Friday, December 3, 2010

Holiday Smarts: Walk faster, Eat slower

It's the holidays. No snow in these parts. but frosty cold day and night -- with loads of twinkling lights in all the shops and cafes. Too bad our schedules are so darn tight, it's hard to find time to enjoy them.
In that vein, here are some short takes.

Brisk walks will make you happier, fitter, but we knew that. Turns out they also make you smarter. Which can come in very handy.

How to work at home and not get fat. Have you noticed how many people with normal traditional jobs work at home? Home office pros know a few tricks about staying in shape. Such as nourishing quick soups instead of chips. And fruit is healthy, but it's not a meal.
For more:

So, I officially vow to mix Chistmas shopping with peppy window-shopping walks and to concoct simple lunches of low-salt broth, veggies, beans and turkey. My reward is wine -- a spicy, old-vine Zinfandel at quitting time.
cheers to all,

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Breakfast for Dinner

Let's just say I'm not a morning person. They say creative types -- artists, writers, musicians and such -- are usually night people, but I'm surrounded by those types and they almost all are morning people, so there's another myth for you. Consequently I'm generally swimming upstream, so I've had to adapt.

One habit is to make time at sunset for my main outdoor exercise: powerwalking, cycling, washing the squirming dog. The light is usually beautiful and my energy level is buzzing.

Second, I've come to love breakfast for dinner. Nice, healthy meals with eggs, potatoes, lean ham, onions, avocados, hearty toast, grainy cereals, fruit or yogurt...or all of them. No way can we night people deal with substantial food before noon -- but breafast-for-dinner reminds me of 1920s flappers who lived for parties and started the day when the sun went down.
But there is the matter of wine. If you want to stir things up and try nighttime breakfasts, I've found that champagne is a charming complement (remember the flappers). Or else wait till the end of the meal and have a glass of port with your finishing fruit -- particularly if it's cataloupe or pineapple.

There are probably tons of ideas of things to eat and do when you consider turning the day upside down. Oh yeah, big, fat banana pancakes, I forgot to mention....Anyway, what are your clever thoughts?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Social Media or Social Critters

I think I'll name my next kitty "Twitter" and my next pooch "YouTube". Say it: "Hey, YuuuuTuuuube."
What pet should be called "Google"? Maybe the goldfish.
If you can't name a pet after it, maybe it's not a good name for a tech product.
(Lots of dogs I know should be called "Napster") "Blogger's" not bad either, but "WordPress" has no zing.
Go ahead and add your own, (I've gotta go feed Twitter.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Health and the Future of Business

I ran across this description of an unknown company and just had to share. It was cut out of a long business article I wrote back in 2008, and has a fun twist at the end:

"Farmed in the Amazon rainforest and vacuum packed for freshness just outside the forest, Amazonia’s range of natural forest fruits, plants and herbs has taken the worldwide market by storm. Americans appreciate that their purchases help preserve one of the earth’s last remaining ecosystems, but they plunk down their cash mainly because researchers at the Mayo-Harvard Clinic have proven that consuming the products can lengthen your life span.

Amazonia is the first company to elect a CEO by consumer voting in 2011 and the company has ten customers on its board that it rotates every six months. Amazonia co-develops new product lines with its customer base, taking on millions of suggestions annually and sharing revenue with the creators of the best ideas.

Amazonia sponsors all the health shows on the Discovery Broadcasting Corporation (DBC), including in-transit broadcasts on worldwide commuter networks. People watching the shows can buy Amazonia’s products and services using their embedded personal electronic device. The company sponsors the Global Elderly Games in North Korea, which plan to attract 20,000 athletes over the age of 70 competing in sports events including over 30 types of physical video games."

As you guessed, Amazonia is fictional. It comes from the fertile imagination of Ed Cotton, director of strategy at marketing agency Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, best known for its Mini Cooper ads.

