Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hickory Hill Vineyard and Winery - Smith Mountain Lake, VA

Happy Wednesday, friends!

I wanted to post this on Monday but my internet connection and I haven't been quite seeing eye to eye. My apologies to those who texted me asking "Where's your blog today?!?" (You know who you are.)

Long time friends, Billy and Sandi, invited us up to Smith Mountain Lake for this past weekend. We arrived on Saturday just before noon. They had planned an outing for us; wine tasting in the Smith Mountain Lake area.

We drove only a few minutes from where we were staying and found this charming old farmhouse.

We stopped for a quick photo underneath an archway on the sidewalk.

On entering the house, there was a small room with stairs and lots of wine inspired decor.

The gift shop had the cutest things! I could really have gotten myself in trouble, but decided to save my cash for what was really important - wine.

This wine rack caught my eye immediately when I entered the tasting room. I could use this at my house!

Above the wine rack were shelves. The shelves displayed their award-winning wines.

A man named Donald welcomed us and began the wine tasting. He was very knowledgeable about the wines and was a pleasure to be around.

Billy and his wife, Sandy, waited as Donald uncorked the wines and splashed a bit in our glasses.

I tried every one of their wines including the reds, which I generally don't enjoy. I have always been a white wine person. I did, however, enjoy all of their reds. I left the winery with three bottles of "Country Red".

There is a lot more information as well as history and tons of photos on their website.

If you are in the Smith Mountain Lake area and have time, pop over to Hickory Hill Vineyard & Winery. I know that you will enjoy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Advanced Tickets: Not Such a Bad Idea

I posted last Friday about the SoVA Wine Festival in Chatham, Virginia. It was their first, and they promised twelve local wineries and bands. Bear and I decided that we would go, so he came to my house and pick me up just a little after 12:00.

The weather was beautiful! It was bright and sunny, and in the low 70's. The venue is only a few miles North of my house, so we were in great shape and looked forward to an outing. Cabin fever had set in months ago and this spring-like day was exactly what we needed. We were happy as clams.

Until we arrived.

We parked in an almost full parking lot and made our way to the front entrance where there were several people sitting outside.

"I'm sorry, we have sold out", said a woman, as we drew closer to the admission table.

Our hearts sank.

I should have gone ahead  and bought the advanced tickets, but I am one of those people who doesn't like to commit to anything recreational. I mean, I am committed to go to work every day.  I am committed to doctor and dentist appointments that I make. Recreation and fun should NEVER require a commitment, right?

I know better now.

Bear and I did manage to salvage a great day. We went to Kickback Jack's for lunch and a few drinks and enjoyed each other's company. We then headed to Sam's club to pick up a Cheesecake Factory cheesecake sampler. After that we stopped in The Gingerbread House and picked up a pound of gourmet coffee and a pineapple jalapeno cheese ball (delish).

We then made our way back to my place where we were met by Sage. We enjoyed our snacks and desserts and watched a couple of movies. Great time!

The day wasn't a total bust, but I now know.

Advanced tickets are not such a bad idea.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I Finally Got One!

Happy Monday, everyone!

I am so excited! I just couldn't wait to share with you the latest addition to my home. I have waited for YEARS to have one of my own, and I can't tell you how happy I am to call this beautiful piece of art mine.

***The heavens part and the angels sing.. "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh"!***

This gorgeous piece of machinery has 575 watts of power, can whip up 8 pounds of mashed potatoes at a time, and can handle THIRTEEN dozen cookies at once! 

I picked this up from EverythingKitchens.com at a STEAL! This mixer lists for 499.99 and is on sale there for 339.95 with FREE SHIPPING... Plus I got a discount code for $10 off (check google for coupon codes first, this one expired the day I used it)... AND if you buy now, you get a $40 rebate from KitchenAid with this rebate form. All said and done, this $499.99 mixer was mine for only $289.95 shipped!!!

And yes, I got it in Black Onyx! To. Die. For.

Ohmygoodness I can barely breathe!

This is certainly going to be used often. Who knows? I may even open a bakery out of my home. Or be the Next Great Baker (look out, Buddy Valastro, there's a new up and coming Cake Boss)!

What? Can't a girl dream?

Friday, February 17, 2012

SoVA Wine Fest 2012

Happy Friday, Friends!

I am so excited today! Tomorrow in Chatham, Virginia, the SoVA Wine Trail is hosting their first (hoping to be annual) Winter Wine Festival.

This will be hosted at the Old Dominion Agricultural Foundation at 19783 U.S. Highway 29, Chatham, VA. The time is from noon until 6:00 P.M.
Click on the picture to go to their website!

I can't wait until tomorrow! Twelve of the areas best wineries under one roof! I will definitely be bringing along a little cash and a designated driver. The complex is only about two miles from my house, but a designated driver is still mandatory. Never take chances, friends.

