Friends

Organizing a Kick-*ss Bachelorette Party

Last month, my best college girls and I were draped over the furniture in a hotel suite in Austin, primping, drinking champagne, and roasting each other about our considerably more messy college selves.

At one point, one of the girls asked the room at large, “Did anyone think Lucy would be the responsible one planning all our bachelorette parties??”

The answer was a resounding “NO!” and gales of laughter!

You guys, they’re not wrong. I have, ahem, grown up a lot over the last fifteen or so years. I still put my foot in my mouth more often than I would like, but I have learned through trial and error how to manage some of the more important things in life.

One of those things is being there for your nearest and dearest at the most important times in their lives. I’m now in the middle of maid of honor duties for the third time, and was also delegated the bachelorette party planning role when I was a regular bridesmaid in a fourth wedding. It's a serious honor (and responsibility) to be in charge of this kind of occasion, and can be stressful because bachelorette parties get wrapped up in the whole wedding industrial complex.

And as with all things wedding industrial complex, there are a ton of tips on the internet about how to throw a bachelorette party. So instead, I wanted to share with you the less obvious ways you can make the event a source of treasured memories instead of drama.

1) Your bride is all that matters.

Ask her what she wants, and LISTEN. One of my best friends wanted a night out on the town with pink and sparkles, another a chance to relax somewhere quiet for a weekend. Just as there are a million types of weddings, there are a million types of bachelorette parties. Resist the temptation to copy curated parties on Pinterest and instead plan something that truly fits your dear friend.

This is the more, ahem, photogenic part of the bachelorette stash.

This is the more, ahem, photogenic part of the bachelorette stash.

This goes double for bachelorette… paraphernalia. I have a stash of funny stuff I bring to each party, but every bride should be able to decide for herself exactly how much attention she wants to attract and how risqué she wants to be. I have pictures of one girl carrying a large inflatable “item” into a restaurant, and another didn’t wear her sash or beads outside the hotel room. If it’s all in the name of fun, then it doesn’t matter!

2) Be very transparent about costs with the guests - and don't bother your bride.

This means involving all the guests in the planning process before you make reservations so that you can make sure everyone is comfortable. It also means that if you find the budget too restrictive for your party goals, your only option is to cover the balance yourself and do so quietly and graciously. No bride wants to feel like she's causing her best friends stress and anguish! On more than one occasion, I have used my own airline miles to make sure a treasured member of the wedding party can make it to a destination bachelorette. I’ve also covered activities the bride was stoked about but others wouldn’t have chosen on their own. 

If you can swing it, I also recommend putting everything on one person’s credit card and privately giving each guest a clean total after the party is over. When you remove the feeling of nickel and dime-ing during the party itself, you make the whole thing feel more seamless. This may mean extra work on your end, but it’s worth it. 

3) Restrict your geographic area during the party.

When doing a destination bachelorette, I either like to keep all activities on property or within walking/short Uber distance. The reason? A weekend is actually very limited time to spend with people you may not see very often, and what you really want to focus on is maximizing the quality time you all spend together. Of each bachelorette party I’ve planned, some of the most memorable time has been when we’re all getting ready together in a hotel room, or just chilling out by a pool. Time spent in transit, and all the stress that causes, just saps the energy from your good time.

4) Give your schedule plenty of breathing room.

For a weekend bachelorette, I like to have dinner reservations for both nights, a general post-dinner plan for Friday night and definitive reservations for Saturday night, and one daytime activity on Saturday. Anything more, and you’re going to be forcing crabby, hungover girls to get up too early or stressing everyone out with trying to get to too many appointments. No, you may not be able to hit that Instagram star brunch spot if you don’t plan ahead, but again, this party is all about quality time. Grab some brunch from a food truck or counter service cafe, and enjoy your morning together!

Vegas ready in spring 2010!

Vegas ready in spring 2010!

I’ll confess that for my own bachelorette party, way back in 2010, I wanted the whole Vegas shebang. I remain incredibly grateful that all my best girls gamely rolled out in their sparkly best, treated me to a fancy dinner and night out, and generally made me feel like the star of the show. I'm so lucky that they indulged me, and that we're all still close to this day!

