Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Goody Simple Styles Spin Pin, and Other Fun Stuff

I haven't been writing much lately. Well, that's sort of an understatement. I haven't been writing at all lately. But I have been doing stuff, which is always good.

One of the things I've been doing is Influenster. If you aren't doing this yet, you should. Sure, it's another internet time-suck, to be certain - but it lands you free stuff. And actually, it's rather fun - you just have to have to enjoy writing, and answering questions. How it works: basically, you'll write reviews for products you love (or hate), in hopes that they'll send you more products you love (or hate), for free.

My first shipment of free goodies, called a Vox Box, came last month, and it was pack to the gills with goodies. Like this little doo-dad, from goody. Goodies from Goody! Golly Gee!

$7.29 at Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreen’s, Kroger

Now, in all fairness, neither Goody or Influenster could have possibly known I had recently cut 8" off my hair off, leaving less than a shoulder-length bob behind. For that reason, this product didn't stand much of a chance in my house. Not even Princess Crabigail, my 2 year-old, has enough hair to really use it.

But even so, I can tell you this - it's a nifty little product, and it does hold a bun up, if you have enough hair. I particularly liked the easy release. Just turn the thing counter-clockwise and it comes right out. No pulling, no yanking, no loss of hair. 

Should I decide to grow my hair long again, I'd definitely use these. Thank you Goody, for sending me this complimentary set! Hopefully I'll still have them in a year.

If you want to try Influenster too, leave me a note here with your email address. The first two posters will get invites (that's all I have left!). 

Coming Soon: I finally committed to Stainless Cookware! Yay! Let the learning begin!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Real Tips for a Healthy Home

After last night's soap-box entry, where I put the fanatics of the Natural Parenting Facebook page on blast, I figured I best back myself up with something that's actually useful. Now that I've laid claim to being a "real" parent, versus a "natural" parent, how about we start talking about some real ways to make some real changes, in our real lives? 

Most of these ideas were not my own, but I thought it might be nice to compile them into one list. Please, help me out here by adding your own suggestions - here in the comments section, or on my Facebook page. I want this to be a team effort. Less yelling at each other, more working together and all that. 

So here we go. 

10 Real Tips for Making your Real Home Real Heathy:

1. Replace your disposable paper products with linen versions. This is something I'm in the process of doing right now. In fact, I spent the first half of nap time today researching cloth napkins, like these, made from recycled cotton. 

2. Stop using plastic tuperware. Buy glass. Not only does glass last longer, you eliminate the risk of exposure to lots of nasty chemicals, including BPA. While many manufacturers of plastics are starting to go BPA-Free, they aren't all there yet. So why take the chance? 

3. Replace your plastic utensils with wood. Again, reduce your risk of chemical exposure by going with a natural material, instead of something man-made.

#2 & #3 are courtesy of the Eco-Friendly Family; a fabulous blog that my sister-in-law introduced me to. 

4. Use, all-natural, unbleached coffee filters. They are better for the environment, and better for your health. We did this a few months ago and noticed absolutely no difference in taste. These actually advertise a better tasting brew than the traditional white filters. 

5. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle. 

6. Throw away your Swiffer. Use a classic mop, or an eco-friendly version like this, and make your own cleaning solution. Try this very basic recipe, courtesy of The Daycare Lady

1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon liquid dish soap
1/4 cup washing soda
2 gallons tap water, very warm

7. If you absolutely cannot break-up with your Swiffer, make your own covers, like these from Heather at Dollar Store Crafts. 

8. Make your own laundry detergent, like this version from blogger Why Not Sew

10. Stop using plastic grocery bags. Invest in reusable bags to take with you. Some stores even give you a credit of up to .5 for each bag you bring (each time).

And don't just stop at the grocery bags! I recently purchased these mesh bags, and I love them. Stop putting your (very expensive!) organic food into plastic bags. These are washable, breathable and a much healthier alternative!

For an organic cotton mesh version, check these out. 

Replace plastic sandwich bags with these adorable reusables from Kohl's.

11. Add your suggestions!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Why I Am No Longer a Natural Parent

A few weeks ago I was delighted to sit and have a nice conversation with one of my sisters-in-law, about what it means to be a parent these days. How some ideologies on the subject seem to come and go, in and out of style, much like everything else in the world. How hard it is to live up to ridiculous standards, and how we always seem to be each other's worst critics. (Moms in general, not her and I. I'm her biggest cheerleader, and I like to think she has my back.)

We agreed that we find ourselves parenting now, in a much "crunchier" environment than our parents raised us in. Back then (waaaay back in the 70's) it was much more "in style" to do things like formula feed your newborn. And man - when those disposable diapers hit the market it was a considered a god-send! 

Of course, everything being full-circle in life, we find ourselves now at a point in time where formula feeding is likened to child abuse (much like fast food?), and using disposable diapers lands you in the ecology hall of shame, right alongside people who drive gas guzzling SUVs, and fly in private jets. Carbon footprint is the buzz word, and on the parenting side of this movement we hear phrases like "Natural Parenting" and "Eco-Friendly Families". Buzz words that have taken on a life of their own. 

Right around the time I was making the transition from this being "just another Mommy blog", to a more green-focused version, I started liking a bunch of social media sites related to this idea of Natural Parenting. One fan site, on Facebook, is most aptly name "Natural Parenting". It's a sister site to The Stir, or Cafe Mom. And it is the very site responsible for my now immense resentment of the term "Natural Parenting". Yes, that's right - immense resentment

What I learned in the very few short months I was a fan of this Facebook page is that no matter what, you will never win. You will never be the best Natural Parent you can be. Ever. You will never live up to this pie-in-the-sky standard that was created somewhere in the 4th dimension, otherwise known as "cyber-space". You know that place I speak of; where every parent is the best parent ever, and if you don't agree with everything those best parents do, well then, you're not worthy of even sharing their eco-friendly green space on this planet. 

