Romance at The Ranch

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Disclosure: Complimentary media stay provided to facilitate this review. 

Every year my husband and I make it a goal to get away in November to celebrate our anniversary. The time together alone, no kids, is magical. It’s one of the highlights of my entire year. To have extended, uninterrupted hours to talk, relax and reconnect is like fuel for the marriage tank.

In the years when we have only one or two nights for a getaway, staying close to home is best for maximum relaxation time and living in Orange County, we are pretty darn lucky to have a large number of phenomenal destinations to chose from.

Back in August we were lucky enough to able to stay at The Ranch at Laguna Beach as a family of four and enjoyed all the amazing family-friendly activities available for guests.

Click here to read my post about staying at The Ranch at Laguna Beach as a family.

When we were deciding where we wanted to go for our 15 year anniversary, I thought The Ranch would be the perfect spot.  We got married in Laguna Beach, so the town holds special memories for us, and I couldn’t wait to experience The Ranch as a romantic Laguna Beach hotel.  If you are looking for a staycation spot to celebrate Valentine’s Day or a special event with your sweetie, here’s a little taste of what could be in store for you…

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We dropped the girls off at school and headed down on a beautiful Friday morning. I was giddy with excitement. Swim suit. Check. Dress for dinner. Check. New book to dive into. Check.

R & R was all that was on the agenda and I couldn’t wait.

We requested early check in and as luck would have it, our room was ready so we could get settled into our cozy king Cabin Room where a bottle of bubbly was there to greet us. Time to uncork the champs!

Total travel time to champagne? About 45 minutes total. That’s the best thing about a staycation close to home!

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The Ranch, which just celebrated its grand opening end of last year, exudes classic, Laguna Beach elegance. From decor to amenities, the resort spared no detail when it comes to guests’ comfort.

– Keurig coffee makers

– Microwave

– Fridge

– Comfortable robes

– Daily paper delivery of paper of choice

– Complimentary Wi-fi

– USB ports bedside

– Complimentary parking and valet

– And my personal favorite, NO ADDITIONAL RESORT FEE. Yes!

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We were lucky to get some warmer than usual November temperatures in Laguna so we spent the rest of the afternoon lazing around the charming pool, The Pond, where cushioned lounge chairs and signature cocktails await.

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Adjacent to The Pond is the Sycamore Spa, which was in the final phase of completion when we stayed so we were unable to take advantage of a treatment. I am happy to report, it is open now and in February, locals can visit the Sycamore Spa and receive 15% off a 60-minute Couples’ Massage and also receive a takeaway spa amenity!

Super sweet Valentine’s Day gift.

sycamorespa1 photo credit: The Ranch

After a few hours at the the pool we decided to try our skills at the bocce ball court. Hubby kicked my booty. That game is harder than it looks!

I love the comfortable feel of The Ranch. Zero pretension. The property makes you feel right at home.

bocceball
The evening was so beautiful we decided to walk across the street hand-in-hand to catch the sunset.  It’s an easy 5 – 7 minute walk to the beach, but the resort does have golf carts available you can call for rides.

Nothing more romantic than sunset at the beach, and how often do you have the chance to watch a sunset with your love?

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That evening we were ecstatic to dine at the just-opened Harvest restaurant, which is one of the most stunningly beautiful dining spots in OC.  The decor is grand, but comfortable at the same time with a modern clubhouse type of feel…the type of place where you can sit by the fire, belly up to the bar or nestle into a dining table and stay awhile.

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Harvest restaurant and bar celebrates California cuisine with farm-to-table dishes that change with the seasons. The chef integrates fresh herbs, fruits, vegetables, many of which are grown on property in the half-acre Harvest Garden.

Click here for a sample menu and if you go for dinner, order the crispy Brussel Sprouts with sweet chili sauce, pecans, green apple and radicchio. Best we have ever had!

Harvest is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. If you are local, make your reservations now. You will fall in love.

