Winter Date Night Series – Ice Skating!

The Caldwell/D’Onofrio clan went to Big Cedar Lodge on Table Rock Lake for Thanksgiving which is a long standing Caldwell fam tradition! If you haven’t been, it is a gorgeous place to get away.

While we were there, our families decided to go ice skating and I was like ahhh this needs to be my next date night post. 1. I LOVE ice skating. 2. It is such a fun and romantic date. 3. It’s a great activity for friends and family to join in to!

I definitely want these date night posts to be fun things to do with your boyfriend, spouse, friend, or children, wherever you may be on your life journey. My hope is that these posts encourage you to make time for the people you love in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season even if its just for a quick cup of coffee (or hot chocolate for your little ones!) or an hour at the skating rink. And so I bring you….the 2017 ice skating adventures of the Caldwell/D’Onofrio Clan. Huzzah!

And now, my favorite string of photos from this occasion, courtesy of the mother. They had the most hilarious penguin thing that you can ride around on through the rink and M and I adopted it. We’re the weirdest. 

OUTFIT DETAILS

JACKET | SHIRT | JEANS | BOOTS (old, but similar here)

My personal recommendation is that your ice skating date is followed up with some hot chocolate at home or out and about. If you’re staying at home, make sure you have this hot chocolate mix and these marshmallows from Williams and Sonoma on hand!

If you’re in DFW, here are the ice rinks near you! Happy Holiday’s to you and yours! 🙂

xoxo, B

 

Holistic Food, Essentail Oils, and Sleep Remedies for Puppy

I’ve had so much love and support over the last couple months of having Miss Babette that I wanted to do a little post on how she’s doing and what life with her has been like!

THE BEGINNING

Many of you know she had some medical things come up for her so it was a bit of a bumpy ride at the beginning. Between her surgery and getting her potty trained, it was a lot more than Michael and I had bargained for, but being the cutie that she is, it was impossible not to love this precious girl. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have days where I wondered if this was a mistake during our first month as a family, so if you’re in the first few weeks with a new pet, give it a month. Things settled down immensely for us.

2 months into having her, our life together has really transformed and changed into a much more normal routine. Now that she is happy, healthy, and much better behaved, she is much easier to manage. She’s a very independent little creature which we love because she doesn’t mind playing with herself. The downside to her independence, however, is that I am needy and am trying to teacher her to snuggle more 🙂 It has been quite an interesting ride (and frankly, a good introductory to parenthood), but let me tell you, I have no idea what I did before miss Babette came along!

PUPPY DIET

I have had countless questions about what I feed her since most of you know how strongly I believe in the power of food as medicine and preventative healthcare. If you’re new around here, I’m kind of a “crunchy” dog mother and wife obsessed with good, quality ingredients in food. Welcome to my weirdness. But back to her diet, it’s been a journey with her food to say the least and has not worked out AT ALL as I had planned. Many of you know that my intentions were to make Babs homemade dog food (yes, I’m that person). After speaking to a few different vets, however, they made it clear that the felt puppers should be eating dog food specifically formulated for puppies to ensure that they are receiving the proper vitamins and nutrients as they are growing. As Babbers gets older, we will likely transition her to homemade food. I’ll keep everyone posted on that and will include puppy recipes here!

We started Babs out with Taste Of The Wild Venison Grain Free Puppy Formula. I really, really like the ingredients in this dog food, however, when she was post op, we couldn’t get her to eat anything at all. Her diet turned into mostly cold cut turkey and shredded chicken because that was all we could get her to gobble up. Our vet said to give her anything she would eat so we did! Following that, we transitioned her to a canned dogfood and let me tell you, she looooves the Weruva canned dogfood. Her favorite is the Steak Frites (lolol), so she ate that for a while. Michael says “she has expensive taste like her mother”……oops. Following the canned dogfood, we finally transitioned her into her Taste of the Wild food mixed with chicken broth, but a month into eating it, we felt her digestive system didn’t have enough binding properties on a grain free diet since she was having some tummy trouble. So then, we transitioned her into a mix of Taste of the wild with Earthborn Holistic Puppy Formula dry dog food. She currently is eating only the Earthborn Holistic food. I really wanted her on a grain free diet, but it just didn’t seem to be a good match for her little body. Just like humans, I’m finding that every dog is different and it is important to pay attention to the way that we and our pets process food to see what is and isn’t best for each of our bodies.

