grace

Grace, it’s a hard thing to wrap my head around sometimes and even harder to explain, but my Bible Study teacher explained it this way and I keep thinking it over in my head.

If your friend steals the necklace your grandmother passed down to you, you would be pretty upset.

If your friend keeps the necklace, you are out a family treasure.

If your friend gives back the necklace, then your friend is out a necklace.

And either way, the friendship is hurt.  Somebody is paying for it regardless.

But that’s the difference with God.  When we ask for forgiveness, He simply says it is good.  He doesn’t ask for anything in return.  Jesus paid for all of our sins while we’re not paying for anything, that’s grace.

more weekends in Athens

Georgia has a weird and fairly annoying schedule where we are either home for all of September and then away for all of October (like this year) or the reverse.  After heading to Athens for Troy, we’ve been back the past two weekends as well.

The Tennessee game was a nail biter but we won 35-32.  As Jim says, they sure don’t make it easy.  It was frustrating, but I’ll take the win.
and Gurley jumped over another player!
gurley Jim and I managed to get a picture where we are both smiling and my eyes are even open.

Friends and friends of friends joined us for Vanderbilt.  It was homecoming in the Classic City.
It was so cold on Saturday, the wind was super strong.  Don’t let that guy wearing shorts make you think he wasn’t freezing.  It was nice fall football weather but really cold.

This game was a much easier win, 44-17 and it was great showing everyone the tailgate and Athens, the best college town that ever was.  We all had a great time!!  (y’all come back now!)

I stayed with Jason and Kacina Saturday night because on Sunday we celebrated Kac and the new baby on the way!  It was great to spend time with them before they are sleepless parents.  I treasure these girls.

Some of the few other blondes in a room full of Greek women who also wrote the sweetest post to the baby
We can’t wait to meet their sweet baby girl!

I wrote this earlier and just now when I’m about to post this, they announced that Gurley is suspended indefinitely.  They really don’t make it easy on us.

I will have to get my joy from football in watching SEC Wives (I’ve only seen 5 minutes and I love it!) if things keep getting worse.

And the thunder rolls

Classes started back up again this week, and after a day of work and class, my candle is burning down now, but here goes a weekend update without any of the comedy of Tina Fey.

By the luck of the Ticketmaster draw, we had really good seats when Garth resurged his tour and came to Atlanta last Friday night!  I was pretty jealous when Sloan and Ryan went to Nashville to see him a few years ago (for their third or so date!), and I thought all hope of him in concert was lost, but that was not the case!

Austin & Julia and Tara & Sean went with us (this photo has no hope to fix the lighting) to the first concert of the Atlanta tour
Garth put on a show.  It was AMAZING and he is certainly a performer.  I don’t think I’ve seen anymore with more energy than him running around the entire stage.

My favorite was when he said that he, like us, pays to go to other artist’s concerts, and when the artist plays stuff from their new album, he wishes they would stick to their old stuff.  So the old stuff is what he played!  It’s what I grew up on.  We sang along to every song.

and then Trisha came out onto the stage and when she sang “American Girl,” I couldn’t stop smiling.  (and they showed clips from her cooking show, which I of course dvr)
Kelly Clarkson came out too because she had a new single out that day with Trisha.  Plus, it was Trisha’s 50th birthday so they had a cake in the shape of Georgia since she is after all from Monticello (pronounced not like Thomas Jefferson’s house but Mont-a-cell-o).

Seeing them together was perfect.  We had the best time!  All of their songs are classics, I was so happy!  People keep saying it’s the best concert they’ve been to, and I don’t know that that’s the case, but it is up there.

and then on Saturday we ventured to Athens for Georgia to play a really, really bad team as we beat them 66-0.
And came back to Atlanta to grab dinner and celebrate Austin’s birthday.  It was a great weekend and a nice start to fall!

 

When Doves Fly

Did you know that opening day of dove season was 2 Saturdays ago?  Well I did, as hunting dates are now kept on my calendar.

We’ve spent the past two weekends down at the farm so the boys can go hunting.  It worked out nicely with dove opening day falling on Georgia’s bye weekend and the next weekend playing away at South Carolina (and we did not play so well, but I won’t go into that).

{peanut field}

While I thought most hunting takes place in the morning, dove hunting is in the afternoon when the doves come to the sunflower field to feed.  While the boys are out sweating and shooting in the central Georgia heat, we girls drove around the golf cart.  We are fans of waiting at the house until the temperature cools off.
Jim sits on this stool that swivels and it has two layers inside to hold ammo, water, and then doves.
I was ok with him killing doves until someone told me that they mate for life…

The first weekend, I couldn’t touch a dove, but by the second weekend, I was helping him pick them up.  But I still get close to gagging when he cleans them.
We picked peanuts from the farm in the morning and boiled them, a Georgia treat I love.
The next weekend Josh joined us
and sweet Mrs. Patty acted as the cart girl taking cold water to all the hunters.  It’s a country club out there y’all.
Ladies, this man is not available
While some girls prefer fancy dinners, I love that my guy takes me out to the dove field with him.

and then on the day we’ve been dating a year, he sends me flowers!
He sure is sweet
and because I know y’all want to know-
Outfit Details

Shirt and hat: a closet at the farm
Shorts: Target, circa 2011

The best time of the year

After last year, I was more than anxious about this Clemson game.  Sloan and I discussed our outfits (even though I don’t appreciate people telling me what color to wear (are you listening Coach Richt), don’t they know red is hard to find in stores and colors don’t make you win a game, I digress)

so Labor Day weekend we honored the red out
as well as Mario back there.

and usually wears white Jimbo
and Josh
and it must have worked because we won!

