Saturday, June 26, 2010

Thursday – Our last morning in wine country

Thursday morning we were up early enough to go over the the nearby wine region of Sonoma Valley.  We had time to visit two last wineries.  The first one was Valley of the Moon. 


The gardens and landscaping surrounding the  tasting rooms were really beautiful.     There was a gift shop in our hotel that had these hats – Will picked oneup – I think he looks very debonair!



The second winery we went to was Kenwood.    There we had a great time visiting and trying wines. Again, the grounds surrounding the winery were breathtaking.


At noon, we headed back into Napa for one final treat – spa pedicures!


Afterward we had lunch at the In-and-Out Burger (Famous chain in CA) and then said good-bye to Napa and headed into the city of San Francisco.

Friday, June 25, 2010

On the Wine Trail – More Napa Pictures

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On the Wine Trail – Regusci Winery

Early Wednesday we headed out to the valley to visit wineries. It is hard to describe the peaceful, abundant beauty of this area.  I heard one man say “This is more Tuscany than Tuscany!” 


There are glorious, rolling, golden hills and row upon row of vineyards stretching out in patterns like a quilt, literally every turn of the road leads to an even more beautiful view.  And yet, there is a comfortableness, a familiarity, a sense of homecoming – the Napa valley is approachable – it isn’t so vast that you feel like it will swallow you up, you don’t feel lost or small there – just held, like the palm of the Creator’s hand.


The first winery we went to is our favorite – Regusci. Will and I discovered this winery in 1999 on our honeymoon when it was just a fledging winery.  Will’s parents travel to this area several times a year so we’ve been blessed to continue to enjoy Regusci wines all this time, but it was so nice to visit the actual winery again.  If I can remember it, I’ll try to scan in some pictures of our first and second visits in 1999 & 2000.


Many of the wineries have dogs, in fact there are whole books written about all aspects of wineries, including one called Winery Dogs of Napa valley. This guy was sooo relaxed in his patch of sunshine.


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Napa Valley, CA

After my last post on Tuesday we headed out and found a little wine tasting room built into an old re-done house called Un-Corked.  We wandered all around “downtown” Napa.  It’s a very small town – just 74,000 people – very sleepy, very quaint, very picturesque.  There are vines and flowers everywhere, even on the signposts and stop signs.  The houses are mostly tiny California bungalows – but even the smallest house seemed to have a garden overflowing with lavender, roses, and hibiscus.


At the recommendation of the guy at the tasting room we tried out a steak place called the Chop House. It was very tasty, albeit also pricey. Everything is casual, I don’t think anyone in the Bay area dresses up to go anywhere.


A little more about our hotel, it is called the Napa River Inn and sits, appropriately enough, right on the Napa River.




The oldest section of the building was built in 1862 and operated as a mill until 1972. There was a suicide in 1912 in the building above where the bakery is now. Our rooms were in the purportedly haunted section, but we experienced only a lovely, relaxing stay and no sign of any ghosties.

Each morning the Inn brings breakfast to your room from the bakery next door – huge egg sandwiches on croissants, scones, danish, fresh strong coffee – it was heaven.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Greetings From Napa Valley!

I am going to make an attempt to blog as we go, but don’t hold me to it! :)

We had an uneventful plane trip to San Francisco today, we left Houston at 11 AM and arrived here, got our rental car and drove to Napa Valley. Traffic getting to Napa was horrible but the scenery was great…It is now 7 PM Houston time but only 5 PM here – regardless it is DINNER time.  Before we head off to find a restaurant I thought I would post a couple shots of our hotel room.

Oooh a fireplace – and YES, it is actually cool enough to maybe use it (mid 60’s in the daytime and 50’s at night - GLORIOUS!!!)

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Complimentary bottle of wine. I think they gave it to us because I mentioned this trip is our 11 year wedding anniversary trip, yes, our anniversary was in April, but we did honeymoon in Napa/San Francisco so already it is bringing back great memories!

Hello! Claw foot tub & white fluffy robes, I will be checking those out before the night is done for sure.

OK, we are starving, so I’ll log off for now and blog more later. We are staying in an old historic mill, very cool, more on that tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cookie Cutters

I’m not much of a gadget girl when it comes to technology, I’m happy to use whatever phone Will picks out for me, I can barely work his ipod and the Garmin is a complete mystery.

