Family Fun at DisneyWorld

You guys. I just found this post I had drafted from 2015. I can’t believe this post has been hiding out and never got published. It put such a smile on my face to go through the stories I wrote and the photos I captured during the holidays at Disneyworld. This was before Nolan was born, Colton had just turned two (while we were there) and Kelsey was only four.

If you don’t mind … let’s take a trip down memory lane and go through some of my favorite family photos from our trip. However, a warning is in order: I really didn’t condense down the number of photos I wanted to post. Photo overload! Sorry in advance.

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disneyworld holidays

disneyworld holidays

disneyworld holidays

disneyworld holidays

disneyworld holidays

disneyworld holidays

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In December, along with my family, we spent one week at the Disneyworld Parks. We went to Epcot, Disneyworld, MGM Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We experienced the character breakfast the first morning at the Disneyworld Grand Floridian Hotel (totally reminded me of the Hotel Del). And the best part? The parks were decorated for the holidays! My faaaaaaaaaaaavorite time of year.

There was Starbucks in the park. Autographs by the characters. Larger than life Christmas trees. Nighttime parades. Fireworks. A few tantrums (from the kids and from me). Great Disney desserts. A few lost park passes (mom!) and so many smiles from ear to ear from our two little kids. Colton turned 2 during our trip, so it’s a bit of a blast from the past to see him looking so little in these pictures.

epcot family vacation

epcot family vacation

epcot family vacation

epcot family vacation

We went to Epcot for dinner on the first night. No one told me that you had to get reservations 6 months in advance. I booked our reservations 3 months out and thought I was getting a head start. Luckily, we got great reservations at the San Angel Inn Restaurante and it was a great first night out.

It reminded me a lot of the Blue Bayuo restaurant in Disneyland. It was a themed Mexican restaurant with a huge Mayan temple inside. It was just loud enough to where the kids were able to enjoy themselves (and me!) and the drinks and food were great. There is a ride inside and a gift shop (good luck getting past that without buying something) and it truly felt like an authentic Mexican experience.

Epcot family vacation
Epcot family vacation
epcot family vacation
Epcot family vacation
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We were back at Epcot the next morning. We had just gotten Starbucks when Colton saw this huge fountain. He immediately ran to it and watched the water “jump around.” Then, he decided to squat down and refused to move. Literally. He wouldn’t budge. I think he was like this for a good 5 minutes before we bribed him with, “Nanni’s over there! Let’s go find her!”

Nanni was quickly replaced though when we spotted our first characters at Epcot: Chip & Dale. Get your autograph books out! This was a real treat and one of Kelsey’s first times really getting the concept of getting their autograph. It was so precious to watch them anxiously wait in line for this moment.

Epcot Family Vacation
Epcot Family Vacation
Epcot family vacation

He actually did good in the long lines. Some moments were better than others, but what can you expect from an almost-two-year-old. He was a perfect gentleman, most of the time. Kelsey was on point, as always. I was just happy I wore my running shoes. Do you know how much walking you do at Disneyworld? We must have taken a gazillion steps each day.

finding nemo coral reef restaurant disneyworld

epcot family vacation
epcot family vacation
Those curls! And that smile. I remember his face looking like this like it was yesterday. The humidity only made those curls more magical.
epcot family vacation

epcot family vacation

We met up with Nanni and the crew for lunch at the Coral Reef Restaurant. I highly recommend reservations there if you have kids. It’s inside this huge aquarium and every seat as a great view of the sharks and fish swimming by. Colton loved it! After you exit, you can go on the Finding Nemo ride and see all the fish once more. Cute little place.

disneyworld first visit pin

Disneyworld Holidays
We went back to the main Disneyworld park that evening. It was like planes, trains and automobiles to get to into the park. You drive from your hotel to the park. Park your car. Grab the strollers. Stroll to the shuttle. Take the shuttle to your choice of the ferry or the monorail. Then stand in line to get into the gates.

Looking back though, I think getting to the park was one of the best parts for the kids. The ferry was so relaxing and cool to cruise over water as the park gets closer and closer. And the monorail was “so fast!” that Kelsey kept staring out the window in awe. Disney does that too you, doesn’t it? As parents you spend more time looking into your child’s eyes than you do experiencing the park yourself.

