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Day 213 – Monday’s for the Dogs

Vinum petite sirahAs Sunday gave way to Monday, we noticed that our three “girls”—Pepper, Andie and Jasmine–were a little more subdued than usual.  Pepper was kind of walking around with a limp.  Jasmine didn’t want to eat her dinner (which Andie all too gladly took care of) and Andie–well, Andie just couldn’t decide where she wanted to sleep.  These are serious things when you’re a dog!   We often joke that after their morning routine of taking care of business, eating and taking care of business, their ‘rest of the day’ routine consists of an early morning nap, a mid-morning nap, a noon nap followed closely by the important early afternoon nap and wrapped up with the late afternoon nap until we get home!  Oh, the torture it is in being a dog in this house!

We’ve learned over the years that our dogs are creatures of habit.  Hmmmm, we wonder how that came to pass!  Anyway, they get up when we get up–well, that isn’t TOTALLY true–WE get up when they wake up!  A stop outside followed by breakfast followed by a stop outside (you get the picture?).  What’s funny is that EVERY morning after this routine has taken place, Andie and Jasmine head to their crates.  Usually, we don’t have to say a word; they just walk in and lay down.  Why?  Because of routine–they ‘know’ that it’s time to settle in for the day and their crate is ‘home’ for the day.  We laugh, but at the same time we smile at their incredible intelligence.  How is it that they know to go lay in their crates?  Why is it that they choose to go and lay down without a word being uttered?  We’ve decided that routines are as good for humans as they are for dogs.  And THAT is why we’re writing again tonight–it’s our ROUTINE!!!

So tonight we opened a selection from a recent trip to H-E-B, this 2009 Vinum Petite Sirah out of California is an interesting wine.  Surprisingly, “this inky plum-colored wine displays ripe plum and juicy blueberry fruit right up front and is backed with cassis and spice. The mid-palate is full bodied with blackberry and over-ripe huckleberry that is cloaked in generous, integrated French Oak that coat the palate and finish with a velvety texture.”  This is one review that we actually agree with their interpretation.  The color of this wine is magnificent; if you love that deep, dark and royal purple, then this wine is going to get your attention.  We’d suggest decantering it for 30-45 minutes before serving; this wine clearly gets better as it’s opened and  has time to breathe.  At less than $12 a bottle, you won’t break the bank with this wine, and you’ll impress your wine friends who never thought you’d try something so “out of the box”!  And, if for no other reason, we opted to try this wine because it has a black labrador retriever on the label!  Sorry, we’re suckers for black labs having had a very loyal and good friend in ‘Hershey’ as the girls grew up from babies to young ladies.  Yeah, dogs help define our lives. . .we remember them like snippets of time in our lives.  Hershey was part of the family from shortly before Daughter #2’s first birthday until she was 14 years old.  They truly become part of the family and really good friends.

Anyway, this 2009 Vinum Petite Sirah–while not the most luxurious wine you’ll ever consume–has character, structure, taste and body–but it will give you a brief respite from some of the boring wines that are on the market!  We’d be tempted to buy a few more bottles of this wine, if for no other reason than, to enjoy on the deck with the grill going or the fire pit in full flame or just enjoying the sounds of the evening after a long day at work. . .kind of like a Monday–one for the dogs!

Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible!


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Day 186: Partners In Everything . . .

blackburn cabTonight we were tracing crosses from a template and cutting them out; sanding the wood to a smooth finish in preparation for a coat of paint.  It’s actually a ‘business’ started by Daughter #2 as a way to make some money on the side (not a small amount when you take out the “donated” items from Parents, Inc.) while at the same time, help develop her creative abilities.  While tracing from our template, that we’ve had for probably four or five years, it was obvious that this one was worn out.  The ends of the paper were frayed; the paper itself curled and the corners had been run into by a pencil so many times that instead of coming to a point, the corners came to a circle!  Stepping outside so Jean could have a few more to cut and prep, Brian came back into the house to toss together a late dinner.

