Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Best Ever Chocolate Ice Cream.

Apparently I'm eating a lot more this week than I am living, laughing or shopping. I'll try to balance it all out over the next few weeks, but I cannot stop myself from sharing the wonderful goodness I discovered on Sunday. 

It all started with our summer bucket list -- things we wanted to ensure we did before our summer days were over. Our bucket list varies from painting pottery {check - see ice cream bowls below}. Going to the beach {check, check and check}. Riding on the car ferry {check - on way home from painting ice cream bowls}. Go to Chuck E. Cheese {hmm, maybe I should have provided more guidance with the list - I avoid Chuck E. Cheese like the plague}. Also on the list: make homemade ice cream. 

The hubs and I received an ice cream maker as a wedding gift. And I'm certain we used it at least once in the last ten years. Well, now twice.  

After my week without my duo, I was energized and ready to start making more memories. So I started by making the custard part of the recipe before they returned. It was properly chilled and ready to go in the machine when they walked in the door. Lots and lots of ice and rock salt and we were ready to go. 

They were enthralled by the churning machine and gladly added salt and ice as needed. About 25 minutes later we had what can only be called {in my humble opinion} "ice cream perfection." 

My little guy said it best: "This is way better than Marble Slab." Yes indeed. Of course, he still wanted to add M&Ms. But it's summer and I hadn't seem them for a week, so what the heck.

Little Miss Thang said it tasted "like ice cream fudge". Our homemade fudge being her favorite treat so this is clearly a compliment of the highest order.

Make homemade ice cream {check}. Of course, we never said we'd complete each item on the list only once. I'm pretty sure homemade ice cream will make a few repeat apparences this summer. 

Best Ever Chocolate Ice Cream
{my title, but recipe via}

3/4 cup sugar {I used slightly less}
1 cup milk {I only had skim and it worked fine}
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine sugar, milk, salt, and cocoa powder in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer. Place the egg yolks into a small bowl. Gradually stir in about 1/2 cup of the hot liquid {temper the eggs so they don't scramble}. and return to the saucepan. Heat until thickened, but do not boil {just a few minutes - only slightly thickened, not like a pudding}. Remove from the heat, and stir in the chopped chocolate until chocolate is melted. Pour into a chilled bowl, and refrigerate for about two hours until cold {or overnight}, stirring occasionally.

When chocolate mixture has completely cooled, stir in the cream, and vanilla. Pour into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Evil goodness.

Let me say first off, this was shared with me. By a "good" friend. Yes, I put the good in quotes because honestly, I question her motivation. I think it is fair to say that I'm a tad obsessed with chocolate. She knows this. And providing me with the most dangerous of all cake recipes puts our friendship in question. 

Either (1) she truly adores me and wants to ensure happiness is never more than five minutes away or (2) she knows I will likely eat this two - three times a week and wants to ensure I look horrid in a swimsuit prior to our annual lake reunion.  I'd like to give her the benefit of the doubt, but she is spending a month in London this summer and I fear my jealousy is coloring my judgment. Just a bit. 

My motivation in sharing it with you is clear: It is my mission to share happiness and joy with the world. That and jiggly thighs. 


4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug (microwave safe)

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well.  Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips {if using - of course we are using} and vanilla extract, and mix again. Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. {2.5 minutes was enough for me - watch it closely or it will be a rubbery mess} The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!

Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Bandana DIY.

I've said it before and I'll inevitably say it again: I'm not crafty. I can copy someone else's craft {if it's super simple and doesn't require sewing}, but an idea rarely initiates with me. 

In one of my best friend's, Ashley's, upstairs game room she has a display of antique game boards on the wall. It is super darling and unique and I've always loved it. This reminds me a bit of that display, or of the uniqueness and playfulness of it. 

It could be darling in a boys' room -- imagine a variety of red bandanas -- or in a game room or ranch house or mudroom. 

via Everything Fabulous
Do you DIY?  If so, where do you find your inspiration?

Friday, June 24, 2011

The mother of all surprises.

