How We Handle Our Childhood Around Here

The month of May has proven to be a harried one so far, with wine events and farmer’s markets and dance recitals (well, there was one) and holidays and studio time and advising at health screening events (this last one is not hard work, just time-consuming), and oh, I have children. I’m not saying this is any different from the norm – I recognize nearly everyone could say the same thing about their life, at least at some point during it. And let’s get this straight – I’m not complaining. I don’t think I would know what to do with myself if I wasn’t in a constant state of “Who/What/When/Where/Now!” But sometimes it’s nice to tell work to just back-the-toy-dump-truck-up and chill out to play with my whippersnappers.

Then there are these questions: “What should we do?” If all we have is one afternoon with cooperative weather – do we go to a park or create our own fun at home in our yard? If the weather isn’t conducive to outdoor time, do we dance to sing-a-long songs or do we do a craft? How can I best serve my children with my time and attention, away from computers and smart phones and televisions?

One way we answer that question is with Kelly Kits. Thank you Kelly! I don’t know you but you make us all happy with the goodies you send each month!

Kelly Kit

Kelly Kits is a monthly subscription service (you know how I love me some of those) that delivers crafts for all ages straight to your door step. Lila is a big fan. And no, I don’t get any kick back from the company to tell you about them. They’re that good.

On this particular day with this particular Kelly Kit, we made our own maracas (something I vaguely referred to in 16 Things My Kids Have Taught Me about Myself).

A showing of all the goodies we received to make our own maracas. I should mention: glitter.
A showing of all the goodies we received to make our own maracas. I should mention: glitter.
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“Look Mom, a balloon on a stick! You are the coolest mom EVER!” Okay, that last part wasn’t said.

Lila is at a fun age where I can let her go with stuff, like glue sticks and tiny scissors and small paint brushes. Luke still just wants to paint a mustache on himself and/or the dog, so this project happened during his nap time.

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This was my finished maraca, but I must say Lila’s was even prettier because it had exponentially more glitter.

Okay, that’s great Crystal. You make your own maracas – been there done that. What else do you do with their childhood?

Our current favorite thing: Fence painting.

No, I’m not referring to actually painting the fence. Although that would be a super brilliant way for me to get the fence stained. Hmmm….

This is fence painting:

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Water, washable paint, 25-foot banner paper, fun brushes and painting objects + a paint shirt = a good childhood.
Water, washable paint, 25-foot banner paper, fun brushes and painting objects + a paint shirt = a good childhood.

And then, there are obstacle course days. Lila was very nearly born at my boot camp class, so it’s only fitting she gets a kick out of running ladders and doing various other athletic things most adults pay professionals to make them do.

These photos were from a semi-decent day earlier this year during late winter.

Obstacle course for kids

I see a collision in waiting...
I see a collision in waiting…

Of course, there are always bubbles. Lots and lots of bubbles. Something about these shiny, soapy, floating balls of bliss make even the grumpiest of grumps feel like a kid again. Had a bad day at work? Bubbles. Remember Professor Coldheart (Mr. Freeze) from Care Bears? The dude needed some serious bubble time.

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If all else fails, we get our Hopscotch on!

Hopscotch

Usually Luke makes our Hopscotch time more interesting by spraying us with the water hose and laughing hysterically. Stay tuned in 16 years for his childhood recap, which I’ll appropriately title: “How We Handle Diabolical Behavior Around Here.”

Some helpful resources I like to refer to for fun kids activities:

Happy Hooligans

Kelly Kits

Growing a Jeweled Rose

The Tuesday Tank + Hyperbiotics PRO-Women Review

Things are getting warm over here, says the girl who took cold showers as a child and hyperventilated in the sauna once or twice. But in addition to the weather heating up, my winemaker and I did a fun thing last weekend. We kind of unexpectedly released a party in a bag.

Jalapeno Wine Lemonade, my friends! Turns out it’s a real thing and it’s a real delicious thing. We debuted the unlabeled “party pouches” at the farmer’s markets on Saturday and people came, people tasted, people left with pouches of parties. Spicy lemonade is what’s going on these days. It’s super fun to witness. But we need your thoughts, my friends. We’d love to get a label on our fun-bags and our multi-talented graphic designer/idea manufacturer extraordinaire is working on it. So far we’ve got this guy, what do you think?

Jalapeno Wine Lemonade

By now most of you are familiar with Hal. Consider this lemon dude his sour step-sibling. Which brings up another item of business: We need a name! The winemaker likes Lyle. What do you think? I need you and your brains, please comment at the end of this post with your super catchy nominations!

So that’s what’s new on the winery front. Here’s what’s new with my inter-web findings for this installment of The Tuesday Tank. It seems the hidden “tracker-of-all-things-I-read-and-like” knows me pretty dang well. Well played, Big Brother. So I like wine, healthy yummy things, pretending I clean my house, laughing and thinking big thoughts in small doses. Was that really so challenging?

The Tuesday Tank

~ I feel like we need to talk about these asparagus fries with greek yogurt dipping sauce

crispy-baked-asparagus-fries-500-9195Only because I made them for Easter brunch with my family and only because they were GONE. Just gone. Even my bag-o’ chips-meal-replacement-loving brother said they were really good. BAM! I win. Find an excuse to make these. You’re welcome.

~ If I got another tattoo it might be this list, on my forehead, for my lady clients… 6 Things No One Tells Women About Their Weight Loss Journey. “The path to a slimmer you is not a straight line.” Amen. Hey you, water-retaining foxy lady, just hear this please.

