Saturday, November 21, 2009

FRESH & SUPER EASY! And Awesome!

Fresh & Easy: Bring your boyfriend. Wear matching shirts. Have a great time!


OK, first off my sincere apologies for posting this blog SO embarrassingly late, but I'm just now getting my personal blog, FunnyYellowMom, in order after a whirlwind of traveling and whatnot earlier in the year. Telling you of my true love for Fresh and Easy is something I couldn't just let fall by the wayside, even if it is five months too late, so... here goes...

Waaaaay back in July 2009 (yes, 5 months ago... time flys when you have a toddler), I was lucky enough to attend a Fresh and Easy cooking demo with their Head Chef, Mike Ainslie at Sur La Table in the Los Angeles Farmer's Market. I can not begin to tell you how much fun I had at this event, but let me begin anyway...

First off, if you're not in CA, NV or AZ, then you probably have never heard of Fresh and Easy... I think it's best described as Trader Joe's meets Whole Foods but simpler and more affordable. The employees are friendly and helpful, the stores are basic and food is natural with lots of organic, they have yummy free samples every day, recycle bins on the way out the door, two sizes of shopping carts... I could go on and on. SIMPLE and AFFORDABLE! LOVE IT!

Back to our cooking demo night: upon arrival there were appetizers and drinks and then we broke up into four groups and prepared four simple and affordable dishes with ingredients entirely from Fresh and Easy. My group made mini pizzas and I think mine were quite spectacular! They look like amoebas, don't they?!


The other dishes were baked honey dijon chicken fingers, salmon with soba noodles and beef fajitas. All of the dishes were prepared and cooked and then, the best part, we all got to eat together. Everything was delicious and at the risk of sounding like a complete cheeseball, I was really impressed by the affordability of the complete meals. One of the things I loved about this event is that we each received printed copies of all of the recipes with itemized prices of all of the ingredients.

Since this event, I've made the beef fajitas, pizzas and chicken fingers several times. I even had my friend, Marsha (aka Sweatpantsmom) and her family of four, over for Fresh and Easy pizzas last night! I'm not kidding, I'm really in love with this store.

And I'm lucky that I have a Fresh and Easy about 3 miles from my front door and since discovering it, I haven't set foot in a Trader Joe's. Their parking lots make me want to shoot myself in the eyeball. So good on ya, Fresh and Easy. Once again, I'm sorry this is so late, but I'll keep throwing pizza parties in your honor!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Red Plum & YUM! Save Your Bucks :)




On November 18, I attended an event put on by Red Plum, called My Frugalicious Holiday at the not very "frugalicious" but super swank, SLS Beverly Hills Hotel. You're more than likely thinking, "Red WHO?!" And honestly, that's what I was wondering too when I got the invite. I was pleasantly surprised to find out more about Red Plum in a super fun setting, we had some delicious nosh and I even won a prize!!

Red Plum is a site you should all check out. Considering the tough economic times, it is nice to be able to tell you about a company that is helping you save a buck rather than JUST wanting to earn yours. RedPlum.com has coupons and deals for grocery, restaurants, online discount codes, life@home and style. Many of the coupons can be printed right from your own printer and there are actually practical ones that normal people use. I find that "coupon" and "bargain" sites often have a lot of ridiculous crap that most people aren't interested in, like open a Fill-In-The-Blank Visa card today AND then purchase sixteen 100 oz bags of Johnny Cat Litter AND sign up for an online degree program to become a medical transcriptionist and then you will receive a $5 coupon to Babies R Us... even though your child is no longer a baby because it took so long for you to complete the required transactions. Oh and we'll continue to charge your credit card $9.95/month for the Johnny Cat Litter unless you read this tiny little print and call the customer service number that will route you to a lady named "Tina" in India, to cancel your Johnny Cat Litter Club membership. And Tina will NOT let you cancel until she's told you about all the reasons you need the litter and magically, at some point during this lengthy scripted, digitally altered spiel - you will get disconnected and have to start all over again. And you don't even have a cat.

NOT at Red Plum though! I just found some really simple and decent deals to help save some bucks in everyday life.

At the My Frugalicious Holiday event we were treated to an amazing spread of Spanish tapas style appetizers and a full bar. I especially liked the "salted wrinkly potatoes". No joke! They were awesome and I got the guys from the kitchen to tell me how to make them.


