United States of Motherhood: April 2012

Sunday, April 29, 2012

On Marriage: Wax on, Back Hair....OFF!


My friends, can I just share with you how satisfying it is to wax the crap out of my husband's troll toes and teddy bear back?

Ha-ha!

At home Brazilian wax kit?? You helped me wreak my revenge on my radish pickling husband!


** I promise you I was not paid to review, sponsor, or endorse this product. However the truly deep satisfaction I get from ripping my Eastern European husband's back hair out? Now that should be bottled right this minute! Right Beau Raines??

On Parenting: Tough Love


Spent the afternoon on Friday playing a rousing game of Guess Who with kid #3.

I DESTROYED him.

It is so exhilarating to win against 10 year old...hehehe!

Tough love, baby.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

On the Frugal: Holy Wassssssabi Batman!


Holy wassssssabi!

I tried to save some money and bought some wasabi almonds in grocery store bulk bins.

As you can see, I think it's a 50-50 combo of wasabi to nuts.

Well, you learn something everyday right? Well? I discovered my nasal passages are connected to my knees when I ate a handful.

That is all.

On Marriage: Save Me From This Sauerkraut Factory

Image Source

Save me!

Save me! My husband, in his infinite wisdom, decided to have a father-son bonding experience by making pickles. Not one to go the vanilla approach, he then escalated to pickled radishes and garlic cloves. Oh...my...gottt...the simmering vinegar, radish, and garlic cloves plume of nasty are emanating every crevice of our home, including the bathrooms, the garage, and even my pores.

I now live in a sauerkraut factory and my friends?


It is not pretty.


This was definitely disallowed in our marriage vows.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Common Sense and Almost Organic: Lemon & Olive Oil Muffin Recipe


This will be the first post of many in my series called Every. Little. Bite. Helps. where I offer tips for choosing a common sense, almost organic lifestyle.




Ahh do you know that frazzled moment when you are out with STARVING kids, running errands, and you succumb…



You succumb to the pleas for that sparkly bakery muffin or that frosted coffee shop scone. You throw down the $1.75-2.50 each to fill outstretched hands with a sugary treat chock full of transfats, white sugar, sodium, and ultimately an unknown and incredible amount of unpronounceable ingredients.



You willing quell the whines with, in my case with three kids, $6-10 of junk and more junk to wash it down. Then sigh when you give in yourself and add another muffin to the pile for you.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Repeat. And repeat again in my busy family. Coming back from school. Going to swim practices. Getting back late from football. Or Lego League. Or [insert club dujour] for my three kiddos.

Sound familiar?


And yet, grocery shopping you gape at organic prices and sniff with disdain. Yep, that was me. In the past, I have been willing to throw down $20 for a fried fast food snack full of pink slime and sugary sodas, but the thought of buying organic milk, eggs, fruits, vegetables,and flour at double their non-organic equivalents—but note still less than that fast food bill—seemed outrageous and made my wallet cringe.



What was I thinking! Did I not see the irony? Added on to this cheap mindset, I did not see that those way too frequent trips to eat out would eventually cost me where it hurts most in this country—our health.

Lately, with medical issues to include my inflamed liver and ongoing memory issues, my daughter’s once again flaring eczema, my husband’s medically-controlled cholesterol and a recent diagnosis of ADD for my son, I have been forced to rethink many of my choices.



Suddenly, some common sense prevails. Perhaps all those years of not-so-cheap convenience foods could inadvertently be one of a myriad of causes for this family’s slate of issues.

Who knows! However, going back to price point and a little planning, eating natural, whole, organic when it makes sense could not hurt. That is where I am at right now. I am choosing a common sense, mostly organic approach to our lives for the next few months.

If it is available and not outrageous, I will calm my inner frugality and buy grass-fed, organic, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free. Heck, gluten free is even on the table again. I will cut back on processed foods and choose fresh, whole ingredients. I think this can be achievable for most families.

