Wednesday, February 28, 2007

WFMW: Affordable Stainless Steel Cookware by All Clad

I'm almost embarrassed to admit that this is one of my WFMW tips ... because it's so stinking embarrassing to admit the price I paid for this, but I absolutely love it so much... and I paid much, MUCH less than the top of the line option (which is what I really, REALLY wanted) so at the risk of looking like a kitchen snob, here is my tip on Stainless Cookware...

I love to cook. LOO-HUUV it. Gourmet cooking can be considered my hobby, and I love to have beautiful serving dishes (my obsession), and the best cookware possible. Notice I said "possible," because I would LOVE to be able to own a set of All-Clad stainless steel cookware, but it's soooo PROHIBITIVELY expensive.

So, I started searching for a suitable, and some-what affordable option, and found a set that I absolutely fell in love with. It had everything I was looking for: stainless steel, heavy, copper layer, glass lids, decent price. AND ... it's made by All-Clad -- and before I even tell you the name of the set, you must remember that ALL-CLAD makes it -- not the chef that designed it, because frankly, I don't care for him. Anyway ... here it is ...

Emeril Cookware (Emirilware) by All-Clad. Emerilware stainless steel cookware with copper core was designed by Emeril Lagasse and All-Clad, and is manufactured by All-Clad. The fact that it carries the All-Clad name was enough to convince me, but as I did some on-line research, I discovered that the Emerilware Stainless Steel Cookware actually has an excellent reputation!

There is a slight difference in the construction, however, as the Emerilware doesn't have the thick and heavy walls all the way up, but that was just fine with me ... a "wannabeprofessional." The pots and pans are made of a high-performance, heavy-gauge, 18/10 stainless steel polished to a mirror finish outside with a satin finish inside to conceal utensil marks. To distribute heat uniformly and maintain it, there are thick aluminum disks on the bottoms covered in stainless steel so the cookware works on any stove top, including induction. The cast-stainless-steel handles display Emeril's signature (which was NOT a selling point for me), and are riveted for strength, have thumb rests, stay cool on the stove top, and won't be harmed by an oven's highest heat. The pot and pans' lips flare to facilitate dripless pouring, and the lids are made of tempered glass, which allow cooking to be monitored without releasing heat. Stainless-steel bands around their edges prevent chipping and ensure a tight fit. The cookware carries a lifetime warranty against defects.

I purchased the 10-piece set for $199 -- and, I got an additional 20% discount for opening a credit card at the department store I purchased it at. Now, I didn't pay the full $200 bucks myself -- my in-laws asked what we wanted for Christmas, and we told them we wanted money towards our stainless steel cookware. So, they gave us half of what it cost us! And, just so you have a point of reference, an All-Clad 10-piece set with copper core can cost $1199.99 -- yes -- over A THOUSAND BUCKS -- that's how good it is. So for them to make this set and offer it at $200 bucks makes it a pretty good deal, and a first step towards the stuff the pros use. (Go read the All-Clad Story)

Finally -- I absolutely LOVE my set. It cooks differently than non-stick, or the thin stainless, it heats up faster on lower heat settings, and it cleans up beautifully ... even stuck-on stuff!

For all you foodies that love to cook -- you'll understand my love for this cookware. I hope this helps anyone trying to make a decision to purchase stainless steel cookware but is struggling with the price! For the money, it's a great investment, and a stepping stone towards the much more expensive stuff!!!

For more tips, go check out Works For Me Wednesday, hosted by Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer

Monday, February 26, 2007

Typepad Commenting - Can't Do It!!!

Can anyone please explain to me why I can't post ANY comments on ANY Typepad blogs? NONE!!!

I'm going absolutely berserk with can't-post-anxiety-disorder.

To all my Typepad friends, I'm reading you ... I promise ... I JUST CAN'T POST A COMMENT.

And, for what it's worth... I've tried to reboot, it doesn't work.

I think it's a Typepad problem.

