About Kate

I'm a reader, writer, and wine lover living in Western Washington. I like to talk about good books, good wine, and the (sometimes) good food I have with the wine.

Wine Review: Beyond the Arc Ice Wine

  It’s the final days of National Novel Writing Month! Congrats to all those who participated this month. No matter what your word count, it’s time to celebrate! Mill Lane Winery out of Tenino, Washington has you covered on that front with their Beyond the Arc ice wine.

Since it’s an ice wine, it is very, very sweet and also at its best well chilled. It loses a bit of it’s “oh!” as it warms up, so keep it cold for as long as possible. But when you have it well chilled, oh, it’s a treat.

I discovered this one a few months back when a friend and I went to a mushroom festival down in Hawk’s Prairie that happened to feature a wine tasting. (I’d say it was a total coincidence, but we did know of the tasting well in advance, and since we both love wine and mushrooms…well, attending was kind of a no-brainer.) Right at that tasting, I knew I’d have to buy a bottle and save it to cap off my NaNoWriMo wine review fun.

It’s almost too sweet for me. Almost. It means my 50K celebration stretches out over multiple nights, because one glass is about all I can handle. (In fact, what I show in the photo ended up being a tad too much for me.) I make out hints of apple beneath all the sweet.

I’m sure it’s equally as tasty in summer, but it’s quite satisfying on a chilly and rainy night. It’s so sweet and rich, and the warm yellow color (and maybe the alcohol content) makes me all cheery even in the face of Western Washington’s rainy season.

It also makes me excited to tackle the revision on my NaNo project. But that can come in December. Or during NaNoEdMo.

Wine Review: Bookwalter Winery’s Subplot No 29


Subplot No 29

A complex (and delicious) red blend.

 A couple of months ago, a friend and I went to Homeward Bound’s Puppy & Wine Walk. One of the participating wineries was Bookwalter,  a Washington winery over in Richland. All of their wines have a bookish theme, making them a delightful find for my month of writerly wines in honor of National Novel Writing Month.

Subplot No 29 is a red wine blend: 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Malbec, and 8% Syrah. I’m a Malbec girl (though admittedly not just a Malbec girl; I can’t pick a favorite varietal), so I knew the chances were high that I’d like this blend.

This wine is a touch sweet up front with aromas of plum and cherry. It’s deep and rich and finishes with a bit of a bite that might settle into a peppery note in time (I’m thinking that’s the Malbec). I’m tempted to stick a bottle at the back of my wine rack and let it sit for a couple of years. (It can be a test of willpower, right?)

This is one of those wines that’s best to have with food. It’s a bit too much on its own, but it’s lovely paired with a nice, creamy Brie and would probably be just as lovely paired with lamb or beef. Or some homemade lasagne. Or…wow, I’m making myself hungry.

Overall, this is a wine with substance that will likely develop more complexity (or subplots! …I know. I’m only funny in my head.) over time. I’ll be revisiting it later.

Wine Review: Black Ink 2013 Red Blend


Black Ink 2013 Red Wine

Rich and sweet, a glass of this is a delightful treat!

 Reason #2,114 why I love NaNoWriMo: it introduced me to this lovely wine. Since I was looking for wines with a writing theme, this bottle caught my attention in the grocery store. I forgot to save my receipt and don’t remember what it cost, but I do remember that it was enough that without the excuse of my wine review plans for NaNoWriMo, I wouldn’t have taken the gamble.

And that would have been my loss. This is a delicious, decadent wine. I’m a fan of bold, peppery reds, the kinds that are practically a meal on their own. This isn’t peppery, but it is bold with a well-earned swagger.

Right from the start, it’s a treat. It smells like the black cherries I buy at the Farmer’s Market. They start with a sweet, juicy burst but end on a bit of a tart note. That’s exactly what this wine delivers. Each sip starts with that sweet burst of black cherry and then ends with a hint of tartness. It’s a perfect balance. The tartness never overpowers the delicious sweet note, but it does keep it from turning too sweet. 

There are other summer fruits hiding in the taste — I singled out plum and a bit of blackberry —  which makes this a perfect winter wine. When Western Washington is at is dreariest, this is a wine I can turn to for a brief taste of summer. 

So this is a winner in my book! And I’m sure it will help me make my word count this week. After all, if I make my daily minimum, I can treat myself to a glass…

Happy writing, my fellow NaNoers!

Wine Review: A to Z 2014 Oregon Rosé

My introduction to rosé wine came through a sweet rosé, and it took me a little while to come to appreciate dry and off-dry rosé wines. A to Z offers up a dry rosé that’s delightfully tart and citrusy.

A to Z 2014 rose

A light and crisp rosé with hints of cirtus and strawberry.

