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Day 333 – They Say It’s Your Birthday…

no curfew

NOTE TO READERS–Today’s blog could be a little longer than usual…Reader Discretion is Advised! 😉

Birthdays are kind of funny.  When we’re kids, we can’t wait to have them.  It’s a badge of honor to be 5 and a HALF because we know that before too long we’ll turn 6!  We know that when you go from 12 to 13 you enter the ‘Twilight Zone’ called the teenage years!  We also know that as you get older, there is a certain mystic quality with each new level in life that has been ascertained. 

For example, we both have the SAME birthday. . .today as a matter of fact. . .and those of you who know us and read us–for the most part already know this–but for those who’ve been following this year. . .welcome to something cool and amazing. . .Jean and Brian have the same birthday.  Yep, same day, same year–heck, they were even baptized on the same day!  But, part of what has made this day so awesome over the past 30+ years has been sharing this day with others in our lives.  It all started back in 1989–the dreaded 30th Birthday!  The thoughts of being out of our 20’s and into our 30’s was daunting enough, but we decided to meet it head on!  Yep.  It was PARTY TIME!  So, we created Bondy Bash–an annual display of overindulgence on food, beverage and good times.  The first year was held at our rent house in St. Peters, Missouri.  The house had an above ground swimming pool; a basement and a fenced yard. . .other than that, well, it was a creaky, ugly house!  By the time we sent out invitations and heard back from friends, almost 60 people had told us they were planning on joining us!  We fired up the grill; iced down the keg; sliced up the watermelon and were ready for a king-sized birthday bash.  And it went really well until the weather moved in and forced us into the basement.  Fortunately we had the keg with us and all was right with the world.  Funny how that one event led to the next year and the next year and so on and so on!  The birthday bashes continued after the birth of daughter #1. . .thank goodness for friends!  The birthday bashes continued after the birth of daughter #2. . .that year, the rains had been so bad, the mosquitoes looked like 747s and the jello shots were plentiful!  After a move to a new neighborhood, the bashes continued until 1999. . .the BIG 4-0! 

This was going to be the last in a long history of bashes, and with family, neighbors and friends we celebrated long into the night.  It was an amazing way to celebrate-not only a birthday-but life in general.  By the next year, we were looking at moving back to Texas and the bashes came to an end.  Our kids had ‘grown up’ on these fun, amazing parties and for us, we’d grown to love and appreciate a bunch of terrific people who were part of our lives!  In the  ensuing time period from 1999 to 2009, a lot happened in our world.  Jobs took us from St. Charles, Missouri to Aransas Pass, Texas to Kerrville, Texas and when it was time to celebrate our 50th. . .well, we knew that there was only one way to do it RIGHT!  Yep, we brought back Bondy Bash. . .and introduced it to a whole new group of people who’d never known what it was like to party until 2 am. . .grill some bratwurst and burgers. . .sip on some really cold beer and hear the rants and raves from family and friends.  In short, the party was something that our friends still talk about to this day! 

Birthdays. . .they help us to stop and realize how much we really have in our lives.  For the both of us, we are BLESSED beyond belief and don’t think for a moment that we don’t appreciate it.  So, we needed a wine tonight that was out of the ordinary.  A wine that spoke of the independence that having milestone birthdays offers.  A wine that says, “I’m not beholden to anyone anymore!”  Tonight we opened a 2010 No Curfew Red Table Wine from California.  UH-YEAH, Curfew.  Before the 18th birthday, curfews were in effect in both of our houses.  To quote Mr. T, “I pity the fool. . .who misses curfew, BUT I’d like to party with those with NO CURFEW!”  Okay, he didn’t really say that, but it sounded good!  So, this wine is red. . .duh. . .and it’s got a lot of cranberry on the  nose and on the palate.  And, if you’re into cranberry, then you’re going to want this wine.  If not, you may want to try Ocean Spray instead!  There are hints of tobacco and leather. . .and as the wine opened up, we tasted a lot of black raspberries and currants.  According to their notes, “This wine opens with aromas of violets, blackberries and hints of spice, leading to gorgeously fruited layers of blackberry, cherry and blueberry with a dash of mocha. The lush initial mouth-feel leads nicely into a mid-palate with excellent structure and balanced acidity. Dark berries dominate the finish, which is clean and long.”  Hmmm, well, so much for our view versus the tasting notes! 

