Eleven Winery

Here in the Rocky Mountain region, we are all a buzz with the USA Pro Challenge.  We were thrilled to host for the event for the second year in a row and welcomed over 100 cyclists to climb 683 grueling miles and visit 12 of some of our most beautiful Colorado cities and towns. Of course, I use “we” loosely as I honestly don’t follow the sport myself.  But I have made it a habit to watch the five minute special on the days events following the ten o’clock news.  Does that count for anything?  And congratulations to Christian Vande Velde for being the overall winner!  USA…USA…USA!!!

To pay a little tribute, I thought now was as a good as time as any to share with you our experience with Eleven Winery.

Why you ask?  Eleven Winery was started by Matt Albee, a former cyclist himself, and his wife Sarah.  Named after a bicycle racing term, The Eleven, Matt was determined to give it his all and use all eleven teeth of his smallest cog as he switched gears from cycling to wine-making.

Now while cycling isn’t my sport of choice, wine is my drink of choice. Preferably a nice blended white wine, Conundrum and Evolution being some favorites, or a Pinot Grigio.

Washington State is becoming increasingly known for its excellent wineries and their produced wines.  In fact, the small community of Bainbridge Island has eight local wineries alone.  Unfortunately, there are only select weekends that visitors are welcomed to tour the wineries themselves, but they do have tasting rooms that offer samples to passerbys.

We found ourselves in front of the Eleven Winery while walking through Poulsbo.  I particularly enjoyed the modified sign of Kids Welcome “with parents“.  [Apparently some of the local teenagers thought this was an invitation for free booze.  Sorry kids.  Go drink your parents liquor like the rest of us did.]  If this isn’t enough of a welcome for free wine,  I don’t know what is.  

Turns out, kids really are welcome.  There is a whole corner devoted to the young’ins with train tracks and other toys.  This buys parents at least a few minutes to learn about the wines and take a few sips before the kids realize there is other merchandize in the store that is more interesting that Thomas the Tank Engine.

Their white wine selections including everything from the Dolce Grigio, the sweet dessert port, to a roussanne for those who prefer a full body flavor.  Although I did sample their Pinot Grigio and enjoyed it, I fell in love with the La Donella.  This is their current blended vintage, which changes every year to select only the best of the best of grapes.  Three bottles were shipped to my house that day.  I won’t tell you how many are left…

The Banker prefers a red wine and generally sticks with a Shiraz when ordering at a restaurant.  This makes sharing a bottle of wine over dinner impossible.    You see, my palate cannot stand the dry, bitterness of red.  And yes, I have tried many to confirm this.  He too opted for the blend.  And as we presented this to my father as his birthday gift, I realized that Balance is an Oregon wine rather than a Washington wine.  Ooops.  Oh well, I’m told it’s delicious.

It is such a treat to step out of your tasting comfort zone and try something different.  Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a whole new love of your life.  In wines of course.  I don’t recommend turning to wine for love or friendship.

Thank you Eleven Winery for a nice visit.



Bella Umbrella

People who hate to be rained on, visitors of Seattle, lovers of umbrellas: do I have a store for you!  Bella Umbrella.  I recently found this lovely gem during our family vacation and fell in love.  In LOVE, I tell you.

It can be found on the corner of 1st and Pine, just a (steep) block up from the Pikes Place Market.  We initially walked passed it on our way to the Space Needle.  The Banker and I both noticed it, but forged ahead to the next landmark destination.  But neither of us could resist the temptation on the walk back and were lured into the store.

We were greeted by colorful umbrellas everywhere.  Hanging from the ceiling, perched on the floor, waiting in umbrella stands just begging to be opened.   Everywhere.  The kids quickly found their table located conveniently in the front of the store.  It’s a kids dream to be able to open every umbrella inside.  They found Disney Characters and Hello Kitty; bugs and animals, bright colors and see through umbrellas.  BabyFace selected Super Man and Marshmellow went with the adorable pink ruffle.  Very cute.

The Banker was drawn to the travel umbrella section.  He found some nifty umbrellas that folded very small, were very light and could open AND close with a push of a button in a rainbow of colors.  He ultimately selected a standard black umbrella with a handsome wooden handle (and a lifetime warranty).  The handle cuts down on the size and adds to the weight, but it definitely has the classy factor any banker would desire.

