Dakine Vineyard Merlot

  • Producer: Longboard Vineyard
  • Location: Sonoma, Ca (Russian River Valley)
  • Year: 2015
  • Price estimate: cannot remember for the life of me
  • Tasting notes: Garant in color and opaque in the glass. nose of black fruits and baking spices, with nutmeg coming through. Flavors of blackberry, current, really ripe raspberry and a little licorice. Long finish – some tootsie roll, black forest cake and lots of cherry on the end.
  • Conclusions: This is not your typical Merlot. It has the typical Merlot flavors, but turned up and deep. Every sip was slightly different and I was so happy with this wine.
  • Notes: I bought two bottles of this somewhere around 2017. The first bottle we drank shortly after buying, but it wasn’t to my taste. There were a lot of tannins and it just seemed harsh, so I put the bottle away with a note to not open it until 2020. Well … it’s 2020 and we decided to give it a go. The day we opened it, I was sad. It was harsh, hard to drink and had a ton of tannin and vine taste. It was fine with food, but not something I could sit and sip. We put it away for the night and tried again the next day. Holy cow was I glad we did. The transformation in the wine was amazing. It became everything we love about Merlot and had none (and I mean none) of the harshness, tannins or bramble flavors it had the day before. It was amazing and one of the best wines I’ve had all year. Now I’m sad that I don’t have any more of it, but I do have a bottle of Malbec from Longboard that I’m going to open the day before I want to drink it. Fingers crossed it just needs to open for a day to be as amazing.

Socks for Bob

After I got a few good pairs of socks down, Bob and I started talking about what kind of socks I should knit for him. He wanted something warm – really warm – and thick. Yes, we live in Florida, but as he put it, if he is going to wear socks, he wants warm socks. Okay, worsted weight or DK weight yarn it is, now for color and pattern. This took a little more time. We kept trying to go through yarn in my (every growing) stash of yarn, but nothing was coming up just right. So, after Easter when I was ordering some yarn for a specific pair of socks for me, I added a pretty grey/black/white DK weight yarn for Bob’s socks. the color is called Grey Tabby, so I liked it immediately.

I was really surprised at how fast these knit up. The patter was super simple and with the heavier weight yarn I managed to finish the pair in just under a week. It took the entire skein of yarn (larger feet = more yarn) but they came out really well and fit pretty much perfectly. Bob was happy with his new socks and has started planning for the next pair. I did mention I have a queue of about 7 pairs before his next pair, but we will get to another pair for him soon-ish.

2018 California Pinot Grigio

  • Producer: D.H. Elliott
  • Location: California
  • Year: 2018
  • Price estimate: $10-$13 (Naked Wines)
  • Tasting notes: Pale straw color. First impression was of chardonnay when tasting – smooth and creamy like a chardonnay, and the flavors of apple, pear, lemon curd and a touch of vanilla made this not your typical Pinot Grigio. A few herbal notes came mid-palate and there was some nice bramble and peach on the finish. Good flavor and interesting to drink.
  • Conclusions: When I opened this bottle I was not expecting this wine. I was thinking it would be either not much flavor at all (unfortunately like a lot of Pinot Grigio out there) or very citrus forward. It wasn’t. This was a really good, lots of good flavor Pinot Grigio. After being opened a day, more of the citrus came out, but the smooth texture was still there making this a wine I may very well pick up again.

Erin’s Socks

A while back I picked up a sock guide from Modern Daily Knitting. In it was multiple patterns for different sock legs and options for cuffs etc. When I picked up the book I also got some really pretty yarn with the intention of making a pair of socks for Erin. Originally I wanted to make these for her birthday, but things got busy and I didn’t do it. So, with the stay at home orders and the lack of commute, I found some additional time to make socks and finally used the yarn as intended – for a pair of socks for Erin.

The pattern I used called for a toe up sock – which I have really wanted to get better at making, so I went for it. However, the sock felt large and the heel really didn’t work for me, so I ripped the whole thing out and started over with a cuff down version. I changed the number of stitches in the pattern slightly and got, what I hoped would be, a better fit. The sock felt right and I used my usual heel flap and gusset heel method with much better results. One of these days I will master a short row heel, but a gift pair of socks is not the time.

