Cali Vaca - Wine Country

Lombard Street with some beautiful view & flowers! 

Lombard Street with some beautiful view & flowers! 

This year we decided we wanted to explore a city/state that we hadn't really spent in any time in and California seemed to be the perfect fit. We could have a bit of city, country and wilderness! So we decided to fly to San Francisco, rent a car and drive to Sonoma then road trip up the coast for about 6 hours to the Redwood National Park. The whole trip was amazing and completely different from our past vacations, which only meant that we learned a few things along the way especially about Sonoma. 

I won't go into all the details about San Fran because there are hundreds of to to-do lists on the internet including our special guest Local Loves post here, but I will give you a few of my favorites. My two favorite experiences that we truly fell upon were Hayes Valley and Saru Sushi Bar. We were checking out a few different shops and slowly meandered up and down some serious hills and found the cutest neighborhood - Hayes Valley including a completely relaxed beer garden with beer from Germany, large picnic tables and cozy wool blankets for the night chill. While we were there we learned about Saru Sushi Bar in Noe Valley from some locals. We waited two hours for dinner in this tiny restaurant, but it was probably the best meal we had in San Fran and in our top 3 for the whole trip! I highly recommend the Watermelon roll, but honestly you can't go wrong. It was well worth the wait if you like sushi! 

Pangloss Cellars Tasting - absolutely incredible!

Pangloss Cellars Tasting - absolutely incredible!

Pangloss Cellars - A beautiful interior that I couldn't resist which got us in to begin with! 

Pangloss Cellars - A beautiful interior that I couldn't resist which got us in to begin with! 

When we arrived in Sonoma, we hadn't really done much research except to find an Airbnb that was relatively close to the square, other than that our plans were to casually taste wine, lie by the pool and enjoy the sunshine. Our first stop was the Sonoma square were we enjoyed breakfast, shops and eventually wine tastings. There were two places I highly recommend in the square - Pangloss Cellars and The Girl and the Fig. Pangloss is where we discovered what we liked and didn't like. We spent at least two hours there chatting with Logan about what we did and didn't like while he continued to bring glasses of wine for us to try. Not only was it a beautiful space, but we learned an incredible amount. Logan gave us multiple recommendations in the area based off what we liked. The entire experience was one of my favorites of the entire trip - it was just so personal, yet relaxed that both Tyler and I fully enjoyed ourselves. If the day couldn't get any better, we went to The Girl and the Fig for dinner where we sat at the bar and had more personalized service with both food and drink. The whole day was just perfect, and I would do it all over again! Below are a few of my First-Timer Tips and a list of the places we checked out after our Pangloss experience and what we thought! 

First-Timer Tips 

  • If you don't mind sharing, I highly recommend sharing a tasting. Your money will go farther and you will really enjoy each wine instead of trying to drink every sip. 

  • Take locals recommendations. It is how we found all our favorite spots! 

  • Don't be in a rush, although California lifestyle makes that a bit hard to do. 

  • Pack picnics and snacks and bring them along to wineries to enjoy amongst good wine and scenery. Otherwise it adds up quick! 

  • Find the type of wine you like early on and then go from there. Don't spend time in an area if you aren't a fan of the wine. 

  • Go during the week when things are a bit quieter and you can really chat with the locals.

  • Enjoy Sonoma's Farmer's Market on Tuesday night where you can enjoy a local bottle of wine, try out various food vendors and listen to live music while having a picnic.

The oldest of the wineries in the area, Buena Vista Winery, which was recommended to us for its history and architecture. The original buildings were beautiful and we had a picnic here, which I highly recommend packing yourself. We did do a historical tour here, which honestly was a bit strange and I would not recommend it. This may have been our least favorite of all the places we visited, although we did enjoy the wine and the view! 

The oldest of the wineries in the area, Buena Vista Winery, which was recommended to us for its history and architecture. The original buildings were beautiful and we had a picnic here, which I highly recommend packing yourself. We did do a historical tour here, which honestly was a bit strange and I would not recommend it. This may have been our least favorite of all the places we visited, although we did enjoy the wine and the view! 

Gloria Ferrer - A parkling wine tasting which was perfect for a morning tasting with a gorgeous view of the vineyards and mountains beyond. A great place to go for the first time, but not near as personal as some of the other places we stopped at. I think the tour here would be nice, but wasn't really feeling the tour when we were there. 

