Friday, February 28, 2014

Kindness Wins

Lately I've been parenting through a lot of girl drama.  Nothing major, just the typical ten and eleven year old girl stuff that drives moms batty.  It's hard to listen to because no matter how I try to solve the problem, I just "don't understand."  The more I talk the more frustrated my daughter becomes, and I finally end up solving the problem with "just walk away!"  or "oh my goodness just IGNORE them!"  And the worst part about it?  My ten year old drama was so much worse.  I was light years ahead in tween cattiness.  I could have written the screenplay for the movie "Mean Girls."  Except the main characters would have been in 4th grade.  Literally.

It's not something I'm proud of and I'm eternally grateful for the many "aha" moments in my life that have changed my ways.  The strange thing about having been a catty girl is that I know my heart was good.  It is very easy to get caught up in being ignorant to how other people feel; and trying to build yourself up while hurting feelings in the process.  Truthfully by the time I was in high school I was already over it, and my focus shifted to boys and athletics.  

Which just brought more drama, only a different kind.

My daughter's drama is much less intense and less cruel, but that may only be because she's young.  She has a few years to experience all the craziness that accompanies having only an "x" chromosome.  The thought scares me.  We've had a few instances that involved being "left out" and a few that involved hurt feelings.  Let's not forget a few of the "she said it nice but I know she was being mean" kind.  I call it the girl specialty. 

The biggest lesson I'm trying to teach my kids is to be proactive.  Use your words.  If something is bothering you, speak up.  But do it kindly.  After all, you may be misinterpreting someone.  You may be making a bigger deal of something than necessary.

In my life, I've found that what you put into the world is what you get back.  If you respond with kindness, you encourage kindness.  If you respond with anger, you only breed more anger.  No matter what is happening around you, how you behave is a choice.  You control your space.

Last night, I reminded my daughter that people can only make you feel bad if you let them.  It's a hard lesson, but it's true.  What people say and do is ON THEM.  What you do in response is ON YOU.  You have to own your actions, and the best response for anything troubling you is kindness.  It's the best weapon in the arsenal.

Be a light, and radiate happiness.  Everyone, every age is drawn to someone who is positive.  And the only way to beat catty girls (and catty anyone) is with kindness.  

It wins.  Always.

I'm realizing toddlers may test your patience, but as kids grow up they just test your energy.  And your sanity.  They test just about everything all day long.  I never imagined maneuvering through troubles such as "being left out of decorating the classroom bulletin board."  There are no instruction manuals for the problems these kids bring home.

My answer to everything is now kindness.  Tell them the board looks nice and offer help.  What they say is ON THEM.

Happy Friday all.  Kindness wins.  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes

Is March here yet?  It's still 20 degrees below normal over here, but the sun is shining which is the only reason I'm remaining sane as I wait for Spring.  My son's baseball coach called last night asking for a number and shirt size, which was a sign that baseball season is, in fact, approaching.  Hallelujah!  We're officially in the home stretch of Winter.  One more month and we shouldn't see any more snow falling outside the windows.

"Shouldn't" being the key word in that sentence.

Enough winter gloom, onto more important matters.  These little guys are perfect for St. Patrick's Day.  I'm reposting them because they are easy and have just enough "wow" to make them special.

St. Patrick's Day Rainbow Cupcakes

One box white cake mix, prepared
One container vanilla icing
Assorted food coloring (I used red, blue, green)
Cupcake liners
Green sugar for decorating

Prepare cupcake mix.  Separate batter evenly into four small bowls.  Using food coloring, tint batter in 3 of the bowls, each a different color.  Leave one bowl with the plain batter.

Spoon the batter into cupcake liners, alternating colors.  I find they look best when you finish with the standard un-tinted cupcake batter on top.

Bake as directed.  I bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Cool.

Frost generously with icing.  I tinted mine green and rolled edges on green decorator sugars.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Walt Disney World and Orlando Deals 2014

Is anyone else suffering from severe cabin fever?  I feel like this is the never-ending winter; just when relief arrives another blast of cold and snow crushes all hope for an early Spring.

