California Hot Spots that Valeria Must See – 2018 – Laguna Beach Edition

Hello all,

Here we are on the second installment of ‘California Hot Spots that Valeria Must See’– 2018 .  This is the Laguna Beach Edition.  It sounds so formal, but we all know I am so far from formal.

During this part of our trip we will be spending 2 nights in Laguna Beach, one of which is my husband’s birthday.  What I’d ideally like to do is to make this as much of a beach visit than anything.  Especially after running around in LA for a few days.  Plus, I need to work on a tan because by August I will probably be a smooth cool tint of white linen.  (Yup, I may be the only Sicilian woman who never tans!)

img_2650Laguna Beach is a seven mile stretch of beach between LA and San Diego, and is a huge hot spot for vacationers. Which means there are a ton of things to see and do (and eat) with lots of people around, but what do we go see and do!?  When you look at a map of Laguna, the beaches all collide into one another and look simple enough to walk to but I just uploaded the Laguna Beach app and now I am not so sure.  hahah.  But we will give it a whirl!!

The app is actually really good; it is the Visit Laguna Beach app. You can search hotels, restaurants, shops, as well as find the current weather, maps, surf and tide reports, parking information and an events calendar.  And real estate, for those of us who plan to not come back home.  (I know, my good friends keep hearing me joking about this, though I have never been to So Cal my gut tells me I will not want to come home. haha)

So far, we booked the Pacific Edge hotel, which is on the south end of the beach.  We reserved a room in the reef tower (facing the ocean!!), which looks like a dream. The amenities, and the area of the hotel, look pretty great, and we read that the waves can be heard in every room all day.. which turns me on. Haha. Falling asleep to the ocean is just what I want, folks.

Here is a list of places we discussed seeing in Laguna.  So many of you guys commented and messaged me on FB with recommendations for LA (and San Diego!), I hope to hear some for Laguna Beach, too!

 

California Hot Spots that Valeria Must See

Laguna Beach Edition

 

Art Colony/Walk the TownAs I am learning, the art scene in Laguna is its primary draw, and well, it sort of reminds me of my favorite local beach art colony here in Gloucester at Rocky Neck.  And while we are at it we will take a stroll through the town to check out their shops, local restaurants and stuff.

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Heisler Park- When I looked up this place my chin literally dropped. The views are tremendous, and it looks like a perfect place to take a sunset walk.  It is an oceanfront park set up along the cliffs with walking trails, gardens, and a marine refuge with tide pools.

 

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Crystal Cove Beach Tide Pools– Researching Laguna is fun, tide pools around seem to be a running theme, and Crystal Cove is supposed to have the best ones.  Feel like we would really enjoy trekking around on some rocks checking out the oceanic wildlife in the pools.

 

Royal Hawaiian Tiki Bar–  The Royal Hawaiian is a tropical bar with super fun looking tiki cocktails, good menu, and we love that type of atmosphere, so I figured we would take a closer look.  It is a street over from Heisler Park, where I figure would be a great location to take a night stroll along the water.

 

Thousand StepsI keep coming across this as a must see place, and watched so many youtube videos on how to get there, because there is a catch!  First, this beach is gorgeous, and is the largest in Laguna. Second, there is a large cave at the south end of the beach that can be entered when the tide is out, and basically only then, because then the entrance is exposed but you have to make it back before high tide, or well, you are SOOL.

img_2668Laguna Trolley– Laguna Beach offers a free trolley service, and I love trolleys, so I HAVE TO RIDE ONE!  They actually may come in more handy than I am joking about, because they have two lines of service that hit near or on most of the spots we are looking to go. Also, that app I mentioned earlier, they have a trolley tracker in it so you can see where the trolleys are going.

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Driftwood Kitchen– This restaurant is set up along the water, and the views look amazing.  So does the food.  It gets really great reviews, and the photos I have been seeing online are surreal.  

 

Pirate Tower/Victoria Beach– Happened upon this blog while researching Pirate Tower. Gah, it’s just amazing.  The photographer takes us on a trip to find Pirate Tower on Victoria Beach…and it’s just dreamy.  Thinking my family would love to take a trip over to see the tower, and maybe just explore the beach, I know I would!   

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Let me know if you have any recommendations for Laguna.

Next up… La Jolla/San Diego!!!

xoxo

2017 Recap in photos

Hey Everyone

🍾 Happy New Year!

