Thursday, December 31, 2009

Almond Creek Vineyards Sparkling Wine

Wine: Almond Creek Vineyards Almond Flavored Sparkling Wine
Store: Trader Joe's
Price: $5.99 (or maybe $4.99-the hubs bought 2 bottles but he couldn't remember which was which)

I apparently have never reviewed a sparkling wine on here before...I shouldn't be surprised as we really only drink it on special occasions-tonight's occasion being both New Year's Eve and our 4th wedding anniversary. The hubs made us a lovely salmon dinner, and we enjoyed this wine with it. As with any sparkling wine, it has a lovely effervescence to it. The almond flavoring has just a hint of sweetness to it, but it's definitely more of a meal wine than a dessert wine. It was a great addition to our meal, but I would be apprehensive to use it with any champagne-inspired cocktails (i.e. mimosas).

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Our Trip to Ikea

The hubs and I both have a bit of an obsession with Ikea. He loves the kitchen items they have, and most of the decor and furniture is up his alley, too. We live about 3 hours from one, but his parents live about 45 minutes from. Since we were up there for Christmas, we decided to take a little trip up to Ikea.

Now, we only go one or twice a year, and this time we had a mission to buy a big piece of furniture, so we knew it was going to be an expensive trip. Here are some of the spoils of our visit:

My guest bedroom finally feels complete with my Myken Mirror and Reslig Frame. I'm still not happen with the picture in the needs some adjusting, but I looooove this mirror. It makes me so excited.
We have had issues with a towel rack in our bathroom since we first moved in. We could not get a traditional towel rack to stay in the wall. We found this Grundtal towel rack that the hubs said he might actually use. The bathroom needs a little touch up work where the old rack attempted to hang, but overall, I'm quite happy.
We hated our old, ugly florescent light fixture in the kitchen. A couple months ago (sometime during the summer), the fixture stopped working correctly. We switched out the bulbs, but nothing. When we hung the Kramare light fixture, we could see again! The only problem is that it is a bit skinner than the fixture hole, so I'll be off to Home Depot or Lowes in order to get that covered.
And finally, our piece de resistance. I had been searching for something for to house our massive DVD collection for 2 years now. Nothing I liked would house it all for an agreeable price. So we got one of the Billy Bookcases with the glass doors and two extra shelves. I think it looks great in the room, and I'm love how it stores our DVDs. We have plenty of room to keep expanding, too.

Now if only there were an Ikea closer...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Secret to a Great Margarita

I was over at friends house last night, enjoying some yummy beef fajitas and he made some of the best margaritas ever. I didn't ask his proportions (and I should have), but he revealed his secret-half margarita mix and half limeade. It really made for the sweet and sour combo for the drink. Note to self-I'm going to have to try this in the blender come summer!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Christmas Wish List Revisited

I don't usually make lists, but since I did this year, I thought I'd revisit it. I cannot believe how generous my family was this year. But to start off on a negative note, here's what I didn't get.

A monogrammed wine stopper.
I thought this was a shot in the dark. When I didn't receive it, I thought, "Well, I'll just buy it myself." No such luck. 2 BB&B were sold out of my letter...but I found a really cute one in Wegman's. I was so excited I had to buy one for myself and one for my mother in law.

Elements to go with my Fontanini Nativity scene. They're expensive, but my Nativity is really special to me...I wish I had more pieces, but I guess I'll just have to get them myself.

An Electric Tart Warmer and Yankee Candle Wax Tarts. While I didn't receive any tarts or a tart warmer, my in-laws did give me a yummy French Vanilla Jar Candle. I can retire my tarts for a while in honor of that.

Bath and Body Works Foaming Antibacterial Hand Wash. I'll have to hit Bath and Body works during their semi-annual sale.

LLBean Ultra Absorbent Monogrammed Towel. No towel this year. I guess I'll have to get one myself if I want to make it a pair.

So here's what I did get

Shiatsu Neck Massager.
My aunt got me a Shiatsu pillow, which is fabulous. My neck has really been sore and it's helped it out a lot! My mom got me an actual neck massager, too, so I'm in style this year.

