A Weekend in Mendocino, CA

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Now that July (AKA the best month of the year) is a wrap, I officially feel that I have accepted being 27. This is the year that I am officially okay with being in my late-twenties. I don’t know what this feeling officially is…but after giving it some thought, I don’t think I was ever fully jiving with being 26. I think it partly has to do with the anxiety that is a result of the arbitrary goals our younger selves put on our future selves. I figured at around 10 years old, the idea of turning 25 is OFFICIALLY OLD and that life should be figured out by then. But I’ll tell 10-year old Melissa right now that it seems that LIFE NEVER GETS “FIGURED OUT.” There’s no official formula…and that’s the fun part. Regardless, here I was,  all of a sudden 26.

Granted, I am in no way dismissing the things I have achieved thus far. I am grateful for the steps that have led me to being able to purchase a car with the amenities I wanted, help support my parents, pay down my student loans, still have some to save and maintain the lifestyle that I do. But, the grass is always greener right? There will always be more that I thought I would have achieved by “this time.” But don’t fret 10-year old Melissa…we’ll get there.

I think part of navigating my 26th year has been realizing that the hustle-till-you-drop game is a double-edged sword. Being goal-oriented is perfectly fine. Surrounding myself with other goal-oriented and motivated people inspires me to do better.  But I’m so done with the imbalance that is being hyper-focused on career/life goals that you forget to enjoy the process. I’ve come to realize that the truest achievement is getting through all of it, while maintaining a level head on your shoulders. I’ve let go of so much unnecessary stress by simply processing that work is work and that it will be there tomorrow regardless of how I feel about it. There is no reason why I should be coming home from work everyday crying and losing sleep over it. That’s ridiculous. There are so many other issues and projects that warrant my stress and tears more than work. However, that sentiment comes from my specific experience and perspective. I’m fortunate enough to even have the brain space to explore that concept. Some people are out there hustling day-in and day-out to simply survive – and that’s their story to own.

Wow. Okay…Anyways, this is supposed to be a post about the wonderful end-cap weekend to my birthday month. I just wanted to preface it with some tidbits of perspective and growth that have led me to this point. I love my life for all of its oddities and I’m excited for the year of 27.


Why Mendocino?

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One of the ways I stay motivated is to plan things that I can look forward to and break me out of my routine. As a birthday treat to myself, I wanted to escape Los Angeles for a weekend to a place that was not a major city and had healthy access to nature. I simply wanted fresh air and different scenery…so Mendocino seemed to fit the criteria.

Mendocino County is known for it’s variety in landscape. The coastal cliffside views, the estuaries (learned what those were that weekend), the redwood forests not too far up the mountainside, the meadows in-between. The commute included a short flight into San Francisco and a mini three-hour road trip further north, with amazing views along the way.  I was also very spoiled and did not drive once that weekend, so I was able to fully take a nap (lol) and fully take in the views…thanks MB2 ❤

Pro tip for my motion sickness-inclined friends: bring Dramamine. Windy roads ahead.


The Hideaway Cottage

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There is a healthy amount of bed and breakfasts, seaside inns and boutique hotels in the area. However, I opted for an AirBnb. I wanted to have the freedom of ample space and a full-sized kitchen to cook. I also think this decision stemmed from the fact that I’m an introvert, so I crave space and value my privacy. Yes to less human interaction LOL. I chose a spot that was a short drive from Mendocino’s downtown area (which is more of a quirky, quaint town) and a 5-10 minute drive from their well-known State Parks (Russian Gulch and Van Damme).

I loved everything about this house in the woods! The large windows that let in the sunlight that filtered through the surrounding redwood trees; the high-vaulted ceilings; the natural wood finishes; the fully-stocked kitchen where we cooked dinner on Friday night; the front deck and table where we enjoyed Saturday morning breakfast; the comfy couch in the living area where we watched a movie, enjoyed dessert and sipped on wine; the claw-foot tub where I enjoyed a nice bath (I never take baths!) while sipping on more wine. All of it contributed to the pure disconnection I was craving and it was glorious.

If you are interested in staying at this exact AirBnb, see the official posting here: Mendocino Hideaway Cottage. Thank you Bill and Marilyn!