In order to gain access to this elite group of parents, you best be willing to go all out. We're talking cloth diapering with only the finest bamboo products, breastfeeding until at least junior high, co-sleeping until high school. Don't even THINK about vaccinating, use only organic foods, organic clothing, earth-friendly cleaning products, and hybrid cars (at the very least!). And, ultimately sell your soul to the idea that ANYTHING LESS THAN THIS IS JUST BAD PARENTING. And yes, it must be said in all caps. That's what we DO on social media, when we really feel passionately about something! We YELL-TYPE.

The thing is, my snark... it's not much of an exaggeration at all. Don't believe me? Let's just look at a few of the gems I've recently picked up. 

How about this status from our friends at NP: 

"I'm a Natural Mom because __________ " (fill in the blank!)

Followed with responses like:

"Make my own baby food and use cloth diapers. Plus we have been researching vaccines and only have been allowing one a month starting at 6 mths and only the ones we approve."

(Did I mention that good parents also receive PhDs in internal medicine? At the very least!) 

"I gave birth naturally, I breastfeed which is natural, I allow my children to wean naturally, and I kept their peepees all natural"

(Honestly, I'm not even sure what that last part refers to, but I'm guessing this is will now become a circumcision debate as well.)

Or how about: 

"I had a homebirth with a naturopathic doctor and I don't use shampoo anymore."

(See that!? No Shampoo! That, people, is called dedication.)

And my personal favorite: 

"My baby only gets the best vitamins, pharmaceutical grade manufacturing facility vitamins and uses the only self preserving technology skin care line for her bath time."

(Part of me hope she's being sarcastic, although sadly I do not think she is.)

That's just one topic, posted earlier today. If you browse the page long enough, you'll find so many other gems, in arguments about vaccines, cloth diapering, even politics. Remember how Big Bird made the news a few weeks ago? Well, according to the Natural Parenting fans, it's a good thing Romney wants to do away with Big Bird and his brain-eating companions on Sesame Street - after all, you should be READING to your kids every minute of every day, not plopping them down in front of a television set! DUH!

One commenter even suggested taking those poor kids of yours to the library, instead of watching so much Big Bird. Too bad she missed the memo that the library is also a publicly funded entity, just as PBS is (and NPR, and Planned Parenthood, and WiC…). But I digress. I think you get the point. 

The level of one-upping, back-patting, arguing, and name-calling on these sites has just completely turned me off to the idea of commiserating with like-minded people about being the best parent I can be, within my means. It's not a lifestyle, as I sadly realized - it's a competition. And not one I want to be a part of. 

So, The Stir, or Cafe Mom, or Natural Parenting… you can keep your fanatic fans and daily pissing competitions. I'll be over here, enjoying the Calm in the Chaos. Living life in a world where Big Bird is a fun distraction on a rainy day, disposable diapers saved my (baby's) butt in more than one scenario, and where decisions like whether or not to vaccinate are still personal, private choices

Since I no longer qualify as a "Natural Parent", I'll gladly just remain a *REAL parent.

Oh, and just as a fun little after thought - for all the "natural parent" fans out there who claim to use nothing but organic foods, never serve their families any processed junk, and are solidly against corporate America and the government… you might be tickled to find out who actually owns your beloved "Natural Parenting" site. 

From Wiki:

CMI Marketing Inc. primarily makes money via advertising revenue; their clients include leading mom companies like General Mills, Kmart, P&G, Nestle, Coca Cola, Kellogs, Johnson & Johnson, Target, Unilever, Dell, Chase, Samsung and dozens of others. They also have investors, as noted in the online newspaper MediaPost Publications; in 2007 the companies Highland Capital Partners and Draper Fisher Jurvetson invested some $5 million in the company.[17]
Since the end of 2008, CMI Marketing has been growing. CafeMom reaches 8.1 million unique visitors (ComScore, July 2011) and more than 20 million unique visitors to the CafeMom Plus Network.[18] CafeMom Plus is a network of mom-oriented websites who are in partnership with CafeMom, including: Birthday Partnership Ideas; Coupon Cabin;; and

*As a disclaimer, I am still striving, every day, to find the Calm in the Chaos. I've not given up that fight. I've only given up on a few particular sites relating to the issues I find important, because they waste my energy.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hey Moms, Spit for Research. Please.

Just as soon as I saw myself diving head first back into this blog with nothing short of a renewed fervor, Princess Crabigail fell ill. Ill enough to warrant a few days on the pediatrics floor at our local hospital. Which, of course, made me stop thinking about all else except leaving the hospital.

It's always a sobering, eye-opening experience, spending time with the children and families you meet in the hospital. This was our second stay in her short two-and-a-half years of life, and we were in for pretty run-of-the-mill kid illnesses; this time it was croup. The first time was for a stomach virus.

It's watching the kids dealing with cancer, severe allergies, birth defects, and all other debilitating illnesses that really make me really stop and realize how lucky we are. How incredibly vulnerable we are. How there really is no rhyme or reason why, either. It can happen to anyone, at any time.

But there are things we can do to product ourselves, each other, and our children. Those are the things I'm starting to dig into with this very blog. And as timing would have it, just before Crabigail got sick, I happened by chance upon a survey for a genetics study on Spina Bifida.

Taking on-line surveys is one of the ways I pass time when my husband is traveling for work, or when Crabigail's going through a sleeping spell, or when I just need something to do. One day a few weeks ago, I chanced upon a this survey about birth defects, and I signed up to receive a test kit to collect some saliva to be tested for the study. The basic criteria I met was: 1. I'm not currently pregnant, 2. I've had at least one "issue free" birth, and 3. I was willing to spit in a tube.

To see if you qualify for this very important research, please visit SBG Genetics to learn more about the survey, or click Enroll at the top of the page. It's a very small thing you can do that could make a big difference.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Challenge: Clean this Recipe!

