Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I'm not going to mince words...November sucked. It was perhaps the worst month for us ever. Luckily, December is a lot better, & it's not even over yet.

Let me start with the biggest news - I got a promotion! Weird, huh? It wasn't a "Claire, you've done such a wonderful job for us over the last 6+ years, so now we're making you a manager" kind of promotion, but nonetheless, a promotion. You see, I was approached by a manager in my department about a job, & after talking about it & interviewing with a couple of different people, the job was mine. Yay, me! It's very scary stuff, though...I've never done what I'll be doing. In fact, I never even considered doing it, maybe because I thought it would never be an option. Hell, I can't even pronounce most of my job duties! Despite this, the stars aligned just so, & BAM! New job, with a 5.4% increase...not too shabby in this economy, & certainly not when upper management sent an email out not too long ago saying no one would get a raise this year. (I don't mean to be cryptic, but this is the internet, after all, & I'd rather not discuss specifics about my job. I know, you get it.) Just in time, too - I was feeling very trapped & beginning to wonder if my letter opener would be sufficient enough to slit my wrists. (Kidding...but I really did hate my job!) So, on December 29th, I start my new position....

....the day after we get back from Jamaica!

Go ahead, hate on me. You know you want to.... Ok, that's enough now.

This Saturday, Doug & I get on a plane & head to Couples San Souci! We haven't had a vacation since the end of April, & we're long overdue. To say that we're excited is putting it mildly. Very. We'll be gone for 9 days. Can I just tell you how much fun it is to spend Christmas on a beach? Away from the dysfunction, the craziness, the rushing around...it's bliss. Just imagine...an 80° Christmas with a swim-up bar, reggae, & a lot of rum. Dirty Bananas. Pina Coladas, Hummingbirds. Even the dreaded Bob Marley shot - hey, I'm no wimp. Shall I continue? No schedule, incredible food, & amazingly beautiful surroundings...sleeping, reading, playing, or just vegging out looking at the water. I can do that for hours. And the kicker? My husband, the scrooge, wants to bring a string or 2 of lights to hang on our balcony. If you could only know how major that is...

So yeah, December has treated us much better than its predecessor. Sure, Doug's mom & Charles (oh, how I miss that boy) are still gone & there's no bringing them back, but aside from what I was just talking about, both of our vehicles are running as they should, we ditched our colds (I can't tell you how great it was to enjoy wine!), & we've had a little bit of a break from our seemingly grueling schedule. Those are just a few things, but at the top of our list is the love & support we've felt from our friends. We've always known we have an abundance of outstanding people in our lives, & we feel very, very blessed.

Oh, & it's 18° out with snow & ice on the ground...but Doug & I just came in from our hot tub.

Yeah...we know how to roll.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Not the usual Thanksgiving post...

Under normal circumstances, I might write about which wines we chose to take to Thanksgiving, how dysfunctional our combined family's Thanksgiving dinner is, & our yearly escape to Nashville the day after. Under normal circumstances, it'd probably be a damn funny read.

But these aren't normal circumstances.

The month of November hasn't been a good one. It's been heavy with stress, disappointment, frustration, sickness, & sadness. I'm not going to go into all of that on this blog, but there is one particular thing that I will talk about - some of the sadness.

Charles, who we'd been treating for hip dysplasia for months, took a terrible, horrifying turn for the worse late Saturday night. Charles had pulled through so many hard times in the past that we weren't quite willing to count him out just yet. We had hope late Sunday night when he was up walking around, but by morning, that hope was gone.

All day long, I held back tears. I had to be at work - they tend to frown on emergencies for dogs, regardless of how one feels about them. I need my job, so I spent the day riddled with sorrow & guilt. I wanted to be with Charles, & to take him out of his pain, but there was nothing I could do until the evening.

Charles needed us to do one last thing for him, so Doug & I were on the floor at Charles' side, petting him, when he died at Dr. Gwen's office at about 5:20 Monday evening. How I wish he could have heard us, I had things to say...but I believe he knew what I wanted to tell him anyway. He passed quickly & calmly. He has new hips & is running around somewhere with Lexie, he can hear & he's no longer in any pain. While we have peace knowing that we did the right thing for him, our hearts are broken.

I'd love to write a beautiful post about Charles & how much we loved him, but I'm afraid I'm just not up to it right now. I can only say that he was the most beautiful & sweet dog, & a very treasured member of our family. Not "like" a member of the family - Doug & the dogs are my family. Charles had the softest fur & loved being petted more than anything. He was a very happy boy & seemed to be constantly smiling. He was, before he lost his hearing, our staunchest defender -which was always very surprising because of his gentleness. He never hesitated to let that leaf blowing across our yard know that it should move on to the neighbor's house. Charles taught me a lot about patience....having a deaf dog can be tough, especially when the dog isn't the smartest. These things Charles couldn't help, but it was impossible to be angry at him for any reason. I wish I could do him more justice in this post, but I just can't.

Our house is far too quiet now. Charles made more noise than any of the others, he always had a very heavy, plodding step & liked to walk around at night. Mattie misses her best friend - while she seems to know what happened, she still looks for him every morning to play. Piper is very confused, & Bella keeps looking for him. They are all sticking very close to us - they know we are sad.

We're doing the best that we can, although that's not saying much. As for me, my emotional state keeps changing - I'm fine, then I'm crying. I'm numb, & then I'm too sad to even cry, but the tears end up coming anyway. (Luckily, I'm usually at home or in the car when this happens, I hate to cry.) Other times, they sneak up on me - not having to step over the spot where he was always sleeping, not having to stomp on the floor to get his attention, or catching myself using his signals... Those are just a few things. It's just going to take time for all of us to get better, & that sucks. But we WILL get better. We have to. In the meantime, we're always going to miss our boy.



Elf Charles


Saturday, November 1, 2008

My Birthday Suit

Hey, Mattie here. It's been a while since I've popped in, & since Mom's not looking, why not?

