Wining Wife®

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Tag: Thanksgiving

30 Days ‘Til Christmas – Procrastinating the Organized Way


*This post contains affiliate links. Should you click on one and make a purchase, I will receive compensation. That said, all opinions below are my own. I was using List Plan It’s services for years before I signed up to become an affiliate because I find them so valuable.*

It’s November 24th, and you know what that means? Yup, that’s right, there are only 30 days until Christmas. Even though I had *planned* to complete List Plan It’s 100 Days of Christmas, let’s just say that time got away from me. I love the idea of doing one action each day that leads to having a completely organized holiday season. In fact, for those who don’t know me, the Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years corridor is my favorite time of year.

Last year’s holiday season was…disorganized. I had a good excuse. I had an arrival I was waiting for, a very precious one. But half of Christmas didn’t happen until after Christmas. Oh and because my “focus” item was too much Candy Crush Saga, I wound up with Digeorge Syndrome and I was unable to cut out, much less sew, Baby Girl’s first Christmas dress (that’s okay, because I’m going to do it this year!)

People always ask me how it is I’m able to get so much done. I will tell you a secret – most of the time, it’s because I take the time to organize everything down to the minute details using the system outlined by David Allen in Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free ProductivityA huge part of my ability to be productive relies upon my ability to create meaningful lists and plans.

Enter 30 Days to Christmas Procrastinators EditionThis book allows me to sit down with a glass of wine at the end of the day, sit back, and plan out the things I need to do to launch an amazing holiday season. We all know that I’m going to go overboard and exhaust myself. I might as well do it in an organized fashion.

Every day contains something that needs to be done. For example, the first week starts off with setting a holiday budget (advice we can all use) and creating both wish lists and gift lists. Wouldn’t it be nice when people call to say “What do you want for Christmas?” If you had an answer?

Each day has a checklist of do-able tasks. There are also links to ListPlanIt tools to help you make even greater use of the book. If you’re a Black Friday shopper, plan for that. Purge children’s toys and organize their rooms in preparation for gifts they will receive.

Armed with this book, it’s easy to be completely organized for the upcoming holiday. There are even tools for planning Advent activities (And I WILL make an Advent calendar with family activities this year.)

The best part? The book is on sale for 50% off through November 28th. So you can get this awesome planning resource for only $4.

30 Days to Christmas
Begins Tomorrow!

Now until Black Friday, get 50% off

1) 30 Days to Christmas (just $4)

2) Annual Memberships (Basic less than $20 and Pro less than $40)

3) all ePlanners ($2.50 each!)

Use the following code in the checkout: BLACKFRIDAY50


Hurry before the offer expires!  Ends Friday, November 28 at midnight.

Share this great deal with your friends. . . 

California Delicious Wine Basket Review

California Delicious Gourmet Gift Baskets

Napa Valley Gourmet Red Wine Basket by California Delicious

Napa Valley Gourmet Red Wine Basket by California Delicious

*I was provided with a wine basket from California Delicious in exchange for an honest review. There may be affiliate links in this post. Should you click on one and make a purchase, you will be supporting this blog and I will receive monetary compensation. All opinions are my own.*

Recently, I was approached and asked whether I would be interested in writing a review on the wine and baskets produced at California Delicious. I chose to try the Napa Valley Red Wine Gourmet Gift Basket. When it arrived, I was very pleased with the packaging. As you can see to the right, it’s very aesthetically pleasing, and nicely arranged. The picture really doesn’t do it justice. There were little decorative grape bunches in the basket (I have plans for those), and the bow was really festive. It makes a really nice impression right from the get-go.

Upon opening the basket, we found two bottles of wine (a Pinot Noir and a Zinfandel), cheese spread, pretzels, spicy honey mustard, bruschetta, and Ghirardelli chocolates. We decided that we would try the wines with meals that followed snacking on the other items.

