Trip Bits: After it’s all over

Read the whole Trip Bits series.

Departing my last three international excursions, I’ve carried home a particular present: illness. I seem to have a knack for it.

Usually it comes to me on the last day, right before I’m about to get on a long, overnight, international flight from which there is no escape for 6+ hours. And at high altitudes in a cramped space with 300 other people is just where you want to be with an achy body and a stuffy head.

But it’s (sort of) my own fault. I pick vacations where I’m going to run hard and hardly sleep. No lollygagging on a tropical beach — there’s too much to see! to buy! to eat! Continue reading


Trip Bits: Around and about

Read the whole Trip Bits series.

I’m getting to the age where I’m okay with investing in quality items that may cost more but are going to last. Travel bags are no different. Before London, I bought a cross-body bag at Target that was big enough to haul the camera, my notebook and other necessities while out in the city all day. But it fell apart on like the third day. And that was fine, since it was $20. Well, not fine. But not unexpected, I guess.

Then I started reading Aspiring Kennedy — which documents Lauren’s life and times in London, her travels across Europe and more. When she endorsed Ellington bags, I was intrigued. Plus, she offered a giveaway!

Like Lauren, I bought both the Mia crossbody purse and folding tote. And got the “extra” wallet in green. When they all arrived, I opened the box and out wafted the most delicious aroma. Leather. Real, creamy leather. The olive color is subdued but rich, with silky yet durable fabric. I used both bags every day of our trip to Israel. Every day.

Mia folding tote in Olive

Mia folding tote in Olive

Mia crossbody tote

Mia crossbody purse in Olive

The crossbody was the perfect size to sling over myself and still be able to wend my way through tight crowds. (Though it wasn’t quite big enough to fit my Canon Rebel DSLR camera). The folding tote was my backup bag to hold the camera, the day’s purchases, snacks, etc. Since we were on a bus, it worked — I could bring the larger bag but leave it behind for each excursion. If I was city traveling, I would just upgrade to the folding tote for all-day outings, when you need a larger, catch-all bag.

I’m a big fan.


With my Mia crossbody purse, on the Sea of Galilee. I’m actually on the shore, not standing in the water, promise. I leave that to Jesus.

On a day of sightseeing, my camera and I are attached at the hip. The problem is that I’m still learning how to use it. I’m not so savvy with a camera, even though I’m learning, with practice, to improve my picture taking. iPhones and other smartphones — even iPads! — take great pictures now, but I still feel so professional and artsy with my big, fancy camera. Though I’m not sure its picture quality is any better than some of the good point-and-shoots out today.

I went to a photography class recently, and they swore by lens hoods. I already have a UV filter on my lens, but off I went to dutifully find a lens hood cover. I’d been warned that they were expensive, but I found a plethora on Amazon for under $10. Most of those are even rubberized and collapsible. So, I bought the $6.99 version hoping it would be easy to pack and carry.


I can’t tell much difference. (But keep in mind that I have no idea what I’m doing.) The first day all was going well, until I noticed the hood cover at full extension was corrupting all my pictures. I slid it back, but I still have soft, dark spots lingering in the corners of some of my photos. (Even when I removed the hood cover completely. Hmph.)


Photography people: weigh in here. Are these hood covers really the end-all-be-all in picture taking? Inquiring minds need to know, for next time.

Leave your comments below.

Coming tomorrow: Trip Bits for when it’s all over. Read the whole Trip Bits series.

Monday Musings: On decor, dog-shaming and old wives’ tales.

Good Monday to you.


My family is refurbishing our beach house, albeit a bit late in the season. I don’t consider myself especially good at decorating — I don’t have the patience or vision to pick out knick-knacks and accessories, all those little items that make a room look finished. But I learned one important thing about myself: I’m much better at it when it’s someone else’s money. When I’m not grimacing at the $80 pillow or the $200 difference in a panel vs. sleigh bed, I can bring fabrics and colors and textures together like nobody’s business. My house though? Still an embarrassing “work in progress,” after five years.

I joined Instagram this week. As if I needed another social media site to monitor. I’m way over Facebook, am sporadic on Twitter but can Pinterest like a champ. Apparently Instagram is the wave of the future, though. All I know is that I have no idea what I’m doing. But, come. Be my friend. I can promise you way too many dog-shaming pictures of Ollie, like this one. Continue reading