Monday, November 23, 2015

Gratitude Journals

As long as I can remember, I have been a scribe.

When I was a young girl, my words were kept under lock and key in cutesy childhood diaries.

As a young adult, I became more addicted to record keeping. It seemed my daily entries mirrored the frantic life I lived; my words found their way into spiral notebooks and yellow legal pads — to whatever was handy!

But then, about 20 years ago, the process of putting words to paper took on more significance. To pay homage, I started buying beautifully bound books to contain my scribbling.

Over time, my habit of journal writing has become somewhat ceremonial. First thing every morning — immediately after awakening —I snuggle up on the sofa, sip strong dark coffee and, with a beautiful fountain pen in hand, jot down random thoughts, as quickly as they enter my head. Routinely, I pen at least three pages per day.

I started writing in the morning more than 10 years ago at the suggestion of creative guru Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. It was (and still is) her contention that writing in a journal at the start of the day is better than writing at night. Doing so, she says, incites more free-flow thought and fewer recordings of the day’s events. Writing in the morning, she says, sparks creativity and reveals authenticity.

I have found all of this to be absolutely true — and life changing.

In the early days of my journal writing, I wrote at night. My entries were, more or less, agenda reports. I wrote about where I’d been and who I saw. I was overly conscious of my use of words, lengths of sentences and structure of the paragraphs. I wrote as if the pages would be turned in the next day and graded by an English professor. Well-written, perhaps, but lacking. How I felt about my day, my activities or the people I shared time were suspiciously absent.

Things changed when I started writing in the morning. Perhaps because I was overly conscious of the time and my need to get on with my day, I found myself writing about what I was thinking or feeling. I wrote faster and in phrases. Single words showed up on the page. Words got underlined or written in bold letters. Lots of exclamation points appeared.

Often, the pages were my dumping ground:

“This is going to be a long, tough day. Overcommitted again! Need to get to the gym. No time. I hate being this busy!! I’m doing it again, putting myself last. Drats!”

Recurring themes played out on the page, and as they did, I was forced to address various issues in my life. Working too much was one. Not making my own health a priority was another.

As I took stock of my own set of circumstances, my journal became the place I went to work things out, to make new commitments. Its pages became more hallowed ground.

I started to change and so too did the things I wrote about.

“I walked three miles today. YEA! My health is such a blessing. I love being a grandmother. Work is awesome! What a great vacation!”

The journaling I do today is more about what is right in my world than what is not. By the time I “talk” about all the things I am grateful for, the pages are filled, and I’m pumped to pursue my passions.

Ah, my journals! How I need and appreciate them! Blessedly, they bear witness to personal growth and gratitude and, increasingly, to heartfelt prayers of thanksgiving.


Note: This article first appeared in Houston Woman Magazine in November 2007.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mama Clemenza's

I had heard a lot about the European-style breakfasts at Mama Clemenza’s in Miramar Beach. So, this morning, along with three of my girlfriends, I had the opportunity to experience the place and its heralded dishes for myself.

There, we were greeted by Tammy, the owner. She is a beautiful, dark-haired woman who took great pride in telling us about the menu and its unusual dishes (all recipes handed down from her Sicilian grandmother).

She told us about the Italian Breakfast Panini with prosciutto, eggs and Gruyere; as well as the Lemon Curd Ricotta Pancakes and the Flourless Expresso Biscuits.


She did not, however, tell us how to select from among all of these delectables. The tough decisions were left to us! 

Finally, after a thorough review of the menu, we started with the restaurant's famous Orange Slices -- drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper. They were amazing - featuring an tasty mix of flavors I've never thought of putting together. (From now on, I will.) 

For the main course, I opted for the Crepe Trio, which included a Lemon Ricotta Crepe, a Banana Nutella Crepe and a Berry du Jour Crepe. My favorite was today's blueberry crepe. Not too sweet and, like the other two, simply delicious!

One of my dining companions ordered the homemade Eggs Benedict with Prosciutto. It was served over a Yorkshire Pudding Muffin with homemade Hollandaise sauce. I did not taste it myself, but I could tell - by the look on my friend's face - it was quite pleasing to the palate!

My friends and I spent quite awhile at Mama Clemenza’s — eating and chatting and eating some more!

