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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Bechen

Lifestyle & Future Travel Goodies I'm Liking Lately

Updated: Jan 26

I thought it was time to share some things I've come across lately that made me smile. I'm feeling a little wordy today, so this will be a long post, but hopefully it's filled with useful resources, tips, and pretties that you might use yourself, and also enjoy! If you want to get yourself some tea or "calming" coffee" in your favorite cup, (here's my fave cup lately), I'll wait for you!


Let's do a little virtual wanderlust first, just for fun, since I don't think we should travel in person now unless it's unavoidable. But we can enjoy places virtually, (while we save up $ for our next in-person trip!), so here goes ...

  • Steve and I have always kept a binder and/or computer folders of future day trip possibilities and Pine Creek Canyon Lavender Farm in Arizona is high on our list of places we want to do as a day trip once we feel it's safer to travel. If you watch their short gorgeous video I think you'll see why!

  • Usually when Steve and I travel and explore we prefer charming cozy places and spaces vs. glitz and glam, but when we first moved to AZ in 2018 we enjoyed a lovely patio lunch at the glam and iconic Arizona Biltmore. So much AZ history! The Biltmore has just unveiled a 70 million dollar renovation that will be fun to check out in the future for a lunch on the patio. It was originally designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Lunch on the patio in nice resorts is a dreamy way to enjoy Arizona "travels" in a dollarwise way, and off-season here the resorts love locals and offer special discounts etc.

  • I read about Castle Hot Springs, AZ right after we moved here in 2018. What amazing history and a beautiful desert area set amidst gorgeous hot springs. Also, I love Castle Hot Springs' little farm too. You can even digitally detox in luxury if your wallet can spring $1500 per night to stay there, and don't worry, there's a place for your private helicopter also to park. (!) But nope, you can't just have lunch there like some resorts; you have to stay overnight, sorry. I won't be staying there either since $1500 a night isn't in my travel budget. :) But I wanted to share it with you as the photos are so beautiful of the desert surrounds and the resort really is amazingly beautiful and historic since it was founded in the late 1800s. Personally, I'd opt for one of their cute cottages with the mountain views, cozy cottage gal that I am!

Here's what The AZ Biltmore looked like in 2018 when we were there.

  • Love gardens? In the city?! Ever since we moved to the Phoenix, AZ area I have wanted to visit The Farm at South Mountain but we just haven't gotten there yet. What a place located in the heart of a huge city, right near the bustling Sky Harbor International Airport. Organic gardens, and beautiful places to eat sitting in nature. Peruse their website to watch their video, and I think you'll see why this is a special place. I strongly believe in eating organic real food grown in the ground and not "grown" in a chemical lab, so I like to support these kinds of places and I love their mantra to give back to their city and people too. I am so grateful and humbled that there are still those who love to do this farming work to feed all of us. Kudos! Date night? Doesn't Quiessence look like dreamy outdoor dining?! Here's a lovely video of the owners' vision behind the farm and of Quiessence restaurant. I'm gonna put this dining venue on our list for once Covid has passed.

A 55+ Active Adult Community of Patio Homes in Arizona
  • We had to leave our own sweet little cottage-style patio home recently for a week due to work being done in our housing community. We didn't want to travel/venture out right now, but we had to, so we did the best we could. With Covid, this prompted us to rent another little patio home in a 55+ community in the Valley of the Sun so that we would have privacy and assured social distancing. We personally were not comfortable staying in a hotel at this time. Blessedly, it worked for us to rent a cute little home-away-from-home, and it cost us less than a hotel which was a nice perk especially since it was a brand-new home with nice amenities like a full new kitchen, two bathrooms, and wifi. Bingo!

