My morning inspiration v.2

If you know me, you know I’m close to my family. Really close. They keep me grounded, motivated and always inspired. I really need to visit them for a good recharge soon!

While we were driving up to San Simeon, we stopped to watch the sunset and..well, the pictures speak for themselves, incredible. 


This last one is my favorite of my mom and I from the entire trip! And this is what I’m thinking about to get me through the last day of the work week.

Happy Friday loves. How are you recharging this weekend?

{trip report} Day 3: Madonna Inn and Dessert

There’s not much that I can say about the Madonna Inn. It feels like Dollywood meets…I don’t even know. It also is quite magical in a weird romantic sort of way. Each room has a different design and there are restaurants and dancing rooms to serve all the rooms. This place came recommended from my dad’s co-worker, but we were warned that it was “charming” and “quirky.” I loved it. Tacky, gaudy…the walls have holograms… but entirely charming.  


Christmas decorations? No. Normal decor. 


The bathrooms were a mix of old saloon and … where do hot pink hologram walls fit into design?


And then there’s this. Some of the most fresh strawberry cake I’ve ever had. A wonderfully polite young (15?) waiter with the driest humor I’ve come across in a while made it even better. Between the strawberry cake and the chocolate cake? We were happy.


The history of this place is a really sweet love story. And the families and couples that were dining were really sweet. It was almost like a supper club, but it was full of happy couples celebrating their love in the resort’s unique design. My brother and dad tell me the men’s bathroom is a site to see – something about waterfalls?

If you’re traveling through California, notably central, this place is a must-visit. For a few hours, it was a great evening snack after our massive midday meal at Brophy’s Bros. Have you stayed at Madonna Inn? I want to hear about your room!

{trip report} Day 3: Santa Barbara Harbor & Brophy Bros.

Check out the Mission, drive through the town, walk around a bit, but make for damn sure you go to Brophy Bros. Restaurant and Clam Bar. The view, the staff, the food, not sure what was my favorite, but this place ranks in my top memories from my entire trip. 


Few things warm my soul more than an active fish market – smells and everything. Clearly Caleb was intrigued as well. 



Not sure how this happened, but for my favorite meal, I didn’t capture but one picture…of my second oyster. It was amazing – the fresh taste of the ocean, earthy and lemony. I was probably too busy scarfing super fresh little shrimp with tons of horseradishy cocktail sauce, then a warm bowl of the best clam chowder I’ve ever had to shot pictures. Wrap me up with a heaping bowl of seafood pasta and this place gets my vote. The resulting food coma was glorious. This mid-afternoon meal replaced lunch and dinner. 

My brother had a sharkfish (or something) and wasn’t impressed, but my parents enjoyed the salmon dish they split. The atmosphere swayed us incredibly positive either way. 


My parents smiling while we walked around the harbor. We stopped and looked at boats for sale along the shops and dreamed about life in Santa Barbara. It could happen! This was the first place we visited in California that I could see myself living. The house styles, the ocean, the general calm of grown up successful hippies does a place really well. 




Have you been to Santa Barbara? What did you think in comparison to other California towns?

My morning inspiration

This week I’ve been rehashing my trip to California more than a month ago. It’s been so fun to finally go through all my pictures! This set is my Friday inspiration – I hope you find as much calming energy as I do when I look through these. Enjoy! 


These were taken early in the morning on the pier that once belonged to William Randolph Hearst’s family. We started day four of the trip here, across the highway from the entryway to his castle, this place was incredible. You’ll notice how few houses there are in the background. This serene stretch of land in central California is dreamy and calms me down whenever I look at it.


I love being in the middle of nowhere and by an ocean at the same time. Where do you go to seek inspiration?

{trip report} Day 3: Mission Santa Barbara


On day three of the Highway 1 trip we headed to a town that my mom told me was her favorite in California. As she reminisced her own family’s roadtrip in the 60s, I knew this place was going to be special. Santa Barbara is magical. The hilly land with blue as far as the eyes can see – the sky and the ocean. 

