Category Archives: Travel


Top 10 Things to do in Downtown Bakersfield, CA

September 7, 2017

Top 10 Things to Do in Downtown Bakersfield, California

A couple of week’s ago Lonnie and I celebrated 19 years of marriage. I think that’s definitely a reason to celebrate. We chose to stay in town and enjoy the city we live in. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I harp on how great our little downtown is. I love living, working and playing in downtown Bakersfield. We have great restaurants, entertainment, and so many great antique and thrift shops. So whether you are visiting Bakersfield or live here and are just not sure what downtown has to offer, I’ve put together a Top 10 guide of things to do, see, and eat here in sunny downtown Bakersfield.

We can almost see The Padre Hotel from our house. We loving having dinner or just coffee there, but we’ve never stayed there.  So, having a night “away” at the Padre was really such a treat. Stepping in the doors always feels like a breathe of fresh air. This place oozes cool. I’m such a detail person, and The Padre Hotel delivers so much charm and character. It first opened it’s doors in 1928. After being closed for many years, the historic hotel underwent a transformation to become a sophisticated boutique hotel with restaurants, nightlife, wedding venues and conference facilities. The Padre Hotel is a big reason why downtown Bakersfield is a cool place to hang out.

Top 10 Things to Do in Downtown Bakersfield, California

  1. Stay at The Padre Hotel! This goes for out of town guests or if you are local, I highly suggest a staycation with a night here. The bed was probably my favorite thing about the spacious Head Honcho room. It was literally like sleeping on a cloud. The room also has the biggest hotel bathroom I’ve ever seen with a gorgeous walk in shower, and jetted tub that fills from the ceiling and sleek black penny tile everywhere! Also, if you are going to have a night in a hotel, definitely order room service breakfast, nothing says vacay like breakfast in bed.
  2. The best restaurant in Bakersfield is definitely the Belvedere Room at The Padre Hotel. We’ve celebrated a few anniversaries and a couple Valentine’s Days here. It’s elegant atmosphere is a great spot for a romantic dinner. They serve fresh, in season and local ingredients. The menu is always exciting and there are fun modern twists on classics. Every bite I’ve ever had at the Belvedere has been completely delicious. We started our meal with the a beautiful cheese and charcuterie board. It was loaded with unique cheeses, like a lavender and coffee rind cheddar and soft Italian cheeses that had names I’d never heard of. We enjoyed roasted duck, rib eye steak cooked to perfection, mushroom rissoto and the yummiest crispy brussel sprouts I’ve ever had.
  3. If you are looking for a more relaxed meal or just a coffee break, we also love the Farmacy Cafe and Brimstone. Both of these restaurants are also located in the Padre Hotel. The Farmacy has great grab and go options, a full espresso bar and is also just a really great breakfast spot. The Brimstone is one of our favorite date night dinner spots. The serve fantastic appetizers, loaded burgers and decadent desserts. It’s a fun lively, but chill environment.
  4. If you need a sweet treat, De Coeur Bakeshop is just around the corner from the Padre. Yummy French Macarons and the flakiest croissants. Be sure to take a picture with the copper heart on the wall (I made it).
  5. If your sweet treat of choice is ice cream, there’s only one place to go – Dewar’s Ice Cream! Let’s just say huge scoops of ice cream and homemade marshmallow cream, need I say more? They have been making ice cream and candy in downtown Bakersfield for over 100 years. Dewar’s is walking distance from our house, so ya, we are there often.
  6. If you like to thrift and wander through antique malls, well Bakersfield is the city for you. I highly suggest hitting the Five and Dime Anitque Mall in the old Woolworth’s Building. If you have time, definitely stop for a burger at the diner or just a cold soda at the bar. I have a few other favorite antique malls. Mill Creek Antique Mall and Timeless Furnishings are both great spots. You won’t be disappointed with the vintage scene in Bakersfield, and the prices are great!
  7. If you are looking for entertainment The Flics at the historic Fox Theater is one of our favorite things to do. Most Friday nights, starting in the Fall they show the current foreign films. Lonnie and I try to go as much as possible. And a ticket is only $7. And for the best entertainment in town, I highly suggest the Dueling Pianos at the Prospect Lounge in The Padre Hotel every Friday and Saturday night. These guys were soooo talented and Lonnie and I stayed till midnight singing along with all their tunes.
  8. Smitten Cafe is a must while in Bakersfield. If you are looking for a great latte or the best avocado toast in town, Smitten is your spot. My favorite drink on their menu is actually the Matcha Green Tea latte.
  9. For fresh flowers, plants, and unique gifts and cards, House of Flowers is my favorite florist in town. They also offer a lot of fun workshops like wreath making and bouquet arranging classes. Be sure to see if there is a class being offered while you are in town.
  10. If you are in downtown Bakersfield Wednesday through Saturday, The Hen’s Roost is definitely a stop you need to make. It’s a micro farmer’s market with the yummiest vegan food, local produce, homemade nut butters and so much more. You HAVE to order the Thai Street Fries!  You can thank me later.

