Category Archives: Wine

Crafting with Wine Corks

My wine cork collection surely tells the tale of my wine tastes over the years!

It’s no secret that I love wine.  And when you have wine, you usually get wine corks.  Granted, many winemakers are going to the screw tops, but there’s something about opening a bottle with a cork that just feels right. 

I can’t even guess how long I’ve been saving wine corks.  I had a small container in my dining room where I would toss them but eventually, I found a rather large basket at the thrift store that I designated as my wine cork basket.  This year, during the pandemic, it began to overflow.  Hummm…I know what that says about me but at the moment, I don’t care!  I mean, we all have our ways of coping, right?  But before judging, remember that my home is where all the family and friends’ gatherings generally take place, so there’s that. 

Seriously…I have a LOT of wine corks!

A few weeks ago, I decided to empty that rather large basket and placed all the wine corks in a large garbage bag.  I then asked followers on Instagram what they thought I should do with them.  Well, the overwhelming response was to make a craft and some followers even sent me photos of what to try.  The one that got my attention, because it seemed easy to make, was a pumpkin.  With a little hot glue and paint, I set out to see if this would be easy…or not.

First, I chose wine corks that all matched in size.  Well, I tried to!  Some ended up being a little fatter than others, but I did my best.  I lined them up in six rows – two rows of 6, two rows of 7 and two rows of 8.  After hot gluing each row together longways, I began hot gluing the rows together.  First the 6-cork row, then the 7-cork row and finally the 8-cork row.  Then I did the same in reverse. 

The painting step should probably be done before gluing everything together, but I wanted to see how it looked pieced together and decide which corks to paint.  Some already had the red wine stain which gave it a fall look.  I used rose gold and antique copper acrylic paint on several of the corks which complemented the red wine stain color.  Finally, I found a short cork and added it on top as a stem and added three large fall artificial leaves to finish it off. 

Making the pumpkin was relatively easy, but I will say that while the bottom three rows seemed to fit together perfectly, the top three were a little off.  And when I was gluing the middle two rows together, I forgot that they set right on top of each other so I ended up gluing the round part of the corks.  For the other rows I was gluing in between.  Live and learn!  Honestly, I’m happy with the way it turned out!  And with the number of corks I have left, I could probably make about 50 more of these! 

Finished product! Pumpkin made from wine corks!

I’m thinking I should start looking for some Christmas cork crafts to make now.  What do you think?  Any fun ideas out there?  If so, send them my way! 

Perry’s Pinot and Pork

Everybody who knows me knows how much I love wine. When I first started trying wines I was a huge Merlot fan and slowly moved to Cabernet Sauvignons and finally Pinot Noir. I’m more of a white wine and rose wine enthusiast these days but the pendulum is starting to swing back to reds for me. That’s why I was excited to get an invitation to try the Perry’s Steakhouse April special – Pinot and Pork!

Let me first say how much I love Perry’s wines! I went to a tasting when they launched their new Private Reserve Cabernet and Chardonnay in 2017 and got to hear how they were created from Perry’s Corporate Sommelier, Susi Zivanovic. I found myself wanted to “be” Susi…I mean, could you think of a more perfect job than bringing fabulous tasting wines to people?! She is a wealth of information and I found myself hanging on her every word, that is, between sips of the wine samples!

Last Sunday, my husband and I arrived for and early supper at Perry’s. The April special is a three course meal consisting of your choice of salad, their legendary slow-roasted, caramelizad pork chop and finally, their decadent dessert trio. Let me just say this…make sure you go hungry!!! This combination is out of this world!

Our server, Todd, was so comfortable to talk to and provided lots of tidbits about the food and wine. He raved about the pork chop and even offered suggestions on how to prepare the leftovers, because there would definitely be leftovers with the size of the pork chop they were about to serve! I suggested that maybe Perry’s should post a left-over pork chop recipe flyer for their guests! At this point I couldn’t wait to try the main course. On a side note, I’ve only had the pork chop one other time and it was thanks to my brother-in-law when he was in town a year ago. So having it hot out of the kitchen and watching it being carved at the table was a treat!

