Visiting Graceland for the First Time.


Who doesn’t love Elvis Presley? I grew up watching this pop idol turned legend with my Grandma in his classic films like Girls Girls Girls, Fun in Acapulco and Change of Habit. When we weren’t watching his teenybopper movies, I was maybe listening to him on “My First Sony” boom box.

A bucket list item has always been to visit his Graceland mansion. I remember watching Full House and being intrigued when Uncle Jesse (John Stamos) said he wanted to be married there. When I found out we would be heading to The South, I was thrilled to be invited for a day at Graceland in Memphis!

Pulling into the Graceland entrance ($10 parking, FYI), it was more “theme park” vibes than a musical legend’s home. Adjacent to their ample parking lot, they’re remodeling and soon unveiling a brand new hotel.

Heading into the lobby, prepared to be overwhelmed with EVERYTHING a “hunka hunka burning love”. This is a shrine to The King! We proceeded to grab our tickets. We had The Entourage Tour that featured a multimedia iPad tour of Graceland Mansion and grounds, Graceland Archives Experience, self-guided tour of Elvis’ two custom airplanes, self-guided tours of Elvis’ Automobile Museum, The’ Tupelo Exhibit at Graceland Crossing, as well as Elvis in Hawaii: Concerts, Movies and More, at The Crossing.

Living room

Living room

All tour options include the main attraction (and what I was most excited to see): the mansion. Yes, friends–it’s as stunning as you  can imagine. It is also a bit overwhelming, and for that I am glad that the tour is self-guided to go at your own pace.

As you walk through Presley’s home and see such heirlooms as his furniture, instruments and the china filled dining table his daughter,  Lisa Marie, and her family still enjoy when they visit, the beauty has no parallel.

Built in 1939 and named after a relative named Grace, Presley bought this 500 acres of land in 1957 from The Toof Family at the ripe age of 22. While it doesn’t scream “Neverland”, it certainly has some unusual, odd decor. There was “The Conga Room”, with its 70’s classic “green” carpet not only on the floor, but, wait for it– on the walls! As well as another unique room with bright, neon decor and a statue of a white monkey (Below. This is when I thought of Neverland).

Parents bedroom

Parents bedroom


A devoted family man, one of Elvis’ biggest dreams was to take care of his parents. Growing up in the humble town of Tupelo, Mississippi, The Presley’s struggled to keep food on the table and nothing made Presley more proud, than rewarding his parents with living at Graceland. We got to take a peek at Mr. and Mrs. Presley’s room. It looked just like it did in the 1960’s.

If you want to see nearly every single gold record of Elvis Presley’s, as well as movie posters and memorabilia, Graceland will not disappoint. Entering his room of records and achievements was a startling reminder at why this man has been hailed, time and time again, as The King.

You will also get to visit his Vegas room. Presley was the pioneer of entertainment in Las Vegas and after the success of his short run,  was one of the first to pave the way for a residency show in Sin City.

Lisa Marie's swing set.

Lisa Marie’s swing set.


As you continue through the tour, you will eventually wind up outside and get to see some of the most beautiful gardens and landscaping ever. I was not expecting to be taken aback at the roses and trees that adorn the back yards of Graceland.

As you make your way past the pool, we enter some very sobering territory. Elvis, as well as his twin brother, Aaron, and his parents, are buried on the grounds and fans flock for a picture of The King’s grave.

Something I loved hearing on our audio tour were words from Presley’s only child, Lisa Marie. Speaking so highly of her Dad, she insists she just knew him as “Dad” and not the super star. She also discusses just how KIND Elvis was. “We all come from the same God, and we need to take care of each other” Presley himself once said. If you were a local in need, or one of the many charities he supported, Presley was always quick to share his fortunes with others.



Seeing many of the entertaining rooms (kitchen, Conga Room, pool room), it looks very clear that The Presley’s loved to surround themselves with friends, family and great people for some laughs, drinks….maybe a banana peanut butter sandwich?

With many new improvements to The Graceland tour, one of their best moves has got to be their audio tour guide. It S indeed, no other than Uncle Jesse himself, John Stamos! While no references are made to his alter-ego’s love for Presley, you definitely feel like a pro is leading you around the legend’s home (even if you did not know the Full House connection).

With so many more stops to see, we were glad we got a fairly early start to Graceland. Touring the mansion easily can be enjoyed for 2 hours, or, more, if you enjoy reading every little tid bit and checking out those suits and records. If you have little ones in tow, the Graceland staff is very accommodating to help you get strollers down or up stairs or taking it outside for you should the space be narrow (A few parts of the home have very tiny stairwells) .

Tip: They like you to snap your pictures after the tour, and before you line back up for the shuttle.

Tip: They like you to snap your pictures after the tour, and before you line back up for the shuttle.

If you need ADA/Wheelchair accessibility, you’ll be happy to hear that Graceland is accessible except for the 2 basement rooms (with that tiny staircase) and the airplanes.

With so much more to see and share, I will be doing a Graceland part 2 article all about my experience seeing his automobiles and trains. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, check out their website HERE to start planning your own visit. You will not be disappointed. xo

(Disclosure: A huge thank you to Graceland for providing me with media credentials to support this article. All opinions are my own.)

Southern Hospitality and Plenty of Gluten Free in The South!


I have been so fortunate to take some pretty awesome trips recently, and, you know what has been the icing on the cake (sometimes, literally)? The abundance of GLUTEN FREE options I have come across at most of my stops!

We just got back from a gorgeous Fall trip to the south. With stops in Memphis and Huntsville, I admit I was a little skeptical for this trek. I had images of the south being lots of fields and not much to do. Boy, was I wrong! Not only is Memphis quite the metropolitan city, and Huntsville combines the small town life with plenty for the family to do, but, nearly all restaurants we dined at had gluten-free menus!

