A Brunch and Spa Celebration at The Ranch

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Disclosure: Complimentary spa treatments provided to facilitate this review. 

One of the things I adored most about my mom was she loved to CELEBRATE life.

Birthdays, holidays, accomplishments, weddings, showers……events in life (big or small) did not pass her by. She made a point to make her family and friends feel special. Getting through my first birthday this year without my mom here to celebrate with was really rough.  So with my sister’s birthday on the horizon this past month I KNEW we had to do something awesome because it is what my mom would want.

I asked my sister what she would like to do to celebrate? She said she would love to go to brunch with girlfriends on her actual birthday (a Monday) and then a spa treatment after with whomever would be able to join.

As soon as she said that, I knew just the place to go for the best Orange County brunch and spa day, a place unlike any other, The Ranch at Laguna Beach. Invites were sent and a a reservation was made at their farm-to-table style restaurant, Harvest. The guests were going to be in for such a treat!

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Most of the women that attended were from Aliso Viejo, only a stone’s throw away from The Ranch, but the majority had not been to the property before. I watched their jaws drop upon arrival. The beauty of The Ranch truly does take your breath away. It is like being in another world.

We had a beautiful table inside overlooking the canyon and plenty of space to giggle a little too loud without disrupting guests :).

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Flowers are a passion of mine so I did little individual centerpieces for each friend to take home.

My favorite is to use the $1.00 mason jars from Michaels and as luck would have it, I also scored some cute white vases on clearance. I tied it with some cooking twine for a little farmhouse ranch flair and voila! instant party favors that double as centerpieces!

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Let me now talk about the food at Harvest. Because it was truly spectacular from start to finish with many of the Harvest ingredients garden grown right on the property.  Bright, fresh and delectable.To get your mouth watering, here is a glimpse of the breakfast menu….

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Our lovely server Sydney started the pretty birthday girl off with a little “appetizer” to share – one of the house specialities – the Applewood Smoked Bacon Cinnamon Roll.

If there is any reason to try Harvest for brunch, this is it.

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Every single item the women ordered was ooohhhhh’d and ahhhhhhh’d over to no end. From the gorgeous presentation to the unique flavor profiles, Harvest does Orange County brunch right.

orangecountybrunchfoodie Menu items top to bottom, left to right: Eggs Benedict, Shrimp and Grits, Applewood Smoked Bacon Cinnamon Roll, Avocado Toast

To spend a Monday morning laughing with good friends over mimosas and celebrating my sister was a true gift. These are the moments in life you cherish and The Ranch is the kind of place where memories like this are made.

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theranchbrunch Now unfortunately after brunch was over most of the women had to return to “real life.” Luckily my sister and I were able to continue the celebration with the help of our dad who agreed to watch the kids for the afternoon so we could visit the The Ranch’s Sycamore Spa.

When I called to make the appointments I was DELIGHTED to learn Sycamore Spa was running a 50% off spa services special Monday – Thursdays for locals!! 

Ladies, I believe this deal is running through the end of the month, so call and make an appointment if you can. It’s such an amazing deal for such a fabulous experience.

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Nestled down the hill from Harvest adjacent to the property pool, The Ranch’s Sycamore Spa awaits and paradise is calling. I love a quaint spa where you feel more like you are in someone’s home, which is exactly what you will find here with its comfy, coastal-chic decor.

There are both outside and inside relaxation areas where you can wait before or after your treatment.  It was such a gorgeous day we cozied into two plush lounge chairs and chatted to the sounds of the fountain while enjoying the gorgeous green canyon views.

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Now let me tell you about my treatment and Jake my massage therapist.

Wow.

Wow.

WOW.

Phenomenal.

Afterwards I asked him what sort of technique he used because it was really next level relaxation. He told me he has been practicing massage for over 10 years and recently has been studying a new technique called craniosacral therapy. He started to explain what it was in more detail, but it was too technical for my post-massage spa-brain. All I know is that I felt like a million bucks. I will be back.

If you go, take it from me – ask for Jake.

Overall, it was one of those “perfect” days you wish you could bottle. And I know we made my mom very happy because we felt her sparkling all over our celebration.

If you are looking for a special place to celebration a life event with an Orange County brunch and spa day, The Ranch is the perfect place. It doesn’t even have to call for a celebration, as going there is a celebration in itself.

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For more information or to make reservations visit:

www.theranchlb.com

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Rising Rates of Depression Amongst Teen Girls

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This article is sponsored by CHOC Children’s Hospital

The teenage years are a time in life unlike any other marked by new, fluctuating hormones, social pressures, and school stresses. These new situations can understandably cause kids to feel down or depressed at times. But for others the feelings of sadness or hopelessness can persist in a state of depression. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 20% of teenagers experience depression before reaching adulthood.

