Holiday How To: Wine Tasting

Several months ago I won a dinner at Habitat restaurant in Pittsburgh, Pa and because Alex would be leaving soon I decided to take her out to dinner there. Habitat is a fairly upscale restaurant that serves local, (mostly) organic dishes, and being upstairs from a small jazz bar where the music drifts up into the restaurant, it was a rather lovely experience. Alex and my’s waiter at Habitat turned out to be a former bar owner and when we ordered a bottle of wine he uncorked it for us and had me smell the cork and taste the wine before pouring a glass. I asked what the purpose of smelling the cork was (I wasn’t as wine savvy as I thought). His answer was very educational and because this was new news to Alex and me I thought it might be helpful for the rest of you as well. Hopefully you can use this to show off your wine savvy knowledge at your next holiday dinner party.

After ordering a bottle of wine, the waiter should show you the label on the bottle. This is for you to make sure that it is the wine you ordered and that the year is what you expect it to be.


The waiter should then uncork the bottle at the table you that you can watch and be sure that no part of the cork flakes off into the bottle. After the cork is pulled, the cork should be offered to you in order to sniff. As odd as this may feel or look the purpose of this is probably the most important part of the wine tasting process. When you look at the end of the cork that was touching the wine, it should appear wet, or damp. This tells you that the wine has been stored properly and the cork remained expanded and no air was let into the bottle. While smelling the cork you should be looking to make sure there is no hint of mildew or anything out of the ordinary. If anything does not smell quite right about the wine mention it to the waiter and either try another bottle of the same wine or move on to option two.



If everything smells and looks ok with the cork the next step is to taste test the wine. The waiter should pour a small amount of wine into your glass, which you will swirl gently, smell, and sip. Swirling the wine helps to aerate the wine, bringing out more of the flavors. Smelling the wine (especially while you sip) brings in more of your senses to allow you to experience more of the flavors of the wine as well. If all looks and tastes good: Enjoy!

If you’re hosting a wine party at home, I always like to have a bunch of wine glass charms that people can choose from to add a little something special and fun to the party and let’s everyone remember which glass is who’s.

I hope everyone has a wonderful and festive holiday season and enjoy being classy with you wine!


Coming Full Circle: the end of an emotional adventure

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about my “relationship” troubles. Honestly it’s been because since it ended I’ve been trying to keep busy in order to move on and not be so sad. A couple of weeks ago I learned about the new girl that, the person I had been seeing, dumped me for. It hurt and I was angry and wished nothing but emotional hurt for him even though this girl sounded perfect for him. I hated that I wasn’t her and I couldn’t stop wondering what is was that was wrong with me when he had nothing negative to say about me when he ended whatever it was that we had.

Over the course of about two or three weeks I went from complete breakdowns two or three times a week to complete anger to being ok with seeing him (we have to work together most days so seeing him is unavoidable) but being completely terrified of the possibility of running into him and this new girl around town. That is until this afternoon.

This afternoon I went facebook snooping against my better judgment and while my heart was racing at what I would find I was actually relieved and then a little annoyed to see what I found. First of all I do not find this girl cute in any way. Her pictures are weird and she comes off as someone I would find really annoying, nothing about her says she is someone I would want to spend my time getting to know. Even the pictures of the two of them together are weird and unattractive and I feel like he looks like someone completely different from who I knew. So that’s a good thing I guess. But I also feel as though I’ve lost even more respect for him now as a person and I’m not really sure why. About 90% of the attraction I still held for him is now vanished in a heartbeat and the thought of seeing these two together no longer terrifies me but makes me want to make sure that, if I ever do, I really rub it in their faces just how much better I am than her (this is my evil side coming out).

Talking with my co-blogger via texting during this we came to the conclusion that this guy must just really want to be the center of attention with his new physique and (what I figure is) a new or re-discovered sense of confidence. I know for a fact that while I was with this person his friends would complement me and tell him that he had a great girl and how if they weren’t already in relationships they would try to take me away from him, I was that attractive (or whatever word they may have used as an equivalent). This to me sounds like all the more reason to be proud to be with me and should have made him confident in himself because he should have known that I, as an attractive woman, wanted to be with only him. Apparently he went the other way. To us (Christa and Alex) it appears that he did not want to compete with his friends and would rather be with someone less attractive because it’s safer. This is another reason I have lost respect for him whether this is the true case or not.

