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Since we took a pesto class on our last trip, I decided it would be fun to do a wine tasting tour in Cinque Terre on our second trip.  The Cinque Terre region is known for a dry white wine called Sciacchetrà, which is made from two types of grapes.  While every resident of Cinque Terre has their own wine terrace, they are not all maintained and much of the wine that is produced in the region is sold locally.

Disclaimer:  This page contains affiliate links, which may earn me a few pennies towards a future adventure.

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Wine Tasting Tour in Cinque Terre – The Basics

Our tour was originally booked leaving from Riomaggiore.  Two days before our tour, we received an email and text message saying that the Riomaggiore tour did not make.  We were offered a tour in Manarola on the same day at the same time or we could opt for a refund.  Since we were staying in Manarola, we agreed to the change.

We met Alessandro outside of a local restaurant right as the daytrippers started to descend upon Manarola.  Alessandro was a Manarola native and a vineyard owner.  He checked our shoes (wear comfortable shoes appropriate for hiking) and we set off towards the harbor.  Right before we hit the harbor, he led us up the cliff side and away from the crowds.

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Wine Tasting Tour in Cinque Terre – The History Lessons

Our first stop as we climbed the hillside was at the cemetery that overlooks the coastline and the sea.  Here, Alessandro explained that there was less than 280 natives left in the village.  I touched on this in my post about the best place to stay in Cinque Terre, but essentially young locals are being priced out of the market because of tourist demand for apartments.  Many are forced to move to La Spezia, which is a larger city and has more affordable housing options.

As we continued to wind around the backside of Manarola, Alessandro educated us about the wine terraces.  As mentioned above, every resident has their own wine terrace.  Some are no longer maintained because it’s very expensive to do so.  The drywall can cost more than $7,000 to repair because all the materials must be brought in and most modern technology cannot be used.  This is true of the farming equipment as well.  Alessandro has acquired a number of terraces because people know how well he cares for them.  His terraces are on the backside of Manarola, overlooking the harbor where the locals swim and looking out towards Corniglia.

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Wine Tasting Tour in Cinque Terre – The Wine

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Sciacchetrà is a bit of a temperamental wine, and it can be heavily affected by the elements.  Since it’s difficult to use modern technology on the terraces, Cinque Terre wines area little more expensive.  It’s not mass produced like Chianti.  As a result, most of the wine that is manufactured in Cinque Terre is sold to local merchants and restaurants.

The wine is comprised of three different types of grapes (Vermentino, Bosco, and Albarola), although the percentages are up to the individual wine producer.  After showing us the different ways that he grows his grapes, Alessandro led us down to his cellar, which was a block away from our hotel.  He showed us how he meticulously checks the temperature to ensure that it’s not fermenting too fast or too slow.   His cellar had several large tanks where the wine is fermented and later stored until he’s ready to bottle it.  Because space is at a premium in Manarola, he only bottles what he needs to deliver – there’s not much room for storage.

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Wine Tasting Tour in Cinque Terre – The Bonuses!

One of the things that made this tour great was how much insight Alessandro was able to share with us about Manarola, tourism, restaurants, and of course, the wine.  He really went above and beyond the normal tour guide.  It’s clear he’s extremely passionate about Manarola and wine.  He’ll shoot straight with you and answer any questions you have about the Cinque Terre.   Spoiler alert:  It’s not a fishing village!

For more Cinque Terre planning, tips and tricks:

cinque terre trip planning, best place to stay in cinque terre

making pesto in cinque terrebest gelato in cinque terre

why you need to stay in cinque terre

journey of doing - wine tasting tour in cinque terreP I N I T

Wanderful WednesdayP I N I T

Linking up for #WanderfulWednesday

Isabel, Marcella, Vanessa, Lauren

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Work has been a doozy since I got back a few weeks ago.  My stress level has been off the charts.  I constantly feel like I’m under siege.  Even my back will seize up and make sure I know that stress is coming.  It hasn’t been fun.

Thankfully, weekends are (finally) truly weekends for me – and that’s been good for my soul.  Linking up with B!

Date Nights / Day Dates

One thing that has been great, however, is my husband’s commitment to date nights on the weekend.  He surprised me with the idea the first weekend I was home – and so we got dressed up, went to Maggiano’s, and spent the evening at Half Price Books.  Last weekend, we went furniture shopping and had a late lunch at Mariano’s, a place we both have wanted to try.  This past weekend, we went back to Maggiano’s and wandered around NorthPark afterward.  It’s been a really nice way to unwind and I look forward to the weekends more now than ever.  My husband threw out the staycation idea this weekend, but I want to wait until it gets warmer so we can enjoy the pool.