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photo credit: The Ranch

Our dinner service was impeccable, and we giggled over another class of champagne as we toasted our 15 years.

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We were back the next morning for a glorious breakfast al fresco where we watched a family of deer grazing on the greens as we dined.

Can you spot them? You have to look close….

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One of the best things about The Ranch is its location. You are so close to all the hustle and bustle of PCH, Main Beach, and its restaurants and shops, yet when you pull down the drive to go back ‘home’ to The Ranch you enter a completely different world.

On Saturday night we decided to Uber into town and dine at The Deck, which is now a restaurant, but 15 years ago the property was a private wedding venue where we said our vows.

So many memories came rushing back when we got seated at our table, essentially in the exact same spot we got married!

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After dinner, we found ourselves at a local dive bar dancing to an 80’s cover band like we were kids in our 20’s again. SO. MUCH. FUN.

After a deliriously good night’s sleep in our comfortable bed, we headed up to Ben’s Pantry at The Ranch for breakfast, which is their grab-and-go cuisine for seat yourself patio dining.

Latte. Breakfast burritos. Morning paper. This view.

Perfection.

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After breakfast we took a walk over to the beach and walked for a long stretch up to Treasure Island.

I forget just how gorgeous these beaches are but was reminded when I noticed the large number of tourists walking the path. People that likely traveled long distances to visit Laguna Beach. And, here we are, able to come and take a staycation in one of the most beautiful locations in California.

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It was an AMAZING weekend and The Ranch was the perfect spot to recharge and reminisce, the quintessential romantic Laguna Beach hotel.  If you are looking for a local spot to share a special time with your significant other, make your reservations now.

Month of February Romance Specials at The Ranch:

Book your romantic getaway in the month of February 2017 and resort credit applies towards resort activities:

Make a one-night reservation and receive a $50 resort credit

Stay 2 or more nights and receive $100 resort credit

 Based on availability. Visit website for restrictions. Click here to reserve.

February 2017 Specials for Locals:

Sycamore Spa:  

1 – 60 minute Couples massage at 15% Receive takeaway spa amenity

Golf: 

Couples Golf Tourney

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

Tee times available 10-11:30am

Price $150/couple to ride $120 to walk. Includes greens fee, electric cart, $50 F&B credit, 2 sleeves of Vivid balls and prize eligibility. Participants also get 20% off merchandise that day.

 Prizes offered:

·         a “One-night romance package for two, 2nd place:  60 minute Couples Spa treatment

·         Closest to the Pin winners – 2 free rounds of golf

·         Highest Score – free one hour couples lesson

February Golf Specials

·        Couples Golf Lessons – 20% off couples introductory golf lessons

           ·         $128 for 1 hour couples lesson (takes place at the range and putting green)

           ·         $224 for 5 hole playing lesson, 30-min intro at the range and play holes 6-9 on your own

For more information:

www.theranchlb.com

Follow The Ranch for specials and news:
facebook.com/TheRanchLagunaBeach
twitter.com/TheRanchLB
instagram.com/TheRanchLB
pinterest.com/theranchlb

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Gift Ideas for Girls Under $50

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* all links in this post are amazon affiliate links *

‘Tis the season for shopping and since I know a thing or two about what girls are into having two myself, I wanted to share some gift ideas for girls under $50. Yep, no gift on this gift guide is over $50 and all these items can be bought on Amazon Prime, which is my best friend during the holidays and all year round.

12 Gift Ideas for Girls Under $50

(ages 7 – 12)

giftideasforgirlsunder50

My girls are ages 7 and 10, so we can assume these are gift ideas for girls ages approximately 7 – 12. My girls are into arts, crafts, selfies, Musical.ly, putting on endless “shows”, reading and recently have found a new obsession with baking.

