10 Annual Rituals for the Outdoorswoman

With warmer weather finally approaching, here are some things to do to get you ready for your outdoor activities this year. Some of these I do on a regular basis and some I do at the beginning of each year. Feel free to share your own rituals in the comments!

A version of this article first appeared in my monthly column in Texas Wildlife magazine.

Purge your gear closet.

It’s almost time for Spring cleaning! With adventures of the past 12 months fresh on your mind, now is the time to go through and get rid of those items that don’t work for you anymore. It’s also a good time to clean your gear and bags and get organized.

Plan outdoor adventures for the coming year.

If you don’t have an “Outdoor Bucket List”, you need to make one! Look at your nearby state parks and small towns and plan a camping trip, a day hike, or a hunt.

Most of the popular parks in this country require a reservation many months in advance. Some even require reservations YEARS in advance! (ugh!) Fear not, I created a list of all the places you need to book in advance: 10 Popular Outdoor Experiences You Have to Book Early.

*For Texas Parks, I recommend booking 8-10 months in advance (or more if you can swing it). A reservation fee of about $10 is nonrefundable if you cancel.*

Hike one trail a month.

Science proves exercise outdoors is better for you than going to a gym (but we already knew that.) The key to doing this successfully is picking out the trail or park in advance and putting it on your calendar with a time block of around 2-4 hours.

Sign up for an outdoor workshop.

A few of the ones I love:

Become a better shot.

Being a good shot makes you a more ethical hunter because your shots are more on target. Also, it’s important for gun safety that you are familiar with your firearm. And in addition to perfecting your aim, spending time out at the range is a lot of fun! If you prefer to shoot with a camera, sign up for photography lessons to develop that skill.

Push yourself to try something new.

Have you ever kayaked before? Have you ever fly fished the Guadalupe River? Gone on a challenging backpacking trip? What about cleared brush with a bulldozer? (TWA’s Advanced Women of the Land program will give you a dose of that!) If you love the outdoors—and I am pretty sure most of you do—you will probably relish the new perspective each activity will bring.

If you own property, set goals for your conserving the wildlife on your land.

Talk to your NRCS agent about programs in the coming year which can help you clear invasive brush, plant natives, improve rotational grazing, and conduct other measures to enhance wildlife habitat. You might also consider legacy and estate planning for your property and how you can conserve it for generations to come. Or, if you’ve ever considered inviting local schoolkids to your property for a day of learning, or volunteering your ranch for a youth hunt, Texas Wildlife Association can connect you with those opportunities.

Start a savings plan for your dream hunt or outdoor trip.

The start of a new year is a great opportunity to reassess your budget. It may be hard to say “no” to things, but just remember—all will be worth it when you’re on that dream safari!

Support wildlife conservation and outdoor education charities.

Set up a recurring monthly donation to an environmental charity that interests you. If you can’t give money, then give your time. A few of my favorite organizations:

Make an album of your favorite outdoor adventures from the past year.

I recommend taking your pictures off SD cards and storing them on a cloud server. Use one of the many free services online to make a memory book which you can look back on for years to come.

Best of luck sticking to whatever goals you have in mind, and here’s to a wonderful year ahead!

10 Tips for Owning a Ranch, with Texas Rancher Carol Knutson

Yesterday you may have seen my post where I interviewed Texas rancher Carol Knutson, and today I wanted to share her brilliant tips for running a ranch! Whether you have a ranch or not, some of these ideas still apply to ownership of any property–be it suburban home or big acreage. Fellow property owners, feel free to add your two cents in the comments!

1. Find a place that you love because the work often seems hard and never-ending.

2. Look for land with potential for improvement, on a scale you can manage.

3. Expect to have a lot of responsibilities, from the livestock to the land and water.

4. Be vigilant and careful. Between animals and machinery, ranching can be dangerous.

5. Prepare for the many expenses. It’s important to generate income off the land or have another source of funds.

6. Understand that nothing in nature stays the same, and land takes work every single day.

7. Learn from your mistakes and be open to new ways.

8. Be a self-starter, have a strong work ethic, and be resourceful.

9. Have a network of people on which you can rely.

10. Take time each day to enjoy your land. Be grateful for what you have accomplished and for the time you have been given to care for it.

