Life Hack: The Baby Wipes

March 27, 2015

baby wipes

There was a time when I bought baby wipes in bulk.  Then both my children graduated from diapers and stopped buying enough wipes to clean an army of hineys.  A few months ago a member of our family (who shall remain nameless in order to protect the innocent) had a bout of tummy troubles that resulted in a burn down below.  Things became a bit…shall we say, irritated and inflamed and any time personal business had to be taken care of well, lets just say there may have been gnashing of teeth.  My family needed relief so I took myself to the baby aisle in order to relieve said inflamation.  I decided to step it up a notch and spring for the Burts Bees wipes.  Nothing says I love you and have pity on your burning poop shoot like spending $7 for a small pack of wipes.

This experinece got me thinking: there are so many more uses for baby wipes than just wiping butts.  Here are top 10 uses for baby wipes other than their intended use.

1.  Bathing baby:  Is bathing your baby sweet and precious?  Yes.  Has the Johnson and Johnson baby wash commercial made me weep and seriously consider having another baby just so that I can wash those tiny toes?  Absolutely.  Do they really need to take a bath everyday?  No.  Wipes are perfect for whisking away the neck roll shmultz and the thigh roll grime.  Basically, any place that those precious fat rolls have trapped milk, spit up, poo, and rice cereal; wipes get the job done with out having to submerge your angel in water.

2.  Grimy hands:  I believe that we, as a society, have gone way over board on the hand sanitizer.  However, visibly grimy hands reaching for fruit snacks…I can’t handle it.  Wipes get those hands clean enough for finger foods without annihilating the good germs our bodies need and science experimenting the creation of super germs that are resistant to Clorox.

3.  The car:  Have you ever wiped down your dash, console, steering wheel, gear shift, radio controls with a baby wipe?  It’s miraculous.  It makes you feel like the front seat has been to get the premium detail package at the car wash.  There may be brown banana peels, broken crayons, crushed goldfish, various as sundry plastic kid cups and fruit snack wrappers in the back seat but that’s all out of my line of vision so I’m not too concerned about it.  

4.  Make up removal:  On vacation and forgot your facial cleanser?  No problem.  Just rub a baby wipe all over your face and you’re fresh as a babies…well, you may not want to compare your face to a baby bottom, but you get the point.

5.  After meal clean up: Nothing cleans up pasta sauce from little hands, faces, high chair trays, kitchen tables, kitchen floors, walls, etc. like a baby wipe.  

6.  The bathroom sink:  You know the place where the bathroom sink and the counter meet?  That place seems to attract some sort of toothpaste/hairspray filth that hides from the regular counter cleaning until one day it reaches a critical mass that I hadn’t noticed on my previous swipes.  The baby wipe has just the right thickness and moisture to get in there with your fingernail and scratch it out.  The rest of the bathroom could be a bio-hazard zone, but by-god I’m going to get that crevasse clean.

7.  Adult non-shower days:  There are some days when taking a shower just won’t happen in the AM and that’s okay.  My grandpa only took a shower once a week and never once did any of us grandkids think that he was stinky.  Skipping a shower every now and then is just fine but there are some body parts (that don’t see the light of day) that need a refresher.  Baby wipes take care of that not so fresh feeling and remove multiple layers of deodorant.

8.  Toe cheese:  You know that grime that collects in-between toes after playing in the dirt, sandbox, wearing crocs, etc.?  That’s called toe cheese and it’s gross.  I always say you can sleep better if your feet are clean so give those tootsies a baby wipe once over before sliding in-between the sheets.

9.  Toy wipe down:  As much as I’m tempted to use Clorox wipes on all of the toys, I’m just not sure if bleach is the way to go for things that will go in a toddler’s mouth.  Part of my says yes, bleach the hell out of this crap and if some gets in their mouth then it will clean out the germs in their mouth too!  It’s a two-fer!  Then the other part of me responds with if your kids ends up with some sort of crazy disease or cancer it will be all your fault for letting him get bleach in their mouths.  The part of me that fears obscure childhood disease caused by household products trumps toy germs.

 10.  Arts & Crafts: I can’t speak to the ability of getting Sharpie off the wall (knock on wood, now that I have said it I’m certain someone will need to create a masterpiece in Sharpie on the living room wall) but wipes come in handy in cleaning up all sorts of crafty crafts.  Clay in various colors and markers are currently our art medium of choice and tend to leave their mark on whatever work surface we may be playing on. 

What use have you discovered for baby wipes?

