Friday, December 31, 2010

RIP Mickey and Goodbye 2010

Today is the last day of 2010. I spent a good part of the day, saying goodbye to my best friend Michelle's dear father, Mickey. He died just 2 days after Christmas, very peacefully. Mickey lived a long life and we were all beginning to think that he would live forever, considering he'd bounced back after many close calls.

I don't know how she did it, but Michelle read a short and sweet eulogy about her dad today. She simply adored him and I know her life will be forever changed and difficult without him. She didn't read words of sorrow and despair today. She talked about Mickey's love of family, pastry, taking naps (and encouraging everyone around him to nap with him!), his generosity and lastly, how he loved a good time. As she talked about his love of hats, she then plopped on her head a red, white and green knitted hat, Mickey's favorite. Michelle is never afraid of how she might look silly, especially in front of a church full of people. That is one of the things I love about her! She put the "fun" in funeral today. I know, it sounds strange to be laughing at a funeral....but Mickey was always laughing and looking for a good time. Mickey would want everyone laughing at his funeral and Michelle gave him exactly that.

Today was an incredible celebration for an incredible man.

He had endured a difficult childhood, losing his dad at the age of 10. He survived major trauma in World War II. The man was no stranger to tragedy, yet he lived out the rest of his life having fun and he taught his daughter, my best friend to do the same. She too, has endured more than any parent should have to, yet she always has a smile on her face and a kick in her step. She is the one everyone goes to for guidance, a shoulder to cry on, and comic relief. I'll never know how she does it!

While I am not one for New Year's resolutions, this week I've been thinking outside of the usual box (exercise more, eat healthier, quit procrastinating). Instead, my resolution is to have more fun. More play dates for me, instead of my kids. Not taking life so seriously is going to be at the top of my list.

I dedicate these resolutions to you, Michael DiDomenico. Rest in Peace, Mickey. We love you!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Facebook. I love you I hate you

Do you have a love/hate relationship with FB? I do! Redbook magazine estimated that women spend 13 hours a week on FB! That's like...a whole freakin day. On the puter, perusing, snooping, gaming, commenting, poking, joking, sarcastic'ing, farming. It's one of those things you do after you check your email. You innocently log on to FB and get dragged into yet another group, a chat, a few minutes to see what so and so is up to.

We all have so much to do, yet what are we doing? Virtually......nothing. Sure, we communicate (I use that word loosely) with each other and with people we haven't seen in 20 years. Suddenly we're asking our 'friends', "Did you paint the bedroom mint green or mocha locha chocolatte?

We're lying in bed at night wondering the following:
1. Did Karl get that tattoo he's been talking about?

2. Did Amy satisfy her marshmallow pregnancy craving?

3. Did Theresa get that rash checked out?

4. What kind of witty FB status update will I put next?

It's not just the status updates that lure you in. But it's also the groups you join where you can feel a real sense of camaraderie. For me, I will join a group that I feel extremely passionate about. Like the time I joined one called "I like to clean the lint trap out of my dryer", or the ones I've created; "I love Tom Jones", "People Against Chimps as Pets" or "Brad Pitt wouldn't date Bea Arthur, or would he?". There was even a group created by a friend called "I love Becky Nero Facebook Groups". Yup. I got some fans. There really is something for everyone on Facebook.

As much as I hate what a time sucker it can be (if I let it), there are so many things to love about it.

Exhibit A: Seeing my 74 year old mother post things like "You go Girl!" on some one's wall. To me, this sounds suspiciously like a Depends ad.

Exhibit B: FB is so good at alerting us when our friends are in crisis. Who has a flat tire, who's PMS'ing, who fainted during their mammogram, who went to their favorite bakery and they were out of zeppoles.

Exhibit C: It brings people together in ways not previously possible. I have found out about numerous fundraisers for so many people in need: Bone marrow drives, cookbook sales to benefit schools and diseases, flood and fire victims needing help. I do believe that as much as FB can be such a negative and toxic place with many hate groups, conversely there are so many people helping people. And that, I like.

Exhibit D: It's harmless entertainment and does wonders for the shut-ins (self included). If you have the right group of FB friends (not the ones bragging about their handbags and cars) but the ones who can poke fun at themselves, offer you some encouragement, share your common interests, then well, FB can be a happy place.

And if you really like FB, join my fan page by clicking on the box in the upper right corner of this page!

Stylish Blogger Award goes to ....the most unstylish girl

A few days ago, a fellow blogger named Allyson of Serial Datist nominated me for this award. You all know I am not really very stylish and sometimes buy my clothes at Job Lot. But if someone wants to nominate my blog, I will not disagree and feel very honored to accept this award. My blogging skills are sort of like those of a 4 year old and I have so much to learn but I'll get there eventually. I will not let it stop me from writing!

