Wednesday, July 01, 2015

You gotta try this! Best Neapolitan Pizza in LA - Midici

14612 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

“The best pizza of my life” is not a phrase I throw out lightly.   I love pizza and even ventured on a journey one year to find the best Pizza in Los Angeles. I ate a lot of slices that year and can tell you, the secret is in the dough.   It’s a matter of preference, but when it comes to artisan pizza, it’s the dough that makes it or breaks it.  (This summer’s current quest: Donuts! Stay Tuned for our review) 

I took my fellow foodie and partner in crime, Mr. Boy to the opening of MidiCi on Ventura Blvd.  My son loves good food, hates sit down restaurants, because they take “forever.”   It’s tough being a foodie when your patience is minimal.   He was too distracted to notice we were in a “sit down restaurant” and sat in awe of the giant olive tree, the giant wood burning ovens, and told me that he felt like we were poolside.   It feels more like you are in someone’s beautiful yard in Italy, than inside a building on busy Ventura Blvd. Everything inside MidiCi is beautiful, comfortable, and you can tell it was designed with love.
We ordered Pizza’s off the menu and customized according to our taste.  We were delighted to find it takes only 90 seconds to cook the pizza, thanks to their wood burning ovens.    Within minutes we were enjoying the most delicious pizza of our lives.  The mozzarella was fresh and the crust was divine, and the best part, it wasn’t soggy.   My big pet peeve is eating pizza and having the toppings slide off a soggy crust.   I could talk for hours about the crust, just trust me, it was perfection.  (Only made with four non-GMO ingredients!)   Everyone around us was buzzing about the Nutella Calzone, so decided to try it for ourselves.   It was amazing, rich, warm Nutella in a calzone with powdered sugar and berries.  

MidiCi is the creation of Amit Kleinberger, CEO of Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt and the result of his love for Neapolitan Pizza and inspired by his time visiting Naples.   We were lucky enough to attend the opening and have already been back twice!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


According to Greek Mythology, Sisyphus, was punished by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, repeating this action forever.

My son is my personal hero.  My son has very painful arthritis yet, for the most part, many folks wouldn't necessarily realize just how sick he is.  He puts on a good show, he hides his stiff hands, masks his pain, and stretches his sore and stiff limbs discreetly.  It affects his everyday life greatly, it takes him a lot longer to do simple things, and he is unable to tie his own shoes anymore.  His hands won't cooperate.
A few weeks ago, he walked into the doctor's office and pronounced he had enough of monkeying around with medications, he looked right at the doctor and said, "Pull out the big guns, I want you to give me your best stuff."

So they did, and Mr. Boy started chemo treatment.  It's been rough, he is exhausted all the time and falls asleep mid sentence sometimes. The hardest part is just when he feels better, it's time for another dose.  He takes it every week and it is beginning to feel like groundhog's day around here.  It's a constant cycle and it's a mental game to keep him going, keep us going, and do it week after week.
The good news is that is working, we see little improvements here and there, and today they could actually see a measurable improvement in his mobility.  We joke that he is Sisyphus, pushing a boulder up a hill all week long and just when he reaches the top and pauses to take a deep breath and enjoy the view, the boulder is back down at the bottom of the hill.  Time to start pushing it back up the hill, but we are hoping one day we can stop pushing that boulder up the hill and enjoy the view at the top of the hill for the rest of our lives.   We have hope for the first time in a long time, and that is a gift, to have hope that we can,  Hang On Pain Ends. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

How to have your own Ultimate Super Mega Summer!

I love summer!  That should be a surprise to no one.  Ever since we had our remodeling summer, I've tried to make a big effort to have a kid friendly summer.  (My kids remember the remodeling summer  as our 'Home Depot Summer", since we pretty much spent all our free time in Home Improvement stores. It was also the summer we were mistaken for being homeless. )

I get this question all the time, "Why do you love summer so much? Don't the kids being home make you crazy?"   and I've had several people ask me how to have their own Ultimate Super Mega Summer.  Here's the truth, my kids make me crazy, but I love not having to pack lunches or waking sleeping children for school a lot more.  When they get a little nutty, I have tricks to distract them.

1.  Have a Routine  
My kids know when they wake up, they have chores to do.  Beds are made, rooms are tidied and they tackle their daily list.   Cereal... it's what is for breakfast every day during the summer.  When the kids were little, I put milk in a tiny plastic pitcher, perfect for little hands to get their own cereal.   Yes, sometimes they make a mess, but it can be wiped up pretty easily, and they know to do it.  My kids also have to do a worksheet or flashcards in the morning.   Once the chores are done, they get a little time with their screens. It's a great motivator!

