Friday, April 24, 2015

Life: Happy Birthday Mushy Face!

On Saturday, April 25, my baby girl will officially be two years old.
Mushy’s practically a grown adult and I don’t even know where the last 2 years went.
The tears are already pouring down my face, and it’s not even time yet.

We will be celebrating with gifts and a pancake birthday party complete with an ice cream cake!
Maybe I could use the pancakes to dry my tears.  Something tells me that I won’t be hungry.

MushyFace, please know that mommy and daddy are so proud of everything you are.
You are the prettiest and the smartest little girl that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.
I never knew how deep I could love until I met you, my little stinky butt.
…and I thought that you going up a diaper size was heart wrenching…

Here’s to all your dreams coming true and a lifetime of happiness, health, and love!

Please join me in wishing Mushy Face a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

List: Ten small ways to help the world.

In honor of Earth day, I decided to post an environmentally friendly post!
It’s also administration day, people!  Don’t forget to take care of those that take care of you.

MushyFace appropriate networks have been filling our brains with ideas.
Some stations are asking us to change little things in our homes.
Other stations are playing clips of children that decided to make a difference.
I challenge all of you to make this a better world for our children with our children.

Ten small ways to help the world.

1.  Support local farmers.
Buy local goods instead of buying produce that came from halfway around the world.
These typically have less chemicals, more nutrients, and don’t waste gallons of gas to ship!

2.  Use fluorescent light bulbs.
These light bulbs use less energy which means that they save the environment and your money!
I have invested in these, but during the day I’m all about natural light.  Nothing’s better than that.

3.  Recycle ALL recyclables.
This is such an easy thing to do.  Separate your recyclables and dispose of them properly.
We have a separate garbage can designated just for cans and bottles.  You should too!

4.  Car pool whenever possible.
A car pool buddy means less emissions spilled into the air we breathe and less money spent.
I mean, if more people car pooled there would be less NY traffic.  Do it, people!

5.  Invest in to-go mugs and water bottles.
There is no need to drown landfills in disposable coffee cups and water bottles.
Besides, when you buy ones to reuse every day, you can make sure they’re real cute!

6.  Grocery shop with reusable bags. 
Most stores sell relatively inexpensive grocery bags that can be reused for every shopping trip.
For a double win, many stores give a discount for saving the Earth from harmful plastic bags.

7.  Stop buying and using disposable dinnerware.
Invest in stylish dinner dishes, silverware, and glasses to save our landfills from overfill.
These investments pay for themselves after a while.  I mean, disposable goods do cost money!

8.  Don’t use the world as a garbage can.
There really is no excuse for polluting the Earth when public trash cans are everywhere.
Do you drive and throw trash out the window?  Just wait until you’re home to dispose of it!

9.  Sign up for electronic billing and filing.
Many things that are done on paper can also be done electronically.  Take advantage of it!
We pay all bills online, get electronic statements, and file using secure flash drives.

10.  Donate time, goods, or money to Earth friendly causes.
There are so many different organizations dedicated to preserving our Earth that need our help.
A day doing good for the Earth sounds like a fun and memorable experience for Mushy and I.

What small things do you do for the Earth?

Monday, April 20, 2015

List: 10 health foods that aren't so healthy.

A couple of months back, I started my healthy swap challenge to prep for my honeymoon.
I know.  You’re all really sick of hearing about my healthy swaps already.  I totally get it!
I already told you all about my squats and my new found love for tea.
What I didn’t tell you is that I cut back on carbohydrates, unhealthy snacks, and lazy nights in bed.
It’s been two months and I can’t confirm that I lost weight, but I really do feel better.
I don’t weigh myself.  When you have anxiety, you avoid the things that could trigger a meltdown.

Being from a Sicilian family, these healthy swaps are comparable to starving yourself.
That’s when Madre gave me a call to tell me that starvation isn’t the way to lose weight.
Apparently fruits and vegetables aren’t really food unless they’re served over pasta.  Who knew?!
In an attempt to defend my new diet, I started listing all the normal foods I’ve been eating.
That’s when I realized some of the things that I thought were healthy, really aren’t.
How dare food try and trick me?!  No worries, people, I can now see right through their disguise!

Ten health foods that aren't so healthy.

