Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wine Wednesday

After the $25 bottle last week, I'm coming back down to a great value wine, another French winner that we've discovered.

I grabbed a bottle of La Vieille Ferme a couple of weeks ago on the way to girls night because I've been wanting to try it.  I kept seeing it in the Cotes du Rhone sections in the stores when looking for wines that we had in Provence.  For right around $6, it was a great price and I couldn't resist.

Owned by Perrin and Fils, La Vieille Ferme is their lower end, value wine.  They're connected with several very well know and high end brands throughout the Rhone region, as well as own a delicious restaurant in Gigondas.

La Vieille Ferme makes 3 wines - a red, a white, and a rose.  Keeping it simple!  This post is about the red - I haven't had the others, but am looking forward to trying them...especially the rose!

The red is a Rhone blend consisting of Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah.  It is from the AOC Ventoux and the grapes are grown at the base of Mont Ventoux in Provence.  

You can also find this wine in magnum size, which is much more common in France than it is here.  Magnums, when you can find them, are great for parties and definitely a conversation piece!  

For $6, you can't go wrong with this Rhone red.  Pick on up next time you're looking for a good, cheap bottle! 


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wine Wednesday

Owen Roe winery has become one of the top wineries in the Pacific Northwest of the US.  They primarily harvest grapes from small vineyards in Willamette Valley of Oregon and in Washington the Mid-Columbia, Yakima and Walla Walla Valleys.  Their first vintage was in 1999, and they've been making great wine ever since.  The make mostly reds - Pinot, Merlot, Cab, Syrah and some delicious blends - but also make a Chardonnay and are releasing a Pinot Gris this spring.

I've had (and loved) several of their wines, but today is all about Ex Umbris!

According to the Owen Roe website, 'Ex Umbris' is Latin for 'out of the shadows'. It was originally made as a one-off due to a wildfire that resulted in tremendously smoky grapes.  In more recent years, this wine has become a Northwest signature Syrah. 

The 2009 was rated 93 points by Wine Spectator and listed as #25 on their Top 100 list in 2011.

Usually around $25, this is one of my favorite Syrahs.  The 2009 vintage is the one most easily found in stores right now.  I know Whole Foods carries it, and you can also find it at Total Wine and maybe Wegmans.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Weekend Snapshots

Over the last 6 weeks or so, we've had some great, low key, in town weekends.  With the fall being as busy as it was and lots of things already on the calendar for the spring, low key has been really nice.  We've joked about how much stuff we've gotten done!

Low key doesn't have to mean no fun!  Friday night we went to one of our favorite spots, Mad Fox, again.  This time for dinner with 2 of our closest friends.  We finally used all 3 of our Groupons!  Thinking it was a great idea, we bought 3 in the fall...and have been the last 3 weekends in a row...

After Mad Fox, I headed downtown to meet up with my 'softball team.'  I use that term very loosely, considering I've only played in ONE game.  Ever.  The group is not very skilled at softball, and we're totally ok with that.  We're good at the other competition, Last Team Standing.  It's exactly what it sounds like, and we came in 3rd place this year, winning ourselves a free keg!

Saturday was spent running errands, grocery shopping, working on chores around the house and getting in an extra good workout.  We made the long trip about 5 steps next door to our neighbors house for dinner.  We're all trying to be frugal and eat healthy, so it was great.  Veggies and dip to start, delicious pot roast, fingerling potatoes, green beans and peppers for dinner, and Strawberry Fool for dessert.  Oh, delicious.  

Topped with some mini-chocolate chips and fresh mint, it was a huge hit.  

Sunday morning, I snuggled up on the couch with a big cup of coffee and the pup.  I have gotten very behind on magazine reading lately, so I was determined to get through some.  And that's just what I did - I read 6 magazines Sunday morning!  Ahhh, it feels so good to get through things like that! 

Hope y'all had a great weekends, too.  Happy Fat Tuesday to all!  Anyone giving anything up for Lent?  I'm still trying to decide on something...

Friday, February 17, 2012

High Five for Friday!

What a week it's been!  With the craziness of Freight Day and the upcoming Conference, I'm glad the weekend is almost here.

Today I'm linking up with Lauren at From My Grey Desk for High Five for Friday!

Here are five of my favorite things from this week:

1.  Even though I'm not a big Valentine's fan, husband and I had a great, quiet evening at home on Tuesday.

2.  I made another delicious Skinny Taste recipe on Wednesday!  Tuna Noodle Casserole.  YUM.

3.  I laughed so hard at girls night last night - it was exactly what I needed this week!

4.  I am so excited to go to one of our favorite places, Mad Fox, tonight for dinner with some of our best friends, and then meeting up with some of my Elon folks for some fun :)

5.  Snuggling with this love bug in the mornings is always one of my favorite things!

I hope y'all have had a great week and have some fun this weekend!  Think we'll get any white stuff on Sunday??

