Hometown Hidden Gems

I was asked by Relay Rides to create a post of hometown hidden gems and for the last year I called Santa Monica, California home. Lucky me, because Santa Monica is a gorgeous beach town. Here are my favorite local spots to eat and drink. Be sure to check them out and I’d love to hear your favorite Santa Monica eateries.

Pono Burger 

Is an adorable little hut that is located on Broadway and 9th Street. They use organic farm fresh ingredients. If you go, I highly recommend you order a milk shake. My favorite is the strawberry one. Here is their menu. 




Swingers is down the block from Pono Burger. It’s a great little diner that is open until 2 and 3 am. They have a huge menu. My favorite thing on the menu is their Edwin’s pasta which is farfalle pasta with 2 organic scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, and parmesan cheese. It’s simple but oh so good. My boyfriend also orders the California omelet which has alfalfa sprouts, avocado, bacon, 3 organic eggs,  and jack cheese. They also have fun cupcake flavors.


Shop House



Shop House Kitchen is the Asian version of Chipotle; it is the same company. You start with noodles, rice, or salad. Then you add a meat or tofu. Then vegetables, curry based sauce, and garnishes. You can also ask for samples if you feel overwhelmed. It is really, really good, you HAVE to try it! My boyfriend and I have spent more nights than I can count here. It’s also 3 blocks from Palisades Park which is a great place to catch the sunset.

Palisades Park in Santa Monica

The Funnel Mill 

is a fancy coffee and tea shop that is on the same street as Pono Burger and Swingers. My boyfriend’s favorite drink is the iced dark chocolate truffle coffee. It’s a bit pricey but he will tell you it’s well worth it.

Cafe Crepes 


Cafe Crepes is located on 3rd Street and Broadway. It’s at the end of the 3rd Street Promenade shopping area, and at the start of the Santa Monica mall. There is both indoor and outdoor seating. I always love sitting outside under the umbrellas.

Every time my boyfriend and I go here we get the same thing. We get the breakfast special of 3 eggs (scrambled), sausage, and cinnamon sugar crepes, which costs $10. Check out the menu for yourself. It’s a great place for brunch.

Relay Rides 


I was introduced to Relay Rides through an email. It’s a peer to peer rental car service that is available at airports along with other rental car companies. You can rent a car by day or on a weekly basis. You can even rent out your own car and decide who gets it and when.

So if you’re in Santa Monica or other awesome cities and looking to rent a car, check them out for more details!

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Just Who Will You Be? by Maria Shriver


“Just Who Will You Be?” by Maria Shriver is the third book of hers that I read. This is another quick read at only 91 pages. This book, like the other two were inspired from a speech she gave at a graduation.

She pushes the message of not what you do but who you are as a person. She wants people to focus on who they are based on their beliefs, and principals.

“You know, many years ago, my father gave a college graduation speech where he told the students, “Allow me to challenge you not to think so much about what you will do or where you will go. Allow me to challenge you to think about ..what you believe.”

I think this is such an important point that she is making. Because young people today are obsessed with social media, fame, having status, being rich, and material things. And I agree with Maria and her father Sargent Shriver, who pushed the message of being a strong person with good morals and values because that is the stuff that matters.

“I’ve finally learned after all these years that I don’t need to define myself with a certain job or a certain name or a certain role in order to tell myself who I am. I’ve learned that all my roles are simply a part of me- but they’re not all of me.”


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Lily Aldridge

Lily Aldridge is a model most known from Victoria’s Secret and Sports Illustrated. She is married to Kings of Leon rocker Caleb Followill. She wears tight silhouettes and always looks polished. She also wears minimal jewelry and lets her clothes shine.


<> on February 11, 2014 in Brentwood, California.




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Interview Series – Featuring Shay from Mix and Match Family

