Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Of course, there are the sharper cheeses, too, like cheddars and the Italian grating cheeses such as Asiago, parmesan and pecorino romano. I always keep wedges of them in my fridge. I have always loved the sharp.briny, fantastic taste of feta, it is great in Greek salad, mixed with spinach in spanakopita, or simply eaten on it's own with some Greek olives! And don't forget delectable blue cheese....I love it crumbled in my salad, melted into a white sauce to go with chicken and penne pasta, or to make my own homemade blue cheese dressing/dip to go with hot wings....way better than the store-bought stuff!
Of course, last but not least, how could we forget the all-essential mozzarella and ricotta? Yes, my love of cheese runs deep, and I'm always looking for something new to try (such as Havarti Dill...have you tried that? Awesome on a tuna melt--make it extra special by using rye bread with the caraway seeds....yum!).
Since I love cheese so much, it came quite naturally for me to try to pair cheese with another love of mine: wine. Since I also enjoy an array of wines, both red and white, and I am always looking to keep trying new ones (both wines and cheeses), there is quite a lot to play around with. Why not set out a platter of different cheeses, mild and sharp, to try with different wines at your next gathering? Add some refreshing fruit, and you've got quite a spread! Here are some possible wine and cheese pairing suggestions:
Brie.......................................A full chardonnay or German dessert wine
Feta......................................Chardonnay (or ouzo)
Gorgonzola..........................Barolo, sweet white, Gigondas
Gruyere...............................Bourdeaux, Chasselas, Alsace Pinot Gris
Havarti................................light young red
Monterey Jack....................New World Chardonnay
Mozzarella..........................Chablis, Orvieto, Soave, Pinot Grigio
Muenster...........................Gewurtztraminer, Loupiac, Coteaux du Layon
Parmigiano-Reggiano........Barolo, Barbaresco, Taurasi
Provolone..........................Young Chianti, Bardolino, Dolcetto d'Alba
(*Pairings from the book: "Pairing Wine and Food" by Linda-Johnson-Bell)
Happy tastings and nibblings!
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I think one of the really cool things about the festival was some of the things I did not expect. For instance, there was a booth with all natural cheese by Heini’s Gourmet Market out of Sugar Creek, Ohio. They had a nice display and samples of some really great Amish cheeses. I sampled almost every cheese they had out—and really loved their Amish Butter Cheese. It was a great cheese that was buttery but had a slow warming spice that was somewhat nutty and peppery, but not too strong or over powering. I think of all the cheeses I tried this was one of my favorites. Also I enjoyed their white cheddar cheese and fiesta jack cheeses. Their prices were extremely reasonable and I was able to buy some cheese right there to take home and enjoy later. All their cheeses are all natural and are free of added growth hormones. I plan to take a trip to Sugar Creek, Ohio soon and explore more of what they have to offer.
Another thing I didn’t expect to find was chocolate wine! If you know anything about me—you know that chocolate is something that is near and dear to my heart, but I’m a bit picky about my chocolate.. I happened upon a booth with three different kinds of chocolate wine!! They had chocolate, chocolate-espresso and chocolate-raspberry varieties. Now, honestly, I had never thought of a chocolate infused wine before. At my husband’s urging, I decided that I simply couldn’t pass up at least sampling at least one of the chocolate wines. I decided to try the Chocolate-Raspberry wine.
The aroma of this wine—smelled like something straight out of a bakery. A bit apprehensive—because although I love chocolate, I’ve never been a huge fan of drinking chocolate. Chocolate milk, chocolate shakes, and chocolate coffees are just not my thing. So—after getting a wonderful whiff of that delightful raspberry wine—I decided I might as well try it. They served it chilled—and my first sip was absolutely heavenly!! I was an INSTANT fan of this wonderful specimen. Oh My Goodness, I could easily become an addict!
So on our way home, we bought a bottle of this Chocolate Raspberry wine because of course, they gave us wonderful recipes to try at the wine festival. This was something I simply had to do—I mean, the wine was that good and the recipes sounded even better!!
Last night after dinner, I attempted to make one of the recipes. Basically, I used one of my crystal Champaign glasses. I chilled the glass and the wine for about a half hour. Then I put in one scoop of ice cream, and a few fresh raspberries. I drizzled them in chocolate then added about 3 ounces of Chocolate Raspberry wine, and then put a bit of whipped cream and mini chocolate chips on top!! Of course, the original recipe called for two scoops of ice cream and 6 ounces of the chocolate wine, but I need to watch that girly figure, so I cut the recipe in half!! All I can say is, WOW!! This is something that can not be described in words, so you’ll just have to try this out for yourself. I think it turned out to be one of the BEST desserts I’ve had in a long time!
All in all—the good and the bad—I truly did enjoy my first wine festival! I made some new discoveries and came away knowing a bit more about my wine tastes and habits. I can’t wait to find another wine festival to attend—and see what else I can learn about the world of wine!
It was a regular, weekday afternoon. My husband John came home and decided he should recharge his cell phone. When he went to plug it in to the strip, he moved it and in so doing, moved the wires to our shredder.....which suddenly, out-of-the-blue,started sparking and smoking and tripped the breaker. I didn't know WHAT was going on!! Turned out the wire repair that'd been done around 5 years ago on the shredder wire must've come a little loose, because the movement caused it to spark. See our precious doggy, who just turned 5 years old, not long after we got him, he chewed ONE wire in his whole life.....the wire to our shredder. John repaired it quite well (it lasted us this long!), but now I think we have to seek out a new shredder entirely. Fortunately, our doggy has not chewed any wire since, we are so fortunate.