Serafina and the Black Cloak


Someone shared about this book its series on Facebook as excellent books for my oldest daughter’s age (10) and recommended it as a book we can both read and discuss.  I love to read so I thought we would give this series a try. The reviews are excellent.

 iPad Mini 2 Case

Girls are asking Santa for an iPad Mini 2 this Christmas and one of his elves told me they scored them at the Costco in Tustin for $199 (steal of a price, best I can find).  If they are lucky enough to get one, this case came highly recommended.  Nice to be able to stand it up and the stand then also doubles as a handle.

Emoji Pillows

So silly. The girls love these. Browse around for different options of Emojis. This one though, is my fave.

Funny story I have to share about emojis. My 7-year old was using the pile o’ poop one a lot and I had to talk to her and tell her that I really didn’t care for the poop because it wasn’t really appropriate and she FLIPPED out. She was so upset.  Turns out that the whole time she thought it was chocolate. LOL

Plush Craft

One of my girlfriends told me her daughter LOVES these different Plush Crafts so I got two different pillows for both my daughters. Looks like a fun holiday break craft.  I got my youngest the cupcake, and my oldest a Monogram one where you can do your first initial. Cute.

Echo Dot

My girls are her friends make up shows and dances to be preformed for the adults ALL. THE. TIME. The Echo Dot is a hands-free voice-controlled device with a built in speaker which I thought would be perfect for them.  So now instead of having to endure  music from an old iPhone, the Echo Dot bluetooth speaker is going to come in VERY handy. Plus the adults will now at least get to enjoy Justin Bieber with better acoustics.

American Girl Baking Cookbook

The girls and I got hooked on this cute show over Thanksgiving called the Kids Baking Championship on the Food Network which inspired them to start baking. So far they have mastered brownies, snickerdoodles and this week, a pretty darn tasty chocolate chip cookie. It’s nice to also have a real cookbook to use instead of going online for recipes, so I thought this cookbook would be fun for them. Great reviews, and anything Williams-Sonoma does is good with me.

Tabletop Selfie Stick and Tripod with Remote


Is anyone else a little concerned with the amount of narcissistic kids we may be raising as a result of the Selfie Generation? Me neither. Hee hee. So why not let them take it a step further with this tripod that also can be a selfie stick AND has a remote so the girls can position themselves for their next Musical.ly production and hit record with the push of a button.

Sip by S’well Insultated Water Bottle


Obsessed with my S’well bottle, it goes everywhere that I go, and I love this line Sip by S’well which has fun designs for the kiddos. This lemons on pink design is too cute.

Set of 48 Brand New Sharpies


The girls do art and are constantly coloring and crafting and there is nothing, I mean nothing better than a brand spanking new set of Sharpies, am I right? Love the 80s Glam and Electro Pop shades.

Wits and Wagers

Our family loves this game!!! It’s a great family game, and great game even just for adults.

 Mermaid Tail Blanket with Matching Doll Tail

Cozy Minky fabric made into a mermaid tail blanket? Can you even stand the cuteness? This one even comes with a free side one girls can use for their dolls. Lots of cute colors. Love.

Espresso Kids Floor Easel


By far one of the toys we have gotten the most milage out of is this floor easel.  I love that the easel is somewhat tasteful and blends into our living room. Hours of time spent drawing on this, especially when the girls play school.

Happy shopping mamas!

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10 Affordable Holiday Photo Card Sites

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disclosure: all links in this post are affiliate links

Now I know some of you were on your game this year and might even have your holiday cards already in the mail (good for you).

For the rest of us, I wanted to share 10 affordable holiday photo cards websites to check out this holiday season. Hint: Get on the ball and order them soon because most all of these sites have major sales and holiday card promo codes right now. Here are 10 sites and designs I picked, will list in order of most affordable based on the designs that caught my eye. But make sure you browse around the sites too, because most have a good variety of designs and affordable price points.

Affordable Holiday Photo Cards

Prices listed for the design shown are for a sample 100 card order.

 Zazzle ($0.62 ea)

Click here to get to Zazzle holiday cards

It was fun for me to find that Zazzle, an amazing website for customizable gifts (think bags, iPhone cases, pillows, aprons, I mean you NAME it!) also has a fab line of holiday photo cards. For a steal!

