Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dublin.San Fran.Napa

I was bummed when Conor told me that he had a two week business trip in Dublin, CA....but then the wonderful news came: Dublin is 1 hour from wine country.  He had to say no more, I was on board for this trip!  Since I don't have a new job yet, I was able to accompany him for the whole time.  The only problem we had with our plans was what to do with our cats....? We haven't met any friends in AZ yet, so there was no one to watch them.  We were left with no choice, but to hire a PET NANNY, hahaha.  I never thought I would use those two words together.  We are officially crazy cat people.  But it worked out well, and I was free to make my way to Napa.

Conor worked about 10 minutes away from our hotel, so I still got to see him for lunch everyday.  Some of you might be wondering what I did in a hotel all day, but surprisely I stayed very busy and entertained.  Did lots of reading on my kindle!  I only began to get some cabin fever on the last two days.  Conor and I had a blast in California, especially finding new places to eat everynight including some pretty great happy hours, amazing mexican, and some of the best raspberry cider I've ever had!  We both loved the area are hoping that Conor may be able to do a rotation in Dublin....

Dublin is also only 45 minutes away from San Fran!  We went into the city twice and had drinks and dinner with a couple of our friends, Lindsey Cochran & Dave Aron.  They both live in the North Beach area, so we ate some awesome italian food on both visits.  It was soooo great to see them both; hopefully we will be making more visits there sometime soon.

The highlight of the trip: Napa! 

The weather was great, the scenery breathtaking, the wine plentiful, the food delicious, and the company the best! We spent Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning/afternoon in Napa.  We had gotten a couple of recommendations on where to go, but we also chose some random wineries we wanted to check out.  Conor didn't get off work til lunch time, so by the time we made it to Napa most wineries were closed.  However, we did have time to make a quick stop at Robert Mondavi.  We had been trying to avoid the touristy locations, but we were on a time crunch.  It was fun, but of all the wineries in Napa, I would not recommend a stop there.  On a side note, in the parking lot we saw a group of "tourists" pounding some white wine and a huge bag of doritos! Mmmmm, those cheesy chips must really bring out the flavors of the wine...delicous!

That night we had dinner at the marketplace in downtown Napa.  On recommendation from our friend Dave, we ate at a place called HogIsland Oyster Co.  Conor and I both love raw oysters and were not disappointed.  Raw oysters, adult mac & cheese, an oyster poh'boy, and a bottle of white wine later, we were doing quite well.  Dave also told us to check out this wine bar called the Bounty Hunter.  It is a must stop if you head to Napa.  Lots of delicious and local (obviously) wines by the glass.  I could have stayed all night.  We met a crazy couple from Texas that wanted to become our best friends.  They offered to let us stay in their hotel, but we graciously turned them down.  Gotta love meeting people on vacation.

Day 2 in Napa was a big success.  First stop was Domaine Carneros for a sparkling wine flight and cheese board!  Two of my most favorite things.  They have some beautiful property with a great view...and table service, which I came to love and want for all my wine tastings.  I loved one of the cheeses, midnight moon by cyprus  hill.  They also make humboldt fog which has been my absolute favorite cheese for years.  The whole experience was great.  I pulled the industry card, saying my family owns a bar, and was offered lots of extra tastings...yum yum.  Most of the wineries are beginning to harvest...and you could smell it in the air.  Next stop was Clos Du Val...the overall experience was a little boring, but the limited release white wines were great.  Then we were on to Mumm Napa for more sparkling wine!
We tried their sparkling reds for something different and loved them both. 
A whole new world of sparkling wine has opened up to me.  The last stop of the day was Hall.  This was a wonderful small, family owned winery.  We received excellent service here while sitting in a small picnic area shaded by trees.  Their merlots and cabernets were terrific.  We had had plenty of wine by this point and called it quits for the day.

First stop on Day 3: Artesa.  This winery had one of the best views
It was set up on a hill, so the tasting room was somewhat "underground."  A very modern winery with lots of art, very different from anything else we saw.  The wine was nothing to write home about it, but the location was worth the visit (it's on some back roads so you have a chance to get off the main highways for awhile.)

