By The Glass

OsteriaWines

I find Osteria Da Amedeo (menu, the wine list, and more about them) in the Little Italy neighborhood of Baltimore refreshing.  And not just refreshing in terms of beverages.

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My visits have been somewhat frequent, but I wouldn’t call myself a regular.  I’ve been here enough yet I never seem to know anyone and vice versa.  In a small city like this, that makes me happy.  It’s easy to just run into people in Baltimore.  Of course if you go anywhere long enough, you’re bound to make a friend.   You can never have enough good friends.  You can also never have enough alone time.  If there was something to be said for the latter, then you think one would stay home.  But how’s that fun?

Friends of mine who live here or go here only rave about it.   With the exception of one time going with a pal, its always just been me.   My preference to be out by myself has always been with me.  It’s a feeling of liberation, to have some semblance of control, and if I’m ready to leave after 5 minutes, or two hours, it feels great to have that choice.

A place like Osteria Da Amedeo lend itself to spending a little extra time, in what I can only describe was one of the more cozy bars and settings in all of the city.

This won’t be a review of the bottles, because I don’t remember them.  This may come off amateurish but on a day back in the late Summer, this was not the time or place to worry about that.   It was a weird day.  Yet someone else might say that was one of their favorite days ever. That’s what makes this all so fun.  We all can be in the same and different places and time, and think completely different thoughts and feel a contrast in emotions.

There were emotions and there was some situations.  I just felt like like saying that.  Yes situations can mean anything.

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My mood wanted a little bit of red and a little of the while.  I didn’t finish either.  I just wanted something different.   I forgot if I ordered a Sangiovese or Montepulciano.  Like I said, this is not one of those serious reviews or discussion of labels.  Not like many of them are, but I hope you sense what I’m saying and where this is going.

As I was saying, whatever my red was, I loved it.  I savored it, and I savored my surroundings.  I had my own company and today was enough.  I love their wine glasses.  You don’t see these served in this form everyday or everywhere.  Wait, maybe I had one of each and I don’t remember.   Oops.  There are those times where I feel drained and trans

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For the blanca, I went with the Gavi, which to my knowledge is the one and only time I can honestly say I’ve ever seen it, ordered it, or drank it.  This detail is significant, at least to me.   I love firsts and I love to feel a little part of history, even if just my own, and to anyone who reads this.

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Like any new wine, it either hits you right away and makes you feel something, is an acquired taste, or is just not your glass of wine.  I’m settling for somewhere in the middle. As dry as the synopsis reads, it was a little sweeter and fruitier to my liking.   I could blame it on the fact I had that red (which one I’ll never know) and maybe didn’t cleanse my palate enough, or it’s just not for me right now.  All that can change later.   That’s the beauty of wine, and of life.

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What matters is this was a good day.  It was a day of reflection, healing, peace,and hopefully rejuvenation.  This was two months ago and in many ways I feel more exhausted than that day.  Maybe it’s because of writing so late, or maybe so much has caught up with me, that this day was at least a temporary relief, or will resonate with me for reasons that have still yet been shown to me.

Maybe and hopefully I can give a more in depth versus introspective recap on the food and wine…

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For some just going out means going out, then calling it a day or night.  I might take things too seriously, but I see everything has potentially significant.  I may not even catch all the signs and symbols of the universe, or maybe I look or try too hard to find them.  Nevertheless, they’re there.

I was happy to be there….

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Happy Birthday To Ya!

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I’ve had Gnarly Head wines a few times in my lifetime.  I’m willing to bed that if you’re reading this, many of you have as well.

And if you’ve had their wines, you realize how affordable they are.  Which mean an accessibility and affordability that is always welcome and should be never taken for granted.  And speaking of never taking things for granted…

I was honored to be invited to a fantastic gathering this past weekend for a dear friends birthday.  The crowd was intimate, the food was spectacular, the booze was plentiful, and the weather could not have been better.

As much as I love summer, I’m getting more of an appreciation for fall.  In the summer, people leave town and then they leave town.   So there’s that disconnect.  Plans can be unpredictable but then can be predictable just like that.  I don’t think there’s a right or wrong with either.  I like a good vacation myself.

But this is the time of year, and days and weekends of the year where there’s so much to look forward to.  It’s a great time for festivals, birthdays, concerts, events, and still plenty of time to be outdoors and spend time with great friends.

