A Bittersweet Season and a Cure for the Holiday Blues

A Bittersweet Season and a Cure for the Holiday Blues

With all the hustle and bustle, merrymaking and cheer, I can't help but remember that this season can be a bittersweet time for many of us.  As time marches on, most of us experience loss, heartbreak and bittersweet moments, all made more pronounced by the 'Joy to the World' surrounding us during the holidays.  There are loved ones we have lost through death or distance- lost loves, lost lives, lost homes, lost pets; and the broken hearts and dashed hopes of living life.

I know, it's not exactly cheery, but it is a very real part of life.

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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.


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.


A room with a view at Clos Pegase.


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.


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

and an upgrade to an executive suite.


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


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.


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


Next we were up for some natural beauty.

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


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


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!


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.




Rose' sunset over wine country.


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


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.


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.


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.

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Behind the Glass: An Afternoon with Artist & Entrepreneur Courtney Gray of grayc glass

An Afternoon with Artist & Entrepreneur Courtney Gray

To say that I had a good time spending an afternoon in the studio with Courtney Gray--the artist and entrepreneur behind gracyc glass--would be an understatement. Courtney is warm, effervescent, smart and talented. Did I mention she is hysterical? I felt like I had known her for years within minutes of meeting her. Courtney showed me around her home studio; being based at home is her practical solution for staying in touch with family life, while still having the opportunity for late-hour artistic inspirations.  Courtney is based in Chico, Northern California, and has garnered quite a following in the community and beyond.

Courtney is a fused-glass artist who uses a kiln to fuse the glass, which is later shaped over a mold. Her creations range from her initial breakout with themed night lights, to ring holders, custom wall sconces and jewelry--rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. Her favorite shades of glass are inspired by the sea. Courtney collects vintage elements--beads and chains--to create unique, one-of-a-kind pieces.

Inspiration boards always fascinate me; they tell a unique, visual story about the creator. Courtney has a few of her favorite inspirations tacked up above her work station. I spotted ornate architectural elements, luxurious textures, global glamor, surfer chic, a cozy sweater with a ponytail, a quote about hard work and perseverance...and cookies. This inspiration board feels spot on for Courtney and her eclectic mix of styles.

The wall sconces are Courtney's favorite pieces to design.  They are spectacular!  I'm just sure we will be seeing her custom fused-glass lighting fixtures in Architectural Digest magazine some day. #dreamscometrue


*What inspires you to be creative?

I work really hard at being creative. I am more of a business mind than an artist mind, so for me, creativity is part of my job. I make time for it and work hard on it. These days there is so much more inspiration out there in terms of finding design and pattern inspiration (thanks to the internet and Pinterest, etc.) I am constantly collecting ideas that inspire my work. I find inspiration in textiles and ceramics and clothing. I try to keep up with seasonal trends and colors, but in the end, I make what I love and it usually works out for me.

*How did you get started with your form of art?

I took a glass fusing class when I was at UC Davis, just for fun. The nightlights are what really made my business take off.

*How did it feel to take the plunge and do what you love full-time?

Well, I am lucky in that my husband is our main provider, so I never had to leave a great paying job to try and make grayc glass happen. I gradually built it year after year, and then, when all of my boys were in school full-time, I decided to see if I could make some “real money” (relative term!) at it. I am happy that I am doing better than I ever thought I could with this business.

*How do you balance creativity/artistry with the entrepreneurial side of your business?

I love the entrepreneurial side just as much as the art side of my business. I feel so lucky to be able to be home with my kids, do what I love, and grow a business that brings in money for my family. I think I am doing what so many women would do if they could. Also, It is easy for me because there is a bottom line: in order for me to continue to do what I love, I have to make money.

*How do you keep your inspiration going?

I make time to research trend and color forecasting…constantly brainstorming things that “speak” to me.

*What is your best advice for someone who is just starting out?

If someone is starting out with the purpose of making money, my advice would be to know the financials of your business. And price your work appropriately. Sometimes women seem to under price themselves--maybe we are just so "damn happy" people are buying what we are making--but if we don’t price it so we can make money, we can’t afford to make it anymore.

*If you could see a celebrity/historical figure wearing your jewelry who would it be (and which piece)?

Oprah! I have always loved her and have sent my rings to the company a few times. I have not made it into the magazine yet, but they did call me back and said they really liked them. I think it is time I send some more ring samples again!

Thank you, Courtney!

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a party at Courtney's home, where her latest fused glass creations were on display. Her fans were oohing and ahhing over every piece of fused glass eye-candy.

Friends and family joined in for some tasty bites, lovely wines and some shopping. It was so much fun catching up with old friends and making some new ones.

Courtney's pieces make beautiful and unique gifts.

