The concept for this blog, believe it or not, came out of Facebook. Every day, like millions of other people, I post my "status" on my FB profile. Most of the time, my status updates are funny commentaries on things my children have said, or things my husband did or my take on our crazy little life together. Sometimes they revolve around good "deals" I've found at stores or online. Time after time, though, I received comments from friends about how much they enjoyed my updates - how my sentence or two each day would make them laugh or feel like they weren't alone in this crazy world of parenting. After much encouragement to do something with my writing besides entertain everyone on Facebook, this blog was conceived.
If you're looking for some part-time, temporary work in the near future, the US Census is hiring!
They are hiring Census Takers, crew leaders, assistants, recruiting assistants and census clerks.
If you are interested in becoming a Census taker, you will mostly work when people are home (evenings and weekends) - this might be a great job for a stay-at-home parent who can go out to work once their spouse gets home.
Bilingual is a plus.
The exciting news is, it pays pretty well! Rates vary from city to city, but I just clicked on the Austin rates and it pays $17 an hour! Where I grew up in NJ pays $18.25 an hour. Click here for the pay rate near you.
Clickhere for information on the jobs and how to apply.
When I drove through my local McDonald's yesterday to get a Coke, I got a nice surprise.
If you purchase a large drink (which is $1 - any size drink there is $1 so you might as well get the large to get this deal), there is a little sticker on your cup for a FREE movie rental from Redbox (which is located in many McDonald's). It's good for one night - you just have to type in the code.
So, if you're going to buy a drink anyway, get a large and get a free movie out of it!
As I write this blog post, I am sitting in the faculty room of an elementary school where my daughter comes on Monday nights to attend her “Brownie” meetings. My intention, in bringing my laptop with me tonight, was to crank out a few articles for my “real” job, but as I listen to the girls giggle and play in the room next door, I can’t help thinking back to my time as a Brownie, and ultimately, Girl Scout.
Let me say, right off, Girl Scouts was never “my thing.” I don’t know why. Well . . . okay . . . maybe I do. I’m just not a “group activity” type of person. I never have been and that was clear as early as the age of seven. Sadly, over the years, things haven’t really changed. When I attended group events in college, I hated the ice breaker activities. I used to tell my friends, when they would drag me places, “I will not be playing any games.” I didn’t even pledge or join a sorority. It just wasn’t for me. The thought of a sorority seemed like too many “parties with lots of people.” For the most part, I am a one-on-one type of girl. And Girl Scouts, well . . . it’s all about the “group” stuff . . . and that just didn’t rock my boat.
I did, though, for whatever reason, stick with Girl Scouts for three years. In fact, until I was in 5th grade, I attended all the meetings and went on every outing and field trip. After the age of ten, though, I was done. I don’t know if my mom asked me if I wanted to stop, or if I informed her that I was quitting. But, whatever the case may be, that was the end of Girl Scouts and me. I was happy to lay down my sash and put behind me the stress of earning all those badges.
As a result of my less-than-fond memories of my troop days, I really had no intention of encouraging my daughter to become a Brownie. (My husband, on the other hand, a former Eagle Scout, is anxiously counting the days until he can enroll our preschool boys in Cub Scouts – just another example of how he and I are polar opposites.) But, one day Jordan came home, telling me about how the girls in her kindergarten class were all Brownies . . . and could she (please, please, please) be one, too?
Ugh. Ick. Blah. “Must it begin already?” I thought.
I hesitated and hemmed and hawed, but ultimately, I relented and now, here we are in second grade and Jordan’s favorite activity of the whole week is her Girl Scout meeting. She loves, loves, loves Girl Scouts. I sometimes wonder if this means that she and I, too, are polar opposites.
