Kid's DVD Review: Flizbins: Pirates and Cupcakes

As a Mama to two girlies under three, one of my Olympic hurdles is getting through children's entertainment. I know it isn't geared towards me, but everyone knows the parents sit through the stuff almost as much as the kidlets do! If the kidlets like it, we are going to watch it over and over and over and(you get the drift, you know I am right!)

I basically cope by not letting my Cupcake Girls listen to or watch anything I don't want to listen to or watch five bajillion times. (A bajillion, for those not familiar with my math, is more than two.)

I got two "Flizbins" DVDs from Chicago Street Studios to look over and review. I chose The Flizbins "Pirates and Cupcakes" because my chicks like both pirates and cupcakes a lot. They are both dressing as pirates (in black tutus and eye patches...yup...preshups, I know) for Halloween and we just enjoyed a MASSIVE 'Cupcake Fail' this week so I thought it was perfect.


I have to say the DVD was cute and I really liked the music. At first I struggled with the green screen festival and computer graphic back drops, but once I got into the story and characters it didn't bother me. (I am an old Sesame Street girl, ya know? They used a real street. Right? No? Ugh.)

"Pirates and Cupcakes" is a fable within a story "A tale of loving on purpose" and had a useful message about being kind to your enemy and standing up for yourself.

There is a (Elmo-esque) puppet named Finley who seeks out support and wisdom from "The Band" which is made up of four live people using their real live names: Charity, David, Shenyel and Tim. They are upbeat happy folks I liked right away(Instead of wanting to gouge my eyes out: Hello, Wiggles! Sorry we haven't watched in a while!)

Finley comes to the band upset about how a neighbor kid is treating him. The band tells Finley a story fable style about some pirates with a shipload of cupcakes who come across The Dread Pirate Bob who is notorious for stealing and consuming entire boatloads of cupcakes. (Sounds like my kinda guy, really) Pirate Bob is stranded on an island and every ship is passing him by without helping him due to his reputation and past behavior. Our hero, Finley as guest on deck, gets to witness the Pirate Captain choosing to help his sworn enemy and that enemy being humbled and grateful in return. The Flizbins "Pirates and Cupcakes" offers a great message of bravery, character and being kind to people who are not kind to you. Don't we all need that message?

The music was pop style and danceable (For kids. That wasn't my foot tapping...). The lyrics were easy to sing along with right away and they did stick with you...ummmm for a long time. But they were positive lyrics and I will be happy to hear my daughters repeat 'em. "Your Love is a Song"(that I can sing....) was one of my favs.

There were several extra features on the DVD including a Talk Show "Howie Live" with a funny host puppet and the band members doing an interview to recap the fable, a cooking segment that is funnier than useful and a dance step. My daughter has NEVER gotten off the couch to dance with a kids TV show but she hopped right up and danced with this one! The blooper reel was fun and the making of was very interesting.

FUNNY NOTE: My daughter who watched with me didn't realize Finley and the others were puppets until we watched the extra features and saw how they made the show!

As soon as the video was over, my sweet daughter said, "I like those guys. I wanna watch again!" I have to say, she is the more valuable critic here and I like the positive messages in The Flizbins "Pirates and Cupcakes"....so our conclusion: WE LIKED IT!

NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure, I am now helping them coordinate an AWESOME GIVEAWAY called the "100 Blogger Project" where they are selecting 100 Bloggers to review one of the shows and offer a giveaway of The Flizbins Fun Packs and a few Ipad 2's just in time for Christmas. (C/mon y'all, you have seen Target all decked out, it is unavoidable. Just go with it.) I do not get to enter the contest but am being paid to assist in the project.

Fat (LESS!) Fridays?

Checking in with you guys....WHAT IF I dedicated thirty days to moving some fat around on my posterior? What if I took "before" pics, talked about good bad and ugly and kept up with the pics and stats for a month? Would anyone else join me with their own commitment to increase healthy habits? I read a great blog post this morning that has my plush posterior all fired up.