You know, back in 2008 Amazonia sounded wildly futuristic. Today, I bet you thought for minute that it might be real. Next year, it probably will be.
What a world.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Drowning in Garden Tomatoes

Is it possible to have too many homegrown tomatoes? The answer is yes, and the condition is contagious.
Thanks to a summer that was slow to get out of bed (hot days didn't hit until late August) the green tomatoes hanging on the plants around here didn't turn red until, well, about 5 minutes ago. And they are all red right now, just when everybody is so busy with the wine harvest that they are never home.

As a result, when anyone has a get-together, all the guests bring tomato dishes -- and boy, are they inventive. At a BBQ this weekend, we had spicy Mexican salsa; black beans, tomatoes and onions; a chutney made exclusively with the sweetest tiny tomatoes; and a cabbage slaw with a dressing made with crushed tomatoes.
We're even going retro-- a neighbor reports she's baking them with breadcrumbs just like her mom did back in the '50s.
One BBQer said she has a plan: eat as many garden tomatoes as she possibly can during the season and then totally avoid the store-bought version the rest of the year. Call it tomato bingeing.

In case the tomato glut has hit your kitchen, check out these clever recipes. Do you have a favorite?
Let's binge away!

Fresh Tomato Pie ;

Fire and Fruit Yellow Tomato Salsa

Italian Bread Salad

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Zippy idea: Sell Car & Lose Pounds

I had to include this because it strikes me as so funny and so true. Maybe the easiest and most lucrative way to lose weight and get fit is to sell your family's second car on Craigslist. I just sold my car, don't plan on replacing it, and will keep you posted in three months if this holds true for me.

In any case , Zipcar is pushing the idea. Here's the scoop, (from Karl Greenberg at MediaPost) ..."Zipcar Inc. has launched a social media campaign called Low-Car Diet. The goal is to get people to give up their wheels for 30-days and use other means of mobility. The company did a similar effort last year, wherein some 252 people participated --and lost an overall total of 413 pounds."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Eat Play Bike

So it turns out treadmills are surprisingly big. As per my previous post, I wanted a machine to help me and my energetic pup get a better workout, and I thought a treadmill was the answer. But alas, it didn't fit in my small house. Not even close. Then I turned to a machine that I already had, and one that could stand up to the elements out on the deck.

It's my bike, of course. Now I take my life in my hands almost every day and run Einstein-the-dog up and down the less-traveled neighborhood streets. It's a workout because every muscle in my body is tensed as I speed along. Luckily, we've had no major mishaps so far, despite the best efforts of cats, skateboarders, squirrels and passing pit bulls. But I do hear a lot of giggles from drivers and passersby as the two of us zigzag down the road.
I guess I've learned--once again -- that getting a workout is where you find it. And sometimes you can entertain the town while you are at it. (The movie "Eat Pray Love" has nothing on us.)

After these shenanigans, my bemused hubby and I have been enjoying some good summertime wine with peanuts-in-the-shell on the porch. Most of our favorite bottles are made by winemaker friends and not available for sale, but one storebought success is Rosenblum's Zinfandel. Plus, a neighbor who works at Ferrari-Carrano always has wonderful bottles of Pinot Noir to share.

So stay upright and have fun in the sun.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Machine to the Rescue?

I just got back from a rare afternoon walk in the sunshine. Rare, because it is under 90 degrees out and I didn't have email calling me back to my desk. The break served to loosen some ideas for a new small-business advice column, so you could say I was working. But as I led my dog Einstein to the front door, his sad face couldn't hide his reluctance that our walk was over so soon.

And then it hit me. We need to get a treadmill. Why? Because I was as reluctant as Einstein, really. And I felt like I needed more of a workout. I can't believe that I would consider something as mundane and mechanical -- and as big --- as a boring old treadmill. But it's true. At our home, both man and beast could use what that machine has to offer. An efficient, predictable and always available way to get exercise. And, just like when I used to go to the gym, I can crank the incline up and really work my muscles for a short burst of time.
The fact of the matter is my town is flat, we have to drive to find hills to walk and it's not happening despite good intentions.
So there you have it. A treadmill. Me.

