I just grabbed two great sparkling rosés at Trader Joe’s and had to share them!
Opaline Pinot Noir Brut Rosé ($7.99):
This bottle is such a show stopper I had to grab it. Look how pretty and bright and glam it is! And, at under 8 bucks, you really can’t go wrong. It is refreshing and light, with hints of strawberry, raspberry and citrus. Great summer sipping wine. I’m actually quite excited about picking up more of these babies.
La Burgondie Cremant du Burgogne Rosé ($10.99):
I love a good Cremant! This french sparkler is crisp and fruity with light floral notes. It reminds me of sipping bubbles and basking in the sunshine at outdoor cafes in Strasbourg or Paris. And I don’t know about you, but anything that makes me feel transported is something I definitely want to participate in right now. I can also personally attest that it makes a great Sunday morning mimosa – particularly to watch during a Harry Potter marathon 🙂
Trail Head At: Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, Rancheria Falls Trailhead
Length: 20 Miles (f**k me)
Elevation Gain: 2100 Feet
Okay guys, this hike was unbelievably beautiful. In fact, the more I think about it, (and the more time I have had to recover) the more impressed I am with the landscape. It was full of cascading waterfalls, lush alpine meadows filled with wildflowers, those sharp granite cliffs Yosemite is famous for and epic views of the glittering reservoir.
A little background about Hetch Hetchy – this area is part of Yosemite, north of Yosemite Valley. So, it boasts less crowds then the valley, a quicker drive from the Bay Area and the same gob smackingly beautiful scenery.
This trail is quite dreamy. You spend about seven miles of the hike winding along the gorgeous, sprawling, reservoir. We noticed almost non stop evidence of bears, but unfortunately did not have any sightings this trip.
It was also an absolute bitch. We hiked 20 miles total in two days, with plenty of steep switch backs, mosquitoes and very little shade. The last day was definitely the most difficult. At one point in the hike, on our return trip home, I really thought we might just die there on the trail.
We took a break at Rancheria Falls for lunch and it was the most epic lunch spot, with the waterfalls cascading down the silvery granite rocks to the green pools below.
The first campsites are located in the forest near Rancheria Falls, so you could end your hike there but we decided to trek on to the Tiltill Valley, because Brad had camped there on a previous trip and said it was pretty spectacular.
So, there were two difficult parts to this hike:
After about a mile plus of steep switchbacks, we arrived at the Tiltill Valley (yesssss). Then had about a mile left to go through straight up bog. I’m talking balancing on rocks and water submerged logs, Brad on one end, me on the other, as we tried to avoid falling in the sludgy, muddy, foot deep water. Bugs were swarming in clouds, mosquitoes were biting and I had to hardcore compartmentalize because if I hadn’t mentioned it before, I am terrified of snakes, and it was 100% Snake City. I did see one slithering away into the high grass, but just for a moment. (Insert mind exploding).
But, after we had had slogged through, we were rewarded with this magnificent, beckoning, view.
And Look at Our Campsite:
This was very convenient for getting water. Brad even went for a swim! Per usual, I need the weather to be a little warmer for submerging in that frigid water. I love hearing the rushing water as we fell asleep in our tent.
We loved falling asleep to the sounds of an owl hooting in the tree, as the glittering stars filled the ink black sky.
The Trip Back:
We woke up pretty early, sipped our steaming coffee and ate our breakfast bars while watching deer graze in the meadow. We packed up our campsite, squared our shoulders and set off for the bog.
When we finally finished the hike we got home around 8pm, and collapsed on the couch with a Trader Joe’s pesto veggie pizza and wine. We, (well I) was sunburned to the nines, covered in bites, and parts of me hurt that I didn’t even know existed, but we made it! And it really was an epically gorgeous hike. Next time, I would recommend planning three days for this trip, so that you have a day in between to enjoy the surrounding, relax and recover before the 10 mile trek back. Also – bring Deet. Ours hadn’t arrived yet from Amazon, and we figured we could make it. MISTAKE.
Next up on the hiking blog: Three days at Velma Lakes in Desolation Wilderness Tahoe!
Here are some of the best, most escapist, most binge worthy things I have watched on Amazon during the Pandemic:
Fleabag: I watched this show about a year ago and just rewatched it last week. I highly, highly recommend doing this right now for your state of mind. It’s a feel good, hysterical, whip smart, empowering show. Phoebe Waller Bridge is a flat out genius. My very favorite is the second season – it’s a perfect show. Also, get your hands on a Gin & Tonic in a can to drink while watching. Then you can cheers Fleabag and her priest properly.
