Traffic Calming:The Non-Potables

It is a phrase thrown round Austin frequently. The swell of construction, the influx of residents, the business of life all combine to form abysmal traffic conditions here. The irony is that the city’s reputation is that of a laid-back, fun-driven, everything is weird and wonderful place. Just don’t get on MoPac or I-35 if you want to protect the façade. We all want some traffic calming.

In the same way, this time of year is supposed to be filled with folly and family, nestling and nutcrackers, warmth and wassel. And yet, if you venture in certain corners of the commercial zone, you are more likely to get thrown and elbow than a smile. Christmas lists become sources of stress rather than wonder. Pinterest is the best thing to happen to Michaels and the worst thing to happen to room moms. The Grinch is no longer just a character from Dr. Suess. And we all understand why.

So our family works very hard to avoid much of the hub-bub. We limit the focus on gifts, protect our schedules, return to the reason we celebrate. But that doesn’t mean we don’t get caught in the mental-scuffle. The guilt, the “I shoulds”, still creep in. I had coffee with a friend whom I have not seen in too long. She has been incredibly busy trying to change education in Austin, no small task. She is a wise woman with a big heart. She asked, “Are there any ‘shoulds’  you can let go of?”

Yes, yes there are. One of the “shoulds” is trying create the perfect lede for each sample, the tie-in. It is ok to relieve the mental traffic jam in ways that aren’t ideal. I’ve been inspired, but I hit the brakes when I am reminded of the “‘shoulds.” So I’m taking a short-cut and sharing some  random samples. Today, the non-potables:

Vivajennz Wine Purse*

I love this idea and when I was approached, I had just come back from a camping trip. This would have been perfect for our casual hikes and kayaking afternoons. Now that we are back to “real-life” we haven’t been enjoying the great outdoors/wine combo as much as I’d like but when I do, I’ll be bringing this. A refillable bag, insulated, with room for cups for you and your friends. I chose the “Patrick” so my hubs could carry it for me. Perfect for Blues on the Green, the trails, anywhere where “public consumption” or glass is a no-no. And a portion of the sales support Autism research.

Wine Folly-The Essential Guide to Wine*

Fun info-graphics that make wine accessible to the novice and a quick-reference for your favorite wine aficionado. Includes guides for tasting, color-wheels with flavor profiles, pairings, and maps. Madeline Puckette has been bringing beauty to the wine blogs for years. Now find her collaboration with Justin Hammack on your coffee table or kindle.

Wild Drinks and Cocktails*

I really like this book. I always lean toward simple cocktails with natural ingredients. Herbs, infusions, your kitchen and garden can be a cocktail wonderland. I’ve never played with, what I thought were, the more complex shrubs and liqueurs but Emily Han’s book has encouraged me. Alcoholic or medicinal, teas and tinctures, inspiration abounds.

Tasting Wine and Cheese*

I wanted to love this book. I love wine. I love cheese. The organization by wine is nice, good tricks and tips. Adam Centamore obviously knows his cheese and wine. But, I am a bit critical of the edit. I know it is silly. I write a blog, for goodness sake. I often step outside the bounds of approved literary technique and conventional grammar. However, it is a blog, not a book. And I have a hard time with that many exclamation points in a published non-fiction work. It is a ridiculous criticism, but the former teacher in me just cringes. That said, I still love wine. I still love cheese. And I will still be referencing this book when combining.

Vinturi Spirits Aerator*

I have and use one for big reds that I want to drink right away. Sometimes patience is for the birds. But I don’t drink enough sipping spirits to even think of using the same technique to nudge them “open.”  My husband is the bourbon drinker so I thought I’d test it on him. Was it different? Yes. Was it worth investing in another contraption? Probably not. I think the point of sipping liquors is to slow down, swirl, taste the change as it happens. Others may feel differently, but I’m not sold.

Tomorrow, we will chat wine…

*{These items were sent as media samples. I received no other compensation. thoughts and opinions are my own.}






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Being a stay- at-home mom can leave one thirsting for a taste of the outside world, a world in which sentences are composed of more than three words. Being an educator means one is always seeking an opportunity to explore and learn. Being a woman with a need to connect can be a challenge when adult conversations are rare. In wine, I find the marriage of art and science, agriculture and storytelling provides limitless areas to explore. But it is the people that keep me engaged. The tenacity needed to keep the family dream alive, the risk to start anew, the trials and principles. I love the history of the vine, the impact of a season, the sentiment in the bottle. That is why I write. I write to tell their stories, to share a piece of mine. I write to learn as I teach others. I write to connect with new friends, to disconnect from the world. I write to celebrate what makes each of us unique, and that which ties us together.

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