Oct 27 Thursday

Opa! Hummus Plate

My neighbor can parent three children, file court documents, pour a fantastic margarita, bake bran muffins, design and create a Halloween costume from scratch, simultaneously with one arm behind her back.

Oh and she makes the most amazing little plate of goodness I’ve ever had the pleasure of dipping a pita chip into.

Bonus: It’s pretty. It’s (almost) too pretty to eat. Almost.

MK spreads hummus on a plate, tops with chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions (optional), feta and kalamata olives. She serves it with pita chips and let me tell you, it’s goooooooood. I recently spent the better part of an hour hunched over the plate, nibbling and raving about how amazing it was. I won’t tell you that when I ran out of pita chips, I ate it with my fingers. Because that would be disgusting.

It would be great served as a light lunch, appetizer or to impress your friends with a bottle of wine.

And it’s so easy, I bet you could make it with one hand behind your back too.

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Oct 25 Tuesday

All I could think was “It’s huge.”

Nothing screams “A 7 year old boy lives here!” louder than a giant drawing like this on your driveway.

I literally stumbled upon it today.

It’s been there since Saturday.

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Oct 24 Monday

I’m obsessed with…

Velcroing things to my walls.

I have, on two separate occasions, taken a dry wall screw, a hammer, a heavy piece of art work and ruined a wall. (If you realize what that combination means, you just cringed. If you don’t know what that means, welcome to my world before taking the first whap…The first time.)

True story.

It’s really no surprise, I lack patience.  When I want something done, I want it done NOW. And if “now” means during nap time when I get a wild hair up my ass, then so be it.

Thankfully, for the health of SuperHub’s heart, I’ve learned over the years to respect dry wall. And plaster. And heavy frames.

Enter 3M Picture Hanging Command Strips.

I happened upon these tiny Velcro™ wonders while attempting to hang a holiday wreath once upon a time. I was skeptical that glorified plastic teeth could support wall art, frames and the horribly gawdy glass beaded wreath I insisted on hanging on the front of our house.

But they did.

And I learned.

When we moved, I did an entire photo wall going up my staircase in one afternoon. No nail holes meant a giddy hubby and I can change my mind whenever the wild hair returns.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a beautiful piece of art work that reminded me so much of my dad, I wept. Then I bought it.

This morning, after too much coffee, I hung it in three minutes.

THREE MINUTES.

And this is how I did it: Open, separate, pair-up, peel, stick, peel, level, push.

No hammer (or dry wall screw) required.

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Oct 19 Wednesday

Boy Troubles

I happen to know the mom and pop of this delicious three year old little girl.

Sydney, age 3, was less than happy when Austin, a boy in her class, wouldn’t wait and walk on the “rock wall” with her outside her preschool. He walked the wall and jumped off the end of it without waiting for her…Against his promise to her.

The emotional reaction that ensued tickled my funny bone and warmed my heart. “But I love Austin VERY VERY much!”

Pay attention boys. This beautiful little half pint means business.

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Sep 26 Monday

Hello! My name is Flo.

We got a new puppy about a month ago.  Her name is Flo, she is a labradoodle and she makes me talk in itty bitty little voices, ohyesshedoes! We got her for many reasons, but first and foremost because she makes mama happy.

To put it mildly, I love my dogs. Love. Kiss their tummies, snuggle in bed every night, buy-ridiculous-Halloween-costumes-for-them kind of puppy love.

Flo, and my 3 year old two-legged child Sam, are both potty training. By that I mean both are learning to pee in the yard. Usually in front of random strangers passing by. Nope. Not kidding.

While looking for matching name tags for our other doodle dog (Sophia Petunia) and Flo, I sniffed out a new store that instantly made my tail wag.

Sofa City Sweethearts, based in Gulfport, Mississippi makes these amazing pet ID tags. And neckties. And pet bow ties.

These tags are great for pets or as a kicky little key-chain for the human variety. Just list your cell phone number on your tag, in case you lose your keys.

At less than $10 a pop, now in the time to get a jump start on your holiday shopping. For you or your favorite four legged friend.