After our day at The Memphis Zoo (I don’t know where to start at telling you about this amazing zoo and aquarium), we were famished and I encouraged Michael to pick where he would like to go. I knew he had one thing on the brain: Southern BBQ! We all know this was not a thrill for me, but, seeing him so happy made me happy 😉

Central BBQ is a small local chain with many awards under their belt for “Best Ribs” and “Best BBQ.” Its a fast casual diner with a small dining room of tables and chairs, and lots of room on their patio to enjoy  their smoked delights.

What. Will. I. Order. Here? Were my main thoughts. I figured people in the south are all about the BBQ and fried foods, I bet they won’t know what gluten-free is! were my ignorant thoughts.

Well, folks–I was pleasantly proven wrong! The cashier was super helpful and when she realized I was attempting to order my Portobello Mushroom Sandwich without as bun due to my gluten issues, she showed me their gluten-free and allergen menu! Granted, the only dishes that could be prepped gluten-free were the meat items. I went ahead and tried the mushroom sandwich without the bread….or, the sauce….or the slaw. These were indicated as not safe on their specialty menu. I got a sad but humongous smoked and BBQ mushroom with a slab of amazingly smoked Gouda cheese on top. I piled up on the french fries much more, but, I know Central sandwiches must be delicious.

It was Michael approved and I did end up with a southern souvenir! 😉



On Saturday, we were in Huntsville, Alabama and headed out for lunch. When we pulled up at Jason’s Deli, once again, gluten-free anxiety attack going on here. A sandwich shop?!!?? I never go to deli’s! They’ve got bread in there!

And, guess what? The southern folks really had my back. Jason’s Deli proudly offers Udi’s Bread for those with gluten concerns and even a display of their Snickerdoodle cookies. I chose their Caprese Panini along with baked chips. I was mistaken and thought the chips were baked in-house. I inquired if they are also gluten-free, and they searched the entire back to check on this for me. When I discovered its their tortilla chips made in-house and the chips are simply Lay’s, I felt so bad for sending them on that goose chase (Lays are gluten-free).

The Caprese was spot on. It rivaled my usual I get in Santa Monica. Before it was ready, the cashier found me to alert me that my bread would be cross contaminated in the toaster, would I prefer the oven which is safe? I opted for that and loved every bit of it. Jason’s Deli is my go-to from now on when in Alabama!

For a fun date night and on the town in Huntsville, we headed to a local favorite, I Love Sushi. Once again, I was prepared for taking a risk but at-least having my gluten-free soy sauce bottle in tow. The menu at I Love Sushi was filled with “GF” symbols and GF soy sauce.  See a pattern here?! We shared a bunch of savory, delicious rolls and a highlight for me was The Tropical as it had mango on it. It sounded like a great idea, yet, I did not get much of the tropical taste I had hoped for. I did heart the Philly Roll. It had a great balance of cream to the fresh salmon.

Gluten free Red Velvet Cake. Photo: Mason Dixon's website

Gluten free Red Velvet Cake. Photo: Mason Dixon’s website

Did I mention its my birthday month? I happen to share my birthday with our friends son, Ryan (he calls us “Birthday Buddies”) and we decided to have an early celebration on our trip with a gluten-free cake from Mason Dixon.

Mason Dixon is proudly the only gluten-free dedicated bakery in Alabama. They also can make dishes vegan, too! I was surprised with a Rammer Jammer cake. When I first saw it on the table, I thought it looked yummy and the kids would be lucky to be enjoying that. When I realized it was gluten-free, I could not WAIT to try this baby!

Let me tell you, it was sweet as hell. You could easily share this cake with 6 or more guests as a small slab is aplenty. The cake was moist and filled with flavor, but, what really made it was the cream cheese frosting. If I were handed a bowl of this, we’d be in trouble.

On top of these wonderful eateries, you’ll be happy to know that all of the local stores have a gluten-free selection. From Target to Walmart and Publix, all my favorites were there.

Well done, Alabama and Tennessee. Well done!

Weekend Getaway on a Budget to Chico, California! #TravelTuesday

At Chico State.

At Chico State.

While I am a City Girl, I could easily see myself retiring (or just moving if the chance came) to Chico, California. A college town loaded with laid back vibes, warm Summer nights and a strong community bond, Chico lays just under two hours out of Sacramento, and is your gateway to Mount Shasta and Redding (home of Turtle Bay and The Sundial Bridge).

Having visited a couple of times to see one of my best friends and her family, Chico is the kind of town with Farmer’s Markets throughout the week, live music in the park and locally grown fruits and vegetables. I love being surrounded by so much nature, and the opportunity to take a hike in Bidwell Park in the morning, then swim in one of the local lakes by the afternoon.

If you are in search of a fun and affordable California road trip, stopping in Chico just might be for you!

Dinner and drinks at Tres Hombres.

Dinner and drinks at Tres Hombres.


If you want the ultimate Mexican cocktail, head on over to Tres Hombres on Broadway Street. A secret menu item, their Avocado Margarita will have you drinking like a real 530 local. If just Mexican food is what’s more on your mind, Tres is a locals favorite. Just be warned: Their drinks sneak up on you!

For breakfast, the place to go is Morning Thunder Cafe. With massive, share-able portions, you can imagine my excitement that this Mom and Pop’s “greasy spoon” offers many gluten-free dishes, including gluten-free pancakes AND toast! I had their Vegetarian Omelette and, as usual….was a bit skeptical of cream cheese inside the entrée. This would be along with avocado atop, too (I know–I get excited to order avocado anything). I decided to not omit it and was happy I did not. Strange at first, but, went very well with the avocado and veggies.

