papernstitch <3

Hello friends! How is your week going? Mine is going great and I have to say, this positivity is probably due to my new exhibition that opened on papernstitch! Have you heard of this amazing site? If not, here are some more details…

papernstitch is an online exhibition space that was created to promote talented artists, designers, and makers selling handmade goods. the exhibition space is curated monthly and showcases the best of the best on an international level. hence our tagline: hand-picked. handmade (Source)

Needless to say, I am really honored and excited about participating. I admire the work of the others on the site and I am thrilled about the opportunity to share my jewelry with more people. The exhibition went “live” yesterday but here is a little preview of what was added to my store ! πŸ™‚



Blue Leaves Necklace 1.jpg

Hello I Love You 2.jpg




Off to the Market


I have been trying to visit Market in St. Helena since my last trip to Napa. I love swanky restaurants with creative meals but at the end of the day I really love simple, fresh food cooked spectacularly. Plus, supporting any restaurant that uses local ingredients makes me smile. Market does all of these things. πŸ™‚


We started with some cocktails. Mine was the fizzy gin drink in front. Perfectly refreshing for a warm summer night in wine country.


We started with some laughs and some appetizers.


Farmer’s Market Chopped Salad. Alfie, our server, told me this was the most popular salad on the menu. For this salad, the Chef picks whatever is best at the morning Farmer’s Market so the ingredients change every day. This one had broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, bacon, blue cheese, and lettuce. The veggies were cooked just slightly which some people may prefer, but I would have rather them be chopped more and left raw because cooking them only intensified the dressing, which I was not a huge fan of. Also, there could have been more cheese. This little hiccup was okay though because the other dishes we ordered were spectacular.


This is one of the best Crab Cakes I have ever had. This baby was huge and stuffed with quality Dungeness crab meat. Paired with the coriander lime sauce and what had to be the most fresh grilled corn of all time, this dish was epic! I could have ate this as my meal. Only downside was that the cake itself was deep fried. I really think it would have been just perfect if it was less crispy on the outside.


Fresh Cream of Corn Soup. Again, the corn had to be one of the best veggies at the Farmer’s Market because this soup was perfectly sweet only needed a hint of cream and a splash of chili oil. We were all really pleased with this soup and jealous of Reggie who had been smart enough to order it. πŸ™‚


I ordered the Organic Fried Chicken for my entree. I LOVE fried chicken. This one was perfectly seasoned and crispy. The whipped mashed potatoes were so fluffy and buttery.

What stood out for me was the portion size. Sometimes you order Fried Chicken for your entree and you literally receive an entire chicken. Yea, if I order that just for me there is no way I am finishing the dish. I was pleasantly surprised when only two pieces were served with my dish. Perfect amount for me to devour. πŸ˜‰


Macaroni & Cheese with Aged Fiscalini Cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Bacon and Fine Herbs. I am only going to say this once because I pride myself on having the best homemade macaroni & cheese but this is better than my version. My sisters both ordered the M&C and they are not what you would call “plate finishers” but this was done. Between the six of us at the table, we could not stop “oooohing” and “ahhhing” over this dish. Well played Market, well played.


My father ordered Zinfandel Braised Lamb. I managed to steal a bit–for the blog, I argue– and wowza, this meat was tender. The jus served with the meat was light and had the perfect essence of zinfandel. My father is not one to rave about food like me (unless it is dessert) but he had a hard time keeping quiet about this one. He said this was the best lamb he has ever had. Period.


The Filet Mignon came from a local farm and was truly spectacular. Served with homemade au gratin potatoes, haricot verts and a porcini butter, this whole dish was cooked and seasoned to perfection.


Post-dinner cappuccino for me.


Butterscotch Pot du Creme for the table. Very rich and creamy. If you are a fan of butterscotch, you will love this. But is this definitely a dessert to share because a few bites is just enough.

We loved visiting Market. The food was incredible and the service was fantastic. Our server, Alfie, was knowledgable about the dishes, having tried everything. Above all, he loves to eat and he is passionate about local, sustainable food. At the same time, he did not bombard us at the table. He allowed us space to talk about enjoy our meals, offering any assistance when necessary.

He told us that he used to live in Southern California and then recently moved up to St. Helena with his wife and their 4 children. Now, they have a larger place on more land and my dream…chickens! I actually let out a little cheer when he told us this (I am such a nerd…) because my dream is to have an old farmhouse with chickens in the back yard and maybe a cow….okay, maybe a goat too. A girl can dream, right? Mostly, Alfie told us he is living the dream up there and you could see it on his face through his beaming smile.

