One Big Bear, Two Quilt Stores, lots of snow!

This year, we decided to hit the road for Thanksgiving.  We joined my Sister and her family up in Big Bear California.  We headed out of  Los Angles late Wednesday night to try to avoid the holiday traffic.  (holiday traffic is even worse than the normal gridlock we face everyday in L.A.) The last hour of the drive consists of aggressive curves with drop offs that would weaken the strongest stomachs.  It's just brutal.  We finally arrived at 11pm where most of the family was trying to stay awake for our arrival. Very sweet.
My sister picked the cabin, and little did she know that it was walking distance to TWO Quilt stores. Maybe that windy mountain road really did do me in and this was heaven!!!  :)
Okay so even though we could walk, how would we carry all of our purchases home?  Just kidding-kind of.  I mean, you just never know what you'll find in a Quilt store and I think that's part of the fun!   Sometimes it's a dud and sometimes it's heavenly! :)

Great job on location, Sis!

Normally for Thanksgiving, we wake up early, get the bird cooking,  get out the special dishes, cook cook cook, clean and cook some more.  It can be quite stressful.

This year was so relaxing!
Everyone woke up when they felt like it. We ate off paper plates. We didn't stress about anything really I mean heck, we were roughing it!  :) Without our normal appliances, it was almost freeing.  We just kind of winged it and everyone loved it.  It's not about the "right" plates or the tablescapes but the face to face time.  Family time.

After our delicious dinner, while waiting for dessert, we made some crafts and then I busted out my great idea of putting a puzzle together.  I am not an avid puzzle putter-together-er.  I didn't really know that a 550 piece puzzle was a bit extreme for the kids. They hung in and did great!   They probably did better than us adults.

Friday morning, I'm up with the sun, dressed and ready to hit the Quilt stores! My Mom is eager and willing to join me, so we are off.  Our first store was Bear Country Quilts.  As expected, they had some really cute patterns and fabric that represented the area.  I went to check out the patterns my Mom wandered off to another section of the store.  At one point, we both went looking for each other to show the other one the same cute pattern, so of course that one had to come home with us!   This was a cute quilt store with nice staff.  Just what you'd want to find!
The next stop was across the street to Patchworks. (apparently they don't have a website)  The store heater was not working and it was almost colder inside the store than it was outside.  I swear at one point you could almost see your breath inside!  The employee was very nice and we got to talking, she grew up in the town next to where we grew up and where my family still lives so that was fun.  It's always fun getting to know the staff members at the Quilt stores and hearing their stories.

Unbeknownst to me, Big Bear was expecting snow at 3pm on Saturday and at 3pm on the dot, the snow came.  It was beautiful.  I'm a city girl, we don't get to watch it snow very often.  And even less often do we drive in it!  Yikes - that was a bit scary.  We were slipping and sliding!  The kids loved it and didn't need to know my fear!

During down time in the cabin, I was working on my hand binding on a Christmas quilt I've had for years and never finished!  Well guess what?  I finished it!  And what better timing than to complete a quilt surrounded by Family, while it's snowing in a cabin.  It just adds to the story of this quilt.  It's going to be given as a gift this Christmas to a loving family who love snuggling under warm blankets.  I know they will love it!

P.S. This is why my husband doesn't normally pack his own bag...he packed two left shoes!!!! :)

Let it snow let it snow let it snow!  Let the holiday season begin!!

Our Trip to Santa Ynez Valley. Wine, Food and Quilt Stores!!

My lovely Mother-In-Law has been in town visiting us from Thibodaux, Louisiana for about a week and a half now.  (Let me tell you I'm really one of the lucky ones - my In-Laws are all amazing.  I really am blessed!) 
She'll be flying home on Monday, so we thought we'd do a quick road trip and get her outta the city and take her to one of our favorite vacation destinations, the Santa Ynez Valley in California.  For us it's a 2 1/2 hour drive.
If you live in the area, or are planing a trip to California, and like great wine, amazing food and fun little stops in between, take a read.  Here are our favorites!

Our first MUST stop is Bob's Well Bread in Los Alamos. It's worth mentioning that Bob is always there to ring us up and is a super nice guy.  It's well worth chatting him up.  

I always get the Avocado Toast for my first breakfast. It's basically toasted fresh bread with avocado smeared over it, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds.  It's amazing!  They side the toast with a seasonal salad and poached egg.  It all works so well together.  (we'll write a post of our version of the Avocado Toast that we make at home, just in case we've piqued your interest and you can't make the drive.)

My second breakfast take away was the almond croissant.   I'm telling you it's just too good to not prepare yourself for a mid morning snack! 

Our next stop is the Antique Mall which happens to be across the street from Bob's.  This is 3 large buildings of antiques. There seems to be something for everyone.  Look what I found!  I was very excited with my find!

All that shopping makes us thirsty so we head over to the Union Saloon for a little pick me up. 

Another must stop.  The attached Hotel is still under renovations but the saloon is as cute as ever!

They use an old refurbished door as a table, and tractor seats at the bar. The reclaimed wood work is so well done it's worth just going in even  for a lemonade to get a look at this beauty.  Plus the LSU game was on so you know we had to watch the tail of that!  Don't ask how the game ended...we quickly needed some libations!

