Hotel Review in Santa Monica: The Viceroy Hotel

Unique boutique hotel, The Viceroy in Santa Monica, California had me curious.  Last time we stayed in Santa Monica, we totally indulged and spent way too much money at the lovely Shutters on the Beach resort hotel.  That blog post coming soon.  We absolutely loved it, but with one in college now and one headed there soon, we needed to spend less money this time around.  I still craved nice, unique and a little bit fancy, especially since I knew I would blog about our stay.  I went to my AMEX card website and looked at hotel recommendations.  The Viceroy’s website immediately caught my eye, but would the property look as nice as the website pictures?

Picture from the Viceroy Hotel Facebook page

Most often the answer is no.  Read on to see my answer to this.

I really liked what I saw each time I revisited the Viceroy’s website, so I booked us there.  This boutique hotel is situated on the corner of Ocean Blvd. & Pico, just steps from the beach and within walking distance of the Santa Monica Pier.

So, did my instincts pan out that this property would be as nice as advertised online?


My video review is below.  And let me add, the biggest reason that I give this property an almost perfect score is because the staff was truly a team that aim to please their guests.

From the moment we checked in with the super nice, professional, warm and friendly hotel front desk clerk, Acquah Dansoh, we were completely spoiled.  Acquah commented that since we were on a mother & daughter trip and that it was our first time staying at the Viceroy, he wanted to celebrate us so he upgraded us to a full ocean view room at no extra charge!  Nice surprise!  Then he served me a glass of welcome complimentary champagne.  Cheers to that!  I was feeling very at home already.  And the first-class treatment never ended the entire time we were there.  Everyone, the maid, the concierge, Jeremy, the restaurant staff…all were so nice to us and spoiled us each and every day.  When we ordered room service, it was delivered promptly.  The hotel restaurant, Cast served delicious California fare (be sure to try the Charred Brussels Sprouts with sour mustard seeds, wholegrain mustard, manchego and pepitas). The pool area was super cool and the entire property and team have a collective peaceful and joyful vibe.

Photo from Viceroy website.

All seemed to love working there.

Only two complaints.  Parking cost $55 a day…ouch!  But all the hotels located in that area charge as no street parking is allowed.  And we wished the rooms had balconies, but other than that, our stay was absolutely perfect.  Here is our video review…

Top Travel Sized Toiletries for Guys & Gals

With spring break and summer vacation just around the corner, here are our top travel sized toiletries for both the guys and the girls.  My blog beauty expert, Bianca, also a beauty expert for Walgreens, showed me what’s hot for the travel beauty bag based on quality and customer feedback.  Take a look and don’t pack until you check out our list that I showed in my 3TV Your Life Arizona morning show segment that aired last week.

Did you know that coconut oil comes in a multi-purpose travel size?  Some of your favorite brands are now made travel sized, which is so handy for your next getaway! And most are sold at the drug store, so see below to see the stuff you can conveniently buy at Walgreens and another awesome product for all over (especially for dry heels) called Toe JuiceIt is all below.

But first, note that we will give away some of these goodies this Friday in our Freebie Friday drawing.  If you are a subscriber, you are automatically entered.  If you haven’t become a subscriber, do so because most Fridays we do a drawing for cool prizes.  And you don’t have to enter as being a subscriber to this blog automatically enters you.  The winner is drawn on Fridays through

Now let’s get to the good travel sized stuff…

For the Gals

*Soap & Glory She’s A Natural Day & Night Face Palette ($20 at Walgreens) – Perfect for travel because you get six products in one compact easy to pack palette. A creamy blusher & highlighter, a bronzer and three eye shadows are all included in this pretty pack by the very reputable Soap & Glory line.  This palette also works for day and night makeup, so less face makeup to pack for numerous events while traveling.

*Real Techniques Base Mini Expert Face Brush ($5.99 at Walgreens) – Love this mini makeup brush that sports a full-sized brush head for foundation application on the go.

