Portraits of me

There are a few hashtags out there, #portraitsofme and #getintheframe, that make me think a bit.  (Check them out on instgram- there are some pretty clever self portraits and no, these aren’t just ‘selfies.’)  Anyway, I got to thinking a bit after our last trip to the pumpkin patch.  I am the one always behind the camera, which I really enjoy.  However, the older my kids get, the more I realize I am not ever in pictures with them.  My husband looks like a single parent at all these functions.  I need to be better about handing over my camera to have someone take a picture of me with my kids, husband and family in general.

The other day, I decided to get my tripod out and try my hand at some self-portraits.  It isn’t easy… I’ll tell you that much.  But I found a function on my camera that will take some shots and then take a few more at regular intervals.  I can pick all these settings, so it was fun to actually get a few ‘in the moment’ pictures of some of my favorite parts of our days.  I absolutely love reading to my kids before naps and bedtime.  They always seem to enjoy it and it is always fun to see which books they latch onto as their favorites.

Another favorite part of my day- and this doesn’t always happen, but when it does, I love it… Is when one of my kids wakes up, the others are asleep or still at school and I can cuddle or rock that child.  This day it happened to be my youngest.  He is always up for cuddling, rocking and just being held.  With him being the baby, I definitely cherish these moments, drool and all.  portraits-of-me2 So, there you have it.  I may just start appearing in my photos a bit more.  Hopefully my kids will remember I was there too.

Pumpkin Favorites

pumpkin-pieOne of my favorite things to do with my kids is baking.  They love to help and often fight over who gets to stand on the chair to help first.  I hope when they get older they will have great memories of cooking and baking with me and know how to make a few meals before they move out!  The other day my son and daughter had a day off from school so we made a pumpkin pie.  Seems like a good reason for a pie, right?  It got me thinking we haven’t really made too many of our favorite fall recipes this year.  I started looking them all up and thought I would share some of our favorites!  We love this recipe from Elena’s Pantry and make it quite often from now until Thanksgiving.  We also love topping it with real whipped cream (super easy and so good)!  I would have a picture of a slice of this pie, but we ate it too quickly!


Pumpkin Pie and pie crust from Elena’s Pantry

Whipped Cream from Alton Brown

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins from Paleomg

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake Cookies from Civilized Caveman Cooking

Paleo Pumpkin Bars from Paleo Cupboard

Baked Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts from Against All Grain

A few other favorites, but the recipes aren’t online are:  Pumpkin Chicken Chili from Gather and Maple Bacon Pecan Pumpkin Donuts from OMG. That’s Paleo?.


I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do!


Pumpkin Patch Traditions

As our kids get older, we are trying to establish our family traditions each season.  To kick off fall, we always go to the Apple Jack Festival in September.  It is a time to pick apples from the orchards, bake pies and learn about Arbor Day.  We always enjoy a good caramel apple and just spending the day together.  The highlight of fall for me, however, is heading to the pumpkin patch in October.  I absolutely love taking my kids to the pumpkin patch where I went as a kid. This pumpkin patch has grown to quite the area attraction, full with bouncy pads, a train, corn mazes, apple barn, kid friendly haunted houses, story book barn and the list goes on!

Yesterday we spent the morning and a good part of the afternoon taking in the pumpkin patch.  We took our annual ‘How tall this Fall’ picture, picked out pumpkins and enjoyed a perfect day at the pumpkin patch!

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The genuine smiles just say it all.  I love seeing them happy and hopefully they will have great memories of the pumpkin patch like I do!




Today we woke up late.  I looked at my phone and began to panic when I realized it was 7:09.  Our oldest two kids’ bus comes by at 7:17 a.m.  oops.  We jumped out of bed (It felt like the scene in Home Alone), rush to get ready, my younger two kids still in their pjs, lets be honest, I was too, and we head to school by 7:43.  Phew, we made it early even!  We headed back home and with the rainy morning, it quickly became a slow moving morning where you just want to curl up with a book on the couch.


I recently came across an instagram profile that always posts 3 images to tell the story and I loved their idea.  So with that in mind, I took a few pictures this morning and here is a glimpse from our crazy turned slow morning.


He couldn’t wait take some silly ones- and that is definitely his personality.


While our day started with chaos, I definitely enjoy the moments where we can be together cuddling and reading our favorite stories.  I hope you have a great rest of your week!

Napa and the Never Ending Post.