We started with salads, Eddie ordered the wedge salad while I had the warm spinach and bacon salad. We had just finished these when the pork chops were brought out on sizzling platters. The young man carving them explained what he was doing…first slicing the ribs, followed by what Perry’s calls the eyelash – a small portion of dark meat and then the loin along with a side of applesauce. He also suggested sampling everything in that order. Wow! That first warm bite was incredible! The caramel flavor along with spices and garlic butter was so rich I just wanted to savor it for a bit.

After that first bite I reached for the Perry’s Reserve Pinot Noir to complete the pairing and it was heavenly! The Pinot Noir is out of Monterey County California and you can definitely get hints of berries and cherry aromas with a very smooth finish. It was created especially to pair with the pork chop and I can see why! I found myself alternating between bites and sips throughout the rest of my meal!

We were so stuffed we barely made it to the loin! I took a few bites and our server Todd returned and asked if I had given up. I said yes and to box the rest up because we still had the dessert trio to go! Luckily for us, the trio is small bite style so we enjoyed bites of cheesecake, creme brûlée and a tasty crunchy chocolate that was like a Nestle crunch bar!

Perry’s is great about offering specials and the month of April is no exception. You can get a glass of the new Pinot Noir for five dollars off the usual $14 during dinner service if you order the pork chop. Or you can get $20 off a bottle of the Pinot which is usually $56. Get the bottle!!! Trust me on this! On Sundays you can opt to get the three course meal that Eddie and I enjoyed for $34.95 and the wine price applies. Sunday supper is from 4-9 p.m. Head over for a delicious time, especially this month (April) and maybe I’ll see you there!

Oh! Forgot to mention that we ordered a side of the steak truffle fries to go with dinner too because well…truffles!

Girl Scout Cookies and Wine?

Table setting for Girl Scout cookies and wine pairing

It’s Girl Scout cookie time!  This is the time of year when all your New Year’s resolutions about losing weight take a slight break when that cute little Girl Scout in your neighborhood asks you to buy cookies!  Seriously, how can you say no to a young girl learning about marketing, money management, people skills and entrepreneurship by selling these cookies?  They are SO good and everyone has their one favorite…or two…or THREE!!!

Girl Scout cookie bites with a madeira wine

Two years ago a friend posted a Girl Scout cookie and wine pairing photo on my Facebook wall.  I was getting more and more into wine and food pairings and I had a good laugh at the photo.  Girl Scout cookies and wine?  I wasn’t so sure. But the thought was tucked away in my mind and this year I decided it would be fun to try it out.  First I did a little online research.  Sure enough, most of the information I found was based on the photo my friend had shared with suggestions to pair Samoas (chocolate and coconut cookies) with Rioja and Trefoils (butter cookies) with champagne.  Sounded simple enough.  Then one afternoon I was at a food and wine event at Perry’s Steakhouse and asked their corporate sommelier, Susi Zivanovich what she would suggest.  She said to go with dessert wines like port, madeira and something I had never tried before…sauternes.  Next, I  found an article in Food & Wine magazine pretty much debunking all the pairings I had originally come across.  They also agreed with Suzi about the dessert wines.  And I figured since it was Food & Wine magazine, they should know!

