Monthly Archives: October 2015

Along the PCH to Santa Cruz


I started watching the series Veronica Mars long after it was over, but just in time to see the movie. I can’t tell you how many episodes seasons it took me to finally figure out what the PCH in PCHers stood for.

Don’t worry, I figured it out on my own eventually. I never even checked The Google!

If you aren’t aware, PCH refers to California’s beautiful Pacific Coast Highway. Which, as luck would have it, we got to cruise down further on our second day in California!

It truly is a beautiful drive. But first, we stopped for a little diner breakfast. There is more linguiça {Portuguese-style pork sausage} and avocado on this diner menu than I have ever seen elsewhere. Wait, I’ve never seen either on a diner menu!


So I just had to order both… along with some sourdough toast. #WhenInSanFrancisco


Bellies full, we ventured on. The drive is most beautiful, in fact, when you have a nice chauffeur-friend like Shondra stopping along the way, not only for photo ops…

But also to check out a local market…


The market in Pescadero has lovely local produce and cheeses, freshly baked bread and all kinds of locally produced goods. Yes, that is a beer in Rob’s hand. It’s this one:


He didn’t drink it straightaway. Instead, it made for a perfect breakfast stout for us on Game Day in San Fran. Though we did stop for a drink at the local tavern in Pescadero, Duarte’s, which reminded me of the Old West.

Jenny and Shondra promptly reminded me that we, in fact, were in the Old West. HA!

Shondra overheard some folks talking about a goat farm nearby. First, you need to know how much I heart this video:

Then, you need to know that Jenny said, “Well, these goats aren’t going to see themselves!” So away we went. Upon arrival, when we saw this…

Photo courtesy of Jenny

{Photo courtesy of Jenny}

That’s when Jenny and I, almost on cue, yelled, “Haaaayyyyy!”

Then the goats…

And goatees – ha!

{Photo courtesy of Jenny}

{Photo courtesy of Jenny}

Harley Goat Farm has a nice little shop with lots of goat cheese and other goat milk products.

{Photo courtesy of Jenny}

{Photo courtesy of Jenny}

Funny, I’m the only one in the group who enjoys goat cheese!


We were all in a silly mood. Jenny even got a selfie with a goat.

{Photo courtesy of Jenny of course - its a Selfie!}

{Photo courtesy of Jenny, of course – its a Selfie!}

It was a nice stop, but we were back off  to the coast.


Shondra grew up in Santa Cruz. She says much has changed since she’s lived there. Our first stop was a cool little area with a few tasting rooms and restaurants. We had a different plan for lunch, so we just stopped in for a bevvy and a look around…

Even here, it’s dog friendly!


We didn’t love the beers at this Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery, but we loved the taproom and patio!

Then, a little sparkling wine tasting! I love me some bubbly!


Shondra drove us around the coast of Santa Cruz and pointed out all sorts of places from her childhood. Then we stopped for lunch at her childhood friend’s family’s restaurant!

As I mentioned in my previous post about our trip to California, if you choose a vacation destination where you can visit a friend, you just might get to experience some things you wouldn’t have otherwise.

El Toro Bravo only has a beer and wine licenses; so their margaritas and sangrias are made with wine only.

I don’t know why I ordered a margarita when I don’t like the sweet and sour mix that is so often used! Jenny’s sangria was much, much better. Ordering remorse!

But there was no ordering remorse when it came to lunch! The chimichangas here are grilled!


And they were all sorts of deliciousness. We each had our own, but truth be told, they could have been split.
IMG_4484Our last stop before heading back north was to a very special winery. Shondra and her mom lived at Bargetto Winery for a bit while she was a baby.


What’s more is that when I did in-home wine tastings with the Traveling Vineyard, Bargetto supplied our pinot grigio! We just had to stop for a tasting.


We did the Reserve Tasting. Our bartender had to open a new bottle of one of the higher end reds for us. He used this interesting new-to-me aerator!

Just empty  the bottle into the vessel…

And then immediately empty it back into the bottle!


It was the perfect day along the coast. The next day was Packer Game Day, which you can read about here. Did you know the San Francisco 49ers Levi Stadium is actually located in Santa Ana, which is a short train ride away from San Jose? That’s where Shondra secured us a stay for the night to make the next day go ever-so-smoothly.