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My life this week

It's that time of year again! It seems to come faster and faster each year...

Conference time! We have been packing for a week/month.  Tomorrow, an 18-wheeler will load up roughly 15,000 lbs of freight and drive it to New Orleans.  Tomorrow is the unofficial kick off to Conference.

It will be delivered to the 25 or so staff members who will travel to conference next Thursday.  Once it's delivered and our convention services team has built our 'sets,' we'll begin frantically unpacking auction items, idea fair boards, wine, setting up offices and registrations, building a Nike pro shop, and more.  Members and Partners will arrive Thursday night and Friday.  Weeks and months are spent preparing for what we call our Member-Guest.  It's when we become the club managers hosting our members at 'our club.'  

On Friday we'll have 50 people go out into a community in New Orleans with the St. Bernard Project to help rebuild some houses and education starts Saturday morning.  There will be over 70 education classes, focusing on food and beverage management, leadership skills, wine education, social networking and more.  We have our own trade show for 2 days with over 300 sq feet of space, vendors from Toro and John Deere to china, linen, and architecture firms.  There will be a silent and live wine auction, featuring over 1,000 bottles.  Archie Manning is speaking one morning.  Saturday is the auction that I run - we're having a Po' Boy festival with dueling pianos this year, and of course hurricanes.  Almost 70 items and about 600 people will be in attendance.  We're doing a 5k run bright and early on Monday to benefit St. Bernard Project.  That night, all 2000 of us will go on a progressive club tour of 3 of the most prestigious and historic New Orleans clubs.  

We have several people from each of the 13 Corporate Partner companies attending.  There will be over 100 international managers from literally all over the world.  There will be dinners, receptions, and lots of networking.  There will be many late nights, few meals eaten, and too many alarms set for 4:30am.  There is a blue blazer, gold name tag, several pairs of khaki pants and the ugliest most comfortable brown shoes you can find.

And then, at 5:00pm Tuesday night, we as staff will stand in a line, and say good bye, see you in San Diego, and wave to our members, sending them back to their clubs energized, motivated and rearing to go. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wine Wednesday

For Wine Wednesday this week we're heading to the Dundee Hills of Oregon's Willamette Valley.

Erath Winery is one of my favorites, and I have really been seeing it on lots of restaurant lists these days.  They have been growing and farming grapes on their land outside of Portland for over 40 years.  Dick Erath is one of the pioneers of Oregon winemaking.

They make a few different styles of Pinot.  First, their Oregon style wines are the most affordable, ready to drink wines.  Then is the more refined Estate and Single Vineyard selections and finally the limited Les Magique.

The Oregon collection is the focus of today's post.  This is a great wine, and we've been drinking it a lot over the last few months.  At Costco and Wegmans it's about $14.60 and it's $16 at Total Wine.  This is a great bottle for a nice dinner or to take to parties - and it's also a screwcap!

I would be remiss if I didn't mention their estate line.  If I remember correctly, this is one of the first bottles of Erath I had.  It's definitely a bit pricier, up around $28.  It's listed on their website for $34. Keep it on your list for next time you need a nice bottle of Pinot.

According to the Erath website, in 2010 "10 out of 10 Erath single vineyard Pinot Noirs from the 2006 vintage received ratings of 90 points or higher from the industry’s top publications including theWine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and Wine Advocate."  

They also make some whites - Pinot Gris (which I've found at Costco, it was delicious!), Pinot Blanc and Gew├╝rztraminer, but they might be harder to find.

Next time you see Erath on a wine list or in the store, grab a bottle!  Cheers!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Kitchen finale!

I know I haven't talked much about our home projects or our kitchen redo since July, but I have some new reports for you.  I'm incredibly late getting to this, but...better late than never!

You might recognize this picture from right after we finished the July.  Well, for the rest of the summer and into the fall, this is what my kitchen looked like.  We were actually really getting used to not having to open or close cabinet doors!

And our lower level looked like this...for months.  With 1 coat of primer and 2 coats of paint on each side of the doors, this turned out to be quite an intense process.  That was after the filling of holes and cracks and drilling of new holes for the new hinges.

Once the doors were finished, husband prepped the bases of the cabinets in the kitchen while I was away at Homecoming.  He filled the existing hinge holes, cleaned and sanded everything, covered everything in plastic and put tape along the shelf edges and other places we wanted to protect. 

