Holiday gift idea round-up! (in case of procrastination)

Hi there!

I’m having one of those days where I’m randomly grouchy. Do you ever have those?

I woke up in a perfectly fine mood and nothing terrible has happened. It just came out of nowhere.

BahHumbugCat

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And, realizing I left my pre-workout shake in the car didn’t help!

Luckily, it’s like a refrigerator outside so I’m pretty sure I’m safe. I brought it in and stuck it in the work fridge anyway.

We finally got our 2015 desk calendars at work and I swapped out the 2014 one because I consistently need to look ahead when I’m setting cases and suddenly, I have 10,000 reasons I need to know dates in the last 2 weeks of December. I keep looking at January 2015 and getting all messed up. Sheesh.

Do you realize that Christmas is, like, a week away?

I can't even

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Raise your hand if you still have shopping to do.

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Are you still in need of gift ideas for some of your family or friends?

Welp, here’s a round-up of ideas that might help you!

25 Great Fitness Gifts and They’re All Under $25! – from Pop Sugar (I’ll take a Nature Box, please!)

10 Holiday Gift Ideas Under $50 (For People Who Like Food A Lot) – from Kylie at immaeatthat.com (um, hello, brownie mix. duh.)

Best Gifts Under $25 for Fitness Lovers – from Monica at runeatrepeat.com (love the Drop it like a Squat tank!)

20 Kickass Cheap Gift Ideas for Under $20 – from Huffington Post (check out that flavor infusing water bottle!!!)

and, of course, in case you missed it….

Holiday Gift Ideas under $50 for People Who Love Wine – from ME :)

So, check out these fancy little snowmen I made for my work holiday party!

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Pinterest success! :)

Talk to me: Have you ever experienced a Pinterest #fail? How bad/hilarious was it?

- jennifer

Sunday Food Prep – what went down in my kitchen (11)

Hello!

Can you believe it’s December 15th already?!

Only 10 more days until Christmas and 2 weeks until it’s 2015.

I can hardly believe it.

Man, this year has FLOWN by!

Of course, just because time flies and I’d like to grab onto it and slow it down doesn’t mean that I can shirk my chores and responsibilities.

Seriously, why isn’t there a loophole?

So, we got out in the yard and raked. So. Many. Leaves.

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But, we built a big pile for mulching for my garden in the spring (yay!) and we hauled in another few pounds of pecans.

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Did you know that the average pecan tree can yield 40 to 50 POUNDS of pecans?!

I should seriously set up a pecan stand. :)

In addition to all the raking, I also got some good food prep going.

I roasted a chicken in my crockpot and then made some homemade chicken stock.

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I should have ended up with 8 1-cup portions but I made a mess (oops!) and ended up with 7 1/2 cups. So, I distributed the remaining half among the 7 jars.

I also have some homemade beef stock going. We went to an evening farmer’s and craft market on Friday and I nabbed some marrow bones. On Saturday night, those bones, a T-Bone steak bone, and the leftover bones from a chuck roast all went into a crockpot and have been cooking ever since.

Thank goodness for 2 6-quart crockpots!

I made some quinoa, Lindsay’s Quinoa Breakfast Bars (YUM!!!), and roasted some sweet potatoes.

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Seriously, if you have not yet made those breakfast bars, you are totally missing out. I’m kinda addicted to them.

They’re so easy and so delicious! I like to put a little almond butter on mine and have it with a piece of fruit.  :)

Finally, I chopped up some carrots and red bell peppers for the week next two days. ;)

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I was wiped from doing the leaves but by the time 7pm came around, I was pretty pooped.

Ginny helped me feel better by being all warm and snuggly and cute on my lap.

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Talk to me: Have you had to rake a lot of leaves this Fall? Do you bag them, burn them, or reuse them as mulch? Any recipe ideas (not Pecan Pie) for all my pecans? :)

- jennifer

Wine Wednesday – 2010 JV Fleury Crozes Hermitage

Hello, hello!

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I recently learned that there was a Total Wine not too far from my house so I decided to check it out this past weekend.

I love the little wine market by my house but I know what they DON’T carry and I wanted to see what I could find at Total Wine.

It was okay. I wasn’t overly impressed with a lot of the selection but I’m a wine snob particular.

I did find a couple of bottles that interested me and I snapped them right up.

One of the cool things about stores like Total Wine and Corridor Wine Market (when we lived in Maryland) is that sometimes, they list the Wine Spectator score and give brief tasting notes.

One of the bottles I found was this Rhone that was rated at 90 points (out of 100).

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I thought it was a pretty great deal at $25!

And I love wines from the Rhone region. <3

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The interesting thing about this wine is it is not a blend. It is 100% Syrah.

Now, French Syrah is much, much different than a California Syrah or an Australian Shiraz.

It’s less “punch you in the face fruit” and more subtle, earthy, chewy spiciness.

This syrah had a lovely deep garnet hue and smelled of fruit and plums and earth. Mmmm…… :)

The tasting notes indicate ganache and espresso notes but my nose didn’t pick any of that. I guess the espresso was probably in the “earth” smell that I got. Think of how freshly ground coffee smells or maybe how the earth smells after a good rain. It’s clean and damp and … for lack of a better descriptor … earthy.

Wow. I should really brush up on my adjectives. ;)

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The tasting notes state “leaves a smoldering feel through the finish” and I would totally agree with that. It was full (of flavor), round (I could taste it in my whole mouth and not just on my tongue, a little chewy (like I really wanted to chew it!), and spicy when I swallowed.

It was pretty heavenly.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I <3 a good California Syrah and I never turn down a glass of wine from a Barossa Valley Shiraz (Australia) but this wine was something else.

It was complex and elegant and yet simple and very easy to drink.

We paired it with some sirloin steak tips (holy. delicious.) and roasted butternut squash.

I think you definitely want to pair this with red meats and hearty stews. You could do chicken but it should be hearty like Coq au Vin or even this stew (made this quite a few times. WORTH. IT.).

Talk to me: Have you ever tried a wine that surprised you? What’s your favorite recipe you’ve ever made from a Food Network chef?

- jennifer