Saturday, June 29, 2013

Body by Toddler

Josh started a new workout regimen a few weeks ago, and Ava was very intrigued. 

Despite the fact that she had just been diagnosed with the Hand, Foot, and Mouth virus that morning (ugh!), Ava was quite a tough trainer. She is available for hire if anyone is interested :). 





"Keep it up, Dad!" 




Nothing like a little Pedialyte to finish off a good workout...


Friday, June 28, 2013

Ava's One-Year Photo Shoot

Now that I am playing a little catch-up on the blog, it's time to go waaay back and finally post the photos from Ava's one-year photo shoot, which were taken by the fabulous Jesse Leos a week after her first birthday. It is crazy how much she has changed since these photos were taken!

Below are my favorites from the shoot...





























Thursday, June 27, 2013

Alice in Wonderland at the Arboretum

Now that I am finally done with all the San Fran/Napa posts, I have a lot of catching up to do...starting with some pictures from our visit to the Arboretum with some friends on Sunday, June 2. 

The Arboretum is featuring an "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" exhibit all summer, and we wanted to check it out before temperatures reached unbearable levels of hotness. Luckily, we picked one of the last cool mornings of the summer. 

We started with a wonderful potluck picnic...



The kids loved running around, and Ava was obsessed with the soccer ball (let's hope this continues...a college athletic scholarship would be very nice).
We finally made it over to the exhibit, which features "four topiary flower houses nestled in the shade of the Pecan Grove depicting the Adventures of Alice, the White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter."

We didn't stay long because it was getting close to Ava's nap time, but I did manage to take a few pictures. 





Such a fun morning!


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

San Francisco/Napa Trip | Day Four

With the first day of wine tastings under our belt, we were ready for another full day of fun (despite the fact that I was a weeee bit hungover/dehydrated). For our second day of tastings, we used Eclectic Tour, which was a great company to work with.

Just like the day before, we were picked up bright and early at 9:30 a.m.



Kuleto Estate

Our first stop of the day was Kuleto Estate, which was my favorite winery of the entire trip.



The winery is completely off the beaten path, and the drive to get there was crazy...especially due to my aforementioned hangover. But once we arrived, got a glass of wine, and started the tour, I immediately felt better.

The grounds were incredibly beautiful, and I took about a thousand pictures...















After the tour, we had a seated tasting (complete with cheese) on this beautiful patio...







The wine was incredibly good. My favorite was the 2009 Kuleto Estate Zinfandel (which was actually the cheapest of those we tried), and I plan on joining their wine club (this would make a great Christmas present...hint, hint). The good news is that Central Market is currently featuring Kuleto wines, so you could pick up a bottle there as well.

Due to the beautiful scenery, fantastic wines, and eclectic stories our guide shared about the winery and Mr. Kuleto, this was my favorite tour of the the trip. It is probably the only one that I would revisit.

Chase Family Cellars

Our next stop was a small winery called Chase Family Cellars. It is a charming, family-owned winery, which boasts Zinfandel vines that are more than 100-years old.

We started with a tasting led by Katie, who we all loved. (We also decided that Katie and Mark, our tour guide from Saturday, are most likely soul mates.)




We tried a variety of wines, and they were all really tasty. 


Not pictured is the Zinfandel chocolate sauce that we sampled as part of the wine tasting. Oh. My. Goodness. You could pour that stuff on just about anything and it would be good. You better believe we all purchased a bottle. 

In addition to the quaint setting and good wines (and chocolate sauce!), I loved that we actually got to tour the vineyard. 


After the tasting and vineyard tour, we hung out for a bit and all tried our hand at this tricky game...
Derek is the only one who succeeded. 


I love these pics of me and my girls...
Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen

Due to numerous good reviews, we chose Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen as our Sunday lunch spot. I would like to personally thank all those who provided those good reviews, because the restaurant was amazing!


And now, some food porn...

Several of us ordered this delicious tomatillo & poblano soup.


I also got the Adult Grilled Cheese special, which included gruyere, monterrey jack, jalepeno jelly, and bacon...and don't forget the polenta fries. It was ridiculous. 


And Josh's burger was just as good (our tour guide said it is his favorite burger in Napa Valley). 


Lolly ordered the beautiful tamale special.


She also enjoyed some tasty margaritas during the meal...which seemed like a good idea at the time :). 


Sarah ordered the Pasta Del Giorno, which was basically a plate of oooey, gooey deliciousness. 


And Lane loved the JT's Crispy Quail. 


So much so that he thought I should take a picture of it next to his chest hair ("but don't get the face"). 


There are no words. 

That picture and the following pretty much sum up our lunch...


I can't remember if the laughter was due to Lane's antics or Lolly's description of the moment at dinner the night before when Judy Greer dropped her knife and looked at Lolly ("And then we became lesbians for 2.5 seconds"), but it may be my favorite picture of the whole trip.

