Sunday, May 31, 2015

Going (for the first time) to Cali, Cali

There is no better time to write a blog post about wine than when you are currently imbibing in a glass yourself. Am I right?

Just go with it! 

Following our taxing (but fun) trip to Yosemite National Park, we hopped back in the rental and headed toward Wine Country. First stop on our list was Domaine Carneros.

Domaine Carneros is known for award-winning, organic Napa Valley sparkling wine ("California Champagne"), and Pinot Noir. It was beautiful, but truth be told, we didn’t taste any wine there. Yikes! We had an entire day ahead of us, so it was crucial to stay focused and prioritize our tastings. But again, still so beautiful and reminiscent of chateaus we’ve seen upon our trip to Paris.

Second stop ended up being one of my personal favorites, with a view that would make you melt. Perched high up on a hill, Silverado Vineyard had the friendliest staff, delicious tastings, and once more a view that was AMAZEBALLS. Adding to the experience, J and I were the first once there that morning, so we were able to have the place all to ourselves for a while. #WINNING

After pulling ourselves away from that view, we did a little scenic drive toward Napa Style in Yountville.  It was where I had planned our refuel stop, as it known for their delicious artisanal specialty foods. J selected their Turkey 4 Citrus Dijon Marmellata and Currant Chèvre Panini with roast turkey, wholegrain Dijon citrus marmalade, black currant chèvre, mesclun with blood orange vinegar reduction on sourdough. I ventured for the Cubano Italiano Panini with
porchetta, prosciutto cotto ham, soppressata, provolone cheese, Calabrian sweet pickles with honey dijon on ciabatta. I can’t even put into words how good it was, so I won’t even attempt. Just trust me.

Stop number three was the only winery we actually had a schedule appointment with. Before leaving these parts, we def wanted to book a tour in addition to tastings in order to get the “full all access experience” - and Castello di Amorosa was where we chose.

It’s Dario Sattui's (of the V. Sattui wine family) authentically-built 13th century Tuscan castle and winery. As you can imagine, this was also quite freakin' cool. Led by a knowledgable guide, we were able to explore multiple levels of the Castello followed by a tasting of five of their premium wines, and their high end reserve wines.

So, after the consumption that took place at Castello, we collectively decided that one more official wine stop would put the icing on the cake. This was going to be a stop that was smaller than all of the places that we had visited, but certainly the most cozy and impressively beautiful. Located in Sonoma, Benziger Winery is a eight, same-generation family winery that manages every aspect of the grape- growing and winemaking endeavor. Here, J and I enjoyed a glass of their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, while taking it upon ourselves to stroll through their rolling vineyards.

Before we got caught, we clinked our glasses to praise God for this amazing trip and then skedaddled back up to the clubhouse to purchase a few bottles to take home with us.

 That marked the end of our beverage tour and we then embarked on our 1-hour jaunt toward our final California destination: San Francisco - where we did all the typical tourist(y) stuff. Beach, Muir Woods, Clam Chowder, Pier 39, Seal entertainment, Giants game, the obligatory Golden Gate bridge selfie.

I'm not the smartest woman in the world, but I'm smart enough to know that God's hand had everything to do with orchestrating this incredible trip with my best dude. I am so grateful. WE are so grateful. Praise him!

And just for a fun takeaway - if you've ever wondered what it looks like to sip a strong wine - this is your demonstration: Sorry, J!

Now go out and get your travel on!
XOXO - The Dossers

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Odd Number of Things I Learned While Scaling a Mountain

Similar to those BuzzFeed articles that constantly get shared via your Friend’s Facebook feed, I wanted to share some of my randomly collected thoughts,insights, and breakthroughs I had over the course of our trip to Yosemite National Park in a BuzzFeed fashion - all list like. I can’t promise it will be as entertaining as that “13 Signs You’re a Really Great Person” article or the “15 Ways to Tell if Your Husband Really Loves You”, but I’ll give a good ole college try.

In all seriousness, when J (my huz), came to me the idea of hiking through and camping in Yosemite National Park a couple of weeks ago, I kind of freaked. Mostly, in a good way. But also in the way that makes you reaaaaally nervous and your palms sweat. He was suggesting we embark on a 4-mile trek, climbing 3,000 ft up to 7,000 ft of elevation to the top of Yosemite Valley and camp overnight with the very supplies we would carry on our backs. No sweat, right? We are both self-proclaimed “thrill-seekers”, so the fact of having never hiked a mountain of this magnitude wasn’t going to stop us. But let’s get one thing straight, the thought of it was terrifying. Terrifyingly awesome. 

