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.


the rest of April

Another month, another recap post.  But this one is written because of the request from a dear friend.  I can’t believe anyone other than my mom, Aunt Paula, and Gina read this thing :)

After the best day, that Saturday, the other bridesmaids and I threw Marissa a shower (complete with a mimosa bar)!

Mary-Ashley, aka bridesmaid extraordinaire, lives in Charlotte and couldn’t make it to the shower, so she mailed Marissa (aka Patty) flowers.  Now isn’t that the sweetest?

Marissa’s sister, Alicia, gifted her with the veil they wore for dress-up as little girls.
I just hope she looks this good on Saturday at the wedding!

The next weekend was Easter spent with family and friends who are family.  Bringing flowers to the cross, a marvelous church tradition.

After that was another trip to the Ted.  Thanks corporate America (and Austin’s patriotism) for the good seats!
Then a perfect spring day spent at the Inman Park Festival (along with everyone else in Atlanta) and my favorite part, riding on the Beltline with these lovely ladies!

Not all the days were this great.  There were still marketing papers, bills, Junior League meetings, conference calls, and the every day life occurrences, but it’s a blessing to get to do it all.

How to have a dinner party in your 20s (on the cheap)

When you don’t have a yard or a grill or the budget to get some filet mignon but you love entertaining, here’s a guide to have a dinner party with some friends!

Set the table:
Tablecloths (that you purchased last summer from Home Goods because you love linens) make everything fancy and fancy, well she doesn’t let me down.
Pick some flowers (gardenias in this case) from your garden!  Those are free!
Pick a dish that people wouldn’t think to make for themselves but is still easy and delicious.  I chose chicken piccata.  I used Giada’s recipe but also considered Ina’s.  Ina’s had more ingredients, so I went with the cheaper (and a little easier) option.
For the sides, I went with a salad and olive oil/lemon/basil pasta.  The salad takes a full minute to make, and the pasta is a light summer treat (which I first had at the beach with the Lady).
The trick is to make it all about your main dish because you don’t have time (after work when your stomach is growling) to have 3 top-notch dishes, just focus on one.
Also, have wine.  People love wine.

Every dinner party has to have dessert.  When it’s summer time, cobblers are a good option, especially Pioneer Woman’s blackberry cobbler.  Frozen fruit is cheaper too!
Her cobbler is a hit every time!
Make sure to invite hungry and fun friends over and you will have a great night!
It’s almost like we’re real adults.  Almost.

Because I’m an old Southern woman and we’re supposed to wear funny looking hats and ugly clothes and grow vegetables in the dirt.

This past Saturday was the Annual Garden Tour
of the American Hydrangea Society,
which means that hydrangeas are in bloom
and Atlanta is looking great.

I only made it to a few homes on the tour,
but there were some neat gardens
(In the last one, TV shows are filmed here,
as well as anUsher music video)

It’s a big weekend for my mom,
so I thought I would highlight how beautifully
her garden is blooming right now
The neighborhood girls play fairies here.
And then there are a few touches
from my mom’s sweet friends
to honor her mother and her sister
because my mom’s side of the family knows their flowers
(as well the answer to any trivia question)

And now it’s the middle of September?

1. This is old news, but if you didn’t see it on Monday, my boy Andy Murray won his first grand slam!  Not to mention he already won gold at the Olympics this year.

It was a long, long match into five sets, but he did it!
Hopefully now he has the money to pay for a haircut.

2. On another sports note that is even older news, we did it!  We beat Missouri by 21 points, and learned again that Jarvis Jones is a beast!
3. On Labor Day, Alison and I intended to go hiking, but the forecast showed rain, so we decided to go to a museum.  I’ll count this as my cultural event for the month!

We went to the Bodies Exhibit at Atlantic Station.  I’m pretty sure this exhibit has been there for six years, but I had yet to go.
The biggest thing I learned was that using weights helps your muscles and your bones.  I had no idea about the second part.  Also, did you know that you are born with almost 200 bones but as an adult, you only have 120 or so?

The only time we couldn’t really take it was the skin of an entire body laid out like a rug.

I did ok during the fetus exhibit, but at the end when the baby looked like a baby and not a tadpole, I couldn’t stop thinking, this is someone’s child that they lost.

Then, there were the lungs.  If you are healthy, your lungs look like granite.  If you smoke, they look like coal.  Absolutely disgusting.

The entire exhibit was fascinating.  It was a little expensive at $24 for only taking us an hour to go through and we read every sign, but the learning and ability to get that close to science and the cost for the preparation they had to do made it worth it.  The curators of the exhibit did a great job.  (Katie, have you been?)

4. On a completely different note from above, I saw this on Pinterest and laughed and thought of my bacon lovers, Sloan and the Lady.
5. In the South, being 25 and single isn’t as common as you would think.  I love my friends married and not married, but this might be my life right now!  :)

Now, I think I’ll all caught up on my blogging!

Happy weekend!


Kacina and Jason came to town to visit Jamie so while the boys played golf, us girls took a little trip to Serenbe, which is southwest of the airport.

What a cute little self-sustaining town!  They even have a general store.  Sadly, the Olesons were out of town.
We went to brunch at the Hil.  All of the food is locally grown.

The food was delicious.  Jamie ordered us cinnamon rolls and carrot bread.  The icing on the cinnamon rolls tasted like pure cream.

I had a frittata with squash, zucchini, potatoes, feta, bacon, and tomatoes.  We also ordered mimosas because we are ladies who brunch.
The meal was delicious.  The cinnamon rolls were my favorite part.

We then were lifted by a crane out of there and walked around the shops.
I thought this was funny
There was a house sponsored by Bosch and Ballards that we toured for free.  It wasn’t my style, but I liked some pieces and got some ideas.

Love the collection of artwork here but don’t love the drapes cut off halfway above the ground.They had the valances through out the house, but I liked it best in the bathroom so you can still get natural light in when you’re putting on make-up.
This mirror is great and I hadn’t though of using it for a bathroom.
This was above the mantle.  I love the little sheep statue on the rock.
The fabric hanging behind the beds was neat but then the window treatment would have to be very basic.

We toured another house down the street that didn’t have any furniture, but I liked the layout much better.
This winding staircase went four flights.
I loved the wrap around porch complete with fans.
The house across the street looked just like the house from Sleepless in Seattle.
We opted not to see the HGTV greenhouse.

If Target was closer, I could live there.  I of course would have to get some of these
It was a great day with my best girls!