Describe one of your favorite drives or day trips.


Sunny Cali


We didn’t go out to California just to watch the Packers beat the 49ers

We were there visiting a friend who recently moved back.

If there is any advice I can give about deciding where to travel…

it’s to take friends and family up on the offer to come visit them.

Here’s why:

  1. You get to spend time with them!
  2. They most likely will know the area better than any guidebook; so you’ll do cooler things you wouldn’t have otherwise.
  3. You will probably save some money if they let you crash with them.

Our flight left at about 7:30am on a Friday morning.

Is it just me, MSPers; or is the security line at the airport slower than ever? We arrived at the gate and immediately boarded the plane. No coffee for me – specifically, no Americano. 😦

Instead, our friend Jenny {who set this whole trip in motion!} bought us a little breakfast booze.


They had Screwdrivers while I opted to add a little Bailey’s to my in-flight coffee. And who can resist Delta’s Biscoff Cookies?!


We landed around 9am San Fran-time and were greeted by Shondra with ice-cold liter-sized bottles of water.

{Note to self: Do this for anyone visiting you. It is the nicest gesture because everyone gets dehyrdrated when flying!}

Shondra drove us along the PCH {Pacific Coast Highway} making our way toward her place in Moss Beach. We stopped a bit a long the way…
IMG_4331…like to see what she calls “the Best Taco Bell ever”.


Imagining why? Well, this view:


Rob and I instantly noticed that many dogs were off-leash on the beach here, enjoying it along with everyone else, including the surfers!

We stopped for a little breakfast at the Montara Cafe and Bakery located in, you guessed it, Montara.


We had no idea what a treat we were in for!IMG_4336

Now was the chance to get great coffee!


…and a very cool menu. Jenny, Rob and I all opted for different Kalua Pork dishes. I haven’t had that since we’d been in Hawaii! We dined outside basking in the California sun; but I forgot to take any food photos until my last bite. DOH!


In the afternoon, we walked along Miramar Beach in Half Moon Bay.


I decided to call it Glitter Beach instead. I love the shimmering sand!


But the most incredible thing about this beach was the whale-watching, which is a total anomaly this time of year! I was looking up tours before we left and found that the season is generally December through March. Well, here we were in October and we didn’t need to spend top dollar to take a tour because we could see them from shore!


It was too difficult to catch photos of them and enjoy the views to the fullest, so you won’t see any here. But here is a link to an article that was written the day before we arrived.

We weren’t the only ones gathered ’round to see these whales:


We had a snack at the Miramar Beach Restaurant where dogs were as welcome as they are on the beach. The only caveat: “No pets on the furniture.” OMG – I love this place.

Me to Rob: “Can we retire here?”

He just smiled.

Those seated near the beachfront with the ocean view could see the whales, too!

We walked back to our vehicle along a little trail and were perplexed by this sign:


I hit it up on Facebook and the best explanation was by our friend Lisa: “…horse country. Cyclists yield to hikers. Both cyclists & hikers yield to horses.” I guess it’s just respectful to do so because horses were here first? So, more of a historical tradition than a practical one.

Then it was off to a brewery that Shondra said she knew we’d love. 


I like the digs…

FullSizeRender (1)

And good to know that walkens are welcome. Ha!


The taproom was nice and we loved the beer selection.


I think my fave of the bunch was the Lean Mean Vanilla Bean Porter. This brewery did NOT disappoint.


After checking in Chez Shondra and saying hello to Cali cat {for calico, not California. Ha!}, we went for an early dinner at Shondra’s favorite little local spot – Moss Beach Distillery.


And of course, this place was also…

I enjoyed watching a Griffon dog anxiously wait for his daddy to get back from getting drinks while he sat with his momma. He was so sweet!

Moss Beach Distillery is not actually a distillery, but I didn’t get that far into reading why…


Shondra knew exactly when we should get there to snag a seat near the fire, overlooking the ocean to watch the sun set!


And we scored that spot…


…as well as a bottle of half-priced wine during happy hour. Oh how we are big, bold Zinfandel lovers!


While the weather was mild, the sun was still hot and starting to burn my forehead, so Rob gave me his hat for a bit. We had to take a Wineaux friend photo!


