Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Catch Me if You Can-What I'm Reading Wednesdays

I remember seeing the movie "Catch Me If you Can" a few years ago and was excited to read the Frank Abagnale's biography for my bookclub.  

In case, you missed the movie, Frank Abagnale was a teenage con artist that wrote about 2.5 millions of dollars worth of bad checks in the 1960's.  He also posed as a Pan Am pilot in order to score free trips around the world.  He may have also posed as a lawyer, doctor and professor.

Overall it was an interesting read, but I had a few problems with the book:

1. Frank Abagnale is pretty much a liar, womanizer,  thief  and complete dirt bag.  The book is pretty much just about him, and I didn't like him very much.  Supposedly he's now reformed, but he does sell this book on his website, so he is still profiting from his crimes.

2. Many of his schemes were fairly repetitive and I found myself skimming.

3. Many of the claims in the book are gross exaggerations or even lies. This bothers me because it is supposed to be a work of non-fiction. His disclaimer:
"I was interviewed by the co-writer only about four times. I believe he did a great job of telling the story, but he also over-dramatized and exaggerated some of the story. That was his style and what the editor wanted. He always reminded me that he was just telling a story and not writing my biography."

4. It ends shortly before he was caught, which is a horrible way to end the story.

It was a great choice for bookclub and our host did a great job researching and doing "truth checks" for us.  If you are looking for a book that will spur on a great discussion, this will be perfect for you.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Puff Pankcakes

Here's my suggestion for a quick and easy meal:

Sometimes people call these German Pancakes, but since I wasn't served them once the entire 11 years I lived there,  I call them Puff-Pancakes.  

4 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 Tb butter

Preheat oven to 450.  Place butter in 13x9 pan and place into oven until melted (watch closely so it doesn't burn).  Beat remaining ingredients together and pour on top of melted butter.  Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake another 5-10 minutes until it looks like this: 

We are pigs so I double the recipe

I like them best sprinkled with powdered sugar or topped with strawberries and whipped cream, but you can serve them with your favorite pancake toppings

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Author Review Sarah Addison Allen

In an effort to add some sort of consistancy to the blog, Wednesday's are now going to be "Book Day".

Lately, I've read all of Sarah Addison Allen's books.  The Peach Keeper (review here) was my favorite and the Girl Who Chased the Moon was my least favorite.

One critic harshly labeled her a one trick pony. Her books are all very similar, but I find it an extremely wonderful pony.

They all:
-are set in small North Carolina towns and are full of southern charm and wisdom.
-contrast who we were to who we are now
-have strong female relationships
-contain fantastic romance
-contain a smidgen of magic and mystery-wall paper that changes according to moods, food that causes emotions, ghosts, magic apple trees
- end in happily-ever-afters

Mostly I love Allen's beautiful writing style. For example,  I would say, "The sun didn't go down until late because it was summer."  She said,"Summer was a lady who didn't give up her spotlight easy." Fabulous.

I didn't take notes on most of the books, but here are some quotes I like from Sugar Queen.

In all my life, I've only been sure of one thing. Food makes everything better. At least until its gone."

“A hard cry could draw walls in, it could bend metal, it could turn a full moon into a sliver.”

“Sometimes what it is inside will change your life, but sometimes you don't have to read it. Sometimes it is a comfort just to have a book around.”

"I lost myself trying to find happiness in things that didn’t love me back.”

"It was always easier to be generous with people you didn’t know well."

Have you read any of her books?

Friday, April 12, 2013


Last night we had a "Share-A-Tip" night at church.  It was better than Pinterest-there was even strawberry shortcake-which we ate at the beginning instead of the end (b/c I was in charge and didn't have time to eat dinner and  was hungry).  

We decorated the tables with funny "tip jars" that said stuff like:
"tipping: bad for cows, good for us" and "My name is Inigo Montoya-prepare to tip" or my personal favorite-Darth declaring he "finds your lack of tipping disturbing".

We found 3x5 notebooks at the dollar store (5/$1) and just covered them with scrapbook paper so everyone could take notes. 

Here's some amazing stuff people shared:

I shared my shower cleaner and garden slug killer.

