O'Joy Recommends: Mother's Day

Welcome to my 2009 Mother's Day Gift Guide. If you read all the way through, you'll find a surprise at the end! Now let's get right in there and find something for your Momma, shall we? (I'm so excited!)

Coming off a highly successful Earth Day, why not continue that feeling with a personalized gift set from It's Only Natural Gifts? A cute photo of the kiddos on a canvas tote, filled with goodies? Sounds so good. And eco-friendly is Momma-friendly!

I hate housekeeping. I'm not the only one, either. Even Momma's who love it (freaky though they are) can appreciate a little break. Hello Merry Maids! Even if you only have them come in one time, whew! What an amazing gift.

How about dinner? No, not a restaurant gift card, (though I wouldn't turn one down!) but a gift set from That's Caring. My fave is this one, and includes appetizer, entree, wine, coffee & dessert. How fun! Best part? It's eco-friendly, homemade and simple. (And the cookies look incredibly tasty, don't they?)

When I saw the BeBook e-reader, I got pretty dang excited.
At $279, it's not exactly cheap, but compared to the Kindle, well...
With the BeBook you can actually exchange books, via a memory card. Ahhh, sharing. What a concept! Free lifetime firmware updates make it particularly appealing. It also allows you to upload any and all ebooks you may have. In other words, a savvy Momma could potentially never pay for a book again. Hmmm....

I have wanted an Aerogarden for so long. It's practically foolproof! If your Momma likes any kind of cooking, then this Herb Lover's Special is just the thing. It includes the seeds for fourteen different herbs!
I love the incredible variety of Aerogardens, and better still the many seed choices which range from green beans to petunias.
And if you jump to it, the Aerogarden store is offering multiple Mother's Day specials.

Here's a great budget gift from downstairs Designs. The InTouch Clutch comes in 37 different patterns, and is perfect for Momma-On-The Go. Fill it up with a book of stamps and pretty stationary, or a journal and fancy pens, or even sketchpad and artist pencils. At $25, it's an incredible price for a handmade item.

Another great gift idea is a purse organizer. Especially with this season's gigantor (Oh yeah, I made it up) bags. I like this one by A Rome Design.
At just $20, it's a steal, and you have your choice of 11 designs. Seriously, if your Momma carries even half of what I do, this thing will be a godsend.

For the Charm City Momma I suggest a Mother's Day picnic. Boordy Vineyards is offering a Queen for the Day Package, which includes admission for two adults and two children, a bottle of wine, two wineglasses, a Tiara, $25 in food from Carl's Catering, music, winetastings and a tour of the vineyard. Currently $65 if you pre-purchase, $70 at the gate. It's always a good time at Boordy, and I highly recommend you go!

If you don't happen to be a Baltimore local, you can still have a great Mother's Day Picnic, check out this article from Epicurious: A Family Affair, and pick up this awesome Picnic Tote from Best Picnic Backpacks

And last but certainly not least, any Momma would love, love, love the Ring of Fire bracelet from International Sanctuary's Purchase with Purpose store. Isn't it gorgeous? The most amazing part is that purchasing this bracelet, or any item from iSanctuary.org supports young women and girls rescued from the sex trade in India.

***And Now For The Giveaway!***

I'm so excited that the Ring of Fire bracelet is back, that I'm giving one away to one lucky reader! (U.S. only, I'm afraid.) Answer this question in the comments section if you would like to win this wonderful bracelet:

Which lucky Momma will you give this bracelet to if you win?

For extra entries:
  • subscribe to my rss,
  • blog about this giveaway and link to O'Joy of my life...
  • grab my O'Joy Recommends: badge and put it in your sidebar
  • follow me on blogger,
  • or at Facebook,
and be sure to leave a separate comment for each. Entry Period ends May 2nd, 11:59pm.

That's it people! Good Luck! (And give some love to Yo Momma!)

Special thanks to Online-Sweepstakes.com, SweepsAdvantage.com and Prizeatron!
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A new feature in time for Mother's Day!


I am going to do something I've haven't really done here before. A gift guide! I'm pretty excited about it, and I hope you will be, too.
On Sunday, I'll post my very first O'Joy Recommends. I'm hoping to make it a regular part of my line-up, and I'm hoping you'll enjoy it. (I'm also hoping that DH takes a gander!)
This first foray into gift-guides will feature gifts for the mothers in our lives. Now, I want you to know that it won't be all initial charms and flowers.

