There have been many crickets chirping on this blog since I last posted, we have lots of catching up to do in the coming year.
But for now, I’m just gonna leave this here because, well, this Mulled Jalapeno Wine thing has become a THING! Which is honestly quite thrilling for me because it all started as a little Crystal recipe I made because it sounded good to me on a crisp Fall day in 2014. I was probably deep into the one-year-old chasing and three-year-old sassing phase. What kind of winemaker’s wife would I be if I didn’t use that experience to craft a warm cocktail recipe we could some day turn into a product itself? A lazy one!
So fast-forward to present day and here you have it folks – the Mulled Jalapeno Wine that started in our kitchen and is now selling out at the Saturday markets faster than I can make it.
There’s cinnamon, there’s clove, there’s star anise (it’s completely ok if you have no idea what that last item is). There’s apple cider, there’s dry white wine, and there’s – you guessed it – jalapeno wine. Stir a spoonful of honey in there and call it a season, friends. I hope yours is served warm with minimal whining from your in-laws…
The me who is now dodging footballs thrown by a four-year-old, making school lunches for a first grader, keeping up with clients in the studio and diligently organizing the chaos involved with opening a tasting room. (Remember how I mentioned we have some catching up to do?) Let’s do that soon…
(Psst – If you’re local you can find us and this mulled wine situation at the Indoor Farmer’s Market at 8th & Fulton in downtown Boise every Saturday until Dec. 23rd [9am – 2pm], as well as at the Capital City Holiday Market on the Grove every Saturday until Dec. 16th [10:30am – 2:30pm].)
When you have so many circus balls up in the air, sometimes dropping one means it doesn’t immediately get thrown back into the mix. It gets picked up, dusted off and then some clown steals it and throws it in your face while shouting “Rookie!”. Such is the case with this poor blog these last couple months.
But know this, readers out there: I will always keep trying to juggle this circus (because I kind of love it).
This time I’m back to reveal some things we’ve been working on during the “slow months” (lies!) at the winery. in 2016, you’ll find us at many of the same places as last year, with some exciting additions.
This is not an exhaustive calendar as we’re always adding new events and tastings as they get organized, so check back periodically for updates. If you’d like to receive our (very sporadic) newsletter with occasional open house announcements and VIP promotions, simply email me at email@example.com with the subject line “Newsletter Subscription”.
*Important Note: You will find us every Saturday at BOTH farmers’ markets in downtown Boise through October. Giving this disclaimer right now saves me from typing in every Saturday date for the next six months. The Boise Farmers’ Market and The Capital City Public Market are our favorite homes away from home!
Tuesday the 12th: Women & Wellness event at Thrive Chiropractic. Come by and drink some wine and enjoy other fun life necessities! 5:30 to 7:30pm, located @ 04 S. Orchard St., Boise, 83705.
Saturday the 16th: Opening day of the Capital City PublicMarket. Last year we were visiting members and this year we’re happy to say we’re sticking around! Find us there every Saturday through October. Open 9:30am to 1:30pm, located downtown on 8th Street.
Saturday the 23rd: Taste 208.This year is the fifth anniversary of this event and our first year of participation. With 55 local and regional vendors serving samples of beer, wine and spirits, you hardly have a reason to miss this! 6-9pm, located at Payette Brewing, 733 South Pioneer Street (River St. between 12th and 14th).
In addition to all Saturdays at both farmers’ markets…
Friday the 20th: Wine, Women & Shoes.With a fashion show, wine tasting, designer shopping and shoes, this is bound to be a stellar evening! Proceeds go to women’s and children’s charities, so there’s lots to love here. 6:00 to 9:30pm @ The Boise Centre.
June (Idaho Wine Month!):
In addition to all Saturdays at both farmers’ markets…
Thursday the 2nd: First Thursday with Buy Idaho at the Ward Hooper Gallery. Sip on wine while you browse the iconic Idaho artists’ collections. Buy Idaho is also celebrating their 30th anniversary and will be selling their Commemorative 30th Anniversary Buy Idaho Calendar featuring beautiful scenic images by – you guessed it – Ward Hooper himself. 5:00 to 9:00pm, located @ 745 W Idaho St.
Friday the 3rd: First Friday at Whole Foods Boise. These fun food and drink events inside the store benefit local non-profits. There’s wine, beer, food, demos and even live music. Buy your ticket for $5 when you get there and come hang out with us! 4:00 to 7:00pm, located @ 401 S. Broadway.
Sunday the 12th: Savor Idaho.Don’t even slightly hesitate to get your tickets for this major Idaho wine event, as they always sell out! The Idaho Wine Commission and other sponsors do a terrific job putting on this soiree every year and we always look forward to it. 2:00 to 5:00pm, located @ Idaho Botanical Gardens.
All Saturdays at both farmers’ markets.
Psst! Stay on alert for an event thrown together with Boise Brewing this month! It’s gonna be SHANDY-TASTIC!
