Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lesson to Self... Don't use a Pizza Pan with Holes to Bake Cookies

I must admit, only I can screw this up. My teen son just about peed himself laughing, and I have to say I was a little red in the face...

Tonight we dug into the cookies that we purchased from my daughter's school fundraiser. They are the super easy type of cookies, already pre-made in a tub, and you just lay them on the baking sheet and let the oven do the work. A lazy mom's cookie, perfect for me when I am craving baked goodness and don't want to dig out the hand mixer, or run to the store for eggs because I'm one egg short and I just KNOW that the ONE missing egg will make or break the recipe.

So, at $15 bucks a pop and for the greater good of the school (and AGAINST the greater good of my waistline) I purchased 3 tubs. Yummy chocolate chip, macadamia nut white chocolate chip and peanut butter all awaited me in my fridge. Every time I opened the fridge and saw those tubs, I could have sworn those damn cookies were calling my name.

So my son Demetrio tells me he wants chocolate chip cookies tonight. We fire up the oven (as in pre-heat) and wait in anticipation. He seriously wants to eat the raw cookie dough, and I, in motherly fashion, tell him that he could get food poisoning or something from doing just that, and unless he wants to end up in the local hospital with a nurse that looks like Miss Ballbricker from the Porky's movies giving him a suppository he'd better stick to COOKED food. Having seen the old Porky's movies a few years ago, he decided to wait for the finished product.

As I check the kitchen for a clean pan I happen upon a pizza pan that happens to have holes in it. Perfect, I think, the bottoms of those cookies will brown nicely and should be done in a jiffy. My son looks on, but says nothing. I put the cookies on the pan... and a few moments later am greeted to the pleasant aroma of baking cookies. A quick check in the oven tells me they are cooking nicely, and after about 10-15 minutes I shut off the oven and take the pan out.

Now I am one that LOVES warm cookies with a cold glass of milk. My glass had been poured and I carefully tried to pick up a cookie from the pan. My son also decided it was time for a cookie, and tried to get his own cookie. Both cookies came off the pan... without the middle. The dough in the middle only had crept into those little holes, and was baked solidly into the pan. The cookies were coming up only the edges, with the whole middles baked into the pan-a quick flip of the pan confirmed my worst fears-the dough had gone through to the other side!

So now I am stuck with the edges of my lovely chocolate chip cookies. The chewy middles laden with chocolate chips remain baked into the pan-a grim reminder of my screw up in the kitchen. Let this be a lesson learned: never, ever bake cookies on a pizza pan that has holes in it! (I'd take pics of the finished product, but I am too darn embarrassed!)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Calling All Twilight Fans!

hurry on over to Wicked Jungle and enter to win a New Moon DVD, Soundtrack, and Illustrated Movie Guide to celebrate the release of New Moon on DVD! But you'd better enter before 12am Eastern, because that's when it ends! Good Luck!

Head up on yet another giveaway too: Country Girl, City Life is also giving away the New Moon DVD and paperback book on 3/31!

A Gift for Myself...

Last year when my dad died, a whole lot of shit went on. (to clarify this sentence a bit further, I am editing this post to reflect that certain family members did not agree on estate matters. "Anonymous" left me a message because they just didn't get it I guess.)My mother and my father had gotten back together and for the last 23 years of his life they were a couple again. Although they didn't "live together" she was at his house daily, going home to sleep and care for my elderly grandmother, who ended up passing away last April 8th-two months after my father died. Talk about a double whammy-it was and is extremely difficult knowing that last year half my family died. All I have left is my mother, who has become depressed and her ailments seem much more pronounced this year, I now see her as much older and frailer than she has ever been.

My mother was driving around in an old 20 year jalopy. She and my grandmother kept sinking money into it, but they were fighting a losing battle. My father knew this, and promised my mother she could have his 2000 Volkswagen Golf should anything happen to him. Not being legally married, what should have been put in writing never was. While they SHOULD have gotten married, AND he gave her a ring-to GET married would have caused a cut in social security benefits that neither one of them could afford. I wasn't executor of the estate, my father trusted my half sister and her husband to respect his wishes. So, when the mention of the car came up, my mom was first told she could "buy it for $2000.00." She was shocked, and taken aback. She mentioned that my father wanted her to have it, and that the day he died he had even told his friend his wishes, because he just didn't feel well and perhaps sensed that his time had come and his battle with lung cancer had been lost.

