How to Make Kombucha 

When I asked recently on Facebook if anyone local had a kombucha scoby they could share, I had a friend ask, “What is that?”

For those of you who might be wondering the same thing, the simple answer is kombucha is a fermented tea. It has probiotic benefits, similar to yogurt. I drink it because I like the taste which is slightly effervescent and tangy, not unlike a light vinegar. I recommend trying some first! It’s an acquired taste but so is beer and wine. You can purchase it from a health food store. Whole Foods carries it. They even make flavored ones. If you find that you do like it, then you WILL want to make your own as those bad boys are EXPENSIVE!

Some of you have asked how it’s made so I will show you how I do it. A friend taught me and shared a scoby with me. Here we go.

Homemade Kombucha

How to make kombucha

You will need the following:

  • black tea
  • sugar
  • a scoby
  • a large glass container
  • a plastic sieve
  • coffee filter

Bring about 3 cup of water to a boil.Add the tea. You can use this chart for ratios which comes straight from herekombuI like to use oolong, but any black tea will work. Allow the tea to cool before continuing. When you are ready to proceed, make a simple syrup by dissolving sugar in warm water. Alternatively, you could add the sugar to the tea before it cools. Again, check the chart for amounts. I like to use half-gallon mason jars, but you could use any large, glass jar. Strain your tea into the jar and add the simple syrup. Then take your SCOBY ( which stands for Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) and add it, along with the starter tea it came with. It will float in the tea. I admit it looks pretty gross. It reminds me of a mushroom. It is sometimes called the mother, like the stuff that is in good apple cider vinegar. Same idea, really. Wipe the rim dry, then cover the mouth of the jar with a coffee filter marked with the date. After 7-10 days your kombucha will be ready to bottle. Use smaller mason jars or hermetically resealable bottles. I have also kept store-bought kombucha bottles since they are the perfect size. Strain the kombucha as you bottle it and store it in the fridge.

Your scoby will have multiplied so you can now make two batches or share one with a friend. If you do give one away, be sure to keep it in some starter tea. Another thing to remember is: Do not use metal with scobys! No metal spoons, strainers or containers.

When you have too many scobys, they are compostable. If you don’t compost, you can just throw it away. If you do not know of anyone who makes their own kombucha and can share a scoby with you, you can purchase them from Cultures for Health. They also have videos and more information about kombucha and other fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt and kimchi.

5 Must-Do Things in Key Largo

My husband is a coastal engineer  (which is a really cool profession. If you have a STEM student who loves the water, you should really look into it!) which means that he has to travel to beautiful places like the Florida Keys for work. (I know. Rough life. I told you it’s a cool profession!)

Michael receiving an award!

We have been coming to the Keys every year since 2001 – sometimes to Key West and sometimes to Key Largo, depending on where the conference is being held. Since it was in Key Largo this year, here is my list of can’t-miss things to do.5 Must Do's in Key Largo

Key Lime Pie on a Stick

We have made it a mission to try as many key lime pies as we can when we are down here and hands-down my favorite version is the frozen key lime pie on a stick. Several different places sell them. It’s delicious!

key lime pie on a stick

key lime pie on a stick

A new find this year is the key lime pie in a jar.

Key lime pie in a jar

An interesting version (but not MY favorite) is the fried key lime pie where a piece of pie is wrapped in dough and deep fried. The best one is at the Pilot House where you can see the fish through the glass floor squares. They even light it at night. Very cool!

fried key lime pie

This one was interesting because it was panko crusted. But the pie itself wasn’t very good. IMO.

fried and reg key lime pie

(An aside. Did you know that Oreo has key lime pie cookies? They’re not bad!)

Key Lime Pie Oreos

Snorkel Trip

You can try snorkeling at John Pennekamp State Park but we’ve never done that. Every year we go out on a giant catamaran to offshore reefs. Our favorite outfit is Snorkel Key Largo.

Reef Roamer

It’s seriously amazing to snorkel on a reef. It’s like swimming in a giant aquarium. Definitely bring your GoPro or borrow one from a friend! You can plan on about $45 per person. They provide you with all the equipment, go 3.5 miles offshore and make two stops. On the latest trip we stopped at Mosquito Bank North and then we went to Mosquito Bank South.

Shell World

Shell World
There are two locations in Key Largo but our preferred one is the second, more southern location (near MM 96). I remember the first time we stopped here I was a little skeptical, expecting it to be full of tacky touristy stuff. Although there is a little bit of that, most of the store is actually really, really cool! I like to buy a souvenir piece of jewelry. My collection is growing nicely.