Our very last winery and our favorite....KEENAN!!!  And not just 'cause of the name.  The wines were incredible, unlimited and large tastings, complimentary cheese board, and an impromtu tour.  You have to make an appointment to visit this winery, which is nice because then you have the full attention of whomever is serving you.  The tasting room is an old building which houses their wine barrels.  It is set in the middle of a mountain hidden in the woods.  Such a different experience from all the other wineries we visited.  We had picked up some meat and cheeses on way up there, and had a picnic on their deck when we finished with our tasting.  A perfect weekend with my husband!

Already getting the infamous Simpson purple teeth

It was a very successful trip...10 bottles of wine later.  We are trying to acquire a small collection and attempt to cellar a few for some years, but we'll see if we can hold off on consumption!

Monday, September 27, 2010

First Month in AZ

It's finally fall, but it's still hot.  Today: a nice 106 degrees.  So while the rest of you are enjoying your sweaters, uggs, hot apple cider, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin soup, and just plain old pumpkins...I'm looking at a cactus and sweating.  I've finally put up some fall decorations which I'm pumped about, so that will have to be enough of a fix for now.  Not sure if or when this area will get some pumpkins, but I am on the lookout!

At our neighborhood pool

Conor and I are finally settled in and can begin to call our house "home."  Most of the organizing is done, and we are able to relax.  We've still been traveling a lot; I haven't been here for longer than a week at a time, but slowly I am learning the area.  We have had so much fun using some of our wedding gifts for the first time: pasta maker, pizza stone, seafood set, new wine glasses, etc!!! Thanks to all, we have thoroughly beeen enjoying all of our new things.

Now that we've had homemade pasta, I don't think I can ever go back to buying it...sooo much better!

As you can see, we've been eating & drinking quite well!

We've also ventured out a little bit, and had a fun date night at a place called The Living Room.  Very good food and wine and of course our favorite......cheese boards!  We've also discovered that a golf course right down the street from us, Lone Tree Golf Club, has a 2 person scramble on Friday nights called the Friday Fiasco.  We've played once and took 2nd place.  I'm pretty impressed my performance considering we actually used some of my shots, and there were no whiffs :-) Hopefully this will become a regular occurence in my golf game.  It was such a fun night...we're hoping that Conor will be able to leave work early every once in awhile so we can keep playing in this!

We'll keep ya posted on how we're enjoying Arizona once we venture out more.  Next on my list: find a pumpkin farm and an Oktoberfest!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Marissa's Wedding Week

After only a week of unpacking in Arizona, Conor and I flew up north for his sister, Marissa's, wedding! We spent a few days in Spokane & Spirit Lake before making our way to Montana. One afternoon in Spirit Lake was spent at the White Horse Saloon. This is one of the 3 bars on main street, and the Simpson Family's favorite. The bartender greeted us with $1 can of Hamms for the boys and small bottles of cooks with a side of orange juicefor the girls. Sometimes the bartender will give us glasses full of ice with straws as well. This we have dubbed as mimosas Spirit Lake style! Add in two orders of fried pickles (another Simpson family favorite) and you've got a perfect afternoon.

We left Spirit Lake on Sunday morning for a full week in Montana. Once you get off of I-90 it's a gorgeous drive to the Keenan's house on Flathead Lake. The ride was uneventful, but of course included a stop at M & S meats for some buffalo jerkey....mmmm so good! It was great to see Conor's family, as this was our first visit since we got married. I was officially a part of the Keenan family! This visit was my favorite yet.

One of our first nights there was spent on the Keenan's undeveloped property right on the lake. We got take-out from the Big Fork Inn (his family's restaurant) and brought a few bottles of wine. I was in heaven eating tootsie rolls (the most amazing appetizer the BFI offers) and drinking red wine with my new family.
Another highlight of the week was The Float.  Marissa & Sam got all their wedding party, friends, and family together to float down the Swan River.  Conor went and purchased many fun floaties including hippos, an island (which we called the honeymoon suite), and a jet ski.  My best friend Amanda rode the jet ski and was quite successful, although she felt like she had ridden a horse for hours after!  Lots of PBR, Coors lite, and my personal favorite, Twisted Tea, was consumed by all. 

