Black Friday horror

I didn’t even get out of the car and I nearly puked.

My husband saw people camping out in tents when he went into work for Black Friday opening night. Had he not had to work he wouldn’t have ventured out anyway. As it was, I only went out because we had to return library books and make a bank deposit. I didn’t even get out of the car and I nearly puked.

There were wild drivers everywhere, cutting people off, filling up parking spots, and generally acting like idiots. We were cut off three times. My stomach rolled as I clamped onto the side of the car, wishing I’d just decided to make the deposit on Monday, to take the library late fees rather than venture out into this hellish storm of spending.

On Facebook, I noticed about thirty posts where people boasted about their “finds,” yawped on about how much money they saved or how much fun was had, and—get this—how they can’t wait to do it all over again next year.

I cannot imagine wading into that mindless chaos for any thing. No item—I don’t care if it’s a signed book from Neil Gaiman or one of JK Rowling’s ink pens!—would be worth not only the gross consumerism but the over-booking of employees, none of which can request off in retail lest they be fired. Fired. So you can get a “great deal.”

It’s the same in the food industry; when I worked at a restaurant you couldn’t ask off for holidays, either. It was mandatory to work, even if you had children. I’m very glad that I’m not in that industry anymore—but my husband is in retail so we’re still in the whole “holiday work” game.

No, this isn’t his first choice in a career; in fact, it’s the only job he could get after nearly a year of being laid off from his previous, double-paying job, even after applying to several a week. We’ll take it and we’re grateful for it—but is it really worth the holiday chaos during a weekend many have off?

I hope everyone is very happy with the junk they’ll forget in a couple of months, and the things they bought that will undoubtedly go on sale next summer for even cheaper.

You fired up the economy, you insist; it’s all a good thing. If it wasn’t for your commercialism and your need to buy the latest blood diamond or conflict mineral-filled gadget or sweatshop-made outfit for your son, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother, or aunt you only see once a year, the whole country would simply collapse.

Yep. Way to go. Way to participate in the spirit of the season. I’d much rather stay at home and have cocoa in my jammies with my daughter and husband—but he has to work.

Fun in the Sun!

Drinks for the Upcoming Season

Believe it or not, summer is coming! Because of this unseasonably warm winter, I think I’ve begun to start planning for the sunshine and warm temperatures a little earlier than I normally would. I can’t wait to host my family and friends for our annual summer picnic where I will certainly be trying out some of these wonderful new picnic-friendly drink recipes I found!

First up we have a tried and true summer staple:

Sangria

  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup triple sec
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 1/4 cup white sugar (optional)
  • 8 maraschino cherries
  • 2 cups carbonated water (optional)

Sangria doesn’t exactly require a specific recipe and can be changed for your personal tastes, but this is a basic version to get you started. Mix together the brandy, lemon juice, lemonade concentrate, orange juice, red wine, triple sec, and sugar. Float fruit slices and cherries in the mixture. Refrigerate overnight. (For bubbly sangria, add club soda just before serving.)

Beer Margaritas

  • 1 part limeade or 1 can frozen limeade concentrate
  • 1 part tequila
  • 1 part water
  • 1 part beer (we used Corona and it fit in well)
  • ice
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

I wasn’t so sure about this one, until I tried one at a local restaurant while out with some friends. Luckily one of them was a bartender and could help us replicate the drink recipe as best we could. Mix the ingredients together and serve over ice and garnish with the lime wedges.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

The Lake Erie Wine Region

When most people think of American wines, they think of those produced in California. Many people are surprised to discover just how much the wine industry is growing in Northern Ohio, Northwestern Pennsylvania and Western New York.  An abundance of wineries in the area make for wonderful weekend getaways or even a winery tour along the shores of Lake Erie.

There are more than 40,000 acres of grapes being gown in the area and the vintages these wineries are producing are beginning to rival the more celebrated French and Californian wines we all know.  These wines are produced from indigenous types of grapes, as well as, more exotic and important varieties.

The climate of the area has also led to a rise in production of Icewines. These wines are made from grapes left on the vine through the first frost of the season. After being handpicked, they are used to create a truly different and very sweet variety of wine. Typically these wines are produced in quantity in Canada and Germany and the local production leads to a more wallet friendly bottle of Icewine.

Most wineries are open on a daily basis, from mid day through 5 or 6 o’clock in the evening, depending of the individual winery and the time of year. Year-round events, tastings and festivals are scheduled at wineries included along the trail. So the next time you’re looking for a weekend away, look no further than the Lake Erie Wine Region. There are many local wine associations available to help you plan your visit.

Wine Night

In the past few years the troubled economy has kept more people at home, whether it’s for a “staycation” or cooking more and eating out less, people are trying to spread money around their budgets more effectively.  For a lot of us, this means entertaining at home as well, which can be much cheaper and much more fun than a night out at the bar anyway. All you really need are a few good friends, some food and some wine. Honestly, you can even skip the food and just keep the wine and the friends and you instantly have a “Wine Night”.

Start by inviting whomever you wish to partake with and ask them all to bring a bottle of their favorite wine, nothing too pricey or extraordinary (Of course, if they can afford it and want to spread the wealth, then you just can’t do anything about it. Darn you and your bad choice of friends.). As a host you can provide food, additional wine and a place to stay (if necessary). The food you choose to provide could be as wide-ranging as you wish-from simple plates of cheese and grapes up to a full multi-course meal depending on your budget and how well you get around the kitchen. This way the cost of entertaining is split amongst several friends (or couples) and everyone gets to try something new.

A few of my girlfriends and I started having these gathering in college and a recent  wine night led to my discovery of a new favorite Moscato, something I probably would have never discovered on my own.