Woke up to another bluebird day and off to Alexander Valley - we corkscrewed around the mountain - it was a day to remember...buds on the vines and flowers in bloom everywhere!  An hour later we pulled up into the NEW Coppola winery (old Chateau Soverain Winery)  Some have nicknamed it Disney Land in Sonoma County...You walk up the grand stairs and come up to all the pools, cabanas, bocce ball courts, the stage area for bands, a tiki bar!  It really is a beautiful sight and one like no other winery.  You can rent a cabana and stay all day and play in the sun, drink wine and bring your kids (is this a joke?)  No its Coppola.  
  After a great tour and tasting (and a new cool hat purchase) we had an amazing lunch outside overlooking the vineyards. Restaurants name is Rustic - and has many of Coppolas favorite foods from around the globe.  And some tasty and creative ones at that!   Kila and I shared a porterhouse for 2 ( I am not kidding) with roasted veggies and anchovies to start.  We had their reserve Viognier (which I am in love with) and bottle after bottle of Cinema (dry creek zinfandel and Alexander valley Cabernet blend) What a grand lunch! Service was excellent!  www.franciscoppolawinery.com 
  We left full and happy....then off to the most romantic, gorgeous winery in Sonoma County to stay at..Jordan Winery.  We checked into our suites overlooking the barrel room (the best rooms in Wine Country- chateau feel, fireplace, amazing linens and toiletries and a great big bathtub) and off to our private tour and tasting.  The Grounds here are stellar, the wines are tight, well balanced and delicious.  The winery itself is full of surprises with the "secret room" and the food pairings were well thought out.  
Off to the Healdsburg for a tasty dinner at Scopa - www.scopahealdsburg.com and it just so happened it was "winemaker Wednesday" there.  And Ben Cane, the winemaker from Twomey Cellars/Silver Oak was there!!  We had sauvignon blanc and pinot noir comparing tasting! Awesome....Food was great- we had fresh burrata and several other local and fresh items...then back to the winery for a bottle of Jordan cabernet, a fire, a bath and great conversation.  In the morning I took an awakening run in the vineyards as it was 34 degrees! I came back to french press coffee, fresh squeezed juice and fresh bakery out of the oven.  I feel blessed every time  I have the privelidge of staying here.  Those are the moments when you sit back, relax, and thank God for such a wonderful life.  www.jordanwinery.com 
   After a relaxing morning we headed into Healdsburg for some shopping, then a stop on our way south to J winery in Russian River Valley.  We both love bubbles - so the perfect impromptu stop.  We had some tasty pinot gris, chardonnay, pinot noir (robert thomas) and then J brut rose and 2005 vintage brut.  Michael was our host and was fun and knowledgeable.  We will be back for a Bubble room food and wine tasting soon!  www.jwine.com 
  Down to Berkely we go- for an exquisite dinner at the acclaimed Chez Panisse.  Oh Alice Waters always thrills with the local and tasty food.  We had a gorgeous chateauneuf du pape blanc and lioco chardonnay- the service was excellent and the day goes down in the books as one I would like to replay! www.chezpanisse.com 
The next morning food coma started to sink in and my pants were tight fitting- but- 2 days left.  I went to the airport to pick up my lovely cousin and we headed north back to Napa.  It was her first trip to Wine Country - and its the best to see it all unfold in the eyes of a newbie.  We started with a perfect lunch at Bouchon  www.bouchonbistro.com Thomas Keller is known for his perfect roasted chicken so I gave in and had it with a glass of schramsberg brut rose...Then a dessert that was so over the top I actually felt my pants stretching to the limit! Chocolate at its best.
I drove her around to some sights in the Valley and then we hit some shops in St Helena.  We were staying at Black Stallion Winery- so we checked into the Stone Paddock house - with hot tub, fire pit, pool table and wine cellar included (YES) and were off to Dinner with my favorite winery owner John Buehler - www.buehlervineyards.com to Terra www.terrarestaurant.com in St Helena.  He and his daughter were lovely dinner companions and laughter was everywhere! Dinner was delicious, light and local.
Came back to the winery, sat in the hot tub with a full moon shining down, vineyards hugging us all around and a smooth Napa Valley estate cabernet to end a perfect day...
    Last day of sin was a great one.  Started the day at Raymond Winery - One of the most interesting wineries I have ever been to.  Different is an understatement.  And so lovely and cutting edge. And educational.  www.raymondvineyards.com They have the walking tour about bio-dynamics and organics.  They have the "sniffing" wall.  They have the "velvet" room.  The VIP tasting room in the Tank room with Baccarat crystal and scantily clad women with wings.  The place is amazing to see in person.  Go.
Off to a quick lunch at the place everyone loves - Taylors Refreshers - www.gotts.com Tuna Tacos, fries and a shake later- we were off to Anderson Valley!  A twisty, turny drive up north where the terrain gets rocky and greener.  We made it to Goldeneye Winery and checked into the One room Apple Dryer to spend the night overlooking the vineyards.  We had a delicious pinot noir comparison tasting- and even got to try the Ten Degrees Pinot noir (OMG SO GOOD) www.goldeneyewinery.com 

