A Day in the Life – Fall Edition

Earlier this year, I shared a typical day in my summer life. Now that back-to-school is nearly upon us, and I begin teaching public relations at the Newhouse School again, my thoughts are turning to my fall schedule. As promised, it’s below. Now, keep in mind some evenings are a bit more hectic when there are swim lessons, saxophone lesson or Daisy Scouts. Then, we just do our best to get to the activities and back home for the evening routine as efficiently as possible. During those activities, I do get in some grading, at least!

5:05 a.m.
Alarm

5:15 a.m.
Leave for gym with pre-workout shot

5:30 a.m.
Workout – drink BCAAs during workout. Right now, I’m doing the Train with Lyzabeth workout series.

6:30 to 6:45 a.m.
Leave gym with protein/glutamine shake

6:45 to 7 a.m.
Arrive home for shower

7 to 7:15 a.m.
Leave for work

7:30 to 7:45 a.m.
Arrive at work

8 a.m.
Teach public relations class

9:30 a.m.
Grab breakfast at Starbucks on the way into the office

12 p.m.
Lunch and grading/course prep

2:30 p.m.
Afternoon snack

5:00 p.m.
Leave work

5:30 p.m.
Arrive home and prepare dinner while cleaning up, etc.

6:00 p.m.
Dinner

6:30 p.m.
Prepare lunches and snacks for next day, review kids’ school folders and answer homework questions, add powders to shaker bottles, lay out gym and work clothes for next day

7:00 p.m.
Bathe Christopher

7:15 p.m.
Hang out with Christopher and Lucia

7:30 p.m.
Read to Christopher and get him into bed

7:45 p.m.
Read to Lucia and get her into bed

8:15 p.m.
Head to the couch with my cross-stitching, book, phone and wine. This is also my time with Maria. I also fill out my workout/food log and review the next day’s workout. When needed, I grade papers or course prep but I try to leave that for the weekend.

9:30 p.m.
Maria goes to bed.

9:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Hang out with my husband (lots of times I fall asleep WAY before now, though. 5:05 a.m. comes early!)

wine

Wine for Speechless Moments

I’ve experienced a lot of speechless moments lately. Anyone who knows me well knows that’s highly unusual for me. But, I have nonetheless. Sometimes, it’s when you just can’t help but shake your head at something that happens at work. Other times it’s an emotional bombshell that drops you to your knees and renders you unable to articulate it in words.

Speechless moments, though few and far between, tend to make us stop and think. And when we stop and think, we realize the world around us is amazing, weird, scary, upsetting, funny and variable.

Pausing to think about the times when I have had no words recently, I realized tasting wine can be that way, too. Sometimes we take a sip and a ton of emotions form. Other times, it’s meh.

I don’t have any particular wine to share with these deep thoughts other than to acknowledge that speechless moments are part of life. Enjoy them. And the wine.

summer-riesling

Wine for Summer Days

Sunday afternoon the kids and I went blueberry picking at Emmi Farms in Baldwinsville, New York. We had a lot of fun and it was an adventure to drive down into the field to pick. The prices were more than reasonable and we were able to grab the first corn of the season, too. Yum!

blueberries-kidsAfter that, we decided to take a drive to Camillus, New York to check out a new retailer, Vine and Barrel, about which I had heard so many good things. Well, despite the nearly 30 five-star reviews on its Facebook page, my experience was less than desirable.

First of all, we walked in to see about five store clerks milling about, two of which were behind a large tasting bar. But despite the bar set-up there was nothing out for tasting. It was approximately 2:45 p.m. on a Sunday so I would have expected something. Usually, when stores have tasting bars, there is something set up. One of the ladies said hello in a noncommittal way. My daughter and I were the only ones in the store.

We went back to the fine wine room to check out the selection, which I had heard was unique. No one followed us. No one asked us if they could help us find anything. I was shocked. We meandered through the rest of the shop looking at the selection. Although they were touted as having the largest selection of New York wines, I didn’t find it to be any different from some of the other local shops.

We selected a Riesling from the Mosel region of Germany, a Malbec from Argentina and a $30 bottle of Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, as our splurge wine.

The Riesling was excellent and went well with our salmon and fresh corn for dinner. But honestly, I won’t be back to Vine and Barrel. It just wasn’t a pleasant atmosphere to be completely ignored. Oh, and whatever was going on with the intermittent loud 1970s rock music was quite distracting while we shopped. I definitely did not have the same experience as so many who sang its praises.