Will I be a Nazi about this? No. I am not going to freak if I use a tablespoon of regular ol’ poppy seeds in a recipe. I am not going to scour the earth looking for organic ricotta. If it’s in stock and it’s cheaper than fast food (my new litmus test) I will invest in that ingredient for my family. And if not, I will try to buy a more natural alternative—hopefully processed with 5 ingredients or less. I want to get rid of the guar gums, dextrose, and sodium benzoate in my family’s diet.

Honestly? If I am willing to pay $40 for burgers and fries for a dinner at the golden arches for my family of five, why not pay $20 for grass-fed beef or $30 for wholesome ingredients to make a slew of muffins that will last a week?

I consider this an investment in my future and my family’s future.

Back to those muffins, for about the same price as those 5 muffins and a latte at that cafĂ©, you suddenly can have 3 dozen muffins with my muffin recipe… and hopefully the willpower in your arsenal to resist that latte.



Fresh Lemon & Olive Oil Muffins (36 muffins)

My cost approximately $20 or 55 cents a muffin ~ coffee shop equivalent over $70

Time Investment 30-45 minutes

3½ cups (15.75 ounces) organic, unbleached white flour
1¾ cups (7.8 ounces) organic, whole wheat flour
2¼ cups organic white sugar
7 ½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. fine sea salt
1½ cups room temperature organic cottage cheese
6 oz. room temperature organic cream cheese
1½ cups water
¾ cup organic olive oil
6 room temperature organic, cage free eggs
3 Tbsp lemon zest/rind and 6 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (needed 1 organic lemon for zest and juice & 1 regular lemon just for juice)
Organic olive oil to coat muffin tins
4 Tbsp Turbinado sugar or Demerara sugar
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
Quart-sized Ziploc bags



Instructions


Preheat oven to 375 degrees or 350 degrees for convection. Rub olive oil on bottom and sides of all muffin tins.

Measure or weigh both flours and combine in large mixing bowl. Add white sugar, baking powder, and salt.



Squeeze your lemons and zest organic lemon.



In food processor, blender, or in bowl with hand blender/mixer, combine cottage cheese, cream cheese, water, oil, and eggs until combined and slightly frothy to incorporate air to counter the heaviness of the whole wheat flour. The mixture should have fully smoothed out the cream cheese, but slight bumps from cottage cheese is fine. This should be the consistency of thick pancake batter.



Make well in center of bowl of dry ingredients and add wet mixture. Lightly fold flour into center of well, turning bowl as you go until just moist. Do not over mix.


Using cookie/ice cream scoop, add a heaping scoop to each muffin cup. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and poppy seeds to add additional texture and sparkly sweetness.



Bake 12-16 (depends on how many pans at once that you are baking) or until inserted wooden toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove to cooling rack. Once completely cooled, place 3-5 muffins in each Ziploc bag and freeze.


Each of these muffins is a fraction of what you would pay in a moment of desperation. Even better, they are almost organic and definitely more natural than what you would find in a commercial bakery, and yet they are still a scrumptious treat the kids will love to nosh on. To compare calories, a Starbucks so called Skinny Lemon Poppyseed muffin that used to be my son’s favorite is almost 100 more calories more.


I have found pulling out a family-sized pack to thaw on the counter the night before a booked day full of family activities shortcuts those whines. Throw said-Ziploc in purse or car console and you can leave for the day with an arsenal of yummy organic goodness. Need something quick? Throw a frozen muffin in the microwave for 10-15 seconds and it’s ready to go.

I know not every family eats out and not every family can afford organic. That said, looking out for sales, buying organic in bulk at Costco, and looking into co-ops certainly helps to substitute a few more organic/natural ingredients into your food which means a few less preservatives, additives, and hormones going into the mouths of your children.

In the long run, with the cost of health care rising astronomically and study after study discovering that additives we once thought were safe, may now be questionable, can you afford not to try a more wholesome approach to your family’s diet?

Every. Little. Bite. Helps.