Fuzzy, Comfy Socks. The hubs finally did a stocking for me this year for the first time ever, and he put these in there. Woohoo!

Victoria's Secret Sleepover Flannel Pajamas in Red Stars. The hubs attempted to order these, but they were sold out. *Sigh* I thought I would have to get another style sometime later. Mom came through, though, and while the red ones were sold out, she got me the white ones with blue stars and matching slippers. I'm so excited to put them on tonight.

A Nice Travel Coffee Mug. My cousin's wife drew my name in the Secret Santa Exchange we do, and she got this exact mug, but in emerald green. It's lovely...and she put it together with a basket of Lindt and Ghiradeli chocolates and a sampling of Starbucks hot chocolate. So thoughtful...and yummy.

Wizard of Oz Pez Dispensers. Mom and Dad came through for this one. I was soooooo excited to open these up this morning.

Cuisinart Gourmet Griddler...the hubs and I went ahead and bought this for ourselves. We just couldn't pass up the deal on it. My parents also couldn't pass us the deal either...the one we purchased will be going back to the store

Other Gifts:

The hubster got me a iBook G4. Yes, it is a used old school iBook, but it is actually perfect for what I need. Now I won't have to lug my work computer home and deal with the eccentricities of that any more in my personal life.

The hubs also got me a warming electric throw blanket. I had one a few years ago that got ruined, so I'm so excited to have one again. I'm constantly freezing and love to be bundled up. The hubs knows me well. My parents also got me one, which makes the hubs happy as now we can both curl up in one.

My in-laws were super generous. In addition to the aforementioned candle, they also gave us some cute ornaments, Bath & Body Works Sea Island Cotton Lotion and Body Wash, and a Fossil make up bag along with a gift card to Dunkin Donuts.

My 4 month old nephew gave me a cute magnetic frame that says "I Love My Aunt." But who am I kidding, it was really from my sister. A four month old doesn't do much shopping.

And finally, my parents gave me a cute ornament of a train, in honor of a favorite Christmas song of mine.

I cannot believe how generous my husband and our families were to us. Gifts aside, it has been a spectacular Christmas, and when you add them back in, it was a Christmas waaaaaaaay beyond expectations.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Voulet Antichi Giochi Piemontesi Casorzo

Wine: Voulet Antichi Giochi Piemontesi Casorzo
Store: Found it at the In Laws House
Price:??????? (found for $12.99 online)

"A delicious red Malvasia made to be semi-effervescent and semi-sweet. Great on its own or pairs well with chocolate. This is one of kybecca\'s most popular wines."

This wine tastes like sparkling grape juice with a kick. It is quite smooth drinking. I can't say much about the bouquet as I'm so congested I can't smell anything.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Christmas Morning

My body somehow decided this morning it wanted to be up early, so I here I sit, Christmas Morning, waiting for the hubs to get up so we can go to my sister's house for Breakfast. It has been a fantastic Christmas thus far. We had a great time with my family last night-my grandmother's health was good, my nephew is doing remarkably well, and in general there was a sense of happiness and frivolity.

The hubs and I came home last night and enjoyed Christmas between us. He was extremely thoughtful with his gifts this year, and really seemed to enjoy what I had for him. On top of all that, we really enjoyed each other's company last night.

Today the plan is to go to my sister's for breakfast and be with our nephew for his first Christmas. From there, we will stop and see my grandmother who is in assisted living and then make our way up to his parents house for the next couple of days. We'll get the opportunity to see his grandparents and his uncle who, in our 7 years together, I have never met. We also have plans to go shopping and enjoy Ikea.

In the midst of all this exciting, I'm so thrilled to be able to share it with close family and friends. It is important for me to keep perspective on this Holiday. And while I am a Christian, I think that there is a lot to be taken from this season regardless of what belief system you follow. Love, kindness, and peace are all universal ideas , and I hope that you see examples of them throughout your day, week, even year.

