Category Archives: why I drink

Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc: Flippant Food & Wine Friday

Any blog regulars or twitter followers should know how I adore wine. Some women relax with crochet needles, some go for Prozac, I savor a glass (or two) of wine at the end of the day. So when Cupcake Vineyards asked if I wanted to review a selection of their wines…there was no arm twisting necessary…only dreams of untwisting a few caps from bottles of their varied vintages.

And I do mean varied.  When most people picture a vineyard, rows of lush grape vines and villas come to mind, the grapes harvested, bottled, and distributed from the same carefully tended land.  The Cupcake Vineyards winery resides in Soledad, California, far south of the famed Napa Valley. But since each grape variety has distinctly different needs, they also buy grapes from around the world, taking advantage of the unique soils, micro-climates, and generations of experience to expand their wine selection.

Cupcake’s Sauvignon Blanc hails from the cool climes of Marlborough, New Zealand, the country’s largest wine growing region.

I was nearly startled by my first sip of the Sauvignon Blanc. The cool, crisp, nearly tart wine was the virtual opposite of my go-to buttery and oaky chardonnay.  After a few minutes if opened up just a bit, the flavor mellowing into a delightful mix of fresh greens and zingy citrus.

This pale, light-to-medium bodied wine was quite refreshing. The winemaker calls out the bright lemon and lime tastes; I was reminded of a Granny Smith apple (perhaps because I was staring at a bowl full of them). Either way, I was inspired to bake an apple cake as I sipped the delightful wine.

It paired well with a grilled chicken salad, the wine echoing the crispness and freshness of the vegetables. Perfect for a summer afternoon or dining al fresco on a balmy Florida fall evening.

Cupcake Vineyards 2011 Sauvignon Blanc

Pairings: White meats (chicken, light fish, shellfish), light vinaigrettes, salads.

Price: Suggested $13.99

Availability: Nationwide

*This product was sent to me for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation. The opinions expressed are my own.  I cannot guarantee a positive review for any product or services, but I can promise a review written with honesty and integrity. 

Howl: A True Story

A howl crept into my dreams last night, blurring the hazy line between real and make-believe.

Again it interrupted, closer. Louder. My ears, tuned through the years to hear any childish murmurs, perked up, alert, listening. It was 3:10 AM. The night should have been silent and still.

Screeching. An owl? Incomprehensible howls. A cat in heat? A wounded animal? It was creeping closer.

“Help! Somebody help me!”

I bolted strait up in bed, preying my heavy-sleeping husband heard it as well. He did.

“Oh, God… HELP!”

My husband peered out the window above our heads. I dashed to the blinds facing the street. A dark figure, a man, lurched down our quiet suburban street, haphazardly dodging between the streetlights as he screamed.

We looked at each other, panicked. We were awake, right?  I pinched myself to be sure. What should we do?

I grabbed the phone and for the first time in my life dialed 9-1-1.

I frequently call the number in my dreams (more technically, nightmares) and usually the phone just rings and rings until it rolls over to the droll automated voice telling me all lines are busy, please try again later. Or someone does finally answer and I have no voice…

Someone answered.

 “911, do you have an emergency?

“There’s a man waking down my street. He’s screaming for help.”

“Does he look injured? Do you need an ambulance or police?”

“Yes, I don’t know what’s wrong with him, he’s just crashing into things and screaming for help.”

“We get calls like this all the time. Are you sure you need support?”

Am I sure?

Crashes echoed down the sleeping street as the man overturned recycling bins and garbage cans.  “Oh God, oh God, help meeeee…”

My husband peered out the stained glass of the front door, it’s cut-work refracting the already disturbing scene outside. A knife filled one hand, a baseball bat the other.

Our son crept out of his bedroom, his sleepy eyes wide. “What’s going on?”

Even with the full moon I could not make out any details of the man. Was he injured? A victim of a hit and run, burglary, or domestic dispute? Was he holding anything? An animal he hit with his car…or a child?

Was he a victim or a villain?

I read the newspaper, watch the news, and read far to many crime novels. I am acutely aware of the heinous acts man can commit against even those he may love the most. He could be fleeing the scene of the crime. Was there a scene of horror within some neighbors darkened house? Guns, knives, flames, even samurai swords have destroyed lives in even the quietest, supposedly safest suburbs nearby.

“Yes, we need the police, now, please…”

Three minutes, forty-eight seconds. That’s how long my call to 9-1-1 lasted. Two police cars silently sped down the street, stopping just past our house. My husband burst out the door, his curiosity getting the best of him. I carried my son back to his bed then waited by the door for answers.

Two houses down, the police wrestled the man to the ground as he shouted, pleaded for help. Help from what? Drugs? PTSD? It was the night of 9/11…was he being chased down by ghosts and destruction?

I will never know.

