Wines to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is near! Whether you reject the day as commercialized nonsense, or take advantage of an official day to celebrate love – there’s no stopping it Valentine’s Day is upon us! The stores are full with chocolates, stuffed animals, and heart-shaped everything.

I believe, that regardless of relationship status, everyone can enjoy a special bottle of wine! So what’s the best drink to share or indulgence in alone, as a treat? I’m sharing some of my favorite sweet wines to enjoy for Valentine’s Day, no matter who you’re celebrating with.

Bubbly Pink Moscato by Barefoot

This pink moscato pick by Barefoot Wine is actually a sweet champagne, perfect for special occasions. It is very bubbly and deliciously sweet, with flavors of berries and citrus. Bonus – it comes in cute little single serving bottles, fun for sharing with Galetine’s or out on a picnic!

Sparkling Rosé by Cupcake Vineyards

Cupcake Sparkling Rosé offers delightful flavors of raspberry and strawberry with delicate floral notes. It’s not my normal indulgence, as it is an off-dry rosé, but it has an easy finish. Overall this is a fun pick for the  sort of sweet drinker.

Stella Rosso by Stella Rosa

Rosso offers the perfect bit of sweetness and is just a tad bubbly. It is a deep red, slightly sweet and smooth, with noticeable hints of berry. Check out my other favorite wines by Stella Rosa.

Red Velvet by Cupcake Vineyards

It may not be actual cake, but this red wine is just as much of an indulgence. Red Velvet wine is a silky red blend with notes of cherry, blackberry, chocolate and mocha. Its intense and has a strong finish. I prefer this wine chilled.

Presentation Counts

For that extra romantic flourish (necessary) present your wine in a decorated glass. I decked mine out with vanilla icing and festive sprinkles.  It is a mushy, over-the-top day, might as well go for it!

Whether you love or loathe the holiday, Valentine’s Day is an excuse to spread love ❤ I’m also excited to share a few handmade Valentine’s Day decoration pieces I’ve made to help celebrate. I am a true romantic, so I do love this holiday – hope you’re inspired to spread the love this year!

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Handmade Valentine’s Day Decorations

valentines day craft

Happy February🌹! Whether you love or loathe the holiday, Valentine’s Day is an excuse to spread love ❤️ I’m excited to share a few handmade Valentine’s Day decoration pieces I’ve made to help celebrate! I am a true romantic, so I do love this holiday.

I made this LOVE painted bottle decoration set with Rustoleum’s metallic spray paint in gold, stickers, and upcylced kombucha bottles.

L🌹O🌹V🌹E #loveonourminds

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This rose gold roses set is upcycled Four Roses Bourbon bottles. I love the shape, glass color and roses detail on these glass bottles! I decided to spray Rustoleum’s copper metallic spray paint just over the raised roses emblem.

This piece vintage inspired piece is made from a spaghetti sauce jar. I used Rustoleum’s metallic in copper for the base and a Martha Stewart stencil and red pearl paint.

valentines day craft

This piece is a little different, my first use of chalk paint. I used a light pink FolkArt® Home Decor™ Chalk Paint on an Orangina glass bottle. It took about 5 coats to achieve a saturated finish. I used the pearl red Martha Stewart paint to freehand a large heart. I added the Be Mine detail with a Martha Stewart stencil and a Sharpie® Oil-Based Paint Marker, which I also used to freehand the arrow detail.

valentines day craft

I found this fun heart topped mason jar at the Target Dollar Spot! I couldn’t resist it and had to have one. I choose not to paint it, but fill it with fun metallic Valentine’s themed pompoms by Recollections at Michaels.

valentines day craft

While shopping at Michaels I of course found a few more treasures like these loose hearts and love arrow sign.

valentines day craft

I updated my open display shelving with all these fun Valentine’s day inspired pieces.

valentines day decoration crafts valentines day decoration crafts valentines day decoration crafts valentines day decoration crafts

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California Road Trip

California Road Trip

I recently got to fulfill a few dreams, taking an amazing 7-day trip to California with my boyfriend! We traveled in late September adventuring through San Francisco, Big Basin Park, Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and even Yosemite. We had a few mandatory must see things on our lists, but also took advantage of unscripted exploring in the areas we visited. Here’s a quick recap of some of our favorite sights and foodie spots throughout northern California. Hope you also get the opportunity to explore the beauty of California one day soon 🙂

San Francisco

We landed early in the morning in San Francisco without much of a plan – other than tacos. Phil’s request was to have tacos, so I did some Yelp research and found Tacorea. Tacorea serves Korean bowls and Mexican classics in a teeny-tiny, retro-cool spot. We enjoyed a delicious fiesta for two of tacos and tater-tot nachos.

