Thursday, June 30, 2011

Zucchini and Chicken Kabobs

It's time to light up the barbeque. It's a three day weekend. And for some of you it's a four day weekend. {happy dance} Not for me. But I'm dancing anyway.

Here's an easy idea for dinner. 

Jazz up your barbeque with these yummy kabobs. I got the idea to ribbon wrap the zucchini from a Jamie Oliver recipe. All you have to do is slice the zucchini with a potato peeler. So easy and looks cool.

I wanted to try his recipe, but I didn't have any of the ingredients needed for the sauce and seasoning. I had the chicken and zucchini, and that was about it. So I made up my own. Well technically, this was a Don/Kris combo recipe.

I skewered the chicken and squash alternating each one, then seasoned everything with olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon and some Penzey's spices. Then Don walked in the kitchen. He took one look at the kabobs and went right to the fridge. He grabbed bbq sauce and before I knew it had them slathered in it.


Does this happen to anyone else?

Probably not.

Toss them on the grill over med-high heat for about 10 minutes total. Turn them once or twice. Don't over-grill them. There is nothing worse than dried-out chicken. Blech.

I basted mine with bbq sauce after I flipped them. Then one more time after I plated them. Make sure you have fresh sauce that has not touched raw chicken.

Serve over rice and voila, dinner is ready. The chicken was moist, and the zucchini cooked perfect. Yum, yum, yum.

This would be perfect for your 4th of July barbeque. Hint, hint.

Just add a little sliced watermelon for dessert.

Oh, and can I come over? I'll bring wine.

Here are five more ways to make zucchini. Compliments of The Kitchn. {recipes}

Monday, June 27, 2011


It was 1978. I was in 8th grade.

All of my classes were standard except for one. I signed up for a music class called "The History of Rock and Roll." It sounded more fun than the other electives. Plus there was a field trip to New York City to see a new show called Beatlemania. I had never been to "the city."  It sounded awesome.

I remember sitting on the bus next to my friend Donna Sclafani. I stared out the window the whole time. Her family was from Yonkers, so this was nothing new to her, or anyone else on the bus. But it was all new to me.

The road was windy, and surrounded by trees. We drove along the Hudson river passing tall gray office buildings, and really large brick apartment complexes with laundry hanging out the window. People were lounging everywhere on the sidewalk and sitting on apartment steps. Their brown faces stared at our yellow bus full of middle school kids.

I remember being in a packed theater, but I don't remember anything about the show. Nothing. Not one song.

I know I was there. I didn't daydream this. I bought a Beatlemania button as a souvenir. It happened.

How is it that I can remember a bouncy bus ride but not the show?

Why do we remember some things and not others. It seems like I would remember the show, not the bus ride, right?

Years later, I moved back to the same area as an adult and made that same trip into NYC. I could vividly recall that first time in the bus. Nothing outside had changed much. The city was still gray, the faces looking back were the same, and laundry was still hanging from windows.

I did that drive into the city dozens of times and never got tired of looking out the window, thinking about all the people I passed, imagining what their lives were like.

I'm a daydreamer. So I guess that's why I remember the drive, not the show.

I found this Beatlemania video from the Merv Griffin show in 1978 hoping it would jog my memory, but it didn't. Still nothing.

 Today's TRDC prompt was to recall a field trip from our youth. 600 words max.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Honey Almond Cake

Honey Almond Cake
Last Wednesday was our 20th wedding anniversary.

Twenty years of married life.

7,300 days together

175,400 hours of wedded bliss

So in honor of all that time together I made a cake. Because all milestones should be celebrated with cake, don't you think?

We were in the middle of a little heat wave last week so I chose to make a cake using a Williams Sonoma mix. The less time in our non-air conditioned kitchen the better. Plus I really like the Williams Sonoma cake mixes anyway. They are perfect if you want a home-made cake but are afraid of making one completely from scratch. Or just don't have the ingredients, or the time, or the desire to do that.

The flavor and texture of the cake is amazing. It doesn't have that fake sugary-taste most box mixes have. It's gooooooood. And no one will know it's not from scratch.

