Decorating with memories - Our Pool Bath

I want our home to tell the story of who we are.

Our pool bath (called a pool bath because it has a door to the back of our home) is a little space I wanted a page of our story.  When people come over to swim this may be the only part of our home they see.

20180220_2637.jpgPool Bathroom Decor - Decorating with memories - Lovely Matters Blog by Heather Walker

I like the things on our walls to have a memory or a feeling tied to them.  This bathroom took us so long to complete because I didn't have something to hang that I was excited about.  Then, a friend told me about her Stepmom who has vintage suits hung in her guest bath - I immediacy squealed as I realized I still had my daughter's first bikini and my son's trunks to do something similar.  This was just the story this space needed.

Pool Bathroom Decor - Decorating with memories - Lovely Matters Blog by Heather Walker

Here's the rest of the details:

The floor tile and wall tile came from Home Depot. 

Hooks from Hobby Lobby.  Attaching hooks to a board it gives off a more finished feel.

Curtains from Cost Plus World Market (no longer in stock, but their options are wonderful).  I purchased 2 of these to frame out the bath and make the space feel larger by keeping the curtains open.

Stool - vintage baby.

If you aren't using turkish towels for your pool days or summer activities I highly suggest!  First, they roll up much smaller than regular beach towels.  They dry quicker.  They come in sizes larger than your average towel.  Last, they are just lovely and classic!

Pool Bathroom Decor - Decorating with memories - Lovely Matters Blog by Heather Walker

float frames and mirror from Target.

Faucet and vanity from Home Depot.

Decorating with memories - Bathroom decor - Lovely Matters Blog by Heather Walker

I already had this image of my son underwater framed in our family room so I moved here to complete the project.  I think I'll eventually replace with a larger image of all our children underwater.

Hope this inspires you when looking to add character to your home.

This post contains affiliate links.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.  Learn more here.  


Tiny Gardening

Two homes ago we had a large backyard garden and it was more quantity than quality so I'm back to gardening but focusing more on my quality this time.  The main challenge is our current backyard gets very little sunlight.  The benefit of tiny gardening is you could move your garden planters around to follow the changing directions of the sun over the year for those with a shady backyard.

Ideas on Tiny Gardening - Lovely Matters Blog - Heather Walker

I found the above planter box at Home Goods last fall.  I might add wheels if I can't find the right spot for sun in our yard.  My kale, rosemary, mint, and citronella lasted through the winter.  I dug up the citronella and placed in a small container to move around where needed.  This weekend I added rainbow chard and sage.  If things go well with this tiny garden I think I'll purchase an additional box like one of these I've been eyeing.

My tiny tip:  I don't compost (maybe someday, maybe not), but instead occasionally use my banana peels, egg shells, and coffee grinds to add nutrients to my garden and special plants.  I put the banana peels in my Blender with the eggshells and a little water and it becomes a little magic potion.  Or if just using egg shells, simply let them dry out and then sprinkle on your garden.  

If you aren't sure if you thumb is green, I've read the easiest thing to grow is spinach and cherry tomatoes. 

Involving our children in the process is so much fun and can expand on their interest in eating new whole foods.  I think each kid getting their own plot or crate would be super exciting for them to take ownership.  And the garden is a great place to bond with children. As of now, our children are happy with a simple tin can with spit out apple seeds from last night's dinner (true story - wish us luck).   

This post contains affiliate links.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.  Learn more here.  


lovely links for march

lovely matter lifestyle blog by heather walker

Whew!  How is it March!  My goal is to write a post twice a week, but well, other priorities came first.  Family priorities... saying yes to things like dance parties in the kitchen!  March is a busy month with my husband's business travels.  The absence of him always makes me realize what a great team we are in raising our family.  I think it's important during these times to realize that it's okay to take a step back from other things in our life that might be a distraction from the things that are most important.  If we take a break from social media it doesn't mean we don't want to be social or care to know what's going on in other's lives.  It means we are focused on living our life priorities.  Remember, it's okay to take care of yourself first.  It's actually quite crucial.  

I turn 40 this month!  I'm excited and proud as I reach this milestone!

We will spend the week of my Birthday in the mountains of Vail, Colorado!  We follow my husbands Marriott reward points when traveling and Vail is a town we have yet to explore so it was an easy choice as a destination.