So, yesterday was my birthday. I'm 14 years old. 14! People say that's really old for a dog like me. Heh, I don't really feel old, so whatever. I might be getting a little grumpier in my old age, but hey, I've been through a lot, I like my comfort, & my little sister Piper gets on my damn nerves. I think I deserve to be spoiled & set in my ways.

For my birthday, Mom & Dad took the day off, but all they did was run errands & work around the house. No fun, but the house looked good. Then Dad put me in this:


At first, I was a little pissed - no one ever put me in a costume before. That was always Lexie's thing, & she actually liked it. (I really miss her, by the way.) Anyway, apparently Dad bought the costume for Bella, but then decided that since it was my 14th birthday, I should be the one to wear it. Ugh. But then Mom & Dad got into costumes, & then our friends showed up in their costumes, & everyone was telling me how cute I looked, & then it wasn't so bad. Then I remembered all of the Batman movies I've seen & how cool he is, & I figured Dad did right by me, as always. Even so, I don't get why people dress up for my birthday...it's just weird.

But the sleeves were too long, so I kept stepping on them. Screw that. I got out of it.

People were here pretty late, & everyone was having such a good time. Everyone looked funny in their costumes, too. And you should see our house now - there are bottles everywhere because Mom was mixing up a bunch of drinks for everyone. I heard someone say that she should open a bar...good idea in theory, but when would she ever have time? I'd much rather she stay home with me all day.

She's home with me now, & that's what counts. They'll be leaving very soon because they have to go make that money crap. I don't think I'll ever get my head around that, but whatever. I just wish they'd leave the bedroom door open so that I can crash on the bed. They won't, though, because Mom really likes her really nice sheets & she says I'll tear them up. So this will have to do:


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We Haz New Toy

Sorry about the LOL speak, but sometimes it just fits.

In the few spare moments we've had lately, we decided to buy something that we've been wanting to buy for a while now... a hot tub! My neck & shoulders have really been feeling a lot of stress, so a hot tub ought to help. I sure hope so - it can really suck!

Since I'm tired & - guess what - short on time, I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.

You just can't plop a hot tub in your backyard, hook it up, & hop in, so preparations needed to be made. However, Doug got a little Craigslist-happy (so easy to do) & we found ourselves with an unseen hot tub for $200. For that price, we figured if it worked, cool, if not, oh well.


Yeah, it's ugly & dumpy. Doug said the guy was a total hoosier to boot, so I'm glad I didn't go for the pickup. However, we were hopeful things would work with a ittle elbow grease.

Like I said, you can't just plop & go - we needed to have a flat surface....

With Bella's supervision (of course), Doug started digging.


"Hey, you're not finished here!"


"Lazy ass...looks like I'll have to show him what real work ethic looks like..."


"If Dad was digging here, it must be ok. Yay, I love to dig!"

Dig, Bella, dig!


Bella told Piper that this was way too much work for one dog, so Piper helped.


For a little while....then Piper got tired.


I tried to get a shot of Doug & Bella digging together, but it just didn't work out. Take my word for it, it was really cute. Bella was thrilled -- a sanctioned dig! It took some of the sting out of having the holes in the back corner - the ones that she's been working on for years - filled in with the extra dirt. (She wasn't happy, & still isn't. She's back at it again.)

Once the digging was complete, Doug finished the patio. I helped a little by sweeping a crapload of sand into the cracks between the paver stones. Oh yeah, & I picked the pavers!

Soon after seeing this, Doug decided the $200 tub was a waste of time & money...


I know, I don't get it either.

We did a little talking, a little shopping, & when we got home today, this is what we saw:


Looky there! A used-but-in-good-condition hot tub (with a warranty!), & they took the old nasty one away! SCORE!!!


Doug says he's still got some work to do, but we're almost there. He worked on some rewiring tonight. Hopefully, we'll be able to get in our hot tub by this time next week! It's got 4 seats, but we think 5, maybe 6, people can fit. How much fun!

I wonder what bottle we'll decide to pop open for the inaugural soak....

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hello, Blog

Wow. It's been a while.

Not because I've wanted to stay away, but because I just had other stuff that took precedence - you know, like work, for once - or I just haven't had the energy or inspiration. I'm just not one of those "this is what I did today" writers, not that there's anything wrong with that. (As an aside, I use the term "writer" loosely. Whenever Doug is talking about stuff he did that I can't do, I've been known to call myself an "international writer" just to one-up... Yeah, I think I'm funny.) However, this thing needed a good dusting off, so here I go.

We've got another busy weekend lined up, & tonight's no exception, so I decided to stroll over to Starbucks for a pick-me-up. I was really hoping for a Pumpkin Spice latte', but since it's a tiny little university shop, I was out of luck. A caramel macchiato will have to do, even though it's not a true macchiato - it's actually just a caramel latte', but oh well. It's damn good, & I'm going to enjoy it & hope that I can drown out the sound of my coworkers quacking.

Let's focus on something a little more positive. Like the fact that it's Friday afternoon, & I'm getting out 30 minutes early. Well, I did come in 30 minutes early, but it's just nice to get off early. Granted, it's work - our side business, of course - but at least it'll be quick & painless (I hope, I hope).

Something else that's positive - we're looking forward to a schedule slowdown, even though it won't happen until 11/16. But hey - we survived the VP debate (we did, but I don't think one of the candidates can really say that), & we're almost through our own very busy season, so I can see the end in sight...& it looks beautiful. I need a break. I mean, we haven't been on vacation since coming back from Mexico on 5/3! That's a long time, people....

Speaking of vacation, we're really looking forward to our 3rd annual Thanksgiving weekend Nashville trip. It's only a weekend, but for those of you that know me, we can't get out of town fast enough after spending Thanksgiving Day with our family. Hey, you can't judge unless you come to it 2 years in a row. Why 2 years? Because they're on their best behavior the first year (& that's not saying much), so you need to come back after they've loosened up a little. Any takers? Ok, that's what I thought.

Sadly, my friends, I have to wrap this mostly directionless post up. And not to be political, but let me leave you with some pictures that have entertained me for days now... (Really, people, this is supposed to be funny, so don't choose to be offended. Choose to have a damn sense of humor!)

