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Visiting the Castle

We’ve been to Napa quite a few times now, but this year we did something pretty unique. More on that to come!

I mentioned yesterday that I was struggling with lack of appetite on this trip, so I was hoping starting my day with a workout might bump up my ability to eat a little bit! I was hoping to run, but it was raining and to be honest, a cold rainy run on vacation didn’t sound too nice. I modified Peanut Butter Runner’s 1000 rep workout to better meet my needs, and just cycled through for about 40 minutes (I didn’t get to 1000 reps).

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Our big plan on the agenda for the day was a visit to Castello di Amorosa, an amazing winery based out of an authentic castle. It took 15 years to build, and every stone was imported from Italy.

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The castle has 107 rooms, many of which store wine. The winery opened in 2007, and have been making quality wine since then. Their red wines are aged about 4 years, so the red wines sold now are 2012. The tour was about 2 hours, and took us though the amazing rooms of the castle.

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This was styled to be like an authentic 13th century Italian castle, and even had a dungeon with torture devices!

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This awful looking chair would be heated, and the spikes would melt into one’s body. It’s apparently where the phrase “hot seat” came from.

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We also got to try some Cabernet Sauvignon straight from the barrel. This was a young red wine; it was only aged 2 years.

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The tour ended with a tasting. We got to pick out 5 different wines to try. I’m definitely more of a white wine girl, so I tended in that direction, although I did try the Cab that was the same kind as in the barrel, but fully aged. It had a lot more complexity!

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The wine was good, and our sommelier was super friendly and helpful. He overheard me talking about vet schools, and he offered to talk about Davis with me, since he got his Viniculture degree there.

We tried a couple of sweet wines which were really unique; the moscato was rich with flavor and complexity. In terms of regular wine, I liked the Chardonnay and the dry Gewürztraminer; this wine is often sweet, but their version is dry and had a really interesting flavor.

The wine is only sold on site, so we definitely took some bottles home!

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After our morning wine, we were ready for lunch in St. Helena, at the Bistro. This is one of my favorite restaurants, and it’s a meal I always look forward to!

We split a grilled artichoke to start.

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And got the avocado salad with for my main course. Avocado, fresh mozzarella, tomato, high quality olive oil, and sea salt.

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We also shared some of my dad’s sweet potato fries.

We made our usual stops in St. Helena:

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Fideaux, an adorable pet store. I actually had to get some Christmas cat toys to mail to Yoyo and Scooby; I miss them!

Olivier, which is mainly olive oil, but has expanded to all sort of gourmet items like caramel sauce and tapenades, and has free samples of most of their products.

And of course, Woodhouse Chocolates.

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I managed to talk my dad into splitting some hot chocolate from Woodhouse, and it was of course delicious.

We relaxed the rest of the afternoon before heading to Oxbow Market for dinner. Oxbow used to have AMAZING arepas, but still has lots of good options! Since my family is now really into beer, we stopped at the taproom for Fieldwork Brewing Company and got a flight to share.

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We picked out 5 beers to sample, but were most excited about the Bad Conduct, a chocolate maple imperial brown. It was delicious, but was a very strong flavor and we all agreed that we liked it a lot, but couldn’t imagine having a full glass of it! I thought the beer overall was pretty good, but not really as interesting as the St. Louis craft beer I’ve been drinking! It was fine, but nothing too special (with the exception of the chocolate maple).

Since I figured I should actually put some food in my stomach as well, my mom and I shared a gluten free margarita pizza and salad.

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The Oxbow Market is an indoor area with a lot of different shops and food places. It’s sort of like the Ferry Building in SF, but smaller.

For dessert, my family chose Kara’s Cupcakes, so I had a GF mini brownie with chocolate chip buttercream.

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We finished the evening with chocolates and Gilmore Girls by the fire. I’m actually only starting Gilmore Girls now, only on season 2!

I began my last morning in Napa with a run. I love running around the edge of the property; it’s so beautiful there! I did 3 miles before breakfast.

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We went to the Grille for breakfast, which was a buffet.

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On my plate was frittata, country potatoes, fruit, and Strauss yogurt with apple compote (mostly because I wanted the apple compote).

