A Grace Full Life

3.19.2015

Pasta With Cheese So Good You Need To Swear

Since I won't be publishing anything for the next week or two since I will be on "hiatus" for the next week or so, I thought I would share this a little early.
The timing of this is uncanny because of the recall of the blue box mac and cheese, I SWEAR I DID NOT PLAN THIS.
I am not THAT kind of blogger, I think you know me way too well.
I wrote this back in February all innocent like with my headache diet in full swing.
But I will say that my youngest STILL loves her Kraft Mac and Cheese over this any day.
Haters gonna hate because that's what haters do best.
But this recipe is better than any restaurant mac and cheese.
No lie.

Oh and by the way, I miss you all so much.



When my oldest daughter, Anna, was a toddler, I used to read Parents magazine.
Then I stopped when I became less of a parenting amateur because I didn't need a magazine to tell me what to do, boss me around and all.
Plus it became kind of the Real Simple of the parenting genre of magazines.
You'll know what that dig means if you read here with any regularity.

But I got a recipe from that magazine years ago when Annie was small that she loved, it was called "Les Pates".
Only it consisted of bow ties noodles, butter and Monterey jack.
But with a fancy French name.
I made it because I wanted to be all continental and fancy and French!
I wanted my child to be refined and worldly!
She loved it.
I loved it.
We inhaled it in our tiny two bedroom starter home one evening when it was a mommy and daughter night, leaving nothing left for her daddy when he got home later.
I reasoned that Les Pates must be French for "that's some good sh#$".

Disclaimer- I am sorry for all of the swearing in my posts as of late. Well not out and out swearing but a lot of hashtaggery and shenaniganery.
Basically lots and lots of #$% going on.
$&% and $&%* is getting me through winter right now so give me this until it reaches 50 degrees.
Maybe 60 degrees.
Definitely 70.

So I decided to revisit that old recipe on a really cold late February day because I was re-introducing my headache triggers back into ye olde diet and cheese was visiting my life again.



Here is all you need for the newly re-named "Les Pates" :

half a box of small shell pasta (you could use any small pasta really)
a small brick of Monterey jack cheese, shredded
4 tsp. butter (not margarine)
salt and pepper to taste


Boil the pasta and drain.
Add it to a small casserole that has been buttered so as not to stick.
Dot the pasta with the butter and place in the microwave.
Set in microwave for a minute to melt the butter.
Toss to blend the butter.
Add the cheese a little at a time and melt 30 seconds at a time until completely melted.

That is it.

It is so good, you will never go back to the box of mac and cheese again.
Although this conversation did happen with my seven year old:

Ellie- I like the orange cheese much better.
Me- its not really that great for you though.
Ellie- yeah but that's why it tastes better.
Me- touche.
Ellie- what's a touche.
Me- it's a big word for fancy mac and cheese.







 

3.18.2015

Netflix Knew I Needed A Little Kimmy In My Life. No That Wasn't A Sex Reference. You Totally Won't Get That If You Don't Watch The Show.

And now you totally need to watch the show.
If you don't have Netflix, you need to beg, borrow or NOT STEAL, just seriously break down and pay the $8.99 a month and watch this new series.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
OMG.
OMG.
There are no words.
Maybe I am playing it up too much?
Nope.
It is so good.

courtesy of Netflix

 
 
I am not good at synopses.
I would be terrible at working for movie theaters, TV guides and the like.
I have watched this show through the entire season TWICE in two weekends and I cannot give it a better review than to just say, "omg, like, wow, you guys!!!!".
I told one friend, "it's about a girl who lived in a bunker for 15 years and its got a lot of social references and you will totally like it".
I told two other friends that "it's what we would be like if we went to NYC together"
WHATTHE???