God bless us, everyone.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gift Giving

This morning I was reminded of why we give gifts, even small, seemingly insignificant ones. A teacher I work with is going through a very rough time. Her husband has been going through some quite severe health issues. They thought they had a diagnosis, but now the doctors are not sure. He's dealing with something that appears to be terminal, and they really do not know what is going on.

This weekend, the hubs and I were making some home made fudge and Chex Mix. I was putting together little gift buckets for some friends here at work and decided on a whim to make one for the aforementioned teacher. When I gave it to her this morning, her eyes lit up. She's going through such a hard time right now, something so insignificant as my little bucket of goodies made her day a little better. I'm sure it wasn't the prospect of fudge or Chex mix that made her particularly happy, but the unexpected gesture in such a dark time. I had no idea it would have such an impact, but I'm so glad I did what I could for her.

While I may have made her day a little better, she certainly made my Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Forbes Creek Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine:Forbes Creek Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvigon
Price: Unknown-Gift
Store: Unknown-Gift

"Our 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits aromas and flavors of blackberry, black pepper and tobacco. French and American oak add complexity and motuhfeel. Forbes Creek Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect partner to most red meat dishes." -back of the bottle

This is a smooth drinking red wine. I'm loving it. The bouquet is slightly floral, and the taste has a slight hint of oakiness. It's a full bodied wine, but has a very smooth after taste. I enjoyed this tonight with a burger, while wrapping gifts, watching a little tv...overall, a swell wine.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A bit weak at the knees...

It's been a while my friends...and I'm sorry to inform you that tonight's post has nothing to do with wine or other such alcohol. It has nothing to do with entertaining or my house. It has to do with the sad, sad situation I experienced at school today. It's a bit gross, so if you're faint of heart, stop reading now.

I have never given blood before because I usually have something physical going on.That was not the case today, so I signed up.

I was very nervous when I went in, but that's normal. As they are taking my blood, at some point it switched over from a nervous stomach to be nauseous and light headed. Next thing I knew, I had to vomit. They get this huge bag thing which proceeded to heave into, and start to feel better. I sit there a few more minutes, and realize they are cleaning something off the floor. I'm thinking I didn't realize that I had been that violent with it...but it was blood. They were changing the bag when I got sick, and ended up spilling blood all over the floor.

So I get myself together, go get some juice and snacks...and I start to feel really bad again. A kind nurse asks if I am OK, and I replied, "No." The world was getting dark and all sounds were getting so far away. Two nurses help me back to the "recovery room" which is really a mat on the floor and a partition. I pretty much pass out as they are helping me back there. All I know is the world got very dark, and had they not been helping me I would have ended up flat on the floor.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that students were watching the whole thing as it was a school blood drive?

And the absolute best part is they had to throw my blood as it was contaminated when it spilled. I went through all that for nothing. I will never ever ever give blood voluntarily again.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Christmas Wish List

Christmas seems to keep coming earlier and earlier. I, however, refuse to acknowledge that the Christmas season begins any early than the day after Thanksgiving.The only problem is, frequently at ThanksgivingDinner, everyone wants to know what you want for Christmas. So this year I havebeen putting a little bit of thought into what I would like/need for Christmas. I like to think I'm now armed for whatever price range someone is shopping in.A monogrammed wine stopper. I love them, and they love the wine I drink. $9.99/Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
Elements to go with my Fontanini Nativity scene. We received the Holy family, a set of sheep and an angel as wedding gifts, and I also have a donkey now, too. One day, I hope to have a full set, but these things aren't cheap. At least $20/character. I'd like to have Jeremiah (pictured), Melchior, Balthasar, and Caspar as well as a camel.
Shiatsu Neck Massager. My neck is constantly killing me. I hate those stupid vibrating "massagers," but this one I think would make much more of a difference.HoMedics Neck and Shoulder Shiatsu Massager $24.99 at Target.

An Electric Tart Warmer. I know I've seen these in stores, but I can't find a durn picture online. At any rate, it would be nice to have one and not have to worry about lighting a candle underneath it.

Yankee Candle Wax Tarts. I'm fickle about my scents so this works better for me than a large Jar Candle. And I love most scents.

