September 6th, 2010

“What is the definition of a good wine? It should start and end with a smile.”

~William Sokolin Bell

What goes with great wine?

Great music of course!

One of the items on my wish list was to attend the ‘Nashville in Napa’ charity event. While researching the Napa/Sonoma area and the different things going on, I came across the site and, because I love music, thought it would be an awesome thing to do. Luckily, our timing was perfect. This once a year charity event to promote childrens music education was happening the second night we there.

I showed it to GW who thought it might be fun and we put it on the wish list. I knew P loved music also (you should see his music and video collection!) so he and his wife, T, agreed to go. A and D had already made plans to be back in San Francisco that night to attend an art showing of the artist, Storm Thorgerson, who was responsible for all of Pink Floyd’s album cover art so they headed back to the city to the art gallery.

First of all, Debi Calli, the General Manager of the Baldacci Vineyards was a hoot to talk to. She was so funny and informative and the night ended up being everything she promised. Songwriters, winemakers and chefs joined together for a night of music, wine, and food to support the arts.

We arrived at the vineyards where everything but the entertainment was held under the stars. Waiters serving heavy hor dourves wound their way through the crowd serving things like these delicious veggie shooters. A piece of mozzarella cheese and a cherry tomato in some kind of liquid that was quite tasty. I honestly couldn’t decide if the liquid contained any alcohol or not, but didn’t really care. Would love that recipe, though. Different tables of wine were set up for tasting and we made the rounds. I am discovering that I favor the sweet white wine.

Soon, it was time for the show and we entered a cave that is carved out of the hillside. Cool air and soft lighting set the ambiance as we were treated to an hour of music from songwriters like Don Sampson (Waitin on a Woman, Achey Breaky Heart to name just a few), Joe “Moose’ Brown (Five O’clock Somewhere) and Tony Lane (I Need You, Letters from Home).

After the performance, we went back outside and had a meal of roast pig, lobster, and tons of trimmings and, of course, more wine. There was some kind of a salad/slaw that was awesome. It was a ‘stand up’ meal, which means tall bar type tables were scattered around which ended up being a lot of fun so we stood and ate and drank and mingled and got to meet some really neat people including one guy and his fiance. He was an editor (or was it publisher?) of a wine magazine and being from the area, was able to share some stories and make a few suggestions while we were there.

After the meal, we went back into the cave for the second hour of performance, this time by three different singer/songwriters. This time we were treated to music by Jon Randall (Wiskey Lullaby, Up on the Ridge) his wife Jessi Alexander (The Climb) and Brett Jones.

It was one of those magical nights where all in the world is well. Good food, good wine, good friends.




To be continued…

~Sandy

August 24th, 2010

“Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized..”

~Andre Simon

…After the Franciscan winery, we headed to our appointment at the Darioush winery located in Napa Valley. A reservation is required for the tastings at this prestigious winery so we didn’t want to be late.

Upon arriving, the opulence was outstanding!
To quote their website: ‘Reminiscent of the great noble architecture that once existed, the imagery of the Darioush building evokes Persepolis, the illustrious capital of ancient Persia.’

Check these pictures out:

We were ushered into a small sitting area next to the fireplace and served their speciality wines which we ended up buying a bottle of their chardonnay and one of their cabernet.

Me thinks we soon will need a bigger wine refrigerator.

Next came the Beringer winery. On the way, we decided we were getting a bit hungry, so we stopped at a local general store and bought sandwiches, fruit, and goat cheese and bread. On the courtyard of the winery, they had small tables and benches where you could relax and enjoy the atmosphere under the pristine sky. Although we were now shedding jackets, it was an ideal place and and perfect weather for our picnic. We ended up too full to try any of their wines so we walked around the area and just enjoyed the scenery.

…to be continued.

~Sandy

August 21st, 2010

“Wine is bottled poetry.”

~Robert Louis Stevenson


…began at the Kent Rathbun dinner. If you missed that post, you can read it here.

While having dinner accompanied by some incredible wine, someone brought up the idea of how great it would be to visit the California wine country. One thing led to another and soon plane tickets were purchased and reservations were booked.

Since there were six of us going, we decided to make the most of our visit by everyone making a ‘wish list’. What appealed to each one of us and where or what we wished to experience on the trip.

We each did our research and submitted our list and an itinerary was born.

We landed in San Francisco midmorning and the first thing we noticed was that it was – COLD! Everyone was wearing jackets and after leaving 100 plus degree Texas heat, it was definitely a welcomed change. I was glad I brought my new blue jean jacket as it was a must have each morning and each night.

Baggage claimed (I always have a fear my luggage won’t take the same vacation as me) and rental car picked up, we headed north. We stopped in the quaint town of Sausilito for a quick lunch and then headed to the first winery on the list.

