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California, and Living In Santa Monica for 6 Weeks!


As quoted by Jen Sincero in her book “You Are a Badass,” she states, “you need to go from wanting to change your life to deciding to change your life.”And that is EXACTLY what I did, TWICE, in 2017. I needed a change of scenery, a breath of fresh air, and that 1st step towards my next chapter. I spent a total of 12 weeks in sunny Santa Monica, California last year, not including a few days in February with my Mom, and during December for my Birthday. On a side note, I have kept the trend going in 2018, although the 6 week long stays are not in the cards right now.

My first 6 weeks in California came in May to the beginning of June; the 2nd in October to the beginning of November. I remember so many people telling me before I traveled to sunny SoCal in the Spring that 6 weeks would not be long enough. To be fair, it was originally 5 weeks and I extended my stay for one more. Honestly, I didn’t know how I would feel. I am very much a homebody and, to go across the country for an extended period of time, was so “not me.”

But, I have to agree with every person who made the comment – 6 weeks was NOT enough time! So, I re-booked another trip shortly after returning home. Again, so not me BUT my gut was telling me I HAD to do this again (and, hopefully, again, and again, and again). Because California baby!

It’s funny how easy it is to get back into a routine; a routine that I longed to not have anymore when I came home in June, yet felt a little angst about leaving it again. I wondered how this trip [my 6 week Fall getaway] would compare to the last one.

Would I still feel the same way? I was no longer the new kid on the block!

Would I settle in a little quicker, and work on ME a little harder?

Would I have a different perspective? I mean, the 3 months I was gone included getting back into a NEW routine, and, my sister getting engaged.

Would I be even MORE adventurous?

Needless to say, all of those questions came with a big YES but my “personal process” is not what I wanted to share today. Actually, what I am sharing has come as more of a request from YOU.

janine serio
Thank you to the fabulous Violeta Meyners for this photo taken in a beautiful Santa Monica neighborhood!

One of the biggest questions I am asked by people is, besides your clothing, WHAT ELSE DO YOU PACK? Without a car, how do you get all of your essentials once you are there? How do you feel after traveling, and the 1st, 24 hours upon arrival? FYI: While a lot of this pertains to specific Santa Monica, California establishments, I hope you are able to take away some of my advice to apply to your own getaways!

For the record, I am a planner. Sure, I did not have to worry about sending anything out prior to my arrival, and purchase all once I was settled, but here was my thought process:

#1: These are additional expenses I do not have to worry about since I, slowly, had been purchasing over the few months leading up to my stay.

#2: The last thing I want to worry about after a LONG day of travel – and never being sure if everything is on time – is that I need to go to the store to get coffee, or toothpaste, or whatever is needed to get me through until the next day. Umm, like wine! Plus, as ambitious as I may think I am, the thought of doing a whole big shopping, without a car, never ends up happening the next day either! More on that momentarily…

I sent, and packed, about two-thirds LESS for my Fall stay than what I did in May. To be fair, I had NO IDEA, so it was a good trial run. And, I had to keep up with my reputation of WAY overpacking and not wearing half the items I bring. Ha! Plus, although I really shouldn’t do this, I end up buying a fair amount too. Surprise, surprise.

If you take nothing else away from this blog post, just remember THIS – the less you take, the more you can buy! Okay, back to what else was sent!

  • My Mom, graciously, sent out some clothing items that did not fit in my smaller suitcase that STILL tipped the Southwest scales – I might as well throw money out the window. The initial send was mainly food, beauty, accessories, and miscellaneous related items.
  • I made sure to send a handful of my favorite Primal Kitchen products such as dressings, cooking oils, and mayo!
  • Ghee Butter was on the list because GEEZ, why not? One of my go-to cooking staples!
  • A HUGE MUST – a small canister of coffee (your preferred choice) for the next day when the time change has you up at a crazy hour, and the excitement like a kid at Christmas sets in too!
  • Dish and hand soap were sent out as well. I am a little bit of a germaphobe but cannot help the sweet deals, and unbelievable selection, at HomeGoods. Packing Hack: Make sure to wrap soaps in a plastic bag! You just never know if the pressure change when flying will cause them to explode unexpectedly. Believe me, I know from experience.
  • A bunch of toiletry items that just take up space in a suitcase – body wash, face products, mouthwash, toothpaste, loofah, razors, cotton balls, etc. And let’s not forget a few rolls of toilet paper and paper towels too. That shit is expensive, and you don’t want to be s%&$ out of luck when you arrive too.
  • Fun cocktail napkins because HAPPY HOUR!
  • A stack of books that I had been wanting to read for who knows how long.
  • Camera because, hello, BLOGGER LIFE, and the iPhone only goes so far with the photography.
  • Purses and clutches to store my empty wallet, LOL! Hey, you need to walk the walk and talk the talk.
  • Assortment of my favorite protein bars, Papa Steve’s, which were shipped from their location in the next town over, Culver City.
  • Prior to my departure in the Spring, I did leave a bin full of essentials with the property manager too, since I knew (yes, even though not booked) I was coming back. Items such as coffee mugs and glassware I purchased, more beauty items, dish towels, my Swell bottles, travel coffee mugs, yoga mat, etc.

