Monday, December 12, 2011

Thank you Martha!

The majority of the cards we get are photo cards and we love to look at them. And, every year I try to think of a new and better way to display the Christmas cards we get.  Most of the time though, I just end up using double-sided tape to stick them to some ribbon that's taped to the wall.

Until this year. I think I found the one that I will actually use again next year. And it's all thanks to Martha.

I picked up 10 embroidery hoops this summer at a rummage sale. Yes, I said 10. I paid a whopping $1 for all 10. I bought all they had. I knew that sooner or later I'd find something to do with them.

I didn't follow all of her steps exactly. I used regular sized clothes pins instead of the mini ones and I didn't measure the spacing between them. I just slapped them on with some hot glue.

I did try to make a bow out of ribbon,  but I was tired and my brain wasn't working and it just didn't turn out right.

So, I gave up and decided to use a fake poinsettia instead. I popped it off the stem and hot glued it the top of the ribbon. Then, I used a command strip (love them!) for hanging.

This one was so easy, that I decided to make three. (We get a lot of cards!)


(At one point, I actually had all 10 laid out on the floor in the shape of the Christmas tree and thought about painting the whole thing green, but simplicity won out in the end.)

And here they are with a few cards. Very quick, very easy and very cheap. Just my kind of project! (And I've still got clothes pins and hoops left if I need to throw another one together or add more pins to these ones.)

Linking up with:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Uff da

Obviously, the 31 days of posting wore me out. Good grief.

Since then, both my husband and I had birthdays, my mom and I went to France for a week, we celebrated Thanksgiving, and I've been to the penny sale.

I've been crazy busy and totally exhausted since November 1. And now we are in Christmas Craziness mode.

I do want to tell you all about France ($4.00 Bordeaux at the grocery store!!!) and the goodies I came home with as well as a couple of quick projects I've done for Christmas. Hopefully, I'll get to them soon(since I dropped the ball with the whole front porch thing.)

I had to clean and organize my craft room this afternoon. I couldn't take the chaos anymore. I can't think, much less created surrounded by crap.

Hopefully, that will get and keep me motivated through the holidays!

How crazy busy are the rest of you? Anything you wish you could get done by Christmas, but know it won't happen?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Phew...I made it

Wow, I can't believe it's over! (And, I'm kinda relieved it's over.)

31 Days of Wine. (Well, actually 29, cause I missed two days in there.)  Still not too shabby.  I crossed just about all the topics off of my intitial list.

To finish it off, here's some info to get you through Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Wines - some great tips in here for picking wines that will go with everything from the apps to desserts

Pairing Wines with Holiday Meals - suggestions range from $15 to over $55 if you are feeling daring...some good sounding ones on this list!

Whatever you decide, whether its something new or a tried and true, be sure to enjoy it with the people you love! That always makes the wine taste better. (Unless it's white amount of love can make that better.)

I hope that you had a giggle and got at least one new wine to try over the course of the last month. If you decide to start your own wine club, I'd love to hear how it goes!

Thank you Nester for the inspiration and thank you to the other 700+ folks that decided to do the same thing! There are some great topics out there if you want to check them out.

Will I do it again next year? We'll see. Can you imagine what my pile of corks is going to look like by then?

Bottoms up!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wine-ding down

Sunday night after a busy week. I made 48 cupcakes today. I don't do that. Ever. A dozen? Yes. 48? No. I leave that to my sister, the baker. But, our church Trunk-or-Treat event needed cupakes so I made them. And they turned out awesome. (These are what I made. MMMM.)

Sparky made a great supper of stuffed peppers. Kids got baths, books and bed. I painted my fingernails. Black. And I love them.

Now, I'm sitting with a glass of Red Rock Malbec watching Sunday night football and trying not to wreck my nails.

We are going to have a long day tomorrow. I'm sure I'll need a glass of something wonderful to end the day and to write the final 31 Days of Wine post.

Maybe it'll be from one of these lists.

Dark and scary red wines for Halloween
12 Most Wicked Wines for Halloween

Have a great Monday and I hope no one eggs your house, soaps your car or smashes your pumpkins tomorrow night!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I love chocolate and wine almost as much as I love cheese and wine.