I took the opportunity to touch up some other eye sores, like our pantry door.  I knew it was ugly, but I'm not sure I ever realized just HOW ugly - this is just primer on it, and look at the difference!! 

Plus, the bottoms of the cabinets were brown.  Like, dark brown.  I'm hoping that I've finally covered everything that used to be brown in our house with a better color. 

Then we had to hang the doors.  This wasn't as bad as it sounds, but was still a chore.  We both said several times if we'd realized how BIG of a project this was, we would have just torn them out and bought all new from Ikea or somewhere like that...

But we do love the result.  We have new hinges, the hidden hinges, which really make a difference.  M was determined to change the hinges, and I didn't really think it would matter - but it gives the kitchen a more modern, cleaner feel.  We also replaced all of the hardware - so from a darker metal to a nice brushed nickel.  They look great with the stainless steal.  It's quite a change, and we're definitely glad it's finished! 

Before the big reveal, lets remember...

Before...look at that AWFUL refrigerator! Ugh.

And now!

We really love it.  The new appliances are beautiful, and I love the cupped drawer pulls.  I've always wanted those!  Sorry it took so long to do this post, but even with the elapsed time I wanted to show you the finished product!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cilantro shrimp and herb orzo

Happy Friday!  This week has just flown's that time of year for me, the crazy conference time.  We have about 2 weeks until our freight truck leaves, and less than 3 weeks before we all head to New Orleans! It's crunch time!

This recipe was so delicious, I wanted to share it with you - I haven't posted a recipe in a while.  I found this while poking around on the Skinny Taste blog - she's one of my new found favorites.

One of our friends stopped by to visit for a little while on Wednesday and I insisted that he stay for dinner.  This came together so quickly, and was really easy.  I added some orzo to the meal since we had company, but you could totally eat it without it.

Put the pot of water on the stove for the orzo.  While it's heating up, get everything else out and ready...start chopping the herbs, drain the shrimp (I used a bag of unthawed shrimp that needed to be drained and rinsed).  Put a cup of orzo in the pot of boiling water, and turn on the skillet with a little olive oil.  Once that's hot, put in the shrimp, in 2 minutes flip and add the crushed garlic.  The orzo takes about 8-9 minutes and the shrimp 5 or so.

Drain the orzo, then mix in some lemon juice, olive oil, chopped parsley and cilantro.  Stir in lime juice and cilantro with the shrimp, and serve!  It's really that easy!  I threw a bag of steamer vegetables into the microwave, too, and it was a well rounded meal.


Cilantro Lime Shrimp
2 tsp olive oil
2 lb shrimp, shelled and deviened
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime
salt and pepper

Heat a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Add oil to the pan, when hot add shrimp. Season with salt and pepper. When the shrimp is cooked on one side, about 2 minutes, turn over and add garlic. Saut├ę another minute or two until shrimp is cooked, careful not to overcook. Remove from heat. Squeeze lime all over shrimp and toss with cilantro. Serve hot.

Lemon Herb Orzo
1 cup of orzo
1 tbsp olive oil
A couple tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

In a medium pot of boiling salted water, cook orzo according to package directions (about 9 minutes). Drain pasta and transfer to a bowl.  Mix in remaining ingredients and serve.


Enjoy, and have a great weekend friends!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wine Wednesday

Dave Matthews is one of my favorite musicians, and now he's making some pretty good wine too.

Dave's first experience with wine was in Virginia, where he purchased a property in Charlottesville to farm.  A couple of years later, he met Steve Reedy of Simi Winery in Healdsburg, CA, and that lead him to the other side of the country and Sonoma County.

The Dreaming Tree winery was created.  Their first 3 wines were just released this year, and they have been a big hit.  They produce a chardonnay, a cabernet sauvignon, and a red blend called “Crush,” all from California grapes.

Crush is the highlight of today's Wine Wednesday.  It is a 2/1 Merlot and Zinfandel blend.  It was originally introduced to me by a friend who's a big DMB fan.  I had tried both Crush and the Cab in the fall, and enjoyed both of them.  This past Sunday while checking out the wine section of Costco, we were surprised to see that they had Crush and decided we should pick up a bottle.

At Costco and Wegmans, a bottle of Crush is $11, on their website it's $15 and at Total Wine it's $16.  At $11, this wine is a great value...for $16, there are some other wines I might buy first.    

They're wine making philosophy is to make wines to enjoy now rather than having to save them.  This one has a bit of a 'smokey berry' flavor with 'raspberry jam' notes.  Great with food, or on it's own on the back deck!

Previous Wine Wednesday posts here and here.

Photos from The Dreaming Tree Facebook Page