Monday, September 29

I need coffee in an IV!

In case you ran out the door this morning without checking social media, let me be the first to wish you a very Happy National Coffee Day (#nationalcoffeeday)!

My day doesn't start without a piping hot cup of java goodness (technically, the day starts but I don't). It's sometimes even more important than opening my eyes...yes, I can pour while sleeping. I have O.C.D, Obsessive Coffee Disorder (it maintains my sunny personality).

Naturally, I wanted to devote this post to my beloved hug in a mug (I like big mugs and I cannot lie) and my favorite fictional place...Luke's Diner.

Netflix recently announced the October release of every Gilmore Girl season ("I love you, you idiot!"). While I've seen each episode multiple times, what's one more...or three? Here's a few of my favorite coffee moments.

Okay, who's excited? Who is frantically searching their calendar for a few spare hours...or dedicate to a Netflix marathon? Who is now hoping Netflix still exists in 16 years when you have free time again? I can't be the only one!

Maybe I'll stick to reality and settle with ordering my very own Gilmore Girls mug. I'll close my eyes and envision myself on a stool at Luke's, waiting for a marching band and dancing poodles to stroll by. "Oy, enough with the poodles already!"

Now, I give you permission to go and make another pot.

Enjoy, my hyped-up-on-caffeine friends! It's the one day a year we celebrate your addiction!

Friday, September 26

The Wonderful Whisk-ula ~ Winner!

 **************** Winner ****************
Yep, I fell asleep last night  (and when I say "fell asleep", it's more like slipped into a "frenzied induced coma that a prince couldn't even kiss me out of" sleep. Please pardon my physiological response to life's craziness, I've already reprimanded my body and it promises not to let it happen again!

Having said that, three cheers for the whisk-ula winner!

Barbara J.

Congrats and please email your contact information to receive your prize. Stay tuned for more Favorite Things giveaways!
Since I started this little blog (almost one very short year ago), I've posted a menagerie of my favorite things. From Little Man's favorite book to the world's greatest heel exfoliator, nothing is safe from my quality control gene!

Sharing with you the finer (and extremely useful) things in life has been my them away has been my absolute joy! I've also been so pleased to hear many of you develop the same fondness. It makes me walk a litter taller, knowing our children are happy readers and our heels are crack free!

So here's another one of my new Favorite Things. Are you ready for this? You might want to take a tinkle break (yes, I just typed "tinkle"), excitement makes my Mommy bladder...well, you know!

Cue drum roll...


It's a "whisk-ula". Well, the official name is a Better Batter Tool from Tovolo but whisk-ula is less of a tongue twister. (I can hear my Auctioneer Father now..."Betty Botter bought some batter but she said this batter is bitter"! Eeek, he's talented!)

I received this little gadget goddess as a birthday gift from my dear friend, Brittany. Happy birthday to me! Much like the whisk-ula, I adore her! 

(Photos from Tovolo)
Don't let the official name fool you, it's more than just stirring batter. Smashing bananas will never be the same, mashing potatoes will no longer require that huge tool (that looks more like a weapon than a kitchen utensil). You'll happily grab your universally handy, whisk-ula.

Today, since I haven't done a giveaway in a while, it's Tuesday, and I love ya, I'm giving one away in the color of your choice! (See, aren't you glad you took that tinkle EXCITING!)

Available colors are stratus blue, chili pepper, lime, midnight, fuchsia, orange peel, and purple. (View colors here.) To enter, comment below with your answer to the following question. "What is your favorite day of the week? Wednesday Hump Day? Thank You Thursday? Sunday Rest Day?

Winner will be randomly selected on Thursday. 

Happy registering! You're lucky, I can feel it!

Thursday, September 18

Creamy Corn Dip

I dare say, Fall is on its way! Yippee, happy dance (if you could see me, you'd be totally impressed with my mad Running Man skills)!

What says cool weather, scarves, and boots better than FOOTBALL?

