Thursday, September 29, 2011

Travel Diaries, Day 3: Platypus Wine Tour

Since we booked our tickets for our anniversary vacation (back in May), I'd been looking forward to our wine tour :) We booked our day long wine tour of the Russian River Valley with Platypus, after hearing rave reviews floating around the blog world. I am so glad we did!

It did not disappoint.

I knew I was going to love the wine. … But it was so much more than just sipping from glassy globes filled with gem colored nectar.

… The science fascinated me.

...The company (we were in a group with 2 other couples, and our tour guide, Stanley, was superb!) welcomed me, made me comfortable, and made me laugh.

...The landscape took my breath away.

Throughout the course of the day, we visited 5 different wineries, each delightfully different:

After the first winery, we passed around a cheese plate to help keep up our strength. …Seriously. Is there anything better than cheese and wine?!

After our tasting at the Dutton Estate, we enjoyed a lovely picnic alfresco: lunch meat sandwiches on croissants, a quinoa/veggie salad, pears and apples. We relaxed in the shade, basking in the glow of the wine & camaraderie, chatting and getting to know the people we were spending the day with.

At the end of the day, we toted our *ahem* 10 bottles of wine off the bus and returned to our hotel room exhausted but deliriously happy.

It's a day we'll remember for a long, long time :)

Your Turn: Are you a wine drinker? If so, what is your favorite kind of wine? ... I'm a merlot fan, like my daddy :) If you're not a wine drinker (or just tell me anyway!), tell me about the most beautiful place you've ever visited!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Travel Diaries Day 2: Adventures in Healdsburg

Welcome to my 2011 CA Vacation mini-series. Each day this week, I'll be recapping a day from our trip!

Note from Amy : I'm so sorry, friends. I meant to press publish on this post on Monday... Re-entry into the real world has been pretty rough, but I think I am finally falling back into the swing of things ;)

I am pleased to tell you, that after our rocky start to the vacation, the following day was absolutely delightful ... As was the rest of the vacation ♥ (Thank You, thank You... :)

Monday (September 19) was our anniversary, and, while we had planned to go on a wine tour with Platypus... since we did not get into town until about 3 am, our plans changed. I cannot say enough good things about the Platypus customer service. I called them (practically in tears) on Sunday afternoon while we were in the Philly airport and left them a message explaining my situation, and when I turned on my phone after we landed in SF, I had a message from Don telling me we were all taken care of. They were able to move our tour to Tuesday morning, no problem. (And the tour was awesome! More on that in the next installment :) ...What a huge weight off my shoulders!

But with our original plans changed, we needed something to do on our first day in CA.

First order of business was, of course, sleep ;) Jon was able to sleep until 11 am... but I was excited (sigh... and I am beginning to think that sleep is not my strong suit, anyway...), and I woke at about 8am. First order of business for me (obviously): coffee! I prowled down to the breakfast buffet and grabbed a newspaper, leisurely savoring my bagel, banana and cup o' joe. (Side note: No joke, I think I ate more bananas on this vacation than I have eaten in the past 6 months. Lesson to me: if I have them available, I will eat them. My legs will thank me ;) Then, I came back to our room and snuck out onto the balcony with my laptop to do a bit of writing.

Once Jon woke, we opened anniversary cards, hugged each other and laughed a little about our trip's crazy start (he said, "I think that should be the worst of it. If we didn't kill each other yesterday, I think that says good things for us." Amen, babe.), and planned our day.

A certain favorite blogger of mine has sung the praises of Healdsburg multiple times... and her gorgeous pictures of a vibrant small town had me hooked. I knew that it would be a good fit for us, and I was right. Jon told me the other day it was his favorite part of the trip ♥

So, after a quick lunch, we were off to downtown Healdsburg (implementing another important lesson learned: I was driving, Jon was navigating!)

The sunny afternoon was spent holding hands and strolling down Healdsburg Ave (map here, if you are interested!); in and out of fascinating, artsy shops; relaxing on a bench in Town Plaza with frozen yogurt from 'Snow Bunny'; wine tasting in the Vintage Wine Estates tasting room; and generally soaking up the beauty of the town. It was our kind of place.

Here are some more pictures from the afternoon:

At the end of the day, we celebrated with a special anniversary dinner at Stark's Steakhouse. Please, please: if you enjoy steak & visit Santa Rosa, check out this restaraunt. It was everything we were hoping it would be: romantic & classy without being uptight... and the food was divine! We went a little wild (I was pretending I was a foodie :), enjoying shrimp cocktail, french fries with truffle oil (sweet. heavens.), DiCisso Broccoli with toasted pinenuts & golden raisins, and, of course, steak. We ate slowly and deliberately, soaking in the atmosphere, reveling in the warmth of good food & good love.

