Thursday, September 25, 2014

our first real vacation, part two. (where we stayed and what we did)

last time i talked your ear off (or wrote your eyeballs off? not sure of the appropriate expression here) about how we just went on our very first vacation and how we ended up in san francisco. 

nowhere in that post did i mention where we stayed or what we did or how we felt about it or anything like that. and in case thats what you were looking for (like, i dont know, if you happen to be here because youre planning a trip to san francisco and want to find out some fun not super touristy things to do), thats what im going to talk about today, where we stayed and what we did. 

so lets get going, shall we?

where we stayed: 

honestly, finding a hotel for this trip was a little problematic: we werent going to have a car, so they location needed to be excellent, but we also didnt have a lot of money budgeted for the hotel room, so anything in the immediate vicinity of any of the typical touristy areas were WAY out of the question. so i started looking at maps to see what kind of areas were in the MIDDLE of the things we wanted to see, so that we could get where we wanted to go easily via public transit. 

this sounds really simple in theory, but for someone that doesnt travel, this was a seriously tall order (also, after anything more than 20 minutes or so browsing hotel sites keeping all the details/prices straight was impossible so i kept getting things mixed up). but after lots of advice from a friend thats an expert at travel, and more research than id ever done for anything at school (bear in mind i majored in fine arts so my idea of tons of research is probably way below average), we eventually decided on hotel carlton, which was basically right on the edge of downtown downtown and fancy downtown. 

this turned out to be an excellent decision. this hotel was everything id dreamed of, and more. i joked on twitter about how literally everyone i know would have hated this hotel (small rooms, no pool, no gym, small tv, basic cable, no mini-fridge, no free breakfast, in the middle of the city, valet parking only), but it had everything that *i* look for in a hotel: historical building, convenient location, high end mattress/linens, great customer service, impeccable decor, and most importantly, an appealing restaurant with things that i can actually eat (oh, and their AAA discount is NO JOKE, like, almost 30%). i ADORED this hotel. like, didnt-want-to-ever-leave-ill-just-become-eloise-and-live-here-forever adored it. 

honestly i wasnt even going to give the hotel its own bullet point but i was so heart eyes emojis over it i just had to. if youre looking for a sweet place to crash in san francisco, hotel carlton gets 34526789046 thumbs up from me. 

what we did: 

while we were planning the trip, people kept asking what we were going to do there, i guess expecting some grand agenda of sightseeing and tourist activities. because every time i answered "oh, i dont know, eat? sleep in? enjoy not being at home?", i was generally met with an overwhelming list of suggestions that were either unrealistic for a short, car-free trip, or really expensive and would totally take away from our "only eat awesome food" budget.

really all i cared about was going to the walt disney family museum, golden gate park, and maaaaaybe fishermans wharf. and food. really the primary motivation for this trip (and really everything i do) was food. if youre familiar with the area, you probably know that none of these things are exactly close to each other, BUT the location of our hotel made it seem pretty easy to do at least those three things in the two full days we had for activities. 

i set my usual (very low) bar for trip at "lets go to one place each day, maybe come back to the hotel and chill for a while, then go out to dinner". and boy was i wrong. 

we ended up doing way, way more than i had anticipated. and it was awesome

sundays agenda was to go to the walt disney family museum, and then possibly fishermans wharf in the evening (each one was only one short bus ride from the hotel, this seemed totally reasonable). i feel like now is a good time to mention that we had NO intentions of going to see the bridge (wed both seen it, and its just a bridge), or going to alcatraz (because it was really expensive and took most of the day and neither of us was interested in spending half our vacation at an abandoned prison), or walking the trails around/through the presidio (because we didnt think wed have time). 

well, a missed bus stop (because somebody was depending on google maps to tell him when it was time to get off the bus, cough cough) on the way to the museum meant we did  see the bridge (and obviously take the required selfies):

and of course, we *saw* alcatraz (i felt the need to photograph it since it was an unusually bright and clear day):

then we asked the lady at the golden gate bridge information desk exactly how we were supposed to get to the museum. she said "theres a free shuttle coming in about 40 minutes over there". james and i looked at the map at the shuttle stop and were like "yeah, theres NO WAY thats a 40 minute walk, lets just go" and followed the nearest walking trail toward that general direction. 

which was all fine and dandy for about 20 minutes until we get to the point where all the trails get all tangled with all the roads that go through the presidio and theres a freaking highway that cuts through and we can NOT tell where we are and all signs point to us being totally and hopelessly LOST and i start having a meltdown about being lost in a strange city and tired and too hot to wear a coat but too cold to not wear a coat and hungry and WHY COULDNT WE HAVE JUST GOTTEN OFF AT THE CORRECT BUS STOP and then like five minutes later we found ourselves at the correct park by the museum (chrissy field?) where unbeknownst to us (because im terrible at travel and didnt think to research what kind of free events the city might have) this was happening:

which, if you cant tell, is some kind of farmers market/food truck extravaganza (i believe it was called off the grid?), OF THE UTMOST FANCINESS. seriously, there was a champagne bar at this park (also, you can drink in public in san francisco?). obviously my meltdown subsided and we decided on ice cream for lunch because we are adults. 

