Fun with Pinterest 1950's Edition

Official Song of the 1950's Housewife.  Read on and find out why...(as if you don't already know).

One of my favorite social media sites is Pinterest.  I can't tell you how many times I have stared hopelessly into the depths of my fridge to find meat with no inspiration to follow.  I only have to worry for 2 minutes until I can get Pinterest up on my computer to help me.  But what about the holidays!

What appetizer can I make for Thanksgiving? 

What can I do for a side salad for Christmas?

What can I take to holiday parties?

How can I jazz up my Thanksgiving table without too much effort?

Luckily, I am living in modern day where all I have to do is type those questions in and Voila! More answers await than I have time to even explore.

But what if I was in the middle of life in the 1950's?  I would have to turn to magazines and cookbooks like those poor housewives of the old days.  As I wandered around the local antique store in town, I happened upon three Better Homes and Gardens magazines from the 1950's and almost fell over as I anxiously turned the pages and read the Holiday Tips and Recipes section. Could you imagine if Pinterest was around back then - you'd have basically three boards:  Jello, Loaves, and Casseroles.  Bahahaa!

I decided to share some of the funniest photos, articles and recipes so that you could really embrace the idea of what Pinterest has done for us and how far we've actually come in what we have to work with.

I hope you get a good laugh out of it - and since the holidays are, in fact, coming, and we will be using Pinterest more than ever, this should help you really take time to appreciate the gift that program really is to us.

Enjoy, and until next time, stay away from surprise Jello.

The first colorful page that not only caught my eye, but also made my stomach turn immediately, was the article called "Thrifty Hamburger Dinners."  This collection of recipes include  Hamburger Ring Barbeque; a recipe that involves baking meatloaf in a jello mold and decorating the middle of the ring with green beans slathered in butter and topped with a sweet and spicy barbeque sauce, and several other gag-worthy nightmares.  Center stage of the photo stars a recipe for "Upside Down Hamburger Pie" that  calls for a combination of ground beef, FAT, and tomato soup on a bed of biscuits and topped with raw onion rings.  Not sure about your kids, but I might have a complete uprising if I put that on the table, not to mention, I try not to stock my pantry with fat in a jar.  One of the funniest things I noticed that 6 out of the 10 hamburger recipes call for tomato soup, fat, and green beans.  The lack of choices when pulling these dishes together was equal parts funny and sad.  Other recipe titles in this article were:  "He-Man Casserole," "Chef's Surprise,"  (you will see the word "surprise" used often in these recipes), "Savory Meatpie," and "Steak and Onion Pie."  I don't know about you, but none of those yell "MAKE ME TONIGHT."  Maybe I'm too picky?

This comes from an article called "Thrifty Hamburger Dinners."
 I had to include this advertisement for Libby's because it caught my eye as I flipped through.  I am kind of jealous that I don't own a Vegetable Tilt-a-Whirl.  Imagine how fun a buffet table would look with one of these - preferably not with succotash-like themes in the mini-cars of the ferris wheel.  Maybe hummus, dip, raw veggies, fruit?  Not sure, but I NEED this 1950's  server on my Holiday Table. 