We weren’t overly excited about this wine.  A cute name with LOADS of potential that fails to deliver in the end.  BUT, a great wine to break out and enjoy for a special day like today.  Yep, we’ve gone a lot longer than expected on this blog, but we are excited to share with you our birthday and our love of wine–good, bad and ugly–and, once again as our good friend tells us each time we’re together. . .”Life Is Too Short To Enjoy Bad Wine!”  Well, enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible!


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Day 268 – Fiesta San Antonio

Messina Hof ShirazAfter leaving our good friends in Aransas Pass today, we kept an eye on the sky to make sure that the rains (though VERY welcome) didn’t dampen the rest of our weekend with the girls and their boyfriends!  It’s been an amazingly fun weekend with the girls, with friends and enjoying what mother nature has to offer…be it wind, rain or sun…the weather isn’t as important as the friendships!  We understand through well placed sources that the fishing TODAY was much better than the fishing YESTERDAY.  At least one source has confirmed that the Redfish in the Bay were biting today — unlike yesterday.

We did make a stop in San Antonio and hit the Alamo, the Riverwalk and the Mercado – the best part (other than us all just being together) was the people watching.  Amazing how many people were out and about on a beautiful Sunday afternoon after a Saturday full of rain and flooding.  It was special to sit and have a snack on the Riverwalk and just spend time with the girls, Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent.  What a treat to laugh the afternoon away before heading home to San Marcos and eventually a late dinner and more laughing around the dinner table – these are precious times.

T0night’s wine is a 2010 Shiraz from Messina Hof and features a great nose, full-body flavor and extras smooth flavors.  You can’t go wrong with this fabulous flavor display of rich, dark blackberry and spice with lingering vanilla tones. Grown in the Red River Valley. Double Barrel Aged in European and American oak, this Shiraz demonstrates the grandeur of Texas and is perfectly suited for our Texas climate. It’s hearty and robust, yet well-balanced. This Shiraz is wonderful with beef, lamb, pork and even grilled salmon. It is a Double Gold medal winner at the Tasters Guild International Consumer Wine Judging, winner of the Grand Star of Texas at the Lone Star International and a gold medal winner at the Indy International Wine Competition.  According to the wine maker, “Planted in 1988 in Denison, Texas. The elevation is at 619 feet , and this vineyard has sandy-loam soil that is four miles from the Red River. A very unique wine featuring smooth and silky flavors of rich berries. Gold medal winner. Perfectly complements beef, lamb, and fowl.”  Needless to say, this wine is a winner and is meant to be enjoyed!

The wine exhibits a terrific nose of fruit and spice; we couldn’t believe how smooth this wine SMELLED!  That’s right—smooth!  The taste was equally as impressive, but restrained because, Texas wines just seem to miss out on what the fruit can actually taste like!  The finish and body of this wine are both top notch.  We can’t imagine a better looking, better tasting bottle of wine from our fair state!  The wine went with kung pao chicken tonight and was a terrific complement to sitting on the deck and enjoying the fruits of mother nature’s rainfalls. . . It’s a wine meant to be shared with family, friends or all of the above – which we did in abundance over the past several nights!!!

Until tomorrow, please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible!

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Day 230: It Doesn’t Get Much Wilder Than This . . .

wilder red table wineTo say that it’s been a ‘Wild Week’ may be the understatement of the century.  Seriously, Monday was Patriot’s Day in Boston and the running of the famed Boston Marathon.  Through good years and bad, we’ve watched the runners who’ve run this race finish strong, collapsed at the finish line and rejoice in what they’ve accomplished.  What an triumph!  To run 26.2 miles and endure some of the most grueling hills and terrain, the runners who participated Monday had NO idea of what lay ahead.

Last evening, as we enjoyed trivia night at the Waterloo Ice House, we had NO idea of what was taking place not too far north of our part of the world.  When our good friend, Kris, who is a key part of the Red Cross team told us about an explosion that had rocked West, Texas.  We–at first–didn’t quite know how to process what was being placed before us.  The small town of West, where Jean’s sister’s husband has family, had exploded?  Turning on CNN, the rumors became reality; the footage of the Dad with his daughters so close to the fire–and then–what an incredible explosion. . .nothing in its’ path. . .”Daddy, let’s get out of here, I can’t hear anything”…

Today, the FBI released photos of two men, who they say, are people of interest in the case of the Boston Marathon bombing.  Could it get any wilder?  The week has been like a roller coaster on steroids. . .so many twists, turns and drops that one must wonder what in the world is going on!

