Monday, January 31, 2011

Top 10 Ways To NOT Pack My Groceries!

No, that is not a euphemism.

What is it with the young people and the old guys that they cannot pack my groceries in a common-sense way??



1. No, do not put a bag of frozen veggies in with my canned goods, a bottle of juice, my tomatoes and then put my eggs on top!  Hello?!! 

2. It is not acceptable to put a gallon of milk on top of a box of cereal, thereby mashing down the box.

3. I don’t want to see my bread turned vertically and crammed down the side of the bag full of canned goods.

4. Please do not fill a bag with 2 bottles of milk….and a bottle of juice….with my macaroni thrown in cuz you didn’t know where else to put it!  I cannot lift that!

Hey! Look Over There!! -->





No, I'm not trying to misdirect you! lol I just found a blog that is all about CROCK POT cooking!! My current fixation when it comes to cooking (you know, besides, Nigella!).  How pretty is that slow cooker?? I'm using the one I got as a wedding gift, which makes it 13 years old and probably has had more use the past year than every before, no lie.  As someone who is trying to work as well as you know, work....as a mom, I find that I adore crock pot days!  Nothing like being tired at the end of the night and realizing, booyah!, I don't have to cook, dinner is READY! lol

So check out The Crock Pot Blog.  I know I will!!

Hello New Followers! :)

I have been working hard at promoting my blog and it really seems to be paying off! :)  I went from about 8 followers maybe 3 weeks ago?  Now I have almost 30.  Not a flood, not a tidal wave, but slow and steady, a new person every day!  (and as we know, slow and steady wins the race! ;) )

I have been SO busy promoting my website and networking that I have not been able to stop and see who is actually following me! :)   So I thought I'd ask you all to comment, post a little something about yourself, and leave me a link if you have one, to your blog.

Look forward to getting to know you all! :)
xo
L

A Response to a Muddled Mother....

I wrote this in response to a woman who was having a real struggle as a mom (gee, don't know what that's like! lol)  Here is her original rant: A Muddled Mother blog.   I was actually kind of surprised at the responses she was getting.  Some were like, "oh well, that's just kids!" and others were like, "that's just what it means to be a mom!"  I thought, this poor woman is up at 2am, unable to sleep because of what's going on in her house---where's the REAL advice, the stuff that might actually help her??? Here's my response:




Ok, I'm going to try to be a voice of reason here because I have been where you are and I am sooooo far from the perfect mom, but I'll tell you what helps me: 

1. Remember that if your kids aren't acting the way you want, you can change that. You are the parent AND you teach people how to treat you. You know what we do when little ones use their mouths inappropriately? They get a teaspoon of hot sauce. They've each had it a few times and now they don't sass nearly as much, I just threaten the hot sauce. :) lol 





My point is, I would have jumped to nip that behavior in the bud. I would have said to my husband: go upstairs and take care of the baby please. I would have then headed after Gannon and told him that taunting his brother is unacceptable and punished him. Period. I know teenagers are hard, but consistent work at the time of the problem should help. A family meeting might be in order. 
I then would have told Aidan to come upstairs and apologize to his stepfather and little sister. I would have meted out his punishment right there (for example, if he can't come home at curfew, he doesn't go out and if he can't answer his phone, you can take it from him for a while---he's not using it anyway!). 

2. You are a mother but you are still a woman. You are still your own person. I had an epiphany while scrubbing toilets one day and said to myself, "Is this it then? I'm just destined to clean up after everyone for the rest of my life?" I decided then and there I was going to spend less time cleaning and more time doing what I wanted. You will not be on your death bed moaning about how you wish you had spent more time cleaning! You need something(s) for yourself! Read, cook, garden, whatever your old hobbies are, dust them off girlfriend! Make a regular girls' date, monthly, weekly, whatever you need to go meet and have coffee. I don't know about you, but my husband pretty much does what he wants! lol He doesn't hesitate to plop down and play video games for a while or to run out and get some coffee or cigarettes----with no thought to bundling up the kids and taking them along! lol You need to adapt more of that kind of attitude! :) Delegate more, make yourself more of a priority. Think of this: your kids mimic you. If you are a workaholic, they will be workaholics (and you'll be worrying about their stress levels!). If you do everything and they (and your hubby) don't help, they will expect the woman in their life to do the same! 

