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Lately (6 months of it)

Do you guys realize it’s May? Sorry I dropped off the earth for the first almost-half of the year. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Not Training for Anything! 
This is probably the most exciting thing I have going on: I’m NOT racing Wildflower this weekend! The crew that usually attends/races is not doing it this year and we were not gung-ho to go ourselves because the drought California is enduring has forced the race organizers to change the event. The water capacity is at a mere 5% of normal. While I do not miss the sufferfest, I definitely miss these people!


(PSA: look at your water consumption and cut back where possible! We put in a fake lawn several years ago, installed an on-demand water heater last year, saving greywater for plants, switched to a low-flow shower head, and installed a pee/poo flusher option on the toilet).

I don’t have any races on the calendar, though I *may* do Bay to Breakers for fun with friends next weekend. Greg might do Vineman Monte Rio, if there’s enough water in the Russian River… I just can’t be bothered to swim/bike/run all at once right now. I haven’t swum since the Santa Barbara Tri!

Still Staying Active
While I am not following a specific training plan, I’m not loafing either. My goal this year is different: look good and feel confident in a bathing suit/naked. You can shake your head all your want; I don’t care how trivial it sounds to anyone else. Body image is something I struggle with and I decided to make it a goal for myself. This goal requires an an entirely different approach to diet and exercise than training for endurance events. Most of my workouts are 30 minutes or less and involve high intensity intervals. My diet includes minimal carbs and much smaller portions than when I was training 20 hours per week. I have not given up wine, obviously.

I also find reasons to walk/run more places. I got the new Garmin Vivofit activity tracker and it is a great excuse to take a walk around the block after a couple of hours of computer work and walk downtown to pick up those last minute groceries. I find myself purposely pulling into the parking spot farthest away and incorporating walks into my social time with friends.

Daily sMiles
Now that I’m not training and/or exhausted all the time, I spend a lot of quality active time with Miles. We run/hike/swim at Water Dog Park in Belmont a couple of times a week, which is fantastic except for the poison oak he gets into. Greg and I are both very allergic and itchy spots pop up on us all the time.










It was far from an epic winter in Tahoe, but we turned the few times there into fun times. We celebrated Keith’s 50th birthday in March and I learned time and again that working from The Van is very productive.



Girlfriend Getaways
My local girlfriends did our annual getaway to Murphys this year. We drank a bunch of wine, met new friends, excelled at Cards Against Humanity, and had a wonderful weekend in the Sierra Foothills.

My family and I successfully completed the 9th Annual Sisters Trip in March, this time with a beautifully-appointed rental home in Aptos. More laughter, drinking, walks on the beach, and life-changing conversations. I’m so glad we set aside the time and money for this trip each year.

Which one is not like the others?

We have some fun stuff planned as summer nears. I won’t let six months go by without posting again!


Wine (charms) On Wednesday

May 2, 2012 Friends, Fun No Comments

My friend Tara and I drank some wine on Sunday afternoon. But wait! We were being productive at the same time — making wine charms. Sunday Funday = YES! I can’t take full credit, it was Tara’s idea. She wants to present each of the girls at her sister-in-law’s bachelorette party this coming weekend with her own wine charm.

She sent me a picture as inspiration and asked if we could make it happen. Yes. Yes, we can. I happen to work at a place that provides the tools to do this exact thing. Jewelry making materials aren’t just for jewelry making, you know. We bought what we needed and then went to work making them using the techniques we learned from the Stamping on Metal class at Beaducation.com.

I haven’t shown much proficiency in making actual jewelry, but these were fun and easy:

What do you think? Tara and I are looking at instituting “Craft Day” once a month just because it was so much fun. (And so that we’ll have something to show for our day drinking…)



Continuing Education

January 29, 2011 Friends, Fun No Comments

It’s no secret that I love wine.

Lucky for me, I live within a couple of hours from world-renowned wine regions — Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, California’s Central Coast. Yet even after countless visits to wine country with tastings and tours and sips (I almost never spit), I don’t know much about it.

Here’s what I know: I like red wine better than white. I like Syrah/Shiraz and Zinfandel best, but a good red table wine or blend is my go-to “daily drinker.” Actually, what I think I know about wine is mostly about me… But wait! I know that in these parts, harvest is in early fall. I know this because that’s when all the crush parties are.

Here’s what I don’t know: What differences there are between grapes grown in cool climates versus warm climates. How to tell the difference between a thin-skinned grape and thick-skinned grape. How to pair wine with food. And about a zillion other relevant things.

It was somewhat by chance that I ended up with friends who enjoy wine as much as I do. For your information, I met most of my friends at the dog park. Not at a bar. And it just-so-happens that none of us is especially well-versed in the mechanics of a good (or bad) bottle of wine. We are taking it upon ourselves to learn!

We enrolled in “The Everyday Guide to Wine” from The Great Courses. Have you heard of this company? It sells “correspondence courses” for continuing education. In most cases, you get a stack of DVDs and a guide book and you just follow along. In the case of the wine course, we are also responsible for purchasing the appropriate wines for each lecture. (This is why embarking on this class with friends was a good idea: split the cost and the bottles!)

