Fall House Tour

With Halloween just around the corner I thought it would be appropriate to share our fall decorations! It's so much fun to decorate a space that is yours and you know the decorated spaces will be the base for many happy memories. There are distinct pieces that I remember my mom decorating with in my childhood home that I always looked forward to her putting out every year. That's what I'm hoping to put together here. Each year I try to pick up a few new pieces to add to the collection so that it gets more and more fall-y. Enjoy!

Leaves on the stair railing and "welcome friends" seen upon entry. Watercolor art with the pumpkin and "happy fall yall" are hung down the entry hall. The bench next to the door has pumpkin wind chimes and a spider with web on the mirror.

Living Room
Happy Fall pumpkin on the side table. Seasonal place mat in the tray on the ottoman with a rustic pumpkin basket to hold the remotes.

Fall banner hung on the mantle; wheat flanking both ends. Trio of pumpkins on the left and trio of Halloween figurines on the right. Canvas art of apple, pumpkin, and leaf was a craft project for me at the beginning of the season - love how it turned it out!

Couldn't resist these figurines to add to the decor this year!

Dining Room
Red candles in the sconces with miniature pumpkin fillers. Halloween collection on the buffet - pumpkin serving platter, spider candy dish, trio of orange lanterns, and ghost and pumpkin votives. Dining room table has a new runner and place mats. Centerpiece is a bread basket with miniature gourds and pumpkins with mums in the vases.

Front Door
"E" fall wreath and mums. "Beware of Monsters" says the cat!

We're ready for the trick or treaters!

Snacks on cutting boards

Patrick and I often find ourselves turning to our bamboo cutting board whenever we need an impromptu casual platter. It's really the best of both worlds - for utility purposes, you can prep on the board and then bring it right out of the kitchen for serving and for aesthetic purposes, you'll find that the bamboo elevates your presentation of said simply prepped ingredients.

In the past two weeks we've used our bamboo cutting boards as snack / luncheon platters.

Last weekend we had friends coming into town and were pit stopping at our house before continuing to their hotel. They were arriving around 4pm and I thought to have something on hand for them when they got here would be a good idea. I picked up a brie wedge and had the rest on hand - sliced salami, pear, and crackers. Slicing the pear required the most work here since I placed a cheese knife with the brie and made everything serve yourself! After the pear was sliced and the cutting board assembled I brought it to the living room and set it on the ottoman so we could all chat and relax on the sofa. Perfect!

Then last weekend Patrick and I had a nice brunch at the house and with plans to fix dinner we turned to the pantry to put together an antipasti platter for lunch. I had picked up salami at the grocery store that day and everything else was from the refrigerator or pantry. There were pickled beets, crackers, dark chocolate covered pretzels, salami, cheddar cheese slices, and dilly beans. We've always enjoyed keeping fruit and cheese on hand for afternoon snacks but now I'm also making more of an effort to have more substantial items for us. We typically have "snack-y" lunches on the weekend and this is a great way to do that.

For this particular lunch we picked up the bamboo board and headed outside! It was a gorgeous fall day and it was nice to sit outside and enjoy each other's company over a simple lunch.

Meal Plan Monday Post

Hello! Hope everyone had a nice weekend with this beautiful fall weather. The leaves are falling right on cue and the days are warming to the low 70s - just perfect! Today we're sharing two weeks of meal plans since California interrupted our regularly scheduled programming last week. We've been trying to cook at home to make up for all of the vacation eating and all the Halloween candy eating that'll be taking place in the week ahead. We also had a neighborhood get together yesterday and nibbled on a delicious spread at that.

Meal Plan for Monday October 12 - Sunday October 25

Monday - Late flight from California (ate at Buffalo Wild Wings during our layover)
Tuesday - Chicken tetrazzini from the freezer
Wednesday - Separate: Whitney after a Junior League meeting and Patrick grabbed the dinner provided at work
Thursday - String bean and arugula pasta
Friday - Afternoon snack and Rehearsal dinner
Afternoon snack with incoming out of town friends - brie, salami, pears, crackers
Saturday - Breakfast Apple cider muffins and sausage balls
   Lunch Chicken salad croissants and fruit
   Dinner Wedding reception - the most delicious Latin Southern fusion buffet ever!
Sunday - Brunch Alivia's
   DPAC Matinee
   Dinner Mellow Mushroom

Monday - One pot orzo with green beans and shrimp
Tuesday - Mixed greens salad with beets and orange, dilly beans, and fried green tomatoes
Wednesday - Crockpot sausage and peppers served with peppers
Thursday - Southwestern stuffed spaghetti squash
Friday - Pork tenderloin, roasted acorn squash, arugula
Saturday - Breakfast Fried egg with leftover pork
   Lunch Antipasti platter
   Dinner Grandma's pizza
Sunday - Brunch Oatmeal and biscotti
   Lunch Fall Festival spread
   Dinner Pizza leftovers

Happy Monday!

