Friday, November 30, 2012

Now is the Start

Now Is The Start by A Fine Frenzy on Grooveshark

[Feel free to click the song above as you read. It's my current theme song :) ]
Wow. So, this is it. The last post in Virginia. The last post before I leave on my journey to start a new book in the Golden State!

I have been overcome by emotion these past couple days as it all sinks in.
I've been nervous, excited, scared, antsy, exhausted, sad, and jubilant [yes, I really just said that] all at the same time.

It is certainly overwhelming... but I'm ready!

This is where my path has taken me.
Through all the trials and speed bumps and hiccups along the way.
Here I am. With the world at my fingertips. Anything is possible.

I'm sure my Mom is watching over me, shaking her head and saying, "I hope you're ready for this, Chels. It won't be easy."
And I love her for that. She always challenged me.
Which is why I'm comfortable challenging myself with something as huge as moving to the other side of the country by myself.

I can either look back, wondering "what if?" or I can make my dreams a reality starting now.

Early Sunday morning, I leave for the cross country trip to San Diego.
The new book begins.

If I can update my blog on the road, I will. Otherwise, FOLLOW ME on Instagram [@chelseasunset] and Twitter as it is much easier to update there and, believe me, I will be updating as I travel through this BEAUTIFUL country!

Until then, I love you all and can't wait to share the new pages of my book with you!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Road Trip Details

This will be my life over the next few days. It is going to be a long trip. 2,679 miles door-to-door to be exact. 8 states. 4 timezones. And I couldn't be more excited. I've waited for this moment for years. The cross country drive to the one city I've always kept in my heart - San Diego.

The plan is to make the drive in about 3.5 days. My dad [and Stella of course] will be accompanying me and helping with the finalization of the move once we make it to Southern California. But first, we'll have to make it through several states:

I'll be taking the Southern route along I-40, which is a route I have wanted to take for quite some time now, as Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico will all be new territory for me. I've been trying to find some roadside attractions to stop and see, such as the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo. Where else should I go?

I LOVE the Wild West! Growing up in over-populated Northern Virginia, I was blessed with rich history and colonial culture as well as beautiful trees in the Fall but the only taste of nature I got was the outline of the Blue Ridge "Mountains" way off in the distance. When I ventured out West and drove myself from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City, I was astonished at the beauty of our country. It is un-touched out there. Quiet. Peaceful. Genuine. It was the first time in my entire life where I could look ahead of me, next to me, and behind me and I was the only person on the open road. Looking out at the mountains, the mesas, the earth. Not just trees as I was so tired of seeing in Virginia, but the actual earth of this planet. The rock. The dirt. The shapes that Nature created.

Anyway, I most look forward to those parts of the trip. Seeing this country of ours so raw and up close and personal has hands-down been the best gift I've given to myself :) Now, moving on to other things. What shall I bring with me on the trip?

1. Pain-killers - I always have to carry these bad boys with me because of headaches, especially on long trips. This should also help with any aches and pains from being cramped up all day.
2. Chocolate - You know me and my chocolate. If I'm stopped at a gas station and just need a little boost, I'll pick up a Snickers or Coconut M&Ms if I can ever find them again!
3. Water - Stayed hydrated. Just not too hydrated. Spend your time on the road, not at rest stops.
4. Sunnies - This [much more expensive] pair looks just like my favorite pair from H&M.
5. & 6.  Comfy top/pants - I admit, when I travel, I don't travel in sweats. But I still like to be comfortable! A long-sleeved, loose-fitting chambray top & stretchy colored skinnies. Bam!
7. Slip-on shoes - It's good to take advantage of a nice stretch break by slipping your shoes off for a second to keep the circulation going. I've packed my TOMS as well as some ballet flats!
8. Big Travel Bag - I received the Vera Bradley Grand Traveler a couple years ago as a gift and since then, it has been my go-to travel bag! It has a compartment to secure your laptop as well as lots of other sections to keep all your belongings organized. #9 also fits perfectly inside!
9. A nice camera - I totally use my iPhone camera more than my DSLR camera but for beautiful sights like those on a cross country road trip, you need to have the real deal available.
10. iPhone - Where would I be without it? Not only do I use my iPhone as a communication tool, I use its GPS, Internet to look up hotels on the road, Instagram to fill you all in on my adventure, Twitter to say hi, and most important of all... MUSIC!