Now, it’s important to note, we do not generally eat processed foods in our house (in fact, I’ve even been on a candy-making kick after donating some homemade candy to our church bazaar recently.) We tried the cheese and bruchetta and the pretzels and hot sweet mustard. They are about what you would expect from a gift basket – the real highlight was the collection of Ghirardelli squares.

The wines were both decently good. The 2012 Regalo Valley Ranch Artist Series Pinot Noir had a musty and aromatic nose. We paired it with my spaghetti (1lb ground beef, 2 pounds tomatoes, 1 onion, 5-6 garlic cloves, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, a splash of red wine, and basil added at the end). It paired nicely, and it was an easy-drinking wine. It was very versatile as a light red wine. The flavor was light, very cherry. It was on the fruitier end of Pinot Noir wines, and it had a vanilla and berry finish. You could also pick up balsamic notes with a little bit of pepper. It’s a great wine for those who don’t drink a lot of wine or who don’t like heavy wines.

The Regalo Valley Ranch 2011 Artist Series Zinfandel was a light Zin. It was all grapes and berries, it was smoother and had more of a coffee flavor than some of the big cigar box Zins we’ve liked in the past. It had notes of vanilla and hazelnut as well as cinnamon and nutmeg. It was easy drinking, with very little heat on the back end. We paired it with a simple steak with a bleu cheese crust and baked potato, and it paired well that way.

The basket would make a very lovely gift for a friend or family member with a special event or celebration. The mild wines make it a nice gift for those who aren’t necessarily “wine aficionados,” but they have just enough complexity to appeal to those who are. The snacks are fun, and the chocolate – who doesn’t like chocolate?

California Delicious has a lot of different gourmet gift baskets that range in pricing. Some of the other baskets of interest include:

Champagne Gift Basket

The Giant All-Star Gift Basket ($59.99) – Do you know someone who is still celebrating the San Francisco Giants’ recent World Series win? This is the perfect gift basket for them.  It includes Giants-themed peanuts and Giants-labeled Mumm Sparkling Brut.

Noah's Ark Newborn Baby Gift Basket

Mickey Mouse Basket of Baby Boy SurprisesMinnie Mouse Basket of Baby Girl Surprisesand Noah’s Ark Baby Gift Basket (all $99.99 each) – These adorable baskets make great little gifts for the new arrival among your friends or family members. I have to say, they are pretty awesome. I’m loving the little stuffed animals in the Noah’s Ark basket.

Olive Oil and Fig Balsamic Gift Set

For Thanksgiving, if you can’t be with family or friends, you can let them know you are thinking of them. The Olive Oil and Fig Balsamic ($29.99) gift set would be a nice gesture for the gourmet in your life. The Classic Chardonnay Wine and Cheeseboard ($39.99) includes a gift the recipient can keep using (I didn’t mention this before, but I kept the basket – it makes a nice place to keep fruits from our CSA available for snacking). I also think the Fall Pumpkin Spice Serenity Spa ($59.99) is a great idea. How many people do you know love the PSL?

In all, I enjoy gift baskets. I received one when I graduated from my Master’s degree program many years ago, and I savored every moment.  It stood out as a gift for years, because it was pretty, I got to try some new products, and it felt like I was being spoiled.

Thanksgiving 2012

Ah the list of things I am thankful for – it’s that time of year again. I like to make sure I give credit where credit is due, and let’s face it, making gratitude lists don’t happen enough – this practice should happen on a regular basis. It’s good, though, that we do have a holiday during which it is common practice to express gratitude.

