Right out of a movie

I’m going to give all credit to Carley on this one. She researched and booked the world’s most incredible brunch at Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley.

1.5

Let’s just say, this isn’t your standard 3-Michelin star restaurant. This place is, quite honestly, a friggin’ Swiss Family Robinson-style experience, complete with servers that have timed deliveries and round-table speeches to introduce each individual plate.

2

3

Our brunch took place outdoors on the wraparound deck overlooking California’s Napa Valley. I was half expecting to have chimpanzees swing onto our shoulders during the dessert course.

4

5

6

This is one of those, when in Rome, experiences – we all ordered a cocktail and cheers’ed to ending this first couple’s trip with a bang.

Bloody mary’s and mimosas all around! Of course, they were ordered using the table iPad in front of us.

7

16

The brunch menu looked a little like this.  You choose a drink, a beginning, a sustenance, and a dessert.

8

9

 

12

11

10

By memory, Brett and I shared the half dozen oysters, the cow’s milk burrata with grilled radicchio, a Maine lobster omelet, a Kurobuto pork chop, and two fantastic desserts from this menu.

13

14

I know for sure we choose the Chocolate Peanut Butter one, and I couldn’t guess what the second one was. Let’s just say they both rocked our socks off. Finish up with a little cappuccino and we are ready to see that bill, server!

15

Somewhere along the lines of $700 and vacation, we didn’t care what this meal cost. Once in a lifetime, eating on a beautifully exotic deck overlooking Napa, with some of the best friends life could give us.

main pic for POST

We took one more pano picture and all piled into the cars. Windows down, wind whipping our hair all over the place. We took the scenic route home. Along the rolling vineyards of Napa, promising ourselves we’ll be back some day.

1

We stopped at the nearby grocery store on the way to Oliviera, to pick up dinner supplies (I know, we just had brunch… but we didn’t want to have to drive again once we got home.) We taste-tested some frosting, picked up some grilling materials and a quinoa salad or two – then we headed back.

19 first

The rest of our last full day in paradise was spent laughing, listening to music, jumping in the hot tub, grilling and playing Cards Against Humanity.

17

18

20

21

22

Without going into the details of our sad goodbyes the next morning, let’s just say this trip was a terrific first couple’s trip – one we won’t soon forget.

Where will the next one take us? Locations we have thrown around : Hawaii, Colorado Backcountry, to the coast of North Carolina…

The world really is our oyster. And traveling in groups allows for a more exotic lodging experience since we’re splitting it 8+ ways…

Thank you for a truly memorable trip : Carley & AJ, Katie & Scott, Molly & Chris, and the best traveler I know and love, Brett

Until next time,
e

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Round two!

We wake up with barely a hangover. Win! Refuel with a little morning java and enjoy our patio before getting ready for the day and more importantly, before our limo arrives.

