Welcome 2021

I’m still here. By here I mean alive, well, and still in Florida. Like a lot of people this year got away from me. The new job (same place, just a promotion to admin and what is officially a district leadership position) is great and has a lot to learn. That is the main reason I went silent for a good few months – every bit of brain power I had went to work and when I got home, I just needed to shut my brain off. So not too much reading, no writing, no experiments – just furry creatures, easy meals, and knitting.

This is not to say I didn’t enjoy my wine – I did. I just didn’t have the (I hate this term but it is appropriate) bandwidth to think about it, take notes (or pictures apparently) and write anything up. However, I can categorize the wine we drank into three categories:

Everyday wine (always under $20 a bottle, often under $10):

  • Trader Joe’s Vinho Verde. This lovely, refreshing, light alcohol and cheap wine was pretty perfect after 10-12 hour days in August and September. Close second here is the Gruner Veltliner. So darn good.
  • Sticking with whites for a moment, the Chinen Blanc I picked up was also lovely. I liked this more than Bob did but it had great herbal notes while still being smooth, crisp and easy to drink.
  • On the red front, I have to admit, Botabox Zinfandel and Black Box Pinot Noir are pretty good every day wines. They are not super complex and I have little desire for more than a glass or so, but for a not bad and pretty good with food, they will more than do.

Good wine that I don’t need an occasion to drink ($20-$30 range):

  • Bedrock Old Vine Zinfandel ($19 a bottle). This is my favorite go to wine. It is a wine I like so much I order it by the case when it comes out each year and then regret not getting more.
  • Desire Lines Cole Ranch Riesling. Again, this is one I order by the case since I can only get it once a year, but it is so incredible good I never regret it.
  • Mutt Lynch – almost anything by this winery is good for regular drinking. The Zinfandel and Pinot Noir are interesting and easy to drink and the Merlot is just perfect for those days. The Rosie Rose is a great summer sipper and none of the wines are so expensive that I feel guilty for drinking them on a regular basis.

Semi-Special Wines (Over $30 but under $40) These are the wines I drink when I want something good, something I’m going to sip and contemplate. I might have one on a regular weekday, but not when I’m super tired because I want to really think about the wine in the glass:

  • MoniClaire Barnside Zinfandel. This is probably the wine I would drink if I could only ever drink one wine. Deep flavors, lots of red fruits with enough mineral notes that it’s interesting and not sweet.
  • Anything by Bedrock – white, red, pink … it’s going to be good. We have multiple red blends and several different single vineyard Zinfandels around and every one is fantastic, slightly different than the others and complex and interesting.
  • Longboard Vineyards Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. These are incredibly good wines that are worth spending the money on. Not cheap, but not super expensive, they are worth it. Lots of depth of flavor and a wine you can think about or just enjoy – which is really hard to do.

Special Occassion wines (more than $40 a bottle). Some wines we save and only drink when we have a real reason to open them. It might be a holiday, my promotion or a celebration of some kind, but there has to be a reason:

  • Under the Wire Sparking Wine. OMG good and better than any Champaign I’ve ever had. Vintaged single vineyard wines that are pretty perfect.
  • Bruliam Pinot Noir. There are very few wines that are $50 a bottle that I think are totally worth it, but this is one of them. I only have one or two in the house, and we will only open these with other people and when celebrating something.
  • Fort Ross Pinotage. We only had two of these from our California trip and I really wish we had more. We saved and then savored the last bottle and I really need to get another bottle or two.

Since this is getting long, I’ll do a separate post for the knitting (I knit a lot last year) and pet update. Happy New Year and here’s to hoping I can get back to a semi-regular posting.

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!

General Update

I realized I have not done any kind of general update in a while. Not much is really new, but with all the virus new out there, I thought a genera update might be in order.

So … first things first, Bob is working from home full time, but that happened in December and was totally unrelated to the virus outbreak. I started with my regular spring break in March and we did not go back to work in the school buildings after. The school buildings are closed, but our district handed out over 20,000 devices to make sure every student had access to classes through distance learning. I spent my first two weeks helping teachers figure out how to teach remotely because you can’t just take your regular in-person lesson and expect to use it. So we worked on essential information, providing options for learning or demonstrating learning and how to run small groups to help those who are having more difficulty. I then shifted into professional development mode and have been working on and giving live PD sessions (virtually, of course) and helping teachers try to organize their lives and classes. Working from home is fine for me – I don’t miss going into an office and doing my job digitally is not that bad – in some ways it’s better than in person. I do miss the drive a bit because it was my gear up and wind down time, but I’ve adjusted.

Everyone asks if the pets are happy to have us home and in all honesty, the answer is no. They just do not care that we are here most of the time. Alinea gets irritated if I sit in her chair (the best place to record videos because it’s quiet and has a very neutral background) but other than that … not much has changed for them. Arthas still refuses to go for walks in the morning and they all do their own thing during the day. They re adorable, but not so interested in us.

