Friday, December 17, 2010
This may be a shock to those of you who are members of what I call "The Cupcake Brigade," those moms who seem to show up to every event with specially crafted homemade goodies, but I had never made doughnuts before. So, when my precious preschooler informed me that he had told his teachers that I would make doughnuts for the Christmas party, I was a little nervous. "Can't I buy doughnuts?" I asked him. "No, you can make doughnuts. It's super easy." I'm not sure where he got his information, but it turns out he's right!
I did a little online research and found that I could use refrigerated biscuit dough instead of cooking from scratch. Since I needed to drop him off at 9 and then magically appear at 11:30 with three dozen fresh doughnuts, I decided this was the way to go. We stopped at Walmart the day before and purchased the biscuits, as well as the frosting and sprinkles of his choosing. We also picked up some vegetable oil, which was on special. The only problem was the candy thermometers were all sold out, and neither my mom nor I had a thermometer that reached the required 375 degrees F. Luckily, that night my daughter had dance in the next town over, and their Walmart had them in stock. Score!
When I got home from dropping off my adorable, pajama-clad preschooler (they had a pajama party the last day of school), I got all my stuff together. I put a cooling rack over a paper-towel-lined cookie sheet, poured the bottle of oil into my deepest frying pan, and opened the biscuits. I basically just stuck my finger through each one to make it look like a doughnut. The hardest part was waiting patiently for the oil to reach 375 without getting impatient and turning it up too high. Once the oil was ready, I just dropped each poked biscuit in, waited for it to turn golden brown, then flipped it with tongs and browned the other side. These things are truly easy to make. Since we wanted them frosted, I had to wait for them to completely cool. Otherwise, I'd have ended up with a glazed effect. I then sprinkled on the pre-approved green sugar crystals, and I was ready to go! These end up looking so much more impressive than they should! If you're like me, a lazy mom who is not crazy about cooking, this is a surprisingly simple treat to whip up for a party, as long as you have the time to wait for the oil to get really hot. (If the oil is cooler, they will take longer to heat, absorb more oil, and end up greasier.)
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylums would be filled with mothers. ~Edgar W. Howe
Anyone out there feel this way? Personally, I love my children being home with me to the point that I'd almost consider homeschooling, but there are those days that I wish there was no one running across the floor so I could get it clean and keep it that way for longer than 10 minutes. Also, there is something to be said for occasional quiet. On a slightly more serious note:
The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet. ~Aristotle
This is one I hope we can all remember tomorrow morning when we're waking up much earlier than we'd like to be waking up. Then we'll need to remember it again each evening as we engage in our nightly battle against homework. So far, the work with the summer math packet has actually been fairly positive, as she's realized that working with mixed fractions is not nearly as difficult as she thought. One day, all this effort will pay off, right? Last but not least:
The simplest schoolboy is now familiar with truths for which Archimedes would have given his life. ~Ernest Renan, Souvenirs d'enfance et de jeunesse, 1883
This quote blows me away when I realize that it was written in 1883, and that all of the knowledge that existed in 1883 is easily obtainable to my children through the wonders of the internet. The vast ocean of knowledge that our children swim in is unprecedented in history. With this great power, of course, comes great responsibility (~Peter Parker). What will my children be able to accomplish with this amazing foundation of knowledge to build upon? It really puts those hours spent correcting math homework in perspective. I don't know about you guys, but I'm really looking forward to the first day of school!
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
The drive down was easy, and this place is a breeze to find. It's located on Cleveland Ave., which is actually just 41, aka Tamiami Trail.
We hadn't been to a Chuck E's in a while, and never at this location, but everything was familiar from our previous experiences dating all the way back to our own Showbiz Pizza days. The only real modernization is the matching UV stamp your family receives at the door, ensuring that your party leaves together.
I had printed out some coupons before we left, but the deals on the menu turned out to be just as good for a small party. We got the Super Savers deal with one pizza, two drinks, and tokens. I forget the price, but it was around $25. The coupon I had included four drinks, which was unnecessary. I did use the coupon for "Buy 60 tokens, get 25 free," so we spent around $40 total for food, drinks and about 100 tokens.
