Yummy wine smoothies

Red wine, particularly Merlot, is my favorite libation (hence the name of my blog…duh!). I love the deep garnet color, inhaling the sweet, woodsy undertones as I bring the glass to my lips, and the rich, smooth, full flavor in my mouth as the liquid gingerly flows down my throat. Mmmm…

But I definitely enjoy drinking other wines – red or white, it doesn’t matter — because when it comes to wine, I am considered an “equal opportunity employer.” As Matron Mama Morton said in Chicago, “I love them all and all of them love me…”

Recently my mother and I were shopping at a local liquor/party store where samplings of some of their beverages are often provided. I love it because it gives you the opportunity to try something you wouldn’t normally buy. That’s where I sampled the Vine Smoothies, which come in peach, berry, strawberry and pineapple coconut. I was reluctant at first but was very pleasantly surprised.

Vine Smoothies contain Chardonnay, Dutch cream and all natural flavors. The flavors add just enough fruit without being too sweet, and there’s the right amount of cream to keep the drink smooth without being too heavy. As a big-time pina colada lover (did I mention that I also like mixed drinks?!), the pineapple coconut is my favorite, with peach being a close second. 

The drink is delicious enough on its own, but the Vine Smoothies website (www.vinesmoothies.com) includes several recipes, which I can’t wait to try.

These smoothies have turned into a nice little go-to beverage in my drink arsenal. Whether I’m entertaining a few people or if a friend and I merely want to chill out and shoot the breeze, Vine Smoothies are a light, refreshing drink that everyone is sure to enjoy!

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The Tamster Rule

When my husband and I had our first child, I’ll never forget how perplexed he looked when I told him I needed to buy our baby daughter new clothes. After all, just a few months before, we had received TONS of clothes from friends, family members and several baby showers but, as I had to explain to my husband, children grow rather quickly, which meant that replacement clothes had to be provided.

And now that our two children are getting older, taller and bigger, that definitely has not changed. I swear, it’s as if my kids grow every 10.2 minutes, which means that the shoes and clothes that fit last month are now too tight and way too small. So I’m quite often on the lookout at yard sales, consignment shops and clearance racks trying to get the best deals.
Just recently I was treated to some extra money that was remaining in our monthly household budget. I was so thrilled and thought about some of the things I needed that had been on my “want” list for a while: Marc Jacobs Daisy perfume (one of my faves), a gorgeous pair of black pumps I had been coveting from DSW, a long-overdue facial, Kiehl’s body butter, etc. But then my mind went to the kids and the things they needed. And, before I knew it, the extra “play” money flew out the window.
One day I was speaking with one my oldest and dearest friends, Tamster. Her real name is Tami but everyone knows her as “the Tamster.” She’s the one and only, kind of like other one-name phenomena such as Madonna, Cher or Rihanna. Like the aforementioned, she has the glitz and glamour of a true diva but, as she would say, on a very limited budget. 🙂 But that doesn’t stop her from living large and embracing each and every day with fervor, fun and passion. Her personality, as well as her heart, is spirited and gigantic!
Our friendship has spanned 20+ years, so when we talk on the phone, we can spend hours just laughing and reminiscing, but the majority of the time is spent sharing war stories about being working women, wives and mothers to our children, who happen to be around the same age. We commiserate quite often, talking about our nutty sons and why they just can’t seem to get a clue, and the latest hair products and styles we’ve tried on our daughters’ natural locks.
Tamster recently advised me that I need to make a point to do something for myself every pay check. She said, “Even if you just go to Marshall’s and buy a $5 pair of underwear, do SOMETHING to treat yourself!” I chuckled but realized that she was absolutely right. We as mothers are always sacrificing ourselves: our time, money, energy and efforts. Before we know it, our needs are placed on the backburner. (That’s why a lot of mothers look so tired and jacked up all the time! You might come across one of us in the check-out line at Target and wonder why our earrings don’t match or our elbows are dry and crusty. Well, that’s because we are spent from giving all that we have and putting ourselves last.)
Don’t get me wrong: I love my family ferociously and would GLADLY give up my right arm if needed, but we should never lose sight of our dreams, wants and desires. Even if it’s something small (like a lovely bottle of wine, a cute pair of earrings, or taking the time to check out a movie that isn’t animated or kids’-themed), or something larger (like an all-girls’ vacation getaway with friends), it’s important to put a few dollars away just for ourselves.

Tamster and me on a rare ladies’ night out.

And now I make it a priority to regularly treat myself as well as put a few dollars in my savings account. And when I go to Marshall’s, I simply cannot leave the store without checking out the panty section. If I find a good deal on a lovely pair of panties, I smile to myself and think, The Tamster Rule is in full effect!