(Update: The above-mentioned event did happen on First Thursday in July and it was indeed shandy-tastic. If you missed hearing about it, it’s because you should be following along at our Facebook page. Go now, I’ll wait…)
Friday the 29th @ Canyon County Fair, inside the O’Connor Field House. The fine folks at Buy Idaho are including us in their showcase of Idaho-only booths! Stop by for samples and to purchase your own. 12 to 10pm, located at 2207 Blaine St, Caldwell, 83605.
In addition to all Saturdays at both farmers’ markets…
Thursday the 4th: First Thursday at Salon Apothecary. There’s going to be wine (ours!), appetizers, a mobile botox party (it’s true!), and giveaways. This fun salon is owned by four ladies who are a hit to hang with and get styled by! 5-8pm. Find them in the Sola Salon store front at 1197 W Main St.
Watch for an update on our participation in Salsa Fest at North End Organic Nursery (Always on a Sunday in August, always a big spicy blast!).
In addition to all Saturdays at both farmers’ markets…
Saturday the 24th: Eagle Food & Wine Festival. This is perhaps the most fun I’ve ever had as a vendor (and most events are pretty fun). I think it’s a mix of the attendees, the wineries and the food vendors involved. Plus Mary (the organizer) goes to great lengths to make this a super smooth and exciting evening. We never miss! 6:00 to 9:00pm, located @ Banbury Golf Course.
All Saturdays at both farmers’ markets. And…
Thursday the 6th: Downtown Boise First Thursday. Watch for us at Shift Boutique. Located@ 807 W Bannock St.
Sunday the 9th: Harvest Pa-Brew-Za @ North End Organic Nursery in Garden City. Wine, beer, live music, chili cook-off, fall fun galore! 2-6pm, located @ 3777 W Chinden Blvd.
Thursday the 13th: Buy Idaho 30th Anniversary Celebration @ Boise Centre East. This event is free and open to the public – join in on the fun and peruse the tradeshow of Buy Idaho vendors (spoiler: We’re not the only winery). 11am – 6pm.
Thursday the 3rd: Downtown Boise First Thursday @ Marla Junes. Sip while you shop and make your Christmas wish list. And check out our latest(red) wine release: The Ambassador. Eyebrows up!5-8pm, located @ 811 W Bannock St, Boise.
All Saturdays: The Indoor Boise Farmers’ Market. The weather outside may be frightful but this indoor market is sure delightful. Buy Christmas gifts – two for you, one for them. You know the drill. Keep enjoying local breads, produce, cheeses, sauces, baked goods, jams, wine, coffee…all the important things, through December. Located @ the corner of 8th & Fulton St. 9am – 2pm.
Saturday the 3rd, 10th & 17th at the Indoor Boise Farmers’ Market (see above for address and times).
Every now and then I get the urge to lay some pictures on you. I know it’s hard for you to imagine me not running off at the fingers but I feel like October deserves less talk, more do. Less stress, more friends. Less complaining, more celebrating. Less quitting, more focus. Less depressing media, more pretty pictures. So I have those for you – the pictures, at least. It is no secret that my love for writing does not directly correlate to my photography skills. I once read that in order to have a blog everyone wants to read, you need damn good photos. *awkward moment of reflection* Looks like I’ll never be featured on Yahoo!
A little explanation about the pixels your eyes are about to dilate over: My winemaker and I have been up to a few things this month in the world of wine. We kicked off the month elbows-deep in grapes and peppers. We participated in the always-enjoyable Eagle Food & Wine Festival. From there we took a little write-off weekender with friends to Walla Walla wine country (Fact: My taste buds haven’t come home yet). Last but not least, we’ve got our annual Pumpkin Wine release coming up next weekend! What more appropriate way is there to wrap up your child’s trunk-or-treating excursion than with a bottle of festive vino? Wayyyyy better sugar high, folks.
Here’s October according to my camera:
2015 Grape and Pepper Harvest
Eagle Food and Wine Festival
This was our second year at this event. You can read my recap of our lovely first experience last year here. This year we were paired alongside Bardenay Eagle Restaurant and Chef Travis, who is definitely a culinary inspiration here in the valley.
This event is to-date my favorite because of the wonderful people who attend (foodies and winos are good people!) and because so many of the friendliest people we know in the wine industry also participate. It ends up feeling like a family gathering with the best food and wine in town.
To get your hands on tickets and keep tabs on the restaurant/winery line-up in 2016, visit eaglefoodandwine.com.
Walla Walla Wine Country
I don’t even know how to give this place enough credit. The charm, the scenery, the food, the bed and breakfasts, the red, RED wine. Wine so big and bold we could chew it. To me, that is a very welcome thing. I am already planning our next trip.
*Disclaimer: These photos don’t even begin to capture all of the wineries we went to nor do they sum up all of our favorites. They are photos I took either the first day before my wine-euphoria superseded everything else, or the second day before things got a liiiiittle uncoordinated (but still so, so good).
2015 Pumpkin Wine Release
This is a fun one, friends. If you get into the fall season at all you probably embrace the pumpkin theme as a backdrop for life right now. Our Pumpkin Wine runs with that. As with any vintage of wine, every year is completely different and it typically takes two years from start to bottle, plus a lot of extra steps (we roast every pumpkin before throwing them into fermentation). This year the result is a sweeter, spicier wine than last year’s (think clove and pumpkin pie spice, not hot sauce).
