Packing for Europe…capsule wardrobes for the whole family

Wanna know what I’ve been doing all week? Prepping and planning for a 3.5 week trip to Europe!! Woot! We jet out tonight and are so very excited. The main purpose is to visit some of my husband’s family but we are also doing a little family vacation in the process…We are going to visit England, Wales, Luxembourg, Germany, France, and maybe Switzerland and Belgium. It is sure to be crazy times with 2 small boys and my husband working along the way, but we love adventure and can’t wait to embark on this one.

As we are traveling with small boys and their respective car seats, we are trying to be as minimalistic as possible on the packing front. I posted the above picture on Instagram and Facebook last week and got some comments and questions on our packing methods so I thought I’d write up a quick blog post with all the details. I know, this has absolutely nothing to do with sewing, but hey it’s my blog, right? 🙂 And actually I use this as a journal of sorts so if I write it all down here, I can remember it for next time. So I may just be talking to myself here, but I’m cool with that. Nothing out of the ordinary for me. 😉

luggage (4 of 5)First off, after much research, I decided upon this bag (no affiliate links here, just lots of amazon linkage since I’m a prime addict). It was a good price, had great reviews, and can be worn as a backpack but opens up like a suitcase- perfect for keeping things organized while traveling! I also bought a set of medium packing cubes and assorted slim packing cubes. My first experience with packing cubes and I’m loving the organization they provide.

Since I think my wardrobe is the main interest, here’s the bullet list of my bag and its contents. Again, please feel free to not read this! The key to my travel capsule wardrobe is: 4-5 tops + 2-3 bottoms + 1 sweater- all mix and matchable among each other so quite a few different outfits can be made from a few articles of clothing. And different layers of clothing to account for all possible temps!

luggage (2 of 5)Medium Packing cube (for me) (13.75×9.75″) shown above: hand for perspective

  • Shower flip flops
  • Pj pants, running leggings and running tee
  • Dress (my easter washi)
  • Scarf, grey cardigan
  • 4 tank tops (for layering)
  • Short sleeved dressy sweatshirt, casual short sleeve tee
  • 2 button down shirts (brown archer and white gap one)
  • Mint ginger jeans

luggage (1 of 5)Slim cube (medium size 10x5x2.75″): seen below as the long skinny one

  • undergarments (1 bra, sports bra, 5 undies)
  • bathing suit (just in case), 1 pair shorts
  • socks (4 pair)

Medium Packing cube (for Eliot)

  • Tees (2 short sleeve, 1 long)
  • Bottoms (2 jeans, 1 shorts, 1 bathing suit)
  • 1 sweater, 1 button down shirt
  • 1 pair pjs
  • 5 pair socks, 1 pair shoes


  • Sperrys, 2 pairs jeans, small travel fan
  • Orla Kiely Makeup bag- (contains non-liquid makeup and feminine products)
  • Small packing cube (6.5×5)- toiletries: toothbrushes x4, qtips, razors, powder laundry soap (we will do laundry every 3-4 days), deodorant x2
  • Top pocket contains my small zippered jewelry pouch
  • Inside zip top contains raincoats x3 ( for me and the boys) and gold sandals

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I am also bringing a regular size backpack as my personal item (shown below) and that bag has:

  • our liquid toiletries in 1 quart bag, essential oils roller balls in another, and 1 final quart bag of ez squeeze applesauce for snacking.
  • 2 small medicine bottles with adult/child ibuprofen, vitamins and supplements
  • small first aid kit
  • ipad, phone, headphones and chargers
  • Several quart bags of trip snacks: trail mix, granola bars, pull n peel licorice (my personal travel snack 🙂 )
  • Umbrella, a few small children’s books, and my water bottle

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Oliver’s backpack (an 18L from REI-shown at top) has 2 small metal lunch boxes (shown below)- used as toy boxes for the boys, more snack baggies, water bottle x2, pjs x2 for the plane, child’s headphones x2, stuffed dog x2, and a few diapers and wipes for Eliot.

 My husband’s backpack (Kelty Redwing 50L) has everything else:

  • Oliver’s packing cube: exactly the same size and contents as Eliot’s.
  • His clothes (2 ss tees, 2 ls tees, jeans, shorts, button down, raincoat, sweatshirt)
  • Slim Packing cube (long 14×5)- for his boxers and socks
  • umbrella, hair dryer, chargers and European adaptors, small travel fan, mesh bags for laundry, Ergo, Flip Flops, enough diapers and wipes for a few days (vacuum packed)

And if you made it that far, you deserve a medal! Hope that info helps any of you contemplating a trip with kids. In case you weren’t counting that brings our luggage count to 3 carry-on backpacks and 1 small backpack as personal item….no checked bags except for the car seats! Oh and an umbrella stroller we will check at the gate.