The pizza was adequate. It's not my favorite pizza, by a long shot, but for "fast food pizza," it's pretty flavorful. It is, of course, overpriced for what it is, but that's to be expected at a place like this, I suppose.
DS3 was overjoyed to be at Chuck E. Cheese's. He danced and pranced all around, and generally could barely contain himself. I took him to play a bowling game while we waited for our pizza, and he had fun. After we ate, though, all he wanted to to was play in the tubes. He probably only used 2 or 3 tokens out of all the ones we bought, so Hubby and I took turns watching the tubes while the other went and played some games. I took the baby to the toddler area for a while, but without the ball pit there isn't much he can really do yet. He sat on a few rides, and he seemed to like it, but he'll be able to do more in a few months when he's walking.
After we finally talked DS3 down from his perch, we took our stack of tickets over to the ticket-munching machine. Hubby and I had collected about 600, and DS3 picked out a Toy Story art set, a Tootsie Roll, and a Tootsie Pop. All in all, we had about two and a half hours of fun for about forty bucks, about on par with what we'd spend at a movie. We had a good time, and we're thinking about having a birthday party here next month.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Case in point: reusable shopping bags. I own several of these, and sometimes, when I'm running to Publix with the boys for a midweek grocery refresher, I'll grab a bag on my way out the door and use it for the milk, etc. that I need. However, when it comes to our usual weekly shopping trip, I almost never bring the bags. It has just seemed like a huge inconvenience when I'm already dragging a three-year-old, a baby in a carseat, my purse, my Moby wrap, and a moody protesting tween out to the van.
This week, though, DS3 spent the week listening to Nick Jr. talk about the Big Green Help. He begged me to go online and download the little widget that lets him make green pledges and track them for the year. I did, even though I know he won't have the attention span to keep up with it longer than two weeks. One of the pledges he made was to use reusable shopping bags, so, this week, I made sure to grab them on the way out the door.
I know that I have purchased at least five or six of these things over the past few years, but I could only find two bags from Publix, plus one I got free at Books-A-Million for signing up for a discount card. Okay, I figured, whatever. Something is better than nothing, right? When we checked out, we handed the bags over to the cashier, and we were actually surprised at how much she was able to pack into those three bags. We still needed to use a few plastic bags, but the number of those we needed to bring home and store was significantly reduced. (We do use plastic bags as wastebasket liners in the bathrooms, so we don't feel the need to completely eliminate these.) When we loaded the groceries into the van, we found that the nice, square sides of the reusable bags fit much more easily into the trunk. When we carried the groceries inside, we found the straps of the few cloth bags to be much more comfortable that the ten or more plastic bags we would have had to carry otherwise.
All in all, we are really wondering why we didn't do this sooner. We are pledging to really start remembering to bring these dang things with us when we go to the store. We are going to really use them for our weekly grocery trips, not just when we're running in for three or four items. If you've been a late adopter like us, I strongly encourage you to give these bags a try this week. It's not just better for the planet. It's better, period. We are not the greenest family on the block, but this is a switch that is just a no-brainer. If only we had realized sooner...
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Today, my friend and Party Lite consultant Morgan Carroll is coming over to throw a candle party at my house. In honor of this, I looked for some candle quotes for my fellow candle lovers. I found some really nice ones, as candles are not only lovely in and of themselves, but also make a lovely metaphor.
A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.
Burn not thy fingers to snuff another man's candle.
Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.
--William Arthur Ward
How far that little candle throws its beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.
It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.
I think these are all great, and I'm having trouble choosing a favorite this week. Which do you think is most uplifting?
Friday, March 12, 2010
The school board has been quoted as hoping that a private event could be held. In other words, they are cancelling the official prom and hoping that some bigoted parents will put up the funds to sponsor a prom that better suits their sensibilities. Constance is sure she would be excluded from such an event. I'd be willing to bet she's right. I have never been to Itawamba County, but based on the quotes I've been seeing, I'd be willing to bet that no LGBTQ students will be invited. I might even be willing to wager that only straight, white, Christian students would receive invites.