Top 10 Things to Do in Downtown Bakersfield, California

The Padre Hotel hints at Bakersfield’s country, oil town vibe in a cool, subtle way. Be sure to take in all the details.

Top 10 Things to Do in Downtown Bakersfield, CaliforniaTop 10 Things to Do in Downtown Bakersfield, CaliforniaTop 10 Things to Do in Downtown Bakersfield, California

Even the wallpaper in the hallways hints at the cowtown and oil field city that we are.

Top 10 Things to Do in Downtown Bakersfield, California

We tried to spend as much time in our hotel room as possible. We drove less then a mile from our home, but felt like we where definitely on a getaway. I’m a brand new fan of the staycation.

Top 10 Things to Do in Downtown Bakersfield, CaliforniaTop 10 Things to Do in Downtown Bakersfield, California

Nothing makes you feel like your on vacation like breakfast in bed. The California Burrito and the Lemon Curd Buttermilk Pancakes were so good.

Top 10 Things to Do in Downtown Bakersfield, CaliforniaTop 10 Things to Do in Downtown Bakersfield, CaliforniaTop 10 Things to Do in Downtown Bakersfield, California

Everything is definitely within walking distance, so there is no need to look for parking (which is never hard in downtown Bakersfield anyways). But, I always think you take in more of a city’s vibe when you walk the streets.

Top 10 Things to Do in Downtown Bakersfield, California Top 10 Things to Do in Downtown Bakersfield, California

Friends, come enjoy my city!

I big THANK YOU to The Padre Hotel for helping us celebrate our anniversary in style, Bakersfield Style!


California Wild Flowers 2017

April 13, 2017

California Flower Fields 2017

Yep, it’s that time of year, California wild flowers are everywhere! And this year is called a Super Bloom. Every Spring, I look forward to a little wild flower hunting with my family. As you all know by now, I’m married to a legit nerd. Lonnie, my biology teacher husband, is all about plants, animals and all things environment. Actually one of our first dates in college was to go wild flower collecting so that he could press the flowers. He identifies all the flowers with his field guides and I take the pictures.

After a long draught, it’s so much fun to see so many poppies and lupin in the hills. We drove just 20 mins East of Bakersfield last weekend to find these beautiful blooms. So, if you hurry, I think there is still time to find wild flowers in California. (If you know the area, just head for the hills near Arvin, CA)

California Flower Fields 2017 California Flower Fields 2017 California Flower Fields 2017 California Flower Fields 2017 California Flower Fields 2017California Wild Flowers 2017California Wild Flowers 2017

Olivia still loves all these little adventures we go on. While it is illegal to pick the California poppies, she did enjoy picking a lot of the other blooms. She literally ran through the flowers, hunting for lizards and smelling everything in sight. I’m so glad I took an afternoon to capture these images. I guess life in California is pretty darn idyllic.

This week we are in Northern California, Eureka, at my parent’s place. We are enjoying the Redwoods, the beach and lots of much needed rain. I’m sure I’ll be sharing a lot more of all the gorgeous landscapes California has to offer up here as well. I’m pretty proud to be a Californian.