I’ve been waiting a couple weeks to write this post because while we unofficially released our Jalapeno Wine Lemonade Party Pouches at the farmers’ markets a couple weeks ago, we couldn’t call it official until our labels came in. You were first introduced to Lyle in this post where I shared the makings of the label with you and asked you to weigh in on his name. Well, here we are friends. Lyle is live!
Last Saturday was Lyle’s debut and let me tell you a little something about this learning curve thing – it’s a $#@!
We weren’t completely sure what the turn-out would be at the markets because of the long weekend. Do most people leave town? Or do they go downtown? You’d think we’d remember from our experience at The Boise Farmer’s Market last year but in all honesty…we barely remember last harvest (and the only reason we do is because when you practically get water-boarded with grape juice you never forget it).
So my winemaker and our favorite Booth Babe Tony (it’s a term of endearment at this point) prepped the lemonade the day before, as usual. Rest assured this is a weekly thing and the party pouches are indeed fresh when you buy them at the farmers’ markets and will last quite a while in the refrigerator or freezer. Although…WHY? No one puts Lyle in a box.
On Saturday morning we arrived at the markets fully equipped, or so we thought. Turns out the stormy day we were all promised was actually gorgeous and people were all about loving on some farmers’ markets. Lyle was flying off the tables.
We sold out of the party pouches by noon at both markets, but we still had samples to give out.
So although we ran out of the pouches (don’t worry, we’ll make more, it’s what we do) we were still able to give people a taste. Which meant we ended up telling them how to make their own. Which meant our bottles of Jalapeno Wine started to fly, too. Which takes us back to that learning curve thing. Our takeaway: When life gives you Jalapeno Wine Lemonade, you make more Jalapeno Wine Lemonade. It’s the Law of Alcohol and Demand.
And in case you are available and looking, here’s Lyle’s personal ad:
Things are getting warm over here, says the girl who took cold showers as a child and hyperventilated in the sauna once or twice. But in addition to the weather heating up, my winemaker and I did a fun thing last weekend. We kind of unexpectedly released a party in a bag.
Jalapeno Wine Lemonade, my friends! Turns out it’s a real thing and it’s a real delicious thing. We debuted the unlabeled “party pouches” at the farmer’s markets on Saturday and people came, people tasted, people left with pouches of parties. Spicy lemonade is what’s going on these days. It’s super fun to witness. But we need your thoughts, my friends. We’d love to get a label on our fun-bags and our multi-talented graphic designer/idea manufacturer extraordinaire is working on it. So far we’ve got this guy, what do you think?
By now most of you are familiar with Hal. Consider this lemon dude his sour step-sibling. Which brings up another item of business: We need a name! The winemaker likes Lyle. What do you think? I need you and your brains, please comment at the end of this post with your super catchy nominations!
So that’s what’s new on the winery front. Here’s what’s new with my inter-web findings for this installment of The Tuesday Tank. It seems the hidden “tracker-of-all-things-I-read-and-like” knows me pretty dang well. Well played, Big Brother. So I like wine, healthy yummy things, pretending I clean my house, laughing and thinking big thoughts in small doses. Was that really so challenging?
Only because I made them for Easter brunch with my family and only because they were GONE. Just gone. Even my bag-o’ chips-meal-replacement-loving brother said they were really good. BAM! I win. Find an excuse to make these. You’re welcome.
~ Why is doing anything for 30 days supposedly easier for us? It’s not. But I’m working on it… I’m taking the Spring Clean in 30 Challenge from Clean Mama, because I can do this. Can’t I? Okay…Spring Clean in 60 doesn’t sound as good but it may end up being my story. I mean…there are windows involved.
~ I’m not a wine snob, but I don’t like cheap wine and I don’t like over-priced wine. Does that just make me “normal?”… The Wine Economist (he’s kind of a big deal) reports that U.S. wine sales below about $9 “are stagnant or falling…with the largest percentage rise in the $20+ segment.” What does this mean for my winemaker and I? “The new normal will focus on wines that tell as good a story as other contemporary market products, such as craft beers and spirits and locally-sourced food products.” Um, not to prematurely celebrate or anything but…have you heard of jalapeno wine?
~ Remember that time you let your Tom Hanks infatuation lead you right to this 6-minute video? It’s your lucky day… Tom Hanks Reenacts All of His Films in Six Minutes. Once upon a time many moons ago, as a 20-year-old in New York City, I was in a group interview for a Victoria’s Secret Associate position and they asked every woman in the room who they’d have lunch with if they could only pick one person in the world. Everyone was choosing Vin Diesel. I chose Tom Hanks. Why? Becaaaaause shimmy shimmy cocoa puff!
~ I learned something about myself very soon after college – I am not a “seeker of resume virtues.” I am also not good at everything. This is my truth. Find yours… The New York Times Moral Bucket List. The sooner you figure it out, the happier you’ll be. Cheers to that.
