Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Letter to Mom on Mother's Day

The Headlines:

Mother's Day is coming up.

Send her a card with your own sweet, kind, loving words.


Or... send her this one!




The other day my 4 year old son pulled me in close with both hands on my face and said this to me:  "You're my best mommy... I would not have you if I was not born..."

Yes, perfect words, from my less than perfect child but they came from him and that's all I ever need.  Words.  Words... from the heart.  Sadly, it's hard for many of us to do - tell people how we feel. Yet, it's so very important.

So consider writing a letter to your Mom this Mother's Day... or borrow mine.



Dear Mom,

Sorry I never really appreciated you growing up.

When I was young I just thought it was your job to do these things:
buy me food
make me food
tuck me in
drive me places
find me things to do
buy me toys
tickle my back when I went to bed
read to me
hold me when I cried
sing to me
buy me clothes
bake me treats
stick up for me when that kid whacked me
help me with my homework
counsel me
plan my parties
love me
find educational shows for me to watch
put band aids on
take me to the beach
clean up my messes
bring me home prizes
give me medicine
change my diapers
pick my school
discipline me
pay for my school (pre-school or daycare)
put together birthday parties
take me to the doctor
teach me how to swim
teach me how to walk
hold my hand
take me to the park
make big holiday dinners
put me in classes
sign me up for sports
watch me in the parking lots
hug me
visit Santa
be a room mom
send me to camp
kiss my boo-boos
get me water
watch me around water
take me to dinner
take me for ice cream
buy me a bike
have family get togethers
take pictures of me
develop pictures of me
buy my school pictures
paint my room pink (or blue or red or purple)
help me write my name
take me to 999 birthday parties
show me what's right and what's wrong
and
wipe my behind.

Now, as a Mom myself, I find out it wasn't really your job at all... it was a choice you made.  For me. You could have remained selfish but instead you became self-less.

So thanks for taking off your high heels and putting on your flip-flops... when my bare feet had no idea.

Love,
Nicole

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

5 Reasons to Stay at Home When Kids Get Older VS. When They're Babies.

The Headlines:


A child will always need their Mom.


But if you had to choose - when would you stay at home?

Right away or a few years later?

Here's why maybe it should be later than you'd think...



**In honor of the Mother's Day coming up I'm going to do a series of "Mom-centered" stories this week and next.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I like writing them!




I've heard so many Moms say, "I'll go back to work when the kids are all in school full time..." but is that the best idea?


When I was a young girl, lots of my friends Moms, worked.  So, they were always surprised to come my house after school and see my Mom - there.  And while I yearned to have my Mom in those high powered suits and heels, they yearned to sit down on their own couch and have a conversation... with their Mom.

Isn't it ironic?

Childbirth.  It's a lot.  Your body goes to the brink and back.  Those babies are big... coming out of a small hole... it hurts.  It tears you up.  Literally.  Not to get too graphic but most of us have to get stitches after the whole ordeal.  I did.  You too, huh?  I knew child birth was going to be hard on that day... I'd seen all those movies and TV shows with those screaming, reckless, psycho ladies trying to get their children out.  It didn't scare me... it prepared me.

But what no one really prepares you for is what happens after...  yea, no one talks about the day you go home and there's no more nurse or drugs or cafeteria.  It's just you trying to figure out everything - but - you can't even walk.  I was unable to walk like a normal person, I'd say for about 2 weeks.  Going to the bathroom?  That was only the scariest thing ever.   Worse than anything, because you feel like your insides are literally going to fall into the toilet.  And breastfeeding.  It takes over your life.  You feed that new little bundle what, like, 10 times a day?  As soon as you're done, they go to to the bathroom, you change them... then play for a bit and they sleep (if you're lucky) for a few minutes.

It's right about now you Thank God for maternity leave but, for most of us, it's only 3 months.  At the end of that time you look at that little bundle and think... I can't hand my baby over to someone else to care for him/her, they're too tiny.  NO WAY.

But I did.

Here's why:



1 - Babies lives are simple
When your baby is little, they obviously need someone to love and care for them.  But that someone can be you... or it can be someone else.  If you have to go to work, they will miss you but they're really not going to know the difference (arguably) too much.  Not yet, anyways.

