Let’s be good to ourselves

Everyone loves presents, amiright? But why wait for someone to notice that you deserve a gift…

Reward yourself instead.

I used to buy myself flowers every week. I don’t know why I stopped doing that. I kept them on the counter in my bathroom, the mirror made it seem as though there were twice as many.  Try not smiling when you see that first thing in the morning.

So, I was jonesin yesterday for a pick-me-up. I figured retail therapy was in order. Turns out I ran into a friend of mine (who shall remain nameless just in case she was shopping on the downlow) who was there for the same reason. I got a great new purse, she got a couple pairs of sandals and we both left smiling.

Next time you find yourself in the same sitch, check this list for a quick smile:

  1. Take a field trip ~ to a museum or weird roadside attraction
  2. Retail therapy ~ I like to pretend that I have a $25 or $50 gift card so it doesn’t turn into an out-of-control addiction
  3. Buy yourself flowers ~ They are cheaper than you think (unless its Valentine’s Day)
  4. See a movie in the middle of the day ~ Yeah
  5. Have some wine!

Let’s be good to ourselves!

 

 wine line up

Kimmel Chard ~ LeBaron Ranch Chard ~ Snoqualmie Red ~ Grandfather Zin

**********

 kimmel chard

2012 Kimmel Chardonnay Mendocino County $4.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

GOLD
San Francisco
Chronicle Wine Competition
2014
               

Terry started us off with this Chardonnay, she wasn’t sure she liked the bouquet. Larry said it’s got a ‘ting’ to it and called it thought provoking, he liked it paired with the Organic Four Cheese Pizza. Steve agreed that it had a strong aroma, but he liked the buttery-ness. Becky liked it paired with the Turkey Pepper Jack Deli Spirals. Connie tasted oak and called it ‘kinda wild’. She thought this would be a good wine to bathe in!

From the winemaker: Classic unoaked style – crisp, fresh, full-flavored …
a delicious imprint of Mendocino fruit.
The grapes were whole-cluster pressed and then cold-fermented to dryness in stainless tanks. The fermented juice was left on the lees until just prior to bottling to create a wonderfully fresh, crisp, and fruit-forward wine

Here’s the food pairings they were referring to:

wine snacks

wine pizza wine spirals

Bold Pizza $7.99 for a two pack & Nancy’s Deli Spirals $4.99 60 count

 **********

le baron chard

2013 Le Baron Hop Station Chardonnay Ca $4.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

Arvin and Scott both found this Chardonnay to be on the sweet side, but smooth. Larry said it had a bite to it. Joe R thought it was fruity, peach to be exact. Connie liked the light aroma and said it right up her alley, she loved it.

4 out of 5 on snooth.com: Very good…I got a hint of dill on the finish…

**********

 snoq wine

2012 Snoqualmie Whistle Stop Red Blend Columbia Valley $3.99

Elsewhere price $9.99

I immediately loved the chocolatey aroma! Connie agreed, saying it had a heavenly bouquet. She added that it would be great with dessert, so smooth. Terry commented that she could sip on this all night. Arvin thought he’d like it with a turkey sandwich at lunch. Larry liked it as well and Joe R called it a good solid quality red wine that lives up to its aroma. I actually had to get a couple more bottles for myself later :-)

Review from GreatNorthwestWine.com: The nose features a beautiful presentation of black cherry, ripe raspberry, smoky dark chocolate and tobacco leaf. What follows is a smooth drink of dark plum, blackberry and chocolate-covered black cherry, backed by a great finish of raspberry and cranberry.

 **********

grandfather zin

2013 Grandfather Clock Zinfandel Ca $4.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

Steve loved this Zin, he detected a tinge of spice. He added that it was great with chocolate. Larry agreed, he liked the bouquet and found it very smooth. It made Terry tingly as she sipped. Becky tasted a smoky tobacco flavor and Connie said it was a beautifully tasting bouquet. Everybody had a second round. Steve was raving about it like it was beer. Terry said, “Yum!” and Larry said, “Do I actually have to say a red is my favorite?”

No online reviews yet, you’re just gonna havta take our word on it and give a try.

Romantic Valentine’s Day Wines

Sometimes we just need to go against the mainstream. Go our own way, cut a new path. When the rest of the country was watching the Super Bowl, the Front Porch Wine Tasters were making a stand for each of our perspective football teams (who were also watching the game that day). The struggle is real.

FREEBIE Alert!

Be sure to scroll all the way down for Valentine’s Day FREEBIE! info

I present to you: The Anti-Super Bowl party.

wine tasters bountiful table  photo 1

The food was bountiful, the wine poured freely into royal cups

wine tasters connie dies 2

and tragedy was narrowly averted!

We choose a random theme (Game of Thrones), the Front Porch Wine Tasters went all-out dressing up. I am still impressed with the creativity of these wine tasters!

photo 3 wine tasters carol with white walkers wine tasters rudy and kerri wine tasters arvin and connie

photo 1 photo 4 photo 4

everybody tried on my wig :-)

photo 1 photo 2

I thought it would be a good time to choose some Valentine’s day wines. However, it was quite difficult to take proper wine tasting notes on all of the wines as the tasters mingled with each other, had their caricatures drawn and watched the court jester juggling and doing magic tricks.

photo 3

Plus, we had A LOT of wine!

photo 1

Whites

photo 4

Reds

Here’s what I got, Enjoy!

**********

 photo 3

2012 Bel Arbor Bella White Blend $2.99

Elsewhere price $7.99

Scott announced, ‘this one is good’ and Terry agreed. Larry couldn’t quite identify the fruit he tasted – maybe apple. Kerri liked this white blend, she found it very floral. Becky said it was nice and sweet and Connie tasted spicy pear.

