Monthly Archives: January 2012

Ending the Ban

At midnight tonight, the shopping ban is officially over.  And now that I can shop?  I don’t really have the urge to.

I can’t say that living with the same wardrobe for the past two months has inspired me to purge any pieces.  Or drastically rehabilitate my style.

I pretty much still love all of it.

Which is good, I guess.  The idea of “paring things down” sounded appealing in that Edgy People Who Own All Black Capsule Wardrobes-sort of way.  But we all know I’m not the girl who lives that way.

But I am able to recognize which pieces I bought because I really loved them and which pieces I bought because I had “nothing” to wear.  You know, wardrobe fatigue.  We all suffer from it.  Some of us (moi) more than others.  Which is part of what I wanted to curb through this.

I did cheat once.  Because they were the two things that were so freakishly cheap, I couldn’t pass them up.

Y’all know I love me a good Rue La La Lilly Pulitzer Flash Sale.

Resort Wear is my kryptonite.

But going into it, I visualized.  I thought about the very specific-sort of things I would be willing to bring into my closet.  Which gave me permission to walk away if those “deals” weren’t there.

My haul?

Just call it Country Club Cammoflauge.

While I was hanging these two in the closet, I discovered a dress that I snagged at the Banana Republic outlet on Black Friday for like…$6.  No, seriously.  It was an extremely pleasant surprise.  Both buying it AND re-discovering it.

That I’m still “finding” things in my closet I didn’t know I owned means I can probably drag this experiment out a little longer while I wait for that personal style-epiphany to strike.

How often do you buy things because you don’t have anything to wear?

When is the last time your personal style shifted drastically?

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Identify and listen to my hunger cues.

Most important issue of business: Blogger-users, if you don’t have your comments set to accept Name/URL as a commenter option, open it up.  I know I’ve been having terrible problems lately trying to comment on Blogger-run blogs and I just have this feeling that I’m not the only one.

Now that we’ve addressed that, the big show.

This week in Healthy Living Resolutions, #2 Identify and listen to my hunger cues.

What we already know: I am terrible at being hungry.  Because I learned long ago that when my stomach growls, I’m usually just extremely thirsty.  When I’m officially, beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt hungry?  I’m either past the point of hangriness or feel extremely nauseous.

Marcus likes to compare it to that scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Emily Blunt’s character describes her diet as waiting until she feels as if she’s going to pass out before eating a cube of cheese.

How useful.  Right?

Right.

So for me, learning about my hunger cues has just as much to do with what I’m hungry for as it does learning when I’m hungry.

I know we’ve all been in that place where we eat everything in the house in search of what it is that we actually want. OR we eat every “healthy” thing in our pantry to avoid eating a small bit of the “unhealthy” option that we really want.

In both situations, we end up eating a lot more of things that we have no interest in consuming than in the things that we actually do.

It’s actually kind of hysterical, except for the part where it’s not, because we do this to ourselves all the time.

Obviously we can’t eat what we crave every single time.  A world covered in sprinkles and frosting (while delicious) will take you…somewhere.  But that place is probably not on the other side of the finish line.

When I find myself in the mood to munch, I try to figure out what it is that I actually want.  Things like “salty” or “sweet” are too vague.  Things like “cookie” or “green?”  Are absolutely more useful.

Tonight, I found myself in a house without cookies (not even in the freezer! ).  So it only makes sense that I was craving a Oreo.  It was exactly what wasn’t going to materialize from the cabinet in front of me.

But what I did have were graham crackers, fig butter from Trader Joe’s and peanut butter from Hell’s Kitchen.  Crunchy.  Salty.  Sweet.  Creamy.

MUCH closer to The Real Thing than, say, dark chocolate.  Yes, it’s an all time favorite.  And it will always hold a special place in my heart.  But it will never, ever be a cookie.  Chopped to bits and folded in one?  Maybe.

It’s the same way in which I’ve come to the place where I’ve been snarfing Blood Oranges like they’re giving them away, and tossing bits of shredded coconut in my morning oatmeal like I live on some sort of tropical island.

I’m trying to enjoy little bits (or large bits for those less calorie-dense foods) of things I really want.  Which at this moment in time, probably resembles a Pina Colada more closely than anything else.  But it’s much better than choosing to eat lots of bits that will just leave me wanting (and eating!) more.

Where Intuitive Eating never made any sense to me, this is actually starting to.

What do you do to avoid eating everything in the pantry when a craving strikes?

What are the little luxuries that make your meals/snacks fabulous?

Napa.

We’re home!  And even though I’m absolutely exhausted, I know that if I don’t get it all out now, it’s never happening.  So please, bear with me as I drag you on a mini-version of our trip to Napa.

Our accommodations.  Nestled just slightly north of Downtown Napa and just slightly south of Yountville.

No. 2 at the cottages

Just call it a luxury shanty.

While we never got around to using the fire pit, we definitely enjoyed the private patio, the en suite jacuzzi tub and the daily breakfast basket.  My waistline may never forgive me for the ridiculous number of scones and pecan rolls I consumed, but I have never seen that much caramel or maple drizzle at breakfast.

