I’m Smitten With…Laguna Beach


We all have them – those nostalgic places we went to as kids. The vacations we took year after year. The traditions that flagged your family’s summer sojourn. We all have our own, which are as different as fingerprints molding our idea of fun and free time. The joy of taking time off. I certainly have my happy place, and that’s Laguna Beach California. Laguna is the third oldest city in Orange County. Mostly farmland in the early 1900s, by 1920 artists were seeping in between the hills and valleys and into this seaside sanctuary. A group of landscape painters who settled there laid the foundation for the art scene as it is today. A little bit hippy mixed with some serious money (I’m sure you’ve seen the reality show of the same name), the community is filled with all sorts. Although giant palatial homes beam down from the hilltops, they have yet to scare away the starving artists. It’s this symbiosis that makes for a truly magical place.

Every year since I was too young to even remember, my family had an August trip down to “Goonie Beach”. We stayed at a hotel right on the water, beginning my love affair with the ocean. I did everything I could to be as close to that blue scape as I could, even dragging my blankets out to the balcony so the waves could lull me to sleep. On the days we weren’t sunning, we went exploring in the shops, art galleries, and summer art festivals, like the Pageant of the Masters or the Sawdust Festival. The food is typical Californian with all levels of dining experience from a famous waterside Mexican seafood eatery, Las Brisas, to the taco stands complete with surfers in their wetsuits. On the days when the humidity and steamy sidewalks of NYC get me down I simply conjure up a cool Laguna breeze, some sand under my feet, a good fish taco, and pretend I can hear the ocean. 


5 Things I’m Smitten With 61

Justin’s Almond Butter
With my active lifestyle, I’m always on the go, so sometimes fortifying myself on my feet can be tricky. On the streets of NYC, where a pizza slice is a given, I find myself ferreting around for something wholesome to put in my belly. After much thought, I’ve conjured up my all-time favorite childhood snack, an apple with peanut butter, and gave it 2012 makeover. Thanks to Justin’s (who produces the most divine nut butters), my kiddie nibble is even more nutritious with 6-7 grams of protein per serving, free of gluten, dairy, and trans-fats, and is completely vegetarian, and kosher. Justin, is founder Justin Gold, who started his first batches of gourmet nut butters in his home kitchen with one food processor. Now, you can find his products at Whole Foods, Safeway, or Kroger. You can purchase the 16oz jars for at-home use but I prefer the 1.15oz squeeze packs. I snapped up every flavor, like classic almond, honey almond, maple almond, and chocolate almond, to throw in my bag with an apple. Now that’s something that’ll keep the doctor away!


Tumi Luggage
After Christmas shopping is almost as good as getting gifts under the tree. This year, my Mom and I headed downtown to SoHo to do some damage. We stumbled upon the Tumi store front and wandered in. I’ve always associated Tumi naturally, with luggage. That’s what they do and they do it well. With some of the lightest luggage, one of the first to do 360 degree swivel wheels, a tracer that helps locate lost luggage, and even a comprehensive warranty, they are simply the leader in suitcases- but did you know they also have the loveliest bags, wallets, and accessories? The day we went they were having a killer sale and I got THE best tote with loads of inner pockets for all my stuff (similar to this), a wallet that has more compartments than I can fill (and my last wallet was stuffed!!), and a key chain that has removable hooks and matches my bag. The sales people in the store went above and beyond with service, like sending me a brand new version of my wallet right to my door complete with free shipping. All of my goodies have warranties just like their iconic suitcases, so now I’m not just traveling in style but commuting in it as well.


Sally B’s Skin Yummies
Last edition I mentioned my infatuation with Kimberly Snyder. Besides her food wisdom Kim endorsed only one manufacture of the stuff that goes on after you wash your face, makeup. Sally B’s Skin Yummies is one of the few in the cosmetic industry that is truly organic, hand-crafted, non-toxic, and completely Paraben-free. I ordered Sally’s tinted moisturizer (it feels like smoothie for your skin), and her Get Even Finishing Powder which is a light mineral powder that blots out excess oil and evens out my skin tone. I’ve been using the two together daily and my skin looks flawless and without irritation. The organic nature of these products make my skin feel healthy and don’t irritate my breakouts. Now, a convert, I’m dying to place my next order and try some other products such as her B Glossy Lip Gloss, Herba-pads Underarm Deoderant, and her Natural Buff Cuticle Bar.


Comptoir Des Cotonniers
More Mother and daughter shopping ensued during the holidays, this included my first purchase from Comptoir des Cotonniers. Obviously French, this clothing label is just like a French woman, stylish, sophisticated, a la mode, and ephemeral. Not new on the scene, this brand has been trending since their inception in 1995. Notorious for using un-named models, Comptoir uses real mother/daughter combos for their advertisments- they even have a link to apply to model their digs on the site. Mom, interested in playing dress up? While the price points definitely reflect the luxury of this line, it is worth every penny! I snagged a pair of the most gorgeous high-waisted black cotton blend pants and a classy wool boucle jacket that’s perfect with an oversized scarf. They have pretty hefty sales so their goods can be found on the cheap-er. Bloomingdales has a mini-store version of their relaxed and intimate boutiques, which there are 5 of in NYC. Their spring line is equally to die for and is sporting white tuxedo jackets with hints of lemon. Le sigh….


The New Starbucks App
Well, the java kings have done it again with their newest innovation that enables you to get your coffee in under 10 seconds flat. The newest version of the Starbucks App spotlights the ability to pay for your beverage with your iphone! You can still do all the things you used to with on the previous version of their app like, reload your card, find the nearest Barrista, and track your stars in their rewards program. Just bring up the barcode on your phone, they scan it directly, and voila! You are seconds closer to getting caffeine in your veins. You can thank your local Starbucks.