Monday, November 28, 2011

Unexpected Blessings

On the heels of a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, I have to post about two unexpected blessings I received recently. A little over a month ago I had a ticket to an event that I was not going to be able to use. The ticket was paid for long ago and when I discovered I couldn't go it was far too late for a refund. I offered the ticket up to a fantastic group of women and Andrea Updyke of Lil-Kid-Things was able to take advantage of it. I was so glad the ticket wasn't going to be wasted.
Fast forward to Monday, November 14th. I was frantically trying to get my life in order before my mom had surgery on the 15th.  I was in a horrible mood because there was no way I was going to get everything done that I wanted to. I am my own worst enemy sometimes. I was on the verge of falling apart when I brought my kids home from school. The house was a mess, there was laundry to do, and I hadn't planned anything for dinner. Just when I was ready to scream, the UPS driver showed up. A small box was deposited on my front porch. A small box from the Disney Store (even better!) Inside that little pixie-dusted box?

Tinkerbell Sleep Tee
photo by Amy Hodges

Andrea sent me this fabulous Tinkerbell Sleep T-Shirt! It was completely unexpected and so fantastic. It's even sparkly! I know it's a small thing, but small things have the power to completely change your perspective. I so needed that splash of fun on that day. It was also a powerful reminder that when you put good into the world, good is what comes back to you! Thank you, Andrea!


Fast forward again to the week before Thanksgiving. Mom's surgery was successful and she has been recovering well. She was and is still restricted on lifting and driving so I was trying to help get everything ready for Thanksgiving. My house was still a mess (surprise,) laundry still needed to be done, but I had planned some of what I was fixing. My sister, my sister-in-law, and I were fixing the various dishes for our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I had decided I wanted to make a cheese spread to have around during the weekend. We had a delicious spread for an open house at work recently so I asked for the recipe. Instead of emailing or dropping off the recipe, my friend dropped this off at work for me. 

Cheese Spread
photo by Amy Hodges

In the midst of my craziness, it was such a blessing to have this cheese spread just magically appear. The friend responsible (you know who you are) added a moment of peace to my life. She put love out into the world. Now I get to figure out how to pay it back AND pass it on. I hope during the upcoming holiday madness that you are on the receiving end of unexpected blessings, and I hope you are able to pass them on. 


Friday, November 18, 2011

The Muppets Movie Review

Muppets_1-sht_v4.indd
It has been another crazy week so I was thrilled to escape last night and go see an early screening of The Muppets (even better that a good friend was able to join me!) It's no secret that I have been gleefully anticipating this movie since it was announced. I remember going to the first Muppet Movie. I was twelve years old when the first movie was released in the summer of 1979. I went to see the movie with our group from church at the Oleander Drive Cinema 3, which is now the IRS building. The Muppets have always had humor that ranged from clever, subtle jokes to the obvious~I'm looking at you Fozzie Bear! The success of the Muppets came not only because they were funny, but because all of their stories have heart. Somewhere in the Muppet saga you will always find a thread about sticking together and the importance of families.
The new movie focuses on the story of brothers Gary(Jason Segel) and Walter, and Gary's girlfriend Mary(Amy Adams.) I admit to being skeptical when I heard that Segel was co-starring and co-writing the movie(with Nicolas Stoller.) I have always found Segel funny, but wasn't sure he was a good fit for the Muppets. This is before I realized what a Muppet fan Segel is. In a quote provided by Walt Disney Pictures from Segel "it started when I was a kid. The Muppets were my first comic influence and I was in love with puppetry. I just thought it was an amazing art form." "All comedy writers are Muppet fans," adds Stoller. "It's the gateway to comedy." The script is fantastic and stays true to the Muppets philosophy. Segel also makes a great lead. He's earnest enough to pull it off. Amy Adams is charming and makes the most of her role in the movie. Chris Cooper is the perfect villain trying to destroy Muppet Studios. I don't want to give away too much of the plot but The Muppets did not disappoint this longtime fan. There are the classic cameos (not giving them away~even though I'm very tempted), classic songs (the Rainbow Connection makes me happy!), and great new songs. Bret McKenzie(HBO's Flight of the Conchords) wrote and produced three original songs for the movie including "Life's a Happy Song" and the awesome "Man or Muppet." The movie stayed true to the Muppet tradition while still growing to meet a new audience.
The Muppets is rated PG for mild, rude humor and is aimed at everyone from "8 to 80." The Muppets opens nationwide on November 23rd. I highly recommend it. Just in case you're wondering if I only like it because I've always like the Muppets? The friend I brought with me wasn't even born when the first movie came out and she loved it too. Go see it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fleischmann's Simply Homemade Bread

