Friday, April 30, 2010

Feed Me Books Friday: Momma Loves Her Little Son

by John Carter Cash

Yes, that's THE John Carter Cash, son of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. I recently visited Nashville and went to the Country Music Hall of Fame. I saw a large sign for this book, but there were none on the shelf. I'm so glad I asked if they had any! They pulled a bunch from the back. I paged through, and knew I had to have it. I didn't even realize it until I was home in PA, but I got a signed copy!

The inspiration and title for this book came from the phrase that June Carter used to say to John: "Momma loves her little son". "She often recalled to me how one day I turned to her and said, "Son loves his little momma." This is a book of a mother's unconditional love for her son, and of the common dreams they may share within that love. (From the back cover.)

A few lines from the book:
"Momma loves her little son, as we count rocks and fishes.
And tell the salamanders and the toads all our secret wishes."

Takeaway: This is just a lovely book to remind your child of your unconditional love and to have special mama/son time with your little guy. Enjoy!

This post is linked to Feed Me Books Friday at The Adventure of Motherhood

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Back from Nash-vegas!

I'm back from my fabulous girls-only weekend in Nashville! We had a great time, here's my recap. I'll just apologize in advance for a looooong post that not too many people are going to care about. I just wanted to capture the weekend for myself:)

Day #1

Colleen and I flew out of Philly Friday morning. (Our three friends running the race left a day ahead of us.) Everything went so smoothly and Colleen was great to travel with! We arrived in Nashville, checked into our hotel, and decided to take a walk down Broadway. Broadway is the main drag where all the honky tonks are, and it is so much fun! We stopped to eat lunch at Rippy's, and sat at the upstairs bar. The bar was just plywood slapped on top of the bar and everyone had written all over it! We had a great BBQ combo lunch for $6.95. My kind of place!

Then, we headed back to meet up with the other girls, and go on a tour of Nashville. We really wanted to take the Nash Trash Tour, but they were all booked. Boo. So, we did the Greyline one instead. We stopped at the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium (the original Grand Old Opry), and The World Famous Tootsie's Orchid Lounge.

I was fascinated with the Country Music Hall of Fame, the "Family Tradition: The Williams Family Legacy". It is the history of the Williams family starting with Hank Williams and going down through Hank Williams Jr. and Hank Jr's kids. They had an incredible impact on country music, it was so interesting. I also picked up this treasure of a book in the gift shop (review to come on Friday)!

We stopped in to see the Ryman and Julie and Lori busted up on stage and took their own pictures behind the microphone. I need to see those pics! There wasn't much to it, but I did enjoy the Johnny Cash display, which included TVs running old episodes of the Johnny Cash Show. Did you know that Ray Charles did his own rendition of "Ring of Fire"?

We headed out to dinner at Amerigos, which is a fantastic Italian restaurant outside of the downtown area. Our server was SO nice, he actually talked us into sharing a salad instead of ordering a whole one. And, they gave us all separate checks. This happened at almost every restaurant we went to in Nashville, which floored us Yankees. Is this a southern thing?

One of my favorite parts of the trip was Colleen's Q&A with all of our cab drivers. She made it a point to ask them their whole life story a few questions about where they were from and about their families:) She also asked them their favorite part about America. One answered, "peace". Another answered, "freedom". Just about made me cry #1 with pride for our country and #2 imagining what they endured in their home countries.

Country Music Hall of Fame
Band at Tootsies. I'm not even going to mention Julie's smooooth conversation with the bass player. Nope. It may have had something to do with her taking a picture of the band. And, him asking for her email address to get the photo. And, her turning beet red and throwing up her left hand, waving it in the air, and mouthing "I'M MARRIED!!"

Tootsies. At 3:00 in the afternoon!

Colleen, me, Julie at Tootsies

The Capitol Building

Nashville has a full-size replica of the Parthenon!

Day #2

Race day! The whole reason we went to Nashville was because Julie, Lori, and Carolyn were running the Country Music Marathon. They were calling for bad weather and started the race a little early. Colleen and I watched some of the race, and walked to end of race to meet Carolyn. It started raining, so went back to hotel. They actually cut the race short because of thunder & lightening, and Julie and Lori were not allowed to finish. I feel so bad for them. They are amazing runners and trained so hard!

At this point it was just pouring down rain, so Colleen and I went to the Opry Mills mall to kill some time. We discovered Charlotte Russe (who knew they had such cute, cheap tops?) and ate lunch at Tony Roma's. Which should not be confused with that guy who play for the Cowboy's (which is what I thought up until this very minute when I looked up the website--oops!)

