resolutions

Wine for Resolutions

The start of a new year means rededicating yourself to whatever dreams, goals and objectives you want to achieve. For me, a new year happens twice annually – fall, when school is back in session, and Jan. 1. This year, my New Year’s resolution is to attempt to establish realistic goals that I can reach over the course of the entire year, or at least that is my overarching commitment to myself.

Looking back on 2018, I did pretty well with my resolutions. Did I reach them all? Nope. But, I did meet three of the four, with the fourth one coming in halfway! This year, I have many goals, big and small. I’m sharing them here in case they are inspirational to you, as you think about what you want to be in 2019.

  1. Become a certified personal trainer. OK, this is the biggest goal I have and one I’m calling my “stretch goal.” I really want to do this. I love working out, I love people and I love to teach. This is a way to combine all three. But, to get here, there are steps along the way. I need to complete a course successfully, but before that, I need to choose the course from the many out there. But, before that, I need to find time in my schedule to do this, both the course and then the actual training. So, this one will be a process. But, I’m committed to trying!
  2. Finish Jon’s Christmas stocking. Those who know me know that I am an occasional cross stitcher. Due to the intermittent nature of my cross stitching activity, it often takes me years to finish projects. I’m halfway through my husband’s Christmas stocking that I started a year ago. I’m going to attempt to finish it by Christmas 2019.
  3. Read 30 books. Last year, I read about 30 books, give or take but I really didn’t keep careful track so I’m not positive. It could have been more. This year, I am tracking it, listing each title in my bullet journal as I finish it. Who knows? Maybe I’ll read 40!
  4. Read the Bible. I haven’t read the Bible cover to cover since college. This year, I’m going to do it again. Each evening, I’m reading a chapter until I’m done. I’ve started with John, and will follow with the rest of the Gospels before methodically moving through all the remaining books. Chunking this goal down makes it doable!
  5. Post 24 blog posts. This is also an attainable goal. It requires me to post at least two blog posts a month and since I usually do at least three to four, I think two will be just fine! This post is one of 24!
  6. De-stress with a bath and/or massage twice a month. A friend and co-worker reminded me at the end of 2018 of the importance of self-care. I’m considering myself reminded and am committing to it in this way. Even if I only do this once a month, it’s one more time than I did it in 2018!
  7. Gain five pounds. The elusive 100-pound goal weight is in sight now that I’m nearly 96 pounds. It’s been a long time coming for this hard-gainer but I think 2019 is my year. I need to make sure I hit my macros, workout consistently and progressively and drink ALL the water.

I have seven goals, my lucky number. I wrote them in my bullet journal/planner but documenting them here is extremely therapeutic, as well, and makes them more real somehow. I’m excited to have a mix of super attainable, practical goals along with those that are a little more challenging.

Since Christmas, I’ve enjoyed 10 wines (it was my two-week vacation so I had more time to sip!). Of all the bottles we opened, the one that spoke to me most in terms of resolutions was 2015 Mystic Red from Auspicion Vineyards. I want to believe that 2019 will be an auspicious year for me and the play on words reminded me of that favorable feeling. Funny enough, that was my least favorite wine in terms of taste! That prize goes to a 2013 red blend from the Tuscany region of Italy. Bottled by Monte Antico, it’s a combination of grapes from a variety of vineyards and it’s in the true Tuscan, light-bodied red style.

Come to think of it, none of my resolutions involve wine. Might need to add a bonus goal at some point this year. I’ll keep you posted. Cheers!

Wine for Baking Cookies

The holidays are an extremely busy time of year for me, as they are for most. Between buying all the gifts, decorating, preparing for special Christmas Masses at church and attending all the kids’ activities, it can get downright stressful! As an Italian, I also have the tradition of baking Christmas cookies. Each year we do anywhere from six to eight to 10 different kinds, which takes hours of work. 

Last weekend, we did five of them, and when I say “we” I mean my daughter and I. My 8-year-old seems to be more engaged in helping with the baking than my 12-year-old but both do end up helping me frost and dip cookies. I don’t complain! Whatever help they can give is that much less that I need to do! This year, we made eight different kinds at about four dozen each for a total of around 400 cookies. We put them in sealed containers and freeze them all in the big freezer in the basement, removing them as we create cookie tins and trays for our friends and family.