From the label: Sociable and spirited, with just a trace of whimsy, Bel Arbor wines entertain the palate and complement the mood. Take Bella White, bringing the crisp flavor of apple, peach and pear to the table. It loves whatever you’re eating but can happily stand on its own.

86.3 points from Cellartracker.com: A great wine for the price. Crisp, straw color with a hint of pear and apple 88 points. Very nice. Consistent, easy-drinking, well rounded, crowd pleaser 86 points. Smells and tastes of pears, light tropical fruits, spring flowers and melons. Pleasing texture. Nothing not to like 86 points.

**********

 photo 2

2012 Two Amigos Albarino $4.99

Elsewhere price $16.99

Kerri thought this is a great spring wine and would pair well with a big salad. She prefers three amigos, but will settle for two. Becky found it to be crisp and citrusy. Larry enjoyed drinking his through a straw. Terry agreed ;-p

photo 2

From the label: Two friends, one path. The story of a journey. 2amigos.com   Ours is a natural wine meant to be drunk young, one to three years, when the fresh aromas of white peach, apricot, citrus and jasmine still prevail with a dry, lively, fruit and mineral finish with a firm acidity.

“2-AMIGOS“ is a perfect afternoon or after work wine. Accompanied by young white cheese it will bring out tremendous flavours. With fish, raw or cooked sea food it will outshine any other white wine. “2-AMIGOS” is a delightful wine meant to be drunk “cold” but it will also accompany any white meat dishes thanks to its firm acidity.

**********

 photo 1

2013 Myka Cellars Mitzi Chardonnay $8.99

Elsewhere price $18.99

Connie started us off with this Santa Cruz Mountains Chard, saying it was very nice, full body – love it! Joe added ‘sexy body’. Terry didn’t really care for it, but Kerri called it mellow and added that she liked it a lot.

From the label: As a micro-winery, we create artisan, terroir driven wines from sustainable grapes in the heart of the Monterey Bay. We employ a hands off approach using natural fermentation and gentle handling to let the grapes shine. 100% Clone 4 Chardonnay. Enjoy Mitzi with white fish, creamy soft cheese and roasted chicken.

4.3 stars of 5 from Vivino.com: Nice sharp dryness, no oak is a plus

**********

photo 4

2010 Manifesto Chardonnay $2.99

Elsewhere price $11.99

Terry liked this un-oaked Chardonnay, she found it sweeter than oak barrel aged wine. Caroline usually prefers an oaky Chard but reported that this is a good Chardonnay.

From the label: Great wine is made in the vineyard. Great wine doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Great wine should complement your meal, not overpower it. That’s our Monifesto!

On-line review: It has a wildly complex, floral nose of ripe pear, freshly squeezed key limes, fennel, orange zest, gardenia and a touch of salinity. Broad, bright flavors of pear, key lime, quince, green apple, and a hint of licorice coat the palate. It finishes long and lean, with secondary flavors of Bosc pear, tequila-laced orange zest and wonderful food-marrying acidity

 **********

photo 3

2011 Mc Williams Chardonnay $4.99

Elsewhere price $9.99

Larry immediately liked the smooth aroma. Caroline did not taste any oak, but liked the summery citrus taste.

From the label: The McWilliam family has been at the forefront of Australian winemaking since 1877. Drawing on six generations of winemaking experience, McWilliam’s has created a classic Australian Chardonnay. McWilliam’s Hanwood Estate wines have been crafted using premium grapes from some of South Eastern Australia’s most renowned wine regions. This wine has a golden hue, with melon and tropical fruit aromas. The use of oak has added complexity and subtle vanilla overtones, ending with a long, crisp finish. The perfect accompaniment to grilled salmon or roasted chicken.

88 points from Palate Press: This very moderately priced Aussie Chardonnay walks the line between round buttery wines slathered in oak and linear bright wines from stainless steel. Crisp, with soft edges and vanilla that stays in the background, judicious use of the wood does great service to good fruit. Red apple flavors give way to peach, with just a touch of pie crust in the background. The price makes a good wine a great bargain. Buy it by the case and enjoy it year round. Drink with fried chicken. Recommended.

 **********

photo 2

2012 Red Autumn Chardonnay $2.99

Elsewhere price $12.99

Becky tasted apples, peaches and pears. Kerri labeled it ‘Gooood’

From the label: Passing through the valley as harvest winds down, the vines reflect the sunset of the season. The fruit: collected; crushed. The joyful colors of fall now grow. Although work remains, we find the time to catch our breath, come together, and share the Red Autumn.

On-line review from Front Porch Wine Tasting last August! (we’re famous, lol)

 **********

photo 5

2012 Lost Angel Mischief Red $6.99

Elsewhere price $21.99

Terry started us off with a ‘Oh! This is good!’ I found this Sonoma California red blend to be nicely fruity. Caroline called it easy drinking. She thought it would be a great table wine, one that many people would like.

From the label: Lost Angel’s wines are for people who appreciate bold, edgy and iconoclastic. They are as different and exciting as you’d like to be. As the old saying goes, if you only live once, make it count. If you live more than once, then who the hell cares? The name says it all. Maybe we shouldn’t have done it, but it was a lot of fun and we’re glad we did. Fruit forward flavors of black cherries, dried plums and sultanas.

3.5 of 5 from Snooth.com: This is a fantastic full body red with lots of flavor. They have it at the market for $7.00. This does not taste like a low cost wine. May be one of the best deals I have found. Has that nice finish and elegant taste. Highly recommend for you to give this a try.