  • IMPORTANT: One downside of our cottage vaca rental and something to add to your own travel checklist to check on before your next trip, which I now know myself to do too: Who in the world puts high-off-the-floor-beds in a 55+ housing bedroom?! I mean, how many seniors can realistically do gymnastics just to get into bed? Not me since I don't dance, kick, and move like the Ziegfield Follies! So straining my back muscles to get into bed was not fun while on vaca and I could not get to the bathroom easily in the middle of the night either. I have written about low beds before and I'll say it again! Low beds are best unless you'd like to go to a chiropractor while on your vaca or while living in your own bedroom with a high bed some designer (or your spouse!?) thought was a cute decorative idea with those little wooden stairs to get up into bed. NO! It may be cute but it's not safe for anyone, and especially not for seniors! Our own home bedroom's low bed frame similar to this is much better. Ironically, a reader just wrote to me recently thanking me for writing about low bed frames awhile back as she bought one for herself too. You're welcome! I am glad to be the public service announcement of low beds! :) I sing it from the rooftops! Okay, I'm done with that rant now. For me, for you, and for a dog named um, Blue?! :)

  • BTW, if you're thinking of relocating to a warmer climate in your senior years, Arizona has LOTS of active adult communities that cater to seniors who move here full-time in retirement, or who live here part-time as senior snowbirds and then rent their unit as a vacation rental when they go back home. (Lots of Canadians and U.S. Midwesterners live in our housing community.) I'm no realtor, but from my own online research before we ever moved here ourselves, 55+ homes in AZ come in many price ranges and styles, from huge high-end expensive luxe mansions in resort-style surroundings to modest-but-nice new and resale patio and modular homes with nice landscaping and on-site activities. So if you're looking to relocate to a warm climate, (as in 120 degrees in the summer kind of warm!), Arizona is a nice place to live in my opinion, after three years of living here. (Albeit the last year and a half glued in the house!) Just Google "Active adult housing communities Arizona" or "55+ retirement communities Arizona" and you'll find many homes to choose from that might suit your own lifestyle and budget. Note: This area of the U.S. is growing fast.

  • Also, if you are a golfer, golf is big in AZ, and some AZ 55+ home communities are right on golf courses and some are not, and golf fees run from expensive to very reasonable according to my hubby Steve who is a golfer. (But has not been able to do that due to you know.) My sole contribution to that sport is to have lunch with Steve in the course restaurants -- I'm good at that, but for some reason, trying to hit a little white ball into an even smaller hole just doesn't appeal to me personally as fun. :) Great deals during off-season for both golf rates and restaurants. My favorite golf course lunches out so far in Arizona before Covid kept us all at home have been the Las Sendas patio, with views for miles of the beautiful desert valley as shown below, and The Boulders, with views of the golf course and interesting boulders like this beautiful video shows. Enjoy them virtually!

View of the desert floor from Las Sendas dining patio. I took this in 2019.
Our view at Las Sendas during lunch on the patio in 2019.
Our lunch at The Boulders in 2019.


  • Okay, enough travel and food dreaming and back to the practical. I weeded out all our travel supplies and gear before we left our home for a week recently. Declutter. Donate. Re-stock with something more workable was my motto! It's been awhile since we traveled overnight, so it felt good to weed things out and re-evaluate. I'm always looking for ways to travel lighter; it's been a lifelong quest. Decluttering our travel supplies also helped my anxiety about possibly encountering Covid during this little trip, as did LOTS of planning ahead.

  • I keep our travel items on hand in some labeled drawers on the other end of my clothes closet. Works great so you have everything you need in one central place in your home, and you have ready access with everything sorted by category in the drawers: packing cubes, hanging bags, luggage tags, washcloths & towels, etc.

  • Below are some new things I found on Amazon that made our travel to the rental house so much easier and more comfy! With quick Amazon Prime delivery right to our home's doorstep weeks before we left, we also avoided in-person shopping pre-trip which also saved us energy and time and not wanting to encounter Covid. I highly recommend this delivery m.o. to preserve your energy, especially during these times!

