Wining Wife®

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Month: August 2014 (page 1 of 2)

Messy Beautiful Love Book Launch

Love is easy.

Marriage is HARD!

There, I said it. Even in a good marriage, there will be times when you and your spouse are struggling to get along, when you have one thing after another coming at you from all ends of the spectrum, or when some hurdle comes up that causes a great deal of stress.

Love is not neat and orderly. You can’t put it in a box at the end of the day and expect it to stay in the same place. It grows and changes and shifts and…

You get the idea.

I was selected to be a reviewer and part of the book launch team for Messy Beautiful Love by Darlene Schacht. I’ve been reading the author, Darlene’s blog The Time-Warp Wife for a while and inspired by many of her posts on how to make a stronger marriage.

Yup, I’m old fashioned like that. I don’t talk a lot about my beliefs on here, but I do think that it’s important for us marrieds to make our marriage a priority in our lives. Yes, that means even when you have children. I have two. One is 16 and one is 8 1/2 months old. Marriage is still important!

In fact, the best way to stay together through the tough stuff is to stick together through the simple stuff. That means making your spouse a priority in your life. Yeah, it’s not easy in an age where work expects us to be on-call 24 hours a day, but it’s necessary. After all, tough stuff ends, kids grow up and move out, friends change jobs and situations, but at the end of the day, at the end of the season, at the end of the career, you have your spouse.

Enough of my soap box.

Messy Beautiful Love begins when things get messy. Financial problems, aging parents, a chronically unhappy spouse – all things that are beyond our individual control threaten to derail us on our quest for a long, happy, and healthy marriage if we let them. The book talks about surrendering your relationship to God, and waiting out the storm, while coming together as a couple. Look, it’s easy to be married in the honeymoon period. It’s considerably tougher when you wake up and realize that you’re in this lifeboat together, and what you do not only affects you, but it affects your spouse and your marriage.

The book talks about how it’s important to be your husband’s cheerleader – whether you’re with him or he’s out of sight. How many of us know that person in our group of friends who says awful things about her husband when he’s not around? I’ve written on why this sort of thing bothers me in the past. I don’t like husband bashing, and I don’t like it when people constantly husband bash. Isn’t this the person you stood next to and promised your love to? Religious or not, we owe our spouses our respect, love, and kindness.

In all, the book promises to be one that focuses on how to get through the tough times together – not just the easy times. You can pre-order it, and when you do, you’ll receive over $50 worth of free goodies.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received on having a long and healthy marriage? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Book Review: Hand of Chaos by J. Hamlet AND $50 Giftcard Giveaway! #ChaosTour

HOC Banner


In Hand of Chaos by J. Hamlet, we meet Anna Wei, a member of a kind of supernatural SWAT team. I have to say Hamlet does an outstanding job of creating a strong female lead – it’s definitely something to applaud. That’s not easy to do.

What think is great about this book is the weaving together of crime fiction and fantasy fiction, making the book fun, of courses, but also making it so that the story stands out to readers. Ethan, the antagonist, is also well-rounded. This is an important skill for writers to have, as making villains who read like cardboard cutouts can be an easy crutch for writers. I haven’t read a lot of books in the urban fantasy genre, so I found this a good introduction to it.

I’ve always been a fan of the X-Men. While this book is not about superheros, per sae, there is something about it that reminds me of the same spirit within the X-Men; And I think it’s because of the stark contrast. While in the X-Men universe, the mutants are seen as the enemies by the government, in Hand of Chaos, magic is freely embraced by the government.

There’s a bit of X-Files meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer going on here too. Anna works for a secret government agency where she has to take care of zombie-infested apartment complexes, necromancers, and undead hordes.

In all, this was an enjoyable book to read; it was a quick read. It will be fun to see what he does with the second book in the series.


