Tuesday, December 15, 2009

You Got to Have Friends!

I have been following Stacey Curnow, a wonderful life coach I met recently at Christine Kane's Uplevel Your Business Seminar. She publishes an eZine that always hits me right where I need it. This week, Stacey's eZine focused on the importance of friends and celebrating with them over the holidays. I already have several parties planned and found this to be particularly poignant this morning so I have reposted it here with Stacey's permission. Enjoy!

And do check out Stacey Curnow's great blog. She also happens to be have a guest post up today on Christine Kane's blog.

You Got to Have Friends!

You may not feel like you have the time or energy to create special gatherings with your friends, but studies show that maintaining good friends has great benefits and is truly worth the effort.

Research shows that people who have a large network of friends live longer than those who do not, whereas close relationships with children and relatives, in contrast, had almost no effect on longevity.

A study out of Brigham Young University showed that it is, in fact, a strong correlation—almost as strong as the correlation between smoking and mortality.

Another recent study showed that people with a strong social network have fewer cardiovascular and immune problems, probably related to lower cortisol levels (a stress hormone).

Companionship provided by friends seems to help people cope with stress, ward off depression, and boost self-esteem. And there’s the simple fact that friends often encourage you to take better care of yourself.

So, for all those reasons, and for plenty of other ones, why not get some friends to come over for the holidays?

Three Great Ideas for Gatherings:

1. Keep it simple. Instead of planning a huge Christmas party in just a week, gather with your girlfriends only (that’s what I’m doing this Friday).

Send a quick invitation (evite.com is great for this) and plan a super simple meal and one signature cocktail or ask everyone to bring their favorite appetizer and a bottle of wine.
2. Have a post-holiday party. Between work and family, it simply may not be possible to see our friends over the holidays. One of my favorite parties in past years was held on Boxing Day.

In Britain the wealthy had a tradition of giving gifts to their servants on the day after Christmas. (And let’s face it: if we lived over 100 years ago, we would have been the servants! So let’s celebrate it!)

Ask your friends to bring holiday leftovers and least favorite presents for a silly gift exchange. If this date is still too close to the hubbub, look to a date in mid-January. Your friends will be excited to put something on their 2010 calendars.
3. Host a “giving back” day. The holidays are a great time of year to focus on what is truly important—our ability to give to others.

In lieu of (or in addition to!) your annual holiday party, invite friends and family to join you in preparing food for a homeless shelter or wrapping presents for moms and their children who are in a shelter from domestic violence. You’ll be amazed at the thanks you’ll receive—from your guests. Making this sort of giving easier and more fun is one of the greatest gifts you can give your friends.

(If you like the idea of service to others, but it would truly over-extend you to plan a party around it, please join me in supporting the entrepreneurial efforts of women all over the world with the Midwife for Your Life Lending Team.)

Four Tips for Hosting a Great Gathering:

1. Here’s my best advice: Be a guest at your own party. That means that you have everything done before your first guest arrives so that you can really enjoy your company.

2. Be like Santa: Make a list and check it twice. (I’d be happy to send you my list. It includes everything from menu planning to house prep. Just press reply to this eZine, let us know you want it, and we’ll email it right to you.)

3. Ten minutes before the start of your party, pour yourself a drink or simply take time to breathe and appreciate all that you have done to make this party possible.

4. Try to be the first person your guests see when they arrive and the last person they see when they depart. Greet each guest warmly. Ask to take their coat and immediately offer them a drink and show them to the food.

So—this holiday let’s celebrate what’s truly important: valuing ourselves and our connections to others, being of service, and enjoying ourselves while we’re at it!

Reprinted with permission from the author, Stacey Curnow (www.midwifeforyourlife.com).

Friday, December 04, 2009

White Dog Haikus and Things We Learned From Our Westie - my first self published book!