Last week I started a new Interview Series and featured one of my good friends and her new living small adventure called Tiny House Tiny FootPrint, be sure to check out that interview if you haven’t already.
 DATE- 01 JANUARY 3000
When I had the idea to start this series I made a list of my friends and bloggers I knew I want to interview. Shay Shull from Mix and Match Family was at the top of my list. If you don’t already know, she’s kind of a big deal so you can imagine how surprised and thrilled I was when she agreed to my interview request.
I am a huge fan of hers and her blog about her adorable, sweet family; I read it everyday. She has been  married to her husband Andrew for 10 years, has a 6 year old daughter Kensington, a 4 year old son Smith, and is adopting a little girl, Ashby London. She is also the sister of Sean Low from the Bachelor. In her blog she talks about her family, shares her style secrets, blogs her recipes, and travels around the world.
The Bachelor
Alex Andares-2
I was surprised by pretty much all of it.  I had no idea what I was signing him up for.  It’s truly amazing that my one application affected his life the way it did.
 Alex Andares
 From time to time, yes.
The Bachelor-3Alex Andares-3
I have a degree in Journalism and have always loved writing, so I took my passion and put it in a blog.
September Goals
 Alex Andares-4
Yes, all the time!  I really love blogging because I will always be able to go back and revisit this time in my life, so I’m so grateful that I’ve done it for so long, but yes, sometimes, I have reservations.
 Alex Andares
Getting to meet so many wonderful women just like me!  It’s truly a community!
The Bachelor
300Mix and Match Andrew and Shay
Alex Andares We are really on the same page.  We have the exact same core values and beliefs, so we rarely ever disagree about parenting.
Alex Andares-2
That to love Jesus is the most important thing in the world.  Everything else pales in comparison.
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 Alex Andares
I do think my infertility plays a part in my gratitude for being a mom.  I also am very much a “glass half full” kind of person and feel like every day on earth is a blessing (and could always be our last), so we should make the most of it.
 Alex Andares
Get over it.  You just have to get over it and move on.
Collage 9
 Alex Andares
The hardest parts for me is letting go of control.  I am sending these kids out into the world where they will be influenced by so many other people and that is hard.  The most rewarding part is the love I feel for them.  I never knew this kind of love was possible.
 Alex Andares
The hardest part is knowing she’s there and we’re here.
(If you want to read Shay’s touching story about the adoption, be sure to go here and Andrew’s side here)
 Alex Andares-2
All of our kids have British names and Ashby is a common British surname.
 Alex Andares
I think everything will change…and that excites me.
 DSC_7062The Bachelor
Day 1 London 032
Alex Andares
My parents (especially my dad) always taught me to appreciate the world and to experience it all.
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Finland.  I love Finland.
 Alex Andares
Germany.  Without a doubt, I absolutely love German food.
Alex Andares-2
They realize that the world exists outside of their little city.  They know what it’s like to hear different languages and see different ways of life.  It’s an education like no other.  It’s also taught them a tremendous amount of patience.
The Bachelor
Alex Andares
Enjoy the little things…one day, the little things will be remembered as the greatest things.
 Alex Andares
That I love Jesus.  That I followed His will for my life and lived for him.  After that, I want to be remembered as someone who loved her husband and kids with her whole heart.
Alex Andares (Other than my family…because that would take up all five spots!)
1. Candles
2. Coffee
3. Something to read
4. Some place cozy to sit
5. Fuzzy socks
I love Starbucks
You can follow Shay on: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
It’s easy to see why Shay is so popular in the blogging world, she’s gorgeous, down to earth, loves her family, fashion, cooking, and traveling.
I can’t thank her enough for participating in my new Interview Series!!
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What Do You Want to Do Before You Die? by the Buried Life


This book, “What Do You Want to Do Before You Die?” is SO inspiring! I watched the show when it was on MTV and I LOVED IT! Those boys are so much fun, seem really sweet, and are all adorable.

This book tells the story of how they started as a group, where they were in their lives, and how they got their name.   They started out feeling lost and wanted something more. So together they came up with a list of things they wanted to accomplish. So they set out on the road in an RV, one thing lead to another, and people wanted to help them everywhere they went. They started a movement with their dreams.

I’ve cried more than once watching their show (which aired in 2010 and 2011 on MTV.) In addition to cross items off their list, they pay it forward and they help people they meet, to achieve one of their goals.


This book is a compilation from thousands of answers to the question, “What do you want to do before you die?” that the boys gave to their favorite artists to interpret the drawings. This book also has the fun stories behind how the boys crossed off certain items off of their lists along with pictures and the dates they occurred.

Like this one, which was #95 on their list, Play Ball With the President, and it took them 2 years to accomplish.


“Death has an interesting way of simplifying life. Fears, worries, and pride seem to fall away. You get more courageous and more honest when you’re reminded that you’re going to die soon. It’s that clarity and honesty that helps you decide what you want to do with your life.”

There are a variety of serious and fun items in this book such as:

  • Before I die I want to meet the surgeons who repaired my heart when I was 4 and thank them…I now have a beautiful 11 year old girl because of them
  • I want to swim in jello
  • I want to apologize to three people I feel that I have hurt the most in life, say thank you to three people who helped me the most in life, and reconnect with three people I thought I would never see again
  • I want to take a year and grow everything I eat
  • I want to not be scared to let myself fall head over heels in love again

I just adore these boys and their spirit! They prove that you really can make your dreams come true. They show you to not be afraid and go after what you want. A trip that was originally was supposed to only be two weeks turned into 7 years for them. They are so admirable and I love the message they are sending to people of all ages. Life is short, grab opportunities while you can, and life your life to the fullest!!



You can follow them and their amazing journey on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Sandra Bullock

I love me some Sandra Bullock. She seems so down to earth and cool. She knows how to laugh at herself and doesn’t talk herself too seriously. I am a sucker for rom coms and the movies she does. She also knows how to rock a ball gown like it’s no one’s business.







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