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Target ($0.99 ea)

Click here to see Target’s holiday cards and affordable pricing

target-card

Storkie ($1.09 ea)

Click here to get to Storkie holiday cards

I loved this recycled postcard…

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Tiny Prints ($1.14 ea)

Click here to get to Tiny Prints holiday cards

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 Tiny Prints is a long time favorite of many, for good reason. Their Studio Basics designs are the most affordable holiday photo cards and are also super cute.

I had to show this design too even though, a little more pricey. Just fell in love with the barn door…

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Pinhole Press ($1.49 ea)

Click here to get to Pinhole Press holiday cards

Pinhole Press is a fun find, offering beautifully simple photo cards, I loved their different collection of collage photo cards too.

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Minted ($1.65 ea)

Click here to get to Minted holiday photo cards

I have been a long time fan and customer of Minted and once again, will be ordering my cards through Minted again this year.

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I love Minted also offers matching FREE designed envelopes and FREE recipient address printing.
Here is just one example of their cute envelope designs.  And again, it’s free!

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Paper Culture ($1.74 ea)

Click here to get to Paper Culture holiday photo cards

Modern, eco-friendly cards and for every order, Paper Culture plants a tree.  Tons of cool new designs this year.

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PurpleTrail ($1.89 ea)

Click here to get to PurpleTrail holiday cards

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Artifact Uprising ($2.20 ea)

Click here to get to Artifact Uprising holiday cards

Now this probably falls outside of the “affordable” range, but seriously, I just loved this one!

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The site offers the most beautiful photo gifts for pretty much everyone on your list.  Beautiful photo books, Instagram books, calendars, and more.

Thanks for looking and happy holiday photo card designing! 

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Minted Giveaway!

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[Disclosure: All  links in post are affiliate links + I received complimentary cards. 100% my own opinions. Minted is my fave.]

Minted Giveaway 2016

MY MINTED GIVEAWAY 2016 IS OPEN NOW AND ENDS 12/3/16

- – – >   All you have to do is CLICK HERE and enter your email address  to enter   < – – -

I am a minted.com fanatic when it comes to their holiday card selection, user-friendly ordering system and unique designs from around the globe. This is my fourth year ordering my cards from minted and every year I continue to marvel at the new products continually added for the holidays! This post today is all about how to create your perfect Minted holiday card along with a special Minted giveaway where three winners have the chance to win a $100 Minted credit to put towards your holiday card or gift order. Oh, JOY!

minted giveaway 2016

So before I get started on why I love Minted’s holiday cards, I want to make sure you enter to win $100. All you have to do is CLICK HERE and enter your email address.

Did you do it? Awesome. Now let me tell you a little about why I love ordering my holiday cards through minted!

Black Friday Deal!

Minted’s best deals of the year are going on for Black Friday (extended to 11/27) and includes 20% off all holiday card, gift and art orders of $150 or more or 15% off all orders. Use code BF2016.

Minted “Find It Fast” Feature

By far, my favorite feature of designing holiday cards with Minted is their “Find it Fast” feature, which allows you to filter your holiday card design search depending on different parameters like number of photos, type of card, photo orientation, price, etc. Then, click “On” at the bottom for the Find It Fast feature, and it will populate your photo(s) into a ton of different designs.

I can’t tell you how much this  cuts down on the time spent selecting a design! You can actually see your photo in all the different ones to quickly sift through and find the ones that work.

mintedfinditfastfeature

The Personalization Options are Endless!

When you see a design(s) you like, select “personalize” and you will be taken to a screen where you can further customize your card.

Many of the designs have different color options you can try on, different border choices, zoom options, font choices and options to edit text or wording.  I heart options.  Make sure to keep clicking “save” so you can save some favorites to share for opinions if you wish.

minted personalization

On to the Back!

Once the front of the card is complete, you should be  ready to print, right? WRONG! Minted gives you a ton of personalization and customization options on the back too!

