Mome reads Mommy, My daughter's way to spell it when she was younger... It stuck. My son calls me Mome... just like it looks. I now sign all my notes to them "Love, Mome". It's our inside secret and makes them smile. I always want them to smile.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Shopping Begins

I'm not the Mom who shops for Christmas presents in July. I wait until December. Not even the displays right after Halloween can tempt me. We have purchased a couple things for the kids and will continue. I will do my shopping online. I'm not a fan of shopping to begin with and the madness at Christmas is just not something I'm willing to participate in. Maybe if stores had self-checkouts like the grocery stores do, with POSGuys barcode scanners and credit card machines to avoid dealing with the holiday (temp) employees I'd consider it...maybe.

My darling Puddin' Pop asked how to pause the TV the other day. She had to use the bathroom and didn't want to miss anything. Two hours later I came in from doing some laundry and found her sitting patiently in front of a paused commercial. She said "Can I have that for Christmas?" Way too smart for her own good. I'll regret showing her the pause button for the rest of the season.

If you're looking for unique ideas or just like the idea of helping other mom-preneuers. Twittermoms 2nd annual "tweetable" Holiday catalog is now live. It's being updated all month long so keep checking back and get your products listed.

So. I'll be doing what I do best. Searching the Internet for cool and unique gifts for all the family. The kids are BIG into Legos, so I think most of the money will be spent there. I'm actually excited about the pink and purple Legos PP is getting.

Are you an Internet shopper, or do you get into the festive mall shopping?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bad News

I have some bad news. Fortunately it mostly only affects me. It's not the "no chance of
low cost health insurance for anyone" type of bad news. It's the "experiment gone wrong" type of bad news.

Thanksgiving day was supposed to be the first official tasting of my first attempt at wine making. Sadly, my barrel was tainted, and only the dozen or so maggots I found floating in it were able to imbibe...and they excess. I was going to take pictures but didn't want any of you who may receive future bottles to have that image in your mind. Trust me, I thought about skimming the juicy buggers right off the top. It is alcohol. But thought I could wait until next year and give it another try. Bennett's Bin 1 may have gone down the drain, but Bin 2
will be in the works for next Christmas.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thankful Guilt

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are behind us. We had a Wonderful Thanksgiving and are thankful for so much. I wonder, though, in these economic times, if it's right to feast with so many others unable to. I felt guilty looking at all the food we had, knowing so many had/have nothing. Maybe it's just me. When we give thanks for all the things we have, aren't we also reminded of what others don't have? We are Thankful for healthy children, because we know others have sick little kids. We are thankful for the food to nourish our bodies, knowing there are millions without anything to eat. We are thankful for a roof over our head, while others are living on the streets...

It goes on and on. It makes it almost shameful to put out such an elaborate feast when we might feel more Thankful that we have the ability to help others. Over the next couple days I'll be looking into helping others this Christmas. I'd like to provide someone else with a feast. I'd be thankful if someone would allow me to.

I do NOT shop on Black Friday. I do NOT like to shop after Thanksgiving unless it is online. With all the lines of people rushing the doors, the added cardboard displays and sales people think they can't live with out, it's a tradition I never started. The thought actually scares me.

How was your Thanksgiving? What deals did you get (or avoid) on Black Friday?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Yesterday was spent cooking and enjoying time with Family. Every year we go to my MIL's house. She usually tries to do everything but over the years we've managed to get her to do less by taking on responsibilities and getting her to reduce the amount of variety prepared. It's my MIL and FIL. My husbands uncle and his girlfriend. Hubster, the kids and I.

I got to do the turkey! It's not my first, but it has been 6 years since I got to do the Holiday bird. I usually got the "we really want our house to smell like Thanksgiving excuse". With the smell of stuffing and pies and all the other goodies, it smelled like Thanksgiving. I promise.

The last year has had everyone worried. My FIL has felt pretty bad most of the time. He was tired and dizzy and the doctors couldn't figure it out. Doctor after doctor. Changed meds for his heart and diabetes, checked his thyroid. Checked his sinuses and ears. I think he had everything checked. Finally, his defibrillator was put into use. He feels like new. We are Thankful for that. I've become more and more aware of AED (Automated External Defibrillators) located in public places. I know now that having these available must make heart patients and their families feel safer.

The kids wanted to know why we took one day to be thankful. We explained that we should be thankful everyday, but sometimes we get busy and wrapped up in our problems and everyday life and forget to really appreciate what we have and take notice of how lucky we are. We take one day to make sure we give thanks, acknowledge and truly appreciate all we have.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cabernet vs Merlot, and Other Things I'm Noticing About Wine