We were both doing what we were doing and before dinner was ready, Brian was going to take the dogs out for a ‘break’.  Before he could step forward to get their leashes, he notices three mechanical pencils on the floor . . . they had been previously placed on the table.  A quick look to the other side of the table, and all at once – the air came out of the balloon . .  .there on the floor was the five year old cross template.  Eaten.  Chewed.  Left like a paper wad on a blackboard.  Curiously, two of the THREE dogs were still hanging around; however, one of the them was NO WHERE to be found!

A little loud talking at this point puts all three dogs on notice that we “AREN’T HAPPY”!  While Andie, the middle dog squints her eyes, as if to say, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean it; I didn’t do anything, but I’m SO sorry”; Pepper, the elder stateswoman of the crew looks around like, “Really?  You DON’T think for a moment that I, the Queen, had ANYTHING to do with this?”  In both instances, the tails were wagging at a ‘normal’ pace.  However, no where to be found was the youngest . . . Jasmine.  A quick search of the down stairs bedrooms, and there she was . . . sunk in the bed for as low as possible – her ears had disappeared from her head as if to illustrate “if they don’t see me, they won’t yell at me!”  As usual, when trouble abounds, dogs band together and NEVER talk.  They never give up each other; they never ‘rat out’ one or the other and they ALL stare at you with ‘innocent’ brown eyes . . . HA!  Do they think we were born yesterday?  YES!!!

Tonight we opened a 2010 Blackburn Cabernet Sauvignon from  – you guessed it . . . Paso Robles.  No, we didn’t visit this boutique winery; however, after trying their Cab tonight, we are intrigued to learn more about this winery.  What they say about this wine, “A very nice affordable Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon from winemaker Kevin Riley It is a dry full-bodied fruit-foward driven wine. Everything you love about Paso is in this bottle! 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Petite Sirah, 2% Mourvedre This rich, intensely flavored Cab is filled with fruit & spice. The nose, dominated with flavors of ripe cherry, stewed berries and cinnamon, carries on through the palate. Layers of toffee, savory herbs, and currant unfold and lead you to a long, persistent finish with lush, juicy tannins.”  What we say, the nose is like opening a jar of blackberry jam; so fruity that we had to stop for a moment and collect our noses!!  The taste is very fruit forward with very little oak . . . it’s fruit-and more-fruit!  The finish was the best part – long-lasting and delicious; however, it had just enough of a ‘bite’ on the finish to cause us to question the quality.  At the end of the day, for a $15 bottle of wine, it has ‘MOXIE’ . . . and we like wines with moxie.

Blackburn reminds us of our three ‘loyal’ followers – our dogs that never question where we’ve been; are never mad that we’re late; are happy to have food in their bowls and always have time to wag their tails!!!  This wine is fruity and fun and we hope you’ll give it a try.

Remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 116: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh . . .

Christmas 2012So, here we are at the end of another Christmas Day.  We must admit, this one makes the Top Ten list for us.  Not only were we blessed to have Daughter #1 and Daughter #2 here with us, we had Brian’s mom (aka Grams) under our roof for the past couple of days.  This was the first time in a long, long time that we had others with us on Christmas morning to share our quirky traditions.  It takes a special person to understand why the cars (as in the vehicles parked outside the house that we drive to work daily) give each daughter a calendar and have done so for as far back as we can remember, or how the dogs are able to make it to the store and pick out gifts for everyone in the family – including Grams.  Boy, oh boy, those are some smart hounds – even get sizes correct!

An added bonus for today was the early afternoon arrival of Jean’s dad (aka Bill), Jean’s sister Mary and her husband Tom (for the record they all also got gifts from those crazy dogs of ours).  They ventured through Austin and arrived safe and sound in our neck of the woods.  So – the day was by all means – a home run!  Brian battled the winds, but managed to produce some yummy smoked ribs, pork tenderloin and shrimp on the barbie and Daughters whipped up a green bean casserole.  If you went away hungry tonight – it was your own fault.