California Wild Flowers

Food & Drink / Travel

What to Eat in New York City – (Vacation like a Blogger)

February 17, 2017

The Best NYC Eats

You guys I LOVE New York City! If you follow me on Instagram, you know that my husband and I got away last week for a few days and had the BEST time in NYC. And as any good blogger would, I shared lots of food and coffee pictures on instagram.

One of the most important parts of vacation is what I eat. I spend many hours each week shopping for and preparing meals for my family. So, when I’m exploring a new place, I want to eat interesting, delicious, new things (that I don’t have to cook). So, I’ve put together an Oleander + Palm What to eat in New York City guide. I’m sure there are a ton of “Best NYC Restaurant” lists and posts out there. But, when I searched, all that came up were either 1) way out of my budget or 2) just too predictable or touristy. So, my husband and I made it our J-O-B to find the yummiest, not-so-pricey, food in New York City. Now, we are not New York City experts (I’ve only been a total of 5 times) and have never lived there, but I think our list will definitely not disappoint you. Oh and I should mention that we walked or rode the subway everywhere, so these we are easy places to get to.

As Californians, Mexican food was definitely not on our radar (we’ve got the good stuff here). We were looking for fun eats that can’t be found in Bakersfield. We also are pretty thrifty and love to live big without spending a lot of coins. So, most of our meals and treats were easy on the wallet.

Vanessa’s Dumplings

We found this place by accident, but totally lucked out. And we both ate for under $11 total!!! That’s a huge win in NYC. You have to order the Honey Ginger Hot Tea, it has big chunks of spicy ginger in it. All of the dumplings were super fresh, but the spicy fried dumplings were our favorites.

Pastrami Queen

If there is a deli sandwich to be had, I always go for the pastrami or a reuben. So, I’ve had quite a few in my lifetime. I’m telling you that this was the best pastrami I have ever had. So ya, order the pastrami for sure, but the matze ball soup was really good on a cold day.

Cafe Henrie

Hip and totally trendy with some slightly inappropriate art (that’s the hip mom in me talking). Not sure if I’d want my teenagers to see the neon light near the bathrooms. I know, now you want to go see it. But, the food – I’m pretty sure everything here is good. I went for the instagram happy food like the Mr. Pink Bowl (which has beets and I LOVE beets) and the acai bowl. I also had a cardamom coffee with cream, and it was really yummy. If you are there for the instagram images, be sure to wait for a table near the windows. The back of the restaurant got a little dark. But, those pink tables by the window were perfection.

What to eat in NYC

Yemen Cafe

This is a must for us when we are in NYC and yes, we ate there twice in the 4 days that we were there. So, we did live in Yemen for two years, so this place feels familiar and brings back lots of memories. But, really, if you like unusual food, then you need to try Yemeni food, because it’s really yummy and super unique. Be sure to order salta or fahsa, it comes to the table bubbling in a stone dish. These are meat and veggie stews that you eat with warm, fresh flat bread. And definitely order the hot tea with milk, it’s bottomless and so delicious.

The best New York City food.


If you are in need of a late night sweet treat, a lot of their locations are open till 11 pm. Oh ya, we were making an ice cream and cookie run around 10:30 pm one night. Try any soft serve they have on tap. We’ve had the cream cheese sage (at Momofukus) and the cereal milk soft serve with the crunchy cereal topping was so good.

What to eat while in New York City


Everything you eat here will be fantastic. But, we do have a few favorites. The Nutella Cafe is a must. They have crepes, pastries, gelato, and fancy coffees topped with mounds of molten Nutella. We also love the roasted meat sandwiches that are served in the back of the store. There is a rotisserie that roasts a couple different kinds of meat everyday. It’s sliced right in front of you and piled on a fresh crunchy roll and topped with a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt and pepper. My son, who is 13, had the sandwich about 4 years ago and still refers to it as the best thing he’s ever had to eat.

New York City's best food

Shake Shack

There is usually a very long line. But, if you are just in need of a sweet treat, there is a separate shorter line for ordering frozen custard and shakes. I always just stick with a scoop of the chocolate frozen custard, but I know their shakes are pretty much off-the-hook.

