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Friday, December 30, 2011

AND THE WINNER OF $50 Powercard For Dave and Buster's IS?

The Contest

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$50 Power Card For Plymouth Mtg or Franklin Mills

And the winner is...
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Entry #12Delcopa M.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Reality And Fairies In The Garden

Photo courtesy of Cloudcentrics

Was there a time in your life when reality hurt? When you'd rather talk to 'imaginary people' than to real ones?  Would you go back in time and make some changes?  Would I want to revisit my life in middle school, high school, college? And if I did what would I do differently? Wow, that's a tough one. Would I even want to go back and face those dragons again? Would I be any smarter this time around?

Maybe. Maybe I'd go back and work harder on my self-esteem issues. (Wow do we all have those issues as kids?) Yeah, I know, you never knew I had them...<G> I mean, I'm a world famous (ROFLMAO) blogger...but even for me, high school was a tough time. I fit in everywhere and nowhere. I was part of the in crowd and part of the dorks. I never quite found the place that really FIT. Looking back I realize I probably did 'fit'--we were all in the same boat, some of us just hid it better than others.

Did my grammar and high school days blight my life? No, but it sure would have been easier if I'd learned a few lessons sooner rather than later!

See I've always had a hard time with reality. Reality sucks. I mean really, reality isn't nearly as much fun as the life I live in my imagination (of course I have an active imagination!)  I would far rather play with the fairies that live at the bottom of the garden than go to work. But fairies, well as a grown up you start to realize they don't pay your bills. As a grown up there are a lot of times I'd rather talk to the people in my imagination than deal with REAL people. I mean, real people just aren't as much FUN! Real people have problems! REAL problems. Real people cop attitudes. They're difficult. They have jobs, responsibilities, families. And unfortunately few of us take the time to smell the roses or examine beauty of a single rose petal or a tiny violet or talk to the silver fairy who lives in her tiny dew drop house at the end of the garden.

As a child I never understood why when a teacher said whoever got the highest grade on the history test could be Abe Lincoln in the fifth grade play why she wouldn't let me do it. I got the highest grade. She let the BOY with the highest grade be Abe. She actually said 'you're a girl, you can't be president.' I'm still ticked off about that today! The reality was in Mrs. K's world women WEREN'T presidents or prime ministers or other people with power.  Thank goodness it's changed somewhat now.  But if I ever run into Mrs. K. I'll tell her just how much she ruined my psyche! I think that was the day she turned me into a mini-Gloria Steinem.

I think if I went back in time I'd like to learn to choose more wisely. Not to overestimate my abilities, but not underestimate them either. And I think I'd focus on being more assertive. I mean there are some things I'd need a brain transplant to change...face it, I'm never going to be able to master geometry and other advance math. It's just NOT my thing. The brain I have doesn't work that way. But I think I'd stop trying to do the tasks that are impossible, be more realistic. But still stretch myself. But would I want to give up the part of me that LIKES talking to the fairies or the people in the stories in my imagination. I don't think so. Would I want to give up the person who tortured her children by rewriting all the books as we sat and read each night? Or who made up whole stories just for them? No, I don't think so, but who knows what they'd say!

Photo from Garden Stew

OK, let's make one thing clear, it's not that I'm so far gone I think any of these fairies or imaginary people are real, or that I actually think I'm really talking to them. No, I just like the parallel universe I can create by storytelling. So blogging is a happy medium. It lets me tell the stories of my life while living in a real world. Perfect way to blend the two.   I guess that make the people I'm talking to fairies...that would be YOU!

How My Husband Got Religion At Kohl's

St. Andrew's Church photo courtesy of Lemax

Every Christmas my husband, just once, gets himself to our church, St. Andrews in Drexel Hill.  Yes church... it's hard to get him up and moving, he's not a terribly religious person nor does he like getting up in the morning.  So church is not high on his list of priorities.  But this Christmas my husband got religion.  I have to admit he's the last person I ever thought would be 'born again.'   But this Christmas season he got religion at Kohl's. 

Photo courtesy of Lemax

Yes, I know... I hear you saying to yourself, Kohl's? The Store? The one where I bought my kids boots and a new mixer? Yes THAT Kohl's. It seems it's not safe to send my husband into Kohl's or the hardware store. Now he has a new collection, but this time it's not houses, it's churches. LEMAX Churches. Not just one you understand, not just two, no he now is the proud owner of THREE churches. One has a gleaming gold cross on the steeple with his own personal minister out front. 

He found his very own St. Andrew's Church on the shelves of Kohl's.  It lights up and is decorated for Christmas, so now he has his own excuse to stay home from Christmas morning mass! Of course I threatened him with blaring hymns for him to listen to while I was at church and recording the sermon for him to listen to later.  Yes, Christmas morning mass is nothing like it used to be. 

Photo courtesy of Lemax

So now my husband doesn't even have to leave home to get religion.  Now he has his choice of three different churches in our living room.  Not quite the same as when my daughters decided to become Baptists (they go to church, real church).  Somehow I doubt their old pastor would be as upset over that as my husband's new religion.  The religion of "plugging in and sleeping in."  He lights up his churches and proceeds to catch another 40 winks.  Somehow I can't quite justify it... I'm still going to old fashioned church.  Some things never change!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Parisian Squirrels--Even Ride Bikes With Style

Video Courtesy of American Airlines on

Have you ever noticed that squirrels seem to mimic their human counterparts?  Just compare the chic French squirrels seen in the video above with their boring and sometimes tacky counterparts in  Philadelphia. 

It seems Parisian squirrels have a bit more style than their American counterparts, at least the ones where I live in Philadelphia. In Paris they have RED squirrels.  Not gray and boring Philadelphia squirrels!  Have you ever seen a Philadelphia, or worse yet, a JERSEY squirrel with a sense of style?  All the squirrels I see look like they've been in a rumble with between the Sharks and the Jets. Tails scraggly, fur ripped off.  I'm not sure what these squirrels do in their spare time but it certainly isn't anything as cosmopolitan as enjoying macarons at their local bistro. Jersey squirrels are just as bad.  I mean have you SEEN those people on Jersey Shore?  Obviously the squirrels take after their human counterparts--totally lacking in style.  Imagine what the squirrels would look like if they'd filmed this ad in Philadelphia. Down in South Philly they'd mimic their human counterparts and would be wearing 'wife beaters' or in Center City the females dressed in 'center city chic' -- a bizarre combination of huge gold necklaces, skirts too short, too tight, gold earrings too big, a lot of flash, weaves, but nothing resembling Parisian style. I don't know what to call most fashion in Philly but it sure isn't stylish! This isn't to say Philadelphia doesn't have some fashionistas but most of Philadelphia is clueless in the fashion department. Which is why American Airlines made their ad shown above in Paris. 

Here we have gray squirrels...boring creatures, annoying rodents, rat-like but with wider tails.  But in Paris! Oh yes! In Paris the squirrels ride bikes in jaunty berets or Velibs and scooters to cruise around the gridlock of traffic on their way to work or to play.  Their fur is sleek.  Almost as though they've just been to the squirrel spa. Even on their way to work they look like they're anticipating a day of play. I mean they LOOK like wherever they're going, whatever they're going to be doing it's going to be fun. 