As with any feast and celebration – today we celebrated Jesus’ Birthday – there’s never a better reason to roll out some of our best wines.  We went into the wine fridge and pulled out a couple of seriously delicious wines.  With eight people in the house, we wanted to start things off light, we opened a 2009 Dry Creek  Fume Sauvignon Blanc . . . crispy, fruity and very clean, this wine was perfect with the variety of cheeses and crackers put out for snacking.  It’s rich in lemon, lime and pineapple flavors, with intense, zesty acidity for balance, and the finish was spicy.  A perfect way to begin our dinner celebration.  This was followed by an amazing 2009 Sea Smoke “Ten” Pinot Noir.  Now, earlier this year, we blogged about the Sea Smoke Southing Pinot Noir, and this wine is it’s bigger cousin.  We commented back then that it was much bigger than your ‘typical’ Pinot, and this ‘Ten’ is in our book, well, at 10!  Consistently rated in the lower to mid-90’s, the 2009 Sea Smoke Ten begins with notes of chocolate cake, dried blueberry and lavender, then cassis and dusty black berries.  Firm, mature tannins are followed by a long, velvety finish. We couldn’t have picked a better wine, and as a beginning to our smoked ribs and pork loin, it was delicious.  It was our second phenomenal wine to enjoy for Christmas.

Finally, we had opened our 2008 Bodegas El Nido “Clio “Jumilla from Spain.  This has been laying down in our fridge for a couple of years, and Christmas with family in the house seemed the perfect time to break it out!  We decantered it for an hour before serving and the air time made a great wine even better!  This wine scores 94 points Robert Parker’s scale.  We’ve had Clio before, but wanted to know more about it and discovered that the 2008 Clio is made up of 70% old vine Monastrell sourced from a vineyard planted in 1944 and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from a vineyard planted in 1979.  Fermented in oak followed by malolactic fermentation in new barrels and aging for 24 months in new French and American oak.  A rich deep purple color caught our eye and it gave us a “wow” nose of earth, blueberry, and blackberry fruit leading to a full bodied, juicy wine with great savory flavors, and a lengthy finish – we really didn’t want the bottle to be empty, but alas it was.  What we can tell you is that this was a scrumptious bottle of wine befitting a celebration as big as Christmas!

Each member of our family was able to taste and compare their tastes and aromas on all three wines which was both fun and interesting to hear differing viewpoints . . .  yet another great reason to enjoy great wine!  We aren’t always “wise”, but when it comes to history, we know that Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh were pretty special gifts.

While the food was an integral part of today’s wine sampling, each of the can stand firmly on their own.  Some wines are just better with food.  And, as Christmas 2012 comes to an end and we look ahead to “After Christmas Sales” and “Year-End Blowout Sales”, it’s nice to know that there are good reasons to enjoy good wine.

We hope you had a very Merry Christmas, and remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 109: Coming Home for the Holidays . . .

tapiz malbec

Those of you who read this blog with any kind of regularity know that we’ve mentioned Daughter #1 and Daughter #2 . . . their names are protected to save them from “embarrassment” but other than that, they’re pretty awesome kids.  When we were both growing up in our respective worlds, we remember the transition from high school to college, and at Christmas time how much our parents actually looked forward to seeing us.  Truth be told, we actually looked forward to seeing them too!  Something about being in our own surroundings .  .  . and just long enough to enjoy the visit, but short enough to get back to school . . . Or, was it the other way around?

Funny thing about getting older.  We went through school, got married and found ourselves really, really enjoying the company of our parents.  When we bought our first house in 1984, we distinctly remember having both of our parents over for dinner.  It’s the stuff memories are made of . . . Bill and Hugh with Brian out on the patio while Bea and Margaret were in the house with Jean getting things ready for the table.  It all happens so fast, and now as we look back on it as fond memories, we now begin to understand the same feelings our parents had when we came home from school.  There is a wholeness that comes from your children coming home for the holidays.  There’s an anticipation that’s like an itch needing a scratch.  We clean the house, get the rooms in order, buy food that we only buy when they are coming home!  Even the dogs know that something is going on . . . they have NO idea what–but they’re pretty sure something is happening because ‘mom and dad’ are going crazy!!!  Needless to say, we’re very excited that Daughter #2 made it home safely this afternoon – a little tense this morning because of weather delays but all worked our well in the end.  Now, we await the arrival of Daughter #1 and then a certain Mom and Dad are going to be pretty happy having their kids back under one roof!