2.  Make a Summer Bucket List
We make a list of all the things we want to do during the summer on the last day of school.  In my dreams, it's a cute thing we put on our wall, but the reality is it's a piece of paper with my notes on it. Some of the items on our list are super simple, such as "Eat Popsicles!" or "Play Hide and Seek."  Every week we try and pick 2-3 things from it to check off the list.   This year my family made a goal to find the best donuts in Los Angeles, so there are lots of donut shops on the list.

3.  Set out a craft
This was a paper craft, costume wearing is optional.
Every week, I try to have a craft that I leave out.  Sometimes it's simple as a shiny new box of sidewalk chalk.  One week it was watercolors, which I left out on the deck.   Sometimes it's a little more elaborate like these bubbles in a bucket with a lid.   Whenever someone says, "I'm bored" they are told to either work on a craft or grab a bottle of Windex and wash the windows.   I'm not kidding, I hand my kids a bottle of Windex every time they say they are bored.   I haven't heard an "I'm bored" in about two years.  Other activities we've done is a tub of flour for them to dig buried objects in, kinetic sand, playdoh, etc. The key is rotate them week to week.  I have a pinterest board full of this stuff.

4. Have a read aloud book
Every summer I pick a book to read aloud.   You have to find a time that works for you, but for us it's the last half hour of the day before Mr. Man comes home.   We have read the Wind in the Willows, The One and Only IvanFarmer Boy, Ribsy,  and this summer we are reading Harry Potter.  Harry Potter is new for AK, but Mr. Boy is happy to hear the story again.

5.  Have fun!
Summers, like Popsicles don't last forever.  
"...but the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three on them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4, and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in a hurry to get on to the next things: dinner, bath, book, bed.  I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.”-Anna Quindlen

Friday, May 29, 2015

Five Things For Friday - May

1.  Binge watching should be an Olympic sport.   It takes a certain stamina and skill to be able to successfully binge watch TV shows while being mostly functional in your daily responsibilities.   Mr. Man and I have been binge watching Game of Thrones and I've been obsessed for the last few days with "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt".   I'm happy to report that Mr. Man and I completed Game of Thrones in two weeks.  If I really hunker down and ignore my children, I think I can finish The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt by tonight!

2.  I'm exhausted and running on fumes... I think I need to get at least six hours of sleep at night.  See #1.

3.  About a year ago a friend of mine told me about a project she was developing called the "Waste Not Nut."   It's one of those things that sounded interesting but as the week wore on, I kept noticing all the things I would use it for.   It helps you extract all the last bits of your favorite products, and cuts down on waste.   Also, I use it for Mr. Boy and keep his body wash and hair gel primed and ready to go.  His grip is pretty diminished due to the arthritis, so it makes it easier for him to use his products.  I love it and it's a new favorite.   Her product went live on Kickstarter this week, so you'll have to check it out!

4.  We are working on our summer bucket list and I believe this summer our quest will be to find the best donuts in LA.  It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.   One of the things on our list is to visit The Chandelier Tree.  I'm kind of toying with the idea of making a copycat version in our backyard, but it might scare the deer.

5.  Speaking of the deer,  these two babies arrived on the "Back 40." (aka Behind the Back Gate)  The one in front is Lucille (Lucy) and the one in the back who looks like he is scowling at me is BB.   Named in honor of BB King since they were born on the day that he passed away.   They are so cute, fluffy, and they mew like kittens.   I just want to squeeze them so bad, but I am trying to be respectful of their space.  Plus Mr. Man made me promise that I wouldn't try to bring them in the house and raise them as my own.   Boo.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Save your face!

I've never been graceful, I'm pretty sure my brother hogged all those genes along with the dimples.  So a week ago I found myself tripping over my own two feet and falling face first down our back porch stairs.  I was getting ready to head into the office and had that moment where I thought "Oh no! Do I land on my laptop or my face?  Wait, I haven't backed up this week!"   I chose face, which was the wrong choice in retrospect.  I hurt my shoulder and my shattered my phone.

