Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Goofy Drinks...Justin Vineyards "The Orphan" 2005

This wine first grabbed my eye with its strange name ("The Orphan"). Then I realized that this wine was made by Justin Vineyards, a Paso Robles establishment known for their higher-priced (for me, anyway) Bordeaux-style red blends like Isosceles (about $60 retail for the 2004 release).

The tag line on the bottle explained the odd name...

"When we blend wines from our various lots each year we find there are always some who don't fit in. Rather than abandon them and deprive them of a home, we united these mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah 'Orphans' and offer them for your adoption."

You have to appreciate the Marketing folks at Justin, who probably had a conversation like this:

Marketer #1:
"Hey, we've got all this juice left that's not good enough for our primo wines, what should we do?"

Marketer #2:

"Hmmmm....I've got it! Let's mix it all together, bottle it, put a cute label on it and sell it for twelve bucks a bottle! We're geniuses. Let's go have a two-hour lunch now. Whee!"

But the price tag and the name sealed the deal for me. I get to try a high-end vineyard's wine for $12? Oh, okay...twist my arm.

I opened the bottle and poured the wine. It was a deep, dark inky color, indicative of the wines in the blend (Cab Sav and Shiraz). So far, so good.

When I swirled and smelled the wine, I knew I was in for something good. It smelled like a big, bold, standoffish Cab. I could say "berries" or "pepper", but that just wouldn't give you the full nose. If you've even been in Napa Valley during harvest-time, imagine that smell. Or if you've ever been up-close-and-personal in a winery when they have a Cabernet vat open and are working the wine, imagine that smell. It was the smell I associate with big red wines - that are yes, maybe still a little young - but that I tend to love anyway.

I did a little Happy Dance, then tasted the wine.

YUM. It did not disappoint. It tasted like the big, bold Cab that its smell alluded to. Think blackberries and plum, fruity but not sweet. It was maybe a bit TOO big. And a bit too young. But my palate still liked it. The tannins hit the back of my tongue and got it tingling at just the right speed.

Ah yes...Food! I paired this wine with:

-V's Toasted Chicken Ravioli
-Bertolli Olive Oil & Garlic Pasta Sauce

This pairing ended up quite nicely. The food stood up to the wine, the wine stood up to the food. It was a very even match. I was a little perplexed about whether to do a white or red wine with this menu, but the red won, mainly because I think white wine and red pasta sauce is just wrong.

Final Bottle Status: Not empty...but only because I was eating solo! 9 out of 10 taste buds. This was a very nice wine that I will definitely buy again.

I would definitely get this wine again. I might grab a bottle and cellar it for a year, just to see what happens when the youngness wears off. If the bottle lasts that long!

Goofy Calls It Quits

So Monday I quit my job. Just like that. Well, not really "just like that". I think I've been considering a change for about 3 years now, only seriously for about 1 year.

All this madness started last week. I worked from home three of the four days for various reasons. And got SO much done. And it was SO stress-free. Then I went into work on Thursday and realized that I just don't fit in the corporate environment.* I got nothing done and was stressed the entire time.

So I drafted my resignation letter, to make me feel better. I thought it would be 'cleansing'. I got to the 'last day is...' part and had to enter some dates. I realized that if I put Monday's date in, two weeks would end on 12/31. The last day of the year. I'm a sucker for closure, so that clinched it...the letter would be sent on Monday.

Do I have another job? No. It's been a lifelong goal of mine to start my own business. I've actually started (and killed) about three so far...with one still limping along. It's time to get serious about this and make it happen. I'm consider this my retirement from Corporate America. I don't intend to look back.

What kind of business? No idea. And not for lack of ideas. No sirree...I've got tons of ideas. Great ones...goofy ones.... But with that annoying full-time job thing, there's just no time for focusing on market viability, sales forecasting and branding strategies, so part of my first steps will be whittling down the many ideas into the chosen few. Kinda like American Idol for business ideas.

Want a look into Goofy's mind? Okay, you asked for it! Here's an excerpt from The Notebook of Goofy Ideas. In no particular order...

  • Pet Bling (who says Fifi can only have one dog tag? give her several, made of sterling silver, with sayings like "Sexy Bitch" or "Hot Dog")
  • Glow in the dark keyboard (for those late-night surfing sessions)
  • Customized band-aids (put Mommy's loving face on that ouchie!)
  • Vitamin attachment for the kitchen sink (why not get some good vitamins with every glass of water you drink?)

