Friday, October 30, 2015

5 Pumpkin Cocktails To Make Your Fall Sparkle

It's Fall and the air is crisp here, in the Northeast. 

Time for my 7 pumpkin-inspired cocktails to help add a bit more spirit to your season!

  1. Hot Buttered Pumpkin Spice Rum – I would imagine that this isn't the lowest-calorie drink because it has butter in it, but it's a great drink to warm you up. Sip it before a roaring fire...
    or flickering candle for extra ambiance.

Ingredients: 2 tablespoon of butter (make sure they're at room temperature); 1 tablespoon of softened dark brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of pumpkin-pie spice, 2 ounces of dark rum, and 12 ounces of HOT apple cider.

Directions: In a mixing bowl, use a whisk to whip the butter, brown sugar and pie spice together. Put it in the refrigerator and chill until it's firm. Then halve the mix and the mug and place in two mugs. Stir in the hot cider. Note: you could even top this with whipped cream and sprinkles and add a cinnamon stick to make it even more special.

  1. Pumpkin Flavored Vodka – Okay, this is more time-intensive, so you might want to start now, but it yields a wonderful Fall take on vodka. Note that you'll need a large, sealable glass container for this, like a recycled glass juice bottle or glass storage jar.

Ingredients: 1-1/2 cups of pumpkin pie filling, vodka.

Directions: Place the pie filling in the container and fill the rest with vodka. Mix them both up and let the concoction sit in the refrigerator for a week to 10 days. Filter the mixture through a coffee filter which you've put in a kitchen strainer. TaDa!

  1. Kahlua Pumpkin Martini – It doesn't get any easier than this!

Ingredients: Kahlua Pumpkin Spice, vodka

Directions: Mix equal parts of both together with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled glass. Add a bit of orange zest or a cinnamon stick to garnish.

  1. Spiced Pumpkin Cider – Another warm drink you can sip while watching the leaves fall, it reminds me of the Spiced Rum recipe above, but with fewer calories. It also makes the house smell amazing!

Ingredients: 1 cup of pumpkin puree, 2-1/2 cups of apple cider, 1/3 cup of spiced rum, 1-1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, a cinnamon stick, a sprinkle or two of nutmeg.


In a large pot, whisk together the puree, cider, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon stick. When the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain it to get rid of any lumps and the cinnamon stick. Add rum and sprinkle with a bit of nutmeg. Serve it
warm. Yummmmmm!

  1. Pumpkin Pie Martini – I've been watching quite a bit of Love It Or List It lately and at the end of each episode, the winner buys the loser a martini, so martinis have been on my mind lately. Here's a great one to celebrate with:

Ingredients: 4 ounces of vodka, pumpkin pie spice, 1 ounce of vanilla vodka

Directions: Pour both vodkas into a shaker of ice and, well, shake. Strain into two glasses and add a dash of pumpkin pie spice. 

Nothing says Fall like pumpkins (let's ignore all the leaves we need to rake!).  Enjoy these EASY drinks and embrace the magic of the season!

PLEASE VISIT ME ON MY OTHER BLOG, "Is It Hot In Here?" Menopause, Motherhood & More.  See you there, too!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Because We Need To Be With Families Who Look Like Us

Ah, this poor, neglected blog!  If you're reading this, thank you for coming back!  This is my personal blog, as opposed to my other one, "Is It Hot In Here?" Menopause, Motherhood & More (, which I'm TRYING to turn into a money maker.

If you've been reading either blog, you know that I am the proud mother of a little girl who was adopted from China.  You can read my family's story here.  A few years ago, we had a MASSIVE reunion with about ten families who traveled with my husband to China to pick up their daughters.  The reunion was INCREDIBLE!  All of the girls got along and the parents got to trade stories about their kids (one fascinating similarity:  they are very strong-willed children).  And even though we're scattered across the country, my family is fortunate to live within driving distance of two of of those families.

We LOVE seeing the Smiths and Johnsons (not their real names).  We get together with them at least once a year.  It's lovely that the girls are virtually growing up together and pick up exactly where they left off the last time we all gathered.

It's also crucial that they see other families that look like us.

When we first started meeting, the siblings (who are all biological) would also trade stories, but since two are teenagers and of different sexes, that's not happening as much.  The teens are bored; that's tough toenails because this is really about the little ones and the parents.

Our gatherings are low-maintenance.  We don't need any kind of fancy sightseeing trips.  On our last trip to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, it poured!  That was fine because our hotel had an indoor pool (we ALWAYS get an indoor pool) which the girls splashed around in until they were water-logged and tired.  They played video games in our room and we ended the weekend with a trip to the mall.  For the parents, it's become less of a "comparing notes" session and more the opportunity to just see friends. 

