Saturday, March 31, 2012

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Got To Be Real

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Whenever people interview me, they always ask me the same thing, "How do you stay so positive and upbeat all the time?" And I tell them, "I don't."

I'd be lying if I told you I woke up every morning with a beaming smile and a sparkle in my eye. Do I try to view my Champagne glass as half full at all times? Absolutely. Do I try to see the positive out of negative situations, and focus on the good rather than the bad? You bet I do. Overall, I am a generally happy and optimistic person. But there are days when I am completely human, and for that minute, or hour, or even day - every. thing. sucks.

Today was one of those days. I was super tired from a long day yesterday. I've been taking classes at night, and working full time. Tie that into a 3 hour round trip commute every day and it's a recipe for exhaustion. Now don't get me wrong - I love my classes. I am pursuing my lifestyle and wellness coaching certification, and I could not be more excited. I know I'm working toward a bigger goal and the bags under my eyes will be worth it in the end. But the reality of it is, I'm working my ass off. And mama is tired.

I also tend to have guilt when I feel less than perky, and I know that's not good. I am learning to allow myself to feel like shit once in a while. It's human nature. Plus, without the lows, there would be no amazing highs, right?

So when this song shuffled on my iPod this morning on my way to work, I felt a sense of relief. It immediately reminded me of that Sex and the City episode where Carrie falls flat on her face on the runway and gets trampled by Heidi Klum. It made me giggle. Then I started thinking about the meaning behind that episode, and this song, and it dawned on me: you've GOT to be real. Nobody is perfect, no matter how wonderful your life is at that moment, or how content you are, shit happens, and there are gonna be moments where you feel the walls closing in on you. And you need to FEEL those moments. If someone tells you they never have a bad day (including me) they're lying.

So here's to being real. Here's to feeling it all, dealing with it, and moving on to better days.

Cheers girls!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Champagne Girl of the Week: Champagne Jayne

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Hello bubbly girls! I'm excited to introduce you our newest Champagne Girl of the Week -  Champagne Jayne! As you know, the Champagne Girl of the Week is a woman who is truly living an effervescent life. She is passionate and inspirational, and she is rockin' it out by doing what she loves. Champagne Jayne loves, well, Champagne! And she's made a career out of her love affair with bubbles. 

I was lucky to be a part of Champagne Jayne's "Taste and Tweet" portion of this year's Champagne Summit held in London, from the comfort of Flute Bar in NYC. With a selection of some of the world's best Champagnes, and my Twitter app, I took part in all the action and connected with Champagne lovers around the globe. CJ tells us all about her inspiration for the event below, as well as what's next for her brand! 

 TCD: Can you give us a brief background of who you are and what you do?

CJ: I’ve been in love with champagne since my first school trip to France, aged 15, and today I’m an award-winning champagne author and educator, media commentator and respected independent expert in champagne.

For me, champagne connects to everything, but the experience should be both accessible and inspirational at the same time. My goal in life is to make champagne accessible to everyone and help people to understand this magical wine’s many facets whilst also showcasing the very best in local sparkling wines − I do this in a variety of ways: educational articles and videos on my website, which include video interview tastings with the most interesting winemakers in Champagne – both large and small – as well as the best sparkling winemakers around the world. I also host public champagne and food matching master classes with the world’s finest chefs to showcase these amazing food wines with the very best cuisine on offer. Corporate and private events are another focus where I help my clients connect and engage all sorts of audiences through champagne experiences that enrich, educate and entertain at all levels. I’m definitely living an effervescent life, Cara!

TCD: How did you get involved with the Champagne Summit?

CJ: After the success of Sunrise on Champagne Day last year, I was approached by the editor of Harpers Wine & Spirit Magazine (organiser of The Champagne Summit) to participate in an expert panel at The Champagne Summit 2012. He asked me to speak to the UK Champagne trade about the benefits of consumer engagement through social media and to create also a themed champagne masterclass for this conference. Rather than just sharing a case study of my work around Champagne Day, I thought it would be much more exciting and engaging to create a live ‘tweetchat’ experience for those participating. Winning the Champagne Educator of The Year Award that same day was a totally unexpected and completely humbling experience, especially because the two runners up were previous winners Richard Bampfield, Master of Wine and Laura Clay, CIVC European Ambassador 2010.

TCD: What inspired you to bring a global angle to the Summit via social media?

