Thursday, June 26, 2008

Artesa Chardonnay

In light of our sad wine fridge, I made a case white wine purchase through a recently joined wine club as well as stopped by Sam’s Club and wine shops to pick a bottle up here and there. (its always easier to stock up when you buy a bit at a time. In the past few nights we’ve tried a few note worthy chards (well, note worthy for those who like or might like chards one day). The first was a 2006 Artesa Carneros Chardonnay. Green apples, but not tart….it had just enough cream finish to remind me of an apple crisp topped with vanilla ice cream. I liked it more than Mr. Lush did-I think he prefers a bit more of oak, and this has some stainless steel aging along with oak, to give it a slighter clean, but lingering finish, if that makes sense. Here’s the tasting notes from the winemaker:
Lemon blossoms, green apple and honeydew melon are front and center in this Chardonnay. This crisp fruitiness is combined with nuances of creme brule, vanilla, toasted macadamia and humidor cedar making this wine both easy to enjoy and seductively complex. Supple and silky yet crisp enough for food, a great accompaniment for food and friends.

More to come on our chardonnay love affair…..

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summer drinking habits

Recently Lucy and I were talking about our summer drinking habits and I mentioned how we need to stock up on whites for the summer. (Our new 100 bottle wine fridge was full of reds, but the white side was very gloomy looking.) She mentioned how the Luce's drink a lot of red during the summer with the grilled meat. I had never really thought about it, but while we do have steaks and ribs and brisket multiple times during the summer, we do end up drinking much white wine and our consumption is nearly flip flopped. Although Mr. Lush is a grill master, BBQing Lush-style is an event that takes hours. This means we don't have a ton of grilled meat in the heat of the summer, as I don't like to make Mr. Lush stand out by an open flame for 5-8 hours. (I said it was an event, didn't I?) Because it is an event, we typically only BBQ for company. Its very sad, but do stay tuned for good BBQ pairing posts to come.

I wonder if others are like us and switch to a primarily white wine menu during the summer or if they are like the Luce's and let the grilled meat lead them to joyous consumption of red. Is it a temperature driven decision or a menu driven decision or both? Food for thought, as I sip a glass of chardonnay.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dinner with friends who don't like wine

To me, one of the more stressful decisions regarding wine and entertaining is what to serve when your guests aren’t that into wine.

Do you drink wine and serve them something else? Sure, this might be feasible at a dinner party atmosphere, but what if you’re only having one couple over? Doesn’t that seem rude to serve up a bottle of wine and say “hey, wanna Bud Light?”.

Do you care about pairing? I mean, will they even appreciate it? For example, if all you like is sweet wines, you won’t like a cabernet if I served it with a beautifully aged and perfectly prepared prime steak-its just not your thing. Sure, if they happen to like red and you’re serving red, it might all work out, but then what about the price?

Do you serve a cheap crap wine? Sure, that’s probably all that they’ve had, but they probably don’t like it and you certainly don’t, so why ruin your meal?

Do you serve a nice bottle and try to convert them? I mean, its unfair to give someone a glass of bad wine and expect them to understand why you like it so much. But, what if they hate the nice stuff and just slug it down to not hurt your feelings? Is that how you want your wine wasted? Do you just suck it up and say well, at least I got to have a nice wine with dinner?

I don’t recall who, but someone told me they go into the kitchen to pour and pour themselves a nice glass and their guests a crap glass. I don’t know what I think about that-that seems so dishonest and cheap. Somehow cheaper and more dishonest than serving them beer while you drink wine.