Recently I've been tasting a lot of different brands of wines. I've strayed from my usuals and ventured out to find new gems. I thought a was a diehard Merlot one point, then I came across Zinfandels and Pinot Noirs. Was my mind changed by the fancier names, or was it the flavors I was enjoying more? I thought it was the flavors, but have recently been enjoying some Cabernets, which I thought I liked less than I actually do. Are you following so far? I'm working on an experiment right now and it seems as though I like Merlot better than Cabernet on the higher price (by high I mean $20) brands but prefer Cabernet on the lower priced (all the way down to $3) brands. Is this coincidental? I first noticed this with Tisdale. They're the $3 gems I found at our local Bottom Dollar. I bought both Merlot and Cabernet, and Pinot Grigio for my neighbor (it's one of her favorites). In tasting them I became aware that I liked the Cab better. It kinda shocked me. I've come across some folks recently who don't care for Merlot and prefer Cabs, so I thought, when given the option, I would get both from the same winery. With Barefoot wines I prefer the Merlot and I recently had the chance to try Clos Du Bois and preferred the Merlot from them as well. While both wines were good, the Cab started out a little overbearing. By the second and third glass it had mellowed a little. May have been my taste buds numbing or may have been due to the extended breathing the latter glasses were exposed to. I find that big flavored wines almost act as appetite suppressants for me. If I drink a light bodied wine while cooking dinner I eat a regular meal. If I've opened a deeply flavored bottle, as the Clos Du Bois Cabernet was, I find myself less hungry when dinner hits the table. Anyone else find that to be true?

One more shocking truth...

It was suggested a while back that I try Delicious Red by Vella. A box wine. I couldn't find it anywhere and finally decided to try the Burgundy by Vella. I think I mentioned already that I liked the lighter tones for a casual glass while making dinner or relaxing in front of the TV. I finally found the Delicious Red and like it as well. It's a sweet red without overbearing sweetness. While I would never use either of these as a complimenting beverage with a meal, they are both fine for casual sipping. Rather enjoyable actually.

Let the banter begin.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wine and Charities. What Could Be Better?

If your familiar with my other blogs you know I'm a huge lover of wine. I'm not the snobby sort who can only consume the most expensive of varietals and looks down their nose at those with lesser tastes (or budgets). Yes. I am a fan of low budget wines. Some will say it's lack of knowledge, which in part is probably true. I don't taste a lot of high dollar wines so my palate is that of an amateur. It doesn't mean I don't truly enjoy my less expensive choices. Consider my palate untainted by money. The fact that I've never driven a Bentley doesn't mean I can't appreciate my Hyundai. If I drove a Bentley would I like my Hyundai less? Possibly. But anyone who knows me, knows I have never based my opinions on the likes of others. In fact, the opposite is almost true. I make my own decisions. If I say I like something, it's true. If I don't like something, chances are you're not going to persuade me to change my mind. My opinions can not be bought.

I'm also a sucker for a good charity and am always eager to point out folks who are doing something to help others. If we all strive to be the best we can be and look for ways to help others whenever we can, the world would be a much better place.

So what if we combined a love of the grape with a thoughtful nature and a need to give back? What if a group of eight, 20-something professionals got together to share their marketing and wine knowledge along with their passion to create awareness and give back? What if?

In 2007... They did come together.

In 2007...ONEHOPE Wine was created.

Since their inception in June of 2007, ONEHOPE has donated over $100,000 in cash an in-kind donations. They have also participated in over 300 charity events. They donate 50% of their profits to charity.

ONEHOPE isn't satisfied with just one charity. They have created five varietals with each bottle representing a different cause.

50% of the profits from ONEHOPE's Chardonnay are donated to fight against BreastCancer.

50% of the profits from ONEHOPE's Cabernet Sauvignon are donated to fight against Autism.

50% of the profits from ONEHOPE's Merlot are donated to fight against Aids.

50% of the profits from ONEHOPE's Sauvignon Blanc are donated towards saving the Environment.

50% of the profits from ONEHOPE's Zinfandel are donated to support our Troops.

Doesn't this make you want to go buy some? Whether it's for the Hostess of your next Holiday party or something for you to enjoy alone, I urge you to come up with one reason why ONEHOPE wouldn't be your first choice. Of course, I only received these yesterday. Keep an eye out for individual reviews over at Wine at Five?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Girl's Night In~ Fondue

I'm off my game. I'm not sure what happened. Usually our GNI evenings are well organized and go off without a hitch. I don't know if it was because there were only three of us. or because a printed menu wasn't distributed, I just felt the whole week like I was going to miss (forget) something. Fortunately, I remembered to purchase everything, I just forgot to take them all over and had to run back home...twice. It's only 3 doors down, but I felt like I earned my meal after sprinting back and forth. Then I forgot to take pictures. We scraped together some food as we were doing the dishes, but dessert was history. The night was still a blast. I'm only telling you because the pictures don;t do the meal justice.

We started with a glass of wine. Thanks to Alex and Friends at Turning Leaf for providing us with a sampling. I decided to go with the 2008 Cabernet and will save the Merlot for another day. Becky enjoyed the Chardonnay and Kathy, our White Zin drinker, brought her own. The Cabernet was perfect with our Steak and Shrimp Fondue and complimented the salad as well. I'm usually a Merlot fan but have been hearing more and more great things about Cabernet, so I wanted to give it another chance. This Turning Leaf did not disappoint.

Turning Leaf 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (from the winery)

Harvest Notes:
The 2008 season finished with a warm October allowing the grapes to fully ripen on the
vine producing a Cabernet Sauvignon with exceptional richness and a smooth finish
just in time for our new 2008 vintage.