I always thought that I didn't like dark chocolate. It's bitter, it's too strong...blah, blah, blah. Well, that is true if you are like my SIL and like 70% cacao in your chocolate. I do not. I like a nice creamy mild dark chocolate. MMMMM. My mouth is watering.

My favorites are Dove Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate Promises. 

In fact, I have a bag of these babies in my pantry as we speak.

You can also never go wrong with Ghiradelli (this is where you can find that really dark chocolate I mentioned above). And the Hershey's Bliss Dark Chocolates are pretty good too.

(Of course, any chocolate is better than no chocolate. That pretty much goes without saying.)

Do you have a favorite chocolate or will any chocolate do? 

Friday, October 28, 2011

What's in a name?

I've said before that I remember wines based on their label. But I also pick them by their label or their name.

Like, the Middle Sister Wines. The graphics on the label are what initially made me buy it, but now I really like them.

A clever wine name will also make me pick up a bottle. (What a fun job that would be! Getting to name a wine? Awesome.) Fat Bastard was one of those. It made me think of the Austin Powers movies and giggle right in the liquor store. (Although, I can't remember if I've had the Cab or only the Shiraz...I may have to try the Cab.)

I did a search on funny wine names and found this post. Wouldn't you know that Fat Bastard was at the top of the list? That's the only one on the list that I've tried, but I may have to check out a couple of the others.

I also found this list on cafemom. Some funny shi stuff out there. I know that I snorted at least twice.

And I found this little video:

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Haven't tried either of them, but oops has been on every list. And you know how much I like a good blend, and Joe Blow has potential. I'll be adding both of these to my wine shopping list!

Anyone else tried any of the others on these lists? What's your favorite wine name? Have you had good luck or bad luck picking a wine cause the label was cute or the name was funny?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

To blend or not to blend

I love a good blend. I really do. It's like you get the best of your favorite wines all in one. And who wouldn't want that?

I found a really great article on wine blends out on lovetoknow. Like, the only wines that make a true Bordeaux are:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Malbec
  • Petite Verdot
  • Carmenere
  • Cabernet Franc

  • My favorite blend right now is the Apothic Red. I've mentioned it here as a bottle that I always have on hand.

    I also like the Middle Sister Rebel Red. (Maybe because I'm the middle sister and I have red hair.)

    Another good one is Ménage à Trois Red (Not a big fan of their white blend though.)

    On the white side, my all time favorite white blend is Seven Daughters White Blend (But, their red blend doesn't do much for me.)

    I've had a really good Bordeaux that we bought from a friend who was selling Traveling Vineyard wines. We loved it and bought as many bottles as we could afford. But, I can't remember what it was called and their site won't let me search their cellar without a "consultant" name. Nuts!

    If you are feeling adventurous and want to make your own blend, you can give this a try. (And no, the dump bucket from your wine club is not a blend.)

    Any blend fans? What's your favorite?

    So, there are only 4 days left of this 31 day series. Any requests for a topic? Something you wish I'd talk about? Let me know!

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Cork screws

    Those poor corks. What did they ever do to get screwed? (I crack myself up.)

    When I first started drinking wine, this is what I used to open my bottles. (When I say "I," I really mean Sparky. I don't know that I ever really opened my own bottle of wine back in those days. I know, I'm spoiled.)

    But our really good friends had the Rabbit, so we went out and got one too.

    It worked ok, but had a few quirks.  We ended up going back to our original corkscrew. Until...

    We got this for Christmas from my SIL. (Can you hear the angel chorus?)

    Love this thing! It's gotten PLENTY of use and is still going strong.  It comes with a foil cutter which, to be honest isn't cutting as well as it did when we first got it, but still gets the job done.

    What about you? What do you use to open your favorite bottle of vino?

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Box out

    Back in the day, when I heard the words box wine. This is what immediately came to mind:


    I can't believe I was actually out on the Franzia website. Do you know what their tagline is? "The world's most popular wine." Huh. Not all that surprising I guess. I know my dad is a big fan. His favorite is their Chillable Red. (They don't even make the white zin anymore!)