What are your tips to make your family's food more healthy?



Monday, April 9, 2012

Anyone Else Sick of Pinterest?

We Mothers (And Our Daughters) Deserve More: Olay Total Effect 7 in One Toning Moisturizer $50 VISA Giveaway


This is me. No filter. Me, after that outrageous Bob-Harper-is-the-Devil workout last month. I am flushed, but I feel good.

Trying to avoid having it go to my head, but in the worst shape of my life with my self-esteem in the dumps, this picture resulted in an incredible number of positive, glowing reactions.

Maybe some readers were happy I was finally doing the right thing for myself. Loved ones enjoyed that I actually took a self-portrait -- there are very few pictures of me in existence when I am not happy with how I look.

Certainly my kids will be happy to add another to the handful of photos I've allowed during their childhood.

Personally? I think the reason I received so many compliments was that I was, for once, not smothering my skin in a thick blanket of foundation. Yes, foundation as in what they layer under houses in cement like slabs. My skin was much more luminous.

What was I wearing in the picture? A little something I got in the mail called Olay® Total Effects Tone Correcting UV Moisturizer. It's moisturizer, sunscreen and a light dreamy toner all in one.

Perfect for a quick stop into the grocery store after a workout at the gym. I had slapped it on between errands and appointments.

It's a multi-tasking mother's dream.

Yes, it offers hydration plus sheer illuminating coverage, which my vanity loves. But even more important, given my fair Irish complexion and years of deep sunburns, it has sunscreen. I finally started using sunscreen and sunglasses in my thirties. Thirties! And this wonder bottle has sunscreen too!

Yes I know, by now most of the damage has been done. Actually, experts agree the majority of damage to our skin happens in our youth, but the damage doesn't show up until decades later. My friends, I have the age spots to show for my recklessness in the California sun.

In my teens I burned my nose so badly that it peeled for two years.

As a mother of one gorgeous daughter who happens to have inherited the olive skin tone from the rest of my family, I still worry and know I can help her prevent the kind of sun-damage I have. She is a swimmer and is reluctant to wear sunscreen, especially the stingy kinds with fumes that irritate eyes. All she wants to do is tan.

Lucky us, we received two bottles of Total Effects Tone Correcting UV Moisturizer in the mail and I gave the medium shade to her because I think it's never too early to start protecting our skin from damage.

With the fun bottle and the allure of the light toner and, more important, no stingy eyes, she's hooked and so am I.

Even better, the vitamin-rich complex combines SPF 15 sunscreen, a sheer tint and an anti-aging moisturizer which works to reduce the SEVEN signs of aging:

1. Line Minimization: Reduces the appearance of fine wrinkles
2. Nourishing Moisturization: For a radiant, healthy glow
3. Tone Enhancement: Balances color and reduces appearance of age spots
4. Gentle Exfoliation: Smoothes and evens skin texture
5. Eye Puffiness Reduction: Massages to reduce the appearance of eye puffiness
6. Free Radical Defense: Helps prevent damage to skin’s surface
7. Dryness Defense: Reduces the appearance of dryness

So guess where my bottle now resides?

In my purse!

This way I have no excuses to go bare in the sun.

I will always have a beauty tool with me to expedite my beauty routine when time runs out between carpools, kids' activities, and my work.

In the long run, I know spending a little time now will save me years of damage on my skin (and my daughter's) later.

So my friends, what do you do as multi-tasking mothers and women to carve out time to take care of your skin?

Tell me about it in the comments for the chance to win a $50 VISA card -- maybe to buy a few bottles of Total Effects Tone Correcting UV Moisturizer for yourself.

Take care of yourselves and take care of your daughters!


Contest closed:

Congrats to my winner, Holly Chernoff!!

Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by email. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 4/9 - 5/16

Be sure to visit the Olay TE page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers' reviews and find more chances to win! While we're on the subject of looking good, you might want to check out the "Looking Your Best" posts in the Life Well Lived section of BlogHer.com. There are some great tips and expert posts!