3. The next time you're that angry, sit down and write. Just grab some looseleaf and a pen and write until you feel drained. Get it out. Holding anger in is poison, I can tell you!

I've really had to learn the hard way to make changes in my life. My eldest son is 6 and he is a huge challenge! And my middle son is 4 and starting to be very stubborn and nasty to us and my 13 month old daughter is starting to buck naps and scream, morning, noon and night! But those problems aren't my sole focus. When my kids are acting out, I try to get proactive---I promise you, it will make you feel so much better to attempt to chuck those stones off your chest rather than sitting there waiting for the next one! :) Nobody's perfect, no life is perfect, but you can make it perfect for you! ;) 

If all else fails, see a therapist---a FEMALE therapist, who can commiserate w/you and validate you! :) Your one commentor was right: we women are the heart and souls of our families. And I bucked against that and it isn't fair but then I thought of this: if I'M not happy, nobody is. It's ok to be a little selfish! I let my family know, in a joking way when things are getting out of hand and I'm tense, I tell them, "Hey, do as I tell ya! Remember, if I'm not happy, nobody is!" lol ;) 


good luck!!



*************************************

Like what you've read here? 
Check out the NEW and IMPROVED
LaLa Land 
over at: 
www.lalanetwork.com
I will begin to transfer material from here to there shortly.
Thank you for stopping by! 
Lara   


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reviewing with GoodReads!

I have had a wonderful experience with GoodReads lately! :)

If you go into GoodReads (you have to have an account!), you can go to the Expore tab, click on books.







When that screen comes up, it has its own tabs.  Click on Giveaways.









At the bottom of that screen on the right, below the titles, you'll see "More Giveaways."  Click on that and 
you're ready to go! 





   There are pages and pages of giveaways, even from established, known authors!!  Some only give away 1 at a time, some 5 or 25, some autographed!  It's awesome and I'm totally hooked!  These are typically pre-published, ARC or galley manuscripts.  You're asked, if you win, to review them and paste that review on GoodReads which GoodReads may use.  :)  Pretty cool right?? Today's a great day to go do that because many of the giveaways are ending today or tomorrow, so you can still get in under the wire.  I just started entering to win on Friday and I've already won one!  It's called Drum Dance by Bonnie Turner.
   

The other cool side effect:  I've had like 3 authors friend me because I had signed up to win one of their books.  I had another author, who is trying to get his novella out and reviewed as some of his earnings are going to charity, contact me and ask me to read a FREE pdf version of his book and review before the end of the month.   THAT one is called The Cries of Vampira (The Horror of Gaad Grey, The Evil Alpha Werewolf #1) by Sean H Robertson.

Totally psyched! heehee.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking


                                                           














I have just finished the 3rd book in the Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking.

The idea for this series was unique, considering all the vampire books that are out there!  This one is about trolls but not in the traditional sense.  They are different from humans in several ways, including their diet (pretty much vegan and organic) and that they don’t like to wear shoes.  There is magic and political intrigue and love.

’m a little obsessed with YA and this one sucked me right in!  Although you can tell that this author is new, her books get progressively better.  The writing itself isn’t on par with say JK Rowling (it is a little awkward in places and some books are in desperate need of better editing) Ms.Hocking keeps the pace moving with interesting twists and turns of plot as well as character growth.  Her dialogue isn’t perfect yet, but for a first time author who is a selling books like hotcakes on Amazon, that doesn’t hurt the story in the least!  She also isn’t fixated on a happy ending but takes her characters through some tough, exciting issues that make it hard to put her books down!  Her characters are real, they are changing and they are cheer-worthy.

I highly recommend them especially considering Ms. Hocking only charges $.99-$2.99 a book for the Kindle download!  Also available in paperback from Amazon
As well as here, from create space and on the nook.




So Funny....

....I had to share! :)  I believe my sister Kate would find this amusing!

Today's Mama: Why Celebrating Valentine's Day is a GOOD Idea!