Nautical trinkets and baubles

And of course they sell shells. It is *Shell* World after all!

Shells

Hang out by the Beach/Pool

I mean, it’s the Keys, right?? It’s all about laid-back and relaxing. People mistakenly believe that there are nice beaches in the Keys. Actually, most of the islands are surrounded by mangroves. However, hotels do a pretty good job of creating man-made beaches for hanging out on but they certainly are not the best beaches in Florida. The views are amazing, though, so taking time to just chill in a chair, under a palm tree while gazing out at the blue expanse is definitely on my to-do list when I’m down here! Extra points if there’s a cold adult beverage in my hand.

If you’re lucky (like I was) you might see a juvenile manatee swim by!

Cuban Food or Seafood

There’s a large population of Cubans so the food is very authentic and delicious! Stop by the Pinecrest Bakery for cafe’ con leche and a pastry! There was only one woman who spoke English this last time! Talk about authentic!

The Keys are pretty pricey but the seafood is so incredibly fresh that you just have to pay the piper. Personally, I do not eat any crustaceans but I have grown to like some types of fish. I had some really yummy yellow tail snapper and mahi mahi.

Cuban pork, plantains, black beans and rice

Cuban pork, plantains, black beans and rice

The Keys are pretty pricey but the seafood is so incredibly fresh that you just have to pay the piper. Personally, I do not eat any crustaceans but I have grown to like some types of fish. I had some really yummy yellow tail snapper and mahi mahi.

fish with plantains

fish with plantains

Mahi mahi salad

I think this was mahi mahi on a salad.

So there you have it! My list of things we do every time we go to Key Largo!

5 Must Do's in Key Largo

Be sure to pin this to help you remember for your trip to the Keys!

Have you ever been to the Keys? What’s your favorite thing to do there?

Little Free Libraries

I’ve mentioned Little Free Libraries before here but today I wanted to give you a little more detail about them. Plus some friends of mine are talking about them too.

I first found out about them from my friend Karla’s post about it. It was love at first sight! I instantly wanted to go find the ones in my area but it took a while to find a day where I had nothing to do. Penny, the dog, and I drove around to the ones I could find in Jacksonville. It was so much fun! Like a geocache or Easter egg hunt! Below are shots of the ones I found.

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I dropped off 5 books and took home three. I picked up a book for my husband that he really liked, one for my brother and a tea mystery book for my friend Lisa and she ended up loving it so much she checked out the whole series from the library. Nothing for me.

If you want to see if there are any near you go to the Little Free Library website and click on “map” (or just follow the link I gave you.) I like to use the “city/state” feature to see all the ones in the city I’m interested. For example, here’s what you find for Jacksonville, FL:

Free Little Libraries

See the southernmost one? I live near there but that LFL is located in an elementary school so I haven’t visited that one. I looked for the ones that are clustered around the downtown area.

I’ve also found some in St. Augustine.IMG_6347

And when we were in the Virginia Mountains this summer, we accidentally found one by the Peaks of Otter Lodge!

Now go check out what Michael Ann in Savannah, GA; Karla in Northern Idaho, and Leslie in Western Texas have to say about Little Free Libraries!

Have you ever visited a Little Free Library? Do you have them in your town? Tell me below!

Checklist for Outfitting a Dorm Room (for a guy)

Since we just dropped our second child off at college (and no, it doesn’t get any easier) I took a few notes of what we brought to set up his dorm room. Below  is my recommended checklist of items you’ll need to outfit a dorm room.

dorm room graphic

It is a “bare minimum” list. Obviously, every student will have different needs according to the style of dorm but this will at least give you a starting place. Don’t forget to consult with your roommate to avoid purchasing doubles of items like appliances! And for a girl, you’ll need a lot more. Just sayin’…

Bed and Bath

  • egg crate mattress pad (to make those plastic-covered mattresses a bit more comfy)
  • extra-long twin sheets (believe me! There’s a difference!)
  • comforter/quilt
  • blanket for snuggling
  • pillow(s) with cases
  • towels and washcloths
  • bath rug
  • shower curtain and rings
  • full-length mirror

Kitchen Items

  • coffee maker and filters
  • coffee mugs and spoons
  • sugar/sweetener
  • creamer/half and half
  • mini fridge
  • microwave
  • trash can and liners (room came with a recycle can only)
  • a few plates or paper plates
  • a few pieces of silverware or plasticware
  • water bottle/cups
  • a few plastic food containers
  • cleaning cloth/paper towels
  • dish drying pad/dishwashing detergent