 

Spring into Fashion and Versona Review

March 26, 2015

Versona review

It’s here…spring!  Before we left for our spring break vaycay I had this feeling…a feeling that things would not be the same when I returned from our trip.  And sure enough when I got back there were tiny purple buds on our Red Bud tree, white blossoms all over the “white blossom” bush and my husband was sneezing like crazy.  It happens every year, just when I think I can’t take the cold weather any longer the weather has mercy on us.  More importantly, just when I think I can’t put on another grey sweater and black leggings combo the weather announces that it’s okay to pull out my favorite spring tops.  Thank you sweet Jesus.

Just as I was ready to think about short sleeves and pastels I received a gift card from Versona.  I’ve never been in Versona before and assumed it was just an accessories store.  Boy was I wrong.  The minute I walked in I was assaulted with maxi dresses, sheer tops, flowy skirts and all the jewelry to accessorize them.

Versona review

I didn’t have a fashion friend with me to help me decide so I turned to the next best thing.  Facebook.  I quickly posted pics of some of my choices to get some opinions.  Thankfully, my tribe was quick to respond with which top they liked best.  

Versona review

Versona review

Versona review

 

While most of my friends liked top #2 I decided to go with something different.  Since this was a gift card (ahem, free money) I decided I should pick something I wouldn’t normally get.  I loved top #2 but that was something I would have picked out without the help of social media fishbowl.  I was feeling adventurous, so I came home with 2 flowy tops and hoop earrings.  

This first top wasn’t even in my initial choices.  However, as I browsed the store I knew I needed something that would make a statement.  This red top was it! I am absolutely loving my new style.  I took one of the tops with me on our trip and paired it with white pants, Toms wedges and my new hoop earrings.  The wonderful thing about rayon is that it rolls up and takes up zero space in your luggage, then it releases the wrinkles using the steam from your hot shower.  Tada!

Versona review

 Versona review

 

Oh Instagram, I love you so much.  You should invent eyeglasses with Amaro lenses.  That way everyone will look smooth, bright and kisses by angels all the time; not just in tiny square photos.

When I returned from my trip I realized that 85 degrees and zero humidity is not my reality.  I was able to shop my closet and jewelry drawer and come up with this cardigan from Target. Bam.

Versona review

 

The second top I chose was the kimono style jacket (although it’s not really a jacket but I don’t know what else to call it since it can’t be worn on its own).  This felt like it could go with so many things, and I was right.  Again, I shopped my closet and come up with several fashion options.

 

 Versona review

Versona review

Versona review

I’m in love with this store.  The prices were really reasonable and they had something a little different to spice up my Target wardrobe.  

 

We Must Call Ourselves to a More Noble Civility

March 24, 2015

Oklahoma has been in a rough patch lately.  It seems that every time I turn around our politicians have cooked up some hair-brained shenanigans.  Shenanigans I tell you! Unfortunately, hair-brained ideas like trying to keep Oklahoma homophobic and bringing a snowball into congress make national news and make us all look like buffoons.  Then some idiot kids make some idiot choices and the next thing you know the world thinks that our University is a breeding ground for racists. Week before last was a tough week.

Thankfully, level heads prevail allowing civil dialog and healing to take place.  David Spain (head minister of First Christian Church in Norman, OK) is one of those level heads and always has just the right words to sooth a deep, deep wound.  The following is his sermon from the Sunday after the infamous video went viral.  This may be a long read in an age of instant sound bites, but healing and reconciliation takes time.  Please take time to read, think, process and share.

It has been a difficult week in Norman, to make the most obvious understatement possible.  Eight days ago, the President of the United States, an African American, made a speech from the Edmund Pettis bridge in Selma, Ala. and regardless of where one is politically, that image reminds us that in many ways this country is in a far different place than it was 50 years ago.  And then, only a few hours later, an incident occurred on a bus of all places, the image of which went viral and has reminded us that in many ways we are not in much of a different place after all.

The reactions to what happened on a bus chartered by a fraternity have been powerful and wide-ranging, described by such words as appalling, disgusting, immature and ignorant.  Like the reactions, the responses have been wide-ranging as well and have included anger, grief, fear, cynicism and despair.  There has been a deep heaviness to the week.

Perhaps it happens late at night or early in the morning, or perhaps it happens in a quiet lull in the middle of the day, but at some point in the last eight days, most people have pondered the “why” of it all.  Why is it that for all we know and for all we can accomplish and for all the good we can do, why is it that lurking within individuals or within groups, along with a sense of personal or group identity, there is also the potential to disparage another? 

