Sunday, November 25, 2012

Just Dance 4

Thank you to Ubisoft for sponsoring this post. Please click here to learn more about Ubisoft. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of  Clever Girls Collective. #UbiChamps

Impromptu dance party with Elli and her friends.

Today's post is by elli mulkey, age 11

Just Dance 4 is a fun, active, video game for the wii and play station. The game is for all ages. It's fun for party's, sleepovers, and just hanging out with friends. I really enjoyed playing it with my friends. You don't need to know how to dance, you just follow the people on the screen.

It is also a friendly competition. You try to follow the moves as best as you can to earn points. Who ever has the most points at the end of the game wins.

You can even make your own character and collect prizes for moving up levels. The prizes are new songs.

I LOVE dancing. So it's the perfect game for me. I've only played it a few times and I'm already on level 6. It is easy to work, and definitely a fun family game!

My recommendation is to buy it, then try it!  You can buy it here: Amazon or ToysRUs. It is available for the Wii, Xbox 360 Kinect, and PlayStation 3.

I gave it a try too. And, wow, what a workout. I think I found my new exercise program with the just sweat dance option.  Woo hoo!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Miami Vice Cocktail

We just went from here....enjoying the pool, beach and beautiful views in Cabo San Lucas and delicious frozen cocktails like the Miami Vice. (Half Piña Colada half Strawberry Daiquiri and one hundred percent yum.)

To home......where we're getting ready for the first day of school. Which is of course exciting. But it means summer is over and we're back to our school routine - less freedom and fun. We'll need some date nights on the patio with home-made versions of the Miami Vice cocktail!!

Elli was a nervous chatter box in anticipation of her first day of middle school, which is today.

She lay in bed quizzing me on multiplication tables.

"Is eleven times eleven one hundred and twenty one?" she shouted from her room.


"Is eleven times twelve one hundred and thirty two?


Did I cheat by looking up the answer on my iphone. Maybe.

"Yay! I'm doing math problems in my head!" she said.

"Mom, what's two divided by three?"


"oh, okay."

"Good night, Elli." please stop quizzing me!! I'm starting to sweat.

What am I going to do when she starts quizzing me on algebra?


Bacardi 151 Rum
Master of Mixes Pina Colada Mix
Finest Call Strawberry Puree

Mixing the Drink:
Start with the piña colada. Put 1½ scoops of crushed ice in the blender. Add 2½ ounces of the 151 rum and 8 ounces of the piña colada mix. Blend for 30 seconds. Pour the blended liquid into a mixing glass or a large cup.

Next prepare the strawberry Daiquiri. Follow steps 1-4 again, replacing the piña colada with your strawberry daiquiri mix instead.

Pour the piña colada mix in the glass, followed by the strawberry daiquiri mix. Pour it very carefully and be sure that the red strawberry mix will not combine with the white piña colada mix, so you can form a horizontal design.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Citizen Chef Meals: Easy and Tasty Thai Dish

Thai Sesame Stir Fry

I was sitting at my desk the other day thinking about what to cook for dinner when I got an email from a new food company here in Northern California called Citizen Chef.  It was like a little food angel reaching out to me.

The email went something like this:

Dear Kris,

According to a survey 93% of people say sharing a meal is the most important activity in connecting them with their family. So where do busy moms and dads find the time to stir up a quick, and healthy meal for family dinner?

Meet Citizen Chef, a recently launched San Francisco-based food startup focused on providing a solution for busy parents – by bringing healthy ingredients to families who are time strapped, on-the-go and want to share a home-cooked meal. Each meal “kit” includes fresh veggies and flavors that prepare a complete chef-inspired dinner in under 15 minutes.  

Any interest in testing out a meal?

uh, heck yes!!!

I printed the coupon and drove straight to Whole Foods.

My first thought was "hmmm this doesn't look like very much food.

The mister is a BIG eater." Then I read that you had to purchase the meat. It wasn't included in the kit. So much for a "FREE" meal. Nothing is ever free. What was I thinking?

I picked the Thai version and decided to prepare it with chicken, so I headed to the butcher to buy 2 chicken breasts.

The box says it's ready in 15 minutes. I'm happy to report that to be true!

The meal was fresh, tasty and just the right amount of food for three people - even for my big eater.

Now for the one negative: the price

The kit is $9.99 + meat

I'm not sure I would spend $9.99 for the kit. We shop at Trader Joe's all the time where we purchase great veggies, sauces and rice for less than $9.99, and it's enough for more than one meal.