Wine to Unwind

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Apparently, Highway 128 is also known as “Wine Road.” On the way into Mendocino, we passed a number of vineyards and wineries. If you aren’t set on an itinerary, I think it would be a fun way to spend the day: pulling off the road to enjoy a tasting at one of the wineries and then jumping to another after that. But of course…drive safely my friends.

We spent the afternoon at Pacific Star Winery in Fort Bragg, about 15-20 minutes north of Mendocino. After an intriguing California wine history-filled tasting (shout out Don, fellow SoCal native turned NorCal transplant), we bought two reasonably priced bottles (one for now, one for later) and headed to one of the many available seating areas that overlooked the seaside cliffs. The property grounds are fairly large, so where we decided to stake our wine bottle felt like our own little spot. We were able to enjoy the scenery and talk without disturbing or overhearing others. I don’t think I’m capable of accurately describing just how surreal the view was. The sound of the ocean crashing against the rocky shoreline, whale watching in the distance, the hum of the bumblebees doing their day’s work on the native brush that lined the cliffside. I also can’t accurately describe just how healing wine, sunshine, a coastal breeze and great company is. TAKE ME BACK.


Adventures Outdoors

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After our wine session, we headed back down towards Mendocino, but stopped over at Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. I looked at so many gorgeous pictures of the colorful sea glass during my research, and set that as my only real must-do during the trip. I think the history of the beach is actually quite beautiful. Up until 1967 it was once a designated dump site, but after its closing, many cleanup programs to reverse the damage and years of the waves crashing and tumbling the glass and pottery pieces to make colorful sea glass, it became known as Glass Beach. But, I’ll be honest and say that I was slightly disappointed when I saw it. I’m convinced that the rise of the beach’s popularity may be the culprit of the lack of sea glass that I actually saw when I went. After some deeper research, I found several other reviews noting the same thing: little-to-no sea glass. 😦

Regardless, it was still a nice pit stop before heading back to Mendocino for a late afternoon hike. Except that we made another pit stop at the AirBnb and I knocked OUT for a few hours. I blame the sun and wine. Anyways, after my semi-unexpected slumber, we went for a quick evening exploration of Russian Gulch and enjoyed a mixture of crisp evening forest air and sweeping coastal cliffside views. Golden hour was gorgeous. I highly recommend not being like sleepy and wine saturated me and take advantage of the full hike. If I hadn’t slept we probably could have made it to the waterfall. But, we didn’t want to risk being in the forest when the sun went down. NO MA’AM.

We also went into Van Damme to see the pygmy forest on Sunday morning before we headed back on the road to San Francisco. What’s a pygmy forest you say? It’s a forest of really old trees, but instead of towering high above you, because of the nutrient-deficient soil, their growth was stunted. Interesting history once again! We cheated by skipping the hike and driving directly to the entrance of the pygmy forest. But, we were on a tight schedule, so we did what we needed to not miss out on it. I would think it would be an awesome morning hike.


Eats

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I don’t really have photo evidence of the wonderful eating we did in Mendocino – except for what we did eat at the AirBnb. But before I get into my thoughts on the restaurants we visited, I will say this: it’s worth it to go into their local grocery shop in town to do some of your own cooking; granted you are staying in a space that has a capable kitchen. We did that for Friday night, which was perfect after our day of traveling. We wanted to have some time to settle into the AirBnb, unwind and rest up for the full day of activities ahead of us. So a night in was a good call. We ended up cooking up some veggies and rib eye on the iron skillet…and we of course brought back some local wine to accompany it all.

On Saturday night we went to Trillium Cafe, located in their little downtown. I read a number of great reviews during my research and it really did live up to them. While the food and drink were on the upscale end, the restaurant itself felt cozy and unpretentious. I think it has to do with the fact that the restaurant is operated in tandem to an inn of the same name. The space definitely felt as if it was formerly a house – think The Attic in Long Beach, except more intimate, a small seaside-facing deck and way better/non-gimmicky food (Ooh, the SHADE). We were seated at a corner table inside and my view was of the colorful flowers and little bits of sunlight that were left, filtering through the window frames. It was fully night time when we finished, and the short walk back to the car under the starry night sky (sans light pollution) was an idyllic way to close out the evening. EXCEPT – we set ourselves up for even more success by copying the couple next to us and ordered a dessert to-go. We got the peach tart with sweet cream ice cream and enjoyed it while watching a movie back at the AirBnb. We ended the night with a wine cap of course. WIN.

