A woman is like a TEA BAG - you never know how strong she is until she gets into HOT WATER. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, July 21

The Price of Relentless Competitive Drive

Recently, I met a woman (name withheld) with an ego that entered the room five minutes before she did.  She was a one-upper, a narcissist to the extreme.  She was taller, younger, blonder and she was fierce!  I loved and hated her simultaneously.  Of course, I took every opportunity to learn from her while she was visiting. 

Women are competitive.   #guilty 

The relentless competitive drive that I am referring to is quite similar to the likes of Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and the U.S. Women's National Team, but instead can often come in the form of dedicated mothers on the sidelines, women at work and your very own family members.

Women compete over sleep.  What?!  Apparently, if you are able to put yourself together and operate with less hours of sleep than your friend, daughter, mother, spouse, co-worker  - you win! 

Win what? 

Women compete over who arrived to work earlier, who works harder, who dresses better. 

I know women who diligently and successfully unearth facts about the newbie parents on the team - what do they do for a living, where they live - and how truly did they afford that mini McMansion downtown!?  Thanks to Trulia and Zillow, the cost of one's corner house in Ardsley Park is quite easy to find. 

What do women do with this information?  Why we compare their stats with our own status quo and from there we .... what?  Why was all of that important?  To see how we stack up, of course. 
We out run, out step (hello FitBit!), out dress and out last everyone else in an effort to win. 

What do we win again?

On the same token, lazy moms totally bug competitive moms.  WE CAN get it all done and do so regularly - why can't they?  (Get off that couch you lazy mom!)  Me nap?  Never!

Competitive moms have kids that make straight A's, excel at projects, sports and outwardly, they look just as put together as their spazzed, frazzled, competitive mommies. 

Competitive moms are slaves to a crazed sports schedule.  We are never home, yet our house is always spotless.  Dinner is on the table thanks to the Crock Pot and still not a single hair out of place.

Surely we are winning! 

Until we're not. 

The fact of the matter is that I thrive on the friendly competition provided by many of the people around me.  I find joy in challenging myself against some of the best and most skilled people as the likes of you.  Still, I met my match that day in the younger, more fierce version of myself.  In her, I saw a few not so nice traits of my own that I was plainly too busy to notice before.  In fact, I felt quite disenchanted listening to her one-upping and bragging about all that she could get done. 

She could do it all - and hers came with sprinkles on top. 

She was her own biggest fan. 

She was me. 

She was lots of you. 

I felt sick. 

So what happens if we dial back?  We take a break from our schedule.  We slow down.  Will we lose our competitive edge?  These are THE questions, and I plan to find out. 

Stay tuned! 

Friday, October 18

Best Jeans Ever - Big Star's Casey K. Low Rise Fit

I discovered Buckle jeans store in Wisconsin with the Hanus Girls - Jackie, Hallie, Lexie and Sophie - my super sweet family living on Frozen Tundra, near the best team in the whole entire world - the Green Bay Packers!  America's Team!  By the people, for the people!

Sorry, I digress.

Never mind the fact that we have our very own Buckle store in the Oglethorpe Mall - that is beside the point.  That day in Wisconsin - in that Buckle store - history was made.

I tried on at least 20 pairs of jeans (using my sharp & fast method because I am not a fan of trying on clothes ever) and knew I'd discovered pure, sweet unadulterated gold when I found Big Star brand Casey K. Low Rise Fit

Perfect in every way - they hugged my hips and thighs, flared out just the tiniest bit at the calf and bottom.  The shade of indigo was righteous and downright religious!  I know you understand.

If you have spent any portion of your life being thin, skinny or in need of a meal - you may not be able to relate, but for an hour-glass girl like me - constantly fighting the dreaded "apple" from taking over my top half, you can appreciate this next statement... 
These jeans "sat" perfectly on my waist. 
That sweet spot - mid-rise up the bottom of my abdomen (where nothing "muffin'd" above, nor "pooched" below when buttoned) sealed the delicious deal. 

After carrying two nearly 10 lb. boys ending in c-sections - and who am I kidding - there's that issue with living below the Mason-Dixon line that has left my middle wanting for a month with my jaw wired, hand-cuffed to Jillian Michaels. 

