Being a Woman in Today’s World

I’m not sure what made me think about this, is it that I’m raising a daughter and wanting to protect her?  Or wanting her to be the best she can be and positively contribute to the world?  Is it the #metoo movement and the talk about women’s rights in the world today?  I don’t know.  What I do know is being a woman in today’s world is complicated and women aren’t making it easier.

My little Lucy

Yup, you heard me right.  Women are some of the biggest reasons why I believe it’s so complicated being a woman today.  To give you a little taste, I didn’t like the Lindsey Lohan’s movie Mean Girls because it hit too close to home.  Yes, girls really do that kind of stuff and yes…it’s terrible.  I started to see that just because someone was nice to your face, doesn’t mean they are your friend.  I also realized that what they were saying to your face, wasn’t necessarily the same thing they were telling people when you weren’t around.  

I don’t want you all to think I didn’t fall victim to this same behavior because I did.  It happened to me, I thought this was the way it went and that’s how the “training” begins.

As I started to come into my own and settle into my skin, I realized that I could be more selective with who I chose to be friends with. I could find people that weren’t that way and things got better.  It didn’t completely go away…but it got better…until I started my way into the working world. 

Me as a little girl

Now, I was raised by a business owner who trained me to look at things from a business owner perspective.  I have never just done the job I’m assigned and go home.  I’ve always looked for ways to improve things and as a result, I moved up the ladder quickly.  Now, you’d think with all the “good ‘ol boys” running the show back then, women would band together and support each other.  

NOPE!  It turns into a Hunger Games scenario, kill or be killed…except for the promotion or for the praise of your boss.  No joke.  Women will literally throw you under the bus, to make themselves look better.  They’ll even take you under their wing and show you the ropes to then throw you to the wolves later, if you do too well.  As a result, you go into survival mode. 

I learned to read people, which turns out is pretty valuable in the business world.  Being that I had an older brother that I hung around with, I also learned to speak “boy” pretty well, too, which helped.   

What I didn’t plan on, was being in my 30’s and still feeling like I don’t have it dialed.  Those friends that you make and confide in, may STILL be telling your their version of the truth.  You may feel they’ve been wronged by another woman and take their side, when in reality they’re playing you and that other person is great, but they’re jealous of them.

Being a woman in today’s world is complicated and I’m going to do my part to UN-COMPLICATE IT.

Family ladies

I’ve decided something.  I’m going to take a stance to NOT be one of those women.  I’m not going to be jealous and try to bring someone down.  I’m not going to assume they don’t like me because they don’t include me in a project.  I AM going to be positive.  I AM going to compliment good work and encourage people to chase their dreams, whether man or woman.  I’m going to commit to break the cycle.

Who's with me!?

Plum Picking Fun

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We have entered a new phase in our lives...transitioning away from diapers and on to underwear.  For those of you that have gone through potty training, you know what a balance it is.  You've got to make it fun and exciting, but also urgent when you've got to go.  That being said, we were on lock down all weekend and Lucy did great, but by Sunday afternoon, we all needed a little break.  That's when we got the text from aunt Weezy, "The plums are ready!"

I don't know about you, but stone fruit season is my favorite and of the stone fruit, there are two that hail above all else: Blenheim Apricots and Santa Rosa Plums.  Santa Rosa Plums are flavorful, aromatic, juicy, with a dark purple tart skin.  They're the best in jam, syrup, sauces, and desert.  You name it and they are good in it!  

We loaded up the family into the truck, Bert included, and went to pick some plums.  We came home and sorted the really really ripe ones out, washed them, cut them up, and made a crisp.  

My rule of thumb for crisp making: only add sugar to the fruit as needed. The crisp topping is sweet, it’s nice to have a little tartness come through.
— Erica Manfre

I covered the bottom of a 9-13 inch pan with plums.  I didn't go too deep because we like a good ratio of fruit to crisp.  Now, for my crisp topping, here's my go to.  I've tried a few others (see my Rhubarb Crisp recipe HERE), but I always come back to this one.

INGREDENTS:

  • 1/2c Sugar
  • 1c Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1c Flour
  • 1c Oatmeal
  • 3/4 tsp Cinnamon, to taste
  • 1/2c Cold Butter

Combine dry ingredients.  Cut in cold butter until mixture forms large crumbs.  Squeeze small handfuls of crumb mixture together, then crumble evenly over fruit in coarse chunks.

Bake 375 for 45 minutes or until fruit is tender and crisp is golden brown.

College is Wasted on the Young

I wish I knew then, what I know now.  I would’ve taken advantage of the classes so much more. I’d have taken every opportunity to do extra curricular activities in my area of study.  I’d love it.
— Erica Manfre
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Has anyone ever asked you the age old question, "If you could go back in time and do something over, what would it be?" The truth is, there isn't a lot I would go back and do again. I'd do the typical: take more time for those that left us too soon, make a different dating choice here or there, but the one thing I'd really love to do again, is go back to college. 

I was one of those annoying kids in grade school that LOVED it.  I loved the challenge of learning something new.  If I didn't get it, I would keep at it until I did and felt this immense sense of accomplishment.

Then high school came and it was even better! You could take honors and AP classes to make it even more challenging!  How cool is that!?  Yes, I'm hearing myself. 

By the time I went away to college, I was burnt out.  I knew I needed a degree, but I wasn't into it.  The classes lost their luster.  They weren't challenging.  I don't know what happened. What I do know is I got my degree in Ag. Business with a minor in Wine and Viticulture and am thankful for that I did.

