Napa & Sonoma Part One …. And Some Big News (finally!) :)

Hello, All!!! Wow, so much has happened in just a couple weeks… I’m not sure even where to begin!!! I am coming off working nearly every darn day this past week and weekend, so bear with me as I type as a victim of far too much caffeine consumption on this lazy afternoon. It took exactly three cups of coffee to nurse that nursing hangover (which is such a thing, I promise).

I have debated whether to share my final grad school decision in this post or in the next one. Let’s be real, I don’t have that type of patience to wait….. so I’ll just share right here, right now… You know that last school I was waiting to here from?! Well verdict is in….I WAS ACCEPTED! I was accepted into my #1 choice program for MSN- Duke School of Nursing! My DNP portion (Doctorate of Nursing Practice) is still under review, but that affects me more in a couple years (from MSN into DNP).

What does this mean?! 

Well, DJ and I will be staying in California! I am so relieved because neither of us felt like it was quite time to fly the Cali coop just yet. He is loving his job more and more by day, and I’ve grown pretty attached to our new lives we have built. We know it’s not forever, but it just feels so premature to leave now- DJ’s sister JUST moved out here, we love our Church, and….. Peet’s. I mean Peet’s… come n’ now. How can I leave my love just yet? I have been having serious chats with God saying if we are supposed to stay please make this a possibility with Duke. Nashville was terribly tempting, but we always say, “Hey if we wanna move there one day, then we will make it happen!”. I’ll be doing their distance based program which means I will be flying to NC every now and again for on campus intensives, but my clinicals will be at a local hospital and classwork online.

I probably won’t make a formal announcement anywhere else until I officially send back the acceptance letter, but I couldn’t wait any longer to tell y’all. Thank you for allll your prayers, words of encouragement, and pep talks since OCTOBER. From the GRE to the exhaustive applications to the interviews, to the waiting, waiting, waiting… it’s meant so much that y’all have had my back.

Now, back to our main course. Sooo guess what? We did the whole “wine country” thing last weekend! I worked hard into Friday March 9th so that I could have the whole weekend off and Monday as well. On Saturday, the 10th, I poured an extra cup o jo’ and dodged off to Sonoma to meet my mom and stepdad, Pete, in the quaint area of Glen Ellen.

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They rented this SUPER adorable Air BnB for the weekend. We kept saying we could live there! If you want specifics on this place, I’d be happy to share with you…. highly recommend if you need somewhere to stay in Sonoma for a couple nights at an affordable price!

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We wasted not one beat and headed to our first stop (well my first stop- my Mom & Pete had a whole day of ‘splorin’ already under their belt). This gorgeous, serene place below is Ledson Winery.

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Downton Abbey vibes? Yeah, me too.

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I’m going to include quite a bit of detail about the wines for my own reference next time we go and for any other fellow oeniphiles (lovers of wine). If you don’t care, then just feel free to skip over all the wordiness 😆

We did a fantastic tasting and found our favorites from this winery included their Bordeaux blend (Good lawd, so tasty) & their steel barrel Chardonnay. I don’t like Chardonnay usually at all, but I relished in the flavor of the steel barrel one. It’s lighter on the tongue, more like a pinot grigio, and leaves out the oakiness. (bahahaha, like how I act like I know what I’m talking about from a couple days in wine country?! Feel free to correct my amateur knowledge). The Bordeaux wasn’t on the tasting list, but the very knowledgable and passionate sommelier gave us a sample off the menu. This sample translated into one of the greatest sips of wine we have ever tried. The flavor just lingered and lingered. Since at this point I know I am officially starting grad school this fall, I asked DJ if my reward for graduating grad school could be a bottle of Bordeaux. Only two years away, y’all! (Maybe 3.5 years if I get into the DNP program).

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The two cutest Texans in all of Wine Country!

img_0415We then zipped over to Jacuzzi winery, a famous stop in Sonoma with a cute gift-shop, oil tasting store, and winery all in one (AKA all you need… it’s like the 7-11 of all wineries… although I have a feeling they may feel offended by that comparison).

