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.

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 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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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 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.

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 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.

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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.

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11111 wine

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

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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

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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.

 

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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. 

 

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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.

 

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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.

For the Love of Strangers

Do you ever get really busy? I mean really, really busy with work & home & life. I’ve been so dang busy. Football season is finally here, I thought It’d be fun to re-do my gameroom before it started. Yeah. Sooo much fun. Now, I hesitate to show you pictures of my Packer obsession as I know Packer’s Fans are really not my audience here. Though, I’m sure you can appreciate commitment to your team and even the warm hospitality if you’re not a football fan.

4 gameroom 5

4 gameroom 2 4 gameroom 3 4 gameroom 1 4 gameroom 4

Rediculous to have this your in your house? Perhaps. Em, but I don’t think so. Can you feel the warmth of the neighborhood pub where everybody knows your name? Well, I’m bad with names, but you get it. Many a game will be watched here – by 49er’s fans, a couple Stealer’s fans and we don’t discriminate, even Raider’s fans are welcome if they’re on their best behavior (you know who you are – Caroline). The food is good, we serve Leinenkugels and cheese curds , and the company is even better. It’s more than just football. It’s about hospitality.

Hospitality, noun

  1. the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers
  2. the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way

The word ‘hospitality’ in the New Testament comes from two Greek words. The first word means ‘love’ and the second word means ‘strangers.’ It’s a word that means love of strangers. ~Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Even those who don’t care much about football, can enjoy themselves here on gameday. However, this is our second favorite place to watch football. Second only to Lambeau Field, where the hosipitality among strangers is unique and must be experienced – put it on your bucket list. You can read an un-biased perspective on what game day in Green Bay is like by clicking here. Here’s my favorite quote from the article: ‘Next door to Brett Favre’s Steakhouse, a warehouse-size merchandise outlet called the Jersey Store offers the mind-bending sight of a man clad in a Favre jersey buying a Favre jersey. One, presumably, for laundry day.’

Here’s some great wine picks from the Front Porch – two weeks worth again – enjoy them with friends!

4 wines 1     4 wines 2

Clayhouse Sauv Blanc ~ Hidden Cellars Chard ~ Bay Leaf Pinot ~ Victor Old Vine Zin

Hawk Crest Chard ~ Roblar Chard ~ Oak and Vine Pinot ~ Stonehedge Merlot

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4 clayhouse sauv blanc     4 brie and jam pic

2011 Clayhouse Sauvignon Blanc Paso Robles $4.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

Arvin noticed this Sauv Blanc had a nice aroma. Kerri thought it tasted very fruity – good on a hot day. Scott commented that it was not too sweet and asked the crowd if we all thought it would be good at a wedding. Terry said it would please a lot of people :-) We paired this Sauv Blanc with raspberry jam ($1.99 in our natural/organic section) and brie ($2.99 in our deli case).

87 points from Cellartracker.com

From the winemaker: Made in a refreshing aperitif style, Clayhouse Sauvignon Blanc exhibits a bouquet of starfruit, green pear, honeydew melon and grapefruit, with a hint of grass. There’s a touch of minerality that enhances the floral notes contributed by the Musque clone, and the wine finishes with a creamy mouthfeel (from sur lie fermentation and aging) and mouthwatering acidity.

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 4 hidden cellars chardonnay     4 meatballs pic

2012 Hidden Cellars Chardonnay Mendocino County $4.99

Elsewhere price $12.99

I thought this California Chardonnay was very light. Larry said he tasted butter, and Steve said, mmmmm buttery. What? They agreed, how weird. Connie said this was an excellent Chardonnay and Kerri agreed. Terry said she liked both the white wines tonight. We paired this Chardonnay with all natural teriyaki & Pineapple meatballs ($3.99 in the deli case).

4/5 stars on Vivino.com

87 points from Cellartracker.com

Apple and pear nose. Buttery start on tongue, turns to lemon-apple green apple tart. refreshing. Good appetizer for fish or chicken.

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 4 hawk crest chardonnay     nacho bites

2008 Hawk Crest Chardonnay Monterey $.99

Elsewhere price $12.99

We paired this wine with spicy nachos ($3.99 in the freezer), it was a great compliment. Terry commented that this was a pleasant Chardonnay, a little sweet, but not too much. Steve thought he noticed a floral aroma, and surprise, Larry agreed.

