Another Good Book!

This past week was Book Club again….it’s kind of scary how fast time seems to be going lately. I love getting together with this group of women though, so it turned into a great night…This month’s book was a very popular one with both our group and the world in general….The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. This book is referred to by some as a “psychological thriller” but I think that’s a bit strong….it’s definitely a good mystery with some twists and turns (which I typically don’t read a lot of) but I was able to figure out “who done it” by the time they told us at the end of the book. It really kept my interest and once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down….so I would highly recommend it. Read a synopsis on the link above and you can even order it thru Amazon. This book is also being made into a movie with Emily Blunt playing “the girl”….who has a lot of issues… She’s such a great actress and I’m sure she will do a great job.  We were talking at book group how we’d like to see the movie together too.

Our group met at Dawn’s house, who chose the theme of picnic foods. Can you say Yum! We had quite a spread- that included Chicken Salad on Pretzel Buns, a lovely pasta salad, taco dip, Greek Layered Dip, (are you getting hungry yet?) and then dessert….which included Rhubarb Bars and a very naughty treat called Slutty Brownie Bars which were a ridiculous blend of brownies, oreos and cookie dough. They’re from a blog called What’s Gabby Cooking so check out the recipe and make some of your own….they were pretty amazing. Totally took care of everyone’s sweet tooth.

Of course there was wine and I brought along a bottle I picked up from Pine Ridge that was a Chenin Blanc/Viognier blend. Very interesting wine and at first I wasn’t sure I was going to like it but it grew on me after sipping a glass….(or two!) Because it’s a blend, it has different flavors from different grapes…so it was big time fruity, but also had floral notes, and a little spice..which I don’t always care for- but it ended up being pretty good. The price was great, about 13.00 and it was a pretty pour. I’m all about whites this month (lol, except for tonite….I’m drinking a red blend- more about that in another post)  Anyway, read about this wine, it’s from California…. you all know I love California.

I’m glad it’s Friday night so will sign off- have a wonderful weekend! Cheers!!



Planting the garden…part 2

Wow, it was a beautiful gorgeous weekend here. I’m finally feeling like spring has sprung- today it actually felt like summer….and the air conditioning went on at our house. I got some plants in the ground and feel great about that. The first time I planted  a couple weeks ago, Mother Nature decided that she wanted to cool things off and we actually had a spring frost- which in turn made my pepper and tomato plants all die- I should have waited but I so wanted it to be spring that I took a chance. Wrong decision. I feel like I’m past the point now where that will happen so more tomatoes, more peppers, more herbs, some kale, sunflowers, beans…..they’re all in the ground!  Yeay!

I drank a great bottle of wine this past Thursday and into the weekend- a great Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand that I’ve never tried before from Whitehaven Wines and it was excellent. Started out surprised as it tasted a little spicy, which was different to me…but also had a lemony, herby sort of flavor as well. The more I drank it the more I liked it! Check out their website, as this vineyard has a lot of different wines and I’m going to look for some others to try. I bought the bottle at the local Copps grocery store and it was under 15.00- would have this one again. I’ve been having a lot of good luck with the wines I’ve been trying lately.

The other new wine I tried this weekend was at a bridal shower party at a coworkers house this past Friday.  It’s so nice to see my work friends outside of the work place- work is stressful and we all tend to talk about….well work. This was such a fun night celebrating the bride Kayla…who is such a sweet person  I’m very fortunate to work with a great group of people and we have a ton of fun when we can just relax and enjoy each other. Because we were celebrating Kayla’s upcoming wedding, I chose a fun wine I found called Woop Woop from Australia. Loved the name and honestly bought it more for that rather than knowing whether or not it was any good. Well, I was pleasantly surprised and am actually heading back to the store to get more sometime this week. It was a really smooth Shiraz that was very fruity and full bodied- and a beautiful color when poured. I shared it with my coworkers and everyone loved it. A good pick!

Check out both of these wines and hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Until next time….Cheers!





Happy Mother’s Day to everyone….It is a gorgeous, beautiful day in Wisconsin….the perfect day actually…no humidity, light breezes, low 70’s, plenty of sun, birds singing….well you get my drift. Two of my three kids are home this weekend, actually my son MOVED home this weekend…so my empty nest is no longer empty. He and his girlfriend have officially moved in for a few months while he is working at completing his OT degree . He’ll be participating in two residency programs where he’ll see patients and everything! I’m so proud of him and know he will make a wonderful Occupational Therapist.

It will be great having him here but I’m just a tad worried about falling back into the routines and yes, challenges of having a child living at home again….having an ear open at all hours to make sure everyone is home safe and sound, that music and TV isn’t too loud, laundry isn’t being done at 1am….the normal things that kids do….except he’s not really a young kid anymore….he’s soon to be 28, which is really an adult. Man, when did that happen and how does time move so dang fast?  I hate that….Anyway, I know that we’ll all figure it out and things will be  just fine.

