Shenandoah Vineyard Hopping

Visiting CrossKeys Vineyard,  in Mt. Crawford, VA:  https://www.crosskeysvineyards.com/

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#Empty-nesters for the week while our two teenagers are at XC camp-my hubby and I enjoyed some vineyard hopping in the lovely Shenandoah Valley.

CrossKeys Vineyard is a must do: The wine is exceptional, the views are panoramic, and the food is heavenly.

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On the road to a vineyard, I am always hopefully optimistic, although on occasion, the website and the hype do not measure up to the reality. Not so here! Reminiscent of Tuscany, this is an exquisite escape!

We began with some sketchy weather, but it quickly improved!

I highly recommend having one of the cheese plates, and thoroughly enjoyed the all day Sunday brunch menu options. The wines are complex in style and can easily compete with European vintages, especially the Merlot and the Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Our little romantic getaway was complete with a stay in one of the many local B&B’s, but this vineyard has the space and facilities to accommodate large events or would be fun with a group of friends.

Thanks for reading and keep drinking great wine!

 

 

 

Writing Success?

Amazon Top 100 Metaphysical free until 2/20/17 is #28 today!!! Secret Agent of God

How do you measure your success as a writer? Is is solely based on monetary terms? Is it based on numbers? Views? Or rankings? All of this has become very complicated. When I first published my book, I had no idea what I wanted in terms of writing success. Every month, and every year this definition of success keeps changing.

One single factor that remains consistent is that I am always taken by surprise when some form of writing success comes my way. So much for my mastery in marketing!

I actually forgot that I scheduled a book promotion for this weekend. Woops! I was checking the stats of another author, which of course led to checking my own stats, and then…an ah-ha moment.

Link to top 100 page

Incidentally as I write this the book went from #26 to #28! If I don’t write faster it may drop off the list entirely!!! Success no matter how you measure it fleeting.

When I was a “new” writer, I would get very excited about any measure of success. This is as it should be, which makes me wonder, as an “old” writer, am I now jaded or just too busy?

I have been a little busy with a new job, my daughter was home sick, I had a few plumbing disasters. You know, life tends to get in the way of one’s “writing life”.

Another recent discovery (again by accident) was that one of my blog posts from 2014, about buttery chardonnay, is consistently fighting for the top three position against Total Wine and Wine Spectator. What led to the discovery was I kept getting new comments on an old post. I looked at the stats, and realized it had a crazy number of steady views:

Web Results
  1. http://www.totalwine.com/wine/buttery-chardonnay/c/92888977Total Wine and More features the best wine selection with over 8000 wines in stock. Shop Buttery Chardonnay now.

  2. https://eileenslovak.com/2014/04/25/ten-buttery-chardonnays-for-under-20/Apr 25, 2014  Bringing you some feasible Friday fun with numbers…just in time for the weekend ! Actually most of these wines are available for under $15, which is amazing considering the quality. Fans of the buttery, creamy variety will enjoy these ‘Fab Chards’! I like mine fruity, but on the dry side, with hints of vanilla and …

  3. http://www.winespectator.com/drvinny/show/id/47437Wine Spectator’s expert describes malolactic conversion, or ML, which can impart a buttery flavor to Chardonnays or other wines, and suggests ways of finding wines that have this flavor.

It does make me smile, to see that today, I beat out Wine Spectator. But what does this mean? I love that people are finding my post useful. It’s flattering to be google ranked among the big shots of wine for my post. But at the end of the day, most of the people in my everyday life have no idea that I even write. BTW: I use my real name on everything!

Putting “success” in perspective means finding out what it means to me to be successful. I do feel inspired by this “success” enough to make me want work on my new novel today. This equals a positive result.

My goal as a writer has always been to write for the love of writing, to publish just to say I did it, to maybe reach a small audience, to inspire, to make a few connections, and NOT to quit.

The last one is the toughest. Hang in there!

Thanks for reading and keep writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Night Vouvray! Hooray!

Try a little French classic this weekend, Vouvray from the Loire Valley. Crowd pleasing Vouvray is perfect for entertaining. Lovers of both dry, and sweet wine will enjoy this wine. It is a Chenin Blanc, which can vary in sweetness.

This particular bottle of Vignobles Lacheteau was not overly sweet, although some Vouvray can be. It was characteristically deep yellow in color, fruity, and fragrant. I found this one at Trader Joe’s for under $8.00.

I like to serve Vouvray very cold and with appetizers, especially mild french cheeses like honey goat and triple cream brie.

Thank you for reading and keep drinking great white wine!

Friday Night Chardonnay

Manage a Trois Gold California 2015, for under $10.00, is pure buttery deliciousness! This is a fun, rich tasting wine that surprised me with how fabulous it is. The back label copy is spot on!

