So simple! How to open wine like a pro using a wine key!

‘Tis the season for drinking a lot of corked goodies. Let’s be honest, when is it not? Make this season special by learning to use a true wine key and ditch the giant corkscrew you have taking up space in your kitchen. Your friends and mom will be so impressed with your newfound skill, they might just start buying you wine just to see you do it again. Let us show you how to open a bottle of wine in four quick, easy steps:

1. Pull out the small blade near the top of the wine key. Gently place near the top of the bottle where there is a lip. Holding the blade in one hand and the bottle in another, slice through the wrapping by rotating the bottle 360 degrees. Now, you should be able to use the blade to gently lift off the wrapping covering the cork. Close blade.

2. Next, open the wine key so that it forms a “T.” Hold the wine key in your hand so that the corkscrew aligns with your middle finger. Place the first edge (not the point) of the corkscrew on the edge of the bottle at 90 degrees, then lift straight up and down. If you do this, you will be centered (important so that you do not break the cork).

3. Screw the corkscrew all the way into the cork. This allows you to have the best grip possible on the cork, preventing breakage.

4. Now, on the side of the corkscrew that has two notches, press that down to be parallel with the corkscrew. The top notch should touch or be close to touching the top of the wine bottle. If you have to press it down a bit to make it touch, that’s okay. Put pressure on that notch so that it pulls the corkscrew (and cork!) out of the wine. It won’t come all the way out at this point, but pull as far as you are able.

5. Switch to the bottom notch on the wine key and have that touching the top of the wine bottle. Put pressure on the second notch and gently pull the cork out of the wine bottle. You did it! Save your cork- you may not finish the wine (ha! Who am I kidding?) Save your cork to commemorate your new fancy skill. Cheers!

P.S. This Castle Rock Pinot Noir is my absolute fave and Food & Wine agrees.

ESPRESSO VODKA STEAMER

Grown up hot chocolate: Espresso Vodka Steamer

I will be totally candid here—–we drink a fair share of espresso flavored vodka in the winter. We don’t mind spending our Saturday nights playing Farkle and trying to stay awake late enough to watch SNL. Right when the yawns start to kick in we whip up a batch of Espresso Vodka Steamers and take Walter over to the prairie reserve for a quick romp in the snow. By the time we get home we’re caffeinated, warmed up, and ready for whatever weirdness Kate McKinnon has up her sleeve (she’s my favorite). Here’s the recipe:

Espresso Vodka Steamer

Splash of aztec chocolate bitters
1 oz. three olives triple shot espresso flavored vodka
1 oz. Irish cream
8 oz. freshly brewed coffee
Marshmallows to garnish

Add the bitters to the bottom of a coffee mug (I love my clear ones, above, which you can purchase here), add the espresso vodka and Irish cream. Slowly pour coffee into the mixture until the cup is full. Top with marshmallows (roast them for extra goodness) and enjoy!

A round up of books to put on your winter reading list.

‘Tis the season to curl up with a good book and the fireplace (or a candle, if fireplaces are in short supply). I’ve read several great books recently but unfortunately not enough to entirely fill up this season’s round-up, so I enlisted the helpful opinions of lots of smart people to offer additional suggestions. Here are some books for you to read this winter:

1. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing ($16.99) – If you ever feel like your life is just too full of clutter, this international bestseller will help you to mend your ways, leaving you more organized and inspired to decrease the clutter in every aspect of your life.

2. Daily Rituals: How Artists Work ($16.57) – This book takes an interesting look at how artists (past and present) maneuver on a daily basis in order to complete their work. It makes you realize the sacrifices that some people have to make in order to get their work out into the world.  Read more and buy it here.

3. Cloud Atlas ($16.00) –  One of my smartest friends suggested this read from David Mitchell. This sci-fi book is summarized as weaving history, science, suspense, humor and pathos through six loosely related narratives. Read more and buy it here.

4. Tinkers ($14.95) – What can I say…..my reading list took kind of a dark and ominous turn this fall, but I really enjoyed Tinkers, which will make you question death, eternal life, and everything in between. Read more and buy it here.

5. All the Light we Cannot See ($16.20) – A love story that takes place in occupied France during WWII.  A friend said that this book was not an easy read….but one to be savored and enjoyed. Sounds like all the makings of a good winter read to me. Read more and buy it here.

6. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage ($15.99) - If you’ve ever written anything, this book will both amuse and inspire you. Written by critically acclaimed author Ann Patchett (author of Bel Canto and State of Wonder, among others), the book is a collection of stories giving us a glimpse into her life as a writer and all that comes along with it- relationships, hard work and her journey into owning a bookstore. Read more and buy it here.

7. Being Mortal ($26.00) – Will go down as one of the most influential books I’ve read in my 29 years. It’s an important read if you have an ailing loved one or work in the medical field. I started reading this book when my Grandma went into hospice care and it opened my eyes to the issues we face with medicine, healthcare, aging and helping loved ones through death. Read more and buy it here.

