Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Share, The Women for Women Cookbook

 I attended a lunch last week at the beautiful California home of my generous friend Stefanie. 

We had the loveliest day and even better, it was for a great organization I knew nothing about, but now am excited to help...

Stefanie's friend, Lauri Pastrone is the one of the creators of Share, the cookbook of  Women for Women International.  Stefanie got the fun idea to have women from our community gather to hear more about this book and what WFW does while enjoying food from the book for lunch. Brilliant!

Women for Women helps women in war ravaged countries rebuild their lives with financial aid, job skills, education about human rights and emotional support. 

Share is a beautiful cookbook that weaves the stories of some of these women who have been helped by WFW, with recipes from those areas and others contributed by chefs and humanitarians around the globe. 

Those women who could, helped by making a dish from the cookbook to share. Stefanie sent copies around for a few salads, desserts and soups and 3-4 of us each made one of a selection of about 8 of the dishes. 

This was nice as we got to try the food from the cookbook and know a little more about what kind of recipes were in it.

I was given Paul McCartney's Super Vegetable Salad.

First you boil small potatoes while steaming green beans, carrots, and broccoli above it.
You add all these when cooled to a bed of romaine and sliced cherry tomatoes.

 The dressing is a mix of red wine, mustard, olive oil and a tiny bit of maple syrup that really makes the salad. It was so good and easy I made it the next night again for the family, but with more tomatoes.

A fantastic recipe for summer party.

 I also made the orange scented, olive oil almond cake this weekend and it was a hit and easy as well.

Below is a version of it one of the ladies made. In my home interpretation I added almonds and home made whipping cream. It's so good my husband swore it had marzipan in it. It's a very moist and dense cake.

Stefanie in her pretty kitchen with just a few of the many yummy dishes we all brought and tried.

This recipe was Robin Wright's lettuce wraps and one of my favorites it was so delicious.

 Whoever made this used 2 colors of lettuce and how gorgeous!

Some of the soups from the book.

 Aren't they clever putting them in these little cubes bought at a party store?

We got to try a lot of delicious salads from this book!

Stefanie's backyard was set like a resort for this lunch. She is an effortless entertainer.

 Stefanie talking to Lauri about the work getting this book made by a publisher willing to donate their profits...Wasn't easy, but they did it! 

I was really moved by Lauri's story of how as a young mom, feeling alone, she began by sponsoring a woman. She shared a bit of one of the letters she received by one of the women she has sponsored over the years. It was tough to listen to what just this one women had been through.

The lives of women in these war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Kosovo, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are hard to even imagine. Due to wars, they often have no real homes, are often married off at an unbelievably early age, and never given any skills or education.

When something happens to the husband or families, these women have no ability to earn and know nothing about their rights as women. They are often abused by family members. They have no life coping skills and usually many mouths to feed. 

The wonderful thing about Women for Women is they operate right in the areas where these women live, and the programs are run by locals. 

You can Support a Sister with a small $30 a month donation for one year. That allows her to participate in the one year program and she also gets some of that money to help her get on her feet.

Looking through the book many of us got to chat with Lauri, second from left, about the making of this cookbook. So many wonderful chefs like Jesse Cool, Alice Waters and Jamie Oliver as well as humanitarians like Livia Firth, Lauren Bush Lauren, Annie Lenox, Nelson Mandela and many more have contributed recipes. Not only is the food delicious and healthy, it's pretty simple. The book is  just filled with gorgeous photos. 

I especially liked reading the chapters on each country they help in. The book shows the statistics of women there and includes a personal story of a women in the program. Following that are also recipes from each region.

Purchasing a Share cookbook helps one women for a month. To sponsor a woman in one of these war-torn countries, who needs to rebuild her life, read more and sign up to help here

Women for Women has a Facebook page where we can read more about what they are up to and also an Instagram where they share many of the inspiring women who are making a better life for themselves on it. The Women for Women International site has some terrific video about where they are working and who they are helping. I also loved how the website shows how helping women help themselves, creates lasting positive change in the world. Women make the world go round, and make huge difference when they have a voice in family and community decisions.

 Just think what change we could make in the world by empowering and helping more women. If everyone who could afford it did it for a year, what a difference we can make. Women helping other women helps more women. They estimate for every women helped by this program, five more are also... It trickles down.

Thank you for letting me share this wonderful organization with you. I love Women for Women's  idea that we are all in this together as women and by helping each other we make a better world for us all.

Thank you Stefanie Nelson, for generously opening your home and having the idea for this. Hopefully, others will follow your lead and even more women can find out about WFW!

 Lauri Pastrone, thank you for sharing your passion for helping women with this inspirational book!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Life, Thoughts, & Good Things

It's that busy time of the year. I've barely had time for blogging.

So much I have been wanting to share too. I've got a few post coming, but not enough time to work on them.