Laundry Supplies

  • laundry detergent pods/dryer sheets
  • laundry bag/basket (we have a hamper with wheels)
  • iron/ironing board or steamer (for you maybe? not my boy…)

Personal Hygiene and Health

  • First aid items
  • tweezers and nail clippers
  • ear plugs
  • prescription meds
  • soap/body wash
  • shampoo/conditioner
  • shaving accessories
  • deodorant/moisturizer
  • toothbrush/toothpaste

Electronics

  • phone (doubles as alarm) and charger
  • computer/laptop with cords
  • ethernet cable (get a long one! 14 ft isn’t long enough!)
  • power strip with surge protector

Clothing

  • shorts/pants
  • tops/tees
  • long-sleeved tops/sweaters
  • jacket/coat
  • undies/socks
  • bathing suit/workout clothes
  • shoes
  • watch/jewelry/sunglasses
  • extra hangers (trust me…)

Miscellaneous

  • backpack
  • school supplies such as pens/pencils/paper
  • notebook
  • tape/post-its/scissors/stapler
  • calculator
  • flashlight (headlamp)
  • rain gear (umbrella? jacket?)
  • skateboard and/or bike
  • decorations for walls/message or bulletin boards
  • small bins for hold misc. stuff (we used two for undies and socks but could have used a plastic one to hold toiletries)
  • ATM card/
  • river’s license/student ID
  • health insurance card
  • sporting equipment (Timothy is bringing his rock climbing stuff. His roommate brought golf clubs and surf board.)

Timothy’s room is carpeted so we didn’t need to bring a throw rug. His room has a bathroom so he needed a curtain and a bathmat but he did not need things like shower shoes and a shower caddy. He is not bringing a TV/DVD/gaming system or printer. He may need a lamp, a storage cart/cabinet in the bathroom (there’s no cabinet at all in there!)

dorm room
The drop off went really well. With four of us, it only took two trips to get two carloads to the 3rd floor. After loading up his dresser, hanging up his clothes, making his bed and setting up his computer, off we went to grab lunch at Bento’s.


Then a quick stop at Publix to pick up a few items (drinks and snacks, coffee and half and half.)


Once we unloaded that stuff, it was time for goodbye. I got all my tears out earlier so I did well! Yay!! (Thank you for all your kind comments on social media and texts of encouragement and prayers! I really appreciated them!)


Timothy’s address is 11800 UNF Drive Box 0626 Jacksonville FL 32224-2645 in case anyone wants to send him snail mail. (Who doesn’t love to get real mail in the mailbox??)

What would you add to this list? Maybe we need it and didn’t even realize it!!

More Hard Parenting

My friend Abby from Grumbling Grace featured my hard parenting post this week on her Mombies Unite series. You can check it out here.

parenting hardest job

Today is another hard parenting day. All those days of crying, tantrums, sick children, character training, late nights, up-all-night did nothing to prepare me for this day. Although I knew it was coming, and the days seemed really long when we were in the midst of them, I still did not want this day to come, for THOSE days to end.Timothy in a tree

Today’s the day that we drop our middle child off at college and although we have gone through this before, it is still not easy. In some ways this one is even harder because now we know. We know that it will never be the same. He will come home for visits and for breaks but he will never again live at home. Timothy on the bridge

Every night as I would pass his bedroom on my way to bed,  he was usually sitting at his computer so I would stop in for a good night kiss or a chat. But tonight all that will be different. His room will be empty. And although it’s been empty before, this is a different kind of empty. And although he is not going far away, he is still going away. And it is because I have done this before with my firstborn that I know that our relationship will change. It will never be like it was before. And I know in my head that this is the way it needs to be. He is grown up now. He is a man. But this mama’s heart is broken.Timothy by lake and bridge

This is the child who was never ashamed of his parents, who always hugged and kissed his mama in public, who told me how pretty I looked. (Just yesterday he told me I looked so cute! He’s gonna make an amazing husband one day! I’m tellin’ ya!) His love language is Physical Touch and Words so he is quick to give a hug and a compliment. After the first one left us reeling in the teenaged years, this one was easy. No drama. No heartache. Come to find out, not all teenagers make life hard for parents! Phew! Timothy by the lake

I asked him at dinner a couple of nights ago what he was most looking forward to in college and his answer did not surprise me, “The people,” he replied instantly. This boy knows how to make friends and he loves deep conversations so he is relishing the prospect of new relationships. I’m not worried about him. It’s me that I’m concerned for. I look forward to seeing what his future brings but today, today is a day of mourning for what has been. Today is a hard parenting day. But I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

I’ll be spamming social media with pictures of move-in day. So if you want to see me in pictures of dark glasses (his future’s so bright and my eyes will be puffy) you can follow along over there. Instagram. Facebook.

