Posts tagged ‘wine’

May 6, 2013

Summertime White Sangria

I love sangria. Jim loves it too, and whenever we go to Mexican restaurants that serve it, we get a glass…or a pitcher, whatever.

I’ve always wanted to try making my own, but never have had the patience to let it sit overnight and all that. But when we decided to have people over for fish tacos for Cinco de Mayo, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl.

I searched through our wine “cellar” for a relatively inexpensive bottle of red that I didn’t mind sacrificing (of course there was the potential that this would turn out horribly and waste an entire bottle of wine), and unfortunately I came up short. I didn’t have a single bottle of red wine that I wanted to turn into sangria. So I switched gears. We had TONS of bottles of white because we both enjoy red just a little bit better (until summer comes around anyway), so I decided to make some sangria out of white wine instead.

We popped open a bottle of Rome Valley Vineyards‘ Chardonnay and started making magic!

sangria1b

Summertime White Sangria

The beauty of sangria is that you can pretty much put whatever fruit into it that you want. I mean sure there’s a traditional recipe, but you can make something completely delicious and unique to your own taste just as easily. I used a handful of different fruits we already had on hand.

2 oranges, sliced

1 lime, sliced

5 strawberries, cut in half, tops removed

5 thin slices of rhubarb

2 shots of triple sec

I bottle of chardonnay (you can use whatever white wine you like or have on hand)

Sparkling water (Mine was lime scented, and I used about 36 ounces, but you can taste as you go. It’s not a science)

Pour your wine into a pitcher. Add fruit and triple sec. Cover and let sit in the fridge overnight or for several hours. The longer, the better. When you’re ready to serve, pour in the sparkling water. Serve ice cold in your most beautiful glasses, garnished with extra fruit.

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It turned out pretty dern delicious, if I don’t say so myself. Originally I wanted to use limes, raspberries and peaches, but they only had limes at our local grocery store…you know, the only one open at 10:30 when I decided I wanted to attempt this endeavor. I think I’ll try that combination next time. I’ve also heard people use ginger ale instead of the sparkling water and it gives it more flavor. I didn’t want the added sugar (or high fructose corn syrup. Yuck!), so I will probably always stick with the water.

sangria2b

Also this weekend, I finally got to play around with my new camera. It does a pretty good job, eh? Here are a few of my favorite shots of Katie that I took. She’s a hard dog to photograph, let me tell you! She’s like my brother when it comes to taking her picture. She always turns away from the camera! So the fact that I got these ones was a miracle in and of itself!

black lab

Isn’t she cute? Just chilling in the grass.

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This one I made a funny sound at her, so she tilted her head as if to ask “what the heck was that?!”

I hope everyone is having a happy Monday! Or at least a not-sucky Monday as Mondays can be pretty challenging.

Have you ever tried making sangria before? If so, did you use a recipe or did you just wing it like I did?

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March 26, 2013

Playing Catch Up

It’s been over a week since I’ve posted. I know, I know. It’s not that weird. It’s sort of what I do. Erratic posting is what I’m all about. And I’m learning something: that’s just who I am. I’m messy and uncoordinated, unorganized, and I’d rather spend my time playing that cleaning.

I’m not even going to apologize about it.

katie helping

Although I must do some cleaning, because here’s an adorable photo of Katie “helping” me fold towels. The pink one is hers.

Anyway, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do, so I’m going to just get to it.

The past week has been amazingly busy, sort of intense and completely filled with fun.

I think I left you just before St. Patrick’s day. Jim and I have a tradition of Irish Car Bombs. The drink AND the cupcakes. He makes the drinks; I make the cupcakes, and we enjoy too many of both.

st pattys day6

But we have a lot of fun. And somehow I managed to get plenty of photos of the drinks and none of the cupcakes. I guess that’s why we should start with cupcakes?

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Sometimes I make him corned beef and cabbage. But not this year.

st pattys day3This year we had a “nosh” of shamrock shaped ravioli, tater tots with my special “tot sauce”, jalapeno poppers, spinach dip and some sliced tomatoes….for good measure. And, of course, more Guinness.