ESSENTIAL OILS

I mentioned a little ways back that I planned to use some essential oils with Babbers. I think essential oils tend to be a bit of a controversial topic when it comes to dogs, but we have seen really good results from using lavender essential oil and coconut oil on her paws. I mix one tablespoon coconut oil with 1-2 drops of lavender oil with my fingers and massage the tiniest little bit into her paws. I use the rest as a hand, knee, and shin moisturizer for myself 🙂 . When Babs wasn’t feeling well and experiencing pain from her surgery she seemed to calm down and fall asleep when her lavender rubs and I still do this for her before bed.

SLEEP

Speaking of bed, we have been lucky when it comes to her sleep. She sleeps through the night most nights with the exception of a middle of the night bathroom wake-up call here and there when she is desperately needing to go outside! I attribute her good sleeps to a toy that was recommended by one of Michael’s coworkers to help crate train puppies in the first weeks they are away from their mothers. This stuffed dog actually has a heartbeat and heating pad (we never used this) which is designed to mimic the feeling of another little body in their bed with them. From the first night we had her, she had no trouble going right to sleep with what we call her “heartbeat bear”.

One of the first questions people ask us, is “does she sleep in your bed?”. Sadly, no. We wanted to crate train her from the beginning so that she learned to feel safe in there when we weren’t at home. She does a really good job in there and doesn’t seem too mad about her little bed! We did recently try letting her sleep in our bed, but she was a little too excited and walked around on our feet periodically, made her way to up our pillows, and started licking our hands hahaha. Getting good sleep is really important in the D’Onofrio household, so for now, the three of us all sleep much better when Babette has her own bed.

Every time we have a guest over they make jokes about how Babette’s bed is nicer than theirs! It might be true hahaha. I hunted around for a long time for her dog bed and ended up with this one on amazon. At first, I was skeptical because it’s a little pricey, but it has ended up far exceeding my expectations in regards to practicality, comfort, and cleaning. If you have a puppy, this bed is amazing. It fits perfectly in her crate and the cover is waterproof so we can pop it in the wash if she has an accident which was very, very frequent in our first month of having her. I laid on it myself (I know, I’m the weirdest) and it is very thick, supportive, and comfy.

I’ll be back with more puppy updates in the future. Let me know if you have any questions you want me to answer about raising our Shiba Inu, Babette for the next post!

xo, B

PS: Photo dump below of our little one in a chronological order. She is so big now!

Napa/Sonoma Weekend Getaway Day 3

Hello all!

I finally have Day 3 of our Napa Getaway up for you! I am still dreaming about this vino as it was full of sparkling wines!!! 🙂 In case you missed it, here is Day 1 and Day 2!

I’ve been a little inconsistent in this space and I want to apologize for that. I’m looking into another degree program right now (hoping to do a masters in the near future) and M and I keep traveling as per usual. I honestly haven’t been doing a good job of prioritizing this space here and have been struggling with finding balance in my life lately. I’m kind of a yes man and end up spending a lot of my time attending to other people’e needs rather than my own (working on that….all advice welcome). There is also a tendency in my family to go all or nothing with what you do, and the older I get, the more I see of that in me! I’ve decided to make a few changes around here, and I hope you guys will enjoy them.

Blog posts will be on Monday’s, Wednesday’s, Friday’s, and Sunday’s. Sometimes I may sneak in an additional post, but you can expect to see me here 4 times a week. Just as my students, lessons, and personal items have a place on my calendar, I feel that the blog should as well. A lot of you voted on a blog schedule a couple months ago and I really want to honor that request and give a more scheduled approach a shot!

