St. Paddy’s Dinner, Winter Hike and Discovering Vintage Red Wines

We ended our staycation with a bunch of little things mixed with a whole lot of nothing.

Just the way I like it!

Friday night, we had my family over for some Irish Stew. To be honest, I am not a fan of stew. Or soup. On the occasion, I do enjoy a cup of soup as an appetizer, but unlike my husband or daughter, I don’t enjoy it as the main entree. My favorite for the evening was the beef bone marrow. We only had a small spoonful each but it was simply delicious!

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Beef shank bone marrow

And no, we did not use the new Ikea dishes – I’m still saving those for Easter. However, my mother did find the hand-me -down plates with the side-rust stains in a box we were ready to dispose of. She hoarded all of them. ALL OF THEM! I tried to explain to her there was rust on the side (not that she couldn’t see herself – you can’t miss it after all!) But she insisted she needed them.

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Frozen ponds are beautiful!

Being the last weekend before going back to work, I needed to make every moment count.

I did this with: a) a walk/hike; and b) red wine. Both we managed to squeeze in. In fact, we were able to go on a hike three times during our week off. I’m very happy with that. There’s something said about winter hikes – the chill in the air is refreshing, the frozen pond is still and beautiful and that feeling of warmth when you’re back indoors is just a wonderful feeling.

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SAVED Red Wine from California

The red wine was pretty much consistent every night while we were off. Our last night, we opened a new vintage find called SAVED. Very full-body and dry with a whopping 15% alcohol level. Just my type! And while they say to never judge a book by it’s cover, I totally judged a book by it’s cover. I’m glad I did – this was delicious!

 

The Art of Staycationing

stay·ca·tion
ˌstāˈkāSHn/
noun; informal
noun: staycation; plural noun: staycations; noun: stay-cation; plural noun: stay-cations
  1. a vacation spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.

We had gone over and over again how we wanted to spend our family week off during Chaeli’s March Break. Ideas included a Mexican cruise, Disneyland, Portugal, renting a cottage and of course, what we’ve been doing these past two years – skiing in Quebec.

Turned out, what we really need was a staycation. We needed to have no plans. We needed to chill out and have a loose schedule. We needed, also, to do some sorting and chucking. But mainly, we just needed to do a lot of nothing.

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I could start everyday with this avocado toast and scrambled eggs!

Of course, doing a lot of nothing usually amounts to doing something. But without the pressure of ‘having to see this’ and ‘having to do that.’

This past weekend was a bit more work – I spent a lot of my time sorting and chucking a very neglected walk-in closet. It’s nearly done – and I can’t wait. The last time my walk-in closet was this clean and organized, I would find myself sitting on the floor in the middle of it with a glass of wine, marveling at my results.

And you bet I’m going to do it again! Only this time it might be with a cold flute of Prosecco or Sparking Cava. My level of sophistication has elevated throughout the years after all.

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The final beautiful view of a frozen pond mid-point of our hike before we made our way back.

The real staycation day started today. My day played out wonderfully, starting with a 1 hour cardio at the gym while the lazier family members (i.e. everyone but me) slept in. When I came home mid-morning, I made a healthy breakfast for all then we went for an hour winter hike.

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Our reluctant teen who rather have stayed home to spend all day on the PS3

Whenever people hear how often we like to go adventuring outdoors – whether it be hiking, snowshoeing or camping – they share the same sentiment with one another, You guys are setting such an example for your daughter! She is so lucky to live such a rich life!

Not so sure she would agree. I remember in St. Maarten, one of the cruise ports, we explored by feet, sometimes going off the beaten path. She watched in horror as we went further and further away from the port until the vision of the ship became a disappearing small dot in the horizon. The thing is, she is young. But it’s evident Doug and I are more athletic and have more stamina.

I’m sure one day she will look back and really be thankful of what we ‘make’ her do. And even though she’s not as enthusiastic when we’re getting ready for our hike, once she gets going, she does get into her own meditative state. And I can see it relaxing her. Of course, that state seems to disappear as she runs into the door when we arrive back home and before I know it, she’s jibber-jabbing away with one of her friends on Facetime.

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At least our other ‘kid’ is crazy about outdoor adventuring – plus his fur matches the backdrop of the woods

I’m pooped now. The hike took over an hour and after a rest upon returning home (and a nap on the coach), I did some strength training, P90X3 style. My body is feeling it which is why I’m indeed having some Sparking Cave, listening to Sarah McLachlan and was just reading A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding. I’m halfway through and enjoying it very much.

This. This is my ideal way of enjoying a staycation. To work on my body, mind and spirit.

Plus – it will prove for a restful sleep tonight!

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Hobbes the dog will be one pooped dog for sure!

Where I Question My Own Parenting Skills

A few weeks ago, my 13 year old daughter and I were doing something. I can’t even remember what – but we were working together to complete a task. I remember complaining about something not working out exactly the way I imagined it. I looked at her to see how she felt.

She waved her hand in the air and said, “Screw it. It will have to do.”

I paused then, looked at her and asked, “Did you just say… ‘Screw it?'”

“Yeah.”

“Oh. You don’t talk that way at school do you? In front of your teachers?”

“No. Of course not.”

“Okay – be careful who you say it in front of, alright?”

“Yes, mom.”

It’s moments like this when I wonder to myself, My God… am I a horrible parent?

The other day, I was ranting and raving to my husband after discovering Logan, the new Wolverine movie, is rated R. I mean, COME ON! They give us two Wolverine and several X-Men movies of which all have been rated PG. Now, all of the sudden they do THIS to us? Just two days before our plan to do a family outing to the cinemas to go and watch this movie, I learned this. Talk about a total let-down.

“Well, exactly what makes it rated R?” I asked Doug.

“Supposedly,” he explained, ‘it’s really, really violent.”

