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Recently Read | Not to Miss Books

In an effort to not make every single post travel related I wanted to share a few recent reads. It's actually been a pretty slow month of reading for me, but I'm ending this post with one of my favorite reads of the year so far!! I'm wait listed for 9 books at the library and all of them are ones that I have been itching to read - so here's hoping people are quick readers because I need some new books!! I thought I would start this post with the one I was least excited reading & the other 4 were all great books. I also didn't keep track of how many books I read last year, but so far this year I'm up to 20 - hoping to read at least 75. Not really part of any challenges, but sort of doing it for myself. 
Books to read in 2017, reading guide, must read books
All The Missing Girls || After reading books like The Woman in Cabin 10 & The Couple Next Door I didn't think that All the Missing Girls lived up to the "thriller" genre as much. The book is told backwards from Day 15 back to Day 1 & the main character Nicollete is going back to her hometown to see her dad who is suffering from Alzheimer's. She turned her back on everyone from her past life when her best friend disappeared 10 years ago - the question remains is what happened to Corrine, the best friend, the same thing that just happened to her neighbor. Hence, why the book is called All The Missing Girls. I found the chapters a bit hard to follow and there were a lot of characters making appearances - not exactly the kind of book I was used to reading. It wasn't terrible, but of all the recent books it's not at the top of my list. 
The Hypnotist's Love Story || The kind of book that makes you go "huh, that's interesting" What do I mean by that? Well I'm not really sure whose side I was on while reading the book - it sort of went back and forth. Ellen is a hypnotist that falls in love with Patrick who has a rather interesting moment of truth with her and tells her that he has a stalker. The story that unfolds is interesting - you have the point of view of Ellen & the point of view of the stalker, Saiska (which I could not for the life of me pronounce in my head so I basically renamed her Sarah). This is not a thriller at all, it's a love story through and through - a quirky one, but I've learned that I either really like Liane Moriarty books or completely dislike it - this was in the like category. Not as good as Big Little Lies, but definitely up there! Also, I have a strong desire to go get hypnotized now! 

A Window Opens || After Alice's husband announces that he's up and quit his job to set out on his own and start his own law firm, she's pretty much forced into finding a job in the literary world that she loves so much. What she knows will be a balancing act - her kids, husband, job, babysitter, and parents all still need her and even though she feels like she is really doing it all - the question is at what cost. There were definitely sad moments in this book & while I don't have kids yet, I can certainly relate to Alice's plight to have it all and making everyone around her happy - she's a character that we can all relate to. I LOVED that this book had an epilogue - books that have epilogues make me feel like I've completed it - doesn't leave me hanging & I feel like I can move on from it! I thought it was an enjoyably read, but I did shed a few tears! 

My Not So Perfect Life || This book is perfect for the social media driven world we now live in. All Instagram feeds do is show us the part of people's lives that they want to show - pretty, filtered & styled. What it doesn't show is that some people don't shop at the stores that they simply "window shop" - they don't eat at the fancy restaurants, they just read the reviews & more than anything, that "perfect life" might not be so perfect. Katie Brenner finally has the job that she's always dreamed of & a boss that she idolizes, but is abruptly fired. Still keeping her "filtered" life positive she heads back home & helps her dad create an Instagram haven for Londoner's to visit on holiday - one of those vacationers happens to be her old boss. Only thing is Katie's parents have no idea that she's not on sabbatical and all of her "filtering" comes to ahead. As per usual, Sophia Kinsella does a fantastic job of keeping people's attention, keeping the book relevant & of course throwing in a little love story for good measure!  

Maybe Someday || I think I found my new favorite author, Colleen Hoover. She also wrote It Ends With Us, which I absolutely loved as well. Sydney & Ridge are neighbors - they have an interesting start to their friendship over music without so much as uttering one word to another. He's looking for inspiration and she happens to be a great lyricist. There is a dramatic twist in the 2nd or 3rd chapter and you are absolutely captivated by the story. What I love about the author's writing is how she develops the characters. You get to know them & feel for them. I devoured this book in two days - on a Friday night I found myself reading faster than ever to finish the last 100 pages because I needed to know how the book was going to turn out. If you liked / loved This Is Us  - I think you'll like this book as well. 
What have you recently read and loved?

