Hormones Make Teenagers Insane

I am not a doctor (nor do I play one on the internet), but I’m pretty sure that hormones make teenagers mentally unstable.

For example, this happened:  Two weeks ago my thirteen year old daughter and I were at the library to find her a book. She was ecstatic to find the books Everwild  and Everfound by her favorite author, Neal Shusterman.

“I didn’t know this was a trilogy. I’m so excited. Everlost was one of my favorite books. This is so awesome!”

The Skinjacker Trilogy

As I said, that was two weeks ago. She has yet to pick up book number two, much less move on to book number three. I guess even the second and third installments in a trilogy of “one of her favorite books” by her very favorite author pale in comparison to the wonders of YouTube and Instagram.

Today is a school holiday. She doesn’t have any homework except, you know, studying for Monday tests that she “already knows everything” about. I walked into her room this morning and handed her Everwild. “I’d like you to read two chapters of this today.”

She responded most sassily, “I can’t read that, Mom. I don’t remember what Everlost was even about. I’ll be too confused.”

“But you picked this book. You were excited to get it. And you need to read a book for school. You need 15 AR points by next month and this book is 16 points.”

“I know, but I already told you. I’ll be too confused. I can’t read it.”

Two weeks ago she was giddy leaving the library with those two books in her hands. Today they’ll only cause confusion. Please explain to me how this makes any sort of sense.

Start investing in California grapes people, because the amount of wine I’m sure to be ingesting while living with this hormonal bundle of contrariness for the next five years is likely to make me single-handedly bring up their stock prices tenfold. (At least.)

I’ll be drinking a lot of this over the next five years!


*For those of you who know I’m supposed to be writing Just One Paragraph every day in September, I apologize – it was driving me insane to look at all this dialog bunched together. I just had to hit my tab key. I’ll try harder tomorrow.

*Book image from st0rmtrooper via Tumblr

How to Write a Blog Post When You Don’t Know What to Write

I don’t really know what I was thinking when I challenged myself (and sort of pledged, I think) to writing (and posting) one paragraph a day for 30 days. I really expected hoped to hit the ol’ “I have no idea what to write about” phase sort of mid-month rather than Day 5. (Day 5!) Though, I don’t know why I’m so surprised. I mean, I try very hard to be a funny writer and every once in a while something so terrible happens that I’m a poignant writer, but I’ve never been a prolific writer. I mean, yes, while my posts themselves are often overly long to the point of ridiculousness er.. prolific, they are usually not plentiful. And speaking of ridiculously long, who am I kidding with the whole “one paragraph” thing? Any grammarian who’s been reading my posts for the last couple of days is surely out of her mind and screaming at her computer screen, “That is not just one paragraph! It’s a bunch of paragraphs smashed into one. You’re not fooling anyone just because you refuse to hit the tab key!” Although grammarians who read my blog are probably used to shaking their heads in disgust. Especially this one and this one. (Thank you for continuing to read anyway ladies!) So today my (already more than one) paragraph is about nothing. My unimaginative brain doesn’t even have the creative capacity to figure out a picture to post. Tomorrow (and the 24 days that follow tomorrow) I hope to do better. (But I’m not holding my breath.)

Running Sucks

running sucks

I’m not a runner, but today I ran one mile. That’s right – one whole mile! I know, I know – amateur! I sort of got talked into joining the run club at my gym which is crazy because not only am I not a runner, I’ve never had any desire to be a runner. Not even a little. You know those people who decide mid-life that they are going to take up running and then start training and then do something completely insane like run a marathon? Or even worse, start running daily. Like as a way of life? I’m not doing that. Do you know why? Because I hate running. I HATE IT! Every step I take I curse the name of my friend who talked me into this foolishness. (Juliana – you KNOW I’m talking about you!) I try with all my might to think of anything –anything-  other than this hell that is called running and the fact that I can’t breathe and that I’m miserable because I feel like my heart and my lungs are going to simultaneously explode. Today as I was running I tried to focus on the beauty of the morning sky as it grew brighter, but that just made me focus on the fact that I forgot to put my contact in before heading outside. (No, that’s not a typo, I’m nearsighted and only wear one contact which makes one eye nearsighted and one eye farsighted and I don’t have to wear reading glasses. Go ahead and call me vain. Of course I’m vain – otherwise I wouldn’t be running!) I tried to think about the high-fat salt laden restaurant meal (and alcohol) I’ll be enjoying with two girlfriends later tonight in an attempt to convince myself that this torture I was putting myself through will all be worth it. I tried counting 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 with every step like someone who was meditating might count their breaths. Except that people that meditate are peaceful. And I’m not peaceful. No moment of zen. No runner’s high. Only misery; no peace. Instead all I could think of, the one thought that kept popping into my head was, “Running sucks.” And I hate it. And I really don’t want to do it again. (Even though I probably will.)