Gloria Ferrer - A parkling wine tasting which was perfect for a morning tasting with a gorgeous view of the vineyards and mountains beyond. A great place to go for the first time, but not near as personal as some of the other places we stopped at. I think the tour here would be nice, but wasn't really feeling the tour when we were there. 

Meadowcroft may have been one of my favorite places we visited in Sonoma. It wasn't a very large tasting room, but it was nestled amongst Cornerstone, a small marketplace filled with shops, wineries and restaurants. The wine was amazing, we had a tour with the owner of the local vineyards and I couldn't help but love the branding. Not only did we have a memorable, personalized experience, but we really enjoyed all the wine and at the end of the day we were woo'd to join the wine club! I can't wait for our first shipment! If you are in Sonoma, I would put this place on your list especially if you enjoy a good Pinot Noir. 

Iron Horse Winery - the view & a few of the bottles we tried! 

Iron Horse Winery - the view & a few of the bottles we tried! 

Gloria Ferrer view! AMAZING!!! 

Gloria Ferrer view! AMAZING!!! 

One of our last stops before heading north was Iron Horse Winery where we ended on a high note with some amazing sparkling wine, view and company. The vibe was rustic elegance and they pulled it off beautifully. It was a bit off the beaten path and well worth it. We didn't join the club, but we bought our favorite sparkling and enjoyed it over some delicious pizza in the Redwoods after our 10 mile hike - the perfect ending to a vacation if I do say so myself. So if you like sparkling, I highly recommend it! 

Overall, it was one amazing trip and I highly recommend taking some time to explore the west coast. The people, views and experience are some to remember for sure!

Cheers! 

-a. 

ps. We did stop at a few breweries for Tyler's sake and if you are into beer or tired of wine, I highly recommend Russian River Brewery and Laguantias (great tour!). 

Flea Find to Finished Product

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Hello Again, it has been a while, but that doesn't mean we haven't been keeping busy! Last month, Carly and I decided that we would wake up at the crack of dawn to go visit one of our favorite stomping grounds - The Burlington Flea. Neither one of us had been this season and it was time to go check it out. We both went with a relatively small list this time, and tried to control ourselves as much as possible as we were both running out of room for new pieces especially large pieces. However, that didn't stop us from buying some great pieces including this little chair number. It was the perfect piece to be added to the master bedroom. I wasn't really wanting to spend a ton of money on the chair, but I thought it might be a nice addition for when you really need a place to take your shoes off and drop your clothes somewhere after a long day!

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BEFORE 

BEFORE 

This was the chair, and although it was upholstered in a beautiful blue velvet, it wasn't going to work with the emerald green drapes that will be happening eventually, so new upholstery it was! As a side note, the lady selling the chair apologized for not redoing it herself which seemed to go along with the shabby chic look including distressed wood and painted fabric - which no one should ever do. I was beyond excited that she hadn't found the time and the beautiful wood and caning. As you can see above, I had gathered a few different fabric samples including a navy leather, a few neutrals with pattern and texture, but nothing really felt right. Then I remembered that I had stashed away a beautiful brown leather and I was lucky enough that I had juuust enough to cover the chair! 

AFTER

AFTER

 I did a bit of research online and found Homan Interiors and after reading multiple reviews thought I would give it a try. They were wonderful to work with and weren't too pricey either comparatively speaking. Not only did they upholster, but redid the seat and refinished all the wood. I dropped off the chair and the leather, and talked about options including whether it would work and the addition of decorative/functional nailheads. I left for vaca and came back to a beautiful finished chair. Check out the math below for the whole make-over!

  • Unfinished Chair - $60
  • Leather - Free (got lucky) 
  • Fabric - Did not use, but could run between $20-$30 a yard. This particular style of chair took about 2 yards. Make sure to confirm quantity of fabric before purchasing! 
  •  Labor - $200 
  • Additional Nailheads - $40
  • TOTAL - $300 

I know that sounds a bit pricey for a "used" chair, but buying a chair from Target for $300 isn't going to get you the quality, beauty or story! 

