Friday Night White…

2019 The Calling Chardonnay

In a word…yum! We enjoyed this on a rare evening out for two. Buttery, creamy, and dreamy. Every time I try a new wine from the Russian River Valley I have only one question: when are we going?

The Calling Chardonnay, Dutton Ranch average price ranges from $25-$30.00 and is worth every penny.

Happy weekend all! Go enjoy some great wine!

Losing it! Shedding the Pandemic 15!

“There are no small victories, only victories!” – E. Slovak

The Covid years will be another timeline marker burned into our personal histories for all time. Much like 9/11/01, we will forever mark time with “that was before the pandemic”, “during the pandemic“, and hopefully soon, “after the pandemic”.

We have been trapped in a two year depression. Each of us handled this in our own way, perhaps with excess alcohol consumption, take out food, or a myriad of overindulges combined with inactivity which ultimately led to excess weight gain.

The average pandemic weight gain totals ranged from 15 to 30 pounds! Yikes!

Now begins the challenges of the post apocalyptic awaking that reveals we’ve really let ourselves go and it’s time to get back to normal and back in shape!

I can do it!

How do you reverse a lagging metabolism?

I decided to take a multi stepped approach to tackling this demon, and labeled them 1a, 1b, etc. because I’m not sure any one part is more important than the others.

#1a.) The first step was repairing my damaged psyche. I had to remove the phrase, “I don’t care,” from my thought process. I do care. I have to care. My health and longevity depends on this. It does matter not just how I look but how I feel. Replacing negative thoughts with positive affirmations was the first step toward prolonged health and getting off the couch. Without this any weight loss plan is doomed to failure.

“I can’t change anyone else’s thoughts or actions, but I can change mine.” – E. Slovak

At first the affirmations seemed silly and all I could think of was that old Stuart Smalley sketch from Saturday Night Live. But it really helps! Sometimes I write one down on a scrap of paper and just keep it in my pocket.

Stuart Smalley from SNL

1b.) Like many of you, I had added a walking routine to my daily habits during the Covid years mainly just to get out of the house and to avoid going stir crazy. Walking helped a little, but I still felt like a post pandemic creature called a Blobfish!

Blobfish – http://www.Smithsonianmag.com

In February I decided walking wasn’t doing enough to jumpstart my metabolism, so I had my treadmill repaired, and started running again. The process of making the shift from walking to running is slow, but a mix of walk/run workouts helped.

“In the battle of the bulge, I need to emerge as a champion.” – E. Slovak

Between working full time, having a family, running a household, and writing part time, it was hard to find ‘me time’. I also had to prioritize my workouts. Working out had to become as essential to me as brushing my teeth or showering every day and doing so without guilt!

“It’s not selfish to put my health first, it’s necessary for my well being and for my ability to care for others.” – E. Slovak

I got this watch for Christmas and I like how there’s a little celebration when I hit my daily steps goal. Yay me!

I’d been a runner for 30 years before a surgery a few years ago made running so difficult that I gave it up for walking. I know people who have great success maintaining their weight through walking, but it never gave me the same benefits as running. I missed that ‘runners high’ and the feeling of good exhaustion and the post workout buzz that came from running.

“Giving up us for losers, and I intend to win!” – E. Slovak

My physical therapist had recommended a couch to 5k plan, which helped ease me back into running without as much risk of injury.

And so it began. I also added crunches using an exercise ball, and squats with weights on my shoulders. Then, I added free weights to my routine to tone up my arms.

The weight room, it only works if you use it!

My goal in April or May is to start running 5Ks again like I used to a few years ago just for fun and motivation.

Medal from a 1/2 Marathon I ran from Ostia to Roma!

The best part of pushing myself to get fit again is that my mood has improved tremendously and my appetite has decreased substantially. I’ll be honest though, the weight loss has been slow. I’m only down about 5 pounds so far, but I’m toning and feel fantastic.

