I love wine. Too much for my own good, I’m sure. Part of the problem (um, did someone just say ‘problem’?) is that I happen to be married to an amazing cook who makes gourmet meals most every day of the week. I can’t help but want to pair these delicious creations with the perfect vintage. A good wine just seems to bring out the flavor in most any meal. I’m not formally educated by any means, but I do know what I like. I’ve experimented over the years, and would say I have liked more than I hKissing a Wine Bottleave disliked what I have sampled. My first experiences drinking wine included cheap sangria and wine in a jug. I’d like to think I’ve refined my tastes just a bit since then.

In my 20s and 30s I rarely, if ever drank wine. It made me shudder, literally. It wasn’t until a friend’s baby shower (such an appropriate place to drink wine, don’t you think?) where I was introduced to GOOD wine, that I really started taking an interest in learning about it. I think from that day, I was hooked!

In generalDrunkagain, I  agree with the ABC rule:  Anything But Chardonnay. Recently, however, I’ve started experimenting with some naked chardonnays, and am enjoying much of what I have found. I tend to go in phases, where I pretty much stick to a certain varietal for months at a time, though I still like to mix it up.

Now let’s not get crazy here. I do also like a good beer every now and then. But it has to be ice cold; and I mean so cold it’s starting to form crystals. I tend to like Pilsners, but I also like a good Bock beer when they are in season. My absolute favorite beer is Heineken. I like it so well that when my son was in Europe a few years ago, he bought me this awesome and isn’t-that-an-appropriate-gift-for-your-mom T-shirt at their brewery.

I’ll dedicate this part of the site to my love of wine; my amoré de vino. Come on in and share what you know! Where did your love of wine start? Do you have a favorite? How do you choose your wines? Let’s have some fun as we explore what’s out there. We’ll sample wines (and maybe a few beers) together, and I’ll write my reviews as I invite you to share yours. All winos are welcome! But please, no whiners allowed.

Let’s WINE!

Let's Wine ~~ December, 2017

December 31, 2017 3:00 pm

As the year draws to a close, it’s time for the final installment of Let’s Wine! Why not pop open a bottle of your favorite bubbly and enjoy a glass (or two) as I reflect upon this past year? Overall it has been a great year, both personally and professionally. I have been working in a variety of nursing roles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) setting since graduating from nursing school in 1983, and in July of this year I celebrated 30 years in my current job along with the 30th anniversary of our NICU. I was even featured in a promotional video that you can check out here! I think I’ll keep my day job…

My favorite waiter at my favorite restaurant in Puerto Vallarta

I did lots of traveling across the U.S. and Canada for my personal business, and I also had some fun personal trips including a trip with my family to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (probably my favorite place on earth), a trip to Phoenix for my niece’s wedding, and finally a trip to Las Vegas (probably my second most favorite place on earth) with my family to celebrate our youngest son’s 21st birthday. We even managed to get some exercise in along the way!

Atop Phoenix’s Camelback Mountain with my middle son





Family hike in Nevada


And of course as any of you who stopped by throughout the year knows, the best part of 2017 was my eldest son’s September wedding. We are still reeling about what a happy and wonderful day it was!

Photo by Erin Evangeline Photography http://www.erinevangeline.com/


I managed to run almost 750 miles this year and while that’s nothing earth-shattering, it’s pretty good for me. I’m such a wimp when it comes to cold-weather running, and as you can see by my Strava data from the year, I follow an almost exact bell-curve and stay indoors when the temperatures drop!

I am obviously a fairweather runner!


Access Granted: I got the golden ticket!


This year, I ran a 17.75K, two half marathons, two marathons, and a Ragnar relay race. I really (really, really) wanted to run the Marine Corps Marathon this year, but I didn’t want to take a chance on the lottery. Running the 17.75K (1775 for the year the Marine Corps was established) guarantees entry to the MCM in the fall, so when registration for the March race opened, I was at my computer with my finger on the trigger (or mouse, if you will) ready to go. The race sells out in minutes, especially since so many people want that ‘golden ticket’ guaranteed entry into the MCM. I was lucky enough to get a spot, and so on Friday, March 24, I flew to DC, ran the race in Quantico, Virginia the next morning, and then flew home that evening. It was a bit of a whirlwind, to say the least, but a runner’s gotta do what a runner’s gotta do! This was quite a hilly race, much of it on gravel trails, so it was a new experience for me!