For those of you who live in Nashville, I am pretty jealous of this mall. And, that's something coming from the girl who lives right around the corner from one of the largest malls in the country. Opry Mills is the most kid-friendly mall I've ever seen! Here are some of its features: A sting-ray aquarium (where kids can "pet" the sting-rays), Aquarium Restaurant, Glow-in-the-Dark mini-golf, a little train that runs through the mall, Rainforest Cafe, Dave & Busters, and even Bass Pro Shops!

I wanted to go to dinner at the Wildhorse Saloon (and even convinced all the other girls to go), and they were closed for private party until 9:00 p.m. I am very mad at you Wildhorse Saloon--I really wanted to visit you. We ended up at the Big Bang. I'm not even linking to it. Terrible. Our first clue should have been all the workers had to wear t-shirts that said "Bang This". I think we scared our waitress, but she should have been--she almost lost my credit card! It was raining hard off and on and the honky tonk bars were too crowded. We ended up going back to the Union Station Hotel, and I had a drink with Lori in the bar. Gorgeous hotel!
Some were walking, some were running, but they were all swinging pink hula hoops!
Yes, they were RUNNING and HULA HOOPING at the SAME TIME!!

LP Field, home of the Titans--and the end of the race

Ah, this baby was SO cute. And, look at this Mama--she ran the half! I was really trying to catch the guy behind her. See those roses? He also had a ring. That's right. He was going to propose to his girlfriend at the finish line. We tried to follow him, but he got lost in the crowd. I hope she said yes!
Carolyn: ROCK STAR half marathon runner!

Caroly, Elvis, Colleen, me

Day #3
Our last day was kind of lazy. We went to breakfast at The Pancake Pantry. It was a looooooong wait. They do have incredible pancakes! I don't think I would wait that long again, but I'm glad we went. We got coffee from Provance, which is right across the street. Wow, that place was so cute! They had tons of pastries, sandwiches, salads, breads, and breakfast items. We were all marveling that Nashville seems to favor high ceilings, different than Philly.

This is what a 1 1/2 hour wait at The Pancake Pantry looks like

Carolyn, me, Julie, Lori, Colleen

I had such a great time! Everyone was easy to travel with and we all got along so well. I hope we can do it again!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Top Ten MAJOR Fail Gifts for Women

As a follow up to last week's list of Top Ten No-Fail Gifts for Women, I thought I'd do an opposite list!

1. Gym membership/exercise equipment
Unless you know you know your woman VERY well in this area and have talked about it, stay away from this type of gift. Most women are self-concious about their weight and don't want to think that their significant other thinks they are fat. Because really, that's what you're saying. Isn't it? No, probably not. You may just think you are doing a nice thing, but it won't be seen that way.

2. A gift thinly veiled as a gift for yourself
Eagles tickets? A new fishing rod? A 72" plasma TV? Lingerie? "Surprise! I got you these awesome tickets! We're going to have SUCH a great time!" Don't even try it.

3. Cleaning items
Unless it's a Roomba or a maid, please do not get cleaning items for a gift. There is nothing about cleaning that makes me feel special.

4. Stuffed animals
Really, I think stuffed animals are only good for people 18 and under. I know Vermont Teddy Bear is always advertising around the holidays, but don't fall for it. It's just a big dust catcher! (Note: I actually love Vermont Teddy Bear and just visited their factory last summer with Dash. Cute for kids, not for grown women.)

5. Clothes
Again, unless you know your lady VERY well, please don't try to buy her clothes. Sizes vary greatly with clothing, and styles are hard to pinpoint. This will probably only make more work for her because she will have to return or exchange things.

6. Bath & Body Works
Maybe it's just me, but I'm not a fan of lotion, spray, and body wash. Anyone else? To me, it's one of those last-minute-I-have-no-idea-what-to-get-you-so-I-ran-to-the-mall-and-the-salesgirl-said-you'd-like-this gifts.

7. Candles
Lame. See above.

8. Appliances
Like I said in #3, a Roomba might be an appropriate gift. Might. But, a blender, new washing machine or dishwasher should be part of your household expenses, not a gift. Unless, of course, this is REALLY what she wants. (I actually asked for and received a fabulous toaster oven one year.) But, I would still get a little something else to go along with it.

9. Anything from Spencer's
You know, the store you went into when you were a teenager, sneaking glances over your shoulder and giggling the whole way through? While you may think that "fun game" you bought to spice things up in the bedroom is going to be great... chances are your lady will think it's in poor taste. And, it is.