And while eating this pile of fat, carbs and calories (except for the tomatoes, of course) , we watched a documentary. Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Have you ever watched one of these food documentaries? They kind of make you feel terribly guilty about the way you eat. This one was about an Australian named Joe Cross who comes to the US to do a juice “reboot” for 60 days. Over the course of the movie, and under close monitoring by doctors, he looses close to 100 lbs from drinking just juice.

So as Jim and I sat there and ate our greasy feast, something clicked. We looked at our plates, listened to our bellies and decided maybe Joe had something. Of course, we weren’t going to go 60 days on nothing but juice, but we decided to try a week. I may end up writing a separate post about our juice experience, so I won’t tell too much about it right now, but I will say I was really happy with the way it turned out. Not just because I lost a few pounds, but because I feel so much better than I have in a long time.

Our last juice day was Friday because Saturday we celebrated Jim’s sister-in-law’s 30th birthday in Napa. And there was no way we were sipping juice while everyone else sipped Pinot!

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Two of my sisters-in-law. Natalia, on the left and Stefanie, the birthday girl on the right.

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On the bus, getting the day started right! (Like my beautiful forehead in the bottom left?)

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Jim found the only lemon cupcake in the box. He’s probably going to kill me for posting this photo.

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At one of the wineries.

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The whole group of us. They rented a party bus and we spent the day touring different wineries followed by dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant in downtown Napa. Overall it was a pretty amazing day. Jim and I even managed to sneak away for a little while to visit our favorite Napa winery, Gustavo Thrace. This is the one we did the grape stomping at back in October.

October 29, 2012

Crazy weekend #4: Disneyland

Last weekend we was our final crazy weekend in October. And it sure was a doozy!

Friday night when Jim got off work, he and my mom and I piled into my car with our formal wear and a giant sack of healthy snacks and hit the road. Sevenish hours later, we pulled up to our hotel and couldn’t fall into bed quick enough (with one exception: we stayed at the Doubletree and they have those yummy chocolate chip cookies? Yea, Mom and I had to eat ours before we slept).

The next morning we forwent arriving at the park when it opened in favor of sleeping a few more hours, which I ended up quite grateful for. More on that later.

We got to the park just after 10 a.m. and spent a few hours with BJ and Ashley before they went back to their hotel for naps (they DID arrive at the park when it opened).

You can tell my coffee hasn’t hit me quite yet in this photo! I did love all the pumpkin decorations they had up for fall though. You can see Minnie Mouse in the background.

After lunch, Mom and Jim and I took off on our own and hit up our favorite rides: Peter Pan, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion (which had insanely long lines due to its new holiday makeover), and we got fast passes for Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Unfortunately, when we went to use our fast passes BOTH rides had just broken down. What the heck kind of bad luck is that? Not to mention, the rides I listed above are pretty much the only ones we got to ride. We didn’t even get to California Adventure because there were SO many people. I haven’t been to Disneyland in the past few years when it’s been this packed.
It really rather put a damper on our day, and made me both thankful and regretful that we slept those extra hours. If we hadn’t, I’d have been cranky as a hungry bear, but we’d also have had more time to go on rides in the morning. Oh, well. It is what it is.

I discovered one cool thing though: there’s a boat with my name in Pirates of the Caribbean!

Cool, huh? No, we didn’t get to ride in it. Our day wasn’t that lucky.

After we waited for about half an hour for Space Mountain to get back up and running, we gave up and went back to the hotel to change for dinner.  BJ and Ashley picked us up a little early and we headed back to the park for Rome Valley Vineyards’ annual winemaker’s dinner at Club 33.

We rode the train from the main gate back to New Orleans Square

We took our annual photo by the door. (Don’t you love how the humidity got to my hair? I look kind of creepy)

Last year’s photo

I believe this was our second…third?..course. Lobster Bisque and Asparagus Baklava. So delicious!