LA & San Diego

We're at our final destination of the California roadtrip! To me, southern California is what I mainly associate California with - the beaches, the barefeet, the surfers, and the laidback lifestyle. We did some kayaking on the Pacific Ocean here and I think that was the highlight of the trip! The itinerary starts with the travel day to Del Mar (where we were staying; about 30 minutes north of San Diego) from Santa Barbara. The travel day went through Los Angeles and we did all the glitzy Hollywood things there. Our full days in the San Diego area were filled with the San Diego Zoo, sea kayaking, and wedding activities. Here's the itinerary:

Friday 10/9: Santa Barbara to Del Mar
Breakfast at the inn
Leave for Getty Villa
Visit Getty Villa Pacific Palisades [84 miles; 2h]
  17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. Architecture & Garden Tours
?? Lunch at Getty Villa
Visit Griffith Observatory 213-473-0800
  2800 East Observatory Rd. Los Angeles, CA 90027 [32 miles; 55m]
Hollywood sign - Hiking to the sign via the Mt Hollywood Trail
Hollywood & Highland - Visit Kodak Theatre, Walk of Fame
Parking available here from Highland Ave or Orange Dr ($15 daily max)
End destination: Hilton Del Mar [105 miles; 2h]

Saturday 10/10: Del Mar [San Diego]
Leave for San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo San Diego | Tickets $48, Hours 9a-6p Visitor Info
  2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101 in Balboa Park
Cocktail party

Sunday 10/1: Del Mar [La Jolla]
7335 Girard Avenue, La Jolla, CA 92037 > Corner of Girard Ave & Genter St
Original Sea Cave Kayak Tour with Everyday Adventure
   2246 Avenida De La Playa, La Jolla, California 92037 at La Jolla Shores
Wedding and reception @ L’Auberge Del Mar (858) 259-1515

Our morning started with a delicious breakfast at our Santa Barbara bed and breakfast. Getty Villa was our first destination of the day and was about two hours away. J. Paul Getty was an American industrialist and oil tycoon. Getty Villa is an "educational center and museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. The collection has 44,000 Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities dating from 6,500 BC to 400 AD." [Wikipedia] Getty Villa was constructed in the 1970s and is modeled after a first-century Roman country house also called a villa. Getty Villa is an exhibit in and of itself; there are also the art collections to browse through, the architectural elements to take in, and the gardens to see as well.

There are various complementary tours offered throughout the day. We chose to do the architecture tour and I would highly recommend doing a tour if you visit the Getty Villa. They're short walking tours throughout the site and the tour guide provides a lot of information and interesting tidbits of things that you might miss without the tour.

We had arrived to the Getty Villa around 11am; it took us about two hours to do the architecture tour and walk through all the exhibits and grounds. There was a decent cafe on the grounds where we had lunch. We ate and then hopped in the car for Los Angeles proper.

The Griffith Observatory was definitely on our list of attractions to see in LA. Griffith Observatory is nestled up on Mount Hollywood with an expansive view of the city and surrounding area plus the Hollywood sign! Patrick would describe Griffith Observatory as a "cool astronomy museum with awesome views of LA; that's about it." <editor's note: if you haven't been able to tell Whitney is writing all of these posts but Patrick is going into the html and fixing the pictures the way she wants them! Those were his two cents on Griffith> If we had planned an overnight for LA then it would've been really neat to go to the observatory after sunset to see the cosmos and the telescopes in action.

A Patrick Panorama

Whenever we chatted with folks about our California road trip and what to expect we got lots of weather feedback for San Francisco - it would be chillier than it seemed and to pack lots of layers. Well I wish someone would've told us southern California was going to be hot as blazes!! I was not expecting how hot it was going to be. I was expecting warm, comfortable temperatures but it was like summer out there! Our itinerary had us walking out to the Hollywood sign as there's a trail connecting to it from the observatory parking lot. We quickly scrapped this off the itinerary due to the weather and extreme sweatiness.