~ Why is doing anything for 30 days supposedly easier for us? It’s not. But I’m working on it… I’m taking the Spring Clean in 30 Challenge from Clean Mama, because I can do this. Can’t I? Okay…Spring Clean in 60 doesn’t sound as good but it may end up being my story. I mean…there are windows involved.

~ I’m not a wine snob, but I don’t like cheap wine and I don’t like over-priced wine. Does that just make me “normal?”… The Wine Economist (he’s kind of a big deal) reports that U.S. wine sales below about $9 “are stagnant or falling…with the largest percentage rise in the $20+ segment.” What does this mean for my winemaker and I? “The new normal will focus on wines that tell as good a story as other contemporary market products, such as craft beers and spirits and locally-sourced food products.” Um, not to prematurely celebrate or anything but…have you heard of jalapeno wine?

~ Remember that time you let your Tom Hanks infatuation lead you right to this 6-minute video? It’s your lucky day… Tom Hanks Reenacts All of His Films in Six Minutes. Once upon a time many moons ago, as a 20-year-old in New York City, I was in a group interview for a Victoria’s Secret Associate position and they asked every woman in the room who they’d have lunch with if they could only pick one person in the world. Everyone was choosing Vin Diesel. I chose Tom Hanks. Why? Becaaaaause shimmy shimmy cocoa puff!

~ I learned something about myself very soon after college – I am not a “seeker of resume virtues.” I am also not good at everything. This is my truth. Find yours… The New York Times Moral Bucket List. The sooner you figure it out, the happier you’ll be. Cheers to that.

~Dr. Oz vs. All Other Doctors, on the next Judge Judy… All of the Arguments Dr. Oz Made Against His Critics Were Wrong. Is it just me or is it actually stranger that people are now just realizing Dr. Oz is slightly off? Why is there surprise here? Oh. Because Oprah.

*Special Bonus Section!*

Review: Hyperbiotics PRO-Women with D-Mannose

I was recently selected to review some very high-tech probiotics for women. And by high-tech I mean super-fantastically engineered. This formula is made for women, by women, and specifically addresses women’s health issues (candida, chronic yeast or UTIs, all that non-fun stuff). You might be wondering why in the world I would want to review a probiotic. Let me tell you – I have the stomach of a seagull. The smallest detour from my normal eating habits can make me puff up like an over-Alka-Seltzer’ed beach bird. Is the picture painted? Great. So let’s talk about why I loved Hyperbiotics.

hyperbiotics review

The Pros

  • There are 6 Broad Spectrum Probiotic Strains, which basically means in addition to restoring the balance of healthy yeast and improved digestion, there’s some weight loss and reduced bloating benefits as well (especially if you’ve never taken probiotics before – your virgin system will be pushed into Go Mode).
  • There’s this D-Mannose thing. What you need to know about D-Mannose is that studies prove it helps 90% of UTIs within 1-2 days. Combine that with unsweetened whole cranberry juice, which is also in these super-power pills, and it’s money well spent.
  • Longer shelf life without refrigeration. If you’re like me, you’ve probably purchased probiotics and put them in your refrigerator where maybe they’ve stayed for months or even years. What you don’t realize is that if they need to be refrigerated it means they need to be used up as soon as possible. Woops!
  • These magic pills are time-released, so you only take one a day (you can take them more often for “intense repair”).
  • More protection. As in for your gastrointestinal tract. Apparently most probiotics we take only retain about 4% of their effectiveness by the time they pass through the wicked stomach environment. Hyperbiotics retain 60% effectiveness.

The Cons

  • There was actually only one con for me, and that was outside of anyone’s control. My well-meaning son passed on a small stomach bug while I was just a couple days into trying these probiotics. I had to stop taking them momentarily so my stomach could come up for air and crackers. As soon as the bug was gone however, I started back up taking one a day. The instructions on the label suggest that for daily maintenance you only need to take one a day but for more intense repair you can take 2-3 capsules twice per day. I tried the latter and…no go for me. I’m telling you – it’s a seagull situation over here. If you’re like me start with one/day, it’ll do the trick!

Where to Buy

You can purchase Hyperbiotics PRO-Women with D-Mannose at Hyperbiotics.com or on Amazon.com Hyperbiotics (click this link to see their product page).

*This review was powered by BrandBacker.*

16 Things My Kids Have Taught Me about Myself

If you’re a parent or a caregiver of any kind, you’ve probably been faced with some of your darkest days. You’ve looked deep into your minion’s eyes and tried to get to the belly of their inner beast, only to find your own. It’s not pretty. Everything you thought you knew about yourself, everything you thought you could take on and overcome like a flawless action figurine, gets pooped on before you even figure out how to say bilirubin. (Go ahead, look it up. I’ll wait.)

But I suppose some of the best teachers are the ones you think are A-holes at the time. Not that my children are ever A-holes. Except a few times I’ve thought maybe they’re practicing for it. Then I feel like an A-hole for thinking that about my own flesh and blood because the moment I’m thinking it is the moment they do something ridiculously adorable or sweet or genius or remarkable or appreciative. And I become the A-hole. I’ll do better tomorrow.

In the meantime, I thought I’d reflect on what my little teachers have taught me about myself so far. I’m only about four years into this parenting gig but I can tell you we parents learn a LOT in that first week. Such as how to refrain from asking the nurse 500 times how anyone expects you to take this baby home and know what to do with it. They really don’t like to be asked that.

