Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

The weekend is almost here. What are your plans?

My parents are coming into town from Seattle tomorrow afternoon. I am very much looking forward to it. My dad loves an English pub so no doubt I’ll be taking him out for a beer & burger as soon as he touches down. My mum is excited to see the countryside and otherwise just loves hanging around London. The itinerary is somewhat open for their trip at this stage (I did manage to get them tickets to Book of Mormon on Wednesday afternoon) so do let me know if you have any favourite haunts that I should pass on.

Oh yeah, it’s also my last weekend as a 32-year-old. Sunday I’m having a nice little drinks gathering – I reserved the old wine cellar in the oldest wine bar in London for the whole day. Um AWESOME. Friends are coming from all around London and I couldn’t be more excited to have mum and dad there as well. Even though its tough getting older – I really like being 32 – I am happy to take the step into another year.

To celebrate, I will be tasting a few gems and some old favourites. Not sure exactly what I will pick at this stage but one thing is certain: In my cellar there is a Grand Cru Burgundy with my 33rd Birthday written all over it.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Friday awesomeness



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The singer/songwriter/DJ Imogen Heap has always made me dream of London. When I was  24, I could think of nothing more fantastic that to live and work in London – mainly to be near a boy that I thought I was in love with. London represented everything I felt I should be experiencing in my twenties: long commutes, no money, teeny apartments, weird roommates, broke friends, long nights with lots of booze.

This song in particular caught me every time and whirled me into a daydream about what my life would be like when I finally got to London – falling in love, making excuses to stay together longer, rainy nights remedied through open fires and warm cuddles.

Now that I live in London and have experienced a different side of this dream, it still strikes a chord. It feels more like a song of happy chances and taking risks. Or not. I’m older and more, ahh…seasoned shall we say…but I still love this song. I have been to see Imogen twice, once in London’s Albert Hall. She’s brilliant. She forever reminds me of a hopeful, if slightly naive, time in my life.

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I always get a bit nostalgic in September and October.

It reminds me of starting a school year with new clothes, new classes and new things to learn. Everyone seems full of buzz for the possibilities that lie ahead. As I have gotten older I’ve become more nostalgic rather than buzzed. Thinking more about my Christmas holidays (and shopping) and counting the days until I can have my first eggnog latte from Caribou Coffee in Minneapolis.

This year is different. This year I have a feeling of momentum. Momentum building around me and under me and propelling me forward. Anyone with me? For quite a while now I have been standing on a fence. I climbed the fence this time last year when I held my first wine tasting in my flat in London. I had 11 lovely people humour me by listening to my driveling on about wine. I was in heaven.

Unfortunately, I stopped doing it.

Spring came around and I took a ‘break’ to focus on my day job. I took on a wider role at work and started doing longer days and working on the weekend. That left very little time to prepare and deliver tastings. I now find myself 4 months later and missing the buzz. That buzz didn’t really come from putting on wine tastings though. It came from taking a risk and doing something that I loved. Showing myself that I could be more and do more with my skills than I was  working behind a desk.

I read this article the other day and it just hit me. I gave up. I gave up right as I was gaining momentum:

“Think right now about something you keep stopping. You committed to it, but then you suddenly quit because it started to require a little extra elbow grease. A project at work, a relationship, a fitness goal. Remember why you started it, then push onward. Because the more you stop and think about quitting, the longer it’ll take to get to your desired result. Or worse, you’ll never know what it feels like to reach the finish line.”

full article here

But luckily that momentum has come back. Maybe its nature telling me that I am turning yet another year older in a few days and if I’m going to do something different, the time to start is now. So here we go…again.

I’m still looking forward to my first eggnog latte though. Yum.

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My next wine tasting is coming up in a few weeks on March 17th from 5 – 7PM and spaces are booking up fast – sign up now to reserve your space! If you haven’t come to a tasting before, they are hosted out of my home in Battersea (right near the park). You will be welcomed with a glass of sparkling (or perhaps mulled cider to be on theme) and invited to sit down by the fire.

We will be tasting some lovely wines paired with Irish specialties like salt beef (aka corned beef), strong cheddar cheese and some sort of lovely potato dish – because you can’t have an Irish party without potatoes! We will finish off with my two favourite Irish spirits: Hennessy and Baileys. Before you say it, I know that Hennessy isn’t Irish but its Irish to me! If you come to the tasting, I will tell you why. For those of you that love a good sing-a-long, we’ll have some catchy Irish pub songs playing in the background during the evening (guitars, aspiring singers and musicians are welcome!).

Future dates are posted as well and sign ups are welcome. Get in touch if you have any ideas or suggestions – they are welcomed and appreciated.



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Love: Wine Aerobics

[New post] OTBN_ The Cure for Conspicuous Non-Consumption - kristenmarshall@gmail.com - Gmail-1


Pridefully stolen from The Wine Economist to brighten up your Thursday.

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I spent the holidays this year with my sister and parents in Minnesota. My sister has moved her family there recently and they have bought a beautiful house in Minnetonka. It was snowy and gorgeous – even though its not the same as Seattle, I felt at home in the icy cold.