and only then (after the bridge and trails through the entire presidio) did we reach our intended destination: 

(i feel like i should add at this point it was like 1:30 pm and HOLY MOLY we can do a lot real fast without a toddler in tow)

now if youre into disney and museums (which are probably my two favorite activities), the walt disney family museum is AWESOME. the museum is HUGE and covers everything from walt disneys family history, personal life, and career all the way from his first experiments in animation all the way to his death. we were there for a good three hours and  learned SO much. one particularly amusing part of the museum is actually the lobby, where they have case after case after case of basically every award walt disney was ever awarded with. 

heres a picture of a case with JUST academy awards: 

obviously my favorite part of the whole museum was the part about disneyland. and obviously my favorite part of that was the teeny-tiny-scale model of the original park plans: 

james and i spent at least half an hour looking at it, pointing out the changes and comparing it to the park today. this was probably my favorite not-food part of the whole trip. 

also, the museum has a separate gallery that has special exhibitions of various disney-related art, and we happened to catch the very last day of the mary blair show. now, until this point i had no idea who mary blair even was, but it turns out shes the artist/conceptual designer behind basically everything disney did in the 50s and 60s. 

meaning there was TONS of concept art from alice in wonderland (among other things, obviously, but the alice in wonderland rooms were my favorite:

im really glad we were able to catch the very last day of the show, it was TOTALLY worth the extra $5. 

oh, and then james drew this cute little picture in the guestbook. i guess thats his thing now:

by time we were finished with the museum it was almost dinner time, and we had to decide if we were going back to the hotel, or wanted to try and find somewhere nice to eat around fishermans wharf. we decided to go straight to finding dinner, which resulted in quite the transportation fiasco as the bus that took us out of the presidio was headed in the opposite direction of where we needed to go, and then a guy at a liquor store gave us some VERY bad directions, and then we ended up taking another bus and a cable car to finally get where we needed to be. 

which (after what had happened that morning) had me REALLY grumpy, but then we went to the penny arcade and to an gluten-free friendly italian place that had THE most amazing baked polenta (id have to say this was my favorite food-related part of the trip) so it was all better. 

since we kind of frequent the ghirardelli ice cream place at california adventure, i thought it would be fun to to to the actual ghirardelli square: 

but in all honesty, the disneyland version is better. it was crowded, ALL the tables were dirty, the service was meh and my strawberry ice cream TOTALLY had chunks of other flavors of ice cream stuck in it. totally overrated. literally my only disappointment the entire trip. 

since we did almost everything on the list (and a whole bunch of stuff that wasnt on the list) on sunday, mondays plans were minimal: we were going to take the bus to golden gate park, see whatever there and then do whatever for the rest of the day (as long as we didnt stay out late because we had to be at the airport at 11 on tuesday). 

so we went to golden gate park. the bus route we took dropped us off near the middle of the park, and it was way too cold/windy to want to walk towards the beach end, so we had a picnic of snacks near a lake and we saw rose gardens and we went to the outside of the super awesome science museum but then we saw the tickets were $35 each (no student discounts) so we passed on that:

then we walked towards the haight street end though the really awesome kids playground but couldnt go on the concrete slides because grown ups arent allowed to play in the park without kids (true story: there were like ten signs that said that). 

we spent the rest of the day leisurely browsing the shops on haight street. obviously we went to amoeba even though thats something we can totally do at home:

(actually, the haight street amoeba is WAY nicer and more pleasant to shop at than the hollywood one). 

we went to quite a few REALLY great shops, including an artisan foods store with FREE SAMPLES of everything, the oddities shop from that tv show about oddities shops, and a vintage shop with actual historical pieces going all the way back to the 1890's, BUT it seemed that the majority of stores (that we went to, at least) had a strict "no cameras/no pictures" policy so i dont have much to show for our shopping day. 

oh, dont worry though, even though we were totally over it by then, we did make sure to walk as far as ashbury street:

while i did really enjoy shopping in the haight-ashbury area, i was certainly caught off-gaurd by the distinct lack of any actual hippies. sure there were plenty of hobos and drug dealers, but mainly most of the folks we saw around were obnoxious teenagers and hip young people. and while the area near golden gate park seemed to mostly be eclectic, hippy type shops, but closer to ashbury street, there seemed to be a lot of higher end stores. not that i was disappointed by any means, its just, i felt a lot more like i was in like, santa monica rather than a neighborhood widely known for its association with hippy counterculture. just my observation. 

