Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gift Giving and GIVEAWAY!

Lucky enough (or, lucky for you!), I was contacted again by CSN Stores to hold a giveaway for my readers. CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can find everything from cookware to cribs or even your most specific needs such as a bathroom vanity or a bird cage.  

Of their 200+ sites, I picked one site where all my favorite gifts can be found, www.cookware.com.

This is the time of year where it seems like I'm constantly running out to find the best gifts for so many different celebrations... Graduations, Housewarmings, and Bridal Showers galore!  But every time, I end up getting my "go-to" favorite gift, bar-ware accessories!

If you are selected the winner, you can pick from all their offerings to use your $50 Gift Certificate, but naturally, I had to share some of my faves....

Metrokane Classic Rabbit Corkscrew in Silver for 54.99 

One my favorite gifts I received when I graduated from college was a fancy wine opener, and you better believe that tool gets abused on a weekly basis! 

Certified International Bubble Green Margarita (Set of 4)  $41.99

Throw in a bottle of pre-mixed margaritas and some rim salt and you've given the recipient no excuses to host a Margarita Party!

Primula 1.5 Gallon Iced Tea Dispenser $35.49

Another great gift  - Summer Sangria anyone? 

To Enter: 
  • Please be a "follower" of this blog.
  • Leave a comment telling me what is your favorite "go to" gift
  • If you blog about this giveaway, come back and leave a second entry (comment) with the link to your post.
  • Please leave your email or a way I can contact you if you are chosen the winner.
The contest will remain open until 12pm EST Friday July 9th, 2010.  Winner will be chosen by random.org.

Good Luck!

Monday, June 28, 2010

[Inspired by] Jen Garner in Valentine's Day

I actually saw Valentine's Day with my best friend when it came it in theaters back in February.  Even though we only went because of the all-star cast, we still had low expectations.  Overall it was cute, not great, and if they would have cut a few storylines (only created to shove in more big names, eh hmm Anne Hathaway) it probably could have been better.

Either way, I like to think that Jen Garner and Ashton Kutcher are the "main" characters in this ensemble cast.  Which is perfect because I love them both.... does that count as a guilty pleasure??

Anywho, I LOVED Jen Garner's cute-as-a-school-teacher's-apple outfit that she was wearing for the majority of the first half of the film.  So much so, I previously made a polyvore styled spinoff and even 'wishlisted' certain items....
Inspired: Jen Garner, Valentine's DayFashion Trends & Styles - Polyvore

Since I re-watched the movie on Netflix yesterday, I thought I'd post my finds incase any one wants to snatch up these adorable inspired by (or in some cases, exact) pieces.

Marc by Marc Jacobs Star Cardigan - Bluefly $149

BDG Pleated Skirt - Urban Outfitters $48

Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Hillier Hobo - Zappos Couture $398

Seychelles Kick Up Your Heels Wedge - Cusp $90

Apple Charm Necklace - Couture Candy $42

Michael Kors Silver Watch - Lord & Taylor $195

Do you ever find yourself trying to recreate outfits inspired by movie characters? (other than anything Audrey Hepburn, ha!).... 

Happy Shopping!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

[Travel] US Open 2010 at Pebble Beach

You may recall, one of my previous surprises for the Husband was Sunday tickets to the US Open at Pebble Beach (this was his wedding present).    So basically, the past four days of travel were planned around this one day of golf greatness.

We decided against staying in the Monterey area since rooms at the Best Western were $500+ a night due to USGA traffic for the tournament.  So we stayed at our more plush room (yes, a Sheraton is plush next to Best Western is it not?) and just drive down for the day. 

We arrived around 8am at the "parking area" which was about 10 miles from the course.  Due to USGA rules for the tournament, we would be checked before boarding the shuttle.... items prohibited included:
  • Cell phones - including any cell phones with photographic capabilities
  • PDAs and/or other portable e-mail devices
  • Noise-producing electronic devices (including MP3 players)
  • Cameras and/or camcorders
  • All food and beverage
  • Bags larger than 8"W x 8"H x 8"D
So sad!  No cameras!  I don't even care about distracting golfers in the middle of their backswing... I just wanted to pictures of the famed cliffs and views.   So yeah, no pictures from the tournament to share in this post.

Instead just share some of our highlights.


Err... more like Freezing.  It had to be only in the 40s when we arrived that morning.  It stayed cool (and overcast) until 1pm, when the sun broke through and warmed up the course.  I couldn't get over how many people were wearing shorts and t-shirts, we were def layered up for the event.

When we got there, we followed South African golfer Retief Goosen for the first 2 holes, then walked the coarse. Around 10:30am we came back to the 1st hole and grabbed a seat in the grandstand by the green.  We watched 3 or 4 rounds of golfers play the hole (including one of my favs, Ricky Barnes).  Then we took a snack break back in the Trophy Club tent. 

After sharing some French fries and warming up a bit, we hung out at famed holes 17 (faces the ocean) and 18 (hugs the cliffs).

Then we went back to Hole 1 to see the bigwigs get announced and tee off.  We saw Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Tiger Woods (groan), Graeme McDowell, and leader at the time Dustin Johnson.  We tried to follow Phil for a bit, but the crowds were insane.  We made a nice little home at hole 7 (another hole of note at Pebble Beach) and watched the golfers play through.   After that we decided to grab a shuttle back to the car and try to hit the road before traffic got too nuts.  (We apparently weren't alone in that thought process).

All and all, the husband (and I) had a fantastic time and Irishman Graeme McDowell took home the championship.

