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…


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!


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!


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.


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.

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?


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.


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.


photo credit: The Ranch

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


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….


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!


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.



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.


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


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:

Follow The Ranch for specials and news:

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Labor Day Weekend in Orange County

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The last official summer weekend is here so I wanted to share some fun things you can do with the family this Labor Day weekend in Orange County!

What better way to send off summer than by spending it at one of OC’s best kid-friendly beaches?

Here are our readers’ favorites.

The Aliso Viejo Aquatic Center Pool is open to both residents & non. Took my girls there last week and they loved it! Great facility for all ages, including a splash pad and baby pool.

San Clemente Aquatics Center is also supposed to be fabulous; open 1pm – 5pm.

My girlfriend raves about Buccaneer Bay Water Park in La Mirada.  Meant to make it there this summer and never got around to it, but she said it is a ton of fun.

Here is a great list of OC Splash Parks by Just Spotted.  The post is over a year old, so make sure to check to make sure it is operational before you pack up the kids to go!

Here are 29 of my favorite things to do with my kids in OC!

Check out Plan a Day Out to seek and find fun activities for kids and families in Orange County. One of the best resources for fun outing ideas EVER. Gazillion ideas.

In the mood for a picnic?  Here are my family’s five favorite OC parks.

Ever been to the Orange International Street Fair?  It’s an OC tradition for over 30 years and SO much fun. But it will be toasty, dress cool and hydrate!

What’s a summer holiday weekend without a GREAT BBQ?

Kick yours off with a fun summer cocktail, Ranch Water. Yee haw!

Throw another shrimp on the bar-bee with these yummy sweet and smokey shrimp skewers.

Going to a neighborhood party? Bring this healthy, patriotic fruit flag, sure to be a hit with both the kids!

Chill out with this special homemade popsicle treat for the kiddos.

Have the best weekend everyone!  And make sure to check out the blue moon tonight – the next one won’t be until July 2015!

See you back next week!

xoxo Jen

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3 Less Obvious Reasons for Hair Extensions [Giveaway]

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Most of us can probably think of the obvious reasons why an OC mom would want to consider getting hair extensions. Just the word “hair extensions” conjures up images of celebrities with long, flowing, va va voom type of locks. You know, the type of tresses most of us would love to have, but most of us aren’t blessed with naturally? But when talking to local hair stylist, Tera Rae Stephens, an Orange County hair extensions specialist at Tek Salon in Costa Mesa, she mentioned that many women now days are opting to get hair extensions for other not so obvious reasons.

Ever been curious to try them?  Tera is GIVING away some below ~ make sure to enter!

Here is what Tera shared about why some of her clients are choosing her Hot Heads hair extensions

 “Extensions can be used to add highlights and lowlights without the commitment of a chemical service.

Using extensions in a different color can add dimension, texture and depth without damaging the hair like color could. This is my client Kim. We added some light brown and caramel pieces to change up her color.  It adds a fun “pop!” and took 10 minutes in the salon rather than 2 hours and the cost is only $100.”

“This is my client Nancy.

Nancy isn’t the typical extensions client, she decided to try extensions because her own hair was thinning.  As we age, our hair loses its vitality and can become thinner and less youthful looking.  Extensions can be worn shorter, with the purpose of adding volume.  They are fantastic on her!”

“Another lesser known reason women are choosing hair extensions is for growing back hair after chemo. My client Lesa couldn’t wait to have her hair back so she could feel more herself again after her treatment for breast cancer. She started wearing Hot Heads extensions as soon as her hair was long enough.  She wore them for an entire year as her own hair grew back in.  She is now cancer-free and rocks her own locks!”

Here was her first round of Hot Heads:

And after her second round of hair:

Thanks Tera for sharing!

But for whatever reason you might choose to explore getting hair extensions, if the end result is a more confident YOU, that is reason enough!

For more info:
Watch Tera on Fox 5 San Diego demonstrating how Hot Heads hair extensions work.
Tera on Facebook ~ Tera on Twitter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Montage Beverly Hills: An Unparalleled Urban Retreat

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It’s no secret that I love Orange County.  I love it so much that I rarely leave my little Orange Bubble by the beach.

However, last month I had the opportunity to visit the elegant Montage Beverly Hills and it was a great reminder of how exciting it is to venture out of the Bubble every now again to experience a destination so close to home, but one that feels like an entirely different, glamorous world.

This unparalleled urban retreat was a welcome escape for us after all of the end of the year hoopla. Twenty-four glorious hours to relax with my husband, sans kiddos. Pure heaven.

We left the Bubble early on a Saturday morning, a little after 9am.  At that time, there was no traffic and we were pleasantly surprised to be pulling into our destination in under an hour. Easy peasy.