 **********
photo 4

2009 Swami Pinot Noir $5.99

Elsewhere price $16.99

Terry commented on the nice color. Caroline called it a dark cherry color and found the wine very nice, ‘I like it!’ Becky commented that this pino was very soft, but had some body. It paired well with smoked turkey legs. (Later, I paired this with pot roast as well, perfect!)

From the label: A California native, Inspired by the land, sun and sea, Swami Pinot Noir is exotic and earthy. Fruit forward and approachable.

86.8 points from Cellertracker.com: Hanging strong. Tasting very characteristically PN now … earthy, ripe nose, powerful “tang”, a somewhat smoky finish 88 points

 **********

 photo 3

2011 Orbiter Pinot Noir $6.99

Elsewhere price $24.99

Terry first commented on the pleasing aroma, then added ‘Oh! Good’ after her first sip. Kerry thought it had a great smell as well and thought it tasted peppery. Joe S found it to be smooth, almost as smooth as Larry, and planned on buying some before its gone.

Vinted and bottled by Orbiter, Glen Ellen California

On-line review from Garyswine.com: Jam packed with red and black raspberries along with sweet cherries. Medium bodied with a nice velvety texture lasting into a long finish. A great value Pinot Noir!

 **********

photo 2

2012 Buonocore Syrah Lodi $5.99

Elsewhere price $19.99

Joe called this syrah ‘The blood of Dragons!’ and he noticed the strong tannins. Becky said it was delicious on the nose. Arvin said it had a smooth palate, he tasted raspberries and he liked the smooth finish.

From the label: Vincent Buonocore, son in a family famed for generations in the wine & food business in Italy, immigrated to the U.S. in 1910 & settled in NYC. Established in America, the Buonocore Family expanded their Italian products to include California wines. In 1934 Vincent established the first winery in the state of Connecticut. Every year he traveled the state of California in search of fine wines & premium grapes to be produced, blended & bottled under the Buonocore label. With his sons & their sons, they established wineries in California extending the family tradition in wine to 6 generations.

From the winemaker: Brewing coffee, semi-sweet chocolate, fig and a hint of fresh blueberry is how I would describe this (as) approachable and well balanced syrah

 **********

 photo 1

2010 Val Moon Zinfandel $6.99

Elsewhere price $21.99

Terry liked this Sonoma County Zin right away. She thought it would pair well with a nice steak w/garlic butter. Becky found it spicy and wanted to pair it with a Rib Eye and garlic mashed potatoes. I thought it was perfectly dry, and I’m always game for a good Rib Eye! Steve thought he would pair it with Aussie Fries. SMH

Produced and bottled by Val Moon, Glen Ellen – Sonoma County California

3.3 of 5 stars from Vivino.com

FREEBIE Alert!

carved magic candle

Remember, no matter what you serve at your Valentine’s Day dinner, everybody looks better by candle light. Go to the Manteca Grocery Outlet Facebook page (winner will announced Friday, Feb 13th, 2015) for a chance to win a Carved Magic Candle to light up your romantic table!

wine tasters s & d wine tasters relaxing

It’s not done, until it’s Over-Done!

 

I used to be Clark Griswold. None of my plants would freeze during the winter because of the heat generated from my Christmas lights. Not only did they dance to traditional AND rock-n-roll Christmas carols, but you could possibly see them from space. It was glorious.

It involved careful extension cord maze planning discussions between my daughter & me (editors note: nobody speaks in proper grammar, Karissa), electric bills that rivaled the mortgage payment and friendly inspections by the Fire Marshall. It usually ended in frustration as some cord or fuse would fail.

Inside, you would find a 9 foot tall tree right out of a department store surrounded by perfectly wrapped presents. Lighted garland in every doorway, ornaments hanging from the ceiling and small ‘themed’ trees throughout the house. Yes, it was ridiculous. And, I did most of the decorating myself. Which I realized was stupid.

In my old age I have learned to allow my husband and boys to help through subtle guilt trips. Don’t judge, it makes them feel good to make me happy. Who am I to deny them of this happiness? There may not be as many lights as before but they go up so much easier! I don’t even have to go outside.

Okay, my video wouldn’t load. Ours is just like this. (not really)

I still may or may not have multiple trees, excessive garland and ornaments around the house BUT I do not do it all by myself. My boys were much more easily tricked willing to help than I had expected.

three trees

My best Christmas advice? Plastic wrap your fully decorated tree when it’s time to put it away! I saw it on Pinterest last year, so I tried it with my Candy Themed Tree. It unwrapped perfectly decorated and dust-free!

wrapped tree

Yeah, it does need more ornaments…

Needless to say, I had plenty of Wine-Time this year!

wine snacks

**********

Slow Dancer Chard ~ Laroche Chard ~ 2 Cocky Sisters Red ~ Vintage Ranch Cab

 wine times 4

**********

Slow dancer chardonnay

(I forgot to edit this pic)

2010 Slow Dancer Chardonnay Sonoma County $6.99

Elsewhere price $ 16.99

Larry noticed the apricot aroma and Terry commented that this Chardonnay was very good and finishes sweet. Connie liked it as well, adding that it had a spicy kick to it. Scott didn’t care for it at first (he prefers wines that are not sweet), but he said he warmed up to it and Steve tasted peaches and pears. Arvin thought it would make a peachy keen after dinner wine.