Tasting Notes:
Supple with aromas of black cherries and boysenberry jam. Notes of vanilla and brown
spice complement the dark fruit on the palate, resulting in a rich and lingering finish.

We sipped our wine while tinkering around the kitchen putting the salad together and setting up the fondue pot and unwrapping the meat, shrimp, and sauce. The salad was a combination of mixed greens, blueberries, toasted walnuts, and bleu cheese crumbles tossed in a raspberry walnut vinaigrette. We followed that (or more like intermingled) with ribeye steak and shrimp we cooked to desired doneness in oil.

Dessert was lemon pound cake and fresh-from-the-oven brownies dipped in melted chocolate. I actually think I may have been on the verge of a sugar coma. It was SO good.

We haven't actually planned January's menu yet. We're taking December off for the Holidays and instead I will bring you recipes from a cookie swap on December 12th.

I'm thinking we should take our show on the road. A new sort of reality show. You watch from your plasma tvs as we celebrate food and beverages that are easy to create, all while enjoying the company of good friends. Okay. Maybe not too exciting. There is very little drama. I do usually knock over a glass each month, but that is hardly worth mentioning since I haven't broken anything...yet. It's just moms talking about life and kids and husbands and jobs and food and WHATEVER.

Until next time....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Laptop Securitiy

We are awful with computers. Hubster and I got our first desk top 13+ years ago and when it started acting funny or running slow (it was dial up, and slow for that), we decided it was just an older version and we bought a new one. It seems as though every mutually shared computer would contract some virus and have awful pop-ups that would never be removed from our protection programs. Hubster would load every anti spyware and spam programs he could get his hands on. Whatever the techies at work told him to try he would. It made things worse. He claims I must of clicked on something I shouldn't have and of course I thought it was him.
He finally got a laptop for work and another for his DJ business. I requested he leave the desk top for the kids and I...he didn't think that was convenient.

I finally got fed up with all the issues and requested a laptop all my own. I didn't want anyone else in the house to touch it. I know this sounds selfish, but after years of knowing that the pop-ups were not from sites I visited I had to be able to prove myself, even if I was the only one who knew. Two Chrismases ago Hubster got me my laptop. The first thing he said Christmas morning was "Can I shoe my parents the screen?" "no." They looked at me like I was crazy. I couldn't take the chance. To this day, if I'm on my laptop and he wants to look something up he'll say "Since your computer is up, can I..." "No, I can look it up for you, but you can't touch it." Seriously, he does have two laptops of his own. I can't help if one doesn't work properly and the other just had to be replaced because something happened to the screen. I don't mean to be selfish, I just know that in two years I have never received a virus that my security scans couldn't remove, and I have seen no naked ladies pop on my screen either. What would you do?

Friday, November 20, 2009

E-mail vs Snail Mail

I'm amazed at the amount of crap mail I receive. It doesn't seem to be limited to my snail mail but also flows over to my e-mail. In a perfect "protect the environment" world, it would all be e-mail. We have the option to receive paperless statements from every bill we receive but what about all the correspondence we don't solicit. If you had the option to receive your "free weekend at one of our dominican republic hotels" or the "promise of a lower mortgage" through e-mail for the sake of our trees, would you? Shouldn't we just be getting rid of all this? It seems like more and more I see "at home opportunities" that are nothing more than mailing out offers that are bogus at best. Now we are getting those in our e-mail boxes without the slowdown of offers delivered by the mail carrier. Should I just be happy they aren't calling me? What crap are you receiving?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tell the Truth. Is This Me?

Okay. Let me get this out of the way. I work for Warner Brothers. Now that that elephant is out of the closet (because it has to be) I'll tell you what I have to do. I have to watch TV and tell you about it. Pretty cool gig, huh? Especially since I have to watch shows I was already watching. Be jealous later.

So, this week I was watching The New Adventures of Old Christine. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is even better than she was in Seinfeld. The last episode showed her ever too eager to quit anything the moment it got hard. She's a flaky, quirky woman who is never "on-point" or on time. Isn't there one in every group of friends? I started to think of all my friends to try and figure out which one she was most like. I couldn't think of any. Does that mean it's me? I'm never late. I do however avoid housework whenever I am able. I also tend to talk randomly about anything and am sure that could be perceived as a little flaky. But I think I'm funny...just like Christine. Rats. Have I been enjoying this show all along and not even realizing I'm watching myself? I have a much better work ethic...or at least I did when I actually worked. She even likes wine.

Please friends. Tell me it isn't so. If you're not familiar with the show I urge you to check it out here. Please tell me the truth. Is that me?

The Sacrificial Sock

It happens to anyone who does laundry. People have been talking about it for decades. Ever since the clothes washer and dryer were invented this problem has existed. To the best of my knowledge no on has ever solved this mystery. Some say "they" get lost in the washer. Under the drain ring, but I've never, personally, seen one retrieved. You know what I'm talking about.
The mystery of the missing socks. Where do they go and how do we prevent this from happening?

One company has stepped up to the challenge. Through extensive research and trial and error The Sacrificial Sock was born. With "smack talk" included.