Philly squirrels look like their human counterparts, headed to the Tastycake factory for another day cranking out mass produced cupcakes and pies for the already obese population to consume.  (Thank goodness the video wasn't made in Philadelphia!)  Unlike their Parisian counterparts who would be at their local bistro enjoying croissants and macarons.  Or Philadelphia squirrels might be on their way to the famous Pat's Steaks to serve up (or consume) another day's worth of grease with a side of meat.  And if you ever tried to park a bike in Philadelphia it would be history a few minutes after you walked away. 

Yes, Philly Squirrels lack style.  They have no panache.  They have no je ne sais quoi.  Which is why American Airlines made an ad in Paris not Philadelphia!  Lesson learned! Style counts. Take note Philadelphia squirrel population!

Not Your Usual Babe In A Manger

The Christmas story.  Baby Jesus, in the manger, surrounded by his loving parents Mary and Joseph, some Wise Men, and some sheep, donkeys, angels watching over them all.  Traditional Christmas story, we all know it.  But for two men I know the Christmas story this year may be about fostering a child who needs them.  A different take on the usual tale, but poignant all the same. 

We've all heard about the horrors of fostercare.  It's on the news.  In the newspaper (even if you are reading it online).  Horrors make headlines.  Sad but true.  But what so infrequently make the news is the joy of a couple when they first get a child through the foster care system.  Whether it's foster to adopt or a short term emergency placement, each foster parent opens their heart and their homes to a new family member, even if it's only for short period of time. 

Friends of ours are at the edge of foster care now.  They're waiting for their first child.  You might say they're 'a little bit foster pregnant.'  (Although that might be a little tough because they're a gay couple.)  Two men.  One who teaches school, one who works in the disabled.  A caring duo excited by the prospect after years of waiting...are on the cusp of getting their first child.  The first possibility fell through.  But there's another one coming up.  The excitement is palpable.  They have a car seat in their car at all times, just in case they get an infant/toddler without notice.  Space set up in their home for a nursery that can easily be converted into a bedroom for an older child at a moment's notice.  Their hearts and minds and home are ready to become foster parents.  Not your typical 'horror story' in fact, not a horror story at all, but a story of the heart and love. 

So the next time you hear a horror story about the foster care system, think of this loving couple, and others like them who are signed up to be foster parents, all in a similar situation.  Waiting to help, to love, to care for a child who needs them.  Certainly not a horror story.  And just a little bit different than your typical Christmas story of a babe in a manger--but... a story of the heart just the same.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Danger: Braking or Swerving for Squirrels May Be Hazardous For Your Health


Live in the northern United States? Then you know squirrels are everywhere, even places they shouldn't be, like in the road playing a game I call "So You Think You Can Turn Me Into Roadkill?" 

I mean here are these relatively small animals.  They see my huge car coming (at least huge in comparison to their body size.)  You'd think they'd wait for me to go by right?  Of course not.  That would be the easy way.  No they run out in front of my car where I, of the guilty conscious if I run them over, swerve to avoid them.  Or worse, actually jam on my brakes to avoid turning them into roadkill. 

Here's a warning to you squirrels!  I finally realized that as soon as I swerve I'm risking a greater chance of human accidental death not to mention my insurance rates going up.  No, from now on I'm going to trust your little squirrel brains to calculate the risk of getting run over and adjust your squirrel speed when crossing the road accordingly.  I mean even though they have tiny brains I figure they're making a lot of split second decisions while they run across the street on how to avoid getting crushed.  And when I swerve I just make them have to recalculate.  I figure I'm increasing the work for their brains by 80% or so if I swerve to avoid them.  Therefore, I'm going to slow down a little, and yes, let them run the road.  Because YES, I would have a guilty conscious if I ran the nasty varmint over.  And I REALLY don't want my car insurance going up or to cause an accident where I'm hurt or some other human is hurt. 

So OK Squirrels.  For now you've won.  You own the road.  No more swerving to avoid you which is my initial instinct.  No, I'll just slow down, listen to the guy behind me honk his horn, and grit my teeth and not make comments under my breath (because after all, my mom taught me to be ladylike and not swear.)  And I'm going to trust you to out-think me--you've been doing it your entire life--and if you've miscalculated this time, well I'm afraid you've turned yourself into roadkill!

Because really, is it worth it to get upset over it? Nope! And face it, all those squirrels out there are alive for one reason, they've figured out how to dodge all those cars they've run in front of during their life span.  So I'm going to presume they know what they're doing when they run across the street literally under my tires.  Because if they've miscalculated that badly I'm not going to risk a three car pile up or head on collision trying to out swerve the squirrel.  If I can slow down I will, but otherwise squirrel population, I'm putting you on notice, I'm not going to swerve anymore--so figure that into your little calculations in your teeny tiny squirrel brains!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Uterine Economics and Education -- 200 Years Of Challenge for Women

Women have always faced different challenges in life than men based on the simple fact that they have a uterus. Uterine economics is how reproduction and the ability to control it controls women's lives. Uterine economics and a woman's education are the two most important issues affecting the lives of women--as much today as 200+ years ago. Some things haven't changed.

Living near Philadelphia has given me a strong sense of the history of our nation and the place of women in it. Has the challenge of being female in America changed since the Declaration of Independence was written? Or are women still facing the same issues for the same reasons?

Historically two things have had the greatest impact on the lives of women--our ability to control reproduction and our ability to get a good education. These two things still have the biggest impact on the lives of women in America, even in 2011. How is it that even after 200+ years we are still fighting the same battles? Opportunities for education have improved for some of us, but not for all. Reproductive control is possible but it is not always an option depending on our economic class, access to insurance or the knowledge and understanding of where to obtain it and how to use birth control properly.

Benjamin Franklin's sister, Jane Mecom, was a prolific correspondent, who often wrote to her famous brother. Her letters, known as "Poor Jane's Almanac," tell us about the life of a woman living a very different life than her famous brother, Benjamin Franklin. While Ben cavorted in the courts of Europe representing the government of the United States, Jane didn't travel the world or become famous as a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Instead Jane's life was a constant struggle to survive a life of poverty. While Ben was able to struggle out of poverty to become one of the most influential people of his time, Jane's life was far different. What did Jane do? Jane was married at 15 (I shudder to think what my life would have been like if I'd married at that age!). She proceeded to have 12 children, and sadly buried 11. It is widely believed her husband and two of her sons went mad--a unenviable diagnosis in that time period. Poor Jane struggled just to make ends meet, feed her family and try to survive a life of what must have felt like grinding poverty and incredible stressors.

A woman's ability to escape poverty is directly related to her ability to control reproduction (something some in our government seem determined to take away from us even today.) This coupled with our chance to get a good education, which is related to our socioeconomic class means that even more than 200 years after Jane Meacom wrote her famous letters to Ben, women are still facing inequality, much of which is based on uterine economics. The times as well as her circumstances kept Jane from getting the education she desired, though when she wrote in confidence to her brother, "I Read as much as I Dare” my heart broke for her.

"I Read as much as I Dare." Poor Jane! I cannot imagine a world where I only 'read as much as I dare.' But then I am blessed to live in a time when women have the ability to control the size of their families and can receive an education comparable to that of men (at least if we're lucky). I live in a world where I can read a dozen books at once without even leaving home -- thanks to my Kindle. Or get a college education online (presuming I can afford to pay for it). Poor Jane didn't even have a Kindle so she could read at night after a long day taking care of a huge family and a crazy husband.

