Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Finding Your Voice

The Headlines;

I have no voice.  

Like gone.

Turns out... there are lessons to be learned.

This has been an irritating few weeks.  You may have heard about our little flood we had due to a washing machine busting (literally) in my laundry room.  If not, check it out HERE.  Then I get sick, slightly, not a biggie.  But then I lose my voice.  Like gone.  Happy Thanksgiving!  Yes, but as "they" say... in every cloud there is a silver lining!

You ever get sick?  I know the answer to that... everyone does.  Especially Moms.  Those little germy hands bring in crud from all over the universe to your spic and span house (at least in theory).  Then they share those germs with you and you get sick.  Over and over.  It's like a running joke in every family.  Well, that happens here too.  But my sickness, about once a year - goes further than that.  I get sick and then, towards the end of the sickness, I lose my voice.   I remember this happening when I used to anchor the news.  Producers would actually let me go on.  I was sure I could just hear the remotes turning me off as the words came out.  Or didn't.

Anyways, after the sickness dies down, hoarseness sets in and then (especially if I force talking) it's just POOF - gone!  Not very convenient for anyone who has anyTHING to do in life.  But then again... there are lessons in everything.  Losing my voice always requires me to find it again.

Finding ones voice really should take years.  But when it's gone... you get to re-evalaute.  Are you using it correctly?  Here's what I found:

Kids Fight. 
Let them fight.  Stopping them while whispering is a near impossible task.  But try.  It's funny.  The real question is... if you say nothing, what do they do?  Does the silence do something your voice can't?

Listen More. 
As a former reporter I developed that skill early on.  Ironically, people think reporters need to be good talkers and they do.  But more than that... they need to listen.  Everyone wants to be heard.  They want to know their voice matters.  Because it does.  I like to ask questions but I most enjoy hearing answers.  This skill escapes many.  Not sure why... the sound of their own voice is too encapsulating maybe... I get it.  I love to talk too.  But I do realize that others, including your own children, have incredibly important things to say too.  Things I want to hear.  Things we all need to hear.

Couples Need Conversation. 
It's necessary to be really good together.  I have a million things I have to tell BP (the husband) but only a few things I can say right now.  He talks.  I smile.  Best conversation ever as far as he's concerned.  But I long to connect with him through my words.  He's my best friend and what we say to each other, means something.  Even the small stuff.

Real Friends Tune In.
People need patience to listen to me right now.  My good friends take the moment needed.  Some even translate.

Silence is Awkward.  
But should it be?  So many of us say something just to fill voids. We've all done it, "Nice day... this weather is awesome!" "How 'bout them Chargers?" Sometimes, less is more. If you stop talking, I promise others will step up.  Try it, you'll be amazed what comes out.  Just the same...

Words Matter.
So if you're going to talk please know words are powerful so pick them wisely.  Every single one.

Your Voice is Your Calling Card!
People not only respond to the words but also to the voice behind them.  When you don't have a sound... part of you is lost.  A part that is taken for granted daily.  I was at a party last weekend and I spoke to a man I had never officially talked to before... I thought the conversation went fine but he later turned to my husband and said, "what's up with your wife?  I can barely hear her?"  He thought I was a lunatic!

People Need Cheerleaders.
At my children's games last weekend I couldn't cheer them on.  It seems like a trivial task but I think this world could use a few more cheerleaders and maybe a few less "play-ahs!"

Yes, losing a voice changes ones life for the time being.  I have no doubt, I will soon find it again.  But like many things, it's a nice reminder of what you're missing... when it's gone.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Holiday Wine 411!

The Headlines:

Looking for good wine?

You've come to the right place. 

This chick knows some good wine!

Let me be very clear.  I love wine.  I really do.  I enjoy a light Sav Blanc with fruit on a Summer day.  Or a big, bold Cab when I eat a rich and hearty steak.  I think wine enhances food enormously.  A good dish can become over the top incredible if you pair it right.  Sometimes, even if you don't.

