Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Get well card that's royally cute!

So I realized that in my haste to post all of my vacation adventures I forgot to share this super cute get well card that I made for my friend Nicole.  She's a super sweet girl (well I guess we're considered ladies now, huh?  When did that happen?) and a mommy of one (Hi Carly-fries!).  At the time she had just finished her surgery, but now is up and running again...which is a good thing because her daughter has hit the crawling stage majorly!  Talk about a great workout...

I used an old hostess set from a previous SU! catalog.  It pictures a milk carton and the sentiment reads "Feeling sick?  Milk it."  How freakin' cute is that?!?  So I teamed it with this diva-licious princess paper, some pink (Melon Mambo, to be exact.) girl-ish touches, a black grosgrain ribbon, and called it a day!  I love it.  The sentiment, the colors, and the princess aspect all totally scream Arielle.  Plus it came with the gift of homemade Cornflake Chocolate Chip Cookies...and who can really resist those?  No one, that's who!

Cheers to you Nicole!  Glad to see that you are feeling better.  :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I hopped on the plane at LAX with a dream and a cardagain...

This is what we saw while driving to the airport.  Fog, fog, fog...and the Golden Gate Bridge, of course.  We did manage to get lost driving to the airport...more times than I would like to mention.  Okay, it was my fault!  But I blame the GPS.  It didn't give me enough time to say, "Turn here, right now!"  We arrived on time to the airport; both frustrated and tired.  Needless to say we didn't take any more photos that day.  We were both glad to be heading home after our week of fabulous adventures.

BUT let's not forget how we started the vacation off (Since I forgot to post these pictures first, but we'll ignore that little slip up)...

Here we are at the Honolulu International Airport for our 10pm flight.  How can you be sure that you'll have a great flight? 

1.) Find good reading material.
This week on 'How the hell is this a magazine?', we bring you Obamaland...lol.  This is seriously a magazine option at HNL airport.  No, I didn't buy a copy!

2.) Physically and mentally prepare yourself to fall asleep during the flight.  How can you be sure that you'll fall asleep?  Why you have a drink and a yummy empty calorie filled meal before take-off, that's how!  Fool proof method to a restful flight.

Here's me at Dewar's Clubhouse restaurant.
I thought that it would be a good idea to order a couple of Old Fashioneds since Dewar's is known for bourbon.
Turns out that they are horrible...lol.  Lesson learned: I don't like bourbon.
But I put my big girl face on and drank what I ordered.
Our oh so healthy pre-flight meal.  Hot wings and onion rings, baby!  Nothing like starting a vacation off right.

3.) Pack good snacks.  I suggest homemade chocolate chip cookies.  Pack enough to share with people around you, that way you can make friends.  If you can't sleep, at least you will have new friends to chat up for the next 5 hours.

Here's to an unforgettable vacation!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Barn Diva, baby!

After all the driving and sight seeing, we ended up in Healdsburg for dinner.  Cute little town.  You know, the kind of town with lots of boutique shops and people walking around with their dogs and such.  Kind of reminded me of Kailua.

Here's La'akea taking a rest on a pig bench.  People out here love their pork.  I think that we ate something pork pretty much everyday...lol.

We settled on a restaurant called Barn Diva.  They were all booked up for the night except one reservation at 5pm, when the restaurant first opens for dinner.  We snagged it!  I did feel kind of strange eating so early, but the food was well worth it.  
 La'akea next to the Barn Diva truck.
I would suggest getting there early, as our service was great, but the people that sat down next to us, about 45 minutes after our reservation, had the worst service.  Their server took forever to take their drink order and even longer for their dinner order.  I felt kind of bad for them and almost offered the couple some of my dinner to tide them over.  Maybe it was an off day for Barn Diva or maybe that couple comes in all the time and gives the waitstaff hell, but just keep that in mind if you plan on dining there.
Our meal by photo...
Goat Cheese Croquettes
Stuffed with House-Made Tomato Jam and served with a  Lavender Honey dipping sauce.  
These were delish!  The crunchy, crisp outside matched with the creamy, savory inside topped with the slight sweetness of the honey; a masterpiece in one bite.  A must have for sure!

Chicken & Dumplings
Fricassee of Young Chicken, Fromage Blanc Gnocchi,
Crème de Morel, English Peas
This was my dinner.  It was sooooooo tasty!  I'm a sucker for gnocchi.  If gnocchi is on the menu, I'll probably order it without hesitation.  If you haven't had gnocchi, you haven't lived!

"Off the Hook"
Chef’s Daily Selection of Wild Fish From Our Local Waters
This was La'akea's dinner.  I forget what kind of fish this was, but it was really good.  Simple flavors let the fish shine.  Yummy!

Time for dessert!
Strawberry Semifreddo
Almond Dacquoise, Minted Strawberries, Rhubarb Vanilla Compote
Talk about dying and going straight to heaven!  Such a light, refreshing dessert with a sweet and sour mix of flavors.  A wonderful way to end a meal, if you ask me!

This was a great laid-back meal to end our wonderful vacation with.  One more night at the Kenwood Inn and Spa and then it's back to reality.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Riding in the car, we love riding in the car!

It was day 6 of our trip, our last full day in the big CA.  We spent most of the day driving around, hanging out in various towns throughout Sonoma and Napa Valley.  We found a great 90s alternative rock channel on the satellite radio in our car and totally rocked out to it the whole time.  No commercials except the ones for the radio station, which was totally sweet until I heard this one:  "You used to rage against the machine; now you rage against the washing machine. Lithium XM radio 90's alternative rock."  How did this radio station know my life?