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I am personally in love with the transformation with or without the hubby's shorts tossed on top. It adds just the right amount of masculine touch to the room and is the perfect scale. So would you do it or pass for a buy out? If you find something that you can't decide whether the effort and money is worth it, just do a quick rough calculation of how much you are going to spend at the end of the day. Sometimes it is worth every penny and others it just isn't. Be smart about what gets redone! 

Happy Shopping!  

-a. 

Lake Party

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Now that it is officially summer and temperatures continue to be in the 90's, all I want to do is be surrounded by water and sunshine and there is no better place than a lake in Ohio. A lake "party" is probably the easiest, stress free parties you will ever attend or throw - it simply involves food, a few drinks and a boat with floats. If you have all the typical boat gear, it doesn't take much to pack up for a day at the lake. From a few years of experience, I have pulled together my must have's for a day filled with laughter and fun and it only includes 7 items! Check them out below, you don't want to miss the rainbow unicorn! 

Don't worry, none of the items listed are below will make or break a day at the lake, but I highly recommend them! 

  1. A day full of sunshine begs to have a playful pair of sunnies. I prefer plastic to metal on the boat, they seem to be a bit more resilient and water just rolls right off. These ones from Frameri have the classic look of tortoise mixed with a touch of salmon along those rosy cheeks. 
  2. I love a good Fedora hat in the summer, and after years in the sun and travel it was time for a replacement. I found open-weave fedora at J.Crew Mercantile on a whim and for $18.00 you can't beat it! 
  3. Sunscreen is a must weather you are fair or naturally tan, a day in the sun requires a couple applications of sunscreen. For years, I have used the Neutrogena Light Weight Cream to protect from the sun and reduce acne. I recently tried out the CVS Clear Spray and loved it. I still recommend Neutrogena for your face, but the ease and coverage of the spray was amazing! 
  4. Who can resist this amazing Rainbow Unicorn Float? It just begs to be lounged on with a refreshing drink in hand. These playful floats have become pretty big this year, and it will add just a little bit of quirky fun to any lake party! 
  5. To keep your drink cold while lounging I highly recommend these cute coozies that say exactly what you are feeling - "best day EVER!"  
  6. Some boats come with speakers, but if you typically hang out on a slightly older boat you may not be so lucky. This little mobile speaker lasts up to 10 hours on batteries, connects with bluetooth to multiple devices and is okay if it gets splashed by water a few times. It really is the perfect solution for a day on the lake. 
  7. And for when the day finally comes to an end and you feel like you can't move another muscle, these soft striped 100% Turkish beach towels are perfect to dry off with before heading home to crash.  
This may look a bit fancy, but this sangria is just as tasty in a plastic jug and a red solo cup and perfect for the sunshine and water! 

This may look a bit fancy, but this sangria is just as tasty in a plastic jug and a red solo cup and perfect for the sunshine and water! 

Watermelon is the perfect food for the water - easy to pack, eat and clean-up. If you are planning a 4th of July Celebration be sure to check out our menu from last year here! 

Watermelon is the perfect food for the water - easy to pack, eat and clean-up. If you are planning a 4th of July Celebration be sure to check out our menu from last year here

So here is to the weekend filled with lots of sunshine and hopefully a bit of lake time! Hope everyone has a good time. 

Cheers! 

-a. 

Belated Father's Day Gift

A beautiful wooden box from Artifact Uprising to keep all the special notes and trinkets dad's collect. The perfect gift for a new dad for sure!  

A beautiful wooden box from Artifact Uprising to keep all the special notes and trinkets dad's collect. The perfect gift for a new dad for sure!  

I can't believe we are almost half way through June, and although we may have been a bit MIA these past few months, we haven't forgotten about celebrating all the dads out there! This coming weekend is Father's Day, and just in case you procrastinated a bit, we have the perfect gifts for you. I can't count the times my dad has supported me, saved the day or given a piece of advice, life wouldn't be the same without all those dad's and fatherly figures so it only seems right to give a small token of appreciation. I think shopping for men may be the hardest thing to do, so here is a small collection of items that would probably make any dad happy! 

