Tag Archives: Oxbow Public Market

Farewell, Napa. Hello, San Francisco.

Friday was our last morning in Napa. I’m sure there are a lot of great breakfast/brunch spots in Napa, but we could eat at Oxbow every morning and be perfectly happy. We ventured from our regular tacos at C Casa for their awesome breakfast burrito and cinnamon roll. We ate it all before I could get a good picture of our meal.

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Leaving RiverPointe – it really felt like a little home!

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Walking around Oxbow one last time

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Learning about bitters for making Old Fashioned’s at home

Before driving back to San Francisco, we decided to head back to Domaine Chandon for a quick stop. We had such a great tour there the day before, but had rushed out to our next tasting that we didn’t get to fully explore the grounds. We initially thought we would just go take a few pictures and walk around, until I remembered that as new wine club members, we get free tastings every time we visit. Twist my arm, I guess I’ll have a glass of sparkling wine at 10am. One observation while we were there Friday morning: As we got out of our car, we saw a group of 20 people getting ready for their tour. I’m so glad we visited on Thursday and had been in a small group of four people and got to ask our guide a ton of questions. I highly recommend visiting the wineries during the week for this reason.

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Walking up to Domaine Chandon

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At Domaine Chandon

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One of our new favorite places in Napa

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I could stay here all day

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…Especially with a glass of sparkling rose

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The right way to do a Friday

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Domaine Chandon

Before we left the wine country, we had to take the funny video below outside of Chandon. Hey, cutie.

After our stop at Domain Chandon, we drove back to San Francisco for the weekend. I’m sure locals get used to it, but I am always blown away at how tall the towers are on the Golden Gate Bridge. While we usually stop for pictures at the lookout point coming out of the city, we decided to try a new spot this time as well: Fort Point. If you can only pick one place to stop for pictures, I would choose this one over the lookout spot right after the bridge. Yes, you do get the city behind you with the lookout spot, but I love how you get such a sense of how tall the bridge is from Fort Point. We took more than a few pictures there and enjoyed the water crashing up against the rocks before check in at the Coventry Motor Inn one more time.

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Fort Point

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Alcatraz out in the distance

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Now, when we were first deciding if we wanted to take this somewhat last-minute trip to San Francisco, we saw that Of Monsters and Men would be playing in nearby Berkeley that same weekend. This sealed the deal for us. We had to make this trip. Chip and I both love music, but we don’t always enjoy the same artists. I’m a sucker for catchy pop music (I’ll always fan girl over boy bands, no shame at all), and I tease Chip about his alien music full of weird synthesizers. But Of Monsters and Men is a band that we both really enjoy and love listening to together. Certain songs from their first album will give me serious nostalgia for our first trip to Nantucket. While Chip was at his conference, I would sit out on the porch at Century House, working on emails and listening to “Little Talks,” “Dirty Paws,” and “Love Love Love” nonstop. Their new album Beneath the Skin came out in June and was pretty much always on at home and in the car for a few months. Once we realized this concert was happening Friday night, we planned our entire trip around it. So after checking back in at the Coventry Motor Inn, we hung out at the Ferry Building for part of the afternoon before driving out to Berkeley for the concert at The Greek Theatre in the UC Berkeley campus.

It wasn’t until we parked our car near UC Berkeley that we realized we hadn’t locked the doors while we were at the Ferry Building… and someone had stolen my American Giant hoodie and Chip’s sunglasses. So not cool. They left behind the blankets we had packed, so we fortunately still had those to sit on during the concert. After I got over being insulted by this petty theft, we went to Eureka! for dinner and enjoyed some great burgers before walking to The Greek Theatre. Now, this outdoor venue is designed to look like an old amphitheater with a round seating plan. The seating is unassigned and broken into three sections: the pit (where you stand the whole time), the orchestra (where you sit on cement steps, which is why we packed blankets), and the lawn. After reading online reviews from veteran concert goers, we decided to sit in the orchestra section. We wanted to get some good seats in this section, so we finished our dinner and walked a mile through the UC Berkeley campus, checking out all the buildings along the way and got to the concert gates before the doors opened. The line was longer than we anticipated when we showed up, but most of the early comers went straight to the pit, so we got a great spot in the middle of the orchestra section.