This is my reward for spending my day, covered in dust, going through the boxes of my mom's photos and memorabilia that I promised to tackle in 2010. This "Gold Coast Cruises" postcard is addressed to my father. My mother, Kay {note the snazzy custom signature*}, is pictured. And this is indeed her handwriting. 

Because I'm certain you cannot read the writing: 
I am tired, hot and haven't met a single millionaire yet. We leave on the ship today. Have taken tours during the day and go to shows at night. Nude one was best. Have taken lots of pictures but not of nudes. Sybil and I both have colds. 
Ok, a few comments:
1. Does she mean a millionaire who is single {i.e., not married} or just one millionaire. I'm just curious if she cared whether or not he was indeed not married and what exactly she indeed to do with him if she found one.  
2. The nude show was "best." What?!?  The thought of those words being uttered, or rather, written by my mother leave me positively speechless! Call me a prude, but I've never been to a nude show. And the thought that I am more of a prude than my mother is shocking. Positively shocking. She didn't even drink for peet's sake. Next I'm going to find a AA book.
3. The postmark date -- 13 JUL 1969 -- is only two shorts months before my parent's wedding {September 1969}. Were they already dating, but yet she's off looking for millionaires. Was this her last shot -- I'll marry you if I don't find a millionaire on this cruise?! 
4. In July 1969 she had two young children {from a previous marriage} at home. I would not make my appearance for another 17 months. Guess she still felt the need to go off and sew her wild oats before she settled down again. You go girl!
5. The only bit that actually sounds like my mother is the last little bit -- "Sybil and I both have colds." I can completely hear her saying that. Especially ending on it. Though even that makes me wonder: Is Sybil her alternate personality that goes out at night looking for millionaires and seeing nude shows or a real friend?!?
I suppose we'll never know.  

* at some point in the 70s she had a gold necklace made with this little custom signature she'd designed as a charm. So very chic and Carrie Bradshaw before there was a chic Carrie Bradshaw. She wore it most of her life and I believe we buried it with her. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grandma's Chocolate Pie.

Possibly a little-know fact among my acquaintances and URL friends: I spent the first ten years of life living in a small tiny town in rural Iowa. My grandparents lived an hour away and we spent most every Sunday eating lunch around my Grandmother’s formal dining table.

We were a humble and casual family, but Sunday lunch {after church, of course} warranted china. Even when fried chicken and mashed potatoes were served. And yes, Grandma fried her own chicken in her little Iowa house kitchen.

It was a quaint little house with two apple trees and a garden in the back yard. It had a basement with a very, very cool laundry shoot {which we clearly used for things other than laundry}. Only two bedrooms and an office. One small hallway bath.

Everything was pristine and spotless in my Grandma's house. Glass trinkets were sprinkled about on low-lying tables. The upholstered sofa was even austere and off-white. Spotless. Absolutely everything was spotless and kids were not permitted to run amuck. But strangely, or surprisingly,  many of my fondest early childhood memories take place in the backyard and in the basement {those were, of course, the only two places we were allowed to truly run and play}. 

We not only spent every Sunday afternoon in their home, but a full week every summer. And the memories of those summer weeks fill my head with a giddiness and innocence I cannot explain. Maybe it was being together as siblings and being forced to play together {no friends nearby}. 

Or maybe it was the simple pleasures we enjoyed together during those times. My brother, sister and I would climb the apple tree and eat the apples until we were sick. It sounds so amazingly cliché, but it happened. More than once.

My grandpa would take my brother fishing. I must have been deemed to young or too girlie to join in the fishing expeditions, but I will never forget the smell of the fish handing from the line when they returned – fresh and muddy all at the same time.

We played pool in the basement {so cool}. Rode the stationary bike for hours {under a sun/heat lamp}. Played dress-up with clothes and scarves from the 1940s and 50s. Made ginormous forts using every card table and blanket in the house. And generally enjoyed all the old-fashioned charms of growing up in the Midwest in the early 70s.

It was a charming time. Full of innocence, clean living and Grandma’s cooking {which is where I am really going here - in case you were worried, or simply becoming impatient}. 