A fiesta for two of tacos and tater-tot nachos 🌮

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San Francisco is known for fog, but we couldn’t have had a more beautiful, clear day. (Hence all the cheesy couple pictures at the Golden Gate Bridge park.) We wandered around most of the day, stopping at the famous Ghirardelli Square and drove down Lombard Street.

After exploring, we drove out to San Jose area to stay for the night in Silicon Valley at the Cupertino Hotel. (super quality for the affordable price)

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

The next morning, after an amazing complimentary buffet breakfast at the Cupertino Hotel, and a bit of driving around the Apple campus, we drove out towards the coast to Big Basin park.  We loved the windy road drive in to the park, surrounded by gigantic trees. We were in awe, consumed by the forest as we explored the redwoods by foot, walking the famous Redwood Nature Trail.

A tree is strong because it's roots allow it to bend throughout the wind. 🌲👫

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Santa Cruz

We then drove out to the town that surfing originated in, Santa Cruz. We explored a bit by foot, shopping the original O’Neill Surf Shop, and again – had Phil’s favorite  – tacos.

It was my turn to choose the activity, so on our drive out to our next stop we stopped at In-N-Out-Burger! Truly amazing place. The employees are so chipper and the food is truly worth the indulgence. I suggest the animal-style french fries.

Cheeseburger in paradise @inandout___

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Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Carmel-by-the-Sea

The main attraction to visiting northern California for us was having the opportunity to drive the scenic Pacific Coast Highway 1. The areas of Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Carmel-by-the-Sea are all along the breathtaking coast making it easy to be entertained just by driving around and stopping at scenic outlook points.  Notable, easy-to-access spots are Lovers Point Park at the point of Pacific Grove, and the famous 17 Mile Drive including: the Lone Cypress, Spanish Bay, Stillwater Cove, the Del Monte Forest, and the world-renowned Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Lover’s Point

 

Spanish Bay

Lone Cyprus

Bixby Creek Bridge

🌊💕

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A bonus highlight of the trip for me was experiencing the food scene in the Monterey and Carmel area. This area features many European and French-inspired spots, including many pastry havens! We ate at French restaurant La Bicylette, Lafayette Bakery & Cafe and Parker-Lusseau Pastries & Cafe. Each was truly delicious and worth a return trip back to Cali alone 🙂

We stayed at the recently renovated Munras Inn for 3 nights. This hotel was a great pick for the price with updated rooms, in room fireplace, air conditioning (surprisingly NOT common in Cali) and parking. I’d suggest asking for a top-floor room. Monterey seems to be more affordable to stay in over Carmel, when they are only a 15 minute, seriously scenic drive apart.

Yosemite National Park

We then drove about 4 hours inland, to spent 3 nights just outside of Yosemite National Park, at an Airbnb in Midpines. I really would have loved to stay on the park grounds, but we booked our trip only a few weeks before leaving. There are limited places to stay in the area and they are booked months in advance, so we were lucky to find such a a great house – even it was an hours drive to the central point in the park.

Our first day we conquered the famous Mist Trail, climbing to see the Vernal Falls and Emerald Lake. It was quite the hike. The challenge was worth the view.  Its truly something special experiencing the vastness of the park. Many have raved about the feeling of reflection that washes over you when visiting Yosemite. Without getting too fluffy, I can say the fever/ high / serenity – it’s real. Great place to experience as a couple.

Chasing waterfalls 🌈

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Tips for visiting the majestic Yosemite are to seriously plan ahead – know where you want to park and what trails you want to hike. Timing is everything here with only limited roads in and out of the park, thousands of visitors a day, limited parking and limited sunlight for daylong hikes. Get in and park early! Having proper hiking gear and preparing water and snacks is also a must!

I’d suggest researching via Youtube series from return visitors like Zane and Mel Lamprey – they have a seriously funny travel channel on Youtube! I kinda really want to be BFFs & travel the world with them.

Cheers to being able to explore such beautiful parts of the world and to planning (saving$) for our next trip!

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Holiday Terrariums & Snow Globes Made with Glass Hurricanes & Cloches

DIY Holiday Terrarium and Snow Globe Craft Project

The holidays are my favorite time of year simply for the decorations. I’m more excited to decorate my home for the season, than a kid is on actual Christmas morning. To me there’s no such thing as too many lights, or too much sparkle. To prepare to decorate for this upcoming holiday season, I wanted to use the glass cloches and glass hurricanes I had on hand to create my own festive Christmas terrariums or snow globes of sorts. This idea is a super simple and easy way to make your own custom Christmas decorations!

I started off by gathering the elements to my holiday scene. You can use anything festive for the holidays that you love – it just needs to be small enough to fit in your containers!

