My Girls’ Night Out (While All My Friends Were Drunk Off Their Asses and I was Stone Cold Sober)

Last Friday night, when I was nearing the end of my second week of the Biggest Loser-style weight loss competition Just Lose It program at my gym, I was invited to my friend’s beach house for a girls’ night slumber party.

At first I thankfully declined the invitation.

I mean, I couldn’t drink. And trust me, I’ve given myself plenty of pep talks before walking into a social gathering about how I’m not going to drink because I am trying to lose weight, only to find a glass of wine in my hand 30 seconds after walking in the door.

And party food is my biggest weakness. (If we’re ever at the same party and you want to find me, just head over to the food table where you’ll most likely find me face first hoovering as many hors devours as I possibly can into my cheese hole.)

meat-and-cheese-platter
This photo was taken at the Wine Sisterhood Gathering in March. Right before I stuck my face in it.

 

But we had nothing going on at home. And if I’m going to be successful beyond this program I’m going to have to learn how to rein it in and live my life in (a little bit of) moderation.

So I put on my big-girl no-drinking panties and went to the beach house.

Of course I got shit from my friends 30 seconds after walking in the door. I told them if they tried to make me drink I would leave. So they shut the hell up.

I have to be honest, if this Just Lose It program was an individual competition as opposed to a team competition, I would have ended up drinking. My drunk friends were acting like assholes, but I really don’t think I would have noticed (or cared) if I was drunk and acting like an asshole too. Screw proving something to myself. I disappoint myself all the time. I’m used to it. But I had a weigh-in in three days. I needed to stay strong and not disappoint my team.

I did have fun, but trust me, they were having more. Seriously, not to be offensive, but if this is what it’s like to be “high on life,” pass me a bottle of vodka so I can take a big ol’ swig. Being high on booze? It’s better.

Speaking of “high,”, the high point of the night was the food. At least for me. (No surprise there.) While there was fatty delicious crap dip (I only had two bites. With corn chips. Not bread.), the dinner itself was incredibly healthy. We grilled Salmon and chicken and fresh vegetables picked from one girlfriend’s garden. Plus we had cherries. Because my nutritionist says I need carbs. Amazing.

Grilled-summer-vegetables
Yes, we know how to make a meal!

After dinner we pumped up the 80’s iTunes and danced. If you are a man reading this, and are anything like my husband, I will tell you just like I told him that seven women dancing in the living room of a beach house does not mean we were just one drink away from having a big lesbian orgy right in the middle of the hardwood floor. Sorry to disappoint you, dudes. It just means that dancing is fun. And girls just wanna have fun. (Yeah, that was lame, but I couldn’t resist.)

Around eleven o’clock (which is about an hour and a half past my bedtime) we decided to walk to the dive bar down the street, that due to previous trips to the beach house has been nicknamed “The Hurt Locker” by my husband.

And this, is where things got a little bit nutty.

I can’t really tell you what happened at The Hurt Locker because it’s a little like Vegas that way. But here are some things that might or might not have happened. (I can neither confirm nor deny them.)

There might have been a two-man band there (singer and guitar player) with a guitar player who only seemed to know one riff and therefore every song sounded exactly the same. If there was such a band, the mystery remains how in the hell the singer even knew what song the guitarist was playing.

One of the girls might have chatted up a few of the locals to get free beer. I won’t lie, I like free beer and attention from the opposite sex too, but at this place? Not worth the $5 savings.

One of the girls might have had everyone in the entire bar dancing because of her hilarious dance moves and vivacious personality. She’s very pretty, but her confidence and funny demeanor translated into her being sexiest broad in the joint (by far). Her goal may have been to make sure every single person at the bar was having a good time. (If that did happen and that was her goal, she achieved it.)

The girl chatting up locals for free beer might not have liked not being the belle of the bar and might have told some of the patrons that the dancing girl was a lesbian. Or perhaps she was trying to protect the dancing girl from unwanted molesters suitors. You know, if she did say that, which I’m not saying she did.

But I will tell you that the dancing girl might be is funnier and cuter than me, so while I wasn’t the one calling her a lesbian in an effort to minimize the attention being paid to her, she might have deserved it! (I’m just sayin’)

One of the girls might have flirted with a cute boy who is the same age as her son – 21. (And people call me a cougar.)

But I’m only saying those things might have happened. I’ll never tell. And if they did… well, my friends were just having fun. Drunk girls do silly things. I was sober, so of course my behavior was boring perfect.