Santa Barbara Travel Guide | What to see, do & eat

After a couple days in Los Angeles we made our way to Santa Barbara. The city itself is called the American Riviera & for good reason - this little slice of heaven is like a piece of Europe in America. We were both so incredibly taken aback by the beauty of Santa Barbara & can't wait to make our way back because two days was just not enough!
What to do in Santa Barbara, travel guide, jetsetting to santa barbara

Where to Stay ||

Santa Barbara Hotel, Hotel Milo, Beachfront Hotel
After doing a little research I stumbled upon an article from Lauren Conrad highlighting Hotel Milo as a great hotel for a trip to Santa Barbara. Situated right across from the beach, you are greeted by a friendly staff - hello complimentary happy hour from 4-6 pm every day, continental breakfast every morning, free wi-fi throughout the property & in your rooms & even fun bikes to take out for a day of exploring. 

Santa Barbara Hotel, Hotel Milo, Bikes to Ride
For those of you that might remember - before leaving for California I didn't know how to ride a bike properly - I'm happy to report that I now know how to ride a bike & can't wait for warmer weather in Boston!! 
Santa Barbara Hotel, Hotel Milo, King Suite, Beachfront Hotel

L'Occitane bath products - my hair never felt as silky as it did using their shampoo! 
We paid a touch extra to have parking included in our room rate which for the location was incredibly affordable. The best way to describe the hotel is coastal chic - when you're on a California vacation there is nothing better! 
Travel Guide for Santa Barabra, What to do in Santa Barabra

What to Do ||

Santa Barbara Mission, Things to do in Santa Barbara
Aside from the beach, there are a few "must see" attractions in Santa Barbara - particularly the Old Mission & the courthouse that gives you views of the entire city - from the ocean to the mountains!
Things to do in Santa Barbara, Views from the Santa Barbara court house

Butterfly Beach & the waterfront are not to be missed. 

Where to Eat ||

Lobster Bisque, Enterprise Fish Co.

Scallop Risotto

Enterprise Fish Co
Hands down one of my favorite meals during our entire trip was at Enterprise Fish Co. We had the best, trust me I am not exaggerating since this is what they are known for, lobster bisque I have ever eaten. They have two locations - the Santa Barbara one is the original & it was easy to hop on Open Table to get a reservation. We talked about our dinner here the entire trip - it's must stop! The scallop risotto was also equally delicious. 

Santa Barbara Fish House
If you're looking for a staple in the city, I'd say SBFH is the place to go. They have a great patio area with really nice views of the beach & if you time it right - you can be there during sunset & there is nothing quite as romantic as a sunset dinner. 

Great Pacific Ice Cream Co. 
Ice cream tends to be pretty delicious anywhere, but on a pier hearing the waves & seeing the sand is where I enjoy it most! 

Final Thoughts ||
Butterfly beach

We absolutely loved Santa Barbara and can't wait to go back. There were things that we didn't have enough time to do like the walking wine trail and exploring the vineyards around the area, but that just means we have to go back sooner rather than later! I know this was a rather long travel guide & I hope you enjoyed it! Next up...stops to make along the Pacific Coast Highway! 

Back from Vacation & Favorites!

Happy Friday friends!! I can't tell you how good it feels to be back home from almost 2 weeks away. Admittedly, I was hoping to get at least one more blog post up while I was away, but at the request of my husband to just relax, I did just that and shared A LOT of our vacation via InstaStories! I have so many travel guides coming up in different varieties, but before getting into them I did want to share a few of my favorite things that happen when you come home from a long vacation!! 

Weekending | Vacation Mode

Happy Monday friends! We are still enjoying California for the next few days & I'll be back to blogging on Friday with a fresh post! Until then - wishing you all a wonderful week ahead & here's a snap from our hot air balloon adventure yesterday!! 
Hope everyone had a great weekend!! Comments have been disabled for this post! 

A Day in Los Angeles | Travel Diary

Happy Friday friends! I wanted to get ahead of all the travel posts as much as possible and before I forgot all the details, so today I'm starting with our 36 hours in Los Angeles. Our flight got us into Los Angeles right around 3 pm - once you factor in picking up the car, navigating through the city & getting dinner -you're pretty much pooped from the time difference. Especially when you had a great weekend on the east coast. We did have a quick dinner with a friend of mine who was also in town with her husband celebrating their anniversary which was such a nice treat, but more on that later! 
What to do in Los angeles, LA, one day in LA, where to eat in LA, Bardonna