Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I just finished watching The Today Show segment on "cocktail playdates" and I'm infuriated! If you didn't catch it - see it here:

If you are a level-headed, responsible mother who has ever had a SINGLE GLASS OF WINE in the presence of your children - well, Meredith Viera and "Dr. Janet Taylor and mother of four" have painted you out to be a horribly irresponsible and FAILING "babysitter" who is not fit to parent. Poor and unsuspecting Mommy blogger, Melissa Summers was sucker-punched by the news giant - and it makes me MAD!
(See her side of the story here...

Now I know it has been quite a few years since I was in journalism school - but it seems I remember something about TELLING THE TRUTH as a core principle of journalism? Sure, getting all sides of the story is key - but it was blatantly clear that NBC WANTED this story to be about Mommies jeopardizing their children's safety at play dates - it was obvious - from the leading questions, the obnoxious set decor and camera shots of children appearing within reach of giant wine glasses - disgusting.

I think we all agree - as did the Mommy victim on the set - that excessive drinking while caring for our children - probably not a good idea....but an occasional glass of wine while we socialize with other ADULTS while our children play together? Why not? Case by case basis, I say -- but let's lay down our pitchforks and quit trying to constantly prove how Moms are doing it all wrong. Someone is always trying to make us feel like horrible failures. Whether you work or stay-at-home...whether you have a glass of wine when you are caring for YOUR child...or whether you use Pampers instead of Huggies. SOMEONE - SOMEWHERE will be at the ready telling you what a horrible excuse for a mother you are because of your parenting choices. Isn't that what our kids are for? To tell us later how bad we screwed it up?

I just think these OPINIONS should not be given by a news personality such as Meredith Viera. Present the FACTS and then let your audience form the opinion.

Can't we just all get along? Mommies Unite! And Cheers to that I say! (clink!)

It's 10:17 a.m. - and I"m showered and have makeup on. Today is a GOOD DAY! Tomorrow I might even push my luck and go for blow-drying my hair!
A Weight-Watcher-Friendly Superbowl Party Recipe - ONE POINT per serving!!!

Spicy BBQ Meatballs

POINTS® Value: 1

Servings: 30
Preparation Time: 20 min
Cooking Time: 25 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy

Keep the calories low in this popular hors d'oeuvre by making the meatballs with ground turkey instead of ground beef and by using fat-free barbecue sauce.

1 1/2 pound lean ground turkey
1 cup uncooked quick oats
2 medium egg white(s)
1 large onion(s), finely chopped
1 medium garlic clove(s), chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp beef bouillon granules
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/4 cup barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Combine all ingredients, except barbecue sauce, in a medium-size bowl; mix well.
Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Shape meatball mixture into sixty 1-inch balls; place on baking sheet.
Bake at 350ºF until cooked through, about 25 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a chafing dish or crockpot to keep warm.
Meanwhile, heat barbecue sauce over medium-high heat until hot. Pour sauce over cooked meatballs, toss gently and serve.

Yields 2 meatballs per serving.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Kid Safety: Graco Recalls Contempo Highchairs
The highchair can collapse while a child is sitting in it.
Call Graco at 877-445-1312 or visit for more information.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Monday, January 22, 2007

Stolen from my sister-in-law's blog...

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup super chunky peanut butter
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar (Splenda brown sugar can be substituted)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips (about 6 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Mix in chocolate chips. Using moistened hands, form generous 1 tablespoon dough for each cookie into ball. Bake cookies until puffed, golden on bottom and still soft to touch in center, about 12 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to racks; cool completely.

Recipe From:


This is what Lauren does when Dora comes on the TV. FREAK OUT!

Are your kids picky eaters? Does it seem that if there is good nutritional content, the less-likely they are to eat it? Well hold on to your seats because they've come up with something new. Know that delicious mouth joy we get from a carbonated beverage? Well they've added it to fruit - REAL FRUIT! Apparently Fizzy Fruit takes the water that naturally occurs in fruit and carbonated it -- and it doesn't affect the nutritional value of the fruit. bizarre! But wait - IF I can get my toddler to actually open her mouth to TRY it....this just might be the golden ticket I've been waiting for to get the fruit in! They are found at select Wal-Mart and 7-11 stores nationwide. If it hasn't made it here yet - should be on its way soon. You can read more about this crazy stuff at

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Bear Down Fight Song!