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Half way through the tasting, DJ waltzed through the door! (PS. when he reads this later he’s gonna say… “Why did you use the word waltz? I didn’t waltz!” Just like he doesn’t like when I use the word frolic for verbiage. LOL).  Thennnn he’s gonna say I always make him look like a grump in my blog posts… Babe, we all know you are the life of the party, okurrrrr?

He had to work Saturday, so we left at different times, but we were stoked he was able to join in!

Review of Jacuzzi- To be honest, none of their wines “wowed” us like Ledson’s did. Plus their server was a bit more aloof (we discovered the person serving can make or break the experience!). I think we had more fun trying out their oils than their wines.

Directly across the street from Jacuzzi winery is the famous Cline Family Cellars. It feels as though you step onto the grounds of Charleston. Sheep graze along the drive in and willows cascade the entire property.

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I wish I was half as photogenic as she is!

We actually ended up buying bottles here because they were decently priced and absolutely superb. They also waive the tasting fee if you purchase, so it made sense. We loved both the Cashmere white and red blends. The red blend reminded me of a nice smooth cab.

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For dinner, we headed back to Jack London Village and decided to try their promisingly authentic Indian restaurant.

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Yeti is a tiny little unassuming Indian and Nepalese restaurant overlooking the vast Sonoma landscape. The hot (hot as in knock ya dead spicy- just how we like it) food was a perfect contrast to the new cool briskness that started taking over the evening.

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We started with our favorite appetizers, Samosas, with a few chutney options. (Mmmm). Watch out for the red one though- it’ll get ya!

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My mom and I split a couple entrees. We typically do this when we go out because there are always two that we can’t decide between. First we tried the Shahi Prawn Tandoori that was presented sizzlin’ sizzlin’ away.

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We also split the Began Bharta (eggplant). I couldn’t decide which I liked better. They both were phenomenal.

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The men both ordered the classic, never fails ya, Chicken Tikka Masala.

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We ordered everything with a side of perhaps the best naan I have ever had, white rice, and brown rice.

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After, we stopped by the near grocery store to pick up some sweet treats. My mom and I still can’t shake how bomb the grocery store soft homemade sea salt caramels were. Dang, I really should have packed a bunch for the road. First stop when we go back to wine country: The local Glen Allen grocery store for some caramels!!!

Unfortunately, something didn’t agree with Pete that night and he was out for the count through the next day 🙁 What we all did agree on is that it’s a perfect excuse for them to make another trip out sometime soon to make up for that lost time!

In the morning of Sunday March 11th, momma Jill and I did a hard workout in the little sunroom for about an hour. We were going to run together, but it was far too bitter. She did yoga and I did a youtube cardio workout. I just love love love working out with her! She motivates me.

After, my mom made a delicious spread of cheeses, crackers, berries, eggs, bacon, toast, and coffee. My mom and I made our favorite avocado toast with egg whites, sea salt, pepper, and some paprika and cumin on top. Since it’s getting warmer out again I have been loving this in the mornings.

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We packed up the rest of the cheese and crackers (and beyond satiable fig jam) with us to our wineries for the day!

The drive alone made us all giddy with excitement. The views are truly breathtaking with fog resting on the tree tops and vast miles of forest. The closest beauty I have ever seen was probably  Big Sur or Tahoe (well if we are talking US.. obviously Bora Bora wins the gold medal). Wait, Grand Canyon too. But that’s like next level. Ugh, I don’t know. It’s all so pretty!

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We were in for a treat. Feeling as though we were trespassing, we snaked in through a metal gate, by a few gargoyles, and onto a long drive that led straight to a castle. Yes, a castle.

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This unique winery is none other than Castello Di Amorosa.  In this moment I realized wine country is not simply vineyards lined up with exorbitantly priced bottles of vino. It is matter of fact, adult Disneyland. I know I said Trader Joe’s held that title a few weeks ago. I recant that statement. It’s wine country. Trader Joe’s is like Cedar Point…. Wine Country is Disneyland. Each winery has it’s own history, ambiance, specific wine it’s known for, and grounds to explore.

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The fog from the morning lifted, the sun started warming the grounds, and the peacocks came out to play.