~For 30 days I am righting Just One Paragraph.

It’s September

My visions of 2013

Today is September 1st which means 2013 is 2/3 over and at the end of the month it will be 3/4 over and what have I done this year? I’m looking at my vision board to see what goals have been reached and the sad truth is, not many. The word “Imagine” is on there twice. Well, I’ve hit that goal as I’ve certainly done a lot of imagining. But perhaps next year instead of gluing on the word “imagine” I should glue on the word “do.” I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself because I pasted on of a glass of wine and a cup of coffee and I’ve had my share of those. There’s a picture of healthy food and a fit woman and I’ve lost 13 pounds and 13 inches these last two months. I clipped out the sentence “Give hugs.” and I hug Marley every day and make Chandler hug me every day, but I don’t hug Dave every day and I need to start doing that. But (other than my trip to Napa in March) I haven’t traveled (and it’s really hard to write a travel blog when you haven’t traveled), I haven’t taken enough risks, and I haven’t gotten Bradley Cooper to star in the movie version of my unpublished book. I haven’t been querying my novel enough and I haven’t been writing enough and that needs to stop right now. Or rather start right now. More writing. More querying. More. As in every day. So this month, this ninth month, this pivotal 2/3’s – 3/4’s month, I’m going to write (and post) just one paragraph. Every day. It might not help me hit my goals. But it’s something.

I found the inspiration for “One Paragraph A Day” from my friend Kim who wrote one paragraph a day on her blog about a month ago. She found the inspiration here. Thank you ladies for the kick in the butt I needed and inspiring me to do more every day.

Whole Foods has Arrived in Oxnard (Huzzah!)

Whole Foods Oxnard held a Friends and Family event last Monday to celebrate the store’s Grand Opening on Wednesday, June 19th. There was going to be food and entertainment so I was extremely excited to be invited to the event for an opportunity to write a sponsored post. (Have I ever mentioned that I like to eat?)


I was especially happy to participate in this opportunity because I try very hard to eat healthfully and feed my family healthy foods. Now don’t get me wrong, I love and adore junk food because it’s delicious, but I rarely eat it.  And since Chandler’s friends don’t like to come over because we never have junk food in the house and many of my friends tell me I eat healthier than anyone they know (I doubt it), I guess I’m doing a pretty good job.

So last Monday night my friend Kim and I headed out to Oxnard to check the new Whole Foods Market out. My first thought when I walked into the store was, “Wow! This place is gorgeous.” As someone who likes to grocery shop (like, for reals) I really appreciated not only the store’s incredible selection, but the beautiful aesthetics.

I knew there was going to be appetizers, but when we were told there was going to be wine and beer tasting as well, my next thought was, “This is hands down the BEST market grand opening ever in the history of market grand openings!” (Not that I’ve ever been to a market grand opening. But I could tell.)

Kim and I headed off to find some free grub and booze food and wine samples when we ran into a blogger friend of hers who asked Kim if I was her mother. And since I am only five years older than Kim I didn’t just want to taste some wine, I needed to up end an entire bottle down my throat.

(I will admit that I don’t think she really looked at me when she said that, and when she did was completely mortified. But still. Really?! I guess it could have been worse – she could have said, “Kim, is this your mom? When is her baby due?”)

