Atascadero Art and Wine Stroll and Holiday Lighting Ceremony

Last Friday the City of Atascadero had their annual "Light Up the Downtown" Holiday Ceremony, and combined it with the quarterly Art and Wine Stroll event. It was cold, but not raining, so I decided to go after work. The Community Band played traditional Christmas carols at the City Hall, and a choir group from one of the local schools performed as well. There was a hot cocoa/coffree station set up for the kids and those who did not wish to partake in the Wine tasting. I was pleased to see TONS of people out exploring the quaint little downtown, and I got to check out some of the new businesses.


The wine tasting was $20.00 that included the wine glass, and they gave out a map showing which downtown businesses had wineries pouring, and/or art displayed, or if they just had water or snacks. I was really surprised to see it was a REAL glass, not the plastic ones they've handed out at the past couple of wine tours. It's really nice, but it was big, bulky, and heavy, and was difficult to carry around while trying to take pictures because it didn't fit in the wine glass holder I'd bought a few years ago specifically for these events. Luckily I was able to find places to set my glass down periodically! Unluckily I have tossed the map, so I don't remember some of the wines I tried (there were a LOT!). For example, this one in the picture below I recall as really enjoying, and I can see from a failed attempt at making a video of the event that is was Opolo Winery, but I can't recall exactly which wine it was. I also can't recall the name of the lady who made the cookies, but they were good, too! She paired different types of cookies, such as the chocolate peppermint one picture below, with the different wines being poured. Very unique indeed!

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This group, Sharine and the Moonlighters, was so good! I think I remember seeing them at an event just recently (Taco Day on Traffic Way, maybe?), and thought they were really good then. I stayed and listed to them play several songs, and they lead singer even played the flute! I really enjoyed them, and hope to see them at a future event (The Sweetheart Stroll is coming up!). 

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Ha! I love this lighted WINE sign! 

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And this law firm's letter board is very fun and festive, too!

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Fossil Wine Bar is new to the downtown, and I really loved the funky atmosphere inside! I'm looking forward to stopping in there sometime to just sit and enjoy a glass of wine!

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DiGiovanna is a new winery to this event, I believe, and this Siciliani Rosso was really good! I hope they'll come back again!

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I made back down to the City Hall in time for the countdown to the lighting ceremony. It's really pretty now that all the lights are lit on the Rotunda Building and around the light posts surrounding the Sunken Gardens! It's super festive and really feels like Christmastime!

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Justin Winery is one of my all-time faves, and this was the first time North County Pilates has participated in this event, so it was fun to see inside the studio. 

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This cute little vintage/antique shop wasn't open this time, but I really like their window display! This was really about as far as I made it - I never even crossed Traffic Way to check out the wineries set up over there! Honestly there were close to 20 wineries pouring, I think, and only a few of them had the 1 ounce pouring spout attached to the bottles, so I got a LOT of wine for my twenty bucks! It was, as always, a really fun event, and I'm SO glad there was nice weather for it! I really feel in the Holiday Spirit now! Bring on Christmas! Cheers! 

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Atascadero Art and Wine Tour June 2014


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Recently mom and I attended the quarterly Art and Wine Tour in downtown Atascadero. It was such a fun evening tasting a variety of locally produced wine, meeting local merchants, checking out new little shops, and perusing the talents of local artists.

There were 20 wineries pouring, but unfortunately we didn't get to all of them before the Tour concluded at 8:30 (it really should just go to nine; it's Friday night after all!), but we managed to hit  a little more than half of them. There were some of our old favourites:  Pomar Junction (with their delicious Picnic Chardonnay!), Hidden Oaks, Eberle, and Castoro Cellars; a few we've tried before and liked:  Whalebone, St. Hilaire, and Lone Madrone; and some new ones I'm pretty sure we've never tried before: Pear Valley, Calcareous, Bianchi, and Tolo Cellars.

