February 1st: Billy's Birthday
Yes, I decided to don my Betty Crocker apron and try my hand at cake-baking. Making the cake - not too difficult. Finding the right size pans - freaking nightmare! I had to go to 4 bloody stores just to find the 9" diameter, non-stick pans the recipe called for. Ugh!... Oh well, the cake tasted BOMB (yes, I said bomb) so it was worth it. The only problem now, Billy wants a cake every week! Poor guy!
February 13-14: Valentine's Day
Billy completely surprised me with dinner reservations at the famous Cold Spring Tavern and a night in the picturesque Danish village of Solvang. Ah-may-zing! Built in the 1860s, Cold Spring Tavern was originally used as a way station for stagecoach passengers traveling over the "Turnpike" and through the dangerous mountain roads. It's been a working restaurant since 1941 and much effort has gone into protecting the traditions of the Tavern, keeping as everything as original as possible. The food is wonderful, filling, and wild. Billy was adventurous and tried the venison, I had a steak (I know, boring! Whatever!). After dinner we continued up the road to Solvang and checked into the Wine Valley Inn. Instead of wine tasting (which is traditional), we opted for beer tasting at Solvang Brewing Company. A couple of friends, Kendyl and Adam, joined us at the brewery and we had a blast, spending somewhere between $150-$200 on beer in like 3 hours... Oops!
March 7th-ish: Days Off
Me and Heidi, again, doing our thing! This time in in Los Olivos at the Artiste and Presqu'ile wine tasting rooms. Best part of Artiste is the art they have on display and the corner where you can create your own masterpiece. They recently had a contest for local artists to win the grand prize of having their work be the label for Artiste's newest blend. Heidi and I created a painting called "Of Two Minds" (pictured below)... I still haven't figured out why we didn't win.
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March 23-27: London, England!
Yup! Been Travelin'! Billy took his Boys U-12 soccer team to the UK to practice and play different teams their age. Obviously, I wasn't going to let him leave me behind and I even recruited my Muck to make the trip! She has a special man-friend who happens to reside in Londontown so it didn't take much convincing/planning! Yay! As soon as we landed at Heathrow, we rushed to our awaiting charter bus to make the 2:30pm Arsenal - Aston Villa kickoff at Emirates Stadium in Highbury. Great game, and even better seats! John (top picture) managed to get us BOX SEATS!!! Tickets for box seats over there are even more expensive than the one's for professional teams here! Basically you need to know someone with some kind of connection, luckily we did! Felt like a baller! Hehe! The next 2 days I met up with Scottee and we got to do our girly thing - walking, shopping, running-to-cross-streets-cuz-we-never-quite-got-a-grip-on-where-the-cars-would-be-coming-from, having High Tea at Harrods, sneaking away from Billy and Darko (her man-friend) and into random bars for quick drinks, eating at tables on top of tables, and laughing, lots of laughing! We're hilarious, by the way.
March 27-29: Manchester, England
Old Trafford = Billy's little slice of Heaven. He's a die-hard Manchester United supporter and we had the opportunity to take a tour of their legendary stadium. Old Trafford, nicknamed the Theatre of Dreams, is the largest and oldest working stadium in the English Premier League and has been the home of United since 1910. The buzz and rush you get of even the empty stadium is unreal. You can really feel the passion that is everything Man U: the Stretford End (where United supporters sit/sing during games), Sir Matt Busby Way, the Munch Disaster memorial, Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, and the statues of George Best (the Belfast Boy), Dennis Law, and Bobby Charlton. They all add up to an unparalleled history of success, heartache, and legends.
March 30-April 7: Belfast
Why can't all of my family live in California??? I suppose I like having an excuse to travel, but I'd love it if all I had to do was hop in the car and go for a visit. Big thanks goes out to Frankie, Michelle, Alicia and Natasha for letting us stay over. Highlights: 1. Going out with the girls Saturday night! I have never met an entire group of long-time girlfriends who are so open and friendly, not only to me, but my friends too! Scottee and I found a little fuzzy chicken toy in the back of Michelle's car the night before all the girls got together so we naturally decided to turn it into a drinking game. If the fuzzy chicken ended up on the brim of your glass, you had to chug! Hence, "Chug the Chicken!" We ended up being asked to leave one of the bars, and neither Scottee or I could figure out why. We were all just standing at the bar, laughing and having a good time. Well, we came to find out that "chug the chicken" has other connotations... If you can't figure it out, ask your mom. Obviously, we cracked up and ended up at the local dancing the night away...and eating McDonald's TWICE! Argh! Ugh!! Can't believe I admitting it! But let me just tell you that the double cheeseburger was outstanding! 2. Taking the bus to the City Center just Billy and me. It's very well kept and modern with an overwhelming amount of history, conflict, beauty that really takes you by surprise. We walked all around going into different shops (yes, he even let me shop!) and had lunch at a quintessential Irish pub called Kelly's Cellar, ordering Irish stew and Guinness. And 3. Just hanging with the Fam! Our time in Belfast was really laid back and refreshing - playing with my nieces, taking them to gymnastics and horse riding, going for walks, checking out the Titanic museum, rolling Cadbury Easter eggs down Moat Mountain, eating, visiting, and exploring the life Billy had as a kid. If only we could do it more often.