Memorial Day Weekend & Wine

In Oregon, it is has become tradition for the bevy of local wineries to open their doors to the public to kick off the summer wine tasting season. Many of the wineries put out a spread of yummy foods and some even have live music. This April marked our one year anniversary as Oregonians and we decided to hit the road and head out once again into the beautiful heaven that is the Willamette Valley's wine country and home to the some of best Pinot Noir in the world. We went last year and we were a little too enthusiastic. We decided to go to five wineries which proved to be a little rushed and also a little (scratch that, a lot!!!!) too much to drink, although we went with our friends Joe and Tracey and it was, as spending time with them always is, a total blast.

This year we picked a different approach and decided to pick one winery that we were really interested in and then maybe stop at one or two others on the way, packing a delicious picnic of fruits, cheese and chocolate to enjoy along the way. There are so many wineries in the Willamette Valley just minutes from where we live that you can hardly drive a mile without coming across one or two. We thought it would be laid back and more of an adventure and it proved to be, what I would consider a perfect day:) Being out there amongst the vines, the beautiful scenery, mountains in the background....

We started out at Cherry Hill Winery, which was the one I was really excited to go to. They consider themselves a boutique winery because they produce a limited number of cases per year, although business is good and they are growing fast, as you can see from the vineyard pictures. I'd been wanting to try their wines for quite some time, but they are a little pricey so going to their tastings provides a great opportunity to taste some great wines that you wouldn't normally splurge on. Some of them, like Cherry Hill also waive the tasting fee if you buy a bottle. Cherry Hill proved to be our favorite of the day. All of their wines were fantastic, but their 2004 Papillion Estate Pinot Noir stood out to both of us and we bought a bottle for our next special occasion. They also have created a really laid-back environment with funny signs everywhere and an atmosphere that makes you feel comfortable, no matter your level of wine knowledge.

Pictures from Cherry Hill

baby pinot grapes

When I'm feeling sad about having no social life in Salem, all I have to do is drive 15 minutes out into the country and I remember why I was so drawn to this beautiful place. It is truly my heaven. Total sublimity....

The next wineries we visited were Left Coast Cellars, which was having their grand opening and Orchard Heights. Left Coast Cellars had some yummy Pinots and a really good Chardonnay (imho) but Orchard Heights was a little disappointing although they did have a horseshoe pit on the premise so we took advantage of that which was really fun. Note: Jeremy whooped my butt.

Pictures from Left Coast Cellars


Today's Distractions

No captions! Reckless abandon! Wheeeee!

Happy Birthday, Tracy Ann!

I wanted to post today in honor of one of the most special people in my life. I am a better person for knowing her and so very thankful to have her as a friend. She is wicked smart, funny, kind and full of life. Today is one of my very favorite days because it is the day she was born:) Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl!


Thank you Mom & Dad!!!

My parents gave me a gift certificate to this really great local store called Loose Ends www.looseends.com for my birthday in February. I purchased two rustic-looking trellises, some copper cones (which are just the coolest things ever) and a decorative birdhouse on a stake. They've all been such lovely additions to the backyard!

As you can see the trellises are coming in very handy! They're made out of heavy sticks and they look so natural. I think they have such a rustic, pastoral look to them and they're perfect for growing peas and beans on.

I wanted to wait to post a picture until I had something planted in the copper cones, but they look cool just like this! I need to drill some holes in them for drainage before I plant in them. You can also see my cute little birdhouse decoration.

"I'm your only friend
I'm not your only friend
But I'm a little glowing friend
But really I'm not actually your friend
But I am

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch
Who watches over you
Make a little birdhouse in your soul
Not to put too fine a point on it
Say Im the only bee in your bonnet
Make a little birdhouse in your soul"

-They Might be Giants

The Wee Garden, continues...

Since we ran out of garden space, we started planting in the empty spaces in our backyard. I like the idea edible landscaping and think it looks beautiful when zucchini, pumpkins, squash, cantaloupe or cucumbers are mixed among the foliage. Above we've planted artichokes and zucchini. I don't know if you can see from the picture but the artichokes are in the very back in the right and left of the picture and the zucchini is in the lower left beside the fern.


