A Fall Day in Wine Country

Being a Californian, I’ve always heard “you haven’t seen a real fall”, and while I know it’s true, I do savor the glimpses I do get.  I am very blessed to live a hop, skip and a jump away from wine country, so I try to make it up as much as possible, especially when I know the leaves will be radiant with color.

For my latest trip I got spoiled.  Normally I do a decent amount of research into where I want to go to breakfast, wineries with the prettiest grounds, yada yada.  But for this trip my friend had everything planned out!  What a treat 🙂

Here’s what we did:

Stop 1, Breakfast at the Sunflower Café in Sonoma Square 


This place is just heavenly!  You order your food at the counter and find a seat.  It started pouring rain when we arrived, but we snatched an amazing covered table on the back patio where we were toasted by the heaters and serenaded by the sound of rain.  I’ve never dined outside while it was raining, and this experience alone was therapeutic.  All their food is sustainably sourced from local businesses – and is quite delicious!  We arrived around 10:30 on Saturday morning and had no trouble finding a spot.  After your meal, make sure to swing by the shop next door – Global Heart – where you can find fair trade goodies for all ages!  If you have extra time, stroll around the square, there are tons of cute spots to see.

Stop 2, Domaine Carneros, Napa 

img_0528
Driving up to this winery makes you feel like you’re approaching an English Country Château- it’s enchantingly elegant.  Stroll up the beautiful staircase and take in the colorful vineyards and roses on either side.  If it’s a nice day out, the patio will be loaded with champagne connoisseurs enjoying the view.  If it’s a rainy day, like ours was, get a reservation so they save you a seat in their lovely dining room.  You will spend a bit more on tastings here (starting at $30), but it’s worth every penny (*they offer a military discount for my fellow service members).  We sat here for literally hours, sipping our champagne and taking it all in.

img_0529

Stop 3, Oxbow Public Market, Napa


This place is ah-mazing.  The market is loaded with unique restaurants, goodies, gifts, you name it!  If we hadn’t still been stuffed on breakfast, we would have indulged in one of the tempting restaurants.  Since we were stuffed, we sauntered around the little “shops”, tasting olive oils and chocolate sauces, getting googly-eyed over cupcakes and assortments of cheeses and meats, smelled the extensive collection of every spice you could think of, and sniffed more flavors of bitters one knew existed.  We grabbed a couple of rainy day weather brews from Fieldwork Brewery and sat out on the patio and took it all in. We ended our day walking along the river, watching the locals fish.

While only hitting 3 spots doesn’t sound like much, we took our time at each spot, and before we knew it, it was evening.  This truly was a beautiful, delicious, and leisurely day.  Now, go, explore, indulge, have fun!  Surround yourself with good company, have good conversations, and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you.

God id good friends.  God is good.

Advertisements

The best sundae EVER

Heaven. Also know as the Rim Trail from the Red Hut Cafe in South Lake Tahoe
Two scoops of vanilla ice cream
Hot fudge
Melted peanut butter
Whipped cream
Cherries
Pretzels

It’s so good it even got its own post!

Russian River Wine Tasting

Another post about my jaunts in wine country…

Today was absolutely lovely!  We only tasted at 2 spots – but they both were wonderful!

Stop #1: Korbel Champagne Cellers

IMG_2471

$9 for a bottle of delicious Champagne!  I bought the Brut Rose.  YUM!

FREE Champagne tasting!  Everything I had was delicious, and the place is beautiful.  They also have a little market to buy snacks from to picnic.  Bottles of Champagne average around $14!  Can’t beat it.  Also, for my fellow military folks, they generously offer 25% off purchased.

Stop #2: Lunch at Russian River Pub 

IMG_2475

As seen on Diners, Drive ins & Dives.  Feeling a little perked from Korbel, we wanted something hearty and delicious.  We had reservations elsewhere, but decided to give this one a go, and we’re super glad we did!

