Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Passing Time in Paso Robles

I think I can officially say that making the journey up to wine country in Paso Robles the week of Thanksgiving has become a tradition for my husband and me. We've been going to Paso Robles for about 10 years now and it's amazing to see in that relatively short period of time how the region has grown with new wineries and restaurants popping up everywhere. Fall is definitely my favorite time of year to visit Paso Robles, as the weather is crisp and cool and the leaves have all turned beautiful colors, making it truly feel like fall. Below you will see some of my photos of our most recent trek to Paso Robles with a few tips and suggestions regarding my favorite vineyards in the area.

Daou Vineyard: Daou wins hands down for having the most scenic vistas in Paso Robles. It's a great place to order a glass of wine and sit outside to take in the view or do a tasting, which is a bit on the pricey side compared to other wineries in Paso Robles, but worth it if you want to sample their selection of wines. Lately, Daou has received quite a few accolades and one of their wines even scored 100 points from Robert Parker. If you want to see what all of the fuss is about or just want to take a few amazing photos, Daou is the place to go. Website: Daou

Halter Ranch: To be honest, on this particular trip we didn't do a tasting at Halter Ranch, although we have in the past. On this trip we just wanted to check out the renovations to the winery. Halter Ranch used to have a very quaint feel to match their name, but they've since expanded. Luckily, they still kept the beautiful old barn on the premises, which is where I took one of my favorite photos ever that you will see in my old post about Paso Robles entitled When in Wine Country. The new tasting room is beautiful, although not as charming, and they have a gigantic picture window that will let you take in the scenery while sipping their wines. Website: Halter Ranch

Carmody McKnight: This vineyard was founded by actor Gary Conway and his wife Marian McKnight, who was crowned Miss America in 1957. This is a small vineyard due to the fact that they sold off about half of their land to Justin Vineyards over 35 years ago. The thing I like about Carmody McKnight is that it combines two of my favorite things: art and wine. In addition to being an actor, Gary Conway is also an artist and his paintings grace the winery's labels and the small tasting room. They also have a good olive oil that comes from their many olive trees on the property. Website: Carmody McKnight

Justin Vineyards: When we first went to Paso Robles, the tasting room at Justin was tiny and they had the most adorable old Basset Hound named Churchill. (I'm obsessed with the dogs they have at each winery! In fact, wineries with dogs get bonus points from me!) Since then, Justin is under new ownership and has expanded quite a bit. On this last trip, we were told that due to the large traffic flow, Justin need to expand even more to keep up with demands on weekends. Often, the integrity of the wine is compromised when vineyards start expanding, but so far this has not been the case with Justin. Also, this is another winery that has gorgeous views. Since we are wine club members here, we had a nice time with our tastings and watched the sunset by a fire pit at the end of our trip. Website: Justin Wine

Two other vineyards that were not included here, but that I highly recommend are Eberle Winery and J.Lohr. I wrote about Gary Eberle and his winery in a post called Boars, Ponies and Ostriches Oh My!, because it's my favorite Paso Robles winery and Gary Eberle is a living legend and the person who should be credited for putting Paso Robles on the map. I can't say enough good things about their wines, their staff, and their commitment to making excellent wines at affordable prices. If you go to Paso Robles, it's imperative to check them out!

J. Lohr is another winery that I highly recommend. They are the largest producers of wine in the area, which might give you some pause, but their wines are actually very good and at reasonable prices. Plus, they will put a portrait of your dog in their tasting room if you are a wine club member! So, if you visit J. Lohr, you just might see a picture of Colonel William van Winkle the Bard of Bardstown! 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Puffins and Hounds

I bought my first "critter sweater" about four or five years ago. It was from J. Crew and it had a hen with a beret on it. Since then, I've become hooked on these types of sweaters that feature adorable animals. I have everything from bunnies to porcupines in my collection. I thought that these would become passé after a couple years, but thankfully the critter sweater craze has endured. Like just about everything in my wardrobe, I certainly didn't need another cute animal sweater, but when I saw this puffin one from LOFT, I couldn't resist! As I have stated numerous times before, I am quite weak-willed when it comes to my fashion purchases!

For something quirky and fun I thought I would pair these puffins with a houndstooth skirt. Houndstooth is another thing that I have way too much of in my closet, although I guess you can never have too much of a good thing! Unfortunately, the puffin sweater from LOFT is sold out for the moment, although it might be available in some stores. I linked to a few other cute penguin and bird sweaters just in case you also can't get enough of critter sweaters!

