Tag Archives: Wine

We’re Back, and Better Than Ever!

23 Apr

Oh, and when I say we’re back, I do mean we. A’s officially done with tax season, and he’s promised me that he’ll be putting his foot down about working crazy hours on the projects he has coming up. He’s planning on being home at four all this week, and I couldn’t be happier. I always know that having him home will be a huge relief, but I forget the feeling of peace and all being right with the world until it happens.

Per usual we made our annual trek down to the ever-gorgeous Carmel-by-the-sea (it’s not a town, it’s a lifestyle), with one small change. Make that two small changes. We took our doggies with us! Something I’ve wanted since we got Logan almost three years ago. We had a great time, the four of us. We discovered that Martigan – the newest – likes to show bigger dogs that he can still act tough even though he’s on a leash (something to work on) and doesn’t like when I leave him. Not to the point of being annoying, but he would whine and do his ‘talking bark’ very softly whenever I walked away to get us coffees or go into a shop. A and I have never been out in public with him other than taking the dogs for a walk, so this attachment was a new revelation. I would be lying if I didn’t say it melted my heart a little bit.

I thought about doing another One Day picture story, and then thought “meh.” Why spend a perfectly lazy weekend with my man worrying about a photo per hour. So instead a took a picture when I thought about it. If it looks like we read a lot, ate a lot, and drank a lot, that’s because we did.

my handsome man, it's so good to have you back!

a great start to the day...at 11am.

my littlest dog learned the fine art of waiting under tables while his owners were being boring.

logan, our sunshine boy, found patches of light to lie in wherever possible.

trying wines at one of our favorite garden hangouts. the dogs weren't impressed with the vintages, but loved the all-natural seaweed treats their sweet staff offered them.

can you see the relief? the peace? yeah, we can too.

It’s good to be back, I’ve missed you all! How was your weekend?

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My New Everyday Pinot

23 Jan

I love pinot noir. It’s fruity, yet dry. Juicy, but cleansing. Flavorful, but not overpowering. I also love my local Whole Foods’ sommelier. Every time I walk in and am looking for the perfect wine to match my newly crafted attempt at cuisine, she’s there with a rocking recommendation that fits my budget. The other day I walked in, requesting an affordable wine (under $15 for me) that would compliment scallops and steak. She suggested this:

Fat Cat Pinot Noir, from Fat Cat Cellers in Napa, California. $7.99 at Whole Foods.

To quote my new sommelier bff: “It goes great with everything…fish, beef, watching tv on my couch with my cat…” I’ve taken this to two dinner parties, one home group meeting/impromptu cheese tasting, and one gift exchange, and it has never failed to please. I am constantly in search of a good wine that drinks just as well on it’s own as it does with food at a everyday wine price-range, and this definitely fits the bill. I just found out that they make a lot more wines than just a pinot, and I can’t wait to try the whole Fat Cat family!

An Excercise in Intentionality

16 Jan

Scene – Thursday night:
A’s first day back to work after a week off. Unbeknownst to me he is mad stressed out, realizing that the work he thought he had a few weeks of grace to finish is due, like, yesterday. Coincidentally, this is the night I decide to implement my long-awaited plan to live intentionally by increasing our intimacy and enjoyment of the time we spend together over dinner. My plan was three-fold:

1. Taking the suggestion of a featured chef in Runner’s World to take time to savor a glass of wine with a light snack – in this case spiced nuts – before dinner.
2. Heat dinner – in this case yummy leftover carrot ginger miso soup with pain de levain and butter – while we enjoy wine and snacks.
3. End with a tasting of good cheese – in this case a 5-year aged gouda from whole foods ($3.62 for 5 oz.) with rosemary flatbread crackers – as a dessert alternative to finish the meal on a decadent and satisfactory note.

I felt this plan was very French; spread the enjoyment of a meal over a longer period of time, eat less because you’re less ravenous, and reap the benefits of an evening filled with good food and conversation instead of spending another night rushing through dinner before watching the newest episode of Biggest Loser.