Run a DR Wine Country Half and THIS is your course!



My second race this year was the Destination Races Wine Country Half Marathon in beautiful Santa Barbara, California. If you are looking for a destination race, I would highly recommend one of the DR Wine Country Halfs. I ran their premier Napa to Sonoma race (which typically sells out in less than an hour) in 2016 and was hooked! So much so in fact, I became a DR Ambassador! You can use my promo code DRAMBJUR for $10 off of any of their races (except, of course for the sold-out Napa to Sonoma race). I was fortunate enough to run Napa to Sonoma again this year, and will be running it again in 2018!




In May my two eldest sons and my (then future) daughter-in-law participated in Chicago’s Bike the Drive along the lakefront. It was a beautiful morning and we loved riding on Lake Shore Drive, which closes to traffic for the race.


At the finish of the Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half



In July I ran my second consecutive Destination Races Wine Country Half Marathon from Napa to Sonoma. It’s no surprise this race sells out so quickly. The weather is perfect, the views throughout the course are absolutely breathtaking, and there is a huge wine and music festival at the finish! I was lucky enough to get another spot for 2018, and I will continue to run this race as long as I can get in!

My favorite pic from my year in racing. Photo Cred: My son Michael






October brought the cool fall weather and my fifth consecutive Chicago Marathon. It was this race in 2013 that started my crazy running journey, and since I earned Legacy Runner status this year, I will continue to run (or walk) it as long as my body will let me! Chicago is my home town, and there is nothing like running through the diverse neighborhoods throughout the city to get a true feel for what a great city this truly is.


Just two weeks later, my eldest son and I ran the Marine Corps Marathon. He could not do the 17.75K, but he was lucky enough to get a spot in the lottery. We had an amazing time exploring DC together and are always so happy to share our marathon experiences with each other.


My marathon buddy and me


I topped of my racing year by running the Ragnar South Beach, a 200-mile relay race starting in Melbourne Beach, Florida and ending in South Beach. What a weekend that was! I had a blast and somehow was able to stay awake for the 36+ hours it took to complete the race and enjoy the festivities. I had so much fun meeting new people and running a race I’d never run before. It was exhausting, to say the least, but definitely an experience I will remember forever!

Team Pour Decisions, Ragnar South Beach 2017


What a fun and adventurous year it has been! If someone had told me five years ago I would be running all these races, or especially that I would be blogging about them, I would have said they were off of their rocker! But it is a sport I have embraced and have grown to love, and I can’t wait to see what the coming year will bring. I wish all of you a happy and prosperous (and injury-free) 2018!

How was your 2017 running year? Did you meet any goals you might have set? What are your goals for 2018? Happy New Year!

Let's Wine ~~ October 2017

October 31, 2017 6:00 pm

And in the blink of an eye, October has come and gone. It seems the older I get (and as of today, I’m another year older), the faster time seems to be flying by. How was your month? Why not pour yourself a nice glass of wine as I reminisce about mine? Some quick stats for the month:

Walking/Running:  77.8 miles, including two marathons in two weeks!

Biking:  None

Gym Workouts:  Nada

Wine Consumption:  Onto the reds with the cooler weather upon us. Mostly Pinot Noirs for now, but I’ve also enjoyed a few Merlots and Cabs along the way

My running/gym workouts have been waaay down (or non-existent) this month. I did zero running in between the two marathons, and I haven’t run a block since the MCM on October 22nd. As always, my wine consumption has remained consistent throughout the month!

