Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, a day for honoring the achievements and highlighting the struggles of women around the world, so it’s a perfect time for another installment the Women Who Rock series. This month we selected Mother Teresa of Calcutta because of the kindness and love she poured into the people she served.
Photo: Túrelio (via Wikimedia-Commons); CC-BY-SA
Name: Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), born Gonxha Agnes Bojaxhiu
Why She Rocks: Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic nun who founded the Missionaries of Charities in 1950 to serve those who suffered sickness and poverty in Calcutta, India. Eventually chapters of the order she founded were opened on every continent to continue her mission of loving and caring. Mother Teresa cared for orphans, the sick, the poor, and the dying as though they were her own and she loved those whom everyone else forgot. She also broke down barriers for those with Hansen’s disease (leprosy) and provided medical care and basic necessities. Mother Teresa rocks because she cared deeply for those who were forgotten by many on Earth but were loved by God.
Famous Quote: Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.
At my company, there is a girl named Heidi, who makes the most anticipated food item of our entire year – the sausage roll. Every year, we all await the glorious day in December when we receive an e-mail announcing that the sausage-filled pastry has arrived, then we run as fast as we can to the art table to get a slice of our very own. It’s an incredibly fun tradition, and my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
I decided that I wanted to start a tradition of my own – something that I could bake and bring in each year as a thank you to my amazing co-workers. Two years ago, I found a recipe combining two of our favorite things – cake and booze – and my first ever “I Pinned It, I Did It” began with these Guinness, Whiskey & Irish Cream Cupcakes from the Brown Eyed Baker.
This recipe is based on the drink with the not-so-PC name, the Irish Car Bomb. An Irish Car Bomb is a cocktail where whiskey is floated on top of Irish Cream in a shot glass, and the shot glass is then dropped into a pub glass of Guinness. For the cupcake, you start with a Guinness and chocolate cake, fill it with whiskey and chocolate ganache, and then top the whole boozy concoction with an Irish Cream buttercream.
This recipe is incredibly simple, but just requires a bit of extra time to put all the elements together. And the end result is amazing – the cake is moist and the overall booze content is not overpowering.
The three spirits you will need to have on hand are Guinness (and note that the only thing I could find in a six-pack was the Extra Stout – any type of Guinness works great in this recipe, so don’t worry if you don’t have the original), Baileys and the Irish whiskey of your choice (I prefer Jameson). Since Baileys and whiskey are good staple items to have in your bar anyway, this recipe becomes a winner yet again, because you don’t have to buy some obscure liquor that you may not ever use again.
I only have a few tips on this recipe.
If you don’t have a cookie cutter or piping tip to carve out the cupcakes, I find a small spoon works just fine. Same with the ganache. If you don’t feel like dealing with the mess that can come from piping it, just use a teaspoon to drop it into the cupcake divot.
For the ganache, she calls for cutting up chocolate, but I say why not use chocolate chips? It saves you the hassle of having to chop up a chocolate bar. Both times I have made these, I have used chips, and they work great.
For the icing, you can either use a knife to smoothly apply it, or you can pipe it. One of the greatest tricks I have learned to make filling the bag easier is to stand up the bag with the tip on the bottom of a glass. This keeps the bag standing, and makes it easier to spoon dollops of icing into it with a spatula. As a side-note, if you don’t have piping bags, a freezer bag with the corner cut off works brilliantly.
I prefer to use St. Patrick’s Day cupcake holders, or plain white cups for this, and I top them with simple green sugar that you can find in the baking aisle of most grocery stores.
The cupcakes were a huge hit when I took them in two years ago, and I already have co-workers claiming dibs on them this year. Have a happy and safe St. Patrick’s Day, and enjoy!
I have been extremely klutzy in the kitchen lately. Bryan hears me exclaim at least once a week “B! It happened again! Get Band-Aids!” Last week I made a doozy of a cut in my index finger, and made a mad dash for the medicine cabinet for a Band-Aid. What I found was a messy jumble of bottles and boxes (some empty and expired) and no Band-Aids. I am guessing I am not alone in this state of medicine cabinet disarray.
I decided to revamp my medicine cabinet, get rid of the emptied and expired meds, inventory what was left, and replenish what was missing. But what should a medicine cabinet have on a basic level?