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How’s about I just let these pictures speak for themselves?!

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We did the general admission and headed down to their actual cellar for the tastings. We were greeted by an enthusiastic Italian man. His thick accent and the cellar lined with wines and pasta could easily trick one into thinking they are in the heart of Italy.

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We ended up buying their La Fantasia. This is a late harvest dessert wine, and me oh my is it everrrr delicious. DJ and I both loved it (and I’m not even a fan of dessert wine). We decided we would open it up on the premiere of the Bachelorette (LOL). Seriously though, can you think of a better occasion?!

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Next we headed to a winery that was pretty modest aesthetically compared to the other wineries we had been to. It was not a stone mansion, nor a grand estate. It almost had more of an office feel when you walked in the door. We discovered quickly that they didn’t need anything to stand out, simply because their views and wines did. We all agreed Rombauer had the hands down, glasses up, best wines of any we had tried (and even after the next couple wineries we went to we still stand by that).

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Every single one we tried, wine after wine, was a wine-ner. I’m not a fan of Zinfandels, but I loved Rombauer’s. It was absolutely magical. I still am not sure why we didn’t purchase it (yet another reason to go back).

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Even their walls are educational- how bough dat’

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The aficionado showed us 3D maps of wine country, gave us an explanation of where the grapes grow, and helped explain which foods would pair best with what we were having.

When we got to the dessert wines, he explained blue cheese was the perfect compliment. My mom and I exchanged knowing looks and both said, “We have some in the car!”. He said it was totally fine to bring it in, so we whipped out our cheese and crackers, had that delicious dessert wine with blue cheese, and made some new friends from Nevada who helped us munch it all down.

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I guess I’ll stop here for now. I have to say, I’m even more excited for the next post. I already have all the pictures uploaded, but wanted to avoid crashing your tablet again, Rossy. Hahah. Hopefully this is somewhat short enough to not mess with anyone’s technology, but looking back I have to admit to myself it’s still pretty stinking long. Oh well! All’s well that ends … with wine.

xo <3

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64 thoughts on “Napa & Sonoma Part One …. And Some Big News (finally!) :)

  1. you have such stunning, magical post…Secondly, you have a unique approach to include your story and adventure…My parents were both happy to read over your presentation, you brought a precious memory!!

  2. A blog after a long time! Missed you. Loved this one too.your Mom is gorgeous as ever. The trip was obviously awesome. And your bnb was amazing. Specially I loved the fact that you enjoyed Pakistani food. (Yes ours is similar.) I’m so glad you like tikka and freshly baked naans. Really enjoyed your post very much. Wishing you all that you wish yourself. I’m sure you are an amazing nurse. Lots of love and hugs.

    1. Aww, thank you so much, Shireen!!!! <3 Your comments always bring the biggest smile to my face. Ooooo I have never had specifically Pakistani food.. but if it's like Indian sign me up! I bet we have some in SF here. Adding it to the list 🙂 Stay tuned! Naan is a true gift from heaven. Sending you so much love and tons of hugs back. Seeing your name pop up in my notifications makes my day. Are you doing well, Shireen? <3

      1. Wait, do you have a blog up and running?! Whenever I try to go over to your link it says it isn’t a valid address.. do you have another place?! I’d love to read!

  3. Congratulations! Looks like you will get to enjoy our beautiful California for much longer! We love, love, love, Rombauer!! We have been going there for over 20 years! Their wine never disappoints. So so good! Have a great week.

    1. OH my gooodness, it’s the best isn’t it??!!? I would LOVE all your suggestions! What is your favorite wine there and any other must dos in wine country?! One day you and I should meet for coffee now that we will be here a bit longer 🙂 Hope you are so very well, Kalpana! <3

