How Our Cat Helped My Fiance Propose

Fiance? Fiancee? I never know, but I think the man gets one “e,” right?

Anyhow, I’m engaged. To be married. It’s so freaking exciting that sometimes I just smile to myself in a super creepy way while alone in my living room. There we go, I’m doing it right now. Creepy smile time.

Engaged

If you don’t give a flying monkey’s butt about gushy proposal stories, then tag yourself out of this post, because here comes the sappy…. I’ll give you a moment to decide… Done? Cool! Let’s talk about the proposal, because it was awesome, and adorable, and totally perfect.

OK, so for our 3-year-anniversary, E and I went to Ojai, which is about an hour and a half drive from our house. It’s all beautiful mountains, and quaint little country stores, and I heard Reese Witherspoon has a house there, so… so…

Yeah, so we went! And we stayed at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa (if you’re into all-inclusive things, then this is the place for you!). The first day we were there, we had some massages scheduled, and we decided to grab some food and celebratory cocktails before those happened. See that drink in the photo below? It was lavender lemonade with vodka or something, and it was glorious.

EngagedCocktail

It was so glorious, in fact, that promptly after drinking it we got in our spa robes, and I proceeded to fall asleep on one of the chaise lounges at the spa. (Note: While I was sleeping the drink off, E later told me that he was running through his proposal speech over and over again, so he’d get it right when he finally did propose. I was so day drunk! And blissfully unaware!)

So we get these massages, which were epic, and then hobble back to our hotel room. It was about 6 p.m., and we had dinner reservations at the hotel for 8 p.m. As I showered and blowdry’d the old hair, apparently E was busy tucking the ring inside his coat pocket, and having a mini panic attack (probably).

Something you discover about Ojai pretty quickly is that the people take great pride in their sunsets. They call it the “pink moment,” and our hotel even had a sign out front that predicted when the moment would happen. So we decided to try and go see it, because it was our anniversary, and sunsets are so romantical, and we’re cheesy as hell, OK?

My feet hurt, though. And it was a long walk up the hill to see that pink moment. So I flagged down a golf cart (yes, Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is all about golfing, and you can do things like hitchhike with one).

This probably disturbed E for two reasons:

  1. He had a plan, and this random golf cart driver didn’t know about that plan, and…
  2. Wow, it’s probably going to happen very quickly.

Luckily, this driver was a pro. Like, he knew exactly where to find that pink moment. When he first tried to drop us off, it was in a super crowded spot, and when E said, “Is there anywhere more private?” that probably should’ve tipped me off. But it didn’t. La di da, blissfully unaware still.

We eventually got to the top of a hill, where there was an enormous gazebo with floor-to-ceiling windows that offered a panoramic view of the mountains, about to be dusted in pink. We were alone, inside the gazebo, staring off into the sunset, when E turned me around so he could give me his proposal speech.

I’m not going to recite the actual speech, because it was very personal, and made me cry, and I don’t want other people sobbing while reading, but I WILL share the most important part of that speech. Which is that at one point, E told me he’d been talking to Fish (our cat) about our future together, and they’d both come to an agreement. At this point, I had no idea what was going on, I thought he was just being gushy. But then he pulled out his phone, and showed me this picture…

CatRing

It was our baby kitty girl! And a ring! And she was next to it! And A RING.

I started sobbing. Just like, balling my eyes out. I cried so much that I didn’t even notice E get down on one knee and ask, “Will you marry me?” He had to ask me again, once I’d pulled myself a little more together. But I was so surprised, like, I don’t know how to explain the feeling of your heart exploding into other little hearts, but that’s what happened to me. I really was so overwhelmed with joy and love that it manifested in me sobbing through most of the proposal.

One of the first things I said AFTER the “yes!!” was “This is so weird, right?! I mean, how weird is this?!” Getting engaged is WEIRD. Like, why don’t more people talk about this? It’s probably one of the strangest moments of joy you’ll ever encounter. One minute your life is one way, and the next a ring on your finger means a total relationship shift.

