Crazed In the Kitchen: December 2012   

Saturday, December 15, 2012

How to Help Newtown, Even From Afar

I had some posts planned for the next few days--some lighthearted, Christmas-y stuff. I may still get them up by Christmas, but right now I just can't. The news from Connecticut has me reeling, and every time I sit down to write it's all I can think about.

But I also can't bring myself to write about what happened. I could never do justice to such a horrible event, and I probably couldn't even describe my feelings about it in a coherent manner. And, my feelings seem meaningless when I think about the parents who have to look at empty beds, empty car seats, empty seats at the dinner table. For me, there really are no words.

My response to horrific events in the past has always been to ask, "How can I help?" When the victims are far away, it can be hard to find ways to help directly. Usually, monetary donations are the easiest way. After 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake in Haiti, I helped organize fundraisers for the United Way, the American Red Cross, and UNICEF at my elementary school. We were able to raise hundreds of dollars, even though many of the school's students lived in poverty themselves.

So, in that vein, if you are able to donate money to help the victims' families and the community of Newtown, here are some ways to do it:
  • The United Way of Western Connecticut has created the "Sandy Hook School Support Fund" to provide support services to the families and community that have been affected. You can find more information here. (Interestingly, the American Red Cross website sends potential donors to the United Way Fund as well--they say they have what they need to support their current response efforts.)
  • The Newtown Family Connection is accepting donations on its website, and says all the funds it receives will go to victims' families. 
  • Newtown Youth and Family Services has also been collecting donations, but its website now recommends that potential donors go through the United Way fund mentioned above.
I plan on making a donation in my family's name, probably to the United Way, and I know that will help, even in some small way.

But I can't stop thinking about the teachers, staff, students, and families of Sandy Hook Elementary School. I don't know what good it will do, or if it will even end up in the hands of someone who will appreciate it, but I think I will send a condolence card--or maybe several--to the town. confirms that the USPS has established an address specifically for this reason, if you'd like to send one too:

Messages of Condolence for Newtown
PO Box 3700
Newtown, CT  06470

Again, I can't say for sure who will be receiving mail or who will be available to process the flood of cards they are sure to receive, but I can only hope that someone there will see at some point that my thoughts and prayers have been with the whole Newtown community.

It's only been one day, and I'm sure more opportunities to help will become available over time. I will update this post with any other links I find. If you know of a way to help out that I haven't mentioned, please feel free to let us know in the comments.

Meanwhile, I'll be driving my boys crazy with extra hugs and kisses. They are too young to know about any of this, so they may just think I've lost my mind. That's fine with me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sweet Sorrow, My Ass

(Last week I was eliminated from Blogger Idol in third place. Here's what I posted on their site as my "farewell speech.")

Parting is such sweet sorrow…

No it’s not. There’s nothing sweet about it. In fact, sometimes saying goodbye flat-out sucks. What I’m trying to say is this: I WAS MEANT TO BE THE 2012 BLOGGER IDOL AND I WILL NOT LEAVE QUIETLY!


Actually, I’m very proud of my third place finish in this contest. I competed with some top-notch writers, and I learned a bit about myself as a writer in the process. I’ve connected with some great blogs and made some real friends. I’ve…I’ve…

Well, I’ve stressed out quite a bit and ignored my family just a little. And now that Blogger Idol is over for me (sniff), I’m really not sure what to do with myself. I am finding myself with quite a bit more free time on my hands. So, I’ve compiled this list of things I’m going to do now that I don’t have to worry about Blogger Idol:


1.     Play more with my kids. Just not Chutes and Ladders. Please, God, anything but Chutes and Ladders.

2.     Read a book. ANY book. I’ve been afraid to commit to a whole book because of my Blogger Idol duties—I hate having to stop reading for a few days when something else comes up. So give me some ideas in the comments—what should I read next?

3.     Call my great-aunt Ruthie. It’s been far too long and I really need to check in and say hello. Plus also my grandma. But we’ll keep them together as one phone-call list item.

