Rain and Wine: Two of My Favorite Things (But Not Necessarily Rain IN Wine)

(This was written this morning, but I ran out of time to spell check and edit before having to head inside….And I was waiting on a few pictures (ahem, Aaron).  So, just pretend that you were reading this 5 hours ago for optimum effect!)

I am currently sitting outside in the perfect, cool, overcast early morning doing my blog catch up.  We had another fantastic, slow drizzle last night, so everything smells dewy and rainy (try topping that scent description, Pottery Barn!).  Add the yummy chai flavored coffee that I discovered at Trader Joe’s, and you get an Amy who has no desire to head inside to get ready for work.  I wonder if I could work from home today…

*Also, just a point of clarification.  When I said my long run this weekend was within my goal pace, I definitely did not mean that I ran it at my marathon goal pace.  I ran it at my long run goal pace which right now is between 1 minute and 90 seconds slower than my marathon pace (by the end I want it to be between 30 seconds and 1 minute slower).  This is the first long run of marathon training that I’ve actually hit those numbers, so I’m really excited, however I’m not quite cool enough to be running 14 miles at an 8 minute mile pace without actually being in a race situation.

This past weekend we headed up to Santa Fe for the Santa Fe Wine Festival.  If you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of wine.  We have two local wine festivals that we go to every year.  The New Mexico Wine Festival is the next town over from Albuquerque during Labor Day weekend, and is the largest in the state.

But our favorite is the Santa Fe Wine Festival held over 4th of July weekend.  It is much smaller, but the lines are shorter, and the servers are usually actually the vinters as opposed to help hired off craigslist who wouldn’t know a dry red vs. a sweet red if it bit them in the face.  I wish I was kidding.  New Mexico is actually the oldest wine region in the country. Before Napa, little monks were growing and fermenting here way back in the early 1600’s.  Most wineries here still are family owned and have that “quaint” feeling as opposed to the ones in Napa that herd you in on guided tours (not that I’m complaining…I love Napa and Sonoma.  I’ll hang out at the Chandon complex anyday!).

I wrote an extensive post with lots of pictures of both the Santa Fe Wine Festival and the living history museum that hosts it last year, so I didn’t feel the need to go picture crazy this year.  We also didn’t buy any bottles since we’re still working on the 4 cases we bid on during the silent auction last month.

{We were pretty “wined” out, so we got glasses of bubbly}

After the wine festival, we were hungry, so we headed to a microbrewery near our house to get some grub.  The ladies next to us asked the server which beer was closest to Bud Light.  In a microbrewery.  Now, as far as running goes, I am 100% supportive of everyone and the journey they are on.  Fast, slow, short races, ultra distances, whatever.  I am excited for each and every one of you and where you are at.  But, if you ask for something that tastes like Bud Light at a microbrewery, oh my goodness I will go beer snob on you.  Might as well go to a Wolfgang Puck restaurant and ask for the thing on the menu that tastes most like a Big Mac (This may not be the best comparison…I’ve never actually been to a Wolfgang Puck  restaurant.  For all I know, they could offer something that tastes like a Big Mac).

I let out my rage on Facebook (which in retrospect, wasn’t the most classy thing I could have done, but at least people agreed with me!). For the record, if Bud Light is your drink of choice, more power to you.  I myself was a fan in college.  But maybe don’t advertise it at a place where someone has made it their life’s work produce something much better…and maybe try some of the good stuff every once in awhile.

Later, that same lady said something about the lack of domestics on the beer list.  Because beer brewed in the next room definitely isn’t domestic.

We took a picture of them, but I decided that it probably was a good idea not to post it lest they be part of the mafia.

SIGH. I’m fun to be around, I promise.

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Last night Aaron and I suited up and took Giuseppe for a run/walk in the rain.  I knew I wanted to vary it up a bit yesterday after all the running I did this weekend, so we walked around the neighborhood, let the puppy splash in the puddles, then found our way to the park to jog around the perimeter before heading back home.  Aaron splurged on some of that K-T tape because he’s willing to try just about anything right now to get back in the running game (you should see the arsenal of homeopathic products he’s been putting on his foot).  It is supposed to stay on for 4 days (good, since it is pretty pricey), and we definitely put it to the test by running around in the rain!  It might not help, but at least it stayed sticky.  Jogging on the grass also seemed to be more comfortable for his foot than jogging on the pavement.