I can’t say enough good things about the concert. The opening act, Amason, was great and did a great job setting the tone for the night. Chip and I had been debating over what we thought would be Of Monsters and Men’s first song. Would it be from the old album? The new album? We went back and forth on it, but neither one of us expected it to be “Thousand Eyes.” We didn’t even think they would perform this song. I’m so glad we were both wrong because this was AMAZING live. It was so dramatic with the lighting and the drums. The song ended and we just looked at each other and laughed. We knew the rest of the concert was going to be incredible and we were not disappointed. There are songs that I liked before, but after hearing it live, I love them. Who would have thought an accordion would make “King and Lionheart” sound so good live? Looking back on the concert four months ago, some of our favorite memories are singing along to “Dirty Paws,” following the drummer’s lead to clap the beginning of “Slow and Steady,” and listening to “Crystals.” They did such a great job interacting with the audience and we loved comparing how the lead singer Nanna sways as she sings while fellow band member Ragnar bobs his shoulders up and down as he plays the guitar. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can see them again another time.

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Dinner at Eureka!

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Walking the UC Berkeley campus

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Walking the UC Berkeley campus

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Picking our seats for the concert

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We loved The Greek Theatre

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Amason

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Ready for the concert

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Of Monsters and Men

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Of Monsters and Men

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Of Monsters and Men

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Of Monsters and Men

Listen to that accordion!

As soon as they started playing “Little Talks,” the sweet preteen in front of us started dancing like crazy. It was awesome.

The pictures below are from the Of Monsters and Men Facebook page. Love the view they had of the audience!

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Of Monsters and Men Facebook Page. The fancy blue arrow is the area where we sat.

Thursday in Napa

After our tasting at Pride Mountain Vineyards, we drove back into downtown Napa to check in at our hotel. We originally hoped to find a place through airbnb or VRBO, but we couldn’t find anything in our price range. If you’re traveling to Napa with a larger group, I highly recommend a rental home. We went that route last year with my family, and had a great time having a home to spend time in. Since we couldn’t find any for this trip that worked for us, we considered our hotel options. There aren’t many chain anythings in Napa, save for a Starbucks and Panera Bread, so it felt slightly out of place to consider staying at a Best Western or other chain hotel. Napa also has a few really nice four to five star hotels, but these were definitely out of our price range. Reading through reviews on TripAdvisor took us to RiverPointe Napa Valley and we couldn’t have been happier with it. It was the perfect middle ground between a hotel and a rental home. We loved how close it was to downtown Napa, giving us the option to walk to Oxbow Public Market in the mornings for breakfast and quick access to some great restaurants for dinner. These mini condos/mobile homes gave us our own space, complete with a kitchen and living room, but still offered some of the amenities of a hotel, like a wine tasting our first afternoon in Napa. We weren’t expecting this tasting, so we were pleasantly surprised when we checked in just before the event started. And yes, we were by far the youngest couple in the room but we had such a great time getting to meet some of the other people staying at RiverPointe. Everyone becomes a friend when you’re having a glass of wine, right?

After our tasting, we drove to dinner at Bistro Don Giovanni. We had visited Don Giovanni for lunch during our first trip to Napa a few years ago and really enjoyed it. When we told friends we were going back to Napa for this trip, we heard more than a few recommendations to go to Don Giovanni for dinner. One look at the menu solidified our decision. It was crowded there, so be sure to make reservations if you want to make Don Giovanni part of your Napa experience. Everything on the menu looks great, you really can’t go wrong there. We also had a super sweet waiter from Croatia. He loved hearing that we spent a day in Dubrovnik during our honeymoon, and then showed us pictures of his family while we ate.

Thursday morning started off with breakfast at Oxbow. Seriously, we love this place. We considered a few options for breakfast, but in the end went with C Casa. You can’t beat their breakfast tacos.

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C Casa – please send us tacos

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Pumpkin latte to get the morning started

After breakfast, we grabbed a few snacks there at Oxbow before driving to our first stop for the day: Chandon. Over the last year or so, I’ve really started enjoyed sparkling wine. We went to Mumm during our last trip and thought it would be fun to check out another place that specialized in sparkling wine. It didn’t take much research to find Chandon. Y’all. This place was amazing! We may or may not have joined their wine club… any friends want to join us for some sparkling wine?