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Then, it was back home. The only other highlights I want to share are my needy kitty, and homemade cranberry sauce.

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This is the worst picture ever, but I had some leftover cranberries and the desire to put cranberry sauce on everything, so I whipped up some cranberry sauce. It sort of kills me to pour white sugar into things, so I sweetened the sauce with maple syrup to taste, and the maple flavor came through amazingly. It seemed like it would be perfect on ice cream, so I made myself a little baby bowl. YUM. Cranberry sauce is seriously so easy to make. Heat cranberries on the stovetop with a little water until they break down, and add sugar as desired.

And that, my friends, is a wrap on Thanksgiving 2016.

Exploring Napa Valley (Again)

I go to Napa every year for Thanksgiving, but while we do a lot of the same things, we try to visit some new places as well. The world opened up when I turned 21!

Friday morning, my mom and I went to the spa for a massage and facial. We did this for the first time a year ago. Both were delightful. I started an actual skin care regimen after going last year, and I feel like my skin is a whole lot better now. I actually had the same person doing my facial as last year, and she was super nice (Ashly)! She said If I come back next year I should request her so we can catch up!

The next item on the agenda for the day was Genova Delicatessen, an Italian deli. Their egg salad is to do for, but this time I had a massive slab of cheesy polenta with some different salad sides: coleslaw with pineapple and Greek salad.

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After lunch we went across the street for our annual Ross Dress For Less trip. My sister and I used to spend hours there trying on party dresses when we were younger. I didn’t get too much because I just rediscovered 80% of my wardrobe (yay for living out of suitcases) so I wasn’t really in the shopping mood, but I did get some Blogmas props!

Next on the agenda was the real Black Friday shopping, at Domaine Chandon.

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Although we did a full tour with a tasting last year, we still did a tasting again!

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We did the basic tasting, which gave us tastes of 4 different champagnes. Last time we got to try the best of the best, which obviously I liked better!

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They have a nice outdoor seating area where you can sit and sip your tasting. They are also dog friendly in the outdoor area, so we are tentatively planning a Napa trip with Chloe sometime in the future, as the area is really dog-friendly and she could always use the socialization!

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Upon arriving at our rental place, we broke into some fall Trader Joe’s finds, which was my first time trying both. The salsa may be my new favorite salsa; it reminds me of vegetarian chili and it isn’t too spicy!

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Then, we headed out to enjoy a little holiday celebration: a tree lighting!

There were carolers, free hot drinks (hot chocolate for me), and Christmas cookies!

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We ordered takeout from the grill right next to the main house area, and came out just in time to see the tree being lit!

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For dinner, I shared a roasted brussels sprouts and apple appetizer, and had a salad with fresh mozzarella.

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For dessert, I had a gluten free brownie.

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To be honest, I was really struggling with lack of appetite on this trip. This is a major annoyance of my stomach condition. I feel like I can hardly eat anything. Normally I have more appetite, but different foods, travel, and way less physical activity is making it hard for me to enjoy all the delicious food! That being said, I was still pretty sick this time last year so I’m thankful the worst I’m dealing with is mostly just getting full quickly!

This post is getting long, so I’ll save the castle post for tomorrow!

Have you ever been champagne tasting?

Thanksgiving 2016

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving full of family and delicious food! I know I did!

I got into the spirit early with some pumpkin spice Cheerios pre-Turkey Trot.

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And took my annual pre-trot Charlie picture.

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I did the Silicon Valley Turkey Tort, the biggest in the world. 28,000 people! It gets bigger every year! Normally I do the 10k, which starts before the 5k. This year I did the 5k, and they did a mass start for the 5 and 10k. That created a logistical nightmare. Each corral was supposed to start at a different time, but that wasn’t well publicized so it seemed like a lot of people started in earlier corrals. Parking was a nightmare with road closures. I ended up having to jump out of the car half a mile from the start because my mom was not going to be able to park anywhere and traffic was a terrible.

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I ended up running with my phone, which was so necessary for communication. I made it to the start with plenty of time though.

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And then finally we were off! I am not capable of running a race without a time goal, so I set the modest goal of below an 8:45 pace for the 5k. It was not too crazy crowded at the start, but with the corral issues, the deeper into the race I went, the more I ran into walkers who went in earlier corrals. It got pretty clogged up in the last mile or so.