Yes? Tips? Ideas? Potential pitfalls that might go hand in hand with public humiliation????
(Love the Hallmark Shirt, dislove the chinny chin chins....)

Customer Service FOUND: Noodles & Company, Valparaiso Indiana

I have another blog. I know, you have GOT to start reading that too right? Nahhhh. I haven't been updating it, but you are welcome to pop over if you want snarky and constructive commentary side by side. Bad customer service has been my pet peeve forever, but especially after being a customer service and sales trainer for years and years. So the blog was a way to use my brain and exercise my right to be VOA (AKA Voice of Authority; thank you Jim Curlee.) I figure when I have sumpin' to say in the service arena I can just do it here.

Take Noodles & Company for instance.

I was pretty excited when we moved to Valpo that there was one here because it meant I could get fresh Thai food after a fashion. The only flaw is the portions are just right....leaving NO LEFTOVERS! BOO!

We have eaten there pretty often and really like it. But we were paying for it. Do you know you do not have to pay for their food?

(I KNOW!)

My Mothers and More group set up a 'tasting' at our local Noodles & Company. I wasn't sure what that would look like. This is what it looked like.
My sweet daughter who has excellent manners? She didn't come with me. This is who came with me.

And this one who I swear at ten months old eats adult portions. Seriously! I couldn't get a picture of her with food still on her plate.


The rest of our group stood us up (yer loss: we ate up all yer food!), so we had dinner with my friend Nicole from Mothers and More and her daughter Lauren.
Ashley was in charge of us.

She had our reserved (!) table ready and drinks were also free. She brought full servings of eight different menu items (plus YUMMY potstickers as an appetizer while we waited for them no shows.) All of this was FREE.

WHY would a restaurant offer a free tasting AKA MEAL to just anyone? Ashley explained it was their way of giving back to the community and spreading the word about the different cuisines they offer: Thai, Mediterranean and Asian. She told us the stories behind the store, the beginning, current plans and each of the dishes she chose for us. Ashley was amazing. She was really enjoying herself or she should be a politician because I believed her 100%.

(Ashley if you ever read this, I am sorry about my bebe breaking your plate. And that Her Cuteness kept distracting you as she leaned over backwards in her chair to ogle the wondrous food bringing Goddess you are.)

I made a game out of how many dishes she brought vs. what I had already tasted. It was about 50/50. We had potstickers, Asian Chop Salad, Japanese noodles( I usually stick to the Bangkok curry), Penne Rosa with succulent and habit forming parmesan crusted chicken added...ooh! Then the whole grain(GREAT!) Tuscan Linguini which had lots of onion which I am not a fan of ever. Then we moved along to take out. Oh yeah.

When our kidlets begin the inevitable melt down of a meal exceeding 15 minutes one hour, Ashley offered to pack the rest to go. Really?!? We can leave with food too? All free. Yes Ma'am. Please? I thought we would get leetle side dish boxes of each remaining sample entree. NOPE.
We each got full size entrees of two different mac and cheeses(oh yeah! Bacon Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese, would you marry me? We do not have to tell my hubby)

NOTE: Noodles, Your only flaw is being skimpy with the mac and cheese sauce. We have ordered it several times and even in the tasting servings...too much naked noodle hanging out when they should be clad in cheesy goodness. Please. Fix. This. I won't have this sort of obscene oversight. The only obscenity I want is in the amount of cheese sauce. Please?

We got those PLUS a full sized chicken Caesar sandwich. PLUS two HUGE COOKIES and a rice krispy treat even I had to eat in two sittings. It was big enough I even felt I could afford to share it with my two year old girlie. So three desserts for moi, and Nicole got the same take home bag I did. RI-DIC-U-LOUS.

Noodles & Company, you are a fantastic institution. And Ashley is your Queen.

Oh yeah, I will see you again with my church small group for another tasting. Very. Soon. I'll even pay for my food this time. And I will eat all of it, sadly, and will not have the majestic leftovers I enjoyed today.