Modern Day Outdoorswoman: Carol Knutson

Life on a ranch is full of surprises. Many people might be surprised at the things women ranchers have to buck up and do, from operating chain saws to fixing flats, to wrangling animals into pens, pastures, and pickups. Even though the work never ends, the rewards are many. Recently I interviewed Carol Knutson, a woman who always wanted a ranch and finally, one day she was able to purchase her own. Here’s a glimpse into what life back at the ranch is like.

A version of this article appeared in Texas Wildlife magazine. Texas Wildlife Association is a nonprofit that works to conserve wildlife in the state of Texas. They host educational programs for kids, land owners, and women and do great work! 

One of the highlights of my life in the outdoor blogging, conservation, and ranching world has been the chance to meet people from across Texas who ranch, work on interesting conservation projects, or simply love the land and believe in sharing their passion with others. You all are my kind of people!

In particular, I’ve been amazed by the women I’ve met and the ambitious ranch work they take on. Their efforts “behind the gates” are impressive and not always glamorous.

One such awe-inspiring woman is Carol Knutson, a Women of the Land graduate, decade-long TWA member, and what I call a modern-day outdoorswoman. Knutson is the owner of the Muy Seco Ranch, approximately 350 acres of land near D’Hanis, Texas which she purchased in 2006. She has chickens, cattle, donkeys, llamas, and peacocks, and handles nearly all ranch chores on her own.

What inspired you to own land?

Ranching has always been a way of life for me. I grew up on my family’s ranch in Bandera County, and it’s where I raised my children. After my father passed away and I was on my own, I began looking to buy property.

Do you still feel like you’re carrying on the family tradition now that you’re on a new ranch?

When I sold the Bandera County ranch, I feared it was the end of the world. However the ten years I’ve spent on my D’Hanis land have been some of the happiest years of my life.

What qualities were you looking for in a ranch when you purchased this one?

I was looking for deep soil, good water, and land with potential to be productive. I wanted to be near where I grew up, and in an agrarian community.

What were some of the first projects you tackled?

Establishing permanent grasses on 160 acres for cattle was one of them. I’ve also worked to control mesquite, cross-fence pastures for rotational grazing, and improve roads.

What has been the most difficult project you’ve undertaken?

Laying hundreds of yards of water lines by hand was tough! Controlling mesquite is also a constant battle.

What is your favorite work to do on the ranch?

I love working in the pastures. Even though the work is dusty, I see wildlife I wouldn’t see in a 4-wheeler.

Describe an average day at the Muy Seco Ranch.

I start the day by going to the barn to see what has happened overnight, and dealing with that. Then I find what’s on the wrong side of the fence, and I put it back where it belongs. Then I see what’s running over, and I fix that. Then, I feed and turn animals out. Depending upon the time of year, I will either mow or get on the tractor. Something always has a flat, so there’s a lot of tires to be changed. I also plow and spray fields and monitor wildlife on game cameras.

Prior to purchasing the ranch, what did you envision ranch ownership would be like? Has that image changed?

I hoped it would be a dream come true, and it has been.

How has ranching changed since when you were a kid?

Back then, knowledge came from our elders and from trial and error. Now we can tap into resources using technology. From the field, I can reach my neighbors for help and search the internet for answers. It has helped me be even more resourceful.

What’s next for you?

I’m looking for a new place in the Hill Country, and I’m excited about what’s to come.


My 8 Fave Winter Boots from Sierra Trading Post

Sierra Trading Post has long been one of my go-to’s for discount outdoor clothes and accessories. Gotta scratch the never-ending itch for outdoor gear! Growing up, I looked forward to getting their small black and white magazine in the mail. It was printed on newspaper and had drawings instead of photographs, if you can believe it. Those were the days.

Currently they have an awesome selection of winter boots on their website and I wanted to share my favorites. I don’t know about you, but each time this time of year rolls around, I’m wishing for a mountain vacay.

This post is sponsored, but all comments and opinions are my own.

Santana Claudina Snow boot

These boots top my list. I LOVE the laces and shearling, and they solve one of the quandaries I always have when on a ski trip: What do I wear on my feet if we dress up and go to a nice dinner?!

These also can be worn casual with jeans or après-ski. Versatile, stylish winner.


Kamik Scarlet 3

Another option that would be great for a night out on a ski trip, these Kamik boots are cute and super reasonable at only $79.99.


Santana Myra Snow Boot

These have the best faux fur of all the ones on this list! I love how casual they are too, perfect for laid back mountain towns and chilly days at home.



Kodiak Skyla Leather Pac boots

Have you seen The Proposal with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds? These boots remind me of some she wore in that movie. Obviously, if they’re good enough for Sandra they’re good enough for me and I think this look is classic.