I, like everyone else, is cooking all the time now. I miss going out to eat. I’m building a mental list of all the restaurants I am going to eat at once they reopen. But … in the meantime, I’m cooking. Not many elaborate dishes as I’m only willing to go to the grocery store once every ten days to two weeks, but some interesting dishes – grilled cheese with roasted tomato and pesto, quinoa and white bean tacos, vegetable pancakes, and of course a variety of stir-fry dishes. We are eating well, but I still miss take out.

So that’s it. I’m working from home and knitting up a storm. My stash of yarn may actually get mostly used this year. Bob is working from home and working on his car (don’t ask). The pets are good and totally uninterested in our presence and my pantry and freezer are better stocked now than they have ever been. The bathroom is done from the construction end, but we need to touch up some paint so final pictures are delayed. We are good. Can’t really ask for much more than that right now so there it is. We hope everyone else is staying home as must as they can, staying safe and staying well.

Bathroom Renovation part 4 – Almost Done

I our initial plan/timeline for the bathroom renovation, spring break was going to be the time for me to just enjoy the completed project. Maybe get a few things like new towels and rugs, but the actual renovation would be complete.

Unfortunately due to a few delays (wrong cabinet which delayed the counter measurements and glass fabrication) the bathroom is not done yet. It is usable at this point (yay!) but not complete. We have the glass for the shower to be installed and a few minor things to fix/adjust. Now with the virus and social distancing and limiting contact I’m not sure how that is going to impact the bathroom, but in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t a worry.

The counter with the sinks went in, as did the matching window sill and the end cap for the half wall by the shower, faucets, mirrors and lights went in next and Bob and I added a privacy film to the window. Outlets and light switches got their covers back and we are now in holding mode. It looks good and is usable so we’ve moved our stuff back in and have begin working out the little things – like where to hang towels and who gets what drawer.

img_20200306_063948I’m hoping the final touches will be done soon, but if they aren’t, that’s okay. Whenever it gets done it will be great. The bathroom feels so much bigger now, and the shower is just lovely. I’m still gaga over the tile, especially the shower floor tile. Even Alinea likes it, I think.

Bathroom Renovation – part 3 – Paint & Tile

The bathroom renovation is progressing. There have been a few hiccups as there are with any house project but luckily nothing that has delayed construction too much.

Before the tile went in Bob and I painted. We could not remember the exact color of our bedroom, so we picked a paint we thought was close and just painted. It worked. We have a pretty, peaceful yet happy blue color.

I will fully admit that when the tile started to go up I got a little nervous. The large tile on the wall looked a little odd to me, but I just waited. I was sure that once in, I would be happy. Well . . .

Yeah. I’m happy, and especially happy with the shower floor and shelf. I can’t tell you how much those little things make me smile when  I see them.

There was also a minor mishap with the cabinet – they ordered the wrong one, so that wasn’t in as expected, but it was almost a good thing because we wanted the tile to go under the cabinet anyway, so it’s all good.

Bathroom Renovation – Part 2 – Demolition

The bathroom project started! It took pretty much one day, but everything is out of the bathroom and ready for the next steps. Apparently (Bob was home, I wasn’t) it was loud and dusty and a lot of work, but it was done.

The shower and tub tiles were removed very cleanly and neatly, and the area that was under the tub was resurfaced. Alinea, of course, made her mark in the wet cement. Bob and I are calling it a nice touch and something we will always know. Part of her will forever be in this house.

We have a new half wall for the shower and later in the week the plumbing went in and the drywall, except for the shower area, was finished.

Over the weekend, Bob and I painted. I thought I had the chip or some paint left from when I painted our bedroom, but I didn’t, so we had to guess with the color. I think got close and I really like the way it is looking.

It’s hard to see in the pictures, but it is a nice, bright yet peaceful blue. I think it is pretty close to the bedroom color and will look great with the tiles and new vanity.

Next week is the shower walls and tile so we should get a better idea of the final project soon.


Bathroom Renovation – Part 1 – Before

It’s kind of amazing, but Bob and I have been in this house for over 12 years. This is the longest I’ve lived in any one place since the house I was born in. Our house is just about 20 years old and everything in it (that we haven’t already replaced) is your basic builder’s grade. This includes our bathroom. Our bathroom that we haven’t been totally happy with since we moved in, but it was functional so it wasn’t high on the priority list to change.

The priority list changed. We have some issues with the tiles in the shower that I didn’t notice until it was a little too late. I spent a good six months trying to figure out how to fix it, and then decided we needed a new bathroom. Two years later, we are getting a new bathroom.

Not only are we going to get rid of the problem in the shower, we are getting rid of the garden tub that takes up a ton of space and we have maybe used once in 12 years. Once. The cats play in it a bit, but I don’t want to keep the darn thing just so Ella has a place to play. She has lots of places to play, she doesn’t need the tub.

So … we have a contractor. We have a start date. We have tiles and cabinets and fixtures and everything picked out. So here are the before pictures.  I’ll try to post progress as it goes along.

It’s not a bad bathroom. But oh for it to be shiny and new! And without the tub.

Happy 2020 !

