Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday Link up - kjweighingin NSV!

OK, this is big people.  I am breaking up with one of my best friends.  For awhile....not forever.  It's just a sweet farewell for the month of March.  It's not just Far Niente - it just so happens to be delicious and one of my favorites (plus its a pretty bottle)!  I have a previously scheduled a wine tasting this evening - I will consider it an informal breakup party.

I am just calling this a NSV as I am quite certain this little devil is working hard against the progress I have made this year and it likely the reason I am not seeing the results I want.  Yes, I am sad.  My evening relaxation routine will be impacted.  Writing this makes me seem like a total boozer!  But - hey, it is what it is.  Shoot me - I like love my wine!  But - I want to see results more.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I am WAY late this year planning our summer vacation (I typically schedule it during the holiday break)...finances being what they are, I waited until I knew what the tax situation was going to look like so I could better plan for it.

Good News is - It's Booked!  Allure of the Seas, here we come!!

I planned on preparing a Cruise Guide since I get asked ALL THE TIME for help with cruise planning.  I would LOVE to work part time for a travel agency at some point since I love to plans trips - doesnt feel like work at all!

Here are some of my top tips!

 - Cruise Selection - I think one of the most important things is matching the cruiseline, ship and itinerary to you and your needs.  Each cruiseline has a personality all it's own and they can be VERY different.  My first cruise I took on Norweigian and knew nothing about cruising.  I have learned from many mistakes (more about that below).  We shifted years ago to Royal Caribbean since they are more family oriented and have a tremendous kid program.  All these years later, my son would be offended if we went on a cruise without him and it is always one of the highlights of our year!  Spend a little time on this message board - these folks can tell you everything you want/need to know!

-Cruise Timing - Cruise prices are very sensitive to supply/demand.  My first cruise was over New Years...lesson learned on that one. Probably hands down the most expensive time to go!  Even for summer - on the same ship same itinerary there was a $2500 price difference for 4 people between going in late May as opposed to late July.

- Ship Selection - We generally stay with the newer each their own but my family LOVES the Flowrider and my son is really good.  You definately pay a premium to go on the newer ships BUT it is purely about preference.  You are also going to be limited by itinerary as some islands cannot accomodate the new "Mega Ships".  Many of my friends just simply like the smaller ships - not me!

Threw that one in there just for good measure...that is my cutie patootie of a son gettin his surf on. 

Cabin Selection - This one is personal preference!! You can certainly cruise much more affordably than we roll, BUT we take typically one or two family vacations all year. I put aside money and plan and plan and plan!  If I could not afford it, I would certainly stay in a inside cabin on a low floor rather than stay home.  We generally stay in a Grand Suite (lowest suite tier with Suite benefits) and get an adjoining balcony for my son (and he typically takes at least one friend).  When he was little we would all stay in the grand as it has a sofa bed but when he got over 18, staying with us wasnt fun for him or us!I gotta say, I love me some balcony.  I hear a lot of people say "I'm never in my room anyways"...we cruise a lot so if our room is nice, we play family games, hang out, have drinks and snacks on th balcony and stay together more because we have the room.

- Itinerary Selection - We have done Eastern,Western and Southern Cruise and each have their own appeal.  I will say my son LOVES Western so we have been doing that one at least once a year for quite awhile.  I say - you can't go wrong!

I am working on a post that includes details, pictures and descriptions of all of the excursions we have done....anyone cruise planning will learn from my mistakes and happy accidents!  :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Can this day just be over already?

This day blows in my opinion...

I'm not usually a whiner BUT today...?  My day got kinda pimp slapped by the universe....ok, overly dramatic but that's tha mood.

STRIKE ONE - Dentist appointment for a filling turns into a 3 hour debacle ending up with a temporary crown AND an referral to an oral surgeon.  FAIL.  Oh, and $650 out of pocket.  Icing! I still stink of eau du dentiste.

STRIKE TWO - It is rainy, cold and windy and I am totally sick of the cold.  Spring could not come fast enough.  Stepped in a big puddle coming out of Publix.  Awesome. 

STRIKE THREE - Welcome to Tuesday TOM.  Suck it.

I am going to do what any self respecting gurl would do to respond:

a)Hot Tub

b) Wine - don't hate on my Silver Oak glass sporting my Chardonnay!

c)Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup - courtesy of the Pioneer Woman.  Seriously the BEST recipe EVA.  It's extra work but your tummy will thank you.  Do not try to get all creative and not use the Reams Noodles.  Do. Not.

Tomorrow is a new day!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Happy Monday's!

I used to dread Mondays but now that I work primarily out of my home when I am not on the road - makes no nevermind to me at all!   So, now I can honestly say "Happy Monday"!  and mean it....cause I always said it but I was being a total smart ass.  Cause hauling your tired self into an office and fighting traffic in Atlanta is a total weekend buzz kill!

My weekend was great - got some good quality time with my son, watched a few movies, oh....and this...

It is my favorite dessert - EVER. Each piece is like 3 pounds...I bought a piece and brought it home. WTH!?!! WHY??? WHY???

I seriously need my head examined. I was remorseful the minute I did it. I took one bite and put the rest in the refrigerator.

It is in there right now...taunting me.

I can't bring myself to throw it out since I paid freaking $7 for it.

I might or might not take one more bite during the Batchelor this evening. But then I am throwing the damn thing out.  On the debbie downer side, I am bummed since I did not get to go to the RSA Security Conference in San Fran this week...  :(  all my work friends are there and I am stuck at home this week!  Arghh!  And they are going to Napa this weekend...insult to injury.  I reserve the right to pout...

My son posted this on my FB wall...

We are on a goat binge for sure...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Step by Step!!

How on earth does this happen?  I have 2 days off exercising and eat out like a maniac...then lose a pound?  Whahuh?

Let's not talk about the piece of cake (topped with a small scoop of Chick Fil A Ice Dream) - it was small but still.  I felt like crap after but hey, it was my birthday.  Now I just have to figure out how to get my son to tote the rest of the cake to his buddies at school!

Funny thing is - he does not like sweets AT ALL
One thing I did right as a Mom was be super diligent about what he ate when he was sugar, fruits and veggies.  His big treat once in a blue moon was a Happy Meal with milk!  Mean Mommy, right? 
Other mom's used to look at me like I can certified nut job when we'd go to birthday parties and I wouldnt let him drink Coke! 
But - he eats like a champ now and would always pick a bowl of strawberries over sweets any day! 

Now, If I could get him to stop with the beer...different story....I digress...

Wow - major tangent!  Anyhoo, I have one lb to go to meet my 1st mini goal of 5% loss!  I think I am going to do a 3 day "Cinch" Fast Start Mon-Weds...Thinking about it.  It would pretty much guarantee I meet my 1st goal and perhaps my 2nd goal! 

I will leave you with this bit of Randomness - My son shares my odd sense of humor and can always be counted on to find something ridiculous on Youtube...

We have been terrorizing each other with screaming goats all weekend...ok, we are weird.  Peace out!  Enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pit or Peak


Peak - This is an uber easy one!  Number One Son/Only Son is home from College for the weekend to see me!  Jan/Feb always feels like such a long time between visits so I was really missing him!  I guess I can tack on that today is my Birthday and I can say I am happy for it but it still blows being over forty (tho I think I feel and act like Im 20-ish most of the time!)

Pit - Again - uber easy.  One word.  One syllable.  TAX!  Sweet baby Jesus, I cannot believe we owe that much again this year after how much we already paid.  Am bitter and major butt hurt over that at the moment. Ok, I am done now.  I think. Mmmmkay,  I am not but it is just not productive.  I will go and take out my beef on this pain machine....

Friday, February 22, 2013

City Guide - Napa Wineries

This is a continuation of the Napa City Guide Part 1 - if you are just starting out, I recommend that you start at the beginning (unless you only care about the wineries)!

Wine Visit Planning - Ok - I am OCD. I admit it and embrace my illness. Now that we have estiblished that as fact, let's get to it!

That said - you will be royally screwed if you do not take out a map and plot out your path. Napa is BIG. Last thing you want is to be driving like a maniac rushing to an appointment! Not fun. I typically break it into day plans taking into account the location as well as the start times. Map out your day ahead of time.

For example, Silver Oak opens at 9am (yes, I drink wine at 9am in Napa...don't judge) and it is generally my first stop on my first day. Then I look at the other wineries close by that I might be able to pop into without an appointment for a quick tasting (i.e. Plumpjack) and I also look for those wines that you can only get at the winery. Here is a great map to start doesnt have every one but most of the big ones. There is also a small book called the Napa Valley Guidebook that lists all of the wineries with their addresses and times.  Don't leave home without it...worth every penny of the $5.95.  Plus it's small enough for you to carry around if you find yourself in an area with some time to kill!

My Unbreakable Rules - I reserve the right to break that at any time without notice or explanation. Deal.

1. I do not ship things I can get at home...this sounds like a "DUH" but you get in there, get talking and tasting and before you know it you will be shipping a crap ton of stuff home just because you get into the moment.

2. If I do not LOVE it - I do not feel obligated to buy after tasting (learned the hard way).

3. Keep a log of the things that you have purchased and set a budget ahead of time. Just do it - you will thank me.

4. You will amass a lot of glasses from your tastings. Take an extra bag for the ones you want to keep!

5. Eat a substantial meal before any cave or barrel tastings. You will also thank me for this advice.

6. Build in enough time into your schedule to really enjoy yourself and talk to the wonderful people working the tasting rooms. And walk the properties - they are lovely! I generally don't schedule more than 2 appointments in a day if at all possible.

