Wine Tasting in Santa Ynez Valley.

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Details:

Urban Outfitters tank (past season, similar here), Loft skirt (on sale!), Fabrik bralette, Anthropologie earrings (past season, similar here), Stella & Dot wrap bracelet, Keani Manta cuff, Target flats, Free People clutch (past season, similar here), Raw Bronzing Studio organic spray tan


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Wine tasting in California is a thing. A beautiful, hot, wonderful thing, and I am so glad that I got to do *all the things* while Stevie and I were in Santa Barbara last month.

This stretch of CA is a bit drier than the Napa/Sonoma area, so the wines produced in this region are a bit more unique and rare. We had so much fun driving north from Santa Barbara (only about 45 minutes) to explore the Santa Ynez Valley, which has become must-visit wine country over the past 20 years. The town of Santa Ynez is like a chic old Western village, dotted with some of the most incredibly vibrant foliage I've ever seen. It really amazed us, since California has been in a severe drought and fighting wild fires all summer long. I am so struck by how plants thrive in such incredibly dry climate! Okay, major plant lady digression. Back to the wine.

We lingered the most here, at the Sunstone Vineyards & Winery, because we loved it so much. The wine was really delicious (our favorites - the Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Rose & Soleil Rouge!) While we were tasting we snacked on cheese, figs, bread and the most insanely delicious balsamic dressings and glazes that they have on-site. I so very badly wish that I would have brought home some of the Raspberry Balsamic (because it looks like I can't buy any online!) Ugh, I hate remorse. New lesson - buy everything when I get the urge. Stevie will love my new plan.

This winery is really beautiful, designed in the French style with an extra dose of massive cream-colored dusty stones. It just felt like the set of a movie where you would see Jesus wandering around and teaching his disciples. I think it was all that stone. The sun stone, no wait - the SON stone. Gosh I am really in the zone right now.

The other venture we took was into the town of Los Olivos, where there are tasting rooms side-by-side. You can try wines from all over the Santa Ynez Valley region, without having to drive all over. This is a great way to stay safe while tasting. Since we were driving I tried a few here but nothing nearly as good as what we experienced at Sunstone. We also heard really great things about the town of Solvang, which is designed like a Swedish village. I really wish we had made it over that way to much on some pastries at Mortensens Danish Bakery, but we just ran out of time. Next time!

P.S. - What we did on our trip to Santa Barbara and playing on the beach of the Pacific Ocean!

Linen & Dahlias on the Beach.

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Details:

Gal Meets Glam Abigail Dress (also available here), Soludos Wedges, Stella & Dot Cuff, Wrap Bracelet & Letter Necklace, Raw Bronzing Studio Tan


This day is even more vivid in my memory than these photos can capture. The water was euphoric, the joy in my heart was vibrant, and I was wearing the prettiest happiest dress. We were playing frisbee on the beach of the Pacific Ocean, just the two of us, laughing and joking together like we were still 18. After all these years together, no one can really infuriate me or endear me more than him.

Our time in Santa Barbara was meant for celebrating the wedding of our friends, but we also treated it as a really good excuse to toast our own 11-year wedding anniversary. I remember this day because I felt a tangible sense of bliss and elation and it was finally, a sigh of relief.

To be honest, these emotions were a pretty stark contrast compared to how I've been feeling for most of the summer. It's been a season of unforeseen circumstances and Stevie and I have clung to each other as we have been grappling with how to be adults through it all.

Sometimes the blog and Instagram world can look like a whirlwind of fun and endless joy, when the truth is that everyone has things they're going through and dealing with. This summer has been especially rife with emotion and decision making in our little family, and I have carried the weightiness around with me (that instead of a diaper bag, which I keep forgetting to bring with me lately). We live with the very real feeling that everything we do affects not only ourselves, but our two precious little boys, and this summer especially we have been examining how we are living and how it impacts our kids, for the good and the bad.

This trip was a refreshing break from all that emotion. I don't share this with you because I have everything figured out and I can tie a pretty bow around it. There is nothing really to share. No big conclusions or life changes or evidence of anything new (except that I cut my hair - like an inch). I feel like change happens first on the inside, and I can feel a shift coming even though my life might not reflect any tangible difference yet. Does anyone know what I mean? Perhaps I am just rambling, but I feel like I haven't really disclosed all of these feelings here on the blog because I haven't known how to put words to it yet. And also because there isn't anything to share! Except that I might be even more sensitive and emotional and contemplative now that I'm 30 and maybe I should just chill a minute. But that Pacific Ocean did me some real good and I am grateful that we got time to play on this beach, just the two of us, and revel in the beauty of the Earth. Just up the beach from us was a 150 year old fig tree and one of the figs fell square on Stevie's head as we walked beneath it - we both took it as a good sign.