What I like are simpler, handy kitchen things. I love kitchen gadgets, machines, special spoons, knives etc. I like to collect antique kitchen things and also things that are hand made – such as wooden spoons.

Rolling pins, spoons old and new and a butter churn:


I especially love to collect things like rolling pins, mixing bowls and…cookie cutters. I am not a particularly talented artist at decorating cookies but I just think cookie cutters are really fun and they are an inexpensive and relatively useful thing to collect.

Two little birds and a lion with a red handle. These came from Will’s Grandmother.



We have a few events coming up this summer which got me thinking about shopping for some new cutters to add to my collection and I found this neat website called American Tradition Cookie Cutters. Not only do they have a ton of great, really reasonably priced cutters but they give a discount to bloggers!

Cutters I have my eye on:








(Each of these is just 90 cents!)

And their Deal of the Week” – which is a 7 piece set of Sea Creatures for just $5 bucks! (Might come in handy for certain about-to-be-3 year olds who are asking for an Ariel birthday party!)

Not to be purely selfish I also think these would be awesome for goody bags for birthdays, Christmas stockings, and housewarming presents or for a hostess gift.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Swim Lessons

It is interesting how different children from the same family can be.  Raising children is not like cooking – you can’t just reach for a certain ingredient and add it, you know?

If I could do such a thing, I think I would take a pinch of Bella’s confidence and pass it to Jacob (my Worrier), and I would take a dollop of Jacob’s love for rules and his sense of responsibility and pass it to Bella (Miss Reckless).

I guess where all this is coming from is because of swim lessons this week. Jacob is doing a fabulous job, he is so excited and happy and is really enjoying himself. My what a change from last year! He is my cautious child, he doesn’t mind bobbing underwater or picking up a ring, but does not want to swim with his face in the water. We’re working on that. 

Practicing kicking using a noodle:


Jacob has his lessons first; I spy on him from the kiddy pool but try to stay out of sight. I think he does better that way. Wednesday night I was spying on Jacob and playing with Bella when something crazy happened. Bella came down the slide and went under for a minute like she always does but then instead of bobbing up, she stayed under and SWAM TO ME. I saw her do it and couldn’t believe it! So she went down the slide again and this time when she came down I stepped back a step, and then another and then another and she swam, just held her breath and kicked her feet and swam to me – just like that!

So, by the time we got to Bella’s first swim lesson, she had already taught herself to swim! I am still taking her to her lessons, it is non-refundable and there are many skills she doesn’t have like gliding, floating on her back, etc. Of course I will still be watching her like a hawk – but it does make me feel a little teensy bit better to see that she can make it over to the side of the pool on her own.

Me looking cheesy & yes that is Abby Beasley back there practicing her super-man glide!


Thursday night Jacob had a great lesson but it was bittersweet afterward because he isn’t yet actually swimming.  He made some friends at the kiddy pool but then they all left to go to the diving boards and big pool and he couldn’t go and his face went all crumpled and sad. And then he sees his sister swimming and I just ached for him because I could see him trying so hard. It is a mental thing because he doesn’t want to put his head under (even with goggles) I know he will conquer that fear in his own time.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Life in the Garden – Part III

Our garden and flower beds this year are simply amazing.  Will works very hard to keep the weeds out and everything properly watered, fertilized and happy. He has a way with growing things.  I just love to go with my camera and take pictures of all the different flowers.

Taken in May – you can see all the little buds, just beginning to open:

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Here are the same flowers in June:


I love that there are so many different colors – from deep purple to pure white. Jacob and I think they look like fireworks.




Our strawberry plant had ONE berry:


Shortly after this picture was taken the berry got too wet and had white mold all over it and so no one got to eat it. So sad!  The plant is still doing fine, but so far no more blossoms.

In May – cherry tomatoes


Big Heirloom tomato


Blossoms that will become tomatoes (I hope)


And now in June:


I can’t show you the cherry  tomatoes because they are in our bellies!

The other day I was checking on things and spotted this spider setting up shop in my rosemary. He is a black and white zebra striped spider and his web runs in a horizontal zig zag (for scale – the web was about the size of a quarter)  I’ve never seen anything like it before. Truthfully he was kind of creepy and I was glad he was gone the next day. Thank you for keeping out bugs creepy guy!

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Just pretty:

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