First a quick over view:

The fourth largest producer of wine in the world, behind France, Italy, and Spain, the California wine region produces 90% of all wine in the United States. The Wine Country heartland consists of the Sonoma and Napa counties and has over 7,000 square miles and, according to Spotlights’ Wine Country Guide, ‘it is home to literally hundreds of wineries that are open for tasting, scores of lodging accommodations, dozens of fine dining restaurants, and a myriad of one-of-a-kind shops.’

And the beauty is indescribable.

Domaine Carneros Winery located in the heart of Carneros is considered a regional landmark. We were ushered inside the main chatteau but opted to sit out on the terrace in view of the beautiful vineyard covered hills. D and A had arrived on an earlier flight and opted to hike the Muir Woods before joining P and T and GW and I at Domaine Carneros. I opted for the white wine tasting and GW decided on the red so we could share and experience both. Domaine Carneros provided laminted cards with each wine listed along with a description of each.

I really loved the Vintage Brut Rose Taittinger and GW liked the Estate Pinot Noir so we bought two of each.

Since it was after 4:30 by then and most of the wineries close between 5:00 and 6:00, we stopped at the Ty Caton Vineyard. It was a smaller and newer winery and was met by the owner himself who is shown here signing the dessert wine and chocolates we purchased.

By then it was off to the town of Santa Rosa to check into our hotel, and drive into the town itself for dinner at the Russian River Brewing Company. The town itself was neat although the restaurant didn’t rate very high on our awesome meter.

By then we were all fading a bit. California is two hours behind us and we’d started early in Texas so we called it a day. But already the magic of the country had taken hold and we couldn’t wait until morning.

To be continued…

~Sandy

August 8th, 2010

“Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.”

~Russell Baker

… to Hell?

Today, here in North Texas, the temperature with the heat index was a roasting 108 degrees.

I walked outside to help GW fix the micro-sprinkler system on our lemon trees and the heat was almost suffocating. Needless (and embarrasing) to say as soon as we were finished, I ran, not walked, back inside.

The rest of the day was spent catching up with household details and getting some writing done.

Friday night we went out to eat with some friends and tried a new Italian restaurant. Their pasta pomodoro was awesome, but the cannoli for dessert was to die for. Even though GW and I shared it, it was still way to much for us and we were so stuffed, we had to roll ourselves out of there.

But great wine, great food, great dessert! And the best of all, great company!

Have a busy, busy week so gotta run.

~Sandy

August 5th, 2010

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

~Winston Churchill

…I attended the RWA National Conference at Disney World in Orlando, FL.

Had such a blast!

Dennie M, Michelle M, and I arrived Tuesday afternoon and got checked into our hotel, unpacked, and headed for dinner and drinks at the Cabana Restaurant on the small beach at the hotel. Sat outside where, surprisingly enough, the weather was very comfortable. We munched on their speciality pizza (I tried the fresh tomatoes and basil one) and it was great! Yum!

Wednesday morning we headed for the Magic Kingdom where Dennie and I rode as many rides as we could until the heat took over and we cried uncle and called it quits. I was game to ride anything that didn’t involve getting wet (you can call me a wimp but at least I be a dry one).

Space Mountain, Big Thunder Roller Coaster, Buzz Lightyear, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean – they totally rocked!

Wendesday night, Nikole B flew in and we ate at the sushi bar in the hotel and, after enough sushi and saki sangria, got brave enough to do karaoke. Michelle and Nikole sang, I pretended to sing (trust me, better that way), and Dennie took pics. Evidently, we were in THE place to be that night, because the next day every workshop we attended, someone mentioned it. Needless to say, I bet that night it was packed to the rafters with others wanting to get into the fun also.

Just for the record, I was not brave enough to try the raw sushi kind. That would take more than a few glasses of wine and by then I would be asleep and not eating anything anyway…

As usual, the conference was not only tons of fun, but so productive. I saw some friends I’ve not seen in like forever. Met some new friends like Raeann Parker from my YA group. (Waving to you, Raeann, and thanks for your help on twitter). Also got to meet some of my favorite authors like Tera Lynn Childs, Ally Carter, Tina Ferraro, Melissa de la Cruz, Sophie Jordan, and many many more.

Listened to Nora Roberts talk on how to suck it up and get the job done and how important friends are. She’s such a hero(ine) and inspiration to me. Every time the thought of how ‘hard’ writing (or life in general) crosses my mind, I hear Nora’s voice in my head and I stop whining.

Laughed hysterically at the Chat with Meg Cabot. I so love her.