16 Things My Children Have Taught Me about Myself

1. I don’t actually want a perfect/better/ideal body.

You know how when you’ve had maybe a little too much wine and you’re happy and laid back and loving life and you’re with your best people and you say things like, “Who cares if one boob is smaller than the other? It’s what makes me ME!” No? Okay me either. Anyhow – I don’t think I got off to a good start with this one so let me re-phrase.

The point IS: I hear many the mom talking about herself like she isn’t good enough or as though if she just lost five more pounds she’d be perfect, and that’s just not the way I want my daughter to think about herself. Nor do I want my son growing up to judge other women by their weight. Therefore, I don’t say it about myself because I don’t want my kids to hear me say it and think I’m not happy with who I am. Not saying it has translated into not thinking about it.

Let’s not confuse this with my other goals for my body – like staying strong, being healthy and fit and respecting what my body can do – those are the things I would like my kids to learn from me. But having children has taught me that there are more important things in life than having a perfectly flat stomach 365 days out of the year.

2. I have no clue what boys are really thinking.

Having a boy has convinced me that I will never truly understand the way my husband thinks. Likewise, I know. But I’m slowwwwly learning to stop speculating. Men are painfully simple. Women not so much. As soon as I think I know what my son is thinking he reminds me how complicated I’m making it. Just the other day I thought he was maybe thinking, “Man I really love playing with dirt.” When in fact he was thinking, “Playing with dog poop is wayyyyy more fun.” Note to self: What you think the men in your life are thinking and what they’re actually thinking are not the same thing.

3. I am a really fun mom, until you mess my $#@! up.

I’m the mom who loves to do crafts with the kids or play with glitter and sand and make galaxy dough and paint windows with colored soap or make elephant toothpaste (it’s all fun and games, though, until someone gets peroxide in their eye). But as soon as somebody messes up my homemade paper mache maraca, I’m no longer stoked about the situation. Call it immature, but the inner child in me still doesn’t like my creative focus disturbed. Which leads me to…

4. Sometimes the only way to save the day is to bake stuff.

It’s a weird thing, this baking love of mine. It’s really evolved. I used to bake to eat the goodies. Now I just bake for therapeutic reasons and then feel shocked when I find two dozen double chocolate chip cookies sitting on my counter. My children have taught me to embrace the tried-and-true cure for a bad day and just bake it out. They’re happy, I’m happy, and loved ones everywhere are left trying to figure out why their trainer friend just pushed 800 calories into their laps and ran away to get back to baking some more junk that she won’t eat.

"Mom? Do you hate me or something?"
“Brussels sprouts? Do you hate me or something?”

5. I am better at the hard stuff vs. the easy stuff in life.

I’ve always been this way but my tiny people have really alerted me to this fact. I have no problem quitting a salary-paying job for unreliable income, or accomplishing lofty long-term goals or teaching boot camp up to the day before giving birth. Yet most mornings I can’t put on mascara without poking my eyes out, I get sweaty palms at the thought of clothes shopping and I’m nearly incapable of long phone conversations anymore. Parenting makes you figure out what you’re good at so that you can focus more on those things. I’m hoping to use this insight to get out of helping my kids with their math homework in a few years.

6. I still don’t understand why girls are so freaking mean.

I thought it was a junior high thing/high school thing. I’ve been corrected. Girls can be just as mean at 3 and 4 years old, it’s just that they don’t hold quite the grudges yet. So even though Lila may come home from preschool and tell me yesterday’s friend is no longer her friend, I’ve learned that they’ll forget about it tomorrow and be good to go. Fast-forward to the aggressive line of cars waiting to pick up kids after school: Yep, girls are still mean. And I still don’t get it.

7. I’m not a mommy-group person.

Maybe since I’ve never been a group type of person the whole mom group thing just doesn’t appeal to me. I think they’re great and they can be very useful tools for many moms and kids, especially if they’ve just moved to a new town. When I was pregnant the first time I figured maybe I’d find me a good mom’s group. But the post-partum me realized I already had a pretty great mom’s group – they’re my married with children/married without children/unmarried with children/single friends. And they don’t judge me if I tell them all my kids ate for breakfast was toast and cheese.

8. I will probably never be patient enough.

*Sigh* I want to be that patient person/wife/mom. I do. And I’ve gotten better. But my patience could use some work and I’ve come to realize I may have passed that trait down to my daughter. Luckily my sense of humor gets me through it. But even Jiminy Cricket would deem me a hopeless cause most days.

9. I don’t know everything.

I know, I know, this is shocking to all of us. Becoming a parent makes you sickenly aware of all you don’t know. Want to give someone’s confidence a kick in the jewels? Hand them a baby and make them raise it. “Oh, you think you know everything, do you? Well, Google called and they’d like you to start paying per click.”

10. I have a lot to learn.

This goes right along with the above but I’m so abundantly aware of it, I thought I’d address it all on its own. There are so many things we can’t possibly wrap our minds around and yet having any number of children makes you feel like you must learn it all NOWNOWNOW! And yet, the only thing you truly want to do right now is maybe snuggle a bottle of wine and catch up on mindless television shows (which you haven’t watched for over 4 years, but whatever). From business skills to self-improvement to toddler hair how-to, from fitness resources to recipes to how to make and stick to a family budget – plus all the things beyond and in-between – I’d like to go back to school now because this real world stuff is some restless subject matter.