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Mother’s Day

We took my mother and my grandmother out to brunch at El Primo’s yesterday.  Halfway through my mom asked if we had anything else planned for the day (we didn’t), and if not, we could go get manicures and pedicures.  I think the last mani/pedi I had was for our wedding – no joke.  It was really nice.  I did the new gel/powder polish, and I’m interested to see how long it lasts.  I am pleased with how it looks though.

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Photo Editing / New Link Up!

Ever since my Seagate drive failed, I’ve been on the photo editing bandwagon.  (I don’t want to find out I lose all my photos when I’m finally ready to edit them.)  My favorite source of inspiration is others’ pictures – and I love to share my own.  I hate to think that all our beautiful pictures just live on a hard drive somewhere.  I’m going to start sharing photos on Thursday with a Postcard Photo post.  (See the Italy Postcard Photo series / Europe Postcard photo series.)  If you want to share pictures of places you love, I invite you to link up.  It’s low pressure.  You don’t need to write about it (unless you want to), just share pictures.  If you want to just post on social media, feel free to use #postcardphotos and share your images on Thursdays!

journey of doing - Postcard Photo Series Link Up!

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  • Pinky - What a lovely idea, date nights. Le Husband and I try to do more date nights now that he is traveling more. The manicure color is gorgeous, great pick!

    Hooray for a fun linkup, guess I need to learn to edit, huh?ReplyCancel

  • SMD @ Life According to Steph - So glad your mom suggested an extra treat yo’self time yesterday – you deserve it!ReplyCancel

  • Bri @ My Life As... - I’m sorry that you’ve been so stressed out! I love the idea of having day dates/date night every weekend though!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders - I think that you end up forgetting how nice a date night is until you haven’t had one in a while! Chris and I finally had a dinner and a movie date night this past weekend and it was so awesome! I love the idea for this linkup, and I definitely think that I can try to linkup!ReplyCancel

  • Biana - I just did dip gel / powder for the first time this weekend as well and I’m hopeful that it will stay for a while – but oh man you have gorgeous nails!! xo, BianaReplyCancel

  • Christine Keane - I love date nights! They are much needed! I’m feeling you on the stress too, work has been crazy for us as well and I just want a massage lol. Can’t wait for your linkup! I’ll be joining you Thursday!ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - I’m dying to try the new gel/powder – how is it holding up?! And good for you guys for keeping up on date nights. We have been ultimate FAILURES at that lately!ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - I’m sure you’ve seen, but I’ve been sharing pictures on Wednesday for #WordlessWednesday. It’s a lot of fun to reminisce about past travel just by editing, at least, one image a week. But I do need to find a new method to my madness. Right now, it’s not extremely clear which images I’ve edited and which I haven’t. I don’t use Lightroom to organize my files or anything like that because it takes up too much room on my hard drive. (Used to, though.) How do you organize and keep straight which images you’ve edited and which you haven’t? And a fun question, do you ever delete your images? (I’ve heard people go both ways. Sometimes I find that years later I can edit an image successfully that I thought was trash years before. But not deleting images takes up valuable space, so…)

    P.S. Lovely nails. 🙂ReplyCancel

I’m so excited about our guest bathroom renovation reveal today!  It’s been a hot minute since I talked about anything related to our renovation.  That’s for a couple of reasons.  One, my husband and I agreed that we would take our time on furnishing and decorating the house so I could find things I really loved.  Two, all the renovation drama took an emotional toll on me and it’s still not a good subject.

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But, today!  Today, I’m back and I’m rowdy.  When we started thinking about our guest bathroom remodel, we had one objective.  Add value but save money.  I found a lot of ways to save money while remodeling, and I think the changes we made helped update the bathroom.  SO.  Mission accomplished.

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Disclaimer: This post contains shopstyle/amazon links that may earn me a few pennies towards a future purchase if you click on them. 

Jack and Jill Guest Bath Renovation Reveal: What We Changed

I thought I had pictures of everything before we started remodeling, but I can’t find any pictures of the guest bath right now.  #BloggerFail

The biggest change we made was that we tore down a privacy wall and flipped the bathroom entirely.  The reason I decided to flip the wall that the vanity was on is simply because everything would need to be extremely custom to stay symmetrical.  Custom mirrors, custom sinks, custom vanity… the list goes on and on.  While we are going to have to frost the window to prevent a peep show, I thought that was the lesser of two evils.

journey of doing - Guest Bathroom Renovation RevealP I N I T

Another thing we did to keep costs down was keep things consistent throughout our renovation.  We used the same quartz countertops throughout our entire house and used one cabinet and trim color throughout.  We could have used the same wall color because there’s not a discernible difference between Glass Slipper and Whispering Spring.

