starts now

The last entry was all about intentions.  This is about action.  Today was a day that would be considered most’s one week AFTER the new year.  The past two weeks have been too much to quantify as new, fresh and clean for this family.  It has been stressful, annoying, remarkable and sad.  Not quite my ideal new year start!

I achieved little to nothing in the first week of the new year, based on my last post.  And I am giving myself a pass.  Here is what I did do, which I am proud of.

  1. Last weekend, I was flown out by the new owner of TDM Salt Lake to celebrate the five year anniversary and new ownership.  I was so nervous that I begged my bestie here in Napa to go with me.  After growing some serious guts, I decided I would go on my own.  It was awesome.  I spent the first night with my bestie in SLC, laughing and eating and drinking all of our favorite things.  I taught a fun class to a packed house of my dearest friends and former students.  We ended with a mellow night in PJs at Lisa’s over lasagna and wine.  Just banner.
  2. We hosted G’s Dad at our house for the past six days.  He has the later stages of Parkinson’s Disease, not shaking, just terrible balance and very affected speech.  He has always been a talker and deal maker.  He can no longer tell you to get him a napkin.  It is heart breaking.
  3. School started today!  Everyone got out the door on time and with lunches, homework, etc.  Both kiddos were so thrilled to see their friends.  I was personally so happy to send them back, eager to learn and be social!
  4. Family Dinner Night started tonight.  It isn’t a 100% thing that we will do every night.  But for the nights it does work, we are all eating the same dinner.  Vegetable trying is a must.  Protein trying a huge bonus.  There were few tears and both got a treat!  Shocking what everyone will do while around a table.

I also purchased a “D” charm in man-made opal to hang around my neck.  I love it so very much.  For whatever reason, it has given me clarity and focus.  So much so, I went to TDM Napa today for a great class with Christie.  I cleaned house and made a good dinner for our whole family.  Weez painted, H finished his homework.  It was an ideal night at the Christo’s.  Finally, I feel that we can start 2017 as a family.  Kind of a relief, with a huge dose of JOY.

end of summer + beginning again

In an effort to re-kick-start the kick-start of the start of my blog, I would like to wax about the end of summer and what that means to me.  Summer ended, yesterday, really.  That was it.  School is officially in session, full-time.  Both kids are on the same schedule finally, which makes life so much easier.  With the Olympics ending and football season beginning, I crave cooler temperatures and hearty food.  Knowing as I do, there are always a few sneaker days between now and Halloween where it is absolutely smoking hot. October in general is always warmer than anyone wants.  But to get my mind prepared, a slow transition must begin.

I fight internally; feeling like I should ignore the corn and heirloom tomatoes and load up on squash and braising meats.  I keep reaching for my boots and plaids, when really the JCrew city shorts should still be at first grab.  Iced tea to hot tea.  Cajun Shrimp nails to Malaga Wine.  The sun is at that angle, where you know change is upon us.  The problem is that change happens so quickly, there is really never a time to soak it in, moment by moment like I would like.

What helps to make the transition an acceptable one for me is to plan.  Bring out the calendar and start marking things up all the way to December.  To plan things strategically so that there are milestones and earmarks.  Getting organized by day, week month and balance of the year helps tremendously.  Yesterday I planned the week’s worth of meals, and I have even planned a few breakfast bites, so there is no room for that blank stare.  When my fridge is stocked with things that have a purpose, I am happy.  Nothing is more disappointing than looking at a fridge full to the brim with nothing I want or can use.  The freezer also has options for quick meals post-baseball when we get home late.  Sundays we have implemented “Everyone Eats the Same” which probably sounds ridiculous to most families.  But Sunday we all come up with the menu, sit together, and eat what’s on our plate.  It is a step for us.  Don’t judge.

Today, I ordered a leopard print dress.  I am drinking more water. I am lowering my dose of crazy pills.  Lamb shanks are braising for dinner, but I am serving them with a cool couscous salad.  It is a start, and I think I am ready.

springing into summer

There are 19 days of school left for my kids.  I turn yet another year older in just over a week.  Per the usual, we have only one real vacation on the books.  However, given that we live in a place that people take vacations seriously, the weekends will be filled with all kinds of sun and fun.  I have not considered my body tone in months.  The holidays flowed right into hard work.  I reward all the hard work with wine.  Workouts have been pushed right to the furthest corner of my world.  Considering exercise used to be paramount in my life, this whole work/stress/drink/exhaustion/repeat cycle has to be adjusted.