My daughter was perfectly content with her caretaker but as she got older, I saw the growing need for me to stay home for both of our sakes.  I decided by the time she entered kindergarten - staying home with her would be a huge priority.  Certainly much more important than my job.

2 - New Moms need a break  
Your life, when you head home from the hospital is completely rocked for the first several months.  The days go by in one giant blur... sure you're happy but you're overwhelmed, exhausted and confused too. When I went back to my job after 3 months leave... honestly... it was much more relaxing than the constant craziness that is new motherhood.  It also gave me time to run errands, get a pedicure, do my old "normal" things... which was very needed since life had changed so drastically.  My job helped almost ease me into motherhood which, inadvertently, became a small blessing.

3 - Experience the "Working Mom" side
When I became a Mom, I knew I had to try the high heeled working Mom thing.  It was everything I thought I wanted to be so many years ago.  Since my Mom never worked after I was born, it was important for me to prove that I could.  For some reason, I really wanted to know what it was like... so someone watched my daughter as I reported on the morning show at an NBC affiliate in Phoenix, AZ.  While it was "easier" and more relaxing in the beginning... it became more difficult as time went by.  The balance was tough, I got sick constantly, the schedule was a pain, I wanted holidays off, I yearned to be there for my daughter, home and husband while I was at work.  Today,  I sit knowing what the "other side" is like... and I appreciate the view from here even more.  If I would have quit right away, I would never have known.  I would have taken "staying at home" for granted, maybe even resented it a bit.  Now, everyday I'm here feels like a blessing.   When I have a tough day - I imagine it on top of a job and I exhale... for this day wasn't so bad after all!

I know... because I did both.

4 - A Child's life is complicated
As kids get older and start school (kindergarten or 1st grade)... there's just more to handle.  Between homework, extracurriculars, dinners, driving from here to there, friends and emotions... it's the roller coaster that is life.   They need someone on top of all of that or they can quickly and easily self destruct.  It's a very ripe time.  I know it seems backwards but I swear kids need their Moms attention more as they grow, it doesn't diminish, quite the opposite, it gets stronger than ever.

5 - Teens will never admit it - but they do NEED you
Junior High/High School is a rough time for almost every person.  There are serious issues that need to be talked about and sorted through... teens won't wait for you to get home... they will talk when they want.  If you're not there, the moment is lost... the opportunity is gone.  You go to work and they'll say "cool" but silently inside what they may think is... do I matter?  Your presence assures them that they do.  If you're not there when they need you... everyone loses.

Pause.

I'm not a psychologist, I'm just a regular Mom like you.  And I do know everyone has a different situation, I know there's no magic formula and no "right" answers in motherhood.  I am fully aware some women have to work for money, that some don't have choices and I AM AWARE THAT A CHILD NEEDS THEIR MOM DURING EVERY STAGE OF THEIR LIFE.  I would never say differently.  But what I am saying is: if you have to choose... CONSIDER working when they're babies and staying home later.

In the end, do what's right for you... but know parenting hardly stops when school starts... it just gets harder and the stakes are way higher.

I got it!!!  We can all go back to work when they're in college.  You'll have scads of time then... and the only thing they'll need from you at that point... is cash.

It's such a personal decision but what do you think?  Stay at home earlier, later, never or always?




Thursday, April 23, 2015

5 TV Shows Little Girls Should Watch

The Headlines:

Good programming for little girls is hard to find. 

But not impossible.




This week it was announced Full House would be brought back from the dead.  One if it's stars, John Stamos, "leaked" it on Jimmy Kimmel.  Now called "Fuller House," it will air on Netflix starting next year.  When my daughter heard the news she screamed, "yes!"

Weird?  Yep, do the math.  She's 8 years old.  Full House aired back in the early 90's... but she's a big fan of the show... because I let her watch it.  In fact, so does my 4 year old little boy and he loves it too.