Fuzzy, Comfy Socks. I would live in these if I could. I don't care what color, but I love these chenille socks. The ones pictured are $5 at Old Navy.

Victoria's Secret Sleepover Flannel Pajamas in Red Stars. I hate spending this much money on PJs, but these are worth it. They come in a long length, which makes me happy and they are super comfy. Besides, I only get a pair every 3 years or so.

A Nice Travel Coffee Mug. This one is nice from Starbucks for $16.95, but really anything that is well insulated will do.

Bath and Body Works Foaming Antibacterial Hand Wash. I love this stuff...makes my hands feel yummy and doesn't leave residue in the sink. $5, but usually on sale at B&BW.
LLBean Ultra Absorbent Monogrammed Towel. I have one of these, and would love to complete the set. $18.95 in cadet blue.

I have an unhealthy Wizard of Oz obsession...and I'm not quite sure what I would do with these pez dispensers, but I desperately want them. $17.99/Target or $19.99/World Market or $15.99/KMart

Cuisinart Gourmet Griddler...the hubs and I have drooled over this for years. You can make paninis, hamburgers, open it up and use it as a griddle....I'm pretty sure it'll even clean your house for you. And it's back on sale at Costco for $89.99.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

So much to be Thankful for...

'Tis the season to be thankful. And on this Thanksgiving Day, I'd like to take a moment to discuss some of the things I'm thankful for.

1. My husband. He drives me crazy from time to time, but seriously, what human doesn't. He loves and respects me, despite all my quirks, and truly enriches my life. It's been a long year for him, but he's on the cusp of something new and exciting, and I truly admire all the work he's doing.

2. My family. I have wonderfully supportive and caring parents, an honest and humorous sister, and a loving extended family. We have had dealt with our share of health issues as family, and as we continue to deal with them, it's good to know we have each other to lean on.

3. My friends. Thankfully, I have friends that are just as cynical and sarcastic as I am. In that cynicism and sarcasm ,though, they've been strong and supportive to me. And without them, I'd never make it through this world.

4. My job. As much as it drives me crazy, I'm lucky to have a job, particularly one in my rather limited area of interest and expertise. And I feel like I'm finally starting to get some of the respect I deserve.

5. My house. I love my house, as "Brady Buch" as it may be. It's beautiful, it's fun, and it keeps the elements away from me.

6. My Pets. Nothing compares to the unconditional love of a dog, except for maybe the random moments your cat decides she really does love you and wants to cuddle. I am fortunate enough to have both.

7. Coffee. And everyone who encounters me first thing in the morning is thankful for this, too.

8. Wine. What a yummy treat.

9. Chocolate. See above.

10. Beautiful Fall Days. There is nothing like the beautiful colors and crisp weather of a fall day. It truly reminds you there is beauty every where.

What are you thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Winking Owl Chardonnay

Wine: Winking Owl Chardonnay

Price: $2.99

Store: Aldi

"Pineapple and citrus fruit with hints of vanilla and oak. Pair with salad, grilled fish and lighter meals. " ~

I was quite pleasantly surprised by this wine. I expected it to be quite acidic and dry. The fruit tones of this are quite pleasing. This is a dry wine for being so fruity in nature, but very easy drinking. It would probably be more enjoyable in the summer, but I am certainly enjoying this tonight.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Follow Up

So last week I challenged myself to get certain things done before Thanksgiving Break begins

Fix the track of the guest bedroom closet
Fix Laundry Closet Door
File Paperwork
Clean up Guest Bedroom closet
Clean wine stain off the ceiling (don't ask)
Put up a towel rack in master bathroom- unfortunately, it's not a "normal" attachment. It's majorly messed up, so I'm having to get a little creative with it.
Clean up yard

Also add to the list:
Clean House
Finish Nephew's Stocking

Doesn't seem like a whole lot, but it's been a really crazy week. We're getting ready for a show right after Thanksgiving, and I've been subbing for people in addition to my typical responsibilities. Needless to say, I have not been home much at all.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Just a week and a half...

