Monday, November 27, 2017

Away Mini Suitcase Review and What Fits Inside

     Ever since Away posted pictures of this little mini suitcase on their Instagram account, I've been wanting one.  I even drove all the way to their brick and mortar store on Melrose Ave. to see if I could score one.  No such luck.  They had me put my name on a waiting list, and I pretty much gave up after that.  Then one day, after scrolling through my Instagram feed, I saw that they were selling the mini cases!  I was disappointed to see they were out of the blush cases, so I settled on the sand color.  I thought it was neutral enough to go with my current luggage.  Did I think about getting a matching Away carry-on?  Of course, I did.  However, I have three carry-ons right now, and could not justify getting another.  

     Before these mini cases were being sold on Away's website, I found very little information about them.  There were a few pictures of the outside of the case, but the inside was a total mystery.  I found one picture online with the case slightly open, but it didn't show what the layout looked like, nor what could fit inside.  After scouring their comments section on Instagram, I only gathered that the inside was lined with their signature Away fabric that also lines their luggage.  So, here is my short show and tell about this mini luggage case in case any of you are looking for more information about the inside, what fits inside, or perhaps you're looking for the perfect gift for that special someone in your life who enjoys travel and organization. 

     Away did not skimp on their packaging.  It arrived on my doorstep in a nice sturdy box, with some travel inspiration quotes on the inside. 

     The outside is made just like the luggage.  It is a hard plastic shell that really feels well-made, and like it could withstand being thrown around.

     I always appreciate when a handbag comes with a nice dust cover.  Away did not disappoint!  Your mini luggage case comes with a little dust cover - such a nice touch!  This reinforces their tag line:  "First class luggage at a coach price."  

     I wouldn't call the mini luggage case cheap by any means.  At $35 for just the mini luggage case (you can buy gift sets from $45 to $95), I would place this on the higher end of travel cases of this size and material.  However, upon close inspection, you can see the craftsmanship that goes into their products.  There wasn't a stitch out of place, and their branding is sleek and elegant.

     Low and behold - the INSIDE of an Away mini suitcase!  Aside from being lined in the Away fabric, there is also a small mesh pocket on one side.

     I put some of my travel items inside so that you could get a feel for what actually fits inside the case.  With all these items inside, I was able to easily zip up the case, and probably even fit in a few more items.  I could see this case being useful as a make-up case, a toiletry catch all, or even a case to hold your small electronic devices and cords/chargers.

Here is everything that fit inside.  Everything except for the Tarte eyeshadow and blush compact are mini sizes of regular products.  

     Just to give you a better idea of what else could fit inside, I placed my Instax SP-2 printer inside.  There was plenty of room left for 2-3 packs of Instax film and the charging cord. 

     I'm ecstatic with my purchase and think this would make a great gift for the travel lover in your life.  They come in a variety of masculine and feminine colors, and also in gift sets if you want your Christmas shopping to be made even more easy!

NOTE:  If anyone sees that blush mini case come back in stock, LET. ME. KNOW! 😉

After perusing their website a little more, here are some other things on my wish list:

1)  The mini luggage case in blush pink

2)  The carry-on suitcase in blush pink

3)  The carry-on suitcase in coral (Limited Edition collaboration with Gray Malin)

Happy shopping! 😊

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Road Trip :: Julian, California Photography

     I love making lists - to do lists, to buy lists, cleaning lists, donate lists, things to blog lists... you get the idea.  My love for lists runs so deep that when I see lists from other people, my curiosity is instantly piqued.  Let's rewind about three to four months ago when I came across a "Top 10 Small Towns in California You Have to Visit" list.  One of the towns on this list was Julian, California, and I immediately noticed that it was located in SoCal.  Since I was still pushing forward with my  #nospend2017 efforts,  I thought, What better way to spend black Friday than to go on a short road trip to a place I've never been?

     The small town of Julian is located about 40 miles east of Escondido, CA in San Diego County.  I'll be throwing in some tips in this blog post to help make your trip more enjoyable.

TIP#1:  Depending on your GPS device or phone app, the directions you get will vary depending on what your settings are.  It may be that your setting is returning a route based on shortest distance versus shortest travel time (based on traffic).  On the way to Julian, we exited Temecula Valley Parkway (Hwy 79) off the 15 freeway.  It took us from Hwy 79, and then through this long winding two-lane road to connect to Hwy 76, and then eventually hooking up with Hwy 79 again into Julian.  I did NOT enjoy driving this route.  It took us through a lot of ups and downs through a semi-mountainous area.  It was like driving through some parts of Yosemite (the parts I did not enjoy).  On the way back, the GPS tried to have us go back the same way, but upon looking at the map myself, I decided to take the 79 out of Julian, and  then Hwy 76 which leads you to the Pala exit off of the 15 freeway.  This was BY FAR a much more enjoyable drive!  So my advice to you is to take the Pala exit off the 15 freeway (Hwy 76) and take it all the way to Hwy 79, which leads into Julian.  You're welcome!