 

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Ready for our tasting

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The tour at Chandon

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The flight at Chandon

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Fun fact: Chandon also makes still wine

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Set up for the tasting

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Starting our tasting…

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Bring on the bubbles

Our tour at Chandon was one of our favorites of this trip. We were a small group of just four people, so we got to spend a lot of time with our super sweet tour guide, who was great at answering all of our (mainly Chip’s) questions. The grounds were incredibly beautiful and we had a great view of the lawn as we had our final tasting. Our tour ran a little longer than we had planned, so we had to rush out to our next tour after signing up for the Chandon wine club. Don’t worry, we stopped by the next morning for some pictures!

After Chandon, we had our tour at Frog’s Leap. This was our third time at this winery. We had done their garden tasting during our first trip, and the tour during our second. For this third trip, we decided to do the signature seating tasting. I’ve said it before, but what we love about Frog’s Leap is how casual the environment and how beautiful the grounds are. It’s a unique combination to enjoy some really great wine while also feeling really comfortable in the laid back setting.

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I really love the Frog’s Leap logo

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Signature Seating Tasting at Frog’s Leap

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The lawn at Frog’s Leap

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Tomatoes everywhere

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Love the Frog’s Leap chickens

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In front of our favorite wall at Frog’s Leap

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One of my favorite places with my favorite guy

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Little more fall colors compared to last year

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Frog’s Leap

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House goals

On our way out of Frog’s Leap, we decided to make a quick pit-stop for some food at Gott’s Roadside. Let me tell you, nothing goes better with wine than a good hotdog and chocolate milkshake.

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Gott’s Roadside

For our last winery, we went to Sterling Vineyards. We had someone recommend Sterling to us, and after reading about the winery, we decided to check it out. A highlight to Sterling is their gondola with views of the wine country. We were excited for these views, but we were worried it was a tourist attraction and that the tour wouldn’t be that great. Maybe it’s because we did the self-guided tour, but we were underwhelmed with our time at Sterling. We enjoyed the gondola and took tons of pictures from up in the air, but the tour itself was made of videos at the different “stops, ” so there wasn’t much room to learn more or interact and ask questions. I’m glad this was the last tour of our trip so it wasn’t the first time we were learning about the wine making process.

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The view at Sterling Vineyards

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During our tour at Sterling Vineyards

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In the gondola at Sterling Vineyards

We drove back into downtown Napa after our tasting at Sterling for dinner at Torc. It was easy to see why this restaurant has such great TripAdvisor reviews. The ambiance was festive, without being too loud, and the food was delicious. I would definitely go there again if we ever had the chance. More to come on our last morning in Napa and our weekend in San Francisco! I promise I’ll try to get those posts done sometime in the next month…

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Ready for dinner at Torc

 

Farewell, Napa and SF

Finally, it’s here! The last post on our vacation to California back in August! If you missed any posts, here are parts one, two, three, four, five, and six. I could have sworn I just wrote four posts. Whoa. Six? Maybe next time I’ll take fewer pictures and take less time to write about our trip. Mm, probably not.

Thursday was the last day of our vacation. We had one final breakfast at Oxbow (shocker, I know) and let me tell you, I really miss those C Casa breakfast tacos. I know San Antonio has breakfast tacos at just about any restaurant, but these were so different from what we have here. Don’t worry, fellow San Antonians, I won’t be turning down any bacon and egg tacos anytime soon. Unless, of course, C Casa opens up a location here in town.

Now that's a breakfast taco

Now that’s a breakfast taco

Mom at breakfast

Mom at breakfast

Another of my "alright, Chip, put the camera down" faces

Another of my “alright, Chip, put the camera down” faces

My dad does breakfast right

My dad does breakfast right

After breakfast, we got the car loaded up and started the drive back to San Francisco. We made really good time before our flight back in the afternoon, so we were able to have one last meal at Tacolicious as well as do some sight seeing around Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman’s Wharf before heading to the airport.

Foggy view on the Golden Gate Bridge

Foggy view on the Golden Gate Bridge

With my mom at Ghirardelli Square

With my mom at Ghirardelli Square

My dad loves selfies

My dad loves selfies

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Exhibit B - taking a selfie with my mom

Exhibit B – taking a selfie with my mom

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Last year, we put our feet in the Atlantic Ocean. This year, it was the Pacific. And it was cold.

