A Little of This & That… Renovating, Decorating, DIY Projects & Family
A Little of This & That… Renovating, Decorating, DIY Projects & Family

My Favorite Travel Tools for Flying with Two in Tow

The travel posts on this site must be well indexed by Google because a question that I receive somewhat frequently via email is what travel equipment for kids are my go-tos. I’ve covered tips for traveling with babies here and toddlers here, but that was – for the most part – when I was traveling with just one (one these days feels like a breeze!). Let’s talk about equipment today and what a typical trip to the airport might look like.

If I took inventory on what gear (for navigating airports, restaurants, city streets) that make traveling just a little bit easier, I would come up with these five products that I regularly rely on (update: part two of the gear in action now posted):

My Secret Baby-Toddler Tools for Travel with 2 | PepperDesignBlog.com

They are by no means must-haves, but I depend on them a ton! I’ve mentioned before but my office headquarters is up in the Monterey Bay area (about 500 miles north of San Diego) and I’m lucky enough to often bring the girls with me when I travel for work. I have family in Santa Cruz and my mom or Kevin might even travel with me to watch and play with the girls while I’m in the office during the week. There are times when I’m traveling solo with the girls too for work or for play, and I like to make travel as no-frills, no-fuss as possible (I bring as little as possible and make as little of a deal about it I can, I think of it as just part of our life).

My Secret Travel Tool List

1 | Phil & Ted’s Navigator Double Stroller: I’m a huge fan of three wheel strollers for ease of use. After much research I discovered that this guy has received the best double (for a stacked stroller rather than a side-by-side) stroller reviews. We love it. T sits snugly in the bottom seat and Liv rides up top. Even better – it fits either our Combi Cocorro car seat for Liv OR our Graco Snugride for Taylor with the car seat attachment (check it out in action from a recent trip to the airport). For the record, I’m not sure what manufacturer guidelines are for car seat compatibility, I’m speaking purely from personal use here.

PS I love my BOB stroller more and look forward to the day when I have only one in a stroller so that I can pull it out again. BUT as far as doubles go, this guy fits easily through airport security conveyor belts, can be gate checked, and – most importantly – ensures that I have my two little companions buckled in and secure while wandering terminals or city streets.

2 | Combi Cocorro Car Seat: I researched high and low for a lightweight car seat for travel to Europe two years back and discovered the Cocorro. I love, LOVE this car seat more than words can describe! It’s very lightweight for travel and it’s quite compact (you can even fit three across in the back seat of a car). It’s the only up-to-40lb car seat that can fit in a stroller with the cross-car seat safety belt in place and when we stow it under the plane it’s very easy for me or anyone else to cart around in a travel bag. We have the black (available here).

3 | Graco Snugride: Originally bought this infant car seat because it was compatible with the most amount of products (BOB and Phil & Ted’s Navigator strollers being two key ones). We used it for Liv and now for T.

4 | Ergo Carrier: By far the easiest carrier to put on and take off quickly for travel which is great for boarding a plane. Has a large sun cover for walking around when we reach our destination or for allowing T to sleep on my chest while flying (I can block out all light). I love that I can wear her on the front or back and that even at 12 months it’s super easy for me to carry her around. We used the infant insert when she was less than three months old.

5 | Phil & Ted’s Wriggle Wrapper: I am not a fan of traveling with baby products. I’ve mentioned before that I put the girls to sleep wherever I can when we arrive (beds on the floor, beds in drawers or car seats – infants can sleep anywhere). The idea of carrying a travel high chair makes me laugh – momma has two hands and is willing to bring two rolling suitcases and a stroller with her tops! This Wriggle Wrapper rolls up to the size of a rolled sweater and weighs about a half a pound. If I bring it along I am grateful later for the high chair help at restaurants or the hotel (T’s a mover and shaker, especially when she’s eating :)). This soft high chair wraps around any solid chair (unlike the fabric versions that slide over the top of a chair which is very limiting) and secures baby in while they eat. I think that the Wrapper may have been discontinued! Snatch one up if you can find it (there are alternative brands out there, too).

Bonus: Maclaren Triumph Lightweight Stroller: The bonus stroller that’s not on the above list is my lightweight Maclaren. I usually opt for a stroller that can do double duty by carrying a car seat with it as well, but if you are looking for an umbrella-style stroller that quickly folds up for, say, hopping on and off of a city tour bus but one that also reclines for mid-day naps (naps should never rule your vacation) this is the one.

babytoddlertraveltools_skittles_800

But what about all of the above in action!? I’m breaking this post up into two (soooo many words) but come on back for a typical trip to the airport with our fam so that you can see how just little me with two little arms gets the troupe from point A to point B. Pics and hints to follow! Update: you can jump out to that post right here.

PS if you have a moment pop over to this interview from the lovely Capella – I was thrilled to be featured and you might find it interesting! She quizzed me about my hometown, my comfort foods, who I’m inspired by…

Kitchen Breakfast Nook: Searching For a Pair of Chairs

Oops! You may have caught a sneak peek to a post that I’m working on called ‘5 Lessons I Learned From My Mother’ that published itself at 3am this morning :). That one is still in draft phase… sorry for the rss email that blasted out for those that are subscribed to the blog!