Why is it that the “other” is so other and differences become so magnified that the other is viewed and/or treated with disdain?  Can one be a true Sooner without despising the University of Texas or the Oklahoma State Cowboys?  Can one be a patriotic American without hating the Russians?  Can one be a loyal Israeli or Palestinian without annihilating the other?  Can one side of the political aisle exist without disparaging the other side?

To look at the human condition, to ponder the question “why”, is to recognize that there seems to be no shortage of ways humans despise one another – race, class, gender, gender-orientation, religion – our destructive energy seems boundless.

To be sure, and this does not make it any better, such attitudes about the other have been around for a long, long time.  Remember one of the comments made about Jesus – “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  That is bigotry of the first order.  Some, of course, would say that our tendencies toward such destructivity can be explained by original sin – that Adam’s sin is still in our genetic code.

Neither personally nor theologically do I believe that; nor do I believe that humans are born racists.  Such attitudes are acquired and reinforced over time.  Evidence suggests we are quick studies where racism is concerned, for something in us does struggle with the other.  But bigotry and racism are not inevitable.  We can be and do better than that.

Having said that, we recognize forces and patterns of life that feed the beast that is bigotry.  Ours is a culture that struggles with, and is in danger of losing, the foundation of basic respect.  Too many news cycles give room for diatribes and basic civility has become a casualty; what passes for entertainment now is too often hewn on the rocks of ridicule, embarrassment and insult.

Compromise has come to be viewed as weakness; ambiguity and the willingness to consider complexity in life is portrayed as a lack of moral character and resolve; and extremism is often portrayed as the only acceptable expression of true belief.  It can certainly be discussed whether or not such attitudes and portrayals of life are the cause or the result of the human condition – that is an important issue not to be resolved here.  But let us at least agree that there exists a toxic relationship and that such an ethos is dangerous.  It simmers, and then it erupts.

In such an environment as this, the recording of a song like what was sung last Saturday night should not surprise us – offend and mortify us, yes.  But it should not surprise.  We live in a time in this world and in these United States that sanctions, supports and finances bigotry.  Whether it is news or entertainment, we are subjected to a steady diet of people being ridiculed, objectified and dehumanized.  There is remarkable culpability.

That these were 18 to 21 year olds is no excuse and is part of the reality.  These are young people educated enough to have been admitted to a very fine university whose vision, purpose and standards are to advance humanity.

Nevertheless, there are young people whose brains are not fully developed, whose emotions are raw and mercurial and given to behavior that, especially when alcohol gets involved, creates a volatile mix.  Let us never, ever make the mistake of empowering this age group to carry any weapon on campus deadlier than their tongues, which as we have seen, is deadly enough.  We must call ourselves to a more noble civility.

Throughout the week, I have tried to measure my emotions and reactions and have at times been quite disappointed.  I have been aware of a too quick knee-jerk blanket statement.  “Well, that’s how fraternities are, we know about that group…well, of course they would respond that way, that’s how they are.”  Such comments are embarrassing and not helpful and do not further civility.

I am also aware of being a white male born in the South, and as such, have been in a place of advantage and power not afforded anyone born otherwise. Living from the perspective of advantage can create a myopic viewpoint and can create a tendency to think that my perspective is the true and right one.  All humans struggle with this, but it is a particular struggle when the societal patterns and structures have benefited some to the disadvantage of others.  I can only imagine what this feels like, to be on the receiving end of a song like this, and I need to remember that.

While these kinds of questions and concerns have been in the forefront this week, the other consideration is of course a religious one.  Does our faith have anything to say here? Can the words spoken from our text, from this pulpit, from this communion table, from this church in any way offer a way forward?  That question leads inexorably to this confession – far too often religion has been part of the problem and has made matters worse.

One aspect of religious history is its wreckage – when splinter groups within the world’s great religions or when at times the essence of the great religions has exhibited hatred, bigotry and violence.  Such cases and periods are well documented, and within the state of Oklahoma as in every other state or nation on God’s world, we are sadly too familiar with the ugly side of religion.  Those who would decry religion as destructive have been given far too much evidence to make their case. As one who is representative of the institution of religion and believe in its importance, I cannot ignore that reality and must always respond from a place of humility and not self-righteousness.

