weekend getaway to half moon bay

This past weekend, I took my sweetheart on a surprise weekend getaway to Half Moon Bay for his birthday! We had such a wonderful, relaxing time. I had never been to Half Moon Bay but have wanted to go ever since I moved up to the Bay Area¬†and heard the town’s name… it sounds so magical to me! And it ended up being even lovelier than I imagined. It is only a short drive outside of San Francisco, but it feels worlds away. Half Moon Bay is a quiet, sleepy little beach town and I kept telling Allyn, “I feel like we are so far from home even though we only drove like an hour to get here!” Even the drive was pretty, with ocean views along Coastal Highway 1 and some very neat sections where the road was lined with huge, beautiful trees.

I booked a cute apartment for us on Air B&B and I want to give a quick shout-out to Paul, Meg and Poppy as fantastic hosts who totally went above and beyond! If you ever visit Half Moon Bay, I would definitely recommend staying with them. When we arrived, there were fresh flowers waiting on the kitchen table, as well as delicious homemade brownies and milk! How sweet is that? They also left tea and coffee for us to brew each morning, which was so nice. In fact, one of my favorite parts of the weekend was the slow mornings with my sweetie, sharing breakfast in the sunny kitchen.

brownies half moon bay

I was a little excited about the brownies ūüôā

Here is the outside of the cute one-bedroom apartment we stayed in:

half moon bay residence

Happy happy!

me half moon bay residence

On Saturday morning, Allyn and I drove the short distance to the Half Moon Bay State Beach.

al half moon bay beach sign

What a nice guy, carrying my purse for me!

The weather was gorgeous and sunny, and we spent some time walking along the beach trails, soaking up the sunshine, and watching the waves. The ocean is so soothing! I could sit in the sand and watch the waves break along the shore for hours.

half moon bay beach

half moon bay me and al

The wind started to pick up in the early afternoon, and our stomachs started grumbling, so we left the beach and stopped at a cute restaurant, The Flying Fish Bar & Grill, for lunch. I neglected to snap photos of our food, but Allyn had a delicious-looking wrap with fried prawns, and I had a mahi fish taco and a cup of clam chowder. It hit the spot!

Then we headed out to the pumpkin patch! Half Moon Bay is known for pumpkins {they actually have a huge pumpkin festival every year!} and before the trip I had read terrific reviews of Arata’s Pumpkin Farm, so we headed there. We were not disappointed! It was a pumpkin patch paradise.

arata's pumpkin farm

pumpkins at pumpkin farm

Arata’s Pumpkin Farm has tons of pumpkins {crazy wide variety!}, a petting zoo, a haunted house, a farmer’s market, and activities for kiddos… but the highlight is the huge labyrinth made out of hay bales. Look at this thing!

the labyrinth

When you first enter, a giant sculpture of a Minotaur is there to greet you. Allyn was not intimidated in the least!

al and the minotaur

When we first entered the maze, I felt pretty confident. But we quickly discovered that making our way to the exit was going to be a more difficult task than either of us anticipated. Dead-ends abounded!

dead end labyrinth

It was so easy to get lost and to forget which routes you had tried before. I joked to Allyn that we should have brought bread crumbs to leave so we could trace our path! We kept taking routes that circled us back to the beginning, where the Minotaur seemed to be laughing at us. Finally, we took a different path that ushered us into the back half of the maze, and from then on it was just a matter of trying out the various routes until we got one that worked.

I was so happy when we saw the exit beckoning us! Success! We did it!

success the labyrinth

I think every couple should make their way through an intricate maze together, because it sure illuminates how you work together and deal with frustration! I was happy that Allyn and I took turns leading, listened to each other, and laughed at ourselves the whole time. I have a ton of fun with this guy, even when wandering through¬†stacked-up bales of hay. And that’s sayin’ something! ūüôā

For dinner on Saturday night we split a Margherita pizza at a wonderful Italian restaurant, It’s Italia, that was a happening spot in downtown Half Moon Bay! We did not make reservations ahead of time and the place was CROWDED, so we nabbed¬†a spot at the bar. It ended up being a fun, cozy place to sit — as Allyn said, it sort of felt like we were part of a large dinner party –and the wait staff could not have been more helpful or attentive. I’d definitely go back!

Sunday morning we slept in, packed up our stuff to be out by noon check-out, hit the beach one last time, and hit the road! It was a delightful weekend away that left me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

See you next time, Half Moon Bay!

half moon bay beach 2

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8 reasons you haven’t heard from me in a month and a half

Hello, friends! Gosh, I cannot believe it is already the end of July. I did not intend to take such a long blogging hiatus… it was one of those things that just kind of *happened* the way that life happens sometimes! Here’s what I’ve been up to this summer {and why you haven’t heard from me in a while…}

1. I went on a trip to Europe! It was absolutely beautiful, and restful, and adventurous, and sad, and healing, and exactly what I needed. This trip was born about a year ago, when I was invited along for a weeklong trip to the south of France with Allyn’s family. Allyn and I decided to extend our trip a little bit and¬†spend some time in Paris to see my friend¬†Celine. We booked our tickets back in December. I could not wait to see Celine again in her favorite city, and to introduce Allyn to her, and for us all to spend time together.

