Thursday, September 29, 2011


As a Southern California gal, I have a deep love for all things CA. My deepest love might just be for this place.

If you have ever been to Texas, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, or California, I hope that you felt the magnetic pull of the neon arrow. The menu is basic at best. If you are looking for selection, this little slice of heaven is not for you. If you like the gooey goodness of this, though, heaven awaits you.

(In-N-Out images via Pinterest)

MMMMM. Yummy. All of a sudden I am feeling a little homesick. Imagine my shock, awe, and disappointment when I was reading my favorite magazine, Food & Wine,  and stumbled upon the following quote: "As a native Californian, I grew up loving the famous In-N-Out Double Double, but the Paradise Burger (oak-grilled with cheddar, onions and tomato) blows it away." Jesse Rodriguez, sommelier from San Diego had that to say about Paradise Cafe in Santa Barbara, California.

(Image from here)

How can this be? Did Food & Wine, a magazine I have always thought to be reputable, dare to blaspheme In-N-Out? Food & Wine  has never--let me repeat that--never lead me astray. The recipes have been divine. The restaurant reviews have been spot-on. The wine suggestions perfect. You see where my confusion lies, right? Years of consuming burgers, fries and shakes have told me one thing. Food & Wine has told me another.

Clearly there is only one remedy.

(Image from here via Pinterest)
 (Image from here via Pinterest)

(Image from here via Pinterest)

Yep. Road trip. I need to sample the Paradise Burger. While I'm there, I'll have to stop here...

Has anyone had the Paradise Burger? Does anyone else feel that Food & Wine might not be the food experts they claim to be? C, can you make a short trip for me and do some recon?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Movie Night

Beau and I have been dating for just over 18 months. I knew shortly into our first date that he was a wonderful man and that I'd see him again. (I was, of course, making the bold assumption that  I was charming him as much as he was charming me.) Obviously, I saw him again. (thus making me charming?) I actually saw him the very next day. I liked him that much.

What was it about that first date that got me? Aside from being so stinking handsome, he was also articulate, smart, well-read, and funny. I'd hit the online dating jackpot. I could go on with adjectives to further demonstrate my good fortune, but you get the point.

Some people put no value in a person being well read. I do. So, when beau recommended a few books to me on that first date I was more than impressed.

One book that he talked about (the only one that I have yet to read, actually) was Moneyball. He spoke at length about this one. Beau is from Massachusetts and was born a Red Socks fan. He experienced many, many cursed years as a member of that particular fan club. The ideas and principles in creating a team in Oakland that Michael Lewis pontificated about in Moneyball were the same tactics that the Red Socks later employed. Two years later they won the World Series. Because of that, Moneyball resonated with beau.

When the movie came out last week he wanted to see it. As much as I dislike staring at Brad Pitt for two hours, I decided I would see it even though I hadn't read the book yet.

And you know what? It is a really good movie. It is the basic underdog story. It is true. It is funny. It is believable. It is smart. It is about baseball. What more could you ask for in a sports story?

Once again, beau was dead on. I will continue to read the books that he recommends (except for the ones that are on the stock market...), I will continue to try to charm him, and I will continue to find him to be stinking handsome, charming, articulate, and well read.

What's the last movie you saw? Does a well read person make you swoon?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Loving Laundry

There is something very, very exciting going on in our house right now. I've been looking forward to it for a very long time. Months, in fact. i am doing laundry. At my house. Not the laundromat.

Yep, Tommy the plumber (here) got the gas hooked up to the drier and now we have the ability to  wash the mounds of laundry that have accumulated over the past few weeks. As you can see in the photo,  we haven't done the trim yet, and I need to figure out what to do about the door. but seriously, focus on what is important.

The laundry.

I don't want you to think I'm bragging, but tomorrow Tommy will also be finishing up the ducts. That means the AC will be working again. Woop woop.

Sometimes it is the little things that make me so happy.

