Category Archives: Travel

last day of Vancouver

legit this day happened August 16, 2015, but a TON has happened since then anddddddd here we are. I need to wrap up this last day so I can move on to everything else that I’ve been meaning to blog about. 2016, you WILL be the year I get my blogging on track. on the regular. as often as I can / want / feel the need to.

VANCOUVER, our Saturday was race day, run around, explore & finish up with a wicked float tank experience. The next morning, we slept in a little, but not too much knowing this was our last day in ‘Couve.

We woke and decided an impromptu photo shoot on the sweet roof of our airbnb was in order.  Somewhat coordinated tops and an hour later playing with the Camera Remote app on our Apple Watch’s produced these gems.

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He snagged me this simple triangle necklace at Pike’s Place back in Seattle.  Love it.

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the watch doesn’t fit well under the sleeves of this Lulu top when the thumbholes are in use… #priorities

We headed to 49th Parallel for a morning experience. I remember coming here the last few times I’ve been in town for the Lululemon Seawheeze weekend.  It’s all sorts of fantastic espresso and Lucky’s Doughnuts. On the weekends is insane. Lines out the door for this joint.  Wish there was one in Minnesota!

Any establishment with a line like that deserves to be experienced.  A garage-style door lifts up where we were sitting, fresh air when the weather wants to cooperate.

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Cool vibe and amazing peanut butter and jelly doughnuts like this one with the peanut crunchies.

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baby espresso / wild mane / wake me up

I purchase a large latte cup & saucer for a souvenir. There’s something about this blueish-teal that strikes me as necessary.

We walk around the city and explore the sights.  We have a photo shoot with the new cup and saucer. For nothing more than to kill time on a lazy Sunday afternoon in Vancouver. Reapplying more Peppermint Halo from Saje – an amazing essential oil + therapeutic shop in downtown Vancouver.

For lunch, we put our name on the list & wait another 45 minutes for a table at Medina Cafe. Now our favorite place for lunch on this side of the planet.  Gold goblets of fresh water and all.

We had the Avocado Toast (duh), Saumon Fumé and a few of their signature Liege-Style Waffles [White Chocolate Pistachio Rosewater + Salted Caramel].

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IMG_2591Everything about this spot was to die for. The bathroom had dimly lit displays nestled into the walls… their matchbox takeaways are square and the exact logo of their sign out front [obsessed, I took 3].

We slowly sauntered our way out of here and set out to explore more of the city. This was our last day, so we really wanted to take it all in!

When more directions are needed, we sit outside one of the many Starbucks available to us on every street corner (thanks!).

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We explore the art installations scattered throughout town. Old world, modern, metal & sky-high.  The sun is shining and we are traveling all over this town.  New sights, fresh air, this is the mantra of a “feeling like a million bucks” pair of Midwesterners.

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We got some Vegan Pudding & Co. from a tiny shop that took up all of 3feetwide street space between storefronts.  Be jammin’ out to your music and you might totally pass it by.  Shame. Keep your eyes open for these gems!

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I cannot remember what flavor we selected but I’ll bet all my Lululemon Vinyasa Scarves that it was the Coconut Milk & Sugar one.

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It was some sort of custardy-flany-syrupy-goodness dish and I wouldn’t hesitate to get another if given the chance. #seawheeze2016

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We get back to the airbnb to have a FaceTime chat about our upcoming wedding with The Adventures Of videography team.  A few hours of creative discussion and we are feeling very excited about our upcoming wedding video (to be delivered next week!).

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We head to Granville Island Public Market via the public bus and walk the aisles, look at art, have some snacks, talk on the river… pet the local dogs waiting for their humans.

 

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Who knows how much time passed.  We switch back to nice clothing and head to a date night.  We wanted a special spot, good food, awesome service, cool location… Yelp led us to Seasons in the Park.

The directions had us on a public transit bus for quite a while, headed somewhere into the suburban surrounding downtown Vancouver.  We got off in a large public park.  We hiked the sidewalks down, around, for what seemed like forever.  We took pictures + took our sweet time, happily enjoying a beautifully warm evening.