So, those are my essentials while traveling coast to coast! Now here is where you come in: What songs need to be added to my playlist? Music is very high on my list of priorities.

Where have your favorite road trips taken you?
What were you always sure to pack in the car?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How I Move Cross Country [Past/Present]

I'm documenting the move as it happens so that you can all learn from my mistakes and from my genius ideas. Let's talk today about how the heck your stuff gets to where you're going.

Cross Country Trip #1 to Salt Lake - I packed up some suitcases of clothes, took my printer, an air mattress, and some sheets and a blanket, packed it all neatly into my car and drove cross country. The rest of my belongings [15 boxes or so] were kindly shipped to me later by my dad. I bought couches, tables, lamps, and eventually a big ole king-size mattress within the next few months.

Cross Country Trip #2 back to Virginia - I donated a bunch of clothes and household items and packed everything else up into a Penske truck with my Honda Civic securely attached onto a trailer. This was horrible. And the truck was only half-full but you had to get that size in order to attach the trailer.

     These trucks obviously guzzle down fuel like there's no tomorrow.
     Cabs are no place for claustrophobic girls like myself to sit for days on end.
     I am sure you can imagine how fun it was to park a truck with a trailer attached to it.
     The brakes like to give out on steep grades in West Virginia.

Not to mention the price to rent the truck + the trailer + the insurance = never again.

Cross Country Trip #3 to San Diego and hopefully the last - One word: ABF. You've seen those trucks before and probably never considered what was inside. Well, if you see one of those bad boys driving on an interstate this week, my belongings could very well be inside.

ABF [] gives you however much space you need in a trailer. You can take up an entire 28 foot trailer or just 5 feet of it [like I am doing.] Either you can pack everything into it yourself or for another $300, you can hire movers to take care of that ish for you. Uh, hello... I cannot pick up my 200 lb dresser and safely secure that thing in a trailer. No, thanks.

Trust me. The extra cash is WORTH IT to hire a professional to handle your stuff and secure it properly when everything you care about is about to be transported 3,000 friggin' miles. Do it. Then, they drive off, fill up the remainder of the trailer and meet you in your destination. Talk about door-to-door service!

This option ended up being considerably less expensive than Penske/U-Haul AND even less expensive than renting one of those PODS. Bam! Get some bubble wrap, a tarp, and some moving blankets and you're ready to go!

And, yes, the above picture shows that all of my belongings only ended up taking up just over half of the 5 feet I reserved. [5 ft is the minimum!] Again, I sold my mattress, box spring, and couches so that helped save some space :)

So, there you have it! Tomorrow, the trailer will be picked up and off to San Diego it goes! All I have to do is drive my car out there and meet up with them next week! Easy as pie, my friends. The worst part [the packing!] is finally over and now I can enjoy the remainder of the adventure out to the West Coast!

Got a question about moving cross country? Leave it in a comment below or email me! I still have a few days before I leave to jot down a few of my tips and tricks.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

San Diego Trip | Part Two

As I'm sitting here writing this, I'm in the comfort of my childhood home, staring out into the familiar backyard full of trees that have now gone bare in preparation for the Winter. I wait now for the 28 foot trailer to be parked in the driveway, signaling the official and very real start of my coast to coast move.

I can't believe this is happening...

I'll share with you now the remainder of my trip out to San Diego, before it becomes home. [If you missed Part One, you can read it here!]

That Friday morning, I woke up and headed off to Apartment #3 which I had high hopes for! I was so excited after viewing it, that I filled out the application on the spot and had a nice, little chat with the landlord about life, theatre, earthquakes, and bugs... obviously. A girl's gotta be prepared! I drove around the neighborhood and surrounding area; checked out the nearby Target and Vons [gosh, I love Vons] and then picked up some sushi for lunch.

