Hello there my friends. It has been much overdue for another entry.
Life has been crazy busy these last few months. I got a job (yippy, I’m employed), moved out of my parents’ home…and living with my Grandparents (it is 4 mile from work) and most excitingly got engaged to my handsome and sweet Italian!
In fact, this is what this entry is about…the story of our engagement.
Carlo tells me about two months prior, that he thinks we should go to Santa Barbara one of these weekends and go wine tasting and of course I was up for that…especially since we both love wine so much. As Carlo begins to look into places to stay, he tells me that every hotel that he tried to book in Santa Barbara proper were full for the weekend that we had decided to go. So, we decide to adjust our plans and stay in a little Danish town just north of Santa Barbara called Solvang. I was excited because I am of Scandinavian heritage and like to visit unique places.
Well, our weekend trip rolls around and we make it to Solvang. We get out of our car with anticipation and restlessness from the long 3+ hour drive there and our breath is nearly taken away. This was not due to the scenery but rather the 103 degree heat and minimal breeze!
We take it in stride and begin to venture around town doing silly tourist things, taking pictures and buying trinkets and treats.
Once we finish our touring, we are able to check into our hotel room where we quickly showered and changed from our sweat drenched clothes to drive 10 minutes down the road to our 3:00 winery tour and tasting.
Carlo informs me prior to the weekend that this is a small, private family owned winery that only does tastings by reservation. He says that we may be the only ones there today. Of course, being as gullible as I am, I didn’t think twice about it.
We head out to the winery and drive through beautiful rolling hills covered with yellow dried grasses and speckled with old oak trees. After 10 minutes, we reach the large entry gate to Grassini Family Vineyards and drive on through.
Continuing on the dirt road, we pass through more beautiful scenery and reach what seems to be the spot and park. I got out of the car and start heading up the slope to the hill top winery where our guide is waiting. In the meantime, Carlo is still fiddling with stuff in his car, but I am just too excited to wait for him. As I approach our wine guide, she is all smiles and extends her hand warmly to me and we introduce ourselves.
I quickly find out that Mandy is actually the daughter of the Grassini family. As we chat, Carlo finally makes his way to us and we begin our tour. We step into this beautiful winery that looks like a rustic home that is built into the hillside.
Now, this is the key because being built into the hill allows the structure to remain very cool during scorching hot days like the one in question. I quickly realize how wonderful the cool temperature feels and begin to relax a bit from our rush to get here.
After a lovely tour, which we get the grand treatment of being able to see private tasting rooms, barrel rooms, and even a private family apartment, it was time for tasting… my favorite! We sit down at a beautiful handmade long, wooden table and taste several wonderful wines that Mandy pours for us.
I am completely relaxed and enjoying myself at this point. We had cooled down, relaxed and now enjoying some lovely wine…so what happens next takes me by surprise.
Mandy suggests that we leave the beautifully cool tasting area, away from the wine, to venture down a rocky dirt slope into the inferno outside to go see the pond. I look at her to see if she is serious and then Carlo pipes in and says, “Yeah ‘h’oney, (the ‘h’ is always silent to him for some reason) let’s go see the pond!”
Now I am looking at the both of them a little askew, but I can’t say no to that cute little boyish excitement in Carlo’s face… So I acquiesce.
Besides being hot outside, to get to the pond we have to walk down a dirt slope, along a dirt road and through a gopher riddled dirt path. And for me, this means doing it all while wearing wedge heels and trying not to break my ankle.
So we begin out trek and come to that gopher hole riddled path I described and I notice there is an assortment of different colored rose petals strewn about down the path. I jokingly say to Mandy, “Oh ha ha, you put these down just for us… how nice.” I think nothing more of it and believe it is there to guide any of her tour groups, to the pond.
Mandy quickly says, “Ok, well I’ll leave you guys to explore around and see the pond… I’ll be back at the house in my office.” I think to myself, ‘ok I guess we’re on our own.’
We continue to follow the petals and come to a bit of a fork. Carlo goes right, while I go left. I say to him, “Where are you going? We are supposed to follow the petals” and he quickly makes his way back to me.
As we turn the corner, I see a giant oak tree and on one of its outstretched branches I see a swing! Me, being the adult that I am…immediately bolt for the swing (forgetting the danger of gopher hole and heels) and hop on the swing. Carlo follows and whips out his camera from his man bag he has been carrying and snaps a few shots.
After a few minutes, as I am swinging away feeling the breeze in my face and enjoying the shade of the tree, Carlo comes over to me and says “I have a gift for you.”
I think ‘Oh no… this could be a ring!’ and he reaches into his bag and pulls out a brown paper wrapped…book. As a slight disappointment comes to my face, I quickly feel that I didn’t get him a gift.(We often get each other gifts for our monthly anniversary which is the 10th of every month).
I voice my concern to him and he says, “It’s ok, you didn’t need to get me anything. Just open it.”