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We hiked a small, Mount Kilimanjaro-sized mountain to get to the restaurant.  Breaking a small sweat and feeling the burn in our quads.

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This was the first of 53 hills we climbed 🙂

Seasons on the Park has a view of all downtown Vancouver.  We were seated at a huge glass window.  As the sun set on the incredible view, you couldn’t help but feel like you were on another planet, looking at another colony, from a land far, far away. Gorgeous + galactic!

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After dinner (fantastic, not a clue what we ate… but damn was it good!)  We splurged and got espressos.  This happens rarely… who are we kidding, we’ve never gotten them before.  It seemed like a perfect idea for a day that has been one for the record books.

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Vancouver: until next time, you gorgeous city!

ejh

 

Listening to this song because I heard it on Peaky Blinders [watch it!]

 

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what a Saturday!

this ones for the books. we woke at 5:30am to hike towards Vancouver Convention Center where it’s Lululemon SeaWheeze Ground Zero.  To stretch, drop our gear bag and get ready for the run.  The weather was chilly, 60 some degrees and slightly drizzling. We were playing the game of what do we wear? What layers are needed? Knowing full well 1 mile in, we won’t want extra clothing and won’t stop sweating.
Keep in mind, neither of us trained for this one as a result of planning World’s Best Wedding.  A week ago I got turf toe in a yoga class.  Brett’s shoulders have been hurting.  His hamstring gets tight. Basically, we are a pair of hot messes and just wanted to finish the damn thing without having to drop out. Needless to say, we both finished. We both have smiles on our faces. We both are limping around the city, clearly struggling.  Don’t ask how many crosswalks we didn’t “risk it for a biscuit” because the fasterst we could go was a slow walk. 😂 (hint: more than 20)


Some key highlights from the run- on one stretch of the race, across a high bridge over the city, there were a ton of spin bikes in a row with people spinning and cheering us on as we ran past. So much energy! I half wanted to join them!  I cannot find a picture of it anywhere.  Pretend you took an entire spin class onto a high rise bridge and lined up 20-40 bikes, everyone cycling and cheering with music pumping as we ran past. You get the idea. Excellent!

The race route was great this year, the weather was perfect, the solitude on the SeaWall was glorious.  Running for miles along the SeaWall in a fog with a light drizzle, makes me feels as if I’m on the wharfs in some coastal city out east. (Never been, next trip?) 🙂

All around a great race.  We died, but it was still great!
After we met at the Digital Orca, we grabbed runner’s brunch (soy yogurt, a waffle with magical jam, cherries, grapes, and a baby quiche)

We applied a layer of Saje Peppermint Halo on every inch of the back of our legs. He gave me a stretch on the ol’ calves. We died, came back to life, and allowed a restart of about ten minutes and then laced up to head out.
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As we sloth-walked towards home. We wanted a shower and we were hungry for a real meal. Our first stop was JJ Brew, they gave free drink tickets to the SeaWheeze runners.  We both got a cup of java and split a chocolate chip cookie. It was nice to duck out of the chill for a moment, to regroup and try to find wifi.


Every little boutique is adorable, the fonts and marketing so well done.  Why don’t we have nearly the amount of awesome hidden gems in Minneapolis!?  A few blocks further we pass Nectar Juicery.  I’m a sucker for a good juice. Fruit, soy, greens, iced, I don’t care.  Me love juice. We settled, after much discussion on a bottle of their Sacred.  It was refreshing, I’m super excited to make my own juice and use the glass bottle it came it. (3 stars, they were sold out of what we wanted, and this was just so-so).

  

  
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Down the way is a little spot called, Old Faithful Shop. A cute little boutique with hand picked curiosities.  Their shop mascot is a french bulldog, named Pierre, whose outpost is a small doghouse inside one of their bookshelf tables.

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And then, B realllllllllly wanted a sandwich. Like now. Well, like yesterday. He loves a well-made sandwich. Love that about him. We had seen a few spots when exploring, and noted to visit later on. Meat & Bread was open for business and busy! A very good sign. (5 stars)

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This is his domain, so I let him order. He settled on the Porchetta and the Daily Special. The bread was sliced in front of us.  Small wood boards held the sandwiches on top of a slice of parchment paper, with little mountains of condiments. We got ours to-go.