Anyways, more than any of you cared to know, but as always, I will continue to over share and be as honest and transparent as I can be (insert the emoji with the buckteeth and glasses here). And now onto more important things, VINO!

GLORIA FERRER

tasting: $25

Specializing in sparkling wines and looking out on stunning views, we couldn’t have done anything but enjoy our tasting here! You can find their wines in local grocery stores for under $20 so it was fun to visit a spot where we would run into their wine in our daily life. I saw a bottle of Champagne from there at TJ’s and was like “ahhh I was just there!”. We did their fire relief flight which is their less expensive bottles you can find in a grocery store. We both really loved the Brut. Definitely visit here!

DOMAINE CHANDON

tasting: $20

Domaine Chandon was an extra sweet stop for us because we drank a bottle of Champagne on our wedding night. Michael surprised me with one of their bottles grown at their vineyards in France and it was so, so good. This stop was extra sweet. We weren’t in love with their California Champagnes, but reminiscing a sweet times of the past over a glass of champagne was one of my favorite moments of this weekend getaway. We did their Classic Tasting.

MUMM NAPA 

tasting: $25

This is such a lovely location with a beautiful view and delicious sparkling wines. Sit outside on their porch and take in the view! Michael and I tend to prefer a younger wine over a more aged vintage. We did the standard tasting on the patio along with two of their vintages and of course, preferred the 3 wines from the flight over the vintages! We drank a Brut, Sparkling Rose, and their 2014 Champagne, and we loved the Champ! 2014 seems to be our favorite year in the world of vino these days. Definitely come here for a beautiful ambiance and enjoy some Champagne!

ZD WINES

tasting: $45

ZD was a completely spontaneous stop for us. We realized we had just enough time to hit up one more spot on our list so stopped by this lovely property before driving back to the airport and boy am I ever glad we did!!! We got their cheese plate paired with some breadsticks and the cheese was divine. It was locally sourced gouda and cheddar and wowza…..so yummy. We tasted 4 delicious wines here, but our favorite was…..any guesses on the year? Drumroll………their 2014 pinot noir! No surprises there right? Their wines were all just lovely and this place ended up being our second favorite spot of the whole trip.

SWEATER | JEANS | BAG (similar) | SUNGLASSES (old, but similar here)

From here, we headed back to the air, got there too late to check the two bottles of wine we purchased from Saint Francis, threw them in the trash can, went through security, and got on the plane! Alas…..a classic D’Onofrio exit. Dear me.

So here are my top 5 places if you’re going to make a visit to the Napa/Sonoma area

  1. SAINT FRANCIS – Don’t miss out on this one! Favorite spot of the trip by far. Their wines were absolutely fantastic.
  2. ZD WINES – Our second favorite spot with delicious cabernet savignon and pinot noir!
  3. KUNDE FAMILY WINERY – Go and bring your doggy! The have lots of pet friendly outdoor seating that would be amazing on a gorgeous day.
  4. SILVER OAK – super high quality and delicious cabernet.
  5. GLORIA FERRER – enjoy a delicious glass of Champagne with a beautiful view 🙂

Napa/Sonoma Getaway Day 2

And we’re back with Day 2 of the Napa/Sonoma Getaway Trip! Huzzah! If you missed Day 1, you can read that post here. Looking back at these photos just makes me smile. Also the wine was ON POINT Day 2 so I’m excited to share that with you as well.

Yesterday, I talked a little bit about doing a wine tasting trip on a budget which is TOTALLY possible, especially in Sonoma where the tastings are less expensive (and in my humble opinion, the wine is better). So today, we are in Sonoma where we enjoyed each of these tastings for around $15 which I found to be very reasonably priced. We initially wanted to share because we were driving a rental car around Northern Cali, but we actually found that there was more than plenty of wine in one tasting for us and it allowed us to visit more places and experience more wines. After 4 winery tastings we were both happy, but not really wanting more wine (which is quite shocking for us). So all that said, share away! **PS: Check out Fox Rental Car. We had a car for 4 days and 3 nights for only $73!!!