Hope you all had a great New Year’s Eve celebrating with all your loved ones and that you are all prosperous for a happy, healthy 2018! xoxox

For my first post of 2018, I thought to review 2017 with a year-end recap like I used to do, and because right now I am rushing to get my whole family dressed to go to my parents for our first dinner of 2018 together it is an easier option than typing out a recap  haha.

Eating the first dinner of the year together is a tradition. Lots of traditions in this family, but my favorite is eating lentils together on January 1. I am Italian, so of course, if you are also Italian, you know that this is a big tradition as we believe lentils bring luck.

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January 1, 2017- We had the first dinner at our house

That is the first photo of the recap, so let me keep going.  I chose the photos for this recap, but am having WordPress put them in random sizes and order because that is how I roll. Ok so here we gooooOOOOoooo!

Photo Recap of 2017

Came out super cute!!  Great job WordPress!

So I gotta go eat some lentils!

TTYL!

Enjoy!

xoxoxo

Mother’s Day 2014

Hey Everyone!

I had read this poem yesterday and thought it was a great Mother’s Day share:

Thank You Mom …For Everything
How did you find the energy, Mom

To do all the things you did,
To be teacher, nurse and counselor
To me, when I was a kid.
How did you do it all, Mom,
Be a chauffeur, cook and friend,
Yet find time to be a playmate,
I just can’t comprehend. I see now it was love, Mom
That made you come whenever I’d call,
Your inexhaustible love, Mom
And I thank you for it all.

(ladan)

This poem is sweet, simple, and says almost all. Even now at 37, where I am a Mother of two of my own, my Mother is still the driving force of love helping me, supporting me and showing me how much a Mother and Grandmother can do. She is really a SuperMom.  I love you Mammi! ❤

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Well. Hope all my beautiful Mommy family and friends had an amazing day with their families!

I certainly did! Here in Boston we had gorgeous weather; a sunny 85 degrees! Ahhh fiinnnaaaalllllllyyy!  Real weather!  I have missed this weather a tremendous amount. I woke up to the sunshine streaming through my windows and to the beaming smiles of our two cute girls peaking through the doors cause they could not wait for me to wake up to open all their homemade gifts. So. Immediately, I sat up to bombardments of their cheer, cards and presents. It was so overwhelmingly sweet. I love their excitement!

And the best part was it was past 9AM!  Hallellllujiah!

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They made me the most amazing cards and papers from school.  This was the very first year for our youngest to have her Kindergarten projects included, and she was so proud..as was I.  Great job, lovely! Everything was so sweet, and I received so many beautiful presents. But, I loved the Starbuck’s cup card my husband made me the most. Too cute and so me, and the words were beautiful.

Right after the gifts we got dolled up for a beautiful Mother’s Day lunch at one of my fave restaurant spots in Salem, MA… 62 Restaurant.  If you have not been you gotta get going! They have a modern take on traditional Italian food, and my lordy lord, they do it right.  Their drinks are amazing (love the 62 Pick Up) and their food is out of this world rich and gorgeous (their Bolognese sauce is gluttonizingly good).  They are in the heart of Pickering Wharf, which is a great location to take a walk afterward on sunny days or warm nights. We have been a handful of times without our kids on date nights, but with the girls it was still a lot of fun yesterday.  Our girls don’t have many food aversions or are picky, so taking them anywhere is a good time really. THANK GOD!  My oldest daughter was all about the food yesterday, which made me laugh.  I think I am cultivating an 8year old foodie!

The restaurant was all a buzz for Mother’s Day. There were families celebrating their Mothers young and old,  and it was a great time.   The restaurant had a fixed price menu for the day,  3 courses for $38, which was great. Except they didn’t offer the one app I love to death..the chick pea fritter with date compote (drool amazing).  But it is just an excuse to head back again soon!  We had a great meal -salad nicoise, tuna crudo, tagliatelle alla Bolognese, skirt steak with asparagus, and goat cheese agnolotti with beets then amazing desserts.  I was full all day and uhm slightly buzzed, too!!

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Drinks in order: 62 Pick Up, Dark&Stormy (with ginger beer…ayayay so yummy!) and a St Germaine.  Delicious.

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Though we had an amazing meal, all I took for food pics was the dessert cause I was so into eating I guess.  haha Here is a chocolate cake and two chocolate puddings with the most insane caramel sauce. 

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OK, OK, I do not want to hear a thing about my choice of hair style yesterday!  I didn’t have time to dry my hair and figured to start on my new fashion statement for the Summer..head scarves.  Which I am not sure I love quite yet!  😛  I am not sure I like being refered to as a hippy or a pirate, so I am still working this out.