In preparation for my trip, I tried out Last Call Wines for the first time to purchase some luxurious wines for greatly discounted prices. I found a Chateau Tanunda Shiraz and a Chilean Carmenere – both were big, bold and IN-YOUR-FACE. I was pleasantly surprised by the Carmenere in particular – which was more balanced and smooth than the Shiraz (too heavy on the oak and the alcohol was quite pronounced). Unfortunately or fortunately – I completely zoned out and never took a picture of the Carmenere but I do have a photo of the wines that we enjoyed on Christmas day (includes a photo of the Shiraz). The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the picture were purchased by my sister and her husband while they were wine tasting near San Diego. Both were lovely and true to character.



And to tell the rest of the story of the holidays, I’ve included a few pictures – which describe the experience better than words. Winter walks, cookie making and my nephews playing around.

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My 71 year old dad and I went sledding one day after it has snowed a bit the night before. It was icy and pretty rough but my dad handled it like a champ. I however ended up with a ton of bruises and after a spectacular slip while walking on the ice, a really sore head!

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Christmas morning my parents and I loaded up the car and made our way over to my sister’s place for the festivities! Did I mention this was at 6:30 in the morning??

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I hope you and yours had a lovely holiday season. Now on to 2013…

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Make love your goal

How much do I love the 2012 John Lewis ad for Christmas? A lot. And you should too. Yes, its admittedly cheesy and seems to be constantly on the TV…but who can honestly resist Mr & Mrs Snowman?! Not this softy.
For those of you not in the UK, please enjoy the video below. The UK rocks when it comes to Christmas commercials….

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Today I am having a few of my lovely American friends over for a last-minute-but-amazing potluck Thanksgiving feast. I have already started the planning (you might say, but the dinner is TODAY and you’re not done planning?) and am about to run off to the shops to pick up some lovely bits & bats to complete my dishes. I have offered to make Baked Camembert with balsamic onions, Cornbread & sausage stuffing, Mushroom & truffle gravy and slow cooked Mulled wine…get excited!

And my wine choices for today….

This Cheval-Blanc Signe is one that I’ve wanted to write about for a while – Its a tener from Whole Foods and is SPEC-tacular. Nice solid Cabernet with a certain sophistication that belies the price tag. Absolutely perfect for a foodie feast with friends.
I’ll post some more pics as people arrive with their food (and their wine!!)

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I love this time of year. Who can resist mulled wine, warm fires, cozy sweaters and cold evenings? Not this girl. The whole season kicked off for me this week. I met a friend at the Southbank Winter Festival on Monday evening where we ate hog roast, drank hot wine (wasn’t really mulled…but they tried) and bought Chrissie presents (for ourselves mainly…).

On Sunday I’m having ten of my closest friends in London over for a Thanksgiving feast-ival. Thanksgiving is all about bringing people together, making a potluck with lots of warm and very fattening food and drinking wine, brandy and really anything else you can get your hands on. My contributions to the feast this year will be hot-pot mulled wine and a warm cheese dish (of some sort…). One of my friends has a smoker (yes, he immediately went out and bought it when he moved to London from Texas a few months back…I don’t think they have a can opener but by goodness they must have a smoker!) so we will have proper Texan smoked ham. Another friend is from South Carolina and will be contributing her families sweet potato dish of deliciousness. Everyone has their favourites.

I’m going to break out a few bottles of my French Burgundy that I picked up during my trip in October. I’m excited to see how it goes with all the gorgeous homemade foods. Mostly I’m just excited about having people I love in my home: dancing, chatting, laughing and preparing ourselves for the silly season ahead. I really do love this time of year.

Recommendations for Thanksgiving wines: 
Prosecco is a must. As I always say – any one will do – just pick dry or extra dry. If you like sweet – an Asti would be gorgeous as an aperitif. I added a dash of port to my sparkling last weekend for my tasting and made it a cocktail – yum! Plus its pretty…

Pinot Noir is always a good bet. Ned Pinot Noir, NZ (£10) is a perfect selection.

Port for dessert is very Thanksgiving. That said, a good Botrytis wine could go brilliantly. This one sounds perfect: A Sticky End Noble Sauvignon Blanc (£16)

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LOVE: Grampy & me


This is my maternal grandfather, Robert (aka Grampy), who lived until the ripe old age of 96. He lived in a grand little house in Los Angeles up until the very end and as a child it was my absolute favourite place to explore. He worked for the railway, had four children and ate chili once a week, every week of his adult life. When my sister and I were toddlers, he built us an outdoor ‘kitchen’ in his backyard complete with crockery and cabinets. Its no surprise that my sister turned out to be an incredible baker after all of the amazing mud cakes we served up! I’m sure I was somehow building my wine passion during those years of hosting ‘mud’ meals as well…

This picture is from a visit my Grampy made when I was just under a year old and when I saw it yesterday, it made me cry. Thanks to my mom for all her hard work in researching our family’s ancestry and sending along photos like this one.

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