I took my cousin to The Gentle Giant State Park to walk amongst the Redwoods and then to Roederer Estate Winery to taste bubbles! www.roedererestate.com Awesome day that lead to a sweeter night.  We watched the sunset over the vineyards, then off to Table 128 for a prix fixe menu  www.boonvillehotel.com  
We had steamed mussels with grilled bread
Seared asparagus with soft boiled egg, proscuitto and frisee
and then bacon wrapped chicken with saffron rice and braised greens - 
dessert was my fav! strawberry shortcake with strawberries from the back garden!
Met a Wisconsin wine guy as well - small world!

Off to bed and the next morning we started our drive back to San Fran so I could fly home - Happy easter- 
Another Amazing trip to California in the books
It started off on the wrong foot with dinner in San Francisco at Maven - www.maven-sf.com We thought that 2 somms opening a restaurant seemed like it would be a good thing.  The service was awful (they werent even nice- so condescending, the wine list was a joke and the food was worse.  We had calamari (greasy and chewy) scallop crudo (couldnt even taste the scallop-so overpowered) savory tart (do they use salt?) duck sliders (found all the salt!) and charcuterie - which was good.  The trip down to try something new with so many other amazing places just steps away, was a pure disappointment...I vowed that Monday morning I was going to wake up and try to forget that nightmare of a place.  I NEVER talk about a restaurant like this, NEVER! But I will say in this instance-its warranted.

Monday morning!!! - On to the start of the best week ever...My favorite gal Kila and I were off to wine country.  First stop was Black Stallion winery- a glass of Rose in hand by 1030 is a great Monday morning! www.blackstallionwinery.com 
We had a lovely tour and tasting and then a lunch in the cellar! Delicious organic chicken and veggies.
Off to Stags' Leap Winery www.stagsleap.com to check in my clients in the winery house...A lovely historical tour and what a great afternoon to drink some petite sirah! The Gypsy Camp and the NE Cede Malis were the hits of the day.  Such a peaceful place- off the sliverado trail about a mile back - no cars, no sounds, no people....just silence and snakes. :)
Then a trip up Howell Mountain to see the most handsome man in Napa Valley....
Mr John Buehler..www.buehlervineyards.com 
THis winery isnt the easiest to find and its a windy drive, not for the weakest of stomachs....His estate is gorgeous with views that CANNOT be beat.  He and his family are among some of the nicest people I have met, the wines are delicious and a true Napa Valley Value! Down the mountain to dinner in St Helena... The Market was busy for a Monday night with Locals....I had a hearty NY Strip that was cooked perfectly- and dont forget their famous butterscotch pudding...It reminds me of my grandmas. www.marketsthelena.com 
The Inn at Southbridge - www.southbridgenapavalley.com was a last minute decision and a good one. located In st helena, right next to Merryvale winery and La Tra Vigne.  A great health club, great breakfast and the rooms were nice.  
Off to historical Louis Martini Winery...www.louismartini.com 
We toured, tasted, had the most delicious lunch of flank steak, roasted chicken and greens.  And that was in the cellar with opera silently serenading us in the background.  Gallo always goes over the top and their details are what make their hospitality stand out.  We also had the chance to blend our own Meritage (blend of noble grapes) and then learn how to bottle and cork and label!  What a great seminar we had and we left Louis Martini, our own bottles in hand, secretly all thinking we had made the best blend.. Some of the great wines we tried there were the new Alexander Valley Cabernet and the acclaimed Monte Rosso Cabernet Sauv.  Awesome time.  
From Cabernet to Pinot noir 
So off to Carneros for a lovely Tasting at Etude Winery www.etudewines.com 
Their pinot blanc was one of the best I've had from Cali and the deer camp pinot noir was masculine and earthy and delicious!  We stopped at Oxbow Market for a watermelon aqua fresca (my favorite non alcoholic drink ever - refreshing after a day of wine.
We stopped at some dear friends house In Napa and we shared a beautiful bottle of Aussie wine from her latest trip and then off to dinner at Alex. www.alexitalianrestaurant.com 
A new restaurant hitting the Napa Valley - and I liked it.  It had a great feel- a roaring fireplace, nice lighting.  The food was fresh and very delicious - started with burrata with arugula and mushrooms and then rabbit sugo that was hearty yet light!  The service was good and overall Im glad to have gone here.  And yes we were in bed by 945pm...what a long day of food and wine..

