A Gluten Free Haven at Linn’s Restaurant.

During my time living up on the Central Coast of California in the Santa Ynez Valley, I always loved any chance I got to head to Cambria. Cambria is 30 miles north of San Luis Obispo, and 230 miles south from San Francisco. A humble, small town, Cambria is known for their stunning Moonstone Beach, as well as their annual Scarecrow Festival and a great Main Street drag of restaurants.

One of their dining staples is the absolute gem of a cafe, Linn’s. Linn’s Restaurant is known for their “Olallieberry”; a Youngberry crossed with a Loganberry. The primary fruit grown on their beautiful farm nearby, a Olallieberry tastes similar to the Knotts’ famous Boysenberry, or blackberry. While very tart, it did not provoke any crazy  “lip smacking” and was a great sweet treat…on the MANY dishes I recently got to experience on a visit to Linn’s!

Heading in on a rainy Sunday, we were quickly greeted by our Hostess, Kim and while the place was bustling, she assured us it would be less than a 20 minute wait. We were so engrossed with their bakery and gift shoppe that it felt more like a 5 minute wait. All decked out and ready for the holidays, Linn’s shoppe may not be ample, yet, they manage to have enough variety and beautiful adornments that you feel inside a proper department store.

Just a glimpse of their gift shoppe.

 

Gluten Free Olallieberry Muffin

We were soon escorted to our cozy corner table with a great window view of the rain coming down and the locals enjoying a stroll under their umbrellas. Mr. Linn himself, Aaron, soon came over to greet us and was an absolute delight to chat with. A Cambria native, The Linn’s have been operating their restaurant and farm since the 1980’s. If you want to know anything about Cambria and their townspeople, go have a chat with Aaron and he can fill you in on the what/where/when of the town. Great guy!

They’re also not shy to encourage you to try the entire menu. I was very excited to head to Linn’s as nearly everything is gluten-free (or they will gladly assist you if an item is not). Aaron’s Mom has Celiac, so they know first hand the excitement  you feel when you hear “Olallieberry Chocolate Brownie Cake….Gluten Free” or, my personal favorite: warm bread baskets that are gluten-free brought to your table.

We began our food journey with one of their most famous appetizers, their Ocean Rose Farm Abalone. Having not recalled experiencing Albalone, I was anxious to see why this is such a special dish. One bite, and I knew. Locally sourced Albalone from nearby Cayucos is served with two hazelnut encrusted medallions, lemon-thyme beurre blanc and a decadent jicama-jalapeño slaw. While not a gluten-free dish, simply mention if you need it to be, and they adjust the encrusted medallions for you. Perfection!

Albalone.

Moon Stone Beach Omelette.
Photo: Michael Farah.

Hearst Ranch Hamburger.
Photo: Michael Farah.

With so much already having gone down (chats with the locals, gluten-free galore, great coffee, great atmosphere), it was time for Mike and I to make our big decision: Whats for lunch?! I decided to take advantage of a late breakfast (Weekends they serve it until 2pm, other days, 12p) and try one of their favorite omelettes, The Moon Stone Beach with an abundance of Shrimp, Dungeness crab, tomato, green onion, mushrooms and Swiss cheese. While Mike decided on an old reliable: their Hearst Ranch Beef Cheese Burger with fries.

The Moon Stone omelette was to die for. The seafood so fresh, I would imagine it could have been caught that morning, while the flavor combinations of the cheese and veggies enhanced it perfectly. Mike enjoyed his burger, and the presentation was gorgeous and made it hard to want to dig in (Just a little….).

We were very stuffed by the time we had many options for dessert coming our way….check out what Aaron and staff insisted we try….

Photo: Michael Farah.

Photo: Michael Farah.

