ON LOVE AND WINE

girlsforty

I am one lucky girl.  I am lucky enough to be writing this post from gorgeous Sonoma, California.  Where I’m lucky enough to be with eight amazing, beautiful and wise women.  We’re here for two reasons:  first, we’ve known each other 22 years (this is just a smidge of our much loved sorority pledge class), and two, we’re all turning FORTY this year.

So, I apologize for the picture quality, but we had a lot of STUFF to cover last night.  We’re catching up on kids, husbands, families, deaths, illnesses, pregnancies, exotic vacations, jobs… LIVES.  Seeing chubby, yummy smiling babies on Facebook is fun – but listening to their mother talk about that child with love in her eyes and pride in her voice is magic.

We laughed about the fact that, there were pedicures and hair cuts and spray tans in preparation for this trip, and dresses in the suitcases, but all we need are our comfy p.j.’s, our love for each other and our memories.

I recently had a dermaroller treatment (this baby needs a post of its own – so more about that later), but long story short – I thought I would be all healed and beautiful by now, I’m NOT, but in a way that too is a gift.  It prompted conversation with people I love, respect and trust about the crazy things that we feel compelled to do as we approach forty – from facials to botox to diets and work-outs, the list goes on.  We thought, “what if we embrace this?”, “what if we all are just beautiful forty year old women?”  It was an epiphany for me.

We have sun spots because we’ve had vacations on the beach with our precious families. We have smile lines because we’ve SMILED. A lot.  Life is good.  This girl for one, is about to spend less time on “upkeep” and more time living.  Immediately.  I’m off for a hike with the girls and then lots of wine tasting!  Ta ta for now.

WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THAT KALE

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Seems like lots of people are afraid of Kale.  So, as a follow up to yesterday’s post on greens, I have some recipes to pass along.   Then we’ll take a kale break – I promise!

My Favorite Kale Salad is a variation on one from Epicurious.com:

Kale Salad Variation

1 bunch kale very thinly sliced

1/2 cup dates: pitted & cut into slivers

1/3 cup almonds: roasted, salted & chopped

Dressing:

2 tbsp. Fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 
Celtic sea salt to taste

1/2 shallot, chopped

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Epicurious says to top it with freshly shaved parmesan

In a bowl, whisk lemon juice, shallot, honey, salt and pepper flakes.  Add kale, toss well.  Let sit 20 minutes.  Mix in oil.  Refrigerate for up to one day, or serve immediately.  In a dry pan, toast almonds over medium heat, tossing constantly, until color deepens, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add almonds, dates and Parmesan (optional) to kale; serve.  You can skip the parmesan and add sliced good green olives.

This one is amazing and came from Laurie at Nutrition Evolution:

Avocado Cayenne Kale Salad

4 cups kale

1 diced avocado

1 sheet chopped Sushi Nori

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine in a bowl and top with balsamic vinaigrette

Vegan Goddess Salad Dressing*

1 garlic clove

2 small avocados

8 tbsp water

5 tbsp apple cider vinegar

3-4 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup fresh basil

1/2 cup fresh parsley

1/2 cup green onion (green part only)

1 tsp kosher salt
Pinch of cayenne

*my favorite & amazing on anything (especially kale) but probably only works if you have a high quality high speed blender (like a vitamix) or food processor & you just blend until smooth!

Kale Slaw

4 cups kale

1 cup red onion: diced

1 cup red pepper: diced

2 ripe avocados
2 tbsp lemon

Mix the avocados & lemon juice, add to vegetables & blend (this one is great just to blend with your hands!)

Tahini Kale Salad

2-3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup Tahini (sesame paste)

1/2 cup lemon juice

1tbsp lemon zest

1 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp water (to thin as needed)

Combine all the above in blender or food processor, pour over chopped kale and give a hearty mix.  Great with hummus and/or lentils for protein boost.

IT’S EASY BEING GREEN

Laurenveggies

my grandmother’s garden 1977

You don’t have to grow your own – today’s natural grocery stores and organic purveyors have  made it EASY to get your greens: 

Here’s a product I found at Whole Foods and LOVE, I love the name, I love the convenience packaging and I love the mix.  Make a quick salad, throw some in your juicer or Vitamix – whatever – easy peasy!

supergreens

This one is from King Soopers and has been kind of life changing for me since I discovered it last Summer.  Making my favorite kale salads is a BREEZE with this stuff.

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And if you’re really in a hurry, pop 4 of these babies with a tall drink o’ water.

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See, getting the good greens is easy.  No excuses. Let’s kiss iceberg lettuce BUH-BYE.

INTERTIORS: MY DINING ROOM

Years ago, after a trip to Provence, I went through a phase of being very, very into the “French Country” look, I had toile everywhere, a dark red dining room, and more roosters than you could shake a stick at.

This hutch from Horchow by Neiman Marcus is a classic example.  When we moved to Evergreen, I drastically thinned out the roosters and such, but these guys hung around.

roosterhutchphoto

I envisioned something much cleaner and more in the rustic contemporary style of the rest of our home.  I loved this salvaged wood and steel shelving piece from Restoration Hardware, but with tax and shipping it would have been about $3000, and the size was just slightly off for my space.

RH

So, I measured the dining room niche, drew a picture of what I was envisioning and sought out the help of the carpenters at Bear Creek Design (if you’ve been following the blog you’ll note that this is the same fab team that did our basement).  I ordered casters (wheels) from a vintage industrial supply on line, we used raw knotty alder with a natural wax versus a shiny stain and construction grade rebar.  Here’s what we came up with:

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dining2

casters

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horses

The horses came from Ballard Designs and replaced a much more colorful print, I love the neutral tones.

You’ll notice the red toile is still with us.  I keep going back and forth on whether to keep it or do natural slipcovers over the chairs.. stay tuned!

DIY – GEL MANICURE

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mani

beforemani

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gelpink

gellight

aftermani

The pictures really say it all in this post, but here’s the skinny:  I get a gel or shellac manicure every couple of weeks.  I love getting my hair or make-up done, but when it comes to mani/pedi’s I have a really hard time sitting still for so long, which makes me kind of dread it.

I spotted this kit at Walgreen’s for $59.99 and thought I’d give it a whirl.  The kit came with a Raspberry Pink, but I was after a nude (OPI bubble bath-ish) color, so I bought babydoll pink.  I also grabbed some Sally Hansen cuticle remover and Essie apricot oil for the complete Walgreen’s nail experience.

Bottom line, it was surprisingly, shockingly even, SO easy to do, the whole process took maybe 10 minutes, and I don’t really think it looks much different than when I leave the nail salon.  I’ll let you know if it really lasts two weeks!