Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's Halloween!

He does not like wearing costumes so we resort to face painting.  He is Rintoo from Kai Lan, a tiger.

I remember when I was growing up in New Jersey how the streets would become flooded with kids on Halloween.  It was such an amazing night for us kids.  We usually had to rely on our imagination for our costumes.  I remember once I was a gypsy woman.  We found an old, long skirt in someone's closet, I had a bandana around my head and really red lipstick.  That is probably my most memorable Holloween because it snowed about a foot of snow that night and I got separated from my group which was really scary for me at the time.  I was no more than two blocks from my house, but I did not speak English, this celebration was new to me and it was dark outside.  We were reunited and all was well.

I sit here writing because things are really slow in my neighborhood.  Part of the fun is decorating the house and the yard, carving pumpkins with neat patterns, seeing all the creative costumes on the happy little children and giving away all the candy and toys in my basket. We used to sit outside and just wait for the crowds to come from the neighboring communities.

She is a Gothic Princess.

Tonight is very quiet.  My oldest is away at college and he was the one who used to sit by and scare the older kids by making believe he was a statue.  My teen girl is at a concert with friends - she's all dressed up and having a great time I'm sure.  My 7 year old is out having fun with a few of the teens from the neighborhood and the toddler is here trying to eat the candy and blow out the candles from the jack-o-lantern.  Since I sat here, about an hour ago, we've seen a total of 5 families.

Needless to say, that leaves me staring at the weary moon and listening to spooky music so I decided to share this time with everyone out there.

Most of the houses are very dark around here tonight but we will continue to have a great time until the last child has come by.  I hope everyone out there has a great time tonight.  Stay safe!!

This is my teen daughters intricate creation, which is a little hard to see but on the back side she carved out the words Trick or Treat with a pumpkin and on the front side there are two hearts.  If you put it against a wall you see the reflection of the back side on the wall.  Very detailed.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The beauty of the day

Sometimes we all just get caught up in the stresses of everyday life.  We run errands, we work, we take care of the kids and the house, etc.  In the process, we could potentially miss entire seasons during a time when we should just be thankful.

Lately I've been taking time to stop and smell the firewood burning.  It's not as cold as I am used to for a fall season but still some people are lighting up fires indoors and out.  I love the smell of firewood in the fall.  This changing season offers not just the smoke coming out of the chimneys but also the colors, a brisk cool air, the beauty of the day.  It is just amazing that we could even let ourselves miss all this.

I decided I would go for a walk in the evenings with a my neighbor Maria.  So just before sunset and after dinner, baby in the stroller and the girls on their bikes, we set off on a 2.5 mile walk around the neighborhood, or a 5 mile walk through the park.  It has been absolutely amazing, relaxing, and spiritual to take in nothing but the sounds of the birds and the sounds of children laughing.

Sometimes we just have to say Thanks because we have the ability to experience such beauty in our lives.

Enjoy the beauty of the day, everyday!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

SkyWatch Friday - A Full Moon

"Life is wonderful..." ~ Jason Mraz

Go visit SkyWatch Friday for more skies from around the world!!

 A full moon in October. 
I love the sky, in particular, when there are objects I can recognize.  This is one of my favorite night time skies of the full moon.  I'm amazed my little camera could actually capture that.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday - Autumn

"Life is wonderful..." ~ Jason Mraz

Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan from a Southern Daydreamer.  Visit Susan to experience outdoors from a different perspective.

I look forward to the beauty of the season, but mostly to the delicious recipes we can make in a crockpot, Yum!!

I took the kids to the harvest fair and although it was a lot of fun and they had a great time, I was a little sad because growing up, I did not have to wait to be taken to a fair to experience harvest or to see farm animals live.  I think I'm going to take my kids to local farms more often throughout the year.  I loved the look on their faces when they see and touch a real cow or chicken or a donkey.  It was fun, enjoy!

I love this picture :-)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

About Wine - Wine Storage and a new favorite white wine

Check out this awesome article about wine storage from Neil from ON THE GRAPEVINE.  He is so knowledgeable about wine and the care of wine that I think you will all enjoy this article.
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By far most wine is purchased and consumed within 48 hours. Some people of course like to cellar wine they think has a good potential to age. This is fraught with “danger” mainly because some wine has no chance at all of improving with age, some can be left too long and goes “over the hill” and some spoils because of bad storage conditions. (I usually end up with red or white wine vinegar not even good for cooking!)