I was feeling really good on the run. No issues, not too tired.

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Despite the initial issues, my mom ended up getting to an ideal place on the course. She was at around mile 2.5, but in the finishers’ village because the course looped back around from there. She got some truly awkward running pictures, because I was looking at my watch and calling out the distance to her because she didn’t know where on the course she was or when to expect me to finish.

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The mile markers were measuring a little short on my watch, but I crossed the finish line at exactly 3.1! Perfect!

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I finished in 26:17, which I was more than happy with, and to be honest, a little surprised! I’ve only been running 2 days per week, but it goes to show you fitness in other areas carries over!

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The free Noosa yogurt after the race served as the perfect pre-Thanskgiving breakfast!

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Then, we had to do a quick-ish turn-around to make the drive to Napa!

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I’ve had this skirt for a while, but I feel like I never get an occasion to wear it!

As is our tradition, we spent our Thanksgiving in Napa. We’ve gone to Napa every year for as long as I can remember. It’s absolutely gorgeous here this time of year.

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Please note my lips in the above pictures. Blue. My lips turn blue so fast when it’s cold!

This year my Grandma from Florida joined us for the holiday!

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We went to a big fancy buffet, like we usually do. We shared a bottle of champagne for the table, and of course I requested we get the pink one! It looks so festive!

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Salad course was first:

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I got a green bean, mushroom, grape, and picked onion salad, assorted cheeses with dried fruit, and the star of the meal, pumpkin soup with gruyere. I go to the same buffet every year, and the soup is always the best part.

Main course:

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Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy (it probably had some gluten so I didn’t want to go crazy), roasted cauliflower, and of course, cranberry sauce.

Guys, my ability to eat is just sad. While I don’t suffer many flare-ups and issues from my stomach condition anymore, I still have zero ability to eat large amounts of food. I couldn’t even finish this plate. I think my 81 year old grandma out-ate me.

Before getting my main course, I checked out the beautiful desserts and came up with a game plan. My family takes buffets seriously.

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I had a chocolate mouse cup filled with blackberry mousse, and then split pumpkin pie an pumpkin cheesecake with my mom. Pumpkin cheesecake was my main motivator for trying to see what happened when I eat gluten. I still avoided the crust, but felt confident enough that I didn’t have to worry about crumbs here or there!

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Again, my eating performance was abysmal but the food was delicious!

After our afternoon feast, we checked into our room and relaxed and digested for a while before heading out to see a movie—another Thanksgiving tradition! We saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and I think everyone enjoyed it! I read all the Harry Potter books when I was younger and enjoyed them, but I’m not a fanatic. So coming from a non-fanatic, it was a good movie! I thought the relationship Newt had with his animals was adorable and relatable to me!

The movie ended pretty late, so we ended up not actually eating another meal that day. I was pretty hungry at that point, but an early bedtime won out since I don’t even know what time zone I’m on right now!

What is your favorite Thanksgiving food?

 

Adventures in #bootlife

Having a stress fracture at the end of my senior year of college stinks, but I decided to not let it affect my life! (Minus the whole no running/walking/most exercise thing but minor details…)

I’m trying to have SOME fun with it (as seen here). I’m thinking of it almost like Flat Stanley (did anyone else do that? For classes, one student would get him for a week and take him on adventures, taking photos of the adventures). So this week, where did boot go?

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Thursday, I rounded up a big group and friends and went to Senior night, a night out for the seniors to get together.

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Friday, we (the boot and I) went to a sorority mixer. Since #prevet, I suggested an animal theme and somehow that actually went through. Not complaining.

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It was a fun night, spent with lots of friends!

Then, Saturday was the perfect day. It was so much fun. Despite a late night, I was up pretty early as per usual and decided to head to Crossfit, since the WOD was reasonably foot-modifiable. My workout ended up being 5 rounds, 2 min rest between rounds, of the following:

2 min assault bike

15 strict pul ups (I used a band for the strict, but worked in some no banded kipping. I can now string 5 kipping together, and pre-injury it was only 3!)