I don't know when I will next be traveling to Miramar Beach, but I do know where I'll be having breakfast the next time I'm there. Hopefully, that next breakfast at Mama Clemenza's will be soon!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Afternoon Tea at the Brown Palace Hotel


No visit to Denver is complete without enjoying an elegant Afternoon Tea at the legendary Brown Palace Hotel. Luckily, I was able to take part in this long-standing tradition today. 

The festive affair took place in the hotel lobby, an impressive reflection of the Italian Renaissance, a room as beautiful as any I've ever seen. 

The tea featured a variety of finger sandwiches, scones with Devonshire cream (shipped directly from England), an exquisite selection of miniature pastries and a variety of teas that would satisfy the most discriminating of palates. And, for those who wanted it, a refreshing glass of Kir Royale was provided too. The clicking of crystal glasses, as celebratory toasts were made with these cocktails, added to the festivities.



Melodic sounds of a pianist floated in the air and added to the ambiance and pure enjoyment of the experience. What a treat to listen to his classic selections, as well as to those requested by others sitting nearby.

Listening to the ancient works of the great composers as I poured hot water from a sterling silver teapot was fitting.


It reminded me of the 19th century and Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, who gets credit for being the first to break for Afternoon Tea.

During her time, it was usual for people to have only two main meals each day - breakfast and then dinner at or around 8 o'clock in the evening. Often, the Duchess complained of "having a sinking feeling" in the middle of the afternoon. The solution, of course, was to prepare a pot of tea and a light snack.


I know a lot about that "sinking feeling." Especially bad when one is traveling and trying to see and do it all in a great city like Denver.


And, I agree, breaking for Afternoon Tea is always the perfect pick-me-up!




Denver's Union Station

The City of Denver has a lot to brag about -- a bustling economy, winning sports teams and, of course, its proximity to the majestic beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

But, nowadays, the opening of its newly renovated Union Station is the thing most locals can't stop talking about. 


The station, located at 1701 Wynkoop Street in LoDo (lower downtown), is Denver's main railway station and central 
transportation hub. It is comprised of the historic terminal building, a train shed canopy, a 22-gate underground bus facility and light rail station.

 
The terminal first opened in 1881, and its present-day structure was completed in 1914. It stood as built for a long time, until 2012, when major renovations began. The goal was to redevelop the terminal as the centerpiece of a new transit-oriented mixed use development on the site's former rail yards.


The beloved building re-opened just last summer with the addition of the Crawford Hotel, several of the city's top restaurants, bars and shops, and an incredibly beautiful train hall.

I had the pleasure of visiting Denver's new Union Station today, without the benefit of a Google search or seeing any photos beforehand. Thus, I really didn't know what to expect. As it turned out, I'm glad. Pleasant surprises are nice!

Approaching the entrance, I came to a large, granite plaza, centered by a series of underground fountains shooting streams of water into the air. 

I spotted many families here today, all were enjoying themselves -- eating picnic lunches and cooling off with playful runs through the h2o. 



After a bit of people-watching, I stepped inside the station's Great Hall and was, immediately, taken aback by the busy-ness of the place and, of course, its beauty.

The 67-foot-high ceiling and white marble walls were impressive. So too were the refurbished terra-cotta stone floors, massive arches and imposing chandeliers.


I love the way the Great Hall is furnished. There are long wooden benches that remind of times gone by and comfy chairs for longer stays. And, in the center of the hall, I spot two shuffle board tables. 

Several local couples are playing now. From my vantage point, it appears they are enjoying a low-skill, but highly competitive, game. 

Before Union Station was completed, developers were quoted as saying the "Great Hall will become Denver's new living room." 

It was a bold prediction. But, for sure, the Great Hall at Union Station is becoming just that.













Lunch Break at Euclid Hall

Thanks to a strong recommendation from Michelle, a very friendly and highly knowledgeable staffer at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Denver, I took my lunch break today at Euclid Hall Bar and Kitchen. 

Euclid Hall is located on 14th Street in the Larimer Square Historic District, in an 1883 building that was once home to the highly respected Sappy Smith's bar.

This delightful American bistro has a young and contemporary vibe and features high quality and innovative pub food from around the world, including homemade sausages, po-boys, poutine and schnitzels. There is an extensive beer selection, and creative cocktails drive the beverage program.


I found the menu to be especially unique and interesting, and deciding exactly what to order was difficult. Finally, however, I opted for the Roasted Cauliflower Salad. It was listed under the category, "Because we want to." After just one bite, I understood why! 

