Monday, November 30, 2009

Tipaphobic


I have a mom (didja know that? That I had a mom? Shocker, huh?)...so, anywho...this mom of mine, she is a tip junkie.

A tip-aholic.



It's a little ridiculous, really.


I mean, I think she spends more on her vacations just tipping people, than she does on anything else (admit it mom...it's soooo true?!!!)...she tips everyone from the taxi driver to the stranger sharing her cab...from the door man to the people on vacation with her.

Seriously, I wouldn't doubt if she tipped her doctor after a pap smear.

Well, okay...that's takin' it a little far.

But, her excessive, random tippingness, has turned me into a tip-aphobe!!

It's true...I am now obsessed with who(m?) y
ou do and/or don't tip.

I once had the carpet cleaner scheduled to come clean our carpets (imagine that!! A carpet cleaner cleaning carpets!! Geepers,
have you ever heard of such a thing? Why I never...)

So, anywho...the carpet dude comes driving down the driveway...and I panic...I pick up the phone, speed dial my mama, and whisper (whisper, 'cuz you know, Carpet Dude likely has bionic ears and can hear me, all the way out there in his van...), "Mom...do I tip the Carpet Dude?!!!!!"

Her response? "Um, no. I don't think you have to tip the Carpet Dude."


Really??!!! Well, I bet if we were on vacation we'd tip the Carpet Dude! I was shocked.

And relieved.

But confused.

I mean, if you don't tip the Carpet Dude, then who do you tip?

So, anyway...I have become tipaphobic. I don't know who to tip or what to tip or how much to tip or when to tip.

It's a curse.

It's all consuming.

But...but!!! There is one thing I know for certain...I don't tip fast food joints.

I mean, c'mon!!!

Even McDonald's doesn't do tips!

I went through a drive thru today (and, for real...what doesn't scream fast food, than a drive thru?!!)...and, the dude hands me a slip to "sign", with a spot for a tip.

Really?

Does this mean that I hafta start tipping the cashiers at the grocery stores?

Or, perhaps the dental hygienist when I get my teeth cleaned? (Oh, gosh...wait...are you supposed to tip the hygienist? Oh, man!!! Another one to worry about...better call my mom...)

Am I totally off base to think it's wrong that fast food joints are now asking for tips? I saw him look at it, too...he was all, "Hmmmm...did she tip me?"

Gosh...they probably spit in my food. "Stupid non-tipper girl...'Hock a loogey in that order, Bob...we got ourselves a non-tipper!'..."

Ugh.

What's a girl to do?

I need a book...a "Tipping Etiquette" book...do they make those?

And where can I buy one?


Yours truly,


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chocolate Star Cookies!


I, am a keeper of my word!


Since The TreeHouse Chronicles are on sabbatical, I'm gonna put on my food blogger hat and show you the ever amazing,

...the delectable,

...the delicious,


...the fabulastic...

Chocolate Star Cookie,


...courtesy of the "Original Mama"..ahem...that'd be my mama, who has these down to a perfect science...*begin chant* "we're not worthy! We're not worthy!!"

First, cream together the sugars, oil and butter...this is where I long for a KitchenAid Mixer...and begin cursing this home, which is seriously lacking natural light.


Next, add in the eggs,


And "seasonings" (um...can you call it "seasonings"...when you're baking? Is it flavorings? Or, neither...perhaps, just "additional stuff" will do...) and look up the number for the realtor to begin your search for a home with natural light...or, just grab a hatchet, climb on the roof, and chop away...creating a nice, natural "sky light" for yourself.


Ahem...or not.

Then, if you are like me...take a call from your freshly po
st-partum friend, who is now a mother of twins and needing some breastfeeding advice...come back when the phone call is finished to find a strangely bubbly concoction of "additional stuff" goin' on in the bowl.


Shrug your shoulders, grab your pitiful hand mixer and mix away...hoping for the best, praying that all that "stuff" didn't do some funky chemical reaction while it sat (for the record, I'd actually not recommend the phone call step...unless, of course, you have a friend in need...).

