Raffaldini Vineyards

A few weekends ago my husband and I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon doing a wine and cheese tasting with some friends. One of our stops was Raffaldini. I have to say that this winery boasts the most beautiful view of any in the Yadkin Valley.

It’s likely quite a shock for first time visitors. You find yourself in what seems to be the middle of nowhere in a little corner of Wilkes County. You drive up a gravel road and at the end of it, an Italian villa awaits. You walk through a lovely garden pathway, pass a little fish pond and round the corner of the villa. There you catch a glimpse of the vineyard with a most stunning view of the mountains in the distance.

This vineyard is well-known for its wines as well its scenic views. They frequently have weddings here. Here are a few gorgeous shots from my friend Mary’s wedding.

And now, to the wines! Raffaldini is the only vineyard in our region that produces solely Italian style wines. On our last visit, our tasting host Mikaela described some of the unique processes that are used to produce the wines. The grapes used in the 2013 Montepulciano Riserva are dried slightly before being processed. This is called appassimento, Mikaela explained, and is meant to replicate the drier conditions these grapes actually grow in in Italy.

The Montepulciano Riserva was definitely one of my favorites as was their blend known as Bella Misto. Mikaela suggested pairing the Montepulciano Riserva with a dark chocolate.

Raffaldini boasts a wonderful patio area with fantastic view of the vineyard and mountains beyond. It is definitely a must see if you are planning a visit to the Yadkin Valley Wine Region.

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Wine tasting with a dear friend at Raffaldini a few summers ago.

 

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Cookbook Review: Man Made Meals

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BBQ Pork Burgers from the Man Made Cookbook

My husband’s birthday was last month and I got him a copy of Steven Raichlen’s cookbook called Man Made Meals. Truthfully this was a pretty self-serving present for me to give my husband as I will benefit greatly from it when I get to eat all the yummy stuff he makes.

We have already enjoyed two delicious recipes from the book. The first recipe Morgan tried was the BBQ Pork Burgers. Instead of using ground beef, these burgers are made from ground pork and bacon, topped with slaw and BBQ sauce. Morgan also made homemade sweet potato fries to accompany the burgers. It was delicious. Did I mention there’s bacon in it??? Yum!

This morning for breakfast, Morgan whipped up the drop biscuit recipe from Man Made Meals, to accompany our bacon gravy and cheesy scrambled eggs. Another big hit!

If you have a man (or anyone in your life) who enjoys cooking, I would highly recommend this book. It has tons of great recipes and tips on cooking and prepping techniques.

A lot of the “man” type cookbooks I’ve come across seem more geared toward men who don’t like to cook or know to cook. While this book does have plenty of tips on basic food prep, it also has some pretty advanced meals. I would definitely recommend this book for the person who really likes to cook.

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Drop biscuits from the Man Made Cookbook

Windsor Run Cellars

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Wine with friends at Windsor Run Cellars

At the risk of repeating myself and always saying how unique our Yadkin Valley wineries are, I just have to say Windsor Run Cellars is so unique. It is fantastic to live in an area with a plethora of wineries (and isn’t it always a good day when you get to use the word “plethora.”) But truly, what is so great about our wine region is that each winery really has its own style and personality.

Windsor Run Cellars is particularly  special as they are the only winery in the area (maybe even the state?) that is also a distillery. Not only can you taste wonderful wines here, you can also sample some brandies as well. I will admit that the fortified beverages are a bit too much for me, but it is still such a neat experience.

Last Sunday we visited Windsor Run during a cheese tasting event and we had such fun. They were serving up samples of a delicious bleu cheese from the Ashe County Cheese Company. 

Two of my favorite wines from Windsor Run are actually not wine-flavored at all. Windsor Run features several really unusual wines and one of those is actually an Apple Mead.They typically serve it chilled during the tasting, but they recommend serving it warm also, especially during the holidays. It is actually a fermented apple drink with spices like cinnamon and clove right in the mix. It literally tastes like autumn.

I found a new favorite while there this weekend. The name of the wine caught my attention immediately, it’s called Island Holiday. Our host for the tasting referred to it as the Jimmy Buffet of wines. I’m a huge parrot-head so I knew I had to try this one.

The nose on this wine (that means how it smells) is literally tanning lotion. That might be a problem for some, but not me. Just a whiff of this wine and it took me back to my teenage years sitting on the shore and coating myself down in Banana Boat or Hawaiian Tropic. I love that smell. I never thought I could drink that smell, but I can and I did and I bought a bottle to go! The wine is a Cabernet Franc blended with pineapple, mango and coconut.