Tasting notes from 1000Corks.com: From the Alexander Valley region of Sonoma County. This warmer area produces a richer style, with apple pear and pineapple notes with slight butterscotch and toast

**********

 laroche chardonnay

2010 Laroche Chardonnay France $10.99

Elsewhere price $19.99

This Chardonnay was a hit. Arvin found it to be dry and peppery. Terry gave it a thumbs-up and Larry called it dramatic. I didn’t get Steve’s comment, but I’m sure he tasted pear.

89 points from The Wine Advocate:  “The qualities of the year come through beautifully in the 2010 Chablis Saint Martin. Layers of silky, polished fruit flow with gorgeous length and persistence. The 2010 is another overachiever among the entry-level wines of this great Chablis vintage.”

89 points from International Wine Cellar: “Pale, bright yellow. Dusty stone, lemon drop and wild herbs on the nose. At once rich and penetrating, with strong acidity and mineral spine intensifying the flavors of grapefruit, lemon drop and wild herbs. Classic steely Chablis with very good grip. A superb village wine, especially if subsequent bottlings are as strong as this.”

**********

 2 cocky sisters red wine

2 Cocky Sisters Red Wine Paso Robles $4.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

I knew with this crowd, the label alone would be a big hit. I’m happy to say the wine was pretty good too! Arvin said it was smooth and really good, he called it velvety. Terry agreed that it was very smooth. Steve questioned his first taste, he said it was peppery. I guess he was surprised that it was pear. Connie confirmed for him, peppery. Arvin added that it was silky with a hint of tobacco. Scott joined us a little late, but tried to get the last taste…

wine o scott

4 out of 5 from Wineexpress.com: All estate grown grapes are used for this lush red blend with a quirky name. It’s 28% Syrah, 23% Mourvedre, 23% Counoise, 15% Grenache, 5% Rousanne and 5% Viognier. The combination sounds wild but the wine is supple and inviting. Ripe blackberry, cherry and cassis flavors along with a zesty, spicy note on supple tannins and a hint of sweetness on the finish. Don’t worry about pairings because it drinks beautifully on its own. Wine Enthusiast Magazine said “For an inexpensive wine, this is a pretty good investment. The alcohol is high, but it’s in keeping with the cherry, berry, currant, dark chocolate and spice richness, giving a fat, glycerol oiliness to the fruit. Easy to like this soft, dry, heady wine.”

**********

 vintage ranch cab

2013 Vintage Ranch Cabernet California $4.99

Elsewhere price $17.99

He did make it just in time for this Cab. He called it nice & smooth. Connie and Larry agreed. Terry said it rolls right down your throat. Steve noticed it had long legs and Arvin liked the oaky finish.

From the label: Vintage Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon opens with rich aromas of black currant. On the palate, deep round flavors of black cherry emerge over espresso, dark chocolate and toasty oak, with just a hint of vanilla on a long, lingering finish.

Thank you Terry for bringing your homemade carrot cake, it was delicious! Steve wanted me to know (and apparently the world too) that he loves cake.

Are you ready for the Holidays? part 2

Did you know that the Industrial Revolution inspired the Thanksgiving Holiday we all know and love today?

Fun fact: in 1846, a Philadelphia magazine editor named Sarah Hale thought that the Industrial Revolution would be the decline of western civilization eroding the American way of life. She wanted a holiday that would celebrate home, heart and wholesome family values. So, she spent the next 17 years writing letters to every person with any kind of authority until, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln finally declared it a national holiday to be held on the third Thursday of November. source ~ Sarah Hale legacy

I may or may not agree with Sarah about the Industrial Revolution, but I salute her for the resulting holiday that is centered around family and of course food and wine!  She was, however, not able to stop the Industrial revolution. It is still alive and well – kinda – in a throwback decorating kind of way, called Steam punk or what I like to call ‘Vintage Industrial’.

Steam punk decor

I love adding some off-beat stuff into my decorating. Vintage Industrial/Steam punk lamps don’t come cheap. Unless of course you salvage the parts and make them yourself :-) What self-respecting hoarder would not rescue every bit of heavy rusty metal parts that they happen to come across to make lamps?

Here’s some pretty great ones from Etsy:

etsy lamp 1 etsy lamp 2 etsy lamp 3

Can you see the price tags on them? I figure I’ve saved a small fortune by making my own. Money I will endlessly sink into an old German rust-bucket that I love dearly. Cousin Gary is like a V-Dub magician. I get daily text updates of the progress; that end of the year deadline is actually possible thanks to his magic.

Here’s some from around the house (notice, no price tag):

steampunk lamp 2   steampunk lamp   steam punk shelf

And, what you’ve all been waiting for…. New floor lamps anchored by 61 Volkswagen Bug brake drums:

brake drum lamp 1 brake drum lamp 3

The doubt I have to put up with. Oh, Steve of little faith. His question may have sounded innocent enough, ‘what are you going to do with them’. But, I don’t think so. I’m sure it was a carefully worded challenge that if not responded to properly, would result in my precious brake drums being pitched into the dumpster. The success of a response to a comment like this also hinges on the correct don’t-mess-with-me tone of voice. The tone that says I am taking that rusty junque home with me and you will thank me for it before I’m done. lol

Yeah – they are Amazing. The Tiny Dictator is so pleased with himself.

**********

 all four wines 2

I’m ready to Feast! Let’s pick the best Thanksgiving wines:

Raviva Chardonnay

2012 Raviva Chardonnay Napa $3.99

Elsewhere price $16.99

Steve thought this Chardonnay was nice and fruity. Terry almost agreed, she found it to be smooth and fruity. Arvin tasted pear. Connie said it was very good and Larry agreed.

From the label: Our move to California in the late 1990’s was a light packing job: we brought with us just a couple of dollars and a pocketful of intentions. As the years have gone on, little by little, vine by vine, we’ve rediscovered ourselves as winemakers. Raviva is our tribute to the comforts we leave behind for the sake of transformation.

