Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fa la la la la

How 4 year old children keep secrets:

MiniMac: Daddy! We did NOT get any presents for you when we were shopping today!
Daddy: Ok.
MiniMac: Ha ha ha, Daddy! We did NOT go to the golf shop and buy you any surprises!

How do 4 year old children keep secrets? Answer: Not well.

But the level of sheer belief in Santa and enthusiasm for the holiday at this age in endearing. Two weeks ago, I took MiniMac with me to pick out toys for a corporate toy drive being held at my office. Not only did he do a great job selecting, he went with me to work the next morning to deliver. My corporate office is high intensity so the likelihood of seeing a child there is about zero on a normal day. So he garnered quite a bit of attention in the elevator with his giant tote of toys. One woman asked him if he was on his way to his "job" that morning. He said, "I am too little for a job. I am just here with the toys." She asked if the toys were his toys and he said, "No. We went and picked them out last night for kids who do not have toys this holiday." A man in the elevator turned to him and said, "How nice!" MiniMac replied, "Well, if you have more than someone else, you should share."

It really is that simple and always will be. And my heart did swell that he is listening to our messages and absorbing them as his own.

But because he is 4, he can go either way. Last night, MiniMac told me he cannot wait until Christmas morning to open all his gifts. (And let's be honest, he is the only grandchild on both sides of the family. The kid makes out like a bandit.) I reminded him of the reason for the season AND that we should be most thankful for being together as a family.

He responded, "I can be thankful and think about Jesus WHILE I am opening presents, Mom."

Well played, young man, well played.

Whatever you are celebrating, I hope it is merry and bright. Wishing you an amazing 2012 ahead. I will be back January 3.

Cheers,
JennyMac

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Take A Bite Of: MarciaGarcia's Candy Cane Swirl Cookies

Yesterday I was the surprise story teller for MiniMac's class. Instead of reading a book, I told an interactive story that included all of the kids in class on a trip to the North Pole. They were in search of a missing bag that fell off Santa's sleigh.  "Legend has it" the bag contained special Christmas ornaments and if your name was on an ornament, Santa knew you were on the nice list. The bag also contained magical Candy Cane Swirl cookies and if you ate one, you could give a wish to anyone. There is no better audience for this kind of story than a group of 4 - 5 year olds. The beauty was when the kids found this giant red bag full of yes, special Christmas ornaments (each one with a name) and the magical cookies. Listen, at this age, you are a believer. And it was the highlight of my day.

Now, you can have your own magical cookies too. My BFF shared her favorite holiday cookie and they are AMAZING. So thanks for the idea, MG, which started as cookies and turned into what my son defined as "one of my favorite stories!"  We made these the other night and they are soft, delicious, and SUPER easy. From my kitchen (and MarciaGarcia's) to yours, enjoy every bite.

MarciaGarcia's Candy Cane Swirl Cookies


INGREDIENTS:
1/2 c shortening
1/2 c buttter
3 c flour
1 c sugar
1 egg
2 T milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 tsp red food color

DIRECTIONS:
1.  Beat room temp shortening and butter for 30 seconds.
2.  Add 2 cups flour, sugar, egg, milk vanilla baking soda, and salt to beaten mixture.  Beat until thoroughly combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.  Then beat in remaining flour.
3.  Divide dough in half.  Set 1/2 aside.  Add peppermint extract & red color to remaining half and beat just until red color is thoroughly mixed.
4.  To shape dough, roll out each portion of dough between 2 sheets of wax paper to form a 12X11 inch rectangle.  (Not sure what size mine was...but shoot for similar size rectangles.  if you get an oval, just rip off extra with fingers and put it where you want it and roll flat.  it doesn't have to be perfect.)
5.  Remove top sheet of waxed paper from each rectangle.  Invert plain dough on top of pink dough.  Peel off top sheet of paper.  From the long side, roll up, jellyroll style, removing bottom sheet of paper as you roll.  Press sides in to make them flat.   Cut roll in half, crosswise.  Wrap and chill the two rolls for 4 to 24 hours.
6.  Cut dough into 1/4 inch slices.  Bake on ungreased cookie sheet (or I used parchment paper) at 375 degrees for 7 minutes.  Cool on wire rack. Give some away or you will end up eating about 10 by yourself.

MiniMac helped me roll out the dough. We went heavier on the pink dough per his request. And he seems to really love the sampling part of the process the best.

Have a fantastic weekend.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pour some sugar on me...

On a playdate at a park, I watched a two year old happily sipping on soda. Mountain Dew to be exact. YIKES. And YIKES for about 100 reasons. Here is an awesome beverage for a baby...one laden with caffeine AND sugar. YUM. I heard another Mom say, "that is crazy." And the Dad responded, "True. But I am sure we used to drink worse when we were kids." Right. You know what else we did when we were kids? We wore colored sweat pants with our name down in the side in iron-on letters and braces large enough to land a cargo plane. Doesn't mean these are great ideas for today or values by which we should shape our current choices. The good news is I only have one child to worry about...my own. The bigger issue is Holy Cheezus, why are we all so addicted to sugar. I read this blog that listed the top sugar drinks. Did you know a 20 oz bottle of Sunkist has 85.8 grams of sugar? EGADS. Did you teeth just snap? One more reason I am glad I don't drink soda. On the contrary, most red wine has little to no sugar. One more reason I am glad I LOVE red wine.

I loved sugar when I was a kid. That lasted for a long, long time. The reality is, I would take sweet over salty most of the time but I simply had to break up with sugar. Everytime we eat sugar, our body floods itself with insulin. Your blood sugar spikes and then your body tries to turn that sugar into fat. That's why the Twinkie doesnt build your bicep! But this is information many of us already know.

And back in the day I used to thoroughly enjoy boxes and boxes of cereal. Bright pink berry Cap'N Crunch and rainbow colored Trix. My mom did not allow sugar cereals when we kids. But I totally confess to gobbling this crap up when I was in college AND graduate school. More Yikes. Sugar laden cereal is so bad for you, you would be better off nibbling a diaper. And then I saw this today:

One more reason I am glad I broke up with cereal.

But here and there I could still go for a nibbly sweet. Maybe a small handful of m&ms, or a few bites of the baked goods I so lovingly prepare in this house. But I wanted to get off sugar as much as possible.  But I needed a plan.

If you really want to break up with sugar for good, I read a book called Body Confidence by Mark MacDonald. I made the slightest modifications to what I was eating and frequency. Even being what I consider a very healthy eater to start, I could tell a significant difference in about a week. Oh, and he is also Chelsea Handler's nutritionist. That girl is a serious vodka-loving party-pants. And she looks incredible.

With the access to crap food and seeing a baby actually drinking a soda (and that day was not the first time) it is sad but not surprising that childhood obesity is a crazy epidemic. 

Pour some sugar on me? Only if its Def Leppard style.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

31 days of Goodness: Version 3.0

For the past two years on December 1, I have written a post called 31 Days of Goodness. Each time, the post has a record number of views as well as some great sharing on FB and Twitter.  All because of you. Thank YOU for being great and interested and willing to do great things for other people.

It was initially prompted by a service project I got involved with and reinforced by a service project my son's class participated in.  My son's class has adopted a family for the holidays again this year. This family consists of a single mother with five children. The list of needs from this family does not include Xbox, iPad or Cars 2 on BluRay. The list does include coats, underwear and socks. It is a reminder many of us are lucky to take many things for granted. And it is also a reminder we have the power to do so much for other people.

This December 1st finds an abundance of opportunities for every person to contribute from around the globe to your own community. It’s the 31 days of Goodness Version 3.0 a list of free or small donation opportunities.


Consider it a way to put a little jingle in your bells, a good karmic investment, and a way to lean over that blade of grass and whisper: grow, grow.

