Drinking Rosé with Katherine Reay

Lately, I’ve been teaching myself how to cook (more on that in a later post!). Because of my new found love of cooking, I have been gravitating towards fiction and non-fiction books with food and cooking at their core.

This week I finished reading Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay.  As a die-hard fan of Jane Austen, I was originally drawn to the book because of the connection to Austen’s Pride and PrejudiceKatherine Reay‘s books tend to be inspired by classic novels, especially Austen.

Lizzy and Jane couldn’t be further from Jane Austen’s famous sisters for whom they are named.

Elizabeth left her family’s home in Seattle fifteen years ago to pursue her lifelong dream—chefing her own restaurant in New York City. Jane stayed behind to raise a family. Estranged since their mother’s death many years ago, the circumstances of their lives are about to bring them together once again.

Known for her absolute command of her culinary domain, Elizabeth’s gifts in the kitchen have begun to elude her. And patrons and reviewers are noticing. In need of some rest and an opportunity to recover her passion for cooking, Elizabeth jumps at the excuse to rush to her sister’s bedside when Jane is diagnosed with cancer. After all, Elizabeth did the same for their mother. Perhaps this time, it will make a difference.

As Elizabeth pours her renewed energy into her sister’s care and into her burgeoning interest in Nick, Jane’s handsome coworker, her life begins to evolve from the singular pursuit of her own dream into the beautiful world of family, food, literature, and love that was shattered when she and Jane lost their mother. Will she stay and become Lizzy to her sister’s Jane—and Elizabeth to Nick’s Mr. Darcy—or will she return to the life she has worked so hard to create?

-http://www.katherinereay.com/

I loved the focus on food and how a good meal can bring people together. At first, I thought the book would be more of a modern take on Pride and Prejudice, but it was nothing like the beloved Austen novel.  However, I could see the inspiration of Jane Austen’s writing and loved the references to her famous characters and novels.  I was happy that Katharine Reay’s story was genuine and her own, instead of re-writing Pride and Prejudice for a modern audience. It was a perfect book to usher in the spring, combined with my love of cooking and new found appreciation of food.

Because it’s been getting warmer in New Jersey (finally), I’ve been on a rosé kick. There is nothing I love more than a wonderfully chilled rosé on a warm spring day! Rosé wines can be tricky.  They are NOT the same as a white zinfandel, which is not grape variety, but rather created from processing Zinfandel grapes. I prefer my rosé with a dry, lightly fruity taste with a little bit of tang.

IMG_5262

While I was in Grand Cayman this past January for the Cayman Cookout event that I work every year, I had the opportunity to try a rosé from Jean Luc ColomboCape Bleue Rosé. After one sip I was hooked.  It was one of the best tasting rosé wines I have ever had. Plus the color is just beautiful. I knew once I returned to the states, I needed to find and purchase it!  Luckily, it’s available at several local wine stores, as well as online at wine.com (love this site!).

I chose Cape Bleue Rosé to pair with Lizzy and Jane because it’s light and refreshing. Much like Reay’s novel. Plus all of Lizzy’s cooking brought me back to Cayman Cookout and made me crave Cape Bleue Rosé. It turned out to be a great pairing!

Do you have a favorite rosé? Comment below and let me know what I should try!

Advertisements

Someday, Someday, Maybe, I’ll Visit San Francisco

Two months ago I moved into my sweet little condo and a couple weeks later I had friends over to celebrate. I am a HUGE fan of the band, Train, and one of my friends brought me a bottle of wine from their winery, Save Me San Francisco Wine Co. It happened to be one of my favorite types of wine, Sauvignon Blanc – Bulletproof Picasso Sauvignon Blanc, to be exact (named after their most recent album). I was ecstatic, so naturally I had to find a fun book to drink with my new wine!

As an avid fan of Gilmore Girls, I have been following the updates on the new season (coming to Netflix later this year) with the utmost fervor.  So when searching through my extensive “To Read” list to find a title to pair with my new wine, I instantly gravitated to Someday, Someday, Maybe by none other than Lauren Graham (aka Lorelai Gilmore)!

Both my book and wine choice incorporated my tastes in music and TV.  I love when that happens.  It promised to be a perfect combination.  And it was.

