Saturday, December 31, 2016

Teaching Teenagers to Fundraise

Remember the post I did last February with the theme "Mom, you don't think like me." No? You can read it here.

I almost made the same mistake again when helping Elli set up her fundraising campaign. Only this time I didn't. I remembered that conversation and pitched my idea to Elli a little differently. In other words, I listened to her and didn't push my agenda quite as hard and wouldn't you know it - we have success!!

Last year I tried to break down the fundraising goal into logical increments which she could achieve by babysitting, fundraising, pet sitting, etc. I even had a spreadsheet. Horrors!

It was way too structured for her.

So even though I would prefer to know how many babysitting jobs I need to make the money her brain is not processing the project that way. It's much more fluid for her.

This year she is raising money to go on a 2-week trip to Costa Rica with a group called Cross Cultural Solutions. We've told her she has to raise half of the $4,000 she needs! Hopefully more. 'Cuz we're footing the bill for the rest and money doesn't grow on trees ya know. I'm kidding. I did not say that to her. We did have a long talk about why we're making her pay half though. I think it's important for her to be invested in this trip financially. It will make it even more special if she has raised most of the funds to pay for the trip.

Here are the 5 things I learned:

1. Brainstorm Ideas Together - I know, I know. Duh, right? Well, I didn't do that last year and it killed the project. So start by working together.

2. Select One or Two Ideas to Try - any more than that and it's overwhelming

3. Fundraise in Stages - set goals along the way so it feels doable

4. Help them Promote their Fundraising Campaign - your friends and contacts have more discretionary income than their friends do.

5. Celebrate the Victories - Elli created her own tracking chart so we can celebrate when she reaches milestones.

So far so good! She's at 32% of her goal and we still have many more months to finish.

If you would like to donate to her campaign click here> DONATE HERE

Thank you!!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Elli is hosting her first Pop-Up Shop as a Brand Ambassador for Epic Sky. It's pretty cool. So if you are a teen, or are the parent of a teen and are in the area stop by for a little shopping!

Your teen could be the next Brand Ambassador!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

How to make a big hairy spider for Halloween

Do you ever get in a crafty mood? It strikes me about once a year. Usually around Christmas.

This year it struck at Halloween.

I was supposed to pick up plastic spiders and glow sticks to help decorate the marketing area of our office. Easy peasy. No crafting necessary.

Except I went to the wrong store. I went to Jo-Anne Fabrics. I thought they would have Halloween decor. And it's near my house. The Halloween stuff was pretty much gone - replaced by Christmas!

As I'm wandering around the store figuring out what to do I decided I would skip the little plastic spiders and make two giant spiders instead. Two big, hairy spiders. With googly eyes. I had it pictured in my head. I would get the biggest styrofoam ball I could find, a feather boa, floral wire, felt, glue and googly eyes. And then I would recruit the teenager to help me.

They came out super cute! Big, hairy and not too scary.

makes 2
1 Large Styrofoam ball cut in half (the bread knife in the kitchen works well.)
1 6' black feather boa
8 Felt Squares "9" x 12"
16 Floral Wires - Dark brown (comes in a pack of 20)
Craft Glue
Black Spray Paint
2 packets of large googly eyes
Scotch tape
Optional: needle and black thread to sew the legs

10 Steps:
1. Cut the foam ball in half
2. Spray paint each half of the ball black (let dry)
3. Cut the feather boa in half. Cover each half of the black ball with glue. Wrap the feathers around it. Trim the feathers (give it a crew cut!)
4. Cut each felt piece in half creating 4.5" x 12" pieces.
5. Roll the felt around the floral wire so it creates a 12" tube around the wire.
5. Glue the seam (hold together with a few pieces of scotch tape until the glue dries.)
6. Optional: sew the seam with a loose running stitch. This is what we did because the glue was not drying fast enough for us!
7. Repeat this 16 times to you have 8 legs for each spider
8. Wrap about 1" of the wire around one end of the spider leg so the felt won't fall off the wire.
9. Take the other end which will be a few inches long and insert in the styrofoam. We doubled it up before poking it in the styrofoam to make it more secure. Place 4 legs on each side. Bend the wire to shape the legs.
10. Last thing to do is to glue on the googly eyes.

That's it! It's fun to do with kids. but beware. The feathers have a way of getting everywhere. Nothing the vacuum can't take care of.

Elli and I had a blast running around the neighborhood taking pics of the spider. OK. That statement is not entirely true. It was more like, "Mom, I'm in my slippers. Can I go now?" ha ha ha. Just keeping it real.