FREE GOODNESS:

1. A charity I am very close to is Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Even if you live as far away from here as possible, you can agree no one would want their child/grandchild/sibling or any child they loved to be hospitalized especially at the holiday time. Children's expects over a thousand kids to be with them over the holiday time but you can send a short note to help them meet their goal of providing a note to every child in their care during this time. Visit Share With Children's to send your message.

2. Sign up at Volunteer Match to make an impact in your own zip code. This service provides a number of options to get involved. Its good for your heart, your soul, and one less reason to sit on the couch eating holiday snack mix. 

3. One of the best thing I personally did last year: I lopped off eleven inches of hair to Locks of Love. They make wigs for children with terminal cancer. And I did it honor of an amazing family friend who faced cancer, turned it on its heel,  and kicked it in the ass.

4. You know those many frocks you have harbored in your closet? Some since that holiday party in 2005? Give your closet some breathing room while doing something wonderful for a high school student. You can donate any gowns/special occasion dress (and accessories) to Princess Project which will coordinate and prep your gear for a young lady to wear to her high school prom.

5. Manly friends and friends with access to a manly closet, you are not excluded. Any gently used office attire for men can be used by Career Gear which helps men down on their luck on job-hunting, interview skills and loans them clothes to do their best at the interview. 

6. Get involved. To start, visit Do Something which is a fantastic website. Their motto: Powering Offline Action.  Find service projects in your zip code. They also encourage you to engage your teenage family members to get involved in philanthropy. Their aim is to inspire the next generation of “doers”. You can also find local events/charities/nonprofits to support at Do Good ChannelYou can also visit All For Good which helps you find AND share opportunities to do good. I typed in our zip code and found almost 1000 opportunities. AMAZING. 

7. For those with little time but big interest, visit this new site I found Sparked. Its a microvolunteering network that matches you with interests and some of these volunteering needs take only minutes (take a pic of a local park safe for kids to play.)
8. Mentor/coach/tutor a future Jeffrey Eugenides, Clive Cussler or Tina Fey at 826 National   which now has 8 nonprofit writing centers which helped over 29,000 students last year! Many of you are writers so let your talent shine as you encourage and help guide creative writing talents in students age 16-18.

9. While you are cleaning out your closet, hit your office and bookshelves too. You can also join Books For Soldiers for free and send used books to troops. You can also send DVDs, games and relief supplies. 

10.
Sign up to volunteer with Kids Enjoy Exercise Now  and become a one on one volunteer to teach kids or young adults with physical and developmental disabilities about noncompetitive sports.

11.
Give blood. It doesn't hurt. Or it you do think it hurts, it only hurts for 2 seconds. And then you get a cookie and some juice, you baby. To find a local blood bank: Visit Give Life

12. Donate your old cell phones to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Go to the site and click under Take Action and then Donate.

13. Donate shoes (you know you have more than you can ever wear!) to Share Your Soles
You can also pony up a buck to provide laundry soap to wash 30 pairs of shoes.

14. You can donate baby blankets, stuffed animals, and children’s books to Project Night Night  which helps homeless children. They donated over 25, 000 Night Night packages last year. 
 
15. Play Free Rice and every correct vocab word you identify, 10 grains of rice are donated to the UN World Food Program. You can also play Free Kibble and for every correct answer, they add 10 pieces of dog food for an animal shelter in need. You need a break from playing Angry Birds, don't you?

16. 
For a minimum of one hour a week for one year, you could mentor an at-risk teen online at I Could Be. You can give guidance and help a teenager reformat their life, goals, and self-confidence.

SMALL DONATION RELATED GOODNESS

17. This could almost count as free goodness, but for $2 (yes, you read that correctly, TWO dollars) you can buy a set of drumsticks for a low-income public school student learning to play the drums at Little Kids Rock. If not because you have a little rock and roll in your own heart, do it because that is one awesome name for a charity. 

18. $4 can to Cell Phones for Soldiers will provide two hours of prepaid phone service for a soldier overseas to call home. This charity was actually started by teenage siblings. Good on you kids, and because of generous donations, they helped over half a million servicemen and women in 2011 alone.  If you are feeling more generous, Operation Homefront provides emergency $ assistance to service members/military families across the country who have encountered financial hardship, death, injury or physical or mental detriment as a result of having served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Assistance can come in the form of checks paid directly to mortgage lenders, auto mechanics, contractors, hospitals and doctors as well as food, home repairs and baby formula, among other things.

19. Visit World of Good this holiday season and let your shopping shape the world. This is a global marketplace by eBay in which every purchase, from a scarf to a work of art, makes a positive impact. And eBay vets every source to make sure it is ethical and eco-friendly. 

20. Meals on Wheels has been doing great service for seniors in the US since 1954. $14 will provide two nutritious meals delivered by volunteers to a housebound senior. You can also learn more about them if you want to volunteer. They have the largest volunteer base in the world and they still need help. 

21. For $25 to Why Hunger you can not only get a salad on the table of an at-risk teen, you can get that teen on a healthy path. Why Hunger focuses on helping needy kids not only grow produce for their own dinner table, but take that produce to farmer's market and help them foster independence, work acumen and a means of supporting their families. 

22.  Visit Skip1.org  and register to skip something you normally spend money on.
You register on the site to skip something, like a daily latte, a mani/pedi or that DVD you won't watch twice and instead, you donate that money to the organization. 100% of your donation goes to the acquisition and distribution of food and water projects worldwide.

23. With the alarming increase of bullying in schools, send $25 to Stand for the Silent  run by Laura and Kirk Smalley, who lost their son Tyler due to incessant bullying. Your donation will help support Kirk's many speaking engagements and seminars to end bulling and promote anti-bullying training for youth and schools.

24. Give a loan that will change a life. For as little as $25 at Kiva.org you can help men and woman all over the world start businesses. You can choose your cause and donate through this peer-to-peer program. You can also watch the progress of your recipient. You will be paid back as well but that is the least important aspect.
25. $38 donated to Conservation.org will save half a mile of ocean from overfishing and pollution.

26. A $10.00 donation to Noah’s Ark helps abused children rehabilitate abused animals. I know someone very involved in this program and it is amazing.
27. Visit the  Jonathan Collins Memorial website. In partnership with Build a Bear, a $25.00 dollar donation will send a Comfort Bear to a little one whose parent is deployed. The bear includes a message recorded in the parent's voice as a reminder to that child he is loved and missed.

28. Help the teachers who are educating our children and the future leaders of the world! At Donors Choose, you will be connected online to classrooms in need. You can search by projects and view long lists provided by teachers regarding classroom needs. Everything from writing utensils, science equipment and musical instruments. It doesn't even need to be said how sad it is that teachers are paying out of their own pockets in many school districts for necessary supplies.

29. Donate a minimum of $10.00 to Pajama Program  which provides new jammies and books for kids in orphanages, group homes, and shelters who are waiting to be (or hoping to be) adopted. To date, they have given almost ONE MILLION books and pjs to kids who need them. 
 
30. Go to Best Friends and make a small donation to help this organization dealing with thousands of displaced pets. Your money can help set up shelters, prepare furry friends for adoption, or have microchips put into the animals.

31. And since you know our son has a little rock and roll in his heart, I will also include that $50 donated to Fender Music Foundation will turn into a guitar for a struggling music program, giving approximately 20 kids a guitar to play throughout the year.   

As I wrote last year, just think of the impact if everyone who read this simply picked one of these options? Talk about the benevolent impact! Lets act. Let it be the minimum we do this year.  


Cheers to a gorgeous holiday season, JennyMac

Monday, November 28, 2011

Make sure Rocky's theme song is on your play list...