Tonight, we opened – from our trip to Central Market – a really nice, young Malbec.  This is a 2011 Tapiz from the vineyards of Fincas Patagonias S.A. in Mendoza Argentina.  For those of you tracking costs, this little gem retailed at $12.95; however, with our sale discount, we ended up spending $11.00.  Two things: if you love a nice, dark purple and fruity Malbec and if you don’t mind a young wine that has lots to offer, then you need to stock up on Tapiz.  We really liked this wine.  Upon opening, a beautiful toasted oak aroma encircled the glass . . . further swirling produced raspberry and blackberry notes to go along with the toasted oak.  The taste was very fruity and the raspberry flavor came to the forefront and we picked up subtle hints of cedar, earth and plums.  For us, this was a terrific wine to enjoy with grilled tenders in hot sauce and barbecue sauce – a boneless wings bonanza for a Tuesday night.  The wine paired nicely with the spiciness of the tenders.  With Christmas a week away, this is a wine to stock up and bring out for family and friends.  We think it’s got a lot to offer a Malbec lover.  The price is manageable and there are a lot of other wines on the market that cost a lot more and don’t deliver the flavor of this 2011 Tapiz Malbec.

Yep, there is something special about coming home for the holidays.  From our perspective, there’s something really special about our kids coming home for the holidays.  We’ve learned to cherish them — one at a time — because they become a blur as the years go by.  And, whether we think about or reminisce about the past or think about and dream about the future, we know that family coming home for the holidays is where our heart is and it’s made special by their arrivals!

It’s also a GREAT reason to open a bottle of our favorite wine – tough to chose because we have SO many – but we promise that we’ll enjoy responsibly, and we’ll even remember to recycle–because here, it’s possible.


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Day 96: Pick Me Out a Winner, Bobby . . .

Peachy Canyon - Petite SirahAfter hearing a comment repeated by a number of our readers, we decided to take action.  Yep, a number of you have noted that we’ve hit a bit of a “bad spell” when it comes to our evening wine choice. So, we drew inspiration from one of our all time favorite movies “The Natural” and as Brian headed to “the shelf” to find a tasting for tonight he was urged on by Jean quoting Roy Hobbs telling bat boy Bobby Savoy to ” pick me out a winner, Bobby.”  As you’ve probably figured out by now there are a few “sacred cows” in the household – let’s see . . . dogs, the St. Louis Rams, the St. Louis Cardinals, Chopped, movies and of course – BASEBALL.  So, when you combine movies, baseball and to Jean’s delight, Robert Redford – you get the trifecta – yep, it just doesn’t get much better than that.  For the record, the addition of Glenn Close in the movie is an added bonus.  The movie is a classic – if you haven’t seen it, you should – if you have seen it, watch it again.  There are such wonderful movies lines – and not to mention, Robert Redford.

Truth be told, we think there is a perfect movie line for almost any situation – think about it.  What can you say when something you do goes a bit too far over the top – “think ya used enough dynamite there, Butch“.  What do you say when a project is larger than you expected – “think you’re gonna need a bigger boat.” What do you say when somebody just doesn’t get what you are explaining to them – “what we have here is a failure to communicate.”  Enough already – you get the picture – and a prize of a great bottle of wine to the first person who can name all three movies.  So next time you encounter a situation of any kind – stop and try to come up with a movie line to sum up the situation.

As usual, we digress – so on to tonight’s “winner”.  Knowing we needed something good – we went back to an old standby – Paso Robles – one of our favorite wineries from both our first trip to Paso AND our second trip was from Peachy Canyon.  Tonight’s wine is a 2010 Petite Sirah and we have to tell you . . . this wine is NOT for the faint of heart.  It’s as big and bold as they come, and as much as we enjoyed it, this one could lay down for another two or three years and be even better.  There is lots of oak on the nose, which if you love those big, oaky wines, you’ll absolutely love this one.  If you don’t, well you may want to pass the bottle on to a friend.  You’ll get some nice cherry fruit on the front of your palate . . . and you’ll definitely finish with it as well.  We noticed that the longer the bottle was opened, the sweeter the cherry taste.  If you like spice,  you’ll love this Petite Sirah.  If you like fruit, you’ll like this Petite Sirah.  If you like a dark, inky purple color that is thick with juice, you’ll love this Petite Sirah.