10. Pets
Maybe this one is a little harsh. I know some people would probably love a cat/dog/fish as a gift. But, me? Right now, it's just more work. And, I'd want a say in choosing the pet too. Best to pass, in my opinion.

So, ladies, how did I do this time? Anything to add?

This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday at Oh Amanda

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Nashville or Bust!

I'm flying out tomorrow for a girl's weekend in Nashville. Woo hoo!

Lest I give you the wrong impression, a few of my friends are running the Country Music Marathon. Not me. I will be sampling lots of barbecue, biscuits, & sweet tea, and hoping to heck that I run to some of my favorite country stars. Like Brad, Toby, Josh, or any other hunky cowboys who may be in town.

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Top Ten No-Fail Gifts for Women

As Mother's Day (and my birthday!), approaches I was thinking of how some men say it's hard to know what to buy for the woman in their life. Personally, I find women very easy to buy for, but that's probably because I AM a woman! Here is my list of no-fail gifts for women.

1. Flowers
I made the mistake of saying that I didn't want flowers for an anniversary/birthday/whatever important event one time. I am frugal you know, and I said something like, "Oh don't waste money on flowers. The cats will eat them, and they just die anyway." Dumb, dumb, dumb. Seriously, I do like flowers and it has taken a while to come back from that, but Mr. Incredible knows that flowers are a nice gift for me.

2. Jewelry
Listen up, guys. Women like jewelry. I would say this has a 99% get-out-of-the-doghouse success rate. And, it's just an all-around great gift. There are so many great personalized jewelry sites now too. I love everything on this site:  And, seriously, I do not know of a mother out there who would not swoon over this silhouette necklace from Le Papier Studio.

3. Spa gift certificate
Ladies like massages. And facials. And mani/pedis. If you don't know what that is, you're in more trouble than I thought. Try this website to find a spa near you: I think I've even seen discounted gift cards at Costco.

4. A Free Day
A free day where she can do whatever she wants. Meaning, a GUILT-FREE day where she can go shopping/out to lunch/to the movies/to the beach/whatever and you make your own dinner/take care of the kids/and maybe even clean the toilets, and don't complain about it.

5. Tickets to a show or concert
I rarely get to go to (Off) Broadway shows, but I love them. It is expensive when you add up the tickets, parking, dining, etc. It is a treat that most women would enjoy. I have seen and loved Wicked and The Phantom of the Opera. I would love to see The Lion King and Les Mis some day!
6. Amazon or Starbucks gift card
Some say a gift card is too impersonal, especially for your significant other. I tend to disagree. I think a $25 gift card to Amazon would be fantastic. You can get almost anything on Amazon (books, books, and more books for me, please!) and most things ship free when you spend $25. Almost every woman I know loves fancy coffee (or tea) drinks, but feels guilty about spending the money. Your lady would love this treat!

7. Photos
I LOVE pictures of our family! Find a great photo and get it enlarged and framed. A friend's husband did this, made the photo black & white and colored in the flowers. It's gorgeous and different! Or, make a photo book--there are a zillion different options out there! If your lady is into photography, I'm sure she would love a new lens or some other equipment she feels guilty spending money on.

8. Personalized stuff
Nothing says I love you/I put lots of though into this/I didn't just buy this gift five minutes ago at the gas station like a personalized gift. My bloggy friend is starting a monagramming business, and she is going to have some very cute tote and overnight bags. Great gifts to go along with #9!

9. A mini-vacation
You could go big or small on this one and still be a hero. One night at a bed & breakfast or a week in the Caribbean would have the same affect on me. Take care of all the details and surprise her!

10. Dinner out on the town
This is one of my favorites! Mr. Incredible (admittedly, so I don't think I'm speaking out of turn here) is not a chef. So, a night off from cooking is a lovely gift for me. Add in a babysitter so you can have more than 2 minutes of uninterruped conversation and you have a winner!

Ok, ladies, what did I miss? What would you love/hate as a gift? And, guys, please make a list of no-fail gifts for men and send me the link, k?

This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday at Oh Amanda

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Winner! Hand of Fate by Lis Wiehl Giveaway

The winner is The Former PK. Congratulations!

Thank you to all who entered, I sincerely appreciate you stopping by. I already have another book from BookSneeze on the way, so look for another giveaway soon!

Monday, April 12, 2010

24: Jack's Not Coming Back

And, no one else for that matter. In case you missed it, 24 has been cancelled and this will be the final season. I'm a little sad 1) because it is the ONLY show Mr. Incredible will watch with me and 2) I really did like the show. But, I think it's run it's course. There are only so many plot lines they can recycle over and over again. If I have to watch one more scum bag get immunity from a phone call to the president, I may poke my eyes out!

