Thursday, April 30, 2009

CPS Card Sketch #113

This is the CPS card sketch for this week and also my version of it. I'm still trying to get half as good at this as some of the other card creators out there, but I am enjoying the process. Plus I need this card for a birthday party on Saturday.


I love the smell of lavender. It's kind of an addiction. I used to grow it, but it attracts tons of bees and Krissy is deathly afraid of bees, so I don't grow it anymore. But I do love finding good sources for lavender products.

My sister brought me this wonderful lavender mist for Easter. I spray in on my pillow before bed and I just love it. I think I was in the middle of opening this gift and telling her she didn't need to bring me presents, until I saw what is was. I than told her she can bring me this...anytime.

If you love lavender too, here's the link for Hillhouse Naturals. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Big 50!

This is a picture of my little (ha) brother Jeff and myself at my surprise 50th Birthday Party three years ago. Now it's time to turn the tables because Jeff is 50 years old TODAY!!
Growing up, Jeff was my best playmate. We played everything together. School, house, war (there's another story here that I might share with you some day), you name it we played it. I clearly remember playing elevator in his closet once. Of course, it wasn't a regular elevator. Our elevator took us all over the world. Strange, but fun.

We used to love to play with my Creepy Crawlers kit. Does anyone remember that? This kit came with brightly colored goop, a heating element and metal molds. You would squirt the goop into the molds and then carefully place the mold in the heating element, where it would cook until it became solid. We would then use the prongs to remove the mold and place in a cold water bath to cool. Then...magically we would have these rubbery bugs...hence the name Creepy Crawlers.
(I actually found images of Creepy Crawlers on Google...unbelievable. Got to love Google.)

They also came out with Flower Power (it made flowers) and Pic-a-doo (it made little pictures). We could play with this stuff for hours and hours. Now in retrospect, I do have to wonder what the hell they were thinking giving a heating element to children as part of a toy. It's amazing we didn't burn the house down. But boy-oh-boy, Jeff and I sure had fun with that stuff.

My favorite Christmas memory includes Jeff as well. I'm not exactly sure how old we were, but clearly old enough to be left alone as Mom and Dad went out one night leaving us alone. Mom left firm instructions NOT to plug the tree lights in. Soon after they left, we naturally plugged the tree lights in and put "Mitch Miller's" Christmas album on the phonograph. If you aren't familiar with Mitch Miller, he had a TV program where the words to the songs would come on the screen with a little bouncing ball so you could sing along at home. Of course, his albums came with sheets of printed lyrics allowing us to sing along. And that's just what we did. All night long we sang Christmas carols. Somehow, we remembered to unplug the lights before Mom and Dad got home, again saving the house from burning down. (I just realized that Mom and Dad owe us a big thank you for saving the house so many times.)
It's easy to see that Jeff is very special to me. He is so integral to many of my wonderful childhood memories and these memories have bound us together over the years, despite our lives going in many different directions.
With all of the best wishes...Happy Birthday Jeff. I love you more than you could ever know.

Monday, April 27, 2009

In Bruges Movie Review

We watched "In Bruges" last night on HBO. Highly recommend it if you haven't seen it. Although, I need to warn you that this is a dark comedy with lots of violence. Think Coen Brothers meets Brussels travelogue. Some of the lines were laugh out loud hysterical with the F bomb heavily sprinkled throughout. Very well acted, written and directed. Colin Farrell's Golden Globe win was well deserved.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Best Movie Sequels

Caity's husband, "What's Up Doc", loves movie sequels. He's kind of become the family authority on sequels including the fact that there are a few sequels that he loves to watch, but will never admit to it. Here's the scenario....let's say, it's late at night and you can't sleep. You turn on the TV and flipping through the channels you come upon Grease 2. What do you do? If you are a normal, everyday person with taste, you immediately turn it off and put on the nearest infomercial. But if you are What's Up Doc, you leave it on and feel a great sense of satisfaction that you were lucky enough to find it.

Under other circumstances, his taste in movies is much better then that, so without further ado, here are the Top 10 Movie Sequels. Well...a little more ado. The sequels on this list are on here because they were better then the preceding movies. This doesn't imply, that the other versions weren't good, it's just that these sequels were really good.