Sat with Margie Lawson at the Rita awards banquet. She is one awesome, classy lady.

The YA RWA group had our first business meeting and it was so much fun getting to know them and put faces to the online names. This is going to be a really powerful group in the Young Adult field. Happy to be a part of it.

And congratulations to all the RITA and Golden Heart Winners!

If you are serious about writing, attending RWA Nationals is worth every penny.

Even if it is not at Disney World, LOL!

But it’s great to be back and looking forward to another trip with the hubby in a few weeks. This one is just for fun.

Must pack lighter, must pack lighter…

~Sandy

June 3rd, 2010

“If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude .”

~Amy Tan

…is my new mantra.

I keep thinking things are going to slow down, but no cigar.

We had a wonderful busy, busy weekend.

Saturday, GW took my car in and had the oil changed. AND got it washed. What a guy!

And then he took me shopping for clothes! Yes, girls – for clothes! We actually had fun doing it! There was no whining, no griping, no ‘are we done yet’?

And GW never complained either, LOL!

Yep, I can hear all the women out there gasping with jealousy. Sighing with envy.

Sorry, girls. But he’s mine.

After shopping and having lunch, we rented a few movies and piled in our chair the rest of the night to take a rest. Trekking from one end of the mall to the other is rather quite taxing you know.

Movie #1: Whiteout
Don’t waste your money. Premise was good, but couldn’t carry it off. Boring.

Movie #2: Legion

***Spoiler Alert****
Okay movie. Did not EVER explain why the child was the chosen one to save humanity. GW and I got into a debate about it. He related it to the Terminator movies. I debated back saying that at least you knew John Carpenter had to be saved because he was going to lead the rebellion against the machines, but in Legion it never said why the waitress’s child was THE one. No clue whatsoever. I personally think that God was testing both Gabriel and Michael. But what do I know. If you see the movie and figure it out, please enlighten me.

Movie #3: Paranormal Activity:
Okay movie. Had some scary moments. Predictable ending.

Sunday we went grocery shopping and then to Lowe’s where we bought a trellis and a pink mandeville. Had a special place in mind to plant it and if it covers the area I want, it is going to be beautiful. I so love tropical flowers.

Monday, I had to bring my netbook to Comp USA for some work on it. It became so sloooowww that it was driving me crazy. I almost cried as they pried it out of my hands so they could take a look at it. I am not sure what was wrong with it, but now it works at the speed of light.

loveit, loveit, loveit.

I had to purchase a new Norton internet security program for it because it was expiring in a few weeks, but Symantic offered a $50.00 rebate so I got the newest and greatest for only $29.00. Not bad.

While my netbook baby was at the shop getting a check up, we were invited to some friends for the rest of Memorial Day where we swam and cooked sausage and veggies on the grill. GW grilled the corn after I got those puppies all lathered up with my special herbed butter and they were the hit of the party! He didn’t have any charred spots like yours truly seems to get occasionally and it was so crisp tender and tasty. Yum!

Yesterday, I was like a cleaning machine. Moved the furniture around and swept and mopped and dusted and scrubbed and laundered and now the house is rockin’ clean. Cooked a pork tenderloin on the grill with roasted asparagus. I just love days like that. Clean house. Great dinner. And then watched 2nd day of America’s Got Talent tryouts. Gotta love that Howie!!!

~Sandy

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April 27th, 2010

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! .”

~Mark Twain

I love Spring, but not fond of Spring Fever.

This weekend, we worked almost the whole time in the yard. Planted 6 knockout rose bushes, 5 hanging baskets and 5 large plantars with various colorful plants. Killed weeds. Killed ants. Took motrin.

I don’t know if it is because we worked so hard or if Spring Fever plays a part in it, but I crash so hard at night. In front of the TV. And then don’t sleep well at night.

So not getting as much writing done as I should. Because I sleep when I should be writing, and then lying awake trying to sleep thinking I really need to be sleeping so tomorrow I can write and not sleep.

I know, doesn’t make much sense to me either.

But, I am writing a little. Very little. But there are words every day added to the story.

Must find more energy and time to write.

On the cooking front: last Friday night, I roasted some corn on the grill and it was awesome. After husking them, I mixed some herbs from the garden into soft butter, added salt, pepper, and a dash of garlic and spread it on the corn and cooked it over the fire for about 8 minutes or so. Even GW said it was pretty darn tasty. I also roasted some yellow squash.

Sunday was GW’s turn to cook and he grilled marinated flank steak and steamed corn in their husks on the grill.

I so love that gas grill!

Here’s a cute joke about Spring Fever:

Four high school boys afflicted with spring fever skipped morning classes. After lunch they reported to the teacher that they had a flat tire.