So, I set about getting a Girl Scout Cookie and dessert wine pairing pulled together with a few friends.  I headed to Trader Joes, World Market, Publix and Vintage Wines to gather all the suggested wines in the Food and Wine article.  These are the wines I ended up with:

  • Emma Reichart Dry Riesling – $4.99 @ Trader Joes
  • Moscato d’Asti Villa Alena – $8.99 @ Trader Joes
  • Schloss Biebrich Rose Sekt (Sparkling Wine) – $6.99 Trader Joes (Okay…I did add a sparkling wine because I was curious even though it wasn’t suggested. More on that in a bit.)
  • Chateau Pleytegeat Sauternes – $11.50 on sale (Regular price $15) @ World Market
  • Blandy’s Madeira – $20.99 @ Vintage Wine Shop
  • Taylor Tawny Port – $8.49 @ Publix

For several days, I mulled over how to set everything up.  I saw a few photos of pairings online where chalk boards were used and it looked nice enough but with six wines and seven cookies, I thought it might get a little crowded looking on the table.  Plus, I wanted to add the suggested cookie pairings next to each wine and needed a little more room to write.  I found a roll of butcher paper in my hall closet and it was just enough to cover my dining room table.  The wines were lined up from light to dark on the left and the cookies were lined up next to their main suggested pairing (as much as possible), on the right.  Then I grabbed a large sharpie and got to work labeling everything!  The pairings looked like this:

  • Riesling with Toffee-tastic (gluten-free buttery with sweet crunchy toffee bits) and Savannah Smiles (zesty lemon wedge dusted with powdered sugar)
  • Moscato with Trefoils (shortbread) and S’mores (graham sandwich with creamy chocolate and marshmallow filling)
  • Sparkling Rose with Savannah Smiles (powdered sugar lemon)
  • Sauternes with S’mores and Samoas (crisp cookie coated in caramel, sprinkled w/toasted coconut and striped with dark chocolate)
  • Madeira with Do-Si-Dos (crunchy oatmeal sandwich cookie with peanut butter filling) and Tagalongs (crispy cookies layered with peanut butter and covered with chocolate coating)
  • Tawny Port with S’mores, Tagalongs, Samoas and Do-Si-Dos

Usually at wine pairings you get a tally sheet to keep up with what you liked best and any other notes you want to make, but I decided to go a different route with this.  Having a paper and pen to add to a wine glass and plate of cookies seemed too much to handle.  As my guests tried a cookie and wine, I asked them to put a check mark beside the ones they thought paired the best.  By the end of the tasting we had a good idea which ones paired best.  For our tastes, this is what everyone liked the best:

  • Riesling – Savannah Smiles were the overwhelming favorite of all cookies and wines.  The Dry Riesling and lemon cookies pairing was so good everyone went back for more!
  • Moscato – There was a tie between Trefoils and S’mores and personally I liked both of these cookies with the Moscato.  I’m not a big Moscato fan so this surprised me!
  • Sparkling Rose – only one person really liked pairing this wine with the Savannah Smiles which proved the Food & Wine article was right about champagne.  On the other hand, everyone enjoyed drinking the champagne when the tasting was over.
  • Sauternes – Hands down the Samoas won with this suggested pairing.  Was it the coconut or the chocolate?  For me I think it was the coconut and the fact that this was a really sweet wine so I think the coconut balanced it out.
  • Madeira – I paired this with both types of peanut butter cookies and everyone preferred the chocolate covered Tagalongs with the Madeira.  So…this lead me to believe any of the chocolate cookies would work.  S’mores for me was a close second even though I didn’t officially pair this one with the Madeira.
  • Tawny Port – This is the wine that had the most suggested pairings, four total.  Again, the Tagalongs (with chocolate) were a hit and tied with the S’mores (also with chocolate).
  • EXTRA WINE PAIRING – I have to add that one of my guests brought a white blend wine, Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc & Viognier, to try with the peanut butter cookies. She had gone to Vintage Wine Shoppe and they suggested this pairing.  FYI – this was the place where I bought the Madeira wine.  We added it to the table and both cookies paired really well with this wine!

Last but not least…the thin mints…these are probably one of the most popular Girl Scout cookies but the thought of having wine with a thin mint didn’t seem like a good idea to me.  The mint flavor was sure to overtake anything that we tried.  In fact, I don’t think I saw anyone try the thin mints at my pairing.  I know, I didn’t try to pair them, and I believe the Food & Wine article suggestion was to put these cookies next to the coffee!  Now THAT’S the perfect pairing!