I think the best option is find a solid value wine, maybe in the $12-$15 range that you like enough to buy for $20 and serve that. Then, if they don’t like it, that’s fine- only $7.50 was wasted. It might mean some research on your part. Luckily Mr. Lush and I have done extensive research on value wines with our wedding wine tastings, so feel free to look those over for ideas. Or of course, have a fairly full bar and be able to offer them cocktails or beer or wine, so they have a choice. Probably an even better option-then if they opt for a gin & tonic, you can break out whatever you want.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Get phone #s and addresses via text message

I want to share something neat with my fellow bloggers. If you can text message, you can get addresses and phone numbers (of businesses) for the price of a text message. I have a package of 400 text messages, so its free for me. Here’s a couple scenarios in which this worked for me:

Scenario 1: I was out on a Sunday and wanted to eat sushi. I knew most were closed, and didn’t want to drive all over town to find one. So, I pulled over and created a text message that said:

Seki 63143

The 5 digits after that were the closest zip code I knew by heart-which happened to be like 10-15 miles away from where I was. I texted that to google. (spelled out in numbers- 446453) Within one minute I had the address and phone number for Seki in the Loop and was able to have my Sunday afternoon sushi lunch.

Scenario 2: Another time, I was out shopping in an area of town I don’t frequent often and need to run by a Bank of America. So, I looked on a receipt of the store I just left, and texted:

Bank of America 63118
To “446453” And got 3 text messages telling me the closest Bank of America’s to the zip code I was in and I found it no problem.

I happen to know a few zip codes around town since I used to live or work in various parts, but even if you only know your own, you can still get information-you just might have to scroll through a few text messages. Anyway, its neat, and a heck of a lot cheaper than dialing information, so I thought I’d share.

Pregancy pacts-what are we coming to?

Today I heard about this “pregnancy pact” where 17 girls (all under/around 16 years old) in a school in Massachusetts promised to get preggo by whoever might have able sperm (One of these girls are reportedly pregnant by a 24 year old homeless guy) and then they would all raise their babies together.

What a sweet bonding experience, right??!!??

Seriously, what is wrong with these girls? I’m well out of high school, and I’m MARRIED and I have such zero desire to have a baby right now that I have three daily alarms to remind me to take my birth control. Three-that’s right…my work calendar, my cell phone, and my personal email. Am I going a little overboard? Possibly, but that habit started out when I was in high school and having a baby was about the scariest thing ever. Now its not scary, I’m just not ready to be totally completely responsible for someone else. (which is proven by my relative impatience with potty training a PUPPY- something that will only last a few months, versus years)

Its insane to me-sure, people can still have successful lives after having a kid in high school, but why make it harder to succeed? Why go through that effort? Why not get your life together, then should you want to, bring a kid into the world?

For the record, I want to say I support any and all decisions to have or not have children at whatever age and/or period in life you want. I don’t care if you’re gay and want to have kids or you’re heterosexual, married, and financially secure and DON’T want to have kids. It’s all a personal choice.

My beef with girls in high school having kids on purpose is that its pretty likely most of those will end up on some federally funded assistance program. I mean, how can they not when some of them have less than as sophomore level education?? I can’t use my tax money to pay for my friend’s vasectomy and so I shouldn’t have to pay for food and shelter and health care for some low self esteem having teenager who thought having a kid meant someone would love her.

Graduate high school, get a job, save up a bit of money, then go ahead and have a baby if you want. But don’t make me pay for it. Our economy is in enough trouble as it is.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

SITC-Unanswered questions


This post contains spoilers on the Sex in the City movie.

Last night I went to see SITC with my friend Lucy. Luckily I had managed to avoid all spoilers, although I did suspect there would be a twist of some sort. Of course it ended with a nice neat bow but left some unanswered questions for me.

-What about the penthouse? Did Big end up buying it again? What about that great closet?
-What the heck is the deal with Big not being able to find Carrie after the wedding fiasco? I know, New York is a big city, but come on…doesn’t he know her favorite restaurants/shops? I mean Steve tracked down Miranda at the rehearsal dinner, why couldn’t Big track down Carrie? Sure, maybe he gave her space and all that, but come on. 5 months and he couldn’t run into her somewhere??
-Did Miranda move back to Brooklyn?
-Speaking of Miranda, hello-waxing isn’t the only way to keep the bikini area less bush-like.
-And really, Samantha didn’t cheat on Smith? Doesn’t that seem out of character of her? Or at least to get some post break up fling with her hot neighbor, Dante?

I have more commentary type fodder, but those are what left me puzzled.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I take my showers BEFORE work, how 'bout you?