I have so much to do around my house, and the first big break of the year coming up-Thanksgiving. The best part is I work this week, have the weekend off, then work two days and have five days off. So if I can just make it through this week, I'll be good to go. Of course, no time off is complete with out a list of things to do. I can guarantee I won't get it all finished, but hopefully with a list, I'll stay focused.

Fix the track of the guest bedroom closet
Fix Laundry Closet Door
File Paperwork
Clean up Guest Bedroom closet
Clean wine stain off the ceiling (don't ask)
Put up a towel rack in master bathroom
Clean up yard

So here we the course of a week and a half, how much of this can I get accomplished?

Allbero 2008 Bobal Rose

Wine: Albero 2008 Bobal Rose
Store:Trader Joe's
Price: $5.99??

"Albero Spanish Bobal variety Rose is produced by Spain's Oldest Estate Bottled Winery. Spain's Finest- proudly made with hand-selected certified Organically Grown Grapes. This Aalbero Bobal Rose is perfect when enjoying with friends or in giving the git of wine. "~back of the bottle

I love the idea of organically grown grapes, but this wine is not for me. It has very little taste to it, but has quite an acidic after taste. It definitely carries much more of a red wine taste rather than the fruitiness of most roses. This is not a wine that I plan to enjoy again.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

James River Cellars Chardonel

Wine:James River Cellars Chardonel
Store: Neptune Wine Festival, website also says it is available at VA ABC stores; ordering is also available on their website.
Price: $14.00

"The quintessential picnic wine. 'Chardonel' grape resulted from the crossing of Seyval and Chardonnay in 1953 at Cornell University. The wine offers an interesting combination of flavors from each parent grape variety. Every vintage year can hold surprises in how those flavors and aromas develop. This vintage is fruity and off-dry, with a provocative spicy banana aroma. Try it with pizza or Asian cuisine."

This wine is more than I usually spend on wines, but it's quite unusual, and very yummy. I think it's the perfect mix of sweet and dry, which just a hint of spice to it. Definitely light enough to be a picnic wine, as described above, but I sit here drinking it in November, and it doesn't feel too light. I'm really enjoying this tonight, and I might help myself to another glass.

Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Party

Halloween is one of my absolute favorite holidays. Usually, though, I have to work, or we have something going on. This year, though, was a bit different. The hubs and I had a morning commitment, but then the rest of the day was free! Woohoo! A major Halloween Party was in the works.

We started with some invitations…I found these at Michael’s for $1 per 8 invitations. I loved them, even though the red and black are not the most traditional Halloween colors. My first thought was that I would find a cool vampire picture to put on the front, playing off the idea of blood with the red. No such luck, but I did find some awesome witch, pumpkin, and cat stickers at Hallmark. I created the inside on through Word, printed them out, plopped some stickers on there, and voila! a lovely invitation.

Next was food. The hubs and I both like to cook…and eat. I wanted our food for the evening, though, to be fun and festive as well as being yummy. Here’s our menu for the evening:

Bat Wings aka Chicken Wings

Monster Toes aka Pigs in a Blanket

Mini Caramel Apples
Eyeballs- Mozzarella Balls with olives

Ghost and Witch Hat Sugar Cookies


Deviled Ham Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Spiderweb and Tombstone Cupcakes

Pumpkin Bread


Chex Party Mix

Drinks Included
Hot Apple
Cider (with rum right next to it for spiking purposes)
Assorted Beer
(including pumpkin)

Assorted Wine (with fun, alternative labels)

Assorted Sodas

In addition to all this, I had intended for all guests to leave with a mini favor bag with some Halloween pretzels and assorted traditional candies, but we had had substantially more trick or treaters this year

Finally, we moved on to décor. My outside decorations can be seen here. Inside, my primary focus was the table. I found this lovely spider web fabric at JoAnn’s, which I placed on top of a white table cloth for our food table. I used some plastic spiders and mice to dress things up a bit. My center piece included two tape candles I found on clearance at Yankee Candle that appear to drip blood. They looked cool at first but then they just got goopy. I also picked up some red roses at Trader Joe's which I intended to spray paint black for an eerie, dead effect, but they looked pretty cool staying red.