to be continued.....5 days left to write about 

I love Cabernet sauvignon
I love Faust cabernet sauvignon A LOT!
I've had an amazing week of purity....I decided to do a liver cleanse after my 4 weeks of gluttonous activities....
I took core restore for 7 days.
I fasted for the first 48 hours with only the supplements and then the "AWFUL SHAKE OF GRIT".
It has bentonite in it - its gritty and smells completely awful - the first time I had to drink it I thought i was going to projectile vomit all over the kitchen - by the 7th day,i was slamming it with almost no problems...so if you can get past the first day, you will be alright (fingers crossed)
THen day 3-7 comes.  You may only eat organic foods, which is easy for me because I try to do that now.  I had chicken breasts most of the time.  I roasted cauliflower, carrots, peppers, brussels, squash, onions...Also had spinach or arugula salads with apples or pears and almonds.  It does take time....but its worth it.  
NO caffeine - I have officially stopped drinking caffeineted coffee (i never thought this would happen)
NO alchohol - I was scared but had no problems at all
NO eggs or dairy - You can have goat cheese though and I had coconut milk or almond milk- seriously same thing
NO peanuts
NO gluten
 No seafood - that was difficult - no sushi :(
NO GUM - that was the worst part I think......I have also officially stopped chewing sugar free gum - i watched a documentary on how it eats your brain - Im done.
This sounds hard - and for most people it may be....I don't eat pre-packaged foods, fast food or anything out of a box so for me it was easy. You just have to pre plan - like bake 6 chicken breasts right away so you have things available to put on a salad or eat on the go.  I roasted a ton of veggies and through them on the salad.  Also had organic apples and almonds in the car to eat just in case.  

I lost 6 pounds without trying.
I feel better -more alert and on task.
I have slept better which is why i did this in the first place.
Im more aware of what goes into my mouth and how it affects me.
I recommend it.
Back to 03 Faust cab
Its gorgeous - I may have quit chewing gum and drinking caffeinated coffee but I am NOT quitting drinking wine.  I went 7 days - now its time for a treat and this is it.

Its seductive and silky....it lingers forever and has blackberry fruit flavors with gripping but loose tannins.  It fills your mouth with flavor.  It promises a good night
thank you faust for a nice sunday evening

                                                                         This was my girl 

Her name was Prophet - but we called her Fatty most times.  
I know it sounds a little mean, but she liked that name.  That name was never used when we yelled at her, like when you were a kid and your parents used your first and middle name to yell at you, not your "pet name".  Mine was Tinker by the way.  
She was in love with food, maybe that was one of our common grounds.  