I even had a dream about the show last night.
It's invading my sleep.
In the best possible way.
Yet, I can't sell this show.
This is why I will never ever be able to get my dreams of landing a John Hughes museum off the ground.
Because things like this come out of my mouth "do you think Judd Nelson is in the White pages???" while on the Twitter.
Yes, I call it "the" Twitter.
Call me Judd.

courtesy of Netflix


But I don't need to "sell" this show, it sells itself.
It is amazing and you need it in your life.
I honestly feel like this is why Netflix was meant to come into MY life.
After a crappy winter which we are not talking about going forward any more, Kimmy has brought my happy back.
I AM UNBREAKABLE DAMMIT.
Just like the opening credits say.
Females are strong as hell.

courtesy of Netflix



Even my seven year old (who I consider pretty unbreakable for many reasons) is now hooked on this show.
I know, its probably not the best show for a first grader to watch because language and situations.
Judge away if you must but I know lots of little kids watching way worse shows so I am okay with this one.
And don't get me started on the video games little kids are playing nowadays so I think we can let this one slip.
But the opening song is probably her favorite part of the show.
Even if I do have to hum through the swear words.
By the way, she thinks they are saying "Slam it" instead of, well, you know.
So that's all good, right?
AND she has been going around saying, "I am unbreakable, right mom??!?!" ever since watching this show.
That is so many shades of amazing.

courtesy of Netflix




So get your happy on too!
Watch along with me as I head into my third viewing of season one of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt!

I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team. Meaning, for the next year, once a month I will be writing posts about how my family is using our Netflix. They provided me with a Roku and a voucher for my Netflix account.

 

3.10.2015

Donna Day 2015.

I hate talking about cancer.
Especially when it has anything to do with children.
So when I am writing a post about children who have cancer or who have died because they had cancer, I have a hard time knowing what to say.
That is it.
I don't know what to say.
I hate that.
I want to help so badly but feel like I will say something wrong or something I do say will come out the exact wrong way.
I am terrible with emotion in a really bad emotional moment.



courtesy of Sheila Quirke

I know of someone who had a child who had cancer and I didn't know what to say/do/anything.
Granted it was eons ago but I was deer in headlights about it and I regret it to this day.
The child is now grown and thankfully amazing and great and awesome.
But I also know of children who aren't so lucky.

Last summer, a former high school classmate of mine lost his daughter to brain cancer.
I hate that term.
He didn't lose her.
She died.
She died of brain cancer.
On her sixth birthday.
He and I weren't friends in high school other than maybe being in a few classes together over the years.
But here is what we did have in common: we are both parents.
The day she died, I was sitting in my living room, 400 miles away, sobbing for a little girl I didn't know beyond pictures on Facebook.


Then there is sweet little Donna.

photo courtesy of Sheila Quirke



Donna's Day was started to spread the word for the Donna's Good Things St. Baldrick's Shave event that is happening on March 28th in Chicago here.
Donna's Good Things started out as a donation from a loved one and turned into this act of love, kindness and beauty that I cannot do justice in my own words so please, PLEASE, visit the website here to read the story.
I really don't ask much of you beautiful readers here but I do ask you to please read Donna's story.
Please.





I had first heard of Donna's story through some of my Chicago blogging friends and read her journey over several days during one week.
It was one spring day that I was reading about Donna's final day on Earth while at my kitchen table as my little daughter, the same exact age that little Donna was at the time of her death, was napping.
I hadn't read it at the time it was written in 2009, much later, but that is beside the point.
I was shaking and gasping so loud that I noticed my computer shaking on the table.
I got up from the table, walked up the stairs and purposely woke my sleeping daughter.
Because I could.
And I held her.
Because I could.
Read Donna's story here.



Courtesy of Sheila Quirke
 

My connection to Donna is through Listen to Your Mother Chicago.
I had the honor of hearing Donna's mother, Sheila, speak at the Listen to Your Mother the following year.
Then, I had the honor of standing on the same stage and speaking at Listen to Your Mother, the following year.
Sheila is my Listen to Your Mother family.
We have since learned that another Chicago Listen To Your Mother family member is being affected by childhood cancer.
So this is what we are going to do, we head are going to  here to help.
First, please donate.
Anything you can give.
Please.







Courtesy of Sheila Quirke

Next?
We need to get educated.
Why is childhood cancer so poorly effing funded?
More children are lost to childhood cancer than to than to any other disease in the United States.
Staggering.
Yet, childhood cancer only receives 4% of federal funding?
That is seriously messed up.
St. Baldrick's is doing amazing things for childhood cancer research.
If you do one thing today, give up your daily coffee and head over to this page and donate today.
For more information on creating your own event head to the St. Baldrick's page here.
You can like Donna's Good Things on Facebook here.

 

3.09.2015

Stay Beautiful and NO IT'S NOT A TAYLOR SWIFT SONG, YOU DON'T OWN EVERYTHING, TAYLOR. Please Don't Sue Me.

