Thanksgiving Weekend in Napa 2017

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving! I know mine was! It was just the break I needed, and now it’s back to reality! i’m going to keep my recap as brief as possible for 5 jam-packed days, because I need to get back to studying (or sleeping).

I left after class on Tuesday and made great time! I got back just in time for happy hour with the pup.

IMG_6436 IMG_6440 IMG_6442

For dinner, we got pizza. GF for me!

Wednesday morning, I was up early and ready to attack the day (…or aware of how much schoolwork I had…). I started the morning with a quick workout in the backyard with the uninvited help of Chloe. I did 20 minutes of 5 push ups, 10 russian twists (each) with a 20 pound med ball, and 15 squats.


It turned out to be a good one, and I was actually sore the next day!

Then, it was time to see the podiatrist about my ankle pain. It’s definitely not broken, nor a bone bruise. I’m a weird case but the diagnosis is an ankle sprain, and I have an ankle brace to wear. So TBD.

I spent the afternoon on schoolwork, catching up on some lectures. The first I watched in the car on the way to pick up my turkey trot bib (my mom drove), and the second I watched with a furry friend.


For dinner, we had Cooking Light’s Chicken, Apple, and Butternut Stew recipe, which we added spinach to and topped with aged cheddar. YUM.


Plus cornbread!

Thanksgiving morning started early with the turkey trot!

IMG_0001 IMG_6452

As you may recall, my ankle has prevented me from running for the past 3-4 weeks. Besides soccer (which was sketchy). So I had no idea what was going to happen. The above snap is referring to my plantar fasciitis as well which has for some reason flared up as well…So yeah, I had zero expectations and just hoped to finish in one piece!

The weather was perfect; nice and warm compared to what it normally tends to be!

IMG_0019 IMG_0028 IMG_0045 IMG_0080

Right on time, me and 22,000 friends were off!

IMG_0105 IMG_6454 IMG_6455

Given I hadn’t run in a month, imagine my surprise when 8:10 pace felt really easy, and I casually was a few seconds off my PR? What?? Even better, my ankle was shockingly good. It started getting sore about half a mile in, then loosened up and felt good! So that was unexpected!


On the way home, I stopped by to meet my sister’s kitten, Ash.

IMG_6459 IMG_6464

Then, we got ready to head off to Napa!

IMG_6474 IMG_0128 IMG_0131 IMG_0148

When we pulled up the the hotel in Napa where we would have our Thanksgiving dinner, imagine our surprise when we saw this:


Turkeys! And definitely not wild, just hanging out on the front lawn. It actually turns out they’re fire refugees, and showed up when their home burned down in the wildfires.

Then, it was time to eat!

Plate 1:


Cheese, sushi, and most importantly, pumpkin soup!

Plate 2:


Mashed potatoes, turkey, cranberry sauce, heirloom carrots, and two highlights: purple polenta with green olive relish and roasted brussels sprouts.



Cheesecake, pumpkin pie, raspberry mouse cup, chocolate covered strawberry.



Friday morning, my mom and I did spa treatments, and then it was time for wine!


The first stop was the Bistro in St. Helena.

IMG_0163 IMG_6495 IMG_6496

We shared a grilled artichoke, and then I had an avocado salad with fresh mozzarella and olive oil.

We did our typical St. Helena things, including a trip to the pet store, Woodhouse Chocolates, and a gluten free chocolate chip cookie split 3 ways for dessert.

IMG_6497 IMG_6520

Our first winery of the day was Pine Ridge. They have a really good and unique white that is really reasonably priced at Trader Joe’s, and we’ve passed the winery so many times that we decided we should stop in! Plus the grounds were beautiful.

IMG_6504 IMG_0172 IMG_0174

Cabernet Sauvignon is their specialty. The staff was super nice. I’m not super into red wines, so they let me sub out some whites in their tasting. Even though it’s not my thing, I could tell the Cabernet was good quality!


We ended up getting a great discount on the tasting from our hotel too! For our next stop, they pointed up across the road to Robert Sinskey,

IMG_6506 IMG_0181

This ended up being a great suggestion. We all enjoyed the unique white wines we tried, and I even really liked the Pinot Noirs we tried. They also provided little snack plates with their tasting, and they even made a special GF, nut free plate for me!


Our last stop of the day was Domaine Chandon for some Black Friday shopping.

IMG_6510 IMG_6511


We also got delicious truffle popcorn.


We made it back to our hotel just in time for hot chocolate and the tree lighting!

IMG_6513 IMG_6516 IMG_6518

Saturday morning, I went for about a 2 mile run. The loop around the property has always been one of my favorite places to run, and I’ve run along there every year for at least 10 years. This year was different. Tons of houses along the loop were just gone, after the terrible wildfires. The set of condos next to where we were staying was wiped out as well, rooms that I’m pretty sure we stayed in at one point. It’s so sad, but the positive is that people are moving forward and already rebuilding.

