Feb 26, 2012

Gratitude Attitude

Posted by Tonia at Sunday, February 26, 2012 2 comments
by Tonia

“Life is like a sewer... what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.”
- Tom Lehrer
“I feel a very unusual sensation - if it is not indigestion, I think it must be gratitude.” – Benjamin Disraeli

I was recently challenged by a friend to consider writing down three gratitudes each day. I guess research shows that gratitude is linked to life satisfaction, self-esteem, hope, empathy and vitality. Who couldn’t use more of that?? My friend and I decided to text our gratitudes to each other for accountability. Crap - now I really had to do it! But I’m a big believer in positive thinking – positive thinking with a big irreverent, provocative twist. Here are some of my gratitudes:

I am grateful….

…..when I’ve peed just prior to a good laugh. It saves laundry.
…..that I am at an age where I can afford good vodka instead of that fermented potato water crap.
…..that no one can read the thought bubbles in my head. It saves me from sexual harassment charges.
…..for long-lasting batteries in my vibrator because … well, sometimes it just takes awhile ...
…..for the words “Fuck” and “Shit” because “Douchfart” and “Syphilis Stick” take too long to say and “Darn” just isn’t satisfying.
…..that long shirts are back in style because my muffin top just isn’t Pillsbury Boy cute.
…..for indoor plumbing - otherwise I’d be in deep shit more than I already am.
…..that no one shows up for my pity parties. They’re not Estrofests fun.
…..for the ability to laugh at myself because I never cease to be amused and entertained.

But I really do believe in intentional gratitude. So encourage your girlfriends to take the 30 Day Gratitude Challenge. Have them keep a daily journal of personal gratitudes and  then throw a party at the end of the 30 days to talk about it.

Ask everyone to bring a dish that they are grateful for. Create a gratitude tree as a decoration. Write each girlfriends name on a leaf and what you appreciate about her. Then talk about your journals. Here are some discussion questions:

- What did you learn about yourself as you wrote down daily gratitudes?
- What were the obstacles to keeping the journal? How did you overcome them? What does that say about you?
- Did you ever reflect back on previous gratitudes once you had written them down? What was that like?
- Did you ever share your gratitidudes with anyone? Who? Why? What was the outcome?
- Did you see any themes in your gratitudes (people, abilities, objects, etc)? What do you think this says about you?

Now tell us what YOU are grateful for in the comments below!

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life, work on the mind.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Feb 21, 2012

Room Motherzilla

Posted by Tonia at Tuesday, February 21, 2012 2 comments
by Rachel
I’m one of THOSE moms. The kind you love to hate. I’m a driven, obsessive-compulsive, competitive, do-it-up-big, overachieving, get-the-hell-out-of-my-way mom. If I could keep this at home I might actually get my closets cleaned but NOOOOOOOO, I have to take it public. I’m a homeroom mother.
As homeroom mother I organized the 3rd grade Valentine’s party this year. Spending weeks and weeks and weeks in preparation, my husband threatened to put valium in my coffee if I didn’t chill out. I. Couldn’t. Stop. Myself.
After all the prep work, it took me three trips to the school to unload all of the party crap items. Then I had to negotiate extra set-up time from the teacher because I had so much party crap stuff. When I actually got to the room and hurriedly started setting up, I broke out in a sweat. I then realized that, in my haste, I forgot to put on deodorant. No time now to run home. Had to improvise. I decided to use some anti-bacterial wipes.
As I was scrubbing my armpits with the vigor of an adolescent boy with his joy stick, the principal walked in. We made eye contact - followed by weeks moments of painful silence. I couldn’t think of anything to say other than “Would you like a wipe?”
The actual party was like crack sugar-addicted kids gone psychotic. That’s what happens when overachieving moms bring too many desserts. The Cupid game which was supposed to be kids shooting arrows at targets (but was modified due to the school’s no weapons policy) became the Cupid dart gun riot. Using straws to blow Q-tips, Q-tips flew flew through the air like poison darts in an African hunt!
When the party was over other parents had to load party crap gear in their cars and follow me home because, of course, it wouldn’t all fit in my car. Overachiever does NOT equal perfect mom. In fact, perfect moms are a myth – kind of like men who genuinely want to help out around the house – they don’t exist.
For your next girlfriends party, make these fabulous chocolate chip cookies and keep the Q-tips out of the kitchen:
Divine Chocolate Chip Cookies
½ cup cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup softened butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup white sugar
2 eggs
1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 package of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream the sugars, butter, eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture. Add the chocolate chips. Drop by heaped teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 9 to 12 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute prior to placing on a wire rack to cool completely.

