Wine Tour South-South, Wine Tour North-South And What’s With All The Pumpkin Soup?

Recently I was perusing my drafts folder and realized I have a lot of unfinished business. Most of it I will trash, but this post that I started 2018 after my 13 day trip to New Zealand with Kelly, well, I really wanted it on my blog for prosperity. I wrote a few other posts about our trip and the adventure of this Florida girl driving on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road in a winter white-out. SO many unexpected things happened, but I can say for certain this is a country I would visit again. (if you care to read, I have a tag on the side of my page labeled New Zealand.)

After previewing this post and all the wine photos, I thought to myself: Kelly and I need a meeting.
But ONLY if that meeting includes wine.

I don’t know when it exactly happened, but at one point in the early 2000’s we switched from enjoying Italian Pinot Grigio to NZ Sauvignon blanc. I suppose I could go back and look at stock reports for the vineyards and see an uptick.

The wine was ONE of the allures to see NZ. Also, seeing my youngest favorite daughter.
I still can’t believe she traveled to NZ all by herself, although she does have an adventurous spirit. And had she NOT visited NZ, I never would have went there myself.

If you don’t know (because I didn’t) NZ is two islands; The North and The south Island.

We had two wine tours booked; One on the south part of the south island. The other on the north part of the south island.


While in Queenstown, (our first stop in NZ) our travel agent booked us a wine tour.
We didn’t know what to expect, other than wine tastings. We were picked up by a sweet gentleman and we were accompanied by another couple from the states. The tour was full of beautiful scenery, lovely stops to enjoy the views, learning some history of the area, some food and of course, wine.
Appellation Boutique Wine tour

The south part of the south island is known for its Pinot Noir vineyards because it is a much cooler climate than the north part of the south island. And this is where our New Zealand tour began, on the Southern part of the south island. Are we confused yet? No? but wait, there’s more.

The north part of the south island is where our beloved Sauvignon blanc is produced. That is the Marlbourough region.

We had many adventures on the south part of the south island, but this post is mainly about WINE and me typing north and south.


We thoroughly enjoyed the Sounds connection wine tour-Marlborough region; it was just a driver, Kelly, myself and a young couple from Australia who didn’t care for wine. I still can’t figure out why they did a wine tour; maybe they misread it as a Mine Tour? You know how kids are…

Spy valley was a really cool vineyard to visit; their cellar room was very modern and minimalistic. They are very close to a Spy Base that is part of the “five eyes” of intelligence alliances: the US, New Zealand, Canada, UK and Australia. Supposedly the spying is led by the US and of course, there is some disapproval around it all, but they, I need my NZ wine! Fun Fact: All bottles of Spy Valley Wine have Morse Code somewhere on them.

We really enjoyed the Framingham vineyard visit and occasionally I can find this particular wine at Total Wine and I have myself a travel flashback. (Currently, I can ALWAYS find it at Total wine and it’s high on my list!)

Cloudy bay has always been one of our favorites; Surprise Surprise, it’s also one of the most expensive. What can I say? I never had Trailer Park taste, even while I was there. Kelly actually spent a good part of her childhood in a trailer park too, so we often giggle about that and the fact that WE’RE IN NEW ZEALAND DRINKING our favorite WINE!

Lake Chalice was one of the smaller vineyards we visited in Marlborough. We were very impressed with the quality of the wine, the friendliness of the hostesses and the fact that they served us some food to go with the wine. Our other favorite thing aside from drinking NZ wine is snacking.

Pumpkin What?

While we were in NZ it was their ‘spring’ time. The weather was cool and crisp and we noticed that everywhere we ate they offered ‘pumpkin’ soup. I’m not sure if that is a year round option, or just in the cooler months but we partook several times and it was always a little different at each restaurant.

We finally asked someone and found out that it’s not always PUMPKIN even thought it’s called PUMPKIN. Sometimes it actually a variety of squash. Well played New Zealand, well played.

After 11 days of touring/driving the South Island from south to north, I was happy to drop off the rental car and to hop on a Ferry and head to the south side of the north island where Lindsay was visiting.

We had a such a great time. I would love to go back and see more of the South Island.

Soon after we arrived in Wellington we met up with Lindsay at a little restaurant for dinner and Kelly and I were….wait, what’s the word? It’s the opposite of impressed. Disappointed? Shocked? At the size of the wine glasses. So.very.petite. But at least the company was great and the wine delicious.

Ok. That was a lot of wine talk. If you don’t hear from me soon, I’ll get back to you in about 30 days.

Have any of my friends visited New Zealand? If not what is the ONE place you would like to revisit?