Some of the cookies we bake are age-old recipes from my great Italian grandmother, Assunta Amore Toscano. My oldest daughter is named after here (Maria Assunta). I was really little and don’t remember much about her except going to her house for dinner sometimes. But, she left recipes for Italian Fudge and Almond Macaroons, among others. Italian Fudge are my favorite holiday cookie. They are chocolate balls dipped in chocolate frosting and they have whiskey inside so, hey, what’s not to like?

The Almond Macaroons are a tricky one to bake, at least for me. One change in an ingredient or variable in the recipe and the whole thing comes out badly. This year, unfortunately, was one of those years. I tried different almond paste and I had a tricky time measuring out the sugar (long story). The kids say they taste the same but I don’t know. Plus the consistency is a little off. Anyway, you can’t be perfect every year and there is still another week to go. Who knows? Maybe I’ll try again!

The remaining cookies we made were: Hermits, Cut-outs, Hazelnut Thumbprints, Peanut Butter Dips, Biscotti and Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip. My husband makes a few of his, as well, so we have a total of 10 or 11 different kinds in our house right now, plus any that we receive from others. It’s a sugar festival!

While baking, I try not to drink too much. It’s hard enough to keep all the balls in the air and juggle all the stuff. The mixer, oven and sink all get quite the workout as I move through all the baking. But, afterwards, as I rest my poor feet and back, I definitely enjoy a glass or two of wine. This year, my husband brought home an Old Vine Zinfandel from Bogle, a relatively easy to find vintage. I don’t normally like Zins at all but this one wasn’t terrible. I tend not to enjoy the spicy character but this one had enough fruit that it balanced out some of that peppery taste I dislike. 

The fact that it was Old Vine was appropriate given that some of the recipes are so old. I’m sure even the versions I’m baking aren’t exactly the same as what my great grandmother baked. They hardly wrote anything down! But, someone tried to write it down and I go with that plus a little of my own experience through the years guides me through to the final product.

For those who are interested, below is a recipe I’m willing to share! Happy baking and happy holidays!

Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

coffee cup, laptop, phone, notebook and pen neatly on a desk

Wine for Being Organized

Those who know me well know that I’m extremely organized. At home and at work, I’m usually the one with all her ducks in a row. I truly believe this is the only way I can juggle being a wife, mom, manager, professor, friend and colleague. Since the New Year is really right around the corner, I’m reminded that for many, it’s a time to renew commitments to being organized. For others, it’s a time to make positive changes and sometimes that means figuring out how those changes integrate into daily life. This post will lay out some of the many things I do to keep myself organized day to day.