Photography by Eternal Crown

What to Pack in Your Carry On Bag

A few weeks ago I mentioned what to wear and what not to wear on an airplane which got me thinking about what I have to bring in my carry on. If I’m checking a suitcase then I have some things that I can’t live without on the plane. For starters, I like to bring a bag that can fit under the seat in front of me so I don’t have to get stuff out of the overhead compartment. I have this one by Ballard Designs. It’s roomy enough for all my essentials and the straps are the perfect length for toting. Plus it can double as a beach bag, tote bag or shopping bag when I get to my destination. Below is my essentials list of what to pack in your carry on bag.What to Carry On

Reading material and readers.

One great joy I get out of traveling is the large chunks of uninterrupted time just to read. I confess that I am old-school in that I actually carry paper books. I do have a kindle app on my phone but I hardly ever use it. I prefer the feel of an old-fashioned book. If you are curious to see what have I been reading lately you can follow me on GoodReads! I like to use that app to keep track of my To Be Read (TBR) pile and it also helps me remember what I’ve read for my Summer Reading posts. (Looking forward to reading this book!) And since I’m at the age where I need readers, I always carry an extra pair. One pair lives on my head and my spare is in my bag. I once left my favorite pair at Denver’s TSA and I was so glad I had my spare pair!

Headphones/earbuds.

On really long flights (transcontinental or transatlantic) the airline will usually give you complimentary earphones but I like to have my own as they are of a better quality and are more comfortable. I use them for watching movies, listening to audio books on my Overdrive app or, in rare occasions, for listening to music on my phone. (I like to listen to classical music if I’m trying to drown out a crying baby but still want to read.)

My jewelry.

Not that I usually travel with fancy, expensive, real jewelry, but even the costume jewelry I have I don’t want to lose. I made the mistake of putting a small bag of jewelry in my suitcase on a trip to France. We took a bump in Cincinnati and got upgraded to first class for the transatlantic flight a few hours later. Unfortunately, our luggage never made it. In five days. Ever. We found an H&M in Paris and bought a few necessities for the remainder of our stay. However, when we returned home and our luggage finally showed up, the bag of jewelry was gone. Lesson learned. Do not put ANY jewelry in checked baggage. (I really need to get a jewelry roll like this one rather than throwing everything in the small zipper bag I picked up in the Bahamas. Then I wouldn’t have to untangle all my necklaces! I also really like this one but it’s a bit pricier.)

Neck pillow, eye mask and ear plugs.

On long flights, I bring my neck pillow. If I don’t, I end up with a crick in my neck that won’t go away for days. I prefer a solid one to a blow up one. It can take up a lot of space in my carry-on but in my opinion, it’s worth it! I have one like this, but this one looks really interesting and got great reviews! The eye mask I have is from Delta. They give them away in first class and since my mom always flies first class (she claustrophobic) she gives them to me. But here’s a nice large, inexpensive one if you don’t have a supplier of free ones. Earplugs are important for drowning out crying babies. I like the foam contoured ones like these.

My usual purse stuff minus my big wallet.

I switch to a small wallet that just has my credit cards/debit cards, insurance cards and cash. I leave my library card, BJ’s card, rewards cards, etc at home. But I still carry my other usual purse supplies like tissues, headache meds, sewing kit, lipstick/gloss, band aids, measuring tape, pens, hairbrush. I know. I carry a lot of stuff in my purse but I like being prepared!

Toothbrush and paste.

I  carry my toothbrush and paste with me so I can freshen up when I arrive the next morning at my destination. It helps tremendously with feeling awake and fresh. It doesn’t take up that much room and it’s so worth it!

Bullet journal.

I recently began keeping a bullet journal which doubles as a my travel journal when I’m traveling. This way I have one place to keep all my thoughts! I first learned about the bullet journal from Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy but I read more about it here. I recently compared notes with my friend Michael Ann on how to’s.

Portable phone charger and regular plug charger.

Don’t leave home without your phone charger! (I speak from experience…). On those long flights the plane will usually have a USB port so you can charge during your flight. On shorter flights, I will plug in at my next gate. But in case I don’t have time or can’t find a plug, I like to carry a portable phone charger. I have this one by Anker that I really like.

Medicine.