Just in time for the Holidays. This is the perfect gift for the office "Secret Santas". Especially if your giving to any woman with children. It is a proven fact (by me) that the more socks you wash, the more socks you lose. The smack talk took a little getting used to. With phrases such as "Your lint trap is so full it makes you look like a chipmunk." and "Your momma was a cement mixer." Berating the dryer was hard at first. I've overcome my fear of talking to appliances and know that the socks are the real victims. I can do it for the socks.

Add this to you Holiday List for yourself and loved ones. It's sure to please all and makes a great stocking stuffer.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Two Loves

As awful as last week was, you can read about that here, I was still fortunate to A) be reconnected with a lost love, and B) find a new love.

Ya know how you have fond memories of things you loved as a child. They really come back to you when you have kids. Then you try them as an adult and...they're not so fun anymore? Like about a year ago when I thought it would be fun to slide down the stairs on my shorts. The extra weight and lack of leg protection left me with some heavy duty road rash on my thighs. I would not suggest this.

I was thinking of things (crafts) to get for the kids to occupy them during the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. They get along really well when occupied, for shorter stretches when left to their imaginations and their toys. So we are regulars at Oriental Trading, and I still have the Christmas gifts for the Grandparents to work on, but I wanted something different. Something I loved as a kid. I came up with an idea and hoped it would be as fun as I remembered. It was! So much, in fact, that I don't even have pictures of the kids creating because I was too busy right beside them making my own. Hubster even got into the fun. SHIRINKY DINKS. The kids loved coloring them and then watching the magic in the oven. I had ordered a set for both that made these cute dangly "people". Boog got robots and Puddin Pop got dolls. She loves hers so much she took them to Grandma's house yesterday and forgot them. So you only get to see Boog's.

Aren't those flippin' adorable? The set came with pre-cut "parts", a pack of 6 colored pencils and the jump rings to connect them. only $5.40. I also ordered a pack of (what I thought was) 30 Christmas ornament that even have a 9" tree included. I think we'll work on that over the Thanksgiving break. I'm excited just thinking about it.

My new love is thanks to my little brother. I'm NOT a regular at Starbucks. Their coffee is over-priced (in my opinion) and I always go for the super fattening cappucino' I had to give them up. I'm definitely not a coffee snob. Fresh brewed, doesn't matter, I just have to have it in the morning. This is a non-negotiable. While visiting him I awoke to find he had none. He used to work at Starbucks so this was never an issue in the past. Now that he's a bachelor...again, he apparently has fallen victim to the ever-so-popular-over-priced energy drinks. Fine for him, but I sent him out to get some coffee for me. He knew it wasn't an option. He brought me a cup (large) of Starbucks and surprised me with a couple packs of their "ready brew". WOW. I thought I made strong coffee. I was wrong. Their instant brews say they make one, 8oz cup of coffee. Who drinks 8 oz cups? I have a 14 oz mug and it was still stronger than any coffee I've ever made. Not in a bitter bad way. In a I'm-awake-ready-to-tackle-the-world way. I really need to check out the price on these. They fit easily in my purse and are perfect for a mid-day pickmeup. My NEW Love.

I swear I would take these with me wherever I go. Be it to gulf shores alabama or any other distant (by car) travel. I'll be the one at the rest area getting the cup (preferably larger than 8 oz) of hot water.

101 Excuses NOT to do the Laundry

I'm actually happy it's Monday. After last week, I'm glad to have a fresh start. I have a ton of laundry to get caught up on. I just couldn't get to it last week. I was gone Tuesday-Thursday. It rained all day Friday. I know, that one is lame. But you see, my washer and dryer are in the garage. The overhead fluorescent bulbs are burnt out and the only way to get light is to open the side door. With the heavy rain, there wasn't much light to speak of and the wind was blowing the rain right into the garage. That excuse is one of my best yet. I had to work all day Saturday and Sunday, at least until it was dark outside, and then it became a lighting issue again. Hubster is walking on a sprained ankle now from falling off a ladder on Thursday and I'm not changing light bulbs in the dark. Especially the 3 foot fluorescent ones. So, here I am. A beautiful, sunny Monday...doing laundry all day.

Today also happens to be the Hubster's birthday. It was tradition (in the old days) that even if he didn't get "it" any other time ( we're not talking regular "it" but a guys favorite "it"). He always got "it" on his birthday. He reminded me of such this morning and I politely responded by telling him I decided to get him a gift instead. It's a pretty cool gift too. I can't tell you now, on the (very) slight chance that he'll read this post but it's cool. Trust me. He'll be playing with it all night. Which was kinda the idea. So he won't be trying to play with me. He is injured after all. Amazing how all the aches and pains subside when "it" is a possibility.

On another note. This Friday is Girl's Night In. It's going to be amazing. We've been sent some new wines to try out and the menu is sure to create some excess belly fat , especially the desert. But it's going to be so good I don't care. I'll have a whole month before the next one. We're always looking for new drinks to try with our foods. Feel free to contact me about any drink ideas or about sending samples. Check back over the weekend (Monday at the latest. Depending on my work schedule) for all the great pics and beverage discoveries.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What the Hell Wednesday 3

Yep. This is my What the Hell Wednesday post...on Saturday. It's been a crazy couple of days and I'm just getting to it. Sorry. WTH. You forgive me, right?