The starter featured a haystack of goat cheese, poblano and jalapeno marmalade scallions and tempura crunchies. It was, to me, unbelievably yummy! So much so, I asked for the recipe, hoping to prepare my next batch of roasted cauliflower just like it's done at Euclid Hall. Fortunately for me (and my future guests), the chef cheerfully agreed to my request. 

Euclid Hall Bar and Kitchen is the third restaurant from the team of Jennifer Jasinski and Beth Gruitch, owners of the award-winning Rioja and Bistro Vendome on Denver's historic Larimer Square. Jasinski, by the way, was Denver's first chef honored by the James Beard Foundation. The honor was bestowed on her in 2013. 

Euclid Hall is open for lunch Mondays through Fridays and nightly for dinner. Its location is perfect for visitors to the Pepsi Center, LoDo clubs, Denver Convention Center and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, as well as for those shopping around the corner in Larimer Square.

As a nod to college students who frequent the bar after classes, Euclid Hall has a unique take on its Happy Hour. It runs from 3 to 6 p.m. and is referred to as Study Hall, and appropriately so. Most afternoons and early evenings, Euclid Hall is filled with college students, all with their heads in their textbooks or their fingers pecking away on the keyboards of their laptops. 


Shopping in Larimer Square


Larimer Square has the distinction of being the first revitalized historic neighborhood in America. It opened many years ago, in 1969, one year after my initial trip to Denver.

Time has passed quickly, but it has been good to Larimer Square. Today, Larimer Square is Denver's premier urban shopping and dining district. It boasts "18 shops and boutiques that carry more than 200 fashion lines from the fashion capitals of the world." And, its nightlife defines hip urban renewal.


Larimer Square is both charming and elegant. Shoppers seeking unique clothing and accessories need only spend a couple of hours here, and they will find exactly what their hearts desire - and many other items their hearts will be more than open to.

Well, at least that was my experience today, when I spent a awhile checking out many of the district favorites.


First stop was Eve, a great little boutique that is "urban, hip and unmistakably feminine." The shop, now celebrating its 15th year, is filled with unique clothes and jewelry and hats (and much more). Eve was a delight, and so was the woman who "helped" me purchase a beautiful, one-of-a-kind, Indian-inspired beaded necklace! 

Another favorite stop along the way was Studio West. This shop was founded in 2001 by Priscilla Palhava in Crested Butte, Co. It started out as a design consultation business and has grown to a 2000-square-foot interior design showroom. Larimer Square, its second location. is filled with unique clothing and accessories, home decor and gifts. 

There was so much to see at Studio West, and so much I wanted to pick up and bring home. Not being able to this time, I have made a promise to myself to go back soon. Real soon!





Denver's 16th Street Mall


I love pedestrian malls, and the beautiful 16th Street Mall in the heart of downtown Denver is my newest favorite. 

Designed by I.M. Pei, the famed architect, the 16th Street Mall stretches from north to south for one mile. It features a lovely promenade all decked out with an abundance of flowering plants and trees and unique, domed-top street lights, as well as an eclectic mix of locally owned shops, some major retailers and 42 outdoor cafes, which make the 16th Street Mall the best people-watching spot in Denver. 

The promenade is made of red, white and gray granite in a repeating pattern. I was told that the pattern resembles the skin of a Diamondback rattlesnake when viewed from above. I didn't get to see that for myself, so I'm taking the "reporter's" word for it. It does sound like something Pei would think to do!

Near the south end of the mall, there is a shopping and dining complex with 12 movie theaters and more than two dozen shops and restaurants. At the north end, the path continues over three bridges, connecting downtown to Commons Park and LoHi, a hip urban neighborhood filled with restaurants and brewpubs. 

There are many points of interest along the mall, including the D and F Tower, a replica of the Campanila of St. Marks in Venice. Notably, it was the highest building west of the Mississippi River when it was built in 1909. 

Making it extra easy to get around and see everything are the free electric shuttle buses that roll continuously up and down the mall and stop at every corner. 

My visit to the 16th Street Mall today was delightful. I enjoyed poking my head in a number of new-to-me shops, favorite big-guy stores and the Visit Denver office.

And, then, before exhaustion set in, I thoroughly enjoyed breaking for an ice-cold Mocha Frappuccino at the corner Starbucks. 





Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Bite of the Sweet Life


It's nearly six o'clock in the evening, and I've just checked into the Ritz-Carlton in Denver. I'll be here for two nights, to get a bit of the sweet life here, take notes and, eventually, report on all for readers of Houston Woman Magazine. 