So go ahead, if you are lucky enough to live near the heavenly haven of Noodles & Company. Call 'em up and ask about scheduling a tasting. And tip WELL. Cuz you won't be spending any other money there that night!

Haiku Challenge Thursday



A group of friends and I did this many years ago when I was toiling away at a desk. We called it Haiku Challenge and someone would start with three words and we would all Haiku our hearts out using those three words in our haiku. It was tricky, consuming and TRES hilarious.

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and many of us have encouraged him to publish them in a book. I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments of the relevant post!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the three words and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

Try your hand at this
it really is not that hard
come on and just try.

Your three words are: Try, is, come.


Let's hear your haiku!

Owning Up and Doing Right: Pinkalicious Style



We had a tough parenting moment today and I am not sure who cried more, me on the inside or my daughter on the outside. I'm a mean Mama, but my parenting plan is to not be supporting my grown kids, bailing anyone out of jail or becoming a Grandma when she is twelve.



My sweet Cupcake Girl has really been enjoying the book Pinkalicious we borrowed from the library. We have read it at nap and bedtime almost every day this past week.
Last night as I did the final check, smooch and snug on my almost three year old, I saw that she had forcibly removed part of the Pinkalicious book. That we did not own.

The Hubs and I talked over which Love and Logic learning moment we wanted to incorporate, and today I put the plan into action. I was harder on her because when we first addressed the torn page, she said she did do it on purpose!

Oh the library was heartrending! PK had one of her fav toys with her as we walked to the library.
I prepared her that she should offer to pay for the book with the toy since she didn't have money. Oh! Tears tears tears and "YOU pay Mommy!" I explained I didn't rip the book and I wouldn't pay for it. Of course I knew I would pay money to replace it, but that was not the point for her.

We asked for Jenna who knows us and after rehearsing with PK what she should say and praying for Jesus to go with us, she spoke to Miss Jenna. She said she ripped the book, that she was sorry, then stopped. She was holding the beloved toy, "Little Big Bird" behind her back. When I said PK was paying with little big bird she just cried so heartbreakingly, but she did fork him over!

Jenna showed PK how they could repair the torn page so she would not have to pay! Jenna let me know they could keep the toy if I wanted, but I'm not evil! I figured the lesson had been learned already so we all celebrated Little Big Bird's Stay of Execution. We watched her fix the book and headed on with our day. I told Portia I was very proud of her doing the right thing after she did the wrong thing. As they say in "Love and Logic", this was an affordable mistake with a reasonable consequence. I hope these kinds of teachable moments keep her on a track to a healthy, responsible and satisfyingly independent life.

Tiny Red Kitchen: Biggest Loser's "Stuffed Cabbage Strata"

So my husband and I are fat, not quite ready to roll up pizzas and eat 'em like burritos, not quite Biggest Loser caliber fat, but we are pretty far from supermodels in physique.

We eat cheese Pringles and Breyer's ice cream while watching Biggest Loser, and we cuss yell at Bob during the Biggest Loser exercise videos. (I couldn't even finish the easy part of the YOGA video...WTH?)

So last Christmas John got me the big 'ol package of Biggest Loser this and Biggest Loser that. NOT as a less than subtle hint that I am taking up too much of the couch...but because we both like them and need to add new tricks to our bag of "let's not need a forklift to get out of bed, OK Honey?" tricks.

So once in awhile, after a night of eating pizza at Greek's Pizzaria here in Valparaiso, I'll make one of the recipes from the cookbook.

Today's was "Stuffed Cabbage Strata" from page 134 of the Biggest Loser Family Cookbook.

You can also find the recipe on that marvelous Spark People website. Here are the gorGEEEEEous bacon slices sizzling. Mostly raw bacon is kinda gross, huh?

And the chopped onion waiting for it's shredded cabbage mate.

Ready to go into the oven...this recipe calls for an 8 x 8 pan, but they have to be in a sugar coma from a six dozen Krispy Kremes binge because this barely fit into my 12 x 13 inch casserole dish.