13.1 miles? I can now officially say, "Been there. Run that." WOW. What a morning Thanksgiving morning was for me as I buttoned down to run my first half-marathon.  Prior to race day, the furthest distance I have completed is the Peachtree Road Race, the world's biggest 10K. And any 4 year old with a mediocre sense of math knows that 6.4 does not = 13.1.  Oh, and I don't really like running. That is another special element I had not mentioned before.

As for the big race? The great news is, I loved it. My goals were twofold: 1. Finish. 2. Don't walk. Two goals accomplished. I will admit I was a bit squirrely on my way there. Was a half-marathon really for the elite runner? Would I still be on the track when they were sweeping up cups and traffic resumed? Thankfully, no.

So here are training tips for anyone who is not an elite runner and wants to check Half-Marathon off your bucket list:

1. If you go it alone, be super appreciate that your husband is willing to get up at 645 am and drop you off. AWESOME. If you run with friends, you better paper/scissor/rock it out to see who is going to drive because parking can be a challenge at these things.  Extra bonus when your little man wants to ride along. Super extra bonus when he yells out the car window as you leave , "Win the race, Mom! I know you can!!!" Smile about your child's love and positive attitude. Smile bigger that clearly, your child knows nothing because clearly, you are not actually going to win.

2. Dress appropriately for the weather. The day was gorgeous here but OH BOY it was less than 40 degrees out. I brought a jacket and a hat but woooops..where are you gloves, missy? My hands were SO cold I was tempted at one point to put them in my pants. Yes, it occurred to put them in my jacket pockets. Oops, those were full. I bought some "energy" concoction called "Gu" I had read about but also saw at the race number pick up expo. I also had my cell phone because I had to ring up aforementioned awesome husband to fetch me when the race was over.

3. When dressing appropriately for cold weather, layer it up with things you could easily discard on the ground and never think about again. The race course is strewn with shirts, jackets, hats, gloves as runners heat up. Hey guy I will never see again, thank you so much for getting warmer quicker than me and giving me your gloves so I didn't actually have to run with hands in my pants. But listen, my hands were more brittle than an ice sculpture and I would have done what I had to do.

4. When in doubt, don't wear the Eeyore costume. Oh, you were cozy when it was 40 degrees and you had many envious looks as you were snuggly warm but when it hit 60, you were hot. And I can't imagine it was smelling good in there. But I love your spunk, you grown man who happens to have a full-sized Eeyore costume.

5. Speaking of spunk, hey all you wild and crazy people who ran with stuffed turkeys on your heads. I love your spirit! I think a stuffed turkey on my head would throw me off my game. I think the stuffed turkey with the wobbly neck which caused it to bob up and down in front of the runner's face would be a weird twist on the rabbit used at a dog track. And a stuffed turkey with a big long neck doesn't actually look like a turkey as much as it looks like a another part of the turkey. If that turkey was a horse.

6. Bring your cell phone and get a fun pre-race photo. Not of Eeyore or the stuffed turkey hats but of yourself.  My goal: try to look that motivated and refreshed come finish line time. And I have many friends who ran  half-marathons the past 8 weeks and I LOVED seeing their pics. I also liked the status updates, I have to tell you. Why? Because it was motivating and one day when I saw a friends update about her first half-marathon, it actually motivated me to register to do my own.  And yes, I did give a status update mid-run. I was in line for the port-o-john and had some great fanfare supporting me virtually that day so a little status update never hurt anyone.

7. Run with your iPod. Unless you're good like that and can run without it. If you can, are you crazy? Unless you are going to chitter chatter all the way (which I saw hardly anyone doing) I think you need some pep in your step and my way of achieving that is via music. And a kick ass playlist. Several months ago I was turned onto this amazing DJ Greg Gillis (stage name: Girl Talk) and thankfully, he has remixes that carried me through a few unsavory hills and Miles 11-13. And make sure Rocky's theme song is on your playlist too. By Mile 11 I was definitely needing some Eye of the Tiger. I also use the Nike+ iPod tracker system so I could track calories, mileage, and pace.

8. Listen to your body. My body started out saying, "This is awesome" and proceeded to ramp me up to roughly 9 minute miles. Then we hid mid mark and we were clocking about 11 minute miles and my body exclaimed, "Feeling superfly TNT." At aforementioned Mile 11, my body said, "LEG CRAMP" and I ignored it. Have fun ignoring that message. I tried to stretch it out while I was running which was pretty and ineffective. And by pretty I mean, it was a hybrid of the Elaine dance from Seinfeld + a deer bounding through a dewy meadow + and what 2 year olds look like when they have something unpleasant in their pantalones.

9. Watch the carb loading the night before. What goes in, has to come out. I had a little pasta the night before and oatmeal and a protein bar the morning of the race. And I never tried the "Gu" either. It actually feels like goo and I couldn't get on board with it when it came to actual race day. Maybe I should have and then it would have been Mile 11 getting its ass kicked and not me.  Oh, and you can have a glass of wine the night before too. How do I know? Because someone on the Runner's World blog said so. And because you know you aren't going to win. Unless you are the guy who ran it in 1 hour and 8 minutes and then not only are you going to win, but you are phenomenal.

10. Keep in mind, you can do it.  Seriously. People were walking from the starting line so getting out there and doing it is half the battle. And seeing people walking from the starting line really takes the pressure off. And the participants are all shapes and sizes as well as covering an age range from 18 to about 118. Doing anything for the first time is just that, you will only be new to it once. I am already looking forward to my next race. And extra bonus at the end of my race: My husband, son and brother came to see me at the finish. About 400 meters before the finish line, I see my husband and son. MiniMac wants to jump on the track with me and run it in. That is exactly what I needed after 13 miles and a cramp dance on the route. We raced down that hill through the finish line and he got to wear my medal. Later, he whispered to JMac, "I hope Mom is ok because I beat her in the race." I feel more than ok, pal. I feel fantastic.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I hope I outpace the short, fat one...

Oh, I miss blogland. New job = fantastic. New job also = ass kicker. Remember when you took a new job the last time? I had forgotten what it feels like to be face down on the learning curve luge. But I love it. It doesnt make for frequent blog posts but I will get the schedule down. I am enjoying being in NYC more often so I will work on getting the schedule in sync.

And because I apparently didnt feel I had enough to do, 8 weeks ago I registered for my first half-marathon. When is it? Tomorrow am. The good news is I have been training well for it. The less-than-good news is that the furthest I have run in a race is a 10K. Even one of the most dedicated runners we know remarked, "Wow, 13.1 is tough." Thanks for the pep talk, Bobby Knight!

But he is right. Alas. And the race tomorrow is called the Turkey Trot. I can overcome a turkey right? At least I can plan to outpace the short, fat one.

I found some tips for running your first half-marathon. One of the tips said, "Watch a movie about running." Really? This is also what I would call one of the worst tips on running your first half-marathon. The only movies I know that even have running elements are Chariots of Fire, Prefontaine, and the excerpt from Rocky where he runs up the stairs in his grey hoodie and sweatpants. Those are also in a subcategory I like to call "NOT motivating."

Another tip I read, "Try not to think about the distance you are trying to complete." Awesome. Because I can keep telling my legs, "We are just going one more block!" I will try it but I am confident it wont work as well as the thought that at the end of the run, I will have done something I have never done before. And I am fairly certain I will be sipping wine tomorrow afternoon while I parade around in my race t-shirt.

And perhaps I will create my own list of motivational tips for the first time half-marathoners. And perhaps I will put as my #1 tip: Get tips from the many other runners you know in real-world and blogland who have been down this road already!

Sending you and yours a fantastic wish for a great holiday. I hope you are only surrounded by people you like, eating food you like, having conversations you like, about topics you like.  I am thankful for many, many things 12 months of the year. Our gratitude should spread itself far and wide beyond November 24.

