Belmond El Encanto : A Luxurious Santa Barbara Escape

Belmond El Encanto property view

Santa Barbara has long been called the American Riviera. With its subtropical temperatures and proximity to coast, it’s easy to see why everyone who visits is so enchanted with the location, especially when staying at the Belmond El Encanto. In Spanish, Encanto quite literally means “enchantment” or “glamour“. Nestled right in the neighborhood mountains, overlooking the dazzling waters of the Pacific Ocean the Belmond El Encanto is Santa Barbara’s only Forbes Five-Star resort. With a longstanding history of being a landmark for inspiration, relaxation, and romance, the property is steeped with tales of tranquil offerings to Hollywood elite and beyond. The Belmond El Encanto has hosted former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Golden age celebrities such as Clark Gable, Carol Lombard and Hedy Lamarr, and today has become the go-to destination for many celebrity artists. I’m honored to say I’ve now added my name to it’s guest list as well. It could be the perfect hideaway for your next luxury escape too.

Arriving at the Blemond El Encanto Kia Motors America

Luxury vehicles line the drive at the El Encanto (pictured here : Kia Optima, Cadenza, Stinger and K900)

As soon as you arrive on property the staff graciously anticipates your every request. As the porter escorted me to my bungalow, he shared the unique history of the resort with me. Everything here has meaning and was designed with thoughtfulness of the overall experience. I love learning interesting facts and special stories that are only told by those who know a property best. Curious about something? Just ask the staff, they are incredibly knowledgeable and always happy to share.

Belmond El Encanto bungalow exterior

Opening to guests for the first time in 1918, the property has exchanged hands a more than a few times in its history. Belmond reopened the hotel in March 2013 following an extensive seven-year, $134 million dollar meticulous renovation to bring back glamour, restore original architectural elements and updating with the modern luxe detailing that you experience today.

Rooms Made for Relaxation

Belmond el Encanto bungalow

92 luxuriously designed bungalows and suites are situated among acres of lush gardens and landscaping. In the air the scent of lavender and eucalyptus sweeps over you as you walk along the pathways to your reserved hideaway. There are two distinct styles of early Santa Barbara architecture present here – California Craftsman and Spanish Colonial Revival. Each bungalow interior is decorated with works of art reflecting the Santa Barbara landscape.  As a landmark property much of the architecture styling has remained the same but the interior comforts of plush beds, heated floors, wi-fi access, push button gas fireplaces, controlled lighting, private terraces, waterfall showers and over-sized tubs have not been overlooked. The cottages provide a more than accommodating space for master bedroom and living room space. The in-room welcoming of a fruit plate and bottle of wine was a lovely surprise.

Belmond El EnCanto Welcome

Gardens, Pool and Spa

El Encanto Belmond Lily pond

Courtesy of Belmond El Encanto

The gardens are as welcoming as the rooms themselves and you might find yourself torn between where to spend the majority of your time. Signs along the walkways subtly direct you to your chosen spot of interest: a historic 1928 wishing well, serene waterfall, or a historic lily pond perfectly positioned under a wisteria lined arbor. Any choice is a good choice here and all make the perfect backdrop for memorable photos you’ll treasure forever.(insider tip: the lily pond is home to an adorable family of turtles.)

El Encanto Belmond Santa Barbara Wishing Well

If the pool or spa are more your interest, you’ll be delighted at what you find. The zero-edge saline pool is positioned to look out over the ocean and city for a spectacular view. The full-service, on property spa offers an array of treatments over seven rooms including a couples room to relax and unwind together. The Spa also offers relaxation lounge, showers, steam rooms and private lockers.

El Encanto Belmond Santa Barbara pool

Courtsey of Belmond El Encanto

Be certain to take advantage of the complimentary sunglass cleaning and Evian cooling mist service before returning to your room. Ending the evening with glass of Californian wine in hand, watching the sun dip below the horizon, is the perfect way to remember this luxurious escape whether visiting for a solo retreat or relaxation with ones you love.

Enchantment at the Belmond El Encanto

To book your stay visit the Belmond El Encanto online or see more on instagram and twitter.

Address: 800 Alvarado Pl, Santa Barbara, CA 93103, United States
Phone: +1 805-845-5800

Disclosure: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation. My host for this stay was Kia Motors America as part of the Kia Santa Barbara Experience #KiaSBExp







Green Chef Delivers Organic Dinners to Your Doorstep

Life is busy. I don’t know anyone who isn’t looking for ways to simplify in order to have more time for the things they enjoy most. Last month, I partnered with Green Chef to delegate my meal planning (and shopping!) responsibilities to give me more time and simplify one more area of our lives.