I had no idea what to do.I called my mom. She was watching The Messengers, and tried to usher me off the phone so she could get back to it. Then when she realized what I was saying, I think she went into shock, as did my Dad. E said, “If you’re too emotional to eat, we can get room service,” to which I said, “Oh no, we’re eating!” I knew that I wanted to celebrate, and I knew that I wanted to remember the rest of that night. We got complimentary champagne and desserts — PRO TIP: TELL EVERYONE YOU JUST GOT ENGAGED, AND ALL THINGS ARE FREE — and watched the pink moment turn into a lovely, starry sky.

EngagementRing

OK, that’s the end of the sappy proposal story. We spent the rest of the weekend wine tasting, and eating, and telling our friends the good news. Oh, and we watched an episode of Game of Thrones when we got back, so that’s really just the icing to a perfect weekend, right?

Happy Anniversary, E!

E and I are celebrating our 3-year anniversary this weekend! ::: cue choir of angels flying down from heaven to sing, “Thank you, Sweet Sassy Christ” :::

I’m very lucky to have someone like E, who makes me laugh, knows how to cheer me up whenever I’m feeling down, can cook some SERIOUSLY bomb steak, looks super cute when cuddling with our cat, is an absolutely fantastic writer, and most importantly: is an EXCELLENT dancer.

While going through old photos, I found these gems from my 28th birthday party in 2013. That was the first birthday I celebrated with E, and we went to this really awesome dive bar by my then-apartment in West Hollywood.
moredance

By that time, I already knew the truth: E is hands down a truly genius dancer. There’s really no way to describe it, and the photos certainly don’t do it justice. But you can kind of get a sense of his skills by how happy I look here, right?

 

dance

Three years and he still makes me smile every single day — I hope and try to do the same thing for him. Happy anniversary, E!

dancey

Words Everyone Should Live By

You never know where the hell you’ll find inspiration. For me it was this past week when I went to get a new haircut.

My hairdresser had this Nelson Mandela quote at her station. She’d written it down on a notecard, and stuck it in the frame of her mirror. I have no idea what it means to her, but I know what it meant to me when I first read it.

Nelson MandelaWhen I saw this, it made me think back on all of the choices I’ve made in my life that felt like a leap of faith — convincing my parents that studying writing in college could lead to an actual paying job, quitting my coveted job as an assistant on a TV show (The Secret Circle, RIP) to start my career writing online, moving from New York to Los Angeles without a job lined up (or an apartment, for that matter).

I can also distinctly remember dating in my early twenties, and how many shitty relationships I stayed in for way too long because I was afraid of being alone.

I guess the major difference is when I remember the choices I made out of fear, I always regret them. I can’t think of any decisions I made based on hope that I now regret.

What choices changed your life for the better? I want to know! Inspire me!

9 Reasons Why Sheila Is Nailing This Mom Thing

I realize this is a bold statement. I mean — moms are cool, in general, and we’re blessed to have so many of them. But if you disagree with the above claim, then you clearly have never met Sheila La Rosa.

There literally aren’t enough ways to count why Sheila is the best, but I’ll condense into the…

Top 9 Ways Sheila Rocks This Mom Thing:

1. My Mom is actually the hardest working person I’ve ever known. Because she’s Irish — and Irish people are frugal as all hell — my grandparents never gave her any handouts. She paid her own way through college and nursing school to become a RN in the emergency room, and she’s made certain to never have any debts. In fact, when she went to apply for a credit card in her thirties — up to then, she only ever paid for everything in cash — they wouldn’t give her one because she had no debts or credit to her name. Fun times!

She taught me to love science and not just be good at things, but to be the best at things. I only work as hard as I do now because of her example.

The La Rosas are hot stuff on infrared light.

A photo posted by Erin La Rosa (@sideofginger) on

 

2. She pushed my brother and me OUT OF HER BODY. I realize this is not unique, as most moms experience this, but come on — she pushed TWO BABIES OUT. That’s saying something. fam

3. Sheila La Rosa is hilarious. Seriously, she’s the best storyteller I know. One of my friends came to visit our house one Christmas, and after my mom told a story about sending my brother and me to Montessori school as kids, and what a harrowing experience that was, my friend was crying from laughter. She said, “I totally get it now — I see where you get your sense of humor from.” sheshe

4. On that note, my mom is the original queen of SHADE. If you need proof, skip to 1:10 of this tequila taste test video we did for BuzzFeed.  

