Chatting Over Chocolate

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Trip Report Tuesday: California Day 7 {Part 1} // Monterey Bay Aquarium

Day 7 - Friday, September 16, 2016

I woke that morning to the sound of sea lions outside.  That was wonderfully unexpected!  Those first few moments of the day continued to improve all the more as I pulled back our room's curtain revealing our ocean view in the morning's light.

These are the sea lions who's "off off off"s I awoke to.

We enjoyed a little time on our patio taking in the stunning sights all around us...

After a bit of lounging (& a lot of happy sighing) we packed up our things and took a stroll down to the hotel's Cafe La Strada for breakfast.

I could totally go for another one of those chocolate croissants right about now! Yum!

Soon it was time to hit the road again.  Goodbye, Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa!  Hello, our reason for visiting this seaside city, the inspiration behind Finding Dory, the Monterey Bay Aquarium! 

"Cuddle Party!" ...If you haven't seen Finding Dory, do yourself a favor & watch it asap!

My favorite part of this pic is my aquarium loving husband looking upward at the fish.

Little One taking a closer look.

Artwork:  Monterey Wharf in the Forties by Bruce Ariss, 1971.

I spy a cutie pie taking it all in!

"Get a ray's view of this exhibit" - how fun is that?!

Brave fingers ;)

The Wave Crash exhibit was much cooler than photos could capture!

The lookout from this aquarium was breathtaking!  If you're interested, you can check out a live web cam of the views here:  Monterey Bay Cam  

We found Dory!  

For anyone interested, the aquarium has a LIVE cam on these cute penguins!  You can check out what they're up to here:  Monterey Bay Aquarium Penguin Cam 

Find other live web cams from the aquarium HERE.

Their Pacific bluefin tuna are HUGE!  This picture doesn't begin to show how amazing they are!  They looked too large to be real.  Swimming by like shiny, gigantic robots, I couldn't believe they were one of my favorites of the day! 

We have an incredible aquarium at our local zoo, so much of Monterey Bay's wasn't as impressive to us as it would have otherwise been.  However, this aquarium does have something we had never seen, a sight that my shark-obsessed hubby was convinced this California road trip needed to include, the hammerhead shark!

You're looking at another bucket list check right there!

... worth the visit!

You know I wasn't going to pass a gift shop without popping in!  Little One and I swooned over otter-ly adorable finds. 

We were happy to have included this aquarium on our trip's itinerary.  Strolling through admiring the wonders of God's creation made for a relaxing afternoon.  This day's adventures were only just beginning though!  From here we drove on, Pismo Beach bound!  Hope you'll be back next Tuesday in a flip flop, ocean air state-of-mind!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Five Loves on Friday

Happy Friday, friends!  I'm getting this post put together much later than usual, as I was feeling under the weather yesterday.  Better late than never though, right? ;)  Hope your week has been wonderful!  If not, the weekend is so close you can almost reach out and grab it, so hang in there! ;)  Okay, without further ado, let's get to those lovely Loves, shall we? ...

*This weeks Loves are listed in chronological order. ;)

One  //  A Bargain on Beautiful Bedding
I spotted this 12-pc "luxury bedding set" at Kohl's originally $350.00 on clearance a whopping 80% off!  Then used a 30% off coupon I had, bringing the entire set down to just $48.98!  On top of that I earned $10 Kohl's cash.  So, essentially it was just under $40 before tax (& after those bonus Kohl's bucks), making the twelve pieces basically $3.33 each!  Ha!  Just thinking about that makes my heart smile!  It is incredibly soft.  It's safe to say that between the bargain and the ample pretty pillows I'm super pleased with my purchase!

*The photo is taken from Better Homes & Gardens site as it's completely out of stock at Kohl's and elsewhere.

Two  //  New Art for Springtime

I picked up this cheery cuteness at Hobby Lobby to add some pops of color to our home for spring.  The "Home Sweet Home" pallet was half price and the "spring shop" decor is all 40% off this week, so I got great deals on everything!  