While my meal was delicious, Eric, Ariel’s fiance, had a less than happy experience and was unsatisfied with his dish. The staff offered to change out his breakfast and while he declined, they did not charge us for his plate.

They also offer original and French Roast coffee. Mmmm…..

Morning Thunder is perfect for families and everyone in between!

Breakfast at Morning Thunder.

Breakfast at Morning Thunder.

And, we all know I can devour a pizza, and luckily Chico has one of my favorite pizza parlors. Woodstock Pizza always makes me think of “college life” as fellow student-ville San Luis Obispo has a location on their main drag, as well. Even Ariel did not think this pie “tasted” like it was gluten-free. Get there before you’re too hungry, though: As they get busy.


If you’re wondering why I said Chico is ‘affordable’, their outdoor activities (especially in the Summer) are mostly free or affordable. Making it the perfect NorCal getaway for the camping loving family or the couple looking to bike around town and find some new hiking trails.

Bidwell Park

This 3,670-acre municipal park encompasses both sides of Big Chico Creek Canyon for a full five miles up into the foothills, making it a truly unique and spectacular retreat. There’s really no park like Bidwell anywhere else. The Lower Park gives you the option of swimming in ether the pool or one of the lakes, or head upward and hit their trails. I could spend every day of Summer here!

On their website, they list a total of 17 different trails from minor, easy trails to 10 mile and elaborate hikes. I like a challenge 😉


Paradise Lake.

In nearby Paradise (which feels a bit like the real thing to me, but, Ariel says it’s a play on words. Paradise used to be known for its gambling and casino community….get it, “Pair of Dice”??) spend the day fishing or reading a book at Paradise Lake in Magalia. Perfect for dogs, too!

Back on Broadway Street in Chico, no stop is complete without a visit to The National Yo Yo Museum. Yes, there is a National Yo Yo Museum, and its in Chico! You will easily see the most yo yo’s in your life. Plenty to buy, play with and even the largest anywhere. It’s about 5 feet tall!

If you are a BEER lover, Chico truly is for you. Sierra Nevada Brewery calls Chico home. While I have not visited the brewery, they do offer daily tours! Get more info HERE.


After countless adventures of food, hikes, water, bikes, beers and yo yo’s (Oh my!), head back to relax and freshen up at nearby Motel 6. Motel 6 is an oldie but a goody. Less than 3 miles from Chico State University, Motel 6 completes keeping this NorCal trip on a budget. Most rooms are under $100 a night, and boasts all the amenities you have come to expect when traveling.

My 1st Dutch Brothers coffee!

My 1st Dutch Brothers coffee!


Something in Northern California that is much like SoCal’s In ‘n Out Burger is Dutch Brothers Coffee. Having heard of this widely popular drive thru only coffee-house, Dutch Brothers has really made their fan base with remembering the ol’ reliable: Great customer service. The barista’s are FUN and were just as excited as I was that it was my first visit!  They gave me a frequent stamper card that just needed 1 more for a free drink. When I returned to use my card at the Paradise location, Kyle could not have been more sweet and gave us both our drinks for free!

And, was my iced triple shot latte as awesome as the people? Absolutely!

I could go on all day about Chico and its surrounding areas. Let me know if you get the chance to visit! xo



Grocery Outlet Knocks 20% more off ALL Cereals & Giveaway ends 10/14!


(*Special thanks to Grocery Outlet for helping feed my shopping addiction and sponsoring today’s chat!)

I am ALL about frugal shopping. Whether its staying under a $100 budget at the holidays, or, when I am baking cupcakes for a get together, I always start out at the discount stores. Lately? I have been obsessed with Grocery Outlet.

Funnily enough, Grocery Outlet was never on my radar until Ariel (Remember my NorCal friend?!) showed me her adorable bobble heads of The Grocery Outlet “Frugal Friends”; There’s Lois Prices, Ben Saven (Get it?!!?) and other hilarious mascots of the bargain market chain. How could I resist seeing what Grocery Outlet was all about, when they had such adorable team members?!


Since then, I have become rather addicted to cruising the aisles of Grocery Outlet and VERY pleased with the variety of goodies available. Recently, I ran to another  store and bought the usual necessities I get at Grocery Outlet….then, was floored at how much more money I spent! Michael and I are big cereal people….and complete opposites. While he grabs Cap’n Crunch, I am looking for the Rice Chex (or the Chocolate Chex for Muddie Buddies–Mmmm).

Because of our different faves, we had made a rule to switch off our selections, since cereal is not usually cheap. Then? I started bringing us home EACH our own box once I went to Grocery Outlet. Yes, folks–this is how awesome Grocery Outlet is! They’re usually 40-60% off the average price at the competitor markets.


Does your family love Star Wars? Can't beat 99 cents!

Does your family love Star Wars? Can’t beat 99 cents!

I was so excited when I found out that now through October 11th, they have knocked the cereal prices down to an extra 20%. This is up to 80% off over 50 cereals.

Grocery Outlet was kind enough to offer a reader of mine a $50 gift card to help you experience the bargain market for yourself AND create your own cereal recipe. Whether it be Rice Krispy treats, a cereal lover’s pie or the Chex Muddie Buddies, I wanna know what your recipe would be with cereals!

Enter using the form below before October 14th, 2016. Good luck and I’ll see you at Grocery Outlet! 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway


(*Winner will be selected at random. Giveaway open to legal residents of the USA 18 and over. One entry per email. Sponsor will provide gift card to winner. No purchase necessary.)





