Wednesday, October 31, 2012

So What! Wednesday

So What Wednesday

So What!...

...there's a mattress in my dining room. Hopefully, it won't be there for long.

...Mattie is wearing Santa pajamas. It's Halloween.

...I'm so over-due on grocery shopping, I feel sorry for my kids. But we have cookies. And pumpkin pie.

...yesterday I fell back to sleep after the kids went to school and just barely squeezed in a 25 minute workout at the gym before I had to rush off to pick Mattie up from preschool. I did Couch25K, week 4/day 1 & skipped the cool down.

...I can't believe that I am now capable of running for 5 minutes at a time. Doesn't sound like much to some people I'm sure, but for me this is monumental.

...I started taking raspberry ketones in an attempt to lose a few pounds. Since the exercising & dietary changes don't seem to be helping. I've never ever done anything like this, but hey Dr. Oz says it works so I'll give it a try.

...I'm not even hungry, but I am strongly tempted to grab a cookie every time I walk past the kitchen. Or sit at my computer and remember that there are cookies in the kitchen. Please note: I have not given into temptation yet today. It is 9:06 AM. meter for knowing how sick Bethany truly feels is how much she uses her iPad or iPod. Yesterday she came home from school and slept for almost 6 hours straight, didn't even turn on her devices. I made her stay home today, but she's on her iPad now so I know she's feeling better.

...Mattie has an imaginary friend named Grape who has a dangerous habit of jumping out of windows and off roofs. The most disturbing part is that Mattie always ends her Grape stories with "it was so hilarious!"

...our new mattress was delivered on Monday and I dragged the old mattress and box spring to the curb. Today is garbage day and I'm crossing my fingers they pick it up. Otherwise, what in the heck am I going to do with this stuff?? Also, there was quite a mess under my bed and I'm vowing that is not going to happen again. Nothing is going under my bed except plastic under bed storage boxes. And, in case you were wondering, that mattress in my dining room is Mathilda's new bed, not ours. 

...I'm dressing up for trick or treating tonight. This is the first time I've done this since I've had kids! Are you dressing up with your kids?

What are you saying So What! to this week?

Monday, October 29, 2012


Purex-Plus-Oxi-Laundry-DetergentMaybe someday, just for laughs, I'll post some pictures of my laundry room. Ha ha, just kidding, it'll never happen. I am always swimming in laundry. And when the baskets in the laundry room start to get low and I think, "almost!" then I go upstairs and realize the kids have been stockpiling dirty laundry. It has been years since all the laundry  has been clean at once. At least, I'm assuming it's been years because I don't actually remember.

I've mentioned my laundry woes many times, so that's nothing new. But here's what is new: Purex plus Oxi, a detergent and stain fighter in one! This new product is formulated to work in all washing machines - high efficiency and traditional, plus it can be used to pre-treat stains. I go through a whole lot of pre-treat stain spray, so it's nice to know that with Purex plus Oxi in the house, I'm set to go. On the flip side, no more procrastinating those stain-filled loads (my kids are confused about the whole napkin idea) until I get to Target to buy more stain remover.

Right now through November 30, Purex is hosting a sweepstakes in conjunction with the debut of their newest detergent. Just click HERE for your chance at winning the Grand Prize of $1000, or one of 200 2nd Prizes of $25!

Want to try Purex with Oxi and see for yourself how well it works? Good news! I'm hosting a giveaway! One lucky MichiGal reader will win three FREE bottles of Purex with Oxi! Just use the Rafflecopter form to enter!

Giveaway open to U.S. residents only. Other terms and conditions can be found below.

Purex provided me with a bottle of Purex with Oxi for review purposes, as well as the prize for this giveaway. All opinions are my own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Book Review: Perfect Bait by Michael Fowlkes

One of the reasons I love reading is because it gives me the opportunity to be in situations and environments that I'm not familiar with in real life. In the case of Perfect Bait, by Michael Fowlkes, the setting starts out in the world of Seattle's commercial fishing industry, and ends up in the laid-back sun and surf community of Ocean Beach. Much of the book takes place on boats. Since I haven't spent all that much time on boats, I have few preconceived notions about the lifestyle of boaters, and as a reader, I could just sit back and enjoy the ride.