Lately I have been feeling like shit.
Oopsies, did that slip out?
But it's true.
You all know it.
And my closest family and friends know it.
They have been amazing and supportive and I love every single one of them for it.
Even if someone has sent me a text to say hi, it has helped so don't think you have to send me a fruit basket or jelly of the month club or anything.
Honestly, just remaining my friend on Facebook through this winter is enough for me.
I have been a Debbie Downer this past November through March.
I know it, you know it and if you un-friend me, it's alright.
Really.
                                            Because even I kind of hate the sound of my voice at this point.
I am going through a mix of something in between menopause and seasonal hatred that needs to be diagnosed quickly before I buy a yacht or 70's psychedelic food truck or some tragic outfit like culottes and clogs and a bowl cut with Dumb and Dumber bangs with money I do not have.
I will no doubt end up on WGN morning news, the 9oclock hour (E channel's The Soup for those not local), if something isn't done soon.
 So thank you for hanging in there with me.
But in the mean time, please don't think I am a freak.
Well, a little bit of a freak but not a CULOTTE WEARIN' FREAK SHOW.
I am not there.
Yet.
 
This has been me since November:
 
 
My family loves me. My family loves me. My family loves me. My family loves me.

Don't get me wrong, I am a good mom and wife.
I don't sit like this all day in a comatose state, rocking back and forth, staring out the window with drool coming out of the sides of my mouth.
Only on Tuesdays.
No, I get crap done.
I make sure they get their undies folded, homework checked,  cartwheels in gymnastics classes get cheered on, their cheerleading uniforms are always clean, there is always money in their lunch accounts, the driving, the cleaning, the doing, it is all being done, sometimes even with a smile on my face.
At night, I fall into my bed with my weary but amazing husband who never complains about his wife and her smells of ben gay or her lack of oomph and we talk about our days, his long 12-14 hour days at his dealership and we pass out after sometimes even sneaking a kiss or two in.
Yes, I am by all accounts "there" but not really "there".


Over the past seven years, I have developed a friendship with two high school friends I reconnected with on Facebook:  Kari and Vikki.
Actually one of the above friends, I wasn't actually "friends" with in the small town Ohio high school we attended, more like "acquaintances" but we shared a few classes together and so we friended each other like people excitedly do on social media nowadays back in 2008 when Facebook was new to me and then went about my day.
At that time, I had a six month old baby and a seven year old little girl and I was just so excited to read about other people's lives.
Especially those who I went to high school with, those who lived far, far away, who could take me to another time and place.
Far from baby bottles, pacifiers, dirty diapers, Hannah Montana and High School Musical please and thank you.
Not that I didn't love being a mom but when you are in the thick of it, sometimes it's just too thick, if you get my drift.

It was through Facebook and then after I started my blog in 2010, that the three of us grew closer each year.
They would comment on my blog, we would write comments on each other's pictures, we would send each other funny pictures via email or recipes that we think each other would like. 
It was like having pen pals only in the digital age.
Only I knew these pen pals, I felt comfortable with them, I had grown up with them.
It was this incredible story of three girls who had once known each other but grew apart then grew back together again.

We message on Facebook continually and on text as well, with notifications that I have to mute because they are so ongoing and so continuing that my family literally laughs out loud when it DING DING DING DING'S.
"It's your KariVikki text going off" ......
They were with me when I went to my oldest daughter's high school orientation, telling them how unbelievably massive her high school was (THREE FLOORS!!!)  because I knew only they would truly understand how little I would feel walking inside of it.
Whenever I typed "OMG" on my iPad, it said "I JUST FARTED", we laughed so loud and so hard ( I swear I could actually hear them laughing from Ohio through their texts), it woke my youngest daughter who was laying next to me in bed while we were on vacation.
When we are having a bad day, we tell each other sometimes before our loved ones just because it is a nice sounding board before having to tell the world.
We are each other's cushion in a really un-cushiony world.

There is just something about the people who knew you before the world knew you.
Something about your childhood people.
The people who remember you when you were at your most vulnerable.
When you had zits, had your first really bad perm and wore Garanimals.
So these girls/women but still girls to me at times, have been that for me for a few years now.
A non-judgement zone to make me laugh/cry/laugh again and I love them more than tacos.