1.  Smoothies
I’m a huge fan of Tropical Smoothie and I have been indulging to my heart’s content.
After checking out their nutrition facts, I learned that I’d be better off with a gallon of ice cream.
Not to mention, their smoothies only come in one size:  gigantic!  I’m cutting these out completely.

2.  Salad
I eat salad with fresh mozzarella 5 days a week for lunch, and I absolutely love it!
I did a healthy swap of fresh avocado instead of salad dressing, and it’s even more delicious.
Dressings are filled with calories and preservatives.  Opt for oil and vinegar or try my avocado swap!

3.  Oatmeal
My daily breakfast is a packet of apple cinnamon flavored Quaker instant oatmeal.
The sugar content is enough to make you eep!  I switched to oat bran with cinnamon and berries.
Please don’t tell, but I also put a little drop of syrup in my organic oat bran for my sweet tooth!

4.  Wraps
One popular healthy food trend is wraps filled with yummy different things.
Compare the nutrition facts of your wrap to your bread.  You’ll see that the wraps are worse!
I’ll be swapping wraps and breads for an open faced sandwich with only healthy fillers.

5.  Peanut Butter
I’ve been buying the reduced fat peanut butter thinking that I made a healthy swap.
A coworker told me that the fat they took out of the peanut butter was replaced with sugar.
I guess that my PB and banana snack will now be a peanut and banana snack.

6.  Diet Drinks
These drinks may have less sugar, but the companies make up for it with chemicals.
Some diet sodas in particular have been linked to Multiple Sclerosis type symptoms.
Water and tea, people.  Just drink water and tea!!  And, maybe just one cup of coffee…

7.  Cold Cut Turkey Meat
It’s not uncommon for me to roll up a few slices and stick them on top of my salad.
Turns out that this deli meat is packed with preservatives, sodium, and fat.
When I was pregnant, the doctored banned me from eating any cold cuts.  Red flag much?

8.  Orange Juice
When I feel a cold coming on or when I need a burst of energy, I’ll drink a glass of OJ.
Little did I know that I was really just overdosing on sugar!  Next time I’ll swap for it a real orange.
How dare those marketers make us believe it’s all natural oranges squeezed into a jug?!

9.  Sugar Substitutes
This is something that I used once, despised the after taste, and never used again.
Sugar substitutes are typically filled with chemicals that are known to cause medical issues.
This might be a myth for some brands, but the hypochondriac inside of me will not risk it!

10.  Yogurt
While yogurt has great things in it for digestive systems and women bits, I hate the taste of it.
Plain yogurt is a very healthy snack, but the flavored ones are full of sugar and preservatives.
Trix yogurt shouldn’t even be legal to serve to children!!  I serve Mushy the organic, plain kind.

What unhealthy health foods tricked you?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ask Jax: Pizza Rustica Recipe

Every year on Easter, my grandmother serves the most delicious Italian Easter pie.
The tradition goes that after fasting throughout lent, we indulge like a piggy on Easter.
This Easter pie, better known as Pizza Rustica, is filled with meats, cheese, and eggs.
And, oh my goodness, is it yummy!!!  My man was drooling for a month before it was served!

Recently, I have gotten several e-mail requests on how to make this yummy dish.
Instead of responding individually, I decided to share this famous recipe with everyone.
Way to make me hungry, people!  I kid, I kid.  Buon appetit!

Pizza Rustica

2 Pie Crusts
¼ lb Salami
¼ lb Ham
¼ lb Soppressata
¼ lb Pepperoni
8 Eggs
½ Cup Parmesan Cheese
16 oz Mozzarella
16 oz Ricotta

Take each meat and make sure the skin has been removed.  Dice eat meat into ¼” pieces and separate them.  For the majority of the meats, I use my cooking scissor.  Dice the chunk of mozzarella into ¼” pieces and put to the side.  In a bowl, beat the (8) eggs and mix in the Parmesan and the mozzarella into it.
This pie is made with layers, so try not to mix the ingredients together.

Lay the bottom pie crust along the bottom on the pie tray.  Coat with a thin layer of your egg mixture along the bottom.  In separate layers, spread each meat all across the bottom of the pie.  In between each layer of meat, spread an equal amount of ricotta, and the egg mixture.  Continue this until the pie is full and all of your ingredients have been used.  Top the pie with the second pie crust and seal it closed.
Nanny always brushes melted butter and pokes a few small holes in the top pie crust.

Preheat the oven to 325* and bake for an hour and half.
Yummy, yummy, yummy!