After struggling to finish a memoir that I had lost interest in (more on that in a later post), I decided to abandon the book and craved a fiction piece (and subsequent wine) that was light and would catch my attention immediately. Someday, Someday, Maybe was that book. And Bulletproof Picasso was that wine. Both did exactly what I wanted them to.  The combination got me out of my book funk and re-launched my love of reading with blazing intensity.

I say this often in my posts, but I enjoy characters that are relatable and could be someone you meet on the street.  But what I LOVE more, are relatable characters with wit, eccentricities, and big hearts. Lauren Graham’s main character, Franny, has all of those qualities and more. The book follows Franny, a struggling, young actress trying to keep it together and get ahead in her career.  Taking place in NYC, Graham focuses on following your dreams and allowing yourself to hope for “someday”.

It’s January 1995, and Franny Banks has just six months left of the three-year deadline she set for herself when she came to New York, dreaming of Broadway and doing “important” work. But all she has to show for her efforts so far is a part in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters, and a gig waiting tables at a comedy club. Her roommates―her best friend Jane, and Dan, an aspiring sci-fi writer―are supportive, yet Franny knows a two-person fan club doesn’t exactly count as success. Everyone tells her she needs a backup plan, and though she can almost picture moving back home and settling down with her perfectly nice ex-boyfriend, she’s not ready to give up on her goal of having a career like her idols Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep. Not just yet. But while she dreams of filling their shoes, in the meantime, she’d happily settle for a speaking part in almost anything—and finding a hair product combination that works.

Everything is riding on the upcoming showcase for her acting class, where she’ll finally have a chance to perform for people who could actually hire her. And she can’t let herself be distracted by James Franklin, a notorious flirt and the most successful actor in her class, even though he’s suddenly started paying attention. Meanwhile, her bank account is rapidly dwindling, her father wants her to come home, and her agent doesn’t return her calls. But for some reason, she keeps believing that she just might get what she came for.

Someday, Someday, Maybe is a story about hopes and dreams, being young in a city, and wanting something deeply, madly, desperately. It’s about finding love, finding yourself, and perhaps most difficult of all in New York City, finding an acting job.

-Penguin Random House

As for the wine, if you love a crisp, dry white.  This is definitely a bottle you need to pick up.  I am a huge fan of wine that is fermented in stainless steel barrels, versus Oak.  I love a good crisp, tart, dry wine. And Bulletproof Picasso has all three of my favorite wine characteristics.

IMG_5216

Both the wine and the book are fun, light, and refreshing.  Graham’s writing is charming, eloquent, and funny.  It’s perfectly matched with Bulletproof Picasso. If you are looking for a great book to read outside on a warm spring day while sipping a delightfully chilled glass of white wine, definitely check out Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham and Bulletproof Picasso Sauvignon Blanc from Save Me San Francisco Wine Co!

 

When Your Voice is Broken

I have a fear of being inadequate. Of never being enough. Of constantly falling short. I doubt myself constantly and I am always getting in my own way. I find it hard to believe in myself at times, because how could I make a difference? It would be easier to live a quiet normal life, working a 9-5 job, never making waves, avoiding confrontation, keeping out of everyone’s way, and being content with all of that as my reality.

But I don’t want to.

I’ve taken such a passive stance over the past few years, just merely existing, not truly living. And it doesn’t feel right. This isn’t me; this slump isn’t me and I refuse to let it become my new norm.

A few months ago, I took a big leap of faith and got my own place. It’s mine and I adore living here. This was a big step for me personally and emotionally. And one I did not take lightly.

The first time I moved out of my parents’ house, it was to move in with my ex-boyfriend. There was something not right at the beginning, I could feel it. But I wanted so desperately for it to work out. I saw the good in him, despite the many words of caution from my family and friends. I was determined to make it work. Moving in together seemed like a logical next step.

The day I moved in, I had a full blown panic attack in the car. I was stressed and I tried to hide the gnawing feeling in my gut. My brother even pulled me aside while we were unpacking the car and asked if I was OK, pointed out that I didn’t seem happy, and told me he didn’t want to leave me there. My manly, burly brother was worried and that scared me even more than the pit in the bottom of my stomach. But I had committed to this and I weakly brushed off my brother’s concern with a simple, “I’m fine”.