When main character Corey Phillips leaves Seattle, looking for a fresh start, he blindly stumbles into a sea-side oasis in southern California and makes the decision to call it home. Little by little, his new life begins to take shape, beginning with a dog and ending up with a serious relationship and the development of a dream. He and his girlfriend, Jennifer, spontaneously decide to buy a boat and begin a new career running charter fishing trips. They have no idea what they are getting themselves into.

As they work to restore their boat and start their business, Corey and Jennifer discover new friendships as their own relationship strengthens. They love the boating life, and the charters are off to a good start. Soon, however, a frightening mystery presents itself, and suddenly it becomes clear that there is a  lot more than fishing going on in the charter community.

Although the story seemed to move along at a snail's pace at times, Perfect Bait consistently kept my attention. Sometimes it took awhile to see where we were headed in the scheme of things, and the main gist of the story wasn't presented until pretty late in the book. However, I enjoyed the journey, so this wasn't much of an issue for me. Maybe some of the relationships seemed a little too perfect, but this is fiction after all. Throughout the book, there are some pretty descriptive intimate scenes, but nothing that I would personally deem offensive. Then again, I wasn't offended by Fifty Shades of Grey, so maybe I'm not the right person to ask. In this book, though, the love scenes are done tastefully and sweetly. And they are not the primary focus of the story. From beginning to end, I liked Perfect Bait; and its short but sweet cast of characters and easy to follow story line made it a good work-out companion for this multi-tasking mama.

Thanks to BookSparksPR, I received a copy of Perfect Bait for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday's Letters


Dear Bethany: I miss you. Come home from camp already. Our house is way too quiet without you.
Dear Mathilda: Your quirks are sometimes terribly aggravating, but if I stop being annoyed for a second I can immediately see that it's adorable that you insist on wearing skirts everyday, and endearing that you like peanut butter sandwiches - no jelly - with the crust cut off. You are one opinionated 3-year old, that's for sure!
Dear Gardner-White: I sure hope I can come in and spend my $1K gift certificate this weekend! And the free next day delivery on mattresses is sure to light a fire under my butt to hurry up and get my bedroom massively cleaned up in a big fat hurry!
Dear Halloween: I love you, but when did you become a month-long celebration? So far we have 5 Halloween events under our belt this year, and at least 3 more to go before the actual day of Halloween. I guess we call that good old-fashioned American excess? When I was a kid, we wore our costumes to school on Halloween, went trick-or-treating, and that was that.
Dear Candy: I don't know what you do to me, but I am powerless in your presence.
Dear Couch25K: Thank you for existing. Before I found out about you, I never really thought I could be a runner in any shape or form. Now I'm thinking I am actually going to conquer the 5K.
Dear Friends and Readers: You guys gave me so many awesome tips for putting together a robot costume for Mattie! And now she wants to be a butterfly.
Dear Chris: Thank you for taking care of the van this week. I think I would lose my mind if I had to listen to the brakes grinding for one.more.second.
Dear Me: Way to go with sticking to the workouts. Now, keep your dang hands out of the candy bowl! And for Pete's sake, don't bake anything!
Dear Cousin Kelly: I'm so happy you eluded death this week. So happy.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I'm feeling just crazy blessed lately. I have so much to be thankful for! I'll give you some highlights...