Later in the week, I got up one morning, my eyes half-open, starting work.....I leaned toward the coffee pot and could hear it "brewing", but I did not see any coffee. I trudged back to my office, blearey-eyed, and commenced work, without the aid of my regular morning coffee. As the morning passed, I finally got an "espresso-style" cup of coffee (fine with me)...and we continued to let the pot try to brew. After awhile, it became obvious that it had probably brewed its last pot. I told John that I was FINISHED buying expensive coffee makers (we'd paid a little over $100 for this one!), since they really don't last any longer than the cheap models. So John bought a simple, $20 Black n' Decker model, and it is brewing coffee just fine. So that is a happy ending to our expensive coffee maker that just went "caput".
Then one evening this past week, I was in my office working. My husband called out something about "fire", and I was like, "What?!"....and he said, "I have A FIRE!!!" I ran out of the office, and sure enough, he had quite a fire leaping out of the toaster oven! It was quite a panic. He was trying to whack the flames out with a dish towel, but I kinda knew the flames were beyond that point. They were leaping up well beyond the toaster oven, scorching the top, coming dangerously close to our all-wood cabinets in the kitchen!! When I came out, John grabbed the racks with the burning food and tossed them into the sink (thereby burning his hand some), and I immediately ran the faucet on them. Then we still had to deal with the flaming toaster oven itself!! I stopped his heroic efforts to whack at the fire and decided to just shut the glass door. I admit, I was worried that I might've made the wrong decision...I was worried the flames might crack the glass (which is what he was thinking, too). But the only thing I could think at the time was to deprive the fire of oxygen. (Of course, I'd already checked that he'd unplugged the unit, which he had). The tactic seemed to work...the glass did not break, and the fire did die down quite a bit. Certainly within reason. Of course, since a toaster oven is not necessarily "air tight", the flame did not die off completely. John asked me for some flour so I gave it to him and he quickly opened the door and threw some in. Once the flames were out, he carried the toaster oven, which was now TOAST, outside. PHEW!!!! Close call!!
For a day or so after, our house has smelled annoyingly like a bowling alley/burned popcorn ('cause he was trying to warm taco shells). But the smell is gradually fading. Even so, we are so THANKFUL things didn't turn out worse!! We had a few appliance malfunctions this week, and even though our toaster oven chose to go out in a BLAZE OF GLORY, we still managed to survive it all!! And after all the ruckus, I thought it was perfectly fitting to toast with some champagne that we survived an almost-could-be fire from our shredder, and pittering away of our beloved coffee maker and a blazing, "going out in flames" exit from our toaster oven! Here's to us and our house still standing. We survived the week when our appliances attacked!!!!
Sunday, August 28, 2011
If you read the first part of my Columbus Wine Festival series—you may have read that I learned some things at this wine festival—about myself and the people who attended these things—and you may have gotten the sense that I wasn’t thrilled with the event. And for the most part, you wouldn’t be half wrong.
Last night, I was able to test several different wines. Wine booths were spread out all over the Franklin Park Conservatory grounds and the people traffic seemed light compared to the amount of cars out in the parking lot. I think, in this aspect, the Conservatory grounds were a great place to have a wine festival because you didn’t feel as if you were running into people all the time.
I was given several tickets to attend various wine booths, of my choosing, and sample wine. There were some wineries represented that I had heard of, but most I had not heard of. I believe this is normal for my first wine event. Anyway—as I stood in line to try various wines—I found out a few things about wine that I like and don’t like. Whether a white wine or a red wine, I tend to enjoy drier medium to full bodied wines. Also, sweet wines don’t really get it for me, except Red Cat made me a wine spritzer out of their black cherry wine, with fresh lime squeezed over the rocks and that wasn’t too bad.
We continued along and I sampled both red and white wines. I found the amount of information on each wine booth to be a bit lacking. I wanted to learn about the wines presented—but most of the representatives for each booth knew how to serve the wine properly but could not describe the wines they had out. I ran into a “cuvee” which I had not heard of. A Cuvee is basically a French term and it is used to denote a certain blend of wine from a vat or batch.
I didn’t know this at the time, so I asked the gentleman exactly what was a Cuvee. He looked at me and said, “Oh, this is a Cuvee.” Persistence is key apparently, so I said, “Yes, I see that it is a Cuvee, but what precisely is a Cuvee?” He quickly answered, “A red wine.” Great! I thought, I could see that a cuvee was a red wine, fortunately for me I was not born color blind. So I kept prodding, “Is it a full bodied wine, a medium bodied? Is it high in tannins? Is it sweet? Is it a blend?” Without answering, he took my ticket and poured me some cuvee. Word to the wise—each wine maker has their own version of cuvee—this particular winery’s cuvee wasn’t very good—it was very spicy and bitter and I still had to come home and google “cuvee” to learn about them.
About half way through the booths, a ran into a genuine wine snob. I really don’t have a nicer way to put it. She was older and wore a sundress and a hat and had a wine in her hand. She was busy chatting away to another lady, whether she knew the lady personally or not I could not tell. As the snob was chatting away to this lady, the lady listened while her eyes kept getting rounder and rounder almost to the point of not blinking. Why? Because of what the wine snob was saying.
Her conversation was about the differences between the upper class society’s tastes in wine, compared to that of an upper blue collar’s class and that of the ‘ordinaries’. She sat there and made the argument that if you didn’t have money you could not possibly know how to choose a good wine, nor did you have the education, experiences in life, or the finances to be able to enjoy enough fine wines to know what was really out there. To top it off…she was saying to be a true wine connoisseur, you almost had to be “in the distinguished circles of the upper society,” as those in lower classes really couldn’t relate to what constituted a fine wine and therefore the only purpose wine served them was to get drunk.
YES—she actually said all that, although I am now paraphrasing because she was much more wordy and much more animated in her language. I don’t know if the lady listening was appalled as I was or if she was just plain shocked that this snob was making such outrageous claims. Either way, I smiled as the snob continually put her foot in her mouth—and when my husband finally got his diet soda I was happy to walk away.