As it relates to this particular text from John’s gospel, it is a tragic irony that this passage rooted in love, redemption and transformation has been used at time to convict, condemn and exclude.  There are reasons for that, not the least of which is the danger of lifting one verse of scripture and forgetting its context.  For many people who grew up in church, John 3:16 is one of the passages that was taught and memorized, and if one did not grow up in church, then it may still be that this verse is known, if only thanks to NFL games in which a poster reading John 3:16 is strategically placed between the goal posts and sure to be televised.  It is a wonderful passage of scripture, best read to include John 3:17: “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

There is an even larger context than verse 17, and it is Jesus’ late night conversation with Nicodemus, a wonderful person of faith who has come to Jesus and face to face has asked him about life and faith and what is most important.  It is toward the end of that conversation that John records Jesus making an obscure but important reference to a time when Moses lifted up a serpent in the wilderness and it was a healing.  The Israelites were in the wilderness and invaded by poisonous snakes.  Moses is instructed to lift up a bronze image of a snake and by looking to it, the people would be protected and healed. 

This is not about idol worship; this is about looking at the very thing that can be one’s downfall, because only by coming face to face with such powerful forces can one be transformed.  Think in terms of our issues with race and bigotry – only by coming face to face with such poison do we have the hope of being transformed.  With that image in mind, Jesus shifts the metaphor and says that hi too is the one to be lifted up, which of course is a reference to the Cross, and is also a reference to the resurrection.  Jesus is the one lifted up and the world is to look on him because he is God’s healing response to hatred and violence and bigotry and evil.

The beauty, the power and the hope of John 3:16 and the story surrounding this wonderful verse, is that God’s response to all that is so destructive in our “human gone wrongness” is not to stay at a distance and condemn; instead, God’s response is to come and live face to face, to risk the vulnerability of a love that calls people to be better, to be transformed,to see one another, and in seeing, to be redeemed.  God comes to a world that is too often rebellious and unrepentant and invites people to look on one another from the perspective of God’s love and live by Jesus.

One writer thinks of it this way: “God does not just deal with this world, but deals with it passionately, loving it and suffering for it. ‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only son to it.’ But this is not logic.  This is passion.  How else would God be willing to part with God’s own son for the sake of us? Nor is this a result of reasoning. It is a risk.  And passion always involves risk, does it not?  But only in risking will there by new discoveries and exciting experiences,” (Choan-Seng Song, Theology from the Womb of Asia, 199).  “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him,” which is to say that God is the God of covenant love, and that kind of love never lets us go.

Volunteering at the Food Bank

March 18, 2015

We are very fortunate to live in a neighborhood with several of Addison’s friends.  His best friend is across the street and another friend is just up the block.  On any given weekend and throughout the summer these boys scooter back and forth between the houses.  A couple of years ago they decided to give nicknames to the houses.  Friend up the street was called “The Wedding House” because it is large enough to have a wedding (not really, but it has a tall entryway with a staircase so I guess they picture a bride and groom defending the stairs).  Best friend’s house was called “The Party House” because it is perfect for a party.  Our house was called…wait for it…”The Mouse House”.  *sigh* Our house is far from the size of a mouse.

Every now and then Addison laments the fact that we don’t have a second story.  The other day we were driving around the older part of town, near the University were all the cute little bungalows that were build in the 40s or earlier are.  Every time we passed a house for sale I would comment what a great house it was and that I thought we should move.  I kept telling him how our house was too big and I was tired of cleaning such a big house and how we should down size.  My goal was to freak him out just a little bit, make him think we might actually be serious about moving and begin to appreciate the abundance we have.

We have had lengthy conversations about what it means to live in poverty, not have enough to eat and what the foster care system is.  We have talked about the fact that there are kids in his school, possibly in his very classroom, who go hungry over the weekend or may not live with their parents and why not.  One of my greatest fears is that he will overlook these children and not feel compassion towards them.  I worry that those living on the fringes throughout his life will be categorized into “not my problem”.  He tends to be self-absorbed (like many 10 year olds) so it is my job to pry him away from himself and his selfish tendencies.  

I’ll take any opportunity that comes up to volunteer with him.  Last week was just one of those chances.  I helped organize a blogger meet up at The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.  Addison and I helped pack boxes of food that would be shipped out that week to the hungry in Oklahoma. In 3 hours we helped box up 34,210 lbs of food into 1,192 boxes that will serve 28,508 meals.  

volunteer at the food bank

volunteering at the food bank

volunteering at the food bank

Mari who blogs at Mari Quite Contrary also brought her son and they helped keep the food line stocked and moving quickly.  

volunteering at the food bank

I’ve met Mae from Mommy Loves Trees before but this time I actually got to talk to her and get to know her a little more.  I’m so glad I did.  It’s so much fun to meet people in real life that you have only known online.  She is a real sweetie.  If you’re looking for ways to get your kids unplugged and outside, check out Mae’s blog.  She has tons of outdoor fun ideas for families.

volunteering at the food bank

Rose Marie from OkRoseRock was another blogger that joined our team.  It’s so much fun to get together with other bloggers, especially when we are doing something good for the community.