Want to try Green Chef for yourself? New customers get $50 off their first box.

green chef

Handing over the reigns on what’s in the fridge can be a little intimidating. We have a couple of vegetarians, a couple of omnivores, and of course a few general preferences I have to be aware of when shopping and meal planning normally. None of that was an issue with Green Chef. They have a variety of organic meal plan preferences you can choose from. Vegan? Paleo? No Problem.

Once you pick your preferences, Green Chef sends fresh, premeasured, organic ingredients right to your doorstep. The delivery dated are flexible and there is no commitment. You can skip weeks whenever you want. The meals arrive in insulated, eco-friendly, refrigerated boxes. There is no need to be home when it arrives.

Green Chef OrganicGreen Chef Poultry

The meals they deliver are certified organic. That means no GMOs, no synthetic pesticides and no growth hormones or antibiotics. Green Chef puts an emphasis on using seasonal ingredients and sustainable suppliers, including small family farms. Knowing where the food is sourced from and supporting these growers and farms gives me a good feeling as well. You can check out all the Green Chef suppliers here.

Green Chef Menu

Ultimately, what makes this service work is the timesaving element paired with the taste and ease of cooking.  Each box includes a very easy to follow recipe card and cooking instructions with step by step pictures. I could leave this for my family and feel totally confident that they could make it with out me there. I may just order this for them to be delivered when I leave on my next travel trip.

Green Chef directions

On the average of 30 minutes, you will have a all-organic delicious meal ready to serve in about the same time it takes most people to decide on what to order off the take out menu. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you. Our family favorite was a veggie quesadilla recipe made with whole-wheat tortillas filled with Monterey Jack cheese, plus red bell pepper, pinto bans, and corn seasoned with a paprika-cumin spice blend. The side was a simple but flavorful lime-dressed slaw and cilantro-scallion rice.

Green Chef Veggie Quesadillas

My experience with Green Chef was extremely positive and the chef created dishes were very tasty. I was able to utilize more of my mental energy those weeks on projects and not meal planning. I will definitely be utilizing the Green Chef service again soon!

Want to try Green Chef for yourself? New customers get $50 off their first box!

Team Us: Marriage Together – Book Review & Giveaway!!

Product disclosure
“If I get married, I want to be very married” – Audrey Hepburn


12+ years ago I married my best friend. I can honestly say almost every day of those 12 years has all been wedded bliss. Do we have it all figured out? Umm, no. We have just always decided that we are on the same team. Even when we disagree, our goal is to do life together. It’s not you or me, we are fighting for “us” and we make decisions based on what is best for us together.

Another key to all of this is investing our time into our marriage. Just like a car or home, a marriage requires upkeep and maintenance. It would be silly for someone to purchase a car and never check the oil, purchase new tires, or take time for a tune up. The same is true for keeping your marriage in good working order, especially if you want it to last ( hopefully longer than your car!). Taking time to read the manual can help you know what to do when a warning light comes on.

Recently, I was sent a copy of Team Us: Marriage Together. I find that we study the things that are most important to us. My marriage is the most valuable thing in my life and I want to take care of it that way- I certainly want it to last longer than my car! lol.  This book offers couples practical ways to cultivate and strengthen unity in their marriages. The author, Ashleigh Slater, shares from her own marriage as she presents couples with realistic ideas on how to foster cooperation, deepen commitment, and exercise grace on a daily basis.


If you are looking for a book to strengthen your marriage, I highly recommend checking this one out with your husband or wife. Maybe try one of you reading a chapter and handing it off for the other. It’s not terribly long (176 pages) but will give you both an opportunity to focus in together. At the end of each chapter are questions that spouses can use for talking points and “us time”.  It got me to thinking…as moms we talk a lot about not getting enough “me time” but are we making “us time” a priority?

Giveaway Time!!! Team Us: Marriage Together Book Giveaway

I’m giving away a copy to one lucky reader! Just Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the book trailer HERE & hear from Ashleigh Slater HERE.
Check out Ashleigh’s blog HERE
Check out the official website HERE (you can read an excerpt here to see if you’d like it!)
Many Thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing the prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners are 100% my own and not influenced by monetary compensation. Samples were provided for the purposes of this review. 

