Archive for the 'Yahoo! Mother Board' Category

Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey and Jennifer Perillo

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey and Jennifer Perillo

I am part of several blogging networks, and it’s a great way to meet people from around the country. One of the uber-smart women I have been fortunate enough to meet and write with is Jennifer Perillo, who is an A-list food blogger and the food editor at Working Mother magazine.

Last Sunday, Jennifer Perillo lost her husband to a sudden heart-attack. No warning, so signs, no signals. And now, she and her two young daughters are left with broken hearts. My eyes filled with tears when I read the news, just the idea of losing my husband is too much to think about. I was saddened for Jennifer and those precious girls.

Jennifer celebrated her husband’s life today in a private ceremony, and she asked her community of friends to honor her husband my making his favorite dessert: Creamy Peanut Butter Pie.

Today, I proudly made Mikey’s favorite Creamy Peanut Butter pie in his honor. I purchased the ingredients, heck I even had to buy a 9-inch springform pan to make it work. Yeah, I even emailed my friends at Bowl Licker and Dirt and Noise to see if a regular pie pan would work! (I decided to go tried and true.)

Jennifer’s story touched me deeply. So much I actually found a babysitter so I could have a dinner date with my husband for the first time in months and months and months. And the Creamy Peanut Butter Pie was our dessert.

Jennifer thoughtfully asked everyone to share Mikey’s Creamy Peanut Butter Pie with someone you love and then “hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.” Jennifer, in honor of your family, that’s exactly what I did…

– LTV Mom

Photo credit: Food For My Family (because my pie looked *absolutely nothing* like your beautiful creation)

Who knew spending $100 would be so difficult?

Start your own ripple of kindness and watch it grow.

Start your own ripple of kindness and watch it grow.

This holiday season, Yahoo! kicked off a program called “How Good Grows” where the company challenged people everywhere to perform a small act of kindness in hopes of inspiring others to do the same. Think of it as starting a “ripple of kindness” during the holidays to see how far the kindness could spread.

Each member of the Yahoo! Mother Board was given $100 to spend, basically seed money to start our own ripple. I was so excited to participate in this program, and had no idea how hard it would be. I started out wanting to help others, but instead, I surprised myself. Here’s what I learned:

1. I can be shy. Those of you who know me can stop laughing now. In real life, I am loud. But when it came to surprising  a random person by buying a cup of coffee or paying for groceries, I just couldn’t do it. After much reflection, I think it’s because I didn’t grow up with money, and I was simply afraid to offend people by implying they couldn’t afford food.

2. I can be indecisive. Again, another “Jekyll and Hyde” comment for those who know me. Once I realized I can’t surprise people with acts of kindness, I decided to pick a charity to support. Well, I couldn’t pick one over the other, all are deserving and worthy. I think this is because for my day-job at a PR firm, my job is to make decisions all day long. If I were making a decision for my work, I could weigh the pros and cons, and determine the best ROI. But this decision was purely from the heart, which made it much more difficult.

3. I can be helpful. Once this program kicked off, even if I was not sharing my $100, I found myself remembering to be more thoughtful, kind and considerate to others. Just last week, I was flying from San Jose to Austin, and was seated next to a young brother and sister. I’m guessing they were in high school, and it was their first plane ride ever. I realized they were nervous, so I took off my headphones and talked them through the take-off, turbulence and landing. Then, at the Houston airport, I helped them find their next gate. It felt great, and that act of kindness didn’t cost a dime.

4. Sharing feels great. This is the best part of the program. I decided to share my $100 with a woman who is a recent breast cancer survivor.  Exactly one week after her last chemo treatment, just a few weeks ago, her husband was diagnosed with Stage Four colon cancer.  They are both in their late 30s. They have four small children. They live in snowy and cold Iowa, so I decided to donate my $100 to pay for a service to shovel their driveway during the holidays, so they can focus on enjoying Christmas with their family. I happily shared the news with her, and she thanked me with tears in her eyes.

I was so moved by this experience that I decided to match the Yahoo! money with my own to double the amount of snow removal-service this family can have. Winters are long in Iowa… and so are chemo treatments.

If you’d also like to help this couple, email me at laptoptelevision (at) yahoo (dot) com for more information.