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“A” is for apple, “H” is for hoochie

The day I found out that I was expecting a baby girl, I immediately began shopping for the cutest, girliest and frilliest clothes I could find. I took great delight in putting together clothing ensembles and deciding when and where my baby girl would wear her various outfits.

And almost 8 years later, I still enjoy picking out outfits for my daughter Shelby. And thankfully, she is a girly-girl who loves dresses, purses, lip gloss and anything pink, purple or frilly, which makes shopping even more fun.

But over the past year or so, I’ve noticed a shift in the girls’ clothes selection. Now when I peruse the racks to find items for her in size 7/8 or 10/12, the selection isn’t as appealing. That’s because somewhere between size 6X and 7/8, the styling and colors begin to take a dramatic and, in my opinion, dismal turn.

The majority of the clothes I’m finding now look too grown or, dare I say, hoochie. I do not want my daughter wearing short-shorts that are just centimeters below her buttocks, nor do I want shirts so tight that I see hints of the “buds” that are perking just below her chest. A couple of months ago while shopping for a bathing suit for my 7 ½ year old, I found a gold one-piece suit with cut-outs on the side. Seriously?!! A gold bathing suit with cut-outs?!! It looked like something you’d find in a Frederick’s of Hollywood catalog (not that I’d have any idea what a Frederick’s of Hollywood catalog looks like, of course)! 🙂

I’m not a prude, but I personally think that little girls should be age-appropriate and dress like little girls. I DO NOT want my daughter decked out in mini-me versions of clothing styles that I wear, nor do I want her to look like a prepubescent teenager. She is 8. I want her to look like she’s 8! Kids grow much too quickly as it is. Why must we all be in such a rush to make them look older than they are?

My daughter goes back to school this week, and this will be the first year the students at her elementary school will wear uniforms (khaki, black or blue bottoms and solid-color polo or dress shirts). Initially this announcement was a little surprising but I’ve embraced it wholeheartedly. Already it has made shopping so much easier. I simply find jumpers, skirts, shorts and pants in her size, and polo shirts in various colors.

But I must admit, when I go shopping for clothes, I always take a few minutes to peruse the infant/toddler section to sigh and reminisce about how easy and fun it used to be to find her an adorable outfit. And it makes me a little sad because in that moment I remember that my baby girl is no longer a baby and is growing right before my eyes.

I also know that in the very near future, she may want to turn away from the “girly” clothes and wear some of the grown-up, trendy styles her friends may be wearing. And some of those looks may be on the skanky side. So when she comes to me a few years from now, seeking permission to wear, say, a flimsy, gold halter top, I’ll caress her face, look lovingly into her big brown eyes and say, “Seriously?!! A gold halter top?!! Stay away from my Frederick’s of Hollywood catalog!”

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Happiness = Trader Joe’s

As any parent knows, the majority of our time is spent caring for our children with little time for ourselves, let alone private time. (I haven’t used the bathroom uninterrupted since 2006.)

So any mundane task that can be done without the children (for instance, going to the grocery store) is like a vacation. You don’t have to worry about whining, relentless begging for various snacks or foods, numerous requests to visit the gold fish in the pet section of the store, or checking out the toy department (“I just want to SEE the toys, mom. I won’t ask for anything…I promise!”) You get the idea.

When my brother offered to watch my kids for a couple of hours last Saturday, I jumped at the chance to shop at the new Trader Joe’s in my area. I hadn’t been to a Trader Joe’s since I moved away from Northern Virginia  over 7 years ago, so I was really excited.

As I approached the market, I was pleasantly surprised that the small parking lot had a number of spaces readily available and the store wasn’t as jam-packed as previously reported. This was my lucky day! The doors opened and I immediately noticed the air-conditioned laced aromas of fresh bread and fruit in the air. A smile crept across my face. It was such a treat to peruse each aisle, eyeing all of the merchandise, actually being able to take my time and read labels and taste various samples. I felt so incredibly happy at that moment that I actually posted it on my Facebook page. Pathetic, huh?

I only purchased a few items, including a bottle of Cocobon California Red Wine. Check out this description on the bottle: “We’ve blended fine California red varieties to develop a rich and silky wine, with just the right hint of sweetness. Enjoy aromas of ripe cherries as well as heady waffs of mocha that will fill your senses.” Now how could I resist?

When I got home, I spent the last 30 minutes of my freedom enjoying two of my Trader Joe’s purchases: a small spinach salad and a glass of the smooth, savory wine. My two-hour alone time, albeit brief, was just the mini-vacation I needed to get back on track.

