Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day Recipes - Doing it up BIG

We are going to do it up big this weekend.  My half sister and her husband are visiting my mom and they are coming to our house on Sunday.  I'm so excited to see them, they are wonderful people!

I really can't recall the last time Steve bbq'd.  I don't count the hot dogs and Aidell's sausages he warmed up on the bbq last weekend.  We are going all out with smoked brisket and pulled pork.  YUM with a capital Y-U-M!!!

For the cooking process, Steve uses the recipes for brisket and pulled pork from the The Cook's Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue.  Really, there isn't another source out there that has allowed us to produced a better quality product. 

 In addition to brisket and pulled pork I'm going to make Ina Garten's super delicious mac & cheese (we skip the tomatoes and sometimes even the breadcrumbs and it's still just as tasty).  If you go this route, be sure to get the real deal Gruyere cheese (Trader Joe's has a great price). 

I'm also going to make a vinegar based coleslaw.  Neither Steve or I like mayo/sour cream, so the traditional coleslaw is out (yuck to the mayo based coleslaw). I'll likely omit the dill. 

I'm also going to make our own rub for the different meats.  I'm going to have to dig those recipes out (hmm, where could they be).  I sometimes make it in bulk during the holidays and give it as gifts.  It's a hit with the in-laws.  

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!  Please take a moment or two over this long weekend to remember what Memorial Day is all about (see below). 

(from Wikipedia):
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 30 in 2011). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates men and women who died while in military service to the United States.[1] First enacted to honor Union and Confederate soldiers following the American Civil War,[2] it was extended after World War I to honor Americans who have died in all wars.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend Deals (Michael's, Coach Shoes, Brooks Brother's, etc...)

Coach Shoes - some up to half off (don't tell Steve, but I might have purchased a pair or two). 

Brooks Brothers Dress Shirts - 2 for $109 - May 26-27th only and includes both men's and women's shirts

LOFT is holding a $25 and under event - includes skirts, shorts, tops, T's, etc...

Naturalizer 20% off entire purchase, including sale items

Gap has great deals all around their store (and website).  Their memorial day event touts up to 50% off.

Michael's coupon for 20% your entire purchase - valid Sunday may 29th

Happy Memorial Day weekend and happy shopping!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Best (and safe) Sunscreens

After having kids, I started looking at all the ingredients that go into the products they come in contact with (mainly soaps, lotions, etc), to make sure I was minimizing any potential long term impact to their health.  Cancer runs in both my family and Steve's so we will do anything we can to reduce risks for our kids since they are likely pre-disposed. 

The Environmental Working Group puts out a report every year on Safe Sunscreens.  I only buy off this list.. 

Elsewhere in the Environmental Working Group's website is a section called Skin Deep which lists safety of a lot more personal products (make-up, shampoo, lotions, etc).  Take a look, it's very informative. 

Have a safe and sunburn free summer!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Co-Sleeping: I Understand the Appeal Now!

(written last Friday)

Last night was a bit rough.  I was in the office until 7:30pm, which meant when I got home, I could do a few things around the house and get to bed at a decent hour, finally!  Sleep, I longed for sleep and was very excited at the prospect of a solid 8+ hours. 

I got into bed around 9:30pm.  Put my head on my pillow and heard crying.  Her timing is impeccable I tell you!  When Emily typically cries while she is sleeping, it's short lived and she's usually asleep within 5 minutes.  NOT LAST NIGHT.

I don't think the poor thing slept more than 3 hours total.  Throughout the night, we gave her tylenol, motrin, milk, water, we rocked her and patted her tummy/back while she laid in her crib.  At one point in the wee hours of the morning, I was laying on her floor trying to comfort her by reaching into her crib and rubbing her leg or arm.  Steve went in several times and rocked her back to sleep, but as soon as she went into her crib, she cried and cried and cried.

This is VERY unusual behavior for Emily, so something was wrong, we just didn't know what it was, and still don't.

At 4am, bleary eyed, frustrated for her and for me, I picked her up and brought her into our bed.  In our house this is totally taboo.  This is the first time we have slept with a child in our bed, can you believe it?  To each his own, but co-sleeping is not our thing. 

Emily tossed and turned, crawled around a little bit, shoved her hand in Steve's face while he was sleeping, kicked me a handful of times, and continued to cry off and on for the next couple hours.  On the rare occasion when she was able to sleep for 20 minutes or so, she was the cutest, most peaceful, adorable, cuddly little human being I have ever seen.  I now understand why parents do this.

This is not going to become a habit, but we should make this a special treat from time to time and not rule it out entirely.  Of course, only when we have enough sleep reserves to get us through the next day, because those little bodies move around a lot when they sleep and I don't think Steve or I would wake feeling very rested.

I am hoping for a better night tonight for our little Miss Em.  We have a big day tomorrow and it will be in all our best interest if she has a good nights rest.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Contemplating Their Future

On Tuesday, I attended the Professional Business Women’s Conference in San Francisco.  The thing that struck a chord with me most was this VIDEO (you have to watch it especially if you have a daughter, you really do!).  It sent chills up and down my spine and made tears well up in my eyes (as I was sitting next to my boss and other co-workers, I tried to keep myself together).

The video is only words, nothing else.  I am still thinking about it and wondering what kind of future my girls will have.  I wonder if they will deal with the gender struggles that my generation deals with or if it will be easier for them.  Will they chase their dreams and feel confident enough to go after them?  Women still earn 77% to the dollar of what men earn.  We hold far fewer positions of executive management positions than men.

Shortly after this video we heard the stories of 5 wonderful young women who will be heading off to college next year (UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, Loyola Marymount, etc..).  They all faced obstacles and had to overcome many hurdles to educate themselves and persevere (poverty, death, tragedy and more).  They were an inspiration to all 3000+ conference attendees. 

