Desserts and Drinks and Friends, Oh My!

Desserts and Drinks and Friends, Oh My!

Thanks to Duncan Hines for sponsoring my writing. There’s no limit to the baking possibilities, so grab your favorite Duncan Hines mix and Comstock or Wilderness fruit fillings and Bake On! www.duncanhines.com.

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Oh, the holidays! Entertaining and sharing food and gifts with friends is one of my favorite things to do.

Before we moved to Atlanta, we had a (if I may say so myself) pretty rockin’ Christmas party every year. We would fill the house with 20-40 of our friends and eat, drink and be merry for several hours.

I would go all out on the food and drinks, but the desserts were really everybody’s favorites. The first year I made one of my all-time favorite desserts: Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake. With my best friend’s husband being a pecan farmer, we manage to squeeze pecans into just about anything we can! This dessert is fabulous with a cup of coffee with a dash of kahlua.

Another fan favorite are my date nut balls. Most people call them date balls but it’s more fun to say date nut balls. They get gobbled up faster than a jackrabbit on a date! Milk really is the perfect beverage pairing to go with these.

Image: Johnson Cameraface, via Flickr Creative Commons License

Some of my favorite desserts to serve in casual get-togethers are simple like angel food cake or white cake and mixed fresh fruit, with a dollop of whipped cream of course, or mini cupcakes with a small amount of icing and a fresh strawberry on top.

I’ll be honest. I don’t love baking, but these are all items I’m comfortable making that I KNOW will turn out acceptable to present to company. My friends love them. They’re tried and true and have turned into my signature desserts.

Now go out there and make something delicious. Make it over and over and make it YOUR signature dessert!

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Remember to check out Duncan Hines’ website www.duncanhines.com to find some great recipes for your holiday get-together! I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective.

Teaching The Hard Stuff: Introducing Fred The Fox *Update with Winner*

Teaching The Hard Stuff: Introducing Fred The Fox *Update with Winner*

Two weeks ago, a post came up in my reader that caught my attention. Scary Mommy had a guest post about a situation involving a six year old being asked by an older boy to touch his privates. This post scared me. It scared me enough that I posted it on Facebook. It opened up a great dialogue about this and about how young it seems like we have to talk about these things with our kids.

I’d like to state up front that I really feel like, thankfully, I grew up in a bubble. I didn’t know that things like this happened to people. The older I got, the more I realized that there were people in the world who did things like this. And now, working daily on Band Back Together, I realize how fortunate I am that sexual abuse has never touched my life — as a child or as an adult.

Just the night before this post was put up, Jason had to go through the Cub Scout Handbook with Henry. In the front is a section of topics to discuss with your son to help them learn what to do in situations such as the following:

  • What if you are playing on the playground and an adult comes up to you and asks you to help find his or her lost puppy? What do you do?
  • What if you are in a public restroom and someone tries to touch your private parts? What do you do?
  • What if you are playing at a friend’s house and his older brother and some of his friends invite you to join a club? To join the club you have to take off all your clothes and wrestle with them. Your friend wants to join. What do you do?
I’ll be honest. I was listening to the conversation Jason and Henry were having and I was panicky. There were about a dozen more questions and situations that go even deeper into detail than those. I was panicky because my child who loves to please others didn’t know the answers to these questions.

I was panicky because OMG my baby shouldn’t have to know about these things — there shouldn’t be people who do this in the world. It’s just not right.

But that’s not the case. There are bad people in the world and all we can do as parents is teach our kids right and wrong and empower them to know the difference and stand up for themselves.

The timing of the introduction by my friend Amy to the author of Fred The Fox Shouts “NO!” was perfect.

Tatiana K. Matthews is the author of the wonderful book Fred The Fox Shouts “NO!” and as it turns out, she lives right around the corner from me in Dunwoody, as does the very talented illustrator of the book, Allison Fears. Tatiana dropped off a book for me the other day to read to Henry. All I can say is that HE LOVED IT!

After the initial embarrassed-boy, sheepish look when talking about “privates,” he warmed up to it. Probably because the book is simple, to the point and the best part? You get to SCREAM!

Every time Fred The Fox’s parent asks a question, Fred answers and then YOU have to answer out loud. BY SCREAMING! It’s so much fun to read and gets the sillies out before bed.

The message is simple and to the point. The book is repetitive which is ideal for children of this age. Reading the book often is how the message and lessons will resonate the best with them.

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I asked Tatiana to answer some questions for me to give you a better insight into why she decided to write a book like this and a little more about how and when to talk to your children about these sensitive subjects.

What was your reason behind writing this book? And why a family of foxes? 