It all started back in 2nd grade.  She was getting older and Dora, Wild Kratts, Super Why and Word Girl were no longer cutting it.  But I looked, very briefly, (I won't claim to be an expert) at the programming today on most channels (including Disney) and I wasn't impressed.  The shows were filled with attitude and boys.  She's growing up fast enough... I don't want to push her into growing any faster.  So I talked to a friend and she suggested The Brady Bunch.  Bingo I thought.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't want my child to live in a cave but I do want to protect her and keep her young while she's, well, young.  Some things we can't control... television, we can.


When girls watch TV shows they are, undoubtedly, influenced.  They see someone being mean on the Disney Channel and that's behavior they'll model.  They see Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie working hard, making friends and staying humble and that too is behavior they'll model. Everything they see, especially at this age, matters.  So here are the 5 shows we let my little girl watch:

Little House on the Prairie



This is by far my favorite television show of all time!  When I watched this as a child, I swear I learned how to be a better human being because of Laura Ingalls.  She's a strong girl who has self motivation, will, pride, family values and a work ethic second to none.  It teaches compassion (which I think kids could stand to learn more about these days).  Laura and her family can influence little girls the right way.  The only problem with it... my daughter tends to get a little bored.  It IS a slow moving show.  Especially with how fast television is today.  Girls need to be at least 8 years old for it to keep their attention.  But keep trying... it's worth it.

The Brady Bunch 
Yes really.  This is just a sweet, little show that has small lessons in-bedded in each episode.  It's from a time when life was less complicated, girls were less sassy and everyone was more respectful of each other.  Plus, Marsha is still as cool as ever.  Even though it was filmed back in the 1970's... my daughter wears Marsha's pony tails with pride here in 2015.

Full House
This started because my daughter felt the need to bring her viewing a little closer to the millennium.  She looks up to the girl stars of the show who get into trouble but not too much.  It's a fairly decent "coming of age" sit-com without going overboard in any direction.  Plus, now that it's coming back... it will get bigger than ever!

The Partridge Family/Bewitched/I Dream of Jeannie 
All of these are mostly from the same era.  The Partridge Family is a single mom with a big family who loves each other.  Add in singing and it's a magical combination.  Enough said.  Bewitched & I dream of Jeannie are both just good, fun shows starring women.  Maybe not fully liberated working women like today... but "powerful" in their own way.

The Voice 
There's a lot to be said for NBC's hit show.  Especially when it comes to children.  Besides confidence, going for your dreams and good entertainment value... it shows that if you work hard and perservere anything is possible.  The way the stories of triumph are told is golden.  It can give a little girl hope in today's sometimes daunting and depressing world.  And the best part is that it's current and not re-run city.


"Re-runs..."which is clearly the main point in all of this... almost all of my television picks are from yester-year.  The greater question is why?  Television does offer good programming for toddlers and little ones but it's that in between age, starting around 7 and going through junior high that I question.  I know, many kids today just go to You Tube, but I still maintain there really is a need for that "in between" programming on TV.  Television is not dead.  No matter how much the internet tries to convince us it is...

Yep as so many of us say - my daughter might be 8 going on 28 - but I'm going to try and keep her own age as long as I can... now if I could only find that remote!

Hey, do you have any suggestions to add to the list?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

10 Tips for A DIY Dream Closet

The Headlines:


I did a Closet Make-over. 

Here's how you can too!









Like many women, I've always wanted a nice closet.  All I used to do, before having children, was shop after all.  Turns out it's a dream for a lot of us... and it's not that hard to do.  If you follow these easy, inexpensive tips.

Here was my closet before...


SO drab.  Carpet... super boring color... but it did have one thing going for it... it's pretty large.  Almost a 150 square feet.

First, we did the "remodeling" part: ripped up the carpet, put in hard wood floors, painted it white.  Then, little by little we did the rest.  It took a while... projects like this usually do with kids, jobs and real life!  Don't get discouraged - just get it done (in under a year)!
Here we go:


Tip 1   Make a Clothes Dumping Ground



This is my Number 1 tip to keeping your closet organized and therefore dreamy: you absolutely need a large basket and some hooks in that space.  Clothes need to get "dumped" somewhere.  I wear something for a half an hour and want to whip it off (but maybe wear it tomorrow or later that day) so I put it in this basket.  Looks way better than just throwing it on the floor.  DO it.  Today.  You'll be glad you did.