Know what COLTS stands for? Count on LOSING That Sunday!

Z Bones--The Chicago Bears Are The Best Team

Go Bears! Beat Saints! SUPERBOWL-BOUND!!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Put Your Records On

I have to buy this album - NOW! This is my new absolutely favorite artist.

I HAVE to get this girl's album! She is AMAZING!!!
I have never met a pecan-crusted anything I didn't like. So I thought I"d post this recipe I found on the Honeysuckle White Web site ( In all fairness, I need to admit I have not tried this recipe yet - but I will be trying in next week and will post a short review of it at that time. There are quite a few calories per serving, so I'll most likely be altering the recipe somehow to make it a little more diet-friendly. Enjoy!

Pecan Crusted Tenderloin

Servings: 4
Estimated TimesPreparation Time: 00:15Total Time: 00:45

Ingredients1 package Honeysuckle White® Turkey Breast Tenderloins 2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled2 shallots, minced1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil1/2 cup sherry1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon black pepper1 cup pecans, finely chopped1/2 cup bread crumbs

Instructions:Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut each turkey tenderloin in half horizontally to make a thinner piece of meat. Place tenderloin between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a meat tenderizer mallet to an even thickness. Sauté garlic and shallots in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add sherry, salt, pepper and remove from heat Dip tenderloin pieces in the garlic and shallot mixture, covering each side, and then dip into the chopped pecans mixed with bread crumbs. Place the tenderloins on a lightly greased shallow baking pan and drizzle remaining garlic shallot mixture on top. Bake on baking sheet for 30 minutes, or until turkey is no longer pink and reaches an internal temperature of 170°F.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size:
Calories per serving:
Calories from fat
Total fat:
24 g
Saturated fat:
2 g
71 mg
448 mg
19 g
Fiber Carbs:
3 g
Sugar Carbs:
3 g
33 g

Friday, January 19, 2007

Before kids (BK), I was a very brand-loyal shopper. I didn’t buy anything but the brands spending the most ad dollars. Tide, Kleenex, Cottonelle and the like. I would have sooner starved than to have bought a cheap brand, and heaven-forbid a generic! But now that I am a stay-at-home Mom of two children, I find myself compromising my snooty shopping habits to save a buck or two. Now, don’t get me wrong – some things just aren’t worth the savings because – well – they suck. And that’s what inspired me to list a few of the dollar-savers my family has deemed passable, as well as the brands that continue to have our loyalty. Since I look for ways to be cheap in every household category, I thought it best to break it up. This week, I’m listing laundry-related items.

I used to be a Tide-only gal – but I’ve changed my tune for an acceptable knock-off found at Costco. Kirkland brand laundry detergent in the huge container with the spout is a close-enough second to my favorite, Tide. It is available in both a Tide-like container colored suspiciously like the real-thing, as well as a fragrance-free variety. The best part – are you ready for this? UNDER TWELVE DOLLARS!!! I do laundry every stinkin’ day and this thing lasts me a long time! Definitely worth a try.

Now – different detergent for babies, or same soap as the grown-ups? I have friends on both sides of this coin. I think if you are comfortable using regular detergent on your little one without ill effects like rash or hives – then go for it. I usually took precaution the first few months anyway, sucking it up and buying the expensive as hell Dreft. The Target “compare to” brand and All brand wanna-be just didn’t smell as nice and baby-like to me. Now that my baby is over a year, I usually use regular fragrance-free detergent. (See Costco plug above).

Fabric Softener:
I know it is weird, and my Mom always tells me it is unnecessary, but I use both a liquid fabric softener AND a dryer sheet. I like my clothes soft and static-free, what can I say? I have tried off-brands, but Downy still wins it for me every time. So, I watch the Sunday paper for coupons and also visit to see if they have any coupons available for printing. At the time I wrote this, they didn’t – but they will….trust me. You can also check out to find out which stores in your area have the best deal on that product. Just enter your zip code, type in the product you are searching for and Voila!