I begin my expression in a spiritual way, for I am a spiritual woman. I thank you, God, for

  1. God – because God is good, and I’m glad he is always looking out.
  2. My wonderful husband and son. Both of you are always there right when I need a smile – and in totally different ways. You guys keep me going, even when the chips are down. Wining Husband, you’re the most positive, optimistic person I’ve ever met, and I love you for that…and your laugh…definitely thankful for that. It’s freaking contagious. Tiger boy, your smile lights up a room. Literally. I think it has the power to bring the power back on in a black out. You two are both incredibly special to me, and I don’t know what I’d do without either one of you. Therefore, I intend to enjoy every moment I can with you.
  3. Friends and family far and near – I have a LOT of friends, while the number of close friends living far away from me far outweighs the number of friends living close by, that doesn’t make anyone any less special or important in my life. You guys have been a great and powerful force in my life, and I am so, so thankful for each and every one of you for reasons as diverse as the people you are.
  4. My beautiful home. Sure it’s not the cleanest or most organized place at the moment (um…Tom the Turkey kind of took over this week). But that doesn’t matter. I love the cherry floors, the warm walls, and most importantly the memories housed between the “four walls.” It’s definitely a great place to be and work.
  5. My 3 kitties. They make trouble. They can be nuts, but they also are always ready to curl up on your lap the moment you’re starting to feel a bit lonely in the world. It sounds goofy, but Stripes, Lady, and LuLu are great companions.
  6. My career – it’s been a rough year. Last year I was given advice never to go into business with friends. I know why now. That being said, I feel stronger and better than ever when it comes to knowing what I want out of my career. I love writing, I find joy in it, and I’m thankful to have projects to work on that are exciting and fun.
  7. Food – it nourishes the body. Like anything, in excess, it can make one sick, but in moderation, it can be amazing. We had an absolutely decadent Thanksgiving this year. That being said, none of us “stuffed” ourselves, and I’m happy to have the next little while off from cooking duty. Food is tasty, nutritious, and fun to share with loved ones.
  8. Wine – Tonight we started with d’Arenburg’s Hermit Crab with appetizers and our parsnip-apple soup, then moved on to Chateau Ste. Michelle‘s 2008 Ethos Chardonnay with the pasta and then the salad. The main course featured Antigal Uno 2009 Malbec. We plan on opening a port with dessert. Wine can enhance dishes like nothing else. It’s best when enjoyed in moderation, of course.
  9. Movies and old TV shows – there’s no better way to wind down at the end of  a long day (or a cooking marathon) than sitting down with family and enjoying a movie or a fun TV show. Except…
  10. Books – I love books. I love reading books, I love writing, I love editing books. I guess you can say I’m a bibliophile.
  11. Life and relative health – It’s good to be alive. I mean, it means I get to enjoy my family, friends, food, home, wine, etc. Additionally, even though I’m still dealing with quite a few issues from a reaction I had to a medication in March, it’s nice that we’re finally getting to the bottom of what works in terms of healing. I’m thankful for that.
  12. Health insurance. See 10
  13. My camera – it makes it so I can take lots and lots and lots of pictures of our life as it happens.
  14. My computers/technology – as much of a headache as these are, it’s nice to know that they allow me to communicate with others and run my business.
  15. The Internet – it’s great to be able to research foods that are local, in season, and organic. Plus, see number 13.
  16. The vast amount of knowledge available. Sometimes it can be small or overwhelming, but it’s always out there.
  17. Autumn – it’s my favorite season of the year.
  18. All of my clients. You guys rock. Seriously.
  19. Electricity. Without it, there wouldn’t be the lifestyle that we have today. It might look like the TV show Revolution it might look like S.M. Sterling’s Sci-Fi vision. Who knows, I’m just happy it exists.
  20. Sleep – I love sleep. Who doesn’t?
  21. Running – I love to run. It’s been too long since I’ve done a 5K. I’m looking forward to the next one – AND – to training for a 10K.
  22. The couch I currently sit on – because oh my goodness it’s comfortable.
  23. My readers – you guys are pretty cool for reading what I have to say.
  24. Shoes – and for that matter clothes – because, well, I have a bit of a problem lol…and even though I try to not be materialistic, I’m still pretty fabulous when it comes to these things…
  25. President Obama – Because things are getting better, economy wise. I can feel the hill climbing.