So, while she grieved and she and I went to the crematorium with the undertaker, my siblings had a pow-wow without us. And they decided to sell the car for even more money, without even consulting me. I told my mom I'd let them have my share of his estate so she could get the car, but she refused. To her, it was the principle of the thing. Not one of them went to see him at the funeral parlor, but they were all too happy to change the locks on his home so my mom couldn't get in as well.

Anyways, this post is about a gift for me... I'm getting a new car. Not because I need one, or even want one. But because my mother is getting my 2003 Mazda Protege. Since her now 21 year old Oldsmobile won't even pass inspection-not to mention the latest noise it is now making from the muffler, which has a hole in it someplace. The payments on the 2010 Mazda 3 sedan are low, and I qualified for 60 months zero interest financing, which hubby really loved. Making those payments won't be easy, but knowing my dad and my grandmother (who'd been saving diligently for a new car before she died suddenly)will perhaps provide a little "divine intervention" I feel a bit more comfortable with my decision. I know that my "old" car will be reliable and last my mom quite a few years, and I won't have to worry about her getting stuck on the side of the road somewhere-which actually happened twice last year. It is going to suck having a car payment again, that I can confess. But I know in my heart, giving her my car, which I bought new back in 2003 and know all its history, maintenance etc.. I know I am doing the RIGHT thing. As far as my "siblings" go, I can only say "What Goes Around, Comes Around."

Since I don't have the car yet, I can't take a photo to share with you all... but I've put up a stock photo of what it looks like, except that mine is black with a black interior :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Yard Work...Just Another Spring Chore...

Here in Central Maine, Spring is definitely in the air. Although there was still a bit of a cool breeze today, the sun was warm and bright. Unfortunately, it is also mud season. And we all know what that means... MUD-and lots of it!

My front lawn currently has FOUR Toyotas on it. Hubby's Toyota Project (as in restoring and fixing 90's models Toyota trucks and sending them to Guatemala) is still going strong. When I got home at lunch today, there he was... changing a brake line in a 4-Runner.

I feel I am destined to have a front lawn full of ruts and mud. No Spring flowers on my front lawn...sigh. Guess I will just have to admire the neighbor's crocuses that are peering through the dirt and in a few short weeks will be blooming all over the place. Any blooming done on my front lawn will consist of a few sparse blades of grass and perhaps a dandelion scattered amongst the discarded mufflers, radiators and bumpers. (The local scrap metal hauler loves my husband, and with good reason)

Yesterday I decided to check out the back yard where the swing set is, and find out that my son has chopped away one of my lilac bushes with a machete because there were a few dead branches on it. Not to mention that the new tenants (the apartment buildings are thisclose to each other in my neck of the woods) have been using my back yard as their personal ashtray all winter. There are literally HUNDREDS of scattered cigarette butts and other trash they have thrown out two of their windows as they sit upstairs and smoke and drink. The worse part is that they are all near the swing set and in the garden as well. After seeing that, I can tell you that their landlord got a call pretty quickly. And I noticed that their windows were shut today, so hopefully they have taken to using an ashtray in their own house... or at least tossing the ciggies out the other side of the house, into their OWN driveway for a change. But in the meantime, that leaves hundreds of butts for us to clean up as we get the yard ready for Spring and garden season.

At times, I so wish I lived at least 10 acres away from the nearest neighbor. Plenty of place to garden, run, and let the kids play. And not having to listen to the neighbors partying as I sit on either the front OR back porch.... nor having to smell the wafting herb as they pass the peace pipe around while chugging their 40's. That being said, I COULD have had a nice house, with a big yard. But with it came a BIG price. This was before the mortgage crisis we have today-but for some reason, I wanted a mortgage that was affordable. One that I could live with, that was cheaper than renting, and one income could pay for if need be. Unfortunately, we got an OK house in a rough neighborhood. Not the best, but affordable. And there ARE some positives: a couple of nice neighbors, and the fact that I can walk to the social services agency where I work if I have to.