Volunteering at the food bank is just one piece of the do-something-for-others pie I’m trying to feed Addison.  I’m not sure how long it will take for the concept of doing something for others without receiving anything in return will sink in, but I’m in it for the long haul.  If you are looking for a way to introduce volunteerism to your kids, your local food bank is a great place to start.  

 

 

For The Love and Thoughts on Bragging

March 15, 2015

For the Love

 

Breaking news…Jen Hatmaker has a new book coming out in August.  

More breaking news…I have the privilege of reading an advance copy.  Here’s how this happened; I was lucky enough to see a post from Jen Hatmaker asking her fans to apply to be a part of the launch team.  Meaning, read an advanced copy of the book then when the time came, blow up twitter and the blogs about how incredibly awesome this book is going to be and tell everyone to get their own copy or regret it forever.  Lots of people applied and then Jen’s publishing team threw 500 darts and came up with the launch team.  By some wonderful insanity a dart landed on my name and I was one of the 500.

In other news…I’m conflicted about sharing this news. When I received the big news that I was selected to be on the launch team I did what every person on God’s green earth, in this post social media world, does when they receive good news.  I ran to Facebook.  I shared my news and my sweet little tribe rejoiced for me.  Not long after that I was doing what every person who should be folding laundry does; scrolling through Facebook. I came across a post from a blogger that was the biggest humble brag I’ve seen a blogger do in a while (it had nothing to do with Jen Hatmaker or her book).  I immediately felt gross, hid the post and started second guessing my good-news-share.  

You see, I have given up on feeling jealous, envious and less-than when it comes to blogging.  Non of those feelings serve a good purpose in anyones life be you a professional in the work force, a working mom, single, married, a stay-at-home mom, a blogger, or stay-at-home-mom-blogger.  I have sent those feelings back from whence they came and refuse to let them have power over me or the things I love, so when I read the humble brag I started to get a little tickley feeling of jealousy.  I started feeling angry at this blogger’s success and the lie that I am not as good tried to take root.  I won’t let that weed grow so as a way to combat those feelings of jealousy when it comes to blogging, I shine light on someone else.  A rising tide lifts all boats and lighting someone else’s candle won’t make mine any less bright.  So when I started to feel that ugly feeling, I began to worry that I may have made other bloggers have the same feeling because of my success and how I shared it.

As all neurotic, overly conflicted bloggers do, I went back to Facebook (I mean where else can society go to share every grievance, for the love!).  I posted my apology:

“I would like to Face-publicly-book apologize if I have ever annoyingly humble bragged. I do not want to be one of those people. If you were annoyed by my announcement about Jen Hatmaker then I am truly sorry. If there is anything else I said that has made you feel less-than or made you roll your eyes, then please accept my sincerest apology.”

Unfortunately, in my attempt to be thoughtful I committed Annoying Facebook Offense #2, the vague-post.  My sweet little tribe thought that someone had been hateful to me. I’m sorry sweet tribe.  No one was hateful to me, I just started over thinking things as I tend to do.  

All of this is to say I’m sorry if my good luck made any other blogger feel jealous.  That’s the thing with sharing good news…when is it just great news and when is it rubbing salt in someone’s wound?  When does someone’s good fortune shine a glaring light on someone else’s misfortune?  When does sharing good news turn into bragging?  No one likes a braggart.

When I was in the workforce, they had us take one of those personality tests so we could learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses and work as a team.  It turns out I’m overly very considerate.  I think of other people’s feelings, how a circumstance will effect others (as well as myself) and consider all the options before making a decision. This must have something to do with my tendency to become conflicted about things like good-news-facebook-posts.

Now that I have gotten all of that off my chest I feel better.  Now I can tell that that Jen Hatmaker’s new book, For the Love, is a revelation.  I can’t tell you too much about it now, all in good time.  But I can tell you that you will want to go ahead and pre-order the book.  Hop on over to Amazon and pre-order it now.  Or wait until it comes out and check back with me as I plan on having a few to give away.