With great friends means great party hosts.

And in tradition, you know not to come empty handed right?

I’m surprised I haven’t written about Gnarly Head until now.  At under $10, there’s no reason not to give these wines a shot.

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When me and the most stopped to pick up some beverages and handle some other errands, the Gnarly Head display at one of the local wine shoppes was spooky but also welcoming all the same.  And at $9 here, you can’t go wrong.

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I went with the Harvest Red for no reason in particular.  Well the red label deemed approachable, and the red blends tend to make everyone happy.  A bunch of grapes in one almost makes you think you’re drinking a few wines in one.  And in many instances that is a recipe for success.

And a success is what this was.  The blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah, and Barbera is about as smooth and likable as you’re going to find.   This was an easy wine to drink, free of complexities and complications.  The mix of berries, spice, and other fruits on the nose and after you sip gives me those warm and fuzzies, that fit perfectly with the month of October and all kinds of comforting foods.

And speaking of that.  The food spread was as incredible as you’re ever going to see.  I don’t need to reel off everything that you see here.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking throughout this post.

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I will mention that one of the huge stands outs was bacon wrapped potatoes.  Yes, you usually would think scallops.  But in this instance the bacon and baby potatoes complemented each other in a way that only you will have to taste and see to believe.  It was beautiful.

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As was this eggplant.  I mean everything was amazing.   I need to trust myself with my cooking to present something to a party like this, but there was enough outstanding food that there’s always next time.

You can imagine, that the food never had a chance.  How can you not just appreciate the work, soul, and craftsmanship put into such deliciousness.   I’ve said it before, its sometimes too beautiful to eat, but also way too pretty to go to waste.

I’m certain that none of this went to waste.

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My wine never had a chance either.  I was lucky to have a cup-and-a-half, and that’s just fine.  There was plenty of adult beverages to go around.  And that’s the point of these parties, to share, to care, to spread love, and too appreciate all the great people around you.

I appreciate the fact that I was a part of something so beautiful, something so joyful, and something so peaceful.   What’s not to love?

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It’s only October, and I can only hope that I get to be a part of more parties such as this one.  I’m eternally grateful.

To find Gnarly Head Wines near you, this link will show you the way.

Thank you so much.  Happy October, Happy Fall, Happy Everything!

And Happy Birthday to ya…

Ideen

La Princesse By The Pool

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This, like most posts, is not just about the wine.  But it’s about the experience that revolves around the wine.  Because with out that, it’s just a glass and nothing more.  And not that there is anything right or wrong about that.  But I like to think that with every bottle, every sip, and then every sip after that can tell a story that adds meaning to your life and maybe someone elses.

If that sounded a bit more dramatic than intended, I don’t apologize.  Its been an interesting summer, at least for me.  It’s been a transition.  Things are happening that remind me of what is important in life.   And I’ve always known this, but sometimes you need a reminder, no matter how simple or harsh it might be.   However, a nice bottle of wine and some great company will always make the transition of the next aspects of life the next season, or the next anything, at least a little easier to navigate through.

We had a Summer in Maryland that gave us many beautiful days, but maybe not enough pool days.  It could be a scheduling thing, some off timing, or the universe resetting itself, but I hardly felt like I got to take advantage of pool season.   Where it used to be double digits became barely past a count on one hand.

Fortunately, late September provided one more day.   So because of that I’m happy to talk about at least one more Rosé.

The 2016 Rosé from Cellier des Princes may not be a blow away wine.  But it’s a solid, light, and approachable Rosé that will do its job when applied to any occasion.   This happened to fall on one of the last days of pool season.  And I don’t mean official, I mean the last time my friend may have hosted a pool day.   It’s all subjective.  We could get some glorious days in October that remind us that fall and pumpkin season arrived just a bit too soon.  But I’m not holding my breath, and that’s just fine.

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This Rosé with the majority being Grenache, with a little Syrah thrown it to keep it honest, tastes light and refreshing as any Rosé  should.  The lighter salmon pink color would also be a strong indicator of a lighter Rosé.

I couldn’t find much information on this wine otherwise.   The website is not the most organized, and I see no mention of the aforementioned bottle anywhere.  To tell you the truth, it doesn’t matter.  The wine was fun and that’s what matters.

