That view though.
Seriously, any vacation that includes views of the water I count as a favorite vacation.
And now, any vacation that includes Grey is super special. Because, seeing anything through the eyes of a little man who hasn't experienced these things before makes me melt into a puddle of happy goo.
At just ten weeks old Grey took his first official trip with mom + dad! We hadn't planned on traveling with him so young, but Mr. Charming's work set up a work event he needed to be at and it was taking place on Coronado Island in California. Our options were to A. Go with him, stay in a beautiful resort and take baby to see the beach or B. Leave me and baby at home, leaving me to mom it up on my own for 4 days.
We, of course, chose the former.
We stayed at the Loew's Coronado Bay Resort, and I must say, for health conscious travelers this is THEE place to stay on the island. It's beautiful expansive grounds make for a scenic place to get your steps in and the dining options allowed me to not have to wander to far off to find good eats while I was alone at the hotel with baby.
And check out the beds. Our king was heavenly and gave us a ton of space to sleep soundly with Mr. Charming, myself and baby in his travel co-sleeper. Although I didn't get to sleep as much as I would have wanted to in that glorious bed, the slow, sleepy mornings and post-lunch cuddles with baby made up for it.
The day that Mr. Charming worked, me and Grey did a little impromptu photo shoot in the room because the light was spectacular. After his morning bath, I strapped him in our baby carrier and wore him downstairs to find some yummy nosh.
There was a great little cafe on the grounds, where we also had breakfast and dinner as a family during our stay, and this little juice bar, Juice Therapy, had a delicious selection of fresh pressed juices and it was so Instagram photo-worthy I had to make a stop here.
Once we got some juice, Grey and I headed to the gift shop for some organic chocolate as a treat for mama. I chose a decadent Cherry Chocolate bar that I snacked on a bit as we perused the gift shops.
Aside from the eats we found at the hotel, you can check out the following gluten-free and dairy-free friendly nosh spots while on Coronado Island in sunny California.
Located at the Hotel Del Coronado, highlights include gorgeous views and an extensive salad, meat and seafood selection for the gluten- and dairy-free crowd.
Grass-fed, quality beef burgers in a trendy locale that offers gluten-free buns. A note: Frys are no cooked in a dedicated fryer, so skip the spuds and just enjoy the burger.
Waterfront views and gluten-free Italian make this a swoon-worthy date location.
Have you dined on Coronado Island? I would love to hear your favorite places to grab a bite or take in the views. We also hopped back over to the mainland to grab In n Out one night, because, YUM.
This past weekend I was in Los Angeles for a work event. Mr. Charming and I rented a darling home in Toluca Lake in a beautiful, peaceful neighborhood and explored many neighboring cities and beach towns on my time off.
I had one of the best Italian meals of my life, all gluten-free and vegan, and I had to share my top seven list of healthy eats in Studio City, CA where the crew and I spent a lot of our time while I was in town. Make sure to check out #1 to read about the best pasta in Hollywood.
1. Vitello's Italian Restaurant
About: After going through a drastic renovation to make it a modern piece of eye-candy in Studio City, Vitello's offers live entertainment (which was amazing) and delicious Italian options for gluten-free and non-GF foodies.
Favorite Selections: Hands down the gluten free Capellini. The freshest ingredients I've tasted on the West Coast. The gluten-free pasta was cooked to perfection, the olive oil was pure and clean, the tomatoes had a kick of spice, the large garlic cloves were divine and the basil was fresh and delicate. A 10+. My non-GF husband RAVED about the lasagna.
Location: 4349 Tujunga Ave, Studio City, CA 91604
We all have dreams and goals in life. Big, huge, life changing dreams - like the perfect job, marrying a great spouse, having beautiful and healthy children. You know, the big life dreams.
But then sometimes... we have silly dreams. Dreams, that when they come true, just bring us joy. Because they are fun, they are things that bring back good memories or make us feel warm & fuzzy. Those things. This post is about that kind of a dream.
