Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Toronto - how I got it all packed

View from the Toronto Hilton Hotel Ontario Canada
The view from room 3110, the Toronto Hilton
We're back!  And Toronto was wonderful - what a great, vibrant, busy, diverse city.  We will definitely go back, and I have much more to share with you about this trip.

But I received a lot of questions about how I packed - so I've got snapshots of the process!

Tumi Riggs carry-on bag

The bag - empty.  Those are my ghastly workout shoes next to the bag, so you can see how small the bag actually is.  This is the Tumi Riggs carry-on - no wheels.  I didn't even realized that they MADE one with wheels...  Maybe Tumi should give me one of those, eh?
Tumi Riggs carry-on bag partially packed

There's about 30% of my packing capacity already -  my shoes "bumpered" on the sides of my bag, and my pajamas rolled up and slid in between the shoes.  Since these shoes are pretty rigid, I stuffed them full of socks and underwear.  If they had been a bit squishier, I would have just smashed the uppers down pretty flat.

The inside of shoes is a great place to pack the charger for your cell phone...

Tumi Riggs carry-on bag partially packed

Unlike a more normal vacation, this one required jeans and a rugby jersey, both of which are quite bulky, but happily almost impossible to wrinkle. So I folded them both snugly, and tucked them into the bottom of my bag, next to my athletic shoes.  The bottom layer of my tote is now more or less flat, and completely full.
pile of folded garments ready to pack
The rest of my clothes were just a wee bitty stack of folded garments - compared to the jeans and jersey, EVERYTHING else I took was indeed a smaller parcel.  These garments, once I carefully folded them, sat right into the top of my bag.

fully packed Tumi Riggs carry-on bag
The scarf on top is one of those crinkly silk guys that you just twist and twist and twist and twist....  no worries about it getting wrinkled.  And I think you can see that I've got quite a bit of space still in the top of my bag, so when we decide on the return trip that we don't need to wear our jackets, I could easily pack mine and not have to worry about carrying it.
Tumi Riggs carry-on bag and Tumi diaper bag

The bag on the right is 10 years old - it's what I carry for a briefcase.  It was originally designed to be a diaper bag (no, I don't have children), but the straps are the perfect length to carry either over the shoulder or at my side, the little side pocket (you can see it's unzipped here) is perfect for passport and boarding passes, and the elastic "bottle pockets" on each end of the bag are a handy place to stash my fan, or a bottle of water, or my watch and bracelets when I'm going through security...

Was I happy with what I packed?  Not entirely. The weather was a little bit warmer than the weather forecasts and promised, so I did buy a FABULOUS tee shirt (more on the shopping later!) which I wore rather than my sheer linen sweater, when we went out to dinner the last evening we were there.  Overall, I think I should have trusted my instincts about how warm it would be, rather than believing the weather prognosticators...

But was I happy?  Oh, yes.  Absolutely.  Positively.  Completely.  

More about Toronto soon...

And a question - I have a real longing to put together some outfits with a painting as the reference point - the "Start With Art" that I've done in the past.  What's your favorite painting?


  1. I'm not choosing a favorite painting but I want to thank you for this. I love Neil Welliver's landscapes ever since the day, over 40 years ago, when I wandered into my college art gallery and saw a gigantic life-sized painting of a forest, hung so that you felt you could walk right unto the path into the trees.

    Looking at a page of his paintings, I realize that these are most of the elements I choose for my clothing! The speckled fish - the leopard and leopard-like patterns. The tracery of branches - my love for filigree and heavy laces. The slight paint-by-numbers unreality - my love of batik-like semi-graphic blossoms and foliage. How 'bout that. I never knew.

  2. Glad you had fun and if returning have some suggestions, knowing your style. Though I think they look smart, can't carry any heavy bag (like that Tumi) without wheels.

    I love Matisse's "Le dessert (Harmony in red)". I rarely wear much red, but the idea of wearing a range of reds intrigues me.

  3. does Dome LaFayette Paris qualify as a work of art ? It is spectacular !!!!!!


  4. I actually *own* a silk scarf depicting Starry starry night by Vincent Van Gogh (http://thebaresquare.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/the-starry-night-wallpapers_14829_2560x16002.jpg) so I think some outfits to go with that would be great!

  5. Another fan of Van Gogh here. One of my favorite paintings is his depiction of his bedroom in Arles. (More properly known as "The Bedroom.")

    And, by the way, a recent article in the New York Times says that the original colors were not what we know today. In the painting that we see today, the walls are a peaceful sky blue. But, according to this article, in the original painting the walls were a soft violet.


    (Wonderful post as usual.)

    . . . kris

  6. If I am understanding this correctly, you took two carry-on totes to Toronto? What did you take in the other bag? It looks like you had enough room in the Tumi for a 3-1-1 bag and other essentials.