I walked out of this place with a full belly and a full heart.


Cooking with Julie: Part 2


First, how can you not LOVE someone who has a framed picture of Julia Child in her living room?

Above all, Julie is also a really gifted chef and a gifted teacher.

“Classically trained by some of the world’s most accomplished French Masters, Julie has been teaching for more than 20 years and is a Certified Culinary Professional. She apprenticed with former White House pastry chef, Roland Mesnier — and worked and studied in France at Hotel de France in Auch with AndrΓ© Daguin, Paula Wolfert, Gaston LenΓ΄tre and Ecole Ritz Escoffier. Julie was director and teacher at L’Academie de Cuisine, one of the top ten cooking schools in the United States, where she teamed with Francois Dionot for five years. She also had the opportunity to work with Jean-Louis Palladin and Giuliano Bugialli. Julie is a graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine in Maryland, and has taken numerous classes at the CIA-Greystone β€” and around the world.

After living and working many years abroad in Asia and Africa, she now makes her home in Napa and started the cooking school COOKING with JULIE. In her free time she volunteers at the Food Bank and C.H.E.F.S. (Conquering Homelessness Through Employment in Food Service) as an instructor.

Member of International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), *Certified Culinary Professional (CCP), San Francisco Professional Food Society, and Slow Food.”



We spent the beginning of class reviewing our recipes. Julie always emphasizes the importance of reading recipes from beginning to end BEFORE starting to cook. This way, you know what is coming next and there is much less stress in the kitchen. Now that is something we all want, right? Cooking is supposed to be fun! πŸ™‚


There were 8 people total in the class which really allowed Julie to give us individual attention. We were grouped into pairs and each pair was assigned a dish. I wanted to prepare something I had never cooked before so Gingi and I chose the Strawberry Gelato and Langues de Chat (Cat’s Tongues). Truthfully, we were moving so fast in the kitchen that it was not very easy to take pictures of each step of the process. I did manage to snap a couple action shots though.


Gingi and I received some great experience learning how to pipe and I have to say I really love pastry making. My dream is to go to culinary school and learn baking and pastry in more detail. πŸ™‚



Once everything was prepared, we sat down outside for a lovely lunch paired with the wine we tasted earlier in the day. Everything as fresh, flavorful, and incredibly light. The perfect summer lunch.


Sorrel & Mint Buttermilk Soup


Vegetables Grilled Spanish Style with Picada


Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil, and Goat Cheese


Strawberry Gelato with Balsamic Vinegar


Langues de Chat (Cat’s Tongues)


Cooking with Julie is an amazing experience and I highly recommend her to anyone who visits the Valley. My mom loved the experience and she cannot wait to do it again! πŸ™‚

Have you ever taken a cooking class? If not, what would you want to learn?



Cooking with Julie: Part 1


This year, for my mom’s birthday, my sisters and I bought her a very special cooking class in Napa. Cooking with Julie is an experience that cannot be matched. This was actually my second time participating in her class and I was so happy to be back. What makes this day so special is that you start your day at the Farmer’s Market buying the vegetables, fruits, cheese, and other ingredients we would be using during the class. Chef Julie really believes that good food starts in the picking of ingredients. Makes sense too, right? If you have beautiful flavorful ingredients, you can cook them simply and their flavors shine through.

This particular Farmer’s Market was one of the best I have ever seen. The colors were dynamic but what makes this market is the people. They were so knowledgeable and friendly!







I loved talking to the people in each booth. Their passion for what they are growing and selling is contagious. Besides how good food taste, I think that my absolute favorite part of food is the community.Throughout the entire day when our small group was cooking, I could not help but pause and think about where this food came from and the hard work it took to create such beautiful products. I was grateful.



After buying our ingredients, we headed to Back Room Wines in Downtown Napa to taste the wines that Julie’s friend, Dan, had selected to pair with our food. Dan was so friendly and you could tell he enjoyed talking about wine and pairing wine with food. Everything was delicious and I ended up purchasing the 2009 Copain Rose (perfect for a hot Summer day) and the 2007 Salvestrini Rettagio.





After the tasting, we headed back to Julie’s beautiful home to start cooking!

To be continued…



Vino & Views


We finished breakfast around 10:30 so I decided we should start our wine tasting with a little sparkling wine at Domaine Carneros to celebrate my mom’s birthday! DC is one of my favorite spots in Napa for great views and great vino. You cannot beat a place with an outdoor tasting space!