The truth is I wasn’t fine. And for weeks I cried myself to sleep in a home I had chosen to move into, with a man I had chosen to be with. Something was wrong. Something was missing. But at the time I wanted a quiet little life without making waves. As the months passed on, it became harder to ignore the issues in our relationship and the inevitable became unavoidable. Tension grew. Love faded. And bitterness, anger, and resentment began to take root. And 10 months later, I packed my things and I moved home in tears.

In those 10 months, it was hard for me to write. Nothing during those months were my own. I couldn’t stand to share the words I so desperately needed to write. I felt small, inadequate, and unheard. I began to doubt myself as a writer and as a person. I felt like I could never make it – that my words would never matter.

After I moved back into my childhood bedroom, I slowly began to heal. I started blogging more, reading constantly, and my confidence started to grow. In December of 2015, one year after moving home, I signed the lease to my very first home. It was a scary but exciting moment. I was on my own. And my little condo has become my happy place. It’s all mine and I realized I can depend on myself. I have the power to be anything I want.

So why did I feel compelled to post this for all to see? For the longest time I felt silenced, like whatever I wrote or said didn’t matter. Those self-doubts came crawling back. I am determined to defeat the voices that constantly tell me that I’m not good enough.

Writing to me is like breathing. I can’t not write. It’s a spiritual experience for me. It’s something I love beyond measure. All I’ve ever wanted was to write and be a writer. But what I’ve come to realize is that I’m not writing for anyone other than myself. There is a little piece of me in every word I write and I want to share that with the world.

I am a writer. I will succeed and I will never let myself be silenced again.

When Reading Feels Like Coffee With a Friend…

Well it’s January 4th and I’ve already finished reading my first book of 2016.  I made a pledge on Good Reads to read 52 books this year (yikes…what was I thinking?!). You can follow my progress and reading list here!

Back in December, I took part in the 12 days of Love Letter Writing Campaign with a wonderful organization, The World Needs More Love Letters (MLL). If you ever need to know that there are good humans in the world, check out their website and the social media hashtag #moreloveletters.  It’s inspiring and will make you realize that the world isn’t such a bad place. Good exists.

image1

I’m a member of MLL’s love letter alert and have participated in quite a few campaigns and letter requests over the last few years. It’s an organization where I find a lot of meaning and purpose. Plus I’m a sucker for good stationary and helping others find encouragement even in the smallest of ways.

In January of 2012, I was introduced to Hannah Brencher by wonderful people whom I consider my second family, the Shatsoffs. Hannah and I had a common friend in Nate.

Circumstances beyond anyone’s control lead us to meet at a Relentless Against Cancer bowling event in North Haven, CT shortly after Nate’s passing. It seemed pretty serendipitous to me, since Hannah and I are both writers – I was in the process of self-publishing my first novel and Hannah was creating The World Needs More Love Letters. Although we didn’t stay in close contact after the event, we maintained an acquaintance. I followed her blog and her MLL mission and was ecstatic for her when her first novel, If You Find This Letter, was published last year.

I felt strongly that this needed to be my first read of 2016 and I’m so glad it was. However, it’s a little weird reading a book by someone you’ve met, before she was famous, about her life that includes people you know. It’s a weird feeling, but it’s so cool!

As a self-appointed book sommelier, I can pair a wine with any book. However, reading Hannah’s memoir felt more like sitting down with an old friend to drink a big cup of coffee. So in the 15 hours or so that it took me to read it (since I was drawn in pretty quickly), I drank coffee with Peppermint Mocha creamer. It was quite the perfect pairing.

image2

If You Find This Letter has a unique rhythm.  There is a steady beat as you read. It’s almost like you can feel the city breathing underneath the story. It’s honest, truthful, and completely raw.  I admire writers who can literally hold their guts in their hands for you to read. It’s brave. Hannah is not afraid to show readers her soul.

Her journey of faith and love is one that anyone can relate to.  While reading, I felt like I was exposing my own truths and learning to have faith in myself as a person and as a writer. When I finished reading, I silently closed the book and took my large cup of coffee in both hands and breathed. I wanted to soak up every piece of the story and let it settle.  I sat in quiet for about an hour, just being. I love when books affect me like that.  That’s why I am so in love with reading. Stories – fiction or nonfiction – pull you into a world where you are capable of learning amazing things about yourself, if you only let the words affect you.