I was recently selected to review some very high-tech probiotics for women. And by high-tech I mean super-fantastically engineered. This formula is made for women, by women, and specifically addresses women’s health issues (candida, chronic yeast or UTIs, all that non-fun stuff). You might be wondering why in the world I would want to review a probiotic. Let me tell you – I have the stomach of a seagull. The smallest detour from my normal eating habits can make me puff up like an over-Alka-Seltzer’ed beach bird. Is the picture painted? Great. So let’s talk about why I loved Hyperbiotics.
There are 6 Broad Spectrum Probiotic Strains, which basically means in addition to restoring the balance of healthy yeast and improved digestion, there’s some weight loss and reduced bloating benefits as well (especially if you’ve never taken probiotics before – your virgin system will be pushed into Go Mode).
There’s this D-Mannose thing. What you need to know about D-Mannose is that studies prove it helps 90% of UTIs within 1-2 days. Combine that with unsweetened whole cranberry juice, which is also in these super-power pills, and it’s money well spent.
Longer shelf life without refrigeration. If you’re like me, you’ve probably purchased probiotics and put them in your refrigerator where maybe they’ve stayed for months or even years. What you don’t realize is that if they need to be refrigerated it means they need to be used up as soon as possible. Woops!
These magic pills are time-released, so you only take one a day (you can take them more often for “intense repair”).
More protection. As in for your gastrointestinal tract. Apparently most probiotics we take only retain about 4% of their effectiveness by the time they pass through the wicked stomach environment. Hyperbiotics retain 60% effectiveness.
There was actually only one con for me, and that was outside of anyone’s control. My well-meaning son passed on a small stomach bug while I was just a couple days into trying these probiotics. I had to stop taking them momentarily so my stomach could come up for air and crackers. As soon as the bug was gone however, I started back up taking one a day. The instructions on the label suggest that for daily maintenance you only need to take one a day but for more intense repair you can take 2-3 capsules twice per day. I tried the latter and…no go for me. I’m telling you – it’s a seagull situation over here. If you’re like me start with one/day, it’ll do the trick!
I think it’s safe to say we’re all in detox mode this week. I rarely admit this, but I’m toning down my lush factor after my liver approached me to ask “who the hell do you think we are?” on Sunday evening after 4 nights of wine-a-palooza. So I’m back to my one glass/night max. But that’s not to say the Thanksgiving weekend wasn’t a total blast. We had our Red Friday Open House (get it? red wine? okay, I tried) the day after Thanksgiving where the Mulled Jalapeno Wine was a big hit. (I’ve been asked by a few of you to post the recipe, so see that below!) Then the next morning was Small Business Saturday at The Boise Farmer’s Market. Our schedule was jam-packed with equal parts business and fun evenings spent with family and friends. Sponsored by Lots’o Wine.
First, the event recap:
Check out my super-classy and chic signage.
At least one day you can all say that you remember us before we hit it rich, making our own student council signs and stuff. I saddled up with a nice bottle of Cabernet while drawing up this gem. Apparently a tannic, dry Cab goes really well with the biggest permanent black Sharpie a person can find.
We spent the morning of the event prepping and making sure we didn’t get in one another’s way. I seem to stink at that game. Nevertheless, we had a really great showing and met some new faces. We’re always thrilled when newbies stop by and aren’t turned off by our rugged headquarters. Most wine lovers in the area are really cool about the whole start-up scenario and can remember when many of the local wineries started small and were based out of commercial garages. We’re grateful for that attitude and love getting to meet other winos like-minded individuals who love wine and supporting small businesses! We’re lucky to live in the community we live in and have the support system we do (including really resourceful family members who know how to do things like hook up a sound system in an old garage and decorate flower pots with weird things I buy because in my head it should look pretty).
Von made Chipotle Jalapeno Wine pulled pork (amazing!) and my sister-in-law Amy made Chipotle Jalapeno Cookies for folks to snack on . As we started to wrap up the night we poured ourselves a glass of our 2012 Syrah that we were sampling that evening, which hasn’t officially been released yet because it’s been aging in the bottle. I love how every time we taste it, it gets even better. Why can’t leftovers be that way?
Later that night after we gave the kiddos a bath and they had gone to bed, we sat at our kitchen table with my parents and my mom and I shared a bottle of Rodney Strong Cabernet. Or at least that’s what I’m told. The next day Von asked me if I enjoyed the bottle of wine my mom and I had polished off and I looked at him like he was crazy. I mean, of course I remember drinking wine! And also, I don’t remember drinking all that wine…
But as all great Potter Wines events go: We came, we drank, we went to bed.
Now about this Mulled Jalapeno Wine biz:
Some of you have emailed me for the recipe and rightly so, as it is one fun way to ring in winter! If you use apple cider like I do, it won’t be overly sweet and I prefer it that way. You can make it sweeter if you want by adding honey until you’re satisfied, or use apple juice instead of cider. If you’re still in tailgating mode as many people around here were last weekend, this will be a big crowd pleaser! Or serve this at your holiday party to spice things up a notch.
Cheers to happy holidays, lots of vino and really, really good workouts to keep us honest!