Cheers!
JennyMac

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stars and Stripes Forever

With my new travel schedule, I have certainly increased my time in the airports. Recently, while waiting to board, I started a conversation with a young man in uniform. Turns out he was flying to Atlanta on his way to Afghanistan.  Since he was not allowed to consume beverages when deploying, he had to (regretfully) turn down my offer to send him cocktails on the plane.  He did relay he had enjoyed many, many cocktails the night before and couldn't enjoy them on the plane even if he could enjoy them if you know what I mean. And I think you do.

When we boarded the plane, I asked the flight attendants if they would make a comment about him and the nature of his trip.

Once boarded, we had a mechanical issue and had to remain on the plane for over an hour while it was repaired. This makes people very, very pleasant. Once in the air, the pilot thought we could make up some time but in fact, we did not.  As we began to descend, one flight attendant inquired how many people had connecting flights in Atlanta and 97% of the plane raised a hand. The pilot came on the PA and indicated the exact state of affairs.  The exact state of affairs meaning most of the people on the flight would miss connecting flights. There were grumbles. Many people take it in stride (because smart people know that being obnoxious and overly vocal about a problem does little to resolve it) but some people were blatantly and angrily displaced by the news.

A few minutes later, one of the flight attendants got back on the PA and talked about the soldier I had mentioned. It was a thoughtful, witty and wonderful thank-you given to this young kid to which the majority of the crowd responds with whoops and cheers. Thank you. It really made missing a connecting flight pale in context.

Yesterday, I heard a conversation about war and US deployment. One man claimed,  "but war is stupid." Well, that is saying something.  It was weird that the word 'but' was included because it wasn't like the conversation went "War sounds fun...BUT it is stupid." War is tough. And dangerous. And irreversible. Thanks Smarty.  No one thought it was a fun Saturday night where we dress in whipped cream bathing suits and tickle each other.

And listen, I know wrenches thrown in our schedules is never our first choice. I just think most of life is about perspective. And on Veterans Day I want to have this perspective: Missing flights sucks. No doubt about it. Guess what doesn't suck? People, other people as in NOT me who risk life to protect the freedom I so sweetly enjoy to talk openly about whatever I choose (including how preposterous it must feel at times to miss a flight.)  I don't even know if I would have the moxie to suit up, furnish weapon and fight. Guess what else doesn't suck? That I will never have to know if I have the moxie because we are not required to join the armed forces in this country. So another thanks to men and women who are clearly braver than I.

We have the 2nd largest military in the world and it dates back to 1775. But, there are vets all around this globe as well as those actively serving in almost every country (seriously, not every country has military including Vatican City which we all know who runs that place and St. Lucia because it is really about sunbathing and tropical drinks there!)

Give a vet a thanks today. He or she has done, seen, and lived in ways I will never experience and I am ever grateful for it. I am also grateful for winning a beautiful Freedom lottery by being born in the USA.

Stars and Stripes forever.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Heartbreak in State College

I rarely write about controversial topics because we all deal with plenty of negative, controversy, and disgust at what we absorb daily from the media. Controversy is not why you come here and we have Bill O'Reilly to point all kinds of fingers. And with my insane travel schedule right now, and my infrequency of posting why not keep it on the laugh track? But I do want to add my name to the long list of people disheartened by the recent breaking news involving Jerry Sandusky and his activities some of which occurred on the campus of Penn State.

There are so many levels of dismay and confusion following this topic: whether the school knew, or the reality that multiple people at the school knew but did nothing to stop it, how long did it go on, what the trainer saw, why no one removed the child from the situation immediately. A 28 year old trainer witnessed inappropriate contact between Sandusky and a 10 year old boy, contact of which there are now various versions of the truth but the constant in all the alleged stories is that the contact was incredibly inappropriate. Sandusky's charity, The Second Mile, immediately terminated their relationship with him in 2008 when a second report of misconduct with a child surfaced. I can't talk about whether Paterno should be forced out because frankly all of these topics are topics in which we don't know the full level of detail needed. And also because I am not representing either Sandusky or Paterno or the University (thankfully. Good luck legal team that is.)

But I have no shortage of opinion about it trust me, as I am sure those of you following the story don't either. 

But I will, with a distinct level of heartache, include that I know someone who was molested as a child. Molested by someone older, established, and trusted.  Which is not surprising given 90% of victims know their abusers.  I have only a spectator's version of the damage and disconnect these incidences caused to this person's psyche and soul. But very clearly I witnessed it created a gritty sense of distrust in others. For years this person has painstakingly carried not only the secret but the ache of feeling responsible.  And there is simply no reversing 100% of the damage.

When I heard the story as it began to unravel, I thought of all of parents who gasped for air over morning coffee because they had a child who participated in Sandusky's many outings. Who asked themselves Could something like that happen to my son? Did something occur he never told me? Parents who then picked up a phone filled with anxiety to call their son who might be at a friends house, baseball practice, or even in college by now to ask if they too had seen the news.  And braced themselves for the response.

And I wonder if there will be other young men who come forward with a story to tell.  

As a parent, how could you avoid imploding with rage?

Prayers and thoughts extended to the young men and families who are directly impacted by this story:  those already known, those we will soon discover and those who will twist and turn with this in secret the remainder of their lives.  Emotion is not easily translated across the web but today I hope somehow the collective concern and empathy of strangers could provide at least one layer of love in this awful situation. And maybe there can be some reverse to the damage now.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Viva Las Vegas

I am off to Las Vegas for much needed R&R. Oh I know. Vegas is hardly the place for R&R. Let's edit that to say I am off to Vegas today for a long weekend at the ubergorgeous City Center with a gaggle of girls where we will not be drinking tea and talking about our feelings. One of my favorite Vegas posts is in order. Let's run this show again my friends.And you know I should just print this out and pass it around...

10 ways to know if you are Vegas Dirty:

Vegas...the world's best free carnival. We had a gorgeous time complete with incredible meals, some gambling luck, some delicious wine. We thoroughly enjoyed an adults only weekend. It is truly a combination of Sin City and the City that Never Sleeps. The hotel and casino business in Vegas is in constant motion. With the opening of City Center and the much anticipated The Cosmopolitan, the draw is no longer a 19.99 room rate and a 3.99 All You Can Eat Buffet. The restaurants are incredible including three 5 Star locations and there are more sommeliers in Vegas than any other US city.

But there is so much more to do than drink, gamble, and participate in shenanigans. I know, I know, many people trek there specifically for those purposes but for the many great people comprising the actual permanent resident population of Las Vegas, sorry. I think it is the many visitors that give Vegas its reputation as a stateside Caligula's playground. We love Wynn, Encore, and Bellagio. Ditto on Palazzo. Last visit, JMac and I went to see Rod Stewart (who at 65 is still rocking and doing it well) at the Coliseum at Caesar's Palace on night and a few pre-show cocktails and a stroll through the casino presented some serious characters. For most visitors, they might have a little dirty going on under their countenance anyway but when they go to Vegas, all that dirty gets highlighted and magnified. A phenomenon I like to call Vegas Dirty

And listen, I like to prance about and sip extra cocktails on my visits to Vegas just like the average girl. But Vegas Dirty is not about being average. I think Vegas can bring out the dirty in everyone, I after all put on lip gloss before I went to the gym one morning to work out. After brief contemplation, I decided the fact I even went to the gym, IN VEGAS, negated my silly glam move of slapping on shiny gloss at 9 am to go sweat it out in the pilates studio. But I still have a long way to go to get Vegas Dirty.