Here are the rules to accepting this award:

1. Thank the person who sent it to you (check)

2. Share 7 things about yourself. (See below)

3. Pass the award on to bloggers who you think are awesome.

4. Contact the bloggers you picked and let them know about the award!

Here are the blogs I have chosen. Please check them out!

Mixed Salad Annie for making and photographing such beautiful food

Pizza Therapy for putting your heart and soul into my favorite food!

RitzyPicsPhotography for capturing such beautiful moments on film!

The Savvy Shopper for offering all kinds of tips from fashion to food and how to cut without losing quality.

Here are my Seven Things

1. I have a strange aversion to Ugg boots and tutus.
2. I will never understand how some people with children maintain houses that look like museums no matter when you "pop" in their houses.

3. Some nights when I'm in bed and I have to go tinkle, I think to myself, "I'd rather wet the bed than get up". That's how tired and lazy I can be.

4. I don't think I will ever have a flat belly.

5. I don't know how to think about nothing and I wish I could.

6. The year 2011 is going to be the year of the Hot Weiner pizza. You heard it hear first.

7. I eat chocolate in the closet.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bed Bath & Beyond: Part 2

In a recent October post, I bragged (a little too much) about returning my malfunctioning Tassimo coffee maker to Bed, Bath, & Beyond with no receipt, after 3 years. Triple B happily exchanged it for a brand new one. No hassle return policy works for me! As you'll recall, I was also given a $50 rebate form. Now, I thought it was pure madness that they would give me a rebate on something I technically didn't purchase, but I completed the rebate form anyway and a few weeks later I received my $50 check.

Now, I have to admit, I felt a little guilty receiving this check. It's not that I don't like freebies and deals, but something in me just felt like I was "bucking the system", so to speak. I wondered how many people make a living trying to cheat the system, thus driving up costs of other things.

So, what did I do with the check? I cashed it. But then I thought I should pay it forward to someone else. I bought 4 tickets for my family to see Bill Harley and Keith Munslow in concert to benefit the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. The tickets were $12 each, totalling $48. Bill and Keith are amazing performers and are so generous with their time to help others in need.

There are so many people struggling all over. The Rhode Island Community Food Bank is in dire need this year. Thanks to people like Bill Harley and Keith Munslow, a great time was had by many families and in turn, families in need will hopefully get the food they need.

Paying it forward really does feel good. Please share any ways you like to pay it forward. I'd love to hear about your good little deeds.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Well, Hello Dolly!

Photo credits to Ann Levesque from RIMag who was kind enough to
feature this recipe in the December issue

Have you ever been invited to a cookie swap and just got so overwhelmed by the idea of baking for hours on end? Well, here is the perfect cookie swap recipe! It requires no bowls, at all! I promise. And no standing by the oven waiting for the next batch to bake. Some people call them Magic Bars but in my family we call them Hello Dollies.

My grandfather, Americo always loved these cookies, especially at Christmas time. And every time he saw me he'd say, "Hello Dolly!" Grampa was about 5 feet tall and always wore baby blue shirts and white pleather shoes. Every year, no matter how busy and stressed I get around Christmas, I still make time for Dolly because it's the easiest cookie to make and it connects me back to my Grampa Rico! My nieces and nephews love these cookies too and I hope, one day they make them for their kids and pass on the tradition.

Last year I was invited to a cookie swap and made 6 dozen Dollies and froze them in Ziploc bags. Then we had a blizzard. Cookie swap was cancelled and I was "stuck" with all these cookies. If you must know, they taste just as good frozen (if not better) and somehow I worked my way through a few dozen, enjoying my own little cookie swap with myself, every day.
Hello Dollies
1 stick butter (or 1 stick Smart Balance 50/50 blend)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups shredded sweetened coconut flakes
1 (14 oz) can fat free sweetened condensed milk
Melt butter and pour in a 9x13 inch pan. Evenly coat the butter with the graham cracker crumbs to form a crust. Evenly sprinkle the nuts, then chocolate chips, then the coconut. Pour the condensed milk evenly to cover the entire surface of coconut. That's it!
Bake 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden brown, being careful not to burn as the edges tend to get darker. Cool slightly and cut into bars. Makes approx 24 bars.
1. Use pecans or chopped peanuts
2. Change the chips you use (butterscotch, milk chocolate,white, or a mixture of a few kinds).
Note, I am not a big believer in "lightening up" a cookie recipe. But if I can cut some fat somewhere without sacrificing flavor, I will. There is no difference in using fat-free condensed milk or the regular kind. And the Smart Balance butter blend provides the buttery taste you're looking for but also cuts some fat.
I hope you all enjoy these cookies. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!