4.     Ugh. Clean my house. I don’t want to. I really don’t. But I guess I don’t have an excuse anymore.

5.     WAIT! YES I DO HAVE AN EXCUSE! I’M PREGNANT! So Number 5 on the list is call a cleaning service to come clean my house before our family arrives for Christmas!!

(See how I cheated a bit there? Not exactly 5 whole items, is it? Number 4 kind of gets negated by Number 5, doesn’t it? Oh no, the judges might lower my score because of that! HAHAHAHA no they won’t because I got eliminated. The judges can suck it.)

OK. So, I also came up with a list of things I’m NOT going to do any more because I don’t have to because I’m not in Blogger Idol any more.


1.     Think about unicorn sex ever again.

2.     Photobomb my friends and family on facebook with pictures of my kids in a cheap effort to get them to vote for me. You’re welcome.

3.     Math. I actually pulled out a calculator and tried to figure out where I needed to come in with votes if I had been ranked 1st, 2nd, or 3rd with the judges last week. It ended poorly for me, the calculator, and my poor math-major husband who tried to help me figure it all out.

4.     Write a brand spankin’ new blog post every single week. It’s just not my thing. My brain is tired and I think I broke my funny bone at some point during Blogger Idol (the proof is in that lame joke right there). I need a little break from blogging.

5.     Have a cheapo-looking blog. Thanks to Blogger Idol, I won a blog redesign from A. Kay Blog Design and we have a date to phone-chat tonight about it. Say goodbye to the free template I downloaded and sort-of installed myself, people! We are (going to be) a quality operation over here!

So, that’s what I’ll be up to now that I’m out. Of course, I was truly honored to even be a part of this competition and coming in third place feels like a dream come true. (Um, if by “a dream come true” you mean “a dream that doesn’t involve winning copious amounts of chocolate, a new tablet, or crushing my competition into the dust.”)


Thank you for the opportunity, Blogger Idol, and thanks, everyone, for your votes and kind words! It’s been a wild ride!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Merry Good Time At Knott's! #MerryFarm

Yay! Christmas!
December is here and it’s Christmas time at our house! Well, sort of. Our tree has been up for a week, but we haven’t gotten around to putting ornaments on it yet. Three out of four stockings are hung. (I’m not quite sure why my 2½ year old is so mad at his stocking, but every time he sees it hanging over the fireplace he yells “NO!” and pulls it down, throwing it on the floor.) I bought a wreath for the front door but it didn’t quite fit, so it’s hanging on the kitchen window.  

So, we are getting in the Christmas spirit—one step at a time. But even before the naked tree and the too-big wreath and the despicable stocking appeared, we had done one VERY Christmas-y thing: Visited Knott’s Berry Farm’s Christmas celebration, Knott’s Merry Farm.

Of course, with a 4½ year old and a 2½ year old around, nothing is easy. My husband spent a good deal of time in the kitchen the night before our trip packing a huge bag of snacks, lunches, wipes, extra diapers…pretty much everything we might need. And, of course, the kids woke up extra early the next morning and spent 3 hours asking if it was time to leave yet. And…it rained. But we were all excited to go, and being Midwesterners by birth my husband and I were not about to let a few raindrops spoil our day. So we packed up the stroller, the diaper bags, and the kids and hit the freeways.

"Winter Wonderland" stage at Camp Snoopy
We had been to Knott’s before for their Halloween Camp Spooky celebration, so we knew to hit the little kids’ area—Camp Snoopy—first, before the crowds got crazy. But here’s the thing about a little rain in Southern California—everyone freaks out and stays home. Which means, NO LINES at Camp Snoopy or, for that matter, most of the park! I played the pregnancy card and “let” my husband squeeze himself onto most of the rides with our littlest guy, who is too little to ride alone. The kids had a great time and loved the Christmas decorations.

