I don’t kill Orchids….

My 1st Orchid

My father was a Professor of Horticulture, but I have a black thumb. My family jokes about my keen ability to kill plants, flowers, and sometimes shrubs. It always ends the same way with me saying: “I just don’t know what happened.”

The innocent plant was fine one day, and then suddenly it wasn’t.

Plants are not really all that complicated. They require water, and a certain amount of sunlight. Somehow, I mange to screw this up, either by over watering, or by under watering, or by allowing too much sun, or too little. So maybe for me, it is not so simple after all. I have had moderate success with a few cactus. But any houseplant unlucky enough, to come and live with me, does not do so for long.

I believe that the quality I lack, and that most plant lovers possess, is patience. You cannot hurry nature. Nature moves at it’s own pace.

A friend of mine grows Orchids. For years I had been in awe of her amazing green thumb, and certain that these exquisite, delicate flowers, were surely beyond the limited nurturing capability of someone like me. Then, a coworker, (who obviously did not know me well), gave me an Orchid as a gift.

I panicked! I tried to give it away, but there were no takers. Then, I read the instructions. I was careful. I treated the flower like the fragile thing I believed it to be. I was diligent. Attentive. Patient.

And it bloomed! Even better it remained in bloom for weeks. I could not believe how simple it was to care for.  I gave it ice cubes, not water. I let it sit in a sunny window. Sometimes, I forgot the ice cubes. This was wintertime, so sometimes the sun stayed away for days. Still, it bloomed! Such a remarkable plant, I thought, that blooms at random times of the year.

And then, one day, this happened:

 

One at a time, the flowers went limp and fell to the floor. I had murdered the beautiful foliage, after all.

I was saddened, but did not have the heart to throw it away. This once living thing had brought me such joy! I let it sit in a corner, on the windowsill. I dropped an ice cube into the pot whenever the spirit moved me. I went on to kill other plants, like Poinsettias, and Easter Lily’s.

Several months later, something miraculous happened. It bloomed! I had brought it back to life…or at least nature had. My new discovery: Orchids go dormant, and then they have a blooming phase. This cycle continues as long as you take care of the plant.

Do not let anyone fool you, if I can grow Orchids, anyone can!

Here are some great resources should you decide to grow an Orchid of your own:

How to Care for Orchids

How to Trigger Reblooming of Your Orchid

Thanks for reading, and keep writing!

Kittens!!!

My daughter and I have been volunteering with HART pet adoption for the last few weeks. It is great fun and the best part is, I get my “kitten therapy”! In between, I am missing these having these little guys in my arms. So sweet! Check out HART (a no kill shelter) if you are interested in adoption, fostering or volunteering.

Ten Buttery Chards (Take 2) Under $5-Under $20

In search of better than butter: butterscotch and bargains!

As promised, this is a follow-up post of buttery chardonnay’s for my butter and oak loving friends. Even better, all but one were under $15.00.

In search of a new buttery top ten, I discovered an even better flavor: butterscotch! In particular, the aptly named Butter 2014 at $13.99 and Bread & Butter 2015 at $11.99 did not disappoint. And Layer Cake 2014 at $10.99 which I expected to be a trendy boutique wine, was actually quite good.

Good chardonnay can be found at great prices! In my bargain buttery chard hunt I discovered the wines of Aldie Supermarket. If you have not tried it, I would suggest stopping in. These little beauties were lovely and affordable: William Wright 2014 at $6.99, Tangled Vines 2014 at $6.99, and Burlwood Cellars 2015 at $4.49!

Finally, the Robert Mondavi Private Selection 2015 at $10.99, Chateau St. Michelle Indian Wells 2015 at $14.49, and Sonoma-Loeb 2015 at $19.99 were all exceptional. At the wine store, I was told that the Sonoma-Loeb Reserve and Envoy are even more buttery, but they did not fit my budget.

Let me know what you think of these wines and I promise to post a new list soon! Happy sipping all!

Life Uncorked: Mastroberardino Historia 2000

 

This weekend my husband, Nick, and I uncorked a bottle of Mastroberdadino Historia 2000, one of the wines we purchased at the Radici Resort and Spa in Mirabella Eclano, when my family visited there in July of 2009. Trust me, it is not often that we have an opportunity to drink a sixteen year old bottle a wine, and one that predates both of our children, Nicholas and Katherine.

