The first place I look...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bella Vista Ranch

Crazy I was so excited about this experience before we even left home, and I was even more impressed than my hopes held! We drove into the ranch, flanked by grapevines overflowing with beautiful purple and green looked just like a Napa Valley postcard! Notice I said postcard because I have not actually been to Califormia! Our tour started out with the owner giving us the history of olive oil in general, of his personal history in the business, all the way up to current events pertaining to olive oil production. He was a fantastic storyteller and fun to listen to! I was only momentarily distracted by his puppy "Big Daddy" who came out to socialize with all of us on the tour. It was apparent he had vast knowledge of the industry and a true passion for the business. He took us out and showed us his olive trees which did have olives and explained the differences in type and how they harvest them. He helped us understand how his ranch is flourishing despite extreme Texas weather conditions and showed us all the different vegetables he is currently growing there. We went on to see the olive press-I can't remember the official name- and he explained how it is used and how the process has changed over the years. Afterwards we participated in a wine and food tasting of the ranch's products. We drank-yes we DRANK-olive oil and learned the important properties of really fresh extra virgin oils. We sampled some of the flavors of olive oil bottled right there on the ranch, as well as jams and vinegrettes. Of course we walked away with some amazing dipping oils, jam, wine (the Texas Sunset is fabulous), and even a bar of soap made with olive oil! I couldn't stop taking pictures this place was so breathtaking! I learned so much too. Well worth the $15 tour price! And can I just say... The olive tree is gorgeous--feels stately but each is unique and we learned that they can live to about 4,000 years! Simply Amazing.

Blair House Inn in Wimberley Tx

A little bit of Heaven is the motto for this quaint little town and that's exactly what it is! Cute little boutiques and eateries all around the downtown hub look like a girl's fantasy shopping trip day (gotta come here next time during Wimberley Market Days with plenty of money and girls only)...and our gorgeous bed and breakfast was only a few miles down the road. Blair House Inn was so much nicer than I could have ever guessed! We were greeted by Mike who gave us the grand tour...the grounds were beautifully lush and green, little birds chirping everywhere, yet quiet and secluded. We stayed in the main house which had several guest rooms, a study/computer area, dining room, TV room, living area and gourmet kitchen complete with chef giving cooking lessons! Out the back door are several more sitting areas and a stone path leads you right up to the pool. Past the pool were more separate cottages, hiking trails, and breathtaking views over the valley. We spent the afternoon laying out at the pool and visiting with friends and were delighted with the tiny details that made our stay so comfortable and relaxing: refrigerator near the pool stocked with drinks for your enjoyment, big fluffy clean towels located at the pool as well as sunscreens of all types for you to use. We returned to our room to find chilled white wine and two plates of brownies almost too pretty to eat (almost...we determined that they actually tastes even better than they were pretty!). The bed was firm and comfortable with high quality sheets and the oh so important ceiling fan for background noise required for optimal sleeping! The next morning, Reggie and I enjoyed a cup of fabulous coffee on the front porch as the morning sun woke up the Hill romantic! Followed by breakfast in the dining room..the cherry on top of this amazing B&B...delicious fruit with real whipped cream, specialty juices, yummy Jewish apple cake (that almost rivals my mom's), and gourmet egg, tomato, onion and cheese quiche with a side of sausage for the main course. The service we received while here was excellent, no perfect. I hope to return here year after year as I can only see Blair House getting better and better,

Cypress Valley Canopy Tours

Whew!!! Just finished zipLining in the gorgeous Texas Hill Country! Who knew there are cypress trees here that are 300 and 400 years old! Bittersweet to see these beautiful monsters who must have had at one time massive canopies, but the wildfires in 2011 swept straight thru here and wiped most of the canopy out. Thanks to a few underground seeps and springs and a cute little sinkhole (yes, sinkholes can be CUTE) the trees are trying to recover and shed their burnt outsides and regenerate their massive beauty. Zipping from cypress tree to cypress tree, led by our guides Max and Robert, feels a lot like flying. Mid-air, I forgot about the harness, looked up into the sky and what came to mind? My sweet Abby-girl's recent infatuation with flying squirrels... And I thought how this is exactly what those little critters must feel like when flying from tree to tree! Robert was a hoot, he never shut up and even gave Reggie a new nickname-Turbo- because he was also first in line to start the next zip-LOL-that's my hubby! Congrats to my longtime friend Rachel and her husband, Eric, who joined us and zip lined for their first time! I loved seeing their smiles....well, smiles after the two rope bridges (Rachel was definitely not into that part)! I hope Canopy Valley continues to rebuild bigger and better! I know Reggie and I already talked with Robert about doing a customized rope course, repelling, and zip course for our kiddos. A full family day at this would be a great adventure for the boys and confidence booster for the girls, not to mention have all 8 of us work together to accomplish different tasks--something all families should do regularly in my opinion! Oh and shout out to Robert who does outdoor adventures all over the area and also works with handicapped children and our wounded warriors(near and dear to my own heart). Just know that talk is all he does! But he did point out a plant called maidenhair (spelling? Really?) that grows out of the seeps, looks like a fern, but he claims you can squash the roots and use it as a natural hair conditioner! If it weren't for that cute little sinkhole I would have been pulling me a plant to take home in a heartbeat!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Brewster's Pizza House in the Texas Hill Country

Tried a cool pizzeria not far from our B&B for our anniversary eve dinner and all I will tell you is that just us two couples cleaned out TWO medium pizzas! Now that is good pizza! And it was definitely in the crust...light, thin, crispy and fresh tasting. They even brew their own beer here and let you try all the different flavors! This family owned business makes you smile when you see the whole family, even younger kids, bringing out the pizza, cleaning up the tables and taking the orders. An added plus: my friend left her purse at the restaurant when we left and we had barely been back at the B&B ten minutes when two of the teenage members of the pizza family arrived to deliver her purse back to her! You definitely don't get service like that at your normal pizza joint! The kids were so friendly even answering some of my questions about how they got started in the business and how they feel as teens working in the business everyday! If I could only get my precious offspring to have such a superb work effort! Great family, pizza, and atmosphere while in Wimberley!