Back on point - Big Star's Casey K. Low Rise Fit jeans "give" when you sit down, right themselves when you stand up - there is zero stretching.  They never, ever leave me with a saggy bottom - they never let me down.  These jeans have butt-cutening ability at the highest level.

I am 37 years old - miracles CAN happen in the dressing rooms after 35!

Recently, when a friend asked about my jeans, I felt compelled to add another pair to my collection.   I was shocked and saddened to find out that Casey K's were no longer available in Big Star's collection!  After a bit of research, I learned that the Remy Collection is the replacement.  http://www.bigstarusa.com/womens/fit/bootcut-denim-1/remy-bootcut-jeans/remy.html

Do yourself a favor this fall and invest in this life changer. 

Helping hour-glass girls everywhere!  No thanks necessary.

Sunday, September 15

Poor Man's PayDay

Hoping to ease the Moanday grumps at work tomorrow with this little fall treat.  A handful of this sweet & salty combination of peanuts and candy corn tastes just like a PayDay candy bar!    

This recipe is super easy to toss together and even easier to toss into your mouth! 

1 bag Brach's candy corn
1 16oz jar of roasted/salted peanuts

Toss together candy corn and peanuts in a large bowl.  Pour snack into a wide-mouth jar and present to the grumpiest people in your life for an instant smile.

Fudge Babies aka Homemade Larabars

Satisfy your dark chocolate addiction with these good to you and good for you Fudge Babies

If you happen to be on the paleo bandwagon (which I am not, but a lot of my friends are), these Fudge Babies will fit the bill for satisfying your sweet tooth and still be admissible on your what-I-can-still-eat list. 

Moreover, they are rich with deep, dark chocolate goodness that I can only find in a mini-pot of ganache or a handful of Dove Dark Chocolates.  This method is way more healthy, and for that reason I can dismiss the guilt of eating one after another!  Win win!

Now, on to the recipe! 
Recipe courtesy of  www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com

1 cup walnuts or pecans (pecans courtesy of Grandma Louise's pecan orchard - lucky me!)
1 1/3 cups of chopped dates
1 tsp vanilla extract
slightly less than 1/4 tsp salt
4 tablespoons cocoa powder

Blend all ingredients using a food processor.  Roll into little balls or press into the bottom of an 8x8 glass dish.  I highly recommend doubling the recipe!  These QUICKLY disappear - even my picky 7 year old, Miles, devoured them.  I made one batch last week and immediately had to make a second batch 15 minutes later.  

Today, I am on batch #3 and this one I doubled right off the bat. 

After all, an old mom can learn new tricks!

Tuesday, June 4

Gold Nuggets of Wisdom - Graduation Gift

Everyone loves those Youmans' girls.
Recently, when Miss Rockstar Athlete and girl-next-door beauty, Aby Youmans, graduated from high school, I had the honor of attending her graduation party.
(Begin Harlem Shake music intro!) 

Instead of giving her a stack of cash, I found a more creative idea on Pinterest! 

Where else?

It's pretty easy - here is the side view ...
(Pay no attention to the chipped red nail polish on the thumb nail.) 

 I used:
1 bag of Hershey's Nuggets
1 empty strawberry container
Dollar bills
Handmade inspirational quotes gift tag
Fold dollar bills into thirds lengthwise, then in thirds again to make short enough to wrap around the nuggets. secure with tape.
Pack your dollar bill wrapped nuggets into the container snugly and close lid. 
Tie with a fun, grosgrain ribbon. 
Add a few inspirational quotes.
Here is what my tag included:
Gold Nuggets of Wisdom -

A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.  – Eleanor Roosevelt

The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.   – Anonymous

The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge; it is a lack of will.   – Vince Lombardi

The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.  – Steve Jobs

Congratulations on your hard work!
Onward & upward, aby!

 Here's a little bit of graduation party eye candy:


Frito & Corn Salad

Disclaimer:  Think of this as a savory, crunchy, people-pleasing sort of side.  A healthy salad, it is not. 

Warning: Other people's children (OPC) may invite you to move into their homes to live and cook after tasting this recipe. (Husbands, however, tend to be a bit more conservative when smartly requesting only for the recipe.) 

