Chilean Adventure Part 1: The Beach + Wine Tasting

Recently I made a list of all the places I wanted to visit in South America.  I’m determined to start checking some major sites off my bucket list. This time–Checking out Vina Del Mar and Casablanca Wine Region in Chile.

We flew into Santiago and made the one hour trek to Vina Del Mar. a cute seaside town that reminded me a bit of Sydney but with a mix of modern and traditional architecture. We stayed at the Sheraton, which was right on the water and offered the most incredible views!




It was nice and sunny and hot when we arrived so we headed straight down to the pool. The pool was perched right over the ocean and as we swam, it felt like we were floating over the Pacific. 




The rooms at the Sheraton had amazing balconies overlooking the water and you could hear the waves as you slept at night. 



We enjoyed the local seafood fair consisting of ceviche, fresh fish and pastas. The sunset over the Pacific while we were eating dinner was truly amazing!



About 30 minutes from Vina Del Mar is the Chilean wine region of Casablanca. Although it is not the most well-known wine region, it certainly has backbone with 18 wineries and a gorgeous setup.


Our first stop was at Loma Larga, a charming vineyard with a wide range of varietals.  We tasted four wines and favored the Cabernet Franc and the Pinot Noir.  Our sommelier was incredibly friendly and spoke perfect English.  Definitely a good stop!



We then headed to lunch at Casas Del Bosque, which was seriously gorgeous and the sun appeared just in time for our lunch! 




We dined overlooking the vineyards enjoying a glass of their Pinot Noir and munching on empanadas, shrimp and Mahi Mahi.




I wanted to lay on the chaise lounges in the sun after lunch but my two year old had different plans.  Plus we had to get to the last winery of the day!



We ended our day at Bodegas RE.  We were a little late. It warmly welcomed to join the tour that took us to their vineyards and then to their cellars.  Bodega makes their own olive oil and balsamics.  They are in the process of making a balsamic in the Italian style that takes 20 years!!  They are trying a method that will cut that time in half.  We were able to smell the barrels and they smell so sweet and good!


We also got to see how they make their own liquor using various fruits.  So cool!


Bodega makes some of its wines in these huge clay pots.  I’ve never seen anything like it before and it is so cool!  It is only available for their reds though.



After the tour we sat down for our tasting and thoroughly enjoyed the delicious range of wines they have. Bodega actually uses a grape called Carinena, a grape that was widely thought to not be that great but their style of using this grape is actually quite delicious and it is becoming very trendy!


After a successful tasting, it was time to head to the airport for part 2 of our Chilean adventure. Check back next time!

A Chilean Adventure by the #beach and #wine tasting! Click To Tweet


Tropical Thanksgiving

I mentioned Monday that this was a big party weekend around here and I wasn’t kidding!  After Cooper’s Transportation Birthday Party on Saturday, we kicked off Sunday with Tropical Thanksgiving!  My parents and my in-laws were both visiting and overlapping for just this one weekend so I knew I had to fit in Thanksgiving.  This year I knew I would have a hard time finding some of the more traditional Thanksgiving foods like butternut squash, pumpkin and more so I decided to take matters into my own hands and enter: Tropical Thanksgiving!

I have to say that I’m actually obsessed with this now and want to do it every year.  The star flavor was pineapple and it blended old and new tradition so well!

The day started at 4:30am when I popped my 30 lb turkey in the oven!  I don’t think I got a photo of the thing whole but it was HUGE!  Don’t worry, I went back to bed after putting in the oven but with an estimated 9 hours of cooking time, I knew I needed to get it in so we wouldn’t be eating at midnight (especially because my parents’ flight was at 11pm!).  Plus, our entire street was to be without power from 9:30-3:30 (it was actually about 9:45-6!!!) so I had to get things going.  Luckily I have a gas oven.

We started out with a cocktail hour featuring Coconut Shrimp with Spicy Pineapple Dipping Sauce and Pineapple Lime Rickeys.  I carved out the inside of mini pineapples and then froze the pineapples to act as our cocktail glasses.  I then took the pineapple innards and blended them up in the blender to make a juice and added lime juice, agave and vodka.  Aloooooha!



