48 hours in Napa

Almost two years living in San Francisco and I still feel so lucky to call this place home. On top of that, I sometimes forget how many amazing places are just a short drive away, including Napa.

When I think of Napa, I instantly think of all the wineries. But, there is so much more to Napa, specifically downtown. Luckily, I have a friend that lives there and have frequented some of the establishments downtown before, but there are so many places I didn’t even know about.

I recently took a weekend trip up to Napa with my girl Aimee, to explore some Downtown Napa restaurants, bars, and more.

We basically ate our way around Napa, making time for one winery and a balloon ride (which was probably the best decision I’ve made in a while).

We arrived Friday night around 8pm and decided to grab a drink at Cadet before our slumber party at Vista Collina. After ordering a glass of sparkling Gamay and sparkling Riesling with a grilled cheese on the side, I knew we’d come back to Cadet again that weekend. And we did ;)

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Saturday morning started bright and early at ABC for breakfast, where we shared the challah french toast with blackberry jam. Still dreaming about this dish tbh. Also, if you order the hot chocolate, say yes to the whipped cream on top.

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Next up was Butter Cream Bakery & Diner, where we got a box of donuts to go. Also, their website describes themselves as “A classic diner bustling with energy and conversation which for 70 years has been serving locals a hearty meal and a cup of sass.” A cup of sass? They are speaking my love language.

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After donuts, we hit up Oxbow Market, because you can’t visit Napa without making a stop here. We grabbed a drink at Ritual Coffee, picked up some Vinho Verde from Oxbow Wine Merchant, purchased some bitters from Napa Valley Distillery and wandered around Napa Bookmine.

We took a break in our Downtown Napa day and headed to Ashes & Diamonds for a quick tasting before lunch.

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Then we headed back to Oxbow for some much needed and anticipated Gott’s. Gott’s holds a special place in my heart. Their impossible burger is impossible not to get, and it is the only thing I’ve ordered since I’ve lived in San Francisco and had it for the first time a year & a half ago. HIGHLY RECOMMEND OMG.

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After lunch, we headed back to the hotel to change. We then made a bunch of stops to round off our last evening in Napa. First up was Outland, where we tasted Poe & Forlorn Hope wines.

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Next, we made our way over to Compline for a glass of bubbly + two orders of duck fat fries. Yes, two orders. Then we headed over to Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar to watch the sunset and then back to Cadet for our final drink for the night.

On our last morning, we got up bright and early at 5:30am to go on a balloon ride with Napa Valley Drifters. Both Aimee and I were a little nervous, since we both aren’t super in love with heights. We met our driver Ro, who was also the pilot and absolutely amazing, and made our way to the balloon site.

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We waited until we were called over, and once that happened, we had to hurry and climb in. Then, the balloon just started climbing and we took off. Aimee and I were definitely “white knuckling” as they call it, and holding on for dear life. Once we got high enough, everything started feeling better. It was absolutely breathtaking and calming to be that high in the air, at that time of the day. It was like no one else even existed. Real talk.

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We were in the air for a good hour before making our descent. The descent was definitely a little sketchy, since Ro had to constantly lower the balloon, but also raise it if needed, as he found the right wind currents to bring us to a certain location. We were trying to land in an open field where people walk their dogs but couldn’t make it. We then tried for a little park in a neighborhood but couldn’t make that either, which led us to land in a cul-de-sac in a neighborhood! It was kind of scary, but we made it to tell the tale without running into a telephone poll. With all the being said, it was one of the best experiences and I would do it again in a heartbeat. No joke.

Marin Headlands Day Hike

Let me preface by saying this is my favorite Bay Area hike SO FAR. I plan to go on many more adventures, but this hike is worth documenting, noting and sharing. 

Depending on your schedule and if you are driving or taking the bus sort of dictates where you start. Ideally, I'd recommend starting at Battery Spencer, making your way down to Kirby Cove and back up to Conzelman Road all the way to Point Bonita Lighthouse (4.4 miles according to Google). Now the only reason I recommend doing it this way is because Point Bonita Lighthouse doesn't open until 12:30pm. Keep in mind that PBL is only open Saturday, Sunday and Monday 12:30-3:30pm. I like to start my hikes early, so it made sense for me to start at Battery Spencer/Kirby Cove and end at PBL. Now, if you have already seen PBL and don't need to go inside the gate/see it again or you are a late hiker, starting at PBL and ending at Battery Spencer is an option, which was the route we took when doing this hike for the first time. Once you see PBL, you don't really need to see it again do you? There are already tons of other beautiful sights around you that the idea of trying to make it to PBL with a 3-hour window in mind is crazy annoying.