We went to the Mission Santa Barbara and, while I’ll reserve my opinions on colonial rule and it’s impact on the “New World,” I’m happy to report those Spanish friars make some great looking buildings. 


Ready for some unintentional porn?


Yep – I’m mature…taking pictures of this in the middle of the cemetery in a Mission. With skull and crossbones looking over me. Good, Eliza, good.


There’s this massive tree in the middle of the grounds and under it are some 4,000 people buried over the course of the years. The energy there isn’t sad though, it was just plain calm and beautiful.


The chapel had incredible acoustics and my mom belted out a song in the middle of it!


The art hung on the walls was dark, but very pretty. It was really dark inside compared to the beautiful light everyone else around the grounds. And there were some great features hidden throughout. The warm building designs meshed nicely with the darker art on the walls. 


The fountain in front of the Mission had stunning flowers, these pictures don’t do them justice. 




How cute are they? Shortly after this picture was taken, I was pooped on by a bird. Good luck, right?


Mission Santa Barbara is a must visit in Santa Barbara, but doesn’t need a full day. We could’ve done the entire thing – museum, church, grounds – in about an hour or two max. Afterwards, walk around down town Santa Barbara and work up a good hunger.

Once you’re good and hangry, head to the harbor. Seriously. More to come on that. 

{trip report} Day 2: Malibu, Neptune’s Net & more ocean

A month ago I went on a glorious vacation with my family and intended to post about the entire thing here. Sadly, or not so sadly, life got in the way. In an attempt to rehash my memories, I’ll share short tidbits when the mood strikes. The full trip report will stay in my Word document unedited…

Day One:

On day two, we explored some more! After a morning on Rodeo Drive (yes, I bought a purse), we headed up to Malibu and through the surrounding canyons. This included was a stop at a restaurant that cameod in the Fast and Furious series – Neptune’s Net! I was star struck, the food was magical, we all had a great meal!


If you go to Neptune’s Net in Malibu, make sure to get the fresh seafood NOT the fried stuff. This place gets a ten in my book – a heaping plate of freshly steamed veggies and shrimp, great sourdough bread and an ear of corn with a cold beer overlooking the ocean? Yep. Heaven.


My mom sitting at our table — that might even have been where the actors sat during filming! Tons of motorcycle dudes were walking around, totally adding the atmosphere. 


After lunch, we ran across the street to go play on the rocks and watch the sunset. Another great day spent on the ocean. 


I took tons of pictures of the family, but this is probably one of my favorites of my brother and me. In my small collection of family photos, I have a shot just like this at various points in our lives. Making faces and laughing. Love it.


My favorite thing about these? My dad and my brother have so many similar mannerisms that came out! Look at the way they walk, stand, play with sea creatures, all of it!

{trip report} Day 1: La Brea Tar Pits & Hollywood

After the flight and the early afternoon at the ocean, we drove into LA to visit the La Brea Tar Pits. Absolutely fascinating that such a vast contribution to natural science happens to be in the middle of modern day LA. Highly recommend visiting the pits and the associated museum!


Hollywood was next on our must-see list. A good friend (thanks, Annie!) recommended Loteria Mexican Grill for dinner so off we went! The food was very different than the Mexican I’m used to, but the guac was the best I’ve ever had. The black beans that come with the entrees made me a believer in beans.

So good! And a cold michelada to wash it down? Perfect summer evening with my family.


As the sun was setting, we walked Hollywood Blvd. to check out the scenery. Despite the stars along the walk, this place also felt sad to me! Like the land of broken dreams and forgotten hope. Not sure what my deal is with noticing how sad Venice Beach and Hollywood Blvd. is, but the energy was intense at both places! Maybe Colorado’s perfection made me forget about the real world? Either way – we walked the street and had a great time!


I stopped with some of my favorite heroes to grab a picture in true tourist form. My brother who lives in LA was a great tour guide and showed us around. Last place before calling it a day was the Chinese Theater – home of numerous red carpet events, movie premieres and awards shows.

The place made me want to get all glammed up like a movie star and walk the red carpet! Or just hang out with superstars like Shrek!


