Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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10 Things That Make Me Happy

One of my friends wrote a post on her blog and I thought I’d give it a shot. You can read hers here

I don’t know that I can put these in any specific order, I don’t want anyone to get their feeling hurt, so I’ll just write them as they come to me.

10. Cooking. it’s so funny, I have become what I call your friendly neighborhood Betty Crocker. Ten years ago, I was a newly minted chiropractor out to save the world and cooking was the last thing on my mind. In fact, I was very pregnant and looking forward to becoming a mother, not a chef. I have found a love of cooking and especially trying new recipes. dinner in my house is never boring, I can tell you that for certain. My kids, well, they will say otherwise. They don’t love everything I make. I dont’ love everything I make, but that’s how you learn.

9. Traveling. I have always enjoyed traveling to new places that we haven’t visited before and seeing the architecture and learning about the history and culture of the places we’re visiting. We have been some really interesting places, like Bermuda, Bahamas, Mexico, Napa, US Virgin Islands, Hawaii. I still have a rather long bucket list of places I want to see before I die. At the top of my bucket list is Italy. My friend, ‘Bridget McGuire’ just returned from 10 days in Italy and the pictures she’s shared are simply amazing!

8. My children. I have been blessed with two beautiful and amazing children who have changed me immeasurably. You know they say you will never truly understand what it is to be a parent until you are one, and it’s true. I am so proud of these little people. They are adorable, precious, and maddening all at the same time. They fight and bicker with one another, but I love them more than I can ever begin to express. They are so much fun to be around, they make me laugh, cry, and scream every single day! Watching them grow is such a joy and privilege. I just hope that I can do a good job helping them grow into productive, respectful, intelligent people. My son is so handsome and sweet. He’s a very caring child who wants to make people laugh. When he was younger, he never had baby talk, he was very articulate at a very early age. People were amazed at how well he spoke as a two year old. My daughter is a beautiful, blue-eyed girl. She was the sweetest, most laid-back baby ever. But when she hit 22 months, it was as if someone told her ‘you’re almost 2, you’d better act like it’ and since then all bets are off! She’s very strong-willed and knows what she wants. She’s a princess one minute, and a tomboy the next.  She loves to perform, dancing and singing are what she really enjoys.

7. Writing. Writing in some way, shape, or form has been a part of me since high school, maybe earlier. I remember keeping a journal when I was younger. In my 20’s, my journal was my best friend as I was going through a particularly hurtful breakup. It was my therapist and my catharsis. I still journal, just not as often as I used to, I blog instead! I’m also working on a novel about a 20 something young lady who moves from the midwest to LA. She’s been languishing on my hard drive for years, and I’m determined to finish her story, if for nothing else, for myself and the knowledge that I’ve completed it. That and I’ve got another story in mind that comes from my friend’s incredible life.

6. Learning. I feel like the perpetual student, but I really enjoy learning new things. I can’t say that I learn something new every day, but I do enjoy reading and studying and discovering things that I didn’t know. My son is going into the 5th grade and last year in helping him with some projects, I learned things that I had no clue about prior, and it was really fun. I like to exercise my brain through learning. I keep telling my children that they don’t know everything, and neither do I, but we can find it out. The internet is such a wonderful resource. I really wish it had been around when I was growing up, it would have made researching topics for projects so much easier!

5. The beach. My friend wrote that Notre Dame is her happy place. Mine is the beach, any beach as long as it’s on an ocean. Although at this specific point in time, I’m very sad to know that many of the beautiful Gulf beaches are being polluted by the oil spill and it’s a real tragedy and a travesty. Anyway, maybe it’s because I’m a cancer, the crab, a water sign, that I find the beach so soothing. To have my toes in the sand, smell the salty sea air, hear the waves crashing on the beach, to me, that is heaven right there. If I get my way, we’ll retire to a beach condo. That’s a while off still, but I’ve put in my order!

4. My friends. I have been blessed with some really good friends that I’ve met in some really interesting ways. My friend Bridget McGuire, we met while on a cruise 10 years ago and have kept in touch with. My BFF and I have been friends for over 10 years, my husband met her at a bank while he was opening an account. Another friend, well, this one is pretty wild, she was the girlfriend of a boyfriend of mine (LOOONG story). He was a POS and neither of us knew it, but the best revenge we could’ve gotten on him was becoming friends. Facebook has helped me reconnect with so many people from my past that I would not be in touch with otherwise.

