Posts Tagged ‘Food and Drink’

Travel Diary: Devon Valley Hotel in Cape Winelands, South Africa

I traveled to Cape Winelands in 2010 before heading to the World Cup in other parts of South Africa. It was one of those bucket list trips, but I never posted the photos or wrote what made it so memorable. Growing up in Houston I always knew that my life would be very different than other members of my family. I know some of them could really care less about travel. They love hearing about my adventures, but that is for Ju-Ju. All they need is my itinerary and to know I made it safely back home.

I always knew I wanted a life full of passport stamps, adventur, and joie de vivre. It wasn’t until my late 20s when I decided this thinking was okay and that they didn’t have to “get me.” If you never thought of going to South Africa I beg you to reconsider. It’s worth every single cent you have to save to get there. I suggest visiting the Cape Winelands if you are a fan of the grape. There are numerous wineries for afternoons of sipping, pondering, and discovering something different.

The Devon Valley Hotel was our base and the perfect place to recover from a very long day of travel. If you know me you know two things: (1) I hate to fly (ironic, I know) and (2) I don’t sleep on planes. So you can imagine how exhausted I was landing in Africa. After navigating driving on the opposite side of the highway, shifting gears on the opposite side of the car, and deciding it was better that The Don drive we arrived to mountains, fresh air, and luxury. The hotel has its very own winery next door. SylvanVale Vineyards is part of the hotel. It was great sampling their many wines on our trip. I just wish I could find them here in the states. Delicious.

Happy Travel Tuesday!

Devon Valley

Devon Vally Hotel

Devon Valley Bath

SylvanVale Vineyards

SylvanVale Wine Menu

Wine tasting at SylvanVale

SylvanVale Vineyards Fave

We visited was Peter Falke Wines. The view and the atmosphere was simple stunning and the wine was equally as divine.

{Peter Falke Wines}

Peter Falke Wines 1

Peter Falke Wines 4

Peter Falke Wines 5

Peter Falke Wines 2

Peter Falke Wines 7

 {Wine + contemplation = a great life!}

Peter Falke Wines 3

Feasting Pretty: Buvette Gastrothèque in New York City

The beauty of Twitter is when one breakfast appointment cancels another one takes its place. I went to New York last week and a planned breakfast meeting was canceled the night before. I put on Twitter if anyone wanted to have breakfast with me. One of my followers messaged and the next thing I know we were discussing beauty, life, and business at the cutest little restaurant called Buvette. Of course I’m obsessed with the restaurant now especially since I discovered they have a location in Paris. I am so happy Tamera messaged me and we met. Look for a very cute colloboration coming in the fall. Beauty + brains = business.

Buvette  Gastrothèque
42 Grove St, New York, NY 10014

Buvette 4

{Very strong and good coffee}

Buvette 2

Buvette 1

{Croque Madame. Amazing}

Buvette 3



A Celebration of Wine & Family: Q&A With Francis Ford Coppola

FFC Winery


To know me is to know I love wine. I believe wine is a part of a meal and life is too short to drink bad wine. I recently spent an evening sipping some of my favorite wines from the Francis Ford Coppola Winery before a Q&A with the genius Mr. Coppola. Francis Ford Coppola is the Academy Award winning director of The Godfather movie series, as well as, the director of other great movies such as Patton, Apocalypse Now, and Peggy Sue Got Married just to name a few.

What I enjoyed the most about the Q&A was the story of how much family and wine mean to him. The wines are not just products of someone who loves the grape, but a man who loves his children and grandchildren. The essence of Mr. Coppola is family first. He spoke of family and his legacy, what wine means to him, and how his film work and wine go hand in hand. The man writes songs for his grandchildren – and he puts it to music and sings for them. Amazing.

His journey from filmmaker to wine maker to hotelier has always fascinated me. You didn’t realize he was into hotels? Check out Blancaneaux Lodge and book your trip. The history behind the brand, how he almost lost everything, his perseverance and hard work has paid off tremendously.

The next time I pick up a bottle of Coppola Claret (my favorite of his red wines) I will do a toast to Mr. Coppola – not only for his wine, but for his inspiration. I am so excited to visit his vineyard when I’m in Napa Valley next month.

It’s time for a Francis Ford Coppola Movie Marathon with a variety of his wines. Stay tuned.

{Mr. Coppola kept everyone mesmerized.}

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 {One of my favorite Chardonnay’s. It doesn’t have a lot of oak which most California Chardonnays seem to have.}


{This new Pinot Grigio is everything. It’s perfect for spring and summer. I see many sips of this in my future while sitting on my patio.}







{3.14.14} Le Weekend

3.14.14. Le Weekend.jpg

I hope your week has gone well. I always look forward to Friday. It’s usually my time to drink wine and watch documentaries on Netflix. It’s day two of bathroom renovation craziness. Seriously, this is not my thing. Thank God my husband has more patience in this area and has been dealing with the contractors. I want to deal with what happens after everything is done. I only want to deal with the decor of the bathroom – new mirrors, lights, and storage for all my beauty products. You know the important stuff. Have a beauty-full weekend dear hearts.

Here are my loves for the week.

Liquid Coconut Oil. I am a huge fan of coconut oil. I cook with it, use it on my hair, and body. But if you ever used coconut oil you know you have to melt it. I found liquid coconut oil and this is perfect in all the areas I need it. I have been mixing my own bath oils and excited to add this to the bath time mix.

George Washington’s Peach Brandy. I live rather close to Mount Vernon. Many people don’t realize that it is also a distillery. They make a fine whiskey, but it’s been over 200 years since the property made peach brandy. It goes on sale April 1 and is limited edition.

