Travel Tuesday: Sonoma Wine Tour

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

While we were planning our trip to San Francisco, we knew we wanted to spend one of the days exploring wine country. My mom and I aren’t huge wine drinkers, but we both enjoy an occasional glass of wine...especially on vacation!

We were staying in San Francisco and didn’t have a rental car, so we had to find a tour group. I did a lot of research and we ended up taking the Sonoma Valley Wine Country Tour with Green Dream Tours and it was excellent. I would HIGHLY recommend using that company if you ever go. Our driver/guide Mark was funny and informative…everything about the tour was just so great. It’s $134/adult, but that includes all of the tasting fees ($45) and lunch. We definitely thought it was a good value and worth every penny!



Our first stop was at Robledo Family Winery, which is the first winery established by a former Mexican migrant worker. The family owns acres all throughout wine country and they sell most of their fruit to other wineries. As you can tell by the name, it’s a family business so everyone that helped us was a member of the Robledo family. It’s a great atmosphere and we enjoyed their wine. It was funny to see how much friendlier everyone on the tour was after the first wine tasting.



The next winery we visited was Larson Family Winery. I was really excited to visit this winery because they have 3 labs…they even have a wine (Three Lab Cab) named after them! By this point of our trip I was missing my doggies and home so I was excited to rub some lab bellies. In addition to the wine, we also tasted their Three Lab Chocolate Sauce and Chardonnay Wine Brittle.



We really enjoyed the wine plus the extras (I think this was my favorite stop). I ended up buying the chocolate sauce and wine brittle to take home. The chocolate sauce is AMAZING on vanilla ice cream. Anyway, we also ate lunch here. Our driver/guide picked up our lunch from a local deli while we were at the last stop. We ate outside at the picnic tables and it was pretty perfect, plus I got to pet all of the labs!



Our next stop was the town of Sonoma. We had an hour to shop and explore the square. We ended up buying some chocolate at a local shop and enjoyed ice cream at Sweet Scoops. From there we drove to our third and last winery, Nicholson Ranch.



Nicholson Ranch was a great last stop for the tour. The winery is in a beautiful area and has amazing views from the terrace, plus the weather was perfect (we were there in mid-September). After spending some time relaxing on the patio with our wine, we hopped back in the van and headed back to San Francisco. We had such a fun day in Sonoma and I would highly recommend visiting wine country if you are ever in that area.



MummyTravels “Inspire


 

Meet Macey – Our 2nd Foster Dog

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Technically you all met Macey as part of January’s Friday Five post, but I figured she deserved a proper introduction. So, meet our new foster dog Macey:


Our first foster dog Lilly left at the end of November and we were planning to take a break from fostering for a bit…but then the rescue sent me a picture of a pitiful pup and we’re suckers for a sad dog face, so here we are…We got Macey on January 11th and will have her until late March/early April. She was found as a stray and was on death row at Maricopa County Animal Control for being fearful.



Macey is about a year old and is a very playful pup. Well, now she is…when we got her she was SO skinny, had a pretty bad cough, and was very skittish. I’ll be honest, those first couple days were rough. We had to follow her around with paper towels wiping up phlegm all day long. She wasn’t house broken and was scared of the doggie door, so we ended up cleaning up a lot of accidents too (plus wash all of the bedding when she peed on the bed – thank God for waterproof mattress covers). Luckily the cough cleared up in less than a week and our brave little toaster started using the doggie door after a few days. Although she still has a random accident about once a week…I don’t want to jinx it, but it’s been days with no accident so hopefully she’s got it all figured out now.



She’s super sweet and cuddly, but is also very playful and full of energy. She is REALLY fast and loves running around like crazy at the dog park. She also loves playing with toys and tug of war. Seriously, that girl is tug of war obsessed. She is also obsessed with the Wobble Wag Giggle ball that Ringo got for Christmas. It’s the most annoying toy ever, but it keeps her occupied so we call it a necessary evil.



Unfortunately, Ringo and Abby are not huge fans of Macey. Abby wants nothing to do with her. Ringo will play a little, but he usually ends up getting mad that she won’t stop messing with him. I think she is just too hyper for them. So we’ve been dealing with lots of little spats between the dogs, but nothing too bad. We haven’t had any huge fights and it’s nothing like the one stressful day we had with our first foster attempt Gonzo. We briefly talked about finding a different foster for her, but we don’t think moving her to yet another home would be good for her. Ringo and Abby will just have to deal with an annoying little foster sister for another month. Of course if things start to escalate between the dogs, we’ll have to reconsider based on what’s best for everyone. We definitely don’t want anyone getting hurt.



As I mentioned earlier, Macey is set to leave late March/early April. We are fostering through the same rescue group as before – Mountain Girl Transport Rescue. Mountain Girl Transport Rescue saves e-listed Chihuahuas, pit bulls, and fearful dogs in Arizona and transports them to no-kill shelters in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. There’s less of a supply/more of a demand in those areas vs. overpopulated Arizona (Maricopa County is the second-largest shelter system in the country and has one of the highest kill rates).