3.  My love. My husband and I have been together for 14 years now and it feels like the blink of an eye. He is my best friend, he still makes me laugh and tells me he loves me every night before we go to sleep and in the morning as he’s leaving for work. He was my willing guinea pig while I was in chiropractic school and my taste tester for my new recipe concoctions. We started off as co-workers and friends at Bed Bath and Beyond. Musci trivia was how we really got to know each other. I tried to set him up with my friends. He was a really good guy and I was planning on moving out-of-state to go to college. None of them were interested and I don’t know why. One night, we were going to a movie, as friends, and I looked at him and thought, ‘Boy, he’s really cute, why am I trying to set him up with my friends?” And that was it. He gave me a good night kiss that night and we’ve been inseparable ever since! funny how things work out.

2. Trying new things. I’m always up for something new, be it food, activities, places.  To me, that’s what makes things interesting. Some things I like, Cabernet franc anyone? Others not so much, like Alice in Wonderland. I really enjoy going to a restaurant and trying a dish I’ve never had before. Once we were in Cozumel, I ordered ceviche. I’ve had ceviche before, but this had octopus in it! that was pretty wild. And yes, I did eat it. It completely grossed out my husband, but he tried it too!

1.  Introducing my children to new things. Every time we travel with our kids, I encourage them to do or eat things they never have before. On our vacation last year, my daughter tried Brussels sprouts (gag).  My son tried them on our Disney vacation this year. I have been very happy with them at least taking one bite of something new before deciding if they like it or not.  Taking them places they’ve never been and showing them fun new things, or to help them appreciate all that we have is really amazing. We went on a cruise last year and one of the stops was Grand Bahama Island. We rode a bus from the ship to a beach and to get to the beach, we passed some really sad and run-down neighborhoods. It was such a contrast, you have the gorgeous beaches and people living in poverty. it really made me appreciate what we have and I try to help our children understand that every chance I get as well.

Now I challenge some of my blogging friends to do the same!

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If you’re like me, there’s rarely anything in your house called ‘left-over’ wine. We open a bottle, we finish the bottle. And that’s pretty much it. Unless we’ve already finished a couple in one night, then I might have to call it quits! That only happens on party nights, that’s not an every night kind of thing. I’m not a TOTAL wino!

A few years ago, my husband and I were kind  of having a bit of a competition. Who could find the cheapest wine that was actually drinkable. It was fun trying different wines. Unfortunately, we can’t get 2buck Chuck here, but we found some that were really close. Some that we found were decent, others, make me gag just thinking of them. I found one, in a box, and honestly, I felt like my teeth had grown a fur coat after the first glass!

Wine in a box was a brilliant idea if you ask me. It’s much more economical and it doesn’t spoil. My problem with it is that it’s too easy to over-indulge because it’s there. So I must exercise self-control, and that’s fine.

Have you ever opened a bottle of wine to discover it’s what they call corked? that means the cork has gone bad, or dried out, and allowed bacteria into the bottle and the wine has turned into vinegar, or worse. There’s nothing worse than a fizzy glass of wine. Fizzy in the bad way. We had a wine party last year and a friend had been given a bottle of Beaujolais. I love Beaujolais, but this bottle they’d been given was corked and terrible. My friend had never had it before and needless to say, she was underwhelmed by it. I explained to her that it really wasn’t supposed to taste that way and she felt better about it.

So what do you do with wine like that? The wine that’s either corked or just awful to begin with? Make wine-cubes! If you pour this offensive and offending wine into an ice cube tray and freeze it, you’ve got wine for cooking. Each cube is about one tablespoon and is handy for soups, stews, and sauces. You can just put it in a freezer bag, or container, and keep it in the freezer to use anytime. I love having it around. So, next time you’ve got some funky wine, make wine cubes, by all means don’t waste it!

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That was original…

Ok, this is not Domestic Goddess kind of stuff, but it’s just so damned funny, I had to share.