pic 1
Since we already had a mug of coffee down the hatch. We figured it’s time to get the party started.… poppin’ bottles.  Before you get worried about our alcohol intake, please remember, the whole point of renting a limo for this trip was the sole fact that we planned to be inebriated.  As classy and sophisticated as we could… but definitely not sober.
IMG_2070
IMG_2081
IMG_9304
Our first stop is one that we highly recommend for those visiting the Sonoma area.
St. Francis Winery & Vineyard. We scheduled their Food & Wine Pairing experience for 11am on a Friday afternoon filled with sunshine and cool breezes.  This vineyard is built on some beautiful landscape (aren’t they all?) A very popular place for people to get married.  Gorgeous mountains in the background.
IMG_2082
IMG_2085
IMG_2088
The pairing took place inside a lovely structure, the doors open to the fresh air outside.  There were two tables positioned half-circle style with the seating on the outside of the curves.  The wine experts walked through and around as they introduced each pairing.
IMG_2099
IMG_2091
IMG_9310
IMG_9307
Each place setting had a leather-bound portfolio with the menu details & a notepad to write tasting notes in.  I vaguely remember doodling hilarious stick figure pictures and Bob Marley quotes on mine… at one point during the experience, Brett looks over and exclaims, “My feet feel like cotton!”  He is entirely enjoying himself, on top of the dosage of DayQuil (for his head cold) taken 30 minutes prior.  It’s amazing what a little vino and a little acetaminophen will do to ignite the senses!
IMG_9306
IMG_2100
To be honest, I don’t even remember what all we had {so zoom in on this picture & read it!}  Nevertheless,  it’s true when they say pairing wine with a specific food enhances the flavors, it really works!  The whole experience was a delight. Something we would do again in a heart beat.
IMG_9302
IMG_9312
Back in the limo we go.  The next stop, Ledson Winery and Vineyards. Originally, it was being built as a home, with 17 acres of Merlot planted on the grounds.  But as the structure was built, and the public became more interested, they ended up turning it into a vineyard and tasting room.  (well played Ledson clan!)  The structure is built with a French Normady-esque style, 16,000 square feet of woodwork and marble staircases.  Never missing the opportunity for a photo op, we enjoyed the front garden area with beautiful white roses and fountains.
IMG_2161
IMG_2164
IMG_2198
IMG_9309
IMG_9313
Their tasting room had wood floors and a beautiful bar area.  We sidled up and started to learn about their vines.  Little breadsticks were my saving grace as we sipped and sipped some more.
IMG_2169
IMG_2170
IMG_2171
IMG_2177
IMG_2193
After the tasting, we bought a bottle and went out back on their patio.  Some of us took naps in the sun : star-fished on the ground & loving life {cough, Carley}.  We toasted to friendship & love, as we looked at the rows of vines grown there.  What a neat place to have a summer party or a murder mystery dinner!
IMG_2197
IMG_9305
A pretty spectacular roundup of the troops and we’re onto the next one!  Benziger Family Winery for the win!  This next one is a little blurry for me.  Understandably so; three vineyards in and I’m reaching my limits.
We made a pit stop potty break upon arrival (extremely necessary says the girl with the squirrel-sized bladder).  Then we hop on an extended golf cart for a tour of the vineyards.  Our tour guide explained the wine-making process at their location and the background story of the family that built Benziger into what it is today.
IMG_2199
IMG_2206
I’ll be honest, a lot of what he said went in one ear and out the other.  We stopped along the tour at a little wooden hut and cracked open a white bottle of wine.  He served it to us in logo-etched wine glasses – nice touch.
IMG_2225
IMG_2231
Cool little place.  Gorgeous farm animals to fertilize the soil.  Fluffy, mop-headed cows and little baby goats.  Ten points to Gryffindor for the golf cart ride, as I was not about hiking all over those poo-filled rows of vines.
IMG_9301
IMG_9303
IMG_9308
The middle of the tour took us into the wine caves where, guess what we did?… had some more vino.  It’s a lot of traveling small distances and then drinking wine.  Rinse & repeat.
IMG_2237
IMG_2239
There was a really neat room deep into the cave that we all grabbed a spot at.  It felt very Knights of the Roundtable-esque, with tapestries hanging on the wall and unique art pieces.
IMG_2240
IMG_9311
In the wine cave, I got in trouble for trying to snag some more breadsticks, but, please, this was a girl looking after herself!  Atleast some part of my mind knew I needed water and food.  Stat.
We circled around the vineyards on the golf carf and finished the tour in their Main Bar / Tasting Room.  I couldn’t tell you what took place in that space.  The next thing I remember is getting into the limo and somehow making it home in one piece.
Now, THAT was a tour of Sonoma.
Dinner plans were supposed to involve a bacon-infused local hotspot called Zazu, but we couldn’t make it happen.  We grabbed a variety of chicken breasts and brats at the grocery store to grill-out instead.  And it rocked our socks off.
Oh yeah, and we drank water, lots of water.
xo,
e
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Good Morning Sonoma!