Hand of chaosTitle: Hand of Chaos

Series: The Chaos Theology #1

Author: J. Hamlet

Publication Date: September 4, 2013

Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy



Exhausted, cynical, and confused, Anna is always there to report for duty. She’s part of a clandestine government team that defends the nation against supernatural terrorism—a job that understandably leaves her life in shambles and drives her to drink a little more than she should. Toss in a fear of intimacy with a desire to have friends and lovers like a normal person and, well, Anna is a troubled soul wrapped in a special agent with arcane, magical powers. Waking up hungover at five–­thirty in the morning with a zombie­–infested apartment building in the heart of DC to deal with, she knows she’s got the makings of the worst morning possible.

Her team is its own challenge. A battle­–scarred Nigerian shaman, a bookish shape­shifter, an inept summoner, and a brilliant but cantankerous wizard round it all out. Her partner, an immortal and cursed Paladin, is the only person she knows more jaded than herself. Getting them all to work together is never easy, with Anna often caught in the cross fire.

Their target, Ethan Morgan, is one pissed off necromancer. His brother was KIA by his own government, the victim of an experimental magical weapon they decided to test on the battlefield. Now bent on revenge and sponsored by one of hell’s most powerful demons, Ethan has a plan of his own to make us all pay. Anna and her team are fighting against the wake of destruction, but Ethan is always one step ahead. With the number of bodies he leaves and reanimates growing exponentially, Anna’s wondering if they’ll stop him before he engulfs everyone in an undead horde.








Buy Links

Amazon  |  Goodreads




Final Author pictureEveryone needs a hobby. And, like most people, I hope one day that my hobby will liberate me from my mind–­numbing day job. I chose writing. Not one of the easier ones. I chose it at the tender age of 14, churning out terrible science fiction novels that heaped on the cliches and barely hidden tropes of all space operas. Thankfully, those creations reside in the prison of an old Commodore 64 hard drive and several 3.5″ disks (kids, ask your parents) in a landfill somewhere. And, let me be clear, the world is better for it.

Along the way, I kept writing. Through college. Through grad school. Through the beginning of my career, such as it is. I like to believe I picked up skills. I wanted to write novels that had things I wanted to see. Hand of Chaos, my debut novel, brings together elements of a spy thriller and a police procedural with dark and urban fantasy. I followed that with Scarred Earth, a serial alien invasion novel I’m releasing entirely through tumblr. I’m probably going about this all wrong, but I don’t know any other way.

Social Media Links

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Pinterest  |  Tumblr




Giveaway: There is a giveaway for this tour. A $50 Amazon/B&N Giftcard or a Book Depository shopping spree of the same value.


Open Internationally. Ends 9/15. Void where prohibited.
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The Clipboard: Many Uses for This Overlooked Tool

English: A common clipboard.

English: A common clipboard. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of years ago, I “rediscovered” the clipboard. I found it in my old box of college junk. I don’t think I ever really used it in college, but I thought I would give it a second chance. I put it in my computer desk, and it just sat there unnoticed for another year. All of a sudden I found myself working a part-time job (in addition to my day-job of raising three young children), starting a MOMS Club, and creating a business from scratch. One day, I just picked it up when I needed to carry something around to make notes. That was the day my clipboard became my most indispensable tool.


Currently my clipboard contains the stuff of my life: my Menu Planner for October, my Menu Planner for September (for reference), my Weekly Planner for this week, my Weekly Planner for next week, my Halloween Party Planner for the get-together we are having at the end of the month, my notes on what I want to include on the agenda for my MOMS Club board meeting, a list of recommended books for the book club, an itinerary for last week’s houseguests, my Monthly Cleaning Schedule, a list of articles I’m planning to write, articles I’m editing for submission, and this article which I prefer to write freehand and then type into the computer later.


A clipboard doesn’t require holes to be punched in the paper it holds. Pages and notes can quickly and easily be added or removed. It is portable, sturdy, comes in a variety of colors, and has a handy spot for my pen when it is time to get to sleep. A clipboard allows my inner preschooler to manipulate pen and paper. I may go where electricity may not be found and give my eyes a rest from the bright lights of a computer screen. Surely a woman who needed to prepare her daughter’s birthday party between doing several loads of laundry and bathing her children was the original creator of the clipboard. Maybe she had a letter to her Kindergartener’s teacher to write while her 3-year-old played on the playground. It is highly likely that she had grocery lists, to-do lists, and Christmas card lists to compile while waiting in the Dentist’s office. That woman knew she needed a firm, dry (non-sticky) place to write that she could carry with her as she went from one task to the next. Mrs. Clipboard, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!