11. Carbs are NOT my enemy – flu viruses are.

Seriouslyyyyyyy. Let’s re-examine our true adversaries, everyone! Saltines become your FRIENDS when you have kids! Woke up with diarrhea thanks to Junior who came down with a stomach virus last week? Saltines for breakfast. Can’t even summon the energy or desire to eat real food because your princess brought home the ‘ol fever/chills/slow death combo? Saltines for five days. I’ve learned to stop treating any kind of food like the devil because sometimes toast is what’s for dinner.

12. I still really enjoy a good puzzle.

I’m completely ok with my husband making fun of me late at night because what began as me picking up after the kids in the living room resulted in me finishing all their puzzles for 30 minutes. No shame.

13. I am my mother and my father and it’s ok. Usually.

I know what you think about your children sometimes – you wonder if you’ll pass down all your worst traits and hope instead that they only take in the good ones. About that: Both outcomes are inevitable. While I’m actually quite proud I take after both my parents in certain ways, becoming a mother is like walking around with two thought bubbles following you around all the time. It gets super complicated when those thought bubbles start arguing with one another. Many times I just stop and stand there thinking, “Who’s going to win THIS internal battle, Mom or Dad?”

14. Being a wife is easy. Being a great wife takes serious self-reflection.

Fact: I am a serial monogamist. Marriage works for me, I like having a husband and I enjoy being a wife. It was just much, much easier being a great wife before kids. Kids, although remarkable and rewarding and wonderful, can unexplainably take up every room, thought, moment and ounce of energy. Kids change a marriage – sometimes for the worst but optimally for the better. I vow for it to always be for the better, which takes focus, introspection and being humble and putting the marriage first. So put that in your oatmeal and chew on it.

15. Teaching my children to laugh in life is more important to me than teaching them to obey every rule.

Don’t get me wrong, I was a rule follower and I spawned a rule follower (jury is still out on Luke). But sometimes I find it more valuable to teach my kids that laughing at mistakes and moving on is more essential than focusing on what they might have done wrong. Unless what they did wrong was not listening to me. Then that’s crap.

16. Never wipe a crumb off a kid’s face and eat it.

What? You think this one’s a no-brainer? Well let me just tell you that although it should be common sense, sometimes you’re not thinking quite clearly as a parent. So when you wipe what you think is couscous off your son’s face and in lieu of a paper towel you just lick your finger….well, don’t. Because it’s not couscous.

Valuable stuff, right here.

Lila (at 2 yrs), Luke (at 5 months)
Lila (at 2 yrs), Luke (at 5 months)

Boredom-Busting Full Body Treadmill Workout

*This post was almost titled: A Workout for Ridiculously Distracted People.*

Believe me when I tell you there are days when I myself have to dig ultra deep for the motivation to get my body moving. Like everyone else, I can always think of a million other things I’ve got to get done. On a couple of occasions I’ve found myself standing in front of the treadmill, my feet like lead holding down the willpower to step on-board and I’ve thought “I am so not up for this right now.”

The defining factor that gets me through that moment and pushes me to get it done is that I know better. I know that when I think I can’t possibly focus on fitness because my mind is too busy mulling over other to-do’s, a workout is exactly what’s going to re-focus me. I also know that my mind is usually most clear when I’m exercising. When it comes down to it, working out gives me a better perspective.

So on one of these particularly under-motivated days last month I just told myself to hop on the treadmill and see where my body took me. Here is that workout. It’s boredom-free, distraction-friendly and full of just the right amount of focus for unfocused people.

*If you’re unsure about an exercise, all of these are Google-able.*

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Trainer’s Note: I usually warm up for 5 minutes before I start my workouts. Jogging, jumping jacks, butt kicks, etc.

Keep your chin up and sweat it out!

Opening Day at The Boise Farmer’s Market

So last weekend was kind of big deal, wasn’t it? Lots of food and wine, people and conversations, family and friends. Oh and then Easter was somewhere in there too. I’m only kidding, please don’t whack my hand with a ruler and make me spell God on the blackboard 1000 times. (Insider joke – I grew up Catholic.) Easter was terrific too, but for blog-intensive purposes I’m referring to opening day at The Boise Farmer’s Market last Saturday.

Waiting for 9 am...
Waiting for 9 am…

Despite the chilly morning, the turnout from the public and participating vendors was impressive! Last year my winemaker and I were just visiting vendors at this market but we loved it so much we adopted it. This year we’re back as full-fledged members and we’re there every Saturday (with the exception of two – one for grape harvest/crushing and one for a family vacation). To be honest, as much as we enjoyed three months of not setting up a canopy every Saturday, I missed the market with all its people and its bounty and its energy. You really do have to be a people person to enjoy working at a market every week. Plus I get all my produce shopping done for the week by 9:30 AM.

Here’s how this works for us every Saturday morning:

We arrive by 7:30 AM to set up our booth. Any later than that and we aren’t allowed to drive in directly to our spot, which means we must haul everything by foot from the parking lot. Not fun if you’re carrying cases of wine and tables and a 10’ by 10’ canopy before you’ve finished your coffee.

Our mobile tasting room.
Our mobile tasting room.

Once we’re all set-up, I usually walk a couple blocks to Alia’s for one of these amazing sandwiches and a coffee for Von:

Manhattan Morning bagel sandwich. So good! Too bad I was saving my belly for something else later...
Manhattan Morning bagel sandwich. So good! Too bad I was saving my belly for something else later…
The nice man making the sandwich bought a couple bottles of wine. Which qualified this as a free breakfast!
The nice man making the sandwich bought a couple bottles of wine, which meant in the end I got paid for the bagel and coffee!