Jack and Jill Guest Bath Renovation Reveal: The After Photos

Between the phantom 62″ bathtub saga and the stand your ground over a toilet nonsense, this bathroom showed us a lot about our contractor’s true colors (before things completely unraveled).  That being said, I’m really happy at how it came out.  (Now, if I could just figure out how to reinstall the pocket door lock that was installed upside down…  #muchprofessional)

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journey of doing - Guest Bathroom Renovation RevealP I N I T

journey of doing - Guest Bathroom Renovation RevealP I N I T

journey of doing - Guest Bathroom Renovation RevealP I N I T

Jack and Jill Guest Bath Renovation Reveal: Details & Source List

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journey of doing - guest bathroom renovation revealP I N I T


1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5


Paint Colors

Walls – Benjamin Moore Whispering Spring

Trim // Cabinet // Ceiling // Doors – Restoration Hardware Seafoam (Benjamin Moore Color Match)

Cabinet Hardware

Knobs // Drawer Pulls

Quartz Countertops

Samsung – Gentle Gray


Floors – Arizona Tile PE Paesteum

Walls – Artistic Tile Savoy Leaf

Accent Tile – Oceanside Tile Tessera Atmosphere Blend

Hardware (polished chrome)

Bath & Showerhead // Sinks & Handles // Towel Bar


Kate Spade Harbour Drive towels, platinum 

 Kate Spade Harbour Drive shower curtain, platinum

Kassastex Tribecka bath accessories, seafoam

Mirrors purchased at Home Goods

  For more renovation reveal posts:

kitchen renovation reveal, formal dining room renovation reveal

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When I first started looking for the best place to stay in Cinque Terre, I was looking for creature comforts.  (Disclaimer: I’m a hotel snob.  My mom worked in the hotel industry, so I’ve been able to stay in some pretty fabulous places.)  On our second trip, during our wine tasting tour, we spent a morning with a Manarola local.  He explained that the increased tourism (and demand for apartments) has priced many young people out of the market, and there are less than 300 local residents of Manarola now.  If this trend continues, Cinque Terre will soon just be a pretty place to take pictures (more so than it already is, but more on that later).  His stories made me appreciate La Torretta even more.  I can confidently say that it is the best place to stay in Cinque Terre – from both a comfort and sustainable tourism perspective.

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The Best Place to Stay in Cinque Terre: The La Torretta Arrival Experience

It was difficult for me to fathom what Cinque Terre would be like.  Similar to Venice, there are no(t many) cars allowed.  I read of the winding stairs, cautionary messages of not bringing too much luggage, and the importance of being in shape.  For that reason, I booked the luggage transfer from the Manarola train station to the hotel during our first visit.  When we emerged from the tunnel, La Torretta was waiting with a golf cart to whisk us (and our luggage) up the hillside.

This year, our flight from London would arrive in Pisa at 5:00pm, so it was unlikely we would arrive in Manarola before the 7:00pm cutoff.  We were so excited to be back in Cinque Terre though, it didn’t matter.  The air was cool and crisp.  The streets were mostly empty.  We dragged our bags up the hillside, stopping a few times to catch our breath, and soon arrived at the plaza in front of the hotel.  The hardest part of our journey being over, I scampered to check-in, leaving my husband to handle the bags – at his request, of course!

The front desk immediately ran to help my husband with the bags.  They took our passports, escorted us to the terrace, handed us our glasses of prosecco, and headed off to prepare our room.  Vacation officially starts here.  It was the first moment I took a moment to just exhale.  La Torretta does check-in especially well; it’s a great reminder that one of beauties of Cinque Terre is the ability to just slow down.

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The Best Place to Stay in Cinque Terre: A Tale of Two Rooms

We’ve stayed at La Torretta for the past two years.  The first year I booked a classic room, and this year, I took whatever I could get, which ended up being the junior garden suite.

