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Summer Wine Adventure


(Me in the tasting room on Memorial Day weekend, 2014)

In April I had the opportunity to start working in a tasting room pouring wine.  My experience with wine went as far as, “I drink wine”.  That’s it.  Growing up in the Central Valley of California, the only vineyards I saw were used for drying out raisins in the summer because it gets extremely hot there. I checked the weather for my hometown today and it is supposed to be 108 degrees!!  If you know me, you know that I am a seeker.  I am always seeking something… whether it be knowledge, or travel, or new clothes I am never stationary and rarely satisfied.  Working in the tasting room is my chance to gain knowledge about the wine industry and about wine itself.  In an earlier post, I talked about Sonoma County and the art and culture behind wine and the way of living there.  Who knows if I will settle in Sonoma County so I hope to learn as much as I can while I am here.

In my interview with the wine owners, I embarrassingly confessed that before moving to Sonoma County, I thought Zinfandel was a white wine.  Of course, through going wine tasting and exploring our area I have tried wines I’ve never heard of and have educated myself more about wine and wine etiquette.  I was able to redeem myself with my small amount of wine knowledge and my eagerness to learn more.  Thankfully, they accepted me into their wine family and have really shown me the ropes!!

My first weekend pouring, I was literally thrown right in.  It was a busy weekend and I was running around like a crazy person.  I had studied the history of the family, which is extensive and amazing to say the least, and was fascinated with everything I learned.  It made it so easy for me to memorize the facts: like how they’ve been growing grapes since 1956, how the third generation is taking over and work in the tasting room every week, or how 40% of their chardonnay grapes were sold to Chateau Montelena, who made a chardonnay that went on to win the Judgement of Paris in 1976, and put Sonoma and Napa Counties on the map as reputable wine countries.  Knowing the history of the winery is one thing but I still needed to learn more about the wine.  Lucky for me, our vineyard only grows four varietals and doesn’t blend any wine which means I didn’t need to learn about 20+ different wines like some other tasting rooms.  The more I spoke to people and listened to the experience pourers speak about the wine, the more I realized how lucky I am to have stumbled upon this particular family and their vineyard.  Everyone is not only incredibly well versed on wine and the process of making wine, but seriously the nicest people you will ever meet.  

I am still a major rookie after two months in the tasting room but each time I work, I feel more confident and learn something new.  It’s okay that sometimes the customers that come in teach me more than I knew before.  It’s okay that sometimes I say our zinfandel is less jammy due to our cooler climate appalachian only to hear a woman turn to her husband and tell him how jammy the zin is.  I enjoy chatting to people both tourist and local and watching their faces light up when they taste our amazing wine.  I can’t wait to continue my wine journey and become more involved in the industry by attending events and tasting around Sonoma County with my newfound knowledge and palette to guide me!

Dirty Thirty



As a kid, every birthday is a monumental occasion.  Rollerskating parties, water park parties, cake, presents, balloons, and everything else that goes with kid parties.  The whole thing feels like a special holiday in which everyone you know celebrates the fact you were born and they’ve had the pleasure to meet you.  As you get older, it seems as though the glitz and glamour wears off and it can even feel painful to turn another year older.  Adults even lie about their age to be younger.  For me, turning 24 was one of the most fun nights of my life.  Since then I have just continued to tell every one I am 24 as I hold up the fingers in between to add up to my actual age.  From my teen years to now, it seems like so much is always going on that birthdays don’t feel as special anymore.  You have prom, sports, learning to drive, graduations, engagements, weddings etc.  There’s no time to make birthdays feel special because there are so many other special things happening!  Your 20’s are such a whirlwind!  The last monumental birthday was turning 21 because drinking is finally legal.  That just opens the door for years of forgotten birthdays due to alcohol consumption.  

Last week my husband made his 30th journey around the sun.  Since I am only 24 (as I hold up 4 fingers), it made me realize that my 20’s are almost over!  I am married to a 30 year old!  This seemed like a good time as any to have a monumental birthday like when we were kids.  The trend I am seeing when it comes to turning 30, is to have a Dirty 30 party, especially for men.  The interpretation of Dirty is very subjective.  I have been to a “Dirty Thirty Stache Bash” where men were asked to grow out their facial hair and the dirtiest stache won.  Dirty thirty for single men might mean strippers or whatever other dirty things single men do.  There are endless possibilities for a dirty thirty theme!