LMW

My Favorite Mountain

I love Jackson Hole, you guys. For the second year in a row, my husband and I made the trek for a ski weekend, and this time we convinced my entire family to come along, as well as a few friends.  And I do believe we've made converts of them, too!

Most of my ski days happen at Alpine Meadows for one simple reason: that's where I work as a volunteer patroller, so I have a pass.  Pretty hard to pass up unlimited days, especially on a mountain that offers a wide variety of steep, interesting terrain - especially if you're willing to hike for it!

However, Jackson Hole has won my heart and I know we'll be returning again and again. Why?

Taking a little peruse through a powder stash...

Taking a little peruse through a powder stash...

...and agreeing, once again, not to ski  Corbet's Coulouir .

...and agreeing, once again, not to ski Corbet's Coulouir.

The terrain: it's unbeatable. Vertical for miles, plenty of steeps, lots of varied aspects, tree skiing, that great dry snow... it's really got everything you could want. Plus, there's a pretty impressive amount of beginner and intermediate terrain so a group with varied skill levels like ours can be happy.

Long steep blue runs for days.

Long steep blue runs for days.

The views: I mean, just look.

I ended up with jalapeño infused tequila (yum), a pickle juice back (even grosser than I thought), and a sour beer.

I ended up with jalapeño infused tequila (yum), a pickle juice back (even grosser than I thought), and a sour beer.

The village: lots of hotel options (we absolutely adored the Four Seasons - even the smallest rooms are big and comfy with plenty of places to unpack your ski gear, the service in the boot/ski room is next level, and there's a fully staffed bar at the hot tub/pool after 3pm with tasty warm beverages), good restaurants, and an excellent apres scene (don't miss beers at the Alpenhof or roll the dice for a potentially disastrous shot/back/beer combo at the Handle Bar).

The simplicity: United has direct flights from San Francisco, making Jackson Hole more accessible than pretty much all the great Colorado mountains. And this year, no cancellations!

My sister taking a few glorious turns.

My sister taking a few glorious turns.

The bonus: you can do a day heli-skiing trip! My husband gave me heli-skiing for my birthday last year and made good by sending my sister and me for an epic powder day unlike anything to be had inside resort boundaries. It was total hero snow: 6 inches of light high mountain fluff on hard pack, and fresh tracks all day. And we completely geeked out climbing out of a helicopter on the actual top of a mountain!

Usually at this point in the year I'm pretty excited about the end of winter, but if I could I'd go back to Jackson this weekend. It's that good. That said, I'm always willing to try something new! Where else should we look at for next year's ski trip?

LMW

Weekly Peek 1/5/18

Happy New Year!

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In the grand tradition, friends of ours hosted the annual New Year's Eve dinner party.  There was champagne, there was caviar, there was a sous vide machine, there was a kale salad and a gluten free dessert (because after all, we live in San Francisco), and there were dear, dear friends I am so lucky to have in my life.  There has been both great joy and tremendous loss for people very close to me in 2017, and I'm just grateful to be there with them through it all.

When Life Gives You Lemons...

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About two and a half years ago, we bought our house.  A bit more than two years ago, we moved in.  Renovation plans were ready about a year and a half ago.  We broke ground a year ago.  And if you've ever done a home renovation before, you probably know what I'm going to say next: the project is still very much underway! I'm super pleased with how everything is going, but as they say, it just takes a long time.  "Twice as long and twice as much" is the saying, I believe.

...Make Lemonade!

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However, there's always a silver lining!  Or in this case, two.  First: we got our washer and dryer hooked up again, which means no more trips to the laundromat for me every Saturday.  I always try to be grateful for things like running water and appliances but man, I am dancing a jig while folding my towels these days.  And second: I decided to turn a piece of plywood blocking what will no longer be a doorway into a place to display our holiday cards.  There's no big secret: I just cut some ribbon and used push pins and clothespins, all of which I had lying around.  I don't keep holiday cards year to year, but I love sending, receiving, and displaying them during the festive season!

Think Snow

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Last January gave the Sierra Nevada mountains a month of snowfall so epic that Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows had t-shirts made for all the staff emblazoned with "Janu-buried!"  This year... not so much.  Snow is pretty thin on the ground as I get ready to start my patrolling season.  Here's hoping for some of those famous Sierra storms to start rolling through!