Tip 2   Find an Earring Cushion Board



This is the best idea ever because I can now see all my dangly earrings available to wear.  It's not a cork board but a "cushion" board so it accepts the earrings easily.  I bought this at my favorite place - Home Goods.  They have lots of them all of the time.  And looking at my dangly collection here, I think it's time to purchase more... that's pathetic!

Tip 3   Same Color Hangars 


This was huge.  Super inexpensive... 24 "Honey Can Do" Cherry Hangars for less than $20.... DONE.  I searched everywhere for a better price.  There isn't one... if there is, let me know! Click on the link below if you want to buy them...



Look back at the picture above, we also stained all of my closet rods to look better with the new floors and hangars.  It was INEXPENSIVE to do but did take some time.  Worth it though!

Tip 4   Get a Step Stool



MAKE USE OF ALL CLOSET SPACE... even the tall ledge above!  Get a step stool (this one's from IKEA - we painted it) so you can reach that area quickly - you'll be glad you did.

Tip 5   Hang a Cork Board



It helps organize you, no one can see it (it's on the back of my closet door) and it's just YOUR memories, YOUR tickets, YOUR pictures.

Tip 6   Create Space



Sorry, the natural light coming in from the top of the picture (and closet) made this picture hard to take.  So, even though we can always use the extra room for clothes... because my closet is fairly large... I was able to create my own little "space" for frames, another mirror, a chalk board above my earring cushion... just to personalize it and make it more my own.  It breaks up the space and makes it prettier and more user friendly.

Tip 7  Get Cool Boxes/Baskets
You need storage in a closet.  For stuff.  Who knows what's in those boxes... it doesn't matter but what does matter is: if that stuff doesn't have a place, it looks messy.  The above boxes make things in my closet look more organized.  The below baskets carry shoes.  Flip-flops in one... tennis shoes in another.  Shoes that don't have to be seen - go in there!  Also, those boxes and baskets weren't as good looking when I bought them... I spray painted them.  I did that in another blog post last year.  Read it HERE...  but it's pretty basic, the gist is: spray paint whatever you want.

Tip 8   Extra Seating

These next 2 tips may be a little "over the top" for most closets.  But if you can do it... go for it.


If you have the room... this is awesome.  It just makes your closet feel more luxurious.  I love the round button style of this ottoman and found this perfect fabric... see the "glitter" in it?



I "designed" (if you could call it that) it and had it made.  You could easily find one on-line or in a catalog but be prepared to pay a little more if it's round.  For my closet, it was worth it but it's a nice-to-have... not a need-to-have.

Tip 9   Extra Lighting



Again, not a need-to-have but I love the look of a chandelier in a closet.  It just classes up the place.  Plus, the extra lighting is a mood changer.  It can make even an apartment closet feel custom, if you know what I mean?  I found this chandelier on line for less than $200 and had an electrician install it... GORGE!

Tip 10  Have a Plan...


This is my last tip and as they say - I've saved the best for last.  When you do this, make some serious decisions including how you're going to organize your clothes.  Put things in places that make sense to you.  I hung and re-hung clothes a bunch because it made more sense elsewhere.  For instance, I used to have my suits straight across my closet when I entered that room - DUH - I never wear those anymore so I put those in the corner and hung maxi dresses there instead since I wear those all year long.

Then... think about the big closet picture.  Decide what you need, want... can do, afford... your colors and dreams.  Write it down.  Start a Pinterest board... have a road map.  This is going to be fun!

Now, if anyone could tell me what to do with all those purses thrown up in the cubbies I'd be golden!




***This post contains an affiliate link, which means if you buy hangars from Amazon I'll get a teensy tiny piece of the action at no extra cost to you.  Maybe then the husband can get his closet done too... NAAAAAAH! 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Are Angels Real?

The Headlines:


People love Angels.

The good news is they're real.

But they may NOT (technically) be what you think.