So there's four of the many goofy ideas that pour through my brain on a daily basis. Will I actually make one of these ideas profitable? Will I come up with something else? Or will I tweak something already around to make it mine?

Stay tuned for Goofy's Next Big Thing...

*Mr. Goofy is laughing his ass off at this. He's known this for years. But I'm slow sometimes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Goofy Drinks...Petite Sirah

I've accepted the challenge from Wannabe Wino to drink and review a Petite Sirah.

The wine I chose was a 2005 "39 Degrees" Petite Sirah (Sonoma County, CA). This wine is made by Cecchetti Wine Company, who also makes the Red Tree label.

I bought it based on the clever name (39 degrees is the latitude of the vineyard), the visually-appealing label and the region the wine was from (Sonoma County, CA). I bought this wine from a neighborhood liquor store, not a specialty wine store, so that I would be reviewing something that my readers might actually be able to find themselves.

Sight: a beautiful, deep ruby color – very opaque.

Nose: jammy fruit, blackberry and strawberry

Taste: a smooth burst of strawberry with the first sip! The second sip was again very strawberry; sweet but dry

Since I was starving and had fixed Goofy Junior a grilled cheese, the first pairing was with Grilled Cheese (this blog is just OOZING with culture, yes?). The wine went well with the cheese, although some berrylicious flavor was drowned out because of the fried-ness of the sandwich. Probably not the best pairing! India Pale Ale would be a better choice.

For the OFFICIAL pairing, I matched this wine with:
-A Big-Ass Steak*
-Wild Mushroom Risotto**
-Garlic Naan**

This wine stood up nicely to the steak. I typically pair a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Zinfandel with steak, but this Petite Sirah definitely held its own against a lot of strong bovine goodness.

Overall this wine was super-duper drinkable, with or without food. It got dryer the more I drank - which was two glasses before dinner was served. Ahem.

Mr. Goofy's 2 Cents…
Mr. G. didn’t get much of a nose from the wine, but thought the taste was “smoky” and he tasted “anise” (that black licorice flavor). He guessed a price point of $12 – 14. (actual retail price was….$11.99, so he was spot on). He liked the slight “tannicity” (a word that he created to reflect the tannin content of the wine).

Close Your Eyes and Imagine: Having a bite of strawberry shortcake while smelling a fine cigar being smoked nearby.

Final Bottle Status: Empty! 9 out of 10 taste buds. This was a very nice wine that I will definitely buy again.

*For picture purposes we put the whole steak, in all its big-assedness on one plate, but in reality, we split it.

**Archer Farms brand (from Target). I must confess... They make great store brand stuff and we had just visited Target that afternoon.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Adoption Update!

As some of you may know (some not), we have our paperwork in for a second adoption from Russia . We have been waiting for quite some time now, as Russia is reaccrediting all the adoption agencies that facilitate Russian adoptions (about 150 agencies). Recently, there has been some progress on this and a few agencies have been given the accreditation. Unfortunately, our agency has not yet been given the green light.

Our agency knows we have been waiting and approached us with another option. We could pursue an "independent adoption". We would work with our agency here, but when we get to the region in Russia , we would work with a contractor. Since independent adoptions are still okay in Russia , we could make both trips and be back with our son, possibly even before our agency gets accredited.

Our agency approached us with this "independent adoption" option for a particular region that is new to them. We had originally requested to travel to the same region as we did with Alex ( Kaliningrad ). The new region actually has a child awaiting adoption, although we have very few facts about this child. We do know that they have asked us to be open to an older child (up to 3 years old). We had originally requested a younger child (18 months or less), so this was something we really had to stop and consider. The challenge with an older child is that if they've been in the orphanage for a long time, they are more likely to have developmental and psychological delays. Also, a 3-year-old will have some Russian language, so we would have to dust off our Russian language books and get cracking!

In the end, we agreed to this new approach. Alex will be 5 in April (they really do grow up so fast!), so a 3-year-old will still be a little brother for him. The new region looks interesting and is really quite bustling, compared to Kaliningrad .