Who ever said Typepad is perfect? They were wrong. (And, not in a Fonzi way, either -- in a flat-out 'I'm wrong' way.)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday Food Fun with Straw and Hay

Each Wednesday night at church, we have what's called "Dinner for a Dollar." And everyone takes a turn cooking for about 20 or so people. It's a lot of fun, and you get to try out new stuff!

Well, this past Wednesday, my Trendy Friend from church made dinner for all of us, and it was easy, and deeelish! It was called Straw and Hay, and even the kids loved it. My friend said she got the idea from a blog ... A BLOG!!! Yes, folks ... your ideas are being implemented. Imagine that?!?!? I'll share the recipe with you ... right after this ...

Here are some excellent blog resources for you:

Works for Me Wednesday: Each Wednesday, Shannon from Rocks in my Dryer hosts Works for Me Wednesday, and let me tell you, this little lady has quite a turn-out! In fact, this is one of THE MOST wildly successful weekly editions that I have seen -- ever. Tons and tons (thousands, probably) of tips, tidbits, recipes, menus, etc. have been shared through this weekly edition! And ... she has them all in one neat place, linked by Mister Linky. What could be better? Check it out for some great tips, menus, and recipes.

Menu Plan Monday: Each Monday, Laura from I'm an Organizing Junkie hosts Menu Plan Monday, where women from all over share their menu plans and often, their recipes.

Slow Cooking Thursday: Sandra from The Diary of a SAHM hosts Slow Cooking Thursday, and has links to dozens of recipes for the crock pot ... a great place to go for ideas if you're a busy mom (and really, who isn't?)

Full Bellies, Happy Kids: Stay at Home Mom's Food Blog loaded with recipes, menus, and tips.

Everyday Eats: Jules from Everyday Mommy will occasionally post some of her recipes along with cool tips.

Okay -- now onto the recipe. Hay and Straw is the name of it, and this dish is a cross between a Fettuccine Alfredo and a Pasta Carbonara. It uses ham instead of panceta, and it doesn't use raw eggs, so it's much "safer" than a traditional Carbonara -- especially for children. It reminds me of a Fettuccine Alfredo my mom and grandmother used to make for me that had ham in it.

Anyway, my Trendy Friend told me she found the recipe on Sandra's food blog, but I looked and couldn't find the same recipe, but when I Googled it, I found this one, and it looked very similar to what I saw her do.

A simple version of Hay and Straw -- add it to your Menu Plan for next week!

1 (16-oz.) pkg. linguine
1 T. butter or margarine
2 c. julienned fully cooked ham
3 c. frozen sweet peas, thawed
1½ c. shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp. garlic powder
½ c. heavy cream
Salt and black pepper to taste

Cook linguine according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet and saute ham for three minutes. Add peas and heat through. Drain linguine, transfer to a large serving dish and toss with ham and pea mixture. In a sauce pan, combine Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and cream. Add salt and pepper; adjust seasoning to taste. Toss with pasta mixture. Serve immediately. Yields 8 servings.

Good job, Trendy Friend!!! Good job.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Shower Misery

As usual ... I let things "pile" until I explode ... and I've reached that point. So now, I will blog about what's bothering me, and I'll open the lines up for advice from my dear friends and fellow bloggers.

I hate cleaning bathrooms. HAAATE it. Okay, not so much bathrooms, but shower stalls with glass doors. And, I've let it go so long that it is Naaas---teee. As in, "Honey, what was that moving in the corner of the shower?" Okay, maybe not that nasty, but ever so close. I have tried everything, and I mean that literally. So, I'm tossing it out to you ... what works best on removing mold and mildew from a ceramic tiled shower stall (including the grout), and what works best on removing the soap scum buildup on the glass shower doors? And, while we're here, what's the best way to remove whatever is hanging out in the track that those glass doors are supposed to glide along? I'm not hung up on natural stuff, and I don't care if it's the strongest, paint peeling chemical on earth -- I just want it to work, and work fast. Without a whole lot of scrubbing.

That's it! My dilemma of the week. I'll carefully peruse all of your Godly and wise advice and try the best offered solutions.

So ... make sure your solution includes chocolate. Oh, never mind!