When it came out some of the cabbage on top wasn't really cooked well but we scarfed slowly enjoyed every bite of our serving down. Here is the finished pan of loveliness.




I say "Our Serving" that way because even with the generous serving sizes we still wanted to go eat the rest of the pan and only maybe use a fork to do so.

Bodacious Blog of the Week: Hip Tranquil Chick


As I headed out begrudgingly for my run(this is a way more hilarious take on begrudging a run!) this morning I listened to a podcast from Hip Tranquil Chick about breaking free from the drudge in your life and leaping into things that make your heart feel alive. We each need that in different levels, yes? I thought their "Tranquility Du Jour"blog etc. ("One tranquility seeker's sparkly lifestyle musings") could be a load of inspiration and joyful peace to you harried souls!

They also have a eco-friendly yoga class to drinks out clothing line.

Hope you enjoy, would love to hear your comments on their site!

Poop Rant: What Had Better Not Have Happened

Talk about poopy diapers is overrated so please forgive me as I rant. (My hands are now clean, I promise.) Call it poopie to take the disgusting element out and make it cuter. Not cute enough if you ask any parent, but better. Poopie, doody, a mess, a stinky, a load, whatever we parents call it, it is NASTY. No one enjoys a poopy dipe, not even a figurative(or literal) Mother Theresa. The parenting books say to enjoy that diaper change time together. Yeah. So you don't make this face the whole time.

We use cloth dipes so THE POOPIE is even nastier because we get to play with it and do the poop gun, AKA diaper sprayer, on it. And wash it. A lot. But nasty poop clothes? TRASH CAN. Thank you very much. Here is the load my preciousness dropped today that I am ranting about:

Seriously? You thought I would inflict a poopy dipe picture on you? Good Lord no. But I will tell you What Better Not Have Happened in the event I have a poopsplosion to deal with. Share this with prospective new parents, your parents and partners. Make sure this NEVER happens when dealing with the brown stuff in your days.


If I am in the middle of decluttering our swamp of a family desk area

and my toddler is occupied with TV as a babysitter and the baby is going down for a nap and I am enjoying a conversation with my friend Lori, This Better Not Have Happened:

1) No one should have given us a darling purple baby sweater with teeny tiny itty bitty preshups buttons that cannot be unbuttoned quickly when poop is oozing. Everywhere. I will rip the sweater open to get it off and it will go in the trash. I will not even feel remorse. I will be too busy getting poop off of my hands. While I am at it, do not buy any baby clothes that have buttons on the BACK? Really? Babies lie on their back. Poor design. Do not do it.

2) No one should have removed the white dish tub we use to drop dirty dipes in while in the middle of a diaper change and neglected to replace it. Especially if our baby is ten months old and long enough to take up most of the changing table, thus guaranteeing their foot will kick into the pile of poo in the diaper at least once. (or three times). No, I cannot set the dipe on the floor, people. It is oozing and would get all over or our disgusting potty mouth dog would eat it. Yep. It happens. So you may understand my fury that the tub was in another room altogether. You know who you are. Your days are numbered, Pal.

3) No one should have left bath toys in the bath so that when I need to plunge our screaming crying more-than-ready-for-her-nap Cupcake Girl into the tub with poop multiplying on her random body locations by some sort of deranged magic I do not need to keep one hand on her while chucking toys I now hate utterly out of the tub and into the various corners of our usually serene bathroom.

4) Finally, no one should judge me that I gave the finally at last and for a moment clean and poop-free Cherub a bottle for her nap. I did nurse her to take the edge off the poor thing, but I had had enough closeness for this morning.



I am curious about YOUR worst parenting moments and advice you would like to share with the rest of us. We need it.

Haiku Challenge Thursday



A group of friends and I did this many years ago when I was toiling away at a desk. We called it Haiku Challenge and someone would start with three words and we would all Haiku our hearts out using those three words in our haiku. It was tricky, consuming and TRES hilarious.