Last year, we put our feet in the Atlantic Ocean. This year, it was the Pacific. And it was cold.

Really cold

Really cold

Really, really cold

Really, really cold

Dad wasn't phased by the cold water

Dad wasn’t phased by the cold water

Neither were these (crazy) swimmers

Neither were these (crazy) swimmers

I am my father's daughter

I am my father’s daughter

Farewell, California

Farewell, California

In case you couldn’t tell from all of these pictures and somewhat lengthy posts, we had a really great time on this vacation. If you haven’t visited Northern California before, you should try to make it out there sometime! I promise  you won’t be disappointed.

Del Dotto Vineyards

Remember that trip to Napa we took last month? Don’t worry, the last couple of posts on this trip are on their way.

Like most of our mornings in Napa, we got the day started with breakfast at Oxbow Public Market. Over the course of our time in Napa, we loved spending our mornings and free evenings at Oxbow. There were plenty of little shops to check out and great places to grab food. There was actually a farmers market there on Tuesday morning, so we were able to have some fruit and pastries outside before heading back into Oxbow for breakfast tacos at C Casa.

Whole Spice - Chip's favorite place at Oxbow

Whole Spice – Chip’s favorite place at Oxbow

Oxbow Public Market

Oxbow Public Market

With dad at breakfast

With dad at breakfast

"Okay, Chip, that's enough pictures for now"

“Okay, Chip, that’s enough pictures for now”

"No, really. Stop."

“No, really. Stop.”

After breakfast, we drove to Del Dotto Vineyards where we were scheduled to do their barrel tasting at their Napa location. Del Dotto is a family-owned winery that focuses on small production of premium wines. A large amount of the wine at Del Dotto is already “sold” by the time it is aging in a barrel. We were really excited to tour their cave where many barrels are kept and try the wine straight from these barrels. Our tour guide Adam was great and like Cristhian at The Hess Collection, he gave us some hearty samples as well as a few extra ones. Our favorite samples were when we could try the same type of wine aged in two different barrels and see how differently they turned out. If you want to have a great experience at any winery, do your homework. Learn the basics about the wine-making process so you can ask the guides questions and get more from the vineyard experience. Adam taught us a lot not only about the wine making process, but also tips for a better tasting. For example: don’t hold your wine glass around the bottom of the glass, but at the bottom of the stem (just hook your pinky underneath so it feels more stable). When you keep your hand around the actual glass part, you’re unintentionally warming the wine. He also encouraged us to share whatever it was we thought we were tasting in the wine. I was so surprised when a wine reminded me of breakfast sausage and he told me I was correct. I know it sounds weird, but it was tasty.

Outside of the Del Dotto caves

Outside of the Del Dotto caves

My dad's a goof

My dad’s a goof

Ready for the cave tour and barrel tasting

Ready for the cave tour and barrel tasting

First wine sample of the day

First wine sample of the day

The wine thief: this is how we were given samples from the barrels

The wine thief: this is how we were given samples from the barrels

Wine thief, part two

Wine thief, part two

This is when I stopped taking pictures of our cave tour and barrel tasting. It was pretty dark in there and the amount of time I needed to stay still for the slower shutter speed on my camera in this lighting just wasn’t happening by the time we got through our first few samples. Looking back, we should have put my camera on auto focus after our first half hour there. Let’s just say that by the end of the tour, it was like we had had several full glasses of wine and our manual focus was a bit sub-par. Oops.

Really should have used auto focus...

Really should have used auto focus…

We left Del Dotto in very high spirits and decided that we now only do tastings from barrels. We’re such a classy bunch. We had been planning on grabbing lunch at Melted, but since we were pretty full from our wine session, we went back to the rental home to relax. Alex and Teresa had to fly back to Denver that evening, so after grabbing their suitcases, my parents dropped them off at a shuttle bus that would take them directly to the San Francisco airport. Chip and I said our goodbyes to Alex and Teresa at the house, and while my parents dropped them off at their shuttle, I took one epic wine-induced nap.

We took it easy and hung out in the cozy backyard when my parents got back and eventually went to dinner at Pearl. I really can’t give a thorough review on their food. I still wasn’t very hungry, but everyone else seemed to really enjoy their meal. we did some more walking after dinner and went to bed early for another full day in Napa on Wednesday.

Don’t worry, just two more posts to go!

