Is It Fall Yet?

Labor Day weekend traditionally marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall. Although the temperatures outside don’t agree, I know that sweater weather is just around the corner.

Tomorrow is a big day for me – stay tuned for that – and next week I will be sharing a post about why wine vintage matters even to those who don’t cellar their wine.

But today, I’d like to share some random things that have caught my eye.

The Art of Liz Lyons Friedman

I first discovered Liz Lyon Friedman’s beautiful work at the Sausalito Art Festival several years ago. Held every year over Labor Day weekend, this beautiful art festival in Sausalito, California, is one of my favorites.

As I walked past her booth, I couldn’t take my eyes off of Liz’s colorful and intriguing pieces.

Liz creates “linocuts” or linoleum block prints. (See details on her process here.)

Their beauty with a touch of whimsy, speaks to my soul. And, the themes Liz focuses on – wine, friends, life, and love – are the very things I celebrate every day.

We have these fabulous pieces in our house along with her award-winning poster from the 2012 Sausalito Art Festival.

Kitchen Crowd by Liz Lyons Friedman

Kitchen Crowd by Liz Lyons Friedman (used with permission by the artist)

Cooking With WIne by Liz Lyons Friedman

Cooking With Wine by Liz Lyons Friedman (used with permission by the artist)

You can visit Liz Lyon Friedman’s site or find her on Facebook to see more of her talent.

College Football Tailgating

In a couple of weeks, we will be heading to Notre Dame for a home football game.

My mouth is watering thinking of the delicious meatball subs, chili and scrumptious baked goods on hand at the tailgate party our friends so generously invite us to.

This post, It’s Tailgate Season, by my blog friend Vicki at Life in My Empty Nest, is chock-a-block full of amazing recipes for tailgate parties. Vicki found all sorts of great recipes on Pinterest (like this yummy looking bacon cheeseburger meatball recipe from An Affair from the Heart) collected just for us!

I have pinned every one of the recipes shown in Vicki’s post. Now I just have to talk someone into making them for me!

The West Wing Podcast

I’m a nerd. My favorite television show of all time (please don’t tell the housewives) is The West Wing.

I loved that show from the first minutes of the pilot all the way through two terms of Jed Bartlett’s presidency.

Imagine my delight in discovering that there is a podcast, The West Wing Weekly, which is an episode by episode analysis of my favorite show.

Be still, my nerdy little heart.

Hosted by Joshua Malina (who played the role of Will Bailey starting in season 4) and Hrishikesh Hirway (musician, composer, podcaster and political news junkie), the podcasts feature analysis of each episode, behind the scenes stories and visits from many of the West Wing actors.

Netflix is offering every season of West Wing. I have been watching each episode, then listening to the podcast.

The only teensy tiny problem is that Netflix encourages binge watching by starting the next episode as soon as the last is done. I have stayed up waaaaaay too late too many nights hanging out with Toby, Josh, CJ and Donna.

And loving it.

Bounty Hunter Wine Catalog

I’ve shared this gem with you before. I consider the Bounty Hunter catalog to be the best source for online wine purchasing. They also carry spirits.

Bounty Hunter Wine Catalog

The fine folks at Bounty Hunter scour the world, curating a collection of wine based on quality and price. There is something for everyone and you can be guaranteed the wine will be good.

Just this weekend, Peter and I pulled a bottle of wine which we had never had before out of the cellar, a 2007 Pedestal Merlot.

2007 Pedestal Merlot

As soon as I saw the Bounty Hunter sticker on the back of the wine, confirming where we had purchased this bottle, I knew it would be a gem and it was!

When you visit Napa, be sure to visit Bounty Hunter’s Smokin’ BBQ Restaurant and Wine Bar for delicious food and a wide selection of wines. It is right in the heart of downtown Napa at 975 First Street.

That’s my roundup for now. By the way, all of these opinions and endorsements are my own. Other than permission to use images of Liz Lyons Friedman’s art, I have received no compensation from anyone included in this post.

Now, what about you? What’s on your radar? Are you ready for fall?

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In Defense Of Reality Television

I don’t stick my head in the sand.

I watch tv, read the newspaper and follow breaking news on my ever-present smartphone.

But sometimes, it’s just too much. Sometimes I need a break from reality.

That’s when I turn to reality television.

Reality television helps me escape reality.

In 6 words, that’s my true confession.

I’ve tried getting on board the crime drama bandwagon but the shows seem to be getting worse – trying to one-up each other in a contest of who can be the bloodiest.