Now—up to this point—you may think that I didn’t care for the wine fest at all, but I should be fair. I should tell you that I loved sampling the wines—even the ones I didn’t like!! I think I enjoyed this because I was discovering more about myself without buying countless bottles of wine I wouldn’t take more than two sips of and it is always fun to learn more about yourself and what you like and dislike. I now have a new favorite wine from the experience—and as I said in my previous post, it was NOT a red wine!!
I sampled the smoothest, silkiest wine—it wasn’t sweet—and yet it was quite refreshing!! It happened to be a Pinot Grigio by Mezzacorona and after I took in its aromas and tasted it, I was completely bedazzled and quite in love. I had sampled two other pinot grigio’s that evening and this was by far better than both of them and better than the bottle I bought a couple of weeks ago to go with my dinner!
I almost took another ticket to get a second glass—but decided to stop at the store on the way home instead and continue sampling other wines—after all I might have found one I liked better. Well…that didn’t quite happen, but I did find a dessert wine that came in a close second! (You’ll have to wait for part 3 to hear about that yummy wine!)
So—what are the wine festivals like that you’ve attended?
Saturday, August 27, 2011
If you have been following Wine-n-Chat over the last couple of weeks you might have picked up on my excitement about going to my first wine festival!! I bought the tickets last weekend and waited patiently all week to attend the grand event. (Of course, it was grand because it was my first wine fest!)
So tonight—I got my first ‘taste’ of what a wine fest was all about and I got to sample nearly 10 or 12 different wines. I can tell you that the event was both educational and interesting—but part of me expected a little more.
This is not to say I was disappointed—but I think it could have been organized in a bit better fashion and geared toward a little more fun. My idea of fun and their idea of fun is not the same thing, trust me on this.
Anyway, I am not going to make this a really long post because I want to organize some of what I learned for my posts this week…but here is what you can expect to be reading about!! First and foremost, I have a new favorite wine—and no it is NOT red. (If you know me at all—I’m sorry you just fell out of your chair!!). I also have a new favorite dessert wine, which combines one of my favorite all time ingredients. The people in attendance at this thing ranged from the upper class snooty to the down to earth folk and the conversations I over heard were almost comical. Wine on an empty stomach pairs well with—well nothing. Live entertainment is a must for these events—and perhaps hosting these events past evening hours would make it more romantic and a lot cooler.
So—I will leave you with that little tid-bit of information for tonight. I also updated the Wines page on Wine-n-Chat so be sure to check it out. I am not done with it by any means—but I’m half way there.
Tell me, how was your weekend??
What makes a festival worth going to?
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Well—I’m going to save my wine pairing post for Saturday—and do a bit of chatting today!!
I think the last week has been absolutely insane. Sometimes I wonder why I push myself beyond my limits? I seriously have to consider whether I do this because I strive on the stress and the exhilaration of seeing how much I can take on or if I’m just simply past sanity at this point.
Without boring you to tears with details—I must tell you that in all honesty, I don’t know if I know how to relax. I went on vacation two springs ago—and I was supposed to be relaxing at my cousins house. I was there with my kids to visit family and my cousin wanted to take all the pressure off and make the visit a carefree one. By the end of the first night, she asked me why I was so stressed out—why I couldn’t wind down. And honestly at that point, I thought I had wound down—I thought I was relaxing—but when I heard her ask me about it and explain what she was “seeing”, I realized I had only taken the edge off.
The truth is…I like to be beyond my limits, not too far beyond them—but I’ve found a comfort zone outside them. I like to stretch myself little by little and see what I’m made of. I love the satisfaction I get when I can accomplish many things at once—and know that I had been successful. People ask me all the time, “How do you do it? How do you wear so many hats?” I take questions like that as a compliment. This, somehow in my skewed self-perceptions, makes me fruitful and somewhat effective. I like the feeling of being helpful toward others.
Except—there is a reason we set limits and enforce boundaries. Boundaries remind us that there is a limit to our maximum effectiveness. At some point, we start trading quality for quantity, not that I’m quantifying my helpfulness. Maybe I am questioning the effectiveness of my helpfulness. Also I’m not saying that it isn’t okay to push those limits and go beyond those boundaries—because I do think we all want to grow from our experiences from time to time. What I am saying is that maybe living beyond the limits for too long stunts growth to some extent and inhibits us from true fruition.
And I wonder if I have been beyond my limits for far too long? I seriously may not even remember where those boundaries are anymore.
Maybe I need 2 weeks at Grandma’s house in Florida?? I’m thinking that some time sitting back and gaining perspective would do me a world of good. I’ve been thinking about it for awhile. I haven’t done anything about it—because that would require major sitting arrangements for 5 kids and the expense of going down there—but I’m thinking I like the idea more and more each day. The idea of retreating back inside the boundaries—into a safe haven—and relaxing. No pushing, no stretching, no stressing—just pulling back long enough to get rejuvenated.
It’s a nice thought anyway!
What about you—do you find yourself pushing beyond your limits?
Do you sense when it’s time to pull back and gain perspective?
This was written for The Writers’ Post group’s weekly blog hop—theme this week is Beyond the Limits. Anyone is welcome to join the hops or our group on FB. Click the picture below to join today and get connected with other writers!
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
There is no doubt that delicious Merlot can serve well for many meals.....Merlot is a spectacular wine, that to my taste, is very flexible with many different types of food. I know that Merlot is very poplular in America...it just seems to have the perfect body/mouthfeel/taste to be able to stand up to (and complement) many foods.
I think Merlot can be a great accompaniment to many tomato-based pasta dishes. While I certainly respect Chianti, especially for robust dishes, Merlot can hold its respectable ground. I was trying to think of a quick, easy weeknight dish that would taste good, and I was able to come up with one rather quickly! All it took was some boiled Rigatoni (to al dente) and 3/4 of a jar of prepared tomato sauce I had sitting, waiting in the fridge. By all means, use a large can of crushed tomatoes (depending on the amount you intend to serve...then again, it is always good to make more sauce than you need....just in case. You can always freeze the extra sauce for later). With some sausage, wine & seasonings, you can quickly make a happy sauce to toss your al dente pasta in and serve! Enjoy!!
