Category Archives: Love It

The Napa Markets.

As with most small (and large towns), Napa has a host of markets that take place regularly throughout the summer. There are even a few that go into the middle of Fall or are permanent fixtures. This is something I absolutely love.

Here are just a few to keep an eye out for when you’re in town.

The Oxbow Public Market (EVERYDAY)

This is a MUST VISIT for everyone traveling to or through the Napa Valley area.

This is probably my favorite place in Napa. It’s a permanent fixture in Napa and offers pretty much anything and everything you could want. I love working from here during the day and also grabbing dinner or a drink here at night. From cupcakes to coffee, to crapes, home decor, fine Italian food, to smoothies, organic produce, and fresh oysters – this place has everything. You can sit outside with your pup or inside to enjoy the hustle and bustle of both locals in their daily routine and tourists on vacation.

My favorite food stops are Ca’ Momi and Kitchen Door – but really, everything there is good as far as food goes. And while I love this place, it closes for business pretty early in the evening for my taste (7 pm), though some of the restaurants are open until 9 or later (it really seems to depend on the day!).

The Napa Farmer’s Market (TUESDAYS & SATURDAYS)

Image Source: Napa Farmers Market

Image Source: Napa Farmers Market

I love this little Farmer’s Market. It’s right in the parking lot of the Oxbow Market and is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Both days are busy busy (which is surprising to me). This market isn’t all that much different than other farmer’s markets from around the country, but they do have a few unique offerings including; Humane Society dog adoptions, the Dahlia Man (not sure that is his business or real name), some of the best enchiladas, and a little place called Worm Endings – which I think is a place to get worms for composting?! Not sure. Of course, you can always find the plentiful supply of local flowers, fruits, veggies and dairy as well.

chefs_market_IMG_4719-500x750

Image Source: DO NAPA/Napa Chef’s Market

Napa Chef’s Market (THURSDAY NIGHTS)

The Napa Chef’s Market is a fun Thursday night locals event where the city closes First Street in downtown and opens it to foot traffic, food and drink vendors, music stages, arts and crafts booths and local chef demonstrations.

The food demos are fun because each week two different restaurants demonstrate making something from their menus and then allow the audience to taste it — along with a wine pairing. I’ll have to admit, I haven’t sat through many of the demos, but I love the food and wine pairing at the end.

What’s even better, is that there is always a nice selection of beer and wine to purchase throughout the evening — allowing you to walk around (single or double-fisting)  your favorite local wines for the night as you enjoy the local scenery and people watching – which can be interesting at times (there are people from ALL OVER).

In addition, the local musicians and bands are  great. Each Thursday, the type of music varies, but it’s always good. Sometimes it’s little bit country, and sometimes it’s a little rock, but between the three stages there’s always something fun playing!

I actually wish the Farmer’s Market and the Chef’s Market was open year-round, but I guess these are a few of the things that help us to actually feel like it’s summer.

Have you ever been to one of these markets? What’s your favorite?

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Filed under California, Love It, Napa Adventures

Napa!

804441_10102204586632648_1166267792_nIt’s been just over a year since we moved to Napa — and it has gone by SO QUICKLY!

I have to say, that we just love it here (and how could you not?). The weather is perfect almost every day (ironically, it’s not today) and the town is just filled with fun, little things to see, do and be a part of. This is something I have missed since  our days in Omaha.

Besides the wineries, there are tons of things to do and places to visit in this area – from hiking and trail runs to lake excursions and swims, The summer concerts on the Riverfront and the Thursday night Chef’s Markets, to the Farmer’s Market, Truffle Festival and the Oxbow Market. Not to mention we are just a quick drive to the ocean, the mountains and San Francisco.

And because there is SO much going on – I’ve decided to start blogging more about our experiences with all that Napa has to offer (which I should have been doing  all along!). And since so many people come to visit and ask about where to go and what’s good – I thought this might be a great way to start cataloguing it all. Just for fun and also to help other people find some of the hidden gems that Napa has to offer!

More to come on this soon, so keep an eye out for it!

NEXT POST: The Napa Markets!

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Filed under California, Love It, Napa Adventures, Uncategorized

Checking In.