Then we will come home to a Birthday celebration that my husband has been planning in his head for the past year!  Without my help!  It took me awhile to be okay with this party being about me and me having to give up all party planning control.  I gave in because, number one, I'm a huge advocate of celebrating birthdays, and number two, it's just a great excuse to host a party!  My husband and I met while working in the hospitality industry, and he was the President of the Jr. Board of Chicago's Children's hospital where he pulled off planning fundraisers for thousands of people.  So I realize I need to give up all my controlling tendencies when it comes to the planning for my party.  He even themed the party "1978" - doesn't that sound like so much more fun than "40th"?  

I'm searching for something to wear.  He's told me there will be a band and a taco truck so I must wear something fun and festive.  I've decided nothing black.  That's too cliche of turning 40.  Here are some things I'm eyeing online but I hope to make it out shopping soon!  

Do you get a feeling that I really don't know what to wear?  I just love most styles of fashion.  And bonus I'm feeling a 70s vibe from all the styles out now.  I do know a Birthday should be something different from the ordinary.  

The other project I was given, besides finding something to wear, is to gather up photos since 1978.  Whew, this project was another sweet reminder of how important it is to document our days.

 I'm on the left and my sister is the one looking like she's ready to barf into Lake Michigan.

I'm on the left and my sister is the one looking like she's ready to barf into Lake Michigan.

 Oh how I wish I had a video clip from the day I was born.

Oh how I wish I had a video clip from the day I was born.

 Our first child's first Birthday!

Our first child's first Birthday!

 ahhh, the 80s!  I love my sister's hand on my knee.  She holds the role of first born in the most beautiful way!  

ahhh, the 80s!  I love my sister's hand on my knee.  She holds the role of first born in the most beautiful way!  

 Adventuring with my Grandmother. She holds the title of one of the most influential people in my life.  

Adventuring with my Grandmother. She holds the title of one of the most influential people in my life.  

 The Woodland family - I didn't know it at the time... but this was the fall our family became complete... at least the biological family in us.

The Woodland family - I didn't know it at the time... but this was the fall our family became complete... at least the biological family in us.

 Girlfriends of a lifetime!

Girlfriends of a lifetime!


I'm working on my minimalist spring garden this weekend and finished the final touches in our pool bathroom renovation.  I will share next week!

I've always said that wine cleans my mind and now there's proof!!!

What I'd give to be in this crowd!

And this is what I do to clear my mind in the beginning or middle of my day when I can't make it to my Barre class.

Do you shop at TJ max?  I'm a big fan!  A friend shared this with me and now I have plans to raid their pantry this week!

Here's the coolest thing I found on Amazon this week - I'm always looking for ways to avoid using plastic or foil - check out these bee's wraps.

Its kite flying season and we went to look for our trusty easy flyer without any luck.  After experimenting with other kites and realizing how great this one is my kids are impatiently waiting on our amazon delivery.

Your MUST READ!  How to teach our kids to speak up: "I say to my kids that we are a family of 'helpers' and that it is our duty to speak up and help others," 

This post contains affiliate links.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.  Learn more here.  


Long live the vacation

How this family makes their vacation slow down and last long after vacation - lovely matters blog by Heather Walker

Wouldn't it be wonderful if vacations could last a little longer?

Is it possible to take our happy memories from vacation to create happy memories that last long after vacation?

Yes and YES!

how to make a vacation and its memories last longer - lovely matters blog by Heather Walker

I believe less is more even when it comes to vacations.  I know it's tempting to try to fit in everything.  Especially when traveling to a city where it may be your only time visiting.  But sometimes, especially when traveling with children, this can come with the cost of feeling busy and stressed to hold a schedule.  If you have too much planned for one trip you won't have time for the unexpected adventures, the slow chats, and taking in the little surprises that come your way.

how to make a vacation and its memories last longer - lovely matters blog by Heather Walker

Take the time to have a meaningful conversation with locals, learn about their culture,  ask what their favorite places are.  Then take time to go to the local cafe that "local" recommended and sit sipping on coffee.  

how to make a vacation and its memories last longer - lovely matters blog by Heather Walker

Take in the setting sun at another part of the world. 

Live. In. The. Moment. Longer.