It was a fantastic anniversary ♥

Your Turn: If you have a significant other, what has been your favorite anniversary memory? This is mine, hands-down :) ...What is your favorite way to explore a new place on vacation? Do you plan meticulously, or "wander and watch" like we do? ... Maybe a little bit of both? ;)

Next Chapter of the Travel Diaries: Wine tour with Platypus! ... Coming soon :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Travel Diaries, Day 1: Lessons in flexibility

Welcome to my 2011 CA Vacation mini-series. Each day this week, I'll be recapping a day from our trip!


Our trip did not begin as expected.

To put it mildly.

But I'll back it up a little bit, and tell the story from the beginning :)

The day started off perfectly. Jon & I woke at 7 am, did our final packing (said a few prayers that we didn't forget anything important!), kissed the kitties a bazillion times, and loaded into my parents' car for the ride to the airport. Our flight plan was to fly out of CMH through Chicago, leaving at 11 am, so we arrived at the airport at 9, breezed through security, and got some coffee & breakfast (her: perfect oatmeal; him: chocolate chip scone) on our way to the gate.

And I'll pause here, because this was, honest-to-goodness, the best part my favorite part of the day. It was early and we were excited, the whole trip stretching out before us, ripe with promise. Jon had never been to California. I had been to San Francisco once before... and it was life-changing (perhaps worthy of a future post?). Neither of us had been to wine country, but... come on... it's a perfect romantic vacation.

We just knew this was going to be the trip of a lifetime ♥

So there we sat, in the warm coffee shop, sunlight streaming across the runway behind us, dreaming. Planning out what we wanted to do during the week, all the sites to see.... the pictures to take... the food to try. Cradling warm cups of coffee and speaking in hushed tones. So in love with each other & the moment.

It was, in a word, lovely.

(Columbus Airport)

Unfortunately, after that, things started to fall apart. First our flight to Chicago was delayed for 2 hours. … Then we got on the plane and sat for and hour before they announced to us that there was a big storm over Chicago and all landings were being held. …So, we de-boarded and began the tedious process of patching together a new flight plan.

Part 2 of the plan was to fly through Philadelphia (you know… go east to go west… meh.) From there we would catch the flight out to San Francisco. Because we now had 3 additional hours in the airport, I won some 'good wife' points by suggesting that we grab a beer while we waited. ... That was a good decision :) We sipped as we watched people bustling past, and laughed about "the best laid plans". …I had actually never had any problems like this when flying, and I was still feeling positive & hopeful.

We rolled with it.

(Philadelphia Airport)

It was once we boarded the plane to Philly that we started to get a little discouraged. …I'm not really sure what happened, but from the sounds of it, the delays in Chicago were delaying everything to the east. …As we sat on the runway watching our 50 minute cushion slip away, we began to realize that the trip was going to be a tricky one.

When we got to Philly, we had 10 minutes to grab our plane-side luggage, catch a bus to a different terminal, race to our gate, and catch our plane. When we were about halfway through the bus line, we heard them page us for a final call, and when we arrived breathless at our gate, it turned out we had missed our flight by minutes. UGH.

As we exited our first flight, we had been intercepted by a flight attendant, who encouraged us to try to make our initial flight, but handed us a pair of "back-up tickets" for a later flight. It was while we were shaking our heads at the the gate of our missed flight that we discovered, while we had 2 tickets… we only had 1 seat. Jon was on stand-by. He was not a happy man. (And it was at this point that I started seriously wondering if our marriage was going to make it to 2 years…)

It's no stretch to say that I was praying constantly last Sunday. Our moments of good during those stressful hours included slices of margherita pizza in the food court, and texts with both sets of parents, providing needed encouragement.

(Philadelphia Airport)

I am so happy to tell you that Jon got a seat, and we landed in CA at about midnight (which was 3 am "our time"… and we were really feeling it!) From there, we rented a car (um… rented 2 cars, actually. We returned the first after hitting the highway at 5000+ rpm and an engine that sounded like it might fall out of the bottom of the car…) and drove the 1.5 hours to Santa Rosa.

Neither of us was in particularly good shape when we got there… but we were both awake :) Jon's strength & patience with driving through a confusing city after being awake for 24 hours astounded me. …Finally laying my head on a pillow has never felt so good :)

A few short hours later, we woke for our first day of adventures :) Stay tuned for tomorrow's Travel Diary: Adventures in Healdsburg!