Later that afternoon, I had a fun sit-down chat with a San Diego-based jewelry designer which was a blast. On the way to her house, I certainly felt like I was driving the crazy steep hills of San Francisco! After the stop sign in the picture below, the street pretty much drops off...

After that, as I impatiently awaited the dessert date I had later that day, I received a phone call from the landlord that I was all approved and the apartment was MINE! Hallelujah! Yet another surreal moment, knowing everything was coming together. Doors were being opened. My path was being paved right before my eyes!

I could go and sign the lease the next morning. But, first... it was time for a dessert date with some awesome San Diego ladies! 

+ Hollie [from Hollie Takes Notes - now Hello Indigo]
+Jessica [owner/designer of Rose Rags]

and moi :) We went to a fun, little place in the ever-so-trendy and eccentric Hillcrest neighborhood. The place was called Chocolat and is the perfect spot to go if you're craving yummy crepes, gelato, or other desserts!
Hollie, Me, Jessica, Tammy :)

We went next door to a store full of sunglasses and I just had to pick up a pair! Then, we went across the street to probably the coolest thrift store I have ever seen. It was Halloween weekend in Hillcrest which definitely made for some great laughs, especially in that store!

I sure am lucky to already have a group of friends when I move to San Diego that I just adore. I can't wait for our next outing soon!

On Saturday, after SIGNING MY LEASE and getting my KEYS [!!!!] I spent some time in Balboa Park. It had been years since I had last visited so, while I was familiar with the area, it was still new enough to be a fun adventure for me. Balboa Park is a must for those visiting the area!

Balboa Park is full of museums, gardens, and even the world-famous San Diego Zoo. It is the perfect place to walk, explore, enjoy the beautiful Spanish architecture, and take in all the sights and sounds of San Diego. "Breathtaking" is a great word to describe this historical park!

As I walked through Balboa Park and explored the area that would soon become my home, I felt a way I had never felt before. Truly at peace. I felt as though whatever life brought my way, I would be okay. I felt a happiness so deep in my soul. I had never before been so excited for what my future held.

Moving to a new city where you only know a few people, is such an exciting thing for me. It's the times when you have to create your own world out of endless possibilities that really make me come alive. So, it was in those moments at Balboa Park... being a lone explorer in a park with so much rich history, so many people visiting from all over the world that I felt life.

I really can't believe I get to call this beautiful place HOME in only a few more days! I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to visit San Diego and even more grateful for the chance I have to move there. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Different Thanksgiving

[Insert comment here about how I haven't blogged in a while.] At least I'm not the only one. I hope everyone who celebrates the holiday had a wonderful Thanksgiving and made new, special memories with family and friends!

As most of you know, this was the first Thanksgiving without my mom. Going to bed the night before and waking up Thursday morning were definitely a little rough on the heart, which made it a different Thanksgiving. I'm grateful I had family nearby to lean on who were also feeling those same pains.

That morning, my dad and I drove to the cemetery to visit my mom's grave. Her headstone had finally been installed so it was the first time I got to see it. Boy, is it beautiful. There's not one other headstone in the cemetery like it. My dad sure did a wonderful job picking it out and working with the designer. I'm sure my mom is proud :)

Then, we headed over to Maryland where one of my brothers and his wife live to spend the remainder of Thanksgiving. My nephew was in town from grad school so it was great to catch up with him and talk to everyone about my moving plans! I enjoyed copious amounts of stuffing [My favorite. What's yours?] and pumpkin pie! As always with that bunch, we were all rolling on the floor laughing and watching the Redskins game. 

If you don't know by now, my mom's side of the family were born and raised Redskins fans and my two brothers do not take that lightly [although I have fizzled off within the past few years.] So, the Redskins vs. Cowboys game was obviously a big deal. Go Redskins ;)

I'm sad that my other brother and his little family were not able to be with us this year but I look forward to coming home for Christmas to watch my 2-year-old niece Aubrey tear through her presents :) 

While a good portion of the holiday weekend was filled with packing and organizing [the movers arrive TOMORROW!] I also enjoyed time relaxing with family and friends I don't get to see as often as I wish. It made me so grateful for the love and support of those dearest to my heart. I put shopping aside this weekend and focused on one of the most important things to me - LOVE. It's been quite a year and I couldn't have done it without them.