Grandma's cooking. Ahhh! So many of her recipes swirl around in my head: homemade macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, hot dog sauce {sounds ordinary, but I promise - it's special}, the aforementioned fried chicken, and chocolate pie.

I wish I could recreate each and every one of these delightful dishes. She taught each of them to me over the years. Of course, all the recipes were permanently etched in her memory. And sadly, mine has faded. Recently, however, I ran across a page in one of her cookbooks that looks like this:

Tattered and torn. Taped and dirty. It practically fell out of the three-ring binder 1947 version of the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book and into my hands!

At first I resisted. I worried: what if it's not what I remember? What if I don't make it as well? And then there is the whole issue of a homemade crust. Yikes!

I decided to cut myself a little slack and try the pudding part of the pie first. Focus on the creamy goodness and let Betty Crocker {who is clearly much more experienced than I} furnish the crust. I did, however, buy the pie crusts that you place in your own pie plate. Because I have Grandma's glass pie plate and I figure she'd roll over in her grave if I served it in an aluminum tin. Pie crust properly baked and cooling in Grandma's pie plate, I set off to tackle the creamy pudding filling.

I'd seen her do it a hundred times. Maybe more. I do not even remember her referring to this tattered page when we were making it together circa 1998. But I did. I followed every direction explicitly; leaving nothing to chance.

And it was worth it!

The first bite was pure bliss -- creamy, homemade chocolate goodness. It was everything I wanted it to be and reminded me how wonderfully simple times were during my early years.

This simple chocolate pie reminded me of so many things -- the simplicity that was my Grandma's life. The wholesome goodness of my youth. The pace at which time passes -- to quickly these days in my humble opinion.

Does anyone my age take the time to bake homemade pies anymore {Thanksgiving does not count}?

Well I do. Now, at least.

And next time I'm making my own crust too.

Join me in making the world a better, more wholesome place, one pie at a time {homemade crust optional}:

Grandma's Chocolate Pie
(via Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)

1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk, scalded
2 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 - inch baked pastry shell
3 stiff-beaten egg whites
6 tablespoons sugar

Melt chocolate in scalded milk (slowly over low heat). Mix cornstarch, sugar and salt; gradually add chocolate milk mixture. Cook in double boiler until thick, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly add small about of hot mixture to egg yolks {temper the eggs so they don't scramble}; stir into remaining hot mixture. Cook 5 minutes. Cool; add butter and vanilla. Pour into cooled baked shell and spread with meringue made of egg whites and 6 tablespoons sugar. Bake in moderate oven (350) 12 to 15 minutes.


*Sadly, I did not get a picture of my pie. Quite tragically, the last piece {which I intended to photograph} fell face-down on the floor. I may have shed a tear or so. And it wasn't because I didn't get the photo.

This photo, which looks remarkably like my pie is from The Homesick Texan. Who also has a grandma who makes good pie! Despite Blogger's resistance yesterday, I really thought you needed a visual. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Swim and retrieve.

I had big plans for my day. 

Big blogging plans. 

But my internet was out this morning. 

When it finally returned I realized Blogger would not allow me to add photos to posts. 

I've written the posts {two and counting}.

But I refuse to post said posts without proper imagery. 

My duo is away at "grandparent camp" {something which I highly recommend} so no one requires my attention {though next year I'm considering sending the dogs too}. 

I refuse to clean my house as if I have nothing better to do. 

But what do I do when I have nothing better to do?

Shopping seems so trite and obvious.

Certainly I "do" more than shop {hubs, stop snickering}. 

So I walked out the front door with our lab, sweet Bailey Belle, and headed for a run. 

In the rain. 

The temp was perfect and it was just drizzling. 

At first. 

But it felt good. Very good in fact. 

We ran down to the bay and I spent 20 minutes throwing a piece of driftwood into the bay for Bailey Belle to retrieve. She lit up she was so positively ecstatic. She loves both swimming and retrieving and the two together . . . well, she was born and bred to swim and retrieve. 

And she does so beautifully. 


On our walk back {yes, I only run one direction - wimp}, I thought about how effortlessly our 9-year-old lab swims and retrieves. I reminded myself she was indeed born and bred to do just that. 

