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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).

journey of doing - half moon bay ritz carlton romantic getawayP I N I T

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.

journey of doing - Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton romantic getawayP I N I T

journey of doing - half moon bay ritz carlton romantic getawayP I N I T

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.

journey of doing - half moon bay ritz carlton romantic getawayP I N I T

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.

journey of doing - half moon bay ritz carlton romantic getawayP I N I T

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.

journey of doing - half moon bay ritz carlton romantic getawayP I N I T

Pebble Beach / 17 – Mile Drive – If you’re going to make the trip down to Monterey, you might as well keep heading south and take one of the most scenic drives in the country.

journey of doing - half moon bay ritz carlton romantic getawayP I N I T

Marin Headlands / Golden Gate Bridge – I’m an engineer.  I wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge.  Approximately 45-minutes away, this is a great place to do some hiking and see the bridge.

Stanford / Berkeley – Hello, I’m a college counselor.  Of course I visit colleges on vacation.  We coupled Berkeley with our trip to the Marin Headlands.  Stanford is about 30 minutes away.

journey of doing - half moon bay ritz carlton romantic getawayP I N I T

journey of doing - half moon bay ritz carlton romantic getawayP I N I T

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?

journey of doing - half moon bay ritz carlton romantic getawayP I N I T


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  • erin vancura - Holy amazingness.. Reading that makes me want to hop in a car, head to half moon bay and never leave!ReplyCancel

  • Honeymoon Wish List » my journey of doing - […] anything I wanted that was a “reasonable” distance, and so… instead of Europe, we’re going back to Half Moon Bay for a mini-moon… with the expectation that we’ll go to Europe next year.  It […]ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - Ughhh this place looks heavenly. I need to go there.. like this weekend.ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - That hotel sounds absolutely amazing. I would definitely consider it in the future. I love how they serviced your room when you were away rather than interrupting you. It sounds like (and looks like) this is a hotel with lots of personalized friendly touches. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Christine Keane - What a super nice place for a romantic getaway! I haven’t been to Northern California in forever… but this is making me want to go back!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders - I love Northern California so incredibly much, and this looks like the perfect getaway, and very romantic as well. I love how remote the resort looks, and with it being a Ritz Carlton you know that you’re going to be enjoying a ton of luxury as well!ReplyCancel

  • Van - I agree, the fogg seems to make this place look even more scenic! Can’t believe you ran on a crazy schedule like that! You totally deserved a relaxing vacation!ReplyCancel

  • Olya @ The Siberian American - I’ve been looking for a short, romantic getaway to do in a few months! This looks so lovely. I love that area of California.ReplyCancel

  • Kat - I live on the peninsula and love going to Half Moon Bay. It’s like an escape from the city for me. There are such beautiful views and walks that you can do! I’m going to have to check out Pebble Beach now, I don’t think I’d heard of it before. #wanderfulwednesdayReplyCancel

  • Amanda Elizabeth - Definitely adding this to my list! You have the same taste and expectations in hotels as I do 😉ReplyCancel

  • Ruth - A little bit shameful but I have never been to Half Moon Bay (I have made it to Santa Cruz, to San Francisco too but not through CA-1). I hear only positives things about the area. I need to check it out soon. #wanderfulwednesdayReplyCancel

  • Lolo - What a nice looking hotel. We took a little getaway two weekends before the wedding to calm down and relax. It definitely helped to unwind before the wedding and before all of our family and friends arrived in Germany for 2 weeks. Our honeymoon wont be until this May, so I’m excited for that! #WanderfulWednesdayReplyCancel

  • Anna - Wow, thanks for giving us a look into the Ritz Carlton. I’ve never stayed at (or even been to) a Ritz property, so it’s cool to read about it and see what one is like! It sounded like the perfect relaxing getaway, and what a nice backdrop too!ReplyCancel

  • Marcella ~ WhatAWonderfulWorld - This really does look so romantic and peaceful – the perfect escape, I’d say!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - Good for you for realizing you weren’t burnt out and needed a break! Everyone deserves a little rest and relaxation every once in a while! This place looks like just the romantic, luxurious trip you needed. Absolutely amazing. I don’t think I’d be able to leave!ReplyCancel

  • Friday 5: the last single girl edition! » journey of doing - […] Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton romantic getaway! […]ReplyCancel

  • Spring Goals // Winter Goals Recap » journey of doing - […] surprised if you see a few blasts from the past updated.  Spoiler alert – last week’s Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton post was one of those […]ReplyCancel

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.

journey of doing - self care and being healthyP I N I T

Self Care and Being Healthy – Action Items

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.

journey of doing - self care and being healthyP I N I T

Meal Planning

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.

