A Wine Tasting Party

Last Saturday night, my husband and I hosted a Wine Tasting Party for five guests. It was supposed to be Wine and/or Beer Tasting, since we assumed that not all of our guests would like wine. But only one couple brought beer, and everybody agreed to just drink Pinot Noir for the evening.

My husband had made a delicious spinach/artichoke dip, and we served it in bread bowls. I also brought out a variety of cheeses and artisan breads. A bit carb-heavy, but delicious! The Parmesan cheese was particularly good with the wines.

Everyone got a scorecard and a wineglass, plus their plateful of goodies (which we later brought to the table for easy reach). We did not hide labels, but instead recorded the name and year of each wine. My husband poured a little of one wine into each glass, and we all studied our goblets. (We repeated the process for each wine.)

We examined the color – ranging from clear red to deep garnet. We learned about legs – the viscosity of the wine, which also indicates the alcohol content; those of us who had the cut-crystal goblets had a tougher time seeing the wine cling to the glass. We stuck our noses in deep, and inhaled the bouquet – did we smell grass or oak or mushrooms? We read the label to see if we could tell. Everybody took a sip with a mouthful of air, and let the wine wash through our mouths – we tasted jam and cherry and once tasted licorice. We commented on the aftertaste. Some left our tongues feeling dry, and some stayed on the palate a long time. We all finished our glasses and sometimes had a little more before starting the process again with the next bottle.

Next to each of these categories, we wrote down scores – for color, bouquet, taste and finish. Some recorded only numbers, while others of us wrote long explanations. When all of the wines had been tasted, we each totaled the scores and ranked them. We tried five different wines (one we tried very cold vs room temperature to see the difference). We all agreed which was our least favorite, but the rest of the results were mixed.

We ended the evening with champagne and chocolate fondue and dippers (strawberries, bananas, pineapple, marshmallows, Nilla Wafers). And the beers – locally brewed – were tasted and evaluated by several guests.

A fun time was had by all. And the leftover bread made great French toast this morning!


Naming My Blog

I’m in the midst of a 5-day blogging bootcamp. Our first assignment is to come up with a name for our blog, which is causing me to rethink mine: Gray Clouds, Clear Skies; I am not my depression.

I’ve been blogging for a couple of years, in fits and starts. Not with any schedule, but more as the topic or mood hits me. I participated in several “classes” through WordPress.com, my blogging host site, which I greatly enjoyed. I may even retake one or two, just for the discipline of it.

I’d like to get better at this blogging thing, develop more consistency, maybe reach more readers. And now I’m wondering about my blog name.

I really like my tag line: “I am not my depression,” and maybe that would be a better description of my blog, but it’s not available as it’s own .com website; that domain has already been taken.

I might be able to rename what I have, and keep it here on WordPress.com. I like that idea, because WordPress has great tools and support, especially to me as I am still finding my way in this blogging world.

Or I could build my own site, with a suffix other than “.com.”

Any suggestions?

House for sale

My old house in WI is for sale again. I think this is by the people who bought it from us four years ago.

Friends told us, then we found it listed on Zillow. The advantage there is that we could see the MLS pictures.

Wow. That was hard. Everything was different.

New paint colors. I mean, every wall in that five bedroom house had been repainted. The vaulted living room wall. The cozy family room. The tall kitchen. Every bedroom.

New flooring. Beautiful wood kitchen cabinets – painted! A new walk-in closet, though I can’t quite figure out which room that is.

A workout room in the old hobby room. A study where my son’s bedroom used to be.

Each bedroom reconfigured. Strange large paintings on the walls. New bathroom fixtures and shower curtains.

Everything that could be changed… was.

They really made it their own. And erased us in the process.

I was surprised by how sad I felt.

Why would I have that emotional response? I mean, it wasn’t my house anymore. We sold it to another family. And they made it their own.

Maybe it just felt like the end of something. Not that we can ever go back in time, nor should we. Life moves forward.

But change is hard. And this was hard evidence of change.

The evergreens in the backyard had been replaced. There was a trampoline near the gardens.

It had all been redone.

Have I been redone? Am I different than I was four years ago? Yes. “Time marches on.”

And so part of me still grieves the move from WI, all these years later. It was the end of an era, of parenting kids at home. The start of our empty nest. Life with just the two of us now. First in FL, now in VA. What would make me think that WI would stay the same? We didn’t.

A Touch of Springtime

Back in November, a friend gave me four mini daffodil bulbs. I bought a small robin’s egg blue pot, and planted the bulbs tightly together in the planter.

I watered it, then stuck it on the back corner of my refrigerator, where it would stay cool and mostly dark. I made a note in my calendar for mid-January, to pull the pot out and place it in the window where it would get indirect sunlight.

Occasionally, I watered the pot in the fridge. More often, I forgot to look at it. Until it popped up on my calendar. I removed the planter from the fridge, gave it a good soaking, and set it in the windowsill.

I noticed that one bulb had popped through the soil, so I assumed that only three would potentially blossom.

I continued to keep the soil moist, and moved the planter into the window each day. Within a week, I had this:

The next week, my first bloom, plus lots of green:

Today, a second adorable bloom:

Springtime in February!

Early morning ponderings

I woke up at 1:30 a.m. and got up at 2:00 a.m. Not for any particular reason, like I couldn’t sleep. More like I just wanted to be up. Weird, huh?

I was thinking about a good friend in my old workplace who recently got a new job – I found out yesterday that she had changed employers. It made me excited for her. She’s the kind of person who would be great in a variety of positions, so I’m eager to chat with her and see how she’s liking it.

I thought about all the staff at my old job, how much I love our friendship even across the years and miles, how often and fondly I think of them, and how busy and tired they’re going to be as they install a new traveling exhibit this week. It’s a heavy one! I prayed for safety for them as they carry those large pieces into place. I wished I could be there for the chaos, and the satisfaction of a job well done, the smiles and giggles when the guests play with it all.

I began thinking about my sister and her family – we chatted earlier this week. But I forgot to ask if the clothes and books I gave for Christmas were a good “fit.” I sure wish we lived closer so we could grab lunch together and talk longer.

I thought about my girlfriend who lives far away and anticipated our weekly phone conversation tomorrow. I always look forward to our talks!

I was thinking about my friend Carol, who blogged yesterday about her day. I chuckled as I drank my mid-night tea (read her blog to understand why). Her husband has just started a new job, and I’m happy for the change of pace they will get to enjoy as a family.

Funny, three of these folks have seniors in high school. I thought about all those similar deadlines and events swirling through their heads each day as they plan and dream. Both the kids and the parents!

I’m enjoying the quiet of this early morning time. I think I’ll have another cup of tea and read on my Kindle.

Slumber on, world!