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. 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.

Napa Valley Vineyards 12
Napa Valley Vineyards 2

Napa Valley Vineyards 3

Napa Valley Vineyards 4

Napa Valley Vineyards 5

Napa Valley Vineyards 10

Napa Valley Vineyards 6

Napa Valley Vineyards 9

Napa Valley Vineyards 7

Napa Valley Vineyards 11

Napa Valley Vineyards 8

Napa Valley Vineyards 1

Napa Valley Vineyards 13
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.”

joseph phelps 8

Joseph phelps 3

Joseph Phelps

Joseph phelps 4

Joseph Phelps 2

joseph phelps 6

joseph phelps

How handsome is he? I’m super lucky.

joseph phelps 7

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

Napa Valley Mom Blogger 4

 

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

Napa Valley Mom Blogger 3

Napa Valley Mom Blogger 2

Napa Valley Mom Blogger 1

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?

las vegas

las vegas

las vegas

las vegas mom blog

las vegas

las vegas

las vegas

las vegas

las vegas mom blog

las vegas mom blog

las vegas mom blog
las vegas mom blog

las vegas

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.¬†.

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

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.

aspen mountain family blogger

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

aspen mom blog

aspen mountain family blogger

aspen mountain travel blog

aspen mom blog

aspen

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.

steamboat springs sunset

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!

tings-travel-route-28-12-10 (1)

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!

Our New Family Travel Tradition

Artifact Uprising - Many Hats of a Mom Blogger

It’s no surprise to anyone that I love taking photos. But, what I haven’t been good at is printing these photos. Especially after a family vacation. I usually have hundreds of pictures that I don’t really know what to do with. Pair that with the fact that I love going over to my mom’s house and flipping through shelves upon shelves of our (printed)¬†family photo albums.

Rewind to a few months ago when I discovered Artifact Uprising Рan online company specializing in photo books, prints and photo gifts. It was like I found my soul mate. I found a company who also loves the tangible and actually inspires people to get photos off of their phones and into print.

I’m nearly a year late to the game, but I recently took our Disneyworld family vacation photos (from December 2014!!) off of my computer and into a coffee table book. The book just arrived and I’m overwhelmed with how great it turned out. The quality is amazing. It’s 50 pages of memories that I will cherish, forever.

In fact, it made me start a new tradition: Every time we travel as a family, I’m going to make a new coffee table book. My goal is to have my kids look back years later and see an entire bookshelf filled with memories of the places we’ve ventured to. I would encourage your family to do the same. It’s easy and fun to create.

Here are some of my favorite pages! 

artifact uprising many hats mom blog

Artifact Uprising 2

I love this photo of Kelsey riding the monorail. She was looking at the Park with such wonder.

DSC00375 small

Colton threw a tantrum (top left photo) but the minute he saw Snow White, it was like nothing else mattered.

DSC00412 small

Artifact Uprising Many Hats Mom Blog

Hands down, my favorite two photos of the entire book. We were window shopping on Main Street and the entire street was lit up for the holidays. It was magic.

Artifact Uprising Many Hats Mom Blog
Artifact Uprising Many Hats Mom Blog

DSC00366 small

Thank you, Artifact Uprising, for making this process so incredibly easy. And for having instagram-friendly books too for those times I don’t bring my DSLR along for the ride. I can’t wait for our next family adventure!

Early bird gets the best beach spot!

pacific beach - san diego with kids

Friday morning we woke up super early – let me rephrase that – the kids woke up super early, so we packed up and headed out to breakfast. My dad’s favorite breakfast spot in San Diego is called World Famous in Pacific Beach. It’s right on the water and has great breakfast. So, with a reservation for¬†12 people at 8am, we found ourselves¬†oceanside with our crew.

world famous san diego

How did we manage to get my two brothers up this early for breakfast? They were still on Austin time (2 hours ahead). My sister-in-law though … she drove down from Los Angeles at 5am. I’m telling you … our family is either pretty dedicated and amazing or we all just share a love for food.¬†Either way, the gang’s all here!

san diego breakfast - world famous restaurant

san diego beach breakfast

san diego beach breakfast

pacific beach san diego

After the kids were done eating, my mother-in-law took them to¬†run up and down the boardwalk so Ryan and I could eat our breakfast (God bless her). A few mimosas later (for Spencer) we headed out to the beach all together¬†to play in sand and get the kiddos all tuckered out so they would take naps (isn’t that the daily goal of a parent?).

It was Colton’s very first time seeing the water! That was priceless. On the way over, Kelsey said to him, “Colton, the sand in your toes feels really good when the water runs over it. It kind of feels like kinetic sand.” This girl, I swear.

my beach boys
Our¬†beach boys setting up camp. Shaun, Spencer, Matt, Ryan and a giant¬†diaper bag. Ugh. The diaper bag. I swear, I feel like I’m never going to be able to get rid of that thing.

mom blogger - traveling with kids

Colton loved the beach! He stared at it at first, but once he saw his half-mermaid sister jump right in, he did the same. He would run out to the water, let the waves crash into his feet, and then he would run back to me. I could have watched him do this for hours. It was only a matter of time before he took his shirt off and really dove in.

san diego with kids mom blog

san diego with kids mom blog

Ryan was the best with Kelsey. He got into the waves with her as¬†they searched for seaweed, jumped over waves and – most importantly – kept me¬†calm. I swear, I think I said, “Oooh, watch out! That’s too far. Come back.¬†Be careful. Need me?” like a thousand times. I’m super annoying around open water.

pacific beach with kids

pacific beach with kids

mom blog

pacific beach with kids

San Diego with Kids

san diego with kids mom blogger

mom blogger beach

See the bump? That’s baby Nolan. It was his first time at the beach too! It’s surreal to think that this is our last vacation before we become a family of five. Five! Yes, we are insane. You can say it.

san diego beach with kids

pacifc beach mom blogger

This is probably one of my favorite photos of our entire vacation. Colton was so tuckered out and yet –¬†he really¬†wanted dad to hold him. Even though Ryan was knee-deep in the waves with Kelsey, he carried Colton the entire time so he didn’t feel left out of the party. This husband of mine is everything. I couldn’t do life, parenting or even survive without him.

Thanks for the memories, Pacific Beach. It was a day I’ll never forget.