End of the Week Round-up

I feel like this weekly round-up of favorite things should have a better title to distinguish one post for the next, but I’m blanking on good ideas the moment. This week definitely had its ups and downs, with the down being the A/C going out in my car, then getting it fixed, then having it break again two days later. I finally got my car back today and things are back to being cool around here, so without further ado-

My Favorite Things This Week:

The chef’s table at Doro – I got a little mom night out time this week with my good friend Meisha, so I was excited for her to try Restaurant Doro for the first time. She loves the dining experience as much as I do, and never passes up a chance to sit at the chef’s table. It’s the best place to be if you are nosey about what everyone else is eating. We both love watching the food being prepared and seeing all the different dishes. Doro never disappoints with both taste and presentation!

Summer stargazing at the beach – Summer nights always make me think of watching shooting stars at the beach. The Perseids happen July – August so almost any night out during those months you’ll catch several streak across the sky. The stars are always way brighter at the beach, so since we’ve moved here I’ve been pointing out the bright constellations to my son. He’s great at picking out Orion and the Big Dipper.

Modern Map Art sent us this really cool star map from the night he was born, but I went to post a picture and then realized maybe it’s not the best idea to post all the exact details- name, date, time, location, and instead am posting the very nice sample photos from their website, ModernMapArt.com:

I thought it would look great on his bedroom wall. It’s a pretty cool personalized gift idea to commemorate an anniversary or any special date. They also have customized street, country and ski maps.

These pretty flowers my husband sent me – These were actually quite timely because they arrived on a rough toddler tantrumfest kind of day. What’s all that screaming? I don’t know…oh look pretty flowers…

Our brick! – I got my husband a special brick in our beaches town center for Christmas and I’ve been waiting a long time to see it. They only put them out in batches of 50 so sometimes it takes a while to reach the quota. I thought it would be a neat way to commemorate our new home and be a permanent part of our neighborhood. I finally got to see it last night, outside of a restaurant we often frequent:

That does it for this week’s favorite things. Stay tuned next week, when maybe I have a better title!

The only thing I’ve managed to come up with so far is Friday Favorites, but I’m not completely sold on Friday as the permanent post date. Sometimes I like to do the wrap-up on Monday!

Suggestions welcome 😁

The Drunken Chef Party

Last weekend I had another ladies night gathering, this time a triple header with a fashion truck, Pampered Chef demo and drink mixes by Minute Mixology.

I deemed it “The Drunken Chef” party and then found this awesome/ridiculous photo on Google. I think everyone needs one of these for Christmas:


I set up a mix-your-own drink station, prepped the ingredients, cleared the driveway, and then it was party time!

Belle of the Boulevard

If you have’t had a fashion truck at your party, I highly recommend it! I loved the way she set it up so it’s not just a truck you can shop in, it’s a full on mobile boutique complete with a little sitting area!

It’s been so hard for for me to actually get to a boutique lately that it was a total treat to have the boutique brought to me. Everybody had a lot of fun shopping in my driveway.

It’s a ten person minimum to have the truck set up and you get a great hostess discount! If you are in the Jacksonville area and interested, check out their Facebook page and send a message:  https://www.facebook.com/BelleBlvd

Minute Mixology

These handy little drink mix packets are perfect for busy people who like fancy cocktails with natural ingredients. They sent me six flavors to try so I put together a sampling bar where people could try some premade cocktails or mix their own. Each drink takes about 6 oz of a liquid and 1.5 oz of booze, pour packet in and stir.

The margaritas were really popular and the spicy margarita was Spicey! The Moscow Mule and Coconut Mojito tied for second, but the Old Fashioned got no love because bourbon wasn’t really a drink of choice for the ladies. The Michelada was also a tough sell since nobody wanted to mix beer with their liquor.

Check out Effie from Project_Mom_Strong showing how easy it is to mix up a cocktail!

My only question for them was if a cosmo was on their to-do list, and the answer is yes! The place to get these locally is Lucky’s Market or shop online at MinuteMixology.com

Pampered Chef

I love cooking so I always wanted to attend a Pampered Chef party and try out the products. I got to choose two recipes and then the consultant Kay gave me a grocery list for the food and she brought everything else.

She set up two stations, one for chicken nacho dip and one for brownies. Then we got to cooking! I had been eyeing the Simple Slicer in the catalog so I was excited to see that was one of the things we got to use.

We had a moment of excitement when the stoneware pan we cooked the chicken on broke apart as I was pulling it out of the oven. And then broke again when I set it on the counter! I just read the reviews for it on the website and apparently this is a common complaint.

Thankfully everything else worked great and the nacho dip and brownies were delicious.

Brownies with peanut butter drizzle ready for the oven!
Brownies with peanut butter drizzle ready for the oven!

If you are looking to set up your own party, just click here to contact Kay. You can even do a virtual party on Facebook! The only drawback is you have to have $200 in sales at your party to get any kind of discount. So Facebook is probably the best way to go anyway since you won’t have to spend any money on food or entertaining.

Overall the party was a lot of fun! And big thanks to Minute Mixology for sending the drink mixes, Belle of the Boulevard for the private VIP shopping experience and Kay from Pampered Chef for setting us up with some yummy treats.

5 Women I Need to Apologize To

I had zero child rearing experience before I had one of my own. Children were sticky little loud things I tried to avoid. I don’t know where I got my lofty ideas of how children should act, but I now understand that I was wrong about everything. I feel like I owe so many women an apology. After having a child of my own, I feel like I’ve walked a mile in another woman’s nursing bra. I get it now. I was such a judgey a-hole.

I'm sorry I judge you

1. To the one who quit her successful career to be a stay-at-home mom. I’m sorry I rolled my eyes. Said it was sad to see you throw it all away after working so hard. Said I’d never do something like that. And now that’s me. I finally understand you weren’t actually throwing anything away, and gaining so much more.

