Category Archives: Travel

Fetching Furniture: Our May Road Trip to Littleton, NH

Ryan and I drove north for Memorial Day weekend, leaving Maple in New Jersey with my in-laws, then continuing north to New Hampshire.

We stayed two nights, which meant we essentially drove two days for one day of vacation, but we have so much fun on our route to and from Littleton. We’ve got coffee shops and cafes to stop at every 2 or so hours.

But to understand why we took this trip, you have to hop back in time.

October, 2014:

Last October, Ryan and I had planned another road trip to Littleton. We wanted to buy a dresser for Maple’s nursery from Just L, our favorite mid-century furniture store. When my mom passed away just a day before our trip was supposed to start, we had a quick conversation about what to do. My mom had adamantly stated that there would be no funeral or service, so we had a choice. Go on the trip, and get a few raised eyebrows, or sit around the house being sad with my dad. We chose to travel, and we brought my dad along with us.

It was an unconventional thing to do for sure, but it was right for us.New Hampshire Jane Pop Hiking October 2014

We hiked the White Mountains and found a little peace in nature. We made fires and s’mores in the log cabin. We showed my dad around town and took him to the Mount Washington Hotel.

Omni Mt Washington New Hampshire Winter Cloudy

Gorgeous, even in the gloom of late fall.

Omni Mount Washington Winter

We met the Republican candidates for the upcoming election in the local diner. We were photographed awkwardly by photographers while talking to the candidate who was the former president of our company. My extremely liberal dad gleefully told the candidates he was rooting for their opponents. I think that was the highlight of the trip for him. . . But I digress.

We bought a gorgeous dresser at Just L, but we couldn’t fit it in the car with three adult passengers. We hoped to return before Maple’s arrival, but my back nerve pain was so bad that we couldn’t go back in time.

May 2015:

This Memorial Day Weekend turned out to be perfect time for our first baby-free trip! On Saturday morning Ryan and I left her in New Jersey and hit the road. I was a wreck for the first few hours, worried that Maple would be super stressed without me and my MIL wouldn’t get any sleep.

Spoiler alert: The only one stressed was me.

I’ll be honest – the part of the trip I was most excited about was the sleeping part. No baby to wake me up! I spoiled it for myself, though, because I couldn’t fall asleep at night due to my excitement about the prospect of sleep. And when I did sleep, I kept waking up. Whoops!

Ryan and I had an awesome time, and found that two nights away was just the right length. A lot of things didn’t go according to plan.

It was cold the first night, so we went to Wal-Mart (the only place that was open) for sweatshirts. The only sweatshirts in the entire store said “Vermont.” We were in New Hampshire. We bought them anyway.

The next morning we awoke to beautiful weather, and didn’t need the out-of-state sweatshirts. As we left the motel for a late breakfast, Ryan gestured to the otherwise empty parking lot and said

“See all those people? Those are the ones traveling with little kids.” Ha!

Eastgate Motor Lodge Littleton NH

When we arrived at the Omni Mount Washington for a planned afternoon of cocktails and lounging in rocking chairs on their back porch, admiring the views and relaxing, we were turned away at the gate. Along with every other car that arrived.

Omni Mount Washington Spring New Hampshire

It turns out that a group had rented the entire resort for the entire weekend. So we hiked instead.

And we were turned away at the gate of the first hike we attempted, because it was closing. But we found a better trail and did 4 good miles.

That was probably a lot better than lounging, eating, and drinking – because we did that in the evening at our belated Mother’s Day dinner at the Inn at Sugar Hill. We had enjoyed the 4-course meal here on our honeymoon and enjoyed it again.

There was, of course, some shopping, and most important of all – we picked up the dresser! At 6 feet long, it just barely fit in the back of my station wagon, and I joked to Ryan that maybe I needed a minivan. Not for babies, but for furniture! :)

Dresser Master Bedroom

Monday’s drive back to Maple in New Jersey was good – just like the trip North, during the trip south we appeared to be driving against traffic. Maybe New England is a good Memorial Day destination, when everyone else is heading to the beach?

The time alone to just converse like an adult with Ryan was refreshing , and bringing home the dresser was exciting, but I’ll be honest:

The best part of the trip was when we arrived back in Jersey, and I got to spend all night being woken up by my hungry baby.

Life is funny that way.

Is Any Place Perfect? Tips from the Relocation Coach

Today I’m excited to share a guest post from a fellow entrepreneur, Allegra Stein – The Relocation Coach.  I met Allegra through another small business friend – love how the circle grows like that!  When I came home from my mountain escape and mentioned I wished I didn’t have to live in DC anymore, Allegra asked me if she could share a post related to that.  Heck yeah – I’d love some tips on how to be happy where I am when I’m not yet ready to move!

