Archive | February, 2010

Wino Wednesday: Affordable Luxury and Romance on a Writer’s Budget

24 Feb

Looking for a little affordable romance?

Aren’t we all??

When I went to get the mail yesterday, I had no idea that it would spark the kind of evening it did. You know the kind – eating lavish foods and enjoying velvety wine. Watching a great movie that encases it all…

And above all – making it affordable!

I enjoy the romantic things in life: A great book (no Kindle!), writing, wine, cooking, art, movies, rich and well made things – handmade.

Heaven forbid this should dent my wallet!

Well… I’m here to tell you – to show you – that is doesn’t have to. Let me outline my evening for you, so that you can re-create it!
 

How It All Started

As I said earlier, it all started when I went to the mailbox. We (Husband and I) get Entrepreneur Magazine. My husband REALLY enjoys collecting wine, and he recognized the man on the cover right away. James Stewart, son of top winemaker, Michael Stewart, at Stewart Cellars in Napa Valley. James decided to break the mold of expensive Napa Valley wine. His father has long been the vintner of premium Napa wines, bottles priced near $100. His son, wanting to tackle a market that was suddenly suffering after the stock-market woes, decided to change things.

James looked at the market, trying to find the hole – the need. He noticed that there was a lack of affordable Napa wines in the twenty dollar range.

What James did shocked many. James took a batch of his father’s grapes that hadn’t made the cut for his premium wines and created his own – affordable – version. He called it Slingshot. In the first year he sold out, and in the second, he’s made more.

This was how my evening started, with a story…

 

The Big Guns

So, My husband finished the article, and looked at me. He then bounded down to the wine cellar (A bomb shelter under our garage, lol) and began to rummage. What you need to understand about my husband is that when he was in college, he spent more time researching wine than studying economics, though he’s still good at both.

I watched him go through boxes and boxes of wine (he has too many)

Out comes these two.

It’s one thing to read a story about a wine and wishfully dream, it’s another when your husband just happens to have it. This here (orange label) is James Stewart’s Father’s wine.

We opened it… SO GOOD!

It was salty, velvety, REALLY easy to drink. But as we know, this is definitely not affordable unless you think the way I did – he bought it before we got married, lol.

A good substitute is naturally the Slingshot I spoke of, or a good $12 Cab. Sauv. bottle like Melange.

With it, I made the below recipe. I RECOMMEND!!!!!

the other wine (Benson Cab. Franc) I’ll get to in a minute…

Affordable Lox and Toast

Package of Smoked Salmon (not the hard smoked, the kind that looks raw) 4 oz. I got farm raised Atlantic, saves a lot of money and tastes good. If you can afford wild, though, do it. this package cost me $4.50

Italian Bread, 4 slices about 1/2 inch. (Get the real waxy kind, NO SOURDOUGH)

Capers (Those little buggers are pricey, but they last a long time)

Herb Cream Cheese (I got onion and chive)

Red Onion (a few slices. Slice as THIN and possible)

1 Tbls. Olive Oil

Toast the bread in broiler, or toaster. DON’T BURN! Spread with cream cheese while warm. Top with a few onions (5-6 little sliced pieces.) Divide salmon into four, one ounce piles and place on top of toast. Drizzle with Olive Oil so that the capers stick. Spoon capers (some juice is good!) over the top. ENJOY!!!!!

Now, if you don’t have the Stewart, like I said, try the Slingshot! if not, eat with a general Cab. Sauv. The robust flavor of the salmon can hold it’s own, and it does not overpower the wine. Quick and salty/delicious!

Affordable Main Course

Now is where I get to involving the other wine. 2007 Cabernet Franc. VERY peppery, rosemary, and cilantro. This wine has a serious punch of those flavors.

Below is a recipe my husband found through his wine club with Cakebread – another expensive wine, but the Benson Vineyard one above was the affordable option. Naturally Cakebread paired it with a Merlot, which would also be good. You can try this recipe with either.

What I’m showing you is two versions – the pricey and the cheap.

I substituted the Filet Mignon for Sirloin, and it worked GREAT!

Recipe Courtesy of Cakebread Cellars…

 

Grilled Filet Mignon with Mushroom and Avocado
$ the pricey $

Their Version serves 4-6

2.5 pounds Beef Filet

1 head garlic

1/4 c. Olive Oil

2 sprigs Rosemary

2 c. Dried Morels, soaked in warm water

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 oz. Tomatillos

2 Avocados

2 T. Cilantro, chopped

1 lime

2 oz. Queso Fresco

 

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut the pointed end of the garlic off to expose all the cloves. Place in the middle of a sheet of foil. Drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil. Wrap in foil to seal and place in the middle of the oven to roast for about an hour until the garlic is soft. Remove and when cool enough to handle, squeeze out the pulp and mix with the remaining olive oil and chopped rosemary.

