Highlights: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day

During the Holidays, most of the fun for me comes from the build-up, immersing myself in the spirit of the season. Weeks of planning, shopping, listening to holiday music, wrapping presents, going to festive parties, stopping by The Grove, sipping warm beverages, decorating and then enjoying the warm glow of a Christmas tree; and before you know it, it’s showtime…


After a relaxing and lazy start to the day, we spent Christmas Eve in Downtown Santa Cruz walking along the quaint Pacific Avenue.  It was an afternoon perusing charming boutiques and the used book and music stores. Of course, out of all the boutique places around us, I go and buy something from The Gap (I know, which is like everywhere!). I also tried my boyfriend’s favorite cookie from his old stomping grounds (delish!) before meeting up for a casual dinner and movie with his family. We ended the night with a short drive around town to look at Christmas lights in the neighborhood. It was definitely beginning to look a lot like Christmas!


{Strolling Pacific Avenue.}

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{Enjoying the famous Lemon Drop cookie from the Pacific Cookie Company.}


{Admiring the marquee of the old Del Mar Theater.}


{Inside the Del Mar. Our Christmas Eve movie was Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away in 3D. Warning: amazing visuals, super boring and shallow story line.}


Rise and shine, bright and early. Christmas day had arrived and it was filled with lots of smiles, gratitude, food and good company. Let’s just say Santa was very kind this year. It’s always the things you’ve had your eye on, but mentally filed away for another time that happen to magically appear under the tree that are my favorite. I also love a really good surprise. This year after giving and receiving gifts that couldn’t have been more perfect, my boyfriend went and did the unbelievable. The last gift opened was a paper confirmation of a 3 night hotel stay in Carmel. Our Northern California Christmas was being extended! Here are just few photo highlights that don’t even begin to capture all the highlights of that special day. I was in such a fog of happiness, I rarely took my camera out.


{Sneak peek at some of the wrapped presents.}


{Surprise! I’d been eyeing these awesome purple hand blown glasses from Maison Midi on La Brea for months!}


{Picture this: A 4.5 pound bag of Hot Tamales, gift-wrapped! I didn’t even know they came this big!}


{Victoria’s Secret gift card. Always a welcomed present.}


{Getting ready for dinner.}


{Hotel confirmation for a 3 night stay in Carmel!}


American Rag Cie

Location: 150 South La Brea Avenue, Mid-City

American Rag. This place is bittersweet for me. On the one hand, I love the idea of killing some time sifting through vintage clothes looking for that perfect one of a kind piece that I can throw on and say, “look what I found!”

Unfortunately, the handful of times I’ve been to American Rag I usually kill some time sifting through the clothes thinking, “I can’t afford this crap!”

Don’t get me wrong, I admitted it’s a love hate relationship with this shop. The place screams “trendy” just in the clientele that’s perusing the aisles next to you. It’s pretty clear that stylists from all over town are looking for special outfits for that next photo or film shoot; while you’re simply looking for something that you like, can afford, and actually fits. If your wallet doesn’t quite expand so far as to justify spending $100 for a shirt, the best times to visit this place seems to be when things go on sale. What fun it is to try on sweaters during the hot sticky summer days to save 30% on something you can’t wear for another three months anyway.

Unfortunately, a notorious reputation looms over American Rag (and I share a somewhat similar distaste) with some of their staffing choices. At times, it’s been great, no problems. Hooray! Other times, that LA hipster vibe is alive and well. I recall buying a belt once and the guy at the register acting like he was doing me a favor because I was shopping in the almighty American Rag and got to leave with something.

As with any vintage shopping trip, the key is just to decide to head in and look around but for not anything specific. You might find something that appeals to your fancy, you might not. My experience has been the latter here and it has much more to do with the over-pricing versus the selection.

I have consistently better experiences when I wander next door to the connecting Maison Midi boutique. Still expensive, but ultra-cool to take a peek in if you’re looking for something on the home front. Awesome perk? Seeing huge plates of food walk past you from their in-house cafe. I’ve never eaten at the Midi Cafe, but not to worry, it’s on my bucket list and you’ll be the first to know when it happens. Stay tuned.

As for American Rag, take this place and its hype with a grain of salt. It can be a great experience or not. Either way, you’ve been warned.