What makes you happy?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Write on

The reason I started this blog is to fulfil one of my bucket list items: #16 Write more often. See, I love words. I love the way they are nuanced and there is (generally) a perfect word to fit every description or situation. Sometimes it takes quite a bit of work to formulate the perfect sentence; sometimes the perfect sentence is elusive. I love reading good writing and I aspire to write as well as possible. Prior to starting this little blog, I wasn't doing any writing at all. I knew there was something missing in my life and I was pretty certain that void had something to do with #16 not happening. I was happy with my life, but I could sense a gaping hole. I knew words were missing.

Often life gets in the way of the things we want to do. Since writing won't pay the bills for me at this point in time, I have to keep on keeping on. Actually, I get to do more than keep on. My day gig is pretty incredible; I get to teach writing. Granted I'm teaching writing to very reluctant writers, but every once in a while they surprise me. This morning I was wrapping up a talk about narrative writing and I noticed I had lulled my little muffins into a coma. In my defense it was only 8:00 a.m. At that point I had committed the cardinal sin of too much talk and not enough action.

So, I made them write. Instead of talking about writing, they wrote. I asked them to show me their morning. With words. I gave them four minutes (and counted them down on my fancy new interactive whiteboard that I can make moo, quack, or crow. Impressed? Don't be. See yesterday's post...) Next I had them show me a party (decidedly an unwise topic to ask for vivid description about since they don't think about their eighth birthday and ponies when I say the word "party." But, trust me, at this point, they were wide awake.)

Then, I asked for a time they were really nervous. At each moo, quack and crow they begged me for more time. When I challenged them to develop it further ("OK, now add a metaphor that isn't forced." "How about some dialogue. Make it authentic...") they pushed themselves. All of a sudden they were trying to outdo each other with suave and smooth metaphors that were perfectly placed.

Were they... ? No. Not...? Wait? Enjoying the craft of writing? What the....?

While there is the distinct possibility that moms put something in their eggs this morning, I'm thinking that there might be the possibility that for just a few moments I had twenty nine writers in my senior English class.

Today was a pretty good day.

What's on your bucket list?

(Images from here and here.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Because I'm Awesome...

I stole the title from Dwight Schrute. Maybe you know him. Maybe you can relate to him like I can...

I was watching The Office on Netflix and this scene reminded me that I didn't brag about my latest increase.  See, I got a raise the other day. It was the first raise we've earned in three years. And opening my paycheck the other day was much like christmas morning.

Because I'm awesome, I earned one half of one percent. Yes, my freinds you read that correctly. Perhaps that would be easier to comprehend in Arabic numbers: .05%.

So what does that equate to? After taxes I saw $5.83 in my paycheck. As a tea drinker, I can maximize that and purchase two Trenta iced teas from Starbucks. Per check. That's four teas a month.

Again, to clarify, the raise is largely because I'm awesome.

Don't get me wrong, I know in this economy I should be stoked that I saw any raise at all. And to be fair, we are also going to get a 2.5% bonus, so I know that my school system is working hard for me. I know that there have been huge federal, state and even city cuts that have made giving students a quality education and giving teachers a cost of living raise each year impossible. Since we are in the business of education, kids should obviously come first.

I've got four iced teas in my immediate future...oh, and when it cools down a bit I can go for hot tea and probably eake three teas a paycheck out of that. Also, my kids get a pretty ok education.

Oh, and I get the knowledge that, Like Dwight, I'm awesome.

What makes you awesome, dear readers?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Let There Be Light(s)

I suppose you have noticed the lack of kitchen updates. I know I have. Sadly, there was very little to update since Irene came through and washed out all of the newly run power lines under the house. (No oven! No outlets! No dishwasher! Aaak!) The duct work for heat and AC was filled with water, too. So, as we waited on insurance people, estimates, and people to be available to get the job started, the kitchen project came to a sad, screeching halt.