Act 1 – my car, between school campuses. I dial A on my cell. Split screen to show conversation.

Me: “Hi sweetie! How’s your day?”

A: “Fine. Busy.”

Me: “Oh, sorry. I won’t keep you then. I just wanted to let you know I had an idea. Tonight we are going to do an experiment to increase our intimacy and enjoyment of dinner!”

A: “…..”

Me: “Honey?”

A: “I’m here. That sounds…nice…”

Me: (Not sensing the tone) “Great! It’s going to be really good, honey, trust me.”

A: “Ok…I’m going to try and work out when I get home, so I’ll be later for dinner.”

Me: “That’s fine! We’ll make it work. I love you.”

A: “Loveyoubye.” (click)

Now, for the uninitiated, A gets pretty hungry after a workout. I briefly thought about putting off my experiment since A tends to come in from workouts hungry as a bear and lingering over a glass of wine and a bowl of nuts just might not cut it. However, I decided to trust in A’s love of snacking to get him through and get on with the plan.

Scene – Our living room.
A comes in sweaty after a workout. He asks me if he can shower before we sit down to eat (yes, please!) and heads off to get clean. I insist he eats a banana before he showers to ward of the hungry bear effect, which he does. While he’s scrubbing up I set out a small bowl of spiced nuts, two glasses of a yummy pinot grigio, and put the Feist station on Pandora. (I told you I was obsessed. It’s the perfect soundtrack: mellow, yet interesting with a touch of whimsy music for an intimate evening in.) A gets out of the shower and dutifully asks if he can put a load in the laundry before sitting down.

Fast forward 30 minutes:
A and are sitting in the Talking Chairs, feet up, wine in hand. Our glasses are mostly empty, and the nuts have done their job. A’s shoulders aren’t hunched with tension as they were when he came through the door. We talk about our day and share anecdotes and thoughts we’d had that would interest the other. Just before I get up to take the bread out of the oven, A heaves a deep sigh and says “you know wife, I was sceptical about this ‘intentional night’ of yours, but this is really nice. I was stressed out today, but now I feel  a lot better.”

We start dinner, nothing special since it’s leftovers, and a funny thing happens. Since we’d already talked about our days, we get to talk about other things. Goals, dreams, plans for keeping our spiritual intimacy while A’s going the rigors of tax season. Thanks to the pre-dinner wine and snack we’re not ravenously chowing down our food as we usually would – we’re tasting, savoring, and enjoying both our time together and the conversation that’s flowing like honeyed wine between us. Adele, The Postal Service, and, of course, Feist is playing in the background, adding to our mellowness.

I clear the plates, put away the leftovers (both usually A’s job since I ‘cooked’, but I was feeling very mellow and loving towards A.) and set out the gouda and crackers. We both have three small satisfying bites (even though there is much more cheese to be had) and declare ourselves sated. A gives me a more in-depth view of how stressed out he’s been all day. He tells me that the workout helped, but coming home to this purposefully relaxed evening really undid his tension.

The Difference:
Usually we rush through dinner, or even eat it in front of the tv, then watch different shows to unwind before ultimately getting tired enough to go to bed. That night A suggested that after dinner we just read together on the couch for awhile. He didn’t say it, but I knew what he meant: he didn’t want to break the tranquility of our evening with canned laugh tracks and a contrived plotline. So we curled up on the couch with our two lazy dogs and read. After awhile A got up to change the laundry and do the dishes without me having to ask, with a smile on his face and relaxed shoulders. All in all, the night turned out better than I’d hoped.

It wasn’t my intention to de-stress my husband (mostly because I didn’t know when I planned this that he was stressed), but I feel my intentional evening did exactly what I wanted it to:

– Brought us closer together emotionally and spiritually.
– Created an environment of intentional enjoyment, of each other and of the food God has provided.
– Gave A a respite from his day.