81.6 points from Cellartracker.com

Winemakers notes: This wine opens with soft aromas of white peach and lemon alongside subtle notes of jasmine and oak spice. Styled after a Macon Village Chardonnay, the wine has a rich silky mouthfeel, medium body, and finishes with bright acidity laced with minerality. Open a bottle with a lightly dressed Shrimp Louie and a chunk of sourdough bread.

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 4 roblar chardonnay

2012 Roblar Chardonnay California $4.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

Terry thought the aroma was like a citrus tree. She found it fruity and said it finished with a slight tartness. Arvin called it lemony – not a bad chardonnay. Larry tasted grapefruit and pear, and wait for it ….. Steve agreed.

91 points from Cellartracker.com

WineEnthusiast.com: A citrus-inflected, vanilla-leaning nuttiness consumes the aromas of this offering, which makes for a very pleasant sipping experience. There is good acidity, with apple, lemon and a bit of tropically, including nicely rounded fruit in the midpalate. A dazzling zest continues to the finish as well.

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4 bay leaf pinot

2013 Bay Leaf Pinot Noir California $5.99

Elsewhere price $18.99

Steve commented (for real) that he liked the oaky aroma, Scott agreed. Arvin also noticed the oaky oakyness, he said, ‘this is the kind of wine I can hold in my mouth and enjoy for 5 minutes. Larry said it had nice legs and Kerri agreed. She noticed blackberry current in the aroma and said that this pinot goes down like velvet and tastes of plum with a pepper bite at the end.

The only tasting notes I could find on-line is from one of my favorite wine snobs, you can read it here

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4 oak and vine pinot      4 snacks pic

2011 Oak & Vine Pinot Noir California $4.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

Larry started us off and said he tasted black cherry and plum. Steve thought this Pinot had an aroma of licorice, Larry added – Anise. Yeah, that is the same thing. We snacked on some treats from our new line of nuts, dried fruits and snack rack that you can find by our fresh produce department.

Tasting notes from Wine Wire: Along with the dark color, aromas strawberry cedar, and crème fraiche meet the wine drinker. Focused tannins and a long finish are complemented by flavors of black cherries, lychee and pomegranate. Oak aging adds hints of vanilla, nuances of toast and a soft, smoky finish.

 4 nut rack 2 4 nut rack 1

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4 stonehedge merlot

2012 Stonehedge Reserve Merlot Napa $10.99

Elsewhere price $39.99

This one got everyone commenting at once! It was hard to keep up… Terry said her nose wriggled and it made her shoulders raise with a shrudder (like she just got a warm hug) ‘it’s good’, she said. Steve said it’s got legs and is very moist & smooth, Arvin agreed. Larry said it was a bit sweet, Arvin agreed. This would pair very nicely with Devil’s Food Cake. Arvin added that this Merlot had long sexy legs and had a lot of sugar from the fruit, almost a dessert wine. So great with berries & chocolate.

From the Winemaker: The Napa Valley Merlot starts with aromas of black cherries and plums followed by tobacco and vanilla. It is very strong in mid pallet and finishes with notes of ripe strawberries and a hint of toasty oak. This is a strong but elegant wine that can be enjoyed now, and also laid down for long cellar aging that will highlight the fine attributes of this wine.

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4 victor old vine zin

Victor Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi $5.99

Elsewhere price $16.99

Becky said this zin was like a flavor explosion in her mouth. Steve found it dry and Kerri tasted cherry. Becky added that it had long lingering flavor with a peppery finish. Everybody was happy.

On-line review: Our Old Vine Zinfandel is rich with brooding complexity – supple tannins frame the dark raspberry, blackberry, and cherry flavors rounded with brambly spice and hints of mocha, black pepper, and lightly toasted oak

From the winemaker: Victor Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel is crafted from grapes grown on our Lawson vineyard and other selected vineyards with vines aging from 35 to 112 years old. Our Old Vine Zinfandel is rich with brooding complexity—supple tannins frame dark raspberry, blackberry and cherry rounded with brambly spice and hints of mocha, black pepper, and lightly toasted oak. Appellation: Lodi – Blend: 85% Zinfandel , 15% Petite Sirah – Vineyard age: 35 – 102 years old

Reminiscing

I love history. Wait. I don’t mean like reading a giant dusty book then being quizzed on it later… More like as it pertains to culture and way-of-life. It doesn’t matter what era, 40’s – 50’s – 60’s or even older like pioneer days, I like to imagine what it was like to live back then. Getting a T.V. in the 50’s was a major event! Cars, the drive-in and school dances were the things to do. Not being around back then allows me to only consider the best parts of the times and leave everything else out. Like selective memory… without the actual memories. I gather some of my ‘memories’ from T.V. and movies, but my favorite is hearing people that were there tell stories.