She was a great dane and I remember the first day I met her.  
I had returned home early from the Islands off the coast of Venezuela, and I was going to surprise my partner at 3 am that I was home early.  I pulled in the driveway and snuck in the door...Seconds later I hear the loudest and scariest bark you have ever heard.  I instantly started backing up towards the door but she got to me first.  I was frozen and couldn't even yell for help.  She was scary as hell and was pissed and I had no idea why she was there.  He ran down and got her to calm down.  He introduced me to our new dog Prophet that he gotten at the Madison Rescue Foundation.  
Well Hello Prophet - Can you please go back to were you came from? 
That was my first thought.  It was the biggest dog I had ever seen and she definitely weighed more than me.  A week later I was sprawled on the floor with her relaxing and talking to her like she was my best girlfriend. And as the months rolled by, she was loved by everyone.  Seriously everyone. My friends and I would give her pedicures and paint her toenails bright red.  She sat as still as a mannequin so I wouldn't smudge. She loved getting brushed and laying in the sun.
She was also a lap dog, or thought she was - All 160 lbs of her.  Her lanky legs would try to get up and sit by you.
She loved to get her butt rubbed and she would almost knock you over as she leaned into you as you pet her. 
I took her camping and she spooned me at night and kept me warm.  For real, she would lay next to you and put her paw over your shoulder.  SO precious.
She would ride around in my Volkswagen Beetle and people would point and laugh - she would sit proud in the backseat, her head touching the ceiling. She always sat pretty.  Which I think most dog owners know what that means because I cant explain it.  
She also did not run, she pranced.  We had another dane who ran as fast as the wind, but she pranced around, her toes pointing upward...quite a sight.
I would get up early in morning and walk around the yard with my coffee and she would be following me around, by my side, even if she was tired.  When she was naughty (usually food related) and I would yell at her, she would put her head down, disappointed in herself and clearly sad she had disappointed me.  
Her bark was scary and intimidating, but the second you touched her, she was a lover and once she knew your smell, she wouldn't stop trying to get you to pet her and love her.
Her one true love was her daddy and master.  I truly believe she was completely in love with him.  She would stare at him all the time, and then he would look at her and she would look away like "oh my god he looked at me"-  like a school girl.  She would have walked across hot coals if he was on the other side. 
Instead of walking beside him, like she did with me, she would walk 2 steps behind him and follow him.  Sometimes if he would stop too fast, her nose would go ripe up his hinder.  Drove him crazy. 
He said he picked her out of 15 or more danes.  She was sitting pretty and looking up at him with her warming brown eyes and he new instantly that she was the one, and I think that love started for her at that exact moment - that she was finally saved and going home..

All the memories of her- being a protector, prancing around the yard, cuddling with Dickie the kitty, following our every move, being a friend when I needed it, sighing when it was needed, eating my scraps, driving me nuts sometimes, her constant mission to find food, and her instant excitement to my excitement was priceless.  She was a part of me, my memories and my life.  She isn't forgotten.  She was the best animal I have ever met,  Dickie the kitty a close second, and the word "best" just doesn't seem good enough.  

I was blessed to have had her in my life and she showed me that there is such a thing as unconditional love.

Its true - it does exist.

ps - RIP KBF - thinking of you today and praying for peace - love you  

Here they are - my grandparents. 
I went to church this morning with them- we sang songs and then it came to the prayer of the day and the pastor wanted everyone to pray for them and their 62 years together.  My grandpa clearly has a hearing problem....and throughout church doesn't really pay attention - but he refuses to get hearing aids. 
Anyway, he hears the pastor say his name and his head shoots up and he starts looking up at the front of the church - then he looks at me and gram and his hands go up like "what?" as everyone has their heads bowed.  I shoo him and put my folded hands up so he prays.  
After church everyone keeps coming up and saying Congratulations- he pulls me aside and says 
"whats going on - why is everyone saying that?"
I say - "Its your anniversary"
He says - "its my birthday?"
"no, your anniversary - 62 years"
he says "52 years?"
I shoo him again and he shakes hands and we leave.
We went back to their house and were visiting with other family members.  
They really are something special.
In 5 minutes they can be yelling at each other about his sugar - loving eating habits, she could be giving him a loving touch on his hands, she calls him a Rooshin or Mikey, he tells her she didn't make him breakfast and shes a bad wifey, she giggles like a school girl and he says "what am I going to do with you woman".
They are so clearly in love still- after all of these years.  
Its passionate, comfortable and amazing. I look up to them and their love.  
I love that my grandma bought him that tie because it matched her shirt and she loves flowers.  
I love that he wore that tie. 
 I love that almost all of my family made it to celebrate with broasted chicken with all the fixins.  
I love that my grandpa slammed 2 huge glasses of brandy and my gram sipped on Barefoot White Zinfandel.  

