Have you been to a winery in Arizona yet?  Its a must see.  I spent the weekend in Sedona, AZ which I have now just dubbed "americas most beautiful city".
Besides the scenery, hiking, relaxation energy, great stores and restaurants - you can drive 20 minutes away and be surrounded by grape vines and wineries.  I stopped at Page Springs winery through some recommendations on the internet.  They were just featured in "Blood into wine" movie.  Their tasting room is small and high energy.  You can also sit outside on the deck overlooking the vineyards or mosey outside and take a short walk down to the rivers edge...They have seating there under these big beautiful old growth trees. 
I was there at a perfect time.  A bluebird day, 64 degrees, and all of the leaves on the vines were autumn shades of gold, red and amber.  Truly a sight.
I started with the Arizona flight -most were grown in Arizona an some were estate wines (that means they didnt buy the grapes but actually grew them on the property)
They had a sweeter style white blend (chenin, gewurztraminer, malvasia and chardonnay.  It was light and easy to drink...bright
 Then onto a wine called Mules Mistake (their take on beaujolais noveau)  a mix of reds - Barbera, cabernet pfeffer, pinot noir and grenache with a dash of viognier (white wine)
I think it was my favorite wine of the day.  I like the flavors (berries and toasty cinnamon) and how it felt in my mouth.  It was really light and velvety all at once.
Then one of their flagship wines - an estate grown grenache
A shiraz that was tight and nonlingering
Then lastly a petite sirah, syrah, mourvedre blend - I also liked that but if would have been much better with food.

I did try some other varietals - their viognier, rose and a couple other reds.  It was interesting.  They were quite busy so there wasnt a lot of time to talk in depth but it was a Saturday.  After a quick walk around the property it turned out to be a lovely day.  I only wish everyday was like a walk in the vineyards  :)

 
So what do you do when your in a spot you never thought you'd be in?
misread, misunderstood....communication breakdown.
May it be work, family, love or friends......when you give it your all and you just cant seem to get it right - then what?  Do you still try?  Do you continue the hard road or run? I've always thought of myself as a keep going kind of girl.  On some things I guess.  Because Ive given up on others. 
When do you still try?  Sometimes the last word helps. Sometimes you know your right but you also know that no matter what you do or say, it will not change the outcome.  Sometimes overreacting takes over.  Sometimes the tiniest insecurities make us do things we wish we wouldn't of.  When do feelings come in and when does your mind say stop?  My mind works overtime, all the time.  I havent been the knockout amazing person I wanted to be, but Im not bad either.  Im me.  I make mistakes, loads of them.  We all do.
Im like most other women in the world - I want my hand held in the car and someone to remember to take out the garbage without asking.  I want to watch the sunset and sometimes the sunrise.  I want to break bread, sip on wine and laugh.  I want to feel safe and worry free with you.  I want to feel loved.
and for you to have the key to make me open up

I also want there to be no more backorders or mispicks. :)

Ive been there before and I will try it again.




 
What if we had cherries instead of fingers?

What am I thankful for today on Thanksgiving? Well so far its the cheap cup of hotel coffee.

What am I thankful for everyday?
my grandparents
my friends
my family
a dreamboat
The usual suspects
Im also thankful for my strong faith- that goes with my grandparents

Im thankful for 2 ply toilet paper and
La Croix sparkling water

and for the life I lead.   Im so blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all- eat tons of stuffing covered in gravy -drink to get through family time and then hug the people you love the most -