Jennifer Tankersley is the creator of ListPlanIt where you can find more than 500 printable lists, checklists, and planning pages to tote around on your clipboard and put your world in order.


Notes on Wines “And the Winner Is”

English: Concha y Toro 2005 Casillero del Diab...

English: Concha y Toro 2005 Casillero del Diablo Carmenère wine bottle and glass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As promised, here are notes on wines that we’ve tasted in the past, which never made it to the blog. Creekside Cellars has since closed (excuse me while I shed a tear), but the wines are definitely worth recommending. This tasting is from February, 2013.

1. Saint Hilaire – Brut Sparkling – Limoux, France – $15.00 – This sparkling white was very nice. It had a nutty, almond flavor, and hints of vanilla.

2. Boutari – Santorini-Assyrtiko 2010 – Cycladic Islands, Greece – $20.00 – If you haven’t had a lot of Greek wines, might I recommend them to you? They are crisp, have a mineral taste to them, and are quite nice. This one had notes of olive oil as well, and would pair very nicely with some of the lighter Mediterranean dishes and Greek salads. We really liked this one.

3. Leveroni – Chardonnay 2010 – Carneros, Sonoma – $16.00 – This wine was very nice (like the Boutari, it earned a star and two exclamation points, which means given unlimited resources, we’d add it to our cellar). It was dry yet buttery and lots of oak (but in a good way). It had all these qualities balanced with cloves. It was a really robust chardonnay. It would hold up well with my chicken Swedish meatballs recipe.

4. Belle Glos – “Meiomi” Pinot Noir 2011 – Monterey, Santa Barbara, & Sonoma Counties, California – $27.00 – This wine was very good. With the nose, we were concerned that it would be very rubbery. It’s funny how this wine developed. After the swirl, it had more of a wasabi nose, and upon tasting, it was filled with cloves, vanilla, and peppers. It did very well with the cheeses that had big flavors, and I’d definitely pair it with spicy food and foods with a lot of punch.

5. Kokomo – Zinfandel 2011 – Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma – $27.00 – this wine was decently good. We felt it tasted a lot like Hickman Family Vineyards’ Zinfandel, and given the choice, we preferred the Hickman wine over Kokomo’s.

6.  Perry Creek – “Altitude 2401” Petite Sirah 2009 – El Dorado County – $22.00 – This wine was also a star and one and a half exclamation points wine. It was high octane! It was very tannic, but it had a good fruit balance. This wine would pair well with comfort foods. The cheese plate we ordered had hush puppies, and it went very well with those.

7. Mitolo – “Jester” Shiraz 2010 – McLaren Vale, Australia – $22.00 – This wine was decently good. It had hints of mint, coffee, chocolate, and the tannins were noticeable.

8.  Concha Y Toro – “Marques de Casa Concha” Cabernet – Puento Alto, Chile – $ 24.00 – On the nose, we thought this wine would be too sweet and that it would be almost like plastic. On the taste, it was not bad; it went well with the hush puppies. It had an understated spice to it. It would be nice with spicy Mexican dishes.

We did not taste the d’Arenberg “Hermit Crab” because we’d previously had it, and enjoyed it very much. In fact, we have some in our cellar.

Have you tried any of these wines? Please share your thoughts about them in the comments section.

The Curvy Sewing Collective and Postpartum Wardrobe Planning

This sad little closet needs more clothes!

This sad little closet needs more clothes!

