Monday, December 17, 2012

Fallen Angels.......

Like many of you, the tragic event this past Friday, has been upper most in my mind.  Wondering how does any human being take the life of another.....wondering how do you look in the face of an innocent child and shoot them.  I doubt that I will ever be able to reconcile these thoughts to any great degree......deferring to my God, who will someday reconcile my thoughts to His.

The news media, the politicians, the "experts" all seemed focused on "better & more comprehensive" gun control. Their reasoning is it will make our world safer.  However, no matter how many guns they take away, there will always be the individual who finds one and kills someone else.  There will always be the individual who finds a way, even without a gun, to harm others.  What the news media and politicians have yet to address is the woefully inadequate mental health system that exists today.  

In an article by Sue Abderholden, Executive Director of NAMI Minnesota, the truth was exposed about the current status of our mental health system.(

"In 1957 across the nation, there were about 565,000 people with mental illnesses in psychiatric hospitals or institutions. It’s important to acknowledge that institutions themselves are not a mental health system. For the most part, institutions were closing at that time because of lack of treatment and substandard conditions.
Today, the number of people with mental illnesses living in hospitals or institutions is well under 40,000. This significant reduction reflects the change in the way our society generally views mental illnesses and other disabilities; that people belong in communities and not institutions. 
The community movement began in 1946 with the passage of the National Mental Health Act which created the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and charged the organization with three broad functions:
  • Provide funding to states in order to develop programs to address mental illness and thus reduce the need for institutional care;
  • Develop and promote training for mental health professionals; and
  • Promote and conduct mental health research
During the 1950’s antipsychotic medications were introduced which also offered hope for recovery and a life in the community. This was followed by passage of several pieces of legislation, including one in 1963 that created Community Mental Health Centers. President Kennedy held out the promise for a life in the community in a 1963 speech stating that “If we launch a broad new mental health program now, it will be possible within a decade or two to reduce the number of patients under custodial care…reliance on the cold mercy of custodial isolation will be supplanted by the open warmth of community concern and capability.”

Years ago, I was working on a degree in mental health.  Although life took me in a much different direction in the end, I had the opportunity to learn things that have stayed with me.  My practicum was spent in a psychiatric ward as an intern.  My job while there, was taking histories from the patients, learning to diagnose, and then learning how to counsel these patients.  The most startling aspect of this experience, was how many times each of the individuals had been admitted into the "system".  Every few weeks, or months, these individuals were Baker Acted back into the psychiatric ward.  Most stayed the mandatory 72-hours.  Their current history was added to the volumes of notes already taken from previous stays, a team would put together a voluntary treatment plan; if there was a family involved they would be brought in and the plan explained to them; drugs were prescribed; and then at the end of those 3-days, they were released.

What dawned on me was that nearly everyone of these patients could be standing next to me in the grocery store line on any given day, and if I didn't know who they were, I'd have no idea they'd just done another stint in a psych ward.  What was even more disconcerting was that some of these people had really violent thoughts, and as the laws are written today, until they do harm, there is nothing anyone can do.  One such example was a gentleman I interviewed.  He was the brother of a mass murder who at the time was on a death row.  I don't remember the reason this man had been admitted, but I do remember the interview vividly.  He had explained to me that he lived near a school, and that in the morning and afternoons, when the children were walking to and from school, their laughter and chatter was so upsetting to him that he wanted to hurt them to make them be quiet.  His solution at the time was to shut himself in a closet so he couldn't hear them.  I sat there expressionless taking my notes, all the while wanting to run out of the room and tell someone this man was a potential time bomb.  I did go to my supervisor and informed them what I had learned and that's when I was told that until he did something, there was nothing anyone could do.

Now, I totally understand, you can't institutionalize everyone who has a crazy thought "just because"......but, where there is an individual who has a life history of mental illness, it seems there should be more that we as a society can do.  Unfortunately, our government has set these very individuals in a position to do harm, and left the rest of us to clean up in the aftermath, all the while shaking our heads declaring we should have stricter whatever kind of laws to make sure this doesn't happen again.