 
As i drive to Waupaca super early every Sunday this crosses my mind "I wonder if they will do something funny this week."  I'm speaking of my grandparents.  And of course they never fail to do something that makes me laugh.  But today, today was different....awesome.
picture it, at church in our pew very close to the front so we can hear.  We have all the rows behind us full of people and 2 rows of regulars in front of us.  I notice right away that Gramps has forgotten his glasses AGAIN.  Great.  Gram notices this too as we are singing the first hymn. Grandpa is holding the hymnal upside down and pretending to read it so she doesnt notice- we are on 219.  He is who knows where because its upside down.  My gram smacks him, he fake jumps all startled, and he looks down at her and shes tapping on her glasses and then shook her pointer finger at him, silently scolding him.  I, of course, am trying not to laugh.  He shuts the book and looks forward, then turns to me and says "i may as well go home."  I dont look at him, continue singing and shake my head at him.
Church goes on and we pray and sing and listen quietly.  We had a pleasant surprise after the sermon that the Senior Bell Choir was going to play! great. They start and all of a sudden I see her slap his leg.  He jumps startled and looks at her.  Out of the corner of my eye I can see her plugging her nose.  Im not sure if she was signaling to him that he had a bloody nose (this happens often) or what.  I look over at her now and hes looking at her too.  He shrugs at her like "what?" He touches his nose and looks at his hand - nothing?  He looks at her again and shrugs - she grabs her nose again and sticks out her tongue like shes gagging or something.  Now Im even more confused?  I didnt see anything wrong with him and I didnt smell anything out of the usual weird normal so?
I could tell she was getting fiesty though.  So the bell choir is chiming away and everyone is quiet and all of a sudden my Gram can't help it anymore she is so irritated with my gramps for not knowing what shes trying to silently say to him - she yells out "DID YOU STEP IN SHIT WITH YOUR SHOES?"- Oh my God - she did not just yell that in a completely quiet church except for the damn old lady bell ringers in the balcony - did she?  Yes she did.
I tried not to laugh I swear.  Tried being the word. 
The people in front of us were very still as my grandpa now tries to look at his shoe to see if he did,  by chance,  step in shit.  He looks at her and says "no gram"
I am laughing.  The bells are done.  We are supposed to stand now and I know at least 5 rows have heard her if not more.  As we stand to say prayers I cant stop  laughing (not out loud laughing- the hold back laugh were u cant look at anyone in the eyes for fear you will spit all over them and laugh out loud so hard and my eyes were watering) 
As we leave church they both seem to have forgotten that this has happened.  I, have not.  As we walk out people are looking at us and Gram says hello and waves. Friendly people today.
We get outside and Gramps says "so you getting married yet?"
Nope - wipe the shit off of your shoes please



 
I have been home 2 weekends in a row- this is the first time in months - probably 6 at least.  And I havent gotten a damn thing done.  I feel like Ive been busy- cleaning out cupboards, my closet, the dust bunnies that linger in the corner, the pile of things that needed to be filed and my summer clothes have found a secure place until next year.  I roasted a ton of vegetables and made 4 soups.  I mailed out long overdue cards instead of sending emails.  I repotted plants and started to rake the leaves (ok not really). I found myself in the basement going through my wine trying to find out what I should drink and looking at all the wines I forgot I had.  I also drank a lot of those wines as well.  I watched Seinfeld reruns (remember when Kramer decides to have the Jewish singles party and he tries to cook all that food and then Georges dad ends up helping and freaking out!)  I paid bills, I drank more wine.  I got a massage, pedicure and went shoe shopping (successful by the way)  I ate sushi and drank pots of coffee.  I took my grandparents to church, made dinner for one of my favorite couples and drank wine by moonlight and gossiped.  I got caught up on work and cleaned my toilets.  I listened to sappy music and cried like a baby.  I missed, wished and sighed.  I reconnected, longed and regretted.  I tossed and turned most nights and worked on my website (HELLO DOESNT IT LOOK BETTER!?)
I played with my friends babies, went out on the town twice with my girls, seen friends I havent seen in months and drank more wine.  I laughed and then laughed harder. 
I wont be home for the next couple weekends - I wish I would have gotten more done when I could have?!

nothing I can do

 
Here are some great wines for Thanksgiving (I need wine to survive my family - how about you?)

Red -
Georges Dubouef Beaujolais Noveau - just came out on Thursday
Sequana Pinot Noir - expensive but well worth the layers
Bridlewood Pinot Noir - great value wine - light cherry and berries
King Estate Pinot Noir- layered smooth delicous lingering
Buehler Zinfandel - for you ham eaters or beef eaters - 91pts spect and spicy

white -
Riondo Prosecco - light bubbles
Ferrari Carano Fume Blanc (rich and round - tastes like gold in a glass
Fess parker Viognier - Full bodied - honey and apricot and floral
Acrobat Pinot Gris (oregon) rounder then a normal pinot grigio but still nice acidity

Where to buy these wines?
Red and White in Appleton, Mcknight and Carlson in appleton or Oshkosh or your local retailer. 