to complete our adventures in accidental sightseeing (seeing as neither the golden gate bridge, presidio, nor haight-ashbury were even on our list of activities for consideration) the bus route we took back to the hotel involved walking through the fancy, historical part of downtown, (you know, like city hall and stuff), right at sunset:

which was, quite frankly, a heck of a lot more impressive than i was able to quickly photograph while trying not to freeze to death. it was a nice end to the touristy portion of the trip. 

seeing as our flight home was at 1:00 all we had time for on tuesday was one last breakfast at flour & co (an AMAZING and surprisingly cheap bakery/breakfasty joint with gluten free options that just so happened to be three blocks from our hotel) before going to the airport,  flying home (seriously, why would anyone drive from la to sf? its cheaper and SO MUCH FASTER to fly), getting picked up and dropped off at home (thanks again, mom!), and then going STRAIGHT TO MY FIVE AND A HALF HOUR SEWING CLASS (not one of my best decisions, but im proud to say that i did survive). 

so yeah, long story short, it was an AMAZING trip to have as our first experience of being on vacation together. we did so much fun stuff, ate so much good food, and it took me a good two weeks to recover enough to get back into somewhat normal routines as far as home and work are concerned. 

so yeah, that was our vacation. i cant wait to do it again. though next time id like to bring alice, cause i think shed get a kick out of it too. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

our first real vacation, part one. (where we went)

a couple weekends ago james and i went on our very first real vacation as a couple. honestly i meant to write about this RIGHT when we got back but apparently it takes a LONG time to recover from getting off an airplane and going straight to a five hour class. who knew? (sarcasm)

(also, i had originally intended to put this all in one post, but as i was writing it got longer and longer and i dont want to keep you forever so im going to break it up into a mini-series, if thats ok with you)

but back to where i was supposed to be going. yes, james and i have been married for four years, and weve never been on a proper vacation (even for our honeymoon we spent the week in san deiego and didnt really go anywhere because planning and executing a diy wedding is exhausting and who wants to go on an adventure after that)

thats not to say weve never traveled together at all, i mean, we dated long distance, made a few trips between arizona and california after we were married, and spent a few weekends in san diego, but ALL of those trips have been some kind of a family commitment, and were partly (or wholly) paid for by the family that we were on the trip to visit. 

wed just never been on vacation. like, a just us going to a not-family determined place to do whatever we want on our own money kind of thing. wed never been able to afford it, and wed never had a kid old enough to spend a few days at grandmas (thanks again, mom!). but like ive mentioned before, a lots been changing around here. alice is (obviously) older and more capable and a sleepover (or three) is no big deal. and james worked crazy insane overtime all summer so our savings account was topped off enough that a short trip somewhere not too far away was totally doable. 

so to celebrate our fourth anniversary, we finally went on our first real vacation. i just want to reiterate right here, that this was a HUGE FREAKING DEAL and i still cant believe that its real life. 

where did we go? san francisco (in case the photo at the beginning of the post didnt make it totally obvious). 

and theres kind of a funny story behind this: 

see, about a year ago (right before alices second birthday), james had to go up to san francisco for work for a week (maybe two? i dont remember), and when he came home, the first thing out of his mouth was "victoria, we are never, EVER going on vacation to san francisco, it is the worst place that i have ever been to in my life". i immediately started bawling because (in addition to having mega anxiety about alices birthday party and the surrounding drama), san francisco happened to be my #1 choice of a reasonable, not-european vacation destination. 

i remember sobbing (in the parking lot of a party city while picking up balloons) while explaining to james about how badly i wanted to go to san francisco some day, but it really didnt matter because we were in a poopy financial situation and would never be able to afford a trip, and even if we could, he had multiple engaged friends who were having out of town weddings within the year and those trips would eat up any savings we had for a trip that i would actually enjoy and i was just never, ever going to be able to get a vacation. at which point he said "then were not going to those weddings. were not going anywhere until i take you to san francisco". 

and so he did. 

(side note: i just realized while typing that paragraph that this was literally the most romantic thing that has ever happened in our entire relationship because holy moly we really are the least romantic couple thats ever existed)

booking the trip was kind of a HUGE stress factor for me because 1. im really bad at making giant purchases in general, 2. the last time i picked/booked a hotel was for our honeymoon and i had NO IDEA how i was going to find a good place within our budget in a city i had never even been to before, and 3. the last time i bought plane tickets/went to the airport i was like 16 and it was back in the dinosaur times when you could bring liquids on airplanes. vacation planning is NOT my element. 

but, (spoiler alert) i was able to handle it (even if james literally pushed the "buy now" buttons on BOTH the plane tickets and the hotel reservation), and we had a totally awesome time. 

but since youre probably totally bored by now, ill let you go here. stay tuned for party two: where we stayed + what we did. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

cutting back on sponsorships.