Living and working in San Diego and Los Angeles for eight years I didn't do much of the touristy stuff. I only went to Seaworld when I performed there, I rarely actually relaxed on the beach unless we were throwing a party on it and I only visited T.V. studios if I had an audition. (Mr. Charming makes fun of my odd life in Hollywood all the time haha)... so when Mr. Charming and I planned to visit Burbank on our California coastline tour, I wasn't sure what there would be for us to do. And then I stumbled upon the Warner Brothers Studio website and then I knew EXACTLY what we had to do.
When I lived in California, I didn't have cable because - 21 years old and L.A. rent - and so I bought every season of Friends on DVD and that's what I watched. I wasn't home much. It was funny and comforting. I moved to L.A. all by myself and I fell in love with that cast of six. Growing up watching them hang in the famed Central Perk, falling in love and making their way in NY as I was making my way in L.A.
So, when I saw that Mr. Charming and I could visit Central Perk, it gave me the same giddy feeling I had when I was first living in Hollywood. Making my way all those years ago. And I knew I had to visit and sit my derriere upon that famous orange couch. Having met Jennifer Aniston (One of my favorite actresses, I attended one of her actor studio interviews), Matt Leblanc (met him twice, at an awards show and on Jay Leno) and Matthew Perry (sat with him at the MTV Awards) in my time working in Hollywood, you would think this wouldn't thrill me as much as the next guy. But oh, did it ever. I'm easy to please and like I said, silly dreams and all. You have to chase those too. Especially those. It just makes life more fun.
Also a big Gilmore Girls fan, I so just admitted that to thousands of people, cool. Whatever. I'm secure with it. I was ecstatic to see so much of the shows set still part of the tour. Mr. Charming and I got to visit Lorelai's house, Luke's diner and walk through the town square.
Being in Burbank just for the day, we didn't do much restaurant hopping, however, we did grab healthy Paleo sand which fixings at Gelson's Market in Burbank. Similar to Whole Foods, or other upscale market, they are good for splurging on vacation or for specialty items.
There are also food trucks EVERYWHERE in this area and throughout Hollywood. Especially around the studios since all of those working in the studios and on the lots need to grab a quick meal. Outside of Warner Brothers there was a Vegan Organic food truck and another healthy looking one - but I didn't want to risk it, so I headed to Gelson's.
After enjoying our fun-filled two hour tour (we also got to see all the memorabilia from Harry Potter! And got to wear the sorting hat - I got Gryffindor, what what! Mr. Charming got Hufflepuff, but I still love him just the same, haha.) we enjoyed lunch and made our way to Newport Beach to kick back at the beach house, exhausted and on cloud 9, ready to explore the eats and sights of another city!
What are some of the little dreams that you got to experience that just MADE YOUR DAY? :D I would love to hear your experiences and hear your happy moments! Leave it in the comments below!
“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
Since we were camping nearby in Santa Barbara on El Capitan State Beach, we thought we'd take a day trip up to Solvang. It was pure charm. When I was just a little girl, around the age of two, my mom brought me here. I visited again when I was six or so, when we brought my baby sister.
If you've ever been to Solvang, CA you will know that everyone who visits must take the obligatory Dutch shoe photo. I now have three of these photos. One at two. One at six. And now one at thirty one.
Solvang is a town that celebrates the culture of Denmark. The architecture, food and even it's residents, hail from the small European country and it transports you from the seaside to the charming historic city. I didn't have high hopes for finding gluten-free or paleo eats, so I had packed a lunch just in case, although I was pleasantly surprised!
When we arrived, full from a campfire breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon, we set out to shop. We found an adorable pet shop where we picked up some treats for our fur babies and spent most of the afternoon taking photos with the various buildings and windmills and taking in the cute trinkets at the giftshops.
One of our favorite shops was the toy shoppe! It had SO many toys from our childhood, including a Skip It, silly string, old Hot Wheels cars and collectible dollhouse items. We became big kids again and played in that store for quite a while.
We spent almost five hours in Solvang, which makes it worth a day trip, and started to get quite hungry abou halfway through our visit. I spotted some adorable cafes when we arrived and parked and told Mr. Charming I wanted to scope them out before I ate what I brought with, and I'm SO glad we did!
