Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Last week was the occasion of another of our New Year's traditions: An outing to the Napa Valley for the annual Vanderbilt sale.

Vanderbilt is a very special one-of-a-kind home decor and gift shop in St. Helena.

Once a year, for several weeks, Vanderbilt has its annual sale. The sale usually starts during the first week of January and end before the ends of January. This year's sale ends on January 24.

Some items...usually discontinued and seasonal items...are marked down 50%. This year, to celebrate the store's 25th anniversary, all other in-store merchandise is marked down 25%. Special ordered items will be 20% off. The sale continues until January 24, so you still have plenty of time to pay a visit.

We headed up for the first day of the sale, leaving home early in the morning in the cold and the fog.

We got to St. Helena a bit before Vanderbilt opened, giving us time to get hot drinks and pastries at the nearby Napa Valley Coffee Roastery.

Since Louie accompanies us on this annual outing, all our dining was outdoors...we were prepared, wearing several layers of jackets and sweaters. Yes, Louie is here with Jim, but under the table, presumably keeping extra warm and eating dropped pastry crumbs!

After more than an hour of shopping, I came away a bit poorer, but richer in a collection of gifts for birthdays, weddings, and babies for the coming year, as well as lovely Christmas paperware, some special cook books, and other goodies for myself.

We spent a little more time wandering in and out of our favorite shops in St. Helena and then headed for lunch in Yountville. Unfortunately, St. Helena has almost no restaurants with outdoor seating.

While no one without a very good reason to do so wanted to dine outdoors in Yountville, Bouchon graciously welcomed the three of us on their patio. With two heaters surrounding our table, we had a cozy al fresco lunch.

Jim had the Bibb Lettuce Salad and a steaming bowl of French Onion Soup. His glass of wine made him forget that it was January and a cold foggy day.

My choice was the Croque Madame. I replaced the French Fries that usually are served with it, with an order of Haricots Verts (thin French Green Beans).

A fun family day for us!

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