Highlights

my happy place ATG FINAL

{Finally, my toes are in the sand. It’s beginning to feel a lot like summer.}

Between you and me, I’ve had better weeks. Not that anything in particular happened to me personally that should make me say this. There’s just something in the air as of late that seems to be hitting nearly everyone around me, creating this level of….what…exhaustion, perhaps?  Truth be told, I’ve been dragging much of this week myself.  Add in the aftermath of what’s happening in the press and I suppose we’re bound to feel the effects of it.

Though I’m always mindful of being healthy, I tend to slip into patterns where I could be better about taking care of myself. The interesting (and somewhat frustrating) thing is that I feel like I have been taking better care of myself lately. I’m eating balanced meals and cutting back on sugar, which for me means addressing my more recently developed predilection for snacking after dinner. (I haven’t had Hot Tamales in weeks! And yes, this is a big deal.) I also had an invigorating yoga class that didn’t leave me practically disabled because it had been so long since I last practiced that I was sore for 3 days straight. In fact, I can feel myself improving. And with one exception where I stayed up late one night to put the finishing touches on my blog, I usually went bed at a decent time.

I realize there’s always room for improvement, so I’m going to spend some time this weekend focusing on what else I should add to take things up a notch (and if you’re yelling at me in your head right now to get more exercise on the books…I know, I know). Aside from this, I’m thinking I just need a little at home rejuvenation this weekend. It really could be as simple as a day lounging around in my PJs all day, reading books and watching movies.

As we wrap up another week, I’m decidedly going back to the last time I clearly remember being in my happy place. It started on a late Saturday morning last weekend: my notepad, a few magazines, the first Diet Cherry Coke I’d had in ages, chips and guacamole in the cooler, toes in the sand while watching the fog burn off and turn into pure sunshine on the beach in Malibu with my guy. From there, what more could I ask for when meeting new book club gals over brunch the very next day to chat about an engaging read? (Never mind that I’m now somehow juggling two different book clubs!) Oh, and let’s not forget what I think will become my new indulgence (in moderation, of course): crunchy french toast buried under strawberries. Yum!

In other words, after my first trip to the beach this season (and nearly at the end of it at that!); along with a warm Sunday morning brunch with new friends, somehow, it actually started to feel a little bit more like summer, like my happy place…and most certainly the highlights of life lately.

Have a great weekend!

Malibu Setup ATG FINAL

{Our set-up in the fog in a spot away from everyone…note to self: need beach chairs.}

Malibu Beach ATG FINAL

{Enjoying the view once the sun arrived.}

Trees to Brunch ATG FINAL

{Something breathtaking happened when I gazed up through the trees on the way to brunch.}

Crunchy French Toast ATG FINAL

{A great book club discussion and crunchy french toast (they’re dusted in cornflakes!) topped with fresh strawberries from a cafe 5 minutes from my house…this might become a problem.}

 Buddhist Boot Camp FB Quote

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Paradise Found

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{Beach day at Point Dume.}

Every summer over the last couple of years, I’ve made it a point to spend more time at the ocean. Beach days typically now find me at Point Dume in Malibu on late Saturday mornings well into the afternoon with all the essentials necessary to completely veg out and relax. In fact, aside from a $70 massage – I can’t think of anything else that actually does completely relax me. The sound of the waves, a good book, some snacks, and sand in your toes for a few hours always does the trick.

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{Morning waves.}

An even sweeter thing to partake in while in Malibu is a stop for lunch at Paradise Cove. Paradise Cove is a private beach about 2.5 miles northeast of Point Dume that loosely mimics the Beverly Hills Beach Club from 90210 (the Walsh-era one) minus the club membership with a much smaller stretch of sand. I’ve never had the expensive pleasure of spending the entire day here lounging on the private sands with a beach bed rental (which would run you about $90), but I do love to stop and eat at the Paradise Cove Beach Cafe.

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{Cafe.}

Full of cliché in a way that just works, Paradise Cove grants complete permission for guests to be as laid back and chillaxed as possible. The cafe, located right on the sandy beach, is on the pricier side at an average $20 an entrée, but is well worth the splurge. I can’t think of a place that serves larger portions (this place easily surpasses the Cheesecake Factory) and they welcome sharing meals without problem. I do find it funny that for a place full of bikinis, bathing suits, and things “beachy” that the restaurant would be so courageous as to serve so much food. I mean, who wants to pig out while at the beach? This is why I recommend stopping by AFTER a day at the beach and just before making the trek along P.C.H. back home and to bed.