While we still have no AC (thank you, Mother Nature for being good to us and pushing this cold front through!), we now have power to the kitchen. No thanks to our kitchen contractor's electrician who "promised" several visits that never came to fruition. Instead, beau crawled under the house and cleaned out boxes and their newly corroded wires (all of this with the power off, of course) and the power was up and running. (He's my new hero!)

Never did I think I would be so pleased to see a digital clock. Those four green numbers mean that now I can bake. In my kitchen. Oh. my. goodness.

While he was wearing his handyman hat, beau also hung the light above the peninsula. Perhaps you recall from this post that I fell in love with a light that was just going to hang way too low. We returned the light of my dreams and I started a long and difficult search for a replacement. Our low ceilings and bar height dining area created a bit of a problem. Nearly every hanging light was going to hang too low to be practical.

Finally I found a solution that I found to be acceptable. It isn't perfect. I think it is too high, but with the option of too high or too low, we opted for a fixture that was going to be high.

Here's what I found, and what beau so beautifully installed.

Nice, huh? I like how it is some kind of strange combination of industrial and warm. Maybe the Oil Rubbed Bronze finish is what warms it up. (The flash makes it look silver in the second photo. Don't be fooled. It is ORB!) It isn't the  perfect fixture, but it is pretty great.

You know what is pretty perfect?

See the bar to the left of the lights? That, my friends, is lovely. Here's the whole thing.

There will be tile along the wall there, but we haven't found any that we love quite yet. We're still looking. Beau's travel schedule might put the tile project on hold for a little while.

All in all, things are shaping up here. It has been a slow and frustrating process. We were so close to done and then Irene came through to throw us off and slow things up a bit. Our laundry list of mini projects is still pretty lengthy, but things are happening. It is my sincerest hope that I will be able to show you some fantastic final photos relatively soon.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lend a Helping Hand

My dear friends,

I don't know Jen. I do know her story. I want to share it with you in the hopes that you can help in some way. Perhaps you can send Jen an encouraging note. Perhaps a meal. Or a prize for a fundraising raffle.

 Jen is from Falmouth, Massachusetts. She grew up with my beau. Her sisters are the same age as two of beau's sisters. Their families were friendly. She is the mother of twin boys. She is the wife of a loving husband. Jen has stage four breast cancer. It has progressed to her liver and bones. She is the same age as me; far too young to be facing cancer.

Can you imagine?

I can't.

This should be a time of joy.

She should be exhausted not from the sickness ravaging her body, but from her twin infants keeping her up at night.

She should be planning playdates and trips to the park instead of scheduling treatments and trips to doctors.

The uphill struggle this family faces is one that I can't even comprehend.

Take a moment, if you will, to go to the website created for Jen.

I know times are hard for many, but if you can spare the Target card you got when you bought two packs of razors or Tide, it would help. That stash of change in the laundry room might be enough to buy diapers for a week. Those little things add up, and things that may feel insignificant to you would be immensely significant to Jen and Garry. Money is not all that they need. If you can give prayer or kind words, I know they will be greatly appreciated. If you can, help spread the word about Jen. Share her website with as many kind people as possible.

In hope,

(Image from

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Are You a Kate or a Pippa?

I get all kinds of very intelligent publications. (I have been accused of being a magazine whore. Which, to be frank, is not an insult to me.) Those uber intelligent publications often send me emails. OK, "often" is a mild understatement. I. get. them. every. frickin'. day. Times a thousand. Usually I just click on the little box to get a green check mark and then hit delete to remove them en masse.

Today, though, I got an email with the intriguing subject " Are You a Kate or a Pippa?" It took me to this site from InStyle. Yeah, I know, you didn't believe me when I said I subscribe to intelligent publications. Now you feel silly for doubting. It's OK. Just please don't underestimate me in the future. Note my profile photo to the right. That was candidly snapped when I was doing some encyclopedic reading at the public library in NYC. That's how I roll.

Anywhoo. Back to the question at hand. Am I a Kate or a Pippa?


I'm a frumpy English teacher who dreams of having 1/100th of the wardrobe either of them has. Maybe 1/1000th.