Which brings me back to what I "do". 

I raise my kids. 

I serve my community. 

I care for our family. 

I care for my friends. 

Sometimes I am better at each of these at different moments in time. But I realized today, walking along the water, rain dripping off my chin, that I am doing what I too was born and bred to do {though, no, I do not like the way that sounds}. 

I was raised to be compassionate and empathetic {required traits for caring for tender children's psyches}. I was always told I was smart {helps with the inevitable homework and fundraising for schools and charities} and that I could do whatever I wanted to do. 

And I am. 

Having time for "me" in the midst of it all only clarifies how much I do honestly enjoy my own constant swim and retrieve. Yes, the days can be monotonous. Yes, I often complain about yet another load of laundry or trip to the grocery. But I realize too, that it is a blessing. 

A blessing to have the time to talk with my little miss thang after a bad day at school.  

A blessing to bandage up a scraped knee and wipe away the inevitable tears. 

A blessing to share a leisurely lunch with a friend who is having a bad week. 

A blessing to be able to share long {sometimes drunken} evenings over good food and wine with friends.

A blessing to raise money for my duo's school. 

A blessing to be doing exactly what I am doing. 

Now, if only I can make my swim and retrieve look as beautiful and effortless as my sweet Bailey Belle. 


And ha - take that Blogger - a post with no imagery required!

Monday, June 20, 2011


Doesn't this look like the perfect light lunch or afternoon snack? 
That's an entirely rhetorical question. Of course it does!

I just happened upon it looking for inspiration for something to do with a few yummy, ripe pears I have handy. I was thinking a salad of sorts. 

This, however, took my breath away. 

Yes,  food does often take my breath away. 

Simple, wholesome, fresh food.

I'm off to whip up a little lunch crostini!

You can follow these simple directions or just let your inner foodie move you!

Ingredients {4 servings}
* 1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese
* Pear slices
* Walnut pieces
* Coarse salt and ground pepper
* Honey
* Country French bread {toasted}

* Divide ricotta cheese among crostini.
* Top each piece with several ripe pear slices and some walnut pieces.
* Season with salt and pepper and drizzle each with honey. Serve immediately.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Music to my ears.

This arrived yesterday and I'd being lying if I told you I didn't shed a tear {or two}. 

I've been looking at the pictures online and he's looked happy. 

It's looked like he is having fun.

But to receive this note 

{I'm not calling it a letter given the obvious brevity} . . .

pure joy!

Nothing like the unabashed happiness of a child to bring a smile to your face. 

What's or who's making you smile today?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

On my {virtual} bookshelf.

Have any of you read the novel, One Day by David Nicholls? I downloaded it last night and cannot read it fast enough! The movie is set to debut this summer. Anne Hathaway plays Emma and Jim Sturgess plays Dexter. They’re best friends-turned-lovers whose relationship rollercoaster spans a period of twenty years. I’m a little dubious of Anne’s British accent, but other that that, this movie looks darling and the book has already piqued my interest.

Of course, I never actually go to the movies {without kids, that is}, so I'll likely wait until I can stream it on Netflix! Besides, the book will undoubtedly be better than the movie so I may need a little distance between reading and viewing.

What about you?  What's on your bookshelf or your summer movie list?  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Baby Bump.


There is no news about a new baby bump on me. 

But I've seen so many baby bumps on blogs lately. 

And everyone looks so cute. 

Rockin' their baby bumps. 

And so, I'm going outside my comfort zone. 

Far, far outside my comfort zone. 

And sharing my 2003 baby bump. 

Those of you with sensitive stomachs may want to 
click away now and read instead about a lovely book I recently read

For the rest of you  . . . 

I remember being pregnant and feeling like a ginormous monster. 

Absolutely GINORMOUS. 

I don't remember rockin' anything. 

I wore maternity clothes at 16 weeks. 

A maternity swimsuit in Jamaica at 21 weeks!

Of course, I was pregnant with twins.

And ate like there was no tomorrow.

So I decided to look back at the few digital photos I have of my baby bump.

30 minutes before delivery!