I love that halfway through lunch, my grandpa was worried that he didn't have enough beer at the house or brandy for that matter and wondered if we could make a beer run on the way home.
I love that my grams slip showed today.
I loved watching him, watching her,  at all times - not only making sure she was alright but because it comforted him and reminded him he was were he was supposed to be.  He has Alzheimers- beginning of it, and its hard for him to always know whats going on when there is so many people around- and just the sight of her comforts him.  
I love the smile she gives him - she looks at him like she is so proud that he is her husband- and she honestly giggles like a school girl around him still... 
Lastly I love that they are mine - they are my blood, they are my soul, they are MY grandparents. Just knowing that I have a part of them in me makes me happy to know I could be even a little like them throughout my life.  I am lucky.....every. single. day. that they are here.

Happy 62 years to you gram and grampa 
This is your new blog post. Click here and start typing, or drag in elements from the top bar.
Traveling is my favorite thing - before pork, wine and everything in between.

I wish I was doing it everyday, all the time.  And Alone is the best! (most times)
I love airports, flying, and having the ability to pack the "right" things and all in just a carry on bag - even if its for 2 weeks.  
I love that they shove me in first class even if I bought a coach seat. (Elite membership thank you)
I love the kettle chips they give me with the california cabernet they serve.  Its a perfect pairing....I think anyway.  
I listen to opera when I take off and land (yes illegally)- THAIS is my usual opera- 
I love the smell of the rental car when I pick it up.
I love finding my channel on the radio before I put the car in drive.
I love my ipad for navigation.
I love pulling up to the place that I am going to stay and them opening the car door and saying -
 "Good afternoon Mrs. Mihna....Welcome to Palmetto Bluff".
I love they hand me some sweet tea.
They take care of the bags and my car without question.
I walk inside and smell lillies - they are everywhere and wafting towards me in the light breeze.  
The main building is stoic and magnificent.  
I am in love with the old oaks, the blooming magnolia trees and the perfect weather.
A gentleman drives me to my cottage and makes light conversation while telling me about the property.
At the cottage he shows me my cute bike I will have during my stay - then walks me in - the gas lamp light glowing proudly.
my luggage is there already - He shows me how to work the speakers through out the cottage, the steam room, the lights and then leaves.
It was gorgeous, off the cover of Luxury Magazine.  I walked out on the screened in porch overlooking the water, and there is 2 huge blooming Mary Jane Magnolias right outside my cottage.  
There was a bottle of welcome wine - and then another that a friend had placed in my room for my birthday - Palmettos Own Pinot NOir from HIrsch Vineyards.  
I jumped on the bike and took my own tour of the property.  I felt like I was on the tv set of Desperate Housewives little city - everything perfect. 
During my stay I had a 90 minute massage with the doors open to the smell of fresh cut grass and a soft breeze.
I went kayaking and saw 3 alligators - one was over 10 feet long.
I worked out in their gleaming facility
Swam in their refreshing pool
Biked to the tree house a couple miles away, (could live in it) and layed in a hammock watching birds.
There is a golf course, an equestrian center where you can ride or take lessons and 18000 other acres to explore
Tennis, Croquet and Bocce ball.  This is the real deal too- pristine courts. 
Did you want to take a cruise around the area? - they have complimentary mercedes benz for you to drive around in style. 
I took 4 baths
Steamed the wine out of my pours in the morning in my own private eucalyptus steam shower.
I sat on the porch in the afternoon and read with a glass of wine
I made smores at night out by the fire - they had all the needed ingredients ready- even long wood sticks.
The house was stocked full of included goodies - water, wine, local beverage, local pecans, cookies and coffee.
I had dinner twice at The River Restaurant. The food was excellent - Some high notes were the Charcuterie platter of heaven.  My first EVER Duck HAM....the rabbit rillette was perfectly made.  THe Duck entree was cooked precisely the way I wanted it - like the chef had read my mind when I walked in the door.
 The Sommelier (Todd)  and I gossiped, and he poured some fantastic wines for me. 
Had breakfast in Buffalos Bakery every morning - great coffee.  