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And since it was hot, a little more ice was needed.  You might think this may water things down a bit, but I think the ice only enhanced our sipping experience.  I say our because we had a great group of friends, but we also had their animal friend soak in some rays.

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She is the princess by the pool.    Thanks to my friend for the inspiration on this title.

For me, the wine started a bit slow, but after a few seconds that all went away.  I don’t think the bottle needed time to breathe or open up.  I just think my first couple sips started off awkward but just got better with time.    This is where the bottle never had a chance.

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And what a glorious bottle it was.  As fun as this wine was, I was even more enamored with the positive notes of celebration and friendship that adorned the label itself.  I was fortunate that at my local retailer, I grabbed one of the last one out of the cooler.  And at $10-$12, you really can’t go wrong and won’t be taking that much of a hit if its a wine that doesn’t win you over.

But those notes of positvity translated into the wine, the day, the experience, and all the other good stuff that should never fall by the wayside.

An animal friend always helps too.

This hopefully doensn’t conclude the Rosé and white wine portion for the year.  But this is traditionally where more reds will be appearing in the coming weeks, with a few whites thrown in for measure.  It’s only uphill from here but that’s been the intent of this blog from the onset.

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We had fun with this one and that’s the point of this thing.  I look forward to this continuing, and I look forward to maintaining this ongoing dialogue, conversation, and story with you.

Thank you so much and peace be with you.

And dogs are the best!

Ideen

And We’ll Be Birds

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I’m not ready to throw in the towel or wave the white flag on this season.  And even the though the towel might be white too, there’s no cause for alarm or concern.   I love summer and want to celebrate forever.  That means one more Rosé, and hopefully more to come.   When I’m in the planning stages or lack thereof when piecing these posts together, I look at the seasons, the place I’m in, and my log of wines I’ve tried to see what fits and what I can save for later, if at all.

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But a return to the Wine Source, which will never get old, led to some curious searching. And I won’t confirm nor deny that this was a planned trip.  Nothing just happens and there’s no such thing as coincidence.   After my memorable visit two weeks ago, how would this one compare?

There doesn’t need to be a comparison.  While every experience is different they’re also somewhat similar, and sometimes all the same?  Make sense?  Well it does and then it doesn’t to me, but that’s what makes this excursion so fun and unpredictable.

The night in question from last week had me running around circles.  I was craving a Rosé but not just any.  I wanted a label and a bottle that would evoke emotions of hope, love, spirit, and a journey  that is forever going.  One that tells us that not only are we going to be ok, but that we are ok.

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I shoul’ve realized they were reading my mind and knew why I was there.  Without even knowing me they know my tastes and know their clientele.  I had no idea I sprinted past the lovely Rosé in front of the store.  I had just assumed walked around and dig to find a bottle within every nook and cranny of the shoppe.   How did I not see this gorgeous display of Rosé wine in front of the store for me to appreciate, admire. and adore some more.  And I was doing all of the three and that much more.

Now I was literally doing circles.  There were so many beautiful choices that the only one that made sense is one with designs of our animal friends.

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So I saw one with a bird and didn’t think twice.   The 2016 Guillaume Gonnet Cotes du Rhone ‘Le Reveur’ Rose, from Rhone, France had the most inviting label and energy.  Yes a gorgeous looking robin on the label helps.  But never judge a book by its something and same with a label.   For all  you know it covers the deficiencies of the wine itself, and overcompensating by having such beautiful artwork.  I sound like such a novice but that’s the fun part.

No this is not the best wine you or I will ever have. It’s not even in the conversation, but what this one does is provide you with aspects with what make summer, wine drinking, and life in general so beautiful.  It’s listed anywhere from $10-$13.  I got mine for $11 (sale price from $13) and didn’t think twice about the price.

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It’s (depending on where you read) got notes and hints of grapefruit, apple, melon, and various citrus flavors.  It may be what you smell, it may be what you taste, but what it does do for sure is add to an everyday wine that can be had with friends, in solitude, and with all types of food that make you happy.

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For me, I was in the mood for sushi.  And I found the pairing to work in syncopation with the other.  Now I mainly got rolls, but a couple pieces of sushi were necessary.  And what a match made in pairing heaven.  Not only did the colors mesh well but the wine itself went done smoothly with such hearty and filling rolls.

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I enjoyed plenty of sips without food and found it enjoyable either way.