Head on over to Today's Mama for my latest post about Valentine's Day and why it's not all commercial crap.  Er, stuff.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What's the Dealio Dr.Oz?


Have you noticed that Doctor Oz is taking away everything that makes our lives easier: Microwaves.  Canned goods.  Cooking canned food IN microwaves.  Mineral powder foundation. (Don’t inhale!!)

I mean, what’s the dealio, Dr.Oz?

What’s next?  What other item am I using that is causing me some kind of cancer or tumor?

Trying to make dinner the other night at my mom’s was a hassle because my sister refused to use the microwave and my mom didn’t want to have anything to do with plastic.  SHE used the microwave, but wouldn’t cover the food with anything because heating any plastics (or even wax paper) is bad for you!   Do you know how long it takes to fix dinner avoiding plastic and using only the stove top? Huh, do you Dr. Oz??

Are you trying to take us back to Little House on the Prairie times?  Make us chop wood just to boil water so we “cook” our laundry?  All food is grown and harvested and (ack!) killed ourselves??  Is this some kind of anti-feminist plot to make our lives super difficult in order to be healthy? 

Well? What do you have to say for yourself Dr. Oz?  

Chocolate Banana....or was it Banana Chocolate?


Either way, here is my update for that recipe:  chocolate chips, another banana and make them mini!  Now they are a big hit and much tastier!! lol They were a little dense for muffins and I think it's because the recipe is basically one for banana bread.  In my Betty Crocker cookbook, there is actually a separate, and much different recipe, for muffins.  I prefer the banana bread recipe personally, even when used as a muffin!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

French Toast

Nigella, once again!  Now, normally I use a french toast recipe (which all my children thankfully eat!  My husband, actually, could take it leave it!) from my good ol' Betty Crocker cookbook that I got for a wedding present! (that is a great idea by the way and I highly recommend cookbooks as wedding gifts! lol) 

The Betty recipe uses vanilla extract, milk and eggs for a base.  I love love love cloves and add them to whatever I can, so with the dash of cinnamon, I usually add cloves.  Here, there was no vanilla extract, which to me is what really gives french toast its taste, but instead used a good 2 tablespoons of sugar!!  It felt really strange to be pouring tablespoons of sugar into my french toast mixture and stirring it up, I gotta tell ya!  It felt unnecessary!  Then I thought, wait, is this gonna be all crispy encrusted with a yummy sugar coating??? 
 
No.  It wasn't.



Tasted very similar to my regular recipe. 

It was good, don't get me wrong, but if I had a choice, I'd pick the Betty Crocker recipe, not because of taste, but just to cut back on that sugar! (this from the woman who has taken to using only REAL butter....just call me Paula! ;)  )



      

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I'm Stuck!!

Just so you know, I had every intention of putting up several blog posts about recipes and books until my stinkin laptop died! Power is apparently not actually making it to the motherboard.

Consequently, I'm in the frigid basement with a tiny space heater trying to use my  hubby's "beast" computer which is set up for gaming, not writing.  No word on here, people, no office of any kind, no Microsoft suites to be found.  Illustrator? Laughable.  This is like roughing it.  Not to mention I can't take this up to my warm room and my cozy bed and type.  At least I can check my email periodically and post if I have time---can't do much when kids are awake (speaking of which I have to get them in bed!!).  So I can post here but the real kicker: no working on my book.  Killing me.  I had made great strides on my outline and was getting close to getting back to the writing part and now? *sigh* 

I'm not a good waiter.  A person who waits. Not a waitress.
Anyhoo, I'll be back when I can y'all! :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Shiny and New!!!

I used Shabby Blogs for my blog design here---they are FREE my friend, with a capital "F"!! I just opened the header in Illustrator and added the text.  The background has Jane Austen in the title and there weren't any matchy matchy buttons or other extra elements specifically meant for that so I just found buttons and things that matched myself! :) 

Cleaned out my gadgets and gizmos trying to simplify!  To follow me on FB, please check contact me! :) Thanks!!  Let me know what you think!  Hate it? Love it? want more? need less?  Leave a comment!...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Housecleaning!