Dessert!!! So yummy! And so sad I only got two bites. 😦

BJ and Ashley. The girl peeking out from behind Ashley is Rachel, the manager (who was very cool, by the way). The guy is Matt. He was our server for my bachelorette party last year. And me and Mommy.

Bachelorette party: Matt’s hiding in the back, third head from the right. He was quite a trooper that night! 🙂

So back to last weekend. Dinner was amazing. So many courses of delicious food, such good wine and a great group of people. Despite some hiccups during the day, the evening turned out really well. Ashley turned 21 a couple of days before, so we celebrated her birthday as well as the new wine from the vineyard. I wish someone had gotten a photo of it, but BJ actually presented me with a really nice framed copy of the new label which I helped design as well as helping name the wine.

We left the park well after closing. It’s one of the coolest things. Picture this: it’s dark. It’s quiet. There are no people anywhere, except those who are cleaning and getting everything ready for the next day. Main Street is deserted. It’s one of the most bizarre and fascinating things I’ve ever seen.

Once back to the hotel, we took another annual photo:

The four of us girls.

Last year’s photo.

And one with Jim, because he’s pretty important too. 🙂

The next morning we got up, met BJ and Ashley and some of their other friends for breakfast and then started our seven hour drive home.

The weekend was short and crazy and fun and exhausting and it made me soooo glad to stay home and veg (and pack!!) this past weekend.  Now we’ve got more craziness ahead as we get to the end of our escrow period just in time for the holiday madness to begin. I guess I’d better start working on controlling my stress because the end is nowhere in sight!

Have a great Monday!!!

October 23, 2012

Crazy weekend #3: Grape Stomping

I told you my October was going to be crammed full of crazy weekends. On the coattails of our anniversary, last weekend we ventured to Napa to our favorite winery’s first annual grape stomping event.

Have you ever seen the movie Bottle Shock? If you like wine, I recommend you see it asap. It’s about a 1976 blind tasting competition between French wines and California wines, which kind of sounds totally boring, but it’s more about the time leading up to the competition. It centers around Chateau Montelena, a failing winery in the Napa Valley as well as a struggling immigrant, Gustavo Brambila who works the fields there.

Jim and I love this movie, so two years ago for his birthday, I surprised him with a trip to Napa to see Chateau Montelena as well as GustavoThrace, the winery that Gustavo Brambila eventually established with his business partner Thrace Bromberger.

Anyway, long story short, we loved GustavoThrace and we vowed to return as soon as we could.

Well, it’s been two years and we just managed to find the time to do it. And only because they offered a living social deal for it (interestingly, the same day I found the one for Monterey). We were beyond excited and knew we had to do it.

And it hadn’t changed a bit. At least in the good ways. The firs time we went down, we were treated more like family than customers. And upon meeting the rest of Gustavo’s family, we learned that that’s just the way they do things. They’re not like most businesses that put money before any thing else. They put people first. Then wine. And the, because everyone’s gotta eat, money.

But back to the event. It was their first annual, so everyone was new to the process. They decided to have a little fun with it instead of people just jumping in buckets and smushing grapes between their toes. When we arrived, we chose a colored bandana that identified which team we would be on. Over the course of our time there, we were to create a label for our new wine, which was a merlot and after the stomping was over, the labels were all judged and a winner chosen based on creativity, presentation and design.

And our group won! I wish I’d taken a photo of our label, but I did get one of all of our team with Gustavo.

And I got a few of the stomping itself.

Before stomping:

In the bucket:

After stomping:

It was actually quite chilly and the stems poked my feet. It was definitely an interesting new experience. I’d do it again. 🙂

Ok, I know I’m backed up…a whole weekend to be exact. But last weekend’s post is comin up soon!

October 17, 2012

One year down, the rest of our lives to go

I know, I know. I promised you a full report when we got back from our anniversary weekend, but things got a little crazy in the meantime. Jim gave us about half an hour to eat lunch when we got home from Monterey before we were off with our realtor looking at more houses. She had six lined up for us and boy were we striking out.