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The weather was perfect for the Tour: sunny and warm, but just starting to cool off, and little to no wind! There were tons of people there, I think more than I've ever seen at one of these events. It was so nice to see so many people come out. Our downtown is struggling, to be sure, but it's quaint, friendly, and hosts several really nice, unique, fun shops! 

During the last Tour back in March, I think it was, this little store appeared to be closed. I was very sad because it's one of my favourite little shops in town. I'm not sure if they were just on vacation, changing hands, updating inventory, or what, but Times Since Remembered was back and filled with delightful things!!!

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Rhonda's Relics is a brand new little shop that has lots of unique, vintage items as well as quaint gifty things. I really hope it does well! 

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I've never been to the patio area behind The Spa Central Coast and  Avian and Claw (formerly Haven Wine Bistro), but it was quite lovely! Lots of seating and there were two wineries pouring there: Whalebone and Nobelle Wines.

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When I first saw this paper-wrapped bench outside Envisions Gallery, I assumed it was a newly installed bench that hadn't been unwrapped yet. But when Iw ent around the corner and saw a wrapped up bicycle parked by the building and a small car wrapped up in front I realized it must be an art display! It was called Wrapture by Chris O'Mahony, and I thought it was quite clever!

 

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Garth Wilwand  played some great tunes in the atrium between Wilwand Tea Co. and Healing Arts and Grape Encounters Empourium.  I tried to post a video of him singing "Message in a Bottle" to my Instagram, but I screwed it up, so you'll have to check out his music on his website linked above. 

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So, it was a super fun night, but wow, that was a lot of wine! When we got home we noticed that the glasses we'd been given were even bigger than the Big Wine Glasses we got at another wine tasting event (though not quite as big as the Ginormous glasses we got at the last Atascadero Wine Festival we went to several years ago).  Just for fun I did some photo comparisons. The newest glass is the one on the left.

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The first picture has the glass from a few years ago on the right (don't remember if it was the Art and WIne Tour or Sweetheart Stroll). This is the one we consider the Big Glass and is also our Friday Glass, because by Friday I really need a nice big glass of wine! The Ginormous glass is in the second picture, and I think breaks some kind of world record for the largest wine glass ever! Oh, and that teeny tiny glass in the third picture is the original size of wine glass we used to get at wine festivals/tasting events. Why they ever changed is beyond me! The bigger ones are so cumbersome when you're walking around trying to drink wine, eat food, take pictures and look at stuff.  Maybe next time we'll just remember to take some of our own glasses!

So, yeah, it was fun. Too much fun! I was planning to go to the Central Coast Oyster Festival in Avila Beach on Saturday, but woke up late in the morning just exhausted from what was really a busy, busy week that actually started the Friday before, and decided to not bother. Just the thought of spending hours fighting my way through throngs of people in the sun and heat for a few oysters and a couple cocktails just didn't sound as fun as it had on Thursday! Oh, well. Maybe next year!

Cheers!


2013 Sweetheart Stroll

The 2013 Sweetheart Stroll was this past Saturday in downtown Atascadero. Thankfully the sun burned through the early morning fog, melted the frost, and it turned out to be a beautiful, spring-like day! It seemed to be a slightly smaller event than years past, as there were only 14 wineries represented. Still, that gave us a chance to actually try most the wineries without getting TOO tipsy!

First we tried Flirtations Muscato by Opolo. I don't usually like the sweet dessert wines, but this was quite good and I could see myself enjoying a glass on a hot summer day.

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We drive by August Ridge every time we go to visit Grandpa, but we've never tried their wine until now. It was quite good, and someday we'll have to stop in for some wine tasting (and purchasing!).


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Castoro Cellars is one of my go-to faves. Their Viognier is delish! I've always liked their Savingon Blanc and Chardonnay, too! I felt really bad for this poor guy, though. While the sunshine was warm, there was a bit of a breeze, and it was cold in the shade.


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St. Hilaireis a new one for me. I tried the Zinfandel and really liked it. I would've tried a couple more, but there was one guy totally bogarting the table and the winemaker's time, and there was a line out the door, so I gave up.


