Our California Road Trip

Guys. WE WENT TO CALIFORNIA.

Matt and I both wanted to go back to America after loving our honeymoon in Las Vegas so we decided to do a road trip last summer. I had my heart set on going to Yosemite National Park and seeing Big Sur and Matt was pretty happy to go along with whatever I wanted so I started researching everything California.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Alcatraz, San Francisco
AT&T Park, SF Giants baseball, San Francisco
We initially planned to go to Utah via Las Vegas to see both Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks but Matt told me that he wanted to see LA, so a couple of months before we left I had to do some rearranging of itineraries (thanks for that, darling husband!) and cancelling and booking new places to stay. Looking back, I do think switching to LA was a better use of our time as it cut down on a lot of driving hours, and Santa Monica was one of the highlights of our trip.
Southside Drive, Yosemite National Park
Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite National Park
Yosemite Valley from Tioga Road, Yosemite National Park
Tioga Road, Yosemite National Park
Main Street, Lone Pine

So, we spent two weeks driving along the West coast of the USA and we had the most amazing time. Here’s what we did…

Our California Itinerary

  • Day 1: Fly to San Francisco
  • Day 2: San Francisco: Alacatraz & SF Giants baseball game
  • Day 3: Drive to Yosemite National Park via Mariposa
  • Day 4: Yosemite National Park: Yosemite Falls, Mist Trail & Tunnel View
  • Day 5: Yosemite National Park: Mirror Lake, Bridalveil Fall & Glacier Point
  • Day 6: Tioga Road & Lee Vining - Lone Pine
Hollywood sign viewed from Lake Hollywood Park, LA
Santa Monica beach & Pacific Park pier, LA
State Street, Santa Barbara
  • Day 7: LA: Hollywood sign & Santa Monica
  • Day 8: Santa Monica
  • Day 9: Venice beach - Ventura - Santa Barbara
  • Day 10: Santa Barbara
  • Day 11: Pacific Grove
  • Day 12: Highway 1 & Big Sur
  • Day 13: Monterey & whale watching
  • Day 14: San Francisco
  • Day 15: Fly home 🙁
Monterey Canning Co., Monterey
Point Lobos State Reserve
Bixby Bridge, Big Sur
McWay Falls, Big Sur
Carmel City Beach, Carmel by the Sea
Humpback whale tail seen on whale watching trip with Monterey Bay Whale Watch

As you can see, we went to quite a few places! No two places were the same, and it’s impossible to pick our favourite part of the trip. We have some wonderful memories that we’ll keep with us forever, it really was the trip of my dreams ♥ I’ve got a ton of posts to write, as I can’t possibly do the trip justice in one post. I’ll be posting them in the California Road Trip tag if you want to read more!

My Top 7 of 2018

I wasn’t sure if I should do this tag as I didn’t actually post any blog posts during 2018, but Lauren suggested doing my favourite 7 Instagram posts instead, so here we are 🙂

Your favourite 7 posts from 2018

I left my heart in San Francisco… Oh San Francisco, what a wonderful welcome to California you were. We flew into San Francisco and spent the first two and last nights of our two week road trip there. We visited Alcatraz, drove over the Golden Gate bridge, watched the seals at Pier 39 and saw the SF Giants play at the AT&T Stadium. It was also where we experienced In-N-Out for the first time… try the animal fries!

I love a wedding, and what better way to enjoy Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding than with a little afternoon tea? Ok, so I bought the cakes and sweet treats, but I did make a ton of finger sandwiches to go with them which we all enjoyed! If you like the idea of creating your own afternoon tea, you may be interested in some of my upcoming posts 😉

My Mickey Waffles candle was one of my favourite Christmas gifts in 2017; my sister got it for me from the Maple & Whisky Candle Co. It smells amazing, just like vanilla waffles and sweet sugary syrup – I love a scented candle, but a Disney inspired scented candle?! Heaven.

I posted these 10 photos on my 5th wedding anniversary; there is a picture of me and Matt for each year we have been together and I really love seeing how we’ve changed and grown ❤

Some pictures here from our friend’s wedding in Dublin… Told you I love a wedding! It was a really nice wedding, and we loved the atmosphere in the pub the evening before the wedding. Listening to awesome live music with good company, and the most delicious (and expensive!) cocktail I’ve ever had.