They also have fly fishing, biking, hiking, paddle boarding, spin and yoga, charter fishing, sunset cruises, night kayak tours and on and on and on.
They have everything you need to never leave - like a luxury bubble in the middle of "low-country".

Now - to the service.  I have been blessed to have gone to places that are amazing and have stellar service.  Palmetto Bluff was THE best place.  I suppose it IS an Auberge Resort.  
 I smelled the lillies when I walked in for dinner and commented to the hostess how I loved them.  When I returned to the cabin after dinner, there was a bouquet next to my bed.   It was my birthday during this time period and EVERY one said happy birthday and always greeted me by name. There was a bottle of wine and dessert plate in my room after dinner one night.  Every one was so accomodating and lovely.  I did not want to leave.  Ever.
Here are some people who were over the top - David, Jennifer, Steve, Duwayne, Shavon, Laura, Todd.

Inn at Palmetto Bluff was stellar in every way.  The treated me with respect and were so accommodating.  They thought of everything.  
Luxury without being flashy. 
It was Southern Charm with a little Hollywood mixed in.  
Service was outstanding without being fake.  The staff was small and always there (do some of these people ever go home?) 
When and if (im sure very rare) there was a problem they went over the top to fix it.  I had a small problem with the water heater- they handled it better then any place I have ever been to- apologetic and fixed it within minutes- then followed up with the problem and extended an "im sorry" token which they did not have to do but was very appreciative.  

 Its so lovely that I will return, probably every year for the rest of my life.  I have told many people about this place - but now am in fear everyone will start going and I won't get the dates I want.  

Please go - for a special time in your life - Its like an adult treat.
Is it expensive? Well, its not cheap.  What you get for the price - its the best value that there is in luxury.


What a birthday week I had!
Started off with a quick speeding ticket in Atlanta....on my birthday? Isnt that Illegal??? and weird enough, not the first time I have gotten a speeding ticket on my birthday!

Savannah here I come! The city of blooming Magnolias and Azaleas, vintage and antique shops and "low country" food.  Town Squares filled with majestic oak trees and the sweet smell of blooming flowers.  The real meaning to "we will leave the light on."  Those beautiful gas lamps lit every second of every day so you can always find your way home...

