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the oc mart Mix – Costa Mesa, Calif.

2 Jul

You have got to go here…the oc mart Mix – Costa Mesa, Calif.

Are you looking for a fun place to hang out, relax, eat, drink, shop and be merry?  Well look no further than the oc mart Mix.

Located off the 405 freeway (you can’t miss it), and open seven days a week (hours vary) – the oc mart Mix has something for everyone…so park your car, walk through the welcoming double doors into a vast open space and prepared to wowed!

Are you hungry?  Why not grab a gourmet sandwich from The Cheese Shop or a simply divine s’mores bar from the Portola Coffee Lab (who also makes FABULOUS coffee and iced tea)?

Not hungry, just want to relax?  No problem – there are tons of outdoor and indoor spaces for you to read, write, socialize or just sit and enjoy the moment.  They also have free Wi-Fi!

Not interested in sitting down?  Dozens of one-of-a-kind shops for you to browse through at your finger tips.  Everything from the Savory Spice Shop, where you can get handmade spices, to the funky and adorable clothing store Deer Lovely.

Don’t have much time and just want to have a drink and unwind after work? Well, the We Olive and Wine Bar is just for you!  Gourmet olive oils, tempting wines and tapas OH MY!

So there couldn’t possible be any thing left to do right?  Incorrect!  Eclectic events are offered as well (like a farmers market every Saturday), so make sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter for the latest and greatest!

In addition to the many options and cool vibe that surrounds the oc mart Mix – I love the people.  I am a frequent visitor and all the shop owners I have encountered have been super friendly and helpful!  It makes me so happy to have a space so unique that is full of business owners who appreciate your patronage.

Happy Mixing,

Crystal

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar – Disneyland U.S.A.

21 Jun

You have got to go here…Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar – Disneyland U.S.A.

So you think you have already discovered all the best places at the Disneyland Resort?  Well, I may just have a place that you haven’t been to – Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar.  After a long day on your feet, this is a perfect place to pull up a chair and relax!

Located in the Disneyland Hotel, Trader Sam’s is like stepping into a tropical bar in a far away place.  Once you walk through the doors and are greeted by the crowd with an “ALOHA”, you will never want to leave!

Where to start…get a table right away and let the fun begin.  Don’t for get to follow the rules!

RULES!

There are tons of  tropical drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) to choose from along with tasty appetizers.  I suggest trying out one of their specialty drinks as they often come with a show too – you will see what I mean…go ahead, I dare you to order one!  Watch out for fire and rain (wink, wink)!

OK, so you have your drink ordered, now take some time to look around and enjoy the scenery (even the bathroom is themed).  The bar is full of tropical artifacts and the walls are covered in decor that is a must see!


Did I mention this place is also fun?  From the witty bartenders, to the erupting volcanoes, to the live music…this bar is truly a gem!

You would never know that you were in the center of the hustle and bustle of the Disneyland Resort.  Trader Sam’s allows the kid in you to jump out and do the happy dance – don’t be shy, join the party – you will be glad you did!

Oh and for all you Disney enthusiasts…don’t forget to look for  the hidden Mickey!

There is no cost to enter Trader Sam’s.  If you park in the Downtown Disney District, the first two hours are free and you can receive an additional three hours free with validation.

Happy Tiking,

Crystal


Pacific Marine Mammal Center

27 Apr

You have got to go here…Pacific Marine Mammal Center – Laguna Beach, Calif.

Have you ever wanted to something fun while on vacation and help out a good cause as well?  Look no further than the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC).

Located just minutes from the beautiful Pacific Ocean, PMMC has been working to rescue, rehabilitate and release animals since 1971.  Not only are they doing good work here, but they allow visitors to come and observe – I guarantee you will have a smile on your face when you leave!

Once you enter the parking lot (free parking), just follow the seal to a fun educational experience!

As soon as you round the corner you will hear the sounds of the many animals that PMMC is helping.  Once you enter the grounds be prepared for lots of cuteness…

I couldn’t help but be drawn to the pools that housed the gorgeous native animals.  On the day that I visited there were a mixture of Elephant Seal Pups and California Sea Lions.  Watching them swim and play was addicting.

Not only can you sit and observe them playing for as long as you like, you may also get an opportunity to see the selfless volunteers help nurse these animals back to health.  While I was watching the animals, a friendly volunteer gave me a history of the facility and was more than happy to answer any questions I had.  In addition to being a fun place to visit, PMMC is just as much an educational center and offers programs for both adults and children.  They also have many volunteer opportunities for people who may have a passion for these animals that goes above just learning about them.

