California “Golden Poppy”Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass

I have a new mission. I’m not sure how long it will take, or how much planning it will require- but our family is going to visit every state park on the list.

California’s State Park System is the largest in the country, offering some of the world’s most varied natural wonders. No matter where you are headed, there are exciting activities to choose from. We hope you enjoy your upcoming visits and that your adventures help you “Discover the many states of California.”

There are 112 beautiful California destinations on the list. I plan on documenting the journey with a Blurb book, this way I can print one book for each kid to have as a keepsake.

So follow along while I take the kids on “112 California Adventures”.

#1 California Poppy Adventure: Point Lobos State National Reserve

Carmel-by-the-sea, Monterey County

Sunday February 7, 2021 (Super Bowl)

53 minute one-way drive time.

Arrival: 9am

Departure: 11am

We decided to visit this beautiful reserve because a friend suggested it. Growing up in California, I never would have imagined that I was missing out on this majestic place that is less than an hour from my home.

Think little alcoves with crystal clear water and stunning views. Mother nature out did herself with the decoration of succulents on the rocks, scattered amongst the cliffs.

We left the house at 8am and pulled in around 9am. We drove to the furthest parking lot to take the China Cove walk. We had to pick the stroller up on some parts, but it was nothing too crazy. We were not able to bring the stroller to the beach, so we parked it at the top of the stairs. I have never been on such a steep and narrow staircase. The beach had beautiful white sand and tall rock structures. We poked around a bit and when back to the trails for the last thirty minutes.

If I were visiting the ocean for the first time, this would be the place to experience it. So serene and so beautiful.

It was the perfect inaugural adventure.

Coffee in the foggy mountains… a playlist

I made a playlist that encompasses songs that embrace the slower moments at The Juju Paradise.

The Airbnbers here on the property are looking for an escape. I often take for granted the beautiful sunrise views, the fog swept between the redwood trees, the sour bite of a lemon picked right off the tree.

So embrace oat milk lattes in the mountains. This playlist is for you. Listen now 🙂

LA in a day

This was written for a guide for my little sister and her friend to travel to Los Angeles for the first time and explore as many places as possible- a completely epic one day trip. She plans on returning in another month to explore the places she loved for a longer period of time.

No joke this itinerary is going to be exhausting, but totally worth it.

You can download the itinerary below for use as a guide (costs, Uber surges, estimated drive times, traffic, and the like can change and are out of our control). I cannot verify the information, please travel at your own risk.



*This trip is meant to accompany the Spirit Airlines DFW-LAX flight arriving in LAX at 8:30am and leaving LAX at 8:15pm. This flight can be purchased at a Spirit Airlines counter for approximately $82.40 round trip per person.

Please click here to read my post about booking your flight with Spirit to accompany this trip.

This trip includes seven Los Angeles locations without the use of a rental car. Travel time is based on Google estimates for normal traffic at the time of travel and estimated arrival is based on the maximum time estimated traveling with Uber.

Download the itinerary at the bottom of the page. 


  • The Original Farmers Market LA
  • The Grove
  • TCL Chinese Theatre Courtyard
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame
    • Hollywood Blvd. Street Performers
  • Griffith Park Observatory
    • Hollywood Sign
  • Santa Monica Pier
  • Venice Beach Boardwalk




Arrive at the airport with only a backpack that can fit under the seat in front of you. Spirit charges extra for additional bags.

GO STRAIGHT TO SECURITY- Present drivers license and boarding pass.


Flight time 3 hours 22 minutes


9:00 AM / GET UBER

Spirit Airlines arrives in Terminal 3.

On the departures (upper) level, there are “Ride Service” pickup signs located curbside. Sign “B” is where you should meet your driver.

FROM: LAX Terminal 3

TO: “The Original Farmers Market”, West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA via

uberPOOL approximately $21.52 for two people.

Approximate drive time is 22-45 minutes.


Eat Lunch at The Original Farmers Market.

Singapore Banana Leaf ($12.45 chicken curry + drinks)

Walk over to and explore The Grove– a celebrity hot spot.

The Trolly ride is FREE.