Anyway, she’ll be on the next transport (the February one left last week) and I’m hoping it’ll be easier for us the second time. Adam and I did not do well when we dropped Lilly off for her transport. I sobbed the entire drive home (like 45 minutes). Adam held it together until we pulled into the driveway. We got out of the car and just held each other crying. We had a hard couple of days. I’m hoping that now that we know what to expect it’ll be easier. Plus we know Macey isn’t a good fit for our family in the long run, so hopefully that’ll help too…yeah, I’ll still probably cry.


(look at that drool bubble!)

I know not everyone is able to foster, but there are other ways you can help. Volunteers and donations are always needed. If you don’t already support a rescue organization, please consider donating to the current transport. The February transport left Arizona last week and arrived in Northern Washington over the weekend. There were 50 dogs on that transport and all of them have been placed with adopters or fosters. Donations are still needed for the return trip (you can donate here). You can also learn more about MGTR by checking out their Facebook page. If you want to see some the rescue dogs in their happy homes, check out their rescue partner PB&CHI’s Facebook page.



Friday Five

Friday, February 17, 2017

One – Wildlife World Zoo


Last weekend we went to the zoo to celebrate my friend Michelle’s birthday. The weather was perfect and we had such a fun time. I think the best part for all of us was feeding the giraffes. It’s only 50 cents! This picture is my favorite from the day! I love how it looks like the giraffe is sticking his tongue out at Adam! It makes me laugh every time!



Two – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes


A couple weekends ago we had a Super Bowl party and I made cookie dough cupcakes. They were AMAZING! I will admit that I did cheat a bit and used box cake mix, but I followed the rest of the recipe for the dough center and frosting. Seriously, they were probably the best cupcakes I’ve ever had. So, so good!



Three – Zucchini “Meatballs”


One of my goals this year is to eat less meat, so I’ve been looking up a lot of vegetarian recipes on Pinterest. We’ve tried quite a few new meatless meals, but the zucchini “meatballs” recipe from SkinnyTaste is one of my favorites so far. I’ve made them a few times and they are always a hit. Honestly, I don’t miss the meat in these “meatballs” and would be content only using this recipe for “meatballs” going forward.



Four – Happier with Gretchen Rubin


I don’t know where I’ve been for the past two years, but I’m loving the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast. I mentioned earlier this week that we decided to play tourists in our town thanks to one of her happiness tips, but there are so many other great tips too. I started listening about a month ago and I’m up to episode #30 (out of 104). The episodes are only about 30 minutes, so it’s easy to listen to at least 1 a day. I usually listen to them while I’m driving to/from work. If you like podcasts, but haven’t listened to this one yet, I recommend trying it out (I also recommend Crimetown).



Five – Scotland and Ireland


It’s official! My mom and I are going to Scotland and Ireland in September! We’ve been talking about it for a couple years and a few weeks ago we decided to go for it. We’re planning to travel with the same tour company that we used for our Italy trip. We had such a great experience with them and it made things so much easier for my mom. We loved the convenience and loved that we had plenty of time to explore on our own. I’ve already started looking up things to do/see on our free days! I can’t wait!



http://farmerbell.blogspot.com/     http://alizadventures.blogspot.com/     Cup


 

Exploring AZ: Downtown Mesa

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A few weeks ago I was listening to the ‘Happier with Gretchen Rubin’ podcast and one of the happiness tips was to be a tourist in your own town. So a couple Saturdays ago Adam and I decided to play tourist. 

For those of you who don’t know, we live in Mesa, AZ. There’s a historic downtown area on Main Street that is lined with local shops and restaurants. We actually go downtown pretty often because we love Desert Eagle Brewing Company and I’ve been to the antique mall down there before (I even wrote a shopping trip post about it). However, those are the only 2 places we’ve been and there’s so much more to do/see/eat.



We started our day with lunch at Mangos Mexican Café. I LOVE Mexican food and this place has a lot of positive reviews, so we had to try it out. I ordered a shrimp taco, chicken taco and side of beans and Adam had a shrimp burrito…and it was all really good! We also really liked their salsa. Although my favorite part of the meal was the strawberry agua fresca. Seriously, I could have chugged the entire jug…SO good! We also lucked out with beautiful weather so we were able to sit outside. It was definitely a good start to our day.




Next we went to the Arizona Museum of Natural History. Neither of us had been to the museum before, so it was a fun adventure.



We started in the dinosaur area and worked out way around. We really enjoyed the museum because it focused mainly on Arizona and the surrounding areas. The dinosaurs and cultures featured were mostly from the Southwest.



We don’t have kids, but there seemed to be a lot of activities to keep them interested. There were giant puzzles, a “fossil” dig pit, and gold panning (which we tried and Adam was a panning pro).