Your Turn! I know I am in the minority when I say that travel issues like this had never happened to me before. Has anything like this ever happened to you? Road trips, plane trips, etc. … Tell me your stories!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Challenge II, D17: Surprise!

At the time this post goes live, I will most likely be snuggling Gracie, unpacking 10 bottles of wine, breathing in the familiar smells of my home and falling, exhausted into my own bed, for the first time in a week.

…As some of you may have guessed, this past week I have been busy … in California!

Quite frankly, my plan was to blog like normal (you know, a tricksy-let's discuss real life except for where I am right now- normal ;) …and then my body didn't really adjust to CA time and I was passed out by 8:30 every night ( *sigh* I wish I was kidding…) …and then our internet availability was pretty much non-existent … and then I realized, 'Hey, this (unintentional) blogging break is just a damn good excuse to unplug & spend some quality time with my husband'… and then? Life was good.

Needless to say… I have SO much to share with you. San Francisco & wine country were every bit as amazing as I dreamed they would be. It was a fantastic time … and a big part of me isn't ready to be back yet :)

This next week I am going to be blogging a mini-series entitled "Travel Diaries", to share some of the pictures & stories. I hope you enjoy reading about what we were up to during my week AFK…. and I think I am really going to enjoy sifting through my pictures (I don't even know how many I took… but I was very proud of myself!) and my memories for the 'best of the best for the blog' ;)

Because our trip started on Sunday, I will start my recap on Sunday, as well (after I recover from my 22 miler in the morning…. almost taper time…. almost taper time….)

But in the meantime, here are some teaser pictures from the trip:

Happy Saturday!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Good List Friday: volume viii

Happy, happy Friday, friends! Also ... Happy Autumn!

I hope you have been having a wonderful week :) I apologize for flying a bit 'under the radar' the past couple days… but I'll be back for good tomorrow! (I promise I'll be back to commenting, etc., too! My internet connection has been a little wonky lately, and, pained as I am to admit it, that has left me feeling sadly lost & out of touch!) I have all sorts of really exciting things to share with you--- I think you will enjoy the mini-series I've got coming up next week ;)

It's been a gorgeous day here, and, while I did get a little depressed this morning watching GMA and hearing about all the "worldly happenings", overall I am filled with hope, and my heart is happy. …Also, it's pumpkin spice Friday ♥ … and that never fails to lift my mood!

Just a quickie post for you today… but, like I said, I'll be back tomorrow evening ;)

Let's start the weekend off right with another installment of Good List Friday:

Good List:

1. Jon. I've had such wonderful adventures with my best friend this week!
2. Good sunglasses :)
3. Red wine & Dark chocolate
4. Warm sunshine & cool breezes
5. Comfortable sneakers
6. Coffeeeeee
7. Courage to speak up
8. Encouragement
9. Friday night "date night" ♥
10. "A woodland in full color is awesome as a forest fire, in magnitude at least, but a single tree is like a dancing tongue of flame to warm the heart." ~Hal Borland

Your Turn: What things make your "good list" this week?

PS: A special "Good Luck!" shout out to my friend, Hannah, who is running a 5k tomorrow :) You are going to rock it, girl!! Can't wait to hear about it!

Monday, September 19, 2011


Dear Jon ~

2 year ago today I was shaking beside you at the altar, well aware of the enormity of what I was doing. We'd known each other for years, so it wasn't a surprise to anyone, including us, when we decided to get married, but I was a little nervous just the same. Giddily excited.... absolutely overwhelmed with love & happiness ... but nervous.

I think I had every right to be nervous... after all, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My parents had set a wonderful example for me as I was growing up, but sustaining and nourishing a marriage is not something one can learn just by watching. There was so much I didn't know... and there is so much that I still need to learn.

In addition to learning how to be a wife, I am still in the process of learning how to be me. ... But you have been my anchor. You love me in spite of and because of my flaws, which, I am sorry to say, I seem to discover more of those along the way, too ;) You believe in my dreams but you are constantly encouraging me to move, ingraining the truth on my heart that sometimes you cannot wait for the "right chance" to fall into your lap, you need to chase it down and pour your heart and soul in 100% from the get-go.

I love your strength and and kindness. ... Your patience astounds me. You are teaching me, every day, how to love you. And that is a sacred task that I give thanks for every single day. And you? Jon, no one could love me like you do ...