 

 **********

all four wines

2013 Spectacle Chardonnay California $4.99

Elsewhere price $16.99

I usually cannot identify any aroma, until this Chardonnay. I immediately smelled vanilla. I took me a couple of trys to find the right word though. Larry said it was buttery and Connie said it was so unique and delicious, unlike any Chardonnay she’d had before.

From the label: Like the many exciting colors of a kaleidoscope, Spectacle Wines offer a compelling splash of aromas and flavors that unfold on the palate with each sip. Spectacle Chardonnay offers up subtle aromas of ripe grapefruit and freshly sliced Golden Delicious apples. Elegant flavors of soft vanilla and ripe melon join on the palate over a toasty oak finish.

 **********

cottes de sonoma pinot noir

2013 Cotos de Sonoma Pinot Noir Sonoma County $6.99

Elsewhere price $24.99

Pinot Noir, the go-to red wine for turkey pairing on Thanksgiving. Terry commented that this was good tasting – cherryish – light. Larry agreed, saying it was very good with a mild body. I found it to be much lighter than I’d expected. It went well with the turkey and I think it would be easily drinkable for guests that may not be regular wine drinkers.

 **********

long barn red wine

2013 Long Barn Napa Red Wine $3.99

Elsewhere price $16.99

Not only did we all agree that the picture on the label was great and would look nice on a Thanksgiving table, but so was this red blend. Arvin liked the aroma. He said he was treating it like a vitamin B, holding it under his tongue to enjoy longer. Terry said it tingled her nose – which is always a trait of a good solid red. Connie exclaimed, “oh my goodness, that’s good”. She added that it had a sweet bouquet and was also very unique. Arvin had just been smelling it, and after finally tasting it he labeled it DAMN GOOD!

From the label: We make wine in a simple building. It humbles us to reflect on its age, being built in a time when the valley’s dairy cows and prune trees were more well-known than its grapes. With this reminder, we give thanks for all that we have.. and make wines with all that we are.

Ready for the Holidays? part 1

You remember a while back I gave you a teaser about a ’61 Baja that I thought I would restore by the end of the year? The one my dad dropped off conveniently disassembled one cold rainy night filled with rusty parts where the people are supposed to fit? Yeah, that one. Okay, it might not have been raining that night, but it certainly was pouring when me & the boys pushed it onto Arvin’s trailer to deliver it to my cousin who I tricked into helping kindly offered to help.

Bug on trailer

The end of the year seemed like a nice far away deadline. It sure came fast though. I know, I know this must be a giant let-down or at least disappointing to the group of people that thought I could do anything. A group that is made up of just me. But, in my defense, as I started going through the pile of old parts, I knew it was hopeless.

bug parts

Pretty sure there is enough parts to build 2 ½ bugs. I didn’t even know where to start.

weed covered bug

It had been waiting for me for so long the weeds almost consumed it! Cousin Gary was my only hope. He sorted the pile in a matter of minutes. Easily identifying what was salvageable and what was ‘trash’.

That’s when the tiny dictator showed up. Did you know of his fascination with making lamps out of rusty metal parts? Well he was practically throwing a fit watching the ‘trash’ getting nonchalantly tossed into the dumpster.

I had to intervene.

Just as Steve was about to throw the brake drums in – I stopped him. The tiny dictator inside my head was celebrating like never before. Dancing a jig and high-fiving himself. Steve not so much.

“You’re going to do what?”

I’M GOING TO MAKE LAMPS OUT OF THOSE BRAKE DRUMS.

They are heavy & rusty, everything I love in trash lamp parts. Steve just shook his head and surrendered them to me.

As for the lamp? Here’s a preview:

brake drum lamp 2

To be continued…

 

Let’s talk about wine.

We had a wine tasting frenzy during the 20% OFF Wine Sale! I hope you stocked up for the Holidays. If you didn’t, it’s not too late – Steve says if you buy a case or more of wine the 20th through the end of November (2014) he’ll give you 10% OFF! Just mention Steve and this blog for your discount :-)

 

Here’s some great ones:

Reatta Chardonnay

2010 Reata Chardonnay Carneros $5.99

Elsewhere price $19.99

Arvin found this Chardonnay to be crisp and dry. Connie called it smooth. Terry thought it had a nice aroma and Steve said it was light. Scott commented that he really liked it.

Winemaker notes: This chardonnay is incredibly well balanced. Aromas of caramel creme Brule and a touch of coconut complement the light oak profile. Bright tropical fruit aromas complement the rich and vibrant flavors of green apple and crisp citrus fruits in our Carneros Chardonnay. This wine has a lengthy finish with a breadth of flavor. This wine is ideal for any special occasion for new wine drinkers or wine connoisseurs. You can enjoy this wine at a nice dinner at home or serve it at a cocktail party. Choose from simple poached salmon with a buttery sauce or chicken and pork with a cream-based sauce to bring out the complementary flavors in this wine.

**********

middle sister wicked white

Middle Sister Wicked White California $2.99

Elsewhere price $11.99

Kerri noticed this white blend had a fruity aroma, very subtle. Not bad, she said, and added that she tasted melon. Arvin called it an after dinner white. Caroline tasted pear and lime and said it was an easy drinking wine. Joe added, for easy drinkers, so if you wanna be easy…

Winemakers notes: 36% Chardonnay, 32% Chenin Blanc, 21% Gewurztraminer, 11% Other White. 100% California fruit with 23% from cool climate Monterey.

