Upcoming Events In Early November

I want to tell you about two exciting, upcoming events!

The first (where I will again be selling my grape juice and jelly) is Sidonia Om Dunia’s Annual Beli Danse Hafla, November 7, 8, and 9 at the Basque Center in Boise, Idaho.

Yes, you read that right, belly dance hafla, pronounced HAH-fluh, from the Arabic “Khafla”, meaning party or get-together.

You knew my mom was a belly dancer right?


Oh, hey, guess what? My mom is a belly dancer.  In fact she is Sidonia Om Dunia, Director of the Beli Danse Academie in Boise.

This is my mom:*


I know.

There are three belly dance performances:  Friday November 7, 7pm to 10pm; Saturday November 8, 2pm to 5pm and an evening show from 7pm to 10pm.

There will also be belly dance workshops and a multicultural bazaar, which is where I will be selling my wares from Friday morning at 10am through Sunday afternoon at 4pm.  Yes, I will be there all weekend AND I have a giveaway so you’ll want to come check it out if you are local.

Find out more information here.

The second event I mentioned in my recap of the Snake River Valley Harvest Festival.  It’s put on by Jessica Wyman and is called Sisterhood Sessions: Find Your Foxy and Live your Wildly Vibrant Life. Jessica will be presenting this weekend, Saturday November 1, from 5pm to 10:30pm at Firehouse No. 6 in Boise, Idaho.  You won’t want to miss hearing from a panel of amazing women who are sure to inspire you to live your best life!

Sisterhood Sessions

I hope to see some of you at these fun events!

*Photo cred: Fred Herinckx

gorgeous sky


I recently returned from a week long vacation in Mazatlan, Mexico and I want to share some of my favorite photos from the trip!  I went with one of my best girlfriends, Amanda, who you may remember from this Champagne tasting, or perhaps In the Kitchen with Ammo.

Here we are!

Me and Ammo

We stayed at Pueblo Bonita Mazatlan.  Here it is from the beach (taken on one of our nightly strolls to walk off our delicious dinner):

Pueblo Bonita Mazatlan

We woke up every day to our beautiful view of one of the pools and the Pacific Ocean:

view from the room

After breakfast we threw on swim suits and spent a good amount of time like this:


And during our pool dips to cool off we spent time at the swim-up-bar.

swim up bar

Speaking of drinking.  Have you ever had a Miami Vice? It’s half Pina Colada and half Strawberry Daiquiri.  YUM.  We had A LOT of those.

I also drank a fair amount of this Mexican wine:

Mexican wine

One evening at dinner I drank the local cerveza that is made in Mazatlan!

Pacifico cerveza

Do you know what goes well with Pacifico? Cactus!  NO REALLY.  I had a bit of cacti topped with carne asada and cheese and it was so good.

carne asada on cactus

We had many delicious meals.  I should have gained weight but I didn’t – yay! One of my favorite meals was at a place in the resort called Angelo’s.  I liked it because our waiter made us Cesar salad at the table! He was amazing with a fork.

Making salad

After dinner we often went back to the pool and watched the sunset.


If you think that watching the sunset night after night gets old or boring then you would be wrong.


It just keeps getting better!

Sun setting from baclony

That might have been the best part of being there.

And also, making new friends.  Like this turtle:

Sam the turtle

And this Flamingo:

Me and Frank the Flamingo

And Roberto:


Roberto helped us when we went zip lining!about to zip line

It was a blast!

zip lining


Did you know that there is such a thing as jungle cactus?

jungle cactus

Cool, huh?

As you can tell, we had a great time.  I brought home a lot of great memories and a tan. Thanks for being such a fun person to travel with Amanda (now let me take a #Selfie)!

beach view


The Book

Book Review – From Scratch: The Uncensored History of the Food Network

I have a confession to make and I bet it is something we have in common.

I love the Food Network.

From Chopped, Barefoot Contessa, Iron Chef and just about everything in between – I can easily lose several hours to the channel if I’m not careful.  Sometimes I like to just have it on when I’m doing chores or messing around online, and I almost always tuned in back when I had a gym membership and was working out.

Given that admission, it’s hardly surprising that I jumped at the chance to review the freshly-out in paperback From Scratch: The Uncensored History of the Food Network by Allen Salkin (Berkley Trade Paperback; Publication Date: October 7, 2014).

The book is a complete history from initial idea to the near present and it is presented by chronicling a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in the corporate cable world.  Chock full of takeovers, firings and hirings, it’s a fascinating story about the sought after survival of “TVFN” as it was known originally, and how it came to be the eventual powerhouse that is the Food Network.

The corporate timeline is used to introduce the many tales of the celebrity chefs we know and love to watch.  Through detailed back stories about numerous Food Network show hosts we get a complete tale of the past, rise to fame and, sometimes, epic fall from grace of just about anyone you can imagine.

