Happy Friday, all! I hope you’ve had a great week and enjoy your weekend coming up. Can you guys believe I’m a couple of weeks into the third trimester and we’re that much closer to meeting our sweet little lady?! I’m starting to feel a little more uncomfortable now that she’s getting bigger and is taking up more space which is making it a little more difficult to breathe and walk up the stairs. I just had my glucose intolerance test last week which I passed so I’m really thankful that I’ve had such a great and healthy pregnancy. We also just took our first Hypnobirthing class earlier this week and I’ll make sure fill you all in on our birth plan and what this is class is all about at a later date.
On a side note, I’m excited to share that we will be traveling to Marco Island, FL tomorrow morning for our babymoon!! We’re really looking forward to some alone time and much needed R&R because we still have quite a bit to do before little miss makes her debut in two months and this will be our last vacation as a party of two (or two and a half I should say). With that being said, I want to let you all know that Walmart is celebrating their 20th anniversary of Parent’s Choice, Walmart’s exclusive baby brand all through October. Now is the time to stock up on any newborn essentials and must have quality products at a great value such as beautiful nursery collections, gifts for mom and baby, diapers and other premium brands like Chicco and Macleran for car seats and strollers. Parent’s Choice diapers and wipes are all FSC certified, fragrance, bleach/elemental chlorine and latex free, and their other brand, Hello Bello is a plant based product line made by Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard.
John I visited Napa Valley three times in the past four years and it is one of our all time favorite US destinations. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back romantic getaway with your significant other or a lively weekend away with friends, California’s wine country should be on your bucket list. Since this post is long overdue, I’m going to share photos and details from all three trips to give you the ultimate travel guide to Napa Valley!
About Napa Valley
Napa Valley is the premier wine region in northern California and the gateway to wine paradise known for its Cabernet Sauvignon wines with over 400 wineries. Napa Valley is comprised of six major towns: Napa, Yountville, Oakville/Rutherford, St. Helena and Calistoga. With its award-winning wines alongside its stunning landscapes, Napa Valley is a wine lover’s paradise.
Napa is located in the northern region of California, about an hour and a half north of San Francisco and an hour south of Sacramento. There are five major airports you can fly into:
1. San Francisco Int’l Airport
2. Sonoma County Airport
3. Oakland Int’l Airport
4. San Jose Int’l Airport
5. Sacramento Int’l Airport
For all three trips we flew into San Francisco. We rented a car for two of the trips and on our first visit in 2015, we hired a private driver for the day to chauffeur us to and from each winery and back to San Francisco. A day trip is a great option if you wish to experience wine country and explore the city in one visit. San Francisco is a popular city with plenty of attractions such as Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Alcatraz Island, the Painted Ladies, the Golden Gate Bridge and the world’s last manually operated cable car system.
When to Visit
Spring (March to May) or late fall (October or November) is the ideal time to visit Napa Valley. The region’s harvest season is from August through October making it the peak time to visit with larger crowds and high hotel prices. In 2015, we traveled in early May for our first wedding anniversary and I thought the weather was the most pleasant of all three trips with clear blue skies and ideal temps. San Francisco is quite chilly while inland gets into the 80s around that time of year. In 2017, we went over Labor Day weekend which was really uncomfortable because the weather was well into the 100s and they had some wildfires a few weeks before causing quite a big of smog in the area. In 2018, we traveled over the first weekend in November. It was still really warm during the day and we were able to wear shorts and short sleeve dresses without jackets, but it did cool off in the evenings make it really pleasant when walking into town.
Where We Stayed
In September 2017, we stayed at the Villagio Inn & Spa which has since been completely remodeled and renamed to Hotel Villagio in Yountville. Yountville is a quaint and charming town with several luxury hotels, Michelin starred restaurants on the main street and smaller wine shops, all within walking distance of each other. Yountville also has V Marketplace which has specialty shopping, art galleries, a couple more restaurants and Napa Valley Aloft Balloon Rides. They need your credit card to reserve your spot, but won’t charge you until the day of in case they have to cancel (we had a hot air balloon ride scheduled on our last day, but they had to cancel our reservation due to strong winds).
Last year we traveled with a small group of our friends for John’s birthday and stayed at the Archer Hotel in downtown Napa. Downtown Napa has several hotel options, restaurants and bars and is home to more of the locals. Scroll to the end of this post for hotel, restaurant and winery recommendations.
5. Darioush: Very pretty winery and really tasty wine. Carries white and red wines and you don’t need reservations, but I would recommend making them (visited twice).
6. Silver Oak: One of our favorite high end wines that sells for about $150/bottle (visited twice with a tour on the first trip).
7. CADE: Situated on a mountain with a very modern and contemporary setting. The wine in our opinion was just OK (had a full tour here).
8. Quintessa: Beautiful winery and another high end wine we really enjoy. We scheduled a full tour here (about 1.5 hours).
9. Stag’s Leap: Great wine; also on the high end list. Don’t confuse this with Stags’ Leap which is known for their Chardonnay’s.
10. Pride Vineyards: Beautiful winery and great wine which is reasonably priced. I recommend getting a tour and asking for Krysta.
11. Caymus: Great wine on the higher end. Pretty setting, but the staff wasn’t as friendly.
12. Orin Swift: one of our other favorites in the medium price range ($60-$80/bottle) located in St. Helena. We plan to stay in St. Helena next time we go.