My priorities got a little screwed up and I put saving objects before saving myself.  Can you see why I need "The Year of You, The year of Me"? I actually made an appointment to get a new phone before I made an appointment to get my shoulder checked out.  I actually looked at my dangling arm and said, "That's not so bad.  Holy crap, what am I going to do about my phone!"
When I finally relented that I was hurt I headed into see a doctor only to find that I had dislocated my shoulder.   They couldn't even get me to move my arm into position for an x-ray, the pain was that bad.  They gave me a shot for the pain and most of the rest of the visit is a blur.  I do remember them telling me that to put the shoulder back, the pain would be just like when I was in labor with my kids.  Then I panicked and said, "Wait stop!   I don't do that!  Stop!  I don't do labor!  I adopted!"

Everything happened really fast, another shot and there are people that are holding me tight and in position as the doc slides my arm back into place.   I let out a scream that can only be described as primal and the pain was blinding.  Everything went white for a second.

As soon as I caught my breath I started telling the nurses, "You guys are fools, complete fools for having children.  That was STUPID painful and if you said this pain was like labor, I don't really understand why you would do that to yourself.  Oh my goodness, don't ever get pregnant.  I mean it, that was crazy painful."

I remember saying those things and having the thought, "Wendy, please stop talking.  Really, stop talking.  It's time to be quiet."  I'm pretty mortified that I said that and texted every pregnant friend I know. "You might want to think twice about Labor.  It's crazy painful and I'm pretty sure it's a bad idea."

Obviously, the lesson we learned here is 1.  Do not use your face or body to break a fall.  2.  I get very, very opinionated and chatty on pain medication.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

April Fool's Day - Congrats! You are going to Chore Camp!

It's April Fool's Day!  This year I'm super excited for my kids to get home and see that they got mail.  Good news!  They've been accepted to Chore Camp!  They will get to polish up on their housekeeping skills and even visit other camps to clean while the other campers are out swimming or canoeing.     My favorite part of this is the quote on the brochure from Teddy, Age 10.  "My favorite part of camp was when we got to clean up the mess that the kids in the other camp made while making s'mores."  

You're kids can also get acceptance letters today too!  You can get the brochure here.  I printed mine on Cardstock to really make it seem legit.

This looks like it was a prank back in the day, but everything linking back to it was broken and I couldn't find it on the Disney site anywhere.  So I found a pic of an acceptance letter and created my own.   You can get the acceptance letter here to customize.  Chore Camp Doc here. 

In other news, I can't wait for Mr. Man to open his Basketball bag and realize he only has a pair of AK's frilly socks to wear for his Basketball Game tonight. 
And AK had a little trouble with her cereal this morning as it was frozen into one solid lump!
Happy April Fool's Day to you and yours!   

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Heartwrenching Part of the Last Year

It's been a year since I took Mr. Boy to the doctor for what I thought was Fifth's Disease.  A little over a year since the doctor said, "My spidey senses are tingling, this isn't Fifth's Disease."  She was right and a few days later we were asked to come in to meet with the doctor for the test results.  That was the low point of 2014. 

Inconclusive Auto Immune Disease, resulting in Arthritis, Photo sensitivity, and a fiery red hot cheeks.  He also overheats easily like he has a bad radiator and absorbs zero Vitamin D from his diet or the sun.  We've ruled out the Lupus, Lyme, and a 100 other things.  They say if Mr. Boy is the first to have this illness he will get to name it and it's starting to look like he needs to start thinking up names.

 It's been a year of tests and lots of hospital visits.  The good folks at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital have taken good care of us.   In many ways I feel like we are no closer to figuring this out than we were a year ago.   Some days I wonder if voodoo might be just as effective.  For now, he takes a cocktail of medicine to keep him stable.  At the end of each hospital visit, Mr. Boy is usually asleep in the backseat before I pull out of the parking structure.  I put on my big sunglasses and let the tears fall that I have been holding in all day. 
During these appointments I have to put on a brave face, because I know that he is watching me  and looking for reassurance.  This is not Mr. Boys favorite and he is frustrated too.  He had to retire from sports, he just can't move like he used to.  It's been an adjustment, but he adapts for the most part like a champ.  He still has his bad days and questions "Why Me?"  but can you blame him? 

Another round of testing is on the horizon, Mr. Boy has mixed feelings about this.  Hates the needles, but likes the idea of finding a treatment. I'm in awe with the grace of how he has handled himself.    For now, we are open to any and all suggestions, no matter how far fetched. And as always good thoughts and vibes are appreciated. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Five Things for Friday

1.  I'm obsessed, obsessed I tell you, with the podcast Serial.   It's a podcast that chronicles a murder and each episode makes me come to a different conclusion.   I find every excuse to pop in my ear buds and listen to another episode. I even listen to it while I am walking around the store.  I'm wondering what other podcasts I'm missing, so fill me in on what you are listening to.