Happy Halloween!!!


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Check out this new brand for teen girls: Epic Sky

My friends Marian and Monika have started a new brand for teen girls called Epic Sky. It's part fashion, part social and 100% awesome. Elli has participated in a few of their photo shoots and is now part of their first video.

This proud mama just has to share it with everyone. I'm pretty sure you'll recognize Elli. But if not, she's in a gray top and denim skirt. You'll see her riding a skateboard and she says her name at the end.


Friday, May 27, 2016

The challenges of parenting a teenager (aka, I am the Fun Crusher.)

Elli and I got in a huge fight the other night. It ended with her calling me the "Fun Crusher."

It was like a punch in the gut.

No one ever wants to be called a fun crusher.


I basically told her she couldn't do something - which apparently all her friends were doing and it set off a fight like we've never had.

She's 14. Completely independent with an incredibly strong will like most teenagers.

Here's the thing. She's a really good kid with a good head on her shoulders. She has great judgement which is why she sent me a text asking permission to do something.

Her friends did not do that with their parents.

They took the risk.

I'm not sure if Elli was really going to ask permission. Or if my text to her asking when she would be home prompted her to ask permission. I'll never know.

I know you're wondering what happened. Basically, Elli wanted to jump in the high school pool (which was closed) with all her clothes on with her friends. They climbed the fence to get in. She sent me a text asking permission. Which I denied. Which started the whole fun crusher thing.

All I know is that it was 9pm on a school night and I didn't want her in the pool (which was closed) with all her clothes on.

I guess I am the fun crusher.

"What's the big deal? It's just clothes and water. Who cares? Why do you care? All my friends are in the pool having fun. You're no fun. You ruin everything. You never let me have fun. You are the fun crusher."

Geez. Being the fun crusher really bites.

She was upset. Big ole tears. Slamming doors. Hatred for me in her eyes.

I tried explaining myself. Why I pulled "the parent" card.

She didn't care.

As the evening went on I started to doubt my decision and the way I handled the whole situation. The more she argued the more I fought back and got defensive.

I wish I had read this article The Misguided Desire of Wanting our Kids to Be Happy. I totally would have put myself in a "Parent Time Out" for a few minutes before debating with her.

I still feel guilty about how it all went down. And now I'm a little worried if she is going to be like her friends and do something they know is not right - and ask for forgiveness later. Which is what most teenage kids do.

These are the things the Fun Crusher worries about.

Elli has already moved on. She sent me this text the next day: srry for calling u a fun crusher.

And then asked us to buy her tickets for the Memorial Day carnival.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

How strong is your will power?

by Kris Mulkey

Don and I were watching tv the other night when he looked at me and said, "Please stop making cookies. Why did you start making cookies again anyway?" You could tell he was really struggling with keeping his hand out of the cookie jar. Or in our case, the Ziplock bag of home-made sugar cookies in the freezer.

" be nice. Because you like cookies." I said, kind of snickering. Which is mean really. I know he loves cookies and has trouble eating just one. So really, he's right. Why do I taunt him. But then again, where is his will power? Why can't he eat just one?

His will power to stop after one is non-existent when it comes to cookies and other sweet treats.

I can stop. I don't need to eat cookie after cookie. In fact I can go without cookies all together. I know they are in the freezer. But they are not calling me to eat them.

When I was working with Jump Start on the diet I did have sugar cravings a lot. Which is unusual for me because I usually crave salty snacks.

The dietitian I was working with told me that you should never crave anything. If you are craving food then your diet isn't balanced. I really found this to be true. When I followed the rules I didn't have those crazy cravings.

But following the rules is really hard. And keeping your hand out of the cookie jar is even harder - especially when you're married to a meanie like me. I guess!

What are your tricks to control your cravings?

Here's the recipe in case you want to make some cookies. I know. I'm an enabler. I can't help it.

Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1 t. salt

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, beating thoroughly. Sift flour then measure. Add salt and sift flour again. Add to creamed mixture, mixing only enough to combine ingredients. Taking a softball sized ball of dough roll out on floured board or on the counter to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters. Or, just scoop and place on a cookie sheet like I did. Press with a glass (buttered and dipped in sugar.) and decorate with sprinkles.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. (I use a silpat.) Decorate with colored sugar or nonpareils. Bake 375 degree for 8-10 minutes. or until just brown on the edges. Cool on racks. Store in an air tight tin.



Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Our kids don't think like us

by Kris Mulkey

This past weekend I was trying to get Elli to understand something and she said "Mom, stop. I don't think like you."