If you are in the shopping mood, check out one of my favorite
online stores, Outfit Additions, for up to 40% off today!
You can also receive FREE SHIPPING on any U.S. order from
my shop After Sunset! Use code THANKFUL at check out :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What To Do With Your Nail Polish

Remember the days when you had two or three different nail polish colors? Those days are long gone! I don't know about you but I have a tough time keeping track of my nail polishes. You know it's bad when you're standing at the latest Essie display at Ulta and have this inner dialogue take place: 

"Shoot. Do I already have a taupe like this? Or is it more of a beige? Maybe I should get it anyway? Or should I just get the teal to be safe?"

Yup. I know I'm not alone. It's quite the debacle. But what's even worse than deciding what new color to get is figuring out how to organize that ish. For years, my nail polishes have all made friends with each other in a gallon size Zip-loc bag. I am super grateful that this bag has not given out yet because that would result in a lot of broken glass and one very colorful Chelsea. [Knock on wood!]

So, with my cross-country move right around the corner [like, next Tuesday] I'm thinking of new ways to organize my belongings because gosh knows I have a LOT of belongings. Here are some nail polish organization ideas:

1. This girl has more nail polish than I could imagine. I'm liking the idea of organized storage within a small set of drawers. Keep it all together and keep it contained.

2. I am loving the way these polishes are organized. You can open the drawer and easily see each color without digging through. Bam!

3 and 4 - Vintage suitcases are a great way to store small items - nail polish, clutches, sandals, etc. Although, I wouldn't recommend transporting them like you would a normal suitcase...

5 and 6 - Vases and various glass cases are cute and definitely decor-friendly. However, I also want something that is practical. Not only would a vase not be ideal for a cross-country move, but I don't love the idea of digging through a jar to get to what I want. Not to mention how noisy that would be. Cute idea, just not for me.

7 - Trays are a cute way to display nail polishes. Again, I'm not sure how practical this would be for me.

8 - Over-the-door storage. Take a jewelry organizer to store your nail polishes and hang it either over the door or in your closet. Just make sure the hanger is sturdy enough to carry the weight of the polishes. 

9. Stackable Tupperware - This option is definitely looking good. It's easy to access and sturdy enough whether I want to shove it under my bed or in a closet.

10. Office Organizers - Target seems to be the best place to find cute, divided organizers that are used anywhere from your office to your kitchen. I think this is a great option to keep nail polishes tidy either on a shelf or on your dresser.
So, what do you suggest? Which option should I go with?
Do you have any other ideas?
How do you store your nail polishes?

Of course, I'll let you know which option I go with, complete with pictures :)

Oh, and if you haven't already - shop my closet here!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Shop My Closet

I'm moving. I can't take everything with me. Therefore, I'm giving you all the opportunity to shop my closet :)

Below are a few of the items I'm saying "goodbye" to. They are either gently worn or never worn [you know how that goes!] If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me. Shipping is $4.00 for all U.S. customers and all sales are final. 

To start shopping, visit Sunset Closet here :)

There are several other items in the actual shop. Oh, and I'm also selling my king-size pillowtop mattress in case any of my DC friends are in need of one :)

The process of moving has been exhausting as I'm sure many of you can relate with. My dad has tons of boxes and bins full of stuff I've held onto since childhood so a great deal of my time has been spent going through everything. At times, it has caused me to get a little emotional and reminiscent and other times, I can't stop laughing. I mean, check this out:

A. Yes, I really did hang on to all of these boyband books/magazines.
B. This is only a small portion of my boyband stash.
C. I have seen all of these beautiful faces in person and even met one of the groups ;)

Also, I found this sweet love letter from my boyfriend back in high school. Back when things were all about romance and butterflies... and The Ring. I am pretty sure this is the only love letter that references the scariest movie ever.