[Read more…]

Cooper’s Transportation Party

Hello hello!  We had one craaaaazy busy weekend here at Casa Bendall but it was so so worth it!

Saturday we celebrated the little guy’s 2nd birthday with a big bash (seriously, the kid has more friends than me!).  Cooper’s Transportation Party was a big hit but a ton of work leading up to it!

The morning dawned a little overcast but the skies began to open as the guests arrived.  I purchased a party kit on Etsy to make our transportation dreams come to light.  I knew Cooper would love it because he is obsessed with all things cars, trains and airplanes!


But because I knew a 2 year old wouldn’t really understand the concept of it being his party, I made sure to get some great catering for the adults at the Fueling Station!







And, of course, I had to make sure there was something available for the little ones–popcorn and candy it is!




I loved putting together all the cute decorations for Cooper!  The centerpieces and the banners totally won me over!




Another highlight for the adults (because as long as the parents are happy, right?), was the Pit Stop!


Mimosas and beers for the adults and lemonade for the kids!


And of course, I didn’t forget the kids!  There were plenty of toys to tickle their fancies!  A train set, a race track and plenty of cars for starters!



A big Thomas the Tank and Fire Engine Play Tent for fun!



Some fancy cars to take for a spin!


And a coloring station full of transportation themed color-ins!


But I think everyone’s favorite part of the whole party were the sweets!


The dessert table!


This Cooper cake was just beyond!  Trains, planes and cars all in one plus his name and a 2! 🙂


The cupcakes were equally adorable!  But I really loved the cookies (and that is what Coops chose!).


My mom’s pumpkin bars were pretty amazing as well!


And who do you think cut out and glued all the little stickers on the candies!  #ihaveanocdproblem



At the end, all the guests left with a cute little bucket from Coops saying Thanks for Flying By and taking home a coloring paper, crayons, candy and some playdough or bubbles!


It was a totally exhausting 2 hours but totally worth it for my little 2 year old!



Party Printables: Amanda’s Parties To Go

Cake, Cupcakes & Cookies: Tammy Montagna

Catering: DeKomer Eventos


Friday’s Food & Fitness: Understanding MyPlate

Hello and happy Friday to all!  We celebrated Cooper’s second birthday yesterday, although technically his party is tomorrow.  I made him some spaghetti bolognese for dinner and treated him to some chocolate cake after.  He was a happy fellow.  Plus, while I took five minutes to go to the bathroom he found his birthday present.  

I bought him this amazing car racing track from Little People that I knew he was going to love.  My Dad put it together and then we covered it with a bed sheet and I hid it in my closet.  Well, I opened the door after using the restroom to have Cooper run up to the door and start pointing and saying “Wow!” (ok already so cute!).  He had managed to go into my closet, find the present wrapped in a sheet, take the sheet off and drag the present out into the bedroom.  I’m not even kidding.  It was perhaps the funniest and sweetest thing ever!

I had been saving the present for today because the Hubs had to be away for work and I wanted us to both give it to him.  But Cooper had other plans.  Apparently he didn’t understand it was his birthday but definitely understood he was due a present!  Haha!  Oh well, at least he was so excited to talk to Dada on FaceTime that he grabbed my phone and ran into the living room (where he dragged it to next) to show Dada on the phone his new toy.  He showed him how to race the car while pointing, laughing, clapping his hand over his mouth and shouting “wow”!  #priceless

Friday's Food and Fitness

Anywho, welcome to Friday’s Food & Fitness!

[Read more…]

Happy Birthday Cooper!

Someone is TWO…well almost!  Tomorrow my little baby becomes a baby no more when he turns two.  I can’t believe it!  He has grown up right before my eyes.  Everyday he is such a joy!

Cooper 2

Five days old.

It’s hard to type this without tearing up.  Cooper has grown and learned so much and I am loving all of his new words and imitations!  Plus, his new found independence.  Even small things like grabbing something he wants of my plate in a restaurant or learning to dip chips into dip.  The simple things amaze me.


So happy birthday to my little son!  You are the light of our lives!


Alice in Wonderland 11