Wine on a Leftovers Night

I like to cook.  I’m always coming up with new recipes when I’m bored.  I can make mac and cheese in about fifty different ways.  I love to experiment with flavors and wine pairings.  I find creativity in the kitchen both relaxing and rewarding. I also like to eat.  I find it really distressing that food has calories, particularly cake.  But that’s another post for another day.

During the week, I tend to cook meals that make leftovers.  I’m home all day, but Graham isn’t, so I don’t want to spend every night hanging out in the kitchen when I could be spending time with him.  Tonight, we had leftover pasta with sweet pea and basil pesto, roasted red peppers, and chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese.  Delicious, right?  But still leftovers.  So to jazz up our second-night pasta dinner, we opened a bottle of wine.  I’ve already mentioned my firm belief that wine has magical powers, and one of those powers is to make any meal just a little more special.  Even leftovers.

We decided on a rosé tonight, because it’s Spring and because the subtle sweetness and hint of pepper in the pesto sauce could handle a little bit of acidity in a wine.  Here’s the bottle we opened:

Sunset Hills Rose 1

Sunset Hills is a Virginia vineyard and winery located not far from Purcellville in a beautifully restored classic red barn.  The owners are lovely people, and the staff are always friendly.  The tasting room can handle a crowd.  Graham and I have been members there for a few years (it was the first wine club we joined!), so we’ve accumulated a lot of Sunset Hills wines.  This one might be my favorite.

I’d never seen rosé made from Cabernet Franc before we picked up this bottle. I love Cabernet Franc, and I think it does particularly well when grown in smoky, tobacco-y Virginia soil.  This is a fun wine.  It’s a delicate pink color, with just a little hint of copper – it looks gorgeous in a glass on a sunny day (not that today was sunny).  It has a delicate, floral nose with some subtle notes of strawberry and melon.  The best part, though, is that it’s delicious.  It’s not as bright or acidic as a classic rosé, and it’s not very sweet.  The Cabernet Franc doesn’t manifest as tobacco, or smoke, or green bell pepper.  It just gives the wine a roundness and a fullness, and even a meatiness, that you don’t find in an average rosé.  This wine is a study in balance – brightness with fullness, body with subtlety.  It’s a red drinker’s rosé…if you like a medium-bodied red.

Wednesdays are tough.  It’s the middle of the week, you’re starting to get tired of waking up early, and Friday still feels really far away.  Leftovers and wine are the best recommendations I have to make it just a little better.  Because like I said, wine has magical powers.

 

 

When It All Comes Out on the Page

I sat down to work on the novel yesterday.  It didn’t go well.  Sometimes, that’s just how writing is.

My parents came for a visit this weekend – it was lovely, and I plan to share details of our adventures once the photos are ready.  We spent most of our time out of the house driving around Loudoun County, and we introduced my mom and dad to a lot of our friends.  The wine was flowing Friday night and Saturday.  We ate, we drank, we sang (a lot).  We had fun.  By Monday morning, I was feeling pretty tired.  Exhausted.  Drained, even.

I woke up Monday wondering if, sometime during the wine-drinking, the eating, and/or the singing, I’d made a fool of myself.  Was I attentive enough to my parents?  Was I friendly and talkative?  Was I rude?  Did I say the wrong thing?  This kind of post-social anxiety happens to me a lot, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that.  Usually, I’ll have a cup of coffee and a bite of chocolate and let the feeling pass.  But on Monday, all of that anxious energy made its way onto the page as I tried to write.

I’m not that far along in my novel yet, and the scenes I was working on yesterday weren’t critical.  It was discouraging, though, to find my own insecurities infecting my characters.  It was hard to see my own worries make their way into the action.  They didn’t belong there.  So I stopped.  I put the laptop down.  I folded some laundry, made the bed, fed the dog, and checked my email.  When I picked the laptop back up, I still couldn’t focus.  Yesterday, as it turned out, was not a productive writing day.

And that’s okay.  It’s really, really okay.  I’ve heard a lot of writers talk about writing:  “Not in the zone today?  Too bad – put some words on that page and move on.”  I think that’s a good practice.  But sometimes, you just can’t.  Sometimes, you need to take some time to get over whatever mental hurdle is in your way. When you write, at the end of the day, the words on the page are your words, and the story is your story.  When you write, your work is you, and that’s scary and exhilarating and intoxicating and magic.  It also means that you have to take care of yourself.  You have to get yourself to a place where the words flow, and the characters aren’t portraits of your own insecurities, and the action isn’t a collection of your own problems.  Unless, of course, that’s the kind of book you’re writing, and that’s fine too.

It’s not easy, sometimes, to get to that place.  That’s just how writing is.  I didn’t make it yesterday.  I barely made it today.  And that’s okay.  As long as I keep putting words on the page, as long as I don’t give up, that’s okay.

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What I’m Reading This Week

I started my morning today with Kurt Vonnegut and a cup of coffee.  I’ve been a fan of Kurt Vonnegut since high school.  I cried the night he passed away.  I think he wrote about the world in a way that was true enough to be illuminating, but gentle (and funny) enough to be palatable.  A modern Mark Twain.  So I was excited when I heard that a book of his personal letters would be published, and I’ve been reading it, and taking my time with it, this week.

Titled just Letters, the collection is vivid Vonnegut.  Witty, self-deprecating, and sarcastic, but also kind and insightful.  There are introductions and notes throughout the book by Dan Wakefield, who knew Vonnegut personally, that provide context, and it’s so fun to read Vonnegut’s thoughts on his books while they were in progress.  He spends time on other topics, as well (politics and world events, his family and friends, his career), though I’ve enjoyed his thoughts on writing the most.  He was as sharp in his personal letters as he was in his published works.

