Thankful for feasts and festivities

This holiday season we are hosting SIX events at our home. I know, we’re crazy. But I love it. I love going to other people’s houses, too, but then I’m always thinking about the boys. If they’re home I think about what they’re doing or if they’re driving Gran nuts or if they’re eating or or or. If they’re with us, I think about them knocking things over and playing nice with others, etc. At home, they’re in their turf and I can relax more.

The first event was the get-together we had for my 40th. My husband and his parents did 99% of the work so I just enjoyed everyone’s company and the great food. My mom made two flans, those things are so rich and delicious, and were definitely enjoyed. Here’s a funny bit about flan.

The second event will be Thanksgiving. We sort of stole it from my mother-in-law since she got her new dogs. I would walk in her house and within 15 minutes I’d be sucking on my inhaler. I’m not allergic to all dogs but the longer-haired ones do give me trouble.

The third event will be a baby shower. I am so psyched. I am planning lots of sweet things, or rather, “Swede” things, since it will be a Swedish baby ūüėÄ (flag pic from Facebook).

The fourth will be a family dinner. We might have some guests from out-of-state and we had such fun last time they were here that we would love to host something for them. It’s still a maybe so we’ll see. (pic from The Martha)

The fifth will be Christmas breakfast and lunch. Again, stolen from my mother-in-law. The boys open the avalanche of gifts – we really do have generous families and friends – and then they go play with the boxes (ha!) while we eat breakfast with my in-laws. We do a quick dishwasher load and get things ready for lunch, which is when most people show up.(pic from The Martha)

The sixth will be a New Year’s Day brunch. We are not planning on going out this year so we invite friends and family to get over their hangover or to start the New Year with us.(yep, again – pic from The Martha)

So this is our plan so far, lots of friends, lots of family, lots of good food and wine, lots of wonderful memories being made — that’s what holidays are all about for me. Hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful, and if you do not celebrate, I hope you have a great rest-of-the-week!

Birthday weekend, part 4

After lunch and a nap, we got ready for dinner at Allegria.

Last year, our friends C&D had come to Napa with us and they’d gifted me a bottle of Caymus zinfandel. ¬†I decided to bring the Caymus to my birthday dinner at Allegria and share it with my hubby and our friends J&M.

The wine went perfectly with our entrees and it was a delightful dinner.

Little did I know that our friends C&D would gift me another bottle of Caymus for this birthday – score! ¬†Now I have wine for next year’s birthday dinner ;D

On Sunday, we had breakfast at the hotel and then headed home because we had invited people to celebrate with me Рthe party started at noon and we got home about 90 minutes before that.  My mother-in-law had watched the boys for us, my father-in-law got the house ready for guests, and both of them along with my husband did all the food.  I am so grateful to them!

I saw something this board on Pinterest and decided to make my own:

The afternoon was wonderful, it was so nice to see so many people from so many facets of my life. ¬†When thinking about what to say if people asked what I wanted for my birthday, I took my inspiration from the book that started my veggie garden adventure – Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver. ¬†For her 50th birthday, Barbara asks everyone to bring her a plant. ¬†I couldn’t do the same since her birthday was in May, perfect for planting, but mine is in November, and I was guessing many plants would not survive the winter. ¬†So instead, to those who asked, I simply asked for seeds. ¬†Any type of veggie or flower would do. ¬†And oh my goodness, I now have a serious stack of seeds for my 2012 garden! ¬†Plus other, very generous gifts that will all come in handy.

I didn’t want to blow out FORTY candles so my husband, helpfully, decided to get four “decade” candles.

My boys had tons of fun as well since they had lots of friends to play with.

It was such a wonderful end to my birthday weekend, so many wonderful friends and relatives. ¬†Despite all the whining and moaning I’ve done about turning forty, I know am a very lucky girl.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Birthday weekend, part 3

After leaving Castello di Amorosa, we drove to Joseph Phelps for the tasting our friends C&D had set up for us.

Joseph Phelps has not only great wines, but also glorious views from their tasting terrace:

The tasting we had included their Insignia wines:

My favorite was the 2006 Insignia, followed by the 2005 Cab.  I am a Bordeaux girl at heart but love Cabs as well, so this tasting was right up my alley.

Me with our friend M. ¬†Yes, I am a hobbit. ¬†Ironic since she is from New Zealand ūüėÄ

For lunch, M had made reservations at Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, a super charming restaurant from the owner of Brassica and Mustards. ¬†I loved that the window boxes surrounding the restaurant were full of vegetables!

I had the Backstreet Burger, my husband and J had the Adult Grilled Cheese, and M had the Duck burger.  Everything was delicious and we headed back to the hotel for a nap.  More about my birthday weekend tomorrow!

Birthday weekend, part 2

My husband had planned a surprise for Saturday morning, my actual birthday. ¬†He and our¬†friends¬†convinced me to get up early and “beat the rush” — I am a morning person and I thought, hey, if you want to get up at 6am too, whatever. ¬†Well, the three of them were in on the secret, which was a balloon ride!

Unfortunately, Calistoga was very foggy that morning so it was canceled. ¬†Boo. ¬†Hiss. ¬†At which point my husband told me of the plans and I was disappointed but not as much as the three of them, who were so excited over the balloon ride. ¬†Oh well. ¬†It was a super sweet plan and someday we’ll go up and see the sights from way up high.