The first one was…weird. That’s the best we could describe it. Not bad. Just weird. Like you walk in from the street to what is essentially the back yard, with a pool and a patio and a bbq area. We then walked around the other side of the house, looking for the front door, but all we found was a small patch or tan bark surrounding the walkway…we’re talking a few feet from the fence to the house. The door was there, but it was…yea, weird. We went inside and into the first bedroom to the right. It had double closets, which was nice….but in the back of the second one was a door…to the next room, the den, basically. Weird, right? The kitchen was nice, good size. The living space was…big…and there was a little..sunroom? except there was no door, so it was more like a nook of windows…it was…yea, you guessed it. Weird. The master was small. Master bath was small. Overall, it wasn’t bad. We didn’t cross it off the list…not till later. But I’m getting there.

Next we saw two foreclosures on the other side of town, the side I don’t want to be on. I gave it a chance. It struck out. What can I say? These houses were AWFUL. Completely trashed, needed so much work AND priced way too high for us to even consider.

There were two houses in Rocklin. One the owners accepted a cash offer pretty much as we were on our way there and the other one, it ended up they weren’t ready to show it yet.

The last house we saw was in central Roseville, pretty much on the very edge between “I won’t live there” and “I’ll consider it for the right house.” We drove up and I wasn’t impressed yet. It is painted a pretty icky brown. But paint isn’t permanent and it really isn’t a huge deal to me. I just don’t care that much. What I did love at first sight was the red door. I have always told Jim I want a red door…in the past we even joked about him buying me a red door for our future house. So this red door was promising.

Once inside we found ourselves facing a lovely open floor plan, three bedrooms, a beautifully updated kitchen (in the exact color scheme I would have chosen myself) a really cool little den with french doors and a cute little backyard, a tiny bit smaller than we were hoping for, but it’ll do.

We put an offer in that night. They accepted the next morning. We had the contract by that afternoon and I was in the loan guy’s office the next morning signing paperwork. That being said, we’re in escrow! We just had the home inspection last night and there are no major problems. The house isn’t falling down or rotting from the inside out, so we’re moving forward. Appraisal should be next week and that’s pretty much our last major hump. As long as it appraises at or above what we offered, we’re moving forward!

So that’s why I haven’t posted about our anniversary yet. I haven’t had time to sit down and edit photos, mostly. And my brain has been on overdrive. Anyway, better late than never right?

The actual date of our anniversary was Monday October 8th, so we decided to take a long weekend, starting in Santa Cruz for a night with Jim’s grandparents.

Highlights of night one:

Hours of enjoyable conversation with the grandparents

Delicious dessert crepes at The Crepe Place (which won out over ice cream at Marianne’s because Jim hates the crowd and The Crepe Place has an amazing outside garden patio area)

Rescuing a cat from under the house

Grandma’s scalloped potatoes

In the morning, we started south for Monterey and stopped at one of Jim’s favorite beaches, Seacliff State Beach.

Toward the end of World War I, when the country was facing steel shortages, this ship, as well as two others like it were built of cement, but weren’t finished until the war ended. This ship, the Palo Alto, was towed here and settled into the bottom and became an amusement attraction with a dance floor, heated pool, cafe and other such concessions. The company that owned it went broke after two seasons and it was stripped and left to the seagulls. (source)

Its kind of sad, really.  It just sits there, half sunk and stinking like seals and seagull poop. We didn’t stay long. Just long enough to take some photos before climbing back up the 150 steps (yes, I counted) to the parking lot.

Once back on the road, it took us close to an hour to get to Monterey. We settled into our room and walked down to the wharf.

You like my gettin all crazy with my saturation? I think it looks cool.

Ok, real time now. This was our view at dinner. Not too shabby, eh?