Works For Me Wednesday -- A Must Have Magazine

Thanks to Shannon from Rocks in My Dryer for hosting this awesome weekly edition of Works for Me Wednesday (go check out other great ideas)! I have fallen in love with a MUST-HAVE Magazine, and I want to share it with anyone that's basically been living under a rock -- like me. Actually, I'm not even sure HOW I got this subscription, but it's one that I can't live without. I know I didn't go "looking for it," so I'm thinking it came to me either as a gift from someone wonderful, or as an add-on to another subscription I might have.

It is the Family Fun Magazine, and it's chock full of fun ideas, crafts, stories, family traditions, recipes, trip ideas, and general Mom knowledge. Right now, they are offering 10 issues for only $10 -- let's face it, girls ... that's TWO maybe THREE Venti Cinnamon Dolce Lattes at Starbucks. Know how I know? 'Cause I just got one yesterday for $4.85!

So, what are you waiting for? Go now, preview the magazine on line here: Family Fun Magazine and add it to your arsenal. I promise -- you won't be disappointed, you won't regret it, and you'll be thanking me silently under your breath (and let's hope that's ALL you're doing to me silently under your breath!). When you're ready to fulfill your Homeroom/Classroom Mom duties and come up with a cool treat for a St. Patty's day party, you can whip your magazine out and get cool ideas like these Clover Cupcakes (all their recipes and craft ideas are on their web site, too)!

Which leads me to ... the main Family Fun website, which you can visit for free whenever your kid comes to you and says, "Mom, I'm bored..." and you will find a PLETHORA of craft ideas, recipes, etc. and you'll be able to sit the kids down for a fun craft like this Wee Leprechaun idea, and before you know it, you'll be SuperMom in a single bound! And really ... who doesn't enjoy wearing a cape every now and then?

And just in case you're wondering if the magazine is appropriate for your child's age: My son is only 16 months old, and many of the ideas I've seen have been age appropriate for him. My beautiful niece is turning 11 on Saturday, and my sister-in-law made the most adorable Valentines Day cards with her from the ideas provided in the February magazine -- so once again -- age appropriate!

So ... here's the deal ... if you already subscribe to this magazine, please leave a note in the comments section and tell us if you love it or hate it. If you don't subscribe to this magazine, then go check it out. How wrong can you go for $10?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Pied Piper

Have you ever wondered what it must have felt like to have been the Pied Piper in the Brothers Grimm folk tale? Granted, the Pied Piper translates to The Rat catcher, and honestly, it's not the prettiest story by far. If I understand correctly, and seriously, 1842 language is NOT my forte, the town of Hamelin was over run with rats. The town Mayor offered a certain amount of money to this Pied Piper to catch the rats and kill them. Then, once he saw that the rats were drowned, he reneged on the agreed-upon amount. In order to extract revenge, the Pied Piper played his pipe again while the town was in church, this time attracting the children of Hamelin. The town's boys and girls were lured behind the melodic tune of the Pied Piper's pipe, and disappeared for ever.


But now-a-days, many of us refer to someone as a "pied-piper" when they have a lot of people following them, or if they have a lot of friends that follow them, or if they are good with children, or even ... "it's time to pay the Pied Piper."

I know, I know ... you're wondering what the point is. I'm getting there. For years, I've been praying for God to send unsaved friends my way. Yup -- you read right. Unsaved. Now, don't get me wrong ... I have many, many SAVED friends, and I love them to death. They all add to my life in a rich, complex, and layered way. But the problem is that I can't really witness to them, now can I?

Well, something happened at work this past few weeks that opened my eyes to how many unsaved friends I now have! Not just acquaintances ... but true friends that I care about, and want to see them saved! And the "thing" that happened at work made me realize not only how much they respect me and care for me, but how much influence my attitudes, reactions, and words have in their lives.

WOW! It was a tremendous realization on my part. Did you catch what I said? I have
influence in someones life! Someone that's not saved! They actually wait and watch to see how I react to certain situations, and base their own reactions according to mine! This "thing" that happened actually led me to share about God's grace, and WHY I feel it's important for me to share it with others!