While driving we saw all kinds of things.

We saw confusing things...

I, personally, have a few questions for the driver of this U-Haul.

Do you know that you are driving with the hatch open?  No?  Hmmm...you might have a problem with that later on.

Do you have a friend that owns a truck?  Yes?  Then why rent a huge U-Haul for only one stove?  Wait, you had more stuff in there earlier, but because the hatch was left open while driving along all the windy roads you're only left with a stove?  Oh, I see.  P.S.  You might lose the stove's extension pipe for the vent in a few more turns.

The next "Real Men of Genius" commercial right here, folks.  Mr. Irresponsible Mover Guy.

We saw touristy things like the Napa Valley sign...
My favorite Napa Valley quote: "Wine...how classy people get shitfaced."  They sold things that said that all over the place...lol.
This is the face you make when your husband tells you, "Honey, stand by the car so that I can take a picture of you." and you know he really means a picture of the car.

We saw strange, out of place things like this castle...
Yes, it's a real castle, but a modern one.  It's actually a winery called Castello Di Amorosa.  The owner wanted a castle and couldn't find one that he liked, so he built his own.  Nice, huh?
Me at the entrance to the castle.
The courtyard.
Inside the castle.
La'akea looking very suave with a hat on.  We did not buy this hat as well.  I guess we are just hat tryer-oners and not hat buyers...lol.
In the castle tower.
There were even sheep outside of the castle.  How cute is that?
The whole trip I wanted to take a picture with the grapes, but every winery pretty much had a sign posted that read something along the lines of 'stay out of the grapevines'.  Thus, I didn't get the chance until now.  There was no sign to be seen!  Quick, snap the picture of me running up and down the aisles of grapes!  (There's just something about those straight little rows that makes you want to run through the aisles.)  Then I turned around and saw the sign "Please keep out of the grapevines."  We quickly headed for our car...lol.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Moving on...to Sonoma.

We had a great time in Napa and probably could have spent more time there, but it was time to move on.  We packed up our stuff, piled into the car, and headed on our way.  Just us, the GPS, and the open road.

Our GPS was set for the Kenwood Inn and Spa in Sonoma County, so there was no possible way we could get lost, right?  Wrong...lol.

Just try setting your GPS from Napa to Sonoma.  It's okay.  I'll wait... 

Do you see the crazy route it calculates?!?  Do you see the super windy road called Dry Creek Road which then turns into Trinity Road?  (Here's the map for those of you without a GPS handy.)  Yes, we drove that!  There were times when I thought we were going to take a turn too sharp and fall right off the edge of the cliff that we were driving dangerously close to, thus meeting our untimely deaths.  But alast, I have lived to tell the story!

Despite having lived through the craziness of Dry Creek/Trinty Road, we still missed the hotel...lol.  We ended up having to turn around at a winery (surprise, surprise...), called the Deerfield Ranch Winery, so we stopped to have a look around.

This is their wine cave.  It was really cold in there!  The whole time we were tasting their wine I was regretting my choice of a cotton sundress and flip-flops as the day's attire.

Here's La'akea awaiting the wine tasting menu.  See how happy wine makes people?

Cute winery, nice people, good wine.  All in all, two thumbs up.  Bonus, they have the cutest Portuguese Water Dog that they let run around all throughout the wine cave.  He was so excited to see everyone that I couldn't get him to sit still for a picture.  I did try though.  Multiple times.  The pictures just looked like big black blurs...lol.

After the wine tasting we made our way back to the hotel, which, turns out, was right next door to the winery...lol.  The Kenwood Inn and Spa was by far the most luxurious hotel that we stayed in.  I think that's why my husband saved it for last.

 The view from the hotel.

The grounds were beautiful and their customer service was outstanding.  I mean, how many hotel concierges will take you on a private tour of the hotel grounds during check-in?  Not many, that's for sure!

 One of the many pergolas on the grounds.  I love pergolas.  I still haven't figured out their use, besides being aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but I still love them.

This was our room...

The bedroom...
complete with a real fireplace!  Hells yeah, I turned that bad boy on in the evening.  My husband was sweating, but did I care?  Nope...lol.  Hey I'm a girl from Hawai'i.  We don't often see, let alone get to use, a fireplace.  So he can sweat for an hour.  It's okay.
The bathroom.  Just look at how delicious that tub looks!  I had to take a bubble bath, just had to.  How could you not with a tub like that?
I also fell in love with the little green vanity, but there was really no place for it in my suitcase.  So I had to leave it there for the next guest to enjoy.
There was also a built in bookshelf, which my husband was convinced was a door.  It was not.  It was just a bookshelf.  How do I know?  He spent like 10 minutes checking it to be sure that it wasn't a door.  Boys and their crazy imaginations.  I blame too many Bond/Batman movies...lol.
The view of the hotel grounds from our door.  It was stunningly beautiful.  I could seriously spend an entire vacation just staying at this hotel and be perfectly content.

We had an entire day planned out, but scrapped the plan, after only making it out to one other vineyard, in favor of heading back to the hotel to relax.

 Bartholomew Park Winery.  Beautiful grounds complete with it's own museum.
Me with the lavender.  This picture is for you Aunty Cheryl.  We found lavender and we didn't even have to travel all the way to Europe.  :)

I'm not usually a 'hang out at the hotel' kind of person, but this hotel totally felt like we were staying in our own private Italian villa.  It was heaven.  We took naps, read books, and ate a disgustingly huge bowl of Pasta Alfredo for dinner that was to die for.  Like I said, heaven, pure heaven.