But I will tell you this, it’s a good thing I’m seeing some real progress with this Just Lose It program, because I had fun, but my girlfriends? They had a blast!

The ABC’s of Keeping Score with Middle Age

Last Friday was my birthday. My birthday is on Flag Day, so I hope you hung a flag in my honor. Or in honor of our flag. Whichever.

American-Flag-unicycle
Now this is how I like to see Flag Day celebrated!

To celebrate I got my butt out of bed at 5AM even though I didn’t sleep well the night before and went to the 5:30 Boot Camp class at my gym to prove to myself that I wasn’t old. (And so I wouldn’t feel guilty about eating whatever I wanted that day.) At the end of class the instructor had everyone sing Happy Birthday to me. I’d be a liar if I said I hated that. It wasn’t a scary milestone birthday, but it’s two very short years away from a scary milestone birthday, so I did some serious reflecting on my life -where I’ve been and where the hell I’m going- when I went on my morning dog walk. Then I had a mini-mid-life crisis, got a spa pedicure and had my toenails painted blue. And then to stick my tongue out even further to this thing called old middle age I got my hair colored so I could say buh-bye to my gray roots (until they pop back up in about three weeks a week and a half, sticking their middle finger up at my stuck out tongue in rude defiance). Me: 1 – Middle Age: 0 (At least until my roots come back!)

blue-toe-nail-polish
Don’t my feet look youthful?

In the late afternoon I went to a party for Chandler’s cross country team because even though it way MY birthday, I’m a mother first. (Plus I heard there’d be wine.) It was the track coach’s wife’s birthday too and some of the kiss ass very nice track moms got her a cake and had everyone gather around to sing Happy Birthday. She insisted that they sing to me too. I like the track coach’s wife. We got home from the party around 8:00 and Dave and I watched a DVR’d episode of Mr. Selfridge. Or rather Dave watched it. I was asleep (and probably drooling) by 8:30. Me: 1 – Middle Age: 1. (Dammit!) On Saturday morning I took the 9:30 kickboxing class at the gym a little terrified that Chris Stevenson would pull me on stage as he tends to do on birthdays. I really didn’t want to go on stage because A.) my normal workout pants were dirty and I was forced to wear a pair that screams, “Yes, my ass really is that fat” and B.) Even though I’ve been going to Boot Camp regularly, I haven’t been to kickboxing in a few weeks and wasn’t sure how well I could keep up with the intensity of the class. Chris was feeling unusually generous because he tried to coax me onstage, but didn’t pick me up and place me there like he’s done in the past. (He was probably afraid he’d hurt his back when he saw the size of my ass in above-mentioned workout pants.) Saturday night it was time to celebrate my birthday properly. I met my friend Cindy at Latigo Kid in downtown Agoura Hills at  my bedtime  8PM for a margarita (or two) before heading over to The Canyon Club to relive my youth and see 80’s New Wave/Pop/New Romantic sensation ABC. (Take that middle age!) Oh yeah, when I live it up, I live it up big. And if you’re going to live it up big and relive your 80’s (or 90’s) youth in this town, The Canyon Club is the place to do it. The club’s got a great ambiance and it’s all 80’s/90’s music all the time – Psychedelic Furs just played there (so bummed to have missed them), Courtney Love is coming, The English Beat is coming, Rick Springfield  plays there all the time.

Canyon-Club-Agoura-Hills
The coolest club in Agoura Hills through the blurry lens of my cellphone

ABC’s lead singer, Martin Fry may be 55-years-old, but he has definitely still got it. He shot his Poison Arrow straight through my heart alright. (See what I did there? No? Did you say #epicfail? Sorry!) In all seriousness, the band was fantastic. Martin looked very sharp dressed in a suit and his voice sounded great – amazing actually. Cindy and I smashed up as close as we could and danced and danced. The Look of Love, When Smokey Sings, Be Near Me – we sang along at the top of our lungs to all of them. They rocked the house. 80’s Music Rockstars: 1 – Middle Age: 0

ABC-Martin-Fry
These blurry pics are as good as it gets with my cellphone camera!