A few months ago, I posted this massively long list of things I wanted to accomplish this year. And now that we are nearly a quarter of the way through 2013 (WHAT?!), I thought it might make sense to check in and see how I’m doing with it all.

I’ve found that in order to get anything done, I need to hold myself accountable for things. This goes for life and in work. If  I don’t track what I’m doing — I’m lost. And on top of that, nothing gets done. I’ve pulled up my list from a few moths ago and have tracked how I’m doing so far…. Here goes:

  • Complete two Olympic distance Triathlons. I’ve signed up for one — June 30.
  • Learn to sew (yes, I know this is quite lofty for me). Read an intro to sewing book and learned how to thread the machine. YES! I even made a nice little sunglass case for myself (which is actually cute, but not sewn straight at all).
  • Get faster on my bike. Have not touched the bike since August – woops.
  • Work on my core. Have started yoga again — which is totally helping with this.
  • Do push ups (be able to do 30 without stopping). Need to get back on this horse…
  • Do yoga regularly (once a week, at least). I have started yoga again and it’s amazing. I’m holding steady at every other week but joined a gym today so this should get easier from here on out!
  • Start swimming again. I did a few great swims earlier this month and joined a gym today to try to keep it up! We’ll see — the Alcatraz swim is only two months away! EEK!
  • Organize my random recipes. Not done at all. Just keep looking at them…
  • Improve my Spanish. Yet another one I haven’t touched.
  • Drink less coffee — one SMALLER cup per day (my usual cup is roughly 16 – 20 oz. Eek!). I have to admit that I am almost exclusively on DECAF now and I have noticed a big difference in the way I feel. Definitely excelling in this one!
  • Organize my pictures on my computer. Will try to tackle this in Q2. :)
  • Learn how to take better pictures. On my way… signed up for another photography class in the month of April. So excited to get started. I’ve also started taking pictures of our house projects, which has been… interesting.
  • Read more and try to balance out one random girl fiction with something more “substantive” or educational.  :)  I’ve started to read Stumbling on Happiness, which is actually pretty interesting. It’s a slower read than my fiction but will hopefully be worth it!
  • Read my Daily Om each morning (if you don’t have this book, I highly recommend it). I’ve combined this with daily quotes and sayings. Which has been fun. There are some great apps on the iPhone for this as well. 
  • Take vitamins. Sort of…
  • Journal again (at least three times per week). Yes, I’ve been doing this almost daily and it’s amazing. Such a release and great tool for my life.
  • Give back to Purdue athletics – Boiler up! Nick and I are now proud members of the John Purdue Club! YES!
  • Blog regularly (at least once per week) Sadly, this one is definitely lacking in commitment. I’m working on it but really need to do a better job here. I’m thinking I’ll focus here for the next few months to see if I can’t get into a better ‘pattern’ of things.

I’m actually surprised by this and am SO glad I checked in on this. I guess it’s been in the back of my mind, but I really wasn’t sure I was progressing at all. In a weird way, I think this may have even motivated me today.

Did you make any resolutions or goals this year? How are you tracking on yours?

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Filed under Coaching, Inspiration, Love It

Thankful.

Some days you just feel more thankful than usual. Today is one of those days for me.

I’m pretty much overwhelmed when I think about all the wonderful people in my life. All of those that have been there through crazy times and the times when there really isn’t anything interesting going on at all.

I’m thankful for the people in my life.  I realized this weekend (definitely not for the first time) how truly amazing it is to have people support you in life. Regardless of what you are going through and if you aren’t going through anything at all. Having people in your life to laugh with, cry with, run with, shop with, watch TV with, eat with…it’s all so necessary. I’ve guess I’ve always known this, but it’s really nice to stop and think about it. And that’s what I’m doing today.

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Filed under Love It

Recipe: Beer-Braised Tacos

Photo source: Food & Wine magazine/ foodandwine.com

Now that we’re back to cooking regular meals and have settled in to our new home, I thought it was about time to get back on top of my recipe posting. I noticed it’s been quite a while since my last recipe post.

Today’s recipe is a GOOD one. We’ve made it three times and every time it’s awesome.