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Next we stopped into Time Since Remembered, a cute little antique/crafty shop, to try some Blenna Blanca from Whalebone Vinyard. It was very good, and I loved looking around the shop as well. They have so many cute, unique things!  The only problem is that all the shops here in Atascadero are really small and cramped, and while I understand the Sweetheart Stroll and Art and Wine Stroll organizers want people to go INto the shops and look around (and possibly, hopefully shop), rahter than just going from wine tasting table to wine tasting table along the sidewalk, it's a bit annoying to always be in such cramped quarters, shuffling along in a twisty queue to get a shot of wine, then try to make your way back out, all the while trying to avoid people who are browsing in the store, or trying to browse yourself.

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Edward Jones didn't have wine, but they did have some delicious homemade chocolate mini cupcakes with a white chocolate dollar sign and some sparkling cider. Yummy!


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Larrenita is another new winery - or at elast one I don't recall tasting before. I couldn't find a website for them, but their wine was good, too!

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Tarrica Cellarswas being poured at The Barrel Room, and I think if we'd'vesat down he would've poured for us all day! I didn't know they started serving beer here, too! And, they have Fat Tire, which has been my go-do beer for the past couple of football seasons.


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Bella Luna winery at Ranch Dog Knitting. 

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Here are the Treble Makers, a local barbershop quartet. We stopped them on the street and made them sing us a song. They're really good! It's too bad I was iPhone incompetant on this day, because I tried to take a video of them, but it it didn't work.

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Hearst Ranch Wineryat Calicopia, a artist co-op that has TONS of awesome, artsy things. 

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The Red Tree Art Gallery didn't have a winery this time, but we stopped in anyway to pick up a bottle of Kitehawk Farm olive oil. We'd tried it during one of the Art and Wine Strolls and really liked the flavour of it. I've been thinking about that olive oil ever since, and finally got some! 


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Indigene Cellars I've tried before and really liked their Cabernet.

 

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Hidden Oaks is pretty much a regular at these events, so I'm pretty familiar with their wine, too. I didn't get a picture of it this time, but they also have a nice compact box of wine (which I always SWORE I would never get because, gah! wine in a BOX!) that contains 4 full bottles of wine, and lasts a long time. I haven't bought it yet, but I'm actually very tempted!

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More entertainment and yet another iPhone fail. These guys were really good - the little girl on the banjo was awesome, and they were both great singers as well! I don't know who they are so I can't look them up, which is pity, because I really enjoyed them.


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Next up was Rotta winery and another delicious Cabernet.
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Frolicking Frog was set up at Bru Coffeeshop where we finished our tour with a delicious Viognier then had a yummy cup of coffee before heading home. I very nearly talked myself out of going to the Sweetheart Stroll this year because it was SO cold and foggy and nasty first thing in teh morning. But as the sun came out, and it looked like it would be a good day, I decided, what the hell, let's give it a shot! Both mom and I are glad we did because it was a beautiful day and we enhjoyed some great wine and snacks and treats, and generally had a wonderful time!


2011 Atascadero Wine Festival

Mom and I haven't been to the Atascadero Wine Festival in a couple years, so we were shocked when we went today and saw how ginormous the event has become!

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Or, how big the glasses have gotten! Check out the difference between the previous Atascadero Wine Festival glass and the one we got today:

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Dang! That's a BIG GLASS!!!

Anyway, there were 80 wineries scheduled to be here - and I think they all made it; I didn't see a single empty table like I have at other wine tasting events! - as well as food vendors and artists and, as usual, The Mighty Croon Dogs provided the rockin' entertainment. The weather was perfect: sunny and warm, but not too hot. I think it helped they moved the festival to the late afternoon/early evening instead of the middle of the day when it's 110 degrees!