When Celine died, I wasn’t sure if I could still bear to go to Paris without her there. But I knew that she would want me to go — she would have been furious if I canceled that part of the¬†trip! And so¬†I went. And later¬†I will write a whole post¬†about all the things I learned there, but suffice to say it was very hard, and¬†missing her was a whole-body ache, and¬†I felt¬†and saw her everywhere — and there was something¬†very comforting in that underneath all the pain.

sunflowers

In addition to Paris and the south of France, we also¬†spent a few days in Barcelona with Allyn’s brother Colin and Colin’s girlfriend Charlotte, which was lovely. One of the treasures of the trip was getting to spend so much time with Allyn’s siblings — they are such fun, thoughtful, easy-to-be-around people, and I am grateful to have them as friends.

allyns siblings

me and Allyn France

2. I got an eye infection. Immediately upon returning home from our trip. The doc thinks I must have picked something up on the train/metro/plane/airport/etc. So many germs while traveling! Anyway, this derailed me for a bit, with doctors appointments and antibiotics and hot eye compresses. Fun! But it is all better now, thankfully. And now I am much more appreciative of my un-itchy eyes!

3. I’m teaching summer camps for Communication Academy. In the summer, instead of weekly classes, we teach week-long camps for kids and teens. I teach public speaking, journalism, and academic writing. I love teaching the camps because the class becomes very close during the week, spending so much time together, and you see a lot of growth in the students. It’s very inspiring! However, my workdays are longer than during the school year — more of a traditional 9-5 as opposed to three hours in the afternoons — and it can be hard to fit in writing/emailing/blogging time.

4. My role at church is expanding. In addition to serving as a Worship Associate this summer, I am giving my own sermon and leading the service on August 16. I’ve also taken on a leadership position as co-facilitator of a Young Adult Community Circle. All of this is enriching, important work for my soul, and is challenging me to grow in new ways!

5. Janet came to visit for a few days. Allyn and his family took us out on a boat ride around the San Francisco Bay!

me and janet

6. Holly and I met up in Chicago to see our girl Taylor Swift in concert! It was an amazing show, even though we were sitting in the_very_last_row! Spending time with Holly fills my heart up so much. I wish we lived closer, but I am beyond grateful for every moment I get to spend with this lovely lady!

me and Holly

tswift concert 1989

7. Some terrific developments have been happening for me professionally these past couple weeks… I landed a new copywriting gig, won second place in a national writing contest, and¬†have¬†exciting news regarding¬†my novel that I will share with you at a later date, once I am no longer afraid of jinxing things! ūüėČ I also wrote a few short essays about writing that you might be interested in:

8. Now I am back in my hometown, soaking¬†up time with my fam and my brother before he leaves for his new job in NYC on Friday! I am also teaching my writing camp this weekend and next weekend. Yesterday I gave a book talk and signing at a local bookstore, Mrs. Figs’ Bookworm, and was so surprised and grateful at how many people came out to support me! I have such wonderful friends. So, so lucky!

friends at booksigning

book signing sign

And now you’re pretty much caught up! I hope the summer has been treating you wonderfully, too. I hope you are getting time to relax and recharge your batteries. Is there anything you need to take a brief hiatus from? If you feel like you are juggling lots of plates — is there one you can set down, even for a short while?

I missed blogging and I missed checking in with all of you, and after my time away I am feeling rejuvenated and eager to be back! Thank you for reading and being part of my little corner of the internet.

P.S. Murray sends you a big kiss! TGIF & happy weekend!

murray kiss

fabulous friday #27 {washington d.c. recap edition!}

Happy Friday, everyone! After a few whirlwind weeks of travel, I’m now back home in Ventura soaking up time with my parents, Gramps, Erica, and Mr. Mur-dog.

I’m also preparing to teach the first weekend of my Summer Writing Camp tomorrow! I’ve got a lot on the to-do list today, but before I get going I wanted to take a few minutes to recap my trip to Washington D.C. to visit my brother for a long weekend. So this week’s Fabulous Friday post is going to be a recap!

Here’s 5 things I loved about washinginton, d.c.:

1. Spending time {and taking selfies!} with my brother. I always love getting together with this crazy kid! He makes me laugh like pretty much no one else on the planet.

selfie with greg

selfie on metro

2. Strolling along the Washington Mall and seeing the Capitol and all the monuments.

me with capitol

greg and horse

3. Going to the Ford’s Theater museum. As a huge Abraham Lincoln fan, it was really sad — but also sacred — to see the place he died.

honest abe

house lincoln died

ford's theater

ford's theater box

4. The Native American Smithsonian Museum. Beautiful and thought-provoking.

smithsonian

native american banner

native american museum

native american statue

5. Going to the Sara Bareilles concert! Greg surprised me with tickets. It was a phenomenal show, and the venue was so much fun! We picnicked before on the grassy lawn. It was a wonderful night!

sara bareilles concert

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Questions of the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What’s on your agenda for the weekend?
  • Have you taken any fun trips this summer?

fabulous friday #26 {new orleans edition!}

Hi from beautiful New Orleans, and Happy Independence Day to all my U.S. readers! I hope you have some fun celebrating on the agenda today. Allyn and I are going to watch the fireworks on the Mississippi River! I’m waaaaay excited.