– LTV Mom

This post was inspired by participation with the Yahoo! Mother Board, where 80 amazing women share thoughts on a single topic each month. While Yahoo! is my client, these thoughts are mine and I did not receive compensation for writing this post. I received $100 as part of the “How Good Grows” program.

An end to my favorite holiday tradition

German Dinner with Granny

German Dinner with Granny

My favorite holiday tradition happens after Thanksgiving, before the December holidays start kicking into high-gear. It’s not held to a date on the calendar, rather the date depends on travel plans and social calendars of family and friends.  This tradition is special, and it’s filled with laughter and love and food.  But sadly, my favorite holiday tradition ends this year, but, I will hold it in my heart forever, and honor it here today.

My family always spent Thanksgiving with my husband’s grandmother, who would fly from her home in Iowa to our home in California for at least a week. We would spend our time together playing cards, drinking cocktails and listening to Frank Sinatra music. But my favorite part of her Thanksgiving vacation happened after the turkey and leftovers were packed away in the refrigerator. Once a year, our family would set a fine table and dine on an authentic, home-cooked German meal.

Our grandmother — who everyone called Granny — was born and raised in Berlin and was blessed with a think German accent, even after 45 years living in the United States. During her trips to California, my husband and I would calendar one evening to gather together friends to honor her German heritage and traditions.

Food was the anchor of the tradition, and preparation was equally delightful. Granny would spend all day in the kitchen preparing our feast, and I would set the table with her best dishes and fine silver she brought over from Germany. We’d invite friends from around the Bay Area to share in the meal, and we would dine together over stories, laughter and togetherness. The menu was always the same: Sauerbraten, red cabbage, applesauce, asparagus and German potato salad. For many of our friends, this was the first time they had enjoyed a traditional German meal, which was lovely, fun and (oh yes!) delicious.

Sadly, Granny died in September of this year. I miss her, and I miss our special tradition. Today is three days after Thanksgiving, usually the time we would be eating together. I should be washing linens and eating left-over Sauerbraten right now. Instead, I am looking at photos and remembering how much I cherished that once-a-year event.

Granny handled the Lion’s share of the cooking, but I always contributed the German potato salad… which is actually a recipe from my grandmother. Granny is not here to eat my German potato salad, so in her honor, I will share my family’s potato salad recipe with you:

  1. Boil 18 small potatoes (any type works, we always use Russet) with the skins on, drain and cool
  2. Fry 4-6 slices of bacon in a skillet, remove bacon from heat; cool bacon and crumble
  3. Skim-off part of the bacon fat, add 1 cup chopped white or red onion to skillet, cook until onion is clear
  4. Mix in a sauce of half-cup white vinegar, one-cup water, one-half cup sugar, one teaspoon salt and one-half teaspoon pepper; add to the skillet with the crumbled bacon (Note: You need to test and try the sauce, I happen to like a lot of sauce with an extra dash of vinegar)
  5. Peel and cube potatoes, add potatoes and to the bacon-onion mixture
  6. Serve hot, potatoes should be soft

Keep in mind, I think this is the correct version of the recipe. Like any good family recipe, it was passed down from generation to generation verbally, it was never written on paper. I asked my mom to write it down for me, and the recipe card arrived with lots of questions marks and approximates. This recipe takes a little trial and error. Regardless, please enjoy and think of our Granny when you feast on this traditional German dish.

Prost!

– LTV Mom

This post was inspired by participation with the Yahoo! Mother Board, where 80 amazing women share thoughts on a single topic each month. While Yahoo! is my client, these thoughts are mine and I did not receive compensation for writing this post.

When people I love have breast cancer.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As we wrap up National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I reflect on the thoughtful, inspirational blog posts I read throughout the month.  You know what, I have amazing friends across the blogosphere. One friend in Raleigh is determined to cure breast cancer. Another is worried about inheriting the BRCA gene because her mother had breast-cancer. Many walked 60 miles to raise money to find a cure. And one brave friend details her personal fight to “kick breast cancer in the ass.”

Heroic? Yes. Strength only a woman can have? I certainly think so.