October has been a great month for me. Fall is my favorite time of year, and while we’ve had some exceptionally cold days, it’s been mostly beautiful in the Chicago area. The weather for both marathons was unseasonably warm. Not great running weather, but beautiful days nonetheless. I continued to work extra hours throughout the month, but with my coworker back to work, I will (thankfully) be putting in less hours. I didn’t mind the extra hours at all, but with the holidays approaching, it will be nice to get back to my regular schedule.

The month included the Chicago Marathon on October 8th and the Marine Corps Marathon on October 22nd. My son Mark and I ran both of them. It’s so much fun running marathons with him (not technically with him, as he is a sub-4 hour finisher and I am…not)! This  year’s Chicago was my 5th consecutive, giving me legacy runner status and a guaranteed entry for next year. If Mark gets a lottery spot next year, he will be a legacy runner as well. Fingers crossed.

It’s so nice not to have to wait and wonder! Running two marathons in two weeks also qualified me as a Marathon Maniac, just one more fun way to connect with other runners. In fact, since I am already a Half Fanatic, I am now considered a Double Agent! If nothing else, I get to wear some pretty cool gear!

The weekend after the Chicago Marathon my husband and I went to his annual work party on Friday and then to my cousin’s son’s wedding on Saturday. It was a fun weekend altogether, and more social activity than we are used to! The work party was lots of fun and the wedding was absolutely beautiful. A few days later I left for a business trip in DC, and then Mark met me on that Friday for a weekend of fun before the MCM.

The beautiful bride and groom
Multicultural wedding fun

I worked a bunch the week after the MCM and then was off this past weekend. No work, no travel, and no running for me! It was nice to relax, though I did spend some time tackling the mountains of papers on my desk. Yesterday I took my mom to her cardiologist for her annual check-up and everything looked great, so we won’t need to see him for another year. Then today, I celebrate my birthday along with my birthday buddy, my youngest son David. He turned 21 today, which means he can finally have a beer!! The whole family is heading down to Bloomington, Indiana this weekend to celebrate our birthdays and enjoy an IU football game. Go Hoosiers! Then in December we will all head to Las Vegas for the real celebration!

So that ends my October, another month and another birthday has come and gone. As we move into November, please indulge me as I shamelessly plug my middle son Michael and his roommates. They are a great bunch of guys and I consider all of them my boys. To them, I am simply Mama J.

Michael and friends at the Saving Tiny Hearts Gala. That’s Michael in the tall hat!

They recently participated in a gala fundraiser for Saving Tiny Hearts in support of their friend Haley, who was born with a congenital heart defect. I’m so proud and thrilled that these guys have found their benevolent sides and are working to help others at such a young age. For their November project they will be participating in Moustache November, AKA Movember and will be growing moustaches (or at least will try!) to help raise awareness of some of the biggest health issues faced by men such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and poor mental health. As my son’s donation page will tell you, our family, as I’m sure many of yours, has been affected by some of these issues. If you would like to donate, even a dollar will help! You can donate to Michael’s fundraising page by clicking on this link, or to his team’s general page by clicking on this one.

So yes, October has come and gone in the blink of an eye. But my baby is 21 years old!!! That, my friends, is what has happened in just the blink of an eye!

How was your month? Any winter races or fun getaways planned? What fundraising organizations do you hold near and dear to your heart? Cheers to another great month!

Let's Wine ~~ September 2017

September 30, 2017 7:00 pm

September has come to an end, and what a fantastic month it has been! Sit back and relax with your favorite libation as I review my past month. Some quick stats as the month comes to a close:

Walking/Running:  55.2 miles

Biking:  27.5 miles

Gym Workouts:  5 strength training sessions, 3 cardio

Wine Consumption:  With the warm weather hanging around most of the month, I’ve really been enjoying the Sauvignon Blancs!

I worked most of Labor Day weekend, but after 35 years in health care, I’m pretty used to holidays, nights, and weekends not being any different than any other day. I’ve been putting extra hours in at work because of a colleague’s medical leave of absence. It’s been fun catching up with some of my work friends who I don’t see very often, and of course the extra income is nice. Last week I had my annual performance review, and believe it or not, with restructuring (very common in health care) I had not met my direct administrator, so it was great chatting with her and getting to know her on a personal basis.