I’m guessing it probably really had to do with the fact that our running backs are the best in the land and our new DC Pruitt led our boys to only giving up one first down in the second half.

It was a HOT and HUMID day with some scattered showers and I don’t remember the last time I’ve wiped so much sweat off, but it was worth it to be back with my people
and sit with my girl
celebrating a win!
and it doesn’t hurt that I live with a Clemson grad.  Victory feels good!

I just really hope we can do it again this Saturday in Columbia…. Go Dawgs!

California: and then we survived an earthquake

On Saturday, we drove all around Napa and Sonoma, making a few random stops along the way.

We picked up some breakfast at Bouchon Bakery with its line out the door

If I had opened my eyes, this would have been a cute picture
We were on a mission to find pistachio trees only to learn that they are grown a few hours away, but we did stumble upon some incredible views of the valley, none of which come close to being captured in pictures.
We walked through another vineyard
and ate lunch in downtown Sonoma, where the food was good but the shops were too speciality and expensive for me

We ventured back to downtown Napa for a little souvenir shopping and stumbled upon a big festival.

Mr. David and Mrs. Patty headed back to SF that night to fly out the next morning.  Based upon our wine tour guide’s recommendation, Jim and I opted for a nice dinner at Rutherford Grill.  Locals all bring their own wine to dinner since it’s cheaper and this restaurant didn’t have a corking fee.  We were fancy and went to a tasting at a local cellar before selecting our wine to bring to dinner.  (don’t worry mom, we took a cab)

We enjoyed our wine on the patio waiting for our table

Dinner was excellent and the grilled artichoke was my favorite part
Later that night, at about 3:30 in the morning, we woke up to the entire building shaking, lots of loud noise.  What I initially thought was a nightmare was in reality a 6.0 earthquake.

The earthquake lasted about 15 seconds and I was terrified.  I prayed that we would survive without the building crashing down on us.

Once the earthquake stopped, Jim tried to find the light only to not be able to find the lamp.  He eventually found his phone to use as light with the power out and the room pitch black.  I of course screamed to be careful for broken glass with the window.  We evacuated the hotel and talked to other travelers, Canadians and other non-Californians who also didn’t really know what to do after an earthquake.  That’s when I noticed this scratch on Jim’s face, who knows how he got it, maybe the lamp.
After an hour, we hoped the aftershocks were over and went back to bed.  I managed to fall back asleep only to be woken up by another jolt of an aftershock.

Once the sun came up, we surveyed the room and found the destruction
That’s the microwave, tv, drawers, and fridge all fallen over.
The air conditioner came out of the socket and both beds moved 6 inches off the wall.  The bedside table, with a granite top, had fallen over with my phone underneath.

Right after the quake, we noticed the floor was wet and I was worried that all of our wine had fallen but miraculously it was only the ice bucket.  The duck wine was safe and has now been renamed earthquake wine.

The hotel was built to code and the windows were fine.  We made it out mostly untouched other than Jim’s scrape and were very lucky.  The earthquake felt as if you were on a horrible old roller coaster jolting you back and forth, not something I want to experience again.

We tried to find breakfast but everything in Napa was closed.  With all the glass in grocery stores and restaurants, we had to drive out of town to find food.  The bummer was that friends of mine who now live in SF were coming up to go to wineries with us that afternoon and all of the wineries were closed for the day trying to clean up their damage.

So we headed to the coast.  On the way out there, we saw how dry California is.
We went to Point Reyes National Seashore hoping to see some good cliffs.  According to the map, it didn’t look like a far drive but it was continually just a little bit farther and farther around another mountain and I may not be the best navigator.  We eventually got there and put our toes in the ice cold water.  Gorgeous scenery!
We didn’t make it all the way to the lighthouse because that would have taken another hour on curvy roads, but we did see a bunch of organic dairy farms along the way out in the middle of nowhere.  Organic milk drinkers should be happy to know that their cows are enjoying a nice view of the Pacific while grazing.
I’m glad we made it to the coast, it was such a different landscape from what we had seen and the cliffs were beautiful.

We stopped off in downtown Napa to see the earthquake damage there since they have some older buildings.
This is right where the festival had been the day before, so thank goodness the earthquake came at night when everyone was home.  There was glass broken everywhere and streets that had buckled were getting repaired, but people were generally all ok.