*Soap & Glory Poutstanding Lip Contour Crayon ($6 at Walgreens) – Pack two in one products with this handy beauty tool because one side is matte lip color and the other gives the lips a glossy shine.  So, the matte end is used to line the lips and then simply flip the stick to fill in with the shine side to get full luscious lips. I personally tested this lip crayon and I loved how smoothly and evenly it went on my lips.  Plus, it felt light, but it also gave me full color shapely lips.  I am a fan of the Poutstanding Crayon by Soap & Glory!

*Secret Freshies On-The-Go Deodorant ($5.99 at Walgreens) – Small handy little ball shaped deodorant that fits in a purse, so it takes up less room when packing.  This is one beauty item that you don’t want to leave behind. So handy and we dig the relaxing lavender scent.

*Maui Moisture Heal & Hydrate Shea Butter Shampoo & Conditioner ($3.29 at Walgreens) – My daughter and I tried this line last year and we fell in love with it, so we are thrilled to see that it comes in a travel size.  It is sulfate-free, smells incredible and is organic.  Just look on the side of the bottle to see that this line contains no synthetic dye, no mineral oil, no parabens, among other unwanted ingredients.  It does contain pure coconut water and pure aloe juice.  Such good stuff and travel friendly!

*Batiste Dry Shampoo ($4.29 at Walgreens) – Dry shampoo is the perfect beauty product to have when traveling just in case you need to skip washing your hair due to accommodations or just to take a day off from the daily routine.  This brand has a nice scent that is not overbearing, but is a fragrance you desire when needing to use dry shampoo in the first place.  The coconut tropical scent is perfect for the spring and summer season.

*Soap & Glory Puffy Eye Attack Under Eye Brightening Hydrogel Patches ($5 at Walgreens) – Bianca tells me that one of her customers places these under her tired eyes in flight while she naps on the trip!  The patches are clear, and she says that placed them under her eyes on a recent flight to Chicago, set her phone alarm for 20 minutes and then removed them.  She had refreshed eyes with no bags when she landed, she tells us!  So cool!  They are lightweight and easy to pack, so for an under-eye pick-me-up on a long trip, throw this in your makeup bag. The price is good, too.

*Neutrogena Make-up Remover Cleansing Towelettes ($2.49) – The most travel friendly make-up remover item are the wipes and Neutrogena makes a good one that is gentle while also removing mascara.  This brand is alcohol free, ophthalmologist tested, dermatologist tested and allergy tested, so we give these travel sized wipes a travel thumbs up.

*Botanical Sunscreen 30 Broad Spectrum SPF ($3.99 at Walgreens) – Made by Australian Gold, which is a reputable company for good sunscreen that is non-chemical and doesn’t leave a greasy residue.  Perfect travel size that offers UVA/UVB protection.

*Soap & Glory Hand Food ($4 at Walgreens) – Don’t forget hand lotion when traveling because flying, different climates and excessive hand washing (which you will want to do, especially during travel in cold and flu season) will dry out your hands, so having this stuff on hand (no pun intended) is handy!

For the Guys

*American Crew Fiber Hair Setting Gel ($11.49 at Walgreens) – This is what the pro barbers use and men love this product, so being able to get it in a travel size is a bonus.  It has a nice light scent, sets hair well without being greasy or too stiff.  This also works well as a sort of a dry shampoo for the men, too.

*Men Degree Cool Rush Antiperspirant ($1.69 at Walgreens) – Just for him and the travel size is perfect.

Shared His & Her Travel Toiletries

*Toe Juice ($7.20 at — I have showed this product before and love how it heals my dry heels (no pun intended!), so I am thrilled to share that this is sold in a travel-friendly sizeToe Juice features DermaVine, a healing combination of plant-based extracts like lemon peel oil and willow bark extract, that work to heal all kinds of skin ailments.  Developed by a high school chemistry teacher for his infant son’s cracked feet, this product works beautifully for the extra dry heels I get on my feet when I wear daily flip flops and high heels.  Since that is common foot attire during travel, pack a travel sized Toe Juice and a pumice in your bag to rid those dry heels quickly and efficiently when you shower or bathe at your hotel.  Great product!

*Big Sexy Hair Spray & Play ($5.99 at Walgreens) – This brand is popular for both the girls and guys and it doesn’t leave hair crunchy and tough but is volumizing with a good hold.