5. Did I mention how glam my Mom is?mum

I mean, that blond hair, those shades, her porcelain skin… mom

She deserves her own reality show, if not her own network, magazine, and lifestyle blog. She gives new meaning to “Mombod” and “Mom Style.” Basically, she’s the epitome of #MomGoals.

 

6. Oh, and she beat breast cancer. Yeah, she kicked breast cancer’s ass! momma

7. Sheila taught me the importance of chutzpah (she grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Queens, hence chutzpah). My Mom has always loved real estate and when I was a kid, we used to sneak into houses that were under construction. If we were caught (and we often were), she’d think of an excuse on the spot, “Oh, I was hoping to speak with the architect — I’m building my own home and just love the tile work.” I’ve talked my way into more things than I can say without incriminating myself, including a few under-construction homes of my own, all because of my Mom’s chutzpah.  

Off to Catalina with Bill and Sheila. ⚓️

A photo posted by Erin La Rosa (@sideofginger) on

 

8. My Mom knows how to have a good time. Every Christmas, she and my dad host a holiday party, and every July 4th she has all of her friends over for barbecue to watch the fireworks set off over the water. Mommy

9. And probably the most important reason of all reasons as to why my Mom is the greatest is that she managed to raise my brother and I into fairly upstanding adults. 

My family. At my cousin’s wedding. Bringing all the damn fierceness. A photo posted by Erin La Rosa (@sideofginger) on


My brother perhaps a little more so than me, as he’s now a doctor and all!

Happy Mother’s Day to the world’s best mom!! Thank you for making me who I am today. I love you so very much.

Happen to agree that Sheila is the best?! Let her know in the comments!

On My Life As A Writing Impostor

I recently read this non-fiction book called The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison, which I really loved. It’s a book of essays about a lot of things, like the author communicating with a prison penpal and trying to understand what his life is like, Leslie’s one-time job as a medical actor and having to elicit empathy from the med students, dating a poet in New Orleans and dealing with the way he described his feelings…

Leslie also talks at length about being a writer. She says the phrase, “while writing this essay,” frequently in the book, and acknowledges that her job is writing.

This bothered me.

I also realized that in Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please, it had bothered me when Amy referenced writing a book, or the act of having to write and how hard it was. That bothered me even more.

But why did it bug me? What is so wrong with someone acknowledging that they are a writer when, in fact, I’m reading their book? It’s not some secret. It’s a book. I’m reading it. They wrote it. So why not mention that they’re a writer? It’s part of their life, and I was reading about their life.

I’ve thought about this a lot, and the problem isn’t Leslie or Amy, it’s me. I’ve always been uncomfortable calling myself a writer. So when I see other people do it so effortlessly, it pains me, because I wish I could do that too.

Having a reading of a musical I’m developing with @lydjaaah and @jhotogo today. (Squeeee!!)

A photo posted by Erin La Rosa (@sideofginger) on

I remember when I first moved to LA, I went to lunch with a successful musician friend —successful in that he gets paying gigs regularly and that’s his sole source of income. Anyway, I was asking his advice on what to do with my life: I wanted to be a writer, but how? And was it even possible? I just wanted to be paid to write full-time. That was my dream. ~The dream~

He told me something so important. He said, “Stop saying you want to be a writer, and say that you are a writer. You are a writer.”

He told me that if I wanted to get jobs — and I did — then I shouldn’t tell people I was “an aspiring writer,” because no one wants to hire an aspiring anything. They want to hire the real thing.

I took his advice, and the more I started cover letters with “I’m a writer,” the more I got paid to write. When people asked what I did for a living, I answered, “I’m a writer,” even if I only had one paying job that month, and even when I was in grad school, working to become a writer and felt so far away from success. “I’m a writer” became part of my conversations. But every time I said it, I felt like an impostor. My friend told me, essentially, to fake it till I made it, and that’s exactly how I still feel a lot of the time: like I’m a fake.

I was so bothered by this recently that I actually Googled “writing impostor” LOL. Like, what the hell was I expecting to find, really?! I’m not sure, but what I did find was this article on The Hairpin, quite literally titled, “Do You Have Impostor Syndrome?” I clicked the shit out of that.

Turns out that the author, Jazmine Hughes, was describing exactly how I felt. She had her work published places, she’s an editor and writer, and yet… is that enough?