We have had two classes so far and my head is already swimming with terminology and things to remember. I promise — it wasn’t because of the wine we drank! We started with a Chablis and Chardonnay, and I drank less than a full glass of each. I plan on making flash cards to help me identify the tasting points the next time I’m at a wine bar. I’m going by the book with the 5 S’s of wine tasting: See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, and Savor. Interesting that Snobbery isn’t one of them, eh?? Regardless, it should be a fun course — and very educational at the same time!

As we coordinated drinking sessions lessons, one of the members dubbed the class VINO: Vinotherapy Institute for Noteworthy OverDrinkers. Admittedly, we got a few eye rolls from our husbands when we revealed our latest excuse to get together and drink a bunch of wine… But it’s all in the name of education!


You Can Call Me Betty

April 17, 2010 Food, Friends No Comments

As in Betty Crocker, that is.

I’ve been in the mood to cook lately. It might be the rainy weekends we’ve had. Having garden-fresh vegetables on-hand was probably a contributor as well. And there was certainly the pressure to fix a delicious meal for my book club last week. I enjoy cooking and I’m getting better at it all the time, so I consider it a beneficial hobby. (I’ve just got to get better at photographing what I’m doing!)

Last week, I went for a rainy bike ride on Sunday and came home instantly craving comfort food. I had all the ingredients on-hand to make a white bean tortellini soup for lunch and got to work on that. I make a few modifications to this recipe based on our tastes. I usually add a can of tomato sauce that adds more liquid and a heartier flavor overall. I also add red pepper flakes because we like it spicy. I have found that the smaller the tortellini, the better (thank goodness for Trader Joe’s). Once this was done, I proceeded to eat 3 bowls of it (Greg had one). I absolutely love it and it really hit the spot on that rainy, miserable day.

While I was putzing around in the kitchen over this soup, I also decided to make a pavlova (I actually halved the recipe for just the two of us). My friend Suzie fixed this dessert for a few of us last month and I fell in love with it. The crust is a little bit high maintenance, so I was preparing it for our after dinner treat. Everything worked out beautifully and we gobbled the whole thing up. It’s got a fair amount of sugar in it, but is otherwise not a horrible treat to indulge in. I used a thawed frozen berry medley, a fresh peach, and a fresh mango. DELICIOUS!

The dinner that preceded the pavlova was equally healthy and delicious. I was really on a roll that day! We had mahi mahi with harissa. This was a recipe from Women’s Health Magazine and the picture looked delicious. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of mine and can’t find the picture online. Hmmph! I served this with sauteed spinach, as suggested. The sauce didn’t overpower the fish and the garlicky spinach was the perfect accompaniment. Completely low carb as well. We ate like kings on Sunday!

For book club this week, I made a truffled asparagus crostini appetizer, then whipped up a skillet ravioli with chard and white bean main course (I substitute tiny ravioli instead of gnocchi as a matter of taste) served with a fairly standard issue green salad and then a mixed berry cobbler with vanilla bean ice cream for dessert. Oh – and wine. LOTS of wine. Our book club has been dubbed a “wine club with a reading problem” and that sums it up pretty well. I had the hangover yesterday to prove it…

I’ve got a refrigerator full of fresh vegetables — broccoli, chard, cabbage, spinach, Japanese sweet potatoes — to use up this week. I love being part of a CSA and the challenge of finding delicious ways to make use of the simple abundance of each week’s bounty.

What’s cooking at your house?


The Fabulous Sweeney Sisters – Comeback Tour 2009

December 10, 2009 Family, Friends, Fun No Comments

My sister Mendy came to California to celebrate our birthdays this year. She was really feeling the winter blues in Iowa and needed a plane ticket to calm her woes. It didn’t really matter where that plane took her, she just needed to know she had a short escape to look forward to. I was glad she chose to come here to celebrate our birthdays!

Having grown up with our birthdays one calendar day apart (December 3 and 4), Mendy and I are used to sharing the spotlight and being together. Our mother is the one to blame for the fact that after 37 and 35 years, respectively, Mendy and I still love to celebrate the days we were born. Many boyfriends, and now husbands, have cursed Sandy Sweeney for this very fact.

When we were kids, each of us got our OWN SPECIAL DAY with our OWN SPECIAL FRIEND and OWN SPECIAL MEAL and OWN SPECIAL ACTIVITY. As we grew into high school and beyond, it became a Shopping Extravaganza with Mom, Grandma Loris, and us two girls. There were many trips to either Omaha or Des Moines where Mendy would be miserable with a hangover (high school!!) or I would be miserable with a hangover (post-college!!). But, you give us enough Chinese food and we’ll rally for anything. Especially when Gram is buying!!!

This year, the party was at my house. Mendy came in on Thursday night — her birthday — and I took her to San Francisco for a happy hour sunset cruise on the Bay. It was admittedly chilly, but I didn’t feel like she could come this far without actually going to San Francisco. Plus, both of us love being on the water. We then had dinner at a nice restaurant close to home and kept the night relatively tame. Friday, Mendy woke up asking for a bloody mary and then we did a little light exercise before lunch and shopping. Mendy needed something cute to wear at the party! I hosted a small get-together at home for about 20 friends. It was the perfect mix of good people, good food, lots of drink, and lots of laughter. I kept looking around thinking, “This is my life. These people are here to see me and to celebrate with me. I am so grateful!”

