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I hope everyone has a great July 4th weekend. I thought I’d kick things off with a giveaway and some beach packing tips.

One of the reasons I love living in San Diego is that we are so close to the ocean. July 4th is usually our first beach trip of the summer. I know things get really crowded there during the holiday weekend, but it’s become a tradition. We usually go in the late afternoon and stay through the fireworks.

We try to keep things light and simple for our beach trips: cooler, sunscreen, reading material, towels, umbrella, napkins, easy-to-eat snacks, and sunglasses. Here are a few of my beach packing tips:

1. Keep it light. With the beaches super crowded, parking can be hard to find and it’s not fun to lug a ton of things around. We have a cooler with wheels and we try to pack only the essentials.

2. Hydrate. It can be easy to develop heat stroke without even realizing it when you’re out during the summer. We’ve both had it before, so I’m always extra careful and make sure that we are constantly sipping water. I fill my cooler with bottles of water and coconut water.

3. Sunscreen and Shade. We have a beach umbrella so we’re not under the sun the entire time. I also pack sunscreen. I always make sure we apply it before we arrive the beach and then again after a few hours. I’ve recently began using the spray-on ones as it’s a lot easier and less messy to work with.

Dumpling Hut recently opened in the Convoy area. The restaurant makes all their own dumplings in-house.

I’m always on the search for good dumplings in San Diego and went in hoping for the best. Despite only being open a few weeks, the restaurant was completely packed. Luckily, we were able to snag one small open table.

Things didn’t get off to a good start. We were given menus but could not get anyone’s attention to take our order, even as we watched people arriving after us have their orders taken. There was no air conditioning and the restaurant was extremely warm and stuffy. After about 20 minutes of trying to get someone’s attention, we finally were able to place our order.

Pork and Napa Dumplings

The first to arrive were the boiled dumplings. The thick skins definitely tasted homemade. They had a good chew and thickness to them that I liked. The filling itself was okay, but nothing particularly special. Still, I found the dumplings skins here far better than any of the other ones in San Diego.

Tianjin Special Egg Pancake

This low carb version of a tuna melt sandwich makes a deliciously easy and colorful lunch.

I love colorful fresh fruits and vegetables. I’m definitely very influenced by colors and will eat more of certain things just because I like the color. Take these mini bell peppers. Green is good and all, but throw in yellow, red and orange into the mix and I can’t resist buying and eating them all.

I’m still impatiently waiting for the tomatoes in my garden to ripen. I bought about 8 different varieties, so I’m hoping for a beautiful selection. But just like that phrase “a watched pot never boils,” I think the same applies to tomatoes. Everyday I go and look at my tomatoes and they show no sign of progress.