Although I will admit, the band went on exactly at 9:00 and was off stage by 10:15. (Probably when they used to start playing in the 80’s.) Because even though Martin Fry is a rockstar, he is even older than me. (I wonder if he ever falls asleep on the couch at 8:30 when he’s not performing.) 80’s Music Rockstars: 1 – Middle Age: 1. Yes, that damn Middle Age even sticks its middle finger up at rockstars. The only thing to do is keep rocking and stick up your middle finger right back. (You know, when you’re not asleep on the couch.) *Flag on unicycle photo courtesy of Mike Baird

Palm Desert Girlfriend’s Getaway

A few weeks ago I went to Palm Desert with some of my best girlfriends to celebrate a birthday-that-shall-not-be-named (hint: it rhymes with nifty). And NO, it wasn’t MY birthday. Shut your big fat mouth!

We stayed at the Miramonte Resort.

miramonte-resort

The Miramonte is true Palm Desert luxury.

lobby-miramonte-resort
A beautiful lobby
pool-miramonte-resort
I could get used to this!

Since there were to be between three and five of us at different points of the weekend, we stayed in a 550 square foot Dolce Suite. There were two queen size beds, a desk and a sitting room area that you could curtain off with a second TV, mini fridge and pull-out couch. We also had a private balcony. Yeah, when you have a milestone birthday in our group my friend Trixie* always finds a way to set you up right.

Miramonte-dolce-suite
Dolce Suite = Fabulous!

Part of our celebratory weekend was attending the Stagecoach Music Festival. We are not huge country music fans, but there were some amazing acts there that made us appreciate country music a lot more – Lady Antebellum, The Zac Brown Band, Toby Keith, Dwight Yoakam, Jeff Bridges, Darius Rucker, and Joe Nichols to name a few.

Stagecoach Music Festival 2013

We arrived late on a Thursday night, but Dagmar (the birthday girl) and I are both early risers (sigh, yes, even on vacation) so instead of sleeping in we headed to the hotel gym on Friday morning. (It might have had something to do with eating the world’s best donuts on the drive out.) The gym was a typical hotel gym with treadmills, ellipticals, and free weights. After about 40 sweaty minutes on the treadmills we declared ourselves done and ready for breakfast.

You had better believe that we filled our mini fridge with some staples for the weekend (and no, not just vodka) so we enjoyed some Greek yogurt with granola and strawberries on the balcony.

greek-yogurt-breakfast
Ignore the donuts behind my yogurt – I don’t know how they got there!

Trixe actually had to work the festival (which is how non-country music fans ended up at Stagecoach for a niftieth birthday) so she left us at around 9AM.

Dagmar and I lounged around the balcony for a bit and then headed down to the pool. I wore a bikini. Well, a bikini top and board shorts. I probably have no business wearing a bikini top, but I don’t care. To be honest I was more concerned that I hadn’t had the chance to get a pedicure before we left.

pool-at-Miramonte-Resort
You didn’t think I’d show you a picture of me in a bikini top did you?

Besides the pool was full of hot bodied 25 year olds. Trust me, no one was looking my way.

Speaking of hot bodied 25-year-olds…

hot-cowboy
Howdy Pardner!

Okay, he was probably closer to 32. (Even better!) Yes, the view at the pool was quite nice. Quite nice indeed. Trust me, my cell phone was not the only one pointed in this direction!

Would you like another look?

Stagecoach-cowboy
Me likey!

As the Dixie Chicks said, “Cowboy take me away!”

There was a big group of late twenty/early thirty-somethings at our hotel for the Stagecoach festival and they were partying it up at the pool. They were very amusing to watch. (And people watching is one of my favorite activities!)

The Mirmonte Resort has an excellent pool menu so we took advantage of it and ordered lunch poolside. We decided to split a club sandwich.

Mirmonte-Resort-Pool-Menu
Delish!

It was delicious and the fries were amazing. A-MA-ZING! (I really, really love fries.)

We may have also enjoyed a vodka pomegranate cocktail (or three) while lounging by the pool all day. I can neither confirm nor deny such a thing.

Yes, the pool at the Miramonte is pretty spectacular. The service was fantastic, the pool was very clean and the perfect temperature, and there were plenty of lounge chairs. My only suggestion would be more umbrellas. (You can only sit in the sun for so long in Palm Desert.)  It was the perfect place to spend the day. (And the next day and the next day!)

At 4:00 we headed up to our room to get ready for the concert. For a couple of “old ladies” I think we cleaned up okay.

50 is the new 30
Eva Mendes has nothing on my friend Dagmar!

