A Road Trip on Riviera Nayarit (with the kiddo)

Scarlet and I have been having an amazing summer. She’s nine (!) so we’re halfway done with summer breaks. Gah! I try to make every minute count… until I’m exhausted, and then I sleep. Then I wake up and remember: Only 8 more summers to go! SUP in Bahia de Banderas This line of thinking keeps me inspired to spend as much time together as possible with the little love of my life, Scarlet. So a few weeks ago we flew down to Puerto Vallarta (only 2.5 hours from LA), rented a car, and hit the road to drive up the coast of Nayarit. You may be thinking “Driving through Mexico?!? Isn’t that dangerous??” You may be right, but it’s not as scary as you think. We had a 98% awesome experience driving through Nayarit, with one pretty serious bump in the road. I’ll tell you about it when we get to that point. So here’s what we did on our adventure: I would do it all over again, and Scarlet agrees.
Nayarit 47 copy If you’re looking for a unique perspective on how to travel to and experience Riviera Nayarit – getting outside of the resorts and getting a taste of actual Mexico – you’ve come to the right place. I’m not gonna sugar coat it for you – there are plusses and minuses to doing it this way, but I have to say I would rather do it this way or not do it at all, despite everything that happened.

Nayarit 40 copyGet the full scoop on driving through Nayarit after the jump… (more…)


How to Make Tomato Soup from Fresh Tomatoes

AHHHH! Tomato season is here!!!! So much fresh garden bounty! Gather it up and make this fresh tomato soup recipe…Fresh Tomatoes for Soup It’s a beautiful thing, right? Holding those bright red babies in your hands? I’m just chomping at the bit for tomato recipes as all of my varieties start giving up their sweet fruit. Of course you can save your tomatoes for later in the year by canning them – just head over to our ever-popular post on How to Can Tomatoes (Without a Canner).

If you aren’t feeling up to all the work (it’s easy, but time consuming), go ahead and make this fresh tomato soup recipe. Most recipes call for canned tomatoes, and that’s great, but why not make some cozy delicious tomato soup with fresh tomatoes? It’s easy and extra tasty, I promise, but the technique is a little different. Fresh Tomato Soup Recipe 3 I made this recipe for soup from fresh tomatoes for my in-laws, nieces, and nephews with some grilled cheese paninis last weekend and they all told me I should start selling the soup. I feel like selling soup is hard, but making soup is easy. So here’s my recipe for Tomato Soup from Fresh Tomatoes. Mess around with it as you will, to suit your tastes, but this is a good basic starting point and just the way my family likes it. Fresh Tomato Soup Recipe 2


What to do in Joshua Tree with Kids: A Joshua Tree Itinerary for Families

Noah Purifoy 1 Joshua Tree is a magical place. You hear that, and you believe it, but then you go there and you really feel it. It’s one part nature, one part outer space, and some third indefinable part that seems to come from the dry desert air or the general hippy vibe. It’s a place where kids can really feel that they’re standing on Earth, and that the Earth beneath their feet stretches out in every direction, encompassing a wondrous and mysterious planet. So let’s go over what to do in Joshua Tree with kids.

So I took my kid out to Joshua Tree, where we met some friends and their kids who came from Los Angeles like us, and some other friends who came all the way from Chicago, and we made some new friends who traveled all the way across the pond from London. We had a truly fantastic time. Here’s what to do when you take your kids to Joshua Tree. Joshua Tree National Park 11

First things first, be prepared with WATER. So much water. So much more than you think you will need. Even getting in and out of the car will dry you out, the air is dry, the weather is hot, and you will always need more water than you think you will. The rule of the desert is TURN AROUND when your water is half gone. This is SO KEY. People die in the desert all the time. The number of people we saw on the trails without water was astounding. So take note and bring so much water.