While brainstorming thoughts for my husband’s party I thought about revisiting the stache bash, something with woodworking (my husband’s a woodworker), but living in the bay area, one idea just kept coming back to me… hobo, transient, homeless.  If you’ve ever been to the bay area, you understand.  The theme for my husband’s party would be a Dirty Thirty Hobo Bash!

The party turned out great!  Complete with a hobo camp photo booth, 40oz beers in paper bags, canned food cooked over a fire, and witty panhandling signs.  Guests left with red bandanas folded up with trail mix and bellies full of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Getting older doesn’t mean we have to be boring and throwing this super fun themed party reminded me of that.  We had a blast and all got really into the theme dressing up and taking silly photos.  I hope that my husband felt like his birthday was monumental again!  When I finally turn 30, or 24 with six fingers held up, I will go with a different theme… I’m thinking of taking a tip from my favorite movie and being Thirty, Flirty, and Striving!  Maybe I will have so much fun, that I will even admit to being my actual age!  


Sonoma County


My husband and I moved to Sonoma County in July of 2012 from the Central Valley after I graduated with my master’s degree in school psychology.  After interviewing all over the state of California (because why on Earth would I want to be anywhere else?!) I was fortunate enough to be offered three positions, all in northern California, in the same week!  After careful consideration of each area, my husband and I felt that we would be happiest in beautiful Sonoma County!

To be honest, prior to coming to Sonoma County, I thought zinfandel was white and puckered at any beer other than Blue Moon.  Embarrassing I know!  If you’ve never been to Sonoma County, it is a paradise for foodies, wine connoisseurs, and craft brew experts.  I had a lot to learn.  Since my husband and I didn’t know anyone north of San Francisco, we took the first year of living here to really explore and get to know the area.  We were pleased to discover the multitude of opportunities for the avid outdoorsman/woman.  We hiked, canoed, explored the coastline, and best of all experience the wine, beer, and food.

When I say experienced the wine, beer, and food I truly mean that.  In Sonoma County, those three things are so much more than items to consume.  It is a culture.

Wine tasting to some might be something fun to do for a bachelorette party, but up here it is a lifestyle.  When you walk into a tasting room you are visiting someone’s family, rich with history and stories about where the grapes came from, how people put their heart and soul into farming them, and the process of actually making the wine.  With every varietal you can taste what happened in the vineyard that year, whether it was a warm season or a rainy one, the wine tells a story.  Sonoma County has multiple valleys with varying temperatures which makes growing grapes and making wine here so unique and diverse.  There are coastal regions, warmer inland valleys, and even higher elevated volcanic rock.  No two wineries are the same and everyone is so friendly that many wineries sell grapes to each other in order to get that perfect blend.

Sonoma County is not only a place to taste wine but is also a mecca for people who enjoy craft breweries.  For being a less populated county in comparison with other counties in the state, we have three award winning breweries.  Lagunitas, Russian River, and Bear Republic have some of the top ranked IPAs in the nation and are all within a 30 minute drive of one another.  A few months after living here, I had my first sour beer at Russian River.  I can’t even find another one to compare them to, they are that good.  Even the less well known breweries in the area, and we are spoiled to have quite a few, are outstanding.  I haven’t had a Blue Moon since I moved here, because what is the point?

With celebrity chefs abundant in Sonoma County and locally grown organic agriculture, it is no wonder that the food here is so amazing!  I remember googling best happy hour in Santa Rosa when we had been here for about a week, and the restaurant that came up was Stark’s Steakhouse in Railroad Square.  My husband and I were in awe of the cuisine.  We had expected typical bar food and hot wings and were surprised to discover bahn mi, oysters on the half shell, and truffle fries for next to nothing cost wise.  We are constantly trying new places in the area and when we have guests it is hard to choose which place we want to show off first.