Long, cool, slow fermentation in stainless steel tanks turned fresh, juicy grapes into bright, aromatic wine. Smells like…melon, pear, tangerine, rose petals, lychee, lemon zest. Tastes like…the same fruit flavors that you smell – explode in your mouth. After a second or two, lush melon and sweet pear melt on your tongue. A lingering note of minerals finishes the sip. Yummy with…Seafood, salads, vegetables, light meats, fresh cheeses.

**********

good daughter

2010 Good Daughter Chardonnay Carneros $5.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

Kerri got the first taste of this Chardonnay and immediately commented – Buttery! Caroline couldn’t wait to taste it, she likes a buttery Chardonnay and this one didn’t disappoint, she loved it. Arvin said it’s got legs and he went on to explain what that means, but I wasn’t able to jot it down, so you can read more here: What are wine legs?

Winemakers notes: Good Daughter Chardonnay has aromas and flavors of juicy apples, pears, and pineapple. There is also a touch of cream and toasty oak on the finish of this elegant and easy to love wine. Yummy with roasted chicken, corn salad, salmon with mango salsa.

Good Daughter wines are made using gently farmed grapes from cool-climate California coastal vineyards. They pledge to support sustainable vineyard practices, environmental stewardship and building prosperous farming communities. A portion of the sale of each bottle of the wine goes to sponsor these principles. Take care of your mother. She’ll take care of you.

**********

Jankris crossfire

 

2011 Jankris Crossfire $4.99

Elsewhere price $21.99

Larry said this red has a nice nose and legs like J-Lo. Terry liked how it just slides right down your throat, smooth. Steve found it to be on the sweet side and good with berries. Connie commented, “Sooo Sweet!” Arvin says, “When Connie likes a red I gotta stock up!” He also said this would pair nicely with Thanksgiving turkey, but you can enjoy this red just by smelling it.

Winemaker notes: Truly the “world’s blend” A Merlot base followed by smatterings of Cab, Tempranillo, Petit Syrah, Syrah, and Grenache. Young enough to age well in your cellar, yet old enough to enjoy now. So many things going on your mouth that you will marvel at the feel and the sensory overload your taste buds will succumb to. A little drier than Riatta and a little more sophisticated.

This wine illustrates the harmony of a traditional Bordeaux style blend enhanced by ripe Spanish varietals.  Each variety imparts an individual personality while remaining in perfect balance.

**********

 laurier merlot

2011 Laurier Merlot Alexander Valley $6.99

Elsewhere price $18.99

Terry said this Merlot tickled her nose. Larry tasted sweet cigar and Steve agreed – cherries and tobacco. Arvin found it to be good with chocolate. Steve tried some chocolate with it and exclaimed, “The chocolate does something great to this one!”

Winemakers notes: Brick red ruby color. Bold aromas of blackberry, black cherry, dried plum, and smoked brisket with a silky, dry medium body and a smooth, interesting, medium length, cherry, boysenberry, blackberry, and vanilla finish with soft tannins and light oak. A touch of smoky cherrywood on the nose opens into soft, berry-filled flavors that are effortless to enjoy on their own or with picnic fare in the backyard.

**********

 beuna vista

2010 Buena Vista Merlot Carneros $5.99

Elsewhere price $18.99

Joe started us off with a “Wow! That’s good”. Scott called it a mild red, fruity. Kerri tasted berry tones, said it made her feel emersed in berries, this is really good. Arvin said this wine is for sniffing, slightly dry and very drinkable.

Critical Acclaim: 89 Points from Wine Spectator“Elegant and balanced, with toasted red currant aromas and lively cherry, tomato leaf and spice flavors that finish soft, showing ripe tannins.”

Winemakers notes: Deep purple in color, the 2010 Carneros Merlot is exploding with aromas of ripe plum, cranberry and freshly baked rhubarb pie. The palate showcases flavors of juicy cherry, black pepper and allspice wrapped up in a soft mouthfeel perfectly balanced with well-integrated tannins. This complex and satisfying wine ends with a long, spicy finish.

**********

old vine zin

2011 Reserve Lot 11 Old Vine Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley $7.99

Elsewhere price $19.99

Kerri started with an, “mmmm, I like it” Arvin tasted blended berries and licorice. Joe thought it was aged in metal and called it spicy. He thought it would pair well with Prime Rib at Christmas.

2014 San Francisco Chronicle Siver Award Winner!

Cleaning out your closet can change your whole life

Closet cleaning is usually something we do in the Spring. Why? Who knows! But, the rule-breaking rebel that I am, I thought I would give my closet a good make-over now, in the Fall. If you’ve ever made this decision, why did you not warn the rest of us how big this job is!?! Sure, the closet looks messy and unorganized. But, I had NO IDEA that when you remove this stuff from the closet and stack it as nicely as humanly possible it actually doubles in size. At least double. Maybe more like quadruples.

11111 closet 2

Apparently a messy closet is revealing: “A messy closet might mean that you are a bit too much nostalgic. You hold onto clothes that you can no longer wear; yet you refuse to get rid of them. You hold onto clothes and other items because they remind you of special occasions and the people you were with. Clean out your closet and let go of the past so you will have room for new adventures in your life.” Source

How messy are you? Test your cleaning personality!

The plan was: Paint, re-configure the hanging bars and add some cabinets or shelves to store stuff. Painting seemed like the logical first step. But, wait… what about the floor? If I leave the old carpet in there, when I get around to doing the bedroom floor I would have to take all the stuff out of the closet again. No thanks.