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  • Mandy - Good for you for taking the steps toward managing self-care for you. It sounds like you are doing great what with planning ahead for food needs and finding an exercise class you enjoy doing. Hopefully, you will find time for the other goals in your life – like your winter goals and getting a manicure. I always feel like there is never enough time in a day, let alone a week/month/year/lifetime for accomplishing all that I want to. Waking up to exercise that energizes you for the day and eating healthy will definitely make it easier to get done all that you want to accomplish/ 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - It’s funny that you mention this because I just wrote a post about it (not live til mid April, but I’ll add a link to this post in it!) Self care is so so important and no one does it enough. Myself included. Working out needs to be much higher on my priority list.ReplyCancel

  • Olya @ The Siberian American - I love this! Self care is so important. It’s been forever since I’ve had a manicure, too! I’m pretty weary about them though because both my mother and my mother-in-law have had to have major surgery due to an infection they got during a manicure (what are the odds of that? Haha).ReplyCancel

  • cara - Self-care is so truly important, though it is often the thing that is most forgotten about. I definitely encourage you to do something fun like get your nails or hair done. It’s good to give yourself little rewards every now and then! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Biana - I think it’s awesome that you’re putting yourself first for a change and doing something that makes you happy & will have healthy benefits!! xo, Biana –BlovedBostonReplyCancel

  • Kasie Chelanen - This is such a fabulous post. Self-care is hugely important and I find myself always needing a reminder that it’s okay to practice it. Thank you for the reminder! Your barre class sounds absolutely fabulous.ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - Good for you!!! I’m hoping to finally kick the sickness to the curb this month too and get back in the gym or get outside with Brady more. The endorphins are the BEST. Plus, swimsuit season is just around the corner, oh Lord, lol.ReplyCancel

For more Budapest postcard photos (along with tips & tricks):

Best Tours in Budapest, Budapest Night Photos

journey of doing - Budapest Postcard PhotosP I N I T

journey of doing - budapest postcard photosP I N I T

journey of doing - Budapest Postcard PhotosP I N I T

journey of doing - Budapest Postcard PhotosP I N I T

journey of doing - Budapest Postcard PhotosP I N I T

journey of doing - Budapest Postcard PhotosP I N I T

journey of doing - Budapest Postcard PhotosP I N I T

journey of doing - Budapest Postcard PhotosP I N I T

journey of doing - Budapest Postcard PhotosP I N I T

journey of doing - Budapest Postcard PhotosP I N I T

journey of doing - Budapest Postcard PhotosP I N I T

journey of doing - Budapest Postcard PhotosP I N I T

journey of doing - Budapest Postcard PhotosP I N I T

journey of doing - Budapest Postcard PhotosP I N I T

journey of doing - Budapest Postcard PhotosP I N I T

journey of doing - Budapest Postcard PhotosP I N I T

journey of doing - Budapest Postcard PhotosP I N I T

journey of doing - Budapest Postcard PhotosP I N I T

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Another week down… It’s unnerving how quickly we’re spiraling into March.  I’ve been working on figuring out what my intention is for March, and I definitely know what it needs to be… I just need to find a way to make it measurable/possible for me.

Yesterday was the Commit Scorecard event.  Typically, this is one of my favorite events of the year.  It brings Dallas together to talk about what’s been going on in Dallas education, highlights the work of the partnership, and generally inspires me to keep fighting.  There’s usually a strong sense of urgency.  This year was different.  Instead of feeling uplifted and ready to go, I left feeling worried about the lack of urgency.  Maybe it’s just me projecting my feelings on to the event… but I missed the inspiration of year’s past.  Todd and John B. King gave impressionable speeches, and I did appreciate what they had to say.  But, make no mistake, our neighbor’s house is on fire.  Don’t let the small gains shown lure you into complacency.  There’s still an educational divide in Dallas… and there’s still a lot of work to do.

“We do need to do more faster.”  – John B. King, former Secretary of Education under President Barack Obama

If you want to know about some of that work, let’s start with the fact that since President’s Day at least two of my schools haven’t had internet.  TWO WEEKS.  IN 2017.  And, there seems to be no sense of urgency to fix that… The bigger problem?  A huge local scholarship program has a deadline this week.  I had asked the district to reach out to them to extend it.  They did, once… but when we still didn’t have internet… I asked a second time. They refused.  Suggested that a kid could reach out.  Because ONE kid is going to change someone’s mind when you could be the one calling on behalf of 8,000 students?  I just threw up my hands yesterday afternoon and cried in my office.  Sometimes I can’t believe these humans and I are of the same species.  After crying, I got. mad. af.  And then I got to work.  Because that’s what I do.

