Food & Drink

Food & Drink
Food & Drink

SHOP MY FAVES

SHOP MY FAVES
SHOP MY FAVES

STYLE

STYLE
STYLE

How to Host a Wine Tasting Party

A few weeks ago I attended a blind wine tasting. Take my word for it, it was fun and informative, but if you don't quite believe me, you can check out my post here.

Wine should be fun not intimidating or overwhelming. One of the best ways to get to know wine is to host a wine tasting. Whether you're a novice or an expert, a wine tasting is a great way to get together with friends and share some laughs as well as wine knowledge.

Here are some steps to follow to make it a success:

1. Choose the type of tasting (1 month in advance)
You can be as general or as specific as you want. I attended a red wine tasting. We were free to choose any type of red wine from any region around the world. Here are a few suggestions for types to get you started:

General
  • Any red wines
  • Any white wines
  • Sparkling wines
Wines by region
  • California reds
  • California whites
  • Italian reds
  • French whites
  • Chilean reds
  • Australian whites
By price point
  • Under $10
  • $10 - $20
  • $20 - $35
  • $35 - $50
  • and so on


2. Create a guest list and invite your guests (3 weeks prior)

Inviting a cross section of your friends will keep the party and conversation lively. Keep the number of wines between 6 and 8. You can certainly invite more than 8 guests. If you do, have every 2 guests share the cost of one bottle of wine. The wine tasting I attended was kindergarten moms who were getting together for the first time outside of class parties and activities. It was a great way to get to know each other and to get to know wine.

Send invitations using evite.com. Make suggestions for varietals to bring. Ask guests to post the varietal that they will be bringing in their reply so that there are no duplicates. When using evite.com, every invitee will be have access to the replies and the types of wines that each attendee is bringing. The last thing you want at a wine tasting is a bunch of duplicates.

For example, if you were planning to host a white wine tasting, you might suggest the following list.
Riesling
Pinot Gris
Pinot Grigio
Sauvignon Blanc
Moscato
Sancerre
Chardonnay
Semillon

3. Create a tasting card (anytime prior to the tasting)
Include the varietals of wine that will be featured at the tasting. The tasting card should include a brief description of each type of wine. Make space below each description to record tasting notes such as appearance, aroma, and flavor.

To make the tasting challenging (and even more fun) have a blind tasting. Asks guests to bring the bottles already wrapped in foil or a brown paper bag. The host will number the bottles prior to the tasting.

The guest who is able to correctly identify the most wines wins a prize (a favorite bottle of wine, a wine accessory, or a book). Guests can pitch in prior to the tasting for the prize, and the hostess or another guest can volunteer to purchase it.

4. Must serve food!
I probably should have listed this as #1. It is a must at any wine tasting. Ask each guest to bring a favorite appetizer or finger food to enjoy before the tasting gets started. Wine and cheese are synonymous together so be sure that at least one or two people bring a few types of cheeses. And of course, I'm a big fan of wine and chocolate together. I always volunteer to bring the chocolates!

5. Don't take the wine or yourselves too seriously
There is nothing worse than a wine snob. It's a huge turn-off for me. While I do enjoy someone who is knowledgeable about wine, I don't like a wine snob. If you consider yourself an expert, leave the judgement at the door and come to have a good time and impart your insights on others in a non-condescending manner. Trust me, everyone will appreciate your expertise if shared in a way that is not threatening.

6. The big reveal
After all of the wines have been poured and tasted, remove the wrappers from each bottle and tally the correct guesses for each person. This is the best part of the evening. I thought I had at least 4 wines out of 8 correctly guessed. I was confident. As it turned out, I had 1 correct guess. Haha!



HELPFUL HINTS:
- Give each guest one wine glass and one water glass.

- Keep a pitcher of water on the table at all times so that guests can cleanse their palettes in between wines and rinse their glasses between pours.

- Serving plain bread and plain crackers is a great way for guests to cleanse their palettes as well.

- Keep a bucket on the table so that guests may discard any undesirable wine between pours.

- Serve 2 ounces of wine per glass, per tasting for each type of wine.