    1. Books. I'm still at that stage - especially for leisure travel - where I need my books! My toiletries were also in there, and my cross-body bag that I carried during the day. Realistically, I should have whittled it down to one bag - you're entirely correct - but I'm so used to having my "briefcase" with me at all times...

      See? Even I could do a better job packing than I did!

    2. Janice, how do you blog when on the move ? and if you do carry technology ... HOW lol and which technology in such tiny carry ons ?

  7. Thanks for this post - I love to see packing steps! How much did the bag weigh when you were done? In theory, I love the idea of a lighter non-wheeled carry-on but in practice, my shoulders don't handle even light weight bags well.

    I have lots of favorite paintings so I picked one by one of my favorite artists. I like her moody, evocative portraits and her muted neutral color schemes.


    1. Each of these bags probably weight 12 or 14 poundsm fully loaded. I lift weights every day, and I used to work in the stock rooms at Williams-Sonoma, so I could realistically carry these bags for hours without too much strain.

  8. I was inspired by your recent use of Boreas by John Waterhouse, so I took a look at his work. I really do love Psyche Entering Cupid's Garden. The soft muted colors suit me and I think a wardrobe built with these would be very versatile. It seems everything would go with everything else.


  9. After visiting the Chicago Art Institute, I have so many new favorite paintings. The one I have already used on my blog is SHOE SHOP by Elizabeth Sparhawk Jones! Weather is such a packing spoiler....there was one day in Chicago I was freezing to death...since I left my trench at home! Sometimes it is hard to know.

  10. Please use a painting by Gauguin


  11. I always look forward to your posts, Janice! I'd love to see you do a set around my favorite Charley Harper print. http://charleyharper.com/double-lucky-framed.html

  12. Love your work, Janice, today's included - something for me to strive for.

    Okay, so call me a traditionalist and a hopeless romantic, but my favorite painting has to be Monet's 'The Artist's Garden at Giverny, 1900'- the one with a peek of a shale path wandering through. Soft, dreamy, I try to do my own garden in these colors as well as feature them often in my clothing for spring and summer. But I'd like to use them more in my winter wardrobe as well.

  13. Glad you enjoyed your trip to Toronto. I'm looking forward to your impressions, etc. - it's fun to get a fresh perspective on my hometown.

  14. *Love* your packing posts, please keep them coming! I love Van Gogh's Starry Night and also the Iris paintings--just looked at them and realized they are full of cobalt blue, which is my favorite color to wear and which I'm trying to buy more of. But I would love to combine it in a more interesting fashion than I do.--Adelfa

  15. Nicely done! Isn't Toronto a great place? Sadly, I haven't been there in years. But the last time I was there was special because we went to see "Phantom of the Opera" while it was playing at the Pantages Theater (now called the Ed Mirvish Theater)--it was magical.

  16. http://www.katsushikahokusai.org/Weeping-Cherry-and-Bullfinch.html

    I found your page just a few days ago and I like it a lot.
    One of my favorite paintings is "weeping cherry and bullfink" by Hokusai, a Japanese artist. I like the subtle colors.
    Greetings from Germany, Eva

  17. I am a Toronto girl cant wait to hear your impressions!

  18. An artwork for inspiration. How about anything by Marc Chagall? Paintings, maybe the circus series, or the stained glass windows you should have easy access to (I'm envious). Lovely blues.

  19. Wait! Where did you put all your make up, magnifying make-up mirror, electric hair straightener/curler, lint brush, phone/kindle/computer chargers, etc??? ;-) I so admire someone that can leave that all behind. Sadly, I don't think I can. I can manage with a carry-on wheeled bag for a week, but it would be too heavy to carry.

    1. I had to laugh at this because I've traveled overseas with my sister who does indeed bring along a full-size lighted, magnifying make-up mirror, "travel size" electric rollers, hair dryer, make-up, plug converters, and a lot of clothes she never wears. She has a large-ish bag of wheels and often takes a lightweight hanging bag or tote and large-ish purse as her carry-ons. She always checks her other luggage. I never check luggage and limit myself to a small bag and a cross-body purse. You really gets to know another person when you travel with them!

  20. Seeing your work out shoes packed, I am a runner and a trick I have is to use two of the small plastic grocery bags, one for each shoe to pack and keep everthing else clean in the bag. Plastic bags always come in handy when I travel for anything wet that I need to pack to return or to separate something in the bag. Their slickness also seems to help in the packing process.
    Love your ideas!

  21. I'd love to see you bring that series back! I love all of Emily Carr's work, but especially love "Scorned as timber, beloved of the sky".
    Jen W

  22. So glad you enjoyed my city, Toronto! I was sorry we didn't have better weather for you, but sounds like you were okay. So many different neighbourhoods, curious to see what you visited while you were here.

