Tuesday, September 20, 2011


My life has been go, go, go lately but something interesting happened this weekend that made me shift my plans and drive two hours last night...all for a little blackbird my kids name Phil.

Friday a blackbird swooped into our lives, literally.  My kids were playing outside and their screams alerted me to this bird that would not leave them alone.  It flew around them for hours, diving and perching on their basketball hoop and our porch.  By the next day, we weren't afraid of the bird because we realized he was friendly.  By Sunday, he welcomed us that morning when we left the house to get a Sunday paper and coffee.  Monday morning, he was perched on my head when the school bus picked up my son.

Between perching on my own kids heads, shoulders, and arms - as well as the neighborhood kids - he was becoming quite the personable feathered friend. 

Phil perched on my shoulder

I worried though - he was TOO friendly.  One kid was throwing rocks at him, another threatened to "kill the bird" and the soccer players in the field across the street were constantly being "attacked" by our friendly little bird.  He wasn't aggressive, but people aren't used to having a wild animal so comfortable around humans.  Plus, we live in the NE and it will snow in a few months so I worried about him in the colder weather.

Long story short, I drove 2 hours round-trip to a Wildlife Rescue Center last night.  They suspected he imprinted on a human and therefore thought he was human rather than a bird.  I was told too that he was young, born this year.  They will try to rehabilitate him and release him back to the wild, or else use him for educational purposes.   He will not be harmed - it was a humane rescue center that was concerned in giving him a safe living environment.

Phil came into our lives and left a big impression on us.  He was a great little bird and I'm looking forward to getting updates on him.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Working it Out Wednesday: Extra-Slow Cook Meal

I was so proud of myself yesterday. I took the time to prepare a slow cooker meal- one of my favorite recipes. I chopped, mixed, and stirred and went back to work, happy to not have to think about what was for dinner.

A few hours later, I happened to be in the kitchen (coffee time!) and peeked in the crockpot. Nothing was cooking. I hesitantly touched the bottom of the pot and it was completely cool. My eyes flashed up to the wall socket. Yes, I had plugged it in (just checking...embarrassing, but it has been known to happen!) and it hit me: check the GFI. It was the culprit, alright--must have been tripped and needed to be reset. The question of what to have for dinner was upon us after all.

Thought I'd share my boo boo. Here is my favorite crockpot meal-- which will now be dinner tonight-- in case you were wondering:

Moroccan Crockpot Tajine
1 (3lb) package of frozen stewing lamb or lamb shoulder or stew beef chunks or 8 skinless chicken thighs, bone-in  (I only use the chicken and it's boneless)
4 cloves garlic
2 onions
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon hot red chili pepper flakes or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups small chunks of carrots
3 cups large chunks of peeled squash or potatoes (I always use butternut squash)
1 (10 ounce) can condensed chicken broth or 1 cup chicken bouillon
1/2 cup pitted green olives (this is optional, but I love olives)
1 (19 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (also optional, but love the chickpeas, too!)

1. Thaw lamb, trim excess fat from lamb or beef, and cut into large bite-size pieces. If using chicken thighs, leave whole.
2. Mince garlic and thinly slice onions.
3. Stir garlic with onions, cumin, paprika, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, salt, chili flakes or cayenne pepper, carrots, squash (or potatoes), broth, and olives (if using).
4. Add meat.
5. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours or low for 9-10 hours.
6. Stir in chickpeas, if using, during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
7. Serve over couscous or crusty bread.

Total Yumminess

I found this on a couple of years ago and love love love it.

Enjoy your day (and dinner tonight)!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Happy Hour Dance Party: Pause

We now take a break from our normally scheduled dance party.

If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.-- Dalai Lama

Happy Hour 
World Peace Cocktail
1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 splash of elderflower syrup
2 drops blue curacao liqueur
2 drops almond syrup

Mix all ingredients in cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain and serve in chilled martini glass.


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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Happy Changes!

This week I've buddied up with a friend and we began working-out together at each other's houses.  Granted, it's only our second day but this has been a great thing for me - both mentally & physically.