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We walked to the grocer next door and loaded up on liquids before heading home.

We FaceTimed with our other traveler partners, my parents.  We showered and put on compression socks (glorious!). And we ate our sandwiches in the little quaint apartment we’re calling home this weekend.

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Explored their balcony in the day light.

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A slow rise to the 12th-floor gave us a chance to relax, recoup and enjoy the beautiful view.

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those white tent tops is where the Vancouver Convention Center is located!

those white tent tops is where the Vancouver Convention Center is located!

We took a nap and around evening time, headed to the Sunset Festival in Stanley Park. A chance for all the runners to get together, drink some beer, listen to awesome music, test out the trapeze, and generally have a very chill, beautiful evening.  I sported the Lululemon Vinyasa Scarf as there are clearly a million ways to get comfortable in it.  (see below) 😀

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Craving something sweet, we waited in line FOREVER, for Archimallows – artisinal, fire-torched marshmallows (3 stars), not worth the wait but we did it anyway!  Here is a pano of the view before me (the stage, the sea, the trapeze, the mallow tent, and the line (can you spot B?)

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As the sun went down, the lights came out, there is an awesome drone that shot footage during the event – the video can be seen here – a quick view of everything that went on this amazing weekend!

We beat the rush and left a bit earlier during the last set.  The shuttle took us back to Ground Zero and we walked home.  On the way, we grabbed dinner from Tacofino – probably the best place I’ve had a burrito, EVER.  B ordered the Spicy Chicken and I ordered the Vegetarian.  Mine was ON POINT!  (5 stars)

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During our trip, we tried to find something to spend our “When In Rome…” fund on, a ‘change and small bill’ jar that we save up in and then splurge on something during our adventures.  We decided to book a 1am float at Float House – the late night ones are 2.5 hours… we were excited beyond belief.

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The whole interior vibe is very calming.  Blue and purple neon lights throughout.  There are stacks of salt bags in the hallway that lines the chamber rooms.  We each had a room with a shower and our deprivation tank inside, a fluffy white towel, robe, and organic body soap and shampoo for afterwards.  They provided ear plugs (both foam and wax!).

After we were both introduced to our chambers, which each held about 850lb. of Epson salt, we said adios and rinsed before entering our tanks.  It’s a sort of indescribable experience.  I spent about 3 minutes floating on top of the water, getting calm and slowing my breathing… my head tilted back and held in place by the salt water (so dense, you float effortlessly on the surface) – it’s hard to know where the water begins and wear the surface is.

I swear, three minutes go by and the next thing I know, someone is knocking hard on my tank.  I slowly open my eyes in the pitch dark chamber and immediately think the Float House concierge is going to open my tank door while I’m on full-nudity display.  Turns out in was B.  He cracked the door open, I couldn’t hear anything as I had my wax ear plugs in and my eyes tried to adjust in the darkness with this new neon blue light shining in.  His voice reminded me of Charle Brown’s teacher, as I couldn’t understand any words with plugged ears.

Apparently I had slept through TWO 6-minute song cycles meant to wake you up.  I slept through the computer voice saying, “Your float is now completed, please exit the tank.”  The employee asked B, now 30 minutes out of the tank, to check on me and wake me up.

Three hours went by in what seemed like minutes, and yet I was so unbelievably relaxed, I felt like I was floating on earth.  Highly recommend this experience!

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Needless to say, we walked out of that Float House around 4:15am and felt like we could conquer the world.  Instead, we crashed and had the best sleep of our lives.

What an incredible Saturday,

em j

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a Lululemon adventure

Last night we pulled into the train station in Vancouver and got a taxi to take us to our AirBnB off Cordova St. It was $8 and well worth it to avoid having to walk late at night to an unknown spot that we don’t have cellular capabilities.  (Remind me to do a throw back post to the time we traveled across the Dominican Repbulic). 

We showered and slept like rocks. Then awoke at 4:45am to get to the Lululemon Seawheeze Expo.