  1. Godfather II

  2. Empire Strikes Back

  3. Terminator 2: Judgement Day

  4. Aliens

  5. The Dark Knight

  6. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

  7. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

  8. Bride of Frankenstein

  9. X2: X-Men United (This might be bounced off after the opening of the new Wolverine movie. It sure looks good.)

  10. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mid-Life Musings

As some of you may know, I am a 50-something mom and grandma (otherwise know as Muma and Oma). This new age bracket has brought many joys (RJ and Baby Aus) as well as many challenges. I could write buckets about the challenges associated with this time of my life. The hot flashes, the joint stiffness, the moodiness, the inability to get a decent nights sleep....see I could go on and on. But, since the point of this blog is to highlight the best of things, I'm not going to focus on that. (I do know I'm not supposed to start a sentence with the word but. Twelve years of Catholic School, weren't entirely in vain. It's just easier to write, the way I talk.) Instead I am going to focus on the good things that have come from being in my 50s.

So, here are some of my favorite things about being in my 50s:

  1. More time - With my kids, mostly out of the house (Stinky is about to turn 17...and other then his general messiness, traffic tickets and occasional attitude issue, he's pretty easy to deal with.) I finally have time to do and think about other things then being a MOM.

  2. A Burst of Creativity - Honestly, don't know where this came from. Never really had it before. My guess is that I was just too busy creating children that everything else got lost. Suddenly, I'm making cards, invitations, Christmas ornaments, cooking, baking and now blogging. I do think this is a natural part of the aging process. I have a very dear friend who after years of neutral tones, painted every room of her house in a different, brilliant color. I think it was her way to express her new and changing inner self. (And so you know, it looks amazing.)

  3. Relaxed Attitude - I find that I just don't care as much about what people think about me. By this point, the people in my life are there because they like or love me and that's all that really matters to me.

  4. Wonderful Girlfriends - I have remarkable and fantastic girlfriends whom I cherish now more than ever. I think I first realized this at Caity's bridal shower. We invited a group of my girlfriends, who are all from different parts of my life, but I have been able to cross-pollenate them, so that they now all know and enjoy each other. Sitting at the table surrounded by these wonderful friends, filled me with such joy and happiness. I realized at that moment how lucky I am to have these women care about me. I'm also lucky enough to still be in touch with a group of girlfriends from High School. How cool is that! Later this month we are having a get together at Miller's (a bar in Dearborn with great hamburgers) to plan out our 35th High School Reunion. Truly amazing and enpowering.

  5. Sage Advice - At this age you find yourself being much more retrospective. I so wish I could talk to my younger self. There's so much I would like to tell her. Mostly, just relax and enjoy the moments. Don't be in such a hurry to have the kids grow up. There will be time to do all the things you want to do. And to all you younger women out there, please cherish all those hormones surging through your body. Revel in them. Be proud of them. Cause you won't believe how much you will miss them when they start leaving you.

Now, if you sat down for a few minutes with my 80-something Mom, I'm sure she'd have different points on her list. Which only means, I'm still not done learning and I'm still not done evolving into my better me.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Bake Off Part 2

The second thing that I baked for Easter were cupcake pops. I got the recipe and instructions from Here is a picture of what they should look like: Aren't they adorable? And such a nice photo too.

Well, mine looked a little different. It wasn't for lack of effort, it just had more to do with the fact that these are kind of hard to make and I'm just not as artistic as I'd like to be.

So, without further ado and with my continual crappy photography, here are mine:

Ugh! I've decided to call mine "Bomb Pops" cause that's what the really resemble. Little bombs. I posted the second picture to let you know..I made a lot of these things. On the up side, everyone said they tasted great.

I do have to admit, they were a lot of work and I'm not sure I'll have the gum shun to make them again, but with every day the fear subsides a bit and who knows, I might jump in and try these again. (Krissy thinks I am borderline insane for even thinking about making these and she might be right, but that's a whole other post.)

And please, visit Bakerella's site to see how these really should look and all the amazing versions she creates.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Top Gear

I've added Top Gear to our favorite TV Shows List on the left. The girls don't watch this, but we watch it at my house every Monday night. It's one program that appeals to all three of us and trust me, we all have very different tastes. It's on BBC America, so you need cable or satellite TV to make it happen. It airs at all different times during the week and we can even watch it on "On-Demand". It is honestly one of the funniest programs on television. It would probably be even funnier if we understood all the British references. I know it's fundamentally about cars, but the 3 characters who host the program are hilarious and the adventures they get into are bizarre and ridiculous. Search it out if you can.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Easter Bake Off Part 1

It was a very busy Easter baking session. I made a Sour Cream Coffee Cake and Cupcake Pops. Each tasted great, but visually....there were some challenges.
First, let's discuss the Sour Cream Coffee Cake. I checked the recipe before going to the store, just to make sure I got all the correct ingredients. In the process, I glanced down and saw this:

That seems OK, as I have a bundt pan. (Can anyone actually say "Bundt" anymore without pronouncing it like they do in My Big Fat Greek Wedding?)