Tucked smack in the middle of what is known as the “Golden Triangle,” the part of Los Angeles with its center at Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, the property is just steps away from world famous shopping and dining.

Everything about this property is simply lovely. From the moment you step foot in the lobby, every detail is just exquisite.

The entry floral display alone nearly took my breath away.

But I have to say, the loveliest part of Montage Beverly Hills is the people who work there.

From the greeting at the valet to the front desk associate to the housekeeper in the hall, everywhere you go, you are greeted with the warmest smile and feel like you are a guest in someone’s home. Their unique hospitality makes you never want to leave.

Other properties should take lessons from Montage as they truly have perfected the art of impeccable service.

After our friendly check in, we were shown to our room, a spacious Junior Suite featuring 625 square feet of relaxation space.

All the suites feature a patio overlooking the Beverly Canon Gardens, which is a lovely lawn area with fountains, benches and greenery. The perfect spot to enjoy a cup of coffee and morning paper.

The view from our room was stunning. The architectural dome outside our window made me feel like I was staying in a luxury European hotel, and here I was, only one hour away from home.

[Photo credit: Montage]

Comfort, elegance and details are the words that come to mind when describing the accommodations.

After taking in the view, one of the first things I noticed was the bed pillow ~ on it was a beautifully monogrammed “S”.  Hmmmm…

Then it hit me, “S” is the first letter of our last name. The pillow was for us. I had to ask the woman that showed us to our room, do you do a monogrammed pillow for EVERY guest?

The answer, “yes.”

And details like this are what make Montage Resorts so very special.

And do they ever have the details covered to ensure you have the most delightful, comfortable stay!

His and her sinks in the bathroom, plush robes and slippers, flat screen TV over the bathtub, remote controlled shades, delicious bath products, complimentary Wifi, morning paper delivery, and my favorite, a mini bottle of complimentary champagne upon arrival. It really doesn’t get better than this.

After hubby and I had a little celebratory champagne we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and head up to the rooftop pool.

[Photo credit: Montage]

When you step out onto the rooftop and drink in the panoramic views of the Hollywood Hills, you feel like you are on top of the world. Literally.

The mosaic-tiled saline swimming pool and spacious Jacquzzi are flanked by chic cabanas and plush chaise lounge chairs which invite you to relax and stay awhile.

After settling in with our reading material, we looked at each other and said, “This is the life!”

For poolside fare, guests can order fresh California cuisine from The Conservatory Grill and dine leisurely in your chaise or opt to eat in the adjacent dining space. With choices like local halibut tacos, blackened salmon, harvest kale salad and flatbread specialities, it was hard to come to a decision. However, the BLT chicken wrap turned out to be a mouth-watering good choice!

After a few hours at the pool it was time for me to head to the 20,000 square foot Spa for a massage. Just when I thought life couldn’t possibly get any better, I couldn’t believe the experience waiting for me at the Spa. To be continued…

Now it is no secret that a luxury hotel like Montage comes with the accompanying price tag, but for a special occasion with your family, husband or a group of girlfriends, if you are looking for a property to splurge and live the good life, Montage is truly unparalleled.

Better yet, no flight needed! This unique city retreat is only a short drive from OC, and between the fabulous dining options, expansive spa and serene pool, I didn’t even want to leave.

But with its amazing location, you can easily walk the door to enjoy all of the local attractions that make Beverly Hills so famous.

For more information on staying at Montage Beverly Hills, visit or call 888.860.0788. Stay up to date on the latest by following Montage Beverly Hills on Facebook and tweet with @MontageBH on Twitter.

[Disclosure: I received the stay complimentary to facilitate this review. Thank you Montage for the dreamy experience! Photos in first graphic above provided by Montage.]


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Family Fun at the Fairmont Newport Beach

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By now you all know that I love Orange County.

I especially love raising a family in OC, and with so many incredible family-friendly hotels, attractions and of course, our beaches, there truly is a vacation waiting for us right here where we live all year round!

Recently the Fairmont Newport Beach contacted me to share a great family package called 4 for $400 they have going on this summer, along with their fun kids’ programs and my family was invited to come and stay to check it out!

Kicking off Father’s Day weekend, we surprised my husband when he got home from work.  Bags were packed and we told him we were off for a little getaway!  When we arrived the valet attendant gave us a warm welcome and immediately handed us information on the Fairmont Newport Beach’s Sunny’s Kids Klub and told the girls if they spotted Sunny the Sea Lion somewhere in the lobby there would be a special treat for them!

Their eyes lit up – quite a fun way to start the vacation!

