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Recommendations

2008 Blasted Church Syrah – a review

Over the course of the past couple weeks I have been training hard for a 10km race that I ran today. I have been running, eating healthy and have not had any alcohol since New Years. (16 days is a long time in my world to go without!) So after a solid performance in the driving rain today we decided to go out for a celebration dinner.  We decided on the Keg Steakhouse in Maple Ridge. On my way there I got it in my head that I was going to have a nice glass of red wine with dinner.

Now seeing that this is my first wine review I will begin by saying that I am by no means a sommelier. My descriptions will likely lack the sophistication and formality of most online reviews but I have worked in the restaurant industry for several years and I know a good wine when I taste one. So what I will share with you is my own personal rating out of 10 for drinkability and perhaps a few tips on pairings.

I made a quick decision to try a wine by Blasted Church. There bottles have always caught my eye in the liquor store thanks to their odd, artistic labels and creative names but I had yet to try them out. I decided to try something I wasn’t overly familiar with and went with the syrah. When it arrived the first deep inhale was music to my nose. Not just because of the rich cherry, vanilla and chocolaty aroma but because of the built up anticipation of a hard-earned reward.

I had ordered the seared ahi tuna with wasabi cucumber dressing as a starter and found the wine to smooth out the palette nicely after the creamy kick of the wasabi. Then for dinner I had a delicious, rare filet mignon as I always do when dining at the Keg and once again it was  paired up nicely. A nice full flavour with a hint of berry sweetness and no lingering after taste.

The description on the Blasted Church website has the following to say about the 2008 Syrah, “The 2008 Blasted Church Syrah is composed of fruit from five vineyards. The Syrah was harvested from Osoyoos, Skaha Bench and our own estate grown Blasted Church Vineyards Syrah. The Viognier portion was grown in Osoyoos. Lastly, the Cabernet Sauvignon was grown in Oliver. The Syrah at Blasted Church was the first to come off the vine; harvested during the cooler days of mid-October, followed by the Syrah and Viognier from Osoyoos . The Syrah (Skaha Bench) and Cabernet Sauvignon (Oliver) signaled the last day of picking on November 6th. The overall blend is 86/7/7 of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier.”

This wine has two notable accomplishments to its name having been awarded a GOLD at the All Canadian Wine Championship as well as The Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in British Columbia Wines 2008

I give the 2008 Blasted Church Syrah a solid 8.5/10. A great rating for a wine under $30.

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Filler – Best “Time Waster Game of 2010”

Every now and again someone sends along a “time waster” (simple addictive mind numbing game) that can quickly make a half hour of your life melt away. The coolest part of these types of games is really their simplicity in design but yet so many of them are challenging as hell. Most require quick thinking, quick reactions and a fair level of focus. The results are out for 2010 and the big winner is Filler. The first couple levels are easy but it quickly gets challenging. Fill up 2/3’s of the screen and avoid the bouncing balls. Come on, give it a try. Just make sure your schedule is clear for the next half hour!

If you are looking for something a bit more challenging that requires some real logic as the levels get harder, try Fantastic Contraption! This was my favourite time waster from 2009. I finished all the levels with some help from my kids!


Money Management by Mint.com

I rarely ever read Time Magazine but one thing I stumbled upon that I did find interesting this year was their Top 50 Websites of 2010. I surfed through and found a few good ones. Like www.ted.com which is a huge database of guest speakers with amazing stories, theories, ideas and tonnes of other thought-provoking topics. It’s a great site to stop by when you feel the need to be inspired. As a real sports stat junkie, I also liked www.sports-reference.com. It has everything you ever wanted to know about your favourite Baseball, Football, Basketball, Hockey and Olympic stars and teams.

The one that really caught my eye and that I have been using ever since is www.mint.com. On their website they describe themselves as, “The best free way to manage your money” and from what I have seen over the short 3 months that I have been using it they are absolutely right. I have tried to use other offerings from Quicken and Microsoft Money in the past but the novelty always wore off because it was just too much work and my bank didn’t communicate with it well.  I am not going to go into detail about all of it’s great, super easy to navigate, functions but what I will share is a quick story about something that just happened.

I got an email from Mint a few minutes ago saying that I had “Unusual spending on Food & Groceries”. It knows this because I have a couple of months of data for it to refer to and because I have set a budget for Groceries that it monitors as the month goes on. I went to the computer and pulled up my account. When I clicked on “Food & Groceries” it showed me all the recent transactions and one of them stood out to me. There was a large transaction at Costco yesterday that I had no recollection of. (I have taught mint to recognize Costco as “groceries” unless I tell it otherwise) It also detailed it so that I knew it was a purchase made at Costco online with my American Express card. I grabbed the phone and was about to call American Express but wanted to confirm with the wife. I asked her about it while she was half asleep and she told me that she did a purchase for her work and we were being reimbursed. Whew! That was a close one.  Now this was just a false alarm but thanks to mint.com’s notifications I was able to do a quick investigation.

If you are not currently using something to manage your money, I highly recommend giving it a try! Watch the video below to learn more.

http://www.youtube.com/v/rK6WLHNYjwM?fs=1&hl=en_US