Every night, since my son was about 1 year old, I sing him a the chorus of a popular song as I take him to bed:

You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You never know dear how much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away
(which is where the song typically ends but on the last round I add...)
Don't you dare take my sunshine away...
Don't even think... about taking him away.

As I sing, it's as though someone's listening.  Like my audience is more than a party of one.  Almost as if I'm instructing the listener(s) to protect and serve my little guy.  It's not necessarily God... but maybe the Angels that surround him everyday.

Do YOU believe in Angels?

First, you should know I'm not a theologian, nor a pastor, preacher or priest.  I'm not a researcher of the heavens in any way and I'm far from angelic.  Oh, and I'm also not a wack-a-doodle Jesus freak of any kind, promise!  But I am a Christian.  I know a fair amount about the bible, my grandfather was a Lutheran Pastor, my Uncle a Lutheran College President and I attend church as much as I can fit into our incredibly busy schedule.  I recently attended a service where the topic was... Angels.  It was so interesting that I wanted to bring the information to you here.  You may or may not agree but if you believe in the Bible you kind of have to... this stuff is straight out of the big book.  I will also admit that I myself, being a religious person, was not fully aware of the true biblical perspective of an Angel.  Now I am.  This information is cited from scriptures and complied by Dr. A. L. Barry - President of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.

Now that you know that... let's proceed.  Have you ever seen an angel?  I, myself, have not.  But I've felt them.  I bet a lot of you have.  Sometimes it's during a near death experience.  Or a scary accident.  Others may feel them when they're laying with their child or maybe in church or during travel.  They can come during a time of despair or a time of pure joy.  It's funny.  Many of us believe in Angels but don't believe in the book that first brought them to us... the Bible.

So, what are Angels?
At their very core they are, essentially, the "liaison" between humans and God.  They are messengers of God.  In fact, their name is actually a description of what they do.


Angels came to be when everything was created (during the first 6 days), as written about in the first book of the Bible, Genesis

Angels are spirits.  
They are beings that don't have a body like you or me.  They're not people on earth (though some people are just so incredible they make us feel that way), they're not "Gods" or ghosts and they're not friends and loved ones who have died (so Grandma isn't one either).  That is made very clear in the Bible.

Angels are powerful. 
They're described as "mighty ones" (Ps. 103:20; 2 Thess 1:7).  Unfortunately, they can use their power for good or evil.  And while they have power, God didn't give Angels rule over his creation.  He gave that task to human beings (Gen 1:26-28).  In fact, it's quite the opposite.  They are here to serve us (and God).

There are evil angels and good angels. 
The Devil, being the most evil Angel of all.  He is the "prince of demons"  in fact as quoted in (Luke 11:15).  There is strong belief that pride made the good Angels turn bad.  Their work is simply to influence all thoughts and ideas opposite of God.  They fight for the dark and not the light.

The good Angels, however, try to serve and protect believers in their work and callings in life (Ps 91:11-12).  They tend to the dying (Luke 16:22), they're said to care for children (Matt. 18:10).  Believers are able to withstand the temptation of evil Angels through the power of their love for God.  Angels are there when you need them.  I'm pretty sure they've got me out of a lot of tight squeezes.  Perhaps you too, huh?

Angels are intelligent beings.
They have smarts and a will.  That's how they choose to fight for good or evil.  But Angels don't know everything.  According to scripture, they can't know the thoughts of our hearts (1 Kings 8:39).

There are ranks within Angels. 
All Angels are not the same.  There's what's considered "classes" within the Angels.  Scriptures speak of several, i.e.: "Cherubim" (Gen: 3:24) or "Archangels"  (1 Thess 4:16).

Angels can appear before you.
It doesn't happen often but they can live briefly in a physical dimension from time to time.  Think Gabriel.  It happened during biblical times - it can happen again.  Albeit, most people might think you're crazy if you say you saw one - but it is possible in your lifetime.   Just not probable.

There are MANY Angels - but it's a finite number.  
No specific number - but the Bible teaches there are incredibly large numbers of Angels who serve God.  "Ten thousand times ten thousand Angels"  it says specifically (Dan. 7:10).  But it also says the amount of Angels will never go up or down.  The number is fixed.  They are immortal and they do not have children or marry (Mark 12:25).