This wine is a vacation in a bottle. This wine would be great to take on vacation, and also great if it’s the middle of winter and you are wishing you were on vacation somewhere tropical!

Another really special thing about all of the wineries in what is known as the Swan Creek region, is that they are smack dab in the middle of Amish Country. It is not unusual to see a horse and buggy going by. We saw just that as we were leaving on Sunday. It’s not a great picture because this guy was moving along at a pretty good clip, but I wanted to share it anyway.

Until next time, wine wishes and sparkly dreams from yours truly!

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A horse and buggy trots down the road near Windsor Run Cellars

 

 

Laurel Gray Vineyards

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Wine tasting fun with friends at Laurel Gray Vineyards

On Sunday my husband and I went wine and cheese tasting with friends and our first stop of the day was Laurel Gray Vineyards.

The vineyards of the Swan Creek area within the Yadkin Valley Wine Region hosted a joint wine and cheese pairing event featuring the Ashe County cheeses.

Laurel Gray is such a sweet little place. It’s a lovely little cottage surrounded by rose bushes and a duck pond. Of course, in early March those roses have yet to bloom, but it’s still a wonderful experience to sample wines there.

 

Do a Virtual wine tasting at Laurel Gray!

Though not typically a white wine drinker, I do love their Viognier and came home with a bottle. This is just a lovely light, crisp and clean wine that would be perfect for sipping on the front porch this summer.

All of the dry reds at Laurel Gray are extremely good as well. Perhaps one of the most unique wines they offer is called Encore. Encore is a dessert wine that is actually infused with black raspberries and chocolate! Need I say more?

Another thing I love about Laurel Gray is they have entire line of dips and sauces. As you do the wine tasting you are also given little samples of the dips and sauces to try. It really makes for such a neat experience.

If you’re ever in the Yadkin Valley Wine Region of North Carolina, I highly recommend a stop in at Laurel Gray Vineyards!

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Super cute tea towel at Laurel Gray Vineyards

A wine and cheese adventure

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A wine (and cheese) tasting adventure in the Yadkin Valley

I love where I live. One of the very best things about it is that we are right in the heart of the Yadkin Valley Wine Region. There are around 40 wineries within a 20-mile radius of my home, and many more that are practically in my back yard.

Wine tasting is a favorite weekend hobby of ours. Since my husband works at a winery now, we haven’t been out wine tasting quite as often. We were so thrilled, however, that we are able to go wine (and cheese tasting) with our friends Ben and Allison over the weekend.

The wineries of the Swan Creek Appellation often hosts group events and this past weekend it was a wine and cheese pairing. We visited five wineries in the Swan Creek area and each had a special cheese from the Ashe County Cheese Company paired with one of their wines.

It was a perfect sunny early spring day in the Yadkin Valley and an ideal day to spend sipping wine with friends. The cheeses were also wonderful. Our favorite, and one that Allison raved about the entire day, was a cheese called Juusto which is served warmed. It was delicious.

The wonderful thing about living in the Yadkin Valley Wine Region is that all of the wineries are so unique and special. I’ll be posting soon with more details of each winery we visited and our favorite wines.

To top of a most delightful day, we saw an amazing sunset. Check back soon for more on our adventures at the wineries!

The Liebster Award

liebster-awardI am honored and excited to have been nominated for a Liebster Award by the beautiful Bet over at Life According to Bet.

I often wonder if anyone ever even sees my blog, so to know people are seeing it and enjoying it, well, I’m just over the moon. I can’t thank you enough, Bet!

The Liebster Award is for new and smaller blogs to help them gain recognition within the blogging community. Each nominee then nominates 10 other blogs, so the award system creates a chain of great blogs for bloggers and blog lovers to check out. So here goes. . .

The Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated  you
  • Share the award on your blog
  • Answer the 11 questions you are asked
  • Nominate 10 new bloggers
  • Ask 11 new questions

My questions from Bet

  • What is a quote which you live by? – I have so many favorite quotes, but the one I try most to live by is from the Dalai Lama. We must never underestimate the power of kindess.  “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
  • The food which you can’t live without? – Hmm. . .bacon? I do love bacon. Also, home grown tomatoes.
  • If you had to live without two beauty products, what would the be? I never use primer, so I could definitely live without that. I probably could live without mascara also, as long as I have eyeliner still.
  • TV series which you would recommend? I love Death in Paradise, also Midsomer Murders, Murdoch Mysteries and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (all on Netflix in the U.S.)
  • Are you a morning or a night person and why? I’m really sort of a 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.kind of gal. Is that a thing?
  • Your dream travel destination. Anyway warm and tropical.
  • The nail polish color which suits you most? One of my favorites is from Butter London, called Tart with a Heart.
  • The item which you can’t live without? Probably my crystals and my wedding ring. I know, that’s two things. Sorry.
  • Your favorite cuisine? Being from the (American) South I guess I’d have to say just good ole southern favorites like fried chicken and biscuits and gravy, although I do love Indian cuisine, French and Italian as well.
  • Favorite way for you to chill out and relax? I’ve been trying to meditate some and I just started doing yoga, but I guess really my favorite way to chill out is just snuggling with my husband watching TV.