At the beginning of September, my husband and I went to Napa, California to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary.  We were actually married in May, but wanted to visit Napa when the grapes were about to be harvested.  We had an amazing time, mostly thanks to my husband for booking and researching where to go and what to do.  He talked with quite a few people who had been there or lived there and they gave us the best recommendations!  We flew into San Francisco and drove to Napa where we stayed for six days.  napa1 napa2

On our way to Napa, we stopped at Farley Bar in Murray Circle for lunch and saw the amazing views from our table.  When our waiter found out we were celebrating our 10th anniversary, he brought out an amazing dessert of assorted hand made chocolates with an edible chocolate sign that said, ‘Happy Anniversary.’

Once we made it to Napa, we checked into our hotel, scoped out downtown Napa and headed off to our first wine tour and tasting at Robert Mondavi.  When we arrived, we were told that Margarit Mondavi, Robert Mondavi’s 2nd wife had passed away that afternoon.  It was definitely a somber mood at the winery as she had quite an impact with the arts, wine and food at the winery.



in Robert Mondavi’s Cellar room. They use new French Oak Barrels every year. This room has over 1.5 million dollars of new French Oak Barrels waiting for the 2016 wine!


The fermentation barrels, they each hold over 5,000 gallons of wine.


Robert Mondavi’s Estate Vineyard at sunset

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On Saturday, we drove up to Jordan Winery for a tasting and tour.  We had the sweetest tour and tasting guide, Carlie (When we returned home, she had written us a personal thank you for visiting, how sweet is that?!).  She had just passed her Sommelier exam.  She lead us through the Jordan library, through a secret door and into our tasting room where we tried 4 different wines.    We had a great group of people we were with on this tasting- we ran into them on two other days at about 3 different wineries!


The Jordan Chateau


Wine and food pairing at Jordan Winery in the private library


After we were done at Jordan, we talked with our tour guide and she recommended a few places so we checked out Hawkes.  If you check out their site, read their about us section.  Definitely memorable!  Anyway, they had a great chardonay and it was a quaint and beautiful little place along the side of the road.


They get their grapes from three different areas. They farm about 85 acres.



After Hawkes we headed to Beringer to our Rhine House Tour.  The tour was amazing- as it was just Adam, myself and our tour guide, Michelle.  We had a great time in a private room of the Rhine house, hearing stories of the Beringer family, tasting great wine- and no- none of it was White Zin.  They have their cash cow of White Zin, but their reds were unique in the best possible way.  Our tour guide was great, she even brought us more wine to try, food to taste with the wine and again gave us great recommendations for breakfast the next morning!   napa14 napa15 napa16

After Beringer, we ate at Bistro Don Giovanni and had a great dinner.  The food and wine was delicious, everyone was working so hard to make sure you had a great meal and service.  They had a beautiful outside area we sat at after we were finished with our meal.  Definitely a place to go back to!

On Sunday, we started our day off at Silver Oak.  Our tour guide, Maggie, was wonderful.  She took us all around the grounds, through the vines- where we tried a grapes right off the vine.  Wine grapes are definitely different than your table grapes.  Wine varietals are so much smaller, about the size of a blueberry.  Anyway, Maggie took us through the vineyards, the archive room, the fermentation area and barrel room.  The grounds at Silver Oak are so beautiful and the history was fun to learn about!


Our tour guide opened a 2006 cabernet as part of our tasting- and she didn’t even know we were celebrating our 10th anniversary. It was a great coincidence. We got a picture with the magnum bottle of the 2006 as well!


in the barrel room at Silver Oak


Silver Oak Cellars

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our view from our table, overlooking Venge Vineyard.

From Silver Oak, we headed to lunch at Bistro Jeanty in Yountville.  A small little place but great food!  It reminded me of a really amazing home cooked meal but with a French twist.  The decor was really fun too, I envision France to be a lot like this little place!  After lunch, we headed to Venge Vineyards.  This came as a recommendation from someone my husband knows.  The wine was fantastic, the views were incredible and it was really relaxing.  We sat at a table outside and our tasting guide, Al, was great.  This place is a small vineyard but should not be overlooked.    napa22 napa24 napa25

On Monday, we started our day off at Archetype.  They are usually closed on Mondays but I am so glad they were open on this holiday weekend.  It is such a beautiful place, yet one I would have probably just walked past if I was walking by.  The inside was beautiful, simple and inviting.  I had the best cinnamon walnut roll with orange cream cheese and breakfast sage sausage.  If I could plan my revisit Napa trip, this would be on my list for breakfast every. single. morning.


