30th Sep2009

Wordless Wednesday: My Dad and His Daughters

by Daenel

My father passed away a year ago this month…

I love and miss you, Dad!

Click here or here to see more Wordless Wednesday posts or to add your own

29th Sep2009

Free Coffee from Starbucks…..Mmmmmm

by Daenel

I love coffee. And not just any coffee. I love Starbucks coffee (big mistake closing the store in Dallas – just throwing that out there). I really love the Espresso Truffle. Drool. Now that the store in Dallas has closed (hint) I have to drive out to Wilkes-Barre whenever I want my fix (not a long drive but enough to be an annoyance, especially since there was a store 5 minutes away from my house /rant).

Now Starbucks has decided to appease me (yes, I’m taking this personal) and introduce Starbucks VIA. Starbucks VIA allows you to brew Starbucks coffee any place, any time. Yes! An instant coffee from Starbucks. I tried it a couple of months back and, honest to goodness, you cannot tell the difference between the instant and the fresh brew. To prove my point, why don’t you head over to your nearest Starbucks for a Taste Test Challenge from 2-5 October? Taste Test Challengers will receive a coupon for a complimentary Tall brewed coffee on their next visit as well as an offer for a $1 off a purchase of Starbucks VIA.

How sweet is that?

29th Sep2009

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not…

by Daenel

I remember when I used to pull the petals off flowers and hope that I ended with “he loves me.” If I didn’t, I knew the problem – he was an idiot who would come to rue the day he ever let me go. The problem was never me. Yes, I was a pretty self confident kid.

Now I’m a married woman who is still pulling petals off flowers, only this time, I’m not chanting “he loves me, he loves me not” instead, I’m whispering “they like me, they like me not” and praying for a positive outcome. My confidence is not as strong as it used to be (years of rejection for various reasons will do that to you). So who am I hoping will like me? Human resources, or whoever the powerful people are who make the hiring decisions. I don’t need them to love me, I just need them to like me enough to call me in for an interview.

I’ve found that the job search process is a bit like dating – maybe even a bit harder. When you’re dating, both parties get the opportunity to meet and talk and decide whether or not the relationship will work. Sending out resumes is more like going on a blind date, except you’re not part of the process. The hiring committee scans your resume, rejecting or accepting you for unknown reasons. They are trying to determine whether or not you’re a good fit based on a few sentences in a cover letter, a summary of a life’s worth of experience condensed to a page or two….

It’s hard not to take the rejection personally. It’s hard not to write the rejection off as their loss because it’s really my loss. Another month without working, doing something productive with my time, making a difference somewhere, bringing in an income, etc.

Another resume sent, another flower plucked….They like me…..

I recently received an offer of a part-time position and I’m thrilled but I’m still looking for full-time employment.

26th Sep2009

Million Hearts Challenge

by Daenel

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but sometime after my 32nd birthday I became lactose intolerant. For a heavy milk drinker, this was devastating (afterall, milk does do a body good). After many unsuccessful attempts at eating dairy I finally gave up and accepted that my days of eating cheese and ice cream indiscriminately were over. After what I thought was a suitable period of mourning, I moved on and accepted that I’d be living a dairy free life. However, the one thing I could not take was drinking my coffee black.

Now, let me explain something here…I love coffee…. No, you don’t understand…. I. Love. Coffee. So a friend of mine (thank you, Clara, I owe you my first born) told me to try Silk Soy Milk. Soy milk? Really? To say I was skeptical would be putting it mildly (it actually took me three months to try it after she suggested it). But when I did… Let’s just say, my coffee has never tasted better.

Little did I know that I was also taking steps to improve my health. Soy protein (found in Silk Soy Milk), as part of a diet that is low in saturated fats and cholesterol, may reduce your risk of heart disease and the vanilla flavor contains only 80 calories per serving (great for the waist line). In an effort to inform people about the benefits of soy products and a healthy heart, Silk is sponsoring the Million Hearts Challenge.