What I wouldn't give to be able to go back through some of those courses.  I've looked into different masters programs, but do you know how much they cost!?  Besides, I'd have to work my full time job, go through a masters program, all while raising a kid, and paying a mortgage...you get it.  

I wish I knew then, what I know now.  I would've taken advantage of the classes so much more. I'd have taken every opportunity to do extra curricular activities in my area of study.  I'd love it.

I'll definitely be one of those annoying older people that tells kids to enjoy college and not to rush to get into the "real world."  If they're anything like I was, they won't listen, but it won't stop me from trying.

Being a first time parent changes more than the obvious

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I'm just talking about for me, but when Jerud and I talked about having a baby, we talked about all the logical stuff: child care, insurance, diapers, car seat, etc.  Then, when we got pregnant, we talked about the first time parent stuff...nursing, bottle feeding, bath time.  You get the drill.  What we didn't talk about was how it was going to change our relationship and our dynamic.  For me, as soon as I held Lucy, my life changed.  I was no longer the top of my priority list, she was.  My relationship with Jerud wasn't even the top of my list, she was.  It was like in that split second, everything I used to care about became obsolete.  

It's been a real struggle for Jerud and my relationship.  I don't consider myself naive.  I knew I wouldn't get sleep and I knew that my life was going to change, but I didn't realize how much it would change. Do I want to go on a date?  Not really.  I'm away form her all day while I'm at work and the last thing on my mind is getting a babysitter to go out to dinner.  When I go home, I just want to hang out with her, and play tea party.  Before you gasp and say that I'm being selfish.  Keep in mind that yes, we DO things that don't involve her.  I do some travel for work and we have events that we go to that aren't "kid friendly."

My recommendation?  Talk, talk, talk.  Lame? Maybe, but at least you'll know you're on the same page and be better prepared for all the fantastic, exciting, moments that are about to come your way. 

Just know, it's all worth it.

A New Year's REVIVAL

This year, I’m going to bring in 2017 as the best me I can be! I have control over myself and if I tweak my outlook, just a bit, I can make it a REVIVAL year.
— Erica Manfre

There are a lot of "R" words going around right now...happens every year this time of year.  Out with the old and in with the new, right?  Wrong.  I am who I am because of my years of experience. Have I made mistakes?  Yes, but the key to every mistake and passing year is to learn from them.  

This year, I'm going to bring in 2017 as the best me I can be!  I have control over myself and if I tweak my outlook, just a bit, I can make it a REVIVAL year.  My glass is half full and I'm grateful for what I have.  If something is brining me down, I'm going to take action. True, many of these things out of my control (as stated above), but focusing on that isn't going to get me that far.  I'm going to focus on what I can control....me!

For example, I can control my reaction to things.  I can be sad by something I see on the news and I can go out into the world and be positive, show compassion, and lead by example.  If every.single.person did this, we will start a REVIVAL.

Now, this is going to take some work.  It's hard to stay positive in the face of adversity. Additionally, there are some things that help me stay mentally strong and if they help me, maybe they'll help you!

 A healthy home made bran muffin.

A healthy home made bran muffin.

Eat Well

This is probably a no brainer, but eating isn't only about what "sounds good," it's also about fueling your body appropriately for your lifestyle.  If you're working in a physical job, make sure you're getting enough protein and complex carbohydrates.  For me, I rely on protein a lot for me to stay satisfied longer.  If I eat too much sugar (which is one of my vices) I feel good for about 20 minutes, but then I crash and want more or coffee or a brisk walk to keep me going.

Sleep Enough

I have Lucy (a year and a half old), so this can be challenging with teeth coming in or a restless night, but I shoot for 8 hours of sleep a night.  It doesn't always happen, but I allocate it and man, it makes a huge difference for my day.  I can usually have a  good day till about 2pm on less sleep, but when 2 o'clock runs around....it's game over for me and I look for dark chocolate and I start the sugar cycle referenced above.  Sleep and eating well are closely related for me.

 Make time for a little beach volleyball with friends. It's fun in the sun  and  a great weekend.

Make time for a little beach volleyball with friends. It's fun in the sun and a great weekend.

Stay Active

This has been more challenging with a toddler and a full time job.  Those days that I'm at my desk 8+ hours, it's even more important to come home and throw the kid in stroller (not literally) and get the dog on a leash and go for a walk or run.  Now, when I'm tired and haven't eaten well, it's really hard for me to do that when I get home, but I know that when I do...I'll feel like myself again.  It also helps me sleep, which in turn helps me eat better.  

Focus on Productivity

This is one that is a mindset thing and can really drive my husband nuts.  I'm one of those people that feels better about myself and my day if I get things done.  Now "things" is a general term and a wide variety will qualify: going on a run, cleaning the house, pulling weeds, putting a dimmer on a light switch that I've been meaning to do for awhile, etc.  The list goes on and on.  I try to kill 2 birds with one stone, whenever possible, so if I want to go for a run, but I also need to exercise Bert (our almost 5 year old dog), then I'll bring him a long for the run.  You get my drift?  I make a list on Friday, including all the "wish list" things I'd like to get done over the weekend, then I look at the calendar of the things we have committed to and I try to tackle as much as I can, all while making time to relax and enjoy my family.  It's a challenge, but I know when I've succeeded Sunday night, when I reflect back on the weekend.   If I'm the right amount of accomplished, tired and relaxed, I know I did what I set out to do.