Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bogle Vineyards - Essential Red 2009

I picked up this bottle from one of my favorite wine shops recently. It was very inexpensive, about $9, so on a random Thursday night I felt no guilt about opening it all by myself. I'm not sure if I got a bad bottle, let it sit too long (although I only purchased it 1-2 months ago), or what happened, but this was not at all as described. I thought it was way too sweet with no depth. I guess this would be a good intro wine for those who like sweet whites and have yet to venture into the world of reds. Although honestly, I would recommend the Side Yard Sweet Red (also a bargain at $8-9) over this one.

I salvaged the wine by making it into sangria but I definitely will not purchase this again.

Gone Girl

No I haven't run away. Gone Girl is a thriller by Jillian Flynn. Normally I wouldn't even go near the thriller section in the bookstore let alone purchase something from it, but after all three of my book clubs chose this book in November (and after an informal Facebook poll of my friends who had read it for a read on scariness) I picked myself up a copy.

When I say that I could not not put it down, that is the understatement of the century. I walked to work with my nose in the book. I read it on the bus, on my lunch break, and at night until I fell asleep with it on my chest. It only took me 2 days to finish. It was AMAZING.

Seriously, it's amazing. I don't want to give it away, you have to read it. At first I thought it was a who-done it, then a why-done it, and then back to a who-done it. Flynn toys with your emotions like a yo-yo, making you believe whatever she wants, only to throw it back in your face and laugh at your stupidity.

This book is about much more than a missing woman. It's about who we are as people. It's about what tears relationships apart. It's about manipulation. It's about how well you know someone even when you think you know everything there is to know.

If you want the spoiler ask and I'll tell you, but I think you'll be depriving yourself of a great read.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Reading your way through relationships

I'm back! After a bit of a hiatus, I'm pleased to return to the blogging world. I've been doing more reading lately, but just in case work gets crazy again, I'm going to open up the topics on this blog to my other favorite subject: alcohol. Wait, that doesn't sound so classy. I'll try to limit myself to wine, but I guess I can't help if my favorite bourbon cocktail of the week sneaks in.

Sometime this weekend I'll get around to reviewing the handful of books I've read over the past few months. In the meantime, an interesting conversation today at work sparked some thoughts that I'll share with you all in hopes of getting some good suggestions.

When I was single, people were constantly suggesting interesting, helpful, and sometimes unintentionally hilarious books on dating. Since I've left the world of painfully awkward and flat out bad dates, no one has suggested any relationship books for me to read.

Are there any good relationship guides out there? Maybe one called, "How to make an important life decision about where to live with your significant other: balancing job offers,  families, and cost of living." 'Cause I'm looking for that one...

Monday, January 2, 2012

After-Shock by Robert Reich

Here is how I feel about this book after just 5 pages: if you cannot be bothered to spellcheck your book, I cannot be bothered to read it. This one is going in the reject pile.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Twitter style

It's time to update but frankly I just don't have the time or energy to write a full blog post. So why not take a cue from Twitter? Today's reviews will be written in 140 characters or less.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
- Awful with a side of awkwardness. Ignatius: certifiably crazy and unlikable, his behavior erratic, and the ending implausible. What a joke.

Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver
- Custody battle between mom and Cherokee nation over 6 year-old. Good but unemotional. Too many names, not enough heart. Who was that again?

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I would like to begin this post by saying I am reading an actual book! Nothing like 2 hours to kill waiting for jury duty... so, coming next week: a review of Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces.

In the meantime, I have decided to blog about something else completely unrelated: packing. Traveling has become a semi-regular part of my life that I am still trying to figure out. In the beginning I struggled most with the 3-1-1 liquid rule, and feeling like I have finally mastered that, I've decided to post my tips. (Now, I just need to figure out how to bring only 1 pair of shoes...)

Here is Rachel's guide to getting through security with everything you need.

#1. Almost all hotels offer the basics like soap, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. You don't need to bring any of those things and most of these items can be re-purposed!

What else is shampoo good for? Instant laundry. While that free hotel soap might leave little white flecks all over your black undies, shampoo is clear. Fill your sink and voila!

Conditioner makes pretty good shaving cream and can also be applied to your ends as hair product if you're prone to dry hair, frizzies, etc...

If the thought of going without body wash makes your skin itch, (soap can be pretty drying), after suddsing up, apply lotion liberally (standing away from the direct flow of water) and wait about a minute. Rinse and enjoy your non-dry skin. You can always put more lotion on again out of the shower.

