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.
Just being totally frank. This blog is public. That gives me anxiety. Anxiety is something I have suffered from most all of my life. It intensified a way I never knew it could after I had my first child. Thankfully, I was ready for pharmaceutical help. And boy did it help. But that was nine years ago. Today, the dose of medication I take just isn’t enough, or life has grown to be too stressful, or who knows. The reason I share this is because I go to post something, I pause. What if my boss reads this? What if I reveal too much? What if this pouring of personal life is used in a way that would hurt my family? Then I stop. There are two people that read my blog with any regularity, and it is a miracle they still do. I used to be a great blogger. Now I am trapped in fear that this blog can never be what I want. But I am going to just go for it. So all two of you can assure me that my pontificate post is nothing to worry about.
But for reals, if you suffer from anxiety, there are ways to lessen the load. If you have never talked to your doctor about it, do. It is so simple to lessen the load. Seriously. You will be no different than you are now, just more able to deal with all that life has. It can seem like there is no way to make anything better, like the world is about to set it’s entire load upon you. It isn’t, and the world continues regardless if you are in a panic or not. I can tell you as someone has considered leaving this earth by my own hand, there’s help and it is there for you. But the world keeps clicking along. It is too big to care about our silly issues. So I am asking you to take care of you with every option you have. Don’t suffer anymore.
This past weekend was Bottlerock. As you may know from my previous post, we had planned to attend only Saturday of the three day festival . The weather turned up to the 90s and the town of Napa was primed and ready for this epic event to take place. The lineup was awesome and everyone was really looking forward to it.
My boss planned on going all three days. He of course had Platinum level tickets. We had single day VIP tickets. As I was driving to work on Friday morning, my boss and his wife called to say they were not going to use their tickets on Friday, and asked if we would like to use them. DUH!
We scrambled for a sitter. We put on our festival wear. I cancelled my nail appointment and spray tan. When you are offered Platinum, you pull out all the stops to make it happen. And it was so much fun. We clinked glasses with Gordon Ramsay in the lounge. We watched Michael Franti from high above on the sky deck. What an unexpected fun night!
Saturday was equally as amazing, with an afternoon in the hot sun, with all of our dearest friends. Florence was beyond anything I could ever imagine. She has energy and spirit like none other. I danced so much my calf muscles will take a week to function normally. I have unexplained bruises all over. I lost my voice. I am sunburned and my feet smart. But boy oh boy, it was a blast.
I cannot WAIT until next year!
Where did this month go? There was a lot going on, for sure. But it seemed like the first part of the month just flew right by. G’s birthday was mid-week, so I sent him to the spa during the day. We both celebrated a few days later on my actual birthday, which was on a Saturday this year. Dinner at Cole’s Chop House with an amazing bottle of Shafer Relentless couldn’t have been more perfect (thanks, my very best in-laws for the juice). We met friends later at the Mansion at Silverado for more celebratory cocktails. Our neighbors gave us a ride home, and of course joined us for a nightcap. That last little sip turned into a late night house party at our pad, with other friends stopping by to join in. Let’s just say it was a banner celebration for a silly forty something birthday.
What’s even better, G and I had been talking about joining a club or a rec center so we would have access to a pool for the summer. We have friends at each local country club; really dear friends. My mom has been a member of Silverado for nearly 30 years. But, Napa Valley Country Club is a very young, family friendly place. Silverado is primarily a resort. They cater to people coming to Napa for vacation. It is beautiful and stately. It feels like a classic “club.” Napa Valley CC is also picturesque, but there it is just the members. No resort. No fluff. The pool is for the families. The clubhouse is small and understated, but the popcorn machine runs all day and the kids have a ball in complete safety.
I received one gift for my birthday: a NVCC membership! It is a gift the whole family will enjoy year after year. Half of our friends are definitely disappointed that we picked Napa. The other half is so thrilled. They have been including us in events there for the past two years, and we have always had a ball. Today, Memorial Day, we went to the pool for their annual celebration. Between the hot dogs, water balloons, cannon ball contest, parent/kid swim relays…I would say we’ve found our happy place. Happy Birthday to ME!