Physically - I'm already a bit sore but I feel great for making the commitment to exercise daily for up to 60 minutes.  Plus, I have to friend to do it with - it's fun to talk & workout at the same time, the time flies!

Mentally - what a great stress relief!!  My friend has also mentioned how good she feels afterwards too. 

Of course, this isn't anything new to me.  I've gone through spurts before of working out and feeling the benefits from it.  But this time, I'm making the commitment with someone else.  I've never worked out daily with a buddy before.  Our kids are on the same little league team so we've committed to working out for the full 6-week season and hopefully by then the habit will stick and we can continue throughout the winter.  We have enough exercise equipment & DVD videos at home to keep it fresh & fun without getting boring.

Go ahead & make some Happy Changes in your life to benefit your overall well-being.  Give it a chance to become and habit and appreciate the rewards.  For me, I have a great pair of jeans hanging on my closet door and I can't wait to wear them!!!


Friday, September 2, 2011

Happy Hour Dance Party: Mother Nature

In the wise words of Alex Trebec:
If you can't be in awe of Mother Nature, there's something wrong with you.

Happy Hour
Hurricane Sunrise
 1 1/2 oz light rum
 1 1/2 oz dark rum
 2 oz gold tequila
 4-8 oz orange juice
 4 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
 1-2 oz grenadine syrup

Combine all in glass with ice and mix well. Garnish with maraschino cherries and orange slice, if desired.


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Stay safe and enjoy your weekend!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

When in Rome

Fifteen stops. That's how far Coney Island was from where my friend, L, and I stood. We were in the city on our very own photography adventure and what better photographic opportunity than the home of the Wonder Wheel and Cyclone? Off we went.

Fifteen stops later, we arrived. Every couple of feet I would pause to snap a picture (because who can resist a sign beckoning you to "bump your ass"?) and then we encountered the Freak Bar.

I had heard about the sideshow at Coney Island, but had never seen it in my previous visits. L and I looked at each other and reached into our pockets for the $10 admission price. Couldn't take any pictures inside, but it was still an adventure. Once the show started, though, I asked myself what was I thinking.

Now I love horror movies, but I cover my eyes during the gory parts. If I think the icky part is over I may peek but will quickly close my eyes if it's still not done. What does this have to do with the sideshow, you may ask. Well, there was lots of ick. It started with a guy swallowing razor blades and included someone hammering a nail into their face. Oh. And someone else swinging an anchor. From hooks. Attached to his EYES. Did I already say ick?

The best part, though, was when L "volunteered" to go on stage. Not for her, maybe, but definitely for me! I briefly had a flashback to when I would look everywhere but at the teacher in school hoping not to get called. Public speaking is so not my thing.

So I sat there starting to get clammy hands looking down as the guy who hammered the nails in his face looked in our direction. Next thing I knew, L is being encouraged up. Whew. I did feel really bad for her. Especially when hammer guy says he's putting her in the electric chair (my fear is public speaking. L's? Electricution!)

It was really cool, though, and L was awesome. Especially the finale of her "performance" when she started a fire with her tongue!

The afternoon ended at Nathans. Because when in Rome...

Ready for my next adventure!  --M

Monday, August 29, 2011

Manic Mondays: School!!!!

First day of school for my two older boys (ages 10 & 8).  It's always with mixed emotions that I watch them board the bus:
  • Regret, for not having done everything I wanted to do with them over the summer. 
  • Elation, for not having to listen to them quarrel anymore (during the day). 
  • Sadness, because they're growing up and I can't stop the clock.
  • Determination, because now I can buckle down and focus on my own schedule & not theirs.
  • Relief, because I don't have to cook "hot food" anymore for lunch for my middle-son.  I'm content with fruit & yogurt, or a sandwich - but he's not.  He likes a hot meal at noon.
  • Happiness, because I can surprise them after school with homemade cookies for their 1st day!
These are just a few of the emotions I'm feeling right now.  We had a great summer - fun & relaxing.  The kids are ready for school again too.  They miss seeing their friends.

Happy "Back-to-School" Monday!!!