I don't wear hats. I would love to, but I've never had occasion to do such. At least not hats like these. I do own approximately two ball caps. I never wear them. I also have a floppy sun hat. I don't wear it either, though I like to think it is as charming as Kates.
(From here)

And my formal gowns are a little less, well, formal.

(From here.)

I do actually own a very nice wrap dress. But it looks NOTHING like this on me. (Though Kate is too skinny here; a problem I never have. I don't think that is as positive as I make it sound.)

(From here.)

It is pretty clear that I am neither of these lovely ladies. I'm flattered, InStyle, that you think I can be compared to them, but let's be real. I don't have designers lining up to make me anything. They do send me coupons every once in a while. That should count for something, right?

Would you rather be a Kate, a Pippa or a someone else?

Top Five, For Sure

I have a really, really hard time picking favorites. I can't ever be certain enough to put the Amy's Favorite label on anything. Because what if it isn't in, say, a few days. What if I read a book that tops Jane Eyre (tough, I know), or bests Breakfast At Tiffany's (unlikely, Audrey, unlikely), or makes me swoon more than John Mayer (Gravity? One heck of a sexy song). You get it.

All of these things, in my humble, unschooled, slightly unrefined opinion, are great. But are they the best? I dunno. Quite often the rating of "All Time Favorite Forever" is completely dependent upon my mood. And my mood changes all the time. Just ask beau.

We live in a world of complete overstimulation. We have choices galore. Many of those choices are pretty darned fantastic. Can you blame me for being a little wishy-washy? (The only acceptable answer, of course, is "NO.")

Food, too, makes for an equally diverse and difficult genre from which to find my favorite. In fact, in all categories I choose to rebel against the favorite label. Instead I gravitate toward the land of "top five" lists. Sometimes they morph to "top seven" or "top 12" lists. I suppose it is annoying, but who cares? Who cares what my favorite movie is? Who gives any sort of thought to what I really, really, really love more than anything else, bestest forever?

Answer: No one. Not one single, solitary person. That includes me. I don't even give a fiddlers fart.

What is your point, Amy? Well, my point is that last night beau and I went to one of my favorite restaurants/wine bars with some wonderful friends/former neighbors who have taken military orders to Italy. It was what will probably be one of the last times we will get to see them. (Until we arrive at at their romantic Italian villa loaded down with bags enough to overextend our welcome...)

We dined at Sonoma Wine Bar & Bistro in Town Center in Virginia Beach. As is common when we go there, we had a wonderful time. It is really hard not to. Well, actually, my dear friend Angela had a terrible blind date there, but that shouldn't count. It wasn't Sonoma's fault he was drunk and arrogant. And that was years ago so it really shouldn't count.

Again, I digress. Perhaps I should let the images of the evening do (most of) the rest of the talking. I didn't have my camera with me (cardinal sin, I know) so my cruddy not-an-iPhone had to do the documentation.

For the main course Todd and I had Filet Tenderloin stuffed with roasted garlic Camembert, rosemary roasted potatoes, sautéed asparagus and a raspberry balsamic drizzle. .

Beau had Pasta Sonoma: Shrimp and scallops sautéed with fire roasted red peppers, zucchini, olives, tomatoes and tossed with feta cheese and penne in a garlic beurre Blanc sauce.

Bonnie opted for the Almond Scallops with grilled banana and spinach couscous and a white chocolate mushroom.

Needless to say, we were all very pleased with our choices. We stuffed ourselves, then made room for some of the most divine desserts. I went for the seasonal creme brulee. The season is chocolate. my favorite season of all...

 John had chocolate cake with caramel drizzle.

Bonnie and Todd had what might have been a chocolate turtle. I can't remember I was thrown off by the clear sugar legs it was standing atop. Cuh-razee.

Dessert was a momentary work of art. Then all of a sudden it was gone. I don't know exactly how that happened.

Because dinner was at a wine bar we had to have wine. We opted for an Italian wine in honor of their way-too-close departure. I loved it and will be seeking out more bottles for the wine cooler.