Synopsis: A dry-witted, free-spirited, woman, known only as Fleabag, has no filter as she navigates life and love in London while trying to cope with tragedy and her insane family.
Poldark: Oh for the love of God just watch this beautiful, transporting show. The scenery is dazzling, the leads are magnetic and this is pure English seaside escapist magic.
Synopsis: Set in the late 1700s in Cornwall, it follows the story of the dashing Ross Poldark, recently returned from the war to find his father dead, his mine is disrepair and his fiance married to another. And CUE SCENE!
TrueBlood – This show is pure escapist fun. The original, racy vampire series features Sookie Stackhouse,a blonde Anna Paquin, who works as a bartender in Bon Temps, Louisiana and can read minds. Fresh, exciting, sassy and funny as hell. PLUS, Alexander Skarsgaard stars as a viking. Also, I just really love walking around the house saying SOOKIE! (Rhymes with Cookie). Lafayette is and might always be one of my favorite all time characters. I am very seriously considering naming my future corgi puppy LaLa in tribute. I know Bill is exceedingly annoying and resembles a reptile, but you can get past it. The first three seasons are definitely the best, but my very favorite scene comes in the second to last season, when Lafayette makes amazing margaritas for the ladies who work at Merlottes and they settle in sipping their margs to watch the show as Maurella the fairy gives birth, (orgasmically somehow?!), to five babies. I told you, it’s bonkers.
Synopsis: In a time when vampires have entered the mainstream, young Lousiana waitress Sookie Stackhouse sets out to prove not only can vamps and humans co-exist, they can find true love.
Here’s a Great Backpacking Trip to Take During the Lockdown!
Summer is officially here which means it’s camping and backpacking time! Luckily, hiking trails in Mount Shasta are still open, and this is a great getaway for backpacking trips, where it is easy to social distance. Because this is a rather secluded place, we saw very few people, and had an entire lake to ourselves for camping!
Details: Seven Lakes Basin Via the PCT, Mount Shasta
Trail Head At: Gumboot Trail
Length: 7.8 Miles Give or Take, More if you hike to other secluded lakes
Elevation Gain:1,309 feet
Mount Shasta Hike Itinerary:
We drove up Friday afternoon, and spent the evening at Gumboot Campgrounds, a first-come-first-serve surprisingly lovely campsite on a crystal clear lake. We arrived around 5pm, gathered wood and started a fire. This campground is at fairly high altitude and got very chilly as soon as the sun went down, so we threw our sleeping bags over our shoulders and snuggled up next to the fire. We breathed in the fresh pine, ate our turkey and sharp cheddar sandwiches and lost ourselves in the mesmerizing heat, flicker and crackle of the fire.
In the morning we packed our things, gobbled our PB and dark chocolate protein bars, sipped our steaming hot coffees fortifying ourselves for the day and headed to Gumboot Trail for the hike. This hike begins at the PCT and then branches off toward the Seven Lakes Basin trail.
Our favorite parts of the hike were the panoramic views of Mount Shasta, the sparkling lakes below and the stunning alpine vistas. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and we soaked in the sunshine and wide open spaces.
We also loved hiking the PCT. Ever since reading and then watching Wild, I have wanted to hike part of the PCT, so that was great fun.
This trail is about eight miles so not too long of a hike, but there are several patches of slippery snow from the winter to hike through, and a steep descent covered in loose rocks down to the lakes which make it a little more difficult.
A Lakefront Campsite, Campfires and a Sky Full of Stars
When we reached the lower lakes, we had them completely to ourselves and chose an epic spot on the shores of the glistening emerald green lake, with a fire ring.
After resting and having a bit of lunch, we hiked to another pristine lake about twenty minutes away through some golden meadows, surrounded by snow and evergreens. I was sure we were going to see some bears, the setting just felt right, but we have the entire summer ahead of us. We spent the afternoon setting up camp, lazing by the lake and reading books. I read the second book in the Nevernight series, which if you haven’t read is absolutely brilliant.
Right around sunset things got really chilly, with the wind whipping through the trees. We braved it out in our tent, reading books and relaxing and after the sunset the weather was quite pleasant. We loved snuggling up to the fire pit and taking in the pristine views. We just slung our sleeping bags around our shoulders for warmth. At night the shimmering stars were absolutely amazing, filling up the sky.