I forgave the faux paus (mostly) and went on to have a fabulous time.

I could get into a lot of trouble in a store like this. Everything I tasted was nothing short of excellent. There was sushi, vegan salads, salmon burgers, barbecued beef sliders, taquitos, samosas, flatbread pizza, cheese (like crazy good cheese), and the wine and beer tasting that I mentioned. Didn’t I tell you – best store grand opening EVER!

In my head I took a lot more pictures of the amazing food and wine, but apparently in reality – not so much!

Kim and I were lucky enough to talk to the store’s designer and she explained to us the store was designed with the local environment in mind so the interior reflects the agricultural significance and beach culture of Oxnard and Ventura. Because it is right off the 101 Freeway many of the design elements were inspired by travel to and exploration of the beach and Channel Islands.

The store really is gorgeous, but I’m not going to lie – the most amazing and unique feature about the market is the fact that it has an old Air Stream trailer that was converted into a bar. That’s right – Whole Foods Oxnard has a bar! (Forget best market grand opening ever – how about just best market ever!)

Pretend the picture of me and Kim isn’t blurry, that I’m sucking my stomach in instead of poking it out, and that the photo of me isn’t crappy. (Please!)

Bar Rincon, located at the front of the store, serves wine, a rotating selection of over 24 craft beers – many of them local, and an extensive food menu. Kim and I hightailed it up to the bar and chatted up the cute sales rep from Figueroa Mountain Brewing company pouring samples of Hoppy Poppy IPA. The beer was excellent. We also tasted some Hitching Post “Hometown” Pinot Noir (made famous in the movie Sideways). Like the cheese I had previously inhaled – crazy good! It was about this time I was very bummed that I had volunteered to drive.

Good times at the Bar Rincon

We were given a tour of the store and here are some of the features I really loved:

  • They will be selling seasonal and locally sourced produce from my favorite local organic farm, McGrath Family Farms. (Yes, I have a favorite farm. Doesn’t everybody?)
  • There is a large selection of organic and sulfite-free wines, some starting at $2.49 per bottle and over 100 varieties under $10. (If there’s one thing I love it’s a bargain! Bargain wine most of all.)
  • There is a beer aisle with 72 feet of chilled beer with an impressive assortment of local craft beers, domestic favorites and unique imports. (I wonder how often Alex, the cute beer sales rep hangs out here.)
  • Their meat department has a full line of locally sourced, 100% grass-fed beef, chicken and turkey. I love this because the more I read about what’s in my food’s food, the less I want to eat it. (Ignorance may be bliss, but in this case it’s not very healthy.)
  • Whole Foods does not sell items with High Fructose Corn Syrup. Not a single one!
  • Bar Rincon has free WiFi. (I think I’m moving in!)
Yes, there are plenty of bargains at Whole Foods!
72 feet of chilled beer – yes please!

I also found out that as part of its commitment to supporting local causes in the community in which it works, Whole Foods Market stores, nationwide, hold Community Support Days several times a year and donate five percent of that day’s net sales to a local nonprofit or educational organization. This Wednesday, June 26th, Whole Foods Oxnard will be holding a Community Support Day. Five percent of net sales from the Whole Foods Market Oxnard store will go to  an organization called House Farm Workers! that helps provide safe, decent and affordable housing for farm workers. (So this Wednesday would be a really good day to shop there!)

A market that sells healthy food, supports its community, and has a bar (with free WiFi) – Whole Foods Oxnard is definitely the kind of market made just for me!

This is my kind of store!

Disclaimer: While this is a sponsored post for Whole Foods Market Oxnard, all opinions expressed are solely my own.

The Way Way Back and the Cake Disaster

Way Way Back

Wednesday afternoon my friend Kim texted me asking if I wanted to go to a movie at 7:30. She was invited to a screening of The Way Way Back and had a plus one. It was around 4:00. I was running errands and knew I’d be home by 5:00, I had nothing planned and figured I’d have enough time to make dinner and make myself look semi-presentable, so I said sure. She told me she’d pick me up at 6:45.

