Behind The Butter/ Travel

Weekend in Gualala

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We spent last weekend in one of our favorite seaside towns, Gualala. Adam and I had been craving a beach weekend for some time now and we made a spur of the moment decision mid-last week to just pick up and go on Friday! No time like the present, right? Adam was able to take a half day on Friday and we made the peaceful two hour drive during Grayson’s afternoon nap. He woke up right as we pulled in the house — perfect, right?

Gualala is special to us because we spent a fabulous weekend there about five years ago when we were dating. We visited again when we were engaged and were so excited visit as a family of three this time around!

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Gualala is a tiny town on the Mendocino Coast. If you blink, you might miss it, but that’s why we love it so much. We have a favorite pizza place there, and there’s a fabulous market and coffee shop/deli. What more do you need, really?

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This was Grayson’s second time to the beach and he made a BEELINE for the sand. He immediately dug his toes in and started to try to eat it, which I attempted to put a stop to, but man…the kid is fast. I figure if sand is the worst thing he ever puts in his mouth, it’s not so bad.

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I need to write his 8 month post but wow….the boy gets two teeth and a haircut and all of a sudden I feel like I have a toddler on my hands! No, really. Why is he four years old already?!

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We rented a little beach cottage through FlipKey and will absolutely be returning. We agreed it was the best vacation rental we have ever stayed at in our lives (here’s a link to the actual home we rented if you’re local and looking for a getaway!). The house had everything — board games, toys, a high chair, cushy robes for the hot tub, a bread machine, an ice cream maker, a whole cabinet of spices…you name it, the house had it. It makes more sense for us to rent a house through flipkey, vrbo or airbnb when we travel now because we like to put Grayson in his own room when possible. Being in a cramped hotel room that’s lights off at 7pm for bedtime doesn’t really feel like vacation in my book. Plus, we enjoy cooking our own meals!

The first night we were there, Adam and I grilled steaks on the deck after Grayson hit the sack. Grilled ribeyes, red wine and a hot tub with the ocean roaring was, quite possibly, my perfect dream evening. The second night we just grabbed pizza from “our” spot in town.

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Grayson enjoyed playing with bowls, measuring spoons and tupperware just like at home. Who needs baby toys when you have a tupperware drawer?

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It was the most relaxing getaway — maybe even weekend if I’m being honest — we’ve had since Grayson was born last May — partly because of his age and partly because of the gorgeous surroundings and weather.

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A few of you have asked about my ring slings because I mentioned how I didn’t like them in the babywearing post I wrote awhile back. Well, I have to report that I finally got used to them and now I use them all the time! Way more often than my wraps, actually, because I can easily and quickly pop Grayson in and out. Slings were the hardest for me to “get” but I’m glad I didn’t give up! I don’t know what I would do without them now…through travel, sickness (they really came in handy when Grayson had an ear infection and wouldn’t sleep laying flat!), and just day to day life, they have proved themselves indispensable.

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  • Kristin
    January 26, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    Great post! Reminds me of your weekend adventures before you had Grayson! Sounds heavenly. Love the beach too – so calming! I made your chicken chickpea soup tonight … it’s a regular beloved staple of mine!! I’ve been making it once a week lately!! It’s SO SO SO good! I put extra fresh ginger in it & yum, one of my all time favorite soups!!! It’s slurp the bowl good! 🙂 I think Grayson is looking more like you! He has your eyes & I see you in him when he smiles now.

  • Heather Mason
    January 26, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    These pictures are precious! I want to go to Gualala, that totally sounds like a made up town. Glad you had a good trip, house rentals are the best! I will definitely be checking out FlipKey.

  • JEss
    January 26, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    Jenna – I was looking at that picture of Grayson over your shoulder and thinking he looked like such a little boy and then you wrote the exact same thing. What a big month for him – sounds like you’re all doing so well – wonderful to see!

  • Jane {In the Pink & Green}
    January 27, 2015 at 1:29 am

    Looks like such a wonderful weekend! I read your first baby wearing post and remembered you saying you didn’t care for ring slings, but had noticed on Instagram you were wearing them quite a bit now. My little guy is 7 weeks old and we have a Solly wrap and I just got a Maya ring sling as well. We’re planning on getting a soft structured carrier as well…we were considering the ergo 360 but I’ve heard good things about Tula carriers too, and I thought I saw that on your Instagram recently as well? I’d love an updated babywearing post – my baby is still little but I love wearing him already and love hearing from mamas with older babies so I can try to get the most bang for my buck when it comes to carriers!

  • Sarah F
    January 27, 2015 at 2:24 am

    These pictures are amazing! Looks like a stunningly beautiful place to visit.

    Love that even with a baby, you continue to have spontaneous weekends away. Good for you guys 🙂

  • !Maryea {happy healthy mama}
    January 27, 2015 at 4:05 am

    It looks like a beautiful place to visit and a perfect weekend. Great photos!

  • Chicago Jogger
    January 27, 2015 at 4:34 am

    So sweet! Looks like a wonderful weekend for you three 🙂

  • Anne @
    January 27, 2015 at 4:43 am

    How wonderful that you all had such a great weekend in one of your “special places” that is so sweet!
    I’ve never hear of Flipkey before, I need to check it out!

  • Laura
    January 27, 2015 at 4:59 am

    Every picture of Grayson made me smile; he is such a joy!

  • M
    January 27, 2015 at 5:31 am

    I absolutely love your top – would you mind sharing where it’s from??

    • Jen
      January 27, 2015 at 8:18 am

      I want to know too please!!! 🙂

      • jenna
        January 27, 2015 at 8:28 am

        It’s from Free People 🙂

        • M
          January 29, 2015 at 7:23 am

          Thank you!!!