Our last stop was the movie room to watch a video about wooly mammoths. It was so interesting to hear about how they lived and see footage of a frozen one that was found in Siberia. The ice had preserved it so well that some of the fur was still intact! Of course after watching that, we had to take a picture of the wooly mammoth on our way out. 



After the museum, we checked out a few of the shops. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures, but they have everything from jewelry and artwork to records and comic books.  You can see the full directory here.

Our last stop was Sweet Cakes Café for a white chocolate cranberry cookie. I was so excited about the cookie that I forgot to take a picture, but trust me, it was delicious!


We had such a fun afternoon touring our city and there’s still so many other places for us to check out. Like the podcast said, most of us are great about making plans to explore other places on vacation, but we don’t think to explore our own cities unless we have company. If you have a downtown area or local museum/site, I’d highly recommend checking them out one weekend. It’s a great way to get to know your city better and support your local shops and restaurants.



P.S. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!


Around the House

Thursday, February 9, 2017

I’ve been making updates around the house over the past couple of months. None of them are big enough to justify a full post, so I decided to capture them all here today:

I’m so bad about updating the chalkboard in the living room. I had “the best is yet to be” on the board all year last year until I updated it for fall and then Christmas. I know I’ll probably never update it for each season and holiday, so I picked a simple message that I can keep up for as long as possible. 




One of my friends got me this sign for Christmas. It says, “Dogs Welcome. People Tolerated.” When I told my mom about the sign, she said that she almost bought something similar for me for Christmas too. 




I finally bought new lamps for the master bedroom. I liked the old ones, but they did not look good with the rest of the room. Can you believe these are from Wal-Mart? They are the Better Homes & Gardens Ceramic Table Lamp in
Soft Blue. The color is more of a gray-blue and it goes perfect with my curtains. 



As I mentioned in my January comparison post, I got new curtains for the living room. I love the texture and weight of these compared to what I previously had. I just wish they came in a longer size so I wouldn’t have to use the clips. I also took out the bottom hem to add extra length. I think they are still a smidge too short, but it’s not that noticeable (in my opinion). I could just lower the rod, but I really don’t want to mess with it…




I also updated the art in the dining room. I used to have a cup rack and my ironstone tea cup collection hanging on this wall, but it was starting to feel too old lady. I switched it out for this picture from HomeGoods. I’ve actually had this up for probably 6+ months and I’m still not sick of it, so we’ll call this update a success! 




So those are the main changes around the house over the past couple of months. I’ve been feeling more inspired lately, so hopefully I’ll have a lot more house-related posts this year than last year.




Clearing the Clutter: Master Bathroom

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Today’s post is the first in my new ‘Clearing the Clutter’ series. Like most households, we have too much stuff. It’s gotten to the point where the clutter is starting to stress me out. I decided to start this series to share my purging/organizing progress and hopefully inspire anyone else who is feeling the same way. I’ve also been weighing everything that I’m throwing out/donating, so I can track how much weight I remove from the house.

I decided to start with the master bathroom because the mess was starting to take over the counter and the visible clutter was driving me crazy every morning. Plus there was so much stuff in the cabinets, it was getting hard to find what I actually needed every morning.



So, I decided to start with the medicine cabinets. I took everything out of both cabinets, wiped down the shelves and only put back what we actually need. I threw out anything that was expired or never used.



Next I cleared out the bottom cabinets. Again, I took everything out, cleaned the shelves, and only put back what we actually use. I also replaced the basket holding my hair appliances with a wood box. The cords and plugs kept getting stuck in the cutouts of the basket. The new, solid box will be so much easier.



Unfortunately, I forgot to take a before picture of this section of the cabinet and it was the worst of them all. This is where I put everything that didn’t have a home or purpose and it got out of control. I also keep all of our travel products in here. I didn’t have a good system for them, so they ended up just stuffed and overflowing in random cosmetic bags. I decided to buy a box to corral all of our travel items. It looks so much cleaner and now I can just pull out that box when I’m packing and grab what I need.



I cleaned out my makeup drawer a couple months ago, but it needed a quick refresh too. I threw out a few items and organized the rest with plastic bins from the dollar store. The first bin is what I use every day. Separating out my essentials makes the morning so much easier.



In total, I removed over 17 pounds of stuff from the master bathroom. Most of it was trashed, but a few items (extra curling iron, hair dryer) were donated and a few items were saved for my mom. It feels so much better to have a clean counter and organized shelves in here. I feel like I’m saving a few minutes every morning by not having to dig through the mess. 

 

Now I just need to stop ordering Target beauty boxes so I don’t end up hoarding random products again! I’ve already passed on the February one, so gold star for me. Anyway, I think I’m going to tackle the master closet next. My boyfriend started making comments about the boot explosion on the floor in there, so I should probably take care of that...


Please make me feel better about my messes and share the room in your house where you most need to 'clear the clutter'.



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