It literally silenced me. I stood in her doorway looking at her and thought, you're right. You don't think like me. That's why you have not opened the spreadsheet I put together for you which will help you get your fundraising effort organized.

You're creative and a free spirit. Most of the time I understand you. But today I don't. You are a complete alien to me.

Why did I think she would want a spreadsheet? Why have I been banging my head against the wall trying to get her to understand my point of view.

She doesn't care.

She wants to figure it out on her own. Her way. Which of course in my opinion is all wrong. But then again. I'm not 14. I'm the mother of a very smart "I know everything." 14 year old. Just like I was at one time.

So how do we communicate with these alien beings? How do I get her to realize how hard it will be to raise $4,500 for an International Relief Mission trip to Fiji which she wants to go on this summer.

She made this announcement to me last Thursday night after I picked her up from dance. She was talking so fast with excitement that she could barely contain herself. She told me she has always wanted to help people in another country who have been affected by tragedy. Of course this was news to me. I've never heard her say this. Ever.
But, ok. I liked that she wanted to do something charitable.

"So my friend Sienna and I are going to FIJI for two weeks to help the people of FIJI!!"


Uh, what? FIJI? Was there a disaster in FIJI that we missed.

"Daddy wants to go to FIJI. Can he go to? Do the people of FIJI need help?" I asked.

"Mom, I'm serious. My friend Grace went on a trip last year to help the elephants." she said.

"The elephants in FIJI?

"No. They were somewhere else. We're going to FIJI."

"Ok..........She probably just shoveled Elephant dung the whole time." I said. "You won't even pick up the dog poop."

"Elephants just eat hay so their poop is less stinky."

I just started laughing.

"Elli, their poop is the size of our dogs!" I couldn't help myself. Who is she kidding here?

"Well, we're going to FIJI. So it won't matter." she replied.

"Ok. You have to raise the money. Dad and I aren't funding your trip."

"It will probably be around three thousand dollars." I told her. Only I was wrong. It's actually closer to $4,500.

I am officially the fun buster.

There was silence in the car.

I've done tons of fundraising in my life so I started thinking of things she could do to raise money.

I put it all in a spreadsheet so I could see exactly how many babysitting jobs, car washes, pizza parties, and donations from friends and family it would take to get her there. And then I emailed it to her. I really thought it was the best way for her to understand just how hard this was going to be.

I kept bugging her to see if she read the spreadsheet I sent her. And that's when she basically told me to back off  and said "Mom, stop. I don't think like you."


She seems to have it all figured out. She's very convincing when giving her sales pitch. Of course she doesn't completely understand what she'll be doing in FIJI. All we know is that it's the cheapest trip and the shortest plane ride from California. We'll get to the details eventually. I'm sure.

So there you go.

My little alien is raising $4,500 for a trip to help the people of FIJI.

And I don't know shit.

I'm sure I'll be hitting you up for a donation soon.



Monday, February 1, 2016

How brand loyal are you?

by Kris Mulkey

I was getting ready this morning and for whatever reason started thinking about my favorite products (make up, nail polish, etc.) and how loyal I am to certain items from select brands. I am not loyal to one brand - but many brands for different reasons. There are items I absolutely will not switch. NO WAY. Then there are other items where I am not loyal at all. Is everyone like this? How hard would it be for a new brand to get me to switch?

Most of the items I've bought recently (and have become favorites) I was able to test first. Either with a makeover or free samples. There is a reason there are so many freebies at the make-up counter. It works!

Here are my current favorites:

1. LOREAL VOLUMINOUS LASHES MASCARA WATERPROOF BLACK - I discovered this mascara after complaining about the price of department store mascara to the clerk. She suggested I try Loreal because it was the equivalent. She was right! It doesn't clump when you apply it and doesn't smear on my face. And it's less than ten bucks. I'm not sure she's the best sales person (because she got me to switch to a drugstore brand) but oddly, I do have a favorable opinion of that department store because of her honesty.

2. OLAY REGENERIST MICRO-SCULPTING CREAM - I love how this feels on my skin. I tried the generic version and it was awful (too heavy and had a horrid smell.) So I never stray. Controlling the wrinkles on my face is a daily battle. Not messing around with this one!

3. CHANEL VITALUMIERE FOUNDATION - I got hooked on a few Chanel products after getting lured with a free makeover in Nordstrom. I am so glad I did. This foundation has a great feel on your skin, it's not sticky, it smells divine and gives the coverage I'm looking for. Plus it has SPF 15.

