travel buys

We are getting ready for a Mexico beach vacation with our kids, and I am scrambling to figure out what we need to pack! It feels like I’ve spent eons researching with little to show for it (but lots of things to return). So far, these are our must-have vacation purchases…

I researched camera backpack options for a long time. This one kept coming up as a favorite, and all of its handy pockets and easy access to camera and accessories (while not looking like a camera bag), made this one a winner. Best price here.

Next up, kids water shoes! I think their official category name is ‘kids active sandals.’ We tried everything– Keens, Chacos, Under Armour, Sanouk, etcetera, but ultimately, the winner was a Nike water sock. These fit our kids’ narrow feet without giving them the heeby-jeebys (one of them has some sensory issues and doesn’t like the feel of water shoes).

While these sensory-sensitive children are particular about their feet, they are also very particular about sunscreen. Of course, the one they have ‘approved’ is not cheap, but it does tick all the boxes that are important to me (reef-safe, organic, non-toxic, and a good SPF). Coola is the absolute winner for us (just make sure not to get the matte-tinted Cucumber one which will stain bathing suits).

I’m still working on some other vacation purchases and would love to know if there is something that will save me on our trip!

dill bread recipe


I try to stay away from bread most of the year, but I can’t resist making my mom’s dill bread recipe in the winter. I just made it for the first time with my new Emile Henry loaf baker, and it turned out even better than usual! We are down to crumbs, and I will be sticking a new loaf in the oven soon. Here is the recipe, in case you want to try it yourself. Baker linked here.

2 cups unsifted flour

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 Tablespoon instant minced onion

2 teaspoons dill SEED

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 package dry yeast

1 Tablespoon butter softened

1/4 cup of very hot tap water

1 cup of creamed cottage cheese at room temperature

1 egg at room temperature

Mix 1/4 cup of flour, sugar, instant minced onion, dill seed, salt, baking soda and undissolved yeast. Add softened butter. Gradually add water; beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer. Add cottage cheese, egg, 1/2 cup of flour or enough flour to make a thick batter. Beat at high speed for 2 minutes. Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Knead a little; transfer to a greased bowl. Cover; let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until double in bulk, about an hour and 15 minutes. Stir batter down. Turn into a greased 1 1/2 quart casserole. Cover; let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 50 minutes. Bake at 350 about 30 minutes or until done. Remove from casserole. Cutter top. Cool on wire rack.

front door is Christmas ready


While the rest of the house looks like a tornado has blown through, the front door is ready to greet visitors for the holidays! Boxwood wreaths and boxwoods were purchased at the flea market this past weekend, 25 foot garland from Home Depot (‘cause the 20 foot one at Trader Joe’s is too short), wreath lights from here, boxwood lights from here, and the doormat is from Williams Sonoma a couple of years ago (but I can’t find anything similar on their website). I’ll keep looking! (I do like this single-wide one though, here.)