WWGW: Day 4 – Recipe for Recovery

Today’s ingredients include:

Walk: another stop at Colville Street Patisserie, then Starbucks, then Farmer’s Market (take home fresh onions and asparagus)

Pack up and say goodbye to Budda and Erin, Jen, Jen and Pam

Adding a last stop for shopping, complete with an attempt to finish the pint of salted caramel ice cream before it melts.

Mix in another winery tour:

  • A return to Va Piano to exchange the Merlot we walked out with instead of the Cab.
  • A stop at Saviah
  • Lunch @ Andrea’s Kitchen  while tasting at Dusted Valley. A great flight of red wines, taking home a bottle of Squirrel Tooth Alice. Had to buy that one on the name alone – although there were many, many great tastes here.

Finish the recipe with a road trip home (including an airport stop to get Tonia to her flight).

WWGW: Day 3 – Recipe for Taste Bud (Overload)


Take seven women and add…

Farmer’s Market – start the morning with freshly made breakfast tacos and a tall glass of vegetable juice (the carrots were awesome with kale, ginger, apples and more)

Jump in the tour van to be escorted to:

  • Seven Hills Winery – complete with a vertical tasting in the barrel room. Purchased a magnum of the 2009 Ciel du Cheval, Vintage Red Wine, Red Mountain for dinner tonight.
  • Long Shadows – a beautiful location with lots of wine choices. Walked away with a bottle of Poet’s Leap.
  • Waterbrook – enjoyed lunch in their private room.
  • Sleight of Hand – packed to the gills, it was a fight to the counter for the next sip.
  • Va Piano – Relaxing stop, enjoyed the wine club track (Jamey signed up right away). Took home their Sav Blanc release.
  • Tertulia – This unknown winery (to me) was a great way to finish the day. Walked out with the Malbac.

Next step: Rest. Similar to marinating the meat pre-grilling.

Refuel: Dinner at Whitehouse Crawford.

Finish the night with a layer of celebration lead by Erin. Powerful reminiscing and sharing. So glad all seven of us where able to spend the day together!


WWGW: Day 2 – Recipe for Relaxation


Start with:

  • A walk
  • Breakfast at Bacon & Eggs
  • Colville Street Patisserie – not that we were hungry; the pre-visit research said don’t miss this place. So we listened.
  • Goodwill – always an adventure – great way to find the missing elements: house needs more wine glasses, Jen needs swim suit
  • Soak up the sun – Lazy rest of the morning, early afternoon reading, sunning and soaking in the hot tub
  • Lunch – Tracked down Andrea’s Kitchen@ the Co-op, needed to try their fish tacos

Now mix in a bit of downtown

Shopping – Vintage shop(s)  – yes, more than one. Found great necklace that finished a summer dress (already in my closet).

Wine tasting @

  • Da Ma – vinters of the Cowgirl Cab we enjoyed the previous eve
  • Rotie – the winemaker loves his blends – and so did we. Decided on another bottle, Northern Blend. And enjoyed the stop as we felt like we were invading the boys club. Over 15 men to us three women.
  • Kerloo Cellars – Fun stop, we tasted their spring release reds while a group celebrated with champagne. My fav was down to 11 bottles left. And I made it 10.
  • Walla Walla Wild Woman Wine Shop – with that name we had to go in! Tasting: Garofalo Cellars.

More shopping – this time clothing. And in the second shop, they poured wine. Yes, we bought more there. I even found another strapless dress that will help me minimize odd tan lines in the wedding dress

Dinner at T. Macarones – The rest of the team arrives in time for a feast! Pam, Jen, Tonia and Jamey are added to the recipe, making us a double-batch plus

And we finished the night with a “quiet” evening at home. A little wine, a little laughter, and (for some) a little hot tub time.

Walla Walla Girl’s Weekend (WWGW): Day 1

Day 1  – Recipe for Road Trip

Oh, let the fabulous weekend fun begin.


Amtrak Train – relaxing rhythm of the tracks along the Puget Sound as rays of sun bounce off the water

Train Station – welcome included a video camera and a bouncing, smilaffronaing Erin

McMenamim’s on the Columbia – watching the river life, enjoying a Ruby as Jen joins the party

Road Trip – almost four hour of catching up as we cover the pavement from along I-84 to Walla Walla

Woodward Canyon – roll into town just early enough to catch the last pour at this cab lover’s winery. Bought first bottle: “Artist Series” Cabernet Sauvignon

The Budda House – And we arrive at our little paradise, and enjoy the first bottle of wine: 2009 Cowgirl Cab. So appropriate for the three of us dairy-farm raised girls.