So, my long time prayer of finding unsaved friends has come to fruition, and I'm now working on and praying for at LEAST 7 people. SEVEN! Glory to God. And really, they're just a Walk Across the Room ... literally!

So, as the Pied Piper did in his folk tale, I'm hoping I can lead my friends to the feet of the Father.

How exciting is THAT?!? (Can you tell I live an "exclamation point life?")

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19-20a

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Go Red In February ... It's For Your Heart Health!

There are many blogs out there that highlight women's health issues ... and for that, I applaud them.

For instance, my friend HolyMama! hosts the HolyMama's Club 17 -- where each month, on the 17th, she encourages women to take a moment to check in and report that they have done a Breast-Self-Exam (BSE) sometime since the last check in from the previous month's 17th. She brings awareness to a deadly battle women face to the forefront, and encourages women to be proactive. I encourage each one of you to go check out the links HolyMama! has provided for us so that we can become more aware, and yes, more empowered. MEN ... that means you, too, because men -- you LOVE your woman, right??? And you need to encourage her to do her monthly BSE.

Thank you, HolyMama!, for your crusade to bring awareness to each of us, and to encourage us and empower us to DO SOMETHING against this awful disease ... one breast at a time.

Moving on...

February is Heart Awareness Month. Yup ... All month long. And while many women think that breast cancer is the number one killer among women ... it is not. Heart Disease is, and ONE in EVERY THREE women get heart disease. ONE! in every THREE! Look around you ladies ... it could be you. It could be me. But it won't be, if we take action.

The American Heart Association has a website called GO RED FOR WOMEN! I encourage you to go to this website and snoop around. They have so much information specifically for women, and I can't fit it all in this one, lone post ... but I will post this ... the one, most important thing you can know and do to raise your awareness level up to "RED" when it comes to having a healthier heart: "Know Your Numbers" (the numbers that you need to know and understand the most when it comes to a healthy heart are listed at the end of this post for your convenience).

As women, we have a tremendous responsibility that rests on our shoulders... being there for our loved ones: husband; children; parents; brothers; sisters; friends; pets; co-workers. People depend on us to be a support to them, to help them, to encourage them, to BE there for them ... so, do yourself a favor, and become AWARE. Become EMPOWERED. Become HEART HEALTHY. And ... don't stop with yourself, but pass the gift along to your family, as well. Cook healthy for them and encourage healthy choices in snacks and exercise. You are the role model they are all looking up to.

So ladies ... to paraphrase the "Go Red" website: "...appreciate your health, your life and your loved ones. If women make and keep a promise to be heart-healthy, we can wipe out heart disease."

Factor What Your Goal Should Be

Blood Pressure: Normal - less than 120 over less than 80 (120/80)
Total Cholesterol: Less than 200 mg/dl
LDL ("Bad") Cholesterol: Less than 100 mg/dL - Optimal; 100 to 129 mg/dL - Near Optimal/Above Optimal; 130 to 159 mg/dL - Borderline High; 160 to 189 mg/dL - High
190 mg/dL and above - Very High
HDL (“Good”) Cholesterol: 50 mg/dL or higher
Fasting Glucose: under 100 mg/dL
Body Mass Index (BMI): under 25
Waist Circumference: under 35
Exercise: Minimum of 30 minutes most days, if not all days of the week

As we approach Valentine's Day ...

Won't you join me and ... start now?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Be My Valentine ... Won't Ya?

Surprise, surprise!!! We have a snow storm a'comin'!!!

So, if you're planning on being stuck in the house with your kids (today, tomorrow or Wednesday), why don't you run out real quick, grab some supplies, and make some home-made Valentine's Day Cards? In fact, you probably have many of the supplies already on hand ... It's not too late, and the Family Fun web site has a gazillion ideas ... go check them out!

In the mean time, here are a few pictures of some of their ideas ... you know ... to spark your curiosity! (all of these pictures are "borrowed" from the Family Fun website)

Butterfly Valentine Card

Camo Communique

Finger Puppet

Gum Guys

Jolly Lollies

Love Bug -- my niece made this one for Hunter, and it turned out GREAT! So cute!!!