On the positive side - it really doesn't get much easier or faster than this. So I'll definitely keep it in mind for those occasions when we're in a pinch - like back to school night.

And guess what? That's exactly what it's intended for.

So good job Citizen Chef. You did exactly what you set out to do.

As Jacques would say, "happy cooking!"

ps. Right now the meals are only available in Nor Cal Whole Foods. You can click on their website to see store list.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cocktails at Aziza Restaurant in SF

We had the most amazing drinks and dinner with friends last night. We ventured into San Francisco and tried a Moroccan restaurant called Aziza. It's not like any Morrocan restaurant I've ever been to. No sitting on cushions on the floor. No eating with your hands. Chef Mourad Lahlou has taken traditional Moroccan dishes and reinvented them in ways that harmonize with the fresh, local, artisanal ingredients of Northern California. It was really impressive.

I'm not sure they were quite ready for three couples out on the town on a Wednesday night because all their kids were away at camp.

We started at the bar. We almost didn't make it to our table we were having so much fun.

The mixologists (bartenders) along with the owner have created a menu of cocktails using fresh ingredients, muddled herbs, vegetables and fruits, spices and of course the latest and greatest spirits. It was hard picking which drink to order.

We were all in awe of their skills behind the bar, and the flavors of these cocktails. We wanted to try them all.

Spices ready to go.

Vodka, cilantro, kaffir-lime

Sangria, lambrusco, citrus, blueberries

Vodka, dill, saffron, black pepper

Vodka, strawberry, fresno chili

Grapefruit, absinthe, bourbon

almond, hickory smoked salt air, anejo tequila

Have you tried any interesting cocktails lately? Do tell!

Oh, we did have dinner, too. It was amazing. But I didn't grab any pics. The most interesting and unique dish we had was the white gazpacho. And none of us could get enough of the home-made flatbread with the three spreads: chickpea, yogurt-dill, piquillo-almond. So flavorful and yummy. I really wanted a whole plate to myself.

And dessert? TO DIE FOR. They have an amazing pastry chef.

Aziza Restaurant and Bar
5800 Geary Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94121

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Blackberry Pomegranate Martini Cocktail

I tried my hand at mixology today!

I bought a mixer from BevMo! called MIXT Pomegranate Martini mix. The idea with this mixer is you just add vodka and you have an instant cocktail. The flavor is pretty good, but it was a little flat all by itself. So I did a little of my own mixology and came up with this tasty treat!! It's a good thing I'm addicted to cooking shows because I never would have thought of adding basil. Enjoy!

Blackberry Pomegranate Cocktail

1 oz cold Vodka
2 oz MIXT Pomegranate martini mix
3/4 oz Blackberry syrup
1 large basil leaf
1 small lemon wedge
1 lemon twist for garnish

In a shaker  with ice add vodka, MIXT, syrup, basil, lemon wedge. SHAKE 15-20 times. Pour in martini glass. Garnish with lemon twist.

Blackberry Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1.5 cups blackberries (frozen or fresh)

In a small saucepan add water and sugar. Bring to a boil, dissolve sugar. Take off heat. Add blackberries. Let sit for 15 minutes. Blend with an immersion blender or blender. Strain. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. It's great in cocktails, on pancakes or crepes, and in soda water for the kids.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Locks of Love Hair donation

Remember a few years ago when Elli donated her hair to Locks of Love?

She did it again.

This time she donated 14" of hair!

Our friend Lisa is going through Chemo right now. She's shared with us on Facebook how awful it is to lose her hair, and her nails, and to feel like you're sucking on a tailpipe when getting the chemo treatment.

We can't imagine.

The worst we have it here in the Mulkey household is being exposed to nasty dog farts.

We are so lucky.

My achy back and creeky knees are nuthin'.


I'm not being poisoned to eradicate an invader in my body.

{thank God}

Elli gets this.

She wanted to make sure her hair was donated in Lisa's honor.

So that's what we did.

The hair is used to make wigs for cancer patients.

I know I've said this before, but when I grow up I want to be just like Elli.

She's 10.

I'm not.

She's amazing.

I'm not saying that I'm not amazing, and gracious, and generous. But she's different.

I would have done the same thing because I felt guilty.

She doesn't do it because she feels guilty. She does it because she can and it doesn't really affect her world at all. It's just hair. Who cares. It grows back. She'll do it again, and again, again. Because she can, and others need it.