For anyone contemplating a vacation to Orlando, Florida, below I've listed all the deals you can currently book through my fab friends over at Destinations in Florida.  From Disney World to Sea World and Universal, they can help you plan the trip of a lifetime!

For more information or to inquire about booking any of these deals, visit Jenn and the gang at Destinations in Florida.

Walt Disney World® Resort

Free Memory Maker to Cherish Your Disney World Moments: Imagine capturing your favorite pictures from your Disney World vacation! You can do that with Disney’s Memory Maker. Book a package from August 15-September 30 for at least 3 nights with 2-Day tickets and get the new Memory Maker free. Prices start from just $899 plus tax for a family of 3 at a Disney Value Resort. 

Save up to 30% on Rooms at Select Walt Disney World® Resort Hotels: Savings apply for stays most nights March 14, 2014 - April 12, 2014 and April 20, 2014 – June 15, 2014. Upgrade to a room and ticket package with a minimum 4-day Magic Your Way Ticket and get one more ticket day FREE! Visit Destinations in Florida for more details.

Florida Resident Rates: Florida Residents can take advantage of great rates on rooms at select Disney Resorts hotels for stays through May 29, 2014. Plan a winter getaway to Disney or a Spring Break trip to the Disney Water Parks. Book today with this incredible deal, just for Florida Residents.

Military Discount: Active duty and retired members of the US military can get specially discounted rooms at Disney Resort most nights through September 27th, 2014. Thank you for serving our country. 

Disneyland® Resort
Ending Soon! Save Up to 25% on Rooms at a Disneyland® Resort Hotel: Save up to 25% on rooms at a Disneyland Hotel most Sunday through Thursday nights through April 10, 2014. Book by March 6, 2014. 

Disney Cruise Line®
Special Rates for Florida Residents and US Military: Take advantage of special deals from $135 per person per night plus tax/port charges for Florida Residents and active/retired United States Military. Special cruises are available for select dates in February.

Last Minute Restricted Deals: If you are flexible about the location of your stateroom and willing to book last minute you may be able to save BIG! Disney offers Restricted Guarantee rooms 15-60 days before departure dates, sometimes just a few days before departure. These are very restricted and with many rules, but if you are not picky you can save up 40%.

Canadian Resident Deal: If you are a Canadian Resident, you can enjoy 20% off select rates on the May 24, 2014 Alaska sailing departing from Vancouver, Canada. Take advantage of this special deal, just for you!

Aulani Hawaii

Get a Free Night and Free Breakfast: For a limited time, when you purchase a minimum 4-night stay at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, you’ll get the 4th night free - including breakfast daily for two adults at the new Ulu Cafe. This discount is good for most stays through April 7, 2014.

Get up to a $500 Room Credit to Spend During Your Visit: Book a 1 or 2-Bedroom Villa from April 23-June 16, 2014 and receive up to a $500 resort credit for a 4-Night vacation. Book a Deluxe Studio or regular room for 4 nights and receive a $400 resort credit.

Universal Orlando Resort Discounts

4th Night and 3rd Day Free: Book a Universal Partner hotel for 3 nights with a 2 Day Base ticket and receive your 4th night and 3rd day at the parks for FREE! 

Save up to $500 on your Universal Package: Stay at one of the Universal Hotels including Cabana Bay Hotel, Royal Pacific Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel or Portofino Bay Hotel with tickets and save up to $500 on your package. Now is the time to visit the movies at the Universal Orlando Resort.

Universal 1-Day or 2-Day Pass with Shuttle Transportation for 2014: Take a day away from the Disney World Parks to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Book a 1-Day or 2-Day Pass to Universal Studios with shuttle transportation included in the ticket. This special ticket is only available with select companies including Destinations in Florida.

“Take 2” Transfer: If you do not want to rent a car during your Orlando vacation, take advantage of the new “Take 2” Transfer ticket for only $39 per person. This transfer includes transportation from a Disney Resort hotel to Universal Orlando Resort for a Universal Studios vacation. After your Universal vacation, the transportation takes you back to the Orlando International Airport. 

Sea World Discounts

Expedition Antarctica at SeaWorld®: Experience the Freeze! Package includes free Quick Queue (front-of-the-line) at SeaWorld’s Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin™, dining at the Expedition CafĂ©, a free photo and a third hotel night FREE! 

