Y'all! I had the fabulous honor of chatting about food, wine, community, holidays, COVID and wellness with Bryan Gauthier, owner of the Oakton Wine Shop, on his podcast ~ all while enjoying his incredible cooking and some gorgeous wines! Give it a listen ~ and if you're local, be sure to throw on a mask and pop into the shop. I'm also including the links to two recipes I mention in the podcast: my favorite roasted veggie salad and Cole's Moveable Feast's famous pumpkin cheesecake pie in gingersnap crust with bourbon whip! Happy Thanksgiving!
I was a lawyer for the first decade of my working life, research is my drug of choice. If you're the same way, and you're heading to the bookstore after the doctor's office, here's a great place to start:
The Exercise Habit is the hardest one, right? So figure out what is going to make some kind of movement inevitable for you today. Some people are good at saying “I’m gonna get up and attend such and such class.” For me, it’s a matter of putting on my activewear (PS if you haven’t watched that YouTube video, watch it ASAP). Because then at least I’ll be embarrassed into working out at some point, when I run into yet another person who asks, “Oh, did you just come from the gym?” And be opportunistic. I have to take my son to a voice lesson today, so I’ll grab my screen-saturated daughter and hit the W&OD trail for 45 minutes while he’s there. Got an unfurnished room or two, like me? HeLLO, yoga studio! Just get going!
This is why I’m reinstating a deep discount on private coaching (a third off my normal rate!). I’m hearing too many of these in casual conversation:
I gained the COVID-19.
The news about school pushed me over the edge.
I just don’t care anymore.
I’m back to living in sweats.
I feel like it’s never going to be normal again.
I’m angry all the time.
I’m anxious all the time.
I started out okay, but now I’m just feeling trapped.
I hate 2020.
You guys, 2020 can be GREAT. You can look back on this year and say, wow, I really changed my life. I want everybody to feel empowered, joyful, healthy, purposeful. Even with a face mask on. Even with the kids in virtual school. Even without that dream vacation. How about instead you build your dream LIFE this year?
Give me a call or drop me an email to set up a free consultation to see if private coaching makes sense for you. You can do this.
This morning I repainted the iron table on our deck. It will be moved to our new home in a few days, and I wanted to get it done before the movers come. Today seemed like the perfect day, hot and sunny, no chance of rain. I was up early, before the heat became unbearable, so by 7am, I was out there, spreading newspaper, gathering supplies, scrubbing off peeling paint with a wire brush, then sanding the whole table. In the future, I will use spray paint, but I had a can of enamel I had bought for this table nearly a year ago, and I didn't want it to go to waste. So I painted the entire table with a good old fashioned wood-handled paint brush. I switched to a smaller brush for the little curls and flourishes, then added a second coat of paint.
Why does this matter? In the past, this is a task I would have dreaded. I would have complained inside my head throughout the entire process. But today, I let it guide me. I took my time and really focused on painting. I listened to the birds and felt the sun on my arms. I looked up every now and then, rolled my shoulders to loosen the muscles in my neck, and looked around at all the trees, lush and green from summer's heat and rains. My neighbors' crepe myrtle bloomed early this year, and I realized how much I'll miss that tree. I relished this last Sunday on the tiny deck of the home we've lived in for sixteen years. This table is one of the first things we bought when we moved to Virginia from New York City. I loved every second of painting this table.
A few hours later, my husband opened the back door and suggested we go for a bike ride. I gave the table a once over, touched up a few spots I had missed, and felt an overwhelming sense of love and gratitude. I'll always love that table because of this Sunday morning.
