Day #5: Living the Good Life – 30 Day Challenge (Leo Carillo Ranch)

On the list for today’s experience, was a visit to the Leo Carillo Ranch in Carlsbad. I decided to combine my morning hike with the opportunity to explore this hidden gem in North County. Located smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood with cookie cutter homes and an elementary school across the ravine, Leo Carillo Rancho is a step back into time. Across the 27-acre historic park, visitors are invited to explore adobe buildings, antique farm equipment and blooming flora and fauna. The mascots for the Ranch are the strutting peacocks that meet you around every corner. I even had the joy of seeing a Mama peacock tend to her 4 little chicks.

It’s easy to see why so many photographers use Leo Carillo Ranch as the backdrop to their photo shoots. There is visual abundance every where you look.

I’ve always driven past Leo Carillo Ranch and mentally thought I should one day drive down the street to check out this piece of history (and beautiful event venue), but it was always on the “I should list!” Today, I made a point of making the drive and enjoying a morning hike in a unique, historic setting. Well worth the trip!

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Day #4: Living the Good Life – 30 Day Challenge (Central Library)

I discovered one of San Diego’s greatest gems today – the new San Diego Central Library. I realize I’m a little late to the party given the Library celebrates its first anniversary this weekend, but until now my schedule just didn’t permit the formal tour.

I signed up on the Library website for a guided tour, which takes place on Wednesday’s at 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. I was met by a former librarian, and now volunteer, Mike, who was extremely knowledgeable of the facility. The hour-long tour had us tromping all over the 500,000 sq ft facility. The Central Library is a flurry of activity, and hardly resembles the libraries of my youth that required whispering like in a yoga studio. Across the 9 floors within the library (2 are dedicated to a charter high school), you find wonderful resources in every nook and cranny.  A few highlights:

1. The Central Library has a collection of over 10,000 rare books; which will be displayed in a dedicated book museum in the future.

2. Visitors can search their family lineage by visiting the genealogy department and using the free subscription to

3. Have something 3D you want printed? Head to the free 3D printers on the 8th floor.

4. Art lover? The docent’s give tours to highlight the on-site art museum and the collections spread throughout the building.

5. The dome covering the Library is the largest in North America.

6. They have a mini health clinic inside the Library for blood pressure checks, weight management and health-related workshops.

7. Are you a teenager and want space from your parents? Check out the Teens Only section where only visitors 12-18 can visit – no grown ups allowed!

8. The new Central Library is the most technologically advanced and largest public library in the country.

9. The event space at the Central Library makes me drool! The views are amazing!!!

I highly recommend you taking time to visit a great gift to the San Diego community. This weekend they will have a 1st anniversary celebration, Saturday, September 27th from 10:30 – 2:30 p.m. – the public is welcome.

Of course, I couldn’t leave without getting a new Library Card, which to my delight now comes in 6 different colors. Welcome to my wallet, pretty little teal-colored library card!

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Day #3: Living the Good Life – 30 Day Challenge (Knitting)

Since I lost my grandmother, I’ve always been sorry I never had her teach me how to knit.  My grandmother would knit and crochet beautiful blankets and baby sweaters; many of which we still have to this day. In an attempt to channel my grandmother, for day #3 of my 30 day challenge, I attended a knitting circle at my local library.

Upon entering the community room, I found a glorious group of older women all working on beautiful masterpieces. My intimidation was quickly subsided when they partnered me with a saint named, Liz, who has been knitting for 50 years. She patiently taught me how to do the basic stitch and set me out to make a scarf. The women around me were finishing off shawls and sweater vests, or in the process of starting a new project that involved knitting lace. Their ability to chat and stitch was impressive – and chat they did!  I found myself trying to silence even my own thoughts because I found this required fierce concentration.

In the 2-hours I spent with the Knitting Ladies, I was able to complete something that looked nothing like the beginnings of a scarf but more like the bottom of a knitted bikini. Apparently when Liz sets you up with ten stitches and you keep adding ten every time you turn back around, your project starts to shape into a triangle. The Knitters were very supportive of my attempts and encouraged me to come back again on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday’s of the month. I promised them I would keep working on my triangle in an attempt to at least get something that looked close to a pot holder.

There is plenty to learn (all the women suggested I watch how-to videos on YouTube); but for a few hours I felt close to my grandma, and if nothing else, that was worth the exercise!

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5 Out of the Box Brunch Ideas for Brides Magazine


We recently had the opportunity to contribute to an article for Brides Magazine on out of the box ideas for day-after wedding brunch events. We love the chance to get creative and help our guests to enjoy recess!

With post-wedding brunches now becoming the new norm, why no throw a breakfast bash that truly suits you and your groom’s personalities? Whether you’re an artsy couple or just big kids at heart, here are five unique ideas that will totally rival the festivities from the night before.

1. Have a Field Day
If stuffy, formal brunches aren’t exactly your thing, throw the ultimate recess for your friends and family the following day. “Let your guests play and blow off some steam from all the wedding planning by organizing a casual BBQ that includes fun games,” suggests Nicole R. Matthews, CSEP, owner of The Henley Co, an event, travel and lifestyle concierge company based in San Diego. Think old school picnic games, like a three-legged race or a water balloon toss with bridesmaids verse groomsmen, his family verse hers or even men verse women, she offers.