Today, I am more fortunate than Jane, although not all women are. What my socioeconomic class (and technology) gave me was CHOICE. But I also recognized how fortunate I have been to have the opportunities to make decisions. Unlike Jane Meacom and the other women of the 1700s, I had a choice and those choices, both good and bad, were mine to make.

But one thing is clear to me. Even today, while we may have, 'come a long way baby' women's lives are still controlled by their ability to control their reproductive lives and to get a good education. These two things remain much the same for us today as they were for women in the 1700s. Not all women, even my contemporaries or their daughters all have that choice. It's still all about education and uterine economics.

Dave and Buster's Family New Year's Party $50 Powercard Giveaway!

Dave and Buster's is offering a $50 Powercard to readers who enter this giveaway.  If you read my previous post you know D&B is having a great New Year's Eve party that is family friendly at it's Plymouth Meeting PA and Franklin Mills PA locations--and we're hosting this powercard giveaway to help you enjoy more games while you're there!  I don't know about your family but even the adults at our house love to play their games, so some extra "Power" in the form of this $50 Powercard is always welcome!

Make your pre-paid reservations NOW for the D&B's New Years family fun celebration, so when you win this great prize you'll have reservations.  You'll be your kids hero/heroine for this family outing!  Call Plymouth Meeting Dave & Busters at 610-832-9200.  Tickets at this location are $25.99/adults and $35.99/children and the party lasts from 4pm-8pm.  Call Franklin Mills at 215-632-5770 for reserved tickets, tickets at Franklin Mills are $33/adults and $27/children.  At Franklin Mills the party starts at 5PM and ends at 8PM. 

Enter just once or choose to add some additional opportunities to win for your family.  Please provide your email address so I can contact you when you win.  Hoping you will tell all your friends about D&B's generous giveaway and the great party for families New Year's Eve!

How to Enter & Rules:
USA Only/21+
Must post a comment below, Tell me why you like D&B,and/or why you like reading Defeating the Squirrels
Other Entries (1 entry for each)by:
Tweeting About the Giveaway
Follow @theweddingqueen on twitter.
Ends Dec. 30, 2011.
Winners notified by email

Remember, Plymouth Meeting and Franklin Mills (each location has different hours for their party, so be sure you check them out.) Make those reservations!

And don't forget, Dave and Buster's also hosts birthday parties for children (or adults for that matter) and other private parties. So keep them in mind the next time you're planning a special event.

**The blogger has not rec'd compensation for this other than the prize provided for the giveaway.  The only 'compensation' received is possible increased readership. 

Remember when...

Do you remember when you got all dressed up in your fanciest clothes and highest heels and went out to a fancy party on New Year's Eve?  Dressed to the nines you danced the night away, ringing in the new year sharing a bottle or maybe two of expensive champagne?

Wow, those days are long gone.  What happened you ask?  One word.  KIDS!  Somehow after the kids arrived our New Year's Eve celebrations changed drastically.  Not only was it too expensive to hire a babysitter for the amount of time we'd want to be out, face it, you have kids, your priorities shift.  And depending how many children you have, your exhaustion level changes.

Suddenly it's wondering if a restaurant has chicken fingers that your son MUST have if he's going to eat instead of hoping for those gourmet specialties you used to crave. It's no longer those expensive bottles of champage (though those haven't totally disappeared) but rather are there lids on the kids cups so you and your kids don't end up covered in lemonade, apple juice or the child's tipple, a Shirley Temple. 

Dave & Busters are making New Year's Eve a family event at their Plymouth Meeting and Franklin Mills locations.  Both are having a New Year's Celebration that is family friendly.  Perfect for you AND the kids.  So call your friends, make reservations and bring a crowd!

Prices and start times vary by location. Both locations require pre-paid reservations.  But you'll find that both celebrations end at the kid-friendly time of 8 PM. 

What's included?
  • D&B's famous games, great for kids and adults alike.
  • Famous buffet by one of D&B's chefs
  • A magician to wow all guests
  • A live DJ
  • And a giant balloon drop to celebrate the coming New Year

Monday, December 19, 2011

Early Intervention and Head Start Work--Even The Squirrels Know It

Anyone involved in education knows the value of Early Intervention Programs for children--the sooner kids who have intellectual disabilities or physical disabilities get help, the better the outcome.  Well it seems the squirrels in Tokyo need their own 'early intervention, squirrel style.' 

Yes, it seems there are squirrels in Tokyo who cannot crack open walnuts.  What? A squirrel who can't crack open a nut?  Yep!  Wildlife researcher, Noriko Tamura, with the Tama Forest Science Garden, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute observed that some Japanese squirrels can't eat walnuts because they failed 'Nut Cracking 101.'  Actually he says they just never learned how to crack the tough outer shells of the hard nuts so they don't eat them.  Instead they subsist on the seeds.

It seems that a squirrel who has never learned how to crack one of these 'tough nuts' using trial and error can't figure out how to do it on his own.  Tamura noted that some squirrels in the main island forests of Honshu and Shikoku eat the seeds of the nuts and will carry the seeds for very long distances just to store them in their nests but not the nuts.  They don't collect the nuts because they can't figure out how to crack them open. 

Tamura decided to compare squirrel behavior around Tokyo's Mount Takao where there are a lot of nuts ... (walnuts that is) to the squirrels who lived near Mount Fuji where there are few nuts. 

The Mount Takao squirrels cut the walnuts open in under ten minutes by biting along the line on the surface.  But only 2 of the 25 squirrels from Mount Fuji could open the nuts.  The two who could open the nuts were both adult males. 

So Tamura experimented with squirrels that had never seen nuts.  Initially the poor squirrels couldn't break into the tough nuts, but when he put them with other adults who could open the nuts, the squirrels who were under 18 months old learned how to crack open the nuts.  The squirrels over the age of two could not learn the skill. 

Sound familiar?  Early learning, whether in squirrels or humans is critical.  Skills need to be learned and reinforced at a young age.  Modeling by others helps reinforce skills. 

“Squirrels seem to learn how to cut walnuts through watching adult squirrels and trying and failing repeatedly," Tamura said. "But that’s something they can do only while they are still young.”

So the next time you hear about funding for Early Intervention Programs being cut, or Project Head Start, or a vote against full day Kindergarten classes REMEMBER THE SQUIRRELS!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

So You Want To Be In Pictures?

Looking for a job when you're over 50 is not an easy task! So many ads say 'looking for youthful assistant' or 'must be peppy and energetic'...come on, these are catch phrases to screen out my less than youthful and older self.  Will I be reduced to applying for jobs that are at best bizarre or working for a boss who is such a tyrant no one else will work for him unless they are desperate? So as I was searching a variety of web sites for a new job and lamenting the lack of employment opportunities that fit my qualifications, I came across this ad:

Have you undergone extreme body modification to dramatically alter your appearance?
• Do you want to look like an elf, a mythical creature or a science fiction character?
• Do you have pointed ears? Forehead ridges? Eyeball tattoos?
• Are you more comfortable looking like a non-human?

A non-fiction program is currently casting individuals who've created alternate worlds/identities for themselves. We are interested in featuring people who are going to extremes to change their appearance, including looking more like science fiction or mythical characters.

