Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Great Wine for $20 or Under?

During the holidays, I am on a wine mission. When we go to parties, we take along a bottle of wine. We give wine as gifts. We serve wine at our own parties. We have wine with dinner. All good excuses to be trying wine all of the time. Afterall, this is northern California.

I've learned the hard way, and I keep learning this over and over unfortunately, that just because a wine costs $50, doesn't make it good. When I take a bottle of wine to a party, or to someone's house, I don't want to leave it up to fate or chance--I want a decent bottle of wine!

Over at my other little blog, I keep a running journal of cocktails, mocktails and wines I'd like to try. In December's Marin Magazine, they had a great article on local sommeliers and wine, so I jotted down the info to keep handy during my holiday shopping.

Wine can be an expensive hobby, so I like to choose with care. I've included the link above to Headed To Margaritaville, if you'd like to check out my quick distilled version. If you'd like to read the full Marin Magazine version, click here.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thank You, Friends!

Our family, and two others, just got back from our annual vacation to Napa. Each year we head to Calistoga, which is wine country's quieter, gentler town. It is still small and hasn't been dominated by fancy cars, over-priced restaurants and irrational, upscale boutiques. You know this is true if you can take 7 kids to dinner and receive minimal stares.

While there, we celebrated Birk's 9th birthday. (She is thankful that the Mariachi band wasn't at the Mexican restaurant for her birthday dinner!) What better way to celebrate your birthday, as a kid or grown up, than by floating around a huge, mineral pool that has got to be the world's biggest hot tub.

For the fourth time, all 13 of us, travelled to Indian Springs. While there, we always gel into one big, relaxed family. The kids hang, the grown ups hang, and we all eat and eat and eat. Oh, and the grown ups are surrounded by vines, so you know what that means. Happy kids. Happy parents. Happy life.

As a family, we are very thankful that we can spend this time with our friends. It's true, when you are so far away from your real families on Thanksgiving, it is amazing to have friends who love you like family.

This is not true of just our friends that travelled with us on this trip, but of all of our friends near and far. You support us each and every day and you mean the world to us. Life can be a big, messy, unmanageable place--our friends make it smaller, cozier and manageable.

Thank you.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Margarita Friday: Chambord Margarita Royale

It Friday, and Friday around here isn't just Friday, it's Margarita Friday. This Friday's margarita is the Chambord Margarita Royale.

Chambord is a black raspberry liqueur. It's sweet and tasty on its own, but when mixed in a margarita, it's especially delicious.

Chambord Royale Margarita
  • 1 1/2 oz Silver Tequila (Chambord recommends Herradura Silver Tequila)
  • 3/4 oz Chambord
  • 3/4 oz Pomegranate Juice
  • 1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into margarita or martini glass. Finish with raspberries.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pre Holiday Doldrums or My Life Is A Beer Commercial

I am sitting here, contemplating my holiday strategy. It's almost a little depressing to have this mountain of holiday happiness in front of me. The decorations blare at me in vivid reds and greens at every shop and all I can think is STOP!

There is so much merriment to be had--but I've had so much merriment lately, that I think another party season is going to kill me. There's the planning, the prepping, the shopping, the pre cleaning, the post cleaning, the cooking, the driving, the checking the list twicing, the gingerbread house icing....whew!

Oh, and according to my magazines, I'm supposed to look fabulous while doing all of this. A new holiday wardrobe, haircut and makeup is on the horizon? If I keep reading same said magazines, there is also a diet and a way to go to parties and only eat celery so that you still fit in you old clothes in January. This is a lot of work.

My husband and I were sitting on the padded bench at California Pizza Kitchen on a Sunday night, waiting for a table. The world was moving around us at top speed and there was that din you can only hear at 7 PM at night in CPK. It was a mixture of kids that were up much too late past their bedtime, hungry kids who needed to be fed fast, and parents trying to control the circus.

Our kids were racing around outside. We were comatose. It had been a full weekend of excellent social fun. If Ebeneezer Scrooge was looking into windows on Friday and Saturday night, he would have thought we were the Fezziwigs. It was all laughter, smiles, fun, great food, dancing and delicious drinks. Sunday, though, Sunday is always Sunday.

I turned to my husband and said, "I feel like I live in a beer commercial sometimes." He found this comment quite interesting. If Ebeneezer looked into the window of CPK, he would had seen a perfect mock up for Degas's L'Absinthe.