I’ve talked on and on about my son’s wedding, and two weeks later, I am still reeling with joy at what a wonderful time it was. The Thursday before the wedding the future bride and groom treated both sets of parents to an amazing dinner and it was so much fun getting to know the bride’s parents even better. The wedding itself was fantastic. We had a full weekend of activities and everything went off without a hitch.

10-Mile training run

I’ve had a good month of final training for the Chicago Marathon, which is one week from tomorrow. Mid-training I fell off of the plan, but in true me form I’ve rallied in the past month and I feel good about where I am. I likely won’t PR next Sunday, but for me, finishing is winning and I will definitely finish this race! I have been on weather watch all month, and while the heat is supposed to subside by next weekend, we are potentially expecting some rain during the race. I am hoping it will be pushed forward to later in the day, but if the worst that happens is I get rained on, so be it.

A little bit of cross-training

I have been having fun engaging more with the online running community. I am making friends from around the world and am very much looking forward to some meet-ups at a few of my upcoming races.

40th Anniversary Chicago Marathon Participant Guide

Speaking of which, I am scheduled for two marathons exactly two weeks apart, and then a Ragnar relay the following month. I am looking for some small, fun races to close out the year. With my birthday being on Halloween, it never occurred to me to do a Halloween race, but I am on the lookout for one that is fun and close to home.

How was your month? Are you looking forward to the cooler weather? What are your upcoming fall races? Cheers to another great month!

Let's Wine ~~ August 2017

August 31, 2017 6:15 pm

My, oh, my where has the time gone? Fall is in the air and it’s time for the August installment of Let’s Wine! So grab a glass of your favorite varietal (or any other libation of your choosing), and let’s reflect together on this past month!

Some quick stats as I close out the month:

Walking/Running:  32.4 miles

Biking:  40.5 miles

Gym Workouts:  2 strength training sessions, 1 cardio

Wine Consumption:  Oh, how I love me a good pinot noir!

You would never guess I have a marathon coming up in less than six weeks, with another to follow two weeks later, seeing as I walked/ran one third of the miles I did the previous month. I’m pretty sure I should be increasing and not decreasing my miles at this point! Yikes. I have added more miles on the bike and have added some strength and cardio to my workouts, so at least there’s that!

Hospital staff waiting for the big event…much ado about nothing

August has been a busy month for me with some added hours at work to help cover some shifts during a colleague’s medical leave of absence. I have to admit, I’ve liked putting in the extra hours. I run an education/consulting business from my home and work part time at the hospital. I sometimes feel very discombobulated when I return to work after a number of days off, and often have to spend a couple of hours on my first day back trying to catch up with what has been going on with my patients. I like the consistency of working several days in a row. I worked the day of the solar eclipse. Very lackluster from my part of the world, but it was fun joining lots of the hospital staff outside to try to catch a glimpse.

Beautiful view of the city I love

Earlier in the month my son’s future mother-in-law invited me to tag along as they finalized some plans with the wedding. We enjoyed a nice lunch together and then went to check out the venue. It is a beautiful loft with floor to ceiling windows facing the Chicago skyline. I can’t wait to see the sun set over the city as a backdrop to this beautiful event. With just two weeks to go, we are all getting so excited…well maybe not as excited as me, as I finally (finally!) found shoes to match my dress. Yay!!!

My son sent me a list of some of the band’s suggested mother/groom songs for us to dance to. Yaaaawnnn. Nothing fit our personalities, and I spent far too much time Googling and You-Tubing and still came up with nothing. So we decided to go with something fun instead. Stay tuned for next month’s installment. I’ll hopefully have some fun pics to share!

My Halloween Baby will soon be 21!

Also mid-month my youngest son drove back to college for his junior year. Talk about time flying! It seems like yesterday I was sending my baby off to kindergarten. It was so much fun having him home for the summer, especially when the older boys came home. I am never as happy as I am when my boys are together. Lots of fun, board games, and just your basic horsing around. Pure joy. We are hoping to plan a family trip to Las Vegas to celebrate his 21st birthday, which is coming up this Halloween. My birthday buddy…we were born on the same day a mere 35 years apart!