I have been heavily influenced by Tsh at the Art of Simple and The Art of Simple Travel, Un-Fancy, the Budget-minded traveler podcast, and Entre Family Travels. They all have great posts on capsule wardrobes and minimalist packing that I have found very helpful throughout my planning. Wish us luck and find me on IG for updates along the way! (@oliversfancy).


West Coast Travelogue: Seattle, WA

You tired of my travel blathering yet? Well not to worry, we are nearing the end of it. I’m really enjoying re-living my trip but it’s totally making me want to take another one soon! After Portland we headed up to Seattle to visit with my husband’s sister and brother-in-law. One good thing about having large families spread around the globe (literally!) is that you have reasons to visit all these fun places and free lodging when staying there! Yep, it’s all about the free lodging 😉 j/k, peeps, j/k.

We were in Seattle for an entire week and thoroughly enjoyed our stay. The first evening we were there, my sister-in-law took me to see Jane Eyre: the musical. It was in a small theater and while neither of us were quite sure what to expect we both loved it! The English teacher in me just thrived on some good classic literature being acted out in front of me.seattle, wa (15 of 8)

Sunday we enjoyed visiting my sister-in-law’s church and then heading down to south Seattle- Federal Way in the afternoon to visit some friends from back home who moved out west several years back. So fun to connect with friends along our way!

Monday and Tuesday my brother-in-law took off work so he played tour-guide and took us all around town. We got to see the troll under the Fremont Bridge, enjoyed checking out the houseboats in Fremont, and explored the Public Market. We enjoyed walking up and down the Market and checking out all the vendors. I loved all the flower stalls! We ate lunch in the market area at some walk-ups: so fun! The boys were great sightseers and I think they enjoyed all the hustle and bustle as much as we did.

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Tuesday we went down to Mukilteo Beach and discovered that a Seattle beach is much different from a South Carolina beach. But it was fun to explore the shore, throw rocks in the water and take the Ferry to Whidbey Island. The boys absolutely loved the ferry ride! We wanted to explore Whidbey Island but we hadn’t brought the car with us on the ferry so we just wandered the beach a bit and then got back on the ferry to Mukilteo Beach.

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My sister-in-law was so kind to offer to babysit the boys for us while we were visiting so we could enjoy a day in the city kid-free. First off we headed over to Ballard to check out Drygood Designs– the last fabric store on my list to visit. What a fun store! They are in a really small space (moving soon, I was told) but they have an excellent selection for the space! I had so much fun perusing all the fabrics and accessories. I was very good (since I’d spent all my money in Portland!) and only bought a fat quarter of some nano iro along with a few yards of leather cording. Seriously, that took some self-control! And I actually remembered to take pictures of this fabric store so here are a few for you.

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Belltown also had a great selection of fun little shops that we enjoyed exploring. We spend the rest of our kid-free day walking around downtown, sampling local eateries and checking off some sightseeing: The Olympic Sculpture Park, the Space Needle and Seattle Center (though we didn’t go up the needle), and Kerry Park. I loved the amazing skyline view we got from Kerry Park and the houses all around it were so beautiful. It was fun to walk around and pick out our favorites. 🙂 You could even see a little of Mr. Rainier from the park- it’s the little white peak between the two buildings on the right.

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In the middle of all our sightseeing, we got to meet up with another friend and former Greenvillian at Macrina Bakery (so good, by the way.) It was only for an hour but it was fun to catch up a bit with Betsy and chat. She blogs over at Yellow Elm and has some great info about exploring Seattle among other things. I used her blog as a stepping stone to decide what we wanted to do while in town.We happened to time our trip to Seattle to coincide with my in-laws coming in for a visit too so we spent the last several days there relaxing around the house and spending time with family. They came from TN so it was nice for all of us to meet in WA for a few days. The boys enjoyed getting thoroughly spoiled with attention from the grandparents as well as Aunt Emily. We discovered a free petting zoo a few miles down from our house  and met up with another long-time friend there for a few hours. So interesting how several of our friends have moved out to the Seattle area recently!

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And from Seattle, we began the trek back down the coast and toward home! I’ve got one more post to share with you about our adventures down the Pacific coast and then we are done!