A Wine Walk in San Carlos, California. #WineWednesday


Have you ever been to San Carlos, California? I will admit, I had not even heard of this fun, contemporary town until my “Fresh As it Gets” media tour in San Mateo County last month. Located right in the middle between The San Francisco Peninsula and San Jose, San Carlos is a humble community of about 30,000 and, as of late, is building up their name in a little industry called…..WINE.

I was a bit surprised, and very intrigued, to find out that our wine and beer walk with my IFWTWA peeps would take us to the streets of San Carlos to experience their wineries and brewery.

Beginning our journey on Washington Street, we arrived at Cuvee Wines and I must say, I was immediately a fan as their modern, loud colors to their couches and decor was very Mary approved….


I always appreciate the clever use of displaying barrels……so inviting, no?!

Cuvee has built their following with releasing several Bordeaux inspired wines that do bring to mind what we love about the French reds, while you can also appreciate the California roots brought to you from Cuvee owner, Paul Rogerville.

Starting out with a Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, I chose this white as it was produced in stainless steel, and, I have found that repeatedly is my jam. This was an interesting glass since on first nose it had stronger, vibrant notes; especially of lemon and tropical fruits. On my first sip? Much more mellow, a bit too light for my taste, even.

Realizing I was in the mood for something more on the bold side, I gravitated towards a ’11 Merlot. It made me absolutely CRAVE a great pizza. This Merlot had jam and preserve notes after a swirl and sniff, then, downright pungent notes of cheese on the palette, with some subtle pepper-y moments. It was a heavenly red!

While I thought that was THE red for me that day, and it would be hard to find another favorite….who was I kidding? We were only at stop #1 and now on our way to visit Russian Ridge Winery. An adorable “Hole in the wall” style winery, The Townsend Family opened up shop on Washington Street in 2011 and have been producing around 1,000 cases of wine a year ever since.

Spencer, Joan and Dwayne Townsend.

Spencer, Joan and Scott Townsend.

The Russian Ridge’s 2012 Concerto quickly took over my heart. A Cabernet dominant red blend of the 5 Bordeaux varietals, this blend made me feel at home. Bold? Yes. Huge? Nope. Just right. Good, full-bodied, yet great even if you’re not in search of a particularly bold glass. The addition of Merlot to even out the tannin’s is brilliant, and leaves you with a slight spiciness, and some fruit.

The Townsend’s truly know how to make their customers feel at home and usually you will always have at-least 2 of the family members on hand to answer any wine-y questions you may have, or keep you in the loop on the latest San Carlos skinny.

Next up we headed to the adorable and family friendly Flying Suitcases Wines. I cannot think of a better winery for a group of travel writers to visit! Flying Suitcases is all about celebrating life and adventure. With bright, air-y colors to their walls, and travel quotes to go with their Hans Christian Anderson inspired name, Owner Vikki Vinther and her husband came to San Mateo from Denmark and decided to open a winery that would be perfect for people like themselves: Parents!

While mom and/or Dad can sit back and relax with a glass of their Nostalgia (Chardonnay) or Wanderlust (Zinfandel…did I mention all their labels have fun names?!) the kids can check out their play room with plenty of books and toys to keep them busy.



Adults and kids alike love the paintings at Flying Suitcases

After so many great wines, we decided to change things up a little and head to Devil’s Canyon Brewery. I was so impressed with the size of this brewery. Gotta love its humble beginnings as a warehouse! Boasting a stage that makes it a great concert venue, Devil’s Canyon also has access to a handy alley way that has become the Friday go-to in San Carlos to catch a food truck or two!

While most wineries in town are only open on weekends, Devil’s Canyon is open solely on Fridays while the other six days a week are reserved for crafting and brewing their award-winning beers. While you can’t grab a cold one too often at the brewery, not to fear: Devil’s Canyon beers are the ales of choice in San Mateo County and distributed locally! 😉

Are you still with me?! We’ve got one more awesome spot to go! After we said our goodbye’s at the brewery, we took a quick stroll over to Domenico Winery. From their website:

Dominick and Gloria Chirichillo’s choice of name for their winery is a reflection of their commitment to their Italian heritage and the tradition of family winemaking. Dominick (Domenico in Italian) was introduced to these traditions by his Nonno (grandfather), Domenico Giovinazzo in New York in 1955. In the basement of their home was a wine-press that Nonno showed Dominick, passing down from one generation to another the love of handcrafting wine. For the love of his Italian heritage, Dominick specializes in Cal-Italia varietals; Primitivo, Aglianico, Montepulciano, Barbera, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Nero d’Avola and Sagrantino. Domenico currently produces more than 20 varietals.

Dominick’s passion for wine making took him from amateur competitions while he lived on the East Coast, to commercial status after moving to Northern California. Moving to California has enabled Dominick to choose his grapes hands-on from selected vineyards in Napa Valley, Sonoma’s Central Coast, Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, Amador County and the Lodi District. In 2001 Dominick established his own vineyards in Amador County, where he planted 5 acres of Syrah and 3 acres of Primitivo that go into his award-winning, hand-crafted wines. Additionally, he is a member of the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association, where he sources Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. As of 2016, the wines of Domenico have won 350 Medals for wines produced from these various regions!

Like Devil’s Canyon, Domenico got its start as an “Ugly, empty warehouse” (Chirichillo’s words) and can easily hold a party or event in a unique, dimly lit setting as you enjoy your award-winning vino’s.

We were also treated to a fun tour of where he magic happens and the wines are made, as well as chatting with one of Domenico’s team members, Matt Hall, while he literally made wine!


Yes, I may have tried this straight from the bin!