She doesn't have any weird security issues with her hair like us dorky grown-ups. She's also really young and innocent and doesn't really really understand all the bad things that happen in the world.

Or maybe she's just way more awesome than the rest of us.

I don't know. 

All I know is that I wish I could capture it and spread it everywhere.

Because it's awesome. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Is anyone there?



Anyone here?


I know, I know. I've been M.I.A.

I used to be obsessed with writing this blog. Then I got my new social media job with BevMo! I'm so busy tweeting and Facebooking and creating websites, I barely have time to breathe, let alone write something on the blog.

I've gone days without even thinking about it.

Sometimes a week will pass. {gasp!}

It's crazy.

I used to obsess over my stats, comments, etc. Not anymore.

I thought I was busy before. I had no idea what busy was.

Seriously. No idea.

My family is taking it well. I'm on the computer ALL THE TIME.

The house is not clean.

The meals are not good.

The family is hanging in there.

Elli ate noodles for lunch everyday last week. Of course she loves noodles. But sheesh. Good thing she's the happiest, most awesome kid on the planet.

The good news?

I love my new job. I'm doing all kinds of fun stuff with pr, social media, grand openings and events - it's the perfect job. It's a culmination of all the things I've done in my career. And all stuff I love to do. But it's a lot for one person to manage. So I'm a tad crazy sometimes! (aka cranky)

One of the downsides is driving to Concord every day. It's about a 50 minute drive. The best part is I have a new carpool buddy two days a week. Marian and I started the same day. We both live in Mill Valley. We're working together on grand opening stuff and we get along great. We've shared lots, and lots of laughs in the car. She even let me drag her to bars in Paso Robles way past her bedtime (with a couple of spirits vendors that were super fun), and she forgave me afterwards. I'm pretty sure we'll be friends for life.

The biggest thing I've done so far is create this wedding website for BevMo! We launched it in conjunction with the summer 5 cent wine sale. How perfect is that? You can get a whole case of wine for your wedding for just 60 cents. Wish they had that when I got married!! (So does my dad!)

I wrote the whole site and had an amazing freelance designer create it. I even wrote a little brochure to go along with it.

The site launched last Monday. We had over 20 brides sign up in the first three days. YA-HOO!

I'm hoping I'll have a teeny tiny bit of free time now so I can write a blog post, or two, from time to time.

Of course I still have 18 more grand openings to deal with this year. So that may, or may not happen.

You may want to visit me on or on Twitter @bevmo That's where I am most of the time!

It was good seeing all of you!

I'll be back. I promise.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My new Dyson Animal vacuum

Happy Mother's Day!

Don't laugh. But Don and Elli gave me this for Mother's day. The Dyson Animal.

Yep. I got a vacuum.

Not exactly what I had in mind. I did imagine a gift in a box. A pretty blue box. Or a silver box. Or a box that fits in the palm of your hand.

Not a box big enough for Elli to make a fort - which is what she did the minute the new vacuum was lifted out.

They did get me a cute pair of jammies too. So that's good.

And Don did do the vacuuming today. Another plus. But then he proceeded to tell me how hot and sweaty he got vacuuming - so I doubt he'll be manning the animal again anytime soon. The machine is so strong and powerful it's harder to maneuver.

So here's the good part.

Our floors and carpets are clean. We were shocked and disgusted with how dirty they were. We thought we had a nice vacuum. (SEBO) But it was not doing the trick.

We filled up the Dyson container after vacuuming the house. FILLED IT UP! As in it was so full of dirt and dog hair we had to empty it.

I'm obsessed with vacuuming our house because the dogs and humans here seem to drag in dirt and leaves all the time. I vacuum like crazy 'cuz it bugs me. Which is why they probably thought I needed a new vacuum, I guess?

The suction is so strong with the Dyson the carpets look fluffier and cleaner - because they are!

So, it may not have been the box I was hoping for. But it is an amazing little machine. I look forward to sweating with it next weekend. Maybe it will be my new exercise plan.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Six delicious French wines to try

Oui Oui! French wine is delicious!! J'adore vin français (I love French wine!!)

I always thought I didn't like French wine. I had a few bad experiences with wine that tasted really horsey. Literally, it tasted like a stinky horse in the barn. So I shied away from French wine.

I'm happy to report that I was wrong!!!

The funny thing is, I don't think I'm the only person that is a bit shy about French wine.