FROM: The Grove- The pickup and dropoff area is located at Circle Valet off of The Grove Drive. The Grove Drive is accessible via Beverly Blvd. or 3rd Street. You will see Uber signage when you approach the pickup and drop-off area.

TO: Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA

uberPOOL approximately $7.72 for two people.

Approximate drive time is 12 minutes.

Explore Chinese Theatre Handprints

11:15 AM / WALK HOLLYWOOD BLVD (45 minutes)

1 mile walk straight through to “Hollywood Burger” takes about 20

minutes. Stop and enjoy the sites along the way.


Hollywood Burger – Hollywood Famous Shakes $4.95

12:15 PM / UBER TO Griffith Park Observatory

FROM: Hollywood Burger, 6250 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

TO: 2800 East Observatory Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90027

uberPOOL approximately $9.69 for two people

Approximate drive time is 18 minutes.


Visitors can look through telescopes, explore exhibits, see live shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, and enjoy spectacular views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign.

OPTIONAL SHOW: 12:45pm Water Is Life at the Samuel Oschin Planetarium $7 per person.


FROM: Griffith Park Observatory

TO: Benny’s Tacos & Chicken Rotisserie, 915 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica,

CA 90401

uberPOOL approximately $27.21 for two people.

Approximate drive time is between 40 min – 1 hour 10 minutes.


Benny’s Tacos & Chicken Rotisserie

Most popular item is the “California Burrito with Chipotle Chicken”

Take food to go.


Use the “SOCIAL BICYCLES” App to rent bikes.

Use Google maps for directions to “Santa Monica Pier”

1.3 mile bike ride- approx. 7 minutes

Eat burritos on the beach or while walking around the pier with bikes.

Explore- do not return bikes.


Use Google maps to bike along the bike path down to Venice Beach.

1.8 mile bike ride- approx. 10 minutes

Take your time. Take Pictures along the way.

Return Bikes to the hub at “12 Park Avenue, Los Angeles”

4:15 PM / EXPLORE VENICE BEACH (1 hour 15 minutes)

Venice Beach Boardwalk

Venice Public Art Walls

Muscle Beach

The “Venice” sign is located at Windward Ave & Pacific Ave

End with the Venice Beach Fishing Pier (Washington St.)


FROM: 3015 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291

TO: LAX Terminal 3 Departures

uberPOOL approximate cost is $15.37 for two people.

Approximate drive time is 26-60 minutes.


Go through security

Boarding begins at approximately 7:30 pm




*Assuming two travelers.

  • Approximate Total Cost of Uber: $81.51 – $30 first time Uber credit = $51.51
  • All activities are free.
  • Cost of biking approx. 50 minutes x $0.12 per minute = $12 for 2 people.
  • Cost of Lunch $30 for 2 people (2- $12.45 chicken curry + drinks).
  • Cost of snack $10 for 2 people ($4.95 milkshakes).
  • Cost of dinner $30 for 2 people (2- $12.95 burritos + drinks)
  • Cost of roundtrip flight $82.40 per person

= COST OF DAY (Lunch, snack, dinner, transportation, biking, attractions & entertainment) = approx. $133.51 approx. $67 each person).

= COST OF TRIP (Day + flights)= approx. $149 per person (if both people have never used Uber), $165 per person if they have used Uber and cannot use the coupons.

Complete Itinerary

*This is a sample itinerary and is provided for free for informational use. Please use as a guide and travel at your own risk. Costs, Travel estimates are subject to change.*

***Click here to download a PDF of this guide***

If you plan on using this itinerary as a guide please share!

Spirit DFW-LAX for $82.40 roundtrip

*Post written & Prices accurate as of 10/20/2018

I love living in Dallas because you can basically fly anywhere in 3ish hours. Spirit airlines offers some awesome deals if you plan on flying light.

Here is a deal I found if you want to take a day trip to Los Angeles:

spirit flight .png

Take a look at the calendar above. There are so many dates that say $61.19 one way “departing” calendar. If you click on the same day in the “arriving” calendar, there is another flight leaving LAX to DFW the same day for $61.19. Of course you can stay as long as you like, as long as you depart on a day that lists the price at $61.19. This way the roundtrip price works out to $82.40 roundtrip.

spirit flight charges.png

After declining the $9 fare club and other add ons, you will reach a screen like the one above with a total of $122.38 for each round trip ticket.