See all this, folks? Mike and I were able to get it all down…and, as some of you know, I am a Type 1 Diabetic. I am pleased to say with the proper amount of insulin injections that day, I was able to keep my sugars in a  good range! I truly thought this could be my last supper. Death of a sugar rush. And, what a great last supper it would have been! 😉

First up, was that irresistible chocolate brownie concoction, followed by their famous Pecan Chew Cookie Delight with Linn’s Pecan Chew Cookie, Brazilian Coffee ice cream, house made caramel sauce, candied walnuts and just a little real whipped cream. Bravo!

 While I could continue to share my love for Linn’s, I will end here, and trust that you will do yourself a favor and head to Linn’s next time you are in Cambria. Learn more about them HERE and make sure to tell them Along Comes Mary sent you! xo
(*Disclosure: I was a guest of Linn’s Restaurant in exchange for this feature. All opinions are my own and it was a phenomenal experience!)

 

Choosing Social Media Platforms Wisely. #SocialMediaMonday

market-your-product-using-social-media-platforms

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!

TWITTER

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.

graceland

INSTAGRAM

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:

ig

 

PINTEREST

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 alongcomesmary26@gmail.com 🙂

Lets Talk Pinterest! #SocialMediaMonday

Pinterest_logo-3

Happy fresh new week, peeps! I hope you had a wonderful weekend….and your coffee is strong for your Monday 😉 A few weeks ago, I attended a great class held at General Assembly in Santa Monica; General Assembly is the place to be if you have a passion for the internet and tech world. From web-design courses, to graphic design to social media, General Assembly has certainly proven themselves to be the hot spot for us tech nerds here in LA.

Having yet to make it out to one of their crash courses, I finally did when I heard the unstoppable Lindsay Tredent Mauch would be a leading a Social Media Boot Camp. My firm belief in life is that your peers should be those you want to be like in life; your role models, basically, and Lindsay is one of those peers. The 8 hour class was awesome and I look forward to reporting back in the coming weeks on some tips and tricks learned. This week? A few tid bits for letting PINTEREST build your empire!

So, Pinterest is this super handy web-site that enables readers on websites to share an article or picture they like on the web via Pinterest by “pinning” it to their board and therefore, more eyes see the article. Example:

Say, I read an incredible gluten-free recipe on a site like this one, I mosey on down to the share buttons at the end of the recipe and select that red “P”icon; That takes me to Pinterest and I decide to pin this post to my Food and Recipes board. Easy, right? Well, I have just helped spread the word further on this recipe and web-site.

While I have known many bloggers love Pinterest for its search, keywords and traffic abilities, hearing Lindsay speak of it reminded me that all those who care about social media should be on it, too. When you utilize Pinterest for your blog and web-site and use the right key words, Google will reward you as well as the site itself which has well over 100 million active users….a month. Insane, right? This is why you should be on Pinterest.

When I have had social media clients ask me about Pinterest, I am quick to say: Lets make you a blog tab. Having a web-site with simply a home page, About and Contact is not enough to help you with PInterest. Pinterest thrives on articles with great eye-catching pictures. This is because you need an article for a PInterest user to click onto once your picture on your Pinterest board attracts them.

Some of my boards....

Some of my boards….

Try this exercise….

If you are a writer/blogger: Share an article/post by you and when you see the sharing option appear, there should be a selection of pictures to choose from that are in the article. Choose the best one, put it on a board, ensure there are some good key words (Key words should be simple, nothing fancy. If it’s a travel piece on your time in, say, New York City, use that, as well as NYC, Travel, Manhattan, etc) and click pin. Then, do some re-pinning from similar boards. This will help your article get exposure.

If you don’t have a web-site with articles or a blog, try re-pinning some articles and pictures on your boards that are similar to you. Like any other social media channel, you need to put in some time and reciprocation in order to see re-pins, follow backs, etc.

As always, I am available for crash courses, social media management and tutorials if you’re ever interested! Contact me anytime at alongcomesmary26@gmail.com! 🙂

 

Those Times Adrien Brody and The Toyota Grand Prix Saved Me….

Last week, it was announced that this will be the final year of the infamous Celebrity/Pro Race , which has been a major selling point at The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, since 1980.