There were actually quite a few restaurants that offered allergen-free & gluten-free options, and we decided to dine at Fresco, because it has a gorgeous patio with courtyard view and a great salad selection. Mr. Charming sipped on an Arnold Palmer and I ordered a hot water for the organic peppermint tea I brought with. When the salads arrived they were definitely photo worthy. YUM!
The lettuce mix was SO fresh, and it was topped with fresh tomato, avocado and carrots and I drizzled it with fresh olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.
I had packed a gluten-free brownie in my bag that Mr. Charming and I split for dessert. It was the perfect lunch.
All in all, a perfect day in one of the cutest cities on our travels thus far! Have you been to Solvang and have any memories or good eats to share? Or have any questions about an up-coming visit? Leave it in the comments!
Mr. Charming and I had previously took an adventure through Long Beach in 2009 to celebrate his birthday, which I wrote about here, but on our recent eight day California Coastline Adventure we hit it up again so that I could show Mr. Charming the Aquarium of the Pacific. My favorite aquarium! It's huge and you can literally spend hours here. They even have a penguin exhibit, (if you know me you'll know my love for them and if spirit animals were a real thing, a penguin would be mine) and I even adopted a baby penguin. (translation, I gave them money to feed one for a year, but I really would've rather taken a furry critter home with me. I think my baby schnauzer would've loved the buddy.) We started the day with protein smoothies, and each day I left Mr. Charming a card at the table or on his pillow to start our day. Then it was off to the aquarium!
After the aquarium we decided to walk around the harbor and then drive around to find lunch. And that's when it happened... That's when I fell in love with this city and have decided, if we move back here, Long Beach is in the high running to be a city of choice based on the healthy culinary fare options alone. And then I could visit my little penguin babies as often as I'd like. Haha. Ok, well maybe that wouldn't happen, but the food. Definitely the food.
We stumbled upon a shopping center that not only housed a Trader Joe's and a Whole Foods, but it also was home to THREE cafes that I could choose from to eat at. ALL three organic, ALL three with gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options. It was café courtyard heaven. Our first stop was Roots Gourmet, we perused their menu and though I could have a few of their options, they used soy oil in most of their dishes, and I was trying to avoid soy 100% on the trip as I usually do. Next was a great place called My Fit Foods, which offers prepackaged meals and snacks that are gluten-free or dairy-free or both, I almost snagged a crudité platter and chicken breast there but had one more place to check out first before committing. Our third stop was the winner, Veggie Grill. Found in most California beach cities, Veggie Grill offers an extensive allergen-free menu and just generally HEALTHY food options and I ordered a variety of foods to sample. Their grilled asparagus was topped with sea salt and fresh lemon juice, I also had the sweet potato fries which were cooked in rice bran oil, not paleo, but healthier than the questionable soy oil. And I also ordered a salad topped with fire roasted carrots & beets,. Which by the way, carrots, from now on, should ALWAYS be fire roasted. Divine.
I highly recommend adding Long Beach to your California coast tour if it's in your plans. Though we didn't spend anytime in this city oceanside, the eats and sights are worth a visit. And don't forget the other famous sights I mentioned in my first Long Beach post.
We wrapped our day back at the beach house where we baked up a decadent gluten-free and refined-sugar free strawberry pie. Just a pie crust made of egg and tapioca starch and cooked strawberries served with sugarless coconut milk vanilla ice cream. It was the perfect compliment to a chilly seaside evening.
“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves, and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again—to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.” Pico Iyer
As I type this I am listening to the latest album by Moriah Peters. She is an amazing Christian artist who played the soundtrack of most of our recent trip to California. A trip where I just wanted to feel Jesus. Where I wanted to just travel. See. Experience. Worship. As we just returned, I wanted to share our journey. We didn't have Wi-Fi our entire trip, which at first freaked me out, but ended up being a huge blessing. So on with it...
Mr. Charming and I just embarked on an eight day tour of California spanning from Solvang to Newport Beach.
Moriah's words are so many of the words I've uttered to my Heavenly Father many times over and I know I needed His strength, courage, hope and peace to allow me to connect, REALLY connect to the beauty that was surrounding us on this journey. To let go of the stresses, to let go of home and just explore. It was exhilarating and romantic and fun. Things that fear, anxiety and over-analysis can sometimes cloud. Or steal. I can't remember the last time I've felt pure JOY for that many days in a row. Feeling so thankful for His blessings.