This series will allow individuals that engage in body modification to educate viewers on their motivation and dedication to this form of self-expression. We'd like to know the challenges and rewards of looking different, and how this transformation has changed your life. We also hope the program will become a non-exploitive outlet to showcase lifestyles and sub cultures that people would otherwise never know about.

OK, I've seen the women who are addicted to plastic surgery, the teens who think they need surgery at 13, but people who WANT TO GET SURGERY TO LOOK LIKE AN ELF? Please say it isn't so!  And the idea that they're going to do a television show about people who have created alternate world identities? I thought Jersey Shore was over the top!

Photo courtesy of Instructables

OK, maybe I'm just getting old.  Maybe this is an 'in' thing with the younger set.  (shuddering!) But somehow, the idea of getting surgery so I look like an elf, E.T. or Mr. Spock... not my cup of tea.  So while I have to send in the names of places I've applied for work in order to collect my unemployment, this one won't be on the list.  A woman (even one over 50 and desperate for work) has to have SOME standards! 

How desperate are people getting in this economy where the available jobs have hundreds, if not thousands of applicants for each opportunity?  How low would you go? Would you get plastic surgery to look like an ELF just to score a job on a television show?  Oh you might get...famous, no infamous maybe, maybe you'd get your 15 minutes of fame...but....please no! So while Congress is debating cutting unemployment, stop and this what a lot of Americans have been reduced to? ELFDOM?

(BTW, this ad appeared on Craigslist, I have no idea how credible the poster is, so if you apply and get hacked up by an ax murderer, ...well you can't say you weren't warned it was a bizarre post! I take no responsibility for anyone who chooses to take part in it! You are on your own!)

Danger, Men and Hardware Stores (A Cautionary Christmas Tale)

We all have places or things we love to spend money.  For some it's the mall, for others CVS is a magnet, some love QVC or The Shopping Network, yet others live on  But for most men one of their addictions is anything you can buy in a hardware store.  At Christmas this can result in a whole new set of holiday traditions.  EXPENSIVE holiday traditions. 

Every family has their own set of Christmas traditions.  For some it's a special set of ornaments, others putting out a collection of nutcrackers, yet others bake an insane amount of Christmas cookies or put up a train set, others their nativity set.  But our house is different.  At our house Christmas is all about real estate.

Four years ago my husband went to the hardware store for some nails.  Nails, a small and insignificant enough purchase, so I gave him my debit card... my mistake!  He left for nails and came home with real estate.  Christmas real estate that is. 

Yes, a visit that should have cost less than three dollars has ended up costing me hundreds! I'm sure the owners of Ace Hardware in Drexel Hill are pleased! (Who knows how much it will cost me before the Vecchione 'Christmas village' is complete.) 

Holiday traditions at the Vecchione house now include Bill's Christmas village and the yearly additions of new homes, stores, churches and more.  Some purchased from Ace Hardware on State Road in Drexel Hill, some from Boscov's Department Store and yet others from Kohl's in Springfield or from EBay vendors.  All lovingly displayed along our mantelpiece, bookshelves and tabletops.

And it's not enough to just have houses.  No, we have pet stores, schools, a hardware store, cafes, a flower shop, and even a train station with it's own train.  Some move, some light up, some play music, and some even have people dancing inside! What we don't have yet is the tax assessors office and real estate taxes, but I'm sure that's only a matter of time!  We have street lights, cars, even villagers, snowmen and dogs. 

Yes Christmas real estate is here and on display, now all we have to do is buy a few new pieces this year.  I'm hoping with the tight real estate market Lemax houses will also have gone down in price--but I doubt I'll be that lucky! 

The moral of the story? Don't let go of that debit card (or credit card) over the holidays and NEVER EVER send a man to a hardware store ALONE.

What's your family Christmas tradition?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I've Heard of Dog and Pony Shows but...

I guess you could call this a cat and pony show. Facebook is a great place for catching a laugh at something totally absurd, but when I saw this posted the other day it made me chuckle.  I took their caption off so you could feel free to add your own.  Tell me, what would you caption this picture? 

Since I'm in the middle of wedding planning and just recently spent a stress filled day with a group of girls (well young women, but you get the idea) trying to choose bridesmaid dresses for my daughter's wedding you can guess where my mind went!)  NO they are not riding in on little ponies, it wasn't quite that bad.

My tag lines?
What do you mean you can't all wear the same color bridesmaid dress!
"Because I SAID SO!"

I mean they all sounded like Goldilocks in the well known fairy tale--this was too big, this was too small, but unfortunately nothing was JUST RIGHT!  And no one was shy about voicing their opinion! Hey I'm only the mother of the bride, but I think my daughter should have SOME say. 

As soon as I saw this photo all I could think of was shades of David's Bridal!  While we didn't have quite that many in the bridal party, their sense of style and favorite colors differed as much as any of The Little Ponies in the photo above.  And a few had hair styles to match (which I can only hope will be gone by the wedding day! I know, I know, I'm an old fuddy duddy!) 

By the fourth bridal salon I had had it! NO MORE! (OK, I exaggerate, it was only three salons but still, I was beat!) So we retreated to the closest restaurant so I could 'REST.'  If I were a drinking woman... but... no just off my feet and a little quiet time was what I needed. 

I mean I though when they grew up it would get I NUTS?  Did anyone else suffer from this delusion?  Mom you NEVER told me!  Were we this bad?  Are we still? 

Did any other mothers suffer from this same delusion? That the kids would grow up and life would be quieter? easier? simpler? less expensive? (oh yeah, wedding planning sure blows that one out of the water!).  I guess if I'd known I might not have made it this far... so maybe there's a reason not to know.  Now the question is... do I leave my daughters in blissful ignorance? 

If you read this blog long enough you may just find out!  Stay tuned!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tis The Season

Tis the season for gift giving--and not just fancy computers, televisions, iPods, new clothes or handbags or whatever other luxury your heart desires.  It's also the time to remember that there are others out there who need the basics of food and shelter.  People who are struggling to survive day to day.

When we were growing up we gave at church, school, and filled the Salvation Army coffers, and our local grocery stores, scout troops or schools collected cans and Toys For Tots to be sent to those in need.  But in this age of computers we no longer have to even leave home to donate.  We can run our own cyber-charitable campaign.

A web site called You Give Goods lets us each set up our own charitable drive or donate to others like Philadbundance or The Pottstown Cluster (a group of religious communities banding together to nourish families in need.)  Two local bloggers, Jo-Lynne Shane author of Musings of A Housewife blog (supporting The Pottstown Cluster) and Tina Creaney Seitzinger of Life Without Pink (supporting Philabundance) are two bloggers who set up their own food drives using You Give Goods.

You Give Goods lets you look at a group of items to purchase (with the price of a case of them next to it) and you just click on your choice of purchases to donate and they are bought by the case without the markup you'd pay if you were buying them yourself at the grocery store.  Not only do they buy in bulk, but you don't have to pay for gas to get to the store, buy the food there, and then put them in your car and head to your local food pantry for distribution. 

It's charitable giving made easy through the use of social media and the web -- modernized giving at it's best!  Goods for purchase start at $5. 

Even if all of us donated $5 for every $100 we spent on the holidays this year it would swell the inventory at food pantries or help provide money for other social programs. The program greatly reduces the costs and time to manage an 'old fashioned' drive and reduces the gas needed to deliver it, freeing up more dollars and time for the organization in need. 