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Disneyworld Holidays with Kids

disneyworld during the holidays

Once you enter the Magic Kingdom and see all of the Christmas lights take over, it’s pretty remarkable. You smell the sweet scent of popcorn and hot chocolate, along with hearing Christmas carols and kids laughing for miles.

We window shopped as we walked down Maine Street, peeking inside and seeing little Disney music boxes sing and ornaments glow on little Christmas trees. Then, we made our way to the castle – the most magical thing in the place.

disneyworld during the holidays
disneyworld during the holidays

disneyworld holidays with kids
disneyworld holidays kids

disneyworld holidays kids

Disneyworld with Kids

disneyworld with kids during the holidays

We were back at it again the next morning! At this point, I thought for sure I would have lost 10lbs with all of the walking that we did, but then I remembered … the Mickey Mouse popsicles, chocolate covered bananas, churros and all of that other amazingly horrible food for you that you just have to indulge in while at Disneyworld. It’s like a right of passage.

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disneyworld
disneyworld | many hats of a mom blog
disneyworld | many hats of a mom blog

disneyworld | many hats of a mom blog

Before a storm rolled in that left us SOAKED she was able to convince Grandpa to ride the merry-go-round with her. Carousels, tea cups, and this mom do not mix. So, I was happy to sit this one out. Thanks, Grandpa.

disneyworld | many hats of a mom blog

disneyworld | many hats of a mom blog
disneyworld mom blogger
disneyworld | many hats of a mom blog
Disneyworld has some of the best people watching. Am I right? Like this guy with the selfie stick. I can’t tell you how many selfie sticks we saw at the park. A sign of the times, don’t you think?

disney family vacation mom blogger

By the time we got to MGM Studios for their nighttime holiday shows, I was so incredibly tired. Tired of walking. Strolling. Bribing the kids to behave. All of it. I may have thrown a little adult tantrum right when we walked in. After a few minutes, my husband was able to snap me out of my terrible mood so we could enjoy the night. He’s kind of perfect like that. We saw some remarkable Christmas light displays and then wandered into a Fantasmic! Firework show.

mgm disney vacation mom blogger

disney holidays

mgm disney holidays

Then it was off to Disney’s Animal Kindgom to celebrate Colton’s second birthday! It did not feel like December, it felt like summer, and the crowds were a bit out of control, but when you look back – you never really remember all of that. You just remember these moments that make you smile from ear to ear.

disney animal kingdom mom bloggers
disney animal kingdom mom bloggers
Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom 2
disney animal kingdom mom bloggers
Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom
animal kingdom
Animal Kingdom 3
Animal Kingdom
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The next night, Ryan and I snuck off for an aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamazing dinner at Victoria & Albert’s. It’s this fancy pants restaurant located at one of the Disneyworld resorts. My brother and his wife gave us a $400 gift card to dine here + they babysit the kids for us. I mean, how could we not be smiling from ear to ear after this evening?

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victoria and alberts orlando restaurant

Then it was back to parenthood and another few days in Orlando. What an amazing vacation this was! Memories to last a lifetime, that is for sure. Tantrums and all.

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Update: We are looking to take a Disneyland trip in the Fall with all three kids (are we crazy?) and I look forward to any and all of your recommendations.

See more of my posts from past Disney family trips here, here and here,

Summer in Sedona with our Kids

Sedona with kids - phoenix mom bloggers

What a great weekend! We visited Sedona for the very first time and had such a great experience. Ryan and I took our oldest kids (baby Nolan stayed home with the grandparents) to see this scenic place. It was my first time visiting Sedona (I know. I know!) and Ryan went when he was little, so we’ll call this his first time too.