Instead, we ended up going to a winery I’d been wanting to visit for a while. ¬†If you ever get a chance, you should visit Castello di Amorosa.

image above from destination 360.com

Dario Sattui, owner of V. Sattui, built this castle in the style of a medieval Italian castle, and only produces Italian style wines.  You can read the story here.  It is quite historically accurate Рfollowing modern codes and regulations, of course Рand it was nice to see details like the one my husband pointed out; a warming fire used to heat the rocks that made up the walls and then that heat would radiate into the rooms, making them cozier.

This place is breathtaking, and to someone who a) likes wine, and b) is a history addict, visiting Castello de Amorosa was a great experience.

My husband at the entrance of the castle.

The banquet room

My husband chose to have the wine & chocolate tasting.  Honestly, this day just kept getting better and better!  Our guide, Alene, was awesome, full of information, engaging, etc.  After the tasting, we headed over to Joseph Phelps because our friends C&D had set up a tasting for us there.

I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow ūüėÄ

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Fashion Friday: Fall is here!

I am deliriously happy because my favorite season has truly arrived – no more deceptively cool mornings followed by blistering hot afternoons. No. Now cold mornings are followed by cool afternoons, and sometimes, even rain! Swapped my summer shorts for my beloved jeans:

Source: polyvore.com via Joy on Pinterest

Aside from a pair of leopard print flats, I am not really shopping for anything this fall/winter:

Lauren Conrad

Jackets are back in rotation:

Tall boots make a comeback:

Source: polyvore.com via Milena on Pinterest

It’s all about layers, layers, layers!

My beloved knit hats will be topping my outfits once again:

Source: etsy.com via Erin on Pinterest

Everything in warm, cozy colors:

Source: polyvore.com via Breanna on Pinterest

What are you looking forward to wearing this fall?

Fall outdoor decor

I’m joining up the fall parteh at Sarah’s today with my BOO pumpkins. I saw this idea on pinterest and I decided to switch it up a bit.
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First, I spray painted the pumpkins with Oil Rubbed Bronze. Then, since my oldest was helping me with this craft I made it a little easier for him by scribbling the letters on paper first.
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This made it easier for him to “trace” with the silver thumbtacks:
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Once the letter was done, I held the thumbtacks in place and gently pulled off the paper.
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My stylist-in-training decided that my Martha Stewart web ribbon would be perfect on the urn I painted a few months ago:
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Pretty simple and easy, and I love how the thumbtacks reflect light so even if it’s getting dark you can see the pumpkins with their BOO ūüėÄ

Hope you enjoyed this outdoor craft!

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Fall craft: Cinnamon candle

I’ve seen cinnamon sticks wrapped around a candle throughout blogland, and decided it was the perfect accent for a little vignette.
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For my version, I chose a vanilla-scented candle, then wrapped a rubber band around it. I stuck cinnamon sticks between the rubber band and candle, then added a festive bow as a final touch.

Super easy, super cheap, and super scented! The candle was .99, the ribbon was a leftover piece from my fall wreath, and the cinnamon sticks came to $3.

Here is the candle on my little tray with a favorite fall picture of one of my boys and a blingy votive holder:
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Hope you enjoyed my craft! I will be linking up to the It’s Fall Y’all craft linky party!
I'm topsy turvy tuesdays

Fall Wreath for $5 and change

I got the idea for a wreath with my last name initial on it from my friend L at Challenging Martha – she made a super cool fall wreath and I had $5 in my pocket, so I hit up the dollar store and dug out some leftover scrapbook paper I had from a project I will share with you tomorrow.
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I started with a wreath form, some greenery/flowers in fall shades, ribbon, and brown leaf forms – there went my $5.
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I played around with the “ingredients” and the floral wire I had leftover from the lavender wreath I made this past summer.

I have to admit I preferred the wreath form from Walmart because it was fuller, but it was a little more $ and I wouldn’t have been able to get the rest of the stuff for my fall wreath, so I made do with the skinnier, and lighter-in-color wreath form from the dollar store.

I made a letter B from orange scrapbook paper, and glued it onto black cardstock that was glued onto an oatmeal lid, for stability. Then I punched a hole through the paper and lid, and used more floral wire to hang it from the bow I made with the ribbon:
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Notice how the wreath blends in really well with my door. I kinda don’t like that. I think a dark chocolate brown door would be more awesome, but that’s a project down the list for now.
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I love my fall-toned wreath – the lavender wreath now resides between the windows that face onto the front yard, and looks lovely there with the window boxes and more lavender below. Now it is this beauty’s turn to grace our front door, and I am very happy with the result.
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I hope you liked this little project – I had lots of fun making it, although stuff kept coming up and I started it over three weeks ago!

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Fashion Friday: Fall, where are you???

It’s been in the 90s here this week. That’s just not ok, really. I am so ready for my scarves and sweaters and boots and everything that is cozy and layered.

Here are some sets I’ve put into a collection to inspire my autumnal fashion wardrobe:
http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/collection?.mid=embed-car-2117661&_embedder=2117661&_out=embed&display=car&displayOptions=%7B%22withBy%22%3A0%7D&id=987596&size=m&sort=-pop&src_action=collection

Have a wonderful weekend!