Though certainly not a frequent indulgence (because of the amount of calories you’re inhaling, money you’re spending, and the guilt you feel when looking at all these attractive people in model-esque shape), I’ve had nothing but positive experiences overall. The service is great. The food tasty. And they serve drinks in fruit shells. Always a plus in my book. Beware that on the weekends, it can get rather crowded and while they are not very efficient at keeping to their reservation schedule, it can’t hurt to make one on Opentable to bypass the walk-ins.

So my advice to enjoy a little bit of Paradise? Start your morning with an awesome spot on the beach at Point Dume, arriving circa 10:30am to grab the best spot before all the tourists show up. Spend at least 5-6 good hours taking in the rays and getting through that book you’ve been meaning to for the last two weeks. Head to the Cove. Order a watermelon daiquiri and the tomato and caramelized onion grilled cheese sandwich. Paradise found.

Paradise Cove is located at 28128 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.

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{Watermelon Daiquiri.}
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{Cobb salad. Tomato and caramelized onion grilled cheese.}

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{Welcome to Paradise!}

Highlights: The 4th

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{Greetings after a relaxing and happy 4th of July weekend!}

It’s been a few days since I’ve last caught up with you after my mini-summer holiday vacation, so I thought I would share the highlights of my 4-day-weekend before returning to our regularly scheduled (blog) programming.

The plan for this year’s 4th of July festivities came together at nearly the last minute. I knew I wanted to be at the beach, to indulge in a celebratory cocktail, sit up close to fireworks, and aim to get as much rest as possible. So I thought it would be the perfect weekend to kick-off beach season in Malibu, our first trip this year. This time of year finds me longing to be near the water with a book, some magazines, lights snacks, and good company as much as possible. After a lazy beach day, we’d head to Paradise Cove for a late lunch before heading home to freshen up for a night of fireworks. Ah, don’t you just love when you know that you have the perfect day planned?

Until, it’s not…so perfect.

Long story short, Paradise Cove didn’t work out (despite our reservation) so we made our way down P.C.H. looking for an alternative and landed at Duke’s. I want to keep things positive here, so I’ll just put it this way and move on – AVOID THIS PLACE AT ALL COSTS. I can’t think of a more terrible restaurant experience I’ve had in my entire life. Ever. The service was absolutely horrible, to put it mildly. What should have tipped us off was that this restaurant, located in gorgeous Malibu + right off the water + on a holiday = no wait time? The only redeeming quality was that my cocktail was divine.

Despite this hiccup, the rest of the weekend was magical – full of lounging, reading, hanging out with Ryan, funnel cakes, fireworks, and sunshine. Not a bad start to summer.

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{Celebrating America’s Birthday on the gorgeous beaches of Malibu, California.}

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{That redeeming cocktail by the beach I mentioned.}

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{Mexican Food at my favorite place.}

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{Seeing The Way, Way Back on a gorgeous Sunday Morning. A great film, by the way!}

Beaches: The Sequel

Location: 30000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu

Only in Los Angeles can you still enjoy a beach day…in October…two weeks into “Fall.” In celebration of what we thought was the last hurrah of the heat wave that just wouldn’t leave (and seems to be making a comeback even as I type this), the “wind beneath my wing” and I headed back to “Beaches” to enjoy the sequel to our first time gracing the Malibu shore. This time, Zuma Beach.

Armed with my latte from Cafecito Orgánico and this month’s book club selection – the next five hours were spent sipping, snacking, reading, catching up with my guy, listening to the sound of the waves, and breathing in fresh air (well, as fresh as you can get in L.A., I saw you roll your eyes).

With the temperatures hitting the 90’s again this week, maybe we can squeeze in one last visit and make these “Beaches” posts into a franchise like Hollywood execs would undoubtedly milk the hell out of do today. I can already see it. The film version would star Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey’s kids carrying on the dramatic legacy of female bonding, eventual friendship, and death; and then their kids, and then their kids, and so on and so on. If this story line goes into development anytime soon, I claim rights to the idea – you read it here first!