Once my winemaker’s fed, I go shopping. Vendors can’t sell to the public until the opening bell rings precisely at 9 AM, but we can sell to other vendors. Often this is the only time vendors have to step away from their booths, so it’s not uncommon to see everyone chatting. Last Saturday I was overjoyed to learn one of the farmers was selling duck eggs.

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These rich, beautiful babies are twice the size of chicken eggs and packed with nutrients. I love the taste, but not everyone does. I’ve heard people describe it as gamey, which is probably why it appeals to me. Give me elk or deer over chicken or beef any day. Gross, right? This trainer eats wild stuff.

Speaking of wild, the booth across from us had about six kinds of mushrooms which I became fascinated with. You’ll only find these kinds of things at the market.

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So I went home with a bag of one kind for my girl friend and a bag filled with this thing to cook later that evening for dinner:

A giant oyster...mushroom that is. Turns out the oyster mushroom is my new favorite fungi.
A giant oyster…mushroom that is. Turns out the oyster mushroom is my new favorite fungi.

How do you go about cooking this, you ask? I was instructed by the mushroom guy to drizzle it with olive oil, throw some herbs on top and roast it whole in the oven at 425 for 20-25 minutes or until the outer leaves were crispy. Back at home that evening I did exactly that and barely managed to share with the hubby.

Now I know a few of you are thinking about calling your reading session quits right about now. I get it, you’re thinking “You’re disgusting. Where’s the wine? I read your blog because of wine, woman!” I hear you. So about that…

We aren’t the only winery at The Boise Farmer’s Market (there are actually two to three besides us, depending on the weekend). Our good friends over at Seven Day Wines are also members and we love their faces and their vino. So after my major ‘shroom geek-out I hopped over there to take a couple photos of their booth. If you haven’t checked them out yet you should. Seven Day Wines is owned by Angie Shaltry of Periple, so if you’ve had any of her parent company wines you already know she’s good at making the juice. Tuesday Night White is a crowd favorite.

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Back at our booth, it was time to wait for the masses. We poured the usual line-up of Jalapeno Wine Lemonade, both kinds of Jalapeno Wines and our Riesling. Since wine sales typically pick up after 11 AM (and often times our booth is a fun cloud of excitement until closing bell at 1 PM), I hurried over to one of my favorite mobile makers-of-delicious-things (aka: food truck) so I could fuel-up before the crowd came.

Ah, Funky Taco. How I missed your Bahn Mi Mi!

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This taco is worth waiting for. Yes, there’s tofu. But before you write it off, let me just tell you that if my dad and winemaker both sign off on this thing with all its tofu-ness, there’s something to it. Try it the next time you see Funky Taco near you!

I think I’ve given you a few reasons to go check out this spectacular market. You can find Von, me or Tony (he’s our hired booth babe) there every Saturday through September. For more info on where else you can find us pouring, check out this Calendar of Events post!

Oh, and in honor of Easter, these pretty Easter Lilies were there too.

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Liebster Award Q & A!

About 37 sleeps ago, the very kind Julia over at Grace Makes New nominated me for a Liebster Award and I am just now pulling my head out of the barrel and getting to it here on the blog. This is Julia: www.gracemakesnew.blogspot.com What the bleep’s a Liebster Award? you ask. A Liebster Award is a blogging award given to and by fellow bloggers in order to recognize and discover more fantastic blogs out there (and there are a LOT, I know this because it took me over an hour just to narrow it down to 11 of my own nominations).

So here’s how this is going down: I’m going to answer the 11 questions Julia gave me and then I’m going to make up 11 questions of my own (I promise to do this before I pour the wine) and subsequently nominate 11 other bloggers to answer said questions on their blogs. I found my victims nominees on Bloglovin’, which is a pretty handy blog subscription site where you can save posts from all your favorites. The requirements? They must have 100 or less Bloglovin’ followers. Ready? Let’s do this! Liebster Award My Questions

1. What made you want to start a blog?

Between designing workouts for my clients, raising children and figuring out the wine industry, I kind of felt like things needed to get written down somewhere. Maybe people read it, maybe people don’t. But $#@! needed documented before my head exploded. Okay, okay…the real reason: Writing was my first baby. Fitness, health, wine, entrepreneurship and child-rearing were born two to three decades later. Here’s where all my babies play together.

2. What do you mostly blog about?

All of the above-mentioned things. Some months I’m heavy on the health and fitness posts, others I’m consumed with winery happenings. The parenting theme is always peppered throughout because, quite frankly, little people are always in your business.

3. What are your goals for 2015?

Come out alive. Wear more dresses. Tear out the carpet. And maybe squeeze some camping in there somewhere.

4. Favorite flavor of ice cream?

I’m a frozen yogurt girl. Not for health reasons really, I just prefer the taste. Unless it’s gelato or green tea flavored, then I’ll eat any of it. I recently concocted an Orange Chocolate Chipotle flavor of frozen yogurt using our Chipotle Jalapeno Wine. It came out really well. I’ll bet at your house you don’t have to tell your 3 1/2 year old things like “No sweetie, you can’t have this frozen yogurt because it has wine in it.”

5. What are three things you never leave the house without?

A wine bottle opener, water and my Fitbit.

6. Have you ever traveled outside of the US? If so, where?

I’ve been to Cabo, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun. I don’t know why Mexico ended up on my radar but I can confidently tell you I’m a-ok with not going back and my gastrointestinal system thanks me for that. There are some places I’ve got my eye on: Chile, the country side of Italy, Europe and Australia. The first two are mostly wine-oriented and by far the highest priorities.