** Pro Tip** Most wineries take walk-ins for tastings, but I would recommend scheduling at least a couple of tours to learn how wine is made and walk through the vineyards for a full experience. Three to four wineries a day is plenty when scheduling tastings and tours. I do suggest wearing closed toe shoes or flats to the wineries when touring vineyards since you’ll be walking up and down hills so you’ll want to be comfy.
Hi, all! Happy Thursday! I hope you’ve had a great week so far. We’re taking my little nephew to a pumpkin patch this Sunday and I can’t wait. This will be our first fall activity of the season and just thinking about it makes me reminisce about some of my favorite fall activities that we enjoyed last year like apple picking.
Three years ago we started an apple picking tradition at Jonamac Orchard with our good friends the Meyers, but unfortunately the tradition couldn’t carry on this year because they moved out of state. I’m so sad they won’t be here this year, but you can read all about our apple picking tradition at Jonamac Orchard from two previous years here and here. I’m still hoping John and I will get the chance to go before the season is over since I’m a huge fan of their locally grown Pazazz apples and freshly baked warm apple donuts that are just oh-so tasty and delicious. Even if we don’t make it to our usual spot, there are several orchards and farms nearby to choose from. With that being said, I went ahead and compiled a list of 9 places to go apple picking near Chicago for all of my local readers and apple lovers.
Happy Tuesday and happy fall y’all!! My favorite season of the year is finally here and now I’m just waiting for the weather to catch up. I can’t believe it’s already mid-September and I’m only two weeks away from third trimester! Eek. I’ve always loved this time of year and the next few months are going to fly by. Baby girl will be here before we know it.
Now that we’ve transitioned away from the summer months and into fall, September is always a great time to stock up on items like fall apparel, gadgets, home decor and baby items because of all the great deals and retailer events happening in-store and online. Walmart currently has their semi-annual event, Best of Baby month, happening now through the end of September with over 700 deals online and a handful of Rollbacks available in store. This is the perfect time for all of you soon-to-be mommas to stock up on all of the best baby essentials on the top brands and more since Walmart’s semi-annual baby event is like a mini Black Friday with similar or even better pricing. We just went to Walmart the other day and picked up a few necessities since we’re in the process of decorating baby C’s side of the room (our spare room was converted into my dressing room a while back so it’ll be half nursery, half closet). If you prefer to shop online, Walmart.com even offers next day and 2-day delivery and you can save on hundreds of items.
A sweet little girl is on the way!! She’s already loved so much and we can’t wait to meet her in a couple of months. Deep down I’ve always known that I’d love to have a little girl one day and I just always pictured John as a girl dad so it was a little extra special to learn that our first born is going to be a girl. Bring on all the frilly dresses and bows!!
We decided on a Hawaiian luau theme for the party as a fun way to say goodbye to summer and find out our baby’s gender surrounded by our closest friends and family members. My in-laws hosted the party at their house because they have the perfect backyard for throwing parties and my mother-in-law is a rock star organizer/party planner who did such a wonderful job putting everything together for us. She also put together our display bridal shower a few years ago which you can read about here and she’ll be hosting our baby shower this fall. I can’t wait.
We had our 20 week anatomy scan the week before the party which is a level two ultrasound that looks at the baby’s full anatomy to make sure everything looks normal, as well as the baby’s sex. We did not do any genetic testing early in the pregnancy which can also determine the baby’s sex as early as 11 weeks with a simple blood test so we really had no clue what was going on in there. Unless you’re carrying multiples or are having a difficult pregnancy, they only offer one ultrasound in each trimester so the last scan we had was back when I was only 9 weeks along. All we really cared about was that our baby was developing as she should and for a healthy pregnancy. All expectant parents will tell you that a healthy baby with all ten little fingers and ten toes is what they wish for and finding out the sex halfway through is just an added bonus. We let the tech know ahead of time that we did not want to know our baby’s gender so we closed our eyes while she snooped around and then she sealed an envelope with a sonogram photo with the words, “It’s a girl” typed across that she handed to my MIL after our appointment. I know. How did we not want to rip that envelope apart? Well, we like surprises and it was only another week so it wasn’t hard, plus my MIL is one of the most trustworthy people I know so it was a no-brainer that she would be able to keep this big secret from us.
We purchased some of our decor from Party City like the table skirts, door curtain, mine and John’s leis and some other miscellaneous items, and then my MIL ordered the majority of the supplies from Oriental Trading like the pink and blue leis for our guests, plates/napkins, a vinyl banner she hung on the gate, wine bottle labels, labels to put over the Hershey’s chocolate bars she handed out after the reveal that said, “Thank heaven for little girls,” as well as the pink smoke canisters we put inside the volcano. Her good friend’s granddaughter made our volcano with papier-mâché and put an empty tin can in the opening for the smoke canisters. My MIL had our cake made at Mariano’s and we ordered all the food from a local catering company that we’ve used for other parties, and then some friends brought a few appetizers. Her friend put together the pineapple palm tree center piece for the fruit plate below. You can view a tutorial similar to the one he used here.
Guests were able to choose pink or blue leis for the gender they thought the baby was and we held a raffle for our guests to enter by purchasing a ticket for $1 and putting it in a pink or blue bucket for the gender they thought we were having, and after the reveal, we pulled a name from the pink bucket and one winner took all the money from both buckets. Our friend Kasey won $196! Woohoo!!
Our gender reveal party was probably the best day of my life so far and a day I’ll always remember. I’m looking forward to showing baby C these photos one day.