As we approached the city, we started to see some of the most gorgeous red rocks. They were all around! The kids thought Sedona looked like Disney’s Cars Land and we were blown away by the beauty of it all. For some reason we had envisioned a few rocks here and there, but nothing like what we saw. We felt like we were living inside of a postcard.

orchards inn sedona hotels

We were fortunate enough to be invited up by Orchards Inn, a super quaint 70-room Inn located in the middle of Uptown Sedona. Right when Colton walked into the lobby he immediately ran to the patio and said, “Whoa! Mom, come look at this!” He was staring at “Snoopy Rock” and it was truly a sight to be seen.

orchards inn family friendly sedona hotels

The view from Orchards Inn had to be one of the best views from any Sedona hotel. I can’t imagine a better one.

sedona many hats of a mom blog

Just look at the Red Rocks reflecting off of our patio window! I think Ryan could have sat in those chairs every morning and evening just taking it all in. These huge patios made our room feel so spacious.

orchards inn family friendly sedona hotels

orhcards inn family friendly sedona hotel

many hats of a mom blog | sedona with kids

Every morning these two would overlook the pool and people watch. At night, we took blankets over to the hotel’s wedding lawn and watched the stars in the sky. The kids played with this constellation app on our iPhones and had so much fun pointing out Scorpio, Leo, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Ryan loved explaining what everything was. He’s such a science junkie. Mom on the other hand knew where the moon was and that’s about it.

orchards inn sedona hotels

I don’t know how she does it, but she manages to pose on the fly. “Kelsey, smile” somehow turns into a pointed toe, arms up in the air and a throw back of her head. I love her so much.

This picture was snapped on our way to dinner on Friday night. Directly across the street from our hotel is 89Agave – a super cute Mexican restaurant with – you guessed it – amazing views of the red rocks.

Agave89 Sedona Restaurants

I’m on the Whole 30 diet for the next 14 days so I got to watch as the kids devoured amazing cheesy dishes at this great Sedona restaurant and envied Ryan’s orange cinnamon margarita. The best part about the restaurant, for the kids, was this oversized chalkboard wall where Kelsey wrote her name and Colton drew a circle. Ha!

89agave sedona dining

89agave sedona restaurants for kids
89agave sedona restaurants for kids

89agave sedona restaurants for kids

89agave sedona restaurants for kids

89agave sedona restaurants for kids

89agave sedona restaurants for kids

89agave sedona restaurants for kids
After dinner we walked up and down the main street looking at all of the shops and touristy things. We listened to street music, grabbed ice cream at Black Cow Cafe and counted how many Pink Jeeps we could find.

phoenix mom blog sedona with kids

uptown sedona mom blog

sedona with kids mom blogger

sedona with kids - many hats of a mom blog

 

 

Sedona Many Hats of a Mom Blog

Day 2 we woke up and went to West Fork Hiking Trail. It’s $10 to park (cash only!) and we recommend arriving early – as the parking lot was full when we left. West Fork hiking trail is 3.3 miles (one way) and if you hike the entire trail, you’ll cross the river 13 times. We made it across 5 times before the kids wanted to head back. Mostly because mom left the snacks sitting on our hotel room bed. Mom fail!

About three steps into our hike back to the car, the kids requested piggy back rides. We really didn’t mind because this trail was shaded, pretty tame and super scenic. If you’re in Sedona with kids, I would recommend this hike. Maybe not with a toddler on your back, but nonetheless, it was a fantastic hike for our little ones.

west fork sedona hike with kids

west fork sedona hike with kids

west fork sedona hike with kids

Do you see Colton down there? He was yelling, “Echo! Echo!” at this little sparrow that was sitting on a rock. I told him he could hear is echo so apparently he kept saying “Echo” so he could hear it. Makes sense.

west fork sedona hiking trail with kids

west fork sedona hike with kids

west fork sedona hiking trail with kids

west fork sedona hike with kids

After the hike, we were starving! We randomly stopped at Indian Gardens because there was a sign on the front that said, “Deli”. To our surprise, this place was super charming and filled with healthy breakfast and lunch items. It reminds me of a restaurant back in Phoenix. There is indoor and outdoor seating and these amazing cupcakes that I just stared out while ordering my boring black coffee and egg whites.

many hats of a mom blog | sedona with kids

many hats of a mom blog | sedona with kids

sedona restaurants mom blogger

many hats of a mom blog | sedona with kids

many hats of a mom blog | sedona with kids

sedona restaurants mom blogger

After our hike, we took the kids swimming back at Orchards Inn and then Ryan, Kelsey and Colton took … ready for this … a three-hour nap! I couldn’t believe it. Apparently hiking + sun + chlorine is a recipe for a very peaceful afternoon for mom.

