Brio Tuscan Grille at Irvine Spectrum

Brio Tuscan Grille at Irvine Spectrum. If you’ve noticed, I’ve begun sharing my favorite local (Orange County, CA) spots every other Friday here on the blog. You may want to check out all my posts tagged Orange County, to see where else I have been!

Today I’m sharing about my first time at Brio, one of the new restaurants at The Irvine Spectrum. The Spectrum is like my second home. It is close by, has great shops and restaurants and fun stuff to keep the kids entertained. When I saw that some new restaurants were opening up I couldn’t wait to try them out. So when I won an Instagram contest run by the Spectrum which included dinner at Brio, I was pretty dang excited.

We got our hair done by My Blow LA at the Irvine Spectrum for Style Week OCThe contest was in conjunction with Style Week OC and included myself and my best friend getting our hair blown out at My Blow LA. It was so awesome to get a little pampering done. And I only had one minor heart attach when I realized they probably weren’t using a sulphate free shampoo which can cause a Keratin treatment to wear off sooner. And it was kind of funny to watch the gal try to curl my hair. Since the treatment pretty much straightens your hair, albeit pretty temporarily, it would not take the curl when she tried to use a curling iron. My hair basically laughed at it. We finally got some curl with the straightening iron technique though.

Styleweek OC at the Irvine Spectrum Center.Next we got to sit front row at the fashion show featuring clothes from some of the stores from the Spectrum. It was fun and I saw plenty of things I wanted to run off and buy.

Brio Tuscan Grilled at The Irvine Spectrum. And then it was time for Brio!! The restaurant seems HUGE. And it was quite loud. It seems like a great place to go when you have a large group of people who want to get together for dinner. I would have preferred it to be a little bit less noisy, but our visit was during peak hours on a Friday night so I can’t really complain.  They were running a wait, but since we had reservations, we were seated fairly quickly. You guys this, as well as the other new restaurant Del Frisco’s Grille, seem to be a hit. Both are always busy and they are great new additions to the mall (I’ll share about Del Frisco’s soon! Spoiler alert, I love it too!) The restaurant design is inspired by a Tuscan Villa and is warm and inviting. I can’t wait to dine out on their patio too. I love the fabric they chose for their outdoor chairs.

Brio Tuscan Grille at Irvine Spectrum.The Brio menu is not huge but has something for everyone. The menu is based on northern Italian cuisine and has tons of lighter options for those not looking to consume thousands of calories in one meal. But if you are looking for a super satisfying, hearty comfort food style dish, they have those too.  And their bread basket came with this crazy yummy flatbread that made my heart and my mouth happy.

Delicious bruschetta appetizer at Brio Tuscan Grille, Irvine Spectrum. We started off with the Bruschetta Quattro, featuring four different combinations, that was super tasty. We pretty much inhaled this and I would totally order this again.

Yummy dinner at Brio Tuscan Grille at the Irvine Spectrum.And for our main course, we decided to share two entrees. The kitchen split them up for us which was super nice of them and made it really easy to try two things that both sounded amazing. On the left is the Gorgonzola Crusted Beef Medallions served with mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. And on the right was the Sweet Potato and Chicken Risotto. Both dishes were fantastic! I would recommend both of them. But now I need to go back and try out some more things that stood out to me on the menu.

Dessert at Brio Tuscan Grille, Irvine Spectrum.To end our night, we tried out the Torta di Cioccolata, which is a warm chocolate cake served with vanilla bean gelato and the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Mousse. Both were crazy good.  I could have eaten about 2 gallons of the peanut butter mousse. The presentation of all the dishes was great and we enjoyed every part of our Brio experience.

Aside from the wonderful food, the staff and service were super friendly and accommodating. I’m absolutely looking forward to another visit.

I was not required to share my visit as part of the contest but I enjoyed everything so much that I wanted to. All opinions are my own and in my opinion, this place is great! Have you been yet?

Brio Tuscan Grille at The Irvine Spectrum 618 Spectrum Center Dr., Irvine, CA  92618 .  phone (949) 341-0380


Temecula Wineries Tasting Trip : Part 2

 Doffo Winery, Yuan Restaurant and Old Town Temecula

Wine in the vineyard at Doffo Winery. #temeculaIn case you missed yesterday, today’s post is Part 2 of my wine tasting trip to Temecula. Take a minute and go back to read Part 1.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait… helped me put my trip together and I couldn’t be more grateful. I want to remind you that all opinions are my own!