I will occasionally buy Bounce fabric softener sheets – or even an off-brand. But I don’t mess around with the liquid stuff. I’ve found most off-brands to be too runny or to smell too strong. Costco’s Kirkland brand was a really good knock-off of Downy April Fresh, but they have changed the packaging from a pourable jug to the big ole container with the spout. I don’t like it. It is too hard to pour into the Downy ball – so sorry, Costco. You lose my purchase on that one.

Stain Treaters:

Oh, I’ve gone back and forth over the years between Spray ‘N Wash and Shout – but lately Spray ‘N Wash has my vote. That fairly-new Spray ‘N Wash Dual Power product ROCKS! As their Web site says, “its unique technology combines two different stain fighters in one amazing product! A powerful pre-treater and an oxi stain remover activate when mixed and start to break down and lift stains – right in front of your eyes!”

Yes, it is true. And it smells good, too. And a good smell is important when you spend too much of your time amidst dirty laundry. A good laundry product that smells clean and fresh is definitely important. And the clincher? COUPONS! for LOTS of coupons on LOTS of products without a lot of survey questions and opting out hassle.

I know there are lots of other laundry products out there, but honestly – I don’t use them. My delicates aren’t washed in Woolite – but regular detergent. I don’t use stain pens and all of the other fancy products. Basically just a detergent, a fabric softener (or two) and a stain-treater. That’s enough work for me in the laundry room.

I’d love to hear how your shopping habits have changed since you’ve had kids, as well as the money-saving products you have tried and liked! Please post your comments!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

BRRRRR! It's COLD outside! Here's a Good Housekeeping recipe to warm you up.

Stovetop Chili

YIELDS: About 11 cups or 6 servings
COOK TIME: 35 minutes
TOTAL TIME: About 55 minutes
• 1 tablespoon olive oil

• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 tablespoons chili powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed with garlic press
• 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and minced
• 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes in juice
• 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and each cut crosswise in half
• 3 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
• 1 teaspoon sugar • 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 cans (15 ounces) black soy beans or black beans, rinsed and drained
• Sour cream (optional)


1. In nonstick 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add onion and cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

2. Add chili powder, cumin, coriander, garlic, and jalapeño, and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add tomatoes with their juice, green beans, sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, and 2 cups water; heat to boiling over medium-high heat, breaking up tomatoes with side of spoon. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 25 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Add soybeans and cook 2 minutes longer to heat through. Serve with sour cream if you like.

(Based on individual serving)Calories: 275 • Total Fat: 5 g • Saturated Fat: 1 g • Cholesterol: 0 mg • Sodium: 635 mgCarbohydrates: 45 g • Fiber: 11 g • Protein: 14 g

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Hey! Urbandale Library! Bring back free programming for children under age 2! We attended a wonderful month-long event awhile back geared for this age group and it was fabulous. Song, actions, book, interactive play and social opportunities for both Mom and baby - it was wonderful! Although the staff member wasn't completely in-tune with the abilities of this age group, it was still a fun time. 20 minutes in length usually - just perfect for a busy and curious toddler.

It doesn't have to be every week - but please don't neglect this age group! Story time reading a couple board books? A puppet/board book? A song and book? SOMETHING! The truth is - without a REASON to go to the library, like a scheduled activity on your calendar, I just don't get there. We all miss that.


Ok, I've tried many cookie recipes - and let me tell you - you just CAN'T BEAT the original Nestle toll house chocolate chip cookie recipe. If you haven't tried it in awhile - here it is.

Original Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
Estimated Times: Preparation - 15 min Cooking - 9 min Cooling Time - 15 min cooling Yields - 60 T

This famous classic American cookie is a treat no matter what the age or occasion. Enjoy it with a glass of cold milk.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

Directions:PREHEAT oven to 375° F.COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

PAN COOKIE VARIATION: Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.