I must admit that I've been waiting for the temperatures to dip a bit, just to have an excuse to make this recipe. It's my absolute favorite fall/winter stick-to-your-bones recipe. It's reminiscent of a dish my mom used to make, although I'm quite certain she didn't use canned rolls or cream-of-anything soup.

Now, if you don't mind the occasional cream-of soup, or using canned rolls, then I urge you to try this recipe as is. We made it tonight and I'm still thinking about it.

However, in light of my recent pledge to eat healthier and cleaner, I want to try to make this recipe better. I'm pretty sure that with a little digging I could find a recipe for home-made dumplings, but if you have one you'd like to share, please do!

My real challenge lies in replacing the cream of chicken & mushroom soup. Tonight I used just that; an actual combination of both soups in one can. That just screams healthy, no? (wink,wink)

Still, it was delicious, and I fear it may be hard to replace the soup and still achieve the same level of deliciousness. Which is why I'm turning it over to you, the reader. Come up with a suitable replacement, and I'll try it out and report back. Let's see if we can clean this one up.

Crock-Pot Chicken & Dumplings



  • 2 organic boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 can condensed cream of chicken (or cream of mushroom) soup
  • 1 cup low-sodium organic chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 small-medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 bag of baby carrots (or approximately 1 cup of chopped carrot)
  • 1 can of organic sweet peas (or a bag of frozen peas)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, sliced (or 1-2 tsp of garlic powder)
  • Salt, pepper & paprika to taste
  • 1 tube of Pillsbury Reduced Fat Crescent Rolls


  • Cut chicken into bite site pieces; season with salt, pepper & paprika to taste.
  • Combine soup, chicken broth, and water in crock pot, stirring well to mix.
  • Add chicken, onion, carrots, peas, and garlic.
  • Cook 4-5 hours on high (or 7-8 hours on low)  *Note that mixture will still be soupy at this point.
  • Tear crescent rolls into pieces, ball the dough and add to crock pot.
  • Cook for an additional 30-45 minutes on high.
  • Enjoy!

Monday, September 17, 2012

What IS this Blog, Anyway?

What IS this blog anyway? That, my friends, is the question I've been asking myself a lot lately. When I first started the blog, I thought I would post about the fun things my daughter and I do together around town. That worked, for like a week. Then I realized that I'm actually quite boring, and outside of our usual classes and activities, we don't actually do a whole lot of "around town" kind of stuff. Just one more area I've been fooling myself guys. I mean that whole "Where Bear" thing? Yeah... it lasted two weeks, and then I gave Princess Crabigail her pacifier back. I lost, and I'm over it.

After that megaflop, the blog took a "let's cook!" turn, in a very amateurish, "I'm going to use your recipe, but change three things because I'm so smart" kind of way. Which is fun, don't get me wrong, and tasty at that. It just hasn't been enough. Enough to bring me back to writing every week, which is my first goal for this blog. Enough to satisfy that need to do something productive, my second goal.  And not enough to hold anyone captive, even for a second, while they try to get over their laughter that I thought I could replace a pacifier with an adventurous stuffed animal.

Then something interesting happened last week. I got into this sort-of half argument, half discussion here on my Facebook page. I found myself engaged in what was being said, not just for the sake of the debate (which I love), but because this truly is something I'm interested in. "This" being the concept and practice of "natural" eating, paired with some "going-green" kind of household and lifestyle stuff. Not necessarily in the same way as some of the other blogs on these topics though, like 100 Days of Real Food or The Food Babe (both favorites of mine). No, not like them in the sense that I don't necessary want to dive that deep. What I want to do is figure out a real (to me) balance between going completely natural in all aspects of my life, and, well, keeping my sanity. 

Where is the balance between making sure my kid doesn't ingest enough preservatives to pickle her, and still being able to enjoy my coveted Pumpkin Spice Latte? (See guys, I'm truly not a Starbucks-hater, I swear!) I just want to find ways to stay as healthy as possible, for as cheap as possible, all while keeping off the baby weight that took me two years to lose, and making sure my daughter is getting the best life that I can reasonably give her.

Those are realistic ideals, right?

Up until this point in the blog, my favorite posts haven been the ones like this, where I found a really good substitute for taco seasoning packets, with a DIY mix. It seems like every other Pinterest recipe these days calls for either seasoning packs or canned cream of (insert variety here) soup, so why not try to make it at least a little healthier?

And that is where I landed today, and what I think the focus of my blog needs to be. More stories of our attempts at this natural living stuff, and less complaining that I don't have a fancy camera to take pictures of my mediocre looking recipes. We'll see how this goes.

Monday, July 30, 2012

DIY Taco Seasoning

So many of my favorite dishes call for taco seasoning packets. To avoid the msg or other preservatives, I've been mixing my own. I use this very basic recipe from All Recipes.

Taco Seasoning



  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper


  1. In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients. Store in an airtight container.

WFD: No-Run, Sort-Of Skinny, Chicken Enchiladas

Today during nap-time, I went trolling for "skinny enchilada" recipes. There are tons of them out there, and they are all basically the same, give or take a few ingredients. I kept seeing common complaints though; too cheesy, too soupy, runs faster than this guy. Since all of these issues appeared to me to be an easy fix, I decided to try my own hand at it.

It came out really well, but I warn you that this is not an exact science type of recipe. There was a lot of eye-balling going on as I figured out what my desired chicken-to-sauce ratio should be. It will greatly depend on how much chicken you use, and how finely you shred it.

I usually cook in small portions - enough to feed my husband while my daughter and I typically split a portion. Since we're not crazy about left-overs here (because that would be too easy), I'm usually always working with 2 small breasts. And there's a sentence that brings laughter to my twelve year old self. Enjoy! (The recipe.)

And no, I still don't have a fancy camera to aid in my horrid picture taking. You'll have to click on my ads about 27 billion more times to make that a reality, and until then you're getting free clip art. You have my thanks in advance.