And I realize now that size is all a matter of perspective. 

I may have to actually lose weight to get back into this shape. 

Darn it.

Who's idea was it to look back at our baby bumps?!

Thanks, Shell for hosting! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A bloggy celebration.

via Pinterst
Today is my first blogiversary. Yes, June 14th 2010 was the fateful day Eat. Live. Laugh. and sometimes shop! was both conceived and born. My archives may look deceiving on this note. Truth be told: I back-dated quite a few posts that day so  my little blog would instantly look more established. Who was I fooling - I had two readers for a good three months?!

And I was one of the two. 

It has been a wonderful year in the bloggy world. I've learned / am learning a lot. And have made / am making quite a few amazing connections! Thank you all for that!

And thank you to each and every one of you who reads this nonsense I feel like writing. And to those of you who visit with any regularity. And a special "I love you" shout-out to those of you who comment!! God bless you for your comments. I swear I'm not generally a needy person, but for whatever reason a long list of comments makes my day {please no comments, though, about my apparent need to get a life}!

If you are relatively new to this little corner of the blogosphere, here's a few of my favorite posts you may have missed:



Monday, June 13, 2011

Social media madness.

I barely have time to blog anymore. It isn't because it's summer and my children demand my attention. Oh no, my little guy is off at camp and my darling princess is happy to sleep until 10 am each morning. 

No, the demand on my time is not currently originating with my duo, but with the social media. It is pulling and tugging at me and I feel as if I am giving in and sinking deeper into the abyss.  

This is how it started. 

I decided one day to blog. Yea me! It felt a little narcissistic to start putting my thoughts out there for all to see, but I enjoy it so I continue {narcissism notwithstanding}. 

Next, it was time to join some blogging communities. I needed to find and connect with other bloggers. So I joined BlogFrog. I created a community there and joined hundreds of other. A million of my blogging questions were answered by the friendly bloggers who participate in those forums. The time I spent there in my early blogging months were priceless. That too is were I found the SITS Girls -- an invaluable resource and community.  

I blogged along for months with no further progress. I was comfortable in my little bloggy corner of the world. I didn't long for thousands of followers for heaven's sake. I just wanted to write. And receive a little feedback from time to time. 

It was about this time that darling Liz from a Belle, a Bean & a Chicago Dog insisted {it was not a subtle suggestion} that I get on Twitter. I resisted. I procrastinated. And then, I took the leap and started tweeting. Twitter is indeed an entire universe all to itself. It can be a great resource when you need a quick answer to a question. It can provide an amazing group of loyal and devoted friends or readers. It is quite clearly the epicenter of all social media. 

While on Twitter I've learned a great deal more about bloggy business and all I an NOT doing to promote my blog. I am not guest posting. Nor have I asked anyone to guest post {can you say "control issues?"}. I do not join most linky-posts {I am simply not good at preparing a post in advance - I'm a fly by the seat of my pants type blogger}. I have never written {and have no plans to write} an ebook. I no longer actively participate in blogging communities {lazy blogger}. Quite simply, I find the task of writing my own blog posts, reading and commenting on others  enough to fill the free time I have in my days.

But more is required. It is no longer sufficient to just comment on a few {or a few hundred} blog posts each day. Additional obligations are mounting. The world of social media is expanding. And the time has come: sink or swim.  

And swimming inevitably means I partake in a litany of social media outlets: 
I need to start retweeting posts {I think I've done that - once}. 
I really need to Stumble and be Stumbled. 
Clearly, I must "Share" it {or is it "Like" it} on Facebook.
 I need to give it a K+ on Klout.  
Somehow Google +1 it.   
Share it on Linkedin
Submit it or somehow make it Delicious?!  
Recommend it to Mashable
And possibly Digg it?!
In addition, I need to engage bloggers in my BlogFrog Community. Of course, in order to do so I need to meaningfully participate in others. I should submit posts for syndication on BlogHer. I must comment daily at the SITS Girls in order to obtain the ultimate prize: Featured Blogger!!  I should probably create a QR code and embed cool features on my blog. And don't even get me started on my need to Vlog!