The original recipe for Beer-Braised Tacos is from Food & Wine magazine. As usual, we altered it slightly to make it easier and to cater to two people. Other than that, we made very few changes as this recipe is simply great the way it is. The only minor down side is that the turkey has to ‘braise’ for about an hour – if you’re starving, this isn’t the recipe for you (or it can be you should just have some chips and salsa while you wait).

We made this with a side of black beans and a salad, which kept things pretty healthy. I think it would also be great with a fruit salsa, which we haven’t tried to make yet.

The ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Two 1-pound bone-in turkey thighs or drumsticks, skin and fat removed (We love the drumsticks, they work so well)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced (you can also cut some for garnish as well)
  • 1 oregano sprig
  • 1 jalapeño—stemmed, seeded and sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 1 ancho chile—stemmed, seeded and chopped (we used the can of chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce and used three since they are a lot smaller)
  • One cinnamon stick
  • One 12-ounce bottle Mexican dark beer (we used the Dos Equis Amber)
  • 1 cup water
  • Corn tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds and cilantro sprigs, for serving (we also chopped tomatoes, onions and queso fresco cheese – So good!)
To make it:
  1. Use a large enameled cast-iron pan (like a dutch oven or just big soup pot – something with a heavy bottom is best), heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season the turkey with salt and pepper and cook over med-high heat until browned all over, about 8 minutes. Transfer the turkey to a plate.
  2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the casserole along with the garlic, diced onion, oregano and jalapeño and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the onion is softened.
  3. Add the tomato, the chiles and cinnamon stick and cook, stirring, until the tomato releases its juices.
  4. Return the turkey to the pan, add the beer and water and bring to a boil.
  5. Cover and simmer over low heat, turning once, until the turkey thighs are tender, about 1 hour. Transfer the turkey to a plate and let cool.
  6. Discard the oregano sprig and cinnamon stick and boil the sauce over high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 12 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°. Wrap the tortillas in foil and bake for about 8 minutes, until softened and heated through. Remove the turkey meat and shred it. Transfer the sauce to a food processor and puree. Return the sauce to the pot and stir in the shredded turkey. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the turkey onto the tortillas. Top with minced onion, sesame seeds and cilantro sprigs (and anything else you’d like).
We used a lot of cilantro, queso fresco and tomatoes for garnish, so feel free to load it on there!  It. Was. Awesome.

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Filed under Love It, Recipes/Cooking

Loving Fall…

I think I wrote a post almost identical to this last year, but I’m going to write this one anyway.

Decked for Fall.

I. Love. Fall.

And in northern California, this feeling is only enhanced.

It’s sunny here every day and this weekend…it’s going to be 80 degrees.

I can’t tell you how much this affects my outlook on a daily basis. I wake up each day thinking how wonderful the day is going to be. Which is weird, but good. Though, I will acknowledge that this might only be because we lived in one heck of a sucky place this last year.

Regardless of that, I’m happy. And I’m looking forward to the rest of fall. College football games. Pumpkin flavored everything (including seasonal Clif Bars). Harvest parties (someone in this area HAS to be having one). The leaves changing colors. Trick or Treaters. Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks (because we have one near us again). And of course Thanksgiving!

I’d also like to recommend that if you are feeling a bit blue (likely because the weather is just not as nice right now), decorate your house/apartment/room/bathroom/door/whatever in FALL decor. Leaves and fake pumpkins are all that you need (a really nice pumpkin candle will help too). It WILL make a difference.

And on that note… Happy Fall, Everyone!

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Filed under California, Love It

Saying Thanks to My BFFs

Sometimes I think it’s good to take a step back and just think about life and how awesome it is.

I am one of those people that probably thinks about life a bit too much. I’m learning to deal with this fact because I realize it won’t be changing anytime soon.

Moving is tough. Establishing yourself in a new area is tough. Making new friends is tough. But it’s all a part of the lifestyle we live in the military.

I’m very happy to be starting this next chapter in our lives, but I’m also sad to have just left some great friends behind.

A good friend is hard to find. Throughout my life, I’ve met some wonderful people and have become great friends with a some strong, independent women. I learned that it takes a lot to recognize true companionship in another individual. And while there are tons of great people that surround you in your daily activities, there are few that IMPACT you in such a way that it will change you forever.

