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Craft Gourmet Bakery: Pensacola

Craft Gourmet Bakery: Pensacola

One of the fun things about visiting Pensacola in recent years has all been finding all the new and delicious places that pop up in between our visits. I try to keep an ear to the ground for recent developments and openings. One thing I’ve […]

Italian Food in Pensacola: Franco’s Italian Restaurant

Italian Food in Pensacola: Franco’s Italian Restaurant

Looking for delicious Italian food in Pensacola? Look no further than Franco’s Italian Restaurant near downtown. This Pensacola institution is celebrating their twentieth anniversary this month, and Melissa and I enjoyed revisiting it recently with our moms.   One of the awesome things about growing […]

Travel Tradeoff: Time or Money?

Travel Tradeoff: Time or Money?

It’s not original to me by any means, but I have a working life theory that most daily decisions you make come down to what you’re willing to spend more of: your time or your money? It comes into play in a big way when making travel plans: Do you get a cheap flight and travel for 24 hours? Or do you spent twice as much and get there in half the time? Do you spend less on rooms and walk farther/sit on the metro longer? Or sleep on a sofa bed in the living room to save money? When do you go to museums? Do you cram them all in on a 48 hour pass?

I don’t think there’s usually a right or wrong answer; the resources you have available and your circumstances may even change from trip to trip. I read somewhere that people are usually more reluctant to spend money because it’s more quantifiable and seems more finite. But we can’t buy time! So I’ve found it helpful to be aware of the choice I’m making: what am I spending here, time or money? It’s helped me be deliberate about where I choose to spend my time and sanity! This topic has been fresh on my mind as I’ve been planning my current trip.

I chose to drive 12 hours round trip to save at least $2000 on tickets. I don’t mind driving, and the return on my time investment will be well worth the money I saved! (As an hourly rate that’s about $166 – if you find someone willing to pay me that to drive on a regular basis, send them my way!) If I was traveling alone I would have made a different decision – the significant drop in ticket volume no longer makes the savings worth it.

On the flip side, I chose to spend more on rooms in order to make travel with my children easier and more comfortable.


I will choose the slower train ride that is 40 minutes longer to save 80€ on our tickets. Sitting on a train is easy – and might even be a welcome break!

But I might turn around and spend that 80€ on metros and taxis in order to not drive my children to the point of exhaustion.

On our upcoming trip I will probably make our lunch sandwiches in our rooms so I can spend that 5€ saved on an extra pastry run every day. Which doesn’t exactly work out to either time or money saved, I suppose, but! More pastries! I’d much rather have the pastries I can’t make than the sandwiches I can, and I’m pretty darn sure that picking out French pastries will be a memory for my children. I didn’t bother to make sandwiches when it was just my husband and I traveling together. Different trip, different return on time investment.

Is it worth buying a public transport pass so you can have unlimited access, just for the ease of it? (Usually: yes.)

How much enjoyment will spending this money bring? Personally, most days a bakery picnic in the park truly brings me as much joy as sitting down in a restaurant. I choose my restaurant joys wisely and sparingly. On the flip side, how much headache will spending this money save me? Just buy the good baby equipment already and save your back/arms/pinched fingers!

Again, there’s no blanket “You should do _____” formula, because different things are valuable to different people – and different things are valuable differently to the same person as circumstances shift, kids get older, trip lengths vary – you get the point. How much money/how much time/how much joy/how much pain?. . . Try to think of where your pain points are/will be, and spend wisely there to alleviate them. On a happier note, think of what brings you great joy, and spend your money wisely there!

Travel time or money: the view is free

Planning a Family Trip to France: Booking Rooms

Planning a Family Trip to France: Booking Rooms

Whew, am I breathing a sigh of relief– all of our rooms for our trip to France are booked! As I mentioned in my post about tickets, to me booking rooms is hands-down the most stressful part of planning. I’m not entirely sure why; I […]

Six Reasons I Don’t Use Hotels on a Family Trip

Six Reasons I Don’t Use Hotels on a Family Trip

Let me clarify up front that I have nothing against hotels. Not at all. They can provide a delightful experience, often a luxurious one. We use them ourselves on many occasions. It’s just that one of those occasions is not a family trip, particularly a […]

Stumptown Coffee: My New Orleans

Stumptown Coffee: My New Orleans

I am just now coming to fully appreciate the charm that New Orleans oozes from so many corners (I know, I know, silly me. . . long story), so granted I haven’t been really dialed in to much the city’s pulse. . .  but I do know that true third-wave coffee has been a long time coming to the city, and now the craft coffee shops are popping up everywhere! I’m excited to try all of them (eventually), and wonder which will become my favorite. Top of the list for atmosphere is currently Stumptown Coffee, located adjacent to Ace Hotel, at the edge of the Warehouse District and the CBD.