*Hempz Original Herbal Body Moisturizer ($6.99 at Walgreens) – Enriched with 100% pure hemp seed oil and paraben free and vegan, this brand is popular for both the guys and gals, so the travel size is a nice option to buy.  Top ingredients like shea butter, ginseng, vitamin A, C and E are also great for the skin.  The scent is light, which is why it appeals to the menfolk.

*VitaCoCo Coconut Oil (2.99 at Walgreens) – This little travel sized jar of the good stuff serves so many purposes for both sexes.

Amazing product that can be used for both gals and guys on cuticles, lips and more. For beards on men, too!

*Well Walgreens Dental Travel Kit ($2.59 at Walgreens) – I am going to buy a stack of these for my own travel and to have handy for guests.

Perfect dental travel kit behind the dry shampoo we like. The dental kit is under $3 at Walgreens. Good buy for products that you don’t want to leave behind!

This little kit is perfect because it contains a mini tooth brush, small mouthwash and little toothpaste.

Did I forget any of your favorite travel sized beauty go to products?  If so, share in the comments section.  I love covering travel related topics.  Happy travels!  Now you can pack!








Classy Cabins AZ: A Cool Getaway Destination

Looking to get out of the heat now or to pre-book the perfect Fall Break getaway?  Look no further than the lovely Flagstaff/Williams/Grand Canyon area where the beautifully furnished Classy Cabins AZ are available to rent for a terrific family vacation!  These gorgeous cabins also are great for a romantic trip for just the two of you.  I spoke with the Classy Cabins AZ owners to get the story on how they took their classy cabin business dream idea and turned it into the perfect getaway for all.  It is a great story and makes me even more excited to stay there when I see all the love, attention and care that went into creating Classy Cabins AZ!  Classy Cabins AZ owners, Steve and Amy Sorenson shared their story with me on how their stunning, comfy and welcoming cabin idea rentals came to life.

Steve says:

It was the heat!  A keen desire to find a place to cool off during the summer, and lifelong dreams for both Amy and me to have a cabin in the woods, drove us to explore in Northern Arizona.  This is our story of how wanting to get away became a passion for creating perfect settings for families and groups to create lasting memories.  So we put the kids in the car seats and set out to explore!

We found the perfect place.  While we didn’t find that perfect cabin, we did find the perfect place in Sherwood Forest Estates – a small subdivision of 1 acre lots in the tall pines, between Flagstaff and Williams.  Amy pointed out that we had better buy it, as it was perfect.  Shortly, we had our place to go to cool off.  At first, we camped…and with two small boys and our infant daughter!  Fun! Next came a pop-up camper.

When we were ready, we designed a cabin, called Moose Manor, and got it built in a bit over a year.  Sweat equity, lots of it, helped get the job done, and in the fall of 2004, Moose Manor was completed.  The name is more than just a name…it’s all about the theme.  Amy decorates like a pro.  Many families have had a wonderful time trying to count the number of moose in the cabin!

The demands of work and life mean that we can’t be there all the time.  It was a tough decision, but we decided to put Moose Manor on the vacation rental market to share the experience with others, and help pay the bills.  The popularity of Moose Manor led to the creation of Classy Cabins AZ –  the start of a passion designing and building from scratch to share the Classy Cabin experience with other families.

So we built our second property, and this time the kids were old enough to help more.  And, so it has gone.  Classy Cabins AZ has just finished it’s fifth build.

Our mission has become to create the finest vacation rental properties, and the best vacation experiences for their guests.  Classy Cabins AZ is all about the feeling you get staying at one of their properties.

If you were wondering whether the other cabins are themed as well, they are!  Cabin number two is Raccoon RanchIt’s nearly the same as Moose Manor.  The next one is Bearly-A-Cabin, Bear themed of course.  Then came Buck N’ Ham Palace – themed around pigs and bucks of course!  Yes, guests from Britain find it “quite amusing.”

And almost just finished is The Owl’s Nest.  These modern structures look and feel like log cabins, but have all the comforts of home.  The forested setting really makes you feel like you’ve gotten away from it all.  We even put up decorated Christmas trees in all the cabins.

