Somm Thoughts on Napa


I first visited wine country in October of 2005. My family and I had moved to Southern California a year earlier and going to Napa seemed like a very West Coast thing to do. This was a short trip that my husband and I took with another couple. The four of us spent time enjoying our digs at Auberge du Soleil, touring wineries via bicycle and dining at restaurants such as Thomas Keller’s Bouchon.

I think we spent two nights in Napa, but to be honest I don’t remember much of the details. Wine country has a way of erasing details. The highlight of that visit, beside bonding with another couple from our new hometown, was the bike tour. But that was because: drinking wine — while riding a bike — in a group of people! The tour guide wasn’t particularly knowledgeable about wine, or if he was, I don’t remember him sharing that knowledge. And the wineries we visited were for the most part not memorable. In a nutshell, my inaugural Napa vista was mostly about drinking wine and having fun. I left loving Stag’s Leap Winery cabernets, but knowing nothing about the reason why.

It took 10 years, but this past December I finally returned to Napa. And this time the visit, which I shared with my immediate family, in addition to being about drinking wine and having fun — was all about education.


Here’s a bit of what we learned while touring wineries:

  • When it comes to certain wine-related topics (the virtue of viscosity comes to mind), opinions vary.
  • When it comes to using descriptive language to illustrate the smell, taste or finish of a wine — anything goes. Is the finish like sandpaper? Do you like wines that “rip your face off”? Do you smell grass? Say it!

Which brings me to:

  • According to the wine experts we met, what you smell, what you taste, what you like — it is all just fine. They say that there is no right answer (I feel like there probably is) and that there are no stupid questions.


  • You can swirl your wine glass too much.
  • You can kill the smell of your wine, if you swirl your wine glass before smelling it.
  • You shouldn’t say that you don’t like a specific varietal. According to the folks we spoke with, that would be like saying you don’t like pizza, when it reality, you don’t like Pizza Hut pizza. You might LOVE New York pizza or pizza that was prepared to your tastes, if given the opportunity to taste it. (If you don’t like pizza, I am okay with that. I am also okay if you don’t like specific varietals.) (I am just the messenger.)
  • Take a sip (or six) of wine before you take a bite of your food. Wine-coated tastebuds neutralize the sugar in your saliva, which makes the taste of the food come through.


  • The soil in which the grape is grown is the secret sauce. And the consistency and composition of Napa soil can vary greatly. That’s why some Napa wines will rip your face off while others are shy. (I am going to be sure to describe a wine as being “shy” the next time I go.)  Somehow, I missed this lesson completely the first time we visited the region. But I left this time understanding that I am more of a Rutherford gal than anything else.

I also learned:

  • Visiting Napa in the winter, in the slow season, is great! We were the only guests in our Winemaker for a Day program and we were able to get reservations at some very good restaurants . Additionally, when taking vineyard tours/going on tastings, the groups in late December were small. This was especially nice because it meant we were able to ask a lot of questions.
  • While touring a vineyard (if you have paid for a tasting), you can usually order wine at the wine club price without actually joining the club. And if you do join the club, you can drop out before any additional wine is sent.
  • Staying in Yountville, during the off-season, is smart. It is probably also smart to stay there during the peak season. But you will pay more.

Three full days of wine tasting and vineyard touring was about my limit, but I am glad that I live a short plane ride away. I’ll be back, Napa. And in the meantime, I’ll slowly work my way through the bottles of wonderful wine that we bought while there.


sit stay

Sit, Stay

“What you have to do and the way you have to do it is incredibly simple. Whether you are willing to do it, that’s another matter.” Peter F. Drucker Photo © 2011 The World According to Jennifer

Even the Losers

For those of us who regularly follow sports and have specific teams that we always root for, a big loss can be very tough to take. As a lifelong fan of the Atlanta Braves, a 25 (plus) year fan of the Georgia Bulldogs and a former season ticket holder for the Atlanta Falcons, I know this as well as anyone.

This past December, my Georgia Bulldogs lost a heartbreakingly close Southeastern Conference Championship Game [SECCG] to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Here’s some of what I posted on Twitter after that loss:

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Screen Shot 2013-01-14 at 3.52.45 PMI went in search of those tweets after seeing how fans of the Seattle Seahawks were conducting themselves on Twitter after their team lost to the Atlanta Falcons in Sunday’s NFC Divisional Playoff Game. While not happy about some of what the Seahawks fans were tweeting, I was fairly certain that when Georgia lost the SECCG that I had probably expressed my disappointment, heartbreak (and bitterness) in a similar manner. After re-reading my Twitter feed from December 1st-December 2nd, and after going through many of the tweets that were posted under the hashtag: Seahawks, I’ve come up with a theory.

And here it is:

The Five Stages of Grief, though originally identified by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross as pertaining specifically to death and dying, can be applied to almost every type of meaningful loss that we experience in life–including those that relate to sports.

And to illustrate my point, I’ve *curated a collection of tweets from Seahawks fans that were posted in the period immediately following their team’s loss up until almost 24 hours later. I am not trying to pick on the Seattle fans–not at all. They are famously known for their role as the “12th Man,” so I thought that their post-loss behavior would make an excellent case study.

Stage 1: Denial.

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Stage 2: Anger.

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Stage 3: Bargaining.

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Stage 4: Depression.

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Stage 5: Acceptance.

Screen Shot 2013-01-14 at 1.43.40 PMAnd because this is my blog (and my social experiment), I am going to add a sixth stage: Grace.

