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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fabulous friday #31 {dana’s visit to ventura!}

Happy Friday! I’m looking forward to a weekend of relaxation, writing time, cheering on my Trojans, and dinner with friends. What wonderful things are you up to?

Today I want to give you a recap of my sweet friend Dana’s visit to Ventura! We had so much fun, and the weather was gorgeous — I couldn’t resist sharing these photos with you!

Here are 5 highlights¬†from Dana’s visit:

1. Fish & chips at the Harbor! We went to a local favorite, Andria’s {longtime readers may remember it as Gramps’s favorite, too!} We also spent some time walking around the Harbor, looking at the boats and listening to live music.

Dana fish and chips

harbor

2.¬†Going to¬†the beach!¬†It was a relatively calm, quiet morning — seagulls were pretty much our only company as we stretched out on the sand. After soaking up the sunshine for an hour or so, we went over to The Deck and had lunch. Their fish tacos are amazing!

my feet and sand

Dana beachside

deck fish tacos

3. Soaking in the sunshine at the Santa Barbara Pier. It was a gorgeous Memorial Day and after a delicious lunch we walked all along State Street and ended up at the pier.

dana sb

me in sb

santa barbara

4. We met up with Erica at Food Truck Tuesdays! I ordered an amazing gourmet grilled cheese with herbed gouda, butternut squash, cranberry compote, and walnuts on 9-grain bread. {My taste buds are already craving fall, I guess!} We had so much fun talking and laughing until the event closed down. I was so busy talking and enjoying our visit that I neglected to take a photo, whoops! Though here’s an older photo of Food Truck Tuesdays:

food trucks

5. Murray was SO in love with Dana! He would come sit next to her and place one paw on her lap, like he was trying to hold her hand. We joked that he was “courting” her. I love this picture of the two of them!

dana and murray

Questions of the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?

fabulous friday #28

Happy Friday, friends! Hope you’re having a fabulous day!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. The gorgeous summer sunshine and the beautiful beach. I went out to dinner with my parents and it was one of those perfect evenings… warm, a slight breeze, the sun setting over the ocean. I tried to capture it with my camera, but this photo doesn’t¬†do it justice!

pretty ocean

2. Last night, my sweet parents surprised me with tickets to see Once: The Musical at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles! The movie is one of my favorites and I think the music is stunningly beautiful. Seeing the musical was goosebumps-inducing! And we made a night of it with a lovely dinner beforehand at 33 Taps in Hollywood. My parents are two of my best friends and I love getting to spend time with them!

pantages theater

mom dad once

3. I always love coming home and getting together with friends! I saw Gricelda for a lunch date at our favorite spot, Urbane Cafe. Tania invited me to her house¬†for¬†a long catch-up visit {the kind where you feel like it’s been maybe forty minutes and you look at the clock and, whoops, three hours have passed!} And Erica and Kyle had me over to their adorbs new apartment for dinner.

me and erica at her place

They made a delicious healthy stir-fry with rice and I tried out a new recipe for dessert: raspberry brown-butter crumb bars. Oh man, you guys — so good! I will be sharing the recipe next week, so stay tuned.

raspberry brown butter bars

4. ¬†I was floored¬†by this blog post about the declining health of America’s kids — more proof that kids need active¬†play time every day! This amazing nonprofit org, KaBoom!, is where my brother is interning this summer in Washington, D.C.

5. My first Kindle¬†short story is now available! It’s called “Grand Slam” and for a limited time, it’s¬†on sale at Amazon for less than a buck! Here’s a brief description: Derek is a die-hard Cincinnati Reds baseball fan. He finally works up the nerve to talk to his crush, Regina… but then he learns she is a huge New York Yankees fan. The Reds are going up against the Yankees in the World Series! Can their budding romance survive an intense sports rivalry?

grand slam cover

Read a preview and get your copy here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00M1236J2

Here’s to soaking up every last drop of this TGIF and cheers to¬†a fun summer¬†weekend!

Questions of the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?

wedding weekend recap

Happy Tuesday, friends! It is glorious, warm, sunny weather here in the Bay and I am soaking it up! I love reading outside in the sunshine under the trees. Currently¬†I’m in the middle¬†of the epic historical drama Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. What books are you reading and loving right now?

As promised, here are some pictures from my whirlwind weekend at home for my cousin Julie’s wedding!