My daughter is the ultimate blessing and being able to share our parenting experience with other families who have gone through the adoption process and tackle some of the same issues we do ( such as instilling pride in our daughters' origins and country, some of the questions the girls pose about their births, etc.) has been important to us.

Interracial families are not the anomaly they once were, but they're still not common.  Seeing other families who have grown in other ways than by direct genetics is important.

We are so lucky that our family has grown in love thanks to adoption.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mom's First Experience With A Teenager On Halloween

Last year, for the first time ever, my new teenager went trick-or-treating outside our neighborhood. While I realized he wasn't foraging into a ghetto or any particularly dangerous areas, it was the first time he went out into a section of town that I'm not intimately familiar with and hanging with friends I did not know. So, as is very common these days, I was nervous. And what do I, The Most Neurotic Mom In The World, do when I'm nervous? I come up with a plan so that there's some predictability in my life and Junior knows what I will expect of him. Here's what I came up with:

When you have a brand-new teen, Halloween is quite different!
  • Please wear a costume. I HATE it when teenagers come to my door on Halloween night and they're not wearing any kind of disguise. They just stand there, holding out pillowcases or Target bags, blankly looking at me – not even SAYING anything thing – expecting candy. WTF?! You want freebies, you make a friggin' effort! Fortunately, Junior is on board with this. He and his posse are going out dressed, I kid you not, as a herd of horses and unicorns. I have NO idea why, but according to the guy at Party City, these costumes are the hottest ones among teens. The problem is, you can't see too well out of these masks, so I'm hoping my son and his friends are careful. At least Junior's is white so cars will see him. When I suggested he wear reflective tape on his jacket and pants, I thought he was going to shoot 
  • When I call you to find out where I should pick you up, please answer. I don't plan on being in costume on Halloween, however, I may be wearing my froggie pajama bottoms and will have a jar of cold cream and some curlers in the car. If you are not where you're supposed to be, I will get out of the car and come looking for you dressed as Irate, Psycho Mom. I don't think you want your friends to see that. 

  • Please be prepared for pickup by 8pm.  I need you and your sister home at a decent hour. I realize that after you guys get home, there will be at least an hour of candy trading ahead of us (remember: Snickers and Butterfingers are mine). I need to get you both in bed at a sensible hour so I can raid your stashes after you're asleep.

The Teen's costume - I'm so proud...(NOT!)

    I'm not sure if these guidelines will do any good, but so far, Junior has agreed to them. I'm sure at least one will be ignored and I did have the foresight to make sure his monthly orthodontist appointment has been scheduled for Monday. While I'm a little sad that my son won't be accompanying his little sister trick-or-treating, I realize that it was insane to think he'd hang with us on Halloween. He's too cool and too grown up for that. My job is to try to minimize any dangers he'll be exposed to on Thursday.

Gotta go now. I wonder if he noticed the reflective patches I sewed onto the pillowcase he used for his loot?    :)))

Note: this article was updated to see how successful these guidelines were.


So here's my update on how it went last year:

Teen discovered after about an hour of trick-or-treating with his sister that the rubber mask he was wearing was HOT.  "Mom, can you see how much sweat is in here?" he asked.  I declined but inside was going, "Told you so!"  He then changed into the costume he wore last year.   I have no idea how much he ate while he was out, but I do know that before I took him to his friend's house, I made him eat a burrito which I'd packed in my bag.  Only a mother would pack a burrito in her bag...deep sigh.  His braces were NOT compromised although the little bugger claimed that he got so little candy (BS!) that he couldn't spare Mom a Snickers.  And I did not need to pick him up.  My husband, the self-avowed Grinch Who Can't Stand Halloween, offered to get his son because, in my husband's words, "I'd rather go pick up The Boy than be home and have to keep opening the door."  PS:  Mom is home all day with your stash, Junior, so a few of your Snickers are already in my belly.  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Yik Yak, A Dangerous App High Schoolers Should Avoid

 Recently, our high school principal sent out a warning about a smart phone app called Yik Yak. I'm happy he did because if you're the parent of a child in high school, you NEED to know about it.


Yik Yak is a social media site that allows users to post anonymously; they do not have to sign-up nor do they need to declare a user name. Users post comments, questions, or claims about others without assuming any responsibility for their words. They can share posts with those within a 1.5 mile radius, meaning they can target people they both know and don't know. As such, Yik Yak threads have become a platform for libel, drug discussions, sexual suggestions, and cyber bullying. Schools and sometimes even the police cannot identify individuals' postings on Yik Yak.


