Thursday, July 29, 2010

Back From the Desert

This is just a little drive-by blogging tonight, but I cannot let the week end without mentioning that the one and only Alli Lamp is back in the States for a few weeks before heading back to Kuwait for another six month tour of duty.

Lori, Katy, Alli, and I had dinner at Maggiano's on Tuesday night.  It was so good to get together!

And in other news, McAlister's now has a Tea Tumbler Club (that's what's called, right?). For $6, you can buy a plastic tea tumbler and have it refilled for the rest of 2010 for just $.99.  Being an accountant, I did a little break-even analysis and realized that it would only take about seven trips to recoup that investment, which I can probably accomplish before the end of August.

Yeah, I know...I could never be one of Barker's Beauties.  Look at that feature hand...terrible!  You're not supposed to pretend shoot what you're showcasing, I'm pretty sure.


Monday, July 26, 2010

They Say It's My Birthday...

That's right, Bonnie, you are two years old today!

Your best friend came over today...

And you thoroughly enjoyed mauling her...

And then you enjoyed a Peanut Butter Puppy Popper...

And the evening is still young.

Happy Birthday, Puppa!  What are you gonna do with a two year old?


Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Joyous Affair: The Thomas Nuptials

Becca and Eric were married yesterday and the event mirrored the two lovely people behind it - fun, lively, thoughtful, enthusiastic.  Becca triumphantly said her wedding vows with a hearty "I will!" to a tickled church.  Everything about the day was SO Becca.  She put so much thought and care into the smallest detail, handmaking everything from the favor truffles, little girl dresses, and bridesmaids' gifts.  The only thing she didn't do was clear the tables and scrape the food off the plates. 

A traditional first dance turns into a choreographed routine to Hall and Oates' "You Make My Dreams"

Her tossing bouquet split into three smaller bouquets so more girls could have a chance.

The venue - the Allen County Courthouse - was historic and unique

I could go on, but now it's time for the many traditional pictures with friends, since it's usually pretty hard to catch the bride at a wedding.

I love these!!

Uh, this one is hilarious because we all look like huge maniacs. I couldn't help but plaster it on the internet. (If anyone in this picture is opposed please leave me a threatening comment and I'll quickly remove it.)

 There's the bride!  We pulled her away from square dancing for a quick pic.  Don't mind the supermodel on the end - she makes us sick with jealousy, too. 


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Very Hawkshaw Weekend

Mom and Dad picked me up right after work on Friday on their way to Effingham for a full weekend of family activities.  First on the agenda - hearing the Naked Sissies play at The Orchard Inn.  Mom's cousin is the drummer in this local central Illinois band and she and Lori had wanted to see them for awhile.  I of course tagged along because I hate to miss any action.

The band was great and there were plenty of old friends there for my parents to talk to.  The highlight for me was the Creeper McCreeperson in the tight orange tank top, athletic shorts, and 1994 Air Jordan high-tops dancing by himself the whole time.  It was all fun and games until he started pulling his pants down...

I got a little video of him, as did about five other people that night.  I'm not much of a people watcher, but I'm pretty sure he wanted to be watched.  It's not the best video but gives you a slight indication of his sweet moves.  Don't worry, his pants are still on...

After watching it again, I think my favorite part is the little "dance-through" around 0:08.

Disclaimer for the rest of the post: Sorry about the pictures.  They're all from my phone and aren't very good.

On Saturday we loaded up again and headed south to Carbondale to hang out at Lori's and do the Southern Illinois Wine Trail.  We got a pretty late start and only ended up doing two wineries, but that was one more than I made it through last time.  Success!

Bandit, the Newfoundland, was so hot that he just had to come inside.  After being shooed out a few times, the manager finally gave up and let him stay inside.  We were glad. 

Deunkel Dog - the official beer of the SIU Salukis

After the wineries closed, we had to switch gears to Hawkshaw Reunion Prep mode. The girls went to the grocery store for all the fixin's to make baked beans, pasta salad, oatmeal cookies, and, well, watermelon for the reunion on Sunday.

New Illinois state law - all fruit larger than your head needs to wear a safety restraint.  Didn't you hear?

Ma-Ma tells us the story of how the Hankins came to be the "Hawkshaw" tribe.  It's something that Grandpa Hankins told all the kids when they were little, and it stuck.   

Any Hawkshaws out there have a group picture from Sunday?  Princess Running Turtle Lori?  Please send it my way if you do! 


