Wine for Workout Friends

As I have mentioned, I belong to a private Facebook group of women who are all on the same workout journey. Train with Lyzabeth’s program comes with exclusive access to this group. At first, I didn’t think I’d participate in it at all. Boy, was I wrong! I think the primary reason I’m still active on Facebook today is my involvement and interaction with this terrific group of women.

First of all, they come from all. over. the. world. Seriously! And, they all have different jobs, backgrounds and lives! Some are going to school, while working and raising families. Some are entrepreneurs, such as one of the group’s superstars, Alicia Mayi, who owns Ali of all Trades.

She recently created a bunch of tanks and tee shirts for the girls in the TWL group to wear at the gym. We’re all from the same tribe even though we’re from all over the world! I purchased a few tanks, as well as a fun t-shirt for my husband. Alicia added a fun surprise to my shipment, as well; a decal of a wine glass that says Wine for All Times!

This is a great example of her thoughtfulness and is illustrative of all the girls in the TWL community. They are supportive, understanding, caring individuals. I’m so glad to have virtually connected with them and look forward to perhaps meeting them someday soon!

When we do, we definitely have to have sparkling wine. I mean, what’s a girl party without bubbly! We could toast our commitment to our own health and whatever else our hearts desire. Some of my favorite sparkling wines are Italian Proseccos and I love a good Cava from Spain, as well.

In fact, writing this reminds me that I want to try some more sparkling wines in the future. I recently read a blog post about Austrian sparkling wine. Hmmm. Maybe my next review? Cheers!

cartesian wine bottle with a glass of red wine in it

Wine for A Wrinkle in Time (Review)

Blogger’s note: If you have not seen the movie, you may wish to skip this post. 

Opening weekend, I took my daughters to see A Wrinkle in Time, along with my dad. We had been waiting forever to see this movie. A few days before it came out, the reviews started to roll out… and they were not good. I almost elected not to go; they were that bad. But, in the end, we used a gift card to justify our trip; after all, we weren’t paying full price!

Now, I read and adored the book when I was a little girl. My daughters also have read the book, most recently, Lucia. So, we knew the story and we were looking forward to seeing it come alive on the big screen. But, alas, the streak continues – books are nearly always better than movies in my world.

First of all, there was a continuity problem, as well as a pacing issue. I just felt that things happened too quickly in the movie. It went from one thing to the other to the other so rapidly, that things were left undeveloped and, for me, it was hard to get my head out of one situation and on to the next. This is an issue regardless of whether you are familiar with the book. As for continuity, of course things were eliminated from the screenplay, as is normally the case with a movie adaptation. However, the writers left certain lines in that just didn’t make sense. In an early scene, for example, Charles Wallace is accused of heating way too much milk on the stove to which he responds, “You never know who might be visiting.” But, then, the visitor doesn’t materialize until later! (In the book, there IS an additional visitor in that scene.) So, that’s just one of many missteps.

Also, a key portion of the climax is completely eliminated from the movie, which to me just ruined the entire thing. That scene needs to happen in order to resolve the story and they left it out. Even my 8-year-old wondered why we were not able to see that part. What’s more, the ending, which wasn’t exactly the way it went in the book was secular, and the movie omitted the Christian references. That was the part of the story that spoke to me the most and to have it eliminated was disappointing.

Characters were missing, which may prove to be challenging in the future, should they decide to make the sequel into a movie, as well.

What did they do right? They released in on daylight saving time weekend, making a unique marketing message to get people to the theaters. They also, played out the “girl power” theme, with a strong message to young girls everywhere to embrace who they are and don’t be afraid, etc. There was also commentary on bullying, which was a good anti-message. I also loved the science themes; the main character was good at science and loved it, which is a great message for young girls to hear. The scenery and costumes/makeup were beautiful. My 11-year-old daughter exclaimed as we left the theater, “There was a lot of glitter in that movie!”

Would I recommend this movie? Maybe. If you have young, impressionable girls in your life, it’s a great message. If you haven’t read the book, you may enjoy it for what it is. If you have read the book, I urge caution and perhaps an open mind to avoid disappointment.