The app is set up with game-like features that give users the power to “control what is hot” by “up voting” and “down voting” other people's posts. The continuous tally of your “up votes” is called a Yakarma score with users encouraged to “create quality content” to achieve a higher score. In other words, the juicer your posts, the higher your Yakarma score will be. If a post receives five “down votes,” the user's Yakarma score goes down and the post is deleted. Sure, this sounds positive, but it's not because users can “up vote” harmful postings, thus providing negative reinforcement.

The most disturbing thing about Yik Yak are the repercussions posts can have. Someone can post a salacious rumor about your child which can spread like wildfire on their high school campus and neither you nor they have any way of knowing who posted it. Any defense made will certainly not get the amount of views that the initial rumor received. In other words, Yik Yak renders your kid defenseless against their peers. 


I downloaded the app last night and was immediately disgusted by the amount of sexual comments, racist remarks, references to drugs, sexism, homophobia, and just plain meanness of so many posts. There are some really depraved people on Yik Yak. No wonder at least one psychiatrist has dubbed it “the most dangerous app out there” (read his article here:

So what can we as parents do? Grab your high schooler's phone and/or table and see if they have Yik Yak downloaded. If they do, ask why they have it and discuss with them what would happen if they or one of their friends was targeted in a post. Help them to see how destructive the app actually is – a discussion with you can be extremely valuable.



My son and I talked about Yik Yak and I was relieved to see, for myself, that he does not have it on any of his devices. He said he's heard about it from friends and, in his words, “it's evil.” That's now. He could give in to peer pressure in the future. As I always do, I'll be monitoring his electronics to see what he's downloading. Cyber-beasts like Yik Yak are out there. It's up to us, as parents, to protect our kids as much as possible.


Please note, this article first appeared on the website The Geek Parent.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

Copper Fit Knee Sleeve – Does The Copper Really Make A Difference?

Please note: Although I was given a sample of this product for reviewing purposes, all opinions are my own.


Copper Fit is allegedly perfect for all kinds of people: performance athletes, physical workers, or older individuals looking for easier movement and pain relief. But the truth is, I know plenty of people who don't fit that any of those profiles yet still have pain and restricted movement. In fact, if you're as overweight as some of my relatives are, those two symptoms are a result of too much poundage and not enough exercise. In any case, Copper Fit's goal is to provide relief. It is “designed to help stabilize and support muscles, provide support for pain, stiffness, and soreness, as well as aid in recovery and performance by supporting improved circulation and oxygenation.” The miracle aspect of the product is the fact that the fabric is copper-infused. Copper “possess antimicrobial properties and enhancement benefits” and was used by the Ancient Egyptians, Romans and Aztecs.

But does it work?

Well, yes and no. I am no athlete, but I did wear the sleeve around one knee (for some reason you only get ONE knee sleeve in the box), during the day, for about a week. I do not have a bum knee per se, but since I just started an exercise program, my knees have been feeling sore and tired. Did I notice a difference? If I did, I think it was more because of the compression that was happening to my knee, rather than any copper-induced miracle. In fact, the knee felt the same as it had when I was wearing a generic knee sleeve that I'd bought at CVS.

So if the compression is the aspect that makes you feel better, is Copper Fit (which is priced on Amazon at $16.33 today, $19.99 plus $7.99 shipping and handling on the website) worth paying more for when the CVS model was only $10.99? Again, yes and no. Logic says that if you’re really in a lot of pain and the cheaper unit doesn't work, it may behoove you to try the more expensive one. For me, however, the deciding factor is the return policy. While Amazon and CVS provide full refunds, ordering the unit via the Copper Fit company's website will only get you refunded the purchase price, not the $7.99 shipping and handling.

Pain relief is individual and important to one's quality of life. The question of whether or not to buy this product comes down to how much relief is worth to you.  Obviously, that's something only you can decide. Try Copper Fit. Physically, it can help. The only thing that it may hurt will be your wallet.


Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Comforting A Child With Bronchitis

Dazed, Emoticon, Smiley, Smilies, Head
It's been a rough nine days in my house. My son, who is NEVER sick, was running a 102 degree fever for 8 days. At first, the doctor thought it was a simple virus. When his temp hit 104.8 two nights later, I freaked, although the doctor on call didn't. She started him on an antibiotic. When he still wasn't any better, another pediatrician at the practice diagnosed him as having “bronchitis and 'recovering pneumonia'.” It turns out that two viruses are fighting for control of my poor Teen. She prescribed two more antibiotics which, THANK GOD, have brought down his fever, although he's starting on a steroid today to stop his wheezing.