      1. Oh my where do I begin about Napa and Sonoma? What a treat to live so close to such wonderful wine country! In Napa our favorite wineries are Rutherford Hill – sign up for their wine cave tours! Whitehall Lane has awesome wines. Coppolla is an outstanding winery in a chateau – their wines are affordable and have over 20 wines for tasting! Domaine Chandon is a beautiful winery too. Sterling I’ve heard is so much fun cause you have to take a gondola up to the winery – their winery is affordable and great too. Our all-time favorite wineries in Napa are Honig – very un-Napa – its rustic, no tasting room, you sit outside in their shady pergolla on rustic tables and taste wine – sheer heaven! You have to make reservations at Honig. Wine is great here too. Our most favorite winery in Napa hands down is Duckhorn!!! If you are looking for a sit-down relaxing experience to taste some of the best Napa wines – this is the one! They treat you like queens and kings, no rush, just sit, sip, and relax and enjoy their gorgeos gardens. The tasting fee is not cheap but its worth every penny. Reservations are required and they get booked up fast. Wine is expensive, but its worth it to go just for the tasting. Our favorite eateries in the Napa area are Bottega, Mustards, Bouchon restaurant in Yountville. But seriously I have never had a bad meal at Napa – ever!! The food here is just heaven – all organic, farm to table, I love the food here – and I’m vegetarian! Hope this helps! Next time I will share my favorite spots in Sonoma! Have you been to Healdsburg? My all-time favorite wine country town!

        I would love to meet you for coffee!! We can meet up at Peets in Los Gatos – the original Peets that’s been here in LG for over 20 years! My kids have spring break and we are heading out of town, lets meet up in April!! Can’t wait!❤️

      2. YOU ARE THE BEST!!!! I need to print this out!!! Thank you for the awesome suggestions — wine caves?! I didn’t even know that was a thing!!!! I also had no idea Cappolla is there, but we love their Pinot Grigio! We also said Sterling is a must do next time! Duckhorn sounds a lot like Frog Leap which is one of my favorites from the trip. I am going crazy to get back after reading these suggestions. Thank you SO much for taking the time! Yesss let’s plan on it- that sounds so perfect! 🙂 <3

      3. Ahhh YUM! I am going to send this to my mom too, I’m mentioning it in my part 2 because I know others would love to read these suggestions if that’s ok! xo

    1. Thank you so very much, Amitav!!!! I hope you are well my friend. You have seen this journey from the beginning! Thanks for all your encouragement and support over the years.

  4. Congratulation on your acceptance, yay!! 😀 I knew you’d get in!
    Lol I got a giggle about DJ getting upset about “waltzing” and seeming like a grump! My boyfriend and I enjoy “know ya dead spicy” food, too! ;D That Indian food looks freakin’ delish!! I love all of the pictures! You have a beautiful family!

    1. Hunida!!! Thank you, sweet lady!!!! <3 Ahahah, glad you got a kick out of that. The more spice the better, right!!? Thank you so much, love. Hope your week is off to a beautiful start. xx

  5. Congrats! I know that’s a huge load off of you! And wine country looked spectacular. Definitely adding that to my bucket list.

    1. Thank you, Katy!!!! Oohhhh addd it on the list right now! Heaven on Earth I do say. I can’t wait too share the next post.. the beauty is even more displayed. Hope everything is going beyond well. I have a few breather days coming up, and I can’t wait to catch up on how the best future momma is doing!! xo

  6. Congrats Mackenzie!! You are amazing and wonderful! So happy you got into your top choice for grad school!!

    I want to make a trip out to wine country so I’m adding all of these to my list of wineries to visit when I do. I hope you have a wonderful day xoxo

    1. Thank you, Maureen!!!!! <3 <3 Your sweet words of encouragement have made allll the difference!!! Yes yes yes! Add these to your list.. in the next post I am additionally sharing the other MUST visit winery! Hope you are having a beautiful week, dear!

  7. Congrats girlfriend!! so happy for you!!! How nice to be able to stay in Cali!! I love your red dress!! soo cute! Napa is such a fun place!! I am so jealous, it has been awhile since I have been there! I need to make another trip asap! Have a great day! xoxo

    1. Thank you, Taylor!!! I DEFINITELY think you need to make another trip ASAP 🙂 And even though we aren’t moving to Nashville, I definitely have a strong urge to visit soon so I may be hitting you up for recommendations! Hope you are having a great start to the week. Thank you SO much for stopping by! XO

  8. I can’t tell you how excited I was to see you shared a post!!! I’ve missed your adorable self and fun writing. I always look forward to your puns and humor – such a joy to read! Congratulations on your acceptance!! Woohoo! What better way to celebrate than with your precious family. I choose not to drink, but you write so stinkin’ well that you’ve made me want to visit those wineries, ha! You are ah-dorable, and your mom is so pretty!! I love her hair, and you both have that smile that could light up a room. I imagine anyone around you both would be so nicely influenced by your positivity and sweet personalities. I hope you have a fantastic week and official start to S-P-R-I-N-G!

