Tag Archives: recommendations

101 Things in 1001 Days Update

18 Nov

Well, once I got a full-time job, I got terrible at blogging again. Figures…

So, the best way to cover what’s been happening is to provide an update on my challenge to accomplish 101 Things in 1001 Days! (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Original post here.)

77: Figure out a general plan for me and Elad’s future.

This is probably my favorite update… And can be best summarized with a picture.


I may be obsessed with telling the story, showing the videos, sharing the pictures, and staring at my left hand. We’re going to get married in both the US and Israel, so we can make sure everyone can come!

26: Attend another roller derby class/workout.

I remembered when I wrote out the challenge goals that the Windy City Rollers usually held a couple of “learn to skate” sessions before tryouts, and I’d always had it in the back of my head to go to one – for old time’s sake. Thanks to this challenge, I finally made time to go. I went with the clear intention of just having fun skating again, not trying out.

…That didn’t quite work out. I fell in love with skating and the ladies of roller derby all over again, tried out, made the team, and have been obsessed. I invested in quality skates and have made amazing friends. I am absolutely thrilled to be back on wheels, and to be Curls Gone Wild!


Me and my first WCR derby wife, Miss Manners.

51: Catch up on Hello From The Magic Tavern.

I managed to catch up the morning before Elad and I went to a live show, so I gave myself an extra pat on the back for that one. Since the show was not long after my surgery, and my mom has a lovely habit of sending self-addressed stamped get-well cards to my favorite stars for me, the cast had been amazing and signed the card as each of their characters. They also insisted on making sure I was comfortable during the show. Adal personally escorted me to a front-row seat before the doors opened, Matt asked his co-stars immediately after the show if they had heard from me, and Arnie looked more concerned for me than amused when I told them I had laughed so much it hurt. Between this and the amount of time I spend trying not to laugh out loud on the train while listening to each new episode, this is by far and away my favorite podcast.

Magic Tavern

I don’t mind standing in Usidore’s shadow.

62: Learn what to do with a butternut squash.

This one came about because of unfortunate circumstances – I managed to get salmonella and have spent a long time returning my stomach slowly to normal. As soon as I was cleared to get off the BRAT diet (which I had been on for an awful week – I am so sick of bananas), I started looking up good transition foods. Butternut squash topped the list and I immediately got one. It took a hundred years (and guidance from YouTube) to chop it up, but after half an hour in the oven, it was WORTH IT. Good discovery!

21: Visit Christina in Atlanta.

In a fortunate turn of events, I needed to go to Alpharetta, GA for work – and Alpharetta is about an hour from Atlanta! I flew in a day early to spend time with a dear friend, and it was absolutely lovely. Christina is one of those people who is so genuine and kind; it was a pleasure to catch up with her. But now I have to go back when I’m fully recovered post-salmonella and eat ALL THE THINGS.


We found a tiny door on the Beltline! #tinydoorsatl

23: Visit the Madison Farmers’ Market.

Spicy cheese bread. ‘Nuff said.

13. Dye part of my hair a different color.

After Elad took a picture of me where it accidentally looked like I had a hot pink curl, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I waited until I had a job – and one I knew would approve – and did it.

Pink Curl

In love with this curl.

Amazingly, everyone loved it – from derby girls to Grandma to coworkers. It felt really me. At this point, it’s pretty darn faded and I’m debating what to do about it, with the thought of wedding photos sometime in a year or so… Input is welcome.

All in all, this challenge has been a fun way to spend my time. And it’s a great way to make myself do things that otherwise keep getting pushed back.

So, what should I do next? Replay a favorite childhood video game? Take a course on Coursera? Visit more friends? (Well, that one’s a duh.) Go to a drag show? Make Elad’s mom’s challah recipe? Go to a coffee shop just to read? Tell me in the comments!


7 Must-Have Affordable Travel Accessories

26 Feb

If you’re like me, you always see articles proclaiming the things every traveler MUST have. And then you click on the link and find that it contains a $300 carry-on, a $70 neck pillow, $250 noise-canceling headphones, and probably an $800 portable white noise machine (“for silencing the obnoxious noises of warmed nut bowls clanking against the porcelain china when you’re sitting in first class!”).

But never fear – you can find affordable travel accessories that will make your life infinitely easier, whether on the ground or in the air. These are some of my favorites:

1. eBags Packing Cubes: $23-36


These things are amazing. A former boss and excellent friend of mine got them for me when I was packing to spend six months in Israel and expounded on their virtues to an unbelieving Past Allie, just like Current Allie is doing to a likely unbelieving Current Reader. But seriously, they make my life so much easier when I’m traveling. I have the set of three large cubes, but you can buy them in any size combination or color choice.

