Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Year-End Review

For those who celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a nice holiday. Mine was good . . . for the most part. However, I am not ready for a postmortem post about all the merriment. See, we did some things differently this year. And some of it went really, really well. And other things didn’t quite happen as I had envisioned. Or even a mediocre alternative. Stay tuned for another post.

So moving forward (to give me time to process Christmas), I am doing The Year-End Review that I found at Whole Living by Sarah Susanka , the author of The Not So Big Life. (And I will also be attempting The Whole Living Action Plan 28-Day Challenge starting Monday. I. am. nervous. Check out these recipes!! Stay tuned for more posts about that. And please feel free to join me in this challenge. I’d love the company).

And here I present to you my Year-End Review:

How have you spent your time?

I have spent the majority of my time taking care of The Babes

  • Meeting their basic needs.
  • Molding their young minds into kind-hearted human beings. (Oooh, that sounds simple, but those on the front lines of motherhood know that this is no easy task. If it was, therapists would be out of business).
  • Cultivating a relationship between The Babes. (It seems to be working).


You know what's so great about this?
 I didn't even ask them to pose.
Marie had just fallen off the broom and
wanted to be sure Thomas didn't.
Playing alone.  Without me to moderate.
Pretend sleepovers.
I have also been really working on writing and my blog.
  • Thank you much, Mommy Wants Vodka and your concept of Bringing Aunt Becky Back. You have helped me brush the dust off and wipe the sleep from my eyes. And guess what? I am still here. Different, but here.

What are you grateful for?
  • For my Babes and all they have taught me about being a good person.
  • Writing and blogging. It has done wonders for my self-confidence. Also all the wonderful people I have connected with, all by putting myself out there.
  • BlogHer 10, thank you for showing me all the wonderful things that can happen with blogging and writing.

What were your sorrows/disappointments?

There has been a lot of disappointment surrounding some of my personal relationships.
  • “No” is a powerful word. And sadly, some “relationships” cannot withstand “no.”
  • Some relationships were not what they appeared to be.
  • When I was busy pouring myself into certain relationships, I failed to notice I was the only one showing up.

Cold hard truth: one person cannot carry the weight of a healthy relationship.

 Sad? Yes, I have cried buckets. However, it is . . . freeing, you know, not to feel drained.

What books, films, etc. moved you?
  • Eat Pray Love moved me (The book, not the movie . . . although the scenery in the movie was beautiful). . Have you ever read something and felt like someone took the words right out of your head and displayed them elegantly on the pages for you to read? This was that book for me. Minus the divorce and travel.

  • Also Princess and the Frog. (I can hear your snickers, you know.) The message of balance between career and personal life is priceless. Also, The Babes and I bonded over the CD (especially on the trip to BlogHer10). And Thomas insists that I sing “Down in New Orleans.” Every night. At LEAST three times before I put him in his crib.


How are you different from the way you were a year ago?
  • I understand me better.
  • Better understanding of my personal boundaries and limits.
  • More confident as a mother.
  • Definitely understand the importance of fueling up my tank with healthy things that make me feel good, like writing, yoga, and exercising. I used to look at these things as a luxury, but now a necessity.
How can you integrate the lessons of the past year?
  • Honor my personal boundaries and limits.
  • Not feel guilty when I make a choice in the best interest of my family, and someone does not like it.
 This is hard. I think it all boils down to quieting the external noise and focusing on my instincts. And when people are not happy (especially when they hear the word “no”), they make a. lot. of. noise. But those instincts of mine? Rarely wrong.

Is there anything you’re trying to force into existence right now? If so, what would happen if you stopped?
  • Yes. See above about personal relationships. I am pretty sure that if I stopped forcing certain relationships to be what I thought they were, I would eventually be happier.

  • And everything is better when I am happy.


What do you want to focus on in the coming year?
  • Be the best mother I can be.
  • More date nights with Harrington.
  • Keep on writing and blogging.
  • More yoga.
  • Focusing on the healthy relationships.
  • Find more like-minded people who share my values.
Simply put, I want to be the best version of myself. I think only good can come of that, right?

So, Friends, where have you been in 2010? Where are you going?