- Above all else, have fun!!!
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Thirsty Thursday: White Wine Spritzers

Craving that glass of wine but trying to cut calories? Opt for a wine spritzer. It's a refreshing twist on your usual glass of wine.


WHITE WINE SPRITZER (Yields 1 cocktail)


Ingredients
Ice cubes
1/2 cup white wine such as sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio
1/4 cup plain seltzer
Ice cubes
Lemon slices
Lime slices

Preparation
1. Fill a large stem glass or a highball glass with ice.
2. Pour the wine into the glass.
3. Add the seltzer.
4. Top with lemon and lime slices.

If desired, gently squeeze citrus slices into the drink before adding.

Cheers!
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Wordless Wednesday: Candy Lipstick

How's this for a blast from the past?

When I saw these at Wegmans the other day, so many memories came flooding back. I was a little girl again pretending to apply the lipstick that I so desperately wanted to wear but was too young.

My girls were jumping up and down begging me to buy them. How could I resist?

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Adora® Calcium Supplement Review & Giveaway

Did you know that roughly 10 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis? The majority of those 10 million are women. Females fall short on calcium intake by as much as 20%. The recommended daily calcium intake for women is 1,000 mg, but most women typically get between 500 mg and 700 mg per day, putting them at risk for osteoporosis.

My mother suffered from osteoporosis, and I often worry that I, too, will be diagnosed at one point in my life. By the time we reach our 30s, we stop naturally building bone mass, and we start to lose it. Exercise and weight training can counteract this natural process of decline, but sometimes we need more in the form of a supplement. I do exercise, but because I don't eat a lot of foods that are calcium-dense, I must take a supplement to achieve the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of calcium.

Talk to your female friends about calcium supplements, and you're likely to be met with wrinkled noses. Yeah, calcium supplements are anything but sexy. I've tried many calcium supplements over the years, but I've never found one that "wowed" me. They are either too chalky, too large, too mushy, or just plain tasteless.

Fortunately, there's a tasty new way to get your calcium and satisfy your chocolate cravings. Yes, I  just went there...calcium and chocolate together! And I've finally been "wowed"!

Adora® Calcium Supplement is rich, premium all-natural chocolate that takes the daily dose of calcium taking to a whole new level. Rather than dreading taking your daily calcium supplement, you'll be looking forward to it when it's Adora®. My favorite is the dark chocolate...so smooth and creamy.

Each indulgent disk has only 30 calories per serving and provides up to 50% of the RDA. Plus, each serving includes vitamin D3 and magnesium for optimal absorption of calcium. In conjunction with a well-balanced diet, vitamin D and adequate calcium intake may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Quick Facts about Adora®
  • Antioxidants from all-natural premium chocolate
  • Available in milk and dark chocolate
  • Only 30 calories to support weight loss goals
  • Gluten free
  • High quality USP-grade calcium carbonate, vitamin D3, and magnesium
  • A smooth, easy to digest consistency
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • Stringent manufacturing process regulated by the FDA
  • MSRP: $7.99 - $9.99
  • For complete nutritional information, click here.
  • Available at Vitamin Shoppe, Whole Foods, and other national retailers.


Pieces of a Mom is giving away 2 bags of Adora® supplements (one milk chocolate and one dark chocolate with 30 disks in each) to one lucky reader.

How do you enter? You have several options, and each will count as one entry (as long as you've followed the specific instructions listed below). This giveaway is limited to US residents 18 years old and above only. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 pm EDT, July 5, 2012. One winner will be chosen via Random.org and notified by email. Winner will have 24 hours to respond to claim the prize. If winner fails to do so within the allotted time frame, a new winner will be chosen.

1. Required: Please comment to let me know why you'd like to try 
Adora®.

2. {Optional} Follow Pieces of a Mom on Twitter. Leave a comment stating that you do so.

3. {Optional} Tweet this message: “Hope I win the Adora calcium supplements giveaway from @PiecesofaMom 
http://bit.ly/MPMCYX . #contest #giveaway. Pls RT”. Leave a comment stating that you tweeted. Include your Twitter handle.