SLICE AND BAKE COOKIE VARIATION: PREPARE dough as above. Divide in half; wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Shape each half into 15-inch log; wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.* Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies. * May be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 8 weeks. (Who can DO that?!@#)

FOR HIGH ALTITUDE BAKING (5,200 feet): Increase flour to 2 1/2 cups. Add 2 teaspoons water with flour and reduce both granulated sugar and brown sugar to 2/3 cup each. Bake drop cookies for 8 to 10 minutes and pan cookie for 17 to 19 minutes.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Good Housekeeping Tip:

Always keep several get well cards on the mantle.....

so if unexpected guests arrive,

they will think you've been sick and unable to clean.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


5 tbsp. butter or margarine - melted and divided1 cup crushed cheese-flavored snack crackers¼ tsp. pepper4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves½ cup sour cream

Place 1 tbsp. of butter in an 11x7x2" microwave safe dish and set aside. Combine cracker crumbs and pepper. Dip chicken in remaining butter, then spread with sour cream. Roll in crumb mixture. Place in prepared dish and cover loosely. Microwave on high for 6-7 minutes or until chicken juices run clear. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

From: Quick Cooking Magazine

Monday, January 08, 2007

Could it be TRUE?! Rumor has it that the makers of Andes - (you know those wonderful chocolate mints?) is coming out with a fat-free version! Hot-diggity-dog! Here's hopin' it isn't packed full of calories and that it will actually taste like chocolate. Keep your fingers crossed, ladies!
Thanks to Stacy for sharing this one.

Frozen Fruit Salad

2 cans (20 oz each) crushed pineapple, undrained
2 pkgs. (10 oz each) frozen sweetened strawberries, thawed
1 can (20 oz) fruit cocktail, undrained
1 can (12 oz) frozen orange juice concentrate
1 small can (6 oz) frozen lemonade concentrate
3 medium firm bananas, cubed

Mix it all up, freeze. Thaw for ½ hour before serving, or you can’t scoop it. I split it into 2 or more containers before freezing, otherwise it is pretty big. You can also do indiv. Servings in muffin cups, freeze, and then store remove them from the pan and store in a baggie or Rubbermaid.
According to information on the Starbucks Web Site, Here are 20 Choices Under 200 Calories
(based on a Tall 12 oz. serving)
I don't see my beloved Peppermint Mocha on this list of skinnies. dang.

Hot Beverages

Brewed Coffee
5 calories, 0 fat

Brewed Tazo Tea
0 calories, 0 fat

Nonfat Tazo Green Tea Latte
130 calories, 0 fat

Nonfat Cappuccino
80 calories, 0 fat

Nonfat Caffe Latte
120 calories, 0 fat

Nonfat Caramel Macchiato
170 calories, 1 g fat

Soy Tazo Chai Tea Latte
190 calories, 2.5 g fat

Nonfat Caffe Mocha - Hold the whip
170 calories, 1.5 g fat

Nonfat Sugar-free Vanilla Latte
120 calories, 0 fat

Steamed Apple Cider
180 calories, 0 fat

Nonfat Vanilla Creme
180 calories, 0 fat

Caffe Americano
10 calories, 0 fat


Coffee Frappuccino Light Blended Coffee
110 calories, 1 g fat

Caramel Frappuccino Light Blended Coffee
140 calories, 1.5 g fat

Coffee Frappuccino Blended Coffee
190 calories, 2.5 g fat

Shaken Tazo Iced Passion Tea
60 calories, 0 fat

Shaken Tazo Iced Black Tea Lemonade
90 calories, 0 fat

Nonfat Iced Vanilla Latte
120 calories, 0 fat

Nonfat Iced Caramel Macchiato
140 calories, 1 g fat

Nonfat Iced Tazo Chai Tea Latte
170 calories, 0 g fat

Iced Coffee (with classic syrup)
60 calories, 0 g fat

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A couple months ago, my husband put up with a "scrapbooking weekend" in our basement. That meant that several craft-toting women showed up with snacks, slippers and several hundred pounds worth of gear to invade our home while he watched the girls. Now THAT'S a husband. On the flipside...there IS payback to be had. And today is part of that.