I’ve worked in two places in my life that had showers in the office area. One was a manufacturing corporate office built in the 1950’s, and said shower was in the gym. Yes, they had an old gym with equipment older than me. So, yes, they had two showers and that makes sense with a gym.

However, in my current job there’s two private bathrooms with showers. I don’t work in a manufacturing plant, nor is there a gym. Just two showers. I’ve always thought they went unused but today I went in there and it smelled like someone had just taken a shower (like smelled like bar soap and shower gel, that type of thing). Sure enough, the shower was wet. How odd. Who takes showers at work??

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I've been tagged

Recently I was tagged by Lucy:

1. What were you doing ten years ago?
Ten years ago I was in college, just finishing my first year of sub-par college peformance. It took a ibt to get used to college-I skated through high school with ease but then had to keep up on my reading on my own, a rather difficult thing for a procrastinator to do.

2. What are five things on your to-do list today?
Print off info on my wine for the meeting tonight. Spend some time training Layla. Review a couple of things for my midterm Wednesday. Get a birthday treat pedicure. Swing by Sam's Club and pick up some Port Salut.

3. Snacks you enjoy?
Cheese and sausage, chips and cheesy ro-tel dip, fruit.

4. Places you’ve lived:
Kansas City, MO, Phoenix AZ, Indianapolis, IN, and St. Louis, MO.

5. What are 5 things you would do if you were a billionaire?
1-Pay off our and our immediate family's debt. 2- Give every adult in our immed family 9,900, then hire someone to manage the best way to let my family live well without dealing with massive double taxation. 3-Rent a villa in Italy and one in France-spend a month in each. Invite anyone who can take off work to come with us (of course paying for their expenses). 4-Determine one cause I could donate some money to that would make a significant difference. (ie perhaps donate enough to an aminal shelter that they could expand and / or hire more people) 5-Buy a few houses, bulldoze them, and build a dream house. (my dream house is not a dream house without being in an ideal location-so that means I'd buy 2 houses next to each other and make one house from scratch.)

Technically I'm supposed to tag 5 more people, but I don't know of 5 who haven't already answered this.....

Faun Chardonnay

Its summer and time for the Lush’s to resume their love affair with Chardonnay. Recently we had a bottle of Faun Vineyards Chardonnay. It was really well balanced. A little bit of cream, a little bit of oak (French, not American), little bit of crisp citrus. No mineral taste. We drank it by itself, but I think it could go well with a variety of seafood or chicken based dishes because of its balance.
Of course, its from Gold Medal Wine Club, so we’ll have to order it in order to get it, but it really was nice and so next time we order, we just might.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Overheard in the office

I recently discovered “Overheard in the Office” on Yahoo. Its basically things people write in that they’ve overheard in an office or really, just anywhere. As with all real life moments, some are funny, some are not. Here’s a couple-hopefully you’ll laugh.

Boss: Hey, can you make a calendar that looks like this? [Hands a paper to her.]
Underling: Yeah. You know this is from [the other agency], right?
Boss: Yeah, the client likes it. We have to go with that.
Underling: But their calendar is a copy of the one I did for the client. The client just handed it to them, and they made all these little changes.
Boss: Yeah, just do it like that.
Underling: But I already did it. They only took my calendar and messed with it.
Boss: Just make it look like this one!
Underling: But it's my calendar!
Boss: Just make it look like this one! [Boss stalks off.]
Underling, to entire office: Am I in a Dilbert cartoon?
Susan*: What language was that?Office lady, hanging up phone: Croatian.Susan: Oh, wow, I didn't know you were black. [Entire office goes silent.]Boss, from his office: Susan*, you're fired.
Manager at employee bathroom: Why is this door propped open?
Waiter: Eric* just dropped a bomb in there.
Manager: F*ck, man, spray that air freshener.
Waiter: I did. The stink actually laughed at me.
Girl #1: Hey, do you want to do the Ann Landers 5k with me?
Girl #2: Ann Landers has her own 5k?
Girl #1: Yeah, it's to raise money for whatever she died of.
Girl #2: I thought she just died of being old. Wouldn't it be awesome if there was a 5k to raise money to prevent old?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Let us train our dog, please!