Orlando Attraction Ticket Discounts
Kids Eat Free Card: Save money on over 100 different restaurants in Orlando from the quick serve restaurants like McDonald’s to sit down restaurants like Nascar Cafe at Universal CityWalk. Purchase the Kids Eat Free Card and receive a free child’s meal with any adult meal at select restaurants. 

Kennedy Space Center Tickets: Pre-order your tickets to Kennedy Space Center and save money with special prices. Experience the Space Shuttle Atlantis, US Astronaut Hall of Fame, and more; just an hour from Orlando. 

Royal Caribbean Cruise
Ending Soon! Up to $300 to Spend During Your Cruise: Book select 2014 cruises by February 28, and Royal Caribbean Cruise will give you up to $300 to spend during your vacation. Use it anyway you choose. Go snorkeling, dive into a specialty dinner for two or discover pure bliss at the spa.

Ending Soon! Up to $400 to Spend During Your Cruise: Book select 2014 cruises in Europe by February 28, and we'll give you up to $400 (based on your package total) to spend during your vacation. Use it anyway you choose. Dive into a specialty dinner for two or discover pure bliss at the spa.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Pink Invitational

Over the weekend, my daughter competed in the Pink Invitational.  The meet raises money and awareness for women with breast cancer, and those who are directly affected by it.  It is a three day meet, with gymnasts competing from all over the northeastern United States.  We met families from Virginia, Maryland, New York State and even Canada.  We even were blessed to hang out with old gym buddies we haven't seen in a year.

Along with talented gymnasts of all levels, the meet offered an upbeat, educational atmosphere for everyone involved.  Naturally, the color scheme was pink.  Pink leotards, pink balloons, pink ribbons and just about pink everything.  Many girls stayed overnight, which meant Philadelphia was taken over by tiny athletes.  When we were eating dinner at Chili's there were gymnasts eating behind us, gymnasts waiting for tables and gymnasts outside the window doing handstands on the sidewalk.  There were swarms of them walking the streets and running in hotel corridors.

While it was entertaining, and a fab experience, my gymnast was a tad overwhelmed by all the commotion.  Small town to big city was a transition she wasn't too excited about, and I'm happy to announce she prefers country roads to city lights.

I'm glad to announce it because it lessens the chances she'll take off for bigger and better one day.  She seems content with quiet nights and cows on the side of the road.

I am too.

With all the bells and whistles large events such as the Pink Invitational bring, I was most impressed with how the message was never lost.  Every score of 9.0 or higher was celebrated with a $1 donation to breast cancer research.  Girls wrote their name on a ribbon and tied it to a long train of previous ribbons from gymnasts at the sessions prior to theirs.  Before awards, there was a lesson in nutrition and prevention.  In the goodie bags?  All natural products and foods.  Even a portion of vendor sales went to research.  

 See the pink breast cancer ribbon in the 'do?  My friend Beth found the style on Pinterest.  I fumbled through it but it worked!

We walked away with three placement medals and an all around trophy.  In most meets the awards go out to the top 50% in each age group and event, and the all around.  Overall a great meet and an even better experience.  

Another small bonus to traveling over three hours to gymnastics meets?  Rest areas with Roy Rogers.  I didn't even know Roy Rogers was still around.

Happy Monday everyone! This Mama is happy to be home. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

How to Save on Groceries with Coupons (and other Tricks)

I got married at 20, and had my first munchkin at 21.  As a result, my career has always been managing this circus (er, family).  I have had a few part time jobs here and there, but we basically survive on Hubby's salary.  This has always prompted the "How do you do it???" question from friends and acquaintances.

I can understand the curiosity.  We have a large family, and our children are all clothed (in public anyway) and they all wear shoes.  Hubby and I are also clothed, and we don't look like we walked out of 1985.  We obviously go shopping.  Our munchkins do sports and have birthday parties.  We live a semi-normal existence.  We are normal as it gets with munchkins wrecking havoc everywhere.

So, how do we do it?  How do we provide for our family on (basically) one salary?