For more information about Adora®, visit the Facebook page.

To stay in the loop of Pieces of Mom's giveaways, please "like" our Facebook page.

Notes:
Adora® supplements contains milk.
Adora® supplements are processed on equipment that processes tree nuts.


This giveaway is listed on contestgirl.com.

Disclosure: I was given complimentary packages of both the milk chocolate and dark chocolate Adora® Calcium Supplements to facilitate this review. I was not compensated monetarily. All opinions are my own.

By entering this giveaway, you agree to the rules and regulations noted above.




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Meatless Monday: Pesto Pasta with Mozzarella & Tomatoes

It's tough to get motivated to cook when the temperatures soar. This recipe requires little more than chopping some fresh ingredients and boiling water to cook pasta. Easy peasy and so delicious. Whip up a batch for dinner this week, serve on the side of grilled meats, or take it to a bar-b-que. Either way, it's a hit!

Fresh Pesto with Pasta

Ingredients:
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
8 ounces fresh bocconcini (bite-sized mozzarella cheese balls)
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound pasta, preferably campanelle, cellentani or rotini

For the pesto:
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup pine nuts
3 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup olive oil

Preparation:

1. Combine tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Let stand about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to marinate.

2. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

3. To prepare pesto: mince garlic in a food processor. Add pine nuts, basil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and process until smooth. Add Parmesan cheese and process until smooth. 

4. With the food processor running, add 1 cup olive oil and process until smooth.

5. Toss tomato mixture with pasta and 3/4 cup of basil pesto. Combine well. Serve chilled or at room temperature.


*Leftover pesto can be refrigerated up to one week or frozen up to 3 months.

Note: I grow my own basil during the summer months. It's much more cost effective than buying it at the grocery store where it can cost up to $4 per bunch. It's super easy to grow and to maintain and has a million uses.

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Summer Bucket List Challenge {Link Up with Life Without Pink}

Every summer seems to come and go in a flash. Before I know it, summer is a fleeting memory, and I am packing lunches for the first day of school.

Every summer we have a list of things we'd like to do, places we'd like to go. We verbalize our wishes, and more often than not, the first time we speak of it is the last. :(

But this summer, we've vowed that things will be different. From little things we can do on a whim to day trips that require planning, we've got it covered!

I am linking up with one of my best bloggy buddies, Tina at Life Without Pink. She has created a list that I know will keep her and her boys super busy and super happy this summer. Be sure to visit Tina's challenge and if you've got a list of your own, link it up!

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were relaxing on the deck as he cooked dinner on the grill and the girls played in the yard. We took turns naming something that we'd each like to do this summer. We went round the circle several times until we had a complete list.

Here it is!

For more inspiration for your own list, check out Life Without Pink's linkup.

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Friday Fun: GNO Mom's Wine Tasting

Two weeks ago the moms from Harper's kindergarten class got together for a wine tasting. It was the first time that we came together as a group outside of school activities or birthday parties.

What a fun way to get to know each other and get to know wine!

Our organizer and hostess, Whitney, asked each of us to bring a different type of red wine. If we had a particular favorite, we were encouraged to bring it. Otherwise, we could randomly choose a wine from her list of varietals.

We decided on a blind tasting. Whitney kindly provided a printout with tasting notes for each varietal, but the contents of each bottle were top secret!

Ladies who wine!

Laughter was plentiful.

The big reveal!

It was unanimous. We had 2 favorites.

Wine #2 - Simi Cabernet Sauvignon, more info here.

Wine #8 - DaVinci Chianti, more info here.

If you're looking for a fun way to get together with a new group of friends, a wine tasting is perfect. Whether you are a wine enthusiast or a novice, a blind tasting is can be fun and educational for everyone.

Check back next week when I'll be posting tips on organizing and hosting your own wine tasting.
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Wordless Wednesday: Beach Shadows

The setting sun made for great beach shadows.





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WINNER - Stonyfield YoKids Lunch Sack Giveaway

CONGRATULATIONS TO TRISH!