We wake up and the boys cook some eggs.  A nest egg, as Brett calls them.

IMG_4779
IMG_4777
We giggle and catch up on the deck.  Overlooking the mountain and unreal landscape.  All of a sudden, the limo is on it’s way and we are rushing to pull ourselves together.
The limo pulled into the gravel driveway and the driver hops out to introduce himself.  He opens the back door and we all pile in.  Champagne, soda, water… there were glass champagne glasses and bottle openers.  Living the life!
On our way to the first vineyard, our driver recommends we pull into a Whole Foods-like grocery store and pick up some lunch, since we were headed a little into the countryside and wouldn’t have many options.  We all hop out, grab sandwiches, pasta salads, hummus, and in Brett’s case, head cold materials.
Our first vineyard stop was Ferrari-Carrano.  This place looked like it was fresh out of Alice in Wonderland.  The grounds were landscaped to perfection.  Freshly-cut grass, sculptures, fountains, and beautiful vineyards as far as the eye could see.  The building itself was a marble, cream-colored structure with ornate railings and large windows.  The tasting was held in the basement, a spot called the Prevail Room.
IMG_4788
IMG_4784
IMG_4783
IMG_4785
IMG_4786
IMG_4790
IMG_4794
IMG_4795
Our directions were to choose 4 or 6 different wines on a small paper menu.  The wines were poured and the 8 of us sat at a large table underneath beautiful black, exotic lighting fixtures.  Downstairs is where the large room of wine barrels are located as well.
IMG_4791
IMG_4792
IMG_4796
IMG_2030
IMG_4800
IMG_4782
IMG_4797
IMG_4798
IMG_2268
After Ferrari-Carano, we hop back in the limo and head towards Bella Vineyard & Wine Cave.  Both Katie and I had great reviews from friends about this vineyard and really wanted to make it work.  We pulled into Bella and the limo driver popped the trunk.  In the back he had flatware and every other material needed for a picnic.  Cool!  He spread out a tablecloth and we all munched on the grocery store grub.  It was nice (& necessary!) to get something in our stomach.
IMG_4801
IMG_4804
A dog that lives on the grounds begged for food : made the experience that much more welcoming.  AJ gathered wine glasses so we could have some vino while lunching.
IMG_4802
IMG_4803
IMG_4805
After eats, we walked into this cave-style area that was nestled underneath a hill.  Towards the back it was dark and cold, but lively and filled with people tasting wine around a little bar area.  We grabbed a small table and tasted our way through the menu.  This was a really cool little place with lots of personal touches. I could picture a gorgeous wedding reception being held on the grounds.
IMG_4806
IMG_4807
IMG_4808
IMG_4809
IMG_4810
IMG_4811
We all hopped back in the limo and headed back towards Oliviera.  Some of us weren’t feeling too hot and took a cat nap while the vineyards rolled by the windows.  Brett got a head cold and was desperately trying to sleep it off (or was it too much Zin?)
IMG_4812
IMG_4814
IMG_4815IMG_4816
Back in Glen Ellen, we lounged and rehydrated.  The boys jumped in the hot tub and the ladies mixed some drinks.  Towards the evening time, we dressed up and headed towards The Girl and the Fig.  A small, local restaurant with high ratings.  I was impressed that they were so conscious of wasted water & drought in the area.  Fresh olives (pitted & non) were waiting as a starter, yay!  We dined on Fig and Arugula Salad, a Cucumber Soup, Burgers and Pork Chops.  The food was delicious (& expensive!), but worth the splurge.
IMG_4817
IMG_4818
IMG_4819
IMG_4821
IMG_4823
IMG_4825
I cannot remember what was so funny, but Carley almost giggle / choked to death.  Luckily, nurse AJ was seated next to her.
IMG_4824
IMG_2121
We headed back towards Oliviera, in a food coma.  Driving up the dark, steep, winding mountain towards home.  We gathered enough energy to play a hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity before turning in for the night.
xo,
e
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sonoma : we’re here!

