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

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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

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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.

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*Even the mustard was fancy.

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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.

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*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

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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.

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*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.

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Napa Valley Blues, Greens and Merlots

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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.

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silver oak napa valley blogger

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silver oak napa valley blogger
silver oak napa valley blogger
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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!

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Farmstead Napa Valley Travel Blogger
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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. 

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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!

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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.

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frogs leap napa valley

frogs leap napa mom blogger

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frogs leap napa mom blogger

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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.

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frogs leap napa mom blogger

Now, who wants to watch all three of our kids so we can make this an annual thing. ūüôā 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.

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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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How handsome is he? I’m super lucky.

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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

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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. ūüôā

Work (and play) in Las Vegas

I was just in Las Vegas for work and I would love to tell you that I snapped all kinds of photos, but I didn’t. I failed. We went to the Mob Museum (Goooo! It’s that good), stayed at the SLS Las Vegas, strategized about Starwood, and had a night out on the Strip. Work life is a bit shook up right now with the Marriott/ Starwood merger, but we’ll get through it. It was so great to see my work family in person. We are spread out in different offices around North America, so getting together is a big deal. Going on 8 years with this company.¬†Can you believe it?

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las vegas mom blog

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las vegas mom blog

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Winter in Aspen

On Tuesday, I flew to Aspen for business meetings. I was only in town 24 hours before driving to Steamboat Springs to meet with another hotel. Even though my trip was short, it was truly one of the most scenic business trips I have experienced.

I’ve been to Aspen before, except last time I visited in the fall. The town is so different in the winter months. It’s full of activity, adventure, skiing, fur coats, chilly nights, and some of the whitest snow and brightest blue skies that I have seen.¬†.

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After the longest-shortest flight of my life (the flight from Denver to Aspen was 27 minutes, but we spent over 2 hours total on the tarmac and another hour waiting at baggage claim), I arrived at The St. Regis Aspen Resort. This was a monumental feeling. I had arrived!

st regis aspen travel blog

st regis aspen travel blog

st regis aspen travel blog

st regis aspen travel blog

The perfect magazine to describe this resort, it was BEYOND beautiful.

the st regis aspen colorado - many hats of a mom blog

the st regis aspen colorado - many hats of a mom blog

Once I arrived in¬†Aspen I¬†met up with my colleague, Andrea. She loves to ski (and doesn’t have three kids) so she arrived on Saturday and got some time on the mountain. It was our first work trip together and I can’t tell you how much fun we had! It’s all about the people you work with, wouldn’t you agree?

aspen mountain family blogger

aspen mountain family blogger

aspen mountain family blogger

As we were walking to Justice Snow’s for dinner, we spotted this cute little donut cart. I mean … and yes, we did take one dozen donuts into the restaurant and devoured them before actually ordering dinner. They had peanut butter and jelly donuts, maple & bacon donuts, powdered sugar … see what I mean.

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the st regis aspen colorado - many hats of a mom blog

the st regis aspen colorado - many hats of a mom blog

If you think the St. Regis Aspen lights up at night, you should see her in the morning. Just before sunrise, I woke up and¬†looked out my window to see the most beautiful shade of gold shining through the resort’s windows. The town was so quiet; the only sound I could hear was a light breeze and snow¬†falling off of the trees. What a great way to wake up.¬†And so … after a morning of meetings, Andrea and I walked around downtown to get one last look at this magical¬†town.

Aspen Mountain

the st regis aspen colorado - many hats of a mom blog

the st regis aspen colorado - many hats of a mom blog

This doggie in the window! I couldn’t resist.

the st regis aspen colorado - many hats of a mom blog

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Aspen Mountain

On the drive¬†to Steamboat Springs, we saw deer EVERYWHERE. Our friend, colleague and driver (thanks, Brian!) kept pointing out the animals to me the entire drive. It was like I was a toddler or something. I got so excited to see these amazing creatures. The fact that some people hunt them … well, that’s for a different post.

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This was my view of the sunset in Steamboat Springs, Colorado at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort. The resort has ski-in/ski-out access so you really can’t get much closer than this. Until next time, Colorado …

Travel Inspiration for your Wednesday

My friend¬†has a serious case of Wanderlust. She loves to travel, explore, embark on new adventures and invest in new experiences. Recently, she convinced her husband to pack up their life and travel through Southeast Asia for six months. Here’s a peek at their travel route. They covered so much ground!

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Even though she is now in Central America on another adventure,¬†she took time to write an article for me on¬†spgweekends.com, a site that inspires travel.¬†The article (click here to read it) is about her six months trip. It includes the most commonly asked questions she was asked – How did you afford this? Why did you do it? Did you quit your job?¬†It’s a must-read if you’re looking for a little travel inspiration (or if you have a case of Wanderlust yourself).

Enjoy!