The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson. I loved Holly’s first book Manny and have been reading this book since I received an advanced copy this week. The book comes out April 1. If you are looking for a book to start your spring reading journey – grab yourself a copy and imagine it’s summer. Holly’s books take you away.

Travel Diary: Desert Renewal in Mesa, Arizona – Day 5

Mesa Clouds and Mountains

My last day in Mesa was definitely too short. It started with a lovely breakfast at The Cutting Board Bakery and Café. I’m a fan of anything and all things local so having organic and locally sourced ingredients was a fitting ending to a great trip. It was also nice to have fresh juice and glad that I wasn’t the one behind the juicer like I normally am.

After my healthy breakfast it was time to get in one more workout. Our “getting it in” workout was a Karve class at K Pilates. Karve? Karve is mixture of yoga, pilates, and ballet barre. It’s a total body workout and after tucking, stretching, and lengthening I felt like a new one.

Phoenix and Mesa are a great adventure and wellness destination. I can’t wait to return. I’m in talks with a girlfriend to try and head back in October.







Travel Diary: Desert Renewal in Mesa, Arizona – Day 4

Desert Renewal Travel Diary.

One of the best things about being outdoors and having fun is the opportunity to get in some for of exercise. I didn’t realize I liked hiking until I moved to the DC area, but now I love it. On day 4 of the desert renewal we spent fun outside. We started the day with outside yoga at Usury Mountain Regional Park. The park has many trails that I can’t wait to go back and explore. I definitely want to take the full moon hike. I can only imagine how beautiful that hike would be. If mountain biking is your thing, the park has many trails for your wheel exploration.

{Yoga instructor Misty and yours truly. How gorgeous is Usury Park}

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Visit Mesa Yoga in the Desert PRN

When in Bloom Photo at Usery Mountain

After our yoga session we headed to Saguaro Lake. I always knew deep down inside that I loved water and I’m a surfer girl. The new and fun activity with surfing is stand up paddle boarding. I was so happy to meet the owners of No Snow Stand Up Paddle.

Stand up paddle boarding - Copy


After our paddleboard adventures and lunch we ventured to Agritopia. Agritopia is a community that combines city and country life. The community also has a farm, coffee shop, CSA, and farm stand. This is my ideal community – part city and part farm. The idea of being an urban farm girl is high on my radar.







Travel Diary: Desert Renewal in Mesa, Arizona – Day 3

Mesa Arizona Superstition Mountains

We started day 3 of our desert renewal headed to Mesa, Arizona. Mesa is suburb of Phoenix, but to visitors the city isn’t as known as say Scottsdale. That is changing. Mesa is full of fun things to do such as hiking and biking tours, yoga at Usury park, birding tours, canyon lake cruises, and apache trail rides. Day 3 was full of good food and another spa adventure. (I can never get enough of a spa). I really believe the best way to get to know a city is through its food.

Breakfast was at Vincent’s Market Bistro which is host a widely popular Saturday Farmer’s Market. Chef Vincent Guerithault is Phoenix’s French rockstar chef. He’s been holding court for over 20 years and combines his classic French-style cooking with Arizona’s Southwestern cuisine. He’s a James Beard award-winning chef. which in my opinion makes him a big food deal. I had an omelet which I forgot to take a photo before I devoured it. After living in Paris I am still convinced the French make the best omelets.


After a hearty breakfast it was time for some pampering at Fuchsia Day Spa. Fuchsia is such a lovely day spa that I really want to go back and have another service. The staff was pleasant and my mssage was incredible. I can never have too many massages. The spa’s boutique had these divine handmade candles and I left with a few goodies including this body oil.

{I love all the girly-ness of the spa}



You would think after such a lovely breakfast we wouldn’t be ready for lunch. But when lunch is at Joyride Taco House it wasn’t hard to get my appetite ready again. Au contraire. At the mention of tacos I was ready to eat again. It must be the Texan in me, because I really miss good tacos, Tex-Mex, and overall Southwest food. I was able to get my fix while sipping on multiple aqua frescas.

{Joyride Taco House Menu}



{Mexican Corn – I can never get enough}


After finishing another great lunch we headed to our new hotel – Hilton Phoenix/Mesa for regroup, unwind, and catch up on emails. It was only a few hours before we were headed out again to Queen Creek Olive Mill for their Italian inspired dinner. Yes, in Mesa Queen Creek makes olive oil. And it’s good. I was a little surprised by the quality of the olive oil. I’m such an olive oil snob because I use a separate olive for cooking and one for salads. Olive oil can be tasted in the same way wine can and it has just as many complexities.

Queen Creek also uses their olive oil in a multitude of beauty products. It didn’t take much for all of girls to start ooh-ing, aww-ing, swabbing, and slathering the products on our skin. I left with their lotion oil stick in lavender rose. Ladies, please order this product. It’s worth every cent and hearing the story and background from Brenda made me really want to support this local and smart brand.

It was another great day in the desert.





{Everything’s better with bacon, right?}


{Dinner under stars and lights}



Disclosure: I was a guest of Visit Mesa Tourism. All opinions are my own.

Feasting Pretty: Smirnoff Ice Peach Bellini

Smirnoff Peach Bellini

I was introduced to the Smrirnoff Ice drinks a few years ago by my cousin. My father-in-law started bringing them to all our parties and I became a fan. I like to change up my beverage selections at our parties and make it easy so I’m not in the kitchen mixing drinks all day. I can’t wait to introduces Peach Bellinis next month to the family. It’s not too sweet, but has the right amount of peach flavor that leaves you wanting more. Make sure you have a designated driver around because these can sneak up on you.

I plan on adding the Peach Bellini to my beach cooler when we hit Ocean City in July.

“Summertime and the living is easy!” ~ George Gershwin

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