Classic Room

  • Classic Room with Mountain View
  • Private terrace with a sea view
  • Queen bed
  • Small traditional closet
  • In-room safe
  • Nespresso machine
  • Free minibar
  • Free breakfast
  • Rainhead shower
  • Bottle of prosecco

Junior Suite

  • Junior Garden View Suite with small sitting area
  • HUGE terrace with lounge chairs, perfect for afternoon naps
  • Queen bed
  • Armoire for closet
  • In-room safe
  • Nespresso machine
  • Free minibar
  • Free breakfast
  • Rainhead shower
  • Bottle of process

journey of doing - best place to stay in cinque terre; la torretta junior garden view suiteP I N I T

The biggest difference is the size and the sitting area, but honestly, the classic room was so cozy and romantic, I didn’t notice it.  We preferred the terrace to the sitting area.  The bathroom in both rooms is pretty small, but the water pressure is good and you can control the temperature well.  Both got the job done.  The one thing I would advise is to book a room with a terrace.  We enjoyed spending our afternoons on it, enjoying fresh air (and prosecco).  The breakfast terrace is always available, too.

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The Best Place to Stay in Cinque Terre: Includes Free Breakfast

Typically, we aren’t into breakfast.  Our health habits include skipping breakfast, but when we’re in Cinque Terre, we burn so much glycogen that it’s important to supplement our protein.  La Torretta’s breakfast is perfect for that.  In addition to hot dishes, including eggs and quiche, there are cold cuts and cheeses, fresh fruit, pastries and more.  Sweet or savory, they have everyone covered.  My husband loved going to breakfast on the terrace while I preferred to stay in the room.  He would bring things upstairs for me, but every morning before we would head out, the staff would offer to make me  anything I wanted.  While I wouldn’t take them up on it, the service really is exceptional in that way. The best part is – breakfast is included with your room rate.  It’s not an add on or a loyalty perk, it’s just part of the experience.

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The Best Place to Stay in Cinque Terre: Why Manarola?

After our trip to Cinque Terre, we thought we might want to stay in another village.  However, after this year, my husband declared we will only stay in Manarola.

Simply put, life in Manarola is easy.

Well, that hike up the hill isn’t necessarily easy… but it’s not the end of the world either.  Manarola harbor is gorgeous in the morning.  It’s absolutely stunning at blue hour.  And, it’s pretty magical at night, too.  It’s a quiet village – there aren’t a lot of things that stay open really late. (That goes for Cinque Terre collectively, at least in April when we’re there).  Once you leave the harbor, the crowds thin out – even in the midday.  The wine terraces are the best maintained in the region. You can even walk around the village through them!  We think it has the best views of the entire village.  You can see all parts of it.  Most of the villages have one distinct view or vantage point, but no matter where you are in Manarola, you can appreciate everything it has to offer.

So – it’s Manarola (and La Torretta) for us!

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For more Cinque Terre photos:

manarola cinque terre photos – 2016, riomaggiore cinque terre postcard photos – 2016

cinque terre hike photos – 2016, monterroso al mare cinque terre postcard photos – 2016

vernazza cinque terre photos – 2016

For more Cinque Terre planning, tips and tricks:

cinque terre trip planning, best place to stay in cinque terre

making pesto in cinque terre, wine tasting tour in cinque terre

best gelato in cinque terrewhy you need to stay in cinque terre

Wanderful WednesdayP I N I T

Linking up for #WanderfulWednesday

Isabel, Marcella, Vanessa, Lauren

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I’m going to apologize in advance.  This post may make you uncomfortable.  I try to keep things relevant and useful in this little space.  And, that’s exactly why I’m telling you why you need a home back up and storage solution today.   Learn from my mistakes, grasshoppers.

Disclaimer: This post contains shopstyle/amazon links that may earn me a few pennies towards a future purchase if you click on them.  I only link to products that I personally recommend.  You’ll notice that Seagate isn’t included. 

journey of doing - Why You Need a Home Back Up and Storage SolutionP I N I T

Before our trip to celebrate my mom finishing radiation, my husband picked up a portable Seagate hard drive for me to take.  I typically use the larger WD external hard drives (that require external power) so I was excited to have a more compact option.

The Seagate drive worked beautifully while we were gone.  I had no problems downloading my pictures onto it, accessing them, and I even used it a few times after we got back.  A few months ago, I sat down to start editing them. My computer wouldn’t recognize the drive.  It would click but nothing would happen.

I reached out to my computer genius friends to troubleshoot it.  No luck.  I took it to Best Buy and MicroCenter, both of which needed $2,000 to try to recover the files.  I decided to pay $50 to send it to Seagate Data Recovery Services for a diagnostic test and hopefully ($750) recovery.  No dice.  They sent me a replacement drive (thanks but no thanks) and a note that said sorry (not sorry).  We can’t help recover your priceless pictures.

I was really upset; I was the only person who took pictures on this trip. My mom was counting on me to share our  amazing pictures with her.  I dropped off the drive with Ace Data Recovery on a Saturday. They called by midday Tuesday to let me know they could recover NOTHING from the drive.