2.  We have been fighting over the leftovers of this Lettuce Wrap recipe for the last few weeks.  I have been know to eat these for breakfast on occasion, and they are low carb, fairly low cal, and delish.  I use lean ground turkey breast instead of ground chicken because it's something I usually have on hand. 

3. I just finished the book "The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat" and loved the characters like they were old friends. I laughed out loud on multiple occasions and shed a tear as well.  I didn't want this book to end and kept putting off reading the last few chapters, I just didn't want to see the story end. 

4.  I've got Summer Fever real bad.   A recent trip to the beach and a couple days off school for Spring Break have given me a taste of our summer personas.  I can't stop dreaming of our Ultimate Super Mega Summer IV.    I love that my kids are already thinking about it too and are keeping their eye out for our annual "Summer Read by the Pool Book."  They have also come up with lofty goals for the summer such as "Find the best donuts in Los Angeles."  I'm so completely done with school projects and studying for tests.  I dream of homeschooling, but we all know I'd be the worst at it.  I would totally count watching "Deadliest Catch" as a unit on marine biology and watching The Amazing Race as a geography lesson.  My kids would graduate with a diploma that would only prepare them to compete on a reality game show and would be useless in the job market. So for now, we will stick with traditional education and count down our days until our next "Ultimate Super Mega Summer."

5. For the past few months while I do the dishes and clean up the kitchen I've been putting on the Webisodes of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee."  It has made a tedious chore 100% more enjoyable and it's the perfect thing to watch when you are only 80% paying attention.

Let me know something that you have been loving lately in the comments below. 

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

The Year of You, The Year of Me, The Year of Imagine Dragons

Last month I unveiled my 2015 project "The Year of You, the Year of Me".  A year of focusing on making myself a priority.  When on an airplane, they advise you to put your oxygen mask, and that's what I'm doing here.

The goal is to live my best life in 2015.  I want to seek out adventures, become healthier, and have internal peace.  As soon as I hit publish on my first post, an email popped into my inbox inviting me on my first adventure.   It was almost comical at how instantaneous this was.   Of course, I hemmed and hawed over how I would have to juggle some logistics with the kids.  Mr. Man stepped in and said, "You won't regret this, just do it, after all,  It's the Year of You."
So, I celebrated my official kick off of "The Year of You, The Year of Me" by dropping the kids off at school and meeting up with my pal Cim.  We attended a secret show for one of my favorite bands, Imagine Dragons.   It was amazing, just Cim, myself, and 298 other superfans watching a full concert that was being filmed for an online event. 

For the remainder of the month, I did very "adult things."   I interviewed doctors, set up doctor appointments, and worked with a therapist to forgive my mom for leaving me behind.   I have my first physical in 12 years booked for April and I feel so grown up.   Next thing you know I'll be talking about Metamucil and how my bad knee acts up when a storm is rolling in.

This month, my goal is eating my five fruits and vegetables a day.  Anyone game to join me?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Bad Muchacho

I shouldn't be allowed in public without a chaperone.  Truly, I will do almost anything to amuse myself.  It doesn't matter if I have an audience or not, I just can't help it. 

Recently, this has been exacerbated by a marathon of my favorite show "Impractical Jokers".   They dare each other to do stupid or silly things and make fools of themselves in public.  Somehow, I think I'm their long lost 5th member.

As part of the "Year of You, Year of Me" project, I've been working on getting doctors appointments set up for myself. (aka being an adult)  One thing on the list is to find a real doc for Mr. Man and I.  We've been seeing a doctor who is mediocre, bills us incorrectly, and because his schedule is always full we end up seeing the other doctors in his office.   Most of them graduated from the "Medical School of the Caymans" and regularly seem a little hungover.   They are also terrified to actually write a prescription and love to refer you to a specialist.  "Thanks Doctor, but I'm pretty sure my sinus infection, is not a rare tumor, since you know I had a cold last week and I get the SAME SINUS infection every year around this time.  I'd rather try antibiotics first before a CT scan and seeing an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist."

I mentioned to one of my kid's doctors that I needed a new primary doctor for me and asked for some suggestions.  His big advice was to interview doctors, just like I did with my kids pediatricians.  So I set up interviews and met with three doctors who have a concierge type practice.  One of them is perfect and it's not who I would have chosen initially, but during the interview we hit it off.  Interviewing the doctors was a genius idea.