At 6:15 I realized I was the worst end-of-school-year mom in the world (well maybe second worst) because I actually did have plans that night. Marley and I were supposed to bake a cake for her language arts class the next day. They were having a heritage party and everyone was supposed to bring a cultural food item. And since we are as Anglo and uninteresting as it gets culturally, Marley chose the coffee cake we have every year at Christmas.

She told her teacher it was a recipe from her great-great-great grandfather that he brought from Germany. (Uh, a recipe from her great grandfather from Pennsylvania that he probably got out of a cookbook would probably be more accurate, but Language Arts is all about spinning a creative yarn, yes?)

“Listen,” I said to Marley. “I totally spaced about the cake. I can’t cancel on Kim now, she’ll be here in half an hour. I’ll make it in the morning okay. I promise.”

She gave me that look. You know, that total look of disappointment that kids give you when you know you’ve screwed up and damn it to hell they know it too. “I’m afraid you’re going to forget, Mom.”

“I won’t forget, Marley. I swear to you. I get up at five o’clock every morning and go on my computer and I’ll tape a huge note there to remind myself. I will not disappoint you, Marley. I promise.”

My high-tech way of keeping it all together

“Okay,” she said. But she wasn’t happy.

“I’ll make the cake with her,” Dave said.

“Really?” I asked. “You don’t mind?” I don’t know what’s worse – the fact that I forgot about the cake or the fact that it never occurred to me to ask Dave if he could bake it with her. (No wonder my cousin calls me a control freak!)

“No, we can do it. Just put what I need on the counter. What, is it a mix or something?”

Sigh… no, our heritage recipe from Marleys’ great-great-great German grandfather is not a mix. And it has a cinnamon swirl in the middle.

“No, it’s from scratch, but Marley’s made it with me a bunch of times. She can probably do it herself. You’ll just need to supervise.”

At 6:45 I walked out the door leaving my family with the mess of dinner to clean up and a cake to bake.

I was happy to be having a grown-up evening and share in Kim’s blogger perk of seeing a free movie. (Kim is a waaaay better connected blogger than me.)

The movie was really fantastic. The Way Way Back is a coming of age movie with an amazing cast. I love ALL of them – Steve Carell, Toni Collette (I really looooove her), Allison Janney (I really looooove her too!), Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolf, Amanda Peet, Rob Corddry, AnnaSophia Robb and a kid named Liam James in the starring role. All I can say about this movie is WOW! It’s in theaters July 5th. Do yourself a favor and go see it. (And don’t forget your Kleenex.) It’s funny and sad and heartbreaking and poignant and just… wonderful.

When we got out of the movie I turned my phone back on and saw that I had a missed call from home and a text from Dave that said, Please call home. Uh oh. What went wrong? Did Marley burn herself? Was there some vital instruction missing from the recipe? What kind of disaster ensued because I was the worst mom ever and went out to see a movie with my friend instead of staying home to bake a cake with Marley like I promised?

It turns out, this kind…


Marley didn’t let the cake cool down enough and when she tried to get it out of the bundt pan it fell to pieces. Dave asked if they should start a new one or if I wanted to make another one in the morning. Since I didn’t want to be up until eleven o’clock at night baking a cake I told him I’d do it in the morning.

When I got home the house smelled like Christmas and Dave, Chandler and Marley were devouring the broken cake. I might or might not have had a bite or two ten myself. Never in the history of class projects has a child (and her family) been so happy to see the project be a complete and total failure.

The next morning we devoured the rest of the cake had coffee cake for breakfast. And Marley took this to school…

Oh yeah!

Because I’m the best mom in the world. (Obviously.)

Invisalign – The Invisible Braces

A few weeks ago I was invited to attend a blogging workshop sponsored by Invisalign. Free food and drinks at a swanky hotel, mingling with other FAB bloggers, learning some awesome blogging tips, the opportunity to find out about a great product and write a sponsored post? Oh yes, Yes, please!


As far as braces go, I was lucky. I was blessed with straight teeth and never had to wear them. (Of course I received the curse of having more cavities than I can count no matter how much I brushed -and I brushed a lot- but that’s another story.)

