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Laguna Beach is Southern California's premier seaside destination, midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. A year-round retreat for art lovers, nature enthusiasts and beach goers, Laguna Beach features seven miles of soft sand and surf.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Casa Laguna Inn & Spa - Your Unique California Bed & Breakfast Experience

As soon as you step foot onto the property of Casa Laguna Inn & Spa you know that you are somewhere special. It’s a peaceful, serene and beautiful place that feels like an oasis. Around every corner you stumble upon a secluded garden nook, a lush sitting area perfect for reading, a calming water fountain, or a stunning ocean view. This mission style Bed and Breakfast was originally built as a private residence in the 1920s. It was then expanded into a motor lodge in the’40s, and was then converted to a Bed and Breakfast in 2000. Casa Laguna Inn & Spa has a loyal cliental and has become known for its gourmet breakfast (for overnight guests only!), friendly service, luxurious bedding and romantic setting.

As you explore the property you’ll see colorful mission-style tiles, many of which are the original tiles from the Catalina Tile Company. They were added to the property when it was functioning as an artists’ community. Now, the owner brings tiles to add to the property from his travels around the world. It is touches like these that make Casa Laguna a truly unique place to stay.

Each room is inviting and equipped with all the modern conveniences you hope for (flat screen TV’s, DVD players, Wi-Fi) which give you the comfort of hom, yet the luxury you desire when escaping the business of everyday life.

Casa Laguna offers a variety of rooms from ocean views, suites, rooms with patios and even a private cottage. You’ll be able to find just the right fit for your perfect getaway.

With your stay at Casa Laguna, you are treated to an award-winning breakfast each morning. The menu changes seasonally and is prepared with locally produced foods, much of which is purchased at the Laguna Beach Farmer’s Market (insert blog story link). The gourmet menu is the creation of Chef Allen Rietveld whose style is “eclectic freestyle—bringing together flavors and essences from cultures around the world to excite and please the palate; and, putting a new youthful spin on classic favorites.”

Laguna Egg Rolls: A blend of eggs, sautéed garlic, shallots, potatoes, cumin, chilli powder, garlic powder, chives, and avocado, rolled into a wonton wrapper and pan crisped. Garnished with mixed crisp cabbage and shaved carrots.

Savory Abelskivers: The latest take on our popular spherical Danish pancakes. These are stuffed with orange & basil-infused ricotta cheese; served with ground-mustard hollandaise and a sprinkling of bacon bits.

Both of these dishes were generous in portion, tasty and filling. Chef Rietveld has a way of taking the traditional dish and putting an unexpected spin on it that awakens the palate. He mentioned that there is a classic Eggs Benedict and a new Abelskivers recipes that will debut on the winter menu. In addition to this fabulous, gourmet breakfast, overnight guests are treated to a wine and hors d’oeuvres hour each afternoon.

To experience Casa Laguna’s manicured tropical grounds, their luxurious guest rooms and the gourmet award-winning cuisine, book your stay today!

By Anne-Marie S.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Barnaby Rudge Booksellers & DVD Rental

A mix of antique books and DVDs are items you may not necessarily think go together, but when you step inside Barnaby Rudge Booksellers & DVD Rental, you will see why they do. Spend a little time browsing and talking to owner and long-time Laguna Beach resident Ed Postal and you begin to see how they go hand in hand.

The story of how Barnaby Rudge Booksellers began dates back to the early 90s when Ed first started purchasing antique-like books. His interest began to turn into a passion and then a business of seeking out, purchasing and selling antique books, dating as far back as the 15th century, was created. Barnaby Rudge sells books to Universities and major libraries all over the world. as well as many museums, including The Getty. Book appraisals and restoration are also part of the services that Barnaby Rudge provides. They are also members of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, one of only 400 bookstores in the US. Barnaby Rudge is the only antique bookstore left in Orange County.

For many of us history can seem fragmented and isolated when no connection to the present or the future is made. Ed has found just the opposite to be true when you’re able to interact with antique books. He says, “You begin to see how all of history is inter-related and connected (when looking at antique books). Without hundreds of thousands of years of over editorializing you begin to see historical events from both sides.” And for some of us we relate to historical events through film.