Enter tonight’s wine of choice…a 2010 Wilder Red Table Wine from Washington.  Color in the glass is a deep, clear garnet, and the nose is redolent of cassis, plum, boysenberries, and spice. Upon first sip, the Wilder Red is bright, light, and fruity with an elegant acidity that fades gracefully away to a dark, seductive earthiness. The finish just goes for miles, a swirling tornado of mushrooms and graphite, with the daintiest little tannins.  We’ve had the opportunity to expand our horizon’s with Washington wine and the truth is, we’re hooked!  Now, we can’t wait to get up to the Seattle area and visit with Jean’s sister, Sara and her better half, Sylvia!  This stuff is GOOD.  A little sweet to be sure, but as it opened up–wow, what a nice wine.

We’ve come to LOVE the city of Boston…not just because our daughter goes to school there, but because it’s a town with a ‘Can Do’ attitude.  Maybe it’s just a town with an attitude!  Seriously, no disrespect here…there are some places that you visit and you get the sense that they–well, they get it!  Boston is that kind of town.  We watched the National Anthem being sung prior to  the Bruins’ game. . .sorry, we’ve NEVER heard so MANY people singing–even dating back to the events after September 11th.  These folks clearly get it and NOTHING and we mean NOTHING will stand in their way.  We kind of like that–it’s a Texas quality as well.  We’ve watched like so many others of the closeness in the town of West.  Close doesn’t even begin to describe the way that folks look out for each other.  We know that cousins, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and many others have ALL stepped up to lend a hand while secretly grieving because they’ve lost someone—someone they knew, someone their friends’ or families’ knew. . .but in a town of 2,500–let’s be honest, you know just about everyone!

To the first responders in Boston and West, we raise a glass and say, “Thank You”.  We don’t do what you do–we don’t always appreciate what you do, BUT we know that with you, we’re better and without you, we’d be lost.  First responders–like those who jumped in to help the wounded in Boston–they are an amazing breed of men and women.  The First responders in West–ALMOST ALL OF THEM-VOLUNTEERS–what can you say?  It’s not just a job–it’s a CALLING!  These people-who volunteer–are called to do something that very few people EVER do–help, rescue, care.  AMAZING.

We enjoyed tonight’s wine; probably because it’s name gave us a sense of purpose in knowing that whether in Texas or Massachusetts, there are still people in our world who care.  There are still men and women who are willing to risk everything and put it on the line–for others.  To the men and women who are First Responders, we salute you and pray to the Good Lord that you never lose that love.  For without YOU–we may become lost!

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

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Day 112: No Place But Texas . . .

Woodrose wineryYep, living in Texas is like a whole different lifestyle.  It can be as frenetic as the metro areas of Houston, Dallas, Austin or San Antonio or it can be laid back like Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Kerrville or Stonewall.  There is a mystique about the State because Texas is way more than meets the eye.  We both “grew up” in the Houston area – products of, you guessed it, the oil boom of the early 70’s.  Jean grew up on the west side of town and Brian grew  up on the northwest side of town.  We were in the majority back then – the majority of us had parents transferred to Houston from other areas because of their involvement with oil.  When you come of age in a place like Houston, you adopt certain places, things, ideas, and other parts of life as part of your own.

One of the favorite places for barbecue in Houston is Goode Company.  Jim Goode started his business in an old gas station on Kirby Road.  It was small, cramped and the parking was atrocious, but the barbecue was (and still is) out of this world.  A lunch at the picnic table with a cold bottle of beer or two and back to the office – yep, those were the days when it was acceptable to enjoy a ‘beverage’ at lunch . . . for that matter, we can still remember the “three martini” lunch – it’s gone by the wayside, but it was a real and expected part of business back in the day.  Houston was a great place to grow up in the 70’s – construction was going on everywhere – from Memorial at Dairy Ashford to FM 1960 and Champions Forest Drive, there was something new almost every week.

Back before the baseball season ended, we drove to Houston after work to catch the Cardinals playing the Astros.  Coming in on I-10, we both were kind of blown away – 8 lanes on each side of the freeway!  When we were growing up, especially Jean on that side of Houston, I-10 was two lanes in each direction and three when you got closer to 610!  Times change – today’s I-10 eats up a tremendous amount of real estate that used to be service roads or businesses.  Such is the price of progress . . . that day we drove in for the game, we left San Marcos at 4:28 p.m. and walked into Minute Maid Park at 7:05 p.m.–not bad for a ‘congested’ freeway, and one of the best parts about living in Texas!