Of course, that means these aren’t just for Summer getaways. The cabins are positively enchanting in the wintertime.

Thank you for sharing your story of how Classy Cabins AZ was born, Steve!  This managed mom is intrigued and can’t wait to book a cabin stay!

Oh and doesn’t that picture below look so nice right about now during our 120 temps?!  So book in the winter for sure!  And definitely go now to escape our crazy desert heat!  For more information and to reserve one of these amazing cabins for your getaway, visit Classy Cabins AZ.  You won’t regret it!


Thank you, Steve and Amy!  My family hasn’t stayed at one of their deluxe cabins yet, but we plan to soon!  This is one cabin rental company that won’t give you cabin fever, but will instead cool you down and give you an amazing vacay getaway!



A big thank you to Classy Cabins AZ for sponsoring this post.  My opinion about how excited I am about Classy Cabins AZ is 100% my own! 

Our 3-Day Getaway to LA: Cool Things To Do

As I promised, here is my short blog article about the fun things my girl and I enjoyed during our brief visit to the City of Angels.  We loved our hotel stay at the London and you can read our hotel review about that here. We found some cool things to do when we ventured out of our cozy hotel room. Here is what we recommend that we thoroughly enjoyed…

First of all, our main reason for going to LA was to tour UCLA and we had a great time doing that.  That blog post is coming soon, so stayed tuned for that.  That took up most of our first day in LA. After that we didn’t have much time to spare before we had to head back to Phoenix, but we found some pretty cool things to do that you will want to try!

This particular spot is one that not a lot of people know about when it comes to getting that prized Hollywood sign picture. We will share the secret in the fun trip video below…

Watch this short video to see our trip highlights and to find out how we got to the perfect photo spot for the Hollywood sign.  We watched countless other tourists go the long way that isn’t as well placed as this spot is for that great Hollywood sign photo op.  Plus here is what else we did in our quick 3-day getaway to LA in our fun and short video and be sure to make it full screen for best view…

Video travel blogging is so much fun.  Here is more info about what we showed in the video….


*The London Hotel

For London Hotel information, check out our blog review here.

Our balcony from our room at the very cool London Hotel.

Love the rooftoop pool and scenic panoramic views

*UCLA Tours
For more information and to schedule student tours, visit this UCLA link.  More thorough blog post about this coming soon!

*Glitterati LA Private Tours

Visit Glitterati’s website for more details and booking information.

The Grove Shopping, Restaurants & Farmers Market

Visit The Grove website here and be sure to taste one of those irresistible chocolate covered strawberries.  Best we have ever had!

Herringbone Restaurant in Santa Monica

Herringbone Restaurant menu, location and more can be found here.  Yummy!

California dreamin’ until next time. We plan to return this summer to tour USC.  Stay tuned for that as we will share more fun things to do on a quick trip to LA.  Happy travels!

The Unique & Chic London Hotel in LA: Our Review

In a little under three days time, my daughter and I made the most of our quick trip to LA a few weeks ago. We exeperienced Hollywood as well as a few other super cool LA activities. As her spring break wound down, we snuck over to Cali for a walking UCLA college tour (more on that coming in a future blog post) and a 3-day getaway.  Since we didn’t have a lot of time, we did some cool stuff that we recommend for your next visit to Los Angeles.  I will soon post that, but first where did we stay?  A place that we fell in love with called The London.  Located in West Hollywood, right off the famous Sunset Strip, this was the perfect property for us to accomplish our visit objectives and rest and lounge in style during our downtime.  Check it out with this short video and see pictures with more details below the video in this fun travel blog article.  I love travel blogging, so watch the quick video, read on and then start planning your Cali travel. 

Our balcony from our room at the very cool London Hotel.

Cool interior designed hallways by the hotel elevators.

This picture shows the view of both the hotel grounds below and apartments and celebrity luxury homes across the famous and iconic Sunset Blvd.