Stumptown Coffee New OrleansStumptown Iced Coffee on Tap









Its Art Deco vibe is eclectic in the chicest sort of way, and has plenty of comfortable seating. It feels like the living room of your sophisticated, slightly quirky, but definitely most-interesting-friend-in-your-social-circle. Personally I especially appreciate the warmer finishes, rather than the bare concrete/industrial decor that has been in vogue lately. The softer atmosphere it creates makes me want to linger. Particularly, of course, with something hot in my hand. The coffee is quite tasty (don’t let me sell that short), with a straightforward classic Italian espresso flavor, and you can get iced coffee on tap.


Stumptown Coffee New Orleans


The decor details make it a feast for all the senses. Stumptown cafe cups, uniquely displayed pastries, a wall of quirky decor, and tasteful but consistent branding and styling turn it into an experience. My hubby and I grabbed lattes (our go-to coffee order), and then sat in Ace Hotel’s lobby as we sipped them.


Stumptown Coffee Pastries


The hotel lobby is replete with yet more comfortable couches and chairs, with the added perk that it’s a great place for people watching. Plus I’m fairly certain that my cool factor (what there ever was of it. . . ) edged up by a point or so by just hanging out there.


Ace Hotel New Orleans Stumptown Coffee New Orleans


On the other side of the hotel lobby is Josephine Estelle, a cafe just as full of character as the rest of the hotel (read a review here). It reminded me of Viennese cafes, except with a tropical (Cuban?)/Southern twist. My sister and I both have it on our list of places to eat, so stay tuned for a report. . .If you’re looking for another spot for lunch, St. James Cheese company is a comfortable walk from Stumptown, and another spot I highly recommend. I look forward to returning to soak up the atmosphere while sipping my latte soon!


Stumptown Coffee

7:00am-7:00pm daily

610 Carondelet St
New Orleans, LA 70130

(more info here)



St Charles Streetcar Riders’ Guide: My New Orleans

St Charles Streetcar Riders’ Guide: My New Orleans

There are few things more quintessentially New Orleans than riding the St Charles streetcar and admiring the gorgeous scenery rolling by. We got the chance to ride it recently as part of our homeschool co-op transportation unit. We had no fewer than eleven (yes, 11!)  […]

Planning a Family Trip to France: Real Time Travel!

Planning a Family Trip to France: Real Time Travel!

Oh boy, you guys, stuff has gotten real and a lot has happened! We’ve booked a trip to France for our whole family! (I still can’t believe it’s happening!) A few months ago I was daydreaming about a European trip, and I promised to bring […]

7 Beach Safety Tips for Enjoying Florida Beaches with Kids

7 Beach Safety Tips for Enjoying Florida Beaches with Kids

Beach safety is the hidden side of our love of the beach time. Since our mother is a born and raised Florida beach native and lover, through the years she has passed on many tidbits of beach safety wisdom that make our beach days much more pleasant (and safer!). If you’re headed to the beach soon, I hope these tips help you enjoy every day of your trip too!


