Love This…Not So Much


I Will Not Let The Holidays Kick My ….

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 11/12/12 10:58 AM
CATEGORIES: Blog, Faith, Health & Safety, Holidays, Love This...Not So Much

I swear I’ve written this on a mental chalk board a thousand times this past week.  It’s my new mantra and I’m repeating it to myself over and over again, trying to convince the skeptic in me that a chaos free holiday is possible this year. 

I can do this.  I will do this. 

How hard can it be?

Years ago I had it down.  Even the years I was working full time, I figured out a way to get my Christmas house in order.  Decorating (indoor and out) was always done early…but not too early.  Cards were creatively crafted, licked and stamped no later than the 18th.  Presents were bought, organized, and wrapped long before the big day.  And, I loved every second of the business.  It was as if I was dancing a Christmas can-can down my street wrapped in lights and glittering garland, while dribbling an artfully decorated snowball and slam dunking it on Christmas day.

Christmas 2010…I had this down!

 Somehow, last year, things changed.

I’ve found myself dreading dragging the decor boxes out of the crawl space, and the cards…ugh.  Considering last year was the first time I’ve ever had to wrap anything hours before Santa arrived, instead of dancing a Yuletide victory dance, I huddled in the corner with a wine cooler (not even an egg nog) chugging until I collapsed into the fetal position.  Christmas beat me last year. 

This year I’ll do better.

I’m organizing my plan of attack, which translates to realistically prioritizing and accepting my role as the mother to five…three of who are very high maintenance at the moment.

So, I’ve been thinking about what my biggest priority should be and have decided it’s about the way my family feels about the holiday.  What is their take-away? 

I want them to celebrate love this time of year.  Of course, I want them to feel loved every day of their lives, but this time of year is an outward act of love towards those that we hold dear.  It’s about  a time to take solace in the blessings we’ve been given.  Time spent together is critical to my kids understading what our family is all about.  That means pushing some of the doing aside in favor of dwelling in the experience. 

Lofty…Right?

Not really, but there is some reality that definitely comes into play.  Particularly the fact that it’s my job to engineer the entire shindig.  What I’ve learned is that if I’m running around like a lunatic muttering obscenities under my breath about rogue Christmas lights, and burned cookies, the ambiance is affected. 

My mother-in-law is infamous for getting her holiday tasks completed early.  I mean…way early.  In fact, I’m sure her Christmas cookies are already baked, tucked away in her freezer.  I used to wonder why she felt the need to get the holiday chores picked off so ahead of schedule, and now that I have a small tribe under my guise, I get it.  There was a time in her life that she was managing nine children in her house.  Think about pulling Christmas off for nine kids…um…without crying.  Now I can see that her need to check off her shopping in October was actually an investment in her mental health.  Doing holiday chores early is an exercise in self defense. 

Shear brilliance.

So, I have revamped my holiday plan of attack and am getting my ducks in a row earlier than ever.  I started last week by picking off one of my first chores.  My mother-in-law smartly gives me money for each child. My charge is to buy their gifts from her.  She wraps them and gives them on Christmas Eve (I said she was brilliant…right?).  This year, instead of running around last minute trying to get my act together on her behalf, I picked her list off first.  Saturday morning I piled all the gifts in the car, and proudly delivered them to her…on November 10th.  She was giddy.  I was giddier.

Boo-yah.  Score one for the new Christmas Carolyn. 

I realize that the chores of the holidays are not really what the holiday is supposed to be about.  I have also learned that in order to get my family to focus on what the holiday is all about, I need to have my act together.  This year it’s “game on” Christmas. 

I will win…even if it kills me.

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Make sure you tune into 101.5 on Wednesday morning.  I’ll be sharing three do-ahead Thanksgiving day recipes that will ease the chaos of the Turkey Day kitchen and render you a happier chef!

Do you have any tricks to simplifying the holidays?  Do tell.  I’m begging you!

 

 

 

Craftastic Tuesday! A Halloween Treat Bag and Recipe for Halloween Filler…Yum!

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 10/9/12 9:54 AM
CATEGORIES: Glass City Parent, Holidays, Love This...Not So Much

Holy cute! 

That’s all I have to say about Mary Vogel’s latest contribution to Mama on The Fly!  She’s whipped up a darling Halloween inspired treat bag that is so simple to make and is sure to brighten a friend’s day!  MK and I will be making a couple this afternoon!  Enjoy!

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Halloween is just around the corner and I have a simple treat holder to share with you. And a treat to put inside as well, so let’s get to it!

 

Here’s what you need:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 felt squares  – black

1 felt square each of white, orange and yellow

No-Sew fabric glue

Black ric-rac – wide

Ribbon  * See note below*

Black thread and needle

Pins

Tape measure

Scissors to cut fabric

 

*Note: When I got to the step in which to add the ribbon, I realized that the ribbon I had chosen (see above) didn’t work well as the print is not on both sides. Therefore, I changed the ribbon to one that doesn’t have a specific right and wrong side. The ribbon I used looks like this:

 

 

 

To start, fold one piece of black felt in half long-wise. Mark the center with a pin.