Hearts of AttrAction R&R Games #Review

Having a larger family, we enjoy planning family game nights a few times a month. There are enough of us that we are pretty much always our own party. It gives everyone a purposeful way to interact together and we always end up with a room full of laughter. We also have more teenagers over than ever before and they are loving all the games we are introducing them to. We were fortunate to be introduced to R& R games and to help keep our game nights going they sent us two great games to review, Hearts of Attraction and Strike A Pose. These games have turned out to be two of the most requested games at game night!

Hearts of Attraction R& R Games

hearts of attraction r&r games

About the Game:

Hearts of AttrAction is the fun version of the original AttrAction game where skill, strategy and a little bit of luck results in a chain reaction of magnetic proportions!

The heart shaped magnets react differently from the original magnets creating new patterns of play for this popular game. Hearts of AttrAction is fun to play with anyone, anytime, anywhere! So get ready to prove just how irresistible you are. Cupid’s got nothing on you!

(Ages 14+ • 2 to 5 players • Playing time 10 minutes CONTENTS: 25 Heart shaped magnets, Red velvet bag)

Hearts of AttrAction Collage

I really thought the teenagers would think I was trying to get them to play a dating game because of the title but they were open to it and we soon found out it was nothing like a dating game at all! Hearts of AttrAction is a game that is easy to catch on to playing and everyone loved. It moves at a quick pace and the rules are relatively simple. Each player gets heart shaped magnet and when its your turn to toss yours on the table its a game to see how (or even if!) your heart will attract other magnets on the table.  The person with the most hearts at the end wins. We always end up playing several rounds of this game. Even our 8 and 10 yr olds are able to play!

Since we have started playing this game we’ve had a few teens invite their parents inside to play with us in hopes their parents will get the same game for their house too. What usually happens is they end up staying for several rounds because it is so much fun. It really has been so great to share something we enjoy and see other families come together as well.  This is one game I would recommend for any family or gathering!

We were also able to have fun with another R&R game, Strike a Pose (you will see more of the fun we had with that game in a future post). Be sure to check out the latest games, updates and news from R&R Games on their website, Facebook, and Twitter.



*I received product for the purposes of this review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

The Amazing Wubble Bubble Ball Review

the amazing wubble ball

The amazing Wubble Bubble Ball “looks like a bubble, plays like a ball”. After originally being introduced to the amazing Wubble Bubble Ball this summer in NY while attending BloggerBash, I couldn’t wait to get one in the hands of our kids! It’s an amazing ball that inflates up to 3 feet, made from some super-thermo-stretch-tacular stuff. It will start out small and 2 minutes later, it’s 3 feet tall.  You can catch it, kick it, squeeze it and make it fly. It really is pretty amazing. Our kids had already seen the As Seen on TV commercials and were over the moon excited when we were sent a Wubble of our very own for our review!

wubble ball width

I had watched a few videos online and knew ahead of time that inflation could be tricky due to the self sealing valve. If you have any trouble inflating your Wubble ball, you may find this video about “How to Inflate a Wubble Ball” helpful. In fact, I recommend watching it first.

While inflation WAS the most difficult part of the process, it was worth the wait when we got to play. WE HAD A BLAST with the WUBBLE!! ( Wubble Ball inflation hack: Our batteries in the pump were a little weak so we used the pump from our air mattress and that worked beautifully.) 

Wubble Bubble Ball

wubble ball throw

kicking the wubble ballWhen you love something you have to share it right? Our kids were so excited about it that within minutes of trying it themselves,  they ran out the door, heading out to see if our neighbors friends wanted to play too. It was a a movie moment to see all the kids ( and adults) having so much fun with the Wubble.

Here is a video of the fun we had:

One thing to note Wubble Ball’s are not indestructible, but they have a lifetime replacement guarantee. It costs $6.99 to replace a Wubble under the guarantee. After several hits into sharp tree branches we got a tiny hole in ours. The kids continued to play with it for another 20 minutes until it deflated on its own. I noticed in the instructions later I could have placed a piece of duct tape on it. If I had known we were going to be playing with it outside so much I would have inflated it a little less for more strength.

wubble ball logo

Wubble has won numerous toy awards, including an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Best Toy Award, a National Parenting Center Seal of Approval, a Mr. Dad Approved Award, a Parent’s Choice Award and the Dr. Toy Best 100 Picks Award and more! Wubble Ball is available at Target, Toys R Us and online at To see more check out Wubble Ball on Twitter and Facebook.

We are getting a few of these  for Christmas presents. Who do you know that would love a Wubble Bubble Ball ?

I received a sample of this product to facilitate my review, but my opinions are entirely my own.