Connor was really REALLY hoping to go to the Lego KidsFest that was recently held at the Novi Suburban Collection. It looked cool, and I wanted to take him, but I wasn't sure about the price tag on the tickets. So I entered a bajillion contests, crossing my fingers that I'd win so that I wouldn't have to make the decision about purchasing the tickets. And then a fellow Michigan blogger who was supposed to be covering the event had something come up and couldn't go. I offered to take her tickets off her hands (I know, I know...I was doing her a huge favor! Ha!) and do a write-up for her. So I was able to take Connor, Mathilda, my friend, and her two boys, for FREE! Big thank you to Kerri from Momma of 4 Cutiez! You can read my Lego KidsFest post HERE. Maybe I'll get around to writing more about it here, too!

I was so excited to be able to fulfill Connor's wish, to do it for free, and to help out another blogger too. But...guess what? I also won one of the giveaways I entered! Those tickets were for a day & time when I couldn't attend, so unfortunately I had to turn them down...but that just means someone else got to go! And...yet ANOTHER blogger offered me HER tickets, because she ended up not being able to go. Don't worry, she found someone else to cover for her! I was just amazed that ***3*** options were presented to me to do something I really wanted to do. I guess I was meant to be there.


Awhile back, I entered a blogger contest with a local-to-Michigan furniture chain, Gardner-White. The entry task was to write a blog post about what I would do with a $1000 Gardner-White gift certificate. In case you missed it, you can go ahead and read it now if you'd is the LINK. Well, as it turns out...I WON!! The grand prize of a $1000 Gardner-White gift certificate! If you read my entry, you'll see that I was all over the place about what I'd do with the money. But I'm 99.9% certain that Chris and I have come to an agreement, and very soon we will be the elated owners of a brand new mattress. I can't wait! Maybe we'll get to the store to order it this weekend. I am SO thankful to Gardner-White for hosting the Blog for a Grand Contest, and for choosing me as the winner! And a big shout-out to the two first prize winners, Missy from Simply Raising 8 and Kristie from Saving Dollars and Sense. They each won $500 Gardner-White gift certificates, plus everyone who entered received a $50 gift certificate.

Here's me, tickled pink to be the winner of the Gardner-White Blog for a Grand contest!


And my happiest and most thankful news of late: my cousin was in a horrible car accident a few days ago, and escaped with nothing more than a broken nail (and a totaled car, but who cares about the car?!). Someone ran a red light and hit her hard enough to flip her car. Thankfully, she was wearing her seat belt, which kept her hanging safely upside down until the rescue crew could get her out. In case you're in the market for a super safe car, she was driving a Dodge Caliber. Although apparently they don't make them anymore. The windows didn't even break out! I can't stop thinking about how differently this incident could have turned out. People die from accidents like this. She is sore but she is okay. I drive in the exact spot where she was hit all the time. Scary! Somehow the timing, the angle, the speed, the vehicles...everything worked together to create the best possible outcome in this situation. And I believe a few guardian angels were looking out for her too. By the way, the other driver and her passenger were not injured either.

My cousin and I grew up together...we are godmothers to each other's first born children...she is like a sister to me. I am so, so, SO thankful that she is okay!


What are YOU thankful for at this moment?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

So What! Wednesday

So What Wednesday

I'm linking up with Shannon to say So What!...

I've been an absentee blogger...sorry! Sometimes real life gets in the way of virtual life.

I can't believe the low entries on my Tiny Prints giveaway. Really people, this is a great giveaway! Tiny Prints has beautiful products...go ENTER...before it's too late!

Bethany is at 6th grade camp & I miss her! But I know she is having the time of her life!

I always dread, dread, dread going grocery shopping...and then once I'm there, I never want to leave.

I've been eating like crap. We have had tons of candy & sweets in the house lately, and I have 0 will power. I can't walk past the pantry knowing there are boxes of chocolates in there (from Bethany's band fundraiser) and not sneak one. Ditto for homemade cookies and pumpkin crumb cake.

A few weeks ago I started getting horrible stomach pains, and then I took a day off my morning smoothie and I didn't get the stomach ache. So I haven't had a smoothie in almost a week. Nor have I had a stomach ache. Oh what to do, what to do?? I miss my morning smoothies, and I miss knowing that at least I'm getting something super nutritious into my body every day!