On Saturday night, we decided to celebrate Father’s Day a day early at the Orchard Inn’s sister hotel, L’Auberge de Sedona. We ate at Etch Kitchen & Wine Bar which was located along the creek. Besides the ‘tude I got from Kelsey on the walk down to the hotel (see below), it was a great way to cap off an already amazing weekend. I know I’m saying a lot of adjectives that sound the same in this blog post but I can’t stress enough how great this weekend was.

sedona with kids - many hats of a mom blog

sedona with kids mom blogger

Thanks Kelsey for snapping this picture of us. She even said, “Wait” and climbed up a few stairs so she would be tall enough to shoot the camera directly at us. Well done, sister.sedona with kids - many hats of a mom blog

sedona with kids - many hats of a mom blog

sedona with kids - many hats of a mom blog

sedona with kids - many hats of a mom blog

Celebrating one of the best dad’s there is!

sedona family vacation mom blogger

sedona family vacation mom blogger

After dinner, our GPS took us to “Chapel Cross Trail” which we thought would make for a great evening hike. Turns out, it’s actually a chapel and dead ends you into a residential neighborhood. As we were getting out of the car to watch the sunset, Colton stepped on a cactus. In true Stephanie fashion, I left the first-aid kit (which I literally packed for every type of situation) in the hotel room. This was starting to be a theme on this trip.

Ryan quickly pulled out the cactus and wrapped my jacket around his leg to stop the bleeding. He was so brave and said, “It’s okay mom. I feel so much better now.” We promised him any kind of ice cream he wanted for being so brave – to which he picked mint chocolate chip. We ended the night at Baskin Robins with a bloody jacket and super happy kids. Truly a Father’s Day for the books!

 

sedona red rocks - phoenix mom blogger

sedona red rocks - phoenix mom blogger

sedona red rocks - phoenix mom blogger

Ryan shot this photo from our car window! I love it because it really sums up the weekend. On the car ride back, we stopped by the famous Rock Springs Cafe and picked up a few slices of pie (courtesy of our hotel) and two pies for Father’s day. If you’re making the drive to Sedona, this is a great pit stop along the way.

sedona with kids - many hats of a mom blog

Thank you to Orchads Inn and 89Agave for hosting us for two nights and one lovely dinner! It’s a summer family vacation we’ll treasure forever.

48 hours in New York

I tend to go to New York for small bits of time (seen here), one day I’ll make it for at least three-days because it would be nice to explore more areas of Manhattan and the other neighborhoods and landmarks that make this city so famous. That said, I was just in New York for the NewsCred Think Content marketing conference. It was a one day conference, so time was limited. In true Stephanie-needs-to-jam-pack-all-she-can-into-a-trip fashion, I was actually able to see and do a lot. My first Broadway play, for instance! What is it about this city that makes you light up inside? Not sure, but I’m so grateful to my job for allowing me to travel to great places.

w new york time square - mom blog

We stayed at the W New York – Times Square and I actually loved it. It was a great respite from the hustle and bustle of Times Square and located right in the center of it all. The rooms were spacious (that surprised me) and the staff were great! I would recommend this hotel if you like staying close to all of the action.

beauty and essex new york restaurant

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Following a friend’s recommendation, we made reservations at Beauty & Essex (amazing food + you enter through a Pawn Shop, which was pretty cool) followed by cocktails back at W Hotel and a great cheese dish downstairs at their Mexican restaurant. You only get a free pass to eat an entire plate of melted cheese when you are at least 50 miles from your home. It’s a known rule.

newscred new york 2

many hats of a working mom blog

many hats of a working mom blog

The content marketing conference was great. Marketers from Airbnb, Google, New York Times, Instagram, Uber, SweetGreen and more graced the stage to share some of their content marketing tips and insights. After the conference, we had to hurry and catch a cab because we were going to see a Broadway play. I quickly realized that my hailing cab skills are horrible. One of my past New York friends told me to “only hail a cab when their light is on” – and then another told me (after the fact) that I need to take off my sunglasses and stare at them. Sheesh. So many rules. We tried Uber but it’s hard to catch one in the city (the rates get really high and then take forever to find your location). We finally got a cab, 10 minutes later, if you’re wondering.

she loves me musical new york

We saw our first Broadway play, “She Loves Me” at the historic Studio 54. Our seats were so close (row K) so we could literally see everything so clearly. During the first two minutes of the musical, this rude, rude, rude, rude, rude man yelled at the couple sitting behind us. “Are you going to talk the ENTIRE time!” he yelled. It was so loud, my boss, Melissa jumped in her seat. I gave him a really nasty look at intermission to which he just smirked. His nasty behavior aside, this musical was phenomenal. Truly remarkable and one that I would see again. I snapped a photo of Melissa before the play because she matched the sign. That calls for a photo opt, don’t you think?