DIY Holiday Terrarium and Snow Globe Craft Project

christmas ornaments

I selected small ornaments like a Santa, his sleigh, a few reindeer, a church, and tiny bottle brush trees. I love glitter, so for snow I wanted to use the really glittery extra fine snow flurries, Original Buffalo® Iridescent Snowflakes.

 

Here’s a list of the ornaments I used from Joann’s Craft store:

Decorating your glass pieces is really simple! For a festive Christmas glass hurricane I used started by filling the bottom with snow and then layered in my decorations. My theme here was a reindeer scene.

Here’s another version with a ombre glittered reindeer.I also made the bottle brush trees in the back of these hurricane scenes! I’ll be sharing a DIY on how to craft those yourself soon 🙂

You can also use any glass cloches displays you have to add a bit of festive christmas decor to your kitchen. Here I used my favorite white marble and gold cloche to create a fun scene with Santa picking out his Christmas tree.

 

I love cloches, so I had to fill them all with festive scenes! Here’s another decoration idea, very reminiscent of a traditional snow globe scene. I used a small christmas church and snow with my rustic rose gold cloche.

I added the Holiday hurricane decorations throughout my home for a beautiful Christmas display.

Hope you are inspired by my festive creations to create your own holiday terrariums and snow globes with your glass hurricanes and cloches! My displays truly make me happy, and sometimes even so overjoyed I become sappy.  Tis the season! I may just keep these out all winter because they are so precious!

Materials I used for this project:

  • Glass hurricane   (Mine is from local garden store Laurel Nursery/Garden Center, Inc. Glass hurricanes are also available at at craft stores, dollar stores, home stores etc.)

  • Glass cloches   (Mine are both from Homegoods)

  • Small christmas ornaments   (Joann’s Craft Store – linked above)

  • Buffalo Snow® Extra-Fine Flurries   (Michael’s Craft Store – or Amazon linked above)

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Le Mont, a Pittsburgh Fine Dining Institution

le mont view

Yelp Elite at Le Mont, Mount Washington

Recently I was lucky enough to have been included in a fantastic Yelp Elite event at Pittsburgh’s Le Mont. Both the Yelp and Le Mont teams were very generous to treat us to a full dining experience! I’m sharing my first experience at this Mount Washington institution known for elegant dining and beautiful views of downtown Pittsburgh.

  

Le Mont is definitely known for traditional grandeur. It’s the kind of place that feels like you’re going to dinner at the country club with your parents – and their boss. It’s a special occasion venue, with an ornate and gilded décor that feels very fancy, formal, and elegant. The private room we dined in had plenty of windows featuring amazing views of downtown Pittsburgh and the North Side. The space is already lavish, with lots of gold, crystal chandeliers and ornate details – but when I visited it was also decorated for the holiday!

Before the meal, our group of Yelp Elite was addressed by the manager. She was very casual, and shared some of Le Mont’s history with us. She shared that they pride themselves on delivering a high class experience, and are now shifting to appeal to a younger crowd and expand what they’re known for.

To become more accessible and attractive to a younger crowd, Le Mont is now offering a seasonal celebrations menu with three- course, pre-fix meal cost of $38! This should be advertised more, as most deem the Le Mont as too costly – when this option is much more affordable. Le Mont as a classic institution does have a very basic menu, this celebration menu offers more fun and festive options.

Celebration menu le mont

I didn’t know what to expect, but was surprised to see that we were being treated to both red and white wine and our choice of soup or salad, entrée, and dessert. I am known for only liking sweet wine (my blog is Moscato is m Mantra) and I thoroughly enjoyed the red option by Merino of Portugal – it was truly delicious! Our menu featured very traditional high-end options, with a few of the celebration menu choices. I ordered the almond encrusted salmon entrée with bourbon glaze. I was served a large piece of quality salmon. I really liked the sweet bourbon maple glaze and the almond. It came with the classic sides of a swirl of whipped potatoes and broccolini. I also enjoyed the crème brûlée with fresh fruit.

The food was delicious and great quality! The wait staff was friendly and pleasant and cracked jokes. I’m really glad I got to experience the food and service at Le Mont. Thank you very much to Yelp and the Le Mont for a treat of an evening!

The only downside of my food was that the salmon was well done and the brûlée was served cold. It didn’t have that sensation of warm crystalized top with the creamy cool custard. I’m sure this was just due to the large party they were serving.

Overall if you’re looking for a traditional and elegant dining experience in Pittsburgh, with a view Le Mont is great. The consensus at my table of multi-generational Yelp Elites, was that Le Mont does have a bland almost boring menu. It’s just a bit old-fashioned. Their celebration menu was really needed, now that Pittsburgh is abuzz with so many dynamic dining options (aren’t we lucky that we have the luxury of being choosey?!). The Le Mont menu needs to continue offering a little more pizzazz, to truly be able to diversify and attract a younger clientele.

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