Red Wine Tasting

We had so much fun taste testing and choosing the white wine for our wedding (see the post here!), we knew we wanted to have another get together to taste and choose our red wine!

We’re big fans of boxed wines. They’re eco-friendly and you get more bang for your buck, so they were an obvious choice. It will also be a little easier on our bar tender during the wedding! Read on for the taste test results!

00 red wine title


The Wines



The Participants



The Process

Each wine was labeled with a number. We gave everyone a glass and a note card so they could score each wine. We had appetizers and served a spaghetti dinner and at the end of the night I tallied the scores and the wine with the highest score will end up being the wine we will server at our wedding next June!



The Scores


Maria Jola Red Sangria


Marla Jola Red Sangria

Wendy: Very sweet. Citrus-y. 4/5
Christy: Yum! Very fruity! 1st choice.
Jean: #1!!
Steve: Favorite!
Tara: Very sweet. Almost tastes non-alcoholic. Good overall. 4/5
Kyle: Better or equal to #5
Shelley: Almost too sweet, but bold and yummy. mmm 3.9/5
Brian: Sweet.






Black Box Pinot Noir


Black Box Pinot Nior

Wendy: Oak after taste. 3/5
Glenn: Good.
Christy: Okay. A little bitter. 5th choice of the 5.
Tara: A little bit-y/tannin-y. 3/5
Kyle: Less good than #3
Shelley: Wintery, bold, not for a summer wedding.







Bota Box Cabernet Sauvignon


Bota Box Cabernet Sauvignon

Wendy: Tangy. 2/5
Christy: Good. Better than #2. Second choice of the 5.
Tara: A little bite but very good. 4/5
Kyle: Not as good as #4
Shelley: Mmmm, fresh for a cab. 4.5/5
Brian: Favorite.







Black Box Merlot


Black Box Merlot

Wendy: Berry flavors. 3/5
Glenn: Good!
Christy: Better than #2. Just as good as #3.
Jean: Second favorite
Steve: Second favorite
Tara: 5/5
Kyle: Not as good as #5
Shelley: Dry. Yummy. 3.7/5
Brian: Really good.






Trader Joe’s Block 67 Cabernet Sauvignon


Trader Joe’s Block 67 Cabernet Sauvignon

Wendy: Woody. Oak after taste. 3/4
Christy: I like this a lot #2 choice.
Steve: No.
Tara: Good. Would be liked by most. 5/5
Kyle: Good. Smooth
Shelley: Yes! Yum! 4.2/5
Brian: 2nd favorite.







And our winner is…

Marla Jola Red Sangria!

After tasting all of the wines, and considering the other drink choices for the event, we decided that the sangria was very wonderful, but maybe a little too sweet for what we were looking for. The close runner up was the Trader Joe’s Block 67: Cabernet Sauvignon, so we’re going to served that at our wedding next summer!

Try them out and let me know what you think!

In 2017 we…

In the Winter of 2017, Brian proposed! I also went through our entire house and donated or tossed any unneeded, unused, unloved items. Calliope had her first vet appointment and last, we celebrated Brian’s Birthday in Vegas!

In the Spring of 2017, we began to plan our wedding. Brian also started work on the backyard. He redesigned the sprinkler system and built a cement slab for our new shed. We also attended our friends Anna and Ross’ wedding.


In the Summer of 2017, we celebrated our engagement with a fun party! We enjoyed our backyard and went to the Farmer’s Market every week. We also went on a camping trip to Yosemite.


In the Fall of 2017,  we lost a chicken. 😦 We spent more time in the backyard at our fire pit. We also took a few weekend trips to the Bay Area and Brian finally got to see his favorite band, Clutch. 

Stay tuned to see what fun shenanigans come up in 2018!

2017 Intentions Wrap Up

2017 was a great in year for me. At the start I made 5 amazing intentions that helped me approach my life in a way I’d never done before. In the past, I made intentions (or resolutions) that were full of action and goals. This year, I decided to make intentions that tended to my approach and behavior. I made these intentions based on what I value, not what I hoped to gain. I typed them out and emailed them to myself. I kept the email in my inbox and checked back whenever I felt I needed to be reminded of their descriptions. Here’s a look at my intentions and how some were applied throughout 2017.


This intention is about making decisions in the present moment with only considering what is best for that moment, based on intuition. The theory is that when you apply this method, you make the true choice, given the circumstances, and the future that correlates with your choices unfolds.

This intention is about not considering my past experiences and what I hope or fear the future will be when I make current decisions.

To me, it’s important to not let my past experiences weight as much because the emotional context that made up those past situations are not equivalent to the one in the present moment. We are always learning and changing so, to me, that emotional data doesn’t apply the same to most current situations that I face.