Terry’s mom and sister came to join us on the Front Porch for Wine Tasting. Her mom, Leila, told me about how they used to have parties at their house after Terry and her sisters went to bed. Not like every night parties where parents celebrate their kids’ bedtime. It was probably an annual party for a birthday or anniversary or something like that. They had a four piece live Jazz band play right in the house and hired bartenders to serve the guests. Leila said that band played the pictures right off the walls! It’s a wonder that kids could sleep through a party like that. Hm. Yeah, they didn’t. Here’s a snapshot, courtesy of the artist Shag, of how it I picture this party as I listen to the story:

HolmbyHills

Terry and her sisters must’ve been just out of sight at the top of the stairs.

I imagine the whole town was at those parties. Towns were smaller then according to me. Everybody knew everybody. Life was slower, simpler. Going to a party involved getting dressed up & dancing and was probably the talk of the town until the next party. The world may never move at that pace again, but when we take the time to reminisce – I think it slows down just a little.

Have a glass of wine and reminisce with someone today :-)

Ok, so the following reviews are from TWO wine tastings. I just wanted you to know that we didn’t drink ALL of these wines in the span of two hours. Don’t miss the Award Winning Wines at the bottom of the post!

stack wines

Your Choice $2.99!    Elsewhere price $11.99

Stack Wines are four individual glasses that are each sealed separately so you can have just a glass at a time. For instance, the movie theater seems like the perfect place to enjoy Stackers Wine, you can easily carry one in your purse. Purse wine is my favorite. The ‘glass’ is actually plastic, so no worries around the pool either.

Pinot Grigio:

Bob found this Pinot to have a fruity after taste. He thought it was a great summer wine. Larry also commented on the fruity-ness, Steve tasted apple. Granny Smith apple. Shirley thought it was dry at first taste, she tasted apple as well and said it was light – nice for summer. Caroline, our resident wine snob, said she liked it (I tried to hide the packaging so she wouldn’t judge the wine before she even got a sip). She tasted pear and lime and added that she was surprised that this tasted like it came from one of the wineries that she is a member of. High praise from Caroline!

Winemakers notes:

Color: Light straw yellow with flecks of green.
Nose: Delicate with honeydew melon, fresh meadow, and lime peel.
Palate: Grapefruit, key lime, and melon

Chardonnay:

Becky found this Chardonnay buttery and did not taste any oak. Bob commented that it tasted good. Larry and Steve did care for it, but I thought it was nice.

Winemakers notes:

Color: Medium light gold.
Nose: Medium with lemon cream pie, vanilla and toasted almond.
Palate: Lemon peel, apple and pineapple

Cabernet Sauvignon:

Becky enjoyed the aroma of this cab. Terry and Shirley thought it was grapey. Bob noticed the oak. Larry and Steve both (who must read each other’s minds before commenting on wine) said it had legs. Steve wasn’t sure if it was dry… Caroline confirmed for him that it was dry. She added that it was a smooth easy drinking cab; she tasted black cherry and plum.

Winemakers notes:

Color: Medium garnet, perfect clarity.
Nose: Medium/plus with cassis, blueberry, cedar and some black licorice, mint and black pepper.
Palate: Blackberry, cocoa and berry jam

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 four wines

Alondra Chardonnay ~ Anterra Chardonnay and Merlot ~ Marchand Bordeaux

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Alondra

2010 Alondra Chardonnay Middleridge Ranch Vineyard $5.99

Elsewhere price $16.99

Larry said this ones got a little zip to it! Steve called it smooth and Ethan thought it had a nice aroma.

89 Points from CellarTracker.com: Medium-bodied, with a subtle flavor profile, full-on creamy from the malo; easily withstands oxidation. Really great paired with honeydew melon and smoked salmon.

