Monday, September 1, 2014

July & August Highlights

I thought I should share some photos of what I've been up to during July & August since the blog has been so quiet.  Be prepared for a photo overload!

The photo above is a collage of mine and David's wonderful meal at The Fig Cafe in Glen Ellen. After David received his offer letter for his new job, we figured you only live once and we better celebrate. We had such a good dinner together! We rarely go out just the two of us so it was nice to enjoy each others company, eat delicious food, and of course order a wine flight. In that wine flight we discovered one of our favorite reds, Cline Ancient Vines Mourvedré. Highly recommend that wine!

Fourth of July weekend we went up to Truckee and stayed at my parents cabin. Jason & his girlfriend, Jenna met us up there. We spent one afternoon drinking beers, eating sandwiches, and enjoying the amazing view of this waterfall. The water was freezing but it was a hot day and felt great to jump in.

That 4th was the weekend of dogs! We were watching our friends Max & Maren's puppy, Chloe. Four dogs in a cabin was quite crazy but they all had such a blast. This river experience was quite hectic for my mom and I. We tried driving down to the river in my dad's truck and we blew a tire! My mom and I walked four dogs down to the river to play while my dad and David put on the spare. What an ordeal!

Every Thursday night in July, St. Francis Winery hosts a free movie night. It's pretty dang awesome. You can bring your own food, blankets, chairs, and set up a picnic with friends. You're supposed to buy a glass or bottle of their wine. We bought a bottle of their Gewurtztraminer and it was very tasty. We went for the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's but had to leave before it finished, since I have work early the next morning. We had a blast and are looking forward to going again next July.

Kathy & David
We celebrated my Aunt's birthday at my parents house the day before our anniversary. We had a great time, but I somehow managed to get sick which ended up ruining our 1 year anniversary. We had reservations to go to El Dorado Kitchen in Sonoma and sadly, I had to make David cancel the reservation. It was bad...but it is definitely a day we'll always remember since pretty much everything that could go wrong on a anniversary happened.

One Friday night 3 of my high school friends came over and we some how managed to drink 4 bottles of wine between us and David. It was so fun catching up with all the girls together. Ali lives in Santa Cruz and Kelly lives in Reno so we barely ever are all able to get together in a group.

The next day I went to my friend Maren's bachelorette party. Debby and I brought food and drinks and decorated her house and played games before we drove over to San Francisco for a night spent at AsiaSF. We feasted, drank pretty drinks, watched the show, and danced the night away. Our feet were killing us by the end of the night. It was a success!

I took a Monday off back in July because my German friend, Jasmin had a layover in San Francisco. David joined us and we had a great day. We had Mexican food for lunch, walked around shops, went to our new favorite bar, South Side Spirits, where David had the best Old Fashioned of his life. We then met up our friend Ali for dinner at Hops and Hominy.

Kathy, Mom, Aunt Shellie, & Me. 
The next weekend David & I joined my mom, my Aunt Shellie, my Nanny, my Great Aunt Betty, and my mom's cousin Kathy at Cline Cellars. We had an awesome picnic on a beautiful day. Lots of great wine and delicious appetizers.

August brought on two weddings. The first weekend in August David and I drove down to Monterey to be in our friend Max & Maren's wedding. We lunched in Carmel, we had a rehearsal dinner, and a Sunday wedding. It's always nice to be there to support your friends when they tie the knot. Something about showing your support for other peoples love is special. I know Max & Maren are meant for each other. We had to drive back home Sunday night because David started his new job in SF the next morning! Talk about a crazy weekend.

The weekend after Max & Maren's wedding my longtime friend, Michelle asked me to be her bridesmaid for her wedding next August. I'm super excited to be apart of her special day. It should also be a lot of fun because my friend Ali is also in the wedding. 

I know, weddings, weddings, weddings! The second weekend in August David and I drove to San Luis Obispo to watch his college friend, Eric tie the knot with Malia. It was such cute ceremony that involved their very large Alaskan malamute/Rottweiler and their tiny dog to be the ring bearers. They wrote their own vows and made me tear up. Malia's maid of honor had an amazing speech that also made me cry! On the way down, we stopped at Firestone Walker Brewery and had lunch. It was a long weekend of driving, but like I mentioned it's awesome witnessing your friends get married. 

August 11th was my brother's birthday. My friend Jasmin was in SF once again. Since David works in SF now, he was able to pick her up from her hotel and drive her back to Santa Rosa. My parents, David, Jasmin, Jason, & Jenna all went out to dinner at the Glen Ellen Inn to celebrate. We had great wine, and of course, amazing food. I love the Glen Ellen Inn. 

The next weekend David and I stayed home and were able to finally take care of tons of home projects. We made this awesome wine bottle vase for him to bring to work. It felt so good to make some progress at home. It'd been way too long since we worked on house projects. 

My friend Michelle and I hiked to Lake Illsanjo in Anadel and it ended up being a 10 mile hike/walk. Once we finally made it back to her house I had to call David to pick me up. I could not fathom walking another half mile home. 

The second to last weekend in August my friend Debby, Laura, and I went wine tasting on the Sonoma square. We hit up Bryter (I bought their rose), then off to Two Amigos (Picked up their cab), and then we had an awesome picnic. Debby always brings the best cheeses and crackers. After lunch we went to Roche (didn't like any of their wines), and Sigh, a champagne bar! For dinner we went to Cafe Citi in Kenwood, and then headed home. It was such a fun girls day and it definitely awakened my love for wine tasting.