 (Mt. Haleakala)

(Mt. Haleakala)


Here's how our family of 6 does it:

With each vacation, we research the highlights that city has to offer.  Then we all take vote on what we each wish to do.  On our recent trip to Maui, Hubby and I chose the road to Hana, Mt. Haleakala, and some one-on-one time together.  The kids were most excited about zip-lining, attending a Luau, boogie boarding, and finding Hawaiian shaved ice.

how to make a vacation and its memories last longer - lovely matters blog by Heather Walker

As we've learned so many times in the past, our favorite moments aren't any of the events we plan out.  They are the in-between moments of just simple and slow living.  Taking time to stop and smell the eucalyptus, and time to and hear the magical story from my 6-year-old about how a volcano rock got in his pocket.  

how to make a vacation and its memories last longer - lovely matters blog by Heather Walker

Incorporating culture and beauty while spending quality time with one another is what we always look for in a vacation.  Hawaii is an easy place to find exactly that and much more by allowing plenty of time between the scheduled events.

how this family slows their vacation time down and continues the happiness after the vacation is over - lovely matters blog by Heather Walker
how to make a vacation and its memories last longer - lovely matters blog by Heather Walker

One of the best ways our family relives the happy memories from vacation is by watching videos from our vacations.  You can see our Hawaii video highlight here and learn tips on how I create these videos here.  

how this family slows their vacation down and continues the happiness long after the vacation is over - Lovely Matters blog by Heather Walker

Lovely links on love

Happy February!  I have Valentine's Day on my mind.  

Stay in or go out?  Even before children, I preferred the night in on Valentine's Day.  I will however, be using the Where to eat on Valentine's Day restaurants list for other date nights in Austin.  For my kids it's simply about heart shaped food and homemade valentines.  

Valentines day inspirations - lovely Matters blog - heather walker

I always write my husband a love letter with a printed photograph of us.  Check out these famous love letters to inspire you.  

I think making a book of photos from one's relationship would be so sweet.  My simple and quick go to for making books is Chatbooks and I talk about the reasons why here

Here a romantic music video by Ed Sheeran I'm crushing over.  

A friend gave me the book Love Lives Here and I can't get enough of hearing how this Mother raised her children on love and rituals.  She gives woman permission to be the best wives and mothers and not feel like they have to be more.  She encourages to do what you are passionate about, not what society thinks you should be passionate about.  YES!

Here's a collection of my favorite Valentine's Day ideas here.  I wrote on post its and left on my husband's mirror and in his car one year.  Thanks pinterest.

 His DIY Valentines box - 2016

His DIY Valentines box - 2016


Found this sweet gift that gives back - we look forward to giving to our daughter on valentines day.  I can't resist a company that has a story like this: The #loveisproject grew out of a simple desire to find out what love means to people around the world and how, despite our circumstance or history, love unites us all. Our “Pay It Forward” model extends this concept to empower artisan communities worldwide in an ethical supply chain of love.

Our boys will get long underwear for skiing.  This has always been our go-to base layer for skiing. I don't always get them gifts but when there's something they need I like to sneak it in as a gift.  I think it helps them appreciate that all they are given is a special gift - even the underwear.  

Look at this cute valentines shirt that I'll be wearing all year long.

I was humbled and shy to be interviewed on my friend Kristen's podcast series called Beyond Good Intentions.  Isn't that name lovely!  Just me, a normal gal, talking about family, happiness and all the messes life brings.  I'll tell you that I really didn't plan out what I wanted to talk about because I wanted it to be a natural conversation... Let's just say it fits with my motto, "not perfect, but real".  A public speaker I am not, but I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to do this and in the end, it made me feel strong and happy.  You can listen to the podcast here and find Kristen's inspiring blog here.  

lovely links on valentines day - lovely matters blog - heather walker

This post contains affiliate links.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.  Learn more here.  


Ingredients for a smoothie lifestyle

Smoothies 101 - the why and what of smoothie ingredients - lovely matters blog by Heather Walker

I don't think I've ever followed a smoothie recipe in my life.  I do a combination of what I like and what I know is good for me.  The "what I like" part is easy but the "what is good for me" is, and should be, in question constantly.  Therefore I'm constantly doing my researching.  I'm especially interested in researching real food and the power behind it.  In our home smoothies are consumed daily.  In the morning by most of my people, and often another in the afternoon.  It's a lifestyle that I didn't find until pregnant with my 2nd baby in 2008.  I call it a lifestyle because it was LIFE CHANGING!  As a stay at home mom I rarely make myself a salad or add greens to my breakfast or lunch.  Once I realized I could just dump all the "good for me stuff" in a smoothie and hide it with the sweetness of fruit or chocolate, I never looked back.  AND, this was quick, easy, and something I could consume on the run.