After breakfast, we headed straight to Hall Wines,  where we were greeted with a glass of wine by our tour and tasting guide, Chris.  Hall Wines was unlike any other place we had been to with regards to the artwork everywhere.  Hall makes great wines- we first found one of our original favorites from Costco- their 2012 Cabernet.  We have had their 2013 and liked it too, but getting to try their higher end wines was a real treat.  The stories behind each wine was fascinating and the artwork and labels were so intriguing to me.


the table in the Bergfield Barn. The lights above it represent the grapes at different stages of the growing season.


Our tour guide, Chris, getting a barrel tasting for Adam. Chris is using a wine thief for the 2015 Kathryn Hall wine. This wine has been aging for 12 months and will continue to age in barrel for about another 12 months. It was delicious and I can’t wait to try it when it is released in 2017!


The magnum bottle of White Zin that was a originally thought of as a ‘mistake’ and turned into a huge success!


overlooking the courtyard from the Bergfield Barn


The pizza oven in the courtyard of Hall Wines for their wine club parties!


The fermentation and processing room at Hall Wines. The artwork hanging from the ceiling are another rendition of grapes. Kathryn Hall’s favorite color is red- if you haven’t guessed!


our tasting room at Hall Wines


Little Bunny Foo Foo at Hall Wines- there is quite a funny story behind this bunny, too long to add to this post, but it is pretty great!

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From Hall Wines, we went to Chimney Rock.  We actually tried to go to Chimney Rock earlier in our trip, but the doors were locked and it seems they only do tastings by appointment.  So we scheduled one on Monday!  We have had Chimney Rock wines at one of our local restaurants and really enjoyed it, so we wanted to check out their winery.  We had a wonderful tasting with Debbie and received a personal thank you note from her when we returned home.  I really enjoyed their white wine- the Elevage Blanc.  I am not typically a white wine person, but this was quite amazing!


After Chimney Rock, we headed to Auberge du Soleil for a late lunch.  Their terrace is breath taking and the food was amazing.  I know, I am sounding like a broken record, but this trip was truly amazing.  Everything went so well, the wine was amazing, the people were so down to earth and the itinerary was fantastic… (thanks babe!)  napa37 napa38 napa39 napa40 napa41 napa42


Chateau Montelena

This trip all started with a discussion over a movie, Bottle Shock.  We first watched this movie the night our third child was born.  We were talking about how fun it would be to go to Napa for our 10th Wedding Anniversary.  From that moment on, we wanted to go to Napa.  Luckily it all worked out for us to go for our tenth anniversary.  I wasn’t pregnant or nursing and our kids were old enough to be left with their grandparents and hopefully it wasn’t too difficult for them to watch all four kids!  We are very grateful to have parents willing and so close to watch them for us during this trip.  The movie Bottle Shock is based, loosely we found out, on Chateau Montelena and the story of 1976 when their wine beat the French wine in a blind tasting.  It was pretty fun to see the actual Chateau and hear the real history and not the Hollywood version.       napa43 napa45

From Chateau Montelena, we went to Robert Sinskey Vineyards and had a wonderful tasting and food pairing.  The photography was beautiful and the food pairings were great!  It was definitely a place I loved as it felt relatable to me.  I love the photography aspect and everything on their grounds made them pretty self sufficient.  They had beautiful landscaping which was well thought out- for instance they had olive and lime trees, strawberry bushes and much, much more growing that they used for their kitchen.  I loved their wine cellar.  The lighting was amazing.

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From Robert Sinskey Vineyards, we went to Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars who won the red category of the 1976 blind wine tasting in France.  Their wines were amazing and the view was breathtaking.  It was fun to hear of the reasons they named the wine, ‘Stag’s Leap’ (it has to do with the rock in the picture below and a deer (stag) leaping from one rock to the other).  The wine was fantastic, the beautiful floor to ceiling windows overlooking their vineyards and historical mementos displayed from the 1976 tastings were amazing.


the words ‘Stags Leap Wine Cellars’ was not typed on my me- that was on the window overlooking their vineyard and the mountains behind.

If you are still with me, kudos to you.  This is the longest post ever, and will be helpful to me when I try to make our album of this trip and the hundreds of pictures.  This won’t be a trip I will ever forget- one I am so appreciative of the work my husband put into booking the tastings, tours, flights… well just everything.  I would love to say I helped, but I didn’t.  I made sure the kids had their stuff together but that was about it!  If you ever head to Napa, I would highly recommend any of these places I linked to!  There are a few more restaurants I would love to add, but this post was plenty long as it is, so if you want more recommendations, just ask!