To celebrate his moving in,  the Mother’s Day weekend, and just generally being together we had a cook out last night on the deck. We had salmon on the grill, red potatoes with rosemary in foil, a great Asian cabbage slaw salad and a larger than large chocolate layer cake from Costco….it was crazy big….I am a total chocolate fanatic and this was even too much for me….delicious but just more than anyone needs….

My oldest daughter Caitlin whipped us up some Cosmo’s….she found a recipe from Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) that made 4 at a time….they were amazing and we had those for our happy hour. Here is the recipe for Ina’s Cosmos ….you just measure everything out and then just shake them out a couple at a time with ice…so tasty!  I don’t need another recipe after finding this one.

And of course any lovely meal like this one wouldn’t be complete without wine. The chocolate cake pointed to red so we went for one of my favorites…Petite Petit from Michael David Winery in Lodi, California. I bought this wine the first time I had it because of the whimsical elephant on the label and the cool bottle shape….but kept drinking it because of how fantastic it was. 85% Petite Syrah and 15% Petite Verdot, it is a bold, beautiful red….in fact so deep and dark that your teeth kinda turn red for a second after you drink it….lol, but so worth it. The taste is fruity and juicy with a hint of vanilla….and has a great finish, it’s a tiny bit dry but you hardly notice. I love this wine….try it, you will too!  It’s not pricey, I find it at Costco and other grocery stores for around 15-16 dollars. Makes a great gift or a bring along if you want to treat a host or hostess.

On that note, I’m off to plant some flowers as it’s simply too nice to be inside. Happy Mother’s Day to all of the women that help make families complete, wonderful, happy, healthy and kind…Cheers!


Clubbin’ it….

Book Club that is…. I have the pleasure and great fortune to admit that I belong to a book club. Not any book club mind you but an amazing, enjoyable, fun filled, great eats, laughter filled book club. We are a group of women that started this fabulous book group back in the 2000’s… and yes, we are still going strong today in 2016. We’ve lost a few women along the way due to different reasons, but we’re proud to say we have 10 of the original 15 members still with us.  It’s rather impressive when you think about it. The women that stuck with this group are all wonderful friends  that enjoy books and food. So much so that the actual name of our group is the “Read ’em and Eat Book Group”  We all look forward to meeting once a month and not only talking about a great book but also eat great food, drink wine (yes!) and of course other drinks as well, get off track a bit, catch up on life, eat more, drink more and just have fun. It’s always a great time and something I look forward to each month.

Some of our books create the best conversations- Things you would never talk about otherwise and a lot can be learned by our discussions….and that’s the beauty of it. You learn something different each month about everyone….and how they think about different topics and sometimes life in general. On any given book club night I learn something new about someone in book group- I love that!

This month we read the book “The Girls of Atomic City- The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II” by Denise Kiernan. It was a story about a “secret city” that was built in the Tennessee mountains and recruited thousands of civilians to work for the war effort. Many of those that worked there were women- everyone was kept in the dark on what exactly they were doing there until the end of the war…and no one was allowed to discuss anything about their days at work or what their tasks were. Our discussion was mainly about this main fact- how on earth would that work in todays world?? With social media and just the way people think and work and do things now, it seems unbelievable that this could have taken place. Made for great conversation and here’s a link to the book if you’re interested in reading or finding out more. It was a book that most of us enjoyed, even though it was a harder one to get thru in some parts.

The women in my book group are all wonderful and it’s a pleasure to get together with them. We always have a lot of fun together and food is a big part of our group. We try to have some sort of theme related to the book and this month our host Kris suggested that we make something that we would surely miss had we lived in war times and didn’t have the choices we have today. I decided to make something sweet because I’m all about sugar…but then changed my mind at the last minute to a really good salad that sounded good on Pinterest….ah Pinterest….the go to place for EVERYTHING….but that’s another post. Anyway, I made this fabulous Barbecued Chicken Salad from the website Damn Delicious that was a huge hit. I thought I’d include the recipe if any of you would like to make it. It was super easy and the assortment of ingredients were pretty amazing…everything tasted fabulous together. I used a rotisserie chicken to make it even easier.  Enjoy!

I will post more about the happenings on book club each month. And I’ll post next time about a great wine I had this past week. Until then….Cheers!












Finally Spring!!!



