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Day 332: Prayers for Luke . . .

Cigar ZinAs we go about our busy lives, we often times don’t stop and take enough time to appreciate what we have . . . each other, our daughters, our faith, our extended family, good friends and our health.  To be honest , most of these things we just take for granted and never give a second thought.  Tonight we want to stop and pause for a moment or two (or 400 words or less if you are a blogger!) and just count our lucky stars.

During our almost 54 years we have come across all kinds of people – some whom we relish and some we just tolerate because it’s the right thing to do.  But, we have to admit there is a young fella named Luke – who while we know a bit . . . mostly through his parents . . . we think is a shining example for all of us.  Luke was born premature and from what we know has faced more obstacles in his short 3+ years than most of us will face in a lifetime.  His medical issues have ranged from grandiose to not so grandiose – but challenges nonetheless.  Every, and we mean EVERY time we’ve come in contact with him, we have been gifted a shy smile and an eye twinkle that melts our hearts.  This young man is just contagious – not a water-walker mind you, but contagious in his joy of life . . . while most likely way too young to totally comprehend what he has faced – he lives life to the fullest.  With four older siblings to lead and guide him, this remarkable person named Luke has taken life by storm.

Tonight we dedicate this post to Luke as he prepares to undergo some very tough surgery on Wednesday.  Part of his health challenges include the need to do some major surgery on his skull . . . so, we ask that each of you take a moment or two on Wednesday morning and say a prayer for Luke to come through with flying colors.  Pray for his parents to be at peace during the surgery and place complete trust in the capable hands of the surgeons whom our Heavenly Father has placed on this earth to perform such medical procedures.  Pray for his brothers and sisters as they anxiously await word on their brother whom they love, dote on and care deeply about – finally, pray for all those who will provide before, during and aftercare for Luke – he will need their attention and skill.

Tonight, after a busy day for Jean helping D#1 move into her classroom and then search for a place to live in Austin and a busy day for Brian videotaping “San Marcos Shining Stars” for his upcoming Chamber business expo, we opened a little wine we found during our “work weekend” in Kerrville for less than $12.  We opened a 2011 Cigar Zin . . . their motto is “grab life by the bottle” – interesting theme . . . and interesting flavor.

In the glass – its’ color was medium body, a little thin on the ruby-red side but a pretty sight to behold.  On the nose, this little gem was classic Zin – peppery, spicy and lots of dark fruit.  On the palate, really . . . really fruity with less spice than on the nose, but a fruit bomb nonetheless.  It’s a blend of 90% Zinfandel, 5% Petite Sirah, 5% Syrah . . . WOW, what a combination!  This wine was also hand harvested at peak season to ensure quality and flavor, the fruit for Cigar Zin was sorted then fermented for 7 days then prepared the wine in French (50%) and American (50%) oak barrels for 11 months. No wonder its soooo good!  We will add this one to the Bondy Deck Wine list and am thinking it could make the Top Ten list (well, maybe the Top 20).

Thank you for being out there – thank you for reading our blog – and most importantly tonight, thank you for praying with us for Luke.  Have a great night and remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 195 – There’s Always a Better Half

Eberle The Better HalfThere was a commercial–not too long ago–where a Mom with twin boys had just enough peanut butter left to make one sandwich.  And, the concept was that she gave one of the boys the responsibility of choosing where the knife cut on the sandwich went. . .(he, of course, was thinking that he would get ‘the better half’).  But, like good Mom’s do, she throws a curve ball and let’s the second twin choose which piece.  A classic piece of marketing and a small case study in fractions!

From the time we’re born and raised, the stakes have always been getting the bigger (better) half.  Whether it was a piece of birthday cake, a helping of mashed potatoes or something else, the premise was the same–getting the bigger slice, the more preferential treatment, the larger dollop of food.  It’s a competition.  Right?

It’s been a long Spring Break week.  While we’ve enjoyed ‘watching’ Daughter #1’s dog, we have to admit, puppies flat out wear us–and our older, lazier dogs–out!  We should have expected this. . .it’s really not that big of a surprise.  Puppies have more energy.  It’s like the cell phone commercial…which is better less or more?  Which is better high energy, bouncing off the wall or laying on the floor like a piece of carpet?  Puppies are much better at bouncing off the wall.  Not only are they good at it, but they are USED to it!  So, when Daughter #1 comes to retrieve her ‘prized possession’, we’ll be sad to see her go, BUT our dogs–the three of them–will be anything but SAD to see her go~

As Thursday winds down and the weekend is at the front doorstep, tonight we opened a bottle of Eberle “The Better Half” from 2010.  Recall that Eberle was one of the stops we made during our trip to Paso Robles last fall.  This wine is something to behold.  A perfect combination of 51% Zinfandel and 49% Cabernet Sauvignon!  It’s a match made in heaven—This is a little fruit explosion waiting to happen; complete with lots of crush; we couldn’t believe how delicious this wine was for such a young age.  Raspberries, blackberries, dewberries. . .all of them coming at us at one time!  An amazing picture of wine growing and harvesting excellence.