Let's just say it was a smart idea for the folks at Cindy's to seat us upstairs by ourselves.

Kelham

Our last winery of the day was Kelham Vineyards

It is another family-owned winery, and we met the mom and both her sons. While the mom was awesome and one of the sons was super laid-back, the other son was a complete D-bag. If you visit, please make sure to ask him about his love of all things skulls (belt, ring, etc.). "It's just a lifestyle choice, man."

Nevertheless, this beautiful property was a wonderful place to wind down at the end of the day.




We were seated at a super comfortable table near the back of the courtyard. 





By this point in the trip, Lane had become quite the wine expert. 
"The wine has notes of berry and strong tannins. This would pair nicely with buffalo wings."

This is about the time that Lolly's margaritas caught up with her...


But we were all very tame compared to this group of girls that jumped into the pool (which is evidently not the first time this had happened)...


Overall, it was a nice, relaxing tasting and the wine was quite good (but pricey). 

Auberge du Soleil 

After visiting Kelham, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. Some of us took naps that were way to short to do any good, and someone...ahem, Lolly...refused to get up.  

The rest of us did our best to rally, because we were headed to the fanciest dinner of our trip. 

We made reservations on Auberge du Soleil's beautiful terrace, and the view didn't disappoint. 



Before we ordered, our waiter brought out small glasses of cold leek soup (or "lake soup" as it sounded with his strong accent). 


Josh and I both selected the four-course option. I wasn't thrilled with the appetizer selections, so I went with the cheese plate instead. Because a big plate of cheese is always a good choice. 


For his appetizer, Josh chose the "Poached Maine Lobster with Mango, Snap Peas, Black Sesame, Curry, and Cilantro." 


For the second course, we both ordered the "Northern Halibut with an Onion Crust, Spring Vegetables, and Tangy Onion Sauce." 



For the third course, Josh got the "Bacon-Wrapped Veal with Wild Mushrooms, Sheep's Milk Ricotta Ravioli, Ramps, and Madeira." I went with the "Prime Beef Pave with Asparagus, Potato Croquettes, and Bearnaise." This was definitely my favorite course. 
Before the dessert course, we all enjoyed a palate-cleansing glass of some sort of fruity/bubbly concoction.


Then it was time for dessert.

I usually tend toward chocolate desserts, but this time around I ordered the "Loukoumades Greek-Style Honey Beignets with Pistachio, Sun Crest Peaches, and Yogurt Sorbet." Josh got the "Delta Blueberries with Coconut Angelfood Cake, Sweet Coconut Cream, and Lime Sherbet." Both were light and delicious.
Overall, the meal was fantastic (but Bottega's food was still my favorite) and the setting was incredible. Despite the fact that we were all exhausted, this was the perfect way to end our trip.

And what a trip it was. It doesn't get much better than spending four days with some of your best friends, in a ridiculously beautiful location, doing nothing but drinking copious amounts of wine and eating meal after meal of delicious food. It was worth every dollar and every calorie.

However, after sleeping in on Monday morning, it was time to head back to reality. Which wasn't such a bad thing, because I was missing Ava like crazy by that point, but I've been mentally planning my next trip to the Napa Valley ever since we returned.

And speaking of our next trip to Napa, there isn't much I would change. I would just stretch our winery visits over the course of three days instead of two, in order to allow for more time to relax in the afternoons before dinner. A whole week would also be quite nice. Hey...a girl can dream :).

Until then, I will just sip on these beauties and reminisce...







About Me

My name is Catherine, but most of my friends call me Cat. I was born and raised in Austin, went to TCU, and ended up in Dallas for law school (where Josh and I met). I decided that being an attorney was not my cup of tea and pursued a career in legal marketing instead. I am now a mother of two attempting to balance family with a full-time job, which is always an adventure. I love: my sweet babies, handsome husband, very large family, and fabulous friends; trying new restaurants; wine; TCU football; holidays; cooking; pajamas; La Croix; reading; coffee; podcasts; Central Market; carbs; the beach; mani/pedis; Anthropologie; binge-worthy TV shows; trivia; French 75s; Pinterest; cheese boards; The Ticket; dancing; Sprinkles cupcakes; The Texas Rangers; fresh flowers; thunderstorms; naps; Tex-Mex; the Texas Hill Country; porch-sitting; ranch dressing; throwing parties; and my job. I hate: working-mom guilt; snakes; heights; waking up early; ignorant people; stomach bugs; paper cuts; green fruit; bad hair days; snoring; the sound of people eating (Misophonia); Miracle Whip; scary movies; bad drivers; pulpy OJ; trimming baby fingernails; and working out. I think that sums it up.

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