No-Run, *Sort-of Skinny, Chicken Enchiladas



  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1-2 tblspn diced green chilies, undrained
  • 1/4 cup cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2-1 tblspn chicken stock (broth)
  • 1-2 tblspn sour cream
  • 1/4 cup Mexican Blend cheese (or your weapon of choice in cheeses)
  • 1-2 tsp taco seasoning (recipe below)
  • 4-6 low carb tortilla shells (I use whole wheat Mission shells)
  • Red Enchilada Sauce to taste, extra cheese for topping


  1. Season chicken with a pinch or two of taco seasoning.
  2. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side, or until reaching internal temp of 165.
  3. Let chicken cool chicken 5-10 minutes.
  4. While the chicken is cooking/cooling; mix soup, chicken stock, sour cream, onion, bell pepper, diced green chilies, cheese, and a pinch or two more of taco seasoning.
  5. Once chicken is cooled, shred and add to the filling mixture.
  6. Make sure the chicken is well coated, and if not add more soup, stock, and/or sour cream to get desired texture.
  7. Spoon mixture off-center into tortillas, roll and place into lightly oiled or greased cooking dish, seam side down. 
  8. Cook covered for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
  9. Remove cover, add shredded cheese & enchilada sauce to taste and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
*The husband has recently joined me in my calorie counting obsession quest, and so we did our best to tally up this recipe. We came to a guestimate of about 340 calories a serving (1 enchilada). Too bad we ate two, with brown rice. Oh well, we'll control ourselves better next time.
Now, one of the ways we've been able to cut out some processed foods in our house is by mixing our own seasonings. I use this very basic recipe from All Recipes with only one addition: a half tsp of cayenne pepper. Because, well, it wouldn't be a chaotic recipe if I didn't. I usually make this in double quantity and it will last about a month.

Taco Seasoning



  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper


  1. In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, June 25, 2012

WFD: Spicy Pepper Steak

As we dive into summer here at the Chaos home, the days are certainly getting longer... but somehow shorter as well. Time escapes me more often than I'd like.

We're on break from our beloved Music Class, but we're already excited to start again in July. If this is something you've thought about, and are in my local area, there are free demo classes going on this week!

Wed June 27th 10:00 a.m.
Thurs June 28th 9:30 a.m.

If you're interested in joining a demo class, click here to reserve a spot and RSVP.

We welcomed a new member into our extended family this month! We're so excited about our new niece/cousin, a sweet baby girl born on the 15th. She's absolutely beautiful, and will make a great addition to our already fabulous family!

And, last but definitely not least, we've started the official countdown-to-vacation! We'll be spending a week with family at a beach in Northern Michigan, in just under two weeks! Which raises the question, why does it take longer to prepare for a vacation than the vacation itself actually lasts? Hmm...

Busy, busy, busy. That's the word around the Chaos home right now. To compensate, I made one of my very-very-quick meals tonight. Be warned this is a recipe that calls for one totally processed food item: Velveeta cheese. Love it or hate it, it works fabulously in this stir-fried steak recipe. So delish, but so, so easy! To off-set the fake cheese, I serve it over brown rice. I think that wins me back some points.

Spicy Pepper Steak



  • 1 lb top round or flank steak, cut into strips
  • 1 red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 green pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 small-med onion, sliced  
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes*
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper*
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp parsley flakes
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 4 oz velveeta, cut into into 1/2" cubes


  1. Season steak w/ garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper & red pepper flakes to taste. 
  2. Cook in a large skillet sprayed with cooking spray (I use organic canola oil) on med-high heat. Cook 8-10 minutes or until no longer pink, stirring frequently.
  3. Drain any excess fat/oil and add vegetables, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, parsley and garlic powder.
  4. Cook 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add velveeta and cook on low, covered for an addition 5-10 minutes. Stir Frequently.
  6. Serve over (brown) rice.
*Omitting the cayenne pepper & red pepper flake will take this from holy spicy! to normal.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Word About Cooking and WFD: Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

Cooking. Ah, we have a love/hate relationship, you and I. You've both scorned me and burned me (quite literally). You've captivated me though, and as a girl who used to joke about ordering a mean take-out, this is quite the feat.

I've come along way in the last few years, and I can only hope I'm getting better. I really enjoy it now, the art of putting together the perfect meal. Hopefully soon I'll learn to photograph it as well, so that you don't have to suffer my horrendous cell phone pics.

What can you expect from me though, in terms of recipes here at citc? Well, you're going to get a mixed bag. I try, quite hard, to provide my family a well-balanced, mostly organic diet. I'm a big fan of the 100 Days of Real Food blog, and I try to stay away from processed foods and evil things like HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) as much as possible. I subscribe to Door to Door Organics, as I've mentioned here before, and I buy organic milk and eggs, chicken and beef.

But, we're not 100% there yet with everything, and I still rely on some "convenience" items. I still try to make sure they have a decent ingredient list, and you'd be surprised how many big label brands provide pretty some simple stuff lately. One of the things I've used recently, in my chicken pizza recipe, is Prego Veggie Smart Pizza Sauce. It's simple; tomatoes, vegetable purees, and spices. But it comes in a jar, and lately that has a stigma. It also has a bit of a higher sodium content. But you don't need a lot to go a long way, and it is packed with some good veggies.

I'll always do my best to disclose any really questionable ingredients that come up along the way. <evil laugh>

And without further ado, a great recipe a friend of mine found via everyone's favorite site to both love and hate, Pinterest. It's from the blog - The Girl Who Ate Everything. This is modified a bit from her recipe, but not by much. Photo also by gwae.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Caesar Sandwiches


  •  2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2-1 cup water
  • 1/2-1 cup Caesar Dressing (we used Brianna's)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Lettuce
  • Hamburger buns, slider buns, or tortillas to serve on


  1. Season chicken breasts w/ black pepper. 
  2. Place in crock-pot and cover with water (about 1/2-1 cup).
  3. Cook on low heat 4-6 hours, then remove chicken with slotted spoon and drain/clean crock-pot.
  4. Shred chicken, removing any fat.
  5. Mix chicken, Caesar Dressing, Parmesan Cheese, pepper and parsley.
  6. Return to crock-pot for half an hour on low, or simmer over low heat on the stove for 20-30 mins.
  7. Adorn with lettuce and serve on buns, tortillas or even over salad.
Delicious! This is honestly the best new recipe I've tried in months.  

