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.

Sparkly Socks

I love sparkles. I love yarn. Sparkles in my yarn? Yes, please.

Since I decided in December that 2020 would be the year of the sock for me, I signed up for a yarn box subscription for sock yarn. Once a month I’ll get a skein of yarn, which I’m hoping will give me lots of variety in my yarn and thus in my socks. I get the feeling if I picked out all the yarn myself, it would end up looking very similar and lack some variety. So …

This was my March Knit Crate sock yarn and it sparkles! I was really hoping for the black yarn from this box, but the blue ended up being really, really beautiful. I actually followed the pattern they sent and made the pretty leaf design on the front and the back.

The patter was a pain to knit, but it does look really pretty. These are definitely happy socks and I’m almost looking forward to cooler weather when I can wear all my cute socks. Almost. Let’s not get carried away – cold and I still do not get along.

Evangelho Vineyard Red, 2018

  • Producer: Desire Line Wines
  • Location: Contra Costa County, CA
  • Year: 2018
  • Varietal: Carignan and Mourvedre
  • Price estimate: $35 (from winery)
  • Tasting notes: Dark purple in the glass, just a touch of pink at the edge; good legs and a nice weight to the wine. On the nose, cut wood and dark fruit. Tastes of plum, cherry, a little bramble, tootsie roll and tart black raspberry. Long finish ending with a touch of black pepper.
  • Conclusions: This was a wine that was well worth it’s price and more, Perfect tartness, lots of complexity and amazing flavor. This is a wine to sip and linger and to have with food. (Paired nicely with pasta.)
  • Notes: Normally I order the Riesling from Desire Line and call it good. Their Riesling is amazing, one of my favorite, so I try to get some every year. Last year I took a chance and picked up this bottle, and one other red just to see. I am so glad I did, and really wish I had gotten more than one. This was a really beautiful wine – fruit forward with lots of mineral notes and tons of character. Even at $35 a bottle, I would get more if I could.

Calico Kitty Socks

This sock knitting thing is addictive. It is so much fun to see how different yarns knit up, the pattern they create and what a variety of stitch patterns can do for the yarn.

Val really liked her first pair of socks so I knit her up a second pair, this time with regular sock yarn so they are more sock, less slipper. I found the yarn on Etsy in a shop called CatNappinIndie Yarn out of California. I loved her colors and patterns, several of which were inspired by cats and picked up a few skeins back in January or February.

I have to say I really liked how these turned out – so much so I told Val if she didn’t like them I would make her another pair and take these back. She likes them, and apparently wears them all the time, so I’m now knitting her more socks. Apparently southern California is significantly cooler than southern Florida. 🙂

 

Screaming Betty, Vermentino

  • Producer: Delinquente Wine Company
  • Location: South Australia
  • Year: 2018
  • Price estimate: $20
  • Tasting notes: Very pale in color, almost clear. Very little aromas when cold. Some hints of apple, lime and pear, but not much. Very light taste. Citrus is the main flavor with some notes of peach and nectarine (Bob said the part near the pit, specifically). Short finish.
  • Conclusions: This wine was fine. It was very easy to drink, but didn’t offer much character, especially when cold. A little warmer and some of the flavors started to come through, but not as much as I would like. Easy to drink on a warm summer day and definitely a pool party wine.
  • Notes: I wanted to like this wine more than I did since it was part of our cheese and wine box from our wonderful local cheese shop. It went well with the cheese it was paired with, a California goat I believe and it did bring out some good flavors when a little warmer. So not bad, but not one I’ll seek out again.

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.

Friend & Farmer Tempranillo

  • Producer: Friend & Farmer
  • Location: Castilla La Mancha, Spain
  • Year: 2019
  • Price estimate: unknown (from our cheese & wine box)
  • Tasting notes: A purple-ish ruby color in the glass and opaque even at the rims. Aromas of dark fruit, licorice and chicory. Alone, the taste is sour, tart and sour like an underripe plum. With the cheese, chocolate and sour cherry come out and only a hint of the sour remains. Short to medium finish.
  • Conclusions: By itself, I was not a fan of this wine. I wasn’t certain how I would drink it, but once paired with the cheese, it really came into it’s own. Good, strong flavors that compliment food. Not my favorite wine, but as long as I’m eating I wouldn’t turn it down.
  • Notes: My local cheese shop does a monthly cheese and wine club that we decided to try after years of just doing there regular monthly cheese. This was paired with Jasper Hill Clothbound Cheddar and it did go really well with it. I personally liked it with the gouda we picked up for our cheese plate even better – the chocolate notes in the wine complimented the caramel notes in the cheese really well, but not in a way that made either sweet. Just a nice wine with cheese.

My Cursed Socks

Don’t get me wrong, I love these socks and intend to wear them frequently once it gets cool again, but I really felt like they were cursed as I made them.

Usually I can make a pair of socks in about two weeks. This takes into account working and the limited hours to actually knit during the week, and long knitting sessions on the weekends to make up for it. I really enjoy knitting socks and seeing them come together, but man is it frustrating when things go wrong.

I started these socks in January. At the start things looked good.

img_20200202_161305When I got to the heel, usually my favorite part to knit, I tried a short row heel. Oh, it didn’t work. I followed the pattern, and watched a video or two on how to knit short rows, but it wasn’t coming together for me. So I ripped the heel out and started over, this time with my regular heel flap method. Then I realized as I started the gusset that I forgot to turn my heel – you know, make the little cradle for your heel. Rip out the heel again, only this time, I can’t get the stitches back on my needle right. Deep breath and rip the whole thing out.

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So I started over. I loved the pattern, loved the yarn and loved how the socks were looking, so I just went for it. I don’t know what happened, but I ended up starting over 6 times. There were issues with the cuff, issues with the number of stitches, issues with dropping stitches and issues with loosing my place in the pattern. But I persisted and I ended up – finally – with a complete sock . . . that was too small. I inadvertently went down both a size for the sock and a needle size. I had intended to do one or the other and somehow did both, so now I had a completed sock that I could not get on my foot.

This is when I took a break. I just couldn’t do it again right away, so I went for the slipper socks as a nice diversion and to get my knitting mojo back. It worked and when I started again, I was in a much better place. I did end up starting over twice more, but in the end, they came out great and fit really well. They are put away for the time being (it is already 90 here). The lesson I’m taking from these is persistence pays off . . . and know when to step back for a little while to get perspective.

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