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On Sunday morning, we went for breakfast at Circa ’62, located in Little River, before officially hitting the road. The restaurant is also adjacent to an inn called: Inn at Schoolhouse Creek & Spa. Views overlook – you guessed it – the ocean. I will never get over how picturesque everything we did that weekend was. I recommend trying their huevos rancheros and what they call their “slow death on a raft.” You’ll thank me later.

After that, we departed on our drive back to the hustle-and-bustle of San Francisco. Such a stark difference in just pace alone. Then it was back to reality. I am grateful to have spent a weekend to recharge for the busy months ahead and end my birthday month on a high note.

It was my kind of perfect ❤


BONUS: Check out the short collage of clips I put together from the weekend!

Sincerely,

Melissa

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5 Things You Must Do in Chicago // Spring & Summer Edition

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Chi-Town, Chi-City, the Windy City. It’s the midwest, it’s young and restless. LOL. Actually, it’s not so young. It’s a city known for it’s historic and innovative architecture, shady political climate and it’s predictably unpredictable weather. You are probably like what? How can weather be predictably unpredictable? Well, during the four days I was there recently in June, it was 90 degrees one day, 50 degrees and raining the next . I was sunburnt and freezing in a span of 14 hours. Nevertheless, Chicago is a city that I continue to love!

I never really had any reason to visit Chicago until my cousin moved out there for medical school 5-6 years ago. A few years later, one of my childhood friends would also move out there to attend the same medical school. Shout out to Rosalind Franklin University and Chicago Medical School! 😉 Since then, I’ve visited a total of four times, including my most recent trip in June 2018. This trip was extra special because my family and I witnessed my cousin and her fiancé officially become freakin’ doctors ❤

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Spring-almost-summer is a great time to visit Chicago let. me. tell. you. Even with the random rain and wind chill we experienced, it was significantly easier to explore the city. I’ve been to Chicago during a “mild winter” (average temperature of 12 – 20 degrees) and it is NO BUENO.  I mean, I’m sure it’s beautiful in more open areas, but dirty ice along the streets, pot holes galore and signs warning you about falling icicles aren’t really the most appealing things to see. How do you prepare yourself to dodge an icicle anyways? Also, if you were ever wondering what it’s like to freeze and sweat at the same time, bike through the streets of Chicago with a full down coat on. LOL.

In no way am I Chicago expert, but since I have a few visits under my belt, I thought I would share some of my favorite things to do in the windy city during the spring/summer months:

1. Bike Your Way Through the City

I’ve rented bikes two out of the four times I’ve been to Chi-Town and it’s been one of my favorite ways to “see as the locals do.” There’s something satisfying about feeling the wind on your face and literally navigating yourself through huge intersections of an unfamiliar city that you don’t get when you jump in a Lyft or Uber.

I’m sure there are a variety of bike rental options out there, but both times I used Divvy bikes since their pick-up/drop-off stations are numerous and scattered throughout the city.  Biking is not only a good way to incorporate a workout into your weekend of deep dish pizza indulgence, but it’s also a liberating way to experience the city.

We rode our bikes throughout Millennium Park, along the lakefront all the way to the Shedd Aquarium and along the river. It can be a bit intimidating at first, but long as you stick to the bike lanes, stay alert and are mindful of the rules, I think it’s definitely worth it.

