Friday, February 27, 2009

Heidi's Heavenly Cookies - a delicious little treat

We just received a gift from a friend from Heidi's Heavenly Cookies and let me be the first to say that these may very well be the best cookies I've ever eaten. That's saying a lot, considering I eat a lot of cookies and am a self-professed sweet junkie. These cookies are SO good. Nothing I could say or do could possibly prepare you for the pure joy and ecstasy that comes when you take a little nibble of these delicious treats. Upon browsing their site, I think the ones we've tried are the various cookies in the Bites Assortment which include Oatmeal Raisin Bites (pretty good), Chocolate Chip Bites (very good), Toffee Chocolate Chip Bites (damn near perfect), and Chocolate Eclipse Bites (pretty good). We also were privileged to receive some of the English Toffee Candy (it doesn't get any better than that). I will definitely be ordering some of these as gifts for others because they are so above and beyond yummy. Check them out today and leave a comment with what looks best to you. My favorites are the Toffee Chocolate Chip Bites and the English Toffee Candy.
*Note: All items from Heidi's Heavenly Cookies are potentially cross-contaminated with nuts so keep out of reach of little nut-allergic kiddos (Olive thinks the pretty box contains a note from a friend, she has no idea about the yummy treats within, which, sadly enough, she'll never eat.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday's Tips: Chicken Recipes

I am not the best cook you'll ever meet. I don't mind cooking per se but am often stunted on ideas and find the pre-planning of several meals per week a real bore. On top of this, I used to be much more creative and inspired in the kitchen but with a nagging toddler, it can really wear me out. I now typically prepare the majority of the dinner stuff during naptime (even more of a drag - I just want to rest). We predominantly eat chicken in this house and I've prepared two yummy chicken meals over the past week that meet my requirements: relatively simply and delicious. As always, I tweak recipes to fit what ingredients I have on hand so try some variations.

Three Pepper Chicken (not sure who should get credit for this recipe - I did not invent it myself - I'm sorry I can't remember who gave it to me)
1 TBS. all-purpose flour
20 saltines, crushed
1 tsp. Italian seasoning (I used Italian breadcrumbs)
4 4oz. boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup egg substitute (I used regular egg)
1 cup red, yellow, &/or green pepper strips (I used all)
1 medium onion, cut in strips
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 TBS. margarine/butter
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups hot cooked bowtie pasta (I served over Jasmine rice instead)
chopped parsley, for garnish (I'm not that fancy)

In shallow bowl, combine crackers and Italian seasoning. Dip each chicken breast in egg substitute & coat with cracker mixture; set aside. In large nonstick skillet, over med-high heat, cook peppers, onion, & garlic in 1 TBS margarine until tender crisp; remove from skillet. In same skillet, cook chicken in 1 TBS margarine until golden brown on both sides, adding remaining margarine as needed, about 5-10 minutes. Remove chicken to serving platter; keep warm. Blend chicken broth & flour, stir into pan drippings. Heat until mixture thickens and begins to boil; stir in pepper mixture & heat through. Serve over chicken with pasta (or rice). Garnish with parsley.

Chicken Divan - Paula Deen

2 10-oz. packages frozen broccoli, chopped
6 cups shredded chicken, cooked
2 10.75-oz. cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream (I substituted cottage cheese b/c I forgot the sour cream, OK but s.c. is better)
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
1 TBS. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. curry powder
salt and pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (I used the canister)
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs (Again, the canister)
2 TBS. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Remove the outer wrappers from the boxes of broccoli. Open 1 end of each box. Microwave on full power for 2 minutes, until thawed. Drain the broccoli and put into a casserole dish. Add the shredded chicken. In a medium bowl, combine the soup, mayonnaise, sour cream, Cheddar, lemon juice, curry powder, salt and pepper, to taste, and wine. Whisk together to make a sauce. Pour the sauce over the broccoli and chicken. Mix well with a spatula. Place the mixture into a 11x7 casserole dish or 2 (9 inch) square disposable aluminum foil pans that have been sprayed with vegetable oil cooking spray. Pat down evenly and smooth with a spatula. Combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs, and butter and sprinkle over the top. Bake for about 30-45 minutes. Cook's Note: Try topping with Cheddar or Gruyere cheese.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I really need a lesson in patience.