And then there was me.  I was a kid in a candy store wanting one of everything.  Adorable lace parasol?  Yes please.  Super sleek pagoda?  Of course.  Fashion umbrella with fancy floral layers and jeweled handles?  Sounds dreamy.  A ruffled umbrella in bright pink?  Absolutely!

But we had a one umbrella per person limit.  Which even that might be extreme, given our climate at home really isn’t known for rainy days.  But who cares?  This store is awesome!

What to do?  What to do?

Ah…the Spanish umbrella adorned with pale pink polka dots with a dull grey to really make them pop.  Atop is a dangerous looking walking tip.  Below is the embroidered leather curved handle with even more polka dots.  To finish the look, a large bow hangs on the side of the opened umbrella.  I’m not going to lie; it was a bit of a splurge.  But the umbrella spoke to me and said, “Take me home.”  So I did.  But to justify myself, it also has UV protection, so can totally double for a parasol.

The really cool thing?  They rent umbrella’s too!  If you’re planning an event where rain might be in the forecast and you need umbrellas to usher your guests to and fro…this is the place.  Or if you want your dutiful brides maids to carry umbrellas dripping in white feathers…this is the place.  Umbrellas really would be awesome in a group photo too.  I’m just saying.

Now, Bella Umbrella might not be the reason to travel to Seattle.  But if you’re in the area, you really should just stop in and play for a while.  Go ahead…open a few of them, inside!

I Hugged A Stranger

[NoteOkay, so some of you got a little teaser of this post on Wednesday night.  Chalk that up to a blogging foul.  I really shouldn’t blog from either the iPad or after my bedtime.  Clearly it doesn’t work too well.]

BabyFace and I were walking back to the house from the mailbox when we were flagged down by a stranger on her cell phone.  Not in a frantic way, but in a “hey, I have something to tell you” kind of way.  She quickly wrapped up her conversation as she crossed the street, clearly heading in our direction.  There was a slight hesitation before she gave us a great big smile.

“I used to live in your house.”

[Awkward moment of silence.]

I tried to recall tidbits of information from the offer process, closing and short conversations with the new neighbors.  But the evening isn’t the best time of day for my tired brain. What I do know about the previous owners is that they moved out of state and were unable to be at the closing.  So I never had the chance to meet them.


I’m holding several days worth of mail and trying to keep track of BabyFace, who is roaming around my legs.  I stretch out my arm to shake her hand.  She returns the gesture.  Then, as only two women can do, we exchange looks and hug each other.

[Kids: don’t hug strangers.]

She tells me stories about the trees the planted in the backyard.  One for each of their daughters when they were born.  And the big pine tree up front was a housing warming gift from her brother.  I get to ask her where exactly they hung the towels, given there are no towel rods or hook anywhere near the shower.  [Turns out he threw his over the shower door and she hung her’s on what I assumed was the robe hook by the toilet.]  She warns me to never use harsh cleaners on the bathroom marble because even toothpaste can eat through it and they had it replaced three times.  I finally get to ask how they decorated around the adorable white picket fence in Marshmellow’s room.  And I get to tell her that the blue room now has a surfboard theme.

“Would you like to come inside?”

[Kids: don’t invite strangers into your house.]

Her eyes follow the driveway up to the house with a look of intimidation, followed by sadness, and more hesitation.

“Maybe next time.”

They are in town to move her mother-in-law into assisted living and don’t have enough time as it is.

Then we continue talking.  She’s been working on a scrapbook of sorts to give us about the house.  She wanted to give it to us at the closing, but something came up at the last minute.  Somehow I’m telling her that I just got a Cricut.  She has one too!  In fact, she personally cut out the saying found on the family room wall: LIFE IS A JOURNEY.  She cut it out of vinyl with the special blade.  Who knew?  She gives me a few Cricut tips, which I’ve pretty much already forgotten.

We stood outside for at least twenty minutes chatting.  I love Sally.  They built this house and planned to grow old in it.  Until a job moved them to Texas.  We plan on raising our children here and growing old here.  I’m not moving to Texas.