However, during the  interview with the second doctor,  I could tell pretty quickly he and I were not going to gel.  I decided to abandon the questions I'd prepared and ask him some things off the cuff strictly for my own amusement.

Moi:   We established that you have same day appointments unlike my other doc.  Does this mean I can get my prescriptions at "The Target" like regular folks?  Or will I have to continue to stock up when I go to Mexico?

Moi: This one time I was in Mexico, I had a cough that wouldn't quit, so they gave me a pill called, "The Bad Muchacho."  I swear I didn't even get a runny nose for at least a year after I took it. I was healthier than a horse for at least 365 days.  Do you know if there is an American equivalent?

Moi:  Sometimes I can't afford to take a real vacation, so I take what I call a Valium Vacation.  It's similar to a Staycation, but I just take some Valium and lay in the sun.  Do you think I could get a doctor's note that excuses me from work during that week?

Shockingly, that doctor didn't have any room in his practice to take us on as new clients.  He promised to call when a spot opens up, but I'm not gonna hold my breath waiting around for his call.

Disclaimer: My questions were hypothetical and not an admission of drug use, buying drugs across the border, and/or using Valium for recreational use. I do not advocate taking a Valium Vacation or taking a pill called The Bad Muchacho.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Four Years Ago I Lost My Mom

Sometimes when I need a little extra strength to stand tall, I put on a pair of my Mom's shoes.
Four years ago today, my mom succumbed to Breast Cancer.   It was and is still so hard.  To be completely truthful, my relationship with my mom was complicated.  I loved her, she was my biggest cheerleader, and incredibly optimistic.  She also drove me nuts and my parents had some belief systems that sometimes strained our relationship. With all that being said, I miss her.  I miss her a lot.  

I still want my mom to be here, to be a Grandma, to be my friend, to tell me it's going to be okay.  I had no idea when she died, my family, in a way, would died with her.  My mother is probably horrified at the current state of the family and our infrequent interactions.  (The exception being my oldest brother, who is my best friend.  In spite of the fact that he hogged the dimples and good genes,  I still love him.)

As part of The Year of You, The Year of Me, I vowed that I would dump some of my emotional baggage that I've been hauling around.   I need to confess that while I miss my mom terribly, I have been so mad at her, I could hardly see straight.   I've been stuck in the anger stage of grief and just can't seem to move forward.  

She had Breast Cancer three years before her death and while she had surgery, she chose not to treat it with chemo or radiation.  She chose to go against the advice of her Oncologist.  She gambled and she lost, which resulted in my loss.  I lost my mom, my kid's lost a Grandma, and I lost my family as I knew it. I've been furious with her and her choice.

So, at the beginning of the year I decided it's time to move forward, to let go of the anger and leave my emotional baggage at the curb.  Someone else can have it, I don't need it anymore.   I've been lugging that around for a while now and I'm really tired.   With the help of a therapist I've been able to gain an understanding, a new perspective on my mom's choices.  It hasn't been easy and there have been many tears shed, but it has all been worth it.  

I have a new appreciation for my mom that I didn't have before.  She was a vibrant person whose life wasn't easy.  She spent most of her life swimming upstream while wearing hot pink lipstick.  She made the best of it.  Her Mama Bear instincts are legendary and I vividly remember the principal of my elementary school telling me, "I'm going to have to call your mother, but truthfully she terrifies me." (You can read the infamous Mama Bear story here.)

Last night I dreamed about her for the first time in a long time.  We were floating on rafts and I had been holding on to a rope tied to her raft.   She looked at me, smiled, and mouthed the words, "Let Go."  I hesitated and then she nodded and smiled.  I let go of the rope and she drifted away out of view, while I floated back to shore.  My kids, my husband were all there on the beach waiting for me to return.  

Today, I will celebrate my mom and honor the good things I inherited for her.  I will honor her vibrant spirit, put on some hot pink lipstick, and live my life to the fullest.  Just the way my mom would want me too. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day 2015 - A round up of the awkwardness

Valentine's Day...repeatedly the most awkward day of the year for me.  Need some evidence, you can read my round up of Valentine's Day confessions below.

Valentine's Day in Junior High: A Tragedy .. need I say more?

Probably the most romantic Valentine's Day I have ever had... too bad it didn't involve Mr. Man

 Valentine's Day with someone more awkward than I.

The Valentine's Day that made me realize I never want to have a job that requires me to write "Dearest Schmoopy" on a card. 