As you know, our lovely Layla Lush is in the process of being potty trained. Now, I understand she is oh-so-cute. In fact, we have an old soccer ball that she sometimes carries and allows me to pretend she’s fetching. (I’ll try to get a pic-its adorable-the soccer ball is as big as she is and sometimes she trips and rolls over it!!!)

However, last night in one of our many, many trips outside to go potty, I left her outside for a minute to grab the phone. During that time, our neighbor wanted to play with her through the fence. For the record, this man is easily 45, if not more, so no, we are not talking about a 6 year old. I came out, saw it, and let him play with her. No harm, except he seemed to let her bite his hand. (play bite, but bite) Well, we are trying to have her chew on things other than hands, shoes, furniture. Thus far, its been fairly successful, but I think it might be because of the fact her teeth are small. Anyway, ok, so he played, I brought her back inside. I’m sure she didn’t go potty-why would she? It was play time. So then of course, she “went” inside. Fabulous.

Fast forward an hour-we are back outside. He calls his dogs inside, but remains out there, talking to her through the fence (I see you, that kind of thing). I try to hint to him that she’s out there for a reason and please shut up… I say “Layla, quit chewing on grass, do your business”. But then he just keeps on. Man, shut-up. I’m trying to train our dog here. Yeah, she’s cute. Let her pee and poo and then I’ll even let you hold her. She’s way cuter when you don’t have to clean up her messes, trust me.


Books on France/Italy Wine Travel?

Mr. Lush and I are contemplating a trip to Europe next year to celebrate our one year anniversary, a monumental birthday, and my completion of graduate school. (“graduating graduate school” sounds so awkward, doesn’t it??) Regardless of the fact we are totally completely unable to afford it, and the dollar is getting to be close to a peso, we figure c’est la vie and we should travel now before we pop out little baby Lush’s.

On the potential itinerary is Ireland, France, and Italy. Clearly France and Italy would be wine destinations. Since I’ve never been to Europe, I figure I better start reading to try to get the best experience possible. Sure, I guess I could pick up a Frommer’s or Fodor’s book on France and Italy, and there’s a ton of wine tour books out there…but I want good ones. Ones that take me off the mainstream every now and then and maybe give me some insider’s tips. (It seems unlikely we can just expect the French locals to help us out. )

I have a Page-A-Day calendar about wine that recommended a book called “Wine Tours of the South of France”. She states it “comes closer to anything I’ve read to capturing the spirit and charm of southern French wine country”. Hmm. Sounds good, I’ll have to pick it up. I wonder what other good books about French or Italian wine regions are out there. Anyone?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Gas or shoes?

I just realized how much gas costs. I know, I know. Have I been living under a rock? I mean, yes, I have seen the price creep up and now it takes about $60 to fill my coupe's tank up. I got that. But yesterday, while I was waiting for an appointment, I went through my purse and found a $10 coupon for DSW that expired yesterday. I thought, well I guess I'll just go after my appointment. Then I realized the closest DSW to me was about 25-28 miles away, or 20 miles but through a TON of rush hour traffic. My coupe gets about 25 mpg overall, with about 60-70% highway driving. I realized it would cost me about $8 in gas to get there and back to use my $10 coupon. Wow. Holy crap.

Which is more amazing-that I just now realized how much it takes to go somewhere or that I just talked myself out of buying a pair of shoes???

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New World - wear your style and be proud!

My good friend Lucy recently blogged defending Cal-Ital blends. (California blends that are “Italian style” blends) It got me thinking….why does it have to be a choice between New World or Old World? Why can’t we like both? (like the Lush's and Luce's)

Sure, California Meritages and “Bordeaux style” blends don’t taste exactly like Bordeaux. Even ones that are supposed to taste like it don’t really. And who cares? Isn’t that what makes wine great-that there’s so much variety? I, like Lucy, have no desire to have the same wine at night.

And furthermore, who says new world wines have to be a “style” (like “Bordeaux style” or “Italian style”?) Why can’t it just be a wine all its own??