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Like I said, this will not be the best wine you or I will ever have, but not all of them should be.  If we kept saying everything was amazing or the best, actual wines that fit that old (to us) would lose its appeal. This is a good everyday wine and I’m going to assume this is all that it was ever meant to be.

But having our animal friends on a bottle always helps.

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For more on this wine, perhaps a message to the importers, Misa Imports, may be of assistance.  Otherwise this is a wine I’ve seen sparingly in stores, one of course is the Wine Source in the great neighborhood of Hampden, in Baltimore.   If you don’t live in the area, hopefully this link may be of assistance.

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Whatever Rosé you’ve been indulging in this summer (and before and beyond), I sincerely hope it’s been enjoyable, not only for you but with all the awesome people that you’ve been sharing it with.  That’s what this is all about.  I look forward to enjoying and sharing so many more of my stories with you guys.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

The Best Seat In…

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This is one of those weeks where I wasn’t thrilled or convinced with my wine options, to write about.  Some of it was timing, my intuition, and certain wines and stories being out-of-place (for now).

I thought the universe handed delivered me a sign yesterday, but then that quickly fizzled out.  Little did I know was that sign led me to something else.  It led me somewhere else.  It led me to my favorite wine shoppe of them all, the Wine Source in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore.

As organic and authentic a wine, beer, cheese, and specialty foods experience as you’re going to get, the Wine Source has always had this amazing aura and great energy about it.  It could be the neighborhood, it could be the selection, or it could be something bigger that is in no need of explanation.

But the choices of wines has always surpassed most other wine shoppes.  This is where you go to fine wine that other stores aren’t going to carry.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found a bottle here that I wasn’t even looking for but worked perfectly for the event or occasion I was going to attend.   Here’s my original story from the Wine Source to illustrate that fact.

A meet up with a dear friend who I hadn’t seen in some time obviously led to some catching up.  It was also a reintroduction into a neighborhood I’ve grown partial too, but also seen some changes that are disconcerting.   The local element is still the majority but a chain here and there is a part of the sadness,.

But all roads lead to the Wine Source.  Somehow we ended up in the area and as always I can’t not walk in.  It’s one of those places that if I’m nearby, I’m walking in.  It’s as simple as that.

And each time tells a different story.

I had no idea there was small bar set-up in one of the back corners of this massive space. But here you can sample wine, beer, spirits, and even have a full glass while you shop. Yes I said while you shop.

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I saw selected wines were only $4 a glass, which is a steal anywhere in the world.  And the fun part is, if I want to drink a wine I purchase, and want to drink it there, they’ll open it for you there.

With all these enlightening and transforming information, I had to get a glass.  And I want to thank Brook who was working the table for letting me sample the 2015 Kung Fu Girl Riesling from Charles Smith Wines.

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Now if that label looks familiar than is more than likely is.

For the most part, Riesling has never been one of those wines I sought out.  It was always too sweet and sometimes too much to stomach.   Knowing what I know now, I understand that not every Riesling is sweet.  And considering this is from the great state of Washington, I learned that these are of the dry side.  And it’s outstanding.

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This is one of the smoothest, crispest, and easily drinkable wines (let alone a Riesling) I’ve ever had.  I mean that sincerely.   It could have been the environment we were in, which was literally my friend and I sitting at the counter enjoying a sip (a few beers were sampled too, which is rare for me) and just enjoying life.   It was at this pint I only learned we could walk around with our wines.

And you still get just enough sweet to make this a delightful Riesling.  The taste of apples and lime, among various citrus flavors our perfect for Summer.  I love that so much.

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I felt like I was in another dimension, outside of the city.  And maybe I was.  I’d like to believe that at least.   Time felt like it stood still even though it’s always moving the same. And knowing I was at my favorite wine shoppe ever only accelerated something already so special, in that moment.  It was one of those things that’s almost too good and too surreal to share, but why the heck not right?

The Kung Fu Grirl a great wine by the way.  And in the price range of $9-13, you can’t go wrong.  It’s an everyday wine that go with lots of fun foods.  That’s my kind of varietal.

Chances are you’ve seen Charles Smith Wines at your local distributor.  And more than likely this bottle for sure.  I’ll get to that one soon enough.

I want to thank Brook (who is the beer guy ironically) at Wine Source for giving my glass of Kung Fu Girl Riesling on the house.  I hope I don’t get him in trouble by saying that  I’m grateful nevertheless.

