Friday, May 29, 2009

Family Friendly's

I remember when we first moved to New England and someone was talking about a frenzy...everywhere I went people were talking about a new flavor of frenzy and I didn't get it, so finally I spoke up. Turns out, it was Friend-z which is one of the signature items at the iconic New England chain Friendly's.

For anyone not from here, it's kind of a mix of Red Robin and Dairy Queen; the Friend-z being the same idea as a blizzard. Once I started going, it's become a favorite for my kids. The options for families are pretty extensive, and the kids meals include an ice cream treat at the end, that kids get to pick themselves and they go way beyond the plain hot fudge sundae. When we went last week, H chose the Monster Mash Sundae which is carefully decorated to look like a monster head. In addition to having a lot of choice, the cost is really reasonable. I usually get one meal for both kids to share with an extra side of apple sauce, then I did the 'create your own for 9.99' so we got out spending just over $20 for three people, including tip!

At one point they were featuring "Sprinkle Vision" which were 3.d glasses that the kids could wear to identify codes on the menu and paper place setting that they could then enter at the website when they got home.

On Saturday, June 6th, they're having a free ice cream day so stop in to Friendly's for a fun family day!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Skinny Cow...Moooovelous!

I love ice cream. No, really. I loooooooove ice cream. One year I gave it up for Lent, and I struggled with whether or not Jesus' sacrifice was comparable. (Oooooh, I can hear my Mom's disapproval from over 3,000 miles away!)

Anytime a healthy (read: less unhealthy) ice cream treat comes on the market, I'm all over it; Double-Churned, Slow-Churned, Fro-Yo, I was even subjected to Ice Milk by my parents when I was in high school.

I was offered the chance to taste test Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches by MomCentral, and after some arm-twisting, I decided to go ahead and give it a try. Okay, fine, I couldn't sign up fast enough!

I had already tried the chocolate version at a friend's house, so thought I'd get a package of Vanilla and a package of the chocolate-filled at the store. Little did I know there would be so many choices! I settled on a package of mint-filled and a package of chocolate/peanut-butter; both of which had the chocolate cookies outside. I was also tempted by the Cookies and Cream (my true fall-back flavor) and Strawberry Shortcake which have a vanilla cookie and strawberry ice cream...yum!

My family will concur that they were both good, but we all liked the mint better. I don't know that I'd get the peanut butter again, because I've tried the others and liked them more, but if I was offered a pb Skinny Cow, you would certainly not find me turning it down!

I was pleasantly surprised at how filling they were. Ringing in at just 140 calories for most, 150 for some (2 Weight Watchers points; excepting Chocolate Peanut-Butter and Cookies & Cream, which are 3) they are a sensible choice that is also fulfilling flavor-wise. I get discouraged with 'diet' foods that are low-calorie because they're only one bite's worth of doesn't help much when you eat four or five of them! These were definitely satisfying with only one, and I would most likely have felt sick with two.

While they are on the spendy side (mine were about $5.50 at Stop-n-Shop), since you'll be eating an actual serving each time, they're actually cheaper in the long run. Mine have been in the freezer for over a week with all three of us around to eat them. When you can only grab a certain amount instead of scooping to your heart's desire, I'm far more likely to eat what I'm supposed to and be done with it.
I remember last summer when we got the Good Humor variety pack from BJ's and there were several nights that we'd have an ice cream sandwich and a cone, or another treat. I feel like the Skinny Cow treats are just bigger and more filling.

The Mint, Vanilla and Chocolate-Vanilla Combo are all Best Life approved treats.

One thing I don't like is the after-taste of artificial sweetners in my post-dinner (or anytime of day, really) sweet. I love Diet Coke and really don't drink any regular soda, but something about the taste of NutraSweet in ice cream, yogurt or any other food is just not good to me. For those who like the sugar-substitute option, they do offer the Vanilla in a no sugar added version, using Splenda.

The Skinny Cow website has a lot of information, including a bunch of stuff for scrap-bookers. I'm not sure of the connection, but there are scrap-tips and some other fun things.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Salem Falls

Salem Falls Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book. I've read several Jodi Picoult books, and my favorites have been Nineteen Minutes, Salem Falls, Harvesting the Heart and My Sister's Keeper.

I had read Nineteen Minutes as my first intro to Ms. Picoult, so was excited to see the return (or origination of) Jordan McCafferty and Selena.

In this book Jack is a Columbia educated History PhD who was teaching and coaching soccer at an all-girls prep school when he's falsely accused of having a sexual relationship with one of his players after her father finds a diary full of sexually explicit entries featuring Jack, and a package of birth control pills. Excited by the idea that they could be true, she quickly falls into the role of victim, and it's too late to turn back.

The book opens as Jack is released from his eight-month jail sentence and vows to start over again. When he reaches the sleepy town of Salem Falls, things fall into place for him, and he tried to do everything right, including notifying the Detective of his residence in accordance with his obligation to report as a sex offender.

From there, word spreads and a modern-day witch hunt ensues. Throw four teen-aged Wiccan girls, and the half-truths, mis-representations and false accusations build. It was really interesting to me to see how easily a false allegation can get out of control, but I thought she also did a very good job of not minimalizing the trauma or rape, or of making it sound like there were a large percentage of allegations that ended up being false.