Monday, June 4, 2012

Making Music Together

For those of you wondering, here's the quick update on the missing Where Bear... after a brief stay at Grandma's house, he was completely wiped out - she must have taken him shoe shopping! He has been resting comfortably in Abbey's bed, and hopes to be back up to his adventures soon.

While Bear rests, we've been up to our "usual" adventures, which includes our weekly music class at the Grosse Pointe Music Academy. Local readers, if you haven't checked these guys out for lessons, you really must. It's a great school, with wonderful instructors.

We love our music class dearly, it's something Abbey and I have been doing together for over a year now. The program we are in is called Music Together, and it's a class designed for kids birth-5 years, along with their parents or care-givers. This is their mission-statement:

"To provide the highest quality music and movement experiences to as many young children as possible and to involve their parents and other adult caregivers, including early childhood professionals."


Watching Abbey develop in this class has been amazing. When we started, she couldn't even talk, let alone sing. Now not only does she know entire songs by heart, she actually remembers songs and their movements from classes we took at the very beginning! It really does amaze me, and it warms my heart to watch her participating every week. It's been such a bonding thing for us, and something I definitely recommend for parents of infants and young children. There are classes available nationwide, and you can see if they are in your area, by visiting the class locator, here.

Just bear in mind that the singing and dancing you do in this class will, inevitably, wind up on your top ten list of things you'd never thought you'd do. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

WFD: Baked Pizza Chicken

A twist on chicken parmesan, this is a favorite comfort food recipe of mine.


  • 2-3 boneless chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • 2 tabelspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup Prego veggie smart pizza sauce
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 tsp oregano 
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp parsley
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
    • optional (remember, we like it spicy)


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix bread crumbs w/ seasoning mixture.
  3. Spray chicken breasts with olive oil mister (or coat with 1/2 tblspn and use brush to spread).
  4. Season chicken breasts as desired (I used oregano and garlic powder).
  5. Dip chicken breasts into breadcrumbs until coated.
  6. Fry chicken on the stove with olive oil (use mister to coat or 1 tblspn) 2-3 minutes each side.
  7. Put chicken breasts into baking pan and top with shredded mozzarella.
  8. Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  9. Remove from oven and top with Prego pizza sauce and a dash of oregano.
  10. Return to oven and bake for 45 minutes or until juices run clear / chicken reaches internal temp of 165.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Attention Photogs, Momtogs, and Collectors of All Things Old: A Contest!

Time to dust off those old photos! Want to win an iPad 3 or one of 15 fantastic scanning packages? "Like" FotoBridge on Facebook, and then upload your picture to enter their Foto Flashback contest.

The funnier and more unusual the picture, the better! Entries will be accepted until June 22nd. So upload those old pics, then ask your friends and family to vote for your photo. All individuals who enter will receive a 15% off coupon toward FotoBridge services.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Downside of Trying to Concieve: A Top Ten List

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive or maintain a pregnancy within a certain period of time. For couples under the age of 35, infertility is diagnosed when they fail to conceive after 1 year of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse. In addition, couples who are able to conceive but experience repeat miscarriages may also be considered having infertility. If she is over 35 years old, it is diagnosed after 6 months of unprotected, well-timed intercourse.*

According to this definition, I've now been faced with infertility issues twice in my life. It took me and my husband a little over a year to conceive Abbey. Now we find ourselves trying for number 2, and facing similar circumstances.

I'm usually very private about this issue; I don't like to put our "private" matters out there, ya know. (I could make a joke about being a good Catholic girl, but I won't.) However, over the past few years I've been quite blessed with a very unique support group, and they've given me the voice to talk about it, and the courage to find the humor in my situation. In my humblest of opinions, humor is the best ally a girl can having when facing issues trying to conceive. I just wish I had realized that sooner! And so with that, I present to you The Downside of Trying to Conceive: A Top Ten List.

10. Listening to helpful advice about "not trying" or "just relaxing".  (As if I could ever really relax.)

9. Practically speaking in code. AF, BBT, 2WW, EWCM... you know what all of these things mean. And honestly, you wish you didn't.

8. Pregnancy symptoms mirror PMS symptoms, and your brain has the power to create symptoms all on it's own. This is truly an evil side-effect of ttc.

7. Peeing on sticks. And peeing on sticks. And peeing on sticks.

6. Charting. And Temping. And that damn thermometer beeping at you every morning.

5. Stalking the calendar. (Is it time to pee on a stick yet!?)

4. Hearing, and politely digesting with a smile on your face, such wisdom as "god's timing is perfect!" or "everything happens for a  reason!"

3. EVERYONE around you is suddenly pregnant. Even the neighbor's daughter's friend who swore she was done after number 5.

2. Sex suddenly becomes more regimented than your job.

1. Realizing you just peed on your last stick. At Midnight. And it's negative, again.

And as a bonus:

A chicken and the egg scenario... Sore boobs. If they're sore, I must be pregnant! Right? Or are they  sore because I keep pushing on them to see if they're sore? Discuss. Or, rather, let's not.

*From the Center for Human Reproduction; New York.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day and Beyond

Memorial Day weekend was... a lot of things. My emotions got the best of me at our local parade, watching Abbey as she waved at soldiers who fought in wars she'll only read about in History class. Soldiers who fought in wars I've only read about in History class.