Real leather, wool, and suede for only $119.99.

Bearpaw Bethany Snow boot

Love the green and brown combo here and these are cheap! Only $59.99.


Aquatherm Wide Calf Boots

I’m a wide calf girl so these were a necessity for the list.


Also very reasonable – $69.99.


Henri Pierre Jaki boots

Can’t beat a classic navy suede.




Santana Canada Melita boot

These would look SO cute with a white or grey ski jacket!




Hope you found something you love and that the next time you wear them, you are on a sunny slope in a beautiful mountain scene!

Be sure to check out the rest of SierraTradingPost.com for some great deals.

Merry Christmas and happy shopping. 🙂



The weather this Easter was so perfect, it was just beckoning us to spend time outside.


It was sunny, but not in the hot summer sun kind of way–more in the hammock naps and brisk morning walks kind of way.


Like the good Texans we are, or try to be, we took my three nieces to a field of bluebonnets for photos. It’s a Texas tradition we do not miss.

I have three nieces and a fourth niece on the way. My husband’s side of the family has become inundated with girls in the last four years. Thanks to the new wives and daughters that have entered the scene, the boys are starting to be outnumbered after a very long time. Brandon is one of three boys, and his dad is one of five boys, so it’s been a while since the scales were tipped this direction.


Speaking of tipping scales…this is my newest niece Winnie, who is one big baby. (As a former big baby myself, I can say this.) What’s not to love about a fat baby in a field of bluebonnets?

I love everything about it.

With the sun shining to bright it was hard to have all of our eyes open at once for a photo.




After the wildflower pics, we had an Easter egg hunt for the girls, where they probably split a hundred eggs between them. I don’t remember Easter egg hunting being that lucrative or easy when I was a child!


However, to my mom’s credit she would hide solid Dove milk chocolate eggs around the house for me to find, which wasn’t exactly a bad deal for a chocolate lover like myself.





The chickens were a little confused by all of the egg collecting, not knowing whether to flee the scene or start sitting on eggs.


The next morning was Easter proper, and it started off with a perfect sunrise. I walked down the lane with my coffee and snapped some pics.


This chicken was out enjoying the weather too.


“Where are all my eggs?”

And of course, it wouldn’t be Easter without church.


(And the squinty eyes continue.)

I hope you all had a perfect Easter too. The blissful weather has continued this week in Austin and I’m currently writing from my porch…I must enjoy this while it lasts.

What Inspired Your Love of the Outdoors?

A few months ago, I was talking with a neighbor about our shared love of the outdoors. I asked her, “What made you interested in the outdoors?” I’m always curious about people’s answer to this question. She contemplated for a brief moment before saying, “I don’t know, I just am.”

Yesterday as I was outside watering my plants she came up to me and said, “I want you to know I have been thinking about your question.” Shoot, what did I ask her?  She continued, “When you asked me how I came to be interested in the outdoors, I didn’t have an answer. And I really appreciate you asking me because it inspired me to go back and think about it.”

“Go on,” I encouraged. It’s not every day I say something inspirational.

“My father worked in the oil industry in West Texas and some parts of New Mexico, and growing up we lived all over that region. He was always bringing lizards, snakes, and horned toads into the house to show us.”

Her father’s own curiosity about life in the desert, or his love of watching her squeal when he brought a snake in the house, resulted in her lifelong interest.

Often seemingly small or insignificant experiences–like seeing a horned lizard up close or catching frogs at your grandparent’s pond–are what first hook us. For me, it was receiving Discovery Channel’s wildlife photographs in the mail, riding in the back of a pickup at our farm, and taking train rides in Rocky Mountain National Park when I was too young to hike.

Outdoors with Mom

With this blog, I hope to help more women spend time in nature and collect memories that fuel their love for nature.

Question for the audience: I want to know, if you love the outdoors, what first sparked your interest?

If you don’t love the outdoors, I will forgive you just this once, but let’s go camping. I think I could change your mind!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


A Sunrise Walk in Tuscany I Will Always Remember

Hello blog readers, it has been a while! I took a brief blogging hiatus for the past three or so weeks in order to do some European traveling with my husband. Ever since we landed in Tuscany, I’ve been eager to share photos with you all here for it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and is an active epicenter of farming, history, architecture, and flavor.