Bigger than this, is the only way to describe this book.

 

2016, you got me by the pen.

Happy New Year, friends!

As New Year’s Eve approached, I started to think a lot about resolutions.  I decided that this year I would prefer to focus on goals in relation to my writing.

As 2015 came to a close, I realized that my writing had taken a backseat throughout the year.  And I was not OK with that.  No wonder the year had been a difficult one! I felt like I had turned by back on what I love most. This revelation broke my heart and made me realize that my writing must come first.

Tonight I dedicated my evening to working for myself to plan out my 2016 writing goals.  I decided the on 7 goals (7 is my favorite number).

image1

image4

Every Monday, like clock work, Pour Me Another Novel will publish new content.  That means a lot of great books and great wine are coming your way!

January’s menu has been planned out and focuses on non-fiction, so take a closer look at what is coming up this month!

image3

This is my happy place. I’m looking forward to all of the words I will be both reading and writing this year!

image2

Cheers!

 

 

12 Days of Love Letter Writing + The World Needs More Love Letters

image2 (1)The holidays are always my favorite time of year. No matter what is going on in the world, or with me personally, there is always this glimmer of new hope.  Hope.  That’s what I love about the holidays.  That and for a moment there is an overwhelming feeling of love and joy that surrounds the world.

A few years back, I met a remarkable friend, Nate, who changed my life in ways I never thought possible.  And through him, I met incredible people – one being Hannah Brencher.

If you aren’t familiar with Hannah or her organization, More Love Letters (MLL), please get acquainted. In a time where we can all use a little more hope and love, Hannah and MLL fill that void.  There are good people in the world and doing good things every day (for the purpose of just doing good things).

The 12 Days of Love Letter Writing campaign brings writers together every year to collect special letter bundles for people (like you and me) that may need a little extra love, hope, or encouragement this holiday season. There are 12 days of letter requests – kinda like that whole 12 days of Christmas thing without the partridge in a pear tree.

I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the holiday season than writing letters to people who need a little extra love and comfort. After all, couldn’t we all use a little extra love and words of hope?

This has been one of the hardest years of my life. This year I lost my grandmother, my best friend. She always left people a littler happier than they had been before they had shared time with her. Her laugh was infectious.  Most of the happiest moments of my life have been shared with my grandma.

I take after her with my writing and my wit – two of my most blessed qualities. She never questioned my abilities as a writer, even when I questioned them myself.  She always just knew. She knew I’d be a writer. My grandmother loved to write letters.  She gave me a book of handwritten poetry and letters for my birthday about six years ago.  When I miss her most, I run my fingers across the ridges left by her pen.  Most times I cry, but often I smile, thinking of my grandma sitting at her kitchen table, glasses perched on the end of her nose, lost in thought listening to Frank Sinatra while filling my journal with some of her favorite words.

This year, I am honored to be a part of MLL’s 12 Days of Love Letter Writing campaign and sharing my blog to spread some love to Kevin.

Here is some information about Kevin:

“Kevin is just an all-around wonderful human. He is always going out of his way to make other people feel loved and included. It doesn’t take long for any random stranger to add Kevin to their “top favorite people” list.” A close friends writes to us.

Recently Kevin’s girlfriend passed away suddenly due to a brain aneurysm, she was only 32. It happened so fast that all their friends are struggling with ways to grieve and ways to heal, and of course Kevin is still going out of his way to make sure that everyone else is doing ok with the loss of their friend. Join us in showering Kevin with all the love that he consistently shows to everyone around him!

PLEASE SEND ALL LOVE LETTERS TO:
Kevin’s bundle
℅ Kayla L.
139 Ordale Boulevard
Pittsburgh PA 15228
USA

I hope you will join me in writing to Kevin, and the rest of the 12 days of love letter writing recipients.

I don’t know about you, but I am determined to make the love and joy of the season last, at least in my orbit.  If I can leave one person feeling happier, more joyful, and feeling more loved, in my wake, I’d consider myself a blessed and accomplished person.