It just occurred to me that I didn’t take any actual photos of the wharf. Oh, well. I did get this shot of Jim with our appetizer course before dinner (we had an hour before our dinner reservation and we were STARVED).

I know San Francisco is supposed to be The Man when it comes to clam chowder, but I’m not sure they’ve got Monterey beat. The next day we had another bread bowl from a different restaurant and we couldn’t tell which was better they were both so dang delicious…and different.

And I did get this photo of me trying on a cool mask in a store.

That night we picked up a bottle of wine from a little boutique wine shop after chatting wine with the owner for like half an hour. He was cool, knew his local stuff. We also stopped at the chocolate shop along the way and grabbed some dessert to go with our wine.

Don’t these look delish? Mine were the one with the jelly bean on top. It had peanut butter inside and the s’mores one with the graham crumbs on top. Jim’s were peach and coconut…also in the photo above you can see my dark caramel marshmallow and Jim’s key lime which were eaten before the photo below was taken.

The wine was so-so. A little dry for my taste, but it was drinkable.

The next day we went to the aquarium, Jim’s favorite part of Monterey. We were a little early, so we went to look at the bay and finish our coffee.

Jim doesn’t let me take many pictures of him…or us together for that matter. He gets so annoyed. So I’m going to post all four of them.

The first place we went was the penguins because they were being fed right as the aquarium was opening. This is my favorite shot. It’s blurred because he’s diving, but I love the spray of bubbles behind him and how just smooth he seems to be slicing through the water.

From there we went to check out a few other feedings, including the puffins. The one in the bottom left of the photo below was heading toward the door where the guy eventually came out with food. He sure knew where his meals came from!

My favorites are the jellies, I think. They’re so pretty and so bright and colorful. I don’t know, though. Seahorses are pretty dern cool too. They look so peaceful and serene…and also a bit mystical, like they might not exist outside of a fantasy or something.

The rest of the day we spent just sort of roaming around by the aquarium and resting. We got a couples massage, which I think is pretty overrated. There’s not much special about simply being massaged in the same room. Although I’m not sure what else I expected. Then we had a relatively early dinner, followed by another trip to the chocolate shop.

Dinner was interesting. We bought a living social deal for the hotel, which included a room, a spa credit and a restaurant credit. Well the restaurant was Spanish inspired, so they served tapas, which I’ve had only once before and Jim’s never had. It was interesting. And delicious and we would definitely do it again!

Grilled peaches with goat cheese and spinach and a tomato tart. I didn’t get a photo before we devoured our first course: hardboiled egg with shrimp and something spicy, watermelon with feta and fig and goat cheese toasts. Oh man, I want some just writing about it!

Free “Happy Anniversary” chocolate cake with raspberry gelato!

After dinner was the most special, though. No! Not like that.

On the last evening of our honeymoon in Santorini, we shared a delicious bottle of wine and watched the sunset over the Aegean Sea.

For Jim’s birthday last year, my mom bought (Read:imported) him a bottle and we decided to save it for our one year anniversary.

The next morning we left Monterey around 9:30, got home just after noon, ate lunch and met Kia to look at houses! And you know the rest.

February 13, 2012

Weekend Schenanigans

I don’t post on the weekend. I’ve come to realize and accept this. I’m just too busy, whether it be out and about having adventures or simply spending a relaxing Saturday on the couch catching up on Gossip Girl. I spend five days a week, roughly 7 hours a day in front of a computer screen. My eyes need a break!

This weekend, Jim and I decided to do something different. In fact, we decided that every other weekend we’re going to do something different. We got to talking and it seems like we always do the same thing on the weekends…granted, up until the past few weeks, Jim had been working Saturdays, so Sundays were our only day together and he really wanted to rest from his work week. But we decided every other weekend, we’re going to try something new and we’re going to take turns deciding what that thing is.

It was my turn first and I found us a fun event to go to in Clarksburg at the Old Sugar Mill. The mill houses six different wineries, and they were doing a Port, Wine and Chocolate event for Valentine’s Day.