Tuscany La Foce

Getting to Tuscany had included taking a train, renting a car, navigating through towns and roundabouts, getting lost, and carrying luggage up a flight of stairs. I was pooped by the time we sat down that night by the fire. Just as I was starting to think about my warm bed, Brandon suggested, “Let’s wake up before sunrise and go for a walk!”

“Excuse me?” I said.

However, I decided to not pick this battle and the next morning I was out of the house, dressed, and carrying a cup of coffee all before 7am. (Nothing short of a miracle.)

2015-11-01 Morning Walk in Tuscany (13)

As we headed down the road, the soft glow of morning sun was just beginning to light up the fields and valley, and even I was arisen out of my stupor by the beauty of the surroundings.

tuscan countryside la foce

I could see my breath in front of me and the air was crisp.

Tuscany countryside La Foce

Red berries on the shrubs bordering the road beckoned for photos and were enough to put me in the Christmas spirit even at 6am on a November morning.

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The road wound down the hill and every ten feet or so a cypress towered above us. Trees like these are very en vogue in Italy. The Italians plant them around every villa and road and seem to never tire of them.

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The road leveled out and as we looked off in the distance we saw two stunning white horses heading towards us across a dew-covered meadow.

Tuscany countryside La Foce

A movie director could not have ordered up a more perfect scene!

Drinking coffee in Tuscany with my husband, as the sun is rising next to two perfect white horses gliding towards me across a field covered in dew…can life get more perfect?

Tuscany countryside La Foce

Despite my many attempts to woo the horses, they were wary of me and kept their distance.

Brandon and I were reflecting on the gorgeous scene as we continued on our walk, when all of a sudden a chestnut buck popped out into the field in front of us. Despite our silence, he saw us immediately, contemplated the risk we posed, and retreated back into the cypress grove.

Tuscany countryside La Foce

Eventually we came to an abandoned farmhouse, whose stone walls held up broken windows and creeping vines. Down in the meadow below, which by then was alive with morning sun, three does grazed. As soon as they heard us, they turned their heads, looked us up and down, and bounced across the field and into the forest.

Tuscany countryside La Foce

I’m a harmless tourist armed with nothing but a camera! It’s ok! I called after them. But they were gone.

The morning was straight out of a scene from Pride & Prejudice and was a great start to the strenuous day of cheese and olive oil tasting that lay ahead.

Tuscany countryside La Foce

I suppose every now and then it pays to take your husband’s advice and get up before the sun rises.

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Kindred Spirits

This year I have had the privilege of mentoring one of the George W. Bush Institute Women’s Initiative Fellows. Meet Insaf!


Insaf is one of fourteen women from Tunisia, a small country on Africa’s northern coast, selected for this year’s Fellowship. Each Fellow has a plan for changing an aspect of their country, be it by getting more women in media, building a better system of government, or in Insaf’s case, reducing waste.

President and Mrs. Bush believe that women will lead the movement for democracy in the developing world, and are investing heavily in women like Insaf. During the Fellows’ visit to America, they tour landmarks of industry, policy, and innovation like Google headquarters, the news desk at CNN, Kate Spade’s Corporate Offices, and the New York Stock Exchange. They even have dinner with President and Mrs. Bush in their home. It is an incredible learning experience.

I have loved getting to know her.

As it turns out, we have a lot in common.

  • Insaf loves the outdoors.
  • She has a special place in her heart for dogs. She met Trooper and gave him her seal of approval!
  • Insaf loves a good bargain on fashion. Some things transcend languages and borders.
  • She speaks French. (My French is so-so.)
  • And she loves art!


Above all, what we have most in common is this: Insaf and I have more ideas than we have time in the day.

Last March, Insaf came to visit me in Texas. I had just three days to show her the best of our state, but I was up to the challenge.


We went to the Texas House floor with some other Women’s Initiative Fellows, their mentors, and the Speaker of the House.

A few hours later, Insaf and were in a boat on Lady Bird Lake. (Our real idea of fun.)


The story of that fun day can be found here.

I took her to my favorite Austin restaurants, told her about our state’s history, and introduced her to some Texas women.



We went to Austin City Hall and met with the woman who runs their recycling programs.


From there we went to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s headquarters, and visited with the woman who heads up their education programs.  They say a woman’s success is indicated by her network, and I wanted Insaf to meet women who could support her and mentor her.

I quickly realized there wasn’t enough time in the day.

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Then, we toured a landfill.


I know how to show people a good time. 

