morbid “you never know when it will be the last time you see someone,” nor is it to enjoy the now in case tomorrow never comes. You already know that.

Instead, my advice is this: Start internally. Put your truest self into the moments you have. Don’t worry about whether your future family likes you or dislikes you. Don’t worry about whether you are given more domestic duties than your sister-in-law-to-be. Check in with yourself periodically and ask if you’re enjoying what you’re doing. Is there something you can do to be in a better mood? Is there something you can do to make yourself feel useful? Is there some way you can see your future family’s true selves more clearly?

No matter what kind of family you’re marrying into, you need to be able to be yourself. If you try too hard to be liked, at the very least, you’ll crack. At the very worst, you’ll miss out on important moments.

 

 

A Day at the Taos Wool Festival for Someone Who Doesn’t Knit

Time Required: varies, depending on your interest in wool and knitting

Cost: Free!

Getting there: driving only (about 2.5 hours from Albuquerque, about 1.5 hours from Santa Fe

Other Notes: see bottom of post for address and link

Taos, New Mexico. I visited this well-known (but somehow still tiny) town on a beautiful, clear day, and maybe that’s why my memory of it is so crisp and sharp. The cloudless sky was of the iconic blue hue that one sees in Conde Nast magazines, and the crisp, cool air was strange and pleasing. 

Three friends and I took a day trip to the little city of fewer than 6,000 residents for the Taos Wool Festival, an annual celebration of knitting, a pastime that seems to have made a bit of a resurgence, likely thanks to lots pretty pics of fuzzy and colorful crafts on Instagram and Pinterest.

Before we could peruse the rainbow rows of wool, we needed to eat. Two of our friends were from the area and had been waiting “all year” to go to a Michael’s Kitchen and Bakery. We hung out with big cases of dreamy pastries while we waited in line for about half an hour, but it was clear that we were in the kind of place where waiting a little was just a fact of life. 

I got heuvos rancheros with—others who have been in New Mexico will find this detail important—green, not red, chile. They were extremely delicious and I ate every bite. Looking back at their menu, I am enjoying thinking about what I want to order next time. Will it be the Poor Man’s Benedict (two eggs any style, nestled between shaved ham and chile and crowned with melted cheese on a toasted English muffin)? A Spanish-style omelette? Or maybe Michael’s Favorite (in-house cinnamon bread dipped in rich egg batter, grilled golden brown and then topped with strawberries and whipped cream)?

Anyway, now that we’re all drooling, let’s move on to the Wool Festival. I am openly not enthusiastic about knitting, and the prospect of visiting the Taos Wool Festival wasn’t really first on my list. 

But, my concerns of “wasting” a day of a trip by doing something not that interesting were eliminated as soon as we walked in, where a row of colorful tents stood, and a pen of llamas finished out the row. It was clear that this craft festival was focused more on creativity than simply on wool. (But, before letting all the creativity seep in, I basically beelined for the llamas, and watched them unwittingly entertain passersby.)

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The people at the Wool Festival were, in addition to being from all walks of life, extremely interesting and like nothing I had ever seen before. I was surrounded by real New Mexican cowboys, not just men wearing hats and big belt buckles with bulls on DSC0027them for looks, half-Native and full-Native locals who wore on their faces and in the very folds of their skin more of the truth of America than I’d ever feel, and flowy granola women with long skirts and long hair who really did mix the dye from scratch to create the unique color that now illuminated their hand-spun wool. Semi-styled hipsters laid in the grass with abandon and shoeless hippie children played with dogs, played with each other, and ran their fingers through the soft fabrics that decorated the tents.

Recalling the many vendors at the Festival brings a smile to my face. Many made what you would expect at a festival dedicated to wool: hats and gloves and scarves and sweaters. But others had spun Christmas ornaments, ties, cat toys, and even tiny, detailed 3D “paintings” of scenery displayed on an easel.

I had wandered away from my friends, each of whom had their own points of interest to

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New wool!
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The hat is still a fave.

draw them, and bought a pink wool hat and wore it despite the warm sun, then sat in the grass myself.

 

My friends eventually appeared and sat down next me. I was extremely happy to have seen this part of life about which some people could get so excited. One friend had spent $100 in wool and the other had spent $60 and bought a pair of gloves. Their faces were flush with excitement about the project ideas they had.

We drove to our friends’ home in Albuquerque as the sun began to set over the desert. I admired my hat in the mirror, happy to have a souvenir from the profound little city of Taos. 

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