    1. KORI! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Your comments are beyond encouraging. I’m telling ya, even without the wine, wine country is still worth going to for the views alone! And I just recently learned that they are also known for amazing food (I didn’t realize this). I will pass on the super kind words to my mom!! Thank you for your sweet love always! You just made my whole day! I am so eager to catch up on your blog so soon. Things are FINALLLLYYY slowing down- woohooo!!! XOXOXO

  9. Girl. I got goosebumps reading that, I got so excited haha. CONGRATS TIMES A BAJILLION! So happy for you and all you have/and have yet to accomplish! You deserve all the best XOX

  10. Oh my gosh a Mack update! (HOW the heck did I miss a Mack update?) I legit am so excited right now. i was going through my e-mails and all of the sudden it was the notification you had posted (that I completely missed) Ahhhh SO excited.
    And oh my lanta. Oh my lanta. AHHHHHHHHH!!!! GIRL I AM SO FLIPPING EXCITED FOR YOU! CONGRATS! Okay sorry for all the caps but Ahhhhhhhh!!!! Yass girl yass! We need to celebrate! Ahhh I can not tell you how happy I am! 
LOL. I hear you about the Peets. How CAN you give that up? But seriously Ahhhh! And nothing is ever TMI! Ahhh So Happy! Congrats beautiful lady!
    I was following your snapchats and Instas and girl I am so jealous! I LOVE Sonoma! That is SUCH a cute place!
    Haha I love it! Girl you are completely a wine expert. Drinking MOST make you a wine expert :p it makes me one too! 
And oh my lanta I love your pictures! Such great big happy smiles! I LOVE it!
    Bwahaha you two are the cutest! I love it!
    You and your Mom are both so darn cute and photogenic! Seriously! You two ladies are gorgeous!
    Ahhh you are not giving me a hankering for Indian food. I LOVE Indian food!
    I am so sorry your step dad got sick that stinks!
    Ahhh your pics are giving me serious wanderlust! And I LOVE that red dress you are rocking!
    I love how happy you all look in these pictures and girl ahhh Congrats again I am SO happy for you! <3 <3 <3

    1. KATE!!!!!!! Ahhhhh, thank youuuuuu!!!!! There are no words to say how much I appreciate your comments always. I get SO excited when I see your name pop up in the side bar. We really do need to celebrate- Next time we’re together let’s celebrate Carrie Bradshaw style?!? Haha, I wish I was a wine expert- ONE DAY! Guess I just have to keep going back, until I am, ya?! Where have you been in wine country?!? MWAH! XO

  11. Ok first CONGRATS ON YOUR ACCEPTANCE!!!! Holy hot tamale what pawesome news!!! I also LAUGHED at your TMI pee your pants comment. hahahahaha I will tell ya, Nashvegas is one of my favorite cities to visit and eat my way through!!

    What a fantastic looking trip! Your mom is gorg, & I love how much fun y’all have together. Mother & daughter friendships are the best. That Airbnb looks heavenly, & I am admittedly an Airbnb junkie. *Any time* we travel, I always book an Airbnb…we even stayed in a tiny home once! I so love getting to stay somewhere & “play house” when it’s so uniquely decorated & amidst the hustle & bustle of that city. You get way more out of a trip staying in an Airbnb than staying in a house, &&&& brunch is my hands down favorite meal so any time we travel, I research multiple brunch options to try for every morning we are there. lolz

    Happy Tuesday!!