 

De Nigris Balsamic Vinegar Review

March 10, 2015

Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post.  However, all thoughts, opinions, recipes, veggies and friends are my own.

de nigris balsamic vinegar review

Up until recently I thought all balsamic vinegar was pretty much the same. It’s all dark, vinegar-y and makes tasty salad dressings.  Au contraire mon frere’.  My eyes have been opened to what really good balsamic vinegar tastes like, how it can enhance what you are eating and why it is SO much more than just a salad dressing.

I was given a selection of De Nigris vinegars so I could taste test.  I decided to do a balsamic taste test over roasted veggies, caprese salad and vanilla bean ice cream.  I will jump at any excuse to fix yummy food and have friends come over.  Thankfully Christine and Lindsey were available to attend my impromptu tasting.  They were excellent test subjects, provided me with excellent feedback and are super cute to boot.

de nigris balsamic vinegar review

 

de nigris balsamic vinegar review

 

On to the tasting!

De Nigris Balsamic Vinegar Review

de nigris balsamic vinegar review

The first thing I did was make a balsamic reduction using De Nigris Silver Eagle Balsamic Vinegar.  To make a reduction use two parts vinegar to one part sugar.  I used one cup vinegar and 1/2 cup sugar, simmer on medium low heat until reduced by half.  Don’t reduce too much or it will become too thick and turn to the consistency of tar.  (don’t ask how I know that…rest assured that mistake was NOT made using fancy vinegar)

First we started on the roasted veggies.  I roasted rainbow carrots (fancy carrots from Sprouts that come in a rainbow of colors) in the broiler.  Season with salt and pepper then drizzle with olive oil.  I also roasted brussels sprouts (recipe at the bottom of the post)

We had 5 De Nigris balsamic vinegar varieties to taste; White Eagle, Silver Eagle, Bronze Eagle, Gold Eagle and Platnum Eagle.  We all agreed the the White Eagle went best with the roasted carrots.  It had a very bright, vinegar flavor and balanced out the sweet of the carrot really well.

The Gold Eagle did really well on the brussels sprouts.  It had a darker, “smooth” taste and went well with the more mild sprout flavor.  Personally, I loved the reduction on the sprouts the best but we all agreed that the Gold Eagle could make an old shoe taste delicious.  It would be really delicious with olive oil and bread for dipping.  

Next we sampled tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.  It wasn’t a complete caprese salad because the store didn’t have fresh basil but it was still delicious drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Again, I loved the balsamic reduction on the tomatoes and mozzarella but the Bronze Eagle was also delicious.  

We decided that the White Eagle and Silver Eagle would make really delicious salad dressings while the Bronze and Gold Eagle would be delicious on fish or to finish off a filet under the broiler.

Now on to the most beautiful and awe inspiring part of this entire experiment.  Balsamic vinegar on vanilla bean ice cream.  You may be scratching your head, but trust me on this.  With the right vinegar this becomes a transcendental experience.  All three of us felt like we had just been eating sand disguised as ice cream up until now and all agree that we can never eat ice cream with out this nectar of the gods again.  De Nigris Platinum Eagle Balsamic Vinegar.  I don’t know exactly how to describe how delicious this was. The vinegar was thick, sweet and bright but not too sweet.  In fact it seemed to cut down the overly sweetness of the ice cream and bring out the vanilla bean flavor.

de nigris balsamic vinegar review

 

de nigris balsamic vinegar review

de nigris balsamic vinegar review

 de nigris balsamic vinegar review

de nigris balsamic vinegar review

de nigris balsamic vinegar review

How beautiful is that?  You can find De Nigris balsamic vinegar at Wal-Mart or on Amazon.

Here is my recipe for roasted brussels sprouts with balsamic reduction. Enjoy!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Reduction
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Ingredients
  1. 1-2 lbs brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  2. 4 Tbs. olive oil
  3. 1 Tbs. sea salt
  4. 1 tsp. black pepper
  5. 1 Tbs. garam masala
  6. 3 Tbs. brown sugar
  7. 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  8. 1/2 cup sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Combine brussels sprouts, 2 Tbs. olive oil, salt, pepper, and garam masala. Set aside.
  3. In a heavy sauce pan, combine vinegar and sugar. Stir over medium/low heat until simmering. Stir frequently until vinegar is reduced by half. Remove from heat and transfer to a glass container.
  4. Heat remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil in a large pan. Sauté brussels sprouts, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Transfer to a foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle brown sugar over brussels sprouts. Roast in oven for 10-15 minutes or until some edges become brown and crispy, stirring once while baking.
Hugs, Kisses and Snot http://hugskissesandsnot.com/

Is 3 the new 2?