Santa Barbara was our first stop, and we originally had booked a canvas tent at the stunning El Capitan Canyon. While I was excited about the canvas tent experience, temps had really dropped in the area and I was worried I was going to be super-cold, but I had brought lots of blankets in preperation. When we arrived (since it was midweek) they had a cabin open and offered to upgrade us! With hope and eagerness in my eyes I glanced towards Mr. Charming who had already started to accept the keys for me. (such a gentleman). I pulled him aside and told him that if it went against what he expected I would OF COURSE camp with him in the tent, as I wanted this to be everything we BOTH wanted. But he thought having a full kitchen would be good for both of us too, so he agreed that it was an awesome blessing!
For two days we relaxed, played board games in the cabin's loft and cooked food over the fire. Even though we had been upgraded, we still took advantage of the beautiful outdoors and cooked over the fire, enjoyed the stars from our camping chairs and hiked the grounds many times. A note: The area is home to ticks, mountain lions and snakes, so beware if you hike throughout the area and be back at camp before dark.
One of my favorite parts of our two day stay in Santa Barbara was visiting El Capitan State Beach. A quiet, private beach we had most of it to ourselves which allowed us to just enjoy the peaceful stillness of the waves softly crashing against the shore. I got to worship God in natural beauty, away from the hustle of work or the city and all was well with my soul.
And there is just something about splashing through the waves, even when the water is frigid, that makes you feel so ALIVE. So youthful. I highly recommend the area for its privacy and breathtaking scenery. The staff at El Capitan were extremely friendly and the amenities is like no other campsite you've been to before. A full on-site market offers an array of delicacies including gluten-free and dairy-free selections. I was eating Paleo while in town, but they even offered gluten-free graham crackers for those of us with allergies who are craving fireside s'mores. They got points in my book for this little detail.
They also have a children's playground (where I may or may not have swung on the tire swing), a heated swimming pool, a llama farm and onsite boutique.
It was an amazing start to the trip, and I know you're probably wondering about the FOOD. Like I said, since we were planning to tent camp, I had packed the car cooler with the food we were going to have in Santa Barbara. Day one consisted of our looooong drive to Santa Barbara, so Mr. Charming and I enjoyed protein smoothies in the car as well as snacks such as rolled lunch meat, sweet potato chips, fruit & veggies. That night for dinner when we got into town we cooked up foil dinners over the fire. Wrapped in foil (which I ONLY use for cooking when camping, so I'd say MAYBE once a year)... was apple chicken sausage, sweet potatoes and onions, all fire roasted and served with a Paleo compliant ketchup.
Day two's menu consisted of leftover onions and sweet potatoes, bacon and scrambled eggs cooked over a fire in bacon grease for breakfast (have you ever done this? If you haven't you need to. Right now. Go light a fire and cook eggs in bacon grease. I'll wait.) For lunch we headed to city #2 on our adventure, Solvang, and we were back to the campsite for dinner where we had an organic chili and avocado. We always like to stick with our traditional camping foods, as it makes it feel like we're truly camping.
I felt so at peace out there. And even tried a couple "firsts". Aside from visiting some new places, many new places actually, I climbed a tree. Something I hadn't done since childhood. I was a little terrified (don't like heights, like, at all, and bugs, I was sure if I saw I bug I'd fall from the branches and crack my head open) but I worked through it so we could get some cute photos, and then we carved our initials in the tree. I've always wanted to do that, and I can't think of a more deserving man to have my initials scribed into a tree with for all time than my Mr. Charming.
not all those who wander are lost..."
It's no secret to ANYONE we know that Mr. Charming and I ADORE Disneyland. Since we were both kids its been a regular family vacation destination. Living in California, and having friends in the entertainment industry, most of whom danced or perform in the parks, it was a monthly, sometimes weekly trip for me.
More on me and Mr. Charming's Disney story will be found on the future Disney for Couples blog. This post is focusing on Disney with littles, particularly infants and toddler aged. When my niece turned one I told my sister that it was time she visited Disneyland! [haha] Some people may argue this is too young, and I honestly thought she wasn't going to get into it just yet.