 The school year is rapidly coming to a close. I think I've said it before, but each year seems to fly faster than the last.

This top outfit is what I wore to a symphony I got to attend thanks to my son... Finally mom perks!

I had the dress for ages. It's a simple sheath and I was excited to give these new sandals a go. I bought them at our local She She shoes, one of my favorite places to shop  in town. I like to go to small businesses whenever I can. They are Ivanka Trump and are on sale now everywhere. If you can't get to a small town shop you can find them at Nordstrom.  They are more flattering than I would have thought for a flat shoe and are mixing them in is making my clothes feel a bit more hip.

The first year of junior high went by fast for Griffin. He is into all sorts of things and cello is one thing he loves and I hope will continue. The other is Scouts.

His bald head from the St Baldrick's Day is finally growing in.

With flowers for his teacher who we was playing violin in the symphony.

 Don't you love the Jacaranda trees in Downtown San Jose here?

The beautifully restored California Theatre where Symphony Silicon Valley plays.

 The concert included Jon Nakamatsu, a winner of the Van Cliburn competition. He played Rachmaninoff. It was amazing and one of those experiences I'll never forget. He was so dramatic and had so much energy and speed, my arms were vibrating after. Weird. 

I had to sneak this IPhone photo...
I cannot believe how long it took me to see them. Once you experience a show like this, you want to do it again. Symphony SV (Silicon Valley) is world class.

Speaking of music, Jackson is my guitar playing high schooler.

Somehow he's going to be a junior next Fall. I don't quite believe it..

In the keeping it real realm, it's been a bit dodgey for both my boys this year. It's almost like some roller-coaster. We are on honor roll, we're not, we have Ds and Fs, we are on honor roll again and so on. I find papers under bean bags, in underwear drawers (along with uneaten lunch items), under the bed and mainly crushed under clothes! 

I really have been meaning to write about this.. Sophomore year began innocently enough and quickly the buzz was all about securing private college tutors and private SAT prep. You know how that works, moms all start talking about it. I began to get extreme stress and panic by Christmas about this. The feeling around the high-achieving area where we live is do everything you can to get your kids in the best school. 

Something about it just didn't feel like the right fit for us though. It just felt a bit forced and too much too soon at least for my son. He takes AP classes, but yet still can't manage to even use a 3 ring binder! "Next year mom," he tells me with a smile.  He has many talents like tennis, guitar, building motorized bikes for a friend's business, writing and learning software coding, and also drawing. He's bright and funny and brilliant at so much. 

I started to breathe a bit more about this when so many kids in our area who got 4.0 and above grades still did not get into the University of California school system that is so coveted here.. A ridiculous situation due to our state barely funding higher education anymore. 

Junior college is looking like a possible better way into U.C.? I think he may be taking longer to figure this out and all that..

I don't think that's the prevailing view where we are though. I feel like I am alone in this view except for a few..

Any thoughts from those who have done this already? 

Big height differential now with my guys!

On a more fun note, Max and I got invited to a cool cooking class at our pals Rob and Christina's home a week or so ago..

You Say Tomato is the brainchild of one British transplant and talented cooking teacher, Gemma Ward. She does classes in your home if you are in the South Bay Area, or you can even drop-in at her own kitchen.

  We began with watermelon-basil martinis! Great start right?

Our class that night was Thai cooking and it just happened to be gluten- free as well.
We made spring rolls, lettuce wraps with chicken and green curry. All delicious and easy.

It was fun, but I also learned some great new techniques like the proper way to brown ground chicken, (or turkey),  how to make the perfect jasmine rice without a cooker, and even making delicious sauces.

Gemma adds in these little tidbits of wisdom as you watch her prepare your meal in front of you. Some of the steps you can help with. Mainly you watch, learn and enjoy!

The delightful Gemma.

 I love her You Say Tomato Blog. It's chock full of for great recipes and her classes page for schedules and current courses available.

You are sent home with a step-by-step guide and a little treat.

How do you like our treat? The hot peppers and fish sauce needed for great Thai dishes!
 The bottle was enough to send my kids screaming!

I hope to drop in or host my own. My cooking is in a serious rut. Spring fever? I tend to check out of cooking about this time of year. Do you get like that?

I'm dreaming of summer already.

One summer treat that I indulged in last weekend was a frosted mocha from Cafe Barone, in Menlo Park.

Going there for lunch on the patio is quite a scene. Lots of techies, students from Stanford plus lots of dogs. It's good people watching and attracts a cosmopolitan group. It's not fancy at all, but the food is really fantastic. Breakfast there is especially a treat. Very fresh egg dishes, toasted baguettes, fresh juices and more. For lunch I love their chicken salad sandwich on raisin bread. If I get all the way up here I'll usually go for the mocha too.

It's as good as it looks. Beware those are coffee beans..I got heart palpitations last time, but it was worth it. ;D

What makes this a treat is the Kepler's bookstore which is attached. It's one of the few independent bookstores left in the Bay Area and I could spend all day there.