7. Do you have a “life quote”, something that perfectly articulates your view on life?

“You have to do what scares you in order to know it can’t hurt you.” Except when it comes to snakes. Just$#@! run.

8. Do you have any siblings, or are you an only child?

I have two older brothers. I’m the youngest and the only girl. Which saved me from a lot of curling iron fights. Sisters are a different level of crazy. My brothers just did normal things like throw me down the stairs, lock me in the clothes dryer and shoot me with BB guns.

9. What is your regular order at Starbucks?

Although I’m not a Starbucks regular, I order a skinny latte at the coffee shop. I usually get asked if I’d like a flavored syrup in it to which I say “Yes, the flavor that tastes like a skinny latte.”

10. What is the best vacation you have ever had?

The best as a kid was Kaui with my family. The best as a 21-year-old was Vegas for my dad’s surprise 50th. The best as a non-married mid-20-something was San Fran and Sonoma/Napa with my present-day winemaker. The best so far as a wife and mom was Westport, WA. Later this year I will certainly have a new best with my entire family: Maui.

Westport Winery
Taking a mommy break at Westport Winery.

11. What is your favorite place to shop?

The grocery store. Seriously, I hate shopping so much. I will basically buy everything at the grocery store or online. Stitch Fix has saved me. Without it I would surely still be walking around in breast milk-stained t-shirts and a crap-ton of stretched out yoga pants.

Now it’s time for my own nominations, so line it up, ladies!

I hereby nominate:

Wine & Butter

Here’s my list of questions for you all to answer:

1. What is your favorite part about blogging?

2. What is your favorite blog post you’ve written?

3. If you could have any occupation right now, what would it be?

4. What is your favorite kind of workout?

5. What is your favorite recipe, healthy or unhealthy?

6. What, or who, inspires you most?

7. If you could live anywhere in the world, where and why?

8. What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

9. What’s your best piece of advice for your younger self?

10. What book(s) are you reading right now and if you’re not a book reader, which blog/magazine/etc. are you currently loving?

11. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you want to be cast as you?

Thanks for playing!

Jalapeno Wine Infused Potato Soup

*Special Guest Post Edition!*

Today marks a blogging first for me – we have a guest poster! I’ve decided we should all extend the “guest post” idea to our daily lives. I’d like a guest cook, a guest housekeeper and a guest bill-payer, please? Email me if interested…

Until then: Michelle at WineDineDIY is here with a delicious recipe that may not be trainer approved but it IS winemaker approved. It sounds pretty incredible and I can’t wait to try it. So….soup’s on!

Jalapeno Wine Infused Potato Soup

I’m being scandalous today! Yep, I’m posting a sinfully rich recipe on an otherwise healthy blog. Sorry Crystal, it HAD to be done because… butter.

Jalapeno Wine with Soup Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1 bottle Potter Wines Premier Jalapeno and Grape Wine
  • 2-3 cups chicken broth
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1 cups of fat free half and half
  • 1 cups of skim milk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Optional :

  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

First up let’s prep!

Get a large pot, spray with cooking oil (I like PAM) and line it with the strips of bacon. Get ’em crispy on medium high heat. Set aside. Once it’s cool, crumble.

Meanwhile: Dice the potatoes, onion, carrot and celery.

Okay, let’s cook!

Step One: After having prepared the bacon, reserve a small amount of bacon grease in the pot, reduce heat to medium, and add the diced potatoes and veggies (onion, celery, garlic and carrot) and stir the veggies in the grease. I know, I know.

Add the entire bottle of Jalapeno Wine! Oh, yes I did!

Jalapeno Wine Recipe

Add Jalapeno Wine

Bring to a gentle boil and stir occasionally as the wine won’t be enough to cover the potato and veggie medley. The wine will boil down in about 15 minutes.

Step Two: Add chicken broth just enough to barely cover taters and veggies. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes (contents should be tender). Turn heat to low.

Step Three: In a separate medium pan melt the butter over medium heat, whisk in flour, whisk in milk and half and half and keep whisking until thick and creamy. Add to large pot with potatoes and veggies and stir.

NOTE: This is a super thick soup. If you prefer to thin it a bit, just add an additional cup of milk and another cup of FF half and half when you are whisking in the milk to the butter and flour.

Step Four: Add salt, pepper and red wine vinegar and bacon. Stir.

Optional: Fully load your soup by stirring in sour cream and cheese.

Finally: Add chives to garnish before serving.

I think we can all agree that this is worth being a little bit naughty for! Moderation, right?

Soup Paired with Potter Wines Riesling

Pair with Potter Wines Idaho Riesling!

WineDineDIY

Michelle Leonardson lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband Nick and giant dog, Lindsay.  She blogs about her favorite interests: wine, food, and do-it-yourself projects.  Connect with Michelle:

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Easy and Healthy Granola Recipe

I’m one of those people who gives homemade, healthy and practical gifts to clients, friends and family at Christmas time (or wine, when all else fails). For a few years I made this sugared cranberry recipe because people loved it so much the first time around. Then in 2013 I decided to change it up and I gave away homemade vanilla extract in little jars (turns out vanilla extract is super easy to make yourself – I no longer buy it in the store). This last year I found a granola recipe I really enjoyed, so I mixed up a couple batches and got out the mason jars. The result: Everyone loved it so much I’ve been sharing the recipe for the past two months. It only seems appropriate that I finally get to posting it on the blog.