It is those juicy tellings that make the book hard to put down and that Mr. Salkin gets right.  For example, the complete history of Iron Chef makes the show much more understandable and whatever happened to Emeril Lagasse is not only spelled out but used as an evolutionary story about how the network has changed over the years.

Oh, and did you know that hardcore porn was shown for a full a minute during the now defunct show Too Hot Tamales as a deliberate act of sabotage?!

I know. I wish I had tuned in back then too.


Okay, so there is the good, and there is the not so good: at 469 pages, the book is sometimes weighed down with details and becomes choppy at times.  I also felt the author assumed his readers were up to date on current political events which pointed me away from the book when I had to google “who is Jill Kelley to David Petraeus” (answer: Ms. Kelley is the woman who reported cyberstalking to the FBI thereby inadvertently launched an investigation into General Petraeus’ infidelity and resulted in his resignation as Director of the CIA (you’re welcome)).   Nor does he define certain wine and cooking terms, which may also alienate some readers.

But these are small blemishes and overall I highly enjoyed the book! I would recommend it to anyone who loves the Food Network and/or television pop culture.

Buy it where books are sold.

The Book

*Disclaimer:  I received a copy of the book From Scratch: The Uncensored History of the Food Network from a publicist for Berkley/NAL, Penguin Random House.  However, no solicitations were made and the review is an honest representation and the opinions are my own.

The new water heater

Water Heater Woes

It all started when Nick asked me, with a confused look in his eye, “Did you spill some water in the basement?”

Um. No.

So we went down to the basement and sure enough, we had wet carpet under our feet.

Water heater leak.

Water Heater Tank Leak

The water heater is located in the closet of our basement utility room.

It was hard to tell how much of the carpet was wet due to its off-white, beigey color.  We pulled it back and the carpet pad revealed the scale of the leak.

Wet Carpet Pad

I spent some time pulling out the soaked carpet pad and then we got box fans out to start the drying process.  I failed to photograph this but the set up was three large box fans in front of chairs with the carpet draped over.  It worked as the carpet did dry in a couple of days.

Onto the larger problem.

After spending some time researching and figuring out where the leak was coming from, Nick determined that it had rusted on the inside, which is a common problem, and the 14-year-old tank needed to be replaced.

Rust Water Leaking

More research ensued.

We settled on this water heater because of its incredible warranty and plastic construction, meaning it won’t ever rust.

With the heater on special order we spent our days showering all over town.  That was fun.  Oh, and boiling water over a hot stove to wash dishes.


Finally the water heater arrived and Nick’s dad, Phil, came over to help replace the tank.

First they drained the tank.

Draining the tank with pump

The hose connected the water heater to a pump and then another hose, which snaked up the stairs, out of the house, across the driveway and over to suitable yard space.

Draining the tank with hose

Then the closet door and right side of the door jamb came off since, unfortunately, the new water heater is just a smidge wider than the clearance.

Taking off the door jamb

Door jamb off

Finally, out with the old!

Out with the old

In with the new!

In with the new

Now all we have to do is refit the door jamb, put down new carpet padding, and reseam the carpet.

As I said on a recent Facebook status update:  I henceforth swear that I shall never again take having a nice hot shower in my own home for granted.

2011 Evohe Tempranillo & Glass

Guest Post – 2011 Evohe Tempranillo

Today I’m happy to introduce guest poster The Desert Wine Guy.  He contacted me a few weeks ago to inquire about doing a blog post exchange.  If you came here by way of The Desert Wine Guy blog then welcome!  Take it away Marc.

In today’s article you will all be let in on on a little secret as well as a little discovery I made, a hidden treasure in the form of a wine I discovered. The discovery I am going to let you in on is that of a grape. You say “so what Desert Wine Guy, that’s why we read your blog anyway“. That is true but this is not just about just any grape or for that matter, just any wine.

Let’s first start with the the Treasure. This treasure I speak of is the 2011 Evohe Tempranillo. To make this treasure a little more precious, I am talking about a wine that sells for $10-$12. You say you’ve never heard of this Vineyard/Winery well that’s O.K. that is one of the reasons it is a treasure and also why we are here. I am here, to expose you to new wines, ideas and news of the wine world and hopefully you are here, discover and to learn from this information.

Now we are on to the the discovery, or a secret. The discovery or secret we are going to discover is the varietal named the Tempranillo. Here is a short run down on this beautiful grape. The Tempranillo, nicknamed “little one” due to it’s early flowering, budding & ripening is actually a Black grape and is Spain’s most popular and famous native grapes. This is a grape that is normally used for blending in deep reds and “Jug Wine”. Don’t let the “Jug Wine thing throw you. This is a grape that, in my opinion people have simply just overlooked. When I first tasted this varietal I was at South Coast Winery in Temecula (Southern) California. I was doing a tasting and this wine was poured along with Cabs and other reds. I was in Heaven quickly and even though the wine was not inexpensive I simply had to buy a bottle. If you are a deep, peppery, spicy red then you have hit pay dirt here. You can take your secret and discovery, to the store and  buy a bottle of the 2011 Evohe Tempranillo today and impress your friends tomorrow.