  • These nightgown/lounge dresses are the vaca ticket, my dears! (On sale now too.) I put a week's worth of them, with cardigan coverups, in my fave packing cubes, (by far!), so I could get dressed easily each day just by opening up one cube. The dirty outfit went back in the cube at the end of the day for laundry once we got home. Easy peasy. We didn't go out at all and just relaxed and worked on our computers in our rental home, but these could easily be worn for a dress and jacket with some cute sandals and jewelry if you wanted to go out for a nice dinner in normal times and feel dressed up. And you'd be comfy too. Can you tell I'm into all-things-comfy lately?!

  • These loungers were great after a nightly shower to watch TV since it was, after all, vacation time! Note: The solid colors are softer and lighter material. I bought some of each and found the florals gorgeous, but a tad itchy and heavier material. Not a deal breaker, but to actually lounge, I prefer the softer solid material personally.

  • These slippers are just the best! They tucked easily in my suitcase as they are lightweight but have great padding for tired feet. And oh my, now I see they have added many more colors, so you can have fun matching them to your nighties and loungers by color!

  • This Brita water pitcher is dandy for travel. I bought a white one for Steve and a red one for me to take along with us to keep our hydration up. (This IS a desert, my friends!)

  • These Systema mugs are great for soup and leftovers in the microwave. I took two along and they worked dandy for heating up our meals that we had cooked and frozen at home and then yes, we schlepped it all to the rental house. Ooops, correction: My dear husband Steve carried all the food in these bins. He's a trooper and didn't complain. xxoo! I cooked it all up before we left though as my part.

  • We also tucked a little first aid kit in our medical bag that we always take along which is filled with good DIY things we hope can keep us out of Urgent Care while on a trip. (Yes, I think of that; don't roll your eyes now!) :) We leave it packed all the time and then before we go we make sure nothing needs to be updated and re-stock accordingly. And I never travel anywhere without my beloved homeopathic kits/remedies. I have studied and used homeopathic medicines since 2003 and they have blessed my life so much. Steve uses, and likes, homeopathy too. Taking a kit along means we have the most-oft-used remedies right with us for travel situations.

  • These work great to create your own travel money cash and coin "ATM" machine for travel. Should you travel to a foreign country, they'd work great to sort currency from different countries. (Is that still how money is done overseas? Or is everything on a card or something now?! Obviously, I'd better stick to U.S. travel and dollars in cash! Or, get up with the times, but since I don't plan on traveling internationally anytime soon, or probably ever since my body would not do well with that, I'm fine, so don't you worry now about me getting lost in a foreign country without the right money.) :) I also use one of these little tidy pockets in my everyday tote bag for my mask, cough drops, eye drops, etc. Works great and doesn't take up much room and you don't have to dig in the bottom of a dark little zipper bag to find things.

  • This larger foldable pocket organizer worked great for all my manicure/pedi items too and I just left it all in there when I got home to keep a mani-pedi "kit" on hand in my bathroom closet so everything is all in one place.

  • It folds and Velcro holds it shut.

  • These soap boxes worked great to put four essential oils bottles in, and I also used them for cotton balls and Qtips. The little clasp makes them so easy to get open, especially if you have stiff/painful hands like I tend to.

  • If I can only fit in four essential oils in my suitcase, here's what I take and why I choose them below. There are many brands but I like Eden's Garden for the quality and price and we have used them for years. They have nice tutorials on their website/blog too.

  • Lavender for relaxation/sleep/burns. (It happens!)

  • Tea tree for if I cut my finger or some other body part and don't want to get infection. (You never know!)

  • Fighting Five because I'm a clean sanitation freak even when a pandemic is not lurking. (Enough said!)

  • Clove for a light toothache I sometimes get, plus as a mouthwash mixed with Fighting Five and swirled around in a cup of water and then I swish! (You want sweet breath on vaca too, right?!)

  • We used my fave hanging toiletry bag, (no longer in stock but here's a similar version that looks roomy), to create a "tech kit" before we left too. Steve's our tech guru so he did most of this, God love him! It stays packed now for the next trip, avoiding doing it again. (Remember when traveler times were simpler? Yes, I thought so.)