My son – not so lucky. When he was around seven or eight years old we were told that he would definitely be needing braces. For more than half of his middle school years and the first few months of high school my son’s smile looked like this:

Say cheese!

His teeth look fabulous now. He has a beautiful smile. But when he had braces he was in pain every time they were tightened and did not like having restrictions placed on what he could eat. (And I was not such a fan of cutting corn off the cob in the summertime.) At Halloween he would end up giving almost half of his candy to his sister. He was a good sport, but not a very happy camper.

I think he would have been a much happier camper (and I could have left the corn on the cob) if Invisalign had been an option for him when he got his braces.

Invisalign has been around since 1999 and started their Invisalign Teen line four years ago, just about the time Chandler was getting his braces. His orthodontist uses Invisalign now, but I don’t think he did back then. And don’t worry that Invisalign is too new and not tested out – there are more than 2 million Invisalign cases in treatment or completed worldwide.

Invisalign uses a series of practically invisible removable aligners that gradually move teeth over time. The aligners are changed every two weeks. This means you don’t wear them when you eat or brush your teeth. And there is an indicator that changes color so Invisalign wearers know when to switch to the next set and  alerts the orthodontist as to whether or not the wearer has been wearing them for as many hours a day (20 – 22) as they’re supposed to. (Pretty tricky!)

They’re practically invisible!

Does Invisalign really work?  After hearing from the brand reps, a certified orthodontist, and 2 teenagers who have used Invisalign (and their parents), I’m convinced that it does.

If your child has crooked teeth, an overbite, underbite, gapped teeth or various other dental problems, Invisalign might be an excellent alternative to traditional metal braces.

Sounds fantastic right? But how much are these invisible braces going to cost? Amazingly enough, about the same as regular braces. The range is from $3,500 to $8,000, with the national average being around $5,000. (I paid about $5,500 for my son’s traditional braces.)

To be honest, after the presentation I found myself thinking that Invisalign might be perfect for my husband. He really should have had braces as a child but didn’t. I think he’d be even cuter if his bottom teeth were straighter. (And he’s pretty cute!)

Did you know Invisalign was a clear alternative to braces? What do you think about them?

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.


Do you use quotes? (I don’t mean when you are writing dialog – those are quotation marks silly!)

No, what I mean is, are there quotes from books or movies or (gasp) even TV shows that just resonate with you or have even become part of your family vernacular? Or maybe there is a song lyric (or two) that just speaks to you.

Last week Mama Kat had a writing prompt to list 6 of your favorite quotes but I chose to write about facing a fear instead.

But I’ve been thinking about this prompt because there are quotes that I love. Probably because I love words so much. Sometimes I read words that are so beautiful I can almost feel them in my mouth weighing down on my tongue. I like to hold them there like I would a sip of a bold Cabernet and taste their deliciousness.

I like different quotes for different reasons. Some quotes inspire me. Some quotes are funny. Others make me cry.

Every once in a while one of my friends will say, “And to quote Charlene…” And that makes me feel special. That I said something worth remembering. Worth repeating.

Forever in search of the right word

My favorite quote about writing is this one from Mark Twain…

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

So true. Writing is hard people. At least writing well. I have literally spent hours trying to perfect a phrase or a paragraph (not on my blog obviously) that isn’t coming together the way I heard it in my head. But when it comes – that word that puts it all together, makes it right, makes it flow… That is nothing short of magic. And truly makes all the difference in the world.

Anne Lamott, photo credit James Hall

Another quote about writing I love is from a Sunset Magazine article called Time Lost and Found by Anne Lamott. In this article Lamott tells about teaching writing and how she tries to impress upon her students that if they want to write they need to stop making excuses and make time to do it.

“Can’t they give up the gym once a week and buy two hours’ worth of fresh, delectable moments? (Here they glance at my butt.)”

I cannot tell you how many times I think of this quote. (Mostly when I’m skipping the gym so I can write.) But making time for everything except writing is so easy. Because writing is hard. (See above.)