Hi there. It’s been a while. I took some unexpected time off from writing but I’m hoping to be able to do a little more now. For those familiar with Florida school schedules, you may have noticed that my lack of posting coincided with the beginning of our school year. All for good reasons – work is great, I just took on an extra project that then turned into two more projects for the district – all in addition to my regular job – so I’ve been a little busy and a little stressed. The projects are not going away this semester, but I think I’ve got a better handle on them all and can figure out how to balance things so I can get back to posting.

So quick update … babies are good. So good. So cute.

I’ve managed to keep up with the knitting and have to admit – it is a little addictive. This past year I’ve knit a few things including three (yes three) sweaters. I made a test sweater for me that I love and wear all the time, I made a sweater for Val for the lab and one for Mom because she liked mine so much. Yay me.

I’m also still drinking wine, of course. We got quite a lot from our trip to Sonoma this year, and then some more after that so the house is pretty full of wine. Hopefully I can remember to write up some notes on some of them because what we’ve had so far from this lot is just amazing.

So … hopefully I will do better about posting and have some new knitting projects to share and some good wine to share and maybe, just maybe a new recipe or two. Although that one is doubtful given the current work commitments.

Have a wonderful 2020 – raise a glass to a great year full of possibilities.

Magical Mystery Garden

When I lived in Jersey I had beautiful gardens. Gardening was fun and I grew things. Beautiful (should have been on a magazine cover) gardens of flowers and a few tomatoes and peppers. One of the reasons I loved gardening so much in Jersey (in addition to growing the best tomatoes in the world – yes, I said it) was that I could spend one whole day, just one, and do everything. Weeding, mulching, trimming, picking, planting etc., it could all be accomplished in one productive Saturday.

img_20190525_091048Florida is a little different. We have such a large yard with so many bushes that it takes three our four weekends, working most of the day both days, to weed and trim. Add in the snakes that like to live in the bushes, the very high humidity and long months of hot and gardening isn’t as much of a joy. So for the last few years I’ve stuck with a small plot and a large pot. I pretty much ignore the rest of it, but my herb garden is my thing.

I gave up on planting much this year. With the new job, I just didn’t have time to plant vegetables. I have one kale plant left over from last year’s bumper crop and it is producing again, so I’m good with that. I have great herbs – mint, basil, oregano and thyme – in the pot and my rosemary plant continues to be a beast. Seriously, it’s huge. So imagine my surprise when I walked out last Sunday to get rosemary for my pot pie I was making and saw this …



That is a zucchini plant. A large, growing and producing zucchini plant. This would not be so odd, but I didn’t plant zucchini. I didn’t even toss a zucchini in the garden. I must have tried to compost some and missed, but I have a large, growing, healthy, producing zucchini plant next to my garden. Yes, next to – not in.

As of this morning, I have seven (7) baby zucchini. Seven baby zucchini from a plant I didn’t plant, didn’t water or check on, and didn’t know I had a week ago. If Arthas doesn’t eat them – he is usually very good about not eating things that are in the garden – then I will have a bumper crop of zucchini … that I didn’t intend to grow.

Well Hello Again

I’ve been slacking in the post department. I have excuses – good excuses – for this but the result remains the same … I’ve been slacking in the post department.

February was super busy between projects at work and Mom’s birthday celebration. I managed to stave off the cold I felt threatening for most of February until that was over, but once the end of February hit, I got sick and stayed sick for a while. At first it was just enough to make me not want a drink and to really tire me out. Then over spring break, it got worse, but then better until the beginning of April where it turned into what I can only assume was the flu. Fever, chills, dizziness, lack of appetite and just general everything hurts.

So … between super busy stuff at work and being sick for a few month I’ve slacked on the posting. I haven’t been very creative in the kitchen, we haven’t traveled anywhere and I drank far less than normal since it’s just not a good idea to combine illness and drinking.


The pets are doing really well. They have all come to an accord and have realized that no one is going anywhere, no one is going to hurt anyone else, and they will all get food, love and attention. The girls still run around the house every day, chasing each other and playing. It is really nice to see and a little surprising at how active they still are. Tigger is doing better – he seems to have gained some weight back although he still can’t meow. He can hiss just fine and when the girls get to be too much for him, he lets them know, but he does play some with them and seems to be okay with their company. Arthas is awesome. He does really well with the cats and now I can walk him without him going nuts when he sees another dog. He still doesn’t like them, but he is so much better. We are working on the weight – he went up to 53.5 pounds and we are slowly getting him back under 50. He will never be skinny, and that’s fine, but at least he is dog shaped now and not sausage shaped.

I took advantage of being sick and not able to be terribly active to do some knitting. I finished (finally) the blanket for the spare room – it is about a mile of yarn and really heavy, but I think it looks great. Needing a smaller project, I also started making some cat toys. The fish and the heart are probably my favorites, but the octopus come out pretty cool too. I’ve alternated between giving them to my cats and saving them to donate to a local shelter. Recently I started on a cardigan and if it turns out that I can do it, I’m going to make one for Val too. Bob has requested another scarf, so my queue of projects is growing.

Hopefully I’ll be better about posting now that the school year is winding down and I feel better. It may be a bit before I get wine posts up, but I should have plenty to post in June since Bob and I are heading to Sonoma for a little vacation. I’m super excited.