Mom and I decided to only try wines from wineries we'd never heard of, and luckily there were plenty of new wineries to choose from. We hit Aron Hill, Bargetto Winery, Rockin' R Winery, Laraneta and Carriage Vineyards (who also had olive oil and vinegars that were quite good, too!), Tarrica, Le Vigne Winery, Blue Belly Estate, Still Water Vineyards, Althea Estates, Ambyth Estate, Edward Sellers, and Graveyard Vineyards, and in the end we did end up visiting old favourites Peachy Canyon and Ranchita Canyon

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For lunch we had the ahi tacos from Pier 46 (yummy, but I really wasn't expecting the ahi to be, um, raw, or the tacos to be so wee), a tri tip sandwich from Cal Terra, and dessert was an amazingly delicious chocolate fudge cake pop from SallyFace Cakepops.

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Later we walked around the lake and waited for all the drunk idiots  other festival-goers to leave before heading home. In the past the festival has allowed free admission to the Charles Paddock Zoo, which is something I always look forward to, however, this year the zoo was closed, so I didn't get to do that. I don't know if it was because the festival was held later, or because it's gotten so big they didn't want all the loud, obnoxious drunks the large crowds bothering the animals, but it was a disappointment. I'll just have to go another time. 

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Wine Tasting on a Sunday Afternoon

While mom and I decided not to go to the Paso Robles Wine Festival yesterday (the event has just gotten WAY too big and isn't as much fun as it used to be), we were able to have a little wine tasting anyway when we discovered that Nichols Winery opened a tasting room right along Traffic Way!!!

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It's a really nice little place with some tables set up outside:

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And some nice artwork inside:

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The owner was pouring some really delicious wine:

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Mom and I ended up purchasing a couple bottles to enjoy this summer:

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Now all we need at this end of town is a nice little bistro or sandwich shop and we'd be set!

 


2008 Sweetheart Stroll

This afternoon was the annual Sweetheart Stroll in Atascadero, and because my mom and I love wine and chocolate, we walked up to the event to enjoy the beautiful spring-like day and check out what's going on downtown.

The answer? Not much. I know the downtown association is really really trying to make this a nice downtown - kinda like Paso Robles', which is beautiful! - but it's just not working. We arrived pretty early (about 1:20p.m.; the even ran from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.), but were dismayed to find very few people wandering around with wine glasses and wrist bands. In fact, it was a little embarrassing, and we almost didn't bother staying because it looked like it was going to be a complete bust.

In the end we decided, what the heck, and handed over our twenty bucks each, got our wrist band and wine glass, and headed off to drink some yummy vino.

Our first stop was Eberle Winery, which is one of my favourites, followed by a new winery  (for us, anyway), Silver Stone Winery. Their blush was delightful, and I'm not usually a fan of the rose!

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In fact, all the wines were delicious. We didn't come across a single one we disliked. Along with such favourites as Castoro Cellars and Cayucos Cellars, we discovered some wonderful new wineries as well: Cass Winery, D’Anbino Vineyards & Cellars, and Pierce Ranch Vineyards. (Oddly enough The Carlton hotel - the supposed gem of downtown Atascadero - had no wine tasting booth  - despite the fact that the owner has his own winery - or catering table like they had last year. I know the hotel is in trouble, but dang! I didn't realize it was THAT bad!)

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In the end, it turned out to be a great day. Many more people showed up as the afternoon went on, and we got to try lots of great new wines, nosh on delicious snacky foods and, of course, chocolate! We also checked out some of the businesses downtown and saw some beautiful jewelry, funky knick-knacks, gorgeous kitchen cabinets, and awesome faux-granite counter tops. Man, if I was rich, I'd have my whole kitchen redone with new cabinets and counter tops!! But, since I'm poor, I'll just have to dream. Besides, it looks like my fence will have to be replaced soon, so I guess I'll be saving my money for that hideous project.

Anyway, after making our way around to all the different wineries, businesses, artists and entertainers, mom and I headed home. It was so nice to get out of the house for a while and do something fun. I know we have a lot of work to do on the house and in the yard, so this might be the last fun thing we do for a while!