After living here for almost two years, I feel that I still have so much more to uncover and can’t wait to do so.  Leading up to my original intention for writing this post, I decided to get a part time position at a winery!  Working in education, I am blessed with two months off during the summer and decided that this summer (and beyond) I want to experience wine country from the other side of the tasting counter.  Remember when I said earlier that before moving here I thought zinfandel was white?  Let’s just say I’ve come a long way in two years and can’t wait to become a bonafide wine snob!


Summer Gardening Coming to an End

Our garden has blessed Andrew & I with a ton of veggies!  At times, we had so many that we were giving our neighbors bi weekly deliveries.  Now that summer is officially over we have decided to start getting ready for winter gardening.  We went out to assess our plants and tear out any barren ones but our garden is not ready to be replaced yet!  I must admit, the last week we have slightly neglected our garden and couldn’t believe how much it is still producing!!!  We started our winter seeds and should have a greenhouse built by the time they are ready to go in to the ground!

My partner in crime (&gardening)

Finally broccoli is growing!

Cherry Tomatoes

Habanero Peppers

Jalapeno Cherry Tomato Hybrid?

Jalapeno Peppers

More Cherry Tomatoes

Japanese Eggplant

Our little friend Pierre

Butternut Squash

Grape Vine

Yellow Squash


Our Abundance of Veggies

Our friendly neighbor gave us the gift of Strawberries from his family’s garden

One Year Anniversary/Reception Party

Today is our one year anniversary!!  Like I mentioned in the photo booth entry below, Andrew and I did not have a wedding where we invited guests.  We eloped on the beach with our photographer and officiant one year ago today.  In order to celebrate with our family and friends we had a party last weekend with some of the traditions one would have at a wedding.  We cut a heart shaped cheesecake, had our first dances, and heard some warm speeches.  All in all, our party and our wedding were absolutely perfect!

First Anniversary

My husband Andrew and I eloped on October 2, 2010 and with me going to grad school and Andrew in between professions, we really never had enough time or money to plan a reception soon after.  When the glow of our elopement started to die down I had a lot of people anxious for a delayed reception.  The vision in my head was going to take some time to plan so we decided to wait for our one year anniversary to celebrate our marriage complete with the first dances, speeches, and cutting the (cheese) cake!

One of my favorite things about our party was the photo booth we set up.  For a while I’ve had this picture in my head of setting up a living room set outside.  So we did just that!  I borrowed a yellow couch from a friend, Andrew made a beautiful coffee table, I painted on an old suitcase, and we bought a lovely antique lamp from a thrift store.  I set up my camera on a tripod with a 10 sec timer so our guests could take their photos when ever they felt comfortable and with the help of our photographers we set up lights as well.  It turned out exactly as I had imagined!

Here are some photos of our amazing photo booth:

Garden Update

It has been a while since I posted about my garden… or about anything at all!  Our garden has grown quite a bit!  Some plants have definitely grown more than I even imagined and they have been a lesson to us in spacing for our garden next time!

Calle Lilly #1


Herb Box which has become all green onions and basil

Flower Box

These are my grape/squash/pepper plants… I was originally growing grapes on this lattice that Andrew and I made but I had some left over soil from plant seeds that never grew so I through the extra soil onto the grape plant.  A few days later a squash and pepper plant started growing!  I guess the seeds just needed some more sun!

Heirloom & Bell Shaped Tomatoes

Summer Squash

Swiss chard



Jalapeno & Habanero Peppers

Butternut Squash

Cherry tomatoes, carrots, & onions


I think these are beets but they may be just more swiss chard

Our newest flower box made by Andrew

We have been eating squash, tomatoes, herbs and peppers like crazy!  I am so excited for eggplant!  Growing our own garden has been so much fun and I have such peace of mind knowing where our food is coming from!

Ladies Camping Trip

This past weekend a group of beautiful intelligent ladies went on an amazing camping trip in the Santa Ynez Mountains.  It was an eclectic group but each with their own unique personality to add to the experience and most importantly the many insightful and witty conversations.  Looking back on the camping trip, I really love and appreciate how each person was so different, yet we came together and had a good time.  It was so nice to put life on hold for two nights and venture out into the wilderness without any men and just relax.