I can’t even describe the weather of this past weekend here in southern Wisconsin. My goodness….mid 70’s, low humidity, sun, light breezes….just a perfect combination after a very long winter here. I will try not to complain about our past winter because we got off easy in the way of snow accumulation….but it was just so long and took forever….makes a person kind of crabby….and I try hard not to be crabby.  So this beautiful weather made me glad to be a Wisconsinite!!!!  I’m hoping that winter is now behind us for good…I even went out and bought some flowers and got my hands dirty by potting them and put the deck umbrella up and everything. So all signs of spring!

Next weekend I hope to get out in my flower beds and clean those up. I love the idea of Spring and new beginnings. Everything is brand new and it’s so fun to see what made it thru the winter and what’s going to be peeping out of the ground. It’s just a beautiful season of fresh growth and new beginnings. Kind of like going thru different seasons in life. A time to start over if you choose. Here’s to Spring!

And because this is supposed to be a blog about wine, here’s a link to a special vineyard.  Edna Valley wines are some of my favorites. It might sound like I’m always saying that but I have yet to have a bad wine from them. I have never visited this vineyard but it’s on my list! Next time I go to California I’m going to visit and try everything they have. Ok, that’s probably not true but I will participate in a tasting and have fun and buy some of their wine… Until then, I’ll tell you about the ones I’ve already had.

In the summer I drink their Sauvignon Blanc- so fruity and fresh. Tastes like grapefruit and also a bit like how grass smells…if that can be a taste. Anyway, out on my deck with a glass of that and I’m just happy and content. Just lovely and it’s easy to find here so that’s a bonus. This past weekend my gorgeous firstborn daughter came home to spend some time with me….so that was a treat. We ended up buying a bottle of Edna Valley’s Cab. I would like to say that I had a glass…but I didn’t….I had a taste- that’s it, but that’s all I needed to know that I’d buy this one again as well. Can you guess who drank the rest of the bottle? (I think she liked it)

I’ve also had their Merlot in the dead of winter….think cocoa and cherries with a hint of anise. They have great info on the website so take a read and then buy your own bottle to try. Great prices. 14.00-16.00 range-



Spring in Wisconsin?

We’ve had some very interesting weather so far this April….Woke up to snow showers several times this month and it’s starting to feel like Spring is not coming anytime soon. I’ve refused to get my winter coat back out but it’s been downright chilly….the perfect weather for opening a bottle of red.

The one I decided on this past weekend comes from California again. It made it home in my suitcase from my trip to Texas, via my youngest daughter Hannah. Hannah lives in Northern California in the heart of wine country…Sonoma County. On top of that, her boyfriend Eric works at one of my favorite wineries out there…. St Francis Winery as a food and wine pairings Sous Chef. St Francis is a lovely place…there are so many vineyards in northern California and I have been to a small fraction of them while visiting Hannah…but this one is special (and not just because Eric works there) If you are ever in Sonoma County visiting, you should definitely go and visit. When you make that visit, be sure and sign up to experience a food and wine pairing event. It’s a great way to eat some fabulous dishes and taste amazing wines that compliment them. I’ve done it twice now and both experiences were super fun and I learned a lot about their wines. St Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals- which is pretty cool, because I love animals….. Here’s a picture of me while visiting the winery last October. They have a very large statue of St Francis there that makes for great photos and I took advantage of that. The grounds are gorgeous and definitely worth a visit. Their wines are some of my favorites and they have lovely tasting rooms and also some beautiful outside spaces to sit and relax and enjoy a glass of wine. The scenery is breathtaking…So if you get a chance, you should visit….You will not be disappointed! 20151017_170403-1

The wine that Hannah sent home with me was the 2013 Anthem Meritage. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. And it was spectacular!!  It was very full bodied and tasted  berrylike…but also had a spicy, almost peppery hint along with vanilla. Just lovely….

Here’s a thought before signing off tonite- found this so true! Happy Spring! Whenever it decides to show.



Texas has wine….

Last week we took a little trip to see two lovely young people get married…Laura and Eric- Eric is my nephew by marriage and Laura is from my hometown here in WI, but her parents are friends of ours and to make it even more interesting… from England!….this was a very fun wedding, with British accents and beautiful hats and fascinators and gracious guests….lots of love and laughter from everyone that came to see them say their vows. We had gorgeous weather and the wedding was perfect in every way. We were able to spend some down time with friends and family and also visited some Texan sites-

We spent one day in a little town near our hotel called Grapevine. It had a fun main street filled with shops, restaurants and surprise- Wineries!!! We stopped at two and both were great places to taste. We started at Umbra Winery and it was a very welcoming place with one of the prettiest bars I’ve ever seen….All amber and yellow tiles, was very cool. The guy working the tasting room was great and I really wish I could remember his name. He was originally from Michigan but had moved to Texas from the Eastern part of the country. He knew a lot about the wines and gave great info about the winery. They have some nice wines and Hannah and I especially liked the Sauvignon Blanc and a red blend called Red Fusion. The tasting room was modern and gorgeous and we ordered a delightful cheese board with bleu, gouda, brie and some other wonderful cheese I can’t recall…but it hit the hungry spot. If you are ever in this area, it’s a great tasting room…with a really cool bar as well.