Monday, August 22, 2011
Well—Sunday came and went and I didn’t have a chance to get on here and post a blog—so this one will have to be double as Sunday and Monday’s post all in one. (Hint: this is code for a long post!)
This weekend I needed to finish off some bottles of wine, particularly the Malbec. I have to say, when I tried this the other week, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it paired with the steak that I had marinated in the bourbon peppercorn sauce. However, I felt adventurous this weekend and decided to try pairing it with two different dinners.
The first dinner I paired the Malbec with a beautiful New York Strip Steak, broiled to medium rare. I served this with steamed broccoli and I have to say it paired quite nicely. In my humble opinion a New York Strip steak comes in at my number two favorite steak choice—with prime rib being my favorite of course.
Anyway, the Malbec held up quite nicely—but it wasn’t as well paired a full bodied Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. In all reality, it was a close third though, but I decided I wasn’t going to quit there. I’ve read some suggestions that the Malbec pairs well with spicy or barbeque foods. So I had an idea for Sunday nights meal already smoking in the back of my head.
I decided to try out the rest of the Malbec with a plate of stir fry. I made a plate of white rice and used basic stir fry sauce, spicing up the beef with peppers from my garden. I had a red bell pepper, several garden salsa peppers and hot banana peppers. The bell pepper gives this dish the only sweet flavor—but both the salsa and hot banana peppers kick it the dish with flare. When paired with the Malbec—it was better than the New York Strip I ate the day before and even better when I had the sirloin marinated in bourbon peppercorn. This was so good in fact that I finished off the bottle of Malbec completely. (Okay there were only two and a half glasses left—so not like I went crazy there!)
Also Friday night, we made a pasta dish with prime rib cutlets, penne pasta, red peppers in a creamy alfredo sauce. I paired this with the Pinot Noir—which just seemed to be the perfect complement to this dinner. I think the Pinot Noir is light enough to handle the white sauce and pasta—and just hearty enough to handle the prime rib slices. I think of all the dishes I’ve paired so far with the Pinot Noir, this had to be my favorite. This was so good in fact that –not only did I thoroughly enjoy my wine with the dinner—I ended up finishing off this bottle as well. (For those of you suspecting I may have a slight wine addiction—I don’t want you to worry. This is something I get to do about 3 times a year—where I actually go buy wine and enjoy it with my dinners).
And finally, I have some very exciting news!! My husband and I get to go on a date to the Columbus Wine Festival. I can not wait!! I’m relatively new to the wine scene—learning as I go along—and I’m very excited about going to my first Wine Festival. I’m told there will be lots of wine tasting, food, entertainment all spread out on the grounds of the Franklin Park Conservatory. It ought to be great time—and I’m looking forward to it!
What is your favorite dinner and wine pairing?
Have you ever been to a Wine Festival? If so, what were your impressions?
Saturday, August 20, 2011
So it is that time of year again. I have successfully enrolled my youngest in Kindergarten and I went to the middle school to help my middle son pick up his schedule, pay his fees and find his classroom and lockers. My younger daughter is very excited she got the 3rd grade teacher she wanted and my older daughter is still dreading summer coming to an end and the onset of 7th grade homeschool. My oldest son and I get to go spend my hard earned money on his uniforms and supplies for high school later on today.
I realized when I had five children that nothing would be easy—but let’s be honest—even with hopping from store to store to find all the cheapest deals, back to school shopping is breaking my budget!! I think I need a part-time job just to afford the expense of backpacks, supplies and clothing for all five children. And you would think eventually I would learn, as I find myself in this predicament every August. And each August is just a tad worse than the last. So far—with the required school fees (yes our public schools still charge you a fee to attend), along with the cost of supplies, have set me back a grand total of $318.00!! I haven’t even begun to purchase their clothing yet and I still have to buy supplies for my oldest. And I have yet to get them each shoes and a haircut. I_CARUMBA!!!!
This time next week—they will have a mountain of forms for me to fill out and turn back in and I will have gone to 5 curriculum nights and met a whole new set of teachers for each of my kids. Talk about having a busy week!! My life might be busy now, but just wait to see my head spin next week. I promise you it will be loads of fun.
However—it is an exciting time for the kids—so I am mindful of how I approach the wallet-breaking, painstaking task of the first week back. Hopefully by the following week everyone will be settled into their routines and I’ll have my “school year normal.” You can feel the excitement building right now—but once the routine and homework settles in—it will return to mundane. I just can’t wait :)
So how is Back to School going for you??
I hear a lot of talk, among certain circles about the different major sources of news. Some love Fox News while others hate it. Some can’t stand MSNBC while other think they are right on track. And then you have CNN which is somewhere in the middle. It isn’t really loved by either end of any spectrum. And you wonder—if the art of broadcasting isn’t somehow more important than just bringing you the straight-forward unspun news.
An alternative source, Eagle 16, is quite a unique, all in one media platform. Bringing you not only the US News, but news from all over the world, such as European and Arab news. And they don’t stop there—they report on all the topics from sports to entertainment and from technology to food. It is a great site to stop at and get some pretty straight forward pieces, which can be somewhat refreshing from the major media gauntlets who are more concerned about rankings and putting on their best show vs. just giving you the facts without the spin.
The one thing I noticed about Eagle 16 is that there are a lot of stories on this site not covered by the major news networks. And while the material on this site is not broadcast on television, the written articles and videos are pretty straight forward pieces that are well presented. Journalism without all the analysis it is quite refreshing.
If you want to read what is going on in the world around you, Eagle 16 is a great place to start.