We added a lot more spider webs and a cloaked figure to our front porch. We used a cheap strobe light and had a CD playing of creepy sounds. I got a lot of compliments from trick or treaters on how "cool" our yard looked...although a few little ones I greeted at the end of the driveway. They were too afraid to come up!

Overall, it was a great night and we cannot wait to do it

next year!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Williamsburg Winery Governor's White

Wine: Williamsburg Winery Governor's White
Store: Total (although, it's in all the local grocery stores and whatnot)

"A fresh, fruity semi-dry blend, perfect as an aperitif or with light fare. A wine for all seasons, this fruity wine is an excellent complement to seafood as well as ham, and light luncheon fare. Chilled, the wine will also be good company to cajun and other spicy cuisine."

Have I mentioned that I love local wines? Well, for me, you don't get much more local than this. The hubs and I went and toured the winery last spring. It's amazing to see something like this so close to us. We did the basic tasting, which was $8 for the tour, taste 7 different wines, and take home a nifty souvenir glass. It was a lot of fun. This wine I actually fell in love with well before that tasting-a friend recommended it to me for making white sangria (yummy). It's great as sangria, but I also really enjoy drinking it as is.

The description says it's a wine for all seasons, but it is a little light for the winter. (I also prefer reds during the winter, anyway.) It is the perfect combination of fruity-sweetness and dry-ness. It has a nice smooth finish with a slight hint of acidity. The bouquet is not too overwhelming, although I must admit I'm a bit congested right now and not in a good place to really describe it. Overall, this has become my favorite basic white wine.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tomahawk Mill Virginia Apple Wine

Wine: Tomahawk Mill Virginia Apple Wine
Price: ~$10.00
Store: Neptune Festival Wine Fest

"A sweet fruit wine made from crushed apples. Serve with pork, cheese, or dessert."

Such a yummy wine, but I have trouble considering this a wine. It is on the sweet side, but it's much more like a hard apple cider than a wine. There is a slight acidity to the after taste, and the bouquet is all apples. I'd like to try this warm sometime, but, alas, the bottle is finished, and I don't know where I can find this in stores. The website does not list any distributors, and the winery is on the opposite side of the state from me.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ironstone Xpression

Wine: Ironstone Xpression
Price: ??? Gift
Store: Trader Joe's (I think...)
"Xpression has youthful aromas that are reminiscent of fresh picked strawberries and cherries followed by hints of watermelon, peaches and citrus fruits. Made with incredible finesse and balance, this semi-dry wine finishes crisp and clean."

A friend of mine brought this over to enjoy with dinner the other evening. She's a big fan of White Zinfandels, but I find that they are a little on the bland side. Recently, though, we've discovered the joys of rose table wines, and we both like them a lot. Gentle enough for her palette, but enough flavor for mine. This wine does not have much scent to it (or I'm congested and didn't realize it), but it does have a very full flavor. There is a strong fruit presence, but it tends towards the dryer rather sweet side. There is a very mild acidity to it. A very pleasant and enjoyable wine.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rockbridge Jeremiah's

Wine: Rockbridge Vineyards Jeremiah's
Store: Neptune Festival Virginia Wine Festival
Price: $8.99???

"A rose of Concord grapes, this has a lovely fruity bouquet. Drink well-chilled and have fun!"~

Sometime in the middle of September, I went to a Virginia Wine Festival sponsored by the Neptune Festival. It was a fabulous time. At least 20 different vineyards with a variety of samples for a ticket of $25. I love Virginia wines-I love being able to support local vineyards-so this event was right up my alley.