We also received some really cool, affordable gift ideas under $30 and a goodie bag full of some of the items. I think my favorite item was the "How Many Days Ago" which is a little kitchen gadget that will count off how many days food has been open in the fridge! You can get a suction cup, magnet or elastic band attachment and stick it onto a food item when you open it. No more guessing how long the left overs have been marinating in the back corner! This is a great stocking stuffer idea as they are only $8 for a pack of two!


Ikea helped sponsor the event and I was lucky enough to win a raffle prize of some Ikea candle holders! It was a really fun night with some great gift ideas for everyone! Thanks Red Plum!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Daughter's New Squeeze: Mickey Mouse


Ignore the look of fear! She was REALLY excited!


Last month my daughter - 2 year old Aubrey - and I had the privilege of being invited to a really fun Disney event: Mickey's Virtual Train Tour. This special event was the final stop in Mickey's virtual train tour from Kansas City to Los Angeles. It was held at the Griffith Park Travel Town Museum and I have to say, anything I have ever attended that was put on by Disney has been such a blast!

THE Mouse, himself, was there to greet the toddlers and their parents. We were treated to a private screening of the new primetime special Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Choo Choo Express which aired on the Disney Channel on Oct 25 and will be released on DVD on Amazon on December 1, 2009. The kids got also got to play with the new Fisher Price Mickey's Magic Choo Choo train toy. I was pleasantly surprised that this train toy was a big hit with my daughter as she has never expressed much interest in playing with trains. She'd rather ride them... and we got to do that too!

The Travel Town Museum has a really cool kiddie sized train that loops around the museum and it's big enough for adults to ride along. It's a nice long ride and my daughter loved every minute. Little ones were also treated to a a Hot Dog Dance lesson, coloring pages station, photos and hugs with Mickey Mouse, balloons and hunky Marines handing out take home surprises (a kiddie train conductor's hat, a book, some temporary tatoos)! This was mommy's favorite part.



I'll be honest here - I wasn't sure if my daughter even knew who Mickey Mouse was. We mostly watch Nick Jr in our house and she had only been to Disneyland once when she was 18 months old. But when I told her we were going to meet Mickey Mouse she got VERY excited. Something about the sound of his name, I guess. For about a year, she use to confuse him with Chuck E Cheese (sorry Disney) but after this event, there is no mistaking the #1 mouse in her life. She was totally smitten and we had a great time. Thank you Disney for some fantastic, happy memories from a special day together!

Here is a little video of Aubrey, waiting patiently, for her turn with a personal hang with Mickey Mouse. They played a little pat-a-cake:

video

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Toddler, The Basketcase



October was a really trying month for my little Aubrey and me but we made it through with a little help from Skype, Nelly the snuggler elephant and cabernet...

I know everyone thinks their kid can do no wrong and for a while, mine was pretty darn close. I'm totally aware that this sounds SO stuck up, but in the great scheme of things, she really was a textbook "good" child. Especially for a two year old. Very few tantrums, likes to share, naps and sleeps well, potty trained like a champ, eats almost anything you put in front of her, never gets sick, plays well alone or with others, intelligent and kind. And beautiful... because she looks like her mother. I was kind of living on toddler easy street until - dum dum dum dum (you're supposed to sing Beethoven's 5th there) - my ex, her father, went on a three week business trip out of the country.

Neither of us had ever been away from her that long and I truly underestimated what a traumatic effect it would have on her as she had always been such an easy going child. My ex - let's make up a name for him so I can stop referring to him as "My Ex". How about Lex. It rhymes with ex and also reminds me of Lex Luther. Lex and I split when Aubrey was still an infant. We have shared custody and a full time, live-in nanny between our two homes so Aubrey is accustomed to a back and forth lifestyle but she had never gone without seeing one of us for more than a week at a time.

During the first week of Lex's trip, things were pretty normal, but slowly, sneakily, the anxiety started to seep into my child's behavior. First were the sleep disturbances. She woke during the night crying, completely inconsolable. She fought naps, crying for over an hour at times until she finally gave in to exhaustion.

Next came the potty regression! NOOOO!!! Suddenly, there was no more interest in going pee pee on the potty and forget the poo. She didn't even want to try anymore and I had just gotten her to about 90% potty trained. Whenever I asked her if she wanted to try a pee on the potty the answer was always a sad frowny faced, "no". Sigh.