The goal of the Million Hearts Challenge is to bring a million hearts together and raise awareness about heart disease (one of the leading causes of death for women). By entering, you not only get the chance to make the heart bigger but you can also register to win a $20,000 Ultimate Weekend Getaway (and who couldn’t use that) or one of 122 $100 American Express Gift Cards. The challenge runs from 1 September 2009 to 31 December 2009, so click here to join my heart.

You can also get some pretty tasty
recipes from Silk

22nd Sep2009

Book Review: Kabul 24 by Henry O. Arnold and Ben Pearson

by Daenel

Kabul 24 tells the story of eight Westerners and their sixteen Muslim co-workers and their three-month long imprisonment by the Taliban in Afghanistan. For three months in 2001, the twenty-four members of Shelter Now International (SNI) are held hostage in the days leading up to the September 11th attacks. This book recounts their interrogations, the sham of a trial before the Taliban Supreme Court and their feelings of abandonment and isolation during their imprisonment. But more than that, this is the story of unwavering faith in something greater than themselves – their faith in God and the belief that their mission was just.

Told from the vantage point of the eight Western aid workers: Peter Bunch, Dayna Curry, Silke Duerrkopf, Katrin Jelinek, Heather Mercer, Margrit Stebner, George Taubmann and Diana Thomas, the humanitarians are ostensibly arrested for trying to convert Muslims to Christianity – a crime punishable by death in the Islamic country. The SNI members are held in virtual isolation from each other, their governments as well as their families, while they are questioned relentlessly. During their 105 days of imprisonment, they are left to wonder if the outside world has any clue as to what is going on with them and if they’ve been abandoned by their governments.
The story opens with the account of an unknown woman (who is only identified as a burka) and her march through the city streets on her way to be executed. Her crime is never mentioned but the feeling of isolation, fear and helplessness are a palpable reflection of the emotions the twenty-four would come to feel.
This book does much to explain the religious and political history of the Taliban and their connection to Osama Bin Laden as well as the origins of sharia law. The customs of the Afghan people are also explained in a way that is sympathetic to them and easy to understand.
I enjoyed this book and was pleasantly surprised to find that it isn’t a “preachy” book about faith but rather a testimony about what can happen when your faith remains unshakeable. That’s not to say the hostages didn’t experience moments of doubt in themselves and their governments but not once did they ever question God or His ability to see them through their imprisonment.
However, I do wonder at the boldness of some of the actions of the hostages in the face of the Taliban who are notorious for their brutality. For example, during one of the interrogation sessions, Diana challenges an interrogator about the Holy Trinity using reason. The interrogator is a brother, a husband and a father, therefore, he is the same man with three roles – the same as God (who is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). I marvelled that the Talib would allow a woman to speak of religious matters, especially in an open setting like a courtroom.
Reading this book made me question my own faith and whether or not I’d have the fortitude to stand up for my convictions no matter what the personal cost. While I’d never doubt my faith in God, I wonder if I could be so unwavering.
I would recommend this book for those who not only have an interest in matters regarding faith but are also interested in Afghan history and the lives of a few people who have had intimate experience with the Taliban.

This is a Thomas Nelson Book Review

22nd Sep2009

Lunch Note Promise

by Daenel

I’m a sappy mom. I admit it. I mean, I talk a good game but when it comes down to it I’m a softie when it comes to my babies. I cry when I look at their baby pictures. I have a small, disgusting, collection of cracked baby teeth in my jewelry box. When they go to sleepovers or field trips, I leave notes in their bags for them to find while they’re away. I also draw goofy pictures to put in their lunches on the days when they take them. So when I stumbled across this site this morning, I thought yeah, I can do that! And so can you.

All you have to do is promise to send a lunch note with your kids and the Lunchables team will send a meal to a child and his or her family through Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. The note can be about anything (offer encouragement, say something funny, be creative) and it can be written on anything (Lunchables is even offering fancy templates on their website).
The goal is to turn up to 100,000 promises into up to 100,000 meals from Lunchables for kids in need, so please make your promise today.

If you take the promise, drop me a line and let me know.

21st Sep2009

Store Review: I Went Clubbin’ at Sam’s

by Daenel

Last week, I blogged that my husband and I finally purchased memberships to Sam’s Club and that I was looking forward to seeing if membership really does have its privileges….