Brooklyn Bagel or Milk + Honey

When in NYC, bagels and cream cheese are a must. Milk + Honey was right around the corner from our hotel, so it was a super convenient breakfast on the go. We also stopped in at Brooklyn Bagel one morning. They had a huge selection of bagel and cream cheese flavors. I’m sure any bagel you have in NYC will be better than most, but these were two spots we really enjoyed.


I kind of feel like I’m a donut expert and these are the best donuts I’ve ever had. You guys, I’ve had Blue Star, Randy’s, Tim Hortons, Voodoo, you name it. Besides my mom’s homemade donuts, these are #1. The Passionfruit Cocoa Nib and the Lemon Poppy Seed are my faves and usually I’m a chocolate or coconut girl. They have a location in Manhattan, but the trip to their Brooklyn shop is worth it, that’s where they are made. So, get there early and be ready for a carb experience like no other.

What to eat in New York City


I’m not a cheesecake expert, but you should have a slice or two. We had cheesecake after seeing a broadway show at Juniors. It’s probably a bit of a tourist trap, but it’s right in the theater district and the cheesecake was pretty awesome.

Martha Stewart Cafe

If you walk The High Line, which I totally recommend, be sure to walk an extra block to Martha’s Cafe. I had to! I’ve seriously been a fan of all things Martha since 1996, so I had to go. And in 100% honesty, it was the best latte I had the whole trip.

What to eat in New York City


I think this was our most expensive meal of the entire trip (around $50) and I’m pretty sure it was worth every penny. And actually it counted for two meals because we ate Sunday brunch at Buvette. The pastries are to die for, perfect little croissants, almond brioche and madeleines. We ordered a Croque Monsieur with gruyere, ham and herb d’provence – it’s really just the fanciest grilled cheese you’ve ever had.

Now, it’s your turn. What do you recommend folks eat while in NYC? A recommendation from a real person is always the best so I’d like to know what awesome things you’ve eaten there.



Fall Family Hike

November 28, 2016

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. We sure did. I lot of cooking and eating happened. Lonnie’s family all came from Idaho. So, we had a full house, which I love. The cousins had a blast together, and that’s always so much fun to watch.

I enjoyed having a little break from work. But, now I’m ready and excited for the holidays. We got a tree last night and decorated it. Are you ready for Christmas? I’ve got some fun Holiday posts headed your way!

Fall Family HikeOn Black Friday we decided to #optoutside and take the family for a little hike. This is one of our favorite local hikes. It’s super dry, of course, but there still is a hint of fall in the colors. I had fun taking my camera. Lately, any pictures I take are for work and not for fun. So, it was felt good to just play with my camera.

If you are local, the Kern River Canyon is really a great spot for a day hike. If you head out highway 178 towards Lake Isabella, this trail is called Mill Creek.


Olivia had so much fun collecting seeds and leaves. We only hiked about 4 miles, but anytime my kids are outside away from screens, I’m a happy mama.

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Ok, now let’s try to make it through this Monday. Bring on all the coffee.



Big Bear California Travel Guide

August 8, 2016

The week before last, while we waited to hear when we’d close on our house, we decided to take a little vacay right here in Cali for a couple days. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that we’ve NEVER been to Big Bear. It’s just 3 hours from our home, way too close to have never visited. I pride myself in thinking that I know California so well. We camp often and I take advantage of living in this great state all the time.  But, somehow Big Bear just never was a stop. Well, it’s safe to say that we will be heading to Big Bear again in the very near future. We are fans!

Big Bear California Travel GuideBig Bear is known for it’s ski hills. Most LA folk that ski have probably been there. With gorgeous granite rock, tall pine trees and a gorgeous lake, it’s also a really great Summer spot. We swam, hiked, sledded, and ate lots of pie. Here’s my Top 10 must sees and eats for Big Bear.

Big Bear California Travel Guide

Big Bear Top Ten

1.Definitely stay at the Noon Lodge at Mallard Bay. The detail and thought that has been put into the design and decor of these adorable cabins is absolute perfection. Our cabin was cute and comfy and the kids spent hours in the gorgeous pool. In the evenings we sat by the fire and played corn hole and bocci ball. (There’s lots of pics from this cute place, I couldn’t help myself.)