We’d never been to Stagecoach before and didn’t quite know what to expect. But when we were pulling up to the parking lot and spotted this we knew we were in for a good time…

speedo
Um… okay…

We reconnected with Trixie and she set us up with a meet and greet with Joe Nichols. Admittedly, we didn’t really know who he was, but he was way cute and super sweet. We  saw Jeff Bridges perform right up close.

Jeff Bridges

After Jeff Bridges we walked around the vendor area, then had dinner with Trixie and then saw Toby Keith. All in all it was a great night.

On Saturday morning we decided to go for a walk instead of going to the gym and the concierge at the hotel hooked us up with a three mile walk around the neighborhood. It was already about 90 degrees at 9AM, but the walk was lovely. (I dig Palm Desert architecture.)

Palm-Desert-architecture
A lovely neighborhood stroll.

Trixie went off to work and Dagmar and I headed to the pool for more sun, vodka and cowboys. Trixie’s sister, Sherry, and our good friend Heidi joined us around lunchtime. Late in the afternoon the cowboys were pretty drunk and invited us to a naked midnight pool party. There was no chance in hell that was happening. But it was nice to be asked.

Around 5:00 we headed back out to Stagecoach for Dwight Yoakam and Lady Antebellum. Trixie hooked us up with a great viewing spot for both performances. Unfortunately my camera wasn’t able to properly focus on the awesomeness happening before me.

Charles-Kelley-Lady-Antebellum
Side stage and loving life! (BTW – Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum is HOT!)

Sunday morning the five of us went to IHOP for fake eggs and pancakes. Then Trixie went back to work and the rest of us went to the pool for a happy repeat of days one and two. Heidi had to leave around 2:00 because unlike me she is a good mom and would never leave her family for four and a half days of cowboys and vodka and sun. Then it was back to the festival for barbecue, Darius Rucker and Zac Brown Band.

Monday morning we woke up knowing we’d have to head back to reality. But before we did we ate breakfast al fresco at the Grove Artisan Kitchen at the Miramonte. I had the Maine Lobster Omelet with mushrooms and asparagus. (I had it made as a scramble and yes, it was as good as it sounds.)

lobster-omelet
IHOP eat your heart out!

After breakfast we packed up, did a little outlet shopping, and then went home.

All in all the weekend was pretty amazing. I think next year we’ll definitely be back at Stagecoach. (Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but I might left with a new-found appreciation of country music.)  Look for me poolside at the Miramonte getting my fix of vodka and cowboys and sun.

*Sometimes my girlfriends like to fly under the radar so for the sake of privacy I’ve changed their names for this post.

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

Napa-collage
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-Samasource
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…

Danielle-Smith-video-workshop
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-and-cheese-pairing
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.

Domaine-Carneros
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
Palmaz-vineyards-tanks
A wine engineering masterpiece!
Palmaz-vineyards-tanks-downstairs
Another view
Palmaz-wine-and-food-pairing
Heaven!

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!)

Wine-Sisterhood-Shop
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

Napa-Green

The Hess Collection
Our closing dinner
Dinner at Hess Collection
Jennifer’s tiny plate
Dinner-Hess-Collection
My ginormous plate!
empty-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?

So, I Won This Contest on Pinterest… (Part 2)

Wine Sisterhood Gathering 2013
Wine Sisterhood Gathering 2013

As promised here is the Day Two recap of my trip to the 2013 Wine Sisterhood in Napa that I won on Pinterest. (If you missed Day One you can find it here.)

Jennifer is a good travel partner because she is an early-riser like me so when I wake up at o’dark thirty I don’t have to worry about disturbing her. We actually had a wake-up call for 6AM. (Yes, we are freaks.) She wanted to run and I wanted to hit the 7:00 Zumba class. She discovered the quiet early morning streets of Napa on foot and I put on a coin skirt and shook my booty (in a very uncoordinated-Kate-Gosselin-on-Dancing-with-the-Stars kind of way).

There was a gorgeously delicious breakfast buffet in the conference room at 8:00, but after our workouts showers were quite necessary so we didn’t make it down to the conference room until about 8:50. There was still plenty of food, but I missed out on morning socializing.

At 9:00 Terry Wheatley, our organizer and hostess extraordinaire gave opening remarks that were emotional and quite inspiring. She spoke of her vision for the Wine Sisterhood and quoted Walt Disney when she said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Terry Wheatley Wine Sisterhood
Terry Wheatley talks about big dreams

Then Terry gave a shout out and congratulations to a Pinterest winner…

named Katie

Katie brought her husband to the girl’s trip with her because he is her best friend blah blah blah.