Insight #1 - Be Motivated by your Fears:
As much of a Type A person as I am, I also have a part of me that thoroughly enjoys the adventure of the unknown. Going after something or doing something totally wild that I have no business doing, and being energized by my fear to “Just Do It”. No questions asked. I had never hiked a mountain that flipping tall before, with a heavy pack on my back, at an elevation I was not acclimated to. Dude, I didn’t even own hiking boots before we left for the trip. My inner dialogue kicked in- “Who cares, Marissa. Feel the fear, and do it anyway.”

Breakthrough - I have a long history of playing it safe and allowing fear to cripple me. That’s a whole other story for another time, but truthfully, what prompted me to start chasing after my fears was just me one day finally coming to the end of my rope. I was SO OVER being a scared little ball of nerves and missing out on so many great opportunities in life. It was boring and I was completely exhausted from all the over-analyzing and worrying about things out of my control. “I don’t have enough money, I don’t have enough time. Why should that good thing happen to me?” “Why do I deserve this”. Ahhhhhhhh, it was time I put that crap to bed. There was no point in playing it safe, waiting for someone to give me permission, or waiting for the “someday” that would never come unless I kicked my booty into action and just took the step of faith. Or in this case, the hike of faith. And so, I (along with my groom) climbed that danged ole mountain like a BOSS.

Insight #2 - The Mountains are Majestic - Therapeutic - Teachers of Life
If you have big problems in your life, go to the mountains. If you have a big ego in life, go to the mountains. If you struggle with pridefulness, I’m telling ya, take your self to the mountains. There has never been a more humbling experience in my life. Walking alongside massive cliffs, boulders and beneath the towering Sequoia trees was awe-inspiring. It was particularly magnificent to be in the presence of and standing beneath the Sequoia trees in the Park. Standing beneath them was like standing in the shadow of the Creator. I have never felt more insignificant, yet profoundly connected to everything around me. 

The amazing Sequoias can measure more than twenty feet wide and three hundred feet tall. Their root systems go down about twelve feet and can stretch out into an area about eighty feet in diameter. Their resistance to disease, insect damage, and fire make the trees almost indestructible. And their built-in ability to recycle and regenerate contributes to their two-thousand-year life span. But what’s really the most mind-blowing thing of them all? It’s the mere fact that every sequoia tree was a once a tiny little seed that is no bigger than one that produces a tomato plant. Wow! It is astounding that one measly and seemingly insignificant little seed can produce such grand creations.

Breakthrough - Before something can grow, a seed has to be planted. Simple enough, huh?
Now go and apply that to life.

Insight #3 - God is Faithful if you Sow your Seeds
This following is insight that I have gained from Pastor Mark Batterson from his teaching on Matthew 17:20 “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed…” In his teaching, he says, “If we are going to understand the potential of faith, we have to understand the power of the seed. Jesus spoke of our faith in relation to a mustard seed, the smallest known garden seed in that culture.

Like every seed, it needs time to germinate. And some seeds, like some dreams, take longer than others. That is the very nature of the seeds. They go underground. They disappear. And while it may seem like they are dead, they are not. They’re just germinating under the surface. Similarly, faith is what keeps are dreams alive, even when it seems as though they are dead and buried.

Breakthrough - Saying a prayer (and I said a lot of prayers for our future while hiking) is like planting a seed into the ground. It disappears for a season, but eventually it sprouts and bears fruit in the most unexpected ways. However, I have to be okay with it not aligning with my time schedule. I have to learn to have the patience of the planter, the foresight of the farmer, and the mind-set of the sower. My dreams won’t become realities overnight, and most prayers won’t be answered immediately. And that’s okay. It’s not my responsibility to make things grow. It’s my responsibility to plant (pray) and water. God will do the rest!

 And like Pastor Mark said, “Never give into the temptation to stop sowing seeds. Keep praying, keep obeying, keep giving, keep loving, keep serving. And if you keep sowing the right seeds, the harvest of blessing will come in God’s time, in God’s way.”


Last but not least, if you are ever in the market for booking a trip to Yosemite yourself, here’s just a piece of FREE advice - Do not, under any circumstance, accidentally lose a granola bar in your tent while camping overnight in bear country. It will, with a doubt, create much tension and distress between you and your fellow camping cronies. I'm not saying that I did such a thing, but I could see where it could cause potential problems ;)

Leave the granola bars at home and go forth and prosper, my friends!