Off to the store I go. As I'm actually making the cake, I finally decide to read the description underneath the pretty pictures of The Right Pan.

Ahhh, it seems a bundt pan isn't the right pan. A tube pan is the right pan and I don't have a tube pan. So I figure, what the heck, I'll still use the bundt pan and just flip it back over so that the bottom is the top, not fully realizing how silly a bundt cake looks upside down. I should have taken a picture before we cut into it. I apologize for that, you would have enjoyed it. Just suffice it to say, it looked very funny, but fortunately, it tasted great!

Lesson learned - Read the recipe before you start to make it!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Card of the Week

This is the CPS sketch for the week and below is my submission. I had to take some liberties with the design as I don't have any flourish type stamps. Will need to get myself some, but I'm trying to stay out of Joann's for a little while.

Sorry about the crooked, crappy scan of the card. Still haven't gotten any better with my little digital camera and I'm rushing this post as my Sour Cream Coffee Cake is just about ready to come out of the oven. (I'll let you know how it turns out.)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

And the Winner is...

The results to the vegetable poll are in and with a rousing 3 votes, Sweet Potatoes wins. So, here's my favorite sweet potato recipe. What I like best about this recipe is that it's done on the stovetop. I've only got one oven (poor me) and for holidays, like Thanksgiving, it's usually full and I don't have room to roast or bake sweet potatoes. This recipe came to my rescue. If you having ham this Easter, these would be a great compliment.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Source: Cooks Illustrated, Nov. & Dec. 2002 Issue

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 large or 3 medium potatoes), peeled and quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices
Pinch of black pepper
(Note: It's important to cut the potatoes into even size slices so they cook at the same rate)

  1. Combine butter, cream, salt, sugar and sweet potatoes in a 3 - 4 quart saucepan; cook covered, over low heat. Stir occasionally, until potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork. 35- 45 minutes.
  2. Off heat, mash sweet potatoes in saucepan with potato masher (I just use my small hand mixer and I've used regular butter and just reduced the salt a bit.) Serve.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

In hopes that Spring will actually arrive here soon I've been thinking about my deck garden. We aren't big gardeners, but all three of us like container gardening (I was going to say pot gardening, but that might get some of you thinking about something else). Our gardens are mostly herb gardens, but we have ventured off and tried some other fruits and vegetables. Some were successful and others...not so much. For example, Krissy and I each had a strawberry plant last year. It only harvested a handful of strawberries throughout the summer, but it's actually a very pretty plant, so I wouldn't mind growing that one again. I also tried green beans and peas. I did get some output, but too small to feed the whole family. If I try that again, I might need to focus on just one of product and use bigger containers.

You might just say, "hey, why not grow a real garden". Very valid point and I might do that some day, when I have a little more time to dedicate to the care, feeding and weeding. For now though, my little deck container garden makes me happy.

Here's our top things to grow in our containers:
  1. Basil - Love, love, love the basil. We put it in salads, pastas and even on sandwiches and hamburgers. It doesn't like direct sun, so I always keep it closer to the house, where it gets afternoon shade.
  2. Parsley - I like the flat leaf parsley and at the end of the season I wash, dry (throughly) and then freeze in ziploc bags. Parsley freezes great and then I have it all winter long. (This same process works if you have leftover parsley from the store. They always sell such huge bundles and this is a great way to avoid wasting it.)
  3. Rosemary - I've got a chicken marinade with rosemary. So fragrant.
  4. Thyme - Lots of uses including another green bean recipe we've been using.
  5. Grape Tomatoes - Easiest tomato to grow. I presume the same could also be said for cherry tomatoes, I just like the grape best. When I get a bunch of them at the same time, I slice them and make a salad with basil, olive oil and shredded mozzarella cheese. It's like an simple caprese salad...kind of.
  6. Regular Tomatoes - I grow a beefsteak type tomato plant every year. I only get a handful of output, but they are without a doubt the BEST tomatoes of the summer.
  7. Mint - Cait likes to grow mint for her homemade mojitos.
  8. Peppers - Krissy grows these every year. She loves to grill sliced peppers marinated in olive oil.
  9. Cilantro - Again this is something Krissy grows. I can't have this around as someone in my household can't stand cilantro. (Pinch up your face and stick out your tongue. That's what he looks like whenever anyone says the word cilantro.) I find this amusing as I'm not even sure what cilantro tastes like and he still likes salsa.
  10. Strawberries - I am going to grow these again this year as RJ loves strawberries and it's nice to go out and pick him a little treat when he comes over. I think I'll get a bigger pot this year and grow a couple of them.