“That’s it?”

“Yeah – like decapitation and stuff.”

“Oh for crying out loud! She’s seen all that stuff before. What else?” I quickly open my IMDB app and check out what other parents are saying. “Look… only a very brief scene of nudity. Some woman flashing her boobs. Not great if it’s very brief, I can live with that. Other than that, there’s 48 uses of profanity… hell, she’s heard all that, too!”

“Well, it’s still restricted.”

“But as parents we’re okay with her going to see it – it’s our decision!”

“They still won’t sell her a ticket.”

“That’s just stupid!”

Of course, at this point, I realize perhaps I’m not the most conventional or conservative mom. In fact, I start to think about the movie Bad Moms and wonder if they want to base a character off of me in the sequel.

In all honesty, I keep myself in check in front of other kids. And when it comes to certain matters I’m actually quite strict. I have, however, noticed I’m far from the type of parents my friends are. There’s maybe only one other that comes close to me but as far as my circle is concerned, I’m SO the ‘bad mom’ of the group. And to be honest, I don’t really care. I came to the conclusion years ago, in order for me to be a happy mom, I had to be myself and do it my way. For the most part, it had to come naturally and not forced. So while I have some friends who didn’t let their 10 year old watch Vampire Diaries or read all of the Twilight series, I totally allowed my daughter to.

Which incidentally worked out for me because I love watching Vampire Diaries and The Originals (oh yeah, she watches that one too).

I wonder, though, where do I get this from? Certainly not from my mom. She tried to convince me, when I turned 19, that I couldn’t legally drink until I was 21.

Course, after having dinner last night with my parents, a definite light bulb appeared shining over my head like a beacon. I was ranting and raving about the whole Login thing to my dad.

“No kidding?” He said – being surprised just as I was. He then looked over at his granddaughter and assured her, “Don’t worry – when it’s available, I’ll buy the Blu-ray for you.”

My dad hadn’t even checked the parent guide online like I did before making such a decision.

Then, flashes of my youth came back to me: my dad catching me swear and calmly telling me not to say such words in public; of him letting me have some beer mixed with ginger ale way before I was a tween; of him letting me watch violent martial arts movie at the age of 8; of him standing outside my bathroom door the first time I had a hangover, asking me if I was okay, knowing I drank too much, but calmly letting me be when I told him I would be fine.

My dad was a strict parent in many ways. But when it came down to it, he also allowed me much freedom to experience life. He did not hold me back from growing up.

So I suppose, without realizing it, my spirit of parenting has stemmed from him. And I’m thankful of that.

Giacomo

I woke up this morning after dreaming of a time in my 20’s. I was on a cruise. Single, bored and hungry for an adventure.

Not long into the cruise I saw him. A head waiter (as it turns out, our head waiter) from Sicily. His name was Giacomo.

I was sitting at one of the buffet tables, finishing my lunch, plugged into my tunes and book in tow. I looked up as I was about to leave. He was standing there next to some of his fellow waiters and bus boys, chatting away. It sounds awfully cliché but I don’t know how to explain it any other way – our eyes locked. My confidence at the time was pretty high – I knew I had him right there and then. I made up my mind I was going to have my fun with him. I suppose at the time, I was preying on him. In the end, it was somewhat the other way around (not that I cared – it wasn’t a contest; we both won out in the end).

I got up and started to walk the opposite direction of him as I made my way to the pool. I glanced back over my shoulder not surprised to see him staring back at me. He smile and laughed. And I continued to walk away. I was not in a rush – the rest of the week would develop the way it should. Naturally, no pressure but paced out for the fun and excitement of the chase.

I will be honest here. While I spent most of my free time (or his free time since he had to work most days) with him, obviously, we knew nothing about each other. Why would we? What would have been the need? We were there for each other for the same reasons – to fill a gap in our lives on a very temporary basis. To create a small memory. To bide time.

We talked about ourselves, of course. But who knew if he was even telling me the truth? How old was he? I don’t know. He didn’t want to tell me – so I guessed he was younger than me and was afraid me knowing would make me retract from him. As if I cared. He was obviously in his 20’s or 30’s and not a minor.

He said he was single but I knew better than to believe that. No doubt he had a girlfriend back home. Maybe even a wife – with children? It was a possibility.

So I woke up thinking about him today since his face and the touch of his skin was so fresh in my memory. I was awake but half in that dream-state. What a glorious feeling to wake up that way. In that half-awake and half-dreaming phase.

I’m about to get personal here – nothing graphic of course. There’s a reason why I remember him. A friend of mind asked me, after I came back from the cruise and met this friend for drinks, what was it about Giacomo that had me so excited and full of life upon my return to reality.

I said, “He was in command of me.” That’s about it. Giacomo filled that fantasy of mine – of possibly most women – of being dominated. To a lesser and much softer extent, he was my Christian Grey. Minus all the heavy bondage.

It was the type of encounter which was intriguing, mysterious and perhaps a little dangerous (there were dark corners of the ship I had never been to – nor had I ever been in the Captain’s mess after hours). The risk of getting caught elevated the excitement.

Okay – I promise. That’s as personal I will get here.

It was also the type of vacation romance which was best suited for one week (okay – maybe two weeks max!) You may be wondering why I am writing about something so risque and personal after being happily married for over 13 years to my dear husband.

I suppose it’s just the side of me whom loves to wax nostalgic from time to time. There are no regrets with my experience with Giacomo. I barely can envision his face or even the sound of his voice. I have fleeting pictures of moments we’ve had in my head – but that’s about it. Fleeting.

I can’t, however, forget how alive I felt from the wilder side of my youth – perhaps, I’m also grateful for the chance to be free. Committing myself to a forever-and-ever would have not been successful if I hadn’t let Giacomo kiss me that first night.