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Clarence F. Buckingham Memorial Fountain, Grant Park

2. Kayak Through the Chicago River

Chicago is known for its unique architectural styles, ranging from towering steel skyscrapers to beautiful brick-laden buildings sprinkled throughout the city. The formation of the city’s beautiful skyline is full of such eye-opening history…and you can learn all the interesting details while kayaking through the river! What better way to see the city than to paddle your way through the river that winds through it? (and you best believe I sang “Just Around the Riverbend”)

I’ve taken the architecture tour twice with Wateriders, and both times were amazing. I had “Joel The Tour Guide” both times I’ve gone, and each time he manages to memorize the names of everyone in the group. Joel and his staff are personable, accommodating and entertaining. Wateriders also offer a variety of other tours including a Ghosts and Gangsters tour and a Moonlight Paddle. Of course these tours are only hosted during the Spring/Summer months, so I suggest you take advantage of that. You won’t regret it! (Just remember to wear sunscreen…and not a jean jacket…like I did)


3. Purchase a CityPASS

The official Chicago CityPASS is a convenient way to see the popular tourist spots on your list. For $106 (adult pricing) you can gain priority entrance to the following attractions:

It’s definitely worth it, especially during peak tourist hours (aka weekends). As long as you hit up at least four of the available attractions, you get your money’s worth.


4. Take Public Transportation

Skip trying to find parking in the city and buy a Ventra card! Prices vary depending on your preference. It’s as simple as pressing a few buttons on one of the automatic kiosks at each train station. Once you buy the card, you can either add a certain sum of money to it, or buy a pass for a certain number of days. Since my recent trip was four days, I ended up buying a 7-day pass. It gave me access to the above ground train, subway and the bus system. Public transit is an immersive way of learning about a new city and allows for more exploration, because you’ll need to navigate from station to station. Super convenient and more affordable than renting a car!

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5. Visit Maggie Daley Park

Your kids…or your own inner kid will thank you for visiting this amazing park! Maggie Daley Park, along with the famous Millennium Park, is another free (for the more part) attraction to take advantage of within The Loop. Once you are done taking your “Bean” photos at Millennium Park, take a short stroll over the picturesque BP Pedestrian Bridge to Maggie Daley Park.

The park’s attractions are tucked between nooks of tree groves and features: the below pictured fantastical rope bridge at their Play Garden, a freakin’ rock climbing wall, many places to lay down a picnic blanket, an ice skating ribbon (forget your boring rink!) during the colder months, and more! For a full list of the park’s attractions, visit their website 🙂

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Obviously there are hundreds of other things to do in Chi-town (I didn’t even get into all the food I ate), but I thought I’d share some of my favorites 🙂 Hopefully that was helpful! Let me know what your favorite things about Chicago are if you’ve visited before.

Sincerely,

Melissa Beee

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Milk and Eggs – Food Art Installation Event

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Last month, I had the opportunity to attend a food and art installation/exhibition event in Los Angeles’ Art District hosted by Milk and Eggs. What’s Milk and Eggs? If I’m going to be honest, I didn’t know either until this event came along. Milk and Eggs is a grocery delivery service that values fresh and locally sourced food. Customers can place one time orders or subscribe to certain products to be delivered on a regular schedule. It’s a useful platform to find healthy options, allergy-friendly alternatives and unique snacks! As I was browsing through their site (very user-friendly btw and great food pics. I appreciate them lol), I found items that aren’t typically found at your local grocery store (Well, mine at least). What I also find great is that their delivery system is centered on producing a minimal carbon foot print. I actually really love that idea. Not many people are aware of how much the country’s traditional food production and delivery systems contribute to greenhouse gas entering the atmosphere.  So good on you Milk and Eggs!

The event was fun! It took place at The Container Yard in Los Angeles, which was a uniquely beautiful backdrop to this foodie event. Upon entering, you were greeted with a cute little gift bag containing:

  • $50 gift card to Milk & Eggs
  • A sample of Unisoy Vegan Jerky
  • A coupon for Navitas Naturals Superfood+ Bar
  • A coupon for Harmless Harvest’s Harmless Coconut Water (my fave!)
  • Milk & Eggs branded goodies: mini chip clip & fridge magnet grocery list

Just past the entrance, was a bar making a number of complimentary specialty cocktails, courtesy of Barlingual and sponsored by Ventura Spirits. It was pretty interesting to see a hot drink option, complete with marshmallow garnish!

I apologize for the minimal food photos…my brother and I purposefully didn’t eat lunch in preparation for this event. So, my brain skipped over taking foodie pics and went straight for shoveling everything down.