PMCC is place that will warm your heart and your day.  If you are visiting the Laguna Beach area, this is a must visit.  It is the perfect place to either come by yourself or your family.  Spend as little or as long as you want on the grounds taking in the glorious creatures.

While there is no fee to visit, please consider a small donation to help continue the life-saving efforts of PMCC.

My pictures do not do the animals justice, so I encourage you to take some time to see them with your own eyes. OH and by the way, feel free to visit as often as you want as you never know what new arrivals will be on hand!

Happy Sealing,

Crystal

Montage – Laguna Beach, Calif.

20 Apr

You have got to go here…Montage – Laguna Beach, Calif.

If it was up to me I would be relaxing at a five-star resort every day, unfortunately that is not possible…but I have discovered an inexpensive way to relax and take in all of the beauty that a gorgeous resort has to offer.

One night after dinner some friends suggessted visting the Montage Resort  for a drink and I am sure glad I agreed to go. 

I have always loved visiting this resort as the architectures is beautiful and the ambiance is welcome and cozy, but on this night I stumbled upon something very cool in the Lobby Lounge – TEA TIME!  While glancing over the menu I noticed that in addition to the normal libations that a hotel bar has to offer, the Montage also offers over 10 brewed loose-leaf teas – and that is not all, they even come in your own personal tea pot. (Please remember that I am a big kid and it is truly the small things that make me happy.)  I wasted no time in ordering my yummy drink!

Tea selection...

TEA TIME!

Not only does your tea come with a small jar of honey just for you, it is also accompanied by some of the best biscotti and nuts I have ever eaten.  I was in  culinary heavan!

While I sipped my Malabar Sunrise, sounds of a pianist filled my ears and I couldn’t help but take in the beautiful scenary.

There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy your time.  Choose from cozy couches that look out at the ocean or venture on to the deck and take in the sea air.

After several rounds of tea and many laughs with friends, it was time to leave.  My night at the Montage was a great lesson in not judging a book by its cover.  I thought that I was headed to a typical hotel bar for the evening, but was surprised by what I found.  You just never know what treasures are out there until you look!

Some tips – there is public parking just south of the hotel and after 7 p.m. it is free.  There is also beach access if you are interested in a stroll that is gorgeous both day and night!

OH WAIT!!! I forgot to tell you the best part…this night of fun and relaxation only cost roughly $20 for two people!  Sometimes the best things in life don’t have to cost an arm and a leg!

Happy Teaing,

Crystal

Orange Balloon, Great Park – Irvine, Calif

14 Feb

You have got to go here…Orange Balloon, Great Park – Irvine, Calif.

Who wants to ride on a balloon that soars up to 400 feet?  OH and did I mention it’s FREE???

Up up and away!

Located in the Great Park, the Orange Balloon is open Thursday through Sunday (hours vary) on a first-come, first-serve basis.

I had heard about how fun the balloon was for years and finally decided to go check it out!  The sky was blue and the clouds were puffy on the day we went for a ride, so I knew we would be able to see for miles.  I had butterflies in my stomach, but was looking forward to the amazing view that we were about to witness.

Upon arrival head to the information center where you will sign up and be assigned a time to take your ride.  You may have to wait, but don’t fret there are things to keep you busy until your flight.  A playground, carousel and an art museum just to name a few are at your fingertips…and the best part – ALL FREE!

When it is your time, head towards the balloon and get ready for a great trip!

Ready to get on!

Once in the basket at the base of the balloon you will slowly rise up – at approx. 400 feet the balloon will stop ascending and give you a chance to take in all the sights for about five minutes.  Feel free to walk around the whole balloon to see Orange County from all the angles!

The ride is totally thrilling, but it is high so if you are afraid of heights this may not be the place for you.

As we headed back to the ground I was eager to fly again – next time I will for sure try the night flight!

My recommendation is to take a picnic lunch and when you are done with your flight, relax on the lawn and watch others take their journey…

The balloon from the ground.

Happy Flying,

Crystal

The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove – Newport Beach, Calif.

12 Oct



You have got to go here…The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove – Newport Beach, Calif.

So much to tell…oh where do I start?  OK…how do you get there???  The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove is located within the Historic District at Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Beach, Calif.  It is an adventure just to get there!