After float, I went to Marissa's bachelorette party at her friend's cabin, also on Flathead Lake.  Fun was had by all over great cocktails, food, coversation, and skinny dipping!  The lake was quite chilly that evening, and the plunge kinda took your breath away.  The swim was quickly ended due to a lightening storm that began while we were all in the water.  Ruined our skinny dipping fun, but was incredible to watch!

The next day we had Marissa's rehearsal dinner which took place at Sam's parents house.  It was a delicious dinner, with once again terrific drinks and great company.  I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Conor's family this week and really got to know Sam & Marissa a whole lot better.  They are so great together and will have many years of happiness I am sure.  Also included with these two is their daughter Aria.  I'm pretty excited to be an instant Aunt!

After the rehearsal dinner, Conor & I met up with my parents who were now in Montana for the wedding.  We went to the Garden Bar for drinks.  Anyone who has been to Bigfork has been the this bar.  It's a classic.  It's also where Conor bought my dad a shot of Pendleton, preparing him for the news that he was going to ask me to marry him.  Lots of fun memories from there.

Finally, the day of the wedding!  As most of you know, I love weddings!  Love them! Marissa got married down on her family's property.  Her dad, Bob, put in a lot of hard to make the site beautiful and it was!  With the lake as a backdrop, the whole thing was breathtaking.  And Marissa was an absolutely stunning bride with a gorgeous dress!
The reception was held at the Bigfork Inn.  Again delicious food and cocktails.  There were a few specialty drinks offered, one of which was a Bloody Mary.  Since this week I have been on a bloody mary craving, mmmm!  Sam & Marissa had their ice-cream truck/trailor at the reception which was a huge hit.  My personal favorite is the Lemon Dill.  They have a shop in Whitefish called SweetPeaks.  If you are ever in the neighborhood be sure to check them out!  Back to the wedding...for entertainment they hired Erik Fingers.  He is an incredible one man band and was a huge hit.  The dance floor was full all night.  He even lets people in the crowd play his washboards, which quickly became popular.  Marissa and her dad were out there together, and then Sam presented all the bridesmaids with spoons for some more washboard playing.  Even Scott & Shari were caught on the floor late in the evening, in one of my favorite pictures of them! :-)
All in all a great night! I already can't wait for the next trip to Montana.

Monday, September 6, 2010

When in... Vegas...

The day after TJ & Erin's wedding, we got up early and hit the road to Vegas. About 6 hours later we arrived at the Monte Carlo. This hotel had the most powerful, loud, and scary toilets ever! It never failed to surprise us with every use. Ryan was already at the hotel and waiting for us. He had already been successful in the Casinos and was ready to party!

We headed straight to the pool for drinks and some floating in the lazy river! Randomly, I ran into my friend Andrea Wilkins (now Andrea Leslie) from grade school. What a small small world Spokane is that you run into people from home everywhere you go.

The rest of the trip was a blur or eating, drinking, and gambling. Later that night we saw a peep show called... The Peep Show... where Ryan got pulled up on stage to meet Holly and the girls. So there I was in Vegas, with my brother, watching a peep show together...kinda weird. But the show was great and I would definitely recommend it. After a late night dinner we somehow wandered back to our room where Ryan and Conor were pretty pumped about their black ($100) chips!

The next day we went to the Wet Republic pool party at the MGM grand. There was lots of people-watching, including this one girl completely done up and wearing high heels (at the pool!... one of many actually...) who booty danced for about 2 hours right in front of us... She got annoying very quickly. The drinks were delicious, particularly the best pina coladas we have ever had! Later that night, we were back at the Monte Carlo hitting the tables (mostly blackjack and roulette). Ryan & I were very successful, but the same can't be said for Conor...some guys just can't handle Vegas! We went to the Playboy club (cool but somewhat boring) and then the ghost bar...which we all loved and the view was spectacular! On our way back to the hotel we made a pit stop at the Spearmint Rhino...enough said there.My only complaint of the weekend was Ryan's snoring. I spent the nights slapping him with the room service menu to get him to stop, pretty entertaining from Conor's perspective. By the third day, we were pretty exhausted (especially Ry from fending off housekeeping with "Go Back, Go Back!!!" from the bathroom). So after a late lunch, we hit the road back to Phoenix!

Posted by: Laura (accidentally signed in under Conor...)