like any blogger, i love the idea of getting to make money from blogging. and i love the idea of getting to help other bloggers and shop wonders even more. offering blog sponsorships seemed to be the best, most personalized way to do this. 

but, as you can imagine, its a lot of work. and for me, it can be really difficult to balance my sponsor features and normal posts and to tie them together so that this blog makes sense. some bloggers are really great at this. i am not one of them. im also not particularly great at staying on top of emails and scheduling and communication, and in an effort to try and cater to every possible scenario of somebody wanting to sponsor me, i made way too many different packages/options/prices/etc. and its just not working anymore. 

but thats not to say that im getting rid of sponsorships entirely. because i do want this blog to be an active part of the blogging community. i want to help and support other bloggers but i also want to protect myself from getting so burned out that i dont blog at all for two months again. because that was bad. 

so I'm cutting back the options. instead of like, fifteen, now there are two: 

large ad: $8- includes 250x250 sidebar banner, 4 (or more) social media shootouts, AND your own whole guest post! topics are all yours as long as it at least somewhat relates to the poverty luxe lifestyle and you can even do a solo giveaway as long as you furnish the prize and rafflecopter code. 

you can see more details (and updated stats) on my sponsor page

small ad: $3 (available for swap)- 125x250 banner, includes welcome post on twitter (to my almost 1000 followers), plus possible social media shootouts depending on content. 

and if you have an idea for a different way that we can work together, id love to hear it! shoot me an email at, ill probably say yes. 

bloggers: do you offer sponsorships? whats your #1 tip to balance sponsor/"real" content? 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

jamberry fall catalog launch giveaway (and why you should totally host a party with me)

i have been waiting a long, long, LONG time to be able to share this with you. and now i finally can: there are some freaking AMAZING things going on with jamberry right now. 

see, the new catalog just came out. and in addition to a few dozen new designs (im talking, over 100) we also have a few other new products that are totally awesome, like:

1. the new purple mini heater: i mean, how cute is this? 

2. stylebox by jamberry: $25 a month for two sheets (one exclusive to stylebox subscribers only!) every month with free shipping? who can say no to that? 

and last but not least: 

3. ALL THE INCREDIBLE NEW DESIGNS: i mean, weve got halloween wraps:

christmas wraps: 

new florals: 

new juniors: 

new sheer tinted wraps: 

wraps that are both a sparkle AND a pattern: 

seriously SO many new designs. 

obviously, you can order anything your little heart desires right here from my jamberry site. and i really appreciate that. BUT! if you want to get even more from this catalog launch, you should totally host a catalog launch party with me. why? 

because you want the new wraps. theres just SO many and you want them ALL, right? 

because you dont want to pay for ALL those wraps. jamberry has just about THE most generous hostess rewards of any "party" company, i mean, just take a look at all the goodies you can get for free: 

(also, the next few hostess exclusive wraps are AWESOME)

because its super easy and ill do all the work for you. there are a few ways we can do this: 1. the facebook party (closed facebook group where i talk about jamberry, answer questions, and send out samples to everyone that participates. 2. if youre not big on facebook, we can do a party on your blog with our new lookbook feature. 3. i can mail you catalogs and samples to do a mini-home party, OR if you live close enough, we can do an in home party at your house!

I'm looking to start parties as SOON as we get back from vacation on the 10th, so please, PLEASE shoot me an email if you want to get started, i promise it will be TONS of fun!

oh, and while were at it, why dont we have a little giveaway? i have a full sheet (good for two manicures and two pedicures with wraps to spare!) of the winners choice up for grabs! the giveaway runs for one week (until september 10th) at which point the winner will be selected and notified. enter through the rafflecopter widget right here, and good luck!

Monday, September 1, 2014

how i totally won at textbooks this semester.

a while ago i wrote a post about ways to save money as a college student. one of my key points was to skip the school bookstore (and textbook rentals for that matter) and use to find the absolute best price, and then selling those books yourself on 

this has always worked really well for me, but at the time i didnt have a concrete example of exactly how beneficial this could be, since it had been quite some time since i had done such a thing. but this semester i did. 

and i totally won. 

for my "career opportunities in fashion" class last semester, i bought the book (which was $106 in the school bookstore, as if) from amazon for $76. i used it all semester, and when school got out i put it up on for the going rate on that site: $90. 

awesome, right? it gets better. 

last week the book sold. right at the same time that i went to the  school bookstore to get the ISBNs for this semesters books. three classes, three books. obviously i went straight to and found that one was about $10, one was $17, was $56 (prices from, including tax and shipping). total for books this semester? $83. 

as of right now, im turning a profit on books. (not supplies though, seems like im going to need a lot of those this semester which i am not happy about). 

so this semester seems to be getting off to a great start. plus, i still have another $90 book up for sale...

have you ever defeated the textbook monster? id love to hear the story in the comments!