Police cars cruised our street long after the ambulance pulled away.  All were silent: no lights, no sirens, once they passed no traces of their presence lingered on the moonlit lane.

Yet the rank smell of fear clung to us as we tried to return to sleep. We could not find safety or solace even huddled together under the sheets in our suburban glen. My hand grew stiff from grasping the phone, but I would not release my lifeline.

I would not go back to sleep this tonight. I held out for my saviors: daylight and coffee.


One-Buck Chuck and my Frugal Food Challange

So back at the beginning of the month I wrote about My October Food Budget Challenge and promised to save ALL of my grocery receipts. The USDA thinks my little family of three should be spending $464 to $963 per month on groceries. I disagree.

Now, I DID mention that I am not including my wine budget. You can’t make me. 
But I do have to show off a Target frugal find from Friday:
No, I DO NOT DRINK Arbor Mist. 
OR White Zin.
(Well, maybe in college, but that was a LONG TIME AGO.)

But I know people who do. 
I’m just trying to be a nice hostess.
(They don’t have to know it cost $1.)
The Martin Codax, however, is a Albarino from the wine reigion of Rias Baixas in Northwest Spain. 
Reviews say its a pretty decent bottle for its $16 price point.
Personally, I like this bottle’s $2 price point much better.
I would have bought more, but I scoured the shelves and it was the ONLY one.
I only hope it didn’t sit in a truck for two years and taste like vinegar when we pop the cork.

Now back to the REAL budgeting.

Week 1 was tricky. I hosted Kiddo’s birthday party and had ten family members over for lunch, cake, and drinks and I had to bring store-bought cupcakes into his class.  There was also a ton of stuff I use on sale at Publix (with coupon matches–come on, how can I turn down pasta for a quarter?) so I had a much bigger shopping week than usual.

Week 1:

Publix $60.37 (saved $95.41 though)
Aldi $52.49
Walmart $15.84

TOTAL $128.70

Week 2:

Publix: $7.43
Aldi: $36.28

TOTAL:  $43.71

The USDA says I should be spending between $108 (thrifty) and $192 (liberal) per week, so even with the big party week, I’m still doing okay.

{sticks tongue out at USDA}
We shall see how it goes. I still have to do a Costco run before the end of the month. Ka-ching.

An Ode to Slutty Halloween Costumes

*I am a horrid poet and I totally know it.
The following poem is purely for jest and fun
and because Mama Kat said I had to write one.

I apologize in advance.


Halloween is a night for witches, ghosts, and ghouls,
yet now often teens and adults look like fools.
Gone are the costumes aimed to frighten and scare;
if you’re a woman you must practically show your underwear.

Sexy fairy tale heroines stray far from their books
and naughty angels and French maids give sultry looks.
And who came up with the idea for a sexy raccoon?
Same guy as the sexy ninja turtle, I’d betcta the moon.

And who wants to emulate anyone from The Jersey Shore
with big hair and hoochie dresses, passing out on the floor?
If you are a woman you are supposed to dress like a vamp
and your costume should show off your tattooed tramp stamp.

As I’ve seen teen girls wearing these outfits looking glib,
I wonder whatever happened to that old idea of Women’s Lib?
 Women can be beautiful, strong and smart
without looking like a hooker or common tart.

We should show off our talents, our brains, our grace;

for we are better than this, we’ve earned our place.
If I was to go out and have a good time
I think I would pick a costume representing one of my favorite things — wine!

(he kind of looks like Hubby anyway)

What do you think? Would any of these outfits make me (or YOU) the life of the party?


Dirty Minds as Dick Has Fun With Jane

Just before Kiddo started learning to read  I found a Storybook Treasury of Dick and Jane at our library book store. (BTW the BEST place to build a kids personal book collection on the cheap while you support your local public library branch.)

I vividly remember sitting at my kindergarten table and reading from my paperback Dick and Jane reader.  I snatched that book up and brought it home imagining hours of bonding with my child while fondly reminiscing about my own childhood.

Instead I learned that the Hubby and I have very dirty minds. It was the end of our innocence.

We always read to Kiddo before bed. Dick and Jane seemed to be the perfect book to get him started reading to us.  Simple little stories about Dick and his sister Jane’s adventures with Baby Sally and Spot and the whole vintage clan.  A new word or two is introduced in each chapter and the stories slowly build word recognition and reading skills.

Except it became too damn hard to keep a straight face and not start giggling…especially after a glass of wine.

See, Baby.
See, see.
Oh, oh, oh.
Oh, Dick.
Look and see.
See Baby.

Sounds like something from the latest Top Ten sexually infused rap/pop song, right?

From Puff and Dick:

Come Baby.
Look up, Baby
Look up and see Puff.
Look up and see Dick.
See Dick go up.
See Dick go up, up, up.
Oh, Jane.