Big Bear California Travel GuideBig Bear California Travel GuideBig Bear California Travel GuideBig Bear California Travel Guide

2. Eat any meal at the Teddy Bear Restaurant in the village. We might have eaten pie there more then once. And their chicken pot pie was amazing!!!

Big Bear California Travel Guide

3. Ride a bike! The town has great bike lanes. The Noon Lodge had bikes to borrow, but the ski hills also have rentals and there is some great mountain biking when you take the lifts up.

4. Swim at the China Island Cabins on the lake.  There’s some great granite rocks to jump off of.

5. Hike Castle Rock. It’s a great hike for families. It’s about a one mile hike to the top, but the views are great and there is lots of fun bouldering at the top on the huge granite rocks.

6. Have coffee at the Copper Q. They have an amazing assortment of pastries and more pie. We enjoyed everything we ordered.

Noon Lodge in Big Bear California

7. Visit the North Pole Fudge and Ice Cream Co. in the village for a sweet treat. They have loaded gourmet candy apples, ice cream and lots of candy.

8. One of our favorite activities was the Alpine Sled at Magic Mountain. You ride down the mountain on  a 1/4 mile cement track on sleds. It’s really so much fun. You control your own speed. It’s a really unique experience and so much fun for all of us. We also spent the afternoon on their waterslides as well.  Olivia must have run up those stairs and down those slides 50 times.

Big Bear California Travel GuideBig Bear California Travel GuideBig Bear

9. Take out from Maggio’s Pizza is a must. We brought home pizza and salad and enjoyed it on a picnic table outside our cabin.

Big Bear California Travel Guide

10. Rent a couple stand up paddle boards. We rented two and took turns for a couple hours paddling around the lake. Even though there are a lot of boats, the water is pretty calm and the kids had a blast.

Big Bear California Travel Guide

Bonus: If you go all the way to Big Bear, then you need to drive another 45 mins. and visit Lake Arrowhead. We stopped on our way home and here’s the 2 things I would highly recommend.

  1. Be sure to check out Shop Road Trip. This well curated shop is full of hip home wares and plants.
  2. Eat at Cedar Glen Inn. We stopped for lunch before hitting the road. I’ve heard their breakfast is amazing, but the sandwiches were killer. Huge portions and just good food.

Big Bear California Travel GuideBig Bear California Travel Guide

Ok now get out and explore. And if you are in California, this a great weekend destination. You won’t be disappointed.

etc. / Food & Drink / Travel

Knott’s Berry Farm Boysenberry Festival

March 31, 2016

Last week we made a quick trip south to Knott’s Berry Farm. I haven’t been there since I was a kid. From now until April 3rd the Boysenberry Festival is on! So if you are in Soun, this would be a great place to spend the day. There’s special live entertainment and Boysenberry flavored EVERYTHING!  We spent a fun filled day enjoying rides and tasting all the Boysenberry Bites. Knott’s Berry Farm knows how to food you guys.

Knott’s is great, it’s a low key, not overly crowed amusement park.  And there was big, fast rides for my older two and lot’s of fun little kid rides from Olivia.

Boysenberry Flautas

Boysenberry Flautas

The best way to experience the Boysenberry Festival is with a Boysenberry Bites Tasting Card. For only $25, the tasting card includes generous portions of six delectable treats:

1. Boysenberry BBQ Short Ribs at Spurs Chophouse
2. Spicy Boysenberry BBQ Wings
3. Fried Alligator Bites with Fries & Boysenberry Aioli at Sutter’s
4. Boysenberry BBQ Meatballs near Churro Factory
5. Boysenberry Panna Cotta with Almond Crumble at Ghost Town Bakery
6. Boysenberry Dessert Flautas at Ghost Town Grub

Plus there lots other fun Boysenberry treats throughout the park, like Boysenberry donuts the size of your head and Boysenberry Cotton Candy (oh yes!).