The 2nd tasting room we stopped at was Bingham Family Vineyards and this one was very interesting. Really different wines than we’re used to- I can’t say that I fell in love with any of them but still  glad we stopped. Read their story on the website- they have not been in the wine industry long but like how they are very passionate about their grapes/fruit…they are trying different  varieties of grapes to produce different wines and they also grow grapes for other Texan wineries. We had an enjoyable time at this tasting room and the woman there was delightful and very knowledgeable. Bonus that some of the wines had great names..Dirt Farmer and Prairie Rose are two that I liked.

Anyway, we did some other enjoyable things in Texas. Took advantage of the weather and visited both the Grapevine and Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. Grapevine’s was small but still lovely and Forth Worth’s was huge…we could not get thru it all but some of the highlights were the Japanese Gardens and they had an awesome butterfly exhibit where I was able to get some stunning pictures. It was nice to get a dose of spring-like weather after a long winter in Wisconsin. Here are a few beautiful pictures to remind us that spring is somewhere…because right now I’m watching it snow out my window!




I’m packing my suitcase and heading south for a very special occasion. My husband’s nephew is getting married to a lovely girl from our community. They have a fun love story with how they met and now they’re getting married…this weekend! So we’re leaving for Texas in a few hours to celebrate love and family and new beginnings and Eric and Laura. Lots of excitement!

With weddings come sparkling wines and I found this great little video on the correct way to open a bottle of champagne or other sparkling wines. It may not be rocket science but some people struggle with these things once in awhile. So I thought I’d include it in case you’re trying to open up your own bottle.

It’s being brought to you by a website called Vino Visit, which has a lot of fun information about everything wine related. Click here  to watch it. Mr Vino Visit explains it all. This video actually opens up to explain how to taste wine which may seem super basic but if you’re not familiar with tastings, you’ll learn something new. The video that plays right after that one goes into the opening of the champagne. They’re short videos that have great information.

You’ll hear more about the wedding when I get home from my trip and tonite I’ll be drinking a new bottle when I arrive in Texas….because it’s Thursday night. Tomorrow we’ll be traveling to Grapevine, Texas where there are 8 wineries! Stories and pictures to follow!  Until then…..Cheers!

The thing about friends…

….is that they are good for drinking wine with!  True statement, and of course they’re wonderful for many other reasons as well. I find that as I grow older (and wiser of course) that my friends mean more to me than ever.  I’ve been blessed to have many wonderful friends in my life and the ones I spent time with this past week are very special to me. We just get each other and always have things to laugh and talk about-and sometimes cry too…but we’re always there for each other, good times and rough times and everything in between. Love my girlfriends-

I talked this group into visiting a local wine establishment in Madison called Table Wine. Madison is a pretty amazing city with tons of things to do…great restaurants, wonderful places to listen to music, farmers markets, Concerts on the Square, the list goes on and on….We have some great wine bars in Madison as well and this one is a wine bar/wine store all in one. I stopped in here the first time with a close friend, then took my daughters, then my sister and now more friends. Can you tell I like the place? Not only have I bought a fair amount of wine here, I’ve also tasted some wonderful ones. It’s in a great neighborhood with tons of restaurants and bars so is a great starting place for exploring.

The owner of this fun little spot (Molly) is super helpful and knows a heck of a lot about wine. She explains everything really well and also has some great information on the types of grapes, the regions they’re grown, facts about the vineyards, etc….My favorite thing to do at Table Wine (and I’ve done it each and every time I’ve gone) is to order a flight. You can get reds, whites or a combination of both. On this visit,  3 of us ordered flights and we just let Molly choose our wines…it was super fun and all of them were a hit (with the exception of one) She promptly poured something else for Jayne when she didn’t care for the wine. Really thoughtful and great customer service. Two of the group wanted to drink beer and Table Wine has a great selection of those too. We all had a great time together and will be back again…(or at least I’ll be). If you live in the area, you should stop in for a glass, a flight, or to buy a bottle! It’s also a great place to choose a bottle if you’re going to a party, need a gift, …or just drinking it on your own…like I do on Thursday nights, ha!  She has some wonderful wines and alot of them are in the 10-20 dollar range, which makes it even better.

I lost my list of wines I tried on my flight but I did buy a bottle of the one I liked the best. I’ll be talking about that one in a few weeks so stay tuned. Until next time- here’s a quote that’s rather fun-

Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever.