California dreamin'.....

Hi there. First things first, the two lucky winners of the Christmas Magic Contest. There is one winner from each round. Congratulations goes to..........

1ST PLACE.  From round 1, congratulations goes to this wonderful picture submitted by Susan......

Honorable mention goes to this amazing picture which was just a few votes behind........

FIRST PLACE. From round 2 congratulations goes to Lauren who submitted this wonderful picture....

And an honorable mention goes to this special shot....

Please contact me at to claim your prize. Thanks to all who sent in their pictures and to all the readers who participated in the voting. I will announce a new contest in the next few days...and it's going to be a fun one!

 As most of you know I was away on vacation (much needed) in gorgeous sunny California. We,  as in my family,  like to start things and end things with a bang. We got there only for my husband to arrive sick, first cold, then bad headcold then he felt like the flu was brewing, so we were at the doctors New Years Eve....thankfully antibiotics acted quickly and by day 4 he was doing much better. To his credit, he was a trooper except that our New Years eve plans did not materialize. We first were in gorgeous, tony Laguna Beach. To say its heavenly is an understatement which is why we go back. And back again. I am not even going to get into my MAJOR airline drama with Jetblue and the nightmarish experience getting back. If it were up to them I would just be flying back tonight, to be continued......

We then went to the not so shabby Beverly Hills. Now personally for me, having been a few times and not having any daughters to shop with:).....I would have been happy to have planted myself poolside in Laguna but my son and friend wanted to check "the scene" and did they ever! They spotted a few celebs, got to waltz down Rodeo Drive like regulars on a daily basis and we all enjoyed dining at some really fabulous restaurants, I mean REALLY good!!  The weather you ask.....PICTURE PERFECT. Seriously could not have been more incredible. High 70s, zero humidity, sunny skies every single day...magnificent!! God was looking out for us:)

So as I tend to do...I am sharing a ton of pictures, I am talking TONS. VERY picture heavy, not much narration and yes there are many "of the same thing" (come on, you have come to expect that of me by now, right)  but trust me if you were there you too would have been intoxicated by the view, it was just that incredible!! I even included my lists of "loves" for anyone contemplating a trip to the area anytime soon. There are SO many pictures here, I can almost guarantee you will feel like too have traveled to California by the time you are done with this post..... Enjoy!

So first here are some Laguna highlights.......

 The view from breakfast I had to "endure" every morning....

Lobby of the Ritz Carlton in Laguna
 Lobby, many more pics to come!
 Just cannot get enough of the views...sensational!

 At all hours of the day and night..especially gorgeous at sunset/dusk!

 Loved watching the surfers
 And lone sailboats

 A room with a view.....

 The surfboards were on display throughout the hotel....a great reminder of the enviable California lifestyle!
And small reminders of Christmas were abound....

 The lower lobby....

 As soon as it warmed up around 10 this is where you would find me, in an utter trance over the view!
 We enjoyed afternoon coffee in this cozy seating area with those dramatic views!
Starting my walk......

Did this walk everyday, there was a wonderful walkway that went for many miles along the beach!
 Had fun stopping to watch the surfers do their thing.....
 Main lobby, gorgeous and so elegant!
 The views from the restaurant perched high on the cliff are simply out of this world!

 This was a fully edible Christmas was incredible!

 A wedding getting set up...what a setting!

Those California sunsets never ever get old!
 The flower displays in the lobby of the Ritz were so beautifully and artistically done

 View from the oceanfront restaurant at the Ritz at dusk......

 More lobby pics.....

Fell in love with these beautiful mantles in the hotel!

 The wine bar/restaurant....
 Those velvet chairs in front of the fireplace were where I planted myself with my iPad every morning at of my favorite times of the day before the world wakes up!

The walkway......
 The wedding getting set up......on a picture perfect day!

 Our view from another restaurant in about being spoiled!

 Another bride.....can't blame them for wanting to get married in Laguna!

Yes, obviously by now after seeing 50 pictures with this water know I was a bit obsessed!

 This was one of my favorite activities...doing nothing but sipping my coffee in the afternoon and gazing at the view.....
 The Ritz is perched high on a cliff overlooking the Pacific...the setting is truly priceless!

 As is the beach!

 I always pay attention to it an obsession, loved this!

 I am quite proud of these two artistic pictures....he was so cooperative!!
Think he enjoyed his little "photo sesh"

That small gazebo is where yoga is held every morning....

This has to be my favorite "view" shot......incredible!

This is a private dining room in the hotel where you can host small intimate dinners....
One of two pools....
That view just never gets old!

Moving onto Beverly Hills at The Montage....
Part of the beautiful luxurious room....
This cute birkin bag sign on the nightstand caught my was offering personal shopping services

 Part of our room at The Montage in Beverly Hills

 Gorgeous flower displays in stone urns in the lobby..gave me some ideas:) I also loved the soft candlelight

I love that Peets coffee is the coffee of choice everywhere and it was offered in the lobby every morning!

This is an area where you could get a light breakfast or have drinks in the afternoon..this was my "hangout" when I get up early, loved the quiet and peace, it was me, my cup of Peets and my iPad!

Strolling through Beverly Hills.....
This statue caught my attention, thought for a few minutes that they were real until I started thinking about how much his knees would hurt when he stood up after being crouched down that long (showing my age)!
Beautiful windowboxes!

The very elaborate feast displays in the windows of Versace
Beautiful perfect palm trees line the famous Rodeo Drive
The courtyard of our hotel.....

 The outdoor loggia area where we sat every morning with our coffee and croissants from Bouchon Bakery (it was a little too close and a little too convenient:)

 The courtyard area

 You know I am a sucker for topiaries!!

Flipped out over this luscious lemon trees...I want one!!!!!!!

Rodeo Drive was alive with Christmas spirit and plenty of power shoppers!

 Beautiful flooring in the lobby of our hotel....LOVED this!
 Evidence of my daily indulgence......
 Remnants of it's demise, sinfully good and worth every decadent bite!

In Santa Monica, went to very very poplar Gjelina, just loved the industrial cool vibe of the place and the food...out of this world!
One of the best pizzas and salads we have EVER had! was OUTSTANDING!!!

The famous Fred the ivy!!!!
Was soooo excited when I saw the storefront of Charm Cakes on Melrose (have watched their amazing creations many times on the food network)!

Their cakes are a true work of art.....
The fun cool scene at La Pain for breakfast......

AMAZING oatmeal! And their fresh baguettes out of the oven with butter and apricot jam was heavenly!

Le Pain,  on the corner of Melrose

OK fell in LOVE with this store, Dennis and Leen only it wasn't opened!! So I took pics through the windows with my trusty iPhone! So my style..and so elegant!

Every inch of their space was so incredibly and tastefully done!

Now here we are back at Laguna......morning yoga happens every morning in that gorgeous oceanfront structure! Thanks to TWO canceled flights with Jetblue which meant three extra nights here.....although hardly roughing it!

 I might be willing to move for this house on the ocean and golf course:)

Arriving to San Diego last stop en route to airport at long last (spent the day there)...toured the city, went to the gaslight district and had fun walking around, grabbing a coffee and taking in the lively scene!

You can't visit San Diego without a stop to the USS would feel sacrilegious plus there is a virtual "shrine" for Bob that guy!

Ok that's it....I promise!! Do you feel like you have been on vacation with me?

A few highlights I really recommend-

Laguna Beach- Ritz Carlton is fabulous as is the gorgeous Montage, both have superior service and views that cannot be beat! We have been to both and they are both winners in my book! (but the setting at the Ritz is truly unmatched)

Just walking around beautiful Laguna makes you want to diet and get into the best shape of your life. Everyone is so fit and healthy and the lifestyle is really conducive to looking and feeling your best. We did a lot of walking.

Beverly Hills- The Montage was amazing with incredible service and special very luxurious touches. Scarpetta is in the hotel and is fabulous. Ditto Bouchon Bakery 
And last Angelini Osteria another excellent choice!

Walking down Rodeo drive BEFORE all the tourists come out and pack the sidewalks is so enjoyable, we grabbed our coffee and enjoyed the relatively empty streets window shopping

Melrose, went to Le Pain Quotidien for breakfast, its organic/healthy (as is nearly everything in California) but REALLY good! I was so excited to learn they are also in Greenwich and Rye not so far away!!

Santa Monica/Venice Beach- Son and friend did the Segway tour and had such fun. Ate at Gjelina on funky and fun to to walk down Abott Kinney, the food was AMAZING, two of the best salad and pizzas we have ever eaten without an exaggeration. They open at 11:30 with a line of people ready to eat! Also love the industrial just feel cooler eating there LOL!

Those are just a few of my personal highlights. What can I say, California is one amazing place and I am reminded of it as I bundle up every morning  in my heavy down coat, scarf, boots and gloves...yep reminded every single morning that California dreamin' is mighty sweet!

Thanks for stopping in and checking in, wishing you a wonderful day and end to your week!

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