We then headed straight to Casa Dumez, one of our favorite stops.  Sonja, the owner, was in and we had a great time chatting with her while my husband and Mother-in-law enjoyed all the wines.  Even if you aren't a wine person, it's worth checking out.  This is not a snobby, or stuffy uncomfortable shop - quite the opposite!  The staff is super friendly.  You belly up to the bar and let them know if you're new to wine or if you prefer Reds or Whites.  It's such a great way to learn about your tastebuds and to have a conversations about what you're tasting.  It really is a great time.  

We normally take notes, and I'll score the wines secretly, and then after all the tastings we reveal our top picks.  What's great is we normally agree 95% of the time and that's always nice because then we always have someone to share a bottle with!   Also, I would always say I'm a Red girl, that's why my hair is red from drinking deliciouse Red wine.  White wines never "did anything for me", but that's because I never had the right one!  This experience has really opened our eyes to all the different nuances of wine.  Each wine varietal has it's own unique characteristics.  Give it a try, be open to the experience.  You'll probably learn a lot!

There is a great chance you'll be feeling the delicious wine after the tasting, so we do a little dance over to Bell Street Farm where Jamie greets us like we are old friends and now I feel like we are!  The food here knocks our socks off!  Our favorite is the Pork Salad and Procuto and Gouda Sandwich mid-meal we swap plates.  We almost lick the plate.  Literally.  Need I say more?

So all this in about a city block!  It's the most perfect afternoon until...I realize the Quilt store in Orcutt closes in 30 mins and we're miles away!  We race to the car!  Let me be honest with you, I can barely keep myself from racing to the Quilt stores first and then dilly dally around town.  I'm really exercising my self control!!  I mean, I better be exercising something with all these pastries I'm eating!  

Back to the race: we race over to The Old Town Quilt Shop in Orcutt.  I apologize to the first employee I see for walking in as they're trying to close.  She's sweet and says not to even worry about it, for me to take my time!! Whew!  She obviously doesn't know me!  I could spend all day! :)
The employee, I want to say her name is Diana (forgive me if I'm wrong), and I had a nice chat.  She shares with me that they hold retreats there and showed me the space....YES PLEASE!  I am totally interested!   I must say my only complaint is they aren't open on Sunday. I totally understand them needing time off, but a girl really needs her Quilt shop time!  :)

We are now officially pooped and head to our AirBnB which happens to be less than a mile away from the Quilt shop. Thank you, Quilting Gods!  AirBnB is a site where you can book lodging in peoples extra space in their homes or sometimes the entire house. Have you every used Air BnB?  We've had great luck.

Sunday morning we are off and running!  We weren't quite ready for the 47 degree temp but, we didn't let that hold us back from returning to  Bob's again!  We took the very scenic route with lots of photo stops.  These are the views!  Pretty amazing right?


My favorite view!  :)

As I mentioned, I'm a Quilt store fanatic, and if there's a quilt store near us I want to check it out!  I find that part of the excitement in traveling or a reason to travel!  :)  We are going to Big Bear next weekend and you better believe I've already "googled" that!  

Back to this trip, I strategically put us in the town of Buellton right at 10am.  I'm no amateur!  The last quilt store stop on our list, The Creation Station, is open for business!  I hope most of you have heard of this shop.   They've been around forever!  This is a wife and husband team, Dawn and Patrick.  You'll know Dawn when you see her, she'll be the one with the hot pink hair! The shop is pretty adorable, with a lot to see.  They have a lot of precut fabric along with a modest about of bolts.  They have lots of quilts and sample projects if you find yourself in a rut.  Creativity really runs wild in this store.   
P.S. Dawn's parents "shop-sit" from time to time, and are the warmest people you can run across!  Pops can really talk you're ear off and I'm more than happy to listen! 

Our next stop via the scenic back roads....


Lastly we arrive in the city of Los Olivos.  This is a little vineyard mecca!  Driving up, you know you've hit the jackpot or at least that's how I felt. The streets are lined with little shops and tasting rooms.  Yes please!!!

Our most beloved stop is J. Woeste.  This home and garden shop is mind blowing!  Seriously.  They have pottery, rod iron work, plants, goodies to hang from trees, flying really. 

 Inside the business  they have unique gifts, home decor, now Christmas's just paradise!
You could probably do all your Christmas shopping in this one shop! It's not cheap but neither is the workmanship!  
On this main strip of town you'll find lots of tasting rooms, some olive oil tasting rooms, one bar serving beer, one restaurant a coffee shop along with some misc shops tossed in like Avec Moi Decor (ladies, you gotta save some time and money for this shop!).  Oh, and the General Store is worth a stop in as well.  Our favorite wine stops in Los Olivios are: Stolpman & Carhartt.  We haven't made it to Foxen, but we've put it on the list for next time!  And honestly there are so many different wineries you'll need to come experience them for yourselves.  Tell us your favorites!

So that's our Santa Ynez weekend recap.  I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into our lives and this encourages you to come on out to California for a little off the beaten path adventure!