Insaf and I appreciated the landfill on a level only two gals who love the environment could, because this particular landfill is where Austin recycles. AND it’s an exotic wildlife preserve.


if we had had more time, I would have taken her out to a real Texas ranch.

After all of this, we came home and worked on an action plan for her recycling education programs.

This October I’m meeting up with Insaf in Prague and we’re going to spend four days reconnecting and brainstorming with the other Fellows and their Mentors. We are both excited about it. We miss each other! Though Insaf and I are separated by an ocean, a language, and a faith, we are two girls who love where we’re from and want it to be beautiful forever. I have no doubt our relationship will continue far beyond this year. Insaf has become my friend, and I am invested in her success as much today as I will be ten years from now. I know Tunisia will be a better place because of her. She inspires me every single day.

On that sentimental note, I’m going to get started on my day.

A Day at Leopold’s Farm

I don’t know but I’ve been told…

about a man named Leopold,

Wrote an ethic for the land,

Taught us how to understand.



I just got back from a pilgrimage to Aldo Leopold’s farm in Wisconsin. It was incredible. In order for the story I’m about to tell you to make sense, I need to give you a little history. I promise to make it as short and interesting as possible.

About 100 years ago, at a a time when clearing wilderness and hunting without a bag limit was the norm, a man named Aldo Leopold was living a simple life in rural Wisconsin. As he took morning walks with his coffee and his dog (my kind of person!) he took time to contemplate the animals, rivers, trees and general nature of his surroundings.  During these daily walks, Aldo developed a theory–that the value of land was not simply its potential for something else to be put there, like a house, or a cornfield, but its provision of clean water, abundant game, and natural processes to humankind. He believed that man could take from the land–by hunting, fishing, logging, and similar activities–as man was an organism of the land himself. BUT, Aldo said, in doing so, man is responsible for not only using resources wisely but taking action to improve them, such as removing non native grasses, or planting trees in an area that had been cleared.

He wrote all of this down in a book, A Sand County Almanac. 


It’s pretty much the Bible of conservation, and all this time later, still holds a lot of weight for land owners and managers and outdoor lovers like me.

All of this is to say, I was BEYOND beyond excited to go to Wisconsin this weekend and visit his farm! (Only after stopping for fried cheese curds.)


As the story goes, Leopold heard this farm was for sale during a cold winter in the 1920’s. On a frigid day in February, he took his family, daughters and wife included, out to see the property. They parked their car and walked along this road, but it was so cold they had to stop and build a fire to warm up.

When they finally reached the farm, this is what they saw.


Nothing but a clear cut open field.

Under the snow, they would find a very overgrazed and overused parcel of land. The Great Depression was forcing many people to eek out a living from overgrazing and overfarming the land.

But the Leopolds saw its potential and bought it, planting 1,000 trees a year.


Today, the land looks like this–diverse plant life and thick topsoil.

One thing I love about the Leopolds is they were very focused on staying positive, seeing the land’s potential, not its past, and moving onward and upward.  That’s the attitude you have to have when owning and caring for a piece of property. Don’t regret the decisions of yesterday.


As we walked through the pine forest Aldo had planted decades earlier, we read excerpts from his book. (Nerd alert.)


“A conservationist is one who is humbly aware that with each stroke {of the axe} he is writing his signature on the face of the land,” Aldo writes.

Looking into the dense pine forest, that had once been bare ground with little topsoil, brought that line to life.


“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.”


Reading these passages along the way, we walked through the forest to an open meadow on a trail that eventually led to…drumroll, please…


The shack. Behold, the place where Aldo camped out regularly and wrote down his thoughts. It was an incredibly powerful experience to be here at this place. I imagine it would be like sitting down at Beethoven’s piano or holding Picasso’s palette. Being at this shack reminded me of the first time I went to Italy and saw in person the statues and paintings I had read about in textbooks.

It was a surreal, overwhelming and a completely inspirational feeling to be here.


Immediately, when I walked in the shack, I could tell this place had stories to tell.  There was a big stone hearth, which Aldo found himself. I could imagine the family huddled around a fire here during a blistery Wisconsin winter.

I sat in Estella, Aldo’s youngest daughter’s chair, and could imagine her sitting beside the fire and idly looking out the window.


On the roof beam, the family’s pet owl would perch and keep a lookout.


I can just imagine how full the shack would have seemed with Aldo, his wife, their four children, a pet dog, and a pet owl, all crammed in this little shack.