Women are strong creatures, which is why I want the people I love to “fight like a girl” when faced with breast cancer. This year, Breast Cancer Awareness Month hits close to home. My best friend’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year. Thankfully, she is doing well and currently is cancer-free. I saw her shortly after she was diagnosed. I could tell she was struggling both emotionally and physically, so I hugged her and told her we would fight this together. Fight she did, and I am so proud of her.

This also is the first Breast Cancer Awareness Month where I can point to someone my age, someone I grew up with, someone I love, someone fighting the good fight.  I have not one, but TWO, college friends who are dealing with the disease. We are all young (40 or younger). One has a success story to share, the other had her last treatment of chemo today.

I am humbled and overwhelmed by the strength and spirit of my friends, they are amazing women. Both are active members of their local communities. Both are loving wives with amazing husbands. Both are mothers to four beautiful children. Both are graduates from Iowa State University. Both are my beloved sorority sisters. Both are my friends. Both are breast cancer survivors.

I have a message for my friends Gretchen and Becky, and to my “other-mother” Gloria, and I don’t say it often enough: I am proud of you. I am humbled by your strength. I am blessed to be in your life. Keep fighting the good fight and being the examples you have become.

- LTV Mom

This post was inspired by participation with the Yahoo! Mother Board, where 80 amazing women share thoughts on a single topic each month. While Yahoo! is my client, these thoughts are mine and I did not receive compensation for writing this post.

Photo credit: Fight Like a Girl

My Personal “Food Revolution”

Jaime Oliver's Food Revolution

Jaime Oliver

This month, members of the Yahoo! Mother Board are exploring thoughts and opinions about teaching kids healthy eating habits. I am passionate about what I feed my child. I’m just lazy when it comes to feeding myself.

I recently explored this topic on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog, and here’s what I had to say:

When I first heard of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and the show on ABC-TV, I was intrigued. I set my DVR and watched faithfully as Jamie met the people in the fattest city in America and tried to convince them to change their eating habits and live healthier lifestyles. He even tackled the public school lunch program. I was shocked and appalled by the eating habits of the families and school kitchens featured in the show. “How in the world can parents feed their kids that junk,” I smugly asked myself.

After firmly planting myself on Team Jamie — and passing judgment on the kind people of Huntington, West Virginia — I had my own personal food revolution. Before I can join a Food Revolution to make America a healthier country, I needed to look in my own kitchen. I realized that I feed my kid like a professional athlete, I feed myself like crap. The person who really needed a food revolution… was me.

I feed my kid like a champ. Seriously, I feed her with complete responsibility and discipline. For example, her breakfast is steel-cut oatmeal with a drizzle of honey, a glass of low-fat organic milk, and a side dish of strawberries. And while she eats this breakfast, I pack her lunch of an almond butter sandwich on whole-wheat toast, carrot sticks, organic yogurt and fresh blueberries.

I am a hypocrite. My breakfast is a processed bar of some sort in the car on the way to work. My lunch is a lame frozen entrée, pre-packaged apple sauce and a diet cola. Oh yeah, and I eat whatever junk may or may not be lying around the kitchen at my office. And everyone once in a great while, I even remember to eat lunch before 2 p.m. Of course, let’s not forget the wine and Pirate’s Booty I usually consume around 10 p.m. every night.

The light bulb goes off. Yes, I need to practice what I preach. I need to value my body as much as I value my daughter’s teeny little (and growing) body. I worry and plan about each drop of food that reaches her lips. I want her body to be healthy and vibrant and good. Why in the world would I not expect (and want) the same thing for her mother?

Jamie’s lessons enter my house. Jamie Oliver inspired me to eat better and healthier. I now eat fruit and yogurt smoothies for breakfast and try very hard to pack a healthy lunch as often as possible. His cute face (and encouraging words) are good reminders to eat whole foods, healthy foods and non-processed foods. He showed me that I can pack a healthy lunch at low cost and with little effort. He reminded me that my body is valuable too, and I must make time to feed it properly.

My comfort food is back in the house. The best lesson Jamie taught me is that my love for meat-and-potatoes are okay. I watched him make mashed potatoes on Oprah, with the lesson that whole foods are good regardless of the package. I now know it’s not the end of the word to enjoy a meatloaf (with bell peppers, onion and parsley from the Farmer’s Market), mashed potatoes (skin on, with fresh garlic and olive oil) and roasted broccoli for dinner. Not only is comfort food back in my house, so is my joy for eating!

