Monday, July 24, 2017

Armchair Travels: Nantucket!

I'm sorry for the silence around here lately!

As it turns out, recovering from a 17-day vacation + fighting jet lag isn't for the faint of heart!

Summertime in Southern California means going to the beach as often as we can. And I love it!

My little family has taken up ocean fishing recently, and have gone out twice on San Clemente Pier to see what we can catch! Both times we've caught a variety of fish! Sand bass and mackerel to name a few!

With two little ones, I don't often get the chance to just lay out and relax on the beach. But when I do, I try and take a good book with me and totally veg out! This summer I've developed a small obsession with Elin Hilderbrand and her books. They're all set on the island of Nantucket, which I've never actually visited! I imagine it to be similar to nearby Balboa Island, but I'm trying to plan a little vacation there to explore since the landscapes she describes are so picturesque! Quaint beaches with lighthouses, and lots of farm to table restaurants have me swooning over how fabulous Nantucket must be in the summertime. Bonus: the main characters in Elin Hilderbrand's books are usually foodies, and she includes descriptions (and sometimes recipes) of the gorgeous meals they're usually eating on the deck of whatever Nantucket cottage is featured in the storytline.

If you're looking for a good beach read this summer, I definitely recommend one of hers! My favorites are below - if you click on the cover, it'll take you directly to Amazon!

If you find yourself enjoying Elin Hilderbrand, you may also like to read some books by Nancy Thayer this summer! Very similar in character development, and they also take place on the beautiful island of Nantucket! After reading so many of these, I can almost envision myself riding my bike through 'Sconset! Some of my Nancy Thayer favorites are below:

What are your favorite beach reads I need to add to my list? With over a month of summer left, I want to take full advantage of it!

Friday, July 14, 2017

An English Wedding, The Royal Family, and a Romanian Prince: Friday FAVORITES!

Forgive me in advance if this is a totally disjointed FRIDAY FAVORITES. We just returned home last night from 17 days in Europe, and are all a bit dazed and confused!

The last time I wrote, we were in Sighisoara, Romania. We absolutely loved Romania. I plan to dedicate a post to traveling there with kids, since it is definitely one of my top 5 places in the world now!

We were so astounded by the beauty, the kindness of the people, and how easy it was to get around there!

After my last post, we drove to Brasov to stay a few days in a little hotel on the Town Square. Brasov is a great point for exploring nearby Bran Castle (also known as Dracula's Castle). We headed out late in the morning and arrived to this beauty.

The area surrounding the castle feels like a little mountain resort in the Swiss Alps or something. So picturesque. Cooler temperatures and lots of restaurants offering cozy, traditional Romanian food.

We popped into the Castle's 100-year old tea house for lunch before trekking up to explore inside the castle.

While we were inside, we noticed a commotion outside. It turns out, Prince Dominic of Romania (who owns Bran Castle and spent several years of his childhood there), was having his birthday party in the garden! We went out after lunch, and his staff asked if we'd like to meet him! They were all so kind!

Our 7-year old grabbed a photo of my husband and I in front of the old 15th-century shoemaker's cottage in Sighisoara. It's rare that we get a pic of just the two of us, so this is a FAVORITE of mine this week as well!

(p.s. That black off the shoulder dress in the pic above has turned out to be my #1 favorite dress of the summer! And, it's from Old Navy and a major bargain! It washes up beautifully (I wash most Old Navy clothes on a cold delicate cycle and hang them to dry because otherwise I find they just don't last very long). Most importantly, with this off the shoulder craze, the dress stays in place! You're not constantly tugging on it or pulling it down)!

After spending 8 beautiful nights in Romania, it was time for us to head back to the airport in Bucharest and catch a flight to England! On our way, the sides of the roads were suddenly bright yellow with thousands and thousands of sunflowers blooming! It was gorgeous, and a beautiful goodbye to this new FAVORITE country of ours!

(p.s. That black dress above is another Old Navy bargain! Their jersey swing dresses are a staple for me to take on vacation. Last year when we went to Europe, I took 4! If you catch them on sale, they're typically $10-$15 each and so comfy! And don't let the word "jersey" scare you. It's not that clingy yucky type).

(p.p.s: those sunglasses in the photo above are my new summer FAVORITE from Nordstrom! Only $12! I have them in the tortoise/rose gold combo)!