Let’s get started! First stop of Day 1 was…….

SAINT FRANCIS WINERY

Out of everywhere we went, this was by far our favorite winery. The grounds were beautiful, the service was fantastic, and after tasting 9 different wines, there wasn’t one we didn’t like. We really, really felt that the wine was beautifully done, both young and vintage. We tend to prefer younger wines and their 2014 Pinot and Cab were both so good. I love sauvignon blanc and they make a beautiful one that is fresh without being to citrusy. And their rose! So good! Neither of us particularly love Chardonnay and we even thought that of all things was fantastic. Highly, highly recommend. Like so highly. $15 TASTING

Also, Saint Francis has a wine and food pairing in the late morning and early afternoon that is supposed to be absolutely incredible. We want to do it next time after falling in love with their vino!

PS: We did our tasting at the bar and found that the places where we stood at the bar and didn’t sit down that they will start talking to you and pour you other wines that aren’t on the tasting menu as well. If you’re wanting to sit down and relax on a beautiful day outside, go for it, but know that the tasting prices are often more when you get a table. 
 KUNDE FAMILY WINERY

The Kunde Family Winery had lovely wines. I really enjoyed the variety of things we tasted. The two of us are super nerdy and want to learn and talk details about every wine we taste and our server didn’t have as much time to chat with us as he was busying around with other customers, but that was our only complaint. Definitely pay them a visit! $15 TASTINGMATANZAS CREEK WINERY

We also really enjoyed Matanzas Creek, especially the cheese board! Get one of those for sure 🙂 Their tasting was wonderful, but the servers were really just there to pour and not chat. Again, Michael and I wanted to nerd out and annoy them 🙂 Normal people probably prefer to drink wine in peace! We are weird. TASTING: $15  COPPOLA

We couldn’t resist going to a big name! The employees at Coppola were extremely nice, knowledgable, and proud of their wines. We thought they were good, but didn’t walk away raving about anything specific although our experience was great. There were also some really cool pieces inside their winery from movie sets. We dud the Sonoma Inclusive Flight. $20 TASTING 

CA’BIANCA

We decided to do a fun dance dinner one night and went to Ca’Bianca which is a quaint Italian Restaurant located in a historic home. It was a little bit of a drive, but so very charming. We ordered a delicious arugula salad with prosciutto and parmesan and it was so, so delicious. I ordered the filet and Michael ordered the Ossobucco and the film was the fan favorite from us! Definitely pay this place a visit for a romantic evening out! Alright, that’s a wrap of Day 2. See you guys tomorrow for Day 3 and a recap of the 5 places you have to go on your weekend getaway to the Napa/Sonoma area! TOP (similar HERE)| SKIRT (similar HERE, HERE, & HERE)| BOOTIES (similar HERE and HERE

This was one of my favorite outfits from the whole trip. I’ve had a lot of good luck lately with both Express and Nordstrom Rack and I’ve been ordering online from both! The specific pieces I’m wearing sadly sold out so quick (v v sorry), but I linked some similar options above. I’m really into all of the ruffles right now (plz don’t go out of style for a while) and I like the feminine touch they add to a plaid skirt! Alright I’m off to drink a glass of vino 🙂 Cheers!

 