And in all fairness, I have to make mention of my middle son. He will be the best man at the wedding and I am loving talking with him about plans. I can’t wait to hear his speech at the reception. Knowing him, it will be a doozy…and a very heartfelt one at that.

Special wine for a special occasion

Last, I was so-so happy to have made our final home mortgage payment on the last day of this month. Woo hoo! We celebrated with uh-mazing (and huge!) filets that my husband made on the grill, along with a special bottle of wine we’ve been saving for just this occasion. What a great feeling! Now just two more years of college tuition and we can finally breathe a little sigh of relief!

How was your month? Any fall family events coming up? Cheers!

Let's Wine ~~ July, 2017

July 31, 2017 3:49 pm

Well, as I have been reading on so many other peoples’ posts this past week, the big collective we can’t believe how quickly summer is flying by! It’s already time for the July installment of Let’s Wine! So grab a glass of your favorite varietal (or any other libation of your choosing), and let’s reflect together on this past month!

Some quick stats as I close out the month:

Walking/Running:  111.1 miles (and yes, indeed, I will take credit for that last 0.1!)

Biking:  10.2 miles

Gym Workouts:  4.5 hours

Wine Consumption:  Back on track and enjoying some refreshing Sauvignon Blancs as well as some great Rosés on these cool summer nights

Enjoying a refreshing Sauvignon Blanc!

I didn’t look back at my history, but these are probably the most miles I have run in a single month. Ever! I’m using a different plan for marathon training this year, which is fairly aggressive for this Accidental Marathoner. While I haven’t hit all the scheduled runs on the plan, I’ve been doing a decent job of getting some respectable miles in. With just under 10 weeks to go before the Chicago Marathon, I’m feeling pretty good about my progress.

The beautiful future Mrs. Mark T

July has been a great month on the home front, too. On the 1st of the month my mom and I attended my cousin’s son’s fiancé’s bridal shower (that’s a lot of apostrophes!) in the city. It was a great party with (way too much) amazing food, and it was fun meeting the bride-to-be’s friends and family.

How can my baby already be a quarter-century old???

Fourth of July weekend always is a great time for my family, with my eldest son’s birthday on the 5th. This year was even more special as we celebrated his 25th birthday. Holy moly, a quarter of a century old! Where did the time go??? My first baby is all growed up!

Mid-month my niece and I flew to California for the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon on July 16th. We met up with one of my best friends, stayed at a beautiful ranch property in Sonoma, and then the day before the race we headed up to Healdsburg to visit a friend’s winery. And once again, this beautiful race did not disappoint!

The future Mr. & Mrs. Mark J. A match made in heaven from an early age!

Wedding planning is in full swing here as well. As the mother of the groom I don’t have too much to do, but last weekend I hosted the bridal shower and it was absolutely perfect, if I do say so myself! I really can’t take all the credit, since the restaurant pretty much took care of everything. I literally just had to show up and enjoy the party with everyone else. I did, however, put together a running slide presentation, with several side-by-side photos of the future bride and groom living parallel lives in different parts of the country. I also had fun making the favors for these die-hard Cubs fans!

Fun shower favors!

Last week I bought by dress for my son’s wedding, which was much less of a feat than I would have predicted. I wasn’t even dress shopping, but saw it, fell in love, and bought it on the spot. It is literally the first and only dress I tried on…which is exactly what I did for my own wedding dress 29 years ago! And now the search for matching shoes and accessories…

Now that’s what I call a bachelor party!

My youngest son has been home from college for the summer. We are lucky enough that the two who have already graduated live in Chicago. I’m never happier than when all of my boys are together. Last weekend they headed to Glacier, Washington with the rest of the groomsmen for my son’s bachelor party. The wedding is in less than seven weeks, and we are all so excited for a great celebration. Stay tuned!

How was your month? Did you meet your workout goals? What fun things have you been doing this summer? It will be gone in the blink of an eye! Cheers!


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