My daughter will be attending middle school next year, and that means school dances. We teach her continually about bullying and the importance of bystanders. I would be ashamed to send her to a school-related event that purposely excluded a segment of the school population like this. I'm sure that she would never dream of attending a segregated prom of any sort. My hope as a parent is that each of my children can grow up to love, marry, and go to prom with whomever they choose. To have to watch my child be treated as a second-class citizen in the country I love would break my heart.
Constance is suing the school district, with the help of the ACLU, to make them reinstate the prom. Whether or not this is successful, I think the students of Itawamba County are entitled to a beautiful, inclusive prom. If anyone can help them achieve this, it's Ellen! A campaign has begun to email Ellen or message her fan page to bring her attention to this issue and ask her to lend her name to the cause. If you believe that every child deserves a prom, please hop over and let Ellen know.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
We had a coupon that we got in our mailers this week for Beef N Cheddars for $1.99. We combined this with some of Arby's new dollar menu goodness and ended up spending less than $20 to feed the four of us. The baby, of course, eats for free wherever we go. :)
Arby's food is pretty reliably good. The sandwiches were all tasty, the curly fries are a step up from plain jane fries you'd get elsewhere, and the Jamocha shake is the stuff dreams are made of.
We were lucky, because it wasn't too busy when we went, so we were able to score one of the two round booths. We were comfy and cozy, and if I had needed to nurse the baby, I could have done so in relative privacy.
Arby's is a solid choice for a fast food dinner, and we will happily return to the Venice, FL location.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Hubby and I both opted for the Semi Serious size. We got one large order of cheese fries to split, which was DD11's whole meal, since she doesn't actually eat cheeseburgers, lol. She does love milkshakes, and she and I both got milkshakes as our meal beverage. DS3 got a chicken finger kid meal. We ended up spending $31 and change, which is really not much more than we'd spend at a fast food place. This is not a place we go to for the cheap prices, though.
For those who have never been to Cheeburger Cheeburger, all I can say is: go. Their burgers are made from 100% fresh angus beef, and they are delicious. You can choose from eight cheeses, including American, Swiss, feta, bleu, provolone, and pepperjack. You then choose your own toppings from a list of twenty-eight, including everything from lettuce and onions to pineapple and peanut butter. Add-ons include baconan, sauteed mushrooms and/or onions, and a grilled portobello, but these cost extra. You end up with a super personalized burger that is just to die for. Their beverage menu is just as extensive and customizable. I frequently get blackberry sweet tea, but last night I went with a bananas foster milkshake. DD11 had a chocolate-coconut milkshake, and Hubby had a vanilla diet Pepsi. Every single item we had was delicious, including the fresh-cut french fries with cheese sauce.
Family Friendly Atmosphere
Cheeburger Cheeburger is a fun place for families to eat. It is decorated like a 50's diner, with lots of neon and cutouts of 50's stars. There is a wall dedicated to pictures of people who ate the Famous Pounder. Kid's meals come in a souvenir cardboard classic car. In addition to the traditional kids menu with crayons, there are laminated trivia cards at the tables, so the time passes quickly for all age groups. The only caveat is that all seating is tables, and I typically feel more comfortable nursing in the privacy of a booth. Overall, though, this is one of the most fun restaurants around for our kids.
Yes, this is a restaurant we have been to before and will go to again. For us, this is a place that is worth the drive from North Port up to Sarasota, because the burgers are honestly that good. Even the milkshakes alone would make the trip worth it, to be honest. If you love classic diner food and you live in the SRQ area, Cheeburger Cheeburger should be on your short list of places to try.
Monday, February 22, 2010
DS3 was asleep when we arrived, so we didn't want to buy him a meal in case he didn't wake up. We were hoping to be allowed in and then purchase a buffet for him if he did wake up. We were very happy to learn that since he is only three, we don't have to pay for him at all. This makes up for the fact that now that DD11 is eleven, we have to pay the adult price for her meal.