What’s more, I feel like it needs to grow into its space a bit more. It was cavernous in there and not at all homey and welcoming as I would expect a home-town wine retailer to be. At least we enjoyed our summer Riesling!

wine-barrels

Wine Review: Shelburne Vineyard

Earlier this week, I shared a review of Elfs Farm Winery and Cider House, located in Plattsburgh, New York. I didn’t want to neglect Vermont, so we also stopped at Shelburne Vineyard in Shelburne, Vermont while on our trip. My review follows.

The story of Shelburne Vineyard goes back 35 years but the first vintage was not released until 2000, so it’s a relatively young winery. Growing hardy grapes that work best in cool climates, much like Elfs Farm, the vineyard’s main vintage includes Marquette, Minnesota hybrids and a bit of Riesling and Vidal Blanc.

shelburne-tasting
The tasting list at Shelburne Vineyards features whites, as well as reds. A “barrel thief” is a member of their wine club.

The wines were crisp and clean overall. I enjoyed the whites much more than the reds, but that’s normal for me. I am not a huge fan of red varietals in this part of the country. They are too “dirty” tasting for me. My favorite wine, and one of the bottles we purchased, was the 2016 Louise Swenson dry white. While I enjoyed most of the whites, this one was unique, made from the grape of the same name grown at the vineyard.

My husband enjoyed one of the rose wines, the 2016 Whimsey Meadow Dry Rose, which is named after a meadow just down the road at Shelburne Farms. We actually had just finished hiking it prior to stopping at the winery! While the dryness surprised me, and not in a positive way (I wanted it to be less dry), that’s exactly what my husband liked about it. We purchased a bottle of that, too.

The winery itself has a gorgeous tasting room with floor to ceiling windows overlooking one of the vineyards. Live music is often featured and there is also a patio and mezzanine with tables and chairs for people to sit, chat and enjoy the wine. It was a pleasant, friendly experience all around. We’re glad we stopped!

Back to the Whimsey Meadow for a minute, below are some pictures from that hike, as well as a few others from our afternoon at Shelburne Farms, another highly recommended stop, if you travel to Vermont.

 

 

 

 

Wine Review: Elfs Farm Winery and Cider House

Our family just returned from a few days in Northern New York and Vermont for our annual summer vacation. While I used to live in Plattsburgh, New York, the rest of the family was new to the area. Now, when I say I lived there, it was like 20 years ago so a lot had changed in two decades! One of the changes was the new Adirondack Wine Trail, which featured a handful of wineries, established in the last 15 years or so, making cold climate wines with grapes, such as Marquette and Frontenac. Some wineries, such as Elfs Farm Winery and Cider House, are also importing grapes from the Finger Lakes region and making Rieslings and Cayuga White blends.

 

wine-glasses

We stopped at Elfs Farm the first evening we arrived in Plattsburgh, figuring it would be a nice happy hour stop before dinner. We were right. When we pulled up, we were greated by one of the dogs and a puppy, which the kids were excited about. Inside, we found a friendly vineyard owner, who was more than happy to help us explore the wines. She even offered checkers for the kids, as well as crayons and sidewalk chalk! It was a huge help to us that they could keep busy while we tasted.

One of the unique tasting features is the cool wine glass tree they use. Basically, they pour out the five featured wines starting with the first at the bottom and you work your way up to the top. It’s an extra that makes a cute photo op.

We ended up purchasing two of the wines we tried – the Sweet Riesling and Adirondack Red. Since we are not fans of hard cider, we passed on trying those, although, being that it’s located in apple country, that is part of what this vineyard is known for.

On our way out, we were also lucky enough to hear a few dinner recommendations, one of which we took. Our House Bistro in downtown Plattsburgh features all different kinds of macaroni and cheese. Lucia and Christopher opted for the traditional, Maria built her own with cheddar and bacon, Jon had poutine mac and cheese and I had chicken pot pie. Very yummy! The margaritas were excellent, as well!

I definitely recommend a stop at Elf’s Farm if you find yourself just north of the Grand Isle Ferry along route 9 in Plattsburgh; you won’t be disappointed!

 

 

 

 

Wine for Gym Etiquette

Faithful followers know I’m a gym rat. Five days a week, 5:30 in the morning, I’m there, lifting to my heart’s content. I love doing it. It’s my “me” time and I love how it makes me feel. Plus, tracking my workouts and nutrition, gives me something to focus on that’s not stressful!

My husband is also a gymgoer, although we don’t workout together. We often share our experiences, though, over a glass of wine. Lately, I find that we talk more about improper gym etiquette than anything else. It’s something internet memes love to highlight – people behaving badly at the gym – but, honestly, it’s not cool. Below are the top five things my husband and I have witnessed recently.