The urge to tell your secret is big. But stay strong and keep your mouth shut. Your friends will be impressed with your baking skills.

And don't skip the recommended glaze. It's especially delicious after you pour the warm honey glaze all over it. It soaks in and makes the cake so moist you don't even need frosting.

I think Sammy, the dog, would agree with this statement because I came downstairs to make coffee and found crumbs on the floor. I thought maybe Don had a late-night snack and dropped something then I realized the cake was gone. The entire tupperware container with half a cake in it was no longer on the counter.

I knew exactly where it would be.

Sam had dragged it to the dog cushion that sits behind Don's chair and feasted on six pieces of cake. He had the container tucked behind the chair and the cushion. It was licked clean.

No coffee and cake for me for breakfast.

wah wah.
Three. Done. Happy Anniversary.
Go ahead. Fourth of July is coming up. Let's celebrate with cake.

Oh, and remember, don't tell anyone it's from a box. It will be our little secret.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Holy cow. I'm a camper now.

Last weekend was the first time I camped after whining about it forever.

"Do you want to go camping?" Don asked when we were dating, knowing the answer might not be what he wanted.

"No. I don't camp. I like hotels. In fact I consider staying in a motel without a pool roughing it." I answered laughing, but serious.

And that was the end of that.

Over the years the joke has been "Kris doesn't camp."

I would laugh and nod in agreement then relay old camping stories from when I was in the girl scouts, youth group, and the sleep-away camp I attended in fourth grade. It was the trip that sealed the deal for me. There were swamps, spiders, mean boys and cabins that were musty, dusty and just plain yucky. It was nothing like the camp in "The Parent Trap." I never wanted to camp again after that week.

So I didn't.

And we didn't as a couple.

It got to be a little embarrassing after a while. I felt like everyone thought I was a prissy, selfish, high-maintenance, brat. But I liked sleeping in a bug-free, dust-free, room with a private bathroom, and a balcony with a view of something other than my car. A tent just didn't sound appealing at all.

The funny thing is, when I originally said I wouldn't go camping because I liked good hotels I hadn't even stayed in a nice hotel. I thought I had. But I hadn't. And then I did. And oh boy, the idea to camp was now really unappealing.

I like rooms that smell like lavender. Beds with crisp white sheets so soft you never want to get up. Showers so big it's like bathing in the rainforest. Private decks with your own fireplace. Nice soaps and shampoos. Slippers. Robes. Room service. Spas. Pool boys so hot you want to take them home in your luggage. And a concierge to tell you the best place to hike and enjoy nature. Because people in fancy hotels enjoy the outdoors and staring at the stars just like everyone else.

But things are different in my life right now. And camping is calling my name, from my friends and family. I'm going to miss out on some fun if I don't get over my snobby self.

Plus, I don't exactly have any hotel reservations booked. And haven't in a while. I'm living in the past.

So last weekend we went on a camping trip with 43 families from FCC (Families with Children from China) in nearby Olema.

There were fifty-plus, happy, smiling, girls playing, bike riding, eating, laughing and singing together. Big girls braided little girls hair. And little girls taught each other how to make flower trains. It was pure joy. Pure fun. And pure exhaustion for me and Don.

I feel like I passed "the test" though. This prissy girl slept in a tent, showered in the community bathroom, brushed her teeth with strangers, walked to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and learned how to crawl and roll off a squishy air mattress.

The highlight was definitely spending time together as a family away from the tv, computer and phone, and making new friends.

Elli had the time of her life. She left with phone numbers scribbled on wrappers and promises of playdates this summer.

It was a trip she'll never forget, one of those great memories she'll talk about when she's my age.

She is already counting the days until next summer. And I'm day-dreaming about how to make a tent sound proof.

Home sweet home.
Making flower necklaces.
Sammy is ready for bed.

Today's TRDC prompt for the remembeRED post was a fill-in-the-blank-for-your-own-prompt Prompt: 
"The first time I ________-ed after _________-ing." 
600 words max.