Kitchen Breakfast Table | Tufted Bench, Giant Chalkboard | PepperDesignBlog.com
Do you know what’s missing from the above photo?

Kitchen Breakfast Table | Tufted Bench, Giant Chalkboard | PepperDesignBlog.com

A new door and another chair. We’ve installed and stained the new door (there are woohoo’s around here to be had for miles about this door! you might have caught a sneak peek here) and I’ve officially given up on finding my beloved little consignment guy a mate. I actually was very close – about a year ago we were on a weekend vacation to the mountains and, while stopping by a local thrift store called ‘the dump’ (so aptly named because it saves great finds from the dump next door), I actually found a bentwood that, with a little love, might have turned out just like the above chair. It was in bad shape… and Kev mistook it as trash while cleaning out our garage months later and took it to our local dump with a big haul one afternoon without me realizing as much. Ah well. Time for something new and perhaps a little less woodsy.

We have a lot of maple stained wood around the kitchen these days and if I picture a new pair of chairs I’m leaning away from a natural wood and more towards a solid color. At first it was white…

Kitchen Nook Breakfast Chair Inspiration | PepperDesignBlog.com

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But there’s not really that much white in the kitchen itself (except for white dishes in the glass cabinets or on the countertop). Next I thought that color could be really fun!

Kitchen Nook Breakfast Chair Inspiration | PepperDesignBlog.com

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Those red chairs are amazing! And color pops so well, especially in photos. But the more and more that I searched and sat (harhar) on the idea, the more I realized that I was drawn to a different color in this space.

Kitchen Breakfast Table | Tufted Bench, Giant Chalkboard, Black French Doors | PepperDesignBlog.com

Black? Yes, I think black. Between the chalkboard, black framed art, black french doors, oil rubbed bronze faucet hardware…

Kitchen Breakfast Table | Tufted Bench, Giant Chalkboard, Black French Doors | PepperDesignBlog.com

Black is awfully tempting. Is it too much?? Will the black chairs play friendly with the other pieces of furniture in the space? I’m off to explore some options. (It’s kind of nice for me to look back on these photos… at this moment that little kitchen table is filled with craft projects and magazine clippings from Liv’s latest venture. Maybe today I’ll unearth the table again for some great visualizing).

Projects from this space: diy tufted cabinets (aka a new breakfast table bench), a simple giant framed chalkboard, a little cork art & family station, glossy black salvaged french doors (found on the side of the road), calendar wall art (in the black frames) and the ‘before’ kitchen (talk about lots of maple).

I Love Picnics!

We had the opportunity this past weekend (including a Thursday night concert in the park – lots of dancing) to pack a picnic lunch on maybe three different occasions. Man oh man I love picnics. It made me realize that there are certain foods that I always keep on hand (well, almost always) for such awesome, spontaneous moments where eating outdoors is part of the adventure.

Summer Picnic Essentials | PepperDesignBlog.com

We ended up food trucking our dinner Thursday night and packing easy sandwiches and carrot sticks on Sunday for the beach. Seven out of 10 times though we usually assemble finger foods from our fridge that are sort of special picnic snacks and pack them up in a reusable shopping bag or backpack.

I love, LOVE picnics. Or maybe actually it’s the reason that we need to pack one. Eating outdoors on a towel or blanket means that we’re on a hike, playing at a park, walking the zoo, listening at an outdoor music venue, watching a movie under the stars, relaxing at the beach… we’re having a fun, out-of-the-house family day.

Special picnic foods might be fresh sliced fruits, handmade tapenedes, hummus, sweet or pickled veggies… plus foods that we almost always have stocked in the fridge:

1 | Heirloom tomatoes (love, love these with salt, they come in our csa box and I really look forward to their arrival.)

2 | Balsamic vinegar & mozzarella (because they pair so perfectly with tomatoes! Instant gourmet caprese salad. I should have included a handful of basil leaves from the garden in the above photo because in our house those four ingredients are regularly stacked in tupperware and poked with toothpicks for eating on the go.)

3 | Salad-of-the-week (leftovers from whatever we were munching on that week – potato, pasta, artichoke spinach… equally yummy when picked up from the deli down the street.)

4 | Cheese! (I really dig having lots of cheeses on hand for a spontaneous appetizer hour – really yummy while cooking dinner solo or with friends – so you can usually find brie or chèvre or something of the stinky variety in our cheese drawer. Also perfect for a picnic.)

5 | Liv is obsessed with salami. Don’t know what it is but it’s her go-to sandwich and snack, and she’d eat the entire package if no one was looking. We love it with french bread and swiss cheese, mmm.

6 | A loaf of french or sourdough bread (best picked up that morning) for soaking up caprese goodness or layering with sandwich fixings.

We don’t pack a separate lunch for the girls, they treat the above picnic menu like a buffet and choose what they want that day. Summer is awesome here in San Diego, sometimes it starts early in the spring and doesn’t end until well into the fall! That is, the warm evenings part of summer :). Picnics are sort of the ultimate summer activity for me…

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