What the… What about ME?! I’m a Pinterest winner too! Who loves to be the center of attention. Don’t I get a shout-out or a crown or something?

Katie of Hems for Her
Curtis and Katie at the flapper party at Raymond Vineyards

Katie obviously got the shout out because she is younger and cuter than me and the fact that she brought her best-friend-husband is just adorable right? Whatever Katie! (I’m just kidding – Katie is awesome. And she has a beautiful fashion blog called Hems for Her. You should check it out.)

Wine Sisterhood Pinterest winners
Two happy Pinterest Winners (I think I look drunk in this photo, but afterall it was taken at 11:30 AM!)

At 9:30 we listened to our first keynote speaker, Digital Diva Aliza Sherman, talk about all the fabulous phone apps that are available right now. Aliza is a great speaker and had fantastic information. Some of the apps she told us about were Drink-u-lator, an app that helps you know how much wine to buy when you’re planning a party (hint – it’s not a bottle per person!); Trover, a sort-of Instagram meets Trip Advisor; and Foodspotting, a sort-of Instagram meets FourSquare. I learned so much from her. Mostly, that I have a really lame phone. (I actually already knew that.)

Aliza-Sherman
Aliza Sherman talks apps

At 10:30 (yes in the morning) it was time for Bubble University. Translation: Sparkling Wine Tasting. (Now we are talking!)

The bubbly Leslie Sbrocco guided us through our tasting. (Yes, that pun was intended!)

Leslie is an emmy-award winning television host and Today Show Contributor and my new girl-crush. Leslie told us about getting the HUGE tattoo of a glass of  rosé sparkling wine on her calf, the different types of sparkling wine, what food to pair sparkling wine with (in her opinion all) and showed us how to saber a champagne (or sparkling wine) bottle. (That means pop the cork with a saber. It’s super-cool. Check out a 6-second video posted by Girlfriendology of Leslie sabering a bottle of sparkling rose here.)

Sparkling-wine-tasting
The fabulous Leslie Sbrocco schools the Wine Sisterhood on Sparkling Wine

After the sparkling wine tasting we broke off into two groups: Mischief Makers and Drama Queens – named after two of the Middle Sister wines and boarded luxury mini-buses for food and wine tastings aplenty. I was in the Mischief Maker group. (Oh don’t act all surprised by that – I am totally not a Drama Queen!) The groups would flip itineraries the next day.

The Mischief Makers went to a restaurant called Bistro Don Giovanni’s for lunch. It was Oh-my-god-I-feel-like-I’m-in-Italy delicious! We were given a four-course meal and a white and a red choice of Don Giovanni’s own estate grown wines. (So what if I chose both – be quiet!) One of the many things we talked about during lunch was the importance of a great wine label. We loved the label for Gio, Don Giovanni’s Sangiovese.

Don-Giovanni-Napa
Good times and great lunch with some winesisters – Lisa (@belvinowinery) and Sue (@kaysyrah) at Don Giovanni

After our lunch we waddled onto the bus to head to our first winery of the day.

Chappellet 

Our tour of Chappellet Winery was given by their Director of Hospitality, Candice Pannetier.  Candice gave us a tour of the barrel storage room and vineyards and told us the history of the family-owned winery and its owners, Donn and Molly Chappellet. Founded in 1967, the winery is located in Pritchard Hill and was one of the first wineries to pioneer high-elevation hillside planting. I don’t know what any of the means, but whatever it is they’re doing over at Chappellet, they are doing it right – this wine is crazy good. The winery is now run by three of the Chappellet children, but we had the privilege of meeting Molly Chappellet. She was an extraordinary woman with such a warm and lovely presence about her. She was so gracious and sophisticated and beautiful it felt like meeting royalty. (And I’m sure in Napa she is akin to royalty.)

Tastings at Chappellet can be booked here and start at $25.

Chappellet-vineyards
Beautiful Chappellet
Chappellet wine pour
More wine please Candice!
Wine sisterhood at Chappellet
Time for more wine!
Molly-Chappellet
Napa royalty, Molly Chappellet tells us about her beautiful winery
Chappellet wines
Yes please!

