Squawking Chicken Review

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

I have been a devoted reader of the gossip site Lainey Gossip forever. Really, since the summer of 2005 when I was introduced to the site by a friend. I have read it pretty much every day since then. I have been a member of the group Lainey Lurv on Facebook for almost as long (the group dissects all of the gossip and happenings on the site, and also is great at solving the blind riddles). I have been to the Smut Soirees, and even met Lainey herself back in the day before she was a TV star, talk show host and author. My BFF and I were in the Smutty Shout-Outs when she turned 30 and I got married on the same weekend.


Smut Soiree 2008
(it was really hot that night, which is why we are
both so shiny)
Given my devotion, it was a no brainer for me to decide to read her new book Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's a Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of). I had heard a lot about her mother, The Squawking Chicken, over the years and was excited to read more in the book. I placed a hold for the book at my local library but then I saw the book on sale for 40% at Chapters/Indigo and I bought it on impulse. It's an easy read, and I read it in 24 hours (book number 22 on my way to 50 in 2014 btw).




The thing is, I did not love this book. Not at all.

I'm a fan of Lainey's writing and found some humour in her Squawking Chicken stories on her blog, and yet I didn't enjoy all of that put together in book form. The Squawking Chicken is an unusual character and each chapter in the book is a personal story with some kind of "lesson" about how mother knows best (or at least she thinks she knows best). Even despite Lainey providing stories about the Squawking Chicken's difficult upbringing, her life struggles and her illness, I did not find myself relating to the Squawking Chicken or finding anything redeeming in her tyrannical ways nor did I find myself relating to any of her "life lessons" or "morsels of wisdom". I didn't even find most of the stories to be all that funny. I had hoped to come away from the book with a better understanding of Lainey's mother/daughter relationship or something I could take away for my own mother/daughter relationships. There was none of that, nothing at all for me to take away and relate to my own life and relationships.

In the end, I guess I prefer Lainey when she's writing about celebrities and pop culture than about her Ma.

School Stockpile

Monday, 14 April 2014

There's one babyGAP location that's lucky for me. Remember last year when I found DVF for babyGAP jeans marked to just $9.99 (click here for a refresher)? I had another similar experience at that location where a bunch of cute girls stuff was marked 30% off the last sale price. Most things were size 5 (the girls are mostly wearing size 4 right now). I took it as an opportunity to stock up for their school wardrobe for next year. This is what I got:

- 4 long sleeved striped t-shirt dresses.... we love this style because it's comfy and can be worn over leggings or tights (regular $24.95 each, came to $6 each!!)

- 2 long sleeved graphic tees (came to around $4 each)

- 2 pairs of pjs... obviously not for school but I couldn't resist because IMO babyGAP pjs are the best quality pjs for babies and kids

All of this came to just $55 PLUS $25 back in GAP cash.



The school part makes me weepy, the good deal part makes me giddy.


Generally, I consider my self to be an efficient and organized person. That said, there are still areas of my life where I'm lazy and messy. One area of complete laziness for me is my bedtime routine. I have good intentions for washing off my makeup except it never happens.... even despite having a skin cleansing system and everything. The non-face washing is horrible, I know. I hear how important it is to wash your face before bed and I mean to do it....

By the time the girls are asleep, I usually straighten up a few things around the house and then I sit down. I just sit right down. Once I sit down, I am physically incapable of accomplishing another thing. I'm just done. So whether I sit down on the couch to watch TV, sit in the office to use the computer or get into bed to read, the odds of me getting up again are not good. And even if there's a good reason for me to get up like to move from the couch to the bed, to use the washroom or go to the kitchen for a snack, I never manage to get to washing my face or anything else that's a part of my imaginary bedtime routine. I am just too lazy.

I was recently reading blogs and Pinterest for unrelated organizing tips when it occurred to me that maybe I could have a better bedtime routine if I changed things up and had a better organized nightstand. The drawers in my nightstand were pretty much empty, which was a waste of space and opportunity. So I filled the top drawer with a brush, make-up wipes, nighttime face elixir and a bunch of other stuff to be used to get ready for bed (plus some stuff that's just handy to have around like a nail file). If I'm too lazy to get myself to the bedtime routine, then I'm gonna bring the bedtime routine to my lazy self in bed. It's been working great! I know I really should wash my face but I think my new organized nightstand is better than nothing.

