Thursday, February 27, 2014

What I Learned from Walking

Awhile ago I wrote a post about the things I had learned from running. I learned things like:

Running Supposedly Curbs the Appetite  I was hungry before my run. I was still hungry after my run. The only difference was that I was too weak and sore to lift my hand to my mouth. I considered asking my kids to fill a dog bowl with food and set it on the floor so I could crawl over and plunge my face in it, but I was afraid they’d take a picture and Instagram it. Instead, I skipped dinner. That wasn’t a good idea. Later that night, while driving to pick up my daughter from a friend’s house, I hallucinated that I saw armadillos cross the road and I fantasized about eating them. I really should’ve gone with the dog bowl idea.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Pink Zebra Giveaway

Have you ever heard of Pink Zebra? I hadn't until I was recently sent some Pink Zebra products to try. They make home fragrance warmers and sprinkles (scented wax beads) to melt in the warmers. I love, love, love these things! Those of you who know me, know I'm all about smell. I buy everything based on smell - shampoo, lotion, laundry detergent, make-up, soap, everything. I have a crazy-strong sense of smell, and I love how strongly smell is tied to memory. Certain scents just bring me back and make me smile.

So here's how these work: There's a base with a lightbulb that you plug into an outlet. Over this sets a colored liner with a little dish. Then you pick out a decorative shade to go around the unit. Finally (the hardest part), you choose the scents you like. As I write this, I'm enjoying the stress relief mint and eucalyptus sprinkles. I LOVE this fragrance so much! It's a fresh, clean scent that just clears my head. And I really like how the fragrance is strong enough to fill a room as soon as the sprinkles start to melt.

I'm totally going to have to get this wine bottle shade for my kitchen which is painted a wine color and decorated with vines and wine bottles! 

Then I'll need to decide between spiced vanilla, patchouli & sandalwood, pumpkin bread, lavender vanilla, island coconut, coffee buzz, ooey gooey caramel, summer berry medley . . . I could go on and on! In fact, you  can even find recipes for mixing sprinkles to create caramel macchiato, herbed artisan bread, and tons more.

Want a chance to win some great smelling Pink Zebra products to fill your home with delicious fragrance? Browse Lara's Pink Zebra site HERE. Pick out your favorite item and tell me what it is in a comment here to be entered to win 2 jars of your choice of sprinkles. I'll choose 2 random winners on Friday, Feb. 28 who will each receive their choice of 2 jars of sprinkles. Open to residents of the U.S. (Also, if you want more information about hosting an online party and receiving free merchandise, or joining Lara's team and selling Pink Zebra, give her a shout by using the "contact us" tab on her site.)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Way Education Should be (Because Making a Difference for One is Still Making a Difference)

“So, what will I be doing?” I inquired of the principal at the middle school; my new boss.

“You’ll be working with the lowest performing kids,” she answered simply.

I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, but I didn’t want to sound like an idiot by asking her to expound. I figured I find out soon enough as the first day of school was just next week.

Here I am, 2 ½ years later and I now know what she meant by “lowest performing kids.” You see, this principal has a passion for those kids; the ones who fall through the cracks. She’s not cool with letting kids fail simply to teach them the lesson: If you don’t work hard, you’ll fail. She recognizes that there are some kids out there who couldn’t care less if they fail. The only problem they have with dropping out of school at age 16 is waiting until they’re 16. For too many kids, especially the ones I see from low socioeconomic areas, there has been no role model, no advocate for them. They haven’t been taught that there’s value in education.

Suave's Moroccan Infusion Smells Mmmmmmm!

I've always liked Suave products. I like how they work. I like how they smell. And (especially as a single mom to half a dozen kids) I like how inexpensive they are! Believe me, I'm about saving a dime. Coloring my own hair - check. Doing my own manicures - check. Getting second-hand clothes - check. Buying Suave lotion that smells and feels like any other brand out there, but for a fraction of the cost - check!

I've been using Suave's Moroccan Infusion shampoo and conditioner for some time now. I use the one with the Moroccan Argan oil (with the green label on the bottle) because it smells so good! I seriously could sit here sniffing my hair all day. I know, I have issues. Anyway, I was so excited when the people from Suave contacted me and asked if I'd like to try their new lotion and dry body oil. The yummy smell of my hair on my body too?! Yay! I'm digging the dry body oil. It makes my skin soft, but it doesn't feel all greasy or oily. This stuff is going to be great after a day at the beach!

The other things I tried were two new "flavors" of shampoo and conditioner. Suave Natural Infusion with macadamia oil & white orchid moisturizing shampoo. Oh my yum! And Suave Natural Infusion with seaweed & lotus blossom all day body shampoo. I didn't like this one as much. There's a light oil spray that goes with the macadamia oil & white orchid shampoo and conditioner that I love. I use it after I straighten my hair to give it a glossy (not oily) sleek shine. It's gorgeous (if I do say so myself!) There's an all-day body leave in foam in the seaweed & lotus blossom scent. My daughter with fine hair tried this and liked it. She said it made her hair "fluffy."I'm pretty sure she meant that was a good thing. Next, I'm going to try the Awapuhi shampoo basically because I think it's just fun to say "Awapuhi."