My room is on the 12th floor, on the hotel's prestigious club level. It is large, with a great view of the city. The decor is understated, yet elegant. The two double beds are unusually high off the ground; the pillows and duvets are especially soft and comfy. 

I was tempted, of course, to change clothes, position myself in between those luscious 1000-thread sheets and call it a day. Right then, right there! 

But, of course, I didn't. It was still too early and, as always, I am not one to take a chance on missing anything!

So, I made my way down the hall to the club lounge to grab a bite of dinner and an adult beverage and to mix and mingle with a few other business types who had already gathered there.


Entering the room, I immediately came face-to-face with a beautiful collection of large crystal containers, each filed with freshly made and delicious-looking cookies and confections. All made especially for guests like me!

I smiled, realizing just how appropriate this decadent display of sweets was to the regal space. 

And, then, before I did anything else, I lifted the lid of the container closest to me, removed one of the large chocolate chippers and, without guilt, took a bite. 

It was sweet. Real sweet! 
















Saturday, August 1, 2015

Ritz Carlton at Bachelor Gulch


In anticipation of my first visit to the Ritz Carlton at Bachelor Gulch, I have been spending a lot of time on the internet looking at photos - the ones on its website, of course, but also the ones posted by guests who had stayed there. 

The photos I found show the grandeur of a great Rocky Mountain lodge, built entirely of huge timbers and reminiscent of the West. They show how this lodge is perched atop Beaver Creek Mountain and why it boasts incredible views of the valley below and more of the Rockies beyond, views unmatched by any place else in this part of Colorado. 


Other photos show happy people enjoying the many amenities of the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch, including the hiking and biking trails, the fishing and whitewater rafting areas, the outdoor pool, the 21,000-square-foot spa (#1 in America), the golf course, the restaurants and bars, and more.

Needless to say, I can't wait to get there and put myself in all those wonderful photos. 

Soon, very soon, I will 
be doing just that.
















Sunday, July 5, 2015

Prepping for Painters

It's long overdue, but I'm finally ready to tackle the much-needed repainting of my home - both inside and out.

Getting ready for the painters to work on the exterior was easy - if you don't count writing out the deposit check and handing it over! All I really had to do was keep my car out of the driveway and myself out of the way. No biggie!

But, this weekend, in the midst of Independence Day festivities, I find myself prepping for the painters - who will return on Monday, eager and ready to repair no small number of cracks in the walls and ceilings and enhance everything in plain sight with fresh new coats of eggshell white.

The painters said not to worry about securing the status quo of the wooden floors or furniture; they would cover all, and all would be just fine.
OK, I'll buy that, but then there is the art on the wall. The mirrors! Gotta be taken down and put away somewhere.


There are the books, the "decorative" art objects and the framed photos of my family. Gotta be removed and put away somewhere.

There are the floor and table lamps. Gotta be removed and put away somewhere.

There are the area rugs and their pads. Gotta be removed and put away somewhere too!

There are the throw pillows and the floor pillows. More stuff that's gotta be removed and put away somewhere.

And, that's just the living room!

YIKES!

No wonder the decision of painting my entire three-level townhouse at once was so easily put off - again and again!  

I've asked the painters to work on just one level of my home at a time, starting with the main living areas (on the second floor). So, this means all the "must-be-moved" stuff needs to be picked up and carried upstairs or down.

And, when the job is finished, it will all need to be picked up (again) and carried (again) downstairs or up. 


SO NOT FUN! 


Prepping for painters is a whole lot of work. Especially when it involves the extra challenges of vertical living. 
But, I've decided to look on the bright side. And, eventually, I will. When all of the work is done, and my aging home looks like new again!
















Friday, July 3, 2015

Red-hot and True-blue


July has always been a big month for our family — one full of important days worthy of celebration! The Fourth of July, of course, is one of the biggies. But, so too is the day before! July 3rd is the day my parents got married.

And, July 3, 2007 was especially significant. On that day, they celebrated their 60th anniversary! The fact that my parents got married on a Fourth of July weekend is fitting. Their feelings for each other mirror perfectly their feelings for their country. As loving partners and devoted patriots, both are red-hot and true-blue!

A decorated veteran of the Navy, Air Force and two wars, my dad is a flag-flying American who has always taken his citizenship seriously. A display case full of medals and three Presidential Citations is evidence of that.

