KOER 2017











Great night!


Anniversary Trip – Part 4 – Wine Country

Friends suggested a place for breakfast so we mapped out our walk and headed that way. 2.5 mile later (all uphill practically) we arrived to find a long line wrapped around the building. So we walked back to the hotel (at least blessedly downhill this time!) and had a light breakfast — and a lot of ice water.

We drove across the bridge for some some sight seeing.

We then wiggled around on Highway 101. Okay, people, that road is nuts. And Eric enjoyed playing chased by spies maybe a TAD too much for my stomach. 😉

We decided to pull into Muir Beach to see the ocean. And again, just breathtaking. Beaches are a TAD bit different in this part of the country.

Then it was time to head on to wine country.

This time we were staying at The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa. Neat place with individual cottages.

After being asked if we were hunting Pokemon (uh… no dude) we got a recommendation for lunch at a local shop. We had sandwiches by the pool before heading to meet Liz and Jason at V. Sattui. That place is seriously cool.

We all loaded up in Jason’s car and headed to Sterling Vineyards. This place had a …. drumroll… gondola! So I did get my gondola ride after all. This one was a self guided tour. Very modern feeling. Really enjoyed the laid back pace.


Then, just down the road we did a guided tour of Castello di Amorosa. What a place!

Now QUITE hungry — we headed back to Sonoma from Napa for dinner at one of Liz’s favorite places: Della Santinas Trattoria. It did not disappoint. Though I should have taken Liz’s suggestion and gotten the handmade gnocchi. YUM.


And at this point — we went to hotel and promptly collapsed, honestly.

Good food, Good wine, Good friends… Good day.

In the morning we headed to Sacremento to fly back home. An amazing whirlwind surprise VERY romantic trip. I’m one lucky woman.

Anniversary Trip – Part 3 – San Francisco

2016-11-05_09-50-53_764.jpegThe morning dawned QUITE cold. 18 degrees cold.

Cold enough that we dashed down to Starbucks (thanks for the gift card, Liz!) and got my beloved Extra Hot White Peppermint Mocha — which has enough sugar to last humanity two lifetimes. But it’s oh so good. I’ll have another one in a year.

We waved goodbye to Raley’s (a nod to my job) and headed to San Fransisco!


Being a small town Southern Girl — dude, that traffic!

We finally checked into our hotel – San Francisco Marriott Union Square before heading out on totally unplanned adventures.

What a busy town! The one thing I wish we’d done: The Cable Car Museum As we rode the cable cars to and from the hotel I was trying to figure out how they worked. Eric found a pamphlet for the museum once we collapsed back in our room before dinner. It looked pretty cool!

After talking to the concierge we decided on John’s Grill (home of The Maltese Falcon) for our anniversary dinner. Excellent meal. And the walk was nice as well.

Enjoyed the city — and we both agreed, maybe we are small town people after all. Tomorrow: wine country!

Anniversary Trip – Part 2 – Lake Tahoe


Keep in mind I hadn’t flown since Tommy was a wee baby. Fights used to make me super anxious. I was with Eric going on a surprise trip to California… I was too excited to be nervous.

W e flew from Pensacola to Atlanta. Once we settled down to wait for our flight to California, Eric filled me in on the details of our whirlwind trip:


We’d fly into Sacremento and meet Liz for lunch. Then we’d be driving to Lake Tahoe for a two night stay. We’d then drive to San Francisco for one night. Then Sonoma for one night – where Liz and Jason planned to meet us to tour some of their favorite wineries. Then back to Sacramento to fly out.

Seriously, Eric put some major planning into this trip. When I asked where when and why — he just smiled and said while it was our fifth anniversary, it should have been our twentieth. He wanted to do it up big.

I’d say he succeeded! The flight in offered breathtaking scenery.


When we landed in California – giddy and excited doesn’t even touch how I felt. Eric told me we’d be renting a car and driving to Liz’s to meet her. I texted her to let her know we’d landed and we’d be seeing her soon.

Ha! She tricked us both and was actually at the airport waiting for us. I was so surprised I didn’t get a single pic of us together that day. We went to her house for lunch and she gave us a lovely packed basket for the days ahead. It was truly perfect!


After some recommendations from places to eat we got on the road. It was so neat to see such different landscape along the way. I totally southern girl got excited to see snow as we climbed the mountain. Luckily the switchbacks didn’t get me carsick. I just stared in shock when we crested the ridge to begin the descent to Lake Tahoe. It was truly breathtaking. They are not the best photos but I think shows how excited I was snapping pics like a crazed tourist. It was awesome.

We stayed at Marriott’s Timber Lodge in South Lake Tahoe. Very cool place.