While it takes a lot of time to plan for, the “clean” diet really does work.  And by work, I mean you lose inches, weight and you do feel great.  It can get super repetitive and it can be challenging when dining out.  Paired with a barre3 online class, or a Dailey class taught to myself or in the rare instance that I can actually make it to the studio, for my body, it is the fastest and most effective way to see results.

Here I am, three whole days into my health kick.  I am not dry.  That’s not going to change. Instead of the four (honest) glasses of wine each night at 500 calories and residual sugar, I am having one vodka on the rocks or a skinny margarita.  One drink makes me feel relaxed, and I don’t feel like I drank at all the next day.  I am avoiding gluten, grains, dairy, soy, legumes and sugar.  But keeping it in perspective is my main focus.  That way, no one else is impacted by my program.

I will post progress, highlights and pitfalls here.  Let’s hope I can greet the beaches of Lake Tahoe with a comfortable and content self.

mother’s day

Mother’s Day weekend, because it is a full weekend in my opinion, not just a day, was quite lovely.  We tried out a new sitter on Friday night, which worked out really well.  Our collection of reliable kid care was dwindling.  I put an ad on and voila, a few great gals came from that.  G and I went to Ca Momi and literally scooped up burrata cheese with pizza skin for a few hours while the  local band played some fabulous acoustic music.

Saturday, I came home to flowers and lots of goodies from the Ferry Building.  Candles, lotions, candies, honey and a new knife set were all in the mix.  We grilled lamb chops and watched a movie in front of the fire, because of course, it was pouring rain.

Sunday, we took my mom to Bottega for lunch.  I had not been to Bottega in a long time, and it did not disappoint.  Even their take on the Bellini was fabulous: prosecco with Cabernet foam on top!  We all had a great time nibbling and laughing.  No Mother’s day would be complete without a good two hours at the baseball field.  Harris had a game, which means lots of cheering and sunflower seeds.  Kind of a fun way to finish the weekend.

Here are some photos of the fun.belhbcmday


I know it is sort of 90s early 00s cuisine, but I love risotto.  It is the perfect combination of a starch (that can even be gluten free), fat, veg, and protein.  The problem is, my husband has never liked it.  He has always had not-so-great versions of it.  Having sort of given up gluten for the most part, I have had to get creative with what to pair meat and veg with.  So recently, I bought a box of risotto and made it by the instructions, served it with a filet of beef and grilled asparagus – G went bonkers for it.  He didn’t even ask where the bread was, because I made the risotto with parmesan, butter and garlic.  It was so creamy and delicious, he swore that I had added cream to it.

With this new door of exploration open, I have been dabbling here and there with risotto.  Earlier this week, I make this simple grilled chicken over roasted tomato and mozzarella risotto.  We ate every last bite, and it was so very easy to do.  Even better, most every ingredient I already had on hand.

Loosely:  I marinaded the chicken with olive oil, garlic, italian seasoning, salt and pepper for about an hour prior to simply grilling it.  I cut the breasts in half, almost like palliards, so they weren’t so bulky and they cooked faster.  I roasted grape tomatoes covered in olive oil in the oven for 40 minutes at 400.  I sauteed a ton of spinach on the stove top until barely wilted.  And of course I cooked the risotto to the directions, adding white wine for the first liquid dump (instead of chicken stock) after toasting the rice in olive oil.  When it was al dente, I added in the roasted tomatoes, sauteed spinach and blobs of mozzarella (the small ball ones) and folded it together.  G grilled the chicken, we sliced and served it over the risotto.  I topped the whole dish with a little parmesan cheese, some chopped parsley and basil, and a drizzle of olive oil.  It truly looked like a restaurant dish, and tasted so much better.  G was floored at how good it was, he even asked for it to be put into rotation.  WHAT!

new in the hood

We live in the Silverado Country Club community.  Most of my life, the club has been a part of it.. Because of the proximity, we dine at the Grill a lot, grab cocktails in the Mansion bar, if I am out of Moroccan Oil, I will run up to the spa and get some.  For months, the club has been advertising this new cafe that was coming to the grounds.  It was supposed to open last fall before the big golf tournament.  Like most things, there were delays and I was convinced it would never come to fruition.  The club really does need a little casual spot for people to grab coffee without a waiter, or the usual formality.  It is a big resort in addition to a country club, and I think they are finally starting to realize that.