Have a Delicious and Memorable Thanksgving and forget about the past - let the light shine in


 
YOU make your life happen.  Someone else doesn't magically come down and change it, saying to themselves - "yeah, its time she gets a break". 
Its no time for blaming, whining or crying.  bad things do happen to good people and there, of course, is circumstances that we only can wish and hope for change.  But if we dont try make ourselves happy we won't ever be fullfilled.

on a lighter note I had some pretty amazing wine yesterday.  J russian river pinot noir 08.  Man - finesse and silkiness and the finish that layered and lingered.  it had been open for 30ish hours and I will tell you it tasted better as it opened up. 
Then a bottle of Foxen Santa rita hills Pinot noir.  This pinot noir was more masculine and acidic finish.  I love it too.  It hit me on the top of my palate and didnt move.  Lingered and would go great with a fatty piece of pork.

Also lastly - 08 Buehler Napa Valley Cabernet Sauv.
HOly crap was this cabernet made for me?  It is one of the most classic styles of cabernet I have ever  had.  It was full bodied, great tannins (soft and lingering) smooth and dark black fruit hints. 

So - get out and make your changes in life - your the only one to make it happen

another turning point a fork stuck in the road

 
Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas, Sunday dinner at Grams, date night, a Friday night with the girls, New Years Eve......all great "feel good" days.  And all of these days revolve around a meal or food.  Food is the glue to all of these days, moments and memories.  I remember my grams 7 layer torte on Christmas day night, my other grams sweadish meatballs and swiss steak for lunch on Christmas day.  Growing up my gram made me a chocolate cake with white frosting with tiny chocolate chips in them for my birthday.  My babysitter Joan used to make "yummy" bars - caramel brownies as gooey and delicious as you can imagine.  During the first week of December you could find me on a Saturday morning shoving Rosettes,  made just that morning, in my mouth in silence, hiding under the bed as I may get in trouble as they were for guests...My great grandma made homeade lefce....flaky and delcious sprinkled with butter and sugar.  "hot dish" from my gram which was glorifed spaghetti with water added. A friends mom made the best hot beef, salty and savory.  Maybe its salmon yaki from Katsuya, antipasto platter at carmellas, white chicken chili at Fratellos, roasted red pepper and gouda soup from Pullmans, portugese mussels or guacamole at Ilangolo, scallops at Lombardis, the pizza at wild truffle, the french fries at good company, the cheese platters at red and white, the old Willow blue cheese and bacon spinach salad, Lisas espresso creme brulee, saganaki at Appollon, proscuitto salad at Cannovas, drunken noodle at Cys Asian bistro, mac and cheese at Zuppas, garlic chicken gourmet pizza at stucs, pancakes at third street diner, sampler platter at Trattoria Stefanos, pretzel bun at Urbane, any soup at Il Ritrovo. The first bite of the perfectly ripe peach, an overipe fig, a carrot just pulled from the ground, a tomato still hot from the sun, raspberries off the bush, green beans picked straight from the plant.......all these delicious foods have given me a memory.  It may be with friends, a loved one, family - through great times and the worst of times.  I love how food brings us all together and tells a story.  I love going to restaurants and eating other peoples favorites foods to see why they loved it so much, why did the chef pick that - it all leads back to a memory they had had and twisted it to become their own.  I think its marvelous. 
I love to cook.  I take all these ingredients out of my life and try to come up with new fun things.  I can open a kitchen cupboard  - even a fairly bare one, and come up with something tasty to eat. 
Back to food. And Memories.  Its a very poetic and nuturing thing to smell a smell you remember and it brings you back.  I love breaking bread with friends  - its easier to have conversations, its easier to talk about your feeling and its definately easier to drink.  So cheers to food.....The everlasting glue in most of our lives.