We wake up, Katie & Scott land in San Fran, grab a rental car and pick us up.  We’re together! Two couples! Success… so far.  The rest of the morning involves us driving to the house in Glen Ellen for our wine weekend.  A few hours on the road, catching up, Brett & Scott meeting for the first time… we’ve talked about that FOREVER, and it has finally happened!

IMG_4766
En route to the home, we pass rows upon rows of the most beautiful landscape – Sonoma views at their finest.
IMG_4813
Our journey thus far had left us hungry, so we stopped for a bite to eat at Kenwood.
A logical thought had us sipping on a variety of brews, since we knew the entire weekend would be filled with wine-induced joy.
IMG_4771
IMG_4768
IMG_4770
For the life of me, I cannot remember the type of open-faced sandwich I had.  Some sort of fish, not salmon… maybe salmon? Clearly it wasn’t memorable.  It was hard to keep all the moving pieces in place without toppling over into my lap.  Nevertheless, we laughed and started the weekend off right.
IMG_4769
IMG_4780
IMG_4772
The calm before the beautiful storm.  There was maybe one more work phone call to take [Scott] – so we insisted on me taking a picture of Katie taking a picture of Brett taking a picture of Scott on the phone, with his work, in the parking lot, in God’s-freaking-country-Sonoma.
IMG_4774
We paid the bill and hightailed it out of there.  Molly & Chris were driving in a rental with Carley & AJ.  We were all within the same zip code and the energy was palpable.
The house we rented, called Oliviera…due to the olive trees growing on the property… was located up a mini-mountain.  The rental (a VW) handled the 45 degree incline nicely.  Sun shining, wind whipping through our car.  We cruised into the gravel parking lot and got out to explore.
IMG_4775
 The home has luxurious bedrooms, multiple bathrooms with tiled showers.  A pool, a hot tub, a fully-equipped kitchen, flat screen… the amenities don’t end.  They have their own shampoo and bars of soap made by a nearby body shop.  Fresh ground coffee is available for us in a welcome kit, made by local coffee shop.
IMG_4781
IMG_4778
We can’t think of a detail they have left out.  Dave and David are apparently a doctor (am I making that up?…) and an interior designer/realtor who recognized this property as a prime location.. let me tell you, they were right!
The other four showed up moments after we arrived… and a good five minutes were spent hugging one another in excitement.  Is this what it feels like to be grown up? To be adults? Four happy couples meet in Sonoma, rent a multi-million dollar home for a long weekend of wine-tasting, Cards Against Humanity laughter, grill outs on the deck and memory making?  I know all are not as fortune.  We are blessed beyond dreams for this opportunity.
A quiet close to our first official day in Sonoma… we grilled chicken, drank on the patio and the four of us girls giggled at our fortune.  Well, at least I did.  What a treat to be enjoying a beautiful property, in a gorgeous part of the country, with some of the best people I know.
I love my life.
xo
e
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sonoma recap : it’s about time

It’s time for a Sonoma recap! I have so many pictures, it’s taken a bit to edit them, filter them, put them away for awhile and then revisit.  Here we go!

A little pre-flight stretching while waiting for our early morning flight in MPLS. It doesn’t really matter where we go and for how long, I love traveling with this man. Nothing but memories and adventure!

IMG_4759

IMG_4758

IMG_4760

Brett and I arrived in San Francisco on Tuesday & planned to meet up with the rest of the crew Wednesday morning. In cost-effective fashion, we booked the cheapest hotel we could find.  Turns out the cheapest hotel in San Fran at that time was ten minutes from the airport, Hotel Focus. I’m not sure what they were focusing on because this was a less than basic hotel, and by basic I mean, not entirely sanitary.  There were mattresses leaned up against the wall along the hallway.  The “continental” breakfast had about 4 cheese danishes that may or may not have been expired.  I will say this, we knew going in that it was not going to be the average hotel experience.  I think we overestimated it, still.  We both slept with one eye open, wearing flip flops.  Our feet do not touch the ground while we are there.  Necessary precautions were taken.