The next morning, our flight didn’t leave until noon so we woke up and hurried our way over to The St. Regis New York for breakfast. It’s one of our most legendary hotels (built in 1904 and the first St. Regis hotel) and Melissa had never been inside so we’ll call this “work related research”. On our way over, it was raining so we had these massive W hotel umbrellas. We wanted coffee so we started walking towards one of my favorite bakeries. As we approached Bouchon Bakery we caught a glimpse of Luke Bryan playing a Today Show Summer Concert. Melissa swore it was Coldplay (hello? totally different sound) but then she saw this cute country boy and was assured Chris Martin was not in the building.

luke bryan today show concert

Here are a few more photos from the morning.

st regis new york hotels - travel mom blog

st regis new york hotels - travel mom blog

st regis new york hotels - travel mom blog

Still a little wet from the rain, we found ourselves eating breakfast outside of the notorious King Cole Bar at the St. Regis New York hotel. The food was amazing and I couldn’t stop staring at the gorgeous architecture and subtle details throughout the restaurant. Fun fact: There was a $100 omelette on the menu, if you can believe that. Clearly, I opted for something a little less extravagant, but equally pleasing to the palate, I’m sure. Next up, we strolled through Central Park, did some window shopping at Tiffany’s, bought some cute gifts for the kids at The Plaza Shops and then started the walk back to the hotel.

new york - many hats of a mom blog

new york - many hats of a mom blog

central park mom blog

new york - many hats of a mom blog

new york - many hats of a mom blog

new york - many hats of a mom blog

new york - many hats of a mom blog

new york - many hats of a mom blog

This was another great work trip for the books. I was really happy to be home and, surprisingly, back in the chaos of every day life as a mother of three. Don’t feel too sorry for my husband, he spent the next four days in Orlando on a work trip so he got his payback on me for skipping town for a few days.

As always, thank you for following my blog and allowing me to relive some of my favorite memories through photographs. And a special thank you to anyone and everyone that finds themselves on a work trip, or just next to me when I’m in camera snapping mode. My work friends call this “photo shoot time” when they are around me. Thanks to them for humoring me every time we hit the road. xo

A Weekend in the Woods with Nolan Ryan

A weekend in the mountains was just what I needed. While my husband took the older kids camping (photos to come), Nolan and I went to Pinetop, Arizona with my mother-in-law and Ryan’s aunt. It was the perfect retreat from the Phoenix heat and a great way to enjoy Nolan without any interruptions. I was also able to start and finish a book! Imagine that.

Here are a just a few photos from our quiet Memorial Day weekend in the woods.

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many hats of a mom blog

many hats of a mom blog

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phoenix mommy blogger

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many hats of a mom blog

many hats of a mom blog

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many hats of a mom blog

The Palace Hotel and Some Sights in San Francisco

travel blogger - many hats of a mom blog
After three-nights in Napa Valley, Ryan had to attend some business meetings in the city so we stayed one night in San Francisco before heading back home. The sights, sounds and buzz of the city wasn’t exactly what I had in mind after a few days of pure serenity, but it was fun to see The Palace Hotel and experience this luxury downtown San Francisco staple.

