One Extra Day

Tomorrow will bring a day we see once only every fourth year.  And while Wednesday will still bring its usual Wednesday activities of school, work, ballet and meetings, why not make it a freebie-special kind of day.  In honor of this freebie-special kind of day, I have come up with a list of suggestions to make the day a tad more unique and memorable.

Take the day off from work or school and do something you wouldn’t normally do.

Pick up a phone and make a call instead of texting or emailing.

Set a goal you intend to accomplish by February 29, 2016.

If you are female and in a relationship, pop the big M question to your boyfriend.

Surprise your children and let them have ice cream for dinner.

Regardless of what you do, make February 29th a special day.  Relish in the endless possibilities and be thankful you have the simple ability not to waste the day.

Tomorrow will find me working off-site at a client’s in the afternoon and driving chauffeur to the ballerina and her brother in the evening.  But I think I will surprise both of my children with a special curbside pick up when their school bell rings.  Shhhhh…it’s a secret.

What will you do on your one extra day?

Not Quite Un-Plugged

I will admit it.  I am social media junkie.  Most often you can find me on Twitter or Facebook or Google+ either commenting, sharing or discovering.  At times, it’s fun and other times it’s daunting – especially after a self-imposed unplug.

This past weekend, I decided to enjoy my time away with my girlfriends and detach from the online world.  Well, let me clarify.  The beach house did not have WiFi access so the self imposed detachment was forced.  I had no intention of working or bringing my laptop and I knew if needed, my iPhone would allow me to “check-in”.

Ironically, the weekend, itself, developed a tag line – “Google-it”.

How many years difference is there between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes?

Isn’t there a formula to figure out what our hooker names should be?

What is the name of that estate in upstate New York that is terribly costly and each room is without a TV or laptop or WiFi?

Does the mom in Flowers in the Attic really intended to leave her kids when she first returns to her father’s home?

How long will it take us to get from the beach house to the Spa so that we can enjoy every last second of sleeping in?

Does Lucky Bones take reservations?

Turns out my unplug was not quite accurate.  As you can tell, we had pressing questions that absolutely needed answers and of course we had our smart phones. Aside from “Goggle-it”, we had the occasional photo to upload or to “like” a photo of the kids sent from Dad indicating all was well back home.

In the end, laughter, relaxation, silliness, reflection and down right ridiculous conversations filled out a weekend that has left me recharged and ready for the remaining winter.  So now as I am totally plugged back in, I can say and share and shout that ladies weekends rule – especially when those ladies are the sisters God forgot to give me.

This is dedicated to Krimpy, Fluffy, Lucky, JaVa Voom and the other 1/2 of the table engrossed in a discussion about well being.

Red. It’s Everywhere!

Perhaps because it is February.

Perhaps because I am reaching a birthday number that once seemed “old” to me.

Perhaps now that I have children every day is a precious gift.

Is it me or do you feel that Go Red for Women American Heart Association campaign against heart disease came out of nowhere?  Wasn’t RED the AIDS campaign my imaginary husband Bono launched several years ago?  Have I been so blind to this issue that this is the first I am learning of it?

Several days ago I came across a video PSA which had me clawing at the keys to visit the forbidden WebMd.  In the video, a mother is going through her morning routine and realizes she is having a heart attack.  “Know the signs,” the video went on to explain.  HOLY SHIT (excuse my French) I HAVE THESE SIGNS.  Not the pain in the arm, but my some of the others.  Why is this news to me?  Why don’t I already know that me/we are at such high risk?

At that very moment, my real husband (Irish yes, but no, not Bono) walked in the door from a late meeting with me in a panic.  Dragging him to the laptop with his coat still on, I made him watch the video.   He tried to calm my nerves, but the damage was done.  Add having a heart attack to the other list of symptoms I tend to think I suffer from.

“These are the sign,” the video message explains.  So yes, now I know the signs but tell me how to avoid this!!!

After searching online (and not on WebMd), I came across an excellent site that helped me get a better handle on ways to prevent a heart attack.

1. Don’t Smoke (Perfect.  I don’t smoke so I am going to be OK)

2. Exercise 30 minutes each day of the week (Darn it. I am not going be OK. I don’t do this. Need to increase this)

3. Eat a Heart Healthy Diet (I am going to be OK. For the most part, we eat well. I just tend to eat ALOT of what I eat)

4.Maintain a Healthy Weight (Definitely not going to be OK. Epic Fail on this part. I am a Yo-Yo)

5. Get Regular Health Screenings (Time for a change. Took me 6 months to make my first mammogram appointment. Let’s hope I do better with this)

Now that I have a handle on what I can to do to avoid having a heart attack, I feel like I have better control of the issue….well that is until my next possible ailment arises!

The video that really did change everything:

There is Always Time for a Home Cooked Meal – Mexican Black Bean Soup

Week three for me and my Crock Pot Buddy, The Harried Mom!  Have you tried any of our previous recipes?  If so, be sure to let us know either via comments or via our facebook pages.  This week, we both tried completely different recipes.  Using her Cadillac Crock Pot, The Harried Mom made an exquisite Veal Stew with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Rosemary.  I, with my Yugo Crock Pot, made an authentic vegetarian Mexican Black Bean Soup.  But don’t take our word for it.  Sit back.  Pour a glass of wine and read on.