After our observatory visit we headed down to the glamorous Hollywood Boulevard. We parked near Hollywood and Highland so we could see the Walk of Fame, the Chinese Theatre, and the entrance for the Academy Awards. We tried to kill as much time as we could here to let major congestion pass (if that's possible in LA?!). We were hoping to catch a movie at the famed Chinese Theatre but alas the movie times didn't work out for us. 

We had another late check in once we arrived in Del Mar. Regardless we were still up and ready to go by about 9am. At this point we were able to rendezvous with our wedding guest friends that had arrived for the festivities. We corralled two other couples to venture into San Diego with us and visit the famed San Diego Zoo. When we were planning the trip and getting ideas on what to visit from folks I would say the top attractions we heard the most were the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the San Diego Zoo. 

Your ticket into the zoo includes a tram ride and a guided bus tour. I had read somewhere that recommended taking the bus tour when you first arrive because it wouldn't be quite as busy in the morning and you'd get a good idea of how the zoo was laid out. I second this recommendation! Everyone in our group commented on how nice the bus ride was. We may have even seen more animals from the top of the bus than walking up to the different exhibits. 

"bobcat" exhibit (it's really just under construction)
We all had fun walking throughout the zoo. It's quite impressive. It was, however, really hot! The zoo was fun to do but I'm not sure I'd put it at the top of a must-see list in California. We've all been to zoos before and this was just another zoo in my opinion. But it was large, there were lots of animals to see, there were unique exhibits, and a fun place to wander around so not a bad way to spend your time.
After the zoo we came back to our hotel room for a quick swim in the pool (remember, so hot!) then we got ready for a cocktail party.

The wedding was on a Sunday afternoon and the ceremony started at 4:30pm. What did this mean for us?! We had one more morning to fit in an activity! And we had saved the best for last! We had a late morning Sea Cave Kayak Tour by Everyday California in La Jolla Shores. Kayaking on the Pacific Ocean was amazing! Looking at the Pacific Ocean versus being on the water are completely different and I just thought it was really cool to say "hey look we're kayaking the Pacific Ocean". The kayaks on the tour are double seaters so Patrick and I were able to kayak together. A group of 10 kayaks are led by two tour guides out onto the waters to paddle over to view the 7 La Jolla Sea Caves.     

Before kayaking (wasn't recommended to bring phones on the tour)
"The seven sea caves in La Jolla are perched within a 75-million-year-old sandstone sea cliff. These seven sculpted cave openings face north, as they sit in between beach of La Jolla Shores and the sandy beach of La Jolla Cove. The seven sea caves are named as follows, from west to east: The Clam’s Cave, Sunny Jim’s Cave, Arch Cave, Sea Surprize, Shopping Cart, Little Sister, and White Lady. The La Jolla Sea Caves are only accessible by kayak, except Sunny Jim's." [Wikipedia]

Unfortunately the rough breaking waves prevented us from entering the sea caves. Paddling along the coastline wasn't rough at all though and we didn't have any trouble paddling the kayak. Our tour guides would stop the group every 10 or 15 minutes to give a brief chat about the different sea caves and give some interesting tales about the houses and residents on the cliffs and the geography of the area. At one intersection of two cliffs was the meeting of two tectonic plates! With all that said, if you're in the San Diego area we highly recommend a sea cave kayak tour.

And then we got dressed up for the wedding!

Then there was this beautiful sunset and it was time to go home.

And that's all, folks!

Big Sur & Santa Barbara

We're nearly halfway through our trip! Did you catch the meal plan or intro to our California road trip posts? How about the San Francisco or Monterey posts?! All of those will catch you up to this point where we start with a travel day leaving Monterey en route to Santa Barbara. In Santa Barbara we had an awesome wine tour! Here's our itinerary:

Wednesday 10/7: Monterey to Santa Barbara
Leave Monterey (grab coffee and pastries?)
Travel to Bixby Bridge stop off
Lunch Nepenthe  48510 California 1, Big Sur, CA 93920
Arrive Hearst Castle San Simeon [96 miles; 2h37m from Monterey]
  750 Hearst Castle Road, San Simeon, CA 93452
Notes: The Grand Rooms Tour ($25, 45min) is also recommended for first time visitors.
End destination: Bath Street Inn (805) 682-9680
  1720 Bath St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 [135 miles; 2h23m]
Casual dinner

Thursday 10/8: Santa Barbara
Breakfast at the inn
Wine tour with Wine Edventures [lunch picnic included]
explore Santa Barbara - dinner downtown

The Wednesday travel day was by far our most beautiful travel day. The majority of the trip was spent driving through Big Sur. It was told to me that the Big Sur coastline is where many iconic rocky California coast pictures come from. Big Sur comprises the central coast of California and doesn't have much development through the area so it's just nature. The views driving through this area did not disappoint - the crazy turns and road cut out on the side of the mountain did though. Let's just say Patrick heard "honey, please slow down" more than he cared to. For this reason I would recommend starting the Pacific Coast Highway at a southern point and driving north. In our planning I had the foresight to recognize this as an issue but we had a wedding the weekend immediately after this trip that prevented us from doing this.