Where to Stay:
You can air bnb a lot of really cool homes. You can camp in the park (make your reservation months and months in advance!). Spin and Margie’s Desert Hideaway is pretty cool. But for a group of kids, I recommend Hicksville Trailer Palace. I can’t give you the address (they keep it a secret until right before your trip), but it’s close enough to the park entrance to allow you easy enough access and far enough into the desert to feel perfect isolation.
Hicksville 2 It’s a collection of trailers surrounding a pool. Bring your own food to grill and firewood, and of course some wine and beer. There’s mini golf, ping pong, and some arcade games for the kids too. Hicksville 4 They’ve got a tee-pee you can light a fire in, and a library full of books for the kids. Also bb guns and archery, which was a blast. Hicksville 6 Hicksville 3
We stayed in the trailer called the Fifi, because we call Scarlet “Fifi.” Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. We just started calling her that and it stuck. This is our trailer…Hicksville 1 And this is my Fifi. Fifi 2

What to Do:
In Joshua Tree, you should stop by the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Museum, which is where I took the photo at the top of this post. You can just park and walk right in, there’s no tickets or anyone working there. Keep a close eye on the kids because all of the installations are rickety (they’ve been out in the elements for about 50 years) and potentially dangerous for climbing on, but just wild and fun to explore. Give yourself about 45 minutes to run around and check things out. Ask the kids what they think each installation is, imagine it all as spaceships or homes of old pirates. Again, bring water, there’s no water here.
Noah Purifoy 5 Noah Purifoy 2 Noah Purifoy 3

If you are there on the right days, and you make a reservation in advance, you should schedule a sound bath for you and the kids at the Integratron. Kids can only go with advance private reservations, but it will be worth it.

You can also head out to Pioneertown, which is pretty cool but not something you can spend a whole day doing. It was created as a tourist attraction in the 1940’s, that never really caught on, but was used as a set in many amazing westerns. It’s having a renaissance now, and is home to Pappy and Harriet’s, where you can see some amazing music shows. Kids may or may not be into that (mine wasn’t), but you adults will definitely enjoy it. Don’t make it the priority of your visit, that should definitely be Joshua Tree National Park.

In the Park:
When you are ready to head into the park (and you can’t skip the park – you CAN NOT), start at the Joshua Tree Visitor Center. You’ll need to buy yourself a pass to enter the park if you don’t already have a national park pass. Here you can also grab a map, and ask for the (free) Jr. Park Ranger booklet (which also comes with a pencil). The kids will learn a lot from this, LOVE filling it out, and if they complete the whole thing, they will get a badge at the end of your trip. You can also pick up sunscreen, extra water, etc. at the visitor center. Joshua Tree National Park 10

Now you can drive from the Joshua Tree Visitor Center to the other end of the park, the Oasis Visitor Center, in about 60 minutes. You’ll get to experience two deserts, the Mojave and the Colorado, and the unique features of each. But of course you will want to stop. The best spots for doing an easy hike with kids are Hidden Valley and Barker Dam. I like Hidden Valley for its space-like rock formations, but be warned that your kids will want to climb all over them. The whole loop is about a mile and mostly flat, except for the piles of rocks they will definitely want to scramble up. Joshua Tree National Park 5 Joshua Tree National Park 3 Joshua Tree National Park 9

The drive up to Keys View is worth it and really only about 20 minutes out of your way (round trip) if you are doing the loop. From here you can see the whole Coachella Valley, all the way to Palm Springs and the San Jacinto mountain range. What’s most interesting is that it is the only place where you can actually visually observe the San Andreas fault. It’s that ridge running right down the middle of the valley. Also note the snow on the mountain tops. Keys View Joshua Tree

Stop in a few turnouts to marvel at the Joshua trees. Kids will be as amazed by them as you are. Joshua Tree National Park 10

If you keep going, you can check out Jumbo Rocks or go all the way to the Cholla Cactus Garden (FYI it’s pronounced “choya”- I had to ask about that one). Our kids were wiped out from excessive rock climbing so we headed back to town for ice cream and a swim. Joshua Tree National Park 2

Then they put on a nighttime talent show for us on the little stage at Hicksville, before we made s’mores, soaked in the rooftop hottub and headed back to our trailers. That’s one happy kid. Noah Purifoy 4

Make your way to Joshua Tree with your family, and if you’ve already been, tell me what I’ve missed. We will be heading back in the fall, as soon as the weather cools down a bit. Happy travels, friends! Joshua Tree National Park 7

What to do in Joshua Tree With Kids: A Joshua Tree Itinerary for Families

Now that you’ve learned what to do in Joshua Tree with kids, why not check out what to do in Norway with kids, or what to do in Albuquerque with kids, or what to do in Jordan with kids, or any of the other awesome destinations we’ve covered!


