Catching Up from a Winter Wonderland

It’s been a very long time since I last posted, and to be honest, it was because we have been so busy! I haven’t had time to sit and write lately. However, I promised myself that I would make more time for blogging and writing, which I love.

I have been getting a lot of requests for pictures from the holidays, so here are a few! We spent some of the holiday in Florida, and then flew home to open presents and celebrate with the family. After our first major snow storm (30+ inches) we hunkered down and made snow ice cream and had some awesome croissants and champagne….you can guess which was for the kids and which was for the adults! Hope you all are staying warm and had a happy New Year! More soon… Xx

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Summer in the Valley

This summer’s travel has been nothing but crazy exquisiteness; a paradise in Noir, Pinot Noir that is! Ayoub, Soter, Colene Clemens, and Alexana were a few of our stops along the way. Thank you to Mo (Ayoub) and Dr. Revana (Revana Vineyards in St. Helena/Alexana in Newberg) for hosting us at your beautiful vineyards! I also had the immense pleasure of meeting Lindsay Woodard (of Retour- do yourself a favor and try and get your hands in an ’07)! Such a lovely lady!! 


   

  

  
      

  

   

An Open Letter to a Daycare Provider

 Before I begin this, I wanted to provide some background. A few months ago, I decided to begin the process of job hunting, 6 months after welcoming my third child. I am fortunate enough that the choice to go back to work was a personal one. To my surprise, the first application I put in, resulted in a job offer from a Fortune 200 company, with a six-figure salary. I accepted and a start date was set. I was also fortunate enough to find a local faith-based daycare provider, through a friend-of-a-friend. But, something in my heart kept saying something wasn’t right- that “this may not be the best decision for you and your family at this time.” After much soul searching, I declined the corporate offer and informed the daycare that my son would no longer be attending. I cut a check to the daycare for the months payment, on top of our deposit, and went about life as it had been. Then, I was met with a scathing voice mail from the daycare provider and I decided to write an open letter…in defense of all moms who have been where I am.

Dear “Louise,”

I wanted to thank you in advance for your voice mail this afternoon. I am so sorry we could not connect. I have to say that I was honestly surprised to hear your tone and words of your voice mail. You said “How could I?” and that I was “unfair” and “unkind” and most importantly, you called me “irresponsible.” How does one respond to that? My faith…tells me to respond with truth.

I am “unkind.” Hmm… well, in my heart of hearts, I had only the best intentions, as any mother would. I vetted you out through my community of mothers. I believed that a faith-based daycare provider would be the next-best-thing in terms of care for my precious son. But, while on vacation a funny thing happened. Like most kids his age, my son came down with a fever. He was lethargic and all he wanted to do was sit in my lap and be snuggled all day. I looked at him sleeping on my chest and thought of the previous years with my other two children, where working was a necessity. I (like many mothers) had faced a semi-sick child at 6:45 AM and thought…”Will he be ‘OK enough to go to daycare today? I can’t miss another day of work.” Now, as I sat there holding my sick 10 month old, I thought about how “unkind” it would be to give him Tylenol and send him to daycare, while I went off to work, hoping the the phone would not ring at noon, when the Tylenol wore off and I was in an “important” meeting.

I thought about my other two children…my daughter who faced a severe health scare earlier this year; the pain and humiliation she went through at school every day during her recovery. The countless numbers of times I had to drive to school in the middle of the day to administer her medicine, and the times I cried in the school parking lot when I saw her sitting alone at lunch, because kids were so scared of the visible side effects of her infection. How I could tell what kind of day she had by her body language and the look on her face when she approached the car, at parent-loop. How I played Taylor Swift “Shake It Off,” on repeat on the bad days, while we drove to get frozen yogurt in the dead of winter, and I choked back tears behind my sunglasses, while she sang along in the back seat…smiling back at me. How “unkind” it would be for me to miss helping her in those moments. I thought about my other son, who had begun sports and so desperately wanted to look across the field and see me cheering him on. Yes, missing that for my own ambitions would definitely be “unkind.”