Saturday was a bit of a lazy day. We finally got ourselves around in the afternoon and drove over to Half Moon Bay to bottle three cases of wine. The small winery there has these events every month and the bottles are only $4.95 each if you bring your own bottle. Melody called while we were headed back over the hill and we stopped at her place for happy hour. Indeed! Mendy, Greg, and I enjoyed Chinese take-out that night and promptly fell asleep about 30 minutes into a movie.

I went for a bike ride on Sunday while Mendy basked in a full weekend with no household chores of her own. We had plans to go to a friend’s improv comedy show that night. Melody and Phil joined us, and we had a light dinner at my house before Phil drove us up there as DD. It was a fun time! Melody made a complete ass of herself (in a good way!) by running onto the stage before they had even asked for audience participation — FALLING on the way! Holy cow we were laughing hard!! We each got a turn being part of the troupe and it was very fun all around.  Melody had fond memories of the “trip” for several weeks in the form of a nasty bruise. Can’t wait to go back!

Mendy’s flight was at 3 PM on Monday, so she and I had lunch with Aunt Carol near Jack London Square that day. Uncle Ron was lunching with a friend of his, so it was nice to be just us girls. I got Mendy to the airport in plenty of time and she didn’t have any trouble with her expired drivers license, but then she got delayed flying through Denver and didn’t get home until 2 AM.

Needless to say, it was a very fun birthday! I loved having my friends meet my sister in more of a social setting and really get to know her personality and see how different we really are. I liked hearing Greg and her banter back and forth and watch their relationship become easier. Taking stock on where I am at 35 years old has been a very pleasant experience: I have a husband I love dearly, no job that I hate going to, friends who like me for who I am, a strong and able body that allows me to do the things I love, and the knowledge to recognize all of it and be grateful.


Shaken, Not Stirred

November 6, 2009 Family, Fear, Friends No Comments

I made a joke in a previous post regarding midday drinking. I’m not going to lie — I really do enjoy midday drinking (as well as drinking at almost any other time of the day). But I have a good friend who is struggling with alcoholism and the afternoons are her witching hours. She isn’t working right now, and has found herself with nothing to do on a few afternoons. So she goes to the bottle. In Tuesday’s case, she went to the bottle-and-a-half of port wine.Which she drank while hiding in the basement.

She was grocery shopping yesterday afternoon and wandered down the booze aisle. She walked out with a bottle of wine that she went home and drank by herself. Today, she called me to ask if we could hang out this afternoon. This was right before she called another friend to accompany her while she checked herself into rehab.

Step 1.

Scary! Drinking can be a slippery slope for many people. We all want to believe that we can stop at any time. And most of us can! Until we can’t.

I am a self-described “heavy drinker.” I like drinking, and I’m good at it. My friends are often amazed at how much I can drink and still be fully functioning. I rarely have a hangover. I’m not saying this to brag; it’s a matter of fact. I like the idea of having a drink. I like holding a drink in my hand. I like the fun that I have with my friends when we’re drinking. It’s a very social activity for me. What makes me different than my friend is that I can walk away from it, or even the idea of it. Sitting here now, just after noon on a Friday, I am enjoying a beer. I ran 11 miles this morning and wanted a beer with my lunch. Fine. Once this beer is gone (and I usually leave the last ounce or so on a beer because it gets warm), I’ll get up and take my dog for a walk and not think about it again. Believe me, there is enough booze in this house to really tie one on. But I really just want the one beer.

I went back to Kansas City for a family wedding in June. I come from a family of drinkers and weddings are as good an excuse as any to raise our glasses and celebrate. Everyone was participating in the fun all weekend long. Good times! Monday morning, I got a call from my dad. He said, “Molly, I think you have a drinking problem.” I won’t lie, it was 10 AM and my first thought was, “Oh brother. I need a drink!” Instead, I took a deep breath and asked him why he thought that. He started asking me questions — Do I drink every day? How many drinks do I have when I drink? etc… I was able to put his fears to rest with my honest answers: I don’t drink every day. I sometimes will have a single glass of wine with dinner and put a cork in it – I don’t drink it until the bottle is gone just because it’s there. I don’t use alcohol as a crutch or a coping mechanism. Dad was relieved and I was grateful that we could have the honest conversation. He admitted that he thinks he walks very close to the edge, and alcoholism runs deep in the Sweeney family. Since then, I have really thought about my relationship with alcohol, and I’ve asked my friends who are closest to me their thoughts. We all agree that I do not have a drinking problem and that is a relief.

But the fear is there. Fear of having alcohol control me. Fear of someone telling me, “You’ll never be able to have a glass of wine again.” Fear of losing my husband, my friends, and my health. My friend is walking down this very scary path and I’ll be with her every step of the way to help. The things we used to do together often revolved around drinking, but I know that our friendship is deeper than a highball glass.