There are no easy answers, but after witnessing the things I've seen I truly believe we have to step back as a society and re-evaluate how we treat mental health issues.  We need a more comprehensive treatment system.  We need to have the capacity to deal with these individuals before they do harm to others.  We need a system that supports the families who have an individual in it with mental health issues.  As it stands now, our government is a system of "reactions" versus "preventions".  What the government calls prevention is in realty penalties for the majority for the actions of a few--instead of dealing with the issues that culminate in these horrific events.

My heart aches for everyone directly impacted by the tragedy in Sandy Hook.  My heart aches for every parent that sends their child to school, and now worries it could happen again.  My heart aches for the children who go to school in fear they might be next.  They say life isn't fair........but this is one issue no one should have to grapple with. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Holiday Goodies!

As you know, one of the fun extras of the winter holidays are the goodies  that everyone seems to love to make and share.  When I was a teacher, it was a daily treat to visit the teacher workroom and see what the mother's had left for us.......of course it came at a price......serious dieting in January!  I remember too, growing up, the wonderful smells coming from my mother's kitchen.  She didn't bake much during the rest of the year, but during Christmas.......oh my!

With that being said, I thought I'd share some pictures and recipes I've seen online lately.  I look for things that don't have a lot of exotic ingredients, or take special skills (I'm not much of a baker myself), so I hope you find something you'll enjoy making for your family during this special season.

 Holiday Tree Brownies

  How cute are these?  I found this recipe on the Betty Crocker website.  The ingredients are really simple:

  • 1box (1 lb 2.4 oz) Betty Crocker® Original Supreme Premium brownie mix Water, vegetable oil and egg called for on brownie mix box
  • 2 or 3 drops green food color
  • 2/3 cup Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy vanilla frosting (from 16 oz container)
  • Betty Crocker® Decorating Decors red and green candy sprinkles or miniature candy-coated chocolate baking bits
  • Miniature candy canes (2 inch), unwrapped 
  •  -->The easy!!


    I'm not sure where this recipe originated, but I saw it on a post by Tommy Bunce who has an incredible shop on Etsy, called TJBDesigns.  It's not only adorable, but actually good for you!

    1 lb large strawberries
    1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
    3-4 Tablespoons powdered sugar (or sugar substitute - to taste)

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1. Rinse strawberries and cut around the top of the strawberry. Remove the top, (enough for a hat). Clean out the whole strawberry with a paring knife, if necessary (some of them are hollow already. Prep all of the strawberries and set aside.
    2. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Add cream cheese mix to a piping bag or Ziploc with the corner snipped off. Fill the strawberries with cheesecake mixture.
    3. Once strawberries are filled, top with the 'hats.' Decorate according to photo.
    4. If not serving immediately, refrigerate until serving.

    Christmas Pinwheel Cookies

    I found this recipe on .  I love the fact that it makes so many, and you can see by the ingredients is pretty simple to make.  It was handed down through one family, so no doubt these are good!

    Original recipe makes 72 servings 
    4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon
    baking powder 
    1/4 teaspoon
    baking soda 
    1 teaspoon
    1 1/3 cups
    1 cup
    packed brown sugar 
    2/3 cup
    white sugar 
    eggs, beaten 
    1 1/2 teaspoons
    vanilla extract 
    1 drop
    red food coloring, or as needed  
    1 drop green food coloring, or as needed

    Here's the link to the page for the recipe  --  these would be great for a party, or maybe your children are having a little celebration in their classroom!

    Holiday Shortbread Cookies 

    I would be remiss to not include something from Martha Stewart.....the Diva of holiday entertaining.  I decided to use her Holiday Shortbread Cookie Recipe because it is probably one of the most favorite types of cookies that nearly everyone loves.  You'll be amazed how simple these are to make....and what great gifts they would make!