And then I found baggies full of notes [mostly from him] and literally read through every single one. I wish I could show you how many notes from middle school were written starting with, "Wuz ^? N/M/H" and were written in gel pen. Luckily, they got better as time progressed. 

My next project is to do re-organization research. It's difficult to take what you have, go through what you no longer want, and then re-organize everything for a place you don't live in yet! I am looking for new organization products and techniques for nail polish, make-up, shoes, jewelry making supplies, etc that will work for transport as well as the new place! Blog posts to come :)

Also, if you missed it - be sure to enter the Blue Bird Bride giveaway and score some fun jewelry!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Reminded of the Detours

Some days, you're going about with your normal life
Finding your new "normalcy" again
Getting into the groove of the life that's been re-routed time and time again.

And you're reminded of the detours;

The reasons life is no longer what it used to be.

Last night, I picked up Missy's ashes from the vet
Nearly two weeks after she left this world
And when I found out it was time to pick them up...
     My world shook just a little.
          It was as though my body stood still while another version of it kept walking onward
               To continue on with what was next.
                    Picking up her ashes.

I wasn't the same for the remainder of the night.
I felt cranky. Moody. Irritated. Annoyed. Frustrated.

It's like my body just rejected the pain.
And turned it into another emotion.

It's like I heard the "I'm sorry for your loss" phrase one more time and, boom.
My heart was done.
Done dealing with it.

To be honest, I don't know where this post goes from here.
I'm not sure I have a conclusion.
For now, I'll just keep cuddling Stella even more than I used to [like above]
And I'll be grateful that I'm part of a community where posting pictures of you & your pet is totally normal ;)
I'll also probably watch Pretty Little Liars
     to take my mind away from the detours until my heart gets back on track.

Speaking of Pretty Little Liars, who watched The Vampire Diaries last night?
    [I realize they are un-related]
       Oh.My.Gosh. Happy Friday and thanks for all your love & support this year!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Blue Bird Bride Giveaway

I have an awesome treat for you today! If you know me, you know that I am a sucker for Etsy. I could spend all day perusing the shops on there, whether it be for home decor, eclectic vintage clothing, or jewelry... ohhh, jewelry. Etsy makes my day.

Then, I "met" Diane and was introduced to her shop, Blue Bird Bride. Take my love for jewelry and love for weddings and combine them and you get one happy Chelsea! Blue Bird Bride has all the cute, trendy, couture jewelry you and I both love! You can wear it yourself, buy it as a gift, or... give it to your bridesmaids if you're a bride-to-be. [Okay, or even if you're like me and plan your wedding in advance. Far in advance!]

Here's a peak at what Blue Bird Bride has to offer:

And today, Life is a Sunset readers can win a $20 shop credit to Blue Bird Bride! Which means your options are unlimited! You can use that shop credit to shop for your bridal party, buy a gift for your mom for the holidays, or, hey... treat yourself to something nice! ;)

If you can't wait and want to buy something now, Diane has been sweet enough to offer my readers a 15% off discount by entering FALL2012 at checkout!

She has a couple great deals going on right now - like the Buy Three Get One Free deal as well as  a Buy Two Get One Free deal and several clearance items!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

San Diego Trip | Part One

Now that I've made my big announcement, I'm sure you're dying to see what else I was up to on my trip/what my new city looks like through my eyes. Lucky for you, I decided to share :) Except, not all the details. If you want my new address to send me house warming cards/gifts, you'll have to ask ;) Just kidding...

Without further ado, let's recap, shall we?

Southwest should seriously hire me, yes? I am totally their number one cheerleader and now photographer. This is what 6am flights out of DC look like as you fly West. Helloooo, sunrise! And then you land in Denver where it is a Winter Wonderland and temps are below 30 degrees and you literally shiver your way back onto the plane. Remember when we talked about the dreaded walk onto the plane here?

But the flight out from Denver is always one of my top U.S. favorites because of the Rockies.
The Rockies and the Grand Canyon are beautiful to fly over. They always make me grateful to live in such a diverse and breathtaking country. The Wild West takes my breath away.
Note: always sit on the wing.