Upon the shack wall hung an old saw, which was used to hew “The Good Oak,” an ancient oak tree struck by lightning one July night while the family was in the cabin.

Aldo wrote about his experience sawing it and it’s one of the more famous parts of the book. Here’s the annotated verison: The Good Oak.


After getting our fill of the shack–and while I could have sat there all day, I don’t think it’s what Aldo would have wanted–we headed down to the sandy banks of the Wisconsin river.


We could see for miles across this wide and deep river and there was not a soul in sight.


In Texas, it’s hard to find a stretch of river that doesn’t have at least some small sign of mankind–be it something so small as a dock or piece of trash. But the Wisconsin river was still truly wild.

The only sign of life was a deer track!


“The good life of any river may depend on the perception of its music, and the preservation of some music to perceive.” — Aldo Leopold


Heading away from the river, we walked through a maple forest to the site of the good oak. After that, we did a little gift shopping at headquarters!


Headquarters of the Aldo Leopold Foundation is, by the way, Platinum LEED certified. Only the best at Aldo’s place.

I left feeling inspired, motivated, sentimental, and hungry. Thank goodness Wisconsin is the home of cheese, too!

Wisconsin, I will definitely be seeing you again.


7 Great Stops in Healdsburg Wine Region

healdsburg, california wine, winery california, truett winery, truett hurst

I’m still reminiscing about where I was on Friday of last week. It was so wonderful! I can feel the breeze on my neck and the stem of a wine glass in my hand.

Healdsburg, California is supposed to be “where the locals go,” so it’s where a girlfriend of mine, Holly, a local, and I headed this past weekend. We were going off a list of wineries Holly’s friend provided her, and frankly we felt like we had no idea what we were doing because neither of us had done a lick of research…we just set out in the car, with the sunroof open, yelling, “Woooooo!! We’re going to Healdsburg baby!!!”


Fortunately, there are signs everywhere and we couldn’t have gone wrong if we tried.

1. Truett – Almost every winery I’ve visited in northern California has a beautiful tasting room, lush gardens, and delicious wine. (That’s the glory of this part of the world–everything is delicious.) What makes Truett special is this sitting area down by the river.

truett, dry creek

The drive into Truett is gorgeous as well.

The gardens are spectacular.

truett hurst, healdsburg

And the wine is great. We circled back at the end of the day to buy a bottle.

But I won’t lie, the highlight of my experience at Truett was pulling up to the tasting room and seeing a corgi.

2. Wilson Winery – Oh, brother. This one wins in the amazing views department. Here’s what you need to do to enjoy this one properly: go to the General Store, (link below) for food and take it to the Wilson Winery deck and have a picnic. You won’t hate it.


PS. Wilson winery is the only winery we encountered that day that sold wine by the glass.

wilson winery, healdsburg

3. Dry Creek General Store – I thought nothing could top Gruene General Store, but I was wrong. The term “General Store” doesn’t accurately paint the picture of this place. It is a delicatessen, unique gifts store, cheese lover’s paradise, and wine tasting room.

dry creek general store, healdsburg

We got the turkey and pesto panini, curry chicken salad, kale salad with vinaigrette, and pesto hummus.

4. Quivira – this one gets the award for friendliest bartender and prettiest ceiling.

quivira, healdsburg

5. Ridge – Skidding in just before 5 o’clock, when vineyards shut down their tasting rooms, Holly and I ended the day on a high note. This may have been the most beautiful one of all. Extending the entire length of the building, a patio with sofas and tables faced the fantastic 180 degree view of Healdsburg vines.

ridge winery, healdsburg, ridge healdsburg

You know, it’s a rough life just drinking wine on patios in beautiful places. I don’t know how people do it all day.


6. Dinner: Bravas – Per the recommendation of the friendly bartender, we headed into town and ate dinner at Bravas, a Spanish tapas place with the kind of back patio California weather deserves.

bravas healdsburg, restaurants healdsburg

This man was cooking up paella and I was tempted to grab the spoon from him and start eating, but I refrained myself. We settled into the bar and ordered sangria, crab salad on crostini, bacon-wrapped blue cheese-stuffed dates, and paella.

7. Post-dinner stroll: Stop at SHED – This place was divine — from fresh flowers to a coffee bar to unique spices and ingredients like caramel maple whiskey sauce, this store had everything you could dream of having in your kitchen.

shed healdsburg, grocery healdsburg

What an awesome day. Thanks to the hostess with the mostess Holly. Now, back to the papers on my desk…