Please excuse my mismatched items as I clean up and get more professional here!!  I tried to design my own header, but after viewing many other blogs, it just isn't how I want it, so Imma gonna tweak it AGAIN! Bear with me, I will select something that I will not want to change for a good long while, I promise!!! :)
Thanks!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chocolate Banana Muffins


 I was very excited to make these (yet another Nigella Kitchen recipe!!) and they turned out .....ok.  Not fantastic, but just ok.  I was kinda disappointed, truth be told.  Not as chocolatey as I thought they'd be.  Now, I did only use 2 bananas (it was all I had!) instead of 3 and I think I will definitely be using 3 next time---they weren't moist enough and I think that was the cause.  Additionally, I think I'll add some mini chocolate chips...and I'm not a big fan of chocolate for breakfast, but still, even my mom said those exact words:  You know what would really make these taste good Lara?  Chocolate chips!   My mom and I are often on the same wavelength like that! lol  Here is what mine looked like:










Sunday, January 16, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge!!

Over at Goodreads, they are having a 2011 Reading Challenge!  I used to try to keep track of what books I was reading and how many using a spreadsheet (anal I know but I was curious since I read that Nicholas Sparks tried to read 100 books a year!) and I of course wasn't keeping up with it at all!! Now, you just click on books you're currently reading and click when you're done---it does all the work for you!! 

I have pledged to read 100 books----this is a New Year's Resolution I will ENJOY trying to keep! lol


To discuss this topic, head over to my LaLa Land Community over at The Blog Frog! :)

Guest Blogger Hayley: ReadersAnonymous

I love doing guest posts, but when Lara told me that it could be about anything - I was stumped as to what to write about. I am a wide-open book and can talk a lot about a lot of things. But when faced with anything I got some writer’s block. When I asked The Hubby what I should write about….well, I just won’t repeat that, hee hee. So sitting here staring at my computer screen, I decided I will tell you about one of my addictions. It’s books. Reading. I am an Amazon.com Addict. In my wish list on Amazon I have 490 items and counting. In my closet here at home I have a shelf that is four rows deep and ten books high. Plus a tote of books under the bed. All these books are books I have to read. I want to read. I am going to read. I read every night at bedtime. That is really the only time I get to read, with two crazy little boys running around. Here is a random list from my Amazon wish list of the books on my list:


1. Moonlight And Lovesongs by Lilian Harry

2. Mine Is The Night by Liz Curtis Higgs

3. My Booky Wooky by Russell Brand

4. 29 by Adena Halpern

5. Fast Friends by Jill Mansell

6. Conversations With The Fat Girl by Liza Palmer

7. Sweet Hush by Deborah Smith

8. How To Play The Games Of Yesterday by Huw Davies

9. Fabulous Doodles by Nellie Ryan

10. The Military Wives Cookbook by Carolyn Quick Tillery


So, that is just ten out of almost 500. Sigh. Now, I want to go read. No, no, no. If I tell the truth, now I want to go on Amazon and shop! Agh! What is it about books that has me so spellbound? I’ll probably never know that answer. But at least I will enjoy reading all these books! Happy Reading!




I am 31, happily married to a US Army Veteran, and the mama of two handsome boys, Callan and Mason!
Visit my blog at http://hangingoffthewire.blogspot.com//.






Saturday, January 15, 2011

Guest Blogger Spot!

Hey all!! :) 
I did a guest blogging spot for my NEW friend Hayley, over at her blog, Hanging Off the Wire where she is having guest bloggers on creativity.  I wrote about being creative with your time as a mom.  Her site is awesome, full of cool stuff and she posts several updates a day that wonder woman!! :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

How to Get Your Kids to Do What You Want

My latest article on Parenting:  How to get your kids to do what you want!  thought that might get your attention! ;)

I know, I know...