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  1. The Lo & Sons women's weekender bag is one of my favorite's for long weekend get aways. This men's version would be perfect for a dad who loves to come visit or is all about weekend adventures! It even has a place to keep all those "dirty" shoes. 
  2. The trend of less is more is still the rage, this simple, sleek card case is great for carrying just the essentials. No more complaints about too thick of a wallet with this beauty! 
  3. It is true what they say, Yeti containers really do keep your drink as warm or cold as you want. This stainless steel Yeti Rambler is perfect for the dad who is a bit rough on things and needs a cool drink after some serious hard labor. 
  4. If your dad is always on the water, I highly recommend getting him a rash guard that protects him from the sun, because we all know men are terrible about putting on sunscreen. This one from J.Crew is fashionable, comfortable and has UPF 50!
  5. These Bose headphones are a bit pricier than the ones that come from your iPhone, but are sweat and weather-resistant. For the dad who is all about jamming out while working out, you can't go wrong! 
  6. A heavy-duty canvas travel kit is perfect for a dad who travels for business or pleasure frequently. With the beautiful leather details and canvas, this travel kit takes luggage to the next level. 
  7. For all those dad's that pour their blood, sweat and tears into all that they do, here is the perfect ironman soap from Rainwater Farms. He will be extra fresh and ready for the next challenge that comes his way. 
  8. If you dad loves to cook and is often found with a grill set and beer in his hand, this new book, Food & Beer, recommends various combinations of food and beer together. 
  9. This may be one of the pricier items on the list, but if your dad likes to explore whiskey and scotch, Casker's has a great whiskey club that you can sign him up for. It is similar to the wine clubs, but sends a variety of whiskey to his front porch! 
  10. And sometimes the most meaningful gift is the simplest with a hand-written note. Every dad always loves to hear how important they are to you, so take a few minutes if nothing else and write a thank you note. If you need one, check out Rifle Paper Co. here

Hope these gifts find themselves in well deserving hands! 

Happy Father's Day! 

-a & c 

KY Bourbon Trail

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Last spring while visiting Louisville for the Derby Half Marathon, a few of us visited the Bulleit Distillery as a bit of a celebration of all our hard-work. We didn't spend but a few hours on the tour, but the experience was so interesting and fun that when a few good friends asked us to join them for a day in Lexington on the Bourbon Tour, Tyler and I agreed almost immediately. We had decided that we wanted to take Memorial Weekend/Anniversary Weekend easy with no major plans except to spend it with friends and family, so we were completely on board with visiting a semi-new city. The idea was to try out three different distilleries - Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey and Four Roses, and to really enjoy the beautiful rolling hills, we would bike between Wild Turkey and Four Roses and back again. In theory, the plan was perfect - visit Woodford Reserve (the fancier distillery), drive to Wild Turkey, bike to Four Roses and do a tour, then return back to Wild Turkey for a final tour. This didn't go exactly as planned, but we had an amazing time. However, I thought it was worth sharing our day trip with those who may be interested in something similar! 

Barrels full of Woodford Reserve Bourbon. 

Barrels full of Woodford Reserve Bourbon. 

The modern and unique Wild Turkey welcome center. One of my personal favorites in design and style. 

The modern and unique Wild Turkey welcome center. One of my personal favorites in design and style. 

On the Left: Initial Route, On the Right: Return Route 

On the Left: Initial Route, On the Right: Return Route 

Although beautiful, the first route to Four Roses was FULL of rolling hills and old homes, the bike ride was a bit longer and hillier than any of us thought. The route above on the left was a more direct route, but was on narrow hilly roads that took us about an hour to bike. The route on the right, although a few more turns and interstates, included an edge for biking, a bit more gradual hills and only took us about 40-45 minutes. The return route was not near as pretty, but we were wanting an easier route that got us back sooner rather than later. Overall the biking was a lot of fun, minus we didn't get tours at either Four Roses or Wild Turkey as we took to long to get to both places, but it was a great way to see a little bit of Kentucky! 

A little bit of our Woodford Reserve tasting... 

A little bit of our Woodford Reserve tasting... 

Don't worry though, we did thoroughly enjoy the Woodford Reserve bourbon tasting with a pairing of a sweet bourbon ball. All in all, it was a beautiful day spent with friends eating, drinking, biking and simply enjoying the sunshine and one another's company. Although the biking took longer than expected, I would highly recommend biking some portion of the trail, just remember to pack water and allow more time than you would think! If you want to know more about your options for visiting the distilleries check it out here! I would highly recommend for a day/weekend get away as a girl's trip or any other celebration you may have! 