Travel to this region will be a true adventure. From talking to a family that recently went there, it went like this: Fly to Moscow (11 hours); Rest in hotel (4 hours); Travel by overnight train to new region (13 hours); Freshen-up time (20 minutes); Travel by car to orphanage (3 hours). Talk about planes, trains and automobiles! In the 6 days that this family was in Russia , they only stayed hotels for 2 nights.

We have submitted our paperwork for this region. There is a strong possibility that we could end up traveling in December. And (silly us!) we thought we might get to experience spring or summer in Russia this time, instead of winter again.

We will update everyone when we get the call to travel. Until then, send some good thoughts our way as we embark on our journey into a new part of the world, for a new adventure, for the newest addition to our family.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Little Perspective - Just in Time for the Holidays

My department at work volunteered yesterday at the Johnson County Christmas Bureau. The JCCB is a very cool place where low-income folks can go to get food, clothing and gifts for the holiday season. It's surprisingly well-stocked (although they could use more coats) and very well-attended.

My job was to walk around with a shopper to inform them about each department and how many items they could have from each. This was based on family size.

My first shopper was pretty uneventful. She went through each section and made her choices, taking about 45 minutes, then thanked me at the end.

My second shopper was a nice, middle-aged, heavy-set lady in a wheelchair. As we started shopping, she informed me that it was so great that they had allowed her to shop for her adult children, since this was her last Christmas. When I looked confused about what she meant, her face (and tear-filled eyes) said it all. Her LAST Christmas. As in, she will NOT BE AROUND next year.


I quickly recovered and told her, "Well then we are going to make this a great shopping trip for you!". We took our time perusing can labels and boxes of food. She told me that she was diabetic and has had many, many surgeries, so diet was pretty critical. We took our time picking clothes - checking sizes and colors. She spent a long time selecting shampoo and soap. When we got to the adult gifts, she found a tray table and got very excited. She said that she eats a lot of her meals in bed and this was just what she needed. I think she actually clapped with joy...over a tray table.

After two hours of shopping (she really did have a great time), she gave me a big hug (again with the tear-filled eyes) and told me what a blessing it was to have been invited to come shopping - that this had made her holidays special.

I walked away with a new perspective on things. I know I SHOULD be thankful for all that I have. I know that I SHOULD be thankful for my health and well-being. I know that I SHOULD be thankful for a support system of family and friends that I could turn to if needed.

And now I AM thankful. And this, dear readers, is what I think the holidays are really about.

Monday, December 03, 2007

'Tis the Season...

for shopping frustration.

Every year my nieces plot to stump me in my Christmas buying plans for them.

Well, okay, they probably don't actually PLOT to stump me, but it's typically challenging to find the items on their list. But..it's a fun challenge. And I usually succeed. *

Ahem. Except for this year. Not one, but BOTH nieces have "must have"s on their list that must be on every friggin' teenager's list, because they are either NOWHERE TO BE FOUND or WAY TOO EXPENSIVE.

Exhibit A: Cute horse tote. It's cute, no? But ah-ha! It's pink. She does not want pink. ARG..PINK! NO PINK! NO. BAD. PINK, BAD!!! Must have BLUE. There is one place where I find BLUE. eBay. Which should be good, but it's not, because the blue is RARE (read: EXPENSIVE). This little cotton tote in BLUE is 61 bucks. Love ya sweetie, but suck it up, yer gettin' PINK.

Exhibit B: Scene It? Pirates of the Caribbean Game. I like the "Pirates" movies, but really don't see the need to memorize enough to play a trivia game with that knowlege. But, silly me..I'm in the minority on this because THIS GAME IS SOLD OUT EVERYWHERE! I should have known when I found it right away, for a reasonable $29.99, with free shipping. Just WTF does "Temporarily Not Available Online" mean? Should I check the stores? Of course, I cannot check store inventory online.** My good ole faithful (EBAY) has the game, for a mere $54 + $9 shipping. Gah! I'm stalking eBay like a fiend for this game, but niece #2 might have to settle for the Jack Sparrow action figure. No wait...I want that.

Whatever happened to Barbies? Oh yeah, this happened.

*eBay usually saves my ass every year. Love ya eBay, my sweet!

** When will stores figure out that we DO NOT want to set foot in them from 11/23 - 1/1?! We want to sit at home with our hot cocoa and shop at midnight from our laptop. Duh. First one to figure this out WINS.