I need to start paying attention to the weather. I used to check it all the time but it was ALWAYS wrong, WTH? So I quit.

My brother called me on Monday night to see If Puddin Pop and I wanted to come down (to Raleigh) to spend a couple days with him and his son. We planned on taking the kids to the zoo on Wednesday since my nephew didn't have Day Care and my brother was off as well. We left on Tuesday. We ran into a couple spots of rain, but thought nothing of it and heard nothing of bad weather on the radio that we listened to for the entire 3.5 hour drive.

When we got up on Wednesday, it was obvious we were NOT going to the zoo. We decided to go to Monkey Joe's (inside inflatables) instead. We didn't bother to think "It's Veteran's Day and the kids don't have school (although mine did have school) it's going to be a madhouse." Nope. Not us. We take our 2 and 3 year olds out to play with the big kids. We get to Monkey Joe's only to find a sign on the door that says "We are over capacity. Come back in an hour" WTH? AND the door is locked. Do we quit there? Nope. We head 20 minutes up the road to the Monkey Joe's in Cary. It's pretty busy (slammed) too, but they're open. We go in and PP takes off, paying no mind to the bigger kids. They don't phase her a bit. WTH? Her cousin, however, is not so brave. He never stepped foot on anything. After awhile, PP headed to a big giant maze and ran right in. When I realized it wasn't a simple obstacle course with only one way to go to get out, I started to look for her. I headed towards the back and looked through the netting on the sides. She came around the corner with a fretful look on her face. It was obvious she was beginning to panic with all the big kids just shoving past her. She saw me and said she wanted out. Another little girl near her (about 6) offered to assist her. I thanked the little girl and was getting ready to walk to the front when I saw a little boy, about 4, come around the corner with his face completely covered in blood. WTH? A "referee" nearby saw him and immediately went to clear the "ride". I went to the front and panicked that PP would get trampled by all the kids trying to get out. She arrived safely and we decided to leave. We picked up lunch on the way home and stayed in the rest of the day.

Later that evening, Hubster called to say that Boog's school would be closing early on Thursday due to rain and flooding. WTH? By 5:30 am they had decided to cancel schools completely. I know this because the school called my cell. WTH? at 5:30am? Anyway, PP and I decided we'd make the drive back anyway. It wasn't too bad. Traffic was minimal. When we were about 10 minutes from home we made the left to take the James river Bridge which takes us right to our street. WTH? It was CLOSED. Another thing I would have expected to hear on the radio. We go around another way and get home 40 minutes later.

We are met by my FIL who is going to meet Hubster at the house to see if they can get a tarp on the roof where we've sprung a leak. We actually had already contracted a company to put on a new roof, but due to the rain, they can't do it until next week. WTH? Anyway. My FIL decides NOT to wait for Hubster and decides he'll get started. In the rain. In 50 mph winds.

I sit down to check my email. I'm a little flustered with the multiple e-mails advertising human growth hormone. WTH? Do I look that bad? and how are these not going into my junk mail? Before I can ponder this too much, I hear a loud THUD. I go to the back window and see the ladder on the ground, one leg broken off of it. I see my FIL just looking at it. I open the door and ask him if he fell. He says yes and I tell him to come in. He says he'll go to the front door. He gets to the porch and is standing in the wind and rain asking Boog to get him a towel for a cut on his hand. I open the door and tell him to come into the house. He just stands there saying he doesn't want to get the floor muddy. WHAT THE HELL? I told him I didn't give a rats arse what he wanted and demanded he come in. Turns out he cut his finger and had a pretty nice cut on his leg as well. Just about that time Hubster gets home and questions why his dad didn't wait for him. We send FIL home. Hubster then decides it's a good idea to go try to put the tarp up by himself. WTH? He falls off a different ladder and ends up spraining his ankle. Now he has a brace on it and is hobbling around.

Thank Goodness Friday the 13th didn't involve anything other than doctor's appointments and staying from rain, wind and injury.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Best Dinner in a LONG Time

I ventured off the beaten path yesterday. I was in the mood to cook and decided to try a recipe that none of us had tried before. It was a little adventurous for my non- flavor seeking boys (hubby and Son). It was kinda like putting Ferrari parts on the Camry. A little fancier, way risky, and probably NOT a good fit...but I was tired of the same 'ol choices. I wanted FLAVOR. Both boys are doing much better in trying new things and I just hoped that my timing was right.

I pulled out a cook book and found a recipe for Chipotle-Cinnamon Pork Cops with Pineapple relish. I then looked for a side dish and found Nutty Okra. Now. Everyone here eats pork chops and okra, so I figured I could pull it off.

The recipe claims "less than 15 minutes prep" per recipe. I'm betting Mr. Food never made dinner while doing homework and occupying a 3 year old. It took a little longer. I added to it some Uncle Ben's Long Grain Wild rice in Sundried Tomato Florentine flavor. Not sure if that's new or something I've been missing out was super yummy and complimented the chops and okra perfectly. At least Puddin Pop and I thought so. As dinner was almost finished I happened to get a small tasted of the rub on the chops and quickly whipped up some mac 'n cheese thinking the chops may be too spicy for the little folks.