And if you are interested in doing the 28-Day Whole Living Action Plan, let me know. I could use some team spirit. *spirit fingers*


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

And the Winner of Pure Dark Chocolate is . . .


This?  All yours!!  Plus a yummy slab of Pure Dark Chocolate!

Yeaa! Congrats! Get in contact with me so that we can arrange a drop off for you delicious Pure Dark treat.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this giveaway! I really appreciate it! And be sure to check out Pure Dark to order yourself a delectable piece of dark chocolate.

Also, drop on by tomorrow when I post my year-end review and write about the 28-day crazy experiment challenge I plan on subjecting myself, my family, anyone crazy adventurous enough to join me.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pure Dark Chocolate Review and Giveaway

I was recently contacted by Pure Dark to review their product. Let me think about that, sample chocolate and write about it. . . I’m in!

Pure Dark creates hand-crafted specialty dark chocolates that are minimally processed making a product that is close to nature as the cocoa pod. Let me tell you, these chocolates? Delicious! These dark chocolate treats are unlike any other chocolates that I have ever tasted (and this coming from a card-carrying member of a certain upscale chocolate store that shall remain nameless).

Pure Dark offers chocolate slabs that are almost one inch thick. They offer barks of dark chocolate with all kinds of different ingredients like cherries, blueberries, walnuts, almonds, mango, macadamia nuts and crystallized ginger. And speaking of nuts and berries, they also cover those delicious goodies in their signature dark chocolate and have them available in these canisters for snacking. For a really unique taste, there are Pure Dark Rounds with flavors such as raspberry acai, chipotle cinnamon, and cardamom allspice. Another distinct product that Pure Dark has to offer Pure Dark Nibs. They are cocoa beans that are lightly roasted and crushed which come in three different flavors: caramelized, dark chocolate, or a variety mix.

Pure Dark gave me a Pure Dark Slab and Classic Bark to sample. The Pure Dark Slab was fantastic! It was sweet, but not super-sugary. This chocolate had more of a beautiful, earthy-sweet taste. There was also this interesting texture of smoothness to the chocolate that was balanced out by a delicate crunch of Pure Dark Nibs. This piece of chocolate is so thick that I would not recommend cutting it with a knife. They have this awesome cutting board gift set that includes a slab cutting tool, but since I didn’t have one, I used a cutting board and a big serving fork to break up The Slab into bite sized pieces.

Just look at all that mouth-watering chocolate!

The Classic Bark that I tried was delicious! In this masterpiece, chunks of dark chocolate are punctuated with crunchy almonds and tangy dried cherries. Now, I have to say that typically, chocolate and cherries are not my favorite combination. But these cherries were plump and tasty, which totally complemented the rich, dark chocolate. I loved this blend of chocolate, fruit, and nuts.

Packaging is another aspect of this product that I really liked, as well. The brown paper bags and hand written tags are completely in alignment with the pure and natural approach to chocolate. The gift sets are packaged in these beautiful hand-crafted wooden boxes and burlap sack.

So all you dark chocolate aficionados, because these delicious treats from Pure Dark are awesomely delicious, I want to share them with you in a giveaway. (And I do have to say that this is the hardest part of this review: departing with deep, dark chocolate). I would like to find a good home to someone who will love Pure Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberries and Pure Dark Slab. I will also give you some wonderful recipes that call for Pure Dark Chocolate, too!

This could be all yours!
Please leave a comment on this post about what Pure Dark product looks most delicious to you.

Here’s what you must do for extra entries. Please leave a comment on this post for each thing you did. Each comment is an extra entry:
- Become a fan of Mommy on the Spot on Facebook (or leave a comment if you already are a fan).
- Become a fan of Mommy on the Spot on Twitter (or leave a comment if you already are a fan).
- Become a fan of this blog by either subscribing to my RSS feed or Google Friend Connect.
- Share this post on Twitter, Facebook, or any other social network site.

Here’s what you must do to gain an extra 5 entries:
- Write your own blog post about this contest and be sure to add links to this post and Pure Dark. Post the link of your post on Mommy on the Spot fan page.