For me this recipe is a hit because of the addition of pepitas (pumpkin seeds), the use of a small amount of pure maple syrup and dried cherries. You could easily leave the pepitas out if you’re not a fan and use other dried fruits if you aren’t down with cherries. Just keep in mind the nutritionals will vary depending on the sugar content of your dried fruit of choice. Also, the original recipe (which I found here, over at Real Simple) calls for using canola as your oil. I made it once this way but the second time I used coconut oil just to experiment. Both were delicious! So use whichever oil you’re most comfortable with nutritionally.

[Side note: Canola oil and coconut oil are very similar as far as calories are concerned. Where they differ is in the type of fats. Canola oil consists of monounsaturated and polyunsatured fats (the good stuff), whereas coconut oil consists of mostly saturated fat. Before you throw out the idea of coconut oil, however, keep in mind the saturated fat is the medium chain variety, which means in a nut shell (ha!) that there are a whole host of benefits involved. For more info on medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil, check out this resource.]

granola recipe
Photo Credit: Chow.com. Unfortunately all traces of granola had been given away or consumed by the time I remembered to get out the camera.

Easy and Healthy Granola

(Original source: Real Simple)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pepitas
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons canola or coconut oil (calories are almost identical in both oils)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup dried cherries (or other dried fruit – nutritionals given below include cherries)

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the oats, almonds, coconut and pepitas with the maple syrup, oil and salt. Bake, tossing once, until golden and crisp – 25 to 30 minutes. Add the dried fruit and toss to combine. Let cool.

Nutritionals per serving (based on a 1-cup serving, which is probably 3x’s how much you’ll actually eat if you’re using this as a snack, over yogurt, etc.): 319 calories, 12.6g total fat (3.4g saturated, when using canola oil), 102mg sodium, 44.4g carbohydrates, 5.1g fiber, 14.5g sugar, 7.7g protein

Interview with My Winemaker

I rarely read winemaker interviews unless I absolutely love the wine being made or the winemaker lives in Idaho (we like to support our fellow masochists winery owners). It’s not that I don’t want to learn about a winemaker’s style or the method to their madness for turning water into magic. It’s because I know from experience it’s not as glamorous as the interviewer makes it sound. Wine is complex and mysterious and evasive and always developing. It is also simple and straightforward and truthful and methodical. It is hard @$$ work. It’s sweat and blood and tears (both the triumphant and frustrating kind). So for me, interviews that only highlight the interviewer’s glamorous perception of the wine and winemaking process tend to dissuade me. But that’s just me. I’m just a humble winemaker’s wife learning the business side of wine.

A few weeks ago in the middle of the night, an idea popped into my head for a blog post: Why not interview my own winemaker and ask him a few questions I like to know about winemakers? Leave out the details about the process and the sources and the technical (yet very important) aspects. Just ask him about what he enjoys drinking, where he gets his inspiration and what he thinks about this tough and grueling and rewarding and eye-opening business. Luckily, my husband rose to the occasion even though last night I gave him a deadline somewhere along the lines of “Get these answers to me ten minutes ago.”

Here you are, my interview with my winemaker…

What is your winemaking philosophy?

“I hear people say ‘Why?’ Always ‘Why?’ They see things and they say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were and I say ‘Why not?'”

[Deep, isn’t it? I asked for philosophy and I got it. You should be holding a glass of wine when you re-read that, by the way.]

What are your favorite types of wine to drink?

“Peppery reds, Syrah, Zinfandel, Mourvedre. And always a glass of Chipotle Jalapeno.”

If you could drink wine anywhere, in any region or country, where would it be and why?

“Australia and Argentina in the winter. Idaho and Spain in the summer. I believe that Idaho will soon be recognized as a premier site for world-renowned wines. It’s incredibly exciting to not only be near so many great wines, but also to be involved with them.”

What is the up-side to being a self-taught winemaker?

“Not being tied down to a particular style. If I were traditionally trained I may not have known that jalapeno wine isn’t mainstream and for the masses.”

What has been the most challenging part of the wine business? The most rewarding?

“Without a doubt, the hours of hard work. It never stops. From harvest to bottling to cleaning to marketing to keeping up with paperwork, there are countless hours of work to be done.

“The most rewarding? For me it’s the hard work and knowing you are making something people enjoy. Oh, and watching the puzzlement on people’s faces when they want to dislike a wine but are amazed they like it.”

[Agreed, that last part is way fun.]

Where do you get your inspiration?

“Bad dreams? My mind never stops, I have hundreds more ideas that I may torture my wife with.”

For the record, he usually chooses to torture me with them before 7 AM. But I’m finding my place amid the idea tornado and am learning to ask the right questions when he comes up with something and I have no idea how he thinks we’ll pull it off. Typically those questions are:

“What do you need? and “When do we make it happen?”

*For more info about our wines and winery, visit jalapenowine.com or read this post.*

 

The Most Unrealistic Story I Have Ever Read to My Daughter

One thing you quickly learn as a parent: What you once thought was completely realistic about your life, your concept of time, your daily events and expectations…is now laughable. Realism now looks like showers every other day and flipping other parents off while you commandeer the after-school pick-up lane (my kids are not of school-age yet, but I’ve heard the stories). So I understand that amid the chaos of child-rearing we must let unrealistic, magical things happen once in a while so our kids can be just that – kids. This is why I have always loved books – realistic or not, they’re a wonderful way to feed the imagination.