We have watched the entire series from the beginning and I have some favorite characters: Jack Bauer (of course), Chloe O'Brian, Tony Almeida, David Palmer, Aaron Pierce, Bill Buchanan, Edgar Stiles, and Morris O'Brian.

And, then there are some that we just loved to hate: Nina Meyers and Sherry Palmer are my top picks!

Great Jack quote:
President Taylor: You resigned from government service, and the Senate regards you as having been a renegade agent. How am I supposed to know where your loyalties really lie?

Jack Bauer: With all due respect, Madam President, ask around. ("Day 7: 3:00pm-4:00pm")
Here are some of my favorite Chloe quotes:
Tony Almeida: There's a program for that?
Chloe O'Brian: No, so I wrote one for it.

Erin Driscoll: That's it Chloe, you're out of here.
Chloe O'Brian: I was going to quit anyway. ("Day 4: 10:00am-11:00am")

Chloe O'Brian: Edgar, I appreciate your concern. I really do. Just when I shot that guy, I thought I'd go all fetal position. But the truth is I didn't feel anything. At all. I hope I'm not some kind of a psychopath.
Edgar Stiles: Well he was trying to kill you.
Chloe O'Brian: Yeah but still.
Edgar Stiles: Maybe it's a delayed reaction kinda thing. Maybe you'll freak out about it in a couple days.
Chloe O'Brian: I hope so. ("Day 4: 2:00am-3:00am")

Chloe O'Brian: I was unfairly harsh to you a few minutes ago, I didn't mean anything.
Spenser Wolff: All right. Apology accepted.
Chloe O'Brian: It wasn't really an apology, it was more of an observation.

Chloe O'Brian: (to Former President Logan) I'm sorry, I'm feeling ambivalent. I'm going to go. ("Day 6: 6:00pm-7:00pm")

I'm sorry I gave up on my 24 recaps. We got so behind on watching and I didn't want to post the recaps weeks later. As it stands, we still haven't caught up on last week's two hour episode, so don't post any spoilers in the comments, k?

So, who's your favorite character? Any favorite quotes? What do you think will happen in the final episode?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Feed Me Books Friday: Shrinking Sam

Shrinking Sam
by Miriam Latimer

This used to be one of Dash's favorite books, but we haven't read it in a while. You know, all those pirates and such.

Sam is a middle child who feels a little ignored sometimes. One day he feels that no one is paying any attention to him--and he starts shrinking! He falls down the sink drain and finds a pal, Izzy, who has shrunk too. They share their stories and as they talk, Sam feels himself begin to grow. He hops back home and has a reunion with his family.

There is a line that I always skip as Sam is falling down the drain. I think it says something like "he thought he was going to drown/die". I don't think it belongs in a book for young kids, but that's just me.

Takeaway: This would be a good book children with siblings to help them if they feel that they are not getting enough attention. Dash is too young to "get" that part and, plus, he's an only child! He just liked Sam--and his dog, Kimba!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Reynold's No-Stick Foil

I have very few brand loyalties. I use whatever shampoo is on sale (or, at this point, in my stockpile!), same for toothpaste, clothes, kitchen stuff, whatever. But, I really do love Reynolds Wrap non-stick foil. Like big puffy heart love it.

The reason I started using it was because I was sick and tired of covering my lasagnas with foil and then having all the cheese stick to it! I was also tired of scrubbing every pot and pan after baking simple dishes. Then, I had one of those lovely "A-HA!" moments when I found this foil.

I use it for everything. I line pretty much every pan that I use with it. It's the best for making brownies and bars. I use a Pampered Chef stone baker to make my baked goods and they tend to stay warmer longer than other pans. By using this foil, you just leave some foil "handles" on the ends and lift out the baked goods. No worries about over cooking. Transfer to a cooling rack and you are good to go.

I also find it much easier to cut bars this way. You can put the baked goods on a large cutting board and use your good, sharp knives to cut away. No damage to your good pans!

And, the very best part? Zero clean up.

This post is linked to:

Things I Love Thursday at The Diaper Diaries
Friday Favorites at The Other Mama

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hand of Fate by Lis Wiehl - Book Review and Giveaway!

I recently signed up with, and I am part of their book review bloggers program. I requested and was sent Hand of Fate by Lis Wiehl.
Hand of Fate is the second novel in the Triple Threat series, following Allison (federal prosecuter), Nicole (FBI agent), and Cassidy (TV journalist).