I’m also not allowing myself to get hung up on the scale, focusing instead on how I feel and how my clothes fit. I try to only weigh in once a week.

Weight is just a number!

“Strength and tone are my sexy super powers on this plan!” – E. Slovak

The great thing about the human body is once you start taking better care of it, your body will react accordingly, and crave healthier food and water.

1c.) Water has been a huge part of this new routine. I carry around a large tumbler and continuously refill throughout the day. Even though I’ve always known the health benefits of water, keeping my body properly hydrated remains a challenge.

I was in a bad habit of starting the day with coffee, and then sipping on Diet Coke in the afternoon, ending the day with wine in the evening. All the while telling myself that I drank water at some point during the day, but did I? Starting a good habit is just as important as stopping a bad one.

Think of it this way, if my body was a car, I wouldn’t put garbage in the fuel tank and neglect the oil. If I did, It would quickly break down. Food is my fuel and water is what keeps my gears moving, my joints and muscles. It keeps my blood flowing, and makes my skin healthy and vibrant.

1d.) Alcohol, can severely derail weight loss efforts not only due to its sugar content and the ensuing food cravings that come with imbibing, but as a result of the extra workout alcohol causes for the liver, the bodies fat burning organ. Even a weekend drinking habit can lead to a rollover coaster weight loss and gain cycle. Choosing to abstain and practice a “dry month” can help weight loss efforts tremendously.

As much as I adore wine, but I decided to give it up for lent, which is closer to six weeks than a month. The trifecta of mental fitness, physical fitness and spiritual fitness makes me feel that I can accomplish anything! So far I feel great, have been sleeping much better, have more energy and feel more clear headed.

Your wine blogging author!

“Sobriety on this plan is my other superpower.” – E. Slovak

1e.) All of this helps, but ultimately diet has the greatest impact on weight. My diet was not terrible to begin with, but I’ve added more vegetable’s and lean meat, and less sugar, fat and carbohydrates. Most importantly, this is a lifestyle change, not a diet, and remembering my daily affirmations helps when I feel my resolve start to wane.

Super salad #1!

“Food is neither a reward, a punishment, nor a drug, but rather it is fuel my body needs to run!” – E. Slovak

Super salad #2!

I hope this post has helped some of you stay motivated in your weight loss and health improvement efforts. Feel free to share your tips and comments!

“I don’t ever want to be pitied, I strive to be an inspiration.” – E. Slovak

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322296

https://www.runnersworld.com/uk/training/5km/a760067/six-week-beginner-5k-schedule/

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2021/10/did-we-really-gain-weight-during-the-pandemic/#:~:text=As%20it%20turns%20out%2C%2039,percent%20gaining%20over%2027.5%20pounds.

https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/quarantine-15-weight-gain-pandemic#:~:text=%E2%80%9CAnecdotally%2C%20we%20are,who%20struggle%20with%20weight.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/in-defense-of-the-blobfish-why-the-worlds-ugliest-animal-isnt-as-ugly-as-you-think-it-is-6676336/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324079

Friday Night White Wine – 2018 Golden Gate Cellars Chardonnay

Golden Gate Cellars Chardonnay 2018 Carneros Reserve

Thank goodness for Bill the wine expert at Wegmans or I might have missed this one due to its sedate, unassuming label. Bill promised the wine was reminiscent of Rombauer, one of my all time favorites, and since I adore the Caneros Chardonnays, into my cart it went.

This reserve bottle at $29.99 was as smooth as butter and luxuriously mellow with subtle stone fruits.

Golden Gate Cellars offers a Sonoma Coast Chardonnay at $19.99 and a California Chardonnay at $9.99 both of which I plan to sample soon.

Golden Gate Cellars 2018 Reserve Chardonnay Carneros back label
Cheese Plate by yours truly, featuring herbed goat cheese, dried cherries, creamy Havarti, sliced Sopresseta, almonds and Gala apple slices!