_____________________________________________________

Life, Lemons, and Italy

I have been extremely negligent with my blog posting.  I could come up with a million excuses as to why I haven’t posted.  But my readers (and I) deserve the truth. The truth is that the last couple of months have been hard and I haven’t felt like myself.

Writing words and posting them online for people to openly reject is a difficult concept to grasp at times. Mix that with anxiety and depression, as well as feeling like nothing I do or write or say is ever enough, and your doubts will start to control you. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m good enough. Sometimes I feel like I have failed as a writer, before I’ve even begun. Fear paralyzes you into losing sight of your dreams and not realizing your true potential.

Honestly, I’ve had enough of letting fear and anxiety control my life.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I’m not ashamed of suffering from anxiety and depression. It needs to be talked about and I will talk about it until I’m blue in the face because the silent power it has over me has been weighing me down for years. And I am tired of it. I am tired of letting fear and self-doubt control my every move, my every decision. My ah-ha moment came to me this weekend. I’ve spent so much time feeling alone, but the truth is, I am not.

As my 29th birthday approaches, I may not be where I thought I’d be at this age. But through all the ups and downs, the bad dates and failed relationships, the battles with depression and anxiety, my family and friends have been there through it all. I may be single, but I’m not alone. There are amazing people in my life that I’ve been truly blessed with every second of every day. They’ve made me realize that I am loved and cared for. For that I am forever grateful and blessed. I’m not going to lie; the last year especially has been hard, but it’s a journey and it’s a moment along the path I’m taking. For the first time in a long time, I feel this fresh, new beginning that’s longing to start. And after a while in the dark, I’m ready to embrace it. Everything I’ve gone through has made me a better person. I’m stronger, smarter, and more loving because of it. I am me. And I will never apologize for that. I finally love who I am and I’m blessed with so many people who care about and love me for me. That’s what’s most important. I can finally see that clearly and honestly, I’ve never felt happier or more hopeful.

So after my revelation, I picked up my pen again and resumed work on my second novel and I picked up my Kindle again and resumed reading. The book I chose couldn’t have been more perfect for the struggles I’ve been having. That’s the thing about books; they show up when you need them most.

The book I read, and literally just finished last night, was Italian for Beginners by Kristin Harmel. I’ve read two other books by Kristin Harmel (blog posts pending) that I have adored and shook me to my very core. I still think about the stories and how they’ve affected my life. Books affect me. I think that’s magical.

Aside from my strong desire to visit Italy, Italian for Beginners appealed to me in so many ways. The main character, Cat Connolly, is 34 and single. She is incapable of maintaining a healthy and loving relationship (hey, I know someone like that!). She seems to be in a rut when the reader meets her, however Cat doesn’t really see it yet. She reminisces about the summer she spent in Rome while in college and recalls how much she loved it and felt at peace there. At the suggestion of her father, sister, and work BFF, she plans to travel to Rome alone for one month. Through a series of unfortunate events, she ends up befriending a native Roman, Karina. Karina helps her see that she has been living so cautiously that she has never truly lived. Cat begins to follow her passion for photography, reconnects with estranged family, and meets amazing people who change her perception on what it truly means to live. By the end of the book, she has done a complete transformation into a woman who is confident, passionate, and loves herself for who she is.

I was able to relate to Cat on many levels. This relation was confirmed through a family member’s advice during my recent struggles, “You need to get out of your comfort zone and take a chance”. It’s true; I do. So did Cat. As she followed her passion for photography, I thought about my pen and how long my journals, notebooks, and computer screen have sat empty because I was too afraid. But I’m not afraid anymore.

Lately I’ve been super into lemons, which seems appropriate, since life has indeed handed me my fair share of lemons. But this time, I drank wine instead of lemonade, a delicious Sauvignon Blanc called Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. It was the perfect pair to Italian for Beginners (even though the wine is made in New Zealand and not Italy). I made sure it was chilled prior to drinking it which made all the difference. It’s an excellent summer wine that I ordered through my Club W wine club. I will definitely be ordering a few more bottles this summer.

Cat and I both learned that life will always hand you lemons. But lemons aren’t always a bad thing. It’s what you do with those lemons that count. Personally, I like mine in wine form.