A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics found depression rates amongst teens stayed fairly stable from the years 2005 – 2011. However from 2012 to 2014 the rates of depression were on the rise for both boys and girls, with a more pronounced increase for teenage girls.

What is causing this increase? Is the advent of social media playing a role at putting more girls at risk for depression?

I am exploring this question, along with other extremely helpful information provided by Dr. Adrianne Alpern Ph.D. a child psychologist at CHOC Children’s Hospital on warning signs of depression in teens, symptoms and how to get help if you suspect your teenager might be depressed.

depression in teens

My daughter will be eleven soon and over the past year I have seen her evolve from a little girl into a blossoming tween where friends are paramount and Music.ly’s have taken the place of pretend play. She’s growing up.

And it terrifies me.

But why is the idea of having a teenager so scary? Growing up is part of life. We all have to go through it. Logically I know this. However, as I see the years of hovering under her at the big ladder at the park and holding her hand across every street slowly come to an end I also see my ability to protect her start to fade.

At the root of the fear is the loss of control.

Up until now it’s been my job as her mom to protect her and keep her out of harms way. When our babies are close to the nest we can watch them and keep them safe. But as she spreads her wings and starts to fly into the world without me I won’t be able to protect her in the same way.

Girls will hurt her feelings, disappointments will sting on a bigger scale, and pressures at school will build. All of which will be things completely out of my control.

My role as her mother is starting to change. 

Instead of trying to protect her from these hurts, my job will be to listen, support and encourage her to dust off her wings and try again.

More damage control versus prevention.

And it is my prayer that  she will be able to work through whatever hard times the teenage years hold for her.

But what happens when your teen has difficulty getting through a hard time? What happens when hurt feelings or disappointments turn into sad moods that last for weeks?

How do you know when a teen mood swing isn’t a swing at all, but could actually be an episode of depression?

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This week I had the opportunity to interview pediatric psychologist Dr. Adrianne Alpern Ph.D. about depression in teens which I am happy to share with you today as I feel it is extremely important information to have as parents.

Normal Teenage Moodiness vs. Depression

My first question was, “How do you know the difference between ‘normal’ teen moodiness and clinical depression?” Dr. Alpern highlighted the fact everyone feels sad or down sometimes and being sad is a normal part of the human experience. But an episode of depression differentiates in important ways and this is a simple way to remember possible warning signs of depression.

Depression is when feeling sad or disinterested in activities you used to enjoy lasts for:

– > Most of the day

– > More days than not

– > For two weeks or more

Say it with me moms…depression is when feeling sad or disinterested in enjoyable activities lasts for most of the day, more days than not, for two weeks or more. I will remember that, won’t you?

Some Other Symptoms of Depression in Your Teenager Could Include:

– > More or less sleep

– > Changes in appetite

– > Fatigue

– > Changes in concentration

– > Thoughts of being a “bad daughter” or “bad friend”

– > Changes in movement….moving either quicker or slower than normal

– > Thoughts of not wanting to be around anymore, wanting to disappear or die

Study Finds Depression Rates Increasing in Teenage Girls

A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics found depression rates amongst teens increased from 2012 – 2014 from 8.7% to 11%, and the rise in rates of depression was more pronounced in teenage girls.

Professionals theorize the use of social media could play a role in the increase in depression. Teenage girls are more likely to engage in social media and use it as a source of their self-esteem looking to others for validation or acceptance. Social media can unfortunately also be another avenue for bullying or social shaming.

Others suggest the economic downturn could have played a role in the way teens viewed the future. Or, maybe our evolving openness in the media with celebrities sharing their mental health struggles might encourage teens to be more apt to report their depression than in years past.

But regardless of the cause, the take away for us as parents though is the same – depression amongst teens is very real, and our girls are especially vulnerable. Teen depression is increasing and we need to be aware of it.

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What To Do If You Think Your Teen is Depressed

Dr. Alpern stressed parents know their teen the best. If you notice changes in your teen’s mood or behavior, there’s no reason to panic, but it is a sign to pay attention and start some conversations.

When talking to your teen, she emphasized how the most important thing we can do as parents is to listen. Sometimes it is easy to downplay teen struggles because many parents think “life is easy” for a teen. What on earth could be so stressful? They have no mortgage, food is on the table, they have a roof over their head, etc.

However, teenagers have legitimate stressors in life, many of which they are encountering for the first time, so it’s important to empathize and validate their feelings versus discounting them.

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If the sad or down moods persist and start to interfere with your child’s relationships with friends or family, school work, or