Monday, November 30, 2009

Before and After

I caved and finally let my daughter color her hair. Last week, I took her to my hairdresser who used a temporary color stain to change her hair from blonde to brownish-red. It will gradually fade away over the next 6-8 weeks and there's no maintenance to worry about. I think it's gorgeous and she loves it. Her dad...not so much. I think it's just hard for him to see his little girl growing up.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Back from hiatus and losing my mojo....

I'm back after a little unplanned blogging hiatus. The kids were out of school all last week, so between having them home (and hogging the computer) plus Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping, I've just not had the time or energy to post anything. We had a very nice Thanksgiving with lots of good food and time with family. And, my daughter and I went out with some friends for Black Friday shopping. We arrived at Walmart around 1:30 a.m. and left around 5:45 a.m. -- seriously, that's waaay too much time in a Walmart. It was fun, though and I did buy a couple of gifts that were pretty good deals.

We put up our Christmas tree over the weekend. But, all the other decorations were still in the basement. Tonight, I had the brilliant idea to carry all the storage boxes upstairs and unpack them. They are really in such a mess and need to be reorganized. Half of the items we don't even use anymore so I thought this was the perfect time to declutter and condense. Well, you can see that I have dragged everything out of the boxes and have it sitting on the floor. So far, I have two boxes filled with stuff for Goodwill (it feels so good to get rid of stuff we don't use).

But, now I'm starting to feel tired and I think I'm losing my mojo. I really need to get this all finished before going to bed. And, I'm trying to watch 'Brothers and Sisters' and the sound is all messed up. What's up with that? I sure hope it's a tv technical difficulty and not our television going kapuut!

Do you have your tree or other Christmas decorations up yet?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Movie Trailer Tuesday - Love Actually

Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing some movies that I love to watch around the holidays.

Here's one that a lot of you have probably seen. I love it; it's one of those movies I can watch over and over. If you haven't seen it, you simply must!

The movie takes place in London during the holidays. It follows more than eight different relationships, all of which are somehow inter-related. With a terrific ensemble cast, it's the perfect mix of romance and comedy. A really fun, sweet film!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Life With Four Kids

The ages of our kids are 16, 13, 11, and 9. Here’s a little glimpse of the way things work in our house with four kids…

“Calling it” – If you want dibs on something, you better “call” it. And, you better call it fast. Our kids are always yelling out “I call front seat”, “ I call computer”, “I call Mom and Dad’s bathroom”. And, if you want to stay one step ahead, you better specify how long you’re calling it – “I call front seat for the entire day!”

Interruptions – You will more than likely be interrupted a lot. If one of my kids start to tell a story, they have learned to premise it by saying loudly to everyone, “Don’t interrupt”

Noise – This one is pretty self explanatory. 4 kids=noise

Memory – My kids often forget to make their beds or pick up their dirty laundry, but, they never forget each and every single time any of their siblings have got to buy something or go somewhere. They can definitely keep score when it comes to that kind of stuff.

Laundry – I literally do laundry every single day. And, I’m still never completely caught up. On the rare occasion that I take a day off from laundry…let’s just say, it’s not pretty. Piles of laundry are one of my biggest stresses.

Fussing and Fighting – This is really hard for me to take. My siblings were quite a bit older than me, so as I grew up, they were already moving out on their own. I never had to deal with fighting and bickering with them. My kids do it all the time. They can argue over just about anything, no matter how insignificant it may seem.

Mealtime Assembly Line – When our kids were younger, dinnertime was easier if we left all the food on the stove and prepared their plates for them. We would fill up their plates, cup up their food, and place it before them at the table. Now that they are older, we still find ourselves doing it this way. Although this made things run smoothly when they were little, I now see that it has put them at somewhat of a disadvantage. I say this because last night I discovered that my 11 yr. old son didn’t know how to cut up his chicken breast. Ooops!

Love, Affection, and Companionship – And, last but not least, with four kids, there’s always lots of this kind of good stuff to go around!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More Holiday Shopping Gift Ideas '09

Here are some more gift ideas that I wanted to share with you. These are not paid endorsements or reviews - just neat things that I have come across while perusing the internet. Maybe you'll see something that will help with your holiday shopping.