Ever.

I’m also trying to come to terms with the fact that I will never eat a pecan roll that tastes like that again in my entire natural life.

It’s a real process.  I’m already planning on spending a longer-than-average period of time in denial.

If you couldn’t tell from this post, we didn’t actually plan any of our trip beyond lodging and the one Groupon I purchased for a winery tour/tasting that we did on our first day while we got our bearings.

So as we roamed from vineyard to vineyard, and in and out of tasting rooms, we gathered more suggestions and recommendations than we knew what to do with!  Knowing what I know now, I would do it all over again that way in a heartbeat.

There were no expectations.  Only adventures.

Chimney Rock

Amongst the other things we didn’t know about Napa before we went:

  1. Their primary grape is Cabernet Sauvignon.
  2. Beringer and Beaulieu Vineyard were the wineries that survived Prohibition by (and this is hysterical) making the sacramental wine for the Catholic Church.
  3. The Stag’s Leap 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon is what put American wine on the map after it won a blind tasting in Paris in 1976.

Oh, and also?  January is their super-off season.  So we spent the majority of our trip alone in tasting rooms.  Which was actually pretty incredible, because we would get tours we didn’t ask for, more extra tastings than we knew what to do with and people would chat with us and answer our questions until we were exhausted.  It was like our own personal, wine-laden playground.

We ate.

Yes, of course besides breakfast.

Though when I try to think about enjoying a specific meal, I am greeted by the whole instead of each of the parts.

I made a list of all of the places we hit in order of most delicious and wonderful to least delicious and wonderful.  And yes, I realize that a taco I ate over my lap in the rental car does not operate on the same plane as watching the sun set over the pines with a glass of wine in-hand from the top of a mountain.  Which is to say, that nothing we ate was actually bad.  And had we actually eaten more than the world’s most expensive french fries, we could have ranked some places on feast-quality rather than on ambience alone.

For reference, see Exhibit A.

La Luna Market y Taqueria

I know.  I KNOW.

Anyway, that list I was promising.

  • Tortilleria y Taqueria Jalisco
  • La Luna Market and Taqueria
  • Giugni’s
  • Auberge du Soleil (hands-down one of the most beautiful views I have EVER seen.  Thank you for sharing this one, Lauren!)
  • Oxbow Public Market (Kitchen Door, Pica Pica Bar, C Casa)
  • Mustard’s Grill
  • Gott’s Roadside
  • Oenotri

We managed to visit three of the seven restaurants on the bon appetit Must Do in Napa list and ironically the Kitchen Door at Oxbow (we did the Armenian Fold + Eat Flatbread) was the best food we ate on that list.

I still can’t figure that one out.  But it was fantastic and unlike anything I had ever eaten before.

And finally, the vineyards/wineries/tasting rooms.  Because obviously, that’s why we went to wine country in the first place.  Our concierge told us that most people try to do three tastings a day.  Which Marcus and I found to be absolutely hilarious.  So we channeled our younger selves and Went Big.  Which, as it turns out, is the difference between doing 12 tastings and doing 22.

Hendry Ranch

Yes, seriously.

Like I said before, we never had to fight for attention anywhere, so even when it was mediocre, it was still a pretty spectacular version of “average.”

St. Clement

Must Go

  • Hendry Ranch (Erin, you were not kidding about this place!)
  • Elyse (Sally, you get a Gold Star for suggesting this tasting)
  • Praeger’s Port Works
  • St. Clement (sourced via Molly)
  • Baldacci
  • Chimney Rock
  • Stag’s Leap
  • Rutherford Hill

They Weren’t Life Changing

  • Domaine Chandon (but these were the sparkles we had time for)
  • Cakebread
  • Elizabeth Spencer (they did have a gorgeous garden and hospitality tent out back though)
  • Louis Martini
  • Beringer
  • Chateau St. Jean (a great place to start the trip with a Groupon, but not profoundly memorable)
  • Regusci
  • Provenance

Cheap/Give Out Coupons

  • August Briggs
  • Sutter Home
  • Folie a Deux
  • BV
  • V. Sattui (the girl we were working with looked like Fake Katy Perry and she was hysterical)
  • Cosentino

And, as the cherry on top of the cake, this weekend was an unseasonably warm one for the Northern California winter.  So we enjoyed temperatures that hovered around 70 without a cloud in the sky.  It was the closest thing possible to heaven.

What was the best part of your weekend?  Did you watch a Real Housewives marathon?  Go skiing?  Action some gorgeous treats?

Totally Unplanned

Kittens, before Galina’s bachelorette party in Madison, I had never taken my running shoes with me on vacation.

And yet, on this trip, I’m so very glad I did.  Because at the beginning of the day, there are so many things happening that you can’t just pay to see.

The mustard in full bloom as the sun rises.

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The majesty of the Eucalyptus.