Of course there was the earthquake in August. That morning we went on a hike to Taylor Mountain, which is about a 5 mile hike to the top and back down. We're trying to be much more active on the weekends now that we're both working in an office full time again. It's nice to hear David push to go on hikes again.

And for the last weekend in August, David and I spent lots of time up at my parents house while they were in Truckee. Friday night we enjoyed Thumbprint's rose and Cline's Mourvedre out in their backyard. The weather wasn't the best but it was so relaxing.

Saturday night Max & Maren met us up at my parents house for a taco bar dinner and to let Ryder & Donner play. They play so well together and are perfectly matched. I think Donner is definitely Ryder's favorite friend.

August ended with an intense hike. Sunday morning my brother had posted a photo of him and Jenna up at Gunsight Rock. Since I've hiked to the summit of Hood Mountain numerous times, David and I decided to just do it and go past the summit to Gunsight. We left our truck at 5 pm. Everytrail app says it should take 3 hours round trip. Our official time was 2 hours and 8 minutes. We were literally running up the mountain at times and we ran down more than a mile. We had the threat of our truck being locked in the parking lot since it closes at sunset. We made it! The view was incredible! We literally felt like we were on top of the world and one of the best parts was that we didn't run into one single person.

We're starting September off on the right foot with wine tasting in Healdsburg with my brother and Jenna today. I'm so excited! I hope you have a great Labor Day!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Brew Review: Baxter Brewing Co. Stowaway IPA

Beer: Baxter Brewing Co. Stowaway IPA
Date: 8-15-14
Location: Millinocket, ME
Type: IPA
Alcohol: 6.9%
IBU: 69

Appearance: Copper orange, hazy, good head retention

Aroma: Strong hops with an abundant smell of malt which smells like a wonderful melody between bitterness and sweetness

Body & Texture: Bite on the tongue, extremely hoppy upfront, smooth finish

Aftertaste: Pretty dang bitter in the beginning but the overall aftertaste is a little too sweet.

"Bold, complex flavors with a solid malt backbone and assertive hop profile, along with cold conditioning give this beer its crisp, clean finish" - Baxter Brewing

Overall Impression:
I really liked the color of this beer, the head retention, and the aroma. Of course, I always enjoy canned beers because it makes it so convenient to bring the beer places while being active. Unfortunately, I wasn't a huge fan of this IPA. It tasted more characteristically like a double IPA to me. Even at 69 IBU it tastes much more bitter and it has a pretty sweet aftertaste that I usually associate with doubles. If I had to pick Baxter Brewing's Xtra Pale Ale Paloma or this Stowaway IPA I would choose the Paloma. I wouldn't buy this IPA for myself if it were available here in CA, but I am very thankful that Janine sent it to me since I love trying beers from all over. It's fun to compare IPA's from California to across the country.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Smokey Artichoke Hummus

I have quite the collection of hummus recipes on this blog of mine. It used to be because it was a healthy snack for David to bring to school. Now I'm back to making more hummus recipes for him to have a quick and healthy snack at work. Bless his heart for loving hummus and broccoli so much. I can honestly say that while I enjoy trying out new hummus recipes, David is the sole eater of these creations.

Cast of Characters

I feel like I should document my morning and the earthquake as it's something I'll probably want to remember. David and I were sleeping (obviously! Who is up at 3:20 a.m.?) and I woke up to the loudest rumbling sound. My heart was pounding out of my chest and I scooted right up next to David and grabbed his arm. He woke up completely freaked out and asked where he was! He said he was having a dream that he was at work and they were in the middle of an earthquake. Anyway, I guess I really freaked him out, but I'm sure he would have woke up on his own. I just jolted him awake. haha. We were laying in bed, hearts pounding, just waiting for it to be over. Ryder walked out of his room, into the living room, and back to his bed. He didn't even check on us. When it finally ended (not that it was really long, but it always feels longer) we laid in bed with our adrenalin pumping and could barely fall back asleep. As I was laying there in those seconds after it finished all I could hear was my neighbors wind chimes clanking back and forth, then it went silent, and I could hear the crickets again. I tried falling back asleep but I was sweating and scared and waiting for aftershocks. About 10 minutes later I heard a lone duck quacking. I felt bad for it. Luckily we felt no after shocks. 

When I woke up 4 hours later I saw I had a text from Debby. I felt so bad for her. I knew she was all alone in her house and must have been terrified, and here she was texting me to make sure we were okay. What a sweet friend! She has family in Napa that had lots of damage to their properties. Other than that, I've been stalking the news and social media today keeping an eye on the damage.

Earthquakes are scary. I've definitely been in my fair share of them, but this one was the biggest I can remember. I was only 2 in 1989 so I don't remember the big one. I guess for now (and hopefully forever!) this will be the biggest one I remember. The rumbling sound is what stays with me. Think sort of like thunder but it doesn't stop for what seems like forever. The house is swaying and you're just praying that it'll stop soon! Luckily, most earthquakes we've had are usually pretty small and are over so quickly. I don't think anyone ever gets used to them -- super eerie.

On a happier note, this hummus is easy, and delicious. I love the addition of artichoke hearts and it's even inspired me to create another artichoke bean dip that I'll most likely share next week. Geez, my blog is sure turning into an appetizer and snacks recipe blog lately.

Smokey Artichoke Hummus
Recipe from Heather Christo

1 large or 2 small garlic cloves
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil

In the bowl of a food processor; pulse the garlic until chopped. Add in chickpeas, artichoke hearts, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, smoked paprika, salt and turn the processor on. Stream in up to 1/3 cup olive oil until it all comes together and is smooth. Remove from food processor and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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