This intention applies to the future in a different way. I do hold values and take actions for a healthy future and I don’t want to make those decisions based on what I hope, anticipate or expect the future to be. If I make the good, joyous choice now, I will then create a good and joyous future as a result of those choices.

Helpful resources: The Lively Show PodcastAbraham Hicks


This intention was simply a reminder to be patient. What will happen, will happen and only I can control my perspective of those events. This intention served as a reminder to spend more quality downtime with Brian and to not over plan and fill my life with events and commitments.

Reading resources: Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path by Erin Loechner



I’ve always had a feeling the day would come when I decided to downsize my material possessions. I have always been a pack rat. I loved to collect things, but I’ve had a hard time letting go of things. Last January, in effort to break these habits, I threw out or donated 60% of our items and throughout the year I have continued to minimize and only keep essentials.
This was inspired by reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo and I was able to easily maintain the changes I had made by listening to the weekly podcast created by The Minimalists.
And don’t worry, there are more photos and an entire blog to document parts of this journey.



As an introvert, I find it challenging to be direct and express my thoughts the way I intend them to be expressed. This intention was to remind myself to not hold back because of fear of what someone might think or say. I also wanted to show myself some love and compassion for those times when I mispronounce a word or my mind goes blank in conversations. It happens, I just need to take a deep breath and keep going.




An active, fit, healthy, lifestyle is one of my dearest values. I feel at my best when I workout daily. This includes biking with Brian, hiking by myself or my girlfriends, walks on my lunch-break, or doing a 15 minute Tone It Up YouTube video each day.

This intention was also about approaching fitness not for vain results that can stem from external expectations, but from a positive, joyous, heart forward perspective. This held me accountable for making choices that lined up with my personal values.


There it is. My 5 intentions from 2017. After reflecting on the year, I feel gratitude toward my friends and family for helping me to keep to these intentions. I am also proud of myself for putting time and attention aside to work on getting to know myself better. Stay tuned for more updates about fitness, alignment before action (and how I’ve approached wedding planning with this in mind) and of course, minimizing our possessions.

Succulent Planting Party


This Christmas we invited our nieces over to plant succulents. This was a fun way to spend time together and learn a little about gardening. Our materials were:

  1. Planting pot
  2. Potting soil for succulents or cacti
  3. Scissors
  4. Thin spade
  5. Towel for cleaning
  6. Decor, rocks, driftwood, shells, etc (optional)
  7. A variety of succulents. I got a 6 pack at Home Depot + I clipped a few that were around the house already. We had about 8 different kinds to choose from.

We clipped our succulents and planted the small pieces within the pots. Each pot could fit 3-5 varieties of succulents. After the succulents were in place, we added more soil to fill the pot about a 1/2 inch to an inch from the rim.

We watered our mini succulent garden and added decor. Decor is optional, of course. We added rocks and shells.

We will place the succulents in a sunny warm place. In the Summer they will be outside in the sun. Once it starts to turn cold, we will bring the succulents inside. We’ll place them in a windowsill or in a place where they will get plenty of light.

Here were our finished products!

San Francisco Photo Journal Playlist

Yesterday, I walked the streets of San Francisco with my coffee cup, camera and a fitting playlist. I started downtown and made my way from Chinatown through North Beach and cut up Lombard Street. I turned when a street felt interesting, I went up hills when my legs felt strong, I took photos when I felt curious. I made my way past my old home on Market Street and into the Mission to eat at my favorite Mexican restaurant, Pancho Villa – Go there! I hopped on a bus to the Embarcadero and ended up back in North Beach, for cappuccino gelato, of course. Here’s a peek at the photos I took, along with a list of the music that accompanied me though my day.

SF Walkabout Playlist

Jolie Holland – Sasha
The Velvet Underground – Some Kinda Love
Cat Power – Aretha, Sing One For Me
Vasolines – Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam
Dinosaur Jr – Feel the Pain
Wilco – Cold Slope
Violent Femmes – American Music
Pixies – Head On
Sonic Youth – Kool Thing
The Stooges – I Wanna be your Dog
T Rex – Telegram Sam
David Bowie – Queen Bitch
Nico – These Days

01 Lombard and Larkin

Lombard Street


03 Between Russian Hill and Alamo Square

Between Russian Hill & Alamo Square


04 16th and Dolores

16th & Dolores


05 Market & Laguna

Market & Laguna


06 Market St

Market Street


07 Embarcadero



08 Pier 7

Pier 7

Table Mountain Picnic Photo Journal


Last Spring we packed a backpack full of snacks and games and drove to Table Mountain.
We spent the late morning hiking through the wildflowers and rocky streams.
Here’s the photographs from our beautiful morning date.

Part of the magic of a date like this is the food and drink!
I love preparing and packing nutritious, and of course, delicious, snacks for these types of occasions.
Below are my essentials for this particular picnic.