I'll admit, I get frustrated a little too easily sometimes. I've never been the most patient person but this has only gotten worse over the years. I know part of that is marrying Dennis, who comes from a culture of hurriedness, where everyone is always rushing for everything. (and he thinks I'm slow, I understand his frustration because I often have it with others, namely Olive). Actually, the majority of my lack of patience these days comes with Olive. I know, I know, she is only 2 years old, but sometimes she drives me crazy. I think I get annoyed with her lollygagging because most of the time it's not just taking her time, it's manipulation, and that really bugs me. It often takes a good 30 minutes or so just to get dressed, go potty, and brush her teeth. Not that it ACTUALLY takes this long (sometimes she'll do it in under 3 minutes) but she always wants to drag things out. This is especially true of the nighttime routine, which has extended from 30 minutes to an hour or more sometimes. I know, I should just enjoy this time together, but it often feels like a waste of time. How many more times can you say, "let's get dressed" before you want to scream?? Unfortunately for me, it's not that many. I get really annoyed that she doesn't always want to do the exact same things I do. This is unfair and I know that, but she is always testing me at every turn and sometimes I just wish and pray she would just do it the way we want her to without it turning into a big deal. Sigh... Anyway, just wanted to vent I guess. Does anyone have a time when they were particularly impatient (either with or without reason)? Any tips on scooting along a pokey toddler??

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Searching for a web designer

I am in the process of searching for a new web designer for my site - The site is cute for now but I did it myself and would love to have it redone and made very user-friendly and a little more eye-catching. I know several good designers but since the focus of my business is to support women-run companies, especially mom-run ones, I am looking for a woman with a woman's eye to do it. Thing is, I've sorta stumbled upon how to do this and now that the site has been up for 2 years, I'm a little rusty on the details. I am looking for new ideas and possibly a new host to help make things simple to upload and change. If you know of any great mom or woman designers or have any pertinent information, please leave a comment with a link!! And if this describes you, please advertise yourself!!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Back to Blogging

I've been missing from the online world a bit lately but it's time to get back. Just an update on some things that have happened in recent days and weeks...

Last week we said goodbye to my dear mother-in-law who ended her long battle with cancer. Although we knew it was coming, it didn't make it a whole lot easier when it actually happened. We spent the better part of the week in New York (where she lived) and had a beautiful memorial service for her. She lived far away from us in distance but not in spirit - both Dennis and I talked to her on the phone several times each day and this void is very apparent now that we're starting to resume our daily lives. Over the past month or so, Dennis has been gone most weekends and several weekdays to tend to her while she was sick. It's been a rough few months for us and will probably continue to be for awhile. At least now she is at peace though and not in pain - there's nothing worse than seeing someone you love so much be hurting and you can't do anything about it.

On to happier news now...
We had our ultrasound of baby #2 and all looks well. She (that's right, we're going to have 2 beautiful little girls!!!) appears to be healthy and happy and is certainly proving to be as active in utero as her big sister Olive. I am deducing that this means she will be as active as Olive in person too, which both scares and delights me. I can't possibly imagine chasing TWO kids like this but at the same time, maybe there will be SOMEONE who can keep up with Olive (because Dennis and I sure can't!) We are very excited about the impending arrival of this one, due sometime around July 1st.

Business is booming. I'm staying really busy with that, along with trying to convert my office into a bedroom (I haven't gotten too far...) and trying to wrap up paperwork and outstanding things from my mother-in-law's accounts. I'm busy but I'm here and hanging in. I am going to try to get back to regular blogging and will hopefully have some giveaways coming up soon so stay tuned...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Lovin' this spring weather!

Although the Groundhog suggests that we have 6 more weeks of winter, our weather here has been wonderful the last few days. Warm, sunny, spring-like. It's so great to be able to get out and walk the dog and stretch our legs and play outside. It's made a world of difference. We were able to go to the playground this weekend and to a chocolate festival - so nice to get out and enjoy some fresh air. It does wonders for the state of mind. Not much else to report on that topic, just to say how nice it is!! Get out and enjoy the weather. I doubt it's here to stay but that makes it all the sweeter.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Littering? Really?