I was very pleased with my meal. The kids tried the pork chops, one thought it was too spicy (it was pretty hot) and the other ate half of one. They loved the okra. They had the pineapple relish, mac n' cheese and one had rice. Hubster, who is affectionately called "bland boy" ate two pork chops, tried the rice, loved the okra and the pineapple (which really helped "cool" the pork chops.

It turned out to be a nice family dinner. We ate (mostly) the same thing. We tried something new...together. I got to cook. I got the flavorful food I've been missing at most of our family meals.

Chipotle-Cinnamon Pork Chops w/ Pineapple/mint relish

1 tsp chipotle chile powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbls plus 2 tsp olive oil, divided
4 (1" thick)boneless center-cut pork chops
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pineapple
2 tbsp fresh chopped mint
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

1) Combine chile powder, cinnamon, salt and 2 tsp oil. Stir to make a paste. Rub paste over pork chops. Let stand while making relish.

2) Combine pineapple and remaining ingredients. Toss well and set aside.

3) Heat remaining 1 tbsp of oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add chops and cook 7-8 minutes on each side or until done. Serve with relish
4 servings

Nutty Okra

1 cup biscuit baking mix
1/2 cup finely chopped salted dry-roasted peanuts
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 (16 0z) package frozen cut okra. thawed

1) Stir together biscuit mix, chopped peanuts, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add okra, tossing to coat. Gently press peanut mixture into okra.

2) Pour oil into pan (2" deep) and heat to 375 (medium heat). Fry okra in batches, 4 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
4 servings

*Recipes from The Best of Mr. Food, 15-Minute Recipes

Monday, November 9, 2009

Popular Kids Equals Popular Mommy

While watching The New Adventures of Old Christine (that show cracks me up) last week I was thinking what I would do in similar situations. Her son, Ritchie, is invited to a dance by the most popular girl in school. Christine takes this as affirmation that "they" are now popular. She would go to any lengths to be in the popular crowd. Even the Mommies have different clicks.

Honestly, I can't imagine my kids not being liked. I don't necessarily envision them in the most popular groups, but can't imagine them being outcasts, or constantly picked on. I see them as well liked within all different groups and kind to everyone. That is my hope. It's not something I worry about. I guess it's just what I expect. Not an expectation I put on them (except the being kind to everyone part) but just an expectation of what I know. Does that make sense? I guess I just envision them loving school and their friends as much as I did. I'm not sure what I'll do if this isn't the case. I'm pretty sure I won't meddle. I won't call other parents to find out why their kid doesn't like mine...I don't think. I would like to believe that I could help my children adjust to any situation, helping them rather than trying to change other's opinions.

As far as the popular mommies group...I could care less...if there even is a thing. There was a time (in my younger days) where I desired being a "hot" mommy. You know, the one all the High School boys talked about. The one who did whatever possible to look good. Went to the tanner, used a thermogenic fat burner and worked out. Never left the house without looking great . I thought I could pull it all off naturally...without all that work. Then I had 35. Not only did I realize it wouldn't be a possibility, it wasn't what was important.

The kids are growing up. I have my life and they will soon have theirs. I do not need to be in the "Best Mommies at School" group. I have my own friends. I've always had a problem with "friends by association". I like to find my own friends. I don't have to be your best friend because our kids are friends. We can be friendly and we might become good friends, if we have stuff in common. I'm just not one to fake friendships because others think I should be friends with you. That's just not who I am.

*I have been hired by Warner Bros WB Word division to raise awareness for New Adventures of Old Christine on CBS

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What Will They Be When They Grow Up?

Do you ever look at your kids and try to envision what they will be when they grow up? Will they be doctors? Lawyers? Will they excel musically? Will they have various IT jobs resulting in creating the latest "must have" technology? Will they be teachers? Politicians? Starving Artists? I want my children to succeed in whatever they choose to do. I want them to be happy with their achievements and want to be able to see their visions and not impose my own visions on them. There are millions of people who work to provide shelter and food for their families. There are far too few people who actually LOVE what they do and do it solely for that reason.

I want to expose my children to as many things as possible and let them find what excites them. I will not try to steer them one way or the other. I will support their decisions and do what I can to help them further their talents. I will not push. I will listen. We think that Boog would really enjoy playing on a baseball team. He thinks otherwise. He's 6. Does this fall under "exposing him to new things" or pushing him to do something we want him to try?

Tell me what you think.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Christmas Cards Please

If you're on Facebook, you've probably seen the requests from a little boy for Christmas cards...this week. Noah Biorkman was diagnosed with Neoroblastoma in 2007 at the age of three. His parents want him to be able to live out his last days as he should, as a little boy...excited about Christmas. Noah and his family have requested Christmas wishes in the form of cards and have already received an overwhelming amount of cards and gifts. They will be celebrating Christmas this week,

This little boy has been through so much and to be able to make him smile and show support to this family, who's hearts must be breaking, is the least we all can do.

Here's a link to a news report on this story of Noah Biorkman.

