An Invitation: Caudalie French Skin Care + Jason Wu Event in Venice Beach, California

An Invitation: Caudalie French Skin Care + Jason Wu Event in Venice Beach, California

As I was going through the mail following our summer travel, I discovered an invitation to an event for a brand of which I am a longtime fan. The event was to celebrate the collaboration between the french skin care line, Caudalie by Mathilde Thomas, and fashion designer, Jason Wu. My first thought was, "I can't fly to Venice Beach, I just got home from 3 weeks in Europe". Then I realized that Scott was already planning to be in LA for a class reunion that very weekend and had already reserved a hotel. The timing could not have been more perfect! We decided to drive the 8+ hours to Los Angeles and it was so convenient to have a car for all the stops we planned to make. We downloaded the intriguing podcast 'Serial' which made the drive absolutely fly by.

Read More

Curated Hotel: The Senza Napa for a Jazzy Weekend in Napa Valley

Curated Hotel: The Senza Napa for a Jazzy Weekend in Napa Valley


I was recently invited to attend Brian Culbertson’s Jazz Getaway in Napa Valley so naturally Scott and I decided to make a quick weekend out of it. Wine country is beautiful every season, yet this weekend was simply spectacular. The temperature was in the high 70’s with a fresh coastal breeze. Here I am, thoroughly enjoying the pre-show with a glass of Napa Valley vino.

Read More

5 Favorite Things to Do in Napa Valley

5 Favorite Things to Do in Napa Valley

I'm often asked about my list of favorite things to do in Napa Valley. Along with incredible scenery, world-class wines and dining, there are a few things that always land on my itinerary. These are my 5 favorite things to do in Napa Valley this time of year.

Read More

Getaway to Dry Creek Valley Wine Country, California

Getaway to Dry Creek Valley Wine Country, California

Scott and I tried something new for the updated version of our winter holiday. Though we were unable to fly to Riviera Maya due to his back issues, we decided a short road trip would be just the right idea. Wine country is our favorite Northern California getaway and we thought it would be fun to stay in a vacation rental rather than a hotel this trip. With above average temps and sunny skies we knew we were in for a sunny escape to wine country. The vibrant yellow mustard, brilliant blue skies and puffy white clouds were dazzling.

Read More

Wine Country Weekend - Three Day Getaway!

Wine Country Weekend

Fall is a brilliant time of year to escape to Northern California wine country. The leaves are luminescent with hues of autumn; the sky transforms into a deeper shade of blue. Scott and I recently took advantage of some time off to make our annual fall trip to wine country. Our first stop was for lunch on the patio at Solbar on the Silverado Trail in Calistoga. The food is always delicious, service is incredibly friendly and the location is unbeatable.

wine-country-getaway
wine-country-getaway
wine-country-weekend-stylemindchiclife
wine-country-weekend-stylemindchiclife

Our next stop was almost next door at Clos Pegase winery in Calistoga. I've always appreciated the attention to detail with stonework and art collections at Clos Pegase. The winery is especially picturesque in the fall season.

wine-country-weekend-clos-pegase-winery
wine-country-weekend-clos-pegase-winery
wine-country-getaway-clos-pegase
wine-country-getaway-clos-pegase

A room with a view at Clos Pegase.

wine-country-weekend-a-sunny-escape
wine-country-weekend-a-sunny-escape

By this time we were ready to head to the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel and Spa in Santa Rosa to check in for our getaway.  Scott had booked us a couple of nights on Hyatt points he discovered he had.

wine-country-weekend-a-sunny-escape
wine-country-weekend-a-sunny-escape

It's always nice to receive a special welcome ...

and an upgrade to an executive suite.

wine-country-weekend
wine-country-weekend

Our suite was extremely spacious, well-appointed and comfortable with luxurious touches.

wine-country-weekend-a-sunny-escape
wine-country-weekend-a-sunny-escape

An hour or so to relax and we were off to dinner at Willi's Wine Bar, which has rave reviews from the SF Chronicle, as well as other reviewers. We used the Uber app, which is an amazing way to get a quick ride--to and from--your destination safely. Download it and use it during your next night out if you haven't already discovered it.

wine-country-weekend
wine-country-weekend

The next morning we discovered the quintessential cafe breakfast at Dierk's Parkside Cafe'. Not to brag but I have never seen a mimosa this big! The staff was friendly and fun at this neighborhood gem in Santa Rosa.  #yummy

wine-country-weekend-j-winery
wine-country-weekend-j-winery

Next we were up for some natural beauty.