Good.  Then they can stay focused on us.  Let's be honest, we need all the help we can get!!


Whether you agree or not, I hope you found this interesting.  Since we, as a society, have talked so much and so long about Angels.  We all yearn to know more about them.  For lots of us, they're a mystical and magical topic.  We see them as characters in books, movies, tv shows.  Many of us have our own beliefs as to what Angels are and we all hope what we believe is true.  I believe Angels are what they're outlined as in the Bible (above)... but that assumption is fully based on faith.

I will not say I'm right and you're wrong because it's impossible to prove or disprove here.  But I do hope you now know, technically, what Angels are supposed to be and where the notion of them came from.  Take it or leave it but knowing it, for me, is a comfort, a joy and an honor all rolled into one.  I hope it is for you and your "Sunshines..." too.

What about you?  Do YOU believe in Angels?


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

5 Reasons Life's Easier When Dad's Gone

The Headlines:


If you're married with kids... you know this is true.

We all love and need Dad.

But SHHHHHH sometimes it's okay when he travels a bit.





I love BP (the husband/Dad in our home) very very much!  He's the back bone of our family... he's my rock... he's an incredible father and a thoughtful husband.  Everyday I'm glad I married him.  But I will say, when he travels for work or the occasional get away... it's okay.
I know it sounds horrible... and if you have babies you're thinking I'm crazy right now - I remember - you NEED the help then.  Dad traveling when you have small little guys is tough.  But once they grow up a couple years... well, when Dad's gone... life's just a little easier.

Here are 5 Reasons why:

#1
Dinner Schminner
You know what I'm talking about here ladies... Daddy's home and Mama's gotta cook! When the husband gets off work and rolls in through the garage you feel like a homemade spread must be prepared and ready to go.  After a long day of - whatever you're doing -  that's the last thing you have time for or want to do.  When Daddy's gone... you can heat up some turkey burgers, cut some carrots and "dinner is served!"

#2
Clean up Chaos
This is a big one for husbands.  I know they can't stand the mess.  They think: "what the heck have you been doing all day woman?  My office is clean!"

Well, here's my reasoning: with kids you just have a lot of STUFF EVERYWHERE!  There's playing to be done, clothes to be washed and messes to be cleaned up ALL THE TIME.  In fact, when someone gives us something I tell them it goes into the very large black hole in the center of our home because it's never to be seen again.  Where does all the stuff go?  I don't know.  But I do know it's somewhere in out house, right along with the MILLIONS of other things that seem to be all over our floor at any given time.  My daughter loves to make "mini houses" all over my very large house for herself, her barbies, her American Girl Dolls... it's sweet, creative and matronly but it DRIVES ME INSANE.

If I let her, I'd have "mini houses" (within my house) in my bedroom, her bedroom, the dining room, both living rooms and the playroom everyday of my life.  I really can not stand it but she loves it so much I let her have one "mini house" Friday-Sunday before it's clean up time.  Her Dad would like it and everything else cleaned up every single night before bed.  And that, is just not possible.  When he's not there - there is no clean up chaos... just the mess.

#3 Mama's in Control
What do they say about too many cooks in the kitchen?  Yea... that.  When Dad's gone there's one chef (and she's making turkey burgers)!  You get to call the shots when Dad is on the road.  Feel like inviting another Mom and her kids over for lunch and play?  DO it.  Want to let the kids watch an extra show so you can write a blog post?  GO for it.  Thinking about cranking up the music in the car and singing to the top of your lungs with the kids?  HAVE at it.  Because you're the final say... for a little while!  I just wish my kids liked my singing.  :(

#4 Turn on the Trashy Television
This one is true even if you don't publicly admit it.  There is a show(s) you like that your husband won't touch.  I have lots of them:  The Bachelor, Real Housewives of BH, OC and NJ... I even shamefully sometimes watch that horrible Vanderpump Rules.  I know, crazy.  But when the husband's gone no one makes me feel bad about it.  I just turn on the tv and stare.  It's a guilty pleasure that I no longer have to feel guilty about because no one knows I;m doing it - WHEN DAD IS GONE!