Fast forward to this crappy winter of 2015.
They know, as do most of my family, friends and you lovely people here, how icky this winter has been for everyone but for especially me as I have been meandering through this King O' Pain Tour 2015.
We have talked about it here and there in text but honestly I never wanted to dwell on it too much with them not to be a martyr but to literally talk about pain brought me physical pain.
For real.
I know, I sound like one of those people.
You know, those people, but it got so bad there at one point that just the word headache made my head literally , well, ache.
But they know it has been hard, they know I have been in tears, a lot.
They know I have been a mess, a hot steaming pile of mess.
So this past weekend, my Ilovethemmorethantacosfriends who both work full time jobs, have kids and dogs and responsibilities, re-arranged their lives and took vacation days from work and drove seven hours from Ohio with a car full of food to love on me.
Without me knowing.

Gulp.


They had been planning this with another person in my life who also loves on me, my husband, since NOVEMBER, to bring happy back into my life.
So on a Friday afternoon, they knocked on my garage door and there they were in all their glorious absolute beauty like two angels from Heaven.
Standing in the frigid cold ready to hug me, feed me and love me.
Two angels from Heaven. as clear as day.
This you need to know before I go any further.
That afternoon as they were traveling to Illinois, I sat on my bathroom floor and prayed through tears to God this:

I am absolutely stupid, God.
I need a billboard.
A BIG OLD BILLBOARD.
I am not a subtle sign reader.
Please forgive me for not picking up subtle signs.
I just want to be pain free and happy.
I am begging you.

I kid you not.
I prayed that exact prayer.




We sat at my dining room table, with the hometown Jones Chips and dip they brought, listening to 80's music and looked through our old Ohio yearbooks, laughed at popped collars, talked about all the people we had study hall with, had crushes on, we went to reunions with, we laughed until we cried, we ate more chips, we made comments like, WHY IN THE HELL DID WE WEAR OUR HAIR LIKE THAT???, can you believe we are almost 50??? , why don't we live closer???,  did a little 30 year high school reunion planning, should we order Chipotle?? or Big Macs??? helped Ellie with her massive amounts of first grade makeup homework...back in our day we didn't have this kind of home work....did we just say "back in our day???", we stayed up until midnight laughing, talking and I think I can speak for all of us when I say we felt like we were 18 all over again. 

It was, in a nutshell, the best Friday night I have had in months.

On Saturday, we had a house full of teenagers, we averted a slow gas leak....long story for another blog post....but let's just say that prayer up there ^^^ I mentioned earlier??
Billboard.

Thank you, God.

So Kari, Vikki, Ellie and I were pushed out of the house by the teenagers because MOMMMMMM HELLOO WE NEED OUR SPACCCE.
Ellie and I took them to one of our favorite places to eat, Portillo's (they had never been) and long story short, I had told them on the way down how when I moved here in 1989, I had wooe'd some of the boys I worked with, with my central Ohio accent.
Wooed isn't a good word.
They were smitten with my accent.
I was very loyal to my rural Ohio high school sweetheart when I moved here as an innocent 19 year old.
I never went out with any of the young people I worked with and was even lovingly called "Amish" by some.
Apparently that was very attractive to the some of the boys that I worked with out here.
Boys like a good chase, it would seem.
They would comment on my accent and apparently it was a selling point, if you get my drift.
So while we were at Portillo's one of the waiter/staff members, named Dominick, who was cleaning up the tables was chatting with my friend, Kari.
They had a lengthy conversation about lots of things and then she happened to mention she was from Ohio and he abruptly said, "Oh" and walked away.
Well Vikki and I just laughed and laughed when she retold us this after returning to the table.
Then as we were leaving to go to the bathroom, Dominick returned to our table, leaned into Vikki this time and whispered in her ear, "stay beautiful".
To say we almost peed our pants is an understatement.
And I said to Vikki, "see, the accent still does it".


On the way home we went and visited an old friend.



 Mr. John Hughes.








This you need to know about my Ohio people, family or friends: they get sh#$ done.
They come into your kitchen and just start cooking.
My mom, does this when she comes to visit.
She goes to the grocery store and just starts whipping things up.
I love that.
LOVE.
That makes me very, very happy.
Kari came with cutting boards, knives, pickle juice, every little thing she needed to make me comfort food.
While she was cooking away, we all sat in the kitchen and visited, listened to the Polish Prince (long story) and just loved on each other.
Rebecca stopped over and got to meet these ladies who she has met via Facebook and messaged with over the past year.
It was so cool seeing my two worlds come together; my adult Chicago life and my childhood, over homemade deep dish pizza in my little Illinois kitchen.
It was a moment.



