our first cali christmas.

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We visited my in laws in Ohio last year. I was in my ski jacket, hoodies, boots, etc. We got the fire going. It was snowing outside. All in all, very holiday appropriate. This year, we chose to stay in the bay. Now that we’ve found our forever home in our forever city, I wanted to stay. Plus, flying out for the holidays is expensive AF and y’all I just got this damn house.

I have been trying to start a new tradition since we got this house. We’re not religious at all, so we don’t do the whole church in the morning thing. We’re also not big on forced gift giving during the holidays, so we generally don’t have anything to open the morning of unless friends and families send us things. Since I don’t have any ties to Christmas, I didn’t want to do a yearly tree and follow trends for the sake of it. I can’t handle the idea of storing a fake tree for 11 months of the year, only to take it out and have it shed plastic pieces everywhere as I unpack and repack. I’ve been wanting to get random loose branches from the ground during hikes to make a very sustainable Scandinavian tree, but it’s either been smokey or raining here in the bay – so hikes are out of the question.

 Obviously, I wasn’t about to buy branches to have something to hang, so we didn’t do any decorating this year.

The weekend before, we had a quick road trip to Paso Robles. We’ve been there 3-4 times before, but it was extra magical this time around. I always feel vacations are more magical when places are deserted. We were able to walk in to many places and didn’t have to fight through crowds. It felt almost like a honeymoon.

Day One

Buellton + Emu Egg

We got to Buellton (tiny town an hour and a half past Paso Robles) around 11am. Obviously, we went right into wine tasting immediately - because #lushlife. We took things pretty slow. The town was sleepy so we acted accordingly. Casual tasting here and there, then a casual lunch that turned into leftover dinner because there was too much food involved.

Right before we checked in to the hotel, we drove by a tiny farm off the highway with a “Emu Eggs for Sale”. Obvi, we had to turn around and see what this is all about. Fair enough, it was a farm wonderland! I saw fat Turkeys (aka the survivors) fenced in with the hens. I saw wild turkeys roaming around the property following me from one corner to another making sure I stay in line. I saw an emu – who I thought was a him and intermittently forgot we were there to get an egg. I saw two fat ass pigs. Somehow I went through a solid 20 years in Texas without seeing a pig close up.

We drove by the pen, and this very bold pig walked right up to the edge to get a good look of Layla and the car. It was an intense 2 minutes. Layla, being the hot shot of her life, is not used to anyone or thing walking up to her in such a bold manner. I took 12 photos of the pig before I realized my pup was shaking in fear.

We ended the day with a final tasting at a boutique winery in Los Olivos – Blair Fox. Just overall, a magical day.

Day Two

Wine Tasting x 4 = No More Moneys

The title of the day speaks for itself, I think. Paso Robles has all the good boutique wines that are difficult to find in stores. That coupled with industry discounts mean we buy bottles at almost every stop.

Linne Calodo. I want to apologize for showing puppy butthole, but this is my view the majority of our travels as Chris handles her the best. Occasionally, my pup would turn around to make sure I am following the pack. Of course, she doesn’t do this when I want a photo. Beautiful wines and tasting room!

Thacher. This is a very cute winery and area. The wines weren’t my style, but it’s worth the stop. They had a very zen property with goats involved, along with a wooden Christmas tree.

Hilliard Bruce. Winery owned by fellow Texans, albeit Houstonians. Quiet, holiday tastings meant we got to sit in the owner’s living room to taste. Bonus points that they had 3 horses on site. The first one of the far left stable is very curious to see Layla. Layla, being a jealous bitch, had to stay back and fume by herself as she watches me pet them. The white and brown one liked me. The far right horse gave me the butt the first half of our visit, and moved his face away when I touched his cheek so F U TOO HORSE.

Daou. Hold on to your panties, boys and girls. This one is a keeper. Hands down, the most beautiful property in Paso Robles. Plus, they sold food pairings! + more puppy butthole.

We worked out Christmas Eve and drove back. Nothing particularly special except that I loved being with unplugged Chris <3

Christmas Day

We got to take things slow and took our time getting out of bed. No greeting other family members. No running over to a pile of gifts. We started with our usual morning espresso and eased into the day. We opened gifts from friends and family – I HAD A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS.

That new tradition I wanted, I am thinking it might be “weird” foods. Or anything new. This year, THAT EMU EGG. Look how majestic and beautiful. I wanted to save the shell but Chris reminded me that this is just an egg, so I felt fully stupid and nixed that idea. This was our first emu egg. I must admit, I had mild anxiety when it was finally ready to be eaten. During the whole drive, I kept joking about it being a dinosaur egg so I had the idea that it will taste like a reptile. But it did not. It tasted like a mild cheese. Like I had a spoonful of cheese with every bite. It was SO filling, that I did not even feel hunger until 5pm. Just pure fat and protein. As you can see, it took up the whole dinner plate. So yes, Layla also enjoyed her share of the emu egg.

You thought the day ended there. I did too. Lo and behold, after a month of rain, the bay gave us SUNSHINE. On Christmas Day. Road Trip 2.0 commenced! We went to Stinson Beach to enjoy a long family walk before dinner.

The highlight of this was that I met and petted and ruffled and scruffled a male purebred akita! He was brown with a black face and legs. Four years old with the face of a bear. I know and live with the breed, but he was so large I was almost afraid to touch him. I think he was a solid 115 pounds. Homeboy made Layla look like a rodent. Guys, I need a male akita stat.

And that was my Christmas.

Sincerely, Tania