I think it's hilarious that Mattie and I go to lunch at the same place almost every Tuesday, and even though we generally order the same thing every week, our bill is for a different amount every time. So funny. I don't even care because the guy usually gives us free food (yesterday it was a banana, last week it was a cup of soup), and it's cheap anyway.

I love Tuesdays. I go to the gym while Mattie is at preschool, then we go to lunch after school and to the library for story time. The best. Plus there are no after school activities for the big kids. Which will probably be changing once basketball starts, but for now it's nice.

We're having unseasonably warm October weather in Michigan, and I love it. I'm also relieved because I was afraid Bethany was going to freeze at camp. Which brings me to...

I'm ready to collect my Mom of the Year Award...just send your child to camp in October without a coat or gloves, and you could earn one too! Thank goodness the weather is cooperating with my ineptitude!

Mattie wants to be a robot for Halloween...her grandpa bought her an astronaut costume and she is totally convinced that it is a robot costume. Somehow I don't feel right about the deception...but she loves it, so I'm going to keep my mouth shut!

What are you saying So What! to this week?

Monday, October 22, 2012

I Saw it on Pinterest: Pumpkin Crumb Cake

Pumpkin Crumb Cake

I actually started this post last week, and never quite got around to finishing it. Since then I broke my beloved green cake stand, pictured above, while I was washing it, which makes me very sad because my grandma gave it to me. And I made this cake for the second time in a week...because it's that good.
I love Pinterest, and I love all things pumpkin. I've been trying to keep cans of pumpkin in the house at all times, just in case I come across a tasty looking recipe like this one. Speaking of which, I should carry a notebook with me and take notes at all times, because I seriously can't remember anything. Like who pointed me in the direction of this autumnal divinity, which my kids and I have eaten way too much of this week. I'm pretty sure a Pinterest link was posted to Facebook, and that's how I found it. Nonetheless, however I came about finding the recipe, it is on Pinterest now. And HERE is a link to the website where the full recipe can be found.

I'm not going to type out the ingredients and directions here, so just go ahead and get all that pertinent info from the link above. 

The recipe might look a little complicated, but it's truly not bad. Then again, I'm of the mindset that a little extra time and effort is well worth it when it comes to baking from scratch. But this recipe is just a matter of following the directions - no special skills required. Since the recipe calls for only half a cup of pumpkin, one small can of pumpkin is enough to make about two and a half pumpkin crumb cakes. I used my spring form pan, just cause I think it looks prettier, but I'm sure it would taste just as good coming out of a square baking dish.

The end result is a somewhat rich, not overly sweet, coffee cake with a hint of pumpkin flavor. The crumb topping is crunchy and wonderful, and not a crumb of it has gone wasted from a single plate. There is just something about this pumpkin crumb cake that makes it difficult to resist every time I find an excuse to pass through the kitchen.

I've also tried modifying a couple recipes using canned pumpkin. After seeing a post from Life After I "Dew" (whether it was on Facebook or the blog itself, I couldn't tell you), I decided to give two-ingredient pumpkin muffins a try. Maybe you've seen the recipe floating around the internet. Just combine a box of cake mix (I used spice cake) and a small can of pumpkin, and bake as usual. Really - no need to add anything else. My kids really liked these muffins, I'd have to say they were a big hit. 

I was telling a friend of mine about the pumpkin muffins, and she said the same can be done with a box of brownie mix and a small can of pumpkin. Having nothing to lose, I decided to give the brownies a try too. They tasted good right out of the oven, but the more they cooled the less I liked the pumpkin brownies. The kids liked them and ate quite a few, but they didn't devour them as they did the pumpkin muffins. My friend told me her kids preferred the brownies over the muffins, but my kids were the opposite. So who knows? Go ahead and try both "recipes"* and let me know whether you and yours prefer the muffins or the brownies. Don't forget about the pumpkin crumb cake either! Or if you have another pumpkin recipe that you love, please share in the comments.

