Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bathtime Faces

Facial expressions of the grandkid during bath time makes me chuckle.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Montes Winery in Chile

Our experience at Montes Winery, in Chile, was one I will never forget.  It began with a simple sign to let us know we were at Montes winery. You then take a walk up to the main entrance, and along the way, there are beautiful pools of running water to begin your enchantment.

We were then greeted, and got into position, with a spectacular view of the winery, getting into position to be carried away in the wine tasting extravaganza.

Next our glasses were prepared with several different wines to smell, taste, and learn about from our handsome Montes host.

These were the wines we tasted:
  • Sauvignon Blanc 2015 - I rated this 4+ out of 5
  • Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2014 - I rated this 3+
  • Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 - I rate this 3
  • Syrah 2014 - I rated this as 2+
  • Purple Angel - I rated this as 4+ 
We then had dinner at the winery and this is when it became unique and rather breathtaking. We walked to the back of the winery, which was also very beautiful....

Then hopped on the Purple Angel to be escorted to the top of the winery

for a sunset dinner overlooking the valley and winery.
with lovely foods and wines.

This was an exquisite feast with an abundance of ambiance. It was one of those moments that will be forever sealed as a wonderful experience.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Wine Tasting at Los Maquis in Chile

The Maquis winery in Chile was such a lovely and wonderful wine tasting experience. This is the Maquis winery - very modern looking, and is filled with open air for ventilation, and is in the middle acres of vines as well as olive trees.

We were then taken to a quaint and lovely outdoor area near a stream, with linen table cloths and lovely wine glasses, to taste the Maquis wine.
The owner then continued information about his wines and the unique differences in each type of wine.

These were the wines we tasted

  • Maquis Rose 2016 - this is the best rose I have ever had, about $20/bottle
  • Carenera Franc 2014 - this is about $20/bottle
  • Maquis Lien 2011 - this is a blend, about $20/bottle 
  • Maquis Viola 2011 - this was very nice. I rated this 4 out of 5 (this is about $46/bottle)
  • Maquis Franco - this is very smooth. I rated this 5 out of 5 (this is about $75/bottle)
The labels are rather interesting, too. They were designed by the owners sister and are taken from Chilean metal works of art. Very lovely.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wine Tasting at De Martino in Chile

I loved this winery! We took a tour of the winery, with Guy, from the UK, and learned about the history of this winery, as well as their philosophy of making wine without additives - none!  It is all about the fermented fruit.  The alcohol in these wines are less than 14%, and a very different flavor than other wines

I was surprised to learn that at De Martino winery, they use clay pots to store and ferment some of their wines - muscat and

The jars are HUGE, and they seal the wine with clay and straw, along with a metal spigot poking out of the top.
They also use oak barrels, but what is unique, is they reuse the oak barrels over and over again, so the taste of the wine can change year by year.  They also use HUGE oak barrels, too, so the wine's exposure to oak wood is also reduced as compared to other wineries. This is in keeping with their philosophy to focus on the fruit and it's natural fermentation process rather than introducing outside elements, like yeast and oak.
Guy, our tour guide, then took us to do some serious wine tasting.

We had several types of wines at our tasting.
  1. Cinsault Rose 2016 - aged in metal (we liked this one - very light)
  2. Viejas CINSUIT (Sanso) 201616 - aged in amphora terra-cotta  pottery
  3. Muscat 2015 - aged in amphora terra cotta potter (this was dry and NOT sweet. It was an unusual surprise. Very full bouquet)
  4. Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (we liked this one)
  5. Chardonnay Grand Reserve 2016 from Limry Valley - aged in oak (I liked this one)
  6. Carmenere 2014 - aged in the large Austrian containers. More gentle than a Merlot (I liked this one)
  7. Malbec Camenere 2014 (My traveling partner liked this one)
This wine tasting was pretty amazing. I loved it!

Wine Tasting at Santa Carolina and Santa Rita Wineries in Chile

Napa Valley, in Northern California, was where I first learn about wine. It was a great place to get my toes wet and learn about wine and start tasting the differences in different types of wines as well as at different wineries. 

Now I'm expanding my wine and culinary experiences in other parts of the world. WineKnowsTravel, a San Diego, California, based company, provides a first class travel experience in their focused tours of wine and food. For this trip, we are focusing on South America, particularly Chile and Argentina.

Our first wine tasting activity was at Santa Carolina Winery, Santiago, Chile. The climate and foliage actually looks very similar to San Diego.

Like most wineries, they use oak barrels to store the wine until it is ready for bottling. They use these oak barrels up to 4 times at Santa Carolina.

These were the wines I liked at this winery during our wine tasting adventure:
Carnere, Family Reserve, 2010

I also liked Carmenere, Premium Reserve, 2010.

Next, we visited Santa Rita winery, which is absolutely gorgeous. The feeling of peace and contentment runs through this place.  We had an elaborate culinary experience, along with some fantastic wines to accompany our meal. It was pretty stupendous.

Saturday, March 11, 2017


This little video of the Bambino makes me smile. He is chatting about being so happy - about candy and friends - all the while he continues to build and work with his sticks.

How fun to watch this little mind create images in his mind and then place those images into a little story within these sticks. I see it as another moment of wonder.

Friday, March 3, 2017

2 little munchkins

Two little munchkins. A packaged set.