Fetch!

I love these SO much, I want you to have one too. So let’s give one away, shall we? Enter a comment below, with the name and description of your favorite pet, and you could be the lucky recipient of a customized tag, compliments of me, from Sofa City Sweethearts!

Comment entries are limited to one, per email address. Facebook and Twitter entries are limited to one, per registered username. Three modes of entry allow for a maximum of three entries per person. Entries will be accepted until 12 pm Friday September, 30, 2011. One lucky winner will be drawn, using random.org, and notified by email on, or after, Saturday October 1, 2011.

Sit Ubu, sit. Good dog. ruff

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Sep 15 Thursday

Green Tomat-OH! Muffins

Tomato, toe-mah-toe, muffin, muff-ah-toe.

Fall is rearing it’s beautiful orange head around these parts which means two things: It’s time to light my FAVORITE apple scented candles and I regularly attempt to warm the house up, on frosty mornings, by making fresh bakery. And ooooooh those frosty mornings have arrived.

Last evening, upon hearing warnings of hard frost, the kids and I ventured out into our tomato garden to pluck every last piece of fruit that summer had forgotten. All told, we have about 30 lbs of beautiful green tomatoes just waiting to fulfill their little destinies. (Note: Over attachment issues recognized.)

Bound and determined to use these buggers, I got busy researching recipes to put the fruit to good use.

For today, I settled on muffins. Tonight for dinner, I am going to serve sauteed green tomatoes and onions alongside a slow cooker breakfast casserole that is currently cooking itself.

Back to the muffins…

I made two batches. And thank goodness I did. The first batch was made sans baking soda and anyone who knows a good muffin, knows you need baking soda. They smelled good, but nothing quite like the second batch.

I used chopped green tomatoes & dried cranberries in one batch, pureed green tomatoes in the other. I loved them both. The larger chunks of tomatoes threw off my munchkin taste tester, so we went ahead and called them Dr. Seuss muffins.

She ate three.

The flavor is reminiscent of a spice cake, with a slight sweet, slight bitter finish. They are wonderful alongside coffee.

I am anxious to try this recipe in mini loaves.

Then it’s time to whip up some green tomato pickles and fried green tomatoes. Food tastes better when it’s grown with love. And when you know it’s fulfulling it’s little food destiny.

You will need:

3 Cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 Cup white sugar
1 Cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup vegetable oil
1/2 Cup applesauce
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 Cups chopped, or pureed, green tomatoes
Dried cranberries, optional but highly recommend!
Raw sugar, for dusting on top before baking

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place muffin cups into muffin pans.

Chop or puree your green tomatoes. If you are pureeing them, be sure to drain the excess liquid through a strainer.

Mix your dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk well to combine. Mix the wet ingredients in another bowl and then slowly add to dry mixture. Use a hand mixer, on low, until the batter comes together. The batter is very thick. Add the cranberries and stir well.

Scoop batter into muffin tins, filling each 2/3 the way full. Sprinkle with raw sugar.

Place in your preheated oven and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the center of a muffin clean.

Remove from muffin pans and allow to cool completely on cooling racks.

YUM.

Tomato, toe-mah-toe, I could eat these ah-lot-oh!

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Sep 13 Tuesday

What to say…What not to say…

I have struggled with writing this post for months. It’s been something I continually come back to, time and time again, to add to, revise or ponder.

The most difficult thing, after a death or other traumatic event, is knowing what to say to those who were immediately affected.

Now, having been on both sides of the coin, I have a stronger opinion on things.

This post is not intended to offend. It’s to serve as a reference to anyone, including as a reminder to myself, as to what paths are best to follow when someone you love is hurting.

Unrelated: Every time my Dad would drive by a cemetery, he would say “Boy, people sure are just DYING to get in that place!” and then laugh. So now I laugh too and say the same thing. Because even though I am sad, dying is a part of life. And life is better with a sense of humor.