Sure, there is some back-stabbing among the Real Housewives, but they don’t involve graphic operating room scenes in which beautiful surgeons save the patient’s life while making plans for a secret tryst with the anesthesiologist.

Sci-fi, fairy tale, and vampire shows just aren’t my thing.

My type of fantasy show is Million Dollar Listing New York or Los Angeles. I fantasize about paying cash for a $10 million gem with an infinity pool and killer outdoor space.

To me, the Real Housewives are just a modern-day, real-life version of Dynasty or Dallas. Alliances are made and broken, fortunes rise and fall, friends become enemies and the bad guys find redemption.

Valuable lessons can come from devotion to these shows.

Reality television is inspirational.

For example…

Project Runway’s Tim Gunn implores struggling designers to “Make it work.” as they survive on two hours of sleep and lots of caffeine while crafting ballroom frocks out of penny candy. With Tim’s encouragement, the designers really do “Make it work.”

Tim Gunn bobblehead

My Tim Gunn bobblehead doll, a gift from my pal Franny.

Is there anything more goose-bump producing than when a hard-luck contestant on The Voice belts out a song resulting in the coveted Four Chair Turn? This kind of validation gives hope to aspiring performers everywhere.

And who among us has not been inspired to knock down a wall or two in our home to create the open concept that every HGTV show has taught us to love?

Reality television is educational.

Million Dollar Listing New York has taught me the difference between SoHo, NoHo, NoLIta and TriBeCa.

I may never use huitlacoche, durian, or dulse in a recipe but thanks to Chopped, I can use these terms in Words With Friends.

Other terms I’ve added to my vocabulary:

Shiplap – Joanna’ favorite reclaimed wood on Fixer Upper.

Front of house – the job you DO NOT WANT in Restaurant Wars on Top Chef.

Step and Repeat – the advertising background in front of which reality stars like to be photographed.


Porte-cochère – the covered entryway through which the champagne delivery truck drives at Heather’s new home in the OC.

Product placement – the shameless way that Project Runway shills for advertisers. For example, the “design a garment based on the flavors of Yoplait Yogurt challenge” or the “design a garment based on the color of a Lexus sedan challenge”.

And, finally, borrowing a concept from the Muppets…

Reality television is celebrational.

No one knows how to celebrate like reality television folks. Whether it is the big reveal of a newly renovated Fixer Upper, a cleverly themed brokers’ open house, dinner parties, charity events, or fancy society balls, “YIPPEE!!” is the rallying cry of all reality television personalities. (Except Vicki who prefers “WOOHOO!”)

Sure, once in a while a table gets flipped, an insult (or a leg) gets flung, but all in all, it’s just good old harmless fun.

So please join me in raising a glass of champs or Ramona Pinot Grigio or a Skinnygirl Margarita to toast the people who expose the reality of their lives so we can, if even for a little bit, escape the reality of ours.


Head on over to Coach Daddy to check out the true confessions of other participants in the 6-Words Challenge.

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Super Bowl Ads: Super Or Super Depressing?

Super Bowl Ads

Super Bowl XLIX – what a game, eh?

Although the Chicago Bears have my #1 loyalty, I was delighted that the Patriots won last night because I picked up 3 points in The McLuxies. Several of us selected the Seahawks and Patriots as the teams who would battle for the championship, but I’m the only one to correctly predict the winner.

Thank you Malcolm Butler!

In addition to being a roller coaster of a game, the Super Bowl ads took viewers on a roller coaster of emotions.

Who knew we would need a box of tissue along with our chili and chips?

Let’s get started…

The “Doting Dads” Award

This commercial hit the mark, demonstrating the simple ways in which dads can show their love.

Sweet, effective, memorable.

The “Not So Great Dad” Award

Did I miss something?

Nissan says this commercial “follows the struggles of a hardworking and close-knit family striving for togetherness across the years”.

All I saw was a confusing montage of clips, set to the soundtrack of Cats in the Cradle – the anthem about a father who was completely absent from his child’s life and suffers insurmountable regret.

Super cheery, right?

The “Brady Bunch Is Timeless” Award

I’m a fan of all the Snickers ads showing the transformation from hangry to delightful. And I’m even a bigger fan of The Brady Bunch. The wacky antics of this family are so hokey that they are timeless.

Snickers, you had me at “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia”.