CJ: Champagne is by its very nature a global brand, and so, despite the logistical nightmare, it seemed both entirely logical and appropriate to bring my global social media influence to bear to embed twitter within the fabric of this year’s Summit − whilst at the same time creating something fun and new for participants to get involved in. After all, that’s what I call ‘edutainment’. Judging by the waiting line outside my masterclass on the day, the lively commentary online and rave media reviews since the event, I think this sparkling social media experiment was a roaring success!

TCD: Do you feel Twitter changed the way people view wine and champagne? If so, how?

CJ: In my mind, champagne is a timeless icon of shared luxury that easily lends itself to social communication − after all, way before the advent of the internet superhighway, TV, radio or even planes, trains and automobiles, champagne was already famous around the world. Nevertheless, perhaps because of its incredibly long history and sustained prominent position, the champagne industry can be quite conservative and slow to adapt its communication style. To remain relevant to today’s consumers, champagne needs to assert its affordable luxury credentials − what better or more effective way to do this than to share all champagne’s magnificent stories than the social media airwaves? It means instantaneous, personalised, two-way, multimedia cost-effective communication with customers − it’s really marketing 101.

TCD: Favorite champagne?

CJ: I call all champagnes ‘my children’ and firmly believe there is a moment for every champagne and a champagne for every moment − so it’s really very hard to pick favourites. When asked this perennial question, before answering, I always consider the following:
(a)    Where am I?
(b)    Who am I with?
(c)    What time of day is it? (ie. are we eating, if so, what?)
As a rule of thumb − Blanc de Blancs in the morning, classic non-vintage for brunch/lunch and then when you have more time to appreciate things in the evening, it’s time to move on to vintage or prestige cuvĂ©e − if there could be only one champagne forever more − I would be satisfied with Krug.

TCD: What's next for Champagne Jayne?

CJ: I flew back from Europe just in time to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival and to begin work on an exciting food and wine TV pilot. Now I’m back in Sydney busy preparing a series of champagne edutainment experiences to mark Australian Mother’s Day in May and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June. My next global champagne trek will include more conference speaking and themed master classes in London, another visit to Champagne, naturally, and potentially even a sparkling side trip to NYC to catch up with my champagne twitter-mates!

For more info visit

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pin It Now! Sunday morning mantra: The more you associate yourself with positive people, the more you will find a sense of calm and happiness in your life. Let the toxic people ruin their own lives, not yours!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Spring!

Pin It Now! Hello ladies, I've missed you :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

BIG "Life Changing" Announcement :)

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I have some BIG NEWS to share with you guys! In honor of Women's History Month, and as an early birthday gift to myself, I have decided to pursue my certification in Life Coaching!

This has been a passion of mine for quite some time now. There is nothing more heartwarming and fulfilling than connecting with and inspiring all of you -- and now I can make it official! I have always felt that the world would be a better place if more people followed their passion. We'd be happier, less stressed, and more satisfied with our daily lives. I am so thrilled to begin my coursework and learn the tools and techniques to help people do just that.

So, what is a life coach exactly? It's definitely not a psychologist, or even a therapist. A client would see one of those two people if they were suffering from a mental illness, or in a serious state of despair or chaos. A client would hire a life coach if they were truly ready to start living their best life. If everything else was going okay, but they wanted things to be great. A life coach helps someone reach their full potential by helping that person eliminate obstacles and start living their optimal life. Life coaches can help take you through a major career change, start focusing on wellness and leading a healthier lifestyle, coach you through a relationship issues (whether you're single, dating or married), or help you figure out what it is that you're passionate about and work with you to make it happen. They empower and inspire.

I will be specializing in wellness. This is something very close to my heart, having struggled with weight issues my entire life. Wellness is about physical health just as much as it is about emotional health and I am so passionate about both!

So buckle up, ladies! Coach Cara is comin' for you! I will surely be sharing my tips and tricks along the way as I pursue my certification through this spring. This experience is going to make me stronger and better at what I do, and I hope you will reap the benefits with me!

Can I get a Cheers?


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

WINEspiration Wednesday: Going Green

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As most of you know, I have tried every single diet known to man. And none of them have worked (at least not in the long run). Images of overweight middle-aged women who have posters of cats with inspirational quotes on the walls of their Jenny Craig "personal coaching" offices scorch my brain, and I can recite off the point value of nearly ANY edible food item on the planet. Even some inedible things. Weight Watcher "twinkies"anyone? 2 points each, for the record.

So for those reasons, among others, I don't diet. I just eat well. It's led me down the road of being a healthier and happier person. I avoid processed shit, I don't like meat, but I am a self-proclaimed cheese and bread FREAK. In fact, I could probably live off cheese, wine and endless loaves of crisp Italian bread dotted with sesame seeds for the rest of my live and be perfectly content (but unable to zip my jeans).