-How to clean oven burners: place them in a ziploc bag w/ 1/4 cup ammonia and let them sit overnight. Wipe them clean-no scrubbing.

-Clean your microwave-Add a splash of vinegar to a bowl of water. Nuke 5 minutes. The steam will loosen the gunk, then just wipe it out.

-If you spray Listerine around your front door, it will keep the bugs away.

-Gently mist your make-up with rubbing alcohol to disinfect it.

-Power Volume Collagen is the best mascara for those of us w/ thin, short lashes.

-Biz is great for stain removal.

-To make cake flour, add 2 Tb of cornstarch to every cup of flour.

-To calculate the tip, just double the tax.

-WD40 will stop creaky doors and will clean your stainless appliances.

-Pull out your fridge and dryer every so often and vacuum.

-Clorox wipes are magic.

-Lipstick will help you feel better on bad days.

-When life seems hard, a little chocolate and a nap helps.

-Sprinkle baking soda and lavender essential oil on wet beds.  Wait and hour and vacuum to remove pee smells.

-When life is the craziest-stop and take a picture.  It can help diffuse the situation.

-Teach your kids to act not react.

-When your kids won't stop begging.  Inform them they have "asked" and you have "answered".

-It's pretty easy to get on the nominating committees to elect people.

There were a few more, that I didn't write down, because I was probably chatting w/ the person next to me. 

Pretty much a perfect night for me.  I got to eat cake, hang-out with fabulous women and I even learned some stuff. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Food Stamps Made* Me Fat

If you read the name of my blog you might assume that:
a. I am incredibly good-looking
b. My husband makes a ton of money
c. I spend hours a day exercising and undergoing intense beauty treatments.

If you know me in real life, you may see a little irony my blog title.

Truth be told, I haven't always lived in the lap of middle-class luxury that I do now. Yesterdays Hope Studio's Feedback Friday got me thinking about a time when I was the recipient of several forms of government aid and I wrote the following rant based solely on my experiences.

I believe our current welfare system is broken and will be one of the driving forces of our eventual national economic ruin. No nation can survive when half the country is trying to support the other half.  Politicians that try and change the system are painted as money-hoarding heartless monsters who laugh maniacally as widows and orphans painfully starve to death. 

 Let's face it rich politicians just can't take benefits away from poor people, but they should and here's why:

WIC Made* Me to Stop Breastfeeding
After the birth of my first child, I taught high school.  Trying to juggle a classroom and pumping breast milk sucked, but I couldn't afford formula. The school secretary suggested I apply for WIC to get free baby formula.  We qualified, and received free milk, juice, cheese, peanut butter, tuna, beans, and baby formula. 

WIC is supposed to promote breastfeeding, but by giving me free formula, they made it possible for me to quit. **

My baby drank every ounce of our free formula, but lots of WIC moms turn around and sell the formula and actually make a profit. Go do a search on Craig's List if you don't believe me.

WIC is supposed to provide nutrition classes to moms, but every class I had to sit through was a complete waste of time. Sometimes they provided information that was just plain wrong.  For example, I sat through an entire class on why I should eat corn tortillas instead of flour ones.  They kept saying that each flour tortilla contains 30 grams of fat. 

Food Stamps Made Me Fat
 When we lived well below the poverty level, we tried to keep our food budget to about $200 a month.  We always had plenty to eat, but couldn't afford a lot of junk food or prepared food. Then we went on food stamps and we were given $485 a month for the 4 of us.  We could then afford to buy ANYTHING we wanted.  Ben and Jerry's ice cream?-yep! Frozen California Pizza Kitchen? -no problem.  Steak and Brisket?-BBQ at our house! 

I think I put on about 10 pounds.

What's your current food budget?  Here's how much you could get on food stamps (source)

People in HouseholdMaximum Monthly Allotment
$    200
$    367
$    526
$    668
$    793
$    952
$ 1,052
$ 1,202
Each additional person
$    150

We are finally (and gratefully) financially secure and our family eats very well on the current food budget of $500-$600 a month. Moms all over Pinterest put my budget to shame and feed their families  for $200-$300 a month. 