The building used to be a working sugar mill, and now it’s been transformed into the Clarksburg Wine Company. They also do weddings, I guess, in the other side of the building, which is adorably run down with broken windows and exposed brick. I love it. I don’t wish we’d had our wedding there because I LOOOOOVE our own winery, but it would be cool to attend one there.

Like I said, there were about six wineries that participated in the event, so as you can imagine, we left the event with quite a bit of wine in our systems! Jim, fortunately, is 6’4 and doesn’t feel the effects as much as I do, so he was fine to drive.

On our way home, we stopped just on the other side of this cute little bridge to take a few pictures.

The rest of the evening, we spent at Jim’s brother’s house, catching up on the Bachelor (the girls) and working on DJ’s truck (the boys). We made tacos for dinner, and sat around the kitchen table laughing at the kids and chatting like normal people do over dinner (we usually eat in front of the television!).

On Sunday I met my good friend, Jenny, for coffee in the morning. We hadn’t had the chance to talk since before the wedding, and we both had lots of catching up to do!

In the afternoon, we drove up to the vineyard to visit with BJ and Ashley and help with a project we started with them over a month ago. It’s always so enjoyable to go up there. The time just floats away as if on a cloud and even when we’re “working,” it still feels like fun.

This morning I arrived to work feeling a little under the weather. But my mood was brought up exponentially when this little guy arrived.

How could you NOT smile?!

He had fun playing with his Uncle Jim.

And then my mom came and picked him up, and Jim left, and I was left alone with my computer screen once more…and of course, nothing to distract my mind from remembering that I wasn’t feeling well.

Now I’m still sitting here, except I’ve got a giant glass of bubbly water and 100% cherry juice (I’m feeling an impending bladder infection. Yuck), and all I want to do is go home and lie on the couch and…well, that’s as far as I’ve gotten but the situation has got to start looking up at that point, right?

How was your weekend? Did you try anything new?

February 10, 2012

Are you a red or a white?

I was talking to my father-in-law last night about wine. He manages a restaurant and I brought him a sample from Rome Valley last week to taste. It was, however, a white wine and when I asked him last night what he thought about it, he said it was a good wine, but he didn’t like whites, which brought us into a whole conversation about how some people are reds and some are whites.

And that was the way wine consumption was presented to me several years ago when I started drinking it myself. I latched onto whites first (probably because it was summer time) and immediately garnered myself the label of “white.”

At RVV's wine release party at Disneyland's Club 33 last summer, chardonnay in hand

But you wanna know something? I like red wine probably just as much if not more than I like white. To be entirely honest, I’ll take pretty much any wine you hand me and enjoy the heck out of it. In fact, my favorite two wines are pinot grigio, a white and barbera, which is a red. I am an equal opportunity wine drinker.

But my mom? She’s a red for sure. My brother? Red. Jim? Red. My friend Stacy? White.

It makes me wonder why people only like one or the other? They say wine is an acquired taste, so doesn’t it stand to reason that if you only like one or the other that sucking it up and drinking the one you aren’t fond of will cause you to “acquire” the taste? All I know is I love wine, both red and white and it seems a dern shame that some people limit themselves to only one or the other.

One thing I’m sure we can all agree on the deliciousness of is frozen yogurt.

I hadn’t had fro-yo in so long, it just sounded perfect last night. I filled my cup about 1/3 full with vanilla yogurt and then topped it with carob chips, peanut butter chips, blueberries, strawberries and red and white “Valentines” gummy bears (are you seeing the theme here?)….oh and some peanut butter cups too. I’ve always had a weird stigma about mismatching flavors, but I figured I’d give it a try, and it was sure yummy!….and to be totally honest, I didn’t eat any peanut butter chips with gummy bears or anything weird. They’re perfectly segregatable.

Are you a red or a white? Or are you both, like me?

January 25, 2012

12 things in 2012

I have fun making plans, goals, setting challenges for myself. I have a list of things to do before I die (where did the term “bucket list” come from anyway? I’m not a fan), but that’s a pretty broad range of time, so I figure I’ll write one for myself for the year as well and I’ll keep you all posted as I go along.