She's the lucky winner of the Stonyfield Farm YoKids lunch sack filled with eco-friendly goodies.


You're going to love it, Trish!
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Friday Fun: This Week's Top 5 "Pin" Picks

This week while frantically searching for a recipe for turtle cupcakes on Pinterest, I was easily sucked in. Before I knew it, I had pinned about 30 items, none of which was the turtle cupcakes. Oops!

I found some really fantastic stuff and just had to share.

1. Party Decorations
This is a must for my next party!

2. Lands' End Canvas dress
How fabulously casual is this dress. I. Want. It. Now!

3. Fabric Magnetic Board made from a cookie sheet
OMG! I seriously think I'm going to try to make this board this coming week.

4. Stone Fruit Sangria
Yeah. I'll be mixing up a batch of this over the weekend.

5. Banana Split Bites
These are the perfect treat for a summer barbecue.

Are you on Pinterest? If so, stop by and follow me, and I'll follow you back!

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First Days and Last Days (of School)

Today was the last day of school. I expected my girls to bound out of bed, excited for summer vacation to begin. Instead of looking forward to the endless possibilities of the summer that lay ahead, they were looking backwards, looking at a school year that passed all too quickly...in their minds.

Tears were shed. Hugs were given to comfort, but in the end, I couldn't take the sadness away. I felt helpless.

Neither of my children was ready to say goodbye to this school year.

Teachers will sadly be missed.

Friends will be seen but certainly not often enough.

But a summer awaits us. New adventures to be had. And when it's over, another school year will begin. New teachers. New friends. New experiences.




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100 Things To Do This Summer

School will be out for the summer starting tomorrow. I'm hoping to stave off a favorite summer saying, "I'm bored", with this list.

Filled with all things small, large, and in-between, this list contains lots of fun things to do when you've got a few minutes to spare or a whole day to play.


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Ladida: Unique Clothes for Unique Kids

Ladida is a boutique based in New Jersey that offers a wide range of boutique kids clothing and accessories for babies and children through size 12.


The Ladida collection has been carefully selected from designers all over the world and with careful consideration to the latest designs and styles. Ladida features a collection of brands that appeal to a variety of tastes and styles. Some brands are chosen because of the quirkiness. Others are chosen based on their whimsical styles and patterns.

One thing has remained consistent: Ladida has remained loyal to its customer base by delivering the fashion and design desires of its customers. Now that's customer service!

If you are looking for designer children's clothing, Ladida is your source for the most stylish and highest quality fashions for children. You can find designers such as 3 pommes, Marie Chantal, Anais & I, Eva & Oli, and Louis Louise. Ladida is constantly expanding its collection to include the hottest designers and the hottest looks. If you want your child to be a fashion trendsetter, look no further than Ladida.

Ladida is about natural and organic fabrics, both understated and bold graphics, muted tones and bright colors. Ladida is about making a fashion statement while being comfortable.

Be sure to check out Ladida on Facebook too!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions expressed herein are solely mine and were not influenced by the sponsor.

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Wordless Wednesday: Rainbow

You can never see too many rainbows. On Sunday, following a thunderstorm was a huge burst of sunshine which resulted in this beauty.



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Two Days in my Life: Field Day Fun

Last week the girls had field day at their school. I am so fortunate to be able to sneak away from working at home to catch their school events. But I have to admit that work suffered last week when I attended field day events two days in a row. I was awake two nights in a row until 2 am trying to meet deadlines, and my personal blog...well, 2 posts last week was weak.

But to be there to capture these moments was all worth it.








Do you have fond memories of your elementary school field days? I loved the camaraderie.
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Giveaway: Stonyfield YoKids Eco-friendly Lunch Sack Filled with Goodies

Summer means fresh, locally grown strawberries. After we've picked our strawberries, we'll make everything from strawberry pie to jams to muffins.

In honor of all things strawberries, I am giving away a Stonyfield YoKids eco-friendly lunch sack filled with strawberry-flavored goodies!