  23. Thanks Janice, this really helps keep our packing 'down' to the mark!
    The choices that your readers have made are a fascinating journey round our tastes. Perhaps one day you might think about something like Bonnard's Siesta, where the outfits would be related to what the naked lady puts on after her sleep - something for us to think about when planning a romantic weekend away.
    Meantime, I've been thinking about your post on the colours in our environments and how they can influence our choices. So I'm nominating a Tasmanian painting from the other side of the world, which captures the atmosphere of our bush on a sunny day.
    (Actually it's winter here at present, so looking more like this, but the Richard Wastell painting captures 'my' colours http://www.petersimpson.com.au/From%20Mount%20Darling.jpg)

  24. I nominate the following picture
    I hope you find it inspiring.
    Cheers, Jasmine

  25. How about Pierre Bonnard's The Open Window? The colors in this painting are stunning, and in my biased opinion, universally loved!

    A question about your packing -- what about toiletries? That's the stuff that always weighs my bag (and me) down.

    And -- the OCD person living inside me cringes at the thought of running shoes touching my clothes. I like the plastic baggie idea, above, but I use flannel shoe bags my mom made for me 20 years ago. I love them! I should tell her! ;-)

  26. Oh my, I just had so much fun being filled with beauty as I looked at all the artwork others suggested. It doesn't surprise me that we women who follow Janice, and take such delight in using ourselves as our own canvas, love art. A few years back my husband and I were visiting Chicago and wandered into Atlas Art Gallery. We were stopped in our tracks by the work of contemporary French artist Jaline Pol! Color, color, color - saturated, intense color! After that, every time we visited Chicago we went to visit our artist too. I now have a small, embellished print hanging in my home and yes, I do use it for inspiration sometimes in dressing. I especially love her works in the red / orange families. Artists are incredibly gifted at combining colors so it makes total sense to use art for wardrobe inspiration! Linda

  27. When I first started work, I was transfixed by a painting in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition of a person on a horse (pony), leading a second horse into the sea. The picture was for sale, and I desperately wanted to buy it; but it was around 400 pounds, which I just didn't have. I have regretted ever since that I didn't find a way to buy it: it was by Kyffin Williams (you can see many of his paintings here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/search/painted_by/kyffin-williams_artists?&page=1, but all my Googlings have failed to turn up "my" painting). The reason I bring it up here is because the clarity of the light and the combination of colours - sand, blue-greys and grey, with a little white surf (it was not a bright sunlit beach scene with brash yellow sand and turquoise water, but something much more subdued and elegant)- was fantastic, and has also stayed with me as an ideal pallette (although I have to admit that I have not fully got there yet in my own environment or clothes).

    In the absence of "my" picture, try these two:

  28. Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, by John Singer Sargent.

    Now that I look at this painting again, I realize it uses the colors I usually wear. Interesting.

    As for your packing: where to you put your make-up and toiletries?

  29. Love the packing tips! I'm with the how to pack a 'ditty bag' too. I have a lot of toiletries, makeup, 'what if something happens and I happen to need six bandaids?' kind of extras to pack.

    Now, I love art...I grew up with an art director mother and a sculptress/painter grandmother. My paternal grandfather was also a celebrated Philadelphia artist. So, picking a favorite painting is a bit like picking a favorite child!

    However, time and time again, I'm drawn to Gustav Klimt's work. It's just breathtaking and illuminating. Of course, I love "The Kiss". But, "The Tree of Life", "Lady with Fan" and "Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer" remain among my favorites.


    Have a beautiful day!

  30. I was a bit surprised that you said you smash down the uppers of softer shoes..... I always stuff my shoes with underwear and hosiery precisely to help them keep their shape under pressure (and of course, it also saves having all those little items floating about free if security want to take a look inside). Also, I usually take a single wheeled bag (to avoid neck and back strain from carrying a shoulder bag for vast distances), and then I take a folded cotton sarong/paroe and put it over the top of everything and tuck it in round the edges before fastening the internal straps over the ontents. Again, it saves things from tumbling out if I have to open up the bag - such as when ly laptop and liquids are stashed internally in the "roof" of the case.

  31. I had to give one more favorite..."The Almond Tree" by Vincent Van Gogh. It is a luscious painting. Just luscious.


  32. How about Picasso's the Old Guitarist as an inspiration?? I realize it's not bright and lively like the other suggestions you have received, but it certainly has the neutrals we all love.

  33. I developed a mad passion for Ver Meer's 'Girl with a Pearl Earring'. It doesn't hurt that blue and yellow is one of my favorite pairings.