  1. “Equipment-Stealer” – This happened to me twice just this morning! You are using a machine or bench when someone else just cuts in or steals it right from under your nose. I’m totally all in for working in and sharing equipment so that would be cool for me. It’s the jerk who literally “misses” my water bottle and phone sitting on the machine and just sits down and starts and then rests there, completely ignoring me standing right there! Other gymgoers’ eye rolls were real this morning. Ugh.
  2. “The Loud One” – This is the beast who yells during the workout. “Come on!” and “Aargh!” It’s a little over the top, if you ask me. I mean, I get that grunting sometimes happens when you’re at the end of your set and pushing hard but yelling at the weights is probably not going to help you lift heavier. And, it ruins my music mojo!
  3. “The Equipment Hog” – Everyone’s seen this before. Someone is on more than one machine or using sets of weights and benches in a superset situation. I do supersets so I get it but sometimes it’s a bit too much, especially if others are waiting and/or it’s a busy time at the gym. Have some respect for others using the equipment. Share or limit your supersets to fit in with the crowd.
  4. “The Smelly One” – This one goes both ways. There’s a guy at my gym who does the elliptical every day for an hour. And he wears sweats. And he stinks. It’s so bad that people avoid the equipment downwind of him. It’s just terrible. Then, there’s the cute blonde who wears perfume to drown a horse and a full face of makeup. One time, my husband even witnessed a lady wearing men’s cologne! Try to find the middle ground. A little stink is normal; a lot is not.
  5. “The Dropper” – At Planet Fitness, they call these people “lunkheads” or “lunkers.” The ones who lift a ton and then drop the weights gloriously at the end. It shakes the entire gym. For real. And, it’s probably not good for the equipment either. Just don’t.

These are the top five in my experience but I know I could list more, such as the “One Who Won’t Re-Rack” and the “Ogler.” The bottom line is that gyms are places with an ecelectic group of people all following their own routines with their own approaches. So, it gets silly from time to time! As long as I can unwind at the end of the day with a glass of wine, it’ll all be OK. The best wine for reminiscing over “lunkheads” has got to be a big, bold red, something with a huge taste and a lot of sass. Any Shiraz or California Cab will do. Cheers!

A Day in the Life – Summer Edition

Many times I speak casually with people who are in awe that I am able to juggle a full-time job, daily workout and family. I read countless articles about how women can “have it all” or “fit it all in” and wonder why so many find it challenging to even have time to workout. At times in my life, I, too, have had difficulty fitting in a workout but it’s always been due to a new baby! That is probably the one wild card that throws everything off-balance. But, I always return to a state of equilibrium as the babies grow. Today, I have a 3-year-old, 7-year-old and 10-year-old so things are getting easier in terms of finding time for me.

Nonetheless, I thought I’d take a stab at taking you through my typical day so you can see how I fit things in. Now, one caveat is that it’s now summer. That means work is slower, I’m not teaching my two classes and the kids are not in school. The fall edition of this schedule looks quite different! But, we’ll return to that in a few months!

5:05 a.m.                     Alarm

5:15 a.m.                     Leave for gym with pre-workout shake

5:30 a.m.                     Workout – drink BCAAs during workout

6:30 to 6:45 a.m.        Leave gym with protein shake

6:45 to 7 a.m.             Arrive home for shower

7 to 7:15 a.m.             Leave for work

7:30 a.m.                     Arrive at work

9:30 a.m.                     Grab breakfast at Starbucks

12 p.m.                        Lunch

2:30 p.m.                     Afternoon snack

4:30 p.m.                     Leave work

4:45 p.m.                     Arrive home and prepare dinner while cleaning up, etc.

5:30 p.m.                     Dinner

6 p.m.
Prepare lunch and snacks for next day, add powders to shaker
bottles, lay out gym and work clothes for next day

6:30 p.m.                     Bathe Christopher

6:45 p.m.                     Hang out with Christopher and Lucia

7:15 p.m.                     Read to Christopher and get him into bed

7:45 p.m.                     Read to Lucia and get her into bed

8:15 p.m.
Head to the couch with my cross-stitching, book, phone and wine.
This is also my time with Maria. I also fill out my workout/food log
and review the next day’s workout.

9:45 p.m.                      Maria goes to bed.

10 to 10:30 p.m.
Hang out with my husband (lots of times I fall asleep WAY before
now, though. 5:05 a.m. comes early!)