As far as wine, while we didn’t see the movie at Movie Tavern where I could have ordered a glass, I did think about wine and time. Wine gets better with age, as you know. And, perhaps the same could be said for movies. Some movies, as my husband pointed out, were complete duds when first released but later became smash hits. Even “It’s A Wonderful Life,” got a lukewarm reception way back when but now is considered one of the best.

Often, wine improves with each sip, as well, which was the case with the one we drank this past week. First Leaf Wine’s Cartesian Cabernet Sauvignon from the Central Coast of California at first was almost bitter to me and I wasn’t sure about the overall taste. But, as I sipped it, it got better. Time was on its side, you might say. Maybe time will be on A Wrinkle in Time’s side, as well. Time will tell.

ceasar's casino statues

Wine for a Honeymoon Memory

Five years ago this month, my husband and I went on our honeymoon. We decided to visit Las Vegas, Nevada since neither of us had been before. Of course, being the type A, crazy woman I am about, well, everything, I had to research all the best places to eat…and drink. I stumbled on a wine bar at Caesar’s Rio Casino, which had rave reviews on Yelp! Its website describes the highlights:

  • One of the country’s most impressive wine collections
  • Renowned wines from around the world
  • Choose from more than 100 wines by the glass
  • Relaxing atmosphere, complete with a bar and a lounge
  • Exquisite wine and cheese pairing

As you can see, it was worth a visit. We took a cross-town bus from Caesar’s to Rio, and from there navigated down to the cellar. It didn’t disappoint. It was so cool to see all the vintage wines on display like a museum of viticulture! Plus, we arrived pretty early in the evening, really more like late afternoon, so we were the only ones there. The bartender was attentive and helpful.

We selected a wine and cheese flight and got right down to business! Delicious wines that we would ordinarily never get to try. So worth the money to sit and enjoy them with the perfect pairings of cheese.

We really wanted to try Opus One, since it’s on my bucket list. I can’t even recall if they had it by the glass but what they did have was a wine called Altvs, a Napa Valley red, which the bartender said was in the same league as Opus One. Now, I still haven’t tried Opus so I can’t make a comparison but I can say that the Altvs was excellent!

We purchased a bottle and got it all the way home, saving it for our first date anniversary six months later. In fact last year, my husband procured two more bottles through a local wine seller here in Syracuse, New York. Each vintage had a bit of a different taste but still so yummy.

Altvs is a big Tuscan red wine, requiring at least an hour of decanting to let it breathe. You really have to plan to enjoy it. It goes well with anything Italian or just by itself or with a piece of chocolate.

It will forever be our “honeymoon wine.”


Wine for Sharing My Workout Journey – Part 1

A few years ago I became very interested in fitness again. I say again because back in college was when I first got the lifting bug. I would go to the SUNY Geneseo gym with my friend who taught me a ton of exercises. I figured some out on my own, as well, from watching others and I logged countless miles on the Stairmaster, which in the 1990s was all the rage.

When I first graduated from college, I continued to go to the gym but I mostly did the machines and not too many free weights at all. I’m not even sure what routine, if any, I followed because I honestly don’t remember back that far! But, I recall at least going every day after work.

As the years went by I continued to go every day and a couple years before Maria was born I met and worked with my first personal trainer. His name was Tony and he owned a tiny gym associated with a physical therapy place in Liverpool. Tony was a former trainer for the New York Yankees and he was awesome. He would just wander around the small gym offering tips and tricks and his ab workouts were amazing. When he sold his gym I continued to go, paying for my very first personal training sessions. That’s when it began – my love affair with weightlifting.

I had kids, went through lots of personal stuff and got out of my routine but when Christopher turned two or thereabouts, the new Y opened near our house and I went back. I quickly remembered all of what I loved about weightlifting but there was one thing missing – I needed a roadmap – a journey, and a goal – a destination. I loved going but didn’t know what to do with myself once there. Plus, I really wanted to look better. I was tired of looking so skinny all the time. I wanted a few curves!