I give this one three sticks of butter!

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Try it with seafood fettuccine alfredo, or a rich dessert, or just have this wine and call it desert. Yum!

Thanks for reading and keep drinking great wine!

 

Saturday Night Old Vine Zinfandel!

Carnivore Old Vine Zin is the full package: a wine with a catchy name, an attractive label, a rich red color and a medium body all for around $12.00. This is a delightful drinking wine with oak forward and fruit back. Darky fruity, I tasted plum, raspberry and dark cherry.

For cocktail hour try it with substantial cheeses such as an aged cheddar or gruyere. At dinnertime it mixes well with veal, lamb, or spicy food, like Indian cuisine.

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Please let me know how you liked it. Thanks for reading and keep drinking great wine!

Friday Night Chardonnay

Sometimes you have to be daring! Atrevida chardonnay 2014 from the Mendoza Region of Argentina at under$13.00 is subtle, and sophisticated with notes of pear, pineapple, and light oak. I detected an underlying fizz almost prosecco-like, which is not immediately obvious. This dry, mellow chard with low acidity was a pleasant diversion from my standard flavor profile of butter and heavy oak.

I might be guilty of being stuck in a rut when it comes to white wine. I like what I like, and my flavor profile is almost exclusively chardonnay which leans heavily on butter and oak. However, I do like other white wines: Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Blanc de Blanc, Pinot Gris, Prosecco, and sparkling wine.

Sometimes we must leave our safety zone and explore! So tonight, be Atrevida, which means daring in spanish, and try something new!

Thanks for reading and keep drinking great wine!

 

Dog Envy

My sister, a retired kindergarten teacher, recently started a dog walking business. The featured pooch is one of her clients. I imagine it is a very rewarding job. Dogs are always happy to see you, especially if they think they are going out for a W-A-L-K. I envy my sister some days strolling in the open air while I am schlepping to work in the dark.

My neighborhood is perfect for dog walking with its park-like setting, and ample sidewalks. Every day there is a new little puff-ball cuter than the last. Dog owners look so peaceful just following along behind their masters.

Fluffy tails, floppy ears, fuzzy-wuzzy puppy dogs in all shapes and sizes; morning, noon, or night I see them trotting through my neighborhood, walking their owners. Big, small, squatty, tall–I feel the tug on my heartstrings, and I want them all!

Sadly, having a dog is not going to happen in my near future. My life is too hectic and household space is too limited. Half of the time, we cannot even find the cat.

“Where’s Licorice?!?!? Has anyone seen her today?”

“Did you check the closet?”

“How about the dryer?”

Cats like to hide. It is one of their favorite games. Licorice is jet black, so if she has tucked herself under the bed, or if she is lurking in some dark corner, you cannot see her until she opens her eyes. Usually after I spend twenty minutes frantically searching for her, and calling her name, she silently appears, right behind me. It is a little creepy.

Licorice

But she gets me. I wonder if a dog would. She sits on my computer when she wants attention, or grabs my leg when she wants affection. She love bites me when she is tired of being petted, meows when I forget to feed her, and stares at me when her cat box needs changing. Cats are excellent at keeping distracted humans in line.  

Is it true that you are either a cat or a dog person? Can you be both? I think that I have always been a cat person with dog envy. Perhaps I lack the level of commitment required to be a dog a person. All of the dog people who I know treat their dogs like their children.

Dogs seem to be so much more demanding of time and energy than cats do. Cats are amazingly self-sufficient. And then there is dog breath and drool. And there is dog hair that seems to be everywhere.

Cats are very neat. They clean themselves, no bathing required.The short haired variety do not even require brushing. You can leave a bowl of food out for a cat, and she will only eat what she needs.

Adopting a dog is something I will have to work up to doing. I like to think that when I retire I will become a dog owner. But then, I will want to travel more. Will a dog hold me back? Dog people always find a way to take man’s best friend along. They take dog friendly vacations. You see, there is no commitment here!

For now, I am content to covet the dogs of others with my eyes, and to be thankful for my very independent, and somewhat faithful feline. I am simply suffering from a temporary affliction known as dog envy. I am certain it will pass, and that Licorice will never need to find out about it!

Thanks for reading and keep writing!

 

Saturday Night Malbec

Darkly fruity flavor and oak combine to create this smooth Malbec, perfect for sipping slowly on a cool, Autumn evening. I like to taste the wine before I read the label so as not to be influenced. The oak makes its presence known immediately followed by blackberry and dark cherry.

If you have not yet explored Argentinian wines, consider branching out, you will not be disappointed. The Mendoza region of Argentina has the perfect combination of climate, soil and passionate wine makers who are producing world-class wines.