We were soaked! You can see the one little dry spot on Aaron.

Eventually, we think we’d like to settle down somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.  Even though I LOVE my sunshine and warm weather, I’ve been really craving a rainy climate lately.  I think becoming a runner has made me appreciate cooler/less barren desert places. And I get really jealous anytime one of you posts pictures of your green, lake/beach side runs.  Anyone want to give us jobs in Portland or Seattle?

I finished out the remaining .8 miles of the 3 on the treadmill which actually worked out pretty well.  I got a good combination of walking, running, and splashing into my workout!

It looks like we have one more day of rain before the temps start heating up and drying out again.  But this Tuesday morning has been perfect.

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Drinking Wine, Playing with the Camera, and Pot Shopping

Saturday was National Drink Wine Day!

I honestly don’t know how such an important holiday went under my radar for this long (though it is quite possible that this was the first ever National Drink Wine Day), but luckily I was informed with enough time to celebrate adequately. 

Would I have drunk some wine on Saturday anyway?  Most likely.  Is drinking wine more fun when you are obligated by decree of a national holiday? I think yes.

Saturday was one of the nicest days Albuquerque has seen since fall.  We had blue skies, perfect springtime temperatures, and no wind (unlike today). 

We started out the day with a 6 mile kick-off run. After a month-long break, we have a 10 miler in March and a half-marathon in April to start getting ready for.

Then we headed to our favorite winery hangout, Casa Rondena (where we did our grape harvest and stomp last September), did a quick tasting, then shared a bottle of Meritage in the vineyard. 

The property is beautiful (well, right now the vines themselves aren’t so fabulous). Almost like having a little bit of Napa here in the desert. A friend is thinking about doing her wedding here which will be quite lovely.

I sat back and enjoyed the afternoon while Aaron fiddled with our camera, experimenting with different colors, soft focus, and who knows what (two months after getting the camera, I’m still using auto setting).  I asked him to figure out how to make retro looking pictures.  I think we’re getting closer. At least we’re more aware of the possibilities. Someday, we will understand what all those little icons mean.

{Auto -Setting Aaron}

{Soft-Focus Amy}

{Warm-Toned Amy}

{High-Contrast Amy}

{High Speed Wine Pouring}

{Playing with shadows}

This morning when we were downloading the pictures onto the computer, we noticed that there was a smudge on our lense.  So almost every picture has a little blurry spot. Either that, or we had a little winery ghost following us around. In any case, picture-taking fail.

{HUGE left hand side smudge}

After visiting the winery, Aaron was in a good mood.  I was happily surprised when he pulled into the Jackalope parking lot and offered to buy me a pot for our living room.

A couple of January’s ago, in order to fill the Christmas Tree void, we bought a palm tree type plant, but it has been living in an uninspired, plastic, planter. I’ve been talking about getting a prettier one for a while.

Jackalope is the perfect place to go pot shopping because they have a huge selection.  Plus, you can pretend to be a cultured tourist browsing in a foreign Mercado (they have “global” music blaring in the background) but without the ability to bargain over the price. 

I’m in love with our new pot.  It has just the right amount of imperfections to make it charmingly authentic, and I think it fits well in our living room.

So this weekend has me excited for Springtime.  Being able to hang out outside on a Saturday afternoon and enjoying the New Mexico landscape only made me more anxious for warmer weather.  But first, we’ll have to deal with a few more months of unpredictable storm systems and lots of wind.

My I Love Lucy Grape Stomping Moment

I love wine, I love wineries, I love the history and culture associated with grapes and vineyards.   I’ve wanted to stomp on grapes a la I Love Lucy since I watched a rerun more than 20 years ago (before I even knew what wine was I’m sure).

So, two weekends ago, Aaron and I volunteered our Sunday morning to help the nice people at Casa Rondena pick their grapes in exchange for free wine.