The bad news is that this wine (the 2010 vintage) is priced above our threshold for preferred wines . . . at about $30 a bottle.  The good news is that you can find Peachy Canyon Petite Sirah at Gabriel’s Outlet in San Marcos for less than $25 a bottle and it’s an older vintage!  We’re big fans of Peachy Canyon; their Zinfandels rock and this year we’re also going to be tasting their 2011 Viognier.  A winner . . . picked out – not by Bobby – but by Brian (who does bear a resemblance to Robert Redford in Jean’s eyes)!  Until tomorrow, “turn out the lights, the party’s over…”

No matter who picks out the winner or what your favorite wine may be, please remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 65 — Only 300 more to go!

The first night after the end of Daylight Saving Time is always a little strange .  .  . it feels like 7 p.m. but it’s really 6 p.m.  It’s not that late, but it ‘s dark outside.  we’re tired, but it’s only 7 o’clock .  .  . what’s up with that?  When friends come to enjoy a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we kind of expect that they’ll be here for a long afternoon of football, fire in the pit and good wine, but not leave until – say, tomorrow.  What a beautiful afternoon it turned out to be, with clear blue skies and a light wind to go with warm temperatures.  We call this kind of day, ‘Chamber of Commerce’ kind of weather, and judging by the number of people out and about, we’d say it was exactly THAT.

Kris and Veronique came from Kerrville today and we really enjoyed seeing them.  We’ve known these guys a long time – and really love when they come to visit.  They make an afternoon of watching football a fun time – First Down! Our “girls” love to see them as well – greeting them with tag wags and kisses and even a jump into the lap.

So, today, they brought an  American Merlot from the winery of a friend of ours.  The 2009 American Merlot from Kerrville Hills Winery is a treat and a bit of a surprise for those of us who have come to  love California wine.  In our world the combination of ‘Texas Wine and Merlot typically is met with a turned up nose and a glance to the side as to admit that we’d be sampling something inferior.  When we popped the cork; however, we were pleasantly surprised by the beautiful aroma.  We immediately enjoyed a nose of oak and lots of black cherry.  The pour was intriguingly beautiful – a dark purple hue that seemed almost too dark for a Merlot.  The nose was awesome for  this little Texas wine and the legs on the glass confirmed that our taste buds were going to be enjoying something completely different.  The taste was full-bodied and finished with a nice smokiness that we weren’t expecting.  The wine was bigger and bolder than we expected – both for a Texas wine and for a Merlot.  Very enjoyable – Wayne, ya done good!

Kris does incredible work with the Hill Country Chapter of the American Red Cross – we both remember when she took over a dying chapter that was living on  fumes and since her arrival to the organization, we’ve seen huge steps in response to crises as well as community members stepping up to support the chapter.  Like so many non-profit organizations that we’ve been a part of or have supported, a large part of their success is the people who run them – as donors and supporters, we ‘buy’ into the mission of the organization NOT because of the mission of the organization but because of the PEOPLE who are a part of the organization.  Those people are what gives the MISSION A FACE.  Unfortunately in our society, and we’re already seeing this on the East Coast – certain nonprofit organizations struggle to get their aid to the right people because the people in ‘charge’ have to be the ones at the forefront even though – in most cases – the ones at the ‘top’ haven’t lifted a finger in a long, long time.  We feel that organizations with national roots, like the Red Cross, need to let their local chapters run the show in disasters and put their collective egos in check when it comes to ‘taking credit’ for getting supplies or aid to those in need.  Veronique is a classic example of someone who is taking their skills on the road – she has created a company who is teaching Red Cross life saving skills – no better teacher can be found – if your company is in need of such skills, let us know –  we will put you in touch.