The taste: steeped in history, rich, bold, and earthy, took us back in time to what is poistively one of my family’s fondest memories of the three years we spent living in Italy: a weekend at the Radici Spa & Resort.

This Family owned and run Winery has origins dating back to 1878, and is now in very capable hands of Vintner Piero Mastroberardino. We met Piero when we visited the resort back in 2009. The family, staff, and estate were both welcoming and exquisite. The resort encompassed everything we grew to love about Italy: history, fabulous wine, amazing cuisine and people who are passionate about their Italian culture, and want to share the experience with the world.

 

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Radici Resort & Spa

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Kat in front of the Golf Clubhouse at the Radici Resort & Spa

Seven years later, we still reflect fondly on the wine, food and accommodations and our experience that weekend, where we relaxed and dined like movie stars. Tucked away in the hills of Italy’s Campagnia region, this little gem is well worth the trip!

 

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Little golfers

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Pool at the Radici Resort & Spa

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Tee Time at the Radici Resort & Spa

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Rolling Hills of Campagnia http://www.eileenslovak.com

My family and I were thankful to have experienced this amazing place. If you visit, please share your thoughts. Happy touring and tasting all! Thanks for reading!

The wine: http://www.mastroberardino.com/

The resort: http://www.mastroberardino.com/en/radici-resort/

 

 

The Trump and Sanders Phenomenon

How do you begin to explain the current public interest in politics? Is it because the candidates offer more in terms of entertainment value or because they have actually struck a nerve? Are we tuned in just watch their antics or are they tuned in to us for once?

Possibly the most interesting aspect of the political rise of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders is not in the why, but in that fact the Political “experts” still find it so baffling.  In my mind, herein lies the proof of just how out of touch those in Washington, DC truly are with the Country that they presume to govern.

A few years ago, I wrote an article entitled “Voting Rights” which sparked a great deal of debate. Then, I was of the mindset that Americans should not so easily take for granted their right to vote. What I learned from readers was that until they felt better represented by the candidates put forth, they refused to exercise their voting rights. The choice not to vote, spoke volumes.

There was anger in both the Democratic and Republican camps over the same political games and the question was raised that a truer, more in touch with the electorate, third party candidate was needed to shake things up a bit, as both parties were woefully disconnected from their bases. The Republican Party may have been the first to fracture, with the development of the Tea Party and a separate group of conservative right wing voters, but the Democratic Party is not held together well either. The true divide of both is even more evident now; showcased on the current political stage.

Wake up Washington!  Americans are fed up!

Bernie Sanders has answered the mail for Democrats by offering an alternative to career politician Hillary Clinton. For Democratic voters who want anything but the same old politics, Sanders is the new alternative as seen in the Delegate divide. His message is a draw for the changing and divided Democrats. Particularly tuned in are young voters, for whom Sanders presents a more liberal, European,

“free society” platform. He promotes free college education and an anti-war, anti-involvement stance. He has also captured the attention of older voters with his stand on social security. Whether or not these ideals are feasible, voters are responsive to the message. On the contrary, Clinton’s platform looks like more status-quo and four more years of President Obama’s current policies.

On the GOP side, Donald Trump has become the new voice of America. Although he has been called many names: bombastic, demagogue, non-Presidential and worse; none of the name calling and labels have done much to slow his momentum. His ability to speak off the cuff has America listening and taking notice of his focus on the conservative issues now being dismantled by the current administration: immigration, veterans, Second Amendment Rights, foreign policy and health care reform. A vote for Trump is a vote against the establishment and against the current administration.

Meanwhile, there remains an imperial attitude in Washington of: we know what’s best for the people and we’ll decide which candidates you get to chose from.  This way, at least on the surface, it would appear that we have a choice. On the Democratic side, Hillary plans to cinch the nomination by utilizing the super delegates. Proving again that the reason lifetime politicians have always dominated the political process is because they know how to manipulate it and in doing so, the voters.