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and many of us have encouraged him to publish them in a book. I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments of the relevant post!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the three words and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

Fall leaves fall softly
Darn! I do not own a rake.
I guess they will stay.

Your three words are: Fall, own, will.


Let's hear your haiku!

Bodacious Blog of the Week: All Pro Dad (PLUS Top Ten Dad Blogs)

Moms have endless mommybloggers keying away to share tips, laments and resources. You Dads? Not. Much. So here is a short list of Daddy links for you to get a bigger tribe! I would love to hear what any of of you think...and mamas, share with your hubs...everyone benefits.

Enjoy sports and tips at All Pro Dad

And here is a Top Ten Dad Blog list to enjoy from Art at "A Dad's Life"!

Haiku Challenge Thursday



A group of friends and I did this many years ago when I was toiling away at a desk. We called it Haiku Challenge and someone would start with three words and we would all Haiku our hearts out using those three words in our haiku. It was tricky, consuming and TRES hilarious.

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and many of us have encouraged him to publish them in a book. I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments of the relevant post!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the three words and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

Hurry! Go Quickly!
Sesame Street ends too soon.
Well, it was a thought.

Your three words are: Quickly, ends, thought.


*BONUS if you can solve the riddle of topic!



Let's hear your haiku!

The Marriage Bed is More Than Sex.

(It is PILLOWS!)

The marriage bed with its rumpled sheets, hard to leave this early. In the fiveish o'clocks. We make this bed each morning -- lazily because it is just a duvet and one simple decorator pillow. Plus the pillow shams. I guess you have to count our chiropractor 'nerd pillow' pillows too and the regular fluffy bed pillows we would use if our back and necks didn't prefer the nerdy ones. So whatever, it looks nice when we walk back into the room, and I don't care what you say about knowing a man is married or gay if they have more than two pillows on their bed. It looks better.
It looks like you could sink into it, and we do. Mostly to read, to sleep, to wish we could sleep but That Baby is awake again. So I suppose you could say we use it a lot to wish we could sleep. And other things. Yes, you know.

I'm so glad I waited for you. Even if I hadn't before...the three years made you all the more delicious. Being married to you makes everything better. You have such a servant's heart for me and so rarely criticize me out loud...and I know you are a critical thinker. Instead of laying backs to each other and far away(as far as you could get I guess being two fairly large folks in a queen bed) we are close.

We talk, you make me laugh until I cry. Or until snot runs out of my nose along with the tears from laughing convulsively which is kind of unattractive. But you are particularly funny at three o'clock in the morning. Or when I come to bed and you voice your annoyance with all of the pillows like this.


You provide for me a place to be real. To be weak, imperfect, even quite ugly in appearance or heart. Sometimes, like yesterday, both. No shower for a few days and a sweaty run on top of that. One of our children is teething badly and suction cupped to my breast all day and the other is decidedly not using the toilet. I call you at work where you do important things. I am frustrated and upset; close to the edge of making the news and you come home a little early. You take our precious girls away with you to pick up Chinese and allow me quiet. A long hot shower all alone...no tension straining to hear if something happened, if someone is crying. A cold beer on the happy front porch, silence. Nothing to worry about but me.

You didn't have to take them both with you. It wouldn't be easy to carry all that deep fried Chinese food goodness and a baby bucket and hold a toddler hand. But you did, because you care more about my happiness than your own. And that is what I value so very much. You make me want to be a better wife, mother, woman. I won't be. I will still be wretched often, and yet you will still love me, enjoy me, care for me. How blessed I am!

I smile and think it is always you. You were meant for me and I am humbled by that. I am ever grateful that God is my center and He gave me you. Because my taste in men left a lot to be desired. And you in my life makes everything better and you are what I desire. You and a few more pillows. What do you think about red? Maybe tassels? Honey?

Tiny Red Kitchen: Whatever's at Hand Whole Wheat Pizza

Oh we love our pizza around here! We only order delivery once a month or less now that homemade pizza is a regular rotation in the tiny red kitchen. You have heard me rave about Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day here.

