Monday, May 23, 2011

Memories of a perfect day. and ponies.

I am so busy that I think I might explode.

My life goes in cycles of boredom and crazed panic-filled frenzy. Right now I am experiencing the latter. To be fair, it is 100% my own fault. I say yes to a lot of things, and most of those things are fun, like being a bridesmaid and throwing a wedding shower, or helping a friend design a logo, or offering to make a 30" diameter pinata by hand (this will be another post in the near future). The list goes on and on. Suffice it to say, I've maybe bitten off a little more than I can chew. And usually I can chew a lot.

Today however, I'd like to take a trip down memory lane to one of the most relaxing days I've had in recent history. It was a blustery Sunday afternoon about 2 weeks ago, and my friends Daniel and Lauren and I went to the Annual Malibu Family Wines Pick-Up party. The three of us are members of a wine club there, and every May, they throw a big party at the Saddlerock Ranch. It's invite only, and you can bring a date, so obviously, I brought my good friend Annalise (who you may remember from other Beach City Girl adventures, like this one). Now, I've been a member of this wine club for a couple of months, and have been to the Malibu Family Wines tasting room dozens of times, but nothing could prepare me for how absolutely paradise-like the estate is.

It's like a painter put that one tiny cloud in the sky.

The Saddlerock.

We drove up a winding road, through vineyards and fields, past horses, zebras, camels, peacocks, llamas (my favorite!), and some of the most gorgeous countryside I've ever seen.

Miniature pony. His name is Shaggy-do. or at least it should be.

I'm a writer, and I'm prone to exaggeration (I admit it), but this place took my breath away. Everywhere we looked there were little ponds, and waterfalls, and rose gardens, and that was just the natural beauty! In addition to all of that, there were white tents filled with appetizers, and cute little sitting areas, and a Spanish guitar duo, and wine. Oh my. So much wine. It was lovely. Normally, the assortment of wines and their ready availability might have gotten the best of me, but that didn't happen because there were tiny plates of tomato-basil quiche, sun-dried tomato and tangerine quinoa, tiny meatballs and gravy, and brownies and cookies, and strawberries, and cheese plates, and I tried them all (at least twice).

There's not much more I can say to describe how perfect this day was. It got crowded quickly, so we ended up sitting on the grass, but even that was divine. We laid out, and let the sunshine and the breeze wash over us, while we sipped good wine, and laughed, and listened to beautiful Spanish guitar music. And then, just when we thought things couldn't get any better, we went and played with the miniature ponies.

This may not seem very exciting, but trust me, it was. Those ponies were a hoot. As you can probably tell they were very friendly. They kind of reminded me of mischievous, scruffy little children running around and trying to eat things they shouldn't.

Lauren's pony was eye-ing her wine glass the whole time. Lush.
The fairytale ending to this perfect day was that we all got to be together, we took home three bottles of wine, and we took pictures with a camel. That's right, a camel. And while I'm not in possession of these particular photos, as soon as they are sent to me, I will add them to the post, because during the photo session, the camel tried to eat Lauren's hair. Seriously. He bit her on the head.

If that's not the perfect end to a perfect day, I don't know what is.

Anyhow, in the midst of my craziness, I try to recreate the utter contentment of that day at Saddlerock Ranch. There's something about spending an afternoon in the sun with friends that makes me feel calm, happy and relaxed. My goal is to recall that feeling later this week when I'm 10 seconds away from spontaneous combustion. I'll let you know how that works out.

P.S. If any of you are in Southern California, and interested in being a wine club member, I highly recommend Malibu Family Wines. Their wine is great, the membership is super affordable ($43 per quarter), and I always have a fabulous time whenever I visit their tasting room. Annalise liked it so much she signed up on the spot at the pick-up party. I can't say enough good things. Check them out here: Malibu Family Wines

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tall, Dark, and Handsome Turnovers

So, I posted a photo on my facebook yesterday, and it caused a bit of a commotion. I don't know if it's the novelty of eating chocolate for breakfast, or if it's just that I pretty much admitted that I'd rather be laying in bed with this treat than getting up and doing anything productive (see caption), but people seemed overly overly scandalized, if not envious, so I figured I'd come clean about how easy it was, and post the recipe so everyone can enjoy it. I should also admit, that yes, I did make myself go to work after I made this.

Here it is:

  • 1 ready made (refrigerated) puff-pastry pie crust (I usually like Pillsbury, but this time I used one from Whole Foods because it was the only one I could find. Don't judge me). 
  • 1 1/2 cups blackberries (or raspberries)
  • 4 tbsp. Nutella

Spread out the pastry dough and cut into quarters. Dollop one tablespoon of nutella onto each quarter. Top each quarter with whole berries, and then fold up the corners (like a three-cornered hat!). Bake in the oven at 450 for forty minutes or until golden brown and flaky.

Turnovers. As in, "I'd like to turnover and go back to bed with this".

At the end of that 40 minutes of baking, your kitchen is going to be filled with the most delightful bubbling, berry and chocolate aroma, which will effectively paralyze you and force you to stay in bed and eat this.

At least, that's what you should tell your boss happened when you show up late for work with chocolate on your face.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Words From My Mother

My mother taught me pretty much everything I know, and not a day goes by that I don't hear things in my head that she said to me when I was growing up. She is a strong, funny, smart and beautiful woman, and as I get older, I appreciate her more and more, and I'm increasingly grateful for, and in awe of how much she put up with me.

Some classic gems that I remember her saying during my childhood were,

"No fighting! You better put those fists away!" (This was usually directed at my brothers.)

"Ahem? Attitude adjustment, Missy?"** (I heard this phrase about once a day from ages 8 to 18.)

 "Don't lick your ice cream bowl, Sweetheart; that's very unbecoming." (same goes for this one. In my defense, my Dad says it's okay.)

"What's up, Peanut-Butter-Sandwich-Cookie?  (term of endearment)

"Walk in love."

I have lots more quotes, ranging from "Go upstairs and change." to "Have you lost your ever-loving mind?!" but the last one listed is one that has really stuck with me. It's one that my Mom you used to say when I came home from school crying because girls were mean, or when I was frustrated with my siblings, and I have to admit that sometimes it felt trite and overused. It wasn't until I was older that I really understood what it meant.

I watched my mother for years, making sacrifices, doing things that were hard for her, and putting herself last, and I used to wonder why, and think that I could never be that selfless. I finally realized that the driving force behind those sacrifices was how much she loved my me and my siblings, and other people in general.

My mom is one of the most loving, and forgiving people I know, so when I hear her say "Walk in love" it's something I know she lives everyday. I've seen her go out of her way to make sure a single mother at our church had money for diapers. My mom once rescued a hooker from a pimp on a bicycle.  And if you think that's wild, she once made me a Big Bird cake from scratch, and threw a New Kids on the Block-themed pool party for my cousin, while 8-months pregnant with my sister, all while my Dad was deployed to Saudi Arabia.

If that's not walking in love, then I don't know what is. Last year, I got those words tattooed on my foot, to remind me to be patient, and kind, and loving with people, even when it's not easy.

I strive to be like my mother more and more everyday. She's an inspiration to me and I hope that one day I can be half as good of a mother, wife, friend, teacher, and woman as she is.

Me and my role model, Joy Angela Royston.

**Another runner-up phrase to this one was brought up frequently when I would cop an attitude and put my hands on my hips. My mom would glance at me and say, "Take your hands off your imagination, girl." Suffice it to say, I was a bean-pole for many years before I developed this um, somewhat-voluptuous figure.