Friday, August 19, 2011
But this week I decided it was high-time that I broaden my wine-tasting even more. So my husband found a German Riesling. I was leery at first, especially since I have learned from my reading that rieslings and Gewurztraminers from the "Old World" tend to be 'sweeter' than wines from the "New World", due to the climate. I'd expected him to pick up a California Riesling, but my husband was intrigued when he saw the bottle of German Riesling, so he brought it home.
I have to tell you, I was pleasantly suprised when I tasted it!! Completely taken off guard. While it is very light on the palate, it was not a "sweet" wine at all....it was perfect! It went very well with the Asian chicken dish and sauces I made for dinner. On the wine label are suggestions for pairing that I believe would work very well, too: spicy Mexican foods, sushi...and even a burger! I was very pleasantly suprised and so glad I finally put aside my pre-conceived notions about these lighter wines and gave it a try. Riesling is definitely going to be a regular at our house now!
*We tried a bottle of "Funf" German Riesling
As many of you know, I’ve worked in the transportation industry for almost 20 years. I absolutely love what I do and I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun. Although I’ve never driven a truck, I am an logistics operations agent and have made many friends over the years that are owner-operators, driving over the road for a living.
The work they do is hard—and although sitting in the driver seat all day may not seem hard to you—physically it can leave many drivers out of shape and in poor health. This can inevitably lead to health problems, especially if they’ve been driving for a long time. And as many of you know, many drivers are self-employed and can’t really afford healthcare insurance. And the alternative for them is to pay out of pocket when they get sick or worse become hospitalized.
I know many drivers will neglect their health because they don’t want the expense of discount medical insurance policies or a trip to the doctor out of pocket. I’ve seen it more than once, where a driver can lose almost everything he or she has because time off of the road plus having to pay for medical care has become a huge financial burden. The coverage they thought they couldn’t afford, would have been better than encountering an unexpected and costly medical bill.
There are options out there for truck drivers or anyone needing medical coverage, and there are companies that will help people find the best health insurance quotes. Having something like major medical insurance instead of full coverage can be better than being caught empty handed. These type of policies usually carry lower health premiums than your full coverage HMO and PPO plans, and can help keep someone covered for those major medical procedures.
There are options out there and plans to accommodate each budget. When I hear a driver tell me they can’t afford health insurance, I remind them that they probably can’t afford not to have some type of coverage. They know I’m right but what they end up doing about it is up to them. Some will look into it and try to find a plan that works for them and others will just take the risk that they’ll have the money on down the road when something goes wrong. Hopefully, they can keep healthy and safe until they figure out what works best for them.
This week’s topic for The Writers’ Post is Silent Moments. I think at this point in my life, silent moments is something I’ve come to appreciate. Let’s face it, I lead a pretty full life and time to myself is usually quite rare. Now don’t get me wrong, I would rather have my full life then trade it in for the silence, but just the same there isn’t a strong balance between the two. So when the rare silent moment decides to grace me with its presence, there is something just so refreshing about it.
There are a few silent moments that I think are just absolutely beautiful. For example, when each of my children were first brought home from the hospital and placed in their new cribs, I would walk in their rooms to check on them. There is nothing as calm and tender as a sleeping baby, breathing so gently and so peacefully. Their faces so innocent—their bodies so tiny—yet just beginning to thrive all on their own. The small stirs they make—as they adjust from the comfort of the womb to this great big world. Those silent moments are beautiful and miraculous and remind you how promising life can be. I usually get teary-eyed as I think of how beautiful those moments are.
Another one of my favorite silent moments happens on Christmas Eve. When all the presents are wrapped, the kids are in bed, the Christmas Carols have been turned off—and you sit and marvel the beautifully decorated tree, lit up in the middle of the night. There is a quietness outside as well as in the house. That stillness of the night is magical—beautiful—memorable. It is the moment just before the excitement of Christmas morning. Oh I love this silent moment—each and every year.
I’ll leave you with one more silent moment—this one comes when I’m wrapped up in my husband’s arms. Whether it is a hug, him keeping me warm on a winter walk, or just after we’ve made love, it is one of the most precious of silent moments. That sweet, usually stolen moment of hushed love—unspoken—and yet somehow very powerful, drowns out everything around me—leaving me filled with joy, love, and peace.
And that is what I thought of for this topic of silent moments.
What are your favorite silent moments??
This was written for The Writers’ Post blog hop, for the theme of silent moments. Anyone is welcome to join the hop. Click on the picture below to join us on Facebook or join in via linky tools below.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Okay, don't laugh. A couple times this week, including last evening, my husband has told me that he thought he felt a "coolness" in the air. It is August in Florida. Now, I'm not making fun of him, mind you. By this time, we've had enough heat and we're eagerly anticipating some cool weather to come along. I know that in all my years, I don't think there has ever been a cool day in August, so I know that he must be mistaken. But this happens every year, he starts around this time. I think if we get a minute amount of dry weather or even a breeze from a neighboring thunderstorm, he suspects it to be a cool front. I'll step out to see and the humidity will engulf me as usual, and I will let him down easy..."No, it was just a breeze. Maybe in September". Now I, on the other hand, tend to feel the "phantom Fall" sometime in September...I don't know if it's cause sometimes the air is drier here and there or if it is a trick of the mind due to waning daylight hours.
Last night my husband told me it felt cooler, he even was optimistic enough to think the house could be opened up for a bit! I was very skeptical about that, until I saw a weather report that said they expected it to get down into the 60s in our area....the 60s!!! I was suprised and joyful. I think that was why I was inspired to make a dinner last night that I thought was more of a "Fall" type of dinner....it had dark colors, lentils & caramelized onions, after all. But I admired the recipe in a book a couple weeks ago and had made a note that I wanted to try it. Now was a good time!