Below is your very own list of must-have medicine cabinet items:
* Aspirin/Ibuprofen * Decongestant * Cough Medicine (Get both a suppressant and an expectorant.) * Digestive Medicine (i.e. Tums, Maalox, Prilosec) * Calamine Lotion or Antihistamine Cream * Box of Assorted Band-Aids * Medical Tape * Hydrogen Peroxide or Antibiotic Ointment * Thermometer * Magnifying Glass and Tweezers * Dental Painkiller (i.e. Anbesol or Orajel)
You can supplement the above items with things that are specific to you and your family. Have allergies? Add your favorite over-the-counter allergy med to the list. Have glasses? Get a glasses repair kit.
If you are like me and don’t have a traditional “medicine cabinet,” buy some of the small bins that they carry at Target, organize your boxes and bottles in them, and then put them in a cabinet or drawer.
Make sure you are reviewing your expire dates at least twice a year (make it part of your routine cleaning plan) and purging and replacing anything that is expired. If you find you run out of something, add it to your grocery list when you notice it. I have a running list that I keep in a drawer in the kitchen so that I can add things I run out of as I notice them.
Now all I need is a cooking class on knife skills.
Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved stories. She loved the stories about sheep, the one with dinosaurs, the one with monkeys and especially the one with a family of bears whose home is burglarized and vandalized by a sneaky, sleepy golden-haired girl. This smart little girl and her mom loved to read together, so they went to the library where they got lots and lots of fantastic books and they read happily ever after.
Reading with kids lays a foundation for a lifetime of learning. Story time is a great time to snuggle and bond and the stories can spark important conversations. My daughter Betty and I are excited to share some of our favorite books so you can enjoy them with the special kids in your life.
Little Blue Truck – This short story follows a kind and friendly Little Blue Truck who depends on his neighbors when he gets stuck in a bit of trouble. Reading this is a great way to start conversation about the importance of friendship and community.
All of Baby, Nose to Toes – A rhythmic rhyming story about loving every part of your sweet baby. Who loves this book? Me! I do!
Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep: A Yarn About Wool – As a knitter, I was thrilled when we received this book as a baby shower gift from Elizabeth’s godmother, Emily. When Farmer Brown shears his sheep, they feel too cold so they decide to take matters into their own hooves with very funny results. In the process, we learn how wool becomes yarn. I don’t think this book is in print anymore, but there are used copies online and it is available in some libraries.
Eating the Alphabet – Beautifully illustrated images of fruits and veggies adorn the pages of this basic ABC book. This one is great for practicing the alphabet and generating interest in trying new fruits and veggies. We sometimes use the colorful pages of this book for a game of I-Spy.
Caps for Sale – Elizabeth’s Auntie Christina loved this Reading Rainbow book as a girl. A fun tale of a peddler who runs into some mischievous monkeys, this story is a great one for acting out and doing voices. Children catch on quick and are delighted to help “read” the monkeys’ lines.
Dinosaur Roar – If you’re pregnant and we’re friends, SPOILER ALERT, you will get a copy of this book as a shower gift. This was Elizabeth’s first favorite. As a 3 month old she was spellbound by the pictures and the way I did the voices. As a one-year old she anticipated her favorite pages and now, at two and a half she’s “reading” the story to me. This one will be a favorite for years to come and when she outgrows it, I’ll tuck it away for my grandbabies.
Sheep in a Jeep – My cousin Austin gave this book to Elizabeth. He is a Jeeper, which means he loves climbing hills, crawling over rocks and slinging mud in his red jeep – just like the sheep in this fun rhyme. The story provides opportunities for parents and kids to talk about teamwork, cause and effect and helpfulness.
The Perfect Nest – Jack the cat has a master plan to get the perfect egg for the perfect omelette by building a perfect nest to attract a chicken. His plan works a little too well and hijinx ensue. There are great opportunities to do fun voices and accents when reading this story aloud and kids will enjoy the beautiful, bright illustrations.
What are some of your favorite children’s books? Do you have any from childhood that you saved for your own kids? Please tell us about the best books in your kids’ library so we can add them to our library wish list.
Earlier this year, I wrote a post giving props to my pops for all the traits I had learned from him that I am proud of. This month, it’s my mom’s turn to get some kudos for teaching me some very valuable life lessons.
My mom grew up in the same small town that my dad did in Southern Ohio. She was a cheerleader in high school (and even got to ride a float in their local parade!), and as a stay-at-home mom (which is a job I very much admire) she stayed very involved, often in leadership roles, throughout my schooling. She did everything from being President of the PTA to working in the school library at my elementary school. In her spare time, she was an avid bowler, and was always in a league no matter where we lived. So, to say she kept a pretty active schedule is an understatement, but in the center of anything she did, was me.
My dad is very logical and analytical, my mom is very empathetic and bubbly, so I feel really lucky that I benefited from absorbing both personality types.