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

And to be fair....

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

One more...

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

Oh, come on - you know that shit was funny, regardless of what side you're on!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


My, my...it's been a long time! Too long. I have things I should be doing rather than blogging, but I'm home alone & I don't feel like doing much other than drink some beer, watch some stuff that's been squatting on our DVR, & pay some attention to my darling blog.

Let's get something straight - I don't do tags. I'm just not good at following orders when I'm not on the clock, & I like to write what I want to write when I want to write it. Or at least when I can write it...by now, we all know that there's a big difference between wanting to do something & actually being able to do it.

However, this time is different! My good pal Lucy tagged me the other day for the second time (I think), & I just can't refuse her. You see, every single weekday morning, I can count on going to her page & seeing something new...& it always makes me smile if not laugh outright. I'm usually sitting at work - desperately wishing I didn't have to be there - when I read her very clever & informative posts, & I look forward to it every time. Yes, even when it's about tomatoes.

So here goes - 7 random things about me:

1. I have a real problem sitting with my back to the door of a restaurant, bar, or even a cubicle (I'm not important enough to have an actual office, but I'm sure it'd be the same way if I had one). What can I say? I'm 1/2 Italian & my friend Thom shares my belief that it's simply in my blood. There's no other explanation for it - I really don't think that someone is going to come up & shoot me. But hey, in case someone does, it's good to be prepared - I'd like to at least give the bastard a dirty look.

2. Speaking of being Italian...for those of you that don't know, I'm adopted. Nope, I don't know who my natural parents are, nor do I really care to. Not because I have any resentment, it just doesn't interest me (other than for medical records, which I may deal with someday). I mean, really - if I were to meet them, what would I say - "Hi, how are you? So...what have you been up to for the last 39 years?" I don't think so. The only things I know are that my parents were very young, & that along with being Italian, I'm also 1/4 Syrian & 1/4 Greek. Heh...good thing I learned to control my temper. Anyway, while being adopted certainly has created a few issues, it really hasn't been that big of a deal. Doug happens to love it - he's comforted in the knowledge that I won't be like either of my parents. Yup, he'll take a total crapshoot over that mess.

3. If I'm talking to someone with poorly groomed eyebrows, I have a hard time concentrating on the conversation. Sadly, it happens a lot. I just don't get it...some are waaay too thin (I once worked with someone who had plucked her eyebrows so that they were only 2 hairs thick!), some are completely untouched & practically growing into their hairline, & then there are those that copy what their mother has always done...nothing like a 30-something woman with, uh, retro eyebrows.

4. I only daydream when I'm in motion. I can't seem to do it otherwise. Seriously, I get bored & need to do something if I'm I'm just hanging around. I know, weird.

5. Careerwise, I'm one of the least ambitious people that I know. I have a decent enough job, too bad I don't like it that much. It's a living, at least for now, & I have my reasons for staying. It's definitely not my "calling", & if I even have one of those, I really don't think that it has a thing to do with work. Aside from my job, my life rocks, so if I'm only meant to be Doug's wife, mom to our dogs, & the chick that drinks wine & blogs once in a while, then so be it!

6. Doug & I have only been "into" wine for about 4 or 5 years. Some people think we've been big fans our whole lives, but no, it's just over a short amount of time. How have we learned so much? We just go to a ton of tastings...& we PAY ATTENTION & we try everything that's offered. Well, except for White Zin - there's just no point in that! Anyway, that's how we've learned so much. In comparison to some people we know, we don't know diddley, but that's ok. There's always going to be something we can learn about wine, & the education is always fun.

7. I love socks. Yeah, flip-flops are great in the summer, & I wear them a lot, but I'm happiest in socks. Particularly this one black pair....they're made of bamboo, they haven't faded at all, & they're the softest trouser socks ever. Even as I dread having to leave home to go to work, I have a moment of comfort - almost bliss - when I put those socks on my feet.

There, 7 random things. Again, I don't do tags, so play along only if you choose to. Oh, I could go on with more randomness, but Doug just got home, so I won't. The poor guy's been at work since about 6 a.m., & he just told me that after tonight, he won't be home until sometime Friday . Yes...you read that correctly...until sometime Friday!! That blows. The only thing good about it is that it's all overtime pay, but even so, we're not sure it's worth it. He's going to be so tired, & so busy that he won't get much time, if any to rest, but at least it'll all be over soon. I feel really bad for him.

Now, if I could just convince the dogs that my way is as good as Doug's, I just might make it through this week.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Highs & Lows

I'm exhausted. Well, extremely tired at the very least - aren't you supposed to check into rehab for "exhaustion"? I certainly don't want to do that... that celebrity excuse is pretty exhausting in itself. Anyway, this 3:30 a.m. crap has taken it's toll already - & we're not even doing it every day. My body & mind are both convinced that I have to get up that early, so I find myself awake - sometimes for hours - waiting for the alarm to go off. Let me tell you - that sucks. The lack of decent sleep has wreaked havoc on my ability to concentrate, my mood, my stress level & everything else.

I need a damn vacation. Fiercely.

After a hellishly busy day peppered with running into brick walls & interactions with people that seemed determined to make my life difficult, Doug & I were looking forward to enjoying some wine. You know, something new for us. But first, Doug wanted to finish digging a hole in the backyard, which meant I had to wait. I don't do that well after a day like today. Crap.

He finished in about 90 minutes & we grabbed a bottle that we'd been looking forward to trying. It was a gift from a friend, & we'd never had the varietal before, so we were intrigued. It was an Italian varietal called Arneis, which is a very old grape grown in Piemonte. It's not something that you're going to run into often because this grape is very difficult to cultivate & tends to have very low yields. Sometimes it's used in blending to lessen tannins in red wine, like Viogner is used in the Northern Rhone - I'm sure that the importer from my last post would've told me that this area, too, is in France. Eh, whatever. This particular bottle of Arneis, however, was from Sonoma (which is where, class?), & everything we'd read about the varietal sounded great. At the end of a shitty day, we had high hopes.