Yes, I may have tried this straight from the bin!

If you find yourself up in Northern California, do yourself a favor and pay a visit to some or all of these wonderful bars. Its a labor of love and you can truly taste it in every glass! Huge thank you to all of the above San Carlos establishments who made this day possible. xo


Choosing Social Media Platforms Wisely. #SocialMediaMonday


Something I often encounter when collaborating with clients who are new to social media is the idea that they need to be on all of the networks. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, Snapchat, Google Plus, Tumblr, even Meetup. While I do have accounts with all of them for blog purposes, that doesn’t mean I am very active on each account.

Ask any of my followers, and I bet they would vote between Twitter, Instagram and Facebook that I mostly use for Along Comes Mary. Twitter is hands down my favorite to interact with friends and readers, share what I am up to, support others by retweeting their tweets and so on. Instagram….whats not to love? As someone who takes a lot of photos of my dogs, I have to be careful not to post on there throughout the day (to utilize those filters, if anything). As far as Facebook, I probably only post 3 times a day tops on my blog page. While my personal page, I sometimes will do more if its a busy week or we are on a fun trip, or there are too many good wine memes I see.

Since I have been asked what makes each of these platforms unique, I thought for Social Media Monday I would break down a few for you!


The birth of a hashtag was easily born with Twitter. Twitter enables its users to post 140 or less characters in their posts (But, coming soon, rumor is there will be no character limit on Twitter. I have mixed thoughts on that). You can “tag” users (Like my tweet below to Graceland) and by using popular hashtags, you will be apart of searches for said hashtags.

I think Twitter can be great for ANYONE, but, especially small businesses. Custom hashtags, giveaways, announcements, connections, are all great marketing tools available by using Twitter.



Another platform that thrives on hashtags, Instagram has become quite the teacher’s pet since it got popular about 5 years ago. They do one thing, and they do it right: Your photography. While some may argue that Instagram has made us all think we are photographers, its a pretty great app and even better if photography is your trade.

Take a picture on your phone, or even in the Instagram app, frame it, select from 23 awesome cool, various filters, write your caption, throw in some hashtags (30 or less), and voila, you have a masterpiece. This would be perfect for a boutique, shop, medical office….ANYONE could really customize and make their Instagram page fun. Show off your employees, new stock in your store, or, if you’re like me, I love using mine to promote my blog posts. Like this:




I love the idea of Pinterest, but, personally? Its a bit more time consuming. But, when I use it more? I get great results back to my blog and traffic. Pinterest thrives on great pictures to “pin” onto a board on your account. If, say, you want to save a bunch of great “Gluten-Free Pancakes” recipes, you would put them onto that board. If you are a business that does not post original content or blog articles to your web-site, Pinterest may not be for you.

If you ARE a blogger, DIY-er or have great content to promote, Pinterest is awaiting for you. Most bloggers will tell you its their best source for traffic.

Snapchat, Stumble Upon, Linkedin–Say what?

I admit: I have become a Snapchat whore. I love this app that enables you to take a picture or video, add filters to it, send to “Your Story” for all to see, or just select certain friends, then, ut it goes for the world to see. Once they see it? Unless you save it, it goes bye bye bye forever. Anything you add to “My Story” automatically deletes in 24 hours, whether or not your followers have viewed it.

Stumble Upon has been uh-may-ZING for my traffic to Along Comes Mary. I simply add a link to my article, stumble it, stumble 50-100 pages of categorized content after and that increases my chance of more ‘stumblers’ seeing my content, going to my blog and then stumbling the page for more to see. It sounds time consuming, but its super simple and beneficial. I also utilize Stumble Upon for travel articles I add to the IFWTWA Facebook….or my own.

Linkedin has become far more than the professional’s Facebook. There are amazing groups, business pages and several ways to connect with colleagues and potential clients. Something I highly recommend is creating a business page on LinkedIn. Example: I am in the works to make a LinkedIn page for Along Comes Mary that I will be able to ‘tag’ on my Mary Lansing page so anyone interested to learn more about myself and my services can click from my personal page.

I hope this is helpful for you! As always, I am available for consulting and social media managing. Email me anytime at 🙂

Supporting The Friends of Griffith Park at Nordic Noir

VIP reception sponsored by Fandango

VIP reception sponsored by Fandango

When I headed out on a scorching warm LA day (106 high!) to Griffith Park’s Greek Theatre last weekend, I knew that I would be in for some great music from The Danish Film Harmonics’ and Film composer, Jacob Groth, but, no idea how much appreciation I would gain for the park’s wild life.

As we entered the Fandango VIP lounge, I admit I jumped back a bit when I saw a life-size, life-like cut out of a mountain lion, on hand for a cute photo opp. As we enjoyed our drinks and Nordic cuisine, we took in the sights and scenery that is irresistible when you go to Griffith Park. Even the heat had subsided, and it was quite easy to wonder just how close you are to a wild animal. One thing is for sure, they must hear some great live music every summer! 😉

Nordic cuisine

Nordic cuisine

The performance began with a beautiful local choir performance, then we were introduced to some of the “friends” that make up The Friends of Griffith Park. Remember that mountain lion cut out that scared me at the reception? Well, turns out that is no other than the infamous, P22.

Sounding like something straight out of a Walt Disney Presents episode (anyone remember Country Coyote goes Hollywood?!), this mountain lion was first spotted in Griffith Park in 2012 while researchers at the park were using thirteen remote cameras at potential wildlife corridors across the Hollywood Freeway/Cahuenga Pass area which divides Griffith Park and contiguous wildlife habitat from the rest of the Santa Monica Mountains.