My layoff is next Friday, and I am anxious to get out into the Spring air and start working on the yard. Visions of chile peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers fill my thoughts as I envision myself going out into the back yard to pick my own veggies :)Unfortunately no pics yet... I still can't find the darn USB cord and the cat isn't telling me where he dragged it to! Happy Spring everyone!

Avon Perfume Winner!

Sorry for the delay, I've been out sick the last couple of days due to a migraine and the LAST thing I wanted to see was a computer screen...

So, let's see who chose...

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2010-03-17 22:39:43 UTC

It looks like hondaray6 AKA Rhonda Mason is the winner! Congrats! Rhonda has had the luck of winning a previous giveaway here on my blog and lucky for her, one of her extra entry comments won. Rhonda, I will be emailing you soon and I thank all of you for your patience in my announcing my winner.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Avon Windscape Perfume Giveaway-Enter Here!

It's been awhile since I've done a giveaway on my blog... mostly because I have been so darn busy with work I haven't had a chance to do reviews or anything like that. But I am grateful for those that stuck with me :) It's been a busy, busy year for us all at work and now that things are winding down I am able to focus a little bit more on my blog.

Since I sell Avon (actually I just buy it for myself, family and friends) I figured that I'd offer up a bottle of one of their newest perfumes. So I'd like to give away one of the new women's scents called Windscape. It's described as a blend of aquatic florals and white linen musk.

I guess now we have to do disclaimers on our blogs for giveaways... no one sent me this, I purchased it out of my own pocket for my blog readers and that is how I do most of my giveaways. (although I will do reviews and giveaways from companies as time allows and mostly when I am on layoff in the March-July time frame)So there is my disclaimer ;)

Open to US only residents. Prize will be shipped USPS ground which may take a couple of extra days as perfume contains alcohol and cannot be shipped on USPS planes. Begins March 1st 12:00 am EST and ends March 15th at 11:59 pm EST.

If you wanna win it, your first mandatory entry is just leave me a comment. Any comment will do, but be sure to leave a way to contact you in your comment or make sure I can see it in your blog profile.

For extra entries: (leave separate comments for each)

Current followers=2 entries
New follower=1 entry
Follow me on Twitter=1 entry

I'm not going to make you jump through hoops to win it, keep it simple and easy. Winner will be chosen through Good luck!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Check out this giveaway-

I am in love with Le Creuset cookware... and right now until March 19th, you can enter to win these gorgeous Carribean blue colored square baking dishes over at the blog Emily Makes Three. She has lots of ways to get entries, and you can even earn bonus entries for doing everything she has listed. Good luck!

Update, I got my passport!

My passport came today! Woo-hoo! Looks like I am all set to travel to Guatemala in June. Although I hate the photo, with a capital H I guess I can deal with it. Just wanted you to all know, since I'd posted on my passport woes earlier this month.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

When Eating Makes You Sick...

Ok people... I am starting to get a little frustrated with all these food recalls going around lately. I mean, it is just not safe to eat anything anymore I guess.

My daughter has been feeling really funky lately, and not in a good way. She was sick 3 days last week with some sort of virus (or so they say) then she was fine for a few days, spent Sunday puking her guts out, was fine Monday, spent Tuesday home on the toilet and now says her belly just feels so-so.

I happened to be watching the news and caught wind of the latest recall, this time a huge one with a lot of products that we actually eat here at home. (we eat out a lot too, and I am beginning to suspect that some of our restaurants we frequent also used this Salmonella loaded crap) It doesn't take a rocket scientist to put 2 + 2 together and figure out that when your whole family is sick all week and still not feeling 100% perfect, then there is something going on that we need to investigate further.

Lately, Pepto-Bismol has been a staple in our home. If I never have to drink the pink stuff again that would be fine by me. Gas has also become an issue for all of us. I can also say that I now know the definition of "natural gas". And it isn't pretty. In this past week I've heard the sound of rumbling bellies and loud, forceful farting-definitely strong enough to rival any major eruption but the only Ring of Fire we've got going on here is white and porcelain...

