Stuck in My Head

Who doesn’t love Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen? No one!

Here’s another Queen song that has been perpetually stuck in my head for quite some time.



Wine Tasting 101

A few weeks ago, I took Stephen wine tasting for the first time. There’s no better place than the Willamette Valley for wine tasting and it was really fun to go without my parents (no offense guys…after 20 years of tagging along, it was about time I get out on my own right?). And I even joined a wine club!

The Willamette Valley has over 400 wineries and vineyards, which can make planning a day to go wine tasting sort of intimidating. With so many options, how do you pick one over another?

While some people will opt for a tour to take them through the valley, (and there are plenty of good options, including bike tours or tours on horseback) I like to go on my own, take my time and keep a flexible schedule.

Having a picnic lunch at a winery with a good lookout is always a good option. My favorite place to get picnic food is red Hills Market. Great pizza, sandwhiches, and a variety of cheese, wine and other drinks all to go. Perfect.

Now, I haven’t come even close to exploring the valley but here is a quick list of my Top 5 wineries and why they are my favorites.

1. My favorite winery in the whole valley is probably Torii Mor. My parents turned me on to them, and their back patio is a beautiful place to sit with a sandwhich to enjoy their pinots. My favorite is the Olalla Vineyard Pinot, but take home a bottle of their port for kicks.

2. If you’re looking for spectacular views, there is no better place to visit than Penner-Ash. Come visit on a clear day to see Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson. You’ll see me behind the counter, pouring wine.

3. Four Graces was the first wine club I joined and I love their wines, their tasting room and their property. Just off 99W in Dundee, Four Graces is a sweet oasis off the highway.

4. One word: SPARKLING. Who doesn’t love bubbles?? Argyle Winery is the only winery in the valley with a huge focus on bubbles. Be wowed by their Brut and their delicious Nuthouse Pinot, but hold out for their Black Brut sparkling wine. That’s the one to take home.

5. Tendril is a fairly new winery in the area, and it’s WAY OUT in the boonies. You get off the main road, take a gravel road, turn onto another gravel road which turns into another gravel road. But despite it’s middle-of-nowhere location, the wines are stellar. Try the Tightrope Reserve. It’s lovely in a bottle.

Blueberry-Almond-Spinach Smoothie

I love smoothies. They just scream summer and sunshine and fresh fruit. So of course during the summer, when the produce is abundant and there’s tons of sunnny rays to be had, I like to make smoothies.

And of course, there is always the benefit that you can put pretty much whatever you want in a smoothie and it will taste good. The magic of fruit!

So I thought I’d share with you all one of my favorite smoothies that I’ve come up with this summer. It ridiculously easy and delicious, not to mention healthy!

Blueberry-Almond-Spinach Smoothie


-a handful of almonds (or some other nut. Pecans, walnuts or peanuts have all ended up in this)

-frozen blueberries

-a big heaping handful of spinach

-a splash of milk

-yogurt, if you choose. (I like to match my yogurt flavors to the fruit that is going in my smoothie. So, I used blueberry greek yogurt for this.)

I start by getting the almonds (or whatever nut you’re using) to fine little pieces. Just throw them in the blender and pulse a couple times until they’re fine slivers.

Next I add in the blueberries and a splash of the milk, with the yogurt and spinach on top. I blend it all and if I need to make it more smooth or more liqiud-y as opposed to ice cream-y, I add more milk.

Refrigerate the leftovers for up to two days.

Easy peasy right? And it tastes delicious and it’s a great way to sneak in those all-important leafy greens. YUM.

The Wonderful Web

Goodness it’s been a busy week! I went to a wedding yesterday, have work tomorrow and then get a week with two dear girlfriends who are/will be in town. Not a lot of time for links, but here are the highlights. Enjoy!

this article resonated SO MUCH.

Donuts and Whiskey? Sounds like a party to me!!

-I had no idea Vegas was more than casinos! Just kidding, I did. But still.

this is hilarious (and entirely inaccurate). It probably came from a list of why women shouldn’t be ordained.