Entering Sam’s is like entering a whole new dimension where time and space cease to exist. It is literally a giant metal and concrete box with shelves and shelves of the most ginormous packaging ever! Some of the boxes of food looked like they could feed a small country for weeks. Really, who knew you could buy a box of Quaker Instant Oatmeal with 55 packs? And in multiple flavors?

So my main goal for this exploratory visit was to get a lay of the land and figure out the savings. I mostly wanted to focus on things that my family consistently runs out of rather quickly – breakfast foods and detergents.

I ended up spending $121.95 on the purchases in the picture, which included:
*Lipton Decaffeinated Tea – 2 boxes, 72 servings
*Kellogg’s Pop Tarts – strawberry flavor, 36 servings
*Quaker Instant Oatmeal – variety pack, 55 servings
*Bisquick Pancake Mix
*Kellogg’s Raisin Bran Cereal – 37 servings
*General Mill’s Lucky Charms – 46 servings
*Welch’s Grape Jelly – 90 servings
*Jiff Extra Crunch Peanut Butter – 70 servings
*Mrs. Butterworth’s Syrup – 64 servings
*Minute Rice – 37 servings
*Sam’s Brand Liquid Laundry Detergent – 110 loads
*Family Pack of Ribs – 2 packs, approximately 6 servings each

Of course, this isn’t enough to feed my family of 6. Did you notice I didn’t purchase vegetables, meats, starches or any of the other little things that keeps a family going between meals? Well, there’s a method to my madness. I want to know how long this will last my family. Each time I make a trip to Sam’s I want to purchase from a different section of the store and see how it compares in price and servings between shopping trips.

Here are some of the things I liked about the shopping at Sam’s:
*the store was neat (for me, neatness counts, especially if I’m buying my food at that location)
*everything was organized for easy browsing
*if you go there hungry, you will be full by the time you leave (they offer samples of just about everything)
*the cashier was incredibly nice and explained everything to me (this was my first time shopping there)
*the line moved very quickly (even though there were a lot of people in the store)
There were a few things that I did not like about shopping at Sam’s:
*there wasn’t a wide variety of food products (for example, my kids love Cookie Crisps and it would have been a major score if I’d brought home a 72 serving box, but they didn’t have any – not sure if they were out or what, I’ll check again next time I go)
*I didn’t know I had to do my own bagging and that I should bring my own bags (while a positive for the environment, a negative if you’re not prepared – although they do have a large supply of boxes if you need somewhere to stow your purchases)
*You have to show your receipt as you’re leaving the store (didn’t know this and the greeter nearly knocked me down to see the receipt which I had stuffed in my purse – hint, treat all customers as if it’s their first visit and they don’t know the rules)
Overall, I’d say this was a productive first trip. Yes, I spent a little over $120 on what seems like a few items, but when you consider the amount of servings and what it would cost for me to purchase the same thing at a traditional store, I’d say Sam’s is worth the initial membership fee (especially if you have a large family).

For a chance to win a free membership to Sam’s, head on over to The Diary of a Poshpreneur

17th Sep2009

Happiness is Having a Beautiful Functioning Kitchen

by Daenel

For the past two weeks, I’ve been tweeting about, blogging about and posting pictures of my kitchen make over in progress. This kitchen redo started off as a simple wish to repaint the kitchen cabinets which were the color of chocolate milk and made my kitchen look dated, country and old – all things that I am not. A couple of days into the project, I decided hmmmm, I think I wanna change the hardware, which led to multiple trips to Lowe’s for new hardware (measure, measure, measure and, oh, count the number of drawers and cabinets you have too). After painting the cabinets, the walls started looking old and dingy, so naturally I had to paint them too. Which, of course, led to the painting of the trim, window sills and the back door. Do you see where this is going?

Anyway, I am now finished. And I have to say, I love my new kitchen. I’m an avid watcher of “Design on a Dime” and other shows that suggest ways to redecorate on a budget. I’m also a big fan of repurposing and shopping in your house for accessories (sometimes moving something from the living room to the bedroom can give it a whole new look). Of course, there are times when you really just have to purchase things, for that I turn to stores like Big Lots, Michael’s Craft Store and Family Dollar (yes! a can of paint can make dollar store finds look like they came from a department store).