 
I picked up some friends at the airport and off we went - driving up to my motherland..Our first stop- Rams Gate Winery.  This new winery opened 6 weeks earlier and I will say a jaw dropper.  Its denoted as the first winery you can get to right out of San Francisco (just a 35 minute drive- 25 with good traffic)  www.ramsgatewinery.com
it. was. gorgeous.  
Outside fireplaces, covered ceilings but open on the sides....then you walk inside to this beautiful cement bar with stone fireplaces and a huge wine wall.  Everyone looked happy and relaxed.  Then outside to sit in the sun, surrounded by vines and a completely amazing view of San Pablo bay in the distance and mountains. WOW.  They did nothing cheap here...copper everything and the tiniest details were awesome - even blankets with their logo for people sitting outside in the shade.  Then you open the menu - about 6 wines - a couple of them estate grown - and the FOOD....wow! small plates like braised shortribs and crackling duck.  Cheese plates and just the most delicious looking food Ive seen! We had a bottle of estate pinot (we could see the vines the wine came from - awesome)  The wine wasnt as stunning as the place, vibe and food but thats ok - I will go back again - probably everytime.
Then off to the Doobie Brothers Managers winery - BR cohn.  Cool, artsy place.  We had a great tour guide,Justin, and he showed us around to blooming persimom trees, round red pomegranites, ripened olives ready to get pressed and some fun wines.  We also did an olive oil and balsalmic vinegar tasting.  www.brcohn.com
Then we checked into the luxurious Hotel Healdsburg www.hotelhealdsburg.com where I had one of the best beds if not THE best bed of my life.  That of course was after a 6 course tasting menu at Charlie Palmers Dry Creek Kitchen www.charliepalmer.com   .  We had rare tuna, a velvety corn soup with bacon, cheese courses, and many other treats. WIne we had Simi Landslide Cabernet, Ferrari Carano Fume Blanc, J Brut Rose, Armida Zinfandel... Back to my beautiful room with a super huge Tub and the magic heaven bed.  I didnt want to get out of it in the morning but the tub was calling me...
A long day ahead we stopped at Oakville Grocer in Healdsburg for some snacks and off to Frei Bros Ranch in Dry Creek.  Ashley was an amazing host and we toured the vineyards, spouted some history and drank some great sauvignon blanc and chilly zinfandel.  www.freibrothers.com Off to Mac Murray Ranch in Russian River. www.macmurrayranch.com    The drive is windy and the locals take it fast and furious.  The Ranch is Quaint and lovely.  Reminds me of my gram and gramps old farm.  We drank some round and ripe mac murray pinot gris, talked about Wisconsin ties with Fred macmurray and his show "my three sons".  We had a tasty rustic lunch in the old house in the front of the fireplace and under the fir trees.  This ranch feels magical, almost surreal.  Its one of the most lovely places in Sonoma in my book.  I feel good there.
We made the drive over the river and through the redwoods to Calistoga (start of Napa Valley) and pulled up to the Fransican winery where we were going to be staying over and having dinner. www.franciscan.com  Nolan was our main man - we toured the winery - had some tasty sauv blanc and then an unbelievable dinner and drank a 3 liter of 04 mt veeder cabernet (my fav)  The wine was a stand out right now.  So powerful yet so soft and teasing. 
We woke up to FROST in the napa valley floor..If I hadnt mentioned 90% of grapes were already harvested but some late comers were still picking right till the end...A tough year in Cali and oregon wine country.  It never got fully hot out (that means inthe triple digits there) and then they had rain during flowering and harvest.  Botrytis (a humidity (water) driven fungus that gets inthe middle of the bunches of grapes and starts to rot, was  a problem after the late rain.  Tough year.  We heard anywhere from 30 - 60% loss.  not a pleasant thought coming from 2010 which was tough too with not a lot of heat (which means grapes dont get ripe or produce sugar) and then a crazy spike in heat that gave 30-50% of grapes sunburn (the grapes actually turn to raisans essentially)
We went to Cab heaven - Louis Martini where we enjoyed a cabernet seminar with Claire and tasted some great cabs. www.louismartini.com  Then off to William HIll to figure out chardonnay, check out the refractometer and sugar levels and some cellar stories.  Then the best lunch I may have ever had.  They brought out course after course....curried crab salad, fresh fig salad, braised beef, smoked shrimp with fennel salad, goat cheese smashed potatoes, Cheese course and charcuterie platter and AHHH stop!  We were uncomfortably full and If I was wearing a buttoned pair of pants someone would have lost an eye for sure. www.williamhillestate.com
A quick stop at silver oak and then to Duckhorn to taste these delicious well balanced wines.  Luke was great and after Goldeneye, duckhorn, paraduxx, migration and decoy we were buzzed, happy and smiling..
we made a quick pit stop to Castello di Amarosa - a castle and winery that took 14 years to build and just opened up last year.  Its completely stunning and just please drive in to look at it.  A remarkable love of wine and history because there is NO way this guy can ever make enough money in wine to cover the costs.  the details are truly one of a kind.
Checked into the Eurospa INn www.eurospa.com in Calistoga and off to see a dear friend of mine for dinner - John.  We met at the Market in St Helena - I totally recommend.  I had a great beet and goat cheese salad and John and I shared some tuna tartar.  Then a crab cake and We shared a brownie sundae.  He owns Buehler Vineyards and WInery.  We drank his Russian River chardonnay and his Estate cabernet (OMG STUNNING) classy and elegant as his wines - he is rustic, handsome and opinionated perfection! what a great night!  And his cabernet is featured inthis months Wine Spectator. www.buehlervineyards.com
A great trip - I know when my pants are tight and my lips are dehydrated from the wine.  Another success! The rolling hills of color from green to gold and red, Wine country is sure a stellar sight in November.  The weather was great, the food and wines amazing.  Go there and feel the sun on your face and smell fermentation in the air!