I feel better knowing how much love was in this house before us.  I hope she has some comfort knowing that love continues to be here and that I appreciate all of her attention to detail.  I could see us being really great friends.  Too bad she lives in Texas.

*Sally is a fictitious name.  But the story is real.


Colorado Cries

Taken from the Facebook page of “Visit Colorado”

Words cannot express the sadness that engulfs those affected by the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting.

Waking up to chaotic news reports is humbling.

Knowing that you are safe, but so many are not.  Knowing that your children are sleeping in the next room, but someones child will never return home.  Knowing that such horror is happening just down the road…my chest tightens with  the thought.

I live in Colorado where stories of this tragedy are filling the airways.  My favorite morning show dedicated their radio show to providing updates, live feeds of press conferences from the policy departments and President Obama, and thoughts to help calm our community.   They have been caution and kind and have asked people to hold onto their anger, at least for now, and allow those to grief and process in peace.  There’s plenty of time for opinions later.

And it sounds like it’s the topic of conversation across the country.  We are getting calls from loved ones across the county to check in on us.  I’ve even had a business associate call to see how close I am to the Century 16 Movie Theater.

The entire things makes me sick.  And sad.  And mad.  It makes me question what kind of person is able to imagine such disgusting harm to others and then actually act on those thoughts.  The planning involved.    The booby trapping of his apartment with the intent to cause more harm to more people.


May we all take a moment to pray.  Pray for those who lost their lives and their loved ones left grieving.  Pray for those who witnessed the violence and will be left physically and emotionally scarred.  Pray for the first responders who rushed into action.  And to pray for the community startled by the images.

I am left feeling helpless and hopeless, wanting to do something.  This afternoon I will be going to Bonfils to donate blood.  To save a life.  To do something.


I’m Not In Charge of That – A Life Rule

In the spirit of the true randomness that will become of this blog, I thought I would post on a random life rule.  Not one of those mush life rules…like “Do unto others as you would have them unto you”.  [That’s the Golden Rule, silly.]  But more of a little life mantra to get you through your day.  Or that one craptastic moment in your day.

Perhaps I will never build a true readership if I can’t pick a topic and go with it.  But I’m just not that kind of gal.  I’m scatterbrained.  Sometimes I can be witty and thoughtful…other times I can be just plain crazy.  Okay, I’m always a little crazy.  But crazy can be entertaining, right?

If you think I should never, ever write something like this again, please let me know.  I don’t have to word dump everything on that comes in and out of my head.  I mean I don’t, because that might scare you off forever.  My goal is to only make you wonder.  [enter winky face here]

So here I go…I’m Not In Charge of That – A Life Rule

After my dad had his “episode”, my parents took a class on how to manage stress.  Wait, that makes it sound like he went crazy.  Rewind–after my dad had a heart attack, my parents took a class on how to manage stress.  [That’s better.]  One of the things that they took away was the saying “I’m not in charge of that.”

As in, I’m not in charge of the fact that BillyBob in cubicle 342B can’t get his work done and shows up in my cubicle to help finish it up at 4:57pm.  I’m sure the point is you shouldn’t take on the stress and worry over things you can’t control anyway.

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I try to remember I’m NOT in charge of THAT.

But it doesn’t always work out so well for me.

Sometimes I take control of things that I wasn’t involved with in the first place.  I’ve been told that I’m an overachiever like that.  I’m sure they really thinking I’m a control-freak and are just too nice to say that to my face. But immediately start bad mouthing me when I walk away.  I get it.  I really am a control-freak.  And an overachiever.  And a perfectionist.  Now try telling me I’m not in charge of that.

Sometimes I go bat-sh!t-crazy over the weather.  No, seriously.  It was when planning one of my daughter’s birthday parties when I realized I might actually be crazy.  My first clue should have been the fact that I invited her entire preschool class to the outdoor party.  All 25 of them!  And then the forecast showed rain.  And it did rain.  And it was cold.  And I freaked out.  It was super craptastic.  [The party was moved to the garage and we all survived.]

But sometimes I am able to step back and say, “I”m not in charge of that.”  And things still work out okay.  Even if it’s not the way I would have done it.  Or it’s not the exact outcome I wanted.

Sometimes it’s worth it to walk away and say I’m Not In Charge of That.

You should try it out.