1 min assault bike

10 ring rows

10 strict press

It felt good to get moving, and I fell those pull ups now!

Since I sometimes call this a food and fitness blog, not just #bootlife and #stressfracture, here was my lunch:

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GF avocado toast, leftover dill salmon (our chef makes the best salmon ever), greens with Italian dressing, and apple/beet/dijon salad.

Then, the main event! My friend somehow managed to convince his professor to let him use his beach house for the day/night! A group of us made the hourish drive, but with good conversation, it flew by!

This is the view from the window.

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First stop was the beach! Luckily there was a nice path leading down to the beach. After a minor sand incident last week, this time I came prepared. I brought a drawstring (this is key) garbage bag to put over the boot to keep the sand out.

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Worked like a charm! As a we were walking along the beach, a big wave came up to knee height, but my boot stayed dry!

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Despite rain earlier in the day, the weather was perfect. The beach house even had a private beach! We also had no cell signal or Wifi, which was a strange yet refreshing experience.

We spent about 2 hours hanging out at the beach before heading inside to make dinner.

My main task was chopping up and sautéing the peppers and asparagus.

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As well as pan-frying the chicken. I actually surprised myself by how much I actually am capable of cooking, and how much I actually know about things. Maybe it’s comparative! When cooking with 3 boys, sometimes you have to be the voice of reason.

For example, we bought some wine to go with dinner, and I pointed out we didn’t bring a corkscrew. They immediately thought we should just hit the top of the bottle off. I suggested we check the fully stocked kitchen for a corkscrew. Guess what? We found one! Haha!

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For dinner, we had chicken (which I made with olive oil and garlic salt), gluten free spaghetti with marinara and the veggies I made, corn, and tortellini with pesto.

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I seriously cannot get enough of this view.

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It was honestly such an amazing day. I ended up driving back around sunset that night instead of staying because I had an early morning. These people have been my friends since freshman year, and I don’t see them nearly enough. It was the perfect senior spring day.

Sunday was another great day. My dorm did a wine tasting trip to Napa! The bus left at 9am, and we arrived at the first winery at 11.

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Our first stop was V. Sattui. We had some time to walk around before our tour. They have a really nice deli, with delicious cheeses!

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A winery tour in a boot was one of the more challenging things I’ve done, I have to admit.

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Cat sighting!

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Thankfully, we got to sit down for the tasting.

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My favorite was the Sauvignon Blanc. I am not a red wine girl, I have to admit.

After our tasting, we had lunch at the winery. I had a turkey sandwich on lettuce.

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The highlight was dessert for sure though. It was creme brûlée, served cold. I’m not always a huge fan of creme brûlée, but this was delicious. It was a little eggier than a lot of creme brûlées, and seemed less fatty, which I liked a lot more! It also had strong vanilla bean flavor.

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Stop #2 was Robert Mondavi, one of the big founding wineries in Napa.

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I actually liked this tour a lot more. The tour guide was funny, and very informative. In addition, we got to see more of the process.

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Our tasting took place in the barrel room!

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And more beautiful Napa scenery:

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These past few days have been amazing. it’s hard to go back to reality, especially with only 7 days left of class in my undergraduate career! I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I think part of that is the uncertainty of next year. But let’s not even touch that topic with a 10 foot pole!

What did you do this weekend?

Wine Tasting

I hope everyone has had a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend! I just got back from Napa!

Friday in Napa was my first wine tasting experience! After a room service breakfast, we stopped at Ross for our annual shopping trip there. The Ross in Napa is by far superior to other Ross’s. For lunch we headed across the street to the Genova Delicatessen-if you’re ever in Napa I highly recommend stopping in! The egg salad is to die for. For my meal I had a hunk of Polenta plus some egg salad and veggie sides.

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After lunch, we headed to Yountville to visit Domain Chandon, which makes sparkling wine (not technically champagne because it’s not made in Champagne, France).

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We went on a tour that included a tasting. On the tour we got to see the big vats where the grapes are squeezed, and learn about the champagne process from grape to bottling.

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Then, it was tasting time! We got to try 4 different varieties. I’m doing my best to learn some wine descriptor words so it was nice to have a side by side comparison!