My blog nominees

  1. Jessica and Magnolia at Society of Moss and Lace
  2. Mary King at Orb of the Night
  3. Zeinab at ZeinabK
  4. Gigi at It’s a Sparkly Life
  5. Caitlyn at The Mrs Everything
  6. Melissa at The House of Plaidfuzz
  7. Jessica at This Season’s Gold
  8. Bri at The Hoodwitch
  9. Nicole at Life on Barrymore
  10. The Unwed Housewife

Some of the above nominees are folks I know personally and some are new blogs to me, but all have great content that I thoroughly enjoy. Congratulations blogger babes!

My questions for the nominees

  • What is your favorite childhood book or story?
  • What book(s) have you read lately that you love?
  • Tell me about the best meal you ever ate.
  • If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • What is the most useful tool for you in your spiritual life?
  • What household item can you not live without?
  • What is your guilty pleasure song?
  • What are some of your favorite non-blog websites?
  • What is your favorite social media site?
  • If you could meet any historical figure who would that be?
  • Do you like glitter?

I’m looking forward to reading your responses. Love to you all! And thanks again to Bet for nominating me!

The Liebster Award!!

I was honored and thrilled to be nominated for a Liebster award. My post with nominees will be coming shortly! Thanks, Bet!

lifeaccordingtobet

So, my blog got nominated for the Liebster Award By the lovely Aubre from Aubre Nicole! I was so flattered and loved that she chose to nominate me, let alone read what I gabble on about every week! And I can’t thank her enough. The Liebster Award is an award for new and smaller blog channels to gain recognition within the blogging community! And I have to nominate 10 new bloggers for you guys to go and check out too! Then those nominations have to do the same thing ect, so it’s a big long chain!

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Quickie essential oil tips

Make magic | The Lush's Blush blogI’m really new to the world of essential oils so I’m always on the lookout for easy and uncomplicated ways to use them. I recently ordered some oils from Edens Garden and they smell fantastic! Along with my order they sent a brochure with 150 ways to use essential oils.

Check out at a guest post from Lady Danni all about essential oil safety!

I admit reading through it at first I felt overwhelmed. There are so many uses for essential oils, it’s hard to know where to start.

I’m normally a pretty laid-back, easy going person, but I have been experiencing some stress these last few weeks which has been causing me some neck and shoulder pain. The first thing I was looking at for my essential oil use, was a way to combat stress.

One of the oils I ordered was a blend called Stress Relief. This citrus-forward scent is very uplifting and calming. It is a combination of bergamont, blood orange, grapefruit, patchouli and ylang ylang. In a 5 ml. bottle, I mixed four drops of this oil with a sweet almond carrier oil. I’ve been keeping the bottle in my pocket or purse and I dab a little on my hands and the back of my neck when I feel tension starting to creep in. My hands have been so dry lately, so this helps with that also. I’ve still been having pain occasionally, but not as intense and less often. I’m actually going to my first yoga class today, so I’m hoping that will help with my stress level as well.

The other oil creation I made over the weekend was a carpet refresher. My husband and I finally had to break down and a buy a new vacuum cleaner. Ours had been on its last leg for a while. I was in the mood to do some really good cleaning since we finally had a properly working vacuum. After vacuuming the entire house, I used the tips from the Edens Garden booklet to make a carpet freshener from essential oils and baking soda. Here’s how:

Carpet Refresher

Combine two tablespoons baking soda with 20 drops of an essential oil like lavender or Edens Garden’s Uplift blend. I used a fork to stir the oil and baking soda together. It ends up being a tad chunky if you don’t stir it up good. I let mine sit for a few minutes after mixing it up. Next, sprinkle the mixture over the carpet and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. The smell can be quite intense (it gave my husband a headache) so go into another room if you can during this time. After 15 or 20 minutes, vacuum it all up! The house smelled so good after I did this.

In the living room I used 20 drops of Uplift. In our music/meditation room  I used 20 drops of lavender. In the bedroom I used 15 drops lavender, 3 drops clary sage and 2 drops palo santo oil.

Do you have a favorite essential oil tip or recipe? I’d love to try it. Leave me a note in the comments!

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