In our house, I'm the cheerleader (who asks all the questions that drives Super Hunk to drink). I also have mad pom pom skills but my toe touch needs work! Super Hunk is the die hard pigskin fan so I cater to him by providing food...lots of yummy, football food.

Today, I'm sharing one of our family favs...Creamy Corn Dip. Easy and perfect for any hungry (or "hangry", depending on the game) crowd.

6 slices of bacon, cooked, cooled, and crumbled
2 cups corn, canned, frozen, or roasted
1/3 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup diced green bell pepper (you can also substitute for green chiles)
4 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons of milk (or more, depending on thickness)
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons salted butter
Salt & pepper to taste

In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat (you can also use grease from bacon). Add onion, bell peppers, and corn to skillet. Stir until coated and let cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in cream cheese and milk until melted. Reduce heat to medium-low (add more milk if too thick).

Drizzle honey and mix until combined (this cuts some of the salty taste).

Sprinkle bacon and stir (reserve some of the crumbles to garnish the top). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Combine with your favorite chip, blue corn is my preference.

Scoop, crunch, and enjoy! I give you permission to skip the chip and go for the spoon!


Tuesday, September 16

Words are important, not text-speak!

I recently received a text message from a college student that was so foreign to me, Japanese would've made more sense. It was full of text-speak, no ACTUAL discernible words! (Yes, I love her enough to correct her.)

For those of you already confused by the term "text-speak", it's what the current generation considers conversation..."IDK" (I don't know), "SMH" (shaking my head), "TBH" (to be honest).

The very same day, I was having a conversation with a twenty-something business professional and the words "selfie" and "cray cray" were used ever so casually. The most disturbing part, my use of the word "reiterate" was bewildering.

Before you think this post is intended to be an attack on our younger generation, hear me out.

Words are important to me. With the increase of electronic communication, there's an entire generation (and possibly many more to come) that are missing a crucial part of correspondence...the power of words. With the correct spelling and usage, words can unlock doors and transport you to places never thought possible.

This might seem "old school" (there's my one slang term for the day) but let me say, I embrace change. I'm capable of adapting to new and fresh. I believe it's possible to achieve adaptation while maintaining an extensive vocabulary. Maybe I should've been a teacher!

My strong position on the subject is my mother's fault (she gets the blame for most of my good qualities). She emphasized the importance of proper written and verbal communication skills and I'm forever thankful. I've had the opportunity to correspond with all walks of life and varying levels of professionals. In every instance, I felt equipped...never once intimidated.

Words are important, not only for others, for yourself. The ability to achieve success with only your words inevitably makes you walk a little taller.

Disclaimer: My son will most likely loathe me later in life. I'm not naïve, I know he'll be fluent in text-speak but he'll also be Oxford English Dictionary educated and equipped. The day those college essays roll around, I'm confident he'll be swinging for the fences! After all, it's our job as parents to make home runs possible.

I'm off to learn a new word and use it in a sentence ten times. Super Hunk would like you to know, he thinks I'm "cray cray"!

Saturday, September 13

Fruity Water

We are a water family...with a splash of iced tea (it's hard to take the southern out of the girl). When Little Man started drinking more than milk, I really tried to refrain from juices with high sugar content (and his belly strongly dislikes them). He never seemed to mind good ol' H2O.

However, as his palette has matured (and his vocabulary) he occasionally refuses water.. Okay, maybe it's his age (hello, two-years-old) more than his taste! He'd turn down a double sugar coated cookie wrapped in cotton candy if it was my idea. Ha!

As any frazzled mother of a toddler would, I improvised and Fruity Water was born.

Select your favorite fruit (or a menagerie), drop in a mini muffin tin, and freeze for a few hours. Pineapple and watermelon are my favorite because they're naturally a bit sweeter. Little Man is a berry...berries...and more berries fan (it's really just berries with a little water).

So delicious! In fact, I think I'll have a glass too.