Last year we were one of the first 100 people in line to get our hands on exclusive Lululemon Seawheeze gear.  We arrived about twenty minutes later this year, and already 1000 were in line.  Holy bananas!

Slowly the sun started to raise above the horizon.  But not after another hour of darkness, and some shut eye for Panama Jack.  

   
  The line was long, but the event was well organized this year.  A new guy-friendly corner helped appeal to the handful of boyfriend and husbands who were perhaps running in support of their ladies. A pool table and barbers giving haircuts, among other details.  Of the 10,015 runners, my guess is 75% were female.  

The inside of the expo was an insane shopping frenzy. Like wild hyenas grabbing at any and all hangers and carrying piles of exclusive Lululemon to a corner of the floor to commence the deciding between their ‘yes’ and ‘no’ piles.    

   
Ten points for this guy, digging through other peoples ‘no’ piles to find specific items. He treated it like a Supermarket Sweep game and killed it.  
  
The convention center was well decorated in typical Lulu sense. And we enjoyed all of the outdoor patio activities.  Complimentary cold brew from 49th Parallel, fresh watermelon juice, Rise Kombucha tastings, and fro-yo.  Cool art installations and the race packet pickup were also reasons to stay near the Vancouver Convention Centre and kick it for a few hours.

   
    
   
   
  We got temporary tattoos and decided to haul our Luloot back to the apartment before we searched for breakfast.  

 
Along the way, we walk past Canada Place whose hosting Anirevo : Anime Revolution 2015, an anime and Japanese convention this weekend, cosplay and anime merchandise galore. My favorite part? Seeing little nuggets like this chillin’ with their mama probably wondering WTF is going on, why people are diggin’ her weave. #precious

   
 Although, this looks like it might be a great time under different circumstances.  i.e. bottomless mimosas beforehand 😂

Arriving to our apartment is a welcome sight, as we have been pulling in less than 6 hours of sleep recently. Here is the AirBnB in nicer light.  A quaint two-bedroom apartment overlooking Gastown.

   
   
  
Perk alert : from the 12th floor of this building, we can see the tops of others. All sorts of beautiful patios to share a bottle of wine on. I counted at least three, each can take advantage of a beautiful Vancouver sunset. 

   

   
We had the patio to ourselves and quickly had a selfie shoot. Using our Apple Watch as a viewfinder for our iPhone, it was easy as can be. 

   
    
   
Sometimes it took a second to perfect, but we got the hang of it!

   
 
We did a few p extra online things and changed clothes.  The natural light of the big bedroom window was perfect, almost like my own little studio.  The outfit I chose for the evening has no less than three black and white combos, I refer to it as ‘Couver Lululemon Derelict

   
 
Late brunch was around the corner at Catch122. They serve brunch until 4pm, which I think should be a world law.  He got the Dirty Breakfast and I got the Eggs Benedict. (3.5 stars)

   
   
 

world’s best eater! he tries anything!

 
We then wandered down by the convention center. 7:30 was Sunset Yoga, and we really wanted to loosen up before tomorrow. 

   
   
At the morning expo, we found the Saje Natural Wellness booth and they gave us a 20% off coupon.  They have the best roll on greatness for headaches and tension. Last year, we learned about Peppermint Halo and now it’s our favorite: as we sipped chamomile tea, we loaded up at their store down the street.  (5 stars)

   

We stopped at Bella Gelateria, because duh. It’s one of our favorite spots to visit in all of Vancouver.  He got Whiskey Fudge + Essex Sea Salt, I got Stracciatella + Akbar Mashti (rosewater, saffron, pistachio).  (5 stars)

   
   
They won first place in the 2014 Gelato World Tour, I’d be lying if I said I regretted spending my monies here. 😏

Sunset Yoga was held inside the convention center.  We borrowed Lulu mats and calmly waited for the start of the practice. It was led by instructor Reno Munez, the guy who started the first Dharma Yoga studio in Canada. 