Seeing a historical movie can bring an event to life. In many films, the Set Decorators seek out authentic, historical props, like books, to add to films. Barnaby Rudge has been involved in 15 movies and about a dozen TV shows. Ed helped recreate the John Quincy Adams library in the 1997 film AmistadAnother example was in Pirates of the Caribbean II, where a Bible from the late 1700s was featured. You can spot the Bible in a scene where two pirates are reading passages from it while on a dingy boat. Barnaby Rudge sold that Bible to the Set Decorator for the scene.

Barnaby Rudge houses a large independent film selection, a strong classic film section and has all of the “Best Picture” Academy Award winners available. Ed and his staff prescreen all movies that come into the store, so they can truly recommend the right one and give accurate reviews about each film. His clientele like being able to ‘touch’ (it seems like everything is viewed digitally these days!) and hear about what they are going to watch before making a decision. DVD rentals are $3.50 for two nights, or pre-paid packages of 10 for $30, or 20 for $50 are also available.

Whether you’re looking to view a piece of history or watch a highly recommended film, drop in to Barnaby Rudge Booksellers & DVD Rental for a mix of the past, present and future.

1445 Glenneyre Street
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Toll Free (866) 840-5900, (949) 497-4079

Fun Fact: Barnaby Rudge is a character from a Charles Dickens book of the same name. In 1841, Edgar Allen Poe was the editor of the publication ‘Graham’s Magazine.’ Besides submitting his own writings for the magazine he also reviewed books, one of which was ‘Barnaby Rudge.’ The character Barnaby Rudge always carried a raven in his basket named Rip, and that was the inspiration for Edgar Allen Poe’s poem ‘The Raven.’

By Anne-Marie S.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

13th Annual Plein Air Painting Invitational

Every October, Laguna Beach turns into an outdoor studio with the Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational. The 13th annual Plein Air Painting Invitational is taking place October 9-16, showcasing 50 of the nation’s top plein air landscape painters who will be competing for prestigious prizes and participating in the week-long festivities including public paint outs, environmental awareness activities and educational events.

There are many opportunities for you to watch these talented artists in action:

Quick Draw Paint Out
Sunday, October 9
11am to 1pm
Heisler Park

Stroll through this beautiful park and watch these master painters in action as they create plein air masterpieces before your very eyes. At 1:00 pm, walk over to Laguna Art Museum for a Meet & Greet Reception with the artists who will be there until 2:00 p.m. Enjoy complimentary beverages courtesy of the Laguna Art Museum.

Laguna Canyon Foundation Paint Out
Tuesday, October 11
9am to 10:30am
Laguna Canyon

Choose between two private tours that will provide additional opportunities to watch the participating artists in a paint out, and to raise awareness about Laguna Canyon Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving, protecting, enhancing, and promoting the South Coast Wilderness Area.

Paint Out at Crystal Cove
Thursday, October 13
8am to 12noon
Crystal Cove State Park

At the north end of Laguna Beach lies the magnificent Crystal Cove State Park, which boasts 3.2 miles of beach and 2,400 acres of pristine coastal habitat. The participating plein air artists will be at the Park’s famous Historic District to paint the beautiful landscape and cottages, and bring awareness to the Park’s protected environment.

Collectors’ Soirée
Saturday, October 15
6pm to 10pm
Laguna Art Museum
The entire week culminates with the Collectors’ Soirée at Laguna Art Museum. Join over 400 guests for this exciting gala where you will have the opportunity to view and purchase, in advance of the general public, the artworks created throughout the week by 50 of the nation’s top plein air artists.

You Can Win!!!

In partnership with the Laguna Art Museum, we are offering you an exclusive chance to WIN two tickets to the Collector’s Soiree (a $300 value). Post the below status update to your Facebook wall, tag Laguna Art Museum and Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau,and you will be entered into the drawing to win.

Laguna Art Museum is hosting the prestigious 13th Annual Plein Air Invitational, October 9-16th. The event showcases 50 of the nation's top plein air landscape painters who compete for prestigious prizes and participate in festivities including public paint outs, environmental awareness activities, and educational events. Learn more and enter for a chance to WIN tickets to their annual Collectors' Soiree on the Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau blog:"

Winner will be picked at random on October 14th and notified via Facebook direct message.