It pairs well with creamy cheeses and sauces, basically anything where you want something crisp and acidic to cleanse the palate. I had it with both a sage cheddar (yum!) and also seafood chili. It did a great job of clearing away the residue spiciness of the chili, which ended up being perfect for me, because as tasty as the chili was, it was right on the cusp of being too spicy for me. The wine kept the heat from building up to too hot levels.

The wine also has noted of strawberry and plum. It has a bit of a lingering finish, but it’s not heavy-handed. I found this rosé to be the kind where each sip invites you to take the next. I’d buy it again, especially given its price (about $12), and I’ll go on to try other A to Z wines a try (perhaps in April for Camp NaNo 😉 ).

As for how helpful it is in getting all those A to Z words down for NaNo…well, I have had a productive week. Taking some time off work has done wonders for my word count. So has the reward of a nice, chilled glass of this rosé when I make my daily goal. Cheers and happy writing!

Upcoming November Wine Reviews

 Hello! I know it’s been months and months, but I am (somewhat) back to blogging about wine.

November is National Novel Writing Month, or my absolute favorite month of the year, because I always have a blast, even when I socialize a bit too much and have to go recharge my batteries.

So in honor of NaNoWriMo, I’m going to be posting a wine review each Friday, and each selection follows a writerly theme:

4 wines in honor of National Novel Writing Month

First up will be A to Z’s 2014 rosé, because the point of NaNoWriMo is to get those first draft words down (from A to Z)! (Yes, I know, I’m only funny in my head.)

The second week will feature Black Ink, a 2013 red wine blend, because sometimes, switching things up and writing longhand helps the words flow.

In the third week, I’ll visit Subplot No. 29, another red wine blend. This is the week where I’m usually in the thwarty middle of my story and struggling to think of interesting challenges to move my characters forward, so thinking about subplots (and resolving them) seems like a wise move. Now I’ll have a wine for it. 😉

And finally, I’ll end with an ice wine, Beyond the Arc, because we’ll be at the end of the mad rush to 50K and deserve a sweet treat to carry us into December and (yay!) revision mode.

So good luck to my fellow NaNoers. I’m kbrown on the NaNo site if you want a wine geek buddy/cheerleader. 


My #presspublish experience

In all the years I’ve been living in the greater Tacoma area (it’s almost to the point where I can say decades, plural, and wow, I think that means I have to admit I am officially old…ish), I’ve never been to Portland. So when mom forwarded me the info about Automattic’s Press Publish conference on March 28th, attending seemed like the perfect excuse to finally correct that error. We got in on Friday afternoon and had a few hours to bop around before the Longreads event on Friday night (where I met some lovely folks and listened to some fascinating stories). Mom, dad, and I had a fabulous lunch at Kells Irish Pub and then headed up the street to Powell’s books.

(Portland, you are a charming city, but if I lived any closer, I would go broke in Powell’s.)

Press Publish was a fun conference. I’m not a huge conference person, so for me, the single day was part of the draw, and I was pleasantly surprised when I realized, about halfway through the day, that I was feeling energized by all the engagement. (Even when I’m having a good time and/or learning a lot of fun things, conferences exhaust me, which is part of the reason why I’m not a huge conference person.)

The highlight of the conference for me was Kathy Cano-Murillo (the Crafty Chica). I’m not particularly crafty, but I do feel pressed for time between work and all the things I want to accomplish at home, so a lot of what she said resonated, particularly her advice about how to decide what opportunities to choose (translated into my head as projects to choose): “if it’s not a ‘hell yes!’, it’s a no.” Which is perfect! It acknowledges that there’s all this cool and exciting stuff, and yes, in a perfect world, I’d be able to do ALL the cool and exciting things, but I don’t live in a perfect world, so I have to choose. And I tend to agonize over choices and make them much harder than they need to be. The “hell yes or no” criteria is a perfect way for me to skip all my dithering. Hell yes is an immediate gut feeling. Most of the time, I end up going with that gut feeling, but only after (attempting to) logic my way to it, and all that logicing (it’s totally a word!) time is time I could be spending producing something I find cool and exciting. So thanks, Kathy!

(Also, while I may not be particularly crafty, I am not immune to the magic of a glitter floor. PEOPLE! A GLITTER FLOOR! Maybe someday…)

I’m glad I took last Friday and yesterday off work, because I came back from Press Publish so inspired for a writing project that I spent yesterday at my local library researching folklore. My gut has been hell yesing this project to the Nth degree for months now, but I still haven’t logiced (also totally a word!) my way to it. So I’m cutting a deal with myself. I’ll stick to my revision plans for Camp NaNoWriMo’s April session, but once I make my revision goals for the day, I get to indulge in my gut project.

Candied Ginger Applesauce

I’ve been on an applesauce kick lately. Making it (and, of course, eating it) is one of my simple pleasures. Plus, I love how it makes my kitchen smell. I’m basking in the scent of baked apples, cinnamon, and cardamon right now. Yum!