Wine Tasting in Temecula in an antique pink cadillac. So let me catch you up (this is the “Previously on the Real Housewives…” part of the post). At this point in my Temecula trip, we are two wineries in, we’ve had a fantastic lunch and we are being driven around Temecula in an Antique Pink Cadillac. I highly recommend hiring a car when you do your wine tasting. That will ensure that everyone has an amazing time and be the safest for everyone, everywhere. It was so nice to have a car waiting for you to take you on to the next location and of course with Sergio, you get so much more. Sergio knows a ton about Temecula and the wineries themselves and is super nice. [Read more...]

Temecula Wineries Tasting Trip : Part 1

Wilson Creek Winery and Lorimar Winery in an Antique Pink Cadillac

Wine Tasting in Temecula. This trip was put together for me by and included a tons of behind-the-scenes tours and tastings! #temeculaWith all this talk of Life Lists I decided to also write a Bucket List. And since I’m focusing on living a more full life (especially offline) I thought it made sense to complete a Bucket List item too. I reached out to to help me make my first wine tasting trip happen.  I gave them my budget and they were able to put together a crazy memorable day for me, including an overnight stay, to some of the best of the Temecula wineries. So while some of the days activities may have been comped or discounted, of course, all opinions are my own. And you know I have a lot of opinions. Wine Tasting in Temecula.I had to split this post in to two parts since there is so much I want to share with you. You know when I share my trips, I share a lot of detail. But for me, sometimes that is where the magic is. I only live about an hour away from Temecula Valley, home to a bunch of amazing wineries, but have never been before! I am a wine lover but have never been to a vineyard. By the end of my trip, (which was really about 24 hours) I was kicking myself for not having checked it out sooner. Have you been? I’m already dying to go back. Embassy Suites TemeculaI decided to do the wine tasting trip on a Monday so that the wineries wouldn’t be quite so crowded. I know they have a tendency to get crazy crowded on the weekends. And while of course I once had my own bachelorette party, bunches of loud women are no longer my jam (Temecula seems to be a premier location for bachelorette getaways. But don’t get me wrong, I will return on a weekend. I just didn’t want that for my first trip).  I left my house and headed straight to Embassy Suites Temecula Valley Wine Country where I would be staying for the night. I met up with  my girlfriend, Michelle, and the car that would be touring us around for the day. Wine tours in Temecula in an antique pink cadillac.THIS car! How fun, right?! We got to be driven around on our wine tour in this Antique Pink Cadillac by Sergio Weingarten. This rad car is available for hire for anything from weddings to nights out on the town and, of course, wine tours. Sergio is a character. And he KNOWS Temecula. He had a hand in which wineries we would be seeing he was absolutely professional and amazing. He just may know everyone in town. Map of Temecula Valley Wine Country.We jumped in the car and headed off to our first winery.  This was my first look at the Temecula Valley and it is absolutely stunning! Aside from wineries, Temecula also has Brewery tours! If your husband is anything like mine, he would much prefer to tour breweries…I can totally see another visit to this area to check them out. There is also an Old Town area with restaurants and many of the wineries also have tasting rooms, complete with entertainment there too. Although it wasn’t on the agenda for this trip, I could tell that Old Town would make for a really fun night out.  Michelle and I wine tasting in Temecula.My buddy, Michelle, came along with me.  Michelle has been tasting in Temecula before and knows a lot about wine. I knew she would be the perfect person to bring along. She was able to give me even more insight as to what other wineries in the area, that we weren’t going to visit this trip, were like. And really I just love her company so I knew we would have a blast together.  Wine tasting at Wilson Creek Winery in TemeculaOur first stop was Wilson Creek. The only thing I knew about them prior to the visit was that they make a delightful Almond Champagne. But I quickly found out they are so much more than that!  The grounds are so pretty and there is even a family friendly area under big shady trees near a little creek.   Part of the Tasting Room at Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula.We looked around their tasting rooms and I got to see what wine tasting is all about. On the weekend, these rooms would have been packed. But on a Monday, they mean you get much more space and attention if you really want to learn about their wines and wine making process.  Trust me, it wasn’t empty! There was still a crowd of people at each place we visited. Wilson Creek Winery is known for their Almond Champagne but they are SO much more than that!  But it IS delicious! We skipped the sparkling wines and headed straight for a White Cabernet! It was this glorious blush color, very light, not even a rose. It was sweeter than expected and not tannic from the absence of the prolonged contact with the skins  (at least I think that is the right word – you know I learned A LOT about wines this day…but there was also some tasting…so…). And then it was about to get fun. We met up with Greg Pennyroyal, the enologist and viticulture expert (his card says coordinator but he is clearly an expert) for Wilson Creek Winery. He’s the grape guy. He’s responsible for deciding when the grapes are ready to be picked. And he’s quite possibly the most interesting man on the planet.  It's crush season in Temecula! We got to see what happens to the grapes when they come off the vines! #temecula. We came at exactly the right time to witness this process that is the very start to making new wines. While this process, I believe they call crush, usually happens at night, Wilson Creek has one area in their vineyards that, due to the grade of the hill, has to be harvested during the day. Greg rushed us over to their processing area so we could see this! It was here that our lessons started. Behind the scenes wine tour at Wilson Creek Winery. Greg had us taste the skins and the seeds and explained how they reach the different parts of your mouth and how you must find the perfect balance to create a great wine. Pretty dang cool.  