Dinner @ Saffron – Perfect place to start the Walla Walla dining adventure portion of the weekend

Spring Break: Six Miles Hike

Our goal for the day: Hike Bright Angel trail

Last night, we made our plan: either hike 3 miles in or go the 4.5 miles to Indian Gardens. Leave about 8am so the hot sun would not affect us immediately. We easily had water for six miles; hoped maybe we could push it to nine miles and get to the Indian Gardens. But there was not likely a spot to refill our bottles (and they don’t sell bottled water at the Grand Canyon, it is refill only). The guide suggested it was 4-6 hours to hike 3 miles down. And plan 6-9 hours for Indian Gardens. So we’d play it by ear.

With the temperature at a cool 17 when I woke at 6:30am, I immediately decided we would not leave until it had warmed up to 38. Good thing, Bailie was very, very sleepy even at 8 am. We finally made it to the trailhead (just steps from our cabin) a few minutes after 9am. The air had warmed up to 39!

We started our descent. It was fast. And dusty. And the edge was often close. And the view was always amazing. I fell behind many, many times stopping to capture the moment in pixels. We stopped for a rest around the first hour down for a snack as we were good at sipping water along the way. The downward pace was already felt in some muscle groups for both of us. We continued down to the next rest point where we met the pack mules coming up. As we rested and refueled;

  • We admired the dirty red film on our shoes and legs.
  • Bailie teased a squirrel with her cough drop – accidentally
  • The squirrel got Bailie back as he stared her down from the top of the view-point she reluctantly climbed (I forced a photo shoot)
  • And we decided since there was not option to refill our water bottles, and our knees and ankles were feeling the toll of the descendent, it was smart to read the postings “you can choose to go down further, but remember you must go back up”.

So we headed back towards the rim – a ,2120 feet incline. And Bailie took it in stride. I put the camera away to focus on keeping up. But that didn’t make a difference. That swimmer stamina made me look 100% out of shape. Luckily, there was another family on the same ascend schedule and their youngest was also moving at a fast pace. So they stuck together, waiting for the two of us Mom’s every few switchbacks. The other brother and Dad took their own pace behind us. Although most of the trail out, I dropped into the fourth spot, the last few switchbacks the four of us hung together making it back to the rim right at 1pm. Bailie showed up the guide by beating the four hours for the six miles! This meant it was time to celebrate with ice cream (for lunch)!

We finished up the afternoon people watching at the rim and splurging at the Tovar for dinner. Thankfully, dinner was an improvement over the previous night. Other than the French onion soup, I admit we won’t rush to dine there again. The view was amazing – as we sat right at the windows. The night finished with more people watching, of course!

Five Day Weekends

After a five day weekend in Sonoma, it was a real treat to get an unexpected five day Thanksgiving weekend holiday. ((Love my team’s “offsite” the day before T-day – where the invite was for an offsite that was to be spent at home iwth our family.))

Day 1 – Wednesday lazy (and cleaning)

I addition to be lazy and tackling  little cleaning, I was to plan and prepare a simple dinner combining:

  • Butternut Squash Soup
  • Salmon
  • Roasted Califlower

Day 2 – Turkey Day

A day with family, of course. The girl was anxious to get there and hang with the cousins. Luckily, we contributed wine, champagne and a ham. Speaking of wine, we opened the jug of Portalupi. A red table wine from the Sonoma Valley that may need to be replenished soon. and may be served the big day.

Day 3 – More cleaning

(Deep, deep cleaning & unruly Goodwill pile gone).  Time to pull out the “recipes to try” pile and tickle the pallet with new flavors (enough cleaning, enough). Found options that made my mouth water.  Drew Tiana’s Spaghetti Gravy from the pile and focused on the shopping list. Luckily we didn’t need much – and we had the perfect bottles of wine to pair with it.