March 5, 2015

When I was little I would sit around with my friends and we would dream what our lives would be like.  Would we be stay at home moms or career women? Would our husband be a tall, dark and handsome Scott Baio type, suave and refined like Ricky Schroder or fair and scrappy like Corey Haim? One thing we all agreed on was that we wanted 2 kids and a dog.  There was always one little girl who would boldly proclaim that she wanted 3 kids.  3 kids?! What in the name of cabbage patch was she thinking?  We all looked at her in wonder and awe, as if the idea of having 3 or more children was a vocation for the very special.  Clearly this was something that “the Lord” “called” her to do, because who would want to have 3?  We secretly prayed that the Lord would not call us to have more than 2 kids, lest we have to answer his call.

Now looky here, I have the 2 kids, a dog and a husband of the Ricky Schroder variety.  We have talked about whether or not we should have a third child but we feel like we have a good thing going here and should leave well enough alone.  One of the reasons we even entertained the thought of a third child is that it seems like 3 is the new 2.  I have several friends who have 3 or more children.  Not that there is anything wrong about that, if you want to be outnumbered, that is just fine…have fun and God bless.  

However, I get this feeling sometimes that I’m not living up to the mom standard because I only have two kids.  Is this just a bi-product of the “mom guilt” and mommy wars” that comes along with everybody airing their business online?  Sometimes I feel like by only having two kids I’m not being a responsible citizen by not contributing to the population of future responsible citizens.  Should I do my part to counterbalance the Duggars of the world? Is having three or more kids the new norm?  Am I the only one who feels this way or are there others out there?  Is this just my own neurosis causing me to make something out of nothing? 

Last weekend I decided to take some time for myself and just sit on the couch a read…all afternoon.  It was glorious.  As I was sitting there with my fuzzy socks and hot tea it occurred to me that if I had a baby or toddler in addition to my two boys, there wouldn’t be much time for lounging around.  My boys are old enough where they can entertain themselves (for the most part) and I can go long stretches (and by long stretches I mean two episodes of Teen Titans Go) without being disturbed.  I actually thought to myself how nice it was that I didn’t have to change any diapers or keep a toddler out of the cabinets.  Is that selfish of me?  Is it selfish to relish in the fact that I don’t have to sooth a fussy baby?  I do get moments of longing for toothless grins, fat thighs and tiny toes but when that happens I find a friend with a baby and snuggle hers.

I love Jim Gaffigan.  He makes me feel good about my decision to stick with two.

 

 

 

 

Uncommon Goods Gift Guide & Giveaway

March 3, 2015

Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post.  However, all thoughts, opinions, ideas and favorites are my own.

uncommon goods gift guide

Just because Christmas is over doesn’t mean we don’t have to think about buying gifts for another 10 months.  Birthdays are a year-round affair and sometimes finding the right gift can be a challenge.  We all have those people in our lives who have everything (ahem…Dad).  What do you buy for the person who prefers to shop at Neiman Marcus?  Or the person who just goes ahead and buys what they want when they see it rather than hint around and wait for a birthday or holiday?  What about the person who likes tailored clothes or 100% cashmere?  Hard to buy for friends and family require a special shopping experience.  Someplace where you can find unique and creative gifts that they will appreciate and know you put thought into finding for them.

Enter Uncommon Goods.  You may have received their little catalog in the mail with all their fun, unique items.  I knew they had cool stuff but I what I didn’t know was what a cool company they are.  Half of what they sell is handmade; move over Etsy.  For those of you who prefer the “made in the USA” label, good news…a majority of their items are mad in the United States.  You can even take a tour of their artist studios should you ever find yourself in Brooklyn, NY.  How cool would that be?  Meeting the artists and seeing their work first hand before it hits the pages of the catalog?  Sign me up! Next time I’m in NYC I’ll make sure to add a tour of the Uncommon Goods studio to my itinerary.

This week I have been browsing their website, and oh my.  There is some seriously cool stuff here.  I’m really digging on this living wall planter. 

uncommon goods gift guide

If I tried to list all of the super cool birthday gift items here this post would get way too long.  Here are just a few of my favorites, but see the rest here.

uncommon goods gift guide

Birth month flower earrings

uncommon goods gift guide

ballpark blueprint

 

uncommon goods gift guide

aquafarm

 

There are also bookoos of personalized gift options.  Everything from subtle to obvious personalization.  See their selection here.

uncommon good gift guide

personalized big bother or big sister book

custom street puzzle

custom street map puzzle

anniversary wine box

customized anniversary wine box

uncommon goods gift guide

custom hometown map key ring

Now for the giveaway!