So when it comes to the holidays... the months when we, as a people, consume probably almost half of our yearly caloric intake - it's fitting to do so with fabulous wine!  But I know many people just really don't... know... where... to... start.

You can read all the super well educated, certified, typical wine geek information of the world (no offense) we love and need you people!  Or you can listen to ONE PICKY CHICK like me.  I'm not a geek or a wine critic of any sort.  I officially do not know what I'm talking about.  But I will say, I'm fairly good at knowing what's good.  It's not that hard.  You probably are good at knowing what's good too.  Cause I'm pretty sure you have taste buds, right?  The difference may be that I have been fortunate enough to go to many, many wine tastings all over the world... YaY!

With that said, I get nothing for any of my "recommendations" here.  DARN!

So take these seriously (but don't take them to your sommelier - they'll want you to buy much more expensive wines).  These are good, popular, not ridiculously priced wines that will make everyone happy this Holiday!  Promise.

Schrammsberg.  Blanc de Blancs. $31-$35 (highest priced of the bunch - worth every penny)

This is an amazing bottle of bubbles.  It's pricier than Korbel but not Cristal dollars.  Believe me?  Don't take my word for it... go to the White House.  Every president since, like Nixon, has served it there.  Not sure about Obama but if not, his term isn't over yet.  It's a fabulous way to start a holiday party.  Bubbly always puts people in the mood.  It's not just for wedding toasts anymore!

Washington Hills. Riesling.  $9-$12

First things first, you must know Riesling is considered the most "turkey paired" wine.  It works for the big bird.  But here's the deal about Washington Hills.  This puppy sells all year long.  Arguably one of the most popular Rieslings around... it's a good solid bet to make your guests happy.  Especially if they're having the standard: turkey/stuffing/potatoes!  Not to mention, did you see that price?

Joel Gott.  Sauvignon Blanc.  $11-13

Know this guy?  If you've ever been to Napa Valley you may know his burger joint.  It's not subtle.  You can't miss the red & white restaurant called Gott's Roadside - which is literally off the main road that runs through that area in St. Helena.  It's good food.  And he's now making really good wine (well, he's been doing it for a while actually).  Yep, he's a real guy.  I happen to like a lot of his wines.  But I really love this one.  It's light, refreshing, crisp.  Everything you want in an SB and you don't have to go over seas to get it.  Huh?  Take a look at a lot of the popular Sauvignon Blancs we drink here in the states.  They're mostly from New Zealand.  Sure it's a good region to grow that grape but taste this one.  You may decide it's time to keep your dollars here at home.

Chalk Hill. Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. $19-$22

Some guests just want Chardonnay.  It's America's favorite white varietal of all time.  So if you're going to have people over for the holidays... you have to have it.  This Chard blows.  It blows your mind that is!  Now, it's not their Estate Chardonnay - which some may consider an iconic white wine in the industry - but it's a more value priced white that's super duper, duper good.  Want to impress people?  Buy this!

Angeline.  Pinot Noir.  $11-$13

If you're hosting, you also must have a Pinot for guests during the holidays.  It's just gotten so popular since that movie, you know the one I'm talking about (that bashed Merlot like 10ish years ago)  "Sideways"!?  Anyways, since then, some people think they absolutely MUST have it.  This is one that I would agree, you must have.  As I write this, I'm actually sitting here enjoying a glass of it with an incredible cold smoked salmon, chopped salad that is a MUST MAKE, by the way, which you can find HERE.  People love it.  You will too.  I digress.  Back on topic.  Buy this wine!

Menage a Trois Silk. Blend (Pinot based). $10-12

In case you didn't know, Menage a Trois (traditional) is theee number 1 selling red wine in the state of Arizona.  It's probably that or close to that where you live too (if you're not here)!  So here's the new wine they're introducing and it's killing it.  It's tracking to be on par, if not surpassing their traditional blend.  Here's a hot tip: head into any Arizona Target and you'll see it front and center for a steal...

You are reading that right... $7.99 for this pupper is ridiculous.  For the value, it's a blend you can't beat.