My own Grandfather served in Asia during WWII. My husband's Grandfather served as well, and it's just so incredibly humbling to think that without them, we may not even be here today, let alone living in a a time and place where our greatest worries include a failing Facebook ipo.

Very humbling indeed.

So we gave thanks this weekend, and honored those men and women who served yesterday, today and will serve tomorrow too. Long after the hot dogs have been consumed and the beer keg emptied, they will continue to make sure we live life among the free.

Now we look ahead to the next big summer event. No, not Independence Day -  but that's a good one too. No, here at the Chaos home, we're already gearing up for the 2012 Summer Olympics! For me that means following swimming, gymnastics and sailing. For the hubby, it means just 4 more years until GOLF becomes an official Olympic sport (again).

What is YOUR favorite Olympic sport?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

WFD: Garbage Steak

Every Wednesday we receive a box of yummy, organic goodies from a great company called Door to Door Organics here in Michigan. (They also serve several other states.) Door to Door takes all of the guesswork out of eating healthy for our family.

Each week I get a box full of all-natural, fresh fruits and vegetables delivered right to my door. All for less than what I'd pay at the supermarket finding barely fresh, picked-over items! This week we even got a coloring page for Abbey to showcase her talents on. It's always a treat finding out what's in store for us from Door to Door!

By the following Tuesday, it's always fun to see what I can throw together using what's left of that week's veggies. Here's what I came up with this week, using potatoes, onion and a cheap cut of steak I had frozen.


Garbage Steak



  • 3-4 medium potatoes, halved and cut into slices 
    • we used a mix of yukon gold and red potatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pound beef sirloin steak, cut into strips
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin 
  • 2 tablespoons Safflower oil, divided
    • extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil would work as well
  • Steak Sauce for dipping


  1. Place sliced potatoes in skillet with enough water to cover (about 1/2 cup) and add salt.
  2. Cook covered on high for about ten minutes.
  3. Drain water and add 1 tblspn of oil, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
  4. Stir-fry over medium heat for 5-10 minutes or until potatoes are lightly browned.
  5. Season beef with pepper and garlic powder. 
  6. In a large skillet, stir-fry beef 1 tblspn oil for 5-10 minutes or until beef is no longer pink. 
  7. Add beef to potatoes & onion - serve over rice or with garlic bread & salad. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

What's For Dinner: Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas

I found this awesome recipe on Real Mom Kitchen's blog, and modified it to meet our needs. We like things a little spicy in the Chaos home. The original recipe can be found here.

(Spicy) Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper 
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 small can of green chilies
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • Flour tortillas
  • Toppings such as cheese, sour cream, and guacamole – as desired
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken strips in a greased baking dish.
  2. Combine oil and seasonings in small bowl.
  3. Drizzle the seasoning mixture over the chicken and stir to coat.
  4. Add chillies, onions and peppers to the dish and stir to combine, add more seasoning as desired.
  5. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Serve on tortillas with desired toppings.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

WBW: Down on the Farm

This week Bear found himself becoming one with nature. This beautiful piece of land in Mid-Michigan belongs to my awesome sister and brother in-law. They were kind enough to host us for lunch and fun at the farm last Saturday. Now, I'm a city (okay, suburbs) girl at heart; I've never not lived within 5 minutes of a Starbucks. But there really is something so incredibly peaceful about being there on the farm. Instead of traffic, they hear roosters and pheasants. I could get used to that.

Abbey and Bear had fun meeting the hens and the rooster. There's nothing funnier than a toddler cock-a-doodle-doo'ing.

Now if I only knew how to keep her entertained on the 2 hour car drive!

Things I Never Thought I'd Do: A Top Ten List

Pre-kids, we have a lot of ideas about what we will and won't do as parents. We tell ourselves that we won't give them juice, no pacifier, no tv until two. We'll cloth diaper, only serve organic everything, and we'll have them rear-facing in the carseat until college.

We all have the best of intentions, but then life happens and suddenly we're plopping junior down in front of yet another episode of Dora, with a big fat (non-organic) juice box in hand. All for a moment's peace to do the dishes.

At some point we all come to realize that we're doing a lot of things we said we'd never do. But this list is different. This is the shit I never even thought I'd never do. Ever. No one ever talks about this stuff.

And so I present my first Top Ten: Things I Never Thought I'd Do.

10. Sing, out of key, in front of a group of 6 Moms that I don't know at music class. Without alcohol.

9. Invest in something called Boogie Wipes. Or, use the word "boogie" at all.

8. Rectal Thermometer. 'Nuff said.

7. Hum the "Bubble Guppies" theme song in my head. At 3am. Bubble, bubble, bubble...

6. Suck, quite literally, the snot out of another human being's nose. This thing really does rock though.

5. Finally concede, after 30 years, that Mac-N-Cheese out of the blue box probably isn't the healthiest option for lunch. Or a 1am snack.

4. Care about the frequency, consistency, and color of someone else's shit.

3. Cry over a car commercial. Subaru, I'm looking at you.   

2. Try to score the hottest ticket in town, to see the Fresh Beat Band. Without resorting to the black market.

1. Spend nap-time on a Mommy Board discussing whether or not you could ever do this:

The answer, by the way, is the strongest "no" I can summon without using very foul language. I am definitely not "Mom Enough" for that.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Book It!

Who here is obsessed with books? Show of hands, please.

Who stays up until the wee hours of the night to finish "just one more chapter"?

Who gets so involved with their books that they are actually sad when they are over?

Who has found themselves at the 24-hour superstore at midnight because they have to start the next book in a series right now? (I realize this last one is now unnecessary thanks to e-readers, but I still find myself doing it.)

All of these apply to me. My love of reading started at a very young age and continued through-out my entire life. When most kids wanted to be outside during the summer months, climbing, playing, exploring… well, I was holed up in my room with the latest installment of "The Babysitter's Club" or "Sweet Valley High".