Well, their basic bread recipe? That is the weird looking mass in the big white bowl here. You can slather it with olive oil and let it warm up...and YUP! Make it into pizza crust. Awesome.


So I had a ball of mozerella, portobella mushrooms, aging grape tomaters from our farmer's market, basil the only thing that grew from our garden. My eldest peeled the garlic and tore holes in smoothed out the dough.
I had a cup of tomato sauce leftover...would have preferred more. I decided to stretch this into two pizzas since my Dad was joining us and we already fight over food on the table. The mushrooms etc. cooked down a lot so the toppings looked a bit thin. I added green olives on one pizza and blue cheese on another. PRIMO. I pre cook the crust at 400 degrees for about ten minutes. After it is assembled I throw it back in until everything is melting and turning golden brown; usually another ten minutes. I guess you are supposed to let it cool before before eating it. Whatever.

It was so good I almost didn't get to take a picture of it.

We supped out on the patio and uncharacteristically had a random tossed salad alongside. Try the crust recipe and throw literally whatever you have available right on there...EAT UP!

Bodacious Blog of the Week: Penniless Parenting



Penniless Parenting: Extreme Frugality for Moms Like You!

What a find! As a frugalista myself - except for Target Trips: GUESS how much this all cost me?
(Go ahead, GUESS!) I was HAPPY to find this Penniless Parenting blog. I particularly enjoyed her "Underlying Frugal Rules" you can check out here. And although I could not would not in a boat...oh wait.

Although I would not choose to follow all of them, we already adhere to many of them and anyone can save some financial heartache by at least looking them over. I have talked about Wants Vs Needs on our NPR station, catch that post in writing or audio if you are interested.

I trust you will enjoy this blog. Please take a moment and share in the comments what you liked MOST or LEAST on the Penniless Parenting blog!

ANSWER: $85 smackers. (That includes the $20 anti-aging face cream you cannot see and two more boxes of Pirates Booty for Halloween visitors. But STILL.)

Leading from the Couch?

I watched a leadership talk today on Ted delivered by Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg. It was about why women don't make it up the corporate ladder. I was folding laundry as I watched, surrounded by toys and children's books and did I mention laundry? Tiny child laundry. Laundry I never seem to conquer although it seems I am forever at it. I stay home with our two girls but have always been interested in the corporate battle of the sexes so this lecture caught my eye. My husband and I work very well as a team and any gender role rut that may exist is there more because of me than from him.

Sheryl Sandberg's presentation was insightful, painful and inspiring. She had fresh new points to help women of any age take personal responsibility for their success. Even though I do not plan to angle for the corner office, I absorbed her message to teach to my two girls and share with friends. She shared statistics on the disparity in the workplace of women leaders. She encouraged women to do three things you can learn about here.

I have never felt an urge to climb the corporate ladder. When I grow up (or the girls do rather) I plan to do what I already do now; speak to groups and encourage people to live better days. I think working or staying home both have merit. It is hard to parent children no matter how you do it. I am happy to be home with our girls, I do have a Dad in my playgroup who stays home and my husband is eager to have me earn enough money for him to stay home and raise our girls(I promise I am writing that book, Honey!) so my situation is a bit unique. I am still glad to have more positive information in my arsenal with which to send out my girls.

Haiku Challenge Thursday



A group of friends and I did this many years ago when I was toiling away at a desk. We called it Haiku Challenge and someone would start with three words and we would all Haiku our hearts out using those three words in our haiku. It was tricky, consuming and TRES hilarious.

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and many of us have encouraged him to publish them in a book. I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments of the relevant post!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the three words and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

Oh crap! I forgot!
Poetry left the building.
Who blogs to haiku?

Your three words are: forgot, the, who.


Let's hear your haiku!

What is YOUR (simple daily no confetti) Special Occasion?

I agree with Hallmark that LIFE is a Special Occasion! We don't need birthdays and holidays and confetti falling around our party hats to celebrate our lives. When I was little a lot of hard things happened to me. I'm actually glad about this because it means I really appreciate the paths my life has taken and I enjoy the ups and downs because they compliment each other.