Turkey Burgers with a KICK

The last time I checked it was ok to eat a turkey burger. Has anything changed? I honestly can't keep up with what's good and what's bad in the world of food. It seems like something new is added to the "bad" list every day.

They flood us with foods that cause cancer, make us fat, clog our guts, corrode our arteries, and give us hives. It's all too much for me to keep up with. So I've stopped listening.

Certain people on Facebook are so full of gloom and doom I can't even look at their posts anymore. I don't want to know if my wine is going to cause my hair to curl. I don't care. I'll live with curly hair.

So here's a fantastic, and really easy, turkey burger recipe that the whole family will love. And the kick? Diced jalapenos. Oh, yeah. Now we're talking.

Okay, okay, you might not want to put the diced jalapeno's on the kids burgers, or grandmas. But then again, maybe you do.

You'll never grill a *naked* turkey burger ever again. Ever. 

Turkey Burgers 
adapted from Everyday Food

1 package of ground turkey (Jenny-O ground turkey is a 1.25lb package)
1/2 cup diced or shredded cheese (gruyere, or med. cheddar)
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
Hamburger buns

Heat the grill to high.

1. In a medium bowl combine the turkey with the cheese, scallions, breadcrumbs, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper.
2. Divide the mixture evenly into patties. I made 6 patties.
3. Lightly oil the grill. Turn down to med-high. Place the patties on the grill 4 minutes on each side. Let rest a minute before serving.
4. Toast the buns and serve with accompaniments.


I made these last week and froze the raw patties so we could take them on last weekend's camp out. The prepared burgers would be perfect for Friday night - all seasoned, formed and  ready to go. All Don would have to do is fire up his fancy new Coleman camper grill while I chilled with a glass of vino. I love plans like that.

Add the diced jalapeno's after you flip them. They add a nice KICK!
Accompaniments: cheese slices, tomato slices, onion slices, avocado, lettuce, pickle slices, ketchup, mustard, mayo and little itty bitty diced jalapeno for a little KICK!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer chicken salad

Thank you to Yahoo! Mail for sponsoring this post about staying connected. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.


That's the best thing about email.

Sharing pictures of first born children
and new puppies,
new houses,
good news,
bad news,
new jobs,
lost jobs,
lost jackets,
wine tips,
shoe sales,
party invites,
thank you notes,
dinner invitations,
and recipes.

Like this one for chicken salad. I know my mom and sister will love this recipe. So I can just drop it in an email and {poof} it's all theirs.


No time zones to worry about. No postage necessary. Just a few clicks, a little typing and it's done.

Summer Chicken Salad

Summer Chicken Salad 
adapted from Whole Foods recipe 

1 cup low-fat mayo
4 t. cider vinegar (4 capfuls)
5 t. honey (5 slow swirls around the bowl)
2 t. poppy seeds
freshly ground pepper and salt.

1 roast chicken from the store (let them do the work!)
3/4 cup pecan pieces toasted
2 cups red grapes sliced
1 stalk celery finely diced

1. Remove meat and skin from roast chicken. Dice meat into bite sized pieces. Put in a large mixing bowl. (You can just use the chicken breasts if you don't like dark meat. I like to use the whole chicken. You may need more dressing if it's a big chicken.)
2. Mix dressing in a small bowl. Combine mayo, vinegar, honey and poppy seeds. Set aside.
3. Add dressing to chicken and combine.
4. Add pecans, grapes and celery. Taste. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Refrigerate in a sealed container up to three days.
6. Serve on yummy fresh bread, as a salad on lettuce, or eat it right out of the container.

That's what I like to do.

And don't forget to share it!

You could decide you want to share it the old fashioned way, as shown here. You gotta give these ladies credit for creativity. They could have sat down and looked at the pics over a cup of tea. But that would have meant someone had to walk down and up stairs.

Too bad they didn't have email.

Blogs and websites are so savvy you can just click the little M button or Envelope button you see below and email this to anyone you want. It's like magic.