Cheers. 

-a. 

S'More Bar

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It may not feel like spring or summer, but I am determined to enjoy the good weather when possible and a bonfire is the perfect way to enjoy the cool night temps. A blazing bonfire, long-time friends and good conversation may be the best way to spend a spring/summer night especially if you have s'mores. I am happy to eat any traditional s'more, it may rank at the top five of my favorite foods, but that doesn't mean you can't mix it up and create a s'more bar for an evening around the fire. This past weekend we had a few friends over for dinner and a fire, and it was the perfect opportunity to create a s'more bar. I bought a variety of chocolate candy, local handmade marshmallows and set it all out for everyone to enjoy! It might have been the easiest dessert I have ever fixed for a group of people. Check out all the necessities below to recreate for a night with friends!  

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S'More Bar Essentials

  • Marshmallows - Typical store bought marshmallows work great, I wanted something a little special, so I purchased hand made ones from Hello Honey in downtown Cincinnati. I love getting their torched marshmallow on ice cream, so I figured I couldn't go wrong for s'mores. 

  • Graham Crackers - Used the tried and true Honey Maid

  • Sticks - Make sure they are long enough! These ones above were a bit short... 

  • Chocolate Bars - I used the traditional Hershey bars

  •  Caramel & Nutella  Spreads - These were delicious, but not the cleanest option! 

  • Reese's Cups - If you love peanut butter, I highly recommend. 

  • Caramel Ghirardelli Chocolate - I might have gone a little over board with the caramel, but these were AMAZING! Highly recommend. 

  • Candy Bars - Nestle Crunch, Butterfinger and Hershey's with Almonds are all great options to add to the bar. I wanted to keep it relatively simple, but if you have another candy preference, I say go for it! 

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The s'more bar worked out great, and it gave everyone an opportunity to mix-it up a bit. I do recommend making it easy to access all the ingredients and that it all be done outside, the caramel was a bit messy. I didn't get a photo of a completed s'more - 1. because it was too dark , and 2. they were eaten up pretty quickly, but trust me when I say they were delicious. It was the perfect way to spend a cool evening and to begin the summer! Would you be up for a non-traditional s'more? 

Cheers! 

-a. 

Candle Lab

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I recently had the opportunity to visit The Candle Lab and experiment and play with various scents, eventually creating my very own candle to take home. I went with a group of ladies from work and had a wonderful time smelling over 120 different fragrances. It was interesting to see what everyone came up with and how different each person's preferences were. I often lean towards a musky fragrance with a touch of rose petal, while others prefer more of a fruity, fresh aroma. The process from beginning to end was much more involved than I anticipated, however that may have to do with the fact that narrowing down 120 fragrances to 3 took a lot out of my nose! As you can see below, we smelled a variety of simple scents, then began smelling different oil combinations together, and eventually concocting an oil with a combination of your selected three scents in the appropriate proportions. Once you got through that process - and let me tell you, it took me forever - you pour the oil into the wax and let the candle set for about an hour or so while you enjoy a beverage or two down the street. 

Afterwards, I started thinking how perfect the experience could be for a small intimate party such as a bridal shower, baby shower, bachelorette, well really for anything that might be cause for a celebration! It lets everyone create something and interact with one another in a more playful atmosphere, and then while you wait for it to set, you can enjoy one another's company over drinks, appetizers and gifts. 

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This may be a bit more pricey way of going for a shower, but it doesn't involve a perfectly clean house, decor or any food prep. So if you want to be out on the town and have little prep this would be a great solution! The Candle Lab isn't the only option either. There are so many great ideas out there that allow a bit of creativity while you also enjoy one another's company. Here are just a few listed below that would be great to do in Cincinnati and involve a new skill, creativity and lots of laughter and fun! Of course, I have just listed a few that I have been involved in before, but there are plenty out there. 

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I have to admit I was a bit nervous about loving my scent, it was so tricky, but I am happy to say that I am happy with the final product! I was going for a fresh & sexy vibe for the bedroom, and I accomplished my goal. I highly recommend trying out the Candle Lab or something similar for a girl's night out or an intimate celebration! 

What's your go to fragrance? 

-a.