While Ryan was in meetings, I got to know the hotel a bit better. I worked out, dinned in the Garden Court surrounded by a gazillion chandeliers, did some window shopping at Chanel and Tory Burch and waited patiently for Ryan’s meetings to end. Even though I’m a full-time working mom, it was fun to pretend that I wasn’t. Just for a day.

the palace san francisco travel blogger

*Even the mustard was fancy.

the palace san francisco travel blogger

the palace san francisco travel blogger

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The city was in full bloom. Outside and inside of the hotel. The Palace was built in 1875 and recently came out of a restoration. It was gorgeous inside. Every corner was opulent and you could feel the rich history in all of the details, while still feeling like you were in 2016.

the palace san francisco travel blogger

the palace san francisco travel blogger

The feeling of enjoying a warm cup of coffee without three little kids screaming in your ear. Ahhh … take me back to this moment.

the palace san francisco travel blogger

*My view of the pool from the fitness center.

Before dinner, I wanted to go see the Painted Ladies at Alamo Square. You know, the “Full House” houses. Also known as Postcard Row, this cute little street was in the heart of downtown. I think everyone had the same idea as us because there were a ton of people hanging out on the hilltop directly across from the houses. We sat there too and watched as the sun’s golden rays painted the tops of city buildings.

san francisco travel blogger - many hats of a mom blog

alamo square painted ladies travel blogger

I wonder what’s it’s like for the people who live in these houses. Literally, thousands of people come and sit and stare at your house. Must be strange.

san francisco travel blogger - many hats of a mom blog

san francisco travel blogger - many hats of a mom blog

alamo square painted ladies travel blogger

Just before sundown we walked up the grass hill in Alamo Square and stumbled upon a dog park. It was the cutest thing. Seeing these little city dogs reminded us of home. We FaceTime’d the kids before jumping into an Uber and hurrying off to dinner. I love days like this one … when you least expect it, great moments just seem to find you.

alamo square painted ladies travel blogger

*The last picture I have of Ryan before he shaved his hair. Awe.

alamo square painted ladies travel blogger

san francisco travel blogger

alamo square painted ladies travel blogger

many hats of a mom travel blog

After the park, we went for sushi at Pabu – it was amazing! If you like sushi, I would totally recommend this place. I’m a self-proclaimed sushi snob so my expectations were high and Pabu did not disappoint. It’s located in the financial district so you’ll see a lot of corporate folks, but the vibe was exactly what I wanted. The sushi … delicious and super innovative how they put it all together! So much so that I actually put the camera away and just indulged. I did snap this one picture of our table before we sat down.

pabu sushi in san francisco

pabu sushi in san francisco

Less than 24 hours after we arrived in San Francisco, we had to wake up and run off to the airport. Thanks to the Palace Hotel, this truly was a picture-perfect way to cap off our anniversary-kids-free-weekend. You can see more about our weekend in Napa Valley here, here and here. Thank you for following along and letting me relive these special moments through photos. I can’t wait to see where travel and adventure takes us next.

travel blogger - many hats of a mom blog

Napa Valley Blues, Greens and Merlots

silver oak napa valley blogger

silver oak napa valley bloggersilver oak napa valley blogger

You may recognize this water tower from the Silver Oak logo – it’s not a functioning tower any more, but it sure looks nice! We visited Silver Oak Vineyards on day two. One of my sorority sisters gave me a bottle of Silver Oak Merlot for my bridal shower (over 8 years ago!) and we drank it on our first wedding anniversary. Silver Oak has been a special wine of ours ever since.

silver oak napa valley blogger
silver oak napa valley blogger

silver oak napa valley blogger

silver oak napa valley blogger

Can you believe their wine was $6 per bottle when it first debuted in the ’70’s … and that was considered expensive! Most wine was being sold under a dollar. I loved this bit of history during our winery tour. For $30 per person, you can do a signature tasting & tour – they also throw in complimentary wine glasses.

napa valley

silver oak napa valley blogger

silver oak

silver oak napa valley blogger
silver oak napa valley blogger
napa valley
After Silver Oak we didn’t have any plans until late afternoon. Sometimes that’s the best part of vacation, right? Throwing out any form of a schedule and just ‘going’. That’s so hard of me to do since I’m such a Type A personality, but I’m so glad we did it because we found the most amazing restaurant, Farmstead. We heard it was one of only a few REAL farm-to-table restaurants in the U.S. Either way, we are certain they are to blame for our 6lb weight gain this trip.

Farmstead Napa Valley Travel Blogger
I mean … just look at Ryan’s Pulled Pork sandwich! This is the kind of stuff you order here. You don’t come to Farmstead to get a salad. Although, I’m sure that’s good too.