Seeing F*R*I*E*N*D*S And We Were Van Gogh’ed

One of my favorite blog friends Ernie was in the vicinity for spring break and wanted to meet up. I had my assistant look into my schedule and see where I could fit in a little gab-fest; Friday afternoon it was! She and her family had spent the day at Fort Myers beach and it was only an hour for me; naturally we met at an ice cream shop because Vacation calls for Ice Cream. We had a great hour long conversation and could have sat and talked all day, but I had a meter running and I’m partial to NOT being towed. Her daughters are just as bright, sweet and funny as I’d imagined; basically mini versions of their mom.

Ernie is the sixth blog friend I’ve met over the years and so far I’m Zero for Six at meeting a Sociopath who wants to make a skin mask out of me.


Ernie doesn’t show her family faces on her blog, so I need to respect that too. I know I’ve professed before that I have zero artistic abilities, so now you can see I was clearly lying telling the truth.

They DID see a dolphin & they DID have ice cream (those aren’t shanks in their hands)Clearly, I am the shortest one there, per usual.

Van Gogh And My Little Artists

The girls and I had a ‘play date’ on Saturday that involved an hour and forty minute drive for me with two stops along the way to pick up my children on the side of the highway. Wait., that doesn’t sound safe. We met at a place near the highway, which is funny since I recall a few times I wanted to leave them somewhere along the highway. Or maybe just a small country road? I don’t sugarcoat that there were challenging times while raising teenagers.

The good news is we got through it and I love spending time with them. I purchased tickets to Van Gogh-The Immersive Experience for the three of us. We had reservations for a lovely lunch first and then we high-tailed it to the event since you have a timed entry and lunch margaritas took longer than expected.

(FYI, while looking for the link I saw that there are two different versions of this around the world, we didn’t have the virtual reality experience that they show on the other site and now I’m so mad I could cut off my ear)

I didn’t exactly know what to expect, but it was a really cool experience. The first 15 minutes you walk through an area where you read the timeline of Van Gogh’s life. He was a ‘complicated’ man who at first thought about being a preacher before going into the art world. He was SO very hard on himself. The girls and I agreed that if he realized in 130 years people would be seeing his work, he would have really lost his marbles. Although that happened anyway which is very sad.

Then you plop yourself into the huge room with canvases all around that morph from one painting to another.

I felt like I died and went to heaven when the entire room was sunflowers; I didn’t even take a pic of that part as I was mesmerized.

It was so cool to see the progression of all his work. Well, I’m not such a fan of all the paintings he did of himself with his ear/head bandaged; that made me sad. He really struggled with mental illness. Did you know he did some of his most renowned work while in an asylum? (there’s hope for me yet!)

Here are some unknown facts about Vincent if you are interested. (theories that he might NOT have cut off his own ear or even taken his own life)

I Have My Own Art Gallery

While we were enjoying the exhibit I was reminded that I also have artists; this is a gallery wall in our back hallway of paintings the girls did in elementary school. A little Vincent (Starry Night) and Georgia O’Keeffe, plus more pretties.

I’m gonna keep this artwork up until I have some NEW little budding artists one day.

Does anyone collect art? Does your art look as special as mine? I’m talking about my kids art, not MY special art.


The Sky, The Moon(t)And You

A few weeks ago I looked through the front doors and captured this lovely sunset; no editing because why would I want to, plus I don’t know how.

We are blessed with amazing sunsets from our front door more times than not.

The next afternoon I got an alert on my phone that lighting was in the area and to seek shelter, so like a normal person I went outside to see for myself.

I was kind of happy to see these dark clouds as we’ve not had rain in forever; the grass is as dry as my personality. Wouldn’t you know it thundered, rumbled and just looked ominous, but not one drop of water fell from the sky. NOT ONE.

(Since I started this post weeks ago, we had a huge downpour that flooded out lots of the mulch I just laid and had the pool as full as it could get)


Remember last month when I spent the weekend with my girlfriend D? Of course you do, what else do you have to think about? Anyhoo, she told me that her son Kelly (who passed away) called the moon: Moont when he was little. When he was an adult and traveling around the country, he would often stop what he was doing call his Mom and say:

Go outside and look at the moont while I’m looking at the moont.

I just thought that was the sweetest thing.

So now when I see the moon, I think of the two of them. Last week I sent her a picture of my moont and she went out and took a pic of her moont.

I just love that wherever we are on this planet, we can look at the same moont.

When you see the moont tonight, I want you to think about me.

Well, unless it’s this kind of moon.

I had a very busy weekend with various things that I will be posting about soon.

Luckily, we only fed 14 people on Easter Sunday and not 120; so that was a piece of kale cake. I got to spend TWO days with my delightful offspring and part of my weekend involved meeting up with One Of You.

If it wasn’t you, could you guess who it was?