Did you have a hard time choosing a favorite photo for the front? Add some photos on the back! Want to share a few highlights from 2016? Add some text! So many fun choices to make your card special.

mintedbackers

The Envelope Please…

But folks, there’s more! Now comes the envelope!

Minted’s Address Assistant and FREE recipient envelope printing is another HUGE benefit to choosing Minted to print your holiday cards. The matching envelope elegance just puts their designs over the top!

A few years back I entered in all my recipient addresses so now when I order my cards, my friends and family’s names come printed FOR FREE in a darling matching design on the envelopes!  Do you know what this means?  I no longer have to get in a fight with my computer printer while attempting to print my own labels! Hallelujah!

After the envelope is gussied up, your design is complete! This year they even have matching POSTAGE designs! Wow.

mintedenvelopes

Our Family’s 2016 Holiday Card

When scrolling through all the designs, this design grabbed me. I love the “Love is All Around” wording, because of the love we have experienced from so many people this year with loss of my beautiful mom.  Love truly has been all around us.

Happy Holidays from my family to yours this season and I hope you have the opportunity to design your own Minted holiday card. Good luck on the giveaway!

love is all around

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New Year, New Home Update?

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This article is in partnership Remodel Works Bath & Kitchen

As a homeowner, there comes a time when you notice certain rooms in your home are looking a little, well, outdated. If visions of a new year remodel are dancing in your head this holiday season, I hope this post gives you some design inspiration as you plan your new years home resolutions.

The first areas to show signs of aging are usually the kitchen and bath, where outdated materials can tell the tale of days gone by. Home improvements like new cabinets, fixtures and countertops can make a dramatic difference and bring you back to the current day.

Keeping your home updated can also be a smart investment, and the kitchen and bath deemed are wise choices when prioritizing. A minor bathroom remodel came in #1 with a minor kitchen remodel following at #3 in this HGTV article on the top 15 home updates that add value to your home.

kitchen bath remodel

Remodel Works Bath & Kitchen

San Diego-based Remodel Works Bath & Kitchen specializes in bath and kitchen renovation. This family-owned and operated business has been creating beautiful living spaces for more than 33 years.

Offering their clients unique services such a dedicated project manager, day-to-day schedule with exact start and completion dates and a 5-year workmanship warranty, Remodel Works helps take the anxiety out of remodeling so you can focus on the exciting aspect of your stunning end result.

Here are some before and after photos of recent Remodel Works projects I loved when checking out their gallery online.  You won’t believe the dramatic differences! Let’s start with two of their kitchens.

A Transitional Kitchen Design

Here’s the first before photo. A rather uninspiring kitchen, right?

before

before2

And afters!

after

after2

Transitional design is one of the fastest growing choices when doing a kitchen remodel.  A transitional design marries the warmth of traditional design with the clean, simple lines of contemporary style.  Transitional spaces project balance and harmony.

And gray is the new white when it comes to kitchens and I love the contrast of the charcoal countertops with the white cabinets and subway tile. Un-cluttered, striking and beautiful.

A Modern Farmhouse Kitchen Design 

Here is another example of a kitchen before Remodel Works came in. Kitchen design has sure come a long way since then…

before4

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And the afters!

This beautiful kitchen embodies many of the current trends in kitchen design: transitional and farmhouse.

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Once again, it is transitional, blending traditional warmth with contemporary elements.

In combination, the shaker style cabinets, retention of the cozy hardwood floors, farmhouse sink, wooden barstools and dining table make this this a modern farmhouse style kitchen.

One I wish were mine. Sigh…

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New Year, New Home

My husband is going to be really bummed I worked on this post because I am typing this in our outdated kitchen and have a lot of new ideas with what kind of updates we could do! Time to start planning ahead, and budgeting. Will you all help me with choices if he gives us the green light to proceed? Wish me luck!

In the meantime, for more information on Remodel Works Bath & Kitchen visit www.remodelworks.com.

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