IMG_4763

We hiked a few miles through an industrial area near our hotel to get to the closest Target.  Which coincidentally was connected to a mall.  We walked around, mostly people watching.  Came across a tiny nail salon and decided if their manicures were less than $25, we would both get one.  Low and behold, they were $20.  We got ‘em. Yes, Brett enjoyed it.  After nail time we had happy hour at an awesome spot whose name escapes me.  For dessert, we hiked across the way and ended up at BJ’s Brewhouse.  It was crazy hoppin’ busy.  We easily decided on the Pizookie (pronounced pa-zoo-kee) Trio (cookies w/ an ice cream scoop) because who passes up the chance for a Pizookie?
IMG_4761
IMG_4762
It was darker than dark and we weren’t interested in sprint walking back the way we came, so we cabbed home and called it a night.
xo,
em.j
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

decompression mode….

We went to Sonoma.

We saw.  We conquered.  I plan to blog about it in full detail soon… I took entirely way too many pictures (is there such a thing?) and I’m semi-depressed it’s over.

Fear not.

We will return, hopefully sooner rather than later.

What a dream trip!

xo

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

it’s a little damp out there

Is this what it feels like to live in Seattle?  Everyday, it never fails, rain coming down.  Drizzling, dreary, gray.  Cold, windy, blustering.  The only things I want to do are as follows, in no particular order:

-read

-drink hot apple cinnamon tea

-watch movies (specifically Game of Thrones and Dexter

-bake banana bread (been on my list of To-Do’s for 1/2 a year now)

-wear flip flops with every outfit, business, casual or otherwise

-go to the gym and sweat next to all the other fanatics avoiding an outdoor workout

-plan a future trip, any future trip, specially to a location bordering the ocean with plants such as these

-attempt to be productive & become defeated as it turns to nonproductiveness because no one else is

-get ready to go out somewhere just to realize my mane of hair will frizz and my makeup will run

-dream of living somewhere the sun never shines and swiftly slap myself in the face

-encourage my Yorkie to take a bathroom break while getting soaked

-change my pants every time I come inside as the cuffs are wet

-lay on the ground and pretend to meditate

-wake up with high hopes of sunshine

-go back to sleep

-keep sleeping

-woozah

 

Counting down the hours to Tuesday… our next adventure awaits.

Couples trip in Sonoma, CA!

xo,

 

Listening to

Sipping on

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

all my ladies

A syncing of photos from the iPhone to the Air reminded me I had a story I wanted to post.  Over Christmas holiday, I was reunited with my five close girlfriends from high school.  Most of them attend our annual girl’s trip.  We had a 2-hour time span where our schedules would overlap and we could spend some time connecting.  It was decided, a midweek brunch at The Kenwood.  Fresh snow had fallen and we stomped our way into this beautifully-decorated dining spot.

IMG_8559

IMG_8558

 

IMG_8573

 

Plaid wall paper, horse hooks for your coat and mismatched framed art with vintage lamps.

In true Minnesotan form, we wore “your-car-might-get-stuck-in-the-snow-and-you-have-to-walk” boots of all kinds.  A staple in any Midwestern girl’s wardrobe.

IMG_8563

IMG_8564

 

The great part about this group is, we can be literally ANYWHERE and fully appreciate the time we spend together.  We will laugh on the side of the street in Vancouver.  Bundle up in white bathrobes and be morally supportive of the tallest girl singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” to a half-empty room on a cruise ship.  Enjoy a day drinking shopping spree in downtown Chicago.  We can be anywhere, at any time, and enjoy every moment of it.