If you see me out, say hello. Better yet, come have a glass with me!

Will you be attending?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cooking With MYFWBS

Over the last month, you have noticed my blogging has been lax to say the least. "I've been busy" has been an ongoing excuse. I have shared with you a few of the things that I have been busy doing, but one thing that I haven't shared yet has been fun, although time consuming.

I am writing a cook book!

I don't know that this will ever be published. I honestly don't care if it sells ten copies, a million, or none at all. My cook book is just for me and a few of my friends.

So far, I have about thirteen recipes in the draft. These are recipes that I am working my way through, one at a time. Over the last three weeks, I have been doing some really intense (for me) cooking. Every dinner that I prepare has been something new from which I have taken a basic recipe and added my own twists and turns. I am also taking pictures of the finished product as my creations emerge from the oven. Nothing makes it into the cook book without thumbs up from the husband and whatever friend (normally Sage) is there to sample the results.

Some of the recipes that are in the book include my Crab Stuffed Mushrooms, Buttercup Squash with Apples and Cinnamon, my own pizza crust and pizza sauce, a delicious spicy mayonnaise, and my take on Stuffed Bell Peppers.

There are several more recipes that I am including in this book. All of them are mine, and all of them will be prepared and photographed by me before being added.

This is just one more way for me to get organized. I have dozens and dozens of recipes written on index cards and on slips of notebook paper laying here and there. Some of the recipes are only in my head. By making my own cook book, this will clear up the clutter and give me something else in which I can take pride.

I don't know how many recipes will end up in this book. I am just going to add until I feel that all of my greatest meals are logged. When I feel the book is "finished", I will take it to a print shop and have it copied and bound, probably in a spiral or comb binding. I will also have a few copies made and bound for my friends who have already requested a copy.

Does anyone know a good publisher? (Yes, I'm joking... )

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How To Clean Your Diamond Jewelry

Last month, I reorganized my kitchen. Once things are clean and in order, it makes me want to clean and organize even more.

My diamond rings are one of the things that needed attention.

After a while, rings need a deep cleaning. A soak in a commercial jewelry cleaner is fine from time to time, but inside those crevices can get really disgusting and let's face it, the jewelry cleaner just doesn't cut it.

Sure, I could have just gone to the jewelry store and have them clean my rings, but having a little momentum built from my reorganization efforts, I decided to clean them myself.

This is what I did to clean my rings:

1. Get a small pot of water and put a few drops of dish washing liquid (I used Dawn) in the pot.
2. Place a strainer on top of the pot and place your rings inside the strainer. This will keep the rings off of the bottom of the pot and away from the intense heat of the burner.

3. Bring the pot of water to a boil. ***Do not put rings in after the water is boiling. Be sure to put them in when the water is still cold. The diamonds need to heat gradually so that they don't crack.

4. Carefully remove the rings from the water and use and old toothbrush to loosen the dirt and oils from the crevices. Rinse in warm water. *DO NOT put rings directly in cold water from the boiling water. This could crack the diamonds. Allow to cool a bit on their own.

5. If dirt and oils still remain on the rings, repeat the process of boiling, brushing, and rinsing.

6. Dry with a paper towel

7. Finish by spraying a paper towel with window cleaner and rubbing onto the rings to get the last of the remaining oils from the diamonds and to bring the rings to a shine.

Please do not use this method on other softer stones as it could permanently damage them.

Here is the end result:

This method cleaned my rings just as well if not better than the jewelry store could have cleaned them. Easy peasy and not a lot of mess.

Do you have any quick little DIY tips to share?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's day to MYFWBS!

I want to tell all of you how much I love you guys and how blessed I am to have you all in my life.

My dining room table is all decked out for Valentine's day. It isn't over the top, but I like it. It looks so much better than it did two weeks ago when every item in every cabinet in my kitchen was on it during my reorganization efforts. Here is a place setting just for you. Have a seat and enjoy. I have even included a Valentine's Day themed cookie and a chocolate rose to take home.

For Valentine's Day, my husband Stump got tickets from our friend, J.D. Emerson of B.C. Extreme Sports, to the 2012 Riverview Rotary Club's Hearts for Polio Plus Valentine's Dance. This was held this past Friday night. We had a great time.

Our friends Jeremy and Courtney were there too. I apologize for not getting more pictures. I dropped the ball on this one. I did get a pic of J.D. and his wife Susan, and one of Stump after the dance was over.

J.D. Emerson and his wife, Susan

Stump cleans up good, don't you think?

The dance featured a local band, Pizzaz, who play a mixture of music. They were really impressive and managed to get the entire audience of around 250 people up on the floor.
The proceeds went to the Rotaries Polo Eradication fund.

We had a great night with good friends, good music, and good drink.