Vikki got the computer ready to do some Internet stalking browsing.
I got to see the homes that Vikki and Kari live in and the roads they live on as if we were right there in Richland County, Ohio.
Even though I lived there for most of my childhood and teenage years, I do forget some of the names of the roads but after talking about them all weekend, they all came back to me like it was 1988 all over again.
We talked about the morning Vikki's grandma died in a car accident, about the moment she found out.
We talked about how long it takes Kari to get to her parents home from hers.
I soaked it all in.
The voices at the table.
We sang Bobby Vinton around the table, talked about recipes and when could we do this all over again.
And why on EARTH weren't we close friends in high school??






Kari made homemade deep dish pizza in addition to homemade pierogi pizza.
Absolutely amazing, we could have eaten all night long.
My mission is to find this woman a cooking show of her own.
Blogger friends with pull??
My friend needs her own show, cookbook, SOMETHING.
She told us cooking is her happy place and I get that completely, you can tell.
The food was absolutely amazing because she cooks from her heart.
My mom is the same way.




We planned to do the dance scene at the end of the movie but we didn't get the movie on until 9:30.
You can figure out if we were able to pull that off.
By the way, someone who will remain nameless COUGH KARI NOT ME KARI COUGH started yelling out gibberish in their sleep in the middle of the movie.
It sounded something like OHHHHHHH KELLY CLARKSON!!!
Allegedly.

The next day after an amazing breakfast made by chef Kari...
GET HER A DAMN COOKING SHOW PLEASE.





.......we set out to see the sights of Chicago with a theme: John Hughes movies.

OK I am announcing it here first: I want a John Hughes museum in Chicago.
I am seriously serious.
I need help.
Please, anyone who reads this, point me in the right direction.
This needs to happen.
HELP ME HELP MYSELF.
I have no connections but I want this so badly that I can taste it.

So if you know people, send me to them.
We need this to be a reality.
I am not just giving this lip service, I have already started a plan in motion but need some famous people and connections to help me back it so PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD IF YOU LOVE JOHN HUGHES MOVIES AND I KNOW YOU DO.
Back to the post.....

First we picked up my friend Jen (who also knew Kari and Vikki via Facebook messaging ) and we headed to our first of many locations, Jake Ryan's house in Sixteen Candles.




courtesy of loroutloud.com
Hi.
Tee hee hee.
Sigh.
Anyhoo, we hit several places on our fun day back in time.
 
 
 
 
 
I needed this day.
                                                                 We needed this day.
It was full of teenage memories, movie lines, laughter and movie quotes.
Every moment of this day, I will never forget.
A huge shout out to my husband who did all the driving but also enjoyed this day just as much as we did.
And another shout out to my amazing seven year old who tagged along as well.
Not many first graders would spend almost eight hours going to places that had no meaning to her with minimal whining.
As Vikki said, "she is my hero".
Truly.
 
Sorry blurred out my Ellie's face. It's not you. It's the creep who Google's "seven year old little girl" that I am protecting her from.

Grandad. Who also looks a ton like Bates from Downton Abbey. Creepy.
 
 
When in the city, we always try to stop in to the River Shannon to visit Grandad.
His picture is in this pub on the corner of Armitage and Lincoln.
When we go in with our children, usually it isn't too busy but on this day the pub was full.
And we got some looks.
From the yuppies of course.
Because real Irish people don't care if you bring kids into a bar.
The manager was so nice about it, of course he was Irish and made a comment about bringing his nephews in all the time.
BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT IRISH PEOPLE DO.
 
 
Showing her granddad for the first time. She recognized the name and I wanted to cry.
 
Vikki said someone made a comment about scarring her for life on the way out.
If I had heard it, I would have had no problem giving them a piece of my mind because I am pre-menopausal, in pain and part-Irish.
A bad mix.
Maybe it was a good thing I didn't hear it.
But they didn't know what we were there to do, to visit a family member.
That a great granddaughter got to read her great grandfather's name on her own for the first time that day.
And also that she didn't want to leave the bar that day as well because "this place is really really fun".
Somewhere in Heaven, her 100% Irish grandfather was beaming from ear to ear.
 