1. Launch Stephanie Sutherlin Photography

I love to photograph weddings

2. Finish The Girl in the Painting, a novel that I’m writing and submit it to an agent

3. Paint pottery with Jim

4. Enter a photo competition

I entered this one in a small competition last year. I believe it hit 4th place.

5. Move into a house

6. Read all the books on one of the shelves of my bookcase

I'm working on this one at present. It's so good.

7. Visit our friends in Las Vegas

8. Learn how to make wine

9. Find a cool new hiking spot

10. Cut my hair and donate to Locks of Love

11. Purchase a new camera body and a L-Series wide angle lens

12. Pay off our wedding (eep!)

So there they are. Twelve goals. Although in light of yesterday’s events, some of these may be more difficult than others. Like I said, I’ll keep ya posted!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

January 16, 2012

One of those Sundays

Sunday has a bit of stigma about it. It’s supposed to be a day of rest. And they don’t call it Sunday Funday for nothing. Except in our house (apartment), it’s usually spent on the couch with movies or catching up on shows and a coffee table full of “nosh.” And that’s fine with me. It’s good to have a day to just hang out and recharge your batteries for the week ahead.

But this Sunday was not one of those  Sundays. The Sunday was of the Funday variety. My friend Beth had mentioned meeting up with us, but I hadn’t talked to Jim till late Saturday night because we both got home late. So Sunday morning, I rolled over, looked at him and said “Let’s have an adventure today!

He grumbled a bit because it was only 8:30 and he usually gets up closer to 10 or 11. But once he came into full consciousness, he was quite receptive to the idea.

So I texted Beth and told her we’d meet her in Petaluma in a few hours!

Of course, we needed to make a few stops first.

Model Bakery in downtown Napa for some breakfast

And of course, who can drive through Napa without doing a little wine tasting? Unfortunately, our favorite winery, Gustavo-Thrace, was closed for some reason. It’s right across from the bakery, but another favorite, Jacuzzi winery (yes, of the jacuzzi tub fame…they also made airplane propellers…dynamic family, eh?), was open and hoppin’. I didn’t get any photos there because it was a mad house, and I kind of forgot, but I did get a shot of this cabbage like plant outside.

Kinda cool, eh?

From there we headed up to Petaluma, my college stomping grounds. In the three years and change Jim and I have been together, I’ve never taken him up there and shown him around. It was a perfect day to do it. The sun was shining, it wasn’t too cold. It made for a nice walk through the Sonoma State campus.

 

The main quad at SSU

There were tons of ducks in the lake

My alumni brick

From there we finally met my friend Beth at the outlets in Petaluma (Sonoma State in actually in Rohnert Park…but it’s in Sonoma County, so I guess that works.)

Downtown Petaluma...from my favorite Starbucks!

Petaluma holds a special place in my heart. When I was little, we’d spend weekends at Dillon Beach. The closest city was Petaluma, so when we’d get too bored at the beach while my dad and brothers were fishing, my mom and I and the other girls would go into Petaluma to shop, have lunch, get away from the windy, sandy, cold beach (Northern California, people, NORTHERN).

Also, when I was in college, it was where I worked, and also where I live for two years. It’s the first home I made on my own without my family. I love it there, and even though I don’t live there anymore, it still makes me happy to cruise through the streets of downtown, stop at my favorite Starbucks or bookstore. The only part of Petaluma I am not so fond of is running into my ex….which hasn’t happened in the four years since we broke up and, of course, it would happen the day I bring my husband up.

I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I spun around immediately and walked the other way. His head was down, so he didn’t see us, but it was such a weird feeling. It was almost just an instinctive reaction. I don’t remember thinking about it, I just remember my eyes hitting him, then my feet spinning around and rushing away.

But enough of the unpleasantness, there was far more fun to be had!