The inspiration for my kitchen is a poster that I bought when we first bought the house. Sounds odd, but that’s the best way to redecorate. Find something you love and find a way to incorporate it into your room. If you love the color blue, find a shade that makes you happy and decorate around it (for color suggestions, you can always check out the paint department at Lowe’s). Shows like “Dress My Nest” show you how to use articles of clothing or accessories as inspiration. Give it a try. Even if it seems unconventional, chances are if you love it as a color or article of clothing, you’ll love it as a room.

So tonight I’m making my first dinner in my newly decorated kitchen and I could not be any happier. What’s for dinner, you ask? Fried chicken strips, spinach and Bucatini al Prosciutto….yummy!

15th Sep2009

Moms Rock the Economy

by Daenel

I recently took the Moms Rock the Economy Pledge and I’m hoping that you will do the same. With this pledge, I vow to support mompreneurs by supporting and promoting Mom-owned businesses both in person and on the internet.

Moms Rock the Economy is a collaborative project between Leah Segedie and Kelly Loubet. Leah is the Chief Mom of Bookieboo and Mamavation and Kelly is the designer of Childhood Clothing and moderator for Bookieboo. These were designed to give moms a place to shop for discounts while supporting other moms.
If you decide to take the pledge, please tell others by tweeting your support.
To find out more about Moms Rock the Economy, join us for the Moms Rock the Economy Twitter Party on Thursday, 17 September from 8 PM to 11 PM EST. To follow the tweets for the event, I’ll be using Tweet Grid.
Be sure to follow:

15th Sep2009

5 Fall Fashion Must Haves

by Daenel

As much as I love the summer and the hot weather that comes with it, deep down inside I am a “sweater weather girl.” Honestly, is there anything better than throwing on a chunky sweater, jeans and boots? Grab a funky leather bag and you have a hawt fall fashion look.

General Growth Properties (GPP) Malls, TLC’s “What Not to Wear” and TwitterMoms are running a blogging contest in celebration of the upcoming Shop Smart Look Fab mall event that is taking place at over 140 GPP malls nationwide from 17 to 20 September. The blogging contest asks you to answer the question: “What are your 5 fashion must haves for fall?”

My top fives are:

1. Cute tunic in a neutral color – So versatile, it can be worn with a sweater or layered over a turtleneck on real crisp days. Can also be worn with jeans, skirts or leggings.

2. Sweater dress in a bold color – Short sleeved sweater dresses are wonderful, layer over a white shirt with jeans, leggings or tights and you have a stylish vested look. Or wear on its own with a scarf and flats.

3. Bootcut jeans – I love dark wash bootcut jeans because they can be dressed up or dressed down, worn loose or tucked into a pair of fabulous boots.

4. Cargo bag – I am a bag girl through and through. Ok, I love shoes too. But there is nothing better than a neutral bag to tie a look together. The one I carry is olive and can be worn with everything. Remember, bags do not have to match your clothes, they just have to go with your clothes.

5. Fabulous boots – I wear these boots with everything: skirts, pants, jeans, leggings, etc. They have a nice stable heel (I love a heel) and they add just enough funk to an outfit.

*Bonus – a well-fitting foundation piece. If the girls do not have adequate lift and support, the whole outfit fails. Remember, they should be centered between your shoulders and your elbows and everything should be pointing in the same direction.

What are your top 5 fall fashion must haves? Do you have a favorite fall outfit that you can’t wait to wear? If so, go here and join the contest for the chance to be one of fifty bloggers to win a $25 GPP gift card to use to purchase a fab fall find. The contest officially ends on 20 September 2009 with the winners announced on 24 September 2009.

14th Sep2009

Losing My Childhood

by Daenel

This has been a tough year for those of us who grew up in the eighties. We lost John Hughes, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Naomi Sims, Ricardo Montalban, Walter Conkrite and, now, Patrick Swayze. These people were more than celebrities – they defined our childhood, gave teenage boys someone to fantasize about, made us sing in harmony, showed us that black is beautiful, taught us that reality is better than fantasy, provided calm during the storm and helped us move out of the corner. Every movie, every soundtrack, every picture, every word has shaped the people that we’ve become.