  1. Google/Outlook Calendars – I use both. Google is my personal calendar, which I share with my husband. It’s color coded by family member to help easily see what’s what. The minute an event or deadline or appointment is set, it goes on the calendar. This way, it reduces the chances of it getting missed. Outlook is the one I use at work. I put all my meetings on it, as well as time out of the office, plus my class times are included. I am careful always to mark down my busy time so people can’t schedule meetings during those times.
  2. Daily Planner – I have a daily planner where I keep lists of all that needs to get done. There are four main sections – workouts, personal items and appointments and work task list. In 2018, I used the Catholic Daily Planner and I enjoyed the layout so much that I ordered another, larger size for 2019. Some people use bullet journals, while others just keep lists. Whatever works for you, I highly encourage. For me, the workouts help me not only keep track of the days I lift but also how much I’m lifting so I continue to progress. I don’t keep track of my nutrition here since I use MyFitnessPal for that but there’s just something about writing down the workouts! I also love the calendar feature that allows me to list all the important activities for the week. I mostly end up putting the personal stuff on there just to keep me sane on that front! I include piano, swim, cheer, field hockey, even Mass on there!
  3. Meal Planning – I do my grocery shopping every Saturday morning. Friday night or Saturday morning, I plan out dinners for the week and write down all that I need to buy. I try to go through the freezer and pantry to use what we have as much as possible but, I admit, I sometimes fall down there! But, planning it all out helps save money and time. If the recipes are online, the links go right into our shared Google Calendar, otherwise the book and page number are listed. I post the dinner menu on the fridge so everyone knows that to expect.
  4. Nighttime Routine – Every evening, I take the time to plan for the next morning. I fill my shaker bottles and set up my gym bag and clothes, set out my clothes for the next morning, get my work bag packed and set out anything else that needs to be ready to go. I make the kids lunches and put the cold stuff in the fridge for them. They assemble them on their own each morning. I lay out Christopher’s clothes for him and he dresses himself. I try to set things up so the kids can be responsible individually for their own stuff to the extent they can. Having everything ready like that is a huge help in the morning and the only way I can get out the door timely.
  5. Do things the minute you think of them or write it down – I try to just handle things as they come to me or write it down immediately so I can’t forget. If I remember I need to write a check for the piano teacher, I stop and do it, or I make a note or set an alarm. I look at mail the minute it comes in or I get home and review it. I write things down at work as I think of things I need to do.
  6. Neat and tidy – I am as neat as I can be. I have a few spots in the house that are not as neat and organized (my closet, for one), but for the most part everything has a place and I try to keep things organized. It’s helpful for me to know where things are and to be surrounding by neat rather than chaos. Sure, sometimes things get away from me but our house and my office are generally tidy with things put away or stacked neatly. Now that I have two weeks off between Christmas and New Year’s, I use the time to clean out closets and the kids’ rooms, etc. in preparation for the new year. Spring/summer is another key clean out time. Other than that, we just try to keep up throughout the year.

When I’m cleaning my house, I love to sip wine. Something easy drinking that can stand on its own works best since I am likely not also snacking or dining while cleaning! One can only multitask so much! I would recommend a fruity Cabernet, semi-dry Riesling or even a sparkly Cava or Prosecco to celebrate your newfound organization skills! Cheers!

 

dumbbells on a rack

Wine for Workout Woes

New season means new busyness and with that comes a few new workout challenges. Recently, I’ve been finding that I’m absolutely exhausted. I mean, I’m so tired I nearly fall asleep reading aloud to my 8-year-old. How is that even possible? At first, I chalked it up to change of season, being really busy and stressed at work and general busyness at home. Then, I thought it might be the fact I seem to get up around 3:30 a.m. and then proceed to keep waking up every 20 minutes until it’s time for me to get up for real around 4:45 a.m. But, last evening I was scrolling through the Train with Lyzabeth secret Facebook group timeline and came across a challenge another girl was having – she was sore and super tired all the time.

There was a lot of advice shared, including my own about how to beat soreness and keep lifting (make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep, take glutamine, lift lighter and stretch). But, it was Lyzabeth’s comment that made me rethink what’s happening with me. She said “make sure you’re getting enough calories to fuel your workouts.” Wow. I’m not sure I am doing that! It’s especially challenging when I am so busy at work running from meeting to meeting, drop-in visitors to my office and impromptu discussions with colleagues about various projects. I have been finding it difficult to eat lunch let alone squeeze in a few extra snacks.

What’s more, my latest macro breakdown is for 2,046 total calories per day. I have been as high as 2,400 and maybe that is a better choice for me. At any rate, to increase the calories, I have to eat more. Plain and simple. Thus, I need to find a way to figure out how to do that. This weekend, as I meal plan and grocery shop, I’ll be scouring Pinterest for some easy snacks and in-between meals that I can grab and go. My goal has got to be to eat more, then we can see if it improves my fatigue.

Being so tired in the evening makes it difficult not only to get things done that I need to do, but also hampers my “wine time” with my husband. I’m just too tired to enjoy a glass. He brought home a couple bottles to choose from for #WineWednesday and we enjoyed one, leaving the other for #ThirstyThursday, which never happened. I was asleep by 8:30!

Tonight, I hope to make it to that glass of wine. We have The Dark by Cosentino Winery, which is a red blend from the Lodi region of California. Hopefully by enjoying The Dark, I can find the light. Cheers!