 
 
We stopped at a cool gift shop that Joan Cusack owns.
Yes, that Joan Cusack.
 
courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org
She has the coolest stuff in her store like socks that say this:
 
 
 
 
 
 That is a life lesson.  
Should have worn those socks to that bar.
 
 
And signs that say this:
DISCLAIMER:
 
There is a dirty word in the picture.
                         If you have a problem with that, leave this blog IMMEDIATELY!
You don't need that kind of negativity in your life!!!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Told ya.  
 
But seriously, why is it?
I wanted to buy this but then I would be the mom with artwork with the F bomb on it.
BUT THEN I WOULD BE THE MOM WITH ARTWORK WITH THE F BOMB ON IT!
Maybe I will go back and get it after all.
 
 
 
 
Then back to the house for more homemade food, love, laughter and just good stuff.
 
 
 
 
 
Man, I love these women.
Dominick at Portillo's ( NOT TAYLOR SWIFT) had it right.
Stay beautiful.
 
 
I will never forget the day that my two guardian angels came to my door while I was in the bathroom.
Long story.
For another day.
I have these two women in my life that I know will be in my life for the rest of my life.
It is such an easy friendship, such a relaxed friendship and such a loving friendship.
There is no jealousy, no anger, no resentment.
None of that.
There is lots of laughter, lots of fun, occasional tears and lots of love.
Lots and lots of love.
I know they will always be there for me and I will always be there for them.
They feel like what I think sisters might feel like to me.
Except we don't fight over clothes.
Or boyfriends.
Or everything.
Never mind. 
 
Maybe there was a reason we weren't best friends in high school.
Maybe we were supposed to live our lives then reconnect later on.
Come back to each other after collecting the bumps and bruises one collects along the path of life.
Sometimes there is no one like the people who were there when the path began to help lift you up off  of that path gently, to dust you off, look into your eyes and say, "it's OK, we got this."
"We got this. "
 
 
 
 
 

3.02.2015

Non-Chemical Sh@#storm Rice Krispie Treats


I wrote this post a few months ago but wanted to share it because, well, because I feel the need to take you down with me on this pain spiral journey.
By the way, I had the weekend of my life this past weekend.
A weekend that will go down as likely the weekend that saved my life.
Dramatic, yes, but I think those closest to me, read: my husband, will agree.
It made a huge difference in me.
I will spill it all out onto a computer screen by next week but right now I need to process it.
Here is some more b#$ing and moaning that you can expect from me when I am going through a life change.
I SWEAR I AM GETTING BETTER.
I swear.


So I started this self proclaimed "a$#hole diet" a few weeks ago.
I am still an a$#hole, in case you were wondering.
I actually had a fit when my youngest took her pony tail holder out of her hair the other day.
Like, I had tears in my eyes.
You have NO idea.
Cried during the least sad part of You've Got Mail, lost my sh#$ when my oldest told me that she was possibly thinking of not trying out for cheer next year, literally growled at the Windex bottle when it sprayed all over my shirt.

These past couple of week have been trying, to say the least.

So this is what I can't have: food.
Noooooo, THIS is what I can't have: soy products, MSG, caffeine, chocolate, onions, citrus, cheese, fresh baked bakery items DONUTS, chocolate, wine,  hot dogs, lunch meat, did I say chocolate?
The list goes on and on and on and it doesn't get better.
It is torrid.
I need to eliminate all of the above for two - four months then reintroduce them one by one to see which are my headache triggers.
Oh and I am avoiding medication at all costs too.
I hope I still have friends and family by the end of March.

In the effort to get pain free, I need to have things that are essential to my being and that keep me from killing off everyone in my path.
And those "things" are sweets.
I need sweets.
If sugar was on the above list, I would just go ask the doctor to put me into a coma to ride out my rebound headache/ trigger reduction.
Or ask to be put on medical marijuana.
I'm still holding out for that one

A few weeks ago, I did something I never thought I would ever do.
I made...wait for it....marshmallows!
I CAN'T STAND MYSELF!
I did!
I found the recipe on Pinterest here and made them.
It was so easy and they taste pretty good.
Not as good as the chemical sh#$storm that is store bought but good enough.



Look at how pretty they look on the whimsical blue plate?!?!
I basically ripped them out of the pan because HELLO A$#HOLE DIET but you could use cookie cutters to make them all Pinterest-y too.