Matt is not hugely bothered about celebrating his birthday, so we decided to pop to our local Nando’s for some chicken. They had some new things on the menu since the last time we went; Matt loved the Fino pitta and we also got halloumi sticks with chilli jam (OMG) and the Mediterranean salad to share. We both agreed that we need to do more of these kind of dates rather than just sitting in watching TV. Must make more effort!

My California Road Trip Highlights via Instagram

Finally, I couldn’t not include the insta stories I posted from our California trip. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it was. I’m planning on writing an absolute ton of posts about it with all the photos. I like looking back at these little snippets and remembering. I ❤ CALIFORNIA.

7 things you loved the most about 2018

  1. Our California road trip. California will forever hold a special place in our hearts and minds, and I’m so glad we went on that trip.
  2. My little niece Wren was born in April.
  3. I left my old job and got a much needed fresh start and made some hilarious new work pals.
  4. Finally feeling good from a mental health point of view after struggling for too long.
  5. The Greatest Showman. What a movie, what a soundtrack! Love love loved it.
  6. Buying my new computer. Photo editing has been so, so much easier on a big screen.
  7. Our weekend break outlet village shopping… bought ourselves some nice little treats.

7 things you are looking forward to in 2019

  1. My birthday! I love my birthday. I always try and get a week off work and spend that week doing things that make me happy. This year, we’re going to London, yay! We’re staying a couple of nights and seeing Wicked and doing some touristy things.
  2. Planning some trips away with Matt… where to go?!
  3. New TV and movies… Stranger Things and The Lion King are top of my list.
  4. Blogging more.
  5. Reading allllll the books!
  6. Figuring out how I can start to earn money in my free time.
  7. Decluttering my home.

Tag 7 bloggers to take part & thank the person who tagged you

  1. Angela at Paper Lovestory
  2. Corrie at Dizzybrunette
  3. Fee at Makeup Savvy
  4. Elizabeth at Ice Cream Whispers Clara
  5. Charlotte at The Tea Drinking English Rose
  6. Michelle at Daisybutter
  7. Becky at Milk Bubble Tea

And finally, Lauren my lovely pal who blogs at Scrapbook Blog tagged me. Thank you Lauren!

The 2019 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

In 2017, I started the POPSUGAR reading challenge as I’d lost my way with reading and wanted to see if taking part in a challenge would help me get back my love of reading. I started off well, but only managed to read 10 of the 40 books I’d chosen to go with the prompts.

Looking back, I think I was too restrictive in trying to choose all 40 books right at the beginning. This year I’m going to try and choose books that I want to read and see if they fit into a category rather than trying to find all 40 books ahead of time. Having said that, being the control freak I am, there are still a few books I’ve already picked out 🙂

I’ve already started the challenge as this weekend I finished reading A Winter Beneath the Stars by Jo Thomas which being set in Sweden fits in with A book set in Scandinavia. And about 2am this morning(!) I finished Without Merit by Colleen Hoover, which is A book about a family. I really enjoyed them both!

I’ve also got A book based on a true story covered as I have Matt’s copy of The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris to read. My pal Lauren over at Scrapbook Blog said this was one of her favourite reads of last year; I read the first few pages and I was like, OK, this looks good!

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt has been on my Kindle since 2014, and I’ve just never got round to reading it. It’s my choice for A book becoming a movie in 2019.

I’ve wanted to read When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi for a while now, and as it was published after his death, this will be A book published posthumously.

Save the Date by Morgan Matson was an easy pick because I’ve read all of Morgan’s other books and so I knew I had to get this one in there. This will be A book that includes a wedding.

Finally, A book with at least one million ratings on Goodreads is one I chose from this list here; I went with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank as I picked up a copy of it when I visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam but have sadly never got round to reading the whole thing.

As for the other 34 books… Who knows?! I’ll be posting regular updates on my progress both here and via My Goodreads page – feel free to add me as a friend over there 🙂 I may also be popping up the books I’m reading on my Insta stories if that’s more your thing – I’m @zoebeeuk there, and I’ll be tagging social media posts with #popsugarreadingchallenge. One last thing: I’ve only chosen to do the core 40 books so I’ve not included the advanced prompts in the lists below.