4. CHANEL UV ESSENTIEL - this is the most amazing sunscreen for your face. It's spf 50 and is a total splurge for me. I treat it like it's liquid gold. The little container is $50. But it works amazingly well. I don't want my face sunburned anymore and it does the trick. Plus the feel of it on your skin is like silk. And the smell is just so yummy.

5. CHANEL LIPSTICK - it's silky on your lips, not sticky and smells great. (I have a thing about how things smell in case you haven't noticed.)

5. ESSIE AND OPI - this nail polish stays on the longest and they have the best colors.

What don't I care as much about?

1. SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER - I want it to clean my hair and not leave it feeling heavy. I can barely tell the difference from the cheap stuff to the designer stuff. So I usually lean more towards the cheap. Our bathroom looks a bit like the shelf at CVS - a mish-mash of products.

2. EYE SHADOW - I have so many different brands. They all seem the same to me.

3. BLUSH - I've tried a lot of different brands. I'm convinced they are all the same with different packaging. Except for the smell. If it smells I'm not going to like it.

So, do I try new things? Of course!! They haven't made it to the loyalty column yet. But a few are on their way.

1. BENEFIT - I've tried their fake up eye concealer, tinted lip balm, lip tint, powder foundation, eye liner, and tinted eyelash primer. I'm kind of a sucker for new stuff. Plus Elli LOVES make-up and they have a super cute shop in downtown Mill Valley. We probably need supervision when we are in there.

2. ORIGINS lip crayons. I got a set of three for a Christmas gift and I love them. They go on silky, have no scent, and look great. I layer them with the Benefit gloss for some shine.

So, as you can see, I'm not completely loyal to any one brand. I can definitely be persuaded to switch brands with a free sample. If only we could test drive all products!!! Wouldn't that be great?

What about you? Are you loyal? Or a free spirit always trying new things?



Saturday, January 9, 2016

My new year's resolution for 2016

by Kris Mulkey

Last Saturday I thought I would write a post about new year's resolutions. I wrote and re-wrote the post three times. I was having trouble getting focused. Should it be about me, about work, about our family, a combination of those things? It wasn't coming together so I decided to give it a rest and come back to it later in the day. Or the next day.

I put on my workout clothes to go for a walk. It wasn't raining. The air was cold, but not uncomfortably so. The crisp air would feel great on a brisk walk down the hill, and back up again.

I took Sam, our chocolate lab, with me so he'd get a little exercise. I usually take Bentley our King Charles Cavalier because he's easier to manage. But he completely annoyed me the day before by pooping four times on our walk! I have no idea where all this poop comes from. But it really sucks carrying stinky poop bags so I decided to take Sam.

I had my headphones on with a little Katy Perry pumping in my ears when BAM Sam charged at a bird which flew out of a bush right in front of us. It completely caught me off guard because I was mindlessly walking along singing with Katy I got the eye of the tiger, the fire / Dancing through the fire / 'Cause I am a champion, and you're gonna hear / me roar /.........

Sam's leash was wrapped around my arm in such a way that the strong tug pulled me off the sidewalk and into the street - right on my knees. I broke the fall with my right knee, and twisted my left foot falling off the curb. I don't remember my hands touching the ground. I just remember the dog poop bag flying out of my hand. Because yes, Sam pooped within minutes of leaving. Just like his turd-ball brother. And somehow (miraculously) I did not drop my iphone. The music just blared in my ears. You held me down / but I got up (hey!) / Already brushing off the dust / You hear my voice / you hear that sound.....Seriously, I can't make this shit up.

My immediate reaction was what the F&@% just happened? I immediately looked around to see if anyone saw me. 'Cuz, wow. It was not a graceful fall. Then I thought how much that hurt! My knee was all scraped up and bleeding. My foot was throbbing. Sam was looking at me nervously. He knew he did something wrong. He started pacing by my side as he realized the walk was over. I just sat there stunned in the street.

I looked up and the dog poop bag was 10 feet ahead of me. 

I called Don to come get me. I told him I fell and didn't feel like walking anymore. Would he come get me. 

A car drove past as I was waiting. I watched to see if they would stop and ask if I needed help. They didn't.

I then thought I better get up before I get run over.

And then another car came up the hill.

I hobbled up and realized there was no way I could walk. I couldn't put any pressure on my foot at all.

The guy in this car stopped and asked if I needed help. He seemed very concerned and wanted to make sure someone was coming to get me. Very sweet.

Don arrived seconds later. I hobbled over and told him I thought I broke my foot.