Is there a perfect place  Allegra Stein Relocation Consultant

Not happy where you live but don’t want to move? What’s the solution??

I think as we get older we start to realize that there really is very rarely a “perfect” situation. Life is changing, sometimes radically, with every passing moment.

It’s no longer about choice A or B…but about C, D, E….X…..ZZ…

And the variables — oh the variables.  With every year that passes we have more and more to think about and figure out with every decision we make. What will my mom think? My husband? Girlfriend? Children? Will I get a job? But I love the OCEAN! This isn’t a walking town!

We want it all.

But “all” is an anomaly.  The more we wait for everything around us to be perfect, the longer we wait to find true peace in and acceptance of our current circumstances.

So — what to do.  How can we handle our choice to live in a city when we deep down we want the mountains? How do we balance the peace and quiet of a desert lifestyle with our passion for water?

Here’s a little exercise to try.

Create three columns on a piece of paper.

  1. In the first column, list out the 10 features of your ideal “setting” and home spot.  Example: Walking town; 20 minutes from the Pacific ocean (hand raises!); lots of dining options; cool weather; great public transportation; woods; garden; middle of nowhere.
  2. In the second column, try to explain WHY you want that feature. How is it an expression of your identity and external self? ex: 20 minutes from the Pacific:  being near the ocean just feels right; it’s a part of who I am and I feel very peaceful when I can hear the surf and waves crashing.
  3. Place an “x” next to or highlight the features of your dream setting that your current space does NOT have.
  4. In the final column, for each of the items you’re missing from the original list, list three options you have to creatively satisfy that need you described in column three

Example –  Pacific Ocean.  Creative alternatives:  plan two weekend trips to the closest lake/beach/river/reservoir in my area; listen to ocean wave white noise while working; budget for one trip/year to the west coast so I can be sure to get my Pacific Fix.

It’s not perfect, I know. The only perfect solution is one we can’t really have — all of the things we love most in the exact same space at just the moment we need those things.

But what it does is get you to explore some options. To realize that life is never black and white. That you either have a big garden or ZERO fresh vegetables. The Pacific OR no ocean living ever. OR total isolation.

There are middle spaces. You just have to get creative about finding them.

Allegra Stein 2Allegra Stein, The Relocation Coach, helps takes relocations from regrettable to revelatory, teaching you how to use geographic change as a way of learning more about who you are, how you think, and what you want out of life. You can find her at and on twitter @allegrastein

How to Fly, Pack, and Sleep: Business Travel Tips

For the last few years I’ve been traveling a lot for work.  At first it was very fun and exciting, and I thought I would never tire of feeling the plane take off – but I’m starting to be over it.

However, I still make the most of my travel, trying to have adventures and discover fun little spots and interesting, artsy towns on every trip, schedule permitting.

For example, this week I’m in Winter Park, Florida.  Actually, I’m in Altamonte Springs, but that town is boring so I drive 10 min to Winter Park for good food, awesome parks, and beautiful neighborhoods to walk in.  It’s a hidden gem amongst the Disney-fied spread of the Orlando area. I’m not sure what it would be like to live here, because it’s a bit ritzy and maybe the demographic is more wealthy retired people, but the locally-owned shops, gorgeous homes, and a good restaurant make me happy.

But I digress.  During all my travels I’ve come up with a few tricks to make things easier.  Here they are!

Business Travel Tips - The Borrowed Abode #travel


Select an aisle or window seat in the last 5 rows of the plane.

After one too many California-to-DC flights where I was stuck in a middle seat between two broad-shouldered business men, I came up with this plan of attack. It hasn’t failed me since. People are not going to choose a middle seat in the back-most rows of the plane unless every other possible seat is full.  Therefore, you dramatically increase the chances of having an open seat next to you.

At The Hotel:

  1. Check the sheets! As soon as you get to your room, peel back the comforter and blankets at the foot of the bed, and check the sheets for hair or dirt or evidence of bedbugs.  It’s much easier to change rooms before you unpack!
  2. Keep it Quiet:  Take one large bath towel, roll it into a kind of towel log, and shove it against the bottom of your door each night before you go to sleep. I don’t know why they do it, but hotels seem to always have doors that stop about an inch from the floor. My not-yet-patented Towel Log Technique does a great job of muffling sounds.
  3. Make Some Noise: Speaking of sounds, my next tip is to have a sound machine app installed on your phone.  It’s another great way to mask unwanted noises and get a better night’s sleep.  On my droid I liked the free HonkShooLite app and on my iPhone I use Sleep Machine (also free).
  4. Hoard Toiletries: I will be honest, I always steal the leftover toiletries because I donate them to my homeless shelter. You may be able to do this too.