Stovetop applesauce is ridiculously easy and ridiculously quick to make. Since discovering those two facts, and also realizing I can choose what kind of apples to use and that I can control how much sugar (if any) and the mix of spices I add, I haven’t bought applesauce at the store. Prep time varies depending on your equipment. I broke my apple slicer and haven’t replaced it yet, so my prep time (about 25 minutes) was on the long end.


You really can’t go wrong with ginger and apples.


  • 4-6 medium sized apples (or 3-4 pounds)
  • 3-4 strips of candied ginger or (for no added sugar) 3-4 thin slices of fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup dry Riesling
  • 1/2 cup water (you can omit the Riesling and use 1 cup water instead)
  • A splash of lemon juice
  • A punch of salt
  • Spices to taste (I use cinnamon and cardamon and start with about 1/4 of a teaspoon, taste as the sauce cooks and add more as needed)


    1. Peel and core the apples and cut into 1/2 inch to 1 inch chunks
    2. Cut the ginger into tiny cubes (as small as you can make them)
    3. Mix wine, water, lemon juice, and salt
    4. Put apples and ginger into saucepan and add the liquid
    5. Sprinkle spices on top
    6. Heat until the liquid boils
    7. Cover and simmer 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the apples from cooking to the bottom of the pan and to break up the chunks. If needed, add additional water.
    8. The apples should break up during cooking, and stirring should be enough to make the sauce saucy, but if you like super smooth applesauce, let the sauce cool and then run through a blender.

    This recipe makes about 5 cups. This time around, I got 5 and a hair (for definitions of “a hair” ranging between a third and half of a cup; I may have eaten it without measuring). My plans for this batch of sauce is to take it into work for my afternoon snack so I don’t raid one of the many candy dishes in the office for a sweet pick-me-up.


    This is much better than a mini candy bar! (Right? Right.)

  • Photo 101 Day 4: Bliss

    What is your idea of bliss? Is it an image of your family, laughing at the dinner table? A state of total relaxation, while lying on the beach? Your latest painting, drying on the canvas?

    One of my treats to myself is to join @FriNightWrites #WriteClub sprints on Twitter. Some of those Fridays, though, my cats have other ideas. Meet Cricket:

    Cricket takes her duties as my right hand gal seriously...as long as my right hand is generous with the pettins.

    Cricket takes her duties as my right hand gal seriously…as long as my right hand is generous with the pettins.

    She likes to “help” me write. And to be honest, I like to let her. Along with these two, Sassy (the black cat with the tongue; she is indeed sassy) and Seven (the chocolate Siamese caught in a rare moment of not being pushy):

    These two beasties are besties! <3

    These two beasties are besties! ❤

    It's hard not to feel peaceful and relaxed when I'm surrounded by purring cats, even if it is a little difficult to type around a conked out Cricket. 😉

    Photo 101 Day 3: Water & Orientation

    Today’s Photo101 theme was water:

    We have different relationships to and stories about water: how it has saved or defeated us. How it reminds us of family vacations, outdoor adventures, or the hot summers of our childhood. How it might symbolize a place we’ve left behind, or a location we dream to go.

    Water is my reset button. When I start to feel stressed, all I need to do is take a stroll along a lake, a river, the Sound, and ahhh, instant peace. And when I need a bigger reset, I head to the Olympic Peninsula and hole up at Lake Quinault or Lake Crescent, or spend some time wave-watching at the coast. So for today’s assignment, I decided to head down to Ruston Way in Tacoma for some shots of Puget Sound.

    This was my favorite shot from today’s walk:

    There is something amazingly relaxing about watching waves roll into shore, especially when they swirl around driftwood.

    There is something amazingly relaxing about watching waves roll into shore, especially when they swirl around driftwood.

    I also really like this one, particulary the shadows and the worn stones nestled in the top of the rotting pier remains and the tiny glimpse of the Port of Tacoma waaaay in the background:

    Today’s assignment suggested that we rotate our camera and take the same shot from a different orientation, so I snapped a horizontal shot:

    Photo 101 Day 2: Streets & Establishing Shots

    Today’s Photo101 assignment is a street shot:

    Today, let’s focus on a street. It can be a quiet road blanketed in snow, an alley near your apartment covered with murals, or a busy street where pedestrians weave between cars and motorbikes…

    I’ll confess, I didn’t take this photo today. I had every intention to wander around photogenic downtown Puyallup after work, but I ended up with a last-minute appointment, so there went that plan. I’ve always liked this road shot from one of my visits to to Mt. Rainier National Park (“my” mountain, mom, not yours 😉

    This was taken on a visit where I looped around to the Stevens Canyon entrance. I love the tunnel blown through the rock. The park has breathtaking views, so breathtaking that I can (mostly) ignore certain stretches of the drive where there’s no shoulder and no guardrail, and wow, mountains are steep. Who knew? (I am not cut out for the world’s more dangerous roads.)