Those hopes were dashed into oblivion as soon as I took a sniff of the glass that Doug handed me. I looked at him with horror & he immediately stuck his nose in his glass. Uh oh, not good...but we needed to confirm our suspicions. Doug tried to challenge me to a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to determine who would actually taste the wine, but I wasn't havin' it. With as much as we were looking forward to trying this wine, we were going to be sure, damn it.

Blech...the wine was corked! What a tragedy! Thankfully, this doesn't happen to us very often, but when it does, it's so, so sad. Especially when this blog is Claire Uncorked, not Claire Corked! But hey - lucky us, we just so happened to have more wine! So we dumped the bad stuff, grabbed some fresh glasses, drank some water to get rid of the leftover taste of the tainted wine, & pulled out a wine that had proven itself time & time again.

The 2007 Enotria Rosato, from the Graziano Family of Wines in Mendocino County, CA. That's right, I'm writing about rose' again, so get over it. Drink 'em while you can, that's my motto. Or one of them, anyway. We popped it open, took a sniff & knew that the day was finally going to end right.

Like the ill-fated Arneis, this wine is also made from an Italian varietal grown in California (a Cal-Ital). This was a Dolcetto rose', & I love Dolcetto. Sadly, I've often been a wee bit disappointed by rose' made from Italian varietals...but not this one. Cranberries, raspberries, & strawberries with fabulous acidity & a watermelon color make this one happy little wine. That made me & Doug very happy, not-so-little people. Finally!

Drinking wine from Enotria brings back happy memories. We shared a bottle of the Rosato with the Luces before Krystal & Jenn showed up at our house a few weeks ago for the first convening of "Operation Blogistan" (named by Lucy). A few hours later, we plowed through both the Dolcetto & Barbera, & found them both to be absolutely delightful. In the St. Louis area, you can find all of them at Lukas Liquor or anywhere that does business with Golden Barrel Distributing. You won't be sorry, I promise.

Speaking of that wonderful day - & to gloss over the rather rough day after - let me close by sharing some photos I took of some of the non-drinking crew.


That's Annabelle, one of the Luce Whippets, with Piper, our youngest. They've become best friends - Mr. Luce says that Annabelle is the moon to Piper's planet, & it's so true. Annabelle longs to be huge like Piper, while Piper just wishes she could be fast enough to keep up with her. Piper's also thrilled that another dog actually wants her around. The poor girl just annoys the shit out of the other 3 in our house, especially Mattie, so a playdate with Annabelle means that Piper will be fully appreciated by one of her peers.


All of that drinking & laughing by the people, coupled by the constant running & playing in my backyard, just wore all of the dogs out. The Luce Whippets, Annabelle & Charlotte, are just too cute curled up in their bed together, aren't they?

So cute, in fact, that Charles decided to see if it had the same effect for him...


You be the judge.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Distraction is Necessary

It's early. 5:15 a.m. I've been up since the should-be-illegal hour of 3:30 this morning, & now I'm at work. Shocking, I know. Horrifying, even! Here's the really scary part - I did this yesterday, too, & I'll probably be doing it a few more times throughout the month of September. Now, I know you're asking yourself why I'm doing this. Don't worry, you're not alone - I'm still asking myself.

Here's why - the VP Debate on October 2nd. Weird, huh? No, not really. You see, it's coming to where Doug works, & he's an electrician. (Actually, he's the main one for this shin-dig, aside from the engineers.) He has to set up all of the power for the now-massive media center that will provide all of us with the coverage. (It didn't start out being too massive, but now with all the hoopla surrounding these VP picks, it's just crazy.) This means a lot of overtime, which means really early mornings. He even has to work late on some nights. Our other business is hopping all month, too. Hey, I need shoes. Poor Doug.

Not to discount the love of my life, but poor me, too. If Doug's up early on a work day, I'm up early, too. I'm too paranoid of oversleeping, not hearing the alarm, the alarm not going off... so I get up & go with him on the days he doesn't have to work. Crazy, huh? Well, sort of. If you look at it from a financial standpoint, it makes sense. We're not paying for 2 vehicles' gas & parking - & believe me, where I work, it costs a freakin' fortune to park in a relatively safe place. That, & I'd just really rather not drive if I don't have to. There are times that I love to drive - but never to work. Heh. I'm spoiled. And tired as hell. Bitchy is destined to follow, & probably not my trademark delightfully bitchy, either....

So, distraction is the name of the game so that I don't fall asleep with my head on my desk. That wouldn't be comfortable, nor would it go over well with the powers that be. And so, my friends, I write.

At this point, I'm going to restrain myself from spouting off my views on the election. I'm not a political dynamo, nor do I wish to be, & I absolutely hate it when people debate. I've made my decision, & I doubt that will change. I will say that one of the VP picks pushed me off the proverbial fence, & that I'm very irritated by some of the things that are happening. However, I have no control over that until the election, & even then, I only have control over my teeny-tiny vote. Gah, politics.

How about a change of subject? I'm irked enough because I'm so tired, so let's talk about last night.

Since it was Thursday night, & our favorite haunt, Veritas Gateway to Food & Wine, has its weekly wine bar, Doug & I decided to get out of the house. (I've written about this place before, & how much we love it.) They just hired a new chef, so we were excited to see what he had to offer. When we walked in, we were greeted by one of the owners & several of the staff (who know us by name, which is so nice), & then we headed to the tasting bar.

They had an importer on hand to pour & talk about the wines. We usually really like this because we get to learn a little while we taste. Most of the time, Doug & I will select our bottle from the rep's lineup to more or less be polite. But not last night.

This guy poured us a rather lovely White Burgundy, which is Chardonnay, for those of you that don't know the French wine regions. Heh. Like I'm some master...but since I taste & drink a good amount of wine, I'm figuring it out. It's actually quite simple for Burgundy - reds are Pinot Noir, unless it's a Beaujolais - then it's Gamay - & whites are Chardonnay. See? Easy! Ok, enough of my little lesson, I hope I didn't put you to sleep. Anyway, since we were the youngest people in Veritas (we usually are, unless we go with the Luces, they're younger pups), I guess the importer dude took us for total novices.