On Saturday morning, Allyn and I met up with Erica and her boyfriend Kyle for brunch, where we feasted on amazing food {my raspberry + white chocolate pancakes were to die for} and enjoyed over two hours of laugh-filled conversation. It always fills my heart to see this girl!

me and Erica cafe nouveau

Then on Saturday afternoon we headed to the Mandalay Beach Resort for Julie and Chris’s wedding ceremony on the beach! It was a beautiful day, and thankfully the wind died down¬†during the ceremony… the atmosphere was peaceful and calm. Julie looked absolutely breathtaking as she walked down the aisle, and my eyes filled with tears when I saw the way Chris looked at her. It was a lovely ceremony!

julie and chris

As soon as the ceremony ended, the wind kicked up, as you can see below! I love this family photo though because we are all laughing.

fam photo on beach

I made sure to hold my dress down in all the pictures, feeling a bit like Marilyn Monroe!

me and allyn wedding beach

After the ceremony, there was an outdoor cocktail hour and I took the opportunity to snap some photos in between noshing on bacon-wrapped scallops, ahi tuna wontons, cheese and crackers, and sipping on a Shirley Temple! {It’s been years since I’ve had a Shirley Temple, and it was calling to me!}

I love this photo of my parents:

my parents at reception

This is classic my dad — putting bunny ears on Gramps! Haha.

bunny ears on gramps

So happy to get to spend time with my handsome brother:

me and Greg wedding reception

When cocktail hour wound down, we all headed into the hotel ballroom for the reception. The food was delicious: Mom, Allyn and I opted for the filet mignon, garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus, and Dad and Greg had salmon with a blackberry glaze and wild rice and green beans. YUM! After heartfelt toasts to the bride and groom, we had a blast dancing the night away. My family is so much fun on the dance floor, making up goofy moves. My mom especially is a dancing fool¬†at weddings … it’s a side of her I don’t otherwise see except at wedding receptions, and I absolutely love it! She is the cutest.

Before the night was over, we made sure to snap some more pictures. I love this one of me and Gramps:

me and Gramps wedding reception

And this one with my sweetheart, who was so wonderful meeting my big crazy family:

me and al wedding reception

Woodburn family photo, take 2:

wedding reception family pic

And of course the night wouldn’t be complete without a silly photo bomb from Pops! Haha, I love this one:

dad photobomb

The weekend went by much too quickly, but it was jam-packed with fun! What a blessing to have so many of the people I love together in the same place.

Congrats Julie + Chris! We love you and are so happy and excited for your new life together as husband and wife! ‚̧

Questions of the day:

  • What was the last wedding you went to?
  • What is your favorite thing about going to a wedding?

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.

20140422_113240

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?

 

mexico vacation recap

Mexico was absolutely beautiful.

mexico sunset

It was a relaxing week spent talking and laughing with my mom’s family. I ate tons of fresh seafood, lounged in the sand reading good books, and sampled all kinds of margaritas {including coconut!} Every morning I went for an hour-long power walk on the beach with my mom and my aunt … such a fun workout! I feel so grateful that I got to go on this getaway with my wonderful relatives. It was the perfect pre-holiday battery recharger.

beaching
DSC00016 DSC00026 DSC00035 DSC00046

Hope you’re having a wonderful Wednesday! ūüôā

Questions of the morning:

  • What has been a memorable vacation you’ve taken?
  • What is a dream vacation spot for you?

year of kindness challenge: week 47

year of kindness button

Hola from Mexico! I found a spotty bit of wi-fi access in our hotel lobby so I am hoping I’ll be able to post this real quick before heading back out to the beach with my fam. {A longer recap of our trip with pictures is coming upon our return home!}

This past week’s kindness challenge was to reach out to someone who is going through a tough time and just listen.¬†Often my first impulse is to try to “fix” things, but I’m trying to re-train myself to just listen. Sometimes when you’re sad the best medicine is a kind listening ear. I reached out to a friend who has been a little down lately and it felt good just to be there for her. I hope it helped her feel better to talk things through.

The Week 47 Kindness Challenge is to brighten someone else’s Thanksgiving. Here are some ideas: volunteering to bring Thanksgiving meals to the less fortunate; extending an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner to an acquaintance who is alone; sending cards of love and thanks to your far-flung family and friends; or all of the above!

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn AT gmail DOT com.

Have a wonderful week! I’m off to go boogie-boarding with my mom. ūüôā
– Dallas

P.S.: Head on over to this Year of Kindness Challenge page to see all the archived posts from the previous 46 weeks!

Question of the day:

  • What kindnesses happened in your life this past week?
  • What are your plans for Thanksgiving?

happy mother’s day!

I feel so blessed that I am able to celebrate my sweet, kind, beautiful, brilliant mama today!

me and mama

We went for a morning walk at the beach, and now are relaxing on the couch. Later I’m making chili & corn muffins for dinner and pb cup¬†brownies for dessert. Oh, and I whipped up some apple-cinnamon-oatmeal muffins for breakfast this week. YUM!

apple oatmeal muffins

I hope it’s a restful, peaceful day for my mom — she deserves it! She works a full-time job managing her department at work, and my whole life she has been a living example that it is possible for women to have fulfilling careers AND be amazing, full-time mothers too! She is not just my mom, she is my best friend. We have shared so many fun memories, from hiking Mt. Whitney together when I was in high school to driving cross-country together when I moved to Indiana for grad school — plus innumerable shopping trips, girl talks, chick flicks, and lunch dates! I know I can call her anytime and she will always be there for me. I love you, Mom!

What are you doing to celebrate the mothers in your life today? Whatever your plans, I hope your day is marvelous!