It's NOT easy.

In order to make ends meet, it is imperative that I stretch our dollar.  I have learned the value of store fliers and which stores double coupons (and what that is exactly).  I have taught myself how to sell on eBay and how to rent our timeshare.  I am relentless when it comes to making ends meet.

For tonight I will focus on groceries.  I have enough money saving and stretch the dollar tips to write until next Saturday.  My munchkins and Hubby would be rather disgruntled with the lack of attention.

I understand there is only so much time in the day.  Yes, if you want to devote an hour each week to planning your meals and writing out your shopping list you can save a tremendous amount of money.  I don't have that kind of time.  Time is a luxury I can't afford, along with designer jeans and an in ground swimming pool.


I save at least an extra 30% every time I grocery shop.  On good days I cut my bill in half.  While starting any coupon system will take time to get used to, if you stick with it, it will only add a few minutes to your regular routine.

First and foremost, do your homework.  Read your fliers.  I am posting this Saturday evening, which means the Sunday Paper is hot off the press.  Two words:  BUY IT.

The Sunday Paper is an arsenal of money saving information.  Fliers and coupons galore.  Read them.  Knowledge is not only power, but money.

One important note, DO NOT CLIP COUPONS FOR STUFF YOU DON'T BUY!  Coupons only save you $ if you buy items you need and use.  Saving $1.00 of a $3.00 yogurt no one eats isn't saving you money.  It's just wasting LESS money.

Make sure you read the coupons carefully. You may need to buy two of an item, which is not worth it if the shelf life is not long.  Also make a mental note of expiration dates.

I always tell Mommies to invest in a coupon organizer.  Clipping coupons is only helpful if you have them with you.  I bought my organizer at the "$1 Spot" at Target.  When I saw them for sale again last spring, I bought some for my friends.  Mine is small enough to keep in my giant "this is not a diaper bag" purse.  I have it organized according to where the items are in the supermarket.
I have the sections labeled:

Baby Items, Bread and Cereal, General Food/Drink, Cold Items, House and Hygiene, Store Coupons and Receipts.

About once a month, I also check online for grocery coupons.  My favorite site is Coupon Mom.  I print the coupons I need and file them away.

Before you head out to the store, read through the grocery store fliers.  Make your list according to what is on sale.  Do your best to match a coupon to as much as possible.  If you don't have a coupon for an item you need, check the manufacturer's website.  You may be able to find printable coupons there as well.

Sale is good.  Sale with a coupon is better.  Clearance with a coupon is BEST.

I like to make my grocery list on a business style envelope.  I mark what is on sale with an "S", and I star what I have a coupon for.  I then place all the coupons I will need for my shopping trip in my envelope.  This ensures you have the coupons ready when you go to check out.  I have been that frazzled mom at the checkout with a screaming baby many flying everywhere...Mommy sweat dripping down my back.  Having coups handy in such debacles is quite a blessing.

DOUBLE COUPONS:  This was a term that scared me in my early days of motherhood.  What did it mean?  It sounded complicated.  What did I have to do to "Double" a coupon?

NOTHING.  Double coupons are a beautiful thing.  Several grocery stores (Shop Rite and Stop n Shop to name two) double manufacturer coupons.  You know all those coupons you just clipped in the Sunday Paper?  All of them, up to $0.99 will be doubled automatically at checkout.  Here's how it works:

Crest Toothpaste is on sale at Shop Rite for $1.00.  You have a coupon for $0.50 off any size Crest Toothpaste.  Shop Rite will match that $0.50, and you just got that Toothpaste for free!

I never pay full price for anything unless absolutely necessary.  If I am without a coupon I buy the store brand if it is cheaper.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to maximize your savings if you have "brand loyalty".  I do for some main items, such as Bounty Paper Towels.  I clean more spills at breakfast than a third grade art teacher does in a day.  Bounty is a must.  But cotton swabs?  I can assure you my ears don't care.  In some cases, even with a coupon, the generic is cheaper.  Give it a try.

I bought name brand eye solution for years.  Always with a coupon, but it was still expensive.  One day I decided to try Target's eye solution.  It was $4.00 cheaper.  A year later my eyes are still in my head and I can still see.