You Give Goods was developed by a group of New Jersey friends who wanted to find a way to increase the efficiency of charitable giving.  The result of their brainstorming is You Give Goods--an innovative way to manage charitable giving for food pantries, shelters (for people and animals), or other organizations across the country in need of assistance.  Since it's launch in September, You Give Goods has launched over 100 drives. 

Who starts a You Give Goods campaign? You do! Your neighbors, scout troops, homerooms, service groups, (bloggers like us), businesses, schools...the list goes on. Is it too late to start giving?  It's never too late to start a campaign.  49.2 million Americans are living in poverty--someone will always be hungry or in need of assistance for housing or clothing.  Yes, YOU can make a difference.  And you can start today.

That's one of the most important lessons I ever learned in life.  It all begins with you.  Even if you won't have a great campaign by the holidays this year, aim for the Easter holidays, or any other date of your choice.  Want to read about others who've made the leap to organizing a drive? Head to this media link and read all about them--they have one thing in common--a desire to give to others.

Kudos to Jo-Lynn and Tina for alerting the local bloggers to this great way to raise money.  It's as easy as You Give Goods, You, and your social media contacts.  So give some good ... someone is always in need.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mad Mex Willow Grove--A Feast For Cal-Mex Lovers!

Photo courtesy of Facebook

There are some experiences not to be missed, visiting a Mad Mex (now open in Willow Grove) is one of them. 

One thing my mom taught me about food was at least try it once.  She was right, I almost always like what I try and end up going back for more.  I'll be back to Mad Mex, and maybe I'll bring Mom. She'd love Mad Mex.   

Ever visited Mad Mex? If not, head over to this newly opened restaurant at 2862 Moreland Road, Willow Grove PA (near Willow Grove Park Mall) and try some of their unusual entrees as well as some of their more traditional self-described 'funky Cal-Mex food.' 

Maybe you'll run into me and my mom enjoying some fresh Cal-Mex entrees or crisp salads.  Oh, and... possibly a margarita. Just one. (since that's all I need since Mad Mex has Big Azz 22 oz. margaritas and someone has to drive home.)

Yes, Mad Mex Willow Grove has your usual tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and nachos but they also have Pennsyltucky Fried Tofu as an appetizer (the name alone is enticing to anyone of a vegetarian bent) and some burritos only available for a limited time (one at Thanksgiving) known as their Gobblerito (unfortunately you missed it this year, try next November). It must be popular, Gobblerito has it's own Facebook page! And for Christmas? The pot roast based Feast Navidad Burrito -- I know, not your traditional burrito but hey, I'm always open to new ideas, not to mention food! (As long as it doesn't have any Brussels sprouts!) This burrito has Roast Beast (braised short ribs), roasted garlic-chili mashed potatoes, peas, carrots, pearl onions and gravy.  If you're not making it home for the holidays pick one up and nuke it for Christmas dinner!

Taking the kids with you to Mad Mex? Not to worry, Mad Mex has a children's menu.  It offers the perennial favorites like chicken fingers and mac and cheese but also some mini versions of adult Mad Mex choices.

Christmas wouldn't be complete (especially at Mad Mex Willow Grove) without a holiday inspired margarita, the NOG-A-RITA — Eggnog, Herradura Anejo, Grand Mariner and Frangelico served straight up and then dusted with nutmeg and powdered sugar. Or how about trying their Candy Cane and Apple Cider margaritas.  (Sorry, no take out on these!)

Be sure to visit and subscribe to Mad Mex on You Tube for more fun and updates on everything Mad Mex.  And when you go in, ask for our waiter, Rod, (hi Rod! hope you're reading this!) if you want spectacular service.  He was always on top of whatever we needed before we even knew we needed it.  The sure sign of a good waiter.

Photo Big Azz Margarita courtesy of Facebook

When you visit Mad Mex Willow Grove you can stick to the tried and true frozen margaritas, always a good, if safe, choice. But if you want a real treat and you're lucky, they'll be making kiwi margaritas the day you're there.  One of the faves in this restaurant.  But no matter what you choose, Mad Mex offers you over 40 different tequilas! Not bad, in fact probably better than my local liquor store.  Mad Mex Willow Grove also has an impressive array of beers on draft or bottled beers to enjoy if you're not into margaritas. 

Photo from Facebook

What's your favorite thing at Mad Mex Willow Grove? Comments welcome!

**The author was provided with dinner for two at Mad Mex Willow Grove.  Opinions in this post are the writers own and not influenced by Mad Mex Willow Grove or Corporate.

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's A Coach Time of The Year! With A 25% Off Coach Store Coupon

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, A Coach Christmas! Oh YEAH! My new theme song! One important thing I learned young was NEVER waste your money! So I always coupon shop. But coupons for luxury goods are few and far between, but this year, oh yeah! This year is different.  Coach has a coupon for you.  So I just had to share this Coach store coupon with my readers.  I mean I don't want you guys wasting money either!

I know, I know, you don't REALLY need to carry Coach.  I mean think how much money you'd save NOT buying Coach, but carrying a leather Coach bag... sure makes you feel great!  That leather..... ahhhhhhh!  Kind of like that hand massage you get when you get your nails done, you don't really need it, and you could do your own nails, but some things... yes sometimes you're just 'worth it.'  So yes, I admit, I'm a sucker for Coach leather! But combine Coach products with a coupons! Ahhhh! Nirvana! And since I'm spending all my cash on others this year, I'm sharing my coupon with Santa.  (Hoping he'll use it on me!) I thought I'd share it with you too.

OK, so people are either Coach lovers or you can't believe those label whores would buy the stuff and pay through the nose to advertise for Coach. But for the fans, or if you're buying a Coach Christmas or holiday gift this post is for you!

Yes fans, this year Coach has a COUPON! Have you ever seen a Coach coupon before?  Have to admit it's a first for me, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Head on over to my Facebook page and find out how to get a 25% OFF COUPON for The Coach Store. 

My favorite Coach Store is in Ardmore PA, but they also have two stores in King of Prussia PA (presuming you're brave enough to face their parking lot AND the Blue Rt. at Christmas time) and one in Cherry Hill or Deptford Malls in South Jersey.  Philly residents can hit the store on Walnut Street to get their Coach gifts.  Live somewhere else, just visit the "find a Coach Store link" and enter your info and voila!

Share this Coach coupon with Santa too, he might as well save too.  Or leave it out with a 'hint' (maybe the names of bags you'd like for Christmas or other Coach products to make shopping so much easier!).

Beat The Christmas Insanity - Great Gift For Mom

I know, they don't look impressive, but these soaps sold by Yves Delorme will wow your mom, grandmom or other lady in your life.   Sometimes finding a gift for the woman in your life who HAS EVERYTHING is hard.  I mean what can you buy someone who has it all?

My local Yves Delorme, located in Bryn Mawr PA on Lancaster Avenue has fabulous soaps (not to mention candles).  But my very favorite is their Provence scent soaps.  These soaps come in a variety of sizes: bath, hand and guest soaps.  They have other scents as well, but this one is world class.