A stop at the beautiful J Vineyards and Winery is always a treat.

wine-country-weekend-j-winery
wine-country-weekend-j-winery

Desmond shared some fantastic history and took great care of us at J Vineyards & Winery.

wine-country-weekend
wine-country-weekend

We were hungry by the time we reached Healdsburg, one of our wine country favorite spots, and couldn't resist Bravas Bar de Tapas. The small plates with Spanish flair and terrace dining are so enjoyable. The dish pictured is of caramelized onions over goat cheese bruschetta with drizzles of balsamic--simple and delicious!

wine-country-getaway-wilson-winery
wine-country-getaway-wilson-winery

Our friends recommended Wilson Winery on Dry Creek Road so we meandered to this beautiful spot. We were blown away by the vineyard views from the terrace, as well as the bold, red zinfandels we tasted. Scott couldn't resist joining the wine club at Wilson Winery so we will definitely be returning.

wine-country-getaway-wilson-winery
wine-country-getaway-wilson-winery
wine-country-weekend
wine-country-weekend
wine-country-weekend
wine-country-weekend

Sips....

wine-country-getaway-stylemindchiclife
wine-country-getaway-stylemindchiclife

Rose' sunset over wine country.

wine-country-getaway-a-sunny-escape
wine-country-getaway-a-sunny-escape

Back at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek, a cozy fire-pit was waiting for us.

#nightnight

The next morning, we discovered the shops and restaurants at Railroad Square, within walking distance to the Hyatt Vineyard Creek. The Omelette Express serves up a decadent and filling breakfast.

wine-country-getaway
wine-country-getaway

This trip was more of a meandering through a larger area of wine country than some of our previous trips. Our final stop was in Sebastopol where we discovered the delightful K & L Bistro for lunch. The service, decor and ambiance created the perfect foodie gem. Each town in wine country possesses a unique charm.

wine-country-weekend-heather-lindstrom
wine-country-weekend-heather-lindstrom

We lucked out with the weather in November. It was cool enough for booties and a cashmere poncho but warm enough for walking through vineyards and dining on the patio in comfort.

// < ![CDATA[ // < ![CDATA[ // < ![CDATA[ !function(doc,s,id){ var e, p; if(!doc.getElementById(id)) { e = doc.createElement(s); e.id = id; p = '//shopsensewidget.shopstyle.com/widget-script.js'; var cb = new Date().getTime(); p += '?cb=' + cb; e.src = p; doc.body.appendChild(e); } if(typeof window.ss_shopsense === 'object'){ if(doc.readyState === 'complete'){ window.ss_shopsense.init(); } } }(document, 'script', 'shopsensewidget-script'); // ]]</p></div>

Date Night: A Double Date and Meeting in the Middle

When Scott and I started seeing each other, I lived in the San Francisco bay area and he lived in Chico, about 2 hours away. One Tuesday he called me and said, "I can't wait until the weekend to see you. Let's meet in the middle for dinner tonight". To be honest, there is a whole lot of nothing in between, but we did some research and luckily we discovered Louis Cairo's Steakhouse in Williams, just off Interstate 5. With cheery red checked tablecloths, delicious pastas and steaks, and the GLOW of a new love, it was a memorable evening to say the least. As we walked away from our table that night, the gentleman sitting across from us said, "If you don't want her, I'll take her". To that I say, "Thank you sir!"  We not only had a full blown love affair going on but also a new spot for dinner right in the middle. Flash forward 17 years and now we make the drive to Louis Cairo's a few times a year to meet up with friends who live in the bay area.

The hour long drive is definitely worth it and you never know what you might see along the way. There must a a story behind this Porsche emblazoned with "Polizei" --German for police.

Welcome to Williams, California.

It's conveniently located just off Interstate 5.