Farmstead Napa Valley Travel Blogger

Farmstead Napa Valley Travel Blogger

Like my purple lipstick? That’s called Cabernet and it was all over my teeth too. Who cares. We’re in Napa!

farmstead napa valley travel blogger

Farmstead Napa Valley Travel Blogger
farmstead napa valley restaurants
If I could do it again, I would come back at sunset – I can only imagine how romantic it is at night with all of the lights and live music outdoors. The Farmstead property and on-site market was so charming! So much so that I turned to Ryan and told him, “THIS is what I want our home to feel like.” Yep. I have been officially inspired to re-do our house and our backyard to feel like the Farmstead. You know, minor details.

farmstead napa valley restaurants

farmstead napa valley restaurants

napa valley travel mom blogger

napa valley travel mom blogger

napa valley travel mom blogger
napa valley travel mom blogger

A little game of horseshoes, some local caramel and we were on our way to our next stop, Caymus Vineyards. 

caymus napa valley

caymus vineyards

By this time the heels had come off, the flats were on and the purple/ Merlot stained smile was in full effect. Our next stop was Frog’s Leap Vineyards. The wine wasn’t our favorite, but the view, the vibe, the people … their dog, Abbie, all of those other factors made this one of the best places we visited! They gave us a complimentary Sauvignon blanc and some apple butter from their garden for our Anniversary. The best way to end a day of tasting!

frogs leap vineyards

frogs leap napa mom blogger

frogs leap napa mom blogger

frogs leap napa mom blogger
Forget for a moment that this is the cutest vineyard ever, with the most relaxing vibe, but then throw in Abbie – the owners dog. She is the cutest, raggiest thing and I may have been following her around yelling her name more than once. I mean … look at her. When she finally sat down and curled up at my feet, I almost lost it with excitement.

frogs leap vineyards in napa valley blog

frogs leap napa valley

frogs leap napa mom blogger

frogs leap

frogs leap napa mom blogger

frogs leap napa valley
And then – this is every husband’s dream – I made Ryan wear their vineyard hats. These hats are reserved for people on tours to shade them from the sun … but, I really think they’re reserved for moments when you’ve had a little too much to drink and you want to look amazing while walking around. Right, Ryan? He. Looks. Ridiculous. I was literally crying, I was laughing so hard.

frogs leap napa valley

frogs leap chickens

frogs leap napa mom blogger

Now, who wants to watch all three of our kids so we can make this an annual thing. 🙂 Seriously, one of the best vacations I have had (have I said that enough?). If you haven’t been to Napa, you should make the trip. It’s remarkable how beautiful nature can be.

Our first day in Napa Valley!

If you get the opportunity to date your husband, I highly recommend it. I had THE best time with Ryan celebrating our anniversary. The grandparents (thank the Lord for them!) watched all three of our kids while we lived it up … together. Everything we did was amazing – it was the wine, the food, but mostly the great company. I laughed more than I have in a long time. I actually forgot how funny my husband is. I really can’t stress this enough: Date your spouse! Here are a few stories from our first day in Napa.

We started the day at Bouchon Bakery. It’s Thomas Keller’s bakery and it did not disappoint. We were only stopping in for coffee, but when we saw all of the pastries lined up we couldn’t resist. You know when you wake up on day two and say, “Let’s go back!” that it’s a great bakery. Worth the visit if you’re in the area.

Bouchon Bakery

Bouchon Bakery

Bouchon Bakery

If you’re wondering, the coffee (aka the reason we came) was great too! Next stop: Duckhorn Vineyards. It was our first winery and it was the best start to the day. We showed up at 10am on a Monday and had the place to ourselves for the first hour. We were greeted with a private table on their porch (it felt like we were being invited into someone’s house) and indulged in great wine, good music and amazing views.

The vineyard cat, Kitter, was a highlight for us. She followed us around as we explored the vineyard and then perched herself onto the chair next to us. Our host for the day (James) was so welcoming. We spent about 2 hours here, just sipping wine, enjoying the breeze, chatting, laughing, and walking around the vineyard.

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Did you read the sign? We parked right next to this tree. As we were walking back to the car we read that this is the tree they make wine cork from. It was super “spongey” and cool to see up close.