So cleaning out my closet turned into serious, long-term decision that could affect property value. I wasn’t mentally prepared for this. I had to re-group. Luckily it was Wednesday, or as Larry likes to call it – Winesday. Wine is a pretty important part of any decision making process, but even more so for major decisions like closet flooring.

I’m relieved to say that it worked, the closet got bamboo flooring, new paint & baseboards and the cabinets are permanent. Not quite done in this picture, but well on its way…

11111 closet

Having such an organized closet makes me feel like I’ve really got my life together.

**********

11111 wine

Two Tone Farm Chard ~ Hess Select Chard ~ Wilson Daniels Pinot Noir ~ Hart & McGarry Cab

**********

11111 wine 1     11111 wine 2

2011 Two Tone Farm Chardonnay, Napa – Ca. $3.99

Elsewhere price $11.99

From Beringer according to Vinography.com: “Two-Tone Farm is a new venture by Beringer that seems specifically targeted at, well, me. To be exact, me about 8 years ago: a young, urban, single professional interested in music, nightlife, decent food, fun with friends, and, oh yeah, drinking decent wine that I don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for… All of this would be just an interesting marketing anecdote, and might not even merit mentioning here at Vinography if the wines weren’t actually decent.”

Wine Maker’s notes: Fresh honeysuckle, cantaloupe and honeydew melon, citrus, rose petal, kiwi and red delicious apple aromas fill the nose. Green apple, fig and lemon citrus flavors are surrounded by a full-bodied mouth with a clean, crisp acidity and mineral tones.

Tasting notes: Appealing for its purity of fruit, focusing on ripe pear, nectarine, peach and honey. Complex, leaving a mildly oaked, nicely fruited aftertaste.

Misty found this Napa Chardonnay to be light and fruity, Terry agreed. Larry thought it tasted a little oaky. Joe liked it, he commented that he would buy this wine (over beer, Joe?) Ethan thought his wife would really like it because it was fruity, he didn’t really taste oak. Arvin said it was nice, he tasted apple. Steve also liked it and tasted apple.

**********

11111 hess     hess chardonnay

2011 Hess Select Chardonnay, Napa – Monterey County. $2.99

Elsewhere price $9.99

2014 Silver Award Winner

 from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

From the label: Brisk afternoon breezes from Monterey Bay cross the coastal mountains and roll into the vineyards in the Salinas Valley, home of our Hess Select Chardonnay. Lazy days and cool nights allow fruit to layer tropical and citrus flavors of pineapple, mango, lemon zest and lime. This fresh and pleasing Chardonnay is a perfect partner for garden fresh salads, chicken and seafood. www.hesscollection.com

Reviews from Cellertracker.com: 88 points. Green straw color, offering jack fruit, melon, apples, and apple blossom aromas. Nice citrus cut on the palate. Tensile, balanced, and very refreshing. Good California Chardonnay, nice freshness and crispness; good fruit (pineapple, pear), with nice oak and a nice finish.

Terry thought this Chardonnay had more body than the first one. Misty commented that she liked it, and that she tasted pineapple and pear. Steve must’ve been eaves-dropping because he also tasted pineapple and pear. Ethan tasted apple. Arvin agreed, and added that it had a nice after taste that lingered. So you can enjoy it longer.

**********

11111 wilson     11111 wine 3

2010 Wilson Daniels Pinot Noir, Central Coast. $4.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

From the label: Great wines. Close friends. Memorable meals. These were the shared passions of wine industry-mavericks Jack Daniels and the late Win Wilson. Together they traveled the world’s wine regions, seeking out the best wine from each. This wine, made from grapes grown in California’s flourishing Central Coast, carries on that legacy of discovering the best and sharing good times with every glass. www.wilsondanielswine.com

Reviews from Cellartracker.com: Spicy. Hints of blackberry and raspberry. 87 points.

With pork chops, roast vegetables, left-over mashed potatoes/gravy, and cranberry sauce.
Nice light cherry.
Good, albeit light, nose.
Soft, medium/light weight wine. We agree with Richard that there is a touch of cranberry in this, more savory than overtly fruity.
Worked well with the pork, less so with the potatoes. 86 points

Arvin was surprised to find this Pinot Dry. He said he likes a dry wine. The rest of the comments kinda read like a comic book, (I apologize in advance):

Steve: Tastes like Cherry

Arvin: I haven’t tasted that in a while

Ethan (slaps himself in the face) I won’t comment on that!

Arvin: Dry-cherry

Me: like a spinster?

 **********

11111 hart     11111 wine 4

2011 Hart & McGarry Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, Ca. $4.99

Elsewhere price $12.99

2014 Silver Award Winner

 from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

From the label: In 1851, after two years in the California goldfields, two young men took their hard earning to a new town in Northern California and established the first general store there – Hart & McGarry. They were the very first wine merchants in the area, and today, we honor their efforts by selecting wines from the same region. This California North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon has aromas & flavors of succulent black cherries , raspberries with medium tannins & a supple finish. This wine pairs well with grilled steak, beef stew & Coq au Vin. One of the great pairings is Cabernet Sauvignon with a rich chocolate tort.

Review from Vivino.com: “Solid consistent label. Medium-bodied wine that is not too dry or tannic. Nice everyday or second bottle” “Surprising! Medium tannins make this bold fruit wine smooth and soft.”

Larry started us off with a ‘Not bad!’ Terry liked this California Cab, she said it was good and totally different than the first red. Arvin added that it was ‘Dang’ Good, just oaky enough! I really enjoyed it paired with chocolate :-)

Bogus surrender = Secret resistance?