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And to be able to witness the launch of three hot air balloons on a chilly morning.

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These aren’t things you can just “plan.”

You know?

What is the most beautiful unplanned sight you’ve seen on vacation?

Friday Food Round-Up!

Obviously we didn’t do a ton of cooking , but we definitely made sure to squeeze some in before we made our big escape.

Marcus continues to tease me about trying to secretly turn us into vegans.  I continue to promise him that I have no intention of forever-eliminating meat and dairy from our diet.

Sunday – Blood Orange Salad

Translation: Blood Orange Segments drizzled with olive oil and topped with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.

I should probably be ashamed of the fact that in a week’s time, I’ve made it my personal goal to take down 10 of these.  But I justify it because we ALL need Vitamin C (maybe my immune system is trying to tell me something?), and it is perfect, whole, food.

As an added bonus, I’m now extremely practiced at segmenting oranges.  For the win.

Sunday – Red Lentil-Cauliflower Curry from Veganomicon

Truth: We didn’t use red lentils because they don’t sell them at Cub.  So instead we used…Normal Brown Lentils.

There is probably a point in my life where the difference between the two will be hugely important to me, but for the moment, ignorance is bliss.  Lentils are lentils.

I almost forgot the cumin, which is a major make-or-break in pretty much every Indian dish we ever make.  Thankfully, I tasted it and realized that A Seriously Important Something had gone missing.

Vegan or not, Marcus informed me that this meal is welcome to join Our Rotation.  More blessedly, I was able to pop a large container of the stuff into the freezer.  Future Kat will be thanking Past Kat for that one.

Monday – Chicken with Creamy Mushrooms and Snap Peas from Great, Easy Meals over Smashed Potatoes

This recipe is one that I’ve put on our meal plan for weeks in a row and then never gotten around to making.  So when I was looking for something magnificent to adorn the dinner table, I decided that this chicken dish deserved its time in the sun.

I don’t know that I’ve ever cooked snap peas before for Marcus, so I was crossing my fingers on this one.  Thankfully, I had no need to worry.  He told me I was allowed to make it again and we tucked-in.  He also made the observation that through the prep-work and cooking, nothing about this meal seemed particularly “easy” to him.

I really enjoyed the chance to eat something over smashed potatoes.  Because I know we haven’t actioned anything on that order in forever.

Modifications: I dumped some bouquet garni into the dredging flour because it just seemed like otherwise the chicken’s flavor was going to be “fried.”  We used 2% milk instead of heavy cream.  Because that’s what I had around.

Have you found yourself stuck in a food rut lately?

Do you have any favorite vegan recipes?

Knocking It Out

Apparently it’s “warm” for winter here.  So it goes without saying that I LOVED knocking out six miles this morning in fifty degrees, wearing a tank top.

In all seriousness are we not all slaying ourselves over saw-it-while running sights like this?

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It was absolutely amazing to run past all of the vineyards and into downtown Yountville.

No, I’m never giving it back.

Nothing whets the appetite quite like running past ad hoc and Bouchon.

How did you move your body today?

Off The Grid Again

So, as per the usual, we’ve left without a trace.

This year, instead of escaping to the Caribbean, we decided that a vacation to Napa was in-order.  The last time I visited was my Freshman (?) year of college when Mom had  a business trip in Sacramento over spring break.  I talked her into bringing me with for a girl-adventure and we ended up spending a couple of nights in wine country as well.  It was just lovely.

Exhibit A.

The Old Faithful Geyser of California.

When Marcus and I were looking for places to stay, I REALLY wanted to find a B&B-type arrangement that would allow us to experience the countryside more personally and relax.  You know, since the Honeymoon was go-go-go.

Fact: When I’m going on excellent adventures, I like to feel like I’m really there, culturally.

Anyway, in exchange for three nights’ stay at the cottages, I swore up and down that I would go off the grid while we were on vacation.  Since this is the first time in a long while ever that we’ve vacationed in the continental U.S.  I don’t think the cabin counts.  I also promised that I wouldn’t tell anyone where we were staying until we weren’t in Minnesota anymore.

So this is me.  Going off the grid.  Putting my phone on airplane mode.

Obviously, I’ve arranged for an appropriate amount of entertainment in my absence.

Translation: Y’all might get a few peeks of wine country here and there.  The idea of back-blogging a ton or arranging for guest posters just wasn’t doing it for me this go-round.

What you need to know: If you don’t hear from me by Monday, call for help.

The place that we’re staying delivers freshly made pastries to your doorstep (we are staying in a for real cottage) from Bouchon for breakfast every morning and s’more making supplies at night.  Because we also have our own personal fire pit.  And heated tile floors.  And a jacuzzi tub.  Which for the girl who is allergic to chlorine, is the promise of heaven.

So maybe, if you don’t hear from me by Monday, don’t call for help.

Have you ever visited Napa?  What were your favorite vineyards/restaurants?

Not gonna lie, I will be checking the comments on this post tomorrow so that we can add some of these places to our list of Things To Do!  Please share!