In true fashion, brunch was spectacular.  We dined on a handful of delicious plates, I had an Omelette Florentine and we all toasted to friendship and forward momentum.

IMG_8557

IMG_8568_2

IMG_8565

IMG_8566

 

And what happens after we dine + cheers?  We laugh and pass around Carla’s beautiful wedding ring (does AJ know this is a tradition?) as we talk about the future and everything we are looking forward to.

IMG_8570

IMG_8572

 

These ladies make me whole again.  Cheers to a new year and another year of being blessed with these girlfriends.

IMG_5473

Carla (Florida), Molls (Minn), Meg (Colorado), Rach (Georgia), Kates (Arizona), and me

So incredibly happy,

xo

Listening to.

Sipping on.

Dreaming about.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

first kiss video

Have you seen it yet?  Of course you have.  All over every social media platform is this beautiful piece called, First Kiss.

After watching it three times once I had to do a little more research.  It got millions of views in just a day, right now it sits at 16,207,600 after being posted yesterday afternoon.  It’s a simple piece of strangers gathered together and their only task is to kiss the person in front of them.  Today, clothing line, wren, announced it was their video to showcase their Fall 2014 line.  Wren’s creative director, Melissa Coker is genius!  And the song playing in it?  It’s called “We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow” by Soko – guess how many copies were sold on iTunes today?…. apparently one million.  One million songs sold in one day.  Incredible!

I don’t know why, but I just love this video.

These are strangers, kissing, and it is so real to me.  It’s heart-warming.

xo,

a romantic

Sipping on.

Dreaming about.

Looking forward to.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

this life (and NYC) is incredible

I’m surprised how long I’ve waited to write another post.  Other creative outlets have consumed me and made me whole… alas, here I am, back to blogging and so excited to share updates on my life.  Let’s talk about NYC for a minute.  Holy incredible! What a beautiful place!  We spent a nonstop 72 hours of pure adventure, chasing the subway, laughing until we cried, spending romantic moments under the stars on the streets of Chinatown… I’m so incredibly blessed to be able to take opportunities to travel, and even more blessedly in love with the man I adventure with.  Brett is such a rockstar traveler… he is spot on and undeniably smart – figuring out subway schedules, booking, planning… someday he may even become as good a planner as me…

Here are a few of my favorite images – I’ll describe them in a singular sentence.

IMG_8927

 

Fresh off a 6am American Airlines flight and feeling like a pair of travel ninjas.  Yes, he shaved his head (yes, it’s growing back quickly!)

IMG_8928

A brief pause at Starbucks.. we felt it was appropriate considering the locals had one gripped in their right hand at all times. #caramelmacchiato

IMG_8962

Walking around at night is a whirlwind, people everywhere & buildings as tall as the stars.

IMG_9019

Enough said.

IMG_8982

95% of the time we walked the streets, everywhere, these boots aren’t half as comfortable as my purple New Balance kicks.

IMG_8994

Eyeing the rest of his Australian Meat Pie – what a foodie paradise at Chelsea Market.

IMG_9057

The entire underground subway system was amazing, efficient, and the only way we’d travel.

IMG_9042

SuperDry is a brand we love – smack dab in the middle of Times Square it sits. #shoppingspree

IMG_9096

Love him.

NYC was our first adventure using airbnb – which absolutely rocks my socks off.  We stayed in a Chelsea highrise apartment and shared the space with a woman from France, a couple from England and a younger gal from Vancouver.  We had our own bedroom, shared everything else – what a perfect central spot to be able to affordably stay while in and out at all hours.  The host is a middle aged man : extremely personable and ended up buying us drinks at a little place he DJ’s… The Crooked Knife.  NYC, we’ll be back, many times!

Next post – I’ve launched a creative business that makes me wish I had written down all the witty remarks I made in college.

Blessed,

xo

High five to Amacci for proving himself worthy with this song. (more about him later)

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 34 other followers