Moving on to the frivolous
  • I’m in desperate need of a new purse.  I don’t think I’ve bought a new one since 2013.  I’m not a big purse kind of girl… but I like to have a place for my business cards, receipts, an inside pocket to put things in, and a bag that I can completely close.  I like classic styles (like this) and colors that pop throughout the year.  Who has a bag and wallet they love?
  • I went to YBarre twice this week… and after the first day, I turned into Hurricane Sara.  Nothing was safe.  I was a woman on a mission.  The second day wasn’t quite as productive, but I think I stayed up too late the night before.  Either way, I need to find a way to make this a priority.  It’s good for my soul.

Photo by LP I N I T

photo credit: l’amour de paris

  • I’m so eager to start planning our Italian adventure, but I’ve just been slammed with work for the last two weeks.  I’m also trying to figure out where I want to do our pictures for this year… I just love our mini sessions… but I guess that requires me to know where we going.  First world problems for sure.  Anyone follow any amazing Italian lifestyle photographers that I need to know about?

journey of doing - Facibeni FotographiaP I N I T

photo credit: facibeni fotographia


linking up with amanda, karli, and christina

journey of doing - Friday Favorites: Bloggers that Keep It RealP I N I T




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“Just be happy.”  My brain screams this at me on regular basis.  Last week, I felt like it was on repeat as I struggled to manage my stress.  I feel like I harped on this idea a lot this month… but as I said at the beginning of the year, my focus is to practice deliberate intention for 2017.  This month, I talked about how I wanted to find joy.  Focus on the little moments that make everything worth it.  To find some solace and optimism among the chaos.

To just be happy.

My work is very stressful.  At least once a day something hits my radar that could become a huge thing if I don’t deal with it.  Usually it’s more than once.  Often I feel like I’m herding kittens and I’m tired when I get home.  Side note: Cara wrote a great post on 6 Ways to De-Stress from your Work Day earlier this week.  But, at the end of the day – there are a lot of things to just be happy about.  Don’t believe me?  Try this exercise in gratitude each day.

journey of doing - just be happyP I N I T

  • Do you have friends that love you so much that they send you notes, agree to travel across the country to celebrate life events with you, or reach out to remind you that they appreciate you?  Just be happy that you do.
  • Are your parents/grandparents still here?  Still supporting you (emotionally, financially, spiritually) despite the differences you’ve had in the past?  Providing childcare?  Doing things to make your life a little bit easier?  Just be happy that they are still here.
  • Do you have coworkers that make you laugh?  Inspire you?  Get frustrated with you and then remind you to get back to work?  Maybe you’ve found a mentor at work?  Or outside of work?  Maybe you’ve found your own #girlboss #goals?  Just be happy that don’t have to figure everything out alone.


  • Are you in a mutually beneficial and supportive relationship?  Maybe you’ve found your soulmate.  Maybe you’ve found someone you like wasting time with.  Maybe you’ve found someone to encourage you to follow your dreams.  Just be happy that you have someone to share life with.
  • Do you have a roof over your head, food in your belly, clean water to drink, and aren’t worried what’s going to happen tomorrow with either of those things?  Be happy for that blessing.
  • Can you travel freely within the borders of the United States without being stopped for fear of persecution?  Can you travel freely beyond the borders of the U.S. without thinking twice about your paperwork?  Did you just receive these benefits by the privilege of being born within the confines of this nation?   Recognize this as a privilege that you didn’t earn, but rather one that you were freely given.
  • Do you wake up each day without feeling a sense of fear or insecurity at whether or not you will persecuted for your beliefs, ideals, your skin color, your religion, or some other key part of your being?  Just be happy and acknowledge the great privilege that exists in that existence.

Maybe you see this as a gross oversimplification of your existence, but there are so many things for us to be happy and grateful for.  There are so many things that we fail to appreciate – and I suppose – now that I look at how things are going – that we absolutely take for granted.  Life isn’t perfect, but for many of us, we need to just be happy.  To give the good things some brain space.


Then get up and go fight for the ones who don’t have the great luxury and privilege that we have.

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  • Biana - So many questions that you can ask yourself that puts thing in perspective when you think about how you can “just be happy” – no one said life is easy, but in many ways we have to remember how lucky we are.ReplyCancel

  • cara - Love this! I completely agree there’s always things to be thankful for and happy about. Thanks for including my de-stressing post! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Christine - Love this! Sometimes you have to be intentionally happy.ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - Love! I’ve been working so hard at finding the joy and blessings in the everyday type of things, too. I have been given so much more than I deserve and sometimes I just need to stop being a brat! Easier said than done 😉ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - Lovely post! You are right that there are so many things in life to be grateful for and happy about! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Kasie Chelanne - It really is so important to stop and focus on the good in our lives. Often times life gets so busy those beautiful things get overlooked more than they should.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - I love this post <3ReplyCancel

  • chelsea jacobs - This is so true! There is always something to be thankful for!ReplyCancel