Our absolute favorite feature of the London Hotel is the hip pool area that is located on the rooftop.  We just love this feature and the pictures show that for sure.  Take a look…And the view from the panoramic rooftop gave us time to look, reflect and relax before we jumped into our busy day of activities in LA.  Hotel guests can also dine on the rooftop with full food service, too. 

Inside the hotel, we especially enjoyed The London’s signature restaurant, Boxwood.  Yummy juicing options. Delish and nutritious!  Breakfast is very good here.

Tasty Farmers Market Veggie Omelette for my girl and the irresistible Huevos Rancheros for me. Boxwood Restaurant at the London Hotel is very good.

The hotel food was scrumptious with lots of healthy menu options as well.  We wouldn’t expect anything less from California. We always love dining in the Southern California.  Fresh food galore!

We also loved our room.  All units at the London Hotel are suite style.  These pictures are not of our actual room (simply because I forgot to take pics!), but these shots from the hotel website look almost identical to the room we stayed in.  
And we really dug the spacious bathroom with a big tub and a nice shower with two shower heads….one of my daughter’s favorite features of our room. And the location of our hotel was right on to pack in the many things we wanted to do in our short 3 day trip.  This map, from the hotel website, aptly shows that The London is located in the heart of a lot of great landmarks to visit, along with some fabulous shopping opportunities, too. We highly recommend The London Hotel.  We booked using our American Express card Fine Hotels & Resort package.  With this benefit, we were able to receive complimentary breakfast for two each morning, a free room upgrade (based on availability), a late check-out of 4pm (perfect since we had a late evening flight home) and a $100 restaurant credit.

I also must give kudos to the hotel concierge, Sarah Dandashy, who knew exactly where to send us to dine, shop and tour.  I will share those recommendations and our experiences in my next blog post coming soon.  Sarah also has a hip and helpful website called Ask a Concierge.  Definitely check out her site for everything you want to know about LA.  Great resource and it is so cool that she has created an informative platform that extends her travel knowledge talents beyond the concierge desk.  But do visit her at the desk when you stay at The London.  She will have your trip organized with creative, fun and unforgettable things to see, do and taste in the LA. Although our trip was so short, my girl and I had the time of our lives!  We look forward to our next college tour trip in a few months to USC and we plan to return to the trendy, stylish and ultra cool London Hotel.

My Family’s Review of Ritz-Carlton at Dove Mountain in Tucson

With spring break and summer break upon us for many, here is my family’s review of the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain resort in Tucson.  I like to provide travel reviews on my blog for your vacation planning.  I will never ever regret the time and money we spent as a family traveling through the years.  Our kids grew up so fast! 

For Phoenix locals, a quick trip to Tucson is easy and feels like you really got away from it all without having to go too far.  For my out-of-state readers, this Tucson, Arizona resort is definitely one to consider. Our family had some travel credit points on our AMEX card, so we used that to reduce our cost for this quick weekend get-a-way to this gorgeous property. We took this trip last July as a final destination vacation before our first born left for college. It was a wonderful weekend.

What We Loved

We loved our room balcony with a view of the beautiful desert. Perfect backdrop for this family picture, too.  Our review panel, our family with our son’s sweet girlfriend, too.

*Check-in!  We loved the check-in process because it included desert wildlife right there in the lobby, although the only family member brave enough to cuddle one was our girl, who made friends with the resident snake.  Yes, I said snake! 

Lovely and welcoming lobby and these two, my handsome son and his pretty girlfriend, make nice resort lobby models, I’d say 😉

2.  The Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course – A big reason we chose this resort  is because my hubs and son wanted to try their golf clubs at the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and they tell us that it did not disappoint.  I copied this from the resort website as it perfectly explains why this course is the one to try when in Arizona….

Nicklaus created 27 holes with unique challenges and distinct character. With elevations ranging from 2,300 to 3,200 feet, Nicklaus purposefully designed this luxury golf course to be challenging yet enjoyable to play, time and time again.

This world-class golf resort also includes a pro shop featuring the finest equipment, apparel and accessories; expansive, tour-quality practice areas; and an award-winning clubhouse.

