The LAVENDER Festival…Get It?

A few years ago, in 2006 maybe, my family and I went to a small event here in Albuquerque called The Lavender Festival.

Little did I know that in a few short years, my life would be pretty Lavendered out.

The Lavender Festival, hosted in a small town in the middle of Albuquerque called Los Ranchos, seems to be held whenever it feels like it.  We went in 2010, but there was no festival last year.

Apparently this year was an “on” year.

As certified Lavenders, I feel like it is our obligation to attend a festival that is centered around our (well…Aaron’s) namesake and heritage! And I may or may not have pretended to be Lavender Festival Queen.

{With my royal bouquet}

I would be lying if I said I didn’t LOVE having Lavender as a last name.  I had never intended to change my name after getting married, but it was important to Aaron, so I decided to go with it.  If he had ANY other last name, I probably would have stood my ground.  But who rejects Lavender?

Obviously not the people at the rather well-attended festival!

We headed out after our 10-miler on Saturday.  The event was well-organized with the friendliest bus drivers shuttling people out to the different festival sites and the various parking areas.  At one point, we were walking down the road, and the bus literally stopped traffic to pick us up.  But this may just have been because I was Lavender Festival Queen! I don’t know if regular Lavender commoners would have gotten the same treatment!

The vendors were about what you’d expect: lots of lavender bath products, lavender oils, lavender plants, lavender bunches, locally crafted jewelry, folksy art, antiques, goat cheese, owls, and alpacas.

We really didn’t buy anything aside from a bunch of lavender to keep in our bedroom for stress relief, but it was a neat event to explore on a hot and humid Saturday afternoon.

Our winery was one of the event stops, so we made our way over there for their festival special, Lavender Sangria.  Talk about yummy!

This lady looks like she had a little too much of the sangria! I love how her husband just sat there, completely unconcerned! Dear Lord, please don’t let this ever be me.  I could never show my face at the winery again, and that would be sad.

And if you’ve ever wondered what in the heck a Lavender Parking is… These are the exact same signs they used at the festival two years ago!

I hope everyone has a great Tuesday! This is what I’m doing this morning.  Coach Aaron has me on a strict stretching/rolling/icing routine until this little heel ache goes away!

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Drinking Wine, Playing with the Camera, and Pot Shopping

Saturday was National Drink Wine Day!

I honestly don’t know how such an important holiday went under my radar for this long (though it is quite possible that this was the first ever National Drink Wine Day), but luckily I was informed with enough time to celebrate adequately. 

Would I have drunk some wine on Saturday anyway?  Most likely.  Is drinking wine more fun when you are obligated by decree of a national holiday? I think yes.

Saturday was one of the nicest days Albuquerque has seen since fall.  We had blue skies, perfect springtime temperatures, and no wind (unlike today). 

We started out the day with a 6 mile kick-off run. After a month-long break, we have a 10 miler in March and a half-marathon in April to start getting ready for.

Then we headed to our favorite winery hangout, Casa Rondena (where we did our grape harvest and stomp last September), did a quick tasting, then shared a bottle of Meritage in the vineyard. 

The property is beautiful (well, right now the vines themselves aren’t so fabulous). Almost like having a little bit of Napa here in the desert. A friend is thinking about doing her wedding here which will be quite lovely.

I sat back and enjoyed the afternoon while Aaron fiddled with our camera, experimenting with different colors, soft focus, and who knows what (two months after getting the camera, I’m still using auto setting).  I asked him to figure out how to make retro looking pictures.  I think we’re getting closer. At least we’re more aware of the possibilities. Someday, we will understand what all those little icons mean.

{Auto -Setting Aaron}

{Soft-Focus Amy}

{Warm-Toned Amy}

{High-Contrast Amy}

{High Speed Wine Pouring}

{Playing with shadows}

This morning when we were downloading the pictures onto the computer, we noticed that there was a smudge on our lense.  So almost every picture has a little blurry spot. Either that, or we had a little winery ghost following us around. In any case, picture-taking fail.

{HUGE left hand side smudge}

After visiting the winery, Aaron was in a good mood.  I was happily surprised when he pulled into the Jackalope parking lot and offered to buy me a pot for our living room.

A couple of January’s ago, in order to fill the Christmas Tree void, we bought a palm tree type plant, but it has been living in an uninspired, plastic, planter. I’ve been talking about getting a prettier one for a while.

Jackalope is the perfect place to go pot shopping because they have a huge selection.  Plus, you can pretend to be a cultured tourist browsing in a foreign Mercado (they have “global” music blaring in the background) but without the ability to bargain over the price. 

I’m in love with our new pot.  It has just the right amount of imperfections to make it charmingly authentic, and I think it fits well in our living room.

So this weekend has me excited for Springtime.  Being able to hang out outside on a Saturday afternoon and enjoying the New Mexico landscape only made me more anxious for warmer weather.  But first, we’ll have to deal with a few more months of unpredictable storm systems and lots of wind.

My I Love Lucy Grape Stomping Moment

I love wine, I love wineries, I love the history and culture associated with grapes and vineyards.   I’ve wanted to stomp on grapes a la I Love Lucy since I watched a rerun more than 20 years ago (before I even knew what wine was I’m sure).

So, two weekends ago, Aaron and I volunteered our Sunday morning to help the nice people at Casa Rondena pick their grapes in exchange for free wine.

We got to the winery nice and early and we were handed a bucket and a knife with a quick reminder that the grapes we picked would actually go into bottles of wine.  In other words, if we picked the wrong grapes, we’d be drinking bad wine next year.  No pressure.

We picked and we picked and we gathered and we gathered.  I sliced my finger a few times (think of that the next time you drink up), and then we poured the grapes into large bins (rather, Aaron poured the grapes into large bins).

The grapes are poured into a big machine where they are squished and pressed, releasing all the juices (and hopefully straining out all the ants and spiders that were ALL OVER).  The liquid is pumped into large metal barrels where they ferment into the wine we know and love.

No grape harvest would be complete without the traditional wine stomp.  This is kind of the whole reason I volunteered to pick grapes all morning. Before you start grossing out over drinking my toe juice, you should know that this is completely ceremonial, and this juice doesn’t get put into any wine (at least that is what they told us…).  Also, men’s feet aren’t allowed.  I don’t know if it is because men’s feet tend to be dirtier or if men are less pure and squish less desireable wine, but for whatever reason, Aaron was not allowed into the bit vat of grapes (though he definitely tried).

 

Getting intimately aquianted with the wine process from vine to glass was extraordinary.  Knowing what goes into each bottle makes it taste a little sweeter if you are able to forget about sliced fingers, ants, spiders, and dirt.  I helped create a wine experience for someone else in the future which is both a little terrifying and completely satisfying.  And I’m pretty sure I need to open a winery now!