So rather than mourn their deaths, I’d like to toast their lives….Cheers and thanks for the memories!

13th Sep2009

Sam’s Club: Buying in Bulk

by Daenel

Today my husband and I finally took the plunge and purchased a Sam’s Club membership. You’d think since we have 4 teenagers and a dog who thinks he’s a teenager that we would have done this a long time ago.

So what prompted us to make that move? Waking up to no breakfast cereal, even though I just purchased 6 boxes of cereal on Wednesday of last week. My kids can throw down when it comes to cereal.
Before purchasing a membership, we decided to take a walk around the store and see if the ROI would be worth it for us. Holy smokes! I’ve seen the satire on the tv shows but I was not prepared for the big honkin’ boxes of Pop Tarts. I was impressed – my kids LOVE Pop Tarts. And the price wasn’t bad but what sold me was the big box of Cookie Crisps for a little under $5. Cookie Crisps and Pop Tarts are major deals in my family.
I wanted to go the “cheap route” and purchase the Sam’s Club Advantage membership for $40 but my husband figured with the size of our family we should go with the Advantage Plus membership for $100. This membership offers all the privileges of the Advantage membership – shopping at Sam’s Club Stores nationwide, along with a complimentary health and medical discount card (not sure how I’ll use this but I’ll figure out if it’s worth it), special eValues that are loaded directly onto the card (these values are based on previous purchases), as well as other little bonuses.
I’ve tried using coupons to cut back on the food bill (which, by the way, averages between $250 and $275 every two weeks, with runs to the store for little things like eggs, milk, sugar, etc) but there never seem to be coupons for the things my family actually eats. I have no idea who those women are who buy $170 worth of groceries for $40 bucks using coupons. Really? What are they eating?
So tomorrow the plan is to use my new membership and do some grocery shopping. In order for my membership to be worth the money, I have to be able to purchase enough food to last my family for 2 weeks for less than $250. This means that all of those bulk purchases will have to last and my family will have to like what I purchase.
Here are some websites I checked for tips on shopping at Sam’s Club (you can take the girl out of the library but you can’t take the library out of the girl – I still do my research):
Mommy Savers – offers reader tips for the best Sam’s Club buys
Fiddledeedee – takes readers on a shopping trip to her local Sam’s Club
Now to make the grocery list….

13th Sep2009

Small Talk Six Tastes Like Chocolate

by Daenel

It’s time for “Small Talk Six on Saturday.” Only I’m a day late and a dollar short. Again. Next week I will do this on Saturday. Promise. Sad thing is, I’m not doing anything on Saturday that keeps me from participating in this meme on the correct day. *sigh*

Anyway, today’s theme is: “6 Things I Think Would Be Yummy If They Were Covered in Chocolate.”

Ohhhh, the places I could go with this…..but I won’t because, well, this is a family blog. *wink*

I suspect that my choices here should be fun, quirky and totally out of the box. I’m not that creative. I’m almost certain that my friend Paula, the Nutella Queen, could probably come up with some really interesting combinations.

So here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Sponge cake or any cake for that matter. Plain cake is such a waste.
2. Peppermint candy of any sort. Minty chocolatey goodness.
3. Potato chips. The combination of salty and sweet? Yum!
4. Apple slices and banana chips. Fruit should always be covered in chocolate.
5. Prosciutto. Again the combination of salty and sweet.
6. Shrimp puffs dipped in wasabi and chocolate. Spicy fried seafood with a chocolate edge.

Want to know what others had to say? Check out Trisha’s ideas (roasted chestnuts, anyone?), Mrs. Zee suggests vitamins (a spoonful of sugar, right?) and Ellie thinks Wheat Thins would be tasty (everyone seems to love salty and sweet, huh?)….