We arrived in England to attend the wedding of a very dear family friend! I lived in England years ago! My first year of living there, I was a youth worker at a church and lived just down the road from the church in a cottage built in 1754. It was so quaint. The owners were strict vegans and the hot water as well as the home was heated by coal! Now, those are kind of random facts to share...But my 21-year old self didn't do very well in a cold, wet house with virtually no food in it. At this point in my life, I could happily be a vegetarian. But back then, I had no idea how to cook proper meals with dried legumes...and I was just so cold all the time. After a couple of months of being sick, a sweet sweet family of one of my youth group girls saw how much I was struggling and asked if I'd like to move in with them. It was life changing! They became my "English Family" and we had so much fun over the year! They treated me just like their own daughter, and I often think if it wasn't for them, I may have left England early and not gone back.

So, it was that little girl from my youth group (whose family I moved in with) that was now all grown up and getting married! A proper English country wedding! She got married at the church I used to work at, and it was a perfect day!!

The ceremony took place at 12:30pm and the party lasted until 2:30am!!! An English wedding is not for the faint of heart. Lawn games, Pimm's, a sit down dinner under a marquee, dancing, a bonfire...the fun went on and on!!! My little family lasted until 10pm before we had to return to the hotel. Definitely a FAVORITE from our trip!!!

(p.s. I got several compliments on my hat (it comes in several colors)! I don't think anyone could tell it was an $11 Amazon find!!)

After the wedding, we left our time in the countryside behind and traveled to London for our final few days of the trip. On the way we stopped to see Stonehenge and took the obligatory selfies! Stonehenge was a FAVORITE for our family!

We had lots of tea in London, which was a FAVORITE!

On our final night, we grabbed picnic food from my all time FAVORITE store in the city, and headed next door to Green Park. Our plan was to let the children run around and chase pigeons while we sipped on Claret and ate Stilton and potato pies. :-)

We did just that, and the weather was perfect that evening! At around 7:30pm, my hubs suggested we head back to the hotel and start to pack up since we were leaving the next day for LA. I said there is no way we're leaving before trekking through the park to Buckingham Palace! (It was his first time in London, so he had to see it!)

And, as we were arriving, so was the Royal Family! :-) The King of Spain drove through the gates just as we walked up, followed by Prince Charles and Camilla, Prince William and Princess Kate, Princess Anne (she's the one in the backseat of the car that looks just like her sister, the Queen!), and the PM Theresa May. This was a major FAVORITE for me this week, and a highlight of our vacation!

Finally, I leave you with some of my FAVORITE snapshots from our time in England!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Friday Favorites! Live from Transylvania, Romania!

This week I have quite a few favorites to share with you!

The first being, we're on our annual family vacation! We left LA on Tuesday, spent all day Wednesday in Vienna, and landed in Bucharest, Romania late Wednesday night. Today we're road-tripping to Transylvania where we will be spending the next week exploring little villages and gorgeous castles! I'll have lots to report back on when I return home to California! This is where we are staying, in an apartment in the old walled town of Sighisoara!

Once leaving Romania, we'll fly to England and spend a week. The highlight will be attending the wedding of my "British Sister" in the English countryside. (I lived with her family for a year back in 2000 - 2001, and they forever became my English family). This will certainly be a FAVORITE next week as well! I can't wait to share photos with you all!

Prior to leaving, I was wanting a comfy pair of sandals with a bit of flare! I found these Tory Burch Mini Miller flip flops at Nordstrom and immediately fell in love.
I'm a little bit of a Tory Birch junkie (only when I can find them on sale!), but I admit they aren't always comfy. I found these extremely comfortable, and unlike her ballet flats (where I often have to size up), these run true to size! A FAVORITE for sure!

Another thing I usually try and do before heading out on a trip is get a mani/pedi. However, this past year I began investing in Essie nail polish and this has been a game changer! I used to walk straight past the Essie display because honestly, who wants to pay $9 for nail polish? But I can say it is worth every penny. I never get my nails done anymore! I really love corals for summer, and have been wearing Peach Side Babe and Fondant of You on repeat!.

I also picked up Mod Square, which is a gorgeous bright pink I plan to wear for the wedding since it'll coordinate with my dress! Freshly painted nails are definitely a FAVORITE!

I picked up these navy and white striped Orsay sandals from Old Navy last week. I love the feminine lines, and the bargain price! I also can't quit the navy and white stripe. I'm obsessed. A FAVORITE for sure.

One last FAVORITE to share:

I mean, how can this gorgeous ring not be a favorite?! And, best of all, it was under $10!!! Whenever I travel, I've gotten into the habit of sticking my wedding ring in the safe deposit box, and getting a cheap travel wedding ring. I've purchased a couple from a company called Tenfit on Amazon, and been really pleased! Of course, you have to be careful not to get lotions and hairspray and things on it. But they are made from sterling silver, and surprisingly good quality! A FAVORITE for sure!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, wherever you are off wandering!

More to come from our adventures very soon...