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In the end, I was really happy with how these turned out. And I have enough yard left over to make a pair with contrasting heel, toe and cuff for myself. Now I just need the yarn for that project.

June Update

The school year has ended! Yay! I can hear the deep sighs of parents and teachers everywhere who NEVER want to do virtual learning again.

We made it through the year and are now working on plans for next school year and all that will come with it. For me, this means something a little more this year. Starting July 1st, I will have a new job. Same district, different job. A promotion opportunity came open and I applied for it even though I didn’t think I had a realistic shot. It’s more than a step up for me, and a higher profile position than I thought they would give to a new administrator but … I got it, and I am super excited about it. This position does mean I’m leaving middle schools, but it’s okay. I will still work closely with my current boss.

The change of jobs means I’ll be working longer hours and 12 months. School vacations will now mean pretty much nothing to me as my days off will not be tied as closely to school schedules as they have in the past. I have a lot to learn, and a lot of work to do, but I’m excited. However, if I don’t post for a little while, don’t worry. Everything is fine, I’m just adjusting.

With quarantine, my weekly trips to the grocery store got pushed to every other week. I can stretch most food for two weeks, but fresh herbs and vegetables were a little harder. So in late April or early May I decided to try a hydroponic garden in the kitchen. Summer is a terrible time to try to grow anything outside in Florida, and the bugs were so bad at one point that I just refused to step into the back yard. So … I got a little garden and some seeds and went for it. It is working beautifully. My tomato plant (which was supposed to be a dwarf cherry tomato) got too big for the hydroponic. Even cutting it back several times, It was above the light and hitting the cabinets. So that got potted and I have a few more herbs going in. Hopefully in a few weeks I will have not just basil, cilantro and scallions, but chives, parsley and spinach. And my tomato.

I’ve done some more cooking and baking. The two stars of the show was the lasagna from the NY times. Val and I both made the lasagna on the same weekend – it is by far the best lasagna I’ve ever made despite using boxed noodles. Super creamy and really tasty. I’ve made it again since. I also got on a lemon kick and made both shortbread lemon bars and a cake with lemon curd and lemon buttercream icing. Talk about fantastic. Both were incredibly good.

The furry ones are all doing pretty good. Tigger is holding steady after his incident in February and the vet says he is doing better than expected. Given that neither the vet nor I thought he would still be here in June, that’s fantastic. He is still eating, still cuddling and still ignoring the kittens. He is really skinny, but he’s happy so I’m not complaining.

I got some fun new yarn to play with. One of the podcasts (The Catt Lady) I follow recently opened a hand dyed yarn shop and I was able to get a few skeins of some really pretty yarn. The orange/pink one is called Punk Flamingo and I cannot wait to knit it up. She has some amazing colors and after getting the yarn and seeing how beautiful they really are, I may have a new favorite place to get yarn from. The yellow and brown yarn was something I won in a knit-a-long that I’m doing so that was really cool. It isn’t a dyer I’m familiar with and I don’t think I would have picked the colors on my own, but it is beautiful yarn that knit up really well. I also picked up some yarn based on a Downtown Abbey theme – it’s a little out there, but I thought it would be fun and I love the colors. It is going to make a great pair of socks.

That really is all that is new around here. I’m getting ready for the new job, finishing out the old one and trying to get as much cooking and knitting in as I can before July since I know I won’t have time after that. Hope everyone is doing well and I will (try) to keep updating even if it becomes a slightly less regular thing. Happy summer!