Favorite Wineries - First off - I LOVE WINE. LOVE IT.  I think I enjoy my buying trips as much as I enjoy drinking it.  Naw - forget I said that cause it's not true.  My winery picks reflect my feelings about wine!  If you are looking for a)free tasting and b)shitloads of wasted people on small vans/limo's just looking to drink - turn away now.  RUN, in fact. Different strokes, peeps!  I mainly go to places that have amazing wine, and are off the beaten path (i.e.  reservations required).  Generally my favs require appointments....for those below that do not, I will point it out!

Del Dotto - Hands down my favorite. 

Keep in mind they have 2 locations...both very different.  I will start off with the new location which is over the top in most every way.  A barrel tasting is like $40pp but it is an experience people.  Candlelight caves, Andrew Bocelli wander through the cave with a small group your guide just pulling tastes out of the barrel with a wine theif. 

If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to have David Del Dotto take you into the caves yourself....well...prepare yourself.  He might hurt you and you may or may not have to take a short nap afterwards since he will introduce you to his favorite barrels (i.e.  hurt you).  I love that they try very hard to teach as well - tasting one wine in Missouri Oak then tasting the same in a French oak (from different forests in France as well).  It's a great time and I highly recommend it. 

I'm going in...

Ignore the dude that got in my shot...

See how happy Del Dotto makes me - not even buzzed yet!

If you are interested the old cave is located on Silverado Trail and is a TOTALLY different experience. I sometimes still go visit both on one trip...  It is much smaller and more intimate...and less crowded!

Artistic yet a little freaky...

Chinese immigrants carved out this hand!

Far Niente - Lovely, AMAZING property and fantastic wines.  They do a property tour with a seated wine/cheese pairing.  Delicious and fun!  They have a barn filled with all sorts of different cars guaranteed to make your mens so happy. Their cave is lovely but my pictures were crappy!  Sorry!

Perfect except for the lone port a potty in the field....

Frog's Leap - This is a seated tasting outside overlooking the Mayacamas Mountains and their organic gardens.  Truth be told, even though they are appointment only, you can generally call them and say "I am down the street in the parking lot) and they will tell you to come on in!

Jarvis - Wonderful, can't say enough about 'em wines.  That said, the tasting is a bit phoo phoo for that a word?  The entire cave is underground and it is worth the visit. 

Joseph Phelps - Again - property is to die for!  Wines are good but not really my favorite.  We got an appointment at like 9:10am, if that says anything.  You taste from the outside patio overlooking beautiousness....

Almost ready for crush!

Amazing Casks
Paraduxx - This is a lovely tasting....It was quiet and relaxing and a great way to spend and hour or so.

Pride Mountain - I seriously love this winery and their wines.  Their vineyards are split at the top of the mountain dividing napa and sonoma...

The drive up is amazing!
Caymus - I never taste here since they do not have a library (i.e.  they only have current release...refer back to the rules, people!).  HOWEVER - they sell a Zinfandel that is available only at the Winery.  I run in after Silver Oak and grab my allocated 2 bottles.  Then move on!

Silver Oak - one of my staples.  Love.  They also have a fantastic library of wines.  No Appt necessary!

Regusci - I LOVE Regusci and and in the wine club.  If memory serves Grandpa Regusci purchased the 135 acres back in the depression era for $25 an acre. I could weep.  Built in 1878, the T.L. Grigsby-Occidental Winery, located on the Regusci Ranch, is an example of a "ghost winery" (the name given to the few remaining early Napa Valley wineries that were in existence between 1860 and 1900) that has been impeccably preserved. Don't miss the Zinfandel if they still have some...and their olive oil is amazing as well. No Appt necessary!

I just noticed that I do not have a picture of the manly eye candy of the kilt wearing hunk of a man that works their tasting room.  He is beautiful and hysterical but I have no picture so just imagine it....

Olive trees on property

One of my favorite Winery Dogs....Adorbs....

Merryvale - Typically our last stop since they are open until 6pm (others starting closing at 4 or 5pm). No Appt necessary!

Amazing Cask room - I wanna have dinner here!

Constant - This one is difficult to get into since they are small.  However - if you can sort it out it is a one in a lifetime!  Freddie Constant built as close to a bit of heaven as I can imagine at the very top of Diamond Mountain.  He replicated a lake house from his childhood below.  They were featured in Architecural Digest here.

"the movie room" ?  Shut the front door...

Pine Ridge - Gorgeous property.  Can get quite busy and I cant stand it when it is might have to come back but definately worth it!  No Appt necessary!

Peju - A fun place to taste...not necessarily my favorite wines but some that are great "every day drinkables"...No Appt necessary!

ZD - lovely building and a nice place to pop in for a quick taste!  No Appt necessary!

Hope you enjoyed this!  I hope to make another trip this year and add some new favorites to the list!

I will publish some sample itineraries once I locate them in my organized shithole of a filing system (if you call it that!)