I think I finally broke Steve. His spirit I mean. Gone are the huffy breaths when he has to zig-zag through the boxes of decorations and carnival games that litter the entryway as I take hoarding supplies for the next upcoming event to a whole new level. No more do I get the scowling-face questions ‘what’s all this?’ As a matter of fact, I think he’s become quite accustomed to his laundry being kept in a stack on the chair rather than on hangers. Long ago, he came to terms with the fact that I think –as long as there’s no party at the house coming up – dusting is for suckers. But, this is whole new level of complacency.

He actually helped me unload my car in the parking lot of Home Depot in order to fit sheets of plywood in, then repack it all in and around the plywood. He had to ride with his seat pulled all the way forward and a box of something-or-other on his lap and his only comment? ‘You travel like a homeless person’. But, not a word of complaint when I left the driveway covered in sawdust, he just came behind me with the leaf blower. Apparently, as long as he can access his golf clubs and fantasy football app, he’s content.

I kinda miss the contention, I never thought he’d surrender. but….

Perhaps he is not broken.

Perhaps he is on to me and is trying some misguided attempt at reverse psychology.

Time to step it up. Game on Steve – game on.

There are only 8 more weekends until Thanksgiving. I don’t know about you, but I thought Fall would never get here. Last year it was like summer lasted all the way to Spring. I felt a chill in the air this morning and that was all the inspiration needed to start thinking about Fall centerpieces and finishing household DIY projects before the Holiday parties! My goal? Finally finish re-finishing the stairs and baseboards. I wonder how Steve would like to have a stair or two missing as I work. Taking the stairs two at time is good exercise, right? Or, maybe I block the stairs entirely and have the family use a ladder to get to their bedrooms. This is gonna be fun.

But, first – start saving your wine bottles! Here’s some easy Fall centerpieces if you’re hosting and gift ideas if you’re not, it’s time to get crafty…

000 wine 1 000 wine 2 000 wine 000 wine 3

000 wine 5 000 wine 4

I LOVE these! They’re made with kitchen towels!!! Click here for a how-to: OnSuttonPlace.com

I started my bottle collection this week with these:

 aaa wine

Masterpiece Chardonnay ~ Stama Chardonnay ~ Michel-Schlumberger Red ~ Three Oaks Cab

**********

aaa wine 3

2012 Masterpiece Chardonnay Alexander Valley $7.99

Elsewhere price $19.99

Larry noticed the citrusy aroma and Terry commented that is was creamy. Kerri said she liked it, it’s very light. Arvin agreed that is was light and added fruity. Steve said, ‘is good’, like a caveman.

On-line review: This is a fresh, lively, balanced Chardonnay that is not bogged down by too much oak or malolactic manipulation. It has amazing fruit and texture, clean and bright, with just the right amount of acid! Amazing Value! (Christie Cartwright, Hollywood)

From the Winemaker: This Chardonnay was made in an unoaked style, fermented very cold, which preserves the delicate Chardonnay fruit flavors and highlights the natural acidity, minerality and clean finish. A very small percentage of Viognier was blended with the Chardonnay to add a floral note and complexity.

Without the influence of oak, the fresh pear, citrus and tropical fruit flavors, deft balance and clean, seamless finish of this wine make it a perfect choice to pair with pan seared or grilled seafood and poultry dishes prepared with lighter sauces. It is also an excellent choice with subtly seasoned Asian cuisine.

 

**********

aaa wine 4

2012 Stama Chardonnay Lodi $3.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

Terry thought this Chardonnay was tart and Larry found it to be dry. Arvin said it was peppery. This was not a favorite on the Front Porch, but it seems to be selling pretty well and check out this accolade:

Gold Medal winner of San Francisco International Wine competition 2013 ~Stama Winery

Tasting notes: This classic chardonnay is pastel yellow with the faintest hue of lime.  It opens with a white flower nose that includes honeysuckle, almond blossom and white clover.  In the mouth there’s a hint of vanilla with a burst of grapefruit, yellow pear, apple and melon, finishing in long butter-creamy notes due to the French oak fermentation. 

 

**********

aaa wine 1

2012 Michel-Schlumberger Maison Rouge California $4.99

Elsewhere price $19.99

Larry started us off and said this is lip smackin! He tasted plum. Arvin thought it paired well with the pizza (Steve was in charge of food this week). Larry added, ‘this is deliciously dry’. Terry asked, ‘Larry said that? He must be drunk’. Lol. I think it’s official, he likes red wine! Terry and Kerri agreed that this red blend is dry and Joe said, ‘Schlumberger is no humberger’. I’m pretty sure that means he liked it.

89.1 Points from Cellartracker.com: Red raspberry aromas and quite herbal (parsley & thyme). The palate largely matches with cool red fruit & herbs. Medium acid tannins/acid. I could see this aging a few years but is drinking perfectly well now

From the label: Maison Rouge, our “house red,” is layered with rich fruit flavors. Always an easy enhancement for casual fare, it’s the perfect wine to enjoy among friends.

 

**********

aaa wine 2

2012 Three Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast $4.99

Elsewhere price $12.99

Becky tasted plums and berries, Kerri commented that this Cab is yummy. Arvin agreed, saying, ‘that’s a wine you don’t have to drink – you can just smell it and enjoy it.’ He did drink it though, he said it’s oaky and it slides right down your throat. Terry thought it would pair well with chocolate and Larry thought it tasted like berry pie.

I couldn’t find any on-line reviews on this Cab, but I did find this: 2014 Silver Medal Award winner The Seattle Food & Wine Experience

From the label: The North Coast growing season was slightly cooler than normal with few heat spikes throughout the Summer. These moderate conditions favored color, flavor and tannin development, producing grapes with exceptional complexity and concentrated flavors.