Because your table is plain old naked without the Veggie Ferris Wheel.
I had to post this Prize Recipes photo because it is such a sad representation of what these people had to work with for exciting new dishes in the 50's.  Think about what a recipe needs to win a prize THESE days of Pinterest and then consider the "winners" of that year.  Some of the winners include:
Pennsylvania Dutch Pepper Cabbage - main ingredient is Heinz canned Chicken Stew with Dumplings.   A close second place winner include Macaroni Tuna Loaf starring a can of "Macaroni in Cheese Sauce" (sorry folks, no longer found in can variety in stores!), and get this - "Hearty Beans: a masculine favorite with a special feminine appeal when topped with onion braised in butter."  Because nothing yells feminine touch like being braised in butter and smelling like onions.  Oh the creative writing of Mad Men agencies to make Heinz Cooking Contest sing the praises of women all over the country.  For dessert, the big winner was a 'Big, Cool, Refreshing Fruit Salad" made with canned fruit, GARNISHED WITH FRESH FRUIT and  - wait for it - topped with HEINZ VINEGAR.  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! NO NO NO NO! 
One of the "Prize Winning Entries"  consists of Cream of Canned Macaroni.  *Shudder*
Moving on to desserts.  You can't imagine the poor choices and horrible ideas that were suggested in these magazines.  First of all, everything is a BIG SURPRISE.  I'm not sure if the 50's lacked that much zest for life, or general lack of surprise - but why did the element of fun and shock have to come via dessert?  I don't know about you, but I like birthday surprises, and party surprises, but NOT surprises in my spoonfuls of food. Maybe we just aren't risk takers like the people of the 50's?  Take this "WHITE Mystery Fruitcake"  (why is white capitalized? was it that big of a shocker that the cake would be white?) Aren't there enough surprises in fruit cake as it is - why more?  Because MORE surprises make it MORE fun to NOT eat!  Guess what the mystery ingredient that makes it white is!  Betty Crocker WHITE cake mix.  WHO KNEW! Those were some wild and crazy contestants in the kitchen of Top Chef Betty Crocker Corporation.  Oh, and just for fun, don't forget to throw in white frosting to really confuse them.
Why all the mystery?  Were the 50's missing that much excitement that their surprises had to come by way of their food?
You guys, I can't.  I don't know if I'm ready to talk about this one yet.  I'll try.  Want to know what the fun surprise ingredient is in these Thanksgiving dinner side dishes?  Mayonnaise.  Oh, and Pineapple....or maybe the walnuts?  or the unflavored gelatin (why did EVERYTHING have to be Jello-like consistency?)  Don't you dare forget to serve it on a bed of lettuce and TOP IT WITH ANOTHER TABLESPOON OF MAYO!  
Cranberry Souffle Surprise - Jello Plus Mayo Plus Lemon = NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO and the slogan "This is the place for Hellman's?  No...actually, this is NOT the place, like at all...for Hellman's. Go home to your tuna salad where you belong."
I feel like the sad part about the Holiday Edition of the Better Homes 1950's edition was the large section DEDICATED to fruit cake.  What was so damn elegant about fruitcake?  NO ONE ATE THEM.  Everyone brought them to each other's house and smiled their June Cleaver smile while secretly rolling their eyes to heaven as they placed it on the dessert table.  No seven layer bars?  No three tier cake boss type cakes at these parties?  Ooof.  No wonder the ladies were so damn skinny - the food choices were disgusting! 
Yay for more secrets!!! Oooh tell us! What is the BIG SECRET in this beauty?  Double rich Pet Milk!  WHAT THE HELL IS PET MILK ANYWAY?? Turns out it was just evaporated milk...and they thought that was a great idea to name it. I know they claim that Pet Milk was the big surprise ingredient, but as I look over the list, I have to say I am torn between the Marshmallows, dates, and the surprise alcohol flavoring.  All of them just so unexpected it's hard to say who wins. 
 I was utterly terrified while reading the treats that every holiday feast must include.  Take the Yuletide Mold for starters.  Of course the recipe calls for even more unflavored gelatin (why..for the love - was jello the only consistency they could eat??? What the hell?), SOUR CREAM, AVOCADO (weren't they just ahead of their time using avocado!?), TABASCO - oh make it stop! Your Yuletide Mold cried for only the BEST salad dressing, pimiento and oranges.  Are you starting to wonder if anyone actually ate any of this?  Could you imagine the poor kids?  "Now honey, be a good boy and eat all of your Yuletide Mold that Grandma made!"   GROSS!  Moving on to the Gala Fruit Wreath pictured below, that bowl of white creamy stuff in the middle is in fact, NOT cream cheese fruit spread or anything fun like that - no delicious goodness to dip your fruit in.  It is, my friends, MAYONNAISE.  More Mayonnaise.  Mayonnaise and jello, mayo and veggies, mayo and meat, mayo and fruit. MAYO MAYO MAYOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.  Do you think when these ladies were making their holiday dishes they just started singing, "I throw my hands up in the air sometimes singing "MAYO...GOTTA USE MAYYYOOOO." 
 Come on people!  Don't you just want to yell back in time and tell them that some day they will live a life without JELLO AND MAYO SURPRISES!  Hang in there - Pinterest is commmmmmminnnnnnnng!    Okay let's talk about the frosted King Henry grapes on the Gala Fruit Wreath.  Maybe their grapes weren't already white from pesticide like ours are now - maybe they didn't have to wash them six times to get that film off?  So they had to create their own frosted look with using egg whites and coating them in sugar.  Egg whites and sugar.  Egg whites and Sugar....on their grapes.  Who ate this stuff?  They suggest using the Wreath as a centerpiece AND a Salad OR Dessert.   Wait, what?  When they give you the choice of using something as a salad OR a dessert we have a serious problem. I feel extremely sad that they suggest garnishing your wreath with - are you ready?  Holly leaves.  What poor, unknowing man will innocently grab a holly leaf, dip it in that irresistIble mayo dip and end up in the guest bathroom with side effects of eating holly leaves like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach and intestinal problems.  It's just not a party until you have Poison Control on the heavy rotary phone.
Gala Fruit Wreath: Center a large round platter with bowl of Fluffy Mayo, apple cups placed on groups of 3 lettuce ruffles, fill in with fruits like canned pears, canned peaches, canned pineapple, canned apricots, frosted grapes AND fresh kumquats.  Oh that made me laugh - everything canned and frosted - but must add fresh kumquats.  Who the hell does Kumquats thing he is? lol!  Don't forget the candied ginger to ease stomach upset after eating the poisonous holly leaves.  WAY TO GO BETTER HOMES.   THIS IS A CLASSIC.
 Shoot!  I forgot to pop this in under Fun with Holiday Appetizers!!  This amazing Holiday Cheese Ring is not enough when served on a platter with crackers - it MUST be adorned in toxic glass Christmas bulbs!   You guys, really?   Why would it ever, EVER, be necessary to adorn a cheese ring with GLASS BULBS??  I mean WTF? STOP THIS MADNESS 1950's housewives!  I'm begging you! 
Be extra careful how much you have to drink at this holiday party because slicing into a cheese ring could poison you.
 Why should Pillsbury have all of the fun with their bad ideas of cheese roll center poisoning decor?  What about this brilliant idea for your cake center?  In this recipe for "Cherry Candle Cake" it will LOOK like Christmas when you light this candle on your dessert table!  When you cut this deliciously light and airy cake, folks will see the red flecks of candied cherry and not know whether they are part of the outside lead paint of the red candle or actual bits of cherry!  Nothing says risk taker like throwing caution to the wind and really digging into this toxic cake!  I'll tell you, folks will be lined up outside of the guest bathroom at this awesome party!