West Coast Travelogue: Portland, OR

The next stop along our west coast extravaganza was Portland, Or. We stayed with my husband’s cousin in a suburb outside of Portland proper- Beaverton, which just so happened to be a few miles down the road from the first fabric store on my to-visit list for Portland: Mill End. Yep totally took advantage of the fabric mecca that is in Portland. Seriously, those peeps don’t know how lucky they are! Anywho, I went by Mill End the first night that we were in town and had fun picking out some great knit fabric. I have no access to quality knits in town so I enjoyed seeing a good selection in person. After leaving Mill End, we went down the road to Washington Park and found this amazing rose garden. It was one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen!

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Ian’s cousin had taken the day off work to hang out with us so Thursday we decided to head up to see the big mountain- Mt. Hood. This was kinda a big mistake on our parts. See, we had to drive almost 2 hrs to get there and the boys were a bit cranky from our long drive the day before and did not enjoy hanging out in their car seats again! Then we got up to the mountain and Oliver had a huge melt-down at the lodge which ended up being kinda miserable for everyone. Add that to the fact that it was so overcast, you didn’t get much of a view from the ski lodge and we were all a bit bummed to have wasted most of the day in that endeavor. We were going to continue up to see the Columbia Gorge but after realizing it would add another hour to our trip, we just headed back to Portland. My husband did manage to get this one halfway decent picture of the mountain so at least we have something to show for our trip up it!

portland, or (16 of 6)Cranky, cranky Oliver at the Timberline Lodge. Just keeping it real, folks for anyone who thought our trip was perfectly idyllic. 🙂

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On the way back to town, I realized that we were going to drive pretty close to Grant Park and decided to had to make a stop there! This park is right down the road from Klickitat Street and has some little figurines as a tribute to Beverly Cleary- Ramona, Henry Huggins, and Ribsy. I was a huge Beverly Cleary fan as a kid so this just thrilled my soul. I didn’t realize that the Ramona books were set in Portland until planning this trip. Of course, then we HAD to go up to Klickitat St and take a picture! The houses were so cute up there too so my husband enjoyed the drive around.

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This was definitely the right decision to make as both boys really enjoyed the park area and the little water-play area. One thing we learned about traveling with little kids- if everyone’s getting cranky, have a park stop and let the kiddos run around and play for a bit and the day gets much better!portland, or (2 of 9)

Friday was the day I was most looking forward to on this trip. I got to meet Kristin from Skirt as Top and Kelly from Cut Cut Sew along with their kiddos. So cool, right? They were so nice to agree to spend the morning with us after I contacted Kristin to let her know we were going to be in town. We met up at Bolt– where I spent way too much time agonizing over my fabric purchases, then we all ate at Bollywood Theatre (so proud of myself for trying Indian food!) for an early lunch and took the kiddos to a nearby park to play while the moms talked. Oliver had so much fun meeting new friends! I love the instant bond little kids can form with perfect strangers. And I really enjoyed meeting up with both ladies (and their sweet kiddos). Both of them were so friendly and just how they appear to be online. If you follow me, you know how many times I have used Kristin’s ideas as inspiration. It was so fun to spend time with her and pick her brain about blog things and such. Funnily enough we both showed up in our Grainline Studio handmades along with our cargo duffles (the duffles were planned but not the tops). Sewing nerds, forever!

portland, or (4 of 9) After they both had to leave, I went back to Modern Domestic (It’s crazy to me how Portland has two amazing quilt stores just down the road from each other!) and bought as much Cotton + Steel as I could justify. Yeah, I had to use great discipline not to buy it all, y’all. I mean, no sales tax in Portland means I was getting it on sale, right? Here’s most of what I bought while in town…I got a great assortment of varying types of fabrics. I wanted to buy things I can’t get locally back home so I have sweater knits, double cloth, cotton lawn, denim and chambray along with some knits and quilting cottons. I also picked up a few new patterns to try out!

portland, or (5 of 9)Ian took Oliver to try out some food trucks while I perused Modern Domestic with Eliot. Kinda sad I missed out on the Grilled Cheese Grill!

portland, or (18 of 6)That evening we headed out of town a ways to visit with Ian’s aunt and family. They live on a beautiful farm and the boys loved roaming around and getting thoroughly dirty! I loved sitting on their front porch and looking at the gorgeous view!portland, or (19 of 6)

The next day (Saturday) we had to head up the coast for the next section of our trip but we hadn’t had quite enough of Portland yet so we headed back to the Alberta arts district in the morning to enjoy Pine State Biscuits (so yum!) and Salt and Straw (again!- and this is officially my fave ice cream joint and I am a connoisseur of ice cream). portland, or (6 of 9)

portland, or (7 of 9)Yum, Portland is quite the foodie town and I wished we had had a few more meals we needed to eat down there because there were so many good places I wanted to try! Guess we will just have to go back another time so we can try more food!

