Thursday, April 1, 2010

Memories of Taste and Smell

This is a compensated review by BlogHer and Werther's.

The taste of rich, butter cream caramel makes me believe for a moment that I am Catherine rushing across the windswept moor searching for Heathcliff.

[Don't ask me what happens when I eat a peppermint patties.]

I think the Wuthering Heights / caramel association must come from spending my senior year of college in England.

I was in Yorkshire at The University of Leeds and kind of miserable.

I missed my family more than I thought I would, I missed my college boyfriend and I was generally too loud and too American to make friends easily.

There is solace in butter cream caramel eaten in the boggy heather fields.


These days, I try not to use food as an antidote for the blues because, in the end, gaining weight only ever made me bluer.

Trying to balance a sweet tooth and a healthy diet isn't easy.

I'm kind of a slave to vanilla yogurts and fudgecicles and am always on the lookout for sweet treats that won't pack on the pounds.

Werther's recently sent me a vast sampling of their sugar-free caramels and, when they arrived, I eagerly ripped the bag open.

There were a variety of flavors other than the original like caramel mint, caramel coffee and caramel cinnamon.

These were interesting, but I found myself longing for caramel in it's purest, simplest form.

The original flavor caramels were good, though let's be real, they weren't AS good as a wad of real sugar and butter cream, but they did put me in mind of the windswept moors of northern England.

At least a little bit.

Which is close enough because my Catherine is older now and no longer runs across the windswept heath.

[I could break a cankle doing that!]

I would like to also note that I conducted my Werther's taste test for after the children went to bed because I didn't want to temp them after they had brushed their teeth.

Unfortunately, after I had eaten eleventy million Werther's sugar free candies, The Mayor called me to his bedside.

"What do you smell like?" he asked me once I was near him.

"Nothing, why?" I said.

[Deny everything!]

He pulled my head towards his face and gave me a good sniffing.

"You smell sweet," he said.

"Really? Sweet?" I said.

"Uh-huh. Like a ham. A sweet, glazed ham."

Say it with me now.

Oh. The. Joys.

What is the funniest thing your child ever said you smelled like and what do you think of Werther's sugar free candies?

Read all the Werther's reviews at Blogher.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Built In Cooler & The Best Movie Ever!

This is a compensated review from BlogHer and Lincoln MKT

“Baby screens!!!” they squealed.

Who knew that built-in, window sun screens would be such an attractive vehicle feature to the four year old set?

They went up, they went down.

[They went up and down again and again and again.]

I worried that all the up and down action would break the sun shades and I’d be the proud owner of a brand new concept car.

A nice man from Charlotte brought the keys to the Lincoln MKT to my office on a Tuesday afternoon.

My colleague and I took it for an immediate spin around a nearby college campus.

It was a pretty nice ride, I must say.

The MKT has six, plush bucket seats and for the week I test drove it, I tried to pay back all the car-pooling good karma I owed around town.

When I picked up my daughter and her school friend they led the exploration of the vehicles finer features.

As it turned out, the built-in sun shades weren’t the penultimate MKT feature.

My daughter and her friend must have touched every inch of the car’s interior and when they lifted up the arm rest between them in the middle seat, they discovered four year old nirvana.

A built-in, refrigerated cooler.

They then spent an hour discussing the finer points of stocking built-in vehicle coolers, (as if they were experts on the subject), offering their opinions on everything from juice boxes to string cheese to yogurt to go.

If I owned a Lincoln MKT, I am certain there would be some heavy-duty back-seat picnicking because these girls had it all figured out.

I drove the car for a week and I really enjoyed it.

It had an amazing array of luxuries built-in –satellite radio, GPS, leather seats, two sun roofs… and something I’d never seen before...

When the car was in reverse, a digital image of the area behind the car showed up on the dashboard.

[My kids thought this was a great movie for some reason. They never tired of it!]

I thought the MKT took a station wagon, an SUV and a mini-van and turned the best features of each into something new, something better than any one of the others on its own.

My kids loved the car and called it, “The FUN Car.”

It helped that the enormous front grill made the vehicle look like a character from the movie “Cars.”

The kids were sad on the day the car had to go back to the dealer.

We actually had to have a little ritual moment of saying goodbye.

Perhaps the comment best expresses how nice the car was came from my friend’s husband.

He’s never been much of a fan of blogs, bloggers or blog reading, but when he saw the Lincoln MKT, he turned to his wife and said,

“You should start a blog.”

For a chance to win a $500 Visa gift card, leave a comment on this post. (See the official rules here.) The contest is open until March 31st.

Increase your chances to win, by commenting on the other blogger reviews of the the Lincoln MKT. You can find links to them at the Round-up page.

And if you leave a comment at the Round-up page you'll also be entered for a chance to win a "Lincoln Night Out On The Town" giveaway (valued at $1,500).

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Grandma's Cake

This is a compensated review by BlogHer and Electrolux.

My Grandma K grew up in a large family with limited resources.

She spent her adulthood working in a factory and I know she and my Grandfather struggled a bit financially, but they made do.

One of the earliest memories I have of her is the sound her dentures made going clickety clack when she talked and the image of them sitting in a cup on the edge of her bathroom sink at night.
My Grandma K was, in some ways, a stereotype – almost a caricature.

She loved to remember when bread cost only five cents at the A&P.

[This was among her favorite topics of conversation.]

Near the end of her life, Grandma K liked to crochet while watching soap operas.

She made bedspread after bedspread as the world turned.

She suffered from various aches, pains and ailments.

[And this was her other favorite topic of conversation.]

Her back was especially troubling to her unless she spotted a spare coin on the ground.

She became a human pogo stick at the sight of a spare coin.

I always check myself when I make fun of my Grandma K’s sudden agility at the sight of spare change though.

As her wedding gift, she gave each of her five grandchildren a gift of five hundred dollars -- all of which she collected one penny at a time and saved in a jar on the shelf of her bedroom closet.

She was a broad, heavy-set woman with an impossibly big bosom.

I remember her having a lap that was fabulously soft to sit in.

She would envelope me in her softness and I would be safe there.

If she stayed with us when my parents were out of town, she would wake me by stroking my head and gently calling my name.

[Unlike my father, her son, who would YANK the covers from the bed and cause me great trauma.]

Throughout my childhood and my father’s before me, Grandma K made a wonderful, lemony pound cake.

Growing up we simply called it Grandma’s Cake, so if it ever had a more proper name I don’t know it.

It is a good cake because there is nothing chocolate about it and yet I still recognize it as dessert.

[Which is rare and amazing.]

Though Grandma K has been gone many years now, my father still makes the cake.

I’ve never made it for my family, but my Dad e-mailed me the recipe this week.

I’m going to make it.

“Try this,” I’ll say to my kids. “It’s Grandma’s Cake.”

Grandma’s Cake

Start with a yellow cake mix and follow the directions on the back.

[Make sure you use vegetable oil and milk and that you don’t use any water.]

Mix cake ingredients as directed on the box and then add:

1 cup of chopped walnuts;

1 tablespoon of Vanilla Extract; and

1 package of instant Lemon Pudding.

Bake in a Bundt pan according to the instructions on the cake mix box.

When the cake is cooled, sprinkle it with powdered sugar.

This post was written as part of Kelly Ripa's Cakery for a Cause Campaign, supporting Ovarian Cancer Research.

Visit Kelly’s Cakery at to decorate and send a special virtual cake to a friend, family member or loved one. For every cake sent, Electrolux will donate $1 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

Everyone who sends a virtual cake will be automatically entered for a chance to win a new Induction Range from Electrolux.

Check out all the other stories and cake recipes at the special offers page.