*In quotes because it's only two ingredients, does that really constitute a recipe?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

ENDED I Heart Tiny Prints Holiday Cards - GIVEAWAY!

I love Tiny Prints products, and I am always so excited when they contact me about new items. Their cards and stationary products are high quality and beautiful. I am especially a fan of the new line of Christmas Photo Cards, and I can't wait to order some for our family. Maybe I'll even be daring and attempt to get a picture with all six of us this year, instead of just the kids.

I don't even know how I'm going to decide. There are seriously so many designs that I love.

Tiny Prints Holiday Cards - so precious!

Some, like this one, are really simple, with a short and lovely message, and they let the photo take center stage.

Another beautiful Tiny Prints Holiday card

I'm also crazy about this old-fashioned look. I love it! I can just see my family's photo inserted into this Victorian-looking greeting card.

Another contender...I love this Tiny Prints Holiday card design!

And this one is so colorful and cheerful! I honestly don't know how I am ever going to choose! Good thing I have a little time to think about it...

Thinking about placing an order with Tiny Prints? Then you'll definitely want to check out their special offers! Every item I have ordered from them has been perfect. The paper quality is a cut above the competitors, and the available designs are really unique, many of them with a cool vintage look.

Tiny Prints has very generously offered to award one lucky MichiGal reader with a $50 promo code! Please note that the promo code cannot be combined with other offers, and also cannot be used toward shipping and handling fees. So if you've been looking for an excuse to try Tiny Prints, now is your chance! Just use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In exchange for writing this post and sharing this giveaway, Tiny Prints is providing me with a promo code of my own. All opinions are mine. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday Moods and Musings

I'm pretty good at avoiding contact. But I was distracted, watching the woman on the corner and wondering what she was doing there, considering that seeing a woman standing outside at this particular intersection was not an every day occurrence. As I sat in my van at the red light, mentally pondering whether she was out on a run (odd place for it), I was caught off guard. She glanced my way and our eyes locked. I noticed she looked distraught. She motioned for me to roll my window down.

"Do you have three dollars for the bus?"

I gave her my auto-pilot, stock answer, which is, generally speaking, the truth. "I'm sorry, I don't have any cash." As I put my window back up, I guiltily realized that I did indeed have a little cash, which I was planning on using to take Mathilda to lunch the next day. I was torn. Should I put my window back down and offer her the money? I considered the circumstances. I was stopped at a red light in the center lane, with cars all around me. The light was about to change. The woman looked neat and clean and healthy, which is to say she did not look like a psycho crack head. But she did look upset. Antsy for a fix maybe? I should perhaps add that I was in Detroit, although I'm not sure that should matter. I had Mattie in the back seat, and my first concern is always for the safety of my kids. Although,  I don't think she would have had much luck carjacking me, considering my position in traffic. Maybe she truly needed help. I watched as she spoke to a woman in the car closest to her, and my guilt lessened somewhat when I saw the other driver pass some cash through her open window. I was relieved that she had her bus fare, if she did indeed actually need it. If you live in or near a city, you know that asking for bus money is the oldest scam in the book.

The light turned green, and I drove off, wondering if the woman was okay and offering up a silent prayer on her behalf. Did her car break down? Did she get in a fight with her boyfriend and get dumped on the side of the road? Did her ride not show up to take her to work? My first gut instinct had been to ask if she needed help, to offer her a ride.

Why did I hesitate?

How to answer that question? I was raised on fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of strangers, fear of untold dangers. Not only by those who raised me, but by the media, and countless books, movies, and television shows that captured my imagination in a not-so-great way. The truth is, I don't feel safe or comfortable offering help to a stranger on the side of the road, no matter how harmless that stranger appears to be, especially when it's just me and my 3-year old in the van. Maybe I never will. Am I being smart or paranoid? Obviously, there are people who help strangers on the side of the road all the time. They see a broken down car, pull over and offer to help change the tire or give a lift to the nearest gas station. What makes those people different from me?