I like jewelry, but I've got plenty of mom-jewels, you know?
I like books, but I don't need any "chicken-soup".
I like flowers, but uh, they die!

To be honest, it will be a list of stuff that I want, or am drooling over. You may like other things, or have other ideas. I'd love it if you would add some of your own recommendations. (We've got LOTS of Moms in our family, so I'm down for advice, lol.)

Now, the No. 1 rule of O'Joy Recommends: It can only be something that I would be excited to receive. (This avoids the whole, "Oh, well, I do think it's nice ... just nicer for someone else" conversation.)

(psst... I'm thinkin' about including a giveaway, so stay tuned!)
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What green thing are you doing today?

I'm giving about a ton of stuff to my church rummage sale. ("Ton" may not be much of an exaggeration. DH filled up the vehicle and plans on taking another trip later!)
By not tossing it all in the trash, I've saved lots of stuff from getting into the landfill, and prolonged the life of many perfectly usable items. Best part? Anything not sold this weekend will be given to local homeless shelters and thrift stores that support various charities.

And you might be doing...? Okay, maybe you need some ideas. I've got ideas, my friends. Let me share!

  • Sign up for Do The Green Thing, and commit to one green change each month.
  • Sign up with ProQuo and stop junk mail from coming to your house and save 1 million trees!
  • Go see DisneyNature's Earth at the theater today with your kiddos and foster an appreciation for our world.
  • Reuse paper by turning those google directions over and printing that recipe for chili cheese fries on it!
  • Stay home today! Don't use any gas, open the windows and turn off the A/C, the TV and the lights. Play board games, or finish that photo project you've been meaning to get to.
  • Enter the Peekaboo Picks Earth Week Giveaway.
  • If you must go out, make sure to bring your reusable bags with you. Stop in at Five Below and get one free with any $10 purchase.
  • Buy a pair of earrings from iSanctuary and support young women in India.
  • Unplug your cell phone charger. Yes, it is still getting voltage, even when your phone isn't attached.
  • For that matter, unplug your coffeepot and toaster, too.
  • Hang your clothes on a line, or over the tub.
  • Put signs above faucets to remind your family to turn off the water when brushing their teeth. Saves 26,000 gallons of water.
  • Switch to a reusable water bottle and save oil, carbon and an annual $334.
  • Clean Up! Sign up for a Beach Sweeps on Saturday.
Now that you know what to do, go on and do it!

Happy Earth Day!

(For more info, check out EarthDay.net)
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somethin' pretty for ya

A lovely song by a lovely artist that I came across today.

<a href="http://sierranoble.bandcamp.com/track/possibility">Possibility by Sierra Noble</a>
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Taxes are fun!

Okay...you might think I'm crazy, but because we get our taxes done as soon as possible, April 15 is actually a fun day for us. (especially if we still have any of our refund left!) It's my Sis-in-Law's birthday, too, (Happy Birthday!) and that makes it even better.

So here are some treats for you:

First, a poem, not written by me!

Tax Poem

Tax his land, tax his wage,

Tax his bed in which he lays.

Tax his tractor, tax his mule,

Teach him taxes is the rule.

Tax his cow, tax his goat,
Tax his pants, tax his coat.
Tax his ties, tax his shirts,
Tax his work, tax his dirt.

Tax his chew, tax his smoke,
Teach him taxes are no joke.
Tax his car, tax his a*&,
Tax the roads he must pass.

Tax his tobacco, tax his drink,
Tax him if he tries to think.
Tax his booze, tax his beers,
If he cries, tax his tears.

Tax his bills, tax his gas,
Tax his notes, tax his cash.
Tax him good and let him know
That after taxes, he has no dough.

If he hollers, tax him more,
Tax him until he's good and sore.
Tax his coffin, tax his grave,
Tax the sod in which he lays.

Put these words upon his tomb,
"Taxes drove me to my doom!"
And when he's gone, we won't relax,
We'll still be after the inheritance TAX.

Pretty cute, huh?