You must live in the continental U.S. The contest will start Wednesday, December 22nd and end on Tuesday, December 28th midnight EST. The winner will be picked at random. I will announce the winner on Wednesday, December 29th.

Good luck, everyone! And have a great week!

*As stated above, these products were donated to me to review. These opinions are completely mine. Oh, yes, all mine.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Be sure to check out The Girl Next Door Grows Up!  She is so full of awesomness!

Hi!  I have been MIA because it's the holidays and like birthday season, I am The Producer of The Holiday Season.  The wardrobe, sets, props, and food craft services table don't make themselves!  So this little elf has been ingesting enough caffine to soar just like Santa's sleigh.  But let's focus on the happy things because it's Feel Good Friday.

And 'tis the season for reruns (so please enjoy my post about Christmas music again)! 

My Favorite Christmas Music

Christmas music is one of the most essential ingredients for my holiday season. I remember listening to Christmas music with my Mom when we decorated the tree and baked Christmas cookies. I remember the skip in her Johnny Mathis album on the O Holy Night! song. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the feeling I get when I listen to Christmas music. And I LOVE how Marie gets just as excited as I do so now at least I have a partner in crime. However, I am very particular about what kind and who sings what song. So without any further ado, my favorite Christmas music list, condensed version:

There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays sung Perry Como
This song is great because I get all gushy for that going-home-to-my-parents-house feeling . . . even though I see them a lot and they live fifteen minutes away.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year sung by Andy Williams
I think this song is loaded with irony. Like when Andy croons, “Everyone telling you be a good cheer!” Yes, be a good cheer when you feel like you are going insane with the Christmas Craziness!! But my all time favorite line in that song is, “They’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.” Yes, scary ghost stories like the time Santa didn’t get to Christmas Eve until 9 p.m. and Marie, who was 8 months old at the time, had a SUPER meltdown (and I told her to be a good cheer, but that didn’t seem to cheer her up, ironically). And I know the lyrics say “glories of Christmases long, long ago,” but I like to think it really says “gories of Christmases long, long ago.” There are too many gories of Christmas past to share, but more recently (and on the tamer side) it would be someone saying something to the effect that I (when I was six months pregnant last Christmas) was big enough to wear a supersize garbage bag and maybe fit in the trunk of her car. Nice.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing sung by Nat King Cole
The women’s voices that sing right before it cuts out to Nat’s voice gives me chills! This song reminds me of my all time favorite movie It’s a Wonderful Life. The whole angel theme just makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

O! Holy Night! sung by Johnny Mathis
His voice is like butt-ah! I love it! Actually, I love this whole album. Plus it reminds me of my childhood; my Mom and I used to listen to this album when we baked Christmas cookies. And childhood and Christmas are enough to make anyone all teary-eyed! (And if someone else like Chris Groban tries to sing it, I get all mad because Johnny is the ONLY person who can sing it)!
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas sung by Judy Garland
This song is so sad and beautiful. Judy’s voice sounds melancholy when she talks about being light and troubles out of sight. This is another song when I get all upset when someone else tries to sing Judy’s Christmas song!

Winter Wonderland
Living in the Midwest, I am no stranger to snow storms. I love that this song makes snow storms sound like fun. Johnny Mathis or Harry Connick, Jr. both do this song justice!

Baby, It’s Cold Outside! sung by Al Hirt and Ann Margret
Speaking of songs that make snow storms sound like fun . . . I imagine in the old days when people used to listen to records and know how to make drinks like Tom Collins and Old Fashioneds.

Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters
I love all Christmas songs sung by Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters including the following:
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Mele Kalikimaka
Here Comes Santa Claus
Jingle Bells
Poppa Santa Claus
Jing-a-ling, Jing-a-ling

To be honest, the stress of the holidays is enough to kill any joy and merriment that can be so magical during this season. These songs help me find that place of happiness when all I want to do is cancel Christmas. It’s just like Buddy says in Elf, “The best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear!”

What are your favorite Christmas songs? What kind of memories do they bring up?

Monday, December 13, 2010

And the Winner of My Very First Giveaway is . . . .


Congratulations! Email me at, and I will give you the contact information to claim your prize!   (I will imagine that you are jumping around like the dad from A Christmas Story and singing, “Hot damn, I won!”)