It was winter break and I had arranged for a pretty terrific group of couples to meet for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Princeton – Tortuga’s.  At first glance, the building looks no different from the homes beside it.  In fact, if it weren’t for the sign above the entry way and the group of people waiting for a table, you would think it was someone’s home.  Our last trip was disastrous in that the restaurant had indicated it was closed.  There we all were.  Three couples (with sitters taking care of the children) and full night of great food and conversation ahead of us only to find the place was closed. Of course we made do (Thank you Alchemist & Barrister), but we missed our Mexican food.   Recently, news that Tortuga’s had reopened across the street had prompted this next couples date night.   But the excitement of date night was short-lived.  We were having difficulty finding available sitters and the idea of bringing seven children along with us was not ideal.  Hence, Couple Date Night became Family Mexican Dinner Night.  With enough wine and age appropriate Wii games, it would be fun!

I decided that I would try a Mexican Black Bean Soup since it would compliment our other dishes.  I searched high and low for a recipe that was healthy and the children could enjoy.  Much to my surprise, I found what I was looking for on the back of a can of black beans.  Along with some modifications, I created a soup that was very close to being one of my best, that is, until we (and by we, I mean my husband) added flour.

The soup, as you will see, requires that you blend a portion of the black beans and soup stock to the whole beans already cooking in the crock pot.  Well, as the George Forman grill standing in as my quesadilla maker was warming up and the tacos and meat and the salsa were ready to serve, my Black Bean Soup failed to really thicken.  My husband and assistant Chef, suggested flour.  Adding flour to gravy thickens it, of course it would work.

It doesn’t.

Instead, my Black Bean Soup had clumps of flour.  I panicked.  To make matters worse, one of our guests was a former Head Chef at many fine restaurants including his own, Hannah and Mason’s.  So for what seemed like an eternity, I tried to blend the flour the best I could.

In the end,  I was forthcoming with my guests as per our flour error to which they didn’t seem to mind.  The children had zero interest in my soup (they enjoyed being able to make their own quesadilla) but the adults really seemed to enjoy it.  Topped with cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream, the soup was satisfying.

So we are trying to schedule a Couples Date Night one night soon, but know we have the good ol Yugo to fall back in a pinch!

Buon Appettito!

Do you have a recipe to share?  Visit The Harried Mom and then submit your recipe through the Link Up.

Mexican Black Bean Soup

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 2hours

Serves: 6 hungry adults if the soup is a side dish

Ingredients:

4 cans of Goya Black Beans

1 quart of Vegetable Soup

1 can of Sweet Baby Corn

1 red onion

1 cup of carrots chopped

1 glove of garlic minced

1 tablespoon of salt

1/2 tablespoon of pepper

Directions:

Drain 4 cans of beans and corn and rinse clean. (make sure to wash them clean)

Brown onion (you don’t have to brown the onion, but I find the browned onion compliments the dish)

Set the crock pot to a low setting or 2 hours. Take 1/2 of the black beans and place in the crock pot.  Add corn, browned onion, carrots minced garlic salt, pepper and 3/4 of the broth in the crock pot.

Take the remaining black beans and broth and blend to a puree.  Once pureed, add this to the crock pot.

The soup should be ready after two hours.  Add cheddar cheese and sour cream and enjoy!

Please Don’t Go

Daddy travels and some instances, Daddy travels two weeks at a time.

Mommy can go to meetings and lunches and dinners, but Mommy comes home at night.

Before the children were born, Mommy went on business trips with Daddy and was delighted by all the new cities visited.  But the when children came into the picture, Mommy’s passport began to collect dust.

The past several months have been very busy and exciting to say the least.  There are new milestones to achieve on the horizon both professionally and at home, and life in every sense of the word is Good.

But in order to keep this steady pace of work and home, this Mama needs a break.

Last week in passing conversation, my children learned that Mommy is planning to go on a Ladies Weekend Get-a-Way with her Mommy friends. It would seem I told them I was departing for the Congo and set to return in a year or two.  I will not be away for no more than 48 hours and yet their cries were sincere.  “Please don’t go Mommy!”

Daddy seemed slightly perturbed by their reaction, but quickly changed the momentum of the conversation to visions of a grand weekend they would have while I was away.  The children seemed appeased and began rattling plans of where and what they could do.

In all honesty, I did for a moment feel guilty about my upcoming trip.  My husband leaves for work – work that allows us to live the life we have.  I don’t envy his travels and despite the chaos of managing my work, home and children while he is away, I enjoy the challenge and the special bond I share with children.  When Daddy is away, we are a team.  I hope Daddy experiences that same bond.  My trip was purely relaxation and fun.  But similar to the book club meetings and the occasional Girls Night Out, I think it’s important to spend time away, unplug from the world and recharge.

This week leading up to the Mommy’s Weekend is a hectic one.  Between coordinating this trip of nine women and meeting deadlines for work, I will most certainly need the laughter and silliness of the weekend to come.  A visit to the Spa, a long dinner with good wine and spirited conversation, maybe even a sunset and a cheesy movie in pajamas are on the agenda for this weekend.  Yes.  I can do this.

T – 72 hours……..