#5 Absence Makes the Daddy/Husband Grow Fonder
It is true - you know?  That other saying: absence makes the heart grow fonder.  When a husband/dad gets back - he's excited to see you and the kids.  He WANTS to be with you guys.  He'll spend the time to talk with you and get caught up.  There's lot of updates and newsflashes, maybe a gift or two and you realize everything I wrote about above was good but in the end, he's better.... way, way better.

Until it's dinner time.






Thursday, April 9, 2015

Cheers to Spring - Lemon Basil Martini

The Headlines:

Celebrate Spring with a cocktail.

Try this Lemon Martini.






It's a fun time of year... Spring.  The birds are singing, the sun is shining, everyone feels "lighter and brighter" and Mama needs a special drink after a long hard week!

Lemons, as I've said here before... scream Spring.  Luckily, many of my friends have given me them from their gardens.  You may have seen me decorate with them.. if not, you can HERE.  But as they get older and riper I need to either throw them out or use them.  Besides warm lemon water drinks (which are uber healthy for, ironically, your liver)... we also made a Lemon Basil Martini (there's the irony, see?)!


Quick and easy, as always.

Here's what you need:
Fresh Lemons
Basil leaves
4 cups Menage a Trois Vodka

** EVERYONE knows Menage a Trois Wine.  Now the brand has ventured into Vodka.  It happened over a year ago but you may want to try - never bad to add a little Menage to any Spring festivities)!

1 1/2 cups Simple Syrup (this is easy to make - boil cup of water w cup of sugar until dissolved - done)
Lemon rimming sugar
Ice

Here's what you do:
Take a handful of basil leaves & pour a little vodka in bottom of a pitcher to muddle the leaves.  Add the rest of the vodka, simple syrup, lemon juice, 10 ice cubes and stir.  Then leave in fridge for as long as possible. This is important.  All the flavors meld better the longer you keep it "marinating." Plus, the Basil flavor really comes out that way.  If you leave the pitcher in the fridge OVERNIGHT and while the leaves will look a little wilty... the drink will be fabulous.

If you like drinks more sour just pour (over ice, optional) and serve... if you like them a little sweeter rim your glasses with lemon sugar.  That's how I like them!  Then when ready to serve, pour in a shaker, shake and pour.

You can use a martini glass or a high top glass for guys.


One last thing, a citrus vodka may work nicely in place of regular vodka in this recipe... but I didn't try that this time.  Next time...  Cheers to Spring!


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Mini-Van Moms (5 reasons you're cooler than SUV Moms)!

The Headlines:

All Moms say they won't drive a Mini-Van.

Until they do.

Turns out it's not so bad after all.





Lots of little girls grow up thinking they want to, one day, become a Mom.  Many of us have dreams of sweet little angels who lie in their beds looking gorgeous as they sleep, frolicking through the meadows during Summer and enjoying a special Christmas morning with hot cocoa by the fire.

Then reality sets in.  They wake up all the time in the middle of that sweet sleep, there is absolutely no frolicking without someone tripping and hurting themselves and Christmas morning isn't complete unless that hot chocolate spills all over Grandma and gives her 2nd degree burns.  

Yep, reality and dreams sometimes don't always line up.  Especially in motherhood.  Take the car you drive.  When you became a Mom I guarantee, you, along with the rest of us took that pledge.  You know the one, the one that goes:


Feel me?  Now, I know you tried.  You continued to live by that pledge for your first born, maybe even your second but by the time that 3rd one crept in... and definitely your 4th... YOU CAVED.  You had to... it wasn't really a choice anymore.  You bought a Mini-Van.


It was at that point you thought your life was over.  You thought people would make fun of you, you thought it was all down hill from there.  But something else happened.  Other Moms asked you about the Mini-Van, life got easier and somewhere along the line you realized driving a Mini-Van was better than you expected.  A lot better.  