    I'm not a big fan of either. Surprised? Yeah, I didn't think you would be.

    Box wines are a great option if you are having a big party. Just having a box of wine around  with only you to drink it? Not such a great idea. It's hard to keep track of how much you've drank. At least with a bottle you know when you've drank the whole thing half the bottle.  Drinking an entire box of wine in a single night is not something I recommend.  (Not that I've ever done such a thing. With Franzia White Zin. At my in-laws. That's just not something I would do.)

    Anywho, if you do decide to purchase a box of wine, might I recommend Black Box Wine? 

    I've had both the Chardonnay and the Cabernet and really liked them both. I don't believe I've had the Malbec, but I'm sure its great too.

    Any box wine fans out there? What's your favorite?

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Show me the cheese!

    I think I love cheese almost as much as I love wine. And, IMHO (in my humble opinion), a glass of wine isn't complete without cheese. Really don't care much about the crackers. Just gimme the cheese! SHOW ME THE CHEESE!

    I don't know what I'd do if I was lactose intolerant and couldn't eat cheese. Makes me wanna cry just thinking about it.

    Smoked gouda is my all time favorite. It's soooo good-a.  And goes great with just about everything...reds and whites.

    Another favorite is manchego. This one typically goes best with a stronger red. The only down side is it can get a little spendy. 

    You also can't go wrong with parmesan, cheddar and gruyere (a great Swiss!).

    I actually do most of my cheese shopping at Sam's Club. Waaay cheaper than the grocery store and the selection is decent. I can usually find what I'm looking for there. has a great list of wine and cheese pairings. One common theme you'll notice is gouda. Cause it's that fantabulous.

    What about you? Any favorite wine and cheese pairings? Or just cheese? Where do you get your best deal?

    Day off

    Obviously, I don't write my posts up front and schedule them since I missed yesterday (day 23).

    We had a house full of people all day yesterday for our daughter's baptism, and by the time everyone left and we got the house half way picked up and the kids in bed, I was beat.

    We did enjoy a couple of bottles of good wine though, the Louis M Martini 2009 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon and the Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling (and a random Moscato I picked up but can't remember the name of).  Can you tell my mom (aka Anonymous in the comments) and my sister were over? And, my SIL who doesn't really drink wine partook yesterday as well!

    I'll be back later tonight with another official day 24 post.

    Sunday, October 23, 2011


    It may be rare, but if you ever need to "save" a bottle of wine for the next day, I highly recommend the Houdini wine preserver.

    I got mine for my birthday, quite a few years ago, and LOVE it. Like, I bring it with me on most, if not all, of the trips I take.  It may be to my parent's, my sister's or my MIL's house. Wherever I think I might have to bring part of a bottle home with me.

    I know that you may find it hard to believe that I can't finish a bottle of wine in one night, but typically I don't. I usually have 2-2 1/2 glasses, then save the rest for the next day. And the Houdini makes sure it's almost as good as when I first pop the cork.

    Anyone else have any great wine preservers they use? Would love to hear about them!

    (I would like to apologize now for any typos or any other randomness in this post. I realized at 12:54 am, that I didn't do a post for day 22 and I've had a smidge too much wine...a couple of blends if you must know. Sigh. This 31 days business is tough!)

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Bettin' the house

    Ordering the house wine at most restaurants is like playing poker. Or maybe more like Russian roulette. You never know what you are going to get. And it could be potentially deadly. Well, maybe not deadly, but if you've ever had a REALLY bad glass of wine, you know what I mean.

    For example, a couple of weeks ago when I ordered the house Cab at what used to be a pretty nice restaurant where my MIL lives, I got Barefoot Cabernet individual twist off bottles. Not the greatest. (And yet, I still ordered another glass. Why? Cause the second glass can't be any worse than the first, can it? Anyone else do that?)

    The Rosso from Olive Garden? Not too bad. Not sure I'd buy a bottle of it, but I don't mind it.