I'm going to share my route of starting at Kirby Cove and ending at PBL. Please feel free to do the complete opposite ;)

1. Start at Battery Spencer to get some pictures of the GGB, of course.  

Battery Spencer view. 

Battery Spencer view. 

2. From Battery Spencer, head down to Kirby Cove to get some more pictures of the GGB. You might also be lucky enough to swing on the infamous swing if it hasn't been cut down already. 

On the way to Kirby Cove. 

On the way to Kirby Cove. 

Hikers Club. 

Hikers Club. 

Kirby Cove. 

Kirby Cove. 

GGB at Kirby Cove. 

GGB at Kirby Cove. 

Kirby Cove. No swing so this tree will do. 

Kirby Cove. No swing so this tree will do. 

3. Make sure to check out your surroundings before leaving each spot; you never know what you'll find. Most places I visit that I have seen on IG aren't what I've expected or are too crowded with people that have the same idea in mind. I'm usually more impressed with other sights found off the beaten path.

4. Head back up to Conzelman Road and take it all the way until you hit Field Road. Make sure to stop along the way to take in those views! For instance, Headlands Lookout is one of my favorite spots to stop and snap a few pictures. Take a left at Field Road until you come to PBL. PBL is free and like I mentioned, only open Saturday, Sunday and Monday 12:30-3:30. We ended up going on Memorial Day which was probably the worst idea ever. There were a lot of people there and we had to wait in line to cross the bridge over to the lighthouse. Once we crossed, there really wasn't much space and we were out of there within 30 minutes. My favorite part about PBL was capturing it from afar, but it was nice to experience and see IRL.

Headlands Lookout.

Headlands Lookout.

Battery Rathbone McIndoe. 

Battery Rathbone McIndoe. 

Entrance to PBL.

Entrance to PBL.

Across the bridge at PBL in one of the buildings. 

Across the bridge at PBL in one of the buildings. 

Point Bonita Lighthouse 

Point Bonita Lighthouse 

5. Wander off. Head back up Field Road and take a left at Mendell Road to check out Battery Mendell. This is where I really enjoyed our hike. It was much more quiet and there were so many flowers blooming everywhere. Battery Mendell was pretty neat too (try prying one of the doors open, maybe you'll get lucky). Heading back up Field Road or Conzelman Road, you'll find two more Batteries: Battery Wallace and Battery Wallace 2. If you have time there are tons more to explore that I am leaving out, but that's for another time. For instance: Rodeo Beach, Tennessee Valley Beach, Muir Beach, Stinson Beach. 

Battery Mendell. 

Battery Mendell. 

Blending in.

Blending in.

California summer. 

California summer. 

We hiked down Rodeo Lagoon Vista Point for this shot. 

We hiked down Rodeo Lagoon Vista Point for this shot. 

Tyler looking fly. 

Tyler looking fly. 

An old Mercedes on Conzelman Road. 

An old Mercedes on Conzelman Road. 

6. Head up the trail to catch the 76x back to the city. You deserve a warm bath and a full glass of wine after the day you just had, so go make it happen. 

Until next time, 

Halee

Life Update + Our New Abode

It's been awhile hasn't it?! Life has definitely been a little crazy for us these last two months with new jobs, a new apartment and generally everything new around us! We've been trying to navigate our way through SF, especially our new 'hood, to become familiar with our surroundings.

Paul and I finally have our favorite grocery stores we like to go to; Trader Joe's for weekend trips when we need a lot of things, Le Beau Market for quality and specialty items (fruit and veggies etc.), Belcampo for meat, and Flatiron for wine. We have SO many good restaurants around us, but we try to cook at home at least 4 times a week, leaving us a few times to eat out (can you blame us?)