Following this great afternoon pigging out, we took a walk around Salem’s Pickering Wharf soaking up the sunshine. There were sooooo many people out enjoying the day there, too. It was just a perfect way to spend my day with my loves along the water walking hand in hand.
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It was a perfect day, and I felt so loved by my family.  They know how to make me feel great.  Everyone behaved (hah the girls), and I got to enjoy some time doing nothing but enjoying their company in the sun.

We ended it with a couple of hours with my mom and sister. Where we had some of my guacamole, cupcakes, wine, exchanged gifts, laughed..and then they JUMPED ROPE!  Yes, my Mom and Sister jumped rope with the kids for a long time.  Even my husband got into the mix double-dutching. I shit you not. It was awesome to be together laughing and hope they know how much I value them in my life everyday, not just Mother’s Day or birthdays. 🙂 

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One of the many gifts my Mom gave to me, she made me this awesome vase of succulents.

 

I felt great all day, but most of all, lucky.  To have such a thoughtful and loving husband who is capable of doing everything every day with me for our children and each other. Lucky that he can plan a special day for me and it makes me feel great.  Thank you for all that you planned and expressed to me today, love, and thank you for making me feel like a real special Mother and Wife. 🙂

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Weighing in! #5 and Mother’s Day Weekend

Hope all the Mommies out there had a great day, and, weekend!! xoxo

I weighed in this morning before work, and I am pleased. Even if it’s not a big loss. I am down a half pound. I’m taking this as a great win after the weekend I’ve had!

What a great weekend I had! Started on Friday night. My husband surprised me with my Mother’s Day gift on the early a week ago. He got the tickets I hinted to for The Airborne Toxic Event at The House of Blues..which was for this past Friday night. I was so psyched, shocked… and psyched. I love TATE, and was hoping he got my hints.

Before the show, we went to eat at the Eastern Standard Kitchen on a whim; my favorite Kenmore restaurant. They make the most amazing drinks; vintage drinks are their speciality. One drink I like, more than any other on the planet, is an Old Cuban from there. It is an amazing drink. Minty. Rummy. Sparkly ..just the all around goodness you dream of. We treated ourselves to a round or four, and had a fantastic dinner. Ate and drank with reckless abandon. Then we walked over to Lansdowne to La Verdad for some sangria, beers and more silliness. First time there, and it was, uhm, interesting. Decor was sorta blech and dark; the bartender was strange; and the sangria wasn’t all that great. But! I was already happy off the Old Cubans, sat and drank it anyway. There was an awesome fight in the lady’s room though, so there was that.

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Out on Lansdowne before hitting La Verdad.

Going to a rock show stuffed and happy on rum…is highly recommended. Seriously, a good time. This was my first time seeing The Airborne Toxic Event live. I had a blast; they sounded amazing, and put on a great show. Their talent is incredible. Literally, danced and sang the entire time. And then some on the walk to the car, too. I will definitely try to catch them when they come back to Boston again! Best memory, though it is sort of the worst, was when we got to the car after the show, and the battery was dead. Dead. Someone, ahem, my husband, left the lights on and it drained the battery. Thankfully, and luckily, a couple was parked in front of us that also were at the show. They happened to be walking to their car when we realized the car was dead. They helped jump the car and I am grateful to them. It must have been weird for them to get asked though. Cause there I was, sitting in the dark of the front seat of the car with the door open. I’m all melted and ‘fright night’ looking from being at a concert.  My 6’3″ husband is in the back trying to get the jumper cables out of the trunk from the back seats; cause as we found out quickly the trunk doesn’t open without the battery for some reason. It looked like we were waiting to scam someone. So, I am serious when I say I was grateful to them for helping, cause I am not so sure I’d of stopped if it were vice versa! ha!

A note of advice: Always carry jumper cables in your vehicle. And learn to jump a damn car. We both carry a set in our cars, and my husband taught me how to jump a battery when we got married..but the man who helped us..well, we taught him how to do it. hah. Funny memory after a greaat night.

Saturday was a fun day. The girls and I hung out in bed for most of the morning. Just chilling, watching TV and my favorite thing.. zerbiting. I love hearing them laugh, especially my youngest daughter. She is such a little cherub, and her laugh is intoxicating. I crack up laughing like a kid. Then, late afternoon, they had stage dress rehearsals for their big dance recital next Saturday. Unfortunately, the timing for my youngest daughter to be on stage was wrong, and she missed the opportunity. Luckily, she wasn’t terribly upset, and she was happy to watch her sister on stage …while running and jumping around the auditorium with her other ballerina friends, of course. Oh, to be a five-year old without a care in the world.