Items to buy generic:
Cleaning supplies
Hand Soap
Cookies (Chips Ahoy or not, your kid will eat it.  I bet the farm.)

Sign up for email alerts at your favorite stores, and print coupons to save on clothes.  Do your best to know what you need before you shop.  Your wallet will thank you!

Check out my new page "Money Savers" for more tips!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ten (Small) Luxuries I Took for Granted Before Becoming a Parent

Being a mom rocks my world.  Seriously, it does.  Those tiny faces fill my soul and consume my thoughts, concerns and much of my happiness.  I'm only as happy as my unhappiest child, and I wouldn't trade this life for any other.

There are however, some pieces of mommy-ing that have made me completely appreciate small luxuries I took for granted before becoming a parent. In no particular order, I've thought of ten.

I should make one of these the ability to think.  But that's a whole 'nother post.

1. Quiet. Complete and total quiet. The kind you experience when no one is home or everyone except you is sleeping.  This explains why every mom stays up later than necessary, to experience the glorious sound of nothing.

I know it will get old one day.  But these days it's worth savoring.

2. Talking on the phone without someone following me, tugging at me, calling my name or making an extreme amount of noise.

3. Watching something on television, between the hours of 8am and 7pm, that is NOT on Disney Junior.

4. Sitting under a dryer at the hair salon.  Get me a large soda and I'll call it a vacation.

5. Going into a store and browsing.  Not just shopping, but browsing.  I'll even go a little farther and say buying myself something other than toiletries or something edible.

6. Taking an uninterrupted shower.  If you need to find your kids pick up the phone or get in the shower. They will come to you, I promise.  Even better? Try to hide and watch a show off your DVR.

7. Enjoying something really delicious and not having to share. If I want to eat something special, I have to hide either myself while I eat or the something special until I'm ready to eat it.

8. Cleaning just my mess. Just mine. I need a hazmat suit just to clean my toilets.

9. Breakfast that doesn't include scraps such as crust from toast, waffles or pop tarts.

10. Sleeping. Going to bed and waking up in the morning without 1-3 events such as the need for water, bad dreams, potty or puke in between.

Love my babies, and they've made me appreciate little things in life I've always taken for granted.  I know one day I'll wish for noise, water requests ten minutes after bedtime and a buddy at the store.  I can say with confidence the toilet cleaning I WILL NOT miss.

Share some of your small luxuries, I'd love to hear them.

Monday, February 17, 2014


The trouble with being a competitive athlete is there is always someone better.  Someplace, somewhere, someone is stronger, faster, more agile or all of the above.

Being a competitive gymnast is no walk in the park.  There are many ups and downs.  There are skills that you master, skills you struggle with and skills that suddenly disappear.  You train hard and often, and you get one opportunity every few weeks to put your best on the floor.  There are no do-overs, no halftimes to get your head back in the game and no timeouts.

It's one and done.

Within reason, every gymnast can do all the skills required at every meet.  Which means the gymnast who puts the best score up that day wins.  That's it.  Bad days mean a loss, and you have no teammate to blame but yourself.

It's tough business.

This weekend, my gymnast didn't put up the highest score.  But she did put up two of her highest scores all season.  One on floor, which was a wonderful surprise. The other was on beam, which we knew she had in her.  We waited for that 9.025 all season.  In this sport, improving and putting up a stronger routine than the meet before is a win.  That's the meet you build on to put up a higher all around score at your next meet.  It's a ladder, one that hopefully leads to bigger and better every meet.  As a gymnast, that's all you can do, try to climb the ladder. 

You climb.  You rest.  Sometimes you need a breather and sometimes you can keep climbing.  You might stumble, and if you do, you get back in the gym and train harder.  

The goal is bigger and better, not necessarily to constantly win.  If you focus too much on winning, you miss out on celebrating the personal achievements.  You also will never be at peace, because there is always someone better.

The big picture gets lost the need to be the best.  

My baby girl put up some of HER best this weekend, and we left the meet very proud.  We celebrated with breakfast at 10pm, courtesy of a 24 hour diner we scouted on our way to the meet.

