International Happiness day

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To be honest, I didn’t know this day existed. What a concept…International Happiness day! Whilst we should try and be happy every day, having an ‘international’ day that recognises the importance of being happy is brilliant.

Being happy is sometimes easier said than done. Life throws us challenges and makes us work hard, but having the courage and strength to work through those tough times and still be happy is such a triumph.

I hope you all get a chance to sit back and appreciate the little things in your life today and truly be happy! Enjoy a little wine between friends, or go to the beach, just do something that makes you happy!

Cheers,

Jane

Savings (or lack of)

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So here is the first bit of ‘personal’ information I’m going to share with you. I am not good at saving. Never have been and probably never will be. I like to shop, there I said it. Whilst I don’t live outside my means, I certainly don’t have a huge pile of cash stashed under my mattress. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a thrifty shopper. I love a good bargain and will never spend more on an item than I think it’s worth. But those small $10-$20 purchases add up. So while I may have an amazing array of accessories and a wardrobe I’m very proud of, my savings account is looking very sad and lonely.

This has come to light due to the fact I am heading overseas in exactly 88 days. I’ve never really had a goal like this, so I’ve never really made the effort to save. Yes I want to buy a house but deep down I know it’s not realistic at the moment so I don’t commit to saving. Now I have to knuckle down and do it, I’m even less of a fan.

There are many reasons I don’t love this ‘saving’ lifestyle. I am not very good at doing nothing. I do enjoy sitting on the couch after work watching bad TV with a glass of wine. However I do not enjoy doing this for my whole weekend. I need to be doing something, anything. Once the house is cleaned, shopping done and all my washing is up to date, I am at a loss as to what to do. Normally we would head out for dinner or drinks or maybe go out for a nice lunch. This is all on the ‘no list’ which leaves me wondering… what do I do with all this time?! There are only so many times you can search the internet for something entertaining and we are running out of DVD’s to watch.

I know there are many activities I could engage in that will cost me little to no money, I just need to get in the mind set. Plus the thought of all the shopping and eating out I will be able to do while on my holiday is the best incentive. I feel I will rely on my friends a lot over the next few months to help keep me busy, so friends are warned!

I have to admit though, having all this spare time on my hands has allowed me to do a lot of stuff that has always been on my ‘to do’ list, but I always felt I was too busy. This blog is one of those. I’m also reading a lot more and even more impressive, I’ve started to exercise (my relationship with exercise needs a whole other post).

So whilst I may not being enjoying a little wine between friends as regularly, I certainly will see the benefits in 88 days’ time! Hopefully I will be able to write a post in a few weeks with some amazing tips of how to save, but right now, I’ve got nothing other than avoid temptation, don’t leave the house! Please, any tips would be very helpful…

Cheers and wish me luck,

Jane

Friday, I’m in love

 

Ahh Friday! That tremendous day when you wake up knowing there are only 8 dreary hours standing between you and the freedom from the daily task called ‘work’. Fridays would have to be my favourite day of the week. Yes, I am at work but the vibe is what I love about it. From the moment I step out my door I can feel it.  Standing at the train station waiting patiently as I do every morning, things feel distinctively different. There are a few less people, and the ones who are there are not in their normal suit and ties but rather non constrictive jeans and a tee. The walk to work is also a lot more relaxed. People aren’t rushing, pushing past each other. They are casually making their way to their place of work with almost a smile.

The office has a great atmosphere on a Friday. People seem dare I say it, happy. Almost every sentence starts with ‘thank god it’s Friday’ and just about every email has the classic ‘TGIF’. It’s a love of Friday that brings everyone together. Talks of plans for the weekend happen in the kitchen, the debate of when to have our first drink for the day is ripe (ok, that might be just my work place!) and the countdown to 5pm is on! People seem to almost switch off after 2pm. There is a lot more chit chat and banter and people really are in weekend mode! It’s a great feeling.

Then finally, the moment we have all been waiting for arrives. It’s knock off time and we couldn’t be happier. Computers are shut down, after work drinks are poured and the weekend has officially begun. The feeling on the train on a Friday night is unlike any other day of the week. People are chatting away, laughing and making plans for their night. It’s great to just watch how relaxed everyone is after a hard week of work. They are free, free at last.

So wherever you are on this Friday, I hope you are having a good one! Not long now and it will be time to enjoy a little wine between friends.

Cheers (to the weekend),

Jane

New year, new blog!

New year, new blog. Well new blog format. I realised late last year (still can’t believe it’s a new year!) that I really enjoy writing and want to do it more often. Therefore, my blog will no longer be only about wine. Of course wine will feature in many of my posts, however I didn’t want to be limited to just one topic. I have a lot of opinions/feelings/thoughts, so why not share them. I hope I gain new followers who appreciate a good laugh, a thoughtful opinion and of course, a great glass of wine.