Tell me... Love Valentine's Day or Loathe it? Post in the comments below. 

Monday, February 09, 2015

Soapbox: Taming the Laundry Madness aka How I Stopped Sorting Laundry, Lost 20 pounds*, and Became a Millionaire*

Seems like these days, everyone is promoting "Hacks" on their blogs and websites. There are Cleaning Hacks, Parenting Hacks, Breathing Hacks, and every single time I get lured into them by their promising titles.  I'm a sucker, because I want easy answers to my life problems.  *I'm going to be upfront, I didn't actually lose 20 lbs or become a millionaire..... well yet, there's still hope.*   I just didn't think I could post about laundry without a snazzy title and an outlandish claim.  

I have been told on several occasions that I need to share my "Laundry Hack". I'm kind of known around these parts for my unorthodox laundry method.  It all started right after we moved to The Chalet. We were remodeling and finding a dust free spot to organize and sort the laundry was challenging.  One time I actually went out to my car and popped the trunk and started folding laundry out of the back of my car, it was the only dust free place I could find.

My big secret to doing laundry:  Stop Sorting, Use Shout Color Catchers.  The End.

It seemed crazy that I was gathering all the laundry from the hampers in each room, sorting them by color, washing the clothes, and then resorting them by each family member to fold and put away. Too much sorting!  The laundry was already sorted by person, because everyone has a hamper in their room so why not do laundry by person/room and not by color?
So one week I just grabbed Mr. Boys hamper and tossed it in the washing machine without any other laundry. I realized he had hardly any whites, he is a pretty colorful kid. I risked it and threw it all together in the wash using cold water.  When it was done, I grabbed the basket and just walked it over to his dresser and it took just a few minutes to fold  and put away his clothes in the dresser. 
Then I discovered Shout Color Catchers, they absorb any extra dye that might leach from the clothes and make sorting a thing of the past.  I have washed AK's reds and pinks with her ballet whites, and they all come out good as new.  So now I don't sort at all, I wash laundry by each person, or really by each hamper. 
Clean underwear on the head is an optional accessory for doing laundry.
Then I realized with my new method, my children are capable of doing their own laundry so now they load their own clothes in the machine. (I usually hover around at this part because otherwise odd things end up in the washing machine, such as, but not limited to: sporks, chili peppers, Legos, Barbie Shoes or crayons)  We toss in a Shout Color Catcher, some detergent (it's crazy easy for the kids to use those Detergent Pods) and we are good to go.  I usually move it to the dryer and then the kids get their laundry from the dryer to fold and put away.  

Even if I end up folding their laundry it usually takes about 10 minutes to put away their laundry, since it's all being put away in one place.   They aren't the best at folding, but they are getting better over time.  Then once a week I do the random loads, towels, sheets, cleaning rags.  

For me, this method works and has saved me lots of time.   I'm dying to know your best tip (hack) for saving time doing housework... share in the comments below! 

*Disclaimer:   As of publication date, I haven't lost 20 lbs or become a millionaire.   Stay tuned for updates on that front. Nor have I been paid or endorsed by Shout Color Catchers.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

2015 - The Year of You, The Year of Me

I'm late to the game with New Years Resolutions and themes for the year.  I have been thinking a lot about the "Yes Project" I did in 2012.
During the Yes Project,  I tried to say yes more often than no to opportunities that came my way.  The amazing thing is that I ended up doing pretty incredible things.  I repelled thirty two stories down a skyscraper, watched America's Cup in person, met Queen Latifah, and ended up writing for her  website.  It was an incredible year and I am grateful for it.

This year I keep coming back to the idea that this is the Year of Me.   It sounds incredibly selfish but it's really not.   You know when you are on a plane and they tell you in case of an emergency, put on your oxygen mask first, THEN help those around you including children.   This is my intent for the year, putting on my oxygen mask first so I can have enough oxygen to help those around me.

There are some changes I've been thinking about and there is no time like the present to tackle them.
  • I've got some emotional baggage that I'm hauling around that I need to dump.  
  •  I feel better when I'm eating more fruits and vegetables.  I also know I should be drinking more water, it's better for my skin and health.   It also might be time to bid my beloved friend Diet Coke goodbye. 
  • I love hiking and swimming but always put it at the bottom of the list in favor of tackling emails and chores.   Those pesky items can wait.... the hills and the water are beckoning me.
  • It's been about 15 years since my last routine physical and eye exam, it's probably time to get a check up.  
  • I spend way too much time reading about keeping my skin young and fresh and not enough time trying to keep my skin young and fresh.  I'm going to wear sunblock more, drink more water, and actually put on those fancy creams that adorn my vanity. 