  • JennieM
    January 27, 2015 at 5:44 am

    I remember my kiddos first haircuts…I was stunned at how old they looked too! He is adorable, baby hair or toddler hair!

  • Meagan M
    January 27, 2015 at 5:46 am

    So glad your little family had a nice time. The picture of you holding Grayson in the sling and he’s looking down and grinning is just the sweetest thing EVER!!!

  • Ellen
    January 27, 2015 at 5:52 am


    I have been reading your blog for many years, but these posts make me so happy. I love seeing your little family and how happy you are. It makes me hope and desire to be a mom like you some day. God bless your family! 🙂

  • Emily @ Life on Food
    January 27, 2015 at 6:09 am

    I can just hear him giggling in those photos. I wish I was at the beach. We have 15 inches of snow so far.

  • Jessica
    January 27, 2015 at 6:32 am

    Those photos though…

    It looks like a perfect vacation and I love the little Grayson cuddles. 🙂

  • Kelli H (Made in Sonoma)
    January 27, 2015 at 7:18 am

    I was hoping you would post this trip! The place you stayed at looks beautiful!

  • DessertForTwo
    January 27, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Man oh man, do we love Mendo! I’ve never had a bad time there! And you’ve totally converted us to vrbo’ers. No more hotels for us, ever!

  • barb
    January 27, 2015 at 7:46 am

    Been there many times a favorite of our as well. Great Mexican eatery just up the road a bit. The drive there is also breathless!!

  • Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic
    January 27, 2015 at 8:04 am

    Aww he’s so cute! I am totally craving a warm weekend getaway right now!

  • Tamara @ A Side Of Dessert
    January 27, 2015 at 9:25 am

    Looks like you had an amazing weekend! Its fabulous to have some quiet time with your family!

  • Rebecca @ Bring Back Delicious
    January 27, 2015 at 9:43 am

    I use a baby carrier a lot (Amazon link below) and I love it. I definitely used it a lot when our baby had an ear infection too. Poor thing couldn’t breathe. Phew! Glad we got over that one!

    I feel like ours just wants to be 5′ tall already. Being on the ground or on our lap sitting down is just NOT good enough!

  • Loren
    January 27, 2015 at 10:45 am

    I grew up going to Sea Ranch which is right by Gualala! Great beaches and fun area, feels totally secluded in the perfect way.

  • Laurel
    January 27, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    Been crushing on those Sakura Bloom slings for a while now and seeing yours with your little one so comfortably settled and enjoying himself, makes me want one all the more now. What a perfect color for shots at the beach too!! 🙂
    I love that part of the California coast. We did a couple trips to Sea Ranch when I was little. Some of the best vacation memories were made there. You really did capture it in the perfect weather!

  • Eden
    January 27, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    Aww, what a cutie! Beautiful photos 🙂

  • Kat Nielsen
    January 27, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Do you find the sling wrap to best for your baby at this stage? My baby boy is only two days older and also a sturdy guy. I love my Becco Gemini, but I like leaving it in the car so I never forget it, and would like something else to keep in the house. An updated baby carrying little post would be awesome!

  • Jill
    January 27, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    I LOVE Gualal! We camped there before having kids, and have great memories. Now we go so my husband can abalone dive. We love the whole area.

  • Laura
    January 27, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    We also love the Sakura Bloom sling. It is so easy getting them in and out. I wear my 10 month old in mine all the time when shopping or out with friends and just forgo the stroller all together. Also, MANY people have told me that around 8 months things turn a corner and babies just get WAY easier. Very true for us. When my son turned 8 months he could crawl and go to the toys he wanted and bring books to me and just in general interact with things and it just got way easier. 🙂

  • Kelly
    January 27, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    So adorable!! The beach looks lovely 🙂 (might be that I’m in the middle of a blizzard right now ha ha). Where did you get your sweater you are wearing on the beach? I need some more sweaters I can wear with leggings.

  • Kelly
    January 27, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Oops, I just read the comments above and found the answer to my question about your top 🙂

  • Michelle
    January 28, 2015 at 7:01 am

    I haven’t checked in to your blog in a while, and holy, your babe is big! He’s really grown up, what a cutie. Looks like you had a fantastic weekend, it’s funny to me to see you at a beach because we just had a big blizzard up in Canada. Love your blog 🙂

  • Sarah
    January 28, 2015 at 8:21 am

    Oh man. I wish I could just pick up and go away for a weekend!!!! One day I hope. So pretty.
    What kind of ring sling is that?!

  • Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner
    January 29, 2015 at 10:02 am

    These pictures are gorgeous! I almost feel like I went to the beach, too!

  • Amy
    January 30, 2015 at 5:00 am

    Looking at the link, a rental like that is way out of my budget. Is there a site you recommend for discounts on rentals? Or do you have a secret way to get discounts that you can share with readers?

  • Luv What You Do
    January 30, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    What a great weekend away!!!

  • Heather
    January 30, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    HI – How long did it take you guys to get up there? We are in Berekeley and I’m dying to go to Mendo but the 3 hrs just feels like too much for a weekend. I think you are in Marin so depending where, it will be shorter for you.

  • darryl rhynes
    February 4, 2015 at 5:07 am

    what a great post. nothing like those spur of the moment decisions to the beach. what makes it better is the pictures you will look back on in a few years and just melt. your son is beautiful and a joy to see. glad you had fun and a relaxing time. thank you for sharing.

  • Stephanie @ Long Distance Baking
    February 17, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Sometimes a beach vacation is exactly what you need! Those pictures of you and Grayson on the beach are so cute. I’ve used vrbo but never flip key before…I will have to look into it!