August 26, 2013


At the beginning of August, my parents took Leah, Matt and me to California. It was a wonderful trip that included visiting wine country and touring San Francisco.


We began our trip in the Napa Valley, staying in St. Helena, where we were almost right next door to the Silverado trail, which means very easy access to a slew of wineries. One of the first wineries we visited was Cosentino Winery, which was a very pleasant "first stop" on our tour. My parents had been to Cosentino before and wanted to be sure we experienced this winery as well.

Our tour guide throughout the vacation...

In front of the Elizabeth Spencer tasting room...there is a distance arrow pointing to the birthplace of Ms. Susan Doster!

A lovely vineyard next to Paraduxx Winery...

One morning, we enjoyed coffee at a shop in downtown St. Helena...


Gott's Roadside has three locations in Northern California, and one location happened to be very conveniently located about three blocks from where we stayed in St. Helena. Gott's been featured on a number of Food Network shows, including Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.   

The food was exactly what you would expect at a Drive-In but with a California twist. The burgers were juicy and came with classic fixings and super zesty homemade sauce...the fries were roasted in garlic (YUM!) and the shakes were just what you needed on a hot California afternoon.

We spent one day touring the vineyards of Sonoma County, claimed to be "the top wine destination in the U.S." according to TripAdvisor.

Beautiful Sonoma County in the background...

On our way back to St. Helena from Sonoma, we visited Russian River Brewing Company, home of the Pliny the Elder IPA...supposedly the best IPA in the world. 

After a few fun days exploring the Napa Valley and Sonoma County, we headed south to San Francisco for a couple days.

We walked around Muir Woods National Monument...

...which is basically a cathedral of redwoods that age anywhere from 400 - 800 years and have a height up to 250 feet.

Muir Woods National Monument was established on January 9m 1908 when President Roosevelt signed legislation to protect an old-growth coast redwood forest from destruction...nice move Mr. President.

We saw the California Coast...

...and toured Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. 

We ate lunch at The Codmother Fish & Chips, which is the number one rated "lunch" establishment on Yelp in the Wharf area (we had to narrow our choice some how).

My dad had to stop at this antique arcade. Let me say it was quite interesting looking at and playing arcade games that were almost 100 years old.

A boat harbor with the San Francisco skyline in the background...

Group photo!

We visited the California Academy of Sciences, which was pretty spectacular. They had an amphitheater feature on earthquakes and inconveniently had a number of glass displays with snakes (I closed my eyes). 

Our last adventure was a night tour of Alcatraz. 

It was pretty incredible to learn about the history of Alcatraz and how the prisoners lived...

Some of the most famous prisoners at Alcatraz...

Night shot of Matt and me on the boat ride back to San Francisco...

The trip was wonderful and I was so thankful Matt could join us. 

I hope you had a great weekend...Cheers!

August 25, 2013


In July, I took a spur of the moment trip to Iowa to help my parents and Leah take care of my nieces...and attend my ten year high school class reunion. 

The timing was perfect and it was nice catching up with some old friends...and of course, spending time  in the hot sun.

The girls kept us extremely busy...we played at parks near our house...

Grandpa and Grandma read stories almost every night (including finger puppet stories!!!)...

We played at the pool...

I spent time with my grandparents...

...and Leah and I celebrated our 29th birthday!

Not only was I exhausted, but I think they were pretty tired after the week was over as well.

I'm so thankful the work I do allows me to take time away and spend time at home...watching my nieces grow up and spend time with my family.


August 22, 2013

Happy Thursday

I have much blog updating to do...and here is a preview of what I will be posting this weekend:

...a little bit of Iowa...

...and a little bit of California...


August 21, 2013

Wednesday wisdom

I follow the blog Oh She Glows and today, Angela posted these cookies (photo below). Pretty delicious looking, right?!

My wisdom for you today? Make cookies...but just make them healthier than the version printed on every bag of chocolate chips.

Below is a recipe that I modified from Angela's version. 

Chewy Trail Mix Cookies

Chewy Trail Mix Cookies

1 c rolled oats blended into oat flour
1/2 c almond flour
1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 c thinly sliced almonds
1/4 c coconut sugar or brown sugar
1/4 c shredded unsweetened coconut
3 tbsp finely chopped chocolate (optional)
2 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

1 egg (or flax egg)
1/4 c almond butter (this should be drippy)
1/4 c coconut oil
1/8 c maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with silpat mat. Stir dry ingredients and mix together wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Make balls of dough and place on cookie sheet. 

Bake cookies for 13-15 minutes.