Pair it with Gouda or a spreadable blue cheese. Try it with roast beef and harvest vegetables, or a hearty stew with crusty bread.

Thanks for reading and keep drinking great wine!

Friday Night Chardonnay

Crawford Chard of the week

Hello all! I’m asking you to take your taste buds on a trip to New Zealand with this Friday Night Chardonnay pick, Kim Crawford Chardonnay. This little lovely fits my favorite buttery flavor profile to a T, even though this wine is listed on the Kim Crawford website as unoaked. I know what I have said before, being a slight bit closed-minded on the unoaked subject, but it is my job to venture out and taste wine (oh such a hardship!) that I think you will enjoy.

I found this while on my search for butterscotch flavored wines, and it did not disappoint. I may have to venture out more often to the unoaked side. It is fruity but not overly citrus or acidic. I am adding a new criteria, “butter sticks”. Depending on how buttery I find the chardonnay, I am giving it one, two, or three butter sticks. This wine is worthy of two butter sticks.

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Kim Crawford Chardonnay is highly drinkable and well priced at $14.99. It pairs well with salmon, or shrimp, or a creamy cheese like brie. And if you do try it, please let me know how you liked it!

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Cheers my dears! Thanks for reading and keep drinking great wine!

 

 

Nocturnal Creatures

I am an insomniac, always have been. I credit this with my writer-ly beginnings. As a child, after my sister and I–who shared bunk beds, she in the top bunk and me in the bottom–performed our nightly monster check, she would drift off to sleep, while I laid wide-eyed staring at the springs on the underside of her bunk. Maybe it was because I was the one who did the monster checking while she, the oldest, dictated the course of the search.

“Check the closet!” She commanded.

I obediently crept over to the closet, carefully turned the door handle. It creaked open ever so slowly. Certain that any monsters lurking there would leap out at me if I opened the door too quickly, I used stealth.

“No monsters!” I announced.

“Check under the bed,” she replied.

Now, this was the worst, because everyone knows monsters favor this location. I slid down, and lay on the cold, wooden floor, with my cheek pressed to the floorboards. I reached out with a shaky hand to lift the sheet that covered the dark monster lair.

“Clear!” I reported.

“OK, good. Now, get me my glass of water.” She said.

Having a bossy older sibling gets old fast. Most nights I did as directed because there was hell to pay if I deviated from the plan. But sometimes, I could not help myself. On occasion, I contaminated the water-glass. Once, I put the rubber stopper from the tub in the bottom of the glass. She did not discover it until she got to the bottom. Another time, it was a tiny dab of toothpaste. Truly, I was surprised she did not detect this straight away but, she had after all just brushed, so there was that.

Most nights, while my sister peacefully slept, I lay awake with my mind racing. The single thing that would quiet my mind was creating elaborate bedtime stories where I, of course, was the heroine. I would add new scenes to these tales each night, and the stories would never end.

I still struggle with sleep issues. Only now, if a story enters my mind, I have to start writing it straight away, or else I might forget the important details my nocturnal brain invents. Some of my best writing comes of these sleep deprived nights.

There is peaceful stillness in the single digit morning hours. I have witnessed them all, especially 3am the witching hour. Usually I am alone in my wakefulness in the house, but not alone in nature. Now that the weather has cooled, I love to leave the windows open, enjoying nature’s air conditioning. But living next to the forest has a downside.

Foxes like to play and “yip” at 2am. Last year we had a litter of five fox kits living in the woods behind our house. They played just like puppies, but only after dark.

We loved watching them frolic. Naturally we named them all: Boots, Tippy (she had black tipped ears), Squirt (the runt), Brownie, and Trooper (the leader). By springtime they had grown up and moved on, or so we think. I am not sure which one I hear calling in the night, but I like to imagine it is one of the pack.

Owls prefer to converse at 4am. I woke the other night to hear “hoot-hoot-hoot-hoot,” followed by a distant answering “hoot-hoot-hoot-hoot.” The hooting grew closer as the chat went on. Owl courting, I guess. This is went on until 5am. Someone was playing hard to get.

And I notice that every time I am awake, so is my faithful companion…

licky 2which is just as well, because I need someone to share ideas with, while my spouse soundly sleeps.

It no longer makes sense to try to get back to sleep. I now know the futility of this. Instead, I take these “interruptions” as a sign that there is something I am supposed to be writing about, that my brain does not appreciate the fact that my body is choosing to ignore great thoughts. After all, my brain is in supposed to be in charge. Unlike the monsters who hid under my bed as a child, the monsters that lurk in the corners of my mind are trickier to eradicate. It is best to let them live on the page, and keep them out of my closet, don’t you think?

Thanks for reading and keep writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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