I have two children whom I love more than anything else on this planet.  They are the most precious gifts I have ever had the privilege of receiving.  They are exactly one week shy of being three years apart.  They are best friends one minute and mortal enemies the next.  Last year we bought our son a double bed and sometimes on weekends they like to have ‘sleepovers’ and camp together in his bed.  It’s fun for them, kind of like a mini-vacation.

So tonite I tell them if they wanna do a sleepover, I”m cool with it.  As long as I don’t hear a lot of racket coming from them and they actually go to sleep.  Fat chance.  I hear some noise, and then I hear my daughter start crying and calling me.  I go  upstairs to see what the commotion is and she’s upset because my boy has called her a name.  What name did he call her? Nothing that I’ve ever heard, I think it’s his own original creation.

“Mom, Spencer called me a….(sniff sniff) he called me a ….(more sniffing for theatrical/drama purposes) butt crack.’

“You called her a what??”

‘But mom she was…”

“It doesn’t matter what she was doing.  I never want to hear that come from either one of you.  If I do, you will be getting your mouth washed out with soap.  Am I clear?”

“yes, ma’am.’

Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep a straight face when you’re scolding someone for doing something,  but it’s so freaking funny and you don’t want them to see that, because it’s encouraging the behavior?  Yeah, it’s really tough, hence a post about name calling on a domestic blog.

A little peek into my life.  I promptly removed my daughter back to her own bed and came downstairs to a lovely, wonderful waiting glass of Cabernet. Aaah.  That’s better.

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Why yes, I am a wine snob, how did you know?

I never ever thought this would happen.  My husband and I were blissfully unaware of the power of good wine.  We would happily slurp our $4 bottle of midwest-version-$2 Chuck and think we were getting away with something. Wine for $4?  Sure, give me a case! Hmmph.  Not any more.

Last night, for the first time since our Napa trip, my husband brought home a bottle of wine.  In the past, we would drink a bottle of  ‘gimme more $4″ a couple of times a week, no problem.  Since we’ve been back, I’ve been fighting some kind of cold junk and didn’t want to compromise my immune system, especially in light of all the crap that’s floating around right now. Well, that and I just couldn’t see opening a $15 or $20 bottle a couple of times a week.  When I’m drinking a better bottle of wine, I want it to be more of an occasion, more than just sitting in a hot tub.  But, come to think of it, what better occasion? 

Anyway, my sweet husband stopped at the grocery on his way home from work last night and popped in to the liquor store next door and picked up a bottle of wine.  We both have been kind of curious as to what we would think when we went back to what we’d been drinking Pre-Napa.  He didn’t buy the ‘gimme more $4’, he bought a 1.5L bottle of Woodbridge. Before you say it, I know, it’s mediocre on a good day.  But we had driven past the winery multiple times and decided to try it.  Mondavi is one of those wineries that’s been around forever.

I’m relaxing in a hot bath full of bubbles enjoying a book and he brought me a glass.  I asked what he thought about it, ‘Kool Aid’. Hm.  Kind of what I was expecting, but I’ll see for myself.  Ugh.  He was right.  Super blended Kool Aid.  It’s amazing what a little education will do for a person’s palate.  I never thought of my palate as refined at all.  Having the opportunity to sample many wines from different wineries and to really learn to pick out the subtle aromas and flavors was really quite exciting.

So yes, we have become wine snobs.  No more of the  ‘Gimme more $4’, unless I”m cooking with it.  You know that’s one of my favorite lines, “I enjoy cooking with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the dish!”

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Wine a Little, You’ll Feel Better!

That was what many flags around Napa said and I couldn’t agree more.  My husband and I just got back from a lovely trip to wine country.  Or ‘the Motherland’ for winos like us.  It was beautiful there.  We had never been and really didn’t know what to expect, other than we’d always wanted to go.

Some of the grapevines were changing color, some were yellow, others red, and some were still green with fruit hanging.  There was a late rain just last week which threw everyone there for a loop and they were scrambling to get the rest of the harvest picked.

We rented a convertible and in true fashion for us, the weather for a few days was crap.  The huge storm that blew in on Tuesday delayed our flight by 2 hours because of the rain and wind in San Francisco.  Wednesday started out cloudy and damp, but turned out to be beautiful, so we went topless and just drove the valley.  The sights and smells were amazing.  The lush grapevines were everywhere, rolling hills dotted with short, scrubby trees, intermingled with centuries old, 75ft tall eucalyptus trees that scented the air with either rosemary or basil.  that was an ongoing debate for us, I smelled basil, my husband smelled rosemary.  but we were both wrong, it was eucalyptus!