I am a baker. I love to bake cakes and cookies from scratch. I do not, however, bake bread. Before last week I had never made bread. Well, I have made quick breads that don't require yeast. Yeast always made me nervous. You have to have your water at the right temperature, there is rising and kneading and all sorts of opportunities for me to mess it up. Enter my new favorite product, Fleischmann's Simply Homemade Bread. My friends at Mommy Parties and Mom Select offered me the chance to host a party for my friends to check out the Simply Homemade product line. My girl friends were already meeting at another friend's house(SCORE~I didn't have to clean my house!!) so I took the bread there.
I left work at around 5:15, got home around 5:30, spent some time with my husband and my kids then started to make bread. I think I started around 6. By 7:15 I was walking out my door with TWO loaves of fresh homemade bread.
photo (13) photo (14)
We have just started to have some cool fall weather, so the lovely warm bread I brought into our gathering was a hit. No one was more surprised than I that I made bread and it tasted fantastic. I made the Italian Herb bread and the Multi Grain bread. There are several varieties and each one offers suggestions of mix-ins. Fleischmann's was very kind and sent potholders and coupons for my friends. I love my friend for so many reasons, but one reason is they get excited about the small things, like potholders, just like I do!
photo (11)
The bread took no time at all to disappear. It was halfway gone before I was able to get a picture of it!
yummy bread

My daughter and I made a video of our breadmaking experience too!

Thank you to Fleischmann's for the bread mixes, potholders and coupons. Thank you to Mommy Parties and Mom Select for the opportunity. The product was provided but my opinions remain my own and are not influenced by product received. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Muppets ~ New Trailer

It's turning out to be a very Muppet day here! Walt Disney Pictures has just released the second official trailer for The Muppets.

The Muppets movie ~ Statler and Waldorf

Statler and Waldorf
photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

It's no secret that I am incredibly excited about the upcoming movie, The Muppets. Walt Disney Pictures has just released an interview with two of my favorite Muppets, Statler and Waldorf. In their usual fashion, Statler and Waldorf offer movie-goers advice.

STATLER & WALDORF’S
GUIDE TO GOING TO THE MOVIES

With Disney’s “The Muppets” coming out in theaters soon, Statler and Waldorf offer unsolicited advice and a whole lot of laughs about what to watch for at the theater.

STATLER:             When going to see a movie starring the Muppets, 
                                 always get a good seat…
WALDORF:            …one that doesn’t face the screen!


WALDORF:            If you arrive late for your movie, stick around…
STATLER:            …they’ll be releasing a sequel soon!


STATLER:            Never get a bucket of popcorn that’s larger than
                                your car.


WALDORF:            Don’t talk on your cell phone during the movie….
STATLER:            ...it might wake us up!


WALDORF:            If you have to explain everything in the movie to 
                                 the person you’re sitting next to…
STATLER:            …welcome to my world.


WALDORF:            Sometimes the movie is not out of focus—you are.


STATLER:            Don’t talk back to the movie…
WALDORF:            …that’s our job!


WALDORF:            If you don’t have anything nice to say about a movie…
STATLER:            …sit next to us!


STATLER:            Spoiler Alert—The Muppets are in Disney’s
                                “The Muppets.”
WALDORF:            Don’t say you haven’t been warned.


To see Statler and Waldorf in the balcony (where they belong) and other Muppets, check out http://disney.go.com/muppets/portfolio/homepage.html.

The Muppets opens on November 23, 2011. See you there!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Disney Moms Panel 2012 ~ Maybe Next Year


For the fifth time I applied to be on the 2012 Disney Moms Panel and for the fifth time it was not my year. I will be applying next year for the 2013 Disney Moms Panel, which either makes me persistent or insane!  If you have Disney travel planning questions be sure to check out the Moms Panel, they have fantastic Moms and Dads answering all kinds of questions!

Prayer to Start the Day

Sunrise at Wrightsville Beach, NC
photo by Amy Hodges

I am not a morning person. At all. Seriously. My children have beaten me down and now I do wake up earlier than ever, but I am not happy about it. I struggle with my mood in the morning. I have realized that how I approach the morning hours has a significant impact on how my family's day starts. Several years ago, a good friend shared a beautiful prayer with me. The prayer comes from the Iona Community in Scotland (have I told you I'm a Presbyterian?) This is my prayer to start the day.


Eternal God
Throughout this day,
Enliven our minds,
Inspire our conversation,
Inform our decisions,
And protect those we love.
And should today bring
What we neither anticipate nor desire,
Increase our faith and decrease our pride
Until we know that,
When we face the unexpected,
 We do not stand alone.
Hear these prayers
Made in the presence and in the name
Of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

I hope that whatever you believe, your days start in an amazing way. Thank you to the lovely Amy-Kim KyremesParks for always sharing the love!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

18 Years of Love~Wordless Wednesday

October 11 1993
photo by Amy Hodges

My husband and I went on our first date (which neither of us considered a date) eighteen years ago. Unbelievable.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

WICKED on Broadway


Last weekend I had the opportunity to travel to New York City to attend the She Streams conference. She Streams is for women bloggers who are already, or would like to be, using video on their websites. The conference started Friday morning so lots of people made arrangements to arrive in New York on Thursday. My friend Erin Lane of A Parenting Production asked if anyone was interested in seeing a show. I was definitely interested plus Shannon Ott of Philly Burb Moms and Colleen Padilla of Classy Mommy were up for it so we all made plans to go see WICKED.