Monday in Napa: Kayaking and The Hess Collection

If you’re still reading these posts, thanks! If you’re distraught over missing the earlier part of our trip in San Francisco, fret not. You can read them here, here, and here.

Monday was our first full day in Napa, and while we were looking forward to visiting a few wineries, we were also excited for some warmer weather. It was a bit cooler in San Francisco than we had expected! When my mom and I first sat down to plan this trip, we couldn’t decide if we wanted to do Napa first, and then go to San Francisco or vice versa. Looking back on the trip, I’m really glad we did SF first, and then the wine country. It was nice getting to do the “busy” things first, doing a lot of walking and sight seeing, and then taking it easy in Napa.

Wineries would of course be on our itinerary, but we thought we would take advantage of the beautiful scenery and get in an outdoor activity, too. We had thought about going on a hiking trail, but with the Napa River so close to our rental home, we decided to do a kayaking tour. We did our TripAdvisor research and booked a tour with Kayak Napa Valley. From the time we booked our trip, to showing up on Monday morning, we had a great experience with their staff. It was so clear to see that our tour guide Laurie (who is also one of the founders) values the beauty of the area. This company even schedules clean up days to keep the river clean and beautiful. Our time kayaking was so peaceful and relaxing, the complete opposite of our rafting in Colorado a couple of years ago (right, dad?).

Our kayak tour started at 9:00 and ended around noon, so we drove to Oxbow to pick up some lunch from Gott’s Roadside. Talk about some delicious food. Everyone enjoyed their burgers while I ate one awesome hot dog (#keepingitclassy). It was the perfect lunch to fill our stomachs before our first wine tour of the trip.

There are over 400 wineries in Napa Valley. That’s right 400. Chip and I visited six last year, and with this trip we were able to see four more. Clearly we need to make many more trips back to Napa to cross the rest of these off our list. Okay, maybe that’s a little unrealistic…

Our first winery was The Hess Collection. You won’t find it while driving down Silverado Trail, it’s nestled up a windy road surrounded by mountains. While it is a great winery, it is also an art museum and you can walk around their gallery after your tasting. I was sad to hear that as of now, they are open only by appointment while they make repairs to their visitor center following the recent earthquake in the area. If you’re in Napa, make an appointment here. You won’t be disappointed.

We did their wine and cheese tasting and had a great afternoon with our guide Cristhian. As good as the wine was (and it was really good), Cristhian made the experience. He shared so much about the history of the winery, answered all of our questions (and we asked a lot), and let us take our time getting through everything. He even gave us an extra sample at the end after we had talked about how much we like Pinot Noir.

Don't these grapes look like blueberries?

Don’t these grapes look like blueberries?

These are all red grapes, but stay green until they've received enough sun

These are all red grapes, but stay green until they’ve received enough sun

The Hess Collection lets their grapes grow a little bit more like trees instead of having the branches on a wire trellis

The Hess Collection lets their grapes grow a little bit more like trees instead of having the branches on a wire trellis

Ready for our tasting

Ready for our tasting

Loved the outdoor space at The Hess Collection

Loved the outdoor space at The Hess Collection

This stone building was constructed back in 1903.

This stone building was constructed back in 1903.

Cristhian told us that by the time we got to the "barely buzzed" cheese pairing, we should all be barely buzzed... well, maybe slightly more.

Cristhian told us that by the time we got to the “barely buzzed” cheese pairing, we should all be barely buzzed… well, maybe slightly more.

Our wine flight

Our wine flight

Cristhian also brought my parents a plate of cookies for their anniversary. Now that's my kind of anniversary gift.

Cristhian also brought my parents a plate of cookies for their anniversary. Now that’s my kind of anniversary gift.

Group picture with Cristhian

Group picture with Cristhian

We got along great.

We got along great

Love these two of pictures of my parents

Love these two of pictures of my parents

After our wonderful afternoon at The Hess Collection, we made the drive back to downtown Napa for dinner at Ca’Momi, one of the restaurants at Oxbow Public Market. We were all pretty stuffed from the wine and cheese, so we kept dinner pretty light. After we ate, we went inside Oxbow to get a few cupcakes from Kara’s Cupcakes before going home and playing some Heads Up! I can’t remember who won, so we’ll just say the girls did. More to come on our time in Napa!