I believe it's mandatory for a country town to have a water tower.

Williams has a water tower.

The main drag....

Tonight it's a double date...

and no, I don't own cowboy boots.

Neither does Scott...

but we are always warmly welcomed at Louis Cairos.

It is always so good to see our friends,

Dean and Kathryn

Suspenders are always a good option in town.

After a few minutes to catch up, we are seated in the dining room at Louis Cairo's. I don't see the red and white checked table cloths anymore and they've definitely zhushed the place up a bit over the last decade or so.

Lucky us, our warm and lovely server, Rita, took wonderful care of us all evening. Rita introduced us to Shed Horn Cellars wine.The cabernet sauvignon was lush and complex. We were saddened to hear that the winemaker/owners, Michael and Adawn Wood, had just lost their home and winery in the Middletown fire. Michael reported to the SF Chronicle that he was helping save other homes without realizing his own home was burning. He said fortunately they have good insurance and will be able to rebuild. They had completed most of the harvest for the season so the wine-making will continue.

As for the fare at Louis Cairo's--fresh salads, Italian pastas and extraordinary steaks are on the extensive menu. The Louis Bread is powerful--loaded with garlic. Let's just say it's best for all (or none) to partake. We always dive in! Care for a mint?

Louis Cairo's

A hidden gem right in the middle.

See you again in a couple of months Louis Cairos!!

Have you discovered any hidden gems lately?

 

 

The Story of How We Met (+ a walk down memory lane in San Francisco)

The Story of How We Met (+ a walk down memory lane in San Francisco)

The last thing I wanted to do that breezy fall day, back in 1997, was attend an early mental health conference in South San Francisco. I was going through a difficult time in life, a drawn out divorce, and I barely had the energy to make it to work as a school psychologist, much less pull off the professional thing at a conference an hour away. I remember getting stuck in traffic and feeling like a hot mess when I finally arrived at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront in South San Francisco. I thought I could finally relax, then I learned a colleague was intent on introducing me to the chairman of the conference before the session began. UGH!!!! I protested and started to walk away, until he caught my eye. His smile, and that twinkle in his eyes, were electric. I must have lit up, too, though it had been awhile since I had felt lit up in any way.

Read More

San Diego Getaway (Mixing Work & Play!)

San Diego Getaway (Mixing Work & Play!)

The first time I visited San Diego, as a teenager, I felt like I had arrived in a tropical paradise. The waters were shimmery and foliage was lush with palm trees waving in the soft breezes. I hadn’t been to San Diego in years, so when a professional conference Scott and I were planning to attend was scheduled in town, we jumped at the chance. The Bahia Resort, the first beachfront hotel built on Mission Bay, has a mid-century modern vibe with a Mediterranean twist. Interiors have been updated over the years and, thankfully, they have left the retro exterior in the original form.

Read More

Getaway to Sonoma Valley Wine Country

In late October Scott and I stole away to Sonoma Valley wine country for the weekend. We've been keeping ultra busy with our careers, so a relaxing fall getaway was much anticipated. It's 'crush' season in wine country around this time and you can smell the rich, earthy, tangy scent in the air. Those grapes are giving their all for the cause and we appreciate them.

For this stay we choose a sentimental favorite from one of our early visits to Sonoma, Inn at Sonoma. The Inn is affiliated with our favorite Zen Suites at Gaige House in Glen Ellen. Following our three-hour drive we checked in and were reminded of the cozy charm and homey touches, like the freshly baked cookies stocked in the copper cookie jar.

A fireplace in our suite, and a glass of wine, got us immediately in the mood for relaxation. We had a late evening reservation at Harvest Moon Cafe, on the Sonoma Square, which was an easy walk from our hotel.

In seeking pure relaxation I only had my iPhone but snapped a couple of ambient shots from the heated patio. The dishes were fresh with fall harvest cuisine and the service was friendly. Harvest Moon Cafe had a local gem feel to it and we were pleased with our choice for the evening.

The next morning, following a free, hot breakfast at Inn at Sonoma, we headed out for a stroll around the square. The sun popped out after a night of heavy rain, and the vibrant colors of fall were everywhere.