Grapevines were everywhere imaginable.  I never thought they’d be so close to the road, we could’ve stopped and picked some grapes if we wanted to.  Up the hillside and in people’s front yards.  Some wineries looked like beautiful, Victorian homes, like Beringer.  Others, like Opus One, were more modern and very upscale.  And then there was the Castle.  Castella di Amarosa was an incredible estate.  A true Italian castle built with only materials and techniques available during the dark ages, complete with a moat, dungeons and an iron maiden.  It was perched on a hillside with rows of grapevines going downhill and tall junipers lining the drive.  It looked like I imagine Tuscany would with the rolling hills and colors.

You know, we really learned a lot on this trip.  More than what we expected to.  We are wine lovers.  but at the same time, we are cheap winos.  For a while, we would see who could find the best, cheapest boxed wine.  some of them are decent, others put what felt like a layer of fur on my teeth after the first glass. 

We never really understood the complexities of wine and the flavors and sensations involved.  When you read a description it may say, ‘hints of raspberry, green pepper, black currant and dark chocolate.’  Ok.  whatever.  I never got all that.  Until Thursday night. We stayed at a beautiful B&B called Le Belle Epoque. A gorgeous Victorian/Queen Anne style home built in the late 1890’s.  Truly beautiful, inside and out and walking distance to downtown Napa.  If you’re looking for a B&B in Napa, I highly recommend it.  Our innkeepers, Derek and Roxann were lovely hosts and held a nightly wine reception in their wine cellar.  It was a different experience than simply having breakfast with the other guests.  We were able to meet other guests, mingle with our hosts and sample different wines.  It was a really enjoyable way to end the day. 

Thursday night, we got out a box called Le Nez de Vin,  The Nose of Wine.  It contained little vials of different essences, black currant, strawberry, green pepper, licorice.  I think there were a dozen maybe. We played a guessing game, we’d sniff the vial and try to guess what it contained.  We got several correct, but also got several wrong.  But it helped us understand the different things we were smelling and tasting in the wine and it turned our concept of wine upside down.  It was really amazing to go the next day to a winery, Grgich Hills Estate, which was great btw, do a tasting and really be able to pick out those things and know what it was we were experiencing.  It was incredible, truly.

Something else happened that we would never have expected.  We became lovers of white wine.  I guess my only experiences with white wine involved cheap wine at someone’s wedding reception because my thoughts were that it was all super dry, oaky, and just left my mouth feeling like dust.  WRONG!  Oh how wrong we were!  Our first full day there, we went into a tasting room that carried wines from several different vintners and sampled several whites.  We were pleasantly surprised. So surprised in fact, for the first time ever, we bought a $30 bottle of wine, and it was WHITE!  Let me tell you, if you think the only white wine is a Chardonnay, you are so wrong! There are so many others beyond just a chard.  I used to think that too, but boy, we found out the truth!

Before, we’d splurge on a $25 bottle of Pinot Noir.  This time we bought a Viognier.  Ever heard of that one?  It was lovely, not too sweet (we don’t really go for the sweet) not too dry.  We were told the viognier is used primarily for blending and we don’t see much of it.

The first glass of wine we had when we arrived at our B&B was a Cabernet franc.  Heard of that one?  If you have, you’re lucky.  It was a wonderful red, a bit oaky, but not too much.  It is another that is used primarily for blending.  I will look for both of them now when I’m buying wine.

We have decided that rather than buying 3 or 4 cheap bottles of wine, we will buy one good bottle of wine and really savor and enjoy it, make it more of an experience.  My husband has always been able to chug his wine.  I never could. He said that’s because it’s cheap, to him it’s not much more than kool-aid.  No more.  I never once saw him chug anything in Napa.

I encourage you, if you like wine at all, the next time some restaurant is holding a wine dinner where you can sample several different wines from a vintner, go.  Or maybe join a wine club.  In fact, there’s a wine club here, I think I may look them up.  It could be a lot of fun. Get together with people and try and discuss the various wines.  sounds good to me!

Like they say, Wine  a Little, You’ll Feel Better!