June 27, 2013

LEARNING STROKES


For those of you that have been following, you might recall that 2 summers ago, I made the worst parenting decision of my life. I signed up Jonah for a swim boot camp… A week -long intensive taught by a “I swear-by-him… he’s a miracle worker… it’s so worth the money” guy in Los Angeles. Known for his controversial, sort of,“get in the pool and swim, kid” methodology, I wasn’t 100% convinced that this was the right thing for Jonah. HOWEVER, everyone I knew flocked to him and I was guaranteed that by the end of the week, Jonah would be swimming.

And he did.

For the rest of the summer he swam. Not confidently, but enough to where I did think, (despite the fact that he cried for 1 hour straight/ 5 days in a row), that it was worth it and that least he was “water safe.”

Cut to last summer.

The very first moment that it was hot enough to swim and I so much as uttered the word “pool,” Jonah flipped out. He wanted nothing to do with water or swimming; Even though I promised him he did not need to take lessons, and I’d never force him to do something that he wasn’t comfortable or ready for (again. Gulp), Jonah cried, “Please mommy, don’t send me to (insert guy’s name that will make him need therapy)!!!”

So as you can well imagine, last summer was spent with me, P, and any/ all willing adults holding Jonah in the pool… reminding him (every 7 seconds) that we wouldn’t let him go, and that he was okay and that although he DID/DOES know how to swim, we will hold on to him as long as he needed….

Then… Welcome, Summer 2013.  At the first mention of school out, summer, and swim time, you probably can guess what he asked nervously. I assured him (again), I would never ever send him there for lessons, but that this summer, I think in some way, it would be great to try… to learn… to somehow swim… Maybe… Please?? With like, lots of new cool Lego sets and games on my iPad, and milkshakes on Thursdays, would you consider a little, kinda, sorta like a swim class at the golf club… Because, also, remember, all of your friends are swimming. Freely.

I hardly wanted to shame him…. But with the awareness that camp was starting and they would swim everyday, I felt like it was time to light a little fire again. Gently. And with a flame that won’t cause post-traumatic stress.

Guess what? I didn’t even need to get the match. (Wow, I’m cheesy). At camp, there’s a big pool and a little pool. In order to go into the big pool (with a deep end), the children must take a swim test. Though he was scared, he took the test (and proved he wasn’t ready for the big pool). Relieved, he went into the smaller pool. For two days, I think he doggy paddled and waded his way through it. BUT something else happened, the kids that COULD swim- his buddies- also opted for the pee infested, sunscreen-drenched, Pacific Ocean, dirty looking, small pool too. AND one day, (day 5, I think,) Jonah decided he could swim.

Of course, because he’s a boy (and I’m discovering certain inherent male traits really DO start young), he didn’t tell me about this victory that first week. (That first week, I really only heard about the fact that he touched a Piranha shark, NO a leopard shark! at the aquarium and that I need to stop sending cucumbers because HE. DOESN’T. LIKE. CUCUMBERS).

But I digress…

Cut to this past weekend. Swim time with the family. P and I suit up ready for the clutch/don’t worry fest. Before we could even get in the water though, Jonah was all the way in and said, “Watch what I can do.”

And he swam. ACROSS THE POOL. Head in the water. Feet kicking. SWAM.

He even threw in some arm strokes.

Our mouths dropped….

We screamed. We cheered. I even cried.

He just decided to do it, he said.

“I just… I taught myself.”

For the next two hours, I watched my fish of a boy ENJOYsomething that he hated and feared for almost half his life…. With each and every jump, kick, and plunge, I finally forgave myself for something that I thought could not be undone.

He just taught himself.

“Sweetheart,” I said, “I still have you signed up for lessons at the club. You obviously know how to swim, but I still think---“

“I know, Mommy. I’m very good OF swimming. But I need to get better with my arms. Like the, um, stokes. I mean, strokes. I’m not good OF that yet. She can just show me that.”

Yes, she can.

video

June 13, 2013

DIY ART USING BURLAP

Short of a lavender herb garden, my own chickens, and 400 plus staff members, I'm slowly fulfilling my dream to become Martha Stewart. Like really slowly.

So maybe I'm not quite up to par with said queen of it all, but these days my juices are flowing and my DIY doin' is at an all time high. New home = new projects. Lots and lots o' them. Over the next few weeks and months, I'll be sharing some highlights from these different projects and events

Here is a video that I recently shot for Lifetime Moms on how to create burlap monogrammed art. So easy and makes a great gift!


June 12, 2013

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY: DIY DRINKING

Some projects require a little extra help....



June 6, 2013

Wine-Tasting and Pizza-Pairing Party with CPK


This post is sponsored by Nestlé, which compensated me to partner with California Pizza Kitchen® frozen pizza and share news about the “Adventures in Entertaining” campaign this summer.