Nightstand


New bedtime drawer



Here's a list of what's now in the bedtime drawer of my nightstand:


- MAC wipes

- personalized stationary and pens 
(I don't write much from bed at night, it's just a handy place to store these)

- nail file


- in the black & white circular containers (which were originally macaron party favour holders), I have hair ties, floss, safety pins and paper clips

- hairbrush

- tape (I usually wrap gifs in our room so I like to have tape nearby)

- EOS lip balm

- Kiehl's Midnight Recovery

- empty baby food container with baking soda and lavendar 
(for cleaning the mattress when changing the sheets)

- Eucerin Calming Itch Relief Lotion

- Kiehl's Creme de Corps

-glasses

- bean bag eye cover

- iPhone charger

- a large flashlight 
(should the power go out)

It's NOT Handled

Friday, 11 April 2014

When I got hooked on Scandal, I did so knowing that there was a good chance that I would regret it. I was skeptical of Shonda Rhimes and her ability to write anything other than ridiculous, over-the-top storylines. I knew the Rhimes-ness would catch up to this show eventually. And that time as come. While watching last night's episode (the second to last of this season), I was sad for this show, and sad for me as a fan of it. I was also a little taken aback by the foretelling of my post from the other day where I casually mentioned Defiance, Ohio and how this episode brought everything right back there in a crazy, twisted, makes-no-sense-whatsoever storyline.

via Entertainment Weekly

This recap in NY Mag does a great job of summarizing all the reasons why this episode (and this season) are all wrong. My brain has turned to mush because of this season so let me share some of my favourite parts in the recap and in the comments, which say it better than I ever could:

- Pissing contests, Russian roulette, and a wayward bag of jizz — can this season be over now?

Does someone need to beat [Jake] in the head with a copy of He’s Just Not That Into You for you to get it? Take a weekend off, watch a few rom-coms, and run around your apartment singing “Since U Been Gone” a few dozen times until you finally get Liv out of your system.

blowing them up means I never have to see a Quinn/Huck sex scene ever again. I will never forgive you Huckleberry Quinn shippers for this. Ever. 

Trolling funerals for votes? Stay classy, Fitz. Liv convinces him to stay in the White House, but not before he whines about how much he misses her and how much he hates her sleeping with Jake. At least they didn’t mention jam or Vermont. 

+ 500 points to Mellie for saying, “If we’re going to die, can we do it now so I don’t have to listen to you two?” while stranded between Liv and Fitz in Ohio. Don’t we all feel that way when Liv and Fitz talk now?

But then, sadly, we see that the one hallmark of our beloved Shonda is her ability to rip defeat from the jaws of victory.  I have seen this movie before (GA) and I have suffered the slings and arrows of remaining with it.  Seasons 3.5 to 5 were dark days indeed.

- The characters she has drawn are now merely CARICATURES of human beings. There is not one believable flesh-and-blood character left in this lot.  Not to mention the B613 nonsense has no logical conclusion because it was over-the-top insanity from the start.

- Today, loyal Scandal viewers have been HOODWINKED, BAMBOOZLED, led astray, run amok....trying to explain this show's plot is like trying to explain Lost after 5 seasons. Shonda, just throw a damn polar bear in the show already.


I don't even know what we are supposed to want or not want to happen in next week's episode (other than for it to all be over already). Or whether there's even the remotest possibility that the show can be saved in season 4 once Olivia isn't hiding underneath giant purses and behind plants anymore. 

Such. A. Shame. 

How To Clean A Longchamp Bag

Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Longchamp Le Pliage bag is my absolute favourite everyday bag. It's great for travel too. It's ultra light and it fits a lot of stuff. My brother and sister-in-law brought me a new taupe version back from their honeymoon in Paris last fall. I love it -- I have been carrying it pretty much every day since.