8. The Escape ($28.00) –  On the bestseller list for the past three weeks, this is the crime novel of the season. This is the third book in a group about a special agent in the U.S. Army, John Puller. It follows John as he deals with the prison break of his older brother. Read more and buy it here.

9. The Gone-Away World ($15.95) – If you enjoyed The Lovely Bones or can’t get enough of the Serial Podcast you’ll get a lot of enjoyment out of this read. This book is set in Ohio in the 1970s and follows the murder of Asian-American teenager Lydia Lee. Read more and buy it here.

10. Remainder ($15.95) – The synopsis sums this book up as “A man is severely injured in a mysterious accident, receives an outrageous sum in legal compensation, and has no idea what to do with it.” Intriguing, no? A friend called it bizarre but very enjoyable. Read more and buy it here.

11. Road to Valor ($15.00) – Recommended to me by a friend who knows of my love for Unbroken (one of the best books I’ve ever read). She said fans of Unbroken would really enjoy this book, so I’m anxious to get my hands on it. Read more and buy it here.

12. Still Life with Bread Crumbs ($16.00) – This book follows famous photographer Rebecca as she leaves Manhattan and pieces her life back together in upstate New York. Read more and buy it here.

13. The First Phone Call from Heaven ($15.99) – Seems like this book is everywhere and it’s definitely on my reading list. From Amazon: “One morning in the small town of Coldwater, Michigan, the phones start ringing. The voices say they are calling from heaven. Is it the greatest miracle ever? Or some cruel hoax? As news of these strange calls spreads, outsiders flock to Coldwater to be a part of it.” Read more and buy it here.

14. The Martian ($15.00) – Imagine being the first person to walk on Mars, but then being abandoned there after your team has to evacuate. The Martian follows astronaut Mark Watney as he attempts to survive in Mars’ unforgiving environment. Read more and buy it here.

15. Orphan Train ($14.99) – This one has long been on my “to-do” read list but a friend’s recent recommendation might move it to the top. Orphan Train gets so much praise that I’m ashamed I haven’t read it yet! Ordering it right….now. Read more and buy it here.

Check out my other posts in this series:


Books to Read this Fall


Books to Read this Summer.

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Do it Now

"One day you will wake up and there won't be any more time to do the things you've always wanted. Do it now." - Paulo Coelho

This weekend we did a completely spontaneous road trip. We happened to have 4 episodes of the Serial Podcast (so good) saved up and were anxious to listen to them. We had a lot of fun setting up a few rules for the roadtrip, and after  5 hours of driving we ended up in Davenport, Iowa. We grabbed a room at the historic Hotel Blackhawk (so beautiful) and spent the evening checking out the bars, breweries and casinos in Davenport. On Sunday we stopped by Breitbach’s in Balltown, Iowa. This restaurant was featured in the documentary Spinning Plates (watch it on Netflix here) and it lived up to all the hype—-we even saw Mike! Anyways—-this weekend’s spontaneity was a reminder to live in the moment. Each and every day can be amazing if you let it.

Created using a watercolor background done by hand and Caviar Dreams, a free front from DaFont.com.

(You may reuse the image above, please credit the image to Thyme is Honey or @Thyme_is_Honey on Instagram & Twitter.)

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Cinnamon Roll Pretzels - Thyme is Honey

I totally get on the baking bandwagon this time of year, but I think it’s nice to have some things that take a little less time and effort too, especially if you have a lot of people to give cookies to! These cinnamon roll pretzels are like a big, sweet, crunchy hug that you won’t be able to stop eating (sorry about that). Place the pretzels in a big bowl for your holiday get-together or wrap up in cute little individual bags to hand out to your friends. Either way, make sure to save some for yourself. P.S. I would not object to using dark chocolate instead of white or mixing in some festive holiday-colored candies.

Cinnamon Roll Pretzels

16 oz. pretzels (I use Snyder’s Snaps)
2/3 C coconut oil
1/3 C pure cane sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 C pure cane sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup white chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Pour pretzels into a large bowl.

Melt coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Add 1/3 C sugar and 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and mix together. Now, pour the oil-sugar-cinnamon mixture over the pretzels and stir them until they are evenly coated.

Place coated pretzels on a baking sheet (I used 2 so that I could get even layers). Bake pretzels for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together 1/4 C sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon and melt the white chocolate in 30-second intervals in the microwave (stir each time- my chocolate took 90 seconds to be completely melted).

Take the pretzels out of the oven and sprinkle with additional cinnamon & sugar mixture to your liking. With a rubber spatula, spoon or fork, drizzle the melted white chocolate over the pretzels. The more the better! Those pieces with big globs of white chocolate? Gold. Let white chocolate harden and place in a big bowl or in individual bags to hand out. Enjoy! – Jaimie

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