5 January, 2016  |   10 Comments

2015 Recap, 2016 Resolvations

Goodbye 2015! You are done now!
It was a put your head down and push against the boulder year for me.
Was it like that for you?

Work trips and counter wipedowns.
Procrastination and avoidance.
Some really terrible phone interviews.

St. Helena's amazing pool

In 2015, I started exercising for real. Between my Tuesday and Thursday workout group and my three times a week barre class, I found strength I didn’t know I had. The first months of 2015 were filled with embarrassment as I willed this lumpy meatsack forward in the pool, in the barre class and on the track. Here’s to spending more of 2016 up in my body, taking advantage of this biological miracle.


Our bocce team Joanie Loves Bocce turns ten (!) this year and I can’t wait to see how we evolve. We ran yet another successful chili competition and I am so proud of all the lady winners.

This week, we're bringing the fixins with our meal plan

Meal planning continues. I shared our plans nearly every week last year, moving mostly to Instagram. We only stuck to the plan about 70% of the time, but that’s 70% better than the alternative. I look forward to sticking to the plan next year.

We made a pizza cake.

Professionally, I took my foot off the gas. It has been difficult to remind myself that my kids are a really fun age and I want to be around them more.

I did that, and I’ve loved the memories we’ve shared. But it’s been at the expense of a massive amount of professional confidence. I can’t wait to get some of that drive and satisfaction back in 2016.


But I get to spend time with these amazing kids. Watching them light up as they find their interests has been one of my favorite things about this year.

Cream pie fight!

It’s been capital F Fun with the kids. Tons of adventures, from parades to face painting, to cooking classes to homemade art camps. This Memorial Day, we even hosted a cream pie fight for the neighborhood kids.



We threw two fun kids’ parties, too, one 7 year old hosted a Jungle Breakfast and our new six year old had a hoot at Chuck E. Cheese!

My class of internet friends had big birthdays. I got to surprise Pamie for her party, and had a blast. Making new friends is something I haven’t done in WAY too long, and her people are some of the best.


Then I turned 40 and threw an Adventureparty for the record books. We celebrated all over town, dressed like campers and counselors, doing crafts and eating hot dogs. It was in the top 5 memories of the year.

No one cares about my body or opinion or looks anymore! I’m forty! I’m on my way to the promised land!





We had a fun Halloween before we hopped a plane so I could speak at Blog Her Food (what a great event!). I even won a cocktail competition. Then we visited my family in Wisconsin for the week, which was good and hard and complicated like so much of this life.


I am still madly in love with my amazing husband. He is my favorite person in the whole world and he keeps getting favoriter.


Speaking of resolutions, I had another list, a secret list of 100 goals for 2015. And I crossed off about 80% of it.
Well done, me.

Some of my list included:
No diet soda for the year (DONE!)
Run a 5K (I ran three!)
Make butterscotch pudding from scratch (DONE!)
And so on, for 97 more numbers.

Since I crossed so much off that secret 100 goal list, I made a new one for 2016.
Normally I’d share it, but my relationship with the Internet has evolved drastically over the past 3 years.
I’ll keep that list close to my heart.

I just looked at last year’s resolution post, and had resolved to right some inequalities, I haven’t done anything on that end.
I’m sorry. I’ll do better in 2016.

Can I blame the lice?
(No, Helen Jane, you cannot blame the lice.)

Because holy hell, 2015 was the year I became intimate with the human scalp. More than the dog’s emergency teeth cleaning, more than two months of broken washing machine, more than the daily indignities of my life as a working mother in these United States, lice was a big part of my 2015. From under-the-breath conversations with parents in town, unless they’re hermetically sealed, pretty much every child in Northern California gets it, has it or manages it.

It’s everywhere.

I bought all the sprays, the chemicals, the lice patrol visits. We now comb out the kids’ hair for bugs 3 or 4 times a week. Lice is just a thing we just manage now. Go 2015. Go evolution.