That's it for now my friends.  I hope you got a good laugh like I did - - and now you will really appreciate Pinterest, and the millions of recipes at your fingertips this holiday season.  May your season be merry, bright, peaceful, and without Jello, Mayo, Food Surprises, & Poison.  We've come a long way, baby.

First Degree Burn(out)

It's Sunday, my friends. 

I don't know about you but I am exhausted.  I feel as though once Spring actually came, we were so deprived from the long cold winter and being stuck inside for month after month, that we went outside and barely stopped moving for fear we'd find ourselves hibernating again in the cold before we knew it.

And here we are.  Spring came late and left early - chased away by Summer and all of the activities that it brings.  Between baseball and lacrosse, dance recitals, graduations, summer bbqs, and the go go go in general, Summer was gone in a blink.  Back to school started a new type of whirlwind with adjusting to new teachers and students and schedules and soccer.  Every weekend packed full of stuff....stuff to keep us busy, stuff to provide photos for Instagram and Facebook for all to see that we are important people that are on the move and keeping up with the Joneses. (I'm speaking in general, tongue-in-cheek terms, here). Suddenly, it's October 19th and we've baked all we can for fall festivals and last day of soccer games and craft fairs and and and freaking and.     We. Are. Exhausted.

But wait....there's more.

There are bills to pay.
There are houses to clean.
There is a mound of laundry to be tackled.
There is ISIS.
Political Campaign Calls.
Notes from school bearing news of Lice, Strep, Croup...etc.

Is it any wonder we are fried?  When this is the song that's playing in our heads on a daily basis, of course we're going to be burned out!  GOTTA GO TO WORK- GOTTA GO TO A MEETING- GOTTA HIT THE BANK- NEED TO GET GAS -HAVE TO MAIL A PACKAGE- THE KIDS NEED A CHECKUP- I SHOULD COLOR MY HAIR- WE'RE OUT OF MILK- I JUST READ ON FACEBOOK THAT MY FRIEND'S AUNT'S COUSIN'S ROOMMATE FROM COLLEGE WAS ON A PLANE WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS EBOLA-I FORGOT MY GRANDMOTHER'S BIRTHDAY-THE GARAGE DOOR IS BROKEN-WE SHOULD GO TO CHURCH SUNDAY BUT NONE OF THEIR CHURCH SHOES FIT....  Maybe it's not all of the things we have to do in any given week that stresses out, but the THOUGHT of all of the things we have to do.  Maybe we over think things - maybe we just need to realize so much of this isn't even in our control and just learn to let it roll and take it as it comes.  Ha! Easier said than actually done.

We, as parents, have to keep moving forward, keeping up with everything and everyone, and life in general.  We cannot lag behind.  There is no one to push us in a stroller, or hold our hand to pull us along and keep us focused on the treat at the end of the day - no - only we can do that and sometimes, damn it, it's hard.   This is when I feel like I'm suffering from First Degree Burnout.  I say First Degree because it's uncomfortable, but not dangerous.  But the fear of Second and Third Degree Burnout startles me.  That feeling when you want to give up or you have given up.   I am somewhat comforted by the thought that we all must feel that way at some point, right?