The 2019 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

  1. A book becoming a movie in 2019
  2. A book that makes you nostalgic
  3. A book written by a musician (fiction or nonfiction)
  4. A book you think should be turned into a movie
  5. A book with at least one million ratings on Goodreads
  6. A book with a plant in the title or on the cover
  7. A reread of a favourite book
  8. A book about a hobby
  9. A book you meant to read in 2018
  10. A book with POP, SUGAR, or CHALLENGE in the title
  11. A book with an item of clothing or accessory on the cover
  12. A book inspired by myth/legend/folklore
  13. A book published posthumously
  14. A book you see someone reading on TV or in a movie
  15. A retelling of a classic
  16. A book with a question in the title
  17. A book set on college or university campus
  18. A book about someone with a superpower
  19. A book told from multiple POVs
  20. A book set in space
  21. A book by two female authors
  22. A book with SALTY, SWEET, BITTER, or SPICY in the title
  23. A book set in Scandinavia A Winter Beneath the Stars by Jo Thomas ✓ 6-1-2019
  24. A book that takes place in a single day
  25. A debut novel
  26. A book that’s published in 2019
  27. A book featuring an extinct or imaginary creature
  28. A book recommended by a celebrity you admire
  29. A book with LOVE in the title
  30. A book featuring an amateur detective
  31. A book about a family Without Merit by Colleen Hoover ✓ 8-1-19
  32. A book author from Asia, Africa, or South America
  33. A book with a zodiac sign or astrology term in title
  34. A book that includes a wedding
  35. A book by an author whose first and last names start with the same letter
  36. A ghost story
  37. A book with a two-word title
  38. A novel based on a true story The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
  39. A book revolving around a puzzle or game
  40. Your favourite prompt from a past POPSUGAR Reading challenge

Guided Journalling for Mental Wellbeing

I’ve always liked the idea of journalling and writing my thoughts down, and blogging was always my favourite way to do that. 2018 was the year I didn’t publish a single blog post, but it was also the year I got into journalling to help with my mental health, and a lot of the things I wrote down in the last 12 months are not things I felt comfortable to share on the internet.

I’d highly recommend journalling if you are struggling with things in your life, even if it just gives you the nudge to get some extra support to get through whatever life is throwing at you. Guided journalling is great as you are given prompts and ideas of what to write about.

There are so, so many options out there though, so which journal to choose?! I’ve got three journals to share with you that I’d highly recommend to anyone starting out with guided journalling.

Happy: The Journal

Happy: The Journal by Fearne Cotton is the companion to Fearne’s book Happy: Finding joy in every day and letting go of perfect. I picked it up on a whim at the end of 2017, and the idea of letting go of perfect was exactly what I needed at the time. I started using it in earnest on 1st January 2018, and it really helped me let go of some of the things that were making me unhappy. Happy: The Journal is presented as a daily journal, with each day containing a little snippet of writing, often with prompts or little tasks to help you get out of your comfort zone and try to figure out who you are. Then there is a space for you to write, whether this be the response to the prompts or your daily thoughts or journalling, it’s your choice. Full review post coming soon 🙂

This is for You: A Creative Toolkit for Better Self Care

I was offered a copy of This is for You: A Creative Toolkit for Better Self Care by Ellen Bard for review, and as I’d enjoyed using Happy: The Journal, I gladly accepted. The email arrived in my inbox at a time when I was working 7 day weeks in my new job and I wasn’t doing a great job of looking after myself, so a book to help with better self care sounded great. This is for You is written by Ellen Bard who is a psychologist with 17 years of experience, and the 100 exercises contained in the book are science and evidence based. In other words… they work! Unlike Happy: The Journal, This is for You is not set up as a daily journal, but more a toolkit of practical exercises to help us reframe our priorities and take better care of ourselves. This is for You is perfect to dip into as and when you have a few minutes rather than feeling like you have to commit to daily journalling. Full review post coming soon 🙂

Mindful Journaling

Lastly, just a quick mention of Mindful Journaling by Tara Ward – this is a little book I picked up for super cheap (about £3) in my local B&M store. This is like a hybrid of Happy: The Journal and This is for You, in that it contains journalling prompts but is again not a daily journal. I admit, I was drawn to the little dolphin on the cover, but popped it straight into my basket after flipping through it. The prompts in this one are much more in depth than in Happy: The Journal, and the book really focuses on mindfulness and being in the moment. Full review post coming soon 🙂
DISCLAIMER: A copy of This is for You was sent to me for review purposes.