Here’s the catch…

It is always cheaper to purchase Spirit flights at the airport. See where it has a “passenger usage charge” in the flight purchase charge? Well, take that off if you buy it at the airport.

This would calculate the price at the airport to:

$122.38-$39.98= $82.40 ROUND TRIP DFW to LAX

Here’s another deal:

DFW to DEN.png

$102.40 – $39.98= $62.40 ROUNDTRIP DFW to DEN

Safe travels!

Buying a home in a developing DFW community

Tips for buying a home in a developing DFW community

The DFW metroplex is expanding quickly. New home developments are popping up everywhere. We bought our home 3 years ago and since then we have heard the complaints by our neighbors about various things.Here are 5 tips I have when buying a new home in a developing community. A majority of complaints fall into these 5 categories.

If planning to purchase a home in a developing DFW (or I assume any community) most common complaints could be addressed if prospective home buyers:

1) Are diligent when choosing their builder, monitor building process closely at every stage.

2) Are diligent when choosing home site (what is planned in the future by the home site, is there going to be something built in the vicinity of your home that you would not be supportive of?) I called into the town several times to confirm if their were plans (or not plans for things). In our neighborhood there is a street that backs up to the railroad. You wouldn’t believe how many people complained about the noise. Some lots had a park planned for across the street. You guessed it- people “had no idea” and they didn’t want the park or the traffic. I knew about all these things because I didn’t want any surprises. Do your homework. Don’t be one to say, “I thought…” you need to know. Write it all down- who told you what and when. This way you have documentation if someone goes back on their word.

3) Review the past activities/events that have been hosted at the community center. Are they sufficient for your family- do you need to be entertained more or in a different way? “I thought we were going to have a fitness class… I thought there was going to be a weekly kids art class… I thought…” If the classes/events/activities hosted by the HOA in the past are not sufficient for your family, don’t expect much to change when you move into the community.

4) Gather information from several sources, not just your realtor, builder, or some random Facebook review. Some parties have a vested interest in which home you chose and will likely tell you anything. If having X amenity is extremely important to your family, be sure to verify by several parties that it is planned- not just confirmed by one eager sales person. Realtors are often offered incentives to sell homes in certain communities. Even though we absolutely love and adored our realtor, always take into consideration and question the reason they are so adamant about a particular neighborhood.

5) Expect noise and flat tires. When you finally move into the community, understand that others will be building around you. It seems like common sense, but it can be frustrating when roofers and nailing at sunrise. This is a new community. Houses are being built. Craftsman will play their music and nails will be left in the road. Trash will blow from the job site to your front yard. If your community is flourishing, building goes by quick and this all resolves.

Moving to Flower Mound, Texas from California

Moving from California to Texas.
Common arguments when moving halfway across the United States

Moving to Texas from California was not a decision our family took lightly. My husband and I weighed every angle, thought of a million scenarios, talked endlessly about “what ifs”. It was exhausting. Doing what feels right for your family, may not feel right to everyone in your life. We were met with a lot of criticism. It’s like people thought we made the decision in 32.5 seconds while on the potty during a commercial break. So I wanted to do a post about some main arguments I used when discussing our move. A side note- I just finished reading “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck“(may come in handy if you are considering a move across the United States).

Keep in mind that I have so many arguments as to why this move was right for our family, but this doesn’t mean that it is perfect for your family. Every family is different and therefore prioritizes differently. This is just a small reasoning about a family of native Californians making Texas home.

We were met with these questions/comments over and over from our California faithfuls. Here is my 2 cents on each question/comment.

Comment: But it’s so ugly in Texas. California is so much prettier. 

I know it seems silly, but this is the one comment we heard over and over. 

3 words: COST. OF. LIVING.