I began to voraciously read everything I could online about lifting for women. I knew what my goals were and I Googled relentlessly trying to find the magic formula. I searched Pinterest looking for workouts and recipes and I started following everyone I could find on social media for inspiration. The first lifting workout I landed on was pinned by Jersey Girl Talk, a 30-something professional woman in New Jersey who blogs about fitness, health and beauty. She shared a bit about her own journey and as I read her experience it was like looking in a mirror. I, too, was sick of being skinny. I, too, wanted to look and feel better. So, I tried the workout she shared from Simply Shredded. For the first time ever, I was growing muscles! I was so proud of myself and that summer I regained my confidence and wore short shorts again for the first time in years.

Jersey Girl Talk ended up becoming my primary motivator and educator for the months that followed. She would post workout videos, recipes and supplement regimens, all of which I tried. She would post about sales on workout gear and I found a few stores I never knew sold activewear, such as Forever 21, and I bought new clothes that made me feel feminine and strong.

Everything was giving me confidence and I was thrilled. I even read a few books on lifting for women, including “The New Rules  of Lifting for Women,” which was a bible of all the exercises and things to know. Honestly, lifting as a female is really no different than it is for a male. We all have our goals and the path to get there is a similar road. Everything was going great that first year until…I hit a plateau. I was bored. I wasn’t gaining. I wasn’t even feeling that great. So, back to the drawing board I went and lo and behold, one day I stumbled onto a website that has changed my life, literally.

I searched for “workout plans for hard gainers” one day, after learning that was what the fitness world called people like me who have trouble gaining muscle and weight. One thing led to another and I found Lyzabeth Lopez, a personal trainer with dozens of health and fitness certifications, based in Toronto, Canada. She had an online program that was perfect. After locating a coupon I purchased it for $50. It’s a one-time purchase that has paid great dividends so far – I now have a formula for success, her Muscle Gain program, which is a combination of a workout and meal plan. What’s more, I’ve found my “people,” and I’ve found something that works that I have not gotten bored with – I feel better than I have in years.

In my next few posts, I’ll explain all that I’ve learned from Lyzabeth, including how to set your goals, how to figure out how many calories are right for you to eat each day and what percentage of protein, carbs and fat you should have. I’ll explain how I arrived at my vitamin and supplement regimen, and what I’m striving for in terms of meals. Finally, I’ll explain how I became addicted to my 5:30 a.m. gym time, what I do and how I do it.  I don’t simply preach what Lyzabeth says, but I’ve made it my own. I don’t even follow every single one of her rules, some because I can’t and others because it won’t work for me personally. I’ll explain how I figured all of that out.

Why do these posts now? In the past week, two women in my life, both on different health and fitness journeys, have marveled at how much I know about health and fitness and bodybuilding for women. One said I really should consider sharing it more widely for others. So, here I am.

One rule of Lyzabeth’s that I break? I enjoy wine. She doesn’t condone it much at all, except maybe for special occasions. And, while I’m on a bit of a break from wine during Lent, my husband and I are treating Sundays as the feast days they are, and have chosen to enjoy wine on Sundays. Today, I’ll make my famous eggplant parmesan and we’ll enjoy a yummy Barolo he picked up. Because I believe we all have to have the things we enjoy in life. I believe we can, and can still meet our health and fitness goals. It just might take us a bit longer! Cheers!


Wine for the Olympics (Olympics for Wine)

The Winter Olympics are on in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and it’s one of the only times I actually watch regular television. We got rid of cable years ago and hardly ever watch network TV, preferring instead Netflix and Amazon Prime. And, I have to say, I don’t miss network TV at all. I mean, it’s the most frustrating thing to have two minutes of commercials literally every two minutes, not to mention the constant yammering on of the commentators. I wish they added value but they just don’t. Take figure skating, for example. We often wonder what music they’re skating to but no one ever says. In fact, we can barely hear the music over the incessant talking between the two commentators.