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Being reunited with my sweetheart! After being apart for a month {and knowing we’ll have to be apart for another month when I leave} I am savoring every moment we get to spend together.

me and Al new orleans

2. The beautiful architecture of the city! It’s so uniquely New Orleans. And I love the strands of lights that are hanging everywhere! The picture below is from a cute outdoor art fair we stumbled upon one night on Frenchman Street.

new orleans architecture new orleans architecture new orleans art walk

3. Live jazz music! We saw a terrific performance at a place on Bourbon Street, and also wandered around Frenchman Street where there was a fantastic band giving a street performance that blew my socks off. I get such a big goofy grin on my face when listening to live music.

live jazz

4. The food. Especially the beignets at Caf√© Du Monde. I learned the hard way not to exhale while taking a bite — guess who blew powdered sugar alllll over herself? Haha.

cafe du mondebeignetal beignet

me beignet

5. These cheerful flowers Allyn surprised me with at the airport when he picked me up. There were a bunch of buds that have slowly been unfurling all week. I love them!

flowers from Al

BONUS:¬†My friend Dana’s beautiful photography blog. She posts a new photo of hers every day and it makes my morning to check it out while I sip my tea. Talk about inspiration! She is so talented. I wish she could walk around New Orleans with me and take photographs! She has such an insightful, interesting way of viewing the world behind her lens. You can subscribe to her blog here!

Questions of the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for this 4th of July weekend?
  • Have you ever been to New Orleans? Any recommendations for my final week here?

fabulous friday #22

Happy TGIF, friends! I have¬†one of those jam-packed, busy weekends on the agenda … I’m excited about all the fun things on my calendar these next two days, but maybe all that looming activity explains why I’ve felt so sluggish today. I’m just having a hard time getting up and moving, which is unusual for me. I’m taking it as my body’s cue that I need a little rest. Could also be this heat wave we are having … I’ve been chugging water and Gatorade like nobody’s business, but it can still be difficult to stay adequately hydrated!

Moving right along…

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Justin’s Maple Almond Butter. Omg you guys, I don’t know why I’m so late to jump on the bandwagon, but I can’t get enough of this stuff. I love it on toast, on celery, on apples, on carrots, by itself on a spoon…

justin's maple almond butter

2. This inspiring and honest post by one of my favorite bloggers, Nicole @ A Life Less Bullsh*t, about fear & procrastination.

3. My new haircut! I don’t know if any of you could tell from the photos I posted earlier from Julie’s wedding, but I got a couple inches trimmed off the ends. Not a big change, but it feels so much healthier. I love the light, summertime feel of a new haircut. {Cute side note: one of my 8-year-old students even noticed and complimented me on it. So sweet! Made my day.}

haircut.jpg

4. Lee Brice’s new song “I Don’t Dance.” Makes me tear up every time it comes on the radio.

5. The sweet and thoughtful card I received from my brother, who is currently on a plane to Vietnam as part of a two-and-a-half week trip he’s taking through his MBA program. He’ll be traveling to Vietnam, Thailand, and China, and I can’t wait to see him when he returns home and hear all about this adventures! Please send your thoughts and prayers for a safe trip.

Here he is riding an elephant in Sri Lanka last year.

Here he is riding an elephant in Sri Lanka last year!

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What do you have on the agenda for the weekend?

highlights from mendocino trip

mendocino

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I spent the past few days on a little getaway to Mendocino, a quaint coastal town in northern California. Allyn’s family was sweet enough to invite me along on their trip, and I loved getting to spend more time with them and get to know them better. They are a super fun bunch, and we accumulated many inside jokes over our four days together!

Allyn’s family rented a vacation house a few miles outside of town with a stunning¬†view of the ocean. I also loved the beautiful tall trees and the vibrant wildflowers!

ocean view

tall trees wildflowers

We went for day hikes along the beach cliffs and through the Jughandle nature preserve. Sometimes the weather in Mendocino can get quite dreary and foggy, but we lucked out with clear sunny days — perfect to take in the gorgeous views. We even spotted some humpback whales in the ocean, and some sea lions sunning themselves on the rocks.

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mendocino coast

jughandle trail

There was no Internet access or cell phone service, and it was refreshing to get “off the grid” for a few days. Instead of watching TV or checking email, evenings were spent talking by the fireplace, roasting marshmallows for s’mores, playing board games and trying to complete an epically challenging puzzle called “The Sentinels”… which was finally finished just before we had to leave!

the sentinels

All in all, it was a wonderful trip and I am so grateful to Allyn and his family for including me! I’ll end this recap post¬†with a message we found spelled out with sticks along the Jughead trail — a great reminder for us all: YOU ARE LOVED.

you are loved

Questions of the morning:

  • What was a memorable¬†getaway trip you took?
  • Do you ever set aside time to go “off the grid” and put away your electronic devices?