Feb 14, 2012

Naked at the YMCA

Posted by Tonia at Tuesday, February 14, 2012 2 comments
Estrofests is thrilled to host guest blogger, Kerry Rossow. Kerry is a hilarious house blogger. If there is anything you want to know about houses and were too afraid to ask, she's your woman!  http://housetalkn.blogspot.com/ 

by Kerry Rossow

I've noticed some beautiful Valentine this year. Not one to be outdone, I thought I would share an ode to my mister. There are those moments in a marriage when you take that snapshot in your mind ...  the "This is why I love him" moments. Here’s mine:

We had taken our four little darlings to the YMCA for some family basketball and a quick swim. As we were winding up our nightly shenanigans visit, my mister offered, "Why don't I take the kids home and you stay here to relax in the women's hot tub?" By the time he uttered "hot tub" I was already sprinting toward the "Women Only" sign. In my rush I forgot that I had (literally) left my mister holding the bag - the bag with all of our suits - the bag with MY suit. I spent the next 37 seconds having a mental argument with myself. Here is a sampling of the thoughts that were flying through my head:

 - "It's almost closing time...I bet everyone else is gone already."
 - "I. Cannot. Get. In. There. Naked!" 
 - "Just do it, stop being a chicken!" 
 - "God is smiting me for making fun of the casually naked folks that stand around the locker room talking/drying hair/applying make-up/doing jumping jacks -while naked- as if doing these things NAKED is totally normal. Would you do these things while naked in front of house guests or in any other setting?" 
 - "Look what has happened to me! I'm afraid to get naked all by my d**n self in a women's locker room hot tub."

I finally threw caution to the wind, stripped down and climbed into the hot tub. A full 6 seconds passed before I heard the dreaded squeak of the door. I quickly positioned myself so that the intruder would not be able to see my ... er, situation.
Big mistake.

As Ms. Stepford bounced into the hot tub, in full make-up, coiffed hair and her very appropriate tankini, she was unprepared for what awaited her. Her smile quickly faded as we both stared at the wall for answers. She lasted in the hot tub for 9 seconds. She didn't even warn the young swimmer that she knocked over on her way out. 
That's right. 

Next up- a college hard body swimmer type. She also met the sneak attack. Not having the sophistication of Ms. Stepford to look away, Ms. Hard Body actually gawked. I could see that this was going to be a standoff. She was either too competitive to bolt or she was frozen with fear. I contemplated an attempt at conversation. What would I say? "Just you wait, this will happen to your body, too?" I knew that "You want a piece of this?" could be misconstrued. It was the creak of the door that put me over the edge ... sent me into naked freak out land. I couldn't take it anymore. I panicked. I bolted. As I was leaping over Ms. Hard Body Gawker, I assured myself that it couldn't get any worse.

The newest addition to my hell was a woman with a headscarf. The very picture of modesty had entered the YMCA locker room precisely in time to see a naked American woman flying through the air.  It took another 13 seconds to get dressed and perform the run of shame to the lobby. 
I was shocked to see that my family had just reached the lobby. Had all of that just happened in such a short amount of time? Was I in the Twilight Zone? 
Here is the part about why I love my husband. Besides the part about family YMCA nights, and besides the part about taking the kids home. My mister took one look at me and knew that this was no time for silly questions. He spoke the sweetest, most romantic words ever. "Kids, run for the van!" 

My gal pals and I look for any old reason to par-taay together. As the resident hillbilly, I host "Drinks in the driveway." My decorator friend hosts "Cocktails on the veranda." Our sporty friend plans "Get your game on tailgates" and now we apparently need to add "Get your clothes on!" par-taays. Here's a drink for it:

Ladies Only!
10 fresh mint leaves
1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges
2 tablespoons sugar - or to taste
1 cup ice cubes
1 1/2 fluid ounces white rum
1/2 cup club soda

Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into a sturdy glass. Use a muddler to crush the mint and lime to release the mint oils and lime juice. Add 2 more lime wedges and the sugar, and muddle again to release the lime juice. Do not strain the mixture. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice. Pour the rum over the ice and fill the glass with club soda. Stir, taste, and add more sugar if desired. Garnish with remaining lime wedge.