Coppola Claret.  Cabernet Sauvignon. $16-$18

You know this brand.  Francis Ford Coppola?  The famous director turned wine maker?  Check it out.  It's an impressive bottle.  Something you could bring people as a gift if they're hosting Thanksgiving or any holiday occasion.  It's a large, balanced Cabernet that guests will enjoy.  The bottle has the extra touch of net strewn over it so that it resembles old world Europeans bottles.  Plus, here's a money saving tip: you can grab this HUGE version (seen below) at Costco for 60 bucks (it's 4 bottles in 1) - do the math - not bad, eh?

Bottom line, it's a fabulous Cab and for the price and presentation - hard to beat!

That is all my friends.  Hope I helped.  You can find most of these at all your major grocers and wine/liquor stores.  Most will be on special during these holiday weeks.  Some of the prices mentioned above could get EVEN BETTER!  So enjoy your family, food and festivities this holiday and don't forget to pass the wine!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Simply Grateful

The Headlines:

Life is never simple.  

But maybe it is... simple to be grateful.

In the blogging world lately, due to the time of year there's been a lot of talk about "teaching kids to be grateful & thankful."  Of course it's something every parent strives to do.  Yet for children, I think that's a hard, perhaps impossible, "lesson" to learn.  They're kids.  They may just learn "How To Be Grateful" when you're not paying attention.

On Sunday, November 8th, our house flooded.  The washing machine in our laundry room malfunctioned in a very big way.  We were on a walk.  When we came home there was water, 2 inches deep in our laundry room, down our long hallway, down another hallway, into our office, dining room and it started to trickle towards the front door.

It was a complete and total mess.  The water covered our fairly new, gorgeous wood floors we put in our house not too long ago.  But after stopping the water that was flowing from the washing machine, we didn't cry or moan or even pause.  We went to work.  With the help of my husband and 2 little children we got all the water out.  Well, most of it.  Our family came together, we didn't crumble, we conquered.  We floated to the top of our flooded house.

Today we're drying out.  It's going to cost a boat load of money, it's hot and super noisy but we'll be okay.

We have water restoration people here, appliance people here, friends here. It's fixable.  And we're thankful.  Everyone's okay, life will get better and we'll go on through the mess.

It made me stop and think about a topic I was already pondering: Being Grateful.  Perhaps when you get too comfortable, life throws you a curve ball.  A reminder to stop, evaluate, focus, balance, work, love and then re-evaulate.  Lately, I've been a little off kilter.  Nothing major, just off.  Not sure why.  Feeling overwhelmed for probably silly reasons really.  So maybe this is the universes way (or God's way - whichever you believe) to get me back in line.  Reminding me not to sweat the small stuff.  Instead, to appreciate and do the best with everyday you're given.

Think about it.  There really are constant reminders of this in our daily lives.  But are you seeing them?

I have a friend.  She's an amazing talent and spirit and caretaker of people.  Her story is long and convoluted and complicated.  But a few years ago life was really good.  She opened a dream business, bought a new house, had a strong, lovely family and was on top of the world!  But no sooner than she opened that business, did challenges settle in.  She was hit with a whopping (and ludicrous) lawsuit and has been in court fighting it ever since.  On top of that, a partner stole an exorbitant amount of money from her, her lawyers over billed her (for work they DID NOT do) and she was in danger of losing everything.  She almost caved entirely.  But she didn't.  She made a pointed decision to carry on,  let go and be grateful for what she does have: herself, her family and her life's work are all still there.  They will survive.  Even if something else doesn't.

Today she's at peace and is thankful strength still lives in her.  Turns out we all have that inside of us.  We just don't always know it.  Until we're reminded.  By something little... or something really big.