We enjoyed our Golden Gate with a savory cheese plate. Here’s a toast to finding brand new loves! 😍🥰😘

Happy weekend all!

Friday Night White Wine – 2020 Grand Silex Sauvignon Blanc

2020 Grand Silex Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley

2020 Grand Silex Sauvignon Blanc – back label

This is a lovely little French dream of sunlight and lemony aroma and taste. It’s priced around $14.99 and would be excellent paired with brunch or a lite lunch of seafood or salad nicoise!

If you try it enjoy!

Friday Night White Wine

2020 Paua Rock Sauvignon Blanc
from New Zealand

Enjoying a glass of this wine is like drinking a lovely bouquet of flowers that is effervescent on the tongue, with lemony overtones.

Technicolor Roses!

I discovered this little beauty during a trip to to Wegmans thanks to Bill the wine expert on staff. Bill was right! This wine is terrific at the reasonable price of $10.99.

If you have a Wegmans near you check out the wine selection. You will be amazed what they have to offer and at superb prices.

It’s Friday people! Go out and get yourselves some weekend wine!

Cozy Snow Daze!

Ten great reasons to stay inside where it’s cozy and warm!

Baby It’s Cold Outside!
First Snow Storm of 2022 in Northern Virginia
Breakfast cookies and hot cocoa with mini marshmallows AND whipped cream!

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/breakfast-cookies-3864548.amp
Nap Time! photo by Katherine Slovak
We didn’t have a white Christmas, but were having a white New Years, so we’ll take it!
Cozy comfort food!
Gooey grilled cheese and tomato soup, yum!
Not quite ready to un-decorate…
A great day for a roast!
Cheers to 2022!

Happy New Year all!

Advent Calendar Brilliance!

Wine and cheese!

Wine Advent Calendar from Lidl

This year we were lucky enough to snag one of these wine advent calendars from Lidl. They fly off the shelf just as soon as then become available. At around $60.00 for the box, we hoped for the best. So far, so good.

There are 24 mini wine bottles behind each snowflake!
Cheese Advent Calendar from Lidl

Also a Lidl best seller is the clever Ilchester cheese advent calendar and what better to go with wine? The cheese advent calendar (in the refrigerator section of course) costs around $14.00.

December 1st:

Tonight’s pairing was a mini bottle of Chardonnay (equal to one large glass or two small ones for sharing) and a lovely English sharp cheddar. I would really like to know more about this wine and the cheese because both were terrific and fabulous together! The wine was just as the mini label stated, buttery, pear, Meyer lemon and vanilla.

Cheers to twenty-three more days of wonderful surprises to come!

Happy Advent all!

Turkey Day Wine!

Looking for a great bottle to pair with the bird? Really anything goes, but for this very American meal, I like European wine best.

The traditional rich flavors of the Thanksgiving feast need a high acidity wine for balance. Try French, German, or Italian white wines or even lighter reds for a better pairing. This makes perfect sense if you think about the liberal use of butter and cream in French, German and Northern Italian food.

If you’re undecided, sparkling is an excellent choice and the bubbles will help aid with digestion.

We began the day with a Cremant De Bourgogne, or what I like to call affordable French champagne.

For more options, let me take you to the cellar!

German Riesling

German Riesling is fruity and often sweet but not always. Look for a dry variety if you prefer less sweetness. Riesling also has a little fizz, and is an excellent option for guests who are not big wine drinkers but like to have a glass on special occasions.

Pinot Grigio from Italy
Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand

In my house we serve the turkey with a sausage stuffing, so light reds, or rose also pair well.

Rose from the Loire Valley
Pinot Noir from France

If you are strictly a red wine drinker, I can’t think of a better meal to enjoy with Pinot Noir. I usually prefer rich reds like an Old Vine Zinfandel or a Merlot, just not today. The wine should not compete with the main event: turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin, or pecan pie, and all of the fixings.

Pecan Pie

Have a Happy Thanksgiving all, and I hope you are enjoying yours with family and friends this year!