I’m thinking about making this an annual event at my house.  Several friends are already saying they’d love to be included and I love planning a good party!  Meanwhile, if you are interested in trying out any of these pairings, you need to go ahead and get your cookies during the month of March!  In the Birmingham area, you can reach out to Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama and click on the cookie link for further information.  Or you can click on the “Find Cookies” button and enter your zip code to find out where booth sales are taking place.  And if you are sticking with your losing weight resolution, remember that you can freeze the cookies until you are ready to give these pairings a try.

A personal note about Girl Scouts…I was a Girl Scout when I lived in Puerto Rico.  My mother was my Brownie leader and I went all the way up to one year as a Cadette until we moved to Chicago.  Both of my daughters were in Girl Scouts and while I helped out a lot with my older daughter’s troop, I was my younger daughter’s troop leader from 1st through 12th grade.  I served as Hoover Valley Service Area Manager for five years and also on the board of Cahaba Girl Scouts (now Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama).  Being a Girl Scout is something I’m very proud of and it taught me so many life lessons.  I remember selling cookies door-to-door in my neighborhood of Sagrado Corazon in Puerto Rico and helping my daughters do the same where we live in Hoover.  Girl Scout cookies are all the more sweet because of my long time affiliation with this wonderful organization.  They truly do build girls with courage, confidence and character.  Now…go buy some Girl Scout cookies!



My Lolita Wine Glass Obsession

Autumn Glory wine glass by Lolita – my newest in my collection!

It’s Saturday night…I had just finished decorating my dining room for Thanksgiving and decided it was wine time!  I grabbed a delish bottle of Sauvignon Blanc that I opened the night before and poured it into my new Autumn Glory Lolita Wine glass and all was good!  Amazing how much better wine tastes to me in any of my Lolita wine glasses!

Designer Lolita Healy was out with friends one night in 2001.  While ordering drinks from the martini menu it occurred to her that the glasses could be more decorative and reflective of the drink personalities being ordered.  Her hand painted glass collection was born from this night out and she continues to create unique glasses that appeal to so many people – especially me!

Most of my Lolita wine glass (and martini glass) collection. Since this photo a few weeks ago I’ve added several more from my thrift store visits!

I became familiar with Lolita wine glasses when my mother worked for Hallmark and the store she managed carried them.  I thought they were cute and quirky and they came in a round box – already packaged and ready for gift giving!  One unique thing about these hand painted glasses is that they come with a drink recipe on the bottom along with the “name” of the glass design.  These glasses were also a little pricey and not necessarily something you bought for yourself.  Instead you wanted to buy one for a friend or family member for a special occasion.  I remember buying these glasses for gifts over the years but never for myself.  It seemed like such a splurge to get one for myself.

Then one day I was at the thrift store and I spotted one…it was a design I was familiar with sitting on the shelf with the other glassware.  My mother’s store had this design and I always loved it.  I picked it up and turned it over and there it was…the recipe and the name!  I was thrilled!  And I was equally thrilled that the price was just 99 cents vs. the usual $25 retail!  SCORE!

That Witch if Back Lolita Wine glass – I did a little google search a few days ago and someone was selling this one for $299!!! What the heck? I got it for 99 cents!

Soon I was finding these glasses all the time when I would go thrifting.  I could spot one across the store and make a b-line for it!  The second one I found was a Halloween design – a witches green hand complete with black lace wrap around the stem.  The recipe on the bottom is called “That Witch is Back” and after googling it later I found out it is a retired Lolita design.   I love using this one the entire month of October!