    1. Kaci!!! Thank you, girlfriend! Haha, glad you enjoyed that.. I seriously almost didn’t include it, but it was quite a monumental moment for me!!! OOoo I have never heard Nashvegas, but I love that! Air bnb is such a gift! Ahhhh you stayed in one of those tiny homes?!?! LOVE! Where?! And BRUNCH – YESS YES YES! My favorite too for sure! I try to squeeze in a run before a big brunch on vacations and usually spend the majority of time on YELP to find the best place, lol, so I feel that!!! Hope you are having a great start to the week. Thank you so much for stopping by and getting so excited with me 🙂

      1. It was a tiny home in Nashville! Sadly it’s gone now but I’m sure there are others. It was a fun experience!!

  12. Congratulations! So happy to hear you got into your first choice! Also your mum is such a beauty and it looks like you all had such a nice weekend. I’ve never done a wine tasting but you are definitely motivating me 😉 !!

    1. Awwww!!! Thank you tons and tons, Jen!!! I will pass on the sweet words to my momma. A wine tasting is a must on the bucket list! (especially in cali 😉 ). Have the best weekend!!!

  13. I didn’t get to comment through my iPad but congrats!!! 😀 And flying back and forth every once in a while sounds like it’s going to be a little difficult but at least you get to stay put instead of having to move. Like you said, you could always move in the future. Also, I hope I get to catch you in SF before you do move in the future lol.
    And your mom is so gorgeous! 😀 Glad you had lots of fun, I’ve never done wine tasting and don’t know if I ever will, but it looks like a lot of fun as well 🙂

    1. Hey girrrrrl! Yes, the flying will be a pain in the rear, but I also LOVE traveling and have a friend in NC I can visit when I go occasionally 🙂 It’s worth it! And YESSSS I will cry tears of joy when you book that plane ticket here 😉 Aww, I will pass on the sweet words to her. I agree! If you like wine, I’ll take you to one when you come down here. K?! My treat! XOXO

      1. Oh that’s awesome then! You’ll have someone to hang out with every once in a while 😁
        Haha we may also end up trying for a road trip if it’s cheaper haha 😉
        I’ve tried a few wines but I didn’t like any so I don’t know if I’ll like it. But I like to think that I haven’t tried the right one lol.

      2. Hehe, I think it’s the latter 😉 Either way, Wine country is beautiful enough itself to go to without even trying the wines! Plus, there is EXCELLENT food! Basically, I am saying ANYTHING to get you to visit, lol. Have a great rest of your week, girlfriend!

  14. Woo hoo! I am so glad to hear this amazing, great, big news!! Yay for staying in Cali longer! It definitely suits you well 🙂

    Love those pictures of your mom! I see where you get your joy and vibrance from!

    1. Thanks, girlfriend!!! I am super thankful we can stay here longer too 🙂 AWWW! That is so kind- I will pass on the sweet words to her . Have a great Sunday, Allie!

  15. Hi Mackenzie, I am just getting to this now ! Many congratulations to you on your wonderful job news! It will be good to stay as you both did not want to leave. We are all excited for you here in blogland!! The wine country tour must have been amazing, so nice to have your Mom and stepdad along. Very cute pics and I love your dress! Will get to part 2 soon, Hugs, Terri xo.

    1. Terri thank you so much for stopping by!!!!! 🙂 I love that- blogland ! Wine country was gorgeous- have you ever been? Hope you have a great weekend! ❤️

      1. Hi Mackenzie, I have not been to wine country but have seen it on tv and would love to get there! I have to reprimand you on something! I think you are equally as photogenic as your Mom , you always look great in photos . It is nice to see your Mom again . Ok I am finished with part one, someday I will get to part 2 !! have a great day, hugs, Terri xo.

  16. Congratulations!!!! I am SOOOOOO happy for you! How wonderful that you have acceptances into all your schools, and now you get to go where you want: to stay put for now!

    What a lovely getaway for you all! Such beautiful country! and what lovely pictures you’ve taken to share with us. I particularly love the artistic shots of your mom; this is one type of photography I have yet to learn to do well.

    1. Thank you SO much, Ju Lyn !!!! 🤗🤗🤗 your encouragement this year has meant the world. Thank you for your kind words! I have no idea what I’m doing with photography, but slowly learning!

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