Well I've gone ahead and done it! I've self published a book on Lulu.com. If any of you have been following me (@KathyTroidle) on Twitter, you know that David got me hooked recently on writing White Dog Haikus. Between the 50 or so I've written and all the pictures I've taken of Islay Bear in three months, the logical thing to do was to publish it! Rather than take it to a publisher I thought I'd just go ahead and do it online myself. Half of all my proceeds will be donated to Westie Rescue of NJ where we got our beloved Islay Bear. You can buy "white Dog Haikus and Things We Learned from Our Westie" by clicking on this link.....
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Important Things We have Learned from Our Westie

So our big news is that we're new parents! We adopted a 5 1/2 year old Westie from the Westie Rescue of NJ and he is bringing us joy every minute. He's definitely the dog for us as he is quite the "mellow fellow" as David calls him. He's housebroken, patient, cuddly, not skittish about strange or loud sounds, loves everyone he meets and is as gentle as can be. He came to us with ear and eye infections and skin irritations but all that has cleared up in the past few weeks and he is one handsome boy! He's at the groomer for the first time today so we will see whether or not we recognize him when he comes home.

I'm amazed at what things we can learn (or relearn!) from animals. Here a few of the things we've learned from our wonderful Islay (EYE-la) Bear.
  • Hold no grudges
  • Trust unconditionally
  • Find a way to tell people what you need even if you don't speak their language
  • Don't settle for dry kibble
  • Sit in the sunny spot when you need some Vitamin D
  • Notice your surroundings - smell EVERYTHING!
  • Barking is rarely necessary
  • Live in the moment
  • Nap often
  • Be patient
  • Grass can settle an upset tummy
  • Leave a calling card wherever you go to let them know you've been to visit
  • Celebrate the small things
  • Be friendly to everyone
  • Always be on the lookout for safe hiding places for precious things
  • You're never too big to sit on someone's lap
  • Eat only when you are hungry
  • Let people know you love them
  • Long walks are the best!
  • Car rides are gateways to new adventures
  • Seek out new adventures every day
  • Stick close to whoever's in the kitchen
  • Stretch first your front legs, then the back after a nap
  • Smile for the camera
  • Minimize the drama
  • If you quietly stare at someone long enough they will notice you
  • It doesn't have to be pretty as long as it's comfortable
  • A little bacon makes everything taste better
  • There's nothing like a good tummy rub
  • Move things around in your room if you don't like where they put it after they leave
  • Snuggling up with an old shirt can make you feel better if you miss someone
  • Dad rocks!
  • If it itches, scratch it!
  • Don't be afraid to expose your soft underbelly every now and then
  • It's fashionable to wear white all year 'round
  • When you're done being petted, move to another spot nearby if they won't leave you alone.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

July 4th activities

David barbecuing in the rain - how many of you have similar stories and pictures this June?! Luckily July 4th was a beautiful weekend and we were able to enjoy a picnic on the Tanglewood lawn while listening to the amazing Diana Krall with our weekend guests. The wine bottle and wine glass sticks from Wine Enthusiast that Bryan and Diane brought us drew many comments from fellow picnickers. For once we were the ones with the cool gadgets!! After the show, the Tanglewood folks delighted us all with some spectacular fireworks!! We were just missing the 1812 Overture or some other patriotic music playing in the background.
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Herb Garden and Deck Railings!

Every day a little closer to done on the renovation. Last weekend my friends Bryan and Diane were up and they built me a wonderful herb garden.... right off the kitchen so I can see it every day and easily get to the herbs when cooking. Two kinds of thyme, rosemary, tarragon, basil, nasturtium, lavender, salvia, russian sage, and salad burnet! Yum!!

For weeks the contractors have been working on finishing the deck - we almost used the wood for an arc it has rained so much in June! But today the railings are going up and the cool wire ones so we preserve as much of our view as possible. Can't wait to stain it and move all the furniture up so we can have meals out there and relax in the sunshine that I just know must be coming.
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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Friday night we attended the 2009 Hudson Valley Wine Culinary and Wine Pairing Dinner and it was a lot of fun. Hudson-Chatham Winery for whom David is the Director of Sales won 6 awards! Check out the Hudson-Chatham Wine blog to see more.
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Montefioralle, Rignana and Cafaggio