I’ve written for BuzzFeed, Funny or Die, Ecorazzi, E!, and Storychord, among other places. My dream of being paid to write is actually happening for me. I am paid to write. So… aren’t I a writer now? Yeah… but I just still feel so much phoniness even typing that. It helped to see that “Impostor Syndrome” is actually a thing. It was comforting to read other people’s experiences with it (including some of my BuzzFeed colleagues’), and know that I’m NOT ALONE. But to be honest, I’m still not entirely sure what it would take for me to say the words “I’m a writer” and feel confident in that.

Maybe I’ll never feel truth in those words, because being a writer has been the thing I’ve wanted my entire life. I’ve built it up so much, that maybe nothing will ever be quite good enough. Regardless, I will always remember my friend’s advice: say you’re a writer. You are a writer. Fake it.

So, hello, my name is Erin La Rosa. I’m a writer. (We’re in this together if you also have these feels.)

The Easiest and Prettiest 5-Minute Salad You’ll Ever Make

I’m half Italian, which means half of my body is made entirely of mozzarella cheese and tomato. Which is exactly why this is one of my favorite salads to make. (It can be a starter salad, or a full-on meal, depending on how many layers you make!)

Tomato and MozzarellaI LOVE fresh mozzarella. The stringed kind is fucking great too, but there’s really nothing better than the fresh stuff. It’s delicate, soft, and pairs super well with tomatoes.

A tomato and mozzarella salad is really light but also incredibly tasty. (I actually had this one for dinner last night, because we’d had a heavy BBQ lunch.) Plus, it looks so pretty on a plate that people will think you’re some kind of chef unicorn and assume you put a lot of time and effort into this salad. It literally takes 5 minutes, maybe 3 if you’re an EXPERT.

Did I mention the ingredients you need to buy are just really tomato and fresh mozzarella? (Assuming you have all the other stuff.)

Here’s what you’ll need:

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad (serves 2):
  • 1 container of fresh mozzarella in water (look for one that has 2 sizable mozzarella balls, not the ones with a munch of minis!)
  • 2 red, ripe tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon of balsamic vinaigrette
Directions:
  1. Wash tomatoes thoroughly, then cut them into smallish flat slices. (Each slice should look like a pizza pie crust, because pizza is great.)
  2. Remove the mozzarella balls from the water, and cut them into slices.
  3. Take out a plate and layer your salad with a mozzarella slice, then tomato, mozzarella slice, then tomato. (Each plate should get 1 mozzarella ball, and one fully sliced tomato.)
  4. Sprinkle your masterpiece with plenty of pepper.
  5. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over each plate.
  6. Drizzle a tablespoon of balsamic over each place.
  7. Finish with a sprinkling of salt over everything. (I use a lot of salt, but I really love salt.)
  8. Garnish with basil or fresh spinach if you’re feeling fancy.

Anyone who eats this at your table will think you’re the fanciest cook ever, I promise. Plus, it tastes so fresh and wonderful. Enjoy!

9 Things My Cat and I Currently Disagree On

Fish is stubborn. Which can be an amazing quality, and also a terribly misguided one. She’s basically on that, “I am right, you’re totally wrong, and you’re lucky to breathe the same air as me” grind.

For example…

1. Fish is under the impression that instead of simply using her litter box, (the way a human would, for example, use a toilet each time they needed a bathroom), that she also has free rein to use the rug in our bedroom as a de facto litter box. She is simply wrong about this, as our rug is A RUG, and not meant to be soiled on.

2. Fish believes that when she brings one of her cat toys into the bed at 3 a.m., that I will happily wake up, play with her for a solid 30 minutes, and easily doze back to sleep. In fact, that’s not the case at all. I’m not sure where or how she came by this misinformation.

3. When I eventually DO wake up in the morning, Fish will follow behind and meow loudly on a loop, because she thinks that if she takes a breath and stops meowing EVEN FOR A SECOND, that I will no longer offer her food. In some ways, her meows do indeed make me move faster, but I would perhaps provide even more food if she stopped yelling at me.

4. Fish is convinced that outside of our apartment door lies a portal to another dimension where there is endless belly rubs, fresh tuna, and trees that undoubtedly (IF CLIMBED) offer a stairway to cat paradise. She likes to attempt escapes every time I come home from work, and will often succeed. What she fails to remember, is that outside of our door there are no rugs to poop on.