So the next time you see me and think to yourself that my jeans are looking a little tight, it’s not because I’ve been blowing off the gym, it’s because I’m taking the time to write. (At least that’s the story I’m sticking with!)

Be the change…

A quote that inspires me and one that I try to live by is from Mahatma Gandhi…

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.

‘Nuff said!


And to show you that I’m not really a deep thinker (though I’m pretty sure you already know that) here is a quote from David Lee Roth…

“Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it.”

I’ve written before about how I don’t believe that money can buy you happiness. (And I don’t.) But I’ll be honest. I’ve had money and I’ve not had money and all things being equal – having money is better. (A lot better…)

If you have not read this book you must!

From the book The Girls by the awesome Lori Lansens…

“I don’t want to learn, I just want to know.”

I may not have this quote 100% right (I’ve loaned my book out so I can’t check) but it’s close enough – you get the picture. The Girls is one of my favorite books and this quote stuck with me because it reminds me so much of my daughter Marley. (And perhaps, ahem… maybe more of me than I like to admit.) The coolest thing ever is that some time after reading this book I met Lori (she lives in my town – how random is that?!) and we became friends. I told Lori about how much I loved this quote because of it reminding me of Marley and she said is was inspired by her daughter. (Lori and I have spent a lot of time talking about the similarities of our very spirited daughters!)

Please ignore my unkempt backyard.

“Eat Drink and be Merry”

I have this plaque hanging over my kitchen window. Yeah, like I said, I’m not very deep – but seriously… this quote says it all doesn’t it? Because what is life if you can’t Eat Drink and be Merry? I, for one, do not want to find out.

I’d love to know – what is your favorite quote?

yacht photo courtesy of  Yorick R via Creative Commons

Mean Girls and 7th Grade

Or rather 7th grade sucks. And not just because of the mean girls.

But why am I telling you this? There is a great blog that I read called Mama’s Losin’ It written by an awesome blogger named Kathy (or Mama Kat) who gives writing prompts every week. When you write a blog using one of the prompts you can link your blog to her site and (hopefully) get more reads. Very cool and very generous of her. Thank you Mama Kat!

I can definitely use a writing prompt this week (and possibly every week) as I am coming up dry lately. Seriously dry. Unless you want to hear about my kids’ Spring Break where I planned absolutely nothing and Marley has been sitting around all week watching My Strange AddictionYeah, I wouldn’t want to hear about that either. (And I certainly don’t want to write it!)

So, one of the writing prompts was to write about a 7th grade memory. And since Marley is in 7th grade I thought this would be a good one.

The problem is I’ve been trying to forget about the 7th grade for the last 35 years. (Shut up about how old I am. Shut! Up!)

When I was in 7th grade (Oh god, I do sound old now…When I was your age…), 7th grade was the beginning of Jr. High. There was no middle school back then. It was elementary K-6, jr. high 7-9, and high school 10-12.

And 7th grade sucks. Or 6th grade. Let’s just say your first year into jr. high (or middle school or whatever). Sucks. Big time. Everyone knows that.

For the first time you’re trying to balance homework from different classes. You’re getting pimples. And possibly your period. (Which makes you a weepy crazy over-reacts-to-everything irrational cranky-ass bitch.)

And there are so many distractions. Like boys. And girls who have cuter clothes than you do. (Which is all of them. Except that weird girl in your 2nd period class who came to school Monday in the exact same rainbow top that ties on the side that you wore to school last Friday. Copycat Bitch!) And boys. Did I mention boys? They’re very distracting. Very.

And you start cursing, not only in your head like you sometimes did in elementary school, but out loud. So mean girls (which is all of them -even your former elementary school friends) are bitches and mean guys (which are the cute ones) are assholes. Because you know, you sound so much cooler when you say words like that. That asshole! That bitch!

