Monday, July 18, 2011

Costa Rica bound...

I'm heading to Costa Rica for the next couple of weeks and will be without my computer. Gasp. However, I will be bringing my camera along and will blog all about it when I return {as well as picking up where I left off on our honeymoon posts}.

Au revoir for now. 


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ann & George's Bed and Breakfast in Paso Robles...

The morning before my birthday we got in the car and headed west. When I started seeing signs for wineries I thought we could be headed to Paso Robles but didn't want to get my hopes up in case Ian drove right on by.  When we turned down a windy dirt rode I knew my suspicions were correct. I have never been wine tasting and I've always wanted to go to Paso. The dirt rode continued for a while and then there was a gorgeous vineyard, a few more twists and turns and I saw a beautiful house on the top of the hill. We pulled into a little gravel driveway and were greeted by a sweet little dog and a man named George who was working on the yard.

 The road that leads to Ann & George's Bed and Breakfast

The driveway.

The patio area.

Now if I had to cast the perfect grandfather type, George would fit the bill. George introduced himself and the dog whose name was Roxy. I have to say I was a bit confused, I figured we were going to a bed and breakfast but this didn't seem like any bed and breakfast I've ever been to. The setting and greeting felt so personal I actually had the thought, "Is Ian surprising me with family I never knew I had?"


George apologized for greeting us in his work clothes {very endearing} and led us through the front door to meet his wife, Ann. Ann quickly came and introduced herself. You know how sometimes meeting new people can be a bit awkward? {Maybe that's just me...I get so shy with introductions} Well, there was none of that. Ann made us feel welcomed instantly. She picked up on Ian's British accent and Scottish last name and told us about her Scottish heritage. She was bubbly and warm I liked her right away. After chatting a bit Ann showed us around the house, which was gorgeous and the views...breathtaking. Then she asked us if we were hungry for a fruit and cheese plate. Of course our answer was yes, please!! She asked what kind of wine we preferred and handed us our snacks and Chardonnay {which was the best I've ever had}. Before going about her business she told us to make ourselves at home and to not feel obligated to engage in conversation with her or George if we didn't feel like it {which I couldn't imagine...I could've chatted happily with the both of them all day} She wanted to make us feel as comfortable as possible and she succeeded.

 Our room.

At this point I was giddy and after drinking a glass of wine and eating delicious fruit and cheese I was trying to figure out a way we could rent our room from Ann and George permanently. The room was full of wonderful details - they had really thought of everything...a small portable fan in the bathroom, a drawer full of toiletries, full size body wash, shampoo and conditioner in the shower, plush robes in the closet, a fly swatter, a CD player with a nice selection of CD's, a coffee maker, an assortment of teas, wine, I could go on and on.

 Little details.

Ian had planned out the rest of the day so after settling in we got in the car to go to our second destination. After a short scenic drive we pulled up to River Oaks Hot Springs Spa. I have never been to a hot springs spa was amazing. We had a half hour in the hot springs tub with a bottle of champagne and then I had a deep tissue massage. A warm early evening summer breeze encompassed us as we left the spa and I truly felt like a new person {I realize this sounds extremely corny but it's true so I can't delete it}.

Onto destination number three...dinner. As per the suggestion of Ann and George we went to Thomas Hill Organics. We sat on the patio with white string lights above us. It was gorgeous and the food was spectacular. Especially the scallops, if you ever go order the scallops... you will not regret it.

 Me feeling like a new person.

After dinner we headed back home {home being Ann & George's}. Ann and George had just gotten back from dinner themselves and we chatted about our evening and then said goodnight. Ian and I grabbed a glass of red wine and went to sit out on the patio. I have never in my life seen so many stars. It literally took my breath away...I even saw a shooting star and I made a wish. Perfection.

 The starriest sky I've ever seen.

*A really nice touch...I had brought a bottle of water in with me when I arrived. I had left it out empty and Ann rinsed it out and filled it up again and had it chilling in the refrigerator for when we returned.

It doesn't end there. When we went down for breakfast the next morning Ann and George were already busy preparing everything. We chatted a bit with the other couple that were staying and then we sat down at the dining room table and ate the most delicious breakfast, much better than you would get in any restaurant. Since it was my birthday Ann put a candle on my fresh out of the oven croissant and everyone sang me, "Happy Birthday." Super sweet.  The best part of breakfast was that Ann and George sat down and ate with us. We were able hear great stories about wonderful birthdays George threw for Ann. We also heard about some birthday and Valentine's Day doozies. There were many laughs and the time seemed to fly by.

 Breakfast, I was too excited to dig in to frame this photo properly.

After breakfast we roamed around the vineyard for a while and Ann helped give us suggestions on things to do later that evening.

Ann and George's vineyard.

It was the 4th of July so we were trying to find out the best place to watch fireworks. After settling on watching the fireworks at Meridian Vineyards we headed to our wine tasting at Justin Vineyards. Ann packed us a little bag of cheese, crackers, fruit and homemade oatmeal raisin cookies {so delish} so we wouldn't get too hungry while we were there.

We took the Barrels and Bottles tour led by a young man named Brian, who really knew his stuff. It was the last tour they were giving for the day and we were the only ones in it, our own personal wine tasting. Then we headed to Meridian where we listened to music, ate watermelon and steak sandwiches and watched the fireworks over the vineyard. The sunset was especially gorgeous.

Our last morning George made corn pancakes which were so scrumptious. I'm really picky about pancakes and he got these just right. The weather was so nice we were able to eat outside at the table on the porch overlooking the vineyard. Ann and George joined us and we were lucky enough to hear more wonderful stories. I really didn't want to leave. We are already planning our next trip there. Which is a really good thing because the morning after our stay I woke up wishing I was back at Ann and George's.

Chatting with Ann.

If you ever find yourself in Paso Robles do yourself a favor and stay with Ann and George. It will be an experience you will never forget. It was the highlight of our trip and the best birthday I've had yet.

4th of July {my birthday}: The cake post....

This year goes down as one of my favorite birthdays ever. Ian told me that he was taking me on a surprise trip and I was thrilled. Everything was taken care of, no decisions needed to be made {I'm terrible at being decisive} and I didn't have to worry about a thing. Except for what I was going to pack...which can always be challenging.

We woke up early Saturday morning and headed north. After a couple hours in the car we got off in the town where most of my family resides. Ian told me he had to pick something up at Target and I believed him. Before I knew it we were pulling up to my brother's house where everyone was expecting us for a barbeque.

The men cooked and I took some pictures.

Then we had birthday cake but not just any birthday cake. The best birthday cake in the world from Smith's Bakery seen here. I have had one every. single. year. of my life. I thought this year might be the first time I went without it...but Ian knew better than to deny me my birthday cake. It is so good if I had to choose a last meal Smith's cake would be it. Nothing else, just the cake with lots of frosting.

 I didn't get a proper picture of the cake because I blew out the candles in lightening speed {I knew what my wish was ahead of time this year} and we dug right in. Then I felt nauseous from all the sugar. At which point the only thought in my head was, "Hopefully this sick feeling will go away soon so I can eat another piece of cake." I might have a slight addiction. Which is why I thought the cake deserved an entire post unto itself. More on the rest of the trip in the following post.

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