I believe in miracles.
I try to change the world every day.
I love my husband, my friends, and my family.
I plan my next great adventure constantly.
I think most occasions call for a dress.
I write what I know and believe.
It’s the Monday of spring break, which means that I should be able to get a lot of work done this week (hopefully). Don’t forget that Steph and I are going to link up Friday with our Spring Goals, so grab a button below and link up with us! You know you need some accountability for your spring cleaning list. 😉
Friday night we celebrated the marriage of one of my amazing staff members. I couldn’t be happier for these two. Demetrius couldn’t stop smiling; it was actually the best. And, all of their friends and family were SO nice. We felt so welcome. It was such an honor to be included in their big day. It definitely has me pumped up for Amanda’s wedding next month, and any others that may be on the horizon.
Saturday morning, I made it to the Y for Ultimate Dance (and burned 341 calories), did some blog and house stuff, and binge-(re)watched Gossip Girl. Can we talk about how scandalous this show actually is? HOW ARE THESE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS? HOW IS THAT THEIR TARGET AUDIENCE? I still love the clothes though. (And Blake Lively’s hair.)
Chances are, I’ve told you about Halo Top, but if I haven’t, you need to know about this goodness. It’s ice cream with 240 calories. IN THE ENTIRE CONTAINER. I’ve been on a taste-testing spree since the new flavors came out, so I can recommend Vanilla Bean, Chocolate, Mint Chip, Birthday Cake, and Chocolate Almond Crunch. If you’re trying to stay on a diet, but still have a sweet tooth, this is amazing!
One of the things I did this weekend was work on our trip. Last week, I booked our hotel in Cinque Terre because Ebates was offering 9% cash back! If you aren’t using Ebates yet, sign up through my link and we’ll both win! I booked a wine tasting tour of the Cinque Terre region. I’m thinking that we’re going to spend a few days in Florence and make a couple day trips throughout Tuscany. From there, I’m not sure where we will go. I’m going to work on one destination at a time, and I’m hoping to work out most of the details this week. Yay Spring break!
Disclaimer: I have very (oddly) sensitive skin and very little patience for taking care of it. After developing parathyroid tumors, I started having reactions allergic to several cleansers. My La Mer skin care routine is the only thing I’ve found that doesn’t burn my skin or induce an allergic reaction. I love the way it smells and a little goes a long way for me – which is good because it’s expensive! Lastly, this post contains shopstyle/amazon links that may earn me a few pennies towards a future purchase if you click on them.
Cleansing Foam – This is the first step in my La Mer skin care routine. As I mentioned above, my skin is pretty sensitive, but I do try and use this in the morning and the evening, particularly if it’s a make-up wearing kind of day.
Oil Absorbing Tonic – This is step two in my daily La Mer skin care routine. I use exfoliating cotton pads to apply it and let it sit on my skin for a few minutes before moisturizing. This is typically when I brush my teeth (again… all about the efficiency), otherwise I’ll get impatient to finish up.
Moisturizing Gel Cream – The last step in my La Mer skincare routine has been a game changer for me. Though my skin is typically classified as combination, most moisturizers are too heavy for my skin and end up clogging my tiny pores, resulting in breakouts. The gel cream is extremely light, very soft, and I don’t feel like I’m wearing anything on my face. Best feeling ever. No one likes going to bed with greasy skin… or waking up with it, for that matter.
La Mer Foundation – If it’s a make-up kind of day (and I’ll be honest – I don’t wear make up every day), I use the porcelain foundation. It’s almost an exact match for my oddly pale-but-somehow-tan skin, my skin absorbs it beautifully, and most importantly – I don’t feel like I’m wearing foundation. Because I’m lazy, I don’t use a powder or setting spray, but it stays all day.
La Mer Skin Care Routine – Optional Recommendations
Clarisonic Mia – My facialist at the Crescent Hotel Spa turned me on to this nifty little gadget. Although I don’t use it as often as I should, I LOVE how silky smooth my skin feels after using it. It’s shower friendly and it works well with both the foaming cleanser and refining facial. Bonus: I’ve been carded after using it!
Refining Facial – I only use this once a week or so. If my skin is feeling particularly dry or flaky, I’ll use it to help balance it out, but it’s not an every day use for me. Typically, I’ll put it on when I first get in the shower and rinse it off after I’ve washed my hair. From there, I’ll start my skin care routine above.
Bonus Product Recommendations
Mary Kay Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover – I feel like I’ve tried a lot of products (mostly sample sizes of things that get thrown in my box when I order things), and I like Mary Kay’s best. The determining factor is that it doesn’t leave my eyes feeling oily, and, if I wear mascara, it gets it all off – even when I have my make up professionally done!
Mary Kay Soothing Eye Gel – I don’t use this often at all, but I keep a jar of this in the fridge. It’s absolutely perfect for relieving puffy eyes from staying up too late, crying too much, or terrible headaches. I’ve been using it since college, and I’m always happy to have it when I need it!