The popular mean girls are pretty. They have no pimples. Their mothers buy them clothes from Judy’s or Contempo Casuals (the Brandy Melville and Abercrombie of yesteryear) instead of Gemco where your mother buys yours. Some of them sneer at you as you walk by. Others give you a fakey-fake smile and say, “Hi-how-are-you-I-love-your-rainbow-top” as they pass you in the hallways but you hear them snicker and comment on the fact that you obviously only have two pairs of Dittos -and not even the side-saddle kind- as soon as they’re behind your back.

You hate the popular mean girls. But only because you want to be them.

And if you are honest with yourself (but who is at that age) you will admit that you are probably just as mean as they are. After all, you said some pretty rude things about the weird girl who copied your rainbow top to your friends. Not that you have any friends. Not like in elementary school when life was easy.

Because in 7th grade the girls are mean. And the homework is hard. And the cute boys are assholes distracting.

So the only real memory I have from the 7th grade is that it sucked. (But that’s okay – because 8th grade when I kissed a boy and started babysitting so I could occasionally shop at the mall- totally ruled!)

This post was inspired by:

Mama Kat workshop logo

So, I Won This Contest on Pinterest… (Part 3)

Wine Sisterhood Gathering 2013

Yes, it’s my last installment of my fabulous weekend in Napa with the Wine Sisterhood. If you missed part one and/or part two you can read them here and here.

When I woke up on Tuesday morning I had purple teeth. And not just a little. Ah, the price of drinking wine for 10 hours straight! Instead of Zumba I did a quick 1/2 hour on the elliptical at the gym next door because I needed extra time to wash my hair. (No, I don’t wash my hair every day – so?!) After my shower I ran downstairs, grabbed some breakfast, and brought it back to my room so I could pretend I was having room service for breakfast. (Which you might be interested to know is just about my most favorite thing in life.)

Jennifer went for a run and picked up coffee and a biscotti. I like big breakfasts (and lunches and dinners). Jennifer likes small breakfasts (and lunches and dinners). If you were to look at us standing side by side this would not be a surprise. (Skinny bitch!)

When we went downstairs to the conference room I noticed an incredibly beautiful woman I hadn’t seen before. She was stunning. Like a model. I was surprised that I hadn’t noticed her before as she had that type of presence that one takes notice of. Her name was Leila Janah and she was one of the morning’s speakers and founder of Samasource and Samahope.

Leila Janah tells the Wine Sisterhood about her mission

Sama means equal in Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language. Leila’s father taught her that all people are equally deserving of dignity and opportunity, and that landing in a middle class family with access to good schools, health care, and food on the table every night is pure chance. Her father instilled in her a belief that we have a duty to help people who aren’t as lucky in life’s birth lottery.

Samasource  connects women and youth living in poverty to dignified work via the Internet. Samahope uses crowdfunding to pay for low-cost life-saving surgeries in impovershed parts of the world.

So it turns out Leila Janah is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. Leila showed us this film about one of the women that benefited from Samasource:

She then told us about her two non-profits. It was really amazing to hear from a woman who is making a true difference in the world.

Our next speaker, Danielle Smith, was just as beautiful and just as dynamic. I was lucky enough to get to know Danielle a bit before she spoke as she was in my group, the Mischief Makers. She is an award winning former television news anchor and reporter with two websites – Extraordinary Mommy and Danielle Smith Media.

Danielle-Smith-Extraordinary Mommy
Danielle Smith in an interactive video workshop. Photo credit M.J. Wickham

Danielle led an interactive workshop about getting comfortable with video and was looking for three volunteers to get up in front of everyone and record a one-minute video. Because I knew I’d never hear the end of it from Jennifer (and in case you haven’t noticed, I don’t mind being the center of attention) I volunteered. I didn’t have anything planned, so I just gave my blog a shameless plug and joked about the fact that I was bitter about Pinterest winner Katie getting a shout out instead of me the day before. I got a few laughs and during my critique Danielle told me my humor really came across. So perhaps there will be video in this blog’s future. We’ll see…

Hey, here’s another crappy picture of me on the Internet! Photo credit: M.J. Wickham

Okay, it’s 10:30 AM already – on to the drinking! We had a wine and cheese pairing with Cabot Cheese and Culture Magazine.