I majorly slacked on taking photos, but I did get a few to document our time at Fremont Campground.

Fache & Christine at Paradise Store, Amazing Food near our Campsite

It’s a man.

My Travel Buddy & Tent Mate Lynsi

Walking to the “swimming hole” as we called it that weekend

This is what we found.

Making Friends with the Locals

Lynsi striking a pose

Girls being Girls

Cake Pop A Holic

Warning:  Cake pops are around 180 calories each and extremely addicting.  They are like potato chips where you can never just have one but like alcohol where if you have to much you will feel sick.  Never offer cake pops to a cake pop – a – holic and if someone you know needs help I’m sure cake pops anonymous will be starting in your area soon.  You can thank Starbucks, they are like Mc Donald’s gorgeous but evil little sister.

With that said… hello!  My name is Angela and I am a cake pop a holic.  My latest relapse has been the discovery that I can make my very own cake pops at home!  My very own Cake Pop “Lab” if you will.  I was tipped off to an amazing recipe book (Thank you Jamie) and also to a cake pop maker (Thank you Yvonne).  Unfortunately, JC Pennys has completely sold out of their cake pop makers, I even checked their website, so for my very first dabble in cake pop making I had to do it the old fashioned way.  Thankfully I had my good friend Lynsi to supervise because she had some observation experience from watching her mother make them.

To begin I went to Michael’s and bought a ton of crap I didn’t need.  Actually $65 bucks worth of crap I didn’t need.  I followed the recipe and it called for quite an elaborate array of decor.  I ended up taking back $45 bucks of stuff because I realized that for my first experience I did not need to be so fancy.  Also, I will add that I go all out and sometimes get carried away hence dropping money that I don’t have on dessert that that take one bite to eat,  so for my first time making cake pops I’ve decided to make … PIRATE POPS!

I must say that for my first time, I did’t do to shabby, I also definitely need to work on my ball forming and dipping.  As you will notice I did not have white candy things, m&ms, or little hearts for the ties (those are things I took back because they were expensive!) but they came out okay!  I’m sure as each holiday passes and I make more I will get better!  Enjoy!

Day One: Make Cake Balls

Day Two: Dipping Balls in Candy Coating

The extra coating made candy covered peanuts

Day Three:  Making the Bandanas and Faces

My pirates are a little lumpy and their patches are a little droopy but that gives them character!  I also added some facial hair or sideburns to some to give them that Johnny Depp look!


Wikipedia definition of “Geocaching”:

Geocaching is an outdoor sporting activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device[2] and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, anywhere in theworld. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook where the geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (tupperware or similar) orammo boxes can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little value. Geocaching is often described as a “game of high-tech hide and seek,” sharing many aspects with benchmarkingtrigpointingorienteeringtreasure-hunting,letterboxing, and waymarking.

Geocaches are currently placed in over 100 countries around the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica.[3] After 10 years of activity there are over 1.3 million active geocaches published on various websites. There are over 5 million geocachers worldwide.

How have I not heard of this before?!  I love treasure hunting and I love hiking around so why not combine the two?  Genius!  Recently, my friend Kim and I decided that while we were in Shaver we would see if there were any geocaches near us.  We were surprised to find that there were a ton!  Some from .3 miles away from our cabin!  We spent a good portion of our time searching for these hidden gems and determined to find a “trackable” which is an item that literally tracks where it is moved to!  Even my husband Andrew joined in on the fun!

My first coin!

Another cache!

Searching for caches brought us to beautiful parts of Shaver Lake that we had never been to!

Kim was an instant pro!

Some were very hidden

We almost gave up on this one!  It was literally buried!

Signing the logs

Micro Cache

Following my compass

I feel like this fun fad gives lazy people like me a reason to push through long hard hikes.  I can’t wait to find more neat caches and although we didn’t find a trackable this time, I am determined to find one!  Look out Pasadena and Pismo, I am coming your way next weekend and I will definitely be searching for more caches!

If you are interested in becoming a part of this awesome hobby then visit http://www.geocaching.com and learn more about how you can download the app on your phone and get started with geo caching!

PS.  Yes, there are even some in Visalia!