Clean the beef filet of any fat and connective tissue. Cut into two 3″ sections across the grain of the meat. Holding a large knife parallel to the cutting board, cut the filet lengthwise to form thin steaks, about a ¼” thick. Place in a shallow dish and rub with the roasted garlic mixture. Refrigerate and allow to marinate for at least two hours.

To make the salsa, soak the morels in warm water for twenty minutes until soft. Drain and rinse to rid them of any dirt. Cut into small pieces and sauté in a small skillet with two tablespoons of olive oil. Once mushrooms start to brown, add the garlic and cook for another minute, reserve. Place a small saucepan of water over high heat. Once water comes to a boil, add the tomatillos and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. Roughly chop the tomatillos and avocado. Combine with the morel mushrooms and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Season with a squeeze of lime juice and salt and pepper.

To serve, remove the meat from the refrigerator and season with salt and pepper. On a very hot grill sear the steaks for thirty seconds to a minute per side. Serve with pinto beans, top with a spoonful of the salsa and garnish with the crumbled queso fresco.

My Faster and Affordable Version…
 
$ the cheap $
 
serves 2
 
1 – 8oz Sirloin Steak
6 cloves of Garlic – for marinad
6 T. Olive Oil – 5 for marinade, 1 for salsa
 1 T. Dried Rosemary
Salt and Pepper
6 Cremini Mushrooms, fresh
2 cloves garlic, minced – for salsa
 2 Roma Tomatoes
 Dash of Hot Sauce
 1/2 Avocado
 1/2 Lime
 2 T. Cilantro
2 oz. Feta Cheese
 One can plain Pinto Beans
 
 
 Marination 
 
I sliced the beef across the grain to 1/4 inch thickness and placed in a dish. I then warmed the oil in a pan on the stove. When oil was hot, I added the sliced garlic and removed it from the heat so it didn’t burn. Let the garlic simmer there for a few minutes (really cuts out all the time it takes to roast it.) Smash the garlic with a fork and add rosemary. Pour over beef (it’s okay if the oil is still warm) cover with plastic and put in fridge for at least two hours to marinate.
30 min before it’s time to eat warm beans in a little water on the stove.
 
Salsa
 
Heat 1 T. oil in a pan on stove. Add diced cremini’s and saute until they begin to sweat water. Add 2 cloves of garlic – minced. Remove from heat. Dice the tomatoes and 1/2 avocado and put in a bowl. Add mushrooms/oil/garlic. Add cilantro and squeeze 1/2 lime juice. Combine.
  
Putting it together
 
Remove meat from fridge and heat a pan (preferably a grill pan) on stove, Medium high. Grill meat for 1 minute on each side. dust with salt and pepper on each side while cooking. Remove.
Pile half the beans into the middle of plate, top with half the beef, then half the salsa. Top with a sprinkle of feta.
 
And Viola!!!! YUM YUM YUM!!!
 
Enjoy with that affordable Merlot or Cab. Franc!
 
The Movie that Pulls it all together
  
If you haven’t seen this, you don’t know what you’re missing. You really don’t.
it’s called Bottle Shock, and it’s all about california wine and kicking some french butt.
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Manic Monday: More Things to do with Books!

22 Feb

Still looking for more things to do with that collection of books? Well, stick with me and I’ll never let you down! The above photo shows books hung by strings. This utilizes space in a completely new way. If you’re one of those lucky enough to have your own library, this would be a great addition to an empty corner. This also applies for any corner!

In a children’s room perhaps? So cute!

Not willing to ruin your books?

Try going to the local Good Will store and peruse their selection. It’s likely you can pick up a few books for 25 cents, and you won’t feel so guilty stabbing a drill through beloved stories.

What you need:

Heavy duty cotton twine (Colorful ribbon works great, too!!!! Especially in a kids room! raid the sale bin at your local craft store.)

Books

A little hook to hang from ceiling.

Drill with a bit long enough to go the depth of your longest book.

What to do:

Take your book and center drill on cover. Drill (Slowly please. No need to burn down the house)

Take your ribbon and tie a knot. Lace through hole you made (if you use a length of wire and fold it in half, you can use it as a needle, especially for thick ribbon) let the book rest on knot. You can make another knot on the other side of you like, it does look neat if ribbon was your choice.