My New Year's Resolution should be: Stop fooling with my fricken blog design!! But I really really like this one. I might even be in love! shhhh, don't tell the book background!
What do you think?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Wrestler on HBO

The Wrestler was very interesting to watch.  As a writer, I often see the structure of the story and can anticipate what happens next or where they are going with something.  Here, they show Randy on his daily rounds, working, struggling with his bills, visiting a stripper at the club and then wrestling on the weekends.  The wrestling is all pre-planned, play-acting but he really enjoys it; he is a star as a matter of fact, in this wrestling world, idolized and sought after.  His whole life revolves around wrestling:  He can't work weekends because of it, he struggles with his bills because he doesn't work on weekends, he spends money on things like getting his hair bleached and going tanning, so he can keep up his wrestling appearance.  But then he has a major health issue and the doctors tell him he needs to scale back and everything starts to fall apart.
This is a heart-wrenching story about a man who has a passion but his passion is killing him.  And how he realizes how much that passion means to him and has been holding him together, how much he needs it.  My husband and I were unprepared for what happened at the end, but again, as a writer, the ending was sort of inevitable!  ;)  Great story either way!  I highly recommend it!
(definitely NOT for kids, there is foul language and nudity.)



Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Be my BFF!!

If you "hop" on over to Blog Frog, you can become my Blog Frog Friend (BFF) and see other really fantastic blogs, speak/chat with other bloggers and jump into forums and discussions with other blog readers!  I have found some really awesome new blogs, so zip on over to Blog Frog and check it out!
I have a community there named, you guessed it, LaLa Land!  Sign up so you can see the latest, it's totally free and does nothing for me! lol

BlogFrog

I have been working hard the past few days to find free ways to get some more readers.  You'll see to the left places where I've joined to advertise more.  You can vote for me by clicking on those links. 

To the right you'll see 2 places that are associated with BlogFrog.  One shows the current discussion topics in my NEW LaLaLand community.  This community is where you can discuss my blog and connect with other readers of my blog!  I went with a Gilmore Girls theme!  All the discussions relate to what I already talk about here (books, movies, recipes and parenting) but with Gilmore Girls' related titles.  Cute, no?  :)  (ok, so maybe it is a "no" for you, but I like it! lol).  See a topic that interests you?  Click on the box to take you where you want to go! Hope to see you all there soon!! :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bacon and Egg Salad

    Another recipe from Nigella Kitchen (STILL don't like that title!!) that she says is comfort food.  I had to purchase garlic-flavored olive oil from the grocery store for this and it was about $7 I think (which made me cough and choke as I put it in the cart).  One of the steps for this recipe was to cut up bacon or lardons (French bacon I think?) and cook it in the garlic oil.  The smell was heavenly.  It smelled rich and smoky and like we had a restaurant in my house!  I also had to purchase escarole for this which was different for me as we usually get romaine as our regular lettuce or I like the spring greens, so I was curious to see what this would taste like. You hard-boil some eggs (she talks about not hard boiling them all the way so the yolks are soft and the whites are "silky", I think she says? And um, no.  So, I didn't do it that way! lol)  I did like cooking the bacon this way--usually I lay bacon on a paper towel-covered paper plate and microwave, one minute on high for each piece of bacon on the plate.  It gets it nice and crispy, no limp fatty edges here!  But this recipe called for cutting the raw bacon and putting it in chunks in the pan for cooking, which worked out fine too!

                              I then used the leftover drippings from cooking the bacon and added a few other ingredients (dijon mustard for one) and whisked them together.  First time making my own dressing too!  (stop saying "really??")  I followed the directions for putting the salad together and make some garlic toast for crunching on the side.  My hubby and I each had two servings and Gabe, at 4 y.o., ate a good-sized bowl himself but of course Ian wouldn't touch it.  It's salad.  He refuses to do salad. 

                            Now, I love a good salad for dinner some nights, for a change of pace so this was fine for me!  Jay didn't mind it but he's a meat and potatoes man, so I think he would've liked this as more a side salad.  The baby ate the bacon.  What are you gonna do? lol 


                              



                                              


Lara Taylor « YorkMama.com YorkMama.com

 Lara Taylor « YorkMama.com YorkMama.com My newest blog post, "A Snowy Winter's Day" about what to do when you're shut in with the kids!

I'm Published!!