Thank you to everyone who participated! I appreciate it very much!  Laura has given you a coupon code to use until the end of the year: GIVEAWAY10

*Be sure to place your orders in by December 14th to ensure delivery in time for Christmas.*

Thank you, Laura, for the generous prize! This giveaway was a lot of fun!!

Have a great Monday!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Feels Good Friday – A Word about Christmas movies and Cozy Feelings

Check out The Girl Next Door and Feel Good Friday!

Thank you all to have participated in My Very First Giveaway! You still have time to enter. Be sure to check out the details here!

If you missed my Wednesday post, be sure to click here and get your 30% off coupon code!
My little family has now evolved to the point where we can all cuddle on the couch and watch TV together. It just sort of happened. And I love it. So this week, Harrington has been working late, and I needed to wrap up this day without drama. I got The Babes all ready for bed, we got under the extra warm fuzzy brown blanket and watched The Charlie Brown Christmas Special one night and Dr. Seuss’s original The Grinch Who Stole Christmas another night.

I know it was simple and nothing much to it. But there was also something so magical in that moment with my Babes. Maybe it’s a bit of nostalgia because I used to love watching those Christmas specials as a Babe myself. Maybe it’s the fun that we are all enjoying the same show (and thankful the Cars movie was on holiday hiatus). I’m not sure of the reason.

And it doesn’t matter.

Because I am just so happy we are happy all together.

And don’t worry about Harrington. He got his chance for a little family bonding this week. And this weekend, we both look forward to introducing The Christmas Story to Marie!

As for me, tonight I am going to snuggle myself and watch my all time favorite movie, It’s a Wonderful Life.

So anything giving you the warm, fuzzy Christmas feeling?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wordless-ish Wednesday AND a Hallmark Coupon

First of all, for the past few Wednesdays, I’ve been doing Wordless-ish Wednesday. I was inspired by the The Kid Ate My Cheese and her wordless-ish Wednesdays. Be sure to check her blog out!!

Second of all, thank you for everyone who has already participated in My Very First Giveaway! I am really excited about it!! The deadline is Saturday. Be sure to click here for the details!

Third of all, it’s Christmas card time here at my house. On the weekend, we took The Family Picture. And this year, thanks to a generous gift from Hallmark which I received at BlogHer10, I was able to get a bunch of cards for free! Yeaa! Be sure to check out because there are so many ways to personalize your card. You can now download your pictures. They, of course, have awesome designs, lots of fonts, and fun ways to customize the back of the card as well (which was my personal favorite).

I’m a bit of a card snob, and I am an official Hallmark card carrying member. However, I stopped buying my Christmas cards from there ever since I had The Babes because I had to put each picture into the card. I wanted to be print and be done with it. And now Hallmark does that, along with printing the return address on the envelopes for free! Yea! And get this – they will address, stamp, and send your cards out for you. How cool is that?!

Because Hallmark ROCKS, they even gave me a code to share with all of you. Use this code and get 30% off your order: Blogher30. It expires 12-31-10.

Now I haven’t seen my final product yet, but the sample they sent me from BlogHer10 was AWESOME! So yes, they gave me a free gift, but these opinions are mine, mine, mine. And I can’t wait to show you all the final product!

Here’s a sneak peek of the pictures (or the “wordless” portion of the post)

Marie is bursting with holiday cheer. 
Thomas is upset that we turned off the TV.
Marie is a bit more subdued.
Thomas is still mad.
Harrington and I look like statues.
Everyone is looking in the same general direction.
Nobody appears angry. 
This is The One!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Very First Giveaway - Sassy Girls N Curls

This weekend, I had an opportunity to meet up with my friend Laura of Sassy Girls N Curls at her open house event. Maybe you remember her from my post about what to do with too much leftover Halloween candy. She came up with the GENIUS idea of the Switch Witch.