While I do love the beautiful landscapes of California- the ocean and the forests, I cannot justify staying in California because of its beauty. There are other pressing issues that we have at this point in our life- mainly the cost of living. Being able to drive to the beach is wonderful. Living amongst the redwoods is beautiful. I will not discount California’s beauty in any way, but I cannot justify the cost of living. 

According to (You can click on this link and compare two cities that interest you), I compared the cost of living:  

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 9.15.11 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 9.14.59 PM

We bought our home in Flower Mound for right around the median home cost. 

Our critics will say:

Question: Why don’t you live in a cheaper city in California- then we can be close?

According to the most affordable city in California to live in is Oxnard, California. The two things I concern myself with are schools & safety:

  1. How good are the schools in an area that we can afford to live in?
  2. How safe is the area we could afford to live in?

Livability says, “The median household income [in Oxnard, California] is $62,349 with median home value settling at $332,600, which is actually a great deal for California real estate.” 

How about the schools? According to (screenshots taken 9/14/2018, click on the great schools link for updated information): 

Here is some information on the rating system.

Oxnard, CA:

greatschools oxnard

Flower Mound, TX

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 9.27.21 PM

So while it might be the same cost to purchase a home in Oxnard, California- schools are simply better in Texas.

Another metric is crime rates: (taken from Sperlings Best Places

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 9.35.24 PM

Additionally, according to a study, The town of Flower Mound has been ranked in the Top 10 Safest Cities in America by the National Council for Home Safety and Security. Flower Mound came in at No. 7 in the list, the only Texas municipality in the top 30. The No. 1 safest city according to the report, went to Thornton, Colorado, a suburb of Denver.”

 Affordability. Schools. Safety. 

Question: When will we ever see you?

It’s really not that expensive to fly. Here is a screenshot of flights between SFO/SJC and Dallas. These flights are round trip found on google flights

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 9.48.22 PM

Question: Why Flower Mound, Texas?

Here is the town’s 2017 annual report.

Here is an excerpt from the town’s website

Town Yearly Awards – 2018

No. 1 ‘Most Livable Small City in the U.S.’

According to a study by SmartAsset, an online personal finance company, Flower Mound is the No. 1 “Most Livable Small City in the U.S.” Researchers examined cities with populations between 65,000 and 99,000, comparing 11 key factors including: median home value to median income ratio, concentration of entertainment, restaurants, and health care establishments, and unemployment rate, among others. The article praises Flower Mound for its positive economic climate, low unemployment rate, and affordable housing relative to the average income. Flower Mound is the only Texas community in the top 10, with Mansfield, Texas coming in at No. 12. The full study can be found here.


No. 1 ‘Lowest Drunk Driving Fatality Rate in TX’

According to a study by Sutliff & Stout, an injury and accident law firm, Flower Mound ranks No. 1 on the “Lowest Drunk Driving Fatality Rate” in Texas. Researchers used Texas Department of Transportation data to determine the number of alcohol related crashes from 2013 to 2017 for cities with a population of 50,000 or more. Once they were able to determine the average number of drunk driving fatalities each year for a given city, they divided that by the total population, then by 100,000 to determine drunk driving fatalities per 100,000 residents. Flower Mound ranks 0.28 drunk driving deaths per 100,000 residents each year, followed by North Richland Hills at No. 2 with 0.29, and Frisco at No. 3 with a score of 0.51. The Texas City with the highest drunk driving fatality rate is Odessa with 6.26 annual drunk driving deaths per 100,000 residents. The full study can be found here.

No. 6 ‘Best Place to Visit in U.S.’

Travel website, ranked Flower Mound No. 6 on its national list of “Best Places to Visit” after examining 2,000 small and mid-sized cities. Criteria examined by analysts included the community’s entertainment industry, cultural offerings, golf courses and parks, ease of transportation, crime rate, and climate. Flower Mound is the only Texas community to make the top 10, praised for outdoor recreation opportunities provided by the many parks and trails, Bridlewood Golf Club, Tour 18 Dallas, and the Community Activity Center just to name a few. The article also noted the River Walk development as an amenity to look forward to when construction is complete. Newport Beach, CA took the No. 1 spot on this list. The full study can be found here.