Disney lovers of the Elite kind

10 Trips to Take in Your Twenties

-and to finish out, the Pope said this incredible quote at World Youth Day recently. Let it resonate.

“We need saints without cassocks, without veils – we need saints with jeans and tennis shoes. We need saints that go to the movies that listen to music, that hang out with their friends. We need saints that place God in first place ahead of succeeding in any career. We need saints that look for time… to pray every day and who know how to be in love with purity, chastity and all good things. We need saints – saints for the 21st century with a spirituality appropriate to our new time. We need saints that have a commitment to helping the poor and to make the needed social change. We need saints to live in the world, to sanctify the world and to not be afraid of living in the world by their presence in it. We need saints that drink Coca-Cola, that eat hot dogs, that surf the internet and that listen to their iPods. We need saints that love the Eucharist, that are not afraid or embarrassed to eat a pizza or drink a beer with their friends. We need saints who love the movies, dance, sports, theater. We need saints that are open sociable normal happy companions. We need saints who are in this world and who know how to enjoy the best in this world without being callous or mundane. We need saints.”

Friday Faves

It was a busy week! My parents were in town as was a friend from Northern California. Stephen and I made dinner for my parents on Tuesday night (a blog post is forthcoming) and Renee and I went to OMSI After Dark to see Mummies and explosions. Fun week.

What about you?

Book to Read:

Divine Vintage: Following the Wine Trail from Genesis to the Modern Age

Wine and the bible…this is a book I could get behind!

Thing to Make:

no-bake buttermilk pancake layer cake with malted pecan Buttercream {whoa.}

Weekly Adventure:

Favorite Quote:

The Little Things....

Place I’m Craving:

Stockholm, Sweden

The Great List-Salade Nicoise

Another duo of recipes from the delicious French cookbook.

Renee and Hope came over and we spent the evening making salad nicoise, which is a french salad filled with every veggie imaginable, plus delicious olives and the best dressing I’ve ever had. It’s amazing what lemon juice can do for veggies. Plus, I had enough leftovers for two days!

AND…drum roll please: I made a successful souffle!! It puffed up and everything. We made a cheese souffle, using Gruyere cheese (which is pretty incredible cheese). I intended to split the recipe in half but accidentally put in too much milk and too many egg yolks. Ah well, you lose some, you learn some. And they still rose and tasted delicious. I’m seriously proud guys.

Aren’t they pretty??

Renee finished off the evening with a delicious berry tart. This girl is like the tart queen of Newberg.

Recipe Count: 4/42

Travel Tuesdays: How Do I Plan?

The next installment in Travel Tuesdays!

After figuring out where to go, the next step is to do some research.

Now for those of you who automatically get freaked out by the thought of researching anything or planning things in advance, don’t worry. I’m not telling you to plan every single moment of your trip. I am telling you that having a general idea of what you want out of your trip is one of the most sure-fire ways to have a good experience.

The internet is full of travel blogs, travel sites and travel guides. These give you great information on the place you’re going, whether it’s what food to eat, what museums to visit or what sights to see.

My favorites are:

  • Yes and Yes-for great mini travel guides written by natives or expats
  • Nomadic Matt-everything you could ever want to traveling for the cheap
  • The Gypsygals: Solo Female Travel-lots of info on traveling if you’re a single gal
  • TripAdvisor-for ratings on everything from hotels to activities
  • AirBnb-the best place to find places to stay, especially if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path

If you’re traveling with other people, it’s always especially good to have some loose plan, just so everyone is on the same page. Nothing can break up a good travel relationship like mismatched expectations. Plan out generally how much time you want to spend in each location you visit and what your top three things to do/see/eat are. That way everyone can get at least something included in the trip that they want.

It’s a good thing to accept that you aren’t going to be able to see every single thing you want to see on your vacation. That’s why I suggest picking the most important things you want to see. Say your top three, or top five, depending on how much time you have.

Research where you have to be, when things are open and if you need advance tickets or special visas or paperwork. Research which trains you should take, at least so you have a general idea of how the system works or if taking a bus or a car would be a better use of time and money.

By picking out the things you absolutely want to see and having a back up plan, your trip will go on without a hitch.