California Trip Recap: Gamble Gardens, Carmel by the Sea & Family Time

Well, we made it to another Friday! That's SOMETHING, right?! ;) I've been meaning to recap my trip to California a couple weeks ago, but I didn't know if anyone would be interested now that we can't go anywhere. But yesterday I thought, why not?! They're mostly pictures of flowers and that brightens any day! Everything I went to CA for was cancelled, but I still got some great family time in. And I made it back to Michigan before things got really bad.

Remember that all these photos are taken BEFORE quarantine started.

On the first day of my trip my mom and I went to Stanford Shopping Center (again, it was still totally fine to be outside!) then we stopped at Gamble Gardens on the way home to consider it for my Grandma's 90th birthday party this July. It was gorgeous, just spilling over with flowers!

Look at these tulips! I'm hoping these are what mine will look like in my yard :)

The next morning was sunny and beautiful, so we took advantage and went to the Jesuit Retreat Center in Los Altos. It was one of the first few days of Lent and they have this beautiful nature walk set up that you walk through called The Stations of the Cross. While we're Christians, not Catholic, it's a beautiful way to observe Lent and remember what Christ did for us by going to the cross. This is the view from the top:

The next day we went to lunch with my grandma and these trees outside where we ate were just stunning! SPRING!!

We decided to go to Carmel for the day and this was really the turning point in the trip, as it relates to the virus. When we got home from our day there, the news was ramping up and everyone was being advised to stay at home. I'm so glad we got this day trip in, because it was the most gorgeous day I've ever experienced in Carmel by the Sea. I didn't know what to wear, so my mom let me wear this cute sweatshirt of hers ;)

We always make our way to Earth Bound Farm Stand in Carmel Valley for pastries and a coffee/tea. They have the cutest flower stand and gardens to walk through, as well as corn hole and some other fun dog and child-friendly activities!

These are tulips-- can you believe it?!

Earth Bound Farms also has a produce stand and these colors were just so vibrant, I had to snap a shot.

Got my iced tea in hand!

We also stopped at Carmel Valley Ranch for a quick peek. If it was sunny by the pool, we were going to stick our feet in, but it was really shaded. Their lobby is insanely gorgeous. This is the hotel my family and I stayed at the night before our wedding, so it's really special to me!

Back to the ocean! It was 70 degrees and it felt amazing coming from snowy, cold Michigan! Such a gorgeous day.

 If you're on this post for some Carmel recommendations, here are a bunch of things we love to do:

- Shop up and down Ocean Ave (they have a really cute Anthropologie tucked in the little shopping mall at the top of Ocean Ave). Tons of boutiques on this and surrounding streets.
- Go wine tasting in Carmel Valley 
- Visit Griggs Nursery in Carmel Valley (pics in my blog post. Just a cute little flower nursery!)
- Tons of tasting rooms through Carmel by the Sea off of Ocean Ave. I'll send some favorites, I'm asking my parents and will email when they get back to me. I don't remember all of them!
- Eat at Grazings or La Bicyclette for lunch, Demetra Cafe (SO GOOD and live music!), Hog's Breath or Mission Ranch (Clint Eastwood's restaurants), Il Fornaio in the Pine Inn, Casanova (a little fancier/more expensive), and get coffee at the Carmel Roasting Company (great pastries, too). The Tavern in Carmel Valley is also great for lunch and apps.
- Stop in the Cottage of Sweets for some cute candies on Ocean Ave. So charming.
- Tour the Carmel Mission
- Walk along the beach / watch the sunset.
- Drive or walk through the charming neighborhoods and gawk at the gorgeous homes! They're amazing. There's a walking path along the top of the beach where you'd walk along these houses and see the ocean at the same time.
- Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is gorgeous and just a short drive from the main downtown.
- You're close to Big Sur if you want to do any nature hikes/walks 


Another fun thing we did on this trip was we looked through some family albums and watched some home movies. Here's a gem for ya ;) I loved my dolls! My dad had me clean out some boxes of dolls and animals I was keeping for future kids/memories. He had me get the four boxes down to three, and I even managed to get it down to two boxes! I kept all my American Girl dolls, a couple barbies, some doll furniture and about 1/3 of my beanie baby collection ;)

Got some pretty ranunculus for my parent's living room, once we realized we would be spending a lot of time on the couch ;) My brother came over one night and we had dinner just the four of us (so special!) and watched a comedian on Netflix. I baked cookies and it was a really fun night.

One of the two main reasons why I went to California was for my Grandpa's 90th birthday party. My mom and aunts had worked hard on the party for months and we had over 40 people coming in from all over...Michigan, Arizona, Colorado and Boston just to name a few! He played in Major Leagues as a catcher (first draft pick of the NY Mets when they first started their team!) so the party's theme was, of course, baseball. Needless to say, the party got cancelled and I was the only one who was supposed to fly in who actually made it, because I came out early for another event that got cancelled as well.

Instead, we celebrated his birthday with a group of 8 of us at their house and my aunts brought some decorations to liven the dining room up. It ended up being a fun night, despite the setbacks! I loved listening to my grandpa tell some old baseball stories from back in the day! I even got some on video which is so special.

That was my trip! I was there for 13 days and mostly stayed home after day 5 of the trip, but was happy to be quarantined with my fam. 

Before you go, here are some awesome deals going on online:

- Anthropologie: 25% off home // 50% off sale
- Nordstrom: Spring up to 40% off Sale
- J. Crew: 40% off with code SHOPNOW
- J.Crew Factory: free ship with code YAYFREE and up to 70% off spring picks
- Loft: Keep it comfy sale! My favorite butter sweatpants are $30!!! Code: COMFY
- Caitlin Wilson Textiles: 15% friends and family sale
- Beautycounter: 10% off site-wide. (Be entered to win a fun lip product from me if you place the order in my Homebody Popup online party at check out!)

Hope you all have an enjoyable weekend....though every day is starting to feel like the weekend ;) Ha!


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