What to do:

Show up. If you feel that you should be with someone, go to them. Even if just for a hug. Even if they tell you they are all right. GO. Attend services. I can still recall all of the familiar faces who were there for my family during our time of suffering. I can also tell you who was not there. Never, in my entire life, have I understood the importance of “Visit the sick, mourn the dead.” Oddly enough, it was my own Dad who continually told me those words.

Don’t ask, Do. Don’t ask me what I need, tell me what you are going to do. Instead of “Can I bring you dinner?” say “I am going to bring food to the house at 5 pm for your family. I will leave it on your doorstep hot and ready to eat.”

Communicate. The less people the family has to re-tell the story to, the better. Share the facts. Please.

Reach out. I became obsessed with reading cards, emails, texts, Facebook posts and online condolences after losing my dad. As with spoken words, it was incredibly comforting to see your loved one be embraced by an entire community. Even the notes from people I’ve never met, but wanted to reach out, made a tremendous impact. If you feel compelled to say something, SAY SOMETHING.

What to say:

“I am so sorry.” There are no better words. Oddly enough, when someone expresses their condolences and shows emotion, it eases the pain of loss. It shows how loved those who are lost were…Are. Some of my most comforting moments were holding my friends and family as they sobbed at my dad’s wake. They apologized for their lack of control and I assured them that as much as I hated it, I loved it. My time to cry was later.

“You were a good daughter.” (Wife, husband, son, friend, mom, dad.) A friend of mine lost her dad just one day before I lost mine. She shared these words with me, that someone had said to her, and they immediately set my mind at ease. They are a beautiful reminder that we do the best we can do.

“I will never forget when…” Share memories. I still love hearing people talk about my Dad. Whether it’s a quick story and exchange of a hug, or a kind email on Wednesday afternoon, it’s always nice to know that people don’t forget.

You can, I repeat, YOU CAN say things like “I about died!” Or the words death, dying, kill, etc. in my presence. While you’re sensitive to this as a taboo type subject, it’s now my reality so no offense taken. Weeks after burying my dad, we went to a local watering hole with some friends to celebrate SuperHub’s birthday. A friend of mine ordered Dead Guy Ale. The waiter walked up to the table and said “Who ordered the Dead Guy?” You could have heard a pin drop for about 10 seconds. Then I said “Now THAT’S funny!” and we all laughed to tears.

What not to say:

Nothing. Please, say something. Or just grab my hand and squeeze it. I will know.

You are doing remarkably well.” Would you rather I crumble into a little pile of people, sobbing hysterically on the floor? Because I can do that at any moment. Just say the word.

RIP – I hate this acronym. The intentions are good, but it belongs on a Halloween decoration, not an expression of condolences.

“The worst is yet to come.” Everyone has their own path in the grief process and lives experiences differently.

Through our own painful realities, we learn how beautiful life really is. And to appreciate drinks named Dead Guy Ale. Life is too short not to raise a glass, cheers and know the right thing to say. Or just shut up and drink.

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Sep 06 Tuesday

World’s Finest Brownies

Every year, my kids sell World’s Finest Chocolate to raise money for their school. We love our school. And we love chocolate. These two things pair well together in this instance.

Earlier this year, I heard a rumor about the caramel filled candy bars being used in brownies. IN BROWNIES. So it should not surprise you in the slightest that as soon as we tore open our chocolate cases, I snagged three caramel bars and sprinted to the kitchen. Or the bathroom and locked the door for a quiet snack, but I digress.

Note to You: I have had some ridiculously amazing brownies in my life. All of which, have been made by other people. This pan of ooey gooey caramely goodness is a strong contender for the best pan of cellulite-inducing calories ever. Forever and ever, amen.

You will need:

2 Brownie mixes (oil, eggs and water as directed on package)
3 World’s Finest Chocolate caramel filled candy bars (or Caramello chocolate bars)
1 Cup Self Restraint – My local grocer was all out so when I accidentally fell face first in the pan, I had to eat my way out. This ingredient is optional.

Mix one brownie mix, as directed on package, and pour into a well greased 9 x 13 pan. Break the caramel candy bar into pieces and strategically place on top of the brownie batter. Mix another entire brownie mix, as directed on the package. Gently pour the second batter batch over the first. Spread to cover chocolate pieces and pop into a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. Cool completely before slicing. This is nearly impossible.