Tasting chardonnay straight out of the barrel at Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula. AND THEN we got to meet Wilson Creek winemaker, Gus Vizgirda, who let us taste a chardonnay straight from the barrel. So cool. And delicious, even though it wasn’t quite ready for bottling.  Wine tanks at Wilson Creek Winery in #temecula.We tasted our way through their facility and learned SO MUCH about wine, the wine making process, and so much more on our tour. I didn’t really care what happened the rest of the day. Getting to learn about wine making this close up was something I never dreamed of. It really enhanced my appreciation for wines and all that goes in to making them. We talked about the bio physical chemistry and more importantly how to slurp – or the process of drawing in air as you are tasting the wine to bring out the flavors and help draw out the different flavors you are tasting as you drink the wine.  With Greg, Enologist and Vinticulture expert at Wilson Creek Winery. And it made me want to spend WAY more time with Greg. He’s so super knowledgable and was able to share it with us in an easy to understand way. He has a true passion for the craft of wine making and for his part in putting out great wines at Wilson Creek. I will definitely be back to learn more from him! Ravioli at Creekside Grille at Wilson Creek Winery, Temecula. We sat down to a quick lunch at Creekside Grille on property at Wilson Creek. Delicious! While at the winery we were lucky enough to meet Bill Wilson. It was cool to meet a member of the Wilson family and get a feel for how proud they are of all they have accomplished through wine.  Outside Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula with Annette of VisitTemeculaValley.comOver lunch we got to talk with Annette, of, about the great family and food & wine events Temecula puts on throughout the year. Be sure to check the calendar before you plan your visit to see if you can make it to any of them! And how pretty is the outside at Wilson Creek! It would be a lovely place to hold a wedding or just bring a group of friends to hang out and relax. Wine tours of Temecula in an antique pink Cadillac. We were sad to end our time at Wilson Creek but loved getting to hop back in the pink Cadillac to move on to our next stop. Lorimar Winery in Temecula.We pulled up to Lorimar Winery and instantly felt like we were in another country. The building is gorgeous and the landscaping on the property was really pretty. It felt warm and inviting from the moment you walked up those steps. Chatting with Penny of Lorimar Winery about how smart grapes are. Loved learning from Penny! #temecula #sponWe got a quick peek at the tasting room before we were whisked off for our first tour with Penny Delgado. Oh and we started off with a sparkling wine that was just delicious. Penny was full of fun stories and great information about the grapes and wine making in general. You can tell that she loves what she does and I think we could have hung out with her for days. Gorgeous grounds at Lorimar Winery in Temecula.The grounds of Lorimar Winery are beautiful and there are several great spots for weddings and receptions on the property. One of the things I loved most about this place was their love of music which I probably should have guessed from their music note logo. This is the place to go to enjoy live music, in a gorgeous setting, with delicious wines. I’m sure that on the weekends this place is very lively with people really enjoying themselves. Touring Lorimar Winery in Temecula. Next Patrick McIlvain, General Manager, put us in to the Polaris and took us around the vineyard. Maybe it was just the perfect time of year, but vineyards are absolutely wonderful to look at. These tours are available to the public, they just require advanced reservation. And I highly recommend it! Overnight accommodations are available for rental at Lorimar Winery in Temecula.Patrick took us to look at Lorimar Winery’s new rental space, for overnight guests, called the Coach House. I’m dying to get a group together to stay here. We didn’t get to go inside but I found these images of the interior and it looks NICE. Event space at Lorimar Winery, Temecula. The Coach House sits right next to one of the event spaces on the property. This room would be perfect for a small wedding or special event. The room is set up like a barrel room and is a little bit rustic, but pretty at the same time. This patio would be perfect for more tables or dance floor. Gorgeous Lake View outside of event space at Lorimar Winery, Temecula.And this is the view out in front of the event space and Coach House. It was so pretty and unexpected to find this little lake right there! I want to have a glass of wine in that there hammock. Lorimar Tasting Room and Art Gallery. #TemeculaWe went back inside and saw the larger tasting room which is also an art gallery. That was one of the things I thought was so cool about Lorimar. They really work to fuse music, wine and art together. That speaks to my soul. We headed up front to purchase a delicious bottle of red wine (I fell in love with their 2011 Trio wine. I’m WAY more of a white wine drinker but loved this blend. I knew that if I just tasted a few reds, I would find ones that really appealed to me the way this one did). And then we got to meet one of the owners, Mark Manfield.  He was super nice and it was a great way to end our time there. What struck me about this winery was how down to earth they all were. While they love making wine, and they make GREAT wine, they aren’t snobs and don’t want anyone to feel like they don’t know what they are doing when it comes to tasting or wine knowledge in general. The atmosphere was fun, casual and I wanted to stay all afternoon. AND we talked about how they do specialty cocktails, with wines, at some of their events! You KNOW I loved that on account of my wine cocktails series.  I loved that while wine is their focus, they aren’t afraid to mix it up and do something a little bit differently than the other wineries. Wine Tasting at Lorimar Winery in Temecula.Can you believe this was just the first half of my day in Temecula?! Even after the first winery visit I was asking the question, “why haven’t I been here before?” While Napa and Sonoma may be THE place to do the wine tasting thing, Temecula is no slouch.  It was accessible and warm and totally my speed. If you haven’t been, you need to go! I can’t wait to share part 2 of my Temecula Valley wine tasting adventure tomorrow! And I can’t wait to go back and check out more Temecula wineries.