Importer Dude: This is a White Burgundy, Dom Perraud, Macon. It's from Burgundy... that's in France.

Maybe we were just too tired - usually this stuff just amuses us - but I really had to bite my tongue to keep from saying "Really? I thought it was just a color." I didn't, & just nodded my head politely. The importer dude went on pouring his other wines - all still from Burgundy, which, as we now know, is in France - & speaking to us like we were just kids that were there to get some free wine. I could feel the tensions rising from my beloved, easygoing husband...not good. Luckily, the other owner that we hadn't seen yet came to the importer's rescue & started talking to us about the wine & then the importer dude figured it out.

Yeah - we're younger than everyone else in this place. We're dressed in jeans & a t-shirt & we probably look a bit rough. And we know that Burgundy is in France... I think that most people do. Like I said, we were probably just too tired. Both of our work days were craptastic, too. We were a little irked, so we didn't buy the guy's juice. (For the record, it was good, but not fabulous.)

So, what did we end up drinking? I suppose the spirit of the election drove us to select an American wine, so we went with the 2005 Plungerhead Dry Creek Valley Old Vine Zinfandel. I'm not gonna lie - we adore Zin, but we picked it largely because of the name & the label because both made us laugh.


See what I mean?! And you know what? It was really good. It had a rather subtle nose at first, but it was smooth & had wonderful raspberry, black cherry, maybe even some chocolate & blackberry flavors, along with that fabulous spice you get from Zinfandel. Very easy drinking, & at a decent price - we were quite pleased.

Every time I drink a good Zin, I kick myself for not buying more of my all-time favorite for that varietal (so far), the 2002 Dashe Cellars Todd Brothers Ranch Zinfandel. Oh. My. Goodness. That's a lovely wine. We drank it last October & haven't forgotten it. At about $30 a bottle, it makes a stupendous treat...& gives you a nice buzz. It's a big one, clocking in at 14.9% alcohol. Doug & I were actually giddy halfway through the damn bottle... (Note to self: buy the damn Dashe. You love it.)

Back to Veritas for a sec - the food was outstanding. We had a filet stuffed with Mushroom Duxelle & Bleu Cheese, with Bordelaise & Lyonnaise potatoes (sounds fancy, eh?), & Chicken Surprise a la Andy... all I know is that it had capers & was ridiculously yummy. Cheers to the new chef!

Ok, the whole blogging thing isn't enough anymore. I need to go drown myself in coffee. Heaven help me.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


It only took me forever to post, but I'd like to share a couple of my latest discoveries, finds, whatever, with you. Not that it's all about material things, of course, but I have to say, I'm pretty impressed.

I love Etsy, but it's one dangerous place for a girl like me to hang out. You know, I get bored at work fairly often & find myself checking things out online. This probably happens way too much, but hey - it is what it is. I recently made a purchase from a shop called ShopLimelight, & I'm very excited to use them. (That link was your clue to at least take a look...so long as you come back here.) Check out these napkin rings:


Aren't those awesome?! Real shells, & a real starfish! I was so stoked to find these, but I held onto them in my favorites for a while...& then one day - voila! They were on SALE! I snatched those babies right up. Never mind that I have no cloth napkins at this time - they met their unfortunate demise in a rather strange accident that I'd rather not get into...

Because Etsy tends to be a friendly place, the shop owner Betsy & I had a few conversations, & I told her that I would (eventually) feature her shop on my blog. Betsy checked me out, decided she liked me, & sent me a bonus! Thanks, Betsy!


A set of 8 cotton cocktail napkins! Thanks to Betsy, I've taken another tiny step toward greener living. Al Gore would be so proud.

I used these beauties for the first time when our pals Shan & Sean came over a few weeks ago for our usual evening of slightly excessive consumption of great wine & very good times.


Don't they look lovely under our wine? I think so, & we enjoyed using them! What a lovely gift. (Someday soon, I hope to add pictures of those incredible napkin rings in use, too.)

Might I add that it was one of our favorite wines, the Bin 36 Merlot. You'll drink this fuckin' Merlot & you will love it... because I said so & because it truly rocks. I've never steered you wrong before, so go pick some up today...


Monday, August 25, 2008

Everybody Needs a Little Holiday...

Especially Doug & I. Well, & our livers. After this weekend, I'm going to give the poor thing a break tonight, a la Lucy's plan. We had an awesome time both days, but now I'm very tired & I had a nice little nagging wine headache from last night. Nothing too bad, but it made for a very long day.

Note to self: For cryin' out loud, you're almost 40 years old... you can't hang, not like that, not on a Sunday. Oh, & since you're nagging at yourself, get your ass to the gym.

As incredible as the wine & the company were (& they were, truly ), I'm in no mood to write about it. I can't even think about wine right now, so instead, I'll distract my hungover little self with thoughts of vacations. We aren't taking one until Christmas, & Doug & I are both jonesing pretty hard for a trip. It ain't pretty. We want to go to Jamaica so bad right now, we'd sell our firstborn child, if we had one. Couples San Souci will have to wait...

Since I can't go anywhere right now, I figure we can all take a little virtual vacation in Jamaica by looking at a few pictures from some of my past vacations. Let's go, shall we?

Couples Negril...our first all-inclusive & our first time meeting a swim-up bar. This was also our first time at an adults only, couples only resort, & we were HOOKED. Just think about it...hanging out in a pool with no children. That means no one yelling "Mom! Mom! Look at me!", no one crying because they slipped & fell while running around the pool, no one doing a cannonball over your head... I really don't think I need to justify this experience any further! The couples only thing was great, too - no rowdy crowds of spring breakers & their woohoo-ing.

Pool at Couples, Negril

Catamaran at Couples, Negril

We had such a great time on this vacation that we booked another trip, to Couples Ocho Rios, as soon as we got home. Upon arriving, we knew we'd made the right choice - the place rocked! Couples Resorts are just awesome - they've got the whole childfree travel thing down & that's just what we need.