Serves 8*
2 (15 ounce) cans sweet corn, drained
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese                                                   
1 cup mayonaise (I used Hellman's)                     
1 cup green pepper, finely chopped                                                   
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped                         
1 (10 1/2 ounce) bag coarsely crushed Fritos chili cheese corn chips                             

Mix first 5 ingredients and chill. Stir in corn chips just before serving in a big, shiny trifle dish.

*I highly recommend doubling this recipe. 

Saturday, April 27

Little Old Men Make the Best Coffee...

I've always had a little old man or two in my life.  They just flock to me for some reason. 

I think it is my fabulous bouffant hair - it reminds them of the beehive'd women of the 1960's.

Older men always bear gifts.  God bless 'em!

Whether it is a compliment such as "I just like to see you smile" or "you're always so pretty" or the gift of three daily double-expressos made my favorite way with French vanilla creamer, along with a cup of ice for my Tervis Tumbler - always delivered to my desk with a hopeful smile... older men just appreciate women and want to impress.  Older men never come empty handed.

Comparing older men to men around my age has given me insight into appreciating the past:

Older men are like antique furniture - prized and appreciated for their character.
Older men are more cultured, classy.
Older men open doors, practicing the lost art of chivalry.
Older men are well traveled and know the finest places to stay, to eat, to visit.

Whether these older men were born into a different era, taught to appreciate and protect women - or perhaps these men have been fastidiously whipped into shape over time by their mothers and later their wives - whatever the reason, women my age everywhere are benefitting from their kindness and grace, their class and charm - and their thrice-daily-delivered expressos with French vanilla creamer!  

Take note you selfish twenty-somethings, boring thirty-somethings, you tired forty-somethings!

Men in their sixties and seventies are showing you up!

Taking away your thunder! 

Now who's looking OLD?  

Live on, little old men!  You are making us neglected ladies feel FABULOUS!

Sunday, February 17

Easy Peasy Chicken Pot Pie

Boxes and boxes of pie crusts are what's left in my refrigerator after last week's Valentine's Day fortune cookie baking.  What does one do with leftover boxes of pie crusts?  Make lots of chicken pot pies, of course! 

Here is an easy one that I made today.

Keep in mind that my children's repertoire of vegetables is quite limited.  Carrots, butter beans and green beans are about the extent of their refined palates.

Easy Peasy Chicken Pie

1/2 stick butter
1/3 cup of flour
3/4 can of chicken broth (which is about 1 3/4 cups)
2/3 cup 2% milk
4 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
Vegetables: sauteed onions, peas, butter beans, carrots, potatoes, etc.
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 - 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1/4 tsp tarragon
1 box (containing two 9 inch) refrigerated pie crusts
Extra flour for rolling
Egg for glazing

On medium heat, melt butter in skillet.  Sprinkle the flour, salt and pepper over the melted butter and  whisk until roux forms.  Add in chicken broth and tarragon, whisk for about 2 minutes until the flour taste is gone and the sauce has thickened.  Add in milk and continue to whisk for a few minutes.  Pull off heat and add in cooked chicken and sauteed vegetables. I had some butter beans in the frig from last night - so I tossed those in with my chicken, along with some carrots and crossed my fingers. 

Roll out one of the crusts and carefully lay into the bottom of your pre-greased pie dish.

Pour your filling over bottom crust.

Roll out remaining pie crust, lay on top of filling and begin tucking and pinching edges.  Make sure that all of the edges have been pinched closed so that the luscious filling stays inside. 
Crack open 1 egg and mix with a tablespoon of water - brush over top of pie and edges to make a shiny glaze.  (You will have some egg leftover.) Vent the top of the pie - this prevents explosion and necessary oven cleaning - which we do not want to tackle today. 

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes on 425 degrees. 

Revel in that Martha-esq feeling.


Saturday, June 23

Tuesday, May 8

Taking a break ...

I read a post tonight from http://www.handsfreemama.com/?p=3942 that struck a chord so deafening that I have decided to take a break from my blog for awhile. 

I want to be in this picture instead of behind the camera.  I want to be a part of the fun, instead of chronicling it. 

That makes sense, right? 

So, too-da-loo everyone!

But remember to check back every now and again. 

I will put up a good fight, but I may find a recipe here or there that I must simply share!

Monday, May 7

Grandma Louise's Strawberry Pie

Isn't she lovely?