The “Drop The Nachos And No One Will Get Hurt” Award

Dear Weight Watchers, thank you for making me feel super guilty about every chip I stuffed in my mouth and thank you SO much for the invitation to #Take Back Control.

But next year, why don’t you play the part of Monday morning quarterback and let us have our Super Bowl Sunday Pigskin Pig Out, ok?

The “Debbie Downer” Award

Two words: Nationwide Insurance. You know the ad I’m talking about.

An important message to be sure.

But this ad also warrants the “There Is A Time And A Place For Everything And This Is Neither The Time Nor The Place” Award.

The “Girl Power” Award

The “Like A Girl” ad by Procter & Gamble presented a great visual of how important it is for girls to believe they can be strong, just like boys.

But then…

There was the requisite Victoria Secret commercial which I guess served the purpose of showing girls that wearing skimpy undergarments is something they can do even better than boys.

Especially if they grow up to look like Mrs. Tom Brady.

And finally…

The “Puppies And Ponies Make Me Cry” Award

Budweiser nailed it.

You have to love the story of a dog who gets lost, finds his way back only to face mortal danger, then is rescued by his Best Buds, the majestic Clydesdale horses.

This ad pulls at every single heartstring and had me weeping Like a Girl (or a Boy Who Is Very Strong And Is Also In Touch With His Emotions).

It almost made me want to crack open a beer. Almost.

So what were your favorite Super Bowl ads? Can anyone explain that Nissan commercial to me?

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Facebook, Police Blotter & Other Random Things

From time to time I come across interesting or amusing articles that I think might be great material for a blog post in the future.  These might be things that come across my Twitter or Facebook feed, a hot topic in the news or something that my fabulous son-in-law sends me.

Today I found not one, not two but three of these gems so I decided it was a sign.

Time for a random things post.

From The L.A. Times – 8,000 Balloons


What a beautiful way to celebrate the anniversary of such a momentous event.

Shake An Airline Wine Bottle To Make It Taste Better

Jerry sent me this article from Lifehacker months ago. I’m finally sharing it with you.

And I’m going to give this a try when I’m on a red-eye flight later this week.

Purely for research purposes, of course.

Please enjoy this demonstration:

Police Blotter From Flathead, Montana

When we vacationed in Montana this summer, our host Ellen shared with us the amazingness that is the Police Blotter section of the Flathead Beacon. Christie Burns, who writes the column, is clearly someone with a sense of humor. I know, crime isn’t funny but seriously – please enjoy Christie’s report from October 1st:

“9:22 a.m. A lone llama was seen traveling southbound down Possum Lane near Whitefish.

11:47 a.m. A laptop was stolen out of a pickup parked on Parkway Avenue in Bigfork.

11:56 a.m. A man reported that his girlfriend’s new van broke.

1:27 p.m. A local man called in with information about a fraudulent coupon.

4:56 p.m. A man reported that his bicycle had been stolen approximately twelve hours ago.

5:46 p.m. An employee of a Lakeside store reported that a local man stole some candy. He believes that this man may also be involved in a recent series of strange occurrences in the Lakeside area.

6:19 p.m. A Bigfork man reported that a runaway boat found its way to his dock.

6:47 p.m. A Windsong Way resident found a suspicious bag of badminton equipment in his driveway.

8:17 p.m. A woman called from Lakeside to report that her current boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend was intoxicated and attacked her car.”

From the Flathead Beacon

You can’t make this stuff up!

113 Year Old Woman Has To Lie About Her Age To Join Facebook


This story reminds me of my mom (much, much younger than the woman in the story) who stays connected with her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends via Facebook, text messages, FaceTime and a shared PhotoStream which she accesses on her iPad.

My mom is awesome.

Toast Of The Day Goes To Mr. & Mrs. Zuckerberg

As much as Facebook drives us all crazy sometimes, I will raise a glass to Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan for making a huge donation in support of the efforts to fight Ebola.


All of our thoughts and prayers are with those afflicted with this scary virus, their families and all of those bravely caring for them in the face of very real personal risk.  Yes, there were mistakes made in Dallas – BIG mistakes. But rather than placing blame, let’s learn from those mistakes and focus every ounce of our collective energy and brainpower to stop the spread of Ebola.

Clunk, clunk. (The sound of me stepping off my soapbox.)

And finally – one bonus piece of randomness:

NPH To Host The Oscars

Checking another thing off his bucket list, the uber-talented Neil Patrick Harris will be delighting viewers as the host of the Academy Awards broadcast in February.

Excellent news, indeed!

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