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Power of Two

During our stay in Sonoma, we met two very fascinating people one morning at breakfast at The Gables.  They were a husband and wife from the Bay Area spending the weekend in wine country.  Isa Stenzel Byrnes is a double lung transplant recipient and the feature of the documentary, The Power of Two, which is scheduled to debut at Sundance in January.  She and her identical twin sister were born with cystic fibrosis.  Both women received lung transplants and are doing well.  Their story is truly miraculous.  Isa and Andrew are runners, so between the CF connection and running, we had a lot to talk about and sat at breakfast a very long time with them. 

I promised a shout-out on our blog, and I'm sorry that it's so late!  I look forward to watching the progress of your documentary as you finish filming and hope to see you at The Relay next April - we're trying to assemble a team!  Best wishes to you both!


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

3 Years

2007 - a good year.

Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband, best friend, and perfect match.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wine Country!

Brent and I headed to the Napa and Sonoma Valleys the weekend after the U.S. Open to experience wine country for the first time, and hopefully not the last.  We loved our two days there.  I put together a list of the wineries we visited each day in case you happen to plan your own trip to wine country in the future.  There are hundreds of wineries and it's hard to fit more than five in each day.  We used a lot of recommendations from a friend's trip and were really pleased with most of the places we visited.

Saturday - Napa Valley
Hess Collection - Our first stop was one of the best.  The tasting was $10 and there was a free 45 minute tour.  The owner's personal art collection (all three floors of it) is free to view.

Ward the Tour Guide explains how Hess uses sustainable farming.

Next stop - Mumm on Silverado Trail.  We did the Reserve tasting on the Oak Terrace because you could lounge under the oak trees.  A little more expensive than the regular tasting, but the wine was fantastic and the lounging not so bad, either.

Our next stop after lunch was the Franciscan.  We didn't like this one as much, but it could have just been us.
We finished at Beringer, but didn't taste there.  It was pretty commercial, and one that I would probably pass on for this reason.  They were having a special Father's Day NASCAR event and it was crowded, so we grabbed a free snow cone and got out of there.

Napa lessons learned: if/when we go again, we're going to rent bicycles and ride up the Silverado Trail.  There are lots of wineries off this road and it would be a quick way to try a lot of different wines.  You'll need the bicycles for this same reason. 

We stayed in a B&B in Santa Rosa in Sonoma Valley called The Gables Wine Country Inn.  It's a historic landmark and owners George and Pam live in the basement.  We HIGHLY recommend staying here.  Because it's in Sonoma and not Napa, the rooms were much more reasonable and we felt like we were out of the hustle and bustle of Napa.  Every detail was perfect - homemade cookies available all day, wine and cheese from 5:00 - 7:00, and a four-course breakfast in the morning that was truly fabulous.  The clean and adorable rooms had Aveda products and crisp white linens.  George and Pam made themselves available the entire day to answer questions, call in dinner reservations, and give directions.  Their dinner recommendations were wonderful...these people know food.  They are my kind of people.



On Sunday we stayed in Sonoma Valley.  Our awesome B&B gave us a card that was good for two complimentary tastings at 30 different wineries, so you better believe we used it! 

Our first stop - St. Francis.  Fun tasting experience, great wine.  We ordered a half case (and are anxiously awaiting its arrival...any day now...)

Next stop - Chateau St. Jean.  Tasty Chardonnay!

Then we drove a bit to get to Benziger and do the tour and tasting.  They took us through the vineyards in a tractor and into the caves.  Many wineries have paid millions to blast caves into the mountains to store their wines.  Caves, although costly, are desirable because it always stays 55 degrees, the perfect temperature to store wine.  I'm told that if you dig three feet underground anywhere on earth, the temperature will always be 55 degrees.  Don't quote me on that...just something that Steve at Benziger told us. 

Our last stop of the day was to Lancaster Estate.  Our only set appointment was at this winery...and we actually got to taste in their caves.  They had all our glasses set up already when we entered the cave, and our tasting expert (is that the appropriate title for this person?) sat across from us.  I felt like we were in the Boardroom.  He didn't get my joke...too East Coast for him, probably.

The wine bottles behind the table are just mounted into aluminum poles set into the concrete.  Simple, but so cool.

When we got ready to pay for our tour, our guy asked if we had a Visa Signature card.  Why yes, yes we did!  "Oh, it's all free then."  What??!  Apparently the Sonoma wineries have a deal with Visa - if you have a Visa Signature card, make sure you mention it. 

Our flight didn't leave until late Monday night, so we were able to see a few more things in wine country and also visit Point Reyes National Sea Shore before driving back to San Francisco.  I also got to eat my garlic fries at Taylor's Automatic Refresher (now called Gott's) in the town of Napa, which was one of the only things on my Must-Do list for the trip.  Sad, I know.  Those fries were so good that I'll admit to being pathetic on the internet!

Broken camera...bummer.  We have no idea how it happened, but every picture now has this line in it.  Blech.