A Health Coach's Thoughts on Minimalism

Please meet my friend Tara Ward, a health coach, outdoorswoman, and all around beautiful person!  Tara and I met at a ladies’ ski day with mutual friends this winter and bonded over our love of the mountains and our complimentary work on helping people live happier lives.  We both believe in simplicity and balance, whether you’re talking about your own health or your home environment. I loved her thoughts on minimalism, which I’ve discussed a couple of times here as well, and wanted to share her perspective with you!

Photo courtesy of Tara Ward

Photo courtesy of Tara Ward

I recently watched a documentary that truly inspired me, Minimalism, a documentary about the important things. Minimalism is not about getting rid of all of your things. Minimalism itself is far more concerned with living intentionally, living elegantly through simplicity, and living meaningfully while enjoying the material possessions you own without giving those possessions too much significance.

With the start of spring and the task of “spring cleaning” looming over us, I’d like to share a few thoughts sparked by watching this film, some inspiration for your purging pleasure. I’ve always felt the need to have “less stuff”, I had this feeling that I didn’t own the stuff but the stuff owned me. I would never have enough of what I never really wanted, so I was not going to become happier by consuming more.  But for some reason I found myself consuming more things, seeking to fill some void. Then I started letting go. The more stuff I got rid of, the better I felt. Outer organization contributed to calming inner chaos. The stuff doesn’t fill the void, and clearing it can allow the space home to you, and the important things.

I had given too much meaning to the stuff I had bought, thinking it would bring me happiness or contentment. Happiness doesn’t work that way. Contentment is internal, and it is possible to be content with nothing OR with a room full of stuff. However, it is much easier to see what is important when you get the excess stuff out of the way.

Have you thought about purging, and living a more minimalistic life? Overwhelmed, many of us want to simplify, but we don’t even know where to start. Ironic, we consume the stuff, and then it consumes us.  There is nothing inherently wrong with owning “stuff”, but clearing some of the stuff can help us focus on everything that remains.

One of the filmmakers had what they call a “packing party”. This is where he packed up all of his belongings into labeled boxes for each room as if he were moving, and then kept the boxes in the middle of each room. Through the course of 3 weeks, anything he needed would be unpacked and put away in the house. After 3 weeks, 80% of his stuff was still in the boxes, to be given away. So this “packing party” is a bit radical, and very few people would be interested in doing the same thing, lets start small.

Try to keep only the things that you absolutely love in your space or that are absolutely necessary, and you will find that you’re about to rid yourself of a lot of unnecessary items.  Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, believe to be beautiful, or bring you joy.

Start in the easiest places. Identify some things that you’re certain are not adding value to your life. What unnecessary things are you holding on to “just in case”?

One fear many of us hold onto when it comes to letting go of things is that we may need them someday. This is the scarcity mindset, if you were able to attract these objects into your life at one time; you have the same ability to attract them into your life again, should you need them. Scarcity mindset says, “If I give something away, I will be in lack.” Abundance consciousness says “I can attract anything into my life that I need or desire.”

Look around your home, your car, and your office. Why are you holding on to so much stuff that doesn’t add value to your life? What would happen if you just let go of the excess? What benefits would you experience? How would it feel to have more time, more money, and more contentment? How would you feel to have a cleaner home, a clearer mind, a less stressful life?  Be honest with yourself, when was the last time you found value in many of the items cluttering your home.

Getting started is freeing, and I invite you to just that, getting started. Amid a sea of stuff, simplifying our lives keeps us from drowning. Beautiful thoughts from a beautiful film, and I will leave you this….

“Love people and use things because the opposite never works.”

Tara Ward is a Board Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, currently living and working in Tahoe City, CA, and yet thanks to the Internet, able to coach clients all over the world.  Tara is passionate about helping women find their true healthy potential, balance their lives, and live their most vibrant, energized, and joyful lives.  She is also a plant based chef teaching in the North Tahoe area.  Learn more at balancedwellnesswithtara.com.


 

Weekly Peek: Jackson Hole Trip Report

Jackson Hole, Wyoming has been a dream destination for me for a long time.  The ski resort is famed for its steep, challenging slopes and consistently discussed among skiers I know as one of the best mountains in North America.  Because I'm a volunteer patroller at Alpine Meadows, I ski a lot and for free, so I don't tend to take many ski trips.  But my sister knew about my desire to ski Jackson Hole, and so for Christmas last year she gave me an Air BnB stay there (as well as the cute faux fur lined vest you'll see me wearing in all the pics)!  It was the perfect excuse to gather some friends together for a fun long weekend ski trip.