Now that I think about it, that might be contributing to the viewpoint…its like New World wineries are trying to copycat Old World Wines…almost making an argument that old world wine is better. Like the New World Wines are playing dress up in Mom’s clothes or something. No, New World is a style and that’s ok. It can be its own person (wine).

So, come on New World-quit talking yourself down, but still charging (in many cases) more than Old World Wines. Build a better case for yourself….maybe then Old Word snobs will see you for what you are- your own grown up style. Wear your style and be proud!!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Arriving perfectly on time

Just as Lucy envies those with directional abilities, I envy those who can arrive perfectly on time. When Mr. Luce generously helped us with remodeling our kitchen, he arrived daily at 8:00 as promised. On the dot. Not 7:59, not 8:01, but “eight oh oh” as Mr. Lush and I called it. We were in awe. (well, also in awe of his handiness) Punctuality and efficency might as well be the Luce Motto, so I don't mean to sound surprised.

Today at work I was expecting someone at 7:45. Typically people for interviews arrive a few minutes early, so at 7:41 I walked out to the front to see if she was there. I waited for about 2 minutes, then told the receptionist to call me when she arrived, and headed back to my desk. Just as I turned the corner into my cube, I noticed a car pull up and park in the guest parking space. Out came a woman in a suit, looking very interview-like. I headed back to the front and glanced at the clock as she entered: 7:45. How on earth can someone plan that well? I saw her pull up…its not like she was waiting in her car until 7:45. Really-we're talking about rush hour traffic time here.

I, on the other hand, have zero ability to arrive on time. I have clocks set random amounts of fast to fool me into not knowing how fast they are yet still I am either 5+ minutes early or 2-5 minutes late. I realize that’s not bad, and I used to be frequently late and have steadily worked on arriving in that +/- 5 minute time frame. But you see, I've been working on that for years, and I'm just in utter awe of those who can arrive exactly, perfectly on time. I don't think I will ever be able to do it.

Wine tasting notes

Ok, at the risk of sounding dorky, I keep track of all wines we taste on my PDA. Well, correction, I USED to keep track. At first it was great, but then it got a bit old. (Probably about the time we did all the wedding wine tastings) Originally, in the pre-PDA days we kept a notebook. But when we got to around 100w wines, we realized did we really want to flip through tons of pages in a store to find if we liked a wine? So, it was enough to push me over to into the PDA world. Which, I do love it and I love the fact I have scores on all my wines.

Software-After much searching, I realized I didn’t care for really anything out there- not even the popular wine magazines had exactly what I wanted and it was $50+. So, we downloaded WineMate for free. It lets you enter scores as well as keep tabs on your cellar (using the term “Cellar” loosely-we have maybe 15 bottles we’re keeping for 2+ more years) Its not perfect, but it was free. It’s easily searchable by varietal, winery, region, etc and lets you sort those results by score as well. So if I want to know what my favorite Chardonnays I’ve ever had are, I can find out in a few strokes.

I have found its fairly easy to keep track of wines we have that we like (minus of course parties or tasting events) but its not so easy to remember if we didn't like something. I have found myself looking at a bottle, swearing we’ve had it, but not remembering if it was just “ok” or if we didn’t like it. So, I have renewed interesst in keeping mine up to date-we’re at about 400 tasting records and once I add in wine club shipments and the wedding wine tastings, we’ll probably be at around 450.

However, even my most planning and organized friend, Lucy, doesn’t keep hers up to date and most people I know still use notebooks if anything at all. So my question is this- do we really drink that much more wine than everyone or does everyone keep their detailed notekeeping a secret?? (or do people really keep all that information in their heads??)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Commercials about one night stands?

So, watch this....

The shorter version on the TV isn't quite this long (

Now, it WAS on Comedy Central and it was on after 10:30. But still, I was a little suprised at it. Occasionally I get astonished at how half of society seems to embrace casual sex and the other half is pushing for abstinence.