Here's to personal achievements.  May they never be clouded or overlooked because of a need to always be the best.  It's a slippery slope.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Homemade Pop Tarts

I am a lover of Pop Tarts.  Ever since I was a kid I've been a sucker for Maple Brown Sugar Pop Tarts. With the frosting.  As a result my kids are also fans of these toaster pastries.  Since I'm a bit more of a stickler for healthy eating than my mom was, Pop Tarts are not a regular purchase.

But every once in awhile we dive into a box.  It lasts one day before they are gone.

With all the snow (bleck) and all the Valentine fun this week, I decided to try homemade Pop Tarts.  I saw a recipe in the paper and I used it for reference.  They were a success, and I had requests for another batch just a day later. 

Even though they aren't the healthiest snack around, I know what's in them, and that makes them a little bit more welcome in my kitchen.

Enjoy, and if you're patience is up to it have the kids lend a hand!

You'll need:

1 large egg
1 package refrigerated pie dough
wax paper
cookie cutter (if desired)

Filling ideas:

Brown sugar and cinnamon

Vanilla Glaze:

1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400. 

Beat one large egg in a bowl, and unroll two sheets refrigerated pie dough onto wax paper.  If desired, use cookie cutter (I used hearts for Valentine's Day) to cut dough.  My dough made 16 hearts, yielding me 8 Pop Tarts.

Top half of your cut outs with 1-2 tablespoons desired filling.  Place remaining halves on top, and brush with beaten egg.  Moisten edges with egg and press firmly, use fork to seal.

Bake 12-15 minutes, or until just golden and centers slightly puff. 
Let cool, and if desired top with vanilla glaze and sprinkles.

Enjoy and stay warm!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Got the Winter Skin Blues?

I'm about to be brutally honest.  I'm super frugal.  I rarely care about brand names because when you care about brand names you don't have the same opportunities to save money.

For me to commit to brand loyalty, I have to LOVE it.  Chocolate is an item that I refuse to skimp on.  Paper towels I need to be selective.  The cheap rolls don't cut it in this house.

One item that I am completely loyal to because of quality and price is Suave®   My four kids use shampoo and conditioner like it's going out of style.  We go through enough bottles that I often wonder how much is going on their heads and how much is sliding down the drain.  For years now the only brand I ever buy, unless I find a great clearance sale on something more expensive, is Suave®.

I buy bottles and bottles and bottles.  I was at Target one week and if you bought four bottles of Suave® you got a $5 gift card.  I danced the jig I was so excited.  I grabbed bottles of body wash, shampoo and moisturizing lotion.  I stocked my bathroom closet full of products for my munchkins to abuse. 

Suave® Body Care recently introduced Suave Professionals® to their line, offering women incredibly affordable moisturizers and oils to keep their skin soft.  Considering my loyalty to Suave, I already had Suave body lotion in every bathroom.  Our entire house suffers from dry skin in the winter.  If I don't moisturize after my showers I have rough alligator skin that sticks to my clothes.  It's horrific.

Naturally I was thrilled to try the Suave Professionals® Body Care line, and the first day I opened the bottle of Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Lotion I was IN LOVE.

Literally.  The cream was like silk.  It absorbed quickly and left my skin feeling soft and smooth.  I have used many lotions on my skin.  Over the years I've tried expensive and inexpensive.  This has to be my favorite lotion because it's a brand I trust, the product is affordable and the results are amazing.  It even smells good.

I promise.

There is also a Dry Body Oil Spray,  Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Dry Body Oil Spray.  The non-greasy formula absorbs instantly and seals in long-lasting moisture.  The Moroccan argan oil is a lightweight oil known to be rich in nutrients and antioxidantsI love the spray after my showers, because it absorbs quickly and doesn't feel greasy.  I can get dressed quickly and my skin is soft. 

For more information on the Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Care products check out their Facebook page.  You can also get tips for radiant skin, style advice from celebrity stylist Brad Goreski and enter the “Radiant Wishes” sweepstakes for a chance to win Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion products, a spa day or a trip to Los Angeles!
And now for the fun part.  For a chance to win a $1,000 gift card, let me know which of the Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Care products you would most like to try.  Leave a comment below, and don't forget an email to contact you if you win! 
Sweepstakes Rules: 
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 2/7/2014-2/28/2014.