The way things work out

It is funny the way things work out.  Back in high school and college, I took art classes because I didn’t have a study hall and I thought art would be ‘easy.’  I didn’t want another class that would have lots of homework along with it.  Rookie mistake.  I quickly learned that art class wasn’t easy and I wasn’t very good at it.  I tried my hand at an art history class in college because it filled a general requirement and I wanted to get my degree and get done.  I failed art history miserably and was definitely embarrassed to drop the class I thought would be a breeze.  I was not good at seeing what my teacher wanted me to see and learn.

After having my first child, I suddenly found an interest in photography.  I hated watching my baby blink after every flash only to take another picture so he wouldn’t have a surprised facial expression in each picture.  I wanted natural pictures of how he looked at each stage.  I wanted to remember the little details, the big moments and everything in between.

I bought my first dslr in May of 2010, while I was pregnant with my second baby.  I started reading everything I could about photography.  Those first pictures I took I thought were amazing…. and they were an improvement, but not great.  The last two years I have taken a few classes through Clickin Moms and have very much enjoyed them.  They are packed full of information and I love that you keep the class materials so you can go back and reference them.


So fast forward to the other day when I was sitting down with my kids in our living room and noticed the ‘Rembrandt triangle‘ on my 4 year old’s face.  It made me laugh how I remembered that from my Mastering Natural Light Indoors class with Clickin Moms.  The information I have learned about composition, framing and light makes me appreciate art and photography so much more.  If someone would have told me ten years ago I would love art, I would have laughed.  While I still wouldn’t think of myself as terribly creative, I do enjoy photography and can’t wait to keep learning about it.

Where is Asher?

Asher's books

Most days when we can’t find Asher, (and what I mean by that is, he is quiet in the house somewhere for a few minutes,) we usually find him in his room.  He loves this little area between his rocking chair and bed with all of our favorite baby books.  He usually likes to take them all off the shelves and can be found paging through them.  It is moments like this when I wish I could know what a baby is thinking.  He looks through all the pages in one book and then only one or two pages in the next and casts it aside.  As frustrating as it is to pick up the books several times a day- and yes we are working on picking up, it is pretty sweet.

Asher's blocks

Her heart’s desire

Bible reading

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.  Philippians 2:13

Her desire to ‘read her Bible’ quietly by herself is the sweetest thing.  She actually can’t read yet but so wants to read her Bible and ‘journal’ in it.  Last Christmas we bought her a journaling Bible and thought it would be great to see how Jesus works in her life throughout her childhood.  She has journaled in it a few times this past year and definitely loves telling us about her pictures.  She has such a strong desire to know Him and grow in her faith.  It is humbling to watch her growth and understanding of God’s word.

So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.  Romans 5:11



Sunday outing

Union Pacific2

During the weekends, we try to take time together to do something fun with the six of us.  Some weekends we are able to do this, and other weekends there just isn’t time between work, other events, naps and kids activities.  This past Sunday, we checked out some trains from Union Pacific.  It was quite hot outside so afterwards we headed downtown to get some yummy ice cream!

Union Pacific

Paper Crane

The ceiling of the ice cream shop was covered in paper cranes for the Peace Project.  There are more than 6,000 paper cranes hanging from their ceiling!

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This little man wanted chocolate ice cream and I wrongly assumed that he wanted it in a dish… or maybe it was that I thought it would be less messy and easier for him to eat the delicious Dutch chocolate ice cream.  So he got his cone and all was right in the world… for a few minutes.

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Vanilla bean ice cream in a cone- the smile says it all!  I feel like he looks quite old in this picture, maybe it is the toothless smile or the fact that he is 7 and beginning second grade?!?  As cliche as it is, I wish time would slow down.  I enjoy these family moments we get to spend together and I feel so blessed to have a great family.  Wishing you a relaxing weekend!



the monarch butterfly


As a kid, my mom was always raising caterpillars from eggs to the butterfly for school.  She is an elementary education teacher and she shared these experiences with her students, my brother and myself every year.  This year, she was going to be out of town when the butterflies came out of their chrysalis so we took them for her and our kids were able to see the butterflies break open their chrysalis.  It was pretty neat, but this is really the only picture we were able to get because they flew away so quickly!  My middle two kids thought it was pretty amazing and it was sure sweet to see how interested they were in the butterflies.