The ironic thing is that, though I have a total of three specific Girl Scout memories to draw from - we went to see the play, Joseph and the Amazing, Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Paper Mill Playhouse, we made picture frames out of popsicles sticks (I still have mine) and . . . uhm . . .uhm . . . (okay, make that two whole memories) . . . if I had never joined Girl Scouts, and not stuck with it until the 5th grade, I would have lost out on one of the best relationships and friendships in my entire life.
At some point during my 5th grade year, our troop was given the opportunity to become penpals with girls in troops overseas. We were each asked if we’d like to do this and I immediately jumped at the opportunity. As I said, I am all for the “one-on-one” relationships and, even back then, I enjoyed writing. Not to mention, I was fascinated with the thought of getting to know a girl, my age, who lived in a whole other country.
“Sign me up!” I thought.
I still remember standing in the school cafeteria when I was handed a piece of paper with my “penpal’s” name and address on it. Sonia Roberts, it said. She was my age and she lived in Wales.
Where the heck is Wales, was my first thought? I had kind of expected England or France or even Russia. But, Wales? I was going to have to do a little research on that country.
But, even still, just seeing her name was so exciting to me.
Group events have never been my forté, but keeping in touch and maintaining friendships – that’s what I do best. My parents often say, teasingly, when I make a new friend, “Do they know that they now have to be your friend forever?”
When I saw Sonia’s name, I knew we were going to be great friends – even if she didn’t know it yet, too.
What I didn’t know, until years later, was that while I had been handed her name on a piece of paper, she had seen my name on a board and selected me, herself. I don’t know what drew her to pick my name, but I am certainly glad she did.
We began writing to each other and I was pleased to learn that, as quickly as I wrote to her, she’d write back to me. Even at that age, I knew finding someone who liked to correspond as regularly as me was a rare thing. She told me that she had a brother and a sister, that she had a dog, 2 cats, and 2 rabbits. She said she loved the group Wham and when she grew up, she wanted to be a pop singer (I’ll have to ask her how that worked out for her!). To be honest with you, I know exactly what she said in that first letter because I still have it . . . and her 2nd letter and her 3rd and her 54th and so on. I saved every single letter she ever wrote to me.
In return, I told her all about me. (Boy, would I like to go back and read those letters!)
What I remember most, though, isn’t particularly what we said in those letters, or what I told her about my life, but the fact that I had someone to tell it all to. I didn’t have to worry that Sonia would judge me, or my dreams, or my mistakes, or that she’d go and tell another friend and it would go around the whole school. She was a “safe place” for me. A friend I never argued with or with whom I ever had a disagreement. Of course, she was also a friend I never saw, other than in photos. But still, a friend in every sense of the word, who celebrated with me every achievement and commiserated with me every failure.
After a few years, we began to talk about meeting each other. It nearly seemed an impossible dream, but when we were both 16, it was arranged that she would come by herself to stay with me and my family, in New Jersey, for 3 weeks. I was thrilled.
Looking back, it’s quite amazing that Sonia’s family agreed to this. After all, what did they really know about us? Yet, here they were, willing to send their 16-year-old daughter to stay with a family they had never met, in America, for nearly a month.
I still remember waiting for her to come out of Custom’s at New York’s JFK airport. Would I recognize her, I wondered? Would we have anything to say to each other? Would I understand her accent?
As it turns out, I knew who she was the moment I set eyes on her. She was so tiny and cute. Shyer than I expected – at least, at first. To be honest, it took a few days for us to adjust to each other’s company – to become the friends in person that we were in our letters.
My family wanted her to experience America, so we took her everywhere. We went to New York City where we visited every landmark and took the ferry around Manhattan. We even spent a day on the set of All My Children and, though she had no idea who any of the actors were, we told her to stand next to them and smile for photos and said we’d “fill her in later.”
It wasn’t, though, until we were on our trip to Washington, DC that things became the most comfortable between us. On the car ride down, she suddenly told us (about a week into her visit) that we were not pronouncing her name correctly. It’s pronounced Saaaaannnn-ya, she’d tell us. And, we’d say, “Sooooooooooonnnnn-ya,” in our New Jersey accents. No, she’d correct. “Saaaaaaaan-ya.” I think this went on through the whole state of Maryland.