I'm sure I'll add to the list as year goes by, but my goal is to take on a new challenge for the month.  For example this month I'm going to make all those appointments I've been putting off.   I'm going to make all my doctor's appointments and book some time with a therapists to get rid of my baggage.

What are you going to do this year during the Year of You!  I want to know and I'd love to have some friends join me as we put on our oxygen masks first.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Fourth Annual Faux-Prah Giveaway

*** Giveaway is now closed and the winner has been notified***
For years my absolute favorite thing to do during the holidays was watching Oprah's Favorite Thing show and watching the ladies get whipped into a frenzy about everything they were getting.  Then I would call one of my friends who absolutely hates the show but watches anyway and we would go over the details.  I would tell her all the things I just HAD to have and she would tell me how many ladies fainted clutching their free loot. 
Now that Oprah is off the air I'm going about building my "Faux-prah" empire.  Which, lucky for you, includes my annual "Faux-prah's Favorite Things" giveaway.  I pick a handful of my favorite things and you get to win them! Hooray!  You can see what was on last years list here, and details on how Faux-Prah got started.
Have you read this book?   It's amazing and I just discovered an abridged Young Adult version of this book.
Mr. Boy is reading it and we are having the best time chatting about it.  I think it's a story that everyone should read.   You can pick to receive the unabridged version or the Young Adult version of the story.

Have you ever made your own Gingerbread? This mix is crazy, as in crazy easy. Mr. Boy always asks to make Gingerbread Men, but  I've always been too intimidated to make Gingerbread.
Last year we received this mix as a gift and it took about two minutes to make and required no chilling of the dough.   The kids had a blast rolling it out and I was so surprised that it made 2 pans full of gingerbread cookies.  I'm handing these out this year as gifts to my friends, because it's a total holiday time saver.  It's an easy way to make holiday memories. 
My family loves Popovers but I can't stand scrubbing the pan after.  I dread baking anything in muffin pans, something always sticks inside those wells.  Someone told me I needed to try out the William Sonoma, Gold Line of Bakeware.  These pans are amazing!   Muffins, cupcakes, popovers and whatever else you cook in them cook evenly and nothing sticks! I love these pans so much and now I want the whole line of gold pans.
To enter the contest, all you have to do is leave a comment in the post below.  You can tell me your favorite things, tell me why you love me, or just say, "Bon Jour".  If you aren't logged in to Blogger, leave me your email address.   To receive an additional entry, you can share this giveaway on Facebook, just leave me a comment below that says you shared it on Facebook.

You have until Monday, December 22, 2014 at 11:59pm.  Winner will be picked via and will have 48 hours to respond.  Winner will be announced Wednesday, December 23rd, 2014.

*Disclaimer: I received zero compensation for this post and zero donations of the items featured on this giveaway.  Nor am I affiliated with Oprah.  This giveaway is simply my gift to my loyal readers who indulge in reading my crazy posts.*

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Everything is better in Costume.

Three years ago I was watching stage production of "White Christmas" with my husbands extended family.  I fell madly in love with the ending as the stage was full of ladies dancing in big red skirts with fur trim.   I leaned over to Mr. Man's Aunt aka Mrs. Aunt and said, "This year I want everyone dressed just like that for our Christmas Eve Dinner."   I was joking, kind of.  I mean I fully believe that everything is better in costume, but I really didn't expect everyone to show up in costume.  So imagine my surprise when I opened the door on Christmas Eve to find Mrs. Aunt and the entire family decked out in full White Christmas Costumes complete with fur muffs. It was the best Christmas Eve and now it's become a family tradition to wear our most festive outfits to Christmas Eve. 
I realized a few days before Thanksgiving that Mrs. Aunt's birthday was just two days prior to the Thanksgiving Extravaganza she was hosting.  The whole family was coming into town to celebrate Thanksgiving and it was going to be one of the largest Thanksgiving gatherings in some time.   One day while running errands it hit me, I needed to do something for Mrs. Aunt, and I knew there was only one thing she would appreciate.  Costumes!  So I cut out Pilgrim collars for 50 plus and a few extra for Baby Roller Hand and even our pets.  (The deer wouldn't cooperate for the picture.. drats) 
The result was glorious! The Pilgrim collars were a hit, well maybe not everyone loved them, but most wore them, because everyone loves Mrs. Aunt. Everyone knew that Mrs. Aunt would love this, and she did. I'm beginning to think that everything is better in costumes. 
Thanksgiving is one of my favorites, Mr. Man has this big family with oodles of cousins.   As for me... I have two cousins... exactly two and I wouldn't know them if I saw them on the street. We ate, we laughed, we had a great time and parted ways.