Courtney with her mom, twin sister and niece-true beauties!

My collection of grayc glass is growing! I was gifted the beautiful necklace by Courtney. I purchased the sea glass nightlight and fused glass ring for myself. The wine charms and ring dish were gifts from dear friends.

See Courtney Gray on the KCRA morning show.

Courtney is generously offering readers of Stylemindchic Life a 10% discount on purchases from grayc glass. Jewelry ships FREE which is a great bonus! Use coupon code


at checkout.

grayc glass

Follow grayc glass on Facebook

I received a necklace from Courtney Gray and all opinions of grayc glass are my own.

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?



Lifestyle Linkup 6 #Stylefocus

Happy October and welcome to the 6th installation of our Lifestyle Linkup #stylefocus!!

fall inspiration
fall inspiration

I'm finding lifestyle inspiration from the beauty of an autumn sunset from our deck, the french inspired courtyard at my mother's house, sunny gerber daisys and my sister, Heidi's, rustic pumpkins.

An InLinkz Link-up

Thank you for joining Jennifer of A Well Styled Life and myself for the linkup this month. Check back and watch the collection grow over the weekend. Add your instagram links as well as blog links and use the #stylefocus.

Looking forward to catching up with your beautiful blogs over the weekend!

Date Night: 15th Wedding Anniversary and a Sparkling Surprise!

Date Night: 15th Wedding Anniversary and a Sparkling Surprise!

Our 15th wedding anniversary started as a typical day around the house. A quick kiss for luck and we were off to work. Scott and I had celebrated our 15th a bit early with a swanky summer vacation to Riviera Maya, so we wanted to keep the actual day of our anniversary, September 10th, more low key.

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Creating a "Sunny Escape" for House Guests

Creating a "Sunny Escape" for House Guests

Scott and I had the pleasure of hosting house guests for the long weekend. It was late summer and the weather was picture perfect for poolside lounging and some outdoor fun in Chico. My sister, Dorie, and her guy Michael, were up from Newport Beach for the weekend and I wanted to create a “sunny escape” for my special house guests. My first step is to prepare the guest roomFreshly washed linens, fluffy towels, candles and fresh flowers are a must. For this visit I added some lovely dark calla lilies to the mirrored bedside table.

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Cooking Class: Ceviche from Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita and a Surprise Meet Up!

Are you in the mood for something fresh, healthy and easy to make? Scott and I learned to make one of our favorite go-to summer dishes on our recent trip to Riviera Maya. We took a cooking class with chef Nicholas at Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita. At the last second, I flipped on the video camera on my phone to capture the experience. I'll also share the recipe at the bottom of the post.

All the ingredients were carefully chopped and prepared by Chef Nicolas. The friendly staff, including Fermin, started the class by serving chilled white wine. Pour yourself a glass of chilled sauvignon blanc, sit back and join me for a few moments at the cooking class as we make ceviche for the first time.

Here's Scott diving in!

It's fun to serve just about anything in a martini glass!


These are more of the fun folks we met at Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita. Rosemary and Rolando, in straw hats, were great. We also ended up in a sweat lodge with them at the spa -- but that's a whole different story. With Facebook these days it is so easy to stay friends with people we meet while traveling. That is a huge plus for social media in my book.

In the background of this shot, I'm introducing myself to the famed Mexican architect Carlos Gosselin, who designed Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita. He lives part time at Zoetry, and a number of guests, including my husband, had seen him during our stay. I woke up on this morning and announced to Scott, "I'm going to meet the architect today". I wanted to tell him how impressed I am with this magnificent resort. As I shot the video of the cooking class, I turned my video around to get a glimpse of the resort (about 6 minutes in) and he was the shadowy figure walking just a couple of feet behind me. It was a fun moment and such a surprise! As soon as the class was over I raced over to meet him and he was just as elegant and charming as I expected.

Zoetry grouper ceviche


1 kg diced fresh grouper or mild white fish

8 lemons (the juice)

1 red onion in julianne

1 chopped mango

½ chopped papaya

1 chopped cucumber





Dried oregano

Olive oil

Tortilla chips


Place grouper, lemon juice, oregano, salt and olive oil in a bowl and let it rest for at least 15·20 min

Add the rest of ingredients

Serve with tortilla chips

Scott recreated this dish at home with fresh ingredients from the farmer's market in Chico. We devoured it so quickly that I didn't get any shots of his finished product. Ceviche is also delicious served with guacamole.

For more on our trip to Riviera Maya:

Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita

Secrets Silversands

A Sunny Escape to Tulum and Akumal

Date Night: A Sunset Sail

Discounts to Zoetry Resorts

Have you ever made ceviche?