Here are some of the lessons that I learned from my mom:
Be selfless. When I was in high school, my grandpa (my mom’s father), was diagnosed with lung cancer. My mom moved him from his home in Southern Ohio to our home in Chicago to ensure that he got the best medical care that he could. He lived in our guest room for months while going through treatment. During that time, she gave up her life, and dealt with a husband and daughter who were a little stressed by the whole situation of having him there, to make sure her dad was taken care of. That is the most extreme example I can give of her selfless nature, but because of it, I tend to think of others before myself, and to try to anticipate how my actions might affect someone or a situation. I know that this trait has made me a superstar in any customer service role I have ever had.
Celebrate! (and never forget to send a card!) My mom loves to celebrate any event she can. She never forgets a birthday, wedding, anniversary, or other life event in the life of anyone she knows. And she never forgets to send a card. I used to think that was kind of frivolous and a waste of paper to send a card for any life event, but now that I am getting older, I realize that she is making sure that everyone she knows feels special and remembered. And who doesn’t love going to the mailbox to find an actual hand-addressed envelope just for them?
I have to tell you a side-story to this that is only relevant because it involves the word “Celebration.” More specifically the song “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang. When I was growing up, they had a Wendy’s campaign for their chicken nuggets and they used that song in the commercial (in fact they rewrote the song so that it was about the nuggets). After dozens of plays, I grew to hate that song with a fiery passion. When Bryan and I first started dating, they realized that I hated that song, and would torture me by singing/playing it. So “Celebrate” is also a way that mom and husband bonded.
Stay young at heart. My mom and I have gone to Disney World and Disneyland so many times together, that I have lost count. In some ways, I joke that I “act old,” but most of my interests have stayed constant over my life. I love cartoons and pop music and bright colors. And I am not embarrassed by it. My mom always supported whatever interest I had, and never told me that “I was too old” for something. Because of that, I am comfortable with who I am and my interests. Also, I think that acting young keeps you young. I wish I was more like my mom in this regard. She still will sing loudly to a song while driving in the car, or break out in a little dance if we hear a song that she loves. I have never been quite that carefree, and am a little jealous.
Expand your horizons. When I was ten, my mom took me to my first ballet – The Nutcracker. After seeing my first real live show (I am not going to count Sesame Street LIVE!), I was hooked. In the years following we went to every musical and ballet we could get tickets to. When I was in middle school, she and my dad let me go to Spain with my Spanish class, where we visited The Prado and saw them make damascene jewelry in Toledo. I am not good at remembering a lot of my childhood, but anything related to art is still so vivid in my memory. She never mocked what we saw, or viewed art as frivolous or weird. I feel so lucky to have been able to experience everything that I have, and now tend to find myself staring in awe the guy who shows up to an art show with a glitter mask, mint green suit, and white bowler hat topped with a gold glitter alligator head. Life is too short to be boring.
I don’t want to paint an overly rosy picture where it seems like I had the perfect life and my relationship with my parents has always been flawless. That just isn’t true. We have our ups and downs, our disagreements and arguments, but in the end, I love them. They made me who I am both by making sure I was safe and taken care of, and also by exhibiting what I think are some pretty kick-ass personality traits.
Once again I challenge you, when you lament exhibiting a trait that is “just like something mom/dad would do” to find something to celebrate instead.
I love tv. And I love it even more when I can learn something through my favorite show. “30 Rock” had a Valentine’s Day episode entitled “Happy Anna Howard Shaw Day!” in which the lead character, Liz Lemon, bitterly scoffs at Valentine’s Day and instead chooses to honor the birthday of Anna Howard Shaw.
I had no idea who Anna Howard Shaw was before this episode, and after doing some Googling to learn more about her, I found that she was really an amazing woman. The Wilderness Girls have decided that in honor of her birthday, Anna Howard Shaw is the recipient of this month’s “Women Who Rock” feature.
Name: Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919)
Why She Rocks: She is the embodiment of a self-made woman. Her father abandoned her with her mother and five siblings, so at the age of twelve, she had to support her struggling family. Passionate about education and the church, she was inspired by Reverend Marianna Thompson to attend high school, and after becoming active in the Methodist Church, she was licensed to preach at the age of 24. In addition to ministering at two churches, she earned a medical degree from Boston University, but set aside her medical career to fight for women’s
suffrage and world peace.
Famous Quote: “Nothing bigger can come to a human being than to love a great cause more than life itself.”
We are going to continue to feature other “women who rock” each month, bringing focus to a woman who we admire, be it a historical figure or someone in our own lives. Do you have someone you would like to see featured on our site? Leave a note in the comments section below.