I really had fun this trip learning how to make a bag drop, start a fire from scratch and use a flint. Usually Brad handles the campsite set up, but I think it’s high time I learn. Plus, I pretty much felt like Katniss Everdeen.
The next morning we slept in, then crawled outside our tent to have breakfast and start the fire. We nibbled on some strawberry breakfast bars while lazily sipping our coffee and Kahluas and gazing out over the lake. After a leisurely morning, we headed home about midday, energized by all that fresh mountain air and exercise, excited about our new backpacking spot.
Next up on the hiking blog: Backpacking in Stanislaus National Forest (hopefully). National forests are supposedly opening up in June, so finger’s crossed this is true and we can get a permit. Bring on the bears! Bring on the meadows! Bring on that mountain air!
I’m Sampling the Budget Bubbly At Whole Foods – And Listing the Tastiest Options!
Considering the state of things right now, I have been limiting my trips to the grocery store as much as possible. Our local Trader Joe’s has been so insanely crowded lately, that I’ve been trying out other grocery stores in the area. We have a Whole Foods in walking distance and while doing a quick grocery run, I spied this Vino Verde and Cava both under $10, and figured I should probably snatch them up.
My First Budget Option Wine Picks:
I will continue to pick up different options each trip until I have found the very best budget friendly choices. Here are my first samples:
Broadbent Vinho Verde ($9.99): Vino Verde is one of my go-to favs for spring and summer. It is a lightly effervescent, refreshing, crisp white wine with pretty floral notes from the green region of Portugal. We fell in love with this wine on holiday in Lisbon two years ago, and are always on the lookout. It’s a great summer sipping wine. Whenever I see the tall, thin bottle tinted green with a screw top on the shelves I make a beeline for it.
Cava Roger D’Anoia ($8.99) Dry and crisp with nice bubbles. This was a decent Cava, but I will probably try another my next trip.
Additionally, I have been drinking pink lemonade lately as a treat. Remember that frozen lemonade concentrate you used to drink as a kid? Well, I’ve started making pitchers of it to keep in the fridge on weekends for Brad and I, and I highly recommend. Nothing like pink lemonade to lift your mood! 😀 It’s our go-to treat after backpacking as well. A trip to InNOut and a large pink lemonade! Also, the frozen limeade makes a fantastic margarita! Who knew?!
I think it’s a good idea to treat ourselves right now, and Happy Hour is a great way to make things feel celebratory.
Next up on the wine blog:
Sampling the Budget Bubbles at Safeway. Stay tuned for the next round of picks!
Now that we have tons of time on our hands, here are some of the best, most escapist, most binge worthy things I have watched during the Pandemic:
Ozark – Hell yes! This show is flipping fantastic and completely riveting. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney are excellent as a couple desperately trying to make the best of a horrific, constantly escalating situation. Linney is an absolute powerhouse. Julia Garner as Ruth, a pickpocket who quickly becomes embroiled in the couple’s schemes is magnetic. Somehow this pitch black show also manages to be very funny and there is no shortage of shocks and surprises. I loved it. It even made me consider visiting The Ozarks, which, I went to on a family vacation and was widely considered our worst holiday. Ahem: MOSQUITOES AND SCORCHING TEMPS I’m looking at you.
Synopsis: Financial advisor Marty Byrd drags his family from Chicago to the Missouri Ozarks, where he must launder money to appease a drug cartel.
Dead To Me: This dark comedy is a great story of female friendship and female rage. It’s original, it’s surprising, it’s funny, and I loved the twists and turns. The Newport Beach location is such escapist fun right now. Also, I was obsessed with Judy’s amazing outfits. Seriously. I hunted one of her boho dresses down and bought it on Amazon. Linda Cardellini is a great actress, she’s so natural. Season two ends pretty explosively, I just finished the finale and am ready for the third.
Synopsis: Grief stricken and rage filled widow Jen meets nurturing free spirit Judy during a grief support group and they strike up a deep friendship, however Judy has some shocking secrets of her own.
Outer Banks: This teen adventure mystery is ridiculous, but it has beautiful locales, a search for buried treasure, excellent surfer chic outfits and it sure made me want to visit North Carolina. I actually had to look up The Outer Banks — they are a 200 mile long string of islands off the coast of North Carolina and I am for them.
Synopsis: A group of goofy teens from the wrong side of the tracks stumble upon a treasure map that unearths a long buried secret. Adventure, chaos and budding romance ensues.