No. 10 Safest City in Texas

According to, a website that combines data about U.S. cities into bite-sized articles, Flower Mound is the No. 10 safest city in Texas. With the largest population of any city ranking in the top 30, Flower Mound had low scores in both violent crimes per capita and property crimes per capita.To complete the study, HomeSnacks analyzed 331 cities in Texas with a population of more than 5,000 using the latest FBI crime data. To learn more, please visit

Comment: The weather sucks in Texas.

Yes, it does. I agree. This is just something we have to live with.

Comment: Texas is different than California politically.

Yes, it is. This can be good or bad depending on where you sit politically.

According to (you can click on this link and change the city to one you are interested in):

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 11.18.52 PMScreen Shot 2018-09-14 at 11.18.00 PM

In the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex approximately 42% are Democrats and 57% are Republicans, which is more level (15%) than the 76% Democrats and 20% Republicans (56%) in the Santa Cruz-Watsonville Metro. There is a shift in the opposite direction, but still more level in the DFW Metro area. Which ever way you lean, you will be able to find people with common beliefs in the DFW Metroplex.

Closing remarks:

We have been here in Texas for about three years and we still love it.

Check us out on the Canyon Falls Community blog.

Santa Cruz, California Visit

Santa Cruz- There is something breathtaking about being immersed in the redwoods with the sound of the wind blowing through the trees and birds singing. It’s grounding. Cathartic.

Sleep in the mountains, visit the ocean.

I will start this post with a preface that my husband and I were born in Santa Cruz, and all of our family currently lives there. We had been locals there for 25 years, until we moved to Texas. Beach Boardwalk? We only ever went when we had company visiting. The Mystery Spot? Only have to do it once. Now when we visit Santa Cruz, we visit our favorite places to eat and let the kids have fun in the mountains and a quick trip to the ocean.

Where we eat

When we visit, it is usually only for a couple days. However, there are two places that we absolutely have to eat at.

If you are visiting Santa Cruz, try out two these places.

  1. Manuels, Aptos 

I have been eating at Manuels since before I can remember. My Dad has eaten at Manuels since before he can remember. “Mannies” is our favorite Mexican Restaurant. It is the Mexican restaurant that we gauge every other Mexican restaurant against. Texas just doesn’t have Mexican food I am used to- Texmex is a class all on its own, one that I am not particularly used to. So, if you are from Texas, make sure to get an enchilada. My favorite is the number 9 or the Friday fish special. Be sure to call ahead for reservations because its always packed.

2. Cafe Brasil, Santa Cruz

We stumbled upon this little breakfast/lunch place when we were running errands. It was the best decision because we go back every chance we get.  I always get the shrimp Muquecas: Freshly made tomato sauce with coconut milk, palm oil, green pepper with your choice of simmered meat. The acai bowls are also very popular. Parking is really limited. We usually park on a neighboring street and walk over.

Where we stay

My parents run an Airbnb in Aptos- Juju Paradise.

 This 1200 sq ft dodecahedron (12 sided) duplex house is in the Santa Cruz redwoods. Enjoy the entire second story 2 bed/1 bath unit that is only 15 min away from Rio Del Mar State beach. You get the best of both worlds- land & sea. You get to take in spectacular views of the redwoods on the 30 acre property with over 50 meyer lemon trees.

Breathe in the redwoods. Soak in the California sun. Immerse yourself in Santa Cruz culture. A true paradise.

We look forward to your stay.

-Cal & Zara


We stay there when we visit. It is up in the mountains for the true Santa Cruz Mountains experience.

When visiting Santa Cruz there is a lot of hype about the beach. We do love the beach and spend an afternoon there if the fog isn’t banked in. However, the mountains are a little more underrated. When we moved to the suburbs of Texas, we immediately missed the open spaces and the quiet.

Can you spot the round house in the woods?

There is something breathtaking about being immersed in the redwoods with the sound of the wind blowing through the trees and birds singing. It’s grounding. Cathartic. If you have a chance to stay in the redwoods, even for a night, you’ll understand the majesty of California. Plus you can always drive to the beach 15 Min away.

Have you ever visited Santa Cruz? Are you planning a trip? I would love to answer any questions you have.