IMG_2474IMG_2473

And the best spot yet…..♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Stop #3: Russian River Vineyards

IMG_2476

Don’t take this lightly… you MUST go here.  This place, and the staff, has left me with feelings of packing up life and moving to Forestville.  It’s tranquil, quaint, delicious, darling… it’s everything you want.  The grounds are gorgeous, the wine is decadent and they have a delicious looking menu (we were too full to eat!).  They too are generous to us military folks by offering complimentary tasting and 10% off purchases.  A must go.

IMG_2481IMG_2479IMG_2480

’twas a beautiful day and a beautiful drive.  So blessed to live this close to paradise!  God is good friends, God is good.

Murphys, CA (you simply MUST go!)

Oh how I love Murphys.   It tis the quaintest little town, full of darling shops, wineries, and delicious restaurants.  It’s super cozy, and you’ll fall in love upon arrival!

On President’s Day weekend they do a “Wine Weekend” where you pay $20 for a glass and get to taste in almost all of the store front wineries (there’s a lot!).  I’ve been the last two years, and have happened upon beautiful weekends!  The drive up from the Bay Area is gorgeous, and only takes 2/5 hours.

My mood for the weekend 🙂 The sun is shining, the wine is flowing, it’s a great day.IMG_2263Make sure to grab a coffee and pastry (their savory scones are to die for!) from Aria Bakery & Espresso Cafe and take a 2 min stroll to the creek!  

If you’re hungry for a bigger breakfast, swing by the Murphy’s Hotel.  Great portions and good prices.  Grab a seat on the patio if you can!IMG_2276

History buff?  The town is full of historic buildings, and there’s a cool museum too!

Lavender Heaven!  Yes, Lavender Ridge is a winery (wine is ok…) their shop is absolutely darling, and they have everything lavender  you could possibly want!  As well a cheese pairings.  A must go.

Need a sweet treat?  Or two?  Swing by Lila & Sage’s Cupcake store and drool over the delicious cakes, AND hop on over to the Peppermint Stick for a decadent shake!

For dinner we hit the new Luck Penny Public House, and boy o boy were my fish & chips delicious. They also have live music!  Super cute joint.

Each building in Murphys is darling!  Such old charm mixed with shabby chic.

I hope you’ll trust me when I say GO TO MURPHYS!  You won’t regret it.

God is good friends, God is good.

Kale, Apple & Parmesan Salad. YUM!

This salad is super simple and extra delicious!

FullSizeRender (8)

Ingredients:
Depending on how much salad you want to make, feel free to increase or decrease amount of ingredients.
1 bunch Lacianto Kale
1 apple (I use fuji)
1/8 cup of grated parmesan cheese (or however much cheese you want!)
1/2 lemon (zested)
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Start by de-ribbing (is that a word?  Remove the stem) the kale, and shredding the leaves.  Place in a large bowl.  Large dice the apple and add to the kale.  Toss in the parmesan.  In a separate small bowl add the olive oil, juice and zest from the lemon, and salt and pepper to taste.  Whisk for 30 seconds or so until it becomes a little thicker.  Pour over the salad and toss.  It’s that simple and so good!  Good for you too 🙂

Crater Laker & Bend, Oregon

I’ve always imagined I would end up in a small, mountain type town, with beautiful lakes and snow capped mountains, great restaurants with outdoor seating, and residents really making it feel like a community.  Though I have dreamed of this place, I have never actually been to said destination.  Then, I went to Bend.

On the cruise up we decided to swing by Crater Lake.  WOW!  This place is gorgeous! It almost looks fake – this volcano inside a volcano!  A must see if cruising through southern Oregon.  I would also recommend staying at the Green Springs Inn & Cabins outside of Ashland.  It was in the middle of the… forest?… and we loved it!  The rooms were amazing – and the restaurant was great!  The gift shop even had a box for PCT hikers like I read about in Wild!