*A big thank you to for making this trip possible. When I reached out to them I had no idea where to start or which places to consider visiting. They planned my trip for me and did a magnificent job! I highly recommend their site for planning your own visit.

*And a huge thank you to Michelle for helping me to take some of the photos. On account of me being so type A I didn’t give up my camera very much but the pictures she took were fantastic! It is hard to tell exactly which ones she took but if I had to make it simple, I would say the photos that I am in or the ones that are really well composed were her doing. Now, when are we going back for more wine tasting, Michelle?

Reformer Fit Pilates Studio in Dana Point

Reformer Fit Pilates Studio in Dana PointCan’t stop, won’t stop. As you know, I recently worked on a series of posts with ZICO Coconut Water on creating and completing items off my ‘life list.’  It has been amazing. I’m trying new things and making changes to my life that are really letting me live more purposefully. One of the things I recently completed was trying out a Pilates class. I had always wanted to try out a class, using a reformer, so I reached out to my friend, Dottie of Reformer Fit Pilates in Dana Point and headed in for a class!  Located down by the marina, the location is gorgeous and it got my mind right as I headed in to my class. 

A reformer machine for pilates. Reformer machines look a little bit like torture devices.  I was pretty nervous. 

Pilates at Reformer Fit Pilates Studio in Dana Point. Reformers work off of a series of springs that allow for various levels of resistance. Since I haven’t worked out in, like, forever, I hoped she would go easy on me. Pilates is designed to build strength and flexibility and is great for all types of people and fitness levels. She assured me I would be ok. 

Pilates class at Reformer Fit in Dana Point.We got started and Dottie walked me through some beginning stretches. I immediately knew that I would really like using the reformer. And I wouldn’t say that she went easy on me, but she recognized my limits but still had me push through. 

Trying out a reformer for my first time! It took a lot of focus and tightening and breathing. But I loved how it felt. It wasn’t long before I felt my muscles shaking…

My first pilates experience. Pilates is hard. Especially when you haven't worked out in years. Like here. Dottie had me doing leg circles.  Only my legs wouldn’t do it. So what you are seeing here is NOT good form. It is me dying. Muscles burning. And laughing because Dottie says, “five more!”