So last night I made Sautee'd Tuna steaks with balsamic-caramelized onions on a bed of lentils with broccoli florets. It turned out to be quite good! And luckily, despite the dark colors, the dish did not turn out to be heavy at all....the lentils (which I have not used much in cooking, but I will from now on!) were suprisingly light...and the caramelized onions were a very nice accent. Yum! It turned out to be a meal that was quite healthy, but suprisingly tasty at the same time.
By the way, it never really felt cool last night, even if it did make it into the 60s....but here's hoping!
*We photographed the meal with a bottle of "Little Roo Merlot" that I'd intended to open. But after tasting the dish, especially with the sweet, balsamic caramelized onions, I did not think the wine would be a good match and I didn't have anything on my rack that I thought would be. I am leaning towards a red wine with a bit of a sweet quality to it....anyone have any suggestions?
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Okay—I hope you are able to play the video above. The first thing I want you to note is what Letterman is holding. That is pure VINYL baby! Oh yeah!!
This week’s topic for GBE2 is trust. I have to say—it took me a day or two to know what I wanted to share on this topic. Trust is one of those things I take for granted that just is…although it might not have always been like that.
When I first married, I had some trust issues. I predicated that my husband would fall prey to the behavior of other prominent male figures in my life. This quite offended him, and instead of offering reassurances that he was not like the male role models in my family, he was highly offended that I would insult his integrity by categorizing him with them. I had to learn quick that my husband was NOT those other men, and I had no real good reason to put him on the spot like that.
In many ways, I whole-heartedly agreed what I had done was wrong. Yet, I had really not known anything else. It took me awhile to get through to him, that unfaithful men were a way of life among men in my family, along with many other untrusting behaviors and it wasn’t easy for me to think differently about men in general. I had insecurities that were based on past experiences, not only with those male role models I grew up with, but also with men I had dated prior to my husband. While he understood my trust issues were conditioned by past experiences, he still contended that he was not them. And once again he was right.
How to break the cycle?
It wasn’t easy. I think one of the things my husband did best was trust me and love me unconditionally. He showed me how to trust by setting the example. He’s a pretty steady guy and not too much ruffles his feathers. He was and still is very confident in our relationship and never once questioned my integrity as I did his in the beginning. Over time he’s been able to keep my trust by proving time and time again, that he means what he says by doing what he says he is going to do. One of his biggest pet peeves is when people say they will do something and then not follow through. Thankfully, I was always pretty consistent about that—or at least I’ve warned him if something came up and I could not follow through.
We’re going on 16 years and of all the people that I know I can count on and really trust—beyond a doubt—he’s the one. I think those initial trust issues have been resolved and I truly realize that he is NOT like the men I grew up with or the men I dated. I clearly see his point now—and thank goodness he loved me enough to let me work through my issues. I have found a rare gem—and I know I’m blessed.
What about you? Do you have trust issues?
**Written for the GBE2 blogging group on Facebook. Please click the picture below to join in on the fun.**
I was pleasantly surprised to learn from one of my friends that near the end of July, Wine-n-Chat made it to a page rank 2!! I have to tell you—I was so excited—until I realized that I had no idea exactly what that meant for my little blog.
That opened up a whole can of worms that I am still trying to wrap my brains around. You see, after I was told my blog was a page rank 2, I went to the site to see the page rank for myself. I slowly came across terms like search engine optimization and meta tags. And you know what? It didn’t sound familiar to anything I’ve done with this blog so far. As far as I knew, my blog was about drinking wine, having a good chat, and discussing topics about life in general.
Then, I got to thinking—what if I actually tried to get my page rank up there? So I did a little research about what goes into page ranking. Meta Tags are like keywords for your site and your pages that help the search engines find you. Backlinks are incoming links to your site from another site. Someone mentions your site on their site with a link. These links are like votes and they help with search engine optimization. Search engine optimization is how you ready your site for the search engine crawlers to find you.
There are a number of factors that go into the ranking process by the search engines that crawl your site. If you’re interested, I’ll share with you briefly the factors that seemed most important. The first rule is to provide quality content on your blog. SEO experts say you need to provide content that is useful to your readers and stands above other similar content. Then you need to build your backlinks, basically build your rapport with other quality sites so they’ll link to you. You also need to make sure your site or blog is properly structured so that they are search engine friendly, one way to do this is to add meta tags. And one last one that seemed important, social bookmarking will help your site’s ranking as well.
A bit overwhelming? I have to agree. I think the best thing to do if you’re serious about increasing your rankings, is to invest in a reputable SEO company that will help your site rise above your competition. For a small time blogger like me, I’ll just stick to what I know best, which is chatting up a storm and drinking wine when the budget allows. I’m thrilled I have attained a page rank 2, but I’m not out to own the internet—just my little corner over here on Wine-n-Chat.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Now how about that common issue where you have leftover wine? You've opened a bottle, but perhaps it is just you and your hubby or a friend and you don't feel like finishing the bottle...you just wanted a glass or two. In the past I may have been hesitant to open a bottle of wine, especially a red wine, if I didn't think it would be consumed that evening. But why should you deny yourself a glass of that wine you've been wanting to try? There are several options for leftover wine.
First of all, wine keeps a little longer in the refrigerator, so you may even wish to refrigerate that red wine after you've opened it if you don't plan to drink it that day or the next. You can also buy different gadgets (such as a vacuum-sealer) to help preserve wine longer. One of my favorites is to utilize the wine in cooking...you can deglaze a pan, add it to risotto, et cetera. You don't have to try to find a special recipe that calls for wine...many dishes would benefit from adding it, as wine tends to add a depth of flavor.
How about a wine sorbet? Talk about a fancy dessert! Not only is it refreshing and pretty, but easy, too. Check out this "basic wine sorbet" recipe from the Food Network. How about wine cookies? Not only a different twist on dessert, but wouldn't these be great in a wine gift basket? There are many creative ways to use leftover wine, so don't be hesitant to open that bottle, or to open several bottles at a wine tasting party. Enjoy!