My Favorite Wine and Enjoying First Frost

I recently had the opportunity to travel to the Cayman Islands for work.  It was my first time in the Caribbean! I was working at the Cayman Cookout event, a food and wine festival that attracts some of the best chefs and wine makers in the world.  Enjoying the Caribbean during winter AND sampling some food and wine, all while staying at The Ritz?! I am one lucky girl. Aside from the memories of sandy beaches and sunshine, along with meeting famous chef Jose Andres, I left the Caymans with a favorite wine from Justin Winery.

IMG_5164IMG_5236

It was the best Sauvignon Blanc I’ve ever had.  Since I’ve been back in the states, no Sauv Blanc has even come to close to my love of this Justin wine.  Luckily I was able to find it on wine.com and ordered a bunch of bottles! It’s even available at a decent price! I’ve also found it at Gary’s Wine and Marketplace.  Can’t wait to pick up a couple of bottles this week! It’s even on sale!

Clearly I couldn’t just pair ANY book with my beloved Justin Sauvignon Blanc, so I chose the latest release from my favorite author, Sarah Addison Allen, First Frost.

Those who are familiar with Addison Allen’s work will recognize some beloved characters from one of her other novels, Garden Spells.

The Waverley sisters are back and faced with new challenges. With the impending first frost, the sisters are restless. Claire’s candy has become so successful that her magical garden cannot keep up with the popularity and demand of her magical candy.  She begins to fear that her magical ability isn’t really magic at all. Sydney’s daughter Bay falls in love for the first time and Sydney yearns to have another baby. As they prepare for the first frost celebration, tensions are high when a stranger enters Bascom with a very un-Waverley desire.

The Waverley sisters are probably two of my favorite characters in fiction. Reading stories that focus on their sisterly bond and their family dynamic is comfortable. I feel like I’m reading about two friends and that I’ve come to know their family and their idiosyncrasies. I really hope that this is not the last time Sarah Addison Allen writes about the Waverleys!

I would love to be invited to Claire and Sydney’s first frost party. I’d be sure to bring a bottle of Justin Wine with me!

Need a little “Sneak Taste”?!

I’m back and ready to read and drink!  Need a “sneak taste” of what I’ve been reading and sipping?

Here’s what’s on tap for Pour Me Another Novel over for the next few weeks!

Once Upon a Vine wine and the Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling

Independent Chenin Blanc and Autumn in the Vineyard by Marina Adair

Redux Sauvignon Blanc and The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

Sequin Pinot Grigio and Taking the Lead by Derek Hough

The Light Grape White Blend and What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman

The Proper Etiquette of Wine Tasting with Your Own Winery

Demarest Farms Wine Festival and the fabulous Auburn Road Winery

Online Wine Clubs: Club W Profile

Yoga in the Vineyard at Cava Winery

The Grand Harvest Wine Festival in Morristown

Dandy Chardonnay and The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel

Under the Harvest Moon (wine), This is Where I Leave You

image(1)

I recently read This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. FYI, This is Where I Leave You is coming to a movie theater near you this fall. Check out the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fH0cEP0mvlU

After watching the trailer and learning that it had been based on Tropper’s book, I was intrigued and had to read it. The book took place in the fall so what better wine to drink with it than Harvest Moon from the Warwick Valley Winery, deep in the heart of the black dirt region of New York state. Harvest Moon is one of my absolute favorite wines. It’s a white wine with subtle peach and apricot flavors. It’s semi dry and semi-sweet. The incredibly refreshing taste is perfect served chilled or on ice.

While I was enjoying the wine, I was not enjoying the book. I was very disappointed. From viewing the trailer and reading the book synopsis and reviews, I was expecting something very different. I don’t consider myself to be a person who is offended by language or vulgar jokes. However, the language was very vulgar and every chapter had to do with sex. I felt like the vulgarity and language really took away from the plot. But, hey, everyone has their own taste in books. This book was not mine.

I’ll definitely be taking the wine with me, but I’m sorry Johnathan Tropper, this is where I leave you.

Interested in checking out This is Where I Leave You for yourself? Click here!

And check out Warwick Valley Winery and all of their amazing wines!