2. To the woman who’s baby wouldn’t stop crying and she had to leave the restaurant. The one I gave the stink-eye to, like how dare she pollute my environment with her noisy child. And then it was me, feeling embarrassed and rushing out before even getting a sip of water. It’s happened more than once, and every time I remember being the one who was giving the dirty looks and what a total judgmental jerk I was being.

3. To the woman who’s kid had messy hair, a snotty nose and dirty hands and I wondered why she couldn’t take care of her kid properly. I’m sorry I ever questioned your mothering skills. My kid is usually barefoot, with shaggy hair and sticky hands. He’s happy and healthy and I just had no idea how messy, snotty and dirty kids can get in ten seconds, no matter how hard you try to keep them clean.

4. To the woman who’s kid isn’t talking/walking/potty trained by some magic age. There is no magic age. They’ll do it when they are ready and not a moment before that. I’m sorry I ever questioned any child’s progress. I’m now cursed to spend my days repeating “pee and poo go in the potty” because my 3-year-old son just doesn’t want to give up his diapers, while my mom likes to remind me I was potty trained at two.

5. To the woman who asked her kid to do something five times before they did it and I wondered why the hell her kids don’t listen. Now I have to ask my kid ten times and he may or may not do what I ask. Sometimes he goes out of his way to do the complete opposite. Guess that’s just a little payback for all those times I questioned someone’s disciplinary skills.

To all these women and many more, I’m sorry for judging things I knew nothing about. Nothing has changed me more and opened my eyes like the experience of raising a child. Now when I see a screaming tantrum, I smile and nod, while inwardly thanking God it isn’t me this time. The only thing I know for certain about kids is that they are unpredictable and they are all different. And what I know for certain about moms is we are all just trying our best to keep them safe, happy and healthy and the last thing we need is judgement from friends, family or strangers. We are all just making it work, in our own way, and that happens to be the best way possible. And they are worth every bit!

mom and sonSo, anyone you guys feel the need to apologize to?

Let’s Get Popping with Malaysian Palm Oil

I use a lot of different oils in my cooking so I was excited about the opportunity from Moms Meet to try a free bottle of Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil and see what it was like. I learned the palm oil has very high smoke point and won’t break down into harmful chemicals when used at higher temperatures so it would be perfect to replace some of my other cooking oils. It’s also packed with potent phytonutrients like carotene and tocotrienols (an ultra-potent form of vitamin E) not found in other oils.

The suggested recipe was for popcorn and I admit I was skeptical about making it in a pot! I guess I thought you needed some kind of special air popper, old school tin foil bubble or microwave package to make it, but nope! All you need is a pot, oil and kernels.

I used a 6 qt. pot, 3 tbsp. of palm oil and just under 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels. The recipe called for 1/2 cup and an 8 qt. pot, so I adjusted for my smaller pot. I poured the 3 tbsp. in the pot, added three kernels, covered it with the lid and turned the heat to medium-high.

malaysian palm oil

It felt like it took forever to hear those three little pops, but really it was probably less than five minutes. After that I remove the pot from the heat and scooped the popped pieces out with a spoon. I then poured in the kernels and gave them a good shake to distribute the oil and heat evenly and ensure that everything pops at the same time. It’s an important step because otherwise it will pop unevenly and you will end up with burnt popcorn and leftover kernels.

I then put the pot back on the heat with a lid slightly askew so steam could escape. When it started popping, a few kernels escaped too!

The popping started pretty quickly and I had to adjust the lid a couple times because it kept slipping down. After a couple minutes I peeked in and there was a beautiful golden pile of popcorn. The palm oil is a rich red color from the same carotenoids found in carrots, oranges, squash and apricots and is loaded with provitamin A. The red color of the oil gives the popcorn a golden hue that makes it look like it’s right out of the movie theater.

I poured it into the bowl and found that almost every single kernel had popped and this was possibly the most perfect bowl of popcorn I had ever made. I didn’t even feel like I needed to add butter and just tossed it with a little bit of sea salt and it was delicious!

Popcorn made with palm oil

I’m really looking forward to trying the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil in other recipes like pan frying and stir fry, and making popcorn like this again! If you’d like to learn more about palm oil and its many benefits, check out www.PalmOilHealth.org .

The Modern Dad

I was reading this article about Estee Lauder being sued for discriminating against new fathers because dads get two weeks paid vacation and moms get six weeks, and it got me thinking. My husband got ten days of “paternity leave” from the Army when I gave birth. It would have been amazing to have him there for six weeks! I can be honest and admit I spent the first week of him back at work crying every day under the stress of trying to figure out this mom stuff on my own. I didn’t have family around to help so I spent all day Googling everything for guidance. I would have loved to have my husband home until we were both more settled in new life as parents.

father and newborn son

Parental leave isn’t the only thing dads get the short stick on. I can’t count the number of times we have been out somewhere and my husband has brought our son into the restroom to change him, only to find there’s no changing table in the men’s room. As if men never change babies!

Times have changed (thankfully) and dads are much more active in their parental roles. Anything we can do to encourage this, I support! Having a hands-on dad is awesome, and my husband makes a big effort to be part of things. I want my son to grow up with a great father role-model, which is something I missed out on. I only reconnected with my estranged father in my mid 20s, so I don’t even know what dads are supposed to do. I only recently started celebrating Father’s Day and learning about “dad stuff,” but it will always be a bit of a mystery to me.

We always want more for our children than we had, so I’m grateful my son gets to experience having a father, and this is what I celebrate now on Father’s Day. Which reminds me, I need to check the calendar and find out when that is again. I still have trouble remembering!