After a long day, we headed back to our hotel and were asleep in two shakes of wanna-be actresses fake assets (numerous on Hollywood Blvd.)


Have you traveled somewhere only to find it to be the exact opposite of what you expected? I want to hear your stories!


{trip report} Day 1: Santa Monica Pier & Venice Beach

For the next ten days or so I’ll be posting about my family’s trip to the west coast. There will be tons of photos. It was my first week with the new camera!

Day 1: Flew from Denver to Burbank/LA

Recap: Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach

My morning started early with a drive out to DIA to meet my parents who flew in from Atlanta and then we headed to Burbank. Great to see them, eat breakfast with them, and sit on a the plane between them. Family is great!

We landed in Burbank (fab airport, tiny and easy), drove to my brother’s apartment to scoop him up and then headed for the OCEAN! There was tons of traffic which made me wonder, do people in SoCal work? Why is there traffic at noon? Quick pit stop at In ‘N Out in true SoCal form.


Anyways – the ocean at Santa Monica Pier was our first stop.


We walked in the sand (I managed to burn a huge chunk of my big toe) and put our toes in the ocean.


We walked under the Santa Monica Pier – I’ve always loved piers at the ocean! For as long as I can remember, the smell, the weird stuff (and people), and creatures that live under piers fascinate me!


At the end of the Santa Monica Pier we played with a massive pelican – the fisherman called her Sandy – and watched her almost perform for the crowd hoping the fisherman would drop her some fish. One lucky, happy and friendly pelican!


Next up, we walked along the ocean, and then headed to Venice Beach. The cultural phenomena that is Venice Beach was a bit sad, lots of homeless folks, young teenagers without direction, and some interesting artists. The beautiful side of Venice Beach was its free spirit and energy that comes with skate parks, beautiful ocean views, restaurants and a walk filled with art!




Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach are both must-sees while visiting LA, and can be done in about three leisurely hours. Just make sure to stay hydrated!


Tomorrow, I’ll share our adventures in Tar Pits and Hollywood!

{New purchase} Rebel T3i Camera

I’m going on vacation with my family next week. Of course I’m thrilled, but I was really worried about not capturing all the amazing experiences. So, I bought a camera. Not a need (none of my purchases are), but it was something really important to me. Today, I went from iPhone photos to a real camera (Rebel T3i fancy-pants letters, etc.), but I’m not sure I’ll use it all the time. Only when snapping shots of something more exciting than nail polish.


Here’s what I learned about purchasing fancy cameras:

  • Do some research, but trust your gut.
  • Make the decision before you walk into the store, then let the employee talk you into it again.
  • Buy the damn protection plan, especially if you plan to be around camera-ruining sand in the next two months.
  • Buy something else that you can take pictures of to test out the new machinery.

That last one is a huge challenge – finding something to test out the new camera on. Sure, I have tons of grand landscapes that I want to shoot, but I’ll have to figure out how to use the thing first. I’ll start with lip gloss…Ricky Martin for MAC Viva Glam Lip Conditioner to be exact. 


After one day of use, I like the stuff. My lips are silky smooth but only after reapplying a couple times each hour. A bit excessive, but they feel great! To be determined if the stuff will replace Burt’s Bees as a regular balm, but I’m a sucker for pretty packaging and some tasty gloss. I really freaking love the camera, though and that’s what this is all about!

Mani(cure) Monday & Wanderlust: White Sand Beaches

After a very long hiatus from my silly hobby of painting my nails and putting them up here…I’m back! I love nail polish and traveling. Combining the two today. A manicure inspired by Caribbean white sand beaches and turquoise waters. I’ve never been, but its on the travel bucket list.

Pretty pictures of where I’d love to go:

Source: via Eliza on Pinterest

Source: via Eliza on Pinterest


The manicure that’s going to keep me dreaming about the beach all week and leading into my California vacation:



Essie: Turquoise and Caicos

OPI: Skull and Glossboness

Topcoat: Essie, No Chips Aheads

Source: via Colette on Pinterest