I had to snap a picture of this little boy and his father. They both walk the same way, with their hands clasped behind their back. So precious. πŸ™‚











After Domaine Carneros, we headed back to Buena Vista, the oldest winery in California. On the way, we stopped to hug some trees….literally πŸ™‚







I really love Buena Vista, not only because of their quality wine but because of the education you receive when you taste on their property. Quinn, the gentleman in the vest in the above picture, is their on site sommelier. Not only does he know his stuff but he is hilarious in the delivery!

Today he wanted to deepen our understanding of food and wine pairing. For example, when trying a buttery Chardonnay he brought out lemons for us to put in our mouths and then take a sip of wine. The acid in the lemons combines with the acids in the wine to give you an entirely different tasting experience. The wine tasted completely different. My mom loved the experience so much she joined their wine club too!




Overall, we had an amazing experience wine tasting. If I am drinking most of the wine, I really prefer to stick to only a couple wineries and today proved to be the perfect amount.


We may have stopped by El Dorado Kitchen for some homemade soft serve with olive oil and sea salt….oh yea!

What are your best experiences wine tasting?



Can I move here?

Hello, my name is Jenna and I am a Napa-aholic. I seriously can’t stay away from this place. I love to travel and visit new places but at some point I am always ready to go home. However, when I am in Northern California, I can’t help but look around and get the feeling that I have to live here at some point in my life. It is magical.


And so was the food. You ready?

First up was my absolute favorite find from my last trip–Fremont Diner. Reggie and I HAD to have those Biscuits & Gravy one more time and this time we brought my family.

Side note: My sisters and I gave my mom this trip to Napa for a Mother’s Day present and scheduled the trip so that it landed smack dab in the middle of her birthday weekend! We also bought her a cooking class while we were up there–it was spectacular and will most definitely be my next blog.


2 glorious french press pots caffeinated us for our day of wine tasting. I love coffee from the french press. If you are a coffee lover, there really isn’t anything better. Okay, maybe a good cappuccino. πŸ˜‰



We waited patiently for our food, inhaling the aroma of our sausage sizzling in the kitchen and playing with my camera. If you are in a hurry, this is not the place to stop for a quick bite. But if you want something really special, pull up a chair, grab some fresh coffee, juice, wine and in about 20 minutes you will receive some incredible food.


Biscuits & Gravy


Kitchen Sink—think Biscuits & Gravy plus some incredibly flavorful local, smoked ham, crispy fried chicken and an over easy egg.


Grilled Breakfast Sandwich–featuring that beautiful smoked ham, fried egg, and cheese. That buttery panini is the stuff dreams are made of. Mmmmm


Lemon Ricotta Pancakes–melt in your mouth delicious. They were thin like a crepe but crispy on the edges from what I could only guess was a quick fry in some butter.


And we may have ordered dessert with breakfast…yes, dessert. How could I turn down this Caramel Buttermilk Cake? You’re right, I couldn’t. πŸ™‚


And a Nectarine & Raspberry Fried Pie. This was nothing like the fried dough I grew up eating in New Hampshire. Instead, this was exactly how you would picture a fried pie to be. Flaky, buttery crust on the outside bursting with ripe juicy fruit. My dad has a thing for fruit desserts so as soon as this beauty was delivered this is what he looked like:


Look at that concentration. He means business!


Reggie looked on in disbelief!


Finally, he shared. I could tell you how good this pie was but I will just let me dad tell you…


Yea, he loved it!

Can’t wait to show you our other adventures.



Stir it Up

Foodie confession time. As much as I love to cook, using tofu scares me a little for some reason. I like the taste of it and I usually enjoy eating it, but I never know what to do with it once I get it home. Sure, I have used tofu in the gnocchi I made a few weeks ago but I barely did anything with it other than plop it into my Vita-Mix. However, since we have started to drastically decrease our intake of meat products, I figured I should try cooking tofu at home. Usually my favorite way to eat this lovely soybean product is usually in some kind of stir fry. I figured this would also be a nice starter tofu dish. Looking in my pantry, I found this:


So, after pressing the extra firm tofu for about 30 minutes, I cut half of the block into small cubes.


I wanted to replicate that fried taste of the restaurant tofu I love, but without all of the unnecessary calories and fat–you know, lighten it up a bit. πŸ˜‰

After giving the tofu a dash of salt and pepper, I pan fried the tofu pieces in a tablespoon of oil.