   

Apple Watch, Seawheeze band, one love

    

Reno stood on a table in the middle of about 500 yogis


His voice is my new inner conscious voice.  Listening to him is like watching warm honey drip slow-motion into the ocean on a cool sunny day. He has the calmest demeanor and changes the energy of the room when he speaks. #namaste

We were centered,  we were zen-like.  All is right with the world. Shout out to this guy for wanting to start practicing yoga to improve the quality of his life.

 

we may have fallen asleep, don’t tell

 
A huge ‘thank you‘ to the Saje team for gifting these You’re Awesome Yoga Kits to the yogis in attendance, attempting to achieve equilibrium. 

 

the satchel is made of yoga mat material!

 
As we returned the mats afterwards, we were handed bottles of Rise Kombucha in Lemongrass.

  
We wandered down by the Seawall and decided on a rendezvous point after the race tomorrow morning. We settled on the iconic, 25′ tall Digital Orca on the patio near the sea.

exhausted, at peace, comtemplative

  

Our AirBnB host, J, recommended Peckinpah barbecue in Gastown. We ordered takeout and people watched while we waited for a pulled pork sandwich and collard greens. (3 stars)

   

  

  

  

top knot in Gastown

  

i could not agree more

We ate on the balcony in the dark after we rode the elevator up to the apartment building. 

   
   
We finally got to sleep at midnight and will promptly regret getting to bed so late, achieving less than five hours of sleep the night before a half marathon. 

Here goes nothing,

em

Listening to 

Sipping on

Thinking about 

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hello again, Seattle

last year was such a blast at the Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon, we decided to do it again.  This morning we got on a Southwest flight to first Denver and then Seattle.  Southwest lets you stream Apple Music over wifi, for free.  Flying In the clouds with access to every song out there, what’s not to love? 

  
We watched Interstellar and munched on Barbara Peanut Butter Puffins cereal.  #happybaby

Always traveling with a Lululemon Infinity Scarf, and our Bose noise-canceling. Best headphones I’ve ever bought.

  
Arrive in Seattle, get to the Link Rail and take it down to the International Station to check our bags so we can explore.

  
We head to Pike’s Place Market. Pick up some pluots and admire the beautiful, super cheap bouquets of flowers. Mama, I wish I could send them all back to you! The photo will have to suffice. 

   
 
Panama Jack was craving roasted corn as we passed their stand. Of course we had to get an ear.  Corn is the new black, such a delicious summer treat!

  
We stopped at a cute, new spot on Jackson Street, called Intrigue Chocolate Co.

  
A dapper, bearded young fellow was behind the counter.  He asked if we had time for a tasting (they do those at chocolate shops?!), to which we happily obliged. The dark chocolate truffles were infused with Basil and Peppercorn, among other things, he poured us each a glass of chamomile tea to cleanse our palate.  All were delicious, and we grabbed a few for the road. 

  
   
 
We went to michou for a late lunch, incredible sandwiches and salads.  We settled on the Sierra turkey and a handful of dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice).  Excellent, so fabulous, we wanted a bite of everything!

   
   
Downtown Seattle has some great people watching, so we spent some time meandering and enjoying the beautiful sunny afternoon.

   
 
On our way back to the train station, we stopped at Storyville Coffee for an iced brew latte. That 4:45am rise-time is catching up to us.

   
    
 
An hour and some change later, we are back at the train station and ready to roll.  

I love, love, LOVE adventures with this man.  He makes my heart smile.  We are just getting started, and I cannot wait to leave a billion footprints all over this earth. 

  
Currently riding the Amtrak train, a la Harry Potter, along the coastline up to Vancouver. 

I’m enjoying a watermelon honey stick from Pike’s Place Market while Brett plays DJ as the sun is setting out the train window. 

   
   
See you in a few hours Vancouver!

Feeling incredibly blessed,

em j

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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Good Morning Sonoma!

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

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?)
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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.
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I cannot remember what was so funny, but Carley almost giggle / choked to death.  Luckily, nurse AJ was seated next to her.
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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
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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!

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En route to the home, we pass rows upon rows of the most beautiful landscape – Sonoma views at their finest.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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 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.
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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
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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!

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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.

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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?
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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
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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

 

 

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