More and more Eberle Wines are finding their way to liquor and wine stores across the country.  They’re still family owned and operated, which gives them a leg up on their corporate competitors. The small, boutique winery is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.  But, with Eberle, you still get world class wines without the huge volume of tasteless wine!  Their wine selections and pairings are things of beauty.

So, as your weekend unfolds, find yourself a bottle of Eberle Wines or select your favorite wine to enjoy.  Remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle your bottles and other items whenever possible.


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Day 182 – You Meet The Nicest People

Billi BilliA long day of traveling from San Marcos to Boston has come to an end.  Along the way, we met some new friends and shared the blog with them!  We visited with Adrian who served us a quick glass of wine at the Newark Airport – – after a three plus hour flight and 30 minutes on the ground waiting for a gate!  Jean enjoyed a beautiful Italian varietal with lots of fruit and Brian went with a big, full bodied Cab.

As we got in line for the flight from Newark to Boston, Jean struck up a conversation (wow, now that’s a surprise) with a woman who was heading home to Boston after spending the week in the ‘Austin area’ – she apparently had been on our flight from Texas.  After a few questions and exchange of pleasantries, we found out that she was working in San Marcos for her company and had been staying at the Hampton Inn.  Oh, and to add icing to the cake, her seat assignment was in our row.  So, the three of us chatted up a storm (which is no surprise to those that know us) during the 40 minute flight.  She told us about places in Boston to check out and we told her about places – way better than Red Lobster – to check out in San Marcos.  Ironically, she will be heading back down south in a week or so and we plan to get together for dinner.  It’s the stuff that small worlds are made of and it clearly made our night.

Once we found our way to the hotel (so – there is snow on the ground that is leftover from the artic blast that barreled through the area a week or so ago – amazing!) and got checked in and walked into our room to find two ‘double’ beds instead of a king size bed.  Now you notice we put ‘double’ in a quote mark – – – well, because the beds looked more like an over-sized twin as instead of a true full.  A trip back to the lobby yielded a king size bed – albeit a long hike, but alas the bar was still open and across from the check-in desk . . . isn’t that convenient!  Here we met Marc,  who’s been a part of the hotel for seven years this month, and as he brought out our bottle of 2008 Billi Billi Shiraz from Australia, we started talking about sports.  Marc, it turns out, is a HUGE Cowboy’s fan (ok, we tried to be polite – but just because we live in Texas does not mean we are Cowboy fans – for the record, we are not) – – – as well as a Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics fan.  You get the picture?  A Cowboys fan in Patriots country!  Actually, we had a wonderful visit and look forward to visiting more with him during our stay.

So, according to the label, the wine contained – “Deep, dense purple Boysenberry and blackberry fruits, layered with spice and liquorice cool climate characters. Fine tannins are supported by bright berry fruit and delicate spice characters, medium bodied with good length of palate.”  Yeah, we read that and started picking up all of it plus a lot more.  This is a really nice bottle of wine that typically will sell for less than $13 a bottle.  We liked the fresh aroma of fruit on the nose and the hint of vanilla on the finish.  A big wine that didn’t pour big initially.  It’s a wine that gets better as it opens up and has some time to breathe.  This wine is from the Victoria region and is a different style compared to wines from Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale, but just a tasty.  We really liked it a lot and were lucky that Marc still had the bar open for us to try it.  Gonna have to track it down when we get home.

Planes don’t always leave on time or arrive on time.  Parking is usually a problem at airports and other places when you’re on the road.  But one of the things that makes traveling just a little more bearable is when you meet people who – well, just make a difference in your day . . . and today that was accomplished in a big way.  It really made our trip fun and memorable – and we’re just getting started!  Looking forward to a fun weekend with Daughter #2 and exploring her world up this way . . . oh, and trying to stay warm!

Here’s to the weekend.  Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.  See you back here tomorrow!


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Day 146 – When Winter Is Spring

snoqualmie cabOkay. . .we know we’re going to regret writing this, but given the last few days, it’s something that we have to talk about.  You can see it in everyone’s faces.  The students at Texas State–they know what’s happening.  The cafe’s on the square–they know what’s going on.  The smiles on people’s faces say all that needs to be said.  Yep, we’re experiencing spring before winter.  A run of days in the 70’s has most of the town giddy with excitement.  Why not?  Normally, we’re excited to be in the 50’s or 60’s this time of year, but to be in the 70’s (closer to 80) in late January puts a spring in just about everyone’s step.

Without gloating (although we’re good at it) we talked with daughter #2 in Boston and it was 9 there yesterday.  Yeah, as in 9 above zero.  As in, it’s too cold to snow.  Factor in the wind chill and you’re talking downright nasty.  Oh, but don’t worry–most of the midwest, south and northeast are in the Big Chill.  How long it lasts is anyone’s guess, but having spent a fair number of winters in St. Louis, we can tell you that some years are just plain worse than others.  We still remember January of 1990. . .we were living in a rent house in St. Peters, Missouri–just outside of St. Louis County.  Early in the month we had a pretty significant amount of snow which was followed by several bouts of freezing rain, and the last piece of the puzzle was frigid temperatures.  The bottom line that year was we never could shovel the driveway or walkway because everything was frozen–solid.  And, just like up in the Boston area today, the wind chills were brutal. . .at one point, 35 below wind chill factors.  Not the stuff we were used to.