By the way, here's a followup to my earlier porch pairing idea. One of our favorite dinners as we sit outside and watch the world go by is fish tacos and Rose of Pinot Noir. You can use any leftover grilled fish with lots of lime juice, a little salsa and lightly dressed cole slaw in a warm tortilla. Excellent. The dry, fruity flavor of the Rose wine is a cheerful foil to the food, especially if you add a bit of apple, pear, pineapple or another fruit to the cole slaw.

Fish in tacos, outdoors-lovers on treadmills. What's the world coming to?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Pinot and Porch Rebellion

I’ve come to think that there is something subversive about front porches. They seem nice in theory – but a apparently not so useful in fact. Many folks I know here in cheery wine country do a great job fixing up their backyards with shiny new BBQs, lush flower beds and big veggie gardens. And then they spend all their outdoor time admiring their handiwork. You can’t blame them, with such inviting yards—but the front porch where they can see their charming neighborhood is silent and neglected.

I guess we are the rebels. At my house we do only minimum work in the backyard and have picked the porch for our evening glass of wine and hangout spot. Now it’s become a regular meeting place for apartment and condo dwelling friends as well as for some of those backyard-loving neighbors. We watch the dogwalkers go by, see the trees turn green then gold and greet the folks next door. Along with some seasoned almonds and guacamole-and-tortilla chips we try the latest everyday wine find. Malbec wines from Argentina and Cabernet from Toad Hollow Vineyards are popular this month. Often, wine on the porch turns into a sunset stroll around the town, usually with the family pooch.

As I write this I think that could be a new category for me: Front Porch Wine Pairings. Hmmmm. More on that to come.

No porch at your place? Here’s a calendar to get you in the mood.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Singing in the Rain

It's spring and it's still soaking wet. I've learned, once again, that dogs don't understand about rain. They want to go for their walk no matter how drippy and smelly they get. But heaven help that they have to go outside in the soggy weather for bathroom duties. My puppy Einstein has been known to stick his little wiener out the doggie door to take a long overdue pee, while keeping his back legs in the house where it is warm and dry.

But walking is a whole other story. Water be damned. Walking is an instinct we should all have, not just dogs. To keep moving, get outside, see things. Every single day. It would probably take the sharp edge off all our stress.

Don't believe you are moody or stressed? It turns out we just have to look at what foods we crave to learn what our mood is. Some researchers believe many moods send specifics signals to our bodies (i.e. stressed adrenal glands could send salt-craving signals). So think about your food cravings. Mine are usually for crunchy chips. Now compare:
° tough foods, like meat, or crunchy foods mean we're angry.
° candy means we're depressed.
° ice cream means we're anxious.
° salty foods mean we're stressed out.
° filling foods like pasta mean we're lonely or sexually frustrated.

Yikes, what a mess we are! Certainly it's time to learn from Einstein and get out there -- rain or shine -- and walk off some of those gloomy moods. Then, as we dry off, share a nice glass of Pinot with a pal. Just hold the chips.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Not for the Picky

I admit it. We wine-and-foodies often take ourselves way too seriously here in Healdsburg and the rest of vineland.

That's why you gotta love this online “poetry” collection I stumbled upon while working on a story. It’s Spam recipe Haiku and it’s a kick. A quick sampling…

“Fried SPAM and white rice.

Nitrates and fiber combo.

Breakfast of champi'ns.”

Or here’s another;

“Cold SPAM canapés

Served up by John Belushi—

Martha Stewart's Hell!”

And in case you wondered,

“Pork and Beans and SPAM

with Macaroni and Cheese
and a fine Merlot”

for more, see

Who knows, maybe next time I'll cover Cheez Whiz.
Other ideas?