Sweater: LOFT Puffin Sweater similar here and here
Skirt: Forever 21 similar here
Bag: Prada Saffiano Lux Tote in Papaya budget friendly version here
Sneakers: Target here
Sunglasses: Prada here
Necklace: J. Crew 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Plaid in the Middle of Nowhere

In my last post, I talked about our recent trip to Paso Robles, but I didn't divulge any of the "fun" details of our ride up north to wine country. My husband wanted to take a special route off the beaten path that was supposedly great for something he calls "performance driving", which I've experienced with him before and is just a fancy term for driving really fast on some very windy roads. Well, it was a beautiful ride through some gorgeous scenery in the middle of nowhere, but the downside was that I was jostled about quite a bit and was constantly fearing for my life. After my husband rounded one corner particularly fast, skidding a bit on some loose gravel, I reminded him of James Dean's untimely death in his sports car during some such "performance driving" on a similar road not too far from where we were. Luckily, we didn't end up sharing in the same fate as James Dean and we made it safe and sound to our destination.

In the midst of our drive, we happened upon this abounded remnant of a house outside of a new solar farm. My husband actually had the idea that it would be an interesting place for a "photo shoot" and because of this brilliant idea, I decided to forgive him for his driving!

I thought that this location featuring the abandoned remains of a house that my husband found was a fantastic place to show off my plaid on plaid look, including my new plaid heels from J. Crew. These "Avery" tartan shoes sold out quickly when they first came out from J. Crew, so I was lucky to have snatched them up on the first day they were released. Truth be told, J. Crew has rolled out a slew of fantastic plaid shoes and clothing for the holiday season, which I am really excited about. In addition to the shoes and shirt featured in this post, I am guilty of buying a few more plaid pieces from them, which, now that it's December, I will be featuring soon on my blog!

Shirt: J. Crew Factory here
Jeans: Old Navy here
Shoes: J. Crew Collection Avery in Tartan Plaid similar here
Bag: Clare V. Petite Alistair similar here
Sunglasses: Prada here

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fields of Rainbows and Vines

I feel like lately I've been spending a lot of time in vineyards, which definitely isn't a bad thing! Last week, my husband and I took our annual trip to Paso Robles before Thanksgiving. I love going to Paso Robles because the scenery is beautiful, the weather is cool, and the wine is exceptional. As the weather is usually on the crisp side, this trip often marks the first time I can break out some of my fall/winter wardrobe for the year. I recently purchased a few sweaters and flannel shirts that I was anxious to wear, such as this rainbow sweater from J. Crew Factory. I do have a lot of striped, rainbow colored sweaters, but why not add one more to my collection? In my opinion, when it comes to rainbow sweaters and wine, one can never have enough!

Sweater: J. Crew Factory here and here
Skirt: Brooks Brothers similar here
Boots: J. Crew similar here
Bag: Coach
Sunglasses: Prada

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Boyfriends and Ballerinas

I was pretty good on the actual day of Black Friday, but over the last week or so I've been taking advantage of the sales going on at stores such as J. Crew, Old Navy and Kate Spade. It seemed to me that this year retailers, at least at the stores I mentioned above, offered pretty much the same discounts a few days before Black Friday both online and in stores, so there was no need to rush out early in the morning and risk life and limb dealing with crowds!

In this post I am wearing some of my latest sale finds, including this really cute tee shirt from J. Crew. For the last few months or so, J. Crew has come out with some really adorable graphic tees, including ones featuring different cities, such as Paris, Rome, and New York. I am usually not a huge fan of J. Crew's tees because they tend not to hold up as well as others I've owned, but we will see how this one does. Besides, the pink elephants were too cute to pass up!

Another new item I am featuring in this post, which I am just head over heals in love with, are these velvet ballerina shoe with gold glitter heels from Kate Spade. My husband wasn't too thrilled about these, but I know they are fabulous, so that's all that counts! (One fun factoid about this photo shoot is that it started to rain while we were taking these pictures and I ended up putting plastic bags with rubber bands around my feet to protect my shoes; that's how much I love them!) I paired the shoes with a pair of boyfriend style jeans for a contrast between masculine and feminine. Skinny jeans are still my fit of choice, but it's fun to switch things up a little bit. Plus, the jeans were on clearance for $14 at Old Navy, so the price was right!

Tee: J. Crew Pink Elephant Tee here
Jeans: Old Navy boyfriend jeans here
Sweater: Target
Clutch: Clare V. here
Shoes: Kate Spade Marcellina here, here, and same version in black on sale here
Sunglasses: Stella McCartney here