I attended a French wine tasting at BevMo! last Thursday. Our guests at these tastings usually head straight for the bar and immediately start tasting. The atmosphere is always lively with guests sipping wine and friends chatting.

This night was different. Everyone walked into the tasting room and went straight for the cheese without filling their glass with wine. And no one was talking. It was weird.

I think they were intimidated by the labels. It couldn't have been our host. Emmanuel was delightful. He was friendly and charming with a twinkle in his eye. And come on, the French accent was divine!  Oooh la la!!

I didn't even need to say anything to him about our guests behavior. He grabbed the first bottle, walked out from behind the bar and started pouring the first wine, a Louis Michel & Fils Chablis. The guests loved him, and the wine. He charmed them all.

$29.99 Regular/$24.99 ClubBev!

That's all it took to loosen up the crowd.  Before you knew it people were busy tasting wine and buying it like crazy to fill their cellars. Talk about a 180!

My favorite was the Chablis - it was crisp and light with hints of peach like a Sauvignon Blanc, which as you know is my favorite wine. I would drink it every day if it was 12 bucks and not $24.99!

In fact, most of the wines were kind of expensive. So maybe it wasn't French wine I didn't like. It was CHEAP French wine I didn't like. I'm not too fond of cheap California wine either! Or cheap anything for that matter.

Give a bottle or two a try sometime and let me know what you think. Some of these wines are served at top restaurants like the French Laundry!

88 PTS WILFRED WONG. This wine makes a statement, the '10 Domaine J.M. Boillot Puligny-Montrachet offers ripe apple density, with a push of sweet oak; long and layered on the palate; bright finish.  $64.99 Reg/$59.99 ClubBev!

90 WINE SPECTATOR. The '10 Coudoulet de Beaucastel Blanc is ripe and creamy up front; butter-framed melon, creamed peach and pear notes; stony edge on the fresh finish; blossoms in the glass.  $45.99 Regular/$41.99 ClubBev!
The price point on this one had everyone giddy. Of course it wasn't my favorite. 88 PTS WILFRED WONG. Richer and more forceful than other from the same appellation, the '09 Perrin & Fils Cotes du Rhone shows substantial power and richness; red fruit and leather in the finish.  $10.99 Regular/$9.99 ClubBev!
89 PTS WILFRED WONG. Pure and honest, the red-fruited '08 Perrin Gigondas exhibits red fruit and mineral in the aromas; lively and energetic on the palate; bright finish. $32.99 Regular/$28.99 ClubBev!
My favorite Red - - 96 PTS WINE SPECTATOR. The '09 Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape is packed with dark cocoa, mesquite, tobacco and roasted fig; pure cassis and plum fruit flavors; long finish with vanilla bean notes. $99.99 Regular/$89.99 ClubBev!
I asked Emmanuel what his favorite wine is. He's currently drinking the '89 Ch. de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape. We tasted the '09. His favorite is 20 years older. ha. Maybe I should buy one of these and save it for a special occasion.

Now go forth with a glass of French wine, and talk like a Frenchman!

Note: all prices listed are BevMo! prices.

Monday, April 16, 2012

BIN 38 Restaurant and Wine Bar Review

Don's wine flight

We went to BIN 38 in San Francisco last Saturday. We took Elli with us, which probably wasn't the best decision, but we were eating early (5:45pm) and thought it would be fine.

We rarely go out anymore. But now that I'm working again (woo hoo!) we decided to treat ourselves to a day in the city. Don did a quick search of places in SF and found BIN 38. We love wine so it sounded great to us. It was listed as a $$ price point. Which is a little misleading unless you're very careful with what you order.

It turns out BIN 38 is quite the happening singles scene and it's more wine bar than restaurant.

They made an amazing plate of pappardelle noodles with an alfredo sauce for Elli. It was super tasty so she was happy. Don and I each had a different wine flight, w shared the olive tapenade appetizer, and each of us enjoyed a really yummy entree. He had scallops. I had chicken.

Burrata $14
Castelvetrano olive tapenade, garlic puree, charred bread

Diver Scallops $25
Parsnip gratin, sunchokes, leeks, american caviar, celery, hollandaise
Wine Pairing: Domaine des Baumard Sauvennieres

Mary’s Chicken Roulade $22
Ricotta gnocchi, cipollini onions, artichokes, king trumpet mushrooms, truffle jus 
Wine Pairing: Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti

The food was delicious, although my chicken was a tad salty. The wine was good. But the service was really slow and uneven. They were so busy on Saturday when we got there they didn't have any clean wine glasses. It took about 15 minutes for us to get wine. That doesn't seem like a long time, but it felt like a really long time as we sat there looking at everyone in the dining room drinking wine!