Boysenberry Panna Cotta

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Boysenberry Donut

This is Southern California at it’s best! The days are warm and sunny and the evenings are cool. I had a lot of fun just taking pictures of all the beautiful flowers that were in bloom around the park. I enjoyed capturing all the pinks and purples everywhere.

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Boysenberry Cotton Candyboysenberry festival 9Boysenberry Short Ribs and Rice

Boysenberry Short Ribs and Rice

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Thanks Knott’s Berry Farm for having us for a fun-filled day! 


Color Hunting in Alaska

July 14, 2015

I don’t consider myself an artist, but I do love having opportunities to express myself creatively. I enjoy pushing myself in simple, artistic ways.  Whether it’s just making something with my hands, creating a new recipe or playing with color, it helps me feel alive and energized.

We are still on our big road trip to Alaska. Our days are filled with exploring the gorgeous scenery that is at every turn. Yes, we are spending a lot of time in the car and showering a lot less, but we are creating priceless memories as a family. I know we are so privileged to have the time and the resources to do this as a family. Taking yourself away from the everyday responsibilities and schedules of life is so refreshing. It gives me time to clear my head, think and just catch my breath. And while I’m away from my studio, all my craft supplies, Pinterest, and even window shopping, I’m looking for ways to play with my creative side.

I find I’m using my phone and camera all the time to capture moments and scenes. So, as a little personal challenge, I’m giving myself little photo challenges.  Like picking a specific color to hunt for. We’ve definitely seen a lot of green (my favorite color). For the next couple of days, we are camping just outside Seward, Alaska.  This is a gorgeous little port town on the Kenai Peninsula with towering mountains on every side. Cobalt Blue is a color I keep playing with. We have been traveling with our new bright blue HP Pavilion 17″ notebook.  It’s been an awesome tool for researching campsites and points of interest, keeping in touch with our life that we’ve temporarily left behind and storing and sharing our loads of pictures we’ve been taking along the way. So, today I challenged myself to take this gorgeous shade of blue as inspiration and hunt for it in Seward, Alaska.

This new HP Pavilion notebook is more versatile and efficient with Windows 10 already loaded and ready to go. Windows 10 is just as familiar as an old friend, but even better.  You can keep all the areas of your life organized with a desktop for work and then one for home.  It has a great battery life and lots of storage. And you can only buy this specific edition on HSN.

Here’s some reasons why you should consider purchases your next laptop on HSN:
  • HP Pavilion 17” notebook Intel Quad-Core 8GB Ram, 1TB Hard drive
    with lifetime tech support that HSN provides
  • Bang & Olufsen audio built-in
  • Windows 10 Operating system
    Exclusive model for HSN
  • Available in 5 Colors – Silver, White, Blue, Red, Purple
  • $699.95 with Free Shipping and Handling
  • HSN Offers Flex Pay allows customers the ability to break the laptop
    price into several payments. They do not need an HSN credit card for
    this- it is with their own card. It’s like layaway, but better because we
    ship you the product right away. We are planning for 6 flex payments on
    this Laptop so customers can ‘Get it home for under $120” 
Maybe I can challenge you to find this gorgeous color where ever you are today. If you share on social media, be sure to tag me, I’d love to see cobalt blue through your eyes.
This post is sponsored by HP and HSN.  Thank you for supporting the companies that make this blog possible. 


6 Tips for Road Tripping with Kids

July 13, 2015

If you following me on facebook or instagram you may know that we are on an epic road trip right now.  About a week and a half ago, we left our home in Southern California and drove our vintage trailer, Riley, all the way to Alaska. Our kids were troopers as we travelled over 3700 miles in 6 1/2 days.  They are not strangers to traveling and long road trips, but this was the longest trip we have ever taken.  I don’t think I am an expert, but I do think I have a lot of experience traveling with kids, so I thought I’d share a few tips that help make Road Tripping with kids a little easier.