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Update List

13 Random Update-type Things

1. You know how when you come back from a fantastic vacation - like, oh, say, Hawai'i! - a few days later you fall into a deep melancholy? Yeah? That's exactly what happened to me when I got back from the Big Island. The past couple of weeks I've been depressed and frustrated and quick to anger. I hate it, but what can I do? I tried drinking, but that only made it worse. Kidding. Maybe. Luckily I spent last weekend in Fresno with my BFF Jewel, who was in town visiting her folks. I had a great time hanging out with her, visiting with her parents and older brother, and enjoying a scrumptous BBQ pork loin prepared by her dad!Sunday we went Power Shopping at Catherine's, Avenue, Lane Bryant and Torrid, and indulged in traditional and crab cake eggs Benedict at Mimi's Cafe (I got the crab cake one, Jewel got the regular one, and we shared them). There may or may not have been Weinerschnitzel chili cheese dog/burger involved, but I don't admit to anything.

2. Speaking of Hawai'i, I am still working on the final couple of journal entries about that fabulous trip, but the first three are up here, here and here. Enjoy! I still have to write about the evening at the Ranch and touring the Palace and Hawai'i's first Christian church, checking out St. Paul's Catholic Church and an nearby alter. I have no idea when I'll get those entries, done, but I promise you I will.

3. Also, the garden is growing by leaps and bounds! We've already harvested three green bell peppers and about four cucumbers - all of which were delicious, by the way! The tomatoes are coming on, and we have some zucchinis, but they don't seem to be thriving; they're kinda withering on the vine, so to speak. I think they might need to be pollenated. Also, the honeydew have tons of blossoms, but nothing that even remotely resembes a melon. Yet.

4. A couple weeks ago, mom and I went to the Atascadero Wine Festival, then I toured the Charles Paddock Zoo while she rested in the shade. It was a fun in-town escape from our usual weekend rut of walking up to the cafe formerly known at Carlene's for coffee and breakfast, getting groceries, buying plants for the garden, playing on the internet, napping all afternoon, cooking dinner, then going to bed. I plan to break the rut as much as possible this summer by planning a day trip to Santa Margarita Lake, going to Farmer's Market in Paso one Saturday, walking on the boardwalk along Moonstone Beach near Cambria and the newly completed one that runs from Pismo Beach to Grover Beach, and visiting Cayucos and Morro Bay just for the heck of it.

5. I know there's been a lot of talk about that new diet drug alli. Well, lemming that I am, I bought some. And, now, with all the bad press and scary news about it*, I'm terrified to try it. And, yet, I will. Because I bought it, and I'm too embarrassed to try to return it. So, I spent yesterday cleaning out the fridge, freezer and pantry in anticipation of starting alli - no more creamy, high-fat salad dressings (Farewell Lighthouse Thousand Island and Bleu Cheese! How I loved thee!), no more mayo (maybe light or fat free, but I'll have to look into it), no more regular Bumble Bee Tuna Salad kits, no more regular ice cream, and perhaps maybe no more Lean Pockets. I'm not sure. I'm also not sure about cooking with olive oil, or eating salmon or avacados. All I know is I can't eat any fat while taking alli, or whatever I've eaten will suddenly and horribly whoosh out of my body like a six-year-old shooting out of a water park slide. I'm planning on taking my first alli pill this Saturday. I figure the weekend will be a safe time to try it, as I will be home, and very close to a bathroom!

6. Yesterday I also cleaned out my closet to make room for all the fun new stuff I bought in Fresno: two pair of dressy capri pants, one pair of dressy bermuda shorts, and one white skirt. Yes, I bought a skirt (in a size 16, y'all!). I also bought two dresses. I've been feeling girlie lately, I guess. I also got a red tank top and brown cropped wrap cardigan to go with the bermuda shorts, and a white summer sweater to go with one of the dressy capri pants. I already have a couple tank tops that will match the colours in the pants, so I didn't need to buy anything new. I got a few black and white tops, too. I've seen a lot of black and white stuff lately, and really like it. I ended up getting two tops at Avenue (to go with the skirt, also from Avenue), three at Torrid (actually one, but I'm counting the other two I purchased on line not too long ago but long enought that I totally forgot about them) and the white sweater at Lanie B. Pretty much everything else is in combinations of my usual camoflaging earth tones - tan, brown, green, etc. The black and white is kind-of a bold move for me, but I'm excited to start wearing my new stuff!