Not only is Laura incredibly clever, but she is incredibly crafty, as well. Her product lines of handcrafted hair clips and accessories are amazing! She has clips with super cute felt shapes, fancy ribbon clips, beautiful bows, and pretty Posey clips. Laura makes these awesome headbands with interchangeable bows so you can change up the look for different outfits. She also carries these gorgeous hats and tutus.
So here’s all of her incredible stock at her open house:

See all those pretty flowers? 
All attached to non slip clips!
How adorable are those
 Hello Kitty and Sesame Street clips?!
See all those bows?
Made them.  All herself.
I love the Santa and Gingerbread clips.
Oh, and the birdies.  And the cupcakes.

Her Pretty Posies Line

Lovely hats!

Cute tutu!
The creator herself, Laura, with her tutus!
Be sure to check out her etsy store for detailed pictures (because I am so obviously not a photographer).

I love that Laura makes everything herself and runs her own etsy store. Laura donated some clips for me to review. Check them out:
Don't those Rudolph clips so cute? 
And this was after my 45 minute
power walk in the mall.  No slipping!
Here they are up close.
Ooo, shiny red!
Also in fancy black!
I LOVE this one!

When I saw the non slip clip advertised, I was a bit of a skeptic. Marie has a TON of hair. I’ve tried everything, and the only this that kind of works are the plastic kind of barrettes I used to wear as a kid. However, they often slip out or snap open. And then they are no longer a pair, but of course I don’t realize that we lost one so I spend precious time in the morning searching for the match that no longer exists. Inevitably, I have to give up. So by the time we get to school, not only is she wearing barrettes that don’t match, Marie’s hair is a mess because the barrettes are already on their way out.

But these clips? Totally Do. Not. Slip. I tried one with this special grip and a regular barrette without the grip. They were going nowhere! Seriously?! So excited!

Since I love them, and I want to share, I will be giving away $25 gift certificate for Sassy Girls N Curls!

These accessories would be perfect for the holidays, make fantastic stocking stuffers, or add just the perfect touch to any outfit.

Did I mention that they do not slip?

The Entry Rules

So here’s what you must do to snag this incredible prize:
Please leave a comment on this post about your favorite product of Sassy Girls N Curls.

Want extra entries?  Please leave a comment on this post for each thing you did. Each comment is an extra entry:
- Become a member of Sassy Girls N Curls group on Facebook (or leave a comment if you already are a fan).

- Become a fan of Sassy Girls N Curls on Twitter (or leave a comment if you already are a fan).

- Become a fan of Mommy on the Spot on Facebook (or leave a comment if you already are a fan).

- Become a fan of Mommy on the Spot on Twitter (or leave a comment if you already are a fan).

- Become a fan of this blog by either subscribing to my RSS feed or Google Friend Connect.

- Share this post on Twitter, Facebook, or any other social network site.

*Remember to leave a comment for each entry*

Gain 5 extra entries:
 Write your own blog post about this contest and be sure to add links to this post and Laura’s etsy store. Post the link of your post on Mommy on the Spot fan page.

You must live in the continental U.S. The contest will start Tuesday, December 7th and end on Saturday, December 11th midnight EST. The winner will be picked at random. I will announce the winner on Monday, December 13th.

Good luck, everyone! And have a great week!

*As stated above, these products were donated to me to review. These opinions are completely mine. Oh, yes, all mine.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wordless-ish Wednesday - The Pancake Factory

I can count on one hand how many times I have gone out to breakfast since Marie was born: twice.  We went to the Pancake Factory,this adorable, family owned restaurant near our house.  Let me tell you: it. was. an. event.  So of course I had to take pictures and blog about it.  I am also experimenting with the Droid app, Vignette.

These chocolate chip pancakes were to die for!
 Chocolate chips in the batter and sprinkled on top. 

My pecan pancakes. 
They tasted like coffee cake with pecans, syrup, powdered sugar,
and butter that almost tasted like whip cream.
Do you see that fresh whip cream
on top of those chocolate chip pancakes?!  Yummm!
Thomas looks nice and tidy here,but he
looked like a chocolate chip when he was done.

Harrington had these awesome blueberry pancakes with blueberry compote, but in the flurry of eating, I didn't take a picture.  But believe me when I say they were delicious!!

I was not compensated by the Pancake Factory for this post.  It was all me!  I am currently plotting another time to go because there were at least ten other kinds of pancakes I wanted to try.