Saturday, November 29, 2008

Weekend Winners: Sex and Chocolate

The key to the Cinderella story is not the glass slippers. Or the evil step mother. Or the talking mice. The key is the Fairy Godmother. Because she waves her magic wand. Sings a little bibbity-bobbidi-boo. And the transformation happens. The pumpkin becomes a coach. The mice horses. Or a footman. And Cinderella herself becomes a glamour girl. All ready to catch the attentions of the prince. And live her happily every after.

And did you know that I have my very own Fairy Blogmother? She lives inside my computer. She waves her magic wand over my blog and I go from this:

to this:

And then a few months later, she waved her wand again...and made a few adjustments...and I got my current look.

She did my daughter's blog.

And it went from this:

to this:


I love the favicon she created (it's that pretty sun up in your URL bar). Love the "bidness" cards she made for me.

And now. I am ready to share her magic. And our winner of the favicon, bidness cards, and Office Max Gift card is: Michelle (AKA Heather's sister) at Tales from the Lunchroom. Congrats!! (Email me your address so I can send your gift card and hook you up with the Fairy Blogmother herself!)

Now this week's prize.

A few months ago I hosted a My Favorite things swap. And I was talking with Shannon. And asked what she was sending her partner. And she told me about this devine dessert. That I had never tried. Because I really didn't realize what it was. So, I felt compelled to try it. Since it was one of her favorite things. Oh my. Devine is a great word for them.

What are they? Betty Crocker Warm Delights. Heaven. In a box. It is so simple. You add a little water. Squeeze out a little chocolate. Or caramel. You could probably add some nuts if that is your thing. And stick it in the microwave. Yep. The microwave. And in just over a minute. You have a warm. Delicious cake. That no one else in your family will know that you made. Except it does make your kitchen smell good. But you can eat it before mauraders arrive. Hide the evidence under some papers in your trash can. And plead ignorance.

And what goes with some Heaven in a box? How about a book? A delicious book series. That makes you feel all warm inside. For lots of different reasons. Ahem.

It's my favorite series. My friend Jeanine donated these for our give away this week. The first one - Outlander is from a library. It's well loved. And well read. But it's hardback. With a really cool cover.

And the others that are included: Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, and even the Outlandish Companion. All are hardbacks. Several are first editions. And all make a great companion to some warm delights on a cold winter's day. And even if you have read them. Or have them on your shelves - you might not have the hardback version. might want to enter because you could actually get a pretty penny for these if you put them on ebay.

To summarize: this week's winner will receive 9 boxes of Betty Crocker Warm Delights. And the first five books in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Plus the Outlandish Companion. I am going to need a big box. Worth playing for?

This is what you need to do:

1. Post a comment here. Tell me about your favorite book series. Do you like historical fiction? Time travel books? Romance?

2. For another entry...follow me. Only seven more to make it to 160! Do you think I can crack 200 before we are all said and done?? If you already follow me, you also get an extra entry.

3. Blog about this week's contest.

4. When you comment you get an entry. When you follow, come back and leave another comment saying you follow me. When you post about it...come back and leave a comment saying you did it. Then I can truly use random number generator and I won't have to type in all those names!

5. Contest ends Friday at midnight. Winners have one week to email me to claim prizes. All unclaimed prizes will be added back into the pot. Winner will be announced next Saturday. Along with the week six prizes!

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Theme song: Sex and Candy - Marcy Playground.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Follies

I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Spending time with people you love. And remembering all the blessings that we do have.

And now. It's time to settle into our tryptophan addled minds. And get back to the business of the Friday Follies:

Did you stay home for Thanksgiving or travel?

Were you a host or a guest?

Favorite food you had yesterday?

Was there an item served that you didn't even put on your plate?

Did you make any recipe that you found on a blog?

Shop on Black Friday or not?

When do you put up your Christmas decorations?

Most outlandish request from your kids for Christmas this year?

What is one item from your wish list?

What is one thing you are getting for your spouse this year? (maybe you'll give someone an idea!)

Don't forget that today is the last day to enter the contest. Be sure to come back tomorrow for our next round of weekend winners!

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Theme song: Dido - Thank-you - for all our blessings. And Pearl Jam - Black. As the retailers would like to thank YOU in advance for doing your part to help the economy...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wordy Wednesday: a question of great importance

I have been dying my hair for what seems like decades. Those first grays showed up when I was in high school. High School! I have run the gamut on trying to find the perfect hair dye. That looks natural. And doesn't bust my budget. (Natural Instincts hazelnut)

And then there is my husband. Who looks so young. Really young. Like a frat boy. But actually. He's older than me. And it wasn't until a few years ago that he actually got any gray hair at all. It's just so unfair.