Monday, June 13, 2011


We bonded on the playground outside of the pre-K classroom.

We were both new to the area with kids in the same class.

She was from Jordan, but was raised on an island called Cyprus, near Turkey. Her father was a successful businessman. They led a privileged life with servants and private schools. She dated princes, and had three beautiful sisters whom she was still really close to.

She went to grad school in Colorado, fell in love, and got married to a guy from Alaska. He was a few years younger than her, really smart, and gorgeous. They were a very exotic, and sexy, couple. I found her stories fascinating.

Don thought she was a spoiled, self-centered diva, and wondered why we were friends.

I was just an ordinary gal from the Midwest, a little on the prissy side. Nothing like her.

I was raised by a hard working dad and stay-at-home mom. We didn't have a servant. In fact we often whined that we were the servants.

Our different backgrounds didn't stop us from becoming friends.

We started hanging out during the week with the kids, then meeting for dinner with the hubbies on the weekend. We both owned small businesses and had a mutual love of good food and wine.

Pretty soon we were getting together almost every weekend to talk shop and drink wine.

She was an amazing cook. Her passion for life was on display when she was in the kitchen.

"This is Rawan's special sauce she would say, it's full of yum-yums." and we all believed her, even the kids.

"Americans don't use enough spice. I always double what they recommend. That's why it tastes better." she would brag.

She loved discussing relationships, philosophy, and private stuff.  My friends would lay their head on Rawan's shoulder as we all talked about life.

Their closeness was strange to me. I wasn't used to such affection with girlfriends.

"What's wrong? You're not hugging me back. Does this make you uncomfortable?" she asked once.

Well, uh, yeah it does. And confronting me about it makes me even more uncomfortable.

I lied.

"Of course not, I love hugs. Who doesn't love hugs?" I replied, defensively.

"Then why do you stand like this?" she asked standing stiff as a board with her hands by her side, and her eyes wide open.

Uh, now I'm really uncomfortable.

"Are you afraid of affection?" she asked. "From a woman-friend?"

I am now. Holy schnikes. Can I leave? I would like to leave, please.

"No. I'm just not a big hugger, that's all." I answered back wishing Don was there to save me.

"Ok. Well I'm a hugger. Hope you don't mind." she replied cheerfully, hugging me again.

And that's how it was with her.

I think she enjoyed trying to convert me to be a hugger.

She ended up moving back to Jordan with her daughter after the girls finished 1st grade. She wanted to be closer to her family.

Her husband stayed in the U.S. running their company. I didn't have a good feeling about how this was going to end.

I told her she would never come back once she went home. This upset her and she stopped speaking to me. But I knew her. Her life in California would be a distant memory once she got home.

She called a year ago and said she was getting divorced. I wasn't surprised. 

I was sad for her husband and daughter.

I'm sure she's hugging someone else now.

And I'm still a tentative hugger.

Today's TRDC post is about Affection.

Some of us show it easily, hugging relatives each time we meet.  Wrapping our arms around friends. Some of us are more reserved, rarely touching other people. And then a few of us hang out somewhere in the middle.  Hugging our children, but limiting our affection to handshakes with others.

This week we would like you to write about how the show of affection has played a part in your memory.

Choose a time when either the abundance or lack of affection (either by you or someone else) stands out, and show us.  Bring us to that time.  Help us feel what you felt. 600 words max.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Our first day of summer vacation

The day started like any other day. Except Elli wasn't in school anymore. She would be going with us to the store in Napa where she would play, do crafts with scraps of fabric, foam and empty boxes, and just hang out.

Don had to make some deliveries in San Francisco so he rented a Budget cargo van. We have a big truck but it's hard to maneuver in the city so Don thought this would be a better idea.

Elli thought the van was pretty cool so she asked if she could tag along with him for the day. I was a little worried because she would have to sit in the front seat, and even though she's nine, she's kind of small. But I gave in because she was so excited to go with him.