As healthy as I do eat, the winter always seems to put me off course a bit. I tend to board the carb train quite often in the colder months, and I ride it all season long. I forget about fruit sometimes. I'm human. So when it comes time to put on the Spring jacket, it's almost always a bit snug. I typically seek inspiration in new recipes and new food items to add to my menu, and always get back on track. This time, I found my inspiration in vegetables.

Oh, hello, you hunky vegetarian fireman.

Plant-based diets are nothing new. People have been vegetarians since the beginning of time (well, maybe not, I'm making this up - I've never been good at history). I personally don't like meat, for my own reasons, but never before have I really researched just how bad red meat can be for you. My husband came across the trailer for Forks Over Knives a few days ago, and since then my obsessive, fact-hoarding brain has been having a field day with all the information out there supporting a vegetarian diet. You must watch it. It will change your life.

In addiction to FOK (heh heh, say that outloud), I have been taking a good hard look at what goes into most of the food we consume. Unless you are eating USDA certified organic antibiotic free meat, you are basically eating complete garbage. Actually, it's worse than garbage. And if you're eating shit that comes out of a box (cookies, frozen Lean Cuisine dinners, etc) you're really doing some damage to yourself. Just watch this video about what your body does with processed food.

I really truly hope I'm not coming off as some holier-than-thou psychopath, but I feel strongly about this stuff. I have re-adopted my vegetarian, organic regimen and I can't even begin to tell you how much better I feel. And 5 lbs are gone. Just like that. Really try to think about what you are putting in your system on a regular basis, as opposed to how many calories it takes to lose a few pounds. If you can view this as a way to live a healthier, happier, and longer life, then you are golden.

Cheers ladies!

Stumped on how to get started? Check out this guide.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Event Recap: Books, Bellinis & Jazz, OH MY!

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Cheers to another successful Champagne Diaries event at The Bookmark Shoppe last night! I'd like to thank the following people for making last night so awesome *pulls out acceptance speech from bra*

The Bookmark Shoppe, who continuously let me (and my booze) into their store and graciously host events with me. Just wait till the book is actually OUT! Lookout world!

Bel-Air Bellini, for providing us with bountiful bubbles all night long. It's safe to say we have converted all of Brooklyn into peach fizzy freaks! Not so hard when you've got an amazingly delicious product... ;)

Everyone who came out and supported. The fact that you all took the time out of your weekend to come and hang out with me means more than you can imagine. Thank you from the bottom of my Champagne-filled heart!

To my wonderful husband, my right-hand man, who took all these fab photos & helped produce this event, you are the best!


And now, for some photos...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

TONIGHT! Keep Calm and Drink Champagne Event

Pin It Now! Why WOULDN'T I do another event to promote an unpublished book!? Come on down to The Bookmark Shoppe TONIGHT for a night of jazz, books and bellinis (sponsored by the fabu Bel-Air Bellini). I might even read a chapter out loud if I'm drunk enough!


Monday, March 5, 2012

Guest Blog: Champ in the City

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Special thanks to Stacy Jethroe for contributing this guest blog. Stacy and I finally had the chance to meet in person a few weeks ago while she was in town. Here is her recap of our "girl date." Cheers! 

by Stacy Jethroe

On paper, I am a West Coast girl. Born in San Fran, raised in the Midwest, a lengthy stint in Boston and back to California once again. Did I leave my heart in San Francisco like that Tony Bennett song suggests? Well, it can’t be denied that California sunshine is sublime, but my heart is East Coast all the way. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when I had the pleasure of accompanying an Oakland jewelry designer to an industry trade show in Manhattan. This meant an opportunity to learn something new, an opportunity to visit with some very dear friends, an unexpected night out with two talented musicians with whom I had worked in Boston and, most importantly, a chance to finally meet Ms. Champagne Diaries herself. Up to this point, I had contributed two guest posts for The Champagne Diaries blog and shared numerous emails with Cara, but we had never met in person. Needless to say, I was uber excited about our rendezvous. We knew the choice of libation would be easy, but where to meet? Turns out, that choice was pretty easy, too. Enter: Pearl Oyster Bar.   

