It’s time to pack up and head home for the holidays. Lucky for me, I consider myself a master packer. It may be genetics (what my dad could fit in the trunk of a station wagon growing up was pretty darn impressive!) or a lot of practice, but give me an hour and a carry-on suitcase and I’ll be ready for up to a two-week journey. I decided to photograph one of my recent packing challenges — one carry-on, eight days in Southern California, three days in Northern California, for both business and pleasure — and share it with you. The key is being organized and having a plan.
The plan starts with the shoes. Yes, shoes. Take no more than 3 pairs, which includes the ones you wear on the plane (always the biggest or bulkiest pair) and flip flops, if needed. Once you’ve chosen which shoes you’re going to wear during your trip, you can work backwards and decide which clothes to bring. Everything you bring should be wearable in multiple combinations, so it’s helpful to choose basic bottoms first and then tops that can be mixed and matched.
When I go abroad, I start with a list. When I travel domestically, I start with a mess!
I throw everything on my bed that I think I might like to wear and then go back over my rules. Can everything be worn in multiple combinations? Does everything work with the shoes I picked? If the answer is no, I put the items back in my closet or drawers. Next, I fold the clothes neatly and review them again.
Do I have something for each day or event? If any clothes are in the without-a-purpose or “what if I might need or want to wear this” categories, they go back in the closet or drawers. (You’ll rarely miss something that you don’t have and will always find a way to work with what you brought.) With what I need…and only what I need…selected, it’s time to start packing.
In the great roll vs. fold debate, I come out squarely in the middle. I recommend a modified roll-fold. I find that it saves space and helps with organization, as I can group together outfits and more easily live out of my suitcase. Let’s take jeans and tops as our example. (You’ll notice this is one pair of jeans — one of my basics — with four different tops.)
Start with a pair of jeans folded vertically and laid flat.
Next, lay the tops folded lengthwise on top of the jeans.
When traveling in multiple climates, layering is key, so I brought a cardigan that could be worn with any of these tops and the jeans, and put it on top of the pile.
Now it’s time for the modified roll-fold. With all of the layers inside, fold the bottom piece of clothing into thirds,
so that you end up with one small stack of clothes.
Do this again with each type of clothing — in my case, clothes that went with a black dress and workout gear.
Slide your piles into your suitcase, slipping a small pair of shoes (flip flops for me) on the sides.
Put your second pair of shoes on top
and you have a perfectly packed suitcase!
The tiny things left over (bathing suit, underwear, socks, etc.) can be packed in the pockets of the suitcase; toiletries can go in a backpack or day bag.
It turns out that all aspects of travel, even packing, can provide baking inspiration. So what’s a treat that’s small, has just the right number of ingredients, and is packed with flavor? Browned Butter Cardamom Cookies! I found this recipe on the Land O’Lakes website and tweaked it to maximize on the cardamom flavor.
If you have packing tips to share, leave them in the comments section of this post!
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 3/4 + 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom, divided
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a 2 quart saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until butter just starts to turn golden brown and gets foamy and bubbles (approximately 3-5 minutes). Immediately remove from heat, pour into a bowl, and refrigerate until cooled (approximately 30 minutes).
- Prepare a bowl with 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cardamom; set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine browned butter and sugar; beat at medium speed until well mixed. Add egg yolk, vanilla, and 1/2 + 1/8 teaspoons of cardamom. Continue beating until well mixed. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour, beating until batter forms dough.
- Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place them 1 inch apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies puff and start to turn light golden brown.
- Immediately remove cookies from cookie sheets, cool one minute, and roll cookies in powdered sugar mixture. Allow cookies to cool completely. Add 1 cup powdered sugar to bowl and roll cookies again.
- Store in container between sheets of waxed paper.