February is the month that two of my “moms” were born – my actual mom and my mother-in-law. My mom lives in Ohio, so we have to celebrate via a phone call and exchanging cards, but my mother-in-law Anne, lives nearby, so this past weekend we headed over to her house for dinner and cake. A cake I was tasked with making. So, I did what I always do – hopped on Pinterest and started searching for ideas.
Anne had no preference to the type of cake she wanted, so I turned to my first love, red velvet. Red velvet is to my rest of the year the way pumpkin is to my fall — I am obsessed. I didn’t have to go far in my search, as I pinned a Valentine’s red velvet cake about a year ago. I decided to step up and finally make it.
The recipe was easy to follow, and I give major kudos to Heather at Sprinkle Bakes for her detail in the instructions. My bigger fear was that the cakes would stick to the pan.
I tried to make a four-layer chocolate cake for my father-in-law last year, and it was a disaster. The cakes stuck, and I may have had a toddler-strength fit about it. I was bound and determined to master the “butter and flour” technique of greasing the pan this time. I took a stick of butter and very liberally rubbed it over the bottom and sides of each pan. I then looked up the best way to flour the pan, and it was very simple. I put about a tablespoon of flour on the bottom of each pan, and then shook and tapped the bottom of the pan until the flour was covering the entire surface. This technique was a huge success. The cakes came out perfectly when I put them on the cooling rack.
I only have a few tips for this recipe. First, if you are using gel “icing color” (I got it at Michael’s), you will need to use more than the 1 1/2 Tablespoons she recommends to get the color that you want. Also, the batter will look more pink than red, but when it bakes, it darkens, so don’t worry about getting the batter itself the shade of red you are going for. Finally, the icing recipe makes an ample amount to layer and cover your cake. I was very stingy with the icing between the layers, fearing that I would run out when I had to ice the outside, but I had plenty left, so I could have used a bit more inside.
The end result was gorgeous. The red was a nice bright shade, and it tasted great. My sister-in-law even commented that it was one of the best cakes she had ever tasted. There is nothing more satisfying than making something from scratch, and having everyone comment on how much they love your creation, and then go back for seconds (and thirds).
Most of all, I wanted it to be a success because I love my mother-in-law. I am really lucky in that regard. From the start of my relationship with Bryan, she has been kind, supportive and wonderful to me. My favorite times with her are when I get to hang out with her one-on-one and hear stories about her life. She grew up in the Midwest, went to the same college my dad did (majoring in art), and even moonlighted as a go-go dancer at one point. She’s a cool lady, and brilliant artist. We have several of her paintings hanging in our home, and we get lots of compliments on them. I also adore her for raising Bryan to be fantastic husband – artistic, sensitive, and not afraid to pitch in and help around the home.
Happy Birthday to Anne, and cheers to another successful Pinterest baking adventure!
I love bargains. It is so fun to find a great deal and know you got the best price possible. I credit this love, at least in part, to my Aunt Cathy who is the ultimate shopper. She finds amazing deals at pennies on the dollar. We love to play “Guess The Price”, which is our made-up game where one displays an item purchased at a discount and the other tries to guess the price. The better the bargain, the more we squeal and applaud. I’ve seen her pay as little as 2% of the original value. Whenever I find a great deal, I like to call her to get her bargain shopper seal of approval. If Aunt Cathy is impressed by a buy, I know I truly scored.
My favorite day for bargains is my birthday. Every year I go on a little scavenger hunt to find all the birthday freebies I can. It requires some advance planning and a little strategy but if you are willing to do a few things in advance you can score some sweet freebies for your birthday too.
* Step 1: Create a “junk” email account. I use my Yahoo mail for this because you can set up filters and the search feature works pretty well. * Step 2: Go to your favorite retailers’ websites and see if there’s an e-club, newsletter or mailing list you can join. Hit up sites like freebirthdaystuff.com to learn about more deals and sign up for your e-mail coupons before your birthday. * Step 3: Create filters in your email account so that all emails from retailers go into a sub-folder. This way you can check periodically to see what deals are out there but your inbox won’t be overrun with spam. * Step 4: A week before your birthday (but after the 1st of your birthday month) search your Retailers folder for your birthday offers. Often you’ll have to print out a coupon to redeem an offer. * Step 5: Strategize your plan of attack. Some offers have to be used on your birthday. Other offers don’t expire for a week or two. Once I have everything printed out, I like to sort by expiration date and value. Free product trumps free food. No strings attached deals beat buy-one-get-one coupons.