Reading Letters this week, I now firmly believe people don’t write enough anymore.  The truth is, I was appalled when I learned that “tl;dr” was a thing.  What do you mean, “too long; didn’t read?”  If you took the time to write something for me to read, then I’d read it, because that’s what respectful people do.  And if I wrote something for you to read, I would be careful to say only what I needed to say, because that’s what good writers do.  William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White told me so.

What I’m getting at here is that writing is important.  Writing, even just letters to family and friends, helps you find your voice.  Once you’ve found it, you’ll feel comfortable and confident expressing what you have to say.  It’s true that everyone has an opinion, but if you can express yours coherently, persuasively, and ultimately in a voice that is true to who you are, you’ll rise above the noise and you’ll be heard.  Finding your voice gives you power.  So do it!  Write notes on napkins.  Write a few quick lines about your day before you crawl into bed.  Write a letter to your mom – I’m serious, Mother’s Day is coming up.

Or, if you’re crazy like me, write a novel that keeps you awake at night like a screaming baby.

 

Tonight’s Wine Selection

Those who know me, know that I like wine.  A lot.  I wasn’t a wine drinker until I met Graham, my Hampton Roads husband, and our marriage has become a kind of wine adventure.  Living in Loudoun County, you can’t really help it.  When I told some of my friends that I was thinking of starting a blog, they suggested (nay, requested)  (nay, insisted) that I include some posts about wine.  This is not a struggle for me, and I’m happy to oblige, because I think that wine has magical powers.  No, really, hear me out on this one.

Wine inspires.  And I think it’s because wine, like food and music and stories, transcends culture and language.  It brings people together.  I’ve made more than a few good friends over a glass of wine.  During our honeymoon in France, it was okay that I couldn’t actually talk to anyone about the wines that I was tasting, because everyone just understood.  A good glass of wine, or a bad one, needs no words.  But it sure is fun to talk about it. Which brings me to the real meat of this post.

To me, Spring is rosé season.  When the weather starts getting warm, and I see blossoms everywhere, I crave the bright crispness, and, because I’m me, the pretty-in-pink color of a nice glass of rosé.  So tonight, I suggested we open a bottle of Lost Creek 2014 Tranquility.  Lost Creek is a local Loudoun County vineyard and winery, and full disclosure, Graham and I are members of their wine club.  It’s a fantastic place to spend quiet time on a sunny weekend afternoon – the tasting room and grounds are lovely, and the staff and owners are too.

Here’s the bottle we opened tonight:

Lost Creek Frontlit Medium

Tranquility is what I would consider a classic rosé.  A little bit coppery in color, with a delicate nose of strawberry and a hint of citrus fruits.  It tastes of strawberries, too, with mild acidity, and not too sweet.  For die-hard white wine drinkers, I think it would be a nice foray into a more colorful world.  Lovers of rosé (I include myself in this group) won’t be disappointed.

I’m enjoying a glass as I type, and I’m a little sad I have to share the bottle with the handsome husband, though I’m sure I’ll be grateful tomorrow morning.

 

I Made a Decision

The day I left my job, it was like the flood gates opened.  But perhaps I should rewind.

My name is Katie.  This is me:

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Reader.  Writer.  Singer.  Wine drinker.  Really good cook (I think…I hope).  Sufferer of wanderlust.  Lover of all things life.  I like yoga pants, pasta, sunny days, and cats.  I don’t like waking up early, or that food has calories.

I’ve lived in Virginia my whole life.  I grew up in coal country, went to college in Roanoke, married a man from Hampton Roads, and moved to Northern Virginia in my mid-twenties.  I’m now a resident of beautiful Loudoun County, home to wineries, horses, barbecue joints, and a host of interesting, kind people who, like me, don’t really care for the hustle and traffic of the city.

After several years working in Human Resources – an excellent career path for people made of stronger stuff than I – I made the craziest decision I think I’ve ever made (decisions made under the influence of love or alcohol don’t really count, I think), and I left my full-time job to work on a novel I’ve been trying to write for longer than I care to admit.

The day I said goodbye to my wonderful coworkers and pulled out of the parking garage in Arlington for the last time, I felt terror.  The kind of terror that comes with major life choices.  What the h*ll did I just do?  Am I going to regret this in a month?  Will this decision have reverberating consequences for several generations to come in my family?  Okay, that last one is probably just me being weird, but I think others can sympathize with the anxiety around this decision, and the fear and doubt once reality set in and I realized I’d have no guaranteed income.

But, driving home, the last time I would have to commute an hour and a half one way, I started to feel relief, and then excitement.  This decision was mine.  I owned it.  And it meant freedom.  Freedom and time to write my novel, time to travel and see the world, time to sit down and play chess with my husband, and make dinner at night and do laundry on a regular basis and walk the dog.  And maybe even start a blog and look into freelancing again, something I really enjoyed right out of college.  When I started to move past the anxiety, I realized I was moving towards inspiration.  And it felt so good to be inspired and excited.  I started to write more, and to sing more, and to cook more, and to get out and explore the beautiful area where I live.

So, here I am.  I’ve made a plan to explore, meet people, eat food, taste wine, read books, and generally just enjoy my life in what I consider the best state in the country (don’t argue!).  I’m on my way to writing my novel.  And I’ve created this blog, so that my family and friends can share my journey into author-land.