We look forward to getting tickets to the US Open at Merion (here in Pennsylvania) in 2013 :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

[Travel] Leaving my heart (and grabbing a jacket) in San Francisco

Friday morning we had another hearty homemade breakfast at the Inn then headed south, back to San Francisco.

We had booked an afternoon Alcatraz tour, because while both the Husband and myself have been to the city before (just never together) neither of us have done the tour.  So we unpacked at our hotel and headed out to the Wharf to site see and kill time before the tour.

Afterwards, we stopped back at the hotel to warm up (and detangle my overly windblown full of knots hair), and figure out where we wanted to go to dinner.  Starving, since we hadn't eaten since breakfast, we decided to go grab some soup and sourdough breadbowls to warm up.
We ate upstairs at the Bistro Boudin and started with Mussels Marniere, then each had our own sourdough bread bowl of crab and corn chowder.

Afterwards we were going to attempt to meet up with a couple we are close friends with who were also visiting the city, but we all agreed we'd just get together the next morning instead.  We had another round of drinks then headed back for the night.

Saturday morning we were up bright and early.  We decided to walk from the Wharf up to Union Square to do some shopping, see our friends, and grab breakfast on the way.  It was fun walking through the different sections of the city- North Beach, Chinatown, and Union Square.  We did some window shopping then walked back to Wharf to rest our feet, drink some beers, and watch some of the US Open.... (sigh, husbands....) And naturally I took a bunch of pictures on the way...
Union Square
the ubiquitous cable car
the financial district
all downhill from here.... or is it uphill??
Lombard Street

After that we grabbed dinner at The House (on a recommendation of the lovely Anh) and it was fantastic!  A bit crowded from the festival that was going on in North Beach, but we had a great dinner.  We headed back to the hotel because we had an early wake up call the next morning....

...and off to Pebble Beach we go :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

[Travel] Gimme Grapes... Wine Tasting Tour

When I started planning the first leg of our trip to Sonoma County, I was overwhelmed.  With over 300 wineries in the county, I was clueless where to start.

I did a bit a researching and online recommendation reading and decided to hire Gene Warren of Healdsburg Area Winery Tours to take all the guess work out.  For $100 each for the day, Gene drove us around for 6 hours and took us to 5 wineries he hand selected based on our varietal preferences. 

Not having to spend hours researching and comparing vineyards and locations, the fear of dui's, and having an educated and experienced local giving us the low down was worth way more than we paid. 

We were picked up at 10am and started our day in Alexander Valley (which is known for the cabernet and chardonnay varietals).  We drove up to a picturesque estate at the top of hill, Robert Young Estate Winery.

The Tasting Room is in the winery here

We were even lucky enough to get a tour of the Wine Cave.
French oak barrels for aging
the events room in the cave
(how awesome would this be for a small wedding, rehearsal dinner, or anniversary party??)
Buds and Bunches Tee - Anthropologie, summer '10 (on sale here)
Hinge Printed Cotton Skirt - Nordstrom, summer '10 (on sale here)
Kimchi Blue Braided O-Ring Stretch Belt - Urban Outfitters, spring '10 (here)
Stormy Grey Morning After Mini Bag (shown below) - Rebecca Minkoff, winter '10 (here or here)

Next up was DeLormier, home to the cutest cocker spaniel that I didn't get to take a picture of because I was too busy playing. 

The tasting we had here was awesome.  We were able to taste two wines side by side to compare them, like a Cabernet Sauvignon from 2005 vs 2006.  We went through so many pairs, I lost count.

I mean, it was just about noon.
Tasting Room

After that we decided it was time to take our picnic lunch and get a breather (and some water).  Gene drove us to our next destination, Dutcher Crossing, where we picnic'd outside among the most beautiful landscape east of Hawaii.
We picked up some gourmet sandwiches at Oakville Grocery before we got picked up and they just hit the (half buzzed) spot.  Then the lovely ladies of Dutcher Crossing brought us some delicious homemade dessert. YUM!
After lunch, we had a tasting in Dutcher Crossing's tasting room and from there things get a bit hazy.  We moved further into the Russian River Valley (king of Pinot- my fav), so I'll cut the commentary and just finish posting pictures....

The gardens at C. Donatiello...
lots of lemons

Last up, Arista Winery, with their tasty pinot noirs and beautiful Japanese gardens...
miles of vines...
little worse for wear....

Once again, time for bed before the sun sets... ha.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

[Travel] Off to Sonoma

We flew out last Wednesday morning, from Philly to San Francisco.  We got to the airport a bit early, so we stopped at Legal Seafood to eat some breakfast and down some morning beverages (mimosas for me, John Daly's for him) and watch the World Cup before boarding.

We landed at SFO, picked up our hot rental car... (no real pic so here is a badass pic from the web), and headed to Healdsburg.

We stayed at Healdsburg Inn on the Plaza and we don't have enough great things to say about this Inn and the so so very nice staff.  The Inn has a older feel and tons of charm, but doesn't have the "old" feel and um, smell, that some other Inn's we've been to have.  

Along with the requisite full service breakfast buffet that is included each morning, a Happy Hour of wine and cheese... and fruits and veggies and dip, are included daily as well.
my grumpy traveler

After unpacking and getting a glass (or two) of wine upstairs, we headed to Zin for dinner. 
The food was amazing, but since it was 10pm eastern time, our appetites just weren't there.  We headed back to the room and I'm pretty sure passed out before it even got dark.

We had a big day full of copious amounts of fermented grapes planned for Thursday.... stay tuned.