The Golf Club at Dove Mountain is an elite golf course to be enjoyed by golfing legends and friends alike. For additional information about The Golf Club at Dove Mountain or to reserve tee times online, please visit

The guys didn’t take any course pictures, but these two shots show the beautiful course behind us….

After the boys posed for our pics, they went golfing and we went to the spa, which brings me to our third favorite resort feature.  Did someone say spa?  Ahh yes.

[Read more…]

AZ Travel: My Review of New Camby Hotel, Formally Ritz Carlton

When The Ritz Carlton left Phoenix, I was disappointed.  Having been there for business lunches, high tea and a mother and daughter staycation a few years back, the nice property was a Phoenix staple. Curious about the replacement hotel, The Camby, Autograph Collection, I decided to sneak away all by myself during my daughter’s Fall Break.  cam-exterior
After all, my family was away on different trips that happened to fall during the break.  So what’s a mom left behind to do?!  (Of course, truth be told, I was actually looking forward to this accidental me time.) Contact the Camby to set up a one night stay to review the hotel, the room, the spa and the food.  Yes, not a bad assignment.  So what did I think?  Check out my fun 2 minute video review to see the hotel, room, spa, food and more.   Staycation, a referral for out of town guests, a place to ring in the New Year?  See for yourself here…


A few of the services were discounted for this review, but most of it was paid for by me and my dollars were well spent as my opinion about how much I love this place is 100% my very own. 

Our Fun Family Experience At Flagstaff Venue To See Joe Nichols!

One great thing about living in Phoenix is that beautiful Flagstaff is just a few hours away.  So last week we took a trip to escape the heat and to check out a cool venue called the Pepsi Amphitheater at Fort Tuthill County Park.  Hubs and I packed up our two teenagers, along with our son’s sweet girlfriend, and off we went up North to enjoy Flagstaff and a terrific concert with the super talented country star Joe Nichols! The weather was perfect and my hubs snapped this nice photo of me and the teens in front of the Pepsi Amphitheater. us at Joe Nichols concertLucky for us, one of our family’s favorite country singers, Joe Nichols was performing a concert under the stars at this awesome outdoor venue.  Pepsi Amphitheater at Fort Tuthill County Park is so pretty and the website says that the Amphitheater is located amidst the largest contiguous Ponderosa Pine Forest in the world.  It was a very nice spot to enjoy an awesome outdoor concert!  We arrived early to check the place out and you can see that the seating area was empty in this picture below, but it filled up pretty quick for sure.early onAnd the grassy area behind the seats is a gorgeous spot to take in a concert.  That area also was packed by concert time.  I took this picture early on and the pretty trees in the background are so lovely.grass areaWe ordered food from the snack bar which sold burgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, nachos and more. My teens told me to be sure to tell you that the food was good because it was grilled right there on the spot so it was fresh and hot.

This is the walkway to the snack area. We loved how casual and comfy the place was instead of an overcrowded and overwhelming arena, this had a nice relaxing atmosphere.

This is the walkway to the snack area. We loved how casual and comfy the place was and instead of an overcrowded and overwhelming arena, this had a nice relaxing atmosphere.

This cool place also has multiple areas to purchase cocktails and beer and wine, which hubs and I enjoyed. Here we are earlier that evening.  Dressed and ready to go!  [Read more…]

Sedona in 24 Hours: Our Top Picks In Red Rock Country

Manic:  School starting here on August 3rd!  That doesn’t give us a lot of travel time with such a short summer break, so we decided to take a few quick trips this summer that also kept us on budget since we didn’t spend money on airfare this time around.

Managed:  Our first trip was to sunny Sedona, Arizona which is a beautiful place known as Red Rock Country since it is surrounded by radiant red rocks and mountains.  To keep costs down, we only stayed for 24 hours and we were able to fit a lot in, enjoy great food, shop at unique places and truly relax. red rock viewSedona is truly stunning and the town is very relaxed, quite welcoming to tourists and is known to have a spiritual presence.  Want to relax?  Head to Sedona! Here are our trip picks and pics….