The next time that you care to make a donation or contribution to an organization with national ties, we’d like to suggest that you specify that your contribution be used specifically for the local area where you live.  Once your contribution becomes ‘restricted’, then it can only be used for the purpose which you – the donor – intended for it to be used.  Which in most cases means it won’t be used by a large national organization to fund their large national organizational salaries.  Many organizations in Texas are working hard to take care of emergency needs and deal with life saving situations .  .  .  isn’t it nice to know that when you make a contribution to one of these groups that the money stays here and does EXACTLY what it was intended to do?  We couldn’t agree more – thank you Kris and Veronique for joining us today and thank you to Wayne for a really nice American Merlot from Kerrville Hills Winery.

The next time you enjoy your favorite wine; please remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 56: A Chili October Night

So, here it is Friday night – the end of a week that was a blur . . . albeit a good blur, but a blur nonetheless.  Seems like the days are just flying by and just yesterday was the end of August – we lost the entire month of September somewhere along the way.  The bad thing about taking vacation in mid October is that you lose days and before you know it – it’s Halloween.  For the record, no regrets about the vacation.

In addition to a bit of chill in the air tonight, there is a bit of excitement – daughter #1 is coming home in a few hours and bringing a special someone with her.  Being 21 has its advantages – one of which is making grown up decisions about who you decide to spend time with and make part of your life – even if they are significantly younger than you.  We are trying to keep an open mind – but as parents, this can be tough situation.  Suppose we don’t approve, will they get along with the family, what is their family history, do they love #1 as much as she has shared she loves them??  So many questions – first impressions mean so much –  time will tell . . . .

Since today was the first real “chilly” day we had we decided we should try a wine from where else but – Chile! We opened a 2009 Lapostolle Casa Cabernet Sauvignon from the Rapel Valley.  Being newbies when it comes to Chilean wines, we decided to do a little research.  According to  the website, Wine-Searcher.com, we learned that “the Rapel Valley is located to the south of the capital city, Santiago, and named after the Rapel River which runs through its heart. The region stretches from the Pacific coast in the west to the slopes of the Andes 60 miles to the east, so it is not surprising that its landscapes and climates are varied.  In recent years, other areas in the Chilean wine region have become better known than their parent, the Rapel Valley, as a result of the Chilean wine industry’s drive towards commercially-attractive regionalization.  Wines not covered by either of these names are often labeled simply ‘Valle Central’ – a broad-stroke term referring to the entire 560 miles (1000km) between Santiago and Puerto Montt.”  A graphic in the site indicates that wines prior to commercialization, specifically before June of 2009, were valued in excess of $60 per bottle and post-commercialization the prices have dropped to less than $13 per bottle .  .  . which is the price point for this wine.  This wine was supposedly rated at 86 points by Wine Spectator, but we have to admit, it wasn’t that good.  The nose was musty and earthy while the taste was anything but flavorful.  It was like big leaf tobacco in a glass with no finish.  It disappeared – completely.  We aren’t sure what all the fuss was about, but for the low price (this was another “whale of a deal” wines at Twin), it wasn’t worth the trip down south.  For our money, there are way too many other choices of good wines for low prices that put this wine to shame.  We understand that there are some excellent wines from Chile, Argentina and other parts of South America.  When you look at the land, the mountains, the micro-climates, you can’t help but be impressed with the capabilities of the region.  However, just because it says “Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile” doesn’t mean it’s ready for your palate – or at least our palates!  And, with family coming to town, it’s a good thing we offered ourselves up on this one; otherwise, “someone” might be a little upset!

In this case, the “someone” has four legs, white paws and tip of her tail, weighs less than 20 lbs and is named “Bridget”.  She is currently being “fostered” by #1 – translation to us is – “yes, I’ll be adopting her soon”.  Being dog lovers, we couldn’t be happier – will let you know how things go.  Not too sure how “the girls” are going to like their cousin.  No doubt Pepper will remind this “young’n” that she is in charge therefore deserves to be bowed to and adored.  Andie – well our money says she hides in the upstairs bedroom and wants nothing to do with this young whippersnapper.  Jasmine, well this could be as Arte Johnson would say “very interesting“.  Jasmine is the spoiled baby in the house and more than likely will take none to kindly to a “newbie” who will compete for attention.   Stay tuned for an update  – – –

Until tomorrow, please enjoy your wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.