Not. Too. Shabby.

Not. Too. Shabby.

So, um, I have some Denver recommendations for you.  You see, there's one daily nonstop flight from SFO to JAC on United, so of course we booked it.  But it's a small plane going to a small airport and SFO suffers frequent weather delays, so you can guess what happened next: a couple of hours before departure, it was cancelled.  We re-booked through Denver only to have the first leg delayed so long that we missed the second and found ourselves stuck overnight.

We were delayed an entire day, but at least there were puppies in the airport!

We were delayed an entire day, but at least there were puppies in the airport!

All thanks for the following go to my husband, by the way.  He is a frequent traveler, loves trip planning, and researches flights and hotels particularly well.  By the time we made it to the arrivals area in Denver, he had us booked at the Four Seasons, a giant SUV to fit all six of us waiting for us at Avis, and a table reserved for dinner at The Kitchen.  Major thumbs up to all of the above - dinner was delicious (and huge!), and the Four Seasons bar is apparently The Place to Be on a Friday night (we did feel a little out of place in our slopeside attire).

We stayed in this Air BnB condo in Teton Village at the base of the ski resort.  It would have slept 8 people luxuriously and 10 quite comfortably, the bed/sheet/towel situation was a lot more high end than I have experienced in other Air BnB's, and the common areas were comfy and well-appointed.  For a long weekend, I would definitely stay in Teton Village again, as opposed to in the actual town of Jackson Hole.  We could walk to a lift (and also into the village within about 15 minutes), whereas it takes about half an hour to drive out from town!  

On our way from the condo to dinner on a gorgeous spring evening

On our way from the condo to dinner on a gorgeous spring evening

Teton Village is small, but packed with high quality amenities.  I always bring my own ski boots, but there were several rental shops with good demo options - I tried out and rather enjoyed a pair of Atomic Vantage 100's.  The restaurants were also pretty impressive given the small size of the village.  We had a late lunch after our late arrival on Saturday at Il Villagio Osteria, which had delicious upscale pizzas and salads.  Dinner that night was at the Alpenhof Lodge.  You go for the super authentic Swiss atmosphere and fondue, not necessarily for the other food on the menu, but it's a totally fun experience.  We may or may not have returned for several apres-ski beers the following day!

For lunch in the middle of our ski day, we were enraptured by the concept of an on-mountain sit-down restaurant (something I have experienced in Europe but never in North America!) and were lucky enough to snag a table at Piste Mountain Bistro before the lunch rush.  If you go, definitely make a reservation so you don't get shut out!  Our final dinner was at Handle Bar inside the Four Seasons (which is just about as ski-in, ski-out a resort as I've ever seen), and my bison burger was absolutely INCREDIBLE - one of the best burgers I've ever had, period.  I snarfed the entire thing.

Happy campers!

Happy campers!

And the mountain itself?  It's even better than I thought it would be!  The mountain has huge vertical - it just seems to keep going on forever, with amazing valley views everywhere you look.  Overall, the entire resort is much steeper than most - a Jackson Hole blue run would probably be rated a black diamond at your home resort.  On a sunny spring morning when conditions are firm, there's not much that's more fun than ripping giant fast turns on some steep corduroy, and we did just that!  There's also a ton of really interesting off piste terrain, and we caught some excellent spring corn on some of the lower slopes in the afternoon.  We did NOT try to kill ourselves in the famed Corbet's Couloir - it was closed, and after peering down the sheer cliff entrance, I saw why!

The weekend was short (thanks, United...) but full of good times with good friends in a truly special location.  We will for sure go back.  In my perfect world, I'd return for 5+ days earlier in the season to try to get some powder, stay at the Four Seasons, and explore the town of Jackson Hole a bit... a girl can dream!