Cards may be sent to:

Noah Biorkman
1141 Fountain View Circle
South Lyon, MI, 48178

Santa will also be joining Noah this weekend courtesy of the South Lyon Fire Department.

I've found this to be the perfect opportunity to once again explain to my children how fortunate we are. They watched the video of Noah and immediately sat down to make a card. This is not just me talking. They saw and connected with this sweet little boy. Their hearts were opened and their generous spirits shined through. This will be a Christmas to remember. A beginning of new traditions that go beyond ourselves and our own home.

Thank You Noah for allowing us to share this Christmas with you.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm Doing It...and I Could Use Some Help

My kids have way too much stuff. They have more toys than they need and too many to enjoy what they have. I keep saying that I'm going to weed some out...but I never do. I'm tired of looking at the den after they've been in there playing with friends. They tend to just throw stuff around and play with nothing. I think they will enjoy having fewer things and actually being able to find what they are looking for.

Today I started. My plan is to have it done by the end of the month. The problem is all the stuff that needs to be put back together. A bag of 100 mega is empty and the blocks are all over the room in different bins. I started by collecting all the little pieces of toys they never play with, things that are broken, and the coveted Happy Meal toys that get more attention than anything with a higher price tag...I filled a large garbage bag and threw it out. There's plenty more to be tossed. I would like to get the re-usable toys with tons of parts, all put back together so we can donate them in December. I'm weeding out all the stuff to be thrown out. I will then enlist the help of the kids to decide what to keep and what to donate. I have my fingers crossed that they will let go of the baby (toddler) toys.

Anyone wanna come help?

Holiday Gift Ideas

I'm trying to come up with some crafty gifts the kids can make this year for the grandparents. My favorite, so far, are coasters made from ceramic tiles. I've seen several different forms of this project using supplies such as scrapbook paper, rubber stamps, permanent markers and then some sort of sealant. Each variety I've come across has been a set of four, put together with a festive holiday bow. I think the kids will really enjoy decorating them and the grandparents will enjoy using them. I would like a set myself and am in search of a wine print or possible grapes. If you come across that in a scrabooking paper please let me know.

I have my wine fermenting in the shed. I'll give it a try around Thanksgiving and then again mid-December. I hope to be able to send a bottle to my Parents, along with their coasters, I just need to come up with a nice name and label design. Any suggestions?

What are your holiday gift plans. Do you do anything creative you'd like to share or do you buy all your gifts?

Going Back to School

I've often dreamed of going back to school. I attended college for 2 years and then pursued a career in Restaurant Management. I researched my options and knew that another 2 years of college would result in still needing about the same in experience. I had a restaurant offering me a management position on the spot and decided that that was a better alternative. It's a good thing that I really enjoyed my work. It kept me employed for 17 years in a challenging and rewarding career. I still wish I had the piece of paper.

I'm the type of person that like to finish what I started (unless it's a craft project, which sometimes never gets finished). I started college and I want to finish. I want to finish for myself. I want to finish to set an example for my kids. Years ago I looked into taking a few courses and was amazed at how steep the prices have gotten. I was even more shocked to see the prices of universities offering programs online. Recently, in the news, I've seen reports on an online university, Western Governors University, that costs about half of what the others charge. They are strictly and online university with no building or maintenance costs to inflate pricing. They charge per term versus per credit. This is definitely something I will be looking into more over the next couple months. I think once Puddin Pop starts school full time It would be great to set the example and good studying habits by working towards and online mba.

It's funny. While dreaming of taking online courses I was thinking of several years from now when the kids are ready to attend college. Is college strictly for higher education or an experience one should receive? I think online is right for me, but think being part of a university and all the college experiences is something I would like for my children. Is that strange?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What the Hell Wednesday 2

Is it legal to participate in a meme and switch up which blog you post it to? WTH, I'm going to do it. Spreading the wealth. File your complaints with the bloggers union.

The fun and sassy gals over at Blue Monkey Butt have come up with What the Hell Wednesdays. A way to vent all your weeks WTH moments to share with the world. I find it very therapeutic. If you want to join in, just click the logo above. Elle and Stacy would love to have you play along.

We have a ton of Halloween candy, WTH, I can feel my butt expanding beyond the confines of my jeans as we speak. Someone please come break in and steal it. Ignore the dog, she barks tough but she's harmless, unless you're thinking you'd like to steal more than candy, WTH? Then she is a ferocious attack dog that has done serious damage to dogs twice her size. You've been warned!

I'm happy that the weather is finally getting cold. I swear that during the warm months I get acne like a teenager, WTH? It's embarrassing. I didn't have it as a teenager. Someone is getting me back. The cold weather dries my skin like salicylic acid works for some...just not me. I need some good cold, skin drying weather, which means my face is clear about 2 months of the year, WTH?

I love to read. Last week I ordered some books from amazon. Why anyone would pay for new books when you can get them "slightly used" for a penny (plus shipping) is beyond me. WTH, I splurged and got 3. Cost me a total of $7. They supposedly shipped last mail...they're still not here, WTH?.

I've got some new wines to review in the near future so, WTH, come back and get all the juicy details. Now head on over to Blue Monkey Butt and see who else is celebrating WTH Wednesday.

I feel better already.