    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
    • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
    • 1/3 cup coarse or sanding sugar (optional), for decorating


    1. In a food processor, combine butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt; process until smooth. Add flour and pulse just until combined. Form dough into an 8-inch-long round or square log; wrap tightly in plastic and freeze until firm, 30 minutes (or up to 1 month).
    2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Cut dough into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Dip edges in sugar if desired and transfer to two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are golden brown around edges, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on sheets. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

      Cook's Note
      To store cookies, wrap them tightly with plastic and keep at room temperature, up to 1 week.
      I hope something here inspires you to make something special for your family, friends, and/or co-workers!  Bon Apetite!


    Friday, November 16, 2012

    No fear.....we can help!

    One of the biggest fears buyers have of ordering clothing from the internet, is that they'll get the wrong size and have to exchange or return it.  At Adorable Baby Clothing, you'll find size charts, as well as a number to call if you want to ask more questions.

    Over the years, we've found that most people do get the sizing correct, and are thrilled with their purchase. The clothing sold on the Adorable Baby Clothing website, is of the best quality.  We're not the most expensive, and we're not the cheapest........what we promise is that you'll receive clothing that will look awesome when your little one puts it on, and most likely you'll pass it on to the next one (you may even have friends, and/or family members who ask to borrow it!).

    If you're considering buying a boy's suit, we recommend you order the size they are currently wearing in their everyday clothing.  That said, if they're about the outgrow that size, or it's going to be several weeks before they wear it, you may want to consider ordering the next size up.  You can also take the measurements provided on the size chart, and compare that with clothing they're wearing at home (we recommend you do the comparison when they're not wearing those know how wiggly squiggly kids are!).

    If it's the Flower Girl Dresses or Special Occasion Clothing, those rules would apply too.  And, if you're still not sure, don't hesitate to send an email 
    ( ),  or call (407-252-8749), and we'll be more than happy to help.

    A new feature that's available to our customers is 6-Months Interest Free Financing when you apply with Bill Me Later through PayPal.   It's a great way to be able to order the clothing you really want, and not get hit with another credit card bill just around the holidays.  Once you've made your selections, and have filled in the Shipping and Billing information, you'll have the option to chose the financing, or regular credit card billing.  And, if you're a first time Bill Me Later customer, they'll even add a $5.00 credit to your bill for opening an account.  We just encourage you to use this option responsibly!

     Posted first on Blog

    Monday, November 5, 2012

    Peeka Pals - Made in the USA - Kid Inspired - Dad Created!

    If you're looking for t-shirts or bodysuits for your little ones, Peeka Pals, has a novel and unique kid inspired line just for you.  The company is owned and run by the dad, Kaming, who was inspired by his children's love of animals.  Kaming sent me a sample of the t-shirts and bodysuits, and I have to say, I was impressed with the quality of the fabric (100% cotton) and the stitching.  Even the imprinting of the design was first rate, with no variations in the color or coverage.  My first impression was that these shirts are designed and made to last!

    Using quality t-shirts and bodysuits, he has carefully designed a variety of contemporary animal designs that offer you the customer, a multitude of customizable choices!  You can choose the background color and even have it personalized to custom fit the child you're ordering from.  What I particularly loved about this company, is the ability to have the same design on a bodysuit and a t-shirt, so if you have more than one child, at different ages, you can custom design each one to match or compliment the other.  It's the best of all worlds -- quality and variety all in one place.

    Another unique feature of Peeka Pals, is the additional items available.  Kaming, started creating clocks for his own children, which inspired everything else.  If you're looking for a unique baby shower gift, or something for your own little one, this is a fabulous way to give a themed based gift that's sure become a beloved keepsake through the years.  To top it all off, Peeka Pals, offers FREE Shipping on all orders of $45.00 or more!  So take a'll love the unique customizable gifts and shirts that are kid inspired!