It really amazes me that all these foods are contaminated, or at least suspected to be. And how a company that knew their product WAS contaminated continued to ship it out to unsuspecting buyers and consumers. I seriously hope somebody throws the book at them for their complete and utter negligence. And if that doesn't work, maybe someone with Salmonella from their products can throw the contents of THEIR toilet at those responsible.

I've gone through my freezer and thrown out items that looked suspicious, or were from companies that announced they were recalling their items. Next, I going to check out the mixes, snacks and other items I have in the cupboards. And I am going to keep a food diary, and write down what each person has been eating daily. That way, if they end up sick a few days later I have an idea of what foods have been eaten. It's more work, but someone has to do it :)

Make sure that you all check out the list too, and keep your eyes open for newer items being recalled too. In the meantime, stay safe!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Check out the $50 shopping spree giveaway on Mary’s Weight Loss Blog! I can win an $50 Shopping Spree Giveaway from and so can you! Click here for contest details!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Scoop Free Litter Box Review

I have four cats. Brujita is the oldest, a very temperamental tortie who doesn't get along with any of the boys at all. Being a senior cat, she is starting to develop some health issues, and stays under the dining room table most of the time as she prefers to be unsociable. (plus she's a bit upset that my dad's cat came and took over her spot on the bed...she was the dominant one for many years and that changed within the last year.)

Shadow is disabled...he was mistreated when he was a tiny kitten and ended up having tremors, and he walks kind of funny (I've compared him to a few drunks I've seen walking down the street and its a close match) He's a happy go lucky fellow that likes to hog the food and doesn't always make it to the litterbox. (close, but no cigar!)

Tippy is the outdoor kitty, he's always had a wild streak in him-and he tends to go outside and guard the yard while staking out his territory. He is pretty much a loner, and is good at tearing garbage bags apart :)

Finally there is Stubby, the cat I got from my dad. Since he grew up with a dog, he THINKS he's a dog. Things disappear with him around, and I can usually find them hidden around the house. Currently my USB cord is on that missing list... playing fetch with him is one of his favorite games, and if I ask him to speak, he does. Now I just need to get him to give me his paw...

Three cats use the indoor litter box. Which I have to admit, at times smells not too sweet. I was thrilled when I found out I'd won a Scoop Free Litter box awhile back. Last night, hubby and I set it up for the first time. The cats, being curious, just had to check it out. The shipping box was huge, and they LOVED playing in it. The litter box was pretty neat as well. The model I got came with a privacy cover too, which is similar to the covered regular box they already had. There is a counter that actually tells you how many times your cat is using the litter box, perfect if you have a cat with health issues and you want to monitor frequency.

I set the litter box down in their corner and Stubby cautiously peered in. Because he thinks that he's a dog, I told him to "Go Pee Pee" and sure enough, within seconds he'd christened the new box. I was pretty proud of myself, and actually got up through the night to check on how many times the box had seen usage. When I left at 7 am it was registering 4 times, but I hadn't seen any solids yet, so was a bit curious as to how that would work. The rakes are set on a timer, and I had it set to 20 minutes so I decided about 5 minutes would work great and adjusted the time before I left.

When I came home at lunch, I was greeted to a putrid smell. Apparently one of the cats was a bit freaked out about the moving rakes, and decided to leave me a gift on my hallway floor to voice their displeasure with me. Hubby and I were guessing it was Stubby, since hubby saw him earlier peering through the doorway as the rake was moving in the litter box. It appears a bit more training is necessary, and I didn't follow the instructions completely, since I had removed their old litter box and should have left it there until they could get used to their new fancy box slowly.

My opinion: This really is a great litter box. I hate the chore of cleaning the litter box, and this makes it super easy to deal with something I dislike. Plus, the bathroom is pretty much litter box odor free. If you have a cat with health problems, the monitor can be of benefit. For me, it was nice to know how many times the cats had been in it so I could see if they were getting used to it. The rake action is pretty quiet, and the crystals are dust-free and do an excellent job of absorbing the urine. One thing I did notice was that the rake can get dirty if the solids are not completely solid-but as it makes its way back to its position the rake actually flips over, and the not-so-solids come off pretty well.