First, I will say I am in no way, whatsoever offended by the commercial, in either its short or long versions. I just don't know if it was necessary to tie in sex with this. Just a wild night of partying and getting sloshed could warrant an energy drink. I'm not sure adding the sex tie in was needed. Although a really funny, I will be suprised if it doesn't get pulled or pushed to even a later time slot, seeing how its summer. All it'll take is a few 13 year old girls asking "Mommy, what's the walk of shame?" while they sip their Amp Energy drink.

Introducing Layla Lush

Here's our latest addition to the family. Layla is a boxer, currently 8 weeks old. She's precious and cute and has big ole paws and lots of puppy skin, which means she's going to be a big doggie.

I will say that having a puppy is enough to make me temporarily question our desire to have kids. (I said "temporarily" Lucy-don't read too much into it) For the first week we were up every 2 hours letting her out. Between her teeny bladder and being scared of the crate, it was an exhausting week. Finally, last night and the night before we are down to letting her out once during the night. Almost glorious. Almost.
Today she's learned to jump on the couch and get into trash, two things she can't do. Tomorrow we start training classes. I don't know how to feel about it-if I'm excited that we finally get to try to teach her things we want her to do, versus things we don't want her to do, or if I'm just tired of following her around and telling her what to do.
I bet my husband wishes I'd get tired of doing that to him. :)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Juno Shiraz and superheroine maidens

As you might have read Mr. Lush and I are on an Artist Series Label Quest. Recently we tried the 2005 Juno Shiraz from South Africa. Here's the story with the wine labels, which are sort of whimsical:
Meet the Artist behind the labels, Tertia du Toit.Artist, gourmet, wine lover. Her art already adorns many households – with designs on bottles of jam, spices and book covers.She paints a picture of the atmosphere of the wine, the taste and the aroma. The girls are part of exhibitions, a collection of paintings that dance around the idea of womanhood. Her paintings focuses on the female figure, milkmaids and Madonna’s, an abundance of life’s pleasures. With the strong colours and dramatic poses she invites whoever dares, ‘to indulge’. The aim with the labels is to create an integrated visual meeting between the predominantly male winemaking traditions and the sensual nature of the wine itself. The eventual idea with the usage of the Maidens is not to objectify them but rather to turn them into super heroines.
Hey, I can get behind that. Particularly with the wine's price- $12. I was pleasantly suprised...typically I'm not a fan of South African wines. I only purchased the bottle for the label, thinking full well I wouldn't like the wine and it would go down the drain. In fact, I've only had two, maybe three South African wines that I actually like. This is one of them. Its not overly jammy, not overly spicy, like a lot of wines in its price range who just can't seem to find a good balance. The Juno is just sort of lush and spicy and we'll definately purchase again.
This quest is fun!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Chardonnay and salmon crustinis

We recently hosted a wine tasting meeting and my beloved Chardonnay was featured, along with Sparkling. Of course, being the host and loving Chardonnay I was tasked with finding the perfect dish...something that was finger food, but didn't need to stay hot. After pouring over articles and recipies, I improvised and mixed two receipies. One is for a grilled salmon and one is for smoked salmon crustinis. I didn't want to use smoked salmon, as I'm looking for complimentary flavors to the wine, not overwhelming.
I apologize for the non-specific measurements, I had to wing it and don't exactly remember:

Mix olive oil and Terragon in a bowl. Brush over salmon filet, with skin on it. (obviously don't brush the skin side) Grill. Flake off into very small pieces. Let cool, refrigerate. Meanwhile, get ital bread, brush with olive oil, bake. We baked at about 400 for about 12 minutes. Let toasts cool. Spread toasts with herbed goat cheese and brousin. (I personally used more boursin than goat cheese, because I didn't want it to be overwhelming with the wine.) Put on salmon. viola! It was really good and it was also good with the wines. We had varying levels of oakiness and buttery-ness- it went well with it all.

I also made asiago and mozz stuffed mushrooms, which were good with the crisper whites. The most expensive thing we tried tied for my favorite- it was the 2005 Netwon Unfiltered Chardonnay. Given a 96 by WS, it lived up the hype. Now, we just need to find better jobs or finally win that lottery we've been hoping for so I can afford the price tag- $55. Ouch.

But alas, that's what is great about the wine club-getting to try all those fun wines.