Be sure to visit the Suave Professionals® brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine Shortbread Cookies

I absolutely ADORE these Valentine Shortbread Cookies.  You must enjoy a hearty melt-in-your-mouth butter cookie to appreciate these.  I appreciate them greatly.

**These cookies are easy to make, you just need the patience to roll and cut the dough..  They can be made in under an hour start to finish.  They are also extremely versatile.  Scroll down to see jelly-free variations.**

Valentine Shortbread Heart Cookies

1 cup butter (no substitutions)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Strawberry or Raspberry Jelly

Heart shaped cookie cutters, in two sizes.  I like my cookies jumbo size, so mine were 4 inches and two inches (approx).  

Preheat oven to 300.

In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add vanilla.  Turn mixer to slow, and gradually add flour 1/2 cup at a time.

Blend well.

Dough will be crumbly.  Don't fret.  This dough reminds me of Moon Sand.  It does amazing things.
On clean, lightly floured surface, roll out 1/2 of dough.  You need to roll the dough out thick.  You want a thick, hearty shortbread cookie.
If you are looking for a thin, crumbly, flimsy cookie we ain't the same kind of people.

Cut hearty cookies with 4 inch heart cookie cutters, remove center of 1/2 cookies with 2 inch heart cutters.
Set on baking sheet at least one inch apart.
Bake 20 minutes on 300.  I do not wait for brown edges.  Remove from oven just before edges begin to brown.

Remove from sheet and cool on wire rack.

Once cool, spread jelly on heart cookie.  Top with cutout heart cookie.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Step back and admire your masterpiece.
A bonus to making these cookies is the extra smaller heart cookies you have from removing the center of the top cookies.

I grabbed vanilla frosting, M&M's and colored sugars to switch gears and make a few different cookies for my munchkins.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Difference Between Moms and Dads.

A few days ago, Hubby turned forty.  For-ty.  This amazes me because I still remember my mom turning forty.  My dad too.  My mom's friends surprised her mid-day and forced her to lunch.  They wouldn't take no for an answer.  Mom never went anywhere easily unless it involved her kids.  She was very caught up in raising babies.

I remember them at the top of our staircase, laughing.  They bombarded her and truthfully, I can't even remember if she went to lunch.  I hope she did.

My dad's fortieth was at this huge beach house, and to say the least I remember it well.  Those two birthdays, to me, say so much about moms and dads.

Moms carry the burdens.  At least the moms I know do.  They worry about carpools and playdates and homework.  They only feel ready and able to leave the house if things are taken care of.  I saw it in my mom (to an extreme) and I see it in myself.  My friends too.

Dad carry burdens too, just different kinds.  And while they may not be as obvious, they're there.  The difference in the burdens is that when dads need to go somewhere, there isn't as much (if any) concern about clean laundry for school or what's going in the lunch sacks.  They either know its taken care of or they don't worry about it. I'm thinking it's a combination of both.  I'm pretty sure Hubby knows I have it covered, and if I need his help I'll ask.

While this may seem a tad unfair, I wouldn't trade positions.  I've earned my worries.  I like to know my babies are taken of and I don't know if I'd want Hubby in charge of clothes and lunches.  He helps plenty, and he could handle it.  But I took charge of raising these babies the minute they were born.

Most moms do.  

The minute those newborns are placed in our arms we make decisions about feeding and sleeping, routines and clothes.  Could you imagine the dad having final say on breastfeeding?  I'm thinking that dad would get a punch in the nuts.  We're made to be the caretakers; the baby hears our voice in the womb and can drink our milk if we decide to nurse.  It's miraculous.

Dads are the rocks.  The support.  At least they are in the first few weeks after a new baby. If they do their job well they help mom take a breath, and feel appreciated.  As my kids grew Hubby became more involved, and now we're a pretty good team.  But in the first few groggy years of parenting little babies I was the one calling the shots.  And it's okay.

Let me stop here and say that Dads that stay home and take the reigns when mom is able to go back to work? Superstars.