5. Fish thinks my hands, nose, ankles, calves, and jewelry are all OK to bite, because they are in fact her toys. These are actually my body parts/toys, and she couldn’t be more wrong.

6. I attempted to eat some Oreos while watching TV, and upon seeing these, she became convinced that they were delicious, and hers, and MUST have them. While Oreos are vegan, they are not for cats.

7. Fish has long believed that by standing on at least one of my boobs while I try and fall asleep, that I will, in turn, want to pet her. She doesn’t seem to connect me pushing her off the bed to this belief.

8. Fish is certain that the shower is an evil monster, and that by standing outside of it and pacing, I will be released. This is half correct, and also half baked.

9. Perhaps the theory that Fish is most confused by is her hypothesis that when she stares out the window at the street below, that she’s also wearing an invisibility cloak and no one can see her. E and I disproved this theory the other night as we came home from dinner and saw her silhouette, watching, waiting, and most likely laughing at us.

Me Versus The Merlot

sawyerwine

The above is a photo of the 2002 Merlot I bought while drunkenly wine tasting with my BFF in Napa two years ago. It was a lot of money for me at the time, a little over $60, but I decided to splurge because A) again, drunk, and B) I wanted to use it as creative incentive. (In other words, once I accomplished something REALLY amazing, I’d drink it.)

In 2013, I got a book deal. It was exciting and arguably a time when I could’ve opened the Merlot, but I didn’t. I decided to drink it when the book sold to a publisher, because getting a deal wasn’t QUITE amazing enough. But then months went by, and my book deal was dropped. (It happens, but it also broke my heart in a lot of ways.)

It took me about a month to get past the dropped book deal and find a new project to focus on. That project was and still is a musical I’m currently working on with two wonderful friends of mine. It’s been such a creative and interesting process for me, and I’m so excited to keep seeing it through.

But musicals take time, especially since our producer and musician are both on the east coast. And as the months have ticked by and the musical is still being workshopped and re-written, this Merlot has sat, like some plum-faced ogre on our bar cart brought into this world to mock me. Fucking smug wine.

As some of you may have noticed, I stopped blogging on this page altogether in May. Because the wine was staring at me, and because I hadn’t made ENOUGH progress, I decided to take a blogging break and focus on the musical. But I missed blogging. I really missed having that other creative outlet where I could write about my life and share what’s going on.

And so, the Merlot began to feel less and less celebratory to me, and more like that toxic friend who makes you feel bad about ordering fries. It was a reminder that I’d failed; that I’d lost my book deal. It reminded me that I hadn’t hit a milestone that was important enough. It made me feel like shit, essentially.

I feel like a fucking asshole to even say that a WINE BOTTLE, an inanimate object, has been making me feel bad — I do realize that I’m projecting a lot of things into this poor Merlot. But to be honest, it just does. I’ve had this bottle for two years now, and I’m a rather impatient person. Shouldn’t I have accomplished something by now? Shouldn’t I have published something that is just mine? That’s what the Merlot makes me ask myself every time I see it.

Yes, a book deal fell through, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. I’m going to keep reminding myself of these things:

  • I’ve written a full draft of a musical, and we’re about 70% of the way to having a finished product with that.
  • I’ve joined a writer’s group and we meet every other week to discuss each other’s work. I’ve workshopped short stories there and found a group of women who support each other and are so insanely talented.
  • I started this blog, and I don’t want to feel bad about taking time to write on it.
  • I’m working at a job I love and get to go to everyday. And this past week, I got a promotion from Senior Editor to Deputy Editorial Director. (My Mom asked me, “Who’s the Sheriff?” when I told her.)

I decided this week that I’m no longer going to let this fucking bottle of wine make me feel bad about myself. Yes, it’s good to have goals, and I will keep those, but I won’t allow this wine to be a reminder of my failures. I will no longer be paralyzed by the memory of the book deal, and I won’t continue to dwell on it. I’m ready to move on.

So tonight, E is cooking steak. And we’re going to open that fucking bottle of 2002 Merlot that I have been saving to celebrate with, and I’m going to celebrate my promotion, and I’m not going to let anyone (or anything, rather) make me feel like I haven’t accomplished anything.