Couples Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Couples Ocho Rios, Jamaica

And now for the big "awwwww...." - we went horseback riding on the last full day that we were there. We hadn't planned to, but it was raining on & off, & the sea was too rough to do anything on the water. We look cute, don't we? Doug certainly does.

Horseback riding in Ocho Rios

Those horses were enormous, but very nice. Mine was named Bruce Willis, but I really wanted to change his name to George Clooney or Matthew McConaughey - I don't think I need to explain why. Anyway, I couldn't change his name because it was against the rules.

Riding Rules

Ok, so looking back on these trips was great, but it's also bummed me out a little. Doug just informed me that we have 4 more months to go. That's a really long time in our book - we spoiled ourselves last year with 4 trips, & we haven't been able to do that this year.

I know, I know....poor, poor me.

Tomorrow, we're jumping back into wine. We're going to a very special class/tasting led by our friend Mike. It's on choosing wines to cellar, & we're supposed to get to taste some rare juice. I'll be excited tomorrow, but I just can't be right now. I just want to sleep.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Protein Overdose

Last night, Doug & I went to dinner with the Luces. We do this on a regular basis, & we usually go to one of our favorite places, Veritas. However, there are so many excellent restaurants in St. Louis, & we've developed a sort of wish list of places to go. Once we scheduled the date, we decided the place.....

Bacana Brazil. I'm sure you won't be surprised that this choice was inspired by a bottle of wine - I mean, think about it... Bacana is a Churrascaria, or a Brazilian steakhouse, & Lucy had been chomping at the bit to go & share one of their finds from their recent trip to Paso Robles, CA. What better place to drink some wonderful red wine in a place that has men dressed like gauchos serving you unlimited meat on swords?

(Ok, they're actually skewers, but swords just add a bit more drama, don't you think?)

Anytime we dine with the Luces, wine is always a consideration (unless it's Veritas, of course - it's silly & perhaps insulting to bring your own bottle to a high quality wine store). After checking Bacana's wine list, which is very good & for the most part reasonable, we decided to keep it simple & bring a tried & true rose', the Crios Rose' of Malbec.

We chose this wine for several reasons... it's an excellent value, rose' is a superb match for almost any food, & it's from Argentina. When in doubt, a good rule of thumb for pairing food & wine is to choose a wine from the country (or even region, in some cases) of the cuisine. You know, Spanish wine with Spanish food, French with French, & so on & so on. The reason this works is that many European countries view wine much differently than Americans. Wine is served at all meals, & very rarely without food - it just doesn't make sense to them - so the winemakers obviously must make wine that works well with the food it will be served with. It's either that or the poorhouse.

We opened the bottle & enjoyed a bit before we headed to the salad bar & side dishes. Mmmmm... always a winner (for that matter, any Crios wine, or any other wine made by Argentina's first female winemaker Susana Balbo is a great choice). Yummy stuff, & we would've been delighted to sit & drink it the whole night, but the smells wafting from the kitchen made us get up & begin the feast.


Once seated, we flipped our card to "Yes", & within moments, the meat started coming. Sirloin, top sirloin, shoulder, leg, & ribs of beef, garlic steak, lamb, shrimp, salmon....pretty much anything that was once alive. I hate to put it so crudely, but it's true. And it was delightful...and practically impossible to turn any of it away.

As always, the Luces' wine selection was incredible. They chose the Opolo Vineyards 2004 Rhapsody, a tantalizing blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, & Petit Verdot. If I'd been the one to name this wine, I probably would've called it "Rapture", because that's what it was. One whiff, & I was in love. One sip, & I was over the moon. It was just...luscious. With the meat, it was tremendous!

The food just kept coming, & eventually, we had to take a break, so we flipped to "No".


It was then that Mr. Luce declared that we were meat drunk. Bingo! I couldn't have said it better myself, & that was the catchphrase of the night. In fact, Doug & I were still saying it this morning. (Good one, Mr. Luce!) It actually reminded me of this shark show I saw a couple of years ago...there was a dead whale, & a bunch of great whites were having a party. After they'd had their fill, they were just floating underwater in a daze, like they were drunk. (See, I told you I was obsessed with shark documentaries!) So yeah - meat drunk!

After salivating over things coming from the kitchen, we flipped back to "Yes", & discovered the most wonderful thing - roasted pineapple! It was coated with what had to be brown sugar & cinnamon, & then put on the rotisserie. Unbelievable!!! We were also besotted with the Brazilian steak & the bacon-wrapped chicken breasts. Let's face it, anything with bacon around it has got to be good. All of that meat meant we had to have more wine (had to, yes - go ahead & judge), so I picked something from the list, hoping my intuition would be good.

It was! The Miner Vineyards 2003 Aia, a lovely blend of Cab, Cab Franc, & Merlot, was outstanding. A totally different experience from the Rhapsody, which is always interesting to me because it shares 3 varietals. To me, this one wasn't as heady & intriguing as the Rhapsody, but it had an incredible finish, with some spice. Yum. We were happy.


Don't you just love cellphones with cameras?

Just when we thought we'd assaulted our digestive systems enough, our waitress came around & asked if there was anything else she could have brought to us. Holy shit. Doug & Mr. Luce asked for more of the bacon-wrapped chicken & the pineapple, so we were in for a few more bites. But no, that wasn't enough! Our waitress returned with the freakin' dessert tray, & it had chocolate flan.

Have mercy.

Lucy & I probably could've walked away from anything but flan, so we ended our evening with the 4 of us happily sharing the chocolate flan. We figured we'd already gone so far on the road to excess, we might as well take it the rest of the way!

Today, Doug & I are still a bit meat drunk. Or perhaps we have a meat hangover. Yeah, I think that's it. I can't even imagine myself having red meat anytime soon, & I'm still quite full. They say it's never good to skip breakfast, but whoever "they" are can shove it this morning.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Owe, I Owe...


Yes, I realize I haven't been on here much lately. It's sort of feast or famine with me when it comes to blogging - I either have inspiration & no time or energy, or time & no inspiration or energy. Heh, some writer I am.

Let's see, I still want to write a blog on this awesome wine tasting we went to a couple of weeks ago, as well as a couple of other things, but not today. Maybe later this week.