The brightly-colored part is super durable and super thin nylon, and the darker part on top is mesh – so you’ll never have to force your underwear into a 2-gallon Ziploc bag and squeeze all the air out as hard as you can before zipping it ever again. These squish down when there’s room to squish down, but stay intact when you want them to stay intact. Since two of these fit comfortably in your average suitcase, my brilliant strategy is that I fill one with shirts and the other with socks, bras, and underwear. Then, when I’m going home at the end of the trip, I reorganize to fill one with clean laundry and the other with dirty. It makes my life so stupidly simple, both while traveling and when I get home.

2. A good water bottle: $13-18


You know what they say: a good water bottle is hard to find. Or something along those lines, anyway. I always bring an empty reusable water bottle with me to the airport, because once I’m through security I can fill it for free, potentially saving myself several dollars per year! …And it helps the environment. At O’Hare, they have those automatic water bottle refill stations that count how many plastic bottles have been saved by using them, so I always feel good about myself.

Anyway, a good water bottle for air travel has to fulfill several requirements. It has to be leak-proof or spill-proof (why, oh why, do airlines not provide cupholders?). It can’t be the kind with a straw that you bite to access (because, as I discovered once, the change in pressure will send water shooting into your mouth as soon as you bite and thus drown you or drench your face and shirt). It probably shouldn’t be one without a cap (considering the number of things your water bottle will be rubbing against in various bags and seat pockets, you really don’t want to put your mouth directly on something unprotected). I’ve had excellent luck so far with the Camelbak Chute, but you can play around with whatever fits your needs best.

3. Travel jewelry wallet: $8-35


I once read that to pack necklaces and prevent them from tangling, you should wrap them around a pencil. After attempting this several times, I concluded that the suggester has never experienced gravity, as necklaces would just slide right off. Taping them seemed silly (and bad for the necklace), and then they usually fell off anyway (what? I tried it!).

So many, many moons ago, my mom got me a jewelry wallet, at the time from The Container Store. After I lost it due to intense flea-related cleaning (a lot of our stuff accidentally ended up in the garbage that week), we searched high and low for a new one, but it always evaded capture. Somehow, my mom found it again a few years ago – but I am unable to track down a good link to provide you with myself. But if you search “travel jewelry wallet”, you can find many excellent options.

Anyway, this is a must-have if you’re bringing multiple necklaces and/or earrings. Individual slots let you clasp necklaces through them so that they can’t tangle in transit, and a strip of leather with holes poked through makes for a perfect earring holder. Mine also has a zip pouch in the middle, which is great for bracelets and other items that are too big for the other sections. Plus, when you close it, it looks like a large wallet (hence the name) and slides easily into a backpack for travel.

4. Drawstring bag: $5-20


I love traveling with these for lots of reasons. They fit the entire contents of my purse as well as a water bottle, travel guide, and any other required accessories. They’re much more thief-proof than a backpack, as the bag’s own weight keeps it closed when it’s slung over your shoulders. And, the best part – I can make my boyfriend take turns carrying it, instead of just me carrying everything in my purse for everyone.

To be honest, I’ve never paid for one of these in my entire life – I always get them as swag, thanks to college, a job, and a sporting team. But you can find an entire category of them on Amazon with every logo and color and price you can imagine.

5. Organizer: $12-25


These are a requirement for any traveler who has basic hygiene needs. I use one of these for my toothbrush, toothpaste, contacts, glasses, medicines, deodorant, comb, etc. I highly recommend getting one that is squishable (so it doesn’t take up unnecessary room in your carry-on), has a flat bottom and a zip around the top (this is personal preference, but I like having the top stay open when needed), and is made of a material that can get wet and not be destroyed (since it’s probably going to hang out next to the sink a lot). You can find these at any drugstore or beauty store. The one pictured above is from Ulta.

I love having all of the necessities in one small bag with a handle, so I can just yank it out as needed. Easy to find and easy to use!

6. Earplugs and sleep mask: $5-20

Plane travel. Screaming children. Loud passengers. Drink carts. Need I say more?

7. Seat back pocket protector: $20-30


Full disclosure: I haven’t actually used one of these, but my boyfriend got one as a present for my aunt and uncle and it seems awesome. This thing goes in the seat back pocket in front of you on the plane, and you can put all your stuff in it instead of in the pocket itself. Not only does this seem more hygienic (I always feel gross holding my phone up to my face after it’s spent a few hours in that pocket), but it seems like you’re less likely to forget your stuff. If you’re like my mom who left a portable charger, or my boyfriend who left a water bottle, or my dad who left an iPad and a book, or my grandma who left a Kindle, you might want to invest in one of these.

We found this one at Macy’s for $28, but I’m sure you can shop around and find other options as well. Think bright colors so you won’t forget the entire thing!

If you have other suggestions, let me know in the comments!