Our getaway to Barcelona was the last stop on our three-week vacation to Portugal and Spain. This was our second time visiting Barcelona, and though our time was short, Scott and I were looking forward to getting better acquainted with this culturally vibrant, sexy city.Read More
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.
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.
"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.
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.
My radiant Mom, Jeri, on her wedding day, with my beautiful sister, Heidi, and me last September.
There is nothing that makes a daughter happier than knowing her mother is enjoying life and love to the fullest. My mom, Jeri, and my new Step-father, Hal, have enjoyed an uncommonly rich romance, a heartfelt and memorable wedding celebration, and a European honeymoon in the last two years. It's safe to say, this daughter is extremely happy for these two, especially as they celebrate their first wedding anniversary.
This is the wedding video....it will make you cry happy tears!
Video credit to Jensen Films
For a peek at the wedding last year in A love story and a wedding,
the lucky in love story of how these two met in Love is just mean to be, and wedding planning in
Happy Anniversary Mom and Hal!
We are blessed by welcoming this warm, wise, loving man, Hal, and his family, into our family.
Your love story is truly an inspiration for ageless love.
Scott and I could not be happier for you both and we love you dearly.
We're savoring the golden days of summer at my here!
New arrivals from Spain and Portugal!
In direct contrast to the colorful alleys and sun drenched landscapes of southern Spain is the green, Tyrolean flavor of Basque Country of Northern Spain. Scott and I arrived in Bilbao by plane from Sevilla, and were amazed at the verdant green of the hills. We rented a car and headed to San Sebastian, by the sea. I vacillated on whether to select a hotel more on the outskirts of town, or beach side, on the promenade. In the end we were delighted with our choice of the Hotel Niza, and it’s perfect location, right above the promenade, La Concha Beach and the sea.Read More
We were enjoying lunch at the café outside our hotel, beside the promenade in San Sebastián, Spain, when the European chic styles strolling by caught my eye. I grabbed my camera and snapped away with the beauty of this seaside scene as the backdrop. I want to thank this couple for walking by at this exact moment, looking as though they stepped out of a French film noir. I noted the flowing maxi dress embellished with lace. Simply chic, whether in Europe or anywhere this season, maxis and lace are on-trend.Read More
In Seville we caught a taxi, and experienced an ultra wild ride, through the extremely narrow streets of the city center. I'm sure we could have reached out and touched the buildings on either side if we had only dared open the windows.
From the moment we entered the Fontecruz Sevilla we knew we had made the perfect choice with this sleek, modern hotel in the midst of Bario Santa Cruz. It's located within a couple of winding blocks to cafe-lined streets, the Sevilla Cathedral, the Alcazar, the Plaza de Espana, and the river front. From this 'wagon wheel' of a city center we could pick a direction, head down a tiny street to explore, and it would take us to a new hidden gem.
Along with the excellent location, I liked the vibe of the Fontecruz Sevilla. Our suite was sleek, well-appointed and spacious. The common spaces, were luxurious and comfortable. There is even an outdoor pool for a dip on hot summer days.
When I was making reservations for the trip the photos of this hotel had me at "roof-top terrace overlooking the city". The Fontecruz Sevilla is the perfect perch for capturing a brilliant sunset from the rooftop lounge.
We walked by this friendly fellow (with cap (center) who encouraged us to see the city, escorted by himself and his steed, in this colorful carriage. We politely declined, but a minute later changed our minds. Why not? We found the carriage to be a charming way to see the sights in Sevilla. We recommend a carriage ride in the mid-to-late morning, during the summer months, before the heat sets in.
I captured a moment during our carriage ride on this video:
The Seville Cathedral, also called 'Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See', is the third largest church in the world and adorns the ancient city center of Seville like an ornate stone wedding cake. We viewed the burial site of Christopher Columbus and the scope of that slice of history is awe-inspiring. This gothic cathedral is definitely worth a visit and we appreciated it's ability to transport us to another place in time, even for just an hour, on a sunny Spanish afternoon.
One a completely different cultural note, one of our favorite aspects of travel is meeting fellow travelers and locals along our path. Just across the cobbled street from our hotel we spotted 'Abbatia', an authentic tapas restaurant. We thought it would be an excellent first stop for our evening out. Little did we know that the warm, friendly owners, Pedro and Blanco, and their chef Andres, would capture our hearts. Our evening started with tasty tapas, lovely wines and lively conversation. We eventually made our way out on the town to discover more of Sevilla. As we ventured back to our hotel, late at night, our new friends waved us back in for a nightcap, an after-hours flamenco show/dance lesson and the hilarity ensued. We certainly felt the 3:30 am bedtime the next morning, but our adventure was more than worth it! In travel there are those memorable times, when a language barrier simply does not exist, and this was one of them. Thank you to our new friends in Sevilla!
A few more views of Sevilla (the street view taken from our tiny balcony).
We fell in love with the charms of Sevilla. Scott and I agreed that three days was not enough and next time we will plan to stay longer. Our plane reservation was already scheduled so we reluctantly boarded the plane to Bilbao, Spain. Join me on the next leg of our 'Summer Travel to Portugal and Spain' series for a glimpse of the sparkling seaside city of San Sebastián.
Our summer travel to Portugal and Spain had been in the works for over a year, so when we touched down in Lisbon, after 30 hours of travel, Scott and I were beyond excited. Portugal has always been on our bucket list. We were enamored with visions of colorful tile roofs, pastel buildings, old school trams, and vibrant bougainvillea brightening the neighborhoods, all enhanced by city and sea views.Read More
Happy 'Motherhood' Day to all! If you have birthed a baby, adopted a baby, fallen in love and became an 'insta' stepparent, been a nurturing auntie, or stepped in as a grandparent to care for your grandchild, you are part of the motherhood in my book. Motherhood can encompass all kinds of nurturing and care. I see it everyday as a school psychologist. I am surrounded by an army of nurturing, caring teachers, clinicians, nurses, administrators and staff.Read More