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

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.