And some goodies:

If you have a Maggie Moo's nearby, drop in for a free scoop!

Cinnabon is passing out bites from 5pm - 8pm!

T.G.I. Friday's is giving discount cards away today, for $5 - $10 .

McCormick & Schmick's has a special promo that includes entrees for $10.40. (Get it?)

Speaking of $10.40, you can get a large at Papa John's for that price if you order online today.

Free coffee at McD's . (Baltimore only!)

Save 15% at Walgreens with the coupon TAXED. (This one is good through 4/20)

Free cookies at Subway restaurants in New York.

And a little funny for you:

A man walked into the tax collector's office and sat down and smiled at everyone.

"May I help you?" said the clerk in charge.

"No," said the man. "I just wanted to meet the people I have been working for all these years."

So there ya go me darlin's! Have fun and eat well on Tax Day!
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She's So Bee-zee

I know I've been lagging, I swear it's 'cause I've got mental blocks all over the place. Everytime I sit down to write a post, I go off and do something else. It's crazy, and I'm sorry. I'll get back to ya'll later today with some fun stuff. 'K?

I still love you, though!
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My first ever award!

Wow! I am so treated! I received an award from Jodi at Jodi's Journey. What a sweetie.

Here it is:

It's described as:

These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

(Funny, that!)

Soooooo, my eight are:

1. Shey_Strides

2. Momedy

3. Carma Sez

4. Lizzie's Home

5. Momsie Tales

6. Alive in Wonderland

7. Baba's Farm Life

8. Life at the Circus

Read them, befriend them, comment on their blogs!
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Seven Lovely Things...

(Still not me, I'm afraid.)

It's that time again! I want to share some of my new faves...

Uno: Has got to be the serial Black Heels to Tractor Wheels. Pioneer Woman, Ree (who is basically amazing, she says oozing envy) tells the true story of her incredible romance. It's a saga, and it's not done yet!

Dos: Kara at Eli's Lids. She's funny and sweet, and I love her photoshopping. I found her blog courtesy of the Ultimate Blog Party, and I'm stoked about it.

Tres: Shopping for bridesmaids dresses with my Annie, on oppposite sides of the country! She lives in SoCal, and I'm in Baltimore, and we found this dress! She's getting married in August, and I am the *ahem* Matron of Honor.

Quatro: My friends at iSanctuary are participating in a Macy's sponsored fundraiser. For you SoCal folk, it would be wonderful if you could help them out. I've mentioned them a time or two, so you know how amazing I think these ladies are. (Okay, so not a new fave, but very much deserving of a shout-out!)

Cinco: Plinky. Funny and fun, though I haven't used a single prompt for my actual blog here, it's still pretty cool. (And I will, it's not all about Facebook, you know!)

Seis: Signing Time is (also) not a new fave, but definitely a renewed fave. I won the Parent Success Kit from them courtesy of 5 minutes for Mom and Happy Panda Baby. My son and daughter looooove the DVD's and the flash cards and book are really cute. I really am impressed with the guide that's included, and pretty well shocked myself with how many signs I actually know. Lil'Man, too. He has been using them constantly, and LivvieBug actually signs: "Momma, I want more milk, please;" totally in ASL! If I have any compaints, it's that Signing Time hasn't branched into teaching us grow-ups yet. Hint, hint, Rachel!

Siete: Nice people. I have had the pleasure of interacting with a number of incredibly nice people lately. Like Kathryn Balint of CropMom, who said such nice things about my fledgling scrap pages. And Amy G. of the CG Spouses' Club of Sector New York who actually called the local elementary school in order to answer a question I had about late registration for kindegarteners. And my daughter's Sunday School teacher, who is just a total sweetheart.

Anyway, Seven Things with love from me to you!
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Meal Plan on Monday!

Ah, another week already? Oh, the time it flies, it really does...


Hmmm, this is Easter week and we're not able to visit Gram this year. (No worries, she'll have us for four whole years when we move next door to her in two months!) This means that I will be hosting a very small dinner at home. Small in that, it will likely be just us!

Let's get started, shall we? (Some meals were moved forward from last week because of schedule changes.)

Monday: No Fail Spaghetti Sauce and Momma's Meatballs. (Recipes below!)