As I open this book, I see that it has a picture of us on it. It is one of those custom made photo books of the two of us. The cover is a significant picture because it is us after Carlo first said ‘I love you’ to me.
I look at the cover and look at him and say, “Thank you honey, I’ll read it back at the hotel” thinking to myself, ‘in the air condition.’
Carlo insists that I read it right at that moment. I look at him with slight suspicion and agree. As I read through the pages, I quickly realize that it is the story of us, how we met, fell in love, traveled the world together and the many things Carlo loves about me. Flipping pages after page, I laugh at the photos remembering our fun and funny adventures together and become more and more suspicious the closer that I get to the end. I begin to think, “Oh my goodness, it’s going to say…’Will you marry me?’” at the end.
As I reach the last page with anticipation, I turn to the end and…nothing. ‘Ok, ok’ I think, it’s just a nice gift that he made for me…stop getting excited. He is not going to propose to you this trip. I find out later that Carlo was hoping for some tear-jerk reaction from me and not the response of laughter that I gave instead.
With that being done, Carlo says “let’s go check out the pond.” I hop off the swing and we walk up the little berm to reach the pond.
Off to the right I notice a round table draped with a beautiful Tuscan style table cloth and set in the center is a container with a wine bottle bobbing in water with the remnants of the last ice cubes. It had been set with a beautiful bouquet of wild flowers and several chairs.
I did not think much about it as I had just had my hopes up with no avail. I simply thought at this point that it was for some other tour or the ‘handy man’ of the property that we had been told about. As I wonder around the beautiful scenery, Carlo calls over to look at something on the ground. Approaching, I notice that it is rocks placed in the pattern of our symbol with rose petals sprinkled around. I gasp to myself as I know at this point that it is not a coincidence, but I get nervous and say, “Oh, cool…” as I grab a strand of my hair to play with and walk toward the pond and away from the awkward moment that seemed to last forever without Carlo saying or doing anything.
Carlo is probably in shock at this point, as his big romantic moment was not grasp by his nervous girlfriend, so it takes him a moment to gather himself before pulling me back to the spot. He grabs me and gives me a big hug and says, “I love you ‘h’Oney.” To which I reply the same and he lets me go and reaches to his man bag again.
By now I am so confused and thought he was taking his camera out again. Instead, he gets down on one knee and presents me with a beautiful wooden box. As he opens it, he says “Candice Lynne Jordan, will you marry me?” and reveals a beautifully sparkly diamond ring.
It takes my brain a moment to catch up to what just happen and as I stall a second to fully take in the reality of the situation, the only words I can manage to force out are, “Are you serious?”
I look down at the ring again and back at him and then say the same thing, but this time I was jumping up and down crying as it hits me.
Poor Carlo is bent down on one knee sweating more than usual for the temperature outside, and is thinking, as I find out later ‘that was not the answer I was expecting…’
After a moment or two of letting it all soak in, I finally give him my real answer, “Yes, yes, of course I will marry you!”He then proceeds to put the ring on my right hand and I quickly clear him up. As he places the ring on my finger, it is a perfect fit.
A moment or two passes and as Carlo gathers himself, he says “Oh and we are not going to dinner tonight…” I look at him quizzically and he says, “We are having a picnic here, like we did in Venice.” (See previous blog for that story)
He reaches down and pulls a picnic basket out from under the table and opens it up to reveal a bounty of lovely Italian specialty items; Cheeses, meats, olives, bread, salads, cookies, cakes, etc.
We settle down to the table and open the bottle of refreshing white wine, that I now realize had been there for us the entire time, and bask in the glow of the moment. Part of the glow is from both of us sweating profusely from the heat.
We manage to eat a bit of the lovely picnic, but are mostly too excited to finish it and so we head back to the winery. Mandy is there and comes down from her office to congratulate us. I quickly find out that she and Carlo had been planning this for months. She gives us our first engagement gift, a beautiful wood inlay wine opener. We say our goodbyes and head back to the town.
That evening Carlo tells me not to call any of my family to tell them about the news, as we will be driving back to my hometown early to surprise everyone. The next morning we wake up and have plans to go have brunch at a beach front restaurant in Santa Barbara called the Boat House. We get ready, pack and check out of our hotel to head to the restaurant.
Once we arrive, to my surprise my entire family and his entire family is there with smiling faces and open arms ready to congratulate us! He got me again.
We eat a wonderful brunch with champagne flowing and beautiful views of the ocean. It was wonderful. After a lovely day with the families, we head back home.
When Carlo drops me back at my home, I open my bedroom door to find a beautiful painting displayed on my bed. Upon closer inspection, I realize that it is in fact the exact place that we became engaged a short day ago. I not only have a ring and book to remember this perfect weekend…I have a beautiful painting by my Amore.
I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have found my ‘Red, Green and White’ Knight and I can only hope the same for every other girl out there.
This now means that I will have an endless lifetime supply of ‘Italian in Training’ adventure to come.