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One thing we really loved about Portland were how many great parks there were! They still had a lot of old-fashioned playgrounds with metal slides, see-saws, and merry-go-rounds. It was so fun to let the boys play on them. They really enjoyed the playgrounds. And if you’re going to swing, make sure to match your colored pants to your respective swings as pictured below with the boys. 😉 I got a huge kick out of that.

portland, or (8 of 9)portland, or (20 of 6)And that’s it for Portland. Next stop, Seattle!


West Coast Travelogue: San Francisco

Our next step in this west coast adventure involved heading west several hours to tour the grand city of San Francisco. My brother has some friends who live in Berkely who had graciously invited us to stay with them. Ian and I joked that this was our first “tiny house” experience because we stayed in a converted shed in their backyard just big enough for a double bed, pack n play, and a couch. But it was perfect for our little family, and we enjoyed having our own space even while staying with someone else.

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On the way to San Francisco we stopped by the Jelly Belly factory. Because we stopped by on a Sunday, the factory was not in operation but it was still fun to walk through the plant and see how the jelly beans are made. I had no idea that the process was so labor intensive. Of course the free sample bags at the end were a fun perk too! 🙂 Oliver’s trying to break into the car right here, per his usual antics. Lol.

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We got in to San Francisco early Sunday evening and wanted to go experience some of the town right away so we headed in to Chinatown for dinner. We went off the recommendation of our hosts and ate at a very authentic place called Kam Lok. It was my first authentic Chinese experience and while I was a bit scared we were all going to get sick, it was kinda fun to just immerse myself into the place and I actually really enjoyed all my food! We got one of the mix dinner options and got to try a bit of everything!

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For this section of our trip, we still had my parents and siblings with us and it was nice to have some family along to help entertain the boys and explore the city. Monday was our big sightseeing day. We left in the late morning and didn’t return until evening! We thought for sure we would end up coming back because the boys would be cranky but they proved to be great sightseers! Eliot loved hanging out in the ergo and Oliver did a great job walking all around the city! He was such a trooper to walk his little feet off and only asked to be held at the very end of the day.  Of course we had to begin our day in Union Square so I could check out Britex Fabrics. What a fun store, but so overwhelming!

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Would you believe it, I got so overwhelmed that I ended up with just a little Dr. Seuss panel that I found in the clearance section of the store. I think this would be a great resource if I needed some particular type of fabric- like wool or home dec, but going in without a specific need, you end up with too many options. Also I noticed that their quilting cottons section was several dollars more per yard than regular fabric stores who carry the same lines. I loved this wall of vintage sewing machines though!

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We left Union Square and took the cable car down to Fisherman’s Wharf. Definitely recommend that experience.san francisco (6 of 14)Fisherman’s Wharf was full of fun sights and sounds for the boys to take in. There were some big ships docked and a cool museum of video games (from the 1900s on!). Most of the video games were functional and only cost the original amount to play so the boys got some quarters and played 3 different games for $1 total!

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We walked up to the Ghirardelli store and decided to be typical tourists and ordered a big sundae to share. I have to say that this is one thing I think was way overrated. Yeah the ice cream was fine but we had even better ice cream later on in our trip for a third of the price! Down from the Ghirardelli store was a nice big grassy area where the boys enjoyed running around and watching the boats sail back in forth in the bay.

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Oliver loved having Daddy and Uncle Joe to swing him around!

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Tuesday we knew would need to be a laid back day to help the boys recover from Monday’s big excursion so we headed to Golden Gate park and had fun riding the carousel, playing on the playground and seeing the San Francisco skyline from the DeYoung museum’s tower. Definitely recommend that for a great free view of the city.san francisco (11 of 14)

Then we met up with my family at the Golden Gate Bridge viewing area and said goodbye to them as they were headed back to the airport that afternoon. I loved how beautiful the area was down here! San Francisco is such a gorgeous city and we had amazing weather to explore the sights.