Before we got married, my husband and I weren’t exactly the vacationing types. Between (all of) our jobs, there was a lot of work to be done. In 2012 though, I was on the brink of burning out in a really bad way. Working seven days week with only a couple weekends off had finally caught up to me. I convinced Tom that we needed a Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton romantic getaway to unwind, relax, and focus on each other for a few days. (Newsflash: it worked!) When we decided to postpone our honeymoon due to work, I immediately booked our mini-moon at the Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton. I was determined that we were going to unplug for a couple days after getting married (and I’m so glad we did).
Upon our recommendation, my parents ended up spending my mom’s birthday (and one of their last vacations together) here, and even my dad, who wasn’t exactly a California fan at all, LOVED it. They would send us pictures sitting on their balcony, enjoying the firepits, playing golf, and drinking wine – proving that it was also the perfect romantic getaway for them.
Finally, one of my sweet friends booked her babymoon at the property. They loved it just as much as we do. When she couldn’t get comfortable for a pre-natal massage, they surprised her with a basket of spa goodies that they could enjoy in the comfort of their own room.
In short, this hotel has lived up to so lofty expectations that I can’t help but recommend it as the perfect romantic getaway, and whenever I get stressed out, I imagine being back there.
Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton Romantic Getaway – Booking Details
The quickest way to get to Half Moon Bay is to fly into SFO and rent a car, though I have also flown into SJC because it was cheaper. Choose whichever works for you; it’s not that big of a difference. For both of our trips, I booked the Treat You package, which included club access and a one-bedroom suite. There are some Ritz Carlton properties where I don’t think club access is worth it, but the Half Moon Bay property is absolutely worth it.
A few days before checking in, I was contacted by the concierge asking if I had any questions or requests. I let them know that it was our first trip in over a few years and that we were simply hoping to relax.
When we arrived around 1:00, the hotel was buzzing with people arriving and departing. I didn’t expect our room to be ready so early, and the front desk agent confirmed that it wasn’t, but if I would wait 5 minutes in the lounge, our room would be ready. I told him that we would just run to the store, but he insisted on accompanying me to the car with the bell staff, and true to his word, they escorted us right up to Room 660.
The suite was very large, looked over the beautiful courtyard, and out to the ocean. In true Ritz Carlton service, there was champagne on ice, chocolate covered strawberries, and a personalized note wishing us a fantastic stay. When we returned from dinner that evening, the bed was covered with flower petals, the lights were dimmed, music was playing softly, and it smelled heavenly. Our Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton romantic getaway was off to a fantastic start!
Room Note: We loved being able to open our windows and listen to the waves crash against the shore. The bagpipes were a nice touch each evening, too. There were weddings in the courtyard both times we visited – absolutely stunning backdrop! We were never bothered by any sounds, and I had no problem sleeping.
Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton Romantic Getaway – Service Details
The Ritz Carlton brand truly prides itself on non-intrusive service, and the Half Moon Bay property does this extremely well. (The Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain is another gem in this area.) Here are a few of the things that made our romantic getaway completely stress-free.
Housekeeping never bothered us, particularly when DND was on the door. Have you ever stayed at those hotels where they keep calling you to ask if you want your room serviced or keep stopping by to do turndown service? I appreciate the gesture, but it tends to stress me out. Housekeeping seemed to know when we were out, even if we were just running down to the lounge for breakfast, and they would service the room quickly during those breaks. Turndown service was non-invasive as well.
As I mentioned before, the club lounge access was a nice perk, and I wouldn’t stay here without it! We had breakfast in the lounge every morning, grabbed snacks in the afternoon, and usually had dessert back at the hotel in the evening. (They have the best chocolate chip cookies. I might miss those the most.) It was nice to be able to grab bottled water before heading out each day. One evening, I received a free chair massage in the lounge. I fell in love with the scent of the spa products, and ended up purchasing bath bombs for my evening soaks (though the Bvulgari amenities are perfectly fine, too)!
The valet staff were always quick to help with ideas on where to go, directions if we needed them, and offer bottle water when we headed out. They were quick at their jobs and a fantastic resource when we weren’t sure what we wanted to do.
We didn’t swim or play golf on our trips, but we did check out all the facilities. The indoor pool was full of kids over Labor Day weekend, and the water was warm enough for me. The golf course is lovely, and there’s a public course nearby. My dad played both and enjoyed both. My husband and I are walkers, so we spent a lot of time walking the resort grounds. It’s truly a beautiful place and the slow pace agrees with me.
Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton Romantic Getaway – What to Do / Where to Go / What to Know
As mentioned earlier, I had emailed with Lauren in Guest Relations prior to our stay. She recommended a number of activities for us, and we took her up on several of them. Each one was perfect for what we wanted from our trip.