I did a bit for NPR local station WVPE 88.1 about Celebrating the little things last year. I just celebrated my hubby's 40th with a birthday week of big and small surprises ending in a Pirate themed birthday party! And I just got a t-shirt that reminded me again how wonderful it is to celebrate the daily, the mundane, the little things. My beautiful friend Stephanie sent me a great card she received as a giveaway pack from Hallmark. It was FANTASTIC because it made me laugh and because of the things she said to my heart in it.

Then she got a happy purple t-shirt from Hallmark and it has this on the front "___________ is a Special Occasion!" She gave one to me. I really thought about how I spend my time, who I love sharing that time with, and what daily things I feel celebratory about. GOT IT! My Kitchen! Here is what I wrote on my shirt:
In case you cannot read that (My two year old was taking the picture).
"Cooking in A Tiny Red Kitchen" is a Special Occasion!

Here is my personal paparazzi. She said "Mama, take my pitchua bent ovah like YOU!"

Cooking in my Tiny Red Kitchen (usually with that bent ovah little girlie) is my Special Occasion. Thanks for the reminder Stephanie! What is YOUR Special Occasion?

Tiny Red Kitchen: Whatever's at Hand Ruebens

(And no, that wasn't meant to be a smart remark about Paul Ruebens. Or at least not until I read it and saw the humor.)

We eat a lot of vegetarian meals, and I got an AWESOME book by the Peas folks on vegan yumminess.

As a sold out carnivore, I had to jack up their vegan Rueben recipe. I did actually look for vegan bacon.

I promise.

BUT.


We also had Seven Sons grass fed bacon in the freezer, I bought some Natural Brown Packaging ham, and well, the rest was history.

Here is what was SUPPOSED to go into these.

Here is what DID go into these: Ham, leftover smoked Ghouda cheese, thousand island dressingesque sweet relish + ketchup+ olive oil mayo and sauerkraut.


There was a funny blue mark on a few pieces of the bacon so I didn't actually put it in. NOW I know it was just food dye. And I do wish my Wiseway carried tempeh bacon because I would actually have tried these a little closer to the book.

I put 'em together, slathered the bread (whole wheat, mais bien sur) with Smart balance and put them in a hot skillet like a normal grilled cheese.

Swiss cheese would have been awesome, pastrami instead of ham might have been better, but OH! We snarfed those puppies right down for dinner with a side of roasted red potatoes (Red taters quartered and stirred in large bowl with olive oil, garlic powder and thyme. Place on baking sheet in 400 degree oven for about an hour or whatever suits your tastes.)

Enjoy whatever version of these you have available in your house, with whatever you have in your hand. Eat Up!

Have You entered the VIP Giveaway?

Today is the last day to enter for the VIP tickets to Taste of Home Cooking School this Thursday! Read allllll about it here.

Bodacious Blog of the Week: Janet Lansbury

Do not confuse this Lansbury with that older Madame who solved mysteries as easily as she (hopefully) applied eye cream. God bless her.

(Should I REALLY be so unkind when I myself have urgent need for eyecream these days? Hmmmm well I always need SOMETHING to work on in the self improvement area.)

AHEM.

Ok, so Janet Lansbury used to be a model and although the initial tone of this blog felt matronly I saw her photo today and was WRONG.

She is just like the rest of us. Gorgeously tired and wise by trial. Oh! She also presents at early childhood conferences and is an expert on these fine early years.

I am an Attachment Parenting and Love & Logic kind of Mama. When I am having a good day. Because I take Wellbutrin. And drink. And eat sweets like crack users fire up or however you do crack.

That said I have found lots of useable ideas and concepts in her blog and she has education to back it. I sure hope you enjoy her. I would love to hear feedback as you flip though her site. AND a great big THANKS to Beth Tipton for sharing her with me initially.

"Janet Lansbury.com, elevating child care" Check out her blog here.