P.S. For those who are interested in my fitness journey, please follow my Instagram at @prchick75 where I include stories and posts from my gym sessions and various musings about curve building, hard gaining life.

wine glass sand sculpture

Wine for a State Fair Experience

Labor Day weekend has come and gone and with it, the end of another iconic pastime in Central New York, the Great New York State Fair. We skipped it last year due to a busy schedule and lack of funds (it can be pricey to visit the fair with three kids!) so this year, the kids insisted we make the trip across Onondaga Lake. While we only spent about five hours there, the kids made memories that will last a lifetime.

Henna Tattoos

One of those memories belongs to our daughter, Maria, who had her heart set on a henna tattoo. Two years ago, she saw the booth and we told her we would head back to get one and then couldn’t find it again! So, she was determined to do it this time. We spotted the booth relatively early in our visit and stepped inside.

The artist has dozens of pre-created designs to choose from, including those ranging from intricate to extremely intricate! You can choose where to place it; Maria wanted one on her hand. She chose a simple design and sat down to wait as the artist finished up the client before her who was allowing the artist to “freestyle” on her arm. What an amazing thing to watch!

She allowed me to film Maria’s henna tattoo, offering to go a bit slower so we could capture it better. Keep that in mind as you watch. She actually went slower! Usually she whips these up much more quickly. Amazing.

Maria has carefully protected this work of art, hoping it will last until the first day of school in a few more days.

Wine Slushies

A second memorable fair activity belongs to my husband and me – wine slashes. We enjoy these masterpieces and can’t wait to try all the flavors. This year, we opted for Montezuma Winery’s concoctions, which were a lot less sweet and still excellent. I preferred the one made with the Diamond white grape, although the twist with the Fat Frog Red wine was also delicious.

wine-slushies

There are many more fair traditions that I remember from my childhood but as I grow older, they fade into new memories made with my family. The kids can’t leave the fairgrounds without seeing all the animals, eating yummy treats and riding a few rides. They also enjoy the games although this year, we skipped those. The end of the fair means the end of summer vacation. While we’re looking forward to new routines, we’re going to miss the laid-back summer fun. Wine slushies are a nice way to celebrate the transition between seasons and a wonderful treat on a hot summer fair day.

school-lunch-prep

Wine for Meeting Your Macros

It’s back-to-school season. The kids start next week and I have already finished one week of teaching at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. For me, this time of year is a reset, much like the New Year is for most. It’s a way to get back into a routine and try to recommit or commit to something new. This year, my new commitment involves trying for the 98th time to be better about my diet.

Training with Lyzabeth

I have my gym game down. I go train regularly and have been for more than two and a half years. Since May 2017, I’ve been following Lyzabeth Lopez’s Hourglass Shaper program, both her original program, as well as her app workouts. I am at the gym religiously at 5:30 a.m. every morning and have only taken a week off each of the last two years. I have made significant progress in what I can do and how much I can lift. I  feel like I do very well with the gym part of this equation but I can’t seem to get my nutrition down.

Meeting my Macros

Since starting the Train with Lyzabeth program, I have tracked my macros. For the uninitiated, this means figuring out how many calories I should be eating each day and breaking those calories down into protein, carbohydrates and fat. Basically, I use a BMR/TDEE calculator to figure out my total calories, eat a gram of protein per pound of body weight, then try to stick to 25 percent of calories as fat and the rest as carbs. I have fluctuated a bit here and there. I tried doing a higher carb diet for a while, taking in (or trying to) 300 grams a day! And I’ve gone up and down with the calories, too. I do think my current formula, which I’ve been on since March is working but my issue is making sure of two things – 1. I meet those macros daily. and 2. I eat healthy foods.