When all that "stuff" is mixed good and well...toss in the flour, and mix away again...continue to pine for that KitchenAid Mixer...perhaps adding a tear or two the batter as you man handle your stupid little hand mixer (when will that God forsaken thing just give out and give me an excuse to "need" a KitchenAid Mixer?!!!!)...and this is where I resort to "flash photography"...stupid, stinkin', lacking natural light house...


Now is the fun part...

If you do not own a small cookie scoop, rush out to your nearest retail store and fetch yourself one...you'll thank me later.

Using your newly procured cookie scoop, drop the batter (which is light and fluffy) onto the cookie sheet.


Throw the sheet into the preheated oven (or, place it gently...it'll give you less mess that way...), and wait for perfection...

When the perfection is perfectly perfect...(very, barely, slightly golden brown on the bottomest edge...bottomest, that's not a word, is it?), place a Chocolate Star atop the hot cookies...


What is a Chocolate Star? It is NOT a chocolate kiss!!

Do not make that horrible mistake.

A Chocolate Star is a perfect little piece of
chocolate that absolutely makes this cookie.

No piddly kiss'll do.

It MUST be a star, or I take no responsibility for your cookies.

Then...then? Ooop...whoop...uh oh...oh NO! Drop a coupla cookies onto a coupla others, and...gosh, darn it...now you have to eat the "mistakes"!


You'll thank me later.

Chocolate Star Cookies:
1 c. sugar
1 c. powder sugar
1 c. butter (softened)
1 c. Mazola oil
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp salt
4 1/4 c. flour
Chocolate Stars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream together sugars, butter and oil. Add eggs, soda, vanilla, cream of tartar and salt. Mix well. Add flour, mix well. Drop on cookie sheet, bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, cookies should not be brown...they will almost look not done. Place a star atop each cookie immediately out of oven, allow to cool a bit on cookie sheet, then transfer to cooling rack.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Continued Celebration!

Just when I thought I couldn't possibly consume another 12,000 calories in one day...

I'm gonna do it again!


Um...okay...well...if I were to be completely honest, it'll probably be more than 12,000 calories.

You know...maybe I should take up Olympic swimming a
s a hobby. Help me burn some of these calories.

Anyone know how to get ahold of those Olympic folks?

See if they'd want me?

Ahem...


Moving on...

So, today, we're celebrating Thanksgiving, again!!

And the creme de le creme?

The piece de resistance?

The golden nugget (or something)?

I'll get to watch a football game of epic
proportions!!

Really, you should be envious of me.

Or not.

For today, my friends, is when the annual "Pig's A**
Bowl" takes place at my parents!

My dad,
(This is the Old Man)


My bros and Big A.:
(The Great One...And Big A.)

(This is Treehorn)
(The Chosen One)
Yeah, those five...they'll be takin' on my uncle, his sons and son-in-law, and his grandson in a Bowl like no other.

And, it ain't a pretty sight.

Trust me on that one.

I'll likely be putting my nursing skillz to work...seems like there's always a knee to the head in one of these games...and, I'm not so sure it's accidental.

And, to be completely honest. I like to see 'em suffer...so, actually, no nursing skillz will be handed out to anyone taller than me...unless, of course, it's my Big A.

Then I will...but for the rest of 'em?

Nah. (You should hear 'em talk smack!! It's hilarious!! But, they totally deserve what's comin'!)

I love these get togethers.

A buncha hoodlums and a few perfectly pretty people (ahem...I like to place myself in the latter group) gathering to eat, laugh, eat some more, talk smack, laugh some more...and then eat again!

Next year...I'll invite you. ;)

Happy Thanksgiving, again!!


Portion Control--Tip #4



'Sup ladies?!!

Anyone burn some major calories doin' a little Black Friday shoppin' yesterday? I didn't.

I took a nap.

Does sleeping burn calories? 'Cuz, if it does, I'm golden!

Okie dokie, then...today's healthy tip goes hand in hand with the giveaway goin' on over here!!

Portion control, dudes!! That's what I'm talkin' about.