Tuesday: Egg, Bacon, Cheddar and Hash-Brown Burritos. (This is the meal we skipped last week!)

Wednesday: Beef Enchiladas, refried beans and spanish rice.

Thursday: Homemade pizza (using leftover sauce from Monday.)

Friday: Cashew Chicken with stir-fry vegetables and jasmine rice.

Saturday: Soup & Sammies.

Sunday: Honey Glazed Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, Roasted Broccoli, Italian Green Beans, & Spring Salad.

Two recipes for you!

My No Fail Sauce:

1 28oz can crushed tomatoes (I prefer Tuttoroso, with basil)
2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tbs tomato paste
1-2 tbs garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
2 tbs olive oil

Heat large saucepot over medium flame. Add olive oil. When hot (@ 1 minute) add onion, saute for three minutes, add garlic. Saute for one minute. (Careful! garlic burns easily, and burnt garlic is very bitter.) Add diced tomatoes, stir. Add oregano, basil, and tomatoe paste - stirring to blend. Cook until heated through. Add crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover and turn heat to low, allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

The longer the sauce simmers, the better it tastes. You may leave out the garlic or onions, or both! You can add some dry red wine for flavor with the diced tomatoes.

Momma's Meatballs:

1.5 lbs ground meat (beef, pork, turkey, veal, whatever combo you prefer)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup bread crumbs (plain or seasoned is fine)
1 tbs garlic, minced
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a good-sized bowl and get your hands in there! Be careful not to overwork the meat, but blend thoroughly. Roll meat mixture into balls slightly smaller than golf-balls. Place evenly distributed on baking sheet. Cook in oven for 25 - 30 minutes.

I like to remove the meatballs to a paper-towel lined bowl and serve them that way.

Hope you all like it, and maybe even feel inspired? For more meal plans, or to join in the fun - check out the links @ orgjunkie.com

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So we went to the Circus...

As you may recall, I love the circus. We finally went on Thursday, March 26th at the 1st Mariner Arena to the Ringling Bro.s and Barnum & Bailey Circus presents "Over The Top".

Thanks to MomCentral and Feld Entertainment, my whole family was able to see the elephants and acrobats, the clowns and trapeze artists, the aerialists and motorcyclists, the horses and even (I swear!) a porcupine. My daughter barely blinked throughout the entire show, and hardly spoke. (An amazing feat, in and of itself.) She was utterly mesmerized. And this was after the Feld Family Activator Event, during which she was able to meet real-live circus performers. (Oh, it was so cute!) Here are some pics:

Ketchup (Akos Gilcze) let Adam hold a baton, (That's our Meggie holding Lil'Man!)

And the lovely Jaqueline Lopez posed with LivvieBug. She also patiently listened to Liv tell her about school, and driving to the circus in the rain. Then she let Liv touch her hat, which really made her happy.

After the meet & greet, we entered the arena, and wow! The pre-show was sooooo cool! Multiple acts, including jugglers, goats, dancing clowns... you name it!

  • Costumes for dress-up were fun for the grown-ups, but our kiddo was a little creeped out.
  • Stilt walker, Liv was utterly astonished when he walked right over her head.
  • Lil' Man on the motorcycle lookin' very "Cool Rider" with that 70's hairdo.
  • Henry Higino of Clown Alley pausing for a quick pic during a clown-led line-dance. People were really getting down!

I took tons of pictures of the actual circus, but they really didn't come out very well. Still, it was an amazing show, and when they come to your town, I highly recommend that you go. It is an incredible family experience.

My absolute favorite part? That's a pretty even split between The Torres Family, (Steel Ball of Death, anyone?) and Daniel Raffo's tigers. The man had no time to play to the audience, he needs every bit of concentration for those gorgeous but deadly cats!

The elephants were wonderful, and the mini-horses were adorable. LivvieBug loved the trapeze artists, (far and away her favorite) and Lil Man, well he fell asleep mid-show. DH was all about the tigers, a performance he felt the rest of the audience didn't appreciate nearly enough. All in all, we had a "Great" time.

Here's one last shot for you guys.
Oh, how I love the Circus!
Oh, how I love the Ringling Bro.'s and Barnum & Bailey!
Oh, how I love MomCentral!

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