There's so many great recipes out there that can help if you are new to the smoothie lifestyle.  I encourage you to start with your favorite flavors for the base.  My favorite base is almond butter, cacao, banana, and almond milk.  My older two prefer mixed berries and yogurt/kefir as their base.  Then add in the high power minerals and nutrients (aka, superfoods).  With lots of research over the past 9 years, and many conversations with specialists in this field, here's a list of my favorite smoothie add ins.  My disclaimer is I'm obviously not the scientist conducting the nutrition research... and bottom line is most scientists don't have the funds to back up the appropriate research that is needed on many of these superfoods...  Therefore I practice moderation and variety after doing the research and reading all the warnings and disclaimers.  

Acai. I often hear this fruit being called the healthiest berry in the world.  Most things found in the Amazon rain forest are.  Its fruit has been called healing, immune-stimulating, energy-boosting. Research also reveals this antioxidant-rich berry to help suppress and repair oxidative damage.  How crazy awesome!  Yes, this one is a family staple at our home.  

Shelled Hemp Seed.  Yes, it's true, hemp seeds come from the same plant that produces marijuana, but they are cultivated and processed differently.  This is my go to superfood because of the many benefits.  It is almost tasteless (a soft nutty taste) so your children would never know you snuck this in their smoothie, or muffin or protein ball.  A recently study from Spain’s University of Seville found that hemp has an ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.  You can read why this is so important here.  In addition, hemp is a plant based protein.  With everything, even superfoods, I emphasize on the word "moderation" especially when reading the warnings of "contain trace amounts of THC".  

Goji Berries.  I once suffered from dry eye so bad that my eye lids were literally scratching my eye balls and eye specialists had no answers for me.  I saw a natural path Dr. and along with acupuncture she suggested I eat a handful of goji berries a day to help balance hormones after having my 2nd baby.  Dry Eye was gone in a week.  I still consume a small handful every day.  These amazing nutrients have been used for centuries in Asian cultures to strengthen eyesight, fight against viruses, balance hormones (worked like a charm during my 4th pregnancy), and even to assist with longevity.

Chia seed.  Unlike flax, chia seeds don’t need to be ground in order to enjoy their nutrients.  If you soak almonds you can add directly to that and they almost dissolve.  This is another superfood high in Omega 3s therefore I wouldn't necessarily use with the hemp.  Doesn't hurt to do so, I just like variety.

Spirulina.  I have another personal success story with this superfood and a homeopathic Dr who suggested this.  I don't eat much meat (mainly just because I prefer the taste of vegetables) and this is said to be a great addition to a vegetarians diet because the two main ingredients are protein and omega fatty acids.  You can read more about the amazing Spirulina benefits from Dr. Axe.  

Camu Camu.  This has one sour punch but the highest content of vitamin C found today so It's something I keep on hand.  I'm always cautiously curious about something being labeled as a "new superfood".  Camu camu is a good example of why one must research foods and portions before consuming.  The reported health benefits of Camu Camu are impressive but it also comes with many warnings given the extremely high concentration of vitamin C.  It's rare for me to give this to my children and when I do it's only a tiny pinch.  Still I keep it as an occasional superfood for my family when I feel we need an additional boost.  One tablespoon a week is the most I've heard recommended.  If you like reading the research you can read about the benefits and warnings here.  

Maca.  This superfood is known for balancing hormones and reversing hypothyroidism. It is an endocrine adaptogen, meaning that it does not contain any hormones, but rather it contains the nutrients necessary to support normal hormone production.  

Cacao.  Two words: Antioxidants and deliciousness!  The difference cacao and cocoa is cacao is raw and unprocessed.  When you hear studies on the benefits of chocolate, although still good for you, they are not often referring to cocoa.  

Greens (spinach, Kale, etc).  Enough said - you've heard the research.  I prefer frozen greens to keep my smoothies icy cold.  

Nuts (soaked almonds are my preference).  The list is long on the healthy benefits of Almonds.  Beyond the benefits, my reason for including them in most of my smoothies is because they fill me up until my next meal.  

Pumpkin seeds.  Just read this article and you'll be convinced.  

Carrots.  Make sure you are working with a good quality smoothie blender to puree the carrots well.  I use the Blendtec and I've never had chunky carrots in my smoothies.

Sweet Potato.  This is one ingredient your kids won't notice.  When I cook sweet potatoes for a meal I bake an entire bag to have left overs for smoothies.  It is a great way to thicken up a watery smoothy with a smooth texture.  There's a great deal of research on sweet potatoes and their health benefits ranging from heart health, immunity and cancer prevention - here's a great article from Live Science.

