Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Wine Country Part 2

Since our trip to the wine country was postponed due to John's work schedule it gave me more time to plan for this trip.  In order not to forget what I booked and keep track of our dinner reservations I made a spreadsheet.  I still goofed and double booked a wine tasting and an olive oil tour.  Guess which one we ended up missing.

On Tuesday we did "beginners" bike tour with two stops at local wineries.  One of them was the Buena Vista Winery.  One of my favorites this trip.  It could have been the 5-mile bike ride and that last push up that hill that made the wine taste so good.  

 Rick was our guide on this tour and was just wonderful.  Patient, knowledgeable, and a sweetheart.
If anyone wants to do a bike tour in Napa I would highly recommend this company.

Back to the Buena Vista Winery......... This is the Private Members Club Room.

Our happy little group close to the end of our wine tour.  The second winery was Gundlach Bundschu. Also very good wine and one of the largest private owned wineries.  Five generations in.

Our last wine tasting was at the Ledson Castle.  This wine is only sold to club members and this is how they get ya!  We are now members and look forward to our cases of wine.

We received a complimentary tasting since we stayed at their hotel in town.  The hotel is a gorgeous boutique hotel with only six rooms, all with balconies.  Some facing the parking lot and some facing the street.  Ledson Hotel is one of my favorite and hope that one day we can go back.

Another upside on this hotel is the location. We were walking distance from the best restaurants in Sonoma.  In fact, one of the top chefs, Ben Ford replied to my Instagram comment and recommended a few including The Girl and The Fig.  It did not disappoint.  Harvest Moon was across from us and was our favorite meal of the week and there were quite a few to choose from.

The square where the hotel is located also consisted of the most adorable shops with matching price tags of course.
Sonoma Grille
A Week in Wine Country Spreadsheet

I had several more photographs but did not want to bore everyone.  I hope this helped in nudging some of you to head to Wine Country.  As my husband says "Those wine plants, sure are purty."

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Wine Country Vacation

It's funny despite the beautiful life I am blessed to have, I never considered myself to be a lucky person.  I don't win on slot machines and the few times I purchased lotto tickets/scratch offs, they didn't pay off.  (insert sad face here)  However, that changed when I won an all expense trip to Napa Valley for 3 nights and 4 days.   I think now I have used up all the "luck" that was granted to me for raffles and gambling.  But that doesn't mean I won't keep trying.

John and I finally went and enjoyed a wonderful week in Napa and Sonoma.  We ended up extending the vacation to an entire week.  We also invited John's bosses since they never been and because they are very gracious in inviting us to Bonaire and Key West on a regular basis.

Day One, John and I rose at 4:30 AM to begin our adventure in Napa in a hot air balloon.  We used Napa Valley Balloon Adventures and found them exceptional.  Had a great time, breakfast afterward with bottomless mimosas.  What is there not to like?

The resort we stayed on was the Meritage Resort and Spa. Beautiful rooms and facility.  Huge hotel but easy to get around in, the restaurant was tasty with good service, and spacious bathrooms in our room.

 One of the perks in our package was a ride on the wine train, yes you heard right, a wine train.  It begins in downtown Napa around 11:00 am and includes, wine, appetizers and a gourmet lunch. The food and experience were amazing!!!!  I found out they have different packages for the train and worth exploring and doing again.

The day before our train ride we had lunch at The Bounty Hunter.  A cute little restaurant that served barbecue and bourbons.  No vodka, but craft beer and wine of course.  I had my doubts about barbecue in California but this place had amazing food. In fact, most restaurants were absolutely delicious.

 At the Domaine Carneros Winery
Great champagne and Pinot here

 The setting was beautiful here and the vegetation is heavenly.  Here is John enjoying some props.  The wine here was mediocre.  They served a lot of Rose' type of wines.

Here a few pictures of wine country and us enjoying the countryside. Tomorrow I will work on part two of our trip.


Appetizers aboard the Wine Train

Salmon with barbecue sauce (Wine Train Lunch)

Having a fabulous time and happy to be able to share this with my honey


Saintbury Winery

Appetizer pairings with Champagne

Gloria Ferrer Wine Cave

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


As time goes on and we "mature" our definition of friendship changes.  Either consciously or unconsciously but it happens.  We hold a higher value to the word and it's meaning as time goes on. As time whines down. We start choosing discerningly.

As children everyone we encountered was a friend.  By the end of visit to the park we left with thoughts of the new friends we made only never to see them again.  But those few precious moments of playing we left with the feeling of camaraderie.

As we grow into our teen years we find ourselves looking for friends we share our struggles, similarities, and ideals.  High School was an altogether different animal when it came to friendship.  At an age most of us are self involved, self aware, and self conscience it's a wonder we even knew what true friends were.  You learned quick in high school who to trust and who you could not. Promises broken, boyfriends cheating, backstabbing here and there we all found our place.  Lessons are  learned in those years and believe me I learned a lot about myself those years. Good and bad.

Through trial and error I learned what a true friend meant and more importantly what it means to be a good friend.   You cannot have one without the other.  I have had friendships where they thought more of me then I of them. Those did not end well.    I had no idea and was clueless how much value they placed in our friendship.  Some of my deepest regrets.

Robin, Me and Carmen. 
My 40th Birthday Dinner in Galveston, TX 2006

One special person has been my Ying to my Yang.  Where I am ball of emotion, she is the sound of reason.  Well, actually I have  few of those friends.  Through different stages of my life I have needed help growing up.  And God placed these special women and men in my life to help me along my journey.  Thank you, I honestly can say I would not be here if it wasn't for you all.

Ruidoso, NM 2005

Currently my heart, prayers, and thoughts go to one special family friend.  Carmen.  I met Carmen in 2002 when our girls attended second grade together. In a sea of friendly faces and new surroundings we found our joy.  Our families, vacationed together, played sports (at least the girls did),  hunted,  swim team, girl scouts, and the list goes on.  As time would have it, the years passed and before you know it the girls were off to college. And here we are 15 years later, appreciating the memories and our times together and apart.
Gosh they were so cute!

I've learned with all things you must appreciate the gift of today, the now, the here and the company you keep.  At the age that my friends parents are now passing as well as our own you are reminded that everything changes.  Except my playlist of music.  It pretty much stays back in the 1970's.   And looking at some of these pictures my wardrobe doesn't change much either!

Northwest Assistance Ministries Diamond & Denim Gala 2007
Houstonian Hotel (Carmen's Nephew's wedding) 2012 (est.)

Dave Matthews Concert at the Cynthia Woods Pavilion 2012
So as you can see this post is about my friendship with Carmen. And how with time my list of "friends" has dwindled to the ones who mean the world to me.  Making time for them is the priority this year.  My 50th birthday celebration showed me who truly loved me and it shook me to my core. How privileged I am to have so many beautiful fun, kind people in my life.

Atlantic City, NJ 2013
But most of all I am thankful and fortunate to have a friend when in need will turn to me and say "Hey, I need you and this is what is going on with me.".  That is the badge of courage, love and friendship.

So here I am celebrating my friend Carmen and our friendship.  May we have another 15 years plus in each other's life.
My birthday on Washington Ave. Pub Crawl 2011

Pizza by Elizabeths in Greenville, DE
I apologize for all the pictures but I love every single memory they bring me along with the smiles and giggles attached to each one.  

I love you Carmen and even though God did not give me a sister, he did give me you.

Witch's Night Out 2016

Love these two! 2006