Here’s a little glimpse at the offers I received this year. I haven’t redeemed all of them yet and I will probably skip a few for the sake of healthy nutrition, but it’s nice to have options. And free breakfast.
My family is not a big sports family. We watched the Super Bowl because everybody watches the Super Bowl and we like the commercials, but it is the only time of the year football is on at our place. We don’t know what the Suns are up to – ever. I only know it isn’t baseball season because it’s too cold to play in the Midwest right now and they call baseball players the “boys of summer.” The only sport we get worked up over is Roller Derby. In fact, my one and only sports tee is supporting the Arizona Derby Dames Bombshells. Then, along come the Olympics and things change. From the torch lighting to the closing ceremonies we watch and love every minute. We enjoy the stories, the feats of strength, the drive of the athletes – it’s better than the movies and happening in (almost) real time.
A few Olympiad back, during the Beijing games we decided to order out Chinese and watch the opening ceremonies while enjoying our egg rolls and a fun tradition was born. For the London games, we dined on Jacob’s amazing bangers & mash and this year we will be enjoying a few Russian dishes to commemorate the games in Sochi.
When Jacob and I started researching Russian recipes we realized that there wasn’t much uncharted territory. My family is Hungarian – my great grandmother was born there – and like many immigrant families, the food is one of our last links to our past, and something we cherish. Pierogies, stuffed cabbages and hearty soups are standard fare for Hungarians, Poles, and Russians, so most of what the Internet had to offer felt kind of like old news. In the end, to our pleasant surprise, our favorite compilation of Russian recipes was from allrecipes.com, a site we use often for “everyday” recipes. Here’s our Olympic menu:
* Pirozhki – For an appetizer and general snacking we’re going with pirozhki, which looks like a perogi but this is more of a bun and appears to be hand-food instead of fork food.
* Borscht – Borscht is a hearty beet and vegetable soup which could easily be made hearty enough to be a stand-alone dish. We decided to do it as a soup course because, despite its quirky-sounding name none of us have ever tried it and we are offering smaller servings so we can try more recipes. * Chicken Kiev – I am so looking forward to this. Chicken Kiev is a thin cutlet of boneless chicken breast wrapped around a piece of savory, flavored butter and fried. Some of you may have seen an item in your grocer’s freezer called Chicken Kiev that comes individually packaged for baking at home. Beware the processed and formed chicken loaf. You are now fairly warned – I’ve fallen for it in the past and it is not proper food.
* Ukrainian Apple Cake – For desert I am going to try my hand at a particularly tasty-looking apple cake. I think this is going to be a big hit.
Whether your favorite winter sport is biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating, skiing or snowboarding, I hope you enjoy this year’s Olympic Games and maybe try something new, too. Go Team USA!
Last Thursday my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter had a little cough so I told the sitter to give me a call if she didn’t feel well. She did fine all day, but seemed a little feverish when I picked her up. Friday she stayed home with her Grandma, and I went to work as usual. I’ve never seen anything like what happened next. My healthy girl went from having a “little cough” on Thursday to being admitted to the hospital with IV’s and oxygen tubes in less than 48 hours. Pneumonia. For three days my husband and I watched her every breath as her heart rate spiked and her belly rose and fell, struggling against the fluid in her lungs. We watched her sweat and chill as she fought a fever, and we begged her to take sips of water and juice to fend off dehydration. She was so tiny in that great big hospital bed and I was the most afraid I have ever been.
You read books or hear stories about women whose babies were just fine and then they get meningitis or pneumonia and 12 hours later the child is dead. An acquaintance of mine posted to Facebook a few weeks ago that her best friend’s child was sick and they were in the hospital. A few days later the child was gone without warning. They told me my daughter was going to be OK. They said she wasn’t in danger and I needed to take care of myself. I’m not sure anyone understood that I was too afraid to hear them. I was too afraid to go to the doctor myself, though I had pneumonia also. I was too afraid to go home and sleep even when my husband was by her side. I was too afraid to think of what could happen when I was gone. I knew being there couldn’t stop it, but I knew I would be by her side if she needed me.
She’s fine now. She bounced back like a champ. I, however, spent a week in the bed with double pneumonia. I’m just starting to feel human again, though the doc says it’ll be about a month before I’m back to normal. At least my girl is feeling healthy again. We are incredibly grateful for the amazing care we received at the hospital. I know there is a special place in heaven for pediatric nurses. To our family and friends who checked on us, prayed for us, helped do our work while we were away, or visited the hospital to watch a little Star Wars with Elizabeth, Thank You. We love you and we appreciate you.