Shondra and I dined on scrumptious Happy Hour food while Jenny and Rob went with burgers.


As the sun slowly set over the ocean, a fire was lit…

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And we ended our night polishing off three bottles…


Not bad for old Wineaux friends, hey?! It was a perfect first day in California. That’s only the beginning… 🙂

Where was your last vacation visiting friends?



Sophie Jean Fell off the Bed!


Sophie and Shamrock Saturday


{Photo Source: Sitters & Friends Sally & Ryan}

Tuesday night, in the middle of the night, our dear Sophie Jean fell out of bed. Yes, our dogs sleep with us. Yes, I know it’s not the best thing for any of us.

I didn’t even hear it. In fact, I only woke to the light on in the bedroom and my husband walking around and had to ask him what was going on.

“Sophie fell out of the bed. She can barely walk. She’s limping. She may have bruised or broken her leg.”

And it was true. She limped. We had to take her outside and set her on the grass to do her business. But that was difficult since she couldn’t put any weight on her front right paw. Poor Jean!

I felt so bad for her. I couldn’t get her an appointment to see the vet until 2pm on Wednesday. When I went home from work to pick her up, she almost seemed worse.

She still limped when we got to the vet; but she was also shaking pretty badly because she hates it there. But all the while the doctor pulled and prodded at her limp leg, she didn’t make a sound. We were hoping to find out where it hurt her the most so that they could localize where they could take x-rays.

That didn’t happen. And by the time we left, she was putting a little pressure on her paw, as if to say,

“See, Momma! I’m fine! I don’t need to be here. Let’s just go home.”

We decided to give her some pain meds and anti-inflammatories and re-evaluate the x-rays in a few days. In the meantime, little Jean was confined to a kennel during the night and when we were away at work. She hasn’t been in a kennel since she was a pup; but it was a good way to keep her in one place and to stop her from getting up on the furniture and jumping down.

Luckily, by Thursday night, Sophie seemed good as new!

I canceled the x-ray appointment and am continuing to restrict her activity just in case it’s the pain meds that are making her feel like she can do anything. I am so glad she hasn’t broken anything!

In the meantime, something came to our door to distract us…

That’s right, it’s the monthly BarkBox!


The dogs know the word BarkBox as well as they know outside, treat, bu-bye and walk.

Here’s this month’s loot:


The little to-go container of treats was helpful when I took Sophie to the vet. I gave her a few to distract her so she wouldn’t try to jump up and down on the bench like she always does there when she is nervous. I didn’t want her to make her paw/leg worse!

These treats have become our new breakfast treats:


We only feed our dogs in the evening; so in the morning they get a few breakfast treats. We use these bigger treats for breakfast and smaller “trainer” treats as rewards.

Shamrock usually goes straight for the toys in the box, but he didn’t seem too fond of the Peekaboo-Hoo this month.

I think it is the hat that freaks him out. When we first rescued him, he was afraid of all men, especially if one was wearing a hat.

I am quite thankful that Sophie seems to be doing better; but I think the pooches are grateful that they are still receiving their BarkBoxes! Click here if you’d like to get your pooch a BarkBox. The link will add a free box to your subscription and to Sophie and Sham’s!

Happy Saturday!


The Football



It’s been a while since I’ve written up in here.

It’s been quite a month. Since my last post about my birthday weekend, it’s been a whirlwind!

Not only did we win that Monday night Packer game I spoke about, but we had a ton of fun. Here’s how:

Step 1:

Start at Townline for some lunch and a drink. It was Double Bubble – aka Happy Hour.


Step 2:

Take a shuttle bus to Lambeau Field.


We had plans to meet up with a ton of people; but it didn’t happen, which made me sad. Things get crazy after you’ve had a little Crown Royal Apple pre-game…


{Note: The Crown Royale Apple bag is green and gold!}

You start to lose track of time.

Step 3:

Then you find a new brewery. The opening hours didn’t work for us the last time were in the area. But this time we couldn’t miss Badger State Brewing Company because it was highly recommended by my brother.


The patio area of Badger State Brewing Company is huge; but it really needs to be for game day because it’s just across the road from Lambeau Field.