Sweet Shovel

Friday, February 09, 2007

A special Shout Out ...

Happy Birthday to you --
Happy Birthday to you --
Happy Birthday Antique Mommy --
Happy Birthday to yooooooou!

Happy Birthday, Antique Mommy!

Sigh ... It's not often you turn 29 ... again ... well, okay. Maybe it is.

So ...WHOOP IT UP, I say!!!

Hop on over and give her a special greeting today!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

As His Mercy Falls...

I hate to keep dragging out my sad feelings here on this blog, and I know this song has been shared ad nauseam ... but ... I heard it on the way to work today, and it just spoke straight to my heart, and I hope that if anyone out there reading my blog is also going through a difficult storm in your life, that you take these words to heart ... as a comforting balm of mercy from heaven raining down on you. In the mean time, I will continue to raise my hands and praise the God who gives, and takes away -- because I know he is with me, and with you, too.

I'll Praise You In The Storm
Casting Crowns

I was sure by now that You would have reached down and wiped our tears away, stepped in and saved the day, but once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining … As the thunder rolls, I barely hear Your whisper through the rain, “I’m with you.” And as You mercy falls, I raise my hands and praise the God who gives, and takes away --

I'll praise You in this storm, and I will lift my hands, for You are who You are, no matter where I am. Every tear I've cried, You hold in Your hand, you never left my side, and though my heart is torn, I will praise You in this storm.

I remember when I stumbled in the wind. You heard my cry. You raised me up again. My strength is almost gone, how can I carry on, if I can't find You? As the thunder rolls, I barely hear You whisper through the rain, "I’m with you." And as Your mercy falls, I raise my hands and praise the God who gives, and takes away.

I lift my eyes unto the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.

Thank you all for your special words of kindness, phone calls, cards, and especially for your prayers. My heart is hurting, but each day, it will become easier and easier to work through this. Special blessings to each of you!

To my family and church family, thank you for your prayers, love, support, understanding, and special comments some of you've left ... while others may not know who you are, I do, and I so appreciate it!

"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another." John 1:16

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Kisses of Sunshine's Mission Statement

Come and feel a welcome embrace, taste the love of the Lord, and leave encouraged and just a wee bit happier -- after all: "...weeping may remain for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Psalm 30:50b

I am a a child of God, loving wife, adoring mom, recovering infertile, endearing friend, and encourager at heart ... My goal is to bringing a little humor, a lot of encouragement, tremendous sympathy, and God's shining love into the life of an unsuspecting person!

It is no more.

Sometimes I wish I could take back what I say. Like my last post.

I just found out yesterday that we lost the baby. We went in for a third sonogram, and we saw nothing. Just last week we saw a baby with a heartbeat, but yesterday, nothing. The blood work came back with levels at 140. Not 3 gazillion, as it should have been.

It was a very difficult day for me. One filled with a variety of emotions, leading to a roller coaster ride of tears, heartbreak, love, laughter, sorrow. Tears, heartbreak and sorrow for the loss of this life that was once in me, and love and laughter for my son, who is such a blessed distraction right now.

Last week, I went to the doctor for a sonogram. I was spotting very lightly (which had started only that morning), but we saw the sac, the baby, the heart beat. The heart beat. It filled my heart with such joy and comfort. And within one hour, I started to bleed very heavily, with pain. I called my husband in a panic. Then my doctor, who asked me to come back in for another sonogram. We saw what appeared to be a tear ... in the placenta, I think. But we also saw the sac, the baby, and again, the heart beat. My fears were calmed. I was placed on bed rest and told not to worry, because women bleed all the time during pregnancy. Our church and family began sending up prayers. I made another appointment for yesterday.

Just this weekend, we had decided on names for the baby.