Tomatoes, rubarb and watermelon.

Spaghetti squash

I planted two concord grape vines on the fence. My hope is that, not only will we have a nice harvest of grapes in a couple years but that they will grow to block the view that the neighbors have of our deck from their house. I think Jeremy could build an arbor "extension" for the top of the fence that would give us a couple more feet of privacy so Rigby can hang out naked in the back yard.

Along the fence we've planted brussel sprouts (my favorite veggie) red and yellow bell peppers, poblano and chili peppers, Japanese and purple eggplant, carrots, golden beets, sugar peas and beans. As you can see, we don't get full sun here for the entire day. The near end gets a few hours a day but it this was the only place we really had for a garden so we thought we'd give it a shot. If it doesn't work out maybe we'll consider raised beds in the front yard next year. This year will be our trial and error year:)



Just a quick comment on coffee and the PNW. People seem to take their coffee pretty seriously here. And what's with everyone asking you if you want a straw in your hot coffee? I've never been anywhere where people where so obsessed with straws in hot beverages? Is it just for stirring or to some people like to sip their hot beverage through a straw? Am I missing out?

There is a coffee shop on practically every corner even in Salem, which is not the cultural center of the universe by all means. Even if you're driving out in the middle of nowhere, eureka, coffee shop. Town of 30 people. Coffee shop. Or at least a drive thru coffee hut. I'm not complaining because coffee is on my list of favorite things in life. Anyway, Tracey and I were discussing this and I think we came to a basic agreement that it has something to do with the rain and the slight depression that sets in mid-winter and how coffee really gives you the extra punch you need to get through the cold, rainy mornings. I know I've been drinking a little more coffee since I moved here. Jeremy says it's a cold climate thing, but it's not as cold here as say the NE and look how much bigger coffee is here. I have to disagree. I think it's the rain.

With the many options to choose from in Oregon, I have felt the need to branch out. So far my absolute favorite is Java Crew. Their coffee is so good! Honestly, it's so good that after a year of Salem's coffee diversity, I can hardly drink a Starbucks coffee anymore. It's is second so far only to my husband's mad-coffee-making skills. Jeremy's is also my favorite because it doesn't cost $3 a cup and a girl's gotta budget. What's your favorite?
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Backyard flowers

It's a beautiful day outside today and I found myself distracted by the flowers in our backyard. Here's a virtual bouquet going out to all my special gals:) Mwa!
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Wake up, Rigby!

The other day Rigby DID NOT want to get out of bed...so we made him in it. He does this "thing" where, as soon as you get out of bed in the morning, he moves up and steals your pillow. What a life! Can you believe this guy?
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At the Zoo

Jeremy and Rhyann crawling through a crawly log at the zoo. Unfortunately you can't see Rhyann in the picture:(

This was my favorite part of the zoo. Aquariums are more my thing:) Rhyann is the cutie in the green.

Ducks! This exibit was also really neat because the ducks are on the other side of reflective glass so they come up right next to you. They were so pretty to see up so close.

Last weekend, Ruth and Rhyann came to visit and see little Nilah and stayed with Joe and Tracey in Portland. We went to the Portland Zoo with Ruth, Rhyann, Joe, Trace and Nilah on Saturday and they all came down on Sunday for a BBQ. We had so much fun on their visit! It was great to see them:) Just like the old days!
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Jeremy's Birthday

Scarob beetle on one of Jeremy's presents (for longevity!)

PGE park, home of the Portland Beavers. They sadly lost by 1 point but it was an exciting game up until the end. Beav's tix were one of Jeremy's presents for a game the following weekend.

Unwrapping of the Birthday loot

Jeremy is mad that I posted this picture. I will post a picture of myself that I think is bad so we'll be even:) Loot: Groovy new shoes for my groovy guy and persian rug mousepad.
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