First of all, the name of this wine excites me. It was inspired by 3 Dog Night's "Joy to the World," specifically about "Jeremiah was a Bullfrog" lines. But the wine itself was quite yummy. It's quite a fruity rose table wine. It has a lovely floral bouquet, and this is a very flavorful, fruity taste. Such a great rose wine. I shared this with a friend of mine this evening for dinner and she enjoyed it just as much as I did.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Outdoor Halloween Decorations

For the past few years, I've wanted to add in tombstones outside. Store bought ones just weren't good enough for me-the hubs and I wanted to put our own inscriptions on them. Unfortunately, I do not have a saw, but my wonderful father was kind enough to cut these out of plywood for me and add in some stakes so they would go into the ground a bit easier. I tried spray painting them first, which did not work, but acted as a nice base or primer coat. Then I found the perfect grey exterior paint in the “oops bin” at Home Depot. One quart was a plenty for what I needed, and I was thrilled to only pay $1. So each tombstone received a couple coats, followed by a light coating of Valspar’s Stone Effect spray paint. It gave a nice general effect of stone. Finally, I painted on the names, dates, and quotes from our subjects: Romeo & Juliet, Darth Vader, The Wicked Witch of the West, Mufasa, and Kenny. A random selection, but they worked for us. I also added in two ghosts I found at JoAnn’s. Originally, I was going to make them, but these were cheaper than I could have made them for.

I found these cornstalks at our local farmer’s market, which have been up since the end of September with my scarecrow and pumpkins. I cannot wait to carve the pumpkins for Halloween!

I found these tins at Target in the “Dollar Spot.” They were actually $2.50 each, but they were a heck of a lot cheaper than similar $10 ones I had seen around. The pumpkin lights are also from Target’s “Dollar Spot,” although also $2.50. (Apparently, I have expensive tastes even when it’s coming from the cheap section of the store!)

For Halloween evening, we will add in a strobe light behind the Romeo & Juliet tombstone, a CD with creepy sounds playing from on the front porch, and, of course, carved pumpkins.I'm also hoping that I can finagle a dark, cloaked figure on the bench on our front porch to intimidate trick-or-treaters and party goers.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Blue Fin Pinot Noir

Wine: Blue Fin Pinot Noir
Store: Trader Joe's
Price: $3.99

“Blue Fin Pinot Noir, a new addition to the Blue Fin family, is a vibrant, ruby-colored wine with rich, fresh berry and currant flavors and a velvety smooth finish. This wine is priced at the ridiculously low $3.99 a bottle – a perfect example of our favorite equation: quality + price = value.” ~ Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer

This is a very smooth drinking red wine. Quite possibly my favorite red wine. There are some very subtle hints of berry which gives it the slightest hint of sweetness. There is a slightly acidic after taste, but it's not at all unpleasant. This is a great cheap wine.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Yellow Tail Rose

Wine: Yellow Tail Rose
Price: $4.97
Store: Wegman's

"A refreshing bouquet of ripe strawberries and cherries in this Rose wine. Crisp acidity, finely textured tannins and a sweet, supple finish." ~

Not a bad cheap rose. It is a much bolder, flavorful rose than others in this price range. The fruits are evident, but I don't find it to be quite as acidic as the description might infer. A very smooth drinking wine. I would recommend this wine in particular for novice wine drinkers looking for something with a little more flavor.

Rating 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Twin Fin Pinot Grigio

Wine: Twin Fin Pinot Grigio
Price: $5.96
Store: Wegman's

I bought this because I liked the label on our last trip up to visit the in-laws. It's a nice wine, but not too exciting. There is a slightly floral scent to it, but the taste is laced with acidity. I like it, but it's probably not a wine that I would otherwise seek out.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tequila Rose

Liquor: Tequila Rose
Store: VA ABC
Price: 50 ml $1.10

"The original Tequlia Rose, a passionate combination of strawberry cream liqueur with a splash of tequilia. Adored across the globe for how well it mixes in cocktails, Tequlia Rose is also a great addition to desserts. So, it's no wonder why everyone is falling in love with the Rose...all over again." ~

Yummy....this stuff looks like strawberry milk. It tastes like Strawberry Creme Savers (remember those?). I'm not quite sure how I would mix it in a drink-I've drank it straight up. I also can see where pouring some of this over vanilla ice cream would be quite yummy. Definitely an enjoyable treat.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Oakton Lane Petite Sirah