LMW

Weekly Peek

Photo courtesy of Boboquivari's

Photo courtesy of Boboquivari's

Brush With (a Few Degrees of) Celebrity

My husband and I were recently planning a double date with some good friends, and decided to finally try a San Francisco institution: Bobo's.  Yes, I've lived in SF for 10 years and have never been, I'm aware this is a travesty.  We had a great time, enhanced by the fact that we were squirreled away at a private alcove table that is reportedly the favorite hangout of one Mr. George Clooney when he's in town.  I have to admit that for me the experience was much more about the ambiance than the food - if you're looking for the best old-school steakhouse experience in San Francisco I'd direct you to Harris' - but I spent most of my evening elbow deep in Dungeness crab with garlic sauce and regretted not one bite!

Photo courtesy of jake.clothing

Photo courtesy of jake.clothing

Dangerous Liaisons

JAKE has just come out with their Dangerous Liaisons collection, and so of course we had to support our friends at one of their launch parties.  I am dying for the custom toile fabric used throughout the collection, featuring greyhounds (the official shop mascots are Echo and SCOTUS, that would be Supreme Canine of the United States to you) instead of dragons!  It's those kind of playful details that make JAKE clothes stand out in a sea of fashion.

Photo courtesy of hoodline.com (Carrie Sisto)

Photo courtesy of hoodline.com (Carrie Sisto)

Weird for Good

I've mentioned before that I sit on the board of CounterPulse, an amazing performing arts organization based out of a theater in SF's Tenderloin.  This year, for the first time, we're putting on a gala Family Feast & Fundraiser, and I'm chairing the host committee!  The past few months have been a whirlwind of brainstorming, planning meetings, and bonding time with the truly incomparable staff and board members of CounterPulse, and we're just under a month out from the event itself.  The dinner is already sold out, but the after party will be super fun, featuring live performances, bespoke cocktails, a drag show, DJ and dancing, and a silent auction, all to benefit the Springboard Fund For Artists so that CounterPulse can keep providing a home for groundbreaking art that shatters assumptions and promotes community.  All the hippest, artiest kids in town will be there, and you'll want to be there too!

End of the Season

In bittersweet news, my official ski season is over.  I spent my winter training three new candidates to join the Alpine Meadows National Ski Patrol, and I'm so pleased and proud that all three passed their final test and will be wearing red jackets from now on!  Fortunately for all of us who love the mountains, there's still snow to spare in the Sierras and many of the ski hills are planning to be open into May and June.  I'm thinking of snagging a few runs of spring corn on Memorial Day Weekend.  How many times in life is there the opportunity to do that??

Weekly Peek

Midwestern Hot Spot

Over President's Day weekend, I made my semi-annual trek to Minnesota to visit my best friend and her family - including my honorary nephews, who very gratifyingly remembered me and deigned to let me read them stories (they're 1.5 and 3).  As a special treat they got a babysitter one evening and we headed out for a very memorable dinner at Travail Kitchen & Amusements.  It's a steady stream of small bites, all of them creative, delicious, and inspired by local ingredients - and all of them delivered with plenty of humor and without formality.  I had duck mousse squeezed onto my hand and ate a piece of speck directly from a hanging hook, among other things!  If you're in the Minneapolis area, go early for a drink (or two) - the cocktails and mocktails are all seriously excellent.

Hot Button Issue

My husband and I were lucky enough to be invited as guests of the Marin Community Foundation to attend the Planned Parenthood Northern California Acts of Courage dinner (you may have seen my Instagram posts already...).  It was a truly inspiring evening, featuring honoree Dr. Willie Parker, author Rebecca Traister interviewed by writer and educator Chinaka Hodge, and a poetry reading by Janae Johnson, Natasha Huey, and Terisa Siagatonu that blew both of us away (my husband said it was hands down his favorite part of the night - and he is not what you would call the activist-y type).  Women's health, and equal access to it for all women regardless of race, sexuality, or gender identification, is my hot button issue, and I'm looking for ways to get more involved.

When Conferences Go Right

I talked openly about my thoughts on the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) here, and I'll continue to do that.  Plus, conferences in general have a pretty spotty reputation.  However, I was overall really pleased with my experience at the Regional Conference held by NAPO-SFBA last month.  I found the keynote speaker to be not particularly inspiring, but thought some of the breakout sessions were really helpful and spurred me to think creatively about how to move my business forward this year.  Plus, there were great networking opportunities with vendors and other organizers, and it's always great to feel like part of a community!