Didja know that your serving of meat should be the size of a deck of cards? (I did know this...but I seem to play with those gigantic cards for the elderly? You know...the ones the size of dinner plates? Yup...those.)

Didja know that 1/2 of your plate should be fruits and veggies? With a 1/4 for meat and a 1/4 for grains?

Um...wow. Nope, I didn't know that.

I knew veggies and fruit were important and all, but 1/2 my plate?

Man, I've been doin' this all wrong!

So, let's start thinking about those portion sizes!! Take a good close look at our plates and see if it meets the recommendations!


I'm pretty sure, today...mine won't.

A Thanksgiving feast to match no other is where I'll be today!

And, man...it's hard to judge "portions" when you take "a little of this and a little of that...and that, and that, and THAT"!

But, I'll try.

I think.

And, if you haven't yet...head on over to Keely's to check out the fitness tip!


Friday, November 27, 2009

Five Question Friday!! 11/27/09

My Little Life

Happy Black Friday, my friends!!! Anyone still recovering?!

Well, it may be Black Friday, but it's also Five Question Friday!!! Whoo-hooo!!! The blog carnival that poses quirky, fun questions so we can get to know each other better!! And, you know...have a chance to answer quirky, fun questions about ourselves!

I mean...who doesn't love that?!!

Da rulez...copy the following questions to your blog, answer them, grab the MckLinky blog hop code, and link up!! I'd lurve it if you'd link back to me, Mama M!!

Don't have a blog, but wanna participate?

Feel free to answer the questions in the comments below!!

All righty then...let's get started!

Questions for November 27th: (Thanks to Adrienne and Tyler for their question suggestions!!)

1.
Do you do a real or fake Christmas tree?

2.
What is your favorite Christmas tradition with your family?

3. Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in your neck of the woods? And, if so...how many calories do you think you consumed yesterday?

4. Have you started decorating for Christmas, yet?

5. What is your favorite Christmas cookie?

(Can you tell people are getting in the Christmas spirit?!!)

---------------------------------------------

1. Do you do a real or fake Christmas tree?

Oh, man...it wouldn't be Christmas without a real tree in this household!!!

I love real trees...cutting it down, getting it just right, the smell, the mess, the endless needles...well, okay, I could do without the needles and the mess...but I'd never trade a real tree for nuthin'!!

In fact, we'll be getting our tree on Sunday!

Bring out the cider...and the music...and the love...and the fighting ("no, that's MY ornament"!!)...and the broken ornaments...mmmmmm, I love it!!

2.
What is your favorite Christmas tradition with your family?

Midnight mass.

And, well...it's not so much a family event, but it's my favorite tradition!!

Mr. Wonderful and I, and occasionally, Big A., leave the Christmas Eve celebration at my parents, settle the little kids in, leave my aunt in charge of them, and head off to church.

It's amazing...the smells, and the spirit, and the songs, and the celebration of baby Jesus' birthday!!!

I love it...totally love it!! ;)

3. Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in your neck of the woods? And, if so...how many calories do you think you consumed yesterday?

Heck yes, we do!!

Next to Christmas, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays!!

I love that it's kept it's meaning throughout the years...celebrating with family, giving thanks, eating 'til your buttons pop...it's awesome!

Okay, so calories...you know Michael Phelps? Yup...he of the bazillion Olympic Gold Medals?

I was totally on the Michael Phelps 12,000 calorie diet yesterday. Or, maybe more.

I can't be sure.

4. Have you started decorating for Christmas, yet?

Nope, not yet!! But, come later today, we'll be breaking out the Christmas totes!!

I can't wait...


Some
Christmas tunes, a little Peppermint Schnapps spiked hot chocolate, candles galore...wooo hoooo!!!

5. What is your favorite Christmas cookie?

Oh, man!!! Just one?!!!

Okay...ummmmmm...if I hafta choose just one...I'd say my mom's Chocolate Star cookies.

Dang, she has those things down pat!! A melt in your mouth sugar cookie with a yummy, melty chocolate star...all in perfect proportions!