And that is where I am this Tuesday morning.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sorry, If You Know Me, Sometimes You End Up On My Blog

I apologize to all those I've offended in the past. Most people that I talk about on my blog either:

  1. Don't even know I have a blog.
  2. Know I have a blog, yet never read it.
  3. Or, know I have a blog and couldn't care less about this little waste of time hobby that I have.

It cracks me up when I'm sitting having coffee with someone, and I'm trying to figure out if they've really read my blog (like they say they do), or if I should tell them the story anyway. Sometimes, I'm just repeating things that someone has already read, or is pretending that they haven't read.

The blogosphere is such a weird corner of the universe. I am mistress here, at my blog. I am queen of my little worldly queendom. I can say what I want, within reason after my anonymity disappeared.

Actually, I have another little space where I say quite a lot that is completely anonymous, but that is for really bad days. If I'm writing about you there, you don't want to know about it. But, oh, friendly reader, if I'm talking about you here, you have nothing to worry about.

I know you might be here. I know you might be reading. I have a little inner censor working on my brain within the constraints of this public blog. Fear not, if you appear here.

P.S. This does not apply to any of the crazy clad Halloween friends who do not read my blog and have no idea their crazy picture showed up here right after Halloween!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Help

This summer I read The Help, by Kathryn Stockett.

This book had me thinking about the "help" in my life.

It's funny, when I'm off on summer adventures, whenever I mention the teeniest bit that I have some "help," I am immediately awkward. I feel like I'm complaining about spam to someone on a starvation diet.

Here, in my "normal" life, help is a staple of small talk. Either the "help" is outstanding, or not doing it's job. There is always something to be said about the "help." Maybe you need more help or maybe you need to cut back on the help. Maybe the "help" is no longer helping you the way that they should.

There are the women in my circle that are wonderful at managing the "help." There are women, like me, that are almost ashamed to admit that they need "help."

No matter what, we all wish for more help. We are not always sure what kind of help we need, but I sure could use some magical help that shows up and magically knows how to help me.

All I know for sure, is the some of the help makes more than I did as a teacher. What does that say right there?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Catcher in the Rye? It's Always Good To Have A Friend Looking Out For You

"You know that song 'If a body catch a body comin' through the rye'? I'd like — "

"It's 'If a body meet a body coming through the rye'!" old Phoebe said. "It's a poem. By Robert Burns."

"I know it's a poem by Robert Burns."

She was right, though. It is "If a body meet a body coming through the rye." I didn't know it then, though.

"I thought it was 'If a body catch a body,'" I said. "Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around — nobody big, I mean — except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff — I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy."

On Halloween, my 8 year old daughter was trick or treating with her best friend. These two have been constant companions since they were three years old. They even have the same birthday. For two little girls, there has never been a fight or cross word. It is a pretty special, unbelievable relationship.

Unfortunately, little Laura slipped and broke her arm at the beginning of the night. Her candy bag was empty and she was in immense, screeching pain. Birk was so upset. After the rest of the kids returned, they put a bag of candy together for Laura. Birk noted that she gave Laura all of her favorites.

Birk made her a card, and even included some money for her UNICEF trick or treating.

A couple of days later, we were driving in the car:

Me: What are you thinking about back there, you're pretty quiet?
Birk: Mom, I wish I could rewind time and do Halloween over again.
Me: Why?
Birk: Then I would rewind the time and catch Laura before she could fall...

That little conversation reminded me of this quote from J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. I hadn't thought about that book in a while. I love the idea of the Holden Caulfields of the world catching us if we are about to fall. May we all be so lucky.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween...The New Christmas???

I love Halloween. Everyone who knows me, or drives past my house in the month of October, knows that there is some kind of strange relationship going on with me and October 31st. I realize that is not grammatically correct, but I'm going with it.

I'm also lucky enough to have my birthday right after Halloween. Which is why I might like this event so much--all of my life, Halloween has signaled the beginning of a birthday. In the olden days, it signified homemade Angel food cakes and ice cream. Nowadays, it signifies a day free of guilt from cooking and cleaning.

I've connected with a few other people in my adult world who also like to celebrate the Black and Orange holiday. We dress as pirates, witches, or zombies in short skirts and creepy make-up. If the costumes are elaborate, you should be on the wild ride of costume production. October is filled with anticipation, decoration, preparation and tiny snickers bars.

We have as much fun as 12 year old kids. There are no wish lists, religious obligations or mandatory parties. There is only fun. And now we are tired. Very tired.

Good thing we have photos like this one to remind us how much fun we had and why we are so tired now!