Do I get annoyed when I'm tied down and Hubby seems to live free as a bird?  Sometimes.  But some of it I created, and sometimes I don't mind him out of the house.  I need the space, and he does too.  I also know that when I want to get out with friends Hubby can hold down the fort.  The biggest issue is deciding to let him handle everything and go out and let loose.  Hubby has his own way of handling things, and it took a long time to realize that the kids are more resilient because of it.  They are less sheltered and more adaptable.

I still remember Hubby telling me he let our eleven year old go inside and pay for the pizza as he watched from the car.  I gasped for air.  My baby?  Pay for a pizza and take it back to the car?  I knew Hubby was right there, literally, watching from outside the door. But say that again? Pay for a pizza without a parent next to him?!

A big lesson in independence I would have never dealt to my firstborn. But he survived. Imagine that.

It's a battle every mom I know faces.  The ability to hand over the responsibility and take time away from handling everything all the time.  We're programmed to be attached to these tiny people we create, and it's hard to carve out time for ourselves.

Sometimes we don't even want to carve out time.  We're happy being home.  I know I am.  But I'm seeing that we need to step away every now and again and bond with other moms.  We need friends, time to laugh and time to seek out support from women facing the same issues we face.

It's all too easy to be running from lunch on your 40th birthday because there is too much to be done.  But I don't want that for myself or any of my good mama friends.  I don't want it for any mom.  You deserve to take a breath every now and again and nurture your soul.  I wish my mom did more of it, because she still is the most self-sacrificing mama I know.
My Mama.

Go to lunch.  Have the laughs.  Hey, maybe your son will get to pay for his first pizza.  And trust me, the laundry isn't going anywhere.  I also have faith you'll get it done.

Because that's how moms roll.

Cheers and happy Friday!! Enjoy it mamas! Do something for YOU.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


I'm slacking with the blog posts.  I'm also slacking with laundry and cleaning anything other than my kitchen. This winter weather does it to me every year.  Yesterday the kids had a snow day, today we are enjoying a two hour delay.  To say the least there has been a lot of laying around. Luckily I shoveled for a solid hour yesterday, and this morning my upper back feels like I hit the gym hard core.

I just keep reminding myself that it's February. February is a short month, and next month is March.  Once we get through March we should see some warmer days.  We should see less ten degrees and more forty to fifty degrees.

Too bad I need seventy five and sun to really feel like winter is behind me.

Happy Monday everyone.  If you're digging out from the big storm yesterday, I feel ya.  And if you live where the weather typically stays above thirty degrees, I envy you.

Cheers all!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Memory Making with YourKidVid

Does anyone else have hundreds of adorable photos and videos of their offspring on their iPhones?  My photos and videos usually stay on my phone for months, because I feel safe knowing I can access those little beauties at any time.  My phone captures more wonderful moments than my camera ever did, because it's with me all the time.  The images and videos I have on that tiny device are worth their weight in gold, and I drag my feet downloading them because once I don't have them at my fingertips I'll feel naked.  And empty.  

I also know that after I download anything it just sits on my computer until I print it, make a DVD or do something snazzy with it (which never, ever happens).

I just discovered this fab new video company made up of L.A. based directors, editors, and film-makers called Yourkidvid. They're bringing their movie-making talents to all those little videos we have hanging around on our phone and computer, and turn them into short films. Little cinematic experiences. I'm working on making my mini-movie and can't wait to show you guys in the future. I'm busy uploading and finding all those wonderful moments I've captured that have sat on my phone and hard drive for the last year.  Maybe more.  

Yourkidvid takes the work out of finding something awesome to do with all those crazy adorable pictures and videos of your kids.  You give them the material, and they make something fabulous.  

In the meantime, check it out and start uploading your own video clips. Just send them your videos and a few days later you'll have an awesome little movie you can share with your friends and family. They also offer Gift Cards so you can give the gift of a premium hand crafted movie. Perfect for baby shower gift, new mom, birthdays, mother's day... Pretty much for anyone anytime!

You're in luck because I have a 20% coupon code exclusively for my readers:
YKV-NOV16F. Head over and check it out!  I pinky-promise you'll be amazed.