As for the run, my ankle wasn’t having it and I cut it off early, opting to instead meet my parents for a breakfast buffet.


Omelet to order!


We did our typical shopping and eating in the morning, and then headed out by way of Napa Smith brewery.


It was a great discovery! They had a ton of different options, and we enjoyed tasting different things.

The rest of the day was spent studying with my favorite study buddy, and watching STANFORD BEAT NOTRE DAME. What a game!


Sunday morning was spent taking an awesome spin class, studying, and more studying. IMG_6569

My mom made vegetarian chili for lunch, and then I baked Chocolate Zucchini Banana Bread, and added fresh cranberries. Yum!

IMG_6570 IMG_6573 IMG_6574 IMG_6576

For dinner, my dad grilled chicken for salads with shredded apple and aged cheddar.


Finally, it was time to make the trek back. Traffic was surprisingly fine, and I made amazing time! When I got back, my roommate and I got the house ready for Christmas, including a tree!

IMG_6596 IMG_6599 IMG_6598

And the cat!

IMG_6591 IMG_6592 IMG_6594 IMG_6595 IMG_6602 IMG_6600

She didn’t TOTALLY hate it. She definitely didn’t like it, and walked around super awkwardly! She looked adorable though!

And that’s a wrap!


California <3 and Trying to Return to Real Life

The fires raging through California right now are absolutely breaking my heart. Thankfully I am in a safe area, but many others are not so fortunate. The smokey air here is the worst because I know that it means people’s homes and lives are burning. Napa feels like a home away from home for me; I have spent every Thanksgiving there for the last, probably 15+ years. The neighborhoods I see on the news burning are what I have run through every year for the past 10 years.

Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 7.59.52 PM

^Some happy memories of Napa.

For now, I’m trying to go through my week as I can, but knowing what is going on a few counties over is hard.

On that note, I do want to recap my past week with Chloe, before all of this started.

Chloe and I spent the week walking and studying, thanks to a Friday test. She was clearly super helpful.

IMG_0266_2 IMG_5931 IMG_5936 IMG_5947 IMG_5934

We went to school (her FAVORITE thing ever apparently. She was super excited to walk in.) late in the evenings to study in the study rooms, and it was so nice to have a companion! I also re-listened to some lectures I was unclear on while walking her, which was super helpful.


One morning, I took her to school to walk along the trail out back. On our way back to the vet school, she spotted some interesting things.

IMG_5964 IMG_5966 IMG_5970

Chloe sees her first alpaca!

Chloe and Rina got along quite well together this time as well.


When everyone wants on my lap!


I have a cat AND a dog on my lap!


In terms of my food for the week, Sunday before Chloe came I made a big pot of garlic ginger chicken veggie soup (with zucchini of course), which made for quick lunches when I had to dart home and let Chloe out between classes.


Mr. Pickles turkey and avocado on a GF wrap when my mom dropped my girl off:


Lemon garlic zucchini noodles with mozzarella and chicken, and a friend.


The same but with mushrooms:


One of my favorite fall breakfasts: cottage cheese, apple, and sunbutter.


Wednesday tamale with a side salad:


I ordered GF cookies online, and the maple was my favorite!


Zucchini traditionally: with marinara and mozzarella, plus a side of avo toast.


Other fav fall breakfast: plain yogurt, pumpkin butter, sunbutter.


And a new use of zucchini! Mexican-style. I seasoned my noodles with smokey seasoning blend, then stirred in Harvest Salsa (from Trader Joe’s), grilled chicken, and cheese.


Finally, another fall combo: cottage cheese, pumpkin butter, sunbutter.


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).


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.

img_0473 img_0476 img_0477 img_0049 img_0053 img_0480 img_0504

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.

img_0481 img_0482 img_0484 img_0485 img_0486 img_0488

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

img_0489 img_0490

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.

img_0492 img_0493

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

img_0494 img_0495 img_0496 img_0497

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!

img_0498 img_0499

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!

img_0503 img_0505

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.


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


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

We made our usual stops in St. Helena:


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.

img_0511 img_0512

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.


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.

img_0516 img_0515

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.


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.

img_0518 img_0520 img_0521

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


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


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

img_0524 img_0525

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.

img_0443 img_0446

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.

img_0449 img_0447

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

img_0450 img_0451 img_0452 img_0453 img_0454

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!

img_0043 img_0045

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!


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!


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!

img_0458 img_0459 img_0460 img_0461

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!

img_0463 img_0464 img_0467

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

img_0468 img_0469

For dessert, I had a gluten free brownie.


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.


And took my annual pre-trot Charlie picture.


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.


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

img_0705 img_0704 img_0702

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.


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.

img_0014 img_0017

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


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!


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


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


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.

img_0026 img_0031

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!

img_0033 img_0034

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!


Salad course was first:

img_0714 img_0715

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:


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.

img_0716 img_0717 img_0718

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!


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?