Napa Valley Vineyards

After Duckhorn, we visited Dean and DeLuca to grab sandwiches and snacks for lunch. This place was awesome! You can pick up meats, cheeses and crackers for a day of tasting – along with cute gifts for friends back home.

Dean and Deluca Napa Valley

Dean and Deluca Napa

Dean and Deluca Napa

Dean and Deluca Napa
Dean and Deluca Napa

You’re not supposed to do this (so .. shhhh!) but we took our lunch across the street to V. Sattui and had a picnic lunch on their lawn. Someone told me this place wasn’t worth the trip, but I disagree. The grounds were beautiful and they had so many picnic tables, making it the perfect spot for a picnic lunch. You just aren’t supposed to bring outside food in because they have their own grocery shop inside (we didn’t know that until we got there). I fell in love with the rose bushes here – take a look at how beautiful they were.

napa valley mom blogger

napa valley mom blogger

napa valley mom blogger

napa valley mom blogger

Now, for the best views of the day! After lunch, we went to Joseph Phelps for another wine tasting. As we drove up the long windy, road we knew we were in for something great. We stepped into their winery and the huge oak barrels, cozy interior design and sophisticated ambiance made for a totally different experience than Duckhorn.

We learned a lot about their wine and even got to taste Backus – a super rare wine typically reserved for wine club members only due to its very limited supply. Insignia was one of my favorite wines and one that I may have to find back in Arizona. Except it’s about $200 per bottle. That’s okay, right honey? I could hear him gulp after I told him, “Wow! I really love this one.”

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Joseph Phelps

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joseph phelps

How handsome is he? I’m super lucky.

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joseph phelps mom blogger
Can you believe these views? We stayed here for about two hours and the only reason we left was to get some downtime back at the hotel before dinner. I highly recommend this winery (although it’s $75 for a tasting, per person) it was worth it. Speaking of dinner, GO TO BOTTEGA. Seriously. Go. It was the best Italian food we have had in a long time. Not to mention, half way through dinner Ryan slipped me a new Tiffany necklace for our anniversary. I’m telling you … this vacation was magic!

After dinner, we walked to the local market because I forgot to pack my toothbrush (I ALWAYS forget to pack my toothbrush) and on our way back we stopped at Bistro Jeanty – super small, French bistro in the town of Yountville. We sat on this little table outside, as we waited for our Uber, listening to the most amazing music. It felt like we were in Paris.

bottega in napa valley - mom blogger

bottega in napa valley - mom blogger

This one elderly couple walked out of the restaurant as we were sitting outside. The wife took one look us – I imagine we looked weird holding a brown paper sack (my toothbrush) – and raised her hands in the air and shouted, “This is why I love this town!!!” I’m not really sure what that meant, or how many cocktails she had, but I would like to think it was because this city evokes love and joy in everyone.

Napa Valley: The Westin and Oxbow Market

My husband and I just got back from three days in Napa Valley for our anniversary! If you are looking for a new vacation spot and want some place full of beautiful scenery, amazing food, great wine (and lots of it!) then Napa Valley is for you. We saw so much and are still relishing in excitement from the trip.

Napa Valley Westin Hotel

Westin Napa Resorts

 

We stayed at the Westin Verasa Napa resort. They were so good to us; they upgraded us to a one-bedroom suite upon arrival (that never happens!) and had complimentary tapas and wine every night. The resort is located within walking distance to downtown Napa Valley and the Oxbow Market, and sits along the Napa River.

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

After checking into our hotel, we walked over to the Market for dinner. We ate at Kitchen Door (the pizza is fabulous) and indulged in an old-school double scoop of ice cream at Three Twins Ice Cream. We explored the many different vendors in the Market and then enjoyed a super relaxing walk back to the hotel. It was the perfect start to a vacation we’ll never forget.

Here are some photos of us exploring the Oxbow Market, and of our view walking back to the resort.

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

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Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger
Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger
Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger
Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

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Napa Valley Mom Blogger

I was putting the lens cap back on my camera when I accidentally snapped this picture and yet, it’s my favorite photo from the night. See my camera strap in the way? Me either. I’m just focusing on the moment too. 🙂