And when the kids returned, I still had a smile on my face. My brother, however, had quite a different expression when he arrived at my door. I guess the next time it will be my turn to watch his kids and sponsor his “alone” time. 🙂

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Happy birthday, Mary Margaret!

Four generations: A photo of my grandmother, mother, daughter and me at a Mother’s Day luncheon in 2009.

Today would have been the 90th birthday of my grandmother, Mary Margaret Adair Woods. Our beloved queen and matriarch was called home to be with her Heavenly Father on Sept. 3, 2011, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her or wish I could pick up the phone and hear her voice just one more time.

As my 7-year-old daughter knelt at her bedside, she said “Dear God, today is my Mammaw’s birthday. Please tell her happy birthday for me and that I love her.” A sob caught in my throat but then I immediately praised God that my children will always have wonderful memories of her. What a blessing!

Happy birthday, Mammaw! We love and miss you but know you’re in heaven having the biggest celebration of all surrounded by your mother, father, siblings and other family members, friends and loved ones.

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‘Daddy’s Day’ is about being thankful

I have absolutely no memory of my father. He and my mother had married as teenagers when they became pregnant with me, but very soon the marriage ended.

As a toddler, I visited my father every other weekend. From what I was told, I simply adored him and greatly looked forward to our regular visits. But, over time, the visits became few and far between. I wouldn’t see my father again until more than 35 years later, ironically, at his funeral. Looking upon his lifeless body for any sense of resemblance or recollection and finding none, I couldn’t help but to feel sorrow. Although we had not had a relationship, I knew at that moment that I would never be presented with the opportunity to reconnect and call him “daddy.”

But I am so very thankful that I’ve had other father figures in my life, most notably my grandfather who made me feel loved and adored every single day he was alive. He was tall, strong and beautiful, and would sweep me up in his arms and ask, “How’s my grandbaby?!” I would hug him hard and bury my nose in his neck to smell his Old Spice cologne. After he passed away in 1983, my uncles served as surrogate male figures with sporadic visits over the holidays, reunions and other family gatherings.

Now when I look upon my kids, I can’t help but to think how extremely fortunate they are, for many reasons, but especially because they have two loving parents to support and raise them.

When my husband and I started dating, I would tell him on numerous occasions, “Do you realize how lucky you are to have had two parents at home?” He would shrug his shoulders nonchalantly because that was all he had ever known. Even now, his parents will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this year and seem just as in love today as they must have been when they first met over 50 years ago!

Not that the parents’ length of marriage is any reflection on the children but, I have to admit, my husband is an amazing father and provider. He is self-employed in the restaurant industry so his days can be extremely long, stressful and demanding, but he rarely complains. Due to his work schedule, he’s often unable to attend a particular event, game or function. At times I joke that I feel like a single parent because I have no one to accompany me to various events with the children. But he makes every effort to be there when we really need him.

My family often jokes that my husband is quiet and stoic but they have no idea how extremely funny and goofy he can be. I love to find him acting silly with the kids, playing hide-and-seek, camping out on the basement floor, or bringing milkshakes home to the kids when I’ve sent him to the store to buy trash bags. He is a loving, devoted, patient and kind father.

This year my husband and I will celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary and, when I look at him, I feel so extremely blessed that he is in my life and that my children have such a beautiful representation of what a husband, man and father should be. And whenever my children utter the word “daddy,” I can vicariously experience that joy in knowing that their childhood and their lives will be filled with wonderful memories of being loved, adored and wanted.

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Here we go…

Well, it’s a long time coming but I’m finally writing my first blog!

I am an extremely blessed wife and mother of two beautiful, energetic and crazy children. Between work, family, kids’ activities, etc., I often put my wants and needs on the back burner, and the personal dreams and aspirations I set for myself years ago have dwindled as a result.

Consequently I find myself walking around the house late at night with a glass of Merlot in my hands humming the theme to “Mahogany” (if you’re under 30, you probably won’t get that reference), wondering where the time is going and how to fulfill my goals and actually start doing some of the things on my bucket list instead of adding to the ongoing tally of things I’d like to do.

My hope is to use this blog as a catalyst to help me complete a number of these goals, which include: FINALLY completing my book manuscript, getting organized, travelling more, and improving my overall health (physical, mental, financial, spiritual, and professional). And along the way I hope to create a dialogue about motherhood, relationships, self-improvement, fashion, TV, and everything else in between.

Thank you for going on this journey with me. Cheers!

Jackie

Special thanks to my friend, the lovely and talented Julie Fitzpatrick, for designing my fabulous blog header!

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