Gotta Love Google!

Funny story…well only if you’re not me!

Soooo in the early 2000’s I left my executive position in manufacturing firm to raise a family.

I had this 401(k) money to rollover. I did some research and I asked my husband for some advice. I decide to invest some of the money in mutual funds and I picked a few stocks that I thought were interesting…this was 2004…and I picked Starbucks and Google.

At the time I had a fair amount to invest. I wasn’t planning to invest all of the money in one stock, but I planned on investing about $5,000 in one of these stocks.

My husband said “this Google seems very risky, Starbucks seems to more reliable”.

I bought $5,000 worth of Starbucks shares. It was under $20 per share and is valued today at $113 per share.

Starbucks did okay. The stock split. The earnings were good. Solid. Reliable. My husband was right about that.

Now let’s just pretend I put the money in Google. In 2004 it was valued at $85 a a share. The stock had just gone public. Google is currently valued at around $3k per share, then there are stock splits and incremental gains to consider. But just doing basic math, I would have purchased about 59 shares. Those shares would be worth around $177K today.

I guess the moral of this post is…listen to your gut! If there is one thing that has always been true and has never steered me wrong it is this.

Now maybe being wealthy is simply not my fate. I’ve had many a ‘brush’ with wealth and fame only to land smack on the other side broke and without recognition. So I think this is true. It simply was not in the cards for me.

But Google has brought me some karmic gifts. I write these wine posts and miraculously Google loves my top ten wine posts!

Google Buttery Chardonnay under $20 and my post from 2014 is still well ranked.

In the Google search “Buttery Chardonnay under $15” the same post pops up!

My new post “Buttery Chardonnay for under $10” is making Google headway.

In these Google searches my ‘top ten’ wine posts are often top ten in the search engine so that’s something isn’t it? Who needs $180K, right???

Finally, I was getting ready to update my wine bottle photos from the 2014 Buttery Chardonnay under $20 post because the current photo quality with the new phones is far superior, but Google images searches show these photos are ranking so now I don’t dare!

How do you measure success? This remains the eternal question. Whatsoever your definition, I hope you find it!

Qupe White Wine Review

Enjoying a pleasant Saturday lunch at Vino Bistro

Qupe Chardonnay

Last Saturday my husband and I discovered a new place which is always fun. New to us, I mean. It’s called Vino Bistro which is located in Leesburg, VA. If you live in Northern Virginia you should check it out. It has extensive outdoor space complete with a fire pit and festive lighting. If you are far, far away from Virginia, I highly recommend finding a wine bar or vineyard near you for a short weekend escape. You deserve it!

Vino Bistro in Leesburg, VA https://www.vinobistroonline.com

It was extremely quiet for a Saturday, partly due to the residual effects of COVID19 which have left this fairly new shopping center with several empty retail spaces. We have also had some recent bomb threats in Northern Virginia targeted at shopping and strip malls in the area.

So what were we doing out? My post COVID attitude is that life is for living, and that means not living in fear. We had the whole place to ourselves and felt like celebrities! When my number is called, I hope I have a glass of wine in my hand!

The Bar at Vino Bistro

I was particularly impressed by this expansive wall of wine!

Wow! A wall of wine!

Our server recommend a few wines based on our taste and we selected Qupe (pronounced kyoo-pay) 2018 from Santa Barbara County at $45.00. I did some quick research and you can purchase this wine at various wine wholesale or retail outlets for between $18.00 and $28.00.

It has a pale, golden color, and is light, with medium body, and a clean finish. I tasted oak, lemon, almond, and crisp green apple. It paired well with the fabulous cheese plate we ordered.

Cheese plate from Vino Bistro: Sweet Hill, Camembert, La Caseria Carpenado, Point Reyes, Bleu Cheese, and Grafton, Clothbound
Cheers!

If you try Qupe please share your thoughts. Happy weekend all and I hope you live life fearlessly!