Posted in Food and Cooking, Travel, wine

Santa Cruz Wine tasting

We are taking a short virtual drive for “Travel Thursday” this week to two Santa Cruz foothills wineries. There are many wonderful wineries in the region for great Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. No secrets there, even Condé Nast Traveler called it one of the best wine regions to visit in 2019 (link https://www.cntraveler.com/gallery/best-wine-regions-to-visit ). However, limiting my tastings to keep my balance and sense of taste, (don’t even suggest spitting out good wine) I chose Testarossa and House Family Wineries two beautiful wineries close to home.

From San Jose we approach the area via the Silicon Valley town of Los Gatos in the Santa Cruz foothills, which has a charming historic downtown of top notch restaurants and shops. We drive past a plethora of nice stand alone tasting rooms on the way but I like the ambiance of a working winery tasting room so up the hill we start.

Dramatic entrance to Testarossa Winery

Our first stop is at Testarossa Winery which is my favorite for Pinot Noirs. It also has great outdoor dining, music and special events. This time we just did a tasting in the main hall but we also enjoy having a glass of wine and snack outdoors, enjoying the mediteraen climate and listening to music.

These pictures of Testarossa are courtesy of Tamara at Tamaraitsmylife.wixsite.com , since my Testarossa pictures disappeared, darn wine. Thanks Tamara, that was a fun day.

With my bottles of the 2016 Pinot tucked safely away, we head north on the Saratoga Los Gatos Road to the House Family Vineyard for some Cabs. This is wine tasting with a view of the San Jose Valley and surrounding vistas. Here is the pretty path through the vineyard from parking:

The view from the tasting room:

The 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon did not disappoint, a bit pricey but with club membership there is a discount and tasting is complimentary for four. We have also come up on a Friday night to hear music and just do a tasting so the experience is reasonable.

They have a small menu and we ordered a cheese plate and loaf of French bread, which is baked on-site and amazing. So, as I sit here thinking of the crusty french loaf and delicious glass of Cabernet, I leave you with this quote:

The gospel needs a family of sinners, saved by grace, committed to tearing down the walls, throwing open the doors, and shouting, “Welcome! There’s bread and wine. Come eat with us and talk.” Rachel Held Evans

Blessings,

Posted in Food and Cooking, Travel

Lake Tahoe Summer Vacation

It’s Travel Thursday so I’m sharing about our trip this summer to beautiful Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Forever, we had heard of magical summer trips to Tahoe where the water was gloriously cobalt blue, the beaches were warm, the water sports abundant, and the views were picture perfect.

View of Lake Tahoe from the west coast of lake.

Tahoe is only about four hours from the South Bay so we drove across and nestled our travel trailer among the towering pines in the Fallen Leaf Lake Campground. It’s in an alpine canyon between Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe, 1/4 mile from Fallen Leaf Beach where the water was warmer then Tahoe (though still invigoratingly chilly) and just a 10 minute drive to the views and activities of South Lake Tahoe. The campground was rustic with the feel of nature as we hoped. Here is a picture of one of our neighbors who was rough and a little grumpy but kept to himself. https://tahoesouth.com/stay/fallen-leaf-lake-campground/

Our Tahoe Neighbor

So this should be the travel blog where everything is lovely and we have a wonderful time (cue the menacing music). It looked like we were in for a great vacation until our trailer went all Cujo on us with toxic gas and all night alarms. The folks at Fallen Leaf were great to help us with our difficulties and we were still in a beautiful location but I was frazzled not relaxed. So instead of hiking or renting a boat we took a scenic drive then enjoyed the town of South Tahoe.

“The Pour House” in South Tahoe had a good food rating with live music on the patio, so we headed over for lunch and were happily surprised to find it was a self pour wine bar. This is the best idea ever! Once a tab is established you are given a card that activates the wall taps and you are only charged for the wine poured. The wines were labeled with descriptions and on the wall they ranged from crisp light whites to full bodied reds, which is the order to serve in a winery tasting room. So I tried just a mouthful of five wines without feeling tipsy and losing my sense of taste (for me the typical winery pour is a lot). Then I went back to the crisp Chenin Blanc for a full glass with my salad. By the way I have been looking for a self serve wine bar in the Bay Area without luck, so it you know of any pour houses here please let me know. This is a brilliant idea. https://www.tahoepourhouse.com/

Well, this wasn’t the vacation I expected and I don’t have as may pictures as usual but I can say there is something for everyone in Tahoe whether you are there for the views, water sports or fresh mountain cookery with wine.

Blessings,

PS. Sorry that I haven’t posted since January. Our family lost it’s wonderful patriarch then and I needed to finish mourning before I started posting about my life again. My father-in -law was someone I had always respected but really grew close with over time. What helped me heal through this mourning was crying, sharing my feelings, doing small things to honor his values, and remembering his life. I’d love to hear the ways you have worked through loss to healing.

There is no shame in crying when the world loses a good person and I shed some even at Nordstrom before Father’s Day when I didn’t have a gift to buy this year. I enjoyed talking about my time with him and helping my husband talk about his feelings too. We sent a donation to the NRA in his name honoring his commitment to live in a free democratic society. It’s been eight months since he passed on to his next adventure but he will never be forgotten.

Posted in card making, craft

Gearing up for a birthday

My family is filled with car guys, who enjoy discussing motors and gears in depth when out driving, at dinner, or watching tv (you get the picture) . So I was so thrilled to see gear thinlit dies in Stampin Up’s Classic Garage Set in time for my husband’s birthday. The set includes stamp images of a classic car, tool box and fuel can which will be useful for so many masculine birthday cards. But what stopped me in my tracks were the gear dies. Yes this would be lovely paired with the classic auto for a traditional card but the minimalist in me can’t wait to try a modern card with shiny silver gears, One google search later I took my inspiration for this card from CraftyKylie.com on Pinterest. Lovely job Kylie.