Now before you think I’m all pie in the sky, I’m a realist. I know we’re not going to be able to do this every night. But on the nights we’re home with enough time to sit down to dinner, I want to work on making a habit of taking it slowly, enjoying our food, our evening, and each other. This is especially important since A’s heading into the worst tax season he’s seen in his career.

I figure I’ll continue with my experiment for the next two weeks – a good trial period to see if the wine-before-dinner-cheese-after thing can be sustainably successful – but if Thursday night is any indication, we are well on our way to making 2012 a year of intentionally enjoying each other.

And we didn’t even miss the tv.

Friday Five – A Week in Gratitude: Frugality, Food, Free Time, and Fire

13 Jan

Five things from this week that I’m grateful for:

freshly baked cookies await upon check in

1. (Frugal) Time Away With My Husband

A few weeks ago A called me at work, saying he got an email from one of our favorite Inns in Carmel offering rooms at 60% off. He asked if I’d like to go away for a weekend before tax season got started. My response? “Are you kidding me?!? Of course I want to go! How soon can we get a room?”

a little wine, sipped in a garden, with an artisinal cheese plate at georis

2. Good Food and Good Wine

We go to Carmel a lot, so this trip we wanted to do something different. It was unseasonably sunny and warm (mid-60’s all weekend) so we decided to explore Carmel Valley instead of doing our usual downtown/beach routine. We sampled offerings from local wineries and ate an amazing lunch crafted to pair with the wines in the area. Food in Carmel never disappoints, and I am always grateful to God that not only are we so richly blessed to have food to eat, but that it’s good food, our choice of food, prepared with care.

see that sink on the right? next to the microwave? saved our lives

3. An Opportunely Placed Sink

Our last night at the Inn, we decided to have a classic Aylesworth night in after dinner and enjoy champagne and popcorn while watching a movie. Except the microwave was faulty. And burned our popcorn. And when I say burned, I mean burned, as in caught fire. Thank the Lord I was standing right there and saw the bag ignite. I had a split second’s hesitation of “holy crap, what do I do?!?”  before I glanced down and remembered that because we were in the deluxe suite there was a deep metal sink right next to the microwave. One faucet blast later and we were staring down in shock at the charred, soggy mess that was our popcorn. We chose to use the stove to pop the corn after that.

buy local, eat local

4. Living in California, Where Good Local Produce is Always Available

While we were driving to Carmel Valley from Carmel-By-the-Sea (yes, it’s actually named that. Because it’s not a place, it’s a lifestyle.) we drove past a lot of farm land. As we came upon a sign for one of the farms, A and I pointed to it at the same time, because we recognized the logo as our preferred brand of leafy greens for salads. I try to buy local as much as possible, so I’d known that this farm was near our hometown, but actually seeing the sign pop up on our weekend getaway made it all so much more real. Not only does my food not have to make the trek across state lines, (using up fuel, oil, and being harvested prematurely so that it will survive the trip) but when I buy from this company I’m putting money back into the pockets on people in a community I love. It was a great reminder of the importance of buying locally, and a wonderful edification of my goal to live intentionally this year. I’m so grateful that it’s so easy to buy local in California, where we can grow fruits and veggies year round because our state freakin’ rocks.

give us a place by the sea, and we'll be happy

5. A Well-rested Hubby

A is an accountant. He works very hard all year round, but never more so than between January and April. Those months take the work load from steady to extreme. This year, he’s been working near-tax season hours since October, and it’s been really tough on him and on us. Right before he got the offer from the Inn in Carmel, he decided that despite the work piling up, despite the busyness, despite the crazy pace he and his co-workers were keeping, he was going to take the first week in January off. He’s taken some time to rest and renew, sleep in, gotten some housework done (but not too much!) and spent a lot of time conquering the universe on his games. He’s taken care of dinner the last few nights, letting me have time to fit in a run, and turned into the extra-wife-pampering husband he always becomes when he has some time off. I’m so grateful he has a job, especially one that recognizes the value of rest and let him get away before he burned out.

What are you grateful for today?

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