Boy was I wrong!! She recognized SO many characters already from films and Mickey's Playhouse. And she LOVED the rides. Tip Number One: Try to get pictures with characters early in the day. You'll miss some of the long lines, and when the littles are tired or cranky they may be more susceptible to being apprehensive of them. And if you are a thrill seeker, take turns staying behind with the little ones. I'm not a big scary ride person, so I happily took the little one shopping for stuffed animals while the fam rode the big rides.
It was so fun to see my sister with her very own happy family, making memories like the ones we made when we were little. It was special to be able to share in that vacation with her. I know, I'm super mushy. Sorry about that. Onto the food! Tip Number Two: Snacks are important. We always rent a locker and pre-pack a backpack before going to the park. For a great gluten-free breakfast in the Disneyland park, visit The Plaza Inn at the far end of Main Street. They serve eggs, fruit and breakfast meats, and they have gluten-free Mickey Waffles. They also host a morning character breakfast that the littles LOVE! Characters like Minnie Mouse, Tigger and Winnie the Pooh will come to the table to get photos with you and sign the kiddos autograph books. It's a bit on the pricey side, so we usually do this for our big splurge meal of the day and then keep it cheap the remainder of the day. Tip Number Three: Healthy snacks are SO easy to find within the parks. There are fruit and veggie carts throughout the lands. This is where we stock up on sliced apples, grapes, bananas, apples and broccoli packs for when we want to nosh in long lines.
After breakfast & snack time is out of the way, the best lands to spend time in with little ones is Fantasyland and Toon Town. My niece loved Toon Town, getting to visit Mickey and Minnie's homes and playing with all the fun cartoony props. My sister and I had a little fun of our own as well, trying on many hats at the Mad Hatter shop and shopping for clothes and toys! For lunch we went back to the lockers to our backpacks. Tip Number Four: To save money and to ensure healthy eating all day, we pack our lunch. It's fun to splurge on breakfast and dinner, and we make sure to fill up on fruits, nuts and veggie for snacks. We packed rolled lunch meats and veggie chips that we enjoyed outside the park in Downtown Disney and shopped a bit before heading back into the park. Just make sure you get your hand stamp for re-entry! Also, Disneyland will allow you to bring in your outside snacks and drinks, let them know you have food sensitivity issues or allergies if they question anything.
Before taking in the World Of Color, which left my little one year old niece awe-inspired and me a puddle of emotional goo seeing how in LOVE she was with the colors and music, we had dinner at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante in Frontierland. The fam enjoyed tacos and enchiladas while the chef came out (they'll do this!) and prepared me a custom gluten-free steak salad with unseasoned grilled steak (that was PHENOMENAL) over a bed of fresh greens, topped with avocado and sliced tomato and drizzled olive oil and sea salt. It was fresh, healthy, delicious and filling enough to get us through fireworks and a few more rides before the park closed! Tip Number Five: Always pack extra clothes and layers for the littles. And for you as well! Mr. Charming and I always keep a change of shoes and hoodies in our lockers. For the littles it's an extra blanket, outfit change and hoodie. We had a random rainstorm and it was good we had extra clothes and an extra blanket for the baby because her stroller got quite wet!
It was a memorable trip that we will always cherish as her first Disney experience!
What are YOUR favorite Disney sites when traveling with babies & toddlers? Would love for you to share!
I am obsessed with Carlsbad. There a few beach towns I am simply in love with. Carlsbad, Santa Barbara and some little coves in the San Diego area just have my heart. My dad owned a condo in Carlsbad for many years, so Mr. Charming and I were fortunate enough to get to spend quite a bit of time here. I've eaten at almost every restaurant in the area, as I was fortunate to sample all the fare before I got sick, but the good thing about classy beach cities, is there is always something for everyone. Especially those on strict diets, Paleo or vegan diets.
Carlsbad has your normal GF-chain options such as PF Changs and Rubios, although I never opt to eat at either of these. I like smaller cafes, with more organic ingredients. The charming place that is Carlsbad Village, has many little shops and eateries with the top for eating healthy being The Naked Cafe. The earthy quaint cafe offers an allergen menu where every item is clearly marked.