P.S. - What we did in Santa Barbara for the weekend ;)



What we did in Santa Barbara for the weekend!

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Oh my GOSH Santa Barbara is some kind of dream. I am so excited to share this post with you because I have been living on the memories from this beautiful trip since we returned. I hope this post is helpful if you are planning a trip out West! We were so stoked to visit this place that we had heard about for so long but failed to visit when we lived in California. On this trip, we were busy seeing friends, exploring this incredible stretch of California and eating & drinking a lotttttttt of good stuff :)

We flew into LA and headed up to Santa Barbara for the weekend, to attend our friends' wedding and also to celebrate our own 11-year anniversary. We explored the town but I wish we could have had even more time there - Santa Barbara is an absolutely decadent, luscious and exotic place. From the hand-painted Spanish tiles trimming the cobblestone streets to the volkswagon-sized succulents growing wild, I was on inspiration overload. So much intricate beauty and divine details spilling out of each vignette.

We stayed at the Santa Barbara Hilton Beachfront and had an awesome experience. The beach was steps away and the pool and gym were used by us on more than 1 occasion. As were the chips and guacamole that was available at the pool. And the breakfast was so good too! We kind of regret not going out to eat more in town, but the food at the hotel was outstanding and we were tired people so...

Things we LOVED that were recommended by locals:
- Wine Tasting in Santa Ynez Valley - One of my favorite memories! (separate post coming on this!)
- Coffee at Handlebar Roasters - we visited 3 times!
- Santa Barbara Historical Museum - it was honestly so stunning.
- Funk Zone (wine tasting rooms and art galleries) - My favorite was The Valley Project! The Sauvignon Blanc & Grenache were my favorites!

Restaurants Recommended that we didn't get a chance to visit!
- Barbareno
- Bouchon
- Lily's Taqueria
- Ice Cream at McConnells

We also ate at some food trucks (the names which I can't remember any more - #blogfail), but even though I could keep talking I figure I should just show you around so you can FEEL ME here. Santa Barbara was truly more than I could have imagined.

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 We drank coffee at  Handlebar  everyday (perhaps multiple times...) and I was so excited to try oat milk in my cortado!! I know you're probably thinking that is the most California sounding order  ever , but it was seriously SO GOOD you guys. I've got to find a place to buy oat milk to have with my coffee at home! Also the scones were delish.

We drank coffee at Handlebar everyday (perhaps multiple times...) and I was so excited to try oat milk in my cortado!! I know you're probably thinking that is the most California sounding order ever, but it was seriously SO GOOD you guys. I've got to find a place to buy oat milk to have with my coffee at home! Also the scones were delish.

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 There was some amazing shopping in this town, and Stevie is lucky that we were too busy juggling the wedding events, wine tasting and driving the coast in our rental convertible to take time to shop. I did manage to pick up an amazing pair of earrings in one of the boutiques in the Funk Zone which was my only souvenir of the trip!

There was some amazing shopping in this town, and Stevie is lucky that we were too busy juggling the wedding events, wine tasting and driving the coast in our rental convertible to take time to shop. I did manage to pick up an amazing pair of earrings in one of the boutiques in the Funk Zone which was my only souvenir of the trip!

 A big wooden fancy carved door. I walked through it ;)

A big wooden fancy carved door. I walked through it ;)

 Our rental!!! Since we drive extremely normal cars in real life, we were freaking out like school girls when we got our rental upgraded to this baby. I named her Crystal and she was the best. Also now I'm spoiled and I dream of luxury vehicles for my future life.

Our rental!!! Since we drive extremely normal cars in real life, we were freaking out like school girls when we got our rental upgraded to this baby. I named her Crystal and she was the best. Also now I'm spoiled and I dream of luxury vehicles for my future life.

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 My feet are NOT this tan in real life. Thanks to my trusty gals at  Raw Bronzing Studio , I was feeling like my best self with this sun-kissed glow. Without actually having to bake in the sun ;)

My feet are NOT this tan in real life. Thanks to my trusty gals at Raw Bronzing Studio, I was feeling like my best self with this sun-kissed glow. Without actually having to bake in the sun ;)



 Do you see what I mean about inspiration overload? Like, what do I look at first in this photo?! The trees, the colors, the lines, the sunlight - it's all so good and soulful and brilliant!!!

Do you see what I mean about inspiration overload? Like, what do I look at first in this photo?! The trees, the colors, the lines, the sunlight - it's all so good and soulful and brilliant!!!