Food and drink were provided by a number of vendors including:

  • Abbots Butcher
  • Boxed Water
  • TheBu Kombucha
  • Domenico’s Pasta
  • Forager
  • Harmless Coconut Water
  • Kite Hill
  • Barely Bread
  • Laura Ann’s Jams
  • Petit Pot
  • Unisory Vegan Jerky
  • Stumpton Coffee

I attended the event with my brother and my two co-workers, so I didn’t get a chance to try absolutely everything in between the mingling and photo-ops. But, from what I did try, my favorite was the ravioli from Domenico’s Pasta. I liked it so much, I had multiple servings 😛 I also tried tofu chorizo tacos and fried adobo-inspired chicken which were both pretty good. I wasn’t able to get to the toast bar that featured multiple spreads and jams. But, lucky for me, all of the items showcased at the event are available for purchase on the Milk & Eggs website. I definitely plan to take advantage of that with my $50 gift card.

All-in-all, it was a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Arts District. It’s already a win when you can park somewhere obscure in LA and not come back to a ticket or worse…your car gone lol. Thanks for having me Milk & Eggs, hopefully I get to go again next year! 🙂

Sincerely,

Melissa Beee

‘Tis the Season for a Tea Party

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Happy Holidays! I hope your December has been as festive as can be and much less of a struggle as mine has been so far. As I’m writing this, I’ll be wrapping up on day 4 of being horribly ill in bed with a fever. It’ll also mark a week since getting into a pretty bad car accident on the freeway. This past week I missed two days of work due to the car accident, left work early on Wednesday because I wasn’t feeling well, and didn’t go in on Thursday because I was battling relentless fever. Needless to say, it has been an awfully tough week for me. The universe wasn’t gonna let me off easy. I have to earn my way to 2018! But on a more positive note, I am in once piece and my fever has finally broke. Just in time for Christmas 🙂

I’m glad to be well enough to finally write this post about my time at McKenna’s Tea Cottage and exploring Old Town Seal Beach, CA.

Birthday Tea

Whenever we can, the girl cousins in my family try to organize what we call a “Girls Day” to put some time aside to spend with each other. With our family, it’s rare that we get exclusive girl time, so it’s always a treat on “Girls Day.”

This year, thanks to my cousin Val (pictured below on the left), we found ourselves with our pinkies up, hats in play, making our tea party dreams come true at McKenna’s Tea Cottage! It was a really cute way to celebrate my cousin Emma’s 13th birthday (pictured below in the middle) and I think she had a great time 🙂

We had our choice of tea and selected a number of yummy pastries/desserts to enjoy as we sipped and chatted. It’s such a unique way to celebrate a variety of occasions: birthdays (of all ages), friendmas’, girls day (or boys day), etc.

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Giving serious tea time looks.

Exploring Seal Beach

The tea cottage is located in a quaint part of town, so after our Girls Day/Birthday tea party, we decided to stroll through some of the cute shops in Old Town Seal Beach. If you’re looking for quirky/homemade gifts, there are a number of vintage shops, family owned stores and nurseries to peruse. Definitely worth checking out!

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Gone exploring in a nursery. Looked like someone’s backyard!
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The nursery of course had the cutest Christmas trees!

Well, I’m going to cut it there. Just thought I’d share some quick thoughts on this cute little adventure I went on with my cousins during this Holiday season. By the time you are reading this, it’s Christmas Day (or even after that), so I hope it was something special! Here’s to festive feelings all year round and a goal fulfilling new year!

Sincerely,

Melissa

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Palm Springs, CA // Desert Weekend Getaway

Palm Springs, CA // Desert Weekend Getaway

How is it already Fall?! Summer 2017 flew by with a quickness. Between balancing event planning at work and eventful weekends with family and friends this summer, my poor travel photos and video footage quickly got buried. So, consider this post as my attempt to dig them up and make treasure out of the ones I captured in Palm Springs, CA. There’s definitely more adventure-type posts coming soon. So look forward to those 6 months from now…LOL. Just kidding. Maybe.