Check out the new Suave products at a store near you. (That's another thing I like about Suave - you don't have to go to a special store to find it. It's carried in every grocery and drug store that I frequent as well as Target and Walmart. I love that because I hate making extra stops when I'm running errands.) And leave me a comment here to be entered for a chance to win a package with some of these new products so you can try them out yourself! I'll choose a random winner on Wednesday, February 26.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

If I Were One-Hundred Years Old

Brooklyn recently wrote this at school. The title is If I Were One-Hundred Years Old . . . In case you can't quite read it, it says:

If I were one-hundred years old, I would have wrinkles. I would be in a wheelchair. I would have short hair. I wouldn't have much money. I would shrug and be slow. I would live by myself. I wouldn't go to much places. I wouldn't like to go places. I would try to go to the store and get food. I would have a dog and a cat. I wouldn't have a love. I wouldn't see my grandkids at all. I would have grandkids.

Brooklyn looked at me expectantly as I read her paper. When I finished, I laughed a little and asked her, "You'll have grandkids, but you'll never see them? You won't have a love and you won't go anywhere? That seems kinda sad, don't you think?"

Brooklyn blinked, raised her eyes and spoke very slowly, as if I was a learning-impaired monkey. "Mo-om. I'm ONE-HUNDRED years old! Maybe I would visit my grandkids when I'm EIGHTY, but when I'm ONE-HUNDRED, I'm going to be TIRED." 

I couldn't help but laugh, both because of her reasoning, and because of her expression as she explained to me what I clearly couldn't grasp on my own. "Don't you think you'd want to see your grandkids even if you're one-hundred years old?" I asked.

"Nah, grandkids are too loud. Well, maybe my grandkids could come visit me. For a little bit. But then they'll have to leave because they'll tire me out."

"I guess that's a good plan, Brooklyn."

P.S. Hey Mom & Dad, you might want to come visit your grandkids soon. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Join Margaret at KitchenChat for a Chance to Win!

Grandma, in her clean apron, stands at the stove, stirring a boiling pot, its fragrance fills the kitchen, its steam fogs up the windows. Her daughter pours chilled white wine, the crisp, clear liquid swirling into goblets while she tosses her head back and laughs loudly at the story her brother is telling about the time they shaved the dog when they were 6 and 7 years old. Daughter-in-law sets the table, balancing plates while dancing around the kids darting into the kitchen, chasing each other around the island, and sneaking olives from the relish tray on the counter. Grandpa comes in holding a picture of the shaved dog that he's just pulled out of an old photo album, which triggers another round of laughter. Warm, bread fresh-from-the-oven is set on the table and Grandma calls out that dinner is ready.

My favorite room in any house is the kitchen. It's not because I love to cook (believe me, I don't.) It's because the kitchen is where everyone gathers, where memories are made and relived, and where everyone enjoys each other's company while sharing a meal. That's what my friend Margaret McSweeney's KitchenChat Radio Show is all about. As she says, "Everything always happens in the kitchen." If you don't know Margaret, let me introduce her. She's one of those amazing people who has the ability to put a smile on the face of everyone she meets. She's the kind of person I aspire to be, but alas, people mostly just tick me off. On the other hand, I don't believe I've ever seen Margaret without a smile on her face. Ever. Don't get me wrong; she's not one of those annoyingly happy people you just want to smack. She's just one of those genuine people who everyone loves to be around.

(Here I am with Margaret at Disney's Epcot for the Food and Wine Festival. We had so much fun eating and drinking, sampling all sorts of deliciousness, around the world.)

Margaret insists she's the world's worst home chef. (I've seen the scars from her Thanksgiving mishap a couple years ago!) But that's why she thinks KitchenChat is so much fun. "It's all about food and bringing the best to your kitchen. The chefs know I'm clueless in the kitchen so they're super-patient when I ask questions about stuff like ingredients I can't pronounce! I want to make the culinary experience accessible and non-intimidating for everyone."

On KitchenChat, Margaret talks to famous chefsYou can download her FREE podcasts on iTunes or head over to KitchenChat where you can listen to the podcasts, read her blog posts, and drool over the pictures of delicious food! With titles like these (and many more), you can't go wrong!

Disney Executive Chef Brings Mickey’s Magic to Your Kitchen
Dana Goodyear and Anything That Moves
Cooking Light Magazine, Editor Scott Mowbray
A Chocolate Feast with Eric Lanlard
Robicelli’s: A Love Story, with Cupcakes: And 50 Decidedly Grownup Recipes
At The Family Table with Chef Michael Romano
Truffles and Tribulations – Chef Norman Van Aken’s Culinary Fusion: James Beard and Jimmy Buffett

In fact, you've got to check out her latest experience at Le Cordon Bleu with Chef Suzy Singh. (This one was especially fun for me to see because my son, Austin attends Le Cordon Bleu and loves it!) The event was hosted by NOW foods to showcase their organic and gluten-free product line. If you head over to Margaret's KitchenChat blog and leave a comment, you'll automatically be entered in a fabulous give-away with a bunch of great products from NOW Foods!

Please check out her website! You'll be happy you did!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

How a Bottle of Wine Made me do More Random Acts of Kindness

I pulled my items from the shopping cart and placed them on the conveyor belt in the check-out line - cake mixes, powdered sugar, eggs, vegetable shortening & 2 bottles of wine. The first 4 items were for the birthday cakes I was making for Clayton and Brooklyn who were having a shared birthday party on Saturday. The last item was because it was Friday. Or because it was raining. Or because the moon was out. Or because I was wearing pink shoes. (Really, you can insert any reason, any reason at all, here and it would be accurate.)

A woman got in line behind me and put her purchases on the belt. I noticed the pair of leopard print ankle boots she'd set on the conveyor and commented, "Those are totally cute! Ooooo, they're on clearance too!" praising her sense of fashion and ability to find a bargain.

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