I was really bummed I didn't take pictures of us at dinner. In order to make up for that oversight, beau and I will have to go to Italy to take a fun group shot. 

We had such an amazing time with our friends (at a favorite restaurant). I'm sad to see them go, but I know they are moving on to the next adventure. Their two adorable children with already Italian names will thrive in a bilingual school, will see the world and will eat some amazing grub. Come to think of it, it might not be too late for them to adopt me... 

So, what's your favorite favorite? Are you as all over as I am?

(The clear, professional looking photos at the top of the post came directly from Sonoma's website.)

Saturday, September 10, 2011


As we all know, this weekend is a pretty important weekend. It seems impossible that ten years could have passed already, but tomorrow marks the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I briefly talked about it with my classes yesterday and had them do a quickwrite on thier memories of that day. I'm not sure if I should be sad or glad that most of my students' memories are fuzzy. Most of them were in second grade, and while many of my students are military kids, most of them seemed as if they were pretty removed from the horrific events that took place that day.

That night I remember finding comfort with friends. We all went to Cyndi's house after a day of pretending everything was ok so our students wouldn't become scared or upset. I snuck glances at the television in my classroom between classes and every 55 minutes the news became more and more grim. At Cyndi's, I remember watching the news and seeing the same terrifying images over and over again. They were burned into our minds. No matter how badly we wanted to look away we couldn't. We were witnessing the terrible reality of history.

I listened to NPR's StoryCorps on the way to work this week. One father, a retired fireman, spoke of losing his two sons who were both firemen on that day. He reflected on his last converstations with each of them. They both ended with "I love you." He has found comfort in those last three words to each of his heroic sons over the last ten years. I can't even begin to imagine how difficult the path to tomorrow's anniversary has been--for everyone who lost loved ones.

So, my friends, I hope that ten years later you find happiness and comfort on 9/11. I hope you find safety and security. I hope you find healing and recovery. I hope you find yourself with those you love. Hold them a little tighter tomorrow and let them know how much you love them.

To borrow a question from a song, "Where were you when the world stopped spinning that September day?"

(Image from here)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Some Very Serious Self Reflection

I have a bad habit.

I put things off.

And every year I vow to do a better job. ("This year I'm really going to be as organized as possible so I can grade papers as soon as they come in. Oh, and I'm not leaving school until the entire next month is planned. Maybe I'll have a cleaning schedule so the house will always be spotless.")

Lies. Bald faced, blatant lies.

And then I always feel the sting of being behind and rushed. ALWAYS. (Totally, 100% my fault, I know. But exposing my faults in the hopes of reaching self-actualization here, people.)

Someone made me a cute graphic. It is a little bit like mom. OK, a lot like mom. It is doing that mom lecture-y thing. I just had to go to Pinterest to find it... (Or I could have called my ma. This is so much more visually appealing, though. Sorry ma.)

And sadly, all I can say is: I didn't start today. Soon enough I really will wish I had done so. Like clockwork. What is that about old dogs and new tricks?

So, procrastinators out there, join me in putting off today what can be graded, read, planned, cleaned, or organized for another day. And it might not be tomorrow...

(Image here via pinterest.)

What is one of your biggest faults? What do you do about it? (Is it reading blogs and not commenting? I can help you...just leave a little comment. And then I'll be a therapeutic blog. Super!)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tea Tin for Teacher

A few days ago I expressed my love for Teavana here. Now that I am back to school, I will be drinking Teavana tea like it is going out of style. (It isn't. If I had my way it would NEVER go out of style.) I honestly think I consume four or five very large mugs of tea throughout the day. It helps that our little school coffee shop has an urn of hot water just for me! (OK, it isn't just for me, but it could be.)

When you buy your tea at Teavana, the very helpful and knowledgeable sales people will ask if you have an air tight tin in which to store your new purchase. They will then try to sell you a canister that ranges from $4.50 to $34.95. If you are like me and you purchase multiple flavors to add to the multiple flavors you already have at home, even those $4.50 tins add up. And I'm completely ignoring the fact that the less expensive tin is so not cute or decorative and thus not really an option. So, what do you do?