When we arrived at the hotel, “Saaaaaaan-ya” and I shared a room. As she went to take a shower, for the life of her, she could not figure out how to turn on our American faucet. After many attempts on her part, I finally went in, half frustrated and half amused and, showing her, said, “Listen, Welsh person, this is how you do it.” For some reason, this expression made us both laugh – a lot. And, from then on, it was as if the people we were in our letters, and the people we were in person, were finally one and the same.
By the time Sonia left to return to Wales, we were closer than friends. My entire family (grandparents, included) felt like she was a part of our family.
Over the years, our correspondence has changed a great deal. The internet was invented, email was created, Facebook emerged. Our handwritten letters (other than cards at Christmas time) have long since faded away. Now, we email regularly and about a year ago, I convinced her that she absolutely needed to create a Facebook account so I could easily see recent photos and we could keep up on each other’s daily lives. Whereas, in elementary school, I had to wait weeks for her to receive my letter and then respond back, these days, if I ask her a question, I may have a response in a matter of seconds.
We’ve both grown up a lot, too, of course. I married and had three kids. She married and had two. Both of us wished that each of us could have attended the other’s wedding, but as it often does, life and money and circumstance got in the way.
We both have dreams of someday meeting again . . . I keep telling Sonia that when my kids are old enough that I can bear to bring them on an international flight, she will be the first person we visit! I don’t know when we’ll meet again, but we will.
This month marks 25 years since Sonia and I wrote our first letters to each other. I truly cannot believe it. How is it possible that the years have gone by so quickly? It seems like just yesterday that I opened the mailbox to find her first letter and see her face for the first time in a school photo. And yet, I honestly cannot remember a day when Sonia was not a part of my life.
It’s so funny to think that, out of Girl Scouts, an activity for which I never really cared, came this wonderful, beautiful, meaningful component of my life.
Truly, you never know what blessings you may receive when you least expect it.
I nearly embarrassed myself very badly yesterday at Costco.
I was in line behind a very skinny woman with a very pregnant belly. Her belly was huge and it appeared that baby was going to just pop out any day now.
I was about to say, “How long till the baby arrives?” or something along those lines, but then I stopped myself.
And boy, am I glad I did! A moment later I looked in her grocery cart and there was a brand-new, maybe-two-day-old baby!!
The woman had already HAD the baby. What I was seeing was the “after-effect!”
I was so happy I’d kept my mouth shut.
In fact, to be honest with you, I never, ever, EVER ask a woman when her baby is due. I haven’t in years. Unless I have been told (by an extremely reliable source) that she is pregnant, I don’t say a word.
Years ago, when we were stationed in Kansas, we attended a church in the town of Manhattan. We had some other Army friends who went there, too, and we always sat with the same married couple. Their names were Ginger and Reid and they were both officers in the Army.
Anyway, one Sunday morning, we were all sitting towards the front of the church when it came to that point in the service where you turn around and greet the people near you. As we were shaking hands, Ginger noticed a woman directly behind us who had an enormous pregnant belly. As they shook hands, Ginger said, “When are you due?”
To all of our horror, the woman looked at Ginger and said, with a dead serious look on her face, “I am not pregnant.”
I think you could hear all of us stop breathing.
Luckily for us, the service began again at that moment and the four of us turned back to face the front of the church. None of us knew what to do. I’m sure we all wanted to walk out and go home. We were so embarrassed. We kept sneaking each other sideways glances, not daring to turn around again.
On the way home, I said to Rob, “Do you think she has a gigantic tumor in her stomach? What else could make her look that way?”
“I don’t know,” Rob said. “But that was really, really, really embarrassing.”
About two weeks later, it was announced from the pulpit that the woman had given birth to a healthy baby boy.
