Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The State of the Grape

Do you ever notice how one idea will lead to another?  This one is comes from the previous post.  “The State of the Grape” will be a monthly post with an update on the family muscadine grape vine.  Maybe boring, but fun for me and since I might be the only one reading this…it’s all about what I want to write/read.

yes there is a vine in there
Well as you can tell from this picture there seems to be 2 stray trees trying to grow up through the middle of the vine.  Paul is going to be taking care of that in the next week or so.  I love trees but these have to go. 

As far as the vine is concerned, it looks to be doing very well.  It's running all down the fence up all over the structure that the neighbors put up for it. 

I guess all I can say about it now is that it is dormant for winter and will be coming back to life in the spring.

If I had only shown this image, you might never have known the true state of the vine but then I would be acting like a politician.  I felt that the whole truth was best. 

Hopefully next month the trees will be gone and we can see the entire vine.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

ideas and innovations

It’s all about ideas and innovations.  But without time and money it seems that these two things are a bit harder to achieve.  Maybe not the ideas.  Those are the free part.  The hard part is the innovation which takes experimentation which is where the funds are needed.  Time is another challenge.  With a full time job to support the funds needed for the experimentation/innovations time for the experimentation/innovations is limited.  Thus I wait.  I do the small things that build up to the big things.  I outline.  I keep notes.  I plan (in my head, thus the need for the note taking.)  I research.  I wait.  
Speaking of waiting, I can’t wait for my parent’s muscadine grape vine to produce grapes this year.  I used to eat the grapes from this vine as a kid.  It is over 30 years old.  It wasn’t tended to properly as a grape vine, just allowed to do it’s natural meandering up and down a chain link fence.  I never really thought much about the vine as a kid, it was just always there.  I never even conceived of making wine from it.  It wasn’t until around 2000 when I took a trip to the Lakeridge Winery did I even think about this grape as anything other than just a vine in my backyard that I ate grapes from.  So now that I’m making mead, I’m excited to pair the grapes with the mead in what is called pyment.  Here’s my dilemma.  I tend to fuss with things and I’m having a really hard time not fussing with the vine.  I know nothing about viniculture.  If I start messing with it I’m afraid I’ll kill it or ruin it.  I keep telling myself to just leave it alone.  It has been there for over 30 years without my intervention, it doesn’t need me now.  Let me tell you, I’m so very excited.  Can’t ya tell?  I feel like I found a hidden treasure in an attic only this one is in a backyard.  Back to the ideas.  One idea (depending on the yield) is to do two versions of muscadine pyment.  1 using some grapes at the peak of ripeness (not a proper phrase I’m sure), and 1 using grapes that are a little past peak.  I’m wondering if like some dessert wine which use grapes that are overripe because of the concentration of sugars, I wonder if using these in mead will have the same effect.  With ideas come concerns.  I’m debating with myself over the juicing options.  Three options that I can think of.  Two of which are very similar.  First, putting the grapes threw the juicer.  Second, mashing up the grapes.  Third, mashing the grapes and then boiling.  I’m a little concerned with the boiling thing, I don’t boil anything in my mead so I just don’t want to go that route.  Idea juice or Idea mash?  Keeping in mind that I will have limited supply of grapes so I have to decide one way or the other.  
I could go on and on but I'm tired and will not bore you any longer.


Friday, January 14, 2011

My Perfection

9 months ago yesterday I give birth to the most amazing little gift.  A gift weighing 6 lbs 10 oz.  A gift with no hair and a small birth mark on his right hip.  A gift with navy blue eyes (yes, they are now brown).  A gift that has given me and my husband the craziest, funniest, lovingest, most tiredest nine months of our entire life.  

My son James David has been the single most important thing I have ever done.  He is my perfection.  I tell him every night that he is my perfection.  The most perfect thing that I ever created.  You know that I’m a creative person and I can find fault in anything that I make, but not this creation.  Maybe because it a creation made between two people who love each other very much that manifest itself with perfection.  

Enough sappy, here’s an update.  Here is what he is doing at 9 months.

He can tell a story from the heart.  His stories of adventure are complete with sound effects and water works.  

He sleeps hard and parties harder.  Much like his mom he does not want his days of fun to end and squeezes every minute out the day before drifting off to sleep.  

He has the best smile and uses it to hook the ladies.  Enough said, you know the one.

He loves to be around lots of people.  Much like his daddy he is a social butterfly and enjoys chatting it up with all his friends.  

He keeps us on our toes.  He is a crawling, scooting, and rolling master.  Nothing it out of bounds now, well except the stuff that is higher than 3 feet. 

He eats.  And eats.  And eats.  And eats.  He enjoys his food, all of it.  

He is so silly.  Just watch him with a blanket.  He puts it over his head and flails his arms and legs.  When you peek under the blanket he gives you a huge smile and pulls the blanket back over his head.  Just silliness.  

He has the best laugh I have ever heard.  The big belly laugh that gets me and everyone around him laughing.  

He can give the best morning smile.  Never mind that the morning smile is at 5:45am, it is still perfect and lights up my day.  

I could go on and on about my Nugget, but I won’t.  Just know that he is my perfect 9 month old and I’ve love every minute of the past 9 months.  The good and the bad.  


Sunday, January 9, 2011

image is sweeter than me

I've been trying to write this post for 2 days now.  I don't know why it is so hard for me to write.  I'm almost considering just not posting but I think that I really need to tackle this challenge.  I'm trying to address the misconceptions about mead.  I want to address the renaissance fair, hippy, sweet wine image of mead. 
Here's the thing.  Contrary to what most wine and beer lovers would like to believe most evidence shows that mead was the first fermented beverage.  Sorry, but it's true. 