As I type this we are awaiting the final label design of our pumpkin wine, which we release in just two short weeks at the Boise Farmer’s Market (and is already nearly sold out just from pre-orders). As I drove to the studio this morning, the hubby and I chatted on the phone over which design we liked best (our graphics designer presented us with two slightly different versions) and it turns out Von liked one while I preferred the other. So how do we decide? We take it to the masses.
Well, in this case he took it to his co-workers for their opinions and by the end of the day we’ll have a decision and our graphics guy will run with it. So this may be a moot point but I thought it’d be fun to see which design YOU all like best and you’ll see which one we chose very soon. Here are the two rough drafts (a few other small details will be added but this is pretty much the gist). Which do you like best and why?
Keep in mind this wine won’t be going on store shelves simply because it’s in very limited production – we only self-distribute it once a year via the farmer’s market and pre-orders off social media, our email list and word-of-mouth. In years to come we’ll have it temporarily available to purchase on our website every fall until it’s gone.
I’ve gotta say, designing wine labels is more complicated than I ever imagined before starting this business venture. I for one, have been known to buy a bottle of wine solely for the eye-catching label. If the juice inside the bottle disappoints me then I won’t buy it again but I’ll always try it at least once if the label is intriguing. Now that we have our own vino to label it’s our intent to have eye-catching packaging (with the exception of one we learned a lesson on) so that we can set ourselves apart from the rest AND deliver good juice. At some point though, you realize being different from everyone else essentially means you’re being just like everyone else, because everyone’s trying to be different these days. There’s a fine line to walk in this wine labeling business! So we go with what feels right to us, our vision and our winery, which we’ve designed to be pretty atypical from the start.
That being said, once you have a label you like it doesn’t stop there. You’ve got to make sure there’s even a label paper that fits the size you need (the labels for our 375mL jalapeno wine bottles have to be ordered smaller than our normal-size wine bottle labels, obviously), then you’ve got to make sure that size looks right on your bottle. Or maybe you don’t even want a traditional label. Maybe you want bottle etching. Then there’s the foil decision – do you leave the tops of your bottles “naked” or do you seal the cork with something? Do you customize that piece, as well? And if you know exactly what you want – can you afford it once it’s been designed, printed and shipped? Are people even going to like it after all that?
For someone who really just prefers to make decisions and stick to them – leaving very little room for gray area – sorting out all these small details is often my weakness so it helps knowing I’m not the sole decision maker. Von will often offer a new direction on a label and although at first I’ll have a hard time envisioning it because it’s not what I had in mind, I usually realize he’s onto something. It’s just helpful to have each other to bounce ideas off of and in the case of choosing a label, it’s nice to have some validation (or direction) from someone if you’re doubting your own taste.
So that’s what’s shaking on the wine front this week.
On the food front, I’ve had a super easy and super yummy snack recipe to share with you for a while so I’m finally going to do that today.
If you like chickpeas and you need a crunchy mid-day snack or even a side dish for dinner, this is your thing (it’s a quick thing):
Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
You should know there are recipes for crispy roasted chickpeas all over the Internet, so I can’t really site a source because I just kinda saw a mentioning of them somewhere (can’t remember where) and had a craving for them so I originally looked up a recipe (can’t remember where) and then went my own way once I realized this is about as difficult as turning on the oven and pouring some water. So here you go – easy chickpeasy.
2 cans garbanzo beans/chickpeas – You’ll want two cans because only using one is kidding yourself – don’t think you won’t eat the entire thing in 4 minutes.
Olive oil – I don’t know – a drizzle maybe? What’s a drizzle anyway – a tablespoon? Sure, go with that.
Any other spice you want. Cumin is good although I normally just use a small amount of sea salt and call it. If you use garlic you should wait until the beans come out of the oven before tossing it in or else it will burn. Burnt garlic makes me sad.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Drain and rinse the beans, then shake off as much excess water as you can. Lay the beans out on a few folded paper towels or a kitchen towel.
Lay more paper towels or another kitchen towel on top and press lightly to dry the beans as much as possible. Some people roll the beans around at this point in order to remove the thin layer of skin. I feel like this is totally unnecessary but do as you please.
Place the beans on a cookie sheet and drizzle your drizzle of oil over them. Then sprinkle your sea salt and other spice(s) as you like. Toss the beans around with a spatula so everyone is happy and covered with oil and spice (seriously, let’s keep this PG friends).
Roast them for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the beans are a golden brown. Don’t burn them because that will suck.
As if I have to tell you this, but you’ll want to consume these within 24-48 hours because they harden up the longer they are left out. The crunch factor is lovely with these but apparently too much crunch factor just tastes like chalk. It’s ok though because these won’t last in your kitchen longer than a few hours.
I feel like I’m trying to solve a rubix cube on a slip-n-slide these days! I see no sign of the crazy clearing anytime soon. In fact it’s just different stages of ongoing-craziness, would you agree? It’s messy and fun, frustrating and wonderful, brutal and rewarding. All. At. Once. I don’t care who you are, this wild-life thing is happening to you too, isn’t it?