I feel bad for him that I’ve made up my mind about him this way so easily, but for me it’s the best possible thing I could have done. Now I’m only a little concerned about how I’m going to act around him feeling the way I do. And I have found myself, already, wondering why he acted, or at least it felt like he acted, so differently with me than with this current girl and with other people. I see him as being silly and a little obnoxious with other people but with me I remember him being rather subdued and serious and comfortable for the most part, in being that way even though we still had silly moments and had fun, it was different than what I see him doing now. There are obviously multiple ways I can dissect this and I don’t know that I should. I should probably just let it go since there is nothing I can do about it now. I just really want to know what is and was going through his head with me. Maybe I was a little too intense for him and this girl is just “fun” like I thought I was, but seeing from a new perspective now, perhaps I wasn’t or I changed at some point for him.

Whatever the case, I still really think that he’s just confused (he did start seeing me not long after being dumped by his fiance….Woah!) But it’s clear now that he really must not be who I thought he was and as much as I want to say it’s his loss for not falling for me I know I’m better off without him, because if I was special to him I wouldn’t have had to go through the pain of knowing that I was sharing him with other girls. I know I’m better than that. And one day I’ll find someone better than him and experience the happiness that I deserve.

For as much stress and anxiety I’ve put myself through the last few weeks over the thought of how I would react at seeing this person I had had feelings for moving on I’m really glad I went against my better judgment to quell those fears before letting myself get too worked up over it.


Pretty Vintage Ladies Playing Their Ukuleles

As you might have caught on to by now, I am kinda obsessed with playing the ukulele. For the majority of my life I’ve been playing various musical instruments, but the ukulele is the only string instrument I can play (as of right now at least!). It was a weird experience for me to learn how to play chords and melodies using strings rather than by pressing keys, but now I can’t stop. And it’s a lot more of a mobile instrument than my piano! Anyway, I was fiddling around on the internet today and started stumbling upon all these beautiful early to mid-1900 photographs of ukulele players, and just had to share some of them. Many of the blogs and other websites I found them didn’t include much data about the photographs themselves, and after doing some Googling I couldn’t turn up much either, so that’s the only downfall. Enjoy!

Famous Ukulele Ladies:

Greta Garbo in 1925

Doris Day

Gloria Swanson

Joni Mitchell

Marilyn Monroe

Another Marilyn

Betty Page, rocking the pin-up ukulele look.

Mia Farrow

Shirley Temple

I’m not sure who the woman is, but she is getting a lesson from one of the best! Cliff Edwards, a.k.a. Ukulele Ike AND the voice of Jiminy Cricket!

And a bunch of fun, vintage ukulele ladies:

Two young girls goofing off

Group of women playing ukulele on the beach, taken around 1925.

This is my favorite photo. Flapper modeling with a ukulele, c. 1920.

Just strumming in some lingerie.

Left handed ukulele player. “Lest you forget.” Aren’t the colors in this photo interesting?

Again, with the ukeing in the lingerie! Printed in a 1950s magazine ad.

Professional shot of a young starlet.

What I wouldn’t give to be skipping around on the beach with my friends, a ukulele and a parasol.

Girls clearly can use their musical talents to lure in unsuspecting young men, too, c. 1938.

I don’t know how it’s possible to look so glum playing a uke, but she’s working it, c. 1945.

Swoon. She’s looking easy, breezy playing ukulele on the porch.

I have close to zero understanding of what is going on in this photograph, but it is cracking me up.

“You should have heard the music.” What a bittersweet message.

Girls playing uke on a park bench in their swimsuits. Taken on July 9, 1926 in Washington, DC. The girls are identified in the caption of a similar photo as Elaine Griggs, Virginia Hunter, Mary Kaminsky, Dorothy Kelly and Hazel Brown.
This is also the only image on the Library of Congress’ website that features girls with ukuleles (or at least, the only one that is searchable, and has been digitized). [, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA]

Printed in the New York Tribune, September 14, 1919.

The Boswell Sisters

Music book, “Oh How She Could Play A Ukulele.”

All-American Girl

A Norman Rockwell Illustration

And, just because I happen to be a huge fan, I had to include this one I found of goofball Buster Keaton:

Oh, to live during this time! (And what a beautiful photograph, at that).