The Wonders of Aging

I know, I know. Everyone tells you how awful it is to get old, but I must say, I am finding this stage of life to be rather amazing. In fact, I think it is the best stage yet! Maybe it's because you realize you are possibly in the final chapter of your life, or maybe it's just because you are now smart enough to realize how wondrous everything really is.  I mean, when I look up at the stars, I am more in awe now, than I ever was in my youth. When I see the new spring flowers coming up I think, WOW! I'm so glad I didn't miss seeing these flowers come up. Or when I go out to dinner, I can't help but be amazed how good the food is and how I loved not having to cook it!

I am also getting a kick out of being a grandma and seeing new little human beings emerging into their own personalities. My little grandson, who is 3 1/2, has already discovered Gramz has different rules than his parents, and he knows how to get away with things that I didn't learn until I was 21.

Yes, there are a few aches and pains in this old body with its droopy boobs, extra padding, and hair stubbles growing in places I didn't know were even possible, BUT the other stuff - like the ability to recognize the wonder of just being alive and being in total awe of the whole cycle of life - is really worth all the little discomforts from an aging body. It is as if ones senses have been kicked into overdrive. I had no idea life in this era would be like living and breathing in continual radiant wonder. But it is. And it is absolutely amazing.

The Spark of Imagination Presents Itself

One of the surprises about becoming a grandparent is being able to observe and pay attention to the developmental process of a new human being. I missed this observation when I was a parent, most likely because I was spread too thin and focused on completing too many tasks. BUT, as a grandparent, you get a front row seat to watch this evolutionary process unfold.

For example, in this video, my 3.5 year old grandson, is talking about monsters. This is the FIRST time I have heard him conceptualize something he hasn't physically witnessed or seen, and he is making up the descriptions of these monsters as he goes along, giving them feathers and colors and personalities. THIS, absolutely amazed me. THIS video made me aware he had an imagination spark that went off and his brain is now seeing and experiencing more complexity than he did just a week before. I was in total awe!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What to do on a rainy day at the Q's

What can you do when its stormy outside and you can't go out and play? Build a fort, of course!

Then gather everyone inside the fort...
get nice and comfy....
and start the scary movie!
Looks like fun to me. 

Bambino's Skybridge Train Track

Here is the Bambino, building his sky bridge train track....

Here is the end product, ready for grandparents "show and tell"....

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Being carried with the wind - the toddler and his bike

This video kind of amazed me. It is the Bambino riding his bike, but now, he has become more proficient and lifts his feet to glide almost effortlessly. I was in awe of such a dramatic change in such a a short period of time. It is one of those moments when you recognize the wings have spread a bit more, and that ability to soar and take flight of freedom and independence is that much closer.

Eureka! Brussels Sprouts Appetizer

Eureka Brussel Sprouts are the best vegetables I have ever had. And I'm old, which means I have had (or been exposed to) a lot of vegetables in my life.

We discovered these babies at the new Eureka! Restaurant in Concord, CA, which is a new restaurant chain in Northern CA. The restaurant is a wonderful surprise with some pretty tasty goods, and these brussel sprouts, well, it was one of those moments you didn't expect from a vegetable. It was as if it got all dressed up to meet us, and then put on quite the show. It tasted pretty darn amazing.

I found the Eureka Brussel Sprout recipe via a google search, so I am sharing it because I can. You will definitely want to try this by either going to the restaurant or cooking it at home. Be ready for a surprising moment with your first bite. I mean, it's a vegetable from the cabbage family, so your expectations are already pretty low, but then, WHAM!  So, be prepared to be amazed....

Go here to watch the video

Eureka! Brussels Sprouts Appetizer
8 oz Brussels sprouts (ends trimmed and quartered)
2 oz Orange-chili glaze (recipe follows)
1 tsp Chimichurri (recipe follows)
1 tsp chopped macadamia nuts

Fry Brussels sprouts for 30 seconds in skillet with some canola oil. (Adjust fry time based on the size of the sprouts.)
Toss Brussels sprouts with warm orange-chili glaze.
Drizzle chimichurri and sprinkle with macadamia nuts. Serve warm

Orange-Chili Glaze
1 qt. orange juice
1 bottle Mae Ploy sweet chili
1/3 cup Sambal chili paste

Place orange juice in medium sauce pot over medium heat and reduce by half. Once reduced, add the sweet chili and cook for another five minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat and add the Sambal. Blend together until smooth.

Chimichurri Sauce
2 cups parsley, chopped fine
1 cup cilantro, chopped fine
½ red onion, diced
1 Tblsp chili flakes
2 Tblsp minced garlic
2 cups olive oil
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt/pepper mix

Combine all ingredients except vinegar in mixing bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Add red wine vinegar. Stir to blend.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Kiddo's go on a Bike Ride to a Farm

"Dad, let's go on a bike ride!" says the Bambino.

"Hey, where are we?" asks Bambina.

"Cows!" shouts the kidlet.

"I'm hungry."

"What kind of farm animal is this?"

"I want to go home. I'm tired. Can you just give us a ride home?"

"That was fun!"

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Full throttle brain action

Deep concentration requires the help of ones tongue. Even on craft night when one is making a stuffed snake.

Makes me smile.

Snakes can be a fashion accessory, too

Our little granddaughter likes to accessorize, so it was obvious the newly crafted snake her brother created was soon going to become a fashion statement.

I got him right where I want him

Oh, this girl is good! She already knows she is in charge of this domain and has her Pop right where she wants him.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Sad face

Even this little sad face makes me smile. I love his broad pallet of expressions.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Collector

ARQ has become quite the collector.
At times, she is the queen of pacifiers with an abundant stash scattered on her throne.

and other times she may collect fistfuls of trains to be used in negotiations with her bro.