  • My best tip: As I mentioned earlier, I try to pack as light as possible, but I have also learned that it's easier for us to take our own tried-and-true items along rather than have to go out shopping and schlepping for a certain, (unscented, for example), thing-y in a strange neighborhood or city. No thank you.

  • These hanging bags roll up well, and for added security, we tied ours with a belt/sash from an old dress I had. Yes, I save all old belts/sashes in a drawer of our travel goods for luggage ties etc. because you always need one on a trip, for something. Not to mention I don't like to waste things I might be able to repurpose. But if you've been reading me very long, you already knew that. :)

  • Speaking of re-purposing, I married a die-hard re-purposer too! 41 years worth of re-purposing together, yes-sir-eeee! Steve saves "parts" of things to use for some good reason in the future. And it's a good thing Steve does save "parts" because he presented me with these dandy hooks he had saved from some shower caddies they came with. They worked SO great to hang my two toiletries bags in the little house we rented as it had a tiny tiny vanity. Lesson learned from past travels to tiny-vanity-bathrooms: take hanging toiletry bags! and now, yes, hooks!

  • IMPORTANT: You see those shiny silver handles on the cabinets above? That style handle is all the rage lately in homes. I see them everywhere. In the kitchen of the home where we stayed they had them horizontally on the drawers. And every time I'd walk by, my nightgown/lounger pocket would catch on them and I'd lurch forward and stumble, having to unhook the pocket. They are a danger to society in my opinion, along with high beds as I mentioned above. You're welcome. (And hopefully the manufacturers don't come after me for my strong opinion on this matter!) We had plans to replace our cabinet hardware in a year or so and we'll be buying something more like these so we don't catch our clothes on them and trip! Seniors especially, be safe!

  • That does it for my latest travel tips right now. If you'd like to read how Steve and I save money FOR and ON travel, go to the bottom of this page and sign up for my Resource Room to access those articles please. You'll find lots of other good tips and articles in there too that you can do on a dollarwise budget as well.


  • I read lots when on vacation for a week. It felt so good! A lifelong learner, I don't read fiction, but here are the non-fiction books I liked below. I read fast, and I read everything on my Kindle now and what a lightened-load when you travel vs. carrying a cute book bag filled with books like I used to do. I love my Kindle! I wasn't sure if this Boomer could make the switch but I never looked back and love it! It's several years old and still works great so I am in no hurry to buy a newer model. Similar.

  • Here's what I read on vaca, with my quick reviews ...

By the late Christian author and speaker who revolutionized DIY home organizing back in the day. A lovely soul.

As charming and fun to read as it sounds.

Daughter of Jewish and Catholic parents and a Lutheran minister herself, minimalism transformed her spiritual and physical life and so she shares her thoughts on the topic from the Jesus perspective. I loved this book.

Just what it says and very motivating and positive to see what God has in store for us. Trademark beloved Joyce Meyer humor and "just do it-ness!"

What it says from one of the most prolific contemporary Christian authors of our time.

I read this book in the 90s and I used to keep the paperback version on my nightstand until it got so tattered I donated it and bought the eBook version to read now. If you're a Boomer, you will remember many of the things she talks about from simpler times. They make me smile! Just a charming book and so nice to read during these hard times, especially since it is written in list format so you can have a cup of tea and read about five things at a time that will make you smile, but not take much time. Updated and revised.

I hope you enjoyed this long post! Please save it for future reference for products etc. and please read it in snippets as you have time.

Thank you for your email letters/notes; I read all of them and it makes me smile to know my tips and resources have helped you since you tell me so.

Keep the faith. Look for the good. Seek the beautiful. Stay orderly. And yes, I do this myself, striving for it every day!

"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." --Isaiah 46:4, the Bible, NIV

“I don't think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.” --Anne Frank, Holocaust victim

"Beauty will save the world." --Dostoevsky

"God is not a God of disorder but of peace." --1 Corinthians 14:33, The Bible, NIV

Kathryn :)


"Celebrating the art of simple, charming, dollarwise living"

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