My Favorite Summer Stuff

Scarlet and I spent most of summer on the road, so we didn’t do too much shopping, but we did find that we had a few little scores that we fell in love with. Here’s our totally random list of favorite stuff of summer 2017…

Invisible-Shield I have found the best sunscreen of all. I keep one by my sink and put it on after moisturizer/before makeup every morning, and I carry another one in my purse for re-application in the afternoon. It goes on sort of like a primer – not slimy or sticky (so Scarlet loves it) and it dries immediately. At it’s also a lot less expensive than other high-end facial sunblocks (though it’s still not “cheap”). It’s the best. Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 35 (I also love Glossier boy brow and milky jelly cleanser, but the rest of it – and I’ve tried it all – are not my faves).

rothys I’m obsessed with these shoes. They’re flat, slip-on, and washable. They don’t have arch support (so don’t wear them to a 12-hour day clomping around the county fair), but they are like a slightly more dressed-up option when what you really want to wear are flip flops. They are called “the point”, $145 from Rothy’s.

This little change-able sign we got in the mail is the funnest. Scarlet likes to leave me notes on it. Currently ours says “Stay Strong”, which she wrote right before leaving for sleep-away camp because she had some butterflies about it. $39.99 from My Cinema Lightbox or on Amazon here: The Original My Cinema Lightbox.

Gus's Fried Chicken Pool Party OMG. Gus’s Fried Chicken!! One just opened near my house. It’s mouthwateringly amazing. I threw a big birthday party for my husband and his twin brother (no kids! night swimming!) and ordered catering – it would be an understatement to declare it a smash hit. The chicken is memphis-style, with a spicy kick. It’s served on a slice of bread to soak up the oil, and the fried pickles and okra (unusual in LA) were redonk. Hopefully there is one near you. Find out here: Gus’s Fried Chicken Locations.

sedum sodThere is this small area of my backyard with concrete pavers. Everything I plant there dies. Literally everything. I’ve been documenting it for a year. I think I found a solution, but I am going to give it a few months before I do a full post on the whole project, just to be sure. But I am feeling really good about this sedum sod that I planted about a month ago. It’s amazing! I’ve been traveling since I planted it, only home for a day here and there, and it seems to be thriving even in the 90-100+ valley summer temps. It comes in palettes that you lay down sort of like regular grass sod, but they are basically a bunch of tiny succulents woven together on a backing of coconut husks. It is easy to plant, but requires much less water than grass or creeping thyme or most other ground covers. I found mine at my local Lowe’s. If you have a patch of grass or area of your garden that needs a plant that can survive a hot summer or you live in a drought area, check it out. Though if you can buy it at Home Depot, I would do that, since they have that 100% money back guarantee if it does die. I wish I had thought of that before I planted! Hopefully I won’t need it and won’t have any regrets.

The Goldfinch!! I know I am seriously late to the game with this one, but I finally finished this book while laying on the beach of Cayman Brac yesterday! It was life-alteringly beautiful. I am so glad I finally find the time to power through it. Nothing like sleep-away camp to let mama finish a worthy book. And post about some stuff she bought that she likes, ha.


Letterboxing and Lost In Oz

This post is in partnership with Amazon Kids.

IMG_3103 When Amazon Kids asked us to come up with a fun project to share for the debut of their new Original series, Lost in Oz, now available on Prime Video, my mind went straight to our recently discovered passion for letterboxing. Are you letterboxing? You need to be letterboxing! It’s so much fun and it’s the perfect hobby for kids who are adventurous problem solvers just like Dorothy.

IMG_3132When Dorothy finds her mother’s magic travel journal, she is transported to Oz. In order to return home, she must find every element on Oz’s Periodic Table of Magic. Check it out…

Dorothy’s story reminds me of the adventures we have had letterboxing this summer. Letterboxing has been around for almost 20 years but somehow I’ve managed to miss out on all the fun until now. If you loved the rock painting/hiding/finding craze that took over this year, then this takes that to the next level.

Basically you use clues to search for hidden weatherproof boxes containing special rubber stamps. Once you find one, you add a stamp to your own letterbox journal to grow your collection. It’s the perfect way to get active and “search for magic” in your own world.


Here’s How to Go Letterboxing (more…)


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

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…)