Put them in your favorite bathroom or add them to a drawer or linen closet to make everything in your life smell great!  Don't live in suburban Philadelphia? Head to their web site and search for stores.  Sometimes you can find it sold by other purveyors as well.  I guarantee a smile on grandma's face as she opens this gift.  Not only that, its a gift that she'll use up so you can give it over and over! BONANZA!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Why Getting An MBA Isn't All It's Cracked Up To Be

I came across an old notebook I used to keep in high school and college of things I wanted to remember.  Truisms.  Or things that seemed that way at the time.  One truism that hangs over my desk at home today is:

Don't be afraid to attempt something new.
Remember, it was amateurs who built the ark.
It was professionals who built the Titanic.
Author: Unknown

My status as an amateur no longer seems like such a bad thing.  My lack of a MBA no longer a deficit.  No, my amateur status has put me heads above those pros who think they know it all.  Oh I admit, there are SOME things I could use additional education in, but the lack no longer seems as great as it once did.

My degree (a totally unofficial one) you see, is in dreaming.  I'm a world class expert in dreaming.  No, Harvard doesn't offer degrees in Dreaming or even teach a class on "How to Dream 101" and Yale doesn't offer a graduate program called MD (Master of Dreamology).  And I can't go to Stanford for a PhD in Dreams.  No, some things you just have to learn on your own--you either do it or don't. 

I mean, who would have thought Noah could build an ark and round up all those animals?  Or that Columbus was right and the world really wasn't flat?  Sometimes you just have to dare to believe. To take that chance, to tilt at windmills. 

The next time someone tells you something is impossible remember this from Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carrol where the Queen and Alice are talking.

Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said.  "One can't believe impossible things." "I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen.  "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Why as adults do we lose the belief in dreaming of and accomplishing the impossible? Why do we stop taking the time to dream and dream big.  Return to your dreams.  You know, the ones you've put away in the back of your closet or stored in a box under your bed.  Get them out, dust them off, and dream again.  Believe the impossible dreams--if it's good enough for a Queen...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Momma, Fools and Cleaning Ladies

Growing up I learned a lot of valuable lessons from my mom.  How to starch sheets(thank god I don't do that anymore)... how to polish shoes(I've learned to move to sneakers or suede)... how to clean an oven (mine now self cleans) and polish silver(if you don't have any you don't have to polish it)... how to cook (although I still haven't mastered rolling up that ice cream roll without breaking the cake).  But there were a few lessons that although I learned them, I never quite understood until I got older.

One was the lesson called  "Clean Closets Happy Cleaning Lady." Anyone who has a cleaning lady knows a good one is a pearl beyond price. There just aren't a lot of GOOD 'environmental engineers' out there today. Yesterday's cleaning lady is now the CEO of her own company, no more vacuums and dusting or scrubbing for her! So once you find one, you'll do ANYTHING to keep her happy. I guess it wasn't so different when I was a child.

As a child, Rose was our cleaning lady. Rose arrived at our house like clockwork every week. She was our ever efficient cleaning lady who helped my mom make order out of our house of chaos. Not an easy feat when you have four kids under 10 running around under foot. Rose also worked for my grandmothers, so I guess you could say all our family 'dirty' laundry and houses kept Rose busy. 

The oddest thing about Rose's visits didn't have anything to do with her cleaning or with Rose herself.  Instead it had to do with the day before Rose came. The day before Rose came to clean, we had to clean so THE CLEANING LADY COULD CLEAN! What's wrong with this picture?

I suspect I'm not the only one who had to clean her closet and under her bed before the cleaning team arrived. But I still find it odd. I mean we were paying Rose to clean, so why was I cleaning before she came?  I've always wondered just what Rose thought of all the tidy little closets of four children under the age of 10. I mean, wouldn't you have wondered? 

The key lesson I learned from my mother was WHEN to clean. My mom's answer to that...ALWAYS.  Do it everyday. Don't let it get ahead of you. All valuable lessons, but the most important lesson was when MUST you clean?

The answer? Before the cleaning lady gets there! God forbid the cleaning lady knows that the rest of the week your closet is a mess! Or that your shoes are under your bed!

Maybe I didn't train my kids right. But at that age their closets(and under their beds)were never THAT neat. Of course I don't have a cleaning lady either(Ah! I knew I had an out there somewhere.)So I've adapted the reason to clean and when to clean for my children to suit our family. To my children I say, clean your closets frequently enough so when you open the door what's in it doesn't land on your heads. And don't put stuff under your bed and you won't have get down on your knees to clean it out, just occasionally vacuum. Better yet, buy a bed that has drawers under it so you don't even have to vacuum under it because dust couldn't get under there is it tried! 

I'm all for the easy route! (sorry mom!)  But most important of all I wanted my children to grow up knowing their 'momma didn't raise no fools' and they are smart enough to adapt my rules for their lives just like I did my mom's.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Eating Liver Won't Kill You, Will It?

I suspect most of us grew up hearing 'eat your liver, it's good for you!'  Yuck!  Yes I ate it.  I'm sure it's good for me.  Mother's are usually right about things like that--liver, Brussels sprouts, peas. 

But how many of you, now that you have your own kids, are repeating that particular mantra?  I have to say this is one area where Mom and I differ.  We always will.  I'm NOT going to make anyone eat liver.  Or Brussels sprouts, or peas, especially canned ones.  It's not that I don't agree it's good for you, it's I'm not about to make anyone eat THAT STUFF!

I'm one of those people who go to a restaurant and doesn't order sweet breads too.  The good news is that not eating that stuff won't kill you!  (Mom never told me it would, just that it was good for me.)  You'd think she would have gotten the message after my brother stuffed his veggies in his pants pocket and she found them for the zillionth time in the laundry! 

Of course Mom did let us cover the liver with ketchup to kill the taste (or maybe as a way to get another food group in us?)  For some reason we never had liver with onions, no idea why.  But we did eat other odd food.  Like gizzards.  OK, you get a roasting chicken or turkey, it comes with all that 'gunk' inside. We actually ate the stuff.  Yuck!  We also ate a lot of wild game.  Ducks, geese, sometimes venison.  Wild game is definitely an acquired taste. 

It was only after I grew up that I realized that a sure sign of just how much my mom loved my dad was her willingness to cook the things he shot! And eat them too.  (I guess I should give thanks we weren't eating squirrels or rabbits.) 

My children lucked out.  No wild game at my house.  No chance to chomp down on a piece of shot that got left in the duck for dinner.  No gamey tasting dinners disguised with gravy.  Nope, my mom didn't raise a fool, I married a man who didn't hunt and solved that problem! 

So thank you Mom for teaching me the value of the nutrients of liver, but thanks but no thanks, I'm NOT making my family eat it! I just force feed them TOFU!

The Dumbing Down of America

Are students today a product of the 'dumbing down of America?'  Were the Baby Boomer generation better prepared for college than students today? In my opinion the answer is an unequivocal YES.  The teachers in my past prepared me by not just teaching me facts and figures but by teaching me how to find the answers and giving me a desire to learn new things.

When I went back to college as an adult (40+) I was thrown into classes where the majority of the students were half my age.  Culture shock to say the least!  I came from being a stay at home mom of two to a full time student.  Most of the rest of my class were 20-23, and age I hadn't been in a long time! I quickly learned that age wasn't the only thing separating us.  They came from a totally different world.  One where correct English wasn't important, History wasn't taught, basic Biology wasn't understood and Art was an anathema. 

Their slang was different, their education had been different, and I ran into 'the dumbing down of America' first hand. 