Making him comfortable throughout this has been a challenge. Here are 5 things I've been doing which seem to be helping:

  1. Eucalyptus oil – A few drops of this on his pillow seem to make him cough less. I did when when my kids were babies and I couldn't rub Vicks on their chest.

  2. Using the Chillow when a child has a fever – When I reviewed the Chillow on my other blog (read it here), I suggested it might be helpful for a feverish child and it certainly was. The coolness of the Chillow helped him on very restless nights. It's now part of my arsenal when anyone is running hot.

  3. Ovaltine – Junior has not been eating much at all. Ovaltine was my go-to drink when my son was growing up and refused to eat fruits and veggies. Yes, it contains sugar but it also has 12 vitamins and minerals. It's one of those “comfort drinks” from when my son was little. I mixed it in with whole milk (because he needs the calories right now) and I'm happy that at least he's getting some nutrition in addition to the seltzer he lives on and, thankfully, has been drinking throughout this ordeal. For more on Ovaltine, click here

  4. Salt water in the nebulizer – Although the doctor has Junior on Albuterol, at the first cough, I usually put salt water in our nebulizer and start the kid on that every few hours. The steam is comforting. I follow that up, at night, with the vaporizer. 

  5. Some fresh air – Junior has been weakened by this illness, but getting him out, just for a walk around the perimeter of the house, clears his head a bit. Plus, since being sick for so long is just plain depressing, it reminds him that there is life outside this house that he'll soon be a part of again.

He just announced he's bored. GOOD! If he can tell me that, it's time that he begins, gradually, to get back to really living. Later on, I'll take him for soccer cleats and a new backpack. High school starts next week and he needs to be ready. The bronchitis and pneumonia will soon be an unpleasant memory. These viruses have robbed him of two weeks of Summer vacation. It's time for us to re-claim what's left of this season before we move on to the next. 

Thanks for reading!  

Saturday, August 23, 2014

How To Shop For Jeans – After You've Gained A Few Pounds

I will NOT beat myself up for not looking like this!

Please note that although I was compensated for this post and that writing on this subject was suggested, all opinions are my own. 

Fall will soon be upon us, here, in the Northeast. That's when I live in jeans - nice, comfy jeans. Unfortunately, I ate a wee bit too much this Summer and I've put on a few pounds, rendering my Size 6 jeans to the closet for the immediate future. What to do?

Since the weight I put on took 3 months to get there, it's not going to disappear overnight, no matter how much I wish it would. It's time to face reality: I need new pants in a larger size. Since I've done this before, here is how to approach shopping for women's jeans after you've packed on a few pounds.

  1. Do not beat yourself up for packing on a few pounds!!! I can't emphasize this enough. Weight gain happens to the best of us. Inflicting guilt on yourself doesn't do a bit of good. Resolve to get the weight off, but in the meantime, deal with the reality that you are now a different size than the one you'd like to be.

  1. Think about what type of jeans you want. Designer jeans or non-designer jeans? What type: denim jeans or colored ones? Ripped or non-ripped? Straight-leg or bootcut style jeans are your best bet. Avoid low-rise jeans because they'll cause the much-dreaded muffin top. Mid-rise jeans are better when you've got a belly.

  1. Go to the store with whatever pair of shoes you'll be wearing the jeans with, since that will help with the issue of where the pant legs will fall. Although I love the look of True Religion Brand Jeans and others you can buy online, trying pants on is essential, especially when you're on the large side. Maybe skinnier people have a greater margin of error, but I don't.

  1. If you stick to one brand of jeans and one size, understand that there will be tiny differences in the fit in every batch of your size because good jeans are hand cut. Take a few pair of the same size into the changing room and try them on. If you need to suck your tummy waaay in or lie on the floor to zip the pants up, you need a bigger size. Again, muffin tops are not pretty, too tight jeans encourage yeast infections, and passing out from not being able to breathe is bad.

  1. Move around and sit down in any jeans you try on. Is the crotch seam comfortable? How does the waist feel – is it digging in? Do your knees feel like a boa constrictor is wrapped around them? COMFORT is as important as look.

  1. Make sure you know the store's return policy before you buy the pants. What if you get home and decide they're not for you? I've had too many “what was I thinking!” moments. Returning the pants has to be an option.

Am I proud that I put on a few pounds? Certainly not! But my self-worth is not determined by a number on the scale. Time to watch what I'm eating, exercise more, and face the reality that I need new pants. After all, I deserve to look good this Fall!

For more tips on how to buy jeans, visit The Chic Fashionista.

Photo of a bowl of tomato and cucumber salad
Back to the salad bar for me...yumm!