I wanted to kill her.
She’d been kidding and never hinted to us that it was a joke.
To this day, Rob and I often talk about how mortified we all were.
Still, even though that woman may have been kidding, I learned my lesson that day.
Just because a woman may look very, very, very pregnant does not mean she is.
It doesn’t matter how skinny the rest of her body is or how big her belly is.
Pecan-Cinnamon Pudding Cake
1 1/3 c AP flour
½ c sugar
1 ½ t baking powder
1 ½ t ground cinnamon
2/3 c milk
5 T butter, melted, divided
1 c chopped pecans
1 ½ c water
¾ c packed brown sugar
Optional – whipped cream (Sooo much better with whipped cream or old fashioned vanilla ice cream!!)
1. Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder & cinnamon in the slow cooker. Add milk and 3 T butter, melted. Mix just until blended. Stir in pecans.
2. Combine water, brown sugar & remaining butter in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Pour over the batter in the slow cooker.
3. Cover; cook on High 1 ¼ - 1 ½ hrs or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand, uncovered 30 min. Serve warm with whipped cream!!! (It’s yummy!!!)
I found this great post on my favorite Crock Pot Facebook page.
It's all about "dump" chicken recipes. I LOVE these recipes! They are easy to make at the last minute as you're rushing out the door in the morning OR you can make them in advance and save yourself some work later!
This is what the "poster," whose name is Marienne Wilds Acker, said:
We call it "DUMP-CHICKEN" because you DUMP the mix into a 1-gallon freezer baggie with the chicken and freeze it. Then when you want to eat it, you thaw overnight in the fridge, DUMP it into your crockpot, and cook it!
All the recipes can be made with approximately 1 to 1.5 pounds of chicken (4 to 8 pieces of chicken, any pieces will do... wings, thighs, drumsticks, bone-in, skin-on, boneless, skinless). Use boneless/skinless chicken breasts to keep it healthier. This is a perfect way to take advantage of chicken that’s on sale! Prep it all when you get home from the grocery store, put it in the freezer, and you have several (or many) meals ready to go in the crockpot
Dump the contents of the bag in your crockpot and cook on low for approximately 6 to 8 hours.
(You may have to adjust the time for your own taste preferences, the pieces of chicken you are using, the other ingredients or your own crockpot as some pots cook hotter than others. I always recommend the first time you should follow the recipe as written, and then you can make adjustments the next time to fit your preferences.)
DUMP BBQ JELLY CHICKEN
3/4 cup Ketchup
3/4 cup Blackberry Jam
1/8 cup White Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire
2 Teaspoon Chili Powder
1/8 Teaspoon Salt
Strawberry, peach, and apricot also work well
DUMP CHILI MAPLE GLAZED CHICKEN
2 Tablespoons Water
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
DUMP CITRUS GINGER CHICKEN
1/4 cup Orange Marmalade
1 Tablespoon Honey-Mustard
3/4 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/8 Teaspoon Red Pepper (Optional)
DUMP CRANBERRY CHICKEN
2 Tablespoons Melted Butter
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1/2 cup Cranberry Sauce
1/4 cup Orange Juice
1/8 Teaspoon Cinnamon
DUMP CREOLE CHICKEN
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/4 cup Chopped Onion
1/4 cup Bell Pepper
1 Clove Minced Garlic
1 can Whole Tomatoes* -- 14 oz
2 Teaspoons Worcestershire
2 Teaspoons Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Basil
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Pepper Sauce -- Optional
Today only, go to Amazon.com by clicking here, you can buy Daughtry's MP3 album, Leave This Town, for $3.99!
That's a FABULOUS price for this 12-track CD.
When you go to the link, it'll look like the album is $11.86. That's for the actual CD. Go to the right of the screen, around the middle, and it says, "Buy the MP3 Album for $3.99." It's in a green box.