Even now, I can barely tear myself away from the last book in the "Hunger Games" series. Yes, I know - I'm a bit behind. I should probably be reading "50 Shades of Grey" right now, huh?

The love of books is definitely something I want to pass on to Abbey, and already the size of her library is rivaling my own. One of the ways we were able to build her library so quickly was through an awesome program sponsored by Miss Dolly Parton.

The Imagination Library was launched in 1996, for the children in her home county in East Tennessee. The idea was simple: give every child the opportunity to read. The program soon took off and is now offered around the country, and around the world. This is not an income-based program; any child, anywhere can join. All you need to do is sign up, and every month a new, age-appropriate book will be mailed directly to your home.

This is a program I strongly believe in, and support here in my own community. Every child deserves the chance to loose themselves in a book, the way I still do today.

So please, sign your child up, spread the word, and get involved. There's so much to discover in the pages… why wait?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Looking Back

Here it is; almost Mother's Day again! This will be my third year officially celebrating the "big day".

I've read a lot of great blog entries this week about what it means to be a mother, what it takes to be a good mother, and then the mother of them all... this Time article asking if I'm mom enough. (I'm not, by the way.)

Forget all that though, I think I'll look back to before I became a mom at all, when I was newly pregnant with Abbey.

For those of you who don't know me personally, my struggles with endometriosis had us concerned we may not be able to conceive at all. But as they say, God works in mysterious ways.


Some days it feels completely normal to be pregnant, and other days I'm simply amazed, awed and terrified all in one. It's such a weird thing to think that in less than 4 months from now, we'll be responsible for someone else's life. Just us. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, just us... Wow.

We stopped "not trying" back before the wedding. Yes, that may have been playing with fire, but I honestly didn't think it was going to happen (which, of course, it didn't -- then). We officially started "trying" then in September, just a few months after the wedding. Ultimately it took us over a year, but only about 10 months from when we started charting. We met with a new (to me) ob/gyn in early August. After reviewing all of my records and films, she estimated us at having about a 30% chance of getting pregnant on our own.

She told us that they'd test Hubby first, later that month. As for me - she was going to let us keep trying until December (which would've been right now), and then she was sending us to a reproduction expert (RE). She said she would normally give us a year from when she met us, but considering our ages (31 and 37), and my medical history, she didn't want us to have to wait too much longer.

Little did we know, we were already pregnant while we were sitting there, in her office, mapping out this game plan. Isn't it funny how life works? When we found out a few weeks later than we were truly pregnant we looked back at the charts and realized we'd conceived before meeting our new doctor. At our next meeting with her, Hubby embraced her (probably a little too tightly) and said "GOD Dr. F, you're GOOD!!!"

Needless to say, he is super, super excited. After hearing "30% chance", we were both a little dejected. I was upfront and honest with him about my conditions from the first time he ever told me he wanted kids, but to hear a doctor tell you those odds, it makes it pretty real. We truly are having our miracle baby.

We're not finding out the sex. We went back and forth about this, and trust me - the planner in me did want to know. But the part of me that thinks this might be our one and only, wants to relish every moment of suspense and wonderment. So in the end we decided to wait it out.

We do have names picked out though - that was surprisingly simple. For the most part I picked out the girl name and he picked out the boy name and we agreed.

As for a gut feeling on what the sex is- I have none. But everyone has told me they think it's a boy. We have not gotten one single "it's a girl". I think I've let everyone else convince me it's a boy at this point. We even refer to the baby as "him". Which we always try to correct, but sometimes it really is just easier to say "he". 

The pregnancy itself so far has been up and down. The first trimester was hard... I was getting sick nearly every day, sometimes a few times a day. Actually, strike that. It wasn't really getting sick, it was dry-heaving. Constantly. I only actually threw up a handful of times, but I'd dry-heave for sometimes 45 minutes at a time. Talk about painful.

Then the second trimester came and it was like someone flipped a switch. I felt better, I finally started gaining a little weight and I felt like myself. Now I'm just a few weeks away from entering the third tri, and I can see where people say that the second is the easiest. Already I can see where this bump is going to get uncomfortable. And all those jokes about not being able to see your toes, or bend over? Yeah, I can see I'm only a few more weeks away from that. Hard to believe how quickly time flies!

Yep, everything is coming together. I've never been happier, or more terrified. Thankfully happier wins out 90% of the time.

And, without further adieu, Abbey the newborn. Stink eye and all. Happy Mother's Day, everyone! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

WBW: Monkeying Around

You don't know what WBW is? Come on, get with the times! It's Where Bear Wednesday! That was said in my best cheerleader voice, so please try to be a bit more enthusiastic about it than my toddler was.

I'm going to bet that based on the post title, you couldn't possibly guess where we went today, right?

It was a gorgeous morning at the Detroit Zoo. It was a little crowded because of the end of the year school field-trips, but as long as you can dart in and out of crowds of little people easily, and drown out the shouts of "Maddy! Grace! Parker! HERE, NOW!", then it's fine.

Our favorite exhibit right now is the Arctic Ring of Life, where you pass through a "12-foot-wide, 8-foot-tall tunnel {that} takes visitors underneath diving and swimming polar bears and seals!".

Except that we have yet to see a polar bear swim over us in the tunnel. I'm starting to think bigfoot is seen more often than the bellies of those bears. We're going to put our season pass to good use this summer though to try and catch a glimpse.

If you're local to the area, the Safari Summer Camps are about to start up again, for kids ages 4-15. You can choose to do half-days, full-days, or even a combination of the two. There are classes available for you and your toddlers as well. These programs are just as popular as the safari camps, and unfortunately we missed the opportunity to sign up for the spring sessions. I think we may sign up for the fall though, and have something to look forward to.

So, all-in-all, I will call today a success. We took the bear to the zoo (a sentence I never thought I'd say), and had a great day. Plus we found a new activity for the fall. Win-win!

Here's one more pic, of Abbey and Bear watching the seals.

