Sunday, January 29, 2023

Big Sur, Monterey & Carmel

 

January began stressful. It was one of those seemingly never-ending months that just kept shooting darts at me left and right. Coincidence or not, on exactly the same day that Mercury dipped into Retrograde, it was like a switch flipped and each deep breath I took, each positive adjustment made inside my mind, was greeted with another blow. As if the universe was saying, 'Oh you can handle it, huh?....How about this, then!'
For New Year's, I wrote about how I wanted to re-adjust and re-align things in the new year. I am a firm believer that if you are feeling stuck, unhappy or just run down...then likely it's one of your most basic needs that is not being met. It's a call for adjustment. Looking back, this, and any other time in the past for that matter, was absolutely the case. My need for control on our businesses had me working too much in the wrong ways. I didn't have enough time for the things that were the MOST important to me. That often is a trend in my life...I'm working on it!
I tried to get this idea down into a plan and start action on it...but I've found in life, we are not as in control as we might think. It wasn't going to happen in the instant I wanted it to. The frustration mounted. I began to slowly and almost unnoticeably sink into one of those life ruts. No matter what I seemed to do, nothing wanted to go smoothly or in the direction I knew it needed to go. 

For Christmas, I had given Ty a trip away- just him and I. We had planned to go in March. With all of the circumstances and the bad mojo that filled the air in the beginning of 2023, it was clear that Ty (and by Ty, I mean me, lol) - that we needed to go NOW.  I have always been onboard with spur of the moment plans. I actually thrive on excitement of that nature and let's face it, as an adult, that doesn't happen nearly as often as it should. Or maybe that's just my opinion. 
...And so we did. We picked a last minute flight to someplace I've been wanting to go for awhile.  I hopped on the computer and picked a few resorts that I liked. I handed the computer to Ty and asked him to do the final selection of resorts and rooms to stay. He did a good job. 

The funniest thing...we almost didn't go because of the flooding that was blasting that area of CA. We were seeing horrible photos of mudslides and washed away roads. The week leading up was nothing but rain nonstop and I thought, well, why wouldn't that be the case this month! But when Mercury exited Retrograde on the 16th...the sun came back out in California and everything just lined right up for us, like the universe was finally on board with allowing me a bit of ease. I have never been one to believe in all that voodoo, but man...as I pay more attention to full moons and alignments of the universe, there is 100% an effect in some ways. 

Anyhow, our trip to Big Sur, Monterey and Carmel was short but magnificent! in more than one way. 
Oh did I fall in love with the Pacific Coast! I have had a handful of people in the past ask me if I'm from CA or tell me that I belong there. I was never really sure what that meant but after visiting...there was this part of my heart that said, "Wow, I'd love to live here".  Everything from the food, to the scenery, down to the subtle organic, textured decor resonated with me. The mountains combined with the ferocious waves crashing against the rocks, the giant redwoods and winding tiny roads along the coast all gave me such inspiration. 
So much so that I went home with photos that were exactly what I needed for our upcoming design meeting for our new house. I am very much the type of person that loves to take experiences and places that I love and recreate them in my home. The Pacific Coast is definitely some of the inspiration I didn't know I was looking for in designing our new home. In fact, the entire backside of our home already aligned with some similarities. It will be large windows overlooking the view, similar to all of the homes cliffside on the coast. I wanted lots of the same textures and feel that I found in our trip there. So yesterday, as I head out to a design meeting, I brought with me the photos I took. 

Although we didn't stay long, I thought I'd share what we did experience and our favorite places/things that we did. We flew into the tiniest little airport in Monterey. The first time that I've gotten out of the plane and onto the actual runway. We headed into the heart of Monterey and had lunch overlooking the ocean and seals at Schooners.  Great food and the view is perfect! Exactly what my soul needed just off that plane. When they say watching nature or  gazing at the ocean has a calming effect, they ain't kidding

Our first stay was at Sanctuary Beach Resort, not far north from Monterey.  Our suite opened up to the ocean front and for the price...I don't think you can get a better view. We got the "Oceanfront Panoramic Suite". Fireplace and sitting area, cozy room overlooking the majestic ocean, and fruit with wine upon arrival- all details of the stay. Listening to the waves all night was heaven.  In the evenings, they had bonfires right on the ocean and we spent most of our time there, just taking in the salty air and gorgeous sunset. We did dip in the hot tub and ate at the restaurant on site. But here, it was truly all about the ocean views. We ended our night cuddled up in the room w/ fireplace roaring and ocean setting the mood for a romantic and relaxing night. 