Sunday, August 14, 2011
“Life is like a mirror, we get the best results when we smile at it.”—Unknown.
When I read this quote—it struck a chord. I’m not going to write a long, dragged out post this time…I’m (hopefully) going to write a few short words and let it go at that. This still remains to be seen—because I’m almost never pithy with my thoughts or my posts. (Ha-Ha!)
I won’t sit here and paint you a perfect picture of my life. I don’t know anyone who has had the fairytale life—and to be honest with you, if I met them I’d probably find them quite boring. However, I think there is something to be said about perceptions and projections. I try to be real to who I am—but at the same time I try not to dwell on the negatives too long. And sometimes it leaves people with the perception that everything is perfect on my end. I have a great husband (check), 5 beautiful kids (check), a mini-schnauzer, (check), a home (check), a job (check), etc., etc. However—this doesn’t mean my life is perfect.
What you see here is what you get. I do have to make an effort to NOT dwell on the negatives—and just like everyone else that battle can sometimes get the better of me. I certainly have my moments of woe is me. I try to move on from them as quickly as I can—and like everyone else—some of those moments are way longer than they should be. However, I try to always catch myself and ground myself in the things about my life that are working—going well—and I try to focus on them.
It just seems to me, someone who always focuses on the negatives and never takes time to count their blessings is self-indulgent to an extent, and selfishly seeking attention, to even a greater one. Things happen—and it is totally understandable for people to find comfort among friends. But if someone is constantly down, they end up bringing others down with them.
What good does that do?
At some point, the negative people have to jump off the pity train and start thanking Him for what is right and good in their life. And if they happen to be someone that doesn’t believe in God, A higher power, etc., then they need to start focusing on what is positive and going well for them. I call it, “Counting my blessings.” It is something someone simply must try, if they haven’t.
I don’t mean to preach—Lord knows I am not fit for that title. When I look in the mirror—I smile. Yes life has it’s ups and downs. It has its hardships and its joys. It has its drama and its humbleness. But you know what?? While I’m here—given all the good and the bad, I want to enjoy the journey. I want to dance off beat, sing off key, and skip until I trip. I want to smile at life and savor the good moments and learn from the not so good moments then share them with people. I want to be able to look myself in the eye, when I gaze into the mirror and know—really know—despite every obstacle, every bump in the road—that I made a choice to enjoy life and laugh along the way.
**This was written for the BFF prompt Mirror Mirror**
Also submitted for the Comment Love Sunday at FTLOB!! Linky List below!!
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Tonight, I’m enjoying a glass of Pinot Grigio and relaxing in the crisp breeze blowing through my windows. It is a bit unexpected for the middle of August and ever so often I feel a chill across my shoulders. A definite reminder that the summer days are numbered and fall is quickly approaching.
I’ve been giving a lot of consideration to updating my fall wardrobe, as last year’s sizes will no longer fit me—a feather in my cap for sure. I’ve been scouring the internet for the best deals and I came across a classy line of plus size fashion clothing by Jessica Landon. Jessica Landon has some of the best styles for sizes 12W-32W and a great sale going on right now as well. They are offering $20.00 off an order of $50.00 or more OR $40.00 of an order of $100.00 or more, through August 14, 2011 using code JLE5624.
They also have a Fall Into Sale going on right now…where you can find tops, pants, dresses, shoes, accessories, and more at great prices. This selection of fall clothing has a variety of styles and colors in casual, business, and formal wear. Also a nice selection of shoes and accessories to jazz up any wardrobe additions. The prices are reasonable, and very agreeable to this mom of five who has to also afford back to school clothing for her children.
If you haven’t seen the latest sales and fashions going on at Jessica Landon, visit http://www.jessicalandon.com/ and perhaps consider updating your wardrobe before the cooler weather settles in and decides to stay.
Friday, August 12, 2011
I think a great idea is to purchase a WineTasting Kit....the kits often come with booklets that help you with "how" to taste, what to look for and how to describe it. They may also give you a book with maps and information about climates in different countries where grapes are grown. They will also often come with a bag (or bags) so you can put the bottle(s) of wine in the bag to conceal it's identity....this often can help prevent pre-conceived notions of what a wine SHOULD taste like just based on the varietal on the label.
Other ways I love to learn are through books! A lot of wine books can be pretty "uptight" and "stuffy", though....you can hardly read a page or two at a time. I prefer the books that are in a much more "natural" writing style, more like a conversation. There are many good books out there that explain the basics of wine (and more!) in an easy and fun-to-read format. Wine should be fun and interesting! Not pretentious and exhausting. I especially enjoy books by the author and master sommelier Andrea Immer. http://http//www.andreawine.com/videos/daily-tastings
Another, very fun way to enjoy and learn about wine and keep a momento of your experiences is to do a wine journal or scrapbook. Remove the labels from the wine bottles to glue in your book and add descriptions/tasting notes and the date. Stores that sell scrapbook supplies often offer papers and stickers with a wine-theme, too.
I’ve been blessed with great teeth. Not only was I born with perfectly straight teeth, I also never had a cavity until my late 30’s. However I do know, I could have probably made it into my 40’s without a cavity if I had just gone to the dentist regularly in my 20’s and early 30’s. However, finding affordable dental care wasn’t often very easy. Also, finding a dentist that could accommodate a hectic schedule was even a more daunting task.
Luckily, if you live in parts of the Southwest United States, you can find affordable dentists with The Smile Generation. This network of private dentists, include not only your family dentists, but dentists who have a specialty, such as endodontists, oral surgeons, and orthodontists. These dentist use state of the art, specialized equipment in order to give you the best quality care. They are committed to giving you their best, while valuing your time and money.
I think the best part about the dentists of The Smile Generation is they are doing some great things to give back to their community and beyond. The Smile Generation has their own blog called Share a Smile. This blog highlights some of the things they are doing to give back to those in need and it also features some ‘Ask the Dentist’ segments. They seek to be interactive with their patients and their community in order to show their commitment to being the best in their field.