11th Sep2009

How Will You Remember?

by Daenel

*Warning clicking on some of the links will take you to graphic images*
There has been some discussion about how September 11th should be memorialized. Should it remain a day of solemn remembrance or become a National Day of Service? Should we focus on the hard images or only the patriotic ones? Should we keep the anger we felt on that day or move to a place of forgiveness?
I’m not certain what the correct answer is. Maybe there isn’t one. The only thing I know for sure is that we can never forget what happened that day and it is up to each of us to decide for ourselves how we will choose to remember.
I choose to remember by thinking about where I was when I heard the news that our country was under attack and how I felt watching the death and destruction unfold before my eyes. This morning, I heard Representative Chris Carney say that we should go on living in “defiant normalcy” and I believe that is how we should go on….Never forgetting but living in defiant normalcy.

10th Sep2009

HGTV Should Have a Disclaimer

by Daenel

I sat at home all day Monday afternoon watching HGTV and decided, after watching numerous make over shows, I can do that! My kitchen’s been needing an update for a while now, it’s a bit too country for me. Yeah, I did it but I was going for exotic but I missed the boat…big time!

So I came up with a plan:

1. Paint the lower cabinets black and replace all the old white hardware with stainless hardware for a chic modern look
2. Paint the upper cabinets coffee bean brown and replace that hardware so it matches the lower cabinets
3. Sit back and enjoy my handiwork

This did not happen. What really happened was:

1. Counted the drawers and cabinet doors for my trip to Lowe’s
2. Arrived at Lowe’s checked my notes, and thought, hmmmm, do I really have that many cabinets? Did a mental check and decided I must have counted wrong and bought too few of everything. Eyeballed the hinges and thought ooooohhhhhh, pretty, they’ll fit. They didn’t.
3. Purchased paint (Dark Kettle Black), supplies and hardware
4. Removed all the doors, drawers and hardware and started painting.
5. Watched a little tv while I waited for the paint to dry and, guess what, the cabinets stuck to the floor, the plastic and the paper that I had them drying on
6. After an hour and a half of peeling…And a trip to Lowe’s for new hinges
7. I started attaching the new hardware and, guess what, I didn’t have enough hardware either. Back to Lowe’s
8. Purchased the new hardware, hung the lower cabinets and realized that I DID NOT want to paint the upper cabinets brown but olive
9. I drove back out to Lowe’s to pick up the new paint color, Night Safari, came home and started painting
10. The casing is olive and, after much discussion with the husband, the doors are going to be black with the silver hardware
11. Now that I’m almost finished, I’ve looked at the walls and trim and decided they need updating too

So what was supposed to be a two day project has turned into a week long endurance test that has me making multiple trips to Lowe’s and evicting my family and dog from the kitchen. My plan now is to finish painting the doors (it is now 11:20 PM) and then make another trip to Lowe’s to get wall and trim colors.

Let this be a warning to all, it’s really not as easy as it looks on tv.

10th Sep2009

Even If You Don’t Respect the Man…

by Daenel

…You respect the position. That was one of the first things I learned when I joined the Army. Other lessons centered on self control and discipline. Now I’m wondering if members of Congress shouldn’t have to go through 6 weeks of Basic Training before they’re allowed anywhere near the halls of Congress.

I was listening to President Obama’s speech on the radio when he stated illegal immigrants would not be covered under his healthcare plan when I heard a man yell out: “You lie!” Later, I learned that man is GOP Congressman Joe Wilson.

Rep. Wilson shouts to Obama during speech: ‘You lie’ – CNN.com#cnnSTCVideo#cnnSTCVideo#cnnSTCVideo

In the military, soldiers are taught to salute when they encounter someone who out ranks them. This is not an option, it’s an obligation. It’s a sign of respect for the individual’s position. Now I’m not saying the president should be saluted by members of Congress but I am saying there is a certain amount of respect, civility and decorum that is due the position. It is absolutely well within Congressman Wilson’s right to challenge President Obama on the healthcare issue but the manner in which it was done is inexcusable.

I know Sen. Wilson has since apologized for his actions by saying that his emotions got the best of him. Hmmmmm….what happens the next time his emotions get the best of him? Will he whip out a cane? Seriously, Mr. Wilson, it’s about respect for the office, but it’s also about self control and discipline – learn it, live it, love it!


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