Avocado.  Not only will avocado make your smoothie perfectly creamy, but you will benefit from almost 20 vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds.

Tip: when you make a less than tasty smoothie, please do not toss it.  Smoothie ingredients can be expensive.  It's a great idea to experiment, but when doing so the outcome can go wrong.  Instead, I pour the mistake into an ice cube tray like this and next time I make a smoothie I toss in a cube or two - you won't taste the mistake in a new mixture.

I hope you are encouraged to experiment with some new ingredients.  I definitely don't use all these ingredients at once.  Variety and keeping things interesting is very important in a diet, so I like many options.  Smoothies are how I stay balanced, because I love a chocolate indulgent desserts and pizza nights!  I plan to share examples of my recipes but I felt it important to start with the fundamentals.  

This post contains affiliate links.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.  Learn more here.  


how to raise tech-positive family values

I don't claim to be an expert in this area, just a mom trying to figure out the balance of technology while raising our 4 children.  Over the years I've been opening the conversation with friends, observing those around me, and doing my research. 

I've read the facts over and over, stating that technology will either enhance one's life or distract one's life.  There's enough concerning research and statistics to know that this is a subject where we need to keep the conversation going.  Time recently did a study to show the correlation between smart phones and teen mental health

“What this generation is going through right now with technology is a giant experiment, and we don’t know what’s going to happen,” says Frances Jensen.  

There’s strong research linking isolation to depression, and time spent socializing with improved mood and well-being. "If smartphones are getting between an adolescent and her ability to engage in and enjoy face-to-face interaction—and some studies suggest that’s happening—that’s a big deal", Primack says.

Technology is obviously here to stay, therefore we need to embrace it with positive teaching.  Just like we teach our children table manners with baby steps as they grow.  This too needs baby steps.  We can hide and fear the direction technology is going or (here's where the good news comes in), we can mentor positive technology in our children's lives.

Here's how we keep technology use positive in our home:

1. We set a good example. 

Technology is not the problem - it's often parents who are the problem.  We must have parental awareness.  I've been a Mom for 11 years and I remember how easy it was when my first born was a baby to go to a park and meet new friends.  No one had their phones between them and the fundamental need for human socialization.  Now I go with my 4-year-old to the same parks and the phones feel as if they are used as a social shield so people don't need to talk to strangers.  After school activities are another example where I think the use of cell photos has changed social interactions.  We've all witnessed parents giving more attention to the social scenes on their phones than socializing with the ones sitting beside them.  I look around a restaurant and  know that I don't want to be that face in a phone when I'm next to real humans.  Don't let technology remove you from the face to face world.  

Set your phone in a different room if it's a distraction between you and your family.  Our family needs my attention the most between the dinner time and bedtime hours so my phone is put out of reach.   I always find that those in-between moments in life, when you are waiting for the next thing to happen, those are often the most teachable moments of your child's life.  Use wisely.

2. Moderation and balance

It is our job as parents to help our children navigate what is appropriate and positive media use.  We start the conversations explaining our concerns and our hopes with screen time.  The end goal is to teach them self-moderation.  I want them to have freedom at home after being in a strict and structured environment at school.  I want to empower them to make those choices.  This takes time... it's a continued conversation.  One that will change over the years with the growth of your child and the growth of the tech world.  Most of the time if they are asking for electronics its just because they are looking for something to do.  If I come up with a creative activity to do or a chance to spend time with family my children will always choose this first.  The first time they don't you bet I'll be concerned and asking myself "why not?".  

Find the positive and focus on that.  Our children understand the difference between time spent on an educational website or app vs. a violent video game.

3. Mentoring vs. monitoring

I keep it simple with only one social media app on my phone.  My daughter and I have Instagram as our chosen social media app.  Believe me, I contemplated holding off altogether, but when schools and teachers and other social outlets are using it I wanted instead to introduce it early to teach her how to use it in positive ways.  This is something we navigate sitting side by side.  Permission must be given before she posts anything.  So far, this has been a very effective way to learn social edict of technology.  Sometimes I'll help her refrase a comment and we have discussions over how social media can positively impact society.  This act of sitting down together has opened many doors to insightful conversations.