Today I saw something that shocked me.
As I was pulling out of Olive's school, I was driving along and all of a sudden I saw trash fly out of a car. Huh...I thought. Must have had the window open (though it's a bit cold for that) and something flew out. But as I drove up closer, I saw that it was lots and lots of food wrappers from a fast food restaurant. Hamburger wrappers, bags, fries containers. This was no mishap. I was furious. I thought it was another mom from Olive's school so I sped up to see the offender. It was not someone from our school but it was a mom in a minivan. I was so appalled. Who does this?? And not only did this woman throw something out her window, it wasn't something small like a gum wrapper, it was a whole meal's worth of wrappers. And it was so deliberate! I just couldn't believe what I saw. There was obviously a bag that had come from this fast food place - couldn't she have just put all the wrappers in there and thrown it out when she got home or wherever she was going? I couldn't believe my eyes. What does this teach her kids? That you can just toss trash out the window? Unacceptable in my book. Even Olive knows that you throw trash in the trash can. My 2 year old would never dream of doing anything with garbage besides putting it in the right place yet this 30-something woman has no problem tossing tons of junk on the roadside for the rest of us to deal with? I was just truly shocked.
Have you ever seen something so blatant that really got your blood boiling? Post a comment and let me know.

Book Review: The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks

The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks
click here to order
I am a big fan of Nicholas Sparks. His stories are romantic, tender, and well-written. This one took me awhile to really get into it though - I felt the beginning was a little slow. It did pick up and I found myself eager to read the rest. This story also brings back the character of Noah Calhoun (from The Notebook). This story is about a man who is approaching his 30 year anniversary with his wife and realizes there is a lot he hasn't said or done over the years and this story is his attempt to rekindle the romance. Overall, I'd probably give it 3.25 stars. Good, but not his greatest work.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Adventures in Parenting

We are all very different people so it should come as no surprise that we're all very different parents as well. I tend to spend more time with my friends who parent their kids in a similar fashion but this is not always the case. And I know that I'm not "right" and they're not "wrong" for how they do things. Each decision is unique to a family and to the individual child. I've really taken note of how differently people do things from each other so just thought I'd share some of the extremes I've seen and you'll see that usually, I fall more or less in the middle. I sometimes wonder if we're all in a struggle for our kids to either stay babies for too long or to let them grow up too fast. I had a really hard time nearing Olive's first birthday (my baby wasn't a baby anymore!) but since then, have had so much fun with every new thing that I am always excited for the next step.

I know the AAP recommends doing this for the first 12 months. I think this gives a lot of moms a lot of guilt. Some just have a really hard time with it, either physically or emotionally or logistically (pumping constantly at work can be a drag). I know of people nursing their toddlers and the other day even heard a story about a woman nursing a 9 year old boy. NINE! To me, that's just gross. But that's just my opinion. We did it for 6 months with nighttime feedings until about 8 months. But Olive was done and so was I. She lost interest and was too distracted and not eating and hence my body responded by not producing anything. But I feel that was a reasonable amount of time.

Drinking from a bottle:
I've seen many kids do this well past 2, some even to 2.5 or older. For me, I was so sick of cleaning bottles and dealing with the pain of them that they were completely done by 13 months.

Transitioning to a toddler bed:
I've seen or heard just about everything in this category. I know some people who move their kids out of the crib at 12 months, others who leave the kids in there until they're 4. For this, we didn't have a choice. At 17 months, Olive (ever the gymnast) began climbing out of her crib. Unfortunately the bed rails were on back order so we didn't get to transition her until about 21 months or so. This has been both a blessing and a curse.

Potty Training:
I know some lucky families who had their kids 100% trained by 17 months but others who are struggling to be trained before starting kindergarten. Olive became officially "trained" a few weeks ago, around 28 months (though we are still wearing diapers for sleeping).

Ok, here's one where I feel like I've fallen behind. We still let Olive have a pacifier (she calls it a "nino" - the Polish word for it) for sleeping. In my opinion, she's much too old for it but I wanted to potty train first and ditch the ninos later. I know some kids still suck on these things until kindergarten (yikes) but I told her it had to be gone before baby #2 comes along. She has even bought new ninos for the baby in an effort to associate pacifiers with babies and not with big girls. I should have taken it away at about a year, when she showed little interest, but I didn't, and now I'm paying for it!

Baby Food:
This was another convenience thing for me. I wanted Olive to eat table food vs. baby food because it was just easier. She didn't complain. She only ever wanted what we were eating anyways but I know some kids who continue to eat baby food until they're 2 or 3.

I could go on and on but these are just some of the things that baffle me sometimes (in particular, the extremes where I feel like sometimes people aren't letting their kids grow up). But I am not judging...I know every family and every situation is different. This is just what has worked for us. Our next one may be totally different. I may be eating these words a year from now ;)