If you haven’t had a chance, you’ll want to cruise over to The Curvy Sewing Collective.  You’ll find inspiration as the site owners band women together to create more of a curvy sewing blogging community. While there, you can read my post, “Post-partum Wardrobe Planning for a Closet Full of Me-Made Clothes.” While I spoke on the blog here some about my plans to sew a complete wardrobe, you’ll find entries on how I went about the planning process over there. The other ladies are fabulous as well – you’ll want to check out some of the recent posts including:

I know that it’s helpful to see what sewing projects look like (and what problems to expect) on people of all different shapes and sizes – and not just the models the companies give us – when choosing which patterns I will purchase and what projects I will work on. It’s also a great way to build confidence – because hey, we all have different bodies, and that’s a good thing. How boring would the world be if we all looked the same?

Many of the bloggers over there are people I’ve been following for some time, so I’m happy to highly recommend the site – not just because I’m contributing there, but also because I think it is a quality place to spend time.


Wining Around the Web August 9th – Back to School

It’s time to get ready to send Tiger Boy back to school. I can’t believe he’ll be a high school sophomore this year. I have a lot of things I want to get done before the new school year starts, including finishing up the robe I began making him last year (I know, I know). Luckily, he’s only grown taller, so back to school shopping will consist of a few pairs of new pants, some paper, new shoes, and a few other things. Thank goodness! Back to school shopping can be expensive.

M6236This weekend, I want to finish the robe (McCall’s pattern 6236), done with a gray flannel from Joann’s fabrics. That way, I’ll be clearing out room for another sewing project – something I haven’t been working on for a year.

I have a bunch of wine tasting notes I’d like to get typed up and share with you. They’re older notes, but they’re still of interest. I found them while organizing my office last weekend.  Many of the notes are from tastings at Creekside Cellars, which closed earlier this year when the owners retired. That’s another task I’d like to finish – organizing the office/sewing room. I found this article on decluttering the sewing room by Cynthia Ewer a helpful guide for getting things organized. There are also some good ideas in this article about how to store items in the sewing room. I have to admit, though, that my office, my husband’s office, and the sewing and craft stuff all shares one room, so I’ll have to get super creative to get it all fitting in nice.

Purple Cafe & Wine Bar in Seattle

Purple Cafe & Wine Bar in Seattle

I just got the new issue of Wine Enthusiast in the mail, and this month’s issue had a list of the 100 top wine restaurants. There’s one near Seattle in Woodenville that I’d love to visit when we get up that way again – The Herbfarm. They serve a nine course dinner with six paired wines. It seems like it would be an amazing experience.  So, I’ve put that on my list of things to do when we travel that way. I think for now, I’ll put Restaurant Taste, in Plymouth, California, on my list of places to go. On Monday nights, they offer a 3 course prix fixe menu, and their selections look great. I was a bit surprised that Purple Cafe & Wine Bar in Seattle didn’t make the list. When we were there in 2012, they had a large selection of tasting flights, and their wine list was very impressive.

If you haven’t hopped over to the Curvy Sewing Collective, I’d recommend it. I’ll have my first article there posted on Monday.

Speaking of blogs and communities, 1 Wine Guy had a lot of things to say about the state of the wine blogging community in a recent post on his blog. I think he has some good points about how the wine blogging community needs to do a better job of coming together and talking about what works and what doesn’t.

In archeological news, it appears that a wine vessel believed to have belonged to Athenian statesman Pericles was unearthed. The cup was not varietal specific (or at least, archeologists didn’t believe it was). As a fan of classics and wine, I found it to be a neat find. It was broken into 12 pieces.

I now turn to you to ask a question. I have seen a ton of crafts out there that are geared for younger kids and for girls when it comes to heading back to school. I’ve been trying to find some neat things to make for a teenage boy – especially since I’ve been doing a lot of crafting for Baby Girl. If you have any ideas or links to share, please post them in the comments section.