For me right now this chaos, this gargantuous momentum-build, is a blended concoction of parenting, business ownership and grape harvest. That’s right, Riesling grapes are a-headed this way TODAY! Let the crush and hard labor reign! A few days from now our Syrah grapes will also be ready and our limbs will be purple for weeks to come. On top of these laborious days we’ve got wine events, the farmer’s market, the release of our pumpkin wine, label designs and peppers rolling in waiting to be processed. Between Von’s full-time city gig and my days at the studio, we’re trying to eek out some quality time with the kiddos and still eat dinner at home together. This weekend is also the FitOne fitness event here in Boise which the women in my family have been participating in for over a decade now, so there’s lots of fun going on and many of my favorite people in town for the 5K on Saturday.
There’s not enough coffee or hours in the day, my friends! This should all start slightly calming down around Halloween and then ramp back up in time for our Thanksgiving Open House event. And I won’t even get started on the (super exciting) projects we’ve got lined up to take place in the weeks before Christmas. Yes, I just said the ‘C’ word. Which brings me back to the point I wanted to segue into…
Right now it seems everyone’s back at the studio trying to get fit for the holidays or trying to stay fit to survive their own crazy lifestyle (because I do know I am certainly not alone in the juggling journey). So how are we expected to stay healthy, workout, and eat right through it all?
My own solution: You fit it in where you can. Hence the 15-Minutes-a-Day Challenge I posted a few weeks back. 15 minutes may not seem like enough to make a difference but when 15 minutes is all you’ve got it sure feels a helluva lot better to your body than nothing. As for the eating right aspect – the way we pull it off at our house is to get back to basics. This time of year there are no fancy dinners, a lot of soups, store-bought whole roasted chickens, fall-type salads, slow-cooker meals and we take advantage of the local in-season produce from the market as well as from our back yard (I’ve eaten so many cherry tomatoes lately I think I’m bleeding beta-carotene). Also, I make sure to get in a green smoothie or two every week to give myself peace of mind that I’m at least getting some vegetables and a big source of iron in my blood stream early on in the day.
So this post is two-fold today. I bring you my quick (22 minutes!) Treadmill HIIT Workout and a recipe for a Pumpkin Banana Smoothie!
For those who aren’t familiar with the super-easy concept of HIIT training, check this post out. If you’re new to green smoothies, don’t be scared. There are a lot of reasons why they rock and why I rely on them and one day I will perhaps write more on the benefits. But for right now all you need to know is this: Green smoothies are brilliance in a blender. For another fun recipe and to use up some of that basil you may still have left in your garden, trythis recipeI posted over a month ago!
First, the workout. It’s a mix of jogging, inclines, sprints and fast-walking hill climbs. It’s quick, it’s a boredom-buster and it’s effective.
Pumpkins are about to be everywhere, why not in your breakfast too? I embrace the pumpkin fever. Who knew pumpkin had the potential to start your day off right AND wine you down in the evenings (yep, we do both over here). This recipe is super simple because I was feeling like a smoothie purist when making it the other day. You can add in some of the optional things if you’d like, I just found it tasty and refreshing all on its own. By the way pumpkin and spinach are cleansing foods when eaten in raw form. So, uh, fair warning on that one…
Pumpkin Banana Smoothie Recipe
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup milk of your choice (I use unsweetened almond milk)
1 banana, frozen if you’ve got it but an unfrozen one will work too
Big handful baby spinach
1 to 2 tablespoons honey, pure maple syrup or brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 ice cubes, more if not using a frozen banana
Optional add-ins: Vanilla protein powder, pumpkin pie spice, coconut oil, flaxseed, chia seeds
Blend. Drink. Go.
What tips have you found work for you when trying to stay healthy whilst your life schedule has you barely remembering to brush your teeth?
Woohoo! Take a congratulatory lap, you’ve survived another Monday! Since it’s too early to drink wine to celebrate (says who?), instead I’m posting some random thoughts. So much randomness in this world, why not highlight a few bullet points?
That crazy earthquake in Napa
If you haven’t yet heard about it, Sunday morning a 6.0 magnitude quake hit Northern California and shook Napa Valley hard – so hard that unofficial reports say the valley could be looking at a $100 million economic loss. That’s a LOT of wine.
There was reportedly a barrel containing $16,000 of pinot noir that crashed to the floor. I’m a bit of a fair-weather pinot noir fan, but re-reading that last sentence makes my stomach hurt.
Check out this Washington Post article for more on the crazy quake that hit at a VERY unfortunate time, as wineries were gearing up for harvest (not that quakes ever hit on an appropriate occasion).
2. Bulu Box, anyone?
I’ve just discovered a little mail service over at Bulubox.com, which mails custom fitness and health goodies to you for $10/month. For those of you familiar with Birchbox or Nature Box, this is the same idea. I’m seriously contemplating signing up because #1 – I love trying new healthy goodies, and #2 – I crave variety in my fitness routine. My only reservation about this? Finding out after committing to a 3-month subscription that it’s loaded with supplements, which I’m not a fan of. I don’t even take a multi-vitamin anymore, let alone rely on any weight loss or fitness enhancing-pills. Has anyone out there tried this yet? Or should I just dive in completely and utterly unwarned?