The buffet at CiCi's includes soups, pasta with either a marinara or alfredo-type sauce, salad, lots of pizza and several desserts. I always start with a salad to help keep from taking in too many calories, but of course for some people the whole point is to eat as much pizza as possible. There are all kinds of options on the pizza bar, but I am a boring person and mostly only eat cheese, pepperoni and sausage slices. Even with this limitation, I get to try lots of variety, as CiCi's has different crust styles served up to choose from. I had some thin, crispy sausage, regular cheese, and pan style pepperoni, all of which were good. CiCi's is not my favorite pizza, especially since New York style is my fave pizza type, but for "cheap pizza," it has very good flavor. I did get a bit adventurous and try CiCi's famous macaroni and cheese pizza, which my daughter loves. It was better than I expected for a kid-oriented menu item. The best part of going to CiCi's, though, in my opinion, is the dessert selection. The apple pie pizza and brownies are good, but the cinnamon rolls are warm, buttery, and to die for!
CiCi's is the kind of place that is designed for families to eat cheaply. There are menu items designed with kids in mind, like the mac & cheese pizza. There are also several arcade/crane style games and a wall of vending machines. The seating is mostly booths, although there are some tables. The seating is a bit crowded, so nursing a baby might be uncomfortable for many moms. Aesthetically, it is obvious that the emphasis is on value, although there are several TV's tuned to different stations so Dad can catch some sports while the kids watch SpongeBob. Overall, it is a welcoming environment for families.
We had a good time at CiCi's and ate well. This is a place we have been to before, and we will definitely be returning again.
Family Friendly Atmosphere: ****
Sunday, February 21, 2010
A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.
A house is a home when it shelters the body and comforts the soul.
It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home
A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.
--Dr. William A Ward
We labor to make a house a home, then every time we're expecting visitors, we rush to turn it back into a house.
For me, I can feel at home with my family in a hotel room. If I lived alone though, I can't imagine that place feeling like anything other than a house. Obviously, everyone is different; what makes you feel at home?
Thanks to Toni at A Daily Dose of Toni for hosting Quotable Sunday
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Back? Okay. I think that one of the reasons this topic is so difficult in general is because it isn't black & white. We can all agree that teen pregnancy is not a "good thing," even those of us who were teen moms. On the other hand, let's face it; being a mom, if you're doing it right, is probably the most awesome thing ever. The reason shows like Teen Mom will probably never work at reducing teenage pregnancy is because babies are cool. They truly are. I know that when I talk about having my daughter at four days over nineteen, it's hard for me to make it sound like her birth was not one of the best things that ever happened to me. This is because it is one of the best things that ever happened to me. As a matter of fact, in 1999, it was the best thing that had ever happened to me.
I'm not alone in being guilty of this. Bristol Palin, who is trying to be the face of teen abstinence, has the same problem. She goes around telling people that being a single, teenage mom is hard. She's telling the truth. But whenever she's in a picture holding Tripp, she has the look of pure joy that any good mother has when they are holding their precious baby. We end up looking like hypocrites when we tell people not to do what we did, because we kind of are. For many teen moms, having a baby is difficult, and expensive, and inconvenient, and risky, and worth it.
Now, let me give my caveats. I, like Bristol and every other successful teen mom I've ever known (including my cousin who is doing a fabulous job raising a beautiful baby girl), had the support of a large and loving family. I was an older teen, since I got pregnant in college, not high school. I worked two jobs to support my baby as well as I could, and I did not accept welfare (other than CHIP insurance) or child support. I finished my college education, although it took me 5 years to finish a 4 year degree. My story is not typical of the young, uneducated teenage "welfare mom." The problem with stories like mine is that many lonely, immature fifteen year old girls will not realize that my story is not typical. They will see people like me, happy with the life I have chosen, and think the same fate awaits them if they get pregnant.
So, if we want to reduce teenage pregnancy, what kind of message do we need? "Having a baby isn't cool" just isn't entirely true. Sometimes, having a baby is very cool. "Having a baby is only cool when you're physically, financially, and emotionally ready" is more accurate, but doesn't really make a catchy slogan. If a teenager is not mature enough to have a baby, they certainly won't be mature enough to realize they aren't mature enough. In the end, I don't have any answers to the questions raised by Toni's blog, just more questions. But I think these are good questions that we should all be discussing in our society. Comments? Blog posts of your own, lol?