Unfortunately, the stomach flu was passed around our Thanksgiving table with 53% of the Pilgrims going down over the next four days.  It was much like the first Thanksgiving where plagues were swapped.  I think everyone is finally on the mend, but all this has given me an idea for next years Thanksgiving Costumes.. HazMat Suits! 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Five Things For Friday 11/21/14

 1. We celebrated Mr. Man's Birthday last night and surprised him with a Clan themed dinner.  It was great fun, as we all donned kilts and ate like Kings.   The kids could not contain their excitement about our dinner plans and I'm sure Mr. Man thought we were planning an Epic event with Limos and 600 of his closest friends.  The kids were bursting at the seams wanting to tell him.  Just a handy hint, when ordering supplies for a surprise themed dinner don't use your Guest of Honor's Amazon account on accident.  Oops!

2.  You need to check out the documentary "I am Eleven" which we saw with 11 of our friends on 11/11/14 and got to meet the Filmmaker.  It was such a great movie that really showed our kids just how big the world is and how lucky they are to have what they have.  It also showed me that really most eleven year olds are the same.  I loved this girl in Morocco, while being interviewed  you can hear her mom coaching her off camera, "Tell them we don't have electricity and that we are very poor." She turns to her mother and says, "What?  You think if I tell them that they will connect our electricity?"  Then she rolls her eyes at the camera.   Our group left the screening chatting about the film and it was exciting to eavesdrop on their thoughts.

 3. This is my new favorite tradition.  It's a Shadowbox with a slit on the top that we drop in notes of what we are thankful for.  It was supposed to be leaves instead of paper strips, but I really like my lack of carpal tunnel, so I opted not to spend my evenings cutting out leaves.  It is fun to see the kids get an idea and run over to write something.  Although, it's not always a grateful thought.  Yesterday I spied a note in there that said, "Grateful that my parents are the meanest EVER."

4.   We had a day off from school this week and it made me yearn for days of summer. Those long and lazy days seem so far away from now.  However I will say that I am grateful for our long afternoons.  With Mr. Boy sitting out sports this fall due to some health concerns, we are not running from field to field every day.  Some of our afternoons are long and lazy and we have even been able to squeeze in a movie.  I miss cheering my boy on from the sidelines, but love spending our time at home. 

5.   Can you feel that tingle in the air?   I can feel it too and it can only mean one thing... Fauxprah's Favorite Things is coming to my blog!   I bet you can't wait to see what I picked this year for my picks!  Check back in December to find out what you can win this year!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween 2014!

My darling AK was born half-goth, I'm pretty sure of it.  She has always been in love with the dark side and  villains, so it was no surprise when she announced this summer she wanted to be Maleficent for Halloween.  Truthfully, I loved her costume idea, she makes a pretty fantastic Maleficent. 
I didn't actually sew her costume this year.  It's an assortment of pieces, the horns were purchased from Amazon  and the cape was purchased after I weighed the cost of the fabric and time with making the cape.   The black clothes are from her closet and the stick is from our backyard.   She pretty much hasn't taken the cape or the horns off for the last week.  It's a little alarming to turn around and see this face.  She makes a pretty convincing evil villain.  

For Mr. Boy, he decided he was way too old to dress up, but he came around eventually.  Mr. Boy needed a project and Halloween provided the perfect opportunity for one.   He isn't doing any sports due to his health right now and the afternoons are long for him.   He got really into the idea of designing a really cool scene for our church's Trunk or Treat Party.   
It was easy for him to pick a theme, because he loves nothing more about Halloween than the movie, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!"  So, he got to work designing and drawing some pictures to go along with our theme.  He drew everything and spent hours working on it.  It was the perfect project.
Then he decided he really ought to be Charlie Brown to go with the theme.    I am super proud of him and I think he did a great job. 
As for me, I'm nothing this year.  I just couldn't quite catch the bug, but wow!  Have you seen Mr. Man lately?  He dressed up as Bono!  Skinny Jeans and all.  We've been together almost 20 years and he still surprises me!

 Happy Halloween One and All!   

  If you missed previous years posts and costumes, you can find them here.