 

 

Using the corner of the folded felt as point A and the pin marking the center as point B, place your tape measure from point to point. Run pins along the tape measure. This will create half a triangle.

 

 

 

Cut along the outside line of the pins. Remove the pins and open the felt. You now have one triangle.

 

 

Repeat the process with the 2nd piece of black felt – or use the first triangle as a pattern for the second.

When both pieces are cut into triangles, measure 2 1/2 ” down from the top along the widest side. Cut this area off. This will create 2 triangles that are approx. 9 1/2″ long.

 

 

 

Now grab your three colored pieces of felt. Cut a 3″ wide strip from each. Pin these strips to one of the black triangles, leaving a little space between each color. Orange goes in the middle, white at the tip and yellow at the widest end:

 

 

Cut the ends of the strips even with the side of the black triangle.

 

 

 

Unpin and set the colored pieces aside. Now let’s assemble. Start with one black triangle and apply glue along the long edges. This is what the ric-rac will adhere to:

 

 

 

Repeat along both long edges. You can leave the ric-rac overhang at the top and bottom for now.

Add glue to the long edges of the second triangle and adhere to the first one, sandwiching the ric-rac between the triangles.

 

 

At this point, you should allow the glue a chance to dry before moving on. You can leave it glued, as is, or add some stitching to make the piece more durable. To do this, I threaded a needle with black thread and simply added a few stitches at the points along the sides between the ric-rac bumps like this:

 

 

 

Whip stitch at each ric-rac “valley” (bring your needle up through one side, wrap around to the reverse side and repeat. To get to the next point to stitch, slide your needle between the layers of triangles. This will hide the thread along the way. If you are comfortable with machine sewing, you can also zig-zag stitch along these long sides for even more durability.

 

Once you are finished tacking everything down, if you chose to do so, you can trim off the excess ric-rac at the top and bottom. To prevent it from fraying, rub a little glue along the edges with your finger and allow to dry.

Now we are ready to add our colored pieces. I added these with glue. Be sure to leave space between the strips so some of the black background shows

 

 

Again, allow glue to dry. Our last step is to add a ribbon so you can hang the treat holder. Cut a length of ribbon, about 20″ long. I used this length because I tied a bow at each end but if you prefer to add the ribbon without bows, you can adjust the length of the ribbon to a length that works for you. Once I had tied the bows, I added the ribbon to the top corners and stitched them through all of the layers of the piece. While you can forego the stitching that was suggested earlier, stitching the ribbon in place is a necessity as the glue will not hold as well once you put anything in the treat holder. So add the ribbon with 4-5 stitches in order to secure it to the candy corn treat holder.

 

.

And your project is ready for filling!

 

 

I made a simple Halloween bark to fill mine – here are the directions.

You will need the following:

 

 

At least 1/2 pound white melting chocolate (this picture shows a 1 pound package)

Package of candy corn

Bag of small pretzels

Waxed paper

A microwave safe bowl and spoon

Sprinkles (optional)

You can also add peanuts if you wish – just decrease the amount of pretzels and fill in with peanuts instead!

 

Break pretzels into small pieces in a bowl and add candy corn to the same bowl. I used approximately 3/4 c. of pretzels and a large hand-full of candy corn.

 

Spread a piece of waxed paper on your countertop or a cookie sheet. Place 1/2 pound of chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high power for 1 minute. Stir. There will probably still be some lumps so microwave a little longer – 15 seconds at a time – until smooth. Do not overheat heat or the chocolate will start to break up. Once the chocolate is smooth, you will need to work quickly. Add the pretzel/candy corn mix to the chocolate and stir well to coat. Spread the entire mixture onto the waxed paper. You can add a few additional candy corn pieces to the top, pressing into the bark and add sprinkles, if you wish. Orange sugar works well but I had some yellow cake sprinkles on had so I added those. Allow to cool completely – this works best of you can transfer the waxed paper with the candy to the refrigerator for a short time.

 

Once the candy is set, break into chunks, wrap in plastic wrap and insert into the candy corn treat holder. One batch of candy will make 2 nice sized packages of treats – one for you and one to give away! (To keep the candy from settling to the bottom of the treat holder, stuff the tip with some bunched up paper towels).  You can also add candy bars or other treats to your felt candy corn holder or fill with other goodies. Make one for a special neighbor and hang on their door knob or maybe on your child’s bedroom door Halloween morning.

 

 

All materials to make treat bag were purchased at Hobby Lobby! 

 

To see more Mary’s handy crafts (like this beautiful fall centerpiece) or learn more about her party planning business, visit her at her blog, Petite-Party.net!

 

Ever Heard of Slap Yo Mama Butt Burning Spice? Chili Recipe You Don’t Want to Miss!

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 10/6/12 10:45 AM
CATEGORIES: Blog, Love This...Not So Much

So our plans for Friday night were thwarted by good ole’ Mother Nature.  So, instead of our fall outdoor plans, we opted for a cozy evening inside whipping up one of our favorite cold weather comfort foods! 