I’ve let go of toxic friends in the past when I realized they were dragging me down and making me feel useless, and I’m happy to say that I will be drinking this Merlot until it is gone and throwing out the bottle in the morning so I never have to feel like a failure again.

If any of you have something (or someone) in your life that’s preventing you from moving forward, I hope you know that I can now provide words of encouragement to get rid of it sooner rather than later! I just can’t believe I’ve kept this bottle for so long, and I wish I’d drank it down sooner. Here’s to feeling happy again, and to more blogging. xo

Easy Weekend Getaway From LA: Wine Tasting in Solvang

I used to think the closest (and best) place to go wine tasting was in Napa. I’ve been to Napa. There are many, many vineyards there, and with a quick flight to San Francisco and an hour bus ride, you’re there.

I was wrong. I was so unforgivably wrong.

Wine Collection

Behold! 13 handsome bottles of Syrah, Cabernet (red AND white! Yes, WHITE cab!), Pinot Noir and Grigio, Bouchet, Albariño, Sauvignon Blanc, and a Grenache. All of them are so delicious we had to buy them, and all are from Santa Barbara wine country but, more specifically, from the Santa Ynez Valley.

What is the Santa Ynez valley, you didn’t ask? I’ll tell you, because when I was looking to do wine tasting over a long weekend without having to fly, I had to do some freaking homework. The Santa Ynez Valley is about thirty minutes past downtown Santa Barbara, and it consists of Solvang (where we stayed), Los Olivos, Buellton, Ballard, and Santa Ynez. You can stay in any of these towns and get to vineyards easily (I’d recommend Los Olivos or Solvang, for cuteness reasons), but we decided to stay in Solvang, and I’ll tell you why.

For starters, we booked things last minute and Solvang had more options than any of the other towns. (And by more options, I mean everything was booked solid, and there was literally one option left, and that was the Mirabelle Inn.)

Mirabelle

Luckily, Mirabelle is an amazing little boutique B&B. It’s a nine room hotel and within walking distance of downtown Solvang. The staff gave us a complimentary mini bottle of champagne upon arrival, and every room comes with a fireplace. They also made our stay incredibly easy and relaxing: they book wine tours, massages, and dinner reservations for you. And every morning there’s complimentary breakfast, and it’s actually delicious.

Solvang

The town of Solvang itself is kitschy: it’s modeled after Denmark and has a high number of Danes in the area. Clogs and functioning windmills were BOUNTIFUL. But perhaps the best thing about the town are all of the tasting rooms that line the streets (our favorite was Lucas & Lewellen, and we ended up going back the next day).There are also delicious bakeries offering Danish treats. If you go, definitely try the Napoleon Hats, which are shortbread cookies lined with chocolate and a marzipan filling… I’m drooling.

Solvang closes early, like 7 p.m., but the restaurants stay open until 10 (ha! but seriously). I’d recommend making reservations in advance. I’d read online somewhere to do this, and I’m glad we did. Things get crowded, because everything else is closed, and we wouldn’t have been able to eat had we not made rezzys.

One place that was walking distance from Mirabelle was the Succulent Cafe. I’d read on Yelp about it, and the free biscuits, and was sold. Admittedly, the free biscuits were not outstanding, but if it’s free, it’s me. And the food and interiors more than made up for all that.

Inside it’s all dark wood and shelves upon shelves of wine. We started off dinner with a cheese and meat plate, and finished with some amazing pork belly. The waitress was attentive, but also let us take our time. We sat in the restaurant for two hours, and split a bottle of wine. It was nice. AND! And. We made it back to Mirabelle in time to catch the Hannibal finale. It was a good night.

Succulent Cafe SolvangWe wound up eating out in other parts of town on Saturday and Sunday, like in Los Olivos, where I had a life changing tri-tip sandwich at a diner, and absolutely perfect shrimp pasta at Trattoria Grappolo in Santa Ynez. We took cabs whenever we went out at night, mainly because we had more wine drinking to do. It’s really not a long drive to any of these places, and the locals at the restaurants are super friendly. (We befriended a vineyard owner at Grappola, who shared wine from his home with us. It made me feel special.)

All of this and I haven’t even mentioned the reason for which we actually came: the wine tasting.