No picnic is complete without a few rounds of gin rummy and a bit of 1,4,24 🙂

First year with our chickens


We’re celebrating our first year anniversary with our chickens! It’s been such a successful and fun adventure. We’ve done a ton of research, made a few mistakes but hundreds of eggs later it’s been an overall success! Here’s some highlights of our life with our 4 chickens!

When we first got them they lived in a tub in our living room. They had food, shelter, a heat lamp and each other for company. We would hear their little chirps while we watched “Game of Thrones” and that was when they met Calliope and became friends.

The chickens lived in the tub for a few weeks until it was obvious they out grew it. One evening we were eating dinner and all 4 of them kept flying out and getting loose around the living room. It was time for them to move out the next day!

We bought a chicken coop online and assembled it in the backyard. The above photos are the chicks first time in the backyard. The head chick was always on the lookout for danger. She’s the one with her head straight up in all of the photos.

We painted the coop and placed it in a fenced in area so the chicks could have some space during the day. Our backyard wasn’t fully fenced at the time so we needed a place for them to run free during the day.


Our first egg

Finally toward the end of summer they gave us our first egg!

Today our chickens are an integral part of our life. We get up early to open their home and feed them. We let them loose while we work in the yard. They even follow us around in the yard all day. I talk with them while I weed (chirp, chur, burr, chirp!) and Brian chases them with his guitar when they get loose in the front yard. Haha! They were also featured in my alter ego self portrait project for school last semester.

Each night we tuck them in and close up their home and thank them for the eggs they gave us. I couldn’t imagine living without these little ladies. They are such a fun part of our family and I highly recommend owning a few!

How 9 Days in a National Monument Changed My Life

In 2012 I spent 9 days backpacking in breathtaking southern Utah. It was one of the most transformative experiences I’ve ever had. I grew up camping and playing in nature so the outdoors has always had a special place in my heart and mind but when I lived 9 full days and nights with nothing but sky above me and 1.7 million acres of sand and rocks below me I realized what was truly important in life. This realization came while surrounded by one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. It was Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and it is one of the many monuments being reviewed by our current administration.

During this trip I faced some of the toughest physical and mental challenges I’ve ever faced. I climbed a sand dune the size of a mountain for hours and hours, knowing that forward was the only option. I slept soundly in a forest littered with furry grey spiders despite massive arachnophobia. I lived without the luxury of music, television, electricity, vehicles and running water. At no time during this journey did I think to myself I don’t want to be here, I could be doing something more interesting, or I want more. This perspective was because I felt the value of perseverance, appreciation and surprisingly silence.

While climbing in and out of deep canyons and hiking across miles of rolling deserts (filled with adorable bunny tracks!) I took joy in getting quiet with myself. I didn’t perceive boredom as an uncomfortable state. Loneliness and longing weren’t emotions that I put effort toward because I knew I already had all that I needed. I had sturdy clothes for any type of weather, an abundance of food in my pack and of course, my 11 or so fellow backpackers that were knowledgeable and helpful. And yes, we all had first aid kits!

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Through the quiet moments under that giant sky filled with more stars than I’ve ever seen (even in Northern California), I was able to recognize that I don’t need more than that. The rest is luxury.

My camera battery even depleted on day 4 and I didn’t care. I was actually excited for the opportunity to be even more present and keep only my memories and my journal entries for those last days. Come to think of it, my memory after day 4 is so much more vivid than when I knew I could simply take a picture of a moment and preserve it forever.

We learned about the Anasazi tribes that lived on the land for hundreds of years and we did 25 river crossings in one day. One morning my boots were frozen and the only way to thaw them was to pour water on them and hike in wet boots. And I didn’t care. I didn’t care because the magnificence of the canyons and mountains around me put things in perspective. They were a constant reminder that my old daily needs and wants were petty and unnecessary. I didn’t care that my boots were wet because I was appreciative of the fact that I had boots to wear.

Backpacking in this National Monument was such an edifying experience for me. It changed my relationship with myself and in turn lead me to make a lot of positive outward changes in my life. The vast deserts atop the deep red canyons and the powerful Escalante River remind me of how important contrast and diversity is in life. The desert complements the raging river within the canyon below and that system houses a flourishing ecosystem. If you remove just one part the system might not be able to sustain itself.

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Right now Grand Staircase-Escalante is one of the National Monument under review by our current administration.  If you have ever had one quiet moment with nature or 9 days full of quiet moments in nature I urge you to take action on this issue. What you can do:

1. Educate yourself.
   Article: 7 Facts About the Trump Administration’s Illegal Attack on National Monuments
2. Talk about it! Speak up and let others know about this issue. Word of mouth is powerful just like the Escalante River.
3. Donate to NPCA
4. Tell your representatives to protect our National Monuments.
5. Plan a vacation or an outing to a National Park or Monument!!