It's getting out of hand.

And the list seems to grow every day. 

Can't I just blog and occasionally tweet?!?

I now long for the good old days when blogging and tweeting were enough. Were there such good old days or was my ignorance just bliss? 

What social media outlets do you use most consistently? And where do you draw the line?  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dagger in my heart.

In a few short days my little guy leaves for sleep-away camp.

For the first time. 

Away from me. 

I will not be able to make his meals. 

Or tuck him in his bed. 

I will not be able to remind him to brush his teeth. 

Or change his underwear. 

I will not be the first to hear about every adventure. 

Or each disappointment. 

I will not tend his inevitable bumps and bruises. 

Or hear his infectious full-belly laugh. 

Of course I knew all this months ago. But as weeks, and now days close in on me the realization becomes increasingly vivid and a bit surreal.  

Tonight when tucking him into bed I told him I would miss him terribly when he was away but knew that he was going to have an incredible time and return to me bigger, braver and even more independent. 

His response: "I have the best mom in the world. I will miss you more than anyone, but I will still have some fun."

Insert dagger in heart. 

He has been a touch nervous about going away but has clearly turned the corner. 

And is not looking back.  

I'm not certain if this is for his benefit or mine, but I'm starting to think he is putting on a brave face for me.  

And when he does inevitably return bigger, braver and even more independent, I fear I'll need to come up with something to call him other than "my little guy."

Have you dealt with sending a child away yet? Was it harder on you than him or her? 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Plate.

The government is dishing up healthy eating advice, not with a new food pyramid, but instead, with an image of a plate. The new icon, called My Plate, is divided into four sections — fruits, vegetables, grains and protein. It replaces the pyramid image, which was first introduced in 1992 and painfully revised in 2005. This simple image makes it obvious what we should be eating more of -- fruits and  veggies -- and what we should eat in moderation -- grains and protein.

Some practical pointers are also being introduced as part of a healthy eating initiative:
● Enjoy your food, but eat less.
● Avoid oversized portions.
● Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
● Make at least half your grains whole grains.
● Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
● Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals ― and choose the foods with lower numbers.
● Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
We are making a conscious effort to eat more fruits and vegetables in our house. We drink only skim milk and discourage any sugary drinks except on rare occasions. I've had a very hard time convincing my kids that whole wheat pasta is a suitable substitute, though. But we have always enjoyed whole wheat bread with no complaints. And I rarely serve my family meals that are not mostly homemade {hmm, except pizza night, hot dog lunches and nights out}. I also don't stock chips or other salty treats regularly {unless the hubs hits the grocery}. I do indeed subscribe to the "shop the outside of the grocery store, not the aisles" philosophy. 

But I admit, tonight I gave my kids cereal for dinner. And I am certain there were no whole grains involved. And they had hot dogs for lunch. 

The challenge for me is living it every single day. 

But I feel guilty if I am not providing healthy meals for our family. I've {unwittingly} taken that task on as my job. I stay at home. I must cook. And I admit I generally do have time to cook healthy meals. 

And I do. 

Most of the time. 

I recently read an article on living a healthy lifestyle. It was referring more to exercising than eating, but the premise is the same {at least in my ever-justifying mind}: don't be too hard on yourself and always look at the big picture, not any one moment in time. 

So yes, today my family did not eat so well. But over any given month, we eat more than our fair share of raw spinach and red peppers and grapes and strawberries and apples and snap peas. And I'm fairly certain there was no fast food consumed in that same month. 

I'm not sure this philosophy is suggested by the USDA, but not obsessing over every single meal is going to have to be my philosophy!

What do you do to ensure your family eats well, at least regularly? 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Amy's Top Five: Beauty Products.

No, you did not ask. And I realize you likely do not give two squirts about my top five anything. But that's the thing about blogs: I get to write about it anyway and you can take it or leave it. Win-win!

So here it is, my top five beauty products -- those items I could not or, at least, hope to never have to live without:

1.  Savon de Marseille - I adore these big rustic blocks of pure olive oil soaps!  They have been crafted by hand in Marseille since the 13th century {talk about tried and true}. These long-lasting olive oil soaps leave your skin smooth, soft and moisturized. I buy in bulk and have a wire cutter to cut the long blocks in the bath-sized bars. Love!