1. Snacks are #1! Being prepared with healthy choices for snacking and meal times, is sure to save you both time and money. We bought an electric cooler that plugs into the cigarette lighter for this trip. I knew I didn’t want to have to mess with buying ice everyday, so this seemed like a good investment. Because we were traveling with our little trailer, we committed to cooking most of our meals.  And actually we only ate out a couple of times. But, having fruit, veggies, and cheese for snacking was really helpful. We kept Snack Catchers full of healthy treats and munchies and leak proof sippy cups full for Olivia at all times.  And by using great products like these from Munchkin, we didn’t have to worry about unwanted messes and spills.  

2. Break in the middle of the day. We like to drive early in the morning and then again late into the night.  This way our kids can sleep the first couple of hours before we stop for breakfast. Then we plan a good long stop in the middle of the day so that we can stretch our legs and enjoy the sites.  We planned lunch breaks around lakes and points of interest.  Then when we’d drive late, they could fall asleep in the car and we could get a few more hours of the road behind us. Leaving at 4:30am and driving till midnight, did leave Lonnie and I with very few hours of sleep. But, coffee was our friend and we took turns driving so that the other person could rest.  

3. Be Flexible! If there is a gorgeous lake, a museum, historical site, wildlife or just an awesome donut shop – take the time to stop and play for 30 mins.  You are guaranteed to have happier travelers.  Remember the joy is in the journey. Yes, you do want to reach your destination, but some of the best memories are made along the way.

4. Keep them entertained! Ok, I know the temptation is to show movie after movie, to keep them happy and quiet. But, you can limit screen time and still have happy travelers. We are huge podcast junkies, and there are some great ones out there specifically for kids. Check out Storynory, The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd, and Ted Talks Family + Kids.  Music can be a great distraction as well as classic car games like I Spy. And definitely a favorite movie when tiny travelers are feeling weary is totally fine. My kids definitely watched a few and it’s totally ok.  
5. Stay Organized! This is completely for my sanity. But, if the car is a disaster, it’s uncomfortable and can feel even more crowded then it is. We love the i-Hide carseat organizer from Munchkin.  It keeps the iPad tucked away, and keeps toys, sippy cups and snacks in arms reach. If everything has it’s place, you feel a little more in control.

6. Bring that one special thing.  For Olivia it is her bunny and her Owl Nightlight. Be sure to pack that one thing that your kiddo has to have in order to sleep.  We don’t pack any tools when we travel and camp.  Kids can be very entertained by just rocks and sticks.  But, when it comes to bed time, softies and security blankies are a must.  These items can also help you child sleep in their carseat when you are driving both early in the morning or late at night.  

This post is sponsored by Munchkin.  Thank you for supporting the companies that help make this blog possible. 


Ojai Day Trip

April 22, 2015

Earlier this Spring we took a day trip to Ojai.  I’d been wanting to visit for a while and one Saturday morning we decided to put the kids in the car and go.  From our house to Ojai was just a 2 hour drive.  That’s the beauty of living in Bakersfield, everything is just 2 hours away.  2 hours to the Sequoias, 2 hours to the ocean, 2 hours to LA and most importantly just 2 hours to Ojai.  We wondered through shops and ate delicious fresh food and toured an olive grove and press.  I left feeling inspired and relaxed, a perfect day trip. 
If you are in the Southern California area or are planning a trip here soon, Ojai needs to be on your list.  Unlike a lot of Southern California, everyone was extremely friendly, down to earth and just seriously nice (I say this because I’ve lived in California most of my adult life).  The snotty LA edge was no where to be found.  So, here’s my must see, do and eat list. 
First stop was the gorgeous In The Field clothing and interiors shop.  This well curated shop is owned and run but the loveliest couple.  After walking through this shop, I could have happily gone home and said, “Well that was a lovely day.”   Textures, patterns, and natural fibers were displayed in a relaxed, well-traveled way.  

We spend the day eating little meals all over town.  Instead of fulling up all at one place, we nibbled and shared plates at a few really yummy spots.

Knead Baking Company was filled with gorgeous pastries.  We opted for this locally sourced savory meat and cheese plate.  For a late lunch, we ate at Hip Vegan Cafe.  We are the farthest thing from being vegans, but this food was amazing.  So full of flavor, I didn’t even miss the dairy and meat. Plus it was a great place to eat outside a watch the local folks come and go.  I would highly recommend the Chai Tea and the burritos were so yummy.  As we headed out of town, we stopped at Boccali’s for a delicious pizza with gorgeous views of the country side.