While Toyota has a multi-year deal with The Grand Prix of Long Beach and will be keeping its namesake, the auto company is moving its headquarters out  to Texas; and, thus, there really is no reason they feel to keep this staple of the weekend going.

This definitely is a “sign of the times” for me, and reminds me that I am not getting any younger, and that some of my most fondest memories grow older with me.

In 2009, I was on the verge of moving away from my very sheltered life in Solvang. During my teen years and early 20s, I was usually on my own; either working or holed up in my room, watching movies, writing like a crazy person and absorbing my music on my trusty headphones. Think of the character Simon and Garfunkel sing of in I Am a Rock.

Although, I didn’t mean to fit that song so well (“I have my books/and my poetry to protect me;/I am shielded in my armor,/Hiding in my room, safe within my womb./I touch no one and no one touches me.”) Those lines fit my life 10 years ago to a T, but, I didn’t mean to be an island! At last able to start a game plan, I came down to stay with my Grandma in Long Beach that Spring, and, discovered that while I would be in town, the race would be going down….and, that Adrien Brody, my favorite actor, would be in the Celebrity race.

Looking back, it is  humorous for me to even think that I fretted and wondered so much if I should try to go; Wouldn’t it be crowded? Where would I park? What if I get lost?! Yep, I was that girl. I continue to use “Baby Mary” as inspiration for getting out there more and attempting to lead an adventurous, curious life. But, those were my thoughts, yet, I wanted to go and find my future husband, er, Adrien, but, was afraid of being somewhere so new, on my own.

Alas, I went that Friday and Saturday; Friday brought me much trial and error but, thanks to awesome, friendly people, I navigated out my map to find Adrien, and, on Saturday?

2009

2009

2009 and my first time at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach represented so much in my life; a time of new beginnings, new hopes, new adventures. I moved out that Fall, on my own. Just me and my new Disneyland annual pass.

Some extremely difficult times in my life followed. Some, self-inflicted, and some rough patches? Just bad luck and lousy boys. When March, 2010, came, I found myself in one of the worst times in my life (the other will come). I ended up back home early from New York, in Solvang, nearly in a wheelchair and unable to walk with a bad knee. As hopeful as I felt the year prior, I felt no hope at ALL and it was all now complete hopelessness.

Then, guess what helped me get back on track?

2010

2010

When I was home up north, super depressed and not excited for a damn thing, as soon as I read Adrien would be returning to the race in 2010, it gave me that sense of hope once again. I had to get better. I had a lot of walking coming up the next month.

And, while I was not as cured as I am now from my knee (which I only just found out was most likely parvo virus), I made it to the race that year both days, and chatted with Adrien, and gave him his birthday gift.

Ready for another sob story?! Adrien saved the day once again when he was announced as a racer in the 2012 Grand Prix. That was another year that got off to a very bumpy start. Something that was an elephant in the room that I was not addressing was my depression. On top of that, I physically felt like crap. It was yet another “Could be worse, but could be better” time for me. I finally addressed my depression issues, and, on top of seeing Adrien once again, it was also when Along Comes Mary was launched!

Just like my first experience at The Grand Prix, 2012 was another time I was reminded at the kindness of folks: a lady in the VIP lounge noticed my never-ending lurking at the exit (waiting for Adrien). “Want to go in?” I look behind me, Is she talking to me? “I am going to head home and it looks like you’re waiting for someone. Take my pass!”

The ultimate “Toto, We’re not in Kansas anymore” moment; next thing I know, I am in THE lounge. Adrien and his family are 2 feet away from me enjoying their lunch. I am polite and don’t sit down, but, I do get a selfie!

2012

2012

While I am surprised and sad to see The Celebrity/Pro Race retire, I will ALWAYS be so grateful for all the times it felt like Adrien Brody was saving my life, or at-least cheering me up during some rough times, and always, that first time when I had on my rose-colored glasses.

Do yourself a favor and check out The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Its hands down the best weekend in the city, and you have one more chance to see the Celebrity/Pro Race. xo