I always contemplate getting a tin or two to add to what I have. (I already have four from the wonderful Starter Kit beau got me for my birthday.) I always reconsider when the helpful salesperson tells me my total. I always worry beau would divorce** me if he actually heard that number, so adding to it never seems like a good idea.

As I was trying to get the unfinished kitchen in order and organized before I went back to school, I came across this tea tin with one tea bag inside.

This tea tin with one bag inside is air tight. Like the ones that are available at Teavana. But this one, my dear friends, is free. In my excitement I dumped the one tea bag into the trash. (I know, waste is bad. But I don't like Pumpkin and that same one bag of tea has been in the cabinet since before I started dating beau a year and a half ago. It was time to go even though it was in an air tight tin and probably still fresh.)

I peeled the label off and found a canister that looked much like the plain Jane $4.50 canisters (minus the logo, of course).

I could have just washed that badboy and had an industrial looking canister. But who wants that when you've got fabric and a hot glue gun?

I cut a piece of fabric left over from my little bench refinishing project (here).

Then I ironed a fold along the upper and lower edges to get rid of those fly-away threads and get a nice straight line.  Because I don't have the fabric for the curtains I hope to make (fingers crossed that I can learn to sew), this project is a rough draft. This fabric won't match the finished kitchen, so it'll have to be redone when I find the perfect fabrics. When I do that I'll use Therm O Web's HeatnBond to make the ironed fold stay permanently. Just imagine I did that here.

No, I did not iron directly on the granite. (Though I don't think it would matter.) The towel I ironed on clashed with the fabric and was just too ugly to be photographed. We all have bad days.

Next, I used my trusty hot glue gun to glue the edge of the fabric to the canister, wrapped the fabric around and glued the other edge (with a fold for a perfect seam) to the starting point. I also suggest a few dots of glue along the top and bottom of the canister to keep the edges against the canister.

Here's what I got.

Teavana puts removable labels on the bags of tea you buy, so I removed it from the bag and added it to the top of my now custom canister.

Now, when I am bleary eyed at the crack of dawn, my caffeine savior will be easy to find, fresh AND pretty. Whoo hoo. Who wouldn't want this scene to get the morning rolling?

My totally, 100% free project took me less than ten minutes, was easy enough for even me to do, and is completely functional. When I decide on my fabric for kitchen curtains, I'm going to redo this canister and all of the starter kit canisters. You can look for me in Martha Stewart Magazine*** then.

**No, we are not married. Don't worry moms, we'll let you know in a way other than a blog post. Perhaps even before the fact so you can, you know, witness the blessed event****.

*** That is a blatant lie. I will not be featured in Martha Stewart's magazine. Probably ever. Especially now that I have admitted to being a liar. Sigh.

**** In no way am I suggesting that said blessed event is right around the corner, so stop rolling your eyes, beau.

What was your easiest DIY project so far? Curtains, perhaps? Do share!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Back to School

Tomorrow is the first day of school. While I don't get nervous any more, I do get antsy and have quite a lot of first day anticipation. Will my kids be good? Will I get jerks? Will I manage to engage them? Will they learn? Will this be one of those years that flies by, or will I want to pull my hair out by the end of every day?

(Image from here via pinterest.)

I love what I do. I'm always excited about the possibilities that a new school year offers. I like the challenges and the successes. I love when kids who didn't think they would make it walk across the stage in June. Obviously, I also like my job because I am a greedy glory hound. Have you seen our salaries lately? I'm getting rich quick!!

Think back to your first days of school. Got any memories? Do you do anything cool to make the day memorable for your kids? Share, please!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lettter of Request

Dear Katia:

Your name evokes images of a sly, beautiful, Russian assassin. People don't like sly, beautiful, Russian assassins. You are, in reality, a hurricane. People don't like hurricanes either.