It was a Tuesday night, balmy, and I was trying to get myself over to Greenwich Village with a quickness. The first cab to pick me up had a new driver and he actually asked me to input my destination into his GPS. Um, aren’t you in charge of this ride, sir? I threw an expletive his way and hailed another cab. Luckily, this driver knew his city and I arrived with time to spare. My Boston/Brooklyn friend Andrea was waiting for me, looking lovely as ever, and we went inside to wait for Cara. Of course, I would know what she looked like thanks to her prolific online presence, but she hadn’t seen my picture and, since there had been no talk of “wear a pink carnation”, I worried that we might share an awkward moment upon first greet. No way! We hugged and exchanged pleasantries and Cara bestowed me with the most amazing bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte brut rose champagne for all my help with the blog. So began an enjoyable evening filled with conversation, champagne, and beautiful food.

Our host for the night, John, found us some open spots at the bar. We chatted as we perused the menu and chose a nice bottle of bubbly. The Champalou Vouvray Brut NV caught our eye and it turned out to be the perfect accompaniment to our meal. With the bubbles and conversation flowing, I paused to take in some of the details around us: the old-style beach lanterns and vintage canned moose tucked behind the bar; the large chalkboard on the wall displaying the specials of the day; the cutest family of three, with an adorable little girl around the age of three, blissfully devouring the restaurant’s most famous offering, the Lobster Roll. Tiled walls, tall open windows, an inviting bar and a kitchen that is completely open for viewing, Pearl Oyster Bar feels at once homey and like you’ve managed to sneak past a velvet rope. Founded by Chef-Owner Rebecca Charles, an upstate New York gal with a familial past steeped in seaside gourmand tradition, Pearl celebrates its 15th anniversary this July and has become widely known as the place in Manhattan to get your most authentic taste of New England culinary fare.

One of our *many* libations of the evening

We began our meal with the Salt Crusted Shrimp appetizer served with a heavenly house-made tarter sauce. These over-sized, battered, and deep-fried beauties arrived with shells on and even the picky eater among us loved them, skins and all. Andrea went with the Market Oysters for her main course, and gave those tasty Blue Points a total thumbs up for being plump, briny yet not overly fishy, and just plain delicious. Per our lovely bartender Samantha’s recommendation, I had the special of the night: Breaded Skate with Brussel Sprouts. Dredged in a flavorful coating of flour and cracker meal, pan-seared, buttery goodness, the skate itself was ultra flaky and reminded me of dining on king crab. Feeling a bit more traditional, Cara opted for three of the most robust sea scallops I’ve ever seen. Both dishes were served with an exceptional mirepoix and pan-roasted brussel sprouts. Having sampled a bit from each plate, we all agreed that our meal had been consistently delightful across-the-board.

We passed on dessert in favor of another bottle of bubbly. Feeling perfectly sated, I took pause to reflect on what a great night this had been. In addition to being absolutely beautiful and having some of the most amazing hair on the planet, I found Cara to be even more good-natured and gregarious than she appears to be in her writing, and just as fun as you would think from watching her videos. I had enjoyed a wonderful meal at one of NYC’s most distinctive restaurants with two fabulous women, and I had finally gotten to meet the lady behind the blog. I was a happy girl.

For me, three things define a truly memorable evening: good company, amazing food and drink, and ambiance that wraps itself around you without being distracting. On this night, Pearl Oyster Bar gave us the perfect mix.


We definitely recommend visiting Pearl Oyster Bar in person. And for all of you home chefs and anyone who loves reading tales of family and food, check out Rebecca’s book, Lobster Rolls and Blueberry Pie: Three Generations of Recipes and Stories from Summers on the Coast of Maine.

Pearl Oyster Bar Website
Pearl Oyster Bar on Facebook

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Domestic DIYva

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I used to be super crafty when I was young. Bridges made entirely of popsicle sticks, dollhouse furniture made out of old pizza boxes - you name it, I made it. But as the years have gone on, I've run out of time, and I've made money, so the idea of creating things from scratch has fallen to the wayside. Now if I want something, I just run out and buy it. Who has the time!?

Until I recently learned that people actually make things out of WINE CORKS! *Ring the bells in Heaven* I can actually get artsy while I get my drink on!?

I have been collecting corks forever. It's a weird psycho habit that I have. It's not even like I collect the ones from special occasions, I just simply cannot throw them out. They are a part of me. Champagne corks have a special apothecary jar in my home too. I display them all proudly as if they are souvenirs from a small town in the South of France, as opposed to remnants of my growing alcoholic passion. But now I have a reason!

So, I want to know, what do YOU do with your wine corks? Does anyone make anything with them? Leave me a comment and let me know! This DIYva wants to get to work.