Got Merlot?

  Farmgirl in Saint Émilion (right bank of Bordeaux) November 2016   “You had me at hello.” A line made famous by Dorothy Boyd, the love interest in the film “Jerry Maguire.” However, if Dorothy had been a sommelier, she may have said, “You had me at Merlot.” And, with good reason. Merlot, French for little blackbird because of its very dark fruit, is naturally versatile, acclimating to different climate zones and soil compositions, which, over time, have made it the second most planted red grape on the planet, behind its brother from Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot can be big and rich, but also fruity and soft, without being overly high in acids or tannins. These characteristics make Merlot an elegant and easy choice to drink as well as pair with food. If that doesn’t spark your interest in Merlot, maybe this will.  You know all those famous red wines from Bordeaux? Wines that are considered some of the best in the world?  Well, they’re all blended with Merlot.  And, many are mostly Merlot—especially, on the right bank of the Gironde estuary in the Bordeaux appellation, where it’s the law that Merlot has to be the predominant grape.  Of course, the most famous Merlot wine is undoubtedly Pétrus (100% Merlot) from the Pomerol region of Bordeaux.  This highly collectable wine can fetch several thousand dollars, depending on its vintage. You may not be as familiar with Merlot’s positive attributes, especially post “Sideways”—a 2004 film […]

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Got Tenacity?

  This sunflower inspires me.  I’ve planted these cheerful blooms in my garden a number of times, and they haven’t come up—maybe, because the birds ate the seeds.  I really don’t know. But, two summers ago, this little sunflower sprung up in the backyard of its own volition.  It didn’t just grow….it thrived.  To my surprise and joy, it bloomed and bloomed and bloomed…all summer.  This eager little flower, in its simplicity and loveliness, grew into a flourishing plant.  And, it accomplished this feat despite a lack of proper planting, no fertilizer, and without consistent watering.  I admire this sunflower for what it symbolizes to me:  determination, perseverance, and tenacity.   “Tenacity”   by Tonya R. Hengerer   Tireless Effort to resist Negative thinking And overcome difficulties, while summoning Courage In spite of Tough times—never Yielding.     “Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.” ~James A. Michener   “If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” ~H.G. Wells

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All That Sparkles

I absolutely love fizzy and sparkling wines!  And, since New Year’s Eve celebrations are fast approaching, I thought it may be fun and helpful to share some information about Champagne and sparkling wines. Champagne: First, all that sparkles isn’t Champagne.  Sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it’s from the Champagne region of France and made in the traditional method (méthode champenoise). The traditional method is a labor intensive, multi-step process (two fermentations) that contributes to the expense.  Champagne can be made from three grapes:  chardonnay and red-skinned pinot noir and pinot meunier.  Sometimes the label will use the terms “blanc de blancs” meaning the wine was made from white grapes, or “blanc de noirs” indicating that the Champagne is a white wine made from the dark pinot noir and pinot meunier varieties. There are also different levels of dryness/sweetness in Champagne: Brut Nature/Brut Zero:  Bone dry.  No residual sugar. Extra Brut:  very dry Brut: very dry to dry Extra-Sec or Extra Dry:  off-dry to medium dry Sec:  medium dry Demi-Sec:  sweet Doux:  super sweet *Special note:  More Champagne houses from France are opening vineyards in California: Roederer Estate (by Champagne Louis Roederer), Domaine Chandon (by Moët & Chandon), Mumm Napa (by G.H. Mumm), and Domaine Carneros (by Taittinger) are a few of the French producers in California. Sparkling Wines: Crémant:  French sparkling wine that is made outside of the Champagne region in France but produced using the traditional […]

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Peanut Butter Spice Cookies

I. LOVE. Peanut butter.  So, it makes sense that I would also love peanut butter cookies; however, it’s not just the taste that endears me to this special treat.  It’s also the memories.  When I was a girl, peanut butter cookies were always the cookie I wanted to make with Mom.  I so enjoyed rolling the little balls of dough in my hands and using a fork to make the crisscross design atop the cookie.  And, very often, peanut butter cookies were the treat awaiting Santa Claus on Christmas Eve at my house. This recipe for peanut butter cookies is unbelievably easy, only requiring four ingredients:  sugar, peanut butter, an egg, and vanilla extract.  The peanut butter flavor really shines through, especially since there isn’t any flour.  For such a simple recipe, the taste is amazing! A few years ago when making these cookies, I decided to modify Mom’s recipe a bit.  I really like ginger.  So, for a twist, I added ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and crystallized ginger.  Oh, and I also placed a few chocolate chips on top for good measure.  The result: yummy, yummy cookies! These peanut butter spice cookies turned out to be delicious; and, if you’re looking for the perfect wine to pair with them, a Malmsey Madeira works well.  Enjoy!   Peanut Butter Spice Cookies: *Use organic ingredients when possible. Ingredients: 1 cup peanut butter 1 cup sugar (1/2 cup raw cane sugar & 1/2 cup […]

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Tuesday Tunes: Feeling Festive

I LOVE wandering around vintage/antiques stores.  You know the kind—where there’s everything from beautiful, old quilts to those tacky Smurf drinking glasses you just had to collect when you were a child. The fun thing is you never know what you may find….treasure or trinkets.  But, it’s all good stuff! Well, recently, while enjoying a lazy afternoon in one of these delightful shops, I discovered an item that grabbed my attention…a pillow with small, red bells on the corners and the phrase, “Get Your Jingle On.”  I laughed out loud! Anyway, the more I thought about this whimsical pillow, the more I decided that I really needed it.  I thought, “What a good reminder of this season of love and goodwill.” So, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, tired, or stressed-out, put on some festive music, remember your blessings, and think about all the wonderful things you can do to reflect light into our world by offering a kind word, a bright smile, or a helpful hand. Go ahead, “GET YOUR JINGLE ON.”     As you can see, Clementine, Dash, and Bizou love the pillow, especially the bells. 🙂 Wishing you a week full of joy and lots of jingles! 

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This Above All…

Farmgirl posing before school on picture day Circa 1977     “I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” ~Brené Brown   “Never betray your values. Never betray yourself.” ~Walter Rieley (My dad)   “This above all: to thine own self be true…” ~William Shakespeare   […]

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