Then there’s the beer list…

IMG_4297(1)You’ll find Badger State’s beers on the chalkboard on the right and other Wisconsin draft brews on the left. There are so many choices!


But we saw this…


I thought I should try Lakefront Brewery’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale. I am not normally a huge fan of pumpkin beers, with the exception for Pumking. That may be why – nothing lives up to it. So I asked the bartender about it.  I’m completely paraphrasing here…

Beertender: Most pumpkin beers aren’t that good. But this one is exceptional.

Me: I know. I don’t really like them in general, but my go-to is Pumking.

Beertender: Yes, Pumking is top notch. But this one is something special.

Then I read that it was aged in brandy barrels. I had to have it.

I was not disappointed!

I also spotted a bottle of the Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout in the cooler behind the bar. It was one of the few Central Waters Bourbon barrel beers I had not had. So it had to be done as well.

We weren’t hungry, but I think next time Rob will fancy himself some of these:



Then you meet some really cool opposing team fans and buy them drinks.


{Photo courtesy of Haley!}

Then you hang out for a while while listening to a cool bluegrass band! Seriously, it’s fun to meet opposing team fans. I’m in the camp that we wouldn’t have football if we didn’t have opposing teams. So let’s hang out… and then may the best team win. 😉

We won that Monday night game – 38 to 28.


Then, would you believe that I went to the following away game? How did this happen?

We haven’t gone on an annual international trip this year and I was feeling pretty sad about that. However, we were able to coordinate a trip to visit a friend in sunny California with our friend Jenny. (More on that trip, soon!)

And we ended up at Levi Stadium to watch our Pack play the 49ers!

Well, we just had to check out the stadium hosting the Super Bowl if we plan to be going to there this year, right?!


Rob wasn’t as much of fan of the stadium as I was. Remember we were in San Francisco – wine country – so there is wine!

IMG_4497And I’m not talking box nor tap wine here, but by the glass – out of a bottle! Yes, it’s expensive – it’s a stadium; but I liked the selection.


And how could I not get a Salumi and Cheese Platter as my stadium lunch/snack! {Right, Biz?!} All with a little bubbly? This kiosk was so close to our seats, too. Win-Wine! {See what I did there?}


Still, something interesting that I noticed at Levi Stadium that I haven’t at Lambeau is that people were having food and drink orders delivered to their seats! They can right from their app!


I liked that idea! There’s a $5 delivery fee; but if you are really into the game or don’t want to fight the crowds, it might be worth it. And guess what?

Another Packer win!


Then, this weekend, we celebrated the wedding of some wonderful friends. I loved the idea of guests signing corks!

We didn’t know anyone else there… but decided to get a hotel room and just have a nice night out for just the two of us. Not only was the wedding beautiful, but we met some wonderful people! And since it was at The Medina, we had a bit of time to go bowling.

Yes, we did! I did not have the outfit to bowl; but Rob bought me some brand new bowling socks from the vending machine and we were good to go.


We ended the night in the hot tub. It was the perfect 24 hour vacation. It’s not that we needed the vacation. (See above!) But it was a great opportunity to spend some time out alone – well, sort of!

And then, this past weekend, we had another Packer win. This has been an exciting year for football! We are 5 and 0. It’s still early; but exciting nonetheless.

Go Pack Go!


So why haven’t I titled this post The Packers, rather than The Football? Because Rob’s alma mater – the University of Michigan – has been rockin’ it, too.

They hired Jim Harbaugh to turn the team around. Everyone thought in a few years, he could move things in the right direction. However, no one would have anticipated he could do it this year, without his own personal recruits! It’s still early there, too; but 4 and 1 is pretty darn good when it’s not expected. Oh, and did I mention the last three were shut-outs?!!!

My husband is very happy.

And that makes football season even more enjoyable for me!

But this whirlwind month has not ended! We still have a really quick trip to Chicago planned to meet up with our Aussie Mum & Dad. Anyone know of a Packer bar there? We might have to watch a game!

Now picture all of this craziness and coming back to work each week, trying to catch up… But most importantly, we couldn’t do all of these little bursts of travel without our dog sitters this year. Thank you Jen, Sally and Ryan. We are forever grateful!

Go Pack Go!

Do you love football season?

What is your favorite team?

Do you have any traditions that make football season special to you?