Before we got to Big Sur we ventured into Point Lobos State Natural Reserve which is a short drive south of Monterey and on our way to our next destination! Even though this was on the itinerary we started to skip it because we had another state park further south that we knew we wanted to stop at and figured they'd be about the same. We ending up stopping because we realized we were leaving so early (our bodies still hadn't adjusted to the west coast time difference) that we would be getting to our lunch restaurant at 10:30am and it didn't even open until 11am. And also a friend had highly recommended it! With this in mind we decided to stop at Point Lobos and kill a bit of time. The itinerary only gave us about a 20 minute pit stop. With about 45 minutes on our hands we walked along the meandering paths and trails and were not disappointed.

A Patrick Panorama
See what I mean?! We walked along the South Shore Trail that took us up to Sea Lion Point and to see the Sea Lion Rocks. Guess what was on the Sea Lion Rocks?? Sea Lions! There were volunteers along the trail that had scopes set up on sea animals. We saw otters playing in the kelp and sea lions hanging out.
Other wildlife

One of the volunteers recommended stopping on our way out at a feature in the western part of the reserve called Bird Island. At this point we were still ahead of the itinerary and loved walking along the South Shore Trail so we decided to do it! We found the trailhead for the Bird Island Trail and set off along the path. The scenic views here were slightly different than the ones from South Shore Trail but were just as impressive. Oh ... and no birds on Bird Island!

China Cove
Finally we were all caught up with our itinerary although probably a little behind now because we were really enjoying our time in Point Lobos! I would venture that this was a top highlight of our trip and something not to be missed if you're in the area. 

After Point Lobos our next itinerary pit stop was Bixby Bridge. If you've done any research into the Pacific Coast Highway you've probably seen a picture of this bridge. According to Wikipedia it is "one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world and one of the most photographed bridges along the Pacific Coast due to its aesthetic design and location." Oops we didn't get a picture! This was by far the busiest turnout on our trip ... so busy we couldn't even get in the turnout to park. We made an in the moment decision that consisted of "oh it's just a bridge we can just keep going". So far I don't regret this decision.

After our bridge blunder next up was lunch at Nepenthe. Something on google told me this was the best place to stop for food and views in Big Sur! As always google didn't let us down. We had mountains to the left and the Pacific Ocean to the right. There was a bit of a wait once we got to the restaurant but they have a cute gift shop to walk around in and pass the time. 

Full from our lunch we got back on the road en route to Hearst Castle with a pitstop at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park to see McWay Falls. McWay Falls is considered a tidefall because it falls into the ocean. One website says it is the most photographed attraction of the Pacific Coast Highway. I imagine there are quite a few claims to that since this area is stunning - no matter where you stop! But McWay Falls was pretty cool. The parking lot for the park was full so we pulled off to the side of the highway. The trail is accessible from the highway and less than a 1/4 mile to an overlook of the tidefall.

McWay Falls (just to the left of center in the picture)
We probably spent less than twenty minutes on the McWay Falls trail since the overlook was such a short distance from the highway. The trail continued further to a "waterfall house" but we were about an hour out from our next destination and didn't have time to wander. By midafternoon we arrived at the glorious Hearst Castle!

Entrance to Casa Grande
Hearst Castle is the mansion built for William Randolph Hearst, an American newspaper magnate who began his career in the late 19th century. If you're traveling along the Pacific Coast Highway this is kind of an in the middle of nowhere and you're probably wanting to take a break from riding so stopping here is a nice convenience. The estate contains 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways. 

We toured the main rooms of the Casa Grande which is the main house on the grounds. We went through the assembly room, refectory, billiard room, and the theater. The gardens and pools are open to browsing after the tour. There are evening tickets offered that allow you to see the area as a guest of Hearst would have. The heyday of Hearst Castle was in the 1920s and 1930s. During the evening tour the docents dress up in era attire and offer the immersive tour. Unfortunately this tour is only offered on select days and we weren't visiting on a select day which was a disappointment because I was really interested in it!