YoKids lunch sack is filled with several Tom's of Maine products including a full 4.2 oz tube of Silly Strawberry children's toothpaste, as well as samples of their Naturally Dry deodorant and Daily Moisture soap.  The bag also includes YoKids and YoKids Greek yogurt coupons, YoKids temporary tattoos, and YoKids Strawberry-flavored Eco Lips chapstick!

There's lots of good stuff packed in that sack! You could be the lucky winner.

How do you enter? You have several options, and each will count as one entry (as long as you've followed the specific instructions listed below). This giveaway is limited to US residents 18 years old and above only. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 pm EDT, June 11, 2012. One winner will be chosen via Random.org and notified by email. Winner will have 24 hours to respond to claim the prize. If winner fails to do so within the allotted time frame, a new winner will be chosen.

1. Required: Please comment to let me know if you've ever tried any of the products featured in the YoKids eco-friendly sack. Be sure to include your email address so that I may easily contact you if you are the winner.

2. {Optional} Follow Stonyfield Farm on Twitter. Leave a comment stating that you do so.

4. {Optional} "Like" Stonyfield Farm on Facebook. Leave a comment stating that you do so.

5. {Optional} Follow Pieces of a Mom on Twitter. Leave a comment stating that you do so.

6. {Optional} Tweet this message: “Hope I win the @Stonyfield YoKids eco-friendly sack and goodies giveaway from @PiecesofaMom 
bit.ly/JHmISR. #contest #giveaway”. Leave a comment stating that you tweeted. Include your Twitter handle.

7. {Optional} "Like" Pieces of a Mom on Facebook. Leave a comment stating that you do so.


Disclosure: To facilitate this giveaway, Stonyfield provided me with a complimentary YoKids lunch sack and its contents. I was not compensated for this review or to offer the giveaway. All opinions expressed herein are solely mine.
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Help Kids Graduate with Taco Bell and Mark Wahlberg


What did you worry about in high school? Was it your hair? What boys you liked... and liked you back? Was it your grades, or getting into a good college?

What if you had to worry about where you were going to sleep that night? Or if there would be food on the dinner table for your family?

Not every kid gets to focus on school like we did. In fact, three out of 10 kids in America never graduate high school.

Mona Dixon could have been one of those three kids. As 10-year-0ld living on the street, Mona could barely think about school because she was constantly worrying about where she would sleep, if her family would be safe, and where she would get her next meal.

Mona found the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and through the Taco Bell Graduate to Go program, she got the resources and help she needed to succeed.

Today, Mona helps other kids overcome their challenges.

Graduate to Go Helps Kids Stay in School and Succeed

The Taco Bell Foundation for Teens serves more than 100,000 teens and awards more than 350 grants and scholarships each year.

Through their Graduate to Go initiative, the Foundation support includes the Graduate to Go Multi-Media Studios, Graduate to Go Business Camp, and National Keystone leadership program at 1,600 Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide.

Actor/Producer Mark Wahlberg, the Graduate to Go ambassador for the third consecutive year, is helping the project, and will appear in a national TV with Mona Dixon, who was helped by the Graduate to Go program through her involvement with the Club.

Wahlberg also continues to support teens through his Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation.
How You Can Help Kids Graduate to Go

Girls' Lunch Out is honored to work with the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens and the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation to help kids graduate high school.

Please join us and help raise money and awareness for this amazing cause!

When: Tuesday, June 5th at 9pm EST

Hosts: Follow @girlslunchout

Hashtag: #GraduateToGo


Prizes: We will be showering Twitter party attendees with gift cards!

Help spread the word and Tweet this message out:

Support @TacoBell and @mark_wahlberg to help kids #GraduateToGo on 6/5 at 9pmET with @girlslunchout http://bit.ly/LOGLDb

Other ways you can get involved:

"Like" the custom-designed graduation caps created by Boys & Girls Club teens that will be posted on the Taco Bell Facebook page.

Share Mark Wahlberg's new TV commercial, featuring inspiring teen, Mona Dixon.
For every tweet or retweet with the #GraduateToGo hashtag, Taco Bell will donate $5 to the cause.

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  Winners will be chosen randomly from those that have RSVP'd and participate during the party.
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