When I arrive, I am so spent but, more importantly, SO HUNGRY! I plug in my computer, and log on to one of the local food delivery service sites. The 2 popular ones in Santa Monica are Door Dash & Caviar. I already knew that I wanted to order from one of my favorite restaurants, Zinque. Although I have never been to one of their (physical) locations, their food is AWESOME! I sub rice for “cauliflower rice” in my “Le Bowl,” which is filled with arugula, tomato, comte, avocado, fresh Parmesan and topped with roasted shredded chicken. In addition, I add the roasted cauliflower and Brussels with pancetta to my cart which are out of this world and even have some leftovers for the next day!

And, how could I forget the best part! I open a bottle of wine that I bring – yes, I travel with a wine bag filled with some of my favorites (again, another expense I don’t have to incur when I first get here) – and I can finally start to settle in. I am a little OCD with wanting to get unpacked and organized but I do the best I can, and wait for the rest until I am fresh in the morning.

santa monica
This view of Ocean Avenue from The Fairmont Miramar & Bungalows never gets old!

The next day, I try to keep it EASY, and just go with the flow based on how I am feeling. Yes, groceries are always needed but, most of the time, I don’t feel like cooking so I just wing it.

Regardless if I am traveling for 5 days, 7 days, 2 weeks, or 6 weeks, this is, usually, how it goes:

  • There is always work that needs to be done, or emails to be caught up on, so that takes priority. I pop on KTLA, get caught up with what is happening in SoCal, as well as on my social media too.
  • I will drink a bajillion cups of coffee because, well, caffeine and LIFE. And water, lots of water, is a MUST too. I think I feel hungover half the time after traveling because I am dehydrated.
  • Since groceries are non-existent, I will pull out one of my emergency protein bars to get me through until I am able to get a real meal.
  • When the work is complete, and the foodie in me is HANGRY, I venture out and about to one of the handful of places I like to eat in California and grab my staple – a salad with protein and LOTS of goodies! And by goodies I mean bacon, cheese, avocado, and dressing!
  • Some of my FAVORITE lunch go-to’s in Santa Monica, California are Art’s Table, Tender Greens, True Food Kitchen, Flower Child, The Fairmont Miramar & Bungalows, and well, the list is never ending!

brussels sprouts

  • Since I am still in a travel hangover, I will try to make a massage appointment, reflexology, or even a mani/pedi which helps tremendously! Again, just something to take the edge off.
  • Post-treatment, I will take a leisurely walk to take in the sights, see what is new and exciting, and just enjoy the moment!

It’s, usually, not very long before I am ready to get back to my place and chill for the day since my body is still on East Coast time. The only problem going back early is being faced with that little thing called NO FOOD! Ahhh!

Although where I stayed had a grocery store right down the street – perfect for quick pick-me-up’s – it’s hard to do a big shopping when you are by yourself and without a car. I will say, I am sure it was quite humorous watching me juggle heavy grocery bags up and down the street when I did go for a “small” shopping.

One thing that I tried, and really liked it, was getting on the InstaCart app and having my groceries delivered from Whole Foods. Pretty freakin’ cool, even if you are spending a little more on all those damn service charges! Hey, it was worth it! FYI: The California grocery stores are pretty flipping cool too, that is, if you like to grocery shop like myself. Why does Baltimore seem to be so far behind the trend.

I, also, ordered from Butcher Box – a super high-quality meat delivery service which is FANTASTIC! While I have not ordered from them in a couple months, I look forward to getting back on their monthly rotation ASAP! Seriously, its affordable, clean, and did I mention high-quality?

Before I know it, it’s a wrap for the day. I have a few glasses of wine (#adulting), order another yummy take-out dinner, put on something mindless on the TV, and I am under the covers early! I love the California lifestyle of early to bed, early to rise. So fitting for yours truly.

And while I would say this is just the 1st day or two, you will find me doing the above MOST days…okay with a little more cooking! While I know it is not for everyone, there the ease and pace of California living is just fabulous!

Will I make the move here at some point? I guess time will only tell but in the words of Katy Perry & Snoop Dog – “California Girls we are unforgettable…”