Keeping Pretty Prudent BEDquarters Clean

Thank you Clorox® and Cotton for supporting my work-from-bed lifestyle by sponsoring this post and by making my bed so irresistible.IMG_2821

Good morning from Pretty Prudent Headquarters, I mean BEDquarters where, I must confess, too much of the work-from-home business happens. I’m not proud and I also own a desk in a nice home office, but it’s so very far away, and so much less covered in comfy plush white cotton bedding. With all of the action this bed gets, oh, um, that’s NOT what I meant. Eww. My bed looks a lot less like a lux hotel room service pic…


And more like a diner kitchen…


and a haven for dirty kid footsies…


kitty butts…


and frequent art sessions. Yes, I even paint in my bed!


With my dreamy commute, there comes the challenge of keeping these cotton sheets clean and bright. After all, you can’t put a sparkling white photo filter on real life. That is where Clorox® Regular-Bleach comes in. It’s basically the Instagram filter for real life.        IMG_2834

Clorox® Regular-Bleach and Cotton make a good team. By choosing non-synthetic fibers like cotton, which tend to produce and trap fewer odors in the first place and release odors more easily during washing, I have less odor retention in my linens and a fabric that is soft, durable and easy to care for.  Check out this fun retro video that they made to illustrate the cotton vs polyester laundry challenge. Additionally, adding Clorox® Regular-Bleach2 not only removes tough stains and keep whites brighter longer, but sanitizes laundry to kill 99.9% of bacteria, which causes odor.

When it’s laundry time, use bleach on cotton or bleachable fabrics (avoid bleaching wool, silk, mohair, leather, spandex and non-fast colors), for whitening and/or stain removal in 3 easy step:

  1. Sort laundry by color
  2. Add detergent
  3. Fill bleach to maximum line or level in dispenser OR add measured amount of bleach to dispenser or wash water
    1. Measured amount:
      1. 1/2 cup/4 oz. for standard machine or high-efficiency machine wash
      2. 1 cup/8 oz. for extra-large washer or heavy stains or soiled load of laundry
  4. Add clothes and start wash.

For basically everything you need to know about stain-fighting and laundry magic, visit Clorox.com

There is nothing like a fresh-from-the-laundry set of white cotton sheets.IMG_2825It really helps with my work productivity.


Thank you Clorox® and Cotton for supporting my work-from-bed lifestyle by sponsoring this post and by making my bed so irresistible.





Roasted Asparagus Pasta Salad Recipe

Roasted Asparagus Pasta Salad
I was headed to a BBQ last weekend and about an hour before we were leaving I remembered that I had promised to bring a side dish. I opened my fridge to dig around and all I had was some asparagus and cherry tomatoes. I was like, what I can make with one pound of asparagus and a cup of tomatoes that’s big enough for a party? I found some cavatappi in the cabinet and went with pasta salad. This one was a big hit at the party, and one I will definitely make again and again. If I threw some chicken in it, it would be a full meal. Get me Roasted Asparagus Pasta Salad recipe… (more…)


Happy 10 Years of Fun Elephant & Piggie… & Clare!


Elephant & Piggie have been a huge part of my 3 kiddos lives ever since Jaime gave Clare My Friend Is Sad by Mo Willems for her 1st birthday. When Disney-Hyperion asked us to help them celebrate double-digits with a sponsored party for a few of our favorite characters, we said OF COURSE!


I wasn’t sure if Clare would be into an Elephant & Piggie party, she is after all turning 10 herself in just a few weeks but she was totally on board with joining in on the fun with some of her first friends. Tweens will keep you guessing like that.

IMG_2666 IMG_2692

IMG_2638Read on for how to make these adorable DIY Elephant & Piggie Lanterns and the details on the newest book in the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series: The Good For Nothing Button by Charise Mericle Harper. PLUS a top-ten list of our all-time favorite Elephant & Piggie books.IMG_2700 (more…)


All the Pretty Pillows

I am a bit of a pillow obsessive. They’re so fun! and easy to switch out with the seasons! We love to make them (a bajillion tutorials can be found here), and I also love to buy ’em. Here’s some favorites for summer.
Summer Pillows Mixed beaded pillow cover in blush, West Elm (currently obsessed with all things blush)
Pineapple print cushion cover, H&M
Ceniza Lumbar Pillow, The Citizenry
Urbano Pillows in Sunset, The Citizenry (I have two of these on my bed, love)
xBase Pillow, cb2 (I’ve got this one on my couch, it’s so big and comfy).
Lappljung Ruta, Ikea (I have been buying these for my patio for years. They fade in the sun but last all summer, for $10 you can’t beat ’em).
San Miguel Tassel Pillow, Midland (I have this one in black on a peacock chair).