England and Italy, Nope. Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo, Sure.

The good news is that my husband and I are really good at planning interesting trips. The not-so-good news is that we’ve also become fairly proficient at cancelling them. Let me just say that 2017 was a year of almosts — almost packing, almost flying, almost touring, almost a lot. Our first failed effort was in May when we had joined the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK and scored two tickets for the opening day of the Chelsea Flower Show in London. That was to be followed by two weeks of visits to the stately homes and gardens of Britain, great West End theatre, The Imperial War Museum, Churchill's war rooms, RAF Duxford Museum, Tate Museum and well, you get the picture.

 Chelsea flower show

Those plans went down the proverbial drain when I fell and fractured my left wrist, breaking the titanium plate which had been installed the first time I fell 2 years ago!

Undaunted, we cancelled that trip and started planning a trip for September. This time, I was first going to join a dear friend from Pittsburgh on a 10-day cooking tour to Portofino and the Piedmont area of Italy. Then I was going to fly to London and join my husband for two weeks to celebrate my 77th birthday, his 86th birthday and our 57th wedding anniversary. What could go wrong, right?

Major surgery, that’s what. So in July, instead of packing my ballgown and jewels for a London gala, I was packing bathrobe, slippers and lipstick for a trip to St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica.

I’m not going to say it was like a walk in St. James Park, but it turned out well. Well enough so I could once again practice my growing aptitude for cancelling trips. So with International travel on the back burner (my doctor put her foot down), I was forced into a recovery mode. That’s when my husband suggested an alternative itinerary. “How does Hearst Castle and Paso Robles strike you?” Trade London and Portofino for Central California? Why not.

So a few months later, we packed our bags and drove up the coast to San Simeon and Hearst Castle.

 Dinning hall at Hearst Castle

After a visit to San Francisco with our children and grandchildren, we motored south to Paso Robles. Why the City of the Pass of the Oaks?We had heard some interesting comments about the area, including that Native Americans lived in the area thousands of years even before the mission era and that in recent years, there had been a substantial increase of fine wineries. Going online, I found a hotel/vineyard which immediately struck me as an almost suitable substitute for an Italian villa, the Allegretto Vinyard Resort.

 Allegretto Hotel in Paso Robles

There seemed to be so many photo opportunities that I immediately changed into my Isla top, one of my artfulhome outfits. I love wearing their clothes - everything I wear feels like it was designed with me in mind.

 Sandra on swing at the Allegretton Hotel in Paso Robles
 Sandra triptych at Allegretto Hotel in Paso Robles

I find this Isla top by Sympli from ArtfulHome to be quite glamorous. I have always loved mandarin necklines. It hides a multitude of chins. So this is perfect. I also find this top to be very slimming. The top works with jeans, slacks and tights. But there is a pair of pants, Jolt by Sympli, that artfulhome featured with this top that I have ordered. I love the slits in the front. Can't wait to get them. I'm going to Washington DC this January. I plan on wearing this top and the Jolt pants for a fabulous evening look. 

But, back to the Allegretto. The next morning, we woke up and I said to my husband, ‘Do you want to visit some vineyards?”

“No, not really. Do you?”

“Not really."

"How about going to The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo for breakfast? It’s only a half hour away?”

 Madonna Inn San Luis Obispo entrance

This place is kitsch

 spring in the dining room and cake

piled upon kitsch, trimmed with kitsch

 Rooms and a drink at the Madonna Inn

and topped off with a dollop of kitsch.

 Sandra on the stairs of the Madonna Inn

We had a great time, as we always do.  57 years and counting!

Sandy and Bob's secrets to 57 years of a happy marriage.

1. We have had our ups and our downs, but bottom line is that we want to stay married. 2. I have infinite patience. 3. We have a great time together. We still have so much to talk about that we never run out of things to say. 4. I have infinite patience. 5. We’re both very creative and interested in what each other says and does. 6. I have infinite patience. 7. My husband is hysterical and makes me laugh so hard I have to control myself from peeing in my pants. 8. I have infinite patience. 9. We work at our marriage by talking with each other and letting each other know what’s going on. 10. I have infinite patience. 11. We’re both interested and curious about the world around us. 12. I have infinite patience. 13. I think my husband is still handsome and he thinks I’m still beautiful. 14. I have infinite patience. 15. My husband takes superb care of me every day, whether it’s bringing in the groceries helping me recover from my surgeries. (Who else would shave my armpits in the shower?) 16. I have infinite patience.

 Bob kissing Sandra

If you’re interested in how we met and our first date, it’s right here. Simply click.

**Sponsored post by ArtfulHome. Thoughts and opinions are all my own.