Also while browsing the spring shop goodies, Little One was immediately drawn to this wooden banner featuring her big sister's initial which also looked as if it were written in Princess' own hand.  It didn't take much pleading with me to approve this purchase, because I just thought it was too sweet and thoughtful a request to deny. ;)

Isn't Hobby Lobby so much fun?  I could spend all day (and all my money) there!

Three  //  Celebrating with Friends

Pizza partying with some of our faves // Gift time - Princess baked her friend brownies for his birthday.  :)

Our dear friends, the Grahams, made an hour drive up to spend a day of their Spring Break with us this week!  We had a great time celebrating our "Friendiversary" and their awesome boy's birthday too!  We absolutely adore them and were pleased as punch that they chose to spend part of their break with us! 

Four  // The Most Delightful Disney Dessert!

If you've been around here for a bit you probably know that my friend Nikki often brings a scrumptious treat along when her sweet family visits.  This giant Disney dessert she ordered from Eileen's Colossal Cookies was almost too cute to eat ...almost!  

I don't think I've seen a more magical cookie in all my days!

Five  //  Draper James Goody

I've been swooning over the Southern sweetness at Reese Witherspoon's Draper James shop online for a while now and had yet to purchase anything.  When I spotted this super cute serving platter at half price and had a promo code for free shipping, I couldn't help myself.  The big beautiful box it arrived in made opening it feel like an occasion in itself!  I can picture serving up everything from sliders to cupcakes on this beauty!  It truly is the little things that brighten my day, even a simple daydream of serving up sandwiches to loved ones on a pretty platter. ;)  

*This platter is now out of stock, otherwise I'd link the loveliness here.

Thanks so much for popping by the blog today!  I hope the weekend ahead provides plenty of reasons to smile!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Trip Report Tuesday: California Day 6 {Part 3} // Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa and Dinner at Cannery Row

Happy Tuesday, friends!  You all make it so much fun to share these adventures each week!  Let's dive right in for some more California fun!

Day 6 - Thursday, September 15, 2016

After enjoying a magical afternoon at The Walt Disney Family Museum we had only one more pit stop we had to make in San Francisco, McDonald's!  Okay, I'm not typically a big McD's fan, but I do have a weak spot for their french fries.  All over San Francisco I'd seen ads for McDonald's fries, not the fries we have back home though.  These ads enticed me with Gilroy Garlic Fries, only available in California!  If you've been around here for a while you know I love trying limited edition/speciality twists on favorites, making this a must-try fry!  

Gilroy Garlic Fries are topped with a scrumptious blend of olive oil, parmesan, parsley, and of course, garlic.  They were made fresh to order and even more delicious than I'd imagined they'd be!  My mouth is watering just remembering them.  Yum!  After this worthy pit stop we were on the road again, Monterey-bound...

One of my favorite things about this adventure across the breathtaking state of California was road tripping through such a vast array of scenery.  The views during this drive were stunning!

We arrived at our hotel, the lovely and luxurious Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa in the early evening.

This hotel is incredible and the list of their complimentary services and amenities includes everything from complimentary valet and nightly turndown service, to courtesy Land Rovers and complimentary shoe shines.  Neither of the latter were needed by my family, but the nightly turndown service was something I could definitely get used to. 

Would you like a tour of our room?

These beds were AMAZING!  I still think about how comfortable they were!  It was like sleeping on a cloud!  *happy sigh*

Now for the reason I could hardly wait to check in to this hotel, the ocean view!

After checking in and freshening up we enjoyed a nice stroll to Cannery Row for dinner. 

When in Monterey there was no dinner debate, it had to be fresh seafood.  I'm not really big into seafood myself, but I can always go for some fish and chips, while my seafood loving family enjoy their favorites!

We ate at a place called Louie Linguini's Seafood Shack.  The view from our table was perhaps even better than the food!

It was a fantastic family night out!

We returned to a turndown serviced room, welcomed with beautiful music and complimentary bottles of water and chocolates awaiting us on our beside table.  It was truly a relaxing and wonderful finish to a memorable evening in Monterey!

Thanks so much for popping by today!  It's such a joy to share these travels with you!  Next week I'll take you along to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the inspiration for "Finding Dory"!