The book was inspired by my own experience as a mental professional. Time and time again I saw clients who had been victims of sexual abuse at the hands of family, friends and acquaintances. However, the focus of many resources are not heavily centered on safety with people you know and trust.

I chose the family of foxes because I knew that the story could not be threatening. We would have to use animals to soften the edges of this very serious subject. I knew that a child like, but soft and fuzzy character would do the trick. I also wanted the animal to have a den to represent the importance of family and the culture of the home.

How early should we be talking to our children about sexual abuse? What ages do you recommend Fred The Fox Shouts “NO” for? 

Sexual abuse prevention starts at birth. Identifying a child’s private areas by their anatomically correct names sets the stage. Teaching a child that allows you to remind them that those areas are private. Having that conversation while you are changing diapers and modeling behavior that reflects you respect your child’s right to privacy and personal boundaries.

Fred the Fox is appropriate for any child that can sit for a story up to at least age 10.

If I talk to my child about this, he will want to know about sex and I’m not ready for my 6 year old to know all that. How do I put off the sex talk until he’s older? 

Introducing the concepts of privacy, personal rights and the power of ones voice, does not mean you will end up talking about sex. If a child has a question about sex that is generated from this conversation, answer the question in a concise manner. Never answer more than what is asked. Too many words can cause you to lose the message.

If a child asks a question that would leave you to believe they have more knowledge of sex than developmentally appropriate, you will need to gently investigate how they gathered that knowledge. That advanced knowledge can be a red flag that a child had been sexually abused.

Is the problem of sexual abuse of children getting better? Or is it worse than ever? 

There are conflicting studies regarding the rise or decline of child sexual abuse. Some studies say acts of sexual abuse are on the decline, but sexual abuse involving technology are on the rise.

Do you have plans for other books about other tough-to-talk-about subjects? 

We do not currently have plans for another book at this time, but we have some very exciting ideas in hopes that we will reduce the occurrences of sexual abuse.

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Fred The Fox Shouts “NO!” was featured in the AJC last week. The story opened with the most frightening statistics:

  • One in four girls and one in six boys nationally will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday, according to the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy.
  • Of those, less than 10 percent will ever tell, even though they know their offender 90 percent of the time.
Do you think it’s time to talk to YOUR kids about good touch and bad touch? I think so…

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Congratulations to Law Momma for winning the copy of Fred The Fox Shouts “NO!” I’ll be shooting you an email!

Anyone who wants to buy a copy can get one here!

The Beauty of Fall

The Beauty of Fall

Thanks to Walgreens for underwriting this post. I was paid as a member of the Clever Girls Collective, but the content is all mine. Visit http://moms.dailybuzz.com/channel/style.

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Fall is my Spring. I think because Winter is my favorite season, I love Fall because it’s the gateway to it. In Georgia, fall is cool and dry and just beautiful. Unlike spring, which is humid, damp and hot!

I don’t know about y’all, but my hair and skin absolutely LOVE the Fall weather. I think it’s the lower humidity and cool, crisp air. Even using the same products, my skin automatically feels less dry, cleaner and even looks prettier.

I do have a secret, though. In the fall, I use my pumpkins for more than just carving into scary faces to sit on the front porch.

I use pumpkin on my face. Yes, I really do.

Pumpkin is a great source of Vitamins A and C, as well as zinc and alpha-hydroxy acids that help slow the signs of aging. And since I’m knocking on the door of 36 which means I’m almost 40, slowing the signs of aging is important.

Unfortunately, pumpkin doesn’t reduce gray hairs. But when eaten, it CAN help with inflammation, prevent cancer and heart disease and other serious ailments. Pumpkin is extremely beneficial for prostate health, too. I have no prostate (and neither does my daddy now) but most of you do so GO EAT SOME PUMPKIN PIE, y’all!

But alas, I use it on my face. A quick and easy scrub to use on your face and/or body can be made with three simple ingredients.

1/2 cup cooked or canned pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

I know! It sounds like pumpkin pie for your face… and it really is. Only without the butter and calories. All you have to do is mix it up and put it on a damp washcloth and rub in circular motions on your face and body.

Try it. I’m dying to know how you feel about it.

You can buy products in the beauty section of stores that contain pumpkin. They likely contain other ingredients that help them stay fresh but contain the health and beauty benefits that you would get from real pumpkin.

Do you do any special fall-themed beauty regimens during this time of year?

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Thank you to Walgreens for sponsoring this blog post. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions are my own.

 

 

I’m Geeky Over Greek

I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour conducted by Clever Girls on behalf of Dannon. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program but my opinions are my own.