The slang I could handle, although the constant parroting of 'that's so gay' took a bit of getting used to.  It was the lack of a good basic education that astounded me.  Their grammar didn't exist.  History didn't include some very basic important events.  And the concept of art appreciation was....under appreciated, basic biology poorly understood.

I was in a class where we were discussing busing.  It wasn't a history class, but it was obvious that to most of the class 'busing' had to do with how to take SEPTA (Philadelphia's local transit authority) and had nothing to do with civil rights.  I remember the professor (who was about the same age I was) looking at me as if to say 'you know what I'm talking about right? I'm not the only one who knows this happened.' 

I admit to being blown away at how ignorant many of the younger students were about current events or recent history.  I could understand if they didn't have a good grasp on the Crimean War... but busing? Come on!  So if you're a history teacher today, please take the time to bring your students up to speed on events that effect their own daily lives--like civil rights. 

Another example of the 'dumbing down' occurred when two of us were doing an oral report on making mobiles.  OK, mobiles, not rocket science, almost every baby has one hanging over their crib and most kids make them in preschool.  But we were talking about Alexander Calder's mobiles.  A little more advanced, but the same concept.  People kept interrupting and saying 'slow down, I don't know what that means.'  Have you been to the Philadelphia Art Museum? That giant thing hanging over your head in the lobby? Right, Calder, mobile.  Did they ever have an art history class?  Read Time or Newsweek?  If so they should have been familiar with Calder.  And even if they weren't we had photos so they'd be able to understand what we were talking about.  But they were so used to being spoon fed information using words with one syllable that they had a hard time following the presentation. 

Basic biology also seemed to present a problem.  One class in human reproduction seemed to stymie the men in the class. Out of nearly thirty students only fifteen passed the class--most of them dropped out after failing the test on human reproduction. Very scary.  After that class I no longer wondered how so many teens end up pregnant.

Another time a group of us were doing a oral presentation on Elder Abuse. A serious topic and one people working in health care need to be aware of. One student came to class for the presentation unprepared and with note cards written in English on the level of a 2nd grader. This wasn't a student who grew up going to poor schools or who had a learning disability. She'd graduated from Penn State. I guess I expected she had to pass a decent English Composition before she got out. 

Are students today as well prepared for college as the Baby Boomer generation was? In my experience, definitely not.  They are the result of 'the dumbing down of America.'  Unfortunately with the new 'teaching to test' mindset the actual education of our children and grandchildren isn't going to get any better. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Squirrels, Food and Our Tax Dollars At Work

Photo courtesy of Phenomenica
The squirrels have had a busy season collecting nuts and burying them in MY yard! Yes, I know, they have to eat.  But since I've already had to take down a bird feeder because they were eating me out of house and home (worse than any teenage boy I swear!) I'm getting aggravated with all this digging, burying and then they have the nerve to come back and dig them up again! Holes, Holes and MORE Holes! And unlike a good golfer they don't refill the holes after they eat the nuts. 

As I was outside complaining to my neighbor about the inconsiderate nut buriers that infest our yards a little boy came up and asked us 'how do squirrels FIND their nuts after they bury them?' Wow, have to admit, it never occurred to me to ask that one!  But once he asked I HAD to find out the answer.  For any of you out there with children with enquiring minds that want to know or who are plagued themselves by the burning need to know just how they find the nuts they've buried in your yard I found the answer.

It seems most of the studies done on squirrel nut retrieval were not done in the wild but under controlled conditions. Students doing graduate work actually got GRANTS from the government to have squirrels run through mazes to test their memory and see if they used visual or smell cues to escape the maze.

Anyway, those studies suggest squirrels actually use their MEMORY to find all those nuts. There was some discussion about whether they used eyesight or smell to find their nuts but it seems that's not the case. Squirrels are most likely to remember larger number of nuts buried together than smaller caches of them (which is why I have more BIG holes not little ones in my yard). Squirrels also PRACTICE digging up the nuts and reburying them.  There's some suggestion that this 're-caching' helps the squirrels "refresh" their memory of where their nuts are and what they've stored where.

So the next time you're aggravated and saying "THOSE STUPID SQUIRRELS"...seems they aren't so stupid after all--they can remember where they buried all those nuts!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Commnetary of Squirrel Proof Feeder

Review on by G. Rene "Frontman" (Seattle, WA, USA) on the Heritage Farms Absolute II Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder that just about sums up some people's attitude toward the varmints!

Not Squirrel Proof At All, But I Like Squirrels--Commentary on Feeder

"My wife has tried all kinds of different feeders to defeat the squirrels, but none have worked. She had high-hopes for this one, but it didn't take the squirrels long to figure out how to hang from the sides while working the lever up and down to release seeds. On the other hand, I LIKE squirrels, even had a tame one when I was a kid. So I keep rooting for the squirrels. They gotta eat too! And for those who think of squirrels as cute rats, they are not. Rats live about 3 to 4 years. Squirrels can live for 20 years. That means there are squirrels in the woods around our house who have been here longer than we have. And I figure they have a right to survive! Rats, on the other hand, I have an air rifle with a scope to take care of them.... "

I just have to say, I'm glad I'm not in his scope! He sounds serious about his method of rat control. What do you do to keep your squirrels under control? Or don't you care? Comments wanted.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Squirrel Nuts

If you can't beat them, join 'em! The squirrels that is! In this case, steal the nuts from the squirrels and buy that person who is hard to shop for this holiday season a box of these artisanal kettle-roasted nuts!

Squirrel Brand’s presentation is as memorable as the flavors, which makes these nuts great for gifting. They are packed in black and gold tins, and the larger quantities come in a beautiful wooden outer box. Give the gift that hits the spot, Squirrel Brand’s roasted nuts are classic crowd pleasers!

The Squirrel Brand Co. based in the U.S., has been kettle-roasting nuts since 1888. Squirrel Brand draws inspiration from around the world and creates unique and flavorful blends. From sweet California almonds seasoned with black truffles harvested in Northern Italy and ground into a sea salt to pecans laced with Squirrel Brand’s take on Herbes de Provence, the classic French blend of dried herbs, Squirrel Brand Nuts are a gourmet nut experience. Visit The Daily Grommet to find all the great flavors you can

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Black Friday Deals!

Finding great deals on Black Friday is akin to finding that feeder that defeats the squirrels! VICTORY! To help you in your search for the perfect gift try these links below. Maybe you can avoid the mall on Good Friday.

Black Friday 2011

Best Buy Black Friday Ad

Red Envelope Coupons 

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*This policy is valid from 19 November 2011

 This blog is a collaborative blog written by more than one individual. This blog post represents a post where the blogger/s has accepted forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. All advertising is in the form of advertisements generated by a third party ad network. The owner(s) of this blog was compensated for posting the above information(in this single blog post). Even though the owner(s) of this blog received compensation for the post or advertisements, we always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the bloggers' own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Followup-Restaurant Review-Free Lunch & Mad Mex

Yesterday I got my 'Free Lunch' courtesy of the folks at Mad Mex in Willow Grove.  If you read my previous post, you know that Mad Mex is a Cal-Mex casual restaurant with locations in Columbus, Ohio, Philadelphia, State College and now Willow Grove PA. 