IMG_8401IMG_0660

Ah yes, Bend.  Bend is… well, it’s perfect.  It’s technically high desert, but Mt. Bachelor sits just a stones throw away, snow capped even in mid summer.  The downtown is absolutely delightful, with the Deschutes Rivers meandering through – full of folks floatin’. You can stroll the darling shops, great restaurants, craft breweries and chat with all the NICE people!  We actually saw a sticker saying “Be nice, you’re in Bend“.  Ha!

We had the privilege to spend the 4th of the July weekend there – and boy oh boy do they do it big!  The parade was massive, and after the parade everyone heads down to the park by the river for a huge festival.  Tons of booths, drinks, food, games – you name it.

Accommodations:
We rented the cutest studio!  Just 2 blocks from downtown and perfect!IMG_8409 IMG_8410IMG_8412 IMG_8411

Exploration of the Cascade Lakes:

Devil’s Lake – The most clear, turquoise lake I have ever seen!  And freeeeezing!

IMG_8416

Loved this shot I got of some paddlers!

IMG_8443

Todd Lake – super peaceful and secluded with beautiful views from the parking lot!

IMG_0724

Mt. Bachelor in the background

IMG_0710

Elk Lake – not a great shot – but a perfect spot to rent a kayak or lounge on the beach.

IMG_0669

4th of July Madness!  This is where you want to celebrate ‘merica!

IMG_0700

Yes, that’s a dog up there 😦

IMG_0707

IMG_0705IMG_0704

IMG_0708

Pano of the post parade festivities!

Craft Breweries! 

IMG_0670 IMG_0678 IMG_0747 IMG_0748

Side trip up to Sisters
must do!  

IMG_0746

The town of Sisters is absolutely darling – and not far from Bend. You MUST eat at Cottonwood Cafe!

First Fridays! SO happy we stumbled upon this!  I would actually encourage you to plan your trip to Bend during a First Friday.  All of the shops offer free beer/wine/cocktails and snacks and the whole town comes out!  There’s live music on just about every corner, and it really solidifies the sense of community.

IMG_0688

Beautiful Bend

IMG_0752 IMG_0758 IMG_0755

We had an incredible time, and can’t wait to return!  (I might be actively seeking career opportunities…)

Until next time… I’ll be dreaming of Bend.

God is good friends.  God is good.

Egg & Veggie Pie

My workday starts at 6:30 in the morning, and I have a 30-45 minute commute…so it goes without saying I don’t have time to make breakfast in the morning.

I do however know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so I definitely make an effort to eat a nutritious meal. Here’s a recipe I whipped up that will last me all week! Hopefully I don’t get sick of it…

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper (I prefer red)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped crimini mushrooms
  • 1 cup diced pancetta (Italian bacon)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 store bought pie crust (don’t you judge me!)
  • Salt and peppa!

Preheat oven to 350°. Read defrosting instructions on your piecrust. Line 9 inch baking dish with piecrust.

Prep veggies   In a nonstick pan, over medium heat, cook the pancetta, stirring occasionally. I cooked this for about 10 minutes, or however long you would cook your regular bacon. I like it crispy so I went a little longer.  Scoop out the pancetta and put onto a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb extra grease.   With remaining grease in pan sauté veggies, season with salt and pepper, about eight minutes or until soft.   Beat six eggs, season with salt and pepper. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and pour into piecrust.   Bake for around 30 minutes and enjoy! Refrigerate whatever is left over.  

Mangia!

God is good friends, God is good

Veggie Lasagna (if you must…)

In a effort to lighten up a bit, I decided to replicate a favorite comfort dish.  I replaced lasagna noodles with zucchini (since I had a few lying around) and substituted sautéed veggies for sausage.  I do have to say, I should NOT have gone with my gut, and cut down the cheese by half or so.  Anyhoo, here’s what I did (with recommendations of cheese use).