My house has a lot of my grandmother’s furniture, including our kitchen table. Yesterday I made a grocery run, which has this way of completely draining me. Grocery shopping was never my favorite, but now with the masks and the one-way aisles, and the line outside and all the extra effort it takes, it just wears me out. But I decided to pick up a festive tablecloth and a few things to put around the house to remind us that summer is coming. And when I put the tablecloth on the table, memories came rushing back to me of my grandmother’s kitchen table in the summertime, out in the country where they lived. Memories of just lying in the grass by the pond behind her house, walking through the woods, visiting the cows, eating hamburgers at the table with the checked tablecloth and the little mustard & ketchup set. And I got a little bit sad. Nostalgia can do that. And it’s easy to feel sad, because this Memorial Day weekend doesn’t feel like the ones in the past. It’s not sunny, in fact it’s cool and rainy here in Northern Virginia. There’s no Viva Vienna, with its carnival rides and food trucks and live music. The pool isn’t open, my son isn’t starting his lifeguard job. But then I remember that none of those things were happening at my grandmother’s house on those glorious summer days. I ran around barefoot, and played in the creek and lay on the grass staring at the sky. I drank from the hose and we made lemonade and peach ice cream. And I can do all those things with MY kids. Maybe I'll even bake my famous Cole's Moveable Feast sweet tea cupcakes with lemonade frosting. We’ll walk in the woods, and splash in the creek instead of the pool. I’ll make my grandmother’s peach ice cream and we’ll do some laying around and staring at the sky. And it will be awesome.
Let’s talk about FREEDOM today. Sometimes my daughter puts on an outfit that makes me ... pause for second. I bite back advice about things that “go together” or about not tucking shirts into elastic waist pants. And then I remember. Remember when you were a kid? And what you put on your body was based solely on what colors you liked? Or how comfortable it felt? Or how easily you could play outside or jump in the creek? I remember, too. Do you know how many decades I spent picking out my outfit based on how tall, skinny and “in style” I’d look? Does anyone here relate to the closet crisis? Did you know there was a time I wouldn’t dream of wearing flats (or my glasses)? I nearly ruined my feet running around New York City for twelve years in high heels. How liberating it was when I started thinking like a kid again! Sometimes I even tuck my shirt into elastic waist pants! Now, I admit some of this freedom comes from reaching an age where I make decisions based on MY preferences, rather than others’ perceptions. And the struggles that come with being a human have a way of putting things into perspective. There came a time in my life when I realized I LOVE every part of me that I used to consider imperfect, because now it is healthy. But play with freedom in your mind’s eye for a minute, if you’re not already there. Think about how wonderful it would be to feel free. Because others’ opinions of you are none of your business. And you deserve to be happy and feel good. And when you do, every little choice you make will fall in line with that. You’ll nourish your happy, loved self with foods that energize and heal you. You’ll move that wonderful body like a kid again. And your spirit will thank you. And you're right, that’s not my daughter in the first picture. XOXO
Join us! We're running (and walking) the Vienna Business Association Caffe Amouri Feeding Families 5K ~ May 15th to May 31st. You guys, I can't say enough about how excited I was to hear about this event - I'm even donating a prize! Like many of you, I have spent many hours at Caffe Amouri working on my laptop. I've also walked many miles (with many of you during Wellness Feast walking club) on the W&OD trail, and my love of the Town of Vienna runs deep. How much I'll miss Viva Vienna this year! And you know one of my core beliefs is that we must serve our communities and help the undernourished. This is especially true now, in the face of this global pandemic. I hope you will join us for this wonderful event. I'll see you out there training (from a distance)! Register here!
There can be a dark side to all the Zoom happy hours and days that feel like Groundhog Day. I posted about it on social media, and then I started receiving lots of comments on my personal Facebook page, plus private texts and messages about how universal that slippery slope can be. So I thought it was worth re-posting here. And by the way, the recipe for the virgin margarita can be found here, and the spritzer was just half Belvoir cucumber mint lemonade and half seltzer, with a few slices of cucumber and a sprig of mint. Enjoy, and read on . . .