They returned to the store around 1:30. Their day had gone without a hitch. Our customer in Larkspur loved their dining chairs, the drapes were installed successfully in San Francisco (they even saw a SF Giants player in the lobby of the building) and the couch frame they picked up was perfect.

Elli hung at the store with Gary and the crew while I followed Don to the Budget rental place to return the van.

The Budget office was crowded. I could see at least five people in the office. Great. This was going to take a while. I told Gary we would only be gone five minutes. And I forgot my phone at the store. No surfing the net for me.

I watched the manager of the Budget office walk out to the parking lot. I thought he was checking mileage on a vehicle or something. But he walked over to a police car that had just pulled in the lot. They chatted briefly and the cop followed him to the office. Then another police car pulled up.

I got a little nervous. I was parked right in front of the door. What if something bad happened? I'm right in the line of fire.

And then Don walked outside, followed by the policeman. They stood right by my car so I could hear the whole conversation.

"Sir, what were you doing here today?" the policeman asked, as a second policeman walked up. His back-up had arrived.

"I rented a van for our business." Don replied.

"What is your business?" the cop asked.

"We own an upholstery business here in Napa. We had some deliveries in San Francisco today." he said.

"Were you at the Arco station with a little girl?" he asked.

Yes. That's my daughter. We had to get gas for the van." Don said nervously.

Our immediate thought was crap, we're in trouble for letting her ride in the front seat. This was her first day of summer vacation and we're in trouble already.

"Where is your daughter now?" they asked.

"She's at our store with Gary." he said.

And then they told us that a woman at the Arco station called 911 because she saw a little asian girl in a van mouthing the words "HELP ME" and the man driving the van was walking around nervously. She thought the girl had been abducted.

HOLY SHIT! Are you kidding me?

We were stunned.

We explained that she was our daughter. And Don wasn't walking nervously. He went running yesterday and hurt his hip. He can barely walk. He's limping because he's sore.

They could see we were decent people and immediately knew this was a misunderstanding. But they still had to check.

They held us at the Budget place until they had another cop go over to our store to confirm that Elli was ok.

We chatted with them while we were waiting for the call. They told us they had already called the Mill Valley police department where we live to get scoop on Don. They didn't have any information because we've never done anything wrong. So they were really worried how they would find the man in the Budget van with the little girl. They took this possible abduction very seriously.

We then told them Elli is adopted from China, which is why she doesn't look like Don. I joked that she was probably begging him for candy or chips from the food mart at Arco and he was ignoring her.

We finally got the call from the other policeman. Everything was ok, of course, and we were allowed to leave. We couldn't wait to hear what Elli had to say.

On the drive back Don told me there was a really odd woman at the gas station that kept staring at Elli. She made her nervous. Don saw the woman and said she looked like she was stoned. We're assuming she is the one that made the call.

We pulled up to the store and Elli came running outside to greet us.

"MOM!!!! A policeman was here. He asked me my name, my address, and who my parents are!" she shouted, full of excitement.

Of course we already knew this.

Elli was playing in the showroom when the cop arrived. He walked in the store and asked if she was Ella. She said "I'm Elli." He then asked if there was an adult there. He didn't see anyone because Gary was in our workroom out of site.

"Gary, there's a police officer here!" she shouted.

"Are they here to arrest me?" Gary shouted back laughing.

He thought the guy was there to look at fabric for a project. Because why would a cop be in the store confirming that Elli is our kid and that she had not been abducted!?

I asked Elli what she was doing in the truck. Why did the woman think she said "help me?"

"I was singing the turd song!" she said laughing. "It goes like this 'Oh you're such a turd, oh yeah you're such a turd, you smell like a turd.....' It was really fun because my voice echo'd in the van. So I sang the whole song and thanked my audience for being so fantastic. Thank you, Thank you very much. See you in Vegas."

That's nice.

We told her and Gary the whole story. She said the woman at the gas station creeped her out. "Mom, she followed me with her eyes the whole time. She was creepy."

And that's how we spent our Friday afternoon.

Elli has a moral for this story: Never sing The Turd song in a Budget van at an Arco station.