I stayed at the Marshall House www.marshallhouse.com which was a great B&B right in the heart of downtown.  Had dinner at a Great Local- Farm to Table restaurant - Local 11 Ten  www.local11ten.com where I encountered the best veal cheeks Ive ever had.  We started with Charles Heidsick Champagne and ended with a Copain, Alexander valley Pinot noir.  I love Alexander Valley Pinots.  feminine and masculine all at the same time. 
The service there was awful, I will admit.  Maybe an off night but the food was worth it.
Savannah was getting ready for their biggest weekend of the year - St Patricks Day - They are the #2 largest Parade and Party for St pattys in the country (I, of course, thought New Dublin was #1 but I guess its Boston haha)
35 minutes north of Savannah is a small town that houses the Best place I have ever been lucky enough to stay at - The Inn at Palmetto Bluff. www.palmettobluffresort.com
I admit, I am completely spoiled and have stayed at some of the best rated places in America- this place wasnt just a place - it was an experience and a memory that will NEVER leave my mind.  This heaven deserves its own blog and it will get it.....so look forward to it next.
I spent 3 days of my life there and to say I didnt want to leave was more than an understatement. It was my birthday and they went OVER the top every chance they could.  THEY are the people that make wishes become reality and the people that MAKE dreams come true.  It is the most romantic place I have ever been (and I was there with one of my best friends so imagine if it was with a man - I may have come home married I swear)
So - Like I said I promise a blog devoted to that place later....
Off to Charleston, South Carolina.  I had a mildly disappointing lunch at HUSK.  www.huskrestaurant.com  - the reviews were so grand that when I got there, remember by myself AND i had a reservation, the hostess gave me a bit of attitude and told me they were full and couldn't accommodate me.  Really.  I don't think so.  Seconds later a manager came over and seated me (#1 you never tell someone you cant accommodate them when they have a resie and #2 especially if they are alone because it could be a food writer)  So she started off the meal on a bad note - but the lush details in the restaurant settled me back down.  The drapes were gorgeous with lime and magenta softness. I had a glass of St Aubry Champagne and a Cheeseburger.
Then I checked in at a local b and b last minute...Elliot House Inn - www.elliothouseinn.com.  Affordable, fair and great location.
Walked around and saw the lazy water, boats and people all around....some sharing quiet moments, some on tours of this historical city and others just laying in the sun.  There was the sweet smell of crab apple trees in the air.
Walking past a church I noticed people in a line to get in.  It was right at sunset and I had time so I followed. I sat in the last pew and for 90 minutes I was elevated high into a clear mind and spirit.  "the sound of CHarleston - From Gospel To Gershwin".  A great historical music program with singing and instrumental pieces.  They closed with Amazing Grace.  A lovely, unexpected night.  Then off to dinner at FIG (Food is Good) www.eatatfig.com.  My server was Jason and I though he was amazing.  I at a 11 vegetable salad, Roasted beet salad and Some homemade veal cheek ravioli.  I started with St Aubry champagne and finished that ravioli with a glass of Super Tuscan wine from Italy (sangiovese, Cabernet)  Jason also told me about all the great hiking spots on my way to Asheville, NC.  They had a very stellar cocktail list and tons of scotch and whiskys (If I drink anything that is NOT in grape form - watch out world - so none for me)
I enjoyed the ambiance there.  Very open and spacious feeling.....and beautiful people everywhere.  

Go there......Tomorrow I will move forward with Asheville and my first near - death experience of this last 30 days...

So - I was in Florida and decided to take a trapeze course.  Why? you ask.  Because in my brain I have this little area that needs to be filled with new and exciting things.  

My body says "NO" and my brain says "YES - try it and CONQUER".

My Brain once again one, like an upcoming blog will show you- won over and this seems to be a problem.  I risk my sanity and sometimes life, to do these silly and dangerous things. But not that silly and dangerous I think.

Anyway.  It was awesome and totally fun.  And I nailed it - This was the first time I did it and my landing was a bit fumbled but all and all a performance any Gram would love. (I will let you know what she says about it next week - Im sure she will be ecstatic)

I was nervous at first but after seeing the first couple of people, including a 42 year old man with stout arms and a hairy chest, a 16 year old girl in short shorts and tape wrapped around her hands which made me think this was NOT her first time and a 26 year old tiny Asian woman who floated through the air like a perfect butterfly - I was thinking I was amazing and had nothing to worry about.

Then the 21 year old Spanish model got up there in her tight, black spandex shirt and grey leggings that made her ass look like 2 perfectly shaped pillows of perfection - Her hair flowing in the wind and as she confidently moved up the 52 steps on that ladder of scariness, she had this glow about her.  She got up there, stood proudly on this tiny piece of metal and then her perfect arms came up to tie her long flowing mane into a bun.  She looked amazing up there as I sit back and watch on the ground with my too tight belt on - tight enough that a layer of chubbiness went over my belt and I was sweating like a school boy about to pick up his prom date.....
She grabbed the bar as the hot, shirtless boy helped her (he helps everyone but this is the perfect time for him to come into the story) and shes standing there all elegant......Then She steps off the platform and we are all expecting her to float like a swan through the air and be graceful and amazing and instead

PLOP.  She falls to the net with a thud, her puny arms not able to hold her own body weight (which is 22lbs) and she lays there in embarrassment and fear......I clap at her to try to make her feel better and she didnt think that was amazing.  She is crying and then as she starts walking to the side to dismount, she gets tangled in the net and smacks her head on the side bar.....then finally trys to get down and gets her leg stuck in the wire and falls to the ground.  Its not her day.
 and I have to follow that.