So after making the homemade marshmallows, I decided that I wanted to make healthy chemical sh$#storm free rice krispie treats.
Nothing says, MMMM EAT ME, like comfort food snacks ruined by health nuts.
But I was convinced that I could do this!

So off to the store to find a chemical sh$#storm free version of rice krispie treats.



Puffed Rice is a lot better sounding than it is tasting for a reference point.
If you add a tablespoon of sugar and some fruit, I am sure it would taste better.
I was not ever born to be a healthy person, in nature.
I need sugar to exist, I don't care how bad it is for me.
I would rather shave five years off my life than go without sugar.

So I basically followed the recipe for traditional Rice Krispie treats only with my "healthier" items.

I used a couple of handfuls of my homemade marshmallows, our rice puffs, and a few tablespoons of butter.
Melted the butter and marshmallows then added the rice puffs.
The consistency was a lot less sticky than the original recipe and it felt softer, if that makes sense.
I put it in a buttered 9 x 13 pan and let it sit for a couple of hours.




I tried it later that evening and it was different.
Not too much like the original but not as gross as I thought it was going to be.
It was......pretty good!
Not delicious but really okay!
I ate a few pieces but realized that some things are just not as good as the original.
No matter how hard you try to make things healthy, sometimes its just better to eat less healthy things in moderation.
The moral- you will eat anything put in front of you when you are an a$#hole.

 

2.24.2015

Netflix Saved My Sorry Winter Sad Face With A Party And 70% Off Cupcakes

We aren't talking about how much I cannot stand winter.
We ARE talking about how Netflix saved my sanity by sending us a cool party kit to celebrate the new original special Ever After High; Spring Unsprung.
For those who don't have kids, it is a series about storybook characters such as Snow White, Mad Hatter and so on and they now have children who are in high school.
SO THEY CAN FEEL MY PAIN.
WHAT?????

So on a dreary February Saturday, we brought some sunshine, happiness and fun into our world thanks to Netflix....and 70% off cupcakes.


Yes these were 70% off a week after Valentines and they didn't even expire until March 5th!
They were very good, by the way.




Brownie bites.
70% off!
Sorry.
Something about Winter and 80 cent adorable brownie bites just made me purr.
Literally, purr.



The kit came with lots of fun things like beads, fuzzy pens, mad lib type fun forms for the girls to fill out and fun games to play.
 
 

When my daughter's friends came in the house, they were so excited.
How much fun on a middle of winter day to just have an excuse to watch Netflix, eat candy, cupcakes and play with your friends for no reason at all?
It's like an episode of Seinfeld.
                                                          For first and second graders.
               
 
 
 




Ella drew some Ever After artwork on the chalkboard wall for her friends.
 
 

Party time means twinkling lights, of course.




Thanks to Netflix for letting me get to splurge and finally get the good juice.
My kids looked at me like they didn't even know who I was.
Mom what is ORGANIC juice?
This MUST be what Gwyneth Paltrow feels like.




There's just something about pink and popcorn.



You're awesome too.




I didn't have to organize any of the fun, they just gathered around the table in between handfuls of popcorn, episodes of Ever After and sliding juice boxes down the railings of the stair case....trust me, that wasn't approved of......

 


My friend helped me with the folding of some of the paper crafts because I have no paper folding abilities.
Origami is not my friend.
Nor is any ami for that matter.



Friends.


Sign of a great party?




A mess at the end.


Thank you so much to Netflix for providing an amazing kit to these girls on a cold and snowy February Saturday afternoon that they soon won't forget.
Head over here with your little one to check out Ever After High today.



I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team. Meaning, for the next year, once a month I will be writing posts about how my family is using our Netflix. They provided me with a Roku and a voucher for my Netflix account.

 

2.20.2015

How I Bogarted The Big Cozy Green Chair

When I find a cool new thing or something that I like, I immediately jump all over it.
I felt that way when I stumbled upon a little company called Raygun a few years ago.
You can read my love letter to them here.
I should really offer a disclaimer to companies that I want to work with, something like:

Dear Madam/Sir-
I am not at all a professional.
I like to write in short sentences.
I will somehow work in middle school humor somewhere in the body of the review and I am sure I will misspell something within the product post.
You are so welcome.

BUT and big BUT....see middle school humor..... I will love the heck out of your product and by the end of my post my reader will too.