Have you ever or will you ever make pizza rustica?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

List: Ten tips to help you make a difficult choice and live with it.

Whenever something goes wrong in my little world, I obsess over it.
Whenever it’s just a possibility that something can go wrong, I obsess over it.
I really can’t help it!!  I won’t be able to sleep at night or concentrate during the day.
I understand that it’s a waste of time to worry about something you can’t control.
I also understand that obsessing over something will not change it.
Just because I understand something, doesn’t mean that I can just turn my brain off!

That being said, I recently went through a very stressful situation.
I was given a few options and had to chose between the better of several evils.
With door #1, I could have appeased a close family member at the expense of my quality of life.
That meant less time with my daughter, longer work days, less income, and a lot of cheap take out!
With door #2, I could keep my quality of life but at the expense of a valued relationship.
That meant being a larger financial and physical supporter within my home.
Obviously, I went with door #2.

While this seems like a cut and dry decision, it took me weeks to get through it.
Luckily, I have a rocking counselor that helps me through these things!
Out of all the great advice she gave me, I was able to pick out the 10 best tips.

Ten Tips To Help You Live With A Difficult Decision

1.  Decipher which parts are in your control.
As much as I hate to admit this, not everything is within an individual’s control.
We need to learn to let those things be, accept them, and then move on.
I had to accept that my family member’s reaction was out of my control.

2.  Write a pros and cons list.
Make sure this list is detailed and honest and that you account for the worth of each argument.
As long as you didn’t force it to sway in a certain direction, be attentive to the outcome.
While the only con was the lost relationship, that point was worth at least half of my pros.

3.  Pick a non-negotiable.
Before considering your options, pick out one non-negotiable result.
This will help you eliminate the choices that will break your chosen rule.
For me, my non-negotiable was taking home less money.  I mean, we're already on a budget!

4.  Narrow down your choices.
The more choices you have to pick from, the harder it will be to decide.
Use your non-negotiable factor and your pros/cons list to narrow down your list of choices to two.
This part was easy for me since it was the last two options keeping me awake at night!

5.  Don’t ask multiple people for advice.
Asking for advice would seem like a great idea, but advice overload is confusing.
Choose only one person that can relate to your experience to give you guidance.
 I totally fail at this one.  Obsessing means asking anyone and everyone for their thoughts!

6.  Ignore bias parties.
People involved in the situation may try to sway you to make a decision in their favor.
Don’t allow anyone to bully you.  This includes anyone influenced by the biased party.
This was VERY difficult for me because I highly valued the opinions of everyone involved.

7.  Do what is best for you.
It’s nice to consider all the people that will be affected, but, always be your own priority.
People that really care about you will understand that it’s your life that you have to live.
I had realize that my family member wasn’t going to live through that quality of life for me.

8.  Consider the unexpected.
Sometimes a simple A and B decision, becomes an A, B, and C decision.
Don’t ignore a new and better opportunity simply because it wasn’t there before.
I allowed someone to let me think this was indecision.  Rest assured, my friends, that isn’t true!

9.  Prepare for the consequences of your decision.
The majority of the time we know the outcome of the choices we make.
As mentioned in #1, realize it’s out of your control, accept them, and then move on.
Preparing yourself for the probable consequences will help you sleep at night.

10.  Politely tell all the involved parties your decision.
Always make sure that you act in a way that you can be proud of in the end.
Make sure you are cordial, direct, and apologize if you feel the need to do so.
I apologized because I valued the relationship more than my pride, not because of regret.

How do you make a difficult decision?

Monday, April 13, 2015

List: Ten rules to live by on a first date.

During another fabulous lunch with my co-workers, I learned that a first date was planned.
She joined the website Plenty of Fish and quickly caught herself a potential keeper.
I spared her any of my stories from that site.  It was years ago and everyone’s experience is unique!

She told us all of the juicy details about this mystery man and shared a picture.
While she was confident that he had potential, she was worried that she might mess it up.
That’s when we started brainstorming all the rules for a great first date!
Luckily for all you ladies, I made some serious mental notes to share with you all today!  Enjoy.

A lady’s guide for conquering a first date.

1. Safety First.  Never let the person know where you live.  Meet them somewhere.  Send all of your date’s information to a few people that you trust.  Give them a time to call you by to make sure that you are still alive. Hopefully if you don’t answer, your people will call the po-po to come and find you!  Have a code word with your friends.  If I text my girl the word “peaches” she knows to come save my butt.