E man.jpgIn both Solvang and Los Olivos there are plenty of tasting rooms. A tasting room is exactly what the name suggests: a room where you can stand and taste. There are bartenders (nee, bartenders extraordinaires), who know a lot about the wines and will pour you sizable tastes of the wine that are roughly 1/6 of a glass. If you like something, you can buy a full bottle, it’s not a bad business model.

Los Olivos definitely has a little more atmosphere with their rooms, and many of them offer patios and lush gardens where you can sit on an adirondack chair and sip to your hearts content.

I would highly recommend signing up for a guided tour, though. Mirabelle booked our tour through Stagecoach, and it was a full day experience that totally made our trip. From 11 until 5 p.m., we were shuttled around in a small bus with two other couples and a guide named Lee who knew the area and vineyards very well. He took us to Dierberg Vineyard, where there was live music and a patio overlooking the absolutely stunning hills. We stayed there for an hour and tried about six wines.

Then there was lunch and wine tasting at Bella Cavalli farms, which had beautiful horse stables on the property (I made a new colt friend named Steve).

Horsies

My new BFF, Steve.

And our last two stops were the Qupe tasting room in Los Olivos (it wasn’t much in terms of views, but the wine was delish), followed by Brander.

The Brander vineyard was very neat; an old property with vines that are close to 100 years old. You sit in a shaded courtyard and the family who owns the vineyards talks to you about the wine while they pour. We had enough time there to walk through the vineyard itself with a glass, and that was pretty magical.

We ended up buying four bottles from Brander. Granted, it was our last stop and it could’ve been the wine talking, but… hey, now we can kind of say that we have a wine “collection,” or something.

Wine Tasting Los Olivos

If given the chance to go again, I totally would. So, basically, if you’re down to drive to the Santa Ynez Valley, let me know and I’ll meet you there. (Not even joking. Not even a little bit.)

Happy Caturday: Earthquake Cat Kit Edition

Earthquake Cat Kit

You know you’re a crazy cat lady if… you buy your cat an earthquake kit. And I did. I really did.

Let me explain: While E was out of town filming his pilot, I had the unfortunate luck of experiencing not one but two earthquakes while I was alone in our apartment. The first happened one morning around 6 a.m., and it shook out bedroom and bed hard enough that I woke up to being rattled around. Fish, being the clever girl that she is, darted from the room and took cover somewhere.

The second earthquake happened one Friday night while I was enjoying some Pho soup and a sad double feature of August: Osage County and Philomena with the exquisite Dame Judi Dench. I was on the couch when once again the room started to rattle, and Fish leaped for cover.

I’m from Florida, where we have hurricane parties every time the weather forecast predicts a big one, so I’m really NOT the type to panic. But something in me snapped with that second one (my sanity, perhaps?), and I immediately found earthquake kits online.

Open Earthquake Kit

At first, I just bought a kit for E and I. It’s a big bucket filled with preserved food, boxed water, and all manner of safety equipment. (And it also has a toilet lid, so you can use it to poop in. I really hope I never have to use that lid.)

But then I thought, what about Fish? What do cats do when an earthquake hits? Would she eat the preserved food we had or simply turn on us and eat us in our sleep? I google cat kits, just for fun, and was quite surprised to find many animal earthquake kits.

Fish

The one I ordered was a “deluxe” kit, and came in a bucket (no toilet lid), with dried cat food, a cat toy, water boxes, a pet first aid kit, a rope (?!?), and a pop-up water and food bowl.

The most curious item inside was a metal dog leash. I have no idea how this would help. I don’t know how it got inside the cat kit. But now we have a dog leash, just in case we meet a dog friend in the earthquake apocalypse.
Earthquake Supplies

There were also some glow sticks, in case we lose power, and a rather sensible bejeweled cat collar. (Perhaps the dog leash attaches to this collar? And perhaps she’d actually allow us to walk her on it? Doubtful, but still.)

Earthquake Kit Supplies

 

Fish inspected the lot herself. After all, in an emergency she will be depending on it. In the end, though, I think she was rather unimpressed.
FishyDoes getting a cat earthquake kit make me a touch insane? Yes, just a bit. But it does give me that placebo calming effect, which is really what these kits are intended to do. My biggest issue with the kit was really lack of a portable litter box. Though I suppose she could always use our toilet seat bucket…