If it was a boy, he would be Preston Thomas. Actually, we were still working on the middle name, because Thomas is Hunter's middle name, but it's my dad's too, and we love it, and would have used it again. Preston means "dweller at the church" and Thomas was one of the 12 apostles known as "doubting Thomas" and had an unusual mixture of pessimism and zealous faith. Preston was also my husband's grandfather's name. Very southern, and very strong, too. We love it. And, although my husband's grandfather passed away while he was very young, we have heard many stories of how they were very, very close.

If it was a girl, she would have been Abigail. We were still deciding on her middle name, too ... but were leaning strongly towards Abigail Grace. The Hebrew meaning of Abigail is "A Father's joy." Abigail was also King David's 3rd wife, his most beloved, and most beautiful wife. And Grace means "favor, blessing. A virtue name referring to God's grace." My sister-in-law suggested that we could nick-name her Abbie-Grace, and I fell in love with it.

Each time I would sleep, I would dream of our two kids playing in the back yard, climbing trees, throwing the foot ball or kicking a soccer ball, playing red rover, and red light green light, playing tricks on each other, and hiding from each other.

Yesterday, though, those dreams ended. I felt such a swell of emotion and sorrow because my son may never know what its like to have a sibling that you can love so much, yet fight and bicker with, and turn around and beat up the person that dares to make fun of them. Not that I would encourage violence ... but ... well, you know.

I spent the morning and early afternoon crying my broken heart out, not wanting to talk to anyone, or see anyone other than my husband. In fact, not wanting to be more than an arms-length away from him. Then, after my in-laws dropped Hunter off from day care, I spent the afternoon and early evening laughing at his antics, his goofy behavior, his dancing and frolicking around and gesturing wildly with his arms while babbling as if he had something important to say and we needed to hear it. He eased the hurt in my heart, and Jesus affirmed in my heart what a miracle this precious little boy really is to us. I fell even more in love with him, if that's possible.

And late at night, once everyone fell asleep, I again found myself crying my heart out, thinking of what could have been. My husband woke up and tried to comfort me, but each time I closed my eyes, all I saw was the sonogram monitor with nothing on it. No sac. No baby. No heart beat. I finally went into the other room so I could read and wait until I was so exhausted that my eyes barely held open on their own, and as I walked back to my bed, I prayed that God would grant me a dreamless night. He did. But very early this morning, after my husband left to go to work, I found myself crying again. Even in my own pain, I can not fathom the pain a parent feels when they loose a child they have held in their arms, one they have nursed, played with, laughed with, and made plans for. My heart is filled with pain for each one of you.

I praise God for a strong, Godly husband. He loves me, he loves Hunter, and he is fiercely protective. I know he is hurting, too, but despite the pain I saw in his eyes yesterday, he did all he could to comfort me, and to protect me and just "be there" for me. He is my knight in shining armor!

I know in my heart that our child is in heaven, and that our Father has welcomed him or her into his loving arms, and watches over him or her as they play with their other brothers and sisters that have gone to heaven. But, it hurts, because I saw the heart beat. I connected. It was not "clinical," but rather, it was real. And I wanted that child in my own arms. But Christ knows the plans he has for our family. Plans to prosper us, and not harm us. Plans to give us hope and a future. So for now, as I muddle my way through this place I'm in, I turn my heart to Christ, with the full knowledge that he will see me through, he will heal my heart, and I will move on. He has the blueprint plan for our little family in the palm of his hands. He is all knowing, gracious, and loving. He is the balm to my brokenness, the soother of my sad soul. He will bring me joy and grace once again. He will. He is. And that's what I hold onto. Him.

He will carry me through.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

It's Me to a Tee!

I'm at home, in bed, recouping from a slight emergency (that I'll share about soon) ... so, you probably wont hear from me until next week ... but in the mean time, I'll leave you with this ... let's just see how clever y'all really are!

All of the following terms describe me beautifully:

  • In the pudding club
  • Up the Duff
  • Up the Spout
  • Up the Stump
  • Wahine Hapai

I'm certain that if you're a military spouse, and have traveled the globe, then you'll probably understand these slang terms!! And if you do, feel free to share your translations with everyone!

Have a glorious weekend!