After checking in and a Sunny spotting (I won’t give away his location), we went to our gorgeous room.

Included in the 4 for $400 package is a one bedroom suite for 2 nights.  The one bedroom suites feature a separate bedroom with king bed (and TV), and the living room includes a pull out sofa and/or rollaway bed.

The room was SO COMFORTABLE for our family. I have to say, staying in a room with a separate bedroom makes for a very nice hotel experience when traveling with small children. My husband and I were able to stay up later and watch TV in our “room” while the girls slept.

Highlights / favorite features of our one bedroom suite:

* Room to breathe and spread out

* Separate sleeping quarters from the kids

* Complimentary in-room Keurig Coffee Maker

* Morning paper delivery

* Bottled waters by bed

* DVD player in room (Pack some movies for the kids! Wish we would have!)

* Comfy robes and slippers

* Kid-sized robes. I can’t TELL you how awesome it is to have kid-sized robes! So perfect for the after-swimming shower.  They are available upon request.

* Salt water taffy at the turndown service.

* Quiet room.

Pool Time Fun at the Palms Pool & Cabanas

The Palms Pool & Cabanas is a cool rooftop location on the 3rd flanked by a fire pit and ultra-comfortable cushioned lounge chairs.

The pool staff really catered to the kids. Come mid-day, the staff would bring out all kinds of water toys for them to play with…inflatables, dive toys, water noodles, the works!

During the summer months, you can find live music by the pool on Friday and Saturdays from 5pm – 9pm.  Nothing says vacation like a steel drum band and a summer cocktail!

A summer dining menu is also available with poolside service.  GREAT service may I add. Makes such a different when the staff is attentive and friendly.

All throughout the property there is also a FAB kid menu with super reasonable prices.  From hot dogs to grilled salmon to whole grain pasta and pizza, there is a little something for every tiny palate.

While we were visiting the pool was under a slight facelift, so the cabanas were down, but I am told brand new ones are going to be put in this weekend, along with cool new lounge style furniture as well.

bambu restaurant 

Also included in the 4 for $400 package is a daily buffet breakfast for 2 adults and 2 children.  When dining with two young kids there is nothing I love more than a buffet, so you can sit down and then go and get your food quickly! Especially in the mornings with the kids tend to be the hungriest! The food was delicious and they had coloring activity booklets and crayons, along with kid cups with lids for the girls. We also had a delightful dinner in the bambu lounge Saturday night for dinner.

Sunny’s Kids Klub 

During the summer, Sunny’s Kids Klub at the Fairmont Newport Beach gives children 5 – 12 a place to go and play while parents enjoy a little R & R.

Activities include crafts, games, cookie decorating, interactive classes, and even an inflatable bounce house located on one of the property tennis courts!

Sunny’s Kids Klub is available Friday and Saturday, 10am – 4pm in June and Thursday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm July through Labor Day. Price is $30/child and includes lunch and a snack.  Reservations can be made through the concierge.

Kids’ Night Out!  Sunny’s is also available every Friday and Saturday night from 6pm  – 10pm and includes games, movies & popcorn, pizza and an ice-cream sundae bar. Cost is $20/child, ages 5 -12. Reservations must be made through the concierge by 5pm.

What a great place to send the kids for a few hours so you and the hubby can enjoy a nice, leisurely relaxing dinner at bambu!

4 for $400 Package 

This package, designed for a family of four, includes:

* Overnight accommodations in a one bedroom suite for 2 nights.

* Daily Buffet for 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) in bambu restaurant.

* Roundtrip shuttle service to/from Disneyland, Orange County airport and Newport Beach.

* Milk and cookies bedtime treat. Yes, that is the REAL treat your kids will get to the right. Brown sugar sand castles, are you kidding me? They FLIPPED out!

* Complimentary valet parking for one vehicle ($28 value.)

In addition, the hotel also offers a full-service family concierge where you can purchase tickets to many attractions directly through the hotel.   In addition, there is also a hotel transportation schedule that goes to South Coast Plaza, Fashion Island, Balboa and Corona del Mar beach.

So, if you are looking for a super fun local getaway, or perhaps, you have friends or family visiting you this summer in Orange County, I highly recommend checking out all that the Fairmont Newport Beach has to offer.  With its close proximity to the airport, you certainly can’t get more convenient for out of town guests.

For more information on the 4 for $400 package click HERE.  Thank you to the Fairmont Newport Beach for the most amazing stay.  The staff went above and beyond to make us feel comfortable and welcomed.

[Disclosure: My family received the 4 for $400 package complimentary to facilitate this review. My opinions are, as always, 100% my own, honest, genuine ones!]

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