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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Napa Valley Vineyards 2

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Napa Valley Vineyards 1

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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.

24 Hours in Las Vegas

Here’s how our quick, 24 hour birthday trip to Vegas looked. (I promised myself I wouldn’t take pictures – rather, just enjoy every second). And then, there I was snapping a few photos. Just a few. That’s progress.

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It’s Vegas. Faux eye lashes and lots of shimmer are in order. We stayed at the Westin, which is slightly off of the Strip and sandwiched in between Bally’s and Flamingo. It was really nice. Super close to everything and we’re SPG loyalists, so it worked.

Bellagio Vegas Casino

We enjoyed a little gambling and wine before dinner. After our 1/2 mile walk to the Bellagio turned into 30 minutes. Everything looks so close in Vegas! It’s not.

VegasWe saw some really interesting folks while walking around. This guy was cool and creepy at the same time. I learned from Ryan this is a Storm Trooper. I have never seen Star Wars (don’t hate) so I just thought this was some knight in shining white armor. With a laser.

Ceasars Palace Vegas HotelEveryone looks at the lights, but I like to look up at the buildings. It was right after this moment that Ryan and I realized ‘hey, we are in Vegas!’. We have two kids. People with two kids don’t do these kind of things.

Vegas Casino - RyanThen we put on our game faces and got all kinds of serious with an electronic game of poker. Ryan taught me how to play. We went ‘max bet’ and threw down $1 each draw. I know … we’re wild.

Hyde Vegas Hotel

It was the craziest thing. On our way to Jasmine at the Bellagio, I ran into one of my co-workers. She works out of our Seattle office and was dining next door. What are the odds of that?

Jasmine Bellagio ChopsticksDinner at Jasmine was unreal. Truly remarkable. It’s Chinese food with a great view of the fountains. The china, the service, the food (especially the Chilean sea bass) were remarkable. See the chopsticks? They had silver on the ends, like china chopsticks I suppose. It was all really fancy (but not too fancy). Because we’re not 5 star people. We’re like 4 star. At most.

Jasmine Bellagio Restaurant

In this moment, Ryan leaned in, “Just say no when she comes around, okay.” There was a lady taking pictures of couples at dinner. Before I could put my camera away, there she was – standing over our table. “Can I take your photo?” Sure? I said. Ryan groaned.

Joke was on me. She had us stand up. Pose like we were at prom. “Arm on his chest. Hand on her waist. That’s good. Now kiss his cheek. Put your hand on your hip. Now, you all by yourself.” Humiliating.  The entire restaurant was staring at us, as we embarked on a mini photo shoot.

Then, she came back again. This time with the photos. You could see fear in our eyes in every photo. She was good. But not “$140 for all 4 photos” good.

Jasmine Bellagio Dinner View

Jasmine came highly recommended from a friend, who had spent her anniversary dinner here. It’s really a special place. The view can’t be beat.

Bobby Flay Mesa Grill Vegas Bar

We like to eat dinner one place, then go somewhere else for dessert. And that’s just what we did. We went to Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill. We sat at the bar and ordered cocktails and the deep dish banana cream pie.
.Bobby Flay Mesa Grill Vegas Dinner

I think we camped out at this bar for another few hours. Just talking. Laughing and enjoying Vegas. If you ever get the chance to surprise your husband for his birthday, get a babysitter for the kids and do it!  Dating your husband and traveling with your best friend is something that can’t be beat.

Vegas Limos

The next morning, we got up, ate breakfast at the hotel, gambled some more, then took a limo to the airport. Because … well, why not? We were back home by 3pm, anxious and ready to see the kids. It was the best birthday-surprise date ever.

The Wife Hat: Mushy Stuff

It’s the modern-day version of taking your husband shopping. Only, instead of having him carry around your purse and wait while you try on shoes, he has to carry your camera case, coffee and wait for you to take the “this will be great on the blog” photos. I love this man.

The Wife Hat: Music History for Two

My music-loving husband and I visited The Music Instrument Museum. We spent about 2.5 hours looking at exhibits and gallery’s featuring over 10,000 instruments from around the world. Rich on history and interactive fun, we had a blast and learned a lot.

Upon arrival, you get a pair of headphones. As you enter each exhibit your headphones will automatically allow you to hear music from the country/ time period you are visiting. What a thrill this place is.

The MIM cafe has amazing food, wine and beer selections while giving you a great place to rest your feet. Downstairs is the fun interactive stuff where Ryan and I got to play guitars, bang some banjos and I got to hit a massive “gong”. Pretty fun stuff, I would highly recommend you visit.

 

Eric Clapton’s “Brownie”

 

Steve Vai = one of Ryan’s favorites.

 

The whistle = the only instrument in the entire place I can play.

The Anniversary Hat: Love Birds

It’s “Motivational Monday” – but it’s my blog, so I get to change the rules if I want to. Right? Happy “Motivational Monday” day, Happy tax day and happy third wedding anniversary to my husband and I. Love is all you need. 
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… in sickness and health, in good times and bad … forever & always .

 

The Mommy Hat: This Little Piggy

I had a conversation with my husband tonight that I never thought I would have. I was playing, “this little piggy” with Kelsey when all of a sudden my husband stopped me and questioned the lyrics to the game. Here’s how the conversation went.
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ME: This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home, this little piggy had roast beef …
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HIM:  Roast beef? That’s not right.
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ME: Yes, it is. It’s roast beef. This little piggy went to market …
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HIM:  Why would the pig have roast beef?
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ME:  No clue. Does it really matter? This little piggy …
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HIM:  That doesn’t even make sense. A pig wouldn’t eat roast beef.
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ME:  A pig also wouldn’t go to the store. It’s roast beef … isn’t it?   
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Then, I thought about it more: Why would a pig eat roast beef? I thought I was loosing my mind, so I searched it online and sure enough – here it is, the full explanation of why the third little piggy had roast beef. So random. Regardless, it’s a fun game and my daughter loves it. When I’m done with one foot she signs “more, more” in sign language and I keep going. She is such a smart girl! And yes – it’s a great day when my husband has to say, “You were right”. Yet again.

The Wife Hat: Birthday Boy

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This is one of the earliest photo I have of my husband and I. Circa 2005.
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In this photo, we were taking a chance on love. I lived in California. He lived here. Can you tell I’m smitten? The beginning of our relationship was filled with late night phone calls, airline tickets and many text messages. We took a chance on something we thought might work. I moved closer to be with him. We fell in love. And the rest is history. Or, rather – we’re making the history. Because of him. I have her. Because of him. I love life that much more. If you’re lucky enough to know my husband, you know that he is one of the most kind-hearted individuals our planet has. He’s remarkable. He’s wonderful. And he’ll be 31 on Sunday. What will we do? Check back this weekend to find out!