We took each other "for better or for worse"... and this has been a really good year for us. Last year had some sadness & upheaval ... but this year has been a year of settling in and putting down roots. I know that some years will be hard and others will be good-upon-good, but no matter what comes our way, I know that I can handle it with you by my side.

You are my best friend, my partner in crime, and the love of my life.

I want to be with you for 2 years x infinity.

Happy Anniversary.

~ Amy

"I love you
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.

I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.


I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good.
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.

You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.

You have done it
By being yourself.
Perhaps that is what
Being a friend means,
After all."

-Roy Croft

Friday, September 16, 2011

Challenge II, D16: Good List Friday, volume vii

Gooooood Friday to you, friends!

Although I didn't sleep very *much* last night, I slept well. Overnight the temperatures in central OH got down to a crisp 47*, and with the bedroom windows open an inch and the delicious weight of a down comforter pressing on me it was recipe for a perfect night's sleep. It was hard to get up this morning ... made harder by the fact that I had the dead-weight of a sleepy Gracie nestled into my chest ♥ But, here I am, coffee in hand, ready to take on another day. TGIF, indeed :)

While there were moments when it seemed like this week would never end, now that I am at the waning end of a 40 hour work week I can smile and pat myself on the back,"That wasn't so bad now, was it?" Still, as good as the week was, I am (as always) looking forward to the weekend so much more. This weekend's plans include lots of reading, mopping my kitchen floor, baking an apple pie, and 12 miles with the MiT group.

I hope your plans are equally comforting, renewing & exciting :)

Let's kick off the weekend goodness with a Good Friday, shall we?

Good List:

1. Jon. I cannot believe that we've been married almost 2 years. It feels like just yesterday that I was planning my wedding-- the dress, the details... And yet, at the same time I am hard-pressed to remember my life before Jon. This marriage stuff is crazy & mysterious, maddening & wonderful ... ♥
2. Pumpkin Spice Friday!
3. Tomato sandwiches (I think the season is winding down for these babies... farewell my loves!)
4. Connecting with family, even across the miles ♥

5. MacIntosh apples
6. Invigorating breezes through open windows
7. The scent of freshly baked cookies :)
8. "Cleaning out the clutter"... tangible & spiritual.
9. Heart moving, thought provoking posts. (Check out this one, by my sweet friend, Hannah. What mark will we leave on our world?)
10. As an engineer, this quote hits home for me: "Running and science draw on similar traits—stamina, ambition, patience, and the ability to overcome limits." --Wolfgang Ketterle, Nobel Laureate and MIT Professor

Your Turn:What tops your good list this week? Do you have any good (fall-y?) weekend plans?

Wishing you all a wonderful Friday afternoon :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Challenge II, D15: Running in the Rain

This morning when my alarm chirped at 4:45 am, I sighed from the depths of my soul.

I've actually been doing pretty well lately-- I think maybe my body has finally adjusted to the earlier wake-up hour-- but this morning I wasn't sure I had anything left to give. Like I told you yesterday, it's been a good week over all... but the "ebbs" have been exhausting to me. ... I feel the mystical creative pull and I can't bear to wait for it to come to fruition. I cannot allow my spirit to rest; every fiber of my being is continually reaching forward... It's been a great creative time-- but an exhausting one.

I was up late writing last night... and then when I got in bed I was too worked up to get to sleep right away. So I lay awake dreaming. I stared at the ceiling and listened to the rain pattering softly on the the skylight in our adjacent master bath, smiling as Baron shifted his warm weight, purring at my feet. And thus it was until I finally drifted off at some unknown hour.

...So this morning it was awfully hard to will myself awake. By the grace of God I made it out of bed & into my running clothes. As I waited for my garmin to load it's satelites, I joined Gracie with my nose pressed to the sidelights of our front door. Peering out into the cold damp darkness. ...Wondering what the morning's miles would hold for me.

Heather and I began running at 5:15. At approximately 5:16 it began to rain. With the wind in our faces, we bent our heads and pushed forward. We were shivering and wet... but determined. As we moved swiftly through the darkness, we discussed our usual gamut of topics: from running (surprise!) to our weekend plans, to our jobs and some future dreams. Sometimes we didn't talk, we just moved forward, quietly supporting and simultaneously drawing strength from the other.

Our 5 mile split was more than a minute better than yesterday's. It seems that the coolness of the rain breathed new life into our legs.

It wasn't until I was back at home & immersed in my typical post-run morning routine: peeling off my wet socks and scooping ground coffee into the coffee maker; sneaking upstairs to kiss my sleeping husband and before hopping into a hot shower.

I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and paused, wondering.... "Who is this woman?"