Today's blog is about farewells. Not goodbyes - they suck - but farewells. There's a difference, & I like the former much better because they're usually temporary & not so sad.

For example, this past Saturday, my stylist cut off about 4 inches of my hair. I'd been thinking about it because the layers in my hair were growing out a bit too funky for me, & it was getting very frustrating. I thought it resembled an overgrown mullet in a way (in a way - I haven't had a mullet since they were the haircut to have, thank goodness). I'm sure you can understand my dilemma. Anyway, I did the usual back-&-forth of "Oh, I can be patient & just keep getting trims" & "This sucks, I hate my hair right now. Screw it!" - & the "Screw it!" won at the last minute. Diana was thrilled, & so was I. Sorry, no photos, but I'll tell you that my hair is now darker, barely grazes my shoulders, & takes next-to-no-time to dry! But the best part is that the layers are going to grow out better so that I can do something else - no more mullet-ish ways! (However, if one more person calls me "sassy", someone might get hit.) So you see, hair always grows back, therefore this counts as a farewell... to me, anyway.

Last Friday, I received an email from our favorite Missouri winery, Chaumette Vineyards & Winery. Usually, I just skim through those because it has a bunch of stuff about their new spa or special dinners that we usually can't go to anyway, but this time, something caught my eye:

"Farewell to "Stretch"! Join us this Sunday all day to say farewell to Head Waiter Keith King! Keith has been with us four years and is moving back to Arizona to live closer to family. If you aren't not sure which one is Keith, he goes by "Stretch," and the "Seven Foot Waiter!" Keith will be surely missed!"


This news didn't make us happy at all. Keith has always provided us with the very best in service over the years that we've been going to Chaumette, & in the process, has become a dear friend. We've always looked forward to seeing him & hearing his stories & about his various projects, & we've shared many laughs (& beers). Sadly, Keith's father is sick, so he felt he needed to return home to Arizona to be near his family. He left on Monday evening, driving a U-Haul with his 2 dogs. Talk about a long drive!

Because Keith is adored by so many - coworkers & Chaumette guests alike - a small party was held in his honor. He was very touched, & it was clear that he loved everyone there. Here are some photos:

Julie, Keith, & Cheryl

That's Keith, in the middle, with 2 of his friends/coworkers. We had our picture taken with him (I stood on a chair), but sorry.... I looked like a hippo in it, so I'm not posting it. My hair sure was cute, though.

Here's the stable on Chaumette's property that Keith was planning to turn into an eco-friendly house:


Very cool! And the thing is, Keith will probably be back to do what he planned to do...or at least, we all hope that he will be. I mean, really...if you had a job & people that you love & scenery like the pictures below to look at everyday, wouldn't you?

Chaumette Vineyards, Ste. Genevieve, MO

Chaumette Vineyards, Ste. Genevieve, MO

View from Chaumette Winery, Ste. Genevieve, MO


Let's not forget about having constant access to what Doug & I think is the best Missouri wine in the state! We're particularly into the 2007 Dry Chardonel. I know, I know....it's Missouri wine, & some people have a real bias against it...but this stuff is really quite nice! It's very crisp, similar to a Pinot Gris. Doug & I both picked up some apple, honey, & grapefruit with a mineral finish. Upon our return home, we looked it up & found the same description on the website! We're geniuses, we are. Heh. Except that the website says it has notes of Fuji apple, & Doug said it was the Gala. Whatever. Like he knows. But hey, for those of you in the Lou... don't just read about how much we love it (& the place itself) - go out & get yourself some!

Anyway, so first it was farewell to my hair, & then to our good friend Keith. The hair will grow, & Keith will hopefully return one day. If not, we know we'll always be friends, so it's not goodbye.

There are some real goodbyes I'd like to make - for instance, my latest addiction, Nacho Cheese Doritos. Or cheddar cheese popcorn. Perhaps after kicking that, I'll say goodbye to my double chin & my ass.

Enough already - vaya con Dios, Keith, & the best to your family...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Embrace the Cuteness

Go ahead....crank up the volume, hit that play button, & prepare to run to the nearest stray rescue center to adopt someone that needs a home!

Too cute!!! If I keep this up, Doug's going to have me committed.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Master Gardener Returns

That's a little something we call "sarcasm", folks. I'm anything but a master gardener, especially as of the last 2 years.

I used to have lovely roses...We planted a bunch of them the summer after we moved into our house & I did a really good job of maintaining them. Spraying, pruning, removing dead or diseased leaves, weeding - Mattie & I were out in the garden almost every night for a little bit. The reward was an abundance of roses & occasional applause from our neighbors. Hell, my mother was even proud, & that's a pretty rare accomplishment.

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, then you've probably picked up that Doug & I lead very busy lives, especially during the spring & summer. I'd spell it all out for you...but it'd only make me tired thinking about it. So let me get to the point & introduce you to someone from my past.

Meet Tito, our pet weed from last year.


Now, you might be asking "How does someone get a pet weed?" Well, it's easy. In fact, one of the most effortless things I've ever done. Wait a minute - perhaps I should say that it's one of the most effortless things I have NOT done, because if truth be told, I didn't do a thing.

Tito was borne out of sheer neglect.

That's right - Doug & I ignored our yard all summer long & we're doing the very same thing this year. We pay the neighbor kid to mow, trim, & edge the lawn, but we've never really talked to the boy about gardening. Why would we? We're planning to relandscape the whole front yard so that it looks better & is low maintenance, & once we made that decision, we've only done the bare minimum. Well, up until these last 2 summers, when we've done next to nothing at all. I know, it's shameful.

Tito flourished from our carelessness. I didn't even notice he was there until he was up to the windowsill. That's pretty damn tall for a weed.

The product of our lack of attention became an object of fascination for me. I could've (maybe should've) plucked Tito out of the ground, but instead I monitored his progress, all the while amused at what the neighbors must think. I mean, this weed was getting really big & was actually flowering. During the hottest, driest part of the summer, I actually asked Doug if I should water Tito. We decided that weeds are resilient plants & that nature should take its course.