We met Beth at the outlets….and had a little fun with hats at Saks.

 

Isn't he cute? LOL

 

After we’d laughed out butts off, we drove to my favorite Thai restaurant for a late lunch. My favorite dishes are yellow curry and pad thai (of course, right?). This place makes the best I’ve ever had.

And who can eat thai food without a thai iced tea?

The lady who served us (who I think also owns the place) was super nice and brought us, on the house, a small pre-appetizer. It was sticky rice with some sort of tomato sweet and sour sauce. When she brought it to the table she asked us if we knew how to eat. We told her we’d never had it before (which was true. It must have been a new thing), so she proceeded to take Beth’s fork and fill it with rice before spooning some of the sauce on top. We were expecting something incredibly complex, but we went with it. I’m sure it’s not the only way to eat the stuff….

Not sure how we would have managed this without such detailed instructions

I’m not sure we could have asked for a better Sunday (with the exception of seeing the ex…at least I looked good in case he did happen to catch a glimpse!). Of course, it would have been nice if our favorite winery had been open. And I wish I’d taken more photos, but I guess being caught up in the moment is a good reason not to get a shot of every experience.

We even got home at a decent hour, and were able to watch a little bit of tv and cuddle on the couch, my favorite part of most of our Sundays.

December 5, 2011

We have our Christmas tree!!!

This weekend was kind of a blur.

Friday night was slumber party night at the vineyard, although my mom got sick and wasn’t able to make it. The three of us had a ton of fun anyway. We worked on my cherry zinfandel fudge recipe…which didn’t quite work the way I wanted it to, although it tasted AMAZING. We worked on decorating and had a delicious dinner and watched Christmas in Boston (has anyone seen that? It’s soooo good!). It was a long night, but full of much needed fun and relaxation!

The next morning we began working on putting lights and decorations up at the shop. Lack of sleep + people not showing up who promised to made me kind of cranky early on, but as everything started going up and becoming festive, my mood changed (putting on Christmas music helped too!).

In the afternoon, my mom and I went to a Christmas tea that my friend, Liz, from college and her mom and sisters host every year. Liz moved away to go to grad school, so it was nice to see her and catch up. It’s something my mom and I look forward to every year. Just sitting there, sharing tea memories and steaming cups of the delicious drink and so much food we never leave hungry. It’s a delightful break from all the madness!

That evening I went home, changed for the third time that day and Jim and I met his boss and a client of theirs for dinner at Scott’s Seafood in Sacramento. We ate and drank and sat and talked for hours. I had never met the client before and he and his girlfriend were lovely people. She and I were sitting at one end of the table, so we talked about food, cooking, kids, crappy mattresses and how different it is to live with men than alone!

All in all, it was a pretty great day. I fell into bed and was asleep almost immediately.

Sunday we got up late, I made gingerbread french toast that didn’t quite taste enough like gingerbread but was still delicious and we went out and got our Christmas tree!

We went with Jim’s mom and step dad and his little niece, Mya.  She had so much fun, especially because there were free cookies and hot cocoa…..

With PINK marshmallows!!!

They were peppermint flavored. So yummy!

Mya and her pink marshmallow hot cocoa

We went out to lunch at Max’s where Jim’s step dad is the general manager and I am a server (although technically I haven’t worked a shift in 5 months. eep!), and then went home to decorate!

Since our apartment is rather small, we tried to find a tree that about matched its size. When we got the thing in, I was worried that it wasn’t going to fit in the corner we had our tree last year (and the only corner that would actually fit a tree at all!), but even with the angel on top, it fit in perfectly!

Jim fighting with the net around the tree

 

One of our favorite ornaments my mom got us in Alaska last year

Despite being totally exhausted, it was a really fun evening. We ate our usual Sunday “nosh” (maybe I’ll post about that next week!), watched a Christmas movie (which I fell asleep in the middle of), and fell into bed without an ounce of trouble falling asleep.

How was your weekend? Do you have your Christmas tree up yet?