You must park in the Los Trancos lot off Pacific Coast Highway (your parking will be validated by The Beachcomber if you spend more than $15.00.)  From there you can either ride the shuttle down ($1.00 each way) or take a short walk, downhill, through the historic tunnel that is filled with amazing art work by local children- totally my suggestion!



After you pass through the tunnel you will enter a historic district filled with cottages from the 1930’s and 40’s.  They were originally built as a seaside community, but now can be rented  through the state park system.  The rumor is that it is extremely difficult to get a reservation, but once you see them you will know why.  They are so quaint and cute…it really feels like you are going back in time.  You can poke around the outside and even use the restrooms in some of them…investigate – you will be glad you did!

Aren’t you hungry from all of the sight-seeing?  Well have no fear…the path you are on will lead you right to the beach and food…The Beachcomber straight ahead!

OK, so there are several cool things about this restaurant… one being the history – it is inside one of the cottages and the decor is so awesome and kitschy!

No matter where you choose to sit…the ambiance is awesome!  You can also sit at the bar, but they have a limited menu.  If you are more interested in cocktails, that is the place to go…the beignets are amazing!

Before we talk about the food…I highly suggest you make a reservation as on beautiful days the wait can be long – or you could put your name in, go for a swim and come back for some grub when your pager goes off.

So I know what you may be thinking…beach food – gross!  Well this place will change your mind.  Their menu is extensive, gourmet and changes so that they may use fresh, local and seasonal ingredients.  Look below at what we had: watermelon/arugula salad, chicken, tomato soup and pork chops!

I suggest sharing so that you can try a few things!

While the gourmet food is certainly a reason to go to The Beachcomber, don’t forget the other things that make it a hidden gem: a walk through an artsy tunnel and strolling through the historic district…but that is not all!

Every day at 5 p.m. the cocktail flag is raised and saluted to – just like back in the old days!

Also, you never know who may join you for your meal…we had a hawk who had just scooped up a fish partake in eating with us!

The final thing that makes The Beachcomber a must visit is the scenary…how could you not love eating by the beach???

My work is done here…go enjoy a nice meal!

Happy Eating,

Crystal

Tanaka Farms – Irvine, Calif.

6 Oct


You have got to go here…Tanaka Farms – Irvine, Calif.

Isn’t this picture enough to make you want to visit Tanaka Farms?  Look at all those awesome pumpkins that you can pick yourself!!!

Tanaka Farms is located in Irvine, Calif., not far off the 405 freeway.  If you live in the Southern California area or are visiting, it is worth a trip.  Since we don’t really have seasons here in California, going to the Tanka Farms to pick pumpkins makes me feel like it is fall outside – even if it is 80 degrees.  Did you catch what I said?  PICK PUMPKINS!  That is right, you can pick them right off the vine.  While some have been picked for those who may not be as adventurous, there are plenty available for you to get your hands dirty…my favorite part!  There are orange ones, white ones, green ones…OH MY!

After many trips up and down the rows (and longer than I wish to admit), I finally found my perfect pumpkins.  Take your time, have fun! I promise there is nothing like picking your own pumpkins.  I was so giddy and excited…it made me feel like a kid again!






So you think the fun is over right?  NO WAY…Have you ever seen a pumpkin cannon?  Well now is your chance.  I know it sounds silly, but it was totally rad (yah I said it!).  Seeing a pumpkin shoot into the sky and smash into pieces on the hillside was so much fun.  I mean come one, you don’t see that everyday!  The only thing that would have made it better was if I got to push the button, but sadly that didn’t happen…hahaha!


My suggestion: stay for at least two pumpkins…you won’t be sorry

Now you think all the fun is over right?  NOT EVEN CLOSE!  Have you ever picked your own veggies?  Well, Tanaka Farms lets you do that too!  They have radishes, green onions, green beans and carrots (all organic).  I actually got to pick my side dishes – truly farm to table.  The U-PICK veggies are $2.99 a pound and well worth it.  You can’t get any fresher than that.

Are you ready for more?  There is also a corn maze, BBQ, produce stand (with farm fresh fruits, veggies, and more) and a petting zoo.  Interested in getting a box of fresh fruits and veggies once a week?  Sign-up for the “Community Supported Agriculture” program and your wish is Tanaka Farms command.

As you can probably see pumpkin season is my favorite, but Tanka Farms offers year round U-Pick opportunities: strawberries in the spring,watermelons in the summer and Christmas Trees in the winter.

OK, well I am going to leave you with one more pictures to temp you into visiting Tanka Farms this season…look at my loot!


Happy Pumpkin Picking,

Crystal