We had plans to meet friends, Dean and Kathryn, so we messaged them to meet us for a light bite at El Dorado Kitchen, which I have written about in a previous post here. We especially enjoy the patio dining at this spot on a sunny day.

Sonoma Valley in crush
Sonoma Valley in crush

We watched the weather reports and ended up cancelling a garden tour my husband had booked early in the week. Instead, in a lucky roll of the dice, Scott ended up making a reservation at the Mayo Family Reserve Room in Kenwood for the 'ultimate'  seven-course food and wine pairing.

Scott's Thoughts:

"Having enjoyed previous tastings at the Mayo Family Winery tasting room in Glen Ellen, we decided it was time to check out the Mayo Reserve Room food and wine pairing in Kenwood. This was one of our first more extravagant tasting experiences, as we usually look for the high quality, low fee tasting rooms, and often share a taste.  (Sharing allows us to safely visit more wineries.)  Our experience featured a blend of service from our very friendly pouring concierge and Chef Clayton Lewis.  While we watched the rain outside, we were served seven wine tastes with seven delectable bites designed to bring out the highlights of each wine.  With each pairing, Chef Lewis came to the table to describe the flavors to watch for as we tasted wine, then food, then wine. The Roussanne with a bacon-flavored madeleine was my favorite taste—a very mild yet interesting white with a finish that completely changed with this pairing (think a hint of bacon in the finish)!  I could see it paired with morning bacon, spicy sausage gravy, or a BLT for a special brunch.  We ended with a Late Harvest Gewurtztraminer and a savory desert, the spices of which beautifully countered the sweetness of the wine.  I’ve never been a fan of the Gewurtz, but this was a completely intriguing taste!  In the end, we took several bottles home, my favorite of which is their Estate Pinot Noir, a big, full red with hints of spice and dark fruit.  The experience was amazing—friendly, educational, a journey of visual and flavor sensations.  Try it, and be inspired to step outside your usual wine routine and create your own taste pairing!"

"THE SINGLE BEST DEAL IN WINE COUNTRY... WHAT AN AWESOME EXPERIENCE" — Wall Street Journal

The food and wine pairing at Mayo was a unique culinary and viticulture experience, as well as an excellent value, at just $35.00 per person. The experience lasted 90 minutes and the staff couldn't have been warmer or more approachable. We highly recommend Mayo and you can book online on Open Table. Take a look at the website here. Let the rain fall!

What happened next, for our evening meal, was one of those memorable occasions that deserves it's own post. Suffice it to say, our evening at Olive & Vine was extraordinary and I look forward to sharing part deux of our trip in my next post.

Sunday was a 'lounging with the paper and hot mugs of steaming coffee' kind of morning. We enjoyed another filling breakfast on the patio, at Inn at Sonoma, always a nice touch. Somebody got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, again.

Williams-Sonoma-Outdoor-Living-Sonoma.jpg

We discovered that Williams-Sonoma has reopened at the original location for the brand. Chuck Williams opened the first Williams-Sonoma here in 1956. The new shop has been designed to match the original space. They have also created a 'rustic luxe' home collection and outdoor living space. For all of us home decor types, it's definitely worth a visit. It's picture perfect.

Williams-Sonoma is back in Sonoma!

I wanted just about everything...

and I think you will too.

I hope you've enjoyed this getaway to Sonoma Valley wine country.

For more on my travels to my old stomping grounds:

Getaway Napa Valley

Getaway to Wine Country in Healdsburg

Napa Valley Joie de Vivre

Wine Country Favorites

 

 

Wine Country Getaway [Napa Style!]

Wine Country Getaway [Napa Style!]

Just a week ago Northern California was experiencing temperatures 15-20 degrees above normal which is pretty perfect for a long weekend. Scott and I had a getaway planned to Napa so the timing was good.  On a sun-splashed day we got up early, threw open the sunroof and made the 2 1/2 hour trip to Napa.  As we were driving over, I had a memory of a lovely estate off Silverado Trail. It sat high on the hill, with cypress lining the drive.  The flagstone terraces flanked a perfectly placed vanishing edge pool....at least that is how I remembered it. I made it my mission to find it.....and we did!

Read More