     You immediately see the quaintness of this town.  The population is about 1,450 people, and it really did seem that everyone that worked here also lived in Julian.  We had no official plans aside from eating, photowalking, taking a mine tour, and getting some of that famous Julian apple pie that the town is known for.

TIP #2:  Our first stop for breakfast was Miner's Diner.  This place didn't just look cute, but it looked authentically old (in a good way), and not like someone curated and designed the place to look vintage.  Get here early!  We were so glad we did.  We got into town about 9:15am and were immediately seated.  It was a great, relaxed atmosphere - the complete opposite of what we saw around noon!  So many people, and a line of patrons waiting for a table outside the restaurant.

     The food was typical diner food, and was pretty good.  I really liked their wheat toast.  I could tell that someone buttered that sucker up just so that I'd be reminded of my gluttony on Thanksgiving the day before. 😋

     There is no shortage of places to get some apple pie.  This is what the town is known for.  Ironically, they sell tons of apple pie, but nowhere did we did people selling actual apples. 😕

     If you're into history, many of the places along Main Street and the surrounding areas have these plaques that will educate you about the history of the buildings.

     I don't know when they started as this was my first time in Julian, but the town was decorated for Christmas, and it made for such a warm, holiday feeling throughout.  It reminded me of when I visited Solvang after Christmas.  

     If you think you'd had fresh apple cider, think again.  One of the other things they do with apples in Julian, is make fresh apple cider.  This lady at the Cider Mill gave us some samples, and it was delicious!  

     I think Julian should pass some ordinance that restricts people from parking on Main Street.  It would've been cool to get photos of the storefronts without all the newer cars. 😏

     Pies. Every kind.

     I was so good.  I didn't buy a thing, except for food.  So if you're wondering why you didn't get a postcard from me from Julian... well, now you know why. #nospend2017 😉

     Me and one of my photography friends have this thing about hopefully getting at least one good portrait photo.  In Big Bear, it was "Santa Claus", and in Julian, it is this guy right here.  He reminds me of a character out of A Christmas Carol.

     We stumbled upon the Julian Pioneer Museum.  It had a lot of old artifacts and some history about the town and its people.  Admission is free with a suggested donation of $3 to help keep the place open and running.

     A quick stop at the old town jail.

     TIP #3:  There is a large parking lot that is $5 (on the honor system) near the old town jail.  I think not a lot of people know about it, as so many were parking along the streets.  I guess it could be that they just didn't want to pay for parking, but I think it would serve Julian tourism well to require people to park in the lot instead.  It would increase their revenue, and keep the streets clean and less congested for my photo-taking pleasure. 😊

     Lots of cute shops line Main Street with trinkets, souvenirs, and all things made in Julian.

     I don't know if it was just the fact that it was black Friday, or if this was normal, but there were tons of dogs out and about.  I loved every minute of it, obviously. 😊  There are many places that have outdoor seating that are dog-friendly if you do decide to bring your furry friend. 

 TIP #4:  Diagonally across from this building below are the public restrooms.  They are relatively clean and the lines aren't too long.  Bonus tip:  If you do see a line of people waiting to use the restroom, directly behind the line of people are two more restrooms that no one notices!  You're welcome! 😉

     Around 2pm, we decided to take the Eagle Mining Co. tour.  It is $10 for adults, $5 for children 5-13 years old, and $1 for children 4 and under.  They start the tour by giving you some history and education about how mining was done back in the days of the gold rush, then you're ushered to the area where they show you how to pan for gold, and end with the actual tour of the mine.  I thought it was a pretty good value for $10.

TIP #5:  Do not take this tour if you are claustrophobic!  I kept thinking about earthquakes the whole time we were taking the tour hahahaha... 😨😨😨

     I was so SO happy to see daylight again!

     After the tour, we decided to get in line at Mom's Pies for some pie!

     I bought a whole pie to take home.  At the time, I thought $16 for a pie was pretty darn expensive.  However, upon checking out their website, it is a much better deal than ordering it online and having it shipped to you!  

     I had a slice of the Bumbleberry pie.  Delicious!

     One the way to the cemetery (boy, never thought I'd use that in a sentence), we saw the Julian Pie Company.  I actually saw these being sold at my local Albertson's, and never saw the price.  I'm curious now if they price is comparable to what the restaurant sells it for.  Upon checking their website, you could pay up to $60 to have one of these shipped to you overnight!😲

     Barbed wire to keep you on the path!

     One of the reasons I wanted to check out the cemetery was to get this great view of Julian.

     We thought about staying for blue hour, but didn't really see a cool spot to shoot from.  By this time, I was full of pie, and was content to drive back and be home by 6pm.  Julian is definitely worth the relatively short drive within SoCal for a day trip with your camera or the family!