Meal Planning

The weakest link for me is making sure I plan carefully so that I can meet those macros in a healthy way. The days I plan my meals, including snacks, I am much better and feel better than the days I fly by the seat of my pants. But, life gets in the way all too often. I get busy at work, stressed out at home or just plain tired. But, I feel like if I could battle through and stick to my plan better, I would have more energy in the long run. So, this fall, I’m trying to come up with a plan to streamline this process. Find ways to easily meal prep to save time, as well as make better choices on what to eat. With the new back-to-school routine, it should provide a strong framework for me to do this. So far, I’ve done the following:

  1. Investigated freezer meal prepping – I asked my social network and browsed Pinterest to figure out if prepping a bunch of meals ahead of time for the crock pot and freezing the ingredients actually tastes good and works. Most say it does. I’m trying to create a list of the ones to try first, paying attention to how long they need to cook and whether they need to be defrosted.
  2. Purchased at least one book on meal planning – So far, I’ve reviewed on book, which was interesting because it included the macro breakdown for more than 70 meals or snacks. The drawback is the ingredients are a bit off the beaten path in some instances plus the book is only an eBook, which is challenging to use in the kitchen. I plan to look for some more, preferably in hard copy.
  3. Reviewed eatthismuch.com again – I learned about this website a while back from the TWL Group, a private community of ladies who are doing the Train with Lyzabeth program. I remembered it recently and looked at it again to see if it might help me plan better. You can customize your day, adding the total calories and macro breakdowns, as well as ingredients you want to avoid and even the total number of meals you plan to eat in a day. This might also help with my planning.
  4. Learned that I can’t fully meal prep – I know that I can’t eat the same thing day after day. Many meal prep plans have you create the meals and store them, eating the same things for each meal. I just know I won’t be able to stick to it because I need variety in my life! So, this is an important lesson for me to learn and consideration as I move forward with my new plan.

While these steps are moving me in the right direction, they are not the end game. I still need to decide what will work best for me once and for all. Will I meal prep on Sundays? What will that look like? For example, I could simply chop up ingredients and get ahead that way, then continue to use Instant Pot and other fast, healthy recipes for family family dinners. Or, I could do freezer meals. Or, I could decide to plan out breakfast or lunch for myself in a more methodical way. The possibilities are endless.

The biggest thing I need to remember is what I tell my students and staff – chunk it down. Everything looks easier when you break it into smaller steps. If I choose one or two things to focus on, I can get into the habit before adding more to the plan. I need to figure out what will be doable and achieve some small successes. Then and only then will I be able to stick to this new nutrition regimen.

What about Wine?

As far as wine? I am still only having a glass or two once during the week and then on weekends and only if it fits my macros. I don’t want to give it up and so far have not needed to, provided I keep it in moderation and don’t snack too much while I have some. Last night, we celebrated #NationalCabernetDay with 76, a bottle that we’ve had before, which is an easy drinking, simple cab. Luckily, I stayed within my macros to enjoy it!

frederick, maryland

Wine for a Bed and Breakfast

During this year’s family vacation, my husband and I were able to sneak away for an overnight without the kids. We chose to head to Frederick, Maryland, a location chosen for its proximity to the Maryland and Virginia wine trails. As we hadn’t been there before and we knew we wanted a quiet, relaxing place to stay, I searched for bed and breakfasts and stumbled upon Hollerstown Hill Bed and Breakfast. The reviews were wonderful and it looked like a nice place to stay. The room I booked had its own private balcony porch and everything.

We arrived a bit earlier than our check-in time but learned that the owners were actually on their own summer vacation, ironically in Delaware, where our home base was, too. So, we waited about an hour until the hostess arrived to unlock the door. Turned out we were the only guests for the night, which was a nice surprise. In fact, we had the whole giant Victorian to ourselves that night, though we didn’t realize that until the next morning.

Frederick, Maryland

Prior to checking in, we started to explore Frederick a bit, enjoying a delicious lunch at Hooch and Banter, as well as hitting some neat shops, including an olive oil emporium, unique toy and book shops and a few other small town businesses. We noticed several restaurants and decided it was a foodie’s paradise, really. One of our stops was a small wine store, Viniferous Wines, where we asked the owner for a recommendation for a red wine in the $20 to $30 dollar range. He recommended an Australian Merlot, which we had never tried. In fact, the only Merlot from Australia that I had had prior to this one was Yellow Tail! It didn’t disappoint.