While we’re on the subject of figure skating, let me say it’s my favorite Olympic sport to watch but I never get to see it because it’s on too late. I guess maybe if I lived in a different time zone but, for now, I have to read about it on social media and search in vain for video clips of what I missed. It’s sad.

It got me thinking… would it be different if I was more into all the sports, instead of just interested in skating? What if they made wine into an Olympic sport? A few years ago, Netflix released a documentary called, “SOMM.” It followed several young people who were studying for the dreaded and prestigious sommelier exam. The exam has several parts, if I understand correctly, and through the film, we were able to be flies on the wall for some portions of it. They have to prove they can serve wine, and they are given tables to wait on. They also have to prove they can identify wine in a blind taste test, and there is a written exam. Much of the process is in secret, but what if it wasn’t?

I would totally watch people try to taste. We could see the score on the screen or maybe even the answers at the end. We could watch them botch a table service or drop a tray, just like when skiers wipe-out on the slopes. We could get behind these would-be master sommeliers, just as we do the athletes. I think I could be on to something!

The commercials would be much more interesting to watch, to me, since they’d likely be about food and wine. Plus, the stories that accompanied the wine Olympic games would be more interesting to me. They’re filming the next installment of “SOMM” now. I can’t wait to see what’s in store. My own “winolympics.” Cheers!

cross and wine glass with red wine

A Wine for Va”Lent”ine’s Day

Faithful followers may recall in the past I’ve given up wine for Lent. Sometimes, that’s gone well; other times? Well, let’s just say I was a bit grouchier for those 40 to 45 days!

As a “wine blogger,” I struggled with the idea of giving it up again this year. In a way, wine is work for me, when you consider this blog. That being said, I have to say that the nights where I don’t have a glass of wine before bed, I sleep SO much better. I know it impacts my sleep and it might be interesting to further test that theory!

What’s more, Lent is about sacrifice and this is a BIG sacrifice for me and would be a hardship that would force me to truly “suffer.” The icing on the cake that prompted me to go ahead and commit to giving up wine was my husband. He decided to give up wine for Lent. I’ve never had a partner in crime before on my Lenten sacrificial journey. I think it would be a nice way for us to reconnect and support each other in our faith.

This year, Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent and the first day of “fasting,” fell on Valentine’s Day, which posed an interesting problem! We decided together that we would open the sparkling wine that came in my First Leaf shipment as a celebration of the holiday and would begin our sacrifice the next day.

So far, so good without the wine but it’s only been a night! Weekend might be tough! Good thing the husband bought some yummy herbal tea to take its place.

As they say, you definitely can have “too much of a good thing.” So, maybe it’s good to want sometimes and to take breaks from the things we enjoy. That way, we enjoy them that much more when we can get back to them again.

As for this blog, no worries! For the next 40 days or so, I’ll still post but it won’t be about the wine I’m drinking currently. There is plenty to share, including wine book reviews, restaurant reviews (including one overdue review from our trip to Laci’s Tapas Bar for our anniversary) and thoughts on wines I’d love to try and regions I’d love to visit…someday. Meantime, cheers (as I hold up my cup of tea)!

lucia praying

Wine for First Penance

My middle child experienced a rite of Catholic passage this past weekend when she made her first penance. Catholics believe in confession of our sins as a way to be forgiven and live anew. We all make mistakes and this allows us to atone for those errors in judgment and become closer to God in the process.

Typically a child has a first reconciliation experience a few months before their First Holy Communion, which for Lucia will take place in May. Lucia did a great job. Many children are scared to death to confess to a priest for the very first time. And while she really had wanted to see her own priest, she was fortunate enough to meet with another local, young priest, who was generous and kind with her.

She said her prayers and afterward lit a candle to symbolize the “light turning back on” and her beginning anew. She grabbed her certificate and we left. I asked her if she felt better since often I feel better after going to confession. She said not really. But, it was her first time!