1: Sun protection, Sun protection, Sun protection

Yes, I know it’s summer and you’re at the beach and you’re dreaming of a tan. Not tanning is rarely the issue. That gleaming white sand and sparkling emerald water reflect the sun’s rays, multiplying the rays’ effects and making them much more powerful than they would be if you were spending the day out in another location. Sunburn can happen before you know it. Sun protection is key to enjoying multiple beach days in a row (and for years to come. Ask our mother who’s battled skin cancer.). We use sunglasses, hats, swim shirts (kids too!), and plenty of sunblock (reapply often!). I know, I know, hats and shirts seem fuddy-duddy. But the totally rad surfers wear them too! Be rad like them. Joking aside, covering up is hands-down the best way to not get burned, especially during the most intense hours of sun (about 10:00-2:00). Double up on protection during those hours, and you’ll still return home plenty tan. When applying sunblock don’t forget the part/thin areas of your hair, the tops of your feet, and the tips of your ears!  Especially easy to forget — your lips, but they’ll burn too! Pick up sunblock for your lips with SPF 45-50, like this, this or this (the one I’ve used lately, though I don’t really have a favorite). Trust me, your lips will thank you. There’s a reason sun protection is top of the beach safety list!


2: Sun Protection When It’s Cloudy

Didn’t you just talk about sun protection? Repeat yourself much? It’s super easy to forget that clouds don’t block those UV rays that will burn you — you can sit out all day in the cool breeze and forget that your skin is roasting because you’re not hot. Trust me, I’ve done it. And it will ruin the next day or two of your vacation. (Yeah, that’s happened too.) All those sun protection tips are almost more important when it’s cloudy, because you don’t feel what’s happening until it’s too late.


3: Go in Late Afternoon

Want to know the best time of day to go to the beach? In our opinion it’s late afternoon and evening, from about 2:00-sunset. It’s still plenty sunny, but not nearly as hot, the day only cools more as the breeze picks up, and to top it off you get to watch gorgeous sunsets over the water while enjoying that breeze. It’s heaven. Pack a picnic dinner and soak it in. Bonus: it can work really well with kids’ nap times too!


4: Sand Removal: Baby Powder/Bucket of Water

As you head back home from your glorious day, sand in the car is inevitable. Embrace it. But maybe not all of it. If there aren’t showers nearby to rinse off, bring a little bucket of water up to dip sandy feet into. Michelle also swears by baby powder for sandy legs; sprinkle it on and rub the sand off. Melissa just makes her kids rinse off even if they’re dry. 😉 If you don’t have rubber mats in your car, try laying a beach towel on the floor before the kids climb in to more easily shake what sand remains out later.


kids on Florida Beach

5: Flag Codes

So here’s a beach safety tip for the actual swimming part. When you enter the beach area, you’ll often see a colored flag flying beneath the American flag, either green, yellow, red, or purple. Green means all is calm and clear, yellow means slightly dangerous surf, red means dangerous surf, and purple means dangerous marine life (typically excessive jellyfish). Dangerous surf doesn’t necessarily mean rough waves (though it can), but more importantly it’s warning you of strong currents; red often means rip tides. Solution? Don’t go out past your waist, make sure you and your kids know how to deadman/survival float and review how to escape a rip tide. Knowing how to relax and stay floating when you’re too tired to swim is a key beach safety concept.

6: Hydration

You probably already know this, but playing in the sand and surf in that sun makes you mighty thirsty. But if you’re in the water you might not realize just how much water your body is losing in the heat. Pack lots of water, because those sugary beach treats only hydrate you so much. (Yes, we pack juices and snacks and junk, but always regret not packing enough water.)

safe on florida beach

7: Pack Lightly

So, the best beach days are those tricky balances of having all the fun food and equipment you want, without it turning into an expedition that requires three trips from the car. Bring what you need, not what you might need. A good beach read is a must, a beach bag with sunblock, towels, one bag of snacks, a small cooler (on wheels!), and chairs. (I recently ran across the concept of a backpack cooler and am fascinated by its possibilities for the beach. Anyone tried them??) We use chairs with built-in covers to eliminate the need for umbrellas. I finally got smart and bought these mesh bags to organize my beach bag. SO MUCH BETTER. They’re like packing cubes for your bag. Also wear flip-flops, because the ground gets HOT in the sun.


So those are our tips and guidelines for basic beach safety. Have fun and stay safe, my friends!




Johnson Beach Two-Fer: My Pensacola

Johnson Beach Two-Fer: My Pensacola

Despite appearances, the main event when we go to Pensacola isn’t eating (and eating) and coffee; it’s the beach! Our favorite beach is locally known as Johnson Beach: our mother grew up going there, we’ve gone to it since we were kids together, and now […]