My mother was much the same. Her commitment to our country started when she was 17 years old, with a position at the Pentagon. Within a few years, this farmer’s daughter from Arkansas had distinguished herself in her career and as a beauty.

In 1947, Mother won the title of Miss Naval Air Reserve. As such she was given the opportunity to christen the Goodyear Blimp, The Enterprise, model in New York and offered a screen test in Hollywood. But, within a few months, Mother passed on modeling and the movies — opting instead to marry my irresistibly handsome father and serve her country. (If I ever write a book, their love story will fill its pages.)

When Mother retired from Civil Service in 1986 (with commendations of her own), she had worked for 38 years, in numerous locales and for every department of the federal government – taking only short breaks to give birth to my two sisters and me.

Growing up, we always acknowledged my parents’ anniversary and Independence Day in grand style. On July 3rd, anniversary cakes and cards and gifts were part of the scene, but so too were three screaming (female) meemies scurrying amidst activity. Patience prevailed, however, as my parents whistled tunes like God Bless America and Yankee Doodle Dandy and concentrated on getting things ready for the Fourth of July.

I remember so well early-morning grocery store runs with Mother to pick up burgers and buns, while Dad stayed home to scour the grill. I remember Dad helping us with the last minute decorating of our bicycles and tricycles, while Mother put the finishing touches on a trio of Betsy Ross-inspired costumes of red, white and blue.

 Back then I was clueless to the fact that my parents never — not even once — celebrated their anniversary by getting away by themselves for some romantic holiday. Little did I know then that doing so was the custom for so many other married couples!

Years later, when I realized all they must have missed out on, I asked them, “Did you ever regret getting married the day before a holiday — when everybody was focused on so many other things?”

Both were quiet for a while, and then sweet smiles came across their faces.

“Well,” I said, “Aren’t you going to answer me?”

They never did, and for a long time I suspected the worse. Then, one day, I understood.

For my parents, the yearly tending to the rituals of the season — their season — was the best, most appropriate and meaningful way to celebrate! And, all those fireworks at the end of the day! They just made the celebrating all the more spectacular!


Original Printing
Houston Woman Magazine
July 2007

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Habsburg Splendor





A fashion show, a screening of The Sound of Music, wine tastings, armor demonstrations, lectures, tours and more are part of the celebration of MFAH's summer exhibition, Habsburg Splendor: Masterpieces from Vienna’s Imperial Collections.


On view at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston until Sunday, September 13, Hapsburg Splendor showcases masterpieces and rare objects from the collection of the Habsburg Dynasty (housed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna).

Largely composed of works that have never traveled outside of Austria, Habsburg Splendor explores the dramatic rise and fall of the Habsburg empire, from its political ascendance in the late Middle Ages, to the height of its power in the 16th and 17th centuries, to the expansion of the dynasty in the 18th and 19th centuries and, ultimately, to its end at the end of World War I.


The story of the Habsburg Empire is told through more than 90 works of art, including arms and armor, sculpture, Greek and Roman antiquities, court costumes, carriages, decorative art objects and paintings by masters such as Caravaggio, Correggio, Giorgione, Rubens, Tintoretto, Titian and Velázquez.



Earlier today, I made my way over to the Museum District to take a peek at the heralded exhibition. I arrived just minutes before the start of a pop-up concert, performed by a small group of musicians from the Moore's School of Music at the University of Houston.

The melodic sounds filled the gallery hall and proved to be the perfect complement to the Habsburg treasures. Visitors (like me) were lured in and quickly transported to another place and time.



Adding to the afternoon delight was the dramatic presence of the attending knight, who was clad in shining armor from head to toe and waltzed charmingly with and among the assembled audience. Not to miss an opportunity to spend a few minutes with such a gent, I took my turn on the "dance floor." It was, as you might imagine, a real pleasure.

I will be returning to MFAH for a couple of the other special events associated with Habsburg Splendor in the weeks ahead, including on July 16 for Art + Wine: The Habsburgs’ Cellar: The Homeland and East.


This program, presented by Benjamin Roberts, Advanced Sommelier and wine educator, begins with an opportunity to visit the exhibition, followed by a brief curatorial presentation and a lively, interactive presentation and tasting of wines from Austria, Hungary, Germany and more.


The Habsburgs ruled over many European countries, and married into even more royal houses. Most of the nation states and regions in which the Habsburgs were active are renowned for viticulture and viniculture, producing some of the most sought after wines the world over.


