Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Washington wine tasting

Washington State has a lot of great wineries. The grapes are grown out in Yakama and the Columbia River Valley - 3-4 hrs away, but lots of wineries have places you can go for tastings in Woodinville, about 30 minutes from Seattle. Some (like Chateau Ste Michelle) are super fancy and quite large. At the Chateau, they actually make all their white wines and have tours, tastings, a B&B, and even several large event venues. But if you aren't too drunk to drive after Chateau Ste Michelle, you will find about a dozen more smaller wineries that are even better.

Two weekends ago, some friends took us on a wine tasting in Woodinville. We went to Chateau, then to Brian Carter winery, Efeste and Di Stefano. By Di Stefano, some of us (ahem) were quite tipsy from an afternoon of drinking. Di Stefano was having a big to-do for a spring wine release, with free tastings and snacks and even fancy chocolate. We loved their wine and bought three bottles, but later I wondered if maybe it wouldn't be as good as I remembered.  

Last night, we broke open one of the bottles and it WAS as good as I remembered! It was divine!!

Tomorrow, I will be BIKING out to the Chateau Ste Michelle for a bike ride sponsored by the Red Hook Brewery right across the street (the Haut Ash bike ride). It will be ~40 miles round trip, with a big party in the middle. Fortunately if I can't make it back I have a back-up plan - call the Studly Hubby to come pick me up, and wait for him at one of the wineries nearby.

Travel by portkey

When Harry Potter travels by portkey, the feeling is described as having a hook somewhere behind the navel and being pulled to the destination, and that's exactly what happened to me last weekend, except I was pulled through time, from Friday to Monday. 

Friday night we went to see the new Star Trek movie, which was AWESOME (see post, below). Saturday morning I went to yoga, then to work, then to help some friends move who own about three houses worth of stuff (I'm not kidding, we filled up a 26 foot truck twice). Afterwards we stayed at their new house and had a nice twilight dinner on their back porch. The next day I got up early to go for a long bike ride in the gorgeous weather we've been having (which turned to muck during the week and has resumed again this weekend). After that I came home, ate some food, went back to work, then picked up a friend that's in town for a conference and caught up with her all evening. Fortunately she wasn't demanding and we had a really nice dinner and relaxing cup of tea back at our house before we dropped her off again late Sunday night. 

Monday, I woke up and resumed my wheat-free diet after a week off that included lots and lots of donuts. This time around I am clamping down and getting serious, and it's been very painful (for the 5 days I've been on it). It will be a miracle if I can last 2 weeks. It's the donuts I really miss, and cake. Maybe I can figure out a way to have wheat-free donuts and cake, and make my life a lot easier.

Young Spock is HOT

Have you seen the new Star Trek movie yet?

If you haven't, you should. It's very good. And Young Spock is super-delicious.

Monday, May 04, 2009

The crazy diet

The Studly Hubby and I embarked on a crazy diet (not to lose weight, just to change what we eat) over the last few weeks that has actually been a lot of fun. The goals were to 
1) force ourselves to try out some new recipes that dramatically differ from our normal routine (new ingredients, different balance of foods, etc)
2) try to incorporate more vegetables and less meat and dairy into our regular diet
3) do a 'pseudo' fast to give our digestive system a break (cut out foods that are hard to digest, like wheat and dairy)
4) Check if I have any wheat or dairy allergies, something I have always wondered since I have allergies to a lot of other things

This means: no wheat, no dairy, almost all new recipes, and lots of veggies. We decided at the front that we would continue to eat eggs and fish, thank goodness.

Unfortunately, I cheated a bit - especially with the wheat. Wheat is INCREDIBLY hard to take out of your diet. I realized that I am terrible at actually thinking about what I'm eating before I've eaten it. For example, we had chocolate cake at work to celebrate someone's success and I had hoarked down half a piece before I even paused to think that it probably had dairy AND wheat in it. My vegan co-worker/friend who is clearly a more conscious eater than I am was laughing at me the whole rest of the day. 

What's really bad is, I had another piece the next day (when it wasn't even fresh anymore). 

But in general, over two weeks I did quite well... the only things I cheated with were the two pieces of cake and a butter-soaked hunk of corn-on-the-cob from my favorite restaurant (Paseo), which I couldn't turn down under any circumstances. In both cases I cheated with food that was given to me, so my co-workers were teasing me that I was on a strict eat-what-you-can-find diet.

Strangely, my physical therapist suggested today that I should really think about going off of wheat for a month to see if the persistent inflammation in my back eases up (mild wheat allergies can cause this). I told her I had been off wheat for the past two weeks, and she was really impressed. But then she figured out that I cheated, with the cake, and other foods (did you know that soy sauce and soup can have wheat?). I figured out that I had probably eaten some wheat at least every other day of my 'diet'. She encouraged me to try again, and try harder, and go for longer. So tonight I'm having some donuts to prepare, and tomorrow I will start again. 

In terms of our other goals, the diet was a real success. If you're looking for an eating challenge that is good for both you and the environment, I recommend becoming a vegan or a wheat-free vegan for as long as you can take it. While you're at it, you may lose some weight and feel a little better, who knows?

Vampire Club

A group of us at work have gotten into vampire books (and sci-fi/fantasy in general), and the numbers are increasing every day. It turns out we each own separate sets of books and shows and we discovered that we can loan them to each other and then we all get to benefit. The books/shows that are going around are:

1. Twilight (where it all began)
2. Marked (another teenager-y vampire series)
3. TruBlood, the books (by Charlaine Harris)
4. TruBlood, the HBO show (very good)
5. Anita Blake: vampire hunter series (by Laura Hamilton)

I know I've talked about vampires before, but I just gotta say it again: it's a lot of fun reading these books. And now that a group of my co-workers are into it too, it's even more fun. Not only that, but two of us are in a monthly book club (at the local branch of the library) and we are starting to pass a lot of other books around too. In general, it has dramatically increased my reading level. I now have three open books on my night stand that need my attention. This may be why I haven't been posting on the blog as much lately, but I'm going to try to get caught up...