Don and I were very impressed with the Napa police department. We hope this was our first, and last, encounter with them.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Marching up hill

Our backpacks were heavy, packed with food, linens, and clothes. Everyone had to carry something, even the kids. This always led to some whining, and sometimes tears.

We would get them singing or chanting as we walked up to The West Point Inn to keep their minds off the fact their packs were heavy .

"Left. Left. Left, right, left. I left-my-wife-and-42-kids-on-the-verge-of-starvation-with-nothing-but-gingerbread-left. Left. Left, right, left." we repeated together.

"Mom, why would the dude leave his wife without any food?" Elli asked.

"Elli it's just a chant to march to. It's not true." I replied, and kept chanting.

"Left. Left. Left right left....."

"Do you think it's responsible to have 42 kids? I think it's really irresponsible." Elli stated with some authority.

"Well, yes, it does seem like a lot of kids. But it's just a chant. It's not real, don't worry about it." I said, feeling tired and sweaty.

"And why gingerbread? Don't you think he should have left something healthier? she asked.

"Elli. Just chant." I replied, walking along beside her, the rocks crunching under our feet to the beat.

"But why did he leave?" she asked again."Is that what they did in the old fashioned days?"

"I don't know Elli. Maybe he went to get food. If you don't like it then sing something else. Or make up your own chant." I whine back, immediately regretting my tone. She's only eight.

"Mom.....?" she started in again.

"Let's play the quiet game!" I suggest, shifting the pack on my back and wondering to myself how many bottles of wine Don brought.

It's only a mile walk. It's so beautiful looking at San Francisco off in the distance. I really don't want to argue about a stupid chant.

Her head sank. I could see her pink lips pouting, and her sad brown eyes drooping. Her pace got slower. She was now dragging her walking stick behind her, leaving a snail-like trail in the dirt.

Great. Now she's mad at me. My pack suddenly felt heavier.

"Want to sing Miss Mary Mack?" I ask.

"No." she pouted back.

"What about Alice?"


"What about the peanut butter and jelly song you learned at Circus Camp?"

"No. "

"I'm hot." she started whining.

I knew the big tears would be next.

"Ok, Elli. You're right. He should have left them with lots of food. Grain to make bread. Fruits and vegetables. Meats. And he probably should not have had 42 kids. That does seem irresponsible." I said defeated by the greatest 8 year old litigator on this path.

"Yeah........since all he could afford was gingerbread." she whispered, barely moving her lips.

"Can we take a water break?" she asked.

"Yes. But let's make it quick. Everyone is going to feel so much better when we get to the top. I can see the Inn. We're almost there!" I say whining again, enthusiastically.

She took the longest, slowest, sip of water possible. Just to irk me.

And then we hit the last curve on the path.

"Mom!!! We're here. Hurry!!! Let's play horseshoes." she cried out running ahead. The weight on her back lifted as she dropped her backpack in the middle of the path. "Look at the view today. It's so beautiful."

"Elli, pick up your backpack....." I started to plead, and then just picked it up myself.

She came running over to greet us as we reached the top. "Mommy. I love you. This was the best hike ever." and off she ran to look for rocks.

Don and I just smiled and sighed, and then we started laughing.

Today's prompt was to write a scene that includes a happy ending - it doesn't have to be the actual END of your story, if you're working on continuations, but it should include at least one challenge for your hero to overcome. 600 words max. 

And now for some pictures. I couldn't resist sharing the amazing view from the West Point Inn. Click the link to reserve your room at the Inn.

View from Mt. Tamalpais.
Our destination - The West Point Inn.  (Don, Elli and Kris)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Go Cube Dog, Go!

Big Dog.
Little Dog.
Hot Dog.
Cube Dog.

What? I promise I haven't lost it. It's the first thing that popped in my head when I sat down to write this review of the new app for the iphone and ipad called Cube Dog.

I don't know about you, but I have at least 3 folders full of games on my iphone. And none of them are for me. They are Elli's games.