So, there you have it! My full day. I do most of the house cleaning on weekends. My husband also pitches in and we’re neat people so we pick up after ourselves daily. He also handles the majority of the laundry but I help fold in the evenings and we both keep it going all weekend.

In the fall, there are also more evening activities, I make lunches and prep the kids’ school things and I have to squeeze in grading for my two classes. Plus, I get home from work later, as well. My husband is back in school, as well. In the summer, we only have swimming lessons on Wednesday evenings so it’s not too bad. My husband takes care of piano lessons on Monday afternoons. He also takes care of getting the kids to their daytime summer activities.

Christopher is continuing to attend daycare most days. Maria will head to the Geek Squad Academy two-day workshop later this week. Both girls start summer camp July 10. So, we’re staying as busy as possible this summer!

As you can see, “wine time” is only about an hour or two at the very end of my day. It’s when I wind down and enjoy a glass or two with my husband. Wine for evening time, the end of a busy day. Cheers!

 

Wine for a Daisy Scout Ceremony

Tuesday night Lucia had her Daisy Scout pinning ceremony. Technically, she should move into Brownies next year but since her troop got a late start and half of them are not old enough for Brownies yet, she’s staying put. Still, the troop leaders held a short pinning ceremony and they had a Teddy Bear Picnic to earn their Teddy Bear Picnic badges.

The whole family attended to support Lucia; while it’s not quite the same as a band concert or piano recital, it’s still important to her so it’s important to us! It was super cute to hear their song.

When we got home that evening, we opened a bottle of wine that came with our latest Winc delivery. This is the second bottle of wine we’ve had, though, that I really have not enjoyed. Both wines seemed to lack the fruitiness that was promised in the tasting notes. I told my husband I felt the wines were bad and maybe were not stored or shipped properly. He said he liked them and didn’t feel they were bad. Maybe it’s my taste buds with these allergies then! Anyway, they had no nose to speak of and really no flavor. This particular wine, One from the Quiver, was dry with no fruit, though tasting notes indicate higher than average fruit. No idea. Anyway, it was not enjoyable for me and I’m not looking forward to trying another Winc wine.

Wines are tricky, particularly when you have them shipped. This time of year, they can go from air conditioned distribution centers and UPS trucks to hot front porches. I think it really can taint them in the end. Thankfully, excellent clubs will take them back for a credit or replacement, so it’s not a reason to avoid them completely! Still, I’m not sure I’m sold on Winc just yet. 😉 I leave you with a gallery of photos from the Daisy Scout ceremony. Cheers!

Wine for Father’s Day

Father’s Day is one of those days when beer is the bigger menu item. In year’s past, we’ve steamed clams with beer and enjoyed a cold brew or two or three with them, too. But this year, there were thunderstorms in the hot, steamy forecast so we decided to go inside and enjoy some Eggplant Parmesan and wine!

The wine choice was a Barolo I found at Maximum Wine and Liquors a few weeks ago. We decanted it about an hour before dinner and it opened up nicely to go with the Italian fare. All the plates were cleared – even the little guy, who declared eggplant his favorite food at the end of the meal!

In addition to Father’s Day dinner, we also had a busy weekend that included a piano recital and honors band concert. The girls did beautifully and are now looking forward to summer. As I write this, it’s the last Monday of the 2016-17 elementary school year. I’ll leave you with a gallery of photos from the weekend’s festivities, as well as video from the spring piano recital. Cheers!

Wine for Rainy Sundays

The past I don’t know how many Sundays have been rainy in Syracuse, New York. It really has been a dismal spring. This past weekend, we tried to make the best of it with a little baking, indoor activities and homemade enchiladas, courtesy of Betty Crocker.

I grew up with banana chocolate chip cookies. Mom always made them when there were a few “too ripe” bananas left in the house that no one wanted to eat anymore. I’ve continued that tradition in my own home and Sunday, I whipped up a batch for school lunches for the week.

Here’s the recipe:

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. chocolate chips
3/4 c. shortening
1 beaten egg
1 c. bananas (two or three very ripe)
1 3/4 c. oatmeal

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift all dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening. Add egg, bananas, oatmeal and chips. Bake on greased (or parchment paper) cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Remove immediately.

As for enchiladas, I used a classic Betty Crocker recipe from her original cookbook that I’ve had for 25 years. It calls for ground beef and the flavors went superbly well with an Argentina Malbec, Trumpeter, from Rutini wines, we had on hand.

I’m looking forward to the weather finally turning warmer and sunnier so we can break out the whites, roses and sparkling wines that go so well with spring/summer. ‘Til then, there’s always the big, bold reds of fall/winter to keep us going!