A family of 5 qualifies for $793 in food stamps. In addition to food stamps, that same family might also still be eligible for WIC and free breakfast and lunch at school for the kids. So basically they just need to feed the kids dinner and meals on weekends. How could you not overeat with that food budget?

(just b/c I am curious leave me a comment telling me your family size and current monthly food budget)

I used to think it was silly that you could  buy soda at the 7-11 down the street as long as you waited until after you left the store to put a straw in the cup. However, now you can even eat out at restaurants. Recently more and more fast food places are accepting EBT (food stamps)-Subway, Dominoes, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and many many more. Here's a link to 17 pages of restaurants in LA that will happily take your food stamps.

(I couldn't find the source for this-but it is sadly true)

Food Stamps Made* Me Rich
 In Texas, benefits come in the form of the "Lone Star Card" which acts like a credit card, except for the fact you don't need to show ID. This causes a huge problem with people exchanging their benefits for cash (and who knows what else). 

Food Stamps Made* Me Lazy
There are people in tough situations that might actually starve without these benefits. There are also people that just don't feel like getting a job. Either way, the government will pay you for doing nothing. 
I think if you don't get a job, your benefits are supposed to stop, but in my experience, it pretty much went like this: "You need to get a job or  else...I will ask you again next time if you have a job".

Food Stamp Made* Me High
Many states are trying to require mandatory drug tests in order to receive benefits.  I guess some are offended that our tax dollars may being used to get people high. There isn't a test that will tell us if people are spending beneits on alcohol, gambling, women etc?  I personally don't think we can stop people from misusing benefits and that drug testing will just end up costing taxpayers more in the end. 

(although I did see drug tests at the Dollar Store last night)

Here Are Some of My Suggestions:
1. Limit the amount of food stamps to $150/ person over age 10 and $100 under age 10.  In certain areas with high costs of living, allow for additional benefits.
2. Don't allow for double-dipping.  If a family qualifies for free school lunch, then reduce their food stamp budget accordingly.
3. Get rid of WIC altogether. One national food program is enough and most of the services they offer are redundant. 
4. Limit what types of food a person is allowed to buy on food stamps to healthier options and there is no way tax dollars should be used to pay for fast food.
5. Require a picture ID for all food stamp purchases.
6. Require recipients to do something (anything) in exchange for benefits. They could volunteer in neighborhood clean-up projects, schools, libraries, city landscaping, nursing homes.....Just think of how this could change our country for the better. 

I don't ever see the changes going into effect, but wouldn't it be wonderful if someone applied some common sense to welfare reform?  I am sending a copy of the post (and all the comments-so add your 2 cents) to my congressman. 

Rant over.  
I will now return you to the regular program of projects, recipes, and the normal housewifey hodge-podge of stuff I usually blog about. 

*Of course none of these programs "made" me do anything -playing the victim just seems so "in" these days.

** Please don't leave comments on how I poisoned my baby w/ formula.  I realize breastmilk is best, but my formula fed baby is just as smart, good-looking, healthy and athletic as my 2 breastfed kids. Also being my only girl, she even has way better personal hygiene habits.

***I know they are no longer called Food Stamps,they are now SNAP, but if I kept talking about SNAP, many of you might think I was ranting about a blog conference.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Fun and Flirty Bow Shirt Tutorial (sorta)

I am a little obsessed w/ bows. I am worried that I am too old to pull the look off, but I made this fun and flirty shirt for my daughter.

I used a cream chiffon w/ tiny gold dots. For the basic shirt I used Simplicity 2599.  To snazz it up, I added a bow.  If I would have known it was going to turn out this adorable, I would have taken some pictures while I was making it. Hope this makes some sense.

1. Cut 2 strips of fabric 18x6.5 inches (bow) and 3.5 by 4.5 inches (knot).

2. Fold each strip in half lengthwise. (right sides together)
3. Using a 3/8 inch seam allowance, sew along the unfolded edge. Don't forget to leave a space open to turn it inside out. 
4. Turn them right-side out.
5. Fold the bow into a bow shape. 
6. Put the knot in the middle and hand stitch the ends together on the back of the bow.
7. Tack into place where I put x's on the pic below. 

It's not as fabulous as the front, but here's a pic of the back.