Petunia checks out the fluffy white stuff on Day 1 of the storm... and yes, those giant banks from this crazy snow year are taller than a person!

Snowed In

It's been quite dry in California for the past few years, which means we've collectively forgotten how to deal with mountain weather and travel therein.  My friends and I were reminded of just how opinionated Mother Nature can be when we headed to Tahoe for the first weekend in March and quite literally got snowed in for a night longer than planned.  With about four feet of snow falling over two days and all the freeways closed, there was literally no way to drive back to San Francisco.  I try to warn people that this can be a possibility, and sure enough, getting snowed in does actually happen!

Weekly Peek

I’m Feeling Very Olympic Today

 (Bonus points are awarded to those of you who recognize the movie quote, and aren’t horrified by my truly terrible taste in film.) I just joined the Olympic Club, the oldest amateur athletic club on the west coast.  Other than socializing and using the truly impressive gym facilities, I plan to ski for their championship winning team.  Although I'm an expert skier I have virtually no race experience, but apparently there are handicapped levels, so I’ll be able to contribute in some way.

One Tequila, Two Tequila…

My husband took me and a couple of our friends to a tequila and mezcal tasting at The Battery a couple of weeks ago. The group consensus going in was that mezcal was preferred over tequila due to more flavor complexity, so we headed straight for Del Maguey, a mezcal-only producer that was the first to introduce the spirit to the US market.  The variations based on elevation, climate, and plant type are actually really easy to taste, and completely ruined us for the other brands we tasted later!  My husband also always insists that we visit the photo booth room every time we bring friends to The Battery, and you can see that the mezcal helped with photo friendliness...

Photo courtesy of iflysfbay.com - Yes, that's me!

Photo courtesy of iflysfbay.com - Yes, that's me!

Bucket List Item: Checked

I have always wanted to do indoor skydiving.  You know, with a vertical wind tunnel, dorky glasses, and a funny one piece suit.  So when I saw passes for two at iFly at the Counterpulse Magenta Party silent auction, I knew they had to be mine.  We finally found time to go last weekend, and it was a ton of fun.  The feeling of floating is so amazing - it's all the magic of a gravity free existence without the sheer terror of extended free fall.  I know of what I speak: I have actually been real skydiving, once, when I was 22.  My dad got it for me as a Christmas present and we went together (fun fact: my mom stayed buried in bed until he called her to report we were both safe on the ground), and I was so terrified that I screamed from the moment I exited the plane until the second my partner pulled the chute (I'm sure he was thrilled).  Bottom line on the iFly version: tons of fun, would do again!

Photo courtesy of Annette Blum

Activist Book Club

My amazing book club, which I've discussed here before, has also become a de-facto Women's March huddle for our little group.  And so, when we read about sending postcards to our elected officials because phone lines have been so jammed, we sprang into action.  One girl printed out the official Women's March postcards, one bought postcard stamps, somebody brought her impressive collection of washi tape, I contributed printed quote images and colored Sharpies, and we got our activist craft on.  We sent postcards to Senators Feinstein and Harris, our individual Representatives (we come from at least 3 Bay Area districts), and of course the Speaker of the House.  It's a small thing, but it led to great discussions about what we want our elected officials to actually do (as opposed to expressing general anger at the current state of things).

Weekly Peek

Something's up when Grandma and Grandpa are on the march.

Rise Up

For those who follow my Instagram @lmwedits, you'll know I put on my "women's rights are human rights" t-shirt to join the San Francisco Women's March this past Saturday.  I was proud to participate alongside women, men, and children of every age, race, sexuality, country of origin, and gender expression; and prouder still that both of my parents marched in Santa Barbara along with my sister, sister in law, and niece.  If these two lifelong conservatives got upset enough about the threats to human rights in this country to hit their first protests at 60-something years old, you can bet that something big is going on.  The fight for equality for all human beings is far from over, but it feels good to be a member of the movement along with my whole family.

Photo courtesy of vertical-method.com

Flipping the Script

At a silent auction last year, I came across a monthly pass to a new studio called Vertical Method.  It's sort of a combo of Pilates, barre, and some other things, except for using a mat and a horizontal bar, everything is done off a vertical bar.  I'm a big fan of Pilates - I take a private lesson once a week and fit in group classes where I can - so I figured I had to try it out.  It's definitely a good workout, and it will really help your posture if that's something you struggle with.  The vertical bar also adds a sort of jungle gym element, which I enjoy!  I just wish the studio was a little closer to me with better transportation - but it's a good option to have when I'm looking for something to mix up my fitness routine.