Look, I know life is hard.  As a middle class mama, no matter what I complain about, it does sound like First World problems compared to so many in this world that suffer, but that doesn't minimize our struggles.  Parents are parents.  We want our children to be okay, to be healthy and stay healthy, to have kind friends and wonderful teachers, to be good friends and respectful students.  We want them to do their best, be their best, and above all, be happy little ones.  But let's face it, we are afraid for the world we live in.  We know too much, and in their little faces we see innocence and want to protect them from the ugly that's all around us.  We are tired - and rightfully so.  We are all just doing the best we can and sometimes in the midst of all of that we get a little lost and a bit weary - and maybe that's why winter comes just when we need it most.  It's like a way of forcing us back in the nest to settle in earlier, cozy up on the couch here and there and just exhale. 

I love this quote.

Getting burned out is something we all experience - some of us weekly, or monthly, or yearly or if you are really lucky - longer than that.  We care so much about our families and our homes and our jobs - our communities, our world - that we exhaust ourselves and our minds and even our souls with the worry and exhaustion that comes along with caring.  We go to bed completely wiped out every night with a thousand scenarios dancing in our heads - did we forget this or that - what's on tap for tomorrow - what if someone gets sick - what if ...what if...what if?  Shhhhh....we try to quiet our minds and thankfully, and most of the time, we are so tired that sleep takes us quickly.  If we keep going like this - like the Energizer bunny on crack - we get a mandatory time out by way of illness - cold, fever, whatever.  We've got to stop thinking this kind of go-go-go is temporary and realize it can and will become a way of life if we don't slow it down a little.  How many of us are walking around cranky, irritable, tired, worried, and weary and feeling like there is NO TIME for anything - and whatever there is requires what feels like an unbearable amount of effort.  Have you ever heard the beginning of the depression commercials when they ask "are you worried, sad, tired, depressed...blah blah..."  well most of us answer yes to all of the above.  An emphatic Yes to it all.

So - what do we do?  Isn't that the million dollar question?  I only know what I have been doing lately to survive.   First of all, with the whole Ebola thing - read the facts, educate yourself and free your mind of the bombardment of media.  Once you've done that, you are not a prisoner of fear of the unknown anymore.  Other scary stuff - I continue to live my life in the most happy, carefree way possible - and know that when it is my time to go, I will go and there's not much I can do about that other than not play in traffic or text and drive.  I can at least NOT encourage my time to come get me earlier by making smart decisions.  As far as the state of our world, country, state, city, community - - - I take baby steps and volunteer my time for two non-profits in my area that provide much needed help to children in need.  By doing this, I am taking my worries, and my woes, and my frustration for how things are - and putting them to good use in results I can see with my own eyes.  Seeing the smile on a child's face when they get a new pair of boots, or coat, or snowpants, or get to go on one of our scholarships to basketball camp or get a hockey stick with our funding - THAT'S what helps put salve on my burns.  Do SOMETHING that helps SOMEONE.  This is the greatest gift you can give yourself and others.

Turning to friends and family and laughing and enjoying life is the great first aid, too.  You need these people to support you and encourage you and help you through the craziness. Just knowing you are not alone in the Marathon of Life helps more than you know.

The holidays are coming and I beg you, instead of letting them stress you out and continue the cycle of burnout - commit yourself to simplicity and helping others so that you might find solace in return.  We are the only ones who can restore our strength, fill our tanks up with positivity, and fight the good fight.

Until next time, find some relief to your burns, and know we're all in this together.


10 Reasons to Stay at the NickHotel in Orlando

Every once in the while, playing on the Internet actually pays off.  It was a cold and dreary March night.  I was suffering from the Indoor Blues, Spring Fever, lack of sunshine and fed up with the million and one snow days.  My kids were in bed.  It was a school night.  My husband was watching some sci-fi and I, of course, turned to my friends in my computer for entertainment.  I hopped on Twitter and joined in on a very fun Twitter Party hosted by Suburban Snapshots and  sponsored by the very funny people behind NickMom.  I am a huge fan, supporter, and lover of both of them and of course the goal of most twitter parties is to get the hashtag to trend, right?  So I figured I'd turn my grouchy frown upside down and have some fun with hilarious people talking about vacations on this twitter party. I used that hashtag as many times as I could while answering funny questions and responded to others.  At the end of the party, one lucky tweeter would win a 3 night trip to the NickHotel.  Believe it or not - I won the prize.  I could NOT believe I was seeing my name.  (sidenote: it was a computer generated win monitored by an actual prize company - so please don't hate me for once in my life being on the winning end of a contest - rest assured, I've never won any of these computer generated entries before and probably never will again).   SO...I won.  Imagine my sheer joy in knowing I would be able to take our family on a vacation that wouldn't have happened otherwise because no money, no funny as far as heading to Florida any time in our near future.

