Monday, November 24, 2014


My favorite time of year is quickly approaching.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, hands down.  All that eating and drinking and socializing with friends and family.  It's so much fun.  I think part of the reason I enjoy this time of year so much is because it leads into Christmas and the fun festivities the holidays bring.  One thing I look forward to every year is creating our family holiday card.  This year, I'm looking at Minted.

With so many options it's becoming difficult to choose one.  I love the look of Destination Luggage Tag

Destination Luggage Tag Holiday Photo Cards

The number of photos you can include on Complete Tree Holiday is amazing!  For someone who can't make a decision on what photos to include or if you have a family you can't get to look good in the same photo.

Complete Tree Holiday Photo Cards

The simplicity of Calligraphic Flourish Holiday is very classy looking and so easy on the eye.

Calligraphic Flourish Holiday Photo Cards

Though right now I seem to be drawn most to Sparkling Be Merry because it can be used as your Christmas card but can then be turned into an ornament your tree can see for years!

Sparkling Be Merry Holiday Ornament Cards

There's so many great options making it incredibly hard to choose!  

On top of all of the holiday cards Minted carries, they also have a section on holiday gifts and I'm dying over this cute print.  What a great gift for a grandparent wall!
What options do you like best? Any I didn't mention that you think I should consider?  I'd love to hear what you would send.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Our Trip: Napa

I realize I posted part one of our trip away from the kids about a month ago, but that's  how things go around here.  After part one of our trip away to San Francisco, we headed north to Napa.  Napa is about an hour north east of San Francisco and is really easy drive, however it's only a 2 lane road which could be problematic with traffic.  Luckily we had no issues.

We stayed at the Hawthorn Inn which was your average hotel, nothing fancy, just a place to sleep and shower.  We got into Napa around 3 o'clock and after checking in and settling in we headed to downtown Napa to walk around the town.  If you haven't been to Napa, you probably don't know that there is nothing going on in downtown Napa. A small amount of restaurants and nothing else.  The stores I couldn't tell if they were closed because of the earthquake or because nothings going on.  We did find John Anthony's tasting room.

I highly recommend the tasting room.  It's such a beautiful open space and would be a dream to work at.  Rick and I don't like dry wines so we got a dessert wine.  It was amazing.  We headed out for more fun as it was only 6pm and were highly disappointed to find that Napa basically shuts down in the evenings.  We did find a great restaurant that I also highly recommend, The Bounty Hunter

 The next day we started early at The Bouchon Bakery in Yountville.  Yountville is a cute little town that I wish we could have explored more.  The bakery is tiny so there is often a line out the door but the wait is well worth it.  I've never tasted coffee as smooth and creamy as theirs.  I had an iced coffee with caramel and Rick had a salted caramel, both fantastic.  We split a coffee cake which was equally amazing.

After coffee we had our first tasting scheduled at Cakebread Cellars.

We had a really great guide who took us and another couple from Chicago out to their gardens for a small tasting.  The grounds were so pretty and for not liking dry wine, their wine was fantastic, all of them.

After Cakebread we headed out to Oakville Grocery to pick up some items for lunch.  So many options, a little pricey but we loved it.  I had read that there are a few wineries that will allow you to bring in your own food to do a picnic lunch if you purchase some wine.  I researched a close winery and settled into Alpha Omega.  The place was gorgeous, inside and out.  I can't say enough about their grounds, however we didn't love the wine.  It was all dry so we shouldn't have been surprised, but at $40 a bottle, it should be good.

Lunch was great though. Bread, cheese, meat was great, could have passed on the tampenade.

Next up was a nice drive through the country to Castello di Amorosa.  The castle was built by the man who also owns V Sattui.  It's gorgeous but ridiculous (in a nice way) at the same time.  Everything was brought over from Italy, including those bricks.  Built just as if it were in Italian castle from a hundred years ago.  

This is the grand room where any party would have happened and they do allow parties in this space.  The murals were hand painted by an Italian painter.

Even the ceilings were hand painted, imagine the work!

After the initial tour of the castle, it was time to get into the wine.

We got to taste some of the grapes from the vine.  They don't taste like a grape you get in the grocery store.

The open space is where all the trucks move in and out of the main hubbub of the wine making.

We went below the castle where all the wine is house and literally there is wine every where you turn.

Each one of these bottles was full of wine.

It's very cool how they get the wine into those barrels.  They have lines that run from the top of the castle through the walls and fill the barrels underground.

We got a barrel tasting while we were underground.

Then it was tasting time.  The castle has a lot of wine options to choose from and had several sweets that we were able to enjoy.

We were wiped out after the castle and got to enjoy the animals on the grounds.  Again, ridiculous, but this ostrich was so cute.

We could have swung around to a couple other wineries, but we were wined out.  Another thing to note, Napa stops most all their tastings around 4 or 5 so you feel a little rushed to squeeze in as much as possible in a small amount of time.

The next day, we weren't feeling in the mood for more wine so we took off for Half Moon Bay.  Rick's cousin had been a few years before and suggested we check it out if we had time.  We stopped at a state park and found a whale friend that kept cresting but I wasn't fast enough to capture it in pictures.  This is the best I could get.