The novel opens with popular radio personality, Jim Fate, being murdered in his studio by opening a package that fills his studio with poisonous gas. Chaos ensues not only in the radio studio and building, but in downtown Portland (Oregon) as well. Allison and Nicole are in court a few blocks away and forced to evacuate the building. Allison makes it out and rescues a child on the street. Nicole is trapped in the building. Cassidy hears the news and races to the scene to cover the story.

After the initial dangers pass, the three women team up to figure out who killed Fate and why. Hand of Fate is a great mystery novel. It is fast-paced (just the way I like it!) and the final twist was not obvious.

I also loved the way that Wiehl weaved faith into the novel, and not in a cram-it-down-your-throat kind of way. The three women are at different stages of faith: Allison is clearly a Christian, Nicole had a very religious upbringing but a terrible trauma crushed her faith, and Cassidy is new-agey.

Wiehl never reveals who she based Jim Fate's character on, but some of her friends in the business were sure it was them. I think it's a combination of several radio personalities, but she does call Fate "The Great One" at one point. And, we all know who that is...

Now, on to the giveaway! I am giving away my copy of Hand of Fate to one of my readers!

Rules: This giveaway is only open to residents of the continental US. Enter to win by Monday, April 12, 2010. Winner will be randomly chosen. Please include your email address!

You have three chances to win!

1. Leave a comment with the title of your favorite book or a good book you just read.

2. Friend me on Good Reads, so we can chat books! (I receive no compensation or perks from Good Reads, I just like their website. And books.) Leave a comment that you did so.

3. Tweet this giveaway and leave a comment with a link to your tweet.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Feed Me Books Friday: Pirates and Ladybug Girl

I took Dash to the library last week. I asked him what kind of books he wanted to get, and he said, "PIRATES!" His response may or may not have had anything to do with the fact that he had just been watching The Pirates That Don't Do Anything in the car.

We asked the children's librarian for some pirate books and she pulled a few for us.

Just look at my sweet boy

One of our favorites was Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies by Carolyn Crimi. It is a great book that incorporates all of the pirate jargon, but none of the scary stuff. One of the other books we got had pirates being chased by ghosts and a captain that "sold his soul" for gold. Ugh!

Black Ear is a big, bad pirate who is ashamed of his son, Henry, for not being a "real" pirate. All Henry wants to do is read books. The Buccaneer Bunnies do not listen to Henry's storm warnings, and they end up stranded on a deserted island. Henry comes to the rescue, building a shelter, cooking food, making clothes--all learned from the books he's read.

Takeaway: It's really a sweet and clever book! I love that it is about pirates (which Dash loves) AND reinforces the importance of reading.
We also picked up Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy. This is a fun, well-written book about Lulu/Ladybug Girl and her pal Sam/Bumblebee Boy. Lulu has great fun as Ladybug Girl, but when she runs into Sam at the park, he doesn't want to play anything she wants to play. They both get a little upset. Lulu suggests playing Ladybug Girl. Sam can be Bumblebee Boy, and they can have superpowers! There are a few other books in this series that I would love to pick up next time.

Takeaway: Kids can learn how fun pretending can be, and how to work out conflict and compromise with friends.

Food You Didn't Cook Tastes So Much Better

I'm not talking about the "raw food" movement, people. I'm talking homemade comfort food delivered to your doorstep!

I wrote about my surgery last week and how well we were being taken care of. You have no idea. First off, my BFF Stephanie came over at 8:00 a.m. to watch Dash until my mom could get there. Not only did she watch my kid, she cleaned my house. When I walked in the door later that day, I almost cried. Except that would have hurt too much.

Then, the food started coming in. We were treated to some of the most amazing meals. They were all really good. But, I find that food I didn't cook tastes even better! Anyone with me on this?
Not to totally make you jealous (you will be, sorry), but here's what we received:

  • Pot roast, angel food cake with strawberries

  • Swedish meatballs, macaroni & cheese, Caesar salad (with homemade Caesar dressing!), lingonberry sauce

  • Pasta with meat sauce, bread, brownies

  • Lasagna, salad, bread, chocolate cake

  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans

  • Stuffed chicken breasts, wild rice pilaf, peas

  • Ravioli casserole (had to freeze because we had too much food!)
Thanks to Stephanie (for organizing the meals), Dominique, Michelle, Heather, Colleen, and the amazing Francie. We were totally spoiled rotten blessed in abundance last week!

This post is linked to:
Things I Love Thursday at The Diaper Diaries
Friday Favorites at The Other Mama