*Where We Stayed – this isn’t our first pick because it is outdated but this is where we stayed and since we spent minimal time in the room, it suited us fine.  The digs we chose is the Los Abrigados Resort & Spa. We paid $259.69 for one night and for that we received a roomy 2-bedroom family style room that also had a teeny kitchenette and a living room area plus a small outside balcony.  One bedroom had a king size bed and the other bedroom had two double beds.  We liked the space the room gave us, however the room did not look like the pictures on the property’s website and were outdated with uncomfortable furniture that appeared and felt dated.  Since the property is labeled a resort with a resort price, we expected nicer and newer accommodations.  The room felt a little dingy to us, but we were happy to get a lot of space and we didn’t spend much time in the room at all.  We did like our view from the front door of our room…Sedona from our hotel room front door

And the lobby was nice, the employees were great and the massages we booked and received at the property’s spa were really terrific!  I highly recommend the Los Abrigados Spa for a quality massage.

Me and the teens in the pretty hotel lobby.

Me and the teens in the pretty hotel lobby.

And they have a game room for kids that the teens enjoyed for a bit…J & A in Sedona hotel playing ping pong

Our #1 Restaurant Pick – Hands down most people agree that dining at Elote Cafe is a scrumptious must! Lucky me has met the chef on my morning show and every time he cooks on our program his food is perfectly seasoned, perfectly spiced and absolutely delicious.  Chef Jeff Smedstad is the real deal and traveled to Mexico over a 15 year period to learn how to make authentic and amazing Mexican fare.  And boy does it show and taste like it, truly!  If you go, be sure to order the Elote Corn appetizer because it melts in your mouth. Fire roasted corn with spicy mayo, lime and cotija cheese is a spot on treat that delights the taste buds. Pair that with a beautiful fresh red Sangria and you will be in cusisine heaven and this is even before the main course comes out.  We enjoyed the Smoked Chicken Enchiladas, the Carne Asada and the Grilled Ahi Tacos appetizer and all were fantastic.

tacosenchiladasMake sure you go to Elote and get there early to check in because crowds are the norm since this place is popular and good.  It was very cool that we were able to check in, go change in our hotel room and come back right in time for our available table.  And the ambiance was so inviting. especially on nice cozy patio with beautiful Sedona views.  When it got a little chilly for us warm blooded Phoenix folk, warm blankets were on hand to keep us comfy and happy.

Jack and his girl keep warm after our incredible meal.

Jack and his girl keep warm after our incredible meal.

And we cleaned our plates and then some….so so so good! cleaned our platesOur Other Yum Yum Picks:

Canyon Breeze Juice & Smoothie Bar is a refreshing treat and they offer some healthy juicing, too.

Canyon Breeze Juice & Smoothie Bar is a refreshing treat and they offer some healthy juicing, too.

Pink Java Cafe offers stunning views while you sip delicious coffee and enjoy their sandwiches and treats.  Look at that view!

Pink Java Cafe offers stunning views while you sip delicious coffee and enjoy their sandwiches and treats. Look at that view!

Sedona houses a food court in uptown that has a nice selection of food, cocktails and snacks.  We didn't find the food to be anything special, but it did tide us over the view from the court patio can't be missed.  Very nice indeed!

Sedona houses a food court in uptown that has a nice selection of food, cocktails and snacks. We didn’t find the food to be anything special, but it did tide us over and the view from the court patio can’t be missed. Very nice indeed!

Fave Breakfast Place:

And for a scrumptious breakfast with delicious local fare with Sedona flair, you have to try the El Portal Bed & Breakfast restaurant.  Even if you aren’t staying in the bed and breakfast property, the restaurant which is housed in the hotel lobby entrance is truly terrific.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of our divine breakfast, but trust us when we tell you that the tasty Sedona Scramble is a must.  With three fresh eggs scrambled with scallions, cheddar jack cheese, roasted peppers, and fresh tomatoes served with soft flour tortillas, homemade salsa, sour cream, cowboy potatoes and refried beans, this dish will delight your taste buds and send you off nurtured and full to start the day.  Everything on the menu looked great and I can’t wait to return to Sedona to dine there again.