The undercurrent of a contested convention on the GOP side still looms, echoing of back door politics. Murmurs of an already once defeated, establishment selected candidate like Mitt Romney could still cause an upset to front runner Donald Trump. Has the party literally learned nothing after all of these years? It is hard to imagine any other outcome from a contested convention aside from disgusted voters handing the presidency over to the Democratic Party on a silver platter. I guess in the world of politics, it is possible the Democratic Party alone is responsible for perpetuating these rumors? Or is there some truth to the undercurrent? Is the GOP responsible for floating the idea like a fly to see if anyone bites?

As rumors go, the Republican Party may well be responsible for promoting a Sanders third party run should Hilary finally defeat him in the Democratic primary. A divided party is easy conquest. Republicans know this first hand as their bickering within the party is legendary and has led to past defeat. There may not be a way to mend the fractures of a chasm so deep, leaving the door open for Democrats who historically are more successful at masking their differences.

Of course, it could also be argued that Sanders is hanging on too as he might need to rescue the party should Clinton be convicted in the ongoing FBI investigation into her use of a private e-mail sever and potential misuse of Top Secret information while serving as Secretary of State.

All of this combined makes for hot headlines and a media circus like no other. This is the stuff of good campaigns. So my final question is this: will you be voting in the 2016 Presidential Election, and if not, what reason is there left to give for not voting?

“You see, you give the people what they want, and they’ll come.” – George Jessel

Thanks for reading and keep writing!

Sources:

http://www.businessinsider.com/hillary-clinton-vs-bernie-sanders-on-the-issues-2015-9

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/08/donald-trump-voters/401408/

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/general_election_trump_vs_clinton-5491.html

https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions

http://www.snopes.com/sanders-vs-clinton-delegate-count/

http://dailycaller.com/2016/05/18/lawyers-present-fbi-with-a-dilemma-in-hillary-clinton-email-server-investigation/

http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/12/06/want/

 

Chocolate, Wine & Dying Anyway? May as well enjoy ourselves!

Here’s hoping you enjoyed some red wine and dark chocolate yesterday in honor of St. Valentine’s Day!

I know I did.

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Handmade chocolates wwww.eileenslovak.com

 

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Brunello di Montalcino Casanova di Neri 2006 http://www.eileenslovak.com

Like you, I chose to ignore reports like the the JAMA Network study Resveratrol Levels and All-Cause Mortality in Older Community-Dwelling Adults which indicates there may after all, not be any real health benefits of consuming red wine and dark chocolate.

It was a lovely dream.

Based on this news will chocolate and red wine lovers cease our habits now that these guilty pleasures will not necessarily add years to our lives?

Unlikely.

There are still benefits that extend beyond the mere enjoyment wine and chocolate…like happiness.

The mood elevator Phenylethlamine a naturally occurring amine, best known as the “love drug” produced by our bodies when we fall in love is also found in chocolate. Some researchers say that if you crave chocolate or any other food, you may merely be deficient in one or more nutrients, vitamins or minerals like magnesium.

You could resolve this issue in the case of magnesium by eating seeds/nuts, green leafy vegetables or by taking a supplement. There is no need to turn to chocolate.

Do we drink red wine for its health benefits such as the presence of Polyphenols, U.S. National Library of Medicine as antioxidants? Or do we drink it because we like it and it makes us happy?

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My hubby in Tuscany! http://www.eileenslovak.com

My family lived in Italy for three years. Over which time we spent many a weekend in the Chianti region, where the JAMA study was conducted.

Should we stop visiting wineries and frequenting chocolate festivals because these lovely tangibles have reverted to mere vices and are therefore unhealthy?

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Nick and Kat at Villa Matilde in Cellole, Italy http://www.eileenslovak.com

Link to Villa Matilde

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Chocolate Festival in Teano, Italy http://www.eileenslovak.com

After three years of traveling throughout Italy, I can verify by my own experience, the inherent joy of the Italian people. What I cannot do is prove that red wine and chocolate are the reasons for this happiness. It is a good theory, and one that scientists may consider for their next study.

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Me in Tuscany!!!! http://www.eileenslovak.com

Until then, cheers with chocolate on top!

Thanks for reading and keep writing!

Link to my E-Book!