Do you have anything planned for Valentine's Day?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Super Bowl Sunday MYFWBS Style

Happy Monday everyone!

I know the Super Bowl was over a week ago, but I am just getting around to blogging. Things at my house have been complete chaos! I have had one thing after another going on, but I am going to try to catch you all up. One of the things that kept me busy was re-organizing my kitchen. I had posted a picture of what my kitchen table looked like and had said that the kitchen HAD to be put back together before the Super Bowl. And it was!!! I did it!!! I have an organized kitchen!!!

I had left you guys before with a recipe for Cinnamon Cyan Brownies but wouldn't tell what else was on the menu for the Big Game. Now that the Eats are no longer a surprise to my guests, I can share with you what we had!

On the guest list: Stump, Bear, Sage, Brandon, and Susannah (and me!)

I decided to do the Super Bowl munchies in courses this year. In past years, I put out a buffet and my guests had over-done themselves before kickoff with no room for even a cracker. I developed a game plan.

Pre-Game (and to be left out for grazing during the game)

 Pre-game consisted of usual light hour devours. Cheese, crackers, veggies, nuts, chips, dips and beer. The beer was put on ice on the coffee table in the living room to keep anyone from having to leave the television in order to grab a beer from the kitchen refrigerator.

First Quarter
 The night before, I baked potatoes and refrigerated them. On game day, I split them, scooped out the potatoes, and filled them with cheddar and bacon. They were placed on a baking sheet and covered. At the end of the first quarter, all I had to do was pop them into the oven for a little while. These were served with both ranch dressing and sour cream.

Second Quarter
 The second quarter we had Mad Hatter wieners, which had been simmering on the stove top since just before the pre-game. All I had to do was use a slotted spoon to dish these into highball glasses. They were served with miniature silver forks (not pictured). The recipe for these is easy. I use on large jar of grape jelly and about 1/3 cup mustard. Just melt together, add cocktail sausages, and simmer. For sweeter sausages, use less mustard. For tangier sausages, use more mustard. These things never last! (They look black in the photo, but they are more of a dark reddish-brown)

Half time

For half time, I had meatballs simmering in the crock pot in tomato sauce. All I had to do was to fill the sub rolls with the meatballs, sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top, and pop them in the oven for the cheese to melt and the sub rolls to get crispy and warm. They were served with potato chips and dip.

Third Quarter

For the third quarter, I had planned on having cheese sticks served with ranch and marinara sauce. The game went so swiftly this year though, that no one had room for the cheese sticks. I went straight for the Cinnamon Cyan Brownies and put those out last. This would serve as both the third and fourth quarter, and could be taken home to eat later (which some opted to do). Recipe HERE.

We had a great Super Bowl party, and I enjoyed having my favorite people surrounding me. What more can one ask for? A great game, my best friends, and wonderful food, all in one place.

Did you do anything for the Super Bowl?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Our Lives Are Short, Our Course Uncharted

When I left you guys last on the first of February, I had  left with the hopes that I would be able to blog a little more regularly. As you can see, it has now been eleven days since my last post. It seems that "busy" never stopped. What a crazy two weeks it has been! There have been many ups as well as downs. Please allow me to share the first "down" of the last several days.

Back in April, I posted "Meet My Boss".  The furry rabbit in the parking lot was my boss, Jeff, in better times.

This man was a true mentor to me. He pushed me, challenged me, lifted me up, and even looked out for my health and well being. He treated me as a father would treat a daughter.

Jeff had been having some medical problems of his own since just before Christmas. He had taken some time off of work, but had come back full force in January. He went for a checkup and was re-admitted to the hospital on January 27. On January 28th, I found out that Jeff had a limited time left.

After posting my last blog post on February 1st, I told my husband, Stump, that I really wanted to go see Jeff. I told him that I would go the next day after work.

"If you want to see him, you need to go now", he said. "Go on and see him. You don't have anything else to do tonight and you will feel better."

I took his advice, changed clothes, and drove to the hospital.

I saw Jeff and I visited with his wife and his daughter in Jeff's small private room in CCU. I offered my support and shared with them how much Jeff had impacted my life.

I came back home that evening, happy that I had gone to see him and knowing that visit would likely be the last. He had been given one week, two weeks maximum, to live.

The next morning at around 6:30 A.M., Jeff passed away.

I am so glad that Stump practically pushed me out the door the night before to go to the hospital. Because of him, I was able to see Jeff one last time. Had I waited until after work the next day, it would have been too late.

I beg each and every one of my readers, PLEASE don't ever hesitate. Don't ever procrastinate. Do not ever for one minute assume that you will be given another opportunity to do what you have the opportunity to do right now. Those opportunities could be the only ones you are given.

Our lives are short, our course uncharted. We never know what lies ahead of us.