Repeat and hang on ceiling hook! Viola!!

Sunday Means Revisiting the Past…

21 Feb

So, I pulled out the beginning of a book I stared over a year ago and never got around to finishing. For the last week, the Knight Angels book has been off for editing, and I’ve been left mulling around the house–very bored.
 
That was, until I found this book…
 
This week, I will be starting my very own Novel Writing Month. Typically November is National Novel Writing Month, and I did love NaNoWriMo. It was this past November that I got the first draft down for Knight Angels, after all.
 
So, from tomorrow, February 22nd, ’till March 22nd (My Birthday!) I’m going to be re-visiting that frantic month of writing and delving into this partially written (partially drawn, by me) Children’s Chapter book…
The Moonlight Manor!

Freaky Friday: The Mothman Prophecies

19 Feb

Books and movies that thoroughly creeped me out, yep.
It happens…
 
One of the biggest and BEST movies and books I’ve seen is the Mothman Prophecies. I have literally spent the last two years trying to remember that this was indeed that movie with the whole ‘you have chap stick in your pocket’ line. It finally hit me the other night after three glasses of wine. I was screaming on the couch with joy!
This weekend, my goal is to watch this again. Just not tonight, I have Bunko

Visit my new blog here!

Friday Book Trailers!!

19 Feb

Yay! Just what I needed in the middle of the week – a break from books! Well, sort of.

I decided that today I wanted to talk about book trailers! I recently made two new trailers for my new series, which I will share below, but there are so many other trailers out there as well! I’ve decided to compile the trailers to some of my favorite books, also…
 

First Mine:

My Other Favorites!

I like this trailer because it was a Teen Choice Award Winner for Fallen…
 
 
Official Fallen trailer…
 
 
 
Because I loved these books!!! The Hunger Games…
 
 
Blue bloods…
 

Waiting for that Book to Jump Off the Page?

12 Feb
Well it’s about time that it does! If you’re an artistic person, and I bet you are, then consider making something of those old books! Artist Sue Blackwell made this absolutely FABULOUS 3-D display out of an old Alice in Wonderland hardback. Many may see this and scream bloody murder, but I scream bloody delight! What a wonderful way to take that tea party off the page.
 
Fab-U-Lous!
 
Here is a top view of the same piece, where you can see the already existing illustrations within the original book. Also note the fact that sue gave Alice a little shadow!
 
Now I was at Nieman Marcus not that long ago, and they had sculptures all over the store, most made of their magazines! Their’s were more abstract, like this piece below. It really does not take a lot to make a piece like this for yourself. If you hang a dowel on the wall, and…
 
…hold your breath…
 
… stretch that spine ’till it cracks… EEK! Then, you will have a lovely conversational piece that will keep people engaged as they attempt to read the exposed pages.
Personally, I have a few boxes of my own books… Looks like I have a project ahead of me….
 

 

Don’t forget to visit me on my new blog: HERE

and my new website: HERE

Organize The Proper Way to Organize Your Bookshelf!

11 Feb

  

How To Properly Organize That Shelf!!!

Don’t we all love our books! And how we LOVE to have them out on the open all day long, there to remind us to read them, or simply bask in the story they told! I have often pondered over the best way to organize a book shelf, and I have come to one simple conclusion…

 
Organizing by content is close to impossible.
  
This is why I love the idea of organizing by color. When I think of books, it’s never the author I remember, or even the name, but often it’s the color. I am a very visual person, and therefore this works best for me, even if it does place a series of three books apart from one another. Like Harry Potter, all over the place.
 
Chaos is order for some 🙂
 
But if it’s alphabetical your after, don’t fret. That offers an array of randomly ordered books. But there are many way to organize your shelf, all unique to you! Here are some ideas: 

 

1. Color
– course you have to have plenty of books. The issue I always run into is that most of mine are violet because of the type, but still, so unique!!!
 
2. Characters
– place them in order from favorite to least fav.
– or most villainous to least villainous
  
3. Star Rating! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
– I like this one. Get a sheet of those little gold stars and when you’re done reading a book, rate it by placing the appropriate star count on the spine!! Then you’ll always know what you thought!!  
 
4. Alphabetical
– truly classic, and an easy go to.
 
 
5. Random Disarray!
– Nothing wrong with liking it random! Just make sure you’re taking care of those beautiful works of art! They are important to us all!!!