Private pilates lesson at Reformer Fit Pilates Studio in Dana Point.These cool pulleys and straps are used for arm and leg exercises and the exercises felt really good. You could feel your muscles working but there was no impact. I really fell in love with Pilates.

Plank on a pilates reformer.Until we did ab work. I watched Dottie do a plank first and wondered if I would be able to do it. I had visions of collapsing on to the reformer but I managed to do it! And then I managed to do the pike exercises where you use your ab muscles to draw the board back towards your feet, buns in the air. I was pleased with myself. 

I am so grateful that Dottie shared her gift with me and let me try out my first reformer class! I’m dying to start classes regularly! And thank you to Lauren for taking the photos!

Find out more about her studio: Reformer Fit – 24901 Dana Point Harbor Dr., Ste. A 110, Dana Point, CA  92629. (949) 614-3604. Email for more info info at!

Organic Tree Juice in Dana Point. And when you are done, head right next door to Organic Tree Juice Bar. The staff is super awesome and, like the pilates studio, the space is bright and comfy. 

Organic Tree Juice in Dana Point. I tried the “Oz” green juice, with extra ginger, and it was awesome! I’m not a fan of most green juices, but I really enjoyed this one! Next time you are in Dana Point be sure to head here! I headed home with my juice feeling really great. And my muscles only stayed sore for a few days…


Knott’s Berry Farm 2015 Season Passes

Pumpkins and roller coasters at Camp Spooky at Knott's Berry Farm. #campspookyCan you believe it is almost Halloween!! Where has the year gone? Ever since Party City started playing their Halloween costume commercials on TV my kids have been asking me when we can go to Camp Spooky 2014.  They LOVE to go to Knott’s Berry Farm during October to see how the park is decked out and participate in really fun activities.  And I am only ok with them going because it is a non-scary, family event. I’m a total scaredy cat and do NOT do haunted things… What is even more awesome is that Knott’s has just released some really great deals for their 2015 Season Passes. Aside from having the lowest price of the year right now, when you buy your season passes for 2015, it also includes one visit during 2014 so you could bring your little ghouls to the Camp Spooky event. AND if you purchase now, you get discounts on Halloween Haunt tickets.

I love that Camp Snoopy has non-scary events in Camp Snoopy for families during Halloween! #campspookyWhich I already mentioned I won’t be attending. I DO, however, really appreciate how Knott’s decorates Camp Spooky (Camp Snoopy – if you didn’t pick up on that yet) for Halloween.  It is festive but kept very kid friendly. And they add a ton of holiday themed things to do in this kid-focused area of the park. Every weekend in October, your family can visit and get a chance to celebrate the season with activities geared for ages 3 – 11. There is no extra cost for all these fun extra activities. It is included with the price of regular park admission. Knott’s puts on great family activities throughout the rest of the year as well in Camp Snoopy. 

#CampSpooky at Knott's Berry Farm. To celebrate Halloween, the kids get to wear costumes!  And they can be in a costume parade and contest where they can win some awesome prizes. The Peanuts Gang stars in a special themed stage show where you can be entertained by your favorite cast of characters. There is a Mini Monster Maze for the kids where they can win sweet prizes. I assure you this is NOT like one of the Halloween Haunt mazes…I would probably pass out if it was! But if you like that sort of thing, purchase your Season Pass now and then use your Halloween Haunt discount to come and get scared silly. I’ll stick to the Kool-Aid mixing Potion Station in Camp Spooky! (a small extra fee applies for this station).

Rides and costumes at Camp Spooky at Knott's Berry Farm. #campspookyAnd of course there are the rides.  And there is nothing cuter than seeing your tiny Spiderman riding the rides. Along with all the rides in Camp Spooky, The Calico Mine Ride has been enhanced for Halloween in a not-too-spooky way. I know my boys will want to check it out. And cling to me and my husband for dear life…So if you purchase your Season Passes now, you can use your 2014 visit during this year’s Camp Spooky and then experience it as a Pass Holder next year!

It is super easy to purchase your Season Passes online. And there are several options to choose from. So if you want your pass to also include visits to Soak City, you can. Want to include a dining package? You can do that too!  And you can pay for your Season Pass in  9 payments instead of one big chunk. A fantastic idea! Don’t miss out on the lowest price of the year!