See Dick come down.

See Puff come down.
Down, down, down.
Oh, oh, oh.
See Puff come down.

 I swear, we were both biting our bottom lips and struggling not to bust out laughing.  Come on. 

Jane said, “Oh, Dick.
I cannot find the balls.
Come, Dick, come.
Come and find the balls.”
Dick said, “I see it.
I see the big ball.”
Jane said, “Oh, Dick…”

Or how about:

Come, come.
Come and see.
See Father and Mother.
Father is big…

Couldn’t they change Dick’s name to Tom or Harry? Okay, maybe not Harry…and certainly not Willy. I had to have a lovely discussion with Kiddo about how some boys are named Willy and it is not because they resemble a penis. How about Floyd or Milton or Roger…no innuendos hiding in those names.

Since we are past the days of Dick and Jane in our house, I am generously going to pass along this treasure to another family.  And I can’t wait to hear if they have dirty minds too.


Christmas in September?

While running through JoAnne’s this afternoon I was shocked to see holiday decorations already lining the isles. No, not Halloween (that’s already on clearance), not Thanksgiving (currently marked 50% off), but Christmas. In September. But, I’m still getting used to this back-to-school thing…I haven’t even started thinking about Halloween yet…it’s still 90 freaking degrees outside, for Christ’s sake… STOP the PRESSURE! 
Then one ornament caught my eye, then another, and yet another.  WINE ornaments. Hmmmm…Maybe I’ll have to go back in a few months when they are on sale, there is a slight nip in the air, and I feel the slightest hint of holiday cheer…
{Please excuse the photo fuzziness — my phone is practically an antique.}

If you are on my holiday gifting list, please at least pretend to be surprised if you see one of these under the tree.

Cheers my friends

TangerineCello Recipe

“Pure sunshine in a bottle.”

That’s my favorite description of Limoncello, the refreshing and iconic drink of the Italian Coast. Hubby and I fell in love with the lemon liquor during our honeymoon in Italy. After each dinner (and occasionally even lunch) our cameriere (waiter) would deliver the delightful chilled shot glass of brilliant yellow liquid. Whether sipped or shot, a glass of this elixir leaves you with a slight afterglow, as if you have been kissed by the sun.

Since we couldn’t stay in Italy forever (oh, how I wish we could have) we had to hunt down our new favorite after-dinner digestivo stateside.  Ten years ago, that wasn’t so easy.  Luckily, a co-worker’s Italian Mother graced us with her family recipe. Making limoncello became Hubby’s passion, nearly an obsession, as he tried to duplicate the taste he so fondly remembered from our lazy days in Italian cafes.

Don’t worry, we shared. Limoncello became a holiday tradition. Friends and relatives threatened to withhold our gifts if we didn’t give them another years supply under the tree. Yeah, it was that good.

When we moved into our home we were pleased to discover it came with a mature tangerine tree. It produced bushels of fruit. And we had no idea what to do with all of it. One year Hubby got a flash of culinary brilliance and decided to adapt our Limoncello recipe to use up our bounty of tangerines.

A new specialty drink was born. And drunk. And enjoyed.

I’m going to share our TOP SECRET recipe with you. This recipe makes quite a big batch — enough to last you a year (unless you have a wicked drinking problem) and to share. Make it. Your friends will LOVE you…

Trattoria Morgan’s Tangerine Cello**

 **(to make Limoncello simply sub lemons for the tangerines)

1 kilo tangerines – 2.2 lbs (about 10)
1 liter grain alcohol*
1.25 liters water
700 grams (3 1/2 cups) sugar

Step 1

  • Zest tangerines. Take a zester or a fine grater and remove only the colored part of the rind.  *Avoid the white pith — it is bitter and will change the flavor.* (This part is messy, but your whole house will smell like a citrus grove.)
  • Pour the grain alcohol into a large glass jug or jar (must have a lid to seal). Add the zested rind. Let it sit for two weeks. (Yes, it must be glass. Large mason jars or recycled gallon sized wine bottles work well. The citric acids will corrode plastic.)

Step 2 (two weeks later)

  • In a large pot, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Cool. 
  • Layer some cheesecloth over a mesh strainer and set over a large bowl.  Pour the grain/rind carefully into the strainer, filtering out all of the rind. Pour the (nice orange) alcohol back into the glass jar. 
  • Add in cooled sugar water.
  • Let it sit another week or two. Store in glass or distribute into smaller, decorative bottles. Keep servings in the freezer — it is best ice cold.

*Many recipes call for vodka, but we prefer grain. Higher alcohol content = no chance of it freezing when you store it in the freezer. But if you can ‘t find grain (I’m told some states won’t sell it?) you can use vodka.

Take three shots and email me in the morning.
If you do any more I don’t want to hear from you (and don’t blame your hangover on me).