bittersweet and green on the vine

 
Today was yet another exciting morning with my grandparents....
In Church we had communion today which as you know comes towards the end of the service.  Before we could go up for the INDIVIDUAL (YES) cup my gram has slapped his hand twice and my grandpa has pinched her at least 3 times.....Now remember this is a loving pinch and slap...She just shakes her head as I shake mine at both of them. 
We make our way up to the altar and get on our knees.  Pastor brings us the wafer then the other pastor brings the lil cups of wine.  Out of the corner of my eye I see my grandpa take his - He puts it up to his lips and drinks it...Now the next step is to set it with all the other cups on the altar but no - he proceeds to tip it back more - his head wayy back and he almost falls backwards.  This is comical but it gets better - he starts licking out the tiny plastic cup and uses his other had to gentley tap the cup, like its stuck and he has to get every last drop like he paid for it or something.  The rest of us have already started to get up to walk away.....and as he notices this he jumps up like we were disturbing him.  I await patiently for him to start going to make sure he gets downt the steps alright.  Gram, who can barely walk, is speed walking and almost to her seat and here we are falling behind so he can suck out (or lick out) every last drip of Jesus' blood.  Awesome.  I shake my head and try not to start to smile, afraid if I do I will start to laugh in front of church and I just took communion for heavens sake.....So we make our way back and gram is giving him a monster dirty look. Bad.  He looks at her and knows hes in trouble but has no idea why so he gives her the "what gram" with his hands up in the air.  She swats at him and turns from him irriatated.  no love in that shun.  Now he does what most men do when their loved ones are mad at them....POUT.  He doesnt open up his hymnal (which he doesnt realize he is usually on the wrong page anyway) and he wont look at her or at the pastor.  He pouts and has his eyebrows in a scowl. 
  After a song he seems to forget and starts to look around.  theres some prayers etc and then the last song.  Its on page 208.  He goes to 214 and then looks at mine.  I point to 208.  He point to 214 and then to the front of the church where the board reads the page numbers for the songs.  I point again to the 208.  He shakes his head.  We are now on verse 3 and I am singing and pointing to 208 and want to whisper to him that I know its right because I am singing but he cant hear so whats the use.  He forgot that we already sang that song but he was pouting and didnt open up for that song.   now the Songs over.  Church is over - he now has the hyman at 208.  We get up to leave.  He still continues to sit there with his hymnal open.  Gram nudges him, irritated.....Mikey lets go.  ahh no.  we already know that drives him wild.  We get outside and he says - why didnt we sing the last song Gram?   Gram is so beyond herself irriated she walks by him and gets in the truck.  We get back for instant coffee and he asks again.  She throws an aldi fig newton at him and asks me when Im getting married.  Awesome

Just another amazing morning with my grandparents.  They are super sweet