Voice Changer from Restoration Hardware
Disguise your voice with nine wacky effects. Having three boys, I know this would be a big hit in our house!

Say What Game by Radica

"There's a new twist on word scrambles with this talking, hands-on electronic game, which begins by telling you a phrase out of order. See how quickly you can reorder the word balls until the game calls out the correct phrase. This includes electronic scoring, three ways to play, and age appropriate levels of difficulty for fair game play."

We have this game and it's a lot of fun! Set it out when you have guests and everyone - adults and kids - will want to give it a try. My kids love it. Even if they have never heard of some of the phrases, they can still try to figure them out.

Boom Blocks Mini iPod® Speaker Dock at The Land of Nod
$12.95 each
This would be a great little stocking stuffer

Kids Black & White Scottie Dog Collectible Porcelain Toy Tea Set from Gooseberry Patch

Holly sprig graphic courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Movie Trailer Tuesday - The Family Stone

Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing some movies that I love to watch around the holidays.

From Netflix:

Although their relationship works in the city, things begin to fall apart for buttoned-up Manhattanites Everett (Dermot Mulroney) and Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) when they visit the suburbs for the holidays to stay with Everett's family. Sarah's first meeting with Everett's parents (Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson) proves so traumatic that she calls in her sister (Claire Danes) for backup -- a move that only makes Christmas more complicated.

Big families who are all in each other's business and act a little crazy are right up my alley. I love this movie!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Book Review - After You

After You A Novel by Julie Buxbaum

When Ellie learns that her best friend, Lucy, has been murdered in Notting Hill, she is devastated. Not only was she murdered in broad daylight, but also in front of her eight year old daughter, Sophie. Ellie immediately leaves her husband and home in Boston and flies to London. Because of the traumatizing experience of seeing her mother killed, Sophie has stopped talking. Ellie feels an intense need to be there for the little girl and her father. Knowing that she and Sophie both share a love of reading, Ellie begins to read the book 'The Secret Garden', hoping that it will somehow comfort Sophie. As the two become engrossed in the story, Sophie begins to open up little by little.

While Ellie continues her stay in London, she adds to the problems that were already present in her own marriage. And, after discovering some secrets about Lucy, she begins to question everything in her life - her marriage, her past, and her future. When an unexpected surprise occurs, Ellie is not sure which way to turn. Does she return to Boston, to her husband and her old life? Or, does she stay in London and take care of Sophie?

This was a great book. Being a mother and having a lifelong best friend, I could certainly relate to both Ellie and Lucy on many points.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kmart Bluelight Special Holiday Sweepstakes

Kmart's red classic logo (1990-2004).Image via Wikipedia

Blue Light Specials are back, and to celebrate in style Kmart will be giving shoppers on Twitter a chance to win a $50 gift card everyday! In addition to the chance to win daily, everyone following @KmartDealsnNews on Twitter will be automatically entered for a chance to win a $500 Kmart shopping spree – how cool is that?!

The sweepstakes runs from November 12th until December 23rd. Winning couldn’t get easier - all you have to do is follow @KmartDealsnNews on Twitter from your personal Twitter account and issue a Tweet everyday using our hashtag: #KmartBLS. Each day is a new opportunity to win, so the more often you tweet - the better your chances are to win a Daily prize!

For more info on sweepstakes details, check out:

For Official Rules:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Share-A-Smile Saturday! #2

Time to share a few things that have made me smile or laugh this week...

Humor with dead flies - I'm not sure what to say about this, but, it made me laugh. Someone spent a lot of time getting these photos all put together.

Rules That Guys Wish Girls Knew - funny and true!


Poor Piglet!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Meet Leslie Blodgett And Get An Autographed Bottle Of Bare Skin 11/18 and 11/19

For any Bare Escentuals fans who may be in or around NYC or Tampa next week, RSVP today for your chance to meet Leslie Blodgett—and get a bottle of Bare Skin autographed!

What a fun opportunity - I wish I could be there.