What To Do & What We Did in 24 Hours:pink jeep tour pic

We highly recommend taking a Pink Jeep Tour.  It was so scenic with breathtaking views and a driver/guide who really knew his stuff.  And the ride wasn’t too rough, although you can sign up for all kinds of side trips and some are more wild and rough than others.  Here are a few of our favorite shots from the very fun tour….


It was very cool that our tour guide made stops along the tour so that we could get out and take pretty pictures as we learned about the history of lovely Sedona.

It was very cool that our tour guide made stops along the tour so that we could get out and take pretty pictures as we learned about the history of lovely Sedona.


Me with my children.  Hubs couldn't get away so he gave us his blessing to go on our 24 hour trip to Sedona and this time with my kids was priceless.

Me with my children. Hubs couldn’t get away so he gave us his blessing to go on our 24 hour trip to Sedona and having this quality time with my kids was priceless.

And having Jack's sweet girl come along was very fun. She is a great traveler and my boy did great, even though he was outnumbered by all of us females....his faves, Mom, girlfriend and sis!

And having Jack’s sweet girl come along was very fun. She is a great traveler and my boy did great, even though he was outnumbered by all of us females….his faves, Mom, girlfriend and sis!

Our view from the jeep.  Awesome!

Our view from the jeep. Awesome!

So pretty!

So pretty!

Our Favorite Shopping Stop:better candle pic

Be sure to check out Sedona Candle Gallery.  These candles are so unique and are especially stunning when lit. We plan to return for some of our holiday shopping.

There is so much more to see, taste and try so we look forward to seeing Sedona again soon.  What are your Sedona picks?  Share in the comments section and if you haven’t been to scenic Sedona, make sure you go and take it in as these two cuties did in this picture….

Looking out over downtown Sedona to surrounding radiant red rocks that surround this wonderful and welcoming town.

Looking out over downtown Sedona and the radiant red rocks that surround this wonderful and welcoming town.

Our Top 10 Maui Moments To Remember & Recommend

Now that the crazy busy school year is back in full swing, I have found myself day dreaming more than once about our magical Maui trip that we took in June.  It was our first time to Hawaii and it was as wonderful as everyone had told us it would be.  Waleia beach

A lot of people have asked me what island activities were our favorite Maui moments, so here is a look at our awesome getaway along with some recommendations on what to do if you travel to Maui.  I have also included links for easy access and planning if you decide to book one of these fun adventures ahead of time, which I recommend.  Be sure to keep reading because our favorite Maui family fun pick is the #1 item listed and this countdown goes from 10 to 1.  If you go to Maui, you have to know about this cool activity that had us tasting, exercising, swimming and more all in one fun filled afternoon!

And two items to note.  One of the smartest things we did was to tuck in early every night so we could rise at sunrise every morning.  Not only did we take in the stunning sun rising over the ocean, but the winds come in the afternoon so you want the calm waters for morning outdoor water activities.  Here is our top ten list of things to do and see in Maui…group by surf board

10.  See a sunset and a sunrise.  Truly make time for Maui’s beautiful sunset.  You may find yourself packing your days with the abundant amount of island activities that are offered and I do recommend that, but do make time to just sit, relax and take in the sunset or a peaceful early morning sunrise.  The picture below was taken from our hotel which is on Wailea Beach.  We stayed at the Grand Wailea and the property was a little outdated in some spots, but extremely nice and very family and teenage friendly.  I will blog about my review of that property soon.  While staying on Wailea Beach, we never saw any planes in the sky, only the ocean and the island of Lanai that is located directly across the sea.  It was lovely.

HI sunset

trees and ocean

9.  Reserve a morning for relaxing beach time.  You will want to be sure to do this on Maui’s beautiful beaches.  We recommend the  Wailea beach for families because it is so pretty and offers smooth sand and gentle waves, making it ideal for kids.  The Grand Wailea Resort and The Four Seasons front the beach and although this isn’t a private beach, the intimate and small space feels like it is and was very relaxing.

meg excited on beach

gals on beach in Wailea

fav pic of girls in Maui

J & J on Wailea beach

8.  Do an early morning yoga class on the beach.  It was as wonderful as it sounds and this was a great activity that I enjoyed with the tween girls….

yoga on beach

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