Then the mini hunger strikes began and then the aggression towards the dog. Pushing and kicking poor Bob Barker. This is the first time I've had to work with her on saying "I'm sorry," and it wasn't pretty.

There was also the expected increase in separation anxiety from me. It got to the point where I just walked in the next room and she would start crying for me. You can only imagine the drama when I had to actually leave the house for real. But of all the manifestations of Aubrey's daddy missings the weirdest of all was this - a video of the Happy Hippo singing The Lion Sleeps Tonight on YouTube.

Aubrey's old nanny used to play her this video over a YEAR AGO when she was a baby. She used to like to watch it and it made her laugh. She literally hadn't seen it since then and we had never talked about it. Then one day, out of the blue she said to me in a sad little voice, "Hippo? Wi-mo-weh song?" I thought she wanted to see the video so I pulled it up on my iPhone and she began screaming in terror, covering her ears! "No no no no no no! I don't want it. I don't want it!"

After this incident, the mere utterance of the word "hippo" would send her into a panic attack! Eventually, we had to turn it into a game and joke around about hippos:

Aubrey: There's a hippo in my room?
Me: Noooooo! There's no hippo in this house. Is Mommy a hippo?
Aubrey: Nooooo!!!
Me: Are you a hippo?
Aubrey: Nooooo!!!
(And then, much laughing would ensue. Hi-LAR-ious. I may use the hippo bit in my next show.)

So we figured out how to Skype Lex and we had a daily Skype appointment which helped quite a bit, but I can't tell you what a treat it was for me to have to see my ex and his girlfriend Skyping from their hotel room in bathrobes every day at 6pm. It was a little weird, but hey, this is my child's mental health we're talking about.

Oh and it's worth mentioning that to top all of this craziness off, Aubrey had a cold the ENTIRE time he was gone. Yes. Three weeks of coughing, sneezing and runny nose. I'm grateful it was nothing more serious, but it certainly contributed to my stress level.

Aubrey has a wonderful nanny who came up with the idea to buy her a calendar so she could decorate it and cross of the days in a count down until daddy came home. This was... not very helpful. Oh well. We just kept trying. At a certain point I realized that a two year old just can not grasp the concept of how long "three weeks" is. No matter how many times I told her that daddy was coming back in X number of days, she just didn't believe me. In her little toddler mind, she truly believed he was never coming back. It was so heartbreaking to see her this way. To see your child suffering and not really be able to help them - it's one of the worst feelings in the world.

The end of the three weeks finally came and I never thought I'd say it, but I couldn't wait for Lex to come home! I had never been so relieved to have him back and Aubrey was glad to see him too. This was a real trial for Aubrey and me and I think we both barely made it through with our sanity in tact. Lex has been back for about a week now and had promised to not take another trip that long while she's little. Aubrey is still working through a lot of separation anxiety. She still gets very worried when one of us has to go and she still doesn't want to use the potty for me or her nanny. A new twist is that she has also exhibited some anger towards Lex. She's a little mad at him for leaving her for so long. Complex emotions for a little person, huh?

Trying to look on the bright side of all of this, it has given me a new appreciation for Lex. As much as most people don't LOVE their ex's I will say that I'm very glad that Aubrey has a daddy that she really loves and that he is in her life, actively caring for her and helping provide for her. I know so many single mom's who don't have this basic need met and my heart goes out to each and every one of them. I don't know how they do it alone.

Also, it has reminded me how intense and sincere a toddler's emotions can be. I think twice before I laugh at little things she says and I really listen to her when she is trying to express herself. I'm lucky that I have a very verbal child. She was using full sentences by 18 months, so communication has been pretty simple for us, but we all too often dismiss our young children's emotions as child's play or toddler manipulation. Sometimes we even think they just don't know what they're talking about - but they do.

My father was a commercial airline pilot (side note: he was one of the pilots of the DB Cooper hijacking!) and when I was right around Aubrey's age, he was flying international routes and would be gone for several days at a time. I went through the exact same trauma that Aubrey went through, thinking my daddy was never coming back each time he left, and I remember it vividly. I went through many of the same anxieties - minus the hippo - and I think I turned out all right. I had a loving mommy who helped me through it and my daddy always came home, just like my mom told me.