Since we don’t have a wine from where it’s really, really cold.  We decided to head up to Washington for tonight’s selection.  Our 2006 Snoqualmie Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley was a surprise and a treat.  This was a Twin Liquors find and if memory serves us, it was less than $12 a bottle.  According to their website,  “Founded in 1983, Snoqualmie was one of Washington’s first premium wineries, producing classic wine varietals from vineyards across the Columbia Valley.  Originally located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Snoqualmie opened its winery in Prosser, WA, at the base of the Horse Heaven Hills, in 2002.  Under the leadership of Joy Andersen, winemaker since 1991, Snoqualmie has become a leader in sustainable and organic wine making in Washington.”  What we like about it was the taste.  Yes, it had a classic Washington State Cabernet nose. . .picked up a lot of blackberries and black cherries.  But the taste–a real subtle earthiness to it which was enhanced by the smooth tannins.  Clearly, it’s aged well in the bottle and as a perfect accompaniment to grilled steak and a baked potato, this wine is now a favorite.  We’re also of the opinion that it could be a perfect deck wine. . .which we can enjoy because the weather is perfect for deck-time!

We know that at some point winter will come back to this part of the state.  It always does.  Two years ago, before moving to San Marcos, we still remember the weekend that we brought furniture up to Brian’s apartment–it was in the low 80’s and very sunny and warm.  By the end of the day on February 1st, the temperatures were in the 20’s where they’d stay for the better part of the month of February.  You never know what kind of winter is going to be thrown at you, so it’s nice when we can sit back, pour a glass of wine and enjoy it OUTSIDE this time of year.

As you enjoy your favorite wine (try the Snoqualmie) please remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 62 – Sometimes You Gotta Try Something New . . .

Ever get into ruts?  You know, the same routine day in and day out?  We don’t necessarily get into ruts, but we’ve been know to follow routines.  Most of our routines tend to follow getting up at the same time; leaving for work at the same time; having dinner (dinner is a fairly loose term around here some nights – cheese, crackers and salami are a staple – it’s what happens when there are just two of us) around the same time; writing/finishing our blog.

So tonight, we busted out of our routine and after attending an induction ceremony for a Women’s Hall of Fame, we ventured to a new spot in our world called, Cody’s Bistro & Lounge in San Marcos out at the exit for the Outlet Malls but on the opposite side from the malls.  Finally, a much-needed night spot with terrific ambiance, comfortable seating, delicious food and a well-stocked bar.  We zeroed in on their pita sandwiches with Jean enjoying a flat iron steak and Brian tasting a chicken and roasted garlic with mushrooms.  Both of us had a side of fries and a side dish of cilantro ranch dressing (killer good!).  Neither of us are big fans of pita sandwiches, but these were just really delicious .  .  .  not too heavy and not too light, just the right amount of zip.  The menu at Cody’s is upscale pub food – freshly made pizzas, salads and of course, the pita sandwiches.  Besides water, you’ll want to wash your food down with something from the bar, and here Cody’s will quickly make a name for itself – quality bourbon and scotch, select tequilas, vodkas, gins and more.  A nice selection of craft beers and a growing wine list.  On the down side, the only one Zinfandel on the list, but know more will come.  Cody is to be commended for jumping out and opening a great place – we really hope it does well.

Our sample tonight is a 2011 The Crusher Petite Sirah from Don Sebastiani & Sons’ Clarksburg Vineyards.  What a beautiful color – deep, dark purple; almost inky in color but exceptionally fruity on the nose.  A quick peek at the website confirmed much of what we sensed about this wine, “A jammy array of blackberry and black cherry flavors dominate the palate, complemented by hints of vanilla, sassafras, and exotic oaky notes that linger through the finish. Full-bodied, with rich mouth-filling tannins, the wine displays a multi-layered depth and complexity that invites lingered contemplation and enjoyment.”  Fortunately, our food was a perfect complement to the wine and vice versa.  Even as young as this 2011 is, the taste and body are well-developed and we can only imagine that it will get better with a little more time laying down.  The nose and finish were both delightful – we would have had more, but it’s a school night – and the alarm goes off mighty early around these parts.  At the winery, this is about an $18 bottle of wine, but we’d guess at most retailers, you’ll find it for less than $15 which is a great price point for a  young wine that can be enjoyed today or saved for a later date.

After meeting up with our videographer and sound man for next week’s Chamber Gala, we headed home and were both really excited to have Cody’s open in San Marcos.  He’s just getting going – but don’t let that deter you.  The service was excellent – we were served by Alex who is a student at Texas State, and the turn around from ordering to eating was fast.  We’re guessing that they’re still getting their timing down, but this place has an opportunity to carve a niche for itself.  We’re hooked .  .  . and we’ll be back.  For you, not living  here, you’ll need to get a bottle of ‘The Crusher’ and see for yourself – it’s anything but routine!

Please remember to enjoy your wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.