There was one relationship dynamic which was really not addressed that I picked up on right away (between Gilly and her father, Pharmaceutical giant Amos Duncan). I don't know if it's because of my former job, or if there was just some really obvious foreshadowing, but I was a little disappointed that the "could be a relative" DNA issue wasn't picked up on by the defense attorney, the DA's office or any of the law enforcement. I know that in that line of work, we're all cynical enough to explore that angle if things don't fit. I don't like including spoilers in my review, but I had to include this because I kept waiting for that to be the answer of the missing DNA link, and it never happened. The "dynamic" (Read: ABUSE) isn't out-right identified until the last line of the book, so all you cheaters who like to read the last page or last chapter first, you'll already know.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Toys for your Tots

If you've ever wandered up and down, up and down, and up and down the toy aisles again at Target or other department stores, you know what I mean when I talk about the agony that is selection. Considering everything from age-approriateness (is 3+ really okay for a 2 year old, or too boring for a 5 year old?) to whether or not it will foster development, it's a jungle out there

There are tons of books and websites out there to help you on your way, but the most foolproof ones I've found are The Baby Gizmo (which I've posted about before) and Ebeanstalk.

Ebeanstalk is dedicated to a baby's development. And we select the best baby toys matched to a baby's development. To see great information on how a baby grows up, check out the info on our baby toys page.

Because I've got a slew of showers, new babies and, of course, C's first birthday, I thought I'd post some pointers found on their site.

Picking toys for a baby is not as simple as it sounds. Here are some quick baby facts:

  • Toys for a newborn baby: A newborn baby is briefly looking at objects and attempting to imitate facial expressions. They can follow objects with their eyes and usually quiet down, when they are picked up.

  • Toys for a three month old: They will enjoy ‘frolic play', reaching for objects and will repeat enjoyable activities. Believe it or not, they will respond to ‘no' (about half the time) and will start babbling.

  • Toys for a six month old: They'll search for hidden objects (object permanence). They'll reach for themselves in the mirror, play peekaboo, crumple paper, roll from their stomach to their back and even respond to their name.

  • Toys for a nine month old: They are pushing toy cars, playing pat-a-cake and looking for hidden sounds. The baby toys they are playing with are also getting more fun.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Second Helpings

Second Helpings Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Again, Ms Darling delivers witty sarcasm spliced with the naivete of a teen-ager. Her angst-filled journal entries are so fun to read because she's not depressing, just hillarious, self-depricating and not afraid to point out what's wrong with "Skanky and Skankier" and the rest of the gang in the Honors class at Pineville High. I'll be taking a little break to finish Harvesting the Heart, but then it's right on to #3. This time, I made sure I had all of them from the library before starting so I could speed right through. Another one day read.

And Marcus? Again, like Stephanie Meyers' Edward, is it wrong to be in lurve with an 18 year-old? Probably.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Union High, Union High, Alma Mater of Mine

This winter, I participated in the MomCentral blog tour promoting awareness of the Kellogg' Frosted Flakes program Earn Your Stripes, which has a sub-section called Plant a Seed intended to help with field renovations across America. People were asked to submit a field in their community that needed renovation in order that the kids and community members in general could benefit from all that organized sports and fitness in general have to offer.

I was ecstatic when I saw that my High School's field (listed under Union High School-Old Field, Union, OR) had made the final cut and is now a contender for the final 30 that will be renovated! You can vote once a day, every single day until May 31st. Vote, and vote often! If a field in your community has not been selected, I would love for you to put your support toward my hometown.
From Fartleks to Burpies and everything in between, that track and field have helped many a student athlete while away the hours in a positive way. In a community where over 90% of the youth are involved in after-school athletics throughout the course of the year, it's easy to see why a well-maintained field is so important.

The track that you see in the picture is the old cinder track that was our one and only during my heyday at UHS. After I graduated, they wrote grant after grant and worked to have a regulation track (the cinder track is not regulation) and football field built down the road from the school.

The hope is to have the track at the old field removed so that the entire space can be returned to it's previous stat, irrigated and utilized as a large field for Little League and other activities. The town's Little League space is currently at the local Stock Show grounds, which is also used for parking and the annual carnival, so is not ideal.

I have so many great memories of my time at UHS, and would love to see the field get renovated so that the next generations can benefit from a safe place to be active and engaged after-school and during the summer months. Please visit the Frosted Flakes Plant a Seed website and cast your vote every day from now until May 31st!

Friday, May 1, 2009


KaBOOM is an online resource that aims to help locate playspaces in your area. Right now, they're teaming up with MomCentral with the goal of adding 100,000 playspaces in 100 days. I was really pleased when I got the email from MomCentral that they'd teamed up because I remember when I had lived here for about six months, I happened upon the site and found that the listings in my area were pretty limited.

This is just another example of it taking a village...if we all do our part and enter the playspaces we use, other moms and their kids will benefit from our 'expertise' and get outside with their kids as well! After a looooooooooong winter moms and kids are itching to get outdoors and shake their sillies out.

We hope you can help by adding the playspaces you love!