Thursday, September 11

The Perfect Day for Operation Gratitude

I remember exactly where I was 13 years ago. There are very few moments in my life I recall so vividly.

No matter our differences, once a year, our entire nation comes together for a moment of reflection. One day where we forget the dark and focus on the light, the resilience of this amazing country we call home.

Today is also Thank You Thursday (#thankyouthursday), another day I hold close to my heart. September 11th seems even more momentous this year as my heart is forever grateful for the sacrifices made on that difficult day.

To commemorate all who served and celebrate those still in uniform, Little Man and I chose to take a moment and participate in Operation Gratitude.

While you can send care packages and various other goodies, we decided to write a few #thankyouthursday notes hoping to express our appreciation (and Little Man showed off his mad art skills...he's wearing most of the marker and chewed on the crayons...coloring chaos).

I hope you'll join us in thanking a person in uniform today...military, law enforcement, or rescue. This country would most certainly not be the same without them.

I know this isn't my normal, light-hearted post but a life without gratitude is a life without blessings. Take a moment, write a note!

Tuesday, September 9

S'mores Bars

I was recently cleaning out the pantry and came across a half empty bag of mini marshmallows. Am I the only one that can never seem to use an entire bag? (It's like that HUGE bottomless box of was on sale and I was temporarily insane.)

The quality of the lonely marshmallows were questionable so their fate was sealed. It's too hot outside for a campfire so baking was their last hoorah! Who knew a little decluttering could result in such bliss? 

All I can say is..."you're killing me,s'mores!" 

Ingredients: (Base is the same as the Strawberry Oatmeal Bars)
1 3/4 cups of unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups quick oats (uncooked)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mini marshmallows
Milk chocolate chips

1) Mix first six ingredients until well combined.
2) Press half of prepared dough in greased baking dish.
3) Top with layer of mini marshmallows (notice I didn't indicate a measurement because some of you are super marshmallow lovers and who am I to stop you...go crazy!)
4) Top with layer of chocolate chips (ditto, go double chocolate chip crazy!)
5) Press remaining half of dough on top until your lovely layers form.
6) Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until golden brown and marshmallows are bubbly. Let cool slightly (you still want the gooey deliciousness), cut in squares and serve.

Enjoy...because even the extreme heat can't keep us away from a good s'more!

Monday, September 8

For the love of God & Pageantry!

By Guest Contributor, Terri Montague (Miss America Judge, Fabulous Aunt, and all around sparkly lady.)

Oh, for the love of God AND PAGEANTRY! With the 2014 Miss America Pageant rapidly approaching, it’s time to dust off your tiaras, gather your friends, print those judging ballots, and let the fun begin!  After all – everyone is qualified to judge!
As long as I can remember I've had a love and fascination for the Miss America Pageant. Everyone has a favorite Miss America, mine by far will always be Miss America 1971, Phyllis George.

I'm pretty sure she came up with that “Chicken By George” a while back because she knows how much I love chicken!

From slips and falls during the evening gown competition, to the rambling answers of the onstage question that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, ummm, some people out there ... such as, uh, South Africa, and uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe ... All I can say to Miss South Carolina is “Bless Your Heart”. I love every minute!

I desperately miss Burt Parks belting out – "There she is, Miss America". Burt Parks hosted the Miss America telecast from 1955–1979. While several others have tried – none will ever compare to Mr. Parks.

After several years elsewhere, the Miss America Pageant has finally made its way back to Atlantic City. It started there in 1922, as a bathing suit competition.  Who knew those bathing suits were considered so revealing back in the day? Needless to say, they've come a long way. Some want to take the swimsuit competition out of the pageant, I say leave it alone. It’s how this whole Miss America thing got started and it’s a great incentive to shed a few pounds for those of us watching from the comfort of our couch with a variety of party snacks.