Our entrees came really fast - which made us feel rushed. Don ordered another glass of wine just to send a message that we were there to enjoy ourselves.

I guess they had the last laugh though. The wine Don ordered, which was part of the flight he sampled, turned out to be 20 bucks a glass. It wasn't even a big pour.

Needless to say, our bill was quite a bit bigger than we anticipated.

Olive tapenade appetizer

Chicken with gnocchi, artichoke and mushrooms


The couple sitting next to us had a mix-up with their order. She ordered scallops and he had the burger. They brought her a salad, which was wrong. They took the salad away. It took FOR-EVER for them to bring her scallops. Her poor date sat there staring at his burger get cold. They nibbled on all his fries while they waited for her entree. It was uncomfortable to watch. The server should have kept his burger warm.

I wasn't being nosy. The tables are tight in the dining room so it was impossible to miss what was going on at their table.

Overall, the place was fun - if you're young, single and have a lot of disposable income.

I don't think we'll go back anytime soon. Or ever. Unless someone else is buying.

BIN 38
3232 Scott Street
San Francisco, CA 94123
Reservations are strongly recommended. Kids are not.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pulled Chicken BBQ Sandwich Recipe

I have an amazing BBQ chicken recipe for you.

It's awesome, and so easy, you'll hug me the next time you see me. This is the kind of meal the boys love. And when the boys are happy and full, we're happy. Right?

That's how it is in my house anyway. And I only have one boy to feed. But he's a big eater. So when I can satisfy him I'm oh-so-happy. 

Want to know the best part? You can have this sandwich, which is a meal, on the table in 30 minutes. Start to finish.

It starts with this dude right here: Guy Fieri. And the big honkin' roast chickens they make at Costco.

No one will need to know that you really didn't do anything. It will be our little secret. 

Pulled Chicken BBQ Sandwich
serves 6

1 large Rotisserie chicken 
1 jar Guy Fieri Kansas City BBQ Sauce
1 package of cole slaw mix
1 jar Marie's Cole Slaw Dressing
6 Slices of Sourdough Bread
1 clove of garlic
3 T butter
Cheese (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Chicken - Pull the meat off the chicken and place in a mixing bowl. Pull the chicken apart into chunks. Don't cut it. It works better if you pull it apart with your hands. Pour 1/2 to 3/4 of the bbq sauce all over the chicken. Stir to coat. Place in lightly greased baking dish. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Cole Slaw - combine bag of cabbage (slaw) with about 1/2 cup of dressing. Let sit in fridge while chicken is in the oven.

Texas Toast- Finely dice one clove of garlic. Place in dish with 3T butter. Melt in microwave for about 30 seconds. Brush on slices of sourdough bread. Top with a little bit of shredded cheese. Toast until bubbly and brown on the edges.

Toast + Chicken + Slaw

That's it. It's so easy, and so delicious. This will be a regular in your repertoire. I promise.

The slaw on top is what makes it. Don't leave that part out. Don't be a cole slaw wimp. Just do it. It makes the sandwich. I promise.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The love doctor

"Mom, I want to go on a date."


"Mom, I want to go on a date. Can I go? I want to know what it's like." 


"Mom?" she was standing two inches from my face.

"I heard you." I was processing what she said, thinking that if I didn't make eye contact with her she would drop the subject and walk away.

"Mom....I want to go on my first date with a boy that I know, that's a friend."

WHAT? A date? With who? Where will you go?

"You know I'm going with you. Wherever you go." 

My mind was racing with so many thoughts. I didn't really expect to have this conversation so soon. A date? Boys? She's in fifth grade. Is this normal? Should I let her. Holy crap, I need Don.

"Where's your dad? Don?" I looked at the door hoping he would magically appear at that very moment.

"Mom. It's just a question." she said, with just a little bit of eye roll.

The thought of her dating was sucking the life out of me. I wasn't ready for this.

She stared at me, fidgeting, smiling, and oozing with cuteness. Why did she have to be so dang cute. The boys were going to love her.

"When did you go on your first date?" she asked, her eyes twinkling with anticipation.

"I was really, really shy. I went to a few dances, that was about it. I really didn't date until college." I said, feeling like a loser.

Thinking of this caused a flash of heat to race through my body like a lightening bolt. Damn hot flashes.

