Fall Table Setting: More!

I have created additional ideas to add to my initial Fall Table Setting post. What am I loving about the current trends for holiday decorating? That your own palate can be created so that your holiday décor flows seamlessly with your personal style. This creates endless possibilities! Have fun with it!
Diane Rogers

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Fall Table Setting

Fall is in the air! It is time to prepare your table. Hosting a Thanksgiving Day feast or holiday dinner party? The options are endless! Have fun with it and don’t be afraid to go beyond the traditional Fall color palate…

Diane Rogers

 

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Fall Tradition: Gingerbread Cookies

Fall is in the air! Fall is by far my favorite season. The crisp morning air, the changing foliage in vibrant reds, yellows, and raw umber, and cozying up with my fur throw in front of the fireplace. I love it. It is also the time of year when I begin holiday baking. One of my yearly traditions is to make gingerbread cookies. They are a favorite among family & friends and I love the entire process. It gets me in the holiday spirit.

This tradition is older than my 19 year old. I found the recipe in a small gingerbread book that I picked up at a garage sale for 10 cents. I tweeked it because the first time I tried the recipe I didn’t have cardamom so I substituted with allspice and I make them a little thicker so that the cookies stay soft. The cookies came out so delicious I have stuck to my version ever since. I have even had several people try them who weren’t fans of gingerbread and they became hooked. I use royal icing to give the cookies their finishing touch.

This tradition gets me in the groove to start my season of baking. From this, I move on to three kinds of biscotti, chocolate truffles, snow balls, and haystacks to name a few. Let the holiday baking begin! What’s your holiday baking tradition?

Diane Rogers

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When Life Presents You With A Mountain, Put On Your Climbing Shoes And Start Climbing

 

When life gives you a mountain, put on your climbing shoes and start climbing! As a young girl I was adventurous, wanted to bungy jump off a cliff, jump out of a plane, scale a rock wall, etc….Then somewhere along the journey as I entered adulthood I formed a fear of heights. Maybe it was the time my husband, small son and I were hiking in Zion National Park.

We found ourselves on the hiking path high above the ground, entering what I referred to as, “The Point of No Return” zone. In order to continue, you had to hug the cliff wall and carefully slide your feet across the narrow floor space, all while being one step away from becoming the evening’s tragic news story. I DID NOT want to continue. I remember my son who was a mere 5 years old at the time saying, “Come on Mama, you can do it! See its not bad!” as he scooted around the ledge. I thought I was going to hurl breakfast seeing him move. Vertigo set in, I was in “full mode” fear.

When I realized I would be sitting there alone waiting for them to return from the rest of the hike, I sucked it up and moved. Fear had enveloped every single inch of my body, the feeling was intense to say the least. But I did it, I made it around the corner. We all made it out that day without becoming the news, thank God! What strikes me today is what was on the other side. The amazing views, the striking rock formations, the waterfalls, it was by far a trip to forever remember. If you have never experienced Zion, add it to your bucket list. We have been back a few times. I could live there if they would let me, it is so majestic. I feel God’s presence in HD when I am there.

So I write this story today because life places mountains in front of us often. Some big, some small, and whatever the size if we chose to scale these obstacles we will be forever changed by what is revealed on the other side.

This week I had small obstacles blocking my way, discouraging me from moving past them. It felt as if someone was standing high above me and throwing boulders one by one in front of my path saying, “I’ll stop her! What does she think she is trying to do? You can’t do that?” Who do you think you are? (that one AGAIN) It was getting the best of me. I prayed, I journal-ed, I honored my quiet God time. Thank goodness for my wonderful supportive husband, he seems to always know when to encourage me, when to joke with me (and when to not! ha ha!), or when to give me a much needed hug and say “I love you”.

What I discovered about myself through this boulderfest was that sometimes I need to take a step back. Take a breath and slow it down. Look inside and decipher what is creating the fear. What is getting me hung up. In today’s world we expect everything instantly. We live in a world where everything is at your fingertips in warp speed. It can be a positive and a negative. For me, I needed to hit “pause” and stop and look at what I had already accomplished in order to get myself back on track and equipped to overcome the obstacles.

I put on my climbing shoes and my “I will conquer” attitude. I took one step up the mountain, one reach here, one foot there. Like a climber I assessed my options, took careful note of my surroundings and where I would make my very next move. To much amazement I scaled my mountain successfully. I had a very productive AND peaceful day. I allowed myself to step back from the situation and assess. I conquered and what was revealed on the other side gave me hope and a feeling of gratitude for trusting in God’s way and not fear’s way.

So I encourage you today to scale your mountain whatever it may be. Get back up if you have fallen into the pit of discouragement. Put on your climbing shoes and “can do” attitude, for what will be revealed on the other side with take your breath away. It is better to try and discover than worry and wonder.