It’s exhilarating to watch your child do something impactful for the very first time and it reminds me of things that I really should be doing to model behaviors and actions. In fact, last month, I took Lucia with me to confession so she could see that grownups do it, too! Children really do keep you honest!

In my last post I mentioned the two wines we enjoyed over the weekend, both from Icellars Estate, Niagara-On-The-Lake, Canada. Really, anything goes for a big day like Lucia had. We went all out with a big, juicy red and some yummy pasta, making us both happy after a long day!



Wine for a Hurt Paw

Pets are a lot like children. They need constant care and feeding, playtime, discipline and all your love. They also are not immune to accidents. Saturday afternoon around 4 p.m. we had our first experience with the emergency vet clinic. I let Daisy out as usual and when she came back in her paw was bleeding all over the place. I immediately laid her down and called for help. Everyone came running. We couldn’t determine what was wrong and even though we wrapped it tightly, it didn’t stop. To make matters more challenging, we couldn’t find the special pencil thingie that stops bleeding.

We called our regular vet and a voice mail advised us to go to a clinic across town. We weren’t too sure about it for a variety of reasons not the least of which was the distance. Plus, we sort of remembered there might be one in Camillus or Baldwinsville. Luckily, we were right. I grabbed my things and put her in the car, headed for the Veterinary Clinic and Emergency Care Center about 12 minutes from our home.

Daisy was a good girl throughout the ordeal. She was a little hyper when we arrived but the clinic staff were quick to respond and they took her back immediately while I checked in. I didn’t have but a minute to text the family to tell them we had arrived when Daisy came out as good as new. Turns out she had torn her dew claw completely off. We have NO idea how or where she did that. A bandage for about 24 hours and now she’s as good as new.

If you live in the northern suburbs of Syracuse and every require emergency vet care, I highly recommend the VECCC. They were friendly, efficient and caring. I was in and out in less than 10 minutes. All told, the entire experience from when Daisy came in to when we arrived back home safe and sound was only about 40 minutes.

Needless to say after the adrenaline rush of the whole thing, I was ready for a glass of wine. Good thing we had our choice of the Icellars Estates reds that my husband brought back from Canada. I enjoyed the Syrah with our creamy tortellini and tomato soup, and the Arinna with our Instant Pot pizza pasta (which is so good, it’s like crack!) the following evening.

That means there’s only one bottle left of our special Canadian stash, besides a couple of ice wines in the fridge, which last forever. We’d better make that one count! Cheers!


Featured on MovingBabies

journaling, drinking water and eating steel cut oats

Wine for Perseverance

colaneri estate winery

Wine for a Road Trip to Canada

Faithful readers know that a couple of years ago, my husband and I made a trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake in Canada to spend a few days and nights in wine country. We had a wonderful time and fell in love with one winery that had just opened literally days before we visited, Icellars Estate Winery.

Although we did purchase bottles from them, we drank them almost immediately and then missed them; you can’t purchase their wine here in the United States so we’ve been out of luck, following them on social media and wishing we could try the new vintages. The owner even commented back to me once that perhaps I could do a barrel tasting sometime!

At any rate, my husband decided that for Christmas he would surprise me and he made the trip in one day to Niagara-on-the-Lake to get some wine for me from my favorite winery there. The border patrol thought he was crazy, driving all that way for a few bottles of wine but he made it across and on to the winery.

After a minor snafu with the credit card not working (he had to drive to the nearest “petrol” station for an ATM), he procured a few bottles of my favorites. Plus, he did a barrel tasting! He even carefully brought a pipet back to me in a sealed jar. It probably wasn’t exactly the same but even so, how cool is that?

We’ve already enjoyed one bottle but there are a couple left in the wine fridge that we’ll open sooner rather than later. He also stopped at a nearby winery, Colaneri Estate, and picked up a few of their wines, which we also enjoy. They use the Appassimento style, where the grapes are dried in the sun a bit before the wine is made. It’s popular in Italy and brings out interesting, full flavors in the wine.

How far have you gone to get a favorite wine? I’d love to hear your story; share in the comments below! Cheers!