She stood there looking at me so disappointed. She wanted to exchange first date stories. She wanted my advice. Crap. Why wasn't I cool when I was young.  I was that shy girl with the wide eyes looking in. Good thing I was really observant. I was pretty sure I could B.S. my way through this - but jeez, I had planned for this to be a middle school conversation. I wasn't ready.

"Mom, there are three boys that want to ask out three girls and go on a triple date." She was so excited she couldn't stand still.

"Are you one of the girls?"

"No. They don't like me."

My immediate though was "thank goodness" and then "What? Why not?"

How is that possible? You're beautiful, talented, funny. This is not right! Who are these boys?

She could tell I was concerned. I don't hide my feelings very well.

"Mom, it's okay. I don't like them. They like Lou Lou, Ava and Lilyana.

aaaaah. Three of the cutest girls in school, and good friends.

"Who doesn't like you? Who are the boys?" I wanted to know.


I remember my first date. I went to the 8th grade dance with Mark Johnson. He was our minister's son, and a friend. I didn't really "like" him. But he asked me. I liked Andy Hyra. But I was too shy to tell anyone, so I said yes to Mark. My mom made me a pretty yellow dress with ruffles, made of dotted swiss fabric. Do you remember that fabric? It had little raised dots all over it.

Anyway, Mark was really tall so I talked my mom into letting me get high heels. I picked out a pair of wedge sandals with a cork heel. I loved those shoes. I'm pretty sure that was the beginning of my love for high heels.

I got home and tried them on with my dress. The dress was too short! My mom had hemmed it to my ankle. I was devastated. I would look like a dork! I was so sad. I would never be cool.

We went to the dance. I don't remember if anyone said anything about my dress or my shoes. I do remember how the evening ended, though.

Mark's dad drove us home. I literally flew out of the car and ran to the front door because I was afraid he might try to kiss me. Poor Mark. I don't think it was the first date he was hoping for. I might have slammed our front door in his face as I yelled, "Thanks, Mark! I had a great time. Bye! See you in church."

And I wonder why I wasn't one of the cool kids.

Thankfully, Elli is not like me.

She is not shy. She is vibrant, and personable, and full of confidence.

She has dubbed herself the "Love Doctor" at school. She is the mediary between the boys and the girls, and she's loving it.

Holy crap. What am I going to do? 


Saturday, March 31, 2012

It's my blogiversary!

Can you believe it?

I've been blogging for 3 years!

It all started with a post about Pork Chops. Now I occasionally get paid to write a post. I've been invited to be on Anderson Cooper, people send me things to write about (like wine!) I went to the Napa Valley Film Festival and got to meet Adrien Grenier (hello gorgeous), attended BlogHer Food and the Wine Sisterhood conference.

Crazy, right!!?

And so fun.

I'm a Member of the Clever Girls network where I'm friends with some really cool cats, including a girl named CAT!

I've written sponsored posts for the Napa Valley Film Festival, Heart of Haiti, Cheerios, Star Olive Oil, Sante Nuts, Quaker Oatmeal Squares, Yahoo, Marzetti Salad Dressing, Cube Dog and Walgreens.

I joined a writing club called The Red Dress Club which then evolved into Write on Edge. It became much more than a writing club for me. I made real friends.

I was featured in the Marin IJ Newspaper in January. A mind blowing and very cool experience.

I've run into people in the grocery store who have commented on my recipes. I have to tell you, it kind of made me laugh. I know my blog is called "What's Cooking?" but let's be real. That's really not my strength!!!

The blog started because I wanted to learn how to blog for my client. I like to eat and drink wine so that's why I named it what's cooking. Fast forward three years and I finally have a blog in the works for BevMo! Yay!

I could never, ever, have predicted I would be where I am today when I started this little project. I can hardly wait to see what the next three years brings!

Thanks to all of you for following me, commenting, and being the best friends and family a girl could have. I love you all!



Thursday, March 29, 2012

Adoption: The Road to Kyra

I have a guest post today!!! Please read this essay by my friend Karen Lynch.

Karen and Kyra
We met about 6 years ago at a China girls playgroup shortly after we moved from Connecticut to California. She has written a story about her adoption experience and is looking to get it published.

Please vote for her essay on Facebook. The winner of the contest will get to meet with a book publisher! Click here to link to the story, then click the "like" button at the end of the story.

Thank you!