Every girl dreams of dressing up in a fancy evening gown. It’s my favorite part of the competition. From Sherry Hill to Tony Bowles… a crowd you can hear “Oh, I love that” or “that is the ugliest gown I have ever seen". Variety is the spice of life, right? And there is usually a wide range. The Miss America stage never fails to bring some lovely gowns. Here is one of my favorites. Ally is not only wearing one of my favorite gowns but she is one of the most beautiful contestants I have ever judged.

The talent portion can always be tricky. Sometimes it is the longest 1 minute and 30 seconds of your life. Other times, you don’t want it to end.  In my 29 years of judging pageants, I have had a lot of both. My favorite talent was a Miss Texas a couple of years ago that danced to the Cotton-Eye Joe on Pointe. Now that my friends is talent! RAW TALENT (and possibly raw toes)!

The crowing ceremony is literally the grand finale. The looks of shock and appreciation when they are crowned are priceless (and sometimes a little over the top). Seriously, how surprised can you really be? Did you momentarily forget you are competing in a pageant and for the last 10 minutes you've been in the top 5? Oh goodness!

I don't know about you, but I always have a wonderful time texting my friends during another successful year of Miss America. The dresses flow, the talent is fierce, and during the crowing ceremony, the mascara melts. But in the end, a new Miss America is crowned and another girl's dream comes true!

I hope you'll join me for the festivities. Tune in on September 14th and get your ballots ready!

Overall, this is my favorite pageant winner. Anyone recognize her?

Yep, that's me! And my beloved Aunt Terri taught me everything I know!
See you soon, for the sequins!

Thursday, September 4

Gluten-Free Cornbread

I know what you're thinking..."gluten-free?" While my goal is to provide my family with a healthy diet, gluten-free is not usually on the menu.

However, we recently had a family dinner with our lovely Aunt Linda (who is gluten intolerant). She never wants any of us to be inconvenienced by her dietary restrictions but I can't help myself. In my kitchen, it's "no man left behind" when it comes to food!

I was charged with bringing my Mom's famous cornbread dressing (stay tuned for recipe) which is usually made with Jiffy cornbread mix. To accommodate the hostess with the gluten-free mostest, I used the following recipe...and it was delic!

For whatever breakfast...lunch...or dinner you have planned, this is a yummy addition.

Gluten-Free Cornbread (Dedicated to our lovely Aunt Linda)
2 cups cornmeal (preferably organic)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 tablespoon honey (add a little more if you like it sweet)
2 cups (plus 2 teaspoons) whole milk
2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven at 45 degrees. Grease 8"x8" pan. In a small bowl, whisk cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together until combined. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs and milk. Melt butter with honey and pour in egg mixture. With mixer on low, slowly add wet mixture to dry mixture until combined. Pour in pan, bake in oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown (and toothpick inserted comes out clean). Serve warm with LOTS OF BUTTER!

Now, you'll know exactly what Southerners mean when they say "I love you as much as cornbread" (that's A LOT)!

Lovely Aunt Linda, letting Uncle Jerry show the turkey who is BOSS!

For all of you that have the same intolerance to gluten...

Monday, September 1

Dress Up & Show Up

My mother and I recently traveled to celebrate the union of my brother and his new bride (I'll post more about those misadventures later). While sitting in the airport, observing all walks of life, I found myself dismayed.

Remember a time when flying was considered a privilege? It wasn't viewed as a personal bedroom with wings for people to wear pajamas, slippers, and tote pillows.

When did we become so relaxed? So casual?

Sharing my disgust with "Fancy Nancy" (she lives up to her name), out came another profound piece of wisdom that tilted my world on its axis.

Ever so gracefully, she said...

This beautifully polished mother of mine has once again put everything in perfect perspective.  Our appearance is a choice (and many people need full-length mirrors). I wish she could've jumped up and shouted it from the loud speakers that day. It's definitely a message worth sharing!

This will forever stay with me as another one of my favorite bits of Mom's wisdom. I don't know about you but I want people to remember ME, not my yoga pants and bedroom slippers!

Take pride, dress up, and show up (Coco and Fancy Nancy will be proud). I promise, you'll walk a little taller.