And another thing, mead does not have to be sweet.  Just like wine it can be syrupy sweet or dirt dry.  Did ya know that?

Also, it's not just for ren fairs and hippys.  Although fun to have at ren fairs, it can be just as sophisticated and refined as wine.

So, here's is the thing.  Because as I've said before I have a tendency to have these grand ideas.  You know the one where I own a meadery and make award winning meads.  You know that one. **ahem**   Well, I've been thinking that to get to that point I'm going to need to change opinions and misconceptions about mead.  Not only make a tasty product and a variety of products but change the preconceived ideas about mead.  Would I be up to this challenge?  I think so.  I like to educate people.  Of course this means I need to make sure to thoroughly educate myself.   Speaking of, here is an interesting little article Mead, drink of vikings, comes out of dark ages just written in December. 

Let's see, where to go from here.  Yes, I will be trying to educate myself and others about mead, but also I would like to change up some standard mead techniques.  There are several things that are done as a standard way of brewing, but I would like to switch it up.  I've got ideas.  I've got no one to tell me "no" so we will see what happens. 

I can only find one thing wrong with everything meadery...it takes at least 9 months for mead to be ready to drink.  Even then, waiting a year would be even better.  Geesssh, I hate to wait. 

Oh, I think what I'm going to try to do this week is draw and color my own label.  We'll see what happens with that.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

vino wino

FYI - This is not a resolution.  Just so we are clear.  However this post is a declaration of a goal. 

It is my goal to visit 5 wineries in the coming year.  That is my goal, but I don't know how practical that will but so fine print reads: "or at lease purchase and taste wine from 5 wineries that I would have liked to visit in the SE region of the United States but due to financial restrictions could only afford to buy a couple bottles of wine."
It is also my goal to attend 3 wine tastings, not counting the tastings at the wineries. 

I've picked out the wineries I'm interesting in visiting.  3 in Florida and 2 in Georgia (we plan on vacationing in Georgia in April).  The wineries are:

I've listed these in likely hood of visitation.  Let's just say that I will most probably be ordering wine from the last two. 

As far as tastings are concerned, these will be done locally and maybe with groups of friends.  Hopefully with groups of friends, I think that would be really fun.  Ooh, I would also like to throw a couple of wine tasting parties. 

So yes, the vino is a new obsession, and not for intoxication purposes.  For instance, I just tried a wine that had the obvious "hey I contain alcohol" and I'm about to pour it down the drain.  I've even allowed it to breath and open up.  Still not good.  This is a good place for a wine review using my very unorthodox terms and young palette. 

First wine review by Julie Ford...how exciting (for me and nobody else I'm sure).

Brand: the Little Penguin - Shiraz
Price: $5 (2 for $10)
Year: 2009
I know, I'm such a sucker for a cute label and name and I'm such a nubie that I'll buy a $5 wine and then expect good things.  First impression: burn.  I felt like I was sniffing everclear liquor.  The taste was not bad, there was a fruitiness that wasn't bad, but then the alcohol burn on the back end.  This is what I mean by the "i contain alcohol" statement.  This just hit me with alcohol burn.  I opened and let it breath for over an hour.  Still burn, a little less and I tasted other nice fruit flavors.  But then burn.  Maybe this wine just needs some time on the shelf to mellow out, maybe in another year I'll try the 2009 again.  I still have another bottle of a white (can't remember which).  Here's hopping it doesn't scream alcohol too. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome to 2011

Sitting here and thinking about what to write about for my first post in 2011.  Do I reflect on 2010?  Do I write about my wishes for 2011?  Do I list out a bunch of resolutions for 2011?  So much pressure to write a thought provoking insightful post on the first day of the year.  This might be more pressure than I can handle as I've only had 4 hours of sleep.  

So I'm going to share what I've been thinking about all day.  The future.  My plans and hopes for the future. 

I'll start with family and friends.  I think my biggest hope for the coming year is to make more time for family and friends.  Although it's hard when I think of how busy we are with Nugget.  But, with every challenge there is a solution.  I also hope to work on myself as it relates to family and friends.  Try not to be as quick to judge and put up shields.  I had a reason and I had circumstances that brought me to this point.  Mainly it was a form of preventing hurt and protecting myself.  This has resulted in people not know who I am.  They know who I want them to know.  The parts of me I want to people to know.  It's not about lying, it's about keeping my shields up.  Aside from that I hope to be able to build loving, supportive, and compassionate relationships that I've avoided up to now. 

I've also thought a lot today about things I like to do.  Photography.  Mead making.  Cooking.  Reading.  Knitting.  How do I work these things into my life while not taking away from anything else.  For instance, how do I make it out to the Photography club meeting without taking about from Nugget's bedtime (which I've missed twice since he has been born).  This is when I have to ask myself, "is it really going to hurt Nuggy to miss 1, 2, even 3 bedtimes in a month"?  Really?  As much as it pains me to say...it's not going to hurt him.  It may hurt me, but not him.  And to knit, brew up some mead or cook doesn't take time away from Nuggy especially when he is playing within eyesight.  Now that he plays a lot more one his own.

I've also been thinking a lot about money today.  Who wants to think about these things on the first day of the year?  Nobody, but I did.  Without going too much into is personal subject, my hope is to have a sizable savings by this time next year.  

Okay enough with this retrospective introspective gobblely gook and on to the fun of 2010.  Making plans for 2 vacations this year.  1 for sure, 2nd is a possibility.  Really looking forward to these.  Also looking forward to finishing my family cookbook.  Also excited about Nuggy's first birthday and all that this year has to bring as it relates to him.   

And one final note.  I look forward to sharing the year to come here.  I hope we can start conversations.  I hope we can get to know each other through this meeting place. 

my future's so bright...

Happy 2011