 Wedding guest style! I loved wearing  this gown  from  Rent the Runway  for our dear friends' wedding - I've really enjoyed using RTR this summer to find beautiful dresses for some special events like this one without actually having to buy formal attire. You can get  20% off your first time  if you try it out with code FIRST.

Wedding guest style! I loved wearing this gown from Rent the Runway for our dear friends' wedding - I've really enjoyed using RTR this summer to find beautiful dresses for some special events like this one without actually having to buy formal attire. You can get 20% off your first time if you try it out with code FIRST.



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 The succulents grew like weeds. Like the most beautiful, stylish, Instagram-approved weeds.

The succulents grew like weeds. Like the most beautiful, stylish, Instagram-approved weeds.

 These are stairs that I seriously wanted to take home with me. I am obsessed with spanish tile and although this style would majorly clash with my green bungalow-style home, I just know that somewhere in Heaven there is a home for me and it is, in fact, spanish architecture style and it has these stairs (I might have hugged them after this photo was taken.)

These are stairs that I seriously wanted to take home with me. I am obsessed with spanish tile and although this style would majorly clash with my green bungalow-style home, I just know that somewhere in Heaven there is a home for me and it is, in fact, spanish architecture style and it has these stairs (I might have hugged them after this photo was taken.)

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 Like I said - the beach was calling and I had to GO.

Like I said - the beach was calling and I had to GO.

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 This is a photo of me being pose-y because 1. I liked my dress, 2. I liked the plants and 3. We were without children so taking photos without coaxing them with snacks was a vaycay in itself. Although Stevie needed a lot of snacks on this trip so ??

This is a photo of me being pose-y because 1. I liked my dress, 2. I liked the plants and 3. We were without children so taking photos without coaxing them with snacks was a vaycay in itself. Although Stevie needed a lot of snacks on this trip so ??


Dress - 50% off with code SISTERS / Bag / Earrings - similar / Necklace


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 I mean, this photo is stupid pretty. Can you see the boats in the distance? I can't handle this view. Like, I want to take everyone I know and love back to SB just for this view. The Earth is so beautiful I could cry.

I mean, this photo is stupid pretty. Can you see the boats in the distance? I can't handle this view. Like, I want to take everyone I know and love back to SB just for this view. The Earth is so beautiful I could cry.

We loved our time in this town and we really want to take another trip back! I think my boys would absolutely go nuts for the little park in downtown Santa Barbara we found. And also, I need more oat milk cortados because Georgia hasn't caught on yet. May the trip planning commence!


P.S. - Later this week I'm sharing some beachy dress photos and a review on some wineries in Santa Ynez Valley!

DIY Essential Oil Bug Spray.

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It's that time of year - when the mosquitoes love to FEAST in the sunset glow. I love spending time outside with my boys, but we do seem to have some enemies out there with us, especially right around twilight. My poor little Daxton boy seems to be anointed with my blood type and we get especially bitten up in the summer months if we forget to apply bug spray. I really hate conventional bug spray because most are loaded with toxic ingredients and with our skin being like a sponge, I just can't in good conscience put that garbage on my children. But I have a great, easy bug spray DIY that I've been using since last summer which is completely natural, non-toxic and safe for kiddos - and it works! My boys have gotten used to having this sprayed on as soon as we get outside, and I do re-spray if we've been outside for more than an hour. This DIY is based on DoTERRA's pest-repellent oil blend, TerraShield which is so awesome and smells much, much better than regular bug spray. So it's a win-win! So without further adieu, enjoy this essential oil DIY!

Supplies:
- 2 oz. glass bottle (I got my ombre bottle here)
- Quinn's Witch Hazel
- DoTERRA TerraShield oil blend

Method:
1. Measure out 1/3 cup of water and pour it into the 2 oz. bottle.
2. Add 25 drops of Terrashield essential oil to the glass bottle.
3. Top off the bottle with Quinn's unscented witch hazel (this should be between 1/3 - 1/2 cup).
4. Shake bottle to distribute and voila, you're ready to say, "Shoo mosquitoes!"

Notes:
-  I prefer to use unscented Witch Hazel so that the only scent is from the oil itself.
- When making any kind of blend with essential oils, you want to make sure that you are using a glass contained. Plastic or other material can "pull" on the essential oils and release toxins, etc. into the mixture, whereas glass, aluminum and stainless steel don't have that effect with the EO's.
- I like to make several of these bug spray mixtures and keep on in the car, one in the stroller, one at home, and anywhere else you would find yourself reaching for bug spray! Like the Boy Scouts say, always be prepared!

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Interested in learning more about DoTERRA essential oils? I would love to share more about why I love them, how I use them, and how you can get some in your home, too! You can shop for them here, or leave a comment and I can invite you to one of my online classes where you can learn more! xx