Day 4 – Dinner with J&T

To complete the holiday weekend, today included dinner with friends. And showcase more recent purchases. The menu included:

  • First: Potato Soup paired with Zina Hyde Cunningham 2011 Chardonnay (Anderson Valley)
  • Next: Pork Chops (another serving of our piggy) with Hazelnut Sherry Sauce from Portworks
  • Served with Beet and Satsuma salad and J. Lohr Gesture 2009 Zinfandel.
  • Dessert: Pear tart with late harvest gewürztraminer – the tart and the glass.

Day 5 – Rest

Because we deserved it.

A Little Sonoma R&R

After a great start to our time away with dinner at Zazu, our days were spend filled with lots of rest and relaxation.


Sunday started at the Mission Inn Spa. We got there early to enjoy the mineral hot springs prior to our spa treatments. He chose a simple massage, where I went all out with the Sonoma Organic Lavender Kur, a treatment that focused on total stress relief. I started with a lavender bubble bath that works to softens the skin, relieves muscle aches and delights the senses. Then I got all wrapped up in a botanical body wrap and finished with wonderful massage.

After all that relaxing and soaking and massaging, it was time to eat. We had brunch reservations at the Girl and the Fig on the Sonoma Square.

With full bellies, we headed north to the Healdsburg Square. We had no real plan so we parked and walked into the closest winery, Thumbprint. It wasn’t the best wine of the day, but she did provide us a few recommendations. We headed around the corner to Stephens & Walker. And Bill fell in love. A wine club membership and a few new bottles later, we headed to Portalupi. Another joyful stop with wonderful bold reds, including a very nice Barbera. In fact, we learned that they have produced some of the top ranking Barbera’s in the world many years. Our final stop of the night was at JCB, a bubbly shop on the square. Bill was happy to find a new domestic bubbly that he enjoyed. To finish the day, we stopped at the market and picked up dinner and picnic fixings for the next day.


As the sun came up, so did we. We wanted to head out to Point Reyes and see the earliest light possible (I am selfish, I want amazing photographs). As we headed west, the sky lit up with amazing colors. We got to Point Reyes in time to explore a quiet beach. Quiet because no one else had made it there yet. But not quiet in that the sound of the waves crashing on the surf filled the air. The tides and surf are so strong here that there are many signs warning of swimming and the swirls in the sand show the crazy undertow. The beach life was rather quiet, but we did pick up a few sand dollar skeletons before heading down the road to the lighthouse. And got side-tracked along the way by the dairy farms and curious heifers. And curious Bill asking many questions about the life cycle of cows and dairy farm life. We did make it to the lighthouse, where we hiked down (and up) the 30 flight of stairs. The lighthouse has kept up with current technology, while leaving the old technology in place makng it a museum of changes from the past 100 years. Maybe the most fun was peering over the edge, we could see seals bobbing in the water.

As we headed back, we stopped at Cowgirl Creamery where we were disappointed to find them closed for the day. We had devoured the wheel of cheese we found already and needed more! Next stop: wine. (Bill was focused on tasting wine today before 1pm as yesterday it was close to 3 when we started). And we made it to Sonoma Port Works in Petaluma (and hit the goal of tasting before 1). Six ports and two sherry’s later, we headed out the door with some ideas of holiday dinners (and a hazelnut sherry and balsamic vinegar in tow).

Intregued yesterday while at the Girl and Fig by the Sonoma Square, we headed back there (and I did research prior while Bill cooked dinner). Before tasting, we found a sunny spot on the square to finish our picnic lunch (some was eaten on the drive). With the food intake complete, it was time to taste:

  • Highway 12
  • Spann
  • Sigh
  • Bryter
  • Kamen
  • Ledson

Dinner tonight was at the home of Dennis and Vicky, champagne importers that Bill has befriended in the last few years. And after Dennis opened a few bottles, I am beginning to understand Bill’s fascination with champagne. The less (or smaller) bubbles don’t tickle my nose and get as in the way of me actually smelling the wine.


Being his birthday day, Tuesday was worthy of its own post. As was birthday dinner.


Travel day, already? We woke up to enjoy the sun. And a cup of tea. And one last soak in the hot tub. With lots of laughter and conversation. Some about the wedding planning. Really, it was more about the honeymoon. And no cake at the wedding. And we are not working in the kitchen (which is easier for me to say than him). Before we knew it, the car was packed and our journey back to our lives started.