Kerry Rossow blogs at HouseTalkN where life's important questions are answered. Questions like, "When folks build a McMansion on a small lot, what are they compensating for?" or "Was the real estate agent drunk when they staged this house?" or "Why don't the Smiths' ever leave their drapes open when I am on a harmless walk-by?" Check out her blog HERE You'll be glad you did!

Feb 10, 2012

Singles Awareness Day – aka Valentines

Posted by Tonia at Friday, February 10, 2012 1 comments
By Tonia
“If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?”
- Anonymous

I don't understand why Cupid is Valentine’s representative. First of all, Cupid is a GUY – and most guys are not exactly experts in romance. Second of all, when I think about falling in love, I DON’T think of a chubby, half naked toddler aiming a weapon at me. And, lastly, has anyone noticed that Cupid rhymes with Stupid?

APHRODITE should be the symbol for Valentine’s Day. She was the Greek goddess of love. Instead of flying around shooting people, she actually brought a statue to life when the sculptor, Pygmalion, fell in love with it. THAT’S a love story!

I’ve recently reentered the dating scene - not to be confused with a crime scene. If Cupids are shooting at me I’m feeling the attack and not so much the love. On one recent first date the guy got mad at me for paying half the bill, threw my coat at me and walked out of the restaurant. You’d think he’d be happy saving some money! Another guy canceled our date before we even met because I didn’t answer his text message quick enough. (And they say WOMEN are emotional! Geez.)

So obviously I’m dateless on Valentines Day. But whether you’re coupled or single, celebrate your love for girlfriends by having a Girlfriends Valentines party. Use the party to -

(1) Celebrate healthy hearts by serving heart-healthy foods and disseminating information from the American Heart Association. Have everyone wear red.
(2)  Revel in some naughtiness by drawing names ahead of time and doing a gift exchange of lucky red panties. Distribute playful discussion cards to keep conversations mischievous. Here are some starters:

Who is your dream lover?
If you could kiss a celebrity, who would it be?
What is your favorite romantic destination?
What is your most romantic dream?
What is your wildest sexual fantasy?
Who was your first crush?
What is the wildest thing that you have done, ever?
What is the craziest pick up line that you have ever heard?
What is the craziest pick up line that you have used?
Have you ever lied to your partner to avoid sex?

Feb 8, 2012

Scouting for Cookies

Posted by Tonia at Wednesday, February 08, 2012 1 comments
By Rachel

"Chocolate is an antidepressant, which is especially useful as you start to gain weight."  ~Jason Love

It’s here! The time that we harass and stalk our friends, relatives, neighbors, and any stranger that crosses our path - to buy Girl Scout cookies. My daughter LOVES being a Girl Scout, but I would rather put my hand through a meat grinder than try to hawk cookies. Here’s this year’s story:
Since I am a tax widow from Feb. 1 - April 15 (hubby is a CPA), I had to take my four year old son with us when we went door-to-door peddling the damn cookies. He was great for about the first 15 minutes (well, ALMOST 15 minutes) but then he discovered the excitement of going house-to-house ringing doorbells. He decided that HE was the only one who should ring the doorbells - which did NOT set well with his sister. So, each time we approached a house, the two of them made a mad dash to the front door, knocking over pots, yard art and anything in their way. One poor woman opened her door to a fist fight when my son punched his sister because she got there first and rang the doorbell. He was sent promptly to the wagon for “time out” but proceeded to open and sample three boxes of cookies while I wasn’t looking.
Between my kids sneaking boxes to their room and my own secret addiction to Samoas and Thin Mints, I am now out $52. My clothes don’t fit any more and I have to take afternoon naps after my sugar high. Thank God the cookies are only available once a year.
For your next girlfriends’ get-together, have a cookie party. Ask everyone to bring their favorite cookie recipe and samples. It’s a great way to get your sugar fix and gather new recipes. But wear pants with elastic waists and leave the kids with their dads.
Homestyle Thin Mints

2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup white sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup milk

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup milk

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp peppermint extract
10 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, cocoa powder and salt.

In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Mix in the milk, and the vanilla and peppermint extracts. Gradually, add in the flour mixture.

Shape dough into two logs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1-2 hours, until dough is very firm.

Preheat oven to 375F.
Slice dough into ¼ inch thick rounds and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until cookies are firm at the edges. Cool cookies completely on a wire rack before dipping in chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Coating: In a double broiler, combine chocolate and butter. Stir every 45 - 60 seconds, until chocolate is smooth. Dip each cookie in melted chocolate and then transfer to wax paper or parchment paper.  Wait until chocolate is set (cool and firm) before eating.

Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies. 

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