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How do you handle it when your favorite team loses a big (or little) game?

*All of the tweets that I’ve shared here were posted publicly on Twitter.



“I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who have to wait for them.” ~E.V. Lucas Photo ©2011 The World According to Jennifer

Big Hair… Big Heart?


My big hair, prior to Keratin treatment, but–after–it had been slightly tamed.

When left to do as it pleases, my hair is: big. I’ve got some wave, and if the length remains above my chin, also some curl. But for the most part, my hair is just big. And big, (as far as I can tell anyway), went out in the 1980s. So, after struggling for almost a year to grow my locks from the short pixie cut that had been my signature style since the late 1990s, I decided to venture into the world of chemical straightening.

In August of 2012, I had a Keratin treatment applied to my hair. This was not something I did without reservation. I had several of those. My father died at a young age of a non-smoking related form of lung cancer, so for me, the fear of breathing in formaldehyde fumes was very real. I took care of that concern by asking my hairdresser to blast two fans on my face. And I also had a washcloth at the ready to cover my nose. My other main worry was that my hair would go from being big–to being flat. I have a long face to begin with, and the drowned water rat look doesn’t make it appear any shorter. This potential problem was addressed by leaving about an inch to an inch and a half of my hair (at the root) chemical-free.

My initial reaction to the straightening was one of excitement. Prior to having the process done, I spent a lot of time with my blow dryer  and flat iron. My hair is big–remember? Big hair does not go down without a fight. After the Keratin treatment, my hair was so straight that I could have let it air-dry. But I didn’t want to do that, because the one or two times I did, I kind of looked like a drowned water rat. Oops.

It’s now the first week of January, and the Keratin treatment is almost grown out. And I don’t think I will have it applied again. Here is why:

  • My hair, despite overuse of the flat iron and blow dryer, had been very healthy prior to the treatment–and now it isn’t. I have a lot of breakage, most noticeably in the areas that surround my face.
  • The smell of the chemicals, (even with two fans blowing on me, the front door of the salon open, and a wash cloth pressed to my nose) was at times overwhelming. My eyes teared up often during the process, which tells me that my body was not reacting well to the odor.
  • The treatment definitely reduced the time I had to spend styling my coif. But in the end, even when using a blow dryer (and not the air), my hair was too flat.

So in 2013, my mantra will be: bigger is better! And once again, I’ll be cranking up the flat iron. If you need me, I’ll be in the bathroom.

My hair immediately following the Keratin treatment. Note: the drowned water rat look is not yet in full effect. 

While I Was on Hold…

In March of this year, I traded my Droid for an iPhone. And a few months later, I started using the photo-sharing app, Instagram. And a few months after that, I created an iPhone photo-based blog. Today, as I was thinking about writing a year in review, it dawned on me that I have a nice visual record of the past nine months. So I am going with that instead.

There is no comparison when it comes to the camera on my iPhone 4S and my Canon DSLR. And for that reason, when photographing professionally, I will always use the latter. But… there is a lot to be said in support of a quality camera that is the size of a deck of cards. There is something about capturing the small, and often undetected, moments in life that really appeals to me. And let me tell you, it’s a heck of a lot easier to photograph people on the street–when they don’t know that you are doing it.  That is reason enough for me, when doing street photography, to choose the camera in my phone over my bulky DSLR.

Interested in learning how to do a bit more with your phone’s camera? If so, this article offers some good tips.

Here are some of the images I captured on my iPhone 4S in 2012.

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All images ©2012 The World According to Jennifer

Happy New Year! And thank you for being a part of my world.

What Not to Wear–Ever

In the three-year history of The World According to Jennifer, there is one post that has been demonstrably more popular than the rest. Confessions of a Short-Waisted Woman, in which I write about my lifelong struggle with trying to dress in a way that kind of sorta makes it look like I have a definable midsection, is the most searched, commented on, and read, of my 155 entries.

So it should probably come as no surprise that I have been itching to take another stab at the world of fashion. But I didn’t want to just take a stab. I wanted whatever I came up with next to come from a source of inspiration. It was after all, a life well-lived, but lived without a real waistline, that inspired my first successful fashion-related post.

It has taken a while (one day shy of 23 months, but who’s counting) for lightning to strike again. But today–boom!–it did. (Oh wait, that’s thunder.)


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I came across the above dress (I would use the word sack, but the high-end retailer listed it as a dress and I am going to take them at their high-end word) online while perusing a 40 percent off sale. Here’s the view from behind:


(photo credit:

This lovely little frock originally could have been yours for the very reasonable price of $1,515, but is now, thanks to the holiday discount gods, available for a mere $909. That’s quite the bargain–no?

What? You don’t think wearing this dress could change your life? Look at the model! She clearly feels great about herself in this red-hot number. I’d even go out on a limb and say she feels confident and probably beautiful. And who wouldn’t when wearing such a fine example of couture?

And lest you be confused, this design is indeed considered to be couture. It originated in the house of Comme des Garçons, a Tokyo-based fashion label that reportedly grosses around $180 million in revenue each year. The best part? Comme des Garçons is French for: “Like the boys.” I am going to assume that in this instance, that stands for “thinking like the boys.” Because there is no way any woman–at least not one who actually likes other women–could have come up with this particular design.

There you have it, my fashion advice for what not to wear–ever.  I hope I helped. I suspect that I did.