Aging wine increases its complexity. Chemical reactions take place on storage which can add new aromas, flavours and texture to the wine. And of course there is the inevitable colour change. However, if left too long, all these changes can be indistinguishable.  Briefly as discussed before, white wines change to deeper colours, some to deep yellow or gold and eventually brown.  (This was a learning experience, wish I had know this a few months ago.)

Aromas and flavours lose their varietal character and become similar to toast, honey figs, nuts and caramel.  Red wines change colour too as they age from purple through brick red to red brown and finally brown.  Again with reds, flavours change taking on the impressions of earthiness, fungi, coffee and even cigars. Red wine tannins increase in size on ageing and become softer and less astringent allowing other subtle flavour changes to shine through.

For most of us who store wine, it is kept in racks or boxes in the cellar, under the house, in a cupboard or even under the bed. Very few of us have proper temperature controlled rooms or expensive cabinets.  Ideal conditions for storage of wine are darkness, good ventilation, odour free, lack of vibration, minimal temperature variation of 12°-15°C (55°-60°F) and humidity of 70-80%. 

Obviously not many of us can comply with all these conditions so if we were to single any major one out to be aware of I would say it would be temperature fluctuation. Darkness can easily be created by leaving the wine in its original boxes.

In the past, table wines needed to be stored lying down. This kept the cork wet and the bottle well sealed. With the advent of the screw cap bottles with this closure can be stored standing up, one of its many advantages. For bottles with cork closures it is important to keep an eye on possible leakage and the ullage level. This means if the level of the wine falls below the shoulder of the bottle it needs to be topped up and recorked (if still ok) or better drunk as soon as possible.

Arranging bottles so those for early drinking are easily accessible prevents ‘long termers’ from being continually moved and disturbed.

Buying wine for long term storage is a complex issue. (and this is why I buy, I drink, done!) It is sometimes best to take the advice of wine merchants, winemakers and wine reviews when deciding what to ‘lay down’. Of course it is more rewarding to assess a young wine as to its ageing potential yourself and being able to enjoy it 10, 20 or maybe 30 years down the track.

It is also preferable to be able to buy a case of the selected wine and assess its progress regularly over time eg. for a red, five years after purchase then every year or two.

This all can be an expensive exercise so there is nothing wrong with splurging on an aged wine from a retailer or winery when the occasion calls. At least you can be almost assured that the bottle has been stored under ultimate conditions and if indeed there is anything wrong with it you can usually get a replacement. ...( and that's what I do... buy already aged wine - lazy or practical, call it what you want!)

So tonight I was enjoying some fun time with my friend from Chesapeake and we decided to take a quick trip to Trader Joe's and found, yet another delicious Australian Wine.  It is a "classic Muscat  with fragrant aromas of apricots, mangoes and lilacs and sweet, luscious flavors balanced by a crisp, refreshing finish."

A white wine from South Easter Australia called Alice White.  It's like a dessert wine, goes well with any sweets or by itself.  We loved it and we paid ...ahem... $5.00.  Now that's what I'm talking about. 

Enjoy the tips on wine storage and enjoy Alice White!

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Past about wine  articles:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Foodie Friday - Cheesy Nachos

Today I bring an easy special treat for our Foodie Friday recipe show off day.  This fun event is hosted by Michael from Designs by Gollum.  You have to go there and see all the cool recipes everyone posted. 

These nachos we love because they are easy to make and so much fun to eat.  If you keep the ingredients handy you can make a nice treat for unexpected company or hey, how about Monday night football!


Tostitos scoop chips - they are perfect for holding in all cheese and salsa!
Tostitos restaurant style salsa - how hot you say?  Your choice, we always do mild.
Shredded Mexican cheese or any mix of cheese you like.

Place the scoop chips on a microwave safe plate.
Fill each little scoop with salsa.
Top with cheese.

Microwave on high for 1 to 1.5 minutes - until cheese is melted.

Top each scoop with a dab of sour cream and diced avocado (optional).

Note:  you can also broil this using an oven safe plate or cookie sheet, put it in the middle rack, set the over to broil and watch it until cheese is melted; only takes about 5 minutes.


No really..... Enjoy!!