*Only valid at participating The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® store locations in CA, AZ, TX & NV. Excludes all Ralphs stores, casinos, campus or airport locations. Valid only on March 4th, 2010, from 4pm to 7pm. Offer applies to 12oz. Peach FruTea and Spring Peach Tea Latte (hot or over ice) only. No substitutions. Limit one complimentary drink per customer. Check your local store for details.
If you live near a Corner Bakery Cafe (and you can find out here if you do) then become a fan of them on Facebook and sign up to get a FREE breakfast panini (or $3 off any lunch of dinner panini) and a FREE cookie.
Last week went GREAT with all my new crock pot recipes. I really felt like it made my evenings so much easier! (And, many of my friends seemed to enjoy re-discovering their crock pots, too!)
Here are some recipes to try out this week (or next - and maybe grocery shop for these items this week.)
1. Smoked Sausage/Potatoes/Green Beans
Potatoes (quartered and skins on)
Smoked Sausage (Cooked) (1 to 2 pounds) – I use HillShire Farms brand
Green Beans (2 to 4 cans)
Here's what ya do:
Spray your crock pot with cooking spray, layer the potatoes in first, then the smoked sausage, then the cans of green bean WITH the liquid. Salt and Pepper to taste, turn the cooker on low and off you go!
2. White Chicken Chili
2 lbs chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
48 oz. jar of Great Northern Beans
1 can crushed pinapple
16 oz jar salsa
8 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
8 oz. can chicken broth
Combine all ingredients in your crockpot and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours
3. Garlic Bacon Chicken
6-8 med boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 pack thick sliced bacon
2 cans roasted garlic cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped onions
Wrap each breast with thick slice of bacon. Cover bottom of CP with very fine layer of soup before you place chicken in bottom. Mix remaining soup, sour cream and flour in bowl with whisk. Cover chicken completely. Sprinkle onions on top, and arrange 2-3 bacon slices on top also. Cover and cool 6-8 hours on medium, until thoughly cooked. Serve over Lipton Quick Sides Alfredo Noodles. Simple and easy, this is SO good!!
4. Chicken with Bowtie Pasta
3 lbs of boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks (about 4 to 6 chunks per half-breast)
8 oz. Cream cheese
1 ½ to 2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced (or an entire “small” package)
½ stick butter
1 envelope Good Seasons [dry] Italian Salad Dressing & Recipe Mix
1 cup white wine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 box bowtie pasta
First, brown cut up chicken in skillet. It is recommended that you brown the chicken with either a little bit of extra butter or Pam. ( You do NOT have to brown the chicken...just a suggestion.)
Place browned chicken, cream cheese, mushrooms, butter, Italian dressing, and mushroom soup in crock pot. Pour 1 cup of wine in pan where chicken was browned and de-glaze the pan. Pour over all the other ingredients in crock pot and cook on low for 8 – 10 hours. Stir occasionally.
Serve over cooked and drained pasta. Yields 6 – 8 servings.
5. Dessert – Apple Dessert
4-5 cups peeled and sliced apples.
2 tbsp. flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 cup quick-cooking or regular rooled oats
3 tbsp. melted unsalted butter.
3/4 cup brown sugar/packed
Put apples in a mixing bowl
Toss with the flour and sugar.
Stir in raisins,cinnamon,and oats.
Pour 1 cup of water into crockpot.
Add apple mixture.
Pour melted butter over apples.
Sprinkle with brown sugar.
Cover and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours.
Great with good vanilla ice cream,or fresh whipped cream!
I'm a 39 year old mom of 3 kids. One girl (age 10) and two boys (ages 6 and 4). I’ve been married (to the same man, no less) for over 16 years. I'm both a stay-at-home mom and a working mom. (In this world of modern technology, that's a possibility - and, as you'll learn from my blog, I work many "odd" jobs). I struggle each and every day to be the best mom and wife and woman I can be. Sometimes I succeed. Lots of times, though, I just need to take a nap.