Last Thursday was the soft opening of the Market & Bakery.  We of course had the art show to attend at rival Napa Valley Country Club, so we missed it.  I promised the kids we would go check it out on the weekend.  Since the weather was nice enough, we hopped on our bikes and cruised over to the new spot.  It is perfectly placed in the center of the grounds.  It has red awnings that dot the familiar white siding that’s on all of the other buildings.  There is a fire pit, tables with lots of chairs, and built in heaters hanging from the patio columns.  Inside, there’s a typical counter where you can order.  They have breads, pastries and cookies from Bouchon Bakery.  You can order specialty coffees made to order.  They have pre-wrapped sandwiches and salads that looked yummy.  Plus, there’s an actual market.  Chilled wines, craft beers, artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, nuts, ships, crackers plus nice tequila and vodka!  They have Napa logo gear, the tasteful kind.  I was so impressed.

We sat outside and enjoyed the surroundings.  H ate his pain au raisin quickly, Weez dismantled her muffin.  The coffee was strong and hot.  To have this option when wine reserves are low, or when dinner just needs a bag of pasta…this market could really become an asset.  When otherwise I would have to get in the car and schlep to Whole Foods.  Same goes for the morning.  On the weekends, we might scoot down to Model or Starbucks.  Why bother when we can ride our bikes to an even better spot!  I am so thrilled the Market & Bakery are open.  Good job, Silverado!


back to the barre

With all of the health kicking going on around here, it was about time I reconfirmed my love for the barre.  When I was training years ago to be a Dailey Method teacher, I had recently had Weez, and had not really been very fit in the years I had spent in Utah as a mom.  Matter of fact, I couldn’t even do a push-up, a real one.  This was also a stressful time in my life, taking the leap into business ownership isn’t for the weak.  I was also working with the Junior League to develop a cookbook, like a real cookbook, and it had some serious deadlines and stress that came along with it as well. By the time we opened our studio doors, I was in the best shape of my life.  I loved (and lived for) exercise!

Shift to today, I now live far away from the wonderful studio my partner and I built. Thankfully, a studio opened in Napa shortly after we moved here.  It is a lovely place that I taught a lot at when they first opened.  Teaching is such a passion of mine, but making the time to do so is challenging.  Taking a class is something that I love to do too, but finding time to fit in an hour of “me time” is even more ridiculous and often feels selfish. But if I think back to when I was in the best shape, it was when I was dedicated to the barre.  It was that simple.  Considering how much effort I put into eating clean and avoiding alcohol, you’d think that adding exercise to that would be obvious.

I have set a simple goal of three classes a week.  If I can’t get into the studio, I use the barre 3 online classes, which are great if you only have 10 or 15 minutes.  After 26 days of eating within the 30 Clean guidelines and drinking wine on the weekends, now that I have added in the barre classes, I have seen and felt a major difference.  Without the barre, I looked the exact same.  The same spots were there, annoying me.  I have recommitted to the exercise I know works.  If I can squeeze it in, I may even start teaching on Wednesday evenings.  I love feeling good, and I finally do.

about me

I was born in San Diego.  My parents retired in Napa.  I went to college in Stockton. I worked hard in San Francisco.  I raised children in Salt Lake City.  I am here now.

Things you should know:

  • I teach barre classes when I have time
  • I am a personal assistant most all the time
  • I am also a mother of two
  • I have a fancy cat
  • I don’t like to wash my hair
  • I wear makeup and work-out clothes whenever possible
  • I cook a lot of food
  • I enjoy martinis, vegetables, Hermes scarves and lip gloss
  • My look is always a mix of hi-lo, old-new, classic-trend
  • Avocados and heaven are one in the same
  • I love the color orange
  • I will have iced tea on tap in my dream home
  • Florence Welch
  • I miss my blackberry
  • I once was a pageant girl
  • My husband is anti-Disney and hates sci-fi
  • I love the above, regardless of those details
  • I can’t live without instagram or spotify
  • I love to read blogs

Tell me about you.  I promise to keep it between us.