After that I hit the mother-load of Christmas designs.  The first one was a snowman design and he’s melting on the bottom.  The next was more elegant…a frosted white glass with silver shimmery snowflakes.  The final one is a female santa suit with a red feathery boa wrapped around the stem called Hot Mama Claus.  I always place these glasses on my kitchen counter top where I keep my wine paraphernalia by season and alternate using them – depending on my mood.

I’ve managed to find a few in their original boxes which is always fun.  I found the Little Black Dress glass that I gave my daughter Emily for her 21st birthday.  She had an Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany’s theme so it seemed perfect for that.  I also found a wedding wine glass that I gave to my daughter Anna Marie for her lingerie shower.

My first Lolita martini glass – this was is called New Year’s-Tini

Lolita also makes beer glasses and martini glasses.  I found a beer glass for my husband and he has used it a few times.  The martini glasses are also pretty elaborate.  The New Years themed glass has a disco ball hanging from it to resemble the ball dropping in NY on NYE.  I have several other martini glasses – all Christmas themed.  I like using them for mints and nuts on my table during the holidays.

I’ll admit, my love for these quirky glasses was fueled by my ability to find them at the thrift stores.  But I’ve also paid retail for glasses in recent years.  When I spotted the Day of the Dead sugar skull wine glass at Von Maur several years ago, I knew I had to have it!  Then I found a gold and red poinsettia Christmas glass on Amazon and had to have that as well.  And in the spirit of Christmas giving, I bought this same glass for two of my friends last year.  They loved it and now have their own obsession with these glasses!

My latest is the Autumn Glory glass, again from Amazon.  It reminded me of a tree in my neighborhood that I love to photograph each fall as the leaves turn to gold.  The glass reminded me of that tree and it has now become my November wine glass.

I don’t see this obsession slowing down any time soon.  As long as there are occasions for wine, I feel certain there will be a creative and quirky Lolita wine glass for me to use!  Cheers y’all!

A Little Bit of Africa in Hoover, Alabama

Our room at Hunters Namibia Safaris -

Our room at Hunters Namibia Safaris –

When my husband and I were in Africa, the attention to detail where we stayed – at Hunters Namibia Safaris – was impeccable!  From the homey breakfast table’s lazy susan to the beautiful dinner each night with the Patrick Mavros Tree of Lights centerpiece …it was a page out of safaris from a by-gone era.

One of the most delightful details to me was the decanter of port wine in our room.  Now, that may now sound like a bit deal to you, but for a wine drinker this was heaven!  As I got ready for bed every night and settled in the chair at the foot of the bed to write in my travel journal, it was just the right touch to make the day perfect!


I really missed having a “nightcap” of port wine when we got back to the US.  In my mind, I was trying to create a version of this in our own bedroom.  And then one day, it all came together.  I was browsing a thrift store in Homewood when I found a giraffe lamp for $10.  It was just perfect since seeing the “safari of giraffe” on our last day was one of my most favorite memories of the trip.  When I got home, I got to work on creating a little bit of Africa in Hoover.

I moved furniture around upstairs and put a green upholstered rocker chair in the corner.  Next to it, I added an end table and placed the lamp on a crocheted doily my great-grandmother made.  I found crystal glasses at another thrift store along with a beautiful decanter.  I feel like the spirit of Africa was with me in finding all these things at once to turn this corner into my vision.

My thrift store decanter and glass with a special bottle of port I had been saving for a special time.

My thrift store decanter and glass with a special bottle of port I had been saving for a special time.

Next, I raided my wine collection and found a bottle of Warre’s Warrior Porto Wine Reserve that I had been saving…apparently just for this perfect opportunity!  I poured it into the decanter and placed it on the end table and VOILA!  But Wait!…something was missing… I added a photo of me and my husband in our safari hats and that completed my vision!

I don’t always have a moment to sit in that chair and enjoy the port wine as I did in Namibia, but it’s nice to know it’s there and ready for me when I do have time.

A little piece of Africa in Hoover, Alabama...

A little piece of Africa in Hoover, Alabama…