For more information and recipe ideas, visit www.oikosyogurt.com or www.Facebook.com/oikos. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

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In our house, we have a favorite breakfast and snack food. Well, Henry and I do. (Jason isn’t too sure about it)

Crunchy yogurt.

Every morning for breakfast, I indulge in a bowl full of deliciousness — a combination of vanilla yogurt and some sort of granola or similar cereal product. (Unfortunately, it’s not Fruity Pebbles. I figure that negates the goodness of the yogurt.)

I have loved yogurt for as long as I can remember. The yogurt is my main source of protein, as I don’t eat a whole lot of meat. No, I’m not a vegetarian, but I could become one easily.

I used to buy just regular ole vanilla yogurt. Normally the lower fat kind, just because I eat so much of it.

And then? Then there was GREEK YOGURT. And my world changed! I’ve purchased a few different types and then heard that Dannon/Stonyfield* had Greek Yogurt and thought, “hmm, I’ll try that one since I like Dannon already.”

I was provided a few cups of Dannon Oikos for the purposes of this post and I have to say, once I had my first bite of Dannon Oikos, I was changed forever. The differences between the “other” Greek yogurt I’d been eating and this were huge.

  • Dannon® Oikos® is created through an authentic Greek straining process which gives it a rich and creamy-thick texture.
  • It still contains active yogurt cultures, which helps promote a healthy digestive tract.
  • Dannon® Oikos® Plain and Fruit on the Bottom contains 0% fat, while the Dannon® Oikos® traditional blended varieties contains only about 3% fat. Both are an excellent source of protein, twice that of most regular lowfat yogurts.
  • Stonyfield Organic Oikos provides the same delicious flavor and texture of Greek Yogurt, only in Organic form.

So now I’m officially a convert to Greek yogurt and since Dannon Oikos and Stonyfield Organic Oikos provide such wonderful flavors like strawberry or blueberry fruit on the bottom, super fruits and honey fig (OMG MY FAVORITE), I can’t imagine going back to only vanilla (or any other brand).

The vanilla will always be my go-to for our crunchy yogurt. But I don’t think I’ll ever again buy “regular” yogurt because I’m all geeked out over Greek now. The thickness and extra protein makes it a very filling snack or breakfast, and in a pinch when the husband is traveling, it’s a great supper, too!

See how geeky I am over Greek yogurt?

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I have partnered with Dannon to help promote the Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt Series. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program, which includes writing about the promotion and product. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

*Oikos is a registered trademark of Stonyfield Farm., Inc. used under license by the Dannon Company, Inc.

 

 

Shiny Happy People (on Canvas)

Shiny Happy People (on Canvas)

Ever since we returned from our trip to New York back in the Spring and I loaded the pictures onto my computer, I’ve been dying to have this photo enlarged and put on canvas or a metal of some sort. I couldn’t make up my mind but knew it would be done.

And then, like magic, I was contacted by Megan at Easy Canvas Prints about a review possibility for a canvas of a photo of my choice. And in a 16×20 size.

Canvas Prints

Needless to say, I jumped because it was obviously a perfect fit for me. I’d been pondering getting a canvas of this photo done and VOILA! here’s my chance.

Ordering on the site was super easy. Simply upload your photo, choose your wrap thickness, move it around to fit in the canvas how you want it, choose the border, opt for retouching, preview and order.

Then wait for your package to arrive.

It arrived in a HUGE box. I was secretly hoping they changed it from a 16×20 to like a 30×40 but once I opened it, I realized it was just safely packed.

To say my eyes welled up with tears when I saw this, would be an understatement. Look at that face. And look at the hands… they WRAP around the edge so it looks like he’s holding the picture! Oh, I die!

Unfortunately, we’re still in our cruddy apartment and I didn’t have anywhere fabulous to put it, so I hung it here to show you how gorgeous. The lighting is funky but I have to tell you, his face on the print actually lights up the room!

Once we move, it will be residing on the brick fireplace and will look fantastic!

I turned off the light for another picture. You can really see how bright his face is and how it lights up the area. Of course (toot my own horn) the photo was amazing to begin with, but this really pulled out the detail and beauty of it. It’s so crisp yet it looks like it’s been painted (it has not). It just leaves me kinda speechless.

I am so thrilled that Easy Canvas Prints asked me to review a product for them. I highly recommend them for your canvas needs. The service was impeccable, delivery was VERY timely and the quality is just fabulous.

You can find them on their site or on Facebook.

Disclaimer: Thank you to Easy Canvas Prints for providing me with the 16×20 canvas print. I received it in exchange for this review and an ad space, though all thoughts and opinions are my own and they didn’t tell me what to say. They also have that cute little button over with my advertisers!

 

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