If you asked most of my girlfriends what would be their idea of the “perfect night,” I think most of them would say, (in this order): “Babysitter or Husband puts kids to sleep, get together with best girlfriends, drink wine and eat delicious food… and someone else does the cleaning.”

Well lucky for them, I got to facilitate that night… And pretty much in that order.  I decided that hosting a girls’ night of wine tasting and pairings with gourmet pizzas and other delectable dishes at my place would be a perfect way to kick off the Adventures in Entertaining campaign with California Pizza Kitchen (CPK). As you probably already know, I’ve teamed up with CPK ready-to-bake pizzas to celebrate and explore the many ways CPK can make your entertaining more delicious.

All guests had to do was come hungry and thirsty… I would do the cookin’ and a sommelier would do the pouring. Yes, a real sommelier who had more than my “yep, that tastes good” knowledge about wines and could actually walk us through an evening of tasting and pairings. My plan was to make the party as comfortable, smooth, and fun as possible. To me, what makes a great party is, of course, the company, food, and drink, but also the décor. Décor sets the tone – and you can set that tone from the very beginning with a great invitation. (Like the one I custom built on Paperless Post, inviting everyone to “my vineyard.”).


Once party day came, it was time to execute all the DIY, “let’s throw a party!” ideas I’ve been storing for months and months. I started the morning by laying out all of the trays and dishes I’d be using to serve food. By placing them on the table and identifying which platter would be used for which food, I knew exactly where each item would go when it was time to serve.



Since this was a wine/food-pairing event, I wanted my guests to know what we were eating and what they should drink with it. (“Would you like wine or… more wine?”) Using chalkboard contact paper, and a chalk marker, I created a wall menu.





Underneath the wall menu, I set the party favors in a vintage wooden box next to succulents. For the thank you gifts, I bought inexpensive wine screws and tied them with twine, a little tag and stamped “thank you” on it.


At the wine counter, our sweet sommelier Joey lined up the wines in order of our tasting next to the sea of sparkly glasses. 




So that my guests could keep track of their wine glasses throughout the evening, I made wine glass charms out of cork. Simply cut them in into ¼ inch pieces, screwed in small eye hooks, stamped guests’ initials on each size, and attached with twine.



With the other recycled wine corks that I purchased online, I placed them around a thick white candle in hurricane vases. 


Most of my serving pieces were white, with a few green pieces and green flowers for my arrangements. As one not to shy away from detail, wherever there was food or beverage set up, I made sure that the colors were carried out onto beverage napkins that I stamped with cute “Eat and drink” type designs. (Btw, stamping your own napkins is not only extremely easy, but it’s very budget friendly and again, just adds another layer of detail and décor).



But the piece (or shall I say, pieces) de resistance for the entire evening were the pizzas. For my main course, I served the CPK limited edition varieties  of Roasted Vegetables Pizza with Chardonnay Sauce and Grilled Chicken Pizza with Cabernet Sauce, which celebrate the delicious flavors of California vineyards.

As soon as I placed these freshly baked pizzas out on to my chalkboard painted platters, they were gone! I loved the lightness of chardonnay crème sauce topped with roasted red and yellow peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, red onions, garlic, basil, and mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. After a few bites, Joey handed me a tasting of the most delicious Chardonnay from Santa Barbara that really complimented the freshness of the vegetables.  


I loved learning about the different grapes and regions and why wines like the ones we were drinking were so perfect for the food we were eating (and eating, and eating, and eating…) We drank a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon (I definitely had a favorite!) but the ones that Joey chose to pair with the Grilled Chicken Pizza were off-the-charts amazing. This crispy thin pizza topped with a cabernet marina sauce, grilled white-meat chicken, spinach, roma tomatoes, rosemary, black pepper, and mozzarella, parmesan and gouda cheeses was served hot and bubbly and was delicious. 


To make it extra special (and girly), I had my dear friend and jewelry designer Christine McCrudden (pictured above) bring samples of her line Q Handmade for us all to shop. (I’m sorry, nothing really goes better with food than shopping. Actually, everything is better with shopping. And jewels). 


Of course, no meal is complete without something sweet. To make dessert easy (can’t interrupt the flow of shopping and gossiping), I served balsamic drizzled berries with a champagne wafer in individual bowls with mini spoons. 







The best part of the party was not only getting to host my friends to an evening of food and drink, BUT getting to enjoy said food and drink for the days that follow. If you think pizza makes a great leftover, you haven’t tasted some of this wine.

Cheers!

For more entertaining ideas and inspirations, check out my tips on CPK's Facebook and Pinterest pages!