The idea of Evohe Winery began in 2006 when three wine lovers Ricardo Mosteo, Henrik Heikel and Alfonso Mort got together and decided to “share the wisdom of generations of winemakers”. The Vineyard/Winery is located in Aragon, Spain. The winery itself was actually built in 1912 and uses the fact that there are natural concrete deposits to keep the wine cool while fermentation to it’s advantage by making a great wine. The wine also uses wild yeasts that occur naturally in the grapes. The weather in Aragon is very dry and therefore gets very little rain. According to Evohe Vineyards this along with the big temperature swings ensure that the vines that do survive are strong and produce only the best grapes for wine. Evohe Vineyards makes three varietals of wine such as a Grenache, a Tempranillo and a Sparkling (brut) Wine.

Now for the moment you have been waiting for, the review. Let’s begin at the beginning with the pour. This wine is a dark purplish in color but seems to darken around the edges of the wine while it rests in the glass and tends to become a deep, rich looking enticing red. It was both visually appealing to see the deep red and at the same time made it even more appetizing. Unlike most deep, rich red wines there is no oak used in making this wine. A deep red without oak, interesting. The bouquet of the wine was peppery and did have the aroma of oak even though, as I said there is none that touches the wine. Let’s step deeper into this wine by getting to the heart of this review which, of course is how it tastes in your mouth. Happily this is a classic Tempranillo, spicy peppery, black current, cocoa. The first flavor that came to my palate was that of blackberry which was followed closely on the heels of a moderate amount of black current. If that isn’t a great combination there is more to follow. How about a touch of pepper with some cranberry thrown is for good measure? If this isn’t sounding like a complex wine that should be costing more that $10 you are right. Tasting this wine is like tasting a nice, dark, red  powerhouse of a wine that comes across as if it were in your cellar for years, aging and becoming nearly perfect. The black current mixing in with the spice really, I think sets this wine off. The wine is simply smooth, elegant and delicious. Hold on though this review isn’t over just yet, no this wine is not done. The wine also opens up a little and brings a little cocoa along with it for good measure. The cocoa doesn’t linger too long but it’s presence is definitely felt in the wine. I think it might even add to a sense of softening of the wine just before you swallow. If you are starting to feel as if you are in need of a glass of this wine as you read this article don’t feel bad you are not alone. I am wishing I had a bottle with me right now, or at least one in the cellar along with one to put away. There is most definitely a lot going on in this wine and you would think that there is so much going on that it would be overpowering but you would be wrong. This is what a good Tempranillo should taste like and the reason I fell in love with the grape in the first place. I am so infatuated with this grape that if I wasn’t growing two different varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon & Sauvignon Blanc) right now or if I had room for a third I would be purchasing some vines come springtime. This grape is known to be a challenge to grow but the way the 2011 Evohe Tempranillo expresses this varietal so wonderfully makes you just want to go out and want to at the very least grow the grape. I think the 2011 Evohe Tempranillo has done a lot to advance this grape as a standalone grape. I highly recommend that if you have never had a Tempranillo that you start off with this wine so that you get a feel of what the varietal is supposed to, or can taste like like if time is taken with it. Before ending this review there is one last thing I wanted to throw out there that makes this wine unique. As I stated earlier, Tempranillo has been used as a blending grape but was rarely ever attempted as a standalone wine, at least in this country. Lately there are two wines that I have tasted that are 100% Tempranillo this happens to be one of them, the second being the 2011 ST AMANT Tempranillo that I have a review pending on.

To sum this all up in a nutshell. The 2011 Evohe Tempranillo represents the varietal very well. The wine is put together very well and makes for a wonderful wine to enjoy a great porterhouse or rib eye steak with special company.  Then again you might just want to keep this wine our little secret.

On The Desert Wine Guy rating scale I give this wine 93 points.

The Desert Wine Guy




This is a special review for me because this is my first guest blog I’ve ever been part of and I am very grateful to Michelle Leonardson the owner of WineDineDIY.com who was adventurous enough to take up me up on the invite of actually doing a guest blog. Michelle is going to send me an article she will write for her own site (WineDineDIY.com) and I will put it up on my Blog. I have to say, Michelle is one of the few Bloggers that I have contacted with this invite who is confident enough in her ability and online presence to branch out of her comfort zone and open her world up to other wine lovers. There have been a few wine writers who have websites whom I have contacted who rejected the idea of swapping articles for whatever reason. Perhaps they forgot that they started small at one time as well and they were given opportunities to expand by people who were also adventures and were able to “think outside the box” so to speak as Michelle is. Once again thanks Michelle.