More research determined that P22 had made this seemingly inconceivable journey to Griffith Park from Santa Monica!


Photo on the screen of P22, enjoying the sights.

Usually, mountain lions would NOT select somewhere as metropolis as Griffith Park’s neighborhood, Los Feliz, to set up shop. With welcome arms from the biologists and the rest of the Parks and Rec staff, P22 has definitely become quite the celebrity and reason for the critical research conducted by The Friends of Griffith Park.

Able to temporarily capture him, P22 was given a tracker collar so his whereabouts can be monitored. While some may frown upon this, it actually is a GOOD thing as P22 caught a near fatal infection awhile back and required medical care after he consumed pest poison in the neighborhood. This is one of the friends biggest concerns and what they are advocating: Co-existing with the urban and wild lives.

Griffith Park is an escape for visitors and Angelino’s alike. Smack in the middle of LA, you can hike the trails, stroll Fern Dell and visit the observatory. Hundreds of acres have made this an oasis for wild life. Yet, with homes and traffic jams just minutes from the haven, it  can be hard to have the urban co-exist with the wild life.

Jacob Groth and The Danish Film Harmonics.

Jacob Groth and The Danish Film Harmonics.

While P22 is fine and well (and roaming as I type I am sure!), I was saddened to learn that in easily fifty years mountain lions could be extinct if not for the efforts of people like The Friends of Griffith Park are doing.

This fabulous introduction led us to an hour-long performance from Jacob Groth and The Danish Film Harmonic. Groth has composed for several Danish films and is probably best known for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Seeing glimpses from these films as the performers played tracks from them added to the rousing performance!

On October 22nd, The Friends have declared it P22 Day and will have a festival to celebrate and bring awareness to the urban wild life. Learn how to create Certified Wildlife Habitats in your own backyard, school or business.

John Griffith of the California Conservation Corps will lead his famous BioBlitz Dance with crew members on the stage, and staff from the Natural History Museum will participate in recording wildlife sightings during the day.

And, Ranger Rick and P22 will both be making appearances, along with several other celebrities and TBA guests. Make your plans to attend HERE!

A big thank you to the friends for having me, and I hope to see you to celebrate P22 on October 22nd! xo


Enter the World of King Louie XIV on Ovation’s New Series, Versailles.


(*Special thanks to Ovation TV for sponsoring today’s post! All opinions are my own.)

As Michael and I continually try to narrow down the itinerary for a a “two week-ish” European trip in the near future, one country is definitely staying on the bucket list: France. While there is the obvious, four letter reason why I want to experience it (Wine), I am also fascinated with the rich history to explore and get lost in.

Along with The Louvre and visiting Monet’s home, I am intrigued to at last go between the walls of The Hall of Mirrors at The Palace of Versailles. The château built for King Louie XIV in the Île-de-France region of France, it lays only about 15 miles from Paris, and well, who would NOT want to say they have been here??

For those of us who cannot walk through this mansion on a hop, skip and a jump, can at-least dive into the world of King Louie XIV and revisit the 17th century in Ovation TV’s newest drama, Versallies. Premiering October 1st, Versailles captures the romance, drama and betrayal that surrounds The Sun King as well as showcasing the beauty in the high society of that time. Having adored The Tudor’s back in the day, this is certainly a welcomed return to the era on television! From their web-site:

“At 28, King Louis XIV of France commissions Versailles, the most beautiful palace in Europe, which serves as the King’s gilded prison – keeping his friends close and enemies closer.

Enter a world of untold wealth, power, and passion. Where love and lust are just a heartbeat away from deceit and betrayal.

Experience Versailles in all its brutal glory. Only on Ovation.”


From homosexual affairs to infidelity, Versailles will capture every nook and kranny that went down in The 17th Century leading up to The French Revolution.

Some other cool facts I came across…..

In the 19th century the “Museum of the History of France” was founded in Versailles, at the behest of Louis-Philippe I, who ascended to the throne in 1830.

The Hall of Mirrors is easily the most famous room. It has 17 huge mirrored arches opposite 17 windows. Each one of the arch contains 21 mirrors, which makes it a massive 357 in all. The hall is 73 meters (239.5 feet)  long, 10.5 meters (34.4 feet)  wide, and 12.3 meters (40.4 feet) high. The ceilings of the hall have intricate paintings and the borders of the wall are decorated with gilded statues. The several glass chandeliers that hang from its ceiling, are another beautiful aspect of the hall. On special occasions, the Hall of Mirrors was lit with as many as 20,000 candles to transform it into a “corridor of light”.

The Palace of Versailles cover an area of 8,150,265 square meters (87,728,720 square feet), or 2,014 acres, making it the World’s Largest Royal Domain.

The palace itself contains 67,002 square meters (721,206 square feet) of floor space.

The Versailles is OPEN to the public and you can plan your visit HERE.

If you are as excited for Versailles as I am, make sure you have Ovation! If you don’t, use the area locator search bar on their official website to find out how to get it!

Versailles premieres Sunday, October 1st, at 10pm ET/PT.





Support Friends of Griffith Park at Nordic Noir LA!

On September 25th, join me at The Greek Theatre for Nordic Noir LA, a one-of-a-kind benefit for Friends of Griffith Park, a non-profit charitable group, at the Greek Theatre here in LA! This world-class concert is hosted by internationally recognized film composer Jacob Groth and the Danish Film Harmonics as they offer the LA community an opportunity to experience the acclaimed soundtrack for the film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Come and take part in the effort to conserve our beloved city’s environment and urban wildlife. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. Concert begins at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are selling fast HERE.

I’m so honored to have had the opportunity to interview Groth, and learn a bit more about himself and his incredible music career.