And then, I thought about me. My decision to not go back to work was “unfair.” You are correct. In some ways, it was unfair to me. After much soul-searching, prayer and reflection, I decided to put my desires on hold, to take care of my family. I will readily admit, that I have that luxury, but it does not come without a price, in some form or another. But, it is a price I am happy to pay at this moment in my life, and in the life of my family. As a “woman of faith,” I would hope you would understand this, without passing unjust judgement.

“Irresponsible.” Well, with all due respect…How dare you? Frankly, you don’t know me well enough to make an assumption of that magnitude. I find it irresponsible for you to have the audacity to tell a mother who struggled with her own personal aspirations and the juggling a young family- that choosing to be home with her family, over a career and placing her child in your care, is “irresponsible.” My loyalty and my responsibility is to my family. Not you. My son was a “slot” you will readily fill, but I cannot get back the time I would loose if I made that decision, at this moment in my life.

Most of all, I really just wanted to say thank you. In the days prior to your voice mail, with shaky hands and butterflies in my stomach, I hit the send button on an email resignation letter, for a job I had yet to start. For days, I panicked…Was I doing the right thing? Was this the best choice? What had I just given up? Would I ever get this back? But, then you called, and it became so very clear: I made the right choice.

After all, putting my son in your care, would be “unkind” and “irresponsible.” I mean…how could I?

Manresa: A Summer Garden of Eden

Last night we had the ultimate dining pleasure at Manresa, in downtown Los Gatos. To be specific, it was an exquisite tasting menu showcasing the brilliant imagination of Chef Kinch with high-quality, locally sourced seasonal ingredients. We also participated in the wine pairing option with our meal, skillfully selected by sommelier Jim Rollston which brought rich selections in Burgundy, the Loire Valley, and the Northern Rhône. Here are a few of the selections I particularly enjoyed!

Sorrel, Sunflower & Sterling Caviar


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Into the Garden, Green & Bitter…

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Seafood, Green Gazpacho “Mariniere”


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Halibut in Lemon Verbena Broth, Gooseberry

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Roast Veal, Sweet Breads, Onions with Espelette

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Tidal Pool, Foie Gras

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Frozen Cherry, Lime & Plum Wine

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Pickled Apricot & Gingerbread, its Noyau Sherbet…

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…Mint Chocolate Sable with Goat’s Milk

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Our beverage pairing hosted an array of fantastic options:

Gran Classico, Lemon, Champagne
Mercy, Mercy… a Manresa/Sante Adairius Rustic Ales Collaboration)
Andre Ostertag, Sylvaner “Vieilles Vignes,” Alsace 2013
Valdespino, Manzanilla Sherry “Deliciosa” NV
Domaine Coastal, Chablis “Vaillons” 2003
Michel Gros, Vosne-Romanee “Aux Brulees” 2011
Philippe Faury, Saint-Joseph “Vielles Vignes” 2012
Damilano, Barolo “Riserva 2000
Charles Hours, Jurancon “Clos Uruolat” 2012
Disznoko, Tokaji Azsu “5 Puttonyos” 2007

Happy 4th of July from Bethany Beach!

I11141361_10152934426791190_1924532683893357314_o know I know, it has been a very long time since I last blogged, but in my defense, I have been snuggling up with this new little guy.  And running a household with three small children has me utterly exhausted at the end of the day! Luckily, we have been able to escape the burbs and head to the beach for a few weeks for some fun in the sun and a little relaxation…well as much as you can get with three little ones running opposite directions!

IMG_4432We spent the holiday in the Town of Bethany Beach, which is the most adorable family-oriented town in Delaware. The weather was beautiful and what made this holiday even more special was that it was William’s first 4th of July and my parents were able to join us for the 4th. Luckily the weather held out and we were able to watch the fireworks on the beach. We were about a block away from where they were set off and we had the most amazing view!

IMG_4490If you know anything about the DelMarVa, you know we love our crabs, and I am no exception. We put Old Bay on our Old Bay! We finished out one of our final nights trying out a little crab house know as Mickey’s Family Crab House. It was packed and I can tell you, the all you can eat snow crab legs deal is the best in town! I can’t rave enough about it this tiny little gem. We have definitely added this to our “must-visit” places when we return in a few weeks.