  I almost forgot!! My FIRST blog post ever is up over on Today's Mama.  It is entitled "Parenting 101" and I found that I was very enjoyable and funny!  lol  I already have 91 page views and it was just put up on Thursday.  Very exciting to see that people are actually reading what I write---and with three kids, it is very challenging to get writing time, to say the least! 

Soooo, I congratulate myself! :)   

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Switcherooo!

I decided, after starting at BlogFrog and seeing a bunch of other blogs that mine was not where I wanted it to be--it still isn't, but I'm not HTML professional (I'm not even an amateur...I don't even know what HTML stands for!!) so I settled for designing some things on Adobe Illustrator, then RE-designed and I think I'm finally happy with the results!  At least until I can afford to pay someone to do it which won't be for a long while! lol
here are some tweaked badges and of course, my banner up above is different:





Sorry they're so huge, now I have to go back and re-size them! lol

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Logos!!

Alright, since I am making this all pretty and streamlined, I wanted it to look even more professional.  I like having the amazon link there with the pic because I am so visual, have any pics creates visual interest here and the convenience of a link built in, I just like having that available for the reader.  But now, in order to make it instantly visually recognizable, there will be a special logo for each blog entry and here they are.....
(drum rolls)






Comments welcome!! :)  I'm still debating on whether or not I want to add TV show reviews....

Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Potatoes

Here is my first attempt with a Nigella Lawson recipe from Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home (although I gotta say, the title doesn't roll off the tongue!).  This is a review of the recipe itself;  I will post a book review separately. 

                                     Here is my result:


I couldn't find chorizos, spanish sausage, at my local Giant so I had to go with Italian sweet sausage. Not sure how it would have affected the taste to use the right thing, but it was still great!! I used regular white potatoes (they were on sale) rather than small whole white potatoes.  Chicken thighs I have never used---I am a very routine-oriented person, so using thighs instead of boneless skinless chicken breasts was a real change up!  However, they were on special as well and a whole heck of a lot cheaper than the boneless skinless variety!  It was a meal cooked all in one pan, I love chicken and potatoes myself so that was good!  My boys (all 3 of them!) liked the sausage added as well.  I made a salad to go with, to help lighten the heaviness of the meal, but overall, a great meal on a cold winter's night.  The house smelled good and everybody ate, which is a real feat at my house nowadays!  Not too hard to complete at all, one pan in the oven makes clean-up easier.  The only real complaint I have is that it doesn't reheat well, (nor is it freezeable for those of us with fewer mouths;  this was 11-12 thighs!) but she does provide leftover recipes too!
4 out of 5 stars for this one guys. 






        

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hello 2011---Here I Come!!

Alright, I’ve decided I need to buckle down and get more consistent and streamlined, more of a theme or a brand if you will. I haven’t decided yet what I’m going to use to tie into “La La Land” but I know I want an icon for TV Show Reviews, Movie Reviews, Recipe Reviews, Video Game reviews, and Book Reviews. And Quotes of the Day. And Family Anecdotes/Parenting.

Which reminds me. I received an email the other day from http://www.todaysmama.com/ that said:

“Thanks for your writing application that you submitted Forever ago! We're now ready to hire in the York market and wanted to be sure you're still interested in the position. If so, we'd like you to write in the ‘Parenting’ category.”

It is pay-per-click, and not much at that, BUT that’s not the point!! Lol Erica, one of the editors, also said this:
“…we hope you will find the benefits of additional exposure for your blog, writing and background invaluable. Along the way TodaysMama will provide additional training, a community of writers for you to engage with and local media opportunities in which to participate.”

Yeah, you read that right! “Media Opportunities” she says! Ack! Kind of unnerving, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Right now, it means a real independent writer’s contract, payment, a weekly posting minimum (I can do more if I want!) and real experience to put on my resume, not to mention hopefully driving some more traffic to this here very blog! Hence the desire to clean up my act and do right by my blog! ;)

But how exciting is that?? A real staff position! This is gonna be so awesome! I’ve already made a list of potential article titles. Not 52, but a start. I’ll let you know on here every time I post but in the meantime, check out http://www.todaysmama.com/ which is also on Facebook here

I'll let you know when I've put up my first post!! :) Yippee!  What a great start to the New Year!

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