But...there has been a bonus. He used to stop shaving on the weekends. And he'd be rather scruffy. And pointy. And bristly. But then. When those few grays showed up. They showed up on his faced. Not so much on the top of his head. And my husband for the very first time. Showed that he had some vanity. Because now he shaves. Daily.

Except that last year. At Thanksgiving. He stopped shaving during the vacation. I guess his vanity meter didn't go up because he didn't leave the house. Football. 'Nuff said.

And by the end of the weekend. I had changed my mind about wanting him clean shaven. He looked pretty sexy. I liked the scruffy look. Except. He went back to work. And immediately one of his co-workers asked "So...did you lose a bet?" And then he shaved.

You all know that I LOVE to sprinkle in some eye candy into my posts. It's one of my trademarks. Hallmarks. Are there any other marks?

And when I think about the eye candy. That I typically sprinkle. They are all kinda scruffy.

There's Liev Schrieber with his stubble.

Eric Dane with his goatee.

Josh Holloway.

Clive Owen has that smidge more than 5 o'clock shadow.

And Hugh Jackman. May we have a moment of silence? And his beard.

So...this got me to thinking. Pondering. Contemplating. And I have a question for you. Of the greatest importance. What do you think? What do you like? Do you like clean shaven? A goatee? Soul patch? Beard? Or maybe for you. The mustache is where it's at. Or do you have a whole different set of rules. One that is okay for your husband. Boyfriend. Whatever. And another that is okay for your "free pass?"

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Theme song: ZZ Top - Sharp Dressed Man. Because. Ummm...have you seen them?

And I must continue to pimp my contest. For a favicon. And some Mommy bidness cards. Cause I know you want to win. Click here to check it out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gimme an "O"

I love memes. They are my salvation on days like today. Or most days really. Because I always struggle to find a blog topic. I am not like my daughter. Who can be inspired by anything. Including a walk to the mailbox.

And then last week, I found a great one over at Aubrey's blog. She made a list of ten of her favorite things. But there was a twist. She was assigned the letter "I" for her list. And I was so impressed that she came up with 10 "I" words. But my favorite - ice from Sonic. Oh how I love my Sonic pellet ice. Why can't my Frigidaire make pellet ice?

Anyway...I told Audrey to sign me up. And send me a letter. So, what did she send me? The letter "O."

1. Uh-oh. What does it mean when my first thoughts are firmly entrenched in the gutter. Because there is the BIG O! and ORGAN and ORAL and OBSCENE. And if we are here. Why not add ORGY to the list. Do you think that Julie Andrews will sing a song about my favorite "O" things?

Well, once one's mind is there. It's hard to progress. Because I cannot think of other O words. That could possibly be construed as favorites. I brainstormed. And came up with nothing. Unless you want to count: Outer Mongolia. As opposed to Inner Mongolia. Opium. Opiates. Operation. Opossum. Oprah. Followed quickly by Offensive. Oh...this is not going well.

There is old. Oysters. Ointment. Oil. Obituary. Ogre. Owls. Well. Those might be one of my favorites. Since they eat the evil squirrels in my yard. But the owls have flown away. And I am overrun with squirrels. So. No owls on my favorites list.

What about ogres? Oatmeal. Obscure. Oars. Onions. Obtuse. Ostentatious. Octopus. Octogon.

Okay...I think I have uncluttered my mind. And I might be able to get on track now.

2. ORVILLE Redenbaker microwave popcorn. Yum. Such a good snack. Especially for me. With my love of salt. And crunch. What would we do without Orville. Or the microwave.

3. And now that we have had our snack of popcorn. We really need to balance out that salt with some sugar. And OREOS are just the ticket. One of the simplest of cookies. But oh, so delish. And then at Christmas time. You can find the chocolate covered variety in the stores. And I am still kicking myself for not getting the OREOS of doom at the county fair.

4. How about something healthy? I love ORANGES. Especially clementines. I love ORANGE hard candy. ORANGE life savers. ORANGE starburst. ORANGE and citrus scents. But ORANGE circus peanuts. No thanks. I'll be sure to pass all of those along to Jennifer P. Who thinks that they are a great breakfast food item.

5. And speaking of food. I love to cook. And to use my OVEN. What I'd really love. Is a double oven. Or having Clive OWEN help me in the kitchen. Yeah. That would work, too.

6. Oh. And there is the OCEAN. I love the clear water of the Caribbean. Snorkeling. Swimming. Or the OCEAN at St. George Island. The crash of the waves. The scent of salt in the air. And the sand between my toes. It makes me feel all peaceful. Calm. And happy inside.