    Peeka Pals even believes in helping others.  Peeka Pals works with Newborns in Need, Inc. (NIN), a 501(c)3 charity organized to take care of needy babies. At the end of every month, Peeka Pals takes the total number of shirts sold from our online store and delivers them to a NIN. NIN volunteers provide care necessities to local agencies and hospitals serving premature, ill or impoverished newborns. Newborns In Need distributes items free of charge to babies in the United States. They have provided essential items without charge to those in need since 1992. To find out more about Newborns In Need, visit

     Places to follow Peeka Pals

    We're passing the Savings on to you!

    ONLY $39.95!!
    We love saving money just like you!
    The 9M size is available for a limited time at this awesome price!
    In stock and ready to ship.....
    makes a fabulous gift too!
    This set is made in the USA, but designed according to European standards, so it runs a size smaller than you typically find.  
    The 9M size is perfect for a baby that wears a 3-6M size.

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    Halloween is coming!

    We're clearing out ALL our Halloween costumes and
    you won't find better pricing anywhere!
    If you're still looking, be sure to check us out. 
    There's still time to get them to you in plenty of time!

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    Creating Memories for a Lifetime.....

     What child doesn't love to get dressed up in their favorite costume and go trick or treating!?  When I was growing up, it was one of the most fun holidays because we were so involved in deciding what kind of costume we'd wear, and oh my goodness......the collection of candy we would accumulate was amazing!  It was the only time of the year my mother would allow me to actually eat candy, so I took full advantage.

    When I became a mother, I loved making costumes for my girls, and of course taking them out to trick or treat......and then "helping" them eat all the goodies they were given.  Now I'm a grandmother, and the cycle is starting all over.....with a new twist.....I don't have to worry so much about how much candy they're ingesting (that's their mom's responsibility), and better yet.......that candy isn't in my house to tempt me!  

    When I was a teacher, there were moms who would bring in treats for all the kids.....I included myself in those who couldn't wait to try what was being presented!  That got me to today's world the cost of food and everything else has gone up so much that doing that could get expensive--especially if you're making enough for 20+ children and one hungry teacher!  Not to mention, most of us of stretched for time, so if we can afford the ingredients, we're really pushed to get things made.  That sent me off on a quest to see what could be made in the theme of the Halloween holiday, cost effective, and wouldn't take a lot of time to put together. 

    What I found was amazing, and I thought I'd put them here for anyone looking for some ideas.  The tootsie pop spiders above, are adorable (even though I hate spiders), but other than some black pipe cleaners, googly eyes, and a bag of tootise pops, it wouldn't take much time to put these together for the kids.  I really like the googly know the kids would have a blast playing with these before they got eaten.  Easy to transport too!

    The Oreo cookies are too cute too.  The legs are licorice, the eyes are M&M's attached with some of that gel you can get in the baking section of your grocery store.  Again, the time element wouldn't take much to put them together, and you could get all the ingredients in your local grocery store in one stop.  You figure two bags of the oreos, one bag of M&M's, and some licorice, and you're good to go.  Who doesn't love an Oreo cookie!?

     For those of you who like to bake, there were a couple of options that were pretty clever too.  The picture to the left is a peanut butter cookie, with a mini Reece's peanut butter cup for the head.  You could use M&M's for the eyes, or even Skittles, attaching them with that gel in the baking section.  The the legs are again, licorice strings.

    The cupcakes are for those of you who like to really get into this sort of thing.  The cupcakes could be any flavor or course, then chocolate frosting on top, with the chocolate sprinkles for the body.  The eyes are marshmallows that have been sliced into think slivers (I bet that's a fun task to do....), and attached with more of the gel, and then M&M's attached to the marshmallows with more gel.  I'm not sure if spiders have noses, but if you'll notice there's a M&M just below the marshmallows that would be that--it might make them less creepy for those who don't find spiders so cute.  And I'm sure you've figured out the legs are red licorice. 

    Regardless, there are tons of ideas on the internet now, and there's something for every budget, skill level and motivation level.  My suggestion.....get your kids involved.....not only are you creating something fun to eat, you're creating memories that will last them a lifetime.