End of the day, I started watching Food Revolution to learn how to make “other people” in America healthier… but the lesson was all mine.

- LTV Mom

This post was inspired by participation with the Yahoo! Mother Board, where 80 amazing women share thoughts on a single topic each month.  While Yahoo! is my client, these thoughts are mine and I did not receive compensation for writing this post.

Back to School = A Time of Firsts

Back to School

Back to School

I’ll be honest, this back-to-school season is extremely overwhelming for this mom. I have crazy-emotions right now, mostly because this is a season of many important firsts for our family:

First day of Kindergarten: My daughter is starting Kindergarten on Monday. You’d think I would be okay with this concept; after all, she has three years of pre-school under her belt. But this time, in my mind, it’s different. Kindergarten is the first step toward graduating high school. The school is big, and there are tons of older kids to influence her. This Mama Bear is nervous. First day of Kindergarten also means…

First day of public school: I mentioned the three years of pre-school, well, they were small private schools. And these schools were small, high-security schools with strict rules. I don’t know enough about the new school to have an opinion, but I’m sure I will in no time. The teachers and parents seem great, so I am very hopeful and positive.  First day of public school also means…

First day of no uniform: Yes, my daughter went back-to-school shopping for the first time. My daughter now has choices and opinions about what she wears to school. While she is excited, I am not. I love school uniforms. I miss school uniforms. I am frightened by some of the clothing options for little girls. I guess I’ll have to create (and enforce) my own rules. The first day of no uniform means…

First day of marketing over-load: I loved the fact that my daughter’s private schools did not allow branded clothing or merchandise in the classroom. No SpongeBob lunch-boxes or iCarly backpacks.  The kids brought bags with solid colors, simple designs and no logos. Luckily, we found an appropriate backpack and lunch box for Kindergarten. Of course, this means I totally over-spent on my kid’s backpack, but it took persuasion for her to select the brightly colored (and pricey) backpack over the “Princess” option. And to top it all off…

First day at a new school in a new city: Yes, we just moved to this state, city and school district. Lots of big changes for my small family. But, I am so proud of my little girl. She is handling all of these changes with grace and tolerance… which is more than her mom can say.

– LTV Mom

This post was inspired by participation with the Yahoo! Mother Board, where 80 amazing women share thoughts on a single topic each month.  While Yahoo! is my client, these thoughts are mine and I did not receive compensation for writing this post.

Photo credit: My Stock Photos via Flickr

2010 Earth Day: Common Sense and Learning

Back in 2008, I watched an episode of Oprah called “Going Green 101” which shared basic tips to live a green lifestyle, tips like turning off the water when you brush your teeth, which inspired a blog post called “Green is the new Cheap.” As much as I love being smart about minimizing waste, conserving natural resources and recycling, I still think it’s funny that common sense and frugality is now labeled “green” and is (finally) cool in the United States. Of course, I am talking with a touch of sarcasm, but I do think it’s important to embrace green-living by simply using your noggin and minding your wallet.

In honor of Earth Day, I decided to set aside my cynicism and learn something new about leading a greener (and healthier) lifestyle and teaching my daughter about the environment. The catalyst for my enlightenment is this month’s book club selection for the Silicon Valley Moms Group — Green Guide Families: The Complete Reference for Eco-friendly Parents — and having Earth Day as the monthly blog topic for the Yahoo! Mother Board. I figured this is a great way to accomplish my personal educational goals for Earth Day (and a good reminder that this grumpy old lady still has a lot to learn!)

What I learned: We all know plastic water bottles in a landfill is not a good thing, but I really wanted to focus on the issues that are not in my immediate control, things like food labels and toxins. I wanted to explore topics that require more than common sense, issues that need a few minutes of research and an open mind. For example, the Green Guide is a great resource for determining when to buy organic foods (and which fruits and veggies are least likely to be contaminated with pesticides). I also learned that not all food additives are bad for you; for example, ascorbic acid is basically Vitamin C. I also learned I should buy soy-based crayons because standard crayons are made from petroleum. Like most action items that lead to a greener life, one change might not appear life-altering, but collectively are that important.