I am closing this post with Jeff's obituary. You can find it HERE

Jeffery L. Moore

DANVILLE, VA: Jeffery L. Moore, 63 of Danville , VA, formerly of Zanesville died peacefully in his sleep with his wife and daughter by his side at 6:26 AM Thursday, February 02, 2012 at Danville Regional Medical Center Danville VA Following a short battle with cancer.

He was born October 16, 1948 in Maineville OH the son of Kenneth and Crystal (Swigert) Moore.

Jeff graduated from Little Miami High School & the University of Cincinnati. He supervised the engineering department at The Swedwood Group in Danville VA, an industrial group within the IKEA Group of companies. Jeff was the plant manager at UTA Mexico for 12 years and prior to that had worked 18 years in the engineering department at UTA / Essex Wire in Zanesville. He also had been employed for 4years as plant manager at HP Pelzer Automotive Systems in Kansas.

Jeff was also a 7th Degree Black Belt Grand Master and founder of the Coszacks School of Self-Defense in Zanesville. He founded the club in 1970 and has taught thousands of students over the years and was directly responsibly for the promotions of 37 Black Belts. Grand Master Moore not only taught classes at the Coszacks Dojo but also taught martial arts class at Ohio University of Zanesville and conducted numerous classes, demonstrations and specialty seminars for women, children and law enforcement officers all over the Zanesville Area.

He enjoyed his martial arts training, reading and spending time with his family.

He is survived by his wife of 40 years Karen (Larrison) Moore; a daughter Cyanne M. (Aaron) Huffman of Zanesville; three grandchildren, Randy A Wolff, Jeffrey A Wolff and Terris I Howard; two great grandchildren all of Zanesviile; several nieces and nephews; three brothers, Stanley R. Swigert of Maineville, Douglas R, Moore of Mason Ohio and Randy A. Moore of Westchester.

In addition to his parents, Jeff was Preceded in death by a brother Edward W Moore.

Visitation will be held on Tuesday February 7th from 2-4 & 6-8pm at the Hillis & Hardwick Funeral Home, 935 Forest Ave. where the Celebration of Life Service will be conducted at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, February 08, 2012 with family friend Jeff Hardwick as celebrant. All martial arts students attending the services are encouraged to wear their uniforms. Burial will conclude in the Zanesville Memorial Park Cemetery in Zanesville OH.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kitchen Organization & Cinnamon Cyann Brownies

Rabbit, Rabbit! Happy February to everyone!

I've been MIA for a couple of weeks and for that, I apologize. I have been soooo busy that I haven't had time for much of anything.

After Christmas, I started the task of getting everything packed up and put away. That was done fairly quickly. What happened after that has been a full time job for the last two weeks.

I decided to re-organize my kitchen.

YIKES! What a job! But with lots of help from Martha Stewart and my bestie Sage, it is going slowly but swimmingly.

Here is a pic of my kitchen table at the moment.

No, I'm not one of those people from the show "Hoarders". My kitchen table is usually clear except for a centerpiece, a tablecloth, a runner, and maybe some place mats. This is the result of emptying my laundry closet, which is also in my kitchen. This is the fourth load that this poor table has held over the past two weeks.

I completely emptied every cabinet, upper and lower, as well as every drawer in the kitchen in my re-organization efforts. I'm proud of the results so far. I'll give you a sneak peek.

I will be so happy when I get all this finished and am able to kick back and enjoy. Which has to be THIS WEEK.

Stump and I are having friends over for the Superbowl on Sunday. That table WILL be cleared off by then. It has to be. I have a ton of things that I need to cook in there and the kitchen table and counters are a  necessity.

I have several dishes planned for the Superbowl. I'm not going to give away the total menu, because my guests do read my blog, but I want to share this one recipe with you guys. These brownies kick ass!

I don't remember what show that I saw this on, but I do know that it was on the Food Network. If any of you know whose idea this was, please let me know so that I can give proper credit.

Cinnamon Cyan Brownies

Use 1 Box Fudge Brownie Mix

This is what makes it so good... 
Add in 1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
and 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cyan Pepper
Mix those up really well with a whisk.
Then, prepare the rest of the brownie mix as the package says.

 Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray and line the pan with parchment paper with the ends folded over the edge. This is wonderful to get the brownies out of the pan in one piece!

Bake according to package directions. Mine took 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Lift out of the pan, and allow to cool. 

 (How easy is this?!?)

Really. Allow this to cool. 
I know you won't want to, but do it anyway.
Let the brownies COOL. 
Even a bit warm will be a disaster on the frosting. 

Frost with chocolate frosting, and sprinkle with a little more cinnamon.

Here are the finished brownies:
 Oh, damn. They killed them all off before I could frame the shot. Oh well.

You're welcome :)