Chili!

 

The recipe I use is my mom’s, but I’ve tweeked a bit over the years because I make it in such giant batches that I can vary the beans, and throw in some spice!  (Have I ever mentioned that Sean likes to sweat when he eats?)

A few tips about making a decent Chili! 

 

Chili powder matters!

 

First, chili powder matters.  I used to use the store brand at my local grocery, but recently learned about Penzeys Spices (Penzeys.com).  Their spices are hand mixed with only the best ingredients.  Trust me when I say…it makes a difference.  I like Chili 9000 chili powder.   It’s spicy yet only delivers a teensy bit of heat.  Sean may like it spicy…but I let him doctor his own bowl with whatever he wants.  He knows if he uses this…

 

That folks is Slap Yo Mama Butt Burning Spice! My mom gave it to Sean knowing his passion for spicy foods. Thanks, Mom!

 

He has to sleep on the couch!  (To purchase Slap Yo Mama Butt Burning Spice visit satansbreath.com.  NO…I’m not kidding.)

 

Second…and last tip!  I make this in a huge batch so we eat, and I’m able to get four-five additional dinners out of this culinary effort.  I freeze the chili in quart container Gladware.  Yay me!

 

Chili Recipe

4 lbs ground sirloin

4 cups chopped yellow onion

3 cups chopped green bell pepper

4 cloves garlic – pressed, minced or chopped…whatever

4 16 oz cans chopped tomotoes

2 16 oz cans dark red kidney beans

2 16 oz cans black beans

2 cans yellow corn

2 cans white corn

4 8oz cans of tomato sauce

8 tsp of Chili 9000 powder (or whatever powder you want to use)

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

Brown meat with onions and green pepper.  Drain.  Add rest of ingredients, mix well and simmer (covered) for one hour.  Serve with fixins.  (Cheese, sour cream, oyster crackers, tortilla chips, hot dogs, jalapenos, and of course…Slap Yo Mama Butt Burning Powder…if you want.)

Oh…and serve with a Margarita.  Why?

 

 

Why not?

Enjoy! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love This: Would You Give The Money Back? Salvador Rayas Did!

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 09/13/12 1:16 PM
CATEGORIES: Love This...Not So Much

Not sure if you caught it, but there was a high speed chase in LA yesterday. I know, I know. Not exactly breaking news. Seems that high speed chases are a dime a dozen in LA, but this one was different. Why? Because the four genius’ who were attempting to outrun the twelve cop cars and multiple helicopters chasing them, decided to throw their loot out of their car windows. People watching on television, who realized the chase was taking place in their neighborhood, started to line the streets in an attempt to stuff their pockets with some of the airborn stolen cash. Many were successful.

I happened to catch the clip about this chase on the Today Show this morning. During their story they interviewed a man, Salvador Rayas, whose comments stopped me dead in my tracks. You see, Mr. Rayas, pocketed fistfuls of cash, and promptly turned the money into the police.

Why?

Watch his comments…he’s at 1:50 into the story….

 

 

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

 

Even though I’m sure Mr. Rayas could have used the money, he made an honorable choice and returned it to the rightful owner.  This story caught my eye not only because I love a good old fashioned example of people doing the right thing, but I also have an affection for those that return things they really would rather have kept, to their rightful owners. 

 

So hats off to you, Salvador Rayas.  Thank you for giving me the perfect “teachable moment story” for my kids.  Your mother should be very proud!

 

 

 

Happy First Day (and an HLN appearance!)

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 08/23/12 2:01 PM
CATEGORIES: Love This...Not So Much

First days of school are big in our house.  We’ve celebrated them for as long as I can remember.  Ryan’s first day was extra special.  He was so proud to follow his big brother onto the school bus.

Ryan’s first day of kindergarten, 2002.

And so totally irritated to learn that Sean had followed the bus so he could walk Ryan to his  classroom!

“Go away, Dad!” Ryan, 2002

As the boys have grown they’ve lost their enthusiasm for the first day!   That’s what happens when high school hits.  I’ve tried to make them stand still for a picture, but they’ll have nothing to do with it.  I guess that’s why I threw all my first day excitement at MK this year!  I’ve learned to soak up these special days, as there will come a time when they won’t be so thrilled to head back into the classroom!

So this morning we got up extra special early, as we had quite the to-do list. 

First hair…

with a bow…

Then smiles on the front porch…

There was a lot of excitement as we headed to her new school! 

 

There were old friends to be hugged…

Mary Kate and her long lost school friend reuniting a few days before classes began!

 And new friends to be made…

MK and a new classroom friend, Grace!

I couldn’t be more excited for her to take on the adventures of school.  As a pre-primary student in one of the most innovative school’s I’ve ever seen, I know a world of possibilities lay at her feet. 

So here’s to a new school year!  Let the learning begin! 

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Speaking of Back-to-School….

I’ll be appearing this evening on HLN at 5:15 eastern time to talk back-to-school tips with a national audience.  Tune in or DVR if you can!  I’ll post a link to the appearance below when it’s available

Read the post I wrote for HLN here!