We have the best friends. I am sappy today, because we really do. I think G and I are pretty easy to get along with, we are super casual, we are easy going, our kids are well behaved (most of the time). We seem to be closest with people just like us. What is most fantastic, our friends are effortless.
Flash to yesterday. I decided to clean the garage after picking up the kids from their care spot. As I am shoving things around, one of our besties pulls up in her mini, she was dropping something off to a friend down the street. After a quick chat, we decided to do an impromptu family dinner at our place. It was a school night, and all four of the adults work full time. Now, this is totally horn tooting, but it is my damn blog and I can toot away. In about 30 minutes time, we planned a pretty fantastic menu of grilled pork chops, porcini polenta, asparagus and green beans. We put together an amazing cheese and charcuterie plate to start. Even the wines were paired. The kids were thrilled with pizza, strawberries and cookies plus tons of outdoor fun. There was little effort put out by any one person. We all just took a little part and did it while chatting about upcoming fun. I know some people are completely incapable of putting together a home cooked dinner for just themselves, on any night.
What was so awesome about last night, it was so easy because we have such incredible friends. We always have a great time: at home, on the town, at kid events, at school! So cheers to our friends for being ours! Couldn’t ask for much more.
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 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 care.com 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.
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!
I have ignored my sweet blog that I actually pay to produce. I love to blog! But a few things do get in the way when I sit down and start to write. This blog is public, meaning anyone can read it. Why does that matter? Well, what I do for a living can’t be written about, that would be wrong on so many levels. In the past I would show pictures of my home, talk about my neighborhood, use my children’s actual names, because those that were allowed access to read my blog were hand selected friends and family members. I am cautious now. Guarded. And that’s tough for me. If you know me personally, I am private to those I don’t know well and completely transparent to those I do. It makes writing a chore, just a little bit. So I am working on it, and am going to just go for it. Mainly because literally no one reads this blog, and hardly anyone knows it even exists. So, from this point forward, minus a few things, I will be me. No more hesitation. If it pisses you off, so be it. And at this point, there isn’t even a “you” to piss off! How about that?!?
It is hard not to just vent away on this post, but I won’t. It will just make me seem ungrateful and angry. And I couldn’t be further from both. However, the days leading up to this trip have been challenging. I will get the first one out and try to be done with it. My husband. He has never wanted to go, so he has made no plans that he was actually going to get in the car today. He hasn’t packed. He didn’t take time off from work. He even went so far to say he “didn’t know the plan” despite my efforts to include him in it all.
When he arrived home from a work (green beer/Irish car bomb fest) function in San Francisco last night, he found H moaning in pain, claiming his belly hurt. He was sitting on the toilet, crying. This had been going on for about an hour before he got home; the three hours prior were spent roller skating with the kids next door. Our neighbors have been to Disneyland at least ten times in the past five years. Those types of people. I think all the talk made H nervous. So nervous that he puked everywhere. All over his room. For background, Harry barfed all day the day that Weez was born. Even though it was a planned, scheduled event, he felt out of control, excited (maybe), scared and nervous. I think the same situation was going on last night. Regardless, the cussing and irritation hit an all time high with G as he scrubbed the carpet in disgust. I was furious, tired, sad and desperate.
With H’s sheets in the wash, I continued packing. I made him a bed on the kid’s couch and sat a barf bowl near by. I asked God silently for guidance. I questioned all of my behaviors and words leading up to this night. Was I too vague with G to avoid the negativity? Did I intentionally leave him out? Did I make too big of a deal of Weezy’s banner report card and award in front of H? Or were the school meatballs just so gross, they were the culprit?
I am a planner. I am a doer. I need things to go seamlessly. I like praise. I need pats on the back. I love hearing affirmation.
We’ve pushed back our departure time, and are trying to take it easy around the house for a bit. I will continue to stay positive, and finish packing. That’s what my gut is telling me to do. For now, at least. (tucks lip and sighs)