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 9.25.18 PMAnd you know if you are at the shore in Delaware, you have to visit the Tanger outlets in Rehoboth Beach.  Everything from Lacoste, Polo Ralph Lauren, Vineyard Vines, Tommy Hilfiger, etc. I picked up a great LRL scarf I can’t wait to wear! I just love the pink, green, and yellow!

Well, that is it for now… more to come as we are literally here and there in the coming weeks. A lot is changing again on my end and I will have some fun updates and will certainly promise to write a lot more!

Xx,
me

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics: What it Means + Where to Find Them!

leaping bunny logoIn the simplest explanation, ‘cruelty-free’ cosmetics companies ensure that none of their products are tested on animals. When buying products that are cruelty-free, you want to look for the “Leaping Bunny” seal on the product and/or the website. Only products bearing the Leaping Bunny mark are certified ‘cruelty free’ under the rigorous internationally-recognized Humane Cosmetics or Humane Household Products Standards. You can read more about that here.

Favorite Cruelty-Free Drugstore Makeup

Burt’s Bees

This planet-friendly brand also has a robust makeup line that is also animal-testing free. While they do clearly identify the Leaping Bunny logo on their products, they are owned by Clorox. Clorox does test on animals, so this could be a conflict of interest for you if you due to their parent company.

Flower Cosmetics

I started using this brand not too long ago, as I was intrigued after watching an interview with Drew Barrymore. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised! I am in love with their lip gloss and the Skincognito stick foundation, which is a gym-bag essential for me. Please note: the brand is only available at Wal-Mart.

NYX

This is a brand I really like and use a lot in my own everyday makeup and with clients. Just for clarity, the L’Oreal acquisition does not change NYX’s ethical policies as they continue to be cruelty-free. In addition, “most products are vegan/gluten-free, but some do contain animal derived ingredients and/or could contain gluten. Always read the label for every product do It is best for the customer to decipher if there is any ingredient that could be derived from animals and/or contains gluten.” Happy shopping!

Physicians Formula

In addition to being a great option for our sensitive skin ladies, this makeup brand is also kind to animals. My personal favorites are the bronzers, and they do have a great product line for mature women that ranges from anti-aging to hormonal aging products.

Here are a few other drugstore brands to check out:

  • Nuance by Salma Hayek (exclusively at CVS)
  • Milani
  • ELF
  • Kiss My Face
  • Wet ‘n Wild


Additional Brands that are Easily Accessible

bareMinerals/Bare Essentuals /BUXOM

bareMinerals makeup is one of my personal favorites especially when I need to give my skin a break from traditional foundation and in the summer months. Make sure you use the primer or you will not achieve your desired look!

The company does state that they do not conduct animal testing or work with manufacturers that do…however, their “natural hair” makeup brushes are made of goat and pony hair. While they claim no animals are hurt in the making of the brushes, they do have high a nice variety of high-end synthetic brushes for consumers who are looking for non-animal haired brushes.

Urban Decay

You can find this at your local Sephora and this cruelty-free brand has a plethora of awesome products. I use their eye shadow primer on almost all of my clients. Love it! They do have some vegan certified products as well, if that is your thing!

The Body Shop

Tried and true, this brand has been around for a while and has a great selection of cruelty-free products for your makeup needs. Personal favorite: All-in-One BB Cream– fantastic for your skin and doesn’t settle into fine lines. Win win!

Jane

Cruelty-free, Women Owned and eco-friendly. What I love most about this company is that not only are they kind to our furry friends, but owner and CEO Lynn Tilton is passionate about creating and saving American jobs. Check out their eye shadow sets and lip-gloss sets for under $20.00 at your local Ulta and some Kohl’s retailers.

There is a ton of information out there, but like all things, the more educated you are, the better decision you will be able to make for yourself. Here are a few more helpful links:

Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics Shopping Guide

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)

Leaping Bunny