They give her a little something to do when we're riding in the car. Or if we land somewhere with a little time to kill and she doesn't have a friend. It would be pure torture to have to converse with me or her dad.....

So when I told her we were going to get to review a new game app she did a little happy dance.

We created my little pup together and named her Peanut.

The dogs have square heads, and lots of design options. Mine has big googly eyes. Our favorite part is the camera feature.

They act just like real dogs, or kids, or a weird combination of the two. They fall asleep if you ignore them, get mad if you tap them on the head, and laugh if you tickle them. They will even call you on their cell phone if you keep ignoring them. They also have a bit of an evil streak and turn into little monsters, too. There are all kinds of things you can buy for them to make the game more fun. Just like real kids.

And the best part? No poop.

So if you have a little time to kill and want to download a FREE app it's a fun one to try. There is a nominal fee to buy accessories - which are optional. Ask your kid to unload the dishwasher as payment for some accessories for .99 cents. It will make it more fun.


You can join the Cube Dog pack on Facebook. They have a cool contest happening next week 6/13 - 6/17 at

Go cube dog, go! Stay tuned for more Cube Dog Fun. Elli is hoping the app gets enhanced with more games and fun. She's promised to keep me up to date.

While Cube Dog provided me with the app to review, the opinions I've expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint. Cube Dog, Clever Girls Collective and I promote Blog With Integrity.

Required Hardware:
- iPhone 3GS
- iPhone 4
- iPod Touch 3rd generation
- iPod Touch 4th generation
AND, they all require iOS 4.0 or higher

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Skiing at the lake

The lake water was cold and dark. The bottom was slimy. I could see shiny green algae all over the side of the raft in the water. The smell of gasoline was floating through the air.

This was my fifth or sixth summer to try to get up on skis. I'd been trying every summer for as long as I could remember.

This year would be different. I was another year older. I was stronger. I was going to do it this year.

The life jacket was tight and resting under my chin. I kept pulling it down but it kept floating back up.

I was holding on to the rope trying to relax.

I finally heard the charge of the engine. This was it. I adjusted the life jacket one last time.

They gave me the thumbs up. So I gave them the thumbs up. And in one split second the boat lunged forward. It happened so fast. I wasn't ready. I only had one hand on the rope. The force yanked me out of the water leaning forward. I tried to straighten up but I couldn't hold on. I let go and fell flat on my face in the middle of the lake.

I did it again. I fell. And I sucked down half of the slimy green lake, too.

I floated in the water, skis bouncing around in the ripples, trying to keep my balance until the boat returned.

"Grab the rope, let's try again!" they all shouted.

"OK!" I said, half smiling. I just needed to get up so I could say I did it.

Please, please, please help me get up. Please........

"Keep your legs straight!" my uncle Bob shouted.

"Don't stick out your butt!!!" the kids yelled laughing.

I grabbed the rope and tried to get it lined up between my skis. Everybody was watching. My body was starting to shake from the cold and my skis were crossing. I had both hands on the rope. I was ready. My uncle gave me a shout and a thumbs up.

"OK!" I said, and quickly signaled with a thumbs up.

The boat jolted forward, the rope popped out of the water as it tightened, and then ripped right out of my hands with me smacking the water face first behind it - again. I didn't even go two feet.

This is how it went every summer until we moved away when I was in 8th grade.

It wasn't until I was in college that I finally gave it a try again. I got up on the first try. I was so excited and shocked I froze and skied in the wake of the boat all the way around the lake until I was brave enough to slide to the side in smoother water.

My friends didn't understand why I was so excited.

They had no idea.

TRDC Prompt: This week, as the school year is wrapping up and we're on the cusp of summer, we've decided to go easy on you.

We want to know what, from your childhood, do you still know by heart?

Is it a story? A jump-roping song? The number of rungs on the ladder to your treehouse? How much money you had to save to buy something you really wanted?

500 word limit this week.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ugh. It's Monday

Dance weekend is over. We had a super busy, and really fun weekend here. The Roco show was great and interesting as usual. But now I'm pooped!!!