We toured the Ojai Olive Oil Company.  The owner showed us all about growing and making olive oil in California.  The kids found this really interesting.  After visiting the tasting room, we ended up buying quite a few bottles of their delicious infused oils and balsamic vinegars.  Yummy flavors like Lemon Olive Oil and Blackberry Balsamic.  

And this shop might be the reason I wanted to make the trip to Ojai in the first place, Summer Camp.  I’ve been following them on IG for a while now, and just knew I needed to visit.  It’s everything I could ever want for Riley, my vintage trailer.

And last but definitely not least, Bart’s Bookstore is a must!  This is an amazing outdoor bookstore. Yes, all the shelves are outside.  My hubby, the book worm/nerd, was is heaven.

etc. / Travel

NYC Top 10 things to do and see

September 22, 2014

I’m back from an amazing 5 days in NYC.  On Thursday I attended the Better Homes and Gardens Stylemakers Event. But, I actually flew out on Monday so that I could have a couple days in the city by myself. Lately I’ve been feeling very burnt out and just kind of blah. I was lucky enough to get invited to the BHG event again and my husband suggested that I take a couple more days to get lost in the city. I’m so grateful. I walked and walked and ate all kinds of amazing food and just enjoyed being by myself. I highly suggest a couple days in the city to just people watch, sight see, walk and just have some time to think. 
Lon and I spent 5 days in NYC last Summer to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary and then last Fall I went to the BHG event, so after this trip, I feel like I’m a lot more familiar with the city. I thought I’d put together a Top 10 for NYC, kind of like I did for Maui. These are definitely not all the top tourist sites, but they are the things and places I would totally go back to and not want to miss if I’m in NYC again.  
1. Ride the Subway! Get yourself a Metro pass (I got a 7 day unlimited pass for just $30). It’s not only efficient and convenient, it’s a great way to people watch.  I put the Embark app on my phone, and it never steered me wrong.  
2. I have lots of food suggestions for NYC, but Dough Brooklyn is AMAZING! I’ve had their Lemon Poppy Seed and Passionfruit. 

3. The Met is a must. I love seeing the impressionists and this time I made it to the roof top garden. If the weather is nice, definitely have a Jalapeno Lemonade (with or without Tequila).

4. Use the Citi Bikes. It’s a great way to see the city. Lon and I even biked over the Brooklyn Bridge a couple times.

5. The Brooklyn Flea is a fun stop if you are there on a weekend.

6. See a Broadway Show!!! There’s nothing like it. My favorite show so far in Once, but everything I’ve seen has been amazing.  Buy your tickets the day of the show at TKTS in Time Square and save up to 50% off, that’s how we’ve seen everyshow.  Why spend $140 when you can get tickets for $70, and we’ve gotten amazing seats everytime.

7. Eat Pizza! No really, NYC has amazing Pizza. This time we ate at a fun place in Brooklyn called Roberta’s. They have a fun outdoor eating area, and someone was chopping wood for the wood oven during the meal.  Grimaldi’s is supposed to be the best, but every piece I had in the city was really top notch.

8. Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge (or bike).  It’s a gorgeous bridge and the views of Manhattan and Brooklyn from it and amazing.

9. Take a picture of Manhattan from Dumbo in Brooklyn (especially at night). It’s also fun to take the Staten Island Ferry for a good view of the city.

10. And last, but definitely not least, visit Central Park.  It’s gorgeous and you can’t believe you are still in the city. If you are traveling with kiddos, be sure to take them to Heckscher Playground in the park.

And because there really is so much to do and see in the city, here’s a few bonus things to add to the list:

– Have a bagel at Ess-a-Bagel
– Visit the Flower District
– If you love dishes, Fishs Eddy is a must.
– Have a shake or just frozen custard at Shake Shack by the Flatiron.
– Eat ANYTHING at Eately.
– Brunch or breakfast at Sarabeth’s.