Dining Room

Walking around the estate & billiard room

View from a terrace looking out to the Pacific Ocean
The Roman Pool, the tiled indoor pool

William Randolph Hearst affectionately referred to his estate as The Enchanted Hill. In the above picture you can get an idea for how big the hill was! The estate is sitting right along the mountainous horizon! There is a 5 mile bus ride to get to Hearst Castle.

Our evening concluded with a late check in to the Bath Street Inn Bed & Breakfast in Santa Barbara and a quick trip to the closest In-N-Out for the raved about burgers! We both thought the In-N-Out was a bit over hyped.

Bath Street Inn
We chose the Bath Street Inn because they offered a wine tour package with Wine eDventures. Despite our late check-in we were up for our breakfast and ready to go at 10am for our wine tour. The wine tour was over the Santa Ynez mountains (about a 45 minute drive from Santa Barbara) and the wineries are located in the Santa Ynez Valley. Our tour guide was awesome - very informative about the local wine history and wine production as well. We've done a few tours before and are familiar with the production process but it's always interesting to hear about the history of an area and how the wine economy was established there. We visited three wineries and a fourth tasting room. 

From their website: "Nestled under California pepper trees and overlooking the Alamo Pintado Vineyard near Solvang, Lincourt retains the rural charm and simplicity of an earlier era. Once a dairy property, the old farmhouse—an original 1926 Sears Craftsman kit home—serves as our tasting room. ... This area was largely unknown when the winery was founded in 1996, but today it is one of the most coveted, cool-climate AVAs in all of California."

From their website: "Take an Australian-born winemaker, give him twenty years making wine in California and Australia... then add some of the best grapes from two continents and what do you get? An outstanding portfolio of wines from Santa Barbara County, California, Australia, Portugal, France, Spain and Italy. All created with pride, imagination and flair."

From their website: "Wishing to make his own wines, and with a fondness for Santa Barbara, Fred and his family established The Brander Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley in 1975, where he quickly developed a reputation for making outstanding Sauvignon Blanc. Fred’s passion for this varietal has committed him to be California’s top producer of Sauvignon. With over 30 vintages “in the bottle,” he is a pioneer of the Santa Barbara wine country."

Brander Vineyard had a resident winery cat named Figgy so this was obviously our favorite winery!

From the website: "A California resident since childhood, Bob Lindquist named his winery “qupĂ©” to honor the Chumash, the indigenous people of the Golden State’s Central Coast and Channel Islands. Since many of the sounds of the Chumash language have been obscured by time, Bob gave “qupe” its pronunciation (“kyoo-pay”), with an accent on the final syllable."

The wine tour concluded at the Qupe tasting room in downtown Los Olivos. I guess since there weren't any grapes around I didn't think it was worthwhile to take a picture.

After the wine tour was over we decided to do some walking around Santa Barbara. We headed to the Old Mission Santa Barbara and did the self-guided tour. This wasn't on our itinerary but the wine tour guide said we should go visit it when we asked him how we should spend the rest of the day. 

From the website: "The Santa Barbara Mission was established on the Feast of Saint Barbara, December 4, 1786 and was the tenth of twenty-one California Missions to be founded by the Spanish Franciscans. More than 200 years later, the Mission continues to be the chief cultural and historic landmark in the city of Santa Barbara. Home to a community of Franciscan friars, a beautiful church with a large and active parish; a museum and gift shop; a cemetery and mausoleum; and twelve acres of beautifully landscaped gardens. The Mission's commanding position and grand proportions, graceful lines and soft, blending colors all reinforce her title, Queen of the Missions."
Inside Old Mission Santa Barbara, courtyard
View from the steps of the mission
Our day was ending and we trekked over to downtown to see the Santa Barbara County Courthouse and have dinner as the sun set. There were all sorts of walking throughout this vacation! The courthouse is a gorgeous Spanish colonial revival style building completed in 1929. We knew we were there when we rounded the street corner and saw the clock tower. We used this time to take a break in the gardens and decide on a spot for dinner. Good time to take a selfie too.

A Patrick Panorama
The evening concluded with an authentic Mexican dinner at Carlitos Cafe y Cantina in downtown Santa Barbara. We were seated on their outdoor patio just as the lights were coming on throughout the city. 

Only one more stop to go - San Diego!