One of my favorite high-end eateries is 333 Pacific. I was in town staying with my dad when I had a concert in Hollywood and we had a dad & daughter date night here. It was fun. The atmosphere was upscale and relaxing and the food was AH-MAZING. They have many gluten-free options such as salads, veggies and meat courses. Though the portions are small, that's the only down side.
I also love any city that has my Top Three, as I call them. Sprouts, Trader Joes or Whole Foods, and Carlsbad has all three within a reasonable distance. They also have a weekly Farmer's Market where I can stock up on fresh fruits and veggies to snack on throughout the week, as well as some beautiful fresh cut flowers for the condo.
My dad is one of the most active people alive and fitness is never a question when we visit. We are always being active and having fun. Whether its playing on the sand or in the water or hitting up the Tennis Club for a couple of hours, we burn our calories. On this particular visit we took the bikes out of storage and took a leisurely bike ride on the trails around the city. Mr. Charming was on photography duty, and that's my dad and me in the back there below.
If you're craving a burger by the beach, the best of the best is Pure Burger. The eatery uses locally sourced grass-fed beef and even offer gluten-free buns!
If you are looking for some entertainment to enjoy with kiddos, visit the city's Legoland, which offers some of the best in theme park allergen-free food finds. I personally haven't been, and I LOVE Disneyland for eating clean & safe, but Legoland has received amazing reviews from moms and people with allergies and sensitivities.
For me & Mr. Charming, we prefer a quiet walk on the beach.
One of my favorite things to do with my husband is travel. Seeing new places with him is such an adventure. We were both born with an urge to travel and we try to take on big trip a year and a few little ones spread out throughout as well.
California is a regular place to visit for us, because not only is my record label and magazine based there, but it's where I'm from. I've lived in Orange County, Northridge, Valencia, Pacific Beach in San Diego and near Mission Beach in San Diego so I'm no stranger to the City of Angels. What I DO love is when we explore something new.... and that, for us, was Long Beach.
After spending a few hours on the ship and enjoying the scenery of the surrounding waters, we grabbed some mexican food for lunch. There is a Chipotle nearby which also offers yummy options that are gluten-free, dairy-free and Paleo if you skip their rice. One of the best of the best places to visit and grab a dairy-free latte or gluten-free lunch is Roots Gourmet. The earthy cafe offers extensive gluten-free and dairy-free options.
After lunch we walked around the shops & checked out the amazing Long Beach Aquarium. Since we decided to park by the ship and walk the whole city, we got plenty of excercise! We always like to work in something healthy wherever we go. We walked and walked until the sun went down and as we perused the local hotels and shops we came across a hotel with a rooftop bar where I ordered another latte. I can't even remember the hotel, because it was dark and we were just exploring and not really paying attention, but I do remember, Mr. Charming and I taking a look at the hotels chapel. Which was adorable, because we weren't engaged yet at the time and it made me dreamy, and swoony, and all the other feelings we women get when your boyfriend starts talking about marriage.
After we explored for hours and hours we grabbed some Italian fare downtown. Some of the best gluten-free/dairy-free Italian eateries include ZPizza, that offers gluten-free crust and Daiya cheese veggie pizzas, and certain cafes tucked within the city streets will usually offer a gluten-free pasta if you ask. They usually take a lot longer to prep, but its worth it to have something yummy if you aren't on the Paleo diet. If you are, opt for a yummy salad packed with veggies. Even better if you can find an organic cafe.
We were super-tired from the day and our feet were exhausted so we hopped on the local city bus to take us back to our car. (Also a first experience for me!) All in all, an amazing and adventurous day that we still talk about often. Spontaneity always wins in my book.
Nosh & Nurture was born of this journey I am on to better the health of myself, my family and those around me. What started as a simple compilation of recipes has grown to a all-around lifestyle journal with ways to incorporate organic products into your home, pantry and beauty cabinet. I also include stories on pregnancy, new motherhood, travel, Proverbs 31 marriage, and spiritual health, as I am a Christian who couldn't do any of this without my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. For more of my story you can click here.
All recipes are gluten-free and dairy-free with a lot of soy-free, grain-free, sugar-free options.