We opened it after dinner that evening and enjoyed it while we played pool and chess in the game room of the bed and breakfast. The wine was a unique flavor, light but full bodied in a way. I really wish I had documented the name of that one, but we were having too much fun to be recording our wine! That chess board was super cool because it was a Civil War one, where one of us was North and one of us was South.

There also was a 60-disc CD changer in the pool room, so we decided to see what kind of music was inside. After going through about 10 to 15 Christmas CDs, we found some classical, followed by some Sarah McLachlan. It was an eclectic mix and we found ourselves wondering about the back story behind all the holiday music!

Our stay was wonderful. Very quiet, clean and unique collections of items on display throughout the large Victorian. Although we were unable to meet the owners in person, we enjoyed our hostess who was chatty and fun. Our breakfast was served promptly and it was the perfect fare in preparation for our day. While, thunderstorms prevented us from being able to use our private porch, we could see why our room was the most popular room in the b and b. Located on the back of the home, it was quiet and private. If we ever return to Frederick, we will definitely look this place up once more. Highly recommend it!

runners posing before the course

Wine for Hope

Just more than 10 days ago, my daughters and I joined our pastor, Father Joe O’Connor in his “Run for Hope,” a challenge he issued to help drive donations to the annual Hope Appeal for the Syracuse Diocese. Each year, parishes are given a fundraising goal, which they are expected to meet by year end. This year, Fr. Joe decided he wanted to meet the goal sooner rather than later. That’s when he issued the challenge – if our parish met the goal by June 30, he would run the perimeter of the parish boundaries – a total of 11.3 miles.

It sounds nuts but as an Ironman alum, he was up to the task. What he didn’t expect was the more than 100-degree temperatures that awaited him July 1. Still, he pressed on. Parishioners manned water stops and sprayed him with water balloons and super soakers. Some even joined him for a mile or 11! My daughters and I decided we’d do the first mile. We joined Father along with three men, all three of whom continued through the entire course. My husband followed in the “pace minivan” with some tunes appropriate for the occasion.

It was hot on the course. We took every opportunity to run on the grass or in the shade rather than on the hot pavement. My younger daughter jumped in the cool minivan at around 3/4 of a mile. My older daughter made it just shy of the first mile. I stopped shortly after that in solidarity with the girls! Father kept on going! He and a few men (I joked they were like his disciples!) ran the distance through neighborhoods in the Clay and Baldwinsville, New York areas. They stopped for water at various locations and visited with parishioners. For the last bit of the course, jet skis were arranged to take them across the Seneca River, but they ended up swimming it instead. The cold water was refreshing after running in all that heat!

I’m glad I convinced the girls to go with me. They were proud of themselves for doing it and as it turned out they were the only children to run with Father. After running in such heat, wine is not such a great idea. I had loaded up on Gatorade and water prior to the run, following it with more water and a cold beer! But, later in the evening, as we relaxed on the couch as is our evening custom, we enjoyed a nice bottle. We’re blessed to have air conditioning at home so the cool air and yummy wine was a nice end to a busy day/weekend!

newspapers stacked on a table

Wine for Changing Times

Over the past 24 hours there have been two things that have made me pause to think about how much has changed with the world in my lifetime. Things that never changed for my grandparents for decades have changed within years for me.

For example, yesterday Sears announced it would close 72 stores, including one that anchored a suburban shopping mall near where I live. As the director of media relations for Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management, of course I facilitated interviews for local media with one of our professors who is expert in the field of supply chain and retail. As he explained Sears’ demise, he harkened back to the way it used to be. Sears was “the Amazon of its time,” he said in one interview. Wow. The Amazon of its time? But, yeah, think about it.

People ordered EVERYTHING from their Sears catalogs starting in the 1800s. Houses, cars, tools, farm supplies, clothing, you name it. Kind of like how we interact with the Amazon giant today. But, even when I was a kid, I remember Sears being the place my parents bought so many things from appliances to clothing to tools. We were in there all the time. We even used to have our cars repaired there or tires put on. So many things from just that one store.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I have a refrigerator and stove from Sears and possibly our washer/dryer, too, although they were a housewarming gift. What’s more? I actually visited a Sears store a few weeks ago to purchase a First Communion dress for my daughter. In fact, I am a big fan of Sears for children’s dress clothes. It’s the only place I’ve ever been able to find a suit that fits Christopher well and looks appropriate for Easter Mass.

This morning, on the way home from the gym, Big D and Bubba, a country radio show, based in Nashville, Tennessee, discussed another thing of the past – paper boys. One of the DJ’s explained that his teenaged son was up early and saw a car driving very slowly, then stopping, then driving then stopping. He was concerned and asked what the car could possibly be doing. His father, said, “Delivering the newspaper.” The son had NO idea that was a “thing.”

It was a “thing.” I remember receiving two newspapers a day – one in the morning, the Post-Standard, and one in the evening, the Herald-Journal. The Herald-American came on Sundays. We got them all at my house and I read them religiously. It’s where we got all our news. There was no internet (yes, I was alive when there was no internet).

What’s more, there was a newspaper delivery person, usually a boy but it could also be a girl, who delivered the newspapers to special plastic boxes hanging under mailboxes, because you couldn’t put the newspaper in the mailbox. It used to be the job of one of the kids in my house to go “get the paper.” The delivery person, who we called the “paper boy,” since it was always a boy in my experience, also came weekly to collect payment for the papers. He’d ring the doorbell and say “Collecting!” It was a huge treat as a kid to be able to give him the money and get the tiny stamp-like receipt in return.

Nowadays the paper still comes, but only a few times a week, plus Sundays. And you pay online, not in person at your front door. In my lifetime, I’m watching print newspapers all but disappear. But in my grandparent’s lifetime, all they knew was newspapers. Imagine that pace of change exponentially accelerating as the years go by.

Anyway, it made me nostalgic for the way things used to be. I mean, there was an extra side job for a kid, delivering papers, that doesn’t exist anymore. They even got tipped when they came to collect! The responsibility that bred in young people was so valuable to them. Nowadays, I find it difficult to find a teenaged babysitter who is willing to and responsible enough for the job. What we had as responsibilities as teens in the 1980s is so different from what the teens have now.

It’s fascinating to see change happen before your eyes and valuable to look back and think about the past. Wine is a great way to sit back and ruminate on days gone by. I think a good choice is what we enjoyed on Memorial Day, Clean Slate Riesling. It’s an old standby and a traditional Riesling, but it allows you to start again or think anew. Best of both worlds.

What do you remember from your past? Comment below and cheers!

the Peanut Butter Club gathered in the Matthew 25 farm tractor

Wine for a Good Cause

Last week was a gorgeous week weather-wise in Central New York. One weeknight, our family traveled south of the city of Syracuse to a very special farm in Lafayette, New York, called Matthew 25. Founded 10 years ago, the farm is completely run on donations of time, talent and treasure. The farm grows crops and gives them away to the poor.

We joined the Peanut Butter Club from St. Mary’s Church in Baldwinsville, New York to work for an hour on the farm. After enjoying some pizza and meeting everyone else, the kids got right to work hoeing and planting carrots, four long rows worth! The children’s ages ranged from 2 or 3 to 11 and they needed a bit of guidance. That’s where the parents came in. But, they managed to get all the seeds in the ground with time to spare.

I’m super glad we took the kids. They definitely learned a valuable lesson about helping others in need. In fact, when asked what she did last week, Lucia, who is 8, said, “We planted carrots for poor people.” Message received!

When we arrived home, after getting the kids in bed, we enjoyed a Pinot Noir I found at the corner liquor store. Cline was excellent! Cline Cellars are located in Sonoma County, California, a hotbed for excellent Pinot Noir. I even bought another bottle a few days later – it was that yummy!

Matthew 25 is always taking donations. You can sponsor a crop, volunteer to tend the crops or even harvest them, which we plan to do come August. There’s nothing better than to model the behavior you want to see in your children while helping those in need. We felt good about what we did and enjoyed a rare evening together as a family with no electronics. If you live in the CNY area, I highly recommend looking into Matthew 25 and seeing how you might be able to help its mission. Cheers!

farmer Rick shows the kids how to plant carrotsLucia and Christopher help another girl cover the carrot seedsMaria and Christopher plant carrot seeds