    I'm pretty sure I can honestly say though, that after having a house wine I said, "Oh, I should go buy that one!"

    Why is that? I know they are typically cheaper and that restaurants make the majority of their money off of booze cause they can mark it up so high, but really. Why can't I get a good glass of house red wine?

    Maybe I'm expecting too much. I realize there are some places that don't cater to wine drinkers, so they just buy whatever is the cheapest for those that happen to drink it (I'm assuming this is what happened with the Barefoot Cab incident), but there are more and more people out there that are drinking wine these days (especially up here). And even more, that expect a good wine with their supper (or dinner if you don't live in the Dakotas).

    Maybe I live in the wrong part of the country to be ordering house wines.  I found this article, that talks about why you SHOULD order the house wine. Interesting.

    What about you? Any good house wines that made you want to go out and buy a bottle?

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Kiss my glass

    I drink out of the same two wine glasses pretty much all the time at my house. Reidel red wine glasses that we got at Target years ago. They came in a pack of four, but two have bit the dust. Getting banged on the side of the sink while washing them. Sniff. (Honestly, I can't believe they've lasted as long as they have. They've been packed up and moved at least three times.)
    We've got a couple more stemmed glasses that could be used for red or white, plus we've got quite a few stemless ones as well. For some reason, I typically drink white out of the stemless ones. They are also the ones that get brought out when we have company. And are the ones my mom grabs when she comes over.

    I wouldn't mind getting a few more nice wine glasses though. And luckily, this weekend we are in Minneapolis and going to the Mall of America (MOA). I can'te wait to hit up Williams-Sonoma and Crate&Barrel to see what they've got (in person).

    Sooooo many to choose from!

    But, do you really need a different glass for Zinfandel, Cabernet and Bordeaux?  Where do you draw the line?  I can see have red and white glasses, but I'm not sure about having them for every varietal.

    What about you? Do you have a favorite glass you always drink your wine out of? Maybe it's a red solo cup. No judging here, just curious.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Smoky the Bear

    We had a minor little fire in our backyard tonight. Scared the bajeezus out of me. We had a big pile of dead branches from a tornado that went through earlier this summer out in our trees. Well, tonight someone decided to start them on fire.

    Right after I put my oldest to bed, four boys came to my door asking if I was having a bonfire.

    Me: Um, no.

    Them: Well, there's a big fire in your backyard. Look out your window.

    (Run back into the house.)

    Me: Yikes! That's a big fire! Thanks guys!

    All is well and there was no damage. (And no dead branches to get rid of! Oh, darn.) It had mostly burned itself out by the time the fire department came. They put the last of the embers out and made sure that there were no hot spots.

    Anywho, our little "bonfire" got me thinking about fire and wine. And that got me thinking about A Walk in the Clouds with Keanu Reeves. Remember that movie?

    They are trying to ward off frost so the grapes don't freeze, but instead a big fire is started and takes out the whole vineyard. How awful would that be?

    Did you know that if a fire even gets CLOSE to a vineyard it can cause what's called smoke taint. Smoke taint can ruin an entire growing season. So sad. I can't even imagine losing an entire year's worth of work by something that doesn't touch a leaf.

    I think I need to have another a glass of wine to relax.  What are you doing to relax tonight? What's in your glass?

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Caramel corn anyone?

    When I saw a post about Caramel corn and Chardonnay from Lori over at Recipe Girl, I was intrigued. Caramel corn and Chardonnay? Really? Hmmm.


    I've pretty much moved on to reds for the cold months, but this might make me buy a bottle of Chardonnay.


    One of my favorites is Leaping Lizard. It was a wine club winner and it's my go to Chard.

    Any Chardonnay fans out there? What's your favorite? Have you ever tried it caramel corn?

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    Mull it over

    On my way to work, I was thinking of a topic for today and suddenly mulled wine popped into my head. The weather is starting to get cooler. And I'm always looking for a nice warm drink. If it has wine in it, even better.


    I've never had mulled wine (I don't think.) In theory, it sounds wonderful. I mean Sangria is great in the summer, why wouldn't mulled wine be great in the fall and winter?