You are Vegas Dirty if:

1. You wear a bright yellow track suit jacket and matching pants, with the jacket unzipped, no shirt, sunglasses, and a hat on sideways. You also refer to everyone as "Bra" or "Son" and announce sweet sentiments like "I'd hit that..."
PS: Unless you are under the age of 20, in Eminem's music video, or Blossom (or Punky Brewster), wearing a hat on sideways as a grown adult is a universal sign of D-Baggery.

2. You play blackjack with your child in a stroller parked next to you. 

3. Your dress is so short, all your nether world is on display the minute you sit down. I know the Kardashians taught you that but not everyone wants to see your doo - dads. 

4. Whatever make up is not left on the pillow from your crawl home to bed at 5 am is not rinsed off when it is time to later start your day but simply slathered over. 

5. You are out at 2 am with your fully awake infant and since you don't want to choose between beer, cigarette, or baby, and you only have two hands, you simply hold baby in one, cocktail in one, and let the cigarette dangle from your mouth.

6.  You agree to a tryst that would likely be illegal in certain countries because you believe "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." Just because you saw that mantra on TV does not make it accurate. Don't believe me? Remember seeing The Lion King on TV? Lions don't really talk.

7. You sit down at the black jack table after you have clearly been over-served. You introduce yourself to the dealer first as Kimberly, then as Jessica. And you later knock your drink over before you compliment him on his hair. He is completely bald. When you get up to leave, you leave your shoes behind and proceed through the casino barefoot.

8. You wear a shirt that reads Gold Diggers. Just like wh_res, only smarter. Or if you are a man who wears a shirt emblazoned with The Legend with an arrow pointing to your bits.

9. You are the reason my receipt from one of the boutiques at Wynn included this disclaimer " Undergarments may NOT be returned."

10. You wear a t-shirt that reads Instant Sl_t. Just add alcohol. That is colossally DIRTY.

Allegedly, or what I heard from a friend: You are NOT dirty if you try to instigate some hanky panky while your husband is watching the Patriots game but you are certainly not using womanly wiles to deter him from the game by any means. He offers to turn it off and you say, no need. He is not dirty either for showing his sheer appreciation at being able to engage in aforementioned hanky panky AND watch the Patriots game, he is merely a smart opportunist because this show doesn't go on at home.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What we have here is a failure to communicate..

Greetings from The Big Apple. While I am toiling away at work, yesterday I popped into Whole Foods to pick up something and alas, they don't carry it anymore. You realize what you are being told, but somehow you stand there and wait, hoping the employee adds, "Just kidding."

This phenomenon started with the Freesia scented lotion at Bath & Body Works. I don't even remember when that product first hit the shelves. Was I in 8th grade? Was I 19? I just remembered the lovely scent and uber-glossy store. And I was hooked. And then they stopped making it. So I switched to the White Tea & Ginger scent. And had a new favorite. And then it too was discontinued. And then the Grapefruit lotion. And then it was discontinued. So, I wised up and stopped buying lotion from Bath & Body Works. But then I got hooked on their sugar scrub. As in hooked since the day it came out. (And incidentally, I have never been without this product since that first purchase. I have tried dozens of sugar/salt/citrus peel scrubs including the most over the top version from Natura Bisse. NONE is as great as B&BW Sugar Scrub.) But I got hooked on the grapefruit peppermint version. DAMN YOU Bath & Body Works...why do you discontinue this pioneer and fabulous product. Luckily I found other faves but one day I was buying my recent fave Black Currant Vanilla and a young girl working in the store told me they were discontinuing it soon. So I stocked up. To the tune of 10-15 tubs of it. Later to learn, no in fact, she was not correct. And now I have gobs of this tucked away under our bed because there is simply no room under the vanity.

But the point is this, its hard to get attached to a product and see it go by the wayside. This has happened to many products I love including Crest Weekly Clean toothpaste, my first favorite Aveda shampoo, and a cocoa powder I love to use for baking.

Oh, I get the thought track on why products are discontinued but to me, can I be the only one who loved it? Doubtful. And no one gave me the warning shot or I could have scads of Crest Weekly Clean under the bed with the sugar scrub. What we have here is a failure to communicate. Company, you need to let me in on your marketing strategy and plans to make me frown. I would have at least given you a little cash boost there at the end.

And one day my husband brough home Breakstone's Zesty Blend Sour Cream with Jalapeno. I don't like sour cream. And when I use it, I use fat-free. The quickest way to ensure JohnnyMac isn't participating in whatever has been prepared is to include anything fat-free. But I was out of fat-free and tried this new product. And I LOVED it. JMac laughed and said, "that is because it is not fat-free." But the jalapenos add the perfect spicy cartwheel to this amazing Mexican dish I had prepared.

So now I love the spicy sour cream. And use it in a variety of ways. Until literally, one month later I can no longer find it on the shelf. What is the meaning of this? Of course, you already know. Discontinued. How did I find out? I went to their website and found nothing. But Facebook had all the update I needed. Good thing you are super-savvy and hip Breakstones so I could read about why you aren't making this product anymore via your Facebook page.

When I exclaimed my discontent, my husband, always so logical, simply said, "Or you could just add sliced jalapeno to regular sour cream."

My response: Really??? No one likes a know-it-all.

I think companies should be kind enough to warn when products are going to hit the bricks. It would allow me to extend the life of some of my favorite products. Althought, I need to locate a better storage facility then under the bed.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Take A Bite Of: Iced and Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oh my friends...I have missed you. I have missed the blogosphere. And I have missed a normal schedule, seeing my child, and having a calm brain too. Work is going fantastic. But with that also comes an expression I have never applied to myself called "drinking from a firehose" that some of you know all too well. I am also traveling like mad and leave again Monday am for a week. And if that doesn't appropriately capture the schedule change let me sum it up: I haven't baked in two weeks.  BUT: JMac just boarded a plane to Las Vegas. MiniMac and I are hanging out for the weekend and I am bringing back one of my all-time favorite fall recipes. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy every bite.

Iced and Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients:
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 can (15 oz.) Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 12-oz. pkg. Chocolate Chips Cookies
Vanilla glaze recipe below.
 
 
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease baking sheets.

Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in pumpkin, eggs and vanilla extract.
Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Drizzle or spread with Vanilla Glaze.

FOR VANILLA GLAZE: Combine 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in small bowl; mix well.
 
Take these to your office or your favorite Halloween party. There won't be one left, I promise. 
Have an awesome weekend and I will be back next week.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What Whitney said...(Crack is wack...)

How is the new job? Can you tell bc I haven't posted since Saturday! More to come on that my friends, more to come.

However, let me share a treasure I stumbled upon last night.

We went out to dinner and make  quick stop following to pick up a few things for a dinner party we are hosting this weekend. We go to our favorite grocery near our neighborhood. In favorite grocery are some rascals. I can honestly say I have never seen rascals in the store, so yes, first time for everything. As I am perusing objects, a rascal says, "Looking good in them tight jeans..." I don't look, acknowledge or respond. After all, I am not assumptive. However, it is 10 pm and I am in some new fabulous skinny (and tight) jeans. It wasn't what he said, it was how he said it. Kind of like Andrew Dice Clay. Or Li'l John. So I pick up my item and skedaddle. But before I do, I catch his eyes. And those things are about to POP OUT. And I think they are twitching.

As I walk away, he said in a terse voice, "Oh, you don't like my flattery?" Althought it sounded more like "fla-ta-tree".

Actually, no. I don't like your fla-ta-tree. Why? 1. Because drug-induced compliments aren't my favorite kind. 2. I am pretty sure I saw you earlier trying to mash on a box of cornflakes.

Humor...it is everywhere.