During lunch and the bus ride and walking around the Chappellet, I got to know some of the women in my group a little better. One of the best things about this trip was the amazing women I met from all over the country. Two of them were Debba Haupert of Girlfriendology and Beth Robeson of Healthy Kids Fast. Debba and Beth were both smart and interesting and funny. (Love them! Do yourselves a favor and check out their websites.)

Quintessa

Our next stop was Quintessa Winery.  When Agustin and Valeria Huneeus purchased the property for this winery in 1989 it was one of the few estates in Napa Valley that had never been planted to grapes. (I met Dave in 1989 and loved that Quintessa was established the same year we were.)

Our tour was given by Gwen McGill, their Director of Marketing, who showed us their beautiful grounds that includes a lake, five hills, a river and two forests. Not only were the grounds beautiful and the wine fantastic (we tasted the Illumination Sauvignon Blanc ($40), their Quintessa 2009 ($145) and Quintessa 2008 ($150) – hello!), but the vineyard is farmed entirely with biodynamic and organic techniques. We also tasted three different cheeses including this Seascape cheese from the Central Coast Creamy that was so ridiculously good I’m seriously considering having some shipped to my house even though it’s $17/pound. (Yes, it’s that good!) I was swooning over Quintessa.

Tastings are $65 and can be booked here.

Quintessa Gwen McGill
Gwen McGil pours Illumination Sauvignon Blanc
Quintessa
Gorgeous!
Quintessa Lake
What a view!

The Kitchen Door

Next we headed to The Kitchen Door for dinner. (You know, because we were so hungry.)

The Kitchen Door is located in the Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa and is definitely a must-visit destination. The restaurant was closed for our party and chefs Todd Humphries and Christoper Litts made a special menu for our dinner.

First appetizers were passed around – Gourgeres Stuffed with Spinach and Mornay Sauce (think creamed spinach stuffed into a little bite-sized pastry), Deviled Eggs with Wasabi Tobiko (um, yum!), Salmon Pastrami with Sauerkraut on a Rye Crouton (ridiculous!) and Demitasse of Mushroom Soup (best mushroom soup I’ve ever had). Is your mouth watering yet? We still had three courses to go!

1st course
Spinach Salad with Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese, Shaved Apples, Toasted Walnuts and a Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Entree
Pot Roast – Whole roasted center cut beef shoulder with garden vegetables and fresh grated horse radish.
(a vegetarian option was offered, but who wants that?)

Dessert
Bettermilk Panna Cotta with Sour Cherry Compote (Oh. My. Gawd. So good!)

Wine
2011 Tablas Creek, Patelin de Tablis Blanc, Paso Robles, CA
Unti, Rose of Grenache/Mourvedre, Dry Creek, CA
2008 Six Sigma, Tempranillo, Lake County, CA
2010 Bonny Doon, Old Vine Field Blend, ‘Contra’, Santa Cruz, CA

I chose the Bonny Doon ‘Contra’. It was excellent.

Our hotel was only two blocks away so the buses left after dropping us off and when we finished dinner we all walked home. I don’t think the walking home, the morning’s Zumba class, or all the walking we did around the vineyards was nearly enough to keep this food and wine from sticking to my middle-aged middle -but who cares? I was in foodie-food and wine-snob heaven.  So different from my $7-Costco-and-fake-it-like-you-made-it-Trader-Joe’s-frozen-dinner regular existence.

Kitchen-Door-Napa
The Kitchen Door – you MUST eat here when you are in Napa

Stay tuned for Day Three. Could it be any better? Maybe…

Adam Ant is Old and Fat (Says the Pot Calling the Kettle Black)

Adam Ant at the Mayan Theatre
Yes, that blurry creature in the pirate costume really is Adam Ant!

Two weeks ago my girlfriend Lisa took me to see Adam Ant. I was excited. I’ve loved Adam Ant since the early 80’s when he was still Adam and the Ants. (Ah the memories of me going to my friend Kellie’s every day after school in 12th grade to eat chipped beef or tuna on saltine crackers -trust me, it was delicious- and watch music videos on this brand new thing called MTV while we did our homework.)

I’d never seen Adam Ant in concert before, which seems unbelievable (to me anyway), because I’m a big concert-goer. At least I was. You know, when I was younger. These days I’m lucky if I see one or two shows a year.

Unless dragging my family kicking and screaming in the summertime to the free Sunday concerts-in-the-park  to see Queen and Bon Jovi cover bands counts as going to concerts. No? I didn’t think so.