Enter for a chance to win a $75 gift card to Uncommon Goods!  
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rise & Shine Feature

February 27, 2015

So this happened today…

rise and shine

I was asked by a PR company to plug some products on a local morning talk show Rise & Shine.  All of the products I talked about were for battling cold and flu season which was perfect timing because I really do have a cold right now.  I got to keep this kick ass humidifier for promoting it on the show.  Sweet.  4 years of blogging are finally paying off…in the way of high tech humidifiers, I’ll take it.

 

I’m kinda excited that I got to do this segment on Rise & Shine ever since the other show I was on, Oklahoma LIVE, was canceled.  So, if you are in Oklahoma and just so happen to watch Rise & Shine maybe you could do me a solid and tell them how much you absolutely loved seeing me on the show and can’t wait to see what else I can bring to talk about.

Light Someone’s Candle

February 24, 2015

light someones candle 

Recently I was hanging out with some blogger friends and we were talking about the thing that all of us had in common; blogging.  Blogging conversation always turns to how to get more followers, how to make money blogging, how to make it big, how to go viral; the usual struggles of the small blog life.  We were lamenting the fact that some big time bloggers don’t seem to care enough to help out the little guys or can’t be bothered with reaching out unless a paycheck is involved.  One of my partners in blogging crime said something to the effect of “lighting someone else’s candle won’t make yours any less bright”.  For some reason this hit me like a ton of bricks and has stuck with me.  I can’t control what other people are going to do or not do, but I can control my own actions and reactions.  I knew that I had to stop focusing on me and light someone else’s candle.

In blogging and in life everything can easily turn into “it’s all about me”.  This sentiment is fueled by our need for everything to happen right now thanks to our every shrinking attention span and ever increasing barrage of visual stimulation online and on TV.  We are so used to the instant gratification that social media provides that when we don’t have the desired number of “likes” we wonder what is wrong.  Last week I wrote a post that saw a lot of traffic (for me, anyway) and that was great, but this week I’m back to my normal (some would call them pitiful) numbers, and that’s just fine too.  It can’t all be about me all the time.  Another thing that happened last week was I found myself engaged with a bunch of other bloggers on Twitter through a fluke “reply all” email from a media company.  One of the bloggers has a pretty hefty following but took the time to engage with no-names like myself.  She gave me hope that not all big-time bloggers are snobs but rather just regular people who happen to have followers with the letter “k” after the number.  

Since meeting with my bloggy friends I have seen blogging success in a whole new light.  I have given up worrying about me and instead have turned my focus outward.  Rather than obsess over my own success, or lack thereof, I’ve been focusing on others.  The result: a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  I continue to do my thing and pursue my goals but without the stress of waiting, wondering and wishing.  I trust that my time will come, even if it’s not as quickly as I would like or in the form that I had originally planned.

I want to make things around here more bright so I’m going to light some candles.  These are some blogs I’ve been crushing on lately.

 Marisa Mohi  Marisa is one of my new found bloggy friends and a kindred spirit.  She is a great writer and a contributor to The Lost Ogle (which is nothing to sneeze at).  She has a dry, witty sense of humor and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her in real life as well as online.

The Mom Cafe I have been crushing on Chris for a while now.  She writes about the ups and downs of parenting and how she leans on her faith to get her through the tough times.  I have had the pleasure of knowing Chris as an online friend for a couple of years and I’m thrilled that she recently got picked up by The Huffington Post.  

Mari Farthing  Mari is another blogger friend and my co-conspirator at Oklahoma Women Bloggers.  She and I have gotten to know each other as we work to build a community of women bloggers and I have loved getting to know her in real life and through her writing.

The OK Mamma Kelly is a blogger I recently discovered and am so glad I did.  There is something about her writing that really speaks to me.  She blogs about her family, parenting, faith, fashion, reviews, food, random stuff…pretty much things I blog about.  

Brene Brown – Brene certainly don’ts need me to light her candle, it’s pretty bright already.  However, I’m inspired by what she has to say.  She is the source of my inspiration for my word of the year “be brave” and the quote on the back of my business cards: “Courage: telling the story of who you are with your whole heart”.  

The Unlikely Farm Girl – Carol is brand new to blogging and needs some love.  She is chronicling her adventures living on a farm with her husband, 5 kids and menagerie of farm animals.  Lord help me if I ever have to raise 5 children and wrangle chickens too.