Earlier in the day, we also listened to Jackie Speier, a Congresswoman from California.  She was shot 5 times in her late 20’s in Africa and almost died, suffered miscarriages, lost her husband in a car accident when she was pregnant with her second child, and lost several political races before landing where she is today. 

My perception of women who have achieved a lot in their careers is that they were born privileged, things came easy to them, they have easy lives, they are naturally smart, etc..  Yesterday was another data point, but one that finally stuck with me, that boy was I wrong.  I never felt that I could be one of those powerful women.  There is no way in hell I could ever match up.  Whenever I am in meetings with high level executives, I never feel like I belong at the table with them. 

I have always struggled to fit in.  Middle school and high school were especially tough for me.  I never felt that I what I did mattered and when I was successful at something, it was based on pure luck.  College was a bit of a turning point for me, but it was still a struggle. 

I NEVER want my girls to feel as though they did not deserve their accomplishments or feel they don’t measure up to their peers.  I want them to be confident, stand up for themselves and most of all, believe in themselves.  I know in order to so this, I need to be able to set an example for them.  It’s time I make changes about what I feel I am capable of and go after my dreams, so they can feel empowered to achieve theirs. 

How do I do this?  I’m not sure, but I am going to figure it out!  I have two little girls who are dependent on me and I don’t want to let them down.  

Here another way to get to the video:

Friday, May 6, 2011

She Broke My Heart

I guess this is what being a Mom is all about.  When something happens to your child that devastates her (all relative of course for a 3 year old), your heart breaks too.

Steve got home from a business trip last night.  He typically brings backs little gifts for the girls and it is something Abby always looks forward too.  Neither Steve or I travel frequently, so it's a rare treat.

Steve brought Abby back a snowglobe and it lasted all of about an hour and a half in our house.  Abby loved that snowglobe in the short time it was with her.  She has a very special bond with her Daddy and anything he brings her is just perfect in her eyes. 

I told Abby she needed to be really careful with the snowglobe because it was glass.  That she needed to keep it on the table or her dresser or it would break (see where we are heading here). 

Abby took the snowglobe back to her room and a couple minutes later she starts screaming, blood curdling screaming.  I run back and find her standing over the broken snowglobe screaming "I broke it, I broke it". 

The first thing I do is pick her up to make sure she doesn't step on any glass..  She's free of any glass fragments, but still screaming and crying.  I sit down with her and we both cry.  I know how much that snowglobe meant to her.  I know she misses her Daddy when he travels and it was the first time she had a snowglobe and she loved that thing for everything it represented (her Daddy, her Daddy thinking about her when she was away and a new experience for her). 

I know a bit dramatic perhaps, but she was devastated.  Is this what it is going to be like when she gets her heart broken, or if kids make fun of her at school, or when she doesn't get something she really wants in life (into the college of her dreams or the job of a lifetime)?  If we are both this upset about a snowglobe, how are we going to handle something bigger? 

A recent picture of my princess with another princess. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I'm Glad (Almost) No One Walked in on Me!

This isn't going to be as juicy as some might think, but it is funny!

I went to the break room/kitchen on my floor at work to put soup in the microwave.  A few minutes later I go back to retrieve my food and this is when the fun begins..

My low fat cream like soup decided to explode in the microwave.  Lovely!  It was everywhere, and I mean in every nook and cranny in the microwave.  One that is shared by a handful of people.  I have to get this cleaned up quickly I thought to myself.

I picked up the soup container to throw it away.  I get within 2 inches of the garbage and I drop it.  The remaining soup in the container splatters all over my (white soup on black) pants and the floor.  And also on the garbage cans.  Perfect!!

I really hope no one walks in on me cleaning this up, it's EVERYWHERE!

I hear footsteps, CRAP!  Thankfully it is a woman on my team, who I adore working with.  She looks at me, she looks at the microwave, then at my pants and says "what happened?".  I laughed through the story as she helped me clean up my big 'ole goopy soup mess. 

No one else walked in while I was cleaning up the soup explosion of the century.  I'll be heading home now to finish the rest of my work day in clean, non-soup laden pants.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

More Conversations with Abby

This one is a zinger. 

I don't recall thinking boys had cooties until I was at least in first or second grade.  Boys still thought girls were cool until then too. Apparently times have changed.

Me: "Abby, who did you play with at school today"
Abby: "I played with A and B", both girls
Me: "Abby, do you ever play with the boys in your class"
Abby: "No Mommy"
Me: "How come?"
Abby: "Boys make girls sick"
Me: "Who told you that?"
Abby: "Someone in my dream"

Abby will uphold rules like no one else.  If someone isn't behaving in class, she will tell them to listen to the teacher and behave.  When it comes to ratting someone out who told her something, she won't budge.  She will make something up.  While I appreciate this loyalty to her friends, I think it might cause some problems when she is a teenager.

Sometime soon I'll be able to post "Conversations with Emily".  Right now she is grunting, whining and pointing to communicate with a handful of one syllable words thrown in.  Her communication style is age appropriate, but it does not translate to blog form very well...

Monday, May 2, 2011 - 20% off today

I love this store when there is a deal.  I can find all my fancy face products and today they are 20% off...  Use coupon code ALL4MOM today (some restrictions may apply). 

I love the Murad Pomegrate line for face cleanser and moisturizer.

Butter LONDON nail polish, no bad ingredients. 

My new favorite shampoo, Alterna Bamboo, for my 80's curly hair.  This shampoo and conditioner tame the frizzies and make it easier to blow dry straight every day.  No parabens, sulfates, etc..  My hair gets oily easily and this doesn't weigh it down, I'm in love!

T3 hairdryers and flat irons are fabulous.  A little spendy, but perhaps worth it with the coupon?