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Traveling, Pouring, and Having Fun

“We should come home from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day with new experience and character.” Henry David Thoreau


One reason why I haven’t been able to keep up with my blog is because I haven’t been able to keep up with my own life.

Honestly, I need a vacation!

Recently, I have been gone just about every weekend. A few weekends past, Sunni and I went to Los Angles. OMG! So, in Los Angles double yellow lines are only suggestions to the people that reside in the area. If you are a visitor in the area of Los Angles make sure that you remember that it is like driving in the wild, wild, west. If you’re in the fast lane, you better being doing at least 70 MPH. AT LEAST…wink, wink.

When I am done working at a venue, I like to take a little side trip to learn something. This particular time, it was going to Mission San Juan Capistrano. Sunni and I rented the head sets, and were off on our adventure through the Mission. It was so beautiful and informative. Here are some photos of our adventure…



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Oso Libre

My husband and I met Chris through another friend. We knew him before we owned a winery ourselves. Roberto and Chris took a trip to our 500 acre ranch, where Chris fell in love with our land. He uses the land for his cows. His cows run on the ranch before they go on to become his famous angus burgers.

His family got the name Oso Libre (which means free bears) from their name… Chris and Linda Behr and one of his sons Jeff Freeland and his wife Elizabeth…with the blend they came up with Oso Libre…pretty cool!

I can personally attest to the quality of the wines. One of my favorites, is the 2014 Volado Viognier, it’s crisp, and dry, yet refreshing. I believe every time I have been over to visit I have to purchase a bottle of it. It goes so well with chicken or fish. Although it is fantastic when paired with a meal, it is good enough to stand alone.

The tasting room is beautifully decorated, and the ambiance is warm and inviting. It is refined elegance! The staff welcomes everyone that comes through the doors.

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Red Velvet Cupcakes with Nutella

Over Valentines Day weekend I was in charge of Red Velvet Cupcakes for the Pleasant Valley wine Trail, since we are a part of the trail. Everyone had something they made and then paired with a wine. We paired our cupcakes with our Late Harvest Zinfandel. I heard nothing but good things, so I was very happy that it was warmly received.

I made 100 cupcakes on Friday night, and then another 100 on Saturday night. I used the recipe that was passed down from my Great Aunt Nelle. She was a great cook, and it was said in the family that she asked about the recipe one time when she was visited the Waldorf Hotel. I later learned that many southern women told the story about asking for the recipe from the Waldorf. She was a traveler, and was a fantastic cool. I never questioned the story!

My Great Aunt used to make Red Velvet Cake for my dad every year on his birthday. It was his favorite cake. She also would make a mayonnaise cake that was so delicious. Although, I remember that she didn’t like to say the name around me, it made me sick to think of mayonnaise being used to bake a cake. When we would love something that she made, she would give an index card with the recipe to my mom. We would cherish those recipe cards. There was a special wooded box that we kept them.

Never the less, here is the recipe for the cake…

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1  teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ pounds canned beets, drained and pureed
  • 1 tablespoon red food color
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature (I make my own by adding vinegar, and waiting for 10 minutes, 
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Start preheating your oven to 375, drain and puree your beets. If you don’t have buttermilk in your fridge, I never do…Add one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to your cup of milk.

Meanwhile, add your dry ingredients together, add you eggs, beets, food coloring, vanilla, vinegar, olive oil and finally, the buttermilk. Mix until all the ingredients are wet.

Add the paper cupcake holders to the cupcake pans, fill up the cupcake papers about 1/2 full. This will make about 18 cupcakes. They will take about 25 minutes to bake.

While your cupcakes are baking, you can make the frosting…

8 ounces of cream cheese (softened)

1 Stick of butter (softened)

4 cups of powdered sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Blend your ingredients together to make the frosting. I used a pastry bag for the first time last week when I made these for Valentines day. I had to end up asking my husband to take the pastry bag away from me, since mine didn’t look good. His looked lovely!

Now, if you want to add the Nutella, it does taste delicious, but it is time consuming. We took a melon baller, and scooped out the center. After each one was done, we then added the frosting. Like I mentioned earlier, my frosting job was a little frightening, so I had my husband make them look pretty.




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Dating Again

Before my husband and I were married we vowed that our family would always come first. We would do things as a family, and not leave our children for other to babysit. Since I was the one that was home with the children, my husband was kind enough to give me some time alone. He also gave me time to spend with my friends. I needed that time around other grown ups.

The first time we decide that we would try to go on a date was when my son was eight. We just got an antique curio cabinet the same day. We were taking baby steps to get the mammoth piece up each step our flight of steps leading to the house. We had one more step to go from the foyer to the living room. It was a big step! My husband took a misstep, and the whole cabinet landed right on top of him as he fell. It was crushing his stuff. How could I get this off of him, and not damage the curio? I found a step that was perfect to wedge in, so he could squeeze out from under the curio. He got out from under the curio cabinet. He did not feel like going out after the crushing incident.

This year we finally got to take a date. Our first date in years. We went out with our dear friends. Going to Il Cortile in Paso Robles, California. We had so much fun, we had to do it again. We had another date alone. Our friends brought a bottle of wine from their private collection. We always have a great time with them, and wonderful conversation.

A week after our first date in 16 years we went out again all by ourselves. We realize the kids are going to be gone from the nest in just a few short years. We went to a gallery opening at “Just Looking Gallery” we had a wonderful dinner at Palazzo Giuseppe , I had the Sea Bass and caviar, and the vino… Perfecto! We had an excellent evening. We will have to do it more often. Even the walk to the car was special.


Bloggy Boot Camp, San Diego

On Thursday after the kids got out of school I flew down to San Diego. I didn’t get to San Diego until 9:30. Going from San Luis Obispo to San Diego is a two plane trip. Not only is it a two plane trip it, they are turboprop planes. This was my first time, and I had no idea what to expect.  Of course their were the naysayers, telling me how loud the plane would be, and scary. It really wasn’t bad. It was loud, but I got over it.

I stayed at the Bahia Hotel Resort and Spa, it is really nice. My room was very spacious, and the sheets were good quality.  I love great sheets! I had a great view of the bay, and the paddle boat.  Had free tickets to ride the boat, but too busy to use the tickets.

Since I arrived early to the conference I had a little time to go see some sites. I decided to go to the oldest Mission in California. It was so great to go take photos without people that are ready to go. It was a great time to go too since there was no rain at the time. The rain was the first time we had so much rain in four years. So, my timing was perfect.

first mission of California
first mission of California

Finally, it was time for the conference. Tiffany, Francesca, were great as usual. I love that we are assigned seats on the first day. We get a chance to meet new people, and make new connections. We share glances of our lives with each other before the dynamic speakers. Wow! Every speaker that was there had something to take away from the conference that anyone with a blog can utilize. I made new connections. My head is still swimming with information, and   reeling through all the conversations that I had with so many women.

Honestly, I had only had time to clean my house, and get the laundry done. If you are questioning if you should go…I am telling you…GO! It is fun, informative, and connecting with the people behind the blogs that we read is transformative.

Go a little early, and stay a little later.