Adventures in Sippy Cups

An oldie, but goodie. These pictures are from last Spring, when we were making the switch from bottles to sippy cups. As you can see from the pictorial below, it went over really well. (By the way, if you haven't yet noticed, sarcasm and I are quite close friends.)

So here you go - my step-by-step guide to introducing the sippy cup. If you're looking for real advice on how to make the transition, all I can offer is this: Just keep trying. It takes persistence. And patience. And maybe some humor.

Step 1: Show her the sippy. She's not impressed.

Step 2: Offer the sippy. Hysterics ensue.

Step 3: Try to explain it's still "milk" whether it's a cup or a bottle. Note the frantic signing of "milk".

Step 4: Cave in, make a bottle and resolve to try again tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Big Sell

In my previous life as a working adult, I was in sales. I've done everything from copier sales to internet advertising sales, and I had a lot of fun doing it. I even pitched some pretty big accounts, if I could toot my own horn for a moment. I've stood in front of executives from McDonald's, Travel Centers of America, and The Cleveland Clinic (you know, not to drop names or anything...). I didn't win them all, of course, but I did well enough.

So tell me, why is it that I can't win my two year old over, even once?

The "Where Bear" was not the instant hit I thought it would be. And I spent a good three minutes coming up with that idea! Hmph.

She seemed excited enough about him this morning, but I'm assuming now that was only because he was sitting by her favorite toy, the Magna Doodle. After one good look-over, and a 5-minute introduction from me, she was over it. Maybe I need to pare down my features and benefits spiel.

I am not anything if not persistent though, and so I will keep trying. Why, you ask? Because, well, why not? I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again. This Momma needs all the help she can get. Sometimes I lack the energy, creativity and tenacity needed to keep up with Abbey. Some days I run out of tricks by 10am! And then what? We all know I'm the least spontaneous person on earth. So that's why I thought the bear would be good for both of us.

If I'm held accountable by my blog to make this bear go places, then by golly, he's going places. Whether or not Abbey cares, that dang bear is going to make us get up, get out of the house, and have ADVENTURES. Yes, that needed to be shouted.

In fact, love him or not, I think tomorrow will our first adventure. I'm thinking Tot Time at the library. Yeah, yeah... I'll get creative next week.

Just a disclaimer

Please do not judge my crappy photography. I am not a "Momtographer" and I do not have a fancy camera... yet.

That is all.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Where Bear

They say necessity is the mother of all invention. Right now my necessity is sleep. Beautiful, uninterrupted sleep. Until last week we were getting plenty of it around the Chaos home, but then something happened… we took away the toddler's pacifier. (insert shudder here)

It seemed like the perfect time - Abbey had just turned two, and it had been over a year since she had used the "paci" during the day. We were down to using it just at naps and bedtime, and it felt like it should be an easy transition from just-at-night to not-at-all. Boy, were we wrong.

First came the screaming sessions during nap time. "Oh mama, no mama, please mama!". Then the hour or two of moaning, then talking, then moaning again at night. Followed then by the 5am wake-up. No, this was clearly not working, at all. What was once our peaceful, albeit chaotic, home was turned upside down last Thursday, and four days later, I'm just done with it.

Which leads us to the invention of the "Where Bear". Where Bear is just a plain-old run of the mill teddy bear that, quite honestly, my daughter never showed interest in before. But given a new life, maybe some forged documents, a pair of vintage aviators, and an itinerary, and this bear just may become cool yet.

Here's how it's going to work. Tomorrow morning Abbey will meet the new and improved Where Bear, and he (or she?) will be able to come with us wherever we go. The grocery store, music class, the playground… wherever our adventures take us, Where Bear will be there too.

The hope is that he (or she) will became the new "hot thing" in Abbey's life. Out with the paci, in with the bear. Or so I hope. From here on out, we'll be having "Where Bear Wednesdays" here at CITC, in which that darn bear may show up… well, anywhere.

We'll see where it takes us. Hopefully it takes us to better soothing techniques, and at long last… sleep.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Discovering Your Hometown

As a young kid, I grew up in a small lakefront community in the southeast corner of Metro-Detroit. Before high school, my family relocated to a much larger, growing suburb further out from the city. It was quite a shock to go from a graduating class of 90 to a class of 900. But I survived.

I tell you this only because I now find myself back in that little community on the lake, raising my own family, and getting to know my hometown once again. Now I have a two year old daughter named Abbey in tow, and a husband who has to travel for his job.

What that really means is I have to get very creative with my time. It's just Abbey and I for as many as five days at a time, so if we don't find fun things to do, we're both going to be miserable after that first forty-eight hours ticks by.

Just this morning we had her two-year well-check appointment at Lakeview Pediatrics, where both my husband and I were seen as children. I even ran into one of my former pediatricians! How's that for getting to know your hometown again?

I love that it's a small network of wonderful doctors, nurses, and techs; and that we get to know each one. They really do make the experience that much better! So while I understand that a trip to the doctor is not much fun at all, and definitely not the most exciting kick-off for a blog, it really is essential to find a practice you love. If you're local to me, and looking to make a change, or perhaps have a new bundle on the way, I highly recommend this practice.

Once we got a clean bill of health, we high-tailed it over to the National Coney Island for some nice, good old-fashioned comfort food. I mean really, what soothes those just-got-a-shot nerves better than a hani and fries? Not much, my friend. And when I say nerves, I mean my nerves, of course. As usual, she handled it way better than I did.

With shots out of the way and the summer ahead of us, Abbey and I are hoping for lots of opportunities to be outside and explore our city and surrounding areas more. We will be getting our parks pass this weekend, and can't wait to put it to use at the lakefront parks.

We will be checking in here with lots of stories and pictures from our adventures as we truly do discover our hometown. Come back to look for recipes, fun at-home activities, and tips on trying to be a greener, healthier family as well! We look forward to seeing you around town, and around the web!