When my mom was alive, here’s how our Mother’s Day always went.  After a lovely home cooked brunch, we would go see a movie, grab a glass of wine afterwards, and meet our family at dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.  No presents.  No flowers.  Just time.  Time spent with one of my favorite people on the planet.  Munching on popcorn and hot tamales in the theatre.  Giving our best Siskel and Ebert review of the movie over a glass of Rombauer chardonnay.  Happily eating out because we didn’t have to cook… or clean!  It was always a day I looked forward to.  Not for the “thing” I might get.  But because of the intangible gift of time. When you lose THAT gift, you truly realize how precious it is.  So now that I’m a mom, time is all I want with my kids.  I wake them up early sometimes, just because I missed them overnight.  I sometimes deny their request for sleepovers simply  because I want them staying with me. I look forward to Darrin being out of town because the kids and I know this means we all sleep together in my big bed like a pile of puppies.  So like all of you moms reading this, I’m sure your request for Mother’s Day is the same as mine;  TIME.  NBA MVP Kevin Durant probably said it best:


Whole Foods Chocolates

Whole Foods Chocolates

Valentine’s Day is a day for chocolate, champagne and red roses.  Right?  Yes, well sort of!  This year, I would like it to be the year you give your loved one the gift of knowledge.  Knowledge that could save a life.  Knowledge about the dangers of dense breast tissue.  On January 24th, I gave a TEDx talk at the University of Nevada.  It was one of the proudest moments of my life.  So for this Valentine’s Day, I’m asking you to watch my talk, send it on to those you love and help me spread the message about dense breast tissue.  I was part of a day of knowledge at Microsoft Licensing in Reno recently and because of that day 2 women discovered they had breast cancer even though their mammograms showed NOTHING.  Women need to know their density.  Learn more by watching my talk.  Ok, I’m not a total Valentine’s Day buzz killer.  So here’s the deal!  Whole Foods now has some amazing chocolates.  They come in flavors like milk chocolate with cinnamon hazelnut cream, dark chocolate with caramel  and vanilla buttercream and milk chocolate with rich caramel.  An entire box of goodness is just 10 dollars!  But you can win one for free!!  Just watch my video and then make a comment or email me about how cancer has affected you.  I will pick the comment that means the most to me ON MONDAY in time for Whole Foods to get you your box of chocolates by Valentine’s day.  Good luck!!  (in case you can’t see my tedx talk below, here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQPLMWuTlWQ


You know what I hate about Halloween?  No, not the candy.  Really.  That doesn’t bug me that much.  It’s the small pieces of wrapper that drive me insane.  My kids will eat a Snickers one day and even though it comes in ONE wrapper, by the time they’ve devoured the candy, the wrapper is in 16 little pieces all over my house.  Even when they stand over the garbage can, tiny pieces of candy foil end up on the floor because they’ve fluttered right past the damn waste basket.  I don’t get it.  Kids and candy don’t mix in my house.  Not because of the candy but because of the wrappers.  So imagine my excitement when this came across my desk at work.

The Switch Bag is BRILLIANT!  And what’s even better?  Two Reno gals wrote and illustrated it.  These two geniuses are both architects.  When times were slow in their office, they got busy putting together a book to help save my sanity.  The gist is that kids get to keep a couple of pieces of candy but the rest goes out onto the front porch in The Switch Bag.  The next morning, presto, a little gift is in the place of all the candy wrapped in wrappers that would have otherwise ended up all over the floor of my house.  LOVE IT!  And what’s even better… it’s one day!  Unlike its cousin who comes in December and stays the whole damn month, this little super hero comes just once, not to return until the following October.  Did I mention these Reno gals are BRILLIANT!  So hurry, get your copy here:

So come post Halloween, you can actually vacuum your house without ruining our vacuum on those tiny pieces of wrapper.