On arriving it was obvious that the construction wasn't quite finished but this didn't stop the hoards of diners who wanted their 'free lunch.'  Particularly pleasant was the open sided bar and dining areas.  The walls are 3/4 windows that open up so it looks like you're outdoors.  This makes the restaurant look more spacious and less crowded that if the walls were closed in.  The graphics and art around the restaurant are unique to say the least...fine as long as you're sober, but I sure wouldn't want to look at the back wall of the bar if I'd had one too many Big Azz Margaritas!  The sleek green cactus that is on the Mad Mex signage as well as on their glassware is appealing to the eye.  The one trick with all the metal artwork around this restaurant is going to be keeping all the cutouts in it dust free!  We were seated in a corner and the artwork there was already dusty. 

Food & Drinks--after all, this is why you really come to a restaurant right?  First of all, drinks.  The Dos Equis was served with a slice of lime that had been pre-squeezed into my husband's beer. Also the beer didn't have a head. I was the designated driver and was hoping to have a virgin Margarita--no such thing--so if you don't want alcohol to drink you have to rely on soda or iced tea.  I chose a simple iced tea--may I suggest you choose soda or plain water? The tea was served hot with four melting ice cubes.  Even an additional glass full of ice didn't cool it down sufficiently and the flavor was disappointing. Refills were slow or non-existent.

Food-Our appetizer was nachos, they were well executed but if you're counting calories...choose a salad instead! Nachos had plenty of cheese, lots of meat and the serving was plenty for three or four.  The nachos arrived hot and ready to eat--lot of jalapenos, so if you're not a pepper fan ask for them on the side. But what are nachos without peppers?

Our main course was shrimp fajitas.  Plenty of onion and peppers under the skewers of  a dozen jumbo shrimp.  The shrimp were flavorful, well seasoned but a little tough. Maybe a little less grill time? Plenty of lettuce, tomato, cheese, guacamole and sour cream served on the side and four soft tortillas to wrap it all up.  Messy to eat...but they gave us plenty of extra napkins.  So a little less grill time on the shrimp and I'd order it again.

Desserts: Skip desserts at Mad Mex.  Our waiter forgot to tell us that desserts were sized for two--so we were overwhelmed with the amount of dessert.  I tried the brownie and ice cream--generic, an odd menu item for a Mexican restaurant.  My husband tried the fried ice cream.  I think they forgot to fry it.  It was rock hard and doughy.  If it's meant to be that way for sure avoid the desserts! By the time you get to dessert you will have fillled up on appetizers and your main course anyway.

Service: The hostess was pleasant and seated us promptly.  She was polite and gave us information about Mad Mex when we said we hadn't been to one of their restaurants before.  Our waiter was obviously new to waiting tables but working on it.  To be fair, waiting tables when you first start takes nerves of steel!  He's getting there.  He was well versed on menu items and remembered to tell us about the specials and made suggestions.  He brought food promptly but was slow or non-existent on drink delivery. He got confused and asked if we wanted dessert after our appetizer however he obviously meant well.  He'll get there.  The management stopped at our table to say hello and welcome us to the restaurant.  I'm always happy to see management on the floor in a restaurant, it makes it look like they care!

Costs: OK, so today's lunch was free other than our 20% tip.  But our check would have been around $60.  Would I pay $60 for lunch or for the food I had? Nope. It was okay but not outstanding. But since it's preview days I'll give it a chance another time and hope for improvement.  The food was plentiful but too much for lunch--we didn't eat dinner that night, we were still full.  But the price point was high for lunch.  If you're going for lunch my advice is to stick with lighter choices, skip appetizer and desserts or just have an appetizer to share for lunch. 

Pluses: Decor was interesting, graphics on menus/glassware/signage attractive.  Open air walls in the dining room and bar made the restaurant appear larger and since we had a 70 degree day outside, perfect for open air dining.  Would head back just to enjoy the quasi-outdoor dining experience.  The menu and the servers have potential, they need to grow into each other, but the potential is there.  Management was actively involved and the hostess professional. 

Recommendation: Mad Mex Willow Grove's preview day didn't show off the skills of their kitchen and waitstaff to the best advantage, but give them a month or two and I suspect the service will become seamless and the kitchen staff will have mastered every item on the menu. Meanwhile it's worth a visit to try out the Gobblerito--which the people at the table next to us were enthusiastically consuming. 

**This writer was compensated by the restaurant by receiving a 'free lunch' and beverage in exchange for writing about the restaurant and promoting it via social media sites.  The opinions are those of the author and not influenced by the restaurant or PR firm representing them. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Momma Wants A New Set of Wheels! (Well Tires Anyway!)

I have to admit, I HATE replacing and changing my own tires. In fact it's probably been ten years since I had to do it last. It's not that I don't know how to do it (I taught my husband), or that I can't do it, it's that nothing is worse than getting down on the ground and trying to get a tire off that's been put on by someone at the gas station! Their equipment beats my upper body strength any day! So you can imagine my glee at discovering TireVan! A company that comes to your home or office and replaces your tires, no muss, no fuss, no grease on your clothes.  At my advanced age (LOL) I've learned one very important lesson - sometimes it's better to let the experts do the job, even if I do know how to do it.

Are you facing the demoralizing task of sitting around while you replace the tires on your car? Or have a flat in your driveway, realize you need your tire replaced and REALLY don't want to change it yourself. Who wants to have to put that 'donut' tire on and then schlep down to the gas station or local tire store to get the work done? And that's if they can make time for you.  And waiting all day for your roadside assistance to show up isn't any bargain either. (The last time I called mine it took them 5 hours to show up, and then they'd left a tool they needed back at the station! Arrggh! Never again!) Never waste time sitting around twiddling your thumbs while you wait for it to 'BE YOUR TURN'.  No more sitting in smokey waiting rooms with televisions blaring soap operas and stocked with out of date magazines.  Instead call TireVan.  TireVan's customer service experts help you choose your tire/or tires and schedule a time for them to come to YOU with everything they need to install the tires on your car.  Best of all, you don't have to be there for them to do the work. 

WOW! No more wasting PTO time (personal/vacation/sick time) to take off from work or ruining a weekend while you get your tires replaced.  Face it, we ALL have something better to do! TireVan can come to your office, your home or almost anywhere you designate. Expert technicians arrive in a TireVan with everything needed to professionally install tires on the spot. They'll come to your workplace, your home or even the mall!  A small amount of level, paved space around your car is needed to complete the installation. It takes under an hour to mount, balance, and install four tires. TireVans technicians are highly trained and use only the best equipment. Installation and tires are fully guaranteed. 

TireVan serves the Washington DC metro & Philadelphia metro areas. They guarantee their prices are the lowest around. 


Is This You?

Is this you? Do you want it to be? I've always vacillated back and forth between would I rather be that hell on wheels woman 'the devil' fears or do I want to be the woman everyone says nice things about.  After all, sometimes NICE is sooo boring... but then again... 

Of course my husband who loves nothing better than to sleep in on a weekend probably says 'oh no, she's up!' all the time!  I admit, I'm a neurotic early bird.  If it's 5AM and I'm not up it's an unusual day.  And it throws the rest of my day off if I sleep in.  Not only that, much to my husband's dismay I am HAPPY early in the morning! BEFORE coffee!  Are you a day person or night person? Slug a bed or up and moving early? And does the devil say "OH NO SHE'S UP" when YOUR feet hit the floor?