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My favorite was the etoile rosé.

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My Black Friday shopping consisted of taking advantage of the 50% off champagne sale!

After tasting, we headed back to Napa to Oxbow market downtown. My favorite place, the arepa place, is not longer there, but I was excited to try the gluten free bakery! I and the avocado smash on gluten free sourdough and it was perfect.

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For dessert, I tried lemon vanilla bean tea cake and chocolate cake. Both were good but not exceptional-the sourdough was definitely the star of the show.

On Saturday morning, I was up early to run the resort grounds in frigid temperatures. So worth it-the run is beautiful! It’s a nice fish mile loop around the property. After breakfast, my mom and I had some spa treatments. My 21st birthday present was wine tasting and spa treatments in Napa, and we finally made it out a little over 6 months later! I started with a massage, which was fantastic. You never realize how sore you actually are! Then I had my first ever facial. It was definitely a different experience, but my skin felt completely different afterwords. I definitely understand that people glow after a facial!

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After our treatments, we drove to St. Helena for lunch.

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We stop in St. Helena any time we come to Napa ( and we come every year for Thanksgiving). One of my favorite restaurants is the St. Helena Bistro for their avocado salad.

As an appetizer, we shared a grilled artichoke and had wine to go around because when in Napa!

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My main course was clearly avocado salad. I added chicken this time for a little more protein. The salad is so simple but has the freshest flavors. It’s simply lettuce with fresh mozzarella, avocado, quality olive oil, and sea salt.

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In St. Helena, we stopped in a pet store for adorable toys for my puppy (she likes really loud things and already loves her squaking rubber chicken) and into Olivier for olive oil and tapenade tasting (including their amazing lemon curds and caramel sauces!) One of the main St. Helena stops was Woodhouse Chocolates for amazing Belgian style chocolates. The flavors are so unique and fresh, and the mint tastes exactly like fresh mint leaves.

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Then, it was time for wine tasting! We decided to stop into a winery in St. Helena that we’ve passed many times, distinctive because it has a giant sparkly rabbit structure in front.

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The winery had a very modern style, and the fall views were beautiful.

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Their specialties are red wine. I tend to prefer white wine, but I did my best to appreciate the high quality wine we were tasting! The first was a chardonnay, which was my favorite, but the next 4 were reds.

While I may not be a wine connoisseur just yet, I can appreciate that this was in a different universe from the last red wine I had, 2 Buck Chuck (which is quite offensive to the taste buds).

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I could appreciate the $125 wine, but I don’t think I’m quite sophisticated enough yet to enjoy it as much as whites. I loved the big flawless glasses though!

We managed to time our trip perfectly and make it back to our room in time for the Stanford Notre Dame game. We ordered room service for dinner, and were on the edge of our seats the entire time. The game was intense, with a small lead being passed around. The end was epic-we lost our lead to a controversial touchdown in the last minute, and had the ball back with just 30 seconds to go. Stanford drove down the field and we made a long field goal to win it in the last seconds of the game! AHH! GO STANFORD!

To celebrate, we broke out the champagne bought the day prior. Cardinal (red) sparkly to celebrate the win!

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On Sunday morning we returned home. It wasn’t quite back to reality yet-my mom and I attended a holiday shopping faire at a historic house that was totally decked out for the holidays.

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The decorations were beautiful, and it was a great way to enjoy the house and get into the Christmas spirit!

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We came home with a few items (most notable is a squirrel ornament) and lots of holiday cheer!

Dinner was at Whole Foods, where we picked out a tree. I highly highly recommend their trees. They stay fresh longer than any lot tree and are luscious and beautiful.

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Our tree is going to be decorated a bit differently this year. We switched to mostly unbreakable ornaments when my fairly agile cats were young, but this year we’re going to go ornament-less because of a certain puppy who loves putting things in her mouth and carrying them around. I have visions of a knocked over tree as a result. The plan is to do lights and maybe wrap a big ribbon around. Possibly some big flowers. Any suggestions?

But now it’s back to reality. I’m at school and already sweating over the amount I have to do in the next 11 days before Christmas Break!

Have you ever been wine tasting? What’s your favorite type of wine?