7. I have not yet discussed wth TrainerDude about adding a Friday evening work out, but I plan to soon. He's hinted at it a couple times, so I don't think it'll be a schedulling conflict with him. I really hate to give up my Friday evening, though - that's when I get my mani/pedis, haircuts, etc. - but I really think I need that extra day of intense, physical, there's-no-wimping-out-of-this-work-out to jump start my fitness routine. I'm feeling a bit in a rut about it, and though I've lost weight, I think I can do better. I also plan to book lap times in the pool on Tuesdays and Thursdays (when I'm not mowing the lawn) for some different cardio. And also because I realized when I was in Hawai'i that my once-mad swimming skillz have faded with time. And, probably with the weight gain, too.

8. Last night I had a very strange, creepy crank phone call. Some guy called up, asked for me by name (though not by the name I go by now; the one that everyone except immidiate family and a very few friends call me, though they know I go by this other name now, but old habits die hard, and all that, so he obviously doesn't - or can't possibly - actually KNOW me), then when I asked who was calling, told me to guess. It's nearly 9:30 on a weeknight and I have to get up early to catch the bus to work, and this (pardon my French) asshole wants to play guessing games on the God-damn phone? Screw that! I told him no, I'm not guessing, and asked again who was calling. Once again he said, "Guess." I said, "I don't play guessing games." He didn't reply for about five seconds, so I hung up. I'm sure it was a totally random crank call, but I can't help being freaked out by it. I don't know very many men, and none of the ones I do know would call me up late at night and mess around with my head. At least I HOPE they wouldn't. I did not sleep well last night worrying that Phone Stalker might call again, or worse, actually be outside my damn house! Yes, I know it's totally unreasonable to be afraid like that, but it was just freaky, creepy and weird, and it's going to take me a couple of days for me to recover.

9. I'm still taking pictures of the lavender in the back yard. I'm not sure why I'm so fascinated with it, but I've been taking pictures all year and playing with them in both picnik and dumpr - my two fave photographic playgrounds. Why did I spend so much dang money on Photoshop? Why oh why? Both of these sites are ten times easier to use and they're free (so far)! Here's a couple examples of my work; the first manipulated in picnik, the other using dumpr:

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10. And speaking of pictures, I finally got some Hawai'i shots printed up and clipped on the Art Board:

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11. On the work front, things will be changing rather dramatically as The Kenyan is returning to his home country this weekend. For six. months. I'm trying not to be too freaked about it, because we are getting a temp (who is really super good, from what I hear), but I do feel a bit stressed about it, and just hope everything works out okay. I think I need to do some yoga breathing or something to calm down.

12. On a happier note, we basically have two Fridays this week, as we got off yesterday for 4th of July, so Tuesday felt like a Friday, then tomorrow we get our regularly-scheudled Friday! Fun, but confusing, because Tuesday felt like Friday, yesterday felt like Saturday, and today feels like Monday! I just hope I remembered to do everything I was supposed to do on THURSDAY!!

13. I'm running out of updates, so how 'bout another picture? These are some plumeria flowers from Hawai'i. Cheers!

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* Links via Elastic Waist.

Luaugirl


Atascadero Wine Festival

Yesterday mom and I went to the 12th Annual Atascadero Wine Festival. It was great fun! We hadn't been for a few years because I usually went to the CAPA Conference. Well, the Con was in San Diego this year, and I didn't have any time (or money) to travel down there to attend, so I went to the Wine Fest instead! It was, I can pretty much guarantee, much more fun! Read all about it here! Cheers!