From the Winemaker: Penetrating aromas of green apple, lemon custard and subtle tropical fruits of guava and melon. The palate is sleek and detailed, with just enough flesh and mid-palate presence for pinpoint balance with the natural acidity. The fruit gains momentum into an expansive finish, while remaining graceful and elegant

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 Anterra chardonnay

2013 Anterra Chardonnay Italy $4.99

Elsewhere price $9.99

Terry got the first taste; she said it was crisp and refreshing. Larry thought this Chardonnay was very light and Steve agreed, of course. Scott said it was not too sweet, which is a compliment from Scott. Jose said he would buy this wine; it was juicy – almost not like wine – smooth and sweet.

Blogger NHWineman review: 89 points, poured a bright polished gold color, and smelled like the misty calm afterglow of a thunderstorm with hints of lilac and lemon.
The medium-plus body was crisp, slightly off dry (the label says dry), clean, had mineral notes with moderately acidic lemon flavors, and finished as it began, but with a touch of the 12% alcohol and ginger.
I loved this sleeper of a white wine, and I’m not the biggest fan of Chardonnay; this is not anything like a Cali Chardonnay (no butter here), but was produced in the Italian “traditional style” closer to a Chablis.

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anterra merlot

2012 Anterra Merlot Italy $4.99

Elsewhere price $9.99

Larry gave this Merlot two thumbs up, he tasted berries. And Steve added: blackberries. Scott was turned off by the screw cap. As it turns out, screw caps aren’t just for cheap jugs of wine anymore. Read more here: Cork Versus Screw Cap: Don’t Judge A Wine By How It’s Sealed

3.5 stars from Vivino.com: Black cherries and berries with toasty oak overtones, smooth finish and lush tannins

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bordeaux    bordeaux 2

2011 Chateau Grand Marchand Bordeaux France $7.99

Elsewhere price $27.99

Concours General Agricole Paris Wine Competition 2012 Gold Winner Source

Terry commented that this one was full-bodied and yummy! She added that it just rolls right you’re your little throat. Steve said it was very smooth. Jose said it got looong leeegs.

86 Points from WineEnthusiast.com

On-line review from WineEnthusiast.com: This firm wine has black-currant and red-plum fruit, nicely integrated with the dry core. Ready to drink, although capable of aging a year or two.

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fish eye bottle fish eye

2013 Fish Eye Cabernet Sauvignon Australia $8.99

Elsewhere price $15.99

WORLD WINE CHAMPIONSHIPS AWARD: Silver Medal source

3 liter box = four regular bottles!

Bob noticed that at first sip this cab tasted a little acidy and needs to be aerated, which is kinda tricky since it’s in a box. Caroline agreed, saying she tasted unripe cherries. We let it sit around in the glass after pouring for about 15 minutes then tried it again. I found it to be dry and Terry said it definitely got smoother. Caroline said she didn’t care much for it, but I noticed she refilled her glass. Hm.

From the bottle: “Cherry and blackberry with a hint of pepper on the nose.”

On-line review from Tastings.com: Garnet purple color. Aromas of dried currants, spice, and delicate peppercorn with a silky, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a whole nut, tobacco, and sour cherry finish with chewy tannins. A nice relaxed sipper.

 

I need my Mojo back!

I thought I’d gotten pretty good at ignoring Mojo, the tiny dictator in my head. You know the one that politely encourages me to tackle household projects.

I’ve spent some weekends lately just kickin’ it watching movies and as much Netflix as possible. I tried to get myself motivated, but the pull of the couch kept winning out. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t really notice that he was gone at first. I knew something had changed. I even considered the possibility that I was coming down with a cold or something.

Then I got to thinking: Terry got Larry to clean out their shed, tear it down and build a new one.

Terry 3

You remember the free old wood I got to build this table, it came from their old shed. Terry decided to use the RV space on the side of their house to create a Secret Garden Patio.

Terry 4 Terry 5

She got Larry to cut a window out of the side of the house and install French doors leading out into the new patio.

Terry 2

What!?! That has my tiny dictator’s name all over it! I thought at the time that Terry was Larry’s tiny dictator. But, as you can see here she’s pretty handy too!