Because what is life without a little wine between friends!

Cleanskins, give them a chance!

Cleanskin wines. We have all seen them in the bottle shops, going out for cheap and we all avoid them. But why? The poor cleanskins seem to have a reputation that really isn’t desirable. More often than not, we won’t even consider buying cleanskins unless its for our uncles, cousins, twice removed birthday present.

Well it’s time to look at the poor cleanskins in a new light. Having worked in the industry I can tell you that not all cleanskins are the crap, not worth drinking wines. There are many reasons a winery will release their wine as cleanskins. It could be as simple as bottling too much wine and not having enough labels. Or with the many export regulations wineries have to adhere to, it’s not uncommon for a winery to have incorrectly label wine without the correct mandatories. Business must go on, therefore one of the best options is the sell the wine as cleanskins. I’m not saying that every $3.50 bottle of cleanskin wine will be great and drinkable. Far from it really. You will still find cleanskins that are bin ends or the wine that didn’t quite make the grade. But when you pay under $4 for a bottle of wine, you need to be realistic in your expectations.

So now you know that not all cleanskins are rubbish, I want to share with you a little trick I have been doing lately. As mentioned, cleanskins have a bad rep as most people don’t like wines without a label. Solution? Get creative. Recently I gave my in laws two cleanskins for their 30th wedding anniversary. Sounds cheap I know, but that was just part of the gift. What I did was print a label with a picture of them from their wedding day and one of them from this year. It was a beautiful keepsake for their anniversary, plus they got some great wine to enjoy.

I also gave 6 bottles of a beautiful sem/sav blanc to a friend who was having a tough time at work. But it wasn’t just any bottles of wine, I created yet again, personal labels for her (picture below). She loved the labels and the wine!

So next time you are at your bottle shop or even a winery, don’t over look the lonely cleanskins. Give them a chance as hey, if the wine isn’t drinkable you can always throw it in your spag Bol!

Cheers,

A little wine between friends!

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Wine in supermarkets!

“SA Government withdraws controversial supermarket wine sale proposal”

This was just one headline many of you would have seen in the week. For those of you who might not have heard the news, the SA Government has decided NOT to allow the supply/sale of wine in supermarkets.

For me, a wine lover and consumer, I initially thought the idea of being able to buy my wine with my fruit and veg was great. The convenience of a 1 stop shop sounded like my kind of plan. But then I sat down and read the articles, I asked my fellow wine colleagues/friends their thoughts and it became clear that for now, it was a good decision to scrap the idea.

The for and against for this plan has played out for many months now. You ask your local, independent bottle shop what they thought and it’s almost always “it will destroy us”. You ask the smaller supermarket owners (Foodland etc.) what they thought and it was welcomed with open arms. The media told the story of how the local wine industry was against it completely but I feel many had different opinions to what we were led to believe.

I spoke with a local winemaker in the Barossa about the news that plans had been scrapped and they were almost a 50/50 split of for and against. Like me, as a consumer, they liked the convenience the plan would bring. And even as a winemaker themselves, they didn’t believe it would really hurt the industry. We both agreed it needed more concise and forward planning to avoid the major chains taking over and destroying the little guys, but we are still not against the idea all together.

Some flaws we saw in the plan were: supermarkets do not have the expertise to sell wine. By this we mean, sometimes you actually want to be educated when buying a bottle, not just pick it by the label.Walk into any smaller/independent bottle shop and I can almost guarantee the shop attendant will not only take the time to describe a wine but they will actually know what they are talking about. We also, like most who were against the idea, could see that whilst the Govt had intentions of the plan helping the SA wine industry, given that most of the major supermarket chains are owned by interstate/international companies, it was a strong chance they would not be loyal and buy mostly SA wine. Whilst it is nice to have a large range of choice, we have some of the best wine regions in the world and it would be a shame for these local wineries to be over looked in their own state.

We also saw the positives about the proposed plan. Again, the convenience of being able to buy your wine with your weekly shop. Some of you may have travelled before and found that many countries already allow the sale of alcohol in supermarkets. I know I have and it was so easy to just go to one shop and get all the ‘essentials’ for the holiday. We also noted that the plan was for the sale of wine only. They would not have license to sell beer, spirits of any other form of alcoholic beverage. This limited license would have little effect on pubs/hotels who had drive through/takeaway services.

All in all, everyone can stop worrying about the proposed plan, for now. I have no doubt it  will be raised again in the future and perhaps people’s perceptions will have changed. For now, we will keep making that trip to our favourite bottle shop for our favourite drop of wine.

Cheers!

A little wine between friends!