All day, at breakfast or at the gas station, locals were talking about the earthquake.  They said it was the worst they had ever experienced.  We too, kept randomly saying, “I can’t believe that really happened.”

We checked into where Jim was staying for work for the week and it was not bad at all.  We called it our earthquake recovery plan.
and then I had to go home, unwillingly but happily back to a land without major earthquakes.

We had an incredible trip!  It was so fun and we had the best time together.

Plus, we still have our duck/earthquake wine to remember it by!

 

California: Napa

The drive to Napa was pretty (but cloudy and a little gloomy).  I thought Saulsalito looked like a place I’d want to visit next time.

We made it to our hotel in Napa (the city, in the county of Napa in the valley of Napa) and the wine tour picked us up at 10:30.

We’re not really wine people, but a good glass or two every once in a while is good.  But if you ever go to wine country, take Platypus Tours.  I can’t recommend them high enough.  I found them through trip advisor and with nearly 3500 reviews and an average rating of 5/5 stars, we were in good hands.

We were on a bus with 12 of us and our driver, Carl.  Carl is from Napa and talked to us about wine and the valley while driving us around.  He took us to small wineries and had scheduled private tours at 3 of the 4 wineries.  We were ready for a day of wine!

Our first stop was a winery that had only been open for a month, Dahl Vineyards in Yountville.  The owner of the winery lead the tasting for us.  He used to have a winery in Minnesota and moved to Napa a few years ago.  He had an unmatched passion for wine, he was so nice to all of us, and the setup was right out of a magazine.  We wished this tasting was last because we knew it couldn’t be topped.

They were just beginning to harvest the grapes, so we were allowed to try some.  They were much sweeter than I would have thought and quite tasty except lots of seeds.
Once we came out of the tasting, the clouds went away.  We learned that Napa is cloudy all morning and then before lunch, the sun comes out and it warms right up.  The weather was perfect.
 Then, we drove up farther north in the valley to St. Helena to Tudal Winery.
The tour provided lunch for us (as well as snacks on the bus) and we had a sophisticated picnic
We really liked this winery too.  The owner came out to speak to us, it was very laid back as they gave us the tour walking around the property.

We bought a bottle of wine here and when I got the trivia question right, I won a free bottle of wine too!

After lunch, we headed to Hagafen Winery further south.  We did not have a private tasting at this one, so we were mixed in with other tourists, and we all said we could have skipped this one.  By this point, we had been drinking a good bit of wine (and that includes pouring out a bunch) and there wasn’t anything special about this place.

Jim made a good point that at the other wineries, we didn’t get to pick what we tasted, so we tried what they thought is best, not what we know, but here, we tasted what sounded familiar to us.
Our last stop was Razi Winery tucked away off the road.  Like many of the wineries, it’s by appointment only.  Carl told us that Mr. Razi (for lack of remembering his name) is a quiet man but he makes very good wine.

I’m not sure if it was because we had already been to three wineries and were feeling quite good or if the wine was actually good (I think both), but we loved this wine.  When pouring one bottle, Mr. Razi said, “This wine goes especially well with gamey meat, duck in particular.”  Being duck hunters, Jim and Mr. David both got big eyes and sure enough, we left there with some duck wine.

We had a perfect day in Napa together.  Our group was fun and we went to all different but all extremely good wineries.  As Carl said, he should start a reality wine tour tv show, “strangers at 11, best friends by 5:00.”
The wine tour made our trip!  We loved it!  And now we have something to remember it by

 

A few things I learned about wine-

1. Only drink what you like.  Each winery told us to dump it if we didn’t like it.  They said don’t care what the ratings say or anything, just go off of what you think.  I wish I was that carefree to company if they don’t like my food.

2. The dryer the weather, the better the wine.  California is super dry and Napa hadn’t seen rain in 3 months.  While bad for most produce, the dryness makes the grapes concentrated and thus, better wine.

3. When you buy wine, turn it around and read the label.  “Produced and bottled by” means that the wine was made and bottled at that winery.  For example, Costco wine reads “cellared and bottled by” meaning that the grapes came from somewhere else but were then stored and bottled at the Napa winery.  While the name is the name, the wine in the bottle is not.

4. Red wine is better for you than white wine because as with other fruits and vegetables, the skin has all the nutrients and white wine is made without any skin from the grape.

5. Harvesting takes place from 3-7 in the morning.

6. Farm land in south Georgia costs about $2,000-$3,000 an acre.  In Napa, it goes from $400,000 to half a million an acre.  Thus, if you buy a bottle of wine with grapes from Napa, you cannot spend less than $30.

7. There’s a difference – vineyards grow grapes, while wineries make wine.

8. All of Napa Valley is protected wine country.  However, due to erosion, growing grapes on hillsides is not allowed unless you have been grandfathered in and those are lucky wineries.

9. Overnight, the movie “Sideways” ruined merlot.