We got to the winery nice and early and we were handed a bucket and a knife with a quick reminder that the grapes we picked would actually go into bottles of wine.  In other words, if we picked the wrong grapes, we’d be drinking bad wine next year.  No pressure.

We picked and we picked and we gathered and we gathered.  I sliced my finger a few times (think of that the next time you drink up), and then we poured the grapes into large bins (rather, Aaron poured the grapes into large bins).

The grapes are poured into a big machine where they are squished and pressed, releasing all the juices (and hopefully straining out all the ants and spiders that were ALL OVER).  The liquid is pumped into large metal barrels where they ferment into the wine we know and love.

No grape harvest would be complete without the traditional wine stomp.  This is kind of the whole reason I volunteered to pick grapes all morning. Before you start grossing out over drinking my toe juice, you should know that this is completely ceremonial, and this juice doesn’t get put into any wine (at least that is what they told us…).  Also, men’s feet aren’t allowed.  I don’t know if it is because men’s feet tend to be dirtier or if men are less pure and squish less desireable wine, but for whatever reason, Aaron was not allowed into the bit vat of grapes (though he definitely tried).

 

Getting intimately aquianted with the wine process from vine to glass was extraordinary.  Knowing what goes into each bottle makes it taste a little sweeter if you are able to forget about sliced fingers, ants, spiders, and dirt.  I helped create a wine experience for someone else in the future which is both a little terrifying and completely satisfying.  And I’m pretty sure I need to open a winery now!

Wine, History, Friends, Family and No Fireworks Whatsoever

Northern New Mexico Landscape

Well, the glorious 3-day weekend is officially over and dead,  and (thankfully) the work week is already half way done, but I’m just now downloading pictures and sitting down at the computer to think about it.   Because we were off in Jamaica for Memorial Day weekend, this is really the first 3 days that we’ve had at home since February, so we had a nice relaxing weekend.

We started off on Saturday by heading up to Santa Fe.  Because our puppy is still too little to be left alone for long periods of time, we left Giuseppe with his new friend Romeo (and I use the term “friend” rather loosely since apparently they had half an hour of friend time and about 5 of unfriend time).  Romeo is the new dog recently adopted by my parents and sisters.  He is a Peka-tzu  and he isn’t used to such white furball bundles of energy.  I think Giuseppe’s playful attitude may have been too much for poor Romeo to handle as evidenced by his mid-play asthma attack.  Giuseppe is having another Romeo playdate tomorrow which will hopefully go better.

While Giuseppe was hanging out with my family, Aaron and I drove up to the Santa Fe Wine Festival.  We almost always go to the Labor Day New Mexico Wine Festival but we don’t usually make it out to this one because it is smaller and in a big dirt area, not to mention that Santa Fe wine people tend to be a bit pretentious (think Fraiser, but more hippy).   

Aaron purchasing a bottle that will soon break through the bottom of the bag and shatter...

Aaron and I take our wine festivals pretty seriously. We normally take notes and hold up the tasting line to talk to the staff about their selections, and then we buy a lot of bottles.

 

The festival was held at Ranchos de las Golandrinas which is a “living history” museum showcasing everyday life on the 1800’s New Mexican frontier. American Girl Josephina’s world is actually based on this museum. Neither Aaron nor I have been since elementary school, so we took a walk around. The docents weren’t out, so we didn’t really learn anything, but the old buildings are always fun to look at.

 

Of course 4th of July was on Monday. Because fireworks and extreme drought conditions don’t mix and similarly because fireworks and timid baby puppies don’t mix, we didn’t partake in the usually festivities, but we did take a cue from our Jamaican vacation and drink some “American flag” drinks (equal parts daiquiri and pina colada mix, dark rum to top it off, and a splash of blue Curacao).

 

As is the case after any 3 day weekend, returning back to work yesterday was slightly painful, especially because I will be going crazy until next Thursday when the job fair I am organizing is over. But, I did get one last “weekend moment” last night when I got to hang out with friend Ariela and her husband James. Ariela and I were friends in high school, but she has since moved to Portland and only comes back home on occasion. Always nice to see old friends and to see that they are happy and doing well.