I could list so much more. So, so much more. What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Please post your thoughts in the comments section.

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Planning a Thanksgiving Menu

Ah, Thanksgiving. It’s Wining Husband’s favorite holiday. I rather like this holiday too. When it comes to planning our menu, we’re taking the following into account:

  • I believe it will just be the three of us – myself, Wining Husband, and the Tiger Boy, however, we would like to have the full turkey-day experience 😉

    Thanksgiving Turkey

    Thanksgiving Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • We want to use as many organic products and products from our CSA as possible
  • We want to have enough leftovers to make dinners and lunches so that we are able to relax for a little while as a family.
  • We want enough food if we wind up with last-minute stragglers

So far, we’ve come up with the following ideas for our menu (though, not all will be made):


Salad, Soup, and bread:

Turkey and Stuffing:



What’s on your menu for Thanksgiving? What do you plan to make? Post your thoughts below in the comments section.

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Things to be Thankful For



Gratitude (Photo credit: elycefeliz)


Theme Song: “The Middle” Jimmy Eat World


Projects of the Day: Articles, articles, and more articles followed by a fundraiser


I originally was going to do this post as something around Thanksgiving, but you know how things go…you get busy and those plans go by the wayside. It’s kind of funny, because the way things go sometimes, you wind up realizing that you should really count those things you’re thankful for. Having gratitude is not an easy endeavor, by any means. It requires that you’re able to see things as being able to be another way.


I have had quite a crazy 18 months. Very few things have gone through as planned, and my life at the end of 2011 is nothing like what I’d thought my life at the beginning of 2010 would look like. If you go back further, I would have had no clue, back when I left grad school in 2008 that I would wind up where I am now. I’m actually really thankful for that. I’ve always been a planner. If you’d asked me in 2007 what my life plan looked like, it would have been something like this (taken from a journal entry):


3 Most Pressing goals:


Get a Ph.D.


Turn out a decent, good kid


Get a good, tenure-track job


I’d wanted, 5 years from when I wrote that entry to have finished my Ph.D. (I was well on my way to doing so), have a tenure-track job in philosophy lined up, published a book and journal articles, and be well on my way to “happily ever after” in every sense of the phrase.


That didn’t happen. It turns out that leaving my Ph.D. program was on the horizon a little less than a year after I’d written out my goals. I left for a multitude of reasons, the most pressing at the time being emotional pressure from back home combined with a strong desire NOT to accrue debt greater than many homes in the city I was attending grad school in cost.


So I set out home, with a new five-year plan. I’d get a good job, working for a good company – maybe even teaching at the junior college level, even though the prospect of adjuncting was scary.


That didn’t happen. I sent out my resume to over 200 prospective employers over a two month period. You know how many interviews I got? Zilch. Not a single one. The most common response when I followed up with employers? “You’re overqualified.”


So, I had to adjust yet again. I decided if I couldn’t find a job, what I had to do was make my own job. What sort of niche could I fill? What kind of skills did I possess? In college and grad school, my friends always wanted my feedback on their papers. Even papers I wrote that didn’t quite make the arguments I wanted, received compliments on my writing style. Ever since I was a kid, I had been writing – so, that’s what I decided to do. Armed with a copy of Bob Bly’s Secrets of a Freelance Writer and enormous amounts of dedication, motivation, and resolve to make it work, I started my business. Within a couple weeks, I had my first clients.


Since then, my business has grown.  I didn’t publish a philosophy book, yet, but I did publish a book. I’ve written and published more than 1,000 articles – mostly on business management, finance, and technology. My son has aged and is coming into his own. I’ve moved around a bit. I became a runner. I became a better friend.  I found love in a close friend. For all this, I’m thankful, and while none of it was planned, it’s all certainly good stuff. While it’s great to have a game plan, it’s also important to be sure that you are open to what life might throw in your way!


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