We got some rest before getting up at the crack of dawn. We were up at about 5am every morning from jetlag. This entire area stays pretty quiet until about 9-10 am so we only had a few choices that early in the am. Before starting our day, we went back into Monterey to grab breakfast. We found the sweetest little breakfast place called, Wave Street Cafe, which was located right on Cannery Row in Monterey. Of course it sat overlooking the ocean but it was particularly chilly that morning and so we opted to sit inside. Typically it's 60-70 year round there but we got chilly mornings and evenings. You could tell that the business was family owned and run. Service and food, was delicious! Even the basic breakfast items were better than your average breakfast place.  After filling our stomachs with good food, we headed out to travel down route 1.

  Big Sur. How you captured my heart! Just listening to good music, breathing in the ever-so-clean air and looking cliffside as we drove along the beautiful Pacific Coastline.  There were so many stops along this drive. I believe you can walk most of the coast as well. We opted to stop, walk and then drive more so we could make it in time for lunch reservations. We stopped and bought some fun gifts at Nepenthe gift shop. They also serve food and the view is pretty amazing there! We had already made reservations for Sierra Mar at The Post Ranch Inn, so that was our destination. This is a deposit reservation restaurant, but for good reason. It was absolutely worth the cost and the view...unreal. You are basically sitting cliffside, over the water. I purchased a couple things from their shop there, including a coffee table book to add to my collection at home. Mostly for inspo but it doubled as a decorative piece. 

We stopped at the infamous Bixby Bridge on the way back. She was magnificent and everything I thought she would be! We took some time to take her in of course. I'm such a music lover so I like to turn on some good music when I'm exploring. Then, whenever I hear those songs, I think of that day I was here or there. It becomes embedded in my memory. 

From there we headed to Carmel Valley, which is where our second stay was located. Bernardus Lodge & Spa to be exact. This ranch estate was anything but what you would think of when the name "lodge" comes to mind.  Fireplace, 2 person soaking tubs, spa, an amazing restaurant and old world sophistication was packed into these suites and grounds on 28 acres of vineyards in Carmel Valley. I thought it was perfect. We spent the night eating well and listening to the "piano man".  Later we dipped into the adults only infinity hot tub. I wished we had been here long enough to do this during the day as I was told by the San Fran couple that we met by the fire pit one night, that the view was beautiful during the day! We didn't get to see much view at night. The second night stay there we took advantage of the 2-person tub in our room. IMO, the bathroom was almost better than the hot tub/pool. We had heated floors, the most romantic soaking tub and lighting....and did I mention they gave us a plethora of drinks and foods upon arrival? We stayed in the Luxury Santa Lucia suite. 

Truth be told, there were 40 different restaurants that I wanted to try but you can only eat so much in a few days haha. We ate as much as we could ;)  One places that really resonated with me, was one in Carmel By the Sea...which is where we went on our last day. This place was quaint and all of the little "Hobbit-style" buildings were charming. I've been told that Monterey is more for families and Carmel is more for romance and couples but I could see our family loving BOTH areas. We had breakfast at Katy's Place which had a small-town feel to it. Labeled mugs, Cash Only signs and tables that all sat close together were what you got here. You could tell it was family-owned and run as well. That was one thing I loved about this entire area, was all of the privately owned businesses. None of that 'franchises everywhere' that we get here in SA. The food was good! As was ALL the food while we were here.  La Bicyclette was where we grabbed lunch. A small European cuisine restaurant with all the small European details that pulled at my heart-strings. The detailed and meaningful note that they gave to us from the owners....so thoughtful! That, my friends is what small businesses are all about. I took a photo of this, as it called to me. The intent and the attention to detail was impeccabile. Not to mention, the best cheese board pearing I've ever had! And I mean that. Pizza alone, was scrumptious. 