I was “that mom” this past weekend.  “That mom” who walked sheepishly up to the local haunted house with her elementary school age children in tow. No, I probably shouldn’t be taking them to a haunted house called Frightmare for at least a couple more years. But truth be told, I’ve waited long enough! I love haunted houses. They scare the crap out of me and IT’S GREAT! I’ve been dying for the kids to be old enough to go with me.  Well, I might have jumped that gun just a tad this year. Eva is 10.  Come on! 10!! Domi is 8. Make that 8 and a half! 8 and a half!! My God, how old do they  have to be now-a-days to scare the crap out of your kids??  Back when I was a kid, my Mom took us to the Walnut Creek haunted house starting at 5 and 7. Of course she’s the same woman who took me to see Jaws IN THE MOVIE THEATRE at age 3. Now that’s crazy. My parents didn’t have a child rated filter… for anything. We went everywhere with them. “Hey Honey, I want to go see Jaws tonight.” “Great idea! Throw the kids in the back of the Pinto and let’s go!” So that’s why I had no problem bringing my kids to Frightmare. Yes, I did take note they were the youngest kids there. And yes, I should have heeded the warning when a teenage girl right in front of us got out of line and left. But I really wanted to go! There, I said it. I was the one who wanted to go. Not my kids. I was the driving force behind this Saturday night activity. And I couldn’t wait!! At Frightmare, there are 4 houses you go through. We went into the Black Hole first. It was a mind tripping experience. You walked a plank while the room spins around you. We all wanted to throw up afterward.  Next up… Zombie Farm. Now it gets real people. Real creepy! We entered a run down shanty and all hell broke loose. Zombies popped out from behind doors. A bloody girl zombie with extra long zombie arms played the piano… until she got up and chased after us. Something horrible and bloody happened in the bathroom and every zombie in there went after us. At one point, I lost Eva because she just flat-out started running.  I couldn’t run after her because Domi was now clinging to my leg. And honestly, I was scared to death! Frightmare is a total understatement. This is living hell on Elm Street on Friday the 13th with Jason and Jaws coming after you.  And what’s worse, this house was huge!  We kept turning corner after corner and entering worse and worse torture chambers.  It just wouldn’t end.  Finally, Eva darted left, hit a black curtain and Praise Jesus, we were back in the parking lot.  As we stumbled to safety, I murmured, “I nearly peed my pants.” Domi replied, “Nearly??? I did pee my pants.”  Needless to say, we skipped the last two houses. Frightmare, you killed it this Halloween season!  Nice job!




One of life’s greatest pleasures, ok maybe I just see it this way, is having an ice cold beer after a dirty workout. Now, I say dirty, because the beer only tastes sinfully good to me after a trail run, mountain bike ride or any other outdoor activity where you finish back at the car filthy. Mud on shoes, dirt like warpaint on your face, fingernails black. I love those workouts. And I almost love the post beer just as much. So imagine my pure pleasure when Darrin and I discovered The Brewing Lair.




It’s Blairsden’s (about 70 minutes outside of reno) newest gem. But unlike the bakery, which is right on mainstreet, the brewery is a bit harder to find. It’s off Highway 70 about a hundred yards to the east of the turnoff into Blairsden.




There’s a small sign on the highway…








and then this guy…


to assure you you’re on the right dirt road. And at the top, a beer lover’s haven.


The building is small, but hip. The conditioning tanks line the walls, beermaster Rich never stops moving as he does everything from pouring beers to washing the glasses, and then there’s the tour.








It’s a self guided tour that takes you around the property as you sip on 5 different beers Rich is highlighting. On our stop, one of them tasted like a bite of pizza! It was earthy and herby and finished off with a hint of oregano. Oddly delicious! The IPAs, which is my favorite type of beer, were all fantastic. Be sure to try the red. And you know why this is such a great brewery?? Yes, the beer… but because of this!








You got that right. A frizbe, or the cool cats call it disc, golf course.  And Rich even thought of things for the kids to do.










Eva and Domi love slack lines and sure enough, The Brewing Lair has one. Dogs are even allowed here, off leash! The property expands into the timber so there’s plenty of land to explore. But most, just sit at the picnic tables enjoying the beer. Oh ya, and there’s no food. But Rich is fine with you bringing in your own!








So here’s your plan the next time you head up to the Graelge area. Drive to main street Blairsden. On the left, there’s a new food truck (I’m guessing during summer only) that has great pulled pork sandwiches. Grab enough of those for your party, head back to the brewery ( a 2 minute drive) and enjoy your afternoon.


Stay thirsty, my friend.















I’m not Irish, I’m Scottish! And damn proud of it. But when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, I’m all about going green and eating Irish. Seriously though, what other day do you actually want to eat like an Irishman? Sorry my Irish friends (Emma McKeen), but food is not your forte!


However, God bless the Irish, because apparently you all came up with the corned beef. I’ve been making this recipe for the past couple of years and it’s the best corned beef I’ve ever had. Honestly, it rules!  However the secret, like with any beef roast, is you have to make sure you cook it long enough. This recipe calls for 5 hours at 250 degrees for a 3 pound roast. Cook it longer if you have a few extra pounds. You should be able to shred it with a fork. That sentence makes my mouth water! I serve it with a dollop of Dijon mustard on the side… although it’s not necessary!


I’m not sure where I got this recipe. Since it’s hand written, in my handwriting, I’m going to just call it my own. Feel free to file it under “Wendy’s Corned Beef!” HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’S DAY!!!