An amazing ratio of chocolate to cookie.

Amazing.

And, now...it looks like I'll be baking today.

Mama needs some chocolate star cookies!!!

Okay, friends!! Your turn!


MckLinky Blog Hop


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!!!


Sometimes, I get so wrapped up in life...so consumed by the daily grind...

That I forget how incredibly thankful I am.


I mean...wow.

Really...just wow...

I have an amazing husband, who loves me even if I leave the breakfast mess on the counter for him to come home to...



I have 5 incredible kiddos, who are healthy and safe...

Big A...and the way he is becoming such a nice
young man...I hafta be honest...I thought 13 would've been a lot harder!


Miss E...and the way she loves.


E.W...my Lego-maniac, with his HUGE heart and infectious laugh.


Little A...with his happy go-lucky, laid back nature...his, "old soul".


Baby Girl...with her spunk, her Independence, her strong will.



I am thankful for my family, and our closeness...not only in proximity, but also our hearts!

I am thankful that my husband and I have careers that are stable...

That I live in this great country.

I am INCREDIBLY thankful for the men and women who are serving our country, to make sure our right's are not taken away from me or you.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!!

May your day be blessed, your tummies full, and your hearts overflowing...

All my love,

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Getting in The Spirit

I dunno 'bout you, but...last year, I was a Scrooge.

It was all "Bah-humbug" and crabbiness,

Hustling and bustling, on a mission to just "git 'er done".

I didn't get into the Christmas spirit at. all. last year.

And I knew it, I saw it in myself, and it just made it worse!

So, this year...I've already decided...I'm focusing on the "Reason for the Season" and not so much on the "materialism" of the season.

Baby Jesus' Birthday is why we celebrate my most favorite holiday of all!!

So, bring on the music, the candles, the movies, the warm fuzzies, and the reminders of why we celebrate!!

Mama's gettin' in the spirit!!

A couple of years ago, I decided that I was no longer going to respond "Happy Holidays" to someone who wished me "Happy Holidays"...so, me, being the rebellious rogue that I am (*snort*), began saying "Merry Christmas".

And, the response I got was awesome...cashiers would lift their exhausted eyes from their registers and actually looked at me...and then thank me, for saying "Merry Christmas"!!

Once, I was privy to a rebellious rogue cashier who, although she had been instructed otherwise, was saying "Merry Christmas" to those in her line!

It felt good...it feels good.

I don't do this to exclude or to make people feel uncomfortable or uneasy...not at all!!! I am a tolerant and understanding person, which is why I guess I believe people should be understanding of my beliefs.

I'm not asking people to agree with my beliefs or to change their own religious beliefs.

I mean, I don't say boo to my Muslim patients who come to the Catholic hospital where I work and take the crosses off the wall...surely we can be tolerant of one another's beliefs, no?

And, with that said...if I know someone is Jewish, I'll cheerily wish them a "Happy Hanukkah!"...or, to those that are Muslim, I'd gladly say "Happy Ramadan!!" to them, and to those that celebrate Kwanzaa..."Merry Kwanzaa, to you!!"

So, yes...a general "Happy Holidays" covers them all...but, if you see me on the street, wish me a "Merry Christmas"!!!

Because I hope y'all have a:

Merry Christmas!

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Kwanzaa!!

Happy Ramadan!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Do you ever wonder...

...why, when the checkbook's off, it's never to your benefit?

...why athletes make millions playing, while stay-at-home moms make nothing and work harder than anyone?



...why babies can go home to parents that need to prove themselves "unfit" before that babe can go to a safe home, yet we need a license to drive a car?

...how the ground can freeze solid, but the frogs still make it through the winter?

...how you could possibly love another baby as much as your first?

...why your heart doesn't just explode from being too full of love?

...why some people can eat a whole pie, and seemingly burn more calories digesting it than they did eating it, while others, merely glance at that pie and gain 5 pounds?

...where all those missing socks go?

...if Barbie really couldn't stand if she were real?

...why some fashions ever make a come back? (hello blue eye shadow and leg warmers...)