#2. Your deodorant? Not a liquid. If you use the gel kind, I think you can switch to a solid for 2 days of your life.

#3. Facewash? Not needed. Face cleansing wipes are also not considered liquids. I like the foaming ones from Olay, but Ponds, Neutrogena, and probably every other skincare brand offer them too.

#4. Perfume. Department store makeup counters frequently give out little tiny samples of perfume as a gift with purchase. You can also buy them from Sephora, Amazon, and online perfume sites for about $2 each.

#5. When it comes to haircare, a straightening iron is your best friend. No liquids required. Also, no matter how bad your morning hair a bun will usually hide the worst of it. Stash some bobby pins in your bag and you're good to go.

#6. There's no substitute for toothpaste. It's important to know that you cannot bring a larger size toothpaste tube that only has 3oz remaining. Why this is, I have no idea.
Fortunately, travel sizes are widely available. If you're cheap, the best place to get these for free is your dentist! He or she will be delighted that you are taking such an active interest in your oral hygiene. Alternatively, if you and your coworkers all do a lot of business travel, your company might be willing to spring for a bulk box.

#7. Makeup
- Tinted moisturizer is like face lotion, sunscreen, and light foundation all-in-one. Pretty much every drugstore and department store brand makes one and all of the ones I've seen are 3oz or less.
- Mascara might be a liquid, but I have yet to be stopped at security for going through with it in my purse. If you're a stickler for rules, try one with a skinnier tube so it takes up less room in your bag.
- Chapstick, lipstick, and eyeliner aren't liquids. (Unless you use liquid eyeliner...I'm not that skilled/steady handed.)

And finally, if you must have your (insert product you can't live without here), you can order travel sizes of pretty much any product online. Here are my two favorite sites (and before you ask my blog is not nearly popular enough to have paid advertisers): which carries the usual brands you'd find a store and some more upscale brands, and which only carries fancy brands.

Happy travels!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Does a cookbook count?

I still haven't been doing any actual book reading. This is mainly due to not having a lot of time, and also that I don't have a library card in my new city. Instead of entertaining you all with another chapter from my trashy romance novel, (I know, my readers are dying to know what happens to Theo...) I thought I would share a little culinary adventure I had with The Barefoot Contessa cookbook.

Yesterday I had about 14 people over for brunch and of course turned to my collection of Barefoot Contessa cookbooks to help me figure out what to make. A recipe for potato basil frittata caught my eye, mainly because it contains Gruyere, which is one of my favorite cheeses. You can find the recipe here:


  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 cups peeled and 1/2-inch diced boiling potatoes (4 potatoes)
  • 8 extra-large eggs
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 pound Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder


Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a 10-inch ovenproof omelet pan over medium-low heat. Add the potatoes and fry them until cooked through, turning often, about 10 to 15 minutes. Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter in a small dish in the microwave.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, then stir in the ricotta, Gruyere, melted butter, salt, pepper, and basil. Sprinkle on the flour and baking powder and stir into the egg mixture.
Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes and place the pan in the center of the oven. Bake the frittata until it is browned and puffed, 50 minutes to 1 hour. It will be rounded and firm in the middle and a knife inserted in the frittata should come out clean. Serve hot.

I did exactly as the recipe said except that I had mistakenly purchased large eggs instead of extra large eggs. Not knowing the conversion from large to extra large, I put in 10 which seemed reasonable to me. I got to the pouring everything in the pan part, when I noticed that my pan was looking very full. Very, very full. Unconcerned, I put the entire thing into the oven and set the timer for 50 minutes. 50 minutes later, my frittata was liquidy in the middle. I reset the timer for another 15 minutes. Unfortunately, my pan being as full as it was, little bits had dribbled over the side onto the bottom of my oven and as my frittata continued to cook, my oven started to smoke. Concerned that my apartment was now completely filled with smoke and I had people coming over in 10 minutes, I shut off the oven and decided that the frittata had been a failed experiment in baking.

An hour or so into the brunch as I was telling the story of how I failed to make this frittata, we decided to see how it was looking. By the miracles of Sunday brunch, it was done! A knife inserted into the middle came out clean and we declared it ready for eating - which we did.

The frittata was devoured too quickly to get any photos, but I look forward to many more frittatas and brunches in my new home :-)