Cabot Creamery is a 1,200+ farm family dairy cooperative that produces all natural, award-winning cheeses. (If you like spicy their Habanero Cheese is deliciously hot, Hot, HOT!)

Culture Magazine is a magazine about cheese. Cheese! (Have I mentioned that I really, REALLY like cheese?) Note to self: get subscription to Culture Magazine ASAP.

The cheeses were paired with wines from the Wine Sisterhood labels – Middles Sister “Surfer Chick” Sauvignon Blanc, Purple Cowboy Tenacious Red, Monogamy Cabernet Sauvignon, Deep Purple Zinfandel, Middle Sister, “Sweet & Sassy” Moscato. My favorite cheese was the Humboldt Fog goat cheese. One woman said she thought she only liked Brie, but she was wrong. (Oh boy was she – this cheese rocks!)

Wine Sisterhood wines + cheese + Culture Magazine = FABULOUS!

Of course after the wine and cheese pairing we were starving, not to mention thirsty, so we split into our groups for lunch and more wine tasting.

The Mischief Makers got on our party bus and headed to Domaine Carneros for a sparkling wine tasting and a lovely light lunch. We took a tour of the beautiful chateau and met wine maker Eileen Crane. I added her to the list of fabulously dynamic women I met on this trip. I loved learning more about the sparkling wine process and would definitely recommend a tour of Domaine Carneros if you are a sparkling wine fan.

“Art of Sparkling Wine” Tour offered daily at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m and is $30 per person.

The wonderful Domaine Carneros

After our wonderful lunch we headed to Palmaz Vineyards for a tour and tasting led by Florencia Palmaz. Palmaz is a gorgeous family-owned and operated winery. The Palmaz family is originally from Argentina, but moved to the states in the 1970’s. They fell in love with Napa while patriarch Julio Palmaz was finishing his medical residency at UC Davis. Palmaz turned his love of mechanics and engineering (he invented the coronary stent) into designing the vineyard’s elaborate gravity flow winery. From the stunning views to the deep basement caverns, this multi-level winery is truly something to see. Jennifer thought it was the highlight of the trip.

We had an amazing wine and food pairing (The wine was spectacular and the smoked duck breast wrapped around a cream cheese and fig filling was to die for). The tour and wine pairing is by reservation only. It costs $60 and is worth every penny.

Palmaz Vineyards
The view from Palmaz Vineyards
A wine engineering masterpiece!
Another view

After Palmaz we went back to the hotel. Do not however think there was any time to rest. After a quick stop to our room Jennifer and I checked out the Wine Sisterhood Sassy Suite. What is a Sassy Suite? It was a suite reserved to showcase the Wine Sisterhood wines and fabulous items for sale at the Wine Sisterhood online shop. (Looking for a gift for a wine-loving girlfriend? Look no further, this online shop will hook you up!)

Welcome to the Sassy Suite

Next was The Hess Collection for more wine tasting and our last dinner. The Hess Collection is a vineyard, winery, art gallery, and local artisan gift shop all rolled into one. I loved the Hess Collection Winery because not only are their wines very good, they are sustainably farmed and Napa Green certified. We enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner. I loved (and I mean LOVED) every meal, but I think this one prepared by Chef Chad Hendrickson was my favorite. (And the blue crab mini-tostada appetizers – Oh. My. Gawd!)

The Hess Collection
The Hess Collection


The Hess Collection
Our closing dinner
Dinner at Hess Collection
Jennifer’s tiny plate
My ginormous plate!
All done!

Complimentary winery tours, including an overview of The Hess Collection Winery and Vineyards are offered daily between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. A tasting of four current release wines is $10. Unique experiences including a private tour and tasting, and wine and food pairings start at $25. Reservations can be made here.

After dinner we boarded the party bus for the last time. And I have to admit, I may have been over-fine-wined-and-dined. (Well, can anyone ever be over-fine-wined-and-dined?) I was tired. But happy. So happy. I felt so lucky and so blessed to be able to have this experience.

So what’s it like to win a contest on Pinterest? What do you think?