Longchamp Le Pliage Tote Bag in Taupe

It endured some minor stains and wear-and-tear (inevitable with the SAHM lifestyle) but then yesterday.... boom, one of my girls accidentally spilled hot sauce all over it. It was a beautiful day yesterday, and my mom and I decided to treat the girls to a lunch of overly priced cupcakes and grilled cheese (the cupcakes were worth it, the grilled cheese was not). We were eating the grilled cheese when the accident happened. I couldn't get mad, it was accidentally knocked from the table and spilled on my bag which was resting on the floor (really, it was my fault for leaving a plastic cup of hot sauce unguarded on the table). But man, was my bag destroyed. The stains were large, messy and greasy. Ugh!!!!









My mom and I went on a mission to get it clean, there was no way I was losing this bag to hot sauce stains! We covered the stains in stain remover then placed the bag in a pillow case and put it in the washing machine on a gentle cycle with gentle detergent.




When it came out of the wash I wasn't completely sure if the stain had been removed. I let the bag dry overnight.... and this morning.... well, this morning, the bag is stain free. In fact, it looks brand new again. Washing the bag got rid of all of the wear-and-tear too. This story has a happy ending! And if you're wondering if your Longchamp bag can be washed in the washing machine, the answer is YES.





dEfiANcE

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Defiance. I'm not talking about the little county in Ohio where Olivia Pope and company stole the election for President Grant on Scandal. No, I'm talking about actual resistance to authority -- the authority being ME and the resistance coming from my girls. The last few days, we have been challenged by two little defiant streaks and today I find myself actually nervous about being alone with my own children. We had a really challenging day on Thursday full of blunder after blunder. It was nothing major and everyone is safe and healthy, but boy was that a hard day for this mamma especially with this new defiant stage. For the past few days, I've had a lot of extra backup from my mom and my husband, but today things are back to normal and I'm on my own. I haven't been this nervous to be alone with my girls since the early days where I had to nurse them every two to three hours. I'm hoping for some good luck today and also that the defiance-thing is just a stage. Everything's just a stage, right? Fingers crossed.

via Pinterest

Mom and Tot Easter Breakfast

Sunday, 6 April 2014

I was really excited for the opportunity to work with Walmart to host an Easter breakfast for some of my girlfriends and their little ones. My challenge was to get everything I would need for the breakfast -- food plus Easter activities and decor -- with a $100 gift card provided to me by Walmart.

Mom and tot Easter breakfast

The breakfast was this morning. On Friday morning, I did the shopping. Food wise, I knew I wanted to serve homemade waffles, eggs in a "basket" and our favourite smoothies. There were a few ingredients that I already had at home (milk, waffle batter, maple syrup, etc.) but the rest of the food was purchased at Walmart.

For the main activity, I planned an Easter egg hunt. I bought three packs of plastic Easter eggs from Walmart. Since the kids will undoubtedly receive an abundance of chocolate around Easter, I got stickers, bracelets and plastic balls to fill the Easter eggs with instead. I picked a felt Easter basket for each of the four kids attending to be used for the Easter egg hunt and to take home.

I also knew that I wanted cookie decorating to be an activity, so I was happy to see a pre-made Easter cookie decorating kit while shopping. Hoping for nice weather, I got bubbles and chalk for the kids to play with outside at the party too (and if not, they would be good take home items).

I picked up the rest of the decor items -- tablecloth, plates, napkins, straws and a decor kit -- as well. Lastly, I got Peeps and Our Finest milk chocolate mini eggs to include in the decor.

I spent $99.01 in total, right on budget!

Stocking up on food, activities and decor at Walmart for $99.01

There wasn't much prep, that's what I love about hosting breakfast events.... Last night, I stuffed the Easter eggs and hid them in the playroom. There were going to be three three year olds and an eighteen month old looking for the eggs, so I made the hiding spots very obvious.


Filling plastic Easter eggs with stickers, bracelets and plastic balls

Egg hiding

I used leftover crafts supplies to make personalized tags for the baskets, then I filled them with Easter grass.

Ready for the Easter egg hunt


Then I got to work on the Peep centrepiece. I saw this idea on Pinterest and liked it for being both colourful and edible. I filled an old centrepiece holder with styrofoam chips and covered it with Easter grass. I set it all up and made sure the skewers (leftovers in the kitchen) would stand upright (I held off on adding the Peeps until the morning of the party so they wouldn't harden). Also, I filled a mason jar with mini chocolate eggs (I couldn't resist having something chocolate) and used left over raffia as an embellishment.