So you know I recently turned 41. THANK YOU for all your birthday wishes. I really look at my birthday as a national holiday. I take the day off. I do whatever I want. I eat dessert during breakfast and dinner. You catch the drift. I LOVE MY BIRTHDAY. So the fact you guys thought of me on January 11th means a lot! So I thought I would give you my take on getting older.

I begin with the 20′s.


Take a look at those cheeks! Yep, I’m sitting in the same newsroom I currently work in. Winning! Are we all still using that exclamation? Back to the 20′s. They were hard. They were really hard. Why? Because in your 20′s you work hard at everything. You work hard at getting out of college. Then you get your first real job and you have to work hard to prove yourself. But at the same time, you’re also working hard on your personal life and trying to find the right mate. Don’t get me wrong. The 20′s were a load of fun, but they were hard because you’re trying to figure out who you are during that transition from being a college kid to a career woman. Do you think I was eating in that picture? Or maybe that’s another reason the 20′s were so hard.  You’re trying to lose the baby fat!

The 3o’s.


Ok, the 30′s SUCKED!  I am not going to water this decade down.  That’s because you are now married and having kids.  Only problem is neither one comes with a manual to help you out.  Plus, you’re still not exactly where you want to be in your career.  So not only are you learning to be a wife, figuring out how to be a parent, you’re still trying to prove yourself at work.  So while there were a lot of bright moments in the 30′s, the decade as a whole SUCKED!  At least the chipmunk cheeks are gone.  Oh ya, that’s because in the 30′s your babies are sucking every ounce of nutrition out of you while you’re  pregnant and then breastfeeding.   Plus, you’re sleeping much Much MUCH less than the recommended 8 hours a night.  But hey!  Women actually look better in their 30′s than in their 20′s… just my opinion. 

And now the 40′s.


This is my decade!  This is where we’re smarter, better, happier, more confident.  The kids are now a little more on auto pilot…  At least they can wipe their own ass.  You’ve figured out the marriage… Well, half  have and the other half divorced and hopefully will figure it out on spouse number 2.  And work is what it is… Either you hate it and will until the day you retire or you’re lucky like me and you love your job and the job loves you right back.  Of course staying in the same newsroom since your 20′s probably helps with that.  In fact,  I chose this final picture for two reasons.  1) See that desk behind me?  On the right side of the picture?  That’s where my 20 year picture was taken.  Boy I’ve come far!  And see the feather I’m holding?  That’s from a PIGEON that flew out from that closet right behind me and flew over my head, right at Kristen, down the hallway, and out the newsroom door. This happened about a month ago.  I meant to write a blog post about it, but what the hell do you say about a pigeon coming out of nowhere, dropping a feather on your desk, and flying away?  I guess new things can happen in a room you’ve worked at for almost 20 years.   And that’s the joy of getting older.



Following Christmas, the attention (ok my attention) goes to the next big thing. My birthday! I was actually due in December of 1971 but I was 2 weeks late!! My poor Mom! So January 11th is a big day… At least for me. I LOVE my birthday. It’s the one day I get to decide exactly what I want to do. (Traditionally I call my out of town friends at 5am so they can wish me a happy birthday. Yes it’s an asshole thing to do. No I don’t care it’s before sunrise when their phones ring! It’s my birthday!!) And this year I’m going bowling. Well, I was going bowling until this conversation happened.
I was talking to my friend Megan and we were making plans to bowl at the National Bowling Stadium (yes, Reno has a National Bowling Stadium. And no, locals can’t bowl in it. It’s just for professionals. I’m not kidding. But once a year members of a group called the Prospectors get to play there and this year it’s on my birthday!) So we are sitting at my bar talking about our plans when suddenly Eva says to me, “but mom, if you go bowling I won’t get to spend your birthday with you.” I gazed down at those mournful hazel eyes and nearly cried. My 9 year old wanted to be with me and she felt excluded from one of my favorite days of the year. I was making plans right in front of her that didn’t include her. I was heartbroken and humbled at the same time. How much longer will my kids actually want to be with me on my birthday? How much longer will they even realize the importance of January 11th? People always say time goes so quickly with your kids and it suddenly hit home with me at that very moment. That moment I will never forget when my daughter truly wanted to share my birthday with me. And right then I turned to Megan and said, “It’s my birthday and I’m not bowling.” Instead I will be with my kids and my husband. And that’s exactly where I want to be.