Adam Ant was playing at the Mayan Theatre downtown so we had to battle weeknight commuter traffic to get there. Ugh. I don’t know how people drive in that everyday and retain their sanity. I also don’t understand why there is traffic going into the city when it should be coming out of the city – such is the beauty of LA.

We wanted to find somewhere to eat near the Mayan Theatre before the show. Have you ever tried to find a place to eat dinner in downtown Los Angeles? It’s nearly impossible. Unless you’re near the Staples Center, downtown LA is a scary ghost town at night. Fortunately The Staples Center is only a mile away from the Mayan, so we were able to find a place to eat (after driving around in the wrong direction) without too much difficulty.

We chose El Cholo. (Yes, there is one downtown now. And yes, Yum!)  Green chili and cheese tamales + Caesar salad + margaritas = two happy ladies.

After dinner we were walking back to the theater and I felt this HUGE splash on me. A car full of kids drove by and blasted us with an industrial-sized water gun or bucket or something, and as I was on the street side, half of my body was entirely drenched. Drenched! I squeezed into my favorite jeans, put on my cutest mid-life-belly-hiding-top, left the suburbs and battled ninety minute traffic to get a freaking bucket of water poured over half my head?!

And my hair looked really good that night. I even put on eyeliner!

Lisa started laughing because she only got a tiny bit wet and didn’t realize how badly I’d gotten soaked.

“It’s not funny Lisa!” I screamed at her. I might have screamed some other things too. A lot of other things. In retrospect I do not think I handled the situation very well. I think I said the “F” word a few times. (Or maybe a lot of times.)

There was a group of guys behind us and one of them had a camera. “Hey,” Lisa said, “did you get that on film? Let me see your camera.”

“What?” the guy said.

“You’re camera. Let me see it. Was this some sort of caught on film thing?” Lisa took his camera and started to scroll through his photos looking to see if they were in on the prank.

Nope. The guys just happened to be there. They were actually really nice and one of them walked me into the wine bar we were passing and got me some napkins so I could clean up. I thanked him and went into the bathroom to confirm my suspicions – yep, I looked like a drowned rat. At least on one side.

I told my kids the story the next morning at breakfast (minus the profanity) and how upsetting it was because it was very disorienting and at first I didn’t quite know what happened. And also I had looked really nice that night and it ruined my hair and make-up.

“Well, that doesn’t matter Mom,” Marley said. “You were just going to a concert. No one was going to see you. You weren’t trying to impress anyone.”

No one was going to see me? I wasn’t trying to impress anyone?! Adam Ant was going to see me! My 12th grade MTV crush! (At least one of them.) It didn’t matter where I was standing in that club. Surely Adam would find me and lock eyes with me and declare me the hottest and most desirable middle age mom woman in the crowd. Jeez! Haven’t I taught my daughter anything?

Because Lisa is a good friend (and was driving) she bought me another margarita when we got to the club. “Make it strong,” she told the bartender. “She needs it.”

As we were standing there I had a realization. A flash of an old memory. (And let me tell you, my memory is shit these days.)

“You know what?” I said to Lisa. “I think maybe I have seen Adam Ant before. In 1995 maybe. I used to work with a band called the Murmurs and I think they opened for him at the Wiltern. I think it was him. It might have been Joe Jackson. I’m not sure.”

“Well, one of them has a piano and one of them wears a pirate costume,” she said. “That’s a pretty big difference.”

I laughed. “Yeah, I know. My memory sucks. I’ll ask my friend Mindy. She’ll know.”

(Uh… Mindy – could you leave that in the comments please?)

Adam came on. The sound at the Mayan was terrible. So terrible that if Adam were more of a diva (and I hear he’s quite a diva) he’d have screamed the F word a few times and stomped off stage. You know, like I did when I got water dumped on half my head. (Uh oh, maybe I’m the diva.)

But Adam performed like a pro. He was awesome. And okay, he’s 57 years-old and still wears a pirate costume (which has morphed into something a little Jack Sparrow-ish if you ask me) and is maybe a little let’s say… fluffier than he used to be, but who isn’t these days? (Who isn’t fluffier I mean, not who isn’t wearing a pirate costume. Although, plenty of people were…)

And the audience loved it. Loved him. Despite the bad sound and extra fluff. The house was filled with die-hard fans singing and dancing to all the hits.

And in case you are wondering – yes he did lock eyes with me. My hair had dried by then so it was okay. Even though he’s old now and probably needs glasses. But then, who doesn’t these days?