4. Rules

We involve our children in setting the rules.  We do this because so often kids want what they can't have.  And this is a way for them to learn the "why" rules need to be in place. It's not the minutes that count, but the material instead.  We have a no cell phone use during meals, at restaurants, or in their rooms.  All devices are plugged in at night in our electronic area. If they break any rule, all electronic privileges are lost for 24 hours.  Its rare for my kids to spend time on devices during school days just because there are so many other things they'd rather do.  If it was something they asked for on a rainy day I'd say "sure, how many minutes do you think would be reasonable?" And then I'd have them set the timer so they are learning self-moderation.  In the summertime, however we need more structure.  The kids came up with a list of tasks that need to be completed before electronics.  "Do something creative, play outside, write in your summer journal...".  The best part about this "task list" is most of the time their creativity takes over for hours and they never get around to the screen time.

5. Take interest in their interests

This one sounds so simple.  Yes, back to parental awareness.  If your child is into minecraft try to understand exactly what it is about Minecraft.  I did this and learned that it was more about the building and coding that my son enjoyed, not just playing video games.  So I purchased a few books about coding and since then he has turned to this in his free time instead.  Now my 9-year-old has read many books on coding, has programmed several of his own video games, and now imagines himself having a career in coding.

Let's keep this conversation going, with our kids, our friends, our teachers.  We have so much to learn from one another.  As always, I'd love to hear how your family is raising tech-positive children.  

How to raise tech positive children - Lovely Matters blog by Heather Walker

Hawaii memories on video

I make it a goal to put together a short video from every trip we take.  What inspires me most is watching how these videos help our children retain their memories.  Our children can recall moments on vacation as young as 3 years old.  I believe occasionally looking over photos and video is partial to thank for this.  

I often hear people say they want to wait until their children get older to travel so their children can remember the vacation.  I respect this, however, my husband and I have always done the exact opposite, for many reasons. 

First, the only guarantee we have in life is our current moment.  Of course, we need to plan and budget, but make those memories you've been dreaming of happening sooner than later.  Don't wait for the perfect time, because there's really no "perfect time".  

Second, My husband and I believe that these adventures live inside of us and make us who we are, from the very youngest age.  I've watched my 1 year old fall in love with the Colorado Mountains and I've watched my 2 year old fall in love with dolphins.  And through their eyes, I've fallen in love with each and every adventure we've taken.  

Third, it doesn't matter that they won't remember, we will never forget.  There's value in any trip.  Like the closeness it brings, and the little moments my husband and I share adoring our children, and each other.  

Document your adventure.  Then take the time to watch and relive your adventures.  I'll be sharing details soon for those of you curious about our Hawaii itinerary.  

The water and zip line video was shot with my gopro and the rest with my iphone.  

If you are interested in my other short vacation videos you can see some favorites here and here.  

This post contains affiliate links.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.  Learn more here.  


travel essentials

travel essentials.  Lovely Matters blog by Heather Walker

I make an effort to pack light traveling as a family of 6.  Isn't vacation a wonderful time to realize we really don't need that much? As long as we have the right tools for the job.

I'm always concerned I'm forgetting to pack the essentials.  This check list is perfect for someone who likes lists and since using it for our last few vacations it's simplified my packing.  Absolutely my favorite packing tool.  

I have been searching for the right travel backpack for a long time and I think I finally found it!  And it's super inexpensive.  Not all women's backpacks have side pockets to hold water bottles and this was essential for me.  It's light weight, lots of pockets, and my favorite part is it opens big with a doctor bag style zipper top.  

In my bag:

I sprayed this Pixi mist on my face at least a dozen times on the flight to Hawaii.

Origins Peace of Mind is a lovely peppermint relief.  It has cured a pressure headache in seconds and I never travel without it.  

Sweet and healthy Apple Chips, dark chocolate and gum

My Fab Fit Fun aloe infused fluffy socks and cozy poncho made for a comfortable flight.  The poncho worked as a blanket for a couple of us and an extra pillow.  I've officially used everything that came in this awesome subscription box!

A good book 

My camera and iphone

My favorite Young Living oils

This lip balm.  

This Malin & Goetz hand lotion was from a hotel and I'm now obsessing over the entire brand.  Full of natural ingredients, vitamins and fatty acids.  

My husband uses this travel pillow that takes up minimal space in his cary on.  And this is the best travel pillow we've ever experienced for our kids and it worked great for me also.  If your child falls asleep it gives you more control on head/chin placement.  

Yes, all that, and several of my kids things, fit in my new travel backpack!

This post contains affiliate links.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.  Learn more here.