I am a work in progress. I am far from perfect, but each day I'm getting a little wiser... stronger... better.

6 months ago, I wouldn't have dreamed this was possible. I've always wanted to make the change, but the first step seemed too much. But here I am. I do, in fact, posses the necessary courage, strength & passion to make the change.
...and to run a marathon.

♥ October 16, 2011 ♥

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Challenge II, D14: {Ebb & Flow}

Some weeks, when Wednesday rolls around I am happily surprised, shaking my head and smiling at the beautiful & inexplicable passage of time.

...This was not the case this week.

I felt every. single. moment of my week until now. ...Which is both a good and bad thing ;)

On one hand, I've been feeling very present-- there's something in the air around here, it's fairly crackling with creativity. I've been drinking it in-- dreaming, watching, writing & storing the multitude of wonders that I cannot begin to understand now away in my heart for another time when they might be revealed to me. ...That is, without a doubt, the good.

...The bad part, of course, is that when I happen to be chained to an obligation that is not....oh, particularly creative or soul feeding, let's say... it feels like, surely, time has come to a stop.

Overall though, the flow of creative energy has won out. Life is good...and the ebb of the "in between" is a chance to refresh for the next high ♥

I hope the week has been wonderful for you all, too. (We're more than halfway to another weekend!)

Here's a little synopsis of what I've been doing, {Wrangling} style....


(A weekly round up. Each week I am going to “wrangle” my life's happenings into a post filled with pictures, lists & general tidbits about the past 7 days.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Once I got past that nasty headache business, my week was off to a great start. On Monday evening, I kept a promise I had made to myself earlier in the year and took the plunge and got involved with a Bible study at our church.

We are working through a 10 week study on how to hear God's voice, and I think that it is going to be a valuable experience for me for so many reasons. Of course, I am hoping that I'll walk away with a deeper faith, deeper peace, and a confidence that I can hear Him-- that I can trust him to tell me what He wants me to do with this life (...I realize I probably won't get all the answers... but it's comforting to know that I'm not floundering in the dark :) But I think this is also going to give me the chance to grow closer to some wonderful people. ...I've always loved how comfortable and "at home" I felt in this church, and I feel that this step is going to help me settle in even more.

This week we covered the basics-- Be still. Watch & listen. Journal. Believe.

Yeah.... Pretty sure I'm going to love this :)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Tonight, I wish I had 4 more hours in my day, so I could ride out this "creative flow" and get all these words from my head out onto the paper...

I love this feeling.

It's what I live for during the moments of frustration & writer's block.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yesterday I got the chance to have lunch with my mother... just the two of us. We haven't gotten to do this in quite a while, and I was reminded multiple times just how much I enjoy spending time with her. We spent the hour telling stories, laughing, encouraging, and catching up on life ♥

I've said it before and I'll say it again,"I would be honored to grow up to be like my mother.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Country girl that I am, this song makes me incredibly happy.

Adding this onto my marathon playlist pronto.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My yesterday went a little bit differently than I had expected it to. I had planned to take 2 hours off work for a doctor's appointment, but when the appointment was cancelled a the last minute, I seized the opportunity afternoon ;)

Instead of spending time in a dark waiting room reading magazines, I took myself to Easton, our outdoor mall. I took our wedding rings in for inspection/cleaning/magic....I took myself to Trader Joe's to ogle the produce & "chocolate covered-everythings" while I waited for the rings to be finished (heh. because, frankly, produce makes me happier than jewelry :)... I enjoyed the sunshine.

It was lovely :) ...Just another gentle lesson in 'changing plans'...

Note: this is an old picture, from our honeymoon... but the rings look new like this again:) ... Jon had never had his cleaned or re-plated, and was rather impressed with the difference. ALSO worth mentioning, he told me he found he missed his wedding ring throughout the day.... for a man who never wore a watch before I met him, I figure that's not bad.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Finally, while I am doing my best not to do any *real* shopping before our wine-country trip, I have definitely been window shopping... In fact, it may or may not have taken me twice as long as it should have to write this post because I was playing on Pinterest. ...I don't get half as excited about clothes for any other season, but fall is special. I love cozy sweaters, classic boots, bright scarves and metallic accents. LOVE IT. (This anthro scarf?! Goodness...)

So that's just a little bit of what's rattling around in my mind tonight. ... And with that, I am going to get myself in gear-- I'd like to write some more before I head for bed!

Your turn: How is your week going? Do you window shop like I do? Do you know of any fantastic fall fashions to tell me about (feel free to leave me a link ;)