Check out http://www.smilegeneration.com/ and see if you can find one of these great dentists in your community.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Where to begin?
The other day, my blog post titled Suggestions on Pairings asked my readers to suggest a white wine and a dish for me to try this weekend. Many people weren’t sure what to suggest—although I did receive a few suggestions. I had to laugh at a few—because I am NOT a cook and I don’t enjoy cooking and I failed to mention this little fact. So if you sent me a recipe that seemed a bit “involved” I will kindly pass it to my husband but I’ll have to wait on him to decide to make it…because frankly, hot dogs and spagheteos usually presents a challenge for me if I am not in the right frame of mind for cooking.
I know at this point you may not believe me. Well—here’s something for you to ponder. My oldest son once said, “If mom cooked it, be sure to say Grace first, because you never know if it will be the last supper.” We all had a good laugh at my expense—then quickly bowed our heads to say our prayers, as we all knew that child spoke the truth!!
Now that you know how well I get along with cooking…I must address the subject of trying a white wine pairing this weekend. Unfortunately—I am going to have to postpone that until a different time. I have this thing called vertigo, that hit me suddenly 3 days ago. I can tell you that it comes and goes and I’m not really sure why I have it, although I went to the doctor and it appears to be something that will probably quickly pass. That said, eating food, much less drinking wine, has sunk to the bottom of my priority list. Unless it completely disappears and I’m no longer on this medicine—wine is not advisable. Also—many foods are not appealing. Bummer!!
Well—what does all that mean?? It just means I’ll be doing a lot more chatting on the blog here! Whereas I don’t get along with cooking—I do have a gift of gab—or writing as it is in this case!!
Hope you all have a GREAT Thursday!!
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
If you’ve been following along—you know that I found a white wine I actually like, Pinot Grigio. I am making another pasta dish tomorrow and will have a glass of it with dinner.
I will make one more dish Thursday night to try to finish up the bottle. (I’m sure there are at least two more glasses of wine left perhaps a third). But then I have the weekend coming up and it is payday…so I thought….hmmm…Let me ask for suggestions!!!
Here’s the deal. I’d like for you---if you don’t mind—to select a white wine for me to try and something that it pairs easily with. I need to hear from YOU!!
I would LOVE suggestions for me to try out a new white wine and perhaps a dish to go with it. However, I’ll caution, because I am picky. I am NOT a great cook. I burn most things because either ADD kicks in or the kids distract me…so let’s not try to make me a gourmet chef over night!! LOL. So here are my rules—I’m trying to be OPEN about it…but I do have some ---er---standards?? LOLOL!
Anything bubbly is out. NO CHAMPAIGNE. I detest the stuff. I don’t like that brut or sherry either, way too dry for my palate. I need something rather smooth and perhaps silky.
No Fish!! I can’t eat fish. This includes shrimp, lobster, oysters, and tuna. I won’t consider a recipe with it.
I live in Ohio—I find imported wines here all the time—but something I would have to order special from another part of this country or another country all together is out. In other words, if you know of a great wine I have to order in from Australia—I wouldn’t have time to get it here before the weekend. That sort of thing. I don’t mind name brand suggestions—but I have to easily find them in my market—or I’ll just pick out a similar one.
I’m on a budget!! So—while I’m excited to try new things—I reserve the right to modify any recipe to fit within my means. For instance—if you have me slaving to make my own pasta from scratch in your suggested recipe—it will probably be cheaper to BUY the pasta and boil it myself. That sort of thing. When I get rich and famous—I promise to do your initial recipe from scratch!!
In a nutshell, Which White Wine (besides Pinot Grigio) should I try? And which dish (main meal or even a dessert) would you suggest would pair well with it??
If you respond to this—and I chose your pairing—I will blog about it next week—and tell everyone what I thought and I’ll link back to your blog. I’m also going to create an Award Badge so you can stick it on your blog if you like—as the prize!! How cool is that?? I know. Not much, but it is all I have to offer!!
I’m so looking forward to hearing from my readers!! If you’re not sure on a pairing—it is okay—you can leave a smiley below or something so I know you read this!
In all fairness, Celeste sent me a recipe prior to this post—but I won’t be able to do that one this weekend. (Sorry Celeste—I think we’re shooting for the following weekend or the weekend after. My boys go on vacation this weekend and we want to do it when they are here with us. I will do it and blog about it soon!!)
Monday, August 8, 2011
When I saw this picture—I thought back to my life 16 years ago. I was engaged and we were meeting regularly with our Pastor for the pre-marital counseling thing. And there is one thing he said that through all these years sort of stuck.
I’ll have to paraphrase but it went something like this: The three C’s of Marriage: Caring, Communication and Commitment. The greatest of these is Commitment. When you have “No Quit” in you options…then you find a way to stay committed.
I was shocked—shouldn’t caring come first or even communication? No, He said Commitment. Well back then, I was young and thought he was out there. Little did I know…
My husband and I have been married 16 years. Never once did we quit. We may have come close once or twice. We are far from perfect. When things got edgy, we would always remind each other of, “No Quit”. Once we took the option to quit, walk away, etc., off the table…something happened. It was as if we silently acknowledged that we were on the same side. Then the communication would open back up and then we could start caring.
I understand for some—that walking away is the only option. Usually that means that the three C’s just weren’t priorities—for one party or the other or maybe both. And I don’t judge what others have to do—because that is what works for them, and I respect that. But I married a great guy—I don’t regret that decision ever and as far as I am concerned—our marriage is the NO QUIT zone.
What say you?
*This was a topic written for the GBE2 group on Facebook –we were given a picture prompt (pictured above) and we were to write on it however we saw fit. Do you want to join a great group of bloggers?? Click on the pic below to join!!