Outside of the Gershwin
Erin Lane and I photo by Amy Hodges


Shannon and Colleen at the Gershwin
Shannon and Colleen photo by Amy Hodges


From the official website, WICKED the Musical is "winner of 35 awards including a Grammy and 3 Tony Awards. WICKED is the untold story of the witches of Oz. Long before Dorothy drops in, two other girls meet in the land of Oz. One, born with emerald-green skin, is smart, fiery, and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious, and very popular. WICKED tells the story of their remarkable odyssey, how these two unlikely friends grow to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good." It was also, AMAZING. I loved every minute of it. But then the best part happened.

oh fine
Live at the Gershwin Theatre, one night and one night only, ME! photo by Amy Hodges


Erin has a friend who has a friend performing in WICKED right now and we were able to go backstage. I'm not going to give his name here, even though he's ridiculously handsome and one of my favorite people right now. We might have handled some of the props and I would hate for him to get in trouble.

The Wizard's potion
I may or may not be drinking the Wizard's elixir. photo by Amy Hodges


It was a night I will NOT forget.
More to come soon about the conference. In the meantime, if you have the opportunity either on Broadway or a touring show, go see WICKED. It helped me finally put my flying monkey issues to bed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Muppets ~ Interview with Kermit the Frog!


muppet movie
titles courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

With The Muppet Movie opening this Thanksgiving, Walt Disney Pictures was kind enough to share this interview with Kermit the Frog. I was most interested to hear how he felt about working with Jason Segal and the state of his relationship with Miss Piggy. 
THE MUPPETS
image courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

A CONVERSATION WITH KERMIT THE FROG…

Why should audiences see Disney’s “The Muppets”?
It’s funny, upbeat and full of laughs for everyone… frogs, pigs, bears… even people.
For new fans, it’s a chance to see the Muppets in action on the big screen. And for old fans, it’s a chance to get together with old friends… and get a little crazy together.


What is Disney’s “The Muppets” about?
Well, it’s the story of this incredible Muppet fan named Walter who comes to Hollywood to meet us… and ends up having to get all the Muppets back together to put on a show and save Muppet Studios.

I guess it’s the first Muppet movie that’s really from the point of view of a fan. Jason Segel, who is a really big Muppet fan in real life, co-wrote the movie. He wanted to show what it would be like if the world’s biggest Muppet fan—along with his brother Gary (played by Jason) and friend Mary (played by Amy Adams)—came to Hollywood to meet us.

What is your role in Disney’s “The Muppets”?
I play me, Kermit the Frog. I’ve played other parts, like Bob Crachit in “A Muppet Christmas Carol” and Captain Smollett in “Muppet Treasure Island,” but I think “me” is my favorite part.

Playing a frog named Kermit might be type casting, but there aren’t a lot of great parts for amphibians, so I was happy to get the part.

In the movie—and in life, really—I’m a humble frog in Hollywood who wants to get back together with his friends and keep entertaining people.  


How does your life differ from the characters you play in the films?
Well, on the big screen. I’m 16 feet tall. But in real life, it’s closer to 18 inches. So, I’d have to say the biggest difference is more height—and better lighting.

Seriously, though, my life on screen and off screen is about the same. In real life and on film, I’m surrounded by chaos, craziness, and romantic pigs—just like any other Hollywood star.


Why did you want to take part in this film?
I understand they considered other actors—George Clooney, Tom Hanks. But in the end, when it comes to playing short, green and amphibious, I’m still Hollywood’s go-to guy. According to director James Bobin, when I read for the role of “me,” I nailed it.


What is the funniest scene in the film?
I like the scene where everything goes crazy and no one knows what to do. It’s total mad chaos…..Hmm, come to think of it, that describes most of the movie.

I can’t pick JUST one scene—all the other scenes would get jealous. But I really do like the big finale. Lots of singing, dancing, laughing… and, I don’t want to spoil it, but it’s happy, too.


What was it like working opposite Jason Segel?
Jason is not only a great comedian, but as a co-writer of the movie, he’s great to work with. If you forget your lines, he can make up new ones.

Jason’s a swell guy. He really loved the Muppets before we worked together…and he still loves us after. That’s a true fan. And he has such a fantastic sense of humor. He can find funny everywhere… even in Fozzie’s act.

…Chris Cooper?
Chris plays the villain, Tex Richman, yet he’s really the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. That’s an incredible feat: being a good guy and playing a bad guy. When it comes to acting, it’s not that easy being mean.

…Amy Adams?
Amy is incredible. She’s so beautiful and talented and funny. I’d love to make every movie with her…. but Miss Piggy won’t let me.

She’s also a great actress: she can sing and dance, and she has three Academy Award® nominations. I’m hoping she gets an Oscar® for Disney’s “The Muppets.” If not, I’m willing to paint myself gold and stand on her mantle.

…Miss Piggy?
I have to say: working with Miss Piggy is always a pleasure. I have to say that ‘cause she makes me say it.