Be sure you pack your meds in your carry-on, in case your checked bag doesn’t make it. I have a weekly case like this one that I put my meds in. When I go on a two-week trip I just double up on the days. If you have too many meds or go on longer than two weeks then you might need a mac-daddy like this one or this one is handy because you can take the day’s worth of pills with you without having to take the whole she-bang.

Snacks.

I was caught unprepared once without snacks on a flight that got delayed and delayed and since then I’ve learned my lesson.  Either they don’t serve food on the plane or you don’t have time to pick up something in the terminal or what they serve is inedible, I always travel with some sort of snack or meal with me. My preference is nuts or a Quest bar. I tried bringing yogurt with me once but it was confiscated in TSA. Apparently yogurt qualifies as a liquid. The things you learn…

Lightweight cardigan or pashmina.

I am always cold on airplanes. I don’t understand the need to blast the air conditioning so that you can hang meat but since they do, I like to be prepared. I explain what to wear to stay comfortable on a plane in this post. Staying  comfortably warm is essential for me so an outer layer is a must! (I love the pattern on this one!)

Socks.

For the same reason as above.

Other items to consider.

An empty water bottle. (I really like to drink from glass so I have this one.) Hand sanitizer. Wipes. Chewing gum (helps to valsalva on take off and landing.) Travel documents. Contact solution or eye drops. Feminine products. Undies (in case your suitcase is lost and you need a change when you get there! Hey! It’s happened!).

 

And there you have it! So glad I wrote it all down so I can refer to my list when packing for my next trip! What would you add to my list of must-haves?

What I’ve Been Reading

My Summer Book Shelf

Quilty Joy Joy * Making the Most of Every Day * Out and Back * r Squared

*Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After * She Thought She Could

* The Mishaps and Mayhem of a Solitary Life

Welcome back to July’s edition of my Summer Reading List! If you read last month’s list, you know that I brought an ambitious pile of books with me on my trip to Italy. Alas, I was too busy eating to read much so I only made it through a few of the books I had brought. Below is my list for July.

  1.  The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. (audio version) Four stars. The author does a fine job of jumping back and forth between current time and the past to reveal deep hurts of the protagonist.
  2. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. Three stars. I fully expected to enjoy it more but something about it fell flat.
  3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. (audio version) Three stars. Not my genre but I listened to it on audio and it was fine. I think my son would really enjoy it.
  4. Ripe for the Picking by Annie Hawes. Five stars. A continuation of Extra Virgin which I thoroughly enjoyed several years ago.
  5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. (audio version) Five stars. I really liked the way the author slowly revealed character.

 

And then these are the books I’ve started but haven’t finished.

  1. Brideshead Revisited. (tried audio but abandoned). Since I’m a visual learner, the writing is too complex for me to follow it on audio. I should read the hard copy but in actuality I’ll probabaly just watch the movie.
  2. The Little Paris Bookshop. (tried it on audio but abandoned). A few scenes that were a tad too racy for my tastes.
  3. Picnic in Provence (audio – ran out of time). I need to finish this book but my check out time had expired.
  4. A Rich Spot of Earth. Left for Italy before I could even look at it. Need to give it a try before it’s due soon.
  5. The Nest. I’m a bit of a prude and this book has a little too much R rated material for my tastes.

I’m currently reading…

  1. A String in the Harp (YA novel)
  2. The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook.

So far so good on both! We’ll see how they go next month!  For more inspiration, check out the other blogs to see what they’ve been reading lately! What have you been reading lately?

 

One Sentence a Day – July

I got my act together and joined in again for July. I completely missed May and June! Here’s my month in review, one sentence at a time. Linking up with the Blended Blog ladies!

sentence-a-day

1. Second day of college orientation for Timothy!


2. Attended my friend’s father’s memorial service.

3. Celebrated America’s birthday with a potluck cookout in the cul-de-sac!

4. Jax Beach is packed with bikes and skateboards!

5.Laundry and packing in preparation of tomorrow!

6. “I’m leaving on a jet plane!”

7. Touchdown in Rome Fiumicino Airport where our first stop is at a bar for a cappuccino before our connecting flight!

8. First lesson driving stick in the Fiat 126!

9. Had to see Le Sciare with my own eyes to believe that they are really no more! So sad!

10. Drive over an hour to eat lunch at a cool restaurant in the mountains but not before stopping for a midmorning pistachio gelato in Bronte!