Schitt’s Creek and The Good Place – I watched these comedies before the lock down, but absolutely loved them, so I am including on the list because they are such great, escapist entertainment. They are feel good, quirky, boast tons of irreverent humor with heart, and characters you will love 😀 Plus, you will constantly be quoting these characters in your everyday life.
Synopsis: When the fabulously wealthy Rose family suddenly loses all of their money, they are forced to leave their pampered lives to regroup and rebuild their empire from Schitt’s Creek, a dinky town they once bought as a joke.
Synopsis: When Eleanor Shellstrop finds herself in the afterlife, she’s both relieved and surprised that she’s made it into The Good Place, particularly since she realizes that there has been a massive mistake.
Next Up on the Entertainment Blog:
More great shows to binge watch during the lock down – Amazon and HBO.
While we’re all stuck at home and practicing social distancing for the foreseeable future, I thought it might be a fun time to write about some delicious and affordable champagne options, because Lord knows, I could certainly use something fizzy and frivolous to elevate my mood right now!
Oh, Korbel Champagne Cellars in Sonoma County 😀 We have been visiting this place for the past seven years, on our way to the Russian River or St. Orres in Gualala. Good friend’s told us about this place, and we haven’t looked back since.
The tastings are free, and as our fav sommeiler once told us, “you get five tastings, but hey, I’m not a math major.” the grounds are gorgeous, the wine room is festive as all get out, and bottles cost about 13 bucks on average.
We always do the tasting because it’s fun, and end up taking home a few bottles of the Sec, the Organic Brut, the Rosé, and usually a red sparkling Rouge for the holidays, because that deep red with shimmering bubbles looks great on your table for Thanksgiving.
The Sec and Organic Brut you can only typically purchase at Korbel Champagne Cellars. If we’re feeling splurgy, we get a slice of the turtle cheesecake at the onside deli, grab a bottle of chilled Sec and sip our bubbles on the patio overlooking the vineyards.
The Sec: This California sparkler is now actually a little too sweet for me, but it was the first sparkling wine I fell in love with. We served it at our wedding so it holds a very special place in my heart. It’s slightly sweet and delicately fruity with excellent bubbles. I recommend serving with orange or pomegranate juice as a mimosa.
The Organic Brut: ( Our new fav) – Light body, dry, with hints of fruit and delicate bubbles.
The Rouge: This dark red sparkling wine is tart and tangy and rich with a dry finish. Perfect for Thanksgiving and gorgeous on the table.
Next on the wine blog – best budget bubbles at Bevmo! I think we can all use some good recommendations for great sippin’ bubbly while we’re stuck in doors for the foreseeable future!
I’m Sampling the Best Bubbly Bargains at Trader Joe’s – And Listing the Tastiest Options!
Happy Valentine’s Day Y’all! LET’S DO THIS
As Valentine’s Day is now upon us – (am I the only one this holiday really snuck up on?!), I figured I’d publish a quick post on TJs best budget bubbly, in case you are in the market for a yummy bottle, need one last minute, or just feel like grabbing yourself a treat!
Cecelia B ($7.99): This sparkling rosé is a pretty stellar bottle of bubbly for the cost. It’s tart, crisp and fruity on the palette. Just look for the pretty purple label on the shelves.
Segura Viudas ($7.99): You know I love a good Cava. This vibrant Spanish Cava is refreshing and light with notes of citrus and a dry finish. I will definitely buy again. Bonus: while sipping, pretend you’re at an outdoor cafe in the sunshine, sampling manchego and olives and croquetas.
Mionetto Prosecco ($10.99): This Italian bubbly is light, crisp and refreshing with delicate bubbles and notes of peaches and apples.
Next Wine Blog Post: The Best California Sparkling Wines at Korbel Champagne Cellars.
Oh, how I love Lake Tahoe! Brad and I usually visit a few times a year – once in the summer, once in the winter and if we’re lucky, once in the fall, but I dream about it year round. About a three and a half hour drive from Oakland, Tahoe is a gorgeous destination for a long weekend. Our favorite place to stay is South Lake Tahoe, at the Lakeshore Lodge and Spa. We love the deck, fireplace, hot tub, pool, and perfect lakefront views. This trip we stayed at The Hard Rock Hotel as a free holiday through the Kars 4 Kids program, so we mainly stayed around Heavenly Village.
Here are some of our favorite things to do for a fabulous winter holiday:
Go for a hike and breathe in the breathtaking views:
Hikes are gorgeous and plentiful in Lake Tahoe! We drove straight to Heavenly and chose a trail at Van Sickle National Park. We used the All Trails app.