I can see you, sitting there, more disgusted with me than you used to be, I get it. I used to be disgusted by lice too. But since lice management stole so much of my 2015, disclosure is in the interest of transparency, really.

I pushed the lice boulder all year long.
Right out here on my rarely updated Mommyblog.
Take that, confident professionalism.


As I read through this post, I’m surprised about how, well, bummed, I sound about the year. Don’t get me wrong, I had some really lovely moments.

But I’m counting on the fact that 2016 is going to be wonderful. In this first month of January alone, I get to attend a wine conference, speak at Alt Summit, I get to visit some great friends and enjoy the heck out of my clean post-holiday home.

That said, my exuberance about the internet has been tampered by its evolution. I’ve finally developed a healthy sense of shame. I’m busy with kids and home and community, right here.

So for 2016, my public resolvations are to make more friends from different backgrounds, visit New York City more than once and make more art. Those feel right for the place I’m at.

Let me know if you want to be a part of any secret listmaking for 2016, I’ll help cheer you on.

17 November, 2015  |   3 Comments

Make Paper Bag Popcorn – with me, Nora Lea


This weekend Nora Lea worked on a project with me. She wanted to show kids how to make popcorn in the microwave. She organized the steps, set up the script and the different shots and didn’t even need any second takes!

Back when I was a kid, I could never comprehend that this was a thing I could do — much less with my daughter. I’m a-goggle at the many forms of communication and connection our kids will intuitively know how to use.

On with the show!

15 November, 2015  |   1 Comment

Meal plan, this week

This week, we’re prepping fixins galore. I missed the heck out California cuisine after 8 days in the delicious Midwest.

This week, we're bringing the fixins with our meal plan

Did you know that we end up sticking to the meal plan about 60% on average?
(That’s right, only about 60%)


4 November, 2015  |   1 Comment

See you at BlogHer Food

Speaking at SXSW with MJ

This week, I’ll be speaking on a panel at BlogHer Food. I’m going to be up there with Danielle Wiley from Sway Group and Beth Lee from OMG Yummy.  We’re talking about making a business plan, JUST LIKE A REAL BUSINESS PLAN. Except for your blog.
(Like a real business.)

After the conference, we’re headed back to the motherland, Wisconsin, to spend some time with my parents in their assisted living facility. We’re renting one of the rooms for a week. We’ll be renting a room in a nursing home with my whole family.

It’s going to be an adventure, that’s for sure.

Is that too much information for the robbers? Don’t fret, we have a team of pointy-toothed housesitters with giant biceps at the house. And Pinot.

I’ve missed you lovelies.


30 October, 2015  |   Comment

Helen Jane’s Apple Crisp Sipper

My first apartment.
Winter in Wisconsin.

(This is me back in the mid-nineties, all film camera and apple crisp.)
Helen Jane, mid nineties

During a particularly brutal winter, in those early grown-up years, I learned to bake apple crisp.

The ingredients?
Inexpensive staples.
The outcome?
Warm and loving.

Now that I’m in sunny Napa Valley, November temperatures can reach the nineties. So when I’m craving something cold and cozy, spiced and sweet, fresh yet comforting, I make this Apple Crisp Sipper.

Turns out, this autumn-inspired cocktail is the perfect pre-Thanksgiving cocktail. Pair with gently spiced nuts to keep guests cheerful when the turkey roasts.

Helen Jane's Apple Crisp Sipper recipe

2 ounces apple juice
2 ounces cranberry juice
1 ounce amaretto
2 ounces rum
2 ounces hard apple cider

Add the first four ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and strain into an pre-iced old-fashioned glass. Fill the rest of the glass with hard apple cider. Garnish with a cinnamon-sugar crusted apple slices if you’re feeling ambitious or a cinnamon stick if you’re not.

Helen Jane's Apple Crisp Sipper recipe

Three cheers for cozy, icy drinks!

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