3. Meal planning – questions and answers
I get a lot of questions from clients about meal planning and how to go about it. Here’s what I know: Sitting down for 10 minutes to plan out the majority of the week’s dinners will seriously save you time every day. I spend about 20 minutes on Sundays making a list of what to have for dinner all week and then writing a grocery list. Then off to the store we go.
I don’t plan every breakfast unless I have some mornings where I don’t have to rush (ha!). Breakfast is usually a green smoothie, oatmeal (overnight oats recipes are HUGE timesavers and scrumptious, more on that soon), or a Greek yogurt and fruit parfait.
Lunches are always leftovers from the night before because we purposefully cook twice as much as we need, unless we didn’t have enough (aka: the Luke monster ate it all) or had the occasional evening out, then it’s something thrown together if I’m at home (cherry tomato and cucumber salad with cottage cheese and avocado toast = happy woman), or a sandwich from Subway or Jimmy John’s if I’m at the studio or running errands. I really try not to spend money on lunch if I don’t have to.
Back to meal planning. I try to use whatever we already have on-hand so that what we buy at the store ends up being mostly fresh veggies. We’re lucky to have some freezer space so we always have lean beef, lamb (yes, this trainer mama eats lean red meat and LIKES it), chicken, some fish (it doesn’t freeze well as long as other proteins), and shrimp. Occasionally we’ll buy tofu to do a stir-fry or lean sausage to mix into pasta.
Here’s my takeaway tip: If you can think about having one protein, one green vegetable (even if only its leaves are green), and one healthy carbohydrate, you can get the job done. I typically give us one or two nights to play with depending on our schedules and I try to be flexible because there are often times where chaos gets more chaotic and dinner becomes totally impromptu.
For example, here’s what our dinners look like this week:
Sunday: Lamb chops, roasted carrots from the farmer’s market, 5-ingredient corn bread (If you’re going to indulge in corn bread make sure to read the ingredients list, many corn breads on the market have hydrogenated oils in them, which is trans fat.)
Monday: Grilled chicken breasts, kale salad (a family favorite – see this post for the recipe!), and quinoa made with chicken broth and garlic
Tuesday: Shrimp sautéed in jalapeno wine (so good!), soba noodles (Love these! Very quick and healthy!), sautéed spinach and roasted bell peppers
Wednesday: Grilled steak salad (with a boat load of chopped veggies) and grilled sweet potatoes
Thursday: Ground beef-stuffed acorn squash with wild rice
Saturday: Family in town, it could be anything, or it could be whatever we pick up from our fellow vendors at the Boise Farmer’s Market earlier that day.
As you can see, there’s nothing special here. Make it simple and as affordable as you need. Frozen veggies are great in a pinch. Some nights just clean out your fridge and have whatever leftovers you need to eat up. If your work week starts on Sunday, meal prep on Saturday or whichever day you have off. It saves a lot of time, headache, and money this way. Trust me!
Over the weekend Von needed to bottle wine and luckily we live just a few blocks from the winery so I laced up my running shoes, the kids hopped in the jogging stroller, and we hit the greenbelt to pay our winemaker a visit. There’s a playground on this route so it’s inevitable my kids beg to stop there on our way home. Thanks to teaching boot camp years ago and trying to help my mom clients find a way to fit in fitness while entertaining their kids, I have a few playground obstacle courses stored away in my noggin’ that make my kids happy and give me my fitness fix. Granted, it can be challenging to duck your way through playground equipment intended for miniature versions of you, but I find it’s a great way to get exercise and make your kids think you’re the coolest mom ever. Plus, it’s kind of the point for it to be challenging.
A couple ideas: Use the stairs for, well, running up and down the stairs. Use a high step for step-ups. Create a course for you and your kids to run through and it may or may not include the slide. Use any elevated surface for pushups, monkey bars for hanging and bringing your knees up toward your chest (core strength!), another step for tricep dips, lay on your back on the ground and place your feet on the bottom of a slide to do bridge-ups, do jumping jacks between exercises/obstacle course rounds, jump rope (you don’t actually need a rope), perform box jumps on and off a step or bottom of the slide…you get it? Check out the above video for some visuals. And in case you’re wondering, I no longer teach boot camp in the mornings. Now that I’m a mom I reserve that hour for arguing with small people and exercising my non-morning-person patience.
I recommend you save this one for a time when the playground isn’t swamped and you can play freely with your kids on the equipment without some judge-y Debbie Downer parent tsk-tsk’ing you for not paying attention to the sign that clearly points out adults are not permitted.
5. Being a winemaker’s wife
I’m sure many wives or husbands of winemakers are much more glamorous than I am. Honestly, I don’t do glamour well anyway. I’m too sweaty half the time and the other half I’m laughing too hard, talking too loud or cleaning the mashed-up banana off my shirt. But I find it suits our business well since much of our time is spent at the farmer’s market talking to people, laughing about the un-believability of jalapeno wine, and sometimes doing all that with our sweet holy terrors in tow.