I guess what I am trying to say is that you are not welcome here. I humbly request that you, Katia, turn away from the East Coast. Quickly and swiftly. I do not wish to endure further flooding and damages. I do not wish my neighbors, near and far, to suffer further. Take your sinister force, menace and power and be gone.


*****UPDATE- Apparently Russian Spy/Diva sounding hurricanes can read. And read my blog. (Hallelujah, someone/thing is reading!!) Every Weather Channel projection map has her taking a detour away from the East Coast! Praise Jesus!

(Scary and not scary maps from The Weather Channel)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

James River Cellars Harvest Festival

After such a cruddy week, today's wine festival was a nice change! Mom and I were chauffeured to James River Cellars by the ever patient Perry. He dropped us off and went to fisherman's Mecca Bass Pro Shops. As per usual with Perry at the helm, we were way early. The nice people at James River didn't mind. They let us in and Mom and I snagged a pretty sweet table. Here was our view of the little setup.

The folks in the bottom photo are hard core wine festival people. I aspire to be them some day. Notice the picnic basket the guy in the middle has. And the lady to the far left has a collapsible wooden wine table. These are the subtle markers of wine festival experts.

Mom and I aren't novices, though. We had a pretty sweet little setup going on at our table.

We did forget to bring chocolate, so we aren't as pro as we'd like to be. Our setup was so jealousy-inducing that we had visitors who wanted to share our table. (OK, OK, they wanted the seats at the end of the table, but I'm sure our setup was attractive to them, too.) They had four dogs with them. This was my favorite one. He climbed up in my lap to say hi.

I don't think he was a fan of the paparazzi snapping shots, and I didn't want to be the weirdo who was taking a gazillion photos of a stranger's dog, so I only got a few awkward ones of him. This is my favorite. He was coming to say hi to me.

I had a Boxer when I was little. This guy reminded me of Bo, sweet tempered and with that big ol' noggin. They are awesome dogs and now I want one. I always want dogs when I see them. Babies, diamonds and chocolate, too.

Our awesome table was right next to the band. I'd never heard of Rockfish Willie before today, but I really loved their folksy sound. The link will take you to a site that has samples of their music. I highly recommend them. I'll be adding their Kurt Stemhagen's The Rockfish Willie Sessions to my playlist immediately.

My mom hates to have her picture taken, but I snapped this candid one that I think is just super cute. Look how sassy she is in her shades. She was being very mom-like and cutting me a slice of apple. You can tell she's handling a knife by that sheer concentration.

After we sampled wines from the four vineyards there, we took a tour of the James River Cellars and got to see their steel barrels. They were full to the brim with whites that had been picked and pressed before Mean Irene could destroy the grapes.

 We also did a vertical taste of their Chambourcins from 2002 to 2006. It was the first vertical taste mom and I had ever done. I think it might have been more educational if we hadn't already consumed the better part of a bottle of 2010 Reserve Chardonnay. Oops.

We also got to taste some Chardonel grapes that had just been picked the day before. They tasted like grapes. Cool.

All in all, it was a winetastic afternoon. Perry came to pick us up and take us home and was not at all judgmental of our drunken state. He makes a most fantastic DD!

I ended up taking what might have been a three hour nap on the comfy couch in the front room. While I was doing that filets and corn on the cob magically got grilled and these guys showed up to join us for dinner.

They were obviously welcomed with open arms mouths. I had a claw, which was yummy, but messy. If you know me at all, you know that I'm not a fan of dismembering my dinner or getting messy while eating. The claw was a nice taste, but enough to sufficiently gross me out. (Cracking shells, flying pieces, ripping the body apart, that mysterious oozy "mustard" that is most decidedly not mustard...that's all enough to make me pass when crustaceans are on the menu.)

All in all, despite earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, broken cars, and not enough time in the week, life is pretty darn fantastic. It is amazing what great company, wine and food can do to my spirit.

How are you guys spending this last official weekend of summer?