I kept it a secret from the kids for months.  I knew they always got the day-before-school-starts blues every year so I decided to give them a YES DAY to divert their attention to a fun way to spend the last day of summer vacation.  I granted them THREE wishes to say yes to (within reason, of course) and they were SO happy with the simplest of yes answers it went much smoother than I thought.  I told them there would be a Grand Finale after dinner to YES day.

Before the nerves of the first day of school could get them in a chokehold, my husband and I decided we would not drag it out any further.  We called them into the family room and told them we had a big surprise.  They had been begging us to go to Florida for three years, and each time, we had to tell them we just couldn't go this year.  It was a joy to finally be able to tell them that we were all going in just over a month.  Back to school blues went by the wayside and they were so happy they could hardly sleep.  This was one of the best gifts I could give them to arm  them with the courage to start another year of school with a very happy trip on the horizon to look forward to.

I am so grateful that I won this trip - I truly am.  I only wish everyone had the opportunity to go and experience the fun, happiness and excitement that the Nick Hotel has to offer families.  It's not what I would call a place to go and rest and relax - it is fast paced, fun, wild entertainment for the kids and the big kids too.   You just go-go-go because you don't want to miss out on anything!

Before I offer you the highlights of the 3 day trip, I will say this.  TWITTER PARTIES are worth it.  I am living proof that you can go 40 years without winning a stinkin' door prize at a raffle - but some day - your luck might change and you could find yourself plummeting down a waterslide compliments of NickMom.  So go for it - keep your eyes out of the next party and get in there and have some fun.  

Until next time - remember - sometimes good things really do happen to good people.
If you are wondering where the sun goes for vacation - look no more - it's almost always sunny at the NickHotel!

Top 10 Reasons to Stay at the Nickelodeon Suites Resort in Orlando, FL

1.   SpongeBob & Friends  - - Everywhere.

2.  Play & win prizes in the cleanest arcade around in The Mall. Seriously, this was one of my boys' favorite places to spend their in-between time.  It was constantly being wiped down by housekeeping. 
My boys had SO much fun in the arcade - and they kept it SPOTLESS.

3.  Have the time of your life on the awesome waterslides right outside your door! Hey - how did that frozen drink get in the photo?  *cough*   The waterslides varied so littles and bigs can enjoy the different slides.  I enjoyed just hanging out poolside as you can see.  Also, they are so obsessed with keeping the place clean, they have several times each day where they get everyone out of the pool to clean it.  I loved that they kept the resort incredibly clean.
Pay no attention to the frozen beverage in the foreground...

4.  See what it's like to be a contestant on Double Dare LIVE!  Two out of my three boys were picked from the audience to be a contestant.  It was SO much fun.  I don't think I have every laughed so hard in my entire life.  It really was a great time and I highly recommend it if you do go.
Youngest was a contestant on Double Dare and had to find a cherry in a pile of whipped cream before his opponent did!

5.  Rest easy in their huge themed suites with bunk beds for the kids.  They even had little nightlights right next to their pillow.  The suites were spacious and clean - and bonus - a coffeemaker in the kitchen!  Swoon.
The boys loved their Danny Phantom room with bunk beds and their very own tv with remote. 

6.  Have dinner with Ninja Turtles and learn the coolest moves around.  The TNMT dinner was a highlight for the boys who are huge fans.  They served an Italian style buffet dinner that was really tasty.
Dinner was DELICIOUS.  The turtles came to every single table.

7.  Family friendly EVERYTHING.  Seriously, it is just a very happy, bright, cheery place.
Everywhere the kids look, they will find their favorite Nick friends.

8.  FREE SHUTTLE to all four Disney Parks, Universal Studios, and several others! Trust me, having a free shuttle to these places was a huge perk because cabs cost money!

This was taken at Ollivanders at Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Universal Studios). The boys picked out their interactive wands and had a blast using them all around the shops.

9. Games Everywhere.  When checking in at the lobby, there are ipads on the wall, slideshows, computer games, and plenty of things to do to keep them occupied when you are busy getting other things done!

In every waiting area there are fun things for kids to do!

10. The kids will love it!  My boys were on Cloud 9 the ENTIRE time we were there. There was always something to do and even the down time in the room was fun.
Sitting in Blue's thinking chair. Just Think. Think. Think.