In the meantime, you just might get an All That Glitters franchise out these “Beaches” posts if this heat wave can’t take a hint that the party’s over, it’s being a total attention whore, and it’s time to let Autumn take center stage.

Cafecito Orgánico, Malibu

Location: 29169 Heathercliff Road, Malibu

Two exciting ways to start a weekend?
1). Trying out a new coffee spot for the first time.
2). Trying out a new coffee spot for the first time while on the way to hang out with your favorite person at the beach all day!

Cafecito Orgánico sits in a small shopping center in Malibu just off PCH. Of course, what drew little ol’ me towards the small cafe was the fancy schmansy name and the fact that I desperately wanted a latte next to me on the beach.

I have to say, I got a bit of the Graffiti Coffee Bar vibe from here. Again, a very simple (though not nearly as dramatic) interior are about all you get visually – but the awesome coffee art they draw in your latte makes up for the lack of punch in the store design. They’re proud to boast that they, too, use only the finest of beans (which reads awesome coffee, but expensive).

I had no huge issues in particular, just a few slight annoyances that came up that put this place in the blah category. Cafecito Orgánico is yet another establishment that doesn’t offer vanilla syrup (which is a sin in my book). The menu lists random drink names that I’ve never heard of and doesn’t offer a description which prompts you to have to bug the poor Barista about what the heck a “global warming” is?

In the end, I went with a “cafecito” at their suggestion. Boy, was it strong! This is in large part because I’m sure my 5 year association with Starbucks and their infamously so-so espresso has likely ruined me in truly appreciating the delicacies of fine Central American artisan coffee, and very much because I’m a girl that has to have some flavor in her latte (hence my annoyance with no vanilla syrup in-house).

A cool thing that makes this place stand out is in their use of modern technology. Upon ordering my super duper small beverage for a mere $4.00; an iPad screen was flipped my way that gave me the total, asked if I wanted to include a tip, and if I wanted the receipt emailed, texted, or printed out for me. Pretty neat.

In the end, I can’t say I’d make it a point to have to stop here on the way to the beach in the future. Nothing against Cafecito Orgánico, but I like my syrup in addition to saying I’m drinking high quality coffee beans. I’d rather head over to Graffiti Coffee Bar where at least I’m paying an arm and a leg for a latte, but I also get my vanilla flavoring AND an always much needed opportunity to enjoy the warmth and gaze longingly at the fireplace…in 90 degree weather.

Beaches

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Where: Point Dume Beach

Location: Westward Beach Road, off Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu

Far from being the sappy experience of the 1988 film starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey (I could almost drop a tear right now just thinking about that movie), you can’t write a blog about all that glitters in Los Angeles without dedicating some much deserved web time to what makes LA, LA. The beach!

This weekend, “the wind beneath my wing”  (remember THAT song?) and I hit Point Dume to enjoy the Malibu sunshine, cool down after the hottest week of the summer so far, and R.E.L.A.X. I was beyond excited to spend some time playing in the sand, using the new beach umbrella I got recently, and taking my new straw hat I bought at the flea market last weekend out for a spin.

It was the epitome of how to spend 5 hours on a lazy Saturday and I don’t need to brag about what a beautiful day it was. The proof is in the spiffy collage I made above. I will say that the dolphin (yes, dolphin) sighting pretty close to shore and the sound of the crashing waves while laying out on a blanket staring at the water were the highlights.

The not so highlights?

Halfway through Glamour and nearly done with my iced latte, a woman plopped right in front of me with her newborn, blocking my perfect view of the ocean. Also a child’s birthday party set-up around us and we were slowly being swarmed by 5 year olds as more and more families showed up. This necessitated a change of venue by moving down a few feet from where we originally set-up camp. Problem solved, perfect view intact, and relaxation continued.

Other than a slight wardrobe malfunction, that thankfully wasn’t a disaster, but means that I’ll have to buy a new bikini (and you know how a majority of women just LOVE bathing suit shopping – NOT!) I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day!

Get out of the house and live it up at the beach (or a park if one isn’t nearby) at least a few times this summer. There’s something so special and soothing about a change of scenery that resets your clock after sitting in an office all week.

My essentials: magazines, Aveeno sunscreen, Raybans, and an iced latte! Happy beach day!