2.  Cover Girl's LashBlast Volume Blasting Mascara - I've tried Chanel, Estee Lauder, Maybelline and everything in between. I've tried brushes that vibrate and those intended to curl. I've never before been faithful because each one failed to impress. Finally, at long last I found my true mascara love. This stuff is the cat's meow. Go ahead, spend $7 and thank me later.   
3.  NARS The Multiple Orgasm - Yes, we are still talking beauty products, not sex. Promise. This multi-purpose make-up stick is amazing! It beautifully highlights cheeks, eyes and lips! It works everywhere and provides an gorgeous peachy-pink shimmer. 

For those of you who know me in real life and are scratching your head and wondering why then do I not always look gorgeous and peachy-pink, well, friends, for that I have no excuse.   

4.  ANTI-AGE Triple Defense Treatment SPF 30  and ANTI-AGE Overnight Restorative Cream, both by Rodan +Fields - I've decided to lump these together as one, because they intended to work together and, in my estimation, do so quite well! There is a lot of scientific mumbo-jumbo behind these miracle creams: peptides, antioxidants, stabilized avobenzone, hyaluronic acid and the like.

That may impress some.

Me, well, I'm more impressed by results: firmer skin and diminished lines.

5. Kiehl's Creme de Corps - I know there are those of you out there who think I'm crazy for spending more than $10 for a bottle of lotion. I get that. But remember: I'm saving a ton on mascara. And besides, my skin is my body's largest organ. Who skimps on taking care of their largest organ?! 

I swear by this stuff and do honestly believe it is why my stomach skin rebounded so well from my twin pregnancy {we won't talk about all that's going on under said well-moisturized skin}.

And yes, it is extravagant. But I love it. I admit: there have been times when money has been tight {gasp} and I have lived without it {double gasp}. I hope such times are now far, far behind me. 

If not, I'll survive.  I'll be a dusty, wrinkly mess, but I'll survive!

So, what makes your top 5 list?

Monday, June 6, 2011


Yet another confession: I'm hooked. Smitten, in fact. 

This time it is not a handbag or jaunty dog jacket that caught my eye, but a TV show:  The Voice

I stumbled upon it over the weekend and was instantly entranced. 

I laughed. 

I cried. 

I had to cover Little Miss Thang's ears on numerous occasions. 

It was family fun at it's finest. 

Watching these young, impressionable singers praised by some of their singing idols - oh, it reminds me that dreams do indeed come true. And watching the nervous parents / spouses / siblings in the wings, well, they had me at "his mother died a year ago." 

Pit in stomach. 

Lump in throat. 

That boy must win. It all. 

Of course, as with most pop culture, I'm a bit late to the party. This doesn't stop me in the least. In order to bring the entire family up to speed we spent a few hours all last night watching each and every Blind Audition and Battle Round. 

Yes, imagine our entire family {dogs included, of course} smooshed on the couch and staring at the 13" laptop screen. I'm certain a techy family would stream the internet on their TV, but we enjoy the old fashion charms of watching TV on the laptop. So very Little House on the Prairie of us. 

Suffice to say, we are now up to speed and ready for the live performances on Tuesday night.  

I cannot wait. 

And while I am clearly impressed with all of the coaches {and who isn't impressed by Cee Lo, Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton} and the teams they have chosen, I've officially drawn the line in the sand:  Team Adam is where I stand.  

Join me tomorrow night at 9/8c. I'm be tweeting up a storm {@amyeatlivelaugh}. Crying like a baby. And undoubtedly explaining to my duo some inappropriate reference such as that made at the end of Battle Round 4 when Blake Shelton informed the dueling {and then kissing} opponents they were supposed to "duet" not "do it."

Like I said: family fun at it's finest!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gimme s'more!!

I suppose it was my early years spent in the midwest where summer evenings are cool and camping is an acceptable summertime activity. Or maybe it was all the Girl Scout camps of my youth when we wore bandanas in our hair and stayed outside for days {and nights} on end. 