The thing about these itty bits of goodness, is that all guilt is erased by the fact that you’re doing a good deed by supporting your local schools. You’re doing something GOOD for others by making these brownies. And eating them.

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Aug 24 Wednesday

More Confessions of an Imperfect Woman

Sometimes, when I get out of the shower, and there are only kid towels around, I have to use a horse or dog hooded towel. So naturally, I put it on my head, pony up and trot around SuperHub while be brushes his teeth. And it’s awesome.

Unless you see a baby’s head crowning, DO NOT ASK A WOMAN WHEN SHE IS DUE. Seriously. Gas, or a batch of raw cookie dough, can give a woman a protruding tummy in no time at all. Bite your tongue.

You know you need to lay off the drive-thru beverages when your 3 year old pulls up to you in her tiny plastic car and orders “A Diet Dr. Pepper and three chocolate milks please!

After giving birth, you may (or may not) freely discuss hemorrhoids while getting your hair cut. Loudly. And think nothing of it.

It took me seven tries to attempt to spell aforementioned hemorrhoids before spell check realized what I was trying to say.

Sometimes I leave the water running while I brush my teeth. And I feel like a rebel.

I can remember the exact order of contents in our medicine cabinet, but I will never figure out which light switch corresponds to which light in our house. It’s like a disco when I turn off lights to go to bed. On, off. On, off. On, off.

I let my 3rd child eat lunch food for breakfast. Because she is the 3rd child.

When my kids cry, because they accidentally bite their finger while eating, I can’t help but laugh. Then they cry harder.

Contrary to popular belief, one can have too much coffee.

People who post pictures of random strangers on social networking sites, then make fun of them, make me (very) angry. Doooood. That was my cousin. Play nice. Karma is a bitch.

When we host houseguests who wear glasses, I don’t stress (as much) about scrubbing the showers. Because you don’t wear your glasses in the shower and therefore won’t see the imperfections. Same theory goes for cleaning to the top of the fridge. Reserved for the occasions that tall people come over for a visit.

Fancy hand soap makes me feel less boring.

I blame the kids every time we lose the channel changer. Whether or not they were the last ones to use it. Because getting up off the couch to adjust the volume would be RIDICULOUS.

I sometimes oooh and ahhh at the cute little ground squirrels in our back yard with the kiddos. But the moment the same ground squirrel starts gnawing on my tomatoes, I fly out of my chair screaming “Get out of here you rascally little varmint!”

Previous confessions: Here, here, here and here.

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Aug 17 Wednesday

Vacation Hangover

It’s back to school time. 

Earlier last week, I would have probably told you that the end of summer makes me very sad. Today, I am going to tell you how HAPPY I am. Not happy, but ecstatic. Beaming. Positively, blissfully content.

Nobody tell my kids this, please, but I have thrown in the little white flag. They can fight, play too many video games and eat as many sugar filled mid-afternoon snacks as they want. I don’t care if all they drink is juice boxes, or if the only vegetable they eat at dinner is carrot sticks.

Our Griswold family vacation last week, depleted my reserve supply of patience and my fun tank. Clark W. Griswold (aka SuperHub) told Cooper (7) at breakfast to “Power through! You’re not tired, nobody is tired!” It was that exact moment, and again a half hour later, as I showered and got the traditional Vacation speech through the curtain (see here) that I decided I was now a passenger on The Crazy Train.

It was later that same day that I realized Sam, our three year old, had mastered her Aunt Edna impression.

So here I am, still on this ride. 

Until Thursday.

Then the proverbial ball is back in Mom’s court.

Structure, structure, he’s our man! If he can’t do it, nobody can!

I am a great mom, three days a week. When we have structure.

Summer is a powerful opponent to normalcy. It’s armed with late nights, Popsicles, nap eating afternoons and of course, heat.

When the school bell rings on Thursday morning, and two of my three critters are safely inside their classrooms, Aunt Edna and I are going to skip home, whistling Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah…Out of our assholes.

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