So before I continue on about unrealism, let me just say that I love reading to my daughter each night before bed. I’m so thankful she’s a book nerd like her mother. I’ll agree to read anything from her collection. And like most children, my daughter has a pile of favorites we read often. One of those favorites is Disney’s Cuddly Princess Pals. It’s a cute book, really. It’s just that lately I can’t help but notice how unrealistic the words sound coming out of my mouth when reading it. I mean, what the heck am I teaching my daughter? Let’s have a look:

Cuddly Princess Pals
“Cuddly, Hangry, Spazzy, Lazy Little Princess Pals.”

This book is about three adorable pets that get “adopted” in one way or another by Snow White, Cinderella and Aurora.

First up: Berry – “The Sweetest Bunny.”

Berry's pretty cool but I have to think an animal that obsessed with fiber-tastic blueberries is probably a disaster to clean up after.
Berry’s pretty cool but I have to think an animal this obsessed with fiber-tastic blueberries is probably a disaster to clean up after.

This bunny’s probably the most realistic animal in the book. She falls in serious like with Snow White one day while the princess is out picking blueberries and follows her back to the castle, unbeknownst to Snow White. Okay, so far so good. But waitaminute – “Snow White was surprised to find Berry hiding in her bucket of blueberries!” the same bucket she had gathered blueberries from for baking a pie. Umm…eww? Can’t say I’m down with that, princess.

"Berry, you sweet thing with the overactive digestive system. Get the @#$! out of my blueberries!"
“Berry, you sweet thing with the overactive digestive system. Get the @#$! out of my blueberries!”

Berry’s story ends with her becoming the royal bunny – and sharing all her meals with Snow White. Sorry, daughter of mine…you will never be allowed to eat your meals alongside a hangry, needy bunny who is on a perpetual cleanse.

Moving on: Pumpkin – “The Dancing Puppy”

Pumpkin is obviously part poodle - I know this because I have a Goldendoodle and he has got some serious similarities to Pumpkin. Prancing, spazzing out, and being a quasi-prima donna.
Pumpkin is obviously part poodle – I know this because I have a Goldendoodle and he has got some serious similarities to Pumpkin. Prancing, spazzing out, and being a quasi-prima donna.

Pumpkin is one of my daughter’s favorites. I can’t really blame her – just look at that cute face and big eyes. Sucker! Cinderella’s prince adopted Pumpkin for her and even gave the dog her own tiara. Because that’s practical. I’m super excited for the day my little girl wants to bring a dog home, give it a crown and a sparkly bow and necklace and buy it a water dish with a glass slipper on it. I’m going to have to give Dave Ramsey a call and ask for advice on how to afford my diva dog spawned by Paris Hilton herself.

If you are reading this and you serve your dog's water to them in a decanter, please let me know if dogs poop confetti on your planet, too.
If you are reading this and you serve your dog’s water to them in a decanter, please let me know if dogs poop confetti on your planet, too.

I get it, folks, I love dogs too. But what happens next is one part sweet and a dozen parts worrisome:

"Cinderella went to the ball, fell in love with the princess, ran out of the ball, made the prince search the whole kingdom with one glass slipper, then gives him the shaft for a dog. The End."
“Cinderella went to the ball, fell in love with the prince, ran out of the ball, made the prince search the whole kingdom with one glass slipper and ultimately gives him the shaft for a dog. -The End.”

They prance together at ALL the royal balls! So basically the prince is chopped liver (which would never get fed to Pumpkin unless it were organic). After everything he’s done for Cinderella? Really? As a huge Cinderella fan, I’m disappointed in my girl.  And what about the weirdness in the fact that Cinderella only dances with a dog at these social functions? Awkward. No, thank you, I can’t say there’s a valuable lesson here. Luckily my daughter is 3 and dancing with a dog is totally acceptable for another year or two.

Saving the best for last: Beauty – “The Sleepy Kitty”

First squirrel: "Why is she always sleeping?" Second squirrel: "I don't know but I like to stare at her and lick my hand. Is that weird?"
First background kitten: “Why is she always sleeping?” Second background kitten: “I don’t know but I like to stare at her and lick my hand. Is that weird?”

Alright, princess Aurora, I’ve got some beef to pick with you. I mean come ON. Napping? Again? Then again, if I had three bossy tiny women hovering around me all the time I’d probably never want to wake up either…

Does anybody work around here?!
Does anybody work around here?!

So Aurora discovers this sleeping kitten who matches her dress color perfectly and she’s all excited to keep her because napping alone is seriously boring.

Why would the kitten hiss and run away? She just scored Aurora. Now she just needs to take care of the three crazy aunts and get added as a beneficiary to Prince Phillip's trust and she's set.
Why would the kitten hiss and run away? She just scored Aurora. Now she just needs to take care of the three crazy aunts and get added as a beneficiary to Prince Phillip’s trust and she’s set.

So as I read this last part of the book to my daughter I start to feel my blood pressure go up. Sometimes I change the end slightly so I don’t set her up for total disappointment in life. Something like, “Before long, the kitty was spayed so that she didn’t keep breeding lazy pets and Aurora began contributing around the house more.” But alas, this is how it actually plays out:

Whaaaaaat?!
Whaaaaaat?!

Man, Prince Phillip, I was really feeling sorry for you for a minute. But if we’re going to live in your fantasy land, let’s go ahead and add some wine to that tray and sub out the sweets for some bread and cheese, mmkay? I mean if we’re going to be totally lazy we might as well chub out.

I guess the lessons I can teach my daughter from this book include: Don’t eat animal feces, adopt a pet stick and get your iron levels checked. Have I missed anything?

 

 

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