After lunch, we ventured out of Camp Snoopy into the rest of the park. We were worried that there wouldn’t be a ton for our little guys to do out there, but we were wrong. After a few rides, we sat down to see “The Gift of the Magi” in the historic Knott’s Birdcage Theatre. I enjoyed it, and I think older kids would appreciate it, but it went a bit over my guys’ heads. And I must apologize to the actors now: Yes, that was William yelling, “Too much talking!” during an early scene. Thank goodness we were part of an audience filled with mommy bloggers and their kids, so we weren’t the only rowdy ones around.

"It's Christmas, Snoopy" Ice Show
Later, we got out of the rain and watched the “It’s Christmas, Snoopy” Ice Show in the Charles M. Schulz Theatre. The kids loved seeing the Peanuts gang on ice skates and in short animated clips between scenes. The music was great and the ice skating was pretty cool.

There’s a bunch of other cool stuff to do at Knott’s Merry Farm that we missed either because we left early (hey, bedtime’s at 7 pm around here and we don’t. mess. with. bedtime.) or because it got rained out. The Peanuts Holiday Parade was, sadly, cancelled due to rain, but seemed like it would be a ton of fun. There’s also the Calico Christmas Tree Lighting show with the Peanuts gang and a beautiful 45-foot-tall Christmas tree. And littler kids will enjoy the “Winter Wonderland” show at Camp Snoopy. My favorite ride at any amusement park has always been the log ride, so I was really bummed to miss out on Knott’s Elf Mountain. The magicians at Knott’s have transformed the Timber Mountain Log Ride into an up-close and personal view into the world of Santa’s Elves, but with me being pregnant and ALL of my boys (husband included) claiming an “allergy” to water that day, we had to skip it.

Calico Christmas Tree
If you live in Southern California or plan to be here over the holidays, I highly recommend checking out Knott’s Merry Farm—especially if you have littler kids. (Don’t worry—there’s plenty for bigger kids to do, too, including a few roller coasters that I am nowhere near brave enough to try out myself.) We had a great time and will definitely be making Knott’s Merry Farm a regular holiday tradition from now on!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How To Breed Unicorns

(This post was originally written as one of my assignments for the Blogger Idol competition. Just in case you thought I had gone completely off my rocker and was just writing about breeding unicorns for fun.)

It’s easy to breed your unicorn, if you know what to do. Just follow these four simple steps.

**DISCLAIMER: We take NO responsibility for the success or failure of your unicorn breeding efforts, or any injuries, dismemberment, or death you may sustain during said activities. Follow all suggested safety precautions throughout the breeding process. Wear protective gear and remember unicorn engagement protocol at ALL times.**

****Seriously, are you paying attention? Because once a unicorn gets all “mystical creature” on your ass, you are going to WISH you were wearing protective gear. They don’t use that horn for tickling, you know.****

********Ok, I’m not sure you get how serious I am. Stop what you’re doing and go check your health insurance coverage. Make sure you’ve got hospitalization. Do not even THINK of breeding your unicorn unless you have full coverage.********

****************While you’re at it, check your life insurance, too. Or buy some. Just DON’T MENTION your plans to breed your unicorn to the agent. Duh.****************

Ok, all set? You sure you still want to do this? Then let’s move on to…

You really can find ANYTHING online these days.
Like everything else with unicorns, this step is harder than it sounds. You’re probably thinking, “I’ll connect with other unicorn owners online and find a stallion who’s available. Then we’ll put the two unicorns together at just the right time, and voila! Enchanted baby-making time!”

Yeah, right. Only if you want to see a death match that will make Braveheart look like a kids’ movie.

Please. A unicorn cannot just be bred. She must be romanced.

Start with unicorn match-making sites like and U-Date. Your unicorn will likely reject most of the available suitors at first, as she considers herself to be a paragon of magical loveliness. Remind your unicorn that she’s not getting any younger and that she may want to lower her standards a bit.