Making of a Peep centrepiece

Mini egg mason jar


My last steps were to set up the table and to hang the decor plus straighten up the house. Once that was complete, everything was pretty much ready.

Mantle


Chalkboard bunny

There wasn't much advanced preparation I could do for the food. The smoothies and waffles were things that I had to make once my guests arrived (and both super easy). For the eggs in a "basket", I shredded potatoes on the morning of the party, patted them dry, mixed them with onion, spices and a touch of oil and then I baked them in sprayed muffin tins in a hot oven to form the base of the dish. Then once my guests arrived I added the eggs, cheese and bacon.

We were almost done before I remembered to take a photo of the food!


My friends brought champagne for Mimosas (for the moms) and a fruit tray (for everybody). I have known these girls since we started law school in 2000 (that makes us sound old, doesn't it???) and it's so nice when we can get together on days like today, especially with the kids.

The crew


We had a really nice time! My girls were more interested in eating toast than waffles (so weird). They loved having their little friends over. The Easter egg hunt was a big success. The cookie making was predictably messy. And it was actually warm and sunny enough for us to go outside for bubbles and driveway chalk.

Pre and post Easter egg hunt


Having fun

It was a pleasure to host this party. I hope you're having a wonderful weekend too.

Bucket Fillers

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

I picked up a wonderful kids book at Target around Christmas time. It's called Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids. It was a completely random purchase; I hadn't heard anything about it or bucket filling before buying it. And you know what.... it turned out to be one of the best books we own.


It may seem obvious but I wasn't exactly sure of how to teach kindness and appreciation to my preschoolers. I think they have a general idea of right and wrong. But how do you teach compassion? Not to mention that when my girls misbehave, I don't like the idea of telling them they're "bad" or "mean". I just wasn't sure how to teach them that if they say or do mean things, they can make others feel bad. And conversely, that they can say and do things to make others feel good.

The bucket filling/dipping concepts and corresponding illustrations in the book have really helped them to learn that their actions and words have the power to make other people feel good or bad. The concept of filling other people's buckets is something that my girls were interested in from the first time we read the book. It has really helped to encourage positive behaviour. They will even spontaneously describe their own behaviour as bucket filling (or dipping as the case may be).

I really recommend this book for preschoolers. In putting together this post, I came across this website with more on the bucket filling concept.


Take a Load Off

Monday, 31 March 2014

It hit me the other day that I can leave the house with the girls and I don't need to pack *anything*. I usually bring water, snacks and wipes in my purse but I don't really have to bring these things (plus we have some pull-ups and spare clothes in the car for emergencies). We can just go. This is a really big deal for me. There was a time where I needed to pack like this in order to be able to go anywhere:

Click here for a flashback post

Crazy, right?

It's liberating to be able to just get up and go without any gear. I loved having babies and I miss so many things about those days -- I just don't miss all the stuff tying me down and all the work that went into going out with two babies. Now I have two independent, fully potty-trained little girls that have opinions on their outfits and the music that we listen to in the car. Since the time change, they haven't been napping either. I fought to keep the naps for a long time. Now I have just accepted that they don't nap. I can tell they don't need to nap like they used to (most days, anyway). They go to bed around 8pm and wake up between 7:30am and 8pm. It's also liberating to just accept this new stage of development. They are big girls now.

Weekend Snapshots

Sunday, 30 March 2014

It was a great weekend -- we had our first Spring weather, visited the new aquarium and had a few fabulous meals.

We started the weekend with a girls' day for my mom's birthday at the new Ripley's aquarium in downtown Toronto (lots of fun but a very busy place).



My mom's birthday celebrations continued with an amazing dinner. I had homemade rigatoni in tomato sauce tossed in 24 month aged Grana Padano wheel.







We took advantage of the Spring weather to fly a kite for the first time.




I had a few hours with a girlfriend to enjoy brunch, Starbucks and a mani/pedis.



Then we joined up with the husbands and kids to finish the weekend with a great seafood dinner.... except that in the middle of dinner their daughter started to vomit, the poor little thing..... so now we are afraid we may have caught a stomach virus :( Life with kids, eh? Fingers crossed for some extra potent anti-virus juju!