A life worth living, ‘Shirley Valentine’

Going about the mundane tasks of domestic life, we meet Shirley Valentine, a housewife living in Liverpool in the 1980s. She moves about her home kitchen preparing dinner and tea for her husband who has yet to arrive home from work. Her children are grown and have moved out of the house, her marriage is void of love leaving Shirley lonely and aimless. Her kitchen wall has become her confidant. She tells of a life empty with no passion, excitement or purpose. Her glass of wine and the wall seem to be her only comforts. Shirley starts to reminisce about her lost youth. She remembers living a lively and vibrant life before the hum drum of responsibility and duty of an ordinary life took over. We learn that her one friend and neighbor, has offered to take Shirley on a two-week holiday to Greece. Shirley wants nothing more than to go, but she worries her husband won’t let her go and  if he did, could he survive without her for two weeks? She jokingly says, “If I go to the bathroom for five minutes he thinks I’ve been hijacked.” In the end Shirley decides to find her inner strength and goes to Greece. There she recaptures her passion for life and finds a “land beyond the wall.” The hour and forty minute show, is a journey where she rediscovers herself and decides to take control of her life, and to live her “unused” years.

This one-woman play, written by Willy Russell, originally premiered in Liverpool in 1986 and received rave reviews. This was a time when one-person plays were not nearly as popular as they are today. In 1989, Pauline Collins won the Tony Award for ‘Best Performance’ by a leading actress in a play. It was in 2004 that DeeDee Rescher  brought to life Shirley Valentine at the Long Beach Playhouse. It is a treat to have her reprise the role at The Laguna Playhouse. She brings humor and a sensitive emotion to the role that easily draws you in and connects you to the character. This is an honest and heartfelt look at life and how it doesn’t always quite turnout like we thought it would.

Be sure to see ‘Shirley Valentine’ at The Laguna Playhouse 
Now through October 23rd
Tuesday-Fridays 2pm and 8pm
Saturdays 2pm and 8pm
Sundays 2pm

By Anne-Marie S.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A well-deserved Mom night out at Asada Laguna

Laguna Beach has welcomed several new restaurants over the last few months. One of the new kids on the block is Asada Laguna. Located along Pacific Coast Hwy (PCH), opposite of the Wyland Gallery, Asada is the ideal spot to grab a quick drink with chips and salsa or stay awhile and settle in for a full meal.

I took one of my friends who is a mom and was in need of a night out. Between the two of us we have nine kids (her six and I three), so you can imagine she and I needed a night without the worries and stress of children and home life. We started with the traditional chips and salsa, but Asada’s salsa is something special. It is a homemade fire-roasted salsa that is served warm! I had not had a warm salsa quite like this before and it was delicious. We also ordered a fresh guacamole that is made to order. The chips, salsa and guacamole were so good, that we had to stop ourselves from filling up before our main dishes.

And, in my opinion, no Mexican food meal can be consumed without a Margarita! I chose the popular Cadillac Margarita and my friend, the pomegranate Margarita. Both were excellent and a perfect way to start our night out!

After lots of gabbing, we finally decided on our entrée’s. I chose the Blackened Halibut Tacos. These are served in warm flour tortillas, roasted poblano sauce topped with crunchy cabbage, pico de gallo and served with homemade black beans and cilantro rice.
Insider Hint: The guacamole appetizer was such a generous portion, that I added some to the tacos. It was perfect complement to the light halibut.

My friend chose the Carne Asada meal. This is one of the most popular items on the Asada menu and no wonder why! It is made with USDA prime steak that is agave marinated, served with roasted scallions, sour cream, guacamole, cilantro rice and homemade black beans. My friend loved that there was extra sauce to add to the carne asada. The meat had the right amount of kick that keeps you coming back for more, but doesn’t light your mouth on fire. The meal came with a side of fire-roasted jalapenos that I just had to steal a bite of. These can be ordered as an appetizer and are filled with cream cheese and wrapped in crispy bacon. Honestly, these little packages were my favorite part of the meal!

We finished the meal off with the Buttered Crepes. They were sweet and served with fresh whipped cream and caramel.

When we left, we realized how nice it was to enjoy great conversation, a beautiful sunset, a view of the Pacific and great food, all in the peace of Laguna Beach. It was the perfect Mom’s night out.

480 S Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 715-5533

Sunday - Monday 11:00am to 10:00pm
Tuesday - Saturday 11:00am to 1:00am
Happy Hour Monday – Friday 3pm to 6pm

By Anne-Marie S.