Last Saturday I headed down to the market to our booth like every other Saturday, where Von was pouring our wines and chatting with everyone and I was so excited to see one of my most favorite friends on this Earth. She spotted me first and immediately cracked up at my ridiculousness – pushing two kids in TWO umbrella strollers (for every good idea I have, there are two bad ones) and trying to look as though I have my wits together. It’s moments like those that I truly appreciate good friends to laugh with me about how un-glamorous our lives can be amidst a bunch of hype about people doing glamorous things.
Sunday after Von bottled what will be our next super fun wine release, he brought home a bottle so I could taste it (and make a margarita out of it, of course). I love being able to taste wines straight from the barrel or just freshly bottled. It’s probably the opposite of glamorous, but in reality I think the most glamorous things happen when they are just left to be what they are.
Honestly, being a winemaker’s wife looks a whole lot like making business decisions after 9 pm, writing proof for labels during naptime, holding a kid in one arm while pouring wine samples with the other and holding the fort down at home while the winemaker does the heavy lifting.
Really it looks a lot like what every other parent on the planet is doing in some aspect or another. It’s completely unglamorous, a whole lot of work, and surprisingly rewarding.
I’m going to let you in on a little something you may not know and may be appalled to learn: Winemakers don’t wash their grapes.
Does that freak you out? You might want to get over it, or start favoring a different libation.
Last week there was a big to-do made in the media about how Trader Joe’s infamous wine, Two Buck Chuck, allegedly contains rodent blood and other miscellaneous nasties because the grapes they use to make the wine are harvested by huge machines that grab anything and everything, throw it all in a receptacle without sorting and make vino, essentially. In case you missed it, here’s the article that explains how the mess got started and what the owners had to say about it after this accusation was made:
I’m not saying I think Two Buck Chuck is as exceptional for the price as others believe it is. But certainly, if you like it and enjoy it, then drink it. I myself think you get what you pay for and sometimes that’s A-OK with me if I’m in a bind and need some vino, ANY vino, STAT. And furthermore, if you simply don’t like how wine tastes or a winery/winemaker’s ethics then those are good reasons not to drink the wine. But it’s not rodents that should keep you away (or even the stomping bare feet of strangers). The idea of wine having animal blood in it is ridiculous. But I realize that many people probably don’t know why it’s so ridiculous, especially if the fermentation process has never been explained to them. I certainly didn’t understand until Von started making wine years ago and I saw the process myself.
So I’m going to give you my version of how this all works. If you’d like a more scientific one, feel free to contact my husband or go Google crazy.
Grapes are harvested, sometimes by machines if it’s a major production winery and often by the hands of vineyard workers who can pick an insane amount of grapes in a couple hours. I know this because two years ago we chose to pick our own grapes from one of the vineyards we purchase from out in Sunnyslope and it took four of us adults and one toddler HOURS to get 1,000 pounds of grapes. The people out in the fields? They can knock that out in about an hour, I’m sure.
The grapes get to the winery, where we put them in the crusher/destemmer to sort through the stems and leaves and weed out all the junk (this would apply to rodents too, if you’re still hung up on those). We do NOT wash our grapes. I know that causes shock to some since we live in a world obsessed with sanitation yet we want our food fresh. We do see spiders, ear wigs, occasional wasps and other insects. Typically vineyards don’t use a lot of pesticides because pesticides can change the natural fermentation process. This is good news for you, the wine drinker, as well as the wine itself. The thing is, all that grapey bacteria – the must and flora and natural yeast – is stuff we want in the wine. Washing it off would be…dumb. Have you ever thought you’d like to see a winery who advertises that they have the cleanest wine? Me, I want my wine DIRTY.
After all that stuff is sorted out, we start making the good stuff. Depending on the varietal, some grapes will get pressed (or stomped) and tossed in with the skins, others will get pressed and the skins will be thrown out. No matter which way it goes, all will start the first phase of fermentation, which is a very active process because the yeast (both added and natural) works like wild fire. It’s so active that it needs open air to do its thing. It never gets old to see the thick cap of skins on wine when it’s fermenting the first few days. We “punch down” the cap of skins often so they can continue to mix with the yeast. This is fun for me, because I’m punching things with the knowledge that my punching will be rewarded later on with lots of glasses of liquid happiness.
The second phase is when the yeast calms down and does its hard work quietly, so it’s time to cover it. There’s more appropriate and more wine-sophisticated ways to say that but I don’t have those words for you.
Now here’s the important part, so pay attention: This 2-phase fermentation process, the one I just walked you through so eloquently? It is responsible for killing any crazy bacteria or virus that could possibly infect a human being.Wine is not a place for human diseases and, subsequently, it is not a place for animal blood. The yeast bacteria destroys any and all harmful pathogens during fermentation. While an occasional rodent may have been spotted at some point between the field and the destemmer (although we have yet to witness that ourselves), I assure you there’s not even a micro-trace of it anywhere in that bottle of wine you’re thinking about buying. There is only good, productive, and essential bacteria.
So now you know. And you’re feeling good about it, aren’t you? So drink up!