Have a fantastic and drug-induced-compliment-free weekend.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Take A Bite Of: JennyMac's Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

I know you love a little decadence here and there. A little chocolate, thich and rich decadence. Well, let me fill that void for you. I have whipped up a concoction in my kitchen for my good friend KM's birthday.

I have been making homemade Peanut Butter cups.

And my all-time favorite brownie recipe is my Sea Salt Caramel Brownies.

So what if after a hedonistic little courtship, those two got together and made a baby?

Do you know how amazing that baby would taste? Well, in the words of my friend KM, they are 'AHHH MAZING."

and I believe her.

So if case you need a pick-me-up today, need something for the neighborhood Halloween bash coming up, or you just want to plump up for winter, let me give you what I have been working on. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy every bite.

JennyMac's Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Start with the base brownie batter recipe from the link above. Before you bake:

Mix 1 cup of peanut butter (your choice.) I have used creamy and delicious like my favorite Skippy Natural and I have also used Smucker's Natural which should be called Peanut Flavored Cement.  And actually, either will work.)

Add 2 T of room temp butter
1 pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
Start with half  a cup of powdered sugar.
*1/4 cup of graham cracker crumbs (optional and it is delicious with or without.)

Blend. You can gradually add powdered sugar until you have a firm but soft texture and it starts to form a ball. Break off 1/2 tsp size pieces and scatter throughout the top of the batter. I also took a fork and drizzled batter over each piece of peanut butter filling. Bake as the recipe indicates. 


Pull out of oven. Realize you do not have any interest in sharing with too many people. Why? Because this is how they look: 







And guess what? You can totally cheat and buy boxed brownie mix and do the same thing. My favorite boxed brownie mix: Pillsbury Milk Chocolate. 

Now, we are off to the pumpkin patch with MiniMac for a gorgeous family weekend where we can enjoy the weather, his enthusiasm, and the company of good friends. Enjoy your weekend.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Laughing my arse off....

I don't participate in a lot of email forwards. My favorite kind have FW: fw: fw: FW: FWD in the subject line and get the automatic delete key. I don't think Bill Gates is going to give me a free iPad, that some "President" of a country I have never heard of is going to wire me gobs of cash, and I dont necessarily need to know "who is checking your facebook profile!!!"

And despite my Father's many, many attempts, I don't actually believe Barack is bad man with a fake birth certificate.

But once in awhile, I get an email forward I do read and enjoy.  Today is that day. I can't cut and paste to save you all a step but this post comes from Craigslist in Seattle.  Of course I like it, it generated from my hometown! In the event you need a laugh, I will just say that the title of my post is no exaggeration.

Also known as a shareworthy must -read....Enjoy

Friday, September 30, 2011

Not very ladylike...

Who doesn't love a great cocktail? Well, a few people I am sure but years ago I was introduced to a fancy white elixir...the White Chocolate Martini. This temptress, so perfect and chic, is also what I like to call "Devil in Disguise." I have a little story about it...like to hear it? Here it goes:

One night out at a fancy fete, I am offered this white chocolate martini option. I resist because, unlike Willie Wonka, I am not down with the candy factory and that doesn't sound like a cocktail as much as it sounds like some kind of milkshake served at Chili's. But I am assured it is fantastic. I reluctantly take one sip.

BOOM. BOOM. POW.

It is fantastic. I enjoyed one or two and soon realize I need not be limited to where I can have this delicious concoction so I ask the bartender what is in it. In the weeks to come, I fetch the ingredients and proceed to make them to the delight of many a guest at parties at my home.

So one night, while fraternizing with a male guest at my home. I proceed to make these for him. Things to keep in mind 1. he is a man and not likely interested in smarmy choco drink. 2. Might want to test drive that martini shaker you just bought.

So let's assume I failed on both accounts. What happens next is I show off shaking my martini shaker full of girl drink. So I shake it to the left, I shake it to the right, I shake that little martini with all of my might. Martini shaker I did NOT test drive. Martini shaker that was on sale for a reason. Martini lid is not being securely held by me because I am more focused on 1. showing off and 2. playing coquettish Flirty McSwagger.

In mid strong arm shaking, lid flies off like a missile to my right. Followed by a clear trajectory of contents of martini shaker that are intercepted by my male friend and his crisp button-down shirt. Not a drop or two mind of you. But the entire contents of martini shaker.

Mission to be stunning and foxy and worldly? Try again. Survey says: Not very ladylike...AND that's what you get for showing off.

Fast forward a year. I  am dating a fun, fantastic, hilarious cat nicknamed Milkman. Milkman has a very cool brother who has a very cool girlfriend. We convene one night for dinner at said brother's home and I proffer up the delicious martini I know to be a hit among at least one other attendee (the girl.)

The drawback of a martini that basically includes white chocolate liqueur and vodka is that is it DELICIOUS. Like a sultry little balm for that terribly busy day. So we make martinis. And more martinis. Oh, might want to eat a little something. Oh, no? Just thirsty? Well, slow down Missy. But that doesn't happen. At one point, I aim to set my drink down on the table and somehow miss it completely. I say I aimed to do it because the table was quite large. But I blame the table since it was made of glass and was really more like an optical illusion. MY WORD that made a mess. So we clean it up. And because we have all enjoyed several cocktails, it seems very hilarious. Even though clearly, milky drink poured in carpet is about as funny as a hair barbeque.

Later, I feel rest is necessary. I decided to slink away and find a resting spot. Hmmm. Where should I go. I scuttle around and find the perfect spot. Perfect at the time. Later, Milkman clearly has to send out a search party because NO ONE thought I would be comfortably and quietly laying down in the loo. Guess what? I had foresight. I was going to need to be in that location. It was only a matter of time. I declined the invitation to leave this area. In fact, I encouraged Milkman to exit. STAT. I will skip the next part of the story but lets say I was 1. over-served. 2. Probably just had food poisoning.

Now, I straighten up. I fly right. I rejoin the cast and crew downstairs. I am fine. Well, fine-ish. I think. I am sure I was fine.

However, the next morning. Milkman's brother comes downstairs and asks a simple and innocuous question:

Why is my toothbrush wet.

No one has an answer. He asks again, clearly because he is smart: WHY IS MY TOOTHBRUSH WET?

Through a hazy film of cotton, I climb out of the bag of hammers known as my mental state and I recall very clearly. Uh oh. I think I know the answer. I carefully weigh keeping quiet vs. speaking up which is only going to make my head hurt more.

Me: I used it.
Him, his girlfriend, Milkman: WHAT?
Me: Don't worry. I didn't brush my teeth with it.
Him: Oh for ____ sake. What did you do with it?
Me: Long pause. Not for dramatics, Meryl Streep, but because I am trying to recollect.
I used the handle.
Him: FOR WHAT?
Me: To make myself throw up.
Him: Holding toothbrush by handle, immediately drops toothbrush on floor and kicks it away.
Milkman: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Thankfully someone laughed. I didn't have the strength to join in.

Mission: to be cool, fun, chic and a great addition to the party not to mention an awesome girlfriend: TRY AGAIN. Survey says: NOT very ladylike.

And in the event you don't need a spritz of Lysol to erase that imagery from your mind: The White Chocolate Martini (I am sure) is still delicious to many people:

Pour 2 shots of vodka
2 shots of Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur
over ice in a martini shaker. SECURE the lid!!! In the words of OutKast: Shake it like a Polaroid picture.

Pour thin swirl of chocolate syrup in martini glass, pour contents of shaker. Sip like a lady (or gentleman). Do not get over-served. Do not drop on carpet. Do not borrow toothbrushes without asking.

And have a gorgeous weekend.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cover to cover


I have been an avid reader my entire life. I remember lugging my Richard Scarry Encyclopedia to my Father one day and asking him to read to me. He told me I could read it myself but he would help. And with his tutelage, I was able to sort my way through hippopotamus, kitchen, and school bus. I had just turned four. (And hippopotamus was tough. Thanks Dad. Call it his motivation or perhaps he had reached his saturation point of reading that same book for the 1,000,000 time.)