Sonoma County Chardonnay

  • Producer:Franc Dusak
  • Location: Sonoma County, California
  • Year: 2018
  • Price estimate: $18 (not what we paid)
  • Tasting notes: Pale yellow in the glass with notes of apple, vanilla and white peach on the nose. Apple and quince with a little something I can’t identify. Lightly herbal with some stone fruit and mineral notes on the finish. Very smooth – creamy but not oily or buttery at all.
  • Conclusions: Very nice, easy to drink wine and much better than expected for a Chardonnay. This paired really well with our cheese plate, especially a double cream from Sweet Grass Dairy.
  • Notes: Since Val moved to California she has been drinking wine again and she introduced us to Naked Wines. While I’m usually skeptical of wine “clubs” where the wines are made for them only (can’t find them in stores) I decided to give them a try and used the coupon Val sent me to get a case of wine for about $60. I figured for about $5 a bottle, I can afford to try it. I’m actually glad I did. This is the first wine we had from them, but I was pretty impressed. I’m not a chardonnay gal most of the time, but this was good. I wanted something that would take me out of my comfort zone and make me try different wines again (I felt like I was getting into a wine rut – a very nice wine rut, but a rut all the same). So we will see how long I like these wines and what will happen when I run out of this case. But so far, really pretty good.

Val’s Warm Wooly Leftovers Socks

In my quest to help Val keep her feet warm since she is no longer in Florida, I made her another pair of warm socks with the Shetland wool I had left over. I was very worried that I would not have enough yarn to make a matching pair, but I had *just* enough. I have a little bit of the cream yarn left, but that is it.

Bob calls these Dr. Suess-ish socks and I suppose it does fit. They are super warm, 100% wool socks in a thick yarn. One of the best things about using thick yarn – the socks knit up very quickly – I managed to finish this pair in under a week (and yes, I was working, although I did have a day off in there).

I have one more pair of super warm socks for Val on the needles and then I’m going to some thinner yarn for her next few pairs. I’ll intersperse a few pairs for myself, and I still need to knit Bob a pair of socks, but I haven’t found the right yarn just yet. So … cute, warm, wooly socks.

Rocky Ridge Vineyard Zinfandel

  • Producer: Bruliam Wines
  • Location: Windsor (Sonoma), California
  • Year: 2016
  • Price estimate: $50
  • Tasting notes: Dark red, bordering on blood ruby with a tint of pink at the edges. Lots of granite and wood on the nose with very little fruit. Very soft and round with lots of dark fruits, chocolate cake and black cherry tastes. Really long finish with a hint of pepper on the end.
  • Conclusions: There are some wine you hesitate to open because they are more expensive than you are totally comfortable spending on the bottle, but after the first sip, you remember why you occasionally indulge yourself. This was one of those bottles. Definitely more expensive than I usually spend on wine, but 100% worth every penny. Lots of flavor, lots of complexity and a super smooth, easy to drink wine. When you close your eyes and sigh on the first taste, you know it’s good.
  • Notes: We opened this bottle to celebrate the success of my first work-from-home week. I figured since neither Bob nor I wanted to kill the other after two weeks of only seeing each other and having no way to take a real break, we thought it appropriate. I also didn’t have nearly as bad a transition as I thought I would have – just had to remember to log off and stay logged off – so we celebrated. We also had our first virtual happy hour with Val and Bill, so that was really nice. Good wine for that too.

Campfire socks

A few sock posts ago I mentioned the yarn I got from CatNappinIndie Yarn and this is the second pair that I knit up from that yarn. The color is Campfire, hence the name of the yarn.

For these, I did a toe-up sock (still learning) and used a Sweet Tomato heel. I love this heel because I don’t have to pick up tiny stitches for the gussets and I still have trouble with the double wraps on regular short row heels. I’ll learn, but for now, I like this heel. I chose an alternating slip stitch patten and I think it works really well with the yarn color and pattern. They were fun to knit up and Alinea definitely approves, although she would like to keep the socks for herself.

MBF Zinfandel

  • Producer: Mutt Lynch Winery
  • Location: Sonoma, California
  • Year: 2016
  • Price estimate: $32
  • Tasting notes: Dark ruby color in the glass and hints of cherry on the nose. Dark cherry, ripe raspberry, a little plum on the palate. A little dusky, but not unpleasant. Back end has notes of chocolate and black pepper with lots of spice on the finish. Good finish. Very smooth.
  • Conclusions: Mutt Lynch is one of my go-to wineries. The Man’s Best Friend Zinfandel is one of their more expensive wines, but at $32 a bottle, I’ll still drink it and not feel guilty because it is that good, but I won’t grab it every day like I might with some of their other wine. This was a particularly good bottle.