Our guide took us to Montefilliore - a walled town we passed every day. One of the highlights of this town is that it was the home of Amerigo Vespucci - navigator who figured out that America was not the Indies. And then it was off to lunch at Rignana and a local winery called Cafaggio.
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Mimmo Baldi cooking lesson at Ripertoli

Mimmo Baldi is one of the best chefs in town. He used to own Vescovino - a high end restaurant overlooking the Tuscan countryside - but decided to simplify and now owns only the best Enoteca in Chianti. He regaled us with stories and his perspective on the importance of taking time to cook with family and enjoy meals together. We certainly enjoyed this one! We started with his special zuccini flower fritters, moved on to tagliatelle with shrimp and asparagus, and finished with roast pork. Dessert was a delightful lemon custard with fresh strawberries. Yum yum and triple yum!
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Monday, May 11, 2009

Ripertoli Adventures - First days

My my my. These first few days have been adventure packed and food/wine filled. On Saturday, David and I popped into Greve to pick up some things at the market. This was not as easy as it sounded - the place was teeming! Poor David had to park all the way up the hill and carry heavy six packs of water up from the Coop. Guests began arriving about 2pm and we had tuscan snacks and wine ready. At 4:45pm or so Jonathan from Chianti Travel picked us up in the van and brought us into Greve for a wine tasting with Pier Paolo Brondoni at Enoteca di Gallo Nero. After a few hours in Greve we came back to Ripertoli for a wonderful dinner cooked by Marisa, drank more wine and crashed early.

On Sunday we slept in a bit and enjoyed a light breakfast at the villa. We headed into Panzano for the market and to meet up with Mimmo and Ariana Baldi. Ariana showed us through the market and Dario's butcher shop. We all found bargains. Shoes for me of course. David bought chickens and fried polenta and we headed back to the villa for a delightful lunch on the terrace. After long siestas, we were off to Lamole for dinner where Filippo and Paolo took great care of us as always.

Today we went to Castello di Querceto for our first Tuscan winery tour. Marco showed us around the property and castle as well as the amazing wine cellar with wines as far back as 1904. We got to see the Querceto vineyards from the top of the tower and terrace. Beautiful! Julia hosted us for an amazing lunch (crostini, lasagne, cinghale, tiramisu) after a great tasting of five Querceto vintages. Then Julia walked us through the cinghale vineyards a bit and we squeezed back into the car bound for siestas at Ripertoli. Tonight it's off to Osteria di Passagnano for a Michelin star dinner and views of Antinori vineyards.

See more on http://ripertoliadventures.com/blog

Friday, May 08, 2009

Coreglia and Lucca

Yesterday we had a wonderful never ending lunch in Coreglia with Alec Nacamuli and Ann and then explored the walled town of Lucca. We made it back in time to help Mimmo and Ariana Baldi celebrate the grand reopening of their Enoteca. We met up with Carlo Faggiani and Karena - the leather shop owners - and toasted to everyone's success. Today we are finalizing plans with the Elena our tour guide, buying food and wine for snacks and refreshment for guests at the villa, and trying to catch the internet up so we can blog about it all! On our way to Lamole, we picked up Peter and Christina from Britain who were attempting to walk from Greve to Lamole for lunch. It's only about 9 km but all up hill!! We had a lovely lunch together overlooking the Tuscan hillside watching swallows float around on the wind currents and dive for insects. I like swallows!
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Monday, May 04, 2009

Panzano on Sunday

Spring has sprung here in Tuscany. The flowers are beautiful - although we aren't yet sure what these hanging purple ones are called. David is demonstrating his vast viniculture and viticulture knowledge as he shows me how and why they've pruned the vines as they have in various spots. All in all a glorious trip so far. Had my first black truffle slices on pasta in Greve-in-Chianti today. Yum!
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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Our first night in Greve-In-Chianti

We arrived at Ripertoli last night and had our first tastes of Tuscany in Greve-in-Chianti - the closest "big" town near the villa. It is the weekend of the flower market so the piazza was all decked out. Sadly the light was fading so the shots are a bit dark. But keep watch right here.... more more more to come!
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