And my interest in books has maintained from the days of Dr. Seuss to my red leather bound Kindle that I tote with my everywhere. I was initially resistant to an electronic version versus old school, but my crush has turned to love.

I appreciate great authors who can create a vivid picture. The first time I read Love in the Time of Cholera, I remember a single passage and a sentence that resonated with me to the point I remember it to this day, and exactly where I was sitting when I read it.

And I love authors who can make me laugh out loud. Witty, sardonic, clever, sarcastic: I want more.

And I will read everything from Ekhart Tolle to Julie Powell.

And I remember the first time I read Bridges of Madison County. Call it smarmy, but that book hit me right in the heart at a very wrong time. I was young, and in love. In love the way 19-year-olds do love, all encompassing and powerful. But I was aware that a slow motion process had begun that would derail us. And while I was not experienced enough to fix it, I was naive enough to think I could.  And at that time, moving backwards would have been the only way to keep our situation from ultimate fragmentation. And then I read that book, also about all encompassing love, in one afternoon sitting on the front porch swing of his his parents' home. Closing it, I admit I was resistant to accept the changes coming in my life, but was hopeful in that sweet, young girl way that love could exist like the hundred pages I just read.

Books are a tool, a reference, a light, or a tiny portal into the life of other people.  I love it that a book can leave you inspired or infuriated, elated or exhausted. And I remember reading  Justin Halpern's hit, Sh*t My Dad Says and will tell you now, I laughed uproariously throughout most of that book. To the point I was choking at certain passages. And then wanted to read those passages to my husband. And then laughed so hard again rereading them, he had to patiently wait. And guess who doesn't like being read to? JMac...Especially when you are not reading but really guffawing and snorting.

And I read A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. The cruelty and violence he was subjected to and the tenacity he had to employ to save his own life was chilling and inspirational.

The era of the electronic book reader came and I thought I would be reluctant to embrace it. I am very fond of the turning of pages and books stacked up on shelves. But I got the Kindle from JMac and loved it. Which was then advanced to the Kindle app on the iPad which I also love. And as much as I appreciate the advance of technology, oh, I do still love a book requiring you to actually turn pages.

Can a book change a life? I don't know. But I do think they can change perspective, insight and maybe even change cynicism.

And now as my little son is plowing his way through books (My favorite 4 year old is now reading 1st grade level books! I will spare you the video but believe me, every one related to us by blood has seen it. ) He wants to have his turn every night to read to us and I hope his interest never wanes. I am grateful my parents lead by example when I was a kid (and forced me to do it myself...thanks again Dad.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

What it feels like to be a rickety old man.... (and just in time for the weekend: MAGIC!)

So years ago while I was actively playing co-ed adult soccer, I suffered a few scrapes and bruises. Let me assure you when co-ed adult sports include the words "no contact" they are misleading you. I started playing soccer as a wee lass but I promise you, the one co-ed adult soccer game my Mom came and watched did NOT remind her of the angelic days of yore. During one game, I suffered an injury to my foot. That I basically ignored. For years. This is relevant. Why? Because that injury was the start of a strained relationship. Let me explain.

My left foot started bothering me a great deal two years ago. I finally to to my Doctor, Doctor M., and he sends me in for x-rays. On verdict day, I am pretty sure it is a hairline fracture at worst.

Wrong. He tells me I have arthritis. I laugh for two reasons. 1. I love Dr. M, he is fantastic, brilliant and witty. And 2. because I think he jokingly told me I have arthritis.

Me: HAHAHAHA. Are you reading your grandpa's chart again, Dr. M?
Dr. M: HAHAHAHA. No. You have arthritis in your left foot.

And then an odd feeling sank in. Oh my, this is what it feels like to be a rickety old man? Uh oh.

I go on to ask how this could happen, since, well, I am not Archie Bunker or any other old man. He explains several causes. He then asks a key question.

Dr. M: Do you wear high heels?
Me: (Thankful my jacket on chair is covering today's shoe choice) Sometimes.
Dr. M: Can you give a fuller description of "sometimes"
Me: Not when I am sleeping.

He advised the drawbacks of constant high heel wearing. Ok. It is a bit like someone telling you the risks of eating chocolate chip cookie dough. You know there are drawbacks, but that isn't likely to stop you. I have since learned that wearing the wrong running shoes can also cause arthritis. HAHA Damn RUNNING SHOES! Good to know now after I racked up over 700 miles on them last year.

So I actually went to the pharmacy. So I googled how to treat arthritis naturally. Apply Eucalyptus oil to the joints! Awesome. Except it doesnt really work. Take herbs. Ok but can you speed up the healing? So finally, I bought arthritis relief over the counter medicine. Not wear high heels? Ok, I will try that. One day. And I am sure the pharmacist thoughtit was for my grandpa. You should have to be at least 90 before inflicted with arthritis but no one told my foot.


BUT: Then I learned a touch of magic. A friend from high school, a lovely and talented wordsmith named Nico, posted this gem one day. I thought I would watch it. Could this be true?






I too have Louboutins. Yes I bought the right size but feet can fluctuate so while they feel fine most of the time, there is still a time or two when while wearing them I certainly didn't feel like I was dancing on pillows. So I tried. this. AND IT WORKS. So I tried it with two pairs of my fabulous croc platforms. DELICOUS. And just in time for the weekend. So pull out your favorite peep toes that pinch and give them a little icy spa treatment. I did try it with close toed shoes as well but let me suggest if you try this: Don't be in a hurry. They are sandwich bags after all and not made of titanium. One shoe full of water? Check. But quickly remedied.

And by the way friends of mine who love beauty tips and tricks, Michelle Phan has a litany of other fabulous YouTube posts and viewership in the millions.

But if high heel shoe therapy just isn't your bag, well, pass it along to one of your gal pals. They will thank you for it.

Have a gorgeous weekend friends.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

RIP Slinky Dog

Grandma V. buys MiniMac a Slinky Dog toy from the Toy Story movie trilogy. He loves it. He decides to take it to school one recent Friday for "show and share" time. There are two versions of this story: The short version and the slightly longer version.

Short version: RIP Slinky Dog.

Slightly Longer Version: This is how it all went down. MiniMac is in a mixed age class at his private school. Last year he was the youngest (and really, the actual youngest child) and now he is in PreK and "graduating" to Kindergarten in June. I was asked my his teacher last year to be the room Mom this year. (More on that to come.) I agree against sage advice from other Moms I know, older wise parents and of course, you know JohnnyMac rolled his eyes and shot that down stat. BUT, I wanted to do it. This gave me the benefit of some insight from the teachers about the kids in the class. The insight was 97% positive on all the incoming kiddos. Except this one: BratBrat. BratBrat is considered by most of the teachers to be "the worst behaved child in school." REALLY? So having him transition in our class is like winning the Lottery. Or the opposite. And after interacting with this child for small increments of time, I would rather listen to 24 hours of Justin Beiber. And that is just hurtful.

So Slinky Dog goes to school. I pick up MiniMac later that day. Ooops. SlinkyDog has a kink in him. MM's teacher had to put Slinky away and "hopes we can fix him." I see Slinky and because his middle portion is an actual Slinky, somehow one coil is completely reversed. I ask MM what happened and he explained, "I was letting BratBrat play with him (no my son does NOT actually know or employ this nickname) and BratBrat broke him." I immediately set about to fix Slinky. Guess what? It is no easy feat. Did BratBrat go to MIT? How in the hell did BratBrat get the very center coil reversed??? So I set about to engineer a total reverse. BOO. Wrong plan. That doesn't work either. Guess what I don't want to do at the end of a hectic day:

1. Listen to Justin Beiber
2. Unravel a SlinkyDog

But I commit to the second thing. I literally sit in the car for ten minutes straight trying to McGyver my way to a balanced Slinky Dog. NO SUCH LUCK. During this process, I explain to MM that NO in fact you do not have to share your toys with every single person in your class. If people do not treat your toys respectfully, you have the right to say NO THANK YOU when they ask next time.