Leslie will be making two (2) in-store appearances to celebrate the launch of her exclusive new fragrance collection, Leslie Blodgett Perfume Diaries! Come talk beauty with the woman behind the Bare Skin scent, sample the fragrance, and if you’re one of the first 100 to buy a bottle on the day of the event, Leslie will sign it!*

Sephora Times Square
At 42nd Street and 7th Avenue
Wednesday, November 18
5:30-7:30 PM
RSVP here

Sephora International Plaza
2223 N. West Shore Blvd.
(Cross-Streets: West Shore & Boy Scout Blvd.)
Thursday, November 19
6-8 PM
RSVP here

*Leslie Blodgett Perfume Diaries purchase required for bottle or packaging to be autographed. Autograph possible but not guaranteed after first 100 bottles have been purchased on day of event

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Random Bits and Pieces

~Last weekend, we took the kids to see the new Christmas Carol 3D movie. We also went out to dinner before the movie. Very rarely do we do this because it's just so expensive. But, thanks to General Mills and My Blog Spark, I had some free movie tickets. Even then, we still spent $100 on dinner and movie concessions. Why is it okay for the theater to charge $4.50 for a bottle of water? Anyway, I digress...getting back to the movie. I really hate to say it, but, I was disappointed in the movie. The 3-D effects were totally awesome, especially in the beginning of the movie. But, the rest of it was honestly a little boring. My youngest is nine, he had to fight to stay awake. And, I think parts of the movie would be scary if you had younger kids, like maybe under six years old or so.

~Update on my Dad: He had his last radiation treatment this week (he took a total of 20). He's had three chemo treatments so far and three more to go. I'm so happy to say that he has handled it all very well - no nausea or vomiting at all. He's doing really great. He will have another set of scans in early December to see if the treatments have been able to shrink the mass. Please keep your fingers crossed and say a prayer that it's good news.

~I'm getting excited about Christmas! I have started to do a little Christmas shopping as well as playing my Christmas music playlist on my ipod. I just wish it would hurry up and get cold already. We've been in the 60's most days. I know it's silly, but, it just doesn't seem like holiday time until it gets cold.

~I got about 3.5 inches cut off my hair yesterday and I'm not liking it. Not at all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Movie Trailer Tuesday - Bonneville

When her husband, Joe, dies, Arvilla wants to fulfill his wish by scattering his ashes. His daughter, on the other hand, insists on burying his ashes next to her mother. Threatened with losing her home if she doesn't give in to the daughter, Arvilla and her two best friends, set out on the trip of a lifetime. What starts as a plan to deliver Joe to his daughter for burial, turns into a crazy adventure, with the three friends learning a lot about themselves and each other. Jessica Lange, Joan Allen and Kathy Bates are all terrific in this heartwarming story.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Holiday Shopping Gift Ideas '09

I love browsing around and doing some online "window shopping", especially now that it's getting close to Christmas. Over the next few weeks, I thought I would share some of my fun finds with you. These are not paid endorsements or reviews - just neat things that I have come across while perusing the internet. Maybe you will see something that will help you with your holiday shopping.

For Her

Personalized Sterling Silver Bracelet from $49.98

For Him

Personalized Valet Tray from $22.99

For Teen Girl - how cute is this? This clock will "awaken you gently and sweetly with woodsy chirping sound and a little bird icon that pulses and glows. Early Bird is a traditional analog clock, so you can just spin the little pointer to set the alarm and press the birdie when you're awake."

Early Bird Alarm Clock from The Happy Woman Store $24.00

For Kids

Legends of Magic Set from $69.00

Holly sprig graphic courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Friday, November 6, 2009

Take A Chance Challenge - Challenge #5

I'm so excited to be participating in the Take A Chance Challenge hosted by Jenners over at Find Your Next Book Here. She has come up with 10 fun and clever tasks that involve books, reading, and even a little writing. This is my blog entry for Challenge #5.

Here are the instructions for this particular challenge:

5.Phoning An Author
Pick a random last name out of the phone book. Find an author with the same last name and read a book by them. Write about it. (I'm flexible ... if the first random name you pick is Xprxyrsss, you can pick again!)