My job was located in the Mission, but we just recently moved offices closer to our apartment. Before, I was leaving our apartment at 7:45 a.m. every morning to get to work by 9 a.m. I would get off at 5:30 p.m and wouldn't get home until 6:30 p.m. My commute included about nearly an hour of walking every day and an hour of bus every day (2 hours total commute everyday). Now, it should only take me 20 minutes to walk to work, which really excites me! It takes Paul about 20-30 minutes to walk to work as well, so hopefully him and I have extraordinary calves, butts, and/or abs in the near future. 

Paul and I just recently joined a co-ed soccer team too! We have already played a couple of games, and let me tell you, the weather for soccer here compared to Texas is really incomparable. I do not miss that Texas heat (but I do miss other things including queso, bbq, and a handful of people). 

We have been living in our apartment for a month now (crazy!) and we finally feel like it has come together. We still need a few things, and still want to update some pieces of furniture in the future, but overall it feels like home. Here are some photos of our place for your viewing pleasure - I will also link some of our items so you know where we purchased them. 

Zhori Bar Cart from  Wayfair  

Zhori Bar Cart from Wayfair 

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Pillow from Etsy 

Pillow from Etsy 

Zona 75" Etagere Bookcase from  Wayfair

Zona 75" Etagere Bookcase from Wayfair

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Ottis Lianne Red Area Rug from  Wayfair  

Ottis Lianne Red Area Rug from Wayfair 

Freestanding Wood Coat Stand from  Wayfair

Freestanding Wood Coat Stand from Wayfair

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Banner from  Matriarch Handmade

Banner from Matriarch Handmade

Pascal Dining Chair from  Wayfair

Pascal Dining Chair from Wayfair

Regina in stuffed animal form

Regina in stuffed animal form

All the closet space!

All the closet space!

Ilkley map from  Uncommon Objects

Ilkley map from Uncommon Objects

Hallway views

Hallway views

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Table from  Stuff

Table from Stuff

Apron from  Hedley and Bennett
Life currently

Life currently

Golden Gate to the left (even though I didn't get it in the picture)

Golden Gate to the left (even though I didn't get it in the picture)

Coit Tower to the right

Coit Tower to the right

And that's a wrap! Thanks for reading and scrolling through. I can't tell you what my next post will be, but it will have something to do with baking, traveling, or more updates on life in SF.

-Halee 

San Fran, Here We Come!

Some people might say we're crazy or stupid or irrational, but I say to hell with them. Sometimes you have to do what feels right. Sometimes you have to take a risk and put all of your cards on the table. Sometimes you have to do what most people won't.

It all started when we visited SF a month ago. I knew I would love the city but I wasn't sure how Paul would feel. One of the first things he said to me when we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, pulled into Enterprise, dropped the car off, and waited for an uber was, "I love it here already". I couldn't stop ooing and aaing at every building we passed and every street we went by. We dropped our bags off, spoke with who we were staying with, and off we went to explore. 

Roaming the streets of San Francisco made me feel a certain way I can't quite describe, and that I haven't felt since England. There is definitely a unique energy exuding from San Francisco that pulls you in and I'm under the impression its some kind of spell. Either way, I was hooked and so was Paul. After day one we started doing research to see if this was even possible. "Are we being mental?" we asked ourselves. After little thought and enough research to put our minds at ease, we decided after day 1, we should move there. 

We spent the rest of our trip seeing as much as we could see, checking out different areas, even making a trip to Oakland (since that was a possible option for us at first). 

Once we got home the first thing we did was call our Realtor. He came around the very next day and we told him the news. We asked him what we needed to do to put the house on the market and how long he projected it would take. Fast forward almost 4 weeks and here we are. 

Why are we doing this you ask? Why would we sell our 4 bedroom home with loads of space do you ask? Why would we move to the most expensive city in the US you ask? Why would you not take your time and think about all of this you ask?

Well, for starters, we are doing this because...why not? Why should we stay in San Antonio for the rest of our lives? I honestly have never done anything this crazy (since moving to England), but I can't even begin to explain the feeling I get from it all. I would rather risk everything we have to move to SF and try, rather than staying in SA and always wondering and wishing and dreaming.