The downside is that these refills don't come cheap. I've seen them priced at $14.99 per tray and up. A 3 pack can cost $40+, so you ARE paying a price for convenience. With one cat, they say it will last a month or so. I have three cats, and the refill life is 7-10 days, a bit pricey for me. It appears others also love this litter box, but don't like the pricing of the refills. After searching on Amazon, I found a reusable plastic bottom called the Forever Tray and crystals litter at an affordable price. You can also get refills from the manufacturer, and set yourself up on an automatic plan which gives you a discount on your first order and free shipping on following orders.

I am going to expect a few accidents as the cats are still getting used to things. It's quite a change from the usual litter box and the cats are still dealing with something new. I also noticed that you can win one of these litter boxes here until March 13th, so if you'd love to try one out for your feline friend head on over and enter to win!

Disclaimer: The opinions are my own. This is a review of a prize that I won in a giveaway, and to show my appreciation I am providing you with my honest opinion of the product.

All About Reviews

Today's post has to do with reviews. First, let me explain that I love doing reviews. I love trying out new items, and giving my opinion on them. I also love to read reviews on other blogs, because actually that helps me determine whether I want to try out the product myself or not. While I don't form an opinion based solely on reviews, I do use reviews as a tool to see if the product might be something I would want to have here at my house.

That all being said, I realize that by working a FT job outside the home I don't have the time to dedicate to doing reviews as much as I should. Besides, I have even a hard time posting about family life here due to the hectic work schedule we have during the winter months. But, as work winds down, I find myself looking for things to do, and that is where I begin to post more and review a few goodies. That time is coming up VERY soon. I have been lucky enough to win some great giveaways, and I am hoping to post reviews of things I have gotten as a thank you to the sponsor-and I also want to write more about family life to keep this blog a mixture of this 'n that with giveaways thrown in too. (even if I pay for the items, lol) What I don't want to do is bite off more than I can chew, and promise too many reviews and not get them all done.

So soon I will begin reviewing some things that I've won, and perhaps seeking out reviews as time allows too. And while I cannot review a new car (unless a car dealer wants to give me one lol) I can offer an opinion on other things I have around the house :) So stay tuned! And don't forget to enter my Avon perfume giveaway before it ends on the 15th!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ahhh...the Porcelain God

I took the day off today to get things done. I figured I needed to be working on my passport issues, and would be sitting in the Social Security office requesting a new SS card because I seem to have misplaced the one I had. Not very smart, considering the passport agency has requested proof of my identity.

So I wake up this morning after sleeping in a glorious half hour extra, and awaken to the sound of puking in the bathroom. Whomever it was sounded like they were in utmost agony. Then the pitter patter of more feet and another body waiting to get into the bathroom. This time to use the toilet.

As I write this, I am the only one still standing. But I know my time is coming. I've been to the pharmacy, stocked up on enough Pepto-Bismol to fill a punch bowl and gotten plenty of paper towels and toilet paper. (thank goodness for CVS having a sale!) Bought trash bags and lined the puke bowls up for distribution. (actually mini wastebaskets) I've heard my 8 yr. old telling me she feels like she is going to die for the 100th time and have been force feeding her Popsicles so she won't dehydrate.

I've gotten Depends and GoodNights (heck, we can't have any leakage-the LAST thing I want is the bed smelling like a raw sewer) ginger ale and Saltine crackers. Gatorade and water. And I'm ready. I've made sure I will have plenty to get rid of, as I have been eating Devil Dogs and Wavy Lays complete with French Onion Dip non stop since I got back from the grocery store. This virus is not going to catch me on an empty stomach! (and if I don't get the virus, I will probably succumb to feeling ill anyways after the combination of goodies I have been munching on all morning.)

So I am home...and well, for the moment. It is times like this that I have cursed myself for not buying a home with two bathrooms. I'm armed with Lysol wipes and other anti-bacterials as I wait for nature to take its course. Even the litterbox has been fuller than normal these past couple of days, so it looks like we're not the only ones affected. I know it can't be food poisoning, my cooking is bad-but it won't KILL anyone. Plus, we have all eaten different things these past few days, so I know it is not one thing I can pinpoint as the culprit.

In the meantime, we are all home-in varying stages of the virus and praying... but most of our prayers have been in the direction of the porcelain God. Happy Monday!