I closed my eyes, flipped open the phone book, and pointed my finger. The random last name I landed on was Ray. Then, at the library, I went to the fiction section to see what I could find. What I found was this:

Julie and Romeo by Jeanne Ray

Julie Roseman is Jewish, 60 years old, with two grown daughters - Sandy, who has moved back home with her two kids after getting divorced, and Nora, the outspoken, gorgeous, married real estate agent. Julie herself is divorced, her husband having left her for a younger woman. Julie runs a florist that has been in her family for years, and right now, business is not going very well.

Romeo Cacciamani is Italian, catholic, 60 years old, with five grown children. He is a widow and lives in a duplex with his 90 year old mother, two of his children, a daughter-in-law, and three of his grandchildren. Romeo also runs his family-owned florist.

The Rosemans and The Cacciamanis; very different families who happen to own the only two florists in town. They also happen to be mortal enemies. As a little girl, Julie can remember her father spitting on the ground every time he heard the name "Cacciamani." These families hate each other. Come to think of it, though, Julie doesn't really know why they hate each other. No one ever explained it to her. It was just a known fact that the Rosemans hated the Cacciamanis and vice verse.

When Julie and Romeo both happen to attend a small business seminar on how to improve their shops, they run into each other face to face for the first time in many years. They make small talk and soon realize that there is no hatred between them. Instead, they are drawn together by an intense attraction and bond. Soon, they are sneaking around town going on dates. Julie, whose marriage was never that great, thought it was too late to find true, passionate love. Romeo, who adored his late wife, never thought he would find love again. They know that this thing between them is something special and they intend to pursue it (even if they must do so secretly).

Before long, their secret relationship is discovered by their families and all hell breaks loose. Nora calls her dad and flies him home with his young new wife to try and talk some sense into Julie. One of Romeo's sons comes to visit Julie and warns her to stay away from his father. And, Romeo's 90 year old mother sneaks over to Julie's garden in the middle of the night to salt her roses. The antics that go on to try and keep Julie and Romeo apart are crazy. Will they be able to withstand the trouble or should they give up their love to appease their families?

I immediately liked the characters of Julie and Romeo and rooted for them all the way. This was a light, sweet, and funny story with a happy ending.

Aloha Friday - Chili

It's Friday - time to take it easy and get ready for the weekend. I will post something quick and easy for you to respond to...

Today, let's talk chili. Now that the crisp cool autumn days are here, it's the perfect time to enjoy some chili. I was talking with my daughter's piano teacher about this and was surprised to learn that she had never had chili with spaghetti noodles - she never even heard of anyone putting spaghetti noodles in their chili. What? That's the only way we've ever made it, but, maybe it's not as common as I think.

I like my bowl of chili (made with spaghetti noodles) with a couple of crushed-up saltine crackers and some shredded cheddar cheese on top. And, I like mine to be pretty mild; I don't do spicy. My husband adds jalapeno slices to his bowl.

What about you? How do you make chili - with or without spaghetti?
Do you add in any other toppings?

If you would like to participate in Aloha Friday, visit An Island Life.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Take A Chance Challenge - Challenge #7

I'm so excited to be participating in the Take A Chance Challenge hosted by Jenners over at Find Your Next Book Here. She has come up with 10 fun and clever tasks that involve books, reading, and even a little writing. This is my blog entry for Challenge #7.

Here are the instructions for this particular challenge:

Challenge 7: Random Bestseller
Go to and, using the True Random Number Generator, enter the number 1950 for the min. and 2008 for the max. and then hit generate. Then go to this site and find the year that generated for you and click on it. Then find the bestseller list for the week that would contain your birthday for that year. Choose one of the bestsellers from the list that comes up, read it and write about it.

My random year was 1998. The book I chose was Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. It was on the bestseller list for the week of August 23rd, 1998.

As a child, I read and loved many of Judy Blume's books. But, I wasn't really familiar with any of her adult works, so, I was anxious to check this one out.

It's 1990. Victoria, or Vix as she's known to her family and friends, gets a call at work. It's her longtime childhood friend, Caitlin. She tells Vix that she has to come and be her maid of honor; she's getting married! After agreeing to come and be Caitlin's maid of honor, Vix hangs up the phone. She goes to the office restroom and gets sick. Why did she agree to this?

Then, it flashes back to 1977. Caitlin is the new girl at Acequia Madre Elementary school in Santa Fe. She's beautiful, outspoken, and fearless. All the kids love her. Vix, is quiet, shy, and in awe of Caitlin. When Caitlin approaches Vix out of the blue and invites her to spend the summer with her family at the beach, Vix is thrilled. Over the next eight years, Vix continues to spend all her summers with Caitlin. Although they come from very different backgrounds - Caitlin's family has money, Vix's family doesn't - they become best friends. They become "summer sisters."

This coming of age story follows Vix and Caitlin as they grow up and experience many firsts - first crushes, first jobs, first loves, "first times".... Their relationship is far from perfect, but, they share a special bond that can't seem to be broken. Caitlin is wild and reckless, a wanderlust. Vix, more stable, focused on going to college and making something of herself. Their lives take different paths, but they always seem to find their way back together.

I loved this book! From page one, I didn't want to put it down. I have to admit, I did not like Caitlin and couldn't identify with her at all. But, the dynamics between the two girls really drew me in. And, there were so many interesting characters that really added to the story. I was very satisfied with the ending.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Movie Trivia and 400 Posts - GIVEAWAY WINNER

Thanks to everyone who played along in my movie trivia contest. I tried to make it pretty easy, but, even if you didn't answer all of the questions correctly, you were still entered in the giveaway. Sorry for the delay in posting the winner, time got away from me yesterday. But, without further ado...

The randomly selected winner of the $25 Visa Gift Card is:

Anissa said...
1. School of Rock
2. Almost Famous
3. Iron Man
4. Twilight
5. Good Will Hunting
6. The Wizard of Oz
7. Terms of Endearment?
8. Speed
9. 27 Dresses
10. Ever After

October 28, 2009 12:49 PM

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:

Timestamp: 2009-11-03 13:41:32 UTC

Congratulations to Anissa! You correctly identified all of the movie photos.
Please contact me with your mailing information within 48 hours. If I do not hear from you within that time, another random winner will be selected.

Movie Trailer Tuesday - Death at a Funeral

From Netflix:

The funeral for the patriarch of a wealthy but eccentric British clan is turned topsy-turvy when a stranger appears, claiming to be the dead man's gay lover, in this black comedy from director Frank Oz. The dysfunctional family grows wackier as the deceased's sons decide they can't let the rest of the guests get wind of this revelation.


Monday, November 2, 2009

On The Dinner Table Tonight - Mexican Chicken

Here's what we're having for dinner tonight - Mexican Chicken. It's one of our go-to family favorites that we usually have at least once per month. The recipe is very easy, but, one of those that I don't have exact ingredient amounts for (I tend to adjust amounts and just throw them in until I feel like it's right). After you make it a few times, you can decide if you like it thicker or thinner, spicier, less cheese, etc. This is the basic recipe I use to feed my family of 6 (and we always have tons leftover):

Mexican Chicken

-4 to 5 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into small pieces (you can use more or less chicken depending on your preference or amount you wish to make)

-Minute Instant White Rice, prepared as directed (I prepare the "6 servings" amount)

-2 Cans Cream of Chicken Soup

-2 Cans Cream of Celery Soup

-1 Can Petite Diced Tomatoes

-1 Jar Salsa (any brand you prefer, I use about 3/4 of the 16 oz. size jar)

-Velveeta Cheese

-Sour cream and/or jalapeno slices, optional

Combine prepared chicken and prepared rice in a large bowl.

Next, add the soups and can of tomatoes to the chicken/rice mixture

Add salsa

Mix well. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish

Cover the entire casserole with sliced Velveeta cheese

Cover with foil and place in 375 oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and casserole is heated through (remove foil for last 5-10 minutes)

Garnish with sour cream and/or jalapeno slices, if desired. Serve on a plate with nacho chips. (We use the chips to scoop up the casserole, no forks required!)

As sides, we usually have black beans and a garden salad or fruit salad.