Paradise Ridge Winery

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I loved this winery so much that I wanted to share this wedding venue that we visited last weekend in Santa Rosa, which is part of Sonoma County. To be honest, I guess I didn’t really know what Sonoma County geographically consisted of until recently!

Welcome to Paradise indeed! This is a really awesome sign to greet people entering the tasting room.

Welcome to Paradise indeed! This is a really awesome sign to greet people entering the tasting room.

Paradise Ridge Winery was featured on Wedding Spot, and that was how I actually found out about them. With their famous LOVE structure backdrop, it was hard not to take a peak at them. It is truly a romantic and beautiful winery to get married at, and if I had a smaller 100-ish person wedding, I think this would be the perfect spot! However, my guest count will be almost double that, and they advertise they can fit only 150 people for the indoor reception–though I was told in person it could be possible to squeeze more. I like my space though, so this was probably the biggest drawback for me about this place. I wasn’t sure if for the price tag I was also willing to cut down my guest list, as I already had a hard enough time limiting it. I’m hoping by advertising them, though, perhaps one of my friends might consider this place so I can attend a wedding here! ;) But this would still be a wonderful place to go wine tasting and enjoy with friends, even if not for a wedding.

Firepit area and seats to sit on and enjoy a nice summer day!

Firepit area and seats to sit on and enjoy a nice summer day!

The tasting room, which is also the reception room, is set up higher on a hill so that you get a gorgeous view of the vineyards from above. At night, the city lights twinkle afar in the distance. A nice covered veranda patio wraps around the building so that you can admire this view while sipping on wine or even dining on this patio. Casual seats on a wooden deck under a giant oak tree or even by the couches and outdoor fireplace can make for a great summer afternoon or cozy fall evening! And actually, it looks more like a fire pit for making pizzas…uhm, yes please! The winery seemed to get more popular in the afternoon, but around 11:30am when we were visiting, it was relatively peaceful and quiet. There were some couches that were also reserved for a private party and there was another party that had reserved a table to eat at on the veranda.

I loved the oak tree surrounded by a deck, as the hanging lights in the evening and lanterns looked magical in many of their photos of events. White lanterns are also already included in their rental, as are the string lights on the tree. It would definitely be a rustic backdrop for a cocktail hour. The deck leads out from the veranda upstairs and opens up to the sitting area downstairs (fire pit area), so it’s a spacious outdoor area for guests to mingle and enjoy the incredible view!

The entrance where the oak tree surrounded by the deck is.

The entrance where the oak tree surrounded by the deck is.

And, of course, that LOVE structure is a huge attraction. Literally. The winery itself bought the giant letters from Burning Man one year and so it is always on display further down the hill below the vineyards. At night it lights up too so guests can see it from the tasting room/reception room! They also have art exhibits of other statues, sculptures, structures, etc. that rotate seasonally. A lot of it I found to be abstract, but it certainly makes this winery a cool and hip place to check out with more to do than just wine tasting! Check out the Wedding Spot blog post I linked above to see more of their pictures of events, and check out some that we captured over the weekend as well!

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Wedding Planning — Commence!

It’s been just over 2 months since we got engaged, and life really could not be sweeter. I mean that in a wistful and almost unfathomable kind of way because sometimes it feels almost too good to be my life. But hey, I’ll take it! Between starting up wedding planning and slowly settling into our new home, it has been very busy–but in a good way for sure.

The kitchen is pretty much fully functional, and thanks to extremely generous future sibling-in-laws, we were able to get some really nice kitchen items at Crate & Barrel…and now I think I’m slightly addicted. Ahh! And B has been very busy building our dining table, coffee table, and dining bench–from scratch! But house decor and experiences for another post. :)

This week, we finally booked our wedding venue and set our date for next year! I figured I wanted to start jotting down some notes of experience for friends, family, etc. who may find it useful later on. And just because I kind of miss blogging and it’s something to write about since my baking escapades have been kind of on hold as we settle in and plan for the big day.  Continue reading

Simple Dinners–Garlic Shrimp, Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Mapo Tofu

2015/01/img_6256.jpgI hadn’t really thought to post about this, but some people asked me for recipes for my dinner the other night. So I guess it couldn’t hurt to blog! Like I said, the new place is a work in progress, and we still need a lot of things in the house.

For instance, kitchen knives.

I made this dinner with a single small paring knife that I got for free at a grocery store because my boyfriend and I got suckered into watching a knife demo. Luckily, I didn’t really have to slice any large items! And I just got a cutting board. The story and research on cutting boards for another day…

Since I was craving shrimp, I decided to make some garlic butter shrimp, like the ones from Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck that we visited in Hawaii. This stuff is so good and so bad for you, but I guess every once in awhile you can indulge ;) To balance it out, I made some brussel sprouts and mapo tofu. For those of you who don’t know what mapo tofu is, it’s traditionally a spicy tofu and minced meat dish. “Mapo” or “麻婆” means a pock-marked old woman. Now I don’t know if that means an acne-ridden old lady used to make this tofu dish or the tofu dish is supposed to look like an pock-marked faced?? Either way, a good spicy dish, but I cheated and used store pre-mixed sauce…which inevitably did not taste as good as it should, but it makes for a very quick and simple dish that goes great with rice! If anyone knows a better store brand sauce or recipe for making sauce, please share with me! =)

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Goodbye, 2014! Hello, 2015!

2014 was a very different year for me. For one, it was the first entirely full year where I wasn’t a student or a resident or an intern, and I worked an entire year like a grown adult. (And of course that means I was taxed very heavily for it.) It was the first year that my “year” did not seem to start in August/September and end in May/June like it had for the last 23 years. And really, life after residency has been amazing!

I am so ever grateful for the job I have and the work that I do and the chance that I get to make a difference in someone’s life each day. I took on a new project at work in September, after I returned from Taiwan, and the patient-provider experience has been very rewarding. I’m extremely blessed to have good benefits and the schedule to be able to take time off to spend with loved ones, to have to myself, and to travel and explore!

I also felt that I grew a lot more emotionally in 2014, in terms of loving deeply and openly and passionately. I grew closer with people I already loved, if that were even possible to begin with. I think I truly learned what to “love” meant. But emotionally, there were some struggles with things that I never would have fathomed with the people closest to me. And this is why starting in the summer, I fell off the blog. It is partially my own fault for not keeping up with my blog like I had intended to, but life happens. The latter half of my year has been a pretty big roller coaster. In retrospect, writing about it may have helped, but I’m a little more private about these kinds of things. However, I think the rocky parts are taking a turn for the better and smoothing out now. I’ve been learning to accept and stay open-minded.

On top of all that, we bought a house!! It has officially been 1 month since we closed escrow too, and I am very excited for what this year will bring with the new place. This never would have been possible this quickly after finishing my schooling if it weren’t for my parents helping me with my tuition and my boyfriend buying the house with me. I know I am very lucky that my parents were able to pay for a huge chunk of my tuition in college and grad school. It was a team effort with my scholarships and working during school, but I am forever in debt to my parents.

And now that I own a house, I know how stressful the whole process can be and I’ve come to appreciate these struggles. I can’t believe my parents had to go through all of this when they also had kids and were trying to get their green cards and pretty much had nothing in their name. They are amazing. I’m also thankful that my boyfriend is so organized and on top of things with our house and our budget and savings. He is absolutely incredible and a lifesaver!

Now that the old year has been tucked away, I am ready and excited for the new one! I am also determined to try and be better about blogging this year. Maybe I’ll post home decor things as the house comes along. I’m also extremely excited for baking and cooking in my new kitchen! I have a good feeling about 2015. Onward! :)

Cheers,
J