Monterey Bay Aquarium – We made a day trip here because of fond memories from my childhood. It’s about a 2 hour drive in traffic, but it leads you through some of the most beautiful coastline.
The weather is generally cool and the coast gets foggy. It adds to the ambiance, and it is part of the reason I choose this location. It’s particularly nice after a sweltering Texas summer. There is a Safeway 10 minutes from the hotel, but with the lounge access, we didn’t need anything we bought.
Many Half Moon Bay restaurants are closed on Sunday evening, so do your research ahead of time. It can definitely work out, but you don’t want to get hangry driving around downtown. We’ve also been known to have Chinese delivered to the hotel when we don’t want to get out. Sadly, my favorite restaurant Tortellini Originali is closed. This was the least pretentious dining establishment ever, but the rose pasta sauce was out of this world. Please come back, Tortellini Originali!
When we visited on our honeymoon, I bought a vase from Light and Art. It’s absolutely gorgeous and the owner is so kind. Again, it’s one of those things that you have to research and plan for, but wandering the shops in the downtown area is fun.
Overall, a Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton romantic getaway is about reconnecting and recharging with your partner. The slow pace of life and the beauty of the coast is perfect for taking a breather. It’s not a glamorous Southern California resort; it’s almost like being in Scotland or Ireland with the long flight or the passport. It’s pumpkin festivals, art walks, and spending time outdoors (but there’s also that fantastic spa). It’s comfortable, casual, and cool.
Oh, and the hotel has been renovated recently, so I think a return trip is in order, yeah?
At the end of February, I found myself confronted with the basic “if you’re taking care of everyone else, who is taking care of you?” question. I struggled to answer it – not because I don’t have a wonderfully supportive husband – but because, as much as I preach self-care and being healthy, I’m really bad at practicing it. I don’t know if it’s because I was gone so much in February (2 trips to Michigan, 1 to Indiana), because I got sick every time I came home, or because I had to confront a few uncomfortable realities at the end of the month, but February really took a toll on me mentally and physically. Thus, my intention for March was born.
Y-Barre, Ultimate Dance, and 50 Uninterrupted Minutes
My husband had been talking about joining a gym for the last part of 2016, so one of his Christmas presents was a family membership to our neighborhood YMCA. I chose the Y because it’s within walking distance of our house, so I knew I would go. I’m one of those people who won’t drive to a gym that’s out of the way. It has to be convenient for my life.
I started off January working out with my husband. I’d run to warm up and we would lift weights together. This worked well enough – until I got sick. In February, if I was in town, I would just do weights with my husband. No cardio. On the very last day of February, I decided to pop into a Y-Barre class and see what happened.
Guys. I was insane. Not because the workout was (too) hard, but the endorphin high afterward made me a force to be reckoned with. No one and nothing was safe. I felt focused and ready to attack the day.
I went back a few times last week, and I’ve decided that it’s going to be a priority for me. Lifting weights with my husband is great (and I still want to do that), but I’m going to take a few classes. Get my blood pumping. Stretch my body out. Take that time for me where I’m not chained to my phone, answering emails, text messages, or phone calls. Fifty minutes completely uninterrupted is a luxury I didn’t know I needed. I think this addresses both self care and being healthy… which is a complete win.
I am happy with where my weight is most of the time, but with so much travel in February, my food choices left a lot to be desired. I think that virus that kept me from eating anything for an entire week probably helped too. One of the best ways I stay on track is to have food ready to go. If I don’t have it ready to go, I have a tendency to stop at Chic Fil A on the way home. Or crave going out. Or eat all the oreos. (Ever since I found Aldi, I realized that I can do this without feeling bad because they are so cheap!)
One of the things I did this weekend was print out the Banting green list and go grocery shopping. I am in town almost all of March, so making healthy food choices should be pretty easy. If I have food, I’ll make good choices. The end.
Self Care and Things I Want To Do
These types of things are harder for me to quantify and schedule, but I’m going to try to come up with some ideas for self care this month.
I haven’t had my nails done in more than a few years. In fact, the last manicure I had may have been when we got married. I’d like to do this before our trip. This also goes for getting my eyebrows waxed and having a facial. Few things are better than an oxygen facial at the Crescent Spa or Bliss. (I probably just need a full spa day, yes?)
Clean out my closet, decide what I need for our Italian adventure, and take some time to look for what I want. Too often I feel like this is a frantic trip right before we leave. It doesn’t need to be. I mean – I posted a spring dresses for Italy post last month. I know what I’m looking for!!
Continue working on my winter goals. Steph and I will be linking up on Friday, March 17 with our spring goals, so don’t forget to join us! I know you have great spring cleaning aspirations… or maybe that’s just me. Grab a button and link it up with us!
So there you have it… I’ve put it in writing so it has to happen. My deliberate intention for March is self care and being healthy. I’ll check in at the end of the month and let you know how it went.