It may take time, but eventually you and your unicorn will find an agreeable partner who is available for a night of mythical passion. Set a date, and now it’s time for…

Again, you can’t just expect your stallion to arrive and get straight down to business. Your unicorn wants to be treated like a lady. Prepare a romantic meal by candlelight so the unicorns may get to know each other. As you know, unicorns eat grass, root vegetables, and wishes. Don’t worry about presentation—they don’t give a leprechaun’s ass about it.

****NEVER use the term “I don’t give a leprechaun’s ass” around a unicorn. Remember the outcome of the bloody Gold War lo these many years ago? You don’t hear about the unicorn’s pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, do you? DO NOT TALK ABOUT LEPRECHAUNS AROUND YOUR UNICORN.****

While the unicorns eat, prepare the breeding room. You may have assumed that unicorns want to knock hooves in a lush field of green lit with rainbows. You’re wrong. We all know that unicorns poop rainbows—would YOU want to do the nasty in a bed of your own poop?

No. Once the mood strikes, the unicorns will only need a room prepared in just the right way.

The most important thing to do is to leave a few things around the room that the unicorns can use to…um…”get things moving” in the breeding department, if you know what I mean. A few expensive bottles of fermented dew go a long way in helping to break the ice between hesitant magical lovers. Of course, all unicorns appreciate a basket of toys like hoof cuffs to keep things interesting, as well. And, don’t forget the ultimate breeding aid: Uniporn. Despite popular beliefs, unicorns don’t go for vanilla elf-on-fairy fare. If you REALLY want your unicorns to breed successfully, find a dvd with well-groomed chupacabras and fire-breathing dragons. Enough said?

Don't. Just...don't.
****Your unicorn will ask you for flavored body paint—you SHOULD NOT give it to her! Unicorns are notoriously hypoglycemic and respond poorly to sugary treats. Remember: Cranky, dizzy, possibly-unconscious unicorns are not usually successful breeders. Can you blame them? ****

When your unicorns are ready, lead them to the breeding room. They will see how you have set the mood and will know what to do next. Shut the door and leave them to it.


Give your unicorns some time. You will know they are done when you see an enormous explosion of glitter. At this point, you may open the door again. Leave the stallion where you find him, sleeping soundly on the floor. Lead your unicorn out to a quiet place where she can tell you about her feelings.

According to “experts” online, a unicorn’s gestation period is 1,230 days. This is a long time to spend with a hormonal, pregnant unicorn. Also, baby unicorns are a real pain in a leprechaun’s ass. They chew everything and take YEARS to housebreak—you will be cleaning rainbows from every surface of your home for longer than you care to think about. My advice? Sell your pregnant unicorn to some poor, unsuspecting forest nymph and use the profits to get yourself a centaur. They are much more reasonable and pretty much take care of themselves. You’re welcome.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

This Is A Cry For Help

I need your help. ALL of you.

As you may know, I've spent the last couple of months writing my ass off for the Blogger Idol contest. It's been a wild ride: Many of the posts I wrote made me cry, a few made me laugh, and at least one made me cringe (unicorn sex, anyone?). Early on, I was devastated to be eliminated--only to be brought back with a "save" the next day. I've been pestering my family, friends, and readers for votes every week, and you all have been very patient with me. I appreciate that.

But this is it. There are three of us left, and this week's elimination will determine who makes it to the finale. As I heard Blanche say on "Golden Girls" once, I'm as nervous as a virgin at a rodeo. (By the way, how risque was that show? I think I was too young to fully appreciate it at the time....)

The thing is, I'm up against some heavy-hitters in the voting department. If I'm going to stay in it, this needs to be my biggest week for votes. This week I wrote about what I've learned from blogging and from Blogger Idol. I'd be so grateful if you'd check out my post and vote for me, Crazed in the Kitchen. You can click HERE to get to the voting page. And if you feel inclined to share that link with your own family, friends, and readers, here it is for you to copy and paste: Voting requires nothing but a click--no registration, no personal information required. You can vote once per IP address so feel free to go out and find yourself some extra IP addresses, if you know what I mean!

Thank you so much! I really appreciate all of your support!
Vote for Crazed in the Kitchen! Just one click--no registration.