Art +Wine will be a great opportunity to enjoy two things I truly love and appreciate!


Thank you, MFAH!


Visit www.mfah.org/habsburgs for more information about the exhibition and its special events.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

resfeber

I love discovering new words, and I do my best to remember them and add them to my vocabulary.

Today, I discovered the Swedish word, "resfeber." I stumbled upon it on Pinterest. Someone - another lover of travel - had found it and and shared it with the world. I am so glad she did.

I posted this word on Facebook, and many of my FB friends enjoyed learning about "resfeber" too. One friend, asked me to use it in a sentence. Simple request, eh?

Well, I tried, but I couldn't seem to come up with a sentence in which to properly incorporate it. Perhaps it's one of those great words that only works when speaking the language it comes from?

Anyway, I'm stumped, and it's really too bad. I so want to take "resfeber" as one of my own.

But, for now, it's still a strange word to me. Only its meaning is ever so familiar.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tropical Storm Bill


Like many Houstonians, I heard about the approach of Tropical Storm Bill, and I got ready.

I went to the gas station and filled the tank in my SUV.

I went to the grocery store and stocked up on bottled waters, colas and wine, as well as the kind of paper products one never wants to be without.

I went to the drug store and bought extra batteries for my flashlights and a handful of candles. I'm not taking any prescriptions drugs these days (YEA!), but I opted for an extra supply of aspirin, Advil and Tylenol - thinking, of course, that even a mild storm in the Gulf can bring on a headache.

So, for me, getting ready for a visit from Bill was easy. No big deal!

I'm ready - and waiting!








Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bernhardt Winery and Vineyards





This morning, I joined two friends, Cheryl and Denise, on a leisurely drive along Texas Highway 290 to the rural community of Plantersville, just 75 minutes north of Houston. Our destination was the Bernhardt Winery and Vineyards, where we would be connecting with more than 20 other women -- members and guests of The Professional Group. While there, we would enjoy a tour of the property, a seated lunch and wine tasting.

Not familiar with Bernhardt Wines or the property we were going to see, we didn't know exactly what to expect - which is, sometimes, the best way to see and experience something new. No expectations! Lots of surprises!


Approaching the winery, we spotted a beautiful stucco building, much like those seen at wineries in Tuscany. It sits on top of a beautiful hill overlooking endless hills and valleys, again much like in Tuscany. 


Inside, we found a charming tasting room and a friendly and knowledgeable team of pourers. A small retail area was there too, where we found traditional wine merchandise, as well as fine jellies, jams and sauces. 

But, our turn at tasting (and shopping) was delayed a bit. We walked outside to relax on a covered porch that overlooked the grounds. Minutes later, the others arrived by luxury bus, and it was time for the festivities to begin. 


One of the Bernhardt team welcomed us and gave us a brief overview of the business and the special activities offered there. 


Bernhardt Winery's is a small mom-and-pop boutique winery, producing classic varietals and unique blends. It produces only about 6,000 gallons of wine each year. Its mission is to produce quality wines and provide a fun tasting experience in a warm environment.

We also learned about Bernhardt's Concert Series. These events take place on the lawn every Sunday evening, beginning in mid-April and in 2015, through November 15. 

Concert goers are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs, purchase wine by the glass or bottle, sit back and relax and enjoy the great music with their friends or family. At sunset, the music stops, and all raise a toast to life and love! 


There is a food vendor on hand for the concerts providing guests with dinner options appropriate for an outside setting. Guests are also welcome to bring their own picnic baskets. 


I was thrilled to learn about these special events and, already, I am making plans to return to the Bernhardt Winery to one evening soon. 


After learning even more about Bernhardt wines, all of us were thrilled when it was time to eat - and drink. 


Over the next couple of hours, we enjoyed a delicious three-course lunch with the appropriate pairings. The owner led us through the culinary adventure, telling us in detail about each of the wines we tasted, including how and wines each carried the name it does. All very interesting!


Each of us had our favorite wine, of course. For me, it was the Tawny Reserve, a rich chocolate-colored Tawny, smooth and loaded with toffee and soft nuts and with warmth that lasting. 


I bought a bottle of the Tawny Reserve before I left today. Right now, it's sitting in a rack nearby, staring at me, daring me to open it and enjoy again!


Perhaps I will. 




Note: Bernhardt Winery is part of the Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, July 11-2 and 18-19. The trail runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 12 noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. To purchase tickets, visit www.texasbluebonnetwinetrail.com/.