Wine: Oakton Lane 2009 Paso Robles Petite Sirah
Price: ??? Gift
Store: ???Gift

"Cabernet, Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah are all top-billed stars on the Paso Robles stage. The uninterupted sunshine and dry climate is helping producers create "fruit bombs" out of wine. Anthony Riboli of Maddalena/San Antonio Winery has been working for many years in Paso Robles vineyards, cultivating wines with enormous character and personality like our Oakton Lane Petite Sirah . Deep blue-black intensity of color, spicy ripe flavors and aromas of blueberries arise from this supple, velvet-styled varietal." ~

A friend of mine gave me this wine for my birthday this summer, and I love it! I tend towards shiraz/syrah/sirah, so this was right up my alley. This has a very mild scent, but a very full bodied flavor. I was picking up on hints of something, but wasn't sure what it was. After reading the description, it's definitely the blueberries I was tasting. Very smooth going down and quite enjoyable.

Rating; 4.5 stars out of 5

Sunday, September 6, 2009

ABC's of Me

A -Age: 27
B- Bed Size: Queen
C- Chore you hate: Emptying the dishwasher
D- Dog's Name: Sassy...and our longterm boarder is Rufus. Maybe he'll be going back home in the next couple of weeks.
E- Essential starts to your day: Coffee
F- Favorite Color: Red
G- Gold, Silver, or Platinum: Platinum.
H- Height: 5'10"
I- Instruments you play: None...but I can sing, dance, and act. And we have an organ, oboe, flute, piccolo, violin, trumpet, electric guitar, and acoustic guitar. The hubs plays enough for both of us.
J- job: Teacher.
K- Kids: I have enough at school, I don't need any to come home with me.
L-Living Arrangements: A lovely contemporary 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath home
M- Mom's name: Ann
N- Nicknames: Hopey, Hopes, Hope-ifer, Hope-uls, Action
O- Overnight stay in the hospital other then birth: None for me, but I've stayed overnight with family members before
P- Pet Peeve: There are so many, but the big one is people who don't use the intelligence they have.
Q- Quote from a movie: "Tomorrow is another day." Gone with the Wind
R- Right or Left handed: Right
S- Siblings: Uno...and 5 siblings in law
T- Time you wake up: On my own, usually around 8-8:30, the dogs like me up at 6:30 or 7, and when I work, it's 5:45
U- Underwear: Bikinis and the occasional thong
V- Vegetable you dislike: I've never met a vegetable I didn't like, although brussell sprouts have a strange texture. I can only handle them once in a blue moon.
W- Ways you run late: Can't find my keys
X- X-rays you've had: finger, knee, foot (I think), shoulder, bladder
Y- Yummy food you make: My goal in life is to make the best chocolate chip cookies and macaroni and cheese you've ever had.
Z- Zoo Favorite: It's a tie between Lions and Tigers. Ooooh, and elephants!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Margaritaville Last Mango Margarita

Drink: Margaritaville Last Mango Margarita
Price: $16.00ish (Should have paid more attention)
Store: Virgina ABC

"Take time to make friends instead of drinks with
Margaritaville ready-to-drink margaritas. Enjoy their
smooth and refreshing taste on the rocks or frozen.

Simply pour over ice and Enjoy!

19.9 proof (9.95% alcohol)
Available in two convenient sizes: 750ml and 1.75L"

I love the idea of pre-mixed errors with ratios or having a mixer but no liquor. It's just easier. In reality, though, they're not always what you had hoped. Sometimes too strong, too sweet, too weak, whatever. When the hubs and I were in the local Alcohol Beverage Control Store, we saw this and decided to give it a shot. I decided to mix up a little as an after dinner drink for us tonight.

It was nice-I did enjoy it. Mango-y, with little indication of tequila. I have used the mango flavored margarita mix before, along with the mango tequila, to make great margaritas, and I must admit, I prefer to do it that way. I like my margaritas on the stronger side, and I have more control over that when I mix it myself. In a nut shell, a decent cocktail in a pinch, but it's probably better to get the mix and make your own.