This was a different kind of movie for us. Normally, Piggy and I are together right from the start. But in Disney’s “The Muppets,” Miss Piggy is over in Paris and we have to go get her. That was challenging for me. France is tough for frogs… with legs.


What’s the deal with you and Miss Piggy? Are you still together?
Miss Piggy and I have a professional relationship. I think we’re professionals; she thinks we’re in a relationship.

Actually, Miss Piggy and I are good friends, but just friends. We like each other a great deal, but we are not romantically involved—despite her best efforts.


Describe director James Bobin.
James has a quirky sense of humor. Just watch his work on “Flight of the Conchords” and you can see this isn’t someone who sees the world like everyone else. Not being normal helps when you work with the Muppets. He’s a consummate professional—and we’re not, so we really needed him.


What is your advice for up-and-coming frogs/actors?
Never say croak.

To make a rainbow connection with Kermit the Frog, check out http://disney.go.com/muppets/portfolio/kermit/videos.html.

Don't forget the movie opens on November 23, 2011. I'll see you there!

THE MUPPET Teaser One-Sheet

 image courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

Sunday, September 18, 2011

More than I can handle ~ Stream of Conciousness Sunday

#SOCsunday

It's time for Stream of Consciousness Sunday! My friend Fadra at All Things Fadra hosts this weekly meme where you time yourself and write for 5 minutes. Don't edit, just write. If you would like to join in, please visit her site for rules and a link up!

I am being a little crazy today. I'm taking on a beloved person and a beloved quote. Mother Theresa, and "God won't give you more than you can handle" or some variation on that theme. I cannot stand when people throw that one out there. I understand that they are trying to be helpful. They are usually trying to remind a friend that they are stronger than they believe. God believes you are strong enough. I do subscribe to the idea that God believes we are strong, and gives us strength when we have no more left, but I do not believe God gives us certain trials. I believe there are things that are of this world and they are not of God. Cancer is one of those things. I believe that God does NOT choose certain people to give cancer to. I believe that cancer is of our world and born out of decisions made over thousands of years of free will. 

I do believe that whatever trial you are walking through, cancer, financial troubles, depression, ill health of yourself or anyone you know, I believe that God walks through that with you, right by your side. AND I believe that God gives you friends to walk that path with you. At the end of the day, the world will give you terrible things, but God will give you tools and love to walk through it.

Many thanks to Fadra for hosting!





Friday, September 16, 2011

Bridesmaids Movie ~ Great Excuse for Girls Night

Title Treatment
bridesmaids_22
Photo credit Suzanne Hanover NBC/Universal


The movie Bridesmaids is being released on BluRay and DVD this Tuesday. THIS TUESDAY! If you didn't see it, I highly recommend that you do. Bridesmaids is the story of Annie (Kristen Wiig) and how her unravelling life deconstructs when her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) gets engaged. Oh yeah, and it's a comedy. It seriously is one of the funniest movies I've seen in a while. Annie is kind of a mess so I relate to her.

BRIDESMAIDS
Photo credit Suzanne Hanover NBC/Universal

Just like everyone else, my life is a little crazy. Just when I think I have a handle on things, a schedule figured out, my house cleaned up, it seems like a bomb of chaos is dropped on me. Most of the time I get down on myself because I think I should roll with the punches better. BUT, that's not the way real life is. What I have to remember is that everyone has a crazy life. You know what makes this crazy life more fun? Spending time with my girlfriends. I don't do it enough. We are all busy and forget to make time just to laugh with each other.


Photo credit Amy Hodges


When NBC Universal offered to help me host a party for the Bridesmaids release I jumped at the chance. What a great excuse for a Girl's Night. We have a video projector and a huge playroom (we're kicking out the kids for the night.) NBC Universal sent a great box of goodies to help the party along. Using their recipe I made some "Bridesmaids Party Punch" with Yellow Tail Shiraz for tonight. We have put up decorations and made some fun food. Now it's time to wait for my girls!

I'll post later this weekend with pictures of the food and fun!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Marie Callender's Lasagna

The scene is the same almost every day. 5 o'clock rolls around and no one is bringing me a glass of wine, no one is meeting my husband at the door with a martini. The kids probably haven't done their homework, and are probably in need of showers. The pets are even circling the kitchen, knowing that dinner time is approaching. My husband and I look at each other and ask at the same time "What do you want to do for dinner?" Does it happen this way in your house? We don't plan ahead. We usually have the makings for a few of our favorite meals so we can throw something together, but we end up playing Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who has to choose and cook. This week we added a new quick meal to our arsenal, Marie Callender's Three Meat and Four Cheese Lasagna.

Yep, frozen lasagna. My husband and I worked with young people for twenty years and frozen lasagna is one of those "go-to meals" for youth groups. Countless times I have prepared several large trays of lasagna and waited for them to cook through. It took FOREVER and there were always several tall young people surrounding me wondering when they would be able to eat. The lasagnas were edible, but not something I would choose for my family. I was skeptical when I received the coupon from Marie Callender for the lasagna. Could a frozen lasagna win me over?