Finally, I landed in sweet Sun Diego around breakfast time [Pacific Time. It was past lunch time for this Atlantic Time girl!] Then it was off to find my rental car and begin the fun that was House Hunters: San Diego!

Yes, that would be house number one and 1/4 of house number one's backyard/resort. The landlord and I talked a great deal about San Diego weather and coyotes. That's right - coyotes. This would not be the only time, either...

Then, it was time to check in to the hotel [where I'd always stayed when I'd visit my brother] and feed this poor East Coast girl's growling stomach. In-N-Out it was. Tough decision.

Let me just say it now - when I'm on vacation, there's generally no holding back. I don't count calories. If I want to eat In-N-Out twice, I will. If I want a shake, you got it. Ice cream in the middle of the day from the vending machine? That might have happened. No shame. The starving that occurred on the flights out and back home made up for it ;)

After In-N-Out, I went back to the hotel to crash for an hour before my last apartment hunting appointment of the day. This apartment was in a different neighborhood, a little further North from the first. I ended up LOVING the apartment but didn't love the street it was on and it was toward the top of my price range. PLUS all utilities. Meh. It ranked #2, with the apartment earlier that day ranking at #3 and the final apartment [that I hadn't seen yet] already at #1. I just had a good feeling...

[Does this remind you of an episode of House Hunters yet? Will she choose the house with the large backyard? The updated but pricey unit just North of downtown? Or the...]

I have a fun treat for you tomorrow and then we'll get back to the remainder of my Sun Diego trip [and a little SoCal get-together I had with fellow blogger friends!] later!

A few of you have some specifics questions about my move and the process I've gone through. Feel free to email me and we can chat!

In addition, since I'm an experienced cross-country mover, I figured I'll blog throughout the process with any tips and advice I have for those of you who want to be gutsy too ;)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I've Waited So Long to Say This

Finally, after years and years of saving, planning, and dreaming, I am moving to California.

This isn't the start of a new chapter.
It's the beginning of a new book.

You know that one dream you've always dreamt? The one thing your soul longs for? California has been that dream for me. It's the place where I feel home and complete and since the first time I visited California years ago, my heart has never truly left.

So, starting in the beginning of December, I will be calling San Diego home.

As many of you know, the past year and a half of my life has been the most trying time yet. With the loss of my mother especially, I know life is just too short to put anything that really matters off. My heart kept pulling toward something big. Something huge. Something I've been waiting for. I knew the time was now to make my wildest dream come true.

During this time of healing, I have put a lot of focus into truly finding out the woman I am meant to be in this life. I've stumbled, I've fallen, I've made mistakes... and every time I did, I learned a lesson. I've learned what I need in this life, what I want to accomplish, the kind of people I want to surround myself with whether in person or just in spirit. I've learned what things are worth it and what things just aren't. But at the end of the day, I learned that no one else can make my dreams come true but me. It is my job to get up every day and do whatever it takes to work toward the things that are deepest and truest in my heart.  

My trip to San Diego at the end of October, was spent searching for the right place to live and taking time to take it all in. After years of thinking about the right place for me in SD, and more serious searching online the past several months, I made a few appointments and checked out different places. I found the most perfect place for me at this point in life and couldn't be more excited to call it home soon.

After signing the lease and having the keys placed in my hand, I took some time to get accustomed to the new Southern California neighborhood I'll be living in.

This is the dream I've been waiting for. The dream I've been pushing for and have never given up on or stopped talking about. I've had people left and right give me reason after reason why I shouldn't go or wouldn't make it or would have to put it off until later in life. Well, look at me now. I am making this dream a reality.

On one hand, I believe things fall into place when the time is right. However, I also believe that nothing will ever be perfect. You have to want it badly enough. You have to be willing to take a huge leap of faith. You have to work for it and no matter what, never, ever give up on that dream. I am beyond excited for this new book of my life to begin. Each page will be fresh, full of potential and new California adventure.

I'm still at the point where it's all so surreal. It's all slowly starting to hit me that it's finally happening yet it still seems like just a dream. I hope you all will follow along on my new journey, as I wrap up the last chapter of one book and open up a new one.

Here's to San Diego...