Last week, a California woman and fellow mommy blogger by the name of Melissa Matters died after she suffered a severe stroke.  She was put on life support and several days later, taken off by her family.  Matters was young and vibrant, a wife and mother and now she's gone.  Just gone.  Taken way too early.  I'm sure her friends and family are left in shock and horror over their sudden loss.  In fact, they started a "Go Fund Me" donation page in her honor, you can find it HERE.  Her blog is called "Wading Through Motherhood," you can click it: www.wadingthroughmotherhood.com  I didn't know her personally, other than maybe a Facebook comment exchange or two, but it doesn't matter because she IS me.  She is like all of us.  Every other mother out there trying to make each day count for themselves and for their children.  That's a job she can no longer do.

But we can.  All the career and stay at home, overworked, busy, confused, money strapped, exhausted, scheduled, chaotic Moms who are still here can continue to do that job with pride and resilience.

Feeling grateful now?

The lessons are always there if you choose to see them.  They don't need to slap you up side the head like the ones above.  You don't need a lawsuit levied against you or a flood to rise.  It's easy to just... be... grateful.  Your children will see that and learn that.   It will not only make them grateful little kids but it probably will turn them into really really really GREAT people!

Our family had a flood.  So we came together, we dried out and we floated to the top.  Turns out being grateful is pretty simple after all.

Watch my Periscope on the matter.  *Warning: Some of it may be hard to hear due to the LOUD FANS drying out my house!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The BEST Homemade Soup in the world!

The Headlines:

Thanksgiving is here.

What's on your menu?


I'll admit.  I'm having a hard time this year.  I feel like there's 1 thousand things going on every second of the day.  999 of them I'm not doing.  For some reason, I just feel a little out of sorts and it's bugging me.  Shoot, I can't even keep up with this blog.  I'm down to like once a week.  Being a stay at home Mom is harder than you'd think and the time... just.. flies... by.  Forget about a job.  I know I "work".  But I mean one where you have to clock in, ask for time off, you know A REAL one!?  I salute every single working mother out there.  I do.  Especially now.  During this time of year.  And Summer.   Actually any days children are out of school.  I digress.  Back to the point.

The biggest eating day of the YEAR is upon us and we're having it here.  We always do.  Don't get me wrong, I like doing it.  But usually I know exactly what I'm serving by now.  This year I do not.  See, I love trying new things and this holiday is perfect for test drives.  Sometimes, we go traditional (with a twist): (smoked) turkey, (apple)stuffing, (cream cheese)mashed potatoes, broccoli something-er-other!  But I've also been known to veer off a bit... serving anything from chili to steak on the big bird day.  Plus I really like courses: cocktails, appetizers, starters, main and desert.

I'll figure out mine soon.  But we all need to get on the menu now.  And this Celery Soup with Caramelized Apple & Blue Cheese toppings MUST be on yours!

It truly is the best soup in the world.  First made by a woman, I know not, in Scottsdale, Arizona by the name of Rita King.  And let me tell you... she's the QUEEN of this soup!  Hail King Rita.  What makes this soup is what you put on top of it.  It's just a tad of creamy, tangy goodness which compliments the vegetable lusciousness below.  The sautéed apples and blue cheese absolutely adds just enough to the balance of the subtle celery taste of the soup.


And as always... easy to make.  Yes, more labor intensive than opening a can but worth every extra minute!

Here's what you need:
2 head of celery (separated and chopped in large slices)
1 onion, chopped
2 quarts of reduced sodium chicken broth
4 tbspns butter
2 granny smith apples, finely chopped
1 cup half and half
salt and pepper
1/2 cup or more of chopped fresh parsley
crumbled blue cheese (if you don't like blue, use goat or maybe nothing)

Here's what you do:
In a large pot, boil celery and onion in broth with lid on until tender... 30 minutes.  Celery should be very soft.  Then, blend celery in blender until smooth.  Add half and half, mix together.  Sprinkle in salt and pepper.  In a separate frying pan, use butter to sautee apple bits until carmelized.  Pour soup, sprinkle apples, blue cheese and parsley topping each bowl of soup.  Serves about 8, depending on portions.  Prepare to be WOWed!  Check it out close up!

It is theeeee perfect "starter" course" on Thanksgiving or any day!  Absolutely, positively the BEST Homemade soup in the world!

© One Picky Chick. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.