So, come on Spring, hurry up get here already. Heck, it's almost opening day at Tiger Stadium (oh..sorry, Comerica Park).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Looking Forward to Summer!

Snow in April???
I know we get it every year, but it does not help my mood. I thought maybe this will help.

RJ (1 year-old) at Lake Huron

Monday, April 6, 2009

My Favorite Sandwich Shop

I need to tell you that I have an obsession with Potbelly's. I love their turkey sandwich on wheat roll. It's just delicious and it's toasted! I'm not a huge fan of a cold sandwich. So, every time I am out by myself around lunch time, I end up planning my route so I can go by a Potbelly's and when I'm this close...I might as well have lunch. Pick any location in the area and I can manage to find a way to go by a Potbelly's on my way back to the office. There's the one on Woodward, or the one on Crooks or the one on 12 Mile Road. I'm getting pretty good at this little game.
If you haven't tried one, find a way to drive by next time you are out during lunch. You won't regret it. (One day I"ll actually have to try a different sandwiches, but not yet.)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

In Honor of MSU's Victory

Here's one of MSU's youngest fans rooting them on tonight. (I've managed to refrain a whole 2 weeks before posting any pictures of my grandsons. That's some great restraint.)

Baby Aus before his little haircut.

Baby Aus after his haircut.
He's so much happier without hair in his eyes.

Card of the Week #2

Another week and another card sketch over at Card Postitiong Systems. Here's this week's CPS sketch. I found the simplicity of it a little challenging, but finally made a card that I liked enough to submit.

This is the card that I just finished. It's actually Baby Aus' 1st Birthday card which is coming up later this month. I think it turned out kind of cute. The little duck is a new stamp and this is the first time I've had a chance to use it.

One of the things I've realized in visiting CPS, is that there are a ton of people who make cards. I just find this fascinating. It also runs in the family as my Aunt in Texas makes cards as well. I always love receiving cards from her as it gives me more ideas.

Friday, April 3, 2009

American Idol Update #4

I'm a little late on my American Idol Update this week. The only real surprise was that Allison was in the bottom three this week. Which was so totally WRONG!! I think she did a great job with the song, especially the beginning section. The judges mostly ripped her because of her outfit. It was truly an awful outfit, but that shouldn't put her in the bottom three.

Thankfully, she was quickly moved over to the safe side of the house and that just left Anoop and Megan and finally Megan went home. Although very cute (except for the nasty tat on her arm), Megan's appeal really polarized the audience. People either loved her or hated her. I got that she has a real different voice which appealed to a lot of people. To me she's a jazz singer. You know...leaning up the piano kind of winging it through the song, but she never got to perform that way. Clearly though, she was ready to go home to her son. So good bye Megan.

Anoop better bring up his game or he'll be going home next (and I do like him so.)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Best Comedy Movies for the 30-Something Set

If you look over to the left - down a little, you'll see our Favorite Movie list. On that list are a couple of movies that Krissy and Cait made me include. Honestly...Super Troopers??? But I have to acknowledge that there are a group of movies out there that absolutely slay my kids. So, in my efforts to refine the list at the left, the girls (with some spousal input) have created a list of their favorite comedies.

You probably think that's simple. Ahhh, not so fast. It seems there are two types of comedies that they love. For the purpose of this list, there are the Serious Comedies and the Ridiculous Comedies. The Serious Comedies are actually good movies that are very funny and Ridiculous Comedies are movies that you know aren't good, but you can't turn them off or stop laughing at them.

Please note that we are limiting the "Ben Stiller" movies to just one, as most of his movies make Caity (and me) just a little crazy. His characters are so embarrassing that we are very uncomfortable and cannot enjoy the film.

We also had to limit the number of "Judd Apatow" movies. They acknowledge he is a "comedy god", but don't want him over represented on this list. Wow...not too many qualifiers on this list, eh?

Serious Comedies:
  1. The Big Lebowski

  2. Super Bad

  3. 40-Year Old Virgin

  4. Napoleon Dynamite

  5. Something About Mary

  6. Animal House

  7. Ferris Bueller's Day Off

  8. Trading Places

  9. Caddyshack

  10. Little Miss Sunshine

Ridiculous Comedies:

  1. Super Troopers

  2. Euro Trip

  3. Beer Fest

  4. American Pie

  5. Drop Dead Gorgeous

  6. Friday

  7. Boomerang

  8. Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle

  9. Weekend at Bernie's

  10. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Do I even need to say that most of these movies are not appropriate for younger audiences, or is that already implied by their titles?

So...that's the list. Did we miss one of your favorites? We'd love to hear your thoughts?