Necco Wafers

Remember these? When I first heard that Necco was looking for people to review their all-natural candies I was excited to be able to share one of my childhood favorites with my kids. These simple crunchy and suckable candies remind me of my trick-or-treating days and I thought it would be fun to share these with trick-or-treaters coming to our door.

We received a bag of the traditional wafers and a couple junior sized packages of the chocolate ones. We all tried the chocolate ones and agreed they were "different" and tasty. When the 4 chocolate rolls were gone, the kids asked for more. They wanted to open the bag. I should have paid attention to the flavors. The original flavors of cinnamon, wintergreen and licorice are quite strong and the kids spit them out saying they were too "spicy." With disappointment on their faces. they set down the rolls and walked away. I don't remember them being this flavorful. Or maybe we just stuck to other flavors as a kid. I, on the other hand, am delighted to have the bag to myself. It's like having a variety pack of mints in my purse. It could possibly be my best weight loss product this holiday season. When desiring something sweet, I can enjoy a (junior) roll of these instead of grabbing a candy bar from the Halloween stash. They last for quite some time offering full flavor all along.
Here's some fun Necco Facts
*1947~A young English Immigrant by the name of Oliver Chase invents the first candy machine, a lozenge maker, and Necco Wafers were born
*Necco Wafers have regained popularity in recent years with consumers seeking non-fat treats.
*Necco produces approximately 4 billion wafers each year. If the wafers were placed side by side, they would wrap around the world...twice.
*Fans of Necco wafers have used them for additional purposes such as poker chips, practice for first communions, and bulls-eyes for target practice.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Holiday Drinks

I like wine for every occasion. It goes well with most everything and with nothing at all, but during the holidays I like to have festive drinks. I've been known to add Grand Marnier to my coffee Thanksgiving and Christmas morning. Just a splash...for flavor. Grand Marnier is my winter warmer. It's wonderful in margaritas, coffee, hot chocolate and by itself. A tiny sip warms me all over.

A couple Christmases ago my MIL gave me a Cocoa-Latte drink maker that makes the best hot chocolate with no hassle. It's kinda like a heated blender. You add all the ingredients and just turn it on. It continuously mixes the cocoa while heating at the same time. It turns off when it reaches the right temperature and will turn itself back on, to reheat, if it starts getting cold. The kids LOVE it and it's the most used appliance in the kitchen during the colder months. My favorite (adult) recipe is my ...

Grande Gourmet Cocoa

3 ounces of finely chopped bittersweet chocolate

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup half and half

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ounce Grand Marnier

Put all ingredients into cocoa- latte maker and flip the switch.
Top with Whip cream and a sprinkle of Cinnamon after pouring.
Sometimes I add the Grand Marnier after so the kids can have some too...sometimes.

Health Insurance For Kids~ A Moral Issue

We are fortunate that my husband has a job that provides insurance for the whole family. I would be willing to give up insurance for myself, if I had to, to insure the kids were covered. Not everyone is this lucky.

I wouldn't know where to begin in researching insurance for my children. With companies as easy to find as typing, how does one know which companies provide the most for their money? How much time is needed to research and qualify for the right one?

A study recently released by John Hopkins Hospital and found reported by Science Daily, states:
"Thousands of children die needlessly each year because we lack a health system that provides them health insurance. This should not be," says co-investigator Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., director of Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins and medical director of the Center for Innovations in Quality Patient Care.

They also stated that uninsured children are presented more often to the emergency rooms with advanced stages of disease due to lack of insurance and ability to get early treatment from pediatricians.

I could not imagine watching my child suffer because I could not afford to take them to a doctor. It happens all around us. As a child, my father left his job that provided the family with insurance to become self employed. We didn't have insurance. I remember slipping on a rug in our foyer and slamming into our front door. Luckily I had put my hand up to protect my head. I sliced my middle finger on the metal piece at the bottom of the door. The cut went to the bone. My mom wrapped it in paper towel, several times, until the bleeding stopped. Bending it would cause it to split open and start bleeding again since it was directly on the knuckle. It took forever to completely heal and I am fortunate it never got infected. It breaks my heart to think of this happening to another child, without insurance, who could end up losing a digit or a hand due to infection and lack of treatment.

Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., director of Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins and medical director of the Center for Innovations in Quality Patient Care says it best. "In a country as wealthy as ours, the need to provide health insurance to the millions of children who lack it is a moral, not an economic issue."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Giving the Kids a Space All Their Own

I love looking at decor magazines. Especially the ones that create really cool places for kids. Now that they are getting older I would love to be able to create a quiet place they they could hang out either individually or together. No Parents Allowed. Somewhere they can share their secrets, read a book, or just think. One of the most creative spaces I've seen used is under a stairwell, of course I can't find one to add to this post to save my life...use your imaginations. A hole is cut the size if a small door and then the "room" is decorated. The end result is a cute little cubby perfect for kids (and a little too small for adults). Unfortunately, we have one of our air intakes
right in the middle of the wall. I wonder if that can be moved? I wonder how hard it would be? This would totally be a do-it-yourself project, but one I think would be worth the time and investment. One the kids would remember.

What spaces have you created or thought about creating?