Which I did, as confirmed by the emergency clinic. I fractured the fifth metatarsal bone. Now I have a lovely black boot on my leg for the next six weeks.

So I guess my new year's resolution is to slow down and appreciate what I have.

I really think I could have come to this conclusion without breaking my foot.

But maybe not.

What's your new year's resolution?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Easy Creme Brulee Recipe

This recipe is exactly what creme brulee is supposed to taste like. The custard is creamy with great vanilla flavor and the top is crisp, crunchy and sweet. You know it's perfect when you tap the sugar top with your spoon and it sounds like you're tapping on glass. Anything else is no good.

All you need is a little torch to crystallize the sugar so it turns into sugar glass. A double boiler will work in a pinch.

I used Alton Brown's recipe with one alteration. I didn't use a vanilla bean. I have some great vanilla paste that has the brown vanilla flecks in it so I used this instead. It works perfect. You can pick up a jar at Williams-Sonoma. It's way cheaper than buying vanilla beans and tastes great. I use it in the place of vanilla in practically every recipe that calls for vanilla.

Alton Brown's Creme Brulee
Click here for the recipe.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Cheesy scrambled eggs with spinach

I eat two eggs for breakfast every day so I'm always looking for a new way to make them. This egg scramble is quick, tasty and healthy! A handful of spinach and a dab of cream cheese make for one tasty plate of eggs.

Creamy Scrambled Eggs with Spinach
2 eggs
1T water
Handful of baby spinach
1t butter
1T cream cheese (Philadelphia Cream Cheese has the best taste)
Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper

Scramble the eggs with the water in a small dish. The eggs will get a little frothy.

Add the butter to a small saute pan. Heat over medium heat. Once the butter has melted add the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Let the eggs start to cook for about a minute. Gently fold the eggs. Add the spinach. Stir until the eggs are almost done. (Don't over stir. You want large bits of egg.) Take the pan off the burner. Add the cream cheese. Gently stir in. The heat from the pan will finish cooking the eggs and the spinach.

Serves 1
Ready in less than 5 minutes.

The pan: I like using a small non-stick saute pan. My favorite is the one from All Clad. But, I just discovered that our crepe pan (shown above) also works well! And I can just make my eggs after I've made Elli and Don their crepes.

The heat: make sure the pan doesn't get too hot. You don't want to brown the eggs. They won't be creamy.

The seasoning: try adding a little bit of seasoning salt. Not too much though. It has more sodium than salt!

Friday, January 1, 2016

I may be losing my mind

A funny thing happened at lunch yesterday.

There was hardly anyone in the office so I decided to take a leisurely lunch to kill a little time instead of eating at my desk like I usually do.

I walked over to Fog City Diner which is just a few blocks away. It has a nice bar area for us singles to eat at, and lots of people watching out the window.

They had a special lunch menu called the "Neighborhood Lunch" where you could choose a cup of potato soup or small Caesar salad and then either a albacore cheddar melt, sesame chicken salad or Southern fried chicken sandwich.

It seemed like a lot of food for lunch. But then I knew we'd be eating dinner late on New Year's Eve. And that potato soup sounded so good. So I ordered it. What the heck. I was going with the soup and the chicken sandwich. I'm by myself. Who would know except me and my ever growing waistline? And then I thought, "Oh, I'll just eat half the sandwich. It will make good leftovers." And that was that. Lunch was ordered.

I felt guilty ordering it the second the server walked away.

I shouldn't have ordered the soup. Too fattening.

I should have ordered the salad. What was I thinking? What is wrong with me?

I know what I was thinking. I was thinking how yummy that soup would be and the fried chicken would be juicy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Perfect on a cold winter's day.

I sat there drinking my iced tea, looking at the people outside, and felt really guilty.

What has happened to my will power? I used to be so strong. I could say no to the bread, fried chicken and yummy potato soup. It's like my brain is rebelling.

My brain and waistband are at odds with each other.

I should have ordered the salad.

And then the server appeared with the cutest little cup of soup. It had a delicious drizzle of olive oil on it and crispy little pieces of bacon. 

And then he set down a salad.

The sesame chicken salad.

I looked around suspiciously.

I looked at the salad.

I looked at the server.

I know I said fried chicken sandwich.

"Everything ok??" he said



How did that happen?

I am positive I said "Fried Chicken Sandwich" out loud. I know I did. Because the moment It rolled off my lips the guilt set in and I wondered if anyone heard me order it.

I didn't say a word. I just took the soup and salad as if I had ordered it.

It's like he could read my mind.

Or am I losing my mind? 

Did I order the salad?

We'll never know.