Aubrey is at her dad's house today and I'm enjoying my alone time. I'm going to go to the gym, watch some grown up tv, catch up on some work and have a nice dinner with my boyfriend. Bob Barker is also enjoying her alone time.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Raking Leaves?! SEXY!!

Look at the sexiness of this man in action!


Hey there men in relationships with women! Here's a quick note from a woman in a relationship with a man...

WOMEN LOVE IT WHEN YOU DO MANLY CHORES! There I said it. I'm a liberal woman and I believe in equal rights and I'm pro-choice and all that independent gal kind of stuff, but really nothing is sexier than when a man does the manly things most women really don't want to do. If you want to get into your woman's pants, forget flowers and fancy dinners (well don't TOTALLY forget them). Here is a list of stuff you can do that will make your woman want to rip your clothes off and make you smile:

- Take out the trash and bring the bins to and from the curb
- Rake the leaves
- Clean out the garage
- Assemble something
- Reach really tall things that need attention like smoke alarm batteries and gutters
- Really, anything that involves getting on top of the house - go for it
- Take responsibility for anything that needs to be purchased at Home Depot
- If it's broken, fix it
- If it's heavy, lift it
- If it's dirty, deal with it
- If it's scary, kill it
- If it's already dead, dispose of it
- Paint it, hammer it, screw it, mow it, oil it... you get the picture

I'm not kidding. You will be taken care of if you can get a handle on this list. This has been a public service announcement.



Monday, November 2, 2009

We GOT CHOCOLATE MILK and More!


Monkey and Mommy safe from the rain in the Got Chocolate Milk tent!


Hey All! I have been SO consumed with my daughter's new found neurosis (post coming soon) that I have been super procrastinating on some posts about events I have gone to recently. So, here goes...

On October 13, little Aubrey and I had the great pleasure of attending the Got CHOCOLATE Milk Halloween Party to announce Angie Harmon as the newest Got Milk campaign spokesperson at the Los Angeles Paramount Studios. Got Milk is the campaign of the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) and they did a real knock out job throwing a killer Halloween party (pardon the cheesy pun).

October 13, 2009 was one of the rare Los Angeles days where it was monsoon raining so I had to run my 24 pound monkey (my 2 yr old was actually dressed like a monkey - I don't actually have a monkey) the equivalent of a couple city blocks to the safety of the tented party area, but the soak was worth it.


There was trick-or-treating on the brownstone NYC street set (we missed it because of my daughter's late nap time), chocolate milk, LOTS of yummy milk based treats like chocolate pudding in cute Halloween mugs, brownie bites dipped in milk chocolate, cookies and more. It was a sweet tooth's dream come true.

I will admit that I was a little taken aback by all the sweets at the party since it was geared towards families with young children, but I did learn that an 8 oz serving of chocolate milk has 300 mg of calcium which is a third of the recommended daily allowance. Also, studies show that children who drink chocolate or other flavored milks have a higher calcium intake than children who don't drink milk and they also tend to avoid sodas and other higher sugar/chemical based beverages. So, it's not all bad and I think I'll be a little more likely to allow chocolate milk as a special treat now. I would LOVE for her to dislike soda pop, PLEASE!

On that note, yes, that is my monkey child gnawing down on a white milk chocolate covered ghost decorated brownie bite above. I rarely let her have sweets, but this was a special day - her first Halloween party! AND proud mama is happy to report she only ate one bite. I think it was too sweet for her. She also only wanted to eat the pretzel stick in the pudding cup. What a little freak, huh? I LOVE it!

In addition to the edible treats, there was also a photo booth that took chocolate milk mustache pics (bummed we missed that too), a magician and a face painter (Aubrey still talks about the banana she got painted on her cheek), games and the swag bags were awesome with matching adult and kid "got chocolate milk" t-shirts and Ultra Flip Video cameras - an item I've always wanted but was too cheap to buy. Thanks CA Milk Processor Board! We LOVE it!

I am really REALLY wet & happy

The decorations were to die for (more cheesy puns), the staff was friendly and it really was an awesome Halloween bash. The rain was the only downer (more stupid puns - I swear I'm not trying) but this lactose intolerant mama says it was all worth it. We had a blast and milk is already my daughter's favorite beverage - this may be only because she's half caucasian and hasn't tried a Bahama Mama yet - but 2% is great for now.