So, tonight – on the recommendation, and a gift,  from Cheryl at Steel Branding, we are sampling a 2010 Lone Barrel Reserve from Woodrose Winery of Stonewall, Texas.  Woodrose is one of a significant number of wineries that have opened along the 290 corridor from Fredericksburg to Austin.  It has become it’s own little wine zone which brings people from all over the State to the region.  This bottle of wine is a blend of Merlot and Tempranillo.  An interesting combination – and when you open the bottle, you’re going to be a little surprised.  It’s not deep dark purple.  It’s not a beautiful burgundy.  It’s not even mildly pink.  The wine’s color was almost copper which in typical wine-speak means bad wine.  But, a sniff of the nose cued us into the fact that this wine had some chops.  It’s fruity nature has long since passed – a nose of tobacco and oak was the prevailing aroma with the wine.  A sip and swirl on the palate reveals an amazing amount of dates, the tobacco comes through as does the oakiness.  It’s not a full-bodied wine but it’s not light or medium either – the swirl in the glass showed virtually no legs (sugar).  Clearly, this wine has spent a significant amount of time in oak barrels and for us, oak is a great way to enjoy good wines.  At $21.95, you’re probably going to find a better wine from California, Washington, Oregon or France – BUT, because it’s from Texas, you should at least give it a try.  After all, the Eyes Of Texas Are Upon You!!  Guess we are going to have a make a visit to Woodrose and check it out for ourselves.

Cheryl, many thanks for the gift and recommendation – we were not disappointed.  Until tomorrow, please enjoy your favorite wine responsibly, and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 64 — From the Hands of many…

First of all, thank you to the numerous comments and shout-outs received regarding last night’s blog.  We all have people in our lives who leave us far too early, and the best and most important things they give us are the memories from when they were here.  We also want to give a shout-out to Rick Koch with BobcatFans Magazine .  .  . thanks to Rick, we are mentioned in the November, 2012 issue of his magazine and we’re talking about – of all things, our wine blog.  Take a few minutes to look up BobcatFans Magazine on the web – it’s not just for college students!

Today was a long but productive day – we were up and on the road by 7:30-ish this morning on our way to Nacogdoches to see daughter #1 and deliver some much needed information and equipment left over from last week.  Our goal was to get to Nacogdoches by lunch time; deliver the stuff, have lunch with her and be on our way for adventures.  Our meeting location was in downtown Lufkin, Texas at a new retail store that has opened up there.  The parents’ and family of a friend of daughter #1 opened a gift shop called, Twisted Sister and if you EVER get to Lufkin, you owe it to yourself to stop at this store.  There Brian got to meet Robin and her sister (thus twisted sisters???) where Jean proceeded to support the Lufkin economy.  While there, Jean’s phone needed a car-charger for the battery and because we know the newspaper publisher, Greg Shrader and his wife, Laura who live there, we sent a message to them which led to a visit after lunch.  It’s always amazing catching up with people who end up playing a role in today’s blog.

So in the end, the people that were instrumental/crucial for today’s road trip include Brian, Jean, Robin and her sister, Greg and Laura and daughter number 1 – seven people = 14 hands and thus the carma for today’s wine was set by – the events of the day!!  We opened at 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from 14 Hands Winery of Patterson, Washington and were immediately impressed with this wine.  Most of our previous wine tastings from Washington wines were blends, Pinot’s and Merlots–none of which inspired us to switch our allegiance from California.  This wine was different – in a good way.  A nose of cranberries, vanilla and earth were completely unexpected.  The taste was fruitful but structured and well-balanced.  The taste stayed true from palate to finish.  Lots of fruit, black cherry, cranberries – and the vanilla was so spectacular, we thoroughly enjoyed this wine, and with a price well under $20 a bottle you can enjoy it without breaking the bank.

After getting back to the house around 9:30 p.m., there is no doubt that it has been a LONG day.  Lots of storms between Livingston and Huntsville made for treacherous driving for Jean, but an excellent job nonetheless.  We stopped outside of Huntsville before College Station to view a spectacular sunset complete with a rainbow as a result of the rain that we had driven through; the clouds reflected gorgeous colors of red, orange and maroon and the unique cloud shapes were a clear message to ‘stop and enjoy the beauty’ which is exactly what we did.  Even with taking some pictures, they don’t do the beauty justice, but it was yet another reason for today’s wine – it takes many hands to enjoy the fruits of the vine!

Please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.  One final note, remember to ‘fall back’ one hour tonight and enjoy that extra hour of sleep.  Cheers–until tomorrow.

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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.