 

 

Bathroom Design

floating shelves
bathroom floating shelves

In this small bathroom, nicer finishes were added to give the small space eye appealing style. The gray walls are SW Repose Gray. Pine ship lap was applied to the vanity wall to add height and interest. A white/gray granite replaces the laminate countertop. White penny round mosaic tile & a gray trim were artfully designed for the backsplash. New modern bar pulls adorn the dark wood cabinets, replacing satin nickel knobs. White vessel sinks allow for more counter space and a modern look. Two framed decorative mirrors replace the builder grade wall mirror. 12×24 white porcelain tile with gray grout was installed in a 30% offset pattern, replacing linoleum and adding depth to the space. The floating shelves were constructed from the remaining ship lap material to add interest on the wall.

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La Crema Estate @ Saralee’s Vineyard

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La Crema @ Saralee’s Vineyard 3575 Slusser Rd, Windsor, CA 95492

This was a very special day. My sister & I share the same birthday 3 years apart and I wanted to surprise her with a special day to honor the amazing woman she is and celebrate our priceless sisterhood. Her favorite wine is La Crema’s Pinot Noir. She actually turned me on to this one as I am more of a Cab/Red Blend girl but she has given me a new appreciation for Pinots thank to La Crema’s Pinot!

Through my trip research I discovered La Crema had 2 destinations in the Sonoma wine region. Located in Healdsburg is La Crema’s Tasting Room and in Windsor is picturesque La Cema @ Saralee’s Vineyard. This location is nestled in the Russian River Valley in a historic 1900s barn. The staff was so accommodating and friendly. The interior is rustic with a modern flair.

I chose the Saralee’s location for two reasons. One, it was a closer drive for us from our rental house in Sonoma and secondly, they offered a fabulous Picnic for 4 Wine Tasting that spoke to me! I called and was so happy to discover that we could get a reservation while in town for our trip. (Do plan in advance for something like this during high season). 

La Crema @ Saralee’s Vineyard offers 5 amazing experiences to choose from, I chose Saralee’s Picnic Experience because it was the perfect fit for a birthday celebration. This tasting is designed for 4 people in a formal setting presented by a Wine Educator/Chef. A menu of specialty foods & 5 La Crema wines is served and a picnic basket donning the La Crema logo is yours to take home. All for $150.

This was a memory we will cherish. Our chef was pleasantly fun, very informative and a delight. We sat on the back patio with a beautiful view of the grounds. The wine was fabulous, so of course, we brought several bottles home, one was enjoyed with our steak dinner that night! A visit to La Crema @ Saralee’s Vineyard is well worth the wine and the experience!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wine Country: Chateau St. Jean

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 Chateau St. Jean Estate Winery: 8555 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, CA 95452

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My sister & I share the same birthday in July, 3 years apart. She is the younger one (lucky her!). There is a name for this, Iris Twins, we call ourselves “distant twins” as we are so much alike we could be twins, and of course we both love wine! We wanted to celebrate together in a special way & with our two amazing husbands so we planned a trip to wine country in sunny California this past July. I had lived in Southern California but had never made it to wine country. Not sure how that was possible considering my love of wine and Northern Cali.

We planned 6 months in advance, booked a VRBO home in Sonoma, booked flights and a rental car. Then counted down the days, hours, minutes….It. was. amazing. Just too short of a trip! So in celebration of wine & wine country I am sharing about the wineries we visited. And after the devastating fires in California, I wanted to encourage travelers to head to wine country and help support the amazing industry of wine growers in California. Today I am featuring the beauty of Chateau St. Jean. *Note, a part of this winery did sustain some damage sadly and they are presently closed at the date of this posting, they do hope to open in the near future, so please check their current status and consider visiting!

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Chateau St. Jean by far has the most exquisite grounds. Inspired by estate gardens reminiscent of the South of France. Standing under the massive outreaching trees as the sun filtered through the branches with brilliance was utterly breathtaking. As we strolled through the grounds, you could hear birds chirping, see butterflies fluttering all about the greenery, and feel the warmth of the California sun. Paradise. The elegant chateau takes you back to the 1920s era.

We first entered the main wine tasting room (room is an understatement) and were greeted by the friendly staff. Here they offer a Premium Wine Tasting of 4 wines for $15 pp. There is plethora of wine merchandize, hand crafted goods, and gourmet goodies. I could have browsed in here for an hour easily.

We were then informed the Chateau’s Vineyard Room across the grounds offered a Reserve Tasting featuring 5 reserve & limited wines for $25 pp. The architecture in this building was regal at best with its exquisite wood paneling lining the staircase and walls. French doors opened to an expansive, elegant patio with the most amazing views of vineyards & estate grounds. 20170726_131832 - Copy

A third offering available was the Wine & Cheese Pairing. We could enjoy this on the patio while taking in the views. Offered at $35 pp. My sister and I were very interested in this one, but we had wanted to head out further to hit up other wineries and come back here. Unfortunately that didn’t happen but I will say, on our next wine country visit this is a must! Chateau St. Jean is by far one of my favorite vineyards for their amazing grounds, architecture and friendly staff.thumbnail_20170726_130250 - Copythumbnail_20170726_125841 - CopyIMG_0773 - CopyIMG_0721 - Copy