# # # # #

The Road to Kyra
by Karen Lynch

“Look, Mommy! Lil Sis. “

Aidan pointed to the personalized license plate on the car ahead as we drove to school. We had been searching everywhere for signs that his baby sister would soon join our family, our variation of I Spy.

The wait seemed interminable. There were, of course, the reams of paperwork. Then, countless referrals we had extracted from friends and employers, people willing to testify we were a wholesome, or at least, wholesome-ish family. Next came the home study. After a frenzy of cleaning, we welcomed a social worker to scrutinize our house, and interview our biological sons.

But the biggest obstacle to bringing home our baby girl from China was my husband. Greg, nearly 50, said he was done parenting small children. Our boys were finally self-sufficient, and Greg was ready to find a large comfortable spot on the couch and vegetate.

Parents adopting from China speak of the red thread, an invisible string connecting the future parent to an orphan on the other side of the world. A red thread had mysteriously woven itself through my heart, though I had no idea how it had happened. But it felt no different from being pregnant with a long-desired baby. I was certain my daughter was in China, and I was relentless in my quest to bring her home.

Greg, however, was not experiencing the red thread phenomenon. A fiscal conservative, he had calculated most of the foreseeable moves in our lives. Adopting a child was not one of the foreseeable moves on his flowchart.

I tried to unravel the red thread from my heart. With my husband so adverse to the idea, wouldn’t it be foolhardy to risk my marriage for this stranger? But my daughter was not a stranger. Though I had yet to see her photograph, she was inexplicably as real to me as Keenan and Aidan, our ten and seven year old sons.

When he realized I would not relent, Greg agreed to couple’s counseling. Susan was nearly Greg’s age, and her adopted multi-racial toddlers played harmoniously in the backyard with their older siblings during our sessions. Our counselor’s parental status was a fortunate coincidence, not, as Greg jokingly accused, part of my diabolical plan. Greg expressed his concerns. Would she be healthy? Would she have some obscure medical condition? Suffer from attachment disorder? These were valid considerations. Finally, he allowed me to begin the paperwork, with the caveat that he reserved the right to change his mind. There was no enthusiasm in Greg’s surrender, but I took the small victory and ran with it.

Aidan was dieing for a little sister. He imagined she would adore him, and he would share his vast years of life experience with her. Keenan was neutral, willing to go along with any path we chose.
Because Greg’s agreement felt so tenuous, I began reaching out to God, the universe, or anyone else out there who might be interested: Please help me bring Kyra home.

In desperation, never before a spiritualist, I called upon Greg’s mother. Grandma Bee died two weeks after Keenan’s birth. My mother-in-law and I had a close, if too brief, relationship. She often told me though she adored her sons, she had always longed for a daughter. Bee will understand, I thought. Who knows? Maybe she can help me from the after-world? I teased Greg that I now had his mom in my corner.

And so for months, as Greg waffled, I petitioned Bee to help bring her son around. Aidan and I gained courage whenever we encountered the Lil Sis car on the road. We cheered with excitement the day we passed a car with the plate: Kyra. Twenty months passed. I thought of Kyra constantly, and the idea that Greg might back out gnawed painfully at my stomach.

Finally, in August, the adoption facilitator called us. At the sound of his voice we each ran to grab an extension in a different room.

“You have a baby,” said Norman, speaking quickly. “In Jiang-xi province, 15 months old.  Abandoned in cardboard box at 10 days old.  Birth mother left note with birth date and time, June 19. Travel date is September 13th.”

I put down the phone and met Greg in the hallway. This was it. If he backed out now, could I ever forgive him? As he embraced me, my 6 foot, 210 –pound, lug of a husband was crying. I braced myself, certain he was about to hit me with the devastating news that he simply could not do it.

“What?” I said.

“Did you hear her birthday?”

“Yes, June 19th.”

“That was Mom’s birthday,” he said.

His surrender was complete. A month later, Kyra would be in our arms.

# # #

Thank you for your vote!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My lottery plan.

Have you ever thought about what you would do with your lottery winnings when you win?



Of course you have. Everyone has. It's fun to dream about all the things you'd buy or do with the money.

I've had this really strong feeling about the lottery lately. It could be because it's been in the news. I don't know, I just had this feeling I should buy a ticket.

So I did.

How cool would it be if I won!

I know exactly what I'd do with the money.