You know you’ve found one of these individuals when you can tell them virtually anything and know that they won’t judge you for who you truly are or when you accidentally put your foot in your mouth (among other things).

I’d like to say ‘THANK YOU’ to these women (and a few good men).

Whether you’re in Mississippi, Nebraska, Illinois, Washington, Kentucky, Indiana, California or some other place in the world. I’m fortunate to have you in my life–whether it’s in person or via Skype, postcard or phone.

I feel so lucky to have you all in my life and I hope you know that you’re the ones that help get me through all the crap and uncertainty that comes with it at times.

I kinda wish I could get you all in one big room together to give you each a hug (and have a few glasses of wine). I also hope you know that I’m here for you, always.

Now, enough with the mushiness–mom’s in town this week!! Time for some shopping and exploring!

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Filed under California, Inspiration, Love It, Military Life, Southern Living

Two Week Anniversary

It’s been two weeks since landing in California and I’m happy to say that we’re all settled. Or at least we are for now…

We’ve been busy getting caught up on all the random crap that comes with moving. We’ve also started looking for houses. Something we can buy, live in and LOVE during our time here. I think we’ve narrowed down our locations to Napa, Benicia and Davis. They are all such cute towns and would be so much fun for us to live in. More to come on that later though.

A few things I’ve discovered and LIKE about California over the last few weeks?

  • They recycle here. I love that. And, it’s nice to not have to pay a TON of money to do it!
  • The weather is awesome everyday (at least so far!)
  • The farmers market in Napa is just incredible. They also have an adorable year-round market called the Oxbow Public Market. Check out the link and if you come to town, I’ll take you there.
  • There are Nugget Markets here. They are cute little grocery stores, similar to Whole Foods. I love shopping there. Everything is SO fresh and the wine selection is AMAZING!
  • People use their blinkers while driving.
  • There are little trails and bike lanes everywhere for running and biking. We’re actually about to purchase some road bikes too–I can’t wait.
  • There are towns, wine bars, restaurants, shops, Starbucks and Red Robins everywhere! I LOVE THAT.
That’s just a short list of course, but I’m thinking that we’ll be pretty happy here.
Know of any places we should try out? Leave a comment or send me a message and let me know!

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Filed under Love It, Military Life

Road Trip, Complete.

For those of you following along (and for those who aren’t), we’ve made it to California! AND we arrived one day early!

The last two weeks have been exhausting. I feel like I have been disconnected from the world entirely and that I also need a serious detox from fast food and sitting. While that was the easiest part of the move, it was tiring.

It was a very pretty drive across the country, though uneventful. I also must add that there is virtually nothing to look at in Nebraska or Wyoming.

Penny did well on the drive. She pretty much slept the entire time. And as you can imagine, she was waking up at all hours of the night while we were trying to sleep.

It was also fun to stop in St. Louis and Omaha to see friends and family! I’m so glad we did that!

Overall, it was a really nice trip.

Here are a few shots — the Great Salt Lake, a Morton’s Salt factory, Penny, Nick, Nebraska, Wyoming, a really sweet soda machine at Firehouse Subs, mountains, cotton fields and of course, a few other random shots.

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Filed under Love It, Military Life

Road Trip

Today’s the day! We’re starting our journey to California.

We spent ALL of yesterday (a full 12 hours) moving and packing up the truck. I have to say, it was pretty much HORRIBLE and I think I had moments where I was regretting our decision to do this move ourselves.

But, now it’s done and I think I can say the worst is behind us–unpacking should be MUCH better.

Here’s our plan for the next five to six days.

1. I-55 North, stopping for the night in St. Louis.

2. I-70/I-29 North through Kansas City, stopping in OMAHA!(Apparently, parts of this road are closed so there will be some detouring going on as well).

3. I-80 West through, stopping in Cheyenne, WY, Salt Lake City and Reno, NV.

We’ll then go through Sacramento and pick up Mr. Tom Chandler who will be helping us with the second leg of our relocation!

It’s going to be a LONG one, but will be happy to be in a more permanent location finally.

Updates to come from the road! Stay tuned…

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Filed under Love It, Military Life