Can you tell me a bit about life growing up in Denmark? Whereabouts do you hail from?

I was born in Copenhagen,grew up with 2 younger brothers, and 3 kids from my fathers first marriage.

So, A lot of noise and …sometimes a little fighting too! I was a teenager before I found an interest in music, but, when I found music,I knew that that was the right thing for me.

2) I think any artist will agree that performing at The Greek is always a ‘bucket list’ venue. What makes The Greek a special place for you?

The Greek is special to me because its in that very same park that I am supporting with my concert,and because its an iconic venue where the greatest artist have performed.
Me  and my orchestra “The Danish Film harmonics” cannot wait to go on
stage this weekend!
Do you have any particular influences for your music, when writing for a film score?
Its always the story that inspires me,the mood ,the acting,the pictures…


 What can your audience expect at this performance?
The Audience is coming with me on a journey into 9 different  Groth scores performed as one symphony.Its both action,thriller,love and everything in between. We also have a back screen showing scenes from feature-film like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo mixed with more abstract images.
Whats next for you and your music?
I am gonna stay in LA for a while doing the score for an amazing new TV-Show called Midnight Texas and also write the score for Flatliners,a very cool remake of that film from the 90’s.
Hope to see you this Sunday at The Greek! Mange Tak! 😉 (That means Much Thanks in Danish and is about how much Danish I can speak. I try to practice, but, have yet to learn it better. ) xo

Hiking at Escondido Falls Trail in Malibu….


Picture: Michael Farah.

So, granted, when I returned home from my Chico trip? I could not stop talking about Burney Falls. To see such a giant waterfall before me, and that setting, it took my breath away. Anxious to continue on my nature “kick”, Mike found us a great hiking trail in nearby Malibu.

Escondido Falls Trail is right off Pacific Coast Highway in the trendy beach community. While you need to clearly read all street signs, it is quite easy to find parking right off the highway (and thank goodness for porta potties before you start your journey–that will be your only chance for a restroom, FYI!).

As we began up the hill, we were surrounded by gorgeous houses, some in the midst of being built. The beach views were to die for. Then, to your left, you will see the sign leading you to the trail (See my picture above)


While I huffed and puffed a bit up to the beginning of the trail (I think it’s because I’d been at The LA Food and Wine Festival the evening before–way too much wine and food and fun), I got into my groove and the trail was, overall, flat and easy, except for a couple of inclines but its laid out well enough that even if you have restrictions, you can still easily navigate through without too many high lifts, squats and no climbing at all.

You will hit a point when you need to choose whether to take the high or the low trail. We stayed low and hung a left. While it was a good 2-3 miles, we at last found our way to the “Falls”. Sadly, the drought has definitely effected the amount of water here, but, nonetheless, it still was a great ending place to chill-lax with other hikers, dogs and enjoy being surrounded by nature.

Black and white vibes.

Black and white vibes.

While you could take your chances and not take the same direction back out of the trail, we played it safe and followed our same way. If you’re looking for an ultra fun outdoors environment to take some pictures, Escondido is a great option….

Picture: Michael Farah.

Picture: Michael Farah.

Picture: Michael Farah.

Picture: Michael Farah.

As we made our way back down to PCH, guess where we had to dip our toes?

With the beach right there, that was a welcoming break and cool down!


Make sure you’re comfortable with the weather. This is an “easy” hike in that it is mostly flat walking, but, you’re still looking at 5-6 miles on the trail. Pack water and sunscreen. I would call this a great hike for beginners or those who don’t do intense hiking/jogging.

Have you ever been out to Escondido Trails? 🙂 xo

Weekend Getaway: Half Moon Bay, CA. #TravelTuesday

Having loved The San Francisco Bay Area since I was very young, this past month was a real treat for me as I headed out on The Fresh As it Gets Media tour with my fellow IFWTWA members and our hosts from The San Mateo/Silicon Valley CVB. I spent a week up north exploring and learning so much about this beautiful county that boasts lush vallies and mountains on one side, and, the other end? The bay, baby. From visiting Harley Goat Dairy Farm to Pillar Point Harbor, from beautiful wine tastings to world-class meals, I cannot wait to tell you about these excursions in the coming weeks.

Our first stop in this series? Half Moon Bay. A town that’s been on my radar, but I had no idea just how gorgeous the often dubbed, “Seaside Hamlet”, truly is.

Sidewalk sale on fabric!

Sidewalk sale on fabric!


Something is mighty clear when you run away to the coast: You can usually, always, find delicious food. I was reminded that when we headed to lunch at local fave, Pasta Moon.  A “Fresh As it Gets” award winner, Pasta Moon is the brain child of local Kim Leddes; “Pasta Moon started out as a passionate concept where I could keep myself busy and enjoy the lifestyle of a small coastal town.” Kim explains on her website, “Originally Pasta Moon was a place for people to dine on cuisine derived of locally grown organic produce, fish, meats and cheese supplied from local ranchers and dairies. Soon however my love for Italian cuisine compelled an ever-growing compulsion to express my creativity in the kitchen and had me composing variations on classic Italian dishes.”

Known for the best lasagna around, every single dish I saw go by me, looked fabulous, and with our starter salads and soups (I had a tomato based veggie soup that bursted with flavor), it was very clear just how dedicated Pasta Moon is to bringing their diners the best, and most local, ingredients.

Pasta Moon lunch.

Pasta Moon lunch.

Seafood Paella at La Costanera.

Seafood Paella at La Costanera.