That small cabin is usually 10 feet off the ground!  Photo courtesy of squawalpine.com

It's Dumping

In case you've been too bogged down in all this rain to notice, the Sierra Nevada mountains have been getting slammed with snow since the end of 2016 - 23 feet of it so far!  In fact, today, Highway 89 was closed due to an avalanche (if you ski at Squaw Valley or Alpine Meadows, you'll know this is as the road that connects Truckee to Tahoe City and Lake Tahoe) and people are still snowed in from the weekend.  While we're all excited about what this means for the slopes and the drought, don't forget about everyone working overtime to clear the roads, restore power, and make the environment safe for the rest of us!

Photo courtesy of cryptozoic.com

Game Night

Because of all this snow, my parents' condo at Tahoe didn't have power over the MLK long weekend, prompting us to cancel a planned ski weekend with friends.  We were definitely bummed out, but we still got everyone together for dinner and game night at our house.  Our standbys have been Settlers of Catan and Cards Against Humanity, but one couple brought a new-to-us game that quickly became a hit: Spyfall.  It's a little bit like Mafia, but more complex and unintentionally hilarious!

 

Weekly Peek - Special Dinner Party Edition!

For a special edition of the weekly peek into my life this week, I'm going to revisit our New Year's Eve dinner party. I gave you a quick overview here, but I know I have some food and wine nerds reading who might be interested in the specifics!

Both my husband and I agree: when hosting a dinner party, what really matters is the friends you bring together and the food and wine you all enjoy. Where we differ is in approach. I like keeping stress low so I usually tackle the bookends of the evening: the hors d'oeuvres (which I keep simple and small so people don't fill up too soon) and dessert (my go-to is a layer cake since it can be made ahead). My husband, on the other hand, likes to maximize his use of esoteric kitchen gadgets and molecular gastronomy ingredients to make restaurant style cuisine.  He isn't doing it to impress anyone - it's literally for the love of the game.  He'd cook like this every day if he had the time!

We started with bubbly and bites.  Specifically, a recipe beloved by my family that we refer to as cheese puffs, but they're totally not - they're parmesan cheese toasts.  Whatever you call them, they're completely addictive.

My husband is obsessed with oysters.  Actually obsessed.  I will not tell you the number he has put down in one sitting because it will gross you out, but let's just say it's WELL north of two dozen.  So not a dinner party goes by that he doesn't serve oysters: this version was with lemon vodka granita and jalapenos.

We had requested that no one bring wine because we are trying to reduce our inventory, so people got creative.  One couple very generously and luxuriously brought us Russian caviar with creme fraiche and artisan bread, which we slotted in as the second course.

My husband loves to emulate famous chefs, so the next course was Pok Pok style fried shrimp in lettuce cups - spicy salty goodness!

Next, it was pasta time.  My husband made really simple cacio e pepe pasta... and then he gilded the lily completely and served each person one small portion with shaved truffle and one with shaved foie gras torchon.  I am not making this up.  It was even more delicious than it sounds, and just as ridiculous.

The main course was something my husband has been talking about for a long time: turducken a la molecular gastronomy.  Instead of stuffing and roasting, he used meat glue to bind the proteins together and then served it with canned cranberry sauce for a funny wink at high/low.  (I love canned cranberry sauce to the extent that I have been known to eat it plain as a fully grown adult, so I was delighted.)

For dessert, I made the tiramisu cake from Smitten Kitchen, my go to for absolutely delicious but never overwrought layer cakes.  It was indulgent without being too sweet - would definitely make again!

All photos in this post were taken by my good friend, food blogger/wine writer/food and wine educator extraordinaire Nicole Ruiz Hudson.  Her Instagram account, @nibblinggypsy, will make you hungry, and if you head over there she has a lot more to say than I ever could about how the wines we picked for this epic dinner worked out.  I also like to think that Nikki's approach to food and wine is similar to my take on organizing: consume what you love, whether high or low brow, and don't get stuck in what you think you should be doing.

Happy 2017!