Terry

They also found the time and energy to re-decorate Terry’s sister’s master bedroom – hmmmm, suspicious.

Terry 6

Terry picked out some of the furniture that had been stored in the shed to decorate the new patio. They painted with over-the-top colors, which I looovve, and planted tiny succulents all around. Terry sewed curtains and Larry installed a retractable shade. It’s decorated with fun & quirky stuff that Terry loves and they created a great space to have a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning or a glass of wine in the evening. It held almost 20 Front Porch Wine Tasters at it’s debut.

When I saw their completed Secret Garden Patio I knew. It was so obvious now: Terry totally kidnapped my Mojo.

Terry 7

Thanks for having us Larry and Terry! Now, please send me my Mojo home. I neeeeed to finish my game-room before football season starts and my stairs are still torn apart.

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Terry 12

Turn 4 White Blend ~ Red Autumn Chard ~ Discoveries Cab Sauv ~ Castro Oaks Cab Sauv

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Terry 8

2010 Bennent Lane Winery Turn 4 White Blend California $3.99

Elsewhere price $18.99

Misty thought this white blend was a little tart, but good with salsa. Joe S. said it made him stop and say, “Oh, that’s good”. Scott and Terry liked it but Pat said she didn’t care for it because it was too sweet. But, she added that she’s the type of girl who drinks vodka straight. Neighbors Steve & Dara choose this one as their favorite. Becky said it was crisp and Jose gave it a ‘thumbs up’.

86.3 Points from cellartracker.com

Wine Spectator - Offers appealing pear and fig flavors that are fleshy and round, with a juicy, ripe quality and details of floral and spice notes, especially on the finish. Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Drink now. 4,410 cases made.

Wine Enthuisiast – Sweet and forward in pineapple, peach and lime flavors, this is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. It has good acidity and a clean, spicy finish.

Tasting Notes - This refreshing California white wine is the perfect partner to our popular Turn 4 Cabernet Sauvignon. With aromatics of honeysuckle, white peaches and a hint of the tropics, this is an incredibly fruit forward and bright wine. On the palate there are rich flavors of mango and ripe peach, balanced by refreshing acidity and a lively clean finish.

 

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Terry 9

2012 Red Autumn Chardonnay California $2.99

Elsewhere price $12.99

Steve and Larry liked this Chardonnay right away. Dean agreed, he said it tasted good. Brian commented that it was smooth and refreshing. Terry liked the white blend better, this one got her all flushed. Scott came into the store the next day to get a couple cases for his daughter’s wedding. Steve was able to bring in a second shipment, but at time of this writing – there is only about a case left of the second shipment.

The only on-line review I could find on this Chardonnay was not very favorable. Which just goes to show you that sometimes the wine snobs are wrong lol.

 

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Terry 11

2012 Discoveries Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon California $4.99

Elsewhere $12.00

Pat noticed the oaky aroma from this cab. Steve and Jose found it to be dry. I tried it with dark chocolate which was a perfect pair. Misty said it was strong and it cleared her sinus’. Dara labeled this one as her favorite too, especially for winter. Scott got a case of this for the wedding as well.

87 Points from cellartracker.com

Wine makers notes: Our Cabernet Sauvignon is deep red and violet in color with aromas of tea, cherry and blackcurrent accompained by toasted oak, almond, and a hint of cocoa. On the palate, concentrated fruit flavors give way to smooth, oaky tannins

 

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Terry 10

2011 Castro Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon Sierra Foothills $6.99

Elsewhere price $18.99

Joe R. stopped by before his hockey game for a quick sip of wine, he found this one to be oaky. Becky described this one as a ‘burst of berries’ and liked how it stays on your tounge. Bob called this one his favorite and Brian filled his glass! Terry said it was excellent and I thought it tasted like Syrah – which is my favorite. Dean liked it and Jose found it to be smooth and would pair it with red snapper. Misty  and Larry agreed that it was dry, smooth and less fruity than they expected.

4.0 out of 5 stars from Vivino.com

Wine maker notes: This Cabernet Sauvignon is warm and smooth harvested in mid-October at 3000′ elevation near Yosemite National Park. Aged fifteen months in new American Oak. A full bodied Cabernet with excellent balance of fruit, oak, vanilla, berry, and much more. Drink now or hold.