Another exciting part about this big move is that we both have never lived in a new city together. We lived in England (where Paul is from) for the first 2 years of our marriage and we have lived in SA for the last 2 years (where I'm from). I also plan to try and focus on social media as a career and do baking as a hobby or side gig, which will be another first for me. But we shall see!

There is so much to say about this whole situation and I have so much on my mind, but I think the message is don't settle. After visiting and seeing San Francisco, I knew if we stayed in San Antonio it would be because we were scared, comfortable, and playing it safe. There is nothing wrong with doing so, but for us, this seems well worth the risk. 

I hope some of you follow our journey and see what happens to us in San Francisco as we work, eat, sleep, travel, explore, and play. I hope I have also shared a little insight for any of those who are wanting to do the same, or have thought about moving somewhere but uncertain about the risks. 

As for the future? We are unsure of it at the moment. San Francisco could be a temporary location for us or it could be more permanent. We've talked about possibly moving back to England after this move, or somewhere in Europe-who knows! But that's life right? Just go with it, follow your heart, trust your instinct and your partner, have fun, take risks, and be brave. 

Signing out,

Halee

Napa + Muir Woods

Our week long vacation started in Napa. We arrived in SF at about 8:15am, went to pick up our car, and on to Napa we went! Our first stop was Bouchon for some pastries where I finally met up with the infamous Emma K. Morris

After Bouchon, we went to The French Laundry (where we would be having dinner that night!), to check out the garden onsite. They try to use as much as they can from their garden in dishes, and at times they are using 95% of what they grow. 

We then had to hurry off to make our first tour & tasting at Schramsberg, which has been served at official state functions by every U.S. President since 1972. Bravo! 

After Schramsberg, we had to rush back to check into our Airbnb, get ready, and head over to The French Laundry for our reservation. I will posting a different blog post talking about my experience at TFL compared to my experience at Saison in San Francisco (both 3 Michelin stars). Stay tuned for that!

The next day we had two more tour & tastings booked, but we had to get one more meal in with Emma, before setting off. We met at this amazing local place called Alexis Baking Company or "ABC". I ordered the chilaquiles, which was amazing and such a large portion! Their iced chai was pretty spot on as well. We still had a bit of time before needing to leave, so we walked over to Oxbow Market after breakfast. 

Oh yeah! Before we went to Oxbow, Emma took us to this authentic Italian shop that only does to-go orders and the man that runs it is 95 years old and still working there (pictured talking to Emma). He created "malfatti" years ago, which is a cheese, spinach, and herb dumpling. Wish we had the time to stay and eat some of his delicious food, but off to Oxbow we went. 

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Malfatti

Malfatti

Next, we were on our way to Mayacamas Vineyards for our first tour/tasting of the day. When we arrived, I seriously and literally was in awe. The property was so beautiful and private. We were introduced to Cassandra, who gave us the tour, and who happens to be the daughter of McPherson Wine. Once we knew who she was and her being from Texas and all, we instantly bonded with her. The 3 of us hopped on an ATV and Cassandra showed us the land. She mentioned that Mayacamas owns roughly 475 acres and 50 or so is used for wine. The tour was breathtaking. We got to see so many different areas where they are making wine, learn about the struggles they have gone through and are still going through, and see so much beauty and nature. This was by far my favorite experience in Napa. 

Next stop, Cade! This place was stunning as well. The view was unbelievable and the tour in their "cave" was pretty impressive. We really did our homework when we picked these places. Both vineyards were relatively quiet and away from all the packed touristy vineyards like Cakebread and Lewis.   

After Cade, we headed to Gott's Roadside before making our way to Mill Valley for the night. Now this burger was off the chain. I will forever put a fried egg on my burger if I have the opportunity. Oh, and I can't forget about that Horchata milkshake! 

Okay, treehouse here we come!

This house FTW!

This house FTW!

We woke up bright and early after a quiet night in the woods. We grabbed some coffee for the road and headed to the Muir Woods. We were told to get there before 8am because it starts to get busy after that. 

Hello Muir Woods!

After ending our 2-3 hour hike, we noticed tour bus after tour bus as we headed to the parking lot. We really did go at the right time!

And that's a wrap for Napa + Muir Woods! Next blog post will be all about San Francisco, and the one to follow will be my experience at TFL vs. Saison! Stay tuned guys, and thanks for reading :)

 

-Halee