{that’s “cheers” in Italian, you know…}


Wordless Wino Wednesday: The Morning After

On a much lighter note…

Remnants of a good night. 
{No, not last night, but a memorable recent Saturday evening.} 
2005 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 Gnarley Head Old Vine Zin
2009 Big Ass Zin
and a reserve bottle of Winking Owl Chardonnay

Steaks on the grill
Potato, Proscuitto, & Fontina Cakes (recipe to come)
Sabrina’s Spinach Salad
Cheers, lovelies…

Fab &Funny Wine Charms

Saturday night we had friends over for an evening of wine tasting, recipe experimentation, and intelligent conversation. I broke out the “good” Waterford tulip white wine glasses only to find {gasp} trash bag twist ties wrapped around their delicate bases. Hubby couldn’t find our wine charms and went all MacGyver on me. Hence, our Redneck Wine Charms.

I was not amused.

It was time to find some proper wine charms.  It does get rather old trying to delineate whose glass is whose…especially after you have consumed a few glasses…

The only place I could find ANY cool, fun, or funky wine charms was Etsy.  Which ones should I choose?

Which ones shall I buy?

Summer Smashed at the Shore

The prompt:

Your blogging Tribe is visiting you for ONE NIGHT out on the town. Write a post with a pre-game drink recipe (alcoholic or non) and tell us where you’d take your blogging friends for a good time!

The response:

My recipe for a perfect {blogger} friend night on the town is actually more of a night in…

Instead of trying to yell over music and chatter of local restaurants and clubs we are going to take it nice and easy. We are meeting up at the timeshare condo on the beach.

It will be a night to let our hair down, kick off our shoes, and dig our toes in the sand.  No dress code. Swimsuits encouraged. Lounge wear is perfectly acceptable.

We’ll meet down by the pool where some cool mango bellinis will be waiting in chilled glasses.

 Mango Bellinis

1 tbsp fresh mango puree (or mango nectar in a pinch)
4 oz. chilled champagne or proscecco
chilled champagne flute
sliced mango to garnish

Add the mango puree/nectar to the bottom of the flute. Add champagne and stir to combine. Garnish with fruit. Chill out and enjoy.
The second refreshing glass of tropical paradise can be transferred to a plastic cup before we wander down the beach. The balmy ocean breeze blows away all our stresses and we forget about our hectic week, work, and family obligations. Computers are off and the kids are with dad/the sitter. We are officially off duty.

As the sun sets,  tiki torches glow and the pool bar and restaurant start gearing up. We dine poolside, our table overlooking the ocean so close we can nearly dangle our flip-flopped feet in the tide. The reggae band begins to play, a gentle, relaxing groove, and we laugh the night away.

After dinner and perhaps a few more drinks the band starts jamming and it’s time for dancing. Or maybe you may just want to chill in the hot tub. Life is full of tough decisions.

And yes, the indoor/outdoor pool has a swim-up bar (with a rather hunky bartender). This is the good life.

What does every girl’s night need next?  Why some dessert of course. Beside the beach-side fire pit is a buffet set up for grown-up gourmet ‘smores.  Yeah, you read right…

Grown-Up Gourmet ‘Smores go so far beyond just some dry, old graham cracker squares and a Hershey bar.  As we have matured, so have our tastes. Just some ideas to salivate over:

  • Nutella, thinly sliced French bread & marshmallow
  • Sugar cookies, raspberry-filled dark chocolate square, fresh raspberries & marshmallow
  • White chocolate, coconut-covered marshmallow, thin slice of pineapple & shortbread wafers
  • Gingersnaps, marshmallow & caramel-filled chocolate square
  • Peanut butter cookies, dark chocolate & marshmallow
  • Cinnamon graham crackers, Reece’s peanut butter cup & marshmallow
  • Pretzel chips, dark chocolate square with sea salt caramel filling & marshmallow
  • Chocolate wafers, caramel & marshmallow
  • Chocolate wafers, mint filled dark chocolate square & marshmallow
  • Coconut-covered marshmallows, banana, dark-chocolate caramel square & shortbread wafer

Are you drooling yet? Yes, we will be keeping Ghiardelli in business that night. And we will be oh so thankful we are wearing comfy, expandable lounge wear and cover-ups.

We will sit around the fire pit with a marshmallow roasting stick in one hand and an umbrella drink in the other.  After we stuff ourselves with these gourmet delights we can sit back in our Adirondack chairs digesting, watching the moon rise over the ocean, and savoring our escape from our hectic everyday lives.

Since we are hanging by the condo we have a built in crash-pad — no designated drivers and no bedtime. The party will go on until dawn and there is always time for some more dancing…

So when are you coming down to the Sunshine State?

Cheers, Ladies…

Link up at Adventures in Mommyhood or at My Time As Mom now until Sunday, August 28th