2. A Happy Makeup Medium.  Doll yourself up with makeup and a cute outfit, but don’t be one of those fools that over does it.  You want to look natural, not like a desperate chick trying to impress her wannabe Prince Charming.  Dress hot, not overdone.  Guys have a sense for when a girl’s trying too hard.  For the love of God, put that ball gown down!

3.  Clean Teeth.  Check your teeth before you go out, during your date, and after.  Don't do my famous routine of smiling into the blade of your knife.  I'll know what you’re doing, but your date might think you're wacked.  Excuse yourself and run into the little girls room just to make sure that your smile is little free of little green particles!  For a quick double check, casually take a peek at your reflection in your cell phone. 

4. Watch Your Mouth.  Looks are appealing, but the conversation reels that fish in Keep the potty mouth in the trash where it belongs.  Keep the gossip in your best friend’s vault.  And, avoid that valley girl talk while twirling your hair. We don’t want him thinking bimbo now do we?

5. Eye Contact.  Look him in the eyes.  No, not stare down creepy!  Keep casual eye contact throughout the date to show your interest and confidence.  Someone looking up tends to be day dreaming and someone looking down shows insecurities and nervousness.  A man will be able to read your body language.

6. Be Busy.  I’m not talking that fake busy where you list a millions things that you would like to do but don’t actually have time for.  I’m talking, be available but not too available.  Let your date know you have a life but you still have time for them. 

7. Ask Questions.  Girls tend to mostly talk about themselves.  Get to know your date and listen to them.  I’m famous for this.  I ask a lot of questions but my mind drifts off mid answer.  Focus!!!!  Don’t get too personal, but dig as deep as you can.  My dad, TheViking, likes to think of first dates as an interview.  In a way, he’s right!

8. Don’t Complain.  Keep your complaints about life to yourself until after the date when you call a family member to vent.  It’s a first date, not a psychologist appointment.  Try and keep the conversation focused on positive things.  I have a girlfriend who’s famous for complaining about everything!  And then she wonders why they don’t call back…

9. One Drink Minimum.  Please don’t come off as an alcoholic on your first date.  I know you’re nervous and you want to drink the butterflies away, but this never works!  Keep the one drink minimum rule.  Whiskey sour?  Yes, please!  You want to be able to keep your composure for your safety as well.  Remember, you don’t really know the guy and we don’t want you taken advantage of!

10. The Goodbye.  The date depends on your parting.  Keep the goodbye short and sweet If you are interested, make it known casually with a “see you soon”.  Give a hug or a quick kiss and be on your way.  Don’t be awkward.  The worst is when you do that weird square dance like shuffle where you don’t know if you should hug, kiss, shake hands, or hi five!

What are your tips for a great first date?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Jax Seal of Approval: Tazo Tea

If you all remember my post regarding healthy life swaps, I vowed to make healthier changes.
And, they’ve been going ok.  I’ve mastered the squats and eating breakfast later!

One vow in particular involved drinking less coffee.
While I know that the coffee itself isn’t awful for you, the creamer really is.
I figured that at least half of my daily calorie consumption was thanks to International Delight!
I started out the goal hoping to drink more water, but I really just don’t like it.
That’s when I kept hearing the word “tea” and the light bulb lit.

Madre gave me a container of Downtown Abbey tea, but it was just alright.
Then I bought green tea, but learned all that caffeine isn’t really a healthy swap.
That’s when a girlfriend of mine suggested Tazo tea bags.
During the first sip I swear that I heard the angels sing to me!

They come in many different flavors that so far have all been great.
None of them had that perfume taste nor were they overpowering with flavor.
I’ve tasted the ginger green tea and peach green tea so far.  Yummy yummy!

Each box also comes with a rating of 1-5 to demonstrate the caffeine level.
This is totally amazing, especially for someone making a conscious effort to be healthier.
Besides, when I need that extra kick of caffeine at 3pm, I’ll know which box to choose!

I’d like to extend the Jax Seal of Approval to Tazo tea bags!
I mean, obviously I’m sort of obsessed at the moment.

Have you or will you try any flavor of Tazo tea?

**Please note that this is a genuine review.  I was not paid for this post.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that Tazo does  not even know that I exist.**

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