Ingredients:

  • Bottle of Bolognese Sauce *I never buy store bought sauce… being an italian and all, my family would be so disappointed!  But I wanted a quick meal, and had no homemade sauce at home – so forgive me.
  • 1/2 cup whole milk Ricotta
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella
  • 3 large Zucchini, sliced long ways
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Get a grill pan nice an hot, over medium-high heat.  Coat zucchini in olive oil and salt and pepper, and grill on each side for a few minutes, or until they have grill marks.  Sauté onions and mushrooms in olive oil with salt and pepper, until soft – about 8 minutes.  Mix Mozzarella & Ricotta with salt & pepper in a bowl. Line an 8×8 baking dish (I always use ceramic – so easy to clean!) with some sauce (no need to heat sauce first).  Do a layer of zucchini, dot with cheese, sprinkle with veggies, top with sauce, repeat until you’ve used up the ingredients.  I got 2 layers out of it – finishing with zucchini.  Top with a final layer of sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Bake for around 15-20 minutes – or until bubbly and delicious.  Service with a nice glass o red wine, and buon appetito!

IMG_0333 IMG_0330 IMG_0334 IMG_0335

IMG_0337 IMG_0339 IMG_0338 IMG_0340IMG_0341

California Coast Part 1: Santa Cruz Region

Do you ever just need to run away, if only for a night?   I needed escape from the everyday routine.  I know I didn’t want to go too far, but far enough to feel like a mini-vacation.  We decided to go to the Santa Cruz region.  We picked Santa Cruz because 1) Boo has never been there 2) I have only been to the tourist Boardwalk & downtown 3) I heard it’s lovely.   As usual, I like to talk to folks who know the area to get some recommendations on where to eat and what to see.  I used the handy dandy interweb to find a good place to stay.  Here’s what we did.

Accommodations:  Redwood Croft B&B
Room:  The West Room with private patio.
Cost:  $225 + tax (that was with a military discount.  Yikes!)
Rating:  This place got rave reviews online.  I’ll give it an A for location and scenery, a C+ for breakfast and host.  The host seemed a bit… passive aggressive.  It was a bit odd.  Another couple raved about the breakfast, so I was a bit disappointed when plain pancakes and sausage came out.  Overall, we enjoyed out stay, but will likely not return.

IMG_8207 IMG_8217 IMG_8212  IMG_8242 IMG_8210 IMG_8209IMG_8214    IMG_8213   IMG_0363IMG_8241 IMG_8235 IMG_8231 IMG_8229

As usual, when I travel, I look for the best spots to eat.  I got these 2 recommendations from a friend who used to live in the area – and she was on point!

Breakfast (on our arrival morning):  Whale City Bakery, Davenport, CA
I heard the pastries were awesome but we went for a meal and split the Huevos Tortillas which was pretty good.  The coffee was tasty and the outside patio was awesome – and dog friendly!

Lunch:  Pizza My Heart, Downtown Santa Cruz
This place has grown significantly since I visited last.  It used to be a hole in the wall, and now it’s a huge restaurant.  The za was fine, nothing to rave about anymore.

Dinner:  The Cremer House, Felton, CA
If you’re in the Santa Cruz area and don’t want to head downtown for dinner, you HAVE to hit up The Cremer House.  This place is awesome!  The historic building is charming, with a nice wrap around porch for outdoor seating (with heaters).  The inside is super cozy, and you feel like you’re walking into a friends house.  After out late pizza lunch, we decided to go light and split the “Bob Salad” which was amazing.  We also ordered a flight of beer (3 of 8 were good) and the donuts… which were ah-mazing.  The staff is great, and everything else on the menu looked amazing.  Great spot.

IMG_0358 IMG_0360 IMG_0362On the drive home, we made a pit-stop in a little town called Pescadero to grab coffee and check out the shops, took a shot of the coast, and enjoyed every winding minute of the famous Highway 1.

IMG_8261 IMG_8258 IMG_8254 IMG_8260 IMG_8257 IMG_8256 IMG_8255 IMG_8253Great little runaway.  Very blessed to be able to take little vacations – so close to home.

God is good friends.  God is good.