11. Sicily has some of the best-preserved Greek temples – even better than Greece!


12. The base is completely changed but I still enjoy visiting the place where I grew up!

13. Beautiful day at the most beautiful beach in the world!

14. Hot chocolate on a hot day might be crazy but it had to happen.

15. Fried pizza party with the neighbors!


16. Time is getting short – gotta go shopping and get the stuff that needs to come back with me! (I think I overdid it with the fried pizza yesterday – not feeling good.)

17. I haven’t been to beautiful Cefalu’ in years so in spite of still feeling yucky, off we go!


18. Visit my childhood friend’s new house and then dinner out in historic Catania!

19. Packing and laundry day, but first another quick trip to the lava beach!

20. Bittersweet day: Leaving Italy but going home to my husband, son and dog!

21. Unpacking and laundry: the bane of travel!

22. Errands and more.

23. Date night! Michael got tickets to the Armada game!

24. Run on the beach (and some Pokemon Go hunting) with Michael!

25. Is that a trashcan lid? No! It’s a large soft-shell turtle! Timothy rescues it by helping it over the fence and into the retention pond in the back of my brother’s house.

26.Temps are 102*!!

27. Missing Italy so grilled eggplant and peppers it is! (Then drive to Gainesville to help Tommy move.)

28. Drive 6 hours to Atlanta; talk on the phone, listen to audio book and podcasts.

29. Last convention of the season helping homeschoolers figure out what to use to homeschool!


30. Say goodbye to Christie and Donna for now!

31. How is it that this trip feels so much longer??? Oh well…home sweet home and life group at the Couches!



What to Wear (and NOT to wear) on an Airplane

This summer you might travel by plane to reach a vacation destination. My daughter and I recently returned from a two week trip to Italy. On the long flight to and from Rome, I noticed several What Not to Wear outfits and it got me thinking on what is appropriate clothing for traveling by plane.What to Wear on an Airplane

What NOT to Wear on an Airplane

Below is a short list of what NOT to wear. If you find yourself considering these items, then let me urge you to reconsider. I’ll tell you why. Then afterwards, I’ll give you ideas on what you CAN wear and still be comfortable and stylish.

High heels

It amazes me when I see women tottering on high heels in airports and on airplanes. Even wedges, although comfy enough, are not a good choice. On our first flight, due to a flight delay, we had to RUN to catch our connecting flight. We would have surely missed our flight had we been wearing a shoe with any kind of heel. Plus, it is simply not worth twisting an ankle for the sake of fashion. Save those cute shoes for your destination.

Short dresses

My new love is a swing dress. Sooooo comfy! It’s like wearing a giant tshirt! No binding waistline! However, all but one of my dresses end above the knee (because on a short person that’s the best length!) If I stretch my arms over my head (like when I need to put something in the overhead compartment), my dress rides much higher than I’m comfortable! Plus, then my legs are cold when the air is particularly conditioned. Only one time did I wear my longer swing dress on a plane and I paired it with a cardigan and leggings. Thankfully, my bag was checked at the gate so I didn’t even have to mess with the overhead bin. (However, swing dresses are a PERFECT travel companion! They are knit so the wrinkles shake out. You can pack a dozen in a carry-on size bag and still have room to spare. And they are forgiving in the waistline if you tend to bloat on trips. You know. Because your body knows the difference between a toilet in a hotel and toilet at home. Or if you eat a gelato every day.)

Workout clothes

I get that yoga pants are comfy. Really I do. And comfort is key on an airplane. However, it is NOT a stylish look and I think that yoga pants are to be left to the teens. We ladies can do better than that. Pack your workout gear in your bag!

Shorts/tank top

If you are headed to a Caribbean island then it’s fine to wear resort wear, but it can get pretty chilly on an airplane. In order to keep all guests comfortable, they set the thermostat at the temperature that a person experiencing a hot flash would find comfortable. That is too chilly for the average person. So save the short shorts and tank tops/camisoles for the beach.

What TO Wear on an Airplane

Having flown quite a bit I have gained a few insights due to personal experience. Consequently, I have a sort of uniform that I wear to be comfortable yet stylish. Here’s my formula.

Skinny jeans

Since I said no to shorts and dresses, my solution is skinny jeans. Pick a pair that has quite a bit of stretch so that they are nearly as comfortable as yoga pants but offer a more polished look. Also, as much as I love my white jeans, a dark wash is more forgiving, hiding dirt or inadvertent spills.

A comfy, loose top

I like something that will keep me covered, that is not binding and that I can layer. This is typically a loose t-shirt but it can also be a long sleeved button down such as an oxford or chambray top. Again, I like to make sure that whatever top I choose will keep my belly covered when reaching my arms up over my head.