We did some wine tastings and visited shop after shop. Hitting up some of the best boutiques and shops. I was taken right away by Hudson, the shop Goldendoodle of that greeted us out of the 1/2 door shop of Eco Carmel. The owner, was there and greeted us. We exchanged stories on our doodles and she gave us detail on all of the fun but eco-friendly items in her store. We ended up leaving with some amazing cooking salts from Big Sur Salts. To which we have already used.  We picked up some trinkets and goodies for the kids and continued exploring Carmel By the Sea. We ventured into small little halls that looked like they went nowhere but opened up into wine tasting rooms, book stores or coffee shops. It really is a cool place to explore.
The beach there was equally as beautiful! We made sure to walk down and sit awhile. We watched people playing volleyball at the seaside volleyball course. Some surfers were attempting the giant waves. We sat in the sand observing the details and the locals. We spent a good chunk of the day there before returning back to Bernardus. On the way back we stopped at Folktale Winery where I fell in love with some wine glasses from Monterey Glass Works and got some shipped home. I have come to love making our home meaningful with pieces that we collect from various places. It feels more like a home with things in it that have meaning and not just decorative purpose.  
Back at the resort, we grabbed some drinks and sat by the fire pit for awhile where we met a couple from San Fran that we talked to for quite some time before we realized we were late for dinner reservations! We ended our night with salmon, filet and wine at Lucia, farm to table exquisite restaurant. I didn't want to leave. I wanted to spend another week there so that I could extract every ounce of adventure and beauty from that coastline. But the trip did it's job. We came home refreshed and renewed. I think it's safe to say I'll be back. 









Monday, January 23, 2023

Christmas 2022 w/ Family

 Family came in the week before Christmas. Thank God because they were all flying Southwest and we all know how that went this week. Yikes! We started doing Christmas a week early because it was cheaper for travel for everyone and then we get to stay home on actual Christmas with the kids. Years prior we travel for Christmas and the kids disliked being away from home for actual Christmas. Plus, I truly LOVE being home on Christmas. Watching the kiddos come downstairs in the morning with wide-eyes! Watching Christmas movies while Ty cooks his traditional biscuits and gravy. Sipping coffee and just relishing in joy. This year in SA we got COLD WEATHER!! Like 17 degrees kinda cold! It really made it feel a lot more like Christmas. My dad sadly couldn't make it from MA since he wasn't' feeling well. But the rest of the gang made it! 

I planned a fun filled week for family in Texas this year! We impatiently waited for them all to arrive. When we they pulled up, I felt like yelling, "Folks! Folks! Merry Christmas"! in my best Clark Griswold voice. LOL..... Once they got here, it was non-stop all week long! We did IT ALL. My sister brought supplies to make vintage Christmas ornaments. That was a blast and even my brother in law, Sean, got REALLY into the festive spirit while making his. Haha. We went Christmas caroling down the San Antonio Riverwalk in a caroling boat!! How cool is that!? They gave us hot toddies and hot cocoa as we sang to music under the holiday lights all along the river. Definitely a highlight of the trip! We made gingerbread houses and Christmas cookies- all of our favorites!  Played games and made all the festive drinks! Of course we watched a few movies, too. We did our annual Christmas "Eve" party and had so much food that we ate it for days afterwards! We went to Gruene to do some shop hunting and take in some music and old town vibes. We also went into Boerne on the weekend to their Holiday Market. We watched Scarlett at horse lessons and then did brunch at Dienger Trading Co. Before leaving Boerne, we stopped and saw Santa!! Vera was NOT impressed. Ha ha. We did an adults night out to the Rustic to hear live music. Another day, we did some Christmas shopping with just the girls. Grabbed lunch together before heading home to the boys knee deep in whiskey. Those simple moments were just as good as the bigger activities. Since we moved to Texas, it's been a big transition to get use to not knowing anyone- not having family close. In New York, we somehow recruited family to all come move there too, so it was not lonely. Plus, Ty's father lived there. For some reason I made friends easier and we knew a lot more people. Here....5 years into living here, I still miss just having a family member close to call up and ask to come over to watch a movie or maybe do something with. We don't know too many people. It was truly enjoyable to simply just have them, here. 

Once they left, I got the blues a bit. I mean, don't get me wrong, it was a houseful! Ha! Some days I felt like the McAllister house....But I still loved it even with all of the chaos. And then I got sick for Christmas. Merry Christmas!! 

ALL of the kids got sick right before family coming. Maxwell and Vera were on the tale end of their sickness when family arrived. I was thankful for that because they were pretty sick for a day or two there before family came. Then, of course I got whatever Vera had. Which I knew would happen when she sneezed in my face one day lol....Thankfully I didn't get sick until close to when family was leaving. By Christmas I felt better so I was able to fully enjoy the day. 

Now I'm sitting here in my house with my kids making all the messes with all the new toys that Santa swore he wouldn't bring...;) I'm sadly putting away my santa mugs while I play a sad Hallmark movie in the background. Getting the bins together to take down the 7 trees in my house.  I'm sure Ty can't wait to help me with that. There is nothing more depressing than Dec 27th. All the joy that comes with Christmas seems to slip away. I do look forward to a fresh clean house and this New Year, I have a much different outlook than past years. I'll write more on that later this week. For now.... I'll leave you with all of my memories from Christmas this year.