Where I need to improve: There are two areas of my life that are the least-green: technology and commuting. Common sense tells me there are easy fixes like carpooling and unplugging the TV and DVR when I go to work, but my crazy working-mom lifestyle (and lack of mass-transit in the Bay Area) makes those solutions impractical (and quite honestly and selfishly inconvenient.) So, I headed over to Yahoo! Green to find new ideas. I learned that telecommuting has a bigger impact that I thought, so I will be more diligent about working from home 1-2 days a week. Still not sure what to do about my love for the TV and DVR, but suggestions are welcomed.

What I want to teach my child: I discovered there are easy, free ways to teach my kid about the beauty of the world and why we need to take care of it. The Green Guide talks about taking your kid to Farmer’s Market to introduce them to the actual people who plant and grow food, and take them camping to show them the beauty of our vast world. Luckily, both are easy in the Bay Area, and camping is on my calendar for later this summer. I also decided to teach my daughter how to garden, and since I am a novice (yes, I was raised in Iowa), I found some great tips on Yahoo! Green. Lastly, I also discovered that BBC is sharing its wonderful series Planet Earth for FREE on iTunes until April 26. My kid and I will watch together, and hopefully a little inspiration will come from watching.

At the end of the day: I was reminded that being green is more than common sense. It’s also taking time to read and learn, and also making choices (and sometimes sacrifices) for the greater good of the world. And heck, you might even save a buck or two.

– LTV Mom

Photo Credit: National Geographic

This post was written as part of the Silicon Valley Moms Group Book Club, and I received the Green Guide Families at no cost.

Celebrities as Role Models (and what to do with iCarly?)

Parents are often asked what we think about celebrities as role models for our kids.  As you can probably guess from the name of my blog, we are not afraid of TV in our house.  While we limit the amount, and the type, of TV shows my five-year-old can watch, we often have the TV on during the evening hours. (I like to watch  Cash Cab when I cook dinner!) So, I have to be mindful of the shows we are watching, especially if my kid is in the room.
That said, I’m one of those parents who will turn off the TV, cover the kid’s eyes, or change the channel if the programming quickly turns inappropriate for a child.  I freak out when a major network plays a Viagra ad in the 8 p.m. timeslot or there is a racy performance on American Idol. My kid does not need to see that type of entertainment, so I simply take action. (After all, that’s my job.)
I have greater concerns about the shows my kid loves to watch, especially when she becomes glued to the TV. She is allowed to watch cartoons when eating her breakfast (when mommy is getting ready for work, packing lunches and running around like a wild woman). The rest of her TV-watching is during the weekend, when I just need 30 minutes to make dinner, wash some clothes or pay some bills. Her favorite show is iCarly, followed by similar shows like Wizards of Waverly Place and The Suite Life of Zach and Cody. At first, I thought the shows were okay for a five-year-old… not great, but okay. And then I realized iCarly kids are more than characters to my kid, she was seeing them as role models. And I didn’t like the effects I seeing.
I realized that if my daughter watched more than two shows in one day, she would quickly start to emulate the characters by copying the word choices, rude actions and snarky facial expressions portrayed by the kids on her shows.  Trying to nip this behavior in the bud, I would sit and watch the show with her and interject commentary like “you do realize that you are never allowed to talk to a parent in that tone or manner, right? You would be in big trouble!” I then struggled with letting her watch the shows and being the super-annoying mom who was barking at her during her TV time.
Finally, I decided to use iCarly and the gang to my advantage. When my kid is busted for back-talk, not listening to her parents or being disrespectful… the iCarly privileges are taken away with the explanation that “you are not allowed to act like that, even if you do see it on TV.”
To explore other thoughts and opinions on celebrities as role models, check out the video above where my fellow Yahoo! Mother Board members from across the country discuss their opinions.
Finally, I’d like to close with my thoughts on celebrity role models for ME. I admittedly get caught in the trap of celebrity beauty, weight and glamor. But then I need to get a grip and remember professional celebrities have access to trainers, chefs and an entourage. Most importantly, I have to remind myself “I need to judge and respect people based on their personal character… not their personal accomplishments.”
– LTV Mom