I was compensated and provided free product for this post. The opinions expressed herein are my own.




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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Samantha Brick Needs a Brick to That Ego of Hers

I usually am not part of the mob that hate on woman on the internet. I am not. I hate cyberbulling. I've been a victim at times and it is not fun. Not fun at all.



Heck, I even felt slightly bad for OctoMom finally admitting today on the Today Show she was on public assistance--something she claimed she would never do when she had her irresponsible litter of babies. She was ashamed. Yes, my friends, I felt compassion. She looked broken. She is posing scantily clad for magazines to pay her mortgage. Karma got her good.

However guess who I don't feel compassion for? Women begging for attention, any attention, and who then are shocked that the attention is not positive. Women so self-involved they trip over others shouting, "Look at me!" In particular?

Samantha Brick.

Have you heard of her? She recently wrote a crazy post for the Daily Mail in a very Kelly LaBrock-esque "Don't hate me because I am beautiful," way.

Remember Kelly?



Beautiful right?


Back to Miss Brick, first we need to refer to exhibit A:


She is no Kelly LaBrock. Nope, nope.


This photo just does not jive with following comments we will call Exhibit B:

"I’m tall, slim, blonde and, so I’m often told, a good-looking woman. I know how lucky I am. But there are downsides to being pretty — the main one being that other women hate me for no other reason than my lovely looks."
"I’m not smug and I’m no flirt, yet over the years I’ve been dropped by countless friends who felt threatened if I was merely in the presence of their other halves. If their partners dared to actually talk to me, a sudden chill would descend on the room."
"I find that older women are the most hostile to beautiful women — perhaps because they feel their own bloom fading. Because my husband is ten years older than me, his social circle is that bit older too."

"It was clear that when you have a female boss, it’s best to let them shine, but when you have a male boss, it’s a different game: I have written in the Mail on how I have flirted to get ahead at work, something I’m sure many women do."

How utterly, bloody ridiculous. Do you flirt or do you not to get ahead? Do women hate you for your self-professed beauty, or your astonishing ego and lack of reality?

A friend asked me about her today and my first thought was that it was printed on April Fools, so it must be a joke. She has since been on news shows defending herself. Nope, no joke.

First, sorry to downplay any woman, but her arrogance and smug attitude make me want to shout, "Honey, you ain't all that."

I could see if she was Heidi Klum or Angelina Jolie or Kim Kardashian or some Victoria Secret model, she could pull off all these thoughts and more--although anyone that self-centered would get called out on such a publicly-stated attitude like that-- pretty or not.

Source: Little Plastic Horses

Even Alessandro Ambrosio couldn't Pull Off That Unflattering Attitude...

However Ms. Brick? To be quite honest, to be perfectly blunt, in my opinion is pretty plain with horrible teeth.
She is certainly not unattractive, but bombshell worthy of her comments of jealousy, she is not.

I don't buy it. I don't buy she has been lavished with champagne and flowers from strangers. I don't buy that bartenders pick up her bill unless they perceive her of being, sadly, easy.

As for having never been a bridesmaid or having jealous friends and female bosses, I do buy it. Her attitude rather than her self-described, "lovely looks," seem to be the likely culprit. She would like to blame all the negative in her professional and social life on poor "beautiful me" looks rather than her goat cheese stinking self-adulation.

And the worst? She claims her attitude would be okay in the United States. As an American, woman, and mother of a daughter, I am insulted. Americans are not that shallow. I doubt anyone is that shallow.

Nope, not in my book would her egotistical remarks and admission she flirted to get ahead ever be acceptable. Not in my book!

My friends, confidence is great. However, unfounded over-confidence with a big heaping helping of smug? Soooo unattractive.

Ms. Brick? You are no Kelly LaBrock. Furthermore, from your remarks, you are not pretty on the inside and that is all that counts to this mother.




So do you believe her claims?

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