Grandma Louise made these pies over and over for us when I was a little girl.  There is nothing like it.  This pie, along with her fried fish - my love bucket is still very full from these happy memories.

Any other recipe, and I would happily share the play-by-play instructions and ingredients, but for this, I cannot share.

Please forgive me.

Here are a few more luscious photos to help you along the path, but other than that, you are on your own, cowboy.

Sunday, May 6

Put the SEAT DOWN!

We have a great team of cleaners at work. The bathrooms are cleaned at least twice a day.  With that being said, the seat up ...

is Ms. Cleaning Lady's signature sign that this toilet has been completely disinfected... even in the ladies restroom!  Am I the only one that has a problem with this picture? 

Now, I am sure you men out there see nothing wrong (and everything right) with this, correct?  The seat is already up, in perfect position for you to do your "business" and you don't even have to bend down.  The hard work is already done for you. 

You like to be spoon fed, don't ya? 

But for married women everywhere, especially those with small boys at home, this is the ultimate vestige of the neverending war  - one that should not have to be fought at the office and in the ladies room of all places!

Ms. Cleaning Lady is so nice, I don't have the heart to tell her that she is jabbing that knife a little bit deeper with each upturned seat. 

Ms. Cleaning Lady, surely you know our pain ...

Surely you have a Mr. Cleaning Lady at home, right? 

And he leaves the seat up, for you to fall into with your tail feather in the middle of the night ...

So, Ms. Cleaning Lady ... nice Ms. Cleaning Lady ... for women everywhere, put that seat down! 

Wednesday, May 2

Blueberry & Blackberry Pancakes

I am currently devouring my most recent cookbook purchase...

Shhhhh...don't tell Jim! 

Just so you know, if I pass through the pearly gates anytime soon, you will want to get your hands on my cookbook collection - it is quite expansive ... and of course you'll want my pearls too. 

Back to the cookbook - doing this type of heavy research - and salivating over my findings was enough to convince me that I needed to make my very own (speedy) version to fill my blueberry pancake love bucket. 

Here is what you need to make my speedy version...

First, preheat your oven to 200 degrees.  Cover a baking pan with foil and set inside the oven, ready to accept stacks of pancakes until the very last one is cooked.

Mix blueberry wheat pancakes according to the directions on the box and add in a teaspoon or two of vanilla. 

Cook pancakes to golden on a griddle set to 375ish, smearing butter all over the surface. 

Once the griddle is hot and covered in butter, make nice round pancakes using a 1/4 cup measure.  Add in some thawed berries, one by one, in all of the best spots. 

While the pancakes are cooking, mix a few tablespoons of blueberry preserves and some maple syrup together in a bowl.  Warm in the microwave for ease and convenience - and one less pot to wash. 

Make sure to turn your pancakes when large bubbles appear and then pop.  This is the perfect time to flip them for golden perfection.  Let the cooked pancakes rest in a preheated oven set at a warmish/200 degree oven.

Enjoy the fruits (and berries) of your labor.

Monday, April 30

A Busty Girls BFF...

I've been blessed (cursed?) with both my grandmother's curves.  Had I been born in the Victorian era, I may have been famous, however, in this era of stick straight little-boy-bodied models, clothes do not always hang like they should.

Meet the enemy (a.k.a. my very favorite shirt...)

Button downs tend to gape open at the third and fourth button for a girl like me.  For years, I pined over shirts that I couldn't wear because I refused REFUSED to go up a size and sport the boxy look.  Now, I have a tool for all of us out there struggling with our "girls." 

You can find your own packet of velcro dots in the craft department at your local Wal-mart.

Just open the pack, attach the velcro in places where your shirt would typically bulge open and voila!  Enjoy the brand new straight and narrow of a buttoned down shirt!

Sunday, April 29

Unlikely BFF of the week...

Meet my new and very unlikey BFF - Body by Vi shake.  Today's version was Berry Cobbler (2 scoops of mix, 1/4 cup of berries, 8 oz. skim milk, 1 tsp vanilla, few tablespoons crushed graham crackers.)  Much like the addiction that Diet Coke has among women, I have become addicted to this.  Around 11am the craving hits - and I have never, repeat never wanted to drink my lunch - ever.  So this is something new - and so healthy.

I am in love!