After about 8 minutes, I removed the tofu from the pan and kept it in a warm place. In the same pan, I added some fresh broccoli, minced garlic, and some good ol’ H2O.




I placed the lid on the hot pan immediately. Then, adding the water with the other three ingredients, helps to steam the broccoli and infuse the garlic flavor. Delicious!


Once the garlic was almost cooked, I added the tofu and General Tsao Sauce to the pan. I stir fried the mixture for a couple minutes and then we were ready to eat.

I served my mixture with a homemade ginger rice. The combination was perfect. The bottled sauce was surprisingly not overly salty. Instead, it was sweet with a zing of heat at the end! I highly recommend it. The tofu was crispy on the outside but not greasy. In fact, after a couple of bites I was telling Reggie how great I thought the tofu was and he responded—“tofu?! I thought this was chicken! Nice work bb!” I am not sure how or why he thought he was eating chicken but you gotta love that!

Tofu & Broccoli Stir Fry

2 Servings

8 oz. firm tofu, pressed and chopped into 1/2 cubes

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 cup broccoli florets

1 tablespoon oil (canola or vegetable)

1/4 cup Stir Fry Sauce (I used General Tsao Sauce from Trader Joe’s)

1/2-3/4 cup water

Salt & Cayenne Pepper, to taste

1. Heat a heavy skillet or wok to medium-high heat. Add oil and tofu. Brown the tofu evenly on each side (about 8 minutes). Remove from the pan and place in a warm place.

2. Place broccoli, garlic, and water into the same pan. Immediately place the lid on the pan to steam the broccoli. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

3. Add the tofu and sauce to the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes and serve with Ginger Rice (recipe follows).

Ginger Rice

2 Servings

1/2 cup uncooked rice (white or brown)

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon fresh, minced ginger

Salt & Pepper to taste

If you are not using a rice cooker, Place all ingredients into a small sauce pan heated to medium-high heat. Once the rice comes to a boil, lower the temperature to low and cook until the rice has absorbed all of the water. Serve warm.

I am incredibly lucky and headed back to Napa for the weekend. I have some pretty spectacular reservations lined up. Can’t wait to share them!



Take it Outside

First, I have to say how happy I am about the Celtic’s win last night! What an incredible game! Yesterday was actually all around incredible. My sister-in-law, Kauna, is in town from Colorado and we are having a blast with her. Our morning started with a little bit of this:


My new obsession– a Dirty Chai from the North End Caffe. My friend Christy turned me on to this glorious concoction. I would argue that the North End has the best Chai tea in the South Bay and then when you add a shot of espresso (to make it dirrrrrty), I am in heaven!

After breakfast, we decided to drive down to Laguna Beach to go on a hike. Aside from the killer ocean view, my favorite part of the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is that there are several trails so even if you visit the park often, you are seeing new (and beautiful) scenery every time. We did some killer hills today and ended up hiking for about 3 hours.











Hiking is easily one of my favorite ways to exercise. I love being outdoors and really enjoying everything this beautiful state has to offer. Having 2 of my favorite people with me just made the experience even better. πŸ™‚



My Love

My husband Reggie and I just celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary. We met at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Co in 2005. When we met, I was an 18 year old freshman who followed her high school boyfriend to college, only to quickly get my heart broken. Reg was in an on again, off again 5 year relationship. We actually met through my college roommate Melissa, who happened to have an older brother who was friends with Reg. After years of being friends and now single, we connected one night, started dating and have not looked back since.

He is truly a perfect match for me. When I think about the person I dreamt of spending my life with, I realize I was selling myself short, because Reg is so much more. He is a huge supporter of everything I doΒ even if it has changed several times over the years. I am incredibly lucky. πŸ™‚














Making Substitutions


So ever since I went on the No Biscuits and Gravy Left Unturned Tour, I have been obsessed with replicating my own version at home. Only one problem—I am really trying to eat only local meat (if at all) and I couldn’t find any local sausage. So, I went with the next best thing—veggie sausage. This one to be exact:


I used this as my recipe but I saved some more time by using these:


These little babies were delicious! Plus, they make a lot more sense for us because there are only 2 of us so I can pull a couple out then toss the rest back in the fridge.






I topped my serving with an over easy egg because that is how I roll. A little hot sauce would have been the perfect addition. I will be sure to add that next time-and there will be a next time because this recipe was perfect! So delicious and filling.