I'm also always going. My perception is that I don't have time to be sidetracked, I don't have time for distractions, I don't have time. Period. But, as Tony Robbins says, we always have time for our MUSTS. So if I would have viewed the situation in a different light, "I MUST stop and ask this woman if she needs help!", then suddenly I would have time for this unexpected event. However, to be honest, I must admit that I was in no particular hurry. I had plenty of time to get where I was going, and I had no place to go after my one and only errand. But I'm in the mindset of having no time to spare, even when I do. It has become my automated MO. 

I want to become a person who has time and courage enough to help, even when my inner (false?) alarm bells are going off full force. But...I will continue to be cautious. So maybe helping people on the side of the road will never be my thing.


Seeing this woman on the side of the road, doubting myself, my motives and fears, came on the tails of an already somewhat tumultuous morning. It's a day of self-doubt, apparently.

Lucy has her first field trip of first grade today, to Westview Orchards. I was not chosen to be a class chaperone, but any parents not chosen were given the option of following the bus and walking along with the group at the orchard. I wasn't sure what to do. I hemmed, I hawed. Should I go, and be a witness to these sweet memories? In the end, I chose not to go. I chose to let Lucy go, to let her be on a field trip without me (a first). She was very excited about the field trip, and did not seem in the least bit bothered that I wasn't accompanying her. This is a big change from kindergarten, when she had a huge meltdown because she thought I wasn't going to be able to go on one of the field trips. I left her at school, buzzing in anticipation of her big day. She was fine, she was happy. I walked away wondering whether I made the right choice.


Obviously, there was no reason to second guess myself. Lucy is a bit of a mama's girl and needs to be gently nudged into independence. In this case she was ready and willing, so why hinder that? And yet...

By this point, I had cooled from my morning Bethany situation. But I was still feeling bad about it. Mornings are usually remarkably smooth sailing at my house. Today was different. Bethany was tired, whereas she is usually raring to go. She laid down on the couch after she got dressed, while she waited for me to make breakfast. In my haste to get out the door on time, I didn't even pause to consider that this was extremely unlike my eldest child. I remained ultra focused on the goal at hand: everyone to school on time! When there was some confusion about whether or not she had to get to school early for a meeting, and she did the typical tween thing: "I don't knoooooow what to doooooo mommmmm!", I did not consider that she was having an off morning, and thus scrape the bottom of my patience reserve - as I should have done. I  chastised her for not having her ducks in a row until the last minute, making it clear that I don't have TIME for her to go switching things around in the morning. The truth? I do want her to be more responsible and considerate in these matters, but what is going to happen if my kids have their first tardy of the year? Nothing, that's what. People get mixed up, people get dates and times confused. At least, I do. So maybe I should give my daughter a break when she's already having a tired, atypical day. Maybe I should consider not being so hard on her (although at any other moment I might doubt whether I am hard enough on her).

So. This is how my week is starting. With my mood matching the gloomy weather. And now...I'm ready for it to get better.

ENDED Plants Vs. Zombies and a GIVEAWAY!

Confession time: I could barely tear myself away from Plants Vs. Zombies long enough to write this review. Proceed with caution.

Plants vs Zombies

When I was given the opportunity to choose something from Big Fish Games to review, I decided to try something a little different from games I had played in the past. Before making my final decision, I took advantage of the Big Fish one-hour trial period. That's right, you can try any game you'd like for one hour before you take the plunge to purchase it. I love that feature, because who wants to spend money on a game when you're not even sure you're going to like it?

I had so much fun playing Plants Vs. Zombies during my trial period that I knew it was the one I wanted to play in more depth and review. Since I am always pretty much right in the midst of my kids while I'm doing anything on the computer, they couldn't help but notice the game. And of course they wanted in on it too.