Our out-of-town guests are leaving today. In other words, my parents are heading home to Phoenix. So tomorrow we'll be back to normal, for a few days anyway.

We didn't really get any wine tasting in. But we did stop at Jacuzzi Winery on Friday afternoon to buy some of their olive Tapenade. I can't wait to open those and give you a little review.

School gets out at noon on Thursday, then it's Summer vacation until Labor day.

Oh boy!

I'll be back with a regular post tomorrow.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Camping wine

We have a few camping trips planned for this summer.

This is a new thing for me. I'm not really a camper. I don't like being dirty. I like showers and hair dryers. So camping has about as much appeal as cleaning the bathtub.

But Don and Elli really want to camp. They got the bug last summer when they went for a weekend camp out with some friends. Elli loved playing in the dirt, swimming in the river, sleeping in a tent and cooking by the campfire. So how could I deny her this fun?

I don't want to be "that" mommy. The one that is no fun and all prissy.

The thing is everyone knows I don't really like to camp so now I'm kind of a joke. They talk to me like I'm completely clueless about living outside. I'm not clueless. I know exactly what it's all about, which is exactly the reason I don't want to do it.

It's kind of like bungee jumping. I see the rush people get when they jump and how their body bounces around like a rag doll. I see how psyched they are about it. And I have absolutely no desire to EVER jump off a bridge connected to a giant rubber band. The only way I would ever do it is if you knocked me out, tied my feet to the band, and pushed me.

Don't even think about doing that.

My idea of fun is completely different. I would rather hang with a group of friends at a winery drinking wine, eating cheese and fresh bread while swapping stories, laughing and hanging out - that is my idea of fun.

So knowing that, Don and I are doing a little experimenting with some box wines we've recently found to see if any of them are decent. The container is perfect for camping - non-breakable boxes with a tap. They won't get sand and dirt in them once opened. And there is no spilled wine if they are knocked over.

Bon Ventos Red Wine from Portugal is our favorite so far.
We bought our first box at The Spanish Table. It was called Bon Ventos from Portugal and was just $19.99 (equivalent of two bottles of wine.) The wine was good! And I must say we were kind of digging the tap. It was a little too convenient on the shelf at home. This one was definitely a winner.

Then we read about a new wine in a box produced by Clif Bar company called The Climber We went to BevMo! and Trader Joe's to see if they had it. No luck. But BevMo! did have quite a few others, so we picked up Bota Box Cabernet and Bota Box Pinot Grigio. We tapped the Cab the other day. It's not as good as the wine from Spanish Table. It wasn't as full-bodied as we like, but not bad for $16.99 (equivalent of four bottles.)
I looked the wine up on and saw that Wilfred gave it 87 points. This wasn't on the sign at the store. That definitely would have influenced our decision. Oh well. The Pinot Grigio won a Bronze at the 2010 SF Int'l Wine Comp. So I have higher hopes for that one.

BevMo! has a few others we can try before we go on our big expedition. Kidding. Not about trying the wine. About calling our camping trip an expedition. Although this is bear country. It could turn into a game of survival. Waaaah, it better not.

Don's digging this whole thing. Any excuse to buy something and he's game. He's in full "getting-all-the-camping-gear-on-the-planet" mode. We now have a tent, grill, burners, lights, cookware, tubs, sleeping bags, air mattress.......*sigh*..........

I'm wondering if we actually could have gone to the Ritz.

Never mind. I promised myself there would be no whining. Just wine-ing. hee hee

$16.99 at BevMo!
We tapped the Pinot Grigio. It's a decent wine. A little sweet, light and good for summer pool parties and picnics.

I also picked up the Bota Box 2009 Malbec. Wilfred gave it 90pts. I like it, too. It's medium bodied, has nice hints of blackberry and cherry and a little zing on the finish. It would be great to pair with chicken or beef. I think this may be my favorite of the three. The price is the same $16.99 for a 3-liter box.

7/3/11 - Look here. The SF Chronicle did a little article comparing box wines, too. So here you go. More juice to ponder drinking. Ciao. {article}