Have some lunch at Heavenly Village: we like California Burger Company. Grab a place by the outdoor fire pits, order a happy hour boozy slushie (I highly recommend the Cherry Limeade), a gourmet burger with onion rings, and if you’re lucky soak up the sun! Enjoy the live music and views of the surrounding snow topped mountains. The bustling, joyous atmosphere can’t be beat.
Go snowshoeing! Rent your gear from Rip N Willies, Choose one of the many gorgeous trails, marvel at the sprawling cabins along the road on the drive up, and enjoy sweeping views with almost no people! Hiking through the glittering snow, the scent of pine in the air, fresh stag prints in the snow, and the panoramic views was incredibly peaceful. We had glorious weather – sunny and about 50 degrees in January. Aside: snowshoeing really takes it out of you. Brad swears our trip was only 3 miles, but it felt like at least 6! Tip: The earlier, the better for a hike.
Grab a fantastic breakfast at The Driftwood Cafe. Homey, cozy cafe with super friendly staff at Heavenly Village. Serves brekkie until 3pm. We woke up early, went snowshoeing and then for pancakes. It was a perfect day!
Nightlife: Lounge by the fire pits, enjoy some live music at Basecamp Pizza and check out one of the bustling eateries at Heavenly Village. We like Azul for the vibrant scene and shrimp fajita bowls. We also really like McDuff’s – a rustic scottish pub in South Lake serving comfort pub food with a chill vibe.
Alpine Union – Bar outside of Hard Rock cafe with patio and expansive fire pits. We swear we saw Fitz & The Tantrums performing here one year, before they were famous!
Check out the listings for cabins for sale and drive around dreaming about living in Tahoe year round!
Final notes: Winter trips to Tahoe are a completely different experience to summer. Summer holidays all about enjoying the glittering, cerulean lake, swimming in the refreshingly frigid, take your breath away water, hiking one of the many glorious trails, picnics, and lounging on a deck sipping your drink of choice while the sun sets magenta and fire orange over the mountains. I plan to write about a summer Tahoe getaway in an upcoming post.
Oh, St. Orres in Gualala! We have been visiting this Russian themed Inn with rustic cabins on the northern California coast for seven years. Good friend’s told us about this place, and we haven’t looked back since. We recently spent a long weekend at the Rose Cottage in December for my birthday. St. Orres is impossibly romantic and relaxing.
We usually stay at the Rose cottage, a beautiful cabin with fire place, deck, a view of the sea and unbelievably comfy beds. Breakfast is delivered to your door each morning, to be enjoyed in bed. Rosemary, the on site chef usually serves fresh fruit and homemade coconut granola, ginger bread and a creamy veggie quiche. Nibbling breakfast and sipping hot coffee in the plush bed, while listening to the crackling fire and taking in the sea views is the most relaxing and luxurious experience.
They also have a beautiful secluded beach about a ten minute walk down the road, with sweeping sea views along the hike, and a hot tub. We like to jump in the hot tub around sun set for a leisurely soak with views of the sea.
Gualala has a four start restaurant in their atrium, which is lovely, but we like meals at the bar best of all. Surrounded by wood paneling and stained glass windows the bar is gorgeous. St. Orres serves the world’s best basil martinis, you can smell the muddled mint on the air as the bartender strides by, and they serve yummy bar bites, such as coconut shrimp, chili relleno, shrimp quesadillas, mussels in wine, great fries and aioli.
Baby Brad, our first trip
We have also stayed at the Wildflower lodge – a smaller cabin with a literal deck in the redwoods and Sequoia, a gorgeous expansive cabin with deck, sea views and a sunk in Japanese tub.
Oh, just reading on our deck IN THE FOREST!
More Gualala Pics:
Toasting St. Orres!
Basil martinis ❤
*Note: In the spirit of honesty, I will say we had a few disappointments this time around. The fireplace in the Rose Cottage was out of order, and lounging in front of the crackling fireplace reading books and listening to the sound of the ocean crashing against the shores is one of the main draws of the cabin. We spoke to Rosemary the owner about it, hoping that she would comp us a night or at least a meal because we have been visiting this place for the past seven years, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries but instead she was aggressive and quite off putting. Then, the last evening I got food poisoning. I think, sadly enough, this will be our last trip to Gualala. But, we do have some gorgeous, magical memories!