Friday, February 12, 2010
Sunday, January 31, 2010
The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one.
-- Erma Bombeck
A bargain is something you can't use at a price you can't resist.
-- Franklin P. Jones
Anyone who believes the competitive spirit in America is dead has never been in a supermarket when the cashier opens another checkout line.
-- Ann Landers
If you change lines, the one you just left will start to move faster than the one you are now in.
-- O'Brian's Law
When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It's a whole different way of thinking.
-- Elayne Boosler
I don't remember my mother ever playing with me. And she was a perfectly good mother. But she had to do the laundry and clean the house and do the grocery shopping.
-- Patricia Heaton
I think that last quote is a great example of why we do this crazy thing and go grocery shopping as a group of five. If we can share these simple things and make a game of the weekly errands, that's just one more bond that we share as a family. My three year old is learning about things like "serving size" and "added sugar," my eleven year old is learning about budgeting decisions, and the baby just loves being carried around in his Moby.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
Our van arrived first, after picking up our daughter from her dance practice. We went ahead and got a table for all seven, even though my parents were still on the way, and ordered sweet tea for everyone but the three-year-old (no caffeine for him!) When they got there, we were able to quickly order, since most of us have tried-and-true Sonny's favorites. My only decision was whether to get my pulled pork as a sandwich, a dinner, or an all-you-can-eat. Since I hadn't had much lunch, I greedily went with the AYCE, as did Hubby. Our super-healthy daughter had salad bar and a sweet potato, and our son had chicken tenders. Mom had the pulled pork meal, and Dad had the AYCE ribs.
All of our food was fabulous, since Sonny's really knows how to do Southern BBQ. We were seated comfortably at a long table that gave us plenty of room for the baby's seat. I was able to tuck myself back enough to feel comfortable nursing while covered by a blanket. The bathroom facilities were clean and adequate for changing diapers. The service was great, with refills of both sweet tea and meat coming promptly. The only thing that could have made my night better is if I had remembered that one huge plate of meat, macaroni & cheese and french fries is already all I can eat. No need to pay $2 extra for the privilege of stuffing myself beyond full, no matter how enjoyable the experience may be at the time.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
My friend Amy died soon after I graduated from high school. Her and her sister were killed by a drunk driver who was a repeat DUI offender. They were both beautiful, loving, just generally wonderful girls, and their loss was difficult for everyone who knew them.
Although I miss Amy, I can honestly say that I don't think of her every day. I live in a different town, so there are days I can go about my life without anything reminding me of her. There are certain objects and songs that always make me think of her, but usually with a smile, because they make me think of how much sunshine she brought into the world.
Today, though, was different. I posted a message to Facebook about my baby's difficulty taking a bottle. One of my friends from high school replied with a comment about how her son had the same problem, but now takes a bottle just fine. It was very normal, day-to-day stuff. I had a thought about how strange it is to think of my friend as a nursing mother when I haven't seen her since high school. That's when out of nowhere, I thought "Amy should be nursing a baby." I just broke down in tears. Just when I thought I'd come to terms with the loss of a beautiful life eleven years ago, today I started mourning again. Eleven years ago I lost my friend Amy. Today I lost the beautiful children that Amy would have had. I lost chatting with her about parenthood and being proud of what a great mother she had become, the way I'm proud of so many of my other friends. Anyone who knew her knows what a great mother she would have been, and this is something else that one drunk driver stole from the world.
I know this is an old, worn-out message, but please think about this when you think about drinking and driving. That one stupid action could have an impact on so many lives, and for so many years. The world has been a worse place ever since Amy died, even if only for those of us in her corner of the world. We will always miss her and wonder what she would be doing if she were here now. I will always wish I could get her advice and support as I go through life. I will never forget.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment. ~Robert Benchley
You may delay, but time will not. ~Benjamin Franklin
Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible. ~George Claude Lorimer
Procrastination is like masturbation. At first it feels good, but in the end you're only screwing yourself. ~Author unknown, possibly from Monty Python?
What do you guys think? Favorites? Any procrastination quotes you love that I missed? I tried to stay anti-procrastination, but it seems there are so many more in favor...