And, my #1 priority: Good gluten-free pasta! I was in luck as I was immediately asked if I would like brown rice linguine or corkscrew pasta. I chose linguine with seasonal veggies tossed in olive oil. Often, I find that even if I enjoy a gluten free pasta noodle dish, the noodles tend to get dried out, and downright sticky. At Pasta Moon? They were moist, tender, and tasted like the real deal down to my last bite. Bravo, Pasta Moon!

For dinner, I would be experiencing Peruvian cuisine ocean side at the popular La Costanera. With countless awards under their belt, this Montana Beach eatery combines slick, ocean side dining with a unique blend of flare. Much of which is the result of South Peru native, Chef Carlos Altamirano. Whether its their Churrasco (Grass fed Creekstone Black Angus Ribeye steak, Yucca Fries, chimichurri andino) you’re in the mood for, or their Vegetarian fave, Quinotto  (Quinoa-pumpkin stew, choclo, veggies, parmesano Crispy tomatoes and anticucho de hongos), La Costanera has expertly crafted the ultimate hot spot in Half Moon Bay to accommodate all of their diner’s wants and needs.

And, no visit is complete without getting their signature drink:  A Pisko Sour…..


I admit, I enjoyed some amazing glasses of wine, and just stole a sip of the Pisco. Thoughts? It had an egg in it, which was intriguing, but, a bit too frothy for an alcoholic drink, for my preference. If you are a Pisco Sour fan? You will love it.


Before dinner, we began our evening at  nearby Pacifica’s A Grape In the Fog Wine Bar. Unbeknownst to us, we were arriving in the middle of the many weekly Farmers Markets. This was a true reminder that San Mateo County is “As Fresh As it Gets”. The tomatoes were gorgeous colors of scarlet red to lighter shades of rose, as well some yellow’s to take note of.

At A Grape in the Fog, Redding native Beth Lemke had a dream of opening up a coffeehouse to create a space for the locals to gather, socialize, hear some good music and enjoy some drinks. Change those dreams from latte’s to wines from around the world, and you’ve got yourself Grape in the Fog! With a menu that is always changing, Lemke has indeed made an environment that could easily find a student getting some reading in while enjoying a glass of Pinot Noir, or meeting up for an online date to break the ice over a Chardonnay and hear a local musician perform.

Beth Lemke, Owner, Grape in the Fog.

Beth Lemke, Owner, Grape in the Fog.

I loved this mural in Half Moon Bay!

I loved this mural in Half Moon Bay!



When I arrived at Half Moon Bay Lodge, I loved the laid back vibes….and, even cookies during check-in! Half Moon Bay Lodge is nestled 5 miles outside the hustle and bustle of the main drag and mere minutes from the water. Something I rarely get to take advantage of is a pool and Jacuzzi when I travel. Had I remembered my swim suit? They offer a heated pool, outside fireplace and chairs and tables aplenty for the ultimate stay.


If you are in search of a banquet or event hall, they have you covered with a fantastic meeting room that opens out to the pool. (Great nook to enjoy your breakfast, too).

Half Moon Bay is only a half hour from The San Francisco Airport, and 45 minutes from San Jose. It is such a romantic getaway, and enough to do right in the area that you will easily not even leave the city limits! xo


McArthur-Burney Falls State Park: California’s Very Own “Niagara Falls”!


When I returned home from my Chico trip, I could not stop talking about our road trip to Burney, California. Burney is a humble, small town (under 5,000 people) that has easily one of the best kept travel secrets around: Burney is home to The  Burney Falls. At 129-feet, Burney Falls is not the highest or largest waterfall in the state, but, could still be dubbed  the “Niagara Falls” of California and is one of the most beautiful state parks I have been to. (Granted, I have not been to Niagara Falls, but, still–). To think, I had never heard of Burney Falls until my BFF, Ariel, asked if I would be down for a road trip while I visited as she had never been.

From Chico, we were looking at a good 3 hour trek to Burney, and we discovered the ultimate pit stop: An hour of jumping and being as silly as we could possibly be at Rare Air Trampoline Park in Redding. Little did I know just how much I needed this in my life. I let loose and enjoyed every moment (in between water breaks). Who knew what a workout jumping is?!

Then, onward we went to at last find our falls. When we arrived, we got a bit turned around as to which road to use, and ended up parking right off a trail on the opposite side of the main entrance. It takes a bit longer to get to the destination, but very well worth it. Check out our view as we walked up to the park, and the quotable benches…..


The weather was nearly 100 degrees or more in Shasta County. Yet, after we walked down to the falls? I was wishing I had a jacket. The air was crisp, cool. The scene as I made my way down the small hike? It was so serene, not even my pictures could truly capture it…..

Funny story, I got very lost from my friends after a “quick” bathroom run! Word to the wise: Stay together if you go to Burney Falls as their “Restroom” signs are deceiving and I actually RAN down the trail looking for everyone. But, these waterfalls still managed to stop me in my tracks….

It literally took my breath away. I truly had not known what to expect, and was hoping there would actually be some water, and that it would not be a deserted area. It was filled with fellow tourists and families enjoying the sights. I admit, once we all found one another and went back down, I didn’t want to leave….

The park has 910 acres of forest and five miles of streamside and lake shoreline, including a portion of Lake Britton. They offer cabins and camping (And, of course–a gift shop!). Cool fact: Burney is apart of the infamous Pacific Crest Trail that Author, Cheryl Strayed, hiked across in her 20’s, and was turned into a recent Oscar nominated film with Reese Witherspoon .

I am so thankful for Ariel for wanting to take a road trip with me, her fiance and nephew out to this spectacular state park. I already cannot wait to return and I hope if you were unfamiliar with Burney, that I have now put it on your radar as it is a MUST SEE for all. Especially, though–California natives! Get more info HERE.