1. Pay off our debts.
2. Pay off the mortgages of our immediate family members - my parents, my sister, brothers, my nieces and nephews, brother and sister-in-laws
3. I would buy us a house.
4. Set up a trust for Kiddo! here in Mill Valley.
5. Set up a college scholarship for kids that want to study the arts - dance, music and art.
6. Set up a foundation for small business. I would want us to be like AFLAC. We're there for you in emergencies. We would give 1x only "gifts" to help out when times are tough.
7. Pay for my mother-in-laws retirement care
8. Buy Don a new car
9. Go shopping for new stuff. For. Sure. And it won't be at TJMAXX.

I told Elli my plan, up through #7,  and she thought I was nuts.

"Why would you give away all the money? That's crazy." She was looking at me like I really had the money and had indeed gone crazy.

"Elli, we'd have so much money we wouldn't need it all. I would love to give back to people that need it. Plus, I'm just saying what I would do IF I won."

She sat there thinking about this.

"Okay." she said with a sigh. Will you buy me something?

"Elli, remember, we haven't won yet. This is only make believe." sigh

"I want an iphone 4G. Will you get that for me?" she said smiling.

I want to be back in 5th grade where all I want is a phone.

"Yes. I promise to buy you an iphone if we win."

Someone has to win. Why not me?

# # # 

I just checked the lottery website.

We didn't win.

wah waaaah.

In fact there were no winners for the Mega Millions drawing.

I really thought we were going to win. Maybe I am crazy! My gut told me we were going to win.

Totally misread that one. And now I'm out ten bucks. Damn.

The estimated cash value is now $341 million.

hmmm. More like $341,000,010.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Wine Blending at Conn Creek in Napa

Have you ever gone on a trip and done something so fun you can't stop thinking about it? That's what this wine blending experience was for me! I got to play wine maker for a day. Pure heaven!!!!

It was an amazing experience that I got to share with all my new Wine Sisterhood friends.

I wasn't exactly sure what "blending your own wine meant." Would we be climbing on barrels drawing samples with a syringe? Would we be holding our glass up to big tanks grabbing a sip? My mind was full of ideas on how this might work.

We were quickly taken from our bus to the AVA room at Conn Creek which was beautifully set with barrels lining the walls, wine glasses on the table, brochures and pens carefully layed out, and a nice little taste of wine waiting for us. 

Aaaaaah, this is what they meant. I pictured something much more rustic.

Silly me.

We started out by tasting the Cabernet from Conn Creek. Everyone loved it.

All of us immediately thought, "ooooh, I want to make wine just like this." The challenge of duplicating what their master wine maker created was on all of our minds. After tasting a few barrels we all quickly realized it was going to be much harder to duplicate that Cabernet than at first it seemed.

That didn't stop us from trying! We got right in there and started tasting. It was a little overwhelming at first. But after getting a few sips everyone got into it and started bouncing from barrel to barrel. We all diligently wrote notes about each and every one so we could go back when it came time to blend.

My strategy was to mix a little bit of all my favorites.  I was finally ready to fill my beaker. I had calculated what percentage of each would make the perfect blend.

I filled the beaker, then poured it in my glass. I sniffed it, swirled it, then tasted it. It was awful! It was really earthy. And you know how I feel about earthy wine.  I must have mixed up my notes, because I never would have picked an earthy wine as a favorite.

I quickly started over, this time going back to my favorites for a quick taste to make sure I still favored them. I then added more of the "spice" wines which are Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot to give it the flavor I wanted. I finally liked the result and was ready to fill a big beaker.

The next step is to grab one of these wine bottles and a funnel. COOL!!


Once it's full you bring it to this handy contraption which pops the cork right in. Then it's time to name your wine and make the label.

I named my wine Clickety Clack Cabernet. I kind of forgot to put Cabernet on the label. Oh well.

It will be ready to open Memorial Day weekend. I can't wait to taste it!!!!!

If you're planning a visit to St. Helena make sure you book a visit to Conn Creek AVA tasting room. I've done a lot of wine tasting since moving to the Bay Area. But this was one of the most unique tasting experiences I've ever had. I'll never forget it, and would love to do it again with Don and my family.

It's no surprise they received the honor of winning the International "Best of Wine Tourism" award. The place is awesome. 

Conn Creek Tasting Room
Sun-Fri 11:00am-4:00pm
Sat 11:00am-5:00pm

8711 Silverado Trail, St. Helena CA 9457
1.800.793.7960 // 707.963.9100 ext. 1

I'd like to give a big shout out to the Wine Sisterhood and Conn Creek for this amazing experience.

Thank you!