2. Host a Hangover Brunch
Trust us, after a long night of dancing and boozing, your guests will be more than delighted to enjoy a little pampering. Matthews recommends putting together a “Morning After the Night Before” brunch with chair and foot massage stations, an oxygen bar to help get reenergized and a greasy food menu to help with all the hangovers.

Enjoy the rest of the ideas by clicking here.

Day #2: Living the Good Life – 30 Day Challenge (Get Air)

Day # 2 of my challenge had me getting air! The trampoline park craze seems to be taking over the kids birthday party circuit. I wanted to get in on the action even though I wasn’t there celebrating a 6 year old’s birthday!

My niece, Elyse, happens to have a Staff Development Day today so I took her with me to Get Air in Poway so she could show me the ropes of bouncing high! I was the giant amongst a sea of toddlers that were gingerly bouncing, and no where in the league of the next America’s Ninja Warrior, who took every chance he could get to show me his flips. When I complimented his skill, he told me he takes karate and he pointed to his rising sun headband. I bowed in reverence to a great karate master.

Elyse took off with a blast, bouncing high and low, where as I needed to get my trampoline legs underneath me. We tried everything from the foam pit, to the basketball hoop, and raced our way with high knees from one side of the field to the other. We laughed uncontrollably when my attempt at bouncing on my stomach to flip back up to my feet looked more like a whale beaching itself. We then took part in a fierce game of dodge ball, which again labeled me the giant in the cage. Sorry to the future Mary Lou Retton, who back flips like it’s an art; the doge ball game was on and you took a red ball to the side of the head! How’s it feel to watch from the sidelines, Mary Lou?

Our hour-long bounce pass felt like we were there for 3 days thanks to the exhausting workout, but we had a blast together. It was a really fun little field trip, and I got to take an hour out of my otherwise serious day to play with my niece.  #Blessing!

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DAY #1: Living the Good Life – 30 Day Challenge (Foot Golf)

As I have previously announced, I am challenging myself to doing something new, unique or different for the next 30 days. Feeling a bit stagnant and not honoring my inner child, creativity and physical strength enough has swaddled me in too much adulthood and not enough play. With the mission of The Henley Co. to help our clients to enjoy more recess in their lives, I have to talk the talk and walk the walk.

Yesterday was Day #1 of my Living the Good Life – 30 Day Challenge. As a family, we went to play the new sports craze, Foot Golf. Located at the Lawrence Welk Resort Golf Course, Foot Golf is perfect for all ages (and for all of us who can’t master golf but can kick the ball far!) Played on a traditional golf course, Foot Golf is played in the spirit of golf. You kick off (tee off) from special soccer ball marked tees and you aim for the hole (about the size of 2 soccer balls). You play 18 holes like all serious golfers. At Lawrence Welk Golf Course, you are playing right along side traditional golfers. Foot golfers aim for the red flag; while golfers aim for the yellow.

Growing up as soccer players, this game was right up our alley, and allowed everyone in the family to participate. We had ages 14 through 67 in the competition. The game took us about 2-hours to play. It was the perfect mix of physical ability and many belly laughs.  I highly recommend this activity for families and soccer teams! The price is very affordable – $15 for adults, $10 for kids under 18.

Introducing Permission: Stop Competing & Start Creating The Life You Want to Live!


Thanks to the creative genius, Ceci Johnson of Ceci New York, I’m proud to show you the cover for my forthcoming book, Permission – Stop Competing and Start Creating the Life You Want to Live. The book will be published before the end of 2014.

Would you like to spread the Permission message? I’m busy booking speaking engagements so let’s chat!

About the Book…

Forget “leaning in” or “leaning out” to get ahead both personally and professionally, Nicole Matthews, Founder and Lifestyle Architect of The Henley Company, champions the power of “leaning on” others to help you to create the life you want to live by being own architect. This witty, humorous and self-deprecating tale of a 40-something that has had more fascinating life experiences than dates, will have you realizing that giving yourself permission is step number one to start living your best life! As the designer of the highly successful, Sex and the City, movie launch party events, and as a leader in the special events community, Matthews is at the top of her game, but not without having to overcome challenges and mend emotionally, financially and personally.

The personal journey of Nicole R. Matthews, a social media loving, generation x’er, who cherishes unique experiences, stamps in her passports and trying to make sense of the opposite sex, is humorously chronicled in Permission – Stop Competing & Start Creating The Life You Want To Live.

Through her stories, Matthews shares the heartbreak she endured that was so deep it rivaled Humpty Dumpty falling off the wall, a depression so profound she spent the night in the ER with the other crazies, and a self-esteem demon that liked to rear its head in the most inopportune moments – like on a date with a man-person! But yet, in spite of the setbacks and the “stuff” she faced, she still has found the courage to give herself permission to get out of broken relationships, start a successful business, and create the opportunities to honor her most precious authentic intentions.

For Matthews, Permission-Stop Competing & Start Creating The Life You Want To Live is a catalyst for launching The Permission Mission, a community of individuals who commit to designing the life they want to live, and to create opportunities that add unique experiences to the fabric of their lives. As part of The Permission Mission, Matthews will start Concierge Circles, a social club focused on creating a community of women who “lean on” each other for support, encourage each other to become architects of their own lives, manage their busy schedules and seek personal enrichment.