Much to their relief she smiled and said, “Well, you missed a test today so take seats apart from one another and take out a piece of paper.”

Still smiling, she waited for them to sit down. Then she said: “First Question: Which tire was flat?”

~Sandy

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April 20th, 2010

“Food is an important part of a balanced diet .”

~Fran Lebowitz

I have discovered a new way to cook food.

The gas grill.

Not that I’ve never eaten food off the gas grill, I’ve just never cooked on a gas grill before.

And it totally rocks.

With spring hiding behind the corner, the weather has had some very pleasant days. So, tired of eating burgers and steaks and such from the kitchen, we pulled out our new gas grill and cooked some burgers.

Out of curiosity, I asked GW to show me how it works. Being the patient man that he is, (and being married to me makes it a pretty tough job staying that way, LOL), he went through all the steps from preparing the grill, lighting it, watching for the correct temp, cooking, and then shutting it down. I dilegently took notes because I am such a visual person. Not to mention forgetful, but… I won’t mention that.

The burgers were great! Mouth watering great!

So a few nights later, following my written down instructions, I fired up that puppy, seasoned up some chicken breasts, threw on some hand picked rosemary from our herb garden, and I have to brag on myself…

They were the best chicken breasts I’ve ever eaten!! Even GW said they were awesome. And that is high praise coming from someone who is a much better cook than I am.

So, today we were at Lowe’s and we picked up a humongous book on how to grill which has about a million recipes included which all contain a picture of the finished product.

I am pretty fascinated with some of the grilled vegetable recipes I can’t wait to try it this week. Bought some corn on the cob, some peppers, and some squash to try, but forgot the eggplant. Not sure we even like egglplant, but the recipe looks delish. Told you I was a visual person, LOL!

Today, we’re making stuffed peppers. Yum! And he and I are such a good team in the kitchen. When he cooks, I clean. When I cook, I clean.

Wait a minute….

~Sandy

Posted in Food, General | 2 Comments »
February 21st, 2010

“Until you’re ready to look foolish, you’ll never have the possibility of being great.”

~Cher

…we ran errands. And ran errands. And ran errands.

But we finally found the rugs we wanted for both the foyer and the family room. And they rock! They are the perfect colors and size and it is amazing how they bring warmth to the rooms. Still have so many other things we want to do but it takes time and lots of work. And we want to make sure we get it how we want it.

Then we shopped around and found the bedroom furniture for the guest bedroom. They now make ‘media chests’ which matches the furniture so you can put a television and DVD players and such on which makes it better than the equipment taking up room on a dresser. I loved that idea! I like a place for everything and everything in its place.

The furniture had to be ordered, of course, so it is the same ole hurry up and wait. But I have patience.

Most of the time :-)

We trucked to Home Depot and then to Sam’s Club to stock up on some items we were out of and by then we had worked up an appetite (shopping makes you hungry) so went to eat a late lunch. We had a gift card to On The Border so we pigged out on fajitas and veggies and rice and beans. Yum! We were good, though, and didn’t do dessert.

I did get some writing in. That’s important. I was having some trouble getting started on the chapter I am working on. I wasn’t quite sure where to begin it. Until that little birdie reminded me to just START! It can always be revised. But like everything else, I want it to be picture perfect the first time.

Today it is grocery shopping and then writing. I didn’t quite make my word goal this week, but still have to today to make up for it.

Have a great Sunday!

~Sandy

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February 14th, 2010

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive”

~Dalai Lama

…and we were invited to a concert by our good friends, M & L. We traveled not far to a small town that, as many small towns have, a quaint downtown square. I just ‘heart’ those. Before the concert, we had dinner at a fabulous Italian restaurant right on the square. GW and I waited at the bar for our friends to arrive and I had my favorite Berenger’s White Zinfindel. The bartender was friendly and fun and had our mouths watering as he described the brunches they offer there on Sundays. Definitely on our list of things to do now.

For dinner, I opted for penne pasta and meatballs and Yum! Great food! The service was excellent. Our waitress also was fun and seemed to enjoy talking and teasing with us. She could definitely give as well as take on the jokes going back and forth.

After the concert, we stopped in a small coffee shop for coffee and dessert. GW and I split a blueberry and peach crumb cake that was warm and melted in your mouth. Delish!

I just loved walking around downtown. It was so quaint with the cobblestone walks and olde tyme lamp posts you see in those paintings of old. Patches of snow still covered some of the bushes and the trees were lit with tiny white lights giving it an atmosphere of being in a different era.

Unfortunately, we were all too soon jerked back to the present when we got to the parking lot and our friend’s battery was dead in their car. Thank God for jumper cables!

How was your weekend?

~Sandy

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