Whatever reason, summer reminds me of and makes me crave s'mores. 

This may not strike all of you as odd, but I live in Texas now and no one in Texas is considering lighting a fire anytime in at least the next six months. It may be longer before the burn bans are lifted and temps again dip below 80 {yes, even at night}.  

Suffice to say, s'mores are not so much a Texas summertime treat. But I miss them. And I want my kids to enjoy some some of the simple summertime pleasures of my youth: chasing fireflies and eating s'mores. Preferably on the same evening while the adults sit on a deck drinking tea {or was that tea in their glasses?} and discussing politics or the weather or possibly, how cute the kids are running amuck eating s'mores and chasing fireflies.

Good summer memories. 

Before Nintendo, Wii, the internet and even cable {gasp, yes, I'm that old and lived in the midwest as a tot}. 

Until we retreat to the mountains later this summer, we'll make do with this s'more bar recipe that requires only 4 ingredients and can be made in the comfort of your air conditioned kitchen. 

I have not tried it yet, but given the list of ingredients, I see little room for error! 

Toasted Bittersweet S’more Bars

8 Tbs. unsalted butter, divided
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
6 oz. chocolate (bittersweet or semisweet), chopped
18 large marshmallows, cut in half crosswise

Heat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch-square baking dish with foil, leaving about 1 inch hanging over 2 edges. Lightly coat the bottom and sides with cooking spray. Make room in the fridge.

Put 3 Tbs. of the butter in a medium, heatproof bowl and heat in a microwave or over simmering water until melted. Add the cookie crumbs and stir until the crumbs are moist and well blended. Dump the crumbs into the prepared pan and, using a flat-bottomed cup, firmly press the crumbs into an even layer on the bottom. Bake until fragrant, about 12 minutes. Set on a rack to cool.

Put the chocolate and the remaining 5 tablespoons butter in a medium heatproof bowl and heat in a microwave or over simmering water until melted. Whisk until smooth and blended. Pour into the baked crust (it’s OK if the crust is still warm) and spread evenly. Refrigerate until almost firm, about 30 minutes (for faster chilling, slide the pan into the freezer). Arrange the marshmallow halves, cut side down, evenly over the chocolate, pressing lightly. Cover and refrigerate until very firm, about 40 minutes or for up to 2 days.

Just before serving, adjust the oven rack to the top level and heat the broiler on high. Using the excess foil as handles, lift the s’more square from the pan and set on a cookie sheet. Pull the foil away from the sides and slide the cookie sheet under the broiler. Broil until the marshmallows are browned, about 20 seconds. Set on a rack and move the foil and s’more square to a cutting board. Cut into 18 rectangles. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Serve slightly chilled.

Recipe and photo via Fine Cooking

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Go Red for Women!

I mentioned in February that I joined the Circle of Red. The Circle of Red is a committed and passionate group of women who devote their resources in an attempt to significantly impact the community by providing a personal commitment to help find a cure for heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women.

A few weeks back was our local luncheon and it was a fabulous day -- just seeing the room filled with women dressed in red and devoted to a unified cause! 

This is our official Circle of Red promo picture. I'm not 6 feet tall but was sitting closest to the camera. Truly, I should know better. And yes, that is my red Tilda from Lesley Evers. Love that dress and received loads of compliments when I wore it again to the Go Red Luncheon {pictured below}.  

Such a wonderful group of friends!

I'm blogging this out again to remind you all to that heart disease can affect women of any age. Now is the time to start heart-healthy habits! I committed to informing at least 5 women of the steps we can all take to maintain our heart health. If my 5 women tell just 5 more who tell just 5 more, well you see how quickly we can make a difference.

Join me in taking these 5 steps towards maintaing heart health:
1. Don't smoke,
2. Eat well,
3. Exercise,
4. Watch your weight, and
5. Visit your doctor regularly

Top all that off with a glass or two of red wine on occasion {in moderation, of course} and you are on your way to maintaining your heart health!

Will you join me and pass these 5 preventative steps along to 5 women you know?  Let's see what a difference we can make!

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