Military vest

I have found that I love throwing on this extra layer. It not only adds interest to an otherwise simple outfit (jeans and tee) but the many pockets are great for stashing phone, glasses, boarding passes, chewing gum, ear buds and lip balm.

Flat sandals or sneakers

If the weather is really hot and the trip is relatively short, I’ll wear sandals but keep a pair of socks in my purse for wearing through security and on the plane if it’s cold. If the trip is longer and the probability of freezing is high, OR if I need to save space in my suitcase, I’ll wear my running shoes. Then I already have my socks on for going through security and onboard.

Light cardigan/jeans jacket

I always bring a light cardigan that layers well over my top to protect me from chilly airport terminals and airplanes. If I’m bringing a heavier outer layer then I might carry that on the plane, saving space in my suitcase and giving me an additional outer layer that can double as a blanket.


As I was looking through my photos, these are the only two I snapped of the airplane ride. You can’t see my outfit but trust me, I followed my own advice!


If you are interested in my trip to Italy, stay tuned for 6 Reasons to Visit Sicily coming soon to the blog! And if you can’t wait and want to travel vicariously with me, then follow me on Instagram! Or you can connect with me on SnapChat (where these pix are from.) My username is sdelcharco.

What tips would you add to my list about what to wear and not wear on an airplane? Tell me in the comments! I’d love to hear!

Things To Do in St. Augustine 

We live about 30 minutes from one of Florida’s best little cities and we like to visit as often as we can. In fact, two years ago we had made it a point to visit monthly calling it St. Augustine in 2014. Here are a few ideas of what to see and do when checking out St. Augustine, the oldest city in the US. (Check out the great outfits I’m wearing! Chico’s supplied me with the pieces but I love them all on my own! Details at the bottom.)Where to stay, eat, and drink

Where to Stay

If you want to go for a splurge then I recommend the Casa Monica hotel. Taylor Engineering’s Founder’s Day Ball (which just so happened to coincide with St. Augustine in 2014) was held in this beautiful, historical hotel two years ago. It is a popular place for weddings!

A very romantic city, St. Augustine has many quaint bed and breakfast inns to choose from. We stayed At Journey’s End because it received great reviews, is in walking distance from the main square and the Casa Monica Hotel, the site of the ball.At Journey's EndJourney's End porch

Another favorite of ours is the Hilton Bayfront Hotel. We had wanted to stay at this hotel overlooking the bay and the Bridge of Lions so one day Michael surprised me by pulling in after a day of hanging out at the beach. He had packed my suitcase and had it hidden in the back of the car. That evening we tried out several new-to-us places. (Check out Where to Eat and Drink). The inside is so very Spanish with dark wood and majolica tile.Hilton

Hilton fireplace

Where to Eat

There are so many places to recommend and we are still finding new places! Below is a short list of some of our favorites.

La Pentola – fine Italian dining. I hardly EVER eat at Italian Restaurants but I liked this place.

The Columbia – Spanish/Cuban cuisine in a beautiful location.

Cellar 6 – Bistro-type wine bar. You can sit outside at one of the road-side tables and watch the people go by. Feels like you are on a small street in Spain!

O.C. White’s – We love the outdoor seating in this centrally located restaurant!

Pizza Alley – Some of the best pizza in St. Augustine, located right on St. George Street!

The Conch House – Located on Anastasia Island, across the Bridge of Lions. Caribbean inspired cuisine. We like to grab a tiki hut and eat outside overlooking the marina. My kids first tried gator here!

If you have time, try out Villano Beach which is on the north side of the inlet. Our favorite over there is Cap’s on the Water  but Michael likes Aunt Kate’s too.

Where to Drink

Some of our favorite places in St. Augustine are where you can grab a great drink!

The Ice Plant ice plant truckProbably one of my favorite drink places in St. Augustine, the Ice Plant is housed in an old plant where they would make the ice for the shrimp boats when they would come in with their catch. They have completely restored it with period items.

ice plant stairs

All their cocktails are handcrafted and EVERYTHING is made from scratch – even the ketchup!

ice plant ownerWe just happened to run into Michael Macklemore, the owner, Patricia’s, father. He showed us around a little bit. This is the liquor cage. Pretty cool!

ice plant bar

And upstairs is the bar area. The bartenders and waitstaff dress in period costumes. The place has a speakeasy sort of feel to it.

JP Henley’s – We last came here for a work-related social and had a few beers. The dark interior feels more like a clubhouse to me.

The Prince of Wales British Pub – This place is so picturesque! I love the look and feel of the place. Pretty authentic food and beer!

Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille – Although this is also a restaurant, we’ve only been here for drinks. And boy were they good! There’s outside, shady seating!

Cellar 6 – Wine, cocktails. You name it.

San Sebastian Winery – The winery is up the road from the Ice Plant. They have a large upstairs terrace where you can have a glass of wine and see the view of downtown. Especially fun at Christmas time when all the lights are on!

What to Do

If you have never visited St Augustine, it’s a good idea to take a tour of some kind. There are many to choose from: walking, trolley, Segway (read about our experience here!), carriage ride, The Tasting Tours, Graveyard or Ghost Tour. This will help you get the lay of the land and provide you with informative history. Over the years we have done several different kinds. Red Train ToursOur latest tour was the Vino and Victuals tour with the Tasting Tours. We visited 4 different locations, sampled different food and wines and had a blast with the other visitors in our own horse drawn wagon.The Tasting Tours 2

A visit to the Castillo de San Marcos fort is a must. It’s really fun to visit when the re-enactors are shooting off the cannons. Castillo

Check out the visitor’s center for art exhibits. We saw American Masters who were coming down to St. Augustine to paint and I know they had a Picasso exhibit as part of the 450 Anniversary but unfortunately we missed that one!

Across the Bridge of Lions is Anastasia Island which has the beautiful St. Augustine Lighthouse that is worth a climb to see the views of downtown and the inlet. Another fun thing to do on the island is visit the Alligator Farm. We have even ziplined over all the reptiles!

Bridge of Lions

The Lightner Museum is housed in one of Henry Flagler’s hotels. It’s such a cool building with a cafe’ located where the indoor pool used to be!Lightner Museum

Flagler College was also a Henry Flagler hotel. You can take a tour of this beautiful college campus. Flagler college

Flagler courtyard

Explore the side streets, not just St. George Street. The houses are so pretty and you’ll find hidden gardens and fountains!cobblestone streets

gardensNow let’s chat a bit about the great outfits I’m wearing. Chico’s provided me with the pieces but the opinions are all my own. Here’s what I’m wearing:

So Slimming Petite Girlfriend Alabaster Ankle Jeans – I love that the petite size is PERFECT on me! I didn’t have to roll or hem these pants. The material is super soft and a perfect weight. Heavy enough to not be see-through but light enough to wear in summer. I also like that the rise is a bit higher than some of my other jeans but they are not high-waisted. I.love.these.jeans!

Petite Double Layer Tank in Majestic Blue – I love this tank! I really, really do! It’s super lightweight but again, not see-through. I don’t have to wear a cami under it! I think the length is perfect. Very flattering. I also love that I can wear a regular bra under it without any peekaboo going on! It’s perfect on its own or layered under the jacket.

Geometric Bi-Color Jacket – Although the days are really hot here (it was 97 degrees with high humidity on the 4th of July!), the air conditioning is set really low so I often bring a sweater or a jacket if I’m going to be inside a building for any amount of time. This jacket is perfect for layering *and* making a bold statement!

Classic Petite Rosemary Dress – This dress is part of the Travelers Line which means that it doesn’t wrinkle! The ruching is quite forgiving. This dress can easily be dressed up or down, making it a very versatile piece when traveling.

Petite Bayleigh Fringed Pullover – This is my favorite piece. I love the color and how unique it looks. It’s like a poncho and tank all rolled into one and it’s also a cold shoulder piece (my first!). It’s knit, like a sweater, but it’s so loosely knit that it breathes and keeps you cool. I wore this when we went on a horse-drawn Vino and Victuals tour. It was hot, but I stayed cool and collected.

Willow Collar Necklace – The links of this necklace are made to look like pieces of bamboo. It has a nice heft to it. I like how the polished silver adds a little extra something to whatever you wear it with. As you see, I’ve styled it with all three outfits and it looks great with each!

I confess that I had never shopped at Chico’s before. I “met” them at the B@M Conference I attended and was so pleased to do a collaboration with this brand! Since then I have learned a few things about this clothing company.

  1. They have regular *and* petite sizes. I love it when I can find petite sizes! They just fit me better! (I’m 5’1″)
  2. They have different collections such as the Traveler’s Collection which keeps you wrinkle-free while you travel and the Black Label Collection which has chic black and white pieces.
  3. I like that many of their models are not in their teens or twenties. That speaks to me because, hey, I’m not in my teens or twenties either!
  4. They have bold, modern pieces – from clothing, to bathing suits, to jewelry. I encourage you to check them out!