Photo by Amy Hodges

This past week has been a little crazy in my house. School has started and we are learning the rhythm and routine of a new schedule. 4 different family members had birthdays so we had big birthday dinners. After the hoopla we found ourselves on Thursday needing something for dinner and we were all hungry. I was thrilled when I remembered we had the lasagna in the freezer. I was even more excited to learn it only takes about 19 minutes to prepare (14 minutes in the microwave and 5 to sit before you serve.) This is another place I was skeptical. I have never liked cooking pasta dishes in the microwave. I think it makes the pasta mushy. While the lasagna cooked I had time to make a salad and toast a few pieces of garlic bread.

I actually enjoyed the lasagna. The pasta was firm and there was a good balance of ingredients. Marie Callender's has developed a new baking tray that allows for a more "homemade" taste. There was enough spice to add great flavor without being overwhelming. I was very happy about that because my kids protest if foods are too spicy. I only had one complaint about the lasagna, it was on the small side. I have a growing teenager who is currently a bottomless pit. I would love to have the option of buying a larger lasagna instead of 2 smaller ones.  The one we had was gone immediately with my family of four.


Photo by Amy Hodges (I couldn't even get a picture before someone got a serving)


More information from Marie Callender's about the lasagna,
"According to a national taste test, Marie Callender’s Three Meat and Four Cheese Lasagna is preferred over Stouffer’s 19 oz. Lasagna with Meat & Sauce by consumers two to one. Marie Callender’s delicious blend of meats and cheeses combined with its unique baking tray creates a homemade tasting meal you can be proud to serve to your family" You can find other information on the Marie Callender's Meals website.

I will be buying the Marie Callender's Three Meat and Four Cheese Lasagna again. I like having something hearty on hand that can be prepared quickly. I might even check out some of their chicken dishes.

The Motherhood supplied me with a coupon for the lasagna and is compensating me for my time. As always opinions expressed in my post are mine, all mine. 


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl~Wordless Wednesday

Hooray for Disney!
photo by Amy Hodges 2006
Eleven years ago this delight came screaming into the world. Happy Birthday my sweet girl!

Friday, August 26, 2011

National Toilet Paper Day

Charmin is celebrating National Toilet Paper Day by breaking a world record. Seriously. You can go to their Facebook page and check it out. They have broken the Guiness World Record for the largest roll of toilet paper. {insert your own potty jokes here}
I have to admit that we are fans of Charmin in our house. At the Blogher Conference Charmin brought the always squeezable Charmin Bear and an enormous toilet. You know I couldn't miss that photo opportunity!

And of course I couldn't leave it with just a somewhat serious picture. (How can it be too serious when you're sitting on an enormous toilet.)

So I leave you with that! Any of you in the path of Hurricane Irene, please stay safe. Have you bought your water, batteries, and toilet paper?

I was not compensated for this post. I simply couldn't resist having an excuse to post these pictures. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Hurricane is coming, what now?

NASA Satellite Captures Hurricane Igor
photo by Nasa Goddard Photo and Video of Hurricane Igor last year


I decided to write out a few of my suggestions because my vlog turned out to be so long! The first and most important thing I want to say is you cannot over-prepare. If you get supplies and don't end up needing them, what have you lost? If we don't have a significant storm or loss of power, we just use our hurricane batteries, food and water over the next several months. Here are some of my thoughts on what to do if a hurricane is coming to your area.
  1. Don't forget that hurricane strength winds can last until a storm is well inland. Just because you are not along the immediate coast does not mean you shouldn't prepare. Just ask Charlotte, NC about Hurricane Hugo. 
  2. If you can't park your car in your garage, park it car out of range of trees, even if it means parking it in the middle of your beautiful lawn. Some trees break off and some uproot and fall. You can't move your house but you can safeguard your car. 
  3. Be sure to gas up your car. If you have to evacuate, you don't want to have to stop for gas. If your area suffers significant damage, it might be several days before gas stations have power to pump gas.
  4. Food supplies for 3 days and water(a gallon per person per day)for 7 days. We also make sure we have propane for the grill. If we lose power we can grill meats from the freezer before they go bad. 
  5. Take a walk around your house and see what a storm might pick up. Potted plants, birdfeeders, lawn chairs all need to go inside. Put your kids to work and let them help with this.
  6. Find your insurance information and put it in a safe accessible place. If you are close to an area that might experience a storm surge, put important documents and valuables in a waterproof tote and put it on the highest floor of your house. 
I also wanted to share a few tips from Verizon Wireless. These are helpful since so many of us communicate mainly through our wireless devices.

    • Weather widgets and local TV stations' apps for smartphones and tablets can keep people updated on what the weather is doing if they’ve lost power in their house and can’t watch the news.
    • Limit non-emergency calls to conserve battery power and free up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations.
    • Send brief text messages rather than making voice calls for the same reasons.
    • Don't leave the house without car-chargers to ensure you have back-up power.
    • Keep phones, laptops, PDAs, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location.
    • Forward your home phone calls to your wireless number if you have to evacuate.