 Check out my little Palm Springs travel video here:


I thought about it, and I want to say that Palm Springs is one of my favorite mini getaway destinations. I’ve been almost a handful to times and there hasn’t been a time when I didn’t enjoy it. Whether it was with my friend’s family or with my friends, there was always something enjoyable about it.

Everyone has a different definition for “staycation,” but for me, anything slightly beyond the outskirts of the county line qualifies as one. It’s approximately 2 hours away, yet it seems like a completely different atmosphere. Maybe it has something to do with Palm Spring’s proximity to LA. It’s comfortably close and far enough. Isn’t it amazing how you can drive two hours in any direction from LA (…assuming little traffic) and find yourself in completely different terrain? I would say Palm Springs is two things the heart of LA isn’t: serene and spacious.

So what’s the deal about Palm Springs? It used to be known as the wild spring break destination for college students, but what’s so cool about it now? Maybe a better question to ask is: What’s always been so cool about it?  It may have fallen from the top college spring breaking spot, but I think that’s part of its charm. While everyone else is hopping on planes or driving off to Vegas, Palm Springs sits quietly along the 10 freeway, a sparkling desert oasis in the distance, an underrated destination to sneak away to. If you are into mid-century modern architecture, quirky art, mountainscapes (not sure if that’s a real word), cute brunch spots, poolside chilling and vintage shopping…Palm Springs, CA is definitely for you. By the way, if you plan a visit in the summer…you also have to be okay with melting into the ground in triple digit heat. No joke.

Here are a few “10 outta 10, would recommend” tidbits I came across during my recent trip to this desert oasis:

Food // Drink

The summer heat is no joke, so if you are planning on walking the streets of downtown, be sure to take a pit stop at these places to stay hydrated & fueled up:

  • For Coffee // Koffi – There are three locations to choose from, so whether you are staying in North Palm Springs, South Palm Springs or just outside of town in Rancho Mirage, you’ll have one near by. They carry staple coffee favorites and pastries to pair. From the couple of times I’ve been there, it seems like a spot revered by locals and tourists.
  • For Breakfast & Brunch // Farm – Southern French-inspired breakfast and brunch. What more can I say? Nothing really. I will mention this though, if you can bear the heat, or if you are visiting during their non-sweltering season, I highly recommend sitting in their patio area. The aesthetic removes you from Palm Springs itself (except for the heat) and creates the illusion of being in a countryside backyard enjoying your French Aunt’s cooking. Okay, that’s all about that.
  • For Ice Cream // Ice Cream & Shop(pe) – Attached to Arrive Hotel on Palm Canyon Dr., it’s a quirky gift shop and gourmet ice cream stop all-in-one. Their rotating list of homemade ice creams and sorbets has many flavors to choose from. It’s a great balance between classics (with a twist) and completely unique flavors. We stumbled upon it after having dinner at Reservoir, a restaurant also adjacent to the hotel. Grab dinner, grab a drink, hang out in their pool lounge area, then grab some ice cream before you leave. Sounds like a perfect night to me.

Sites // Activities

Definitely check out a few sites while you are in the area. I’m kind of a closeted interior design/architecture fangirl. So Palm Springs was a fitting place to indulge in tile work, woodwork, coffee tables and more! Here’s where I visited:

  • Parker Palm Springs – The photos above are just their lobby area…so that gives you a small peek into how the rest of the hotel’s design standards are. Hotel guests can roam the grounds and lounge around on their hammocks and abundant lawn seating. Their patio brunch restaurant, Norma’s (pictured above in the food & drink section), offers a mid-50s vibe with it’s olive green, orange creamsicle and muted teal color scheme.
  • That Pink Door – Apparently there is an official Palm Springs door tour, which is interesting. It’s an open invitation to stalk people’s houses to admire their eclectic front doors and aesthetically pleasing landscaping. But because of the heat, we ended up just visiting the coveted Pink Door, took pics and ran back inside the air-conditioned car. Definitely an Instagram-friendly spot. I would’ve wanted to do the whole tour if we had the time.
  • Palm Springs Aerial Tramway – Not pictured, but during a past visit to Palm Springs, I’ve taken this amazing/scary, rotating tram ride up the Chino Canyon mountainside in San Jacinto National Park. No explanation needed other than it’s worth it to witness beautiful, scenic views 8,516 feet above the valley. There are two observation decks, two restaurants, a number of hiking trails and a museum. It’s also much cooler up there!