I wanted a sleek modern card so the Cardstock was paired down to a gray and black color combination. The gears definitely look modern in silver foil paper (See A). These were first cut with the foil side against the cutting edge producing a clean image. However when I tried to make a slightly different image by reversing the die so the cutting edge was against the paper backing the image was too rough. Any ideas on how to reverse the die cut edge with good results? Well, I will definitly try that again because I like the slightly different pattern (See B)

You probably recognize the tan cut up grocery bag under my work. When I forget my plastic sacks at the grocery store this is my way of re-using their bags.

The Card goes together quick and easy, I spent some time adjusting the silver gears on the left side of the Cardstock but then all that’s left is embossing the greeting in silver . My first try I used black ink instead of versa mark with the silver embossing powder and a fullers earth pad (my mistake but it was right next to the embossing powders at the big box store) instead of the anti static embossing buddy to stop stray embossing powder and the results are underwhelming. Did I mention I just bought my heat tool? But thanks to Brenda Keenan over at http://www.keenankreations.com/ I now know the right way.

Finally, once I had all my tools in place the card was finished in 15 minutes. At the last minute I switched gears, literally (see C below). Here is my birthday card, hope this encourages you on your next project.

Figure C – Initial idea for card and final version on bottom
Posted in Travel

California vs. Massachusetts – the weather

A reader contacted me today and asked (just kidding it was my sister reading the blog) why I never followed up on the California vs. Massachusetts comparison. Well, once I started considering the topic it made me sad to think about leaving my friends. But since she asked and I am now here in Northern Cal let’s do it.

Are you still reading? Surely you can guess the winner by now, but in case you need help here is a visual aid:

Average winter day in Massachusetts
Average winter day in California

To be fair there is lots of fun to be had in the snow but since it is only a 3 hour drive to winter sports in my area I will have to give the win to California. Especially since even in the warm days of summer California is more comfortable because of the low humidity.

Thanks again for reading and stay tuned for the next post comparing the east vs west coast wine production. Mid January I have scheduled an expert wine taster (just kidding it’s my friend from Georgia) to help me sample wines.

Blessings

Posted in card making, craft

Creating our 2018 Christmas Cards

Woo hoo, there was no snow in Northern Cal but it was Christmas card making flurries for me this year with 14 different card designs sent to family and friends. Yes, I was like a kid in a candy store, bedazzled by new stamps, inks and shiny pearls. I enjoyed card making with a Stampin Up Group (thanks Brenda!) where I learned to emboss patterns and mask stamps. I appreciated meeting new people and having the fun of creating these cards. Afterwards, I took advantage of the January Sale-a-bration promotion over at Stampin Up, http://www.stampinup.com to fill my craft cupboard with awesome new images and colors. I can’t wait to post the fresh ideas this New Year.

Deja vous, writing this post brought to mind that last year my crafty friends from Hopkinton also upped my game a notch. Here’s a shout out to Susan B, Pat, Sharon, Danette and Susan M, I miss you ladies. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas creating beauty and joy as usual.

Blessings and a be-lated Merry Christmas

Stampin Up : Real Red & Old Olive Card Stock, Stylish Christmas Stamp & Farmhouse Christmas Paper

PS. I didn’t post last year because my blog wasn’t good enough to be on the web forever. As you know I started this blog as a journal and encouragement for some friends. Who knew that in 2017 my site traffic would pick up so I stopped blogging to consider what’s next. I’m excited to start posting again and my resolution for this year is to post a better story each time to be web- worthy.

Posted in craft

Christmas Cardmaking Fun part 2

To spread Christmas Cheer here is a collage of beautiful cards created by my friends for the Ladies Bible Study. Susan, Pat, Danette, Sharon, and Susan B, I had a great time cardmaking with you, thanks again for the inspiration.

Susan B made twenty of these darling cards for the group using the Stampin up “Merry Christmas Stamp” and tree dies. Her tree dies were also used as an embellishment and a relief pattern in many of the cards you see above. Beautiful! I just heard about the Stampin Up tutorial workshops and could spend all day watching their Youtube videos.

Finally, here is the updated modern Christmas Card inspired by the ladies. I’m pleased now that the colors are brightened, the ribbon is switched to green and the embellishments are sparkly. Friends make everything better.

Merry Christmas All,

Posted in craft

Christmas Cardmaking Fun

My friends at Faith Community Church in Hopkinton needed Christmas Cards for our Ladies Bible Study. So, I pulled out my Anna Griffin dies / embossers and Creative Memories scrapbook papers and joined in for some cardmaking fun. How blessed to be able to relax and chit chat with the crew while my tactile nature was fed. Here are a few of my favorite cards from our time together.

My 5×7 Christmas Card …

I pulled together some traditional elements in Christmas red and green for a card with components I liked but which lacked a holiday sparkle. In the next few days I’ll add some lightness with different shades of paper stock and add details to the text box. I do like the gold embellishment with the Lace Trim Die, however this is still a work in progress.

Susan’s 6×8 Christmas Card …

My friends created more modern cards with cleaner lines and eye catching embellishments, for example here is a 6×8 Card I love. Susan’s design is elegant and beautiful in it’s simplicity. My small contribution was the Merry Christmas text using the Sentiments Die.

My 5×7 Modern Christmas Card …

Taking inspiration from my friend’s modern layouts, here is an attempt at a playful card using the Lace Trim Embossing folder to add interest. It was a fun first effort.

These cards don’t have to be perfect to wish someone a Merry Christmas or let them know how much you care. So if it looks like fun, make something special yourself and invite a friend to join you!