    My last words about hurricanes. Just because you have never seen something happen in your area doesn't mean it can't happen. Please listen to the advice of your emergency management officials and keep yourselves and your families safe!

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011

    Prepare for a Hurricane

    Our community has been watching the weather this week wondering what Hurricane Irene is going to do. It currently looks like we will miss the worst of this storm but the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the northeastern states look like they are in danger. The Outer Banks residents are used to having to prepare for  a hurricane, but the residents of the northeast have not been threatened with a storm like this for several years. This video contains my best advice on how to prepare for a hurricane. I hope that Hurricane Irene will continue to curve so it will go out to sea. Just in case the storm hits, it never hurts to be prepared.

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    Pie for Mikey

    Yesterday all over the blogosphere families made Peanut Butter Pie. It was the recipe of the day on FoodNetwork.com. CNN picked up the story. Why oh why was Peanut Butter Pie such a big story? It is and was a gesture of love. It's that simple. Jennifer Perillo is a food writer and blogger. Last week Jennifer's husband Mikey collapsed and died from a massive heart attack, leaving her without the love of her life and father of her two young children. In a week filled with pain, she reached out on her website, In Jennie's Kitchen. So many people had asked what they could do. She simply asked asked that on Friday, when they would be having a service to honor Mikey, "make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there's no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on." 


    I made the peanut butter cream pie last night and today will enjoy it with my family. I can guarantee there will be hugs. 


    Pie for Mikey

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    The Help Movie Review & Giveaway

    the help

    I have been anxiously anticipating seeing the movie "The Help" since I heard they were making the movie. I read Kathryn Stockett's novel quickly and loved it. She addressed such a tricky emotional topic with a careful respectful depth that was refreshing. The book did not back away from the ugliness that took place during the civil rights struggle. I was so curious to see how the book translated to the screen.
    We've all done that, right? We've gone to see a movie based on a book and walked out disappointed. It's actually not very fair. An author has an almost unlimited number of pages to develop characters and storylines and a director has around 120 minutes. It is an almost impossible achievement for a movie to live up to the promise of a beloved novel.

    THE HELP

    The Help lives up to its promise. Whether or not you have read this book, you are going to enjoy this movie. You will laugh and more than likely, you will cry. I was able to see an early screening of the movie while at the Blogher conference in San Diego last weekend. At one sponsor's booth I had fake eyelashes put on. Big mistake. When I walked out of the movie it looked like two spiders had attacked my eyes. The Help movie lovingly portrays the complicated relationships between women during the sixties. The bigger picture is the heartbreaking civil rights struggle, but underneath it also explores how much we try to live up to one another and the idea of how our lives should be.
    I hope you go see this movie and I hope it moves you. I loved the movie so much that I am hosting a giveaway for The Help. Just add a comment below and you can win this fabulous prize pack from Dreamworks Pictures.

    help shirt help pocket jotter help fan TheHelp-NailFileCreditCard

    The prize package includes a woman's size tshirt (S-M-L-XL), a pocket jotter and pen, a paper fan, and a combination mirror and nail file. All you have to do to enter the contest is leave a comment below. That's it!  I will enter all of the commenters at Random.com and select a winner. Be sure that if you comment as anonymous you give me a way to contact you if you win. The contest will run from today, 8/10/11 to Tuesday, 8/16/11 at noon. Once announced the winner will have 24 hours to respond or I will select  another winner. Good Luck and GO SEE THIS MOVIE!

    Disclosure: I saw this movie courtesy of Dreamworks pictures and was given a small Help themed gift pack. Dreamworks Pictures is providing the prize package for this giveaway. As always opinions are my very own. 


    **EDITED TO ADD**
    I have been thinking about this all day which told me I had to come back and add this. When I say above that the film "lovingly portrayed" I wanted to make sure I was understood. The setting of this movie was an ugly time for our nation. I felt like the filmakers did a good job of showing where the strength was in this movie. It was not with the bridge playing ladies who showed off for one another and treated "the help" so poorly. The strength in this story resides with "the help" who showed courage,dignity, and sisterhood in the face of humiliation and discrimination. "Lovingly portrayed" meant that love and care were given to tell their story well.
    And? Whoever did the casting for the film should win an award as should Viola Davis.

    **AND THE WINNER IS**
    Random.org selected lucky number 5, Scottie! I already know your information so your prize pack will be on its way soon! Thank you everyone for entering and I hope you've gone to see the movie!