Fun Facts

Did you know that the summer time in Palm Springs is their off-season? I didn’t either until one of our Lyft drivers told us when we were wondering why half of the restaurants we wanted to go to weren’t open and noticed there weren’t many people walking around town. Apparently after festival season (Coachella & Stage Coach), tourist activity winds down as the desert gets even hotter, so a number of business owners find it better to close up shop on a few strategic, slow summer weeks. Who would’ve known? Not me apparently!


Girls Weekend

My recent trip to Palm Springs was one I’ll always remember because it’s the girls weekend that transformed us from childhood best friends into a “bridal gang.” It’s the weekend that Lauren asked us to be her bridesmaids!! ❤ What an official door-opening into the chapter of young adulthood it was.

My heart is warm knowing that we can still make it a priority to remove ourselves from our busy schedules once in a while to reconnect with one another. I love and appreciate these girls more than they probably know and this trip was was much needed. Check them out below 😉 Anyways, cheers to more girls weekends and sharing life’s milestones with one another! xx

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Sincerely,

Melissa Beee.

Napa Valley // Fine Wine + Good Times

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Photo captured on Annalyn’s Canon AE-1 Camera using Ektar 100 film ❤ 

– Are #ThrowbackTravel posts a thing? –

Well if they aren’t…they are now! Perfect way to hide the fact that it took me just over a year to compile only some of my video footage from my trip to Napa Valley… *insert embarrassed face emoji here*

Let’s forget that fact and move on to what the video features. It captures just a snippet of my second trip to Napa Valley with some of my childhood friends ❤ It was my first real attempt to vlog my travel adventures and I definitely have a lot to learn, but there is no better way to learn videography than to just do it right? I’m pretty proud of this video, so I hope you enjoy!

As a girl that grew up in the smoggy city of Los Angeles, I never get used to how much fresher the air is in NorCal and how serene it is particularly in Napa. My inner boujee grandma alter ego loves it. What’s a better pairing to the rolling hillsides, vineyard views and the fresh air than good food, good company and good wine?

–  Places I visited that I highly recommend –

  • Oxbow Public Market: this is a good place to take advantage of variety.  You can divide and conquer the market by visiting with a group and getting bites from all the different vendors! There is a lot to choose from. I was able to enjoy delicious artisan pizza, a yummy breakfast burrito and a hearty deli sandwich all in the same weekend!
  • Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ: Located in Downtown Napa, this BBQ joint is the shopfront of a larger “wine insider” company. They are open until midnight on Friday and Saturdays and offer a large menu of wines to choose from. But be sure to put your name down or make a reservation in advance! We put our name down and walked around the city for an hour or so before getting our names called.
  • Joseph Phelps Winery: I’ve been to this winery before because my lovely friend Vanessa had a membership, but this time, the renovations they were working on last time were complete! The newly redesigned terrance was cozy and had an amazing view of the vineyard. It’s a great place for a low key, classy wine tasting. A lot of other wineries in Napa have become more of a tourist attraction and it was nice to be able to concentrate on the wine and not the noise of tourist group chatter.
  • Castello di Amorosa: Speaking of “touristy” spots, this is definitely one of them. I mean, why wouldn’t groves of people want to drink wine in the cellar of a castle?! Who wouldn’t want to make your way to the highest point of the castle and pretend to rule over all the peoples below?! I would say it’s worth a visit, but I didn’t find the wine tasting experience as intimate as the one I experienced at Joseph Phelps. The tasting is more like a bar scene, with servers running back and forth between groups. But, I think it was worth the visit for the views and cute farm animals that live there 🙂

Hope you enjoyed a little look into my Napa Valley trip. Maybe there will be a part two?? There is a lot of footage leftover and I’d like to compile it sometime soon. Video editing just takes so much time! When I get into it…I stare into the computer screen for hours and look up to see the day has gone. I need to choose a day to dedicate to another edit or edit in small increments. We’ll see! I definitely want to take up vlogging more so I can capture all these fun travel moments. I look forward to putting together more videos and developing my own vlogging style.