As you can see from the above picture, nature did just fine by Tito. The damn thing was almost to the gutter at the time it was taken. My heart swelled with pride.

Tito passed on last fall & we yanked him out of the ground. I was really relieved that he didn't take a chunk of our foundation with him! When that happened, we decided to not let this happen again, even if we didn't have time to re-do our landscaping.

Guess what? We've been busier than ever & haven't had time to touch the landscaping, & while pulling out of our driveway this morning, I spied what could very well be Tito Jr.

The circle of life continues.....

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


That's my parking spot.

I need to remember that because I drove to work today, & I very rarely do. If you didn't know, I'm spoiled. Doug drops me off at the front door to my building & picks me up after work. It's nice that we get to spend a little more time together while we're saving money & I suppose the environment. It's also great that we're not stuck in traffic or bad weather alone, & of course it's fabulous that I can read a book or sleep if I feel the need. Ah, it's good to be Queen. But not today - Doug has a union meeting after work, & I have an appointment with Elizabeth, my sadist (read: waxer). The mere thought of that gives me a little stress, so let's change the subject.

Isn't it funny how people that you see almost every day will suddenly notice something that you've done all along? Like today, for instance. I'm wearing all black, which is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary for me. Not only is it easy, but this particular combo is very comfortable & it was clean - & clean was the deciding factor this morning. Anyway, as I was settling into my desk this morning, my pal that I talked about here came by.

My Pal: Wow...all black today, huh?

Me: Yup.

My Pal: I don't think I've seen you do that before. Are you making a statement or something?

Me: Yeah, sure. You know me - I'm the Johnny Cash of the admin world.

I suppose that even as cool as I am, it probably wasn't right to compare myself to Johnny Cash - because let's face it, he was among the coolest cats ever - but I just couldn't help myself. I hadn't had my coffee yet. My poor pal - his fellowship ends next week, & he will no longer have my sarcastic little presence in his life. He's going to miss me terribly, I just know it. Likewise.

In case you haven't guessed, this particular post really has no direction whatsoever.

My Google Reader is about to explode. It's still manageable, so that's good, but what I find fascinating is what other blogs my subscriptions attract in the "Discover" section. Not all of the blogs I read are on my blogroll, just because I don't think I need to have 49 other blogs listed. I add them to my page if I feel like it, really. Anyway, I have only 1 gardening blog, Gardening While Intoxicated, chosen because of it's clever name & witty content (ok, & because that's what I usually am when/if I get around to gardening, hence the tragic state of my once stunning rose bed), but I'm bombarded with gardening blogs. I have a couple of cooking blogs, too - no, I don't really cook, but I like the idea of it, so I like to check a few out. Poor Google, it clearly thinks I'm a chef. Google has also picked out a gaggle of soon-to-be-married or newly-married brides' blogs for me to read, & I fall into neither of those categories. Poor, misguided, & terribly gullible Google.

While those are all funny, & rather cute that Google thinks of me in such a way, the funniest showed up in the Discover section today. It was, of all things, a - brace yourself - pregnancy blog.

Criminy. I'm as childfree as they get, & while I think people should be happy about their own choice to have children (& also that they should pay for them, & a few other things that I won't go into just now), I certainly do not want to read about their gestation. Ick.

Oh well, I guess it could be worse. Google could be suggesting that I read blogs about recovery. Oh yes, that would definitely be worse. Google, don't even think about it....


Monday, July 21, 2008


I admit it. We watch a lot of shows on Discovery Channel.

For example, "The Deadliest Catch". For the life of me, I can't figure out why Doug & I are so into this show. I mean, the extent of the dialogue is "49 crab. Four. Nine. Crab." It's really the same action, over & over again. They drop the "pot", & then later, someone throws a hook out (with a miss every once in a while), they pull the "pot" back up, sort the crabs, etc.... Thrilling stuff....but we watch it.

Then there's "Dirty Jobs", which is a little easier to understand the appeal. Plus, Mike Rowe's a funny guy, & not ugly, either! (He also narrates "The Deadliest Catch", so maybe that's the secret...) There are several other shows that we watch, but I'm really not writing about that....I'm writing about the one thing that actually made it to our calendar.


That's right, I added Shark Week to our calendar. I don't really know how much dorkier I can get.

I've always been fascinated by sharks. Any time there's a shark show on television, I'm bound to watch it, & movies? My gracious, yes! I can't get enough of the shark movies! Jaws, Jaws 2, Deep Blue Sea, & on & on... Even the semi-stupid ones, like Jaws 3 & 4 - if they're on, I'm very likely watching! Now, the really stupid Shark Hunter & Shark Attack movies, not so much...but we've seen them!

Mind you, I only like to watch sharks, & only from a safe distance. I have touched a shark before - a very tame nurse shark - at an aquarium in Cancun. That was close enough, even though I'm sure that I've been in close proximity to one in the wild. Whenever we're near the ocean, I'm in it, I just can't help myself.

On a much more, um, personal note, that little tidbit spawned a new name for that dreaded female cycle that no one seems to want to call by its proper name. "Aunt Flo", or "the monthly visitor", or even "riding the cotton pony" just wouldn't do....I call it "Shark Week".

Some of you that actually know me in real life may know the reason for this, but the rest of you don't, so let me give you a brief explanation.

Doug & I love to travel, & we're drawn to places like the Caribbean because of the ocean. We love it, & we watch it for hours. I love to swim in the ocean (never too terribly far out, but I do get out there), even with stories of shark attacks & such. Believe me, I'm always thinking about it when I'm in the water, but I love it unless the water is too rough or too murky. Plus, being that I'm obsessed with shark shows, I've picked up a few tips on avoiding shark attacks.

As we were preparing for a vacation several years ago, I mentioned to Doug that I was concerned that I'd "start", & not be able to swim safely (not that it would really stop me). Doug didn't get it at first, so I told him that I'd hate to have my death or injury from a shark attack featured on "Shark Week" because I was swimming while...well, you know.

It just kinda stuck from there.