     Posted first on Blog

    Thursday, July 12, 2012

    The Boys Store

    The Boys Store.....that pretty much says it all!  If you have a little boy, then this is one internet retailer you want to bookmark.  Suzanne, wife, mom, mompreneur, is the creator/operator and has devoted the entire site to supplying some of the cutest casual wear you'll find for your little guy.

    Suzanne has an extensive background in fashion design, with a keen eye for finding the best of the best, in causal wear for boys.  When I interviewed Suzanne for this post, I asked if she had any preferences for the types of clothing she carries.  Her response was,
    "I almost always will lean towards cotton (mainly 100%) as boys are very active and cotton truly is the best for that (comfortable and easy care).  I have no definite preference in style and try to carry a broad range of choices (everyone is a little different) and boys really get the short end of the stick...  My customers help me define what will sell and I try to pay attention to their requests and preferences.  I have made an effort recently to carry as many American made items as I can afford, I think we all need to help boost our country’s economy and try to bring back manufacturing in the US."

    Suzanne has always been fascinated by clothing trends and fashion, and loves interacting with customers and finding solutions to their questions.  She's done her best to make The Boys Store so user friendly, and I think you'll feel the same.  You can shop by age, brand, or even the type of item you're looking for.  If you have a little boy, you owe it to yourself to take a few minutes and visit The Boys Store.....I'm betting it will be one of  your favorites!

    And, don't forget.....when your little guy needs a suit.....Adorable Baby Clothing can outfit him perfectly for that!

    Monday, July 9, 2012

    Sunday, July 1, 2012

    Some things are worth mentioning.....


    On December 31, 2010, I treated myself to a Cuisinart Keurig Coffee Maker.  It was a splurge, but my daughters had given me some gift certificates for Christmas, and it seemed the perfect way to spend them.  I'd done a lot of reading about all the different Keurig style coffee makers, and everything I'd read about the Cuisinart model was excellent.  

    I opted to buy it from the store, Bed, Bath & Beyond, partly because they stock the coffee makers, but also the coffee cups and accessories.  An added bonus was that I'd been saving one of their 20% coupons for a while, and by using it on the purchase, I felt like I was getting a great deal.  So, I proudly carried my coffee maker home, and have to say, it's been worth every penny.....that is until the other night, when I turned to turn it on, and nothing happened.  My first thought was that maybe a circuit breaker have tripped for some reason....but that wasn't it.  Then I thought, well, maybe it's the outlet.....but that wasn't had simply died......and it was about 9PM.

    I was so distraught at the thought of missing my morning cup of coffee, and  equally perplexed that this coffee maker had only lasted about 18 months.  It still looked brand new!  I called Bed, Bath and Beyond to find out how late they were open, and when I discovered I could make it, I took my most recent gift certificates (these were given for my birthday) and raced to the store.  I briefly questioned whether to buy the same model, or change, but decided to stay with the Cuisinart model.

    During the checkout, the young lady who was handling my purchase mentioned something about how much I was going to enjoy my new purchase.  I casually told her I knew I would because I was replacing the one I'd bought from their store 18 months ago.  To my surprise, she said, "Bring in your old one with your receipt and we'll refund the full purchase price."

    My jaw dropped!  "What!?  Seriously!? " was my response.  She smiled a big smile and said, :"Yep--we will."  I thanked her and drove home completely in awe of what she said.....and yet, not sure it was true.  The next morning I called the store, and told them what had happened and what their clerk had told me, asking if that was accurate.  The lady, in a most cheerful voice, said, "Absolutely!"

    Well, I'm sure you know what I did next! Packed the old one in the "new" box, found my receipt, and headed to the store.  Sure enough, without a glance, my entire purchase price was refunded........I am still I have to share with you, that if you have a Bed, Bath & Beyond to shop at--do it!  And if you've been wanting a Keurig style coffee maker--think's awesome.  Clearly Cuisinart and Bed, Bath & Beyond are confident in the products they confident that on the rare occasion something doesn't perform as it should, they'll replace questions asked.

    KUDOS Bed, Bath & Beyond & Cuisinart!!