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Swiffer at Blogher ~ Hanging out at the Space Bar

    Lots of posts coming this week about Blogher and my review tomorrow of The Help, but a fun Wordless Wednesday picture today. Proctor and Gamble had the Dust Guy from their Swiffer commercial so I spent some time with him hanging out at the Space Bar, right between J and K.

    hanging out at the space bar
    photo from Swiffer





    Saturday, July 23, 2011

    Things I Like About Me

    Almost two weeks ago, the lovely Elena of Ciao Mom wrote a beautiful post that inspired me. She wrote about claiming what you like about yourself. If you're like me, it's too easy to focus on the things you don't like about yourself. It is easy to come up with a list of the negatives. Listing the good things is so much harder. I hear my own voice challenging what I like about myself. I hear the naysayers in my life wondering why on earth I think I'm good at anything. And that's where it would be easy to end this post and leave it in draft forever. Except. I am good at some things. There are some things I like about myself.
    In no particular order:

    1. I like my voice. I don't have a thick southern accent even though I was born and raised here. I have a slight drawl but it's very neutral. I particularly like when someone gives me a microphone. I get nervous as heck in front of crowds but I love to talk on a microphone.
    2. I like that you don't have to guess how I'm feeling. You will either know because I'm kind of transparent, or if you ask me I will tell you. 
    3. I love my relationship with God. I love to talk about faith.
    4. I like my sense of humor. I absolutely love to laugh.
    5. I like my feet. True story. I make an awesome footprint in the sand, just like clip art.
    feet
    Photo by Amy Hodges
          
           6.  I like my ability to remember completely random information. If 
                there's a trivia contest, you want me on your team. Trust me.
           7.  I love that I am completely willing to be goofy. I know that this
                sometimes leads to less than flattering photographs of me, but
                they're usually fun! 

      photobomb
      photo by Sarah Pinnix of Real Life Blog of me, Jenn of  Super Jenn, and Sarah
           
            8.  I like that I love to learn.
            9.  I like that I'm a leader. I'm not usually the one up in front. I'm the
                 one behind the scenes taking care of details and making sure 
                 everyone is getting what they need. I love that role and I'm good
                 at it. 
            10. I love that I will talk to anyone.
            11. I like that I am an excellent baker. I make the most amazing sugar
                  cookies and can bake a cake like nobody's business. 
        So I came up with eleven and that's one more than I thought I would be able to. As I was writing I kept thinking about Jesus saying "love your neighbor as yourself." It's so much easier to love others than to love ourselves but that is an important piece of that commandment. I am grateful to be reminded that I need to love myself too.
        Thank you Elena for the inspiration and for continuing this important movement. I encourage you all to check out Just.Be.Enough.

        Wednesday, July 20, 2011

        Cinderella's Castle ~ Magic Memories and You ~ Wordless Wednesday

        Magic Memories and You

        I have been out of commission for a bit. Summertime is crazy with trips and navigating kids' schedules plus the last two weeks I had to work more than usual at my out of the house job! On top of that, I am going to be moving my blog to Word Press and that has required a significant amount of behind the scenes work. Blech. So tonight, instead of being productive I have been dreaming of my next trip to Walt Disney World (whenever that might be!) I took this picture on our last trip during the Magic Memories and You show on the castle. I was skeptical but it is extremely creative and cool.

        Friday, July 8, 2011

        Winnie the Pooh and Harry Potter?

        I know, it seems like it's all movies all the time around here lately. Promise there is more in store, but I couldn't resist posting this video.



        See you at the movies on the 17th!

        Monday, June 20, 2011

        Jason Segal & I, What do we have in common?

        WE"RE BOTH SUPER EXCITED! THE MUPPETS ARE COMING!




        My apologies for the all caps. I'm just, you know, super excited! See you at the movies Thanksgiving weekend!

        Thursday, June 9, 2011

        Judy Moody & the Not Bummer Summer

        not bummer

        Last Saturday, I took my daughter and a friend of hers to see an early screening of "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer." My daughter has read many of the Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald. I always liked Judy because she's fiesty. Her hair is always a mess and she is always coming up with crazy schemes that never work out quite right. 

        The girls loved the movie. They laughed so much and were thoroughly grossed out at some parts. One of the gross gags went a little too far for me (you'll be able to guess when you see it!) but the girls thought it was hilarious. Even though I took two girls, there were several boys in the theater as well and they enjoyed the movie just as much. ! Some movies aimed at kids are painful to watch, but Judy Moody is clever enough to keep adults entertained when the whole family wants to take in a movie.

        judy cartoon

        We were guest of the media company for the movie, but that in no way influences the opinions stated above. 

        Wednesday, June 8, 2011

        Tuesday, June 7, 2011

        The Help Movie Coming in August

        the help

        "The Help", a novel by Kathryn Stockett, has been made into a movie and I am beyond excited for it's release. The book tells of the awakening of civil rights and how it affected the relationships between families and the African American "help" they hired. I was born and raised in the South so the story is familiar. My grandmother told of the competition for the best African American nannies. There was one in particular that everyone fought over. The civil rights stuggle is often glossed over when talking about "the help." The reality of the humiliation, pain and suffering that so many experienced is hard. Stockett's novel does an amazing job of representing the different relationships that developed and the complications that even the best of those relationships faced. 

        Dreamworks Studios just shared a new featurette about the movie and I wanted to share it with you.



        The movie opens on August 12th  (you'll find me at the movie theater!)