5 reasons driving a Mini-van is cool (er than SUV Moms):


5. No Stress Exits
Whenever SUV Moms get in or out of cars with kids - they're worried.  "Don't open the door to hard!  Watch your fingers.  Don't ding the neighbor!"  The whole process is stressful.  Not for Mini-Van Moms!  Those puppies just slide right open.  Kids can pile in, kids can pile out, none gets hurt, no cars get thrashed.  Everyone's happy and the stress is almost non-existent.  


4. Popular Carpooler  
Really.  I mean, how many does that thing seat?  Like almost a whole baseball team.  WITH CAR SEATS!  I mean I think, technically, it's 8 but everyone's very comfortable in those 8 positions.  In many SUV's, Mom's max out at 4 passengers, especially if they don't have a 3rd row!  Have 2 kids and want to take home 2 more - SORRY - there's no room.  You can take 1 extra friend in the car (if your kids are still too young to sit in the front seat that is...)  Yea, well that's not even close to the entire baseball team Mini-Van Mom can get in there.  SUV Mom is looking mighty boring right about now.

3. There's A Fridge Inside
Maybe not in all, but the ones I've seen have little "cool box"/fridges.  Seriously.  How awesome is that?  Especially if you live somewhere like ARIZONA!  You need one of those in every car here but especially if you have kids.  No crying over spilled or spoiled milk in a Mini-Van.  SUV Moms envy you.

2. Silence is Golden
These cars come fully equipped with the best magic ever.  Televisions. They work wonders, don't they?  They're just better than IPads.  They sit up nice and high.  Everyone can see them.  Nobody fights over holding them.  Turn them on and silence lies over the whole car.  Mom can actually think as she drives.  It's very zen.  Possibly the best thing about these cars.  Period.



And the Number 1 reason driving a Mini-Van is cool.  Drum roll please...

#1 You're a STAR... to anyone under 10
My son wants to travel in "Mini-Cars" any chance he gets.  He thinks it's like rollin' in a Party Bus. To him, Moms who drive Mini-Vans are just cooler people.  An SUV Mom pales in comparison really.  Mini-Van Moms , on the other hand, are like the rock stars of Mom driving.  Katy Perry doesn't hold a candle to the woman in the front seat of the Mini-Van Party Bus - and that my fellow Moms is just cool no matter how you look at it.

So, yes, you could and should continue to recite the Mini-Van pledge in your head as long as you possibly can.  Just know it all may come to a screeching halt at any moment...  


Then... just get it in black... it will make you look thinner!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Make Cake-Cookies! "Cake-ies!"

The Headlines:


These are cookies.

Made out of cake (mix).

They're tasty, pretty and easy. 

Perfect for this Picky Chick.



I am NOT a huge baker.  It's busy around here.  Baking takes time.  But I do like to make a few celebratory/seasonal treats every once in a while.  It gets us all in the mood.  Especially the kids.   This would be mine for Spring, this year.  Check them out...


They scream Spring!  As I scream: YUMMY!  I love the pastel colors and the way they look and my kids just love the sugar!  Plus, they're half cake/half cookie (a "Cake-ie", if you will).... which makes them different and a little more fun than regular old sugar or chocolate chip.



Here's what you need:

1 box yellow cake mix
1 large egg
1/4 cup of coconut oil or canola oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
sprinkles
vanilla frosting - either made or take the easy route and buy a can
*this is an AMAZING frosting recipe if you make your own.  Click HERE

Here's what you do:

Heat oven to 350.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Put cake mix, oil, egg and milk in a bowl.  Beat together.  Then scoop 1 tblspn size of the dough onto the cookie sheet.  Kind of pat them flat.  Add sprinkles.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Take white frosting, divide into at least 3 bowls and put one drop of food coloring in each to make different pastel colors for filling.


Then grab your kids an have them help frost.  Makes about 25 sandwiches.  It's fun for them... kind of like coloring eggs!  Yep, it's true... took you like minutes to actually prepare.  Just the way I like it.

I first made these years ago for my daughter's Birthday Tea Party.  They were perfect then and now.  Pair these babies with a cup of milk (or tea) and enjoy.  Just right for any Spring celebration!