This post was supposed to be posted two weeks ago. But I wanted it to have a happy ending and it’s taken this long to get one. You know I love family traditions. My poor kids are dragged 20121217-213628.jpgthrough each holiday, each one with their specific tradition that HAS TO BE DONE. “Yes, you are making Nevada Day cookies. I don’t care if you hate cookies,” was my last attempt at a cheerful holiday tradition. No, I don’t do these things for the kids… although I do believe one day, probably once I’m dead, my kids will appreciate them. But for now, these holiday traditions are for me. Tough. Deal with them kids! So on the day after Thanksgiving, like every other year, we headed out to cut down our family Christmas tree. We always go with friends, but the location we cut is always different. This year, we headed into Dog Valley which is on the easter slope of the Sierra outside Reno. What’s funny (to me!) is I always do a 178 mile relay race during the summer and the hardest leg is Dog Valley. We always make my Little Friend Lynn run it, but never give her credit for doing anything impressive. Well… that might have been a little unsupportive. My CAR had a hard time getting up Dog Valley. I can’t imagine getting up that hill on my legs! Anyway, back to the tree hunt. We bounced along for about an hour on old logging roads and finally came to a stop thick within the forest. As we always do when out in the wild, we went over forest safety with the kids. We told them if they get lost, to hug a tree and yell so we can find you. Our son, Dominic, says, “Oh, should I scream ‘Caw Caw, Caw Caw?’” Um… yes, Dominic, sound like a natural bird in the forest, so while I’m frantically running up and down mountains looking for you, I go the OTHER WAY because I think you’re A DAMN BIRD! Must be Darrin’s side of the family! So after adding a kid leash to Domi (not really, but I wanted to) we headed out and found the perfect tree.


It only took about 20 minutes which is REALLY good for us. However, since it’s been such a wet fall, the tree weighed 10-thousand pounds. I’m not exagerating. I could barely lift the top end. Fortunately, we had a young buck with us and I made him do it!


Him being our friend Ryan who had nothing better to do than drag all of our trees up the mountainside and back to the cars. Hey, when you’re the single dude who doesn’t have kids bitching at you every holiday because they hate your annual traditions, that’s what you get.








After tying down the trees, we had a forest picnic of homemade chili that I opened from cans (hey! It was made in someone’s home… or factory), corn bread and homemade chocolate caramel pecan pie (I really made that one! It was left over from yesterday’s Thanksgiving dinner… And no one ate it… That’s why I open cans when I can, people!!).


With everyone fully fed, we piled back into our cars, strapped EVERYONE in, and headed back to Reno.










After keeping the tree outside for about 10 days, we finally brought all 12 feet of her inside to our entry way. I like to call it the Christmas Tree Room… because that’s all it’s good for. And then THE task began. Yes, the task of hanging the lights. I HATE putting on Christmas tree lights. Literally, I would rather free fall from outer space back down to Earth than hang Christmas tree lights. But after a few glasses of wine, and some peppy Christmas music on the radio, I’m done and the kids and I begin hanging the ornaments we’ve collected from all over the world during our travels.



We all went to bed that night feeling like Christmas was offically here. And then it happened.  Without us hearing a thing.  We awoke the next morning to this.


Now, I’m not one to point fingers, but I’m pretty sure this little bastard is to blame.  It was as if he’s saying, 20121217-220154.jpg“Hey man,  I tried everything to make you stop snoring and nothing worked.  So I turned it up a notch and brought down your 12 feet of Christmas joy.  Suck it.” 









We lost a few ornaments that apparently could survive a journey from South America, but couldn’t survive our cat Max.  And yes, I re-hung those damn lights.  But by the end of the day, my San Francisco self was pretty pleased with the fix. 


And my rancher husband was rather pleased with his fix as well.


 (please note, I’m writing this post with a heavy heart still from the tragedy in Connecticut.  But I truly believe we have to return to normal and I’m hoping this post will add a smile to your faces, even if tears of saddness are still staining your cheeks.)



20121108-130037.jpgI was heading up to my God daughter’s 5th birthday party when something struck me. It was a costume party but surely just for the kids, right? Nope. A quick phone call to my friend confirmed I had to dress up too. Dammit! I’m never prepared!! So I turned the car around, stood in my closet and just stared. I had nothing, no costume. But I saw my cowboy shirt, my boots and hat and started grabbing these clothes… right off the hangers!! Not tucked away for special rodeo nights. Nope these clothes are hanging up right next to my suits and Banana Republic shirts. These clothes are worn waaay too often for my San Francisco self! On the way back through the ranch I stopped in the tack room to grab my husband’s chaps. I now not only looked the part but smelled it too!! So by the time I got to the party I was laughing at myself because my costume came from my closet. And the I saw my friend, Jeff, also from the San Francisco Bay Area, and he too pulled his costume out of his closet. Oh how Nevada changes you!