My ass wasn't perfect, my hair didn't flow, I screamed obscenities, I looked like a pot bellied pig, all sweaty and gross.....But I did it and was amazing and I was the only one to have a cheering audience of 10! 

It was awesome.  I would do it again in a second.  

Walt Disney world - I've never been.  Until NOW
A free trip to Florida, a good friend, a rental car and 2 hours later.......I am pulling up to a small city.....Walt Disney World.
I have had the dream of going there my entire life....My friends all went and taunted me with dreams of the teacup ride, the Minnie mouse ears, the thoughts of life size characters hugging me, the fun food, the princesses and the feel good dancing.
As I drove in I had butterflies.
A cute 85 year old man sold us our tickets - his name was Leonard.  He gave me a button that I was a FIRST TIME VISITOR which I wore proudly.
And then we made the walk in to the MAGICAL KINGDOM - after I spent $22 dollars on sequined Minnie Mouse Ears.  I would've spent $100 on these precious ears.....
I walked in - excited like a 6 year old.  It was the perfect day out.....75 and sunny, and a bluebird day.  
It was like a tiny city - the details were amazing! After one minute of being there I saw Daisy and Pluto! Then - I still and will only believe - A parade started as I walked down the street.  That parade was for ME.  And not one other person in the world will make me believe that it wasn't.  I wept.  Cried like a baby.  It was Minnie and Mickey and everyone was singing and dancing and colors and characters and everyone was happy and smiling and singing and dancing! As was I.  It was electric and emotional and amazing and all SO HAPPY!    I bawled....and I will admit I needed to bawl.....right at that second as everyone in the whole place was happy and singing and dancing and I cried that life could be so good when sometimes it just isnt.  I cried that Minnie and Micky and Pluto and Donald and Goofy and Bambi and Marry Poppins wanted to make me and every single other person in this place to feel amazing and happy and magical.  And it was.  I danced and sang and felt like a 6 year old.  And then I saw the castle and cried harder.  And then I made my friend cry. And then I danced in the streets with the jungle book bear and sang and Mickey gave me a high five.  And by the way- this all happened within the first half an hour I was there.
Its true - they do make dreams come true - they do make memories.  They do.  

I went on its a Small World.
I climbed the Smith Family Robinson Tree House.  
I got Pics with Frontier Donald Duck
I saw kids get so excited from seeing a character they cried because they didn't want to leave them.
I had a smile on my face that didn't want to wipe off.
It was the best day I have had in months.

then off to Epcot we went to see the Flower and Garden show.  I love flowers, plants and couldn't wait to see everything.  And drink champagne while doing it.  And we did.  Mumm Cordon Rouge.  
We went through France, Germany, England, Italy, Sweden, China, Morocco, Japan, Mexico, Africa and every other country I forgot about.
We had more champagne and a crepe from France
We saw orchids in huge forest growing from the tops of trees
We went to Coral Reef Restaurant and I flirted with the scuba divers in the aquarium feeding the sharks.
Then I had pictures with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Daisy and Donald Duck.  Then I got in trouble for "goosing" Donald Duck.  (Champagne was kicking in??)
Then the Fireworks and laser show. 

I left with a smile on my face and if I would have been 6 years old - I would have left kicking and screaming.  I wanted to stay forever - I wanted to be a princess and live in the castle and live happily ever after.  It was a dream come true and Im sorry I waited to go until my 30s.  I WILL go back. I WILL.

Thank you Walt Disney for making this magical place.  Thank you for installing these memories into peoples hard drives and letting kids and adults live in a fairy tale land, if even for 1 day in their lives.