There is a gondola that runs up the mountain. We were there during ‘off season’ as it wasn’t quite ski season yet. Unluckily, that meant the gondola was having maintenance done and we couldn’t’ ride it. Boo.

The next morning Eric found me the all important pancakes I’d requested:


And then we spent about 5 hours slowly driving around Lake Tahoe. We had no where to be. No plans. We’d pull over whenever anything looked awesome. So that meant a LOT of pulling over. 🙂

I think those pictures speak for themselves. Lake Tahoe is an amazing place. You should go. Seriously.

Later that night we enjoyed a live band by the fire with some whiskey to help ward off the chill. It didn’t suck.


Next day?  We were heading to San Fransisco!

The epic surprise anniversary trip

So, a few months before our 5th Anniversary Eric started telling me: I have something planned for us. I’d smile and nod and think he was so sweet.

A bit later he told me it was a surprise trip. And he needed me to make sure kids were taken care of and I was off work. Okay… intrigued, I admit.( And also super excited. I’ve always thought surprise vacations were pretty darn romantic, honestly.)

About 6 weeks out I told Eric: “Honey, you gotta help me: I don’t know what to pack!?” He begrudgingly gave me a range of temperatures and activities, but only if I promised not to start trying to figure out where we were going. Oh… it was so tempting to look. But I knew he’s worked hard on something, so I promised.

In the end I literally bought an entire fall wardrobe. And then said: okay, I’m ready! By this time family and friends were all asking: where are you going? I could honestly say I had no idea. None. I loved it. I think it was driving some of my friends a tad crazy, though. Ha!

The day of the trip he woke me up VERY early.


I climbed in the car quite certain we were heading for the mountains in GA or TN. Maybe a tad more north. Eric promised to tell me when we stopped by coffee in Pensacola. Since Starbucks was closed he headed to a 24 hour place — of sorts.

He told me to get out the map of Alabama and when I unfolded it — told me we were not going anywhere on there. Well, good, since we were already in Florida! A minute or two later he told me to reach under my car seat. And I pulled out a wooden map. (By the way 5th anniversary is wood for those of you keeping score at home.)


He then asked me to pick where I thought we were going. I think I tried Tennessee first. Then maybe Colorado. He kept saying… nope. And finally I picked up California:


Holy crud he was taking me to California?!! I looked up and realized we were pulling into the airport.

I don’t even remember what I said at that point but I know I babbled for a while and then said something about Liz, my best girlfriend in the world — and he says hmmmmmmm, when did you last hear from Liz? Glance at my phone and — text from Liz. And yeh, I’m trying not to cry. He’s taking me to California and even worked in a visit with Liz.

So we get on the plane and begin the surprise cross country journey.

Yeh, I’m pretty darn lucky.

Oh yeh, and I did this….


We had a heck of a Christmas with family and friends. Jimmy, Tiffany and the sweet baby C were here for the holidays. And we enjoyed it. A lot. And celebrated — with a lot of food. And I do mean — a lot. After the holidays (and literally the worse photo of me I’ve seen in my whole life) I knew I wanted a detox from all the rich foods to get back on track. And after spending some time reading decided I wanted to do Whole30.

If you are unfamiliar with Whole30 check it out here


If you think you want to give it a try: I’d strongly suggest reading the book to get a good grasp on what you’ll be doing. And heads up: it’s not an easy one to follow at first!


But at the same time – it wasn’t that hard. I like to cook. And I love fresh foods. I just had to learn to not have any crutch processed foods. Trust me: if it’s processed it has sugar. Somewhere. Lurking.

You also cannot have any artificial sweeteners etc. I used to take my coffee with the crazy sweet flavored creamers. And a LOT of it. By my 30th day? I was drinking coffee black without a grimace. But, truthfully, I was missing my cream in my coffee. Day 31 I started putting a splash of heavy cream in my coffee with a bit of sugar. That’s it. And it’s MORE than sweet enough for me now.

Tori and Eric joined me on the journey. With Eric traveling more these days he couldn’t stay AS strict – but he did his best. Tori had some cheat days – but she tried to stay with the basic program. And yes, if you are a Whole30 veteran, we know you don’t get cheat days on Whole30. But they TRIED at least. So there.

What I learned from Whole30. I enjoy, for the most part, eating like that. I learned that some foods really do make my joints hurt. A make them hurt quite a bit.

In the end I lost 16 pounds. And learned a lot about my relationship with food. I’m planning to do another round after Mardi Gras. For now: wine is back on the table. Along with a mixed drink now and again. Cream in my coffee. Mostly avoiding bread and pastas. Feeling good.

And pretty proud I made it the Whole 30 days, honestly.  To my horror: here’s a before and after shot to show the difference 30 days can make.