Sincerely,

Mez ❤

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Photos taken by: Annalyn

Instagram Hot-Spot: Melrose Avenue

Melrose Ave.

Carrera Cafe – La La Land Mural

I recently went on a Los Angeles photo-taking adventure with my childhood friend Annie and her roommate Sicilia 🙂 Our main goal was to take pictures in front of the La La Land mural on Melrose Ave., after I came across it on my Instagram feed. I immediately thought of Annie because even though she lives in the OC now, she’s always down for adventures in LA, especially when photography is involved. She’s also a sucker for the movie just as much as I am.

Side note: Annie also has a blog and posts about her awesome photography, so you should check her stuff out HERE 😉

A few weeks went by until we were both free to make a trip, and we had it all planned out. I wore a yellow dress to sort-of match the dress Emma Stone wears in the movie and everything! (Don’t judge me). After the outfit-planning, enduring the usual LA traffic and struggle to find parking…we discovered that the mural was gone.  At the time, Coachella was two weeks away, so the wall had been overhauled into a festival-themed Lady Gaga mural. 😦 Not that I don’t love Lady Gaga and no shade on Coachella…but we were just so excited to check out the La La Land mural! So sad. Here are screen shots from Carrera Cafe’s Instagram:

After we took a few moments to mope about the loss of our La La Land opportunity, we still made the most of our time at Carrera Cafe and grabbed ourselves cute lattes. The cafe is well-known for it’s awesome, meme-friendly latte art:

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You best believe I got myself Ryan Gosling latte art to cope.

Paul Smith Wall

As we sipped our coffees next to the popular Lady Gaga wall, we noticed droves of people across the street as well, taking pictures in front of another Instagram-famous spot: the Paul Smith Wall (aka The Pink Wall). It’s a very interesting situation to observe, so I had a very good time people-watching. It’s literally a parking lot for the clothing store. Yet, an abnormal amount of people were hanging out in it with little-to-no intention of actually walking into the store. Their only intention was to take pictures. So odd…so fascinating…very LA. So,we joined the crowd to see what it was all about. Can you blame people for being attracted to a bright pink wall? Forget about the Hollywood sign that’s impossible to get to now-a-days, go to the Pink Wall instead! Haha. Jk…but not really.

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Fred Segal Green Ivy Wall

After partaking in the Paul Smith wall hype, we continued to walk down Melrose Ave. and stumbled upon a wall covered in vines from top to bottom! It was such a pretty green so we made a pit stop. Even as the cars zoomed by, we had no shame in our photoshoot game. A few other girls actually picked up on the photo-op and asked if we could take their pictures too! I don’t think it’s on the typical list of “Instagrammable” spots in L.A., but we thought it was cute, so why not? Do what makes you happy! If you’re curious to know it’s location, it’s the Fred Segal clothing store building on Melrose and North Crescent Heights Blvd. (I definitely looked that up on Google maps right now)

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Made in LA Mural

As we continued our trek down the street, we found a noticeable line (less hype than the Pink Wall though) in front of the Made in LA mural. I ended up not enjoying this one as much, maybe because I was getting hungry lol, the midday heat, or maybe because it wasn’t vibrant pink or green. I’ll never know for sure. A contributing factor could be the pressure we felt with the presence of a line of people waiting for their turn. It was also slightly difficult to capture the whole wall without having to be in the street…so we quickly snapped a few photos and headed on back to the car.

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I’m positive there are plenty more “Instagram Hot Spots” down Melrose Avenue. But after the Made in LA wall, we headed back to the car to check on our parking meter. Definitely don’t want to get a ticket in LA! Then we headed to Arts District/Little Tokyo for some food. But that’s a different blog post 🙂

What “Instagram Hot-Spots” have you been to in LA? I’d like to know 🙂 We do it for the ‘Gram am I right?! No? Okay…lol. In all seriousness, do it for the memories people, not just for the ‘gram!

Sincerely,

Melissa ❤