Preparing Your Child for Back to School

Get organized before your children go back to school

Get organized before your children go back to school

As the first day of school approaches, parents and children alike begin to run the gamut of emotions: excitement, fear, anticipation, anxiety. For those who will be experiencing a child’s very first day of school, you may feel torn between the joy of leading your child through a momentous milestone and the sadness of knowing that your child is taking yet another step out from under your influence and protection. However, preparing your child for school can have the beneficial effects of soothing nerves and strengthening bonds. Here are a few ways to help you and your child transition easily into the next important step

Make a big deal out of gathering school supplies. Set aside time during the evening or weekend to focus on the needs of your student-to-be. If possible, arrange time alone to dig together through items you already have or to make a trip to a local store for a little back-to-school shopping.

  • Celebrate the last hurrah of summer. Choose your favorite summer activity and make a point to say goodbye until next summer. Take some pictures of your child in front of a recognizable object, such as a tree in the front yard or the swing set in the back yard for an opportunity to see the dramatic progress and growth from summer to summer.
  • Get into the academic mindset with an inspirational movie about life in school. There are flicks from every stage of learning. Talk about what you see in the movie that relates to students, teachers, homework, and school spirit.
  • Begin a few weeks early to adopt the routine of a school day. Help children get back into the habit of early wakeup and early bedtime. Add some more structure to the day by assigning an activity/reading time. Everyone grabs some type of reading material or workbook and works quietly on their own.
  • Give your child a proper sendoff. Whether it is a favorite activity, a party with family and friends, or a special dinner, let your child know how special each new stage of education is and how proud you are of his accomplishments

The start of the school year is a time to start fresh. Children wipe the slate clean of the previous year and begin anew. Communicate your expectations and offer your complete support as your child prepares to embark on her next great learning adventure.


Jennifer Tankersley is the creator of ListPlanIt where you can find over 400 lists and planning pages including a Back to School Planner, Homework Schedules, Calendars (all found in Student Planning) and many more.

Book Blast: Strangers at Sunset and Rafflecopter Giveaway


A vacation can be a killer…


Publication Date: June 30, 2014
Genre: Psychological Mystery/Thriller

A vacation can be a killer.

Dr. Kate Hampton, a respected psychiatrist, gathers with a group of strangers at her favorite travel spot, Sunset Villa in Jamaica. Included in the mix are friends of the owners, a businessman with dubious credentials, and a couple who won the trip from a TV game show.

It is January 2013, following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The luxury resort is struggling, not from the storm, but due to a scathing review from caustic travel writer, Matthew Kane. The owners have invited him back with hopes he will pen a more favorable review to restore their reputation.

Even though she is haunted by her own demons, Kate feels compelled to help. She sets out to discover the motivation behind Kane’s vitriol. Used to getting what he wants, has the reviewer met his match in Kate? Or has she met hers?

Stranger at Sunset is a slow-burning mystery/thriller as seen through the eyes of different narrators, each with their own murky sense of justice. As Kate’s own psychological past begins to unravel, a mysterious stranger at Sunset may be the only one who can save her.




Eden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to become a full-time writer. She incorporates many of her favorite things into her writing such as: travel; humor; music; poetry; art; and much more.

Stranger at Sunset is her first mystery novel, on the heels of several books of erotic anthologies and short stories. She writes in multiple genres.

An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop surrounded by books. She is an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often!

To stay apprised of Eden’s book-related news, please add your name to her mailing list.

WebsiteFacebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Pinterest
Enter to win two prize packs with digital copies of Eden’s books. The contest is open internationally, and it ends 8/15.



Chateau Ste. Michelle 2013 Syrah Rose

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2013 Syrah Rose

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2013 Syrah Rose

We belong to Chateau Ste. Michelle’s wine club. In our most recent shipment, were two wines. The 2011 Cold Creek Vineyard Syrah is in our cellar, and we’ll let that one age a bit. The 2013 Syrah Rose, was the wine we decided to have with our dinner. I served it with these summer squash pancakes with creamy goat cheese dressing. I served the pancakes with pancetta instead of the hot capicola Nutmeg Nanny recommended because I couldn’t find capicola! The pancakes were delicious, and so was the wine.