You know what the worst part is?  Seagate is in class-action litigation over this exact external hard drive because they fail at a higher than usual rate.  I WISH I WOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT BEFORE I USED IT.  Seriously, HOW and WHY are they still selling these drives?

Why You Need a Home Back Up and Storage Solution

Anyway.  Now that I’ve given you that PSA about Seagate, let’s talk about why you need a Plan B.  Simply put, technology fails.  And, if you’re anything like me, you’ve stored all your memories on a piece of equipment that absolutely will fail.  Eventually.

If you work in an office, you may or may not know that your files are (likely) backed up by a redundancy of systems.  When I set up my husband’s office, I put in a system with multiple mirrored hard drives and the entire server is backed up to the cloud.


Because I’m stupid?  Possibly.

Because I thought it was too expensive and unnecessary?  Definitely.

Either way, I needed to change that and back up all of my files before all my external hard drives failed.  (I live in a worst case scenario mindset.  It comes from being married to an attorney.)  Instead of opting for the Windows Server license set up, I decided to grab a QNap personal server.  I installed two hard drives (for mirroring purposes) and backed it up to the cloud.  No more catastrophic failures for me!

Why You Need a Home Back Up and Storage Solution: Setting it Up

  • The QNap system was SO easy to set up.  The hard drives were plug and play; screw them into the trays, pop them into the box, and plug it into the wall and the internet.  Done in less than 15 minutes (which included locating a screwdriver).
  • Once everything is connected, you login to the admin page, install the software, and let the system restart. This took me about 30 minutes from start to finish.
  • I chose to mount the server in my favorites on my computer.  The QNap software has several apps to help you copy your music files, organize your photos, etc., but I just went for organizing everything into folders.  I started with the Seagate drive (which took over an hour) for obvious reasons.  I haven’t backed up my music yet, but I’ll get to that eventually.

journey of doing - why you need a home back up and storage solutionP I N I T

I’m really hoping this system will keep me organized and prevent any further technology glitches.  It REALLY sucks that we have no pictures from our Christmas trip to Europe.  And, it sucks even more because Seagate KNOWS they are selling a defective drive.  Buyer beware.

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  • Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders - I’m seriously so sorry that you had to go through this and that you lost all of your pictures from your trip with your mom! I always correlate my pictures with memories which is why I’m such an avid picture taker. Thankfully my husband has already done the redundancy backing up stuff with our pictures at home, but I swear I still find myself worrying that I’ll lose some of these priceless memories. Maybe that means that I need to get better about actually making our photobooks from our trips and our family yearbooks…ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - Aaaand I will be backing up my pictures today. On my WD external hard drive – SO THANKFUL that I didn’t go with a Seagate now!!! I’m so sorry that this happened!ReplyCancel

  • Kate @ Green Fashionista - Oooooh no! I’m so sorry that happened! We recently backed up all the pictures on the home computer in fear of losing everything if the computer crashed or someone broke in, etc… Now I need to check to see what we saved them to 😛
    Green FashionistaReplyCancel

  • Rachel - Oh no! That is indeed a cautionary tale. I’m so sorry that happened to you 🙁 pictures are very important to me too so I’d have been absolutely devastated to lose such important ones. Having a decent data setup is something I always put off but this is making me realise I need to do it! Thank you for the reminder and sorry again about your photosReplyCancel

  • Mandy - In April, I bought another drive to backup my files. Finally. You’d think I’d have already done this since in 2013, both my computer and backup hard drive failed on me at the same time and I lost all of my files from years before… I, too, did everything possible taking my computer to Apple and my backup drive to a small computer store … yet nothing. Same conclusion as you received. For $2000 I could get my files back. We replaced my computer hard drive (it was under warranty) and gave up on those files and never felt it was worth the $2000 to get my backup files back. *sigh* Even though I don’t have the mirrored setup you have, I have two small compact hard drives that have the same files on them, some of those files have been uploaded to the Amazon cloud, and my actual computer has its own backup drive it automatically backs up to in my home. Phew! Even though I’m not as “backed up” as I could be, I think, for most situations, I’ll be in the clear if one drive (or even two) dies. Hopefully, once I get more of my files uploaded to the cloud (which I’m currently working on), I’ll be even more protected! 🙂

    Did Ace Data charge you the $2000 for the files they couldn’t recover? Is the hard drive just dead or do you have any other options for obtaining the files? Your new backup system looks great! I love that it helps you to organize all of your files. 🙂ReplyCancel

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