Napa/Sonoma Weekend Getaway Day 1

Happy Tuesday all! I’m sitting here drinking a very large cup of coffee as I write this post and wishing we were back in Northern California drinking champagne instead! Michael and I spent some time in Napa and Sonoma this last weekend for a little getaway and it was so so nice to spend some time just the two of us. Our married life has been such a roller coaster with multiple moves, jobs, and various large life events and to speak honestly, it has really taken a toll on the two of us. It was so refreshing to just peace out, get away from the real world, and spend time focussing on why we love each other so much. Spending intentional time together is huge for our connection with each other. We haven’t laughed like we did this last weekend in a long, long time.I wanted to share with you what we did while we were gone! If you and your sweetie are looking for a quick getaway, Napa is a great place to go. Sadly, because of all the fires there, flights are extremely inexpensive so it’s a great time to snatch up a ticket. We noticed that a lot of the hotels were sadly burned down so we would recommend finding an Air B&B or a hotel just out of town like we did as prices are a bit higher with a fewer amount of places to stay right now.For those of you wondering, the fires are all over now so it is completely safe to go. This is the biggest tourist season in Napa and Sonoma and everyone cancelled their trips due to the chaos going on there so the wineries are desperate for visitors! Normally, most of the smaller wineries require bookings for tastings, but we were able to walk in anywhere we visited without a reservation.We spent 3 full days and visited 4 wineries each day. Our visits were all over the map from sparking to still wines and big commercial vineyards to much smaller mom and pop establishments.

One of the things we also noted were tasting prices. Napa is MUCH more expensive than Sonoma and it has a commercial vibe while Sonoma feels more casual. If you’re on a budget, focus your time on Sonoma because you can absolutely do a fabulous wine tasting trip on a budget! We went to a handful of places that were only $15 a tasting in Sonoma.

PRO TIP: Many people don’t know that it is actually quite socially appropriate to share a tasting in Napa or Sonoma. People do it all the time and we chose to do that ourselves since we were driving a rental car. Highly recommend this route as they often give you large pours and extra tastings. There was more than enough to go around between the two of us!

SO, we started off Friday evening with dinner at dear friend’s house who lives in San Francisco and then we drove to Napa Saturday morning. And stopped for bagels obviously. It was a super dreary day on the Golden Gate Bridge, but turned to sunny beautifulness once we entered Napa Valley! Here’s where we went day 1, what we tasted, and our favorites from the day!  We started out at DOMAINE CARNEROS where they specializes in champagne and pinot noir grapes….basically my two favorite things nbd. We chose to do the Grande Tasting which showcased some of their reserve wines. Michael loved the Brut and I loved the Blanc de Blancs, but I was truly a big fan of both. They were really lovely. The Famous Gate Pinot Noir was really nice as well (far right). This winery was in our top 5 favorites of the 14 places we tasted at and I would highly recommend going here. Also, THOSE VIEWS. TASTING $40 ($30 options).

From Domaine Carneros, we headed to Mustard’s for some lunch. They had a little bit of a wait though, so we hopped over next-door to CONSENTINO WINERY AND TASTING ROOM for a tasting. We were not the hugest fans of CONSENTINO. We enjoyed The Poet, but the rest didn’t do a whole not for us. However, we had a fabulous experience and really enjoyed the gentleman who was giving us our tasting. He was so interesting to talk to, very knowledgable about his wines, and made the whole time extremely fun! TASTING: $30 Finally some lunch. I had the Asian Chicken Salad and Michael had their burger. Both were really good, but we both said it was a bit expensive for our taste! Right near all the wineries, it was $20 for a salad, but it was a very good salad!  From there we went to SILVER OAK. My dad gave us their 2014 Cab for Michael’s birthday this year and we really enjoyed it so it was exciting go there in person. Another top 5 as their wines are truly lovely, but their bottles are fairly expensive (around $100) so not a wine we would probably ever buy for ourselves. They are lovely, but not super practical for the two of us as we wouldn’t spend the money on ourselves when we can find something we equally enjoy for a much more reasonable price tag. In regards to their tasting, their pours were quite generous and we tasted some additional wines on the house! TASTING: $30Our final stop of the day was at MONDAVI. We did their pinot noir tasting and really enjoyed the first one. If you go, order a glass of that! It had a really great cherry essence. It was really fun to visit another big winery, but it was a tad too commercial for us. The grounds were GORGEOUS THOUGH.

We were too full from cheese and breadsticks and a 3pm lunch so we headed on over to Downtown Napa for a dinner of Ben and Jerry’s while we walked around. Not too shabby 🙂That’s a wrap of day 1! See you guys tomorrow for Day 2 of our Napa adventures!

SHIRT | SKIRT | SHOES (old, but almost identical here and here)