Summer squash pancakes with creamy goat cheese dressing

Summer squash pancakes with creamy goat cheese dressing

The wine was nice. It paired well with the meal. It was full-bodied, and had butter and bacon fat textures. It was quite green (naturally, it’s a 2013), and it would have been interesting to see where it went after cellaring for a couple of years. It had notes of oregano, white pepper, and roasted unseasoned bell pepper. It was smoky on the back end.

The winemaker’s notes said:

“This is a tale of collaboration. The red wine team pressed the grapes after a short time on skins for perfect color. The white team fermented most of the wine in stainless to retain the fruit and aromatics, then blended some barrel fermented wine for texture and complexity. The results are beautiful flavors of strawberry and raspberry with subtle smoky notes.”

In 2013, in the Columbia Valley, the summer got an early start for bud breaking, and the season was consistent and warm, which allowed the grapes to ripen nicely on the wine. They started harvesting the grapes in late August, and the harvesting season extended into November. The wines in this region produced during this time are said to be lovely and balanced, and after having the Syrah Rose, I could agree with that.

This is a great wine to pair with summer dishes. In fact, I found myself longing for backyard patio furniture so Wining Husband and I could sit out back and sip on the wine while dining al fresco. The wine would also be nice with lemon roasted chicken with a strawberry avocado salad or with the other meal we paired it with – black bean and sweet potato burgers with a side salad.

Have you tried the 2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle Syrah Rose? What did you think of it?

Butterick’s Fall 2014 Patterns Hits and Misses

The 2014 fall line for Butterick was released yesterday, and there are some great patterns, and there are some not so great patterns, and there’s even the “What were they thinking?” patterns.

Let’s start with the ones I will snatch up.


Butterick 6094 – the Patterns by Gertie dress. I love both views.B6094

And check out the back.


I’m also a big fan of the jackets in her line, Butterick 6086.

B6105Line Art

So I think I’ve found my winter date outfit.

I also like 6089. I have a dress pattern collecting problem. I’ll probably add this to the collection.


You can’t tell it from the styling on this next dress, 6090, but I love the seams. This will be on my must-make list. I already have ideas concerning fabric for this one.



I’m a fan of this jacket, 6104. I think it would be a good style for my figure, and do nice things for my waist.


Up until now, I’ve been unsure about peplum shirts. I think that 6097 has me convinced that I need to make one.



Something tells me I’ll pick this one up for future sewing for Little Miss. 6083


See and Sew 6080 finally gets the style of a dress I’ve been wanting to make for a while. I’m  excited about it.




Note: I think the fabric on the second view is hideous. I just had to clear up that concern for my taste.

I’m also a big fan of See & Sew 6079 – It would be a great little outfit for meeting clients.


The yawns include 6091, which reminds me of a trapeze style dress that was popular in the early 1990s. I guess with the comeback of flannel shirts, they had to bring the shapeless tent dress back as well.  I feel like I’ve seen 6111 a million times with different styling…I could be wrong. And 6099 is like a cross between a t-shirt and a husband’s shirt. Just saying.







But setting the yawns aside, I think there are some really masterful UGLY patterns this time around. I mean we have 6110, which says “I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’m trying to be avant garde…or something” with its lopsided styling. The lack of any shape really bugs me too.


Then there’s 6106, which screams “I got into my mom’s fabric stash and tried to make a jacket. Woah, jacket, dude.” I mean…the stripes don’t even line up, the shoulders are dumpy, and what is up with the hem line?


May I present to you 6098…for when you want to play dress up as a chef.


And then…there are the winners for ugliest pattern of the release.

For your consideration…

6093, which is so retro that my grandma’s grandma may have rolled her eyes at it… (Can we take a moment to appreciate the glory of the hair? It’s Bride of Frankenstein meets drunk housewife with a Valium hidden in her palm.)


…and 6108, which is the latest innovation in birth control.


I’m trying to understand these last two. I get that they are probably meant as costumes, but I’m thrown by them being part of Butterick’s “retro” collection. And the styling…oh dear the styling…

What did you think of the collection?

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