    Ever heard of Glühwein? How's about Glögg? No? Me either. They are also forms of mulled wine. Glühwein is German and Glögg is Nordic. (I can't believe with all the Norskies around here, I've never heard of Glögg before.)

    There all all kinds of recipes out there if you do a search. And they all sound delish. I might have to try one soon.

    Mulled Wine Recipes

    Anyone ever had mulled wine? Did you make it yourself? What's your favorite recipe?

    Sunday, October 16, 2011


    I don't think I've come across a zin that I didn't like. A red zin, that is. Not white zin. Blech.

    (Anyone else picking up a theme here? Are there ANY wines that I come across that I don't like? Not many. Proof can be seen here.)

    Here are two of my all time faves.

    Rosenblum Cellars Vinter's Cuvee Zinfandel

    The Rosenblum Zin was a winner at one of our wine clubs.  It's one of my husband Sparky's faves too.  (I also found a neat write up about it at

    This is what the label looked like when I first started buying it.

    They've changed up their labels, and now it looks like this. (Took me a while to realize it was the same wine.)  

    I actually had this just last night with a burger. I hadn't had it in a while and it was better than I remembered! Love this one with grilled red meat. MMMM.

    Out on wineaccess, they have a list of producers to try...I haven't tried any of them, but maybe I should.

    Anyone else think zins are as fantastic as me?

    Saturday, October 15, 2011

    Corks, corks and more corks

    Hi my name is Jill. ("Hi Jill.") And I have a cork problem.

    (Apparently I need to touch up the trim too.)

    I've seen people doing projects with corks where they have to go Goodwill or some other source to get enough corks for their project.

    Yeah, I don't think I'll need to do that.

    It was also kind of fun to pick through all these corks.  Some that I haven't drank in years and my new faves.  

    Sorry, Sarge...I don't think you stand a chance.

    Guess I need to get on Pinterest and see what I can do with them all. Oh, darn.

    What about you? Do you have a cork problem?

    (And cause it always cracks me up, here's a little video for your viewing pleasure.)

    A day late...

    Yeah, I know. No post yesterday. I decided to watch a movie with Sparky instead of writing. And, I wasn't all that inspired to write anything about wine.

    I'll try to make up for it with a post later today and one tomorrow.

    In the meantime, you go check out days 1-13.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Whatchya buyin'?

    A sad thing happened a couple days ago. I drank my last bottle of red wine. Aaaack! My wine fridge was empty! Made me want to cry.

    I was able to duck into my local bottle shop after work on my way to pick up the kids. I needed to do it before I picked them up, since it's illegal here for anyone under the age of 21 to even ENTER a liquor store. Anywho, that's a whole different topic of which I'm sure my mom would have an opinion. And it probably wouldn't be the same as mine.

    So, what did I come home with? Well, I usually try to pick up at least one bottle of something I haven't tried before along with my standbys. These days I've been mainly getting cabs (cabernet sauvignon), malbecs and blends.


    I haven't had this one before. And no, I didn't pay $18 for it. It was on sale, so I probably paid more like $11 or $12.

    This one was on sale as well and I'm pretty sure I've had it before, but can't remember.


    This is a new one for me! Looking forward to trying it.

    Red Rock is always one that I like to have in my wine fridge.

    (Suzanne - I was too cheap for the Layer Cake! But if I ever see it on sale I'm going to pick up a bottle.)


    I'm enjoying the Family Harvest Red as I'm writing this post. I'm trying it for the first time and I like it. I will more than likely buy it again. (I'm thinking this was on sale, but I can't remember.)

    Apothic Red is another one that I always like to have on hand. Can't go wrong with it.

    Just to give you a general idea of the price point I typically go after, my total for this trip came to a little over $70 for 6 bottles of wine.

    What about you? What's in your wine rack or wine fridge? What's on your list the next time you make a trip to the liquor store? Do you have a plan of attack when going wine shopping?

    (I include pictures of the bottles, cause I'm a visual learner and if hear the name and see the picture, I'll remember them better than just hearing the name. And some of the bottles/labels are just cool.)