So much to love!

Home Made Summer. Gorgeous photos and recipes. I really want this book. I have the Winter version and they are both beautiful. If you cannot get to Kepler's then you can get it at Target too.

Love the possibilities here for outdoor parties and making alfresco meals.

Check out this fabulous book. Heirloom Modern is a wonderful tome about using those things handed down to you in a fresh way that's chic not frumpy. I love it's ideas since I have so many pieces that I  from my grandmother and I try to incorporate them into my more California vibe house. Very cool book.

I am always drawn to the paper items of bookstores. I love a good notecard or notebook.

Kepler's has a nice selection of California themed stationery. There are some wonderful vintage postcards of Stanford, the Golden Gate and more iconic landmarks.

 California books as well.

I bought this Paris Street Style book. I may do a post about this later. So many cool interviews with French women on how their style evolved and the hacks they do everyday to keep their style new.

It's not another about how fab French women are..(Though they are!!) It's more about their inspirations and refusal to be mainstream.  I need this.. Ideas about raiding your kid's closet, chopping your clothes with your own sheers and more wacky, but innovative thoughts. Green too. They aren't all about buying the latest item, but making something out of what you own.

I'll let you know what I come up with!

This week I came across photos from our first trip to France with the family.

Hard to believe this was almost 9 years ago!

We were pretty brave to bring these little monkeys with us, but it was one of the best trips.
 (Maybe that is just hind-sight?) They were 3 and 6...And I just 40.
Le sigh... Time is going too fast!!

The highlight of last week ...

 Last weekend my mom met with a best friend and roommate with whom she had lost touch for 50 years!!  Thanks to her friend Karen's daughter, Suzanne (named after my mom incidentally), who found my mom on Facebook, we had the nicest lunch with the two of them.

It is really hard to believe that much time had passed, they were both giggling right off.
Mom and I are just hoping now we get to spend more time with both of them soon. Karen and mom don't know how they lost touch. This was the 60s and they were busy raising kids and Karen moved out of state. 

Don't lose touch with those special friends who just get the real you.

As moms and wives, we sometimes get caught up in life and work and friends take a backseat. Making time for friends though, is like making time for you. Good friends just make you feel young and like a kid again. It's very important to your health if you want to live a long and happy life to make your friends a priority!

Now call a friend and make plans!

x Kim

Thursday, May 15, 2014

IGTravel Thursday- Instagrams from Napa

Today I'm joining my fellow bloggers from  the Napa Valley trip to be part of Skimbaco's Instagram Travel Thursday.

Skimbaco, a lovely travel and lifestyle site, asked us to chose our favorite Instagrams from our Napa Valley trip.

I was only too happy to sift through the photos and relive my favorites....

I just love this!

Our first lunch together at Yountville's Redd.

  A dressed up alfresco cocktail gathering at our lovely Andaz Hotel's Mercantile Terrace restaurant.

Andaz's fabulous breakfasts- quinoa pear oatmeal!

Waking up in my dreamy room at Andaz.

 And speaking of dreamy, (did I say that ;), Domaine Carneros with the sparkling wine expert and host, Sean Donaghue.

The unbelievable views and the beauty of the Chateau.

The fabulous bubbly!!

Pine Ridge Vineyards' wonderful Rose' and their very deep wine cave.

 Sipping wine while wandering through their Stag's Leap Vineyard was an unforgettable experience.

The pretty Merryvale and meeting it's equally as beautiful and sweet proprietress, Laurence Schlatter.

I just love Tamera and Laurence's chic and summery stripes.

Merryvale's historic cask room.

I'm dreaming of the dinners we could have there.

The loveliest lunch ever on Merryvale's veranda with their cold Sauvignon Blanc. 

I want to go back!!

Barrel tasting and learning about Merlot with winemaker Mike Bolen at his small batch winery.

Bolen Winery was a blast!

Our final lunch at the charming Archetype in St Helena.

A must for anyone into decor who appreciates the details as we all did.

What a find this was.

Of course our trip wouldn't be anything without our expert Napa guide and driver, Mike of Napa Valley Tours and Transportation.

We loved Mike!

This trip was a lot of fun, but the time spent with these women was the best part.

I came back feeling so inspired and enlightened by these amazing ladies.

To see more ITTravel Instagrams from these four, follow Adrienne of The Rich Life,  Heather of StyleMindChic, Tamera of Tamera Beardsley and Jennifer of A Well Styled Life. You can also find our guide Mike Johnson who takes fantastic shots of his region at Napa Chauffeur.

We are sharing and connecting with other traveling bloggers today who are using Instagram.

You can join our Instagram Travel Thursday just by adding #IGTravelThursday to your photos on Instagram!

Find more travel blogs and stories at Skimbaco Lifestyle and visit Leigh at The Hines Sight Blog.