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Me and my sissy taking a selfie in front of the bridge. And we aren’t really trying to be too cool for school. The sun was so bright that our eyes were all squinty without the sunglasses!

san francisco (14 of 14)We made a fun impromptu Ikea stop on our way home from the bridge because traffic was so bad and we were all getting a little hangry. Thankfully we spotted an Ikea right off the interstate so we stopped in for a bite and to let the boys run around a bit in the kid’s section. I always love an Ikea visit! Once we got back to our host house, we decided to go ahead and pack up our stuff and begin our next trek that evening so we could get a few hours of driving in while the boys were asleep. Brilliant idea as they fell asleep as soon as we left and we had 5 hours of nice, quiet driving before stopping for the night.

Next up, our 3 days in Portland and my fellow bloggers meet-up! 🙂

West Coast Travelogue: Grass Valley, CA

Whew, I didn’t mean to take so long of a blog break but traveling with 2 children under 3 is a full-time job and I just couldn’t get the time or brain space to do anything else! We are back home now and beginning the unpacking and transitioning to East Coast time and real life again- not an easy task for any of us! As fun as our trip was, I am happy to be back and looking forward to spending some time sewing again. I’ve missed it! Because this was such an epic trip for our family, I want to share a bit of a travelogue of our experiences and adventures along the way. More for the fact that I don’t want to forget any of this time than I think that y’all are interested in reading about it. I met up with such fun people and had so many great experiences that I want to memorialize this trip forever. But who knows, maybe some of you would also like to read about our time on the West Coast. If not, just ignore anything with the travelogue title and you’ll be good to go. I’m going to dive right in today with the first 5 days of the trip (and the reason we went out in the first place), my brother’s wedding in Grass Valley, CA.

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BTW all of these pictures are taken with my iPhone 5 so the quality is not as great as they would be with the real camera but travel takes place too quickly for big cameras! Also I’m trying to share different pics than I did on IG so if you follow me there (@oliversfancy), you won’t get a complete repeat!

Getting ourselves out there in the first place was a fun adventure! We made every effort to pack very light because we knew that would would have laundry facilities along the way. (sometime soon, I will tell you about my fun challenge of capsule wardrobe packing) Even so, bringing 4 people, 2 car seats, loads of snacks, clothes and accessories ended up being quite the haul!

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The boys did fairly well for their first flying experience: key being lots and lots of snacks to keep the crankies at bay! Oh and watching the airplanes in the airport was quite fascinating.

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The wedding went off beautifully and we all looked smashing if I do say so myself. 🙂 Only ended up with one not-so-great shot of my little family but glad to have gotten something. By the way Oliver is wearing his Vintage May outfit. He has gotten quite a bit of wear out of those skinny jeans and I can’t wait to make him more for this fall/winter!

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Siblings oldest to youngest…Can’t believe 3 of us are married now!

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Bride and groom with my two munchkins. They love Uncle Jared and can’t wait to get to know Aunt Stephanie more.

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Oliver needed his own “pretty flower” and was so pleased when the flower lady gave him one. Then he ran around brandishing it like a sword so he kinda missed the point of the flower. Such a boy-child. 🙂

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The night after the wedding, we took the boys to the Nevada County fair which was in town that week. So fun! I don’t think I’ve ever been to a state or county fair and I loved the experience. It’s not a super cheap experience but it was worth it for the fun memories with the boys.

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We let Oliver pick about 4 rides to go on and he especially loved these car rides! I loved the fact that we all got to go on the carousel. I’m such a kid at heart and love to ride those every chance we get. And Eliot didn’t get left out of the fun either. He loved seeing and petting all the animals!grass valley, ca (9 of 11)Funny fair story: Oliver dirtied his shorts and we had to do an emergency change but the only pair of shorts I had on hand were Eliot’s 12 month shorts. I didn’t say a word, just slipped those shorts on Oliver (couldn’t believe they actually buttoned!) and he walked around in 12 month shorts the rest of the night, none the wiser. He would have been upset if he had known, but thankfully he’s a skinny kid or he would have been the kid at the fair with no pants!

grass valley, ca (11 of 11)Checking out the monster truck jam happening on the other side of the fence. And snacking on some yummy kettle korn! A must-try when they cook it in the kettle right in front of you.

grass valley, ca (10 of 11)And thus ends the first part of our 3 week trip. Next up, San Francisco and my first fabric store stop. Yep, I’ll be sure to let you know about all the fabric stores I visited along the way. (and the crazy amount of fabric I brought home!)