Can we talk alcohol for a minute? And bear in mind, this is coming from the wife of a man who works in the industry. But during the COVID-19 crisis, I have found myself pouring a glass of wine almost every night. Sometimes two glasses. And that is WAY more than I would like to be drinking, not to mention the fact that excess alcohol consumption has been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer and several other health conditions. And for me, a lot of the pleasure in a glass of wine is really about the ceremony, not so much the wine itself. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes there’s a perfect glass of wine for certain meals. Sometimes, on a hot summer day, a cold glass of white wine or rosé just can’t be beat. And it’s Cinco de Mayo on Taco Tuesday during the coronavirus, for God’s sake. That just screams margarita! But today, I decided to introduce some new non-alcoholic options into my repertoire, so that I can still make a special drink after a long day of homeschooling and working from home. I even ordered some Seedlip non-alcoholic spirits to try out. So, let me know if you’re with me on this, and if so, share your favorite mocktails. And listen ... I’m not going to pretend I’m becoming a teetotaler, but I do want to be more intentional about how often I’m taking a drink. Are you with me?
I'm a lipstick girl. I grew up with grandmothers who'd NEVER be caught outside of the house "without a mouth." My paternal grandmother wouldn't even be caught inside the house without hers, and she had tubes of lipstick stashed all over her little house in Norfolk, Virginia. My father told me that after she passed away, they found lipsticks hidden all around her room and in her bed. I miss those women so much. My mother is also a lipstick girl. She has a big, gorgeous smile and even though her coloring is wildly different from mine, we discovered some years ago that we both loved a shade called Wine With Everything.
Well, there hasn't been much use for lipstick in quarantine. And whenever I put it on, I feel sort of garish, and the kids ask me where I'm going. But that doesn't mean I've let up on my other self-care routines. And of course, in this particular discussion of self-care, I'm not talking meditation and exercise and all the things that I really hammer y'all about. I'm talking, looking good at FIFTY self-care!
So here are a few of my non-negotiables.
1. Washing my face EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, no matter how tired I am. I use the plainest soap I can find. Good ol' bar soap works best for me, because I had oily skin until a few years ago, and I'm still prone to break-outs. Ah, menopause ... wrinkles and pimples! Yay! Sometimes I exfoliate with a gentle scrub. But I always follow with a mixture of retinol and vitamin C serum, all over my face and neck. It has made a huge difference, I wish I had started in my 30s. I have a lot of sun damage to my face. Again, retrospect. Kurt Vonnegut was right, kids, when he (actually never) said wear sunscreen.
2. Religiously flossing. Teeth, breath and heart health, guys ~ the inflammation in your mouth can contribute to heart disease. I'm not even kidding. So as gross as it sounds, I use a tongue scraper, and natural dental floss so I don't end up with PFOAs in my system (again, wishing I had figured that out before spending decades using Teflon pans). And I gargle with good old-fashioned eye-watering antiseptic mouthwash, because my dentist recommended it for preventing those yucky bacteria that can lodge in your tonsils. If your breath is routinely bad (or your mouth tastes yucky), think about (a) drinking more water and (b) cleaning your tongue and flossing.
3. Epsom salt baths. I love them ~ for sore muscles and because magnesium, both ingested and as a soak, has so many health benefits.
4. Tinted moisturizer and sunscreen every day. My other make-up choices are pretty optional. I'm addicted to the Nars Multiple stick, so I'll never give that up, but otherwise I look for makeup that's pretty clean by the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep app standards. I recently discovered Beautycounter, which was started by a friend of a friend, and I'm really impressed by the quality of the products and the company's values.
5. I upped my glasses game recently, because I'm in front of this computer so often with work, Zoom meetings and client sessions. I wear Caddis readers, again recommeneded by a friend, because they look so cool and filter out the blue light, so I have less eye fatigue. Although, with my little Chinese face and pointy chin, I look a little bit like that nerdy bird that follows Foghorn Leghorn around. Oh well.
6. Finally, Native deodorant, y'all! A gift from a friend and I LOVE it. Don't be putting nasty chemicals and toxins on your armpits, ladies, they're right next to your breasts!
So those are my go-to routines and products, and my point here is, keep doing these little things that make you feel good every day. Even if the only people who see you are the ones whining, "Mom, there's nothing in the house to eat."