7. And while we are at the beach. We could read some books. And one of my favorite series is OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon. It was recommended to me by someone in my book club. And it was my first foray into the kingdom of smutty books.

8. And after we have had enough sun. And we venture inside. Let's put in one of my very favorite movies. "O Brother, Where art Thou?" This is a brilliant Coen brothers comedy. And I love homage to Homer's "Odyssey." Love the sepia tones of it. The names. The actors. And then really. What's not to love about George Clooney?

9. And this list would not be complete without mentioning my OFFSPRING. My whirly-girlies. Who make me laugh. Make me proud. And make me want to pull all my hair out.

10. And then. There is you. All of my ONLINE friends. Who I have loved meeting in "real" life. And I can't wait to meet more of you. Ya'll are my sanity. And my OUTLET.

So...what about you? Are you a fan of pellet ice? What are your favorite things that start with "O?" Do you wanna play too? If so, just let me know, and I'll give you a letter!

Have you entered the weekly winners contest yet? You can win a favicon and some Mommy "bidness" cards.

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Theme song: Finger Eleven - ONE thing. And if you hang out for a while. You can also hear REM's ORANGE crush; U2's ONE; Bare Naked Ladies' ONE Week; and some songs from the O Brother soundtrack.

Monday, November 24, 2008

In the Kitchen with Kat: Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

I never knew that I liked pumpkin. I knew that I didn't like pumpkin pie. So, I just made the leap that I did not like pumpkin in any form.

And then a few years ago, when I was doing Weight Watchers. For the millionth time. I got a recipe that included pumpkin. I was skeptical. But my deep desire for chocolate was rearing it's ugly head. You know. That desire for chocolate is strong. Only when I diet. Otherwise, I am all about the salt. The grease. And the crunch.

That Weight Watcher recipe was simple. A box of devil's food chocolate cake mix. And a can of pumpkin. That's it. Maybe a little water if you needed it. Mix, and pour into muffin pans. Bake. Each muffin was 1.5 points. And to me. That simply meant you eat two. Three points was much easier to deal with. And these muffins. Oh. My. Delish.

And thus began my great love affair with pumpkin. Pumpkin soup has to be one of the most devine culinary creations. There is Lula's pumpkin crisp. Debbie wrote about Paula Deen's gooey butter pumpkin cake. Brandy made pumpkin cake. With chocolate chips. And now, I want to add my recipe to the pumpkin hall of infamy fame. Or at least to your menu for Thanksgiving.

Here is our cast of characters.

First thing to do is to bake up those gingerbread cake mixes. Oh my. The scent of those cooking. Might be strong enough to wake children from sleep. Demanding to know why it smells like Christmas.

Next, make the vanilla pudding. Doing cook and serve pudding is much more time consuming than instant. You know what they say about a watch pot. It never boils. And a pot being stirred. doesn't boil either. I think that next time I am just going to do instant.

When it FINALLY is done. And cooled. Add your pumpkin and your brown sugar. And mix.

Are you ready to assemble our layers? This is where it gets pretty.

First you get out your trifle bowl. It's really hard to take a good picture of something that is clear.Then take one of the gingerbread cakes and crumble it up. Press down on the cake to make it somewhat smooth.Then add half of the pumpkin and pudding mixture. My layers are never pretty. Or even. But they will be really tasty.

Then add a layer of cool whip.

And repeat.I waited to add the final layer of cool whip till serving the trifle. Because it wouldn't have fit under the lid.

But look at that. It's a show stopper. The grand finale. The Pièce de résistance.And the taste? Sinful. Sinfully delicious.

Here is the easy recipe:

2 packages of gingerbread cake mix

1 package (4.6 ounces) of cook and serve vanilla pudding mix

3 cups of milk

1 can of pumpkin

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 8oz containers of cool whip

Prepare and bake gingerbread according to package directions. Use two round baking pans. Cool completely.

In a large saucepan, combine pudding mix and milk. Stir until smooth.

Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Or until thickened.

Remove the pudding from the heat. Cool to room temperature.

Combine the pudding with the pumpkin and brown sugar.

In a glass serving bowl, crumble one of the gingerbread cakes. Gently press down on the cake.

Top with half of the pudding mixture.

And then add the cool whip.

Repeat the layers.

You could add nuts or caramel to the top. Or both.

Cover and refrigerate overnight. Makes 25 servings!

So...what about you? Do you have a favorite dessert? What do you like to have on your birthday? What is your favorite to have at Thanksgiving? Have you developed a love for something that you thought you wouldn't like? Have you entered THE CONTEST yet??

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Theme song: Smashing Pumpkins - 1979. Because there wasn't a band named Gingerbread. And pumpkin is rather smashing now, isn't it?