Mark set his alarm clock for 4:45 A.M. this morning (who DOES that?!@#) so he could get out to the garage for some HAM radio time. (go for it, I say - it's still DARK out!). I checked on him at a little after 8 a.m. Now...does this look like a man enjoying a good time in his "man room" or what?!

A ham radio? Check. Coffee? Check. No women/girls allowed? Check.

Agh...I know the feeling of divine solitude (or at least I think I remember it)...and it is absolutely heavenly and recharging for the soul. And that's why I am enthusiastically supportive of his agenda today. (but don't think it's gonna be every weekend, buddy).

Saturday, January 06, 2007

And so it goes....a THIRD generation of Hamburger Helper women...

Already I'm annoying her...and she's not even a pre-teen yet!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Thanks to Cheryl S. for sharing this one!
Taco Bake
1 bag nacho cheese doritos (or generics, of course!)
1 ½ - 2 lb browned hamburger
1 can cheddar cheese soup
½ can water
1 pkg taco seasoning
Shredded cheese
Salsa, Sour cream, all that jazz…

Crush bag of chips –not totally demolish – I just usually break them up a bit. Pour half in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Combine hamb, soup, water and seasoning. Spread over chips. Cover hamb mixture with as much cheese as you like. Then top with remaining chips. Bake at 350 for about ½ hour, or until heated through good. Then top with the good stuff! J
Thanks to Kelly for sharing this one!

Kelly's Famous Greek Chicken

This is so yummy. I'm going to upload it as it read with the caveat that it's a bit difficult to make and eat if you do it with drumsticks. Next time, I'm either going to put the stuffing in regular chicken breasts or wrap a chicken breast and the stuffing inside a puff pastry and bake it. (Also, I couldn't find the sun-dried tomatoes in my grocery, so I just used a regular fat tomato and it was still great. And I don't like red onions, so I used a yellow one.)

Feta-Pesto Stuffing (below)4 chicken quarters (drumsticks or thigh), about 1.5 lbs.1/4 tsp. salt1/8 tsp. pepper2 tbs. lemon juice1 tbs. olive or veg oilFeta-Pesto Stuffing 1/2 cup boiling water4 sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil)1/2 cup crumbled feta chees1/2 cup chopped red onion1 tbs. pesto sauce

Heat oven to 400. Make Feta-Pesto Stuffing (Pour water over tomatoes; let stand for 5 minutes. Drain tomatoes thoroughly and chop. Mix cheese, onion, pesto and tomotoes.) Gently loosen skin from chicken quarters, using fingers. Spread one-fourth of the stuffing between meat and skin of each chicken quarter. Place chicken, stuffing side up, in ungreased rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; drizzle with lemon juice and oil. Bake uncovered about 45 minutes or until juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut.

Number Of Servings: 4
Preparation Time: Less than 15 minutes
This day-ruiner brought to you courtesy of

* Topping any Starbucks beverage with whipped cream will increase the calorie count by approximately 100 and the fat count by about 10 grams!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

New EASY recipe I tried tonight – CHEAP, EASY and YUM!

Taco Cornbread Pizza

1 pkg. corn muffin mix ( I used Jiffy – cheap and the best)

1 lb. ground beef

1 pkg. Taco Seasoning Mix

¾ cup water

1 pkg. shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare corn muffin batter as directed on package; spread into greased 12-inch pizza pan (you could probably use a cake pan if you had to). Bake 8-10 min. or until lightly browned. Meanwhile, brown meat in large skillet; drain. Add seasoning mix and water; prepare as directed on package.

Sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese over baked crust; top w/the meat mixture and remaining 1 cup cheese.

Bake an additional 4-5 min. or until cheese is melted.

I added lettuce and tomato to the top and had sour cream on the table too…but the recipe didn’t call for these things.


Makes 8 servings. Prep time: 15 min. Total time: 30 min.
Not very calorie/fat friendly..but you can use ground turkey or extra lean ground beef...and you can use egg substitute in the corn bread mix. That'll help.