I like to create a loving environment here at A Grace Full Life.
One that oozes with charm, real life feel, one where you can kick off your shoes, feel at home and no one judges you for that sock with the hole in it.
I see it, and its OK.
I have one too.
See?
No judging here.

I was on Facebook a few weeks ago and I saw this cool bean bag- like chair in someone's house and a friend of a friend mentioned it was this thing called a "yogibo" like oh yeah it's a yogibo like that's what you have lying around in your home.
I had never heard of a "yogibo" so I immediately went on Google because I Google everything.
See here for evidence if you are new to my blog.
I spent an hour on the "yogibo" site looking at all the chairs.
Well not an hour, maybe like a half hour because short attention span but I could have spent an hour if I had a longer attention span because all of the pretty soft cozy chairs!
In all of the pretty colors!


photo courtesy of yogibo
Pillows!




photo courtesy of yogibo




Giant beanbags!


photo courtesy of yogibo
Giant beanbag animals!


They have cool neck wraps, hammocks, home d├ęcor, lots of neat stuff.
Head to the website to check everything out.

So I sent them an email after I saw the Facebook picture immediately because I read that the bean bags are great for sensory integration and that Occupational Therapists were raving about them.
I don't like to talk much about it on this forum but those who read here regularly know that my youngest daughter has ADHD and we are weeding through what works for her.
I had a moment once I read this on the website, like I was brought here to see this from Facebook because the person who had the "yogibo" bean bag on Facebook wasn't a friend of mine.
I saw the post because a friend of mine commented on her friend's picture.
So it was fate.

I was so excited, really thinking Ellie was going to love this new piece of furniture for our home!
Two weeks in and she does use it for homework here and there and loves it but if I am being real and honest, she mostly uses it to practice her "gymnastic moves" when she isn't using it for this:



Sigh.



 I am not ashamed to admit that it is mostly used for this when she is at school.....



I do all of my writing in this cozy green chair.
It has been discovered that my headaches are in part due to my writing.
Well, my writing situation.
I need to sit differently when I do my writing.
So apparently the cozy green chair is my therapeutic chair as well.

It is so therapeutic that there are days that I have trouble, well......



....getting out of said chair.


Isn't it a beaut??

It is so damn comfortable that you have to literally roll yourself out onto the floor to get out of the chair.
I had to actually put myself into a virtual time out of the chair.
I haven't sat in the chair in four days because if I do, I won't ever get out.
I am the WORLD'S WORST PRODUCT SALESPERSON.
Don't worry, I will get back in but I just needed a break.
But I have four articles/posts to write in the next week, so I have me a date with that green chair this upcoming weekend.
That and subzero end of February temperatures makes a good combo.


The best thing about this beanbag is that it is big.
Really, really big.
In fact, when propped up against the wall, it looks like there is a very large green human being standing up against the wall.
I almost pooped in my pants, sorry, shat in my pantaloons....need to make it more professional with it being a product review and all....on two occasion's in the past two weeks when walking into my family room  because I thought there was a big green man standing there waiting to attack me.
You can order it smaller though, they have lots of sizes to choose from so maybe order a smaller size.
The size they sent me was the max, you could always choose the midi if you wanted a smaller size as they are so damn comfortable and I know you want one.
You really want one.

The only problem we have with ours is that it stains really easily.
Or maybe that's just our family.
We stain really easily.
But the cover comes off to wash BUT and BIG but here....hee hee never gets old....the cover was a huge pain to put back on.
So keep that in mind.
But it is so comfortable that I am willing to sit in my own swaller and stain to be in my big green comfy chair.

My youngest and I do sit in this together and talk, snuggle, laugh and watch television.
We read, get under the covers, play with the iPad, make funny videos and play educational apps in this chair.
I even convinced my teenager to snuggle into it with me one evening.
I think it's the power of the color green or maybe its the stains, or maybe it's because it's winter, I don't know.
All I know is it's good and I don't want it to stop.
Probably because we can't get out of the chair.
Send help if you don't hear from us in a week.

If you want a chair of your own AND I KNOW YOU DO, use the coupon code GRACEFULL when you shop at the online store for an additional 10% off of your purchase! Go to the online store here to take a look around and see all the fun items they have to offer.




I contacted yogibo and offered to write a review in exchange for product.
I was not compensated to write the review and the above is my own opinion.

 
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