Finally, I pull into the gas station to fuel up and not completely waste all of my time. While I am standing outside, bending and prying this toy as my son looks on, I pull Slinky far apart and remedy is close at hand. And what? Whooooops. Slinky Dog's tiny string inside breaks in half and he basically flies apart and is now about two feet long. Guess what happens next?

A. I dust my hands of it and explain to MM that Slinky is beyond repair.
B. MiniMac sees this happen and bursts into tears all the while wailing loudly with his car window down "YOU HURT SLINKY! YOU BROKE HIM AND NOW I THINK HE IS RUINED."

Option B my friends. Option B took place much to the delight of about 10 other patrons at this very busy gas station.

I try to explain that in my effort to fix the previous inflicted damage, yes, in fact Slinky is now broken and needs to be thrown out.

Thrown out? Just like the mean kids did to their broken-hearted toys in Toy Story I, II and III? Uh oh. WRONG choice of words.  I finally calm MM down (even though I am super irritated with BratBrat the source of this shenanigan) but I finally calm MM down with my soothing voice and logic.

We arrive home with ruptured Slinky Dog in town. As soon as MM opens the door and sees Daddy, he says, "Mommy hurt Slinky Dog." All that soothing logic straight out the window.

Good friends of ours came over that night and saw Slinky on top of the garbage cans (NOT to be thrown out mind you but properly "buried" later. KR asked JMac what happened to Slinky. JMac replied, "Two words: BratBrat." KR smiled and KNOWINGLY laughed because he knows all about BratBrat.  Ironically, these two men have this philosophy: Don't take it to school if you care if it gets broken. Really gentlemen? Yes really.  But for now, we will just marry my philosophy with that idea. Sort of. The good news, BratBrat was bothering MiniMac last Friday to which MiniMac replied "GET OUT OF MY FACE." No, I didn't teach him that.  In fact, I don't know where he learned it. Perhaps he is secretly watching the Sopranos.

RIP Slinky Dog. And once MiniMac explained his sad story (which I have asked him to leave my name out of ) his Grandma V has already replaced Slinky 1 with Slinky 2. NICE work. That toy is NEVER going to school again.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Take A Bite Of: Steak Involtini


I am back after four, count 'em FOUR back-to-back trips. All of them great in their individual way. But whew...what a tour. And I have some fun stories from Fashion Week. (Had the BEST time with you MarciaGarcia!) But I will admit, sleeping in my own bed two nights out of 17 days? That takes some adjusting. What did I miss? Well, my family of course. BUT also, my kitchen. I have MUCH to catch up on but planned an impromptu dinner party for tonight. Of course! Let's keep the fun train on schedule. (And I will back to multiple posts per week next week.)

And while I am not a big fan of red meat, JohnnyMac is as well as every other person in my entire family and his. Since I love to cook and everyone loves to eat steak, here is a twist on the normal grilling method my Hub prefers from my favorite Italian culinary maven, Giadi. And this version, he fully endorses. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy every bite.

Steak Involtini  
Ingredients 
Breading:
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Filling:

  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (8-ounce) London broil steaks, trimmed and pounded 1/8-inch thick
  • 1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • Special equipment: 4 (4-inch) skewers
Directions


For the breading: In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Set aside.


For the filling: In a large bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of Parmesan, mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup olive oil, basil, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cut the steaks in half crosswise and place on a work surface. Spread the mixture evenly over the steaks. Roll up the steaks and secure with skewers.


In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil over medium heat. Roll the steaks in the bread crumb mixture until coated and add to the skillet. Cook the steaks until brown on all sides, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the marinara sauce to the pan. Bring the sauce to a simmer and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer, turning occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes for medium-well.


Remove the skewers, place the steaks on a cutting board and slice thinly. Arrange the steak slices on plates and serve with the marinara sauce. YUM. And this is a great option for the plethora of you who will be watching football this fall (either by your own election or by the sports nut in your house.) Have a fantastic weekend!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Oo la la....couture

Hello All! I have missed the blogosphere last week. I dont think I have ever had a week long break! But I left Orlando and flew straight out for a work trip. Wrapping up last night with a tasty sip of Hoegaarden at the airport. (Thank you one single aiport bar in the US that carries some hops/barley concoction that is NOT Miller Lite, Bud Light, Coors Light.  I appreciate it. )

But this am, I turn my sights on play land for grown up girls.....NYC Fall Fashion Week 2011. 

Wait, two times in one year? OUI! Thanks to JMac in a big, big way. My BFF MarciaGarcia is meeting me at the airport in mere hours as we enlight onto NYC for some Oooooo la la couture for the next four days.

I had a long week but I. LOVE.my.new.job. It is going to be an arse-kicker but I think it is going to be worth it.

So enjoy your fabulous selves and I will be back with post-event updates very soon. In fact, when I return I will have been traveling non-stop since August 29. Break and vino in my own house are coming soon.

And God Bless America. Barack Obama will be in NYC for the 10 year anniversary of a crushing moment in our nation's history but also one that demonstrated the power of community and patriotism in a way I have never seen before.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Soarin'

What a week. Loved it. And in addition to a full week of learning, meeting great new people, I was also refreshed on not only how sitting on a tarmac for 1 hour = unpleasant use of time (and by the way, don't blame the airline you are on people, its called the Air Traffic Control Center and its the airport calling the shots.) but I was also refreshed in the hilarity that goes along with the airport bars. More to come on that later. For now, we are celebrating not only our wedding anniversary (Sept 1) but also, we packed up our family and laid a big suprise on our 4 year old last night in the form of a trip to see him:

Yes. Next four days in DisneyWorld. My surprise is JMac booked up in an unbelievable resort. Mamalita likes very much. Oh, and I have a new favorite cocktail. Its called the Moscow Mule and I was introduced to it one night in Seattle out with my brother. Vodka, Rose's lime juice and ginger beer. Sip sip sip = delicious. So I had one last night. Now I am not saying you need a little nip at Disney but, well, you need a little sip at Disney.

I am traveling all week next week too in the new gig so I am enjoying every minute of this weekend before hard work gets under way. Oh, and first stop? Not Magic Kingdom. We are heading to Epcot shortly so we can go on MiniMac's I mean my favorite ride: Soarin'. (It will soon be his favorite too.)

Have a gorgeous long weekend if you are celebrating Labor Day.

Cheers.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Good morning America, how are you?

WOW....I knew another girl named Irene and she was mean too. So glad to hear many of our friends in the NE are ok but hope you have your mops out. And I can't imagine my home being destroyed so my heart goes out to those most negatively impacted.

I am flying to Philly today. Or I am going to the airport with all intentions and hopes to fly to Philly today. My new job is going well and guess what? I wanted something new? Exciting? Busy? Check. Check. And check. I will be traveling for approximately the next 2.5 weeks. MiniMac is going to be very sad. JMac is likely kicking his heels that he will have peace, quiet and the remote to hog entirely to himself (let's not kid. I don't even get to touch the remote. From now until SuperBowl when there is so much pre-season football analysis on? All I can say is thankfully, I don't watch much television. And double thank you that MasterChef and Next Foodnetwork Star have already wrapped.

Enjoy your week. I will be back before the week is over but comments are off today.