If you’re in or close to the area I highly recommend a visit.

For more on Charles Smith Wines and where to find these most accessible of wines in your area, click here.

Here’s their story and more about the wines themselves.

I’m only just getting started with my admiration of The Wine Source.

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This was so fun, and it was all unplanned, unrehearsed, without any predetermination.

Predestined?  Maybe.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

 

 

Graduation

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By this time all it’s likely someone close to you has either graduated or is about to graduate.  It’s a beautiful thing in so many respects.  It’s the beginning, the end, and culmination of everything.  You worked hard for this, your family worked hard for this, friends, and everyone in between.  Now it’s time to celebrate!

This is a congratulations to my cousin on graduating.  And I don’t mean just graduating. It’s of the highest level possible.  What that entails is important but it’s one of those things that’s still so personal, so beautiful, and warms the heart that it’s just too remarkable to expound correctly.

But I’m going to do my best when it comes to the celebration and to the party.

You may find that a momentous and monumental celebration might lead you to overthink what to bring to a party, whether it’s wine, food, or a dessert.

Now I’ve been to parties that my family has either held or attended and they always do it nice.  They go above and beyond, spare no expense, and want to make everyone invited feel like family in the process.  That’s what life is all about. So that may add to the pressure.

I didn’t know it ahead of time but the masterful and incredible food spread may have had a hand in what I brought.

Luckily, there were options for wine, red and white, and other alcoholic beverages that if myself or any other guest may have made a misstep, it wouldn’t have been noticed.

Regardless of that, you still want to bring a wine that everyone will enjoy, that others will sip, so you get that sense of validation and satisfaction when your bottle is completed. It’s a glorious feeling and a little ego boost.

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How my wine turned out I truly don’t know.  And for big picture reasons, it really doesn’t matter.  But the 2015 Lion Hound Red from Ridgeback Wines, of South Africa (for more on the winery click here) is a grower.  For more on these wines you can also find more information from the importer Cape Starz Wine.

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The unique flavors are hard to describe.  And once again, none of that is truly important when you’re in a celebration to remember.

I brought it as a gift, with no intention (well, maybe) in the back of my mind that this was going to make this blog.  And I mean that with all the respect in the world.  I was just as well let this marinate with all the other wines and have the hosts open it in their own time.

Well it felt like time.

I’m a huge animal lover and the Rhodesian Ridgeback is not a dog I see everyday.  But it’s one I’ve had a few encounters with and thought they were the most beautiful of creatures.  That has no bearing on why I bought this bottle.  Cute or artistic depictions of animals on a label would never draw anyone in.  Not your truly either.  No, never.   ‘Hehe’.

The $9 price tag didn’t hurt either.

But this truly hard to describe.  It’s a mix of so many grapes and 10 months of aging in French Oak which leads to a blend that I can only explain and sweet, spicy, dry, and impression lasting.  I kind of invented that last term.

The synopsis of the 2013 vintage mentions dark cherries, plum, licorice, with hints of cigar box and wood spice.   Yes you read that correctly.  Your palates and guesses are as good as mine.

This is a full bodied wine that may taste like a medium wine to some but this one has got some potency to it.   There’s lots of grapes to love (Shiraz, Grenache, Merlot, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Viognier) which make this so intense and full of life.  Literally full of life.

I left before the wine was kicked.  So I can’t tell you other people’s impressions or thoughts, but there was a lot of wine, a lot of food, and a lot of excitement that I’m more than grateful just to have been a part of this awesome coronation and event based on love and of celebrating the end of a journey, but the creation and continuation of others.

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Beautiful.

More importantly, so was this party.  There was and is so much to be grateful for.  Not only is a celebration of family success, but it’s also a celebration of family.  Any chance to hang out with family, needs to excuse or explanation.  Sometimes the best reason is no reason, but sometimes the best reason is also of celebration.

I love my family and I’m so grateful to have been a part of this.  And I’m so grateful that I’ve already spent time with family since this celebration last weekend.

It’s a beautiful near conclusion to Spring and a hopeful and inspirational sign of things to come for the summer and beyond.

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I’ll leave with just an image or two of the amazing food spread but not much.  Some memories are meant to be kept internal.

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This is one to be cherished forever.

Love,

Ideen