Napa was beautiful but I really liked the small feel of Half Moon Bay.  

We stopped at Half Moon Bay Brewing and did this flight tasting.

This was the view.

Like San Francisco, we probably won't go back to Napa again.  Napa is a town full of dry wines and we're sweet drinkers. I did hear that Sonoma is more of the place to visit than downtown Napa area.  Overall the trip was nice and a much needed step away from work and parenting.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Creative Play for Kids

We're thinking of moving from the house we've lived in for nearly 10 years to a larger home.  In preparation for this, we've started making some small updates now so we aren't working on several large projects as we get closer to selling.  Upgrading our appliances was one of those projects.  We decided to swap out our old white appliances for new stainless steel.  In doing this, we were left with a decent sized box that Rick was going to throw away.  

It was starting to drizzle the Saturday after we had them installed so the kids were getting bored being cooped up indoors.  I decided to bring in the box and do some wall tear downs so they could easily go in and out.

someone is teething
They both loved it. They climb in and sit and talk to each other.  Graham babbles of course.  Addie brings in her blankets and acts like she's taking a nap.

I cut out a front door and this side window.  At one point it was a walk up window to order food, sometimes a house window, and my favorite, the puppet show window.

Addie has used it as a parking garage as noticeable in the above picture.

Friday after work, Rick was at happy hour with a couple coworkers so it was just the kids and me.  It was so nice outside and I knew it was probably one of our last nice days of the year so I pulled the house outside for the kiddos to play.  

The fresh air starting getting to the kids and they soon were knocking their house down and climbing on it's exterior walls.

The do it yourself home didn't last after that rumble tumble and it's been tossed to the trash.

The best part, I get to sit back on my deck and drink a glass of moscato while the two of them get to use their imaginations.  Easy, free fun for such a long period of time.  I think we'll actually need to purchase an outdoor playhouse next year since we won't be purchasing anymore dishwashers.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Recipe: Parmesan Zucchini

This summer we ate out on our patio often each night, taking full advantage of each beautiful night.  One of the easiest sides I made was Parmesan zucchini.  It's so easy to make, literally takes 5 minutes and another 7-10 minutes to cook.

Start by halving the zucchini.  Drizzle a little EVOO and salt & pepper.  I also added Italian seasonings.

Add your shredded Parmesan cheese, add a little more salt, pepper & Italian seasonings.

Pop into the oven on 350 for about 7-10 minutes until the cheese melts.  Broil off for another minute until you get good color.

2 zucchinis will get you enough for 4 people as a side.  It's so good but still healthy.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Our Trip: San Francisco

Rick works in the financial industry and recently received several designations through work.  Because of this, he was rewarded with a trip to the annual LOMA conference which took place in San Francisco.  There are many parts of San Francisco that are really pretty.  Others, to  be honest, I'd pass on.

We stayed at the Hyatt Embarcardero which was a huge hotel.  We waited nearly 2 hours for our room after the standard check in time so we were upgrade to a room with a view.  And what a view.  Above is the port building and so much traffic comes through that building daily.  The bridge off to the right is the Oakland Bay Bridge.  People either drive over the bridge or take a ferry from Oakland to the port building.  

Our favorite spot is the port building.  

We stopped in to Hog Island Oyster to have lunch.  

I had the best grilled cheese sandwich I've ever had.

But then we thought, we should probably at least try the oysters.  So we did. It wasn't terrible.

Our last morning in San Francisco we walked over and had breakfast at this great coffee place.  Coffee was good, waffle was better, but not as good as the waffle in the North Market in Columbus.

We took a trolley tour.

Passed through Chinatown.

Alcatraz is just a stones through from shore.  This was the one thing I'm bummed we didn't take advantage of.

We visited the Coit Tower.  You can see Lombard Street in the middle of the picture.

We saw the Transamerica Pyramid.

It's 43 floors.

Ghiradelli is my favorite. I was in heaven.

As my face shows.

It was so rich.

The view at the park outside of Ghiradelli square is the Golden Gate bridge.

On our last day we picked up our rental car to head over to Napa.  Before leaving, we decided to drive the rental around San Francisco to all the places we didn't get to earlier in the week.

Like the painted ladies.  Famous from the intro to Full House.

The large house over my right shoulder was the builders mansion. He lived in it while he built the painted ladies.

We then drove down Lombard Street since our view from the Coit Tower wasn't all that exciting.

This is what you see as you drive down the street.

And the view back up.  It's such a weird street.

From Lombard we drove over to the Golden Gate bridge.

The cable you see holding up the bridge is actually a lot thicker than you'd think.  See below.

Along the bridge are these very strange signs.

I can't believe people jump from the bridge.  It's so high.  We walked across the bridge which is long and windy.  And those cars don't drive slowly.

Across the bridge is Sausalito.  Gorgeous little area.

Then we hopped in the car and drove across the bridge to head out to Napa.  

Part two to come soon.



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