    Business Travel Tips Muffle Noise in Hotel Room

    My not-yet-patented Towel Roll sound muffler.

How To Pack:

I love fashion, but I hate lugging a heavy suitcase around the airport. My solution is to pack light on the clothing side, because I always have to travel with my DSLR and two laptops (one for work, one for personal use) and marketing materials. That alone adds weight.

I’m going to be honest: I try and see how many outfits I can get out of very small amounts of clothes.

  1. Get a killer suit in a neutral color.  I go with a black suit.  You can technically wear the same suit with a different shirt under it each day on a business trip.   But if you don’t want to do that . . .
  2. Pack a simple skirt that will work with your suit jacket.  I often pack either a teal or lavender knee-length straight skirt.
  3. Add a few colorful tops that can be worn with either the suit or the skirt.
  4. Shoes:  I only pack one pair of work shoes – usually a black wedge heel.  I learned the hard way that conferences require a ton of walking and standing (usually) so now I try to straddle the line between cute and comfortable. I also pack a cute pair of flats for off-hours.
  5. I pack fun jewelry to mix things up (but never my treasured items, just in case).  I also pack a few fun scarves, because meetings are always cold.
  6. I add a pair of skinny jeans and a sundress for my off hours, and I make sure the tops I pair with my suit are equally awesome with my skinny jeans.  Also, the blazer from the suit can still be worn with the jeans

I think that concludes my business travel tips.  If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments.  And if you have any questions, just ask! I’m happy to answer anything I left out.

Running to the Mountain

I’ve read a lot of books over the last few weeks, including the book Running to the Mountain by Jon Katz.  I loved Jon’s writing in the book A Dog Year, which chronicled his attempts to introduce a crazy border collie to his household.

Running to the Mountain was very different, discussing his search for peace that led him to buy a very dilapidated cabin on a mountain in the middle of nowhere.  I could relate as I dislike living in DC and would love to move to the mountains.

Fittingly enough, Ryan and I spent the last four days in a cabin in the woods of West Virginia.  It was so good to have this trip to have adventures with Merlin and recover (somewhat) from losing Charlie, even if the trip was originally planned to include her.  Cabin Sweet Cabin Lost River WV

We rented this charming cabin in Lost River, WV and it was easily one of the best cabins we’ve ever rented.  It had a fire place, it wasn’t tacky, and it had real wood paneling throughout.  Cabin Sweet Cabin Bedroom Lost River WV

The sun room was my favorite space.  I turned the big chair around and sat facing the windows, and it felt like I was high in the trees – especially on Saturday, when the weather was so balmy we cracked the windows.

Cabin Sweet Cabin Lost River WVThere was a big clearing around it which Merlin loved to inspect for smells every morning.  7-DSC_0419

Things we did:

Wine Cheese Fire Rum Cake

Read a lot and felt lazy in front of the fire. Ate Rum Cake for breakfast; cheese and fruit for dinner.

Played backgammon several times a day.  Lost River Signs

Almost went hiking in the Wildlife Management Area before I remembered that meant “hunting ground.”  So we turned around and climbed a mountain in Lost River State Park instead.

Hiking with Dogs

Merlin had a blast hiking . . . and apparently doing his business as I attempted to model my spiffy fanny pack.  That’s right, a fanny pack. It’s light and easy and just the right size – but still totally hideous as an accessory.

Jane Merlin Lost River Mountain

Jane Ryan Merlin Lost River Mountain

We learned about a West Virginia water emergency from two men we found drinking wine together on a mountaintop, one of whom had just found out from a text from his wife in Colorado. What an amazing world we live in.

Lost River State Park Mountain ViewEnjoyed a 2-mile morning walk down country roads, in 60-degree weather.  Merlin made friends with a country dog.  We got caught in the rain on the way back and it felt glorious.

An evening sunset walk, just me and my Merlin, that followed the road up the mountain.  I glad I  didn’t bring my camera so I had to enjoy the spectacular sunset views in the moment.

Drove over the mountains with Merlin’s nose in the breeze.17-DSC_0448

Finally:  Looked online at real estate and realized that a simple cabin in this region is affordable for us, and set a mental goal of acquiring one in the next year or two.

Find even more photos here.

Where do you go to relax?