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My oldest waiting for rehearsals.

Watching my oldest daughter on stage always makes me teary eyed though. I think how much she is growing into a little lady. When she first started dance, she was only 3 years old. To see her growing with confidence each year with dance, and to see her knowledge of dance, gives me a slight sadness and happiness mixed into one feeling. It’s tough to see how much she is really growing. Too fast! Right after their rehearsals, we met up with my husband for a dinner out. We let the girls decide where to go, cause the one place we wanted to eat was jammed with a two-hour wait. Which brings me to Saugus again this weekend. OYE! My girls are infatuated with the Kowloon on Rte 1. I am not sure if it’s cause they actually like their Chinese food, or, if they like the kitsch of the place, or, people watching, or throwing money into the fountains. Or to irk me. But they have kick ass scorpion bowls, that I can’t ever, and won’t ever, say no to. So, no complaints here!

Sunday was finally Mother’s Day! YEA!! I had a real great day. Relaxing and fun.  My children and husband made the whole weekend a lot of fun. I felt so loved and appreciated by the time Sunday came around. (And I can not thank you guys enough. I love you!)

I love how excited my girls are for this day every year. We did a countdown all month. I remember being like this as a child with my own Mother, too. Makes me smile so much to live through them every day. They are such an extension of everything wonderful in my life and this world.

And. They let me sleep in till 9AM..yerz, which is awesome and I’ll take that any time.

They woke me up with so many handmade cards, lots of smiles and hugs of joy, and just all around wonderful cheer. It felt so great. My oldest daughter was so proud of her presents. And for good reason, too. They were amazing. She made special wrapping paper , which she drew my face on. Then she wrapped a small bottle of perfume by herself with it. She made a great card, with the most sentimental and heartfelt words. Then she gave me a paper where she created three different puzzles, that I had to fill in at that second. I was so impressed with her puzzle skills. Then a fun drawing she made at school. So awesome.

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All the wonderful gifts from my big girl.

My youngest daughter gave me a peanut butter cup the size of a dinner plate, which she kept asking to eat some of. hah NNNooo. She was so excited to show me the soap she made for me at school, too, and all the cards and special messages. She is following in her big sister’s shoes in the creativity department. Then my husband surprised me with a handmade card of his own, which is where the girls get it from, and then i got a gift box with my perfume and body lotion, then a gorgeous arrangement of flowers and a specially delivered latte. 🙂  It was a great morning!

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My youngest’s gifts to me.

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The front of the card from my husband. He always makes me the most special cards. Love them.

After all the gifts, it was time to get going to one of my favorite restaurants, The Gaslight Brassiere du Coin in the South End. If I could live next to this restaurant feeding off the fumes, I certainly would. I’d be a thousand pounds, after eating three meals a day every day, but I wouldn’t care. I’d be fat and happy…and prob die of heart disease at a young age. I never was a French food eating type of person before going to this restaurant a few years ago..now I am a fiend. Can’t get enough. My girls either. Saturday night, their first choice was the Gaslight, not the Kowloon!! The brunch menu at the Gaslight is always great.  Also, they make amazing drinks.  My favorite being the Madame Lillet.

Right after a fun, delicious and lovely family brunch, we headed to my in-laws to wish her a happy day. Then after about an hour there, we headed to my older sisters’ house down the street to spend the rest of the day with her family and my parents. We chilled out on her sunny patio enjoying sangria, mimosas, and, conversation. The kids played and had a great time. We exchanged gifts. I got so many wonderful things from my Mom and sister; and I appreciate everything. It was a wonderful afternoon spent together, and my children were in heaven at their Zia’s house. My youngest daughter is obsessed with my sister and niece/nephew, that all she seeks to do is go over to play, even when they’re not home.  We got home at 8:30PM, put the girls to bed then chilled out catching up on emails and some TV. I didn’t catch Mad Men last night, which is why I’ve been avoiding FB, and since tonight’s after work plans are not happening, we definitely are going to catch it. Actually..right now!!  Looking forward to it, too!

So, now that you have read about my weekend of eating and drinking, isn’t a half lb loss a big win!?

Yes. It is. ;)~

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The girls and I…At the Gaslight

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Sitting pretty in their dresses. How cute are these two!?

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Late in the afternoon, my Sister (8 months preg), my Mom and me.