        Monday, June 6, 2011

        Milestones ~ Graduations and Growing Up

        I have two children. Two lovely children that I gave birth to. I am fortunate enough to have lots and lots of other kids that I call my own. My husband and I worked with young people for twenty years. We had the honor of watching so many kids grow up from awkward middle schoolers into interesting adults. We worked with a lot of young people over the years, and they all took a little piece of our hearts. This time of year the graduation announcements start rolling in and I always get a little nostalgic. This is my letter to all of those young people.

        Dear Child of Mine,

        I spent a short time with you, but your presence in my life has been a lasting gift. God called us to work with young people and I was blessed beyond measure to be called to love you. Yes, you. John got to do all of the planning, paperwork, and office hours and I got to be the volunteer. I loved you when we laughed together and I loved you when we cried together. You might not believe me, but I loved you even when you were being a butthead. I was honored to know you even when I knew way too much about you. I was honored when you shared your dreams with me and when you shared your broken hearts. Oh how I wish we could escape adolescence without a broken heart, but I'm not sure it's possible.

        I know that you might think I don't remember you, but I do. There are so many quote boards and funny stories. We have had charts to keep track of how many times you washed your face and charts to make sure you showered at least once on the weekend. I will always smile when I think of you trying to pull off falling down the stairs and I laugh out loud when I think of all the fun we had with the fart machine. I still can't believe you were brave enough to endure blindfolded Fear Factor Snack and I really wish you weren't brave(stupid?) enough to break a bottle over your head. I love that for a year you spoke to me only in movie quotes and I seriously love that you got my daughter to potty train herself so you would babysit for her. I love that you put all of the dishes in the dishwasher right side up, and I love that we got to teach you how to do laundry. And I love that I can still kick you in Speed, except for you, you know who you are. I love that you taught me so much about faith, and will always be grateful that you shared your faith with me.

        You have grown up so much but you are still becoming who you are going to be. There is so much I would love to say, and I know it's been said before, but here is my top ten.

        1.  Remember that whatever happens, God still loves you (even when you aren't so sure about God.) 
        2.  Always Love. The world will try it's very best to make you cynical. Always Love.
        3.  Make Good Choices. 
        4. Speak the truth in love. You will have difficult things to say, say them with love.
        5. Laugh a lot. 
        6. Keep learning even when you think you're done.
        7. Take risks.
        8. Being smart means nothing without heart.
        9. Laugh some more.
        10. Remember that whatever happens, the Hodges love you(and God does too)

        With so much love,
        Amy



        Somewhere in this post, it became a Top Ten Tuesday post! Go to Oh Amanda to see other Top Ten Tuesday posts about a variety of topics!
        Top Ten {Tuesday}

        Saturday, June 4, 2011

        The Minnie Mouse of your Nightmares

        I'm working on a few Disney related posts and thought I would whet your appetite. This has got to be the weirdest, scariest version of Minnie Mouse ever!

        Friday, May 27, 2011

        Food Bank Kids Summer Stock

        food bank kids
        I don't know about you, but I am so ready for summer. I am ready for my kids to be out of school and to have less of a rigid schedule. We have plans for vacations, the wedding of a wonderful friend, conferences to attend. We have so much to look forward to. Not everyone looks forward to summertime. In our area there are over 30,000 children who will not get three meals a day. Take a minute to let that digest. 30,000 children.
        During the school year the majority of those children are served by our free or reduced cost breakfast and lunch programs. During the school year they can count on getting fed twice a day. During the school year. Now that school is almost out, a significant number of those children will be hungry. We are fortunate to have the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina serving our area. The Food Bank works diligently every summer to reduce the number of children going without meals. The Food Bank is wonderful but they cannot do it without our help.
        kids summer stock
        The Kids Summer Stock campaign tries to make sure that families have access to food. Over the past three years the Summer Stock program has provided over 4 million meals. The program will run from June 2nd until July 15th. The question I am hoping you are asking yourself is "how can I help?" and I have an answer for you.

        • Donate. Pick up a few extra things at the grocery store. See what staple goods are on sale and add a few to your cart for the Food Bank.
        • Hold a Food Drive Organize a food drive of your own. Reach out to summer camps, your church and your neighborhood. It's easier than you think to put one together!
        • Spread the Word I didn't realize the extent of the hunger problem until I got involved with the Food Bank. Get informed and tell people. Tell your neighbors, your Facebook friends and your Twitter friends.
        sm mixer

        One last thing you can do? If you are in the Wilmington, NC area you can join us next Thursday, June 2nd for a Social Media Mixer at Zoe's Kitchen in Mayfaire. The mixer will start at 6pm and go until 8pm, but if you eat at Zoe's anytime from 4pm to 9pm a percentage of your bill will go to the Kids Summer Stock program. If you bring food to donate, you will be given a raffle ticket. The Food Bank usually comes up with some fun prizes for their mixers! 
        If you don't live in this area, please find out what you can do in your area. Unfortunately there are children going without meals all over our  country. We might not be able to solve some of the world's problems, but we can reduce the number of children without access to food. 

        Images and information provided by the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. I am honored to serve as a Social Media Ambassador for the Food Bank CENC.