...if everything happens for a reason?


Hot and Healthy--Week 4



Yowza! I can't believe we are already at week 4! Ca-razy! Time is flyin' when you're havin' fun or somethin'...

So now that we have 3 weeks down...you have to be feelin' Hot and Healthy...we hope! At least more so than you were...right!?!

So of course we have a few questions for ya...

Have you gotten into a good workout routine that you're able to stick to?

Did you try Keely's Pilates exercises...please say you did...please!?!

Did you get all your cardio in?

Did you have any fast food...if so, did Mama M's awesome healthy tips post make you choose more carefully?

Last, but sooo not least...are you feeling Hot and Healthy?

Once you have the questions answered, make sure you link up...there is a giveaway over here!! Feel free to just leave us comments too if you don't have a blog and can't link up...

And, the winner of the amazing giveaway from last week is...#13, Helga!!! Congrats, Helga!! Email me so I can get you hooked up with an awesome prize!!!

----------------------------------

Cardio for this week...lets keep it at the 170 mins and keep doing the Pilates exercises at least 3 days.

Don't worry ladies, if you don't think that's enough cardio...it will be upped next week.

Wahoo!!

We thought we'd go easy on ya this week, being Thanksgiving and all.

----------------------------------

Have you gotten into a good workout routine that you're able to stick to?

Ugh...I hate to admit it, but no.

Loser me...I hate a bad week last week (I know, excuses, excuses!!!)...and between work, feeling blue (hello, Captain PMS...), and beginning Christmas shopping...I wasn't able to get into a routine.

'Course, if I'd get my butt of this computer chair, maybe I could do a little something!

Did you try Keely's Pilates exercises...please say you did...please!?!

*sheepishly* No (*hangs head in shame*)...but, I did watch the leg one.

And I watched with envy and awe as that lady did those exercises without getting winded or crying.

Some people are so amazing...so stinkin' amazing!

Did you get all your cardio in?

No...not even close...and, I'll be honest...I'm afraid for this week.

I'm really gonna try tho'!!

Really, really!!!

Did you have any fast food...if so, did Mama M's awesome healthy tips post make you choose more carefully?

Now, this is where I'm kickin' some major Hot and Healthy butt!!

We did go to Mickey D's...I didn't get my cup 'o chilled fat like I usually do (good-bye forever, sweet Iced Coffee...it's been nice knowin' ya!!)...but, I got a fat-free latte and a grilled snack wrap!

Major savings on fat grams and calories!

Major.

Last, but sooo not least...are you feeling Hot and Healthy?

I am feeling healthier, for sure...not quite there on the "hotter", tho!!

My eating has definitely improved, now...if I can just kick this exercise thing into gear, we'll be set!!!




MckLinky Blog Hop

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Limerick for You

There once was a woman called Mama,
(That's me)
Who wasn't a fan of high drama.

(That's me...dreading the return of Aunt Flo...knowing there's just no stopping her...)

Aunt Flo ruins my mood,
Makes me eat too much food,
And turns me into a pimply...a pimply...llama? comma? Obama?

Sigh...

I always knew I wasn't cut out for limericks.

Apparently Aunt Flo and her evil sidekick, Captain PMS, also crush any creative brain cells of mine.

Those evil @#%@#'s!! ;)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, My Love...

Six years ago, at this very moment...I sat in a darkened hospital room, marveling at the new babe in my arms.

He, with his wispy blonde hair and blocky head looked very much, like a tiny little Viking. A little warrior.


Six years later, my baby boy is still blonde and blocky headed, with an infectious laugh,


and a heart of gold...soft and tender.

He has a mischievous demeanor,

and you can read his every thought and feeling through his eyes.

He loves Legos, Spiderman, and helping his daddy...


His Mama falls in there, too...somewhere!

I love you,

to the moon and back,


Sweet E.W!!

And I am so blessed to be your mama.

Happy Birthday, My Love!!

Mama M. Meets P-Dub

When I heard that the ever so enjoyable and adorable, Pioneer Woman was going to be just a mere two hours away from me, today...I had a decision to make.

I hmm'd and hah'd, I contemplated and considered, I debated...and decided.

I knew if I didn't go...I'd be kicking myself in the head for the rest of my life (and, um...have you ever tried kicking yourself in the head? It hurts, and I know I would've pulled a hamstring...I don't recommend it.)

So, I harassed my mom into coming along, dragged
my two girls with...and set off to the Mall of America.

We arrived...me, naively thinking, it would be a quaint little event...imagine my surprise, when I saw a line that surely must've been 18 miles long.

At least.

And, I'm probably being conservative.

So, I snapped a picture from afar (an iPhone pic, nonetheless...for stupid ol' me forgot my camera at home!! Bah!)...and we set off to "let the line die down" while we ate some lunch.

After a leisurely hectic lunch at Johnny Rockets, we headed back...certain the line must've shrunk to at least 1 mile long.


We were wrong.

Oh, were we wrong.

Yes, the line was smaller...by about 10 feet.


So, we parked ourselves at the back of the 18 mile minus 10 feet line...and ended up meeting some pretty fab people!! (Hi Jenny and Ryan (whose blog is private!)!!)


In fact, we spent so much time with these people, that I'm certain I could probably tell you their life histories.

And their lineage.

The birthday's of their Grandmothers.


And, probably the names of their first pets.

It's a darn good thing they were so fun!!


And...I had a little eye candy to help pass the time!



Oh, yes, my friends...that is Marlboro Man. The Marlboro Man.

Sigh...he's everybit as hunky in real life as he is on blogs.

Trust me (*fans self*)...

As if that weren't enough..."Mall Cops: Mall of America" was also being filmed!

And, now...I'm also a reality TV star. Ahem.

Or not.

So, anywho...we're waiting in line, my mom takes Baby Girl potty, comes back 27.3 minutes later, and says, astounded, "Have you even moved?"

I take a look back, and say, "Um...yeah. Probably about ten tiles."

We take to chatting with those around us, spending so much time with them, that I now consider them family.

They're coming to Thanksgiving dinner.

And bringing the stuffing...we swapped recipes.


Okay, I'm kidding...but, man, we did share some laughs! Especially when Baby Girl dumped her Orange Julius on herself and ended up scoring a Pioneer Woman T-shirt early! (Thanks guys!!)

We also had this, to watch:




And, I'll vouch...those adorable little boys do, in fact, take up impromptu UFC matches.

It's hilarious!


They were playing with those things...those...those...line maker things? You know, the ribbons that stretch between two posts to make...to make, um...well...people corrals?

Yeah!! Those things!


So, those boys were playing with them, intently connecting and disconnecting them and we were chatting, the boys and I...about castrating calves and, um...you know, ranch stuff...and they were doing such a good job with the line maker things, that I said, "Hey, do you guys wanna be security guards when you grow up?"

"No!!!!", they said.

"Well, whadya wanna be?"

"A rancher!"...like, totally, duh!!


I loved it! I could've packaged 'em up and took 'em home with me. They were so stinkin' cute...and that Marlboro Man?

Not too shabby himself! ;)

Oh, yeah...I already mentioned that.

Sorry...um, who did I go to see again?


Oh...that's right!

Sweet, adorable, P-Dub herself.


And, half my life later...it was finally my turn!!


I plopped myself down next to her, and proceeded to babble
away...


I'm quite certain I told her my life history.

And that of Jenny's.


And, probably Ryan's, too.

She was a